Wednesday 8 September

The good news is that my twin brother Andy’s gall bladder operation was indeed successful as was also his legal pursuit of a rogue builder responsible for some inept work on his house. Over here illness is the name of the game the cough which for me began during July still lingers and is probably the result of allergies to the pollen etc in the air. I am taking a double-dose of tablets (recommended in UK and by my doctor here but not medically recommended in USA. This seems to be keeping things at bay. I got tested for Covid and was much relieved to receive a negative result.

I did a funeral recently for a guy whose relationship lasted 51 years. Only yesterday I learned that he had contracted Covid. The new Pastor at my old job has also suffered the same and the schools are full of it. It doesn’t look as though it is going anywhere fast and last weekend which was a long Labor Day weekend will probably see a spike in cases, say the experts. This also means that there will not be an immediate return of choirs to our churches which is frustrating.

Several of my Cantors have suffered from Covid despite being double-vaccinated and there is growing use of the booster.

My car spent a while at the garage during August. I had to get a tow as it wouldn’t start from my driveway. The battery was flat (dead in USA) and there were several other electrical faults. It took a while out of my day each occasion I visited but at least the car is still under warranty.

At work things are heating up as we get closer to the wedding season. Sacred Heart is the wedding capital of Tampa and beyond and each wedding requires a planning meeting with the couple. I hold these meetings at the North Campus where I have two rooms/offices. You will have to imagine my frustration when after all the planning I meet the visiting priest who minutes before the celebration advises me that he refuses to use the current Rite of Marriage preferring to use an obsolete form. When the Pope decrees that there can be only one form of Mass why do some priests feel that they can play fast and loose with the Rite of Marriage. So much for obedience!

During the last month the North Campus site of Sacred Heart has been much improved. Gradually the site is becoming more usable. The 9-acre site now has a metal/brick perimeter fence with code-operated gates. A few days ago the wifi was installed and pretty soon I am hoping they will deal with the water issues. The site used to be a school which was closed ten years ago. There are three substantial buildings: the School on two floors (where I have an office and a rehearsal room), the Convent House (infested with termites) and the auditorium. It is still early days but the school is being widely used and next week the auditorium will be used for a lecture on the Turin Shroud. I am considering moving my Allen Computer Organ from the house to the office. I am currently learning the Dupre arrangement of Bach’s Sinfonia for Cantata 27. It has been requested for a wedding and is causing me much consternation at the moment!

My solar panels are now generating but since we are in the stormy season the production varies from day to day. I am interested to see my next electric bill.

My composing continues apace. I am still managing to complete a psalm setting per week. The liturgical Composers Forum met virtually to review members’ music. I submitted a setting of Psalm 23 but due to the mysteries of Dropbox it never got through. We had used the setting at church recently and although many were delighted by the melody etc a few said that it was rather long. I contacted fellow composer Chris Walker who declared that he liked the piece and suggested an amendment to the refrain and the excision of interludes. This reduced the piece by almost 90 seconds!

August saw very high temperatures rising to almost 100F. This heat and humidity then causes the daily storms to dump torrents of rain on the state. I haven’t been able to take the kayak out much as the storms make this a bit dangerous. It is difficult to imagine how folk coped without air conditioning a few decades ago. I had a taste of that experience when my AC shut down upstairs. Of course this occurred during the holiday weekend and there was little chance of getting anyone out to service it. The wait prompted me to contact the guy who had updated my thermostats and he immediately diagnosed the problem. Water had gathered in the overflow pipe and triggered a sensor which shut down the system. Yesterday I bought a wet/dry vacuum and today I drained the pipe of water and the system rebooted straightaway. The cost of the vac was half of the cost of a service visit!

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