Monday, September 17, 2012

Backyard gardens

 I'm not sure just how many of you have experienced the aroma and sweet fragrance of the Night Blooming Jasmine.  I planted this one at the end of last summer and the frost and freeze killed all but one branch of the bush.  So I was just not expecting the sort of continued blooms that this plant produces; all summer long.  With each new branch, I get hundreds of small trumpet-like blooms that will only open at night and give off it's sweet aroma.  Each and every evening the air is saturated, if I leave the back door open, the whole house is filled with the jasmine perfume.  It does make for a lovely outdoor party and I will sit outside at the garden table to breath in it's nectar.  I will probable put up a trellis next year and hopefully keep it trained and controlled.

 In the back ground, you can see my two Mango's tree; I started with three and one died.  These are about 3 years old.  Since we do have frost I bring them in during the winter and they grow in spurts.
On the opposite fence I planted 2 small Loofa plants.  As you can see the vines have taken over the back fence, the small building and my garden.  They also give off a faint sweet small as this plant is in the gourd family.  So far I have 4 large tubers that I am hoping to clean and use for bathing.  Will see just how much trouble it's going to be to clean them up.  I will NOT be planting any more loofa's next year.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nothing is by chance

For the past week, I have described our purpose for visiting Washington DC; all of which mean that for us when we are away from home we hardly watch any TV.  Coming back to one's hotel room at the end of a long day is the time we settle in, clear our head, check messages and read other people's postings.  So we missed the last days of the Republican stuff and all of the Democratic Convention and their speakers.  We have to read the messages later.  The chance that my concert at the National Cathedral coincided with most of the majority of Important people being absent from DC probable made the traffic seem easier to navigate around the city.  DC is a large city with lots of things one should see in one's life time; but as one of our bus driver Mr. Map said; it would take more then 40 years to see all of the museums both free and private.

Note; it would be important to recharge the battery of one's camera every night to make sure you don't miss any photo opportunities.  My camera's batteries died when we got the the Lincoln Memorial on the night tour, as you can see in this photo of the Washington Monument.

On this night tour, our driver worked as an Urban Planner before he took this job of a Bus Tour driver. Our first stop was the Navy's Memorial, with 3 fountains that contained the saltwater from each of the Oceans our Navy sailed surrounding the large map of the world and it's oceans; and if you splashed your loved one with the water, you will have good luck.  As he watched us give each other a bath he said that we must be very good friends.
But the tour had to make rather quick stops as there was a time limit so we had to pick and choose.  One of our stops at the Tidal Basin was at the FDR, Dr. King's, Memorial and the second stop had the Korean, Vietnam and Lincoln Memorials; a lot to see and take in, in such a relative short time.

FDR's and the Vietnam Memorials were the two that affected me the most; visiting the four 'room's' of FDR's memorial and reading his quote's made me angry.  Angry, that our representatives that we have sent to Washington have failed to take note and learn the lessons our Nations learned as we struggled to overcome the many years of the Depression. Neglected to take to heart the reasons our Government failed the people.  Our Republican lead Congress failed to learn their history lessons.  And it makes me angry.

My experience standing at the Vietnam memorial, a man made scar on the grounds of the Washington Mall grounds, with it's  marble slabs with the names of our young men who gave their lives engraved on the polished marble face, elicits tears and sobbing.  It manifests a deep pulling connections to be one with the Wall.  Actually touching the Wall open so many memories, feelings, smells that completely emersion one's self into that lifetime so many years ago.  The Wall re-awakes memories forgotten; on purpose, or of times too far into one's past life.  My war experiences were very different from those who walked the rice paddy landscape, broken by bombs, or by chemicals and physically fighting for  their lives in their small private wars.  I think about the combat soldiers I saw; not knowing who lived or who died, and I remember!

On our last day after walking all over washington, we returned to Lincoln's Memorial.  Only I forgot to bring my camera so I have no pictures of that night.  But it was humbling to stand in front of Lincoln's statue placed in that huge chamber upon which are the Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Speech in engrave in the wall for as long as it stands.  As our tour driver, Mr Map said; there is a reason as to why each and every monument is placed and to what and where it faces.  Nothing is haphazardly built in Washington DC.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Clouds on the Skyline Drive

 These pictures were taken on Skyline Drive of the Blue ridge mountains.  There was a very low ceiling that morning with a low clouds.  As we drove down the ridge we had our windows open and no radio playing; we could actually feel the moisture within the car.  Once in a while we stopped at the lookout and would be in sunshine.

FDR's Memorial Quotes

Kay and I have taken a few days to visit some sights, as in buildings, monuments and museums.  Without exception visiting our Nation’s White House and Capitol buildings are a must for anyone who plans to visit our Nation’s Capital.  It is difficult to put into words to describe the Nation’s, National Cathedral; but to stand before the twin towers and the main entrance with the sculpture of the creation is breath taking and humbling. 
For me as a musician and fellow Episcopalian, to have the opportunity to sing in this Gothic style building with its massive Nave and high celling was a once in a lifetime chance and I wasn't going to let this one go by or get away from me.

We visited the Women’s Suffragette Museum describing the struggles of all women to gain the right to vote by passing the 19th Amendment.  It was most enlightening to see a map showing the states that ratified women’s right to vote, which only highlighted the failure of the Southern states to accept women’s constitutional rights as they continued to discriminate against the former slaves; who were now under the landowners boot, existing as sharecroppers. This struggle to organize and demonstrate with marches under threat of arrest did not deter these women.  Women who came together under one flag of unity; from all walks of life; democrat and republican, rich, poor, white, black, mothers and those working in the factories.

Of all the monuments and museums that we could have visited; as the the many different collections of the Smithsonian I popped in and took a few pictures in the Aviation Museum.  But it was only after we had spend a few hours in the American Indian building; which is designed to represent the mountains in Monument Valley.  Our understanding of the horrible conditions that was forced upon them was filled in from our visits to other American Indian Museums in Oklahoma and Texas. The story of being forced to leave their Ancestral homes and lands; herded and corralled to areas the leaders in Washington didn’t think was valuable.  Until oil was discovered on their lands.

These were some of the quote that are carved in the walls of the FDR Memorial depicting his 4 terms of office; quotes that all of our elected official should put to memory once again.  These words are never truer than in today's world of chaos among our government officials.  People who can't remember for who they are representing.

"Men and nature must work hand in hand. The throwing out of balance of the resources of nature throws out 
of balance also the lives of men." 
[from a Message to Congress on the Use of Our Natural Resources, Washington, D.C., January 24, 1935.]

"In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice, 
the path of faith, the path of hope and the path of love toward our fellow men." 
[from a campaign address, Detroit, Michigan, October 2, 1932.]
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those of those who have much; it is 
whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

 I had the very fortunate opportunity to join an adult choir in a grand concert at the National Cathedral this past sunday.  The rehearsals were held in the National City Christian Church, which was the original seat and house of the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church until the early part of the 1900 century when the first section of the Cathedral was finished.  The space was marvelous to sing in, but nothing compared to the Cathedral.  I am standing at the back of the Capital Building looking toward the Washington Monument.
 During our stay, we just had to experience the metro; thankfully, a very helpful gentleman recognized our confusion , and he was a great help in purchasing our tickets to Union Station, Washington.  These escalators were quite lengthy and as we were going up an older gentleman thanked us for blocking his view and all of us were able to keep our composure enough to get to the top.
 This gentleman, so very much so was one of the conductors for the concert, and is the Director of Choirs at Valdosta State University, the Dr. Paul Neal, his sister and his mother.  He really is a wonderful teacher, mentor, and choral conductor with extensive experience conducting a symphonic orchestra.  It was a joy and a thrill to sing with him in such a wonderful space for choral sound.

   The choir was composed of 140 singer from 8 states who paid their own way to came together to perform a variety of great choral music; luckily, I was not the only woman singing the tenor part. There were just 3 rehearsal, one with the orchestra but no percussion.  I was amazed that the choir was able to adopt to a completely change of seating arrangements as to how we rehearsed and with percussion.
     This is my first time to visit Washington and be at the National Cathedral; as a member of a choir that sang this mix of very powerful choral music is something I will never forget. To hear the ending chords ring and echo to the high chambers in the Nave of this church is a musician's thrill.  As an Episcopalian, it is an overpowering Cathedral.  I have visited some of Europe's great Cathedral and grand Churches and Our's is Magnificent.

  As this was my first time visiting the Cathedral, Kay and I took this morning to spend the day touring this marvelous treasure.  The building committee is guessing that it will take another $20 million dollars, all donations and at least 20 years to repair the damage the earthquake caused last year.  The next two photo were taken from the observatory looking down at the Gothic Structure from the East and West side of the church.

  I took a great many picture of the inside and it grandness.  Due to the earthquake they have had to string a series of netting between the lower and upper levels inside the church to catch an occasional falling objects.  I was quite surprised to discover that in this next picture, of the Sacred Spirit Chapel it hold a Tryptic painting done by the American Painter N. C. Wyeth of Chadd's Ford, Pa.  You can find a great many of his painting done by him and his children at the Brandywine Museum, which is also very close to his home and wonderful studio.  Kay and I were lucky enough to discover this wonderful place and had a wonderful tour of his home.  N. C. Wyeth made it a habit to pain the real objects in his paintings.  There is a story that he wanted a paint a picture with an authentic Indian birch bark canoe; so he took the train to New England to find one and had it shipped back to Chadd's Ford by train.  It was used in only one picture, but it still hangs in his studio to this day; along with his copious collection of antique firearms.  The 6 smaller pictures of Doves do represent peace and the hope we as a country can come to our senses.
 Despite the great damage to the church upper structures, spires and other ornaments; not a single stain glass window sustained any damage; and there are a LOT of windows.  But this is a projected reflection of one of those windows on the polished floor.
Tonight, Kay and I took a night tour of the Monuments around the city and they are a sight to see at night; but note to myself, Make sure to charge the camera batteries first; mine battery died half way into the tour.  The most impressive for me was the Vietnam Memorial, and it brought me to tears, enough that I had to step away.  The Korean Memorial should be seen at night, when you can really see the reflections of the solders in the polished black granite wall that is filled with etchings of thousand of soldiers faces.  But the most impressive Memorial is the FDR tribute from a grateful nation.  His words taken from his many resounding speeches that have been captured in the 4 'rooms' of the monument, is so very true to us, now in our time of moral decay and loss of history.  I wish I could take each of our Representatives by the scuff of the neck and make them stand in each 'room' for a day, to read and digest the power of FDR's words and vision.  Our member's of Congress have forgotten the lessons of their father's generation's struggle to overcome the chaos of struggles of survival; as a Nation of the Great Depression.