Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Watch the tram car, please

We have a number of "temperature" stations, but here's my favorite. It's right inside the front door of our former motherhouse where I work, but which is also the home of a marvelous child development center. Thus explaining all the procedures and processes that have recently appeared. Here's the best:

It looks like an ipad attached atop a 4 foot pole--I guess that's because that is what it is! Many of us come in that way and are now using it to take our daily temp. You step up to it and immediately a female mechanical voice with absolutely no inflections begins with, "Please adjust your position for temperature screening" at which you move an inch or two forward or back. Only to hear, "Please adjust your position for temperature screening." Now back if you had moved forward or forward if you had moved back. And again, "Please adjust..." If you've ever been to the Jersey shore boardwalks and heard that automated voice that comes from the boardwalk trams, something like, "Watch the tram car please, Watch the tram car" or "Mind the gap" or whatever they say. It's the same gal, the same voice. The first time I kinda' panicked and move four or five times before it finally showed "Measuring." Which is followed by showing your temperature and another voice message, "Normal normal, normal."

We are having such fun!

I tried to take a photo of the working screen, but ended up taking a temperature measuring selfie!

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Living with the lake

Lake Erie is rising, as you probably know from your climate change reading. We are seeing the effects here with a significant rise in the bay and lake all around our peninsula, Presque Isle State Park. It even gets so bad after a rainstorm that they have to close some of the roads as they get flooded over.

Here along the lakeshore we are seeing the effects, too. Erosion is all along the shoreline in Pennsylvania. Since this includes quite a few residential areas and homes, people have invested mightily, I hear, in trying to save their lake front.

We have a few old, old piers that over the course of years and years have changed. Parts have fallen off, other pieces are submerged, and some sections are dipping into the lake but still passable. We decided to take on the most savable one and see what we could do. On the advice of a local contractor that has done a lot of work on lakefront property (and admits that some of what he did just a few years ago is already being reclaimed by the lake because of erosion and the change in water levels) we have having the upper part of the pier re-paved so that at least there is some access to the beach area and a walk out to the water. Here is how it looks this week.

There is also going to be a new fence along the bluff above the lake, with a gate at this pier. I'm very excited that we are at least trying, sensibly, to keep our lakefront people-friendly/enjoyable.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

June 23, 1856

An excerpt from our history: "The Benedictine Sisters of Erie trace their beginnings to the Benedictine nuns at St. Walburg Abbey in Eichstätt, Bavaria, Germany, founded in 1035. Sisters from there first came to St. Marys, PA in 1852 to educate the children of the newly arrived German immigrants. On June 23, 1856 Mother Benedicta Riepp and five sisters from St. Marys arrived in Erie at the request of the Erie bishop. Sister Scholastic Burkhard was appointed first superior by Mother Benedicta thus establishing the first community of women religious in the Erie area." You can read more of an abbreviated history of our community here.

164 years! 
"Will you still need me, will you still feed me, 
when I'm a hundred and sixty-four?"

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Summer scenes

Summer officially came Saturday, but our temperatures have been beautiful since much before that. This weekend was no exception. I ran into our postulant from New Zealand and she was grinning from ear to ear...she had tried the pool down at Glinodo and found it wonderful. She has been missing the tropical temps of her home country and neighboring Australia (and has endured, courageously, our snowy winters). She is in heaven now, as we are hitting 80s regularly and even 91 today, I believe. A bit too hot for most of us.....but, not for her, mate!

Here are three summer scenes from this week:

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Door Harp

I just received a door harp, one that I heard on a nearby sister's door for quite a few years. I loved the sound so I was thrilled to receive it for one of my doors. I was curious about them and here's what I found.

"The door harp originated in Scandinavia, mostly in Sweden but also in Norway and Denmark and has evolved over time. It's estimated the door harp has been around for about 700 years. It was inspired by the Chinese Feng Shui tradition of hanging bells or chimes around doors and windows to "alter the Chi" (good energy in, bad energy out).
The Swedish adopted this idea but instead of bells, they incorporated the strings and beads which you see on the modern day door harp. The original superstition behind them was to repel evil spirits but has since evolved to signify welcome, luck, health and prosperity to all that pass through the door. It is usually hung on the inside of the front door (some hang it on the outside but this will make it easier for the wood to get warped and the strings to go out of tune).
The door harp is a flattened hollow box made from various kinds of hardwood that comes in many different shapes and sizes, with hanging balls that bounce off the strings which are tuned to different notes. The amount of strings can vary from 3 to as many as a dozens (or more!). Traditionally the strings were made of braided silk, however, these days they are usually wire."

Mine has four wire strings hit by 4 very light wood balls. It has a lovely light sound. From google images this is close to what mine looks like. There are pages of others, it's fascinating. See them here.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Posting a card

Ecards are fun and easy to send. But the people who hang onto the "ministry" of sending cards through the post office are really committed to making an impression--an impression of time and effort and, most importantly, of care for the intended receiver. And there are people who still do this, do it regularly and beautifully. If you are the recipient of the thoughtfulness of one of these people, you know what I mean.

Of all the sympathy card messages I've ever read, this is the one that has meant the most to me. I have sent dozens of these to friends, through Cards by Anne.

"And can it be that in a world so full and busy
the loss of one creature makes a void so wide and deep
that nothing but the width and depth of eternity can fill it up!"

Charles Dickens

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Retreat with BBT

This week we have our annual retreat. I decided to "have a retreat with Barbara Brown Taylor" one of my favorite spirituality writers. Our library has 7-8 of her books--amazon lists 17. I'd read the more recent ones, so I took out two of the older ones. Here's the one I've started:
Sure enough, it is filled with 3-4 page homilies/reflections on readings from both the Old and New Testaments--used by Barbara when she was the pastor of a rural church in Georgia in the 90s. My expectations were confirmed immediately: creative, thought-provoking and unusual--her wonderful style. 

 e.g. "Manna was the Israelites' food in the wilderness. They ate raw manna, boiled manna, baked manna, ground manna....There has been a good bit of speculation over the years about exactly what manna was....Does manna have to come out of nowhere in order to qualify as a miracle?...Or to put it another way, what makes something bread from heaven? Is it the thing itself or the one who sends it? If your manna has to drop straight out of heaven looking like a perfect loaf of butter-crust bread, then chances are you are going to go hungry a lot....If, on the other hand, you are willing to look at everything that comes to you as coming to you from God, then there will be no end to the manna in your life." 

See what I mean? And, yes, I do have a favorite of hers, in case you'd like to try: An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.