Monday, March 23, 2015

Weekending and Memories

My go-to place for peace and relaxation is my aunt's home on the California Delta. This was the view from the dock Sunday afternoon:

It is even more relaxing than it looks here. :)

We took a boat ride in the cool morning to go look at a breeding tree full of herons. I did not take any photos because they are so high up and it is hard to get good photos.
They are such fun to see though. 

What I was really taken with were these bananas! 

The winters usually kill these trees but this was a mild winter so they did not die. We were pretty excited to see bananas growing on the Delta! Totally funny to me and really fascinating to see close up. My tropical friends will think - ho-hum - but to us it was pretty cool!

Then we walked through the garden at Korth's Pirate's Lair Marina. I was thrilled to see some spring blooms that don't grow in my yard. Isn't this a gorgeous tulip?

This garden was just a lovely place and I was tickled to see it and take some photos. This bird of paradise was such fun!

We got together this weekend for our family St. Patrick's Day celebration. It was the first one without my 100% Irish grandma. She was absent in ways that were strange. She'd have loved my Irish Soda Bread. She'd have had a Guinness. She'd have loved the pies my mom made from scratch. She'd have been ready to leave before anyone was ready to go. She'd have given me "gas money" because she did that for so many years even when we did not need it. She'd have enjoyed the crazy cooler weather and watching the seasonal birds fly over the house. We'd have loved having her there on her holiday.

But life goes on whether we are ready to do so or not. We laughed and ate and some went swimming or walking and the birds flew over us in the sunshine. 

"For You formed my inward parts, You covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth, Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were all written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them." 
Psalm 139:13-16

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

The Book of Kells is one of the great treasures of Ireland. I have an special affinity for hand-written manuscripts, but especially so for ones with a great story. It is understood that Irish Columban monks living on the remote Scottish island Iona, created this manuscript around the year 750. Iona was the center of St. Columba’s influence, and was where his church was located. The Book of Kells contains the four gospels, a section of Hebrew names, and the Eusebian canons, and it is also known as the “Book of Columba.” In 878 “The Annals of Ulster record that following another Viking attack, the shrine of Colm Cille and 'other relics' are taken to Ireland.” How can it get worse than to be plundered by Vikings? (It can!) In 1066 "The Book is stolen for its cover of gold, inset with precious stones. Months later it is found buried under sods of earth in a bog, without its cover." After this point it was evidently kept fairly together, but the final restoration and binding did not happen until 1953!

Here are a few of the pages of this beautiful treasure. If you click on them, they will enlarge so that you can see what they really look like. Just gorgeous!

A prayer from St. Patrick:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Monday, March 09, 2015

Jennings Publishing - Beginner Guitar Complete Course - A Review

Beginner Guitar Complete Course
Jerry Jennings
Jennings Publishing


So what do you do when your son develops a serious desire to learn guitar, goes so far as to purchase a guitar with his own money, but you don’t have the extra money yourself to do weekly lessons? I think Jerry Jennings, Beginner Guitar Complete Course, is the answer. It has been an excellent choice for us!

The Complete Course comes with: Beginner Guitar Complete Course Study Guide, Guitar 1 Start Out Jammin’ Book & DVD, Triad Magic Book: An Introduction to Guitar Chord Theory (with online video access included), Easy Classic Rock Licks DVD, Beginning Guitar Supplemental Exercises, Posters and Flash Cards. Each of these individual books are stand-alone resources and are individually around $20 on their own. This complete package is priced at only $89. One month of lessons at our local guitar store is $120. This resource has eight months’ worth of weekly lessons!

The Study Guide is the key to using the program and is well-designed to hand to your student directly. (This is a good thing for those of you – like me – with little musical background.) The Study Guide begins like this:

Week 1:

Break out the Guitar 1 Start Out Jammin’ Book/DVD. Work closely with the video to make sure you’re getting your fingers in the right place. Most sections start with a how-to and then follow with a song using the chords or techniques you’ve just learned. Additionally, we will work with the Supplemental Book and online videos.

Then the Guide goes on to explain which lessons in Guitar 1 – Start Our Jammin’, your student will be using, what the focus is for those lessons, and it provides the specifics for each day (page numbers, whether you use the DVD, and how the student should play along with the DVD, etc.) It also gives you the specific instructions for any other books you will be using for that lesson. (Week 1 uses both Guitar 1 and the Beginning Guitar Supplemental Exercises.)

The Study Guide has 32 weeks of lessons and they progress step by step so my student has been learning right along with his digital teacher. My 15 year-old son said he feels the curriculum explains the concepts well (and he started with very little previous guitar knowledge). He felt the DVD kept him on track and he used it to “check and balance” himself to make sure he was doing the lessons correctly. He is progressing smoothly through the package and he is about halfway through the lessons. I am now listening to him play actual songs that I can recognize and that is extremely exciting to me (and to him!) He is really learning and I am thrilled with this product.

The program comes with posters and flashcards. The posters are 8.5” x 11” cardstock and are clearly printed with an eye-pleasing readable font. The posters are: Open Position Notes, The Staff, Triads, Key Signatures, and Circle of 5ths. The flash cards are: Time Signatures, Clefs, and Staffs, Key Signatures, and lastly, Note & Rest Values.

I did the “set it and forget it” method of using this program precisely because I had no previous knowledge of guitar. I wanted to see if he could learn on his own because a lot of music programs promise this result, but not all of them deliver. This one does. I highly recommend Jerry Jennings’ Beginner Guitar Complete Course.

(I received a free copy of this product from Jennings Publishing for review for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.
I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family.
I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.)

Friday, March 06, 2015

Psalm 92

Psalm 92

How Great Are Your Works
(A Psalm. A Song for the Sabbath.)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy.

How great are your works, O Lord!
Your thoughts are very deep!
The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;

but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.

But you have exalted my horn like that of the wild ox;
you have poured over mea fresh oil.
My eyes have seen the downfall of my enemies;
my ears have heard the doom of my evil assailants.

The righteous flourish like the palm tree
and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.
They are planted in the house of the Lord;
they flourish in the courts of our God.

They still bear fruit in old age;
they are ever full of sap and green,
to declare that the Lord is upright;
he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.