Wednesday, July 25, 2012


  If one is accustomed to living in rural upstate New York, a visit to New York City and Eastern Long Island is always a study in contrasts.   Upstaters live in a sea of greenery and easy access to wide vistas of rolling hills, farms and a multitude of lakes and streams.   By contrast the city is marked by oodles of concrete, massive buildings, bustling traffic and a cacophony of sounds.   The vistas tend to be marked by iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty.
   Although millions choose to live in an urban megalopolis, there still is an innate human desire to experience greenery.    Millions will flock to any green space available.  Small havens of greenery are a welcome respite from the concrete jungle.   When I am in the city I enjoy observing the presence of tree lined streets and avenues,  tiny parks, and even larger parks like Central Park.   Recently we visited a relatively new linear park that is elevated above the city NYC streets.  It is the High line park built on the abandoned elevated railroad of the New York Central.   This park was dedicated in 2009 after the concerted effort of several individuals and the support of Mayor Bloomberg.   After this railroad was abandoned volunteer vegetation began to appear and flourish.   Local observers were inspired to build upon the presence of the new greenery with a vision of a linear park including walkways, newly planted grass and plants and areas to rest.  The park is a delightful haven.   In our walk of this park we enjoyed the contrasts of flowers, trees and grass with the surrounding man-made structures.     Within each human is the pride of our ability to create man made structures but at the same time we are nurtured by the gifts of the natural world.   Here is some evidence of our appreciation of both the man-made and the natural world.   Perhaps each of us has an individual perception of the balance of contrasts we wish to live with.   I, for one will tilt my balance toward the natural world - even if I am an engineer!
Old Rails

Turrets of Buildings
Trees, Shade and Rest

Sculpture Among the Flowers

Flowers Proliferate

Empire Sate Building View

Adjacent Church

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Museum Learning

Farmer Wayne with Restored Plow
   Thursday's adventure was a journey to the Farmer's Museum in Cooperstown, New York.   Cooperstown is about a two hour drive from our home through the back roads and farms of central New York.   Modern and marginal farming are a part of the rural scene.   The Farmer's Museum captures the essence of bygone farming and rural living with exhibits of tools, businesses, and trades of the colonial through 1800's period.
   I was particularly interested in the farm machines and tools of the past.   Since I have been working with the model artifacts of the now defunct Cornell University Agricultural Museum I was especially interested in the full sized plows and other agricultural machinery on display.  Much to my delight I saw full sized models of ancient plows, harrows, threshers, dump rakes and so on.   Many of these implements were full sized versions of models from the Cornell Agricultural Museum.   During my visit I had a chance to converse with "Farmer Wayne" who serves as a part of the museum crew in period costume welcoming and informing visitors.   We shared stories of plow design and use and the vagaries of proper plow adjustment.   He also showed me a plow they had restored using the skills of the museum's blacksmith and other artisans of their group.  I was able to identify the plow as a late 1800's model similar to a model we have in our Cornell collection.
     In addition to observing the farm equipment Nancy and I also learned about the early practice of medicine, unusual pharmaceuticals, printing, and early law practice.   It was further striking to observe the tools of the various trades of basket making, barrel making, plumbing, leather working, carpentry, tinsmithing and on and on.   There was a huge amount of knowledge and lore on display.   One cannot but wonder how we would be able to recreate all those skills if we were suddenly thrust into a world without cell phones, computers, electricity and all the modern conveniences.  Undoubtedly the old codgers who had preserved the skills of the 1800's and colonial America would be in high demand.
    I have no desire to live in the America of the 1800's, but it is good to admire the ingenuity of our ancestors and to learn that one can survive and thrive in any era.
1800's Era Mower

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Geezer's Love Story

  One of the special privileges of being a pastor's spouse is being a part of the ministry to past and present parishioners.   Today we visited with a previous parishioner whose wife passed away on Friday.   She was 89 and they had been together since 1945 when they were married when he had a brief leave from the service in the Navy.   They had remarkable life together and his stories of their courtship, marriage, and child raising were both poignant and sweet recollections of long loving marriage.   They are both of a generation that served our country and society with generosity and integrity.   Tuesday we will attend her funeral and I am sure the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will have more to tell about their great love story.   Nancy, who has considered Marilyn to be a second mother, will provide part of the eulogy.   We will mourn, but we will also celebrate an exemplary life and love story.   Passing with dignity is such a gift!