Monthly Archives: June 2008

Anger Management

The church where I worship houses a vibrant community in a building that was originally meant to be a gymnasium. For the last 18 years, I have been involved in the Contemporary Ensemble which is part of the music ministry at our church. We’re not an “adult choir” although some of our members are supposed to be adults. We’re not a “children’s choir” although we have students that are in 7th grade and high school and college. We’re a mix of age and talent, voices and instrumentation. For the most part, we are involved because we have a gift that we share and we are grateful to our Creator for giving us this gift – so we give back.

I have to admit that sometimes it’s a struggle to be involved here. The acoustics are terrible due to soundproofing materials that were used because the facility was going to be a gym. There is also carpeting which deadens any sound. We have a wonderful Steinway grand piano that was donated by a parishioner and when you sit in front of church and the lid is fully open, it will knock your socks off. The sound system is ancient and in need of updating/replacement. Our 8-port mixer developed a hum a while back, I think because it may have been moved by someone who did not handle it lovingly. It is annoying to our assembly so I try not to use it. And of course because we are neither the Adult choir or the Children’s Choir we are often overlooked or excluded. *sigh* Another rant is in store!

About 5 years ago, our pastor and some parishioners began to look into renovating vs. building a new church. Things got ugly in the parish. Some people didn’t think change was needed. Some people thought renovation would be fine. Others, myself included, were heaven-bent on a new church. There was a point where approvals were in place for a new church and a ground-breaking ceremony was held but the economy took a turn for the worse and now we’re talking renovation.

Last night, our new pastor asked about some old equipment I was wrestling with. I explained about our busted mixer and I said, I need to call (the business manager) and let her know it needs repair. “Or we can buy a new one,” he said. I thought that was generous but I’d rather wait until the plans for the renovation are finalized. I can be patient.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had discussions with a few former parishioners who said they loved our community but they just couldn’t get behind the building of a new church and left for another parish. I nodded like I understood but it really angered me. They left our parish with it’s ugly gymnasium church and went to a parishwhere there was a wonderful building with good acoustics and a fine sound system and marble and wood.

So yeah – Leave our parish because you didn’t want a new church – but don’t go to another gymnasium- Nope, go to a church where it’s easy to worship and you don’t have to struggle with lugging out a heavy mixer so your cellist and singers and guitar players can actually be heard!  I know that a church is “Built of Living Stones” but I’d really like a break someday soon. I’d love to actually have a balanced music ministry where everyone can be heard and where we all fit without bunching up on each other and where I dont have to worry about lugging out equipment and climbing under the piano and hauling the podium out of the way. I’d love if I didn’t have to start each celebration so pissed off that I could walk out before it even begins. And then have to suffer extreme guilt for being ungrateful because we could be one of those parishes that had to merge and things would be in complete disarray.

I just had to rant though. I believe that of you’re going to make the effort to do liturgy , it should be done right. Having the worship space really helps – at least I wouldn’t be pissed off before it even starts!


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My Own Private l’Alpe d’Huez Part Deux

We had family here this week – my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and my nephew from Florida. Strangely enough, I rode all week, with my brother-in-law who, at 58, competes in Triathlons. My brother-in-law kept telling me that I was struggling and needed to find a cadence.

I didn’t really get what he meant until the third day we rode and he figured out what I was doing wrong. Guess what? I can get up those inclines at better than 6 miles an hour now. It will take a mad crazy runner to pass me now!


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My Own Private l’Alpe d’Huez

With the Philadelphia International Championship behind us and le Tour de France on the horizon, I decided it was time to get out on the bike. Well it was that and the fact that when I went to my niece’s shower last weekend, I had to try on several outfits before I felt comfortable.

Other than “gardening”, I hadn’t had any real physical exercise since the beginning of May when the nuclear gig ended. Quite honestly, there is no excuse for the lack of exercise in my life. I’m unemployed, I’m living alone and all I have is time because, God knows, I’m not going to clean all day.

Be that as it may, last Monday morning, I got the bike out of the shed and started on my Trek (get it?). My route, which I decided on as I left my driveway, is a 7.6-mile course that I’ve traveled in the past. Oh it’s a good 3 summers ago since I rode that far and, frankly, I was prepared for the pain. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. I’m a realist like that.

What I had forgotten were the inclines – I can’t call them hills. I live in South Jersey where flat is the norm. So less than .2 of a mile, I approach the first incline and think about turning around and going home. I get through it in low gear and then there’s the next one. Yup. At .7 of a mile I see that next challenge and I’m not even remembering that at 1.2 miles is the half mile climb that I liken to l’Alpe d’Huez, the most famous mountain climb in the Tour de France. According to Wikipedia: The climb up Alpe d’Huez is 13.8 km at an average gradient of 8.1% with 21 hairpin (les 21 virages) bends marked with panels honoring the winners of each stage that has finished there. No hairpins here in South Jersey, but to me, my little Alp climb is just as torturous. Those same inclines exist on my return route only in reverse and they make up the last 1.2 miles.

I could take a different route, true. In fact, the first few days, I avoided the last steep climb by taking a few side streets that are less inclined. But the last 6 days, I’ve gone for the gusto and charged that final hill to look down from the crest and moan, “Ouch, this hurts!”

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My niece is getting married in September. She’s the right age and she’s a great kid. The guy she’s marrying, he’s a keeper for sure. She’s the first grandchild on this side of the family to get married. She’s my goddaughter, my neighbor, and my little sweetie pie.

She’s the infant that slept on the floor in one of our dresser drawers padded with her older cousin’s fluffy baby blankets when we babysat her one night so her parents could have a night out. She’s the little kid that always wanted me to sit next to her. When my sister and I moved across the street from each other, our family would trudge across the street on Christmas morning to check out the gifts that Santa left my niece and nephew. It was easy to see her gifts – she was usually wearing them. She’s the young child that drew up an Official Document forbidding us to move. This document, by the way, still hangs on my refrigerator, signed by the little one and me and witnessed by Marley, our neurotic dog. Marley’s gone and soon, so will she.

She won’t be ambling across the street to come over to watch LOST! with her old aunt. She won’t be dashing home, scared out of her mind after watching LOST! with her old aunt. She won’t be hanging in the backyard for White Trash Sundays. She won’t be playing cello at church with us anymore. So many changes!

She actually accomplished something that I was unable to do. She graduated from a fine college with a degree in music. And – she is working in her field.

Yesterday was her wedding shower. Her bridesmaids thoughtfully planned it; a lovely party celebrating her Italian heritage with wonderful food and special, creative touches. Classical music played quietly in the background, a nod to her years of studying cello and playing in symphony orchestras.

Her matron-of-honor asked family members to watercolor an invitation. Three aunts and a grandfather painted designs for the party. A family friend painted a design that was used for thank you notes, which the bridesmaids thoughtfully addressed for the bride. All 5 designs were framed so that the soon-to-be-newlyweds will have some original art in their home.

There was a moment yesterday when I heard a piece of music and stopped to place it. At the same time that I figured it out, I looked up and my niece caught my eye with a puzzled expression on her face. Across the room, I mouthed “Ave Maria”.  She smiled and nodded that awesome smile of hers.

I like how we can still connect. I hope that won’t change.






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Relay for Life 2008

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