Sunday, April 18, 2010

Public art

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There is a man in town, Geoff Dellow, who prepares slabs of raw clay, and then holds workshops for the public to create sculptures, small scale. He fires them and hangs them on a public fence along Gill Bank (our part of town). I couldn't make it to the sculpting session last weekend, but I offered to help hang this weekend.

Geoff Dellow (left)

Sunflowers and butterflies (right)

Wheels on cart turn (left)

Megan's chihuahua and cat (right)

3 pigs, cow, ogre and rainbow (left)

Luminaria on spikes (right)

There were five Americans, including two children, there helping Geoff to hang the pottery. (No other Brits this time.)
I plan to try his workshops. They are very low cost.

Geoff is quite a character, a gadfly even, taking on public improvement projects when he is fed up with waiting for officialdom to act. There is a lamppost downtown which has been leaning for 3 months. Considering this sight to be a disgrace, he is attempting to right the lamppost himself. His blog reflects these views.

Church service

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The Methodist church service this morning was very interesting, in several ways. The lesson was about Jesus asking Peter if he loved him. Rather than just reading the scripture, several women came to the front for a dramatic reading. They ranged in age from mid-50s to late 80s. The first thing that struck me was that all of the parts, male, were portrayed by women. Jesus, 3 disciples, and narrator. At one point, the narrator lost her place. While another congregant helped her, the audience was quiet and respectful. No fidgeting. It was exciting to see these very old women actively participating in the service. I've noticed that Hal and I, in our late 50s, are well below the average age of the congregation.

Taking up the collection is a different process from the method used in Niantic. Rather than a brass platen, they pass a velveteen bag hanging from a wooden dowel. The dowel has a handle on each end; the bag is wide at the base with a smallish opening on top, effectively blocking view of the contents. This morning, some very elderly women were taking up the collection. Again, I was pleased to see the participation.

There are very few youth in this church (less than ten, I think), but they are active in the band and other activities. At Christmas, they gave tealights in glass holders to everyone. It was not a tradition; they just decided to do it from their funds. Really special. Humbling in a way.

The pastor leads an enthusiastic band of brass and woodwinds. Today there were 15 or so in the band. Their benediction was "The War March of the Priests" by Mendelssohn. It started off roughly, but was well-done once they got going. Typically this congregation rises to go, putting on their coats, and jabbering during the benediction. But not today. I may make a suggestion to the pastor. I don't think Niantic Community Church came to good benediction manners on its own: a minister had to suggest it, and put it in the bulletin.

After the service, most people go to the back, where the church hall has tables and chairs, coffee and tea. The largest teapot I've ever seen. Two-and-a-half gallons, maybe. Oddly for us, coffee is more popular than tea (on Sunday morning).

The church hall with kitchen is used by several community groups during the week. I just learned that it costs only 6 £/hour to rent. Wicked cheap. At today's currency, that's about $9/hour. Philosophy, local history, mom and baby, and other groups use it. A community lunch is served once a fortnight, I think.

Easter Sunrise Service

On Easter morning, there was a 6:30 ecumenical sunrise service on Birkrigg Common, the highest point in our area. It's about 3 miles south of town, requiring crossing of cattle grids. Sheep graze here without fences. It was very cold and windy that morning. We could see snow on the mountains in the distance.

The Methodist Church band played. It must have been difficult: the dark, and cold brass mouthpieces with wind blowing the music about.

One lovely aspect was the dogs in attendance: four of these well-behaved, unleashed creatures were a joy to watch, playing on the hill, reminding us to play and be joyful.

This was our Jack's doppelganger.