Friday, September 24, 2004

Hiking by the light of the moon

My neighbor and I went on a moonlight hike in Eaton Canyon for the second time. Such a simple activity yet so wonderful. This time we weren't feeling as energetic, so we went on the moderate walk along the canyon floor from the parking lot to the bridge and back.

Because we've just passed the autumnal equinox ("equal night"), it was already dark when we set off. In early July, it was still dusk at the beginning of the hike. The moon was really bright tonight, although it's not a full moon until Monday Tuesday. On the way to the bridge, the moon was behind us. On the way back, the moon shone directly ahead of us.

Our guide was the husband of the woman who led our hike last time. (See the July 3 comments.) My neighbor is very interested in photography, and the conversation came around to the plant photography and cataloguing Gabi and Cliff McLean do. Cliff mentioned another cataloguer and photographer, Tom Chester.

Tom is an astrophysicist who has applied his incredible discipline as a scientist to, amongst other things, documenting the plants along Southern California hiking trails. Beginning at a trailhead, he and his collaborator, Jane Strong, catalogue each plant as they encounter it.

I'm taking forever to finish this post because I keep getting sidetracked reading Tom's site and marvelling at how precisely he has classified and organized all the data on it.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

To do

This business of working full-time surely makes it more difficult to do all the other things that need doing. So, today's list:
  • Eat breakfast: delicious 5¢ grapefruit bought from the children down the street; oatmeal with raisins; coffee
  • Wash dishes
  • Pick up clothes: dirty and clean
  • Clean bathroom
  • VACUUM duplex
  • Online: pay phone bill; look up library books checked out from three different library systems; print out grocery list; post entry here!
  • Write and send birthday card; write and send letter
  • Pay gas and electric bills
  • Get church office key and finish assembling bulletins for tomorrow
  • Return library books due to public and seminary libraries
  • Go to Trader Joe's: milk; whole wheat tortillas for preparing altar tomorrow
  • Swing by the gardenLAb if I have time to see the Path to Freedom folk
  • Babysit friend's two small children this evening
[Edit 10:30 PM. The list worked! I went from one thing to the next and accomplished most of what I needed. Now to be more consistently disciplined.]

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Autumn transitions

I was struck by reading the notes for Autumn in the Lutheran worship planning guide, Sundays and Seasons.
The seasons are marked by cycles of reversals: the stars shift in the sky; the natural world finds new ways of living. Likewise, school's days begin or end, new calendar years are established, old patterns of living are undertaken. A cabin might be closed for the winter, new windows put up on the house, clothing styles changed—these are marks of a shifting and transitional time. (p. 288)
Here in So Cal, the hot summer weather kicks into high gear for a last hurrah. However, in spite of the weather, subtle changes can be seen, notably the shortening of daylight hours.

The theme of transition is looked at slightly differently in the notes for preaching, which muse that "we get several fresh, new starts at life per year." (p. 291) For many in the Christian tradition, Autumn is the winding down of the church year with Advent (this year, November 28) beginning a new liturgical year. However, in Judaism and for Christian groups that follow a Jewish calendar, Autumn is the beginning of the year with Rosh Hashanah followed by Yom Kippur. The civic New Year arrives on January 1, and then, later, the Chinese New Year.

I sometimes get frustrated with how out of sync all these endings and beginnings are. But I like the idea of being able at least to acknowledge the opportunity for several new beginnings.

Right on cue, Autumn (in spite of the weather) is lining up to be a season of transition for me. I have formally withdrawn from my academic program for a period of time, and my change of status request from part-time to full-time at work is making its way through the required approval levels. I'm glad, finally, to have come to a decision, although my feelings around these changes have an autumnal melancholic tinge to them.

Also, as I mentioned earlier, the situation at my church is in transition with the pastor leaving soon.

Cycles of reversals.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Community singing

This afternoon I was looking for song books for informal group singing. I came across two volumes called Get America Singing ... Again!, put together by the Music Educators National Conference. In the tradition of school song books my grandmother used, these two books feature traditional and folk songs, spirituals and gospel songs, patriotic music, 1960s folk/rock, and songs from musicals. Pete Seeger is the honorary chair of the campaign.

Content lists:

Volume 1

Amazing Grace
America, The Beautiful
Battle Hymn Of The Republic
Blue Skies
Danny Boy
De Colores
Dona Nobis Pacem
Down By The Riverside
Frere Jacques (Are You Sleeping?)
Give My Regards To Broadway
God Bless America
God Bless The U.S.A.
Green Green Grass Of Home
Havah Nagilah
He's Got The Whole World In His Hands
Home On The Range
I've Been Working On The Railroad
If I Had A Hammer (The Hammer Song)
Let There Be Peace On Earth
Lift Ev'ry Voice And Sing
Michael Row The Boat Ashore
Music Alone Shall Live
My Bonnie Lies Over The Ocean
My Country, 'Tis Of Thee (America)
Oh! Susanna
Oh, What A Beautiful Mornin'
Over My Head
Puff The Magic Dragon
Rock-A-My Soul
Sakura (Cherry Blossoms)
Shalom Chaveyrim (Shalom Friends)
She'll Be Comin' 'Round The Mountain
Simple Gifts
Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child
Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
The Star Spangled Banner
This Land Is Your Land
This Little Light Of Mine

Volume 2

(Oh, My Darling) Clementine
All Through The Night
Auld Lang Syne
Both Sides Now
Camptown Races
Down In The Valley
Every Time I Feel The Spirit
Five Hundred Miles
Follow The Drinkin' Gourd
Getting To Know You
Goodnight, Irene
I Got Rhythm
I Love The Mountains
I've Got Peace Like A River
It's A Small World
Jamaica Farewell
Kum Ba Yah
Let It Be
Let Me Call You Sweetheart
Make New Friends
My Favorite Things
Old Macdonald Had A Farm
Over The Rainbow
Precious Lord, Take My Hand (Take My Hand, Precious Lord)
Rock Around The Clock
Side By Side
Take Me Home, Country Roads
The Erie Canal
The Midnight Special
The Red River Valley
Try To Remember
Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is A Season)
Water Is Wide
We Shall Overcome
What A Wonderful World
When Johnny Comes Marching Home
When The Saints Go Marching In
Where Have All The Flowers Gone?
Yankee Doodle
You Are My Sunshine
You Are The Sunshine Of My Life
You're A Grand Old Flag
You've Got A Friend

You can purchase inexpensive singer's editions (linked to above) that have the words, melody line, and guitar chords, and piano music editions, at approximately the intermediate level.

From the Introduction to Volume 2:
Singing with others builds community, and America and the world are in bad need of that. When people join together in song it creates a sense of being connected, of belonging, and of being an active participant in life. This feeling is so needed in an age of electronic isolation and "virtual" participation in life. There is also mounting evidence that singing and other forms of interpersonal active music making [...] has [sic] significant health and long-term wellness benefits.
I hope to try out the books with a group this weekend, so I'll report back how they worked.