Paragraph in “Neighbors”

A ringer noted that the paragraph written up and submitted by Nancy appeared in the Miami Herald’s “Neighbors” section on Thursday.

RING MY BELL! Seeking volunteers to join the Miami band of ringers.  Learn the timeless art of bronze steeple bell “change ringing” at the bell tower on the grounds of the historic Trinity Cathedral-on-the-bay, by the Adrienne Arscht Center.  All ages welcome.  Students earn community service hours. Truly an exercise in joy to last a lifetime. More info: 305-374-3372;

New light bulb over the stairs

Jim replaced the burnt-out bulb over the stairs.  The new bulb is rated for 5000 hours, though as Jim noted “we’ll see” whether that is borne out in practice.  With the change in seasons, it is now often dark by the end of practice and a light is necessary.

Practice · 2012Aug29We

Nine ringers:  Anne, Barbara, Eoin, Jim, Jody, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Thomas.  1234567 were raised at Early Practice, and Barbara raised the 8.  Eileen, the reporter from the Miami Herald who came to Early Practice, talked with ringers and took photographs.

With six senior ringers present we could do some things that are normally out of reach.

  • Rounds on Eight:  the six senior ringers, plus the junior ringers rotating in two at a time.  We got some good, even rounds in from time to time, with several stretches of quite creditable striking.
  • Rounds on the heavy six 345678:  five senior ringers and the junior ringers rotated in one at a time, with a senior ringer standing behind.  There was very little for the ringer standing behind to suggest, as each ringer knew what they should be doing and (when off) what was wrong;  it appeared to be only a question of making it happen.
  • Plain Hunt on Four with two covers:  one senior ringer standing behind, and junior ringers rotated in one at a time as one of the covers.  Ringing on the heavy bells forces the ringers to use correct technique, for example in moving up or down the tail when hunting in or out.  Having a ringer stand behind is a luxury we can rarely enjoy;  in this case, the ringer standing behind could offer focused suggestions on moving up on down the tail (and catching higher or lower) when hunting in and out, along with when to pull with more and less oomph, in order to hunt in and out accurately.  Jody and Judy improved their hunting during this stretch, and Ken made his second blow at the back more accurate.  By the end of this segment the plain hunting was audibly more accurate.
  • Rounds on Eight again, celebrating the simple fact that we had enough ringers for all eight bells.
  • Rang down in grand cacophony.

Some of the band adjourned to a nearby “pub”.

Early Practice · 2012Aug29We

Three ringers:  Anne, Judy, Thomas.  We raised 1234567, with Anne raising most of them.

Eileen, a reporter from the Miami Herald, visited and took notes and photographs.  We took her up to see the bells, then ran her through the first part of the ringing course so she could see what ringing is like first hand.  Anne and Judy acted as her teachers and brought her through the safety section, the various preparatory exercises, pulling off, and backstroke alone.  We were happy to see her react with delight, as most first-time ringers do.  Anne and Judy did well teaching her, and she did well with ringing.  She would be welcome at the ringing course September 15/22 and is off to a good start if she decides to continue.

Tower OK after tropical storm

The bell tower came through the storm with minor damage.  The bells and mechanism were unaffected.

  • Power is out in the Cathedral area as of early Tuesday morning;  the stoplight at 15th Street and Bayside Drive is dark.  A generator on the patio is powering the workmen’s tools in the sanctuary.  Update:  Power was restored a little before 1pm.
  • As far as can be determined with a flashlight (later confirmed under brighter lights after power was restored), the bells were not affected.  There is no sign of water in the bell chamber.  The floor of the bell chamber is dry to the touch.
  • The floor of the intermediate chamber is damp from water blowing in the drainpipes, but there is no standing water and no damage evident.
  • The ringing chamber windows leaked as they usually do during a rain, and the plasterboard walls around the spiral staircase are sodden.  There is no evident damage in the ringing chamber itself.
  • Water came in under the tower door threshold during the storm, and the lower level of the tower is wet to damp.

Service ringing · 2012Aug26Su

Four resolute ringers braved the wind and rain:  Jody, Judy, Nancy, Thomas.  We raised 1234.  The ropes were very stiff from the moisture in the air, but loosened up a bit after we started ringing.

The tower air conditioner was not working.  Jim said the rain had shorted the circuit breaker.  We opened two of the ringing chamber windows a few inches for ventilation, and took down everything hanging loose on the walls (like the “Look to — Treble’s going — She’s gone” sign) because most of it blew off the hooks immediately anyway.  We did not open the tower’s sound louvers due to the heavy wind and rain.

  • Rounds on Four.
  • Places on 2-3 and 1-2, standing from time to time and rotating ringers to different places so several could lead.  Nancy tenored throughout.  The striking improved notably as we worked on making 1324 or 2134 as even as 1234 (and on making 1234 even).
  • Rang down in grand cacophony.  We ended up in rounds at the bottom so we rounded off with 3-2-1-miss-chime as if we had rung down in peal.

The bell chamber was dry as a bone.  Water had been coming in above in quantity, because the rust dust that had settled out from previous lighter rains had been moved closer to the awning’s exit, and some larger rust flakes (up to ¼” or 6mm) were visible.  The bell chamber floor was dry to the touch and no water was visible on the frame, bells, or mechanism.

We closed everything back up tight before we left.  All bells were rung down, as always.

Bells keeping dry so far

The rain awning over the bells is keeping the bells dry so far, despite the storms associated with tropical storm Isaac.  No moisture was visible or palpable anywhere on the bells or mechanism.

This much rain typically left most of the bells, wheels, stays, and frame wet, with up to ¼” (6mm) of water standing on the bell chamber floor.  At noon today the floor was dry to the touch, as shown by the photo of the floor under the 2.

Extra Practice · 2012Aug24Fr

Two ringers:  Nancy, Thomas.  Nancy worked on ringing form, with the primary goal of keeping the loop of rope from swaying out as she makes the catch, and on raising and lowering.  When she has no distractions and is paying attention, the loop no longer sways out.  She achieved this by reducing the horizontal component of the motions of her hands:

  1. Lean forward slightly from the hips so that at the top of each stroke, the hands aren’t back toward the ringer out of the line of the rope.
  2. “Wring” the rope or sally in the hands, twist the forearms slightly, and roll the shoulders back and down as the hands descend, to help keep the hands in a vertical line rather than throwing out in a wood-chopping motion.
  3. At the bottom of the stroke, don’t pull the hands in toward the body;  instead, aim them at a spot on the floor a foot or so in front of the ringer’s feet, flipping the wrists toward that spot.
  4. (After the backstroke and before the handstroke) On the way up for the catch, keep the hands together and just on the back side of the rope and sally.  Don’t let the hands go beyond the line of the rope and then come back to make the catch.

First Wednesday practice · 2012Aug22We

Nine ringers:  Anne, Barbara, Eoin, Jim, Judy, Ken, Marguerite, Nancy, Thomas.  Carroll, back from her summer, attended but did not ring.  Future ringer Liam quietly entertained himself during the practice.  This was our first practice on the new Wednesday schedule, after having had practice on Tuesday nights for many years, and it was a pleasure to see that the new day allows more ringers to attend.

The front six (123456) were raised at Early Practice, then Eoin and Barbara raised the 7 and 8 when they arrived.  This was Barbara’s first time raising the 8 unassisted.  We had been ringing Rounds and Call Changes at Early Practice, and this segued into the regular practice, adding ringers as they arrived.

  • Rounds and Call Changes on Five.
  • Rounds and Call Change on Six.  For the latter part of this, Eoin and Barbara were raising the 7 and 8, making it difficult to hear the bells strike, but in fact the striking was better during this time when we were ringing by eye.  We don’t know what this means but presumably we can learn from it to improve our striking in the future.
  • Rounds on Eight, with various permutations of the nine ringers present.  The striking was often not good, unfortunately, and the frequent clashes made it difficult to hear what was going on, particularly when the heavy bells clashed.  We rang a handful of strokes in perfect rounds, but never twice in a row.  There were long stretches during which the light four were accurately struck, and then during which the heavy four were accurately struck—kudos to those groups of ringers—but these stretches did not overlap.
  • Rounds on Six on the heavy six (345678), with the five senior ringers throughout and rotating in each junior ringer on the 6.
  • Plain Hunt on Five with tenor behind, on the heavy six, rotating in junior ringers to tenor.  The working bells could make it through a single lead but accumulated errors knocked the band to bits in the next lead.  In general the working bells were spreading out, incorrectly, with the bells coming down to the front doing so too slowly, and the bells going out to the back crashing beyond 5ths place into the tenor.  Some if not all of the senior ringers have this issue on the lighter bells, too, but the heavier bells are more demanding in the sense of requiring the ringer to plan ahead, pull for the next blow, and move up and down the tail, and in this area the band is weak.  Eventually this overlapped too many bells not on the same stroke, and the band fell apart.
  • Rang down in grand cacophony.

After practice the band held a tower meeting to discuss plans for moving forward.

Early Practice · 2012Aug22We

Three ringers:  Anne, Nancy, Thomas.  Carroll, returned from her summer, observed.

  • Anne worked on keeping the loop from swaying out after her catch, and made good progress.  She is usually able to control it if that is the only thing she is concentrating on, but when ringing in a group there are other distractions and it comes back.  We are putting her on the left of all the ringers meanwhile for safety’s sake.
  • Call Changes on three bells.  It’s one thing to know how Call Changes work in theory, and to be able to zip through them using the practice program, but it’s a different challenge to do them while you are controlling a bell.  We’ll continue to work on this.

Carroll assisted during the call changes by keeping the tower’s bell number visual aids in the current bell sequence.