My sister came to Dallas this weekend to attend a Christian Book Exposition. She writes a rather popular weblog about the challenges faced by step-parents in integrating their disparate "family units". She'd been asked to appear on some discussion panels about this topic, and the ministry she pursues to try to help folks find the right way to deal with these family matters.
My wife and I got up this morning, dressed for church, hopped on the light rail train, and met my sister at the First United Methodist Church in downtown Dallas. I'd never attended this church, though as a young lawyer I worked for some years in an office building in downtown. The service at the church proved very good. The hymns sung were traditional Methodist hymns, which are sometimes called "Cokesbury hymns" after an influential hymnbook of years gone by. The two hymns chosen were standards, including "Amazing Grace". The choir sang a traditional Gaelic hymn whose name escapes me, with gently updated lyrics. The affirmation of faith was the Methodist social action creed, which appeals to me. The sermon was about the limitations of materialism, and the way in which the current financial crisis results from the sense some folks have that one must acquire ever more things to have "enough".
The service included an infant baptism, of a particularly charming baby girl whose parents, now stationed in Germany, supplied her with a really charming old-fashioned white baptismal outfit from Belgium. She looked simply smashing. Although the application of water does not sit well with all babies, this baby doused like a waterwell, smile intact.
We then headed across the street to the Trammell Crow Museum of Asian Art, one of my favorite small museums. This month they had an amazing Japanese quilt display. We were all quite taken with the quilts.
Then we headed to the nearby Dallas Museum of Art, where we dined in the little museum cafe and shopped in the museum shop. I really enjoyed hearing my sister's stories from the exposition, at which she met a number authors she admires and got to participate in far more panels than she originally thought she might do.
She also stayed in the Hotel Indigo, which, if you ask me, gets extra points for style for its name alone.
My sister's gifts include making weblogs of relative simplicity to maintain look like very sophisticated websites, so perhaps I will ask her to help me set up a proper gurdonark.com music website. We put my sister back on a train for the short ride to the convention center. Then we headed north on another train for home.
After a brief rest, I set off to get some exercise and do some grocery shopping, while my wife worked on a course she signed up to take. I stopped off at Bethany Lakes Park here in Allen, a charming little park with charming little lakes. I last photographed things here on the day of "freezing fog", so it was fun to come on a Spring Day. I saw worlds of gorgeous ducks and a charming great egret. I was particularly intrigued by a number of wild ducks I now know are lesser scaup which were swimming in the main pond, but my best duck photo featured the mallards:
I also liked this shy but rather sedate great egret who posed serenely by the shore:
After walking, I ate a little bit more pizza than I originally intended at the CiCi's pizza buffet place, while reading a very entertaining Gregory Benford science fiction novel. Then I drove to Kroger's, grocery list in hand, and loaded up a basket full of victuals. Then I wound my way home, weekend largely complete.
My latest mental construct? Treating a software studio as a musical instrument in its own right in a more structured way, and inventing/discovering new microtonal scales to use in this pursuit. I have taken expert advice to start me down this road, and will now read up on how to make it more concrete. It's fun sometimes to take something one does by hunt-and-peck and acquire a bit of methodist madness.
My other bit of joy lately is the postal chess site Scheming Mind, which is a really fun place to play. In by-gone times, I worried about how my chess declines with age. Now I worry only about surviving each set of moves--and there's a life lesson in that somewhere, I am sure.