- Palm Sunday 8:00 and 10:30am with Procession of the Palms at both services (just 10:30 for us)
- Monday 6:30pm, Holy Eucharist
- Tuesday 6:30pm, Taize service
- Wednesday 12:00 noon, Holy Eucharist; 6:30pm, Tenabrae Service (followed at 7:30 by choir practice for us)
- Thursday 7:00pm, Eucharist and Foot Washing, Stripping of the Altar, and Prayer Vigil until Midnight (the choir sings for this service, but we will be home well before midnight)
- Good Friday 12:00 noon and 7:00 pm. Good Friday Liturgy (just the evening service for us)
- Holy Saturday 8:00pm Easter Vigil, Baptism and Solemn Communion (possibly my favorite service of the year)
- Easter Sunday 7:00am Lakeside Eucharist, Pot Luck Breakfast/Brunch from 8:30 to 10:00am, 10:30am Holy Eucharist in the Church (the choir sings for the 10:30 service, of course, but we'll skip the early service)
(Much as I don't generally care for Daylight Saving Time, I note that this year it works out well for our sunrise service—the sun rises at 6:54 a.m. that day.)
For several reasons, the choir has a lighter schedule this year, singing for only three of these services. Not that it lightens the schedule much—we'll attend most of them and we'd generally rather be singing with the choir than sitting in the congregation. But it means that we may not collapse in total exhaustion on Easter afternoon.
Today began, as usual, with the altar party, the choir, and the congregation waving palm fronds and processing around the parking lot and into the church, singing "All Glory, Laud, and Honor." It was a bit sad not to have tambourines this year, but I have to say the two trumpets did an excellent job of keeping our voices more or less in unison.
I miss the days when this was simply Palm Sunday, and not what it has become: Palm/Passion Sunday. I like having a whole service for celebrating the Triumphal Procession, and room for singing the sublime "Ride On, Ride On in Majesty"—though I'm of mixed feelings about that, because our hymnal's version is not the tune I like best for that hymn (WINCHESTER NEW) anyway. But for quite a while now most churches seem to move fairly quickly from the Triumphal Entry to the Passion (which also has beautiful hymns, I'll admit). That seems a little premature to me, given that we have all Holy Week in which to do that. It also takes something away from the Good Friday service I think. But obviously I'm in the minority here.
Today was also a day of Bach3: "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring" for our anthem, a hymn with Bach harmonization, and a Bach postlude. Can't argue with that.
Despite our general antipathy to most forms of rock music, there's one rock concert we try to attend whenever we have annual Disney passes: when Air Supply comes to EPCOT. Recently they performed as part of the Garden Rocks concert series for the Flower & Garden Festival, so we headed to the park for an afternoon of food and fun.
Here's what we sampled this year, with brief comments. Overall much better than the offerings at the Food & Wine Festival, though mostly because they are new and different.
- Fried Green Tomatoes with Blue Crab-fennel Salad, Remoulade and Smoked Paprika Oil — delicious!
- Tuna Tataki with Spicy Yuzu Glaze, Mango, Avocado and Pappadam Crisp — very good
- Citrus Shortcake: Orange Chiffon Cake, Lemon Curd, Mandarins, Whipped Cream, Citrus Crumble — absolutely awesome
- Tropical Freeze (non-alcoholic frozen drink with tropical fruit, including mangos and pineapple) — excellent, good balance of flavors
- Honey Tandoori Chicken Flatbread with White Cheddar Cheese, Charred Vegetables, Clover Honey Sour Cream and Micro Citrus Greens — good
- Local Wildflower Honey-mascarpone Cheesecake with Orange Blossom Honey Ice Cream garnished with Fennel Pollen Meringue Kisses and Petite Lavender Shoots — delicious, and the honey was a gorgeous golden color filled with sparkles (pollen?) that shone in the sun
- Vegetable Spring Rolls — okay, but you can get better at almost any Chinese restaurant
- Toasted Pretzel Bread topped with Black Forest Ham and Melted Gruyère Cheese — yummy
- Chilled Soba Noodle Salad with Pan-seared Tuna and Wasabi Dressing — good, but the Tuna Tataki was better
- Canard Confit à la Provençal: Braised Duck Confit with Tomatoes and Olives on Polenta — good but not memorable
- Earl Grey Tea Cake with Orange-Honey Filling topped with Honeybell Tangelo Buttercream, Honeycomb, and Bee Pollen — fantastic!
No visit to EPCOT would be complete without relaxing in a cool, darkened theater and enjoying Impressions de France, but that's the only ride we did. That's what happens when you can freely visit more often that you want to, and don't have children or grandchildren with you.
Soon enough it was time to head over to the American Gardens Theater and watch Mirko Tessandori (and Those Other Guys) perform. This video was taken from my seat, but actually is a better view than we had because of the zoom. It's just a snippet, but you get the idea.
Here are some mindblowing statistics: Air Supply has been touring for fourty-four years, and this was their 5060th concert. I wonder if after that long, living from hotel room to hotel room, all over the world, begins to feel normal.
It's always good to see friends and family doing what they love. I even attend basketball games when our grandson is playing. :) And I love to hear Mirko in action, albeit it is more fun in an interactive, smaller setting.
If you think backseat driving is annoying, you should try backseat navigating.
We were with a friend, driving through unfamiliar streets and anticipating a delicious Thai dinner. As the one with the shortest legs, I was in the back seat. I usually prefer that position, as both our friend and my husband enjoy keeping up a lively conversation and that's much more convenient if they're both in the front. In the back seat, I can read, or think, or just enjoy the ride, which is generally my preference.
But it doesn't work for navigating.
We had just entered a tricky part of the route, where many turns happened in a very short period of time. I tried to interrupt the above-mentioned lively conversation to give directions. Not only were they not listening to my directions, I became convinced they weren't even hearing me, since every time I jumped into a break in the flow of words, our friend would talk right over me.
Finally, in utter frustration, I raised my voice and cried, "CAN YOU ALL PLEASE STOP TALKING FOR A FEW MINUTES AND LISTEN TO MY DIRECTIONS?"
My husband slammed on the brakes and brought us to a screeching halt.
No harm was done: we were in a residential area and it was safe to stop. But chaos reigned and some not-so-happy words were exchanged for a few seconds.
It wasn't until we were at the restaurant waiting for our meal that some light was shed on what had happened there. Our friend was not being rude when he talked over me: he had left his hearing aid at home, and he truly did not know I was talking.
And it wasn't till we were home (after a delicious lunch) that I figured out why my husband had slammed on the brakes. I had thought he was angry. But picture the situation: You're driving on unfamiliar roads, you are trying to pay attention to someone with a loud voice who is talking in your right ear, and you aren't quite hearing what the softer voice is saying from behind you—until that voice suddenly becomes a shout: "CAN YOU ALL PLEASE STOP TALKING FOR A FEW MINUTES AND LISTEN TO MY DIRECTIONS?"
What does your brain hear?
It hears the one word, "STOP!"
In retrospect, it was funny—it just took us a while to realize that.
What did I learn?
- Just because someone raises her voice, it doesn't necessarily mean she's angry (though she might be a little bit)—maybe she's just trying to be heard.
- Just because someone doesn't respond to you, it doesn't necessarily mean he's rudely ignoring you—maybe he's hard of hearing.
- Just because someone does something that appears to be an outburst of temper, it doesn't necessarily mean he's reacting in anger (though he might be a little bit)—maybe he thinks he's responding to an emergency situation.
And one more thing: Don't try to navigate from the back seat.
It's 43 degrees in Central Florida today, a fitting reminder of thirty-three years ago when it was below freezing and we chose to watch the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger from our front window instead of from the front yard. Heather, who was in first grade at the time, watched from outside, with her classmates.
"It exploded, like when you pop a balloon," she later reported.
She had no idea then that she would later graduate from Carnegie Mellon University, alma mater of Judith Resnik, one of the seven astronauts who died in that explosion. At CMU she found others who understood her emotional response. The loss of Challenger before our eyes left an indelible mark on Central Floridians. For us, it was similar to that left on the rest of the country two decades earlier by the assassination of President Kennedy, and two decades later by the destruction of the Twin Towers.
We still remember.
I also remember this poem by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., quoted at the time to great effect by President Reagan:
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
of sun-split clouds, — and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of — wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there,
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air....
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace.
Where never lark or even eagle flew —
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.
The year of 2018 may stand as the one in which I read the most books ever. Records were made to be broken, of course, but this year's effort was helped considerably by the completion of my project of reading my entire collection of books by Miss Read, which tend to be under 300 pages and easy reading. When I realized that I had tied my previous record before the end of September (73, set in 2015), the thought crossed my mind, "Wouldn't it be cool to reach 100 by the end of the year?" "Impossible," I told myself. Well, you know how I feel when someone says, "impossible," even it's myself to myself. So I set a goal of reaching a full century, without resorting to padding the list with books chosen merely for their brevity. I confess that the goal did change my reading habits somewhat, since after making that decision I put off any particularly lengthy books—such as my grandson's favorite Wheel of Time series with its 900 or so page average—until 2019.
The month with the fewest books read was January, no surprise since we were overseas part of the month, and that's when I read the first of the Wheel of Time books. I read the most books (14) in October. Once again I'm pleased with the mixture, though as I said it was pretty heavily weighted towards Miss Read. I enjoy these projects of binge-reading a particular author; I've also done Shakespeare, George MacDonald, and J. R. R. Tolkien. My current project is C. S. Lewis, which will weigh in very heavily next year, given that our home library alone contains 50 books by or about him.
Here's the alphabetical list; links are to reviews. Titles in bold I found particularly worthwhile. This chronological list has ratings and warnings as well.
- Affairs at Thrush Green by Miss Read
- American Terroir by Rowan Jacobsen
- At Home in Thrush Green by Miss Read
- Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
- Battles at Thrush Green by Miss Read
- The Bible (ESV - English Standard Version)
- The Big Burn by Timothy Egan
- The Birth of the United States: 1763 - 1816 by Isaac Asimov
- The Black Star of Kingston by S. D. Smith
- By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- C. S. Lewis: A Biography by Roger Lancelyn Green and Walter Hooper
- C. S. Lewis: Images of His World by Douglas Gilbert and Clyde S. Kilby
- Celebrations at Thrush Green by Miss Read
- Changes at Fairacre by Miss Read
- The Christmas Mouse by Miss Read
- Country Bunch by Miss Read
- Dancing Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
- The Dark Tower and Other Stories by C. S. Lewis
- Ember Falls by S. D. Smith
- Ember Rising by S. D. Smith
- Emily Davis by Miss Read
- The Excellence Habit by Vlad Zachary
- The Fairacre Festival by Miss Read
- Farewell to Fairacre by Miss Read
- Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Farther Afield by Miss Read
- The First Four Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Force 10 from Navarone by Alistair MacLean
- Foster's War by Carolyn Reeder
- Fresh from the Country by Miss Read
- Friends at Thrush Green by Miss Read
- From a Northern Window by Ronald MacDonald
- George MacDonald: 365 Readings by C. S. Lewis
- George MacDonald's Fiction: A Twentieth-Century View by Richard Reis
- The Golden Door: The United States from 1865 to 1918 by Isaac Asimov
- Gossip from Thrush Green by Miss Read
- The Green Ember by S.D. Smith
- The Harmony Within: The Spiritual Vision of George MacDonald by Rolland Hein
- Heidi by Johanna Spyri
- Highest Duty by "Sully" Sullenberger
- The Howards of Caxley by Miss Read
- Invitation to Number Theory by Oystein Ore
- Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
- The Last Archer by S. D. Smith
- Leave Me Alone, I'm Reading by Maureen Corrigan
- The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien edited by Humphrey Carpenter
- Life Essential: The Hope of the Gospel by George MacDonald, edited by Rolland Hein
- The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
- Lincoln's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly and Dwight Jon Zimmerman
- Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- The Lost Empress by Steve Robinson
- The Man Who Counted by Malba Tahan
- The Market Square by Miss Read
- Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
- The Mindverse Chronicles by Anaya Roma (Diana Villafaña)
- Momo by Michael Ende
- Moonshiner's Son by Carolyn Reeder
- The Pilgrim's Regress by C. S. Lewis
- Mrs. Pringle of Fairacre by Miss Read
- Proving the Unseen by George MacDonald
- New Worlds to Conquer by Richard Halliburton
- News from Thrush Green by Miss Read
- Night Without End by Alistair MacLean
- No Holly for Miss Quinn by Miss Read
- Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t by Steven Pressfield
- On Stage, Please by Veronica Tennant
- On the Banks of Plum Creek by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- On the Way Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane
- One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler
- Our Federal Union: The United States from 1816 to 1865 by Isaac Asimov
- Out of the Silent Planet by C. S. Lewis
- Outlaws of Time #1: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N. D. Wilson
- Outlaws of Time #2: The Song of Glory and Ghost by N. D. Wilson
- Outlaws of Time #3: The Last of the Lost Boys by N. D. Wilson
- A Peaceful Retirement by Miss Read
- Planet Narnia by Michael Ward
- The Problem of Pain by C. S. Lewis
- R & M (beta version) by MB
- Return to Thrush Green by Miss Read
- The School at Thrush Green by Miss Read
- Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder
- The Shaping of North America: From Earliest Times to 1763 by Isaac Asimov
- Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey
- Spirits in Bondage by C. S. Lewis
- Summer in Fairacre by Miss Read
- Theatre Shoes by Noel Streatfeild
- These Happy Golden Years by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Thrush Green by Miss Read
- Time Remembered by Miss Read
- Toby Tyler; or, Ten Weeks with a Circus by James Otis
- Tyler's Row by Miss Read
- Village Affairs by Miss Read
- Village Centenary by Miss Read
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- What the Dog Saw by Malcolm Gladwell
- The Wheel of Time Book 1: The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
- White Fang by Jack London
- The White People by Frances Hodgson Burnett
- The White Robin by Miss Read
- The Wind from the Stars by George MacDonald, edited by Gordon Reid
- Winter in Thrush Green by Miss Read
- The World Encyclopedia of Christmas by Gerry Bowler
- The Worst Hard Time by Timothy Egan
- The Wreck and Rise of Whitson Mariner by S. D. Smith
- The Year at Thrush Green by Miss Read
For the last Sunday of Advent, a somber note.
Sixteen Christmases ago, while the world was singing blithely of joyous birth, we were mourning the death of our first grandchild, whose last breath came but two days after his first. The haunting Coventry Carol spoke to me then as none other. Frankly, I could not handle all the songs about a newborn baby boy; with Coventry Carol I felt merged into an ancient and universal grief.
This reminder that the First Christmas was not a facile Peace on Earth and Joy to the World, and that the first Christian martyrs were Jewish children, is for all who mourn this Christmas, especially those who have suffered the loss of a child.
Isaac Christopher Daley, I still think of you whenever I hear this carol.
What do the trees know?
The acorn harvest has been absolutely spectacular this year. The onslaught began in September and even now they continue to fall like hailstones on our roof, our porch, our yard. They fall in buckets, they fall like machine gun fire, they fall like squirrels playing candlepins. It has been four months, and "it doesn't show signs of stopping," to borrow a line from a song about a different form of precipitation.
This modern, scientific age insists there's no correlation between the number of acorns produced and the harshness of the coming winter. I'm inclined to agree, given that summer has been very reluctant to let go this year. In honor of the official beginning of winter, forecasters are suggesting that we will experience the low 40's for a few days, but they add that within a week the highs will be back up to 80.
Perhaps the abundance of acorns instead presages a winter that will send cooler weather well into the spring, as it did last year, in which case we will be abundantly grateful.
Whatever the case, our squirrels will feast this year.
It was a grandmother moment.
I woke up today to this report from six-year-old Vivienne:
I get to open the Advent calendar! It's my first and only composite!
That's my girl!
I did not take the time to watch President Bush's funeral today, but now that I've seen the bulletin, I almost wish I had.
I don't even like funerals. And unlike many of my friends, I've never longed to be invited to a Royal Wedding, even if I am (ahem!) related to the present Queen of England. I've never felt the need or desire to attend a service at our own Washington National Cathedral. Until now.
In truth, what I really wish is that I could have been part of that service, because as I always say, "I don't do congregation well." Put me in the choir, and I'm happy. I imagine President Bush's funeral was like the biggest service I've ever been a part of, the consecration of our current bishop, Greg Brewer—only a few orders of magnitude grander. Check out the bulletin (it's a pdf). I'm practically drooling.
Well, look what I just found. YouTube comes through again. Here's a recording of the whole service:
Now I only need to find a spare 3.5 hours to watch it.
We are excited to welcome our new rector, Father Trey Garland, to the Episcopal Church of the Resurrection. Already the experience has been educational: I now know the difference between a beretta (a gun) and a biretta (a hat). This is probably important. No doubt our Catholic, gun-collecting friend Bill knew it already, but it was new to me.
Seriously, Sunday was a great first day.
The Kindle edition of all three of C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy books in a single volume is currently $1.99, a 91% price decrease. I don't know how long that will last, but it's unbeatable if you are at all interested.
It's official: our church has a new rector, Father Trey Garland. He's from Texas, so I assume he's up for a big job: taking over for a popular retiring priest without splitting the church. Our church in Massachusetts, which ended its 18-month-long search for a new rector just as we moved back to Central Florida, suffered just such a split. Some would say we took the coward's way out, figuring that quitting one's job, tearing up the family's roots, and moving 1300 miles is preferable to having one's church blow apart. They have a point.
Our current church is not an easy church to pastor, being both highly diverse and highly opinionated in our religious and political views. On the other hand, we do manage to love, respect, and care for each other while working together to get the job (whatever it is) done—a trick our country could learn.
Besides, I have high hopes for Father Garland: he plays the bagpipes. No joke. He went to college on a bagpipe scholarship.
We learned the identity of our new rector on Sunday, and—because I have a reputation as The One Who Looks Things Up—our choir director said he expected me to have a full report Monday morning. He was joking, but that's what I do. I look things up. Our children quickly learned that there was no need to consult the dictionary or an encyclopedia with a question: just ask Mom, and she won't be able to rest until she finds the answer. (I'd say, "look it up," and they'd say, "I don't want to know that badly," and eventually I would look it up myself, because I wanted to know that badly.) There are some people, of course, who find this behavior annoying. My sister-in-law has learned not to idly wonder how tall the Eiffel Tower is, for example, when we're in the middle of playing a game, because I will not rest until I've looked up the answer, even if it is my turn. To me, "idly wonder" is an oxymoron.
That said, I'm a bit peculiar in what I choose to wonder about.
Believe me, I take the situation of having a new rector very seriously. There are many issues that matter, issues that have split churches and driven long-time, faithful, hard-working pillars of the church away. When asked in a church survey what questions I would like to ask a candidate for the position of rector, my suggestions were along the lines of, Who is Jesus? How do you view the authority of the Bible? Of Church history and tradition? How do you promote grace, mercy, and compassion without compromising truth or condoning sin? What is your view of families with young children worshipping together in the service? Do you think we should reshape the worship service to be more attractive to young people? What is your philosophy of music as it relates to worship? What is your vision of the church's role as a member of the community? What is your vision of missions and outreach?
The answers to these questions I await with fear and trembling. But my actual research? Priorities, you know! Here's what I've learned:
I have it on the highest authority (the world-renowned piper who played for Heather and Jon's wedding) that the bagpiping program at our new rector's alma mater is highly respected, and we should encourage Father Garland to make piping a regular part of the service.
I'd settle for Christmas and Easter. And maybe the weekend of the Highland Games.
We're home after a month overseas, and it's raining.
Europe has been experiencing a drought so severe that our Viking River Cruise devovled into a Viking Bus Tour. Looking over the California-brown land of the Netherlands, Porter—who had lived there for four years in the 1960's—recalled that he had never, ever seen Holland as anything but a lush, green country. His only concern about the weather for our planned adventure there with Janet and her family was that it would be a soggy affair, because "it's always raining in Holland."
Except that it wasn't. We had five beautiful days of almost unprecedented sun, accompanied by almost unprecedented heat.
And then, finally, it rained. The grateful grass took notice and stood up, acquiring a green blush overnight. It also rained some during our subsequent visit to Switzerland.
It wasn't until tonight that I realized why it the experience was somewhat disorienting. It rained in Europe much as it rained in America's Northeast when I was young. That is to say, I relearned what umbrellas are good for, and more than half the time didn't bother with one anyway. I got a little wet; I soon got dry.
But tonight we are back in Florida, and it is RAINING. The water is pouring out of the sky so fast that the gutters overflow before the flood has a chance to reach the downspouts. Any minute now I expect to see the Maid of the Mist cruise through our back porch. Then again, maybe I missed it when a lightning strike, so close that the bottoms of my bare feet tingled, sent us scurrying back inside.
If in the Netherlands we didn't bother with umbrellas because they were hardly needed, in Florida we don't bother because after 30 seconds one is soaked to the skin anyway.
Now that's rain. One night of this and all the cruise ships would be back in business.
There are at least nine swallowtail caterpillars here. I need to find a butterfly that likes lemon balm (currently overgrowing the parsley).
Ours is a very safe neighborhood, so I rarely worry when Porter goes out for a run, as he does several times a week. If the time of day happens to be dusk or dawn, I can't resist warning him to watch out for bears, and of course there's always the risk of angering a dog that's running loose. But we've always considered those to be remote possibilities.
The attack, when it came, was totally unexpected.
Due to a mild injury, Porter chose to walk this afternoon, rather than to speed along at his usual running pace. Suddenly, he staggered under a powerful blow to the head. Totally out of the blue. Literally, out of the blue. Shocked but still upright, he looked up to see one of our local hawks with murder in his eye. In truth, Porter coudn't exactly see the bird's eyes, and in any case it was probably murder in her eye. Our best guess is that there was a nest nearby and the—not helicopter, but certainly hovering—parent saw this slow-moving, strange man as a threat. The man thought it best to be on his way quickly.
Porter wears a hat when he runs, to keep off the sun. I rarely wear hats, because they make me too hot. Today, Porter's choice was vindicated.