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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's quote: "The Christian way of life does not take away our loneliness; it protects and cherishes it as a precious gift." Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Today's Quote: Truth is truth, whether from the lips of Jesus or Balaam. George MacDonald, from C.S. Lewis, George MacDonald - An Anthology

My Favorite Potrait of Mom, Updated

A kind soul downloaded and worked on a photo of my mom, and sent it to me via e-mail as a tribute to her. I think this is pretty cool. Check out the  original photo.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quote for today: "Man's spirit will be flesh-bound when found at best," GM Hopkins, Caged Skylark, line 12

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

To all my peeps,

A couple of friends and folks in the know have written me publicly to see how I am doing and such, and so as to be open and up front I figured I would just give the basic skinny.

Our church (Covenant Fellowship ARP Church, Greensboro, NC) was very kind last month to grant me a 90 day medical leave to "get better" physically (and emotionally too perhaps). For 2-3 years I had had a kind of gradual cascading series of minor health issues that were adding up to larger health issues and which needed to be addressed, and which as a result had left me for some time generally less energetic and effective than I had been. This included some newer weird stuff that impacted me pretty significantly. After consulting with various folks and our elders, I (and we) decided that it would be best for me (and for Covenant Fellowship) after the medical leave not return to the rigors of full time pastoral ministry at this time, due to reasons/issues related to health, burn out, and family. I've been at CF 16 years (having founded it with Dwight and Susan Thomas), so it's going to be an adjustment for me and everyone. Thankfully I will continue to worship with my brethren there until other things possibly begin to take me away. I and we pray that CF will prosper and that God will direct me to the next thing, whatever that is. I'm looking forward to the opportunities ahead. 

This was all discussed in a sweet spirited congregational meeting this past Sunday. 

I am not 100% sure what I will do next. I will remain a "Reverend" and "Presbyter" in good standing and hope to pick up some "Supply" preaching this summer, expand the work of the Carolina Study Center-Greensboro (and my writing generally), try to find ways to "market" my photography, perhaps take on some work digitizing LP's, cassettes, and VHS tapes (and Beta), scanning slides, film, and restoring old photos, etc), tutor, and start networking for other possible work, maybe teaching again, not sure.

In the mean time I am trying to get fit again since that is the thing that would help the most - and a good friend bought me a three month membership in the City Health Club on Elm Street. I have been working out there,walking, and riding my bike. I hope to hit some serious trails in the next two months too. Uphill trails.

Anyway, that's my life!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Around the Corner - Red Bud Rising

As we head into a period of cool rain, I thought I'd post a picture of what awaits on the other side!

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis L.) Greensboro NC About this picture: well, it was early Spring here in NC, and many flowers were opening up, and I decided after two years I would start to learn how to use my new fangled camera, so I went outside and started trying to capture some shots. The Redbud in our front yard was in full bloom, and the big bumble bees were everywhere. The aroma was amazing. I wish I could capture that - maybe that's the next invention! I tried to focus in on one clump of bud/flowers - but I am still learning the camera settings and haven't got the DOF figured out! (How I miss the manual SLR!). At least I can still focus! This particular red bud took a direct lightning hit last summer. It took half the tree down, but the other half lived!  

About Redbuds in general  

Drive down any interstate highway in the piedmont of North Carolina in early March, and you will see splashes of light purple here and there along the tree line, giving the heart a sense of added hope that Spring is coming. This dash of purple is from one of our more humble native trees, the red bud. Why it’s not called the purple bud is a mystery. Not even the bud itself is red, but some see the color as reddish purple, and perhaps growing in different soils it looks more red than purple.

But around here both bud and flower are light purple, or at best purplish pink. The red bud is actually a member of the bean family. As early spring flower turns to fruit, and as the summer progresses, thick dark bean pods about 3 inches long hang heavily from the red bud limbs, and providing another source of food for a few birds such as bobwhites and cardinals, and some mammals such as deer and squirrels, though the red bud fruit is generally not a food favorite. Bees however love the nectar of the flowers. The bean pods persist often well into winter hanging and rattling in the winter wind well after the leaves have fallen. 

In our early forests, red buds, along with dogwoods and ironwoods and sourwoods, would have found their place under the great canopy trees of oak and chestnut and hickory and tulip poplar, taking what sun they could get, and offering another level of habitat for animals and visual beauty for human visitors. 

The red bud makes for an excellent garden tree. It’s leaf is sort of a rounded heart shape, about as wide as tall, three to five inches across. The tree tends toward a bushy appearance with multiple branches, though it can be pruned to one or two primary trunks. It’s a bit of a gangly tree, no two looking just alike, thus lending character to the suburban yard. It grows fairly slowly and reaches a maximum height of 20-30 feet at most. In the fall the large red bud leaves turn yellow and tend to fall from the tree all at once, making for easy care.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Life Is in the Bud

Greetings to all in Greensboro on a cool March day, 2009. I hope your day is going well so far.

The other day I walked by
The Perfect Tree (a Post Oak) on Elm Street I saw that its end-buds (buds tend to be clumped at the end of oak twigs) were starting to swell, soon to open and fill the air with oak pollen. Last evening I noticed that the birch tree catkins (from the white or paper birch trees by our patio) are just starting to swell and elongate. Soon, birch pollen will cover our patio. I pity my neighbors with allergies, but I love, in the truest sense of deep and abiding affection (and praise to God), the “miracle” of Spring. OK, so I am a biology geek, but tree buds are way cool. Their formation, dormancy, and opening is akin to conception, development, and birth in animals, and almost as fascinating.

Spring is here! Take a break. Go outside and walk around and look at the perfectly ordinary and common tree buds all around you. They are swelling. Many have opened already and we see leaves on their trees – maple trees for example. Others are just getting ready to open, such as dogwoods. Notice the covering of the buds. All winter long those bud scales, sometimes one big scale, sometimes two, sometimes more, have protected the life inside the bud from the cold and wetness outside. One freezing rain storm after another may coat the tree with ice, but the bud scales keep the life inside the bud safe and ready to grow when the time is right.

Inside are tiny leaves and/or flowers, either well-formed in miniature, or at least already differentiated as cells ready to take on full form. What energy the tree didn’t put into its seeds or store in its roots last summer and fall, it has packed into these buds. Indeed, as last summer wound down, and the buds
which would lie dormant over the winter started to form, the tree “knew” to transfer important energy sources from the leaves and roots to the buds.

These buds are rich in energy which is why deer and other animals like to eat them. As the buds open they will attract the season’s very earliest insects, crawling and flying, to their moisture and sugars. Over the next few weeks Greensboro will be filled with budding coming-to-life trees, awash with flowers. Tree flowers aren’t all as bright and glorious like red buds and cherries. But each is beautiful and fascinating in its own way, if you have eyes to see. And the overall effect of abundant small flowers and young leaves can be quite beautiful as well. I think in particular of the beautiful earth tones of oak tree catkins and early leaves. This lends a feel of autumn to stands of budding/leaving/blooming oaks. Sometimes the most beautiful things are faint, and less showy. So keep your eyes peeled, and if you have a chance, go bud watching. It’s at least as fun as sitting at a computer all day!

Early Crocus, Fisher Park, Greensboro


The stamen anthers are particularly interesting - they kind of look like "antlers"

My photostream

Friday, March 20, 2009

Guilford Building and House of Prints

I like this picture - not sure why - hope you do too.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pink Perfection, Old First Pres Cemetery, Greensboro Historical Musum

This was my favorite variety in Nanny's Garden, and I am always delighted when I find it somewhere.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Southern Gothic

This pic has a cool southern Gothic feel to it. 

Monday, March 16, 2009

Pink Camelia, Rear View, Fisher Park

Took this last Tuesday, the 10th, in Fisher Park. Seems like a month ago. Look forward to sunny skies again.

My photostream.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Reaching For the Sun

Fisher Park, Greensboro, Early Spring 2009

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Quality Turntable, Cassette Deck

Hi Everyone,

I am trying to buy/borrow/or rent a high quality turntable and a high quality cassette deck for digitizing some cassettes and LP's. I would like a turntable that has ability to have a new quality cartridge/needle if need be. Vintage equipment from the 70's would be fine.

Joel