Another one of my passions is gardening. This wet summer has proven to be a blessing in disguise that has produced big, beautiful flowers and veggies: although many of them were too late for our local county fair. I did enter a few roses and perennials, most of which won first or second place; which was not bad considering that I, an amateur, was competing against garden club members and master gardeners. Here’s some of my first place roses.

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With the arrival of fall, it’s time to make some more luxurious homemade soap! I am in the midst of planning for two soap making classes. One at my home and one at a nearby church. I will be teaching both the hot and cold processes for making soap. The classes start at 9:00 in the morning and usually end at around noon, but people always stay and chat well into the middle of the afternoon.

There’s something about getting people together to create a useful product that causes people to open up and share –  Soap making, corn husking bees, haying, harvest festivals – These were central to the American way of life in our not too distant past. Perhaps we have lost not only the art of these crafts, but also the spirit that drew people together to help each other in practical ways. The spirit of generosity, and kindness, and care for our fellow man. Are we so busy trying to acquire things for ourselves that we fail to realize how self-focused our society has become – and all that we are missing out on?

So, for this reason I offer to teach this craft to whomever is interested. Sometimes it’s for a birthday party, other times it’s for church study groups. But always, it’s in the spirit of giving. I make no profit on it except the joy of seeing people create something they never thought they could create…and to watch them leave with not just a fresh batch of soap, but with also the soul satisfaction such shoulder to shoulder work with our fellow mankind produces.

Yesterday, while working with a pair of sisters on hymn improvisation, I discovered something new!

Breathing – Yes, even in piano playing we must control our breath. Actually, the “sound” of breath comes out in our playing. We must take the time to shape each phrase of our music in much the same way we shape verbal sentences. We do not talk in rambling run-ons and we should not play in rambling run-ons either.

“The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Job 33:4

I like to think of myself as a classically sophisticated individual with refined tastes. Whether I am making music, gardening, reading, or doing any of my other hobbies, I am always thinking. People who know me would probably describe me as a carefree analytic with an unquenchable desire to learn.

I hope to stimulate that same love of learning in everyone who reads the content of these pages. May you read, apply and become a better individual!