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Folks, in a fit of... whimsy? nostalgia? inspiration? I signed up for the
Albany Area CROP Walk to fight hunger. I did several CROP walks and bike-a-thons as a teenager, back when they were 10 mile walks and 50 mile bikes! This is a token 3 mile walk (with a 1 mile option, but I plan to do the 3 miles). Sadly, after signing up I discovered that folks at my church are loyal to their friends who have been doing this for years, so I have NO sponsors, and really no other local contacts to draw on since church is my workplace too.

Will any of you help me make walking worthwhile? You can click the link above to donate on my behalf. If I can raise $100 I'll donate that much myself, and enjoy seeing new sites and meeting new people on the walk; if not I'll withdraw, rather than claim a t-shirt for just my own donation, which seems pointless.

Direct CROP donations go to Church World Service. If you prefer not to donate through them, there is a box on the donation form to enter another agency name. The list of other agencies is here.
Donations to HI (Heifer International) would make me especially happy.
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I tried to go to Saratoga National Historic Park today, but they were burning the grasslands, so I ended up at the Saratoga Monument instead, and the surrounding cemeteries.

Four more )
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Lovely Celtic-style cross in the cemetery across the street.

Three more )
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31 years ago I found out I was pregnant and began to furnish a nursery. There was a crib in the family, but no changing table, and as I shopped I didn't like what I saw. Traditional changing tables were mostly cutesy, and so clearly one-use, and very low-- I'm tall. Then I found a 'convertible' armoire, unfinished. It was almost too tall, but it had rails that could be removed, and a large compartment with a hanging rod for baby sizes, and shelves to install later. I finished it in golden pine, used it as Laura's changing table, and then took it back as my own dresser.

Today.... I installed the shelves. :)
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I am very much a cat person; a cat magnet, even. I have rarely encountered a cat that didn't warm up to me rapidly. So when my husband wanted a cat that would be his, 12 years ago, I was very careful to not befriend her in her first month or so with us, and to not seek her out after that. It worked; Gypsy is very much his cat. When he moved to New York ahead of me last year, he brought her along, so their connection was reinforced. She follows him around, sits at his feet, sleeps with him-- under the covers, snuggled up by his side (though occasionally when he's restless she'll move over to me). I am perfectly content with the company of Oscar and Felix.

David's been traveling on business recently; has been gone 12 of the last 15 days. I've been consoling Gypsy as best I can, and the last few nights she has demanded to get under the covers with me. Which is fine... except that every single time, we are both sound asleep when one of the boy cats comes up to sleep with me, and unsuspectingly walks across the lump that is her, and I'm woken up by the resulting catfight, half of which is under the blankets beside me.

More pics

Apr. 18th, 2015 09:47 pm
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A man and his dog out for an evening paddle. That's the base of Erie Canal Lock #2 in the background.

Four more )
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A headstone from the Earl Cemetery north of here. Just three graves, the Earls and their son, all buried there in the 19th century.

Three more )

Pics!

Apr. 11th, 2015 10:26 pm
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Someone has been busy! Clearly a beaver took this tree down within the last few days.

more )
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My first turtle of the year, at a lovely park-- well, Environmental Education Center-- just a few miles from my church.

Done!

Apr. 5th, 2015 05:14 pm
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Yes, I have survived! All parts of the service went well, with one tiny exception that doesn't bother me at all (a handbell descant that didn't come together). I chose not to socialize after, since I am still feeling unwell, but a number of people sought me out after (music area is by the exit). Nearly everyone not only told me that they loved the music, but mentioned a particular piece that stood out-- which raises the value of the compliment quite a bit. In fact several people commented on music from Thursday or Friday, when the nature of the service doesn't encourage socializing after. The fact that they remembered and mentioned that music today means a lot.

Bought a few groceries on the way home, then slept like a log for several hours. Have now begun to assemble a very minimal Easter dinner, which we will enjoy while watching Torchwood, our current family viewing.
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The fun began for me in the wee hours of April Fool's Day, when one of our bed risers spontaneously collapsed, waking my husband and me from sound sleep. Seriously, if anything was moving, it was a cat. So anyway, after leaping out of bed in shock, we discovered that we were both feeling unwell, in different ways. Scary as not only is it Holy Week, but he had a major work deadline looming. In the morning he headed off to the doctor, while I treated my less severe symptoms and soldiered on.

Thursday was my first challenge. Not only did I have an evening service; before it I had a rehearsal with the handbell choir, and then a brief joint rehearsal of bells and choir, preparing an Easter anthem. Both parts of rehearsal went very well; with a good warmup on Sunday I think the anthem will be very impressive. Then I finished warming the choir up for the evening service; that required more mental adjustment than actual singing. After getting the adrenalin running with the big Easter anthem, I had to bring them back to a quiet frame of mind for the very gentle Maundy Thursday anthems.

A month ago I was feeling a deep need to sink my teeth into some really challenging music; what I settled on was a very eerie Lubeck fugue, which I played as prelude Thursday night. It went very well, and I think set the mood for the evening perfectly.

The service seemed to drain the last of my energy; by the time I got home I felt quite ill, and yesterday I slept nearly all day. I eventually went down to the church late in the afternoon, and did about half as much practice as I intended. The service went beautifully again; a highlight for me was that my daughter sang alto in the a cappella quartet that sang the special music for the evening.

And now it is Saturday, and I still feel like a limp dishrag, so will not practice at all. I'm praying that a thorough warmup tomorrow will be enough to get me through my organ music, and that by tomorrow I'll have energy to get through the rest!

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Mar. 31st, 2015 08:58 pm
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Turkeys have returned to the soccer fields down the street; a flock of about 20 in all. There are also deer tracks.
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Last night a volunteer at church emailed me asking that I revise a paragraph about the church music program, which still referenced my predecessor. I sent back the revision with a note that it's not clear to me what my title actually is-- the job description to which I responded said "Minister of Music" but folk tend to refer to me as "Director of Music."

Gail responded apologetically, and then asked what title I wanted-- she'd gladly give me any title I wanted. I responded, "Grand Musical Wizard!"

Because Gail has a sense of humor, the rough draft lists me as Grand Musical Wizard. When someone notices, she'll clarify what actual title should be there.

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Mar. 11th, 2015 08:45 pm
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So absolutely wonderful to be walking outdoors again!

Pics!

Mar. 10th, 2015 09:33 pm
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The shapes and colors of bricks and barrels in the snow caught my eye.

Three more )
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I am not a fan of Frozen, nor of Let It Go-- except that the song has one supreme virtue. It is the Anti-Earworm.

A year or two ago I read something that suggested that the way to get rid of an ear worm is to force it to a conclusion; and if you can't manage that, deliberately change songs to something that you can force to a conclusion.

Frozen has a stunningly clear and conclusive final cadence. Just get it in your head, let it wail away for a while, and then sing (internally or externally) "the cold never bothered me anyway." Done!
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When I interviewed at Delmar, the only point I negotiated was Sundays off: they offered 3, I asked for 6, we settled on 5 Sundays off (two full weeks of vacation, the others for worshipping elsewhere). Today was the first I've taken. I lined up a sub, and invited the handbell choir to provide the offertory and anthem. Then the fun started-- handbells had members who couldn't play Sunday, or needed to miss rehearsals, and then the director had a family emergency. And then the organ developed a glitch, and I had to call in our organ guy.

Despite all the hassles, this morning I headed for First Presbyterian in downtown Albany. Big church, big choir, big pipe organ, Tiffany windows. It was snowy so attendance was a bit sparse, but the choir was in full voice. The organist played the Pachelbel Canon as prelude, using some of the digital stops that have been added to the organ along with the pipes; I'm afraid I wasn't very impressed with the blend. The service was quite high-church for Presbys, with a chanted Kyrie and Psalm as well as Doxology and Gloria Patri. The choral introit and anthem were solid, and the offertory-- a spiritual setting by Moses Hogan-- was really extraordinary. A couple of the hymns were of African American origin, and played rather uncomfortably on organ-- but I think the piano probably gets lost in the whole room, and is used mostly to accompany the choir.

The organist is retiring in a couple of weeks. Today for postlude she played Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor-- as I did just before I left CLC 6 months ago. I sat back to listen, and was delighted to note that most of the choir and about a third of the congregation did the same, and stayed for the whole 10 minutes or so. I admit to giving the stink-eye to a couple of people who chose to sit and chat full voice; it worked. It was really wonderful to hear that piece played on a big pipe organ (with no obvious digital enhancement this time).

Pics

Feb. 7th, 2015 09:55 pm
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Finally got in some more sewing time. Click through to see the fun method for making these.

Three more )
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After about a year, I'm starting a new quilt-- life just got in the way for a while. A couple of people have asked questions about my process, so I'm going to attempt to blog it.

The first spark of an idea for a quilt can come from a particular fabric (like the dragons years ago), a color combination or a design. The first two weren't happening for me, so I grabbed a magazine from our stash, and the very first design in it jumped out at me-- to my surprise, a simple pinwheel block. Two thoughts struck me: "That'd be great in bolder colors" and "I can try the nifty technique for making half/triangle squares."

Next, fabric. We have a HUGE stash, stuff we've bought plus the remains of a generous gift from another quilter. So I 'shopped' at Laura's apartment. I knew I wanted two or three colors, and for some reason I didn't want any red this time. So I grabbed various piles, sorted by color, and simply pulled out fabrics that spoke to me. In half an hour I had a pile of about 30 fabrics, in shades of yellow, green and blue. Then I started pawing through them, looking for sets of fabrics that played together well. In a few minutes I had three small piles of fabric. I was particularly struck by three bold graphic prints in the same color family, so I went looking for a tiny print that works with them (I almost never use actual solid colors). Here's the result:

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Pics

Jan. 24th, 2015 09:31 am
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Wonderful sunshine today, and I needed a lift, so I probed my mind about where I might be able to walk outdoors despite icy conditions. The decision was Peebles Island, at the junction of the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, and I was delighted to see a small herd of deer (at least 8) as I walked.
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