Monday, December 16, 2013

Merry Christmas

Dear Reader, Sorry it's been so long since I have written, but life has been rather ordinary and for someone like me that is something for which to be grateful. Here it is December and the Christmas mood is all around. What is it about Christmas that creates this wonderful feeling of anticipation and excitement. Depending on whether you're a child, a teen, a young adult or an older adult as myself we experience Christmas through the lenses of our very particular place on the stage of life. For some the vicissitudes of life have stamped out the exuberance, for me the magic remains though more subdued than the wild expectation of childhood.
  Advent is a strange ritual. As Christians we say we look forward to the return of the Christ child. But His spirit has suffused us all year so how is it to return. Did He go away the other eleven months? What exactly is it that returns to warm our hearts and put a light in our eyes and a spring in our step.
Let me share what Christmas means to me. Being a musician I'm reminded of all the religious and secular joys this Season arouses. There is participation in Handel's "Messiah" almost yearly from the time of my early teens. Not only the great words of God's incarnation into history, but also the accumulated stories of friends and strangers whose lives were changed by attending this oratorio. The amateur singalongs sometimes seem more fervently performed than the professional. The melodies pervading the ether are just more lovely than at any other time of the year I have also been privileged to perform in an area orchestral celebration and at our church.
  Then there are the lights. From the decorating and lighting of the Christmas tree from medieval Europe to the elegant decoration of homes, the explosion of lights on lawns and front yards, to the most humble home that is illuminated by those on a small tree or a candlestick in the window, all proclaim that Light is more powerful than darkness, that Love is stronger than hate, that God is truly among us even when we resist His insistent wooing. During Christmas it takes a truly bitter person it seems to not be somehow touched even though the secular mode is so prevalent.
  This is the season where families celebrate family. My sister is a new grandmother and it is wonderful to see the joy reflected in my brother in law and her faces as they welcome this second grandchild into the circle. Lib and I have large families on each side and so this is a special time for us. Through Christmas cards it is a time to connect, if briefly to past friends who were part of our earlier histories through Christmas cards.
  My pictures begin with the simple creche at the front of our small church. It reminds of us of the events of Bethlehem. Next there is a small sparrow I managed to capture. Jesus reminded us that God is concerned even with non human life. It clings to the branch with tenacity and bright eyed inquisitiveness, while being watchful for the predators from the sky. A short life maybe filled with an instinctive fear that keeps it alive. but for  the instant I clicked him we were both caught up in the same dance of life. The last pictures are of the beautiful homes lit to celebrate the Season. One near us has been tastefully, yet dramatically been illuminated the past several years. Several others are photos of other dwellings not far from us where a whole street has joined in proclaiming that it is Christmas. The last is Lib's decorating of our mantle and living room wall.So here, dear reader, is my wish for a Merry Christmas to you!
neighborhood house
Add caption
neighboring houses
our fireplace and mantle

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Disappointng day for photography...

This past Saturday Lib and I went to Charlottesville, Virginia to a Curry Club meeting. We at an Indian cuisine meal at the Milan restaurant and reminisced about days in India. After our meeting we planned to go up to the nearby Blue Ridge Parkway and take some pretty Fall pics. My photo equipment was a Canon Rebel Ti and an iPhone with the 7 ios installed. The problem was there was scarcely any sunlight to illuminate the scenery and the foliage was not as far along on the ridges as I anticipated. At some of the overlooks favored by both amateurs and professionals it was just disappointing. Beside the obvious panoramic mountain scenery that can be overpowering at the right moment, there were other less obvious possibilities that several of us were trying to capture; a skeletal dead tree with arms stretched to the sky (can be artsy with a deep blue or red sunset sky for background), a clump of colorful leaves that invite close examination when processed at home with Picasso, and or a rock face or formations that can be an abstract texture study with the dead vines that are attached.. When the sun is out the possibilities are almost infinite. When it is overcast it really takes time and genius to see potential the rest of us miss.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

NOAC National Older Adult Conference

Lib and I just returned from the Church of the Brethren"NOAC" It is for older adults 50 years and older and is located in the Smokey mountains of North Carolina. The Methodists have created a center around Lake Junaluska that is just right for this gathering. The conference runs from Monday evening through Friday noon. Each main session opens with congregational singing of  hymns and a brief worship session. Then a speaker chosen for their ability to challenge our thinking on the theme of the conference makes their presentation . This year's theme was "Healing Springs Forth" and was three dimensional: healing ourselves, healing our community, and then reaching out to healing our world.

It was moving to see people our age, many who were significantly physically impaired in attendance. Two years ago I was severely crippled by arthritis and unable to walk without assistance. With my new hip implants I'm part of the healed, so having been on the hurting side I was much more impressed by those who might have been in the same or similar situation.

Older people, especially in the West, are often marginalized and buy into that self image. This gathering provides ways to affirm our real value to ourselves, our families and our communities. Here is the place to learn how. It is too easy to drop out of society and meaningful relationships. That leads to depression and further loss of esteem and usefulness.

While we were there we drove up to Newfound Gap on the main road between Cherokee, NC and Gatlinburg, TN. It is one of our favorite spots and in the East is about as close as I can get to the feeling of Mussoorie. It's barely 5000 feet in altitude. In the mountains the ambiance resembles Landour It was a bright sunny day and the light was good for photos.

Most of the speakers were prolific writers. I was most impressed  by Phyllis Tickle, nearly 80 years of age who spoke perceptively of the changes she had witnessed since World War II in American life, what it portended for us, and how we might best make of the future it was tending toward. Checked her books out in Kindle and she has a bushel basket full. Says she will stop the book tours and public speaking in the next two years.

There are many activities to take part in between the main sessions and also there was educational entertainment each afternoon before dinner. Birds of prey with live birds was quite interesting to me.
Also, a session about hand made American Indian flutes was fascinating.

Connecting with old friends across the denomination, family and near family, and getting to know the stories of others along our journey at meal times was surely an added blessing. On the last day I reconnected with a lady missionary to India that had arrived there just a year or so before our family returned to America. We were able to fill in some of the gaps of our knowledge of the years in between.. Was it just coincidence or something meant to be.

During our five days we found profundities to mull over, challenges to live for, and grace to make it happen. In other faiths there is often an emphasis on personal piety through pilgrimage, alms, and absolution all good ways to improve connection to our Source. The Brethren have been doing some of the same things with an emphasis on the together part of the equation. This is  one of those.
Dear friends; Renee Brown and Linda Crumpacker with Lib Kinzie

Our worship building

Lake pic and in the distance the cross

Model A we encountered at Newfound Gap

One of the hundreds of roses along the "Rose Walk"

Buddy Crumpracker the man "who makes it happen"our friend.
Organ pipes on the wall of our registration area.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All Around the Campfire,,,

On the first Tuesday of August each year our country celebrates a community get together under the banner of getting to know your neighbors to reduce crime. Rumor has it that Chesterfield County in Virginia is way up on the charts for actually doing this.The Brandermill area is well known for its participation.

Several years ago Lib and I were asked if we would let our driveway be the spot for the up coming gathering and we were more than happy to cooperate. Nancy, the coordinator brings tables and snacks, puts up balloons, stuffs notices in our mail boxes, and advises that we're part of the celebration. She also has pamphlets and small safety articles to pass out for anyone interested.

This year we had 4-5 police drop by to say hello and two community spokespersons whose business it was to visit/verify our activities. Didn't count but I expect there were 20 + drop by to visit. We had some new visitors and missed some who had come by before. William Quarles, running for delegate to our Virginia government dropped by and passed out cards. Thought that showed he cared enough to show up. It's always good to renew acquaintances with people we usually just "hi" to on our morning walks. The children are always a high light and we can see how much they've grown.

Which brings me to another thought... in the olden days people used to gather around a fire in some common area of the village and talk....sort of like we did. Except their meetings were probably every evening and they really got to hash out communal problems and rehearse tribal history. Wonder if we're missing some of our humanity by not having a similar function. Guess church or club serves that function, but they're not really neighbors that live beside us. We need some way to have regular face to face relaxed ways of keeping up with our neighbors beside us. If you know a community that does this would love to hear from you whether you live in state or around the other side of the world.
Our neighbors and a constable

The littlest ones we watch grow

Having fun curbside..

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Christmas Place and WOSA

Wednesday July 3rd Lib and I headed for Sevierville, TN hoping for some shopping in Pigeon Forge and a run up to Newfound Gap in the Smokies. Since we didn't leave Charlotte until noon it was about 6:00 or 7:00 before we arrived at our Hampton Inn at Kodak and traffic looked heavy.
Thursday morning we spent doing necessary laundry from our Annual Conference jaunt. Then after lunch we bravely set out for Pigeon Forge and the Christmas place. When we emerged on the main highway it was a parking lot, taking us the better part of two harried hours to reach the Christmas Place in Pigeon Forge.. It was a relief to get out of traffic (the bane of the American motorist) and enjoy the myriad displays of this eternal Christmas world at its gaudiest. We shopped a few other places at this merchandising mecca and then decided the run up to the Gap wouldn't be worth the long crawl up.
Friday morning we made an uneventful  drive to Maryville College and began our Woodstock Old Students Association (WOSA) activities.After stowing our gear and enjoying a quick cup of chai my first obligation was a rehearsal with Judie Landry and our trio. We spent the greater part of the allotted time on a new composition.
That evening after a delicious buffet supper we squeezed in conversations with classmates and others we had known at Woodstock with performances by a local string band and a very funny local story teller.Our suite mates were Betty and Dick Conard from Florida. Betty and I crossed  paths; she arriving at Woodstock as I was leaving. We have since become good friends through a class writing group. It was a delight to be with them all through the event.
Saturday and Sunday were rehearsals and attendance at the business meeting and hearing optimistic reports of  Woodstock's future and place on the India educational scene. The new principal has very ambitious plans!
Saturday night was the traditional Indian khanna. Many chose to wear native costumes. At the end Charlene Chitamber led group singing of the favorite Woodstock songs.
Sunday morning we had a combination worship and memorial service. The piece for choir Reflections, for strings, choir and piano specially composed for the event was well received. Sunday night was Woodstock "stories" night and several interesting ones were revealed. Our trio finished up the evening by playing "Ashokan Farewell" .
Monday morning we ate breakfast together one more time, took our final photos and prepared for the long trip home.All in all it was a very enjoyable get together, something I would never have imagined when I walked down The Ramp for what I knew was my last time in 1951. The last three pics were taken by friend and classmate Dr. Fred Holloszy.

By 5:30 we were glad to see our familiar street and home once again.

The Christmas Place

One of a zillion displayed items

artificial tree...good way to check camera
Judie Landry glad to see her and get information!

Lib  and I at breakfast

class of '55 table and spouses
trio Sunday night?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Church of the Brethren Annual Conference 2013.

Our Church of the Brethren Annual Conference was the impelling force for our journey to Charlotte, NC the 28th of June. Lib and I were in better health than we had been in a number of years and we are adventurous souls! We left our home in Midlothian around 10:30 and using reliable GPS arrived in Charlotte around 3:30. Our GPS took us to the Hilton downtown where we had registered, but to new comers it can be a daunting task to discover the entrance to the registration area. Eventually we were able to park our car, register, and ascend to the 8th floor and our very nice room.

Next we walked over to the Charlotte Convention Center just a block across from the hotel. We noted with some interest that the light rail system had a station  at the hotel's back entrance and that it went right through the convention center. When we entered the center we soon met friends who helped us register and orient ourselves to the huge building. All the eating places in the food court were closed and we were steered to a pizza place across from the center. Both of us had done a lot more walking just that afternoon than we had for some time.  Returning from supper we found the huge auditorium where the conference would meet.

Saturday after lunch there was our initial rehearsal and later a first convening worship service. I was part of a small instrumental ensemble consisting of a violin, an Eb saxophone, two trombones, guitar, and percussion.
Our pianist was Terry Murray a cousin by marriage. Our fine organist was also had connections to the Roanoke area churches. Our function was to accompany the congregational singing led by Carol Elmore.
She was our music director and helped unite us through music when sometimes dialogue failed. There were several early morning rehearsals at 7:00 AM. Lib had a woozy faint occurrence at the second  early rehearsal requiring some on the spot ER evaluation. After a little more to eat and drinking a lot of water she felt better.

Between meetings we visited with friends, perused the items in the large Brethren display and attended a Bridgewater College Alummni lunch. Had a nice chat with a professor Ulrich who had taught physics while I was a student there in the late 50's. No, I didn't take physics! He remembered colleagues for whom Lib had been a typing secretary. Tyler Goss from our small West Richmond Chuch of the Brethren received one of two top awards for leadership  to youth, the church, and the college.
Several times we enjoyed breakfast in the Hilton's buffet. The food was tasty and there was ample from which to select. One supper we had with Oak Grove friends at the other nearby hotel and a last supper they
shared with us at the Hilton.

Our denomination, though somewhat battered by controversy the past years appeared to be bandaging up its wounds and working toward conciliation. After all we are "The Church of the Brethren" and brethren should
work toward conciliation as that is at the heart of what we are about.

Around noon on Wednesday we left Charlotte and headed for Sevierville, TN where we hoped to see the Smokeys and do some shopping.
Our room in the Hilton

Downtown Hilton

Lib at breakfast

Inside light rail car.

Entrance to Charlotte Convention Center

Children learning a "share" lesson

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Violin Teacher...

Judie Schiller was about 17, a fine violinist at Woodstock School in  north India around 1950-51. I  had been a student at the school for about a year and played violin in the school orchestra of which she was the concertmeister. Now to back up a few years......

In hindsight it appears my father, William Kinzie, once he realized that I had some musical inclinations decided that he was going to grow a violinist if at all possible. He passionately loved music and would have made it a career had not being a missionary taken first place. He was my beginning teacher and stated  a rote to note sequence of instruction that resembled the now well known Suzuki school. before there ever was the same.

When we returned to America in 1945 he found a well known teacher, a Mrs. Spruhan living in Salem, Va, who continued my instruction. I performed in several of her recitals but was certainly not the star.

The family returned to India for a second term of missionary service and I became a full time student at Woodstock. From letters I had written home my father sensed that my musical enthusiasm was lagging and that his dream of violinist son was going to wither on the vine. What to do?

Seems there was this outstanding senior girl violinist who just might get my enthusiasm back on some sort of agreement was reached where she would give me lessons. For several months she did and
making music on the violin became a challenge and a possibility. I did look forward to my violin instruction with her. After she graduated I did not see her until recently

Several years ago at a Woodstock School reunion (WOSA),  we met again and talked briefly about our
lives in the intervening years. I never was the famous violinist my father dreamed of, but through fortunate encounters and opportunities seized ( my personal view is that the Lord had a great hand in it, but why me?)
I was allowed to live the life of a strings teacher in the Roanoke City  schools, played in the Roanoke Symphony, was a part time violinist at The Greenbrier resort hotel at White Sulphur Springs, WV and played many weddings at the famous Homestead Hotel  in Virginia  with trios and quartets of long standing.

In a few weeks if all goes as planned I will once again meet my second violin teacher at another WOSA gathering in Maryville, TN. Since we're to provide some music for the occasion there will be a real opportunity to learn of our lives and the outcome of their brief intersection. Hopefully we'll be able to learn from each other how to continue playing and functioning in our golden years..

To grow a successful musician takes patience, the right teachers and opportunities at the right time. I read somewhere that to grow a concert violinist there were some 16 steps that pretty much had to happen in sequence. Strings playing was passed on to our two girls and to two grandchildren.. A grandson who lives nearby has permitted me to teach him for a number of years since he was six. The experiment goes on.

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Grandson's Graduation...

Grandma Lib in hotel lobby

Dan right after graduation ceremony

Granddad Bob White looking at diploma
This past weekend  June 1, 2013  our grandson Dan White graduated from Charter High School of Wilmington, DE.  It was a gala occasion with the ceremony occurring on the stage of the Dupont Hotel. There were over 200 graduates. I was impressed  by the decorum off the audience especially at the awarding of the diplomas; no cheering and catcalls, just respectful silence.
My grandfather as far as I can recollect did not attend college. All his children attended and a few even received advanced degrees. My graduating class at Mathias, WV  in 1955 was all of twelve strong. At least half  graduated from college. I distinctly recall feeling a little foolish in my cap and gown, even though I had scarcely attained the gold chord of the Honor society. Though college was a definite next step I knew that I was an adult only in name, that true adulthood was when you were economically independent. Still, there was the family jubilation upon my graduation.
Over the decades it is the college degree that signals entrance into adulthood and that open doors to jobs  or careers that promise some economic security or personal fulfillment. Dan graduated from  one of  the nation's top high schools and will be attending Temple University nearby with  both academic and  sports scholarships. He soccer abilities have been noted.
The Hotel Dupont, one of the venerable and classy national hotels has a history going back a hundred years and she carries her age with dignity and aplomb. That the school holds its ceremonies at  this venue speaks volumes.
Afterwards we celebrated at his home with both sets of grandparents and family.

Bill, Dan, and Lib 

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A knee replacement

I've been cabin bound for about two weeks since Lib, my wife, had her recent knee replacement and I see that  it's been about a month since I've added anything to this blog. So here goes...

By now Lib and I pretty much have the surgery/recovery routine down rather well. This time last year she was getting over a horrendous back surgery and before that it was my two hip replacements. Thank goodness for modern medicine and Medicare. It is not the terror it used to be just a few decades ago.

She was a little behind schedule after the procedure and we had a significant and unplanned snow while she was at the hospital so we were one day later getting home. Bon Secour is a fine hospital where they really go the extra mile for their patients.

Knee recoveries are a little slower than hips. We knew that going in. She experienced significant discomfort while trying to get the ligaments and muscles that support walking to stretch and bend. Two weeks out. she still will need physical therapy to keep the joint flexing.

It is times such as these that I'm grateful for FaceBook even though it may be sifting through whatever about me it can profitably sell. Not too much. I'm not Catholic, but am encouraged by the character of the new Pope. Let us pray that he will have the courage and wisdom to clean house effectively. I've enjoyed the banter and pictures from Vijendra Trigatia. We share a common knowledge of Prospect Point and have built an online friendship which actually came from his accessing this blog. Just recently I have come to know one of his friends, Milena Maglich, who has recently written a published novel, "Riding the Tiger" I hope to read.
Others in my active circle include Natasha Cooper, a former string student who is studying architecture in Nebraska, and members of my family and new friends I have made here in Richmond and from my church at large.

Sudden snow on Wednesday
It's an interesting world and since I have an abundance of time I work at cultivating my on line circle. I can do this between the moments that Lib requires attention and assistance.

Bon Secour entrance and bell tower
Walkway at Bon Secour

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Grand Hotel

Several nights ago as I was browsing TV possibilities to watch I stumbled on a black and white movie called "The Grand Hotel". I immediately hit the record   button vowing to see as much of it as possible and here is "the rest of the    story." 

In the late 1960's or early 1970's it was my good fortune to attend and be   a part of a Conductors' Institute orchestra sponsored by the American Symphony   Orchestra   League at Orkney Springs, Virginia. Its purpose was to provide     additional training for aspiring young conductors and the master conductor in  charge of instruction was Dr. Richard Lert from California. He was nearly 80   when I first encountered him. The assembled orchestra was made up of many "name"musicians  who would be recognized by their contemporaries the world over and the rest of us privileged to share stands with them, were just fortunate.

My musical naïveté prevented me from immediately recognizing who he was or why this obviously older man was the master teacher. After the first institute my musical eyes were opened to how much more there was to the art of music making and conducting. I was able to return to this happy experience each summer for the next ten years. It was a revelation to compare recordings of the Institute    orchestra with those of other major national symphonies.
In the program notes about Dr. Lert was usually a phrase " he was married   to
Vicki Baum, the author of Grand Hotel, which was made into the movie of the same name." There usually followed a brief biographical sketch about their life in Europe before emigrating to America and the west coast. In those pre computer days it would have been difficult to access the novel and the movie was ancient history and not available. As time passed there were little   snippets to the story that came my way which helped me retain the name.

Thankfully these historic movies from early Hollywood are still being aired on television. Just as being at the right time and place to benefit from the artistry of Lert, I was treated to a rare replay of the Award winning movie made a   few years  before my birth. Painstaking scholarship has resurrected the autobiography of Vicki Baum's early childhood, young adult years and how she met and married  Richard Lert. It has burgeoned unbelievably over time and was         immediately  accessible online. 

It became a fascinating read to learn how she developed her writing skills to become one of the glitterati of her time both in Europe and America. To follow the journey of the Lerts from Europe to America was to participate in the adventure that intellectuals and artists faced in the years between the World Wars.  We truly live now in the age of information, where an average person may often easily access pertinent details about persons who have made significant contributions to the human experience.

As a 75 year old I knew my great grandfather and dimly recall his stories of  life as a child during the Civil War. In my thirties I learned to know briefly Richard Lert. He in turn had met Brahms. Those of us who have survived into the 21st century can remember live links into the past century that give us unique and rare perspectives of that world.