Spring! Spring! Spring!

Posted by: Richenda at Sunday May 10, 2009 in

For some reason I am really loving the spring this year. I don’t think you can blame it on the rainy Pacific Northwest winter (as my hubby is inclined to do) because we have springs after rainy Pacific Northwest winters every year, and even so, this particular year I have just felt a joy and exhilaration with the season that surpasses the usual.

(The cat seems to be excited, too. Figaro is stalking bugs in the grass. He’s very, very sneeeaky…)

Click here for larger photo.

He may look tough, but he’s a wimp, trust me. And that’s good because I don’t want him to chase away the birds.

For I am loving the rusty-breasted thrushes that cluster around the pothole in my driveway for a bath, pecking and gossiping with each other. I am loving the bald eagle with his fluffy bloomers who swept down over the Columbia River in pursuit of some prey, talons outstretched and pantaloons wafting in the breeze. What more perfect thing than to capture prey in puffy pants? Reminds me of the 17th century pirates with their foppery. Danger and style together striking like silk into the water…

Or what about the tiny lilac buds, tightfisted in quarters like tiny grapes-in-waiting for more sun. Or the rhododendron cone-buds, so tight at first no color can seep through. But then gradually, so gradually, the cones split into winking waves of color, and finally (soon!) explode into garnet, fuchsia, cream-cotton, and Easter bonnet blue.

Enough pretty prose. My hubby’s been stalking spring this year with a camera, and taking pretty pictures. Here’s a few I think are well worth sharing. Like this one of a bee covered in pollen, he looks candied in powdered sugar, does he not?

Click here for larger photo.

Or this one, off he goes.

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Or what about bunnies. Boy o’boy the cottontails this spring! Last year a particular baby western brush rabbit chose our front walk as a favorite feeding ground. We named ‘Franklin,’ and I am thinking if this is Franklin back again this spring, he has grown much over the wintertime!

Click here for larger photo.

These two bunnies were feeding out by the walnut tree and fled from the camera.

I love how Jon captured one of them in mid-leap!

Here’s a wonderful photo of a red wing blackbird among the rushes.

And then there is the woodpile and the wood I stacked. (That’s right, I stacked the wood. Chivalry is dead.)

This was a fifteen year old Douglas fir tree. It was planted too close to its neighbors, and they were closing in around it. The result was a sad lack of branches as it could not get to the sun, so we took it out. I hated to do it, but it wasn’t thriving and now its three neighbors are better spaced. I stacked the logs into a nice woodsy pile near the front of the house, but we’ll need a splitter for the big ones. What do you think my chances are that one of my sons will split them for me this summer?

As for the lambs, I wish I had sent Jon to take a picture of them a few weeks ago when they were still knock-kneed and bleating. They’ve doubled in size already, it seems! (They grow up so fast…) But none the less there is nothing like seeing the lambs in springtime and here’s a wonderful couple of photographs of the sheep and lambs in the pasture.

Click here for larger photo.

Click here for larger photo.

It’s every bit as bucolic as it looks. There was even a little bit of kerfuffle on ‘pasture picture day’ when one of the lambs attempted an escape. I’m not sure he really thought it through, however. For after he found himself free and outside the gate, he decided he didn’t want to be free after all and kicked around it bleating.

As far as escape attempts go, it’s really not the lamb that’s the problem. It’s the large ram you have to watch. In autumn, he likes to burrow under the fence and eat the ripe apples from the tree along the road. He’s harmless, (he’s a sheep!) but one look at those horns and city folks, delivery men, and passers-by are inclined to leave him alone and let him eat all the apples he wants.

*[All images © Jon Fairhurst, 2009, and used here by permission. Personal and educational use of these images is okay if you include photographer name and date. No commercial permissions are granted.]*

163 Bishops Serve up Breakfast

Posted by: Richenda at Tuesday May 5, 2009 in

Here’s the kind of ministry I love. The United Methodist bishops, during their conference this week in Washington DC, arranged to provide and serve breakfast to migrant workers. Here’s a pic from #rethinkchurch twitpics:

UM bishops serve food at #RethinkChurch event on Twitpic

UM bishops serve food at #RethinkChurch event on Twitpic

Here’s a blurb from the UMC:

The top spiritual leaders of The United Methodist Church are rethinking the way they combat poverty and rolling up their sleeves in the process. On May 5, 2009, many United Methodist bishops will embrace the plight of migrant workers by taking to the streets of the Washington, DC area to serve the workers breakfast.

Church leaders hope that reaching out and embracing migrant workers will inspire others to rethink church as an experience that extends beyond the church walls and into communities. By taking a hands-on approach, United Methodist leaders hope to demonstrate there are thousands of ways in which a person can engage with the church—many of them non-traditional.

“The United Methodist Church wants people to begin thinking of church as an active verb; people taking action to better the lives of others. While ministries vary from church to church, United Methodist churches offer thousands of services and opportunities in the United States and abroad,” said Palmer.

If you want a link, here’s one I like 10 Thousand Doors.

Evening with the Chamber Players

Posted by: Richenda at Sunday May 3, 2009 in

Date night!

One of the best things about marrying a musician is you get to hear a lot of good music. I’m kind of a music moron, myself. I appreciate it, no doubt, but I don’t have the sensitive ear of the musician like Jon does (and two of my kids inherited). I am kind of awed, actually, by the subtleties of sound my husband can identify and appreciate.

And last night after Seminary (our traditional date night), my husband took me to see the Oregon Chamber Players at All Saints’ Episcopal in SE Portland.

We certainly weren’t the only appreciators! The age range of attendees was heartening, actually, it was good to see so many twenty somethings. The most enthusiastic person by far, however, was a bent elderly woman who must have been in her early nineties. She parked in front of us (parking was dear, go early), and promptly hopped out of her car to drag a large tree branch onto the sidewalk from where it poked into the road. Jon and I got a head start toward the church, but she chased us down, cane and all, and beat us soundly through the doors and inside where she proceeded to have a hearty conversation with the ticket sellers.

The church itself is a red brick building which looked modest but welcoming,

but the best part of the church exterior was the grounds with its trees in blossom and spring colors. Definitely a good place to take a deep breath and relax a little.

Inside the church, the sanctuary has a cozy feeling which lent some intimacy to the evening while still being roomy enough to easily accommodate everyone. There’s also a gorgeous blue and white pipe organ, which does not show up well at all in the photograph so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was eye-catching.

But the best part about the sanctuary was the wonderful acoustics. Apparently it sounds a bit muddy for the players, as there was a large carpet underneath them. But from where we sat (seventh pew, center) the room sounded perfectly.

We were treated to selections from Bach, Dvorak, Couperin and Haydn. Things started a little stiffly with the Brandenburg Concerto #4, but warmed up quickly so that the second piece was probably the best of the evening. The players took up Four Bagatelles from Dvorak and simply knocked it out of the park. It was smooth and melodic, and Tatiana Kolchanova on the violin really made it sing.

Intermission was notable for the bathrooms.

[Note to churches: What is it with church bathrooms? Not to pick on All Saints’, because the problem isn’t unique to them, but in churches in general… While the bathrooms are usually clean enough in any church, they are also usually a minefield of rust stains, water puddles, peeling or thick-and-warbly paint, and coagulated soap pump boxes, which in this case sat atop a stained, grade-school cafeteria style, red plastic food tray which itself was perched to create a kind of makeshift bridge between the sinks. Though I have to say I would MUCH rather churches had food banks than fancy bathrooms, the fact is that we would have a looong way to go in this particular bathroom before we are going to be anywhere near the dangerous territory of fancy. ]

Back to the concert, and for even more fun, I had a nice surprise for tucked inside my program was a flyer indicating I was a winner.

What did I win? A brand new Bach CD which included the concerto played at the concert. Yes!

As for what Jon thought about it all, he tells me he especially liked the lyricism of the first and third movements of the Dvorak piece. He thought the first chair cellist was a standout, and he called Victoria Racz on the Oboe “just flawless.” As for Chris Mudd on the French Horn, Jon noted that it is very difficult for a horn player not to overshadow a small ensemble, yet he played very well breaking through only a little towards the end of the Dvorak piece (I loved the horn, it was awesome).

Jon also says he really appreciated the opportunity to hear the music played with a real harpsichord. He complains that too often an electronic harpsichord is played, which has a harsher tone. By comparison the real instrument is delicate and Ron Hylton (the apparent master at the bench) played it evenly, and with a “fine, fine touch.”

Jon and I also both agree that violinist Timoteus Racz, who is the artistic director for the players, rocked the Haydn.

A reception followed and included macadamia nut and white chocolate cookies (my husband’s favorite. Which makes me suspicious that he attended simply for the cookies) and I had to photograph one of the pamphlets from the fellowship hall, lol! This is not a problem we Methodists generally have to deal with:

So, fabulous evening, a lot of fun. I would absolutely recommend it as a date night. Or even, bring your budding musician middle-schooler or teen. This group does a lot with young people, including lessons and such, and are clearly encouraging and supportive of young players.

Link to the Oregon Chamber Players or All Saints’ Episcopal Church .

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A Pioneer Story

Posted by: Richenda at Saturday May 2, 2009 in

I was looking for the pioneer story I mentioned in an earlier blog so I could post it. As yet I haven’t found that one, but in searching I came across this story of an Avalanche and I had to share it.

From: Told By The Pioneers, Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Washington, Vol. 3., 1938. Editors F. H. Loutzenhiser and J. R. Loutzenhiser. Washington Pioneer Project, Olympia, WA.

by Mrs. W. E. Borton (Mary Brisky)
Chelan County

“A one room log cabin was built in 1887. In 1888, my father, with Sepin and Gonzer, who had come from Bickleton with him, were cutting logs to enlarge the house, which stood at the foot of an arched slope of the mountain. At 8:30 A. M. father had gone down to see Brender. The minister, Rev. Beggs [Biggs], had been lodged for the night. Sepin had been shoveling the snow from the roof. With the shovel in his hand, he heard the swish of a big wind—the mountainside, in the space of a breath, had hurled itself on the unprotected cabin and crushed it as though it had been a celluloid toy. The force of the wind blew Sepin out of the way. Only a heap of snow marked the place where three children and two grown persons were entombed. High up the opposite canyon wall were the splintered logs, bits of furniture, colored scraps of dishes, the wheel of the sewing machine, and other objects. Sepin went for help. At 5:00 P. M. they lifted out the dead bodies of my mother [Laura J. Treadwell Brisky] and the minister, Beggs. […]
“I had just stooped to pick up the baby [Belle Brisky] when the avalanche occurred. I did not realize that it was snow which was smothering us until it was melted by the baby’s breath. The baby melted the snow fast, as she never stopped crying until she was unconscious. I was thrown near mother, whom I could hear, but not see. Mother spoke calmly to us, telling us to lie quietly and breathe as lightly as possible. She asked if we were hurt, or if we could wriggle our arms and legs.
“Mother told us that we would see our father again, but that she would not ; that I would have to be their mother after that day. She instructed me about the care of the baby, even about cooking and sewing. She never stopped talking and the sound of her calm, reassuring voice quieted us children. We were asleep or unconscious when the rescuers dug us out. The cows and the horses cold not be saved.
“To this day I believe the chopping down of the trees and snaking them down the mountain, loosened the avalanche. That was forty-eight years ago, and there has been no repetition.”

This story is one of many recorded through the Washington Pioneer Project and published in at least three volumes. This story is from Volume 3. Volume One is online through the office of Washington’s Secretary of State .

For more information about the people in this story, see Rob Salzman’s e-tree website and the Brisky Treadwell Cemetery in Cashmere, WA.

Raisin Reenactment

Posted by: Richenda at Sunday April 19, 2009 in

Some things simply must be shared with all for all eternity. Signs and wonders, for example. And what better wonder than a religious image rising like glory from the scab of a golden raisin?

A few days ago while snacking on dried fruit (cranberries, blueberries, raisins), I came across a such a sign. There, on the crusty side of a glistening golden raisin was a flattish, roundish, roughish, scabby image of what can only be described as a “largish monk with a clock on his tummy.”

I wanted to save it. (I mean, how auspicious is this? An actual clock? I kept waiting for the rapture!) But, things being as they are, instead of the respect a bit of fruit displaying such a warning should engender, it got swept up (by someone more efficient and less romantic than I) and plunked into the waste bin.

< plunk > (Actually, as this was a small golden raisin, it probably sounded more like < plerk >.)

Anyway, regardless as to how it actually got into the waste bin (again, not my fault), it did get into it and that’s that.

Except…I really felt that I needed to make some kind of commemorative effort. Signs and wonders are not the kind of thing you should keep to yourself, not the real ones and not the humor of some silly ones, either.

Behold then, my rendering. It is a still-frame ‘Raisin Reenactment.’

It’s Golden. It’s Glorious. And you can see the image here (I know, I had to draw it in…like I said, someone chucked the real one), of a large monk with a clock on his tummy. The clearest thing about the mark itself was the clock (a perfect tiny circle) and the hands (perfectly straight lines) indicating the time: ten to twelve. I’m thinking, then, that this must definitely be the time of the rapture. :) Unfortunately, I don’t know if it is am or pm. Sorry.

— Richenda

[Update: My son theorizes that perhaps one of the cats ate the raisin. Of particular suspicion is Figaro, who is famous for snarfing down food that does not belong to him.

So one day, we may find a raisin remnant. If we do, and it was Figaro who ate the wondrous fruit, then certainly the golden remains will exhibit some clue—a cat hair or a tooth mark—some kind of mark of the beast. ]

(Gosh, this is too much fun!)

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