Continuing Home

The ongoing saga of a Continuing Anglican church home, as seen by a member of the laity.

Friday, August 31, 2007

Lay sermons

We had another surprise Sunday, a lay preacher! Matt wrote and delivered the sermon -- and did a splendid job too. So we're blessed with at least three great preachers: Fr. Daniel, Deacon Ed and Matt.

I was a little concerned about this, recalling some language on my Lay Reader's license, but it makes sense that it's fine if approved by the rector. As Fr. Daniel notes, the language regarding preaching sermons of one's own composition without review by rector or bishop is specially licensed is for situations where the Lay Reader is the only minister at or in charge of a mission.

Still, this is something I do not ever recall encountering, so it is a surprise. But a good one.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Imcheis (Gaelic: dilemma)

Many years ago Kathy and I, on a lark, started taking classes in Scottish Gaelic and had lots of fun in them (we had a superb teacher). It didn't hurt that a few months later after a business trip to the UK that we got to tour the Gaidhealteachd (the Gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland) – somewhere I have packed away a bumpersticker that announces “I have a tiger in my tank” (remember that gasoline company ad?) in Gaelic.

And a few years later we visited the town of Glen Innis, Australia. Proud of its Gaelic history it features a Stonehenge designed for its locale, bilingual Gaelic/English street-signs, and a plaque about its founding – which we discovered says a bit more in the Gaelic than it does in English!

In any event, although Seattle's increasing wretched traffic situation forced us to drop the classes, we've retained our ties to Seattle's Scottish Gaelic society, Slighe nan Gaidheal (SnG), and occasionally perform “waulking songs” with them.

“Waulking songs” are traditional songs sung during the communal work activity of “waulking”/milling/fulling newly-woven tweed – in essence, beating it by hand upon a table to where the woven threads interlock and make a thicker, more wind and water resistant fabric. There are a number of traditions bound up with waulking songs, which generally follow the themes of love lost or gained, jealousy, or war. Though an ancient tradition, (waulking songs tend to be quite old, some of them maybe older than the English language), they have survived into current times – though the practice of waulking itself is now dying out in Gaelic Scotland and Nova Scotia.

Like most working songs, waulking songs have a fairly simple structure. There is a leader who sings the song itself. The group sings a response and/or refrain, usually nonsense syllables (“hey diddlery-o / hey diddle-i o” an Irish-style example), though standardized and unique to the song. Many are known by these non-sense “vocables,” the song “Hey Man-du” being an example.

So Sunday Kathy and I are on deck to perform a set of waulking songs with SnG. We weren't really prepared, but they found they have nobody who can belt out “An Toll Dubh” (The Dungeon, lit. “The Black Hole”) the way she can. And “Alastair Mhic” has become another of her signature leads. So we're on to perform.

Unlike most of our SnG performances, this one is in part “re-enactment”. We usually dress in jeans & t-shirt (SnG shirts preferred), but for this one we're to dress in “period” dress. I have my “Braveheart”-style great-kilt (no woad/blue-paint), and Kathy her araisaid (example depictured), but there is no place/opportunity for me to change at church. I simply have to come in costume – no disrespect intended.

This is my dilemma (“tha imcheis agam”); we may have to explain our dress, tha mi a' smaoineachadh, but oh well.

Update: The reaction was interesting -- we caught some folks completely by surprise. We did reassure a visitor that we don't come like this every Sunday (grin). And Oma had to have her picture taken with us, as she was returning to Scotland this week. But over all it was: "Are we having bagpipes today?" Sadly, no.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


Well, this evening was one of surprises! Started when I arrived, barely on time thanks to our infamous traffic, and saw... red balloons... everywhere. Rather a nice touch, and red rather appropriate, considering our martyred patron saint.

Inside the new candlesticks were finally in place, where I got to see them for the first time. Now we don't have just the Eucharistic lights -- but the layout of candles on the altar is not familiar so it'll take a couple of times to get the candle-lighting and extinguishing down (primarily where one stands to do same). Later I learned that I'd been given the honor of lighting them for the first time.

Fr. Daniel was surprised I knew the lighting order. But I learned it about 45 years ago, though I haven't used it in almost 40. But I was taught: "the light extends from the cross and it returns to the cross," a rather unforgettable image and one that might be good for the acolytes (note to Acolyte Master Ranjit!).

Solemn Evensong was beautiful -- and another surprise. We sung and chanted a good part of it, and the congregation did a great job! They're (we're) picking this up quickly. Some elements of the chant need a little work, but not much.

Then we went down to the Parish Hall for a potluck "supper" and, unsurprisingly, quite a spread was there. You need never go hungry at a St. Bartholomew's Potluck Supper! We have a number of terrific cooks, it appears. (Then there's me.)

Afterwards, there was music. First Josephine on the piano -- I wonder if this was simple compared to what she's doing for her doctorate? The equivalent to what Highland pipers call ceol beag (light music)? (Once my traveling days are past, I may inflict the parish with the pipes again.)

But then, another big surprise. Kavya sang and played a hymn for us, from memory, accompanied by her teacher Josephine and she did exceptionally well. Ranjit and Meyya may have been the proudest there, but they weren't the only ones. More budding musical talent in the church. Wow!

Mary Ellen entertained us after that with stories of the early days, going back 29 years to St. Bartholomew's founding. (We need to capture some of these on the church website -- there are amusing elements.)

Things rather wound down after that as it was getting late, but I had one last surprise to come. From a chance remark I gathered that the roses for the table centerpieces that evening had all come from the church gardens. Nancy J. and the Garden Guild have done a wonderful job -- not only doing great work with the gardens outside, but providing for things inside!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Smells and Cells

I just received an e-mail asking if I'd serve as Thurifer on Thursday for the vigil of our patronal Festival which will start with a solemn Evensong followed by a potluck supper, story telling and music. (Story telling? Hm. We'll be 29 years old. Do I tell the one about how we shut down the power to the area for a couple of hours? Or maybe that one's better left forgot...?) I'm not too certain of the definition of solemn here, but if it includes the Thurible it would seem to include "high." And that's right -- I'd forgotten about the "Incense Alert" on the Announcements page.

In any event it almost seems a shame to bring in the incense as I am sure the church smells absolutely wonderful already. Today was "Camp Cookie," a day activity for the children to bake up a storm of cookies (plus other activities to distract them from the cookies, perhaps?). These aren't just any cookies mind you -- they're being baked for an upcoming Kairos Prison Ministry Weekend/Retreat (think: Cursillo / Walk to Emmaus) within a nearby prison.

Each day during Kairos a bag of these cookies, the bags decorated by the children and conveying Christian messages of love, will be given to each and every prisoner regardless of their participation. A small inconsequential thing it would seem to us out here, but often enough it slips the message past even some of the toughest convicts' iron armor, bringing them to repentance and a life they never before could have imagined.

Prison ministry changes perceptions and it changes lives, for those outside the walls as well as inside. (And yes, it does not always "succeed" for those inside, but it does often enough that even the Christian inmates themselves are disappointed by those who fail after release.)

Update: Oops. Evensong is at 6:30 on Thursday, not 5:30.

More Diocesan Family Camp photos

I've been a bit slow at getting this up, and I hope it works (it didn't the first time), but the Miller Menagerie sent me a link to their photos

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Local Hero

Among our visitors this morning were a couple clearly known to Joanne (who is improving greatly), but we didn't know the connection until the announcements, when Fr. McGrath issued a welcome to our visitors and especially to Danny. It turns out that it was Danny, the Fed-Ex driver delivering a package, whose quick thinking and fast action saved Joanne's life last winter!

Now when I was growing up applause during an Anglican church service was considered unseemly, and even now I tend to be reticent about same -- but this was clearly an exceptional situation and so the applause went on for a long, long time (for Anglicans).

Danny, we are all very grateful to you, and may God bless you richly!

Plainsong and Anglican Chant

I didn't think we were going to be able to make this morning's Schola Cantorum because we had to stop and pick up the materials to set up a polling place for Tuesday's elections, but fortunately the depot opened earlier than usual so we were only late. And fortunately only late, because Fr. McGrath picked this Sunday to teach us the basics of Plainsong and Anglican chants.

After much explanation, which included a bit of terminology such as "tones", "intonation," "reciting note", he led us through the Venite (Hymnal #612, "Tone V, 3" -- which I didn't quite understand) with its three variations (a-c). Interesting, and will be nice when we get there! (But sadly, I looked at the calendar and I will miss the next class because I'll be flying out to Atlanta for the week.)

Next we pleasantly surprised Fr. McGrath: he was planning to teach us a new hymn, #157, so we could help the congregation along with it in the service. It turned out we were all familiar with it already!

Autumn approaches

About this time of year I start looking for the first signs of autumn. The weather has been cooler and wetter than usual so the first I usually see, early morning mists, haven't been there. A week or so ago the spiders started appearing --cobwebs everywhere outside-- though they're still a bit small, and a couple of days ago fronds on the tall cedars here have begun turning orange. This morning is delightfully autumn-like: 58F (16C) and drizzle.

This will make Fr. Daniel happy, I'm sure. It's not been quite two years since he drove his family up from sunny Santa Barbara, California, and announced his arrival to the Senior Warden with a cellphone text message: "We're here! Where's the rain?"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Summer service project

Often enough blog entries are "driven" by photos. But it doesn't help when one gets tied up with other things and forgets that there are pictures to be downloaded -- until one uses the camera again, as I did today when trying out my new homemade "light tent." Lo and behold, there were pictures from the Sunday school "summer service project."

For this project, the Sunday school had been collecting supplies to make up health kits for children in refugee camps. Included in these kits were soap, toothbrushes, fingernail clippers and hand towels, and bags of some kind to hold the items.

After their procession from the service, the Sunday school went down to the Parish Hall to set up and assemble the kits. Although it looked potentially chaotic at first things must have gone well because they were finished by the end of the service and the only hint was this note.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Anglican Camp photos

I've resolved the issue of the animated GIF taken during Sunday's communion service: As noted, this may take a while to load -- it's 15 megabytes. The shots were taken at two-minute intervals and all frames but the first and last play at 2 second intervals.

I also have my photos, those I could recover, uploaded here:

The last two require some explanation, because they weren't from the camp.

Towards the end of the camp it was suggested that next year's camp be held at the Rogue River in Oregon -- a suggestion well-received by more than the Pacific Northwest contingent. (It was well-received Sunday at St. Bartholomew's; we might have a greater turnout if so.) And more than a few good-byes in the camp were said as "Next year in Rogue River!"

It so happened that our drive home took us right by the Rogue River so we stopped for a few minutes to take a couple of pictures and pick up flyers for the campground and a brochure of activities in the region. After our days at the Hat Creek Campground by Mount Lassen, the Rogue RIver looked impossibly green.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Fr. Daniel had advised me Friday of a change in the appearance at the entrance to the Narthex, without particulars, so I was prepared to see changes this morning. Except when we arrived, I remembered how the parking lot has been filling up of late and decided to park down by the entrance off Avondale Road, so we'd entered the Parish Hall without seeing this change. A few minutes later I remembered and walked up with the pocket camera... find the trees that had flanked and were swamping the entrance gone. The space looks a little bare to my eyes, but a significant improvement overall. If it was the Garden Guild who was responsible, Kudos!!!

On a different topic, I've noticed that the turnout for the 9 AM Bible Study has fallen off. A pity, because we go through an in-depth study into several of the Collect, Epistle, Gospel, Morning Prayer OT & NT Lessons for the Sunday. In other words it's a topical, not a "progressive", study in which we go back to old commentaries and the Church Fathers among other sources. One can come in "cold" and learn a lot that will make the readings during the subsequent service much more relevant to our lives. Fr. Daniel is providing an excellent program here -- if he'll let me I'll even talk about it during "announcements" some Sunday. If you're not attending, you're missing something important.

And as regards the first annual Diocese of the Western States Family Camp, we wore our camp t-shirts to church today (FAR more informal than my custom, but in a good cause). I'm pleased to announce an increased interest at St. Bartholomew's in attending next year's camp; I intend to print out some of my photos (still to be put online) for next Sunday to give folks a feel for the occasion.

And if anyone wouldn't attend for lack for camping gear, my wife and I assessed our equipment and realized that outside of flashlights/bedding/cookware, we have all the hardware needed for another family to attend as tent-campers. We could even offer the "three-room tent" I grew up with for our smaller dome if someone else needed the space/divisions.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Anglican Camp

Regular visitors to this blog will have no doubt by now figured that that last weekend (noon Friday to noon Monday) was the First Annual Family Camp of the Diocese of the Western States -- and what a fun event it was! The t-shirts we have commemorating the event (with this terrific logo on the the back!) will be treasured for the memories.

Held at the Hat Creek Campground in the (figurative) shadow of Mt. Lassen, two of the three group campgrounds were reserved although as it turned out this wasn't really necessary as we were a bit un-Anglican in our campsite gregariousness. Despite having folks from a number of churches present, and perhaps aided by the fact that there were no designated campsites (just a large camping area for us to use however), tents tended be erected all jumbled together. Hey, we're all Anglicans here, right? Except we weren't. We had some Roman Catholic friends along too - and quite welcome!

One of the things that caught my attention once we'd arrived and set up camp, was the fancy barbeque near the center, already bearing a load of Books of Common Prayer (1928) for the services ahead. Obviously it was intended for the men's BBQ dinner Saturday evening, though it seemed a bit overkill. But when asked, Archbishop Provence remarked, "Well, this is an Anglican HIGH church camp." I'll accept that!

We'd arrived too late for the Friday afternoon outing to the Subway Cave (thanks to the aforementioned camera issues), but enjoyed one of the two campfires that would feature hot dogs, s'mores and popcorn over the weekend.

After Morning Prayer on Saturday the group went on an outing to Burney Falls, some distance to the west. For those of us not accustomed to California's high summer temperatures and exceedingly bright sun, this was a blessed relief and the group spent a lot of time near and in the pool at the base of the falls.

That evening was the men's BBQ, which featured its own miracle of the loaves, as more and more hamburger and hot-dog buns kept appearing throughout, leaving quite an excess of same. The morning after the women prepared breakfast following the service of Holy Communion -- there are no pictures because yours truly was too busy eating. (grin) Delicious.

All in all, a wonderful time. And so many people noted throughout the weekend their almost surprise that there are fellow Anglicans in other churches, fellow believers in other churches, that they've never had a chance to meet before.

A wonderful time! Thank you, Abby and Jon -- and I hope this tradition will continue!!

Anglican Camp Communion Service

The following link should get you to a file called communion1.gif. This file is comprised of almost 40 shots taken from before, during and after Sunday's communion service. Taken at 2-minute intervals, they play back at 2 second intervals (except the first and last frames).

It's not much, but it's all I have right now. (I hope to have more later.)

To see the "action", click on the photo until you see "Save Hi-Res" on the left. Click on that and save it to disk -- it's about 15 Megabytes and will take some minutes to download. Then open the file with a browser to view it.

4:50 PM Update: I'll be adding more photos as I process them.

All for nothing (update: or not?)

While rebuilding the computer that crashed, I discovered that ALL the camp photos are gone except for a series taken during Sunday's Holy Communion, which happened to be on a different machine.

4:45 PM UPDATE: They aren't all lost after all! I remembered a recovery utility I've had around for some time; it was able to go in and find the picture files still there, and copy them to another location. I lost a few, covering Friday night and Saturday morning, because they were overwritten by some pictures taken since I'd cleared the card but the rest are there.

Guess I have some work to do after all.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Breaking Tradition

Ranjit sent out his weekly reminder of the service roster today. I was somewhat amused to note to him that I would be breaking recent tradition: On the list for the 1st and 5th Sundays of the month, last month I missed both July 29th (diocesan camp-out) and July 1st (father's birthday & ordination anniversary).

I intend to be there abd serving Sunday, even if afterwards I'm headed off to the company picnic -- and not the only one arriving "late" due to church. (My complaint is already submitted.)

Equipment failure

If it hasn't been one thing with regard to this trip, it's been another. Needless to say, I still don't have my writeup of the camp, and I don't have pictures up yet either. Camera, car and computer -- all have had problems.

Camera: My camera (Nikon D70 digital SLR) quit on the drive down to California. It took a picture Thursday morning, but by Thursday afternoon something had quit and instead of pictures all I got were what looked like error indications. Fortunately I had a PDF copy of the manual on my laptop so Thursday night I confirmed that something had failed.

Friday morning we went to Leo's Camera Shop in Klamath Falls where I learned that a replacement camera body was out of the question: the newer cameras won't use my "older" lenses. This Nikon guy wound up with a Canon S3 IS (nice camera, btw) and a bit of a learning curve to climb up fast, but at least I had a camera to record the event. (The D70 went to the camera repair shop yesterday -- but as soon as it was in the door, it started working again.)

Car: On Wednesday the alternator bearings failed. It was fortunate that it happened here within driving distance of the auto repair shop and not, say, on Mt. Lassen, a very long tow to the nearest repair shop (not to mention in an area with no cellphone signal). Fortunately the car was fixed yesterday morning and is now back on the road.

Computer: I'd known for some time that there were a number of updates available for my Kubuntu Linux 6.10 system, but there never seemed to be time to install them. So in a foolish move, I decided to let the computer automatically update everything during the day yesterday, figuring it was a three or four hour task.

Got home in the afternoon ready to finish the pictures and post them... only to find the machine had gone about 1% of the way into the upgrades and quit: the Java Runtime Environment wouldn't install. D'oh -- I'd run into that before and forgot! But worse, the incomplete upgrades had left it in a state where it wouldn't boot into the graphic user interface. All I had was command-line operation, which was no good for processing photos!

Couldn't find my Kubuntu 6.10 CD (it was misfiled), but found a Linux LiveCD (lightweight Xubuntu 7.04) that let me access the machine through a GUI, pack up my files, and transfer them to the house server machine (Win2K) in advance of a new system installation -- only this time I would finally upgrade to Kubuntu Linux 7.04. Except I didn't have a Kubuntu 7.04 CD. So I turned the server machine loose to download the CD overnight, and burned it this morning (after scrounging around for and installing a Windows CD-burning utility I'd had). So this evening I plan to install the new system.

So maybe tomorrow I'll finally have pictures and prose posted.