Friday 29 June

Just in case some of you did not get last month’s installment (I had problems posting this on facebook) here it is again with June added!

As I type it is over 5 weeks since workmen put the new porcelain tile floor in the house. After so many promises to finish the work they arrived this morning at 10am and I was able to get home at 2pm to see their work. They had not done much because the compressor for their nail machine had broken. Their boss authorised them to get a replacement and now at 3pm they are back to work.

So what else has happened since my last post? Work was more or less the same except that on Friday 18 we had the School graduations. This year some of the departing students offered themselves as instrumentalists. They’d hidden their lights before and now on their last appearance they wanted to play! So I did an arrangement of ‘Lord, I need you’ for the unlikely combination of piano with trumpet, trombone, flute, clarinet, violin and percussion. No graduation is complete, it seems, without an excerpt from Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March. Normally musicians play only the Land of Hope and glory theme several times over as the graduands arrive in procession. This twit decided to play the entire thing … including the tricky bits! I’d worked on it last year and realised how amazing muscle memory can be!

On Saturday 19th the Royal Wedding was a must watch as was also the FA Cup final which followed it. I’ve supported Chelsea since I was 9 so it was good to see them walk away from a somewhat depressing season with some silverware.

In the evening I played the vigil Mass and then relaxed before the onslaught which is Sunday.  It was Pentecost Sunday so the choir sang Oomen’s ‘I shall be living’ and the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ by Handel. They certainly rose to the challenge as did the members of the congregation who stayed to join in the song.

The following week followed the usual pattern with the last school Mass of the academic year. We would not see the cherubs for another 2 1/2 months!

On Monday 21 was Memorial Day and a public holiday. The whole weekend had been miserable with torrential downpours blotting all hopes of fine weather. It had been like this for 10 days.  In the late afternoon I managed to catch my twin brother Andy by phone to wish him a happy birthday. He was surprised to hear from me, I think! The following day my arrival in the office was greeted by the decorations all of which suggesting the fact that it was my 60th birthday too! My day was spent working and then I went for a meal with my music colleague, Marty. Later I quaffed a few beers. My brother Richard and his wife had suggested a record some interesting moment for every year of my life so far. I rose to the challenge and with the single exception of one year I have it all done. This will be appearing soon no doubt. During the day I had received a request to use my setting of Psalm 46 for the Diocesan 50th anniversary Mass on 16 June. Since I would be away for part of June it was essential to get down to work sooner rather than later. An arrangement for string quartet and flute in addition to the organ was required. Just as life was beginning to calm down a bit up sprung a serious challenge!

I spent much of Friday enjoying my day off at the house before going in for a wedding. After this I dropped in to O’Brien’s where I enjoyed a few glasses. There was a lady there who had the most strident voice which cut through all the noise the people in the bar could create.

The Memorial weekend weather was terrible as tropical storm Albert wreaked its vengeance on Florida.

On Sunday 27 the choir excelled themselves with a fine rendering of ‘The Deer’s Cry’. The choir provided the backing vocals to Vivian Padron’s solo.

On my day off on Monday I waited for workmen to arrive to do the baseboards (skirting boards). They didn’t show. well, who would work on a national holiday? They would come the following day.  But they didn’t show then either.

On Tuesday I paid my first visit to the cinema to see ‘Pope Francis – a Man of his Word’. What a powerful docu-film this is! I was also delighted to be one of only four people in the theatre and to be offered a seniors discount now that I am over 60!

On Wednesday I awoke to learn that the Diocesan Director of Music had mistakedly asked me to use my setting of Psalm 46 for an anniversary Mass. He had forgotten that they’d already selected Psalm 98. So hopes dashed somewhat I worked during the morning and then came home for a bit before returning later for the choir practice. It was the last of the season so we did some reminiscing once we’d learned Frisina’s ‘Anima Christi’ in my own arrangement.

On Thursday on my way into work something hit my car windshield and so I had to seek out a repair. It turned out to be beyond repair so I fixed an appointment for the glass to be replaced on 11 June. My phone has an app which allows me to monitor my security alarm at the house. I was pleased to find that workmen were in my house. However when I got home at 2pm I discovered them doing nothing … their compressor for the nail gun had broken. After contacting management they got permission to find a replacement. They expect to get it all done today and will return to repair the hole in the ceiling tomorrow. I’m not counting any chickens!

Well they didn’t return the next day and the hole in the ceiling was not fixed until 28 June! In a way I was grateful as I had friends coming on the Friday. I had met Helen and Mike on a beach in Goa years ago and we had kept in touch with each other. I had stayed in some of their properties in the Canaries and in Spain. But before they arrived I had to get some blood tests done. Soon after they had settled we went to Ybor City. I had never been there but it was a beautiful historical part of town. Really it was one street of bars and restaurants very reminiscent of Bar Street in New Orleans. We ubered there and back and returned for a few adult beverages before sleep. I had work the next two days but they amused themselves exploring the area.

On Monday 4 June we parted company as they moved to another B&B they had booked and I went on a 3 day break to Orlando. I had got a deal from Hilton Hotels which gave me good accomodation at a fraction of the price. I didn’t do much in the hotel except sleep but travelled to the East Coast to enjoy the beach with Atlantic rollers thrown in. We don’t experience these on the calm bay coast.

All too soon I was back in Tampa. I had a wedding to play for on the Friday and the usual weekend business followed. The builders had been on Monday and had installed the skirting boards and woodwork to most of the ground floor. However they had ‘forgotten’ to look inside one closet! Still the hole in the ceiling remained open.

On the Monday I had a doctor’s appointment after which he increased my blood pressure medication. Later that afternoon I had my car window replaced.

The main event of the week was the choir party on Friday 15 June. I had turned 60 about 3 weeks earlier and the choir wanted to celebrate this as well as get together. It was also good to be able to invite the pastor, Fr Mike. Due to start at 7pm the advance party arrived at 6.30pm and I went upstairs to change and shower. When I came down there were about 40 people in my house and all the food was laid out and organised. It was amazing. I just provided the wine and very few people were drinking! Most were gone by 10.30pm but not before they had divided up the leftovers, washed up and returned my place to its unusually tidy state! A couple remained to quaff a few whiskies!

On the following morning as I awoke a crown popped off one of my teeth! I’d have to wait to get it fixed but it was causing no pain at all.

I had been trying to get a group of guitarists together for the 7pm Mass. On Wednesday June 20 I met with two of them. Both were experienced but one felt less confident. Unfortunately a week later the less confident one withdrew. I hope he will return when things settle for him.

On Thursday 21 June the local Jesuit School sent me next year’s scholarship student. He played two pieces really well on the piano so I accepted him. I continue to teach last year’s student until August.

On Friday 22 June many of my staff colleagues met at a Hibachi restaurant to say farewell to Jean-Claude. Jean-Claude was a seminarian from Malta who had spent 4 months with us and was entering a 30-day retreat before returning to Malta. I had enjoyed a very informative chat with him earlier in the day as we exchanged notes on the American Catholic church!

Monday 25 June was a wonderful day and then the heavens opened in the evening with a massive lightning attack. It was all over in 10 minutes but there was considerable flooding. This is the pattern of weather at this time of year.

On Tuesday a friend in UK completed her walk from the southernmost tip of England to the northernmost of Scotland. It was a massive achievement lasting 88 days. As befits one whose family name is Walker she decided to walk a further day to John O’Groats which some erroneously believe to be the northernmost point.

On Thursday 28 June I awoke to news from UK that I was to be summonsed to appear in court for non-payment of Council Tax of 370 pounds. This news came from my lettings agents. She was confused too as I should not have to pay Council Tax at all as I am not resident there. Anyhow we both sent letters to Sheffield Council in the hope that the matter will be resolved appropriately and the bailiffs could be called off!

At work the organ engineer arrived with a replacement circuit board for the instrument. After a lightning strike several months ago we lost the use of the organ pipes. The digital remained fine. The installation was successful and it was good for my organ students to hear the organ as it was intended.

Friday 29 June is a day off and I slept in for a bit before shopping for bbq gas and various bits and bobs. When, in the afternoon, I popped into the garden I was amazed to see that another large branch had fallen from a tree. Most had landed in a neighbour’s garden and they are away at the moment. I think the time has come to have the trees felled. There was no wind last night so clearly that tree is just unsafe.

It has just started raining so perhaps I will delay grilling a steak until the morrow.


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