18 April 2010


The Gospel at Mass today (Sunday 18 April) was from the 21st chapter of John.  In it, Jesus, after asking Peter if he loves Jesus, says:
Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.  Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”
Father Peter expounded a bit on the sometimes-upsetting way in which the unexpected can come into our lives, with consequent effects on our plans - and on the fact that these, too, are a part of God's Providence, just as much as the time that things seemed to work together to help us achieve those plans.

This rather resonated with me at present.

No, I do not suppose that the loss of control of my lower lip is likely to lead to my martyrdom - and the Gospel tells us that is what Jesus was alluding to in Peter's case.  Nevertheless, I find my depth of emotion rather striking as I contemplate the possibility that - with that quite unexpected accident - my horn-playing days may, indeed, be over.

Or maybe not.

The accident was less than three weeks ago (it happened on 30 March).  Minor injuries from it (a scratch here, a bruise there) are all but healed.  The centre of the lower lip is still numb.  When I try to play the horn my tone is unstable and my range limited.  There is a horizontal ridge of scar tissue (where, I suppose, my teeth cut into the lip).  But it is very early days yet.

I have told the orchestra people that they must not count on me for the June concert.  They are trying to find a substitute now.  If I can, I want to be what is called a 'bumper' - a person who plays the same part as the first horn in order to relieve the first player of having to play really loud in some parts, and things like that.

My concern is that - even if my control returns eventually - if the time is too long, they will have found it necessary to replace me.  There is little likelihood of my playing in any other orchestra around, because of time and venue issues.  And if I am unable to play for, say, six months, it is going to take quite some time to get back into shape.  We shall see.

So I found Father's homily on the effect of the unexpected interruption in our lives to be quite ... intriguing :-)

The accident has had an additional effect, which is not all bad.  Two effects, actually.

First, when I explained to our insurer how the accident had happened - and that I had been using the 'van to deliver Susan's papers - they raised a red flag immediately: commercial use.  Thankfully, they accepted the claim, since I didn't know at the time that would be an issue, and because at the time of the accident I had actually abandoned the paper run and was trying to get home.  But we have had to change the cover.  The cost is twice what it was - and the coverage is more limited (market value rather than replacement cost).  Never mind!  It is a good thing to get this straight.  It could have had dire consequences in other circumstances.

Second, of course, we have had to replace the 'van.  That has been something that has been looming for some time.  The written-off 'van was a 1989 Toyota TownAce (that's not the car itself, but that's what it looked like).  Its days were numbered.  Rust was threatening to be a problem with the Warrant of Fitness.  Other things were showing up.

We have had to borrow significantly, but I knew that would happen.  We are now the owners of a 2000 Toyota Estima (again, that's someone else's car).  When the dealer suggested it to me on the 'phone, I misunderstood the model - I admit I was a bit surprised.  I hadn't known they were still making them :-)  This is the newest car we have ever owned!

I am back to work tomorrow, after a very eventful three and half weeks.  I look forward to a rest :-)

06 April 2010

Lips and prayer

I had the stitches out yesterday.  My lower lip is still numb.  I wrote the paragraph below to a couple of professional horn players on the web:
A week ago today - that is, on Tuesday the 30th of March - I was in a car accident. I was not seriously injured, *except* that my lower lip was smashed against the steering wheel, pushing my lower teeth into it. My teeth are all right. The car wasn't moving very fast when the crash happened.

I have no doubt it will heal - but the whole centre of the lower lip, down almost to the base of the gums, is very numb. When I try to play the horn, I have a very bad tone and no high notes (above about 3rd-space C), and not much control.

I will see a doctor for advice, but my fear is that a nerve has been permanently damaged. Does that sound likely? If so, I suppose I will not be playing the horn again :-(

Have you any advice?
I do fervently pray that the thing will fix itself.  If it does not, then I think that will be the end of horn-playing.  If so - well, God has given me 20 wonderful years playing the horn as an adult (I started again in 1990).  If now is the end, it had to end sometime.  But I pray, and ask your prayers, that it will come right.

I had a wonderful time up north in Helensville, with Eddie and Eveline, and also with Marko and Rachel.  The Easter Triduum at Holy Family Parish in Te Atatu, with Robbie doing the music, was perfect.  This week Friday, the 9th, Susan comes home.  Next week-end we will be at the Eucharistic Convention.  One more week's leave after that, and then back to work.

Do please pray.

01 April 2010

Yet more answers to prayer!

Thank you, all of you have been praying.  I had never considered there might be some issue with the insurance.  When I explained that I had been delivering newspapers, the red flag went up: commercial use.

There ensued 24 hours of waiting.  I explained to them that I had not known there was a problem with our using it twice a week for paper deliveries - it was just our family car.  They would get back to me tomorrow (today).

They did.  They will cover it, since the accident had nothing to do with the paper deliveries per se, and I had not know about the restriction - but I will have to get it covered commercially.

Thank God for the coverage.  The value of the car isn't much, but 3rd party - what Americans call liability insurance - could have been a real problem.  I have just negotiated the new coverage.  It will be about twice as expensive - but Susan will be able to deduct it from her income tax, so that will help a bit (not much; her tax rate is pretty low).

All of this comes from the fact, some years ago, that the paper Susan delivers - the Franklin County News - was bought by the monster Fairfax company (which I think is part of the Rupert Murdoch empire, but maybe not; maybe that's the competition).  Fairfax changed all its paper deliverers - mostly children - from being casual employees to being contractors.  The result is that Fairfax doesn't need to pay sick leave, ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) levies, nor bear any liability for work-related issues.

Most deliverers don't have to use a vehicle so I suppose this wouldn't have made any difference to Susan.  But the insurer tried to sell us personal liability insurance (not vehicle 3rd party; that's covered in the policy).

Sigh!  This business of being a contractor has been a real pain.  Anyway, the crash is covered.  Thank God and thank all of you for praying.

This evening I am heading up north to Helensville for the Triduum.  Robbie Loretz's group is doing the music for the Triduum at Holy Family Parish in Te Atatu Peninsula and I am going to make it a mini-retreat - spend some time also with Eddie and family, see Marko, etc.

I just wanted to let you all know the good news.  You might still pray for my lower lip.  Still numb.  Very concerning.