Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Beyond the Door

Update: my follow-up to this entry was posted late Sunday evening.

Note:  I looked at this entry briefly at work today, and all the pictures were too dark.  Why didn't anybody mention this?  See, my laptop shows everything lighter than desktop computers usually do, and now that I've changed jobs I don't correct the problem at work the next day.  Tonight I lightened a bunch of recent pictures and uploaded them again.  I hope that's better for everyone!  Oh, and while I'm at it, I'm going to swap out one or two of these photos for better shots, and update the links at the end. - Karen

There goes the bride--at least in theoryJust a moment to explore
What goes on beyond the door
That will bruise our hearts no more
Than moonlight passing through a window
--sung by Scott Bakula in Romance/Romance (1988)

Round Robin Photo Challenge:  Mysterious Doors

I didn't have a particular door in mind when I suggested this topic to our merry Robins.  But the doors I seem to pass most often without ever going in are at St. Michael's.  This one, for example, the one to the Bride's Room, is mysterious in a couple of ways.  What's inside that a bride needs before a wedding?  Why is there no "groom's room?"  More important, going through that door means that one is about to embark on the much greater mystery of married life itself.

I've never been through that door.  There could be anything in there.  But I imagine that it's basically a dressing room.  There was nothing like that at St. Patrick's in Syracuse when I married John--not that I recall, anyway.

THE mysterious doorBut for me the main mystery door at St. Michael's is just to the right of the main ones that lead into the church itself.  It's usually locked and barred, but not on Sunday mornings. Just as Mass begins, Proscovia or someone else opens it and pulls on one of the two ropes inside, setting off the (probably electric) church bells.  I always wondered whether there was a real bell pull, or just a button to push.  And was the space beyond the door just a closet-sized chamber with the bell controls in it, or something more?  It didn't look as if there could be room for more than the bell mechanism, whatever it might be, and maybe a broom or something.  Oh, and a fire extinguisher.  The red and white sticker in the window says, "Fire exinguisher inside."  I don't know how you'd get to that fire extinguisher in a hurry, except when the door is unlocked for Mass.  That makes sense, though, because that's when acolytes and deacons and priests are playing with matches, carrying candles and burning too much incense.

Well, on Sunday, May 22nd, totally by accident, I found out what else was beyond that mysterious door.  And it was much more than I could have imagined.

It happened like this.  That afternoon, a nationally-recognized organist named Todd Wilson was going to play a concert on the church's Æolian-Skinner pipe organ.  This pipe organ rededication performance was to celebrate the fact that the antiphonal section of the organ (the part in the back loft of the church) has been installed by the organ builder and is now operational. 

I'd been seeing those shiny copper-colored pipes for months, and had tried repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) to get a good picture of them.  It's hard to get a good angle on the "choir loft" (except that the choir never goes up there, as far as I know!) from ground level in the rather dark church.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that I couldn't make the concert, but I wanted to get a picture of Todd Wilson for the church web site.  So I left coffee hour and Eva's gingerbread and went back into the church.  Wilson was warming up with a truly glorious and complex piece that reminded me of a (much simpler) Christmas song I sang in choir many years ago. 

I waited a few feet away in an empty pew of the almost empty church until he finished playing.  As he played, another man was walking around, checking the openings to the main banks of organ pipes, adjusting doors and the evaporative cooler to control heat and humidity--in short, tweaking.  This was the organ builder, Grahame Davis. He's important to the rest of this story, and deserves recognition for his work.  

When Mr. Wilson finished his organ solo, I introduced myself as the church webmaster and asked to take a photo of him for the church blog.  He recognized me from Mass (I got to read Genesis, Chapter One on Sunday) and graciously posed for me.  He's a very nice man, and clearly very talented and dedicated to his craft. 

As we chatted about the organ, I mentioned that I'd been trying unsuccessfully to get a good picture of the pipes in the loft.  Wilson immediately suggested that I go up and get a closer look at them!  The organ builder agreed, and immediately took me off on a private tour. And guess how that tour started?  Yup: he led me through the mysterious door to the right of the church entrance!


From there we went up narrow wooden steps to the loft where the new Antiphonal division of the organ was installed.  From the back of the loft, there's not much to see, at least under normal circumstances.  Most of the pipes are housed in a big wooden box structure, called a cabinet. Grahame Davis explained that this was to help mute the powerful pipes within, so that they can be played softly and still have the proper tone and pitch.  When the organist (usually Jane Haman, our choir director) wants to play them more loudly, foot pedals can be used to open wooden flaps behind and between the pipes, letting more of the sound out.  The builder opened a couple of doors, one in the back and one on the side, and I took a bunch of pictures of this hidden treasure. 

Inside the antiphonal section.  Inside the antiphonal section.

When I came around to the front of the pretty copper ones, I got to hear at least one of them, up close and personal!

This is the part that can be seen from the church.  But not at this angle!

The last of the interior pictures is of the upper door to the loft, and the completely unimpressive room beyond it.  If you didn't pay attention to that long duct-like pipe thing on the floor, and the giant wooden box thing on the right, you wouldn't know there was anything special here.

Inside the antiphonal section.

I didn't take a picture of the tiny room where the bell pulls are.  I forgot / didn't have time. Besides, we should preserve a few mysteries!


the door to the second floor - but how would you get to it?Now, the main reason I never knew that door went up to the loft was that I always assumed that this other external door was the way up to the choir loft (except that the choir never goes up to the loft).  This door is on a balcony above the main double doors.  I don't know how you would even get up to this door to go through it.  Perhaps a ladder?  And if you do, I'm still not sure what you'd find on the other side.  I didn't see that door from inside the loft.  Maybe it's where the bells are.  Or maybe I just didn't notice it. Either way, the mystery of the upper door remains unresolved. I could always ask Father Smith, but where's the fun in that?

And now my story is all told. - Dr. Seuss, in One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish

Now go look at everyone else's mysterious doors:

Carly (OndineMonet) Ellipsis - posted!

Duane (fdtate714) Sotto Voce - posted!

Steven (sepintx) (sometimes) photoblog - posted!

Betty (rap4143) My Day My Interests - posted!

Amy (babyshark28) substance; or lack of - posted!

Mary (alphawoman1) Alphawoman's blog - posted!

Dawn (AuburnDawn) Dawns Drivel - posted!

Kat (mskatdabrat) From Every Angle - posted!

Robbie (krobbie67) Robbie's Ruminations - NEW!

Michael (madmanadhd) Confessions of a Madman...  - NEW!

Monica (photographybymon) Mamarazzi - NEW! - and 2ND ENTRY!

Patrick (pattboy92) A Stop at Willoughby - NEW!

Aunt Nub (montaukny) Aunt Nub's Empty Head - NEW!

And me, I'm


but you already know that, don't you?  Have fun!


ondinemonet said...

Karen :)

Now see this is what I mean...YOU are impressive! This entry is impressive! VERY well done indeed! Wonderful!

Always, Carly :)

babyshark28 said...

very good!
I liked you took us through a mysterious door than took pictures along the way as the mysteries were unfolded for you.
very nice!

ryanagi said...

Very cool behind-the-scenes look at your church's organ! I've sat her for several minutes trying to think of a "mystery door" and the only one I could think of was the door to my MIL's basement. LOL I've never been down there and have NO desire to do so. It's a very low ceiling, rotting steps and partially earthen...dank and nasty from what John has told me.

mkolasa101 said...

Now this was fun and it was wonderful and informative and I just enjoyed it so much.  Love those pipe-organs and your link to information on them.  Wow, you are indeed talented.  Bravo, bravo, bravo.  Don't mind me, I'm just so impressed.


sunflowerkat321 said...

Wow...what a story.  And fascinating photos of the organ. We definately got our money's worth at THIS entry....

fdtate714 said...

Ooh!  Great entry.  The mystery of the mysterious doorway is solved.  Some great behind the scenes shots of the pipe organ.  Now, you need to get a peek inside of the Bride's Room and see what goes on in there.

sunnyside46 said...

I am glad I found your journal

auburndawn said...

Great quote...  love that one, gotta write it down.  ;)  Great doors too... 'specially the second one.  Nice journal...  my first visit...  see ya again soon.  :)

lurkynat said...

Wowsers!:):):) ..I thought that the bride door was hot until I found the church bell and incense door! Gee Karin you could make a mini novel from these comments and the wonderful pictures! Thanks

photographybymon said...

I came by way of Carly - I'm checking out all the mysterious doors of life.  This was great - enjoyed seeing the inside of the organ - beautiful.  One mystery solved.


fisherkristina said...

Very neat entry! -Krissy

krobbie67 said...

Great story and great pictures! From the looks of it, it appears that your church is one of the old mission types. I bet there is a lot of history to be revealed. Not many churches use the old organ systems. Very beautiful, I bet.
:-) ---Robbie

pattboy92 said...

Looks like a fascinating place to explore!  I tried my hand at a mysterious door I'd run across and posted it at my alternate journal: