Monday 23 December

At 1.30pm on Saturday 16 November I had a funeral for a man who had been a lawyer for some big-time shady people. By 1.55pm there was still no sign of the visiting priest they had selected. Maybe he feared some reprisals, who knows? I was able to contact our own Pastor who stepped in to save the day.

The following Monday I drove to Clearwater for a lunchtime gathering of the local chapter of Pastoral Musicians. It had been cancelled once before due to a funeral and on this occasions the Chapter Director had chosen to do anther funeral rather than attend and the Secretary was ill. The person nominated to chair the meeting had no idea of what topics had been submitted for discussion and started with the usual fluffy crap. After 40 minutes I’d had enough of this as had another Music Director who described it as the same kind of car crash as the previous session we had with ILP’s publisher Vincent something Italian. I intervened and introduced the five items I had offered for the agenda and at least there was some real discussion and outcome rather than what our joys and sorrows might have been!

As I returned home from the meeting I stopped off at the Goodwill Store in Oldsmar. I had been keeping my eyes open for replacement wooden chairs for the staff kitchen table. I found an exact match and the following day this was delivered to work and our maintenance folk chose to resurface the table in their workshops. At $40 for 4 chairs and a table it was, as you might expect from me, a bargain!

On Wednesday 20 November I answered an advert about a bed for sale. These particular beds are tempurpedic and sell for about $8000. That’s a ridiculous price and one which I could not countenance. But having owned it for almost 6 months this couple were selling for $3000 so it was another bargain and was delivered on Friday 22 November.

On Thursday 21 November I had man round from Frontier to fit two further TV points (for the Airbnb rooms) and realign the wifi which had been misbehaving. See my entry for 11 and 12 December to discover how that went.

Thursday 28 November was Thanksgiving which in these parts is a big deal. In the Parish we offered a Thanksgiving meal to the homeless and lonely in addition to offering Masses which kept me occupied rather than in bed! During the afternoon I joined several friends from the pub for our own dinner at which I supplied the Margaritas via my bargain frozen drink maker.

Friday after Thanksgiving is Black Friday at which folk arrive early in the morning queue up to purchase the possible bargains from their favourite stores. I decided to take my kayak out on the waters. It was a wise decision but on the return home I hit a pothole and the hitch to my kayak trailer malfunctioned. Later I was to learn that the hitch was still usable but had to be connected in a particular way henceforth.

On Monday 2 December I got up late and started to reform my Airbnb page. I had reorganized my office within part of my very large bedroom and this meant I had 2 rooms to offer on Airbnb.

On Tuesday 3 December I had a funeral for which I and the church charged no fee. Before I arrived there had been some commotion regarding a singer who had arrived to sing the Ave Maria. I knew nothing of this and the presiding priest said she should not be allowed to sing. In the event the mother of the singer was causing such a disturbance that I took it upon myself to allow her to sing once I had ascertained that this was the wish of the family members. The priest thanked me for my diplomacy and then the mother vented her spleen against me. Both mother and daughter knew my contact details and could have alerted me to all of this prior to the event but chose not to. Both of them used to be regular members of the choir!

On Wednesday 4 December I received a booking for 4 months. His approach was by Airbnb but they blocked him because he had made it clear that he wished to continue of that network. I had his Christian name, the town where he lived in Canada and the fact that he was a hopeful distance runner for the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. He was not difficult to track down and we spoke face to face later that night. My place was particularly attractive since only around the corner is his chosen gym, and training ground. His personal trainer would visit to stay on a couple of occasions during the four months.

On Thursday 5 December and the following day two friends from the local came to install and 8X12ft decking complete with TREX surface and two electric outlets. They did a great job and it is wonderful to look out and see patios furniture looking just proud to be on it!

I was determined to take some time off work during the next week but at the same time to complete much of the Christmas and New Year preparations while the other staff were there to assist. Our Pastor had generously given us all additional days vacation which amount to an extended time off over Christmas and the New Year. As ever I would not be able to take these as I would be working in the church over this period. It presents a dilemma for our HR people who often want there to be no exceptions. Anyhow I ended up working 13 hours on Sunday but completed the task.

On Tuesday 10 December I was able to complete an arrangement of a Christmas Carol and a translation from the latin of a movement from Charpentier’s Christmas Cantata. Then later that afternoon as usual I went to the Jesuit High School but on this occasion not to teach my scholarship students but to offer an organ recital. I played ‘Carillon de Westminster’ by Vierne and the ‘Magnificat Fugue of Bach. My students offered works by Couperin, Bach, Clerambault and Zipoli.

At Choir practice on Wednesday 11 December we welcomed Donna as a new member. However it was not a productive rehearsal as many were missing and then one old gent fell and banged his head in the car park and another lady became ill. This is one of the challenges of having an elderly choir. Illness are all around but they are a great bunch of people! I returned home opened a bottle of wine and prepared to relax in front of the tv watching a film on Netflix. I had no internet and no matter what I tried there was no success so I rang the provider Frontier. After 45 minutes the engineer had no success too and could only offer an engineer visit on Saturday morning. I had a guest arriving for 3 nights on Thursday so there was some urgency. I awoke and rag Frontier again at 8am and managed to get a really helpful engineer with much experience. But he too was banging his head against the wall and in the end suggested I drive to the Frontier store and exchange my router unit for a new one. I was there when they opened at 10am and had it all wired up when the engineer rang again at 11am. After an hour on the phone neither of us were having success so he expedited (that’s what they do in USA) an engineer to call hoping that this might be sooner than Saturday.

This week all the signs of Autumn are here. We had fog yesterday and today the leaves are falling and they’re all ending up in my pool! The temperatures have been in the low 80sF but there is a breeze in the air today which offers a certain welcome freshness to the normally humid experience.

This has been a strange month. It has been the first time since I have been here that I have experienced living from pay check to pay check. Don’t become worried for me … that happens when you spend $3000 on a bed, $2500 on lounge furniture, $2000 on a deck, $850 on the car in addition to all the usual bills. On the positive side the expenditure was all on bargains (apart from the car) and I was also able t book a holiday: 6 nights in Key West at the start of January!

The engineer arrived early on Saturday and quickly dismissed the telephone engineer advice as inadequate but then became dumbfounded himself! An hour later he had solved the issue and I was back online. By midday I was in work again and further prepared for the period after Christmas.

I had a wedding on Saturday 14 December after the Vigil Mass. It was a little unusual in that a young girl played the piano for the two entrance processions. When the bride arrived she did not look happy. They had a relative who was a deacon and he presided although he was legally blind. This might be why he missed some worrying moments like their failure to look at each other as they exchanged vows, to hold hands (they shook hands once at the point they should have exchanged vows while holding hands). It was all done and dusted within 30 minutes. I hope the marriage lasts considerably longer!

On Sunday afternoon I knew I was ill and by evening I had no voice. On Monday I had a free day so once the guy had been to fix some problems with the pool I went off kayaking at Caladesi Island. There was a good wind at first so I had an enjoyable sail until the wind dropped completely and I had to rely on the pedals.

The last complete week before Christmas is always one of trying to arrange last minute preparations around office parties etc. I always prefer to have done most of my work before this final week and by and large I managed this. The choir practice on Wednesday went really well and having lured some singers from other Masses the soprano section was looking healthy.

I had another wedding on Saturday 21 December. It started late but didn’t last long. I still had little voice so just had to play them in and out! Then began the weekend Masses and fortunately most had a Cantor so I did not have to abuse what little voice I had. I was feeling really tired due I’m sure to whatever illness I was enduring.

On Monday 23 December I stayed at home for my day off. It had rained heavily during the night and was continuing into the afternoon. Earlier in the morning I received a message from a friend that a mutual friend is in the closing stages of living with lung cancer. Perhaps the only comfort in times like this is that God is with us. God will be especially close to Graham and to those who care for him.

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