Saturday, May 31, 2014

A Wonderful Sign of the Spring Growing Season--the New Growth on My Spruce Trees

The early spring wildflowers are beginning to fade, but we have another wonderful sign of the spring growing season--the new growth on the spruce trees. The color is the freshest green or blue. The feel is soft. I love it!

Magnificent Blue Spruce; Norway Spruce seedling in foreground

Norway Spruce seedling in my front yard

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dr. Jim O'Connell--Physician to the Homeless in Boston

Today I heard the extraordinary news that my old Notre Dame/Innsbruck classmate, Jim O'Connell, has a new baby. Now most of my old classmates are bragging about new grand children, not children. Jim is one of the great humans on this planet. He founded and is president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program (short bio of Jim O'Connell) and has been doing that work most of his professional life. Many of his patients are like the people we work with in the Karpos Ministry at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio, where we feed the hungry and homeless every Wednesday and Thursday evening. On a given day there could be 100 up to 150 meals served out of our small facility. Many of our guests sleep outside all year round, and in the video below Jim O'Connell talks about how vulnerable these folks are to health conditions many people live with. The Karpos Ministry was founded by Kathy Philipps and Gregg Stovicek and has been going on for about four or five years now. Linda and I have been part of it a little over two years.

Here is a link to the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program:

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More Pics from Marias River Float

Marias River-- Island Campsite. Sara and Carolan

Singing and Playing the Flute

Happy Girls!

Jeremy, Carolan, Sara, Brian
Bald Eagle in Tree

Carolan atop a Mushroom Rock

A Castle Rock on the Marias

Carolan and Jeremy Paddling in sync

Floating Down the Marias River in Montana

My daughter Carolan and her friends Jeremy, Sara, and Brian just finished a long float, in inflatable canoes, down the Marias River, a river which rises in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation (just east of Glacier National Park) and eventually meets up with the Missouri River. Below are some photos from their float:

Carolan with her inflatable canoe

Carolan again

The Rocky Mountain Front, seen from a distance

Sandstone Cliffs along the Marias River

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day. And Dad's 92nd Birthday.

Today my Dad would have been 92 years old. He was born in Cleveland on May 26, 1922, to Cora Esther Bowers Coughlin and Cornelius (Connie) Francis Coughlin. Both my grandparents were first generation Americans. In 1922 they lived around East 87th Street, between St. Clair and Superior. My Dad was the third child, after Fran and Jack. Bill was born about a year and a half later. And Bernice followed Bill. My grandparents' marriage seemed a little odd--Connie was a rough and ready Irishman and a great semi-pro baseball player. My grandmother was the daughter of a bridge engineer, Frank Bowers (changed from Bauer) and Mary Voelker. My impression is that they were upper middle class. So Cora married a guy who was in a lower social class. But Connie had charm and smarts. He was funny, affable, a great athlete, with lots of friends.Their marriage lasted about 43 years, until my Grampa's death in 1960.

During World War II, their 4 boys were all in the service, all over seas. My Dad was a signalman in the Navy, and spent most of his 4 years in the South Pacific, on very small ships (including wooden Subchasers!). We honor him today, his birthday, and Memorial Day.

Today I also think about my cousin Tommy Fitzpatrick, who was just 6 months older than me. Tommy was killed in Vietnam in 1969, just 21 years old. His death is an unending ache to his family and friends.

I also think about my Notre Dame/Innsbruck friend, Steve Shields. I studied with Steve in Salzburg and Innsbruck, Austria in 1967-68, and we graduated from Notre Dame together in 1970. Just a couple years later, around age 23 or 24, Steve's helicopter was shot down in Vietnam and he was killed. Rest in Peace, Tommy and Steve.

I also think about some of the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights and Peace Movement on Memorial Day. There is no official holiday for them, but they are also heroes for our country and our world. Names that come quickly to mind are Ernest and Marion Bromley, Maurice McCrackin, and Chuck Matthei. But there are many more, many whose names are totally lost to history.

So to all the heroes, both of wars and of the struggle for peace and justice, we say Thank You!

Tommy Fitzpatrick in Vietnam (center)

Dad and Mom, August 1947, Willoughby

Steve Shields (left)--Salzburg, Austria
[Also, Charlie Bradley, Brian Wilson, me, Mike Gerrity]

Floating Down the Marias River in Montana--Carolan's Memorial Day

My daughter Carolan, who lives and works in northwest Montana, is floating down the Marias River today in an inflatable canoe with some friends, Jeremy, Sara, and Brian. This is truly a wilderness experience. In places they are probably 50 miles from a grocery store. In fact, where they are floating there isn't even a bridge crossing this river for some 70 miles. I found a youtube video of a couple paddling the Marias. I'm pretty sure this is what Carolan, Jeremy, Sarah, and Brian are seeing right now.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Regina Brett's Second Article on the Catholic School Contract

For the second time in about a week, Regina Brett, the Plain Dealer's outstanding columnist, has written about the contract Catholic school teachers are being forced to sign (sign it or else--no job).

Click for Regina Brett's article

In the column Brett asks, "What happens if you're a teacher whose child was conceived by in vitro fertilization? Are you allowed to share the miracle story of the birth?" Then she talks about her cousin whose child was born via in vitro, and says, "His sons are children of God as holy as all the others created in God's image and likeness."

Brett has heard from hundreds of teachers. Many said they would reluctantly sign the contract (otherwise no job); some said they would not sign the contract and would leave their jobs. These teachers thought that this would be quite a loss for the children they teach.

One teacher asked that this addendum be appended to the contract: "Role as Catholic/Christian: the Teacher-Minister, in signing this Agreement, represents that s/he has read and understands the Gospel of Jesus and will attempt every day to love as Jesus loves . . . ." [click on the article above for the entire proposed addendum].

Brett isn't hopeful pastors will "stand up for their teachers and stand up to the bishop and against his morality squad." She fears that this will happen: "Many good teachers will leave with broken hearts. Many good teachers will stay with broken hearts. And the church will be more broken."

In the end, Brett concludes, "This 'morality' contract violates the spirit of Christian and Catholic love." And she proclaims, "The Catholic church needs the people who love it enough to embrace it 100 percent as is, and people like me, who love it enough to challenge it relentlessly to be a more loving church."

I couldn't have said this better. I myself love the Church and will not leave it. And like Regina Brett, I will continue to challenge it and pray that it becomes a Church in the Spirit and image of Jesus.

Fine Hymn for Our Beloved Dead: "Go Forth," by Trevor Thomson

At mass today at St. Mary's Church in Painesville, Ohio, we sang the hymn "Go Forth," by Trevor Thomson. The song was incredibly beautiful, especially with the whistle accompaniment of Mary Ann Ratchko-Gamez and the piano of Francesco Binda.

I especially thought of Dorothy Glanzer, who passed away a few days ago. And of course of my Mom and Dad, of Ruth and Art Sanders, of Evelyn Hoffman, and Kenny Przybylski.

Here is a performance found on Youtube:

The Passing of a Good Woman--Dorothy Glanzer, Wife of Old Friend Greg Haas

My old Peacemaker friend Greg Haas, who I met in February of 1971 at the Mansfield House in Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood, lost his wife Dorothy a few days ago. Greg and Dorothy were married in 1983 by Rev. Maurice McCrackin. For most of their married life they lived in Bloomington, Indiana. Greg sent me this beautiful obituary of Dorothy (below). Both Greg and Dorothy have lived beautiful, simple, truthful lives. And for the past 15 years or so of Dorothy's life, she lived with Multiple Sclerosis. It was an incredible challenge to both of them. As a Catholic Christian, I like to think of this as "Redemptive Suffering." It's not something I can explain very well, but it's something I believe deeply in.

Dorothy Mae Glanzer


September 4, 1953-May 23, 2014
    Born near Canistota, SD to a hard-working, frugal Mennonite family in an historic Mennonite agricultural community, Dorothy and her three siblings grew up tending chickens, working in the milk house and doing farm chores while attending a mixed-grade, one-room school.
    Studying and boarding at Freeman Junior College, Dorothy took organ and piano lessons and played for church services. After high school she spent a year in a Mennonite cultural exchange program in Switzerland and Germany. At Goshen College, she participated in a study-service term in Honduras, graduating with a B.S in Nursing. After college she worked at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls and a summer at a Black Hills Lutheran camp.
    Seeking adventure and wanting to see more of the country, she signed up for Mennonite Voluntary Service where she served two years in Cincinnati, Ohio while living in a MVS community house. Staying in Cincinnati, she worked as a nurse with Dominican Sisters of the Sick Poor for eight years and at Bethesda Hospital’s in-patient hospice for one and a half years.
    While working in the historic Over-The-Rhine, the city’s largest, poorest neighborhood, she met her husband who was working on a low-income housing project. Sharing concerns for social justice, world peace and creating community, they married in 1983 at a home-spun, convivial celebration officiated by Rev. Maurice McCrackin, Cincinnati’s well-known anti-war and social justice activist. In 1989 the couple moved to Bloomington where Dorothy worked part-time in the Bloomington Hospital Rehab and Orthopedic departments for four years, Bloomington Hospice for seven years and Area Ten Agency on Aging for four and a half years until 2004.
    Besides a vocation in nursing, Dorothy enjoyed playing the piano, singing, cooking, socializing with friends, gardening, reading and the great outdoors. A vacation ritual was driving out to South Dakota to visit with family and friends, often getting off the interstates to enjoy the great natural beauty and cultural attractions of the Midwest.
    For the last fifteen years of Dorothy’s life, multiple sclerosis was a major challenge forcing her to eventually quit work and relinquish many of the activities she loved to do. For the last ten years she was limited to using her power wheel chair, working endless hours at her computer, reading extensively and watching films. She enjoyed participating in a writing group in which she reflected on her farm life experiences and working in Cincinnati’s poor neighborhoods. She was a formidable Scrabble player. Throughout all her struggles with MS and finally cancer, we will remember her sweet, radiant smile, her equanimity, serenity, grace, poise, and good humor despite her seemingly interminable, ever-deteriorating health. 
    Dorothy was a member of Bloomington Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and was member of the group that created Mt. Gilead Friends Retreat, a sixty-plus acre natural preserve where all are welcome to be nourished through the wonder and inspiration of nature.
    Dorothy is survived by: her husband of thirty years, Greg Haas; her father, Moses and the late Reva Glanzer of Freeman, SD; Lu Ann Glanzer of Sioux Falls, SD; Nancy and Jeff Fischer of Lincoln, NE; Mark and Margaret Glanzer of Canistota, SD; in-laws, Flora and the late Charles Haas, Sr., Charles Haas, Jr., Linda (Haas) and Greg Hand of Cincinnati; Cindy (Haas) Potter of Burlington, KY; seven nieces and nephews; beloved aunts and uncles; and numerous cousins.
    We would like to thank the many doctors, nurses, home health agencies and aides, area nursing homes and especially Bloomington Hospital (I.U. Health) and I.U. Health Hospice and Hospice volunteers for all the many wonderful and caring services that Dorothy received over the years that added immeasurably to the quality of her life.
    With much gratitude we thank our wonderful, amazing and incredible families and friends for all the assistance in many forms, for their love and support, visits, meals, flowers, cards, phone calls, massages, errands, favors, sewing projects, emergency assistance, care packages, pharmacy and airport runs, etc. over the last ten very difficult years. To have been held in the embrace of love and community has been miraculous. We have been so richly blessed by your celebrating Dorothy’s life in community. We love you all very much.

A memorial service will be held at Hutterthal Mennonite Church in Freeman, SD at a later date. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Dorothy’s memory to Mt.Gilead Friends Retreat, 3363 Mt.Gilead Rd., Bloomington, IN 47408, or to the charity of your choice. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Girdled Road Reservation and Big Creek

Me, not acting my age, on a downed tulip tree over Big Creek

Sue Ricalton Sanders and Steve Sanders

False Solomon's Seal

Steve Sanders

Shelf fungus

Blue-sky day in Northern Ohio--so we took a hike with our Kentucky relatives along Big Creek in Girdled Road Reservation, the amazing Lake Metropark in Concord Township, Ohio.

Andrea Levy's Feminist "OpinionArt" in Yesterday's Plain Dealer

Andrea Levy's work for the Plain Dealer is extraordinary--and the editors of the PD must know it! In yesterday's paper she had the above full-page piece. I have a few stylistic quibbles with it, but mostly I'm with her. As the father of three daughters, I have to be a defender and advocate for women.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Catholic Women to Be Ordained Today in Brecksville!

In today's Cleveland Plain Dealer, there's an article on p. A-6 about the ordination today of Catholic women to the Catholic priesthood and deaconate. Among the women being ordained priests is Mary Collingwood of Boston Heights (near the Cuyahoga Valley National Park). Reverend Collingwood is 61 years old, the mother of seven, grandmother, with a master's degree in theology. She has taught high school and college theology. She has even had a role in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, as past director of the diocese's pro-life office. The article quotes her as saying, "I realized I was being called to help change and reform the church." Another woman, from my old neck of the woods, St. Mary Magdalene in Willowick, will also be ordained, in her case as a deacon. That is Susan Guzik of Eastlake. Reverend Guzik is 78, a widow and mother of 5 (also a grandmother and great grandmother). She has been part of St. Mary Magdalene for 60 years.

Ordination is very common in Christian churches and it has been very successful. Women priests, ministers, and pastors have had a wonderful, beneficent effect.

The organization sponsoring the ordination, the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) does not accept the old Catholic anathema on women becoming priests. One woman is quoted as saying, "The men made that rule, and a man-made rule can be changed--especially if it's unjust."

I am so proud of these brave women, showing the Church the way to the future. I imagine only older Catholics like myself can understand the reckless courage this takes. Their actions are gifts of the Holy Spirit.

By the way, the ordinations will take place today, 1 pm, at Brecksville United Church of Christ.

Some day we will look back on the ban on women ordination in the Catholic Church with astonishment, the same way we look back on slavery and wonder, "What the hell were they thinking!"

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fresh Water--and Threats to It (think "Fracking")!

Here in Northeast Ohio we don't fret too much about water. We are the Saudi Arabia of water. We have Lake Erie as our northern border, and we have many rivers and literally hundreds of creeks throughout our area. We get anywhere from 35 to 50 (or more!) inches of rain every year. How could there be a problem? How could there be a threat?

Well, there are gigantic threats--some here right now, and some on the horizon, not that far away. One threat is that we have something that other people desperately want and need. I'm thinking of California, with its historic state-wide drought, leading to terrible forest fires. California has over 38,000,000 residents--by far the heaviest populated state in the nation. This one state has a higher population than most of the countries in Europe. It also has a huge agriculture industry, with a tremendous need for water. California is desperate for water. Where is that water going to come from? Oh, just thought of something! Fracking (hydraulic fracturing) is going on in California. This takes huge amounts of water, and then removes it from the water cycle forever. That's water that will never again be used by humans--gone forever. So California needs water for people, for industry, for agriculture--and now for fracking. Something's gonna give!

Fracking poses a gigantic risk to Ohio's fresh water (and the the fresh water of all the states where fracking will take place). The risk is actually global; fracking will eventually affect all the world's supply of fresh water, a very precious and limited resource. At some point, I have no doubt that wars will be fought over fresh water.

[this will be expanded later today and tomorrow]

David Letterman Talks about Fracking

Check this out--David Letterman says about Fracking--"We're Screwed!"

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Poem for Far Into the Future (I Hope!)

Last Wishes

When the end sneaks upon me
(it will, and I’ll let it)
No fancy funeral
But an Irish wake full of friends, family . . .
And joy of you all being together
(and you being the very youness of you).
I hope it’s in the summer
In our big back yard, the kids playing like there’s no tomorrow
Only now now now.
Jimmy and Kevin, beer in hand, laughing and holding forth
Ed telling lies, the boys
The boys, Colin and Robby, being boys.
No fancy casket, a little box of ashes,
Some strewn over the Big Lake, some
In the beloved sugar maple woods,
Some buried in All Souls (where in a future day,
My ashes will mingle with yours,
For ever and for ever and for ever).
A Catholic funeral, to be sure,
But only by some renegade priest
Who loves the Truth more than the bishop
And maybe sweet Irish whistle music
Filling the air, O’Carolan’s Sí Bheag Sí Mhór, and
His “Farewell to Music.”
“Lord of All Hopefulness,” and
“How Can I Keep from Singing?”

And I hope you are hopeful and singing
And the Girls are all thriving
And you find love again
And healing and peace
And peace.
(And know that I am grateful
For it all).

[Bob Coughlin / May 21, 2014]

Sr. Ruth Marie Behrend (OSU), My First Grade Teacher at St. William's, 1954-55

In one of the miracles of the internet, Tim Behrend, who has worked and lived in Indonesia and New Zealand, has sent me a photo of his aunt, Sister Ruth Marie Behrend, my first grade teacher at St. William's in Euclid. Sr. Ruth Marie is an Ursuline nun and she taught me during the academic year of 1954-55, when I was six years old. There were about 60 kids in our first grade class. These were the baby boom years, and there were lots of kids in Euclid, Ohio. Families were larger then, especially Catholic families. We had five children in our family, along with Mom and Dad, living in a one-bathroom bungalow on East 266 Street --our situation was made even more crowded when our alcoholic uncles, the twins Dick and Don Fitzpatrick, and Uncle Jack Coughlin, lived with us (they lived with all the relatives, until they were kicked out; and then they eventually came back--the cycle went on and on).

How did Sr. Ruth Marie handle 60 squirming little six-year-olds? Tim Behrend tells me that Sr. Ruth Marie herself had not even graduated from college at the time. It's possible she was only 20 years old or so when she had this heavy teaching responsibility.

I cannot say exactly what she did for me--that we can never know precisely. But between my parents, my wider family, and my teachers, I became a well-educated person and a person who passionately cares about justice and about the poor. Also, I became a thoughtful (though not mindless) Catholic-Christian. Some of that must be thanks to Sr. Ruth Marie and the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. They took on an impossible task and did a fine job with it. Thank You! Deo Gratias!

Sr. Ruth Marie Behrend, OSU (1950s?)

Postscript. For parts of my adult life, I have worked with the poor, and now the homeless and hungry. I wonder if my experience with my beloved (yet alcoholic) uncles, Dick, Don, and Jack, helped me to see the goodness in such people.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

May 20, 1956. St. William's Church. Euclid, Ohio--First Communion

Fifty-eight years ago today, I made my First Holy Communion at St. William's Church in Euclid, Ohio. The church was on East 260th Street, about 1/3 of a mile south of Lake Erie. These were the years when the World War II vets had their families, and thus the baby boom. So there were lots of us making our First Communion. Here's a wild guess on the numbers: 200-250. I was among the shortest of the kids in my class and I was paired up with Randy Wohlgemuth, 4th in line. Our pastor was Fr. John Fleming, a man gruff on the outside, with a heart of gold and great goodness about him (when my Dad was periodically unemployed, Fr. Fleming paid our utility bills!). The boys wore white shirts and ties (I probably had a clip-on bow-tie). The girls were dressed like brides, with white dresses, white gloves, and a lace veil over their heads. The image would have made the angels weep. I was 7 years old, a month short of my 8th birthday. Everybody was about that age, 7 or 8. This was the halcyon era for children in Euclid, and really all over America. We were very carefully prepared for First Communion by the Ursuline nuns and lay teachers of St. William's. One of the nuns who prepared me was Sr. Ruth Marie Behrend. I have recently come into contact with her nephew, Tim Behrend, who lives in Indonesia and has seen my blog. I believe Sr. Ruth Marie lives at the Ursuline Mother House in Pepper Pike, Ohio. My second grade teacher was Mrs. Bartrum (Bartroom?). I am grateful for these nuns and teachers.

I can't remember too many details of that mass. It must have been a solemn high mass, with glorious singing (most of it in Latin). That was in the pre-Vatican II era, so the congregation didn't participate much. Interaction between the celebrant and the altar boys would have been in Latin. The Gloria and Credo would have been sung in Latin, as would the Preface, the Sanctus, and the Agnus Dei.

I was terrified when I approached the altar rail at communion time. The thought of the living Jesus coming into my mouth in the form of unleavened bread was almost as much as I could take. I thought I would faint or die or maybe rise up into the air (no kidding!). I'm sure other kids were also confused, and in some cases scared. My cousin Tommy Fitzpatrick (who died in Vietnam 13 years later) didn't (or couldn't) swallow the host that day.

After the Communion we had a family party (all our friends were actually relatives, so we were related to everyone at the party). My grandparents and aunts and uncles came to our little house on East 266 Street, and as they arrived, they gave me a card. Inside was a dollar, sometimes two. At the end of the party, I counted up all my loot. I had $18, more money than I had ever seen. At the party the kids drank "Little Toms" and played baseball in the yard. The adults drank beer (a little wine was also available--Tommy and I sampled it), smoked their cigarettes, laughed and told stories.

That was my big day, 58 years ago today. The happiest day of my life.

May 1958--Denny's First Communion. Euclid, Ohio.
The photo above was taken two years later, at my brother Denny's First Communion. The same folks would have been at my First Communion on May 20, 1956. Some of the people shown above: Jerry Fitzpatrick, Kay Coughlin, Grandma Cora Coughlin, Bill Coughlin, Bernice Coughlin Potter, Bill Brock, Grampa Connie Coughlin, Howard Classen, Jack Coughlin, Catherine Fitzpatrick, Maggie Brock, Julia Fitzpatrick Brock. Denny Coughlin is in front of Grampa Coughlin. Jill Potter Charske is in front of Grandma Cora. Annie Potter Anderson is obscured, just to the right of Denny Coughlin. I think Sheila Fitzpatrick is the woman in front, kneeling down. Jeannie Coughlin Struna might be in front of Kay Coughlin and just to the right of Jerry Fitzpatrick

Monday, May 19, 2014

Regina Brett's Column on the Catholic School Teachers' Contract

Regina Brett is one of the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best columnists. In her Sunday column she talked about the morality clauses in the new contract all Catholic grade school teachers must sign in Cleveland (also in Cincinnati and other dioceses).

Click for Regina Brett's Column

Brett begins her column with a question found on billboards sponsored by the group "Voice of the Faithful" around Cincinnati: "Would Pope Francis sign the new teacher contract?" Incredibly, what passes for "morality" in this contract seems to revolve almost totally around an interpretation of one of the commandments, "Thou shallt not commit adultery" (to Catholics the 6th Commandment; to other traditions the 7th). Incredibly, the issue isn't mainly adultery--it's abortion and "embryonic stem cell research, in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, surrogate parenthood, direct sterilization or so-called homosexual or same-sex marriage or unions." Note that it is silent on contraception/birth control, still technically a sin for Catholics, but  a teaching ignored by almost all Catholics (to an astonishing degree). Also note that the contract doesn't mention all the other sins against the poor, the hungry, the homeless; says nothing about violence or war; does not mention the Works of Mercy; does not even get into the central issues of Jesus' life and ministry. 

Teachers are told that they aren't being forced to sign this contract. But if you don't sign, you don't have a job. So most will sign this, many against their wills. Many will cross their fingers, not wanting to repudiate gay friends and family members or friends and family who have had babies with reproductive technologies like in vitro and artificial insemination.

How have so many in my church become so uncharitable and narrow-minded? Where is the spirit of Pope Francis? Where is the spirit of Jesus?

Here is how Regina Brett ends her column:

Would Pope Francis sign the new Catholic teacher contract?
Not the pope who told us, "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" This teaching contract would violate his own moral code.
Will the teachers sign it?
What a miracle it would be for this church if every teacher refused to.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Girdled Road Reservation in Lake County, Ohio

Today we went for a hike in the Girdled Road Reservation, which is in Concord and Leroy Townships, Lake County. What an amazing park, with the beautiful Big Creek, cutting a deep ravine, going over little falls; with a deep, mature woods, dominated by sugar maple, but with gigantic tulip trees, red oaks, beech, cherry, and many other varieties. The forest floor is alive with maybe 15 varieties of wildflowers, one of the best wildflower areas I have found in Northeast Ohio. The hike from the Girdled Road entrance was a challenge to my achy knees, with lots of ups and downs. It felt like I was hiking in Montana or in the Red River Gorge area of Kentucky.
Linda and me

Linda by a small falls on Big Creek


A wild morel mushroom

Lots of horseback riders in Girdled Road!
A gigantic tulip tree fell across Big Creek this past week

Linda on a foot bridge, Girdled Road Reservation

Saturday, May 17, 2014

A Little Poem Written in German

Klara Glaubt an Die Liebe

Sie sagte mir, “Bin nicht wie andere Maedchen,
Denn ich glaube an die Liebe.”
Und so war es,
Demonstriert in ihrem guten Leben:
Liebe, echt, und ewig—
Aber nicht mit mir.
[Bob Coughlin / 19 Mai 2014]

Mid May Flowers in My Yard

Blueberries--lots of blooms!

Still daffodils on May 17th!


Lilies of the Valley
My forsythia didn't bloom this spring (after the bitter-cold winter). But the blueberries are doing fine and the lilacs seem pretty good. My lilies of the valley are doing very well and smell wonderful. I love the smell of spring!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hiking Headwaters Park, East Branch Reservoir in Huntsburg Township

After supper last night I hiked in Headwaters Park on the west side of the East Branch Reservoir. This is where I hiked with my friend Micki Long and one of her friends last February or March and saw bald eagles nesting atop a tall tree. What surprised me was the extent of wildflowers along the trail. Some flowers had already faded (trout lily, for example). But I still saw lots of large-flowered trillium, 3 varieties of violets, foamflower, blue and white phlox, huge fields of skunk cabbage (now with gigantic leaves), mayapple, wild geranium, and some flower varieties I will have to look up. Amish use this park, hitch their buggies, walk the trails, and fish in the lake. The trees are mature and very tall. It's an amazing park--I guess one of the sources of Akron's water supply. Below ar some photos:

The bald eagles' nest is (barely) visible in this photo (on a peninsula in East Branch Reservoir)
Wild geranium amid phlox.

A field of mature skunk cabbage, in a wet area near the lake.

Rue anemone?



Monday, May 12, 2014

Poem for a Spring Night

unexpected grace

mid spring evening, on my porch,
sitting in the dusk in a gentle rain,
robin singing from the red maple,
cardinals calling tree to tree to tree,
spring peepers and other frogs and toads
harmonizing near the brook--

i read a bit from my book
then pick up my guitar
pluck out “Simple Gifts”

the troubles of the world can't be heard
with this wonderful cacophony of birdsong,
peepers, and the patter of rain--

and i, we,

so quietly happy this night

[Bob Coughlin / May 12, 2014]

Sunday, May 11, 2014

NY Times Article Asks, "Would Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Schools Contract?"

A friend sent me this stunning article:

Lessons in Catholic Judgment

Continue reading the main story
“WOULD Pope Francis Sign the New Catholic Teacher Contract?” That’s the question spelled out on a dozen billboards that have gone up around Cincinnati over the last week or so.
And it’s an excellent one, because it flags the tension between what’s been said in Rome and what’s happening in Ohio, between a message of greater tolerance and the practice of the same old intolerance, between the direction in which the Catholic church needs to move and the matters of sexual morality on which it keeps getting stuck.
Those matters take center stage in an expanded employment contract that the Archdiocese of Cincinnati is forcing on more than 2,000 teachers, some of whom are refusing to sign it. In what the document does and doesn’t spell out, it sends the tired message that virtue resides in whom you share your bed with and how you do or don’t procreate.
The more things change, the more they remain mired in libido and loins.
The billboards are sponsored by Cincinnati Voice of the Faithful, which is part of a quickly welling protest of the newly detailed terms of employment.
Credit Ben Wiseman

Teachers in Catholic schools have long been forced to accept a vague morals clause telling them that they shouldn’t contradict Catholic doctrine. But teachers in Catholic schools in the Cincinnati archdiocese are being given a longer, more explicit litany of words and deeds that could get them fired.
The new contract expressly forbids a “homosexual lifestyle” and any “public support” of one. But it says nothing about public support of the death penalty, something else that the church opposes.
The new contract specifically rules out any use or advocacy of abortion rights, surrogacy, even in vitro fertilization. But it doesn’t address possible advocacy of the sorts of bloody military engagements that the church often condemns.
The new contract forbids “living together outside marriage,” “sexual activity out of wedlock” and any public endorsement of either. But there’s no reference to concern for the downtrodden, to the spirit of giving, to charity. And while those are surely more difficult to monitor, aren’t they as essential to Catholic principles, and closer to the core of the faith?
The Cincinnati document could be a harbinger of similar ones around the country. Already, Catholic officials in Hawaii and in Oakland, Calif., have introduced new teacher contracts that reflect the same concerns or delve into the same specifics.
And these specifics contradict what Pope Francis said last year about the church’s undue attention to a handful of divisive social issues.
Remember: Faithful Catholicism has never been a condition of employment in most Catholic schools, which have Protestant teachers, Jewish teachers, teachers of no discernible religion. They know to be respectful. They know to be discreet. But they’re there to decipher the mysteries of algebra, to eradicate the evils of dangling prepositions. They’re not priests.
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati is blurring that distinction, labeling the new employment agreement a “teacher-minister contract.” The language is deliberate. Religious organizations can claim exemption from anti-discrimination statutes in the hiring and firing of ministers who are actual caretakers of the faith. Putting teachers in that category — lumping them together with clergy — is an end run around laws that govern other employers.
Continue reading the main story
But if Catholic schools are allowed an exemption from public accountability, shouldn’t they be denied public money? In Ohio they receive a significant amount of it, in the form of school-choice vouchers that families can use for parochial education.
With the “teacher-minister” classification and the long list of forbidden behaviors, Catholic officials in Cincinnati are trying to insure themselves against lawsuits like one filed by an unmarried female teacher who was fired after she became pregnant by artificial insemination. (A jury awarded her $171,000.) They’re also rationalizing decisions like the dismissal last year of Mike Moroski, a dean who indicated support for same-sex marriage on his blog.
Over recent days I spoke with him and other former and current employees of Catholic schools in the Cincinnati area. They wondered why religion gets to trump free speech.
They also wondered about run-of-the-mill political activity: Can a teacher be canned for attending a rally for a candidate who’s pro-choice? The contract suggests so.
Does a Catholic-school teacher relinquish the basic privileges of citizenship? The contract raises the question.
And what constitutes “public support” of a Catholic no-no? If a teacher’s Facebook page includes photographs of her niece’s same-sex wedding, is that cause to be fired?
“THE previous contract was two pages,” Richard Hague, who has taught literature and writing for 45 years at a Catholic high school in Cincinnati, said to me. “It was sort of don’t-ask-don’t-tell.”
The new contract is six pages and offends him in its suggestion that he must, for example, not express support for gay people in his life. Before it was distributed, Hague, 66, planned to teach for another five years. Now he doesn’t, and explained in a letter to the archdiocese: “I simply cannot believe that Jesus would require me to condemn my friends.”
Hague, who described himself as “a recovering Catholic,” said that his objections were distilled by a priest who told him that the archdiocese was turning “matters of the confessional” into “matters of the firing line.”
Mindy Burger, 63, is also declining to sign the contract, which she called “really misogynistic.”
“If I’m a teacher in a Catholic school and I’m a man, who’s going to know if I’m having sex outside of marriage?” she noted. “But if I’m an unmarried woman and get pregnant, I’m fired.”
These next weeks will be the end of her 18 years as an art teacher at her Catholic elementary school. She attended that very school decades ago and reared her own children as Catholics, but she told me: “At this point, I don’t consider myself Catholic anymore.”
There are so many losers here: kids — many from the inner city — who depend on parochial schools that will now be drained of talent; younger teachers who can’t afford to quit and will carry an embittered attitude into their classrooms; Catholics everywhere, forced to wrestle anew with their church’s archaic fixations; church leaders, who have such a sad knack for driving people away. Isn’t that what Pope Francis was urging an end to?
“I don’t see much in the gospel about sexual stuff,” said Timothy Garry, a lawyer in the Cincinnati area who sent all three of his children to Catholic schools and is trying to persuade the Cincinnati archdiocese to adjust the new contract.
Burger told me: “With Francis, everyone feels so hopeful. That’s one of the ironies of this.”