Musing on moonlight

I live in a rural county where there are no street lights to speak of. When I go outside at night in my yard, I can see lots of stars. This is a nightly delight for me. The changing positions of the constellations, the different locations through the seasons of the planets, all combine to make the sky dynamic and ever-changing palette of a portrait of glory.

The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.

(Psalm 19:1-2).

The moon is a special pleasure. It pulls the major weight in making the night and morning sky dynamic. Its phases and nightly rising and setting are also captivating to observe. When there is a supermoon or a blue moon or a strawberry moon and such, I go outside and try to take photos. Well, I DO take photos, but what I try to do is take good photos. I don’t have a tripod so the photos invariably turn out just OK or sometimes not very good at all.

Here are a few of my favorite moon photos-

moon 3
Clearest shot I ever got. And I’ve tried many times over the years! At least
I have *one*, lol
strawberry moon
Strawberry moon
moon 4
Pink dawn & moonset behind chicken houses

When I was in my traveling period, one of the most wonderful experiences I’d had was attending the McDonald Observatory Star Party. McDonald Observatory is part of the University of Texas at Austin but 450 miles west of the campus, in West Texas at Fort Davis. Yes, it’s remote. All of West Texas felt remote, a feeling helped by the fact that the landscape at times even looked like the moon!

At the Star Party, visitors enjoy night sky constellation tours and views of celestial objects through a number of telescopes, with scientists and astronomers standing by to explain what you’re seeing. I was privileged to see Saturn and its rings through the observatory telescope!

There’s something about moonlight that just tickles my fancy. As a kid I was entranced by it. Truth be told, as an adult I’m pretty fond of moonlight, still. When the moon shone in my window at night, I’d lay bathing in it and dream of fairies sliding down its beams. I’d bask in the delicate light washing me with exquisite daintiness. I was always amazed at how the moonlight appeared on my bed, washing my coverlets with elegant light so distinct from the glow of the sun. The moonlight was more austerely silver, sliding across my pillow and like quicksilver, drifting away no matter how hard I tried to hold it close to me.

David Bowie’s song Let’s Dance contained the phrase ‘serious moonlight’ which, given the ephemeral quality of moonlight, is something that would be as far as serious as possible, but that’s the joy of poetry – mind-bending juxtapositions.

Van Morrison’s Moondance, with its verse

And all the night’s magic seems to whisper and hush
And all the soft moonlight seems to shine in your blush

Seems more in keeping with the qualities of moonlight.

Now, here’s a thoroughly drenched atmospheric beginning to a poem, The Highwayman by Alfred Noyes,

The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—
   Riding—riding—
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door.

Oh my, ‘ghostly galleon’ is a turn of phrase I envy his mind to think up! And tossed upon cloudy seas brings to mind the exact photo above of the moon in its clouds. How wonderful are poets and writers!

Here is a classic poem by Lucy Maud Montgomery called Harbor Moonrise. I love its charming evocation of the harbor particularly with the mother-o’-pearl edging of the harbor of all the lights twinkling at night, like a woman with a lustrous necklace. The moon as the pilot ship of unknown seas, similar to Noyes’ ghostly galleon upon cloudy seas. Ah, when language is used well, it’s a joy.

Here is a page of classic poems about the moon

As the moon rises and sets in its course each night, look up. Remember the men who sailed there in their own rocket ships, not on wings of poetry but in metal tanks of gas and hope. They landed, walked, admired, and came home having truly bathed in the beams of the distant but close companion of earth. Each night we look at the wandering pilot ship of the skies, the eternal dance among stars and planets, celestial bodies which our God has made.

Harbor Moonrise by Lucy Maud Montgomery

There is never a wind to sing o’er the sea
On its dimpled bosom that holdeth in fee
Wealth of silver and magicry;
And the harbor is like to an ebon cup
With mother-o’-pearl to the lips lined up,
And brimmed with the wine of entranced delight,
Purple and rare, from the flagon of night.

Lo, in the east is a glamor and gleam,
Like waves that lap on the shores of dream,
Or voice their lure in a poet’s theme!
And behind the curtseying fisher boats
The barge of the rising moon upfloats,
The pilot ship over unknown seas
Of treasure-laden cloud argosies.

Ere ever she drifts from the ocean’s rim,
Out from the background of shadows dim,
Stealeth a boat o’er her golden rim;
Noiselessly, swiftly, it swayeth by
Into the bourne of enchanted sky,
Like a fairy shallop that seeks the strand
Of a far and uncharted fairyland.

Now, ere the sleeping winds may stir,
Send, O, my heart, a wish with her,
Like to a venturous mariner;
For who knoweth but that on an elfin sea
She may meet the bark that is sailing to thee,
And, winging thy message across the foam,
May hasten the hour when thy ship comes home?

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Overanalyzing my soup

Oh, happy weekend. What a restorative, wonderful thing a weekend is. Not that I had such a hard week at work. Half of it was at home due to the lengthy Christmas holiday break. Wednesday was a teacher work day, so we didn’t even have kids. It was a quiet day working and preparing. Thursday and Friday the kids came back and we resumed our regular schedule, but not totally. We won’t have reading groups until Monday and I wasn’t doing any interventions my first hour. So, again, a slower day.

Even so, the resumption of work in an elementary school after a two week time off always hits me like a ton of bricks. Regular readers know that I value quiet time (look at the title of my blog, after all). I get easily overwhelmed and overstimulated with all the hubbub at school, so I restrict my sensory input while I’m at home in order to try and maintain a balance and to recover so I’m fit for public the next day.

This morning I arose at 5 am, because I’d gotten 7 hours of sleep and that is when my body wakes me up. I love the regularity with which my body stays on schedule. 7 hours on the dot. So I got up and started the coffee and did a little cooking and then took out the trash. By then the sun was just poking up over the horizon, and the sky was azure laced with pink.

The half moon was blazing brightly and starkly down upon a still earth. No traffic. No people. Peaceful. Just the ever present rooster crowing next door, the whisper of a light breeze stirring in the magnolia tree, and a few sleepy birds chirping hopefully.

Just the way I like it.

I made a black bean chili with onion, corn, and roasted red peppers. I added some rice I’d had left over. It will be topped at serving with sour cream and avocado slices, as the chili will thicken through the week.

I also popped some potatoes in my crockpot, and as mentioned I had cooked roasted red peppers, and roasted carrots, baked tilapia and some salmon, and roasted carrots. Those are my meals for the week. I also have yogurt and fruit in the fridge for desserts and snacks.

It ended up being a huge pot of chili, but that’s OK, I’ll eat it for lunch every day. My style of cooking doesn’t suit unless you don’t mind eating the same thing every day. I like that. I know what I’ll be having and I don’t have to put any mental energy into deciding, preparing, or buying something.

Samantha Craft has an autistic son and is an autistic person herself – as she discovered later in her life. She wrote a book called Everyday Aspie, and it’s getting good reviews. I read her blog (now retired since she wrote her book) and this checklist for Females with Aspergers is phenomenal. It helped me understand some things. Many, many things on this checklist are true for me. Not all, but many. This one especially resonated:

  1. Analyzes existence, the meaning of life, and everything, continually

I do analyze everything continually. I analyze the most efficient way to organize a schedule of tasks, and then whether to perform them clockwise or counterclockwise in the room. Say, making the bed, putting away the clothes, and so on. I analyze the most efficient way to make the meals for the week, which to do first, next, last, in what order and how big to cut things and so on. I do all this in my mind in two to three minutes. I do the same in the grocery store. If I forget an item I won’t backtrack. I leave it. If it’s a critical item for cooking I adjust my menu. I analyze where to put things in the car depending on how I plan to park it when I get home. Sometimes I edit a sentence three ways before saying it as I’m saying it. Whatever I do I analyze first. I expend significant amounts of mental energy analyzing, assessing, and deciding everything at every moment. It’s not unconscious, but nearly so. My brain whirs at high speed, all day. If I can suspend even one decision by cooking something and sticking with it all week for lunch and not have to decide, all the better.

The 1981 movie The Four Seasons starred Alan Alda and Carol Burnett. I liked it back then. One of my favorite scenes is when the three couples are relaxing on a yacht, psychiatrist Alda breaks the peaceful mood by analyzing something aloud. They all throw shells at him and tell him to shut up, that he overanalyzes everything. Peace is restored, but only momentarily. Alda breaks the silence again, saying “But do you know why I analyze?” That’s me.

I’m enjoying the book Run with the Horsemen by Ferrol Sams. The book blurb says Ferrol Sams was a physician, humorist, storyteller, and the bestselling author of eight novels rooted in the oral tradition of southern humor and folklore. He lived in Fayetteville GA. He is a good writer who brings the between-the-wars time period of red clay Georgia to life. One reviewer said Sams was like a modern day Mark Twain. I agree.

Also I’m liking a Philip Graham Ryken book called Art for God’s Sake: A Call to Recover the Arts. Book blurb:

The creation sings to us with the visual beauty of God’s handiwork. But what of man-made art? Much of it is devoid of sacred beauty and is often rejected by Christians. Christian artists struggle to find acceptance within the church.

It’s only 64 pages so I expect to finish it today after church. After that I have no idea which book I’ll select next. There are so many I have to choose from!

I hope you all have a wonderful week. It is supposed to warm up finally later in the week. No more tens for overnight temps and highs in the mid to upper 60’s Georgia comes through for my climate enjoyment again!

Here are a few photos to leave you with

winter
Winter in the backyard
teacup
Hot tea in an Aynsley Louis XV bone china cup
murray
Murray relaxing by the fire

Of Ink Spots, airline road, and china

antiques store

A trip today on the back roads to Ila, and The Special Store, is a swooping, soaring ride at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. It made me think of my favorite ride of all time, The Airline Road, Route 9, in northern Maine.

It is not named for airplanes, as the road was first surveyed in 1797, and began to be used more heavily in the mid 1800s when the stage came through. It is specifically a segment of Route 9 from Bangor to Calais.

The leg from Bangor to Calais is often referred to as “The Airline” commonly thought to be due to its shorter route than the older U.S. 1. (Before the coming of air travel, the term airline often referred to such a shortcut.)  Wikipedia

1024px-Maine_State_Route_9_map.svg

However, the local legend is that it’s called The Airline Road because of the geography. As you drive, the elevation is a little higher, and the vistas are sweeping over the blueberry barrens, glacial fields, pine forests. It feels as though you are flying at low altitude over the tree tops, soaring and swooping with the eagles. It’s incredible.

When you handle a good machine, it feels great. I was driving a VW Passat. It’s built like a tank, meaning solidly. It traverses the bumps as if they were pillows, and the interior is practically sound proof. I was singing to my music and enjoying the Georgia scenery, as well as liking the handling of the car.

Is there any better feeling, of being free and unencumbered, on vacation, driving and singing, on a sunny day?

My journey took me to The Special Store. I’ve mentioned this place before. They buy from estate sales and then resell, but seemingly for pennies. The prices are incredible and the quality of the items is astounding. It’s a bargain hunter’s dream come true. It’s like a treasure hunt inside of a museum, but you get to take home the cool stuff you find.

Speaking of taking home, this is the stuff I got today:

Aynsley fine English Bone China is among the best to collect. It’s a good name. I thought the gold was elegant. From Parcels-of-time.com:

The name “Aynsley” has been connected with English bone china tableware, giftware and commemorative items since it was founded in 1775 by John Aynsley dans le Staffordshire.  The company is one of the last remaining manufacturers of bone china in Stoke-on-Trent, the historic centre for the production of English bone china.
Over the last 200 plus years Aynsley grew into a well-respected china company that was commissioned by royalty and that exports china to over 70 countries. Although modernisation changed many working practices in Stoke-on-Trent, Aynsley kept the traditional method of throwing and painting china by hand.

anysley teacup markingaynsley teacup

The proprietor told me the book published in 1982, run with the horsemen, was by a local man, by Ferrol Sams, who went to Emory and is now a doctor. It’s a coming of age memoir of growing up in Middle Georgia. She’s read his works before and recommended them. So I picked it up. It has good reviews on Amazon and from the NY Times also. I got the Hibbert book because I love King Arthur.

books

Ahrenfeldt is one of the factories that made Limoges fine bone china. Charles Ahrenfeldt was active under this particular mark, from 1890 to 1930.

limoge markinglimoge teacup double handle

 

My car has a cassette player and a CD player. I got “30 years of No. 1 Country Hits”, the “Ink Spots”, and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”. Also Gospel/Contemporary music by Phillips, Craig, & Dean, and the Mamas & the Papas. I used to listen to them on the radio when they first came out. Oy I’m old. The teacups and saucers were $3.15 each.

If you don’t know of The Ink Spots, here is from Discogs.com

The Ink Spots were a popular African-American vocal group who gained international fame in the 1930s and 1940s. Best known for their recordings of Pop ballads, The Ink Spots were frequent chart toppers totaling over 50 hits in their 17 year recording career. Their best selling record “If I Didn’t Care” sold over 19 million copies and is currently the 7th best selling single of all time. Bill Kenny (leader) disbanded The Ink Spots in 1954 however many spin-off or imposter groups have been performing and recording ever since.

The proprietor and I reminisced about when music was music, the radio station had an actual DJ you could call and ask for some particular piece of music, do dedications, and the people’s interest and votes made the songs climb the charts, not a corporate robot DJ with a shove down your throat song list. Oy, I sound like a grouchy old lady. “In my day sonny boy…”
The car I’m driving has a terrific sound system and I played Mamas/Papas all the way home.

The music was 50 cents apiece.

music

It’s a retro 1960s glass vase, hand blown.

orange vasestill life with teachps

So that was my day. I’m now having orange spice tea from the Aynsley cup and about to start the Sams book.

Have a good weekend and Happy New Year everyone.

Using what you already have

I collect books. I read them. I look at them. I use them as reference. I love books. I always have.

I live in a small apartment. I am committed to tiny living and low consumerism. It’s about 400 sf or so, and I like to keep it uncluttered.

These two lifestyle facts conflict, lol. Accumulating books and living small and uncluttered don’t really go together. I have no problem letting go any item, dish, clothing, or furniture, except books. I tend to hang on to those.

The key to living tiny is to make intentional and considered decisions about what I allow to come into the house. Good reference books are expensive, and building a theological library takes time and money- and space.

So when a friend sent me some hefty theological tomes, I was ecstatic! However, the problem that presented itself was, where to put them? My bookcases are officially full, and I even have a couple of ‘piles’ artfully arranged on the coffee table and the end table. Anymore and it’d be clutter. Buying another bookcase is not in the cards financially, and I really don’t have space. Letting some books go isn’t in the cards either. When I moved here (ten years ago) I reduced my library by half. The books I have now are books I want.

What to do?

In keeping with the tiny house style of thinking, and adhering to my commitment not to run out and just buy my solutions, it’s important to be intentional and mindful, as I mentioned before. It’s also important to be creative. When you look at a piece of furniture or another item, see its potential uses apart from its intended use. A tray can become an end table top. Or a picture frame. I call this “Use what you have.”

Everyone has stuff they can repurpose. Stuff in the garage on a shelf that can be put to use. Something under the sink that will solve the problem. An unused piece of furniture stashed in a corner, that with just a bit of creativity can be used in a new way. I’ve written about the bureau that I use as a major piece of furniture in my living room as a storage solution. And the yard sale find of the end table with a hole in the top that with a piece of marble at the same yard sale being sold as a cutting board, laid atop the table makes it new- and classy.

In searching for a solution to the ‘where to put these books’ conundrum, I didn’t want a large bookcase. I really don’t have room. So I thought and pondered and thought, and when I went outside to enjoy the sunrise this morning, I saw the solution.

The plant stand. AKA the CD tower. Now the Bookcase.

A few years ago I’d found what was billed as a CD tower at a yard sale. I bought it and thought the wrought iron look would go well with my outdoor furniture. There was a large hanging plant hook outside my door. I hung it there and put plants on it. Voila.

patiopatio 2

I took the plants off and put them on the Farmer’s Table and took the CD tower/Plant stand inside.

I had some room next to my leather chair in the bedroom. It isn’t far from the small sofa end table that has some of my books, and the main bookcase that holds most of them. It doesn’t take up a lot of room, actual room or eye-room.

bedroom
Before
new bookshelf
After

Guaranteed, any small storage problem you have, any minor irritation you experience in daily home living (like, where can I put all my belts? How can I display my teacups? This vacuum is always in my way!) can be solved by a little imagination and by using what you already have.

Further Reading

HGTV is practical as always:
Reusing everyday items for a more organized home

Bored Panda is outlandish but fun:
30 Creative Ways to Repurpose & Reuse Old Stuff

Some of these are creatively genius!
50 Creative Ways to Repurpose, Reuse and Upcycle Old Things

Christmas carols, what does *that* mean? #3: Noël

I’m doing a short series on unknown lyrics in Christmas songs and hymns. I wrote about “bells on bob tails ring” from Jingle Bells, and then “We three kings of Orient are…” and focused on the Orient mentioned in the song.

Someone asked me recently when I mentioned I’m doing this series, what does “Noel” mean. The song “The First Noel” is explained from Wikipedia:

[It] is a traditional classical English Christmas carol, most likely from the early modern period, although possibly earlier. Noel is an Early Modern English synonym of “Christmas”.

The First Noel is of Cornish origin. Its current form was first published in Carols Ancient and Modern (1823) and Gilbert and Sandys Carols (1833).

The Annunciation to the shepherds and the Adoration of the shepherds are episodes in the Nativity of Jesus described in the second chapter of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 2). The Star of Bethlehem appears in the story of the Magi (the Wise Men) in the Gospel of Matthew; it does not appear in the story of the shepherds.

The song seems to go even earlier than that, as titled The First Nowell, here explained,

Words & Music: Traditional English carol of the 16th or 17th century, but possibly dating from as early as the 13th Century. This combination of tune and lyrics first appeared in the early 1800s.

This interesting and deeper history of carols in general and The First Noel in particular, is explained here at History of Hymns published by a UMC site:

The second question is, “What does ‘noel’ mean?” “Nowell,” the English transliteration, comes from the old French “nouel,” which is now written in modern French as “noël.” The derivation of this word probably comes from the earlier Latin term “natalis,” relating to a birth.

I had this misconception too, that noel was from the French. So I’m glad my friend asked me:

The First Noel is unknown in origin but is generally thought to be English dating back to the sixteenth century. There is a misconception that the First Noel was French and it is believed that this is because of the French spelling of Noel as opposed to the olde English Anglo-Saxon spelling of the word as in Nowell. After England was captured by the Normans numerous words were adopted from the Norman French language and Noel was re-spelt as Nowell, early printed versions of this carol use the Nowell spelling. The First Noel was first published in 1833 when it appeared in “Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern,” a collection of seasonal carols gathered by William B. Sandys.

Here is a rendition of The First Noel that I like. Hope you do too… Thanks for reading!

A good (birth)day

It is cold here in north Georgia this morning but the day is bright and it’s filled with nice scenes of yards with Christmas lights and upcoming Christmas break at home for two weeks. So all is well.

Here is my yard. The neighbors on the other side of the house put up the outside decorations. I put the brightest light I had in the front window, it shows to the street.

This morning I’m cooking my weekly things. On the menu this week will be

Vegetable soup with rice
Green bean and tofu salad
Quinoa salad
Roasted orange peppers
Roasted broccoli
Crock pot baked potatoes

Putting washed potatoes in the crock pot with a little water and opening the thing two hours later is the easiest way I’ve ever found to get a bunch of potatoes done. They come out soooo soft! I store them in the fridge all week and use them in soup or home fries or just cold as a snack.

I’m listening to RC Sproul’s RefNet music and sermons. He died this week. I have taken two classes from him at Ligonier Connect online. The Recovering the Beauty of the Arts and Knowing Scripture. I’ve also read a few of his books, and I have more on Kindle waiting for me to read them. Of course I love RefNet.fm, which blesses me very time I turn to the channel online. I think that is my favorite contribution to the faith that Sproul made. Though I’ve engaged with him in the virtual world, he hasn’t had a huge effect on me, I didn’t think. But his passing the other day brought more sadness to my heart than I thought would be there. He was a good warrior of the faith and he taught many people about God and His holiness. He was a stalwart friend to fellow theologians. For that I thank him. He is glorified now and with the Lord. Amen that Jesus gave us a future!

We have two and a half more days of school. It’s kind of good we have these orphaned days. We have time to do some fun things without interrupting the academics. There fun things coming up are a school-wide pajama day, school movie, classroom Christmas party, an awards assembly…and of course enjoying the kids’ excitement for Christmas and the shenanigans of the Elf on the Shelf.

We get two weeks off. I plan to cook, read, nap, and study. Nothing too different, than always, lol. I bought a book on living by the wisdom of Ecclesiastes, The Gospel According to Jesus (finish the last chapters), a book on Winston Churchill a lovely young friend gave me, and a book called, Main-Travelled Roads, a collection of short stories by the American author Hamlin Garland. First published in 1891 it recounts agrarian life in the upper midwest at that time.

I also plan to catch up on the past lesson of MacArthur’s Biblical Doctrine I’m going through with a Facebook Group that I haven’t done yet. Of course church and family group and Bible Discussion group will be great too.

If things work out I will go around and take photos of our lovely county. The kitties will get some snuggles, too. It’s a quiet life, but I’ve had enough adventure, travel, and excitement to last a lifetime. I ready for quiet, relaxing, and private.

I am pleased to see that the cardinals, which disappeared from my yard a couple of years ago, are back. Yay. There is a bird tweeting heartily now, outside my window. How pleasurable!

I used to listen to this song a lot before I was saved. I thought it was sweet and relaxing. Simple and kind. I did used to wonder how a person could not worry about every little thing, and if every little thing could really be all right. After salvation I know the answer. Jesus takes care of us, and no matter the circumstances, harsh or gentle, cold or warm, high or low, every little thing WILL be all right.

Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
Matthew 6:26

Have a good weekend and week ahead everyone.

 

Christmas Carols: What does that mean? #2- We three kings from…the Orient?

I was always confused by the line in the Christmas song We Three Kings which said they were from the Orient.

We three kings of Orient are;
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star

Refrain:
O star of wonder, star of night,
Star with royal beauty bright,
Westward leading, still proceeding,
Guide us to thy perfect light.

The Christmas carol was written by John Henry Hopkins, Jr. in 1857. We truly do not know how many kings visited Jesus in His nativity nor for certain what country of origin from which they traveled. Traditions says Persia.

However since the scripture in Matthew 2:1 says they traveled from the east, then since the east in that time up to now has been called the Orient, then, the Orient it is.

I’d always thought the Orient meant Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, etc. Isn’t that the Orient? Is Persia, Syria, or even India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan the orient? Yes, and no. According to Wikipedia,

The Orient is the East, traditionally comprising anything that belongs to the Eastern world, in relation to Europe.

The term “Orient” derives from the Latin word oriens meaning “east”. … Also, many ancient temples, including pagan temples and the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, were built with their main entrances facing the East. This tradition was carried on in Christian churches. To situate them in such a manner was to “orient” them in the proper direction. When something was facing the correct direction, it was said to be in the proper orientation. (Source)

The Easton Bible Dictionary defines biblical use of east,

The orient (mizrah); the rising of the sun. Thus “the east country” is the country lying to the east of Syria, the Elymais (Zechariah 8:7).

(2). Properly what is in front of one, or a country that is before or in front of another; the rendering of the word kedem . In pointing out the quarters, a Hebrew always looked with his face toward the east. The word kedem is used when the four quarters of the world are described (Genesis 13:14 ; 28:14); and mizrah when the east only is distinguished from the west ( Joshua 11:3 ; Psalms 50:1 ; 103:12 , etc.). In Genesis 25:6 “eastward” is literally “unto the land of kedem;” i.e., the lands lying east of Palestine, namely, Arabia, Mesopotamia, etc.

Whether you are from the Orient or the Occident, we celebrate the Savior’s birth who threw away our sins as far as the east is from the west. (Psalm 103:12).
compass