Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Promises, Promises

I promise I will put up a post soon. I'm quite overwhelmed by this move. I did take a drive this morning down to Pemaquid Point to see the lighthouse. Of course, this was after I went to the hardware store for some much needed cleaning supplies.

Update: for those who want to see what the light house looks like here's a link.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Suryia and Roscoe—From the Rare Species Fund

My friend Robert, who posts occasionally at Chaplinesque, and who is a Yank in Australia, pointed me to this. It's delightful.

What in human terms we would call generosity and love shown by Suryia the orangutan to this dog is heart-warming and that the dog would have no fear is amazing.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Greying Hair

I just read in my "Science News" that stress causes grey hair. I've been here for just two years, but my hair has definitely gotten considerably grayer over that time. I refuse to acknowledge that it could be my age, so it has to be the stress.

I'm not blogging much, since I'm packing up my belongings quite seriously now. I give my last sermon on Sunday. We'll have a party after church and then I move next week, Wednesday and Thursday.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Society of Ordained Scientists

As of this morning I am officially The Rev'd. Amelia Hagen, SOSc. It was really quite wonderful being with this group of men and women whose interests span both science and theology. The fields of science, medicine and technology that are represented are quite varied. There were five of us who became members this morning. We need to renew our commitment in a year. At that point we can commit for three years and after that we can commit for life. The Rule of the Society is:
  1. To pray daily for the aims of the Society and for its members.
  2. To remember the Society and its members regularly at public worship. (when appropriate)
  3. To endeavor to attend the annual gathering and retreat of the Society.
The aims are:
  1. To offer to God in our ordained role the work of science and technology in the exploration and stewardship of creation.
  2. To express both the commitment of the Church to the scientific and technological enterprise and our concern for its impact on the world.
  3. To develop a fellowship of prayer for ordained scientists by the following of a common rule.
  4. To support each other in our vocation.
  5. To serve the Church in its relation to science and technology.
I had wanted to join this fellowship after I was first ordained, but the time commitment of my work as an interim made this nearly impossible. Attending the annual meetings just wasn't on. Now I feel that by doing part-time interims, I will have time and energy to commit to the Society.

Bishop Steve's Busy First Day

This video is from Bishop Lane's (Diocese of Maine) Blog. He's quite good at keeping us informed. The main topic is legislation from the dioceses where same sex marriage is legal that would enable using the Book of Common Prayer for blessing of civil marriages of same sex couples. He was testifying about this.

It's very strange to be across the ocean during General Convention, although I must admit, I seem to schedule vacations around that time. The last time I went away, +Gene Robinson was approved and it was interesting to listen to Wyoming radio on my drive back from backpacking in the Big Horns. This time, at least I'm in touch, via the internet.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Ha Ha

I've learned a new word today. While walking back from taking photos of the sheep on the hillside, I met up with one of my fellow scientists. He mentioned that they were restoring the "ha ha." I, being a very puzzled American said "huh?" or something to that effect. It turns out a ha ha is a reverse fence. A picture of which you see to the left. Instead of putting a fence around a terrace or garden which might spoil the view, the English put in a ditch to keep the sheep or cattle from messing up the pretty garden area. The one here at Launde has a herringbone brick pattern up the wall. It's quite pretty, but looks like it would be costly to put in.

Launde Abbey

I found the spot at the Abbey that has wi-fi. It's useful for me to cut down the number of e-mails I would encounter if I wait until I get to a hotel tomorrow evening. Launde Abbey is a lovely place. The Abbey sits in a low spot in hills of grass with grazing sheep. Thomas Cromwell took the Abbey as his own home when Henry VIII closed the Abbeys for their revenue. There is a pond with ducks flitting in and out of the reeds with their chicks and the grounds are planted with wonderful flowers. A walled-in vegetable garden is a short walk up a path.

The meeting so far is quite interesting. Aside from praying the Daily Office and eating meals together, we have had two talks of about a half-hour by John Polkinghorne, followed by silence and then we divide into groups of 12 for discussion. It is quite wonderful to be able to talk theology and science with people who are engaged with ideas and concepts such as the interpretation of Scripture in light of scientific knowledge (yesterday afternoon) and today with the concept of the afterlife. Our small group discussions allow us to get to know each other better and of course so do coffee and tea breaks and meals together. There's also lots of time for silence and just walking around the grounds.

Yesterday there was quite a bit of rain. Today is cooler and mostly cloudy, although it looks as though we will get a shower soon.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Peterborough, England

I've settled into the Bull Hotel in Peterborough. I arrived about 5 pm and after getting into my room I discovered that Evensong at the cathedral here was at 5:30. I heard the bells go off so I dashed off and got there just as the choir and clergy were processing, so I couldn't sit in the choir stalls, but enjoyed it none the less sitting by myself in the nave. The only thing I found odd was that in the Anglican Cycle of Prayer the Diocese for today was Pittsburgh and they prayed for its bishop "Robert Duncan" whereas the official ACP says The Rt. Revd Robert Hodges Johnson. What does that mean?? What side is Peterborough on?

Earlier this year we prayed for the Diocese of Maine, and +Chilton was still listed even though she retired in October. +Steve was listed as the Suffragen and he's now the Diocesan, but Pittsburgh is a different matter— Robert Duncan is NOT a bishop of the ECUSA.

I found this bit of history interesting. More information may be found on sacred destinations web site.
The current Anglican cathedral stands on the site of a monastic church founded by King Peada of Mercia in 655.

The monastic settlement was destroyed by Vikings in 870, but was revived in 972 by Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. The town surrounding the abbey was eventually named Peterburgh after the saint to whom the abbey was dedicated.

Although damaged during the struggle between the Norman invaders and local folk-hero, Hereward the Wake, the church was repaired, and continued to thrive until destroyed by fire in 1116.

This event necessitated the building of a new church, which took a total of 120 years to complete, and was consecrated in 1238.
For the last hour they've been doing change ringing at the cathedral and I can hear it very clearly from my room with the window open. That is so great. I love bells. It's much too warm to shut the window, so it will be open all night, rain or no rain.

Tomorrow morning I leave for Launde Abbey near Oakham for my retreat with the Society of Ordained Scientists.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lunch at Neusiedler See

What a delightful Sunday! After going to Christ Church and reading the gospel and saying hello to people from 10 or 20 years ago, my host and I drove out to Neusiedler See (in Burgenland near the Hungarian border) for lunch. We watched people sailing and swimming while we waited for our lunch. Just as we ordered dessert, the clouds (and lightning) that had been building up let loose and the boats and swimmers made a mad dash to the shore. It didn't look as though it was going to last for any time and we were right. I wish I had a way of transferring my photos to my laptop with me, I think I have some nice pictures of our lunch place. This evening is going to be spent packing for my trip to England tomorrow. From what I can tell the temperature is going to be at least 10°F cooler, which won't bother me at all.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

For the Lack of an Interim, a War was Lost

A few years back I was at a meeting of Interim Ministers in Boston. Our outing consisted of going to Christ Church (Old North Church) where we had evensong with a fascinating homily given by the current rector. Built in 1723, it is the oldest active church building in Boston. According to him, the rector had left and a very unpopular curate was in charge. It seemed that the curate spent most of his time trying to get the post of rector.

We heard how even though Paul Revere was not a member of the church, he had been a bell-ringer there in his youth and the church sexton, Robert Newman, who of course had keys to the church, was a fellow Sons of Liberty. Newman was the one who climbed the tower and put the two lanterns there. He barely escaped because the British troops had also seen the message and were at the church door before he had gotten down the stairs. Newman escaped through a window near the organ.

General Gage was a parishioner of Christ Church and the majority of parishioners were loyalists. The current rector speculated that if Christ Church had had a proper interim, without all the intrigue of the curate (if I remember his story correctly, they wouldn't let him have the keys), entrance to the church might have been stopped and the Redcoats might have taken Lexington and Concord, and the notice posted at Old North today near a donation box which says "If it weren't for Old North Church, you might be making donations in pound notes" would be true.

Happy Fourth of July!

Random Thoughts on Vienna

The picture on the right is of me, my daughter and my hostess. It was taken at the March Felderhof, a restaurant that was a favorite for special occasions. They put the flag of your country on the table and because my SIL is from Colombia, we got two flags. The restaurant is located in the middle of farming country that is known for its asparagus. The annual Asparagus Festival had ended, but last week they were celebrating mushrooms. There's a really good mushroom here called Eierschwammerl that the menu translated as chantrell. My salad had some warm mushroom that had been sauted on it and it was yummy. I've had Eireschwammerl in different ways this week and they are as good as I remembered.

Now that my time in Vienna is drawing to a close, I thought I'd reflect a bit on this lovely place and what it has meant. Yesterday afternoon my hostess and I went to a picnic thrown by her former section at the IAEA. It's been 20 years since I worked there (and in a completely different part of the Agency), so none of the faces were familiar, but the landscape was. I listened to people talk about how compartmentalized everything is and how people defend their turf. Really none of that is any different than when I was there, except perhaps in scale. It's hard for me to tell. I do remember my first year and how shocked I was that you were expected to stay in your own little area and never, ever, try to do something that wasn't immediately your charge. One of the Director General's assistants told me that's just the way things were.

Well after a few years I got a wonderful gift. A woman scientist from Finland came to work in another section (in fact she was the section head). We knew each other from meetings on environmental radioactivity and I was so delighted to have a colleague. During her stay, Chernobyl happened and her section was to collect data from around the world. She called me and asked if I would do it since I was the only person she knew who understood computers. Well if that didn't cause a flap. The men who worked in her section were very upset, because an "outsider" was doing what they thought they should do. When my friend asked if they could do it they said "no", but that wasn't the point. My friend replied "you're just a bunch of babies." I really missed her when she left after just two years. She was getting close to retirement as was her husband, so returning home was necessary. The interesting thing about this story was that Hans Blix, who was the Director General at the time, completely supported our work, so all the carping stopped.

Last Sunday I attended Christ Church, my church home during the time I was here. Of course there is a new chaplain—I was doing my intern year there when he was selected. I heard the news that The Rev.d Canon Jeremy Peake, the chaplain for most of my time in Vienna, had died the week before. Jeremey was so energetic and full of life, that I was quite shocked by the news. I had planned on calling him when I go to the UK next week. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.

I did get to say hello to some of the old timers and that was nice. The chaplain asked me to give the blessing at the end of the service. He was going on vacation, so he won't be there tomorrow. The Assistant Chaplain, who will celebrate, was still studying for Holy Orders when I was last here. She's a lovely woman. She came to Vienna from Canada as a dancer, married an Austrian and for years taught dance here. I've been asked to read the gospel and help distribute the elements. That will be a nice way to end my stay.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Vienna, The Albertina

In the 1980s all the Albertina Museum had were wonderful drawings and etchings.  The new museum is really worth visiting.  They were recently given (on loan)  a large collection of impressionists and some modern works (Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Matisse, Miro, Picasso, Kandinsky, Chagall, et al.) and a room of Paul Klee's work from the Carl Djerassi Collection, so now they have a permanent collection well-worth seeing. The Klees are in Austria, if I remember correctly, as sort of an offer of forgiveness by Djerassi, who was driven out by the Nazis.  Professor Djerassi, a chemist, helped develop the oral contraceptive (thank you!) and, not only has been given many awards, he writes "science-in-fiction" including plays.

My hostess and I viewed the museum today and then we had a delightful lunch in a bar-restaurant attached to the museum.  I really enjoyed the impressionists and post-impressionists, but some of the more modern pieces— well I think I need more education to understand what it is I'm looking at.  One artist seemed to just layer as much paint as possible onto the canvass.  The colors weren't even interesting, just muddy.  Oh well.

When I think of all the times, I've called my little Isabelle a foodie, and realize it's really the pot calling the kettle black.   Nearly everything I'm writing is about on this trip includes my eating and drinking experiences.

Birthday Party

Here's the whole party, with SIL taking the picture.  The sun had just begun to go down.  We ate schnitzel, and roast pork and fried veggies and drank lots of white and red house wine. It was also fun to catch up with people I hadn't seen in ten years. In just a short while after the first picture was taken it started to rain, a few people left, but mostly we went inside and continued.  The rain didn't last long and when we left the air was cooler.  The only down side was I got what I think was a wasp bite on my ankle.  It's a lot better today.
My birthday dinner was at a wonderful heuriger (wine garden) called Fuhrgassl Huber in Neustift am Walde (a district in Vienna).  The vineyards stretched behind the garden up a hillside, the flowers in the garden were everywhere and well taken care of.  My friends who hosted my stay are the two in the middle of the picture.  We spread liptauer, garlic cheese spread and gorgonzola on bread and rolls and drank wine mixed with soda water while waiting for the rest of the guests to show up.

Click on the picture to enlarge it.  You can get the whole scene that way.

Vienna Opera

My daughter and I enjoyed a glass of sekt (bubbly) before the opera. (The wine was my son-in-law's).  This area was filled with people at the intermission.  Monkey goes everywhere with daughter and SIL (who took the picture).  In fact, Monkey has his own Flickr pages and a web site called Casa de Monkey.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

In Vienna

I've been here in Vienna for almost a week and finally have wi-fi access for my computer.  It's not that I couldn't go out to an internet cafe, but that I was too lazy to do so.  My hosts had a wireless router, but it wasn't connected and we were much too busy to hook it up.

My daughter and son-in-law and I went to the opera to see the Magic Flute on Saturday evening and it was a real treat.  Even if you can't get a ticket, you can watch the whole thing on a big-screen outside the opera house.  People bring folding chairs and sit outside.  Of course we've been having a lot of rain.  I imagine some of them got drenched.  This whole thing is quite a change from the 80s when I lived here.  They also have the libretto on small screens for each seat.  It's really nice to be able to follow the whole thing in English.  The staging was wonderful and the voices quite good.  The Staatsoper is still a magical place with its incredible chandeliers and opulence.

More to follow