Monday, October 31, 2016


The Boundary workshop was good. It was very different from earlier ones I've attended. This one focused on the issue of pastoral burnout - setting boundaries that make it possible to keep on serving a congregation without being totally used up, getting sick, neglecting one's family, etc. It took a "systems" approach to the relation between pastor and congregation - everything is interrelated. I.e., you can't address the issue of pastoral burnout just by working with pastors. You have to look at the total picture.

There were about 50 people there, of which I knew maybe 10-12. I did see some folks I haven't seen for a long time.

Ellen found a nice coffee shop and the public library as a place to hang out. We got back in plenty of time for me to get to my bass section rehearsal, which also went well.  Then I went to the pool. A good full day.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Full 24 hours!

Yesterday evening we drove down to Katie and Savanna's for supper and then watched the World Series. We were rooting for the Cubs, but they lost 7-2.

Brendon is behind that balloon. He's going to be in a production of Oliver later this month.

We got home about midnight, then got up early for a Dummerston choir rehearsal at 8:15a.m. The choir sounded great this morning. We hung around the church talking, then at noon went across the street to watch the Green Mountain Mummers do their Morris dancing and mummer's play - a very old death and resurrection tradition which is slapstick funny and mock-serious. 

Morris Dancers/mummers raise the star they just formed with their swords.

"Dr. Trump," a charlaton, trying to raise from the dead a "corpse" buried in the leaves, part of the mummers' play.

Then we dashed to Kathy and Tom's yurt for poetry group - we hadn't been for months and months. The theme today was "listening." Lots of good poems. Then we dashed from there back to the Latchis Theater to watch films on climate change, followed by discussion. One of the films was The wisdom to survive, featuring Roger Payne, Gus Speth and Eugene Friesen, among others. We collected emails of people interested in John's workshop coming up on Nov. 19th on Contemporary Spirituality and the Whole Movement of Life, then went next door to the Coop where there is WiFi and sent them all posters. We got a quick bite to eat and came back to the Latchis for Ron Howard's new film about the Beatles. Nancy Tierra joined us for that. That was fun. Then on the way out we moved against a stream of people coming in for a special showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, many of them in costume. 

Lining up for the Rocky Horror film

All that in 24 hours. Tomorrow we get up early to drive to Randolph, VT (about 100 minutes away) for Boundary Training for clergy, something I have to do to keep good standing as an ordained minister. Tomorrow evening I'll have a Bass Section rehearsal for the Brahms Requiem. Whew!!

Friday, October 28, 2016

John Roberts

We're at a concert!

John Roberts is a British folk singer who has been singing for 55 years! He has long been associated with Tony Barrand in the group Noel Sing We Clear and also as a duo. He has what appears to be an infinite number of ballads and songs in his memory and he shared many of them tonight in a "house concert" at the home of Robin and Andy Davis. He accompanied himself on the concertina and also the banjo. About 30 people were there. It was delightful in every way! Robin had prepared a wonderful spread of yummy cookies and other confections, including some date-nut bread to die for. I brought some home. 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Oh no! Snow!

Well, I wasn't really expecting snow this evening. I had a choir rehearsal scheduled and I have just cancelled it because the roads are very slick. Ellen is in Bennington and was planning on driving home later tonight, but I think I've convinced her to stay there tonight. She is with Mary Anderson who had surgery on Tuesday and needed someone with her after she came home and Ellen offered  to stay with her. Mary's sister arrives tonight so Ellen could come home, but I think it will be prudent for her to stay even though she has to sleep on the couch. It's supposed to turn to rain after midnight so it may be all washed away by tomorrow. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Vivid color at vivid reports

Today is a gorgeous day here. It is very mild and sunny, and the color is still brilliant, even though many leaves have fallen. The view off our deck is more open this fall, since clearing out the white pines last year, and it is lovely. The red oaks, which are the last to turn color, have started to turn.

      View off the deck

          The oaks are turning. 

Monday, we went to OSHER lectures on Humanism and Education in the a.m., and Islamic architecture in the p.m. Both very interesting. We took a walk during the lunch break and were treated to more color. 

        On our walk . . .

        . . . and walk . . . 

              . . . and walk.

Monday, October 17, 2016

More photos from Betsey's memorial services

Here are some additional photos from last weekend:

The family at the Church of the Redeemer reception.

John talking with Jock Toulmin, who was a childhood playmate from Providence, RI
John and Therese Burdo, a high school friend of Betsey's from Brattleboro

Katie with three  of Betsey's Wellesley classmates

Gathering for the committal service: l. to r.: Mimi, Savanna, Larry, Julie, Ellen

The portrait of Betsey that greeted people as they entered Hallelujah Farm

Betsey's Yearbook photo at Wellesley, which was on the photo table at the luncheon
Introducing members of the Blanche Moyse Chorale at the luncheon

Thursday, October 13, 2016

A memorable day

Monday, the day of Betsey's committal and the luncheon following at Hallelujah Farm, was truly memorable. The weather was perfect, and everything happened in the way that we had hoped and prayed it would. Betsey, I think, would have been very pleased.

In the morning, I went out early and put up some signs at the four turns you had to take to get to the Hallelujah Farm, just to prevent people from getting lost or confused. I think everyone found the location just fine. Rob and Katie came by the house briefly before the committal service, and then we headed to the cemetery. The committal was just for family members, and our pastor in Guilford, Lise Sparrow, led it. We sang two hymns, Be Thou My Vision, and How Can I Keep From Singing, and Katie Tolles accompanied on the guitar. Lise talked about the specialness of the place: how she,  and a group of women friends of Shirley's,  have come every year  and had a kind of picnic there, remembering Shirley, and now they will include Betsey. I said a few words as did a few others. Lise had a reading from Revelation, and gave a prayer. Then we placed the urn of Betsey's ashes into the ground, filled in the hole with the soil that had been dug out, and planted a beautiful chrysanthemum. It was emotional and beautiful. Now Betsey and Shirley rest side by side.

Rob and Katie at Betsey's grave
While we were there, people were gathering at Hallelujah Farm, so when we arrived, people had had a chance to look at the table of photos of Betsey, a slide show was going on of photos from all stages of her life, and I had also had printed a booklet of "Tributes to Betsey," in which I had collected scores of tributes from people that had come in notes and cards, had been spoken at gatherings, or posted on Facebook. There was a copy for everyone. The buffet lunch that Ellen had prepared had all been brought over the previous evening and Sandy and Roger had put it all out in two locations, so that it was easily accessible, no lines. Everyone enjoyed the lunch and commented on how delicious it was - no surprise! I gathered the Chorale members while people were finishing up their lunch and we ran through our two Bach Chorales. Then at about 2:15 or so, we gathered everyone together and had a time to speak and for music. John and Cynthia played beautifully, a piece for harp and whistle that John wrote based on the singing of the seals (it incorporates a recording of seals), and a piece Cynthia wrote at the time of her mother's death, for harp and cello. Many had never heard them play before, and they were sort of awe-struck. Then the Chorale sang the two Bach pieces, I said a few words as did a few others, Ellen introduced Peter and Mary Alice Amidon, who sang Going Where Those Chilly Winds Don't Blow (which we had arranged for them to play for Betsey via Skype back in July), and we closed with almost everyone singing I Still Have Joy, which was a great way to close. Everyone was moved by this gathering, I feel.

Lunch at Hallelujah Farm: clockwise from left: Rob,  Katie,  Nancy Tierra, Wendy Redlnger,  Fred Ashworth,  Joy Amidon, Lucy Spahr-Blasej

Monday evening we had a spontaneous gathering for supper at John and Cynthia's.

Jerry, Maggie, Daniel, Suzy and John at John and Cynthia's house

All around the table at J & C's

I'll post more photos from the weekend when I get a chance.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Busy, busy, busy

Today is cooking day. Amazingly, Ellen is preparing a full lunch for 50 people tomorrow, using our little kitchen and refrigerator. Two soups, two salads, quiches, cookies, brownies, etc. I try to keep things cleaned up, and serve as a DJ. Right now we're listening to a Mary Alice Amidon CD. It is raw and rainy outside, but we are cozy inside. I have a little fire in the wood stove, and also have the gas fire going in the fireplace. We are feeling badly for the Dummerston Pie Sale folks - this is the worst sort of weather for them because people tend to stay home. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny but cool.

         A full frig . . .

       . . . a busy kitchen . . .

                 . . . and a full dining table.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Beautiful service

Today, John and Cynthia joined Ellen and myself in a drive down to the Church of Redeemer in Chestnut Hill, MA for Betsey's Memorial Service. It was everything that Betsey had hoped for, I'm sure, when she requested it before she died, and all and more that we had imagined it would be. Michael Murray, the  organist and choir director, played organ pieces by Bach, Elgar and Widor, and led a fine choir of 16 voices in at least five anthems from the repertoire of Anglican church music. Three pieces echoed Betsey and Rob's wedding, including Vaughn-Williams' The Call, and the Widor Tocotta from his Symphony V for organ. Rob brought many tears as well as smiles in a touching remembrance of how he and Betsey met. Two of Betsey's dearest friends-both named Julia!-were readers, one from her Columbia, MO years, and one from college years at Wellesley. The latter, Julia Grimeade, had come up from Florida where she and her husband had had to evacuate their house because of Hurricane Matthew! At the reception following the service I spoke with Jock Toulmin, who lived next door to us in Providence back in the 60's. I hadn't seen him since 1967! So it was a remarkable and moving day. 

            Church of the Redeemer 

      The sanctuary before the service

            The choir rehearsing

Katie, Ellen, and Cynthia waiting in a parlor before the service. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Egg salad and more

My last post, I mentioned that I was going to make 10 egg salad sandwiches for a Welcome Center fund-raiser for the Concert Choir. And I did. Last Friday evening, I stayed up late making the egg salad. I used the Cook's Country method of steaming the eggs - two dozen of them - for fifteen minutes, then putting them into ice water. That worked well. They peeled fairly easily, and I used a pastry cutter to smoosh them, mixed in mayo, mustard, chopped celery, pickle relish and salt. The egg salad went in the fridge overnight, and then early the next morning (6:30am), we left for the Welcome center. I took everything I needed to make sandwiches there, so that they would be really fresh: bread, knife, cutting board, cling wrap and labels, plus small paper plates and napkins. Ellen had a whole bunch of baked goods she had made: pies, cookies, quiche, donuts, etc. We met some other early birds there, got things going, and almost immediately were in business. At first, I was put to work slicing cheddar cheese for packets of cheese and crackers, and also to go with apple pie slices. When things were humming along, I made my sandwiches. They started selling immediately. Ellen and I were relieved by the 9:30a.m. shift, and half of them were already gone by then. Everything was by donation - experience has shown that you actually make more money that way - and they ended up netting $2200 for the day! Not bad! 

People flocking to our Concert Choir snack table at the Vermont Welcome Center. 

Nora, who chaired the fund-raiser, chats with customers while Ellen works in the background. My sandwiches are stacked on small plates in the foreground. 

So that was last Saturday. Sunday, we went to the Guilford Church service for the first time since we came home in August, which means the first time since sometime last May - over four months! We got a lot of hugs!

This week has been all about getting ready for this coming weekend of memorial events. There are a lot of details to attend to, but I think the events will be wonderful and Betsey will smile down on us. Tomorrow we go to Chestnut Hill, MA, for a full Episcopal memorial service, with choir and organ, followed by a reception. Sunday, Ellen will be preparing food for the luncheon on Monday, and I 'll be helping by cleaning up. Sunday eve we'll go to Hallelujah Farm to help set up. Monday is the committal service at noon followed by the luncheon at 1:00pm. 50 friends and family have said they are coming! So it will be a wonderful and emotional weekend!