All Fall Down

We went hiking around Copperas Pond this evening.

On the way down the hill back to the road I slipped on some loose gravel and took a fall.

My hip has a pretty nasty bruise. I’ll be walking with a bit of a limp for the next few days. But I think I’ll live.

I’m not going to post a selfie of it. That would be TMI.

Minimum Expectations for Church

When I go to church on Sunday I go hoping that I won’t leave church wishing I hadn’t gone.

It’s a low bar for church expectation. I get that.

But when it comes down to it, that’s really the essential thing. If on the way out I wish I hadn’t showed up in the first place, I’m probably not going back. Not unless you’re paying me. My rates are pretty high.

Sometimes it’s the preacher’s fault when that basic expectation isn’t met. Maybe most times. It’s hard to find really good preaching.

But sometimes it’s the congregation.

Sometimes the music sucks. And it’s hard for any preacher to make up for a choir that should have been told to sit down a long time ago.

Sometimes it’s the building. Maybe it was glorious once upon a time. Maybe the people who remain remember and still see it through their stained glass glasses it in it’s former glory. But it’s hard to feel uplifted when the plaster is falling down and dingy carpeting hasn’t been replaced. I don’t care if Aunt Betty donated the pew cushions back in 1952. They look like crap now.

Usually in places where things aren’t well maintained, there is a kind of prevailing depression among the people.

I get that life isn’t a bed of roses. You can’t expect people to be artificially happy all the time. Still, church should more often than not be uplifting.

I get that finding decent preaching and matching it with good music (I don’t care which genre, so long as it doesn’t remind me of nails on a chalkboard) is harder than it sounds. Many congregations would do well to abandon trying to keep up their dinosaur buildings and invest their money in the other two items on my list here, and that’s a step few of those congregations are willing to take.

Even so, when a congregation does pull it off, it’s always a beautiful thing.

6 Months In

It’s almost June 30.

In a couple days 2014 will be half over.

How many New Year’s resolutions have you kept?

If you’ve kept one (or more), what has helped you keep it?

Some people don’t make resolutions. If you’re one of those people, what difference have the last six months made?

For me, resolutions or not, what it comes down to is whether you (or I) care about anything enough to put in the effort.

Just Upstream

Two boys drowned in the river yesterday.

Reports are they were swimming up by the Wilmington flume.

As of last night they’d found one of them.

They still had all the search and rescue folks out looking for the other.

When these things happen farther away, it’s easy to keep your distance from it, to move on to the next news story.

When it happens upstream from your back porch it’s hard not to take it personally.

Dog Shit

Our yard extends a couple blocks down the street toward the village green.

It goes way beyond the house, so it’s not obvious that it’s our yard. Actually most of it is a field. But I mow it near the street to make a little green space.

I also walk the dogs there. So does everyone else. And people let their dogs shit there.

I let our dogs shit there. I try to kick the shit into the weeds. But if it’s a messy one, I wait for it to dry out for a day or two first.

Most people, though, don’t kick the shit.

So I end up kicking a lot more shit than our two dogs are responsible for. And even then, there are always a few that I miss on any given day.

Earlier this week, I was out walking the dogs. The guy who mows the village green was mowing over there as we were walking around. He stopped mowing and got off the tractor to ask me if I let my dogs shit on that strip of grass “over there.”

“Yes,” I said.

He told me that I needed to clean up after my dogs.

Then he mentioned that he’s also the animal control officer.

I told him that I kick the shit into the weeds. I told him that I mow it. I told him that when I mow it I notice a lot of other people use it as a dog shitter and don’t clean up after their dogs, and I’ve thought about putting up signs about kicking shit.

I didn’t tell him that if he wanted to mow my yard for me at town expense I’d consider not letting my dogs shit along there. I probably should have.

Like I said, it’s not obvious that it’s my yard. But it is.

Last Day of School

As of 11:30 am, we have a fifth grader.

Only we have the fifth grader at home for 10 weeks before he actually goes to fifth grade.

The last day of school isn’t really a school day. Never has been. Instead it’s “Talent Show Day.”

Silas and his friend volunteered last week to play Morning Has Broken as a piano duet.

The friend came over so they could practice it.

That’s when they discovered that they each had different arrangements of Morning Has Broken in different keys.

They tried merging the two. Silas was playing chords from one version. His friend was playing the melody line from the other.

They decided it wasn’t going to work.

“What are you going to do?” I asked them.

They both just shrugged. “We don’t know.”

Except now, this morning, they’re on the program for a 4-hand rendition of Morning Has Broken and they’ve got nothing.

Silas wanted me to call the school and tell them that they wouldn’t be playing.

I said he’d have to work that out with his teacher. I suggested as he got out of the car to get on the bus that he talk to Mr. P. right away when he got there. I suggested that maybe his friend could play Morning Has Broken on his own, since that’s the only song he knows, and that Silas could offer to play Little Piece (Schumann).

The talent show starts at 9.

Maybe on the last day of school there will have had a lesson after all, about taking some initiative to solve one’s own problems.

Campfire Nights

Now that Cosmos is over, the new Sunday evening program for the summer is campfire circles.

Weather permitting, a few people bring their guitars and sing folk tunes. Kids toast marshmallows. We eat s’mores.

The best part about it is that it’s outside, and not always at our house.

Much easier clean-up!

Piano Practice

My idea

  • Play through the assigned music several times.
  • Note the places that are hard to get.
  • Work through them repeatedly until getting them, or at least having an idea what I need help with to get them.
  • Play through the assigned music several more times to put the parts together.

His idea

  • Play right hand parts of 2 out of 4 of the assigned pieces once.

Happy Summer

Here in Jay, the longest day of the year is 15 hours, 31 minutes, 59 seconds long.