Once in a while you hear a song that just floors you.
The latest to get me is one that has been doing the rounds of the adult contemporary stations for the last couple of months. As always, it's incredibly hard to figure out what the song is or the artist because radio stations either never tell you or they tell you while you're paying attention to your driving (I pretty much only listen to the radio in the car.)
So it appears that the following song - Where I Stood by Missy Higgins - who just happens to be Australia's favorite bisexual singer songwriter (not that there's anything wrong with that.) The song has been featured in the TV series Smallville and has started to develop a following for the artist in the US and UK.
Of all the city daily photo sites, Venice Daily Photo is perhaps the best. The combination of the location and the quality of photography is absolutely unrivaled. With this one, though, Pierre outdid even himself:
One of my favorite shirts the past few years has been a polo shirt featuring Grumpy, my favorite of the Seven Dwarves. Sadly, the shirt has seen better days and it's time to retire it. I didn't want to do that without having a replacement, because I got it at Disneyland on a trip Sue and I made in 2005, which was the 50th anniversary of Disneyland, and Sue and I (yes, we were all born in 1955). So I looked everywhere online for something suitable to no avail. But wait, Disney has a "design your own" custom shirt, and Grumpy is one of the available logos. So here it is - the replacement, with my own name in Disney script, no less. At last the old one can be retired with dignity. Well, as much as you can muster with a grumpy dwarf featured prominently...
I just got back from staffing a high school youth weekend - HYC we call them here in the Diocese of Olympia. It's a community that I've been a part of for 18 years, and one I have missed a lot over the last couple of years, having only managed to staff one event since summer 2007. It was so great to be welcomed back so enthusiastically by the staff and by the youth.
One thing I realized this weekend is that I miss taking pictures as much as I used to since I started playing music. But it's a good trade, because we had a great band this weekend and we did all kinds of weird, cool stuff, like playing the old chestnut They'll Know We Are Christians surf-rock style (aided greatly by my awesome guitarist friend Dave who can play just about anything in any style.) Much like, say, The Ventures...
But maybe a picture says it best. Here I am with Flora and Emily, two of the most delightful young ladies you could ever hope to meet:
Not only was it Holy Week last week, it was the official start of the baseball season. The two might seem like chalk and cheese, but baseball is the one game that takes on an almost religious quality. Every new season in every sport is a fresh start, an opportunity to start with a clean sheet. The sins of past seasons are wiped clean and there is an air of optimism in every fan's heart no matter the apparent quality of the team.
The unique thing about baseball is that the game is played pretty much every day for six months. Teams get an occasional day off, but there are several games somewhere every single day. With 162 games to play, no one game looms large and the pace is more relaxed than all other major sports.
Another endearing feature of baseball is that it is uniquely suited to radio. In some ways it's even better to listen to a game unfold on the radio, and the masters of calling a game know just how to pace their delivery of the story to enthrall the listener. The very best voices are deep and measured, with just a hint of gravel. One of the masters for decades has been Harry Kalas, veteran announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies. Having lived in Philadelphia, I remember Kalas fondly, even though it was twenty years ago. It was therefore with much sadness that the baseball world heard this week that Kalas had died at the age of 73 of heart failure while at the stadium preparing for a broadcast.
That wasn't even the most tragic story of the season so far. A week ago, 22 year old Nick Adenhart of the Angels pitched a fabulous game, only the fourth of his young career, and was killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run car accident later that night.
And as if that wasn't enough, Mark Fidrych, an idiosyncratic pitcher in the 70's who had a short but fascinating career, died in a strange accident on his farm at age 54. He has been out of baseball for almost 30 years, and his career was over before I arrived in North America, but his is still an instantly recognized name.
Sometimes sport can be seen as a diversion from life, but it can also often show us more about life and encourage us to make the most of the time we have.
Oh, and it doesn't hurt that the hometown Seattle Mariners are off to an improbably good start, fueling the eternal optimism with which every seaosn starts...
As many religious bloggers have noted, it's Easter Sunday today. The last three days have marked the pinnacle of the Christian year - the tipping point of the whole faith. As we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus it's all too easy to look past what resurrection means in our own lives. Eighteen months ago, more or less, I was in church the day after I got the awful news about Sue, and kneeling at the altar rail I imagined I knew what Gethsemane must have been like for Jesus. There is an enormous amount of hurt and despair in grief.
And yet, if we truly believe in the resurrection, then we must also believe that the separation from our loved ones is only temporary. That is perhaps some comfort, but today was one of those days where the sharpness of the loss was so pointed. I guess it's partly because Easter was Sue's favorite season, and partly because I received a lovely email this morning from a friend reminding me of that.
It did get me thinking about the afterlife, too, triggered by some comments on a post Maggi Dawn wrote a few days ago. She blogged about World Autism Day and her son's Asperger's Syndrome, and he wrote a post himself, then she followed up with a question - would you want to be cured if you could? Several commenters noted that their own differences (for that is what they are - not necessarily disabilities) are what makes them unique, and more importantly, that they would hope to retain those distinctions in an afterlife, whatever form that takes, because those are the things that make them who they are.
But all of us have imperfections (and talents too) large and small that make us unique. For example, Sue had an underactive thyroid. She took synthetic thyroid medication every day since her late 30's. A big deal? Probably not, but it's the kind of thing that's a daily reminder of our mortality. Our bodies require a fine balance of chemicals to be maintained or we get sick and even die in short order if things aren't righted quickly. Right now my knee is a daily reminder of that, too, although the infirmity will fade with time it will always be with me.
We each carry hundreds of these distinguishing features - some of them big, some little, but together they shape us internally and form how we react with the world. For the rest of this week I'm going to try to focus on what makes all the people I meet unique, and I pray we keep our uniqueness intact when we finally make it to heaven...
One last thought - one of the trees I bought and planted last year was a coral bark maple. Bright coral bark with brilliant green leaves. It struggled after planting and shed its leaves early, so I have been worried about it coming back this spring. It hadn't shown any signs of life until this week when - ta-da!
Monday and Tuesday a lite version of our church band played a few songs for the Eucharist each day. Nothing spectacular, and those services are sparsely attended, but they were both really fabulous. The music definitely added a dimension to the experience. Those services also featured two tremendous sermons by Rev. Marda that deserve a wider audience.
Wednesday night, I went to see the dress rehearsal of Pacific Northwest Ballet's Swan Lake. The choreography for this version dates back to 1981 when Kent Stowell, one half of the founding couple of the company, developed it for the Frankfurt Ballet while retaining the style of the Petipa and Ivanova choreography (which was itself a revision to the unsuccessful original). It's beautifully done - absolutely exquisite.
Act I is all setup, and comical at times. It's Prince Siegfried's 21st birthday and his mom gives him a crossbow. As the act ends the prince and his entourage spot something flying and rush off to... shoot and kill something... What better way to celebrate getting a new crossbow? In Act II we first see the swans - 24 of them to be precise. Perfectly synchronized, they dance and swirl to the very familiar, and ever so fabulous, score. The familiar story proceeds from there, and is beautifully danced by all.
There are three main variations on the ending to the story.
The traditional tragic but redeemed ending: Siegried and Odette commit suicide, but their sacrifice breaks von Rothbart's spell and they rise to heaven together.
The happy clappy ending: Siegried breaks von Rothbart's power by breaking a wing and the spell. He and Odette live happily ever after.
The tragic ending: Odette is condemned to remain a swan forever and is forced to leave Siegried, leaving him alone in his grief.
I won't give away which ending this balet has, but if you really want to know, you can check it out here.
It was fascinating to see the cast on stage between acts warming up. And as graceful as the swans are when on stage en pointe, they are pretty much the opposite walking around normally with a black hoodie over the swan costume.
Got quite a bit done at the weekend - taxes done and filed, got some things done around the house.
Looking ahead to Holy Week, there's a bit of a mix of things. Our band is playing for the services today and Tuesday - just a few songs, but these services have been without music in the past. Tonight was great - only 19 people total, but a lovely intimate feel, especially at the Eucharist. It isn't always about numbers.
Wednesday I'll miss the Tenebrae service as I'll be taking a friend to the dress rehearsal for Swan Lake. Should be interesting. Thursday is the Maundy Thursday service with the foot washing. Good Friday I'll be going to an actual performance of Swan Lake, so I'll have to get to the noon service. Two different tragedies in one day.
The Great Vigil is Saturday night, followed by Easter Sunday, of course. I just got a call today to ask if I could fill in serving at the altar for that, so I'll be busy there too.