The Last Days of 2014

How how did this happen?  How could it really be December 29, 2014?  All the things that I was going to do in 2014, and now it's over.

I'm ending it well, though.  Over at A Mindful New Year with Susan Piver and Lodro Rinzler.  I've had some terrific sessions already, and this is only day three of six days.

And I'm ending it quietly-I've caught whatever it is that's going around, so I'm kind of down for the count.  Sleeping, reading and in general taking it easy.  Enjoying homemade turkey soup (best use of the Christmas turkey carcass) and lots of ginger-peppermint tea.

Rowe Center Fall Workshop
I have two wonderful classes to look forward to.  In January I'll be taking a class with the amazing Jane LaFazio - Sketching and Watercolor: Journal Style.  I had the great pleasure of taking a weekend workshop with her at the Rowe Center-here's what I was able to draw after only a day of class:

I can't wait to see what I can do after six weeks!

And when Jane says that she can teach anyone to draw, she means it.  She was able to teach me, and until this workshop I would have said that I had absolutely no talent at all.  Now I know that talent is only part of it-I can really learn how to draw.
Bluegrass band, 12/11/14

And the other class is six months of on-line fiddle lessons with Lora of Red Desert Fiddle.  I've already downloaded the first lesson and by George, I'll be great when I finish.  I've got the playing the violin part down, all I need is the fiddlin' part-bowing, improvising, stuff like that.

So those are my plans for 2015.  What are yours?

Midnight Run

So ten of us from the First Presbyterian Church of Yorktown went on the Midnight Run on Friday, September 19th. Three men, three teenage girls, four women. Eight in the the Midnight Run van, two in my little Impreza.  My car had the food, the van had the coffee, clothing, blankets and toiletries. We got into New York City to our first stop around 10 PM and hit our last stop around 1 AM. By then we had distributed around 100 lunch bags of food, 30 toiletry kits and a van full of underwear, socks, jackets, pants, shirts and blankets. My car was nearly empty by the fourth stop; we ran out of toiletries at the third stop.
Back to church to clean out the coffee urn, empty the van of hangers and containers, and get everyone back to their cars.
I got home around 2:30 AM, exhausted and slightly "wired" from the drive and the experience. Truly, there but for the grace of God, my friends...there are many heartbreaking stories on the streets, and we heard some of them last night.
I am truly blessed to be part of a faith community that takes Jesus's words to heart: "Then they also will answer, "Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he will answer them, "Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' " (Matthew 25:44-45).

How can it be July already?

So commencement was in May, and here it is July, and I've been "off work" for nearly two months.  What have I got to show for my time off?
Lucinda Williams at Clearwater
Olive & Gourmando, Montreal
  • Clearwater!  That's Lucinda Williams, who brought down the house on Sunday night.  She was amazing!
  • Five days in Montreal, eating fabulous food, biking along the Lachine Canal, and visiting Mont Royal.  Lunch at Olive & Gourmando (top right) and dinner at Joe Beef (bottom right).
  • Eight weeks of work with Meggin McIntosh and her wonderful Workshop Business 101
  • Joe Beef Beer
  • Almost done with BOTH classes at Princeton Theological Seminary - six down, two more to go, and then I've got my Certificate in Theology and Ministry!
Unfortunately, my mother-in-law died at the end of June.  Not unexpected but incredibly sad.  We had a kousa dogwood planted, coincidentally, the day she died, and we're dedicating that tree to her.

Life has a way of reminding you of what's important.

And now I'm enjoying the garden, the heat, and the chance to read-mysteries, mostly.

How about you?  How's your summer going?


is just around the corner-a time of year that I love, a "beginning" for those students who are graduating and moving on, and the beginning of summer.

Now if I can just finish grading the last of these damn projects/papers/late homeworks!

Summer projects abound!  The list is long and wonderful.

Here goes:

  1. Workshop Business 101 with Meggin McIntosh   Yes, I did this last summer but I need a "refresher"" and I'm looking forward to it.
  2. Cleaning the basement/home office (yes, this too has been on the list for a while but this summer it WILL happen).
  3. Plan for the next phase of our lives-where we will live, what we will do.  I'm not retiring yet, but I will, soon I hope.
  4. Two more courses at Princeton Theological Seminary : New Testament and Congregational Leadership.
  5. A sail on one of the Clearwater ships.
  6. A trip to Montreal for a long weekend.
  7. The Clearwater Festival on June 21 and 22, although it will be sad without Pete. 
So, what are you doing this summer?

Sick again? Yes, again.

So this semester I've been sick more than any other semester since I started teaching in Spring, 1985.  I lost TWO WEEKS to two different stomach viruses, one more virulent than the other.  And I'm starting to think that, at my age! I need to take really really good care of myself.

I'm feeling at loose ends, behind and not caught up in anything except my coursework at Princeton Theological Seminary-two courses down and four to go for my Certifcate in Theology and Ministry-sounds good, doesn't it?

Plus there's band practice at Mike Risko Music School-yes, my "bluegrass band" meets every Monday night.

And I'm still working-counting the days till the semester is over.  Last class, May 6th, followed by finals.

And as we say in Brooklyn, "so how's by you?"

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

Not!  I'm done.  I've had enough.
And today we expect another, oh, three inches or so.  That yardstick says 18 inches-that's how much snow has fallen in February.  You know it's bad when your generator company sends an e-mail to remind you that it is "imperative" that you dig out so that there's three feet clear around your generator.
And's so beautiful!  The trees were covered with ice yesterday morning and they glistened.

I put on snowshoes (yes, snowshoes) to fill the bird feeders.  Both the birds and I were happy that I did-we had goldfinches, crows, black capped chickadees and blue jays at the feeders.  Good for all of you-there can't be much to eat out there in this weather.  I don't even begrudge the crows.

And yesterday, in the midst of all this winter, we saw a robin fly over the car.  Heaven only knows what that robin is eating.

Spring isn't far away!

The New Year 2014

So the holidays are over.  We've taken all the candles out of our windows, and tomorrow we'll take the tree down.

I can't wait to see what 2014 will bring.  So far here's what I know: that I'll be playing lots of fiddle music and I'll be studying for my Certificate in Theology and Ministry through Princeton Theological Seminary.
Eastman VL205

So the picture on the right is my new fiddle.

A beauty, from Eastman Strings with a slightly flattened bridge, which is what makes a violin a "fiddle."  Unlike classical violin players, I want to be able to play two strings at the same time-that's how fiddlers are able to adapt different bowing styles, like shuffle bowing (which is what I'm learning now.)

It sounds really wonderful.  A big shout out to Mike Risko at Mike Risko Music School where I've been taking lessons since July.  Mike worked with his Eastman rep to get me a great violin, all set up as a fiddle.

Starting January 30th I'll be spending Thursday evenings on line with classmates studying the Old Testament in a class led by Professor Dennis Olson.  This is the first of a six-part series that I'll be taking through Princeton Theological Seminary.

And for the entire month of January I've been drawing mandalas, thanks to Heather Plett and her Mandala Discovery class.  I love that I have an "artist's kit" of colored pens and pencils, a compass and protractor and a template of circles.

So, what are all of you doing this year?  I'd love to know.