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Monday, March 25, 2013

Bell Choir

     My wife Juli is in the church Bell Choir.  At first it was very hard for her.  It had been quite a few years since she had to read music and it was a bit of shock to look at a page full of notes.  However, that did not last too long.  Especially since all she had to do was keep track of 2 or 3 notes on that page.  Playing in a bell choir you generally are responsible 2 or 3 bells - so 2 or 3 notes.  She got her hands on some colored pencils and now every time she get new music she takes the time to go through the piece and mark those notes.

     So now all she has to do is count.  It is funny to watch her concentrate on that page as they play.  Every Saturday they all get together to practice.  Since I am off work on that day and usually too cold to go outside and draw I go with her often.  Over the past year I have built up a small collection of sketches.

The ladies quite often goof off and there a lot of laughing.  Sometimes the laughing comes from the counting outload.
During practice several of them sit through it.
They switch out at times for chimes,
a few months ago they decided to get a director(Doug Udell)
Sometimes even he gets lost. When that happens they all laugh.
Not long ago they had a new member join. 
What I enjoy watching most is the multiple bells going at once.
Shirley is the leader of the whole group of ladies.
Last week the Bell Choir played "It is well with my soul" as part of the celebration of lenten Season. I recorded this video from the choir loft.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

You would think that someone who grew up in the carribean would love hiking the tropics or hot climates. That is a resounding no! Don't get me wrong, it is beautiful and I loved it when I did live there. But, you see, because I grew up there I wanted to see something else. Not to mention the fact that I'm 6'5", and 300 lbs. I like cooler weather.

One mountain that I climbed in particular I'll never forget. It is one mountain I'm sure everyone has seen. It's called Mount Crag and it's in Malibu Canyon, Calabasas - Southern California. Still no clue. Think back to the opening sequence to the TV show MASH. Remember the scene of the helicopters flying by the mountain with the cross on top. That's the one.

The mountain is inside Camp Gilmore. A Salvation Army camp that I worked at in 1980. A group of 20 of us was organized to climb to the top, 3 guides and then the rest of us. We set out at 4 a.m., which I thought was too early but I wanted to tackle it. At first it was hard to keep track of the trail but the guides deliberatly walked slowly. Plus each of us had a little light cliped to our backs.
The first half hour was a simple, steady climb. But it suddenly shot up. We did progressivly harder switchbacks and crawls. At some point we all stoped on a ledge half way up. It was 5:45 a.m. From there we followed a thin 45 degree ledge straight up. It was only a foot wide. My left hand held onto a sheer cliff and on my right was - well - nothing but air. This went on for about a mile till a rock ledge rose up on my right over my head, putting us inside a crevase. When I got to the end of the crevase we were a few feet from the top. It was relatively level there with a small "bump" where the cross was anchored in. The cross was 8 feet tall. 

We all sat down. Some of the group were taking pictures. Me, I sat down facing east. Dawn was just breaking. Out in front of me the fog was hugging the ground in a blue gray blanket. Twenty miles away there was another mountain peeking through the fog. It was there that the sun popped out and bathed us in an intense orange light. As I watched the sun rise the fog changed into bright orange cotton candy. At this point I looked down into the camp and was surprised that the street lights were still on and it was pitch black down there. Of course that did not last long, but it still struck me.
My whole life, with pastors for parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, I grew up learning and living the Bible. Many passages from it were always there for me to recall. At that moment I recalled, "Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil." It was drumed into me but it didn't mean much to me until I was on that mountain.
I was in a beautiful place, and it felt great up there. But when I looked down a shiver went down my spine. It seemed dark and gloomy down there. As I watched, though, the light filtered into the valley and one by one the street lights went out. Some just winked off but most flickered on and off - as if fighting to let go of the night. Having felt and seen the beauty and warmth of the sun I thought, "why would I ever walk through that gloom." But just as quickly as I thought that the sun flooded the valley. I realized the meaning behind that verse. That being, regardless of what I do, or where I go - God is right there beside me. That same dark and gloomy valley was a beautiful place with God in it. He can make everything not only bearable but also a joy.

It gave me a sense of confidence that I've carried to this day. Every time I have felt nervous or unsure that image has come back to me. It has made a difference on several occasions. 


Friday, March 22, 2013

Seneca Waterways Council of the Boyscouts of America

As an Assistant Scoutmaster I am working with my council to develop images or design patches for this area.  It is one of the two organizations that I "donate" my services to.  I was asked to come up with a series of patches for this years National Jamboree.  It is the bragging rights of the boys(and girls in the explorers) to sell these patches at the jamboree.  The concept was to have seven coucil patches that reflect the history of the National Jamborees' and of Rochester New York.  So in each patch was half the patch of a specific Jamboree with a scout in the uniform of the period and a Kodak camera of that period with a scene in the background of where it took place.  Since this year is the first year they are allowing the explorers to go too the last council patch has an explorer. The Background has a scene from this years Jamboree.  On the cell phone the explorer is holding are icons of the other six cameras.  In between are filler patches with the troop numbers.  You can see that in the background is a staff.  That is so when pieced together the patches appear to be attched to one(an arrow staff, a wink to the Seneca Indians).  At the top is the arrow head, the scene in it is of a scout repelling down the First Federal building here in Rochester, with the Time Square building in the background. That is a tie in to the patch at the bottom(scout repelling, part of the logo for this years Jamboree) and a tie in to Rochester since that is an annual event held here to raise money for the council.  None of the lettering is visible in the image above(that was the job of the council to give that info to the patch maker).  But it was approved by the council and they are producing about 20,000 patches in all.  The boys get to buy the entire set at $30.  I am hoping that some of my friends would like to buy a set to raise money for the boys going to the Jamboree.  They are making two different sets. A regular set(with red border) at $75 and a collectors set(silver border) at $125.  If any body is interested look them up at Seneca Waterways Council.  It took a lot of work and some frustration(a couple of redesigns).  But it was a lot of fun to do it.  I was forced to reaquaint myself with photoshop and as I worked my way through them I got better and quicker and making them.  But the hardest part was the politics(dealing with all the members of the council and thier oppinions).  No matter what you do in life you can't get away from it.  Thank God I developed a thick skin in the Army.