Monday, December 28, 2009

Human Trafficking Discovered at Religious Goods Shop

I was shocked to find the local religious goods shop dealing in human flesh.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Veni Redemptor Gentium

As one who has tried his hand at translating Latin breviary hymns into rhymed English verse, I am in awe of the 19th century Englishmen who did the same but made it look effortless. Here is an example of the astounding cleverness and sensitivity of John Mason Neale: his translation of Veni Redemptor Gentium of St. Ambrose of Milan, the hymn appointed for the Office of Readings in the latter part of Advent. He has managed to omit nothing of the Latin's content in verses that scan perfectly, rhyme, and sing well. Nothing is forced or artful; nothing hints that the English is a translation. Art concealeth art. Or, as we say today: You da man.

VENI, redemptor gentium,
ostende partum Virginis;
miretur omne saeculum:
talis decet partus Deum.
COME, Thou Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth.
Let every age adoring fall:
such birth befits the God of all.
Non ex virili semine,
sed mystico spiramine
Verbum Dei factum est caro
fructusque ventris floruit.
Begotten of no human will
but of the Spirit, Thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.
Alvus tumescit Virginis,
claustrum pudoris permanet,
vexilla virtutum micant,
versatur in templo Deus.
The Virgin's womb that burden gained,
With virgin honor all unstained.
The banners there of virtue glow;
God in his temple dwells below.
Procedat e thalamo suo,
pudoris aula regia,
geminae gigas substantiae
alacris ut currat viam.
Forth from His chamber goeth He,
That royal home of purity
a giant in twofold substance one,
rejoicing now His course to run.
Aequalis aeterno Patri,
carnis tropaeo cingere,
infirma nostri corporis
virtute firmans perpeti.
O equal to the Father, Thou!
gird on Thy fleshly mantle now;
the weakness of our mortal state
with deathless might invigorate.
Praesepe iam fulget tuum
lumenque nox spirat novum,
quod nulla nox interpolet
fideque iugi luceat.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light
where endless faith shall shine serene
and twilight never intervene.
Sit, Christe, rex piissime,
tibi Patrique gloria
cum Spiritu Paraclito,
in sempiterna saecula. Amen.
O Jesu, Virgin-born, to thee
Eternal praise and glory be,
Whom with the Father we adore
And Holy Spirit, evermore. Amen.
P.S. One stanza is left out because by the time I figured out how to do tables I was near tearing my hair out with rage.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Bad Christmas Music, Part Deux

Someone asked if it was really possible to complete the destruction of Western Civilization simply by listening to bad Christmas Music. For all those who it is. Give it a shot.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bad Christmas Music 2009

A few years back I started a new holiday tradition of compiling a mix CD of bad Christmas Music. The search for previously unknown nativity lows is always exciting. Last year, a chance visit to a thrift store yielded three CDs containing some real gems, including one featured in this year's CD: "The Reindeer Shuffle." Discount retailers sometimes make helpful contributions as well, such as the supremely annoying CD "Kidzbop Christmas" (don't look for it; you will be turned into stone). Why "Bad" Christmas Music? Here is a quick analysis. Much of these songs are bad because they try to do something well but fail. One laughs at them, but in the laughter a trace of pity remains, a sort of "there-but-for-a-microphone-go-I" holiday spirit. At the karaoke bar they would have earned their applause, and maybe a beer. Not so with the top tier of trash; namely, the Christmas songs performed, or deformed, by today's top-rated recording artists: e.g. Christina Aguilera and Lauryn Hill who made the cut for this year's CD. For these singers we have no pity, only a kind of wordless fear no longer capable of being described in writing since the death of H. P Lovecraft. Behind these songs lurks the invisible hand of way too much money. A children's choir singing Brian Wilson's "Little St. Nick" (cf. Kidzbop) is pure silliness, soon forgotten, a mere curiosity to be trotted out at parties when conversation lags, but Aguilera, backed by professionals, wailing and grunting her way through "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" -- this track alone could destroy what is left of Western civilization. Keep Christina out of Christmas is my motto.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


Tomorrow afternoon I am going to get in my car and start driving. I will be away from the parish for two weeks. It's been over a year since I was away for more than five days, so I can't remember what it feels like. I am happy that I was able to find enough priests to cover Masses in English and Spanish, Baptisms, Holy Hours, and Confessions -- it takes five priests to replace me for two weeks. If I left for a year it would take, let's see, five times twenty-six is...
I haven't packed yet, but I did get out this morning to purchase four new tires for my car, which just turned 101,000 miles old.
Here is a nostalgic picture of the tire place, a no frills joint on South High Street. They don't provide free coffee or magazines to read, but they do offer quick service at quite reasonable prices.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Convent Chapel Progress

Yesterday we were blessed with a fine crew of volunteers who worked on the convent chapel. In these photos, you can see old door and window openings being filled in to accommodate new doors and windows. The cedar siding was recycled from an interior wall that used to be an exterior wall. You will also see the truncating of a standard door to make it fit a non-standard opening. Some of you will have to stoop before entering the chapel. It's good for you.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Rudder that Went for a Swim

At the very end of September, when Lake Erie sailors are facing up to the reality that it is time to remove the boat from the water, came a sustained and mighty wind out of the west. The waters around Port Clinton are not that deep to begin with, and the wind pushed a lot of the more useful water down to the other end of the lake (and we hope they appreciated it) causing the water level to drop 5 or 6 feet. Coincidentally, that's just about exactly how deep the water normally is where Vidi Aquam is docked. You do the math.
VA, secure at her mooring, moved neither to the left nor to the right. She just moved straight down. One of the dock owners went to look things over and found VA looking pretty, but somewhat abbreviated. Her rudder was gone. Either floated off its pintles or bumped off. I was not too upset when I got the phone call, as I had been thinking of buying a new, more aerodynamic rudder -- and then I found out what new ones cost. That sobered me up a bit. Then, two days after the initial call, came another informing me that the lost rudder had washed up at a neighboring dock. The photo shows the wandering rudder next to my garage door, which gives you a scale. It is about six feet high and weighs about 35 pounds (.024 hectares). It could use a wash and brush-up sometime before April.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Conehead (not from France)

Last week something or someone bit Mr Martin in the hind leg. The marks of two incisors are still visible. To prevent him from licking the wound, he has been fitted with a protective cone around his neck and forbidden to go outside. He is not happy about this. CONTEST: Caption this photo!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Cradling Chrstianity

Last Thursday I was invited to a fund-raising event at a suburban parish. "Cradling Christianity" seeks to raise awareness and funds to support Christians living the Holy Land. Thousands of Christians travel to the Holy land every year, pumping millions of dollars into the local economies. At the same time, the countries that receive tourist dollars from Christians are making it very difficult for Christians to live there. Here is an excerpt from one story about this problem:

Lamenting the effects of Israel’s security wall upon the Palestinian Christian communion, Patriarch Fouad Twal, Archbishop of Jerusalem, predicted that the number of Christians would dwindle from 10,000 today to 5,000 in 2016 because of emigration fostered by Israel’s security wall.

The wall has “enclosed many Palestinians in ghetto-like areas where access to work, medical care, schooling and other basic services have been badly affected,” he said. “We have a new generation of Christians who cannot visit the holy places of their faith that are only a few kilometers from their place of residence.”

At the event, Father Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land, exhorted us to support our fellow Christians especially through enabling higher education.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Labor Day on Lake Erie: Leisure and Loss

Up on the lake, Labor Day is traditionally considered the end of the sailing season. Yet September is a great month for sailing. Not too hot. Wind. Beautiful fall foliage along the shore. Less crowded. All that. Labor Day itself can be depressing. Around 4 in the afternoon Port Clinton looks deserted, as if the Ohio National Guard at Camp Perry had lobbed a neutron bomb into downtown. The overcast skies contributed to the mood. Light and variable winds boxed the compass. Forewarned by previous experience I returned to port early (the wind picked up as I headed back) and left town before total depression set in. Back to Columbus in time to help with computer setup in the convent.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Last month, cat #2, Pongo, took sick and died. One Saturday morning he came to the back door, moving slowly as if in pain, entered the house, looked at me and let out a slow cry, and slunk off upstairs to hide. I might have to take him to the vet on Monday, I thought. He went out Sunday night and on Monday morning I found him stretched out on the back lawn. Gone. There was no time to mourn as we were working full-bore on the convent renovation.

A few days later, I heard a powerful scratching at the back door and looked out to see another cat. For two days he beat on the back door and jumped up onto outside window sills, staring wildly through the glass. I gave up. Now he lives here. Mr. Martin, the original cat of the house, affects not to see him. The newcomer has been named Other Kat. O.K. for short.

Friday, August 21, 2009

They're here!

The sisters have arrived at the parish! We are still putting the final touches on their house but they are very patient women, gracias a Dios.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Night Shift

Work on the convent continues in "extreme makeover" mode. Yesterday some of the seminarians came over and pitched in mightily. A friend of the convent delivered a donated mini-van that is in really beautiful condition. In the face of much scepticism I proved that the window over the bathtub can indeed be opened. Etc. The work day went from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Convent Remodeling Begins

On Saturday morning the herculean task of turning a neglected house into a perfect convent began. The sisters arrive August 18 so we have to hurry! In the video, you see the very definition of demolition. The volunteers are removing a non-original wall that blocked a lot of light from getting to the living room. The photo shows one of the several places where old water damage to ceilings will be repaired. Note the late-50s light fixtures! Next work session is Monday July 27 at 6 p.m. Y'all come! Te esperamos. No faltes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ohio's North Coast

Those who have never been to Ohio, and most of those who live in Ohio, when thinking of Ohio (if they ever do), don't picture such a scene as this. But there it was, just a week ago Sunday evening, as seen from the cockpit of the sloop Vidi Aquam.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dangers of Stores that Sell Used Books

Also known as "used bookstores."
It's best for me to stay out of stores that sell used books -- I can never confine myself to browsing; inevitably I leave with more books than I came in with. Yesterday I succumbed to this unmanly weakness and entered a congenial shop, where I purchased a couple of books about sailboats. In addition to selling wonderful used books, this store features a neon sign spelling out the most important rule of the establishment, a rule we would all do well to heed:

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

No Absolution Solution?

Our parish, like all parishes, receives a lot of junk mail, and it usually makes its way into the recycle bin pretty quickly. But this envelope caught my theological eye. Anyone care to comment?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

I'm Over the Transom

Yesterday I pointed the transom of Vidi Aquam. This had been gnawing at my mind since last year when I repaired the transom and left some epoxy exposed on the outside of it. Unpainted epoxy, when exposed to air and light, turns a very unattractive yellowy brown. Intolerable. Simply intolerable. Now that winter is (almost) over, it was possible to remedy the situation with a good paint job. Now, as your Grandpa always taught, the key to getting a good paint job is surface preparation. So I removed decals, sanded, scraped, removed adehsive left behind by old registration sticker and boat name decals, drove to the chandlery for dewaxer, wiped down the surface with a volatile dewaxer (kids, don't do this at home and if you must do it put out your cigarette first or you will be blown to smithareens), cascaded water on it to see if the water beaded up (indication that wax remains on surface), hit it again with dewaxer, took a break, applied masking tape, drove back to chandlery for a decent brush that I was supposed to pack the day before, then took a deep breath and started painting. I applied one coat of Pettit Easypoxy with a small roller, then tipped it with a brush. Looks like a million bucks. The picture was taken before the masking tape was removed. Next week the outboard goes back on. Eight days later, into the drink she goes. Just in time for the season. BONUS EXPERIENCE: watching the family of eagles that nest near the storage yard. Thanks to DeDe for the video.

Monday, May 11, 2009

What, another blog?

The parish now has a website and the webmistress asked me to make a blog to go with it. I guess if you have a website you also need a blog. In creating the new blog I was inspired by the saintly Bishop Edward Hettinger, a former auxiliary Bishop in these parts. Bishop Hettinger deserves a web page of his own. He never wanted to be a bishop at all, and was content to serve as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Columbus. When not tending to his garden, he kept a diary of parish events such as baptisms, funerals, weddings, etc. One of my favorite entries went something like this: "Lucy ____ died last night without the last Sacraments, due to the stupidity of her relatives."
In that spirit, I have created a Parish Diary for St. Stephen the Martyr Parish.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Get a handle on your music collection

Those who believe in the precise use of words say that we should avoid calling other human beings "creative" because only God can create something from nothing. What is one supposed to say, however, when one meets up with the latest creation of Parishioner A? "Imaginative" is too weak, "resourceful" suggests the boy scout. No, what you see before you rises to the level of artistic achievement. And he did it all without one penny of grant money.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Around the World Alone Non-Stop

Today marks the 40-year anniversary of a remarkable feat of single-handed sailing. On April 22, 1969, Robin Knox-Johnston became the first man to sail around the world alone and unaided, without making a single stop or taking on supplies at any point in the journey. A psychiatrist who interviewed him pronounced him "distressingly normal." Sir Robin Knox-Johnston (yes, of course he was knighted) later commented that the psychiatrist seemed a bit off. Knox-Johnston, now 70, keeps up an active career training new sailors for great adventures. Congratulations Sir Robin!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bang the Drum Slowly

Here, like a patient etherized on a table and chopped into tiny bits, lie the disjecta membra of one component of a theatre pipe organ made by the Kilgen Organ Company of St. Louis, MO, for the Alberston Theatre in Kane, PA, in 1928. All wooden pieces have been cleaned and given a new coat of shellac. Worn out leather and rubber cloth has been replaced with new material. Now let's see if I can put it back together. When complete, this mechanism will operate the bass drum and crash cymbal. Check back in a couple of years.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mexico City Metro

some footage from the Metro (subway) in Mexico City, taken March 25 on our way to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe. This stretch of the journey featured live music at no extra charge to the traveling public. During other parts of the ride, vendors would board to offer us CDs of popular music at the very reasonable price of 10 pesos (less than a dollar). I did not buy any.

Monday, April 6, 2009

And That's Just the Novices

The Missionary Servants of the Word are young, happy, and on fire for the mission to spread the Gospel of Christ with Bible in hand. That's what I learned during my recent trip to Mexico City. I also learned that they are going to send, not three, but four sisters to our parish in August. Hooray! Where are we going to put them? How are we going to pay for it? Don't forget, you are all invited to a very special event to raise funds for our new convent.
Mexico City and environs, known as the "Federal District", form a vast nightmarish landscape, like Mordor with really good food. 22 million persons inhabit the "DF" and I tip my hat to them, because you have to be really tough to live there. Just getting to work is hard work. Commuting times are long, roads are bumpy, and the traffic is indescribable. Drivers make up rules of the road as they go along. In addition to the usual stop signs and speed limit signs, the authorities have put up signs reminding people to do what the signs tell them to do. Let's think about the thought process that went into this decision. (1) authorities notice that drivers ignore speed limit signs (2) authorities notice that drivers ignore "yield" signs (3) authorities notice that drivers ignore "one way" signs (4) authorities conclude that additional signs reminding drivers to respect existing signs are a good investment. Now you understand Mexico.
On the plus side, I found that the Metro (subway) was mnre comfortable than that of Rome, even though Mexico City's Metro isn't a real subway in my opinion, because it has rubber tires. Real trains have steel wheels. Still, the trains are pretty clean, well lit, not too noisy, and the stations and platforms are of ample dimensions. I have seen much worse in New York City.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gone South

I am off to the airport en route to Mexico City to meet with the Missionary Servants of the Word who will be sending sisters to our parish in August. I'll have the privilege of celebrating with them the 25th anniversary of their institute, and will meet their founder, Padre Luis, who started life with the name Luigi, being a good Italian. If I remember which language to speak I'll be fine. I'll take lots of photos and give you a report on my return.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Aspirant #3

Another young man from our parish is off to the seminary to try his vocation with the Institute of the Incarnate Word. Please pray for Julian who hits the road on March 24. That makes three young men from our parish aspiring to the priesthood. So far.

Toast to a Green Country

On this March 17, our staff wants to salute a special country. Home to the largest Guinness brewery in the world, this country today celebrates the feast of its patron, St. Patrick. It is a green and pleasant land, whose people are both colorful and musical. In the past most of its economy was based on traditional agriculture but in recent decades this has changed greatly. Let's take a moment, shall we, to salute ...


Saturday, March 14, 2009

In Which I Help Millions of Consumers Everywhere

I have been thinking of buying an MP3 player, aka an "IPOD." But I don't want to buy an ipod. I used to have one, actually -- an Ipod shuffle, about the size of a pack of gum. It was made of bulletproof white plastic, cost almost 200 dollars, had no screen and a cool affect, as the clinicians say. It was imported because I bought it in London, Ontario. Oh, I almost forgot. When you shelled out for the shuffle, you also got a CD loaded with spayshul Apple software called "Itunes." This is what I don't want, really. I'd be happy to own an Ipod if the Apple overlords did not require me to lead Itunes on my hard drive. Listen, Apple people, and understand: you are trying to sell me a portable memory stick that plays mp3 files. That's all it is. I don't need special software for that. Windows already comes with copy and paste capability. Some people, by the way, claim that Itunes is buggy, but this is disputed by others who say that it works fine if you just, you know, chill, dude.
What I find baffling is the widespread assumption that if you want an "ipod" you have to buy something made by Apple, when several gazillion other companies offer various objects that do exactly the same thing. And here is where I help millions of consumers everywhere by supplying a link to a site that backs up my claim.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Catholic Men's Conference

Today I traveled by car to a far-flung suburb to hear confessions at the annual Columbus Catholic Men's Conference.The place was packed and it was inspiring to see how many men devoted their Saturday to growing in the Faith. It would have been the first good golfing day of 2009, too. After confessions it was time to get back to my parish for, well, confessions, but the conference organizers (who really know their stuff) insisted I take some lunch first. In keeping with the manly atmosphere of the conference I was hoping for raw meat but they had some very civilized sandwiches instead. As I picked up my sandwich I could hear that Mass was already underway in the adjoining church. That was the only jarring note of the day -- literally. The music selected was deplorable. Moreover, every song I heard included the accompaniment of a bell tree (click here to find out what a bell tree looks and sounds like). Who was thinking what? I felt sorry for the men who had volunteered to be in the choir. Not that you asked, but my advice is: if you want to sing bad Catholic music in a manly way, do it full-bore, like this. Hoo-ah!
It was a great blessing to return to my little parish where the music at the vigil Mass was dignified and lovely. And not a bell tree in sight.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pescado Frito

"YES, we have a fish fry." This was the constant refrain of those answering our English-language 'phone lines during the past week. I should have asked the staff to keep a count of phone calls so that we might know whether calls about getting Ashes on Wednesday outnumbered calls about getting fish on Friday. It would be a close race, I think, among the English-language calls, but not contest on the Spanish line. The Spanish-speaking world loves them ashes. They may not come to Mass -- ever --- they may have abandoned the faith of their Baptism and joined Reverend Jose's storefront chapel (Primera Iglesia Hispana del West Side de Columbus or something like that), but by cracky they are gonna get their ashes, and it's the responsibility of Holy Mother to apply them to a a non-practicing forehead. Which we did. There are no videos of this from Wednesday night as my camera phone has no wide-screen capability and we don't want to frighten the children anyway.
The Fish Fry was almost as noisy and chaotic as the Spanish Mass Wednesday night but had more of a festive atmosphere...Everyone who came gave the fish high marks. In all 220lbs of perch was sacrificed to facilitate Lenten penitence. In addition to the fish classic (fried) we also offered baked fish and and third option, of which I am especially fond: Perch Francese. White wine + Lemon + homemade crumbing = fish heaven. To those who eat fish, no explanation is necessary. To those who do not eat fish, no explanation is possible.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Work, work, work

4 p.m. on Mardi Gras. Another grueling meeting. This time to taste-test possible menu items for the fund-raising dinner to be held Tuesday, May 5 -- Cinco de Mayo, get it? -- to build up our convent fund. Bucking the trend, we will be opening a convent in August to house the Missionary Servants of the Word Sisters from Mexico. To make this happen, I'm going to have to eat a lot of Mexican food. This is a tough job but somebody's gotta do it. We tested several possible appetizers, entrees, and desserts. The only problem was that everybody liked everything! Hmmmmmm......flannnnn.....

Friday, February 6, 2009

Our Aspirants

One of the responsibilities of every priest is to provide his own replacement by encouraging young men who are preparing to be ordained priests, or just thinking about it. While I can't take a lot of credit for the good news I am relating here (the Holy Spirit gets the credit), I am very pleased and proud that two members of our parish set off this morning for Washington, D.C., to try their vocation. William Pacheco and Samuel Castro will be living at the seminary of the Institute of the Incarnate Word, a very dynamic and fast-growing congregation of priests. As we go to press, word reaches us that they may soon be joined by a third young man from our parish. Pray for them!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sator princepsque temporum

From deep down in the file cabinet, another breviary hymn translation. This hymn is prescribed for Vespers on Tuesday, Weeks Two and Four of the Psalter. You will note that I came up with two different ways to translate "mens," the meaning of which goes beyond the usual English sense of the word "mind" to include the inner, spiritual part of man, the seat not only of the intellect but of the will, virtues, spiritual relationships, etc.

Sator princepsque temporum,
clarum diem laboribus
noctemque qui soporibus
fixo distinguis ordine.

Mentem tu castam dirige,
obscura ne silentia
ad dira cordis vulnera
telis patescant invidi.

Vacent ardore pectora,
faces nec ullas perferant,
quae nostro haerentes sensui
mentis vigorem saucient.

Praesta, Pater piissime,
Patrique compar Unice,
cum Spiritu Paraclito
regnans per omne saeculum.
Creator, Lord of time and tide
The hours in order you divide:
For work, you give us daytime bright;
For rest, the quiet sleep of night.

The inner self keep pure from sin,
Lest silent darkness deep within
Expose the heart to wound and woe
From deadly arrows of the foe.

Let passion’s fire from us depart,
Lest, burning hotly in the heart,
Its flames around our feelings bind,
And wound the vigor of the mind.

O grant it, Father, only Son,
And Holy Spirit with them one:
The God whom all things must obey,
Reigning in everlasting day.

translation copyright 2005, Fr. Thomas Buffer

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Hymn for the Faithful Departed

As others may have noted, Christians have been dying for about two thousand years now. Given this fact, one would think there would be more hymns suitable for All Souls Day. But I have found very few. In 2008 All Souls Day fell on a Sunday and this help to focus my mind on the theme. I found a suitable text, written by an Anglican missionary (onetime chaplain to the Bishop of Zanzibar) who first composed the lyrics in Swahili before making his own translation into English. A setting of the beautiful text to a tune of my own devising may be found here.

Jesus, Son of Mary, fount of life alone,
here we hail thee present on thine altar-throne.
Humbly we adore thee, Lord of endless might,
in the mystic symbols veiled from earthly sight.

Think, O Lord, in mercy on the souls of those
who, in faith gone from us, now in death repose.
Here 'mid stress and conflict toils can never cease;
there, the warfare ended, bid them rest in peace.

Often were they wounded in the deadly strife;
heal them, good Physician, with the balm of life.
Every taint of evil, frailty and decay,
good and gracious Savior, cleanse and purge away.

Rest eternal grant unto them, after weary fight;
shed on them the radiance of thy heavenly light.
Lead them onward, upward, to the holy place,
where thy saints made perfect gaze upon thy face.

Words: Edmund S. Palmer, 1902, 1906
based on the author's original text in Swahili

Thursday, January 22, 2009

All Will Be Well

I moved into the present rectory in the latter part of 2007 and have been learning about the wonders of well water ever since. I live in a strange liminal region of Columbus, known as The Land That Time Forgot. In TLTTF, many of the normal laws of human living do not apply. For example: while the church is in the City of Columbus, the rectory, on the other side of the street, is not. Thus, no city water or sewer. For some time now I have been concerned that the well pump was running too often and too long. On Sunday morning, shortly before 7 a.m., when I had finished washing and shaving, the system failed. The pump ran and ran and could not build up any pressure whatever. Paradoxically, the upstairs toilet, which has a pressurized flushing system called the "Flushorama" (if memory serves) was able to spray a couple gallons of water all over the floor at the same time that I turned off the pump. I quickly mopped it up, dried off my shoes, and ran over the Church for the first of the three Sunday Masses. After the last Mass on Sunday was celebrated and the usual crowd of people clustered around the sacristy door had dissipated, I went back to the rectory to consult with Mike the Plumber. We decided to try to prime the pump. To that end we went back across the street and filled various containers with thirty gallons of water and poured same down the pump. Nothing. It appeared that the check valve at the bottom of the well pump had failed. That meant we would have to extract the pipe that goes 30 or 60 feet down into the earth. Great. We appointed Tuesday afternoon to work on the well. There was a funeral Monday so I got up early and went to a neighboring parish to shower. On Tuesday morning I went ot the church office and cleaned up there in campground fashion. On Tuesday afternoon we opened up the well pit outside and found a broken pipe staring us in the face, only 5 feet down. Good news! I climbed into the pit with a hacksaw and cut out the broken section of pipe. Then one of our dedicated volunteers took my place in the pit and installed a coupling. There is not much room to maneuver in there and it took him about an hour (see video). It was all worth it in the end. Next time you turn the faucet and water comes out, be grateful.
By the way some have suggested that we connect the house to city water. That is possible. But the "tap fees" alone would be around 5000 dollars. That does not include any of the work to dig up the ground and install any plumbing. So we will make do with the well for the present.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

dramatic announcement!

My almost-but-not-quite done presentation, "Salus in the Missale Romanum" is almost ready for delivery at the annual meeting of the Society for Catholic Liturgy at the end of this month. See you there!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

It's all in your head!

As a boy I was blessed to be able to spend a fair amount of time with older relatives during periodic visits to family in Illinois. They were a hard-working lot who had to work hard because they didn't have much money. Taking time off from work because you didn't feel well was rarely an option. Consequently they gave an unsympathetic ear to anyone who claimed to be sick. "It's all in your head" was the usual response to someone who thought he might have a cold, a sore throat, a cerebral hemorrhage -- all malingering. My father, who inherited this bedside manner unmollified, forbade my siblings and me to have allergies. When I tell this to others they are sceptical. "What do you mean, you weren't allowed to have allergies?" they ask. It's not as if Dad said outright "no one in this house will have an allergy." His method showed more cunning than that. We had a number of cousins who had to take shots because of allergies. Like all children, we feared the needle. So, if one of us exhibited any such pantywaist behavior as sniffing, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, and said, "I think I'm allergic to (fill in blank)" all Dad had to say was "Do you want to give yourself shots every day like your cousins?"
"NO!" we screamed.
"Then shut up."

Having been brought up in this sensible fashion, I was smugly pleased to find the paternal philosophy vindicated by a recent study indicating a correlation between reported allergies in children and parental hysteria. While third world kids breathe easy, the children of wealthy left-wing slackers are threatened by death every time their Mexican nanny opens a jar of Jif. Here, read about it for yourself.