Saturday, January 23, 2010

Musical Patterns

The Wednesday evening before Christmas, I had the privilege of attending a family concert in a love old home in Sterling, MA. I've been to this home countless times over the past 35 years or so, but until this night had not heard that it was actually a historic landmark with an interesting story beyond what I already thought was interesting with its current owner (legendary musician/conductor/composer/teacher/mentor Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse of New England Youth Ensemble fame).

In the midst of the concert that various family members and friends (including myself) gave for each other, one of my oldest friends, and my sister's sister-in-law--Connie--told us the story of Virginia's house. I was fascinated! Here's the opening of its history from the Butterick website. If you like sewing and history, this story will interest you:

"The year was 1863. Snowflakes drifted silently past the windowpane covering the hamlet of Sterling, Massachusetts in a blanket of white. Ellen Butterick brought out her sewing basket and spread out the contents on the big, round dining room table. From a piece of sky blue gingham, she was fashioning a dress for her baby son Howard. Carefully, she laid out her fabric, and using wax chalk, began drawing her design.

"Later that evening, Ellen remarked to her husband, a tailor, how much easier it would be if she had a pattern to go by that was the same size as her son. There were patterns that people could use as a guide, but they came in one size. The sewer had to grade (enlarge or reduce) the pattern to the size that was needed. Ebenezer considered her idea: graded patterns. The idea of patterns coming in sizes was revolutionary. He experimented, creating heavy cardboard templates; it quickly became evident that the heavy cardboard patterns were not suitable for folding or shipping throughout the country. Ebenezer tried lighter papers and discovered that tissue paper was ideal to work with and much easier to package.

"The first graded sewing patterns were cut and folded by members of the Butterick family and sold from their home in Sterling, Massachusetts. In no time at all, they needed extra space and expanded into an adjoining house. As business continued to grow, they moved into a larger house in Fitchburg, Massachusetts and in one year, set up a business at 192 Broadway in New York City.

(from "Buttrerick History" website. To read much more, go to

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cardinal Rule

The cardinals are back (they go away for a few months and then return), but there are so many little birds that come to my feeder that they are very hesitant to come feed themselves.

Today, the male sat up in a tree and watched the feeding frenzy below. When the smaller birds finally left, he came down to eat. The female came along, too, but she's very camera shy...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

In Her Steps

Friday afternoon, just before I left school, I went out to fill up the bird feeders. I had last filled them on Wednesday morning and had to step in the new-fallen snow in my dress shoes (my to the dismay of my freezing toes!)... When I went out on Friday, I found that little birds had tried to walk in my footsteps. Kind of cool, don't you think?!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

God-Shaped Hole

I redis- covered these lyrics today, inspired by the worship talk our chaplain gave to the high school students this morning. He was talking about our need as humans to fill a void in our lives and I was reminded of this song a student shared with me several years ago. When I Googled it, I not only found the words (by Plumb) but also the actual music. I must admit, I didn't like the music, but I love the words:

Every point of view has another angle

And every angle has its merit.

But it all comes down to faith

That’s the way I see it.

You can say that love is not divine and

You can say that life is not eternal.

"All we have is now."

But I don't believe it.

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us

And the restless soul is searching.

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us

And it's a void only He can fill.

Does the world seem gray with empty longing,

Wearing every shade of cynical?

And do you ever feel that

There is something missing?

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us

And the restless soul is searching.

There's a God-shaped hole in all of us

And it's a void only He can fill.

That's my point of view...

Monday, January 04, 2010

Day's Work Done

Well, it was a good day, considering. Considering I had to get up at the time I first woke up instead of rolling over and going back to sleep for another hour or so the way I have for the past 12 days ;) Still, it was a good day. It went quickly, and smoothly, and I got home at a reasonable hour. Gotta love that!

And, I got this wonderful poem in an on-line newsletter. I've never seen it before, but thought it was a lovely way to look at life, being grateful for the ordinary blessings of life.

Te Deum: for a New Year
by Charles Reznikoff

Not because of victories
I sing,
having none,
but for the common sunshine,
the breeze,
the largess of the spring.

Not for victory
but for the day's work done
as well as I was able;
not for a seat upon the dais
but at the common table.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Old Time and New Beginnings

Interesting twist on yesterday's post: I found a different version of the hymn in my church hymnal. It adds a stanza and makes the first stanza a question instead of a statement. Makes for an entirely different reading, too, don't you think? And, ironically, in the midst of my "new beginning" ponderings, I attended a wedding this evening between two late septuagenarians (mother of two friends). They've only known each other a month, barely, but figured they needed to "gather their rosebuds while they may, Old Time is still a-flyin'." It was a lovely, funny wedding, full of music and laughter. I wish them all the best.

Is this a day of new beginnings,
Time to remember and move on,
Time too believe what love is bringing,
Laying to rest the pain that’s gone?

How can the seasons of a planet
Mindlessly spinning round its sun
With just a human name and number
Say that some new thing has begun?

Yet through the life and death of Jesus
Love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
Can make for us a world of difference
As faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
Step from the past and leave behind
Its disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
Seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
To show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
Our God is making all things new.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New Beginnings

One of my friends unwittingly sent me on a treasure hunt tonight with his Facebook status. I knew it was a line from either a poem or a hymn, as that's what he typically posts on Friday nights. Usually I know where they come from, but tonight I couldn't place it. Longfellow, I thought. Or Tennyson.

When I Googled the phrase, the first hit sent me to an archived Easter sermon from Boston University's Marsh Chapel. Powerful. I'm glad I found and read it. But it did not credit the lines. So I went back to Google and clicked on the next entry. This time, I got sent to another Easter sermon site. And again, the lines were not credited. Still, the message was strong, and I'm the better for having read it.

Going back yet again to Google, I finally found a site that gave all the lyrics to Brian Wren's new (1978) hymn where I was able to see the lines (third verse) in their context. I can see why they would work for Easter time, but I like them for tonight, for the New Year, for starting anew yet one more time. The most wonderful thing to me is in the last line where it says "our God is making all things new." The truth is, each day is a new opportunity to start afresh with God. He is steady, He is constant. He is always there for us. But each new day, each new year, each new decade is our chance to start anew as well.

So, "Then let us, with the Spirit's daring, step from the past, . . . seeking new beginnings . . . . Happy New Year!

This Is A Day Of New Beginnings

This is a day of new beginnings,
time to remember and move on,
time to believe what love is bringing,
laying to rest the pain that’s gone.

For by the life and death of Jesus,
love’s mighty Spirit, now as then,
can make for us a world of difference,
as faith and hope are born again.

Then let us, with the Spirit’s daring,
step from the past and leave behind
our disappointment, guilt, and grieving,
seeking new paths, and sure to find.

Christ is alive, and goes before us
to show and share what love can do.
This is a day of new beginnings;
our God is making all things new.

-Brian Wren, 1978