What’s in your guitar?

This brief but noteworthy bit from Ode is about the wood in your guitar. Out of the 200 varieties of wood used in the construction of guitar bodies 70 of those are endangered.

Taylor guitar

Top brands like Gibson, C.F. Martin & Co., Modulus and Dave Maize now sell guitars made with wood certified as having been grown in sustainably managed forests. Yamaha manufactures guitars made primarily of bamboo, a sustainable alternative which grows three times faster than the next-fastest-growing tree. However, according to The Green Guide (Nov./Dec. 2006), the most sustainable guitar is still a second-hand model.

Hey, we have mostly the second-hand variety. So, if you have an old instrument in your closet, take it out and get it appraised. You might be surprised at what it is worth. Besides, instruments need to be played; don’t hide your musical lamp in the closet! Or in the basement, or under the bed….

Contest Time! Free Music…

Okay all! In the interest of encouraging comments, we’ll be giving away a free CD of our music to the 100th commenter on the site. Here’s the fine print: you can’t be a spammer (duh), and you can’t be a member of our family to qualify. Other than that, the 100th qualified commenter will get some free music coming their way… cool huh?

We get lots of visitors, and it’s great to hear from you… so speak up and get free tunes!

[tags]contest, free, music, giveaway, comments[/tags]

Before winter is over

Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look what they can do when they stick together.

Vesta Kelly

The sun peeking out at St. Mary’s Glacier National Park. How the wind does blow over there…

Sun at St. Mary’s

An inverse perspective on that same theme from Mother Teresa:

What we do is less than a drop in the ocean. But if that drop were missing, the ocean would lack something.

Below is a shot from Oceanside, Oregon of the grand Pacific Ocean. Click on both thumbnails to enlarge.

Oceanside Oregon

Worship sharing: an emerging God

This last Sunday morning (First Day) our worship group practiced a method of vocal ministry which we do not use very much — Worship Sharing. Worship Sharing is a kind of guided meditation. By focusing on a particular question, it helps us to explore our own experience and share with each other more deeply than we would in normal conversation. It seeks to draw us into sacred space, where we can take down our usual defenses, and encounter each other in “that which is eternal.”

(Please read more about Worship Sharing by following the link above to the Friends General Conference site. There is a standard procedure for guiding Worship Sharing which is very respectful and prayerful.)

Our topic chosen several weeks beforehand was: How has our concept of God changed as we have gotten older? In a way this is akin to asking: what does our spiritual journey look like? Here are some thoughts, some themes greatly extended, from my own inner musings during Worship Sharing.

I cannot ever remember not thinking about God. Even though I grew up in a fairly conservative household, being a minister’s daughter, the spiritual environment there was always fairly open. There was no significant amount of fire and brimstone, nor the resulting aura of fear which sometimes pervades some religious communities. I remember asking many questions and, my Mother especially, would answer those questions with: We really don’t know how that works. My father will very often yet say: There is so much we don’t understand about the Spirit and God — other realities and dimensions, which I think is pretty progressive for an old Methodist minister.

When I grew up and went to college I studied Religious Philosophy trying to gain as much insight into what the old medieval masters thought -Meister Eckhart being one of the first mystics I read. I also studied Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Shinto, even those old atheist philosophers with sticks up their butt. I learned a lot but I’m not sure it clarified a huge amount, to be truthful. The thing is, I don’t think that faith — the kind of faith that grounds you to God, has much to do about intellectual capacity. Learning can be a vital, stimulating pursuit and sometimes enlightening on a small scale, but usually those moments of enlightenment flicker like a distant beacon and pass quickly, nearly like an aberration when and if suddenly you are confronted with a crisis or major life decisions. In those instances it has been my experience that I fall back on some fairly primal instincts about God that I think I was just born with, perhaps knew prenatally, or responses which became rooted in the experiential realm of living and learning and striving to be more aware.

I began attending a Friends Meeting in college. I maintained a very open attitude about who God is, obviously which mingled well with Quakerism. I was changing and growing, certainly, but my concept of God was like an iridescent light shimmering in the sun at times. Other moments however it would seem gray and obscured by too many questions. I just accepted this dichotomy as part of living life in the face of death. However, my attitude towards people certainly changed. My idealism took a beating. I sensed in many liberal Quakers a kind of angry despair which I couldn’t seem to grasp – how does that despair evolve in a person? To be a seeker and then end up with so little? That had a profound impact on me and it still is a struggle at times. Why did some of these Friends give up their seeking so soon?

My husband and I realized early on that they were there because it was a safe place to hang their political hat. There was very little discussion nor even mention of God for the better part of many gatherings. This left us with a stale attitude. Looking back, I wish I had put this concern forward more clearly. When we co-founded our Worship Group which we attend now, we quietly attempted to encourage such conversations as the above query invites. (This query topic however, was not at all our idea! The topic suggestion came from another member.)

Yes. The resulting Worship Sharing was filled with rich variations on a theme. Some of the words spoken out of the silence moved me to tears. It was a deep hour we spent as a Worship Group and amazingly healing to us. If this is not God emerging and expanding among us, then I do not know how to label the experience.

When we were practicing Episcopalians and would take part in the Eucharist I realized after a short while that God needs us. I have known this since ‘whenever’ but I was never able to actually verbalize the concept: Kneeling for the Eucharist I realized that God is emerging – ever creative who’s relationship with us is growing and evolving. Of course, that brings into play the entire question of omnipotence, but that has never been a problem for me. We are beings living in the presence of love– an emerging, evolving, creative love. When we love actively, when we love our enemies especially, we are offering ourselves to the holy. And I can partake of the sacrament anywhere, deeply. The sacrament is in the silence of our Worship Group and it is also when I am standing on the edge of the shore watching the waves crash on the rocks and sea stacks around me.

[tags]worship sharing,Quaker,silence,sacrament,faith[/tags]

Hubble and Spitzer Telescopes

Check out Astronomy Today’s Picture of the Day

Wow, what an amazing composite illustration. This artistic depiction of HD 209458b might be an inspiration to our son who is passionate about his Wacom tablet.

Extrasolar planets whose atmospheres have been analyzed by the Spitzer Space Telescope: By comparing eclipsed and uneclipsed spectra very closely, astronomers could deduce bright light-emitting atmospheric gasses that were being blocked during eclipse.

And then enjoy this brief YouTube of pictures brought in by the beloved Hubble Space Telescope:


Interview with newly retired Forest Service Chief Bosworth

Here is a quality article from the Missoula Independent in an interview with former Forest Service Chief Dale Bosworth on fire, frustration and the future of the woods. Bosworth has just come back to Montana from Washington D.C. to retire in Missoula. You will get a good overview of the last few decades of Forest Service Management plus a introduction to the new director for the Forest Service: Chief Abigail R. Kimbell at the article’s end. It is really two articles in one. Here is a small portion of the interview.

Independent: Conservationists and environmentalists are united in their belief that the Bush administration’s environmental record is horrific. What was it like heading one of the most controversial public land management agencies at a time when there was such huge divisiveness and distrust between the administration and the environmental community?

Bosworth:There was a certain level of frustration. What we in the Forest Service are trying to do, and what I was trying to do, is be professional. We’re an organization made up of career people. And we really are not into the partisan politics. And so with the distrust between the environmental community and the Bush administration, it just made it much more difficult for us to build the kind of relationships with both sides of the issues that we’d like to. And then I think also, whichever administration we’re working for, the other folks sort of view us as part of that administration and it makes it harder for us to be able to get our job done.

Zelary, a Czech film

Zelary is a Czech film produced in 2003 — a gem in its genre. Set in the latter months of the Third Reich when the Gestapo was in every corner of eastern Europe hauling people in for questioning, times were tense. A nurse and medical student, Eliska, who is also part of the Czech resistance movement, leads a dangerous, yet fulfilling life in the city. When the resistance group Eliska belongs to is discovered by the Gestapo, she’s forced to seek refuge with Joza, leaving her urban life behind and starting anew in the remote mountains.

Joza was Eliska’s patient in the hospital. When he was brought in with severe injuries sustained in a lumber yard accident, hauled in on a wagon from a secluded village in the mountains. He badly needs a blood transfusion during surgery, which Eliska volunteers to give. Later, she learns that Joza has agreed to become her protector but the only way he can safely do that is to marry her. Very reluctantly Eliska weds this man who is all but a stranger to her and they settle down to a fairly quiet life in his native mountains. The story is a very sweet portrait of how the couple grows into the relationship, initially based on fear of discovery by the Germans; a strong bond between them is formed as they begin to learn to live together within a poor, tiny community of rural Czechoslovakia. The sweeping photography is stunning. The director utilized deeply saturated colors in this film to enhance the mood of changing seasons; emphasizing the powerful influence which the land and weather have on all their lives. Some sequences are very exciting. There is a small amount of violence.

Director Ondrej Trojan and starring Anna Geislerova.

2004 Academy Award®: Best Foreign Language Film nominee Zelary the film

An inadvertant gift of vicarious travel

Last evening we visited friends to share in a birthday celebration. My friend of over 25 years was 57 yesterday and hosted a small, intimate dinner party at their house. Her husband cooked a marvelous main dish of Paella. Another couple we also know quite well provided a delicious fruit salad and I brought a green tossed. We all toasted our friend with wonderful champagne to begin the evening, showering her with good wishes and quiet affection. As is usual when we see these friends we talk much of art, music, literature, other places — all kinds of spiky and balmy ideas drifting and floating amongst us.

During dinner the conversation turned to our friends’ trip to Italy, namely to Tuscany. We have heard them talk of their time in that magical place before. I always long to hear of it further as I have only visited a small hint of northern Italy too many years ago, and then only for a day or two. I long to return and explore Italy properly but for now I am simply absorbing the place vicariously through my friends’ vivid descriptions. And they are gifted in illuminating the place! Through their words the markets move with real people purchasing fresh herbs or produce, the smells waft under my nose from the cafes’ and the food ahhh mama mia. ~~~~

The scene which sparked my overly vivid and sensitive imagination last night was curiously provoked. My friend off-handedly described a certain lane in a specific city, a particular restaurant where she ordered steamed mussels eaten in a delicate fashion accompanied by a notable bottle of wine which they took back with them to their room after the meal. While she spoke, the details poetically emphasized, I was no longer sitting at her birthday table during a Montana February but I was there with that bottle of wine after dinner, on an October evening in Tuscany. It was all so clearly before me that I scarcely realized I was creating my own assumptions. With a shudder a window slammed shut on my beautiful internal photograph — very real in my head just a moment before, and I was shocked that it might be totally skewed or out of focus. Perhaps my brain photo was blurred, or worse – wrong! Oh, but the scene was so perfectly set the way I envisioned it.

I had to know…

“Peggy,” I asked, “did you have the windows open in your room when you went back with your bottle of Tuscan red?” (What I really wanted to know was: Did the sounds from the street float in on the night air and mingle with your soft conversations while you drank wine?)

Much to my relief, Peggy answered “Yes”.

Following your heart with home school

One of the really marvelous things about home schooling is that you get to see your child. I sometimes regret not having home schooled our oldest as I feel he was gone for too long during the day and I missed so much of his growing. He did academically well in public school but still, sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have had him at home. All that said, Aly’s been doing this ever since 6th grade and it’s been full of opportunities for his creative nature. He does spend blocks of time each day on academics, but he is also diligent in the pursuit of other interests like learning how to use Photoshop, video editing software, silk screen art and practicing the drums.

Yes, it does get loud around here in the afternoon when he decides to play his set. And, to add to the vibrations and volume he is way into double bass drumming so he has two of those suckers whacking away. Then the bass drum becomes like a very large woodpecker all frapped out on too much sugar. Whoa… what a sound! But the neat thing is he is good at it so once in awhile I feel myself snapping my fingers or doing an odd skip down the hall. All that big sound could have jarred something loose in me, maybe.

It takes patience and the art of asking the right questions but sometimes I get included in what he’s thinking or reading about, which is invaluable. We end up discussing history, languages or current events the most.  Today it was a discussion regarding:  why the big fuss over Christopher Columbus?  Even the old Greek philosphers built their didaktikos on the art of discourse. He is quite independent these days being enrolled in the first year of the American High School out of Illinois state. He takes care of all the details relevant to his assignments and exams. When he is finished with an exam he fills out the form and mails it off. He has already completed one credit in Psychology and is near to finishing a class in English 1. (He is required to complete 16 credits in order to graduate including three electives.)

He maintains a very positive attitude about his course work, gets good grades, and the comments he receives back on his tests and papers helps further that enthusiasm. When he has trouble in math he calls his older brother up and they work on it over the phone or on the net.  He will ask me for either my help or opinion throughout the week.  If he needs further background in a subject he has many resources on the web at his disposal. The gift in all of this is we as parents get to witness what great discoveries he is making and what a interesting person he is becoming. Even more, we can create our own schedule. We can go skiing during the week if we wish, for example. I can work odd hours if I must and he can make up lessons the next day. We both enjoy the freedom of movement and he is happy. So am I. He is also learning. So am I. I say we make a pretty good team.

[tags]homeschool,American School,creativity,didactic[/tags]