Monday, November 13, 2017

One Journey concert

Another lovely concert, this one on a smaller scale: a house concert in Katie & Savanna's living room. K&S have been members for years of a women's group called One Journey. It performs the music of Helen Fortier. At present, a four-member group. The music is very accessible, positive, encouraging in the face of social and political evils, and spiritually uplifting. A very nice concert. 

          One Journey (S&K at left)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A wonderful concert

The By the People, for the People concert earlier this evening was a great success, I think. It was almost a full house; I 'm guessing 400 people, and they were enthusiastic. Those of us up on the stage felt good about it. The program was very diverse, drawing on a wide variety of musical traditions, which is typical of the Guilford church's music ministry. It was a very lively evening, which is remarkable in a way because several of the songs we sang had death as a theme, e.g., All is Well, and Your Lone Journey. But the audience loved it. 

Earlier, between our afternoon rehearsal and the call time for the concert, six of us used the break to go the the home of Judith Kinley, a member of our church who is dying. Her family were all there and  she wanted to have sort of a "preview" of her own memorial service when she could be there to share it with them. We sang hymns she had chosen and one piece from the concert. It was a crazy thing to do, but we're glad we did, even though it meant going. "straight out" from 2:00 until 10p.m. An 8-hour marathon! 

And, of course, I didn't have my iPhone, so, no pix. Maybe tomorrow I can download something. But I wouldn't be surprised if the whole thing ended up on YouTube.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Japanese tea ceremony

Last Monday, our Osher series on Japanese aesthetics had for its climax an "immersion" (so to speak)  in the tea ceremony. I knew little about it, and it is fascinating, with a very long history. We learned a lot about tea also. Did you know that all varieties of tea descend from camelia siensis? That there are basically three methods of producing tea leaves: withering, firing and bruising? That we don't really know where tea originated? China? India? Nepal? The Chinese believe the "Yellow Emperor" (4500 years ago) was the first tea drinker. Another legend has it that the Bodidharma (a 5th century Buddhist monk ) tried to stay awake during meditation and when he failed, he tore off his eyelids in desperation and threw them to the ground, whereupon the first tea plants emerged, thus providing the stimulant that would help monks stay awake during meditation.

The earliest Japanese tea "ceremonies" (8th C.) were weeks-long parties at which tea was drunk in excess. But some key figures introduced austerity, e.g., Murata Juko, Takeno Joo and especially Sen no Rikyu, who successively developed the chanoyu, the Japanese "way of tea," especially what is called the wabi-cha tradition. Tea moves into little tea huts, fewer, simpler implements ( bamboo), fewer people ("four mats" ). It becomes a highly prescripted, codified ceremony.

Seth Harter brought hot water, tea and cereamic cups for all. He appealed to the minimalist saying of Rikyu:  "Light the fire, boil the water, drink the tea." But there is also the motto of Rikyu: Wa, Kei, Sei, Jaku:  "Harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility," which expresses more of the depth of meaning of the chanoyu tradition. 

            All things are ready !

             Serving the tea

We were interested to learn that at Mt. Holyoke College, there is a tea hut and garden. We could go there and have the full experience.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

A quick visit to Lowell Lake

Sunday, we went to Londonderry, VT, to a meeting of the Windham -Union Association of UCC churches. We went with two members of our church , Patty Meyer, who is both our organist and church secretary, and Brian Remer, who is a cool guy who grew up near where I lived in Iowa. The meeting was a combination of worship, business (e.g ., electing officers), and a program on how churches can take advantage of social media ( most of that talk went over the head of this quasi-Ludite. I was glad the " young folks" were there - i. e., in their 50s).

On our way home, we drove past the entrance to Lowell Lake State Park, one of the best kept secrets in Vermont. I asked if they had heard of it. They hadn't. Would they like to take a few minutes to see it? "Sure!" So we did. I think they were enthralled. It is a mostly unspoiled lake, virtually no development. The park is also undeveloped. It encompasses an old camp with a score of cabins and a lodge where I have stayed many times. It is now suffering from decades of neglect. It is sad to see, but the lake is beautiful. 

       Brian contemplating the lake 

      Similarly, Patty and Ellen

               The old log lodge 

Friday, November 3, 2017

Tackling my library

Today, my "downsizing consultant," Sue Venman, came over and helped me start the arduous task weeding out my core library. I set up a system of numbering each book, photographing it with its number, listing it in a database, then sorting books into four piles: "Keep," "Old/Rare," "Brattleboro Books (BB) and "Experienced Goods (EG) and then boxing up the piles and noting in the database where the book ends up. Old /Rare books will be disposed of in a more careful way with the thought they might have value.  BB is a place that buys fairly nice books. So those are books in good condition. EG is the Hospice shop - like taking books to Goodwill. Not fussy. Today we put 175 books through that process. That took about 3 hours. It was faster with two, but I can't afford Sue for the whole job. I can do it alone, but it will be slow. But I can see it happening. Photographing the book is a great idea, I feel. I wish I had done that years ago when I started first disposing of books. It's like keeping your library and giving it away at the same time. My library is so personal. These books are friends going back decades in many instances.

We emptied the top four shelves today. Two shelves to go in this bookcase . Probably at least four or five hours there for me working alone. 

This is what lies ahead to do on the other side of my study. Many hours of work. 

Earlier last week : 

Last Saturday, we went to a Harvest dinner with friends at the Scott Farm orchard, a five - course meal featuring heirloom apples with each course. This is Eliza and Cliff Bergh. The first course was five kinds of apples and three kinds of cheese, bread, and freshly pressed cider. Our table was all friends, but we scarcely knew another soul in the room of 120 people. Evidently a social circle we don't move in .

Last Monday, Seth Harter, the lecturer on Japanese art at Osher, gave a fascinating talk on ceramics. We learned about the Mingei movement, Yanagi Soetsu and the influence of Korean pottery on Japanese ceramics, especially the Kizaemon-Ido tea bowl, among many other things. 

Saturday, October 28, 2017

A shower for Angelique

We have a new family in our church (the Guilford Community Church, U.C.C). They are refugees originally from the Republic of Congo, via a refugee camp in Uganda. Bahati and Angelique met at the camp, and their daughter, Cody, was born there. So they were in the camp a long time. They have now settled in Brattleboro, and are coming to our church, which is very exciting. Angelique is expecting a baby in November, and so the church put on a shower for her. About 30 people came, and she received a lot of great gifts. There were games and  refreshments too. We were given a list of words relating to a baby - but scrambled. We had to unscramble them ( I got about five of them). We were also given a clothespin to wear. If someone got you to say the word "baby," they could take your clothespin. The kids had fun with that. Some got quite a few clothespins. I held on to mine. A fun time.

               Bahati, Angelique, Cody, and the party MC, Akosua. 

  Angelique and Sue Owings, who helped organize the shower . 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Total Loss Farm

Last Monday, Peter Gould, author of Horse-drawn Yogurt; Stories from Total Loss Farm, was the speaker at the  afternoon Osher lectures. Peter is also a mime, an actor and a theater director, working mainly with youth at the New England Youth Theater. He told us he had directed 70 productions of Shakespeare over his 40+ years in theater! He was very entertaining.

Total Loss Farm was a '60s era commune in Guilford, VT. 

    The cover of Peter Gould's book