Light through Stained Glass Windows by Susan Doubet

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One in a thousand

Sun, 2021-09-19 20:31


I read once that there are a lot of great books out there, but there are very few really outstanding books--maybe one in every thousand. I guess I would kinda' agree. I read many good books, but do any of these really stand out from all the others: a greatest one among all great ones?

This might be one. Its author has won a Pulitzer, numerous other recognitions including a 2014 National Humanities Medal by then President Obama, and has twice been a finalist for the National Book Award.

The book flap reads, "Whereabouts celebrates ordinary life and community...the city the narrator calls home acts as her companion and interlocutor: traversing the streets around her house and in parks, piazzas, museums, stores and coffee bars..."

Chapters are short, 2-3 pages, and include titles such as, In the bookstore, By the sea, Upon waking, In August, and On the street.

Her observations, the phrasing, the images give new meaning to the search and finding of the extraordinary in the ordinary

This is a novel, but it is unlike any I've read. I've read journals, diaries, poems, etc....all of them great. Whereabouts tops them all.

Great to go away and great to come home again!

Sun, 2021-09-12 19:17

My 2021 vacation is over and it's back to the rest of the year starting tomorrow. But, one more memorable sight from the time away. 

I think it's part Norman Rockwell, part rural America and part back-to-school.

The Mid-County Trail we walked daily is sometimes totally bordered by trees, bushes and vegetation and sometimes a few houses are quite near the trail. I'm guessing that the houses were there first and when they put in the power lines and the trail under them, they wove as best they could around the suburban-rural parts of the towns they needed to get through. 

Here is a scene I walked past on the first day of school this week. New clothes, new backpacks, new sneakers and eagerness that showed itself by the constant looking down the lane for the big school bus that I also passed later on. 

A great scene...but don't miss their house and environs behind the kids!



Sitting in a little bit of heaven

Sun, 2021-09-05 19:34


Do you have favorite chairs? No, not a special type of furniture, a chair or chairs that's become a special place to sit! Like your Dad's old recliner or Mom's TV chair with the side table of all her projects or readings. I've reached the "favorite chairs" stage of my life and here's one that I have even on vacation. This photo was taken from my favorite outdoor chair here, a very comfortable tall back lawn chair. Its place is on the patio facing west, which shows a small flower garden, a little lawn area that borders the complex, with Rte 9 on the other side of the fencing. You can even see the homes across the street.

This is where I read Give Us This Day every morning, check my emails and read the Erie Times News with a Diet Coke beside me, and where I am swallowing great mystery novels day after day after day.

Nothing "too exiting," certainly nothing "earth shattering" but oh, so wonderful.

A Great Nature/Walking Trail

Sun, 2021-08-29 19:19


Hope you have one near your home...this one is a beauty: 4-5 miles long, diversity of nature, private and even somewhat hidden, well taken care of but not groomed, and a real haven for bikers and walkers.  

Welcome to New Jersey

Sun, 2021-08-22 18:35


We have arrived in New Jersey---welcomed by three of my favorite Jersey sites:Here is "our" Wawa.

And, again, "our" library...which was our salvation last year in the beginning months of the COVID stay-at-home time.

And here is a very un-Erie sight from those of usin small town USA--toll booths: E-ZPass, cash or a picture of your license plate for billing.

Big city ways

Mon, 2021-08-16 20:50

I had an experience this week that I hadn't had in 25-30 years: I went out to "the beach" on a busy August weekend. What  a rockin' place, as they say. There were people everywhere: on bikes, in boats, in cars, in the water, on foot and coming down water slide after water slide and then climbing up the walkways to try it again. Here are four scenes that I caught from my place: reading and walking around at Perry Monument, at the furthest point on the peninsula.

You can rent kayaks, canoes and individual pontoons and travel throughout the lagoons or the bay. 

The Lady Kate was busy, busy, with long lines waiting for the next trip--every hour on the hour.


This shot is taken across the bay to the city side. There were many, many sailboats out, as the warm summer days will be ending soon.

And my favorite new travel experience. A bicycle built for four peddlers...and don't miss the two younger ones in the very front seats. Many of these were along the sidewalks all the way from Waterworks to Perry Monument--a couple miles for sure.
But, the greatest surprise was as we were leaving. I have always wondered why our Waldemeer amusement park added on a huge parking lot, expanding its original one all the way up to W. 6th Street. Well, I found out Sunday--the entire parking lot was full--packed with cars. As was the "overflow" parking lot across the street at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center. I had never seen cars in the expansion area at all, let alone filled to the very edges. Just like amusement parks everywhere I guess--especially on summer weekends. So glad to see Waldemeer doing a good business.

My Little Town

Sun, 2021-08-08 21:15


Because of the death of one of our sister's brothers, I was able to visit a lovely, little, little town that is about 25 miles southwest of Erie, very near the Ohio border.  Albion, PA was founded in 1861 and reached an all-time high population in 1980 at 1,800 people. Today it settles in at about 1,500. 
I guess you could call it a very rural small town suburb of Girard or Fairview, PA, located about 10-15 miles away. It is near the major rail line going through northwestern PA (see above) and is close enough to the lake to be well-known also for its trout fishing. However, the major employer and raison d'etre today is the Albion State Prison, a state facility for men.

Our sister's brother owned and operated a funeral home there until his retirement a few years ago and from his obit he left a very proud legacy of involvement and care in the Albion community during his decades living there. 

Although the lyrics don't fit that closely perhaps, there still must have been similarities, at least in days gone by, in growing up in little towns throughout the country. Here's a link to Simon and Garfunkel's original beautiful ballad,  My Little Town.

This week

Sun, 2021-08-01 19:15

 This week, thanks to a break in our record-breaking amount of rain in July 2021, workmen started on the new cement sidewalk in our inner courtyard. Here are two looks at the project--the first from the door in the foyer behind the switchboard; the second from the double glass doors in the hallway on the way to the dining room. Hopefully, if the precipiation holds off, they can finish this week.

BTW: our local weather guy was absolutely giddy as he shouted, "We've made the Top 10!" when our July rain (6.5") came in 7th in historical July precipitation lists.

And indoors we continue to welcome guests that haven't been able to make the trip to our place for almost two years. It is a continual homecoming experience. 

Special July Scenes

Sun, 2021-07-25 21:01

 Here are photos from two special days in these last weeks of July.

One of Erie's famous painters was Vitus Kaiser. His landscapes, of all four seasons, were stunning and greatly sought after locally. One of his unique attributes was that he painted on site, outdoors whenever possible. Last week I ventured down to Presque Isle one afternoon and while I was reading and enjoying the beauty of Presque Isle Bay, doesn't this artist come along and begin to set up her easel and supplies and start painting. I thought of Vitus immediately, with gratitude for his lovely represtations of our area, especially Presque Isle State Park.

Then a few days later we held the July Silent Peace Walk on the other side of the bay, the city side. This was the first time I had a chance to see the new ERIE sign. It was erected recently right along the trail that runs a mile from Peach St to Chestnut St. along the ridge overlooking the Bayfront Highway, the various marinas, and the whole scene of businesses and hotels along the bayfront in the downtown area. Here's one of our novices, Sister Jacqueline, leading the 20 or so walkers on a beautiful summer evening. 

Trading shale for cement

Sun, 2021-07-18 20:38

Those of you who know our place, either by personal visit or through one of our online pieces, may remember that we have a four-sided inner courtyard/garden area that is surrounded by administrative offices, a long hall and the entranceway to the monastery. The courtyard itself has a curved shale surfaced sidewale going through it which adds to a very picturesgue scene with the many flowers, bushes and couple trees. 

Yours truly does a lot of the gardening work in it and it dawned on me that I haven't shared any pictures of it this summer. So here are a couple from this afternoon--with commentary.

This is a new flower to the garden this year. I'm not sure of its name, but it has the most interesting stems. They look like little pearls in-waiting.
This must be a lily family member. Very large flowers and very pretty.
I believe this is a calla lily. We have a number of them and they are simply gorgeous.
And here is our statue of Mary. The small hydrangea bush has turned into a monster.The flowers were beautiful this year, but have taken a beating the last couple of weeks as we've had rain, rain and more rain. Many of them are hanging quite low now, but they are a hardy bunch!
Behind her is a pretty climatis, light purple or mauve. It is just beginning. In a while it will be full of the blooms.
And, finally, what drew be to this idea today, we are in the middle of taking out the heavy shale and replacing it with a cememt walkway. This will enable all of our sisters, whether they walk or are being pushed, to visit this private garden area. Guests, too, can use it, sit and read or just relax. 
If the rain ever stops long enough and lets the ground dry out, we'll get the cement added!

Seldom Seen

Sun, 2021-07-11 19:18

Now you may think I'm greatly mistaken when you look at these photos and the title of today's blog..BUT surprise, these are not the oft photographed windows in our chapel (the south wall). These are from the north wall and it's only at this time of year, when the sun can still be quite bright at 7:00-8:00 pm when it finally gets around the chapel, that we get these views of them.

So, here they are: the full set of eight, a couple individual ones WITH their reflections on the adjacent ceramic walls and, one my favorite shots, the floor with the window colors shining brillantly.

Just a little picnic for 60!

Sun, 2021-07-04 21:55


Patriotic colors decorated the tables. Even our resident Aussie/Kiwi felt at home as their colors are red, white and blue, also.

Our griller made me wait until she straightened the hotdogs! Two minutes before this shot they were just willy-nilly all over. "I don't want them to think I'm a bad cook," she insisted!

If you look carefully you can see that everything is magic-markered--really, as if we don't know cheese from tomatoes...well, on the other hand!

A dressing for everyone!

It is summertime for sure!

What's this hidding in the big bowl, under the wet towel?! 


The Sunday paper

Sun, 2021-06-27 20:37

These tiger or "day lilies have burst out this week. They are in hundreds of patches along Rte. 5, east to the New York state line. 
I remember my parents being faithful to their weekly reading of the local Sunday edition of The Erie Times-News, as they scanned the local section, crossword, obituaries, sports, society pages, local columnists, comics and just about everything else that each week's fat Sunday paper held. So, of course as things happen, I now look forward to the Sunday paper each week and whether I'm home or out of town (thanks to electronic editions) I keep up on this special edition of our daily paper. The family ownership of the paper has changed and lots of the stories are "canned" from Assoc. Press, USA Today or other national outlets, but it still has a lot of local appeal and that's what draws me first.
So for all you current or former Erieites or those of you who are in the same habit with your local paper, here's a snapshot of what caught me eye this Sunday.
* Strong Vincent, namesake of a local high school and Civil War general, is being honored once again, with a memorial in Waterford, PA, a small town about 10 miles or so south of Erie, on the site where he was born in the 1830s.
* 87 year old Doug Moorhead died this month. He was one of the pioneers behind the ever-growing and expanding grape growing industry here along the shoreline of east Erie county. Local growers credit him for the beginning of this unique Erie winery region.
* Twenty-five people became US citizens in Erie this month and they are pictured with the mayor and a local judge. We really are a city of 100s of immigrants.
* Golf and fishing and baseball are dominating the sports pages...local, regional and national. Our local AA baseball team, the Erie Seawolves,  is doing great this year--in first place in its division. We'll have to get to a game soon. They are lots of fun. 
* Dear Abby, or her daughter, is still dispensing advice, as are financial advisors and doctors, answering readers' questions on contemporary issues in their fields.
* The front page this week? The beginning of a 3-page story inside section A on the over $260 million that Erie County is being alloted from the American Rescue Plan, to assist low income municipalities and school districts following the COVID-19 pandemic. Good  news all around.
* The obituaries covered 3 1/2 pages today. A few years ago the paper started allowing peope to write their own obits and since then they have been much more interesting in comparison to a format that came out of filling out a standard form. This week I read Evelyn Anderson's. Evelyn died last Tuesday, age 94. She was the premier nature writer for the paper and was involved in countless organizations throughout her life, including help founding the Erie Nature Club which is today the Presque Isle Audubon Society. I looked forward to reading her column every Saturday for years. She and her friend Jean Stull, knew everything that was growing in or flying through our area all the time. Her book Nature Watch, gave us the best of her 35 years of columns.
* Finally, it still carries a Sunday-like large crossword, not as challenging as the one from the New York Times my parents tackled each week but enjoyable for sure.
A beautiful summer day, a diet coke, and sitting outside with the Sunday paper! It doesn't get much better!


Thu, 2021-06-24 05:14


As I was thinking about what to post for LTSGW today I noticed that the number of posts for this site was now listed as 1,500! 

The formation of this blog all started in 2007 because our website was going through a rough time and I just wanted to "fill in," so to speak, with the everyday news and events around our monastery for our friends, family, oblates and for any readers that just happened along. I guess that after 14+ years, twice a week, plus occassional special times of more postings (namely Holy Week, Christmas, etc), they could reach 1,500. Amazing!

But, now, due to the fact that our community website is doing a fine job of sharing our news and that some of the sisters are also sharing their own takes on the life here at Mount St. Benedict, I'm going to modify my own sharing a little--namely to just once a week: Mondays. 

I do reserve the right, if something I think is really different or interesting pops up, to throw in an occassional non-Monday posting, but generally there will just be one a week.

Thanks to my friends, cousins, oblates and anyone else, for being faithful readers all these Thursdays and I hope that you'll continue to check in on Mondays. In the meantime, if you haven't already checked out some of the other Sister blogs, give them a try. They are really very fine.


Sun, 2021-06-20 20:55


A couple of years ago we engaged in a study of our assets. Primarily it involved our land and the Brother Thomas collection of ceramic pottery. After a long and thorough study and, gratefully, numerous grants to help in the accessments, we decided to see if there was a market for our land that borders the road along the west side of our property, where there are already many individual homes. 

After the decision and work with a local realtor, we experienced the quick sale of three of the lots to home owners that border the land already. Two more sold for a new home. Today I took this photo of that land, as it is now being cleared for the home.

As you can see the trees for entrance into the acreage from the road and for the house have been cleared, but all of the trees around the perimeter are still there. Their home amidst the woods!

I have read a lot lately that we are in the middle of a sellers market for homes. I hope that is true for those who want to build here. It would be very nice to share the beautiful surroundings in Harborcreek Township with others who want a rural-suburban setting, yet close enough to a small city. 

I'm sure they'll get use to the sound of our bells three times a day!

Take Back the Site vigils resume

Wed, 2021-06-16 19:05

After offering two virtual Take Back the Site vigil prayer services for ten victims of homicides in Erie in 2020, we are resuming these "on the street" public prayer experiences for three homicide victims from March 2021.

The first is next Monday, the 21st on Buffalo Rd. near Bogey's Tavern. One way to get there is to travel east on 12th St. until it dead ends at the GE. Turn right (Franklin Ave) and continue until it, too, ends-- at Buffalo Rd. Turn right again and you'll be there in about a block. A new feature starting up will be live-streaming the prayer, especially helpful we hope, for family and friends who aren't in Erie or who can't make it that day. 

This is at least the second TBTS we've had in this area. Here's a view of the other one that was held about a block away. On a very cold winter afternoon.

Welcome Back!

Sun, 2021-06-13 21:06


Today we welcomed back our friends who join us for Sunday liturgies--at least 65-75 of them who made the trip to the Mount this first Sunday that we were "open"  after 15 months. And what a glorious reunion it was! Great thanks to Fr. Jim Piszkar who shared one of his wonderful homilies with us--yet again--and to all who sang and danced and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company throughout the morning. If you couldn't make it this week, maybe we'll see you next Sunday!

"What is the greatest gift?"

What is the greatest gift?
Could it be the world itself--the oceans, the meadowlark,
the patience of the trees in the wind?
Could it be love, with its sweet clamor of passion?

Something else--something else entirely
holds me in thrall.
That you have a life that I wonder about
more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a life--courteous, intelligent--
that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.
That you have a soul--your own, no one else's--
that I wonder about more than I wonder about my own.

So that I find my soul clapping its hands for yours
more than my own.

Mary Oliver

Public witnesses

Wed, 2021-06-09 21:24

Local news: new cases of the COVID virus are under control enough in our area for us to resume two of our more public social justice experiences. We will start up our monthly Silent Peace Walks again with one downtown at Perry Square on Tuesday, June 15, 7:00-7:30. If you're "local" please consider joining us.

After holding two online Take Back the Site Vigils, that included ten victims of homicides since last spring, we will hold live vigils on Monday, June 21 on Buffalo Rd. near Boogie's Tavern for a double homicide in early March and a second one in early July for a homicide in late March. The online ones were beautiful but very sad, both in their context and because we couldn't offer them in person for  families and friends.

Nature's interplay

Sun, 2021-06-06 20:39


Photo: Charlotte Ann Zalot, OSB

Yesterday as the musicians were getting ready to practice, unknown to us, the prayer leader had just blown out the candle at the end of Morning Prayer. Also at this exact time the bright morning sun came streaming it right through the smoke coming off the candle.

At this point my friend Charlotte grabbed a phone and got this unique picture. It all took place in about 20 seconds.

It reminded me of another unique photo from a few years ago. During the Christmas season almost the same thing happened, at about the same time one winter Sunday morning. This time the bright sun came through the stained glass windows and through the Charlie Brown tree to form a unique design on the ceramic wall tile. About a half dozen of us ran for a camera (pre-cell phone days) and here's what we got:

Nature update

Wed, 2021-06-02 19:46

One of my favorite all-time pictures--the tool building at Benetwood Apartments with the annual iris display in front. And this week is the week when I see it live--right now. The building is quite a bit more weathered than when this photo was taken, but that makes it even more photogenic, I think. The iris are the same--beautiful.

We haven't seen many deer lately, we think this is the time for the birth of this year's fawn, so they will be scarce for a couple weeks. The geese are not around as much, gosling care for sure. Hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles have been sparse this spring, too--but lots of other birds are around: the yellow finch are delightful to see flitting about. Our morning praise is accompanied by birdsong every day!

The rhododendron are great and plentiful this month, as were the forsythia last. This week our peonies are opening and the roses are having their first bloom, too. 

Finally, but far from last, the Night Blooming Evening Primrose started Monday night. They are truly miraculous in every sense of the word. 

Hoping your natural world is beautiful and that last summer's restrictions at home carry over into yards and gardens throughout the country for bird and flower lovers, not to forget vegetable growers!  Our tomatoes are doing very well in large vats on the back patio.