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Time to Rethatch Our Teahouse

Twenty some years ago my wife Lorraine awoke and assured me that I was craving to build an authentic Japanese Teahouse in our back meadow.  So I did – and the original thatch has lasted a quarter century.  These pictures show the new bundles of thatch I scythed down, hauled up, and tied down onto the roof, with a lot of help from my buddy – Thanks Marvin.  Everyone should have a retreat, be it for solitude and/or contemplation with a few close friends.

 

The Harmonies of our World – From Costa Rica’s Bellbird To Joshua Bell

‘Twas a dizzyingly moveable feast of music.   Within barely more than one brief rotation of our terrestrial orb I have had my soul opened to the finest music that we humans and the Divine have to offer.

The morning sun’s lifting over the Osa Peninsula in southern Costa Rica once again orchestrates a fugal flood of God’s most elegant song birds.  Our guide Abraham slings his scope and tripod over shoulder, leading Lorraine and me down slender trails through the leafy jungle.  Somewhere, amidst this dense ramage, bellbirds cello, pink-legged woodrails trill, tanagers staccato, and the clay-colored thrush lets loose the sweet stab of a call that has won him the honor of Costa Rica’s National bird.  Thousands join the chorus – even sun-dappled pairs of macaws lend their raucous cries to this symphonic surge of life.

Compared to Abraham, Lorraine and I cannot find a lion in our living room, but with his tutelage and our binoculars we try to poke our eyes where bodies could not possibly penetrate – to spy the sources of this symphony in the bush.  With each bird sighted comes an almost disenchanting ease at their songs.  Such magnificent rhapsodies so effortlessly, so spontaneously brought forth – and yet enchanting beyond telling.

Then, suddenly – thanks to the near-magical mechanics of today’s travel, and scores unseen assisting hands –  here Lorraine and I sit: a mere tanager’s swoop from virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell and the Academy of St. Martins in the Fields Orchestra performing Paganini’s Violin Concerto No. 1.  (After landing at Newark airport, a friend raced us home with enough time to pick up our tickets and arrive back at Newark’s NJ Performing Arts Center for the 8 p.m. curtain.) Poised concentration etched Bell’s face and passion poured through his agile fingers and on into the 1713 Huberman Stradivarius which delivered his mastery.  That same awe of the Avian’s morning’s symphony returned.  Again, we paused, still, amazed that such beauty was ours for the hearing…reveling in the sounds and letting our souls crescendo and descend with the moment of the music.

But with this second concerto an additional emotion kept creeping in: admiration.  Joshua Bell had labored admirably, astoundingly, to achieve this pinnacle of performance.  The untold thousands of hours of practice, the hundreds of thousands of hours of his fellow musicians in the orchestra, had prepared them for this soul-enriching experience we were sharing.  And even during the performance, each measure of music hung precariously on that instant’s expertise.

The entire house rose to its feet and applauded the artists – none more enthusiastically than Lorraine and I.  To compare the morning’s vs. the evening’s symphony would be ludicrous.  Both transformed and uplifted me.  Both were divinely inspired.  Yet walking out of NJPAC into the evening air, the truth of this beauty became clear: whatever the source we are better for seeking it; we should accept it with gratitude; and while beauty’s creation comes with easy spontaneity for some and only with sweat for others, it always God’s best within us.

             – Bart Jackson

2018 Governor’s Cup Garden State Wine Awards

Friday, November 16 Bart and Lorraine joined the guests as Governor Phil Murphy and his wife Tammy as they opened the doors of their Drumthwacket residence to celebrate Governor’s Cup Garden State Wine Awards.  ‘Twas a glorious opportunity to celebrate & sample New Jersey’s exploding, world class wine industry, and for Bart & Lo to meet so many old friends they made in authoring The Garden State Wineries Guide.

Bart & Garry Pavlis  NJ’s Prime Wine Judge and Guru toast the state’s winery explosion – now up to 50. Gary, who penned the forward for The Garden State Wineries Guide, runs tours statewide.  

Bart congratulates Louis Caracciolo, wizard vintner of world class Amalthea Cellars for winning the Best Red and Best Wine Overall in 2018

NJ Secretary of Agriculture Doug Fisher (left) and Bart prepare a bottle swap of their own homegrown wines.

Bart & Lorraine enjoy Drumthwacket’s gubernatorial hospitality, and celebrate The Governor’s Cup Awards with many wine-making friends.