Posted in Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #4 — Renaissance Man

Okay, Here’s another blast of past photos. It shows an interesting start to a certain pastime of mine. These are pictures of Homecoming from my senior year at Houghton College. The theme that year was obviously some sort of Renaissance Theme.


Now, I noticed in the pictures that the college madrigal singers had been brought in for homecoming because of the theme, and I can see myself — there in blue and silver.


As a non-music major it took me until senior year to try out for the madrigal singers (who sang at the annual Madrigal Dinners at Christmas-time). I made it in the try-outs. Only problem — the rehearsal period overlapped senior writing seminar, which I needed to graduate with my major of writing. So I went to Professor Leax, and he helped me draft a proposal for a special writing class to replace the writing seminar — and included attending as much of it as possible.


So college was where I first got interested in Renaissance madrigals. But it took another 11 years before I got invited by Lee Fenwick  to join Madrigalia Bar Nonne in Kansas City while I was singing with him in the Fine Arts Chorale of Kansas City. And from there began my now 16-year run with MBN and the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.


So now, from that digression back to Homecoming. Naomi Woodmansee was elected homecoming queen, escorted by homecoming king Stephen Beun.


The one “odd” thing in the pictures was the balloon fish. It was Floyd the inflatable flying flounder of Yorkwood House. And apparently it got away, or was let go, some time at the end.


So it just goes to show, you can have fun with something, and never know, years later, what you might be able to do because of it.

Posted in Avondale United Methodist Church, Church

Palm Sunday Brunch at AUMC

The Contemporary Life Class of the Avondale United Methodist Church sponsored its annual Palm Sunday Brunch fundraiser on Palm Sunday from 9 a.m.-12:45 p.m.


As a regular attender, I have come to look forward to this annual event, both for food and fellowship. The fare of sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, fruit, and a hearty assortment of baked goods is always tasty and hearty.


The tables were nicely decorated with budding assortment centerpieces.  But one of my favorite parts of the ambience each year is the live piano music of Susan Dowden. She always has a good assortment of secular and sacred classics that are the perfect aural accomaniment to the meal. I have included one clip from the brunch here:


From the pastry table I want to feature pictures of two items — the excellent scones, and the “bacon and eggs” treats.


No meal is complete with beverages, so I should also mention the beverage table and its fare of hot and cold drinks. Finally, I want to mention that all this goodness is for a good cause — all the proceeds support the ministries of the Contemporary Life Class throughout the year. A definite win-win situation for us all.

DSC05557 DSC05559

Posted in Music

#7: Praise Our God

 (Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Praise our God, all ye His servant, Ye that fear Him, small and great;

With a sacrifice of worship In His glorious presence wait.


Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia – Praise our God!


Praise our God, all ye His servants, For His condescending grace,

For His love that brought salvation To a sinful, fallen race.



Praise our God, all ye His servant, him whom angel hosts acclaim;

Let us join the seraph chorus And His worth to all proclaim.


Posted in Education, Houghton College

A Blast of the Past #3 — Can You Count

More photos from my college days. Birthday photos. The question is which birthday? Do these photos come from the same birthday or different birthdays?


You see, my birthday always fell right around the end of the second semester, usually in the break between the end of semester and finals week. So according to these pictures, I came home one year for my birthday. And my college roommate came with me.


But I also have a picture in the same set of a birthday party taken at Houghton College in my dorm room, during open house. I know this one was junior year. That is me in the middle, getting kisses on both cheeks by the other editors of The Houghton Star. It doesn’t show up in the pictures, but there were balloons in the room — very curious-looking balloons.


So these pictures from the other party, were they Sophomore, Junior or Senior year? It couldn’t be Freshman, because Matthew wasn’t my roommate Freshman year. I don’t think it was Sophomore year, so was it Junior or Senior. Below you can see a picture of the cake with candles — and we were always accurate about number of candles.  So if anyone can correctly count the candles, they can solve this mystery for me.


Posted in Education, Houghton College

A Blast of the Past — my past this time


Yesterday I featured photos from a 23-year-old photo album. They were from my wife’s photo album, events I didn’t experience. Today I started on an album from my own life. These pictures come from my original college days about 28 years ago. They were an assortment of events. And though I had experienced them all, deciding which event some of the pictures were wasn’t easy.  I still have some that I have taken guesses on — they could belong to two or more similar events.

Since the album comes from several events, I am going to divide it into multiple posts. This first post is the one event I am most certain of. I can even give it a specific date — because it was also featured in a news story in the student newspaper: The Houghton Star.

I was editor of the newspaper that year, but I wasn’t editor when the story was published. That week’s edition was put out by two editors who were competing as candidates for the next year’s editorship (the position was elected by the student body). The picture at the top of this article is the cover photo taken by Louis Lovestrand. Below, see the news article about the event, along with some of the amateur photos I took that year — and just recently uncovered in this potpourri of a college photo album.

P.S. — If any Houghton Alumni have recollections of this event, I’d especially enjoy hearing your comments.

The silver-haired woman with the blue umbrella is the Dr. Katherine Lindley referenced in the story. The next issue of The Houghton Star was the spoof issue, and we honored Lindley, who was retiring that year, by doing spoof stories about her taking over the college as Tsarina Katherina (A history professor, her area of expertise was Russian History). I was really proud of the quality of the spoof issue.
This story appeared in the March 27, 1987 edition of The Houghton Star.


Posted in Family

A Blast of the Past — someone else’s past

Earlier this week I started a project I have been intending to work on for quite some time. It will take quite awhile to finish. That project is scanning all our non-digital photos into the computer.

Part of the length of the project is going to be how many photos we have. Another part is going to be locating where all the photos have been stashed and not looked at for the multitude of years since some of them have been taken.

I started by pulling out one photo album from a set we had in a cabinet. They were pictures of a trip Betsy took with her parents to Europe to visit her sister and brother-in-law in the Peace Corps. This was after I knew Betsy, but before we were married, so except for a few stray pictures of me stuck in the back of the album, I didn’t really know anything about the pictures. I recognized the people I know now, before I knew them.

The thing I found interesting is what you see and recognize about pictures when you weren’t there, and weren’t involved. Some of the pictures looked almost postcard-quality — pictures of castles on hillsides, windmills in the Netherlands, etc.

The trip was in 1992, so 23 years ago. I’m going to post some of the photos here, with my comments on what I know, or surmise about them, without the benefit of asking those who were in them what they were. Just to show what sort of impressions they bring.

Very stylish pose of my now mother-in-law on a bench somewhere in Europe.
Picture of my now father-in-law in a cabin of some sort. Probably makes more sense for this to be a train, but something about it makes me want to think it is a boat.
These are neat hanging ships. Wonder where and why there were made to hang there.
My now father-in-law in front of a windmill. I presume in Holland.
My now father-in-law on a bridge somewhere. Sequentially I’m guessing Holland.
The way the houses are set below the street, and with the height of my father-in-law, those houses look too small for him, almost a sort of gingerbread or toy type quality.
My father-in-law trying some sort of stilts.
A picture right before this labeled the house as that of the Ten Booms, making this “The Hiding Place.”
Betsy as a much younger but just as beautiful lady posing somewhere. Is that someone under a piano behind her?
Betsy in front of a windmill, with a hand on what looks like a big corkscrew section of a water pump. Is that part of how they pumped the water out of Holland?
There were several pictures of this church. Nice stained glass.
A street artist must have drawn this. I see his tip bowl there with the “Danke!” for thank you. Quite an impressive picture.
Street musicians.
Postcard perfect.
Betsy posed in nature somewhere.
Betsy and my father-in-law below some sort of ruin.
Neat whole. Betsy and my mother-in-law walking through.
Mother-in-law at a ruin of some sort.
My father-in-law, presumably at the same ruin.
Another picture for a postcard.
Gravestone for a Mozart. Just not sure which one.
This picture was very dark in the original. Couldn’t hardly see anything. Amazing what the digital editing was able to bring out. I see Betsy, Kent, and Carolyn. I assume the other two are people Kent and Carolyn worked with in the Peace Corps.
Another family picture with Peace Corps friends.
Carolyn, Kent and Betsy posing on the stairs to somewhere. Not sure what that interesting building is behind them.
The 92 here was my first clue to the year of the trip. Not sure what Barbakan means.
Crossing the street.
Kent and Carolyn
I assume this is part of Kent and Carolyn’s Peace Corps apartment in Slovakia.
Betsy and her mom. Are those more tombstones in the background?
Someone explaining something to Betsy.
Thrown in the same set, but I think this is a different year. Somewhere between 1992 and 1995. Think I ended up wearing out that orange shirt I wore it so often.
Obviously a different year, if Carolyn is back in the US. Here I am wearing my other shirt of many colors — more purple here, less orange.
This comes from before the trip. Kent and Carolyn’s wedding.
Wedding Photo — Kent and Carolyn.
Carolyn and Betsy in bridal gown and bridesmaid gown. That is a very good look for Betsy. Need to find more sharp outfits like that for her.
Posted in Music

There is a Tavern in the Town

This song has the musical notation of “andante” at the beginning, which I read as a slower speed, but to my ear it feels like it should have a more rollicking tavern-song tempo. The introduction has a lot of octaves in it with a lot of octave jumps, so I tend to play the into slower and continue to speed up when I get into the verse and chorus, then slow back down playing the introduction.  You may also notice where the page turn sometimes interrupts the piano while I keep sing.


There is a tavern in the town, in the town,

And there my dear love sits him down, sits him down,

And drinks his wine ‘mid laughter free,

And never, never thinks of me.


Fare thee well, for I must leave thee, Do not let the parting frieve thee,

And remember that the best of friends must part, must part.

Adieu, adieu, kind friends adieu, adieu, adieu,

I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,

I’ll hang my harp on a weeping willow tree,

And may the world go well with thee.


He left me for a damsel dark, damsel dark,

Eath Friday night they used to spark, used to spark,

And now my love once true to me,

Takes that dark damsel on his knee.



Oh! Dig my gave both wide and deep , wide and deep,

Put tombstones at my head and feet, head and feet,

And on my breast carve a turtle dove,

To signify I die of love.


Posted in Music

#6: Come, Thou Almighty King

 (Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Come, Thou almighty King, Help us Thy name to sing,

Help us to praise: Father, all-glorious, O’er all victorious,

Come and reign over us, Ancient of Days.


Come, thou Incarnate Word, Gird on Thy mighty sword,

Our prayer attend: Come and Thy people bless, and give Thy word success –

Spirit of holiness, On us descend.


Come, Holy Comforter, Thy sacred witness bear

In this glad hour: Thou who almight art, Now rule in ev’ry heart,

And ne’er from us depart, Spirit of pow’r.


To the great One in Three Eternal praises be,

Hence everymore; His sov’reign majesty May we in glory see,

And to eternity Love and adore.

Posted in Family, Social Issues

Spring Cleaning

Friday — The First Day of Spring

Saturday — The First Day of Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning is the time of year when you drag everything out after being cooped up all winter and clean it all out, give everything a clean shake. It probably was a little more obviously necessary before the age of our modern cleaning conveniences. Still, the idea definitely continues to have merit. There are certain tasks that if you don’t have a planned schedule for them, they don’t seem to get done.

Case Number One: Window Cleaning

It is amazing how easy it is to ignore a window.  With climate control you don’t have to open it often, and with all our internal entertainment devices we might not ever look out of it very often. We can get the effect of light through translucent curtains that let in the light, and obscure the dust and grime on the windows.

When you do actually open the windows, and see the grime, the response is, “Oh, we need to clean these windows sometime.” Sometime never comes, of course, and then you get reminded several months later while actually using the windows again.

This was our cycle after moving into our new home, until a couple of years ago, when we finally instituted a spring (and fall) cleaning schedule. This past Saturday was Spring Cleaning for the windows.

Now, you think cleaning windows is a simple thing. And it is, in definition. Until you start realizing all the peripheral cleaning involved. Because the glass is perhaps the simplest portion of cleaning windows. It does no good to have a clean window, next to a very dirty window frame (especially if said frame is white!).So you clean the surfaces around the window on the inside of the house, and then open the window — to see the amazing number of spaces involved in the window construction accessible to debris from the outside. A lot of dirt and dust and plant matter can accumulate in the sliding track areas for both the upper and lower windows and sliding screen. This can become a process of years to clean. You think you have it clean, and then see another space a bit further back that could be cleaned. Each spring and fall uncovers a new hidden area that dirt accumulates in that can be cleaned.

Case Number Two: “Maintenance Free” Siding

I can remember buying the seamless siding for our house when we got it and thinking — no need to paint. The did mention hosing it down once a year, but that statement sort of got lost in the euphoria of the no paint thing. And it took almost a decade, and an especially wet, cold summer, to notice the green that was starting to creep into the blue on the sunless side of the house. For a couple of

For a couple of years I tried long-handled brushes, which decreased the green, but were too much troubleto manipulate.  So last year we bought the $99 power sprayer at Home Depot and I used it to power scrub the sides of the house. Amazing how much bluer it is — even where it didn’t look green. The sunless side of the house still has some trouble green spots that don’t go away easily (of course that side of the house has the section 3 stories off the ground that even with a ladder are hard to get power water on). But it looks better, and the trouble spots get easier with each cleaning.

Spring cleaning for the siding is still a few, undetermined, weeks away. Because I coordinate that with another task I didn’t do well the first decade in the house — cleaning the gutters. Technically, i suppose, gutters are a part of the siding (they were installed by the same people). I wait to clean them in the spring until all the maple seed helicopters have fallen and can be removed at once. Then while I have the ladder out for the gutters I use hose down the siding and use the ladder where assistance is helpful for that. Fall cleaning, similarly, comes on a good warm day after all the leaves have fallen and I can clean them out of the gutters before winter.

Case Number Three: Deck maintenance

Our house came with a wonderful back deck, built by the owner three people before us (who just happened to be the minister that officiated at our wedding — we didn’t know that before signing for the house, but it was a great sign that we had purchased the right place!), but decks require maintenance.

Since we purchased the house from someone who does decks, and decorative concrete, etc. (Big Red Pressure Washing) we hired them every other year or three to do the decks for us, so they would be done right. We always appreciated their work — excellent workmanship, excellent folks, excellent prices, but then came the year where we didn’t have the money to hire, and I had to extend the timeframe by trying to do it myself.

That was last year, (see blogs on water main issues to house) when the budget got swallowed up by the water main repair. This was also before the purchase of the power washer. So I scrubbed the green of with brush and soapy water, then meticulously stained all the wood.  It looked really good. But this year again the green is creeping in. Once again, no funds to hire (see post about new roof) and so I expect to once again paint the decks. But this time I’ll research how to powerwash them first, and see if I can do that right with my new toy from last year. So I expect to spend several days going from deck to deck, moving as time and weather allows, to keep the green from encroaching on the wood. (Anyone experienced that wants to tutor me in the process is welcome to, if you can come by and lend a hand even better, LOL).

Posted in Music

#5: Begin, My Tongue, Some Heavenly Theme

 (Part of a series singing through the hymnbook I grew up with: Great Hymns of the Faith)


Begin, my tongue some heav’nly theme,

And speak some boundless thing –

The mighty works or mightier name

Of our eternal King.


Tell of His wondrous faithfulness

And sound His pow’r abroad;

Sing the sweet promise of His grace,

The love and truth of God.


His very word of grace is strong

As that which built the skies;

The voice that rolls the stars along

Speaks all the Promises.


O might I hear Thy heav’nly tongue

But whisper, “Thou art Mine!”

Those gentle words should raise my song

To notes almost divine.