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More Catching up……

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

9 June 2009, Tuesday after Trinity Sunday (Roman) and Tuesday after the First Sunday After Pentecost: Trinity (Anglican).  I know it has been a very  long time.  The days have ramped from cold winter to early muggy summer.  I saw my first lightning bugs yesterday evening, and to me that means that summer is here.

I began Lent in Chicago on assignment for the agency I do work for from time to time, and attended Ash Wednesday Eucharist at Old St. Pat’s Church, just two blocks away, it turns out, from my hotel.  Old St. Pat’s is a refurbished space and the assembly throbs with energy.  That Wednesday early evening, the place was packed and the presider used the Eucharistic Prayer for Reconciliation, a wonderful touch!  Lent at my own church, St. Mary in downtown Evansville, was a fulfilling season and Holy Week, even though I had to sing at every service, remains one of my favorite rituals.  It culminates with the Vigils of Easter on Holy Saturday.  A solemn time but a happy time, all in one.  Easter Sunday was spent at my sister Mary Anne’s house and included the mandatory egg hunt.  I was once again the “Rabbit”.  My sister Vickie had some kind of bug and was unable to attend, for fear the rest of the clan would get infected, so I was informed.   That’s OK;  I just show up when called, sit where I am told, and smile my toothless grin.  It keeps everyone happier that way I think.  Our Pentecost celebration this year was super, beginning with the jubilation streamers down the aisles, banners, orchestra and choirs.  We again did the polyglot interpretation of the reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  I read Latin again this year, offered to do German, but we settled on latin again anyway.    In addition to English (of course) and Latin, we had Tagalog from the Philippines, Korean, Spanish, French, and some kind of Aramaic……all from members of the parish, all reading singly and together, with the choir underneath it all, chanting Veni Sancte Spiritus, a setting from the Taize monastery in France.  The interpretation we do never fails to move me.

Some genealogical news and family news too.   Over the past few months, I have heard from a descendant of Great Grandpa McCallister’s (Charles Abell) sister Sarah.  She (Sarah, not the descendant) died about 1911 in Egypt Arkansas.  I have been promised copies of a few letters written by her brothers to her.  We might get lucky and find something new in them.  I have also heard from a descendant of Mr. George T. Mills.  He was the brother of my great Grandmother, Lucy Ellen Mills McCallister, and grandpa Nick’s uncle.  He and his family lived on the same road as Grandparents Nick, Julia and family outside Uniontown.  Closer to our main line, cousin Teri McCallister Earl reports she will soon be a grandmother for the 8′th time.  She also related that her brother, cousin Bo (Robert Earl) McCallister had shoulder surgery to repair damage from falling off a ladder.  She wasn’t too specific.  Bo’s daughter Tressa, of New York City, has married and is still working on Broadway, but that is all I know of that so far.

My sister Mary Anne’s husband Anthony has had total knee replacement surgery at the Cleveland Clinic in Clev. OH.  He seems to be doing well enough.  I understand the other knee gets attention next year.  He is a professor in Respiratory Therapy at the University of Southern Indiana here.

I am still in contact with David McCallister of Dallas, a descendant of Uncle Phil’s.  David and his wife, whose ancestors were also Union Countians, have two kids.  Also still in contact with Jim McCallister of Bakersfield CA.  Jim descends from Great grandpa’s brother, Moses McCallister. 

I have also heard from John Luke McCallister, John and Shirley’s grandson in Union County, who wants me to email him back, but he is using the school’s computer, and it refuses to accept my replies to him.  So John Luke, if you are reading this, you know why I never emailed you back!

Tonight, I was priviledged to attend a concert given by my friend of 35 years, Mark X Hatfield at St. John’s East UCC, where Mark is music minister, organist and choirmaster.  He turns 60 this month.  Billed as a birthday bash, it featured two pianos, with pieces for 8 hands.  The fine Wicks organ was also used.  The performers, besides Mark, were Eulalie Wilson, who also turns 80 this month and is still playing piano fiercely; Karen Helmerich who was a one time piano student of Eulalie’s at the University of Evansville, and Dr. William Barnett, who was an organ student of Mark’s in years past.  Mark and William used to play organ for me at Holy Rosary when I was choir master there.  I didn’t know William was going to be there, so I was absolutely thrilled to see him.  He is currently interim Canon for Music at Trinity Cathedral (Episcopal) in Phoenix AZ.  This fall, he will be on a organ concert tour in the midwest, south and east coast.  He has come some distance from the slender lad of 14 with the green and purple streaks in his hair when I first met him.  The evening was quite entertaining.

This year’s garden is mostly in, and already more things need to be done.  I don’t mind admitting it….I am feeling my age now.  Next year, if I do a garden at all, it will be tiny.  Even this existing 50′X50′ garden wears me out and I am not being nearly as productive as I used to be, nor as I need to be.  I did manage to crawl onto the roof and caulk around the chimney the other day.  Getting up there was bad enough, getting down was a circus.  Fortunately, I didn’t tumble off it, but it was nip and tuck!

By the way, the year’s blueberries are large, very sweet, and few!  Oh well!  All for now.  Family members, if you are reading this, send me your news!  On a personal level, its great to hear from you.  On a family level, its wonderful to keep up.



Monday, February 23rd, 2009

22 February 2009, 7′th Sunday of Ordinary Time (Roman); last Sunday of Epiphany (Anglican).  Winter drags on, and today was cold, although the promised gloominess did not materialize.  It was sunny for most of the day.  Sister Barbara preached today on forgiveness and the paralytic from St. Mark’s Gospel.   It was good to have her back again, if only for the sermon!  For various reasons, about only half the choir was present this morning, so that was a bummer.  I made it through my own solo with only one croaked high note!  I am glad it was only one.  With regard to voice, it’s just hell getting old!

Speaking of getting old, this January past, I turned 60.   Now I am, according to niece Jenna, officially old!  Its funny, but I don’t feel older, and I sit transfixed in wonder as to how I got where I am.  Just yesterday it seems, I was graduating from college and starting a working life.  I have been in this house for 16 years.  It just does not seem possible at all.

I had the harddrive on my computer replaced a week ago.  Its a good thing since the old one died the moment we got it out of the laptop.  Fortunately, we had made a total backup the week before.  Now begins the work of tweaking things to the point I once had them.

During the week beginning today, is Mardi Gras/Fat Tuesday, and the day I have to travel to Chicago for work.  I will be there till Friday.  I hate leaving home, even for work and even if temporarily, and I really am not fond of flying either.  I suppose I will have to look at this trip as a lenten penance, for Lent does begin on Wednesday.  Mr. Charlie T. Dog however, will be going to the Doggie Hotel and Spa for the week. Besides being boarded, he will have his shots updated, his wellness exam and his nails done. I have the feeling he is not too fond of doing that either.  But by Providence, this time next week, I will once again be ensconced in my own house with one overweight black dog dutifully snoozing at my feet.

I stumbled upon a Stroup genealogy website this past week (one of my ancestral lines), and have joined a Yahoo Group for that family.  It’s been a few years since I examined my Stroups.  Much of the information I had came from one  Ethel Belle Stroup, who had researched this family for years.  She has passed now, dying in 2006 I believe.  And of course, despite all her years of work, modern YDNA testing comes along and with several simple mouth swabs, destroys everything.  What I learned, is that my Stroups did not descend from Matthias Stroupe the Iron Worker, but another family altogether.  Fortunately, the time frame is so far back (pre-american revolution), that I only have a couple of generations screwed up.  I need to revise my data base because of this new information, and will accomplish that sometime in the near future.  Genealogy is so like life:  just when you think you have it all figured out, it all changes!

I spent a good part of Friday afternoon past, going through an old house up the way from me, that is for sale and has been a few months.  The bulk of the building was built between 1840 and 1860 and is of solid brick construction.  I have always had a penchant for old houses, and this one has always attracted  me greatly.  It has a huge lot that has been planted with splendid floral perennials over the years, in terraced levels.  With some maintenance work, it can look as good as it did when Mr. Uhde lived there.  Over the past several months, it has been “updated” on the inside.  But that work was done quickly and on the “cheap”, so I guess I wished they had just saved their money and effort.  There remain problems, not the least of which are leaky original single pane windows, inadequate wiring and plumbing, and no insulation.  It must cost a bloody fortune to heat the place.  Still, I am considering buying it and moving there.  That entails selling both my current houses, a move I am not sure I am willing to take with the economic mess as it is.  I have tried to put it out of my mind for some months now, and with little success.   This is one tough decision!  Anyway, now that I have probably put everyone to sleep, I will close the ramblings for tonight.  I am going to try to attach a picture of the house below.   Let’s see where it ends up on here.

Catch-up Time

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009


Tuesday, 10 February 2009, week of the 5’th Sunday in Ordinary Time (Roman tradition) and the 5’th Sunday of Epiphany (Anglican tradition).  A lot of Catholics think that the appellation of Ordinary, as relates to some Sundays, means that not much is going on.  Ordinary, in this case, for the Roman Tradition, means that the Sundays are numbered, as in “ordinal” numbers.  Ordinary here, has nothing to do with hum-drum; especially not, since every Sunday, even those in Lent, are celebrations of the Resurrection.


This is a rainy, gloomy, gray day but quite warm for this time of year.  It was 70F yesterday here.  I have a horrible cold and feel like the proverbial offal, and so, am catching up on things, like this blog, rather than expending my efforts for work.

Here are a few of the things that have animated my life since Jenna’s wedding at the end of December.


My teaching/preaching for the LIFE session of 7 January 2009 went very well.  It was on the saints and prayer.  I can email you a copy if you would want one.  I understand that sometime in the near future, it will also be on the St. Mary website and you’ll be able to read it/download it from there as well.  The LIFE (Living In Faith Everyday) program has been developed by our pastoral team for use at St. Mary.  By and large, the presentations, both scriptural and church-practice, are prepared and presented by the laity.  This is a great blessing for us.


Barbara Brown Taylor was featured in the Sunday Forum, and preached during the Eucharist at the National Cathedral on Sunday 11 January 2009, the Baptism of the Lord.  Dean Lloyd of the Cathedral introduced her as the “most sought-after preacher in the Episcopal church today.”  I can understand why.  I awaited her reflections eagerly and was certainly not disappointed.  Her sermon was absolutely phenomenal.  She is an ordained Episcopal priest, but no longer is active in parochial ministry.  Rather, living in northeast GA where our McCallisters did for a time, she writes and lectures at several colleges/divinity schools.  All that is in addition to gigs as guest preacher in churches around the nation.  She has a new book about to come out:  An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith.  I am certainly getting a copy as soon as possible.  In it, she calls for the marriage of the mundane with the sacred:  a wedding, I would think, espoused by all the great saints, and certainly by Jesus himself.  You can watch or listen to her sermon by going to the Cathedral site, and looking in the Sermon Archives under the Spirituality & Worship section.        Everytime I hear someone so Spirit-filled preach, I just wonder why our Roman Catholic tradition limits both its priesthood and its preachers to men only.  That’s nuts!


Barach Obama was inaugurated as president.  I never thought I would ever see a black American assume this position.  Whether he will be an effective and conscientious president remains to be seen.  But he does instill a sense of hope, which we all need.  I trust for now, that we the American people, will not be disappointed.  Yet, he inherits some horrendous challenges.  With prayer and God’s will, may he succeed.


We had a huge winter storm: days of freezing rain and ice, followed by a topping of snow.  We never used to get ice storms here at all.  They stayed far south of us, usually affecting places in northern GA and AL etc.  For several days, the sharp winter cold was pierced by gun-fire like cracks of limbs breaking, trees falling, and wires kissing the ground.   I did not lose power here, except for an occasional flicker, nor did Mary Anne’s house, although she has telephone and electric lines close to the ground now.  She had 14 people (mostly Anthony’s relatives) staying there whose own homes were without power.  Vickie and John also were without power for a week or so.  Cousins of mine, in several different families who still live in western KY may still be without power.  The icy devastation was huge.


My sister Mary Anne, Jenna’s mom, had a relapse of her “plumbing” problems and was in the hospital for a bit at the beginning of February.  Additional surgery may be indicated at some future point.  Between daughter Jenna’s wedding, husband Anthony’s bum legs, and the ice storm, I think the stress took its toll on her system.


Enough rambling for today.  If you enjoy my thoughts, drop me an email.  I am always glad to hear from folks.










Ice Storm Picture

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

This is Mary Anne and Anthony’s house, the same one we grew up in, that belonged to Charles and Catherine McCallister.   Yes, the house really is in there someplace!  This view taken from the end of my driveway after it finally quit iceing!

Niece Jenna’s wedding pic

Tuesday, December 30th, 2008

Tuesday afternoon, 30 December 2008.  6′th Day of Christmas.  Will try to post a pic of Niece Jenna’s wedding.   If this works, there may be more later.   In this pic, Jenna is being escorted down the aisle by her father, Anthony.  St. Mary Church, Evansville IN.

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Saturday evening, 27 December 2008.  The third day of Christmas.   All day yesterday and this morning, extended family members and far flung friends have made their way to town.  Mary Anne McCallister Schmitt and Anthony’s youngest and their only daughter, Jenna, married Rick DeVoy today at 1:30 PM at St. Mary Church here in Evansville.  A picture or two may be forthcoming sometime soon.  Mary Anne, being true to her tight fisted Scot’s heritage, chose today’s date in part since the church would still have fresh decorations from Christmas, and no other flowers/decorations would be needed.   I applaud her thriftiness.  Pa would certainly be proud.  63 years ago last month, granny and pa were married in the same church.  The tradition continues.

Today’s weather was quite favorable, with the day time temperature hovering around 70F, although windy.  This evening however, about 8 PM, the expected cold-front slammed us with high winds and pelting rain.  There has been no damage at my house or at Mary Anne’s  that I can tell.

The sung wedding eucharist was lovely, as was the reception:  cowboy boots, hats, belt buckles, barbeque and baked beans notwithstanding.

After Sunday Eucharist tomorrow morning, a series of visiting by all those in town will occur, I am sure.  It will be an interesting afternoon, as long as the TV stays off.  Fat chance of that!

All in all, it was a great event to begin the ending of the year.

Friday, December 26th, 2008

Evening, Christmas Day 2008, the first day of Christmas.  For the day, all the singing is over. The family has been fed with our usual big Christmas feast, gifts exchanged, and only the quiet star-lit blackness of a winter’s night remains.  Charlie T. Dog has piled himself up on the bed for what he hopes will be a long snooze.

Tonight is a bit of quiet, a time of gratitude, an interval of simple being.  Here, beside the fire, it feels good just to luxuriate in the near silence.  Off in the other room, the local public radio station is playing some carols, softly and gently.  Its hard to believe that just tomorrow, finding a spate of carols on the radio, or anywhere else for the matter, will be next to impossible.  This culture of ours has it all backwards: Christmas begins today and goes for 12 days.  This is the time to hear carols, not last halloween or thanksgiving.  For a supposed Christian culture, American society is almost completely illiterate about its own customs and certainly, its animating theology.

Yesterday morning’s Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols from Cambridge was its usual highlight for me.  During that time, the phone is off the hook; the cell phone is turned off, as is the computer.  For that hour and half, I don’t care about cleaning the house for company, or doing the dishes, or doing laundry or cooking for the family….for that matter I don’t care about “doing” anything.  It is Sabbath time; a time to think, enjoy, sing along, pray, and at that time to do nothing else.

After two Eucharists yesterday (the last at Midnight – I got home after 2 AM) , visiting my sister for a supper, taking care of Dr. Mark’s cats, since he is out of town, v prepping for the rest of the family today, and cooking this morning with nephew Brent from 8 AM till 1 this PM,  I am just weary.   Its more than tired; its weariness.  But a good sleep tonight, I hope, will remedy that.  Tomorrow, extended family and friends start arriving for Jenna’s Saturday wedding,  and tomorrow evening early, is the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner.  

A busy time; a frenetic time.  but amid it all is tonight’s quiet, tonight’s wholeness.  Christ is born.  Heaven and earth rejoices.  And once again, in this kairos moment, ancestors and we still living are met with Godhead in the form of a little baby.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

Monday evening, 22 December 2008, Hanukkah. Well, Hanukkah really began last night at sunset, but it goes for 8 days. For Christians, this is the fourth week of Advent and Christmas is only a couple of days away, and I am mostly ready I guess.  Most of the family will be here for Xmas Dinner at noon on Christmas Day, and I am almost ready to start cooking.   Actually, some of the prep work begins tomorrow for that meal.  The last several days have been cold, very cold.  I don’t think the temperature managed to make it above 20 F today.  And I went Xmas shopping:  Toys for Charlie and gift cards for all else!  A trip that normally should have taken an hour, took two, and traffic was dreadful.  I just despise driving on the high commercial side of town anyway, and today did nothing other than reinforce that attitude.

Christmas cards this year have brought some interesting things, family genealogy wise.  First and foremost were some digital picture print outs from a distant cousin of gravestones of our shared ancestor in North Carolina, including the gravestone of my 3′rd greatgrandfather, Michael Stroup.  His father appears to have served in the Revolutionary War as a member of the continental line, an item of which I wasn’t aware.  The number of ancestors who served the colonies in that war continues to stack up.

On a related note, pun not really intended, I recently received word that I match, through Y DNA, a gentleman in NC, at a genetic distance of 1 from me on the 37 marker test.  (We perfectly match on both the 12 and 25 marker tests). He is also a genetic distance of 2 from the J26 line, whereas I am at a genetic distance of 1 from J26.  He descends from William Smith McAlister and William’s second wife.  William’s first wife was Susan McAlister, a granddaughter of J26 himself.  I figured that he would match up, since my great great Grandfather James (J45) was the bondsman for William Smith and Susan in 1843.  The Clan McAlister Journal, winter 2008 edition, came today, full of articles and news of American McAlisters and their genealogy.  It will give me some good reading for a few days.

Work has generated a couple of paying projects that look to be forthcoming.  I truly hope so, it’s been a long time since my last pay check in June.  They will keep me busy in the next few weeks I think.

So Christmas is upon us.  As a singer, it is quite a busy time.  I am singing both the 4 PM and the Midnight Eucharists, with several solos each service.  And then, two days later, niece Jenna is getting married to long time boyfriend Rick.   I am Psalmist for that service, but not Cantor, thankfully. 

Yesterday, I was priviledged to see the Christmas Lessons and Carols from the National Cathedral in DC.  The choirs were beautiful of course, and they sang a few carols that I truly love:  Sussex Carol  and A New Work Has Come on Hand by Peter Wishart.   Samuel Lloyd, the Cathedral Dean, and one of my favorite preachers,  gave a really fine reflection as well.  And on Christmas Eve morning at 9AM, I hope to hear once again, the Festival of 9 Lessons and Carols live from King’s College at Cambridge (England).  That service always gets me in the proper mood for Christmas, and offers a steady base from which to launch the frenetic schedule I will have between church and family for the next some days.

I have been working on my next major preaching/teaching presentation which is slated at St. Mary on 7 January, 2009.     for the church’s site.   I am in a bit of a panic about it now, given my schedule between now and then.  But with prayer and more preparation, I am sure it will come out OK. 

Regards and best wishes to all in this season.

Monday, December 15th, 2008

Sunday evening, 15 December 2008.  Third Sunday of Advent.  Warmer than it has been lately and windy.  My friend Dr. Mark Valenzuela is back from a semester in Britain.  He rejoined the choir this morning.  It’s good to have him back.  We all missed his humor and quiet demeanor.

Yesterday, I made a trip to Willard Library (it has a great genealogy department), to get just some light reading for between now and Xmas.  I got a few good things I think.   If Charlie leaves me alone in the evenings, I may actually get to read uninterrupted for a time.

The National Cathedral has something every week, called the Sunday Forum.  It’s a Question/Answer session between a noted guest and Dean Sam Lloyd of the Cathedral.  It takes place in the nave of the cathedral between the two Sunday Eucharists.  This morning, the guest was Tavis Smiley, the black political pundit and media personality.  Since the purpose of the Forum is to talk about faith and how it relates to this nation and the life we lead, today we got a great glimpse of something I have never seen before, which was Mr. Smiley’s faith;  what it is for him; how it motivates him; and what he hopes to accomplish with it.  Quite revealing, to say the least.  There were many, many memorable quotes, and maybe I will go back to the site later this week and write a few down.  Of note however, was his contention that the thought that America is now a “post-racial” nation is nonsense.  His word, not mine, although I concur.  Better than it has been in the past? Undoubtedly!  But not nearly as good as this country promises to be or aspires to be.  Informative and thought provoking to say the least.

I made a big pot of chili this evening, but even though I like it thick, I watered it down to make it last a little longer.  Maybe I’ve made enough to have for lunch through Friday.  It was still good though.  And so, a new week is about to begin, and after I read a couple chapters of one of the books I borrowed yesterday, I’ll be off to bed.

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

Wednesday evening, 10 December 2008.   Today was the last day, at least till Sunday, of me having to do church stuff every day or evening for 2 weeks straight.  Not that I terribly mind, but I am about churched out, and that’s a little disjoined for the Advent frame of mind.  Tonight, I sang with 7 others, for an advent reconciliation service.

My new New Yorker magazine came today, and in it is a wonderful and insightful “retrospective” review of Leonard Bernstein by Alex Ross.  The long article is replete with a black and white, full page photograph of Bernstein conducting the Boston Symphony in a performance of Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ symphony at Tanglewood in 1970.  Dancing there without a music stand or a baton, it looks as though he is about to fling himself backwards into a mosh pit of staid audience members.   Now, I have been a fan of Bernstein for years and years.  I loved his West Side Story when I was in high school.  I have sung, with choral groups, several of his vocal writings, including the Chichester Psalms.  I would love to attend a faithful remounting of the “Mass”.  I find his Lauda, Laude theme therein, to be one of his most sensitive choral writings ever.

Today was wet and windy and cold….two days in a row now.  It won’t be long now before Santa Dog comes in his dog sled to shower real but safe bone treats on all good little doggies around the world.  Santa Dog’s dogsled is, or course, pulled by 9 reindogs.  They are:  Donner and Blitzen, and Comet and Cupid, and Rover and Fido, and Spot and Snoopy.  The lead dog is Clifford, the big red dog with his nose so bright.  Rin Tin Tin and Lassie used to help pull Santa Dog’s sled, but they don’t  anymore since they’ve reached mandatory retirement age.  Mr. Charlie T. Dog, my Black Lab mix loves these little yuletide stories.