It’s a dull day today so here I am blogging.
The most significant moments of the last few weeks were spent in St Louis, Missouri during the last week of January. The weekend before that was spent doing the usual stuff in church and then on Monday I drove to the airport for the two hour direct flight to St Louis. A few days earlier I had come across some drinks vouchers sent to me by Southwest Airlines so I am afraid to admit that by 9am I had consumed three gin and tonics! I needed the drink as i had to occupy the middle seat and before I was even sat down the guy to my left said “Do not put your arm on the arm rest!”. Later in the flight he complained “your arm is inside my rib cage!” The guy to my right turned to me and said “your right arm is just perfect”. At the airport I had to wait about 90 minutes before there was any sign of the team that arranges the shuttles to the Mercy Center.
At the center I went to bed waking later for lunch. During the intensive next few days we listened to the publishers, to other composers, reviewed unpublished material from each of us, celebrated liturgies and prepared for a concert. I was pleased with the reception given to my setting of Psalm 27. It was in a gospel style and Chris Walker and others could not believe it when it was revealed that an Englishman was the composer! An even greater reception was given to the Morning Prayer I had devised using material from the Iona Community. The whole time together was a great opportunity to meet up with folk who have become friends.
After the sell-out concert on the final night a few of stayed and continued drinking the free wine until the wee hours. I left at about 3am when the only other person drinking was the octogenarian John Foley of St Louis Jesuits fame!
I returned to Tampa tired but fulfilled. Another weekend of Masses greeted me and it was the Feast of the Presentation although sadly at St Lawrence we did not do the processions required by the Church and strangely celebrated the St Blaise blessing of throats a day early!
My lodger had left my house three months earlier than I had expected. Fortunately when I reactivated my Airbnb site there was a flurry of interest which continues as I type.
The money from Airbnb will come in handy as I decided to refinance my mortgage and to reduce the term from 30 to 15 years. The payments will be high but it will be worthwhile in the long run.The refinance was done in record time …8 days!
On Wednesday I was taken out to lunch by Scott Geist who was visiting Tampa on work. I had last met him when I did a two week stint as musician in residence at St John’s Episcopal Church, Ellicott City. That invitation was the result of spending two weeks as relief musician in Iona when St John’s brought their massive youth group to Iona. The encounter was magic and I made several good friends. Indeed when I was looking for work in USA after the St Marie’s Cathedral Posluzny debacle they offered me a job with very attractive terms. Unfortunately they had not solved issues with the resident musician so I declined and came to Tampa instead. We dined in some style at the Oak on Ola in the Armature Works. The exquisite steaks were accompanied with a couple of G & T’s. We retired to sit and chat by the bar and the manager joined us and allowed us to sample some very distinctive gins which were so smooth that you could drink them without a mixer!
Yesterday Thursday 13 February I received news that the cellars of my house in Sheffield were once again underwater. The restoration company appointed by the insurance were successful in drying out the cellars but heavy rain had once more exacerbated the problem and there was 5 inches of standing water. I phoned the company to complain about their lack of communication and they promised to ring me again today and they rang at 6am this morning when I wasn’t too receptive. They haven’t rung me back so this is a disappointment.