Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

From One Year to the Next

It's 11:35 CST and 2008 is almost over. Boy, what a year! I have been thinking of doing a sort of "Year in Review," but haven't gotten around to it; maybe in this post, with a brief break to see in the New Year and drink a glass of champagne. I'll start this post this year and finish it next year. A few things have been particularly memorable. Let's see:

January: Life pretty much as usual--or at least what I remember of it

A little snow on the mountain

February: About like January

March: Ditto; I attend a couple of spinning workshops; youngest son completes requirements and earns his Life Scout rank, begins looking ahead to completing requirements for Eagle before turning 18 in September; husband steps down from three years as Scoutmaster back to Assistant Scoutmaster

Handspun for handknitting

Color in spinning

Life Scout with parents

Dad retires as Scoutmaster

April: I start this blog and get new glasses

New Transitions lenses

Seem to work outside even in shade

Spring comes to the Valley

May: Oldest son's birthday (37th); progress on Eagle Scout requirements continues, planning and preliminary work for Eagle project begins

Calling all blood donors, 5/31/08

June: Daughter made honors scholars' list at college with a 3.9 average for the semester and 3.7 overall; husband's birthday (58th); work on Eagle Scout requirements plods along; Eagle Scout project on June 8

7:00 a.m., 6/8/08: setting up for the blood drive

Folks waiting to donate

A few project helpers relaxing at the snack table at the end

Blood drive is a success: 64 units collected

Clearing out: 2:00 p.m., 6/8/08; putting away chairs

July: Must be something other than my birthday (57th), but I can't think of anything; gas prices too high to go on vacation anywhere, but we drive up to Chattanooga and go to Ruby Falls; youngest son still working on Eagle Scout stuff (two of the required merit badges require 12 weeks of planning, activities, and record keeping, another requires 13 weeks of same); Eagle Scout project report in progress

I'd like to be here

I get to go here
Ruby Falls or a UFO?

"Stalagstuff" in the caverns

He thinks he's heard this story before

August: I celebrate my one-year anniversary of no longer being a museum employee after many years in the profession; son still working on Eagle requirements; Eagle project report is finished

Back in the living history days

I really dig living history

Adjusting the spinning wheel

September: We celebrate our 38th anniversary; youngest son turns 18, completes last Eagle requirement the day before his birthday and gets all paperwork signed off and turned in, Eagle board of review pending

Some signs of autumn here and there

October: Garage catches on fire, youngest son saves our house, our rabbits, and probably our lives; I want to write about the fire, but can't; we get Dixie;

Charred water heater

Washer and water heater

It used to be a paper towel rack

Remains of some Christmas decorations

Some of the damage to the ceiling

Preparing to chew

November: Our daughter turns 21; we give thanks for having a house to live in and being alive; repairs on garage begin, but progress is slow and intermittent; we end up with the biggest water heater I've ever seen and I think it's really the second stage of a Saturn V rocket

Daughter with a friend at the botanical gardens

My girl

The new water heater

December: Our son's board of review for Eagle Scout was successful and he is now an Eagle Scout, Court of Honor TBA, probably in February or March with his other two new troop Eagles; construction on garage plods along, with the painters just coming yesterday and today (12/30 and 12/31) to do repairs to sheetrock, but we have a lovely new back garage door, the giant 80-gallon water heater, and new washer, dryer, and shelves, so far

New washer, new door, huge new water heater, and lots of painting to do

Just happy to be here

It is now 2009. Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Twelve Days of Christmas

The Liturgical Year

For more information go to Click on "Liturgy of the Word."

There are many other good sites for more information on the Christian liturgical year, including St. Mary of the Visitation Catholic Church at, Wikipedia at, and many others.

As a child, I remember my mother rushing to get the Christmas tree and all the decorations down before New Year's Day. She said it was bad luck to leave the tree up after New Year's and that Christmas was over. She was also very annoyed with her brother's family's habit of not putting up their Christmas tree until Christmas Eve and then not opening all their gifts until the week after New Year's Day. Oh, they'd open a few packages, but most of them were saved until after New Year's. Their son had gotten the idea that since our family was predominantly of German descent, they should follow the more traditional German practice of decorating the tree on Christmas Eve and then follow the twelve days of Christmas of the liturgical church year, opening most of their gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6, the day designated as the arrival of the Magi to the manger in Bethlehem to present their gifts to the Christ Child. Their habit of not opening all their gifts on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day was greatly annoying to my mother whose secret Christmas habit was to sneak into the living room late at night after my father had left for work, open gifts that were that were of particular interest to her, then carefully wrap them back up. She would open not only gifts tagged for her, but those for anyone else she was curious about. I must have been about six or seven when I caught her doing this. She swore me to secrecy by some ominous threat that I have long since forgotten, but which must have carried lifelong repercussions because I knew she meant business and I'd better not tell anyone what she was doing.

At some point over the years, the words to "The Twelve Days of Christmas" began to make me curious as to what, exactly, were the Twelve Days of Christmas. I, like most of the people around me, especially my superstitious mother in her rush to get things put away before New Year's, had the general idea that the twelve days of Christmas were the twelve days before Christmas instead of the twelve days after Christmas. I hardly remember hearing the term Advent used for the period of time before Christmas in my own non-Catholic church or those of my friends at which I was a frequent visitor. Having been given a set of encyclopedias when I was eight, I eventually decided to look for an answer. I guess I must have been about ten at the time. When I found out the significance of the twelve days and their relation to the church year, things made more sense. In my child's understanding it was simply the matter that Jesus is born on Day One of Christmas and then the Three Wise Men, after their long trek, finally show up on Day Twelve bearing gifts.

For years afterward, there was usually some degree of argument in our family as to what constituted those twelve days as my mother continued to complain about that silly notion her brother's family had about not decorating their tree until Christmas Eve, not opening gifts until after New Year's, and not taking that tree down on New Year's Day. I can remember that during the Christmas season, every time we'd pass St. Patrick's Church (the only Catholic church in the county) my mother would make somewhat exasperated remarks about how those Catholics sure did leave their Christmas decorations up a long time. After I eventually became Catholic and became familiar with the various seasons of the Church year, I tried my best to get her to think of the twelve days of Christmas as the twelve days following Christmas Day, but to no avail. I finally just gave up and let her have her way. But...there was that one year when, for whatever reason, she left the Christmas tree up until well into February!

Guess I should include something about the song.

The Twelve Days of Christmas

On the first day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
A partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree.

We'll skip ahead to Day 12:

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My true love sent to me
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lords a-leaping,
Nine ladies dancing,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven swans a-swimming,
Six geese a-laying,
Five golden rings,
Four calling birds,
Three French hens,
Two turtledoves,
And a partridge in a pear tree!

(Oops! I forgot to write down the source for the lyrics! Probably Wikipedia.)

And now, borrowing the words of Clement Clark Moore (A Visit from St. Nicholas aka The Night Before Christmas):

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night.

(Christmas tree, Wise Men, partridge and St. Nick graphics from )

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Handel's Messiah is one of my favorite musical compositions. I always listen to it during the Christmas and Easter seasons. I love to attend performances of it and for several years while living in Memphis, sang with the choir of Cavalry Episcopal Church with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra when they performed it as the opening of their Advent Season. Here is the text of the Christmas portion with a little art to go along with it.

Handel's Messiah
George Frederic Handel (1695-1759)
Part I
(1) Overture
(2) Comfort Ye
Isaiah 40:1-3
1. Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned. . . .
3. The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

(3) Every Valley
Isaiah 40:4
4.Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill made low, the crooked straight, and the rough places plain.
(4) And the Glory of the Lord
Isaiah 40:5
5. And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together:for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.
(5) Thus saith the Lord
Haggai 2:6,7
6. Thus saith the Lord of Hosts; Yet once, a little while and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; 7. And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come
Malachi 3:11. The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in:Behold, He shall come, saith the Lord of Hosts.
(6) But who may abide the Day of His Coming?
Malachi 3:2
2. But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner's fire.
(7) And He shall Purify
Malachi 3:3
3. And He shall purify the sons of Levi. . . that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

(8) Behold A Virgin Shall Conceive
Isaiah 7:14 (Matthew 1:23)
Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and shall call his name EMMANUEL, God with us.

(9) O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion
Isaiah 40:9
9. O thou that tellest good tidings to Zion, get thee up into the high mountain; O thou that tellest good tidings to Jerusalem, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, and be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God!

Isaiah 60:1
1. Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
(10) For behold, darkness shall cover the earth
Isaiah 60:2,3
2. For, behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people; but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and His glory shall be seen upon thee. 3. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
(11) The people that walked in darkness
Isaiah 9:2 (Matthew 3:16)
2. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

For unto Us a Child is born
Isaiah 9:6
6. For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
(13) Pastoral Symphony

(14) There were shepherds abiding in the field
Luke 2:8
8. There were shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
Luke 2:9

9. And lo! the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
(15) And the Angel said unto them
Luke 2:10,11
10. And the angel said unto them, Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. 11. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
(16) And suddenly there was with the Angel
Luke 2:13
13. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
(17) Glory to God
Luke 2:14
14. Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
(18) Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion
Zechariah 9:9,10 (Matthew 21:5)

9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee. He is the righteous Savior. . 10. . . And he shall speak peace unto the heathen.

(Messiah text:1998 Bruce L. Johnson
Produced by Techsys, Inc.)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Girl

She's my sunshine on a cloudy day.
When it's cold outside, she's the month of May.
I guess I'd say who can make me feel this way
Is my girl. Talking 'bout my girl.

(with apologies to The Temptations)

Today I think I should say a few things about my lovely daughter. She is a student at our local university. I am very proud of her. She hasn't really declared a major, yet, but is interested in chemistry and biology. She has talked about pursuing a career in biochemistry or microbiology. She is a very diligent student and her hard work is paying off with very good grades. I am inspired by her efforts and how far she has come since the day I first laid eyes on her twenty-one years ago.

This seems to be the only digital photo I can find of her high school graduation back in the spring of 2006. There must be others hiding out somewhere. If I find them, I'll try to post a few.

Here she is clowning at Ruby Falls with her boyfriend and her little bro back in the summer.

As maid of honor at a friend's wedding recently.

She's grown into a beautiful young woman and I'm very proud of her. I hope she knows how much I love her.