Friday, November 30, 2007

Decoration Day

Decorating Day means different things in different contexts. When we lived in St. Marys the term was used exclusively in reference to the Sunday in May when people decorated the graves in the town cemetery. At DHQ is means a day to a dress down day that is spent decorating each floor at DHQ.

One of the things that I value about working for a faith based organization is the ability to openly embrace Christmas. Each year after Christmas the DHQ staff women shop the specials to add a few more items to the building’s collection of Christmas decorations. Over the decades a significant collection has been built. New items are put out, and some retired. This year the nutcracker type figures were purchased and put out this year across the break room window and the snow lights that hung in the windows retired.

Below are some of the decorations in the building.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Thanksgiving Is Near

Growing up in Ontario Thanksgiving and the following week was awash in the colors of the season. Thursday is American Thanksgiving. This year in Virginia we are about a week beyond the peak of the season. Following are pictures taken this past Friday. The first two are in the Front Royal area.

The last one, of the tree in the middle of the field is part of the Manassas II battlefield. The battle took place over three days. This is the field was on the Union right on the third day. The Union forces were in disarray and were in danger of being destroyed. This was the area through which Longstreet's forces moved to crush the Union Army. Mistakenly thinking the Confederates were retreating the Union General had pulled over half of the forces on his right for a pursuit charge. He was unaware that 30,000 troop under Longstreet arrived overnight.

Nearly 20,000 Confederates charged through this area where they ran into 2,200 Union units from Ohio and their solitary cannon. The Ohio units losses were heavy but they delayed the Confederates long enough to allow the Union to organize behind them and to structure an organized retreat. The Ohio brigades suffered tremendously, 33% of their men, and inflicted heavy losses on the Confederates. If they had not held, it is well possible the bulk of the Union troops which were a mile to the north (left side of the picture) would have been surrounded, thereby effectively putting the South in a position to win the war.

This lone tree which existed at the time of the battle has survived to be a witness of the carnage that took place before and around it. The three is viewed from the Confederate side with the Union forces alined across the ridge by the tree.

The heart of Manassas I (Bull Run I), the first major battle of the Civil War lies behind the ridge of trees at the back of the field.

I share this since it was Lincoln in the midst the Civil War made Thanksgiving a national holiday. In the midst of struggle and turmoil he called for the country to pause to remember the blessings they have enjoyed and to give thanks to God for their country, freedom and the harvest. This country could look greatly different if those 2,200 men who volunteered from Ohio had run from the field of battle. I am thankful for the character and character of those farmers and store clerks who stood their ground against overwhelming numbers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Concert Season Underway

Tuesday night was the start of Concert Band season. It was the first performance for Oakton’s two jazz bands and three concert bands. Josh plays in four of the five groups.

Above, in Concert II Josh is the end-chair baritone. Last year he played clarinet in Concert II.

In Concert I Josh is the lead Tuba.

Above Josh is lead trombone in Jazz I (the lead trombone in jazz is flanked by second and third chairs). Below is Symphonic Band where as with last year Josh first chair trombone. As you will notice, with each group his tux changes in style.

Following the concert the music teachers left the next morning for a conference in Chicago. The substitute teacher is not a music teacher so with the substitute sitting in the room Josh puts each of the bands through their rehearsals. For weeks if one of the music teachers has to be out of the room, whether it be for ten minutes or thirty, they have been turning the groups over to Josh to conduct.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cutting Horses

A few years ago when I was in Houston I attended a rodeo competition. Competitors came to the event throughout the west, including from Alberta and Saskatchewan. One of the events was a cutting horse event. We saw a similar event on a trip to Colorado about six years before. I was fascinated by how the rider and horse work as a team to cut cows and horses. It was a thing of beauty that I would be happy to watch again.

On youtube there are several clips showing cutting horses in action. Here is one such clip, enjoy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Rain, Rain Come Today, Do Not Wait Another Day

Often children cry "rain, rain go away, come back another day." Our prayer has become "rain, rain come today, do not wait another day."

In the last year Virginia, like most of the southeast has received far less precipitation than normal. Three weeks ago, the lake from which Atlanta draws its water only had a 90 day supply left. While recent rains have helped, the southeast needs much more rain.

With the water table has been dropping firms that dig wells have been doing a booming business as people hire them to make their wells go deeper. In late September Virginia’s governor issued a campfire ban, a ban that is still in affect. Loudoun Country, just to the northwest of us has been under water restrictions since the summer. This past Friday, the City of Fairfax too went under voluntary water restrictions. Though we are in the County it seems to be only a matter of time before we too could be under restrictions.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Josh in Videos Online

Josh is in this youtube video taken in California. In this video the baritones are warming up. He is the 8th player from the left.

This is part of the Crossmen final show. As the video starts Josh is on the left side, back line, third in from the right. At the 48 second mark Josh is right behind the last contra-bass on the the left side of the screen. At the 1:09 to 1:13 mark Josh is on the far left and between two contra-basses.

Plans are for Josh to be a Crossman in 2008. His monthly trips to San Antonio start in December.