With good reason, we have been focusing here on Grace. But there's another half to this bone marror transplant, and that's her sister-donor, Faith. They were a perfect bone-marrow match, and Faith was delighted to be able to provide this life-saving gift to her little sister.

But it has not come without significant sacrifice, and I daresay insufficient preparation. The bone marrow transplant literature makes it out to be a much lighter procedure than it is. The pre-donation testing is rigorous and extensive—Faith fainted at one point—and the donation itself involved forty-seven separate insertions of the needle into her bones! (Possibly twice that many; I don't remember if that number was total, or for each side.) They had made so little of the strenuousness of the procedure that Faith had hoped to be able to join her friends on a ski trip a few days afterwards—not to ski, of course, but to sit in the lodge and enjoy the camaraderie and atmosphere. That was so far from the reality that I question whether "informed consent" was taken seriously.

Here's what happened, and is happening, according to Jon's most recent post:

When Faith signed up for the donation, she was told to expect one or maybe two days of significant pain, and then a week of pain that should be managed with Tylenol and then no running and jumping for six weeks, even if she felt like it.

She had 3-4 days of significant pain, and has certainly gotten better since the first week, but at more than 4 months, continues to have 2 out of 10 pain 24 hours a day. And more pain if she exerts herself too hard.

Grace's doctors referred Faith to her primary care, who took some x-rays and referred her to physical therapy. The x-rays didn't show any fractures. The physical therapist didn't really know what to do, in that she didn't know anything about bone marrow donation, but asked a bunch of good questions and gave her some exercises to do daily. She is supposed to go back to her primary care if she is still in pain in a month or two. We did find on Google that 4% of donors are still in pain at 9 months and 1% are in pain at 12 months, but the cancer doctors said that Faith shouldn't be in that class of donors, since she is so young. We do wonder if the "hard time" the doctors had when collecting the bone marrow would result in this extra pain, but we don't know.

Faith wants to play soccer in the fall, but if the pain continues, will not be able to. She would appreciate your prayers as she tries to rest, but also work on getting her body ready for soccer.

I know Faith, and I know that she would have made the donation anyway, even if she had known the consequences. But facilities that do bone marrow transplants should be paying more attention to the donors, who are an absolutely essential part of their cancer treatment process. Shouldn't there be someone on staff who knows about the consequences and complications, and can do more than send her back to a primary care doctor who undoubtedly knows little to none of that? I have great respect for physical therapists, and this one sounds good, but they don't have this specialized knowledge.

When you pray for Grace (thank you!) would you please also pray for Faith?  For wisdom for her, her parents and the doctors; for complete healing; and that she will be able to get fully back to normal life (and soccer!).

Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, June 22, 2024 at 7:54 am | Edit
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It has been blessedly quiet on the Grace front for a while, giving the family a chance to focus on Hope, her new little sister. No news has been great news, with Grace being weaned off the cyclosporin, laughing, smiling, playing, growing hair, and generally enjoying life despite the remaining presence of her nasogastric tube and central lines.

But now we're back with another prayer request. In Heather's words,

Grace has been having belly pain and a lot of mucous in her stool, often with blood as well. We have taken her off cow's milk again (she had been asking for it instead of almond milk.) We haven't seen much improvement in the last week, and she does complain that her belly hurts and she also has a diaper rash. There is the possibility that this is GVHD (graft vs. host disease) and for the moment we have stopped weaning her cyclosporine. We are waiting for her Dartmouth team to communicate with her Boston team to see what to do.

Please pray for complete gut healing, normal stools, and normal appetite. And wisdom and peace.

Thank you all.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, June 21, 2024 at 2:56 pm | Edit
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Reading his amazon.com "about the author" page, I found nothing about Mark Groubert to attract me. Hollywood, MTV, National Lampoon, celebrity culture, drug rehab—these are not descriptors calculated to grab my attention, except negatively.

So it's a good thing that's not where I learned about him.

Credit for that goes to David Freiheit, aka Viva Frei, the man I still still call my favorite Canadian lawyer, even though he's no longer practicing law and now lives in South Florida, the man whose podcast was one of my first YouTube Channel Discoveries, even though he now does most of his work on Rumble and Locals. At some point, he discovered America's Untold Stories and shared his discovery with the world. That link takes you to the YouTube channel, but again, most of the fun is on Rumble and Locals.

It was Porter who followed up that lead, but as sometimes happens, I wandered in while he was watching some of their broadcasts, and found them fascinating. I haven't seen nearly as many as I would like to, if I had infinite time—it's rather like the very large pile of books on my to-read list.

America's Untold Stories is hosted by Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert. Again, the subtitle, "A Magical Mystery Tour of Pop Culture and History" is not something to attract me. But these two are fascinating to listen to. Groubert is a consummate storyteller with a brilliant mind, and Hunley is a great host and facilitator. Do you know people who just happen to find themselves in the right places at the right times and have the social skills to get to know a large number of amazing people? We do. And Mark Groubert is another one. From this background, plus some high-powered research skills, his stories emerge.

I'd never paid much attention to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (not even when it happened—I was 11), and definitely wasn't interested in all the theories about why the official story of that event wasn't accurate. However, I do know enough to be certain that when someone says "we won't let you look at the data till 75 years have passed"—whether it's about JFK or COVID policy or anything else—something is being covered up, and it's probably done to protect not the innocent, but the guilty.

America's Untold Stories tells extensively-researched and entertaining tales about the times and places and people of Kennedy's era that will make your hair curl. (I don't know why that's supposed to be a bad thing; maybe it's an expression created by someone like me, who was forced as a child to wear painful curlers to bed at night, at least until my mother finally gave up on civilizing me.) The stories of President Lyndon Johnson alone make me wonder how America has survived so many really terrible presidents. I've noted before that very unsavory people can make good presidents, and good people can make terrible presidents. Johnson managed to be both a bad person and a bad president.

Hunley and Groubert cover history, current events, and personalities in a way that captivates me more than any history teacher I ever had, even the best one. I find their current series on Watergate especially interesting, since I lived through those times at an older age (early 20's). There is so much I never picked up at the time, and so much more that only came to light much later. Just as with the Kennedy assassination.

America's Untold Stories makes people and history interesting, whether politicians or pop culture personalities or mob bosses or high-end hookers. I'm sure there's a lot more to Eric Hunley than I know, but what I can say for sure is that he reminds me of the best piano accompanists, who know that their job is to make the soloist shine; he and Groubert are a great team.

I've chosen the following video to include here because it is relatively short (only half an hour on normal speed). It was posted for Thanksgiving 2021, and goes back to the beginnings of our country: tales of the Mayflower and its times you don't usually hear. Since I know a bit about the subject, I'm not sure Groubert has a good grasp of the overall picture. For example, he never mentions the differences between the "Saints" and the "Strangers" among the passengers, which was a significant division. Despite that, and even though much of what he mentions was familiar to me, I learned quite a bit. We all know how important tea is to the British, but I never knew how its introduction, in the 1650's, mitigated the scourge that followed the discovery of gin, which had been devastating Europe for a hundred years. In those days, the water was commonly so polluted that drinking it led to disease and death. Tea, made with water that had been boiled, provided a safe, non-alcoholic drink. The Mayflower passengers, who landed here in 1620, vied with the crew over the remaining beer and wine stores (needed for the crew's voyage back to England), until they were desperate enough to drink from the pristine streams of the New World, which they regarded as poisonous.

We had the privilege of meeting Eric Hunley and Mark Groubert recently, but that's a tale for another post.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 20, 2024 at 6:55 am | Edit
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Here's a post from someone—Sasha Stone—who has a great perspective on Father's day, having found a way to honor fathers, and her own less-than-ideal father, despite being herself one of a long line of "single mothers raising babies and absent dads not living up to their responsibilities."

It’s been six years since my dad died. He was a great guy, even if he wasn’t there the way I always imagined a father should be there. He was usually floating high on weed when he spent time with us, but I look back with gratitude that he was there at all. ... He was uncomfortable in family situations—he preferred to be banging on the drums at a jazz club to making idle small talk about mortgages and careers. He always existed on the fringes of life, never quite becoming the man he wanted to be. He was always the sucker who fell for a scam. He never had any money and he lived with my grandma until she died then he lived in her house until he died. But he stuck. He showed up. He was there at every Thanksgiving, every birthday, every Christmas. He would bring over bags of groceries for my daughter and me, loaves of wheat bread, hot dogs—all the things he thought we’d like from the dollar store. It’s been six years since he died and I think of him almost every day.

I’ve had so many male friends who have felt obligated to step up and be a father figure for my daughter. ... As great as it is, it’s not the same as having a father there. Fathers build courage and strength. Fathers make children, girls especially, feel like they can trust the world. Without a father there, the world seems unpredictable because no woman, no matter how great she is as a mom, can do everything and be everything.

We seem to be living through a time where fathers aren’t as valued as they once were because men aren’t as valued as they once were. It seems to have set things off balance, like our entire country is now fatherless. We seem to be collectively craving that kind of leadership now. Just give us a good dad. He’ll make things right.

Sasha's post includes six movie clips of fathers. She often embeds videos in her posts, and I confess that although I read all of her words, I usually skip the videos. I watched these, however. (I really need to see It's a Wonderful Life sometime. I never have.) And then she writes a profound commentary on our time, which I've highlighted in bold.

Since I grew up watching movies I’ve always loved the movie dads in some of my favorite films. And it’s true when you watch them you think about how badly you’d love to have a dad like that. But now, I look at them and think about how I wish we had a culture that still valued dads like that.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 17, 2024 at 6:50 pm | Edit
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Back in January of this year, Jordan Peterson and Tucker Carlson answered a question about where they saw 2024 headed. Here we are in the middle of the year, and what they have to say is still relevant. This is a 10-minute excerpt from a much longer show, which I'll say upfront I haven't seen. But, being a very much johnny-come-lately fan of both men, I appreciate their differing points of view—and especially how they come together at the end.

Fathers, we need you. The future of the world depends on you. Well, no—not entirely. But the great Father upon whom all depends invites you to be part of His work. Understand the truth of the dark times Carlson foresees, and take hold of Peterson's optimisitic solution.

Happy Father's Day!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 16, 2024 at 6:00 am | Edit
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The chimerism results from Grace's most recent bone marrow aspiration are in:  >97%!

I've seen chimerism results of 100%, but with this particular laboratory the best you can do is >97%.  Sort of the way the highest grade on a number of educational standardized tests is 99%.  So it's great news!

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 13, 2024 at 6:00 am | Edit
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A family member was feeling chronically tired, unusual for someone of her age and apparent health. Suspecting anemia, the doctor did some blood tests. Lo and behold, her iron levels were fine—but she was deficient in vitamin D! From what I've heard, that's not unusual for Americans, especially those who live in the northern parts of the country. I grew up knowing that vitamin D was important for preventing rickets, a disease I had mentally relegated to history, like smallpox and scurvy. (I actually thought about smallpox more frequently than rickets, since I am of the last generation to receive routine smallpox vaccinations.) However, it turns out that vitamin D is essential for a lot more than that, including a healthy immune system. As with nearly everything health-related these days, there's controversy over how much is needed, but one thing is clear: many of us are deficient, and could safely use a lot more than we are getting now.

I find it interesting that the tests my doctor orders for every annual exam, which check my blood for multitudinous levels of this and that, do not include measures of vitamin D, or any other vitamin for that matter. Not that I'm worried about D in particular, given that we live in Florida. There's no doubt in my mind that the best way to obtain vitamin D is through exposure of our skin to the sun (don't tell my dermatologist I said that), not only because it is the most natural (there are not many un-fortified food with a lot of vitamin D), but because sunlight exposure produces other substances important to health, such as nitric oxide.

Let's see: For many decades, Americans have been increasingly avoiding the sun, spending nearly all our time indoors, and slathering ourselves with sunscreen when we are not. We have also been cutting down our intake of some of the best natural food sources of vitamin D: egg yolks, red meat, and liver, with fatty fish being about the only good source we're not encouraged to eat less of. (I'm certain it's not coincidental that fatty fish has throughout history been a popular food in lands where it's difficult or impossible to get sufficient vitamin D through sun exposure.) It's no wonder that we have a hidden epidemic of vitamin D deficiency!

I've always wondered why breast milk is apparently deficient in vitamin D, which is why babies who don't get fortified formula are routinely prescribed supplements. It doesn't seem right that the system designed for a baby's best nutrition should be so lacking. I can think of two possibilities: (1) mothers are themselves deficient, and thus can't provide what their babies need, and/or (2) in cultures with sufficient sunlight, babies have for millennia spent a great deal of time outdoors, naked or nearly so, and thus would be making their own vitamin D.

Florida is a good place for getting all the sun exposure we need. However, we too spend most of our time indoors, and shouldn't be complacent. When it was recommended from a couple of independent sources, I decided to download the dminder app on my phone. It's pretty simple, and lets me keep track of my vitamin D intake, from food, supplements, and exposure to the sun. In my case, the first two pale in comparison with the last, at least at this time of year.

Taking into account skin tone, clothing, weather, latitude, elevation of the sun, and time of exposure, dminder calculates approximately how much vitamin D I'm making through my skin for each exposure session (at least those for which I remember to start the app).

A few interesting observations:

  • For the purpose of making vitamin D, there's no point to sunbathing except between the hours of 8:56 a.m. and 5:54 p.m., because the elevation of the sun is not sufficient at other times. (The hours change, of course, with latitude and the changing of the seasons.)
  • Solar Noon at the moment is actually 1:25 p.m., thanks to our propensity for meddling with the clocks.
  • In the present season, during which I wear shorts and a t-shirt, in the middle of the day I can easily generate 2000 IU's of vitamin D during a mere 25-minute walk around the neighborhood!

I will be interested to see what dminder has to say about the summer sun in New England.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 12, 2024 at 7:30 am | Edit
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altMark Schweizer's Liturgical Mysteries (St. James Music Press)

The Alto Wore Tweed (2002), The Baritone Wore Chiffon (2004), The Tenor Wore Tapshoes (2005), The Soprano Wore Falsettos (2006), The Bass Wore Scales (2006), The Mezzo Wore Mink (2008), The Diva Wore Diamonds (2010), The Organist Wore Pumps (2010), The Countertenor Wore Garlic (2011), The Christmas Cantata (2011), The Treble Wore Trouble (2012), The Cantor Wore Crinolines (2013), The Maestro Wore Mohair (2015), The Choir Director Wore Out (2018)

Back in 2000, I read and reviewed the first book in this series, The Alto Wore Tweed. I don't know what took me so long to get to the rest of it, but once I restarted, I couldn't stop. Four years ago, I said, "This book is just for fun. If there is something of redeeming social value about it, I didn't notice, but I laughed longer and harder than I have over a book in a long time." Our choir director introduced me to the series—we get some of our anthems from St. James Press, and are currently singing one by Mark Schweizer himself. Yes, he knows whereof he speaks when he writes about being a church musician!

Hayden Konig is the chief of police in St. Germaine, a small town in the mountains of North Carolina. He's also the organist and choir director of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, across the street from the police station, and a would-be writer of "hard-boiled" detective fiction. St. Germaine could be Jan Karon's Mitford....except for all the murders.

The stories could stand by themselves as delightful "cozy" mysteries, but what really makes them so amusing to me is Schweizer's highly accurate view of life in the Episcopal church, from a musician's point of view. Allowing for literary license, and concomitant exaggeration and hyperbole, there is so much about the Episcopal Church (and choirs, and other denominations, and small town life) that he just nails. There's plenty of wordplay of the kind I dearly love, and for those in the know, lots of what are known in the computing world as "Easter eggs"—here in Central Florida we call them "Hidden Mickeys." For example, here's one of my favorites:

[Speaking of a tent-revival preacher] The good reverend had an assistant who would be choosing the Gospel passages on which Hogmanay McTavish would preach each and every evening. This assistant was what many politically correct folks might call "Poultry-American." Other folks might call her "dinner." Her name was Binny Hen. Binny Hen the Scripture Chicken.

I'm certain many of Schweizer's gems have gone over my head, but having lived within five miles of Benny Hinn's ministry in Central Florida, I couldn't miss that one.

I said that there was nothing of redeeming social importance in these tales, but the truth is that they contain a good deal of accurate information about both Episcopal Church services and classical choral music. Granted, even in our heyday our thurifer was unable to draw Biblical scenes in smoke; I've never had a choir director who was independently wealthy (that's some wishful thinking on the part of the author, I suspect); and I doubt Tim keeps a pistol in the organ bench (though I've never checked). Thankfully, the rates of crime and moral turpitude among the choir, congregation, and clergy are greatly exaggerated, but for general misbehavior—such as persistent chatting during rehearsal, and whining about the music—it is spot on.

If the "crimes and moral turpitude" are all too human, the language is quite mild for modern writing, the worst I could find being the following passage, in which cleverness covereth a multitude of sins.

Her name was Barbara—Barbara Seville—and she was a mezzo. Some said she slid to the top of the opera world on her husband’s money: that before she married Aristotle bin Laden, she’d been demoted to seamstress and spent most of her time in the wings tucking up the frills instead of on the stage doing the opposite.

Here are some brief passages I particularly enjoyed. Expect further excerpts in subsequent posts. Some are from the mystery itself, and some from the detective fiction Konig writes in his spare time and copies onto the backs of the Psalm copies for the choir to read during the sermon.

"I thought you had given up beer for Lent," Meg said.

"I started to, but then I decided to give up meddling in church politics. In order to do that, I'm going to need the beer."

The following is unfortunately an accurate discription of our own church's sound system.

Our sound system in the church was minimal—just a little amplification for the readers and the priest. Trying to send music through it was akin to listening to a symphony over a CB radio.

I began to suspect that the alto section was trying to forestall the rehearsal of the Harris piece. The alto line had been giving them fits for the last two rehearsals. The soprano section, on the other hand, was sitting quietly and smiling demurely, having already mastered most of the notes in the upcoming anthem. Basses and tenors were, by all indications, asleep.

“You know there’s a handgun in the organ bench?”

“Yeah. That’s mine. It’s a Glock 9mm. Tends to keep the tenors in tune.”

“A new dive just opened up across from St. Gertrude’s. It sounds like our kind of place. Good looking beer-fräuleins in tight shirts, lots of German brews, and Baroque organ music from a three-manual Flentrop with a sixteen-foot heckelphone you can really hang your hat on.”

“Sounds sweet,” I agreed, suddenly interested. “What’s this place called?”

“Buxtehooters.”

"Nancy's off today, Dave's in at noon," I said, and sipped my coffee. "I'm hoping there's no crime wave till tomorrow."

"You're probably okay," said Cynthia. "We've had two murders in two weeks and I heard that yesterday someone tried to bludgeon the bishop to death with his own stick. That should do us for a while."

I sighed. "We've had two unrelated deaths and the bishop just happened to be standing in the way when Humphrey Brownlow decided to attack the video drone with the crozier during a naked baptism."

"Video drone?" said Pete. "Naked baptism? I've got to start going back to church."

"You know," said Cynthia, giggling, "I've heard of other churches that get together to sing hymns of faith, hear a sermon, pray for each other, and then go out to lunch afterward."

"Where's the fun in that?" I said.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 9, 2024 at 6:00 am | Edit
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I've done a lot of business with Shutterfly in the past, which is why I'm still on their mailing list despite all my projects having been relegated to the back burner for quite a while, due to time and priority issues. This was in an e-mail that come about a month ago.

On its face, this could be thought of as simply a considerate move on the part of the company. The fact is, however, that Father's Day is the only time for which I've seen such an offer. For Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, Christmas, "Pride Month," or any other occasion about which someone might take offense, the (reasonable) expectation seems to be that customers will understand that Shutterfly is happy to promote any occasion that causes people to spend money, and exercise their option to participate, or not.

What is so especially offensive about fathers? Every single person who is or has ever been on the face of this earth has a father. You can't get more inclusive than that. You may not like your father, he may have been abusive, he may have abandoned you. Perhaps you are grieving because your own father has died, or because a child of whom you are the father has died, or because you want desperately to be a father yourself but are not, or because you are estranged from your own children.

However, the simple, inescapable, biological fact is that you have a father. Without him, you would be literally nothing.

(Will that always be the case? I've seen enough changes over the past seven decades to rule out nothing. What am I saying? I've seen enough in the past four years to be skeptical of anything that begins, "It can't happen...". If you, yourself, are a clone, or the product of some manipulation that didn't start off with an egg and a sperm, let me know. I don't promise to believe you, but you might have an interesting story.)

Honor Your Father made the top-10 list of imperitives, along with Don't Murder, Don't Steal, Be Faithful to Your Spouse, and other rules that make life worth living.

It is popular, for reasons complex and no doubt at heart diabolical, to diminish the importance of men in general and fathers in particular. Don't fall for it.

Honor your father.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, June 6, 2024 at 10:19 am | Edit
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I miss the Muppet Show! Thanks to a friend with some exciting news, I was reminded of The Cat Came Back. My friend wasn't aware of the song, so I went looking on YouTube.  There are several versions, including some highly sanitized and no doubt considered more appropriate for children, but this is my favorite.


Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 6:49 pm | Edit
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Hope is doing great, nursing and sleeping well.  Heather, too, feels well and actually (to her mother's eyes, anyway) looks more rested than she did in the last month of pregnancy.

On Wednesday, Jon and Grace will go to Boston, so she can have her post-day-100 bone marrow aspirate. Prayers will be much appreciated!

Grace appears to be doing very, very well. We do video chats, and it's wonderful to see her smiling, hear her laughing, and observe as her language blossoms.

The BMA is an important test, to give a picture of what's going on under the surface. Plus, it involves anesthesia, which is always a special concern. Last time they had to poke her twice to get enough sample, so we're praying that they can do it with just one this time.

Thank you all!

UPDATE 6/6/24 Grace made it through the procedure well, though that's all I know at this point.  Boston isn't the best at sharing results, seeming to prefer the "no news is good news" approach.  Chimerism results come much later, anyway.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, June 3, 2024 at 6:43 pm | Edit
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Hope Serena Daley
Born Friday, May 31, 2024, 6:50 p.m.
Weight: 9 pounds, 11 ounces
Length: 22 inches

Hope was born at home, 17 minutes after the family's midwife arrived. Her timing was amazing; she made her appearance at the exact time her oldest brothers had planned to leave for their orchestra concert. Needless to say, they hung around a little longer. But they made it in good time, and it was an excellent concert—we watched the livestream. Too bad the audience was slightly reduced, but Hope can be forgiven for stealing the show at home.

Grace, the proud big sister.

Twenty-three hours later: Hope and Joy.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 2, 2024 at 7:55 am | Edit
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On June 8, 2023, we were in Gdansk, Poland. It was just for a day, and Gdansk was not for the most part a particularly pleasant city to visit. Poland has had more of a struggle than, say, East Germany in the aftermath of winning its freedom back in the 1980's, and Gdansk is far less clean and modern than the former East Berlin.

However, Gdansk was as moving and as inspiring as Berlin, where we had touched remnants of the Berlin Wall and stood at the site of Checkpoint Charlie. Arguably, Poland led the revival that liberated Eastern Europe, and it was an awesome experience to see the Gdansk shipyard where the Solidarity Movement had its beginnings.

An unexpected additional blessing was that we were in Gdansk for the Feast of Corpus Christi, and we were vividly reminded that in Poland during the Soviet era, the Catholic Church resisted the assaults on Christianity more successfully than in most other Eastern European countries, and that the Church's leadership and courage was a major factor in their liberation.

It came as a complete surprise to us, walking around the city, suddenly to find ourselves in the middle of their Corpus Christi Day procession, and what a moving experience that was. Even with all the tourists (like us) milling around and taking pictures. (I was not so moved as not to notice the very clever sound system, with speakers strategically placed throughout the procession to keep everyone together. I've been in too many much, much smaller Palm Sunday services, in which the tail of the procession gets hopelessly and painfully out of sync with the head, not to appreciate this innovation.)

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, May 30, 2024 at 6:00 am | Edit
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I have nothing to improve on the Memorial Day posts I have made in the past, except this thought that has been on my mind lately.

Perhaps the best way we can honor those who stood bravely "between their lov'd home and the war's desolation" is to stop taking for granted the freedom they gave their lives to protect. Let's not defile their sacrifices by treating lightly the present-day assaults on our sacred liberty and Constitutional rights, but work to preserve what was gained at so great a cost. 

Oh! thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 27, 2024 at 9:03 pm | Edit
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We travelled to Bethesda, Maryland recently for my nephew's wedding. We originally booked our flights with Spirit Airlines, but they kept changing our outgoing flight time until it no longer worked for us, so we cancelled that and went with Southwest. That turned out to work well, making it easy to meet two of our granddaughters at the BWI airport. Our return flight, which wasn't so time-critical, we kept with Spirit.

We had several hours to wait for the girls' flight, but BWI is a nice airport for waiting, even though they could do better when it comes to convenient charging outlets. After we were all together, we picked up our rental car from Avis—and experienced our first culture shock. They gave us an electric car! That added a lot of unnecessary stress to the weekend, but I'll save my ranting on that point for later.

Our hotel, a Hyatt, was very nice, if you discount the fact that the parking lot had zero working charging stations for electric cars.

Of course one of the best things about attending a wedding is getting together with family and friends—so much happier than the other major occasion for which far-flung relatives gather. One of the highlights for us happened the first day, when we encountered one of the groom's college roommates, who was wearing this shirt:

You don't run into fans of Jelle's Marble Runs every day, and finding each other was a thrill for all of us. 

The mother of the groom generously provided loaves of her famous pumpkin bread; when the TSA has made you leave behind your knife, you do what you have to do. (The card was washable.)

It was an evening wedding, so on Saturday we did this and that and tried to rest up for the upcoming long night. Some family members were ambitious enough to pay a visit to the National Mall, but the girls weren't excited about the idea and that was okay with us. We did get together at an historic diner for lunch.

The wedding itself was beautiful. Personally, I prefer church weddings, with Prayer Book liturgy and vows, and hymn singing. But it wasn't my wedding, and an outdoor ceremony in a beautiful park with vows written by the bride and groom and music I'd never heard before still managed to bring tears to my eyes. Before the ceremony was over, a light shower combined with chilly temperatures had several of us shivering, but every marriage will have its difficult places. If you don't let them get you down, you might get a double rainbow on the other side, like this one that blessed the reception.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 24, 2024 at 6:05 pm | Edit
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