Saturday, December 27, 2014

June journey planning

The map is inaccurate but the itinerary is getting together.

Boone, NC
Chattanooga, TN
Birmingham, AL
Thibodaux, LA
Houston, TX
San Antonio, TX
Sailing near Austin?
Albuquerque, NM
Grand Canyon, AZ
San Diego, CA
Watsonville, CA
San Francisco, CA
Napa, CA
Portland, OR
Salt Lake City, UT
Denver, CO
Eagle Butte, SD
Kirksville, MO
St Louis, MO
Muskego, WI
Chicago, IL

Suggestions, invitations, warnings, and other thoughts are welcome in the comments!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This was a good Thanksgiving. Given nearly catastrophic weather predictions for Wednesday I decided to drive all night hoping to avoid the snow. That I did. I had to stop for a nap twice and am grateful to my guardian angel for keeping me alive when I got sleepy. I'd prefer to not do that very often.

I still don't think the turkey was totally cooked tho we didn't get sick. The thermometer said it was done.  Maybe it was just a tough turkey. It was a gift to an employee with whom we spent the holiday. The red hots in the apple sauce were abundant making it more like spicy cinnamon chunky sauce. It was really good that way. The sweet potato souffle, forgotten by the hostess when she left, hence available for us was awesome. I brought some home. Yum. The green bean casserole and smashed potatoes were also good. Then after an interval, we ate the pumpkin pie with an unlimited supply of foosh foosh and nobody to tell us we were using too much. Sorry I didn't take any photos except of the dog.
This is Kaya catching her tail and going round and round with it.

Here she is much quieter guarding the door.

I'm glad we don't have this here. Fortunately I had the twenty I needed to pay cash. Would our prices be lower if we had this option?

The drive home was quite lovely. There were slowdowns by shopping areas, especially the outlets near Tannersville. Otherwise everyone was in a hurry, most driving at least ten mph faster than the limit. The State Police made a huge haul near Lamar. One guy followed so closely that I could see everyone in the car but not the front of the car. Eventually he whipped around me on the right and drove alongside for a bit. I gestured that he could pull in front of me. Eventually he did and roared off. I prayed he was one of those caught but I didn't see him pulled over. My gas mileage was awful. The Prius doesn't like to go 72 or 75 in a headwind in winter. At all. But it will.

I hoped there would be a pretty sunset when I took these on 58. But there was no color at all. The sun just disappeared behind the clouds.

On a whim I messaged my Westminster Choir College German teacher Wednesday when I recovered. She responded and we had a long conversation. Next time I go to NJ we need to get together. I'm sure I'll find an excuse before next Thanksgiving. This really made the trip extra special!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Help the Cheyenne River Lakota and the people who minister to them

It is bitterly cold in Eagle Butte, South Dakota today, 17 November 2014, with a high of 6 predicted. People are freezing to death. If they had the resources, churches could be heated and opened. The Cheyenne River Episcopal Mission includes ten mission churches, many without heat beyond a wood stove, running water and/or electricity. Many of the people live in similar conditions. If we are to call ourselves "Christians" or followers of Jesus, how can we allow these conditions to exist?

Learn more about life in the Cheyenne River Mission here.

Please open your checkbook and your heart and send funds to:
The Diocese of South Dakota - 500 S. Main Avenue - Sioux Falls, SD 57104-6814.
Please make sure that you indicate it is for the Cheyenne River !!!!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

St Paul's Episcopal Church, Mayville, NY, Sunday, 16 November 2014

Another adventure over new roads today took me thru Sherman, NY. The road to Mayville is like a kiddo's roller coaster - gentle hills - unlike some of the NW PA roads I've driven that are more like Cedar Point scary at speed. The day began with blue skies but clouds moved in during church.

St Paul's Episcopal Church is on Erie St and easy to find.

The front door leads into a small vestibule where there is a visitor's book but no writing utensil. A turn to the right goes into the church. Go straight across the back and down the steps to the parish hall. Several people spoke but I needed the necessary room which was at the bottom of said steps. When I returned the choir was gathering. I had to move people to get to the pews. The usher(s) welcomed me.

As soon as I sat down the crucifer came and introduced herself then invited me to coffee hour. People were all friendly. Apparently attendance was down a bit possibly because of the weather. I didn't count. There are something like 50 families in the parish. The racks in the pews held two BCPs and one hymnal each. There were card holders but most were empty tho I saw something a few rows down. I didn't investigate. There were lots of tiny pencils tho.

During the prelude the choir and others chatted rather noisily at the back. It was distracting and a little rude, I thought. Several people commented on how they loved the prelude. I wondered how much they heard. The lay reader was good. She read as if she were telling a story - my preference. The crucifer carried a candle rather than a cross during the Gospel procession. They sang something after the Gospel. The words were in the bulletin but no music. The sermon was about all of us being Jesus's "lieutenants" or stand-ins until he returns and that we should not bury our talents. The choir had six people and the priest sang with them. The crucifer was the eucharistic minister. There were no acolytes. At the end they sang something and again the words were in the bulletin without music. That was a bit irritating for this visitor who likes to sing. How about a pew card or the tunes pasted in the hymnals? After the eucharist a number of prayer shawls were blessed then two were taken to people in church. They seemed surprised and grateful.

It is always good to sit down by someone at coffee hour and have them actually make conversation rather than just say hello then talk to a friend or family. When I complimented them on their friendliness they said membership fluctuates occasionally between St Pauls and St Peters Westfield depending on who is being more welcoming at the moment. One woman and I had a long conversation about Chautauqua Institution, especially the Amphitheater plans. The banana chocolate chip cupcakes were sinful. They make good coffee too. And they said they love their new priest.

The windows are bright and lovely. Some on the sunny side were too washed out to post. My overall impression was that the church was quite dark but the windows helped. I learned that they have had them cleaned and reinstalled. I'm soooooo jealous. Christ Church Meadville needs that done desperately.

The priest's daughter was waiting for choir practice and the vestry meeting to end.

The organist was rehearsing the choir men. They are very happy to have a competent organist again.

The church owns the house next door and use it for their outreach activities including their food pantry.

By the end of church, the clouds had thickened making Chautauqua Lake look desolate.

I've always wondered why gulls like parking lots. The casino had hundreds of them. These were in a plaza in Erie on the way home. They did not want to move out of the way.

Yes, I know I said last Sunday would probably be my last new church adventure. I'm a prevaricator. And it may happen yet again. There are plenty of Episcopal churches left to visit tho most are a long distance and it is winter in NW PA now. I'm getting pressure to return to my "home" parish but I'm not getting much encouragement that conditions have improved enough yet. C'mon, folks, step up and get involved. If and when I do return, I will not be doing most of what I was. Where is the newsletter? Who is taking care of the Facebook page and the website? Where are the new lay readers and eucharistic ministers and acolytes? I love all y'all but I believe that church is more than an occasional Sunday morning. Church is a community brought together to serve each other and those outside the walls.

Church Visitations

St Paul's Episcopal Church, Mayville, NY
Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, Warren, PA
Memorial Church of Our Father, Foxburg, PA
St John's Episcopal Church, Sharon, PA - Revisit
St Richard's Episcopal Church, Winter Park, FL
St George Episcopal Church, The Villages, FL - photos only
St Paul's Episcopal Church, Mt Lebanon, PA
St James Episcopal Church, Titusville, PA
St Peter's Episcopal Church III, Westfield, NY
St Mark's Episcopal Church, Erie PA
St John's Episcopal Church, Youngstown, OH
St John's Episcopal Church, Sharon, PA
Christ Church, Warren, OH
St Paul's Episcopal Church, Medina, OH
St James Episcopal Church, Painesville, OH
Emmanuel Episcopal Church, Corry, PA
St Mary's Episcopal Church II, Lawrence Park (Erie) , PA
The Episcopal Cathedral of St Paul, Erie, PA
Christ Church, Oil City, PA
St David's Episcopal Church, Cranbury, NJ
St Peter's Episcopal Church, Waterford, PA
St Stephen's Episcopal Church, Fairview, PA
St Peter's Episcopal Church II, Westfield, NY
St John's Episcopal Church, Franklin, PA
Grace Church, Ridgway, PA
St Mary's Episcopal Church I, Lawrence Park (Erie), PA
Episcopal Church of the Epiphany, Grove, City, PA
St Augustine of Canterbury, Edinboro, PA
St Luke's Episcopal Church, Jamestown, NY

Friday, November 14, 2014

A doggy day

Six dog encounters today. The first two are Jim's dog. He's huge. The next two are Peg's dog. He isn't as large and insisted in sitting as close to my leg as possible. The last two are Bronnie's Dandie Dinmont Terriers. They are tiny compared to the other two.

Monday, November 10, 2014

A Sunday on the road - 9 November 2014

St Paul's Episcopal Church in Medina, OH was my first destination. I had visited there before. The priest is an internet friend and an excellent preacher tho he didn't preach yesterday. It was the second pledge Sunday I've encountered this fall. The man who presented the plea was pretty funny if a little long-winded. 

Another woman was entering from the parking lot when I was. She said she hoped she could find someone to tell her when to sit, stand and kneel during the service. She has been quite confused. I told her I was a visitor but she was welcome to sit with me. Inside we met the priest who told her I was a good one to help her. St Paul's does not put sitting and standing cues in the bulletin because they don't believe it is important and they don't want to pressure anyone who might have a disability - or so I was told. She peppered me with questions before the service. I answered as best I could. She has an EUB/RCC/Methodist background so Episcopal tolerance amazes and excites her. She said she will join the church. Yea. One by one. But someone must be willing to be friendly and helpful!

After church I had lunch at Panera before getting on the road to a funeral in Bowling Green. Margaret Carl Trantham lived with us for a bit in the dorm as a grad student at Westminster Choir College. I worked in the theory lab and knew the professors well. One of those was a very cute youngish Gene Trantham. Separately they indicated interest in the other. Being an incurable romantic, I had fun finding ways to get them together. It worked. They have two sons. Unfortunately cancer shortened Margaret's life far too soon. 

Gene was surprised to see me. I was surprised he remembered my name. The rooms set aside were far too small for the crowd. There were well more than a hundred people of all ages there. Margaret's multi-year battle and generous interactions with other sufferers inspired even a woman from South Carolina to attend. I couldn't hear most of what was spoken. By the end there was much restlessness at the back where I was partly because we couldn't hear. I knew the first two of nine hymns. The rest were completely new to me. The singing was great where I was tho others seemed to be as lost as I was in one of the hymns. I suspect there were BGSU choir kids there as the person playing the funeral home toaster was one of their conductors.

On the way out I spoke to the aforementioned conductor. We'd never met but I'd heard of him for years. He didn't know most of the hymns either. I didn't know he is from Meadville. He was happy to meet me because he had seen Meadville on my car earlier. We didn't have enough time to gossip. I'll have to return to visit with him and with Gene.

Altho I was invited to the dinner, I thought the better part of valor was getting as far toward home as possible during daylight. It was a 400 mile, 13 hour day for me. Next time I hope to attend a concert and stay all night somewhere.

It's embigginable. If you can't read it, let me know. The hymns were also included so I can send the references if you want them.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Reflections on the 104th annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Northwestern Pennsylvania, 7-8 November 2014

Good convention. Having sessions in the sanctuary of the UMC church next door to the smaller facilities at St John's Episcopal in Sharon, PA was a little odd and awkward but more than adequate. It was a bit difficult to take notes and those of us with laptops had to balance them on our knees. Not to mention the lack of wifi - which we will have next year. I missed the sociability of having another parish at the table and getting to know people we might otherwise never encounter. Of course it prevented someone I won't identify from once again being somewhat disrespectful during speakers. All in all everyone could see and hear and that was good.

Dear convention planners: PLEASE make readable nametags next year!!! We don't need to know where it is, just who we are in large print.

I LOVE Facebook!!! A person I've known online for several years visited and we got to meet in person for the first time. He's a priest in the Episcopal Diocese of Bethlehem, PA with whom we share a bishop. I think I was one of the few outside the Standing Committee who knew him. He's a great guy with lots of good ideas and a wonderful sense of humor. 8-)

I also know the emissary from the Episcopal Diocese of Western NY. She is one of my favorite preachers. Even after I choose a parish home, I will take time to visit St Peters in Westfield, NY occasionally. Our guys got married there before their marriage was legal in PA.

As my friends know, I've been away from Christ Church Meadville for a year this weekend. As a very burned out bishop's warden, I needed to escape. I was goaded into doing that by people in a parish at which I'm no longer welcome. That situation will never be remedied, reconciled or whatever unfortunately. I feel terrible as I had no intention of ever doing anything hurtful. I care very deeply and always will as the other is not healthy. Our energies/life forces are permanently entangled meaning that the other is rarely out of my thoughts and prayers. I still light a votive whenever the opportunity present itself. A brief greeting this morning with another person who had until today turned her back to me felt good. Hopefully part of that situation is relaxed a bit if not healed.

The separation has been good for me however as I could have been tied there. I've enjoyed being a vagabond. Visiting churches is enlightening. Seeing how others do the service and the eucharist is always fascinating. Experiencing the friendliness of or lack thereof by people is a lesson to be learned and someday applied elsewhere. At convention I was able to see many of those people again. Perhaps renewal and establishment of new relationships among the laity are one of the best parts of the annual gathering and should be encouraged?

Congratulations, planners, on a well run event. All went smoothly - at least from my point of view. The speakers were good and had valuable messages. Our time was wisely used. One newbie was shocked that we could get the eucharist done in such short order. The dinner was good tho kinda 'spensive. Letting everyone eat immediately rather than sit around waiting was wonderful. Congratulations, "old" friend Loi on receiving the Bishop's Cross for long faithful service to the church and the diocese.

Now on to the 100th anniversary of the cathedral in 2015.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church, Warren, PA - 2 November 2014

The morning was cold. Brrr. I succumbed and wore a winter coat for the first time. The cat water wasn't frozen and we had no snow that I know of. Just north of Meadville I began to see traces of the white stuff mostly on unheated roofs. The sun was in and out. The drive to Trinity Memorial Episcopal Church in Warren, PA included some very narrow roads which required getting onto the berm slightly to pass. I only saw one Amish buggy tho there are many families along that back country route. It's a beautiful drive whichever roads you take.

I seem to have saved the best congregation for last in my year long wandering among mostly Diocese of NW PA Episcopal churches. Yes, you will remember that I was greeted by name at St Mark's in Erie but that was prepared, not spontaneous. Today nobody knew me, not even the priest, but everyone acknowledged my presence with smiles, greetings or long distance nods. They knew I was a visitor and they did their best to be welcoming. After the eucharist many people said they were happy to see me and started short conversations. At coffee hour I had an extended one with a gentleman with whom I have mutual friends. I left with warm feelings about that congregation. Of course it is 2 hours from home so I probably won't be back, especially since I plan to settle somewhere in January.

I regret not taking more photos so people who may never get there can see more of the beautiful building. I was preoccupied by people.

The front of the chancel is really light and didn't photograph well. Had thought about it I would have tried to take a photo with flash to see if it was more visible. I was surprised to see green on All Saints but it is an option. The boxes under the altar are "shoeboxes" for children for Christmas.

The organ was not used today and was dark. This photo of it was from 2010, I believe at the priest's installation. I took a photo of the pianist and the opposite alcove but it is one of those mistakes that aren't worth publishing. Speaking of the pianist, he is pretty good. He played and sang during the offering. He seemed to be too close to the mic so I couldn't understand the words. His voice was ok otherwise. There was no choir. The congregation sang pretty well.

No, the priest is not holding up that blue ball. Ha.

I took the long way home, choosing to follow the Allegheny River to Tidioute before wandering thru more back county to Titusville then on to Meadville. It was a beautiful afternoon.

This is probably the last visitation I will make to a "new" parish. There are others I would like to see and meet but most are farther than I care to travel in winter. There are several I would love to join but they are too far to really get involved. I plan to revisit the churches I have learned to care about before January. I hope to settle somewhere after the first of the year but I'm not making promises.

Thank you to all those who have greeted me, embraced me, ignored me, endured me, advised me these last dozen months. I'll see many of you next week at convention.

The list of churches I've visited with links to my photos and thoughts follows this post.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday, 12 October 2014, photos of our world

Today was a gorgeous sparkling colorful October day in northwestern Pennsylvania. Frost made the grass look like it was covered with snow until the sun hit it. Fog obscured everything where warmish water existed. In New York large strange metal creatures inched along the vineyards. Unfortunately none were close enough to the road to be visible in a photo. Traffic on 20 was slowed by trucks of all sorts hauling the ripened fruit. 

This was my windshield this morning - from the inside.

The grass across the road was white and looked like snow had fallen.

This leaf is suspended in spider silk.

The moon was bright.

Pymatuning was missing.

The golf course was also white. There is a flock of geese to be seen if you embiggen the photo.

The Hartstown swamp was also missing.

Into the abyss on 79.

Then lovely clouds on the way home.

Looking toward the dam on a walk after church.

And here it is again. This time there are purplish wispy plumes on top of the stalks. Those do not look like sorghum seedpods. It looks more like the plants that proliferate along the interstates and other roads.