Well, I had an exciting week. Tuesday I had a colonoscopy, my first and perhaps only–I won’t go into the trauma except to say I don’t consider myself overly babyish or squeamish but I found the whole really two-day affair to be so seriously invasive that I marvel so many people undergo the procedure again and again!

Wednesday morning I recovered. And Wednesday afternoon I dropped my trusty iphone 5s in the toilet.

Though I instantly fished it out I could see and sense that its time had come. It had been dying for years, severe battery drain, did not work with USB in car so, e.g. could not hear Siri (map directions, Pandora, etc) if phone was charging, and it always had to be charging because in five seconds it could go from 70% to 1% for no apparent reason. And I am going to Oxford, that’s right Oxford, UK, in the spring. So I knew I needed to get a new phone anyway.

That wasn’t so much the drag as was the fact that it turned out I didn’t have icloud or whatever it is turned on so there was no backup. I went and purchased an iphone 8 Thursday morn and began rebuilding my contact list and installing my apps. Which are not insanely plentiful as an iphone5s has 15gb of space which is not much–though I had dealt!

No, none of that was what took up the rest of my day until 12:30 in the morning.

What did was my figuring out how to make customized wallpaper that wasn’t fuzzy.

And moreso, my insistence on downloading a number of bird ringtones to “Sounds & Haptics.” I absolutely cannot function without 1) an aesthetically pleasing home and lock screen and 2) the sound of a Blackbird, Loon, Least Tern or Natal Spurfowl emanating from my “device” to signal an incoming call. Is that too much to ask?

What I learned was that you have to and how to convert an image to hi-res in order for the iphone not to insanely enlarge and thus blur it.

Also for complex and murky reasons known only to God, apple has decreed–well, basically, that you cannot download a customized bird ringtone, or customized ringtone of any kind, without about nine hours of intense work and a crapload of serendipitous luck. (In larger part because when you plug your phone into your laptop and go to itunes 12.7, to which I of course was prompted to upgrade the instant I logged on), apple will now for the most part not open the supposedly shared apps. Somehow after downloading about 8 birdsong apps, a couple of them snuck through. (I also learned how to convert an mp3 to an m4a with the ACC file converter, etc. though in fact that wasn’t much help).

It is really somewhat of a miracle, I must say, and I would have no idea how to repeat the feat, that I now have a number of bird calls on my phone I can choose from, including but not limited to the Lapwing, Merganser, Northern Flicker and Owl Hoot.  I just can’t bear the corporate, hokey, robotic, etiolated sounds installed on the device and that they expect us to suffer for the life of the phone. My God, people, let’s have some class!

Anyway, PSA, in the course of my research, I also found a wonderful app called Dawn Chorus. This is put out by  Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Musuem of Natural History and allow you to make a customized alarm of up to five of the provided birdcalls. “As the melodies gently wake you, the app displays softly painted renditions of the birds by Sam Ticknor, an artist with The Studio.” Now we’re talking! The whole thing has a soothing, old-timey Audabon feel to it that couldn’t be more decent, just, appropriate, true, and right.

If only the whole world were run along such lines.

Meanwhile my home and lock screens again now both feature paintings by Ralph Albert Blakelock (1847-1919) who was known for his “recognizable silhouettes of lace-like trees against a silvery, glowing moonlit sky” and died in an insane asylum.



  1. Oh, dear! I own an iPhone 5s. Now I know what’s in store for the future.

    Regarding colonoscopies, I’ve lost count of the number I’ve had. Ugh ��. However, when I had my first, they found stage 3 colon cancer. I didn’t really know the stage until after surgery. Thankfully, I’m still alive and well, but with less of a colon. Nevertheless, I’d rather be dead than have yet another colonoscopy. It’s the prep that’s the killer.

    1. It wouldn't have been so bad except that because the phone was destroyed I had no backup and thus had to start from scratch–all's well now and I am forming a relationship with my new phone. Omg, they found Stage 3 cancer–that was one of my huge fears…it's just an impossible task sometimes, being a human being. I'm so glad you're okay now…

  2. Oxford, UK??!! When will you be here and can we meet?! I haven't commented for ages…I still read your blog posts and am always inspired and/or calmed when I read your words. They truly are balm to my soul. Thank you for continuing to give so much of yourself, in faith.

    1. Lizzie, I just looked at my old emails to refresh my did a retreat at St. Bueno's?! I'll be in Oxford fist week in June and will be staying adjacent to Port Meadow which I know is huge so that may not help much. But within walking distance of downtown. Just learned my hostess is taking me to Gifford Circus while I'm there! Email me and we'll figure out a place to meet if you can make it there from London…blessed Lent.

    2. Yes, that's me. I will email – it's very easy to get Oxford from London (especially by American standards!) xxx

  3. So many colonoscopy memories: I can remember one of my former students being the attending nurse–embarrassing for about 5 seconds. And then ulcerative colitis! Knowing every bathroom at every restaurant, how many stalls; always driving with a towel folded under me at the wheel; so many times having to wash pants after the 'accidents.' All over now due to wonderful meds! It was very humiliating…and that's a good thing. In my case, at least.

    1. Fr. Pat, oh the suffering! I'm so glad that's over…I feel one colonoscopy per life is more than enough. Have been thinking of you lately–sending love to you and Monterey.


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