2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Syndey Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

In 2011, there were 35 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 365 posts. There were 109 pictures uploaded. That’s about 2 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was June 11th with 130 views. The most popular post that day was Celebrating Andrew.

Thanks for continuing to read this blog.

More to come (in 2012)…


Every Three Seconds

Every Three Seconds.

Three seconds may be  the amount of time it takes to bite into one of those juicy pears you received from Harry & David this holiday season.  The amount of time to pour a glass of wine.

However, every three seconds someone in the world dies from factors related to extreme poverty.

Perhaps three seconds could be the amount of time to decide to make a difference.

Every Three Seconds is the name of a documentary film project by award-winning film director Daniel Karslake.  Candice and I met Dan at the home of our friends Tim Boggs and James Schwartz.  There we learned about his new film which…

…profiles a number of individuals of different generations whose quest to feed their own hunger for fulfillment has inspired them to help meet the fundamental needs of others. Each has come to recognize that by giving, their hunger is satisfied in a way no amount of material reward could.

Karslake is a gifted story-teller.  We were introduced to his work through the award-winning documentary For the Bible Tells Me SoThat film explores, in a thoughtful and understanding fashion, how insightful people of faith handle the realization of having a gay child.

In this new project, Karslake will look at how people of different generations have made personal decisions to combat poverty and hunger.  In our case, we’ve supported Partners in Health and the work of Dr. Paul Farmer as a response to the problems of poverty, but we’ve also decided to contribute to Every Three Seconds so these amazing stories can reach many more people who can help.

Fifteen minutes and six seconds.  That’s how long it will take for you to listen to Dan Karslake’s Ted Talk on his film project.  If you don’t want to watch the entire video, skip over to the seven minute mark and listen to Dan tell the story of Charlie Simpson.  Charlie is a seven year old boy who decided to make a difference.

Then finally, we’re back to three seconds.  That’s how long it will take to click on the link to Arts Action, Inc. and begin to make a tax-deductible contribution to support Every Three Seconds. Think of the lives you can impact.

More to come…


Merry Christmas 2011

For a holiday filled with so many traditions, each year’s celebration of Christmas is different.  Some years the celebration revolves around visits with family.  In fact, so much of what I remember about Christmas from my childhood involves “visiting Mamaw and Papaw’s house” with a passel full of cousins and the accompanying aunts and uncles.

But there are also years where other considerations over-shadow the holiday.  In 1997, mom was one week away from dying (she passed away on New Year’s day in 1998), while Candice’s father passed away on December 26, 2008.  In both instances we were able to be with our parents over the holiday season, but the focus was understandably elsewhere.

This has been a quiet Christmas.  And that’s been fine.

The quiet holiday can have its own special joys.  Some of the things I’ll recall from Christmas 2011 include:

The joy of early gifts.  About 10 days ago, we visited the neurologist for a four-month check-up after Candice’s fall and the resulting seizures and severe concussion in late August.  To hear that the EEG was clear and that the MRI “looked like a different brain” from the one the neurologist had seen in the August MRI was music to our ears.  Candice still has eight months left for a complete recovery, but this was the best gift of the season.

The joy of seeing children grow into adults before your eyes.  In August, we dropped Andrew and Claire off at college.  We’ve seen them briefly in the ensuing four months, but we’re now a week into the winter break and the changes – and independence – that come with the college experience are on full display.  As empty nesters, we’ve had more than one conversation about how best to respond to these new adults in our midst.

The joy of listening to Andrew’s music.  Since he was a young Cathedral Chorister, Andrew has worked hard to develop his musical talent.  This season we’ve enjoyed his singing – in a 12-person ensemble at the beautiful Strathmore Music Hall with the Cathedral Choral Society’s A Dickens’ Christmas and on Christmas Eve at our parish, where he sang solos and joined with the choir during the choral prelude for the Christmas Eve service.

The joy of seeing Claire’s passions grow and mature.  We’ve always called Claire our “outdoors girl.”  She’s loved nature, science, swimming, and people in equal measure.  California, with the opportunities for exploring a new environment, has been a great choice for her to learn more about the world in which we live.  She’s taking a couple of wonderful classes to explore where she may want to focus her scientific bent. I loved our father/daughter lunch at the Tabard Inn where we talked about the different fields that piqued her interest.  In her first semester she’s taken on a new commitment to swimming that has moved her fitness to new levels. And she continues to teach us all lessons about ways to make and nurture friendships.

The joy of a well-crafted Christmas sermon.  We’re still getting to know our new rector at St. Alban’s, but Deborah’s sermon on Christmas Eve – where she spoke as if giving a remembrance by one of the shepherds – was one more in a series of well crafted, challenging, and meaningful sermons that she seems to produce every time she steps into the pulpit.  When Andrew and Claire announced that they were “fans” of the sermon, and Candice and I agreed, it was clear Deborah’s made a big impression.  Christmas sermons can be dreadful.  This was anything but.

The joy of good food.  Following her fall and recovery, Candice is back in charge of our kitchen.  And that’s a VERY good thing.  It doesn’t matter if we are eating a simple soup at lunch or a lavish holiday dinner – I am one lucky man.

The joy of reflection.  Taking time off to be with family and friends allows time for reflection.  I was fortunate enough this year to have two weeks off, and the change of pace has been welcomed.  (Candice would say necessary.)

The joy of friends.  At holiday parties, Lessons & Carols, dinner with another family that has been battling brain injuries of their own, lunch in an Irish pub, at the back of church…all of these places and more are where we’ve connected with friends old and new and fed our spirits.

The joy of giving.  Finally, the old saying that it is more blessed to give than to receive is easier to recognize during a quiet Christmas season.  I’ve found that true this year time and again.

I know there will be Christmas holidays in the future full of cousins, babies, aunts and uncles…and they will be great fun.  But I’m thankful for our quiet 2011 Christmas.  In whatever way you have celebrated Christmas – or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or the Winter Solstice – I hope it has fed your soul.  From our family to yours, Merry Christmas.

More to come…