Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paper Whites

This morning, the buds were still closed, and by afternoon 3 had opened.  A beautiful example of how quickly things can change.
Thank you April!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Jasper Says,

"When I grow up, I will be a hippie and call Eric to smoke the peace pipe."

We went sledding today, and Jasper got a bloody snow burn.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Alabama Public Television

The kids and I are "in" this documentary about Shape Note Singing.  Which means that you can see small parts of us throughout.
Alabama Public Television

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bye Bye Trampoline

We have a leaky roof and had the insurance adjuster come to check for storm damage.  He was very friendly and asked many personal questions.  He told me what he took pictures of and how they determine
storm damage.  The next day, we received notice that our backyard trampoline was a violation of our homeowner's policy.  At some point, it would have been helpful to hear, "i took a picture of your trampoline as well, you receive notice of the violation tomorrow."

So today is the last day of operation.  It was fun while it lasted!

Oh, and there wasn't any storm damage.  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Brief Shape Note History

The kids and i had to give a family presentation last week for Classical Conversations.  So we told our classmates a bit about shape note singing.

Shape note singing, also known as Sacred Harp, is an early American music that has roots in 16th century Europe.

The English used a four-note system centuries ago, but did not use different shapes.
When colonists came to America, they brought their traditions with them.
And soon, Shape Note Singing evolved and was being used to teach church congregations how to sing. Nearly everyone in early America, learned to read music using a system of shaped notes. Many well known hymns, were written as Shape Note Songs.
In the early 1800's, soon after our nation won its independence, Shape Note Singing was slowly driven from its first home in New England by people who considered it too raw and coarse, preferring refined European music.
But shape-note singing took root in the rural South and the lower Midwest, where it continued to flourish.

Many changes took place after the Civil War, and Shape Note Singing declined to the point of being considered extinct. But in 1935, it was revealed that thousands of traditional singers were still flourishing in the southern mountains.

In recent years, Shape Note Singing has enjoyed a revival in its old territories, including New England and Europe.

Sacred Harp music is divided into 4 parts: treble, alto, tenor, and bass. Singers sit in a hollow square with each part taking a side and facing the center.
The song leader stands in the center and beats time while facing the tenor section. The hand and arm motions are a traditional way of keeping time.
Everyone leads a song, and before singing the words to the song, we “sing the notes' by singing the syllables of the shapes.


And then we led 209 Evening Shade.  
But instead, i leave you with my outhouse video. During the Labor Day Sing, i came out of the outhouse and the sound seemed so beautiful wafting from the old windows.  So although the quality of camera and filming is poor, it adds to the "raw and coarse" sound that people either love or hate.  

Windridge and the 2 Henry's

What i should be doing is laundry.  Last week's laundry is still sitting in the chair, and this week's laundry is about to join it there.
But, instead i need to encourage myself by revisiting the silent retreat i took over the weekend. Being in a quiet, stress-free, beautiful place makes everything seem possible.  And then, it is back to the difficult and mundane cycle of life.
I read a book by Henri Nouwen, called Reaching Out: The Three Movements Of The Spiritual Life.
He starts out by talking about loneliness and keep in mind that this book was written in 1975.  That makes it ever more delightful.

"Loneliness is one the most universal human experiences, but our contemporary Western society has heightened the awareness of our loneliness to an unusual degree...
The contemporary society in which we find ourselves makes us acutely aware of our loneliness.  We become increasingly aware that we are living in a world where even the most intimate relationships have become part of competition and rivalry..."

He goes on to talk about the difference between loneliness and solitude and why solitude is important.

"Too often we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone...
Our culture has become most sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain, but our emotional and mental pain as well.  We have become so used to this state of anesthesia that we panic when there is nothing or nobody left to distract us, when we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no TV to watch, no record to play...
And when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all.  John Lennon says, 'Feel your own pain,' but how hard that is!"

Even in the 1800's, Henry David Thoreau understood the importance of solitude.  Sometimes we idealize times past as simpler, and in many ways they were.  But in the quote, he shows us how similar we all are and always have been.
He writes,

"When our life ceases to be inward and private, conversation denigrates into mere gossip.  We rarely meet a man who can tell us any news which he has not read in a newspaper, or been told by his neighbor; and, for the most part, the only difference between us and our fellow is that he has seen the newspaper or been out to tea, and we have not.  In proportion, as our inward life fails, we go more constantly and desperately to the post office.  You may depend on it, that the poor fellow who walks away with the greatest number of letters proud of his extensive correspondence has not heard from himself this long while."

Solitude is more than just being alone.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

First Egg

It has been happening for a few weeks now, but each morning is the same.  The kids squabble over who gets to open the egg door, take the egg out and carry it inside.
I am sure this will not carry into winter.

Cabin Goodbyes

We went down to the cabin to say goodbye to an old friend.  He always has an impossible story to tell that is true but never seems like it should be.
While we were there, the kids caught monster fish and we found monster black widows.  All in all a good but sad day.  We will miss Eric and Shirley in Missouri!

Michigan 2013

I know i have many readers out there that expect Real Time Powell News. I am sorry that i cannot provide that to you.
Several months ago, we went to Michigan and had a lovely time.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A Love That Forgives

In a city once known as "Bombingham", Birmingham is still subtly divided.
It has been 50 years since members of the KKK bombed the 16th street Baptist Church, killing Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, Cynthia Wesley, and Addie Mae Collins.
The day after the bombing, a young white lawyer named Chuck Morgan was scheduled to address his peers.  In that speech, were these scathing words,
"Who threw that bomb?  The answer should be, we all did it...it's every little individual who talks about 'the niggers' and spreads the seeds of his hate to his neighbor and son. "
Threats ensued, and 2 weeks later, he fled with his family in the cover of night.  He did what too many whites did not do.  He did what too many people still do not do.
The pastor didn't have a chance to preach it, but the title of the sermon that morning was, "A Love That Forgives".  I think of the parents and siblings of these little girls and wonder if they forgave such evil hatred.
Impossible on your own.
Sarah Collins Rudolph, Addie Mae's younger sister, was injured in the blast.  She spent months in the hospital and lost her right eye.  She says she feels no bitterness, "Being bitter won't bring the girls back, won't bring my sight back. So i had to forgive because it was what God wanted me to do."


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Taum Sauk Mountain

Taum Sauk Mountain rises to the highest point in Missouri at 1,772 feet.  These are short yet, ancient mountains.

Mina Sauk Falls, which can be reached  halfway through a 3 mile loop trail, drops 132 feet down rocky ledges. The waterfall wasn't falling, due to dry conditions.  I look forward to going back when it is wet.

A portion of Mina Sauk Trail is also the Ozark Trail, which is more than 350 miles long.  Eventually it will run from St Louis area to Arkansas, connecting to the Ozark Highland Trail.
This trail was perfect for our family.  Even though it is rugged, i was surprised by how well the kids did.  On this particular day, we made an impromptu trip south because the weather said so.  This summer has been a beauty!

Bigger Chickens

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Happy 9th Birthday To Jasper!!

I am behind...    Happy birthday to Jasper!  You are so old, you no longer draw on yourself.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Objects That Fly Through Space

I cannot seem to remember the difference between asteroids, comets, meteors, meteorites, and meteoroids.
No matter how much we read and study, i always have to look it up again.

I did end up setting the alarm for 2 A.M. for the meteor shower.  Despite our careful efforts not to make the motion light go off, someone wasn't in a straight line.  We had to wait 15 minutes for the light to go back off and then another 20 to let our eyes adjust.  (Why doesn't it have a switch anywhere?)
So we cuddled up on the wet trampoline and some people fussed.  But we all saw several shooting stars and i am thankful that i got up when the jarring noise woke me.  
It is amazing how much you can see in the middle of the city.  I think it is because there are so many vacant houses nearby.  Looking on the bright side.

So here is a chart from NASA.

Summary Table

AsteroidA relatively small, inactive, rocky body orbiting the Sun.
CometA relatively small, at times active, object whose ices can vaporize in sunlight forming an atmosphere (coma) of dust and gas and, sometimes, a tail of dust and/or gas.
MeteoroidA small particle from a comet or asteroid orbiting the Sun.
MeteorThe light phenomena which results when a meteoroid enters the Earth's atmosphere and vaporizes; a shooting star.
MeteoriteA meteoroid that survives its passage through the Earth's atmosphere and lands upon the Earth's surface.

Perseid Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower peaks tonight and tomorrow night.  I saw one shooting star last night, so i hope to wake the kids up and go out on the trampoline to see up to 100 per hour.  We wouldn't see that many here in the city, but seeing 1 in the city is pretty special to me.

For people who don't want to go outside, you can watch it live.

Summertime Hike/LaBarque

This perfectly white rock was in a mass of perfectly black rocks.  I am not sure if someone pulled an Andy Goldsworthy or if it was my lucky day, but it was stunning.  

Jasper found this salamander under a rock and it was sporting a very long tail.

This summer has been very cool.  I can gauge it by my hands and feet.  I have hyperhidrosis that leads to awful excema.  Normal summers leave my hands and feet raw with pain.
Going for a 3 mile hike in the afternoon through hot and sunny glades isn't a typical summertime activity.  But on this particular day, it was the only thing we wanted to do.  It was wonderful.