on the way out of town

This is the final post about my long weekend in Northampton, Massachusetts to sing Brahms at Smith College.

I was up early for breakfast with CK as my plan was to attend 8:00 mass on my way home. As in many other places, the Northampton-area Catholic churches have consolidated, so I was not very familiar with the church building itself.

As a former organist and church musician, I always pay particular attention to preludes and all the music. The organ was in a loft, so I couldn’t see the musicians. I noticed that there were mistakes in the prelude, but that isn’t uncommon, especially at early masses at Catholic churches, which sometimes fall to student organists or people who are trained as pianists rather than organists.

The cantor/songleader was also in the loft and announced the opening hymn, “Holy, Holy, Holy” – a very familiar hymn that is usually one of the first an organist learns. The introduction started as one expects but became increasingly atonal, ending in a cluster chord that was held for much longer than expected.

The voice of the cantor came over the microphone, asking for a doctor to come to the loft. A woman in the section of pews in front of me jumped over the back of a pew to reach the aisle more quickly and rushed to aid the organist.

The chord on the manuals stopped, although a bass note from the pedals remained. We could hear the parishioners who had gone to the loft asking questions, trying to get a response.

I’m sure I was not the only person in the congregation who immediately began praying.

After a couple of minutes, the priest came to the front of the church and led a “Hail Mary” for the organist. He told us an ambulance was on the way and that we would begin mass shortly. He said that she would be okay, although I am not sure how he could have known.

The organist’s name is Jeanne.

At some point, the long-held pedal note stopped, a bell rang from the front of the church, and we began mass.

You could hear the ambulance squad arrive and enter the loft. Jeanne must have still been on the organ bench because there was a pedal glissando as they lifted her off.

Between readings, an usher came to the front of the church and spoke to the priest, who excused himself and went back to her before she left for the hospital.

We continued the mass with no music. It turned out that it was the last weekend for the relatively-young-as-Catholic-priests-go pastoral associate who was being re-assigned to Pittsfield.

We did sing a verse of “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name” as he processed out to greet his parishioners for the last time.

It’s been two weeks now since that day. I read the bulletins and the church’s website for some mention of Jeanne, but there was none. I hope that the priest was correct – that she really was okay.

 

burying the lead (in snow)

Yesterday, when we were standing in the cold outside Claudia Tenney’s office, the cold seemed a curse, but it was a (bit of a) blessing in disguise.

Today, here in the Binghamton (NY) area, we are experiencing a nor’easter, which is a storm that comes up the Atlantic coast and whose rotation results in winds from the northeast. ┬áThis is the strongest we have had in many years, perhaps because it was strengthened by a second low pressure system coming from the west.

The tricky thing about forecasting nor’easters is that the exact track of the storm makes a huge difference in the snowfall amount. The prediction had been that we were going to get one to three inches starting about midnight, with an additional eight to ten during the day.

I set my alarm to get up in the pre-dawn darkness – insert grumbling about Daylight Saving Time here – to shovel the driveway to get to an morning appointment. I looked out the front door to find not one to three inches, but a foot (about a third of a meter) already on the ground with heavy snow continuing, sometimes at a rate of two to three inches an hour.

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Our house mid-morning

Apparently, the storm had tracked further west than anticipated – and then stalled. Fortunately, the cold from the day before was holding, though, so while we are getting A LOT of snow, it is light and fluffy, not the heavy, wet snow that mixes with sleet and freezing rain and causes power outages.

Still, it is daunting to shovel so much of it…

I worked for an hour and didn’t even have one lane of the driveway clear when I cam in to rest.

The appointment with E’s obstetrician’s office was cancelled because the office was closed, along with just about everything else in the county. The governor instituted a travel ban and is calling out the National Guard to help in the storm cleanup. We may get as much as thirty inches of snow , which I can believe, given that we have almost two feet on the ground as I write this in mid-afternoon.

(Just in case you had forgotten about E’s pregnancy – I had forgotten myself that I had written about it – you can read some of the backstory here.)

I’ve spent the day alternating shoveling time with rest and recovery time. I am very grateful that, during shoveling round four, our next-door neighbors came to help with their snowblower. Ordinarily, B uses our big Ariens snowblower that my dad gave us when he no longer needed it to clear snow for us and the neighbors, but B is away on business, the Ariens is currently in need of repair, and I am not strong enough to use it. They were able to clear the second pass of snowplow pile blocking the end of the driveway and make an initial path to the front stairs and mailbox, although there isn’t going to be any mail delivery today. Sometimes, the “neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night” bit doesn’t hold.

I need to get out there for round six now. I am trying to keep the driveway and path clear enough that we could get out in case of emergency. It is getting harder because the snow banks are getting higher than my head, so it is hard to throw the snow over them. I have left myself a little extra space for the driveway, in case of bank mini-avalanche, but I am dreading when the snow slides off the metal garage roof and lands in a giant pile in the driveway. Maybe it will wait until tomorrow, or Thursday, or even better, Friday, when B will return home.

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Backyard with ridiculously buried bird feeders