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Howdy. We've moved from Cayce, but St. Elizabeth of South Rose Hill or Lizette de Waccamaw de Sud just don't do it for me.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Izzy's Trip Report

Copied to me & his rabid biker buddies (a great group, all of them...names changed for the post)

Well, I learned a couple of things yesterday, including the new corrections for odo and speedo with the E3 60 series rear on the Leanabago.

The most important thing I learned was not to do this during the school year. I had been banking sleep as well as I could, but that's still hard to do while teaching. This will be the shortest ride I've registered, but I've come out of it more wiped-out than with any other ride, registered or not. I was picturing cooking a nice spinach & feta omelet when i got home, but I wobbled into the house feeling punch-drunk and fell asleep sitting up on the couch. When Lizzie came in from the hospital fifteen minutes later, I had slumped over to the side in an extremely awkward position, forehead on the armrest near my thigh. And I've been making odd mistakes all day. So future LD rides will have to be with at least a week of no classes and full nights of sleep behind me.

I had already clocked the odo on short runs, comparing it with the green mile markers. Ten miles on the markers got me 10.4 on the odo. About what I had expected from using the original Dunnies (250s), where the odo ran 3.7% optimistic. Yesterday, I was able to check on a couple of legs of the trip, and at 50 and 100 miles of markers going by, the odo is nearly exactly 4% optimistic. So I'll give my stats here both as indicated and as corrected.

The speedo I marked against Rider 1's GPS. On the final leg, I led after Rider 3 turned off for home, and I locked my cruise control at an indicated 70 mph in a 65 zone (I-385) and 75 in a 70 zone (I-26). Rider 1 says that his GPS told him I was right on the speed limit in both zones, so about a 5 mph correction at highway speeds. This means I'll probably run at an indicated 7-8 mph over posted speed on the freeways, ~5 mph over on surface streets. All other things being equal, I like to stay within 5 mph of posted. (There are places where the flow of traffic is simply too fast to allow this rather sedate habit, but I DID say "all other things being equal.")

So, here are my stats for the ride, which should be identical with Rider 1's ride since we started and ended at the same place.

From the Exxon at I-20 exit 61 back to the same Exxon:

1065.5 miles indicated / 1024.5 corrected 18 hours, 35 minutes (3:55 AM to 10:30 PM) 27.64 gallons of gas at $78.15 (avg. $2.827 / gallon) 38.55 mpg indicated / 37.07 corrected

Best gas price of the day was the Murphy Gas in Walterboro, but I'm not sure I'd hop down that curb to get it again. (Yes, that's right, folks -- even on an IBA run, Rider 1 had to lead us over a little bit of a dirt road to make a non-traditional entrance to a gas station.) $2.719/gallon. Most expensive was $2.889/gallon at the Shell station at Pedro's South of the Border. Anyone surprised? Show of hands? Anyone?

Also unsurprising was the leg with best fuel economy. Rock Hill to Lavonia, GA (the Amoco at exit 1 has gone out of business, so we pushed 2 miles over the border to a BP at Dad's Restuarant). The first bit of this leg was our only non-interstate leg, getting from I-77 over to I-85 via SC-5. Wisdom has it that lower speeds = better economy. I got 40.21 / 38.76 mpg on this leg, which would have been even better had not every single traffic light turned red as we approached. But my next best mileage was on the very next (and very last) leg -- I-85 to I-385 to I-26 to I-20 to the Exxon at US-378. All highway speed and 39.31 / 37.79 mpg. I think the fuel economy was so good here because I had cruise control locked from mid-385 to the Exxon. Less accel/decel = better mileage.

The leg with worst economy for me was the short hop down I-95 from Walterboro to Hardeeville. 36.71 indicated / 35.30 corrected. I have no idea why this leg went lower mileage unless it has something to do with the cheap no-name gas we picked up at the site of our short off-road excursion. Next lowest economy was the only windy leg, from Pedro's over to Rock Hill. 37.32 / 35.89 mpg.

Two things we have to tell the IBA people.

1) We left the state three times. Two times were up at Pedro's. You actually exit in NC then come back into SC where the little tourist Mecca mostly lives. Then you leave SC and get back on the highway in NC before heading back south. So those two add up to yards rather than miles. The third time was when we got off of I-85 at exit 1 and found that the Amoco had gone out of business. Rather than back-tracking to exit 4, we went two miles into GA (exit 177), gassed up, and headed back. I hope they don't count this little 4 mile round-trip against us. We have plenty of in-state miles on the day anyway, so we should be OK.

2) Three of us have a few extra miles on the odo for the leg going from the GA/SC border on I-95 to Charleston. We had meant to have Rider 4 take point as we got into Charleston since we were on his stomping grounds. Instead, he was riding tailgunner. And since he knew what he was doing, he was the only one not fooled by signs. The other three of us got off the highway too soon, had to backtrack from Slightly North of Broad back to the highway, get across the Ravenel Bridge, and then make a short tour of gas stations looking for Rider 4 while trying to get him by phone.

He had crossed the bridge, gassed up, and sensibly gone to sit by the side of the road under a bridge where he knew we had to pass to continue on our I-526 route out of town. When Rider 1 finally talked to him, we fueled up and went to meet him. But if I've remembered and mapped our little detours properly, Google Earth puts the two extra bits at under 3 miles combined (perhaps Rider 1's GPS can say more). So we did more to affect our time than to to affect our miles while we were suffering our little bit of separation anxiety.

So thar 'tis. I look forward to seeing Rider 5's pix, and thank her and Rider 6 for meeting us and handing out the power bars. I wish you could have made the whole trip, guys. And I'm sure the other three riders will understand when I say, "thanks for the camaraderie, but leave me alone while I take another nap."


Saturday's Adventures

Izzy and I had interesting, exhausting Saturdays. His was one that bears repeating sometime...

In pursuit of another Iron Butt Certification (cool pin included!), Izzy and three other guys set off in the very wee hours (3 something AM?) for a 1000 mile ride in SC. They covered all the Interstates and a few other roads. Back around 10:30 PM.

I started this blog just before Izzy went on his first IBA ride--the 50 CC (coast to coast in under 50 hours.) Whilst on that ride, he also earned recognition for passing 1500 miles in one day and 2000 miles in two days.

This ride was a bit more tiring than some of this other marathon riding days, since it was done in the middle of the semester. He looks like he's recovered. He has two big rides planned before we head to Italy: one to our annual Blue Ridge Parkway weekend (2006 trip here) and one to New Jersey for work and to visit old friends.

I went to a jewelry party Saturday. My youngest sister has decided to become a "Jewelry Lady" and I went to her first party on her own to be a support. S3's husband (S3H) and a friend took off in the mini-van with the kids (friend's sorta step-son, and S3's kids -- the boys S3S2 (age 12), S3S3 (age 5) and daughter S3D1 (age 3 1/2.)) They stopped for "Bug Juice" and headed to the computer store.

Back at the party: after intros and itty-bitty sandwiches, we had started a get-to-know-you game (it helps to relax people before asking them to part with $$), when the phone rang. A friend (strategically positioned to screen calls) answered and immediately handed the phone to S3. From the look on her face and words we could hear (hit, head-on, eye, hurt) we knew something really bad had happened.

S3 and two friends jumped up -- party's over folks (it seemed to take the official sponsor lady a bit to realize that nothing would be resuming -- but she got the point soon enough.) S3 was in no shape to drive, so a friend drove her to the accident site. Another friend, whose son and boyfriend were also in the van headed out, as well.

Mom and I were told to stay at the house and wait for any phone calls and to collect clothes to take wherever the family was going to go. We got directions once the ambulance crew made a decision, and headed up to an urgent care.

From what we could see when we passed the accident site, and what was described by S3H, the minivan was headed northbound on a narrow two-lane road, with no shoulder. A southbound vehicle was traveling slowly, preparing to turn right. An SUV with several teens decided to go around the slower vehicle, and they pulled into the northbound lane about one car length in front of the family minivan. S3H managed to swerve just a bit, so that the crash impact was driver to driver (versus full head-on.) The SUV went airborne, landing briefly upside down on the minivan, then upside down in the ditch in a bit of a crumple.

Everyone walked out of both vehicles; help was readily available since the accident occurred right in front of the new fire station. The most seriously injured were those on the driver's side which took the brunt of the impacts. On our way to the urgent care, Mom and I saw the minivan on a tow truck (crumpled front, lots of broken glass) and the SUV upside down in the ditch.

1st Moral of the Story: showing up at an urgent care center in an ambulance does not help you get care any faster.

Registration took 15-20 minutes per person, and could only be done consecutively, not concurrently. We had plenty of adults, so one of us stayed with each child for exams, tests, etc. I think S3S2 and I bonded in the ER, especially when I informed the MD of relevant bits of his medical history that he'd forgotten. I stuck with him for X-rays, watched Nickelodeon, and took him to Subway when we got to the next hospital.

S3D1's injuries were more severe and she was taken by ambulance from the urgent care to the local Peds ER for CAT scans and better exam of her eye, which could not be opened. We caravanned the other family members over, once all were discharged and given follow-up appointments. S3's friends ended up with scrapes, foot brace, and one guy will likely need chiropractic care for a while.

I stayed with Sis & Hubby & niece in the Peds ER until she was finally discharged, after lots of tests, lots of drama (hungry, tired three year olds with broken cheek bones and eyes swollen shut are still remarkably resistant to having IV's started!), and a final determination that her eye had sustained no permanent damage. Mom took S3S2 home to get ready for church in AM; another adult niece took home the five year old nephew; oldest sis left once things were more settled; her place was taken quickly by B3, back from Georgia. S3H's brother arranged to get the van to wherever totalled vans go and got a new van to the hospital.

Moral Number 2: It's great to have a large family in a crisis -- there's someone to take care of nearly everything.

Final tally for the MyFoos:

  • Van: Totalled
  • Pops: hand sprained, scads of cuts and bruises, facial burn from airbag (I was really surprised that the urgent care did not wound care whatsoever!)
  • S3S2: Broken Right 2nd metacarpal bone (meaning he'll take end-of-grade tests orally), clavicle OK under major seat belt abrasion, more scrapes and bruises.
  • S3S3: Seated on the passenger side in his car seat, he got a few bruises and was covered in "Bug Juice." Not bad.
  • S3D1: Hand sprained & swollen, no breaks; right cheekbone fracture, right eye and all neuro testing OK (her eye finally opened this PM), scary bruising that frightened her today.
  • S3: Long day, more trips in new minivan to more appointments...bite to lip sustained when daughter's IV started (the child had only one weapon, and she used it...)

Due to a requirement to have her first jewelry party (sales pitches and all) within 30 days of signing on with the company, S3 had to re-scheduled the party for tomorrow. Mom and S2 will be there--the kids will be safely in school and off of the roads.

Moral Number Three: Insert your own here. I'm thinking something about Guardian Angels (good), pettiness of some business models (bad), etc.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Tough to Take

On Wednesday, Roger Ebert opened his annual Overlooked Film Festival. He's not able to speak, though, due to the tracheostomy.

He's had a tough time since his surgery for cancer of the salivary gland. While admitting he's "not a pretty boy anymore", he also reminds us that we spend too much time hiding illness.

So let’s talk turkey. What will I look like? To paraphrase a line from “Raging Bull,” I ain’t a pretty boy no more. (Not that I ever was. The original appeal of Siskel & Ebert was that we didn’t look like we belonged on TV.)

What happened was, cancer of the salivary gland spread to my right lower jaw. A segment of the mandible was removed. Two operations to replace the missing segment were unsuccessful, both leading to unanticipated bleeding.

A tracheostomy was necessary so, for the time being, I cannot speak. I make do with written notes and a lot of hand waving and eye-rolling. The doctors now plan an approach that does not involve the risk of unplanned bleeding. If all goes well, my speech will be restored.
We spend too much time hiding illness. There is an assumption that I must always look the same. I hope to look better than I look now. But I’m not going to miss my Festival.

Why do I want to go? Above all, to see the movies. Then to meet old friends and reatg directors and personally thank all the loyal audience members who continue to support the Festival. At least, not being able to speak, I am spared the need to explain why every film is “overlooked,” or why I wrote “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.”

Being sick is no fun. But you can have fun while you’re sick. I wouldn’t miss the Festival for anything!

P.S. To Gossip Rags: I have some back pain, and to make it easier for me to sit through screenings, the Festival has installed my very own La-Z-Boy chair. Photos of me in the chair should be captioned, “La-Z-Critic.”
I'm glad Roger continues to recover--we've missed his humor. My fave of his reviews:
"Mad Dog Time" is the first movie I have seen that does not improve on the sight of a blank screen viewed for the same length of time. Oh, I've seen bad movies before. But they usually made me care about how bad they were. Watching "Mad Dog Time" is like waiting for the bus in a city where you're not sure they have a bus line. ...

What were they thinking of? Dreyfuss is the executive producer. He's been in some good movies. Did he think this was a script? The actors perform their lines like condemned prisoners. The most ethical guy on the production must have been Norman Hollyn, the editor, because he didn't cut anybody out, and there must have been people willing to do him big favors to get out of this movie.

"Mad Dog Time" should be cut into free ukulele picks for the poor. (Best negative review, ever!)
Good for Roger for the honesty, as well. I'm just sad to realize that we'll likely never again hear his movie reviews on TV.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Internet Finds & Miscellany

Rosie O'Donnell's Blog (read for the free verse)

Website for the Prince of Wales in Welsh

Newest Messiah Claimant: The Man Jesus Christ / JesuChristo Hombre
(More on this guy in a post I'm writing)

I'm planning to go see Ashley Cleveland again tomorrow night at Pavilion.

Finally, not a find but a realization: It's now been over a year since I last heard from the fine folks at St. Matthew's Churches (see their "Cathedral" this page: where is the address, anyway??)

Dems Debate

Just concluded watching the Democratic Candidates Debate from SC State.

Folks who definitely looked presidential (and this is mostly what you get from short answer events like this one) included Clinton, Obama, Dodd, Edwards, maybe Biden.

Not yet: Richardson.

Not: Kucinich.

Really, really not: Gravel.

Best moment: Brian Williams mentioned to Senator Biden that he'd been referred to as a "gaffe machine" (or something to that effect), and asked if he could assure the American people that he would have the restraint needed for diplomacy on the world stage. Answer: "Yes."

After 5-7 seconds of silence, Williams went on to his next question.

2nd best moment: When Obama told Kucinich "Let me finish" and stopped the interruptions wherein Kucinich was trying to make his point yet again about the Iraq war.

Most reassuring moment: Gravel promises not to launch a unilateral nuclear war. I feel better, now.

Summary (points made strongly or over and over...):
1. Votes for Iraq war = mistake. (OK, so what happens when we pull our soldiers out on January 20, 2009, as several suggested?)
2. "Abortion should be safe, legal, rare..." However, no one addressed that the specific procedure banned by SCOTUS is certainly not one that most women would "choose" to end a pregnancy if it were fully explained to them. No one "leaving the reservation" on this topic tonight.
3. The Confederate flag belongs in a museum.
4. Paying for $400 haircuts from campaign = mistake.
5. Hillary Clinton was the Senator from New York on 9-11.
6. Westerners likes them some guns.
7. Mentally ill people shouldn't shoot up colleges (actually, without reading a transcript, I'm not sure anyone really answered the gun control question with respect to massacres.)
8. Stubbornness is not a good foreign policy.
9. John Edwards was the son of a poor mill worker (poor = impoverished, not inept.)
10. Gravel is afraid of several folks who were on the panel tonight -- didn't specify whom, though.

What was needed was a 2nd moderator/questioner who could say things like "non-responsive, move to strike" or "answer the question, already" or the other comments heard here in the House of Chez Casa.

I'll poke around later to see what the chattering classes and talking heads thought...Izzy turned away from the commentary to "The Office." Great ending with Dwight impersonating Jim.

Update: When asked which Candidates he was afraid of (or concerned about??) Gravel answered: "the first tier ones." Biden raised his hand, I assume to be sure he was included in that group. Great moment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Literary Meme

From a friend who share's Izzy's literary tastes:

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open it to page 161.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.
5. Don't search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what's actually next to you.

Feel free to post your sentence in the comments, here, too.

Here's mine:

"Alas, the roses will fade!" said the Neapolitan, archly.

Followed by this 6th sentence:

Thus conversing, they wore away the hours; the lovers conscious only of the brightness and the smiles of love; the blind girl feeling only its darkness---its tortures; ---the fierceness of jealousy and its woe!

The Last Days of Pompeii, 1835 (my copy printed 1892)
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton, Bart. (as the name occurs on the title page of my edition)

Great Victorian prose, vintage Lytton.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Worst Album Covers Ever paraphrase Comic Book Guy.

Something a bit lighter tonight. HT to Tim G, Paulist novice brother of Gashwin.
How to pick a fave?

Strong contender: I assume Brass Music?

The Winner! Gotta be this one. Ethel Merman & Disco? What's not to love?
In case you check out the site and wonder if the covers are real...

My Mom has this one somewhere...
Final Note: Pix posted large, since that was always the point of album art.

Truth from Dr. Seuss

Lots of folks blogged Thursday and Friday of last week about the SCOTUS decision to uphold a ban on partial birth abortions. I read some of those posts Friday, while waiting for call-backs on yet another food-borne outbreak.

I have nothing to add to those psts; there's enough out there describing this procedure, which only arose from haste and laziness, and which has no place in a civilized society or humane medical practice. It is not "choice" is barbarism.

I had this issue floating in the back of my head Friday night as we sat in the audience for the school musical: Seussical, Jr. (based on Seussical, the Musical.)

All the while that Little Jojo (a Who from Who-ville) was being encouraged to be an independent thinker...

If you open your mind,
Oh, the Thinks you will find
Lining up to get loose!
Oh, the Thinks you can think!
Oh, the Thinks you can think
When you think about Seuss!!
...we in the audience are being reminded over and over again by Horton the elephant that:
A person's a person, no matter how small.
Think for yourself AND defend the powerless. Some would find that contradictory; I find it wonderfully subversive and counter cultural. Stand up for what is right, even if you are called:
The biggest blame fool in the jungle of Nool.
Sounds like the recipe for creating more saints in our time.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Riverwalk Stroll

Congaree Riverwalk, 3rd Sunday in Easter, 2007-04

Izzy and I went strolling down the expanded section of the Riverwalk this afternoon and came across this structure.

Congaree Riverwalk, 3rd Sunday in Easter, 2007-15

Google Earth puts it at Latitude 33°58'20.96"N and Longitude 81° 2'34.98"W.

One bit of Riverwalk publicity I read calls the area the Government Lock. It makes sense that it was used for navigation. Another article refers to the "Granby Dam and Lock." There is definitely something just below the water line (at today's level) that look like it might be a dam. Fishing boats seemed to be doing OK with navigation, though.

I've never noticed this before on maps; nor paid attention to what is an important feature of local geography--it looks like it's between two quarries. Certainly the presence of "Quarry Street" in Olympia would point to that.
This evening, it took minimal effort to uncover that the structure we saw (but didn't climb down this ladder to see...

Congaree Riverwalk, 3rd Sunday in Easter, 2007-23

...was the Granby Lock. It's apparently been important to local navigation.

From the Department of Natural Resources:
(I know at least two folks who love this sort of report...)

The Granby Dam is situated in a relatively narrow part of the Congaree River, approximately 9,200 feet downstream of the Gervais Street bridge and 4,000 feet upstream of the Barney Jordan boat landing located near the end of Rosewood Drive in Richland County. The steel-and concrete dam, which has a roughly southwest-northeast orientation, is about 3½ feet high and extends for 375 feet from the eastern (Richland County) bank of the river to the upstream end of the concrete “island” that defines the lock passage. The lock, bounded on its sides by two large concrete structures, has a uniform width of 55 feet and is located along the western (Lexington County) bank of the river. The concrete “island” that separates the lock from the dam is about 20 feet high, 15 feet wide, and 235 feet long. At the upstream end of this island is a wedge-shaped structure of timber and riprap that extends 110 feet upstream from the concrete island. It is at the tip of this extension that the river flow splits into two sections—the lock channel and the dam area—giving the lock channel an effective length of 345 feet.

Congaree Riverwalk, 3rd Sunday in Easter, 2007-28
Wedge-shaped structure of timber and riprap....


Without the dam, the water-surface elevation of the river upstream of the dam/lock area would return to “natural” levels. This means that, during very low flows, water depths would be lower by as much as 2 feet near the dam and lock and as much as 1 foot near the railroad bridges located 2,000 feet upstream of the dam. In this upstream section of the river, there are many boulders and rock outcrops already exposed during low flows; decreasing the water level by 1 foot would result in more rocks being exposed or coming very close to the water surface. Navigation through
this section of the river may become more difficult or hazardous when the river is at a very low stage.
Interesting what you discover when you go for a stroll.

Congaree Riverwalk, 3rd Sunday in Easter, 2007-12

More at the Flicker site.

More Dress-Up

We went to the Prom Saturday --arrived on the bike, in case you're curious.

I had the cheapie camera with me, so this is the only documentation of us "cleaned up" until we get the professional shot. We're oddly fuzzy and blue in the deck lighting.

The kids looked like they were having a great time. Most of the tuxedo jackets were draped over folding chairs by about an hour into the dance -- we wondered how they would get back to the correct renters.

One of Izzy's colleagues remarked: Tuxedos at the Prom are like Birkenstocks at a Grateful Dead Concert. At the end of the night, everyone goes home wearing something.

I like that thought...

In the photo on the right, there is a screen where the kids are watching photos of themselves taken just a few moments before.
Izzy suggests that we'll soon be able to post on You-Tube videos of the kids watching themselves practically live on You-Tube.
This morning, we saw other children dressed up for major rites of passage -- no black tie here; these kids were in white.

We had a baptism, I think the first for a child of active members of the young adult group. She never made a peep (surprisingly), and her parents couldn't have looked happier.

I was tickled that we had already chosen "I want to walk as a child of the light" as the Song of Sending Forth at the end of Mass, when I heard that formula used in the Baptismal rite. (We hadn't known before this AM that there would be a baptism.) It's great when things work out that way (not the ignorance, just the fortuitous song selection.)

Our littlest member wore a white dress and, except for the times when she was anointed & baptised, the traditional handkerchief cap that she'll carry in her wedding. I love traditions.A

nd speaking of such, as we left Mass this morning, the children arrived who would be making their first Holy Communions at 11 AM. There was one little boy in a white shirt and white pants and a dark blue tie. (I am certain there was a parent not far behind holding a white jacket for him.) The little girls were adorable in white lace, ribbons, bows, shoes and headdresses. It was wonderful to see and put a smile on the faces of everyone who saw them arrive.

It might seem a bit hokey to some, but I think that we further dignify and signify events with our choices of clothes. I wore maroon and orange on Friday in honor of VTech kids (surprisingly, I found a shawl AND jewelry with that color combo); it was important to do that to remind myself to pray for the situation and involved people.

Baby Piper ( & her parents) were told to "see in your white garment the sign of your Christian dignity." I love that we pay attention down to that level in our liturgy.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


I'm sitting here wearing "paste" diamond earrings, Izzy's great-aunt's double strand of fake pearls, and a black skirt that looks like velvet if you don't get too close. I've tried on Mom's sorta beaded top and her heels.

The reason for all the pseudo finery? Only preparation for the biggest dress-up night of the year...Prom! Izzy and I will be going this Saturday to watch kids assume grown-up roles, don formal wear, and see what they can sneak past the chaperones. It's a great evening of entertainment, and well worth donning Mom's "big girl shoes."

It's worth mentioning that I don't think I've ever borrowed Mom's clothes before -- at least not since high school (when her wardrobe would have been hopelessly old-fahioned for my tastes...ah, the hubris of youth!) I think I've hit some sort of scary maturational milestone...


On the drive into work today, I remembered the date and thought: Today is Waco Day. Then I remembered that Waco Day was followed two years later by Oklahoma City Day. I remembered that it was also pretty close to Columbine Day. Grim thoughts. These things came to mind as I heard more about the package mailed by the VTech killer to NBC.

It wasn't until this evening that I saw via the blogosphere that it was the 2nd anniversary of the election of our Holy Father, Benedict XVI. Two years ago, I was literally laid up on the couch, which Izzy had moved to be just in front of our tiny TV. I was home with pneumonia, I think in my 2nd week at that point. (I'd remember more if I hadn't spent so much time asleep, coughing or febrile...) (See last year's post on the anniversary of JP2's death)

Anyhow, having nothing else to do, I spent lots of the day flipping between stations that had chimney cams operating. The cable news airwaves (?right term?) were full of little that wasn't Catholic. It felt kinda cool (remember, I was heavily medicated) to be part of the "club" that was getting so much attention. I was so glad to have become a Catholic during John Paul II's papacy and, as a newish Catholic, I felt especially connected to the coverage of all the events after.

Anyway, as I recall, I watched the coverage excitedly and either called or emailed Izzy with the initial news ("The smoke is white!") and then the announcement ("Habemus Papam!") I sent the same message to a Presby email list. I called Gashwin, who was bursting with excitement. I'm sure I cried; I always do at this sort of thing.

I knew little, if anything, about any of the Papabile, so I had no expectations of a Ratzinger papacy. I've been pleased with His leadership and am learning to read His style of writing. I'm looking forward to the English translation of His book on Jesus.

And I'm glad April 19 has another meaning.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Hokie Tragedy

There's no need for links -- everyone knows the story of what happened at Virgina Tech today. We kept re-checking news sites this afternoon as the toll mounted, and the depth of the horror sank in.

I think it takes reviewing (literally, the re-viewing) the coverage to make it believable, and not just a "oh, isn't that too bad..." thing you see and forget. At least, that's what I tell myself as I scan for more info, reactions, answers from anyone...anyone?

Padre talked yesterday in the homily about not having answers for tragedies like illness and death. He didn't give some sort of glib quote at the end, for which I'm glad. If answers, insight and understanding were that easy to obtain, what we experience of pain and suffering would become cheapened.

I'm reading Fearless Faith by John Fischer. In the first chapter, he looks at the "Lord's Prayer" (the prayer Jesus, Himself, prayed for us who would follow Him.)

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message” (John 17:20).

That would be us, of course.

“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one” (John 17:15).

Ah yes, there it is--the part of this prayer that tells us what to expect. This is where he reveals what he intends to do, and not do, for us. And what he won’t do is as important as what he will. He doesn't intend for us to be removed from the world, but to be protected in the middle of it. He doesn't want us removed from danger, he wants us surrounded by danger on every hand--but safe from the evil one.

It is important to realize, in our current dilemma, that the prayers of Jesus are more effective than ours. Our prayers are attached to our human need, a limited view of our situation, and the options we have for relief. Sometimes our prayers are no more than wishes. The prayers of Jesus, on the contrary, are completely in accord with God’s will because he and the Father are one. If Jesus prays for our protection, then it is because he knows God fully intends to protect us. And if he prays for us not to me removed from the world, it is because he has no intention of rescuing us out of the world. This is not a well-intentioned wish on the part of Jesus. It is the will of God to leave us in the world and meet us with all the provisions and protection we need to be here and be involved in the world. Anything short of this is less than what God intends for us.

Two things are clear about these petitions from the last request of a dying man who also happened to be the Son of God. The first is that he expects us to be in the world, and the second is that in doing so we will be in danger. Apparently Jesus has no intention of relieving us of the cause of that danger. There would be no need for him to pray for our protection if this were not so. Notice also that there are no qualifiers to this statement--as in “keep the world from getting too bad so it isn't so hard on them.” No matter how bad the world gets, he still wants us in it.
Divine Mercy Sunday gave us the opportunity to implore God for this protection, for what is needed to live in this fallen world. It's hard to see that protection in the face of tragedies like today, or those tragedies to which we've become numb.

For the sake of His sorrowful Passion;
Have mercy on us and on the whole world.

Tonight, especially on those in Blacksburg.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Disco Effect

I clicked on a "Which of these doesn't belong" Quiz from a link accessed from the Drudge Report (I think -- you've seen them), and discovered I was taking an on-line IQ test. I decided to go ahead with the rest of the quiz, whilst eating dinner and watching a movie...not the ideal conditions for such an endeavor.

Here's what the folks at Tickle said about my test (results sent to disposable eddress that I'll delete tonight):

"In the same class as Bill Gates" -- gotta make sure to mention that to the reunion committee in a couple of years.

The score qualifies me for Mensa, assuming that "random Internet quiz" gets added to the categories listed here.

Sadly, I think my IQ may have been higher (based on GRE V&Q) before I sat down to watch the movie...this movie.

BeeGees' music seems to have pulled some of the smarts from my head. All those years, and Izzy was right -- Disco DOES suck! Who knew?

BTW, if you've ever been interested, Mensa is waiving the evaluation fee this month for people with PE (prior evidence) of qualifying scores. If you have ever wanted to join and have scores in the ranges shown here on various tests, might as well do it this month. I'm still undecided. Any good reasons to join?

Friday, April 13, 2007

Bollywood Night

6 bloggers (one, two, three, four, five, six -- includes the two residents) and one patient spouse here tonight for Bollywood and sweets.
We watched Lage Raho Munnabhai, a Bollywood film with dance numbers, some singing--beautiful settings of some songs, a couple of weddings, and an actual, honest-to-goodness moral. You knew there was a moral to the movie, because none other than Gandhi, hisownself, gave it to you at the end.

Sweet, funny, clean, fun, and the movie was great, too. Good messages; I see why the Indian Prime minister recommends it.

Great lines:

Jhanvi: Do you walk on the path shown by Mahatma Gandhi?

Murli Prasad Sharma - Munna Bhai: Of course! I walk 3 miles everyday on Mahatma Gandhi Street
Murli Prasad Sharma - Munna Bhai: [Munna Bhai is slapped by a police officer] Gandhi said if you are slapped, kindly show them the other cheek!

[he turns his other cheek toward the officer]

Murli Prasad Sharma - Munna Bhai: [the officer slaps his other cheek, Munnbhai punches him] Gandhi didn't say what to do after he hits the other one!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut has died. So it goes.

I discovered his works at the age of ten or eleven in the S thru Z shelves of the fiction section of the library. There were some great authors there: Sainte-Exupery, Tolkein, Twain, Leon Uris, Vonnegut, H. G. Wells, others I can't recall, but I can see myself seated on one of those rolling library step-stools pulling down books to read.

Vonnegut first gave me the gift of dark fiction with insight, quite a change from the missionary stories I read at home. In high school, I grew to appreciate the value of subversiveness in fiction as a means to incite questions about the status quo.

  • How was the threat of the world ending from "Ice-9" similar to the ever-present fear we had of a Russion nuclear attack?
  • What did it mean to have a society where everyone was equal -- did we really need the services of Handicapper General Diana Moon Glampers to have equality (and what was the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of result? Read the short story here, if you haven't before.)
  • I had to think seriously about the value of life after reading about the purple roofed ethical suicide parlors next to the orange-roofed Howard Johnson diners (I am often reminded of the suicide parlors when I pass the former HoJo on our side of the river.)
  • I never heard about Desden in school--I saw it through Billy Pilgrim's eyes.
Vonnegut's contributions to my experiences, a few I can recall off the top of my head, as I consider his recurring characters (Kilgore Trout) and bizarre motifs (he ruined asterisks for me*), include:
Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.

We must do, doodily do, doodily do, doodily do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must,
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
'Til we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.
(creed of Bokanon)

Rabo Karabekian meeting a woman whose first word to him were "Tell me how your parents died."

I appreciated the random things Vonnegut threw into stories (this collected from the Charlotte Observer obit):

In "Slaughterhouse-Five," Vonnegut introduced the recurring character of Kilgore Trout, his fictional alter ego. The novel also featured a signature Vonnegut phrase.

"Robert Kennedy, whose summer home is eight miles from the home I live in all year round," Vonnegut wrote at the end of the book, "was shot two nights ago. He died last night. So it goes.

"Martin Luther King was shot a month ago. He died, too. So it goes. And every day my Government gives me a count of corpses created by military science in Vietnam. So it goes."

One of many Zen-like words and phrases that run through Vonnegut's books, "so it goes" became a catchphrase for opponents of the Vietnam war.

Expect to hear that phrase from me in the next weeks.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

BabyDaddy revealed: You may now resume your regularly scheduled lives

I don't often stray to celebrity topics, but Boy, howdy, I wish I'd written this (I certainly thought it...)

From Miki Turner at MSNBC:

Baby daddy revealed! Can we stop caring now?

[Anna Nicole Smith's] life was one long sad joke, which is why I now believe that these have to be the last days that John prophesied about in the Book of Revelation. The world is in turmoil and we’re a nation that allowed ourselves to be caught up in Smith’s web of absurdity for far too long.

There’s something terribly amiss in the universe when you realize that the deaths of heads of state, Civil Rights and religious leaders have received less coverage than the drug-induced passing of Smith. The collective contributions of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa and even Anne Frank are far more important than the news of who Dannielynn’s father is.


And while I am always sorry to hear the news of anyone’s death, the initial reports of Smith’s passing from an overdose of prescription meds was more stunning than sorrowful. The sadness didn't hit me until I realized that I didn't really care that she had died. I didn't care about how broken-hearted she must have been after losing her son Daniel. I didn't care that she had issues with her mother and I had almost stopped caring that her daughter would grow up without a mother.

The massive coverage had rendered me emotionally bankrupt.

I do care, however, that more Americans have died in Iraq. I care that more people have fallen off cruise ships and that legendary Grambling football coach Eddie Robinson has died during a time when thousands of African American boys could benefit from his guidance. I care that there are only eight more episodes of “The Sopranos” left. I am troubled by the facts that President Bush is still in office, that people are still being slaughtered in Darfur and that Elizabeth Edwards has incurable cancer.

And I care that in 2007 someone would have the audacity to “jokingly” call anyone a “nappy-headed ho” and think that it’s funny.

I wish I did care that Larry Birkhead will now know the joys of fatherhood. But unlike what is going on with Imus, I think this whole DNA debacle is truly funny. Isn't it hilarious that everyone in the world now knows his name because he used to have sex with Anna Nicole Smith? He’s like the Kato Kaelin of his generation. And isn't it even more amusing that there’s probably no end in sight to this ongoing saga?
The Kato Kaelin of his generation -- that's brilliant! Now to explain all this to Zsa Zsa's husband.

And yes, you can stop caring now (assuming you ever started.)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Holy Week 2007: Easter Sunday

(See 2006 post.)

Arrived at the Chapel 8:01 AM; the first worshippers arrived before 8:10 AM (Mass starts at 9 AM-ish.) No one, no one familiar with our Parish arrives more than 15 minutes ahead of time. The Chapel was full for Mass; lots and lots of folks we didn't recognize. Padre encouraged those who "only visit us once or twice a year" to consider joining our community. Pretty gutsy to acknowledge the C&E's.

More incense and lilies, no headache today. Yay, again.

We had two guitars (one guitarist sang) and two treble voices this morning. We sang almost exactly the same music as 2006; we ended with "The Strife is O'er." Once again, I was privileged to sing the Victimae Paschali with one of my favorite tenors.

Today was my 8th day in a row singing at/with the Parish. It's been busy and fun and I'll have a great soundtrack in my head the next few weeks.

Lunch afterwards at the Dell's. Great food, friends, fellowship.


As Easter ends, and I'm typing it all up, we're watching "Barabbas" on TCM. Billed as "The motion picture that begins where the other big ones leave off," it stars Anthony Quinn as Barabbas, who apparently cannot die after Jesus took his place on the cross. He's now in Rome, in the gladiator corps with Ernest Borgnine, being taunted by Jack Palance. Gotta be one of the worst "Biblical" Sword and Sandals movies ever. Great bad...

Holy Week 2007: Holy Saturday

(See 2006 post)

Headache gone (!) (Imitrex --> all day nap) and allergy meds once again held out for the duration against lilies and incense. I was more fortunate than others; there was lots of sneezing and coughing in all of the incensed services this weekend.

Unlike previous years with warm Carolina spring weather, the temperature was in the low 40's by the start of the Vigil. Folks threw jackets and coats over "Easter dresses" & suits as we assembled by the new fire. I'd put a couple of old palm crosses in before the fire was lit -- adding their energy to the light of the Christ candle.

In addition to singing the "Song of Miriam" (rousing duet) and "Lord, You have the words of everlasting life" (solo), I also got to read the opening OT reading (Genesis 1:1-2:2.) "In the beginning" at the beginning (after the Exulset, of course...) Yay.

We had a small RCIA class this year -- 4 candidates for full communion and one elect. It was quite dramatic and moving to watch our elect slowly, very slowly, add water to her baptismal font as we sang "Come to the Water."

Sometimes institutional memory is a very good thing: Everything that needed to happen happened, even with a few errors in the program. We just adjusted as needed.

We sang the Becker Litany for the first time--very pretty. In the category of minor miracles, I would include the discovery that a young lady who has sung this several times before showed up just as we were discovering that we needed another experienced voice. It was lovely.

I decided to take the lesson of "when in Rome" (see below) that I heard clearly at Fire at the Beach in 2005. I'm still not fond of "Lord of the Dance," but our Padre is and so I sang along with the rest of the choir this year on all the verses.

Home just after midnight -- I skipped the IHOP breakfast outing so as to be back at the Chapel at 8 AM.


Posted at Open Book in December 2005, as part of a "What Did You Hear?" thread that addressed common complaints about music in the liturgy:

One reason it took our family so long to swim the Tiber was a recognition of what so many commenters have said--there's a lot of not-so-good-music out there in Catholic churches, especially when compared with what one can hear at larger Protestant churches. I don't think that this is just because of lack of trained musicians, or constantly changing alternatives in the annually revised songbooks from OCP, etc. I think that there is also less of a tradition of congregational singing--the full-voiced, multi-part, deeply-felt singing that one would hear for "A Mighty Fortress" or "Wonderful Grace of Jesus" or lots of the Fanny Crosby songbook. Maybe even for "Go Tell It On The Mountain"? I see plenty of Catholics sitting in pews week after week, not singing anything!

I get to hear Michael Dubriel speak on "Developing a Spirituality of the Eucharist" this past fall at a Eucharistic Conference in SC. One of his themes was "When in Rome..." and it addressed complaining and criticizing what you see and hear in church, rather than looking for ways to focus on the essentials--we are being presented with Jesus-body, blood, soul and divinity! He didn't say to ignore abuses or to not strive to improve what can be fixed, but I really appreciated Michael's
reminder that we are not there to be entertained. To get the most out of the Eucharist, we must bring ourselves to God and be prepared to put aside anything that seems to rival God in importance.

Holy Week 2007: Good Friday

(See 2006 post)

2nd day with the headache--not going away with the lower strength stuff.

Full Chapel, including larger than usual choir for the 3 PM Service of the Lord's Passion.

Music was nearly the same as last year--we did get to sing O Sacred Head (I think...memories fade after 55 hours...)

During the veneration of the Cross, I found myself tearing up as I watched people I've grown to love expressing their profound reverence for the Cross.

In an example of "the great bell curve of life" (one of my boss's favorite expressions), I experienced in the same service both joy and irritation. I've never raised children, but I've watched parents for years and I recognize when parents are and are not attempting to quiet noisy children in church. From what I could see from the choir vantage point, no one tried much of anything to quiet a very, very talkative toddler--not at any point in the readings, homily, communion rite, etc.

Why bother blogging on this and risk the wrath of parents? I want to be sure to remember the promptings I received in the midst of the frustration: to check my Pharisee hat at the door. Always a good idea.


Home for a lite meal, then back for a Tenebrae service in the evening. This is the 3rd year I have gotten to sing "The Lord is my Light and my Salvation" with the woman who leads music at the weekly vigil Mass. Our voices work well together and I really enjoyed the opportunity to harmonize with someone whose strong voice could carry the melody.

From an email I sent to a student earlier in the week (general info on Tenebrae and then a description of what happens at our Parish):

A Tenebrae service begins in a well-lighted sanctuary, which gradually becomes darker as lights are turned off, candles are extinguished, and the outside light fades after sunset. A Good Friday Tenebrae service is meant to evoke the increasing darkness and despair felt by the disciples after the crucifixion while Jesus lay in the tomb.

At our Parish, there will be some readings, some responsorial Psalms and some Psalm prayers, prayed as they are in the Liturgy of the Hours. Every so often, with a solemn drum accompaniment, a dancer will approach the candles placed in front of the altar and extinguish one. She will then run back into the shadows, as the disciples left Jesus one by one during the Crucifixion. The Christ candle is usually carried from the room last--symbolizing Jesus' death and burial.

When the room is entirely dark, there is a period of waiting, followed by a loud crash. The crash is meant to symbolize the power of Christ breaking the bonds of sin and death. The Christ candle is returned to the room, showing us the hope of the resurrection that we will celebrate at the Easter vigil the next night. All of us leave by the light of that single candle.

My memory was a bit faulty -- the dancers retreat more slowly (they don't run), but I still see their actions as being those of the disciples. Our actions, should we choose to be honest.

The talented cantor that I mentioned last year, back for a bit, was a delightful addition to the evening.

We left the Chapel in the dark, preparing to enter it in the same state Saturday night.

Dinner here with an engaged couple from the Parish. Izzy cooked fish, which was served with grits & salad; we also had the lovely brie with onion confit.

Holy Week 2007: Holy Thursday

I re-read last year's summaries of our Liturgies and services, and thought I'd post for this year.

Holy Thursday 2007 (see 2006 post)

Very little different in the music for this Mass, or most of the other services this weekend, for that matter. This is my 3rd (I think) Holy Week singing with the 11 AM choir--so I've about learned how they do each of the songs.

Highlight: as always, the bells.

I had a bit of a headache during Mass, so I don't know if that, familiarity with the music, fatigue or something else interfered, but I didn't experience the overwhelming emotions that I have in previous Holy Thursday liturgies. That's when I am so grateful for the Truth that supersedes emotions, grateful that the power of the Eucharist does not rely on my experience of it.

Paraphrasing a theme from Evangelical Is Not Enough (Thomas Howard), "How was Mass?" is the wrong focus. There WAS Mass and Christ again became truly present to us.

Dinner afterwards with a delightful group of (mostly) younger adults from the Parish.

Holy Thursday in the Hospital

S2's daughter (S2D2) arrived at her house with one of our great nephews* Thursday morning. S2 had felt badly for 3 days, headache, nausea leading to lack of appetite, making headache worse, etc. Thursday, she was staggering around the house and (1) hit her head on the wall and (2) fell (not necessarily in that order.) Daughter called 911 and Sis was transported to local ER.

One call to S3, and the family phone tree was activated. Amazingly, the person hardest to reach was our Mom, who was actually working a volunteer shift in the same hospital where we were.

Not impressed with the history taken by the ER doc. I'd comment on the physical examination, except -- oh, yes -- no one did one! (Not even rudimentary ophthalmic!) I saw an MD make a snap judgement based on the first thing my sister said, and then act very dismissively towards her the rest of the time she was there. I personally might not have relied on the "testimony" of someone whose pain level was so obviously acute and intense. He started in immediately on a lecture about use of the ER (EMS opted to transport; if they thought this was serious enough, then don't give the patient a lecture. Especially, don't talk about the health care system to someone who cannot stop moaning and who cannot give sensible answers to questions...) No chance to give family input...

CAT scan was negative, and I'm hoping a neurology referral can uncover what was happening.

Anyhow, as I think about this a few days later, I'm struck by how often my behavior or judgements mirror those of the ER doc -- rapid, firm, unchangeable. I think folks are bright enough to figure out the conclusions I'm drawing -- I'd hate to have to write yet another sermon to myself.

Side note: I got a bit dehydrated in the very warm ER room. This triggered a headache that I couldn't completely shake until Saturday. I know it affected some of my perceptions of Holy Week services. Descriptions will follow this post.

* S2GS2? I'll have to figure out how to indicate grand kids now that my siblings have them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Sniffle City

What do these dots have in common? If you've read about the rankings from the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America, these are the Spring Allergy Capitals of the US. Apparently, this group ranks the "100 most challenging places to live with allergies in the spring and fall seasons." Rankings are based on pollen grains (counted how?), allergy medicine use and numbers of board-certified allergists per patient (letting the free market confirm what we see when we step outside--it's yellow out there!)

I have lived in both of this year's top two cities: Tulsa and Dallas. In neither city did my car look like this:


Pause, while Izzy reminds me that in one city I had a beige Mustang and in the other I bought a blue Hyundai. (End pause.)

The Capitol across the Congaree is ranked 14th this spring, outranked by Charlotte, Atlanta and even Augusta, GA. I think those folks need to come look a bit closer...

Lots of miserable folks out there. Maybe the cold front this weekend will slow down the tree sex and folks can resume breathing.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

"It is Fitting" Updated

From a post at New Liturgical Movement, I am directed back to the English translation of Sacramentum Caritatis.

Paragraph 62 has been re-translated to address a concern lots of folks (here & here, for example) raised about the use of Latin in the Mass. It now reads:

The Latin language
62. None of the above observations should cast doubt upon the importance of such large-scale liturgies. I am thinking here particularly of celebrations at international gatherings, which nowadays are held with greater frequency. The most should be made of these occasions. In order to express more clearly the unity and universality of the Church, I wish to endorse the proposal made by the Synod of Bishops, in harmony with the directives of the Second Vatican Council, (182) that, with the exception of the readings, the homily and the prayer of the faithful, it is fitting that such liturgies be celebrated in Latin. Similarly, the better-known prayers (183) of the Church's tradition should be recited in Latin and, if possible, selections of Gregorian chant should be sung. Speaking more generally, I ask that future priests, from their time in the seminary, receive the preparation needed to understand and to celebrate Mass in Latin, and also to use Latin texts and execute Gregorian chant; nor should we forget that the faithful can be taught to recite the more common prayers in Latin, and also to sing parts of the liturgy to Gregorian chant. (184)
It is fitting. No longer "such liturgies could be celebrated in Latin."

As Izzy commented at Mark's:
And frankly, at international gatherings I'm more than ready to "better express the unity and universality of the Church" by leaving behind personal and cultural references in favor of a universal language and form. Isn't this what it means to be Catholic? To be Universal rather than personal?
Something to think about as we enter Holy Week.
Update 4-3-07 (4+3=7, hmmm)

Izzy posted a response at Fr. Z's (What does the prayer really say?) about a particularly interesting and unfortunate phrasing (& the distributive power of adjectives.)

Basically, as currently worded, divorced and remarried individuals are exhorted to live the lives of lapsed Catholics:
“Yet the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as
possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion, listening to the word of God, Eucharistic adoration, prayer, participation in the life of the community, honest dialogue with a priest or spiritual director, dedication to the life of charity, works of penance, and commitment to the education of their children.”

So, these folks SHOULD come to Mass, but SHOULD NOT receive Communion, listen to the Word of God, participate in adoration, etc... They don't even have to educate their own children! I sense a need for a couple of do-overs in the translation...

Monday, April 02, 2007

Perfect Palm Crosses

I'll keep this on top during Holy Week for a couple of days, repeated from last year. Follow this link for easy, step-by-step, illustrated directions for making Palm Crosses.

I'm planning to bring my old ones from previous years back on Holy Saturday and place them into the "new fire" lit before the Vigil.


We're watching the end of the NCAA men's championship game. My pick to win it all (Florida) is maintaining a 7-11 point lead in the 2nd half. I'll likely still have 8th to 10th place in the competition with friends from NC, but at least I won't be dead last.

Ohio State has a player that just seems wrong for NCAA level play. Click here, and ask yourself if this is the face of a freshman... He just seems like some sort of 30-year old, especially next to the rest o the kids on the court. I'm likely watching his last college game, as with several other of these guys. (Pic of Oden in high school.)


And now Florida has repeated as National Champs 84-75, showing the value of staying in school (OK, the value to some incredibly talented guys.)

Can't wait until October, when we start all this all over again.

Bury the Dead

"Bury the dead" is the last in the list of the Corporal Works of Mercy. Based on Matthew 25, this list of evidences for our faith is aimed at the body.

  • Feed the hungry;
  • Give drink to the thirsty;
  • Clothe the naked;
  • Harbor the harborless; (or Shelter the homeless)
  • Visit the sick;
  • Ransom the captive; (or Visit the imprisoned)
  • Bury the dead.
Tonight we had a chance to participate in this last work of mercy. One of our parishioners died last Sunday AM. He had just walked up what many of us call "Heart Attack Hill", and he had a massive heart attack right in front of our Student Center. Our Padre, a nurse and two physicians (from Benin) did CPR and revived him, but he died either en route to or upon arrival at the hospital.

His family traveled in from Puerto Rico and we had the funeral Mass this evening. (He'll actually be buried back in Puerto Rico next week.) Izzy and I didn't really know him, but we knew that it would be important to have people from the Parish there to support those family and friends who had traveled so far.

When I arrived a bit early, Padre asked if I would be willing to read, if the family hadn't arranged for a reader. Certainly. Oh, and by the way, could I sing the Gospel acclamation? (No musician had been arranged for...) Sure. Maybe lead Amazing Grace in the entrance procession? I asked and was told: Yes, it would be nice if the Responsorial Psalm were sung, and OK, let's do a post-Communion song (I picked a bi-lingual one.)

Until the Sunday after Katrina, I don't know that I would have ever considered singing not just lead, but accapella lead. I recognized tonight that singing was a good way to give the gift of music (turns out that music was really important to this man) to a grieving family. Folks sang along with everything, including all the verses of the Responsorial Psalm.

Izzy and I have helped honor the dead by holding flags at service member's funerals. (& here, & here.) Tonight I got to help with final rites--as close as I might come to actually burying the dead.

A special Holy Week gift for both of us.

Angel, requiescas in pace.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Fools Day

So the alarm goes off this morning at 6:50 and I cannot seem to get up (worse than usual, if that's possible.) It's just sooo dark outside. I figured it must be overcast. I was worried that Izzy wouldn't awaken, so I reminded him how dark it was when I kissed hm goodbye at 7:45.

I grabbed my cup o'cereal and headed out the door to drive to church. I need to be at the Chapel at 8 AM to practice music and warm-up for the 9 AM Mass. Had to turn the lights on. My goodness it's darker than usual out here! I turned on NPR (Sumter SC station) to help me gauge the time on the drive, and I didn't hear "On the Media." "Living on Earth" is playing. The car clock says 6:47. So does the pager. So does the cell phone.

In my morning confused state, I briefly entertained the thought that Izzy had decided to pull an April Fools' Day joke on me. Pretty clever he was (!)--changing the alarm clock to get me up and out of the house an hour early. I was fairly certain, as I contemplated heading back home, that the correct time was about to be 7 AM and not 8 AM. (It was too early for me to be completely sure.) Finally, I heard a promo for a program "coming up this morning at 7."

Waking me up at 5:50 in the AM? What sort of an April Fools joke is that?

And then I remembered something else that might cause an alarm clock to advance the time ahead (aka "spring forward") on the first Sunday in April. Hmmmmm, I'll have to account for that little "feature" 4 times a year now, until we replace the alarm clock.

Back home, quick power nap, back in the car for Palm Sunday.