It’s been over 2 months since I last blogged. Apologies, readers!
During the last 2 months I’ve experienced numbness in my legs and went to the doc about this. On one occasion my legs gave way under me! He advised that the cause could be a brain tumour! Thanks, doc. The x-rays came back inconclusive so I MRIs to brain and spine. I was relieved to learn that my brain was Ok (for a person of my age?!) but that there was a tissue build up on my spine which was pressurizing nerves. I started physiotherapy and for the last week have had no recurrence. Phew!
At about the same time a crown came off a molar tooth. There was so little of the tooth left that extraction was the only avenue. The dentist spent an hour trying to achieve extraction and in the end had to cut it into pieces to get it out. My upper lip was stiff for days!
The weather has been pretty changeable and sunny days have been few. There are times when it has been really cold. I now think I have acclimatised (americans can only acclimate) to Florida. I now feel cold when the temperate plummet below 70F! At the start of November the storms disappeared and cooler temps and reduced humidity became the order of the day. At night I now sleep with two blankets over me.
Work continues to both enthrall me and challenge me. I rarely enjoy what I might call a light week. I continue to compose a new psalm setting each week and the Cantors continue to lead the music in church. In fact they are now a choir of their own for weddings. One couple asked for 8 singers and there are increasingly frequent requests for 3 singers. We sang for the wedding of Pete Alonso a baseball star of the New York Mets. This was the best dressed congregation I have ever experienced. Last weekend I had 4 weddings and this coming weekend I have three. My church really is the wedding capital.
Long before I left St Lawrence Church I had agreed to play for the wedding of one of the cantors there. She asked to go out to the Sinfonia from Cantata 29 of Bach arranged by Dupre. It was harder work learning this than I had anticipated but felt good to have mastered it. I had intended to include it as my offering to a diocesan organ recital but had to withdraw as there was another event in my church at the same time.
In October, a week after the feast of St Francis, the Franciscans took the staff out for a luncheon at an Italian in nearby Ybor City. It was wonderful.
Towards the end of September a stranger came up to me after I’d finished the organ piece. He was enquiring about the psalm. Fortunately he loved it and it was one of mine. He is an Englishman from Surrey who works as a heart surgeon in North America but also set up a charity in Tampa from where he occasionally flies to perform operations for the poor of South America.
Last Tuesday I held the first rehearsal of the choir post Covid. We spent quite a lot of the time learning about each other and then learned some pieces for Advent which we will rehearse again next week prior to the start of Advent.
I start a Children’s Choir on Saturday. we’ll have 2 rehearsals before the start of Advent. They will support the singing of the assembly rather than merely delight their parents, I hope.
My solar panels continue to deliver reduced bills. We had a power cut over a week ago and since then I have not been able to monitor the panels on my cell phone but am assured they are working. A few days ago I received a cheque for $4800 from the installer as a thank you! In the process of installation I had to have a large laurel oak removed from the front garden. It was dying and had already shed a few branches so I didn’t feel bad about that and have since replaced it with a crepe myrtle.
The next home improvement will be a water filtration system for the whole house. I’ve gone with a local family run company that have established a fine reputation over the 35 years.
Last Sunday I drove to Tarpon Springs where a friend and music colleague was directing an hour of Funeral Music. The event was held to remember those members of the music ministry who had died. There was a long list of names and the title read something like ‘We remember those members who have passed into God’s glory today’. I knew what was intended but I turned to a lady behind me and asked what she thought of that. She replied that she wouldn’t join that choir since there were too many daily deaths!
An additional reason for going to Tarpon Springs was the appearance of Fr Michael Joncas who had created a skillful commentary around the music. Afterwards we all went for an Italian meal. There I learned from Michael that he too is composing psalm settings weekly. He has lost 75lbs weight since the last time I saw him. Remarkable, eh!
My house got plagued by cockroaches and I tried to keep them as bay myself but in the end had to call in the pest people. Fortunately my house is now pest free apart from a few that venture in and take the bait.
Instances of Covid seems to be falling in Florida which was once the third worst state in USA. Now it is at the bottom of the table. I even got my booster jab done. I read that there is a new variant in Europe which really disturbs me as I am anxious to return to England to visit my mum (and brothers) and also proceed with the sale of my Sheffield house. Mum has now moved into a larger rental property with brother Richard and his wife and child. It’s only been a month but they are all doing well and mum appears to have settled in.
I have managed to save all of my vacation this year (10 days, I think) and have, so far, saved an additional 6 days from what are effectively national holidays. Some friends from Scotland will be visiting Orlando in a couple of weeks and I hope to take some time out to visit them.