Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Louisiana ACDA Fall Vocal Conference 2015

I'm having that weird, yet awesome butterfly-filled feeling of the calm (sort of....ok not really calm, LOL) before a joyful & exciting storm of choral goodness! Our state ACDA convention begins tomorrow! Everyone has worked so hard to prepare and there will be TONS of energized students in the honor choirs who will have an absolute blast working with our marvelous clinicians! I'm really looking forward to a fantastic time for everybody and I am so proud of what the students, teachers, chairs, coordinators, and executive board are all doing in our state! LET'S DO THIS!!!!! ‪#‎ACDA‬‪#‎LAACDA‬ ‪#‎NOLA‬ ‪#‎Louisiana‬ ‪#‎Music‬ ‪#‎Choirs‬

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mandwa Mahal and Bhoramdeo Temples, Travels in India

Mandwa Mahal and Bhoramdeo Temples
(A visit on Tuesday, July 14, 2015)
Continuing our trek around Chhattisgarh, India, about 17-18 miles away from Kawardha, near a large lake and its dam, through the hills, tribal villages, and herds of cows, we headed toward the first of two temple visits. The village of Chairagaon lies there, among green trees and alongside very low foothills of the Maikal range. At each turn of the roads are goatherders, cowherders, but as there are hardly any people living in the area, one only saw these plus an occasional car or motorbike on the road.

Here is a link to what it is like while driving through the cows!
Mandwa Mahal is a small Shiva temple built in 1349 by Fani Nagavanshi King: Ramchandra Deva, after his marriage with the Kalchuri Haihaya Queen Ambika Dev'i. The temple is facing West. It is known as the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh due to its resemblance to the famed temples of Khajuraho and that group of monuments.
It has several sections including one underground which is the "inner sanctum", accessed by steep stairs. Inside this, was a holy man sitting with candles, garlands, oils, and flowers.                          
One can make a prayer in 
the inner sanctum and leave an offering for Shiva or go outside to the stone figure and leave offerings and prayers.
Around the rear of the temple, one can see many roughly-carved figures of erotic couples in many positions of the Kama Sutra. The sign at the entrance to the temple ground stated that this represented a type of worship and influence of the cult of the contemporary period. The sign was so badly chipped, rusted, and destroyed that it can barely be read.

Next, we went a few miles further and came upon the Bhoramdeo temple complex. The area approaching the road to the temple had blockades and old advertisements for the temple. Apparently, the government is/was trying to make it into a tourist destination. A short walk from the parking area took us to a lovely lake with giant lily pads, swan boat rides, and a few vendors selling their wares in front of the temple.

The Bhoramdeo temple is a stone temple dedicated to a form of the god Shiva and built during the reign of Naga Vansi, king, in the early 11th century. The temple was built by Lakshman Dev Rai in the Paramara style of Malwa. Various kinds of art (I read "Vaishnava, Jaina, and Shaiva sculpture styles") are all found in the temple houses on the grounds. The temple itself is also said to be in Nagara architecture.
The temple complex is named Bhoramdeo after a ubiquitous tribal god Bhoram deo (a form of the Shiva god). As you approach and see the temple for the first time, it is quite striking! Large trees cover the grounds and some of the temple, bathing all but the tallest structures in shade.One can see how it was left to the elements for centuries without being widely discovered in the quiet solitude of central India. The main entrance faces east and the lesser two face north and south.
The entrance sign reads: "The temple is equipped with a sanctum antechamber, a three-porched square assembly hall, a super structure of seven horizontal and vertical segments, four ante "fixesin". There is a superstructure above the porches and the antechamber. Outside along the sides of the temple, there is "a riot of images" depicting sex, war, dance, and music and this is supposed "to represent the ephemeral world of senses, giving way to the darkness, silence, and emptiness of the chamber (sign says "bomb chamber") inside where communion with God takes place".
Entrance to one of the lesser temple side structures (below)
There are other small structures on the grounds that resemble 8th century brick temples of Chhattisgarh. There are a few small statues and images around the temple grounds that were assembled mostly from the Chaura village and represent 12th to 15th century. 

Then, there are some erotic statues and symbols of Shiva that are said to be from the destruction of the Khajuraho temple of the 10th-12th century. There are so many pieces that the Bhoramdeo temple is also nicknamed "The Khajuraho Chhattisgarh" as with the Mandwa Mahal structure.   
Sacred phallic Lingua surrounding an egg
Sacred lingua covered by a cobra's head - you can see where offerings have been left                              
According to the Director of Archeology & Culture and culture board in Kawardha, this temple is "one of the finest flowers of Medieval architecture". 
There was a gigantic Shiva statue on the hill across the lake, but it was VERY obscured by tree cover so I didn't get any photos of it. After leaving the temple grounds and making our way back to the ambulance in which we had come, we saw a large herd of cattle and could hear their bells. I treasure this video and I wish we could have stayed longer.
Video of grazing cows and their bells
Some had bells on their tales and others around their necks....bells of all sizes. It was beautiful and calming to hear them! It almost sounded like a faint gamelan orchestra coming to order, but also reminded me of the Buddhist temples in Katmandu, Nepal, where there is an occasional cacophonous time of instruments in between chants and prayers. This was more gentle and lovely though, and brought images of a distant time and the onset of quiet evening on the mountain in waning half shadow.

Lord, Make Me a Channel of Disturbance: The "Reverse St. Francis Prayer"

Lord, make me a channel of disturbance.
Where there is apathy, let me provoke;
Where there is compliance, let me bring questioning;
Where there is silence, may I be a voice.
Where there is too much comfort and too little action, grant disruption;
Where there are doors closed and hearts locked,
Grant the willingness to listen.
When laws dictate and pain is overlooked...
When tradition speaks louder than need...
Grant that I may seek rather to do justice than to talk about it;
Disturb us, O Lord.
To be with, as well as for, the alienated;
To love the unlovable as well as the lovely;
Lord, make me a channel of disturbance.

~ Author unknown
Chapel at the Jvaris Mlonastery near Tbilisi, Georgia by Caroline Carson, 2015

Friday, October 9, 2015

O Thou Who Art Unchangeable - Kirkegaard

I first heard this prayer, from the writings of Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (1813-1855) in the magnificent work: The Prayers of Kirkegaard by the masterful composer, Samuel Barber. I remember singing it with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and recording it with Telarc. It was during the last few years of Robert Shaw's life. We paired it with Bela Bartok's Cantata Profana in the same concert and recording. Here's a link to information about that amazing work! Lastly, here's a link to the whole album on iTunes. We won a Grammy for it :-)

"Thou who art unchangeable, whom nothing changes! Thou who art unchangeable in love, precisely for our welfare not submitting to any change: may we too will our welfare, submitting ourselves to the discipline of Thy unchangeableness, so that we may, in unconditional obedience, find our rest and remain at rest in thy unchangeableness. Thou art not like a man; if he is to preserve only some degree of constancy he must not permit himself too much to be moved, nor by too many things. Thou on the contrary art moved, and moved in infinite love, by all things. Even that which we human beings call an insignificant trifle, and pass by unmoved, the need of a sparrow, even this moves Thee, O Infinite Love! But nothing changes Thee, O Thou who art unchangeable! O Thou who is infinite love dost submit to be moved, may this our prayer also move Thee to add Thy blessing, in order that there may be wrought such a change in him who prays as to bring him into conformity with Thy unchangeable will, Thou who art unchangeable!"

Another of my favorite quotes by Kirkegaard is pictured below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Impending Apocalypse Got You Down?

The World Is Ending......
Wait, what?! Again?
Not enough coffee for an afternoon of impending doom...
In case you haven't heard about this potential earth-destroying event, here is a USA Today article link to catch you up. In the past few years, we seemed to have survived several doomsdays. I was curious about how many times folks, well-meaning or not, have predicted the end of the world so I asked Siri and we found a List of Dates Predicted for Apocalyptic Events. Very interesting. Rather than fret, I decided to enjoy some memes and to make some more coffee.
Check out these #spaceLOLs :-)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Introducing: BLUEBELL

Ok, so it took me two years after the death of my dear Sasha kitty to finally get another sweet kitteh, but I finally did it when I came home from my summer travels. I'd actually been wanting to have a dog all year AND another cat, but do realize that I can't do that just yet because of apartment life and not having enough time to devote to a dog's needs. I will, at some point, get another dog. Over the summer, I began to realize that I pet every animal that I passed. I started looking at pictures from the LA-SPCA and various adoption places, hoping to find just the right pet for me. As it turned out, I found a couple of kitty cats and drove out to see them, but when I called halfway there on each trip and someone had JUST adopted them! Alas. Finally, on a Tuesday afternoon, I found Metairie Kitten Adoption and a few pretty cats that I wanted to go see. They said that they were currently being looked at, but that the person was going to decide which one to adopt the next day. I asked if I could come and see them that evening and so I did! I chose the lovely kitty who is now my sweet Bluebell kitteh :-)
She is a Russian Blue breed and the name Bluebell, which I had chosen for a future dog name, was now going to be hers! It's also actually NOT about the ice cream either, though I do love Bluebell ice cream! Her eyes are STUNNING! They are yellow with a green ring around each pupil and her shade of grey is so pretty!

So, she came home with me, so super tiny and now after a month and a half, she has grown a bit. She's super playful and just a bundle of joy! Bluebell loves to snuggle and purr. Her purring is loud too! She is also very smart and I understand that this, as well as being very loving, is a characteristic of her breed.

So, welcome Bluebell and her silly antics which will probably be posted here pretty often!

Ahhhhh, Fall :-)

Ahhhh, Fall.......

St. Paul's Episcopal Church, New Orleans, Louisiana, EDOLA                       

Monday, October 5, 2015

A Birthday Rhyme-fest for My Bishop

A Birthday Rhyme-fest for My Bishop, Morris K. Thompson
11th Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana
~ by Caroline Carson

There once was a bishop named Morris
Whose care was eternally for us. 

He led us with grace from the tip of his mitre 
And showed us God’s love, it was always the brighter.

He sang all the hymns with such excellent gusto,
That folk were inspired to sing with robusto!

He walked with his crozier
With quite the composure

As he blessed all the people
‘Neath many a steeple

The kindness he shows to all those he meets
Is valued far more than this poem now greets.

For my friend and my bishop, I’m truly most blessèd
With his coolness and humor I’m also impressèd

I’m glad you were born and I’m glad that we met
For you make our lives better and help us not fret

I can hear you right now with a smile, in the Kirk
Saying “Life is short, be ye well, do ye good work!”

So THANK YOU this day and I hope you enjoy
Getting good wishes as THE BIRTHDAY BOY!

PS. I hope I won’t be excommunicated for all the rhymes! :-)

September Moon O'er the Grey Twilight

I'm a wee bit late in posting this, but I still love the way this photo came out! Taken on my Canon 50X, the sky went from blue to grey when I zoomed in and it's SUCH a pretty grey! I also love how you can see the Moon's craters! I'd say definitely not bad for a Canon Powershot!
Photo by Caroline Carson, 2015

Ideas for World Space Week! October 4-10, 2015

IT'S WORLD SPACE WEEK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This post is written for those who may not have World Space Week activities in their areas or the ability to travel to an activity. World Space Week #WSW2015 is from October 4-10.

“The General Assembly declares 4 to 10 October World Space Week to celebrate each year at the international level the contributions of space science and technology to the betterment of the human condition.”
~ UN General Assembly resolution, 6 December 1999

Founded in 1999, World Space Week has grown larger each year and often has an annual theme. In 2013, there were more than 1400 events in 80 countries! Last year's 2014 theme was a new satellite navigation theme “Space: Guiding Your Way”, aiming to inspire millions! Check out this link to see events in your area or to search for specific events. This year's theme is "DISCOVERY" "The theme for 2015, “Discovery” celebrates the exciting discoveries in space, teaching us a lot about our origins and our future." (from website)

I hope you enjoy these space-related ideas - It's certainly not a comprehensive list, but just a few suggestions from yours truly :-)

The Pleiades Deep and Dusty
Image Credit & Copyright: David Lane

- Go outside & look up! Honestly, this most basic activity is often forgotten!
- Join The Planetary Society
- Find when the ISS passes overhead & wave at it!

- Watch a space movie such as THE MARTIAN (I personally LOVED IT!)
- Check out the tags #Mars and #JourneyToMars on twitter
- Write a poem or read a poem about space, the sky, or technology each day
- Plan a trip to one of several NASA, CSA, ESA, or other space facilities!
- Check out NASA TV, Star Walk, & all sorts of Space apps - there are so many!
- Write a THANK YOU LETTER to a space agency or an astronaut. Make a copy for your senator, governor, or school.
- Think about the Universe and our place in it for one solid minute!
- Donate space-themed toys to children and/or education programs
- Write to your government asking support for your national space agency
- Wear a space t-shirt
- Science lesson plans for kids
- Watch a documentary about space
- Support STEM Education and the STEM Education Coalition
- Read about human space flight - Here's one site
- Check out
- Listen to the sounds of space - Voyager, The Sun, a Meteor Shower
- Follow space organizations on social media and keep up with posts
- Make plans to visit a planetarium or local observatory if there are any in your area
- Look into your local astronomy society and check their activities
- Check out NASA's SPACE PLACE and activities, printable PDFs
- Learn about one astronaut each day this coming week. Here are some NASA astronauts
- Drive out to where the sky is dark and spend the evening stargazing
- Read an article about space
- Sign up for an online astronomy class - such as this one or this one
- Check out some astronaut and space facts here
- Learn about current missions
- SPACE-THEMED BAKING - someone needs to do this for me, LOL!
- Make a solar system in an arts & crafts project
- Listen to Holst's "The Planets"

- visit the NASA JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory) website
- Other NASA space education activities
- Leave other suggestions in the comments or send me a tweet!
- Again, go outside & look up!

Filaments of the Vela Supernova Remnant
Image Credit & Copyright: Angus Lau, Y Van, SS Tong (Jade Scope Observatory)