29 March 2009

Sunday morning

This post won't be long. I have a photograph to share.

Our observation of Earth Hour was slightly delayed on account of sun. While the rain continued to fall -- and Tal watched the news and I plugged away at the laundry, suddenly the atmosphere outside and in the house changed. Everything was bathed in an odd light, the sun having broken through the clouds in the west. I abandoned my chore and went outside to be witness to it all. Most striking, I think, were the huge clusters of illuminated yellow jessamine blossoms making their way up pine trees, against the still-dark clouds behind them. None of my photographic efforts did that sight justice.

But, after I had come back inside the light, darkening of course, beckoned me to the porch and that is the sight included here -- the sky not particularly colorful (at least to the human eye), the sky's reflection on the pond a dramatic shade of orange. This photograph was taken with a Panasonic DMC-LX3 set on program.

A result of all this wonderful distraction was that we weren't ready to turn off the lights by 8:30. When all went dark at 8:50, however, it stayed that way.

28 March 2009

Going dim

It has been a long, grey day. I don't think the rain actually stopped at any time during the day and there were moments of absolute deluge. I worked in the gallery in Ridge Spring from 1:00 to 4:00 and, the building, having neither heat nor air conditioning (neither being necessary today anyway), stands open during its Friday and Saturday business hours. After I accomplished the normal shopkeeper duties -- there being no customers, I enjoyed sitting on the porch, experiencing the rain on three sides.

Since I certainly didn't overexert myself at any time today, it has to be the weather. I am remarkably tired. Although it's only 6:30, we have finished dinner and the dishes are done. We had already decided to observe Earth Hour this evening, turning off all non-essential appliances and lights from 8:30 to 9:30. The way it's working out, when the lights are dimmed here at Willowbank, I'm simply going to bed.

The lights'll be out, alright ...

27 March 2009

Drier days in Grand Forks

My ears perk up at every mention of the Red River. It is out of its northward-flowing banks and promising to make this weekend an exceptionally trying one for the citizens of North Dakota and Minnesota. This is photograph of the Red River taken in June of 2006 during an overnight stop on our way to Shining Falls Lodge in Manitoba. I am standing with my back to Grand Forks ND; Tal is in the picture, on the right and wearing a white shirt, looking toward East Grand Forks MN.

The park was built over the years after the last major flood in 1997. The obelisk documents the high water levels in various years, 1997 having been the most excessive, topping out at 54 feet and submerging the roadbed of the Sorlie Bridge. I understand that the flood extended three miles inland on either side of the river. The welcome center on the Canadian side of the Pembina/Emerson border crossing, as you might imagine, features astounding arial photographs of the event.

And, here's Tal at a lighthearted spot on the North Dakota side of the bridge. I pray for the people along the Red River more light-hearted spots, moments and days. This flood of 2009, though, may well put 1997 to shame.

14 March 2009

Staying cool

The title of this post has nothing to do with what our hinting-at-spring weather has done over the course of the past two days. While the temperature plummeted from the mid-80s at the first of the week to this day's grey mid-40s, accompanied by occasional drizzle, this meteorological roller coaster is not unusual for this time of year.

My "coolness" has to do with the cause of my unanticipated blogger silence this past week. On the evening of March 4th I was working on my previously mentioned three meditations and a sermon, when the computer froze. None of the usual tricks to being it back to life worked. Resigned, I turned it off. And, hoping against hope, I turned it back on. What appeared was the ominous and dreaded blue screen, "data is being dumped" the first words that registered in my brain. Oh, woe is me. Not only was that day's work on the presentation pieces not yet backed up, there was also the question of the images I had edited and was planning to print and mount this week (post Wilmington) for next week's gallery opening in Ridge Spring.

Tal was amazed -- even awed -- at my rigid composure, as I told him of my sudden and untimely troubles. No ranting or raving. I was calm, clear and composed. Overall not a cluster a characteristics I normally display when under pressure. After placing a call to and leaving a message with my computer guru, I started the process of recreating (having in my possession, blessedly, paper copies of earlier work). After all, I didn't have any time to spare. Luckily, we have two computers. And, here I have to add that someone near and dear to me maintains if there's an item on which a person regularly depends, it's wise to own two. How right he is.

Anyway, the computer went in for service by 8:30 Thursday morning. At 10:15 Thursday evening I got the call. "There's been a resurrection," were the words that came in replay to my "hello." Whew. When we left for Wilmington on Friday morning, I drove with an incredible air of relief and anticipation, both for the weekend and for having dodge a pretty terrible bullet.

Long story short. The weekend went well, a multitude of encounters with friends from the mid-1990s augmenting the work I'd gone there to do. Our trip home on Monday was relaxed and happy.

I got the computer back on Tuesday morning and am now in the process of doing three things:
  1. moving essential data from the computer's hard drive to an external hard drive, knowing I need to have the one in the computer replaced sooner than later,
  2. looking into an off-site back-up service (like Carbonite, which computer guru recommends) for the really important, irretrievable data and
  3. printing, matting, framing those not-lost photographic images, ever grateful that they are still available to me. The show, after all, must go on!

04 March 2009

A two-level operation

I have been thinking about Hugh Grant in the movie Three Weddings and a Funeral. He's a rather confused, always late and charmingly or irritatingly (depending on one's perspective and preferences) tongue-tied character. His being in my thoughts startled me, scared me a bit.

And, I'm hoping not to be like him this coming weekend. Tal and I are bound for Wilmington NC on Friday morning, where at St James Episcopal Parish I will offer a quiet morning on Saturday and preach on Sunday. My writing the past several days has been focused on three meditations and a sermon. Hence, I surmise, the why of Hugh Grant's appearance in my ruminations.

Anyway, while none of the four pieces of writing are in final form, I do know what I am "going" in/for each and I learned long ago not to fret where such presentations are concerned. Any deliberate scheduling I do in terms of official writing sessions absolutely never works out. Either something demands my attention blowing the schedule completely or, when I do get my way and place myself in front of a legal pad with pen in hand or at the computer with fingers poised, the words refuse to come. So, I formulate general ideas and then wait for God.

In the meantime, though, I can to other things and today that other thing was lunch at midday with a friend at a wonderful little spot -- Manuel's Bread Cafe -- in North Augusta. This establishment is in a new planned development along the Savannah River which includes, in addition to houses, condos and apartments, some interesting retail and even garden plots. The cafe is a storefront and seats only 50, so one has to arrive early to get a seat for lunch. Today being a clear and bright, the staff had placed small tables and chairs along the sidewalk and diners choosing to eat outside did so with plaid stadium blankets over their laps.

My friend had a sea bass dish and I ate a salmon cake. While we savored our memorable, delicious food, we talked of many things, including my three meditations and a sermon. I arrived home that much more clear about my direction for the weekend. I also arrived home and repositioned myself in front of the computer grateful for the marvelous, God-given ability, which we all have to varying degrees, to operate at two distinct levels at the same time, our minds using all of our activities as grist for the mill as it were.

Had I not gone to lunch, had I stayed home and fretted and paced and hated myself for saying yes to going to Wilmington in the first place I likely wouldn't be as far along as I am now. The food, the company, the place, the conversation -- through all that I, my whole being, began to write.

Ahhhh ...

03 March 2009

Square root day

I had no idea when I woke up this morning that a holiday had dawned. National square root day.

It doesn't happen often. Nine times per century, in fact. The last time was February 2nd in 2002 (2-2-02). The next occurrence will be April 4th in 2016 (4-4-16). Get it?

Since I didn't learn about this holiday until late afternoon from my friends at Mitchell Printing in Batesburg, I missed most of it, celebrating without appropriate, well-planned fervor. So, what might appropriate, well-planned fervor involve?

How about, eating radishes cut into cubes. Square roots!

02 March 2009

Spinning in their chairs

Today has been utterly gorgeous. The much-anticipated "winter weather event" predicted for this part of the world -- along I-20 at the Savannah River -- didn't materialize and we woke this morning to clear, blue skies, gusty winds and cold temperatures. The dam on the pond is fine and the spillway is, well, spilling away.

Entertaining as always were the meteorologists on our three local channels as the weekend and its storm approached and then progressed. They get to play with all their advanced computer models and forecasting equipment so infrequently and this may have been their last chance this season for a real winter storm. Taking full advantage of their powers, then, they warned and what iffed about the danger, they color-coded and categorized threat levels, they announced school closings and advised staying off the roads.

Alas. While locales to our north received measurable amounts of snow, I-85 running from Atlanta to Charlotte via Greenville turned into a multi-mile long parking lot, and thousands lost power, we watched and waited in vain. And, the worst part -- besides Edgefield County public schools being on regular schedule today? With local programming interrupted last evening for a "live weather update" at just the wrong moment, I missed Andy Rooney.

Had there actually been a storm and dangerous weather? I would have been grateful that our meteorologists were on duty. But, I still would have been amused at their barely contained excitement as they flipped among a multitude of screens, spun around in their chairs and hoped for the very worst.

01 March 2009

"ah, there you are ..."

That is the way a friend from a former parish oftentimes begins her handwritten, snail-mailed notes. It's as though she's walked into the room in search of me. "Ah, there you are!" she says, and then launches into animated conversation. She's lively in person and her notes are only slightly less so.

I have been missing. I didn't take the month of February off intentionally. That just happened. And, I don't have much to show for the time I've been hidden away, but I think it's been a productive time, nonetheless.

There have been travels. Six days to Virginia (VTS Alumni/ae Executive Committee and Board of Trustees, plus a visit with the Mechanicsville Tarboxes coming and going). An overnight in Clinton SC for the launch of the Episcopal Search Committee. Another overnight in York SC for the York Place board retreat.

There have been several exceptional events. A Superbowl party to which the local NBC affiliate came (yes, to Edgefield of all places!). Lunch at a new restaurant in N Augusta with a friend. A farewell performance of Riverdance in Columbia. The consecration and dedication of the new chapel at the Bishop Gravatt Camp and Conference Center here in the diocese. Takeout pancakes and sausage on Shrove Tuesday.

There have been periods of quiet. And, it is that aspect of the month which is proving most noteworthy. Writing a piece (on desolation) for our diocesan publication, Crosswalk; preparing three meditations (on forgiveness) for a quiet morning I am to lead next weekend; readying myself to enter several photographs in a local gallery in mid-March have required intentional solitude, focused study, determined courage. Long walks more for simply being than for fitness or even for thinking have taken up countless hours.

From outward appearances February was a fallow month. But, I'm old enough and observant enough and appreciative enough of our earth's cycles to know that there's significant growth happening out of sight during the most fallow of times.

I'm back -- and glad.

A postscript: The rains arrived late on Friday and the water continues to fall this afternoon. Almost 48 hours so far. Yesterday some periods of precipitation were so long and intense that the overflow on the pond couldn't handle the water. Fortunately, Tal's son, Bruce, was visiting for the morning and together they widened the spillway in time to save the dam. But, it was close.

The photograph to the left shows our normal route across the spillway and onto the dam. Below is a view of Tal and Bruce at work. You can see in the upper left quadrant where the water had been crossing the dam before they increased the flow through the spillway.