Three cheers for small-town America! I know small towns and villages can be narrow and stifling and ingrown—but they can also put on festivals that warm my heart and give me hope for our country. I love the Independence Day parade and party put on by little Geneva, Florida, an eclectic and heart-warming mix of modern America and old-time Florida. And I'm sure that if I were in Hillsboro, New Hampshire this weekend, I would love their Fest and Fair, which sounds like something from my own childhood. Until this year, the event was called the Balloon Festival and Fair.

Long ago, nine balloon pilots lived in Hillsborough. They’ve all left or stopped flying, and balloons have become too expensive for the fair, which serves as a fundraiser for local firefighters and service organizations, Daley said, so the Hillsboro Balloon Festival and Fair has dropped “balloon” from its name.

The man quoted above is Jon Daley, our son-in-law. In addition to being one of the town's three selectmen (the form of local government in New England), he is a fireman and an EMT with the Hillsboro Fire Department, and his wife (our daughter) is part of the Ladies' Auxiliary, so planning for, working at, and attending the Fest and Fair is mandatory in their family.

Mandatory—and fun, at least for the kids, even without the balloons. I suspect one or more of our grandchildren may be running a lemonade stand there, too.

The fair hopes a bigger car show and a new skillet toss will bring fresh air.

The skillet toss must be New England's equivalent of Geneva's cow-chip toss (which in these modern times does not use the real thing, in case you were wondering).

Aside from the lack of hot-air balloons, there was only one thing I found depressing about the article:

[This year] here will be cheaper beer. “Before we had fancy beers, and everyone said they don’t like fancy beers, so we’re doing Bud and Bud Light,” Daley said.

Better stick with the lemonade.

The fireworks – “a lot better, a lot bigger, a lot longer than any of the other small-town stuff,” according to Daley – are back. So is one of last year’s hot draws: the unicorns. “This year they’re bringing two bigger horses too,” Daley said, clarifying that he meant to refer to horses’ elusive and horned relatives.

I know a couple of Swiss granddaughters who would want to come to the fair for the unicorns alone.

Admission is free, though some activities may cost money, and parking is $10 per car. No animals, aside from working service dogs, are allowed.

And unicorns.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, July 12, 2019 at 9:39 am | Edit
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Having recently emerged from a long labor, I am again amazed at how like childbirth is the creative endeavor.

The creative endeavor in question was a new book. Not that kind of book, I hasten to assure my friends and relatives who are published authors. My speciality is Shutterfly photo books—primarily for our grandchildren—with titles like The Art of Frederic Edwin Church, The Cantons of Switzerland, and Grandma and Dad-o Visit the Gambia. But if my artistic efforts are on a small scale, they are nonetheless artistic efforts, and extraordinarily like that highest of creative works of which mankind is capable, the co-creation with God of a unique human being.

As usual, this book began with nothing but a joyful idea and a due date: I had an offer for a "free" (pay only for shipping & tax) Shutterfly book with an expiration date of June 30. At that point I had no idea what the book would be about, just that it would be. The project perked along happily in the back of my mind as I occasionally thought about possibilities and laid the groundwork. Ah, the early days, when the delivery date seems so far away! I had plenty of time, and expected an easy "pregnancy."

As happens all too often, life took some unexpected turns, some good, some bad. Complications developed.

We had planned a major trip in May and June, which always plays havoc with my projects, but in this case there were two time periods in which I thought I could count on quiet time for some intense work. During our New Hampshire visit, all of the family but me were to have gone on a four-day camping trip, leaving me alone in the house to create. Later, during the Connecticut portion of our trip, we were to be there a full week before the main event, and our plans were simple: Porter—talk with his dad, work around the house, and play board games with his sister; Linda—work on this project! Almost two weeks of very little else to do? Surely I could accomplish much!

Yeah, right. First monkey wrench? Not long before the start of the trip, Porter experienced what turned out to be an intense sciatica attack. It was a miracle he was able to lie down flat for the MRI—which showed that his spine is a ticking bomb, ready to cripple him whenever the bulge hits the sciatic nerve. Despite this, we prepared for the trip in between medical necessities, and had some unexpected company (of the best kind!); in the end he was feeling well enough to want to make the trip. I wasn't so sure, but by another miracle he managed to make the long, long drive, only stopping more frequently than usual to rest and stretch. We arrived in New Hampshire only one day later than planned, and the camping trip was the following day! At that point, I felt I needed to be wherever Porter was, especially in a camping situation. We both decided to go, and it was great fun.

But there went the first writing session.

The second one was obliterated through two factors: (1) Porter's 92-year-old father became ill, and (2) we decided to bring two of our grandchildren with us when we left New Hampshire. So that week was spent on other activities—those more important than writing and those more fun. That's "fun" in the general sense—I find the creative process immensely satisfying, and yes, fun (most of the time), but not many agree.

When finally home (though not back to normal), I realized my due date was rapidly approaching and something had to be done about it. We all know that induced labors are more intense and painful than natural labors, and so it was in this case. Soon I was in my least favorite part of the book-creating process: wading through huge piles of data, making painful decision after painful decision necessary to make it all manageable. When the pain was at its worst I was ready to give up due to frustration and exhaustion. Of course, I was then in "transition," the point where laboring women are ready to jump out of windows—or defenestrate their husbands.

On to the blissful agony of the "pushing" stage, where the labor pains finally make obvious progress and the end is in sight. I had created the covers—for some reason, having the covers done makes everything else seem possible. I was on a roll. Only the necessities of life stopped me. I love this stage! The work was still tedious and painful: the process of making a photo page consists mainly in deciding what not to use, reluctantly casting aside photo after photo that just won't fit. To use another analogy, you can't make a sculpture without removing the wood or the stone, and the closer you get to the finished work, the more important and delicate each removal is. But oh the thrill as each page fell into place! Normally I'm good for nothing but sleep after nine o'clock at night. I blew past that mark, unheeding. Rarely do I work as efficiently and as effectively as I did that night, despite the lateness of the hour. Nine, ten, eleven, midnight—the hours passed and the pages slowly and steadily fell into place. It seemed nothing would stop me.

But finally, at 3:30 a.m., something did. My Shutterfly deal expired at midnight Pacific Time, and I still had four pages to go. Often, when I've barely beaten a deadline (never this late before!), once the deadline is actually past, Shutterfly will extend the offer by one more day. Not so this time, when I could have used it. By 3:30 it was clear that there was no point in pushing myself any further. I had another offer almost as good that didn't expire for another week. I went to bed at an hour very near to the time I often arise in the morning. Not since the birth of my firstborn had I worked through that much of the night.

The next day I was glad I had gone to bed, albeit for what turned out to be only a couple of hours' sleep, because there was still most of a day's worth of labor ahead of me. Of course, my sleep-deprived brain wasn't as efficient as it had been the night before! But I made it, and—after much more proofreading and editing than if I had finished the book at 2:55 the previous night—I clicked on the "Order" button and the baby was born!

And here's where the childbirth analogy breaks down. I won't actually have the book in my hands for at least a week, for one thing, and for another: with this particular book the pain is gone and the sleepless nights are done.

I chose the subject of this book for two reasons. One: I think it will bring delight to Porter's father, who could use some sunshine in his life right now. Two: since I could make it with no text, and I had plenty of appropriate photos at hand, I thought I could do the job quickly. I even thought of trying Shutterfly's feature where they take your photos and make them into a nice book for you. But I couldn't do it. I just couldn't. I have my standards, and I must tell the story myself. So be it.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, July 2, 2019 at 1:43 pm | Edit
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I have many sins on my conscience, but Evil E-mail Man proved that he was talking through his hat by choosing one that I know beyond the shadow of a doubt I have never committed.

Apparently, "I have a video of you screaming at your kids, and if you don't pay me a bunch of Bitcoin, I'll release it to all of your contacts" is not considered nearly as threatening as "I have a video of you visiting an internet porn site."  But at least it would have been credible.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, June 5, 2019 at 8:30 am | Edit
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The contrast between our children's high school music experience and our New Hampshire grandchildren's couldn't be greater. The band/chorus/school sizes differ by almost a factor of 10.

If I had to choose one over the other, I don't know which I would prefer. At first glance, I'd have gone with the larger programs hands down. Our Central Florida school opportunites are amazing, with music and theater performances (and equipment/resources) of near-professional quality. Plus the area also has magnet schools and private schools dedicated to the performing arts. The opportunities for serious students of the arts are wonderful here. Not perfect—when we were directly involved, the flaws were obvious—but further experience has shown me how much better off we were than many other places.

But what if you just want to have fun? Or even if you're dedicated to your art, is it better to be in the middle of a great talent pool, or at the top of a small one? I don't think there's an easy answer.

But one thing I do know: One advantage of small town schools is that they're more likely to be flexible, e.g. allowing a fifth grader to be in the seventh grade band, and another student to play in both the middle school and the high school bands.  (The elementary, middle, and high schools are all on the same small campus, making the latter possible.)

More to the point of this post, there's room in the spring concert schedule to add a blessing for your grandmother when she makes the 1300-mile journey to hear you play and sing.

This was a total surprise.

Earlier in the year, Jonathan had transcribed Seminole Wind, which I love, from a YouTube video, got together with some of his friends, and arranged it for the group. They played it for their classmates, and I'd had a chance to hear a cell phone recording of that, for which I was very thankful—but the sound quality was not all that great.

How Jonathan managed to persuade the music director to let their group serve as the introduction to the spring concert, I don't know—but Jonathan can be very persuasive and their director is very supportive. Here they are:

If I hadn't been wrangling the camera (which I had gotten out just that minute in preparation for taking a snapshot or two), I would have cried. What a gift!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 6:58 am | Edit
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I saw this posted by someone in a nearby neighborhood:

I'm very thankful that I have good neighbors. I have a neighbor who just put up security cameras at her house, she lives behind me and her cameras pick up any activity in my back yard! Great neighbor in more than just one way.

Great neighbor, if you are actually comfortable with your neighbors recording everything that goes on in your backyard!

I see the advantage in the case of nefarious activity, and I've accepted that privacy is not what it used to be, but surely this is going too far. A 24-hour Peeping Tom? And I'm supposed to be grateful?

Come to think of it, I actually have no idea what our neighbors are recording. If you see us on YouTube, let me know.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 27, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Edit
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Florida supposedly makes it easy to renew my driver's license. I can renew in person (cost $54.25), online (cost $50.00) or by mail (cost $48.00 plus one stamp). You read that right—it's cheapest to renew by mail, and they charge extra for online renewal, which ought to be easiest and cheapest. No problem. We need to write a check now and then to keep in practice.

The DMV kindly mails me a reminder letter, well before the expiration date, letting me know that my license is expiring but that I don't have to worry bout REAL ID compliance because I already am. They give me my renewal options (see above), and a place where I can change my address. Perfect.

But then they include a whole page about REAL ID compliance, which they have just stated is unnecessary. And a third of a page where I can check off any of 20 charities to which I can contribute the whopping sum of $1 if I increase my payment by the same amount. REALLY? On my driver's license renewal? Since when is the DMV in the business of distributing charitable contributions? And what makes them believe I think any one of their 20 organizations would use my money better than my own list of preferred charities?

But what's even stranger is the next page, an entire page dedicated to something else that's none of the DMV's business: voter registration. Yes indeed, you can use your driver's license renewal form to register to vote, or to change your registration. Most of it is conveniently filled in for you. And there's a place at the bottom to sign. That's for the voter registration, I'm sure, since you are agreeing to "protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Florida," and last I knew that wasn't a requirement for being able to drive legally. In fact, I don't even remember that being part of registering to vote, as if I were being sworn in as President, but I registered a long time ago. Be all that as it may, I'm certain that many people simply sign in the box, assuming it's part of the license renewal, leaving themselves open to fraud or even identity theft.

What should have been a one-page application or less—instructions, place to change address, what more do you need?—has become four pages of small and confusing print. 

Plus, these four pages are labelled Page 1, Page 2, Page 5, and one without any page number, with no hint as to where or what might be pages 3 and 4.

One more thing. The instructions clearly state where to mail your application form and check—though it's less clear which part of the four pages must be returned. They even include a handy pre-addressed envelope for the return. The catch? The address on the envelope is not the same as the address in the instructions. Not to mention that the back of the envelope specifies a way to make out the check that also differs from the instructions.

Finally, there's this confusing and disturbing statement:  Your completion of a driver license or identification card application will constitute notification of consent for voter registration purposes.  Huh?  What exactly am I consenting to?

I'm going to take a chance and send in my form (hopefully the right pages) and my check (hopefully to the right address), as best I can figure out—with the additional hope that I have not in the process consented to something I shouldn't have.

It's a good thing there's plenty of time before my current license expires.

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 7:00 am | Edit
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As I said to a choir friend, on revealing that I had no idea who or what the Blues Brothers were, there is no limit to the depths of my ignorance when it comes to pop culture. Today I experienced Exhibit B, in a way strange enough to be worth reporting.

The first thing I saw on my Facebook feed this morning was a short post by a friend. It said, simply,

JFK blown away what else do I have to say?

The next thing I did was run to Google News, more than half expecting to read about a new terror attack on New York City.

I found nothing of the sort. And no one else on Facebook was talking about it, so I concluded it was a joke or a comment meant for other eyes than mine, and forgot about it.

Then this afternoon, I got a haircut.

One thing that annoys me about Supercuts (but it's true almost anywhere) is the incessant music in the background: music I don't know with a pounding drumbeat I can't stand and incomprehensible words. I view it as part of the expense of a haircut. At least the volume is acceptable.

But today, as I was sitting in the chair getting trimmed, they played a song with kind of a catchy melody, and I managed to make out a few words, notably a refrain of "we didn't start the fire." That was intriguing, and that line sounded familiar even if the music did not.

If you know me, you know it's hard for me to let a mystery rest, so as soon as I was back in the car and before turning the key, I pulled out my phone and queried on that phrase. Then I knew what nearly all the rest of you know: That's the title of a song by Billy Joel. (For the record, I have heard of Billy Joel. I couldn't tell you anything about his music, but I have heard of him.)

And then it got weird. I started reading the lyrics, noting that they actually made some sense of the apparently garbled words I had heard. And somewhere in the middle I read this:

JFK blown away what else do I have to say?

I still don't know what Don was trying to say on Facebook, but now I know where it came from. What were the odds against solving that problem, on the same day, at Supercuts?

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 17, 2019 at 3:22 pm | Edit
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Thinking of my own mother on Mother's Day.

  • Four children
  • Seven grandchildren
  • Eleven great-grandchildren...and counting

Every one of them a credit to their heritage.

I have the best siblings, children, nephews, and grandchildren imaginable.

Now that's a legacy.

Happy Mother's Day to all the wonderful mothers in our family!

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, May 12, 2019 at 6:12 am | Edit
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I've written a little about face blindness (prosopagnosia) before. It's something I didn't realize I was afflicted with until late in life, though once I learned what it is, I realized that I've had it as far back as I can remember. I had just thought that I was particularly incompetent at recognizing people. When I was a teenager, I think I irretrievably insulted one of my best friends by failing to recognize her when I passed her in the street. This wasn't after a hiatus of 40 years and lots of changes—we'd last seen each other maybe a year before. But I had moved to another state, and did not expect to see her when I did.

Life for me was filled with little traumas like that. It was especially difficult when our children were young and I spent a lot of time volunteering in their activities: whether it was a church choir or a school group, people expected me to be able to recognize my students, and I often could not. That's tough when you're a field trip chaperon trying not to lose anyone!

Just last night at church I "passed the peace" to one person twice, not realizing that we had already greeted one another.

We prosopagnosics develop all sorts of compensatory tricks. My voice-recognition is particularly strong. When we're watching a movie, Porter amazes me with his ability to recognize actors who have played in other movies or shows—and he's still amazed that I can't. But let me hear the actor's voice, and I usually make the connection before he does. I have one friend I run into every year or two at the grocery store. Fortunately, she's a talkative person, either on her phone or conversing with a fellow shopper; hearing her voice before she spots me has saved me great embarrassment.

Other strategies involve recognizing people's hair, glasses, way of walking—anything but the face. That works well ... most of the time.

This past Maundy Thursday, our rector, who had for months sported a fairly long hairstyle with loose curls, walked into church having been shorn like a sheep. I truly had no idea who he was. This was before the service, and he was working up in the altar area. I thought maybe he was a new altar server, or perhaps a member of the Vestry whom I didn't know.

Then he spoke.

It still blows my mind that other people get the same instantaneous recognition from a face as I do from a voice.

I really hope I never have to give testimony as a witness to a crime. But if you plan to do something stupid, be sure to change your appearance, and don't talk. You'll be safe with me.

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 10, 2019 at 7:25 pm | Edit
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A friend posted this exchange with her son, and it's too beautiful not to share. I've edited it a bit, and left out all the identifying details, but it's her own true story.

The little boy, having already experienced a busy and exciting Easter even before the church service began, was weary, and rested in his mother's arms. His attention wandered to one of the Stations of the Cross pictures on the nearby wall.

"What's that picture? Is that Jesus? Who's holding him?"

"That's Mary, his mama. She held him after he died on the cross."

"Mamas always hold their little boys."

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, May 1, 2019 at 4:13 pm | Edit
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Holy Week began with Palm Sunday, about which I've already written. I am so grateful that we live less then 10 minutes from church: much as we loved our previous church, the 45-minute drive each way meant that we rarely attended mid-week services. I didn't realize what we were missing.

Since our new rector arrived, we've regularly had a Mass on Monday nights. This was not much different. The congregation is never large for this service, but is a nice mix of people who attend different services on Sundays and thus don't normally interact much. We're getting to know new people, and I'm getting my Prayer Book Rite I fix. (It's Rite II at the Sunday service where the choir sings; I like both forms of the service, but I've been missing Rite I.) The sermons are different, too: more on the intellectual side, and very interesting—I'm getting a bit of an education in church history.

Tuesday was a "Contemplative Eucharist," with music from the Taizé Community. It is interesting that while I dislike the simplistic repetitiveness of much of the so-called "praise and worship" musical style, I find the Taizé songs, which are also simple and repetitive, deeply moving. The fact that they are gently-paced, hushed, and meditative makes a good deal of the difference.

I forgot to save the Wednesday bulletin, but it was a Tennebrae service, with many readings and prayers, and the gradual extinguishing of candles and lights, ending in darkness. It finished just in time for us to make our way across campus for choir rehearsal.

Maundy Thursday was the first service since Sunday that involved the choir. It was a multi-part service, with much singing, Scripture, and prayer, the traditional Footwashing, Communion, and the Stripping of the Altar. The hymns were: O Sacred Head, Sore Wounded; There Is a Green Hill Far Away; Humbly I Adore Thee; Alone Thou Goest Forth; and My Song Is Love Unknown. The choir sang two anthems: Ave Verum (Mozart), and Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring (Bach). Note that we sang the Mozart in the original Latin, but my German-speaking readers may be disappointed that we sang an English version of the Bach.

On Good Friday we skipped the noon service, which I regret a little since it also included the Stations of the Cross and I was curious as to how that might be different with our new rector. Maybe next year. Instead, we went to the evening service, with solemn readings, Communion, and just one hymn, Were You There?, sung without accompaniment.

Saturday evening was the Great Vigil of Easter, which might be my favorite church service of the year. There is so much to it! We began outside the church with the "lighting of the new fire" and the lighting of the Paschal Candle—and a lot of smaller candles in the hands of the congregation. We processed together into the church, which was very dark and lit only by our candles for the entire "vigil" part of the service. This was highly effective, but the solemnity was not without its amusing moments. As Episcopalians, we're pretty good at juggling hymnals and prayer books, but to do it all one-handed, with a lighted and wax-dripping candle in the other, was more than usually challenging. You'll be happy to know we did not burn down the church, nor even singe anyone's hair—that I know of. 

We finally extinguished and set down our candles as the lights went up for the Great Alleluia of Easter—a good thing, for at that point we needed to pick up our bells to follow the instruction, All ring bells with great fervor!

The choir did not sing for this service, but there was plenty of music, including the Exsultet. I liked it better when the whole choir sang it, instead of just the priest—but I'll take what I can get. Hymns: Through the Red Sea Brought at Last; The Day of Resurrection!; Alleluia, Alleluia, Give Thanks; I Am the Bread of Life; Jesus Christ Is Risen Today. Duet: Sound the Trumpet (Handel). And at least one more beautiful solo or duet, but memory is failing me on the details.

Easter Sunday: Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

To those who would ask why one would attend two Easter services (the Vigil and the Sunday service), I can only ask, why have cake and ice cream? I suppose the same logic could be applied to the 7 a.m. sunrise service—which I'm told was very beautiful—but not for us, not now. I'm an early morning person, but not for getting out of the house. We barely made it to the 8:00 potluck breakfast as it was. I contributed my customary devilled eggs. This photo is from our 2007 Easter in France, where I learned the trick of dying the whites. The eggs were similar this time, though the colors were darker due to my efforts to use up some old food dye. There were many other wonderful foods on this obviously post-Lenten spread: as the rector remarked, "What else says 'Christ is risen' like sugar-laden carbohydrates?"

The service at which the choir sang was one of those high festivals that include incense, but to my surprise and pleasure, this year it was pleasant and did not choke the choir. I like incense—at least if it's in church and not used for covering up the smell of marijuana smoke, as it was in my college days—but in my previous experience the smoke makes it difficult if not impossible to sing. I don't know if this was a different formulation for the incense, or simply a better distribution, but the choir was grateful.

If you can access Facebook, you should be able to watch the whole service if you so choose.

We had a brass quintet for the occasion (two trumpets, French horn, trombone, and tuba), and that was spectacular. Of course there was much singing, I mean lots and lots of singing: hymns, service music, anthems, clergy, congregation, choir, solo, duet. Also many readings, Baptism and Renewal of Baptismal vows, and of course Communion.

Hymns: Jesus Christ Is Risen Today (of course!); The Strife Is O'er; We Know That Christ Is Raised and Dies No More; The Day of Resurrection. Yes, I missed Hail Thee, Festival Day! but was well-consoled, knowing we will sing it the second Sunday of Easter. Twelve days of Christmas, fifty days of Easter—it's not just wine for Communion and at our parties that shows we know how to celebrate.

Anthems: Sound the Trumpet (duet); Alleluia from Mozart's "Exultate Jubilate" (solo); Ave Maria (with the Children's Choir); Vivaldi's Gloria In Excelsis Deo.

And the postlude? Choir and congregation (plus the clergy, I'm certain) singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus for a glorious finish!

A few of us from the choir customarily go out to lunch after church, and on Easter our ranks are swelled to party-sized. This year we went to Caffe Positano, not my favorite place, but acceptable—they were able to fit us in, and we were there for the good company anyway. It was after 3 p.m. by the time we were home and partook of one more Easter Sunday tradition: collapsing, and taking the rest of the day off.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 28, 2019 at 7:52 am | Edit
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For anyone who has not already acquired the Kindle version of S. D. Smith's The Green Ember: it is being offered for free until Monday.

Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, April 25, 2019 at 11:20 am | Edit
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 Now it begins: Holy Week 2019. Here's what the schedule looks like.

  • 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.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, April 14, 2019 at 5:05 pm | Edit
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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.

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, April 2, 2019 at 9:43 am | Edit
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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.

Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 8:33 am | Edit
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