Friday, May 23, 2014

One More Fantasy Bites the Dust

Read this post just now on Facebook:

All Hallows – the end of an era!

All HallowsPress release from All Hallows…

It is with huge regret and deep sadness that All Hallows College today announces its intention to wind down the college.
The college, which is not in receipt of state grants, has been operating at an increasing deficit over many years, and although in recent times it has embarked on a stringent programme of sustainability – including increasing its activities and embarking on an extensive fund-raising programme  -  the challenging landscape of today’s third level education arena has led to a diminishing of the college’s reserves to an unsustainable level. In addition, the option of growing enrolment figures has been constrained by the cap on the numbers of undergraduates eligible for the free fees scheme. The wind down of the college will begin immediately and will be conducted in a phased and orderly fashion.
At this difficult time, students and staff are the main priority for the Trustees, the Governors and the management of the college.  At present, there are 450 students on accredited degree courses and in excess of 70 staff.  Every effort will be made to facilitate existing students in the completion of their courses and the college’s administration will be in contact with current applicants.  The college will commence a consultation period with its staff in the coming week.
Today’s decision has been taken mindful of the long history of the college, its proud traditions and its contribution to education in Ireland.   All Hallows college has educated generations of leaders and professionals; serving communities in every corner of the world since 1842, and has been under the stewardship of the Vincentian Congregation since 1892.

 All Hallows website

For the past two years, I have been fantasizing about how to get back to Ireland... and this was one possibility I was entertaining.  A friend of mine, an American Vincentian, has been the president of this college, and I was planning to send him copies of my books and write to him about my coming over there for a semester to teach.

Well, I never got around to writing to him, not that it would have mattered or changed anything.

Sigh.  So sorry for this school, its professors and students, as well as for myself.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Classic TV

There wasn't much of interest on TV, so we watched a DVD of Columbo which I borrowed from the library.  This was Season 6 of Columbo.  After we watched it for a while, I became fascinated with the details of the production.  I went to good old Google and found that this episode was filmed in 1976!  In one scene, the murderer rigs an alibi by recording a ball game that was on TV; he used a very large VCR; later, Columbo asks him about this new fangled machine, and its cost - $3000!  .Besides the fact that everyone was smoking and drinking, and the clothing and hair styles were so indicative of the period, I noticed the staging.  It was more like a stage play than the TV series on in 2014.  I don't know anything about filming and editing or about video cameras, but the long passages of dialogue at the same camera angle, the lack of closeups and very little cuts from shot to shot, were noticeable even to me. I always enjoyed Columbo, but this time around I noticed how unsophisticated the story was... how blatantly the murderer revealed himself to Columbo.

I thought about today's TV series.  I dislike most of them - have never watched them, but the previews and ads turned me off.  So I thought about the two shows I have been watching for a number of years:  Law & Order SVU  and NCIS

Look at the sophistication of the camera work just in these two shots.

  Then, I turned to photos from NCIS:

It's the technology which has advanced so far in almost 40 years since that Columbo episode, but also the expertise of the directors and editors.   Here's a behind the scenes shot of an NCIS scene being filmed on location:

One look at that portable equipment and I really see why the shows look so different.

I still enjoy Columbo, and not just as a period piece.  I miss his humor; most of the time today's police/detective shows and just so dead serious.  No pun intended!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Ten Commandments for the Long Haul

These were written by Daniel Berrigan.  I love them.

"Ten Commandments for the Long Haul"

1) Call on Jesus when all else fails. Call on Him when all else succeeds (except that never happens).

2) Don't be afraid to be afraid or appalled to be appalled. How do you think the trees feel these days, or the whales, or, for that matter, most humans?

3) Keep your soul to yourself. Soul is a possession worth paying for, they're growing rarer. Learn from monks, they have secrets worth knowing.

4) About practically everything in the world, there's nothing you can do. This is Socratic wisdom. However, about of few things you can do something. Do it, with a good heart.

5) On a long drive, there's bound to be a dull stretch or two. Don't go anywhere with someone who expects you to be interesting all the time. And don't be hard on your fellow travelers. Try to smile after a coffee stop.

6) Practically no one has the stomach to love you, if you don't love yourself. They just endure. So do you.

7) About healing: The gospels tell us that this was Jesus' specialty and he was heard to say: "Take up your couch and walk!"

8) When traveling on an airplane, watch the movie, but don't use the earphones. Then you'll be able to see what's going on, but not understand what's happening, and so you'll feel right at home, little different then you do on the ground.

9) Know that sometimes the only writing material you have is your own blood.

10) Start with the impossible. Proceed calmly towards the improbable. No worry, there are at least five exits.

--Daniel Berrigan, SJ

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Woodman, Spare that Tree!

"Woodman! Spare That Tree!" (1837)
A Ballad

The words were taken from a poem published in the New York Mirror,
written by George Pope Morris, 1802-1864,
The music was composed by Henry Russell, 1812-1900.

Woodman spare that tree!
Touch not a single bough;
In youth it sheltered me,
And I'll protect it now;
'Twas my fore father's hand
That placed it near the cot,
There, woodman, let it stand,
Thy axe shall harm it not!

That old familiar tree,
Whose glory and renown
Are spread o'er land and sea,
And wouldst thou hack it down?
Woodman, forbear thy stroke!
Cut not its earth, bound ties;
Oh! spare that ag-ed oak
Now towering to the skies!

When but a idle boy
I sought its grateful shade;
In all their gushing joy
Here, too, my sisters played.
My mother kiss'd me here;
My father press'd my hand--
Forgive this foolish tear,
But let that old oak stand!

My heart-strings round thee cling,
Close as thy bark, old friend!
Here shall the wild-bird sing,
And still thy branches bend.
Old tree! the storm still brave!
And, woodman, leave the spot;
While I've a hand to save,
Thy axe shall harm it not.

The tree in the top photo is still standing -  I don't know if an execution order has been issued for it.

I came home from school today and viewed the destruction in the second photo.  Actually, there were two trees that size which, apparently, in the interest of the construction in process, had to go.  Those two trees had been flourishing there for at least forty years.

I know that there are so many worse situations for humanity and nature all over the world, so I shouldn't make such a big deal out of this one. But still, it makes me sick.   

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Window Strike

I found a dead bird on the sidewalk outside of Peebles Department Store in Gettysburg today.

not just any dead bird... a Chestnut-sided Warbler, in breeding plumage.

I brought him home and buried him in my garden, but not before photographing him as he lay in state on my bedspread:

any dead bird is sad; any dead bird killed by flying into a plate glass window is more sad; a bird as rare to see as a Chestnut Sided Warbler is the most sad of all.

I had just read an article in the Washington Post Magazine from March 16, 2014 called "Dead Bird Society" about people in DC who recover birds who have died this way.  The article said that 500 million to 1 billion birds are killed annually nationwide because of collisions with buildings, communication towers and power lines.

To hold that beautiful creature in my hand - and he just fit in the palm of my hand -  hurt my heart and soul.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Tech-Impaired Duck

If this duck had teeth, it would be grinding them:

Now I can't even locate the meme.

I have wasted at least two hours of this day trying to re-post the ClustrMap map that I inadvertently removed from my blog.  I followed all the directions, but can't get it to work.

It looks like this :
Nope. Won't even be attached here.  Sigh.

I need to quit this and go back to grading exams.    Or writing poetry.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

As I walked out on a May morning

That's the first line of an English ballad;  it fit me today. 

My view, looking west toward the mountain, as I started out.

I started out at 7:30 for the Mount, for the Elizabeth DiNunzio Memorial Trail, created a few years ago in honor of an outstanding Mount student who died just weeks before her graduation, hit by a truck as she was running along Annandale Road.
It's a safe place - a two mile track around the edges of the West Campus - for runners and walkers.

This morning it was a delightful place for birds, and birders.

along the trail...

I saw 33 species without ever leaving the trail ( know I would have seen more if I had ventured closer to the streams and thickets).

Among the highlights:  my first view this year of Baltimore Orioles.  There were many, all along the trail, and they were singing.

 (photo from Casa

Another highlight:  my first ever sighting of a Horned Lark,  just grazing on the track, looking at first like a Mourning Dove.

 (photo from

What else?  Brown Thrasher, Pine Warbler, Savannah Sparrow...

 (Savannah Sparrow, photo from JimBurnsPhotography)

It was 65 degrees, sunny and breezy, a blue sky morning, and I was in my glory.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Catbird is Back!

(photo by Russell Joseph Reynolds)

Saw him/her this afternoon at my bedroom window feeder - so glad!

I had a good morning of birding at  the Lillian Holt Park in Overlea, in Baltimore, today.

 ( trail in the woods at Holt Park)

 ( pond at Holt Park - saw a Great Blue Heron here)

 Cool and sunny -  many many birds calling, more than I could get my binoculars on.  But I did see 25 species,
among them:

Common Yellowthroat
( photo from Warbler Calls website)


(photo by Sean McCandless)

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

( photo by Jerry Oldenettle)

a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks working together on a nest

( photo by Patrick Harwood)

and one I saw quite clearly, but couldn't identify. When I looked him up later, I think I saw a Solitary Vireo, which if very exciting!  

(Photo by Brooks Mathewson)

Gratitude for these photos -  I don't have a camera with these capabilities.

After my birding,  I went on to visit one of my Baltimore friends,  and then came back to Emmitsburg.

Tomorrow, if the weather is this delightful, I'll try a trail over at the Mount.

Still haven't seen the Rose-breasted Grosbeak...

Friday, May 2, 2014

Shakespeare in DC

Last night, I was treated to dinner and a Shakespeare play by one of my college classmates.  Friendship's links may ne'er be broken, as our alma mater says.  The play was Henry IV Part II
and it was presented at the Washington Shakespeare Theater, in their new building, the Harman Center:

Now, the history plays are not my favorites, and of the history plays, Henry IV Part II is not ( in my opinion) as good as Henry IV Part I , or Henry V, or Richard III.  However, I will take Shakespeare any day of the week, any way I can get him!

The set was fascinating and inventive, and though some of the actors were too shrill or talked too fast ( again, my opinion), some of them were very good indeed, notably Stacy Keach as Falstaff:

here he is, with Maggie Kettering as Doll Tearsheet - I love that name!

I noted a few thought-provoking lines from this play:

 In Act III, Scene I:

"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown".

and this ,in Act III, from one of the lesser characters, Feeble:

    A man can die but once; — we owe God a death.

Enough said.