Homiletical offerings over the course of the summer, and a thoughtful goodbye from the parish

Sermons the summer long

So I wanted to collect all of this material into a single blog post, for people who are interested in the preaching I did over the course of my summer here at St. Mary’s Parish.  So please, enjoy photos of Mike-whilst-preaching, shots of the two congregations (here at the top, the chapel in Ridge MD, and further down of Trinity Church itself in Saint Mary’s City), and the details of each sermon (as well as links to recorded audio for most of them!):

FInal service with the good people of the St. Mary's Chapel

FInal service with the good people of the St. Mary’s Chapel

First sermon – The Umbrella Sermon – (no audio to this one, the sound system was down that week 😦 )

This sermon got me settled into the parish here, and gave me sort of a reputation… because I brought and deployed my sizeable umbrella from the pulpit!  The readings I focused on were from 1 Peter and the Gospel of John, and I wanted to impress upon my listeners that putting up too many shields in our lives will end up cutting us off from the people around us.

Text of the sermon is here:Sermon 6-1-2014

My initial sermon at the summer's start, with the umbrella and all

My initial sermon at the summer’s start, with the umbrella and all

Second sermon – the Mount Moriahs of our lives – link to audio here

The texts for this sermon were straight from the lectionary, including from Genesis, Romans, and Matthew. In this sermon, as I speak to within the text, I was struck for the first time ever in reading the story of the binding of Isaac that the two men who traveled to the mount with Abraham and Isaac… are just left there.  I spend the sermon considering how often we in our lives have been left at the base of a Moriah as our friends and family try and trudge forward alone.

Text of the sermon is here: sermon 6-28-2014

The Reverend John Ball, myself, and my housemate Nathan

The Reverend John Ball, myself, and my housemate Nathan

Third sermon – Sin, grace, and baptism… and Church Point! – link to audio here

I got to pick the texts for this week, going with excerpts from Jeremiah, 1 Corinthians, and Matthew.  I also brought a Lutheran hymn I enjoy, My Hope is Built on Nothing Less (maybe not quite performed like this, but close), into the service.  The sermon was aimed at the incredible reality of grace – not as some sort of guarantee of things going our way, but at cultivating thankfulness for the things which DIDN’T go wrong today (for instance, I didn’t wake up with an advanced case of tuberculosis… again, and for that I am thankful… again).

Text of the sermon is here: Sermon 7-20-2014

Roman cassock as a Lutheran... made palatable by being in an Episcopal setting, I guess...

Roman cassock as a Lutheran… made palatable by being in an Episcopal setting, I guess…

Final sermon – Dreaming in a grounded way – link to audio here

For my last sermon here, I went with the lectionary texts from Genesis, Romans, and Matthew… and of all the random places, my inspiration for the direction I took this week came from a science fiction horror story I just started earlier this week, called The Void.  The book focuses on the dangers of sleeping and dreaming while traveling between stars thus far… and because of this motif, I was focused on the titling of Joseph as “this dreamer” in the Old Testament reading.  From such humble (odd?) beginnings, I wove together the readings into a plea for carefully dreaming in a grounded way, allowing neither the audacity of individual vision or the weight of community wisdom to overpower the other and see us led astray. as we seek to live out our callings on this Earth.

Text of the sermon is here: sermon 8-10-2014

A great turnout for my final service at Trinity Church

A great turnout for my final service at Trinity Church

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A lovely send-off by the good people of the parish

On my final Sunday here, which is also the last day of my internship, I was blessed with the typical good and merry company of the parishioners in both congregations… but they were also very thoughtful in throwing a small reception to thank me and send me on my way!

It is always fascinating to me, whether I become a Mike or a Michael in a place - and I was VERY much a Mike here in Saint Mary's County

It is always fascinating to me, whether I become a Mike or a Michael in a place – and I was VERY much a Mike here in Saint Mary’s County

After preaching and sweating in the cassock… I went out into the humid southern Maryland air to sweat in my cassock some more, and to spend time with the people who have been the central focus of my summer and internship!  The typical coffee hour deliciousness (for, as many of the other posts for this blog during my time here will attest, this parish takes food DEADLY seriously) was supplemented with a nice little cake as seen above.

Linda Ball, the priest's wife, doing the St. Mary's Parish thing to do - making sure any event involving food, even just post-service coffee hour, is *spectacular*

Linda Ball, the priest’s wife, doing the St. Mary’s Parish thing to do – making sure any event involving food, even just post-service coffee hour, is *spectacular*

The church was already so deeply generous to me, in helping cover my portion of the rent at their new house of ministry and prayer, and in the warmth and richness of friendships made… so I was surprised and delighted that they sent me off with a few other thoughtful odds and ends too!!  From a book about growing crops the winter long in the northern US with unheated greenhouses (as I am likely going to be home for a set of months in Cleveland and want to garden even in the snow!!); to a book about spiritual formation over the course of a year in community with others; a framed local artist’s rendition of the Trinity Church building as seen from the St. Mary’s River; a woven cross necklace from Eithiopia (matching those worn by the rector and vergers alike); several thoughtful cards; a bag of the most stupidly delicious coconut macaroons ever; and then a series of 6 glass baubles:

The lovely and thoughtful gifts I got from the people of the parish today

The lovely and thoughtful gifts I got from the people of the parish today

As Father John took the time to carefully explain for the church and I alike during the service, he chosen each of these carefully based on the strengths and needs he observed in me over the course of the summer, and wanted me to try and carry one or more with me whenever I could do so.  The fact is, if I look at the one labeled “Serenity” and do a combination of rolling my eyes AND seeking some sort of busy make-work… perhaps John was right with that and the other 5 diagnoses of my character, those both good and to-be-improved!

The stones Father John gave me, to carry in my pockets for as long as I can.  Weights worth bearing, he intoned before the congregation.

The stones Father John gave me, to carry in my pockets for as long as I can. Weights worth bearing, he intoned before the congregation.

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Internship, and thus seminary education: finished

So then, since I am not sure if or when next I will wear a cassock or alb or the like, a final photo of me in an Anglican liturgical get-up:

Liturgical mugshot here at This Old Church.

Liturgical mugshot here at This Old Church.

Next steps for me are not yet set in stone, but I am pursuing jobs from Baltimore Maryland all the way back to Cleveland Ohio.  Once settled, I shall do a final post to point to the coming blog which will chronicle my next location and the  journeys ahead of me thereat – so those loyal readers can continue to follow this continuing peculiar jaunt of mine around this peculiar world.

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The launch of our potato-harvesting picnic… or Spud-nik. Also onions.

Onions first.

We always leave borderline cryptic messages on our front door to visitors.

We always leave borderline cryptic messages on our front door to visitors.

Late last week, we were lucky enough to have a contingent of volunteers come out from Powerhouse Apostolic Ministry in Lexington Park MD.  They brought a good 12 or 15 people out in a full sized van, including a bunch of kids, and they all had an absolute *blast* with us, pulling onions and learning about agriculture!

We had fairly unseasonably cool weather (low 80’s in late July down here almost being “cold” according to some locals), and that was a blessing – as was the rain a few days prior, making the soil very easy to harvest from.

Digging, raking, pulling, and sweating - the basic ingredients to harvest onions

Digging, raking, pulling, and sweating – the basic ingredients to harvest onions

The onions were well into being ready to be harvested – that is to say, in some cases their stalks above the ground had withered and rotted, which made them difficult to find!  But find them we did, and in droves – and so I was transferred over towards the house and shed, into the blessed shade, to set up my work station:

I was in charge of sorting onions (we had some rotten ones), and then tying bundles...

I was in charge of sorting onions (we had some rotten ones), and then tying bundles…

The twine we bought to do the tomato towers came in handy again, in order to tie together bundles of onions by their stems and stalks.  Once tied (approximately 3-4 per side of the twine), I used my tall stature to flip one side over the rafters of the shed, and then carefully made sure to stagger them – one bundle higher than the other, to attain maximum drying for the onions:

... until the rafters of our shed were covered in asymmetrical onion hangings, to dry them out

… until the rafters of our shed were covered in asymmetrical onion hangings, to dry them out

As the onions were planted with the food pantry at Saint Cecilia’s in mind, we want to dry them in order to make them last as long as possible in storage for them!

Taking a brief break before going to get and hang even more onions!

Taking a brief break before going to get and hang even more onions.  Notice how the rear rafters are full, as well!

Potatoes second.

This week, then, it was also time to harvest the potatoes… all 14 rows of 40 foot apiece.  Oy.  We set up the tools necessary, and did our best to plan the labor, and then waited for the volunteers to arrive:

The garden, prepped for our volunteers

The garden, prepped for our volunteers

Thankfully, a combination of our natural charisma and/or the pun-tacular title for our potato harvesting picnic, Spud-nik, got a good 20 people out into the field with us, to help us do the work involved to remove withering plants and finding… PO-TA-TOES:

Best case scenario: pulling the wilting potato plant brings up all the potatoes with it.  This almost never happened!

Best case scenario: pulling the wilting potato plant brings up all the potatoes with it. This almost never happened!

We went row by row, and settled into our various tasks – some people would pull the plants, others the weeds, others would pitchfork the soil so the remainder of volunteers could dig through the soil for the potato’y prizes therein.

The potatoes, weeds, and mulch alike was pulled up behind us - in the event that Nathan decides to plant something else for a fall harvest

The potatoes, weeds, and mulch alike was pulled up behind us – in the event that Nathan decides to plant something else for a fall harvest

We also had a station for the washing of the potatoes:

Live on property owned by Historic Saint Mary's City... use archaeological sifters as potato washing station

Live on property owned by Historic Saint Mary’s City… use archaeological sifters as potato washing station

My basic task was to scurry back and forth, a tall teamster, to get weeds from the people in the rows and then go create some new compost piles.  Many, many, many new compost piles:

The weeds pulled created a LOT of new compost piles (apparently, 3 x 3 foot piles are most efficient)

The weeds pulled created a LOT of new compost piles (apparently, 3 x 3 foot piles are most efficient)

The picnic side of the event was quite delicious and delightful – and everyone, just like the onion harvest, professed to have had an excellent time learning about the pursuit of gardening and sweating-disguised-as-fellowship:

the picnic portion of Spud-nik, in full (and delicious) swing

the picnic portion of Spud-nik, in full (and delicious) swing

After cleaning up in the dark (my camping gear and lanterns were QUITE helpful for this), tracking and retrieving children all over the yard to be taken home by their various parents and group leaders, and so forth… it was time to rest go wash the potatoes a second time, and lay them out for drying.  Nathan and I headed up to the parish hall kitchen and went from this:

We got something like 17 gallons of potatoes from half the field's harvest, and they needed washing...

We got something like 17 gallons of potatoes from half the field’s harvest, and they needed washing…

… to this orderly potato-drying assembly line.

... Nathan and I therefore washed potatoes until 10pm or so, so they could dry and be delivered to the food pantry the next day

… Nathan and I therefore washed potatoes until 10pm or so, so they could dry and be delivered to the food pantry the next day

I said “the launch” of Spudnik… because we still have half the damned field to harvest!  If nothing else, this summer has been a series of sweaty object lessons in “sentimentality about organic food or growing food at scale is VERY misguided.”

Delving into the history of Saint Mary City, established in 1634

So after a solid three weeks of working and working and not taking a break, I have taken a few days off and dedicated a good part of today to finally getting to go see and learn about historic Saint Marys’ City, which was the fourth permanent English colony in the New World after being established in 1634.  In the below aerial photograph, my house is visible on the right side of the rightmost dotted red line, at the corner of the two roads, just to give you a sense of our immediacy to the historic city limits:

A map of the probable historic city atop the current layout of the area

A map of the probable historic city atop the current layout of the area

We started first in the visitor’s center, a handsome little blue barn within which was a small exhibit that stepped us through the major historical moments of the city in its initial form (arrival in 1634 until the functional abandonment of the city in the 1690s, when the capital of Maryland was moved to Annapolis for religious and political reasons after the English civil war had ended).  The area was empty of most human habitation until 1774 when two brothers purchased nearly all of the original property, and at that point began to build it up again.  But that is another story – this day was about the initial city; and so we embarked out into the oppressive heat and humidity, to do the walking tour of our neighbors, the historic city.

Woodland Indian Hamlet

The first stop on our walking tour after the visitor’s center was the Woodland Indian Hamlet – a small set of authentically constructed huts in the style of the Yaocomico tribe which was native to this area when the settlers arrived.  Unlike so many of the other tales of initial contact between Europeans and natives, this situation was HIGHLY beneficial to both sides.  The Yaocomico were already planning on departing because of raids from a more aggressive neighboring tribe… and so when the settlers arrived, the tribe saw both a new buffer against the marauders AND they were able to “sell” the houses and fields they were planning on abandoning.  So the tribe came out at a significant, genuine profit – and the settlers arrived with all the wrong crops for the area and its weather, as well as a limited supply of building materials – and instead were able to begin the colony with houses and fields in place from the beginning!

reproduction of a Yaocomico hut and vegetable garden

reproduction of a Yaocomico hut and vegetable garden

We were shown inside the huts (I am not sure of the spelling, but in the Algonquin tongue I believe these are called “wichuts” which means “we live here”), and it was remarkable how the walls made of dried reeds which overlapped were allowed almost all of the breeze into the house – while the thicker roof bundles of reeds kept sun and rain alike out of the area.

The guide also explained to us how homes for the Yaocomico tribe in the region were solely for sleeping and the storage of gear – and that they kept a fire burning year round inside each, both for warmth in the winter and for using smoke as bug repellant in the summer… but this also had the side effect of smoking all food stored and thus prolonging its shelf life!  Everything else, the natives did outside.

Modern day construction of the huts includes steel rebar, to make jigs to bend the posts more easily

Modern day construction of the huts includes steel rebar, to make jigs to bend the posts more easily.  The vertical ropes are used to tightly bunch the reeds into the mats used atop the roof (making them surprisingly waterproof, it turns out)

It was interesting to hear that geologically, the stones and metals available to the Yaocomico were all far too soft to make useful tools out of in most cases – copper was apparently easily obtained, but is malleable enough to be a decorative item.  As such, we were shown how this tribe hedged its bets on the use of fire; as seen below, refining its use to the point of burning down a tree, and part of its insides, with careful placement of fire, in order to construction a viable canoe.  Oyster shells were plentiful as the tribe loved to eat them, and became a great scraping tool to ensure the fire burned evenly:

REAL canoes are made by burning down the tree, burning out the interior, and using oyster shells to scrape them into shape (all because neither stone nor metals in this area of Maryland were sufficient for tool making)

REAL canoes are made by burning down the tree, burning out the interior, and using oyster shells to scrape them into shape (all because neither stone nor metals in this area of Maryland were sufficient for tool making)

The first Catholic building in the New World

Stepping back onto the trail (and thusly into the hated direct sunlight anew, oy vey), we came out into the so-called Chapel Field – probably so-called because it is the field around the reconstructed chapel!  This building was done in the early 1990s, but is done in the style and indeed atop the original foundations of the first church here – a wooden structure which is said to have burned down in 1645 or thereabouts.  Jesuits not being particularly interested in quitting, they built the initial brick structure atop the same foundation in 1667… and it was a viable church until the mid-1690s, when the famed Maryland Religious Toleration Act was repealed and Catholics were again persecuted.

The first Catholic building in the New World, rebuilt in the 1990s atop the foundations of the original building

The first Catholic building in the New World, rebuilt in the 1990s atop the foundations of the original building

The building aims to be, as are the other reconstructions on the Historic holdings, as close as possible to the original, genuine article.  This means, for instance, that they have held off on doing the internal furnishings until they can afford to do 17th century style reproduction pews and pulpit:

The spartan interior of the chapel, with an average Nathan for scale purposes

The spartan interior of the chapel, with an average Nathan for scale purposes

A bit macabre perhaps, but in the process of excavating the original foundations in order to lay the new ones, there were three lead coffins discovered.  A long story short, Project Lead Coffins (they were blunt if not creative, I suppose) was the process of excavating them, learning as much as they could (and their conclusion is that they found the burial place of Philip Calvert, the fifth governor of Maryland.  After careful study, the coffins were reinterred and are back in their original resting places before the new building went up above them:

The titular 3 caskets found in "Project Lead Coffins" beneath the original chapel's foundation

The titular 3 caskets found in “Project Lead Coffins” beneath the original chapel’s foundation

One of the few decorations present shows the exhumation of the coffins above where it occured, prior to the building of the new chapel building

One of the few decorations present shows the exhumation of the coffins above where it occured, prior to the building of the new chapel building

Outside of the chapel proper is a small pavillon which houses a variety of informative boards, only one of which I as a Lutheran was obligated to reproduce here, in order to remind you that the ~Catholic Menace~ must be fought tooth and nail:

the Lutheran in me began to bark like a dog at this Jesuit counter-Reformation propaganda, to be honest

the Lutheran in me began to bark like a dog at this Jesuit counter-Reformation propaganda, to be honest

Mackall Barn

Just down the path was the historically anomalous building on the property – the Mackall Barn.  Constructed in 1785, it is the oldest original structure still standing in the area – and it is an excellent example of Chesapeake area construction cleverness (he alliterated, quite alliteratingly).  The internal timbers and rafters are almost all original… which, given the hurricanes in the area and the generally humid weather, is a surprising fact, and speaks highly of best practices in building in the first decade of the American republic!

the Mackall Barn from across the field

the Mackall Barn from across the field

It is fascinating to note that there was one other standing building within the original Saint Mary City limits was a plantation built in 1840… which later became an inn.  I am told that the Inn at Brome Howard, as it came to be known, was actually lifted onto a huge wheeled platform and was moved a few miles away (interestingly, onto the ruined foundation of the second governor of Maryland’s home) because the Inn was standing atop the ruins of the original 17th century state house!  It is tough to keep all the layers in order, I can assure you.

As a general point, I struggle to read most signage without a supremely sardonic tone.  But this is just gold: WHY IS THIS BARN HERE, indeed

As a general point, I struggle to read most signage without a supremely sardonic tone. But this is just gold: WHY IS THIS BARN HERE, indeed

The Maryland Dove

Mentioned in a few of my prior posts, and always seen from across the water atop the Church Point peninsula, is the Maryland Dove replica.  A working sailing ship which is built to the specifications of one of the two ships which originally landed in Maryland back in the day.  There was a huge group of kids doing their tour when we stopped there, so we didn’t go aboard – but the chance to get a decent photo finally was enough for me!

the Maryland Dove and some sort of small sibling ship

the Maryland Dove and some sort of small sibling ship

Calvert House and the town center

Around the town (which was laid out as two right triangles intersecting in the middle of town) sit a variety of those frame-only wooden “structures” showing where original buildings stood… but in the case of a very few buildings, some remains are still standing.  The Calvert family house, for instance, has a few brick chimney or fireplaces still visible.

Some of our neighbors - the frame-only "houses" showing where the original structures in the 1630s to 1690s stood

Some of our neighbors – the frame-only “houses” showing where the original structures in the 1630s to 1690s stood

The Calvert House in particular is a hot spot at the moment for archaeology, because Maryland is planning to do a historically accurate reconstruction of it, where it sat, beginning next year.  Thus, on our walking tour we saw all sorts of archaeological gear in place and awaiting eager hands:

The actual Calvert House site is under frantic archaeological excavation, before they begin construction on the reproduction of it, atop its original site

The actual Calvert House site is under frantic archaeological excavation, before they begin construction on the reproduction of it, atop its original site.  The trays atop the sawhorses are used to sift dirt off of artifacts… I know this because Historic stores the rest of them in the shed behind my house… and they have been used by the college’s gardeners to dry garlic and onions!

It is also interesting to note that the first printing press in the southern colonies was in Saint Mary City, and a reproduction of it and the house it sat in is still there today (including some of the lead typeset they found in the ground):

A reproduction of the printing press which helped the city in its original purpose as the capital of Maryland

A reproduction of the printing press which helped the city in its original purpose as the capital of Maryland

Our loop back towards the visitor’s center gave us a good view of house positioning versus the Mackall Barn and then the chapel in the far background – all told, Saint Mary City was only slightly smaller than its tiny size today, when it was originally settled:

View of the Mackall Barn and the chapel, from within the presumed town center

View of the Mackall Barn and the chapel, from within the presumed town center

 

Reconstructed State House

The original 1676 statehouse was torn down in the mid 1800s, because it was an unsafe building… and its bricks were the basis for the Trinity Church building in which my internship is now situated!  But Maryland for the tercentenniel in 1934, did a reconstruction of the original statehouse.  In this case, it sits in a slightly different spot, for one major reason – many many decades ago, the vestry (lay leadership) of the church decided to let the cemetery extend over onto the original building’s location… and there is no chance of overlaying those graves with a reconstruction.

the reproduction of the original State House (the bricks from the original were used to build Trinity Church, my internship site, in 1876)

the reproduction of the original State House (the bricks from the original were used to build Trinity Church, my internship site, in 1876)

If memory serves, this was almost the exact location where Old Bay was decreed to be the divine force which watches over and protects Maryland and Marylanders (and also seals the doom of those sea spider bastards erroneously called “crabs”):

The rather impressive governor's desk in the State House. I hope to have an office like this some day soon.

The rather impressive governor’s desk in the State House. I hope to have an office like this some day soon.

Godiah Spray tobacco plantation

The last stop of the day was a bit further off from the rest – and the only portion of the entire grounds which has reenactors who stay in character the whole time.  Thus we had Godiah Spray himself show us around his abode and bemoan the fluctuating costs of his cash crop, tobacco.

The frontmost tobacco drying barn on the Spray property

The frontmost tobacco drying barn on the Spray property

By this point, the day had become oppressively hot, so we were just glad to be in the shade… but it was interesting to actually see a functioning tobacco farm (even at small scale, meant to be a demonstration)!

I have learned about tobacco as a cash crop since 2nd grade I think... but this is the first time I have seen it growing in person

I have learned about tobacco as a cash crop since 2nd grade I think… but this is the first time I have seen it growing in person

We also considered, since we live in a historic Maryland house, that perhaps we ought to revert back to Maryland’s original “rich person bedding” as Mr. Spray bragged to us.

I think we’ll pass:

the beds in the Godiah Spray house were the definition of decadent luxuriousness, I should think

the beds in the Godiah Spray house were the definition of decadent luxuriousness, I should think.  They had both the “directly on wooden floor” and also the rarer “bundle of pointy sticks” versions of bedding.

________

A great and busy day, but I am glad to have finally seen the historic Saint Mary City site in person!!

“Would you like Old Bay on your Old Bay, sir?” – the Annual Summer Dinner insanity

Trinity Church as night falls

Trinity Church as night falls

Setting the stage (and moreso, the tables) – a full week of prep for a 5 hour event

After the two weeks of heavy duty work and toil to make the joint grant application a reality, I turned around and spent Saturday applying for jobs, Sunday at church and then in the garden… so that come Monday I could dive into 5 days of preparation work for the annual summer dinner here at the parish.

The summer dinner, which is offered both as sit-in dining and as carry-out, is a peculiar creature.  For $24, eating in gets you unlimited food (including handmade fresh crab cakes which have NO filler whatsoever).  A carry-out meal costs the same, and gets you: 3 crab cakes, half a chicken (fried with SERIOUSLY Old Bay spicing), 5 oz of sliced ham, butter and parsley potatoes, green beans, beets, cole slaw, and a roll.  That is a CRAZY amount of food, and given how much this parish loves cooking, you can rightly expect: the quality of the food was top notch.

One of many event signs, bringing in those who desire a STUPID amount of crab

One of many event signs, bringing in those who desire a STUPID amount of crab

We spent time each weekday leading up to Friday, doing prep work from washing dishes and pots and pans and all manner of cookware; to unpacking $3100 worth of crab meat and making crab cakes; to cleaning the parish hall and preparing the tables for the initial eat-in guests:

the parish hall sits... waiting...

the parish hall sits… waiting…

Definitely a busy week… and even busier for me, because I stayed at the parish hall to write a sermon to preach on Sunday each night after the day’s prep was done!

The scale of this event

So obviously, with the sheer amount of prep work done, it ought to be clear: we had a LARGE dinner ahead of us.  But how large?

gallons and gallons of beets, in front of hundreds of pounds of potatoes, in the walk-in freezer

gallons and gallons of beets, in front of hundreds of pounds of potatoes, in the walk-in freezer

As an incomplete list:
-more than 50 gallons of beets
-around 350 lbs of potatos
-160 lbs of cabbage for sauerkraut
-$3100 worth of crab meat (which took up the entirety of a large pickup truck bed, to transport)
-15 gallons of Old Bay infused cocktail sauce (made by yours truly)
-2100 cuts of chicken, which we actually ran out of by 3:30pm (all of which were breaded by me!)

The fact of the matter is: the church has to rent a 40 foot long trailer each year for the day of the event, to do all the frying necessary and also to prepare half of the potatoes – as the ovens and fryers in the parish hall are not anywhere close to sufficient for the scale of meals cooked!

The commercial grade kitchen in the parish hall is ONLY sufficient for cooking for the inside seating - we rent a 40 odd foot trailer to cook outside as well

The commercial grade kitchen in the parish hall is ONLY sufficient for cooking for the inside seating – we rent a 40 odd foot trailer to cook outside as well

Another interesting detail – here in Saint Mary’s County, if you get a speeding ticket, you can indicate on the spot that you’d prefer to do community service rather than pay a fine.  One of the approved community service sites for the hours needed is Trinity’s annual summer dinner… and so we had a good 20 or so “volunteers” with us.  We also had a handful of ticketed volunteers from previous years who had such a good time working the event (and eating for free at the end) that they came back, which is a neat way that the community has come together over this huge undertaking.

one of many series of crab cake trays, awaiting frying - as the $3100 of crab meat we purchased goes a LONG way in crab cake form

one of many series of crab cake trays, awaiting frying – as the $3100 of crab meat we purchased goes a LONG way in crab cake form

So then, you have some sense of JUST how seriously this parish takes food.

Success?

So, writing this several days after the event proper, what can I say about the success of the event?  We need to sell something like 300 tickets to make the costs back – and this year, the summer dinner sold just shy of 700 tickets (which in reality is more like 1300 person’s worth of food, given the unlimited portions inside and the huge portions for carry-out!).  A whole bunch of work, but another great opportunity to dive in and get to know the members of the parish better, and meet new folks who I haven’t spent a lot of time with in the past!

mixing Old Bay infused cocktail sauce.  Everything which is TRULY Maryland has Old Bay, in droves

mixing Old Bay infused cocktail sauce. Everything which is TRULY Maryland has Old Bay, in droves

Effecting joint grant applications to save the Church Point peninsula

Church Point July 2014 as it stands

Church Point July 2014 as it stands

The photo above really tells it all, in just a moment – Google Earth showing you the peninsula as it currently exists, with both the existing revetment in place and how it has failed to fully contain the wave force coming up from the south of the Saint Mary’s River… and also how much sand still exists under the water as it has been worn down.  That underwater sand also helps highlight JUST how much of the beach has washed away – the tip of the point was some 40 foot out from the current remaining shoreline.  There were nearly triple the trees as are remaining, all of which died and rotted once their shoreline washed away.  What was a natural combination shoreline and marshland (the tidal pool is a natural feature, it turns out) has worn away quicker and quicker.

This is separate from the wide variety of nearby things the Point protects.

But I get ahead of myself.

Church Point as distinct problem

Church Point as seen from the air

Church Point as seen from the air

As an initial point worth mentioning – the peninsula which is now called Church Point was 1) MUCH larger and 2) present and important to the initial landings of colonists in Maryland, and indeed the Native American tribe in the area had a village here… the remains of which long ago went underwater with advancing erosion.

So from MY  Day 1 here some 375 years later, Day 1 being my visit to the site in April to see if this was the right summer internship for me, I was informed of and shown the reality down on the Point.  It is the peninsula off of the corner of the church’s property – and because of the proximity of Saint Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM) and Historic Saint Mary’s City Commission (HSMC), the peninsula is basically the ONLY waterfront portion of the church’s land.  In the photo above, the waterfront to the left towards the boatson the water and the marina is owned by SMCM; the waterfront to the right up to and far beyond the single pier (which houses the working replica of the Maryland Dove, one of two ships to initially reach and bear settlers for Maryland) is owned by HSMC.  Already complicated, but even the church’s portion, the peninsula alone, is complex to get to know.

As you will see below, the cross monument which was placed on the point in 1969 has had to be dragged out of the water inwards to the new shoreline, two times – natural erosion is one very real problem, but the severity of several of the storms in the past 15 or so years has seen the natural sandy peninsula be worn down into a shadow of itself.  Some 12 years ago, the state of Maryland and the church, with several other funding partners, installed the existing revetment and rip rap (basically, contoured stone sill and heavy stone walls to break the wave force coming from the south) and then replaced the lost sand with clean fill.

Then with storms like Irene and Sandy, and also the required ecological design elements of openings to the sill – for the purpose of creating and encouraging wildlife habitats, by creating coves in which crabs and fish alike could escape predators and grow their populations accordingly… was an ecologically wise choice, which also condemned the Point to SEVERE channeled erosion.  The marsh grasses (whose root systems maintain sandy banks in most cases) and rip rap walls weren’t enough – the water entered the middle of the southern sill opening, and essentially powerwashed sandy beach out of the sill opening at the tip of the Point.  Over a few years, some 40 foot of sandy beach was expelled with the wave force.

The state awarded us a certain grant for a portion of redoing the revetment without the openings and to recreate the beach as it existed with clean fill sand… but it was slightly less than half the cost of the project.  Thus, one of my tasks for this internship has been to be involved with fundraising and grant application preparation… because this project has a time limit.  The Point is washing away daily, and when the winds pick up – it washes away even more quickly.

pulling the cross in further, when erosion worsened

pulling the cross in further, when erosion worsened

But… the waterfront is a unified reality

So recall above, both photo and textual explanation of how the Point as peninsula extends out from waterfront on either side owned by two other organizations, Historic and the college.   There is a long and complex history of interactions between the church and its neighbors, and I still know that I am unaware of many of the particulars and complexities – but in a short time I have learned that three different organizations with three different missions and mandates, located atop one another (the church bifurcates the college’s holdings, for instance)… will lead to friction and difficulties over time.  And so even with this knowledge, I knew that I was going to have to try and work to make the effort to save the Point into a joint process.

Besides the fact that the properties are contiquous shoreline, the shared need for the Point is a safety concern, particularly for the church and the college.  The VERY steep bluffs, which experienced a partial collapse in 1992 or so, would be 100% unshielded from the wave force coming from the south, if the Point was gone.  This would put the historic church, its cemetery, and several of the college’s halls and offices at direct risk of destruction, if further and larger scale embankment collapse occurred.  Historic is at less risk of property damage, but their Dove replica and its pier are generally shielded by the presence of the Point, and also has had a close working relationship with the church for many years.

The shrinking existing marshland, with a view of Dove in background

The shrinking existing marshland, with a view of the Dove and its pier in background on the left

The strength of passion around the Point I have heard and seen from church members, college folks (especially students, for this is their premier socializing spot), and generally people from the County in general… has been noteworthy.  Unfortunately, not everyone’s generosity has matched their interest.

The sun is setting on the Point... but not fully, if our grant applications are successful

The sun is setting on the Point… but not fully, if our grant applications are successful

Grants and fundraising to save the Point

So, then, what can I do?

I put together and did as much fundraising as I could do, and make more than $1500 from doing it… but this is not going to cut it.

So, this past week saw my coordinating and helping lead the process to get a joint agreement between church, college, and Historic.  I cannot currently speak to the specifics of which grants we have applied for as a group, but suffice to say I am hopeful that a few of them (one in particular) seem poised to be successful.

In the future, if and when we found out this was successful, I will come back and edit this post to reflect that.

In the interim, though, if you have some extra money and a love of Maryland’s waterfront wellbeing, you are more than welcome to send a tax-deductible donation via the church’s website!

The Two (bamboo) Towers; a quarter acre of sweet potatoes

Over the past 10 days or so, we have really worked hard on many areas of the garden – but the peas and tomatoes were in particular need of our help.  The peas are a sort of vine, which naturally 1) grows its stem in a corkscrew type of spiral, to try and grow around taller sturdier plants; and 2) has little offshoot stems which grow circular and grippy tips to REALLY ensure it can grip onto something.  They needed a tower upon which to grow.

Similarly, the tomatoes want to grow tall – and the wind wants to knock the, well, wind out of the tomatoes by causing them to sway enough to snap their stems.

Thusly, we purchased $9.75 worth of twine and got permission to go harvest wild bamboo from the grove on the college property, and so we could keep costs down while building some 85 foot total of structures.

Harvesting

First steps, then, was to head over to the bamboo grove.

Harvesting 25+ foot tall bamboo with Nathan

Harvesting 25+ foot tall bamboo with Nathan

The last time I had harvested bamboo was, well never – so, we got a hacksaw from a church friend and some clippers, and had at it.  Bamboo is very wobbly the longer it gets, so that made for an interesting time of actually felling them – easier to drag them out of their still-standing compatriots because they could bend, but harder to yank them out to the clearing because their remaining foliage on top would bend and get caught!

the trusty MFALCON, doing its usual "OK I guess I can haul THAT, too"

the trusty MFALCON, doing its usual “OK I guess I can haul THAT, too”

For our initial run, we probably harvested 15 or so stalks – and then a week later, when we needed more, we grabbed 17 so as to have some extra.

Besides a lot of sweating (a good thing) and putting a big old scratch on the paint of my car (a very infuriating thing), this was a painless and rather fun procedure.

Building

Armed with enough bamboo to take over most feudal Japanese dynasties, we began the process of building the pea tower.  I am an Eagle Scout from many moons ago, and so it has been many moons since I have had to do any sort of lashing, much less tie a clove hitch.  Interesting, actually, to note how quickly muscle memory reasserted itself – I was tying solid lashings in no time flat, even teaching Nathan!

The first of our two bamboo towers had humble beginnings

The first of our two bamboo towers had humble beginnings

The purpose of the pea tower is to have evenly spaced strings (maybe 1 foot apart or so) dangle down towards the pea stalks, so they can grow upwards onto a stable structure.  I wanted to encourage the process faster, and so (very very) very carefully entangled the tails of the twine into the existing spiral growth of each pea plant.  Thus far, more than a week after having done this, it has made a sizeable difference – the peas have all grown considerably, because they can finally grow upwards!

As a reminder: the sunsets are stupidly gorgeous here, each and every night.  Also, pea structure done.

As a reminder: the sunsets are stupidly gorgeous here, each and every night. Also, pea structure done.

The tomato tower, however, needs to be a great deal sturdier than the pea tower – because instead of buying a slew of individual metal cages which fall down anyways, we wanted one long contiguous structure for the tomatoes to sway against in high winds, rather than snapping their stalks.

Building the first of several "ladders" as the end pieces for the tomato tower

Building the first of several “ladders” as the end pieces for the tomato tower

Thusly, I came up with a design in my mind, to basically fabricate simple bamboo ladders, the posts of which are sized to the general width of the tomato row.  Then, between these 7 foot ladders, we would lash full bamboo stalks (around 20 foot each) with intermediate posts to prevent bowing.  The 7 foot height of the uprights is intentional, as to allow us to lash them to the secure pea tower and make both towers more stable (take THAT, Frodo).

... we caught on fairly quickly that the shade is our only ally

… we caught on fairly quickly that the shade is our only ally

We finished most of the tomato structure on days of around 91 degrees prior to humidity – it was killer hot.  That said, it is quite satisfying that with $9.75 of twine and a whole slew of free bamboo, I designed and we built freestanding towers which will ensure our 40 foot row of peas and our 40 foot row of tomatoes shall live long, and prosper.

Notice both the amazingly goofy sun-defeating hats, and the VERY cleaning lashing on the joints

Notice both the amazingly goofy sun-defeating hats, and the VERY cleaning lashing on the joints

The vast majority of the tomato tower in place, with its support beams above to the pea tower (so if one falls, they all fall)

The vast majority of the tomato tower in place, with its support beams above to the pea tower (so if one falls, they all fall)

Bamboo bumper side walls, keeping these tomatoes safe as they grow grow grow

Bamboo bumper side walls, keeping these tomatoes safe as they grow grow grow

Planting

So, we have been lucky enough to have a few sets of volunteers from the church to come by and help us over time, one of the core projects being the weeding and mulching of the final rows of onions:

Churchly volunteers helping us weed and mulch the onions

Churchly volunteers helping us weed and mulch the onions

Besides that, though, we wanted to finally till and then plant in the back corner of the garden – a good quarter acre we had set aside for sweet potatoes.

I am not a sweet potato expert, but it turns out there are many varieties – we decided to split the 150 sweet potato slips we bought amongst 4 variants: O’Henry, Hernandez, Beauregard, and Puerto Rico (and from what I can tell, these translate to slightly different gestation periods, flavors, and resistances/weaknesses to bugs or crop rot).  We traveled to the Amish to buy these 150 slips for a mere $18 – Lowe’s or Home Despot would easily charge $4 for 6 or 8 slips, I am sure:

Does that look like 150 sweet potato slips, of 4 different variants?  Me too.

Does that look like 150 sweet potato slips, of 4 different variants? Me too.

Again with the help of some lovely volunteers, we were able to till, rake, hoe, and plant in the latter part of a single evening!

150 sweet potatoes, planted.

150 sweet potatoes, planted.

Hospitality’ing

Finally, to balance out all the ‘house of gardening’ news above, I ought to speak to our efforts to be a house of hospitality and prayer, as well.  Nathan goes twice daily to lead the daily office (morning and evening prayer from the Episcopal book of common prayer), and I try to make it a fair amount of the time – and we have had some other guests join us for this in the sanctuary of the church, over time.  We also strive to have our house be open and inviting for all types – from Nathan’s visiting family and friends of the church, to people who were at the local soup kitchen and interested in volunteering for a bit (as well as getting fed), we try to have all types over.

Nathan and I, with his mom and grandmother over for dinner

Nathan and I, with his mom and grandmother over for dinner

I would just quickly comment: the toil of most days here makes the relative peace, quiet, and calm of the nights very appreciated.  Even small things like shade, a breeze, a large gulp of water: these all become triumphs to celebrate when one is working very hard on the land, in the sun.  Also, I wish I had more money/less inhibitions, because I would totally buy a telesope with lens adaptor for my camera: the night sky here, while not always as moonlit as the below, is *spectacular*:

The sun set, the moon rose on the garden.  And Mike saw that it was tiring.

The sun set, the moon rose on the garden. And Mike saw that it was tiring.

Initial projects at the house

Church’ing

The schedue being tentatively set, it looks like I will be preaching once per month this summer at Trinity; I very well might even be involved with other area churches, depending on how things go.  Given that I am not interested in pursuing parish ministry as a career, it is a big relief (and one of the things I looked for, when I was researching options for my internship requirement) that liturgical preparation and leadership is not one of the requirements on me for the summer.  I will certainly help, but will leave most of that to my housemate Nathan who does seek ordination into the priesthood of the Episcopal church.

Preaching this past Sunday went well, I should think:

My use of my umbrella as a visual aid was a homerun - folks were highly entertained at how I used it and the jokes, and the point ("don't put up too many overcautious shields in your life") was clear to all

My use of my umbrella as a visual aid was a homerun – folks were highly entertained at how I used it and the jokes, and the point (“don’t put up too many overcautious shields in your life”) was clear to all

Save the potatoes!

Mulching rows and rows of potatoes with hay to protect from weeds

Mulching rows and rows of potatoes with hay to protect from weeds

To be sure, the whole of the gardening portion of my internship is actually going to be my assisting with a project started before me and which will end fully after I depart in August – started by a member of the congregation who is a professional farmer, and tilled and seeded the land for us while Nathan and I were still in New Haven months ago.

The potato bugs strip the potatoes down to their stems, and sometimes eat the stems as well

The potato bugs strip the potatoes down to their stems, and sometimes eat the stems as well

So, armed with a handheld sprayer and a naturally occurring beneficial bacteria which makes the plants inedible to the gnawing insectoid foe, I begin picking bug and larve off the plants by hand and then spraying, to save what foliage we had remaining:

The bastard insectoid foe.  Soon to be banished (we hope)

The bastard insectoid foe. Soon to be banished (we hope)

Next steps for the garden include: planting donated seedlings of all sorts of vegetables; and then planting sweet potatoes in the remaining fifth acre or so of unused land we have.  Also watering. And weeding.  And more!

Spaghetti dinner for the Potomac River 7.5 Mile Swim Fundraiser

The Trinity volunteers in the Trinity (commercial-level) parish hall kitchen

The Trinity volunteers in the Trinity (commercial-level) parish hall kitchen

The first big project for my time here was a fundraiser which has folks raise money on their own to “fund” them as they swim across the 7.5 width of the Potomac River; all the money they got going to support, maintain, and ideally improve the ecological health of the Potomac River.  For some 8 years now, the parish of Trinity Episcopal has happily been the setting and also the cooks for the night before the swim dinner – nothing like overloading on spaghetti-style carbohydrates prior to such a strenuous activity.

Using a metal oar to cut up ground beef and stir what ended up being 7 gallons of spaghetti meat sauce (and I made 5 of the meatless, in the next pot over)

Using a metal oar to cut up ground beef and stir what ended up being 7 gallons of spaghetti meat sauce (and I made 5 of the meatless, in the next pot over)

Nearly 9 hours after my arrival, we finished cleaning up and called it a night – and from the repeated thanks and the thunderous applause when (during their post-meal awards talk) they said “let’s hear it for the Trinity volunteers who cooked our dinner,” I suspect we done good.

Soaking in the setting

Finally, I really ought to speak to how lovely the setting here is, and seems poised to continue to be.  I am not one for the Cancer Star and its warmth; I am from NE Ohio, I love the snow, cold, ice, and rain and I always shall.  So I am greatly thankful for the extraordinarily mild summer thus far – I write this post a few days into June, and it was no more than 73 yesterday all day.  A very comfortable temperature, and while I doubt it will last much longer, I am soaking it in as I can – all the while enjoying the scenery and the water around much of the county (it is easy to forget how narrow a peninsula we are situated upon).

After the crowded, messy, rude, and generally unpleasant setting of New Haven, this is quite the boon to have such a restorative setting for my setting.

Watching sailboat races down the hill from the church, and soaking in wind and sunshine in beautiful Saint Mary County

Watching sailboat races down the hill from the church, and soaking in wind and sunshine in beautiful Saint Mary County

Exciting experiences ahead:

1) Perhaps as soon as the end of this week, Nathan and I will go around and do all the historical experiences in the County, from the lifesize replica of one of the wooden ships which landed in the 1630s on this coast, to the archeological dig of historical Saint Mary City, and more.  This will become its own post, with photos!
2) One of the parish members is a pilot with his own small plane – there is a very good chance we will get a ride up and I shall of course bring my camera and strive to take as many establishing photos as possible of the area!
3) I will be in charge of fundraising for a large project around the restoration of Church Point – a small peninsula off the edge of the church’s property, it is a much-used place for bonfires and general relaxation by the students of Saint Mary College across the street.  Stay tuned, because if you’re wondering how I will pull off organizing the tens of thousands of dollars of fundraising which need doing… so am I!
4) Philip Davydov, a famous Russian Orthodox icon writer, will be teaching a class here for 5 days.  While I have neither the money nor the talent to formally attend the event, I am hoping to be able to sneak in and get photos of the event, but moreso of stages of his work as he goes.

Traveling further south – the wedding of two friends, and visiting several others

Tony in Yorktown VA

Driving south along the back highways of MD (after I-95 and I-91 in Connecticut, 55mph and nearly 0 other cars on the road was some kind of fantastic dream), I made my way into Virginia and the hinterlands therein… and eventually got to my friend Tony’s house.  We had a great time catching up some, enjoyed some of his mom’s delicious cooking, and then relaxed for the evening.  I got to see Despicable Me and Despicable Me 2, which were both highly entertaining films.

Thus started a 6 day pattern of “drive approximately 300 miles, stop and see friend(s), and try to relax prior to the next bout of driving.”

Tony and I in front of the awesome gazebo and stone patio he put in behind his house (I am jealous to a concerning degree, quite frankly)

Tony and I in front of the awesome gazebo and stone patio he put in behind his house (I am jealous to a concerning degree, quite frankly)

Bobby and Meg’s wedding in the outer banks of NC

The Saturday of my long Memorial Day Weekend was peculiar indeed – I drove from Yorktown to Kitty Hawk, NC, whereat I set up my trusty Coleman tent:

Setting up the tent at the Kitty Hawk NC campground...

Setting up the tent at the Kitty Hawk NC campground…

... so I could change into my suit in the tent and QUICKLY drive to the wedding!!

… so I could change into my suit in the tent and QUICKLY drive to the wedding!!

And I emerged from the tent wearing a suit, as I was in NC to see the wedding of my good friends Bobby and Meg.  The bewildered looks I got from other campers, emerging in a suit, were delightful!

The awesome custom wedding bulletins Bobby and Meg had made, comic book style

The awesome custom wedding bulletins Bobby and Meg had made, comic book style

The couple decided to do their wedding in the Corolla area of the Outer Banks in NC – because one of their earliest dates had been there on a family vacation with the bride’s family.  They accordingly reserved the historic chapel in the area down there, and had the preacher of the chapel do the wedding (perhaps at a different level of religiosity than they intended, but it was still a nice service).

First dance at the reception

First dance at the reception.

The reception was at one of the private golf clubs down the road, and the setting was lovely, the food was out-of-this-world delicious… but the weather was uncharacteristically grand: maybe 72 outside, and less than 20% humidity – for the Outer Banks in the summer,  unheard of levels of comfort.  Plus, given it has been a torrential downpour in the area as recently as the night before the wedding, it was an unexpected but greatly appreciate blessing for all involved.

The only proper shot I got of the newlyweds with my nice camera

The only proper shot I got of the newlyweds with my nice camera

How weird it was, to depart the wedding reception and all the fun and catching up with AU alumni therein, for… my tent!  Unfortunately, being Memorial Day weekend, a lot of college kids at the campground made all sorts of drunken and high noise until late into the wee hours.

Not much sleep, but when the sunrise got me up at 5:45am, I decided to pack up in the cool of the morning and depart west for…

Chris in Durham NC

Next stop was to Durham, to visit another good friend from American U, Chris.  He had just finished his MBA at Duke, and so of course a big part of my visit was getting the tour of Hogwarts (as he called it). I do believe the setting matches his titular choice:

Checking out Duke University, or Hogwarts, depending on your point of view

Checking out Duke University, or Hogwarts, depending on your point of view

Duke is a place where sports are VERY important to all involved… but where retaining historical buildings is equally valued.  To the point that the arenas are all FAR too small to seat even a fraction of current students and alumni.  Causing a HUGE “required donation” price to even have the chance to get tickets as an alum; and the requirement for one to functionally camp out the whole semester by the ticket office, to maintain your place in line.

Slightly more sports-motivated than American, I should think.

One of the Duke benches which gets burned in a bonfire upon a noteworthy victory (their bench budget must be gigantor)

One of the Duke benches which gets burned in a bonfire upon a noteworthy victory (their bench budget must be gigantor)

We had us some delicious Carolinian barbecue at The Pit in Raleigh, and I finally got to try the southern food standard – Cookout.  We also played us some board games and screened the Trifecta of Shitty Movies:

1) Riki-Oh – a Cantonese martial arts film with such feats as kicking an attack dog in half, and an evil assistant prison warden with a claw hand and a fake eye… a fake eye in which he stores dinner mints
2) Gymkata – an American classic, and in fact one of the first shitty movies Chris and I watched some 7 years ago together, Gymkata is the gripping tale of a gold medalist gymnast who must learn to combine karate into his sports, to enable him to compete in The Game to the death in Parmistan, for the situating of a US government Star Wars Defense project station.  Gold.
3) The Room – I can’t even describe this… thing, so just read what IMDB has to say.  And know that Chris, a veteran shitty movie enthusiast, just got more and more mad at how truly AWFUL it is.

Amber in Raleigh NC

Not too far down the highway in the Triangle area of North Carolina, my good friend and former New Haven housemate Amber resides to this very day, and we were delighted to have the chance to visit in person!

Crappy phone photo in front of the Elvis/sumo art at Cowfish Burger

Crappy phone photo in front of the Elvis/sumo art at Cowfish Burger

We screened another shitty movie, Sharknado (just awful) – and then to cleanse our pallets, we went and saw the LEGO Movie in the cheap tickets theater and had a grand old time.  At Ambi’s suggestion, dinner was at Cowfish Burger, and boy was it good.  A fusion of burgers and sushi, the place was also (somewhat mysteriously) HEAVILY Elvis Presley themed.  So, we had our photo taken with the above Elvis/sumo, and then the bathrooms had between them the Elvis/Buddha jukebox seen below:

Obligatory Elvis/Buddha statue AND jukebox combo

Obligatory Elvis/Buddha statue AND jukebox combo

Food and films are nice, but Amber and I just had a good time catching up and spending time hanging out for the first time in more than a year since she had departed New Haven to do Americorps in her native NC.

Ambi and I, in front of the NC wilderness that IS her back yard

Ambi and I, in front of the NC wilderness that IS her back yard

Tony (again!) in Yorktown

So, on my way back north, Tony’s lovely family were glad to have me for lunch and a brief rest before finishing my trip north – and splitting the 6.5 hour trip into approximately equal halves was much appreciated!

Tony and I with his mom as she cooks up yet another Lebanese *feast*

Tony and I with his mom as she cooks up yet another Lebanese *feast*

1400 miles driven in a week, specifically the week after graduating and moving – who needs sleep, right? I am definitely thankful for the chance to go and see so many of my good friends and enjoy delicious food… but as I write this, settled back into the Saint Mary’s County area and NOT driving close to 300 miles per day for days in a row… it is damned good to be non-mobile and quite settled for a time.

Moving into Saint Mary’s City

The move down

Car and trailer, loaded and ready

Car and trailer, loaded and ready

Having packed up and prepared my car and the utility trailer I built (see my previous blog for the details), I got the extra night of sleep I needed… and promptly lost the day of completely rain-free weather along I-95 and instead had a forecast of 20% rain in New Haven, up to 80% in Maryland for my drive.

Not ideal, and given this was 1) the longest trip I have yet done towing a trailer and 2) even with a lightly-loaded trailer, the trailer doesn’t have its own brakes, so the load was all on my car’s brakes… I was definitely nervous.

I didn’t do more than 60mph the entire way south, and I stopped every 120 miles or so (a trip of 385 miles total) to check that the rain covers on the gear were staying in place (and it is good I did so, they required adjustment each time due to billowing with the wind) and also the wheel hubs – and thanks to the high end Mobil 1 synthetic grease we used to repack the ball bearings, the wheel hubs were cool to the touch after spinning for 385 miles straight!

Arrival at the house, after dining with the pastor and Nathan en route

Arrival at the house, after dining with the pastor and Nathan en route

After a brief meal en route with the pastor and his family, and my housemate Nathan and his family (who had just finished moving him in), I drove the remainder of the way to the house and started an important precedent: each time I try to move goods and materials in southern Maryland, it WILL rain.

And it poured, soon after we began unloading, but we just left the remainder covered, and were unfazed!

The summer ahead

With my friend and housemate Nathan, who also graduated from Yale Divinity School, we shall be living in a House of Prayer and Gardening – and as the name suggests, we shall focus on the goodness of hospitality in general and also try to teach local folks how easy, cheap, and healthy it is to grow their own food.  Once I have settled in a bit further, here, I shall do a long post on this subject – but suffice to say, the project will be a lot of time spent with real people outside of the academy; a great deal of time will be doing physical activity (perhaps I can again lose 45 lbs like I did doing krav maga back in New Haven, and instead of gaining 35 back, I can keep them off and lose even more!); and whilst admittedly a hot and humid summer is ahead, it is a lovely setting to be working for 10 weeks in, this place.

Nathan and I, getting gradumucated at Yale just prior to moving to MD

Nathan and I, getting gradumucated at Yale just prior to moving to MD

The trailer has come in very handy already - my queen bed, donated by a church member, got to the house towed on it!

The trailer has come in very handy already – my queen bed, donated by a church member, got to the house towed on it!

So then, writing this a week after the move down and not having even had the chance to unpack all my things yet, and indeed I have really had to struggle to play catch-up on blog posts from New Haven and now here!

My temporary desk in the parish hall, as we await an internet connection to be added for the first time to our renovated historical house

My temporary desk in the parish hall, as we await an internet connection to be added for the first time to our renovated historical house

All told, I suspect this summer will be an amazing experience, not least of all because it will finally give me a chance to unwind and rehabilitate to life outside of the academy – for this I am thankful, and I suggest you stay tuned – there ought to be some lovely photos and great stories to come!