Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Chalice Tree



As I walk the parkway each morning I fall in love with some of the trees.  The small crabapples seduce me with explosions of pink and white blossoms in the spring, and their twisted branches haunt me in the winter.  I adore the huge oak that towers above me and reaches out over the parkway with gnarled and upturned hands.  In autumn it showers the parkway with leathery brown leaves, and squirrels revel in the fresh crop of acorns.  I love the huge willow trees by the bridge over the parkway river.  They are the first to green in the spring and the last to lose color in the fall, and their long hair vines and big knobby trunks intrigue me.  One of the willows has five trunks, and I have affectionately named it my family tree, one limb for each of us. 

My first love was the chalice tree.  As I turned south to enter the parkway, an old hackberry stood at the corner.  It was not a particularly pretty tree, but it always caught my attention because it was  separate from its large neighbors.  After several walks I noticed that the straight base trunk separated into several large branches, all at the same conjunction.  They formed a cup shape which spread and ascended into a full leafy top.  I nicknamed it the chalice tree.  I often thought about Christ when I saw the tree, and I began to associate it with things spiritual.  It became a symbol of light to me, and I was especially fond of it.  I have photographs of  God rays coming through its branches.  I thought of it as my special tree.

While on a morning walk two springs ago, I saw park maintenance men cutting it down.  I was with my husband at the time, and I commented to him how much I loved the tree and why.  We realized that the tree was being removed to give better visibility to drivers entering the parkway, and that it would indeed be a good improvement.  My logical self agreed-after all, it’s just a tree-, but my heart was very sad.  I grieved for the loss of my tree.  

After we returned home, my husband returned and inquired about the wood remaining.  Is it available for firewood, he asked.   He was given permission to gather up the remnants, and he brought them home. 

I thought of the children’s book  The Giving Tree.  The  chalice tree had now become our own giving tree.    As it was cut into pieces, my heart was also wounded, but  now  it lives in my home, creating heat and light to warm the soul as well as the body.  It became part of the very air I breathed.  It became part of me.

My tree

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Christmas perspective

    
Christmas is such a busy and emotional season for many of us!  It's so easy to get caught up in the shopping, baking, list-making, music making, and worries.  Sometimes it's difficult to have a good perspective during this season.  While researching the internet this morning I found this lovely article that has helped me. Maybe it will also help you!
http://swedenborgstudy.com/articles/christmas/mc80.htm

     Here is a link to a music video  you can listen to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fH9nK_9OBDg

Friday, November 21, 2014

Weekly Music Nugget 66


     I recently found an obituary for Melvin Ritter, my former violin teacher during my two years at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo.  He was my most influential teacher.
     Mr. Ritter played some crucial roles in my development as a violinist and musician.  He pushed me with personal and musical challenges.  I was a timid player, lacking confidence and preoccupied with trying not to make mistakes.  He pushed and pushed me to move beyond just focusing on the notes and to play with feeling.  I still remember him often tapping me on the head with his bow and nearly yelling, "I don't care if you play some notes out of tune.  Just play!".   I finally got it, and he gave me some performance opportunities.  I played aggressively with temperament.  A new me.
     I later had teachers who helped me refine my playing, but it was Mr. Ritter who believed I had music in me and somehow got it out.  I will always love him for that.

Obituary link
http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/obituaries/melvin-ritter-dies-acclaimed-violinist-and-concertmaster-at-the-slso/article_54d4868c-8ca6-5d2c-8e61-ab76fbcc7a2e.html

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Weekly Music Nugget 65--Meet the Mormons

     My husband and I recently saw the movie Meet the Mormons. It was a beautiful.  I recommend to everyone; if you are not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it's a great way to learn about "Mormons".

     At the end of the movie is a song Glorious, sung by David Archuletta.  It's a lovely song that fits beautifully at the conclusion of the movie.  I find it very uplifting. Below is a link to it
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GytW_rgr0RM

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy


       I  read reviews of Guardians of the Galaxy and saw the trailer.  I didn't have much interest in seeing it. I was unimpressed; it seemed goofy, especially the raccoon and tree. Silly stuff.  I began to think it might be fun after continually seeing good reviews, and last night our family saw it. 
       I was wrong.  I loved this movie.  There was some rough language and violence (close eyes), but it was very funny in places, and there was some heavy emotional content which gave depth to the story.  And those two characters I thought were silly?  The raccoon grew on me, but the real surprise was the tree guy.  Oh, what fabulous things the writers did to that character!  At first he seemed like a big, strong  doofus (he can only say three words, "I am Groot"), but as the story deepens he becomes the strength of this little band of outcasts.  One of the most beautiful scenes I have seen in a movie occurs as he sacrifices himself out of love for the group.  I won't tell you how (watch the movie), but it was very moving.  I'm still thinking about it.  It's worth seeing the movie just for this scene.
      

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Weekly Music Nugget 64

     I'm not a big opera fan, but a few months ago I discovered the German operatic tenor Jonas Kaufmann, and I have been periodically listening to him via YouTube.  I think his singing is marvelous, in every way.  Here is a link to one of my favorite scenes from Puccini's Madame Butterfly.  It's a rehearsal, and the video isn't very good...but just listen!!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Op7RmV7S3c&feature=kp

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Pride

    It seems I am slowing coming to an understanding of what pride is.  I'm not referring to the good feeling that accompanies worthy, hard won accomplishments, such as the pride of a parent for a child who has worked hard to achieve something good and then gets it.  I'm talking about the kind of pride that is full of  "I'm right" and You're wrong", the pride that lifts us up above other people.  It can be very subtle. 
     For lack of time, I'm not going into more detail.  I'm posting a link a good Meridian Magazine article instead.  It explains pride in the context of the Mormon excommunication which has been in the news.
http://ldsmag.com/article/1/14554

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Everything Old is New Again

     As I was working on family history a few weeks ago I began a notebook of memories about members of my family, immediate and extended.  One of the people I made a list for was my Aunt Hoto.  Her real name was Hilda, and she was the youngest sibling of my grandmother.
     Aunt Hoto was a widow by the time I was born.  She had no children.  She owned a duplex in Indianapolis, the upper level of which was an apartment she rented out.  She spent many years living below.  When I was born, my parents lived in the upper level.  They lived there until I was 3 or 4, at which time we moved to New Castle, IN.
      During my late childhood through teenage years, I visited my aunt a few times a year.  The visits went through the late 1960s,  at which time she moved permanently.
      I watched her neighborhood change in the sixties.  That was the period of white flight in Indianapolis, and her neighborhood was hard hit.  There was a gradual overturn of the population there, and by the time she moved, she and her friend Ethel King (who lived around the block) were the last two white people to leave.  The neighborhood also changed physically; houses were not kept up, and yards became messy and overgrown.  I noticed the change because I didn't look at it everyday.  The change was very noticeable from visit to visit.  My aunt was tough and didn't care about race, but she left after coming home from working at the courthouse to find her home broken into and robbed.
     After she left the area continued to deteriorate.  I assumed for many years that it became hard inner city.  While working on family history recently I found her address and thought it might be interesting to find it on Google maps.
     I expected to find  the area in terrible shape.  As I looked at the satellite images, I was shocked.  I looked and looked....yes, it was the right place.  It was...beautiful.  Absolutely lovely.  What happened here?!  Is this for real, I wondered...
     I did some research on the internet and discovered  that indeed, the area had been horrible.  It was part of Dodge City, an area of Indy known for deserted homes, empty blocks, and drive-by shootings.  Around 2001 this area was picked to be rebuilt with a special federal grant (I think this is correct....see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_Creek_Place,_Indianapolis ).  The homes are now originals mixed with new ones built in the original style of the neighborhood.  My aunt's house appears to be gone, but lovely new homes like hers, updated, stand there.  They even have garages at the end of the long yards behind each, very much like that of my aunt. The neighborhood seems very attractive.
     I would never have guessed  this would happen.  It was a joy to see photos and read about the transformation.  My aunt and mother had great taste and style; I like to think their whisperings from the other side helped the project!
    
    

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sunday Musing 30-Repentance





     I have recently been pondering Adam and Eve's experience with guilt, and the hiding that followed.  When we do something wrong, our first instinct is often to hide it.  We feel shame and guilt.  The word isolation has been on my mind; we tend to isolate ourselves from God when we realize we are not living as we should. We go hide in the bushes, so to speak.  Pretty soon we get used to the isolation and  forget that we are  separated.  We might even begin to rationalize and justify what we have done in an attempt, conscious or unconscious, to make the guilt go away (another kind of hiding).  Some of us react this way to even little lapses in generally good behavior.  It might not be something we have done; it might be things we have neglected to do that drives us into the bushes.
     While pondering this I became aware of how this behavior is destructive.  It separates us from God.  It's bad enough that we have done something wrong (or think it's much worse than it is, in some cases); we  make our situation more lengthy and complicated when we separate ourselves from God.  Our river of personal growth is damned up.
     The Lord wants us to come to Him; the adversary encourages us to hide.  We need to come out of the bushes and move forward.  That takes faith.  That can be the start of repentance.  That's what the Atonement of Christ is for. 
     I found this wonderful article this morning while looking for LDS blogs.  It's a great explanation of what repentance is.  http://www.thereturnedmissionary.com/6-things-repentance-does-not-mean/

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

LDS Women and Priesthood

     This is a link to an article on Meridian Magazine.  I really like it; I agree with the writer.  It's too bad people don't get a chance to hear balanced news about religious issues.  It seems most  national news media (maybe all) is more concerned about money, ratings, power, etc. than truth.  So sad...and frightening.  This is the United States of America, but even here it seems God is often tucked away in a backroom offstage.

http://ldsmag.com/article/1/14073

Friday, March 14, 2014

Weekly Music Nugget 63

     This weekend I am playing two concerts which include lots of spiccato and  sautille bowings.  These are different varieties of bowings in which the bow is bounced (kind of like little jumps).
     I remember how difficult it was for me to learn how to play spiccato.  Different teachers worked with me, to no avail.  Finally my college violin teacher changed my bow grip, and I was off and running.  Once I figured it out, I could quickly move ahead.
     My next  challenge was sautille.  This bow stroke utilizes the natural springiness of the bow.  It only works in what is known as the "sweet spot" of the bow, which varies a bit from bow to bow.  The sensation is that the bow is doing the "bouncing" by itself (some say the bow actually never leaves the string), but the performer controls it.  It's hard to explain, and it's hard to teach.  I remember discussions about it in my pedagogy classes years ago.  This little discussion doesn't do it justice.
     When it was time for me to learn sautille, once again I didn't get it.  My teacher (BYU at the time) tried all kinds of things, and nothing worked.  One day he used a different word.  I don't remember what the word was, but something clicked and I figured out the bow stroke.  Then I was off and running; in fact, once I got it, it became a strength.
     This afternoon I watched a YouTube video about teaching sautille to violists.  It was not particularly good, and as I reflected on my experiences with sautille, I suddenly realized that sautille isn't taught.  It is discovered.  It's kind of like learning to ride a bike.  How do you explain how to ride a bike?  That's pretty tricky.  You show and you explain.  You hold the bike while the rider attempts it.  Finally, often after many failed attempts, the rider gets it.  The rider practices for awhile, and he is off and running independently.  Now, ask the rider how this came about!
     Teaching sautille is a process of guided discovery!
    

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Musing 29/ Gift in the sky

     Today has been a difficult day.  At church something triggered some depressing thoughts and I've been battling them all day.  I had a choir rehearsal late this afternoon, and on the way there I reminisced about the beautiful big, open sky I saw on our trips west the past few years.  I loved that sky!  I was feeling melancholy (even though a little voice in the back of my head said I wouldn't like South Dakota right now...barren, bleak and cold.....).
     I soon began directing the church choir and forgot all about the sky.  When I left I looked to the west and saw a spectacular sunset.  It was gorgeous--washes of hot pink, orange, lavender and gray.  While I watched the colors peaked.  I then remembered what I had been thinking about before the rehearsal.  Ha, ha, I thought...all is not lost!  I'll gratefully take this gift!

Monday, January 6, 2014

2014 Beginning

 
  
I've been pondering light and today it settled into a personal message for me.  My motto for this year is "Let there be light".  So far this means choosing the right and allowing myself to feel good about myself.  It means not feeding mediocrity.  It means getting in touch with feelings again.  My this is a heavy post.....mostly for me, I guess.  And all of this is still evolving in my head!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Sunday Musings 28/A Beginning

     In preparation for a church class I attend, I have started reading the creation story.  I felt impressed with verse 3 of Genesis which states "And God asaid, Let there be blight: and there was light". What happened after the earth was created, before any life as we define it?  The power had to be turned on.
     I believe light is the power source of both physical and spiritual life.  The sun feeds the earth with the former, and the Light of Christ is a source of the latter.  
     It's hard to describe what the Light of Christ is; some call it our conscience.  Perhaps it is the source of our awareness of right and wrong and that unknown but sensed belief in God. Maybe some would define it as a light of goodness. In any case, if we recognize it and follow it, we will find light within ourselves, and we will want to share it.  I believe that eventually it will lead us to God.
     "Let there be light" implies that God does not want us to be in darkness all the time, both physically and spiritually.  Spiritual light can be discovered by looking for it; by believing it is and acting in faith.  We can do that through prayer, meditation, and studying Scriptures.  We are also aided by looking for the good around us and acting upon it; by being good!
     We also need to learn about God.  That entails studying the Scriptures; they are the best source for information about the nature of God.  A study of God will lead us to learning about his commandments to men and the need to follow them in order to fully know Him.  As we follow the Light of Christ in deed and thought, we can eventually experience the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) which will give us a firm witness of the reality of God.
      Oh, how we need more light!  I suppose my explanation here is very simplistic, but sometimes it's good to go back to the basics.  Basic truths form a strong foundation.

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.