Friday, June 30, 2017

Trip report: Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble

A couple of weeks ago I joined a day tour that was going by bus to 7 abandoned and rural eastern Georgia churches. We were told we would receive a short program at each of the 7 churches on the 120 mile trip, plus lunch, and all the photo ops we'd want.

mt zion preacher reenactor porch

It was all they had advertised, and more. The organizers, Lake Oconee Chamber of Commerce plus chamber organizations among 5 counties (that we'd travel through) set this new tour up so well I can't say enough good. Here is their official website explaining the outing. They have by now added photos of the ramble.
Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble
The inaugural Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble in rural east Georgia was huge success. The tour originated and terminated in Greensboro and featured seven Historic Rural Churches of Georgia. The 53-person group examined and photographed the exteriors and interiors of each rural church, while hosts at each location shared histories through lecture, song, and period costuming. Photos from the day are featured below. A second tour is being planned for the fall. For more information complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.
I loved it. It was so interesting to get a perspective of each of the congregations and their impact during their time. Some churches were organized in the late 1700s, and others in the 1800s. If you click on the links below, it will take you to a short write up from Historic Rural Churches of GA site on each church.

We visited

Wrightsboro Methodist in McDuffie County
Antioch Baptist in Taliaferro County
Locust Grove Catholic in Taliaferro County
Penfield Baptist of Greene County
Mt Zion Presbyterian of Hancock County
Powelton Methodist of Hancock County
Barnett Methodist of Hancock County

Here is a link to my Flickr album of all my pics of the churches. I wish I could insert a photo album or a slide show into a blog entry on Blogger, but I can't figure out how to do that. If anyone knows, please let me know.

The Chamber is already planning another Ramble for the fall. This summer one was sold out, 53 people plus several Chamber workers and a couple of the historians attended so I think the bus was at capacity at nearly 60. It only cost $45 which was a steal for a 7 hour tour, 7 programs (one at each church), plus lunch and snacks. The participants were given a charming booklet of all the churches' blurbs, held together by a woven gold tassel. The edges of each page were even gilt! They also provided to us a gift bag of chamber materials, booklets, and golf balls. Wow.


The weather cooperated. It was overcast the first half, which was great both for summer temperatures and taking photos. The last church or two it started to get hot, which is an issue because of course none of the churches are air conditioned. But it was all good. The bus had AC :)

It was sad to see the state of decline of some of the churches, abandoned and neglected, their congregation having drifted away or died. Other churches, though abandoned, were carefully being restored by volunteers with a connection to the church, whether loving its history or having had family who grew up in it.

Overall though, the empty church buildings showed me that churches come and go. Some lucky ones lasted over a hundred years. Other churches died when the railroad went in another direction, or its people simply drifted away to Atlanta or other greener pastures.

The seven letters to 7 churches in Revelation show us that Jesus is intimately involved with his local congregations. Some congregations die because they deserve to, some die because they have gloriously served their eternal purpose. However the church triumphant is eternal. Every saved person who had attended one of these historic churches, whether it was 1793, 1899, or 1950, will be in heaven praising the Lamb who raised up his home church, in which he or she had served Him of the everlasting Gospel.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lesley Stowe crackers, and other things

Summer is still good. I still love it. I don't get bored. It's endlessly interesting, wonderful, and relaxing.

It's been one month, and I have another month to go. School begins again on July 31. However, I do have two days upcoming which are dedicated to professional development, two half-day educational classes on July 17 and July 18.

I've been reading and exulting in Herman Melville's Moby Dick. I say exulting, because of the poetic language and the varied types of language, never mind the riveting story. All excited, I watched Ron Howard's 2015 movie In the Heart of the Sea, based on the true events that inspired Moby Dick- the wreck of the whaleship Essex which was stove in by an angry sperm whale. Half the story is the sinking, the other half is the survival in open boat for 90 days in the middle of the Pacific. The movie is also riveting. Moby Dick is THE Great American Novel.

I also started The Son, by Philipp Meyer. It's a television series now, or so I understand, but usually like the book better so I started there. As a McMurtry fan, and a fan of The American West in general, this one had me hooked at the opening line. It's a spare retelling of a fictional son of a scion family who was kidnapped by Indians and raised among them in their culture. It's early days but I like it a lot.

I also have been given a wonderful resource, the website of Dr Abner Chou of The Master's University is a profoundly insightful lecturer and I am going through Job with him. Here is his Expositors Wiki, with the following lectures available:
  • 2 Samuel
  • Acts
  • Biblical Interpretations
  • Biblical Theology
  • Deuteronomy
  • Ephesians
  • Ezekiel
  • Greek Exegesis
  • Job
  • Minor Prophets
  • Zechariah
  • Biblical Theology of Vision
  • Job 2014
  • Gospel of Luke 2014
  • 2 Timothy/Pastoral Epistles
  • Hebrews
  • Advanced Hermeneutics
One thing I did which was to satisfy a goal on my list, was edit the 200 photos I took on my Church Pews & Pulpits Ramble, traveling over 120 miles in eastern rural Georgia to learn about the history of 7 historic and abandoned churches. It was great. I have tried to find a way to post multiple photos on Blogger, such as a slide show embedded within a post, but it's not possible as far as I have seen. So I will post a review of the trip with a link to my Flickr folder with the photos, tomorrow.

A family at church has a large garden, so you know what that means. They share and I'm a happy recipient. This past Sunday I got an eggplant, two yellow squashes, and a green pepper. I made a saute: as depicted.

Saute onion, green pepper in salt and olive oil:

When the onions are golden and the peppers are soft, I added cubed eggplant, more salt and pepper, a bit more olive oil, and covered until eggplant were soft.

I use it as a sandwich filling, added to spaghetti or penne, or just as a warm salad on the side.

At Kroger grocery store I am always on the lookout for deals. There are a lot. One kind of deal is the WOO-HOO sticker. It alerts the shopper to an item that is about to expire or perhaps is being phased out. Usually, expired. I found these in an organic section the other day. I had never seen them before. I love crackers though so I took a chance. They are Lesley Stowe fig and kalamata olive cracker crisps. They were only 99 cents so, I figured it was worth a chance.

I LOVED them! Curious, I looked them up on Amazon in case I wanted to buy them in the future. I was astounded to learn they sell (depending on vendor) for between $10-30 per box! The next time I passed by Kroger, I bought three more boxes. If there are still more next time remaining on the shelf as there were yesterday, I'll buy more. Look for the woohoo sticker. It appears on just about anything, from milk and yogurt to produce bags (like shredded lettuce or spinach) to boxed non-perishables.

Another deal is produce in a red net bag. Any item in the bag costs 99 cents. Yesterday I got three red peppers. Since red peppers are usually $1 for one, or more than $1, these at 33 cents per pepper were a good deal.

The peppers are fine, not wrinkled and no spots or mold. One time I saw the produce clerk loading up the spot where they put the bags, and I thanked her profusely for the ability to buy quality produce at a low price, She said, "It helps us too. We hardly ever have to throw anything away."

Another deal I'd gotten last week was three turnips. One, I simply peeled raw and cut up into matchsticks. I added matchstick carrots, and some lime juice and salt and made a salad out of it. The other two turnips, I peeled and cut into fries, tossed in oil, salt and pepper and baked. They got brown but didn't get crunchy like potato fries do. But they were still very good. Sorry I don't have an 'after' photo.

This weekend when I go shopping again I'll buy some cans of black beans and make a red pepper, green pepper, cilantro and black bean salad with avocado. It's filling, healthy and good.

This week I've enjoyed a visit from a returning college student who is attending The Master's University in CA, and attended an ice cream social at another friend's house. Just to prove I'm not a total recluse, lol.

Last night upon returning home I watched circling birds prepare to roost...enjoyed the cool night air and heard owls late in the wee hours...snuggled with my two cats, one at a time...watched cute clips on Youtube of babies escaping cribs or babies walking around with a bucket on their head, or kittens playing and so on.

I'm appreciative of everything the Lord has given me and grateful for everything He has not given me. Life is good.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Movie Review: Autistic Driving School

Autistic Driving School is a 2010 one-hour documentary on Netflix (and perhaps other places too) highlighting Julia Malkin's founding of a UK driving school that caters to teaching autistic people how to drive. Malkin is autistic herself.

With a driving license comes freedom, something most people want. For autistic teens and young adults however, the challenges of learning to drive safely can seem insurmountable, especially if receiving an instructor with no knowledge of how to teach to their special needs. As was stated in the movie, Autistic people are literal, so there's no saying 'take the next left' because they're likely to wind up in someone's garden. Some autistic people do not take instruction or correction well. While some can become excessively distracted, following anything and everything that interests them like a rabbit, others hardly notice anything around them, both of which are a problem when driving. The possibility of becoming overwhelmed and having a meltdown while driving is real. And more.

In comes Julia Malkin.

A woman with autism herself, Julia suffered through years of bullying in school, attempted suicide twice, one at age 16 and another at age 18, suffered through a nervous breakdown at 18, and lived as an adult by subsisting on dead end jobs...until....

Her diagnosis at age 40.
Since then, following her diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, Julia started up Excel Driver and Instructor Academy, which expanded rapidly and now helps people with autism learn to drive, provides education support and offers counselling, is still the only one of its kind in the UK.
She has achieved highest honors for her profession as the safest driver in England, earning an OBE, which is "The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry; rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the Civil Service."

According to the information given at the link, Julia attained four degrees in six years at two separate universities between 2008 and 2015 and became a Doctor of Philosophy, and founded another course of training to train Driving Instructors to teach autistic clients. The UK National Autistic Society shortlisted her as one of three finalists for the National Autistic Society’s award for outstanding achievement by a professional with an autism spectrum disorder.


If you listen to Julia on the documentary it's obvious she is brilliant. She is articulate, passionate, and her powers of observation are astounding. At one point during the movie, she'd been asked to speak out loud what goes through her mind as she drives down the road...her observations of her surroundings combined with lightning fast sifting of that information was remarkable.

The documentary wasn't about Julia directly though. With sensitivity and compassion, several youths were featured in their process of the two-pronged driving training they must go through to attain a license. There is the book test and the on the road test. Several candidates were followed. Each student spoke of the special challenges unique to autistic drivers, according to the student him or herself, or according to their parents. One young main has set a goal for himself to become a Military Transport driver, so of course passing his first license test was important. But a wrinkle to his story is that his doctor had recommended taking a certain prescription medication for his OCD, but if one is on or has ever taken such a drug, it would immediately disqualify him for ever entering the military in the UK. He had a dilemma. He decided to forego the medication, but the result was he'd have to work even harder to manage his condition while he was on the road.

A 22 year old mother had earned her licence a few years prior, but had lost her nerve to drive. Another, a set of twins, create crafts and wanted to found a business of traveling town to town to fairs and such, selling them.

They all wanted freedom and independence that a driving license would provide.

I found the documentary instructive and interesting. It was produced and edited in such a way that you pull for the students and cheer the inspiring story of Julia. With so little attention paid to adults with Autism, and with so few generally inspiring stories around, this was a documentary I'd recommend as a DON'T MISS!

This is part of the documentary, 'Autistic Driving School' which was broadcast on BBC3. It tells the story of Julia Malkin, the most qualified driving instructor in the UK. It shows her battle with autism and her mission of inclusion in education both inside and outside the driver training industry.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Deconstructing letters

In cleaning out my bookshelf I rediscovered an old project I'd done. It was from the 1999 Paper & Book Intensive, a long weekend of projects and instruction from Masters on all aspects of papermaking and book binding. It was held at the picturesque location of Haystack Mountain School of Crafts at Blue Hill, Maine.

I can't believe it's been almost 20 years. I just can't believe it. /smh/ I'm getting old.

Anyway, the class was led by Suzanne Moore, called "Still Life with Letters." The blurb had said, "This course will give students new possibilities for page, book, and cover design using letters as visual subject. Students will begin with traditional typographic and written letters, and by abstraction, invention, repetition, and manipulation create a series of unique designs appropriate for a variety of book applications. Unusual tools and a variety of coloring techniques will further expand the horizon."

You know how, on the cooking shows, the chefs or contestants will sometimes "deconstruct meat loaf" and the dish they come up with has vestiges of traditional meat loaf but will be modern and updated? That was what we were supposed to do with letters. Deconstruct them, make them a design element, where you couldn't necessarily see the letter it was, but you could tell it was a letter.

These aren't spectacular but they are good for me at my skill level. It's harder than one would think to deconstruct a letter but still keep vestiges of the letter. I think they are pretty. I should actually take them out of the envelope I'd made for them and use them in another project. That way I won't forget them for another nearly 20 years!

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Historic Pews & Pulpits Ramble: My upcoming excursion

The Warren County Chamber of Commerce is hosting a historic church tour in eastern rural Georgia. I signed up with a friend and I'm so excited! Here is what it involves:
Georgia's Classic South Region is hosting a historic church tour called the Historic Pews and Pulpits Ramble on June 16, 2017. The bus will depart from the Greensboro Home Depot at 9 a.m. and go through rural east Georgia. There will be seven stops along the way to tour historic churches tucked away but not forgotten. Not only will you get to go inside the churches and hear about their humble beginnings, you'll be inspired by songs and words from some of the chancels and pulpits.
At each stop there will be a 30-minute presentation of the history of the church, the area, and some hymns. The Sacred Harp Singers of Atlanta will be part of the presentation at Wrightsboro Methodist Church!

Here are the 7 churches we will be visiting on the Heritage Tour:

Mount Zion Presbyterian Church, Sparta
Powelton Methodist Church Sparta
Antioch Baptist Church, Crawfordville
Wrightsboro Methodist Church, Thomson
Barnett Methodist Church, Norwood
Locust Grove Catholic Church, Crawfordville
Penfield Baptist Church, Union Point

Some of the churches are two hundred years old...the one with the towers was built by freed slaves...some are still in use, others in's exciting and interesting. I've never been to this part of Georgia so it all will be new.

The tour goes from 9-3 on a Friday in mid-June. There will be lots and lots of photo opportunities the write-up says and I can see that this is true. I will need to bring lots of batteries for my camera!

I haven't gone on a tour or excursion in almost ten years, so I'm very excited for this. Pray for good weather on June 16!

Information about Harp Singing, AKA Shape Note Singing, this historic form of singing hymns unique to the south (though it flowered briefly in New England prior to the Revolutionary War, it died out and was revived down south). Here are a few photos I took of a Harp Singing in Athens at the Botanical Gardens from 2007,