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Posts Tagged ‘South Carolina’

Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

 

It is the best time of the year in this part of the world. Daytime highs in the 80’s and low 90’s , evening temperatures in the 60’s. No mosquitoes – perhaps because it hasn’t rained in a month, it seems. I don’t mourn their absence. It makes sitting outside under that crescent moon, finding Venus and Saturn, the only way you want to spend your evening.

— 2 —

Our Charleston people have evacuated. They were going to come here, but they both work for companies with offices in another, inland city, so they’re going to be put up in that spot for the duration by the company, waiting with millions of others to return, dreading what they’ll find.

Returning from travel, that last mile or so before getting home always has my insides in knots. I dread pulling up to the house. What will greet me? Will we have been broken into? Will a tree be on my roof? A flood in the kitchen?

(Nothing like that has ever happened, by the way. And having good neighbors who would communicate with you if, well, a tree fell on your house, takes away the worry, if you’re rational about it. Which is not always easy to be.)

Anyway, imagine how that dread is multiplied by coming home after a hurricane has moved through.

 

— 3 —

 

We got a new piano. Finally. I had the slightest twinge of sentiment as the old one was loaded up and carted away..but really only a twinge of a twinge, if there is such a thing. It was not that I didn’t want to replace it. Of course I did. It was terrible, and my son, who is quite talented and promised that indeed, he is all in with the piano stuff – deserved something better to play. It was just that feeling of letting go of something that had been in my life for decades. My grandmother had given it to me probably around 1970, I imagine because my parents convinced her to fund it. It was a Storey and Clark spinet, which is not even made any more and which, experts agree, was not a good piano.

Honestly, why I had hauled that thing around the country for thirty years, I don’t even know. For what it cost to move it, I probably could have just bought a new/used piano at every stop, and sold it again when it was time to move on.

But now…we have a decent one. We also have it upstairs, and not in the basement. When we first moved into this house three years ago, it was just the path of least resistance to put the piano in the basement, which, because the house is built on a slope, is actually ground level. It just slipped right in.

In piano shopping, I had been apologizing for this, not that any of the salesmen were demanding explanations, much less apologies, but one did tell me that if there is no moisture problem, a basement is not the worst place for a piano. After moisture, temperature variation is the enemy of good piano health, and since the temperature in basements tends to be more consistent than other areas of a home..it can work.

But we just wanted the piano up out of the Lego Emporium and up where we spend most of our time. (Yes, I think Lego Days might be approaching twilight…can it be true?) I had explained the front door situation to the guy at the piano store and he assured me it would be fine. In retrospect, I see that I probably should have taken a photograph and shown him. For when the delivery men arrived, they took one look at the slope of those measly five steps and the angles up past them and said…Nope.

O…kay.

What aboimg_20161006_231003.jpgut the back patio? I had mentioned this to the piano salesmen and he said that no, since there was a large patch of yard that would have to be navigated, that wouldn’t work. The piano would have to be brought over a paved surface – it would sink in the ground.

The delivery guys said he was wrong. They had an all-terrain dolly that would do the job, no problem. But they didn’t have it with them, and would have to go get it. Which they did, and an hour later, there it was.

It’s so much better. My son is really enjoying it, and guess who else is playing again? Yeah, me. It’s such a better instrument, plus it’s upstairs…I’m back in business, and even re-ordered that book of Gershwin piano music that was waylaid either in Williamsburg or Germany – where ever my daughter took it that time she took it.

 — 4 —

Well, I couldn’t put it off any longer, so we have embarked on Orthodontic Adventure #4 for my family. It’s been a while – ten years, I guess. I was going to let #4 Kid take care of it on his own when he became an adult, since the issues seemed cosmetic to me, and not that serious. But then this summer, a couple of teeth started trying to come in…unsuccessfully…and it became clear that this wasn’t just cosmetic. And that I am not qualified to diagnose teeth.

But man, I hate orthodontic practices. I hate the buzz of profiteering cheerfulness, I hate the matching polo shirts, I hate the little fountains and beige tones.

So when I heard that an acquaintance of mine was a huge fan of the local university’s dental school clinic, which includes an orthodontic section, I was intrigued.

And, after two appointments, I’m a fan, too.

First, it’s about half the cost of private treatment. That cost must be paid up front, but I’m telling you – when I walked away from that desk, knowing that the next couple of years or so were paid for, from records to retainers..it was a great feeling.

Secondly, the whole process is very interesting. You have a resident assigned to you, and he or she works under a supervising orthodontist. In the initial assessment, the resident worked alone at first, and sketched out a treatment plan. Then the supervisor came in. He asked, “So what’s your treatment plan?” But then he stopped and continued, “No, don’t tell me. Let me look, then I’ll sketch out a plan, and we’ll compare.” Which is what they did, and it was fascinating to observe the teaching that was going on – and good for my son to see it to, to see that this is not magic, nor is it cut-and dried and always obvious. Medical treatment of any kind is not just a matter of matching items from different columns, and it’s good for him to observe that process.

— 5 

I read two novels over the past week. I enjoyed both as light reading that’s a little though-provoking.

I’ll begin with the one I enjoyed less – The Leftovers by Tom Perotta. Perotta is the author of Election and Little Children, both of which are very good and have been made into great movies. The Leftovers has been adapted by HBO as a series – two seasons have aired (I haven’t watched it.).

The novel is about the aftermath of a Rapture-like event,in which about 2% of the world’s population just…disappeared. There’s never any explanation given of the event, and since we enter the story three years after it occurred, we don’t see the characters wondering about it themselves – when we meet them, they are simply trying to cope, to deal, to move on.

So what the book is about is grief and loss. Really, that’s it. It’s about how human beings live with the reality of loss. What the characters of this novel live with in a very focused way is what all of us live with: this or that person was here one day, and then gone the next. What does that mean for my life? Do I dishoner that person by “moving on?” What about if I discover that person wasn’t who I thought he or she was? Where can I find meaning? How is respectful or even possible to live a “normal” life, knowing that people – including yourself – will someday be gone?

It was okay. The choice to not make the “why” or “where did they go” an issue is intended, I suppose, to put the emphasis on the responses of the leftovers. This makes a sort of sense, but the ultimate effect, I felt, was a flattening of the events of the book. It really was just about a bunch of people responding to the losses of loved ones in various ways, but because the peculiar circumstances are not an issue, there seems to be no reason why the loss couldn’t have been via a flu epidemic or chemical leak.

It was an interesting device to explore grief, but done in, I fear, by a kind of spiritual and intellectual reserve.

6–

Much- much –  better was the quirky novel Amp’d. I won’t say, “I recommend it,” because I don’t say that – people have different tastes, and recommending books usually gets the recommender in trouble from someone who imagines they will be getting one thing because they have an image in their mind of what kind of person they believe the recommender to be, but of course they actually have no idea, and the book is in fact quite different from what they expected, and possibly has swears and drugs in it, and maybe sex. Surprised and disappointed email to follow.

So. Don’t read this book.

It’s the story of a guy – Aaron – who has lost his arm in an car accident and returned to his father’s house to recuperate and figure out what to do with his life. It was funny – often hilarious, and just page after page of succinct, on-point observations. Making frequent appearances are a pet alligator, Cancer Boy and various lost and seeking friends and family members, as well as the fish Aaron is hired to count as part of a ..fish counting project. Also a presenter of short radio bits on scientific trivia, and the content of these bits is simply perfect. You can hear the voice as you read.

I think the best way to communicate what the book is about is to tell you that it begins and ends with lists. It begins with a list called “Things you can’t do with one arm” and ends with “Things I never did with two arms.” The second list is far more intriguing , and there’s the point, right there.

You know what? Everything is better with humor in it. Even life-affirming lessons. Especially life-affirming lessons.

— 7 —

Melanie Bettinelli recommends a children’s books…and it looks great!

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

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Seven Quick Takes

— 1 —

Just a bit more travel before the gates clang shut. M and I went down to south Alabama last DSCN0786Saturday (blogged about here) and today we’re in Charleston. I had thoughts of seeing Some Things, but dear heavens, it’s hot. I have an enormous tolerance for and affection for hot weather, but 96 degrees in the city while leading a posse of an 11-year old, 15-year old, 24-year old and 2.5 year old…..is too much.  No complaining, but the red faces and general discomfort made anything beyond an hour downtown not enticing. Tomorrow we might try the beach or an indoor museum…

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(Snapchat – amywelborn2)

 

— 2 —

Recent reads:

Still working on Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which my high schooler is doing for school summer reading. I had never read it, so this was a good opportunity.

My advice? You should read it. I’ll blog more about it when I’m finished, but the bottom line is that it’s such an important part of American history (sold 300,000 copies the first year – galvanized the nation), is a fascinating exercise in social activism – in a time in which social issues of different sorts still divide our country – and is very easy to read. I had envisioned a lot of dense Victorian text, but Stowe had written for newspapers and magazines before she started this novel, and wrote in a very accessible, popular style – too popular  – as in sentimental – at times. The treatment of the races is challenging to get through. I am not sure I would require young people who are black to read it. It’s hard.I’m an advocate of Huckleberry Finn, but Uncle Tom’s Cabin is different. Twain’s writing was more layered and his authorial point of view does not strike me as racist at all, but with Stowe, even though she was an abolitionist and wrote to convince the reader of the humanity of slaves, much of the narrative perspective is tinged in our contemporary eyes, with racism – all slaves are human, we are told, but the norm of what it means to be human is presented primarily in a European paradigm – how can you not accept Eliza’s humanity? She has such lovely light skin!

But…more later.

 

— 3 —

Rachel Ray, which is not a biography of a Food Network star, but rather an 19th century novel by Anthony Trollope. It was talked up on some blogs I ran across as an undiscovered gem, and it was, of course, free, and I do like Trollope, so I dug in.

 

 — 4 —

 

It’s a very simple story – of a young woman’s rocky engagement to a young man.  So what else is new in 19th century literature? It wasn’t the most fascinating book I’ve ever read – and it’s not among even the better half of Trollope, but it was fairly entertaining in parts.  What made it a challenge was that its original serial nature was quite evident in protracted passages in which characters contemplate – in detail – the events that were related – in detail – in the previous chapter. I did a bit of skimming.

— 5 

But making it worthwhile were Trollope’s insight into human nature and motivation – even if we do get a character’s motivations described several more times than necessary.  In this story, the community – family, church and town – play an enormous role in managing expectations and behavior between a man and a woman.  The balance Trollope creates is pretty interesting – yes, the young man and woman, it is implied, need and deserve more freedom than the community wants to give them – but also, yes, perhaps the restraint and boundaries have some value.

I was most interested in two specific areas that Trollope brings into the novel – beer and religion. For one of the families involved in the story runs the local brewery, which, it is universally agreed, produces just terrible beer.  But that is just the way it is – and Luke Rowan the young man who wins Rachel’s heart – has, by inheritance, obtained a share of this brewery run by Mr. Tappitt, and wants more for the purpose of actually making decent beer. The tussle over this issue was very amusing, and, of course, a metaphor for the young people at the heart of the story, straining for freedom from the community’s restraints, for reasons that no one can really fathom, because isn’t everything working so smoothly now?

The tantrums spoken of were Rowan’s insane desire to brew good beer, but they were of so fatal nature that Tappitt was determined not to submit himself to them. 


…That anything was due in the matter to the consumer of beer, never occurred to him. And it may also be said in Tappitt’s favour that his opinion — as a general opinion — was backed by those around him. His neighbours could not be made to hate Rowan as he hated him. They would not declare the young man to be the very Mischief, as he did. But that idea of a rival brewery was distasteful to them all. Most of them knew that the beer was almost too bad to be swallowed; but they thought that Tappitt had a vested interest in the manufacture of bad beer — that as a manufacturer of bad beer he was a fairly honest and useful man — and they looked upon any change as the work, or rather the suggestion of a charlatan.


Mr Tappitt was not a great man, either as a citizen or as a brewer: he was not one to whom Baslehurst would even rejoice to raise a monument; but such as he was he had been known for many years. No one in that room loved or felt for him anything like real friendship; but the old familiarity of the place was in his favour, and his form was known of old upon the High Street. He was not a drunkard, he lived becomingly with his wife, he had paid his way, and was a fellow-townsman. What was it to Dr Harford, or even to Mr Comfort, that he brewed bad beer? No man was compelled to drink it. Why should not a man employ himself, openly and legitimately, in the brewing of bad beer, if the demand for bad beer were so great as to enable him to live by the occupation? On the other hand, Luke Rowan was personally known to none of them; and they were jealous that a change should come among them with any view of teaching them a lesson or improving their condition.

6–

As for religion. It plays a great role in the book, as Rachel’s mother turns to her pastor, Rev. Comfort, for advice on her daughter’s situation, and her other daughter – a widow – spends much of the novel contemplating a more permanent alliance with another clergyman – a Dissenter – whom she respects but does not quite trust. She has her own money and a marriage would require her to give control of this money over to her new husband…which she is not quite comfortable with.

Trollope has much to say about religion, but I particularly liked this passage, in which he digs into the tormented soul of Mrs. Ray, Rachel’s mother. Has this type of spiritual response disappeared with the genteel 19th century novel? I don’t think so..

And it may be said of Mrs Ray that her religion, though it sufficed her, tormented her grievously. It sufficed her; and if on such a subject I may venture to give an opinion, I think it was of a nature to suffice her in that great strait for which it had been prepared. But in this world it tormented her, carrying her hither and thither, and leaving her in grievous doubt, not as to its own truth in any of its details, but as to her own conduct under its injunctions, and also as to her own mode of believing it. In truth she believed too much. She could never divide the minister from the Bible — nay, the very clerk in the church was sacred to her while exercising his functions therein. It never occurred to her to question any word that was said to her. If a linen-draper were to tell her that one coloured calico was better for her than another, she would take that point as settled by the man’s word, and for the time would be free from all doubt on that heading. So also when the clergyman in his sermon told her that she should live simply and altogether for heaven, that all thoughts as to this world were wicked thoughts, and that nothing belonging to this world could be other than painful, full of sorrow and vexations, she would go home believing him absolutely, and with tear-laden eyes would bethink herself how utterly she was a castaway, because of that tea, and cake, and innocent tittle-tattle with which the hours of her Saturday evening had been beguiled. She would weakly resolve that she would laugh no more, and that she would live in truth in a valley of tears. But then as the bright sun came upon her, and the birds sang around her, and someone that she loved would cling to her and kiss her, she would be happy in her own despite, and would laugh with a low musical sweet tone, forgetting that such laughter was a sin.

And then that very clergyman himself would torment her — he that told her from the pulpit on Sundays how frightfully vain were all attempts at worldly happiness. He would come to her on the Monday with a good-natured, rather rubicund face, and would ask after all her little worldly belongings — for he knew of her history and her means — and he would joke with her, and tell her comfortably of his grown sons and daughters, who were prospering in worldly matters, and express the fondest solicitude as to their worldly advancement. Twice or thrice a year Mrs Ray would go to the parsonage, and such evenings would be by no means hours of wailing. Tea and buttered toast on such occasions would be very manifestly in the ascendant. Mrs Ray never questioned the propriety of her clergyman’s life, nor taught herself to see a discrepancy between his doctrine and his conduct. But she believed in both, and was unconsciously troubled at having her belief so varied. She never thought about it, or discovered that her friend allowed himself to be carried away in his sermons by his zeal, and that he condemned this world in all things, hoping that he might thereby teach his hearers to condemn it in some things. Mrs Ray would allow herself the privilege of no such argument as that. It was all gospel to her. The parson in the church, and the parson out of the church, were alike gospels to her sweet, white, credulous mind; but these differing gospels troubled her and tormented her.

 

 

— 7 —

And now, for the first time in many years, I’m returning to Muriel Spark – The Girls of Slender Means. Tight, dense and acerbic. I’ll report when I’m done. If I don’t melt in Charleston on Friday.

Follow on Instagram and Snapchat (amywelborn2) to see how that turns out…

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

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Today – our last day in Charleston – we headed north of Mount Pleasant to the Center for Birds of Prey – Avian Conservation Center.

I had heard about this place a couple of trips ago, but could never squeeze in a visit, especially considering it is only open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

It’s a great facility, doing important work. Saw many raptors, including a few bald eagles, a vulture restaurant, a kite, red-tailed hawk and huge Eurasian owl in flight, and a couple of barn owl hatchlings.  It’s well worth an afternoon.

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(The vultures’ food is roadkill, provided by state road cleaning crews)

 

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*Consider following me on Instagram where I post regularly while traveling.

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— 1 —

Well, how about some shots and brief thoughts from doings over the past few weeks?

Maybe starting with the water pipe table at a Stuckey’s in the middle of Georgia?

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Who needs a pecan roll anyway!

— 2 —

Jump back to Our Lady of Guadalupe, almost a month ago, at a local parish.

– 3—

Then after Christmas, a trip to South Carolina.

 

— 4 —

After a day there, I ran the boys down to Florida. On the way back up to SC, I stopped in Savannah. I had been there years ago when they were just starting to work on the Flannery O’Connor childhood home, and had high hopes of being able to actually tour it this time.  But of course, it was closed. Alas!

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— 5 —

But across the square was hopping – the Cathedral. Tour buses spilling out dozens and a constant rate, not just to tour the building for its own sake, but for the large-ish (by American standards) nativity inside.  I sat in there for a while watching folks.

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“Savannah Cotton, of course,” remarked the docent.

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— 6

Over the next few days, I finished up work, baby-watched and got to know the Charleston area a bit better.

There was the day I took the baby downtown and to my great amazement found a parking place on the street right away!  A car was pulling out, and what luck for us! Victory! I’m practically a local now!

I parked, got the baby out, got the stroller out, packed up the baby, then turned to put the money in the meter…..which had a 30 minute limit.

Well, I wasn’t going to waste that stroller-wrangling time, so we made the best of it and just headed down the block, and, as it turns out, into a spot I’d never been to before, that was quite interesting.

The graveyard at the Unitarian Church. 

What makes it interesting, in addition to the normal interest that an historic  graveyard holds, is that most of it is overgrown.  The sight initially seems disrespectful, but upon reflection, I can see that a total overhaul and landscaping effort would disturb the crowded gravesites and probably upend and uproot things to a disturbing degree. The effect is, I imagine purposeful: this is life and death, effortlessly intertwined.   I’ll go back sometime, definitely.

— 7 —

 

Also…Lent!  A month from Sunday!

Time to order your parish/school materials – even if you want to order some for a group of friends or a class…here you go!

A Stations of the Cross for teens:

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Biblical Way of the Cross for everyone:

For Ave Maria press, we wrote John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross. The current edition is illustrated with paintings by Michael O’Brien.

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There’s also a digital edition in app form.

Reconciled to God – a daily devotional. Also available in an e-book format. Only .99.

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Looking for a book study for a group? How about Matthew 26-28: Jesus’ Life-Giving Death from Loyola. 

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For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

 

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Old Sheldon Church ruins, off of 17 near I-95 in South Carolina.  Built in 1757, burned by the British during the Revolutionary War. Either burned again by Sherman or gutted by area residents after the war for rebuilding materials.

Supposedly the first conscious attempt in the Americas to imitate a Greek structure.

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…just returned from a few days in Charleston. I’m going to throw this post up as a warm-up for finishing  the Living Faith devotions I have due…soon.  Ahem.

Beach days every day.  Just as in Florida, it’s wise to go in the morning, because you can predict that rain is probably going to fall in the afternoon, and indeed, on two of our three days it did. Babysitting for my grandson every afternoon and evening.  A good visit!

But first, on the way down…I had thought we would stop at Mepkin Abbey, but once Friday morning came around (we stayed Thursday night in Santee…cheap Best Western hotel, thanks to our many nights in Best Westerns…out West), I decided that a visit to a swamp would get people up and going with more enthusiasm than a visit to a Trappist monastery.

Next time….

It was the Four Holes Swamp in the Beidler Forest.  It’s just a quick jot off of I-26.  Very easy to get to, and a good walk to see many cypress, birds, lizards (my son caught one and was…er..privileged to have it reach around and bite its own tail off as an escape route while in his hand) and this fellow, whom we watched swim and hunt for quite a while…from a safe distance on a wooden walkway.

Didn’t see any gators this time, although they told me inside there were a couple in the lake.

Two mornings at Isle of Palms.  It’s a pretty crowded beach, but clean, with good showers, changing rooms and so on. Good surf. (That’s it, above)

The third morning, we went to Sullivan’s Island, which is a much nicer beach – a bit more isolated and not as crowded.  It doesn’t have facilities, though, but since the surf was calm that day, no one got super sandy, and the ride back in the car to the hotel was quick enough so no one got uncomfortable and the car didn’t get filthy (-er).

Sullivan’s Island is right across the bay from Charleston.  You can see Fort Sumter and Charleston when you walk to the end of this stretch of beach.  And of course, this is also a regular sight…..

Many deceased jellyfish on this stretch.

Metal-hunter wading in the water behind my son. 

A live sand dollar, burrowing into the sand.

Our other good wildlife sighting was a glass, or legless lizard.  It was in the middle of the road as we walked to Sullivan’s Island, and at first glance, we thought it was a snake, but my Herpetologist took a closer look and pronounced in a legless lizard, and when we returned and compared a photo to our memory of what we’d seen…yup, that’s what it was.

(Edgar Allen Poe spent a little more than a year of his life on Sullivan’s Island.  Read why here.)

Last night, I went out and walked part of the way over the Ravenal Bridge.  I intended to go out this morning and walk the whole thing, but didn’t get up early enough.  Next time, along with the Abbey.

Mass at the Cathedral Sunday morning.  I had wanted to go by the Emanuel AME Church and pay our respects, but of course it would have been impossible to go down there on Friday, and there were funerals through the weekend, so that’s another next time, for certain.

On the way back, we made a quick stop and visited the ever-gracious Rachel Balducci – the boys took a basketball break with her boys and since part of our conversation involved the number that social media has done on our writing brains, it’s appropriate that there’s no Bloggish, Instagrammic, Twitterish or Facebook evidence of the meeting, but trust me…it happened.  Even if the Internet Forest isn’t listening, a tree does fall….

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Another bishop has tentatively made moves toward celebrating Masses in the Cathedral ad orientem. You can read about it here.  

I would say that “the blogs were abuzz” with this news, but that wouldn’t be the case, since blogs aren’t the place where those conversations are happening anymore – it’s all on Facebook, and to a lesser extent, on Twitter. So, yes, I saw some FB conversations on this, all of which featured the predictable tut-tutting about Vatican II and not going back and exclusion and such.

Well, all I can say is that if your feelings are hurt and you don’t feel affirmed because the priest isn’t looking at your face for part of Mass….

…I don’t know what to say.

Versus populum is an *anomaly* in the history of liturgical churches.  For most of the history of the Roman Rite, Mass was celebrated ad orientem. Eastern Catholics and the Orthodox? Behind a screen, for heaven’s sake.  And, as readers and I discussed in a thread from my previous blog way back when, it is not unseen in some Protestant denominations, either.  High Church Anglicans, of course, but even some Lutherans. 

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As it happens, last weekend, we attended Mass in South Carolina, and this happened:

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It was at Stella Maris Church on Sullivan’s Island. Stella Maris is a lovely, tiny church.  I had hoped that it might be a little less crowded this time, since the summer season was, of course, over, but it was not to be.  The place was packed, with, I believe, the overflow area packed as well.  Fortunately, we got there just in time to get a seat in the main body of the church – which, as I said, is tiny and historic.  It can’t be physically expanded…so they just have to pack them in in whatever way they can.

Tons of servers, good music, solid, focused preaching. Post-Mass prayers, which, in my limited experience, are becoming more and more common in the southern Catholic churches.

And, of course,  the Eucharistic Prayer prayed ad orientem. The fact is, the sanctuary is too small to accommodate another freestanding altar, and that is just fine.  It was all done matter-of-factly with no fuss and it didn’t seem that the engaged, loudly-singing congregation felt excluded, alienated and crushed by clerical privilege, but who knows, I could be wrong.

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— 1 —

Well….we had a little accident this week.

By “we,” I mean my 9-year old, who, while messing around a cub scout meeting Sunday night, caught his finger in a folding chair.  Minutes before this happened, I had seen him doing that thing – lifting himself up in the chair, folding it up under him – why this was entertaining, I don’t know, but I did shoot him a look and waved a finger at him.  He sat down, but, as I said, minutes later….I looked up again and there was a crowd of adults around his chair..and blood.

The cut was deep and open enough that the nurse-mom who was present recommended a trip to the ER.  If it had not been Sunday night, I would have simply gone to an ambulatory care center, and even without that, in retrospect, I think, with a good bandage, we could have waited until the morning to fix it.

But, in the moment, with what looked like a big, deep, fleshy gash, I thought, “Might as well take care of it now.  How long could it take?”

FIVE HOURS.

— 2 —

So yes, I’ll rant.  There was a physician’s assistant there.  She did the intake. Why she couldn’t have just glued him up right there, I have no idea.  But instead, we had to go back out and wait two hours for an x-ray, then wait an hour for the doctor, and then wait a little bit more for him to get his stuff together (he was very nice) and glue the finger up, instructing us to go see the pediatrician in a week.

For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this process took so long.  I suppose triage was in action, which means that our very minor situation was pushed to the bottom of the list, but there’s something about that that doesn’t make sense, if you have personnel free who can actually take care of the problem as it appears at your door.  It was a busy night.  As far as I could tell, there was one doctor on the floor.  But still….

(We are lucky.  Knock on wood, we hardly every use the medical system. This was the second or third time in my life I’ve been in an ER, between the three off us and not counting check-ups, we average two visits a year to a doctor of one sort or another.  Nothing chronic, no big problems.  These boys are healthy anyway, but I’m sure that not being in school for the past two years has done nothing but help that situation. We’ll see what this winter, with one in close quarters with other kids on all day, will bring.

But anyway.  That’s done and lesson learned.  I talked to people all week who said things like, “Yeah, we had to take Junior in  to another hospital for three stitches on his chin and we were there for five hours,” so this was not unique.  We spent a lot of time watching and listening to a lot of people with serious problems. We had a lot of people to pray for, and a reminder of how fortunate we are in our good health.

I heard the story of Daddy’s collapse at least five times as it was told to visitors and over the phone, and I have to believe that there’s a reason that I was in a position to hear, over and over again, “He always said that if he went while he was in church, he’d count it as a blessing.”

— 3 —

Adventures! In Assisi!

The interviews and such are starting to accumulate.  I was on the Son Rise Morning Show this morning, Ann is welcoming a Very Important Documentary Crew into her home next week (actually..well, not quite.  But there will be cameras and she’ll have a chance to talk about her process, and I’ll let you know when it’s airing and where to see it.) I’ll alert you as more pop up.

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(Check out this lovely blog post with a review of the book!)

— 4 —

Are you following the Bearing Blog family’s trip to Europe? It’s wonderful.  I marvel at her coherence and ability to write so well on the run.

— 5 —

Speaking of travel, today Michael and I took a little field trip.  There are so many wonderful places to go around here, and I’m just sorry that we’re so chained down at the moment.  There are a couple of days during the week we can go places, but we need to be back by 3 for the other kid’s school dismissal.  Weekends are eaten up at this point by scout activities, birthday parties and soon, basketball.

(We did go to Charleston last weekend though – if you follow me on Instagram, you might have picked up on that. Why Charleston, you ask? Because that’s where son, daughter-in-law and (yes) grandson (!) live.  So we try to head over there as frequently as we can. We wish they were closer, but hey, if we have to go somewhere, we’ll take Charleston. )

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Kayaking at Shem Creek Park

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Anyway, the field trip today was to the Natural Bridge of Alabama – the longest one east of the Mississippi – take that, Virginia!

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About an hour away, a very nice, simple outing. Old School tourism.

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In addition to the bridge, lots of caves – not deep caves, more like overhangs.  But that’ll do in a pinch.

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He did his cursive and copywork before we left, then did some worksheets in the car and then talked up a storm to me about everything from various Amazonian animals to the Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter during our walk through the trees and amidst the rocks.

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I couldn’t get a good photo that could convey the size of the “bridge.” It was big, though. And an interesting cave.

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The “Indian Face”

Earlier this week, he was very pleased, because a grocery store clerk greeted his presence at my side in the early afternoon with a cheerful, “Are you homeschooled? rather than the usual lame, “Skipping school today, eh?”

She even asked what cover school we used.

You add that to the ER doctor’s story about his own son whom they homeschooled, and it was an affirming week, homeschool-wise.

— 6 —

Where we went to Mass on Sunday…a gorgeous church with amazing music. Chant, good hymnody, superbly done but not showy, absolutely in support of authentic worship.  The priest, in his late 60’s or early 70’s, was of the generation that had been formed to preside as if the congregation’s experience of God depended on their cheerfulness.  He gazed out us, grinning, during the entire Mass. A good chunk of the homily was about he, himself and him.  As I said, this is the way these guys were trained. They were taught that (clears throat, assumes mellifluous tones) the assembly’s experience of the Risen Lord’s presence among them begins with their experience of a hospitable and affirming environment, which of course begins with the Presider.

As I said, I’m sure this is what he was taught, and the man has helped more people in their times of need over the past month than I will my whole life.  But still.  Stop smiling at me, stop welcoming me, stop looking at me and just pray, please.

(The problem, however is that when a priest – usually one of the younger ones – affects a more solemn demeanor, they are taken to task by other parishioners who wonder why Father can’t be more personable and tell more jokes. They can’t win, of course.)

— 7 —

And some dogs like to ride on boats.

"amy welborn"

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— 1 —

These will be super quick and probably super non-informative.  But here we are.

— 2 —

Another quick trip to Charleston, to give family members a hand during a move.  Because of the babysitting involved as well as rain all day Thursday we unfortunately didn’t make it to the beach.  But we did revisit the aquarium and Shem Creek Park.  Oh, and  walked around the Citadel, a walk during which I thought of two things:

1) House of Cards.

2) My previous visit there – I spoke at the chapel back in DVC days. Mike took Joseph to a baseball game  during my talk and reported afterwards that Darius Rucker had sung the national anthem and we thought funny things like that would happen forever.

Weird and  a bit sad -and I think f*** it and thank you and oh well and everybody dies and help me do this well and even better and someday  and it  just is what it is.

Michael caught (briefly) a toad and a small snake.   Not at the Citadel but at other places. In one of our downtown wanderings, I discovered that downtown Charleston now has a Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream shop – when I want to make ice cream, but don’t feel like doing a custard base, I fall back on Jeni’s recipe (egg free), which is very good.  The shop is GREAT, with an emphasis on very grown up flavors, which I really enjoy.

— 3 —

It used to be that after time away, I spent the last five minutes of the approach home wondering/worrying whether or not my house had been broken into while I was away. Now I spend the last five minutes wondering whether my house has been broken into and if the snake is still alive.

(Answer from tonight: house safe, snake still alive. And had shed while we were gone, which is what I thought was going on the last few days before we left when he wouldn’t come out of his little cave….)

— 4 —

Life with my 9-year old:

This child on the drive home, randomly, at random times:

1. “Jiro dreams of sush! Jiro dreams of sushi!” Followed by numerous quotes from the movie, which he and I had watched some months ago.  I mean…months.

2. “Mom, what’s the place where they study to be priests?”
“A seminary.”
“Right. And what’s the seminary we visited in Chicago?”
“Mundelein.” (this was in March, btw)
“Do you remember the young guy who was there, the guy with black hair who was like in his twenties?”
“Brandon?”
(Brandon Vogt, of course)
“Yeah, him! Well, I wish I had his voice.”

And I have no idea why he finds Brandon’s voice so…estimable!

So…that’s life in the car with this kid. Never a dull trip.

— 5 —

Including breakfast at Denny’s, studying up on his Mayan.

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Do you think I’m kidding when I’m saying that I’m researching “Learn Mayan” books for him for this “school year”?

Not kidding.

UNSCHOOLING, BABY!

— 6 —

Here is me with my BBC radio podcast recommendations.  This week, it’s this:  “Educating Isaac.”  As a person interested in both education and music, I found this program quite fascinating and even moving.  The presenter is a pianist and music scholar who takes on the current dominant paradigm of music training, which is essentially about being able to duplicate and imitate.  He wonders if there is another way and finds it in the 17th and 18th century Naples conservatories.

And here is where your (okay, my) Catholic and historiographical interests kick in.  For part of what the presenter takes on is the paradigm of music history that highlights the mostly German tradition while completely ignoring the Catholic Italian tradition of music education, formation and composition which, he says, was even understood at the time as being superior.  Today we think of the “conservatory” as being a facility for training musicians, but in actuality the term is rooted in institutions that, yes, were about music training, but that were started and run by the Church as a means of “conserving” the lives of orphans and other very poor children via music.

I’m telling you – listen to this program. 

— 7 —

One Last Travel Blast coming this week – my older at-home kid is going back to school (for positive reasons, but still…school…forms..papers…uniforms..blah…) so our days of free n’ easy travel are about to come to an end …for at least the next nine months.  So stay tuned here and on Instagram to keep up with this last trip….

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— 1 —

That kind of week….

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— 2 —

Yes, we’ve been in the Charleston area all week.  Isle of Palms, to be exact.

I had never spent time here before my son and daughter-in-law relocated a couple of years ago.  (Well..not exactly true.  I did speak at The Citadel maybe 8 years ago or so….my primary memory, though, is being continually on edge while we were spending time in the Bishop’s residence, full of Old South Antiques as it was, and we having two under-6 year old boys as we did….)

I like it.

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— 3 —

This past Sunday, we went to Mass at Stella Maris on Sullivan’s Island.  It’s a tiny 19th century Gothic church, located right across from Fort Moultrie.  They have scads of Masses on the weekends – the area is so heavily touristed and the church is so small, including two concurrent Masses at 9:30.

Now, please note, if you can – the church seems to be mostly in its original state, which means that this is the original altar, with no extra altar stuck in the sanctuary.

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Yes, Mass was celebrated ad orientem.  It was mostly in English (except for the Gloria in Latin), and no Propers, but with decent hymnody and some Bach from the hard-working choir and organist.  The homily was quite good, centered on the concepts of exitus and reditus as an way of talking about the Ascension and mission.

And can I repeat?  Mass was celebrated ad orientem.  The Leonine Prayers were recited after Mass.  The homily was theologically substantive and evangelical. There were no self-referential extemporaneous goings-on. The place was packed.  The congregation was attentive, reverent and vocal.

Everyone survived and the earth continued to revolve (I think).

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From Fort Moultrie, Fort Sumter across the way.

 

 

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Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan’s Island

 

— 4 —

The major finds of the week have been a foot-long horseshoe crab tail, and this:

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Joseph found it on the beach, and for the life of me, I couldn’t figure out what it was.  It (the striped thing) was alive, firmly attached to the shell, but a puzzle.

So we put it in water – planted it shell side down –  and waited to see what would happen.

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Of course – a sea anemone.

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Not as gorgeous as those you find in Pacific tide pools, but exciting because It Had Been Found.  A cute pet for a few minutes, until we threw it back into the sea, hoping for the best.

(Sorry for the lousy photos.  All I had was my phone, and of course I couldn’t see anything on the screen, so I was just pointing, pressing where I thought the button was, and, once again, hoping for the best.)

— 5 —

Today, we took a journey here:

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It is Capers Island, a barrier island.  We went on one of these tours, and it was fun – we saw lots of dolphins, learned about crab traps and oyster beds,

 

 

it was fun - we saw lots of dolphins, learned about crab traps and oyster beds, saw a huge dead horseshoe crab on the beach, and played amid this landscape. 

 

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Oysters

 

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saw a huge dead horseshoe crab on the beach, and played amid this landscape.

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(Seeing the dead horseshoe can never beat the time – two years ago, I believe – when down on the gulf, a live one scuttled past us in the water – that event made that vacation THE BEST VACATION EVER for then 7-year old Michael, to be sure. )

— 6 —

I threatened to make us all get white shirts and have our photograph taken jumping on the beach, but no one took me seriously because, of course they know me, so there was no reason to even fake horror at the thought….

 

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— 7 —

Beach reading?  Well, with two boys in the ocean, my eyes are pretty much glued to their bounding figures and bobbing heads, but when I can, I’ve been trying to read No Name by Wilkie Collins.  An odd thing, but it was free on Kindle, the plot sounded intriguing, the reviews were good, so 19th century beach read, here we go!

 

"amy welborn"

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