Two songs

We’re adding new songs to the repertoire. This first one is a jingle I wrote for the Kentucky Coffeetrree Café, to the tune of “Hot Corn Cold Corn”.

And this one is “Blues for Dixie”, a western swing song from Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys. I first heard Asleep at the Wheel play it many years ago, but it wasn’t until I heard Barry and Holly Tashian perform it that I thought we might sing it ourselves.


The hiatus from blogging I wrote about yesterday is not some sort of spiritual discipline, but just an attempt to reclaim part of my day for other purposes. I decided to put the blog on hold because I am always tempted to write 1000-2000 word essays there; if I were stronger, I would just switch to shorter, less intense writing. And as I said, I intend to continue updating the Curiosities column, because it takes very little time.

Just last night, though, I joined Google+ as a part of my ongoing effort to understand social networking as deeply as possible. And so I plan to post shorter, less intense pieces there. Pray for me!

Ways to follow me there:


For about two months now I’ve run an experiment on this blog, writing substantial posts nearly every day on a wide variety of topics. I wanted to know if I could maintain such a pace, and what the reaction would be.

The reaction, both private and public, has been gratifying but not overwhelming. I think if I continued at it (and especially if I learned to focus) I could slowly build a solid readership. And I’ve enjoyed putting some of the deeper material out there for folks to see.

As to whether the pace is maintainable, it is and it isn’t. I keep a running list of possible topics to write about, and that list has grown rather than shrunk during this stretch. The writing seems to inspire more writing. And the writing itself is coming a bit easier, meaning that I don’t devote a huge chunk of time to it.

Unfortunately, several possibilities have opened up for us lately, all of them more likely to benefit us than the blogging ever will, and I need to spend whatever time and attention is available nurturing those. So the blogging has to go. For a while, at least.

In the past I’ve avoided making this kind of announcement. If I needed to stop I simply stopped, and once I had the time or interest to pursue it again the posting simply resumed. But I thought that stopping short after such a frenetic period might raise some questions, and so I’m giving the very mundane answer in advance.

I do plan to continue adding to the Curiosities sidebar; if you find that useful you might want to add it to your RSS reader. And for those of you who follow the blog in an RSS reader, you’ll know the moment I start posting again—which I fully expect to happen.

Meanwhile, thanks very much for your interest.

StroboClip tuner

For years we’ve used a Petersen Virtual Strobe tuner, a big blue $200+ box that is very fast and accurate. We envied folks the portability of the little clip-on tuners that have become so popular in recent years, but the Virtual Strobe just did a much better job for us.

Now Petersen has managed to cram that capability into a clip-on tuner, the StroboClip.

It really works, and you can have one for just $70 from a number of places. We bought one, shared it extensively at the music school last week, and didn’t miss the big blue box at all. So we’ll probably be trying to sell that on eBay while there’s still a market for them.

Even better in some ways, if you have an iPhone, is the Petersen iStroboSoft app. Only $10, and supposedly just as fast and accurate. Bill Kirchen was using one at the music school.

Systems so perfect

In 2002, after being married eighteen months, Sam (age 26) and Bethany (age 21) Torode wrote a book, Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception. In the book they endorsed natural family planning and rejected all other forms of contraception.

The Torodes wrote that Procreation is “the umbrella under which the other aspects of marriage are nurtured,” they wrote. Sex is “a joyous song of praise to the Creator,” and “having children (or adopting them) brings husbands and wives closer together and expands the community of love.” And that “with each child a couple has, their chances of divorce are significantly reduced.” [Emphasis added]

But in 2006 they informed people that they no longer believed in NFP. And in 2009 they divorced.

The article give two examples (the Torodes and one other couple) were not only crushed by the pious burden they chose to shoulder, but were driven away from conservative Christian thinking altogether. And there is a throwaway line along the way that unintentionally points to the heart of the problem, one I’d like to highlight.

The book she and Mr. Torode wrote two years into their marriage is quite short and quite sweet, an earnest work whose hopefulness one badly wants to share. [Emphasis added]

Viewed objectively, it is sheer insanity to take guidance on such a critical matter from a young, inexperienced, newly married couple with one eighteen-month-old child. But we do it all the time. Why? Because we want so badly for the principle to be true that we put discernment aside.

Why this yearning for principles? Why not just accumulate wisdom, apply it as situations arise, and accumulate further wisdom in the process? I don’t know the source of the impulse, but I think T.S. Eliot was right when he wrote that men “constantly try to escape / from the darkness outside and within / by dreaming of systems so perfect that no one will need to be good.”

We don’t need systems. We need to be good.

Augusta Heritage Center: Conclusion

Normal posting will resume on Monday. Today was a very low key day, split between a bit of catch-up and lots of rest. Once Augusta began we were getting about 7 hours of sleep per night, except for Wednesday when we got four. It catches up with you.

The four hours was due to the honky tonk jam that took place after the gumbo party. Chris and I joined Ginny and Tracy to eat our gumbo and potato salad (both were spectacular), and then around 9pm the four of us started with a warm-up jam preceding the announced honky tonk jam, which was set for 11pm. The latter was led by the instructors, with folks welcome to join in or just listen. It was quite an experience to be part of the core group, and Ginny even asked us to lead a song ourselves, “One Teardrop (and One Step Away).” It was 1:30am before the jam broke up, and after 2am before we got back to the campground and into bed. Making it through Thursday was rough.

Friday the afternoon class began early so there would be time for a student showcase at 3pm. We asked to be scheduled early for that, so we were able to pack up the tent that morning and be on the road by 4pm, getting home around 11:30. We had planned the food just right—the cooler was empty when we arrived, except for a jar of mayonnaise and a half-full jar of olives. We figured it cost us about $60 for the two of us to eat for six days, as opposed to the $300 that cafeteria food would have cost.

The experience was much more valuable than I expected, with the best parts being things I never could have predicted. We followed our usual guideline of making choices based on what would be most helpful to the people around us, and it invariably paid off for them and for us. There is a long list of good things that would not have happened if we had mapped our path through the week based solely on what would be most beneficial to us.

We came back inspired to master the early country repertoire, which is vast. It will keep us busy and challenge us as well. We learned a few things that will help us polish our performances in general. And most exciting to me is that I was unknowingly given an inspiration for a song, which I worked on while driving home (dictating lyrics to Chris, then stopping to write some down when it got dark). I managed to get the first draft finished today, and now I’m eager to work up a performance version.

As a thanks to all our teachers, here are links to their websites.