Sunday, May 31, 2015

An Episcopal Prayer for Evening

God, grant as we discover the fascinating wonders and mysteries of the universe, 
we may come to know you more truly. 
And now, as we have come to the Sun's hour of rest; 
the lights of evening round us shine; 
We hymn Thee, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
APOD, The Orion Bullets

Saturday, May 30, 2015

This Redhead's Favorite Lotions

While I completely realize that this post will be of zero interest to most people, I'm writing it anyway, MWAH! :-) My absolute FAVORITE lotion in the world came in the mail today! Nivea Soft
I first tried it one summer while teaching in Innsbruck, Austria and I bought it at a grocery/department store. It is SO SOFT, smells fabulous, but isn't too smelly and doesn't irritate my sensitive skin! I use it on my hands and face. I haven't been able to find it in the U.S., at least any place in NOLA, so I ordered a few tubes from Amazon and YAY! 
I have sensitive skin and am a redhead. I've got mild Rosacea, but haven't really had too many issues with that and don't have to take medicines for it. As I age, I have more freckles that have turned into moles, BOOOOO. I'm sure I'll end up looking like the Wicked Witch of the West eventually (wait, didn't she actually have pretty good skin, albeit green?!), but for now, people always tell me what terrific skin I have so maybe I really do. However, I would NOT want to see myself under a UV lamp. 

Freckles, future skin care patches, and moles, OH MY :-) 

I take decent care of my skin and I personally follow three things regarding skin care:
1. The slather method
2. Giving my skin a rest
3. Sun protection / SPF 

For the "slather method", all that means is that I slather in plenty of body lotion after a shower. I adore Bath & Body Works stuff, but mostly use Vaseline products (or the CVS imitations)
I do love also Olay's Quench though, for body and face! 
As for giving my skin a rest, I occasionally have days or weeks where I don't wear any makeup and I "refresh" my facial lotion about three times a day. This happens mostly during holidays or summer or travel :-)

Above is another of my favorites and this is my usual under-makeup moisturizer. Well, either that or the Olay Quench Shimmer. For the third item, it would be to include lotions with sun protection. I like Coppertone's Water Babies and use the fragrance-free version.
I have always had a ton of friends ask me to try their special, extremely expensive, products and in many cases, I have done it to help them out with their personal sales and career initiatives. I stopped that about 20 years ago as the products, to me personally, weren't making any differences and all my favorites are often cheaper.....much, MUCH cheaper. 
Here endeth my lotiony post :-)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Now That Daylight Fills the Sky

Now that the daylight fills the sky, we lift our hearts to God on high, 
That he in all we do or say, Would keep us safe from harm today.

Not sure what kind of flower this is, but I photographed it in Innsbruck, Austria back in 2010. 

Riding in the Krewe of Cleopatra!

Retro-post: A look back at Mardi gras 2015! (from Feb.) For three years now, I have had the great pleasure of riding in the New Orleans Mardi gras Krewe of Cleopatra. The first time was when I turned 40 and many of my friends here got together and paid for my membership in the group! How FANTASTIC! Two of my friends also just happened to have a garage full of boxes of beads which they wanted get rid I could actually buy some things like stuffed animals and other items to throw from the float. The krewe was extremely friendly and I got to have a spot next to three of my friends. The ride was AMAZING! I felt like a rock star!
video - I can't find my video, but will keep looking!
I skipped a year and then the Cleopatra parade last year (2014) became an Uptown parade instead of rolling on the West Bank of NOLA. Wow, what a change! This year, we were still an Uptown parade route and it was my third time riding! SO. MUCH. FUN.

Our party at Generations Hall began around noon on Friday, Feb. 6 and we didn't begin to load the floats until 4/4:30. By then, many of us had been eating, dancing, and enjoying refreshing beverages since 12/1:00! :-) Wheeeeeee!
We got to Tchoupitoulas Street and halfway down it when our float, 8-A had a flat tire. The policemen circled our float on their motorcycles (a bit like sharks, LOL). Soon after it wa sfixed, we continued our route down Tchoup, up Jefferson, over Magazine, up Napoleon, and finally to St. Charles. 
This year, it was a bit cold and I didn't see more than a few of my students and friends out, but it was still insanely fun! 
When you're on the ground attending a parade and actually trying to catch some of the "throws", you want to avoid ladders and children, but when you're on the float, there is nothing you can do to lessen the cute attack and you cannot help but give your stuffed animals and spears or hearts or flowers to the kids! It's adorable! I try to look for folks standing off by themselves, perhaps thinking they can't find a spot up at the front or maybe just watching and taking it all in. I try to throw them something that lights up or a cool signature throw.
If you've never done this sort of thing, I highly recommend it - its a TON of fun and the Mardi gras ball the Krewe throws is FANTASTIC! A fancy night of being social, seeing the lieutenants and captains and other "officers" being introduced, excellent food, open bar, and lots of dancing!

The Random Hand in the Street

The other day, while driving, I stopped at the intersection of Elysian Fields Ave and Claiborne Ave in NOLA. It was the sunny part of the day and a bit windy, but not too much. Suddenly, a blue hand came rolling across the intersection and was soon heading toward my car. It was bouncing along like it had a purpose and it struck me as SO HILARIOUS! It looked like it had something in it so as not to let it become picked up by the wind and carried far away or float like a balloon, but it wasn't completely filled with liquid. I could tell by the way it was bouncing. LOL! Such a random and strange occurrence and in a short blip of time, the light turned green and I was on my way, the blue hand only in my memory to ponder the nature of its journey and existence.

A Prayer for Healing

For Health of Body and Soul
~ from the Book of Common Prayer

May God the Father bless you, God the Son heal you, God
the Holy Spirit give you strength. May God the holy and
undivided Trinity guard your body, save your soul, and bring
you safely to his heavenly country; 
where he lives and reigns
for ever and ever. 
Flower found in Chitwan jungle, Nepal, 2014

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Verdi Requiem!

Behind the scenes in rehearsal with the LPO, NOVA Chorale, The Jefferson Chorale, and the Newman School Choir. Wow, it's going to be a FABULOUS concert! 

1. Friday at 7:30 PM in Covington, LA at First Baptist Church
2. Saturday at 7:30 PM at the Mahalia Jackson Center for the Performing Arts in New Orleans, LA

This requiem is my favorite piece of music, EVER. I first sang it on Thursday, April 22,1989, at 8:00 PM, with the Charleston Symphony Singers Guild and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra (conductor: David Stahl). I was eighteen years old. The Singers Guild is now called the CSO Chorus. When I was in it, it was directed by Ms. Emily Remington, one of my first mentors and truly amazing woman. Through the years, both she and David Stahl were major influences  and role models for me. This first and formative experience singing the requiem was sooooooooo magnificent! I was simply transfixed. It's interesting for me to remember that the work is actually the reason why I went into music. Since 1989, I've had the great fortune to sing it with several different orchestras and choirs. I do believe this is my eighth or ninth time singing it. Now THAT is lucky! :-) Robert Shaw, Larry Wyatt, Richard Conant, Robert Lyall, and Yoel Levi were a few of the conductors. I also use this piece when I teach choral literature and occasionally a movement or two when teaching conducting. 
By the way....I made sure to wait until after the break and when Maestro Carlos Miguel Prieto was working on a passage with orchestra only before I snapped these photos!

LightSail Liftoff!

LightSail blasted off this morning at 10:05 CDT, very cool project. I put together a collage of launch screenshots from the United Launch Alliance's live broadcast. What exactly is LightSail? Here you go!
More info here at The Planetary Society -

Friday, May 15, 2015

An Anglican Prayer at the Close of Day

Look down, Lord, from your heavenly throne. Illuminate the darkness of this night with your celestial brightness, and from us, the children of light, banish for ever the deeds of darkness. God our judge and our teacher, let us not waste time when the day is done in guilt or self-reproach. Give us rather the courage to face whatever has been, 
accept forgiveness, and move on to something better. 
Three Galaxies over New Zealand 
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Mackinven

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Prayer for Nepal and Ways to Help After the Earthquakes

Almighty God, you are our comfort and strength
in times of the onset of sudden disaster, crisis, or chaos. 
Surround with your branches of solace, those who suffer 
through earthquake, storm, fire or flood.
By your Spirit, lift up those who have fallen, 
Sustain those who work to rescue or rebuild,
and fill them with the hope of the bright peace of new creation. 

HOW TO HELP NEPAL in the aftermath of two massive earthquakes:
If you can't get there or send materials to someone who is going, consider donating to one of the many international aid organizations. I donated to Episcopal Relief & Development
If possible, make contact with someone on the ground there who is a part of one of these international organizations. 

1. How to help Nepal: 7 vetted charities doing relief work  following the earthquake
2. How to help Nepal - via ABC News article 
3. Please consider keeping the people of Nepal and those processing and giving aid relief in your prayers.
4. Previous blog post: Help Nepal Earthquake Victims - Some World Aid Organizations Info and Links

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Dose of Louisiana NATURE!

This past weekend, I visited the Northlake Nature Center in Mandeville, Louisiana.
Photo by CPCarson
From their website:
"The Northlake Museum and Nature Center, Inc. was established in 1982 by as a project of the Greater Covington Junior Service League as an independent non-profit corporation directed to preserve, study, and publicly exhibit the natural and cultural resources of the Florida Parishes in southeastern Louisiana. In 1985, the Northlake Nature Center, Inc. entered into a 50-year lease with the State of Louisiana for a 52 acre tract of land situated along Bayou Castine on Highway 190 east of Mandeville across from Fontainebleau State Park, subsequently expanded to 400 ac, just 45 minutes from New Orleans. Situated in the heart of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, it is also adjacent to Pelican Park Sports Complex and the 31-mile Tammany Trace Rails-to-Trails path."

Photo by CPCarson
Northlake Nature Center is across from the Fountainebleau State Park, and just down the road from Big Branch Marsh, which we also visited.
Photo by CPCarson
Aside from the mosquitoes eating us up, it was fantastic to be outside and to have a fun day of taking photos! My personal photo successes of the day are as follows:

A bird eating a frog - The spacey-looking other bird, who didn't look like he was paying attention, attacked the bird eating the frog and a battle ensued about one second after I got this photo at Fountainebleau State Park.
Photo by CPCarson
A Green Heron - I don't see them very much, but this little guy was stunning!
Photo by CPCarson
Dragonfly eye - a very cool closeup! I have always loved dragonflies. I used to sit on the back stoop of our house called "Seafair" on Daniel Island, SC (waaaaay before it was developed) and hold out my finger. One by one, dragonflies would rest for a spell. Of course I had to name them and my little self started out with such original names as "Bluey" and then "Greeny". As you can probably guess, other names included "Orangey", "Purpley", and "Silvery" etc.
Photo by CPCarson
Turtle under water - There was a baby turtle resting above water on a branch and I think this is its mother keeping an eye on him. I love seeing the shell under water.
Photo by CPCarson
Hawk in flight - This one is, well, over-cropped and grainy to say the least, but I still like it :-)
Photo by CPCarson
Red-eared slider turtle head up close - I've never ever noticed turtle pupils before, but they are wild! When zooming in, I saw him blink too - very strange, but cool!
Photo by CPCarson
Here is the whole album - it's on FB, but I made it public so you should be able to see it. 
Photo by CPCarson
Photo by CPCarson
Photo by CPCarson

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Only in Sleep" by Eriks Esenvalds

Only in Sleep

Text: Sara Teasdale
Music: Ēriks Ešenvalds

I LOVE this YouTube recording! 

(The whole "Northern Lights" album here, downloadable from iTunes)

Only in sleep I see their faces,
Children I played with when I was a child,
Louise comes back with her brown hair braided,
Annie with ringlets warm and wild.

Only in sleep Time is forgotten –
What may have come to them, who can know?
Yet we played last night as long ago,
And the doll-house stood at the turn of the stair.

The years had not sharpened their smooth round faces,
I met their eyes and found them mild –
Do they, too, dream of me, I wonder,
And for them am I too a child?

This amazing piece of choral music and this outstanding performance by the Trinity College Choir, conducted by Steven Layton are such a GORGEOUS pairing!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

On Being the Solar System ( @The_SolarSystem )

Hi, I'm your Solar System, it's very nice to meet you!

As I've just crossed the 20,000 follower mark on twitter, I wanted to say a few words about being space itself :-) That many followers is truly not a huge deal for a ton of people, but for me, it's cool. I've very carefully watched who follows me and taken care to note that, truly, most are genuine and active scientists, astronomers, science organizations, and space super fans. That's exciting! As a NASA Solar System Ambassador program volunteer, I have the opportunity to reach a great audience in person. It is such an honor! I've had several presentations this year and have some big ones in the works for next year (A big Music of the Spheres concert......then, a panel of guests to discuss science, faith, space exploration, and the big questions of life). On Twitter, I also get to talk to people about space and various missions. My account is not the NASA account (@NASASolarSystem - which you should definitely follow), but mine is also a space news service. It is both that and a personal account, as the 4.568 to 6 billion-year-old entity, the Solar System. Here are ten things about me. As space itself, I have a unique perspective :-)


It's been tremendously fun interacting with all of my followers over the two years of being spacey! Here are some of the highlights in screenshots and list!

- Meeting so many space science fans
- Interacting with space and science organizations
- Promoting STEM and STEAM education in a fun way
- It keeps me joyfully reading and on my toes with space science and launches!
- Humor! The interactions between real people can be very funny, but is almost always hilarious when inanimate objects, planets, nebulae, galaxies, spacecraft etc. start tweeting!

- Occasionally, I live-tweet a launch or other NASA event. It is SO MUCH FUN to be online and part of the chatter that goes on and to feel the excitement of what's happening even if you're not actually there! MSL Curiosity's landing, ISS launches, and the Philae lander's release from the Rosetta spacecraft and landing on Comet #67P are examples.

- Questions from people about space, science, and exploration: Fairly often, I am asked a question and I do take the time to answer. If I don't know the answer, I do some research and if I still can't find the answer, I point them to an expert! I always learn a bunch in the process.
- Conversations from young people around the world. One of my favorites was a conversation about how to be a scientist and how to stay in the know about space from a child in Pakistan. He asked me some great questions and I was able to share some online resources with him and give him some encouragement. Another time, it was a memorable conversation from someone in Japan who is very very ill and shares my same admiration for all things space.
- Astronomers share their photography with me. This is a special treat! Photographs they want to be seen, their amazing ongoing projects and photography work, and sometimes breaking photos of events such as the total solar eclipse that took place over a very thin line in remote locations. 
- Sometimes, someone asks me to say happy birthday to someone, from space :-) 

- Sharing: I've been able to share content, photos, and space humor that I love! Plus seeing major organizations have fun exchanges is extra fabulous!

- The big guys interact sometimes! My personal favorites and the ones with whom I've interacted the most over time are The Canadian Space Agency, ESA's Rosetta spacecraft, NASA Dawn, and Astronaut Cady Coleman.

So, with all that said, if you follow @The_SolarSystem, 

THANK YOU and keep looking up!