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Friday, July 23, 2010


My oldest son is named Brian D. McDougall.  He is a professional product-photographer, an artist, an accomplished musician and arranger, and a sound technician, and is married to the beautiful and also multi-talented Nika Garcia.  They live in Miami, Florida.  Yesterday I drove to Boston to meet Bri's plane at Logan Airport, and am thrilled to have him visiting here in New Hampshire for several days.  This morning I dropped him on the Kancamagus Highway at the head of the trail up into the Pemigewasset Wilderness.  Brian intends to hike about twenty miles today, taking photos along the way.  Why did I not walk along?  Well, for one thing, his trail leads up to the summit of Mt. Bond, at 4700 Ft. MSL, whereas my arthritic right hip didn't like my climbing up just two flights of stairs to our apartment in Cluj.  I used to make such White Mountain hikes, though.  My first set of Limmer boots had to be resoled, twice.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Story of St. John the Baptist

I am in Maine, staying with Shirl for a week at the cottage known as Treetops, which belongs to some dear friends of ours. 

Last Saturday, Shirl and I had dinner in Rockland, during which I got a feeling that I may want to go to church the next morning.  (All who know me well will realize that this is not a common urge for me.  But I had a specific prayer I wanted prayed this week, and it seemed appropriate that it be prayed at a church service.)

On Sunday I awoke early, and before leaving the cottage I used our last piece of note paper to write, "Please pray today for fresco artist Mihai Moroşan of Suceava, Romania, and for his wife, who is very ill."  Then I drove back to the same fine cafe in which we had eaten our dinner, to have breakfast at 8:00. 

Thereafter, I went looking for a 9:00 o'clock service.  I was not particular where.  Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Pentacostal, any Christian church seemed fine.  But all that I passed in Rockland had signs indicating that their next service would be at 10:00.  So, I drove into Thomaston.  There I saw on my left a very pretty Episcopal church, with some older folks (like me) exiting it.  One couple was coming across the street in my direction, so I stopped, and rolled down the window.  "I suppose that you have just attended the 8:00 service, and the next is not until 10:00?" I asked.  They smiled, and the gentleman replied, "That's right."  "Do you know of a church with a 9:00 o'clock service?"  "Nope, sorry."
Then I noticed the name of the church: St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church (See their website photo, above). Thinking back to "The Christian Art of Moroşan," a few posts back, I decided to wait, and to attend the next service.  I parked, and went inside.

Now this was the small village of Thomaston on the Maine coast, never a terribly formal place, especially not in the heat and humidity of this July.  So, I was dressed for church in a clean golf shirt and khaki slacks.  The shirt was a little-worn souvenier of my 1998 bike trip with my son Alex to Newfoundland, far to the east in Maritime Canada.  It carried a logo that read, "Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland."

The deaconess of the church, Deborah, a dignified and attractive woman of about my age, had just finished chatting with the last of the 8:00 service-goers.  She looked at me, and we introduced ourselves.  I told her about my encounter with Mihai Moroşan at Putna, two weeks earlier, and showed her the note with my requested prayer.  Deborah said that she would make sure that the prayer was included in the communion service at 10:00.  Then she said, "If you have interest in the Orthodox churches, you should meet our choir director, Tony Antolini.  He has recently converted to Orthodox Christianity."  I told her I would stay for the 10:00 service, and meet him afterwards.  Then Deborah said, "Your shirt interests me.  I didn't know there was a Gros Morne National Park in Canada.  We have a sister parish in Gros Morne, Haiti."

I stayed for church, sang some hymns, wept softly during the communal prayers when Mr. and Mrs. Moroşan's names were mentioned, and took communion.

After the service, I found the organist, Tony, putting on his street shoes in the small room behind the organ.  I introduced myself, and he immediately brightened.  "Yes," he said, "Debby told me you were here.  I wanted to talk with you."

It seems that Tony is also the director of the chorus at Bowdoin College, and of a Maine coastal singing group known as The Rachmaninoff Choir, and that this latter group takes an international performance tour every few years.  They have previously toured in Greece and in Russia.  "The members vote on where to go," Tony said, "and recently they voted to go in 2012 to Romania.  Perhaps you can help us make contacts in Romania, and in the Romanian Church."

I promised to do what I could to help.

[For Search Purposes: Morosan]

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Home Again, Home again, Jiggety-Jig

We arrived uneventfully back in New England on June 30th.  British Airways' service was excellent, as always, and went a long way toward making up for our having to change planes at Heathrow.

When we arrived at Stuttgart Airport at 6:00 AM (can it have been only yesterday?), and went to check our bags, the British Airways agent looked me in the eye and asked, Mr. McDougall, have you lost anything here at Stuttgart?  Having just walked in from the taxi, I said, "I do not believe so," patting my pockets and looking at our bags.  Then he said, "Not today, but perhaps some chocolates or duty-free merchandise?"  "Like a bottle of Bailey's Irish Cream?" I asked.  "We have it for you!" he said, and immediately left his station and walked rapidly across the floor to another British Airways office.  He returned with the 50 Euros worth of gifts we had meant to give to Dietmar and Sabine in Fellbach,  but had overlooked in the overhead bin, and had left on the airplane upon our arrival from London, six weeks earlier.  (Da, da, da, da... .)

I had planned to argue for a waiver of BA's extra bag charge on the grounds that we had paid for Alex's seat, and as he was not flying with us, they should at least grant us his baggage allowance.  Now, I saw the exchange as fair, accepted the long-written-off gifts, and shelled out the 48 Euros without complaint. 

I am not a frequent flyer on British Airways, as I find the long walks and queues at Heathrow to be painful both physically and psychologically.  But I may sign up today.

I will close this post by thanking our European friends for a fine holiday.  It was wonderful to see you all, and we are grateful for your hospitality.  As always, you will be welcome in Campton, New Hampshire.  If you decide to visit here, you will not need a hotel.