Aloha, Leah

Leah gets lei’d at Maui Kahului Airport in September, 2007

Leah Sharron Gibbs, nee Green, age 70, beloved wife for 50 years and best friend of Sheldon. Loving mother of David (Virginia), Daniel, Mitchell (Gloria) Gibbs. Cherished grandmother of Melissa, Joshua, Jennifer and Naomi. Dear sister of the late Seymour Green. Devoted daughter of the late Abrasha and Udasha. Fond sister-in-law of Norma and Bill Brown. Loving aunt of many nieces and nephews. Long time teacher at Serena Hills School in Chicago Heights, IL. Member of B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom. Services Thursday, 11 A M. at B’nai Yehuda Beth Sholom, 1424 183rd Street, Homewood. Interment Shalom. In lieu of flowers contributions in her name to the Cancer Support Center, 2028 Elm Road, Homewood, IL 60430 would be appreciated.

A rare flower bloomed for a time, but lives forever in the garden of memory.

She lived in amazing times, from Saturday, November 8th, 1941 to Memorial Day, Monday, May 28th, 2012. She was a month old when “a day that will live in infamy” dawned. Ironically enough, that day took place in Hawaii too, but this picture shows Leah being greeted at Maui airport with 2 flower lei and a hug by my husband David. She and my father-in-law Sheldon joined us there to help me celebrate my 50th birthday in 2007.

She loved, loved, loved so many things. Purple, books, flowers, good food, good friends, and travel; most of all, she loved her family deeply and wanted the best for each of us. She welcomed me, even though we come from different backgrounds, without hesitation and with open arms. I was proud to call her a friend as well as my my mother-in-law; after my own mom died in 2006, Leah became my second mom. She also had a deep connection with my sister-in-law Gloria, who was able to spend a lot of time with Leah in the last few months, attending meetings in Leah’s home with her “Goddesses” support group.

The Cancer Support Center meant a great deal to Leah, and we will be donating in her name for as long as it takes. Please consider making a donation on their website, or check out their amazing yearly fundraiser/silent auction/talent show.

I haven’t been able to say much here on the blog or on Facebook or Twitter about what was going on with Leah, but she passed away today surrounded by friends and family. She was in home hospice care until last Monday, and then it was decided that she needed to go into the hospice unit in a hospital farther to the south from her home. For the last week we’d been making the long drive back and forth between here and a place I thought of as the “Borderlands Hotel.”

We’re grateful for the care she received, and thankful that she no longer needs it. She’s at peace now.

While all of us in the family were at her home tonight, decompressing from the enormity of losing a wife, mother, sister, and grandmother, I browsed in the pile of books on a side table by her favorite sofa. One passage, just 2 short pages, was marked by not just one, but FOUR bookmarks AND a dog-ear. I should have borrowed that book, but there will be time to retrieve it with all the to-and-fro we have to do this week. It had interesting insights on life, living with cancer, and doing it with humor and grace.

Potential images for my banner from Hawaii trip, and Father Manny’s Purple Poncho

Ho, well, I never post anymore, blah de blah. We had a wonderful time in Hawaii, pictures are all still on my laptop and need to be culled and copied to my desktop machine. However, I found a few on the card that was in my camera this morning when I took a picture of Father Manny in his purple Lenten poncho (okay, church purists, it’s a chausuble).

Here’s one of his photo-op pictures, which will shortly be uploaded to the St Nicholas Facebook page and used on the website for the rest of Lent.

I enjoy “Faddah” Manny’s sermons so much; he’s open, friendly and approachable, pretty much as he is in this picture. Today’s sermon started out as a commentary on that famous reading from John that includes “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoso believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”

OOH! Here’s the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir singing John Stainer’s “God So Loved The World,” a piece we sang at St Nick’s last year during Holy Week. I love singing this piece – and we’re only about 8-10 voices WITH the extra people who ring in for the big services. St Paul’s is a traditional Anglican choir with boy altos and sopranos. I particularly love the twitchy boy in the final closeup – he’s next to the kid that the camera zooms in on.

We sound a bit more like this choir:

Anyway, after that musical interlude, more photography and churchy stuff, and finally, a soaring bit of Hawaii.

The background was chosen because there was too much backlight when he was at the altar, coming from the windows behind him. He had someplace to be so I quickly directed him over by the font, which is “dressed” for Lent. Note the empty font pool behind him, and the arrangement of leafless branches; the symbolism is stark, but the potential for life and renewal is there in the coming of Spring and the water of Life. The folks responsible for decorating the church for the liturgical seasons have really been creative this year; they’ve been given free rein and the result has been interesting, engaging, and tasteful while also being innovative and working with a minuscule budget. I can’t wait to see what they do on Holy Saturday for the Great Vigil; the sanctuary will be full of light and spring flowers, I know that.

Today was nice as we had another new person attending with her young son, and last week’s new person was there with her daughter too. The kid’s program is really unfolding in a neat way -today was another of the “Children’s Gospel” Sundays, where the kids go to the Noah’s Ark area (a comfortable lounge with couches off the main gathering space) and conduct their own service and read the Gospel, then talk about it. They get invited forward before the first reading, and are then sent off to do their thing (supervised and guided, of course, but it’s their activity). They return to their families just before the Eucharist (communion) and we seem to have it working well. Other Sundays, they either are with their families, or they actually help conduct the main service; the committee that designed the program figures it’s easier for families to schedule things for specific Sundays due to the sports and extracurricular activities they’re signed up for other weeks.

In other churchy news that’s also funny, we’ve somehow put our hands (paws?) on an Easter Bunny costume, which belongs to St Bede’s Bensenville. They’re merging with us at St Nicholas in May, so there’s been some sharing back and forth (I need to try to take some photos next week to send over there of us as a “get to know you” thing). They are bringing some treasures with them – among them some stunningly beautiful Stations of the Cross, which have already been installed along our back wall and will be used (I think at the Good Friday service). But they also offered the bunneh suit, and Faddah Manny was game for running out the back at the end of the Easter Sunday service, de-ponchoing (he’ll be wearing the cream/gold festive chausuble that day) and hopping (heh) into the bunny suit. Well, that’s clearly not workable, so we’ll find someone else to be the bunneh. In fact, we need a Bunneh Stig.

We somehow need to meld this:

with THIS.

In related news, it appears that The Stig may simply have been hatched from an egg, so Bunny Stig is actually entirely possible.

And on that bombshell I’ll move on to the soaring pictures from Hawaii.

We went for a drive down along the North Shore one day on Oahu, and more or less blundered into yet another area that was historically significant in World War II, but had seen its glory days pass by, Dillingham Airfield. I have picture on the laptop of the signs for it, but quickly switched to a new card when I noticed some interesting activity on the tarmac.

Got it together quickly enough to get this and other similar pictures:

They flew around a bit, and then the glider was released and the little yellow plane came back down to line up for the next go-around. The glider landed:

Glider N387BA landing, its single wheel just inches from the asphalt

Managed to get it just before the single wheel kissed asphalt (OOH!).

Glider N387BA getting tow cable set for another go around Dillingham Field

It came to a stop and the pilot hopped out to hook up the cable for another go-around. Lovely day for soaring. I know very little about gliders other than the obvious, but this looked like a lot of fun. There were a couple of outfits there that seemed to be selling glider rides but it looks like this was flown by Honolulu Soaring. I can’t get the tail number to match up with them – glider N387BA is registered in Alabama, but there are mentions of it being at Dillingham. The tow plane is a pretty distinctive little yellow guy with a great big GRRRR!! toothy grin.

I’ve made banner images for a couple of the other pictures and will be adding more, you’ll see them appear if you refresh a time or two.

It’s Raining, But Who Cares? We’re In Maui

20120212-081057.jpg

Not our earliest start, the overnight in San Francisco took a bit of the edge off.

It rained all night, it’s raining now; it’s a relaxing day in Paradise.

It was snowing when we left Chicago, and currently it’s 27 degrees there. More snow expected this week. I’ll take the rain, thanks.

The flight was delayed more than an hour, not bad once we got in the air. We arrived at the hotel via shuttle, and will stay in SFO again on our way back to avoid that deadly overnight flight. The flight to Maui pushed back on time, and I was closer than David on the Halfway to Hawaii game (although he helped with my calculations, he cheated and used his GPS).

One quibble; for such a long, full flight, United should offer a meal. We passed on the paid snacks and after getting the car, stopped for lunch at Beach Bums in Maalaea. Yummy calamari sandwich, never had such tender thick chunks of it before.

Good thing, too, because the traffic crawled slowly, for no visible reason, through Kahului and around the two-lane part of the Pali. Next time, we’ll turn on the Hana Highway, avoid Dairy Road, and cut through town.

Headed To Paradise, But Not Soon Enough

Barring any weird developments, this is the other place we’ll stay on our upcoming vacation.

Visit Paradise, the ultimate true Hawaii vacation experience. Paradise Bay Resort offers the most beautiful natural setting and the best kept secret hide away on Oahu. We are the only B&B, resort hotel on the tropical Windward of Oahu. Enjoy panoramic views of the Ko’olau and Kualoa Mountains, magnificent Kaneohe Bay, Chinaman’s Hat Island, the Pacific Ocean and the neighboring Kahouna Fish Sanctuary.

Link: Paradise Bay Resort Hawaii – Kailua Bed and Breakfast, Kailua Beach Hotel

The World Is Not Ending In 2012, Despite What The Marketers Of The Apocalypse Have Been Selling You

I know a little about the Mayan “calendar round,” and have an amateur-archeologist interest in Pre-Colombian cultures. I’ve had conversations with people who actually believe the movie and book hype, promulgated by people who’ve taken a distorted view of Mayan texts in order to sell more books or movie tickets.

The Mayans believed that time was organized like a set of nested, revolving rings; they were trying to keep both lunar and solar time, and they were such keen astronomers that they worked out the cyclic nature of how the two sets of rings synced up in 52-year “short count” rounds. Various “long count” rounds can take thousands of years to re-sync. The end and beginning of a new cycle, short or long count, is significant.

December 21, 2012, according to some (but not all) translations of Maya date glyphs, marks the end and beginning of a particularly significant “long count” cycle. Mayan scholars are trying to educate people away from the simplistic, Apocalyptic “end of the world!!1!” view of this date, made popular in various recent movies and book.

It’s an uphill battle. People WANT to believe old Mayan predictions of the return of a creator god, because they want to think it reinforces the concept of the Apocalypse and the Second Coming of Jesus.

This image shows my mom’s birthdate in Mayan glyphs, probably in short count notation. I bought it many years ago on a trip to Mexico, as a souvenir of a day spent at Chichen Itza.

PALENQUE, Mexico (Reuters) – If you are worried the world will end next year based on the Mayan calendar, relax: the end of time is still far off.

So say Mayan experts who want to dispel any belief that the ancient Mayans predicted a world apocalypse next year.

The Mayan calendar marks the end of a 5,126 year old cycle around December 12, 2012 which should bring the return of Bolon Yokte, a Mayan god associated with war and creation.

Author Jose Arguelles called the date “the ending of time as we know it” in a 1987 book that spawned an army of Mayan theorists, whose speculations on a cataclysmic end abound online. But specialists meeting at this ancient Mayan city in southern Mexico say it merely marks the termination of one period of creation and the beginning of another.

“We have to be clear about this. There is no prophecy for 2012,” said Erik Velasquez, an etchings specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). “It’s a marketing fallacy.”

The National Institute of Anthropological History in Mexico has been trying to quell the barrage of forecasters predicting the apocalypse. “The West’s messianic thinking has distorted the world view of ancient civilizations like the Mayans,” the institute said in a statement.

Link: Mayans never predicted world to end in 2012: experts – chicagotribune.com

Review: Seattle-SeaTac Intl Airport

We stayed one night at the Holiday Inn Seattle-SeaTac International Airport. It was a really late check-in as our flight on United (boo) was late, but David had paid to get us Economy Plus seats so we were one of the first people off the plane (yay).

Getting to the hotel was the hardest part of the evening, no small feat with brains partly shut down with travel stress and legs still getting used to working again after 4 hours in the air. Seatac has changed somewhat since my days of living in Seattle and flying in and out of there; there are now “transportation islands” which are reached from baggage claim via an escalator trip upstairs, a skybridge across the traffic, then back down to the ground level (people who carry on, just carry on forward and skip the trip down one level to the carousels). Once there, you have to know where to head – the intercom boards, with direct phone lines to hotels and park’n fly operators – are discreet metal kiosks dotted along the “island,” on the side closest to the parking garage. We got in contact with the van driver originally by calling the hotel direct, were transferred to his cell, and given instructions on where to go to wait for him to come back.

Eventually, he turned up and got us on our way, and a very hard working guy he was, too.

The lobby area was small, especially considering the large amount of cruise-group traffic that seemed to be using the hotel. But it was plusher and more richly colored than most Holiday Inns. The room, once we got in it, was bigger and nicer than Holiday Inns have been (in my experience, mostly limited to locations on major highways). The bed was really comfortable, which was a bonus as I haven’t had great luck with beds or bedding in mid-priced chain hotels.

No breakfast included, so we ate a pretty nice buffet-style breakfast in their restaurant, which doubled as a cozy pub in the evenings (with some very nice offerings, judging by the beer-pump handles). The only real drawback was that we would have had to pay for parking, but the next morning when we retrieved the rental car from Avis, we knew that when we brought it back, we had 20 minutes free parking for “loading.” So we use the iPhone’s stopwatch to time ourselves (our stuff was packed up and ready to go aside from toiletries) and made the deadline with about 2 minutes to spare.

So if you decide to overnight in Seattle at the Holiday Inn, whether you’re traveling inbound or outbound, time your rental car so that you don’t have it with you at the hotel. Drop it off when you check in, or pick it up when you check out, and you’ll save.

Just don’t take longer than 20 minutes on the clock.
Via SEATTLE Hotels – Holiday Inn Hotels & Resorts SEATTLE-SEATAC INTL AIRPORT Hotel in SEATTLE | Book Direct for Best Rates

Colin Slee: I Wish I’d Known Ye

The Very Revd Colin Slee, Dean of Southwark Cathedral in London, died last week and his funeral service was today in the cathedral. The sermon was given by Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, who was formerly the Theologian at Southwark, was nominated as Bishop, and in a scandalous turn, the nomination was rescinded because conservatives objected to John’s homosexuality.

He noted that Slee said to him in the weeks before his death how “surprisingly un-scared” he was.

I wish I’d known him; on my recent visit to London with David we actually walked past his house, where I spotted the Archbishop of Canterbury casually knocking on the bright yellow front door and waiting to be admitted in that stooping posture that he has. The ABC is unmistakable; I spotted him from behind, even though he was wearing an ordinary black suit with a priest’s collar. The house, called the Provost’s Lodging, is a couple of doors down from the Globe Theater, where David and I were about to take a tour. ++Rowan must have been making a pastoral care visit, as Slee passed away at home the next week. It’s a kind gesture, and as much as I wish Archbishop Rowan were less accomodating to the conservative faction that wishes to bar the door to some of Christ’s people, I am glad he was able to “be there” for his friend (in spite of their differences over the “Jeffrey Johns affair,” they remained friends).

From Johns’ funeral homily on Colin Slee:

Other people had said to him ‘It’s not fair: you’ve led a good life’. Colin replied, ‘How do you know? And anyway, whatever goodness I have is God’s gift. We rely on mercy, not fairness’.

It’s that confidence in God’s goodness that is the key to all the rest. What upset Colin about the Church was that in over his time as a priest it seemed to have grown narrower and meaner and less loveable, making God look narrow and mean and unloveable too; which for Colin was a sort of ultimate blasphemy. He wanted the Church to be big-hearted and warm and generous and kind because that’s how God is, and if we don’t reflect that, how are we going to show God to the world?

The papers and his detractors always portrayed Colin as an arch-Liberal, as if he were the leader of a faction obsessed with a secular agenda. It was never true, and it misses the whole point. For Colin it began and ended with God. The truth is that he was a traditional Catholic Anglican, thoroughly disciplined and orthodox in his faith, a man of profound prayer and penitence. His idea of inclusiveness was not that ‘anything goes’, but that we are all equally in need of healing, and therefore the Church must equally be a home for all. Colin welcomed people because Jesus did.

And that didn’t just mean welcoming gay people and women bishops, important as that was and is. He welcomed everybody. The first thing he did in Southwark was to take down the notice that said ‘Worship in progress – Cathedral closed’.

via The Lead.

Slee once jumped up and down, in full canonicals, on the Millennium Bridge in order to demonstrate to all and sundry that it wasn’t safe and had a dangerous wobble. Meanwhile, the hereditary ruler of all and sundry, the Queen of England was standing right there next to him ready to dedicate the thing, and Slee was taking part in the blessing of it. He must have been an amazing person to know – the comments at Thinking Anglicans were full of personal anecdotes and only one slightly acidulated comment from someone who probably had poor taste in shirts.

The BBC has a short synopsis here from their programme The Last Word, it will be playable via the iPlayer plugin for just a few days, but the introductory synopsis should remain visible.

I agree with Colin’s assessment that the ABC was “much too accomodating” to the conservatives, as the Archbishop himself noted in his careful, scholarly way. The rest of the audio portion goes on to note how Slee hosted a speech by Zimbabwean prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai, which was later disrupted by exiles who accused the politician of selling out in the aftermath of the controversial elections there.

He also hosted our own Bishop Katharine and gave her a place to preach during the lively times that came to be known as “Mitregate.” Many celebrated people came to preach, preside, and pray at Southwark during his time.

During Slee’s 16 years at Southwark, visitors included Nelson Mandela and all four prime ministers. Last year he allowed the beleaguered Zimbabwe premier Morgan Tsvangirai to use the cathedral for a rally of exiles. Slee, who had visited and studied in South Africa, was unfazed when protests caused the address to be curtailed. During the 400th anniversary of John Harvard’s baptism in Southwark he could not resist suggesting that it was the narrow religious view of such emigrants which gave rise to the US’s neocon right.

A low point for Slee was when it fell to him to announce that one of his canons, Jeffrey John, was to be denied the Bishopric of Reading to which he had been appointed. He had been opposed by evangelicals fearful of a gay person being a prelate. Slee believed in an inclusive church and said so when it was not fashionable. He was always pleased to welcome disenchanted evangelicals to his confident congregation.

As with Jeffrey John, there was a sense of anticipation when Slee was due to preach. Although there might be a good soundbite, his discourse was always strongly Bible-based. His robust humour could be misunderstood. On leaving Winchester Cathedral, his host said, “Do come again.” “I shall,” Slee replied. “I am looking forward to attending your bishop’s funeral.” The astonished canon was unaware the bishop had just presided at a hearing which had gone against Slee’s strong views.

He was a trustee of Borough Market, where he took pleasure in buying “Stinking Bishop” cheese. Looking to the future, he struck a deal with Network Rail to protect the cathedral from the Thameslink plans. “Being dean feels like being on the footplate of a runaway express train,” he once said. “It is exciting as the church should be.”

Following heart surgery last year he was again on his bicycle. He criticised George Carey’s call to limit immigration as “utterly extraordinary”. At Easter he persuaded many to miss lunch and demonstrate against President Mugabe. In June he triggered what became known as “Mitregate” by welcoming Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first Anglican woman primate. In October he was diagnosed with cancer following a fall. Death came swiftly at home.

We walked completely around Southwark Cathedral trying to find the right door to enter; they’re having the “front” renovated, which butts up against a National Railway bridge and overlooks a tiny little Italian coffee garden that’s tucked under the arch. The “main door” at the back was full of students from the London School of Economics and from another college, about to have some sort of baccalaureate service (or possibly a fall graduation ceremony). Just up the road, we passed by the Borough Market and saw a sign for Stinking Bishop cheese at a cheerfully grubby little pub. I’d like to return to Southwark another time and see how they’re getting on without their “liberal-conservative” Dean someday, it struck me as a lively, interesting area full of interesting little corners and diverse entertainments.

I just wish I’d known him, although I’d known OF him for years. He sounds like a wonderful person.

Ugly Americanisms: Two Countries Divided By A Language

In my ongoing love affair with all things British, I sometimes come up against things that are less loveable, such as the crankypants insularity that is a hallmark of the English national personality. I do understand, really I do; references to our popular culture, fast-food cuisine and security-theater politics are everywhere in the UK where there’s a TV, a McDonalds, or an international airport.

I chuckled at this story, which quotes several peevish readers complaining about the use of American idiom and slang in the Guardian, a left-leaning newspaper. For the record, “clatch” is the German word “klatsch,” we currently spell it “rambunctious” now (note spelling differs from the original one), and “schlep” is Yiddish. Our shared language is as endlessly diverting as it is diverse.

"Can you please ask your journalists and feature writers not to use American English in their articles? Whilst I appreciate that many are either American themselves, or have spent a long time in the USA, they are nevertheless writing for a British readership. Recent examples include clatch, rumbunctious, drag for High Street, dweebish and schlep. I find myself constantly having to reach for the dictionary to find out what your journalists are saying when I am reading the Guardian or Observer because of these ugly and unnecessary Americanisms."

via Lickety splits: two nations divided by a common language | Mind your language | Media | guardian.co.uk.

Dine And Dash, London Style

We don’t eat in these sorts of places, but I imagine it wasnt difficult to catch a man full of good food and undoubtedly very good wine.

We just got back from dinner with friends at a very nice Italian restaurant near Sloan Square called Caraffini. Lovely time, fabulous food, we did dine well but definitely did not dash away. I had the chicken with chestnuts; it was memorable.

For our return journey we re-enacted the “car scene” from Notting Hill; hope the doorman was amused as we extricated ourselves.

LONDON (Reuters) – An unemployed man has been charged with wining and dining at a series of London’s top restaurants, running up massive bills and then disappearing without paying, police said on Wednesday.
Latvian Janis Nords, 27, is accused of carrying out the scam on three occasions between October 14 and November 15.

via Man charged with eat and run at top restaurants – Yahoo! News.