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May 23, 2001: A lot of things have been going on since I last wrote in The Lair Log. We are in the midst of our company season and we have company scheduled for five weekends straight. It will be a while before I can return to my paintings. 

Our daughter Camilla and her fiancé, George, came from Virginia last week for a few days. We hadn't seen Camilla for a year and a half, and found her looking wonderful. We met George for the first time during this visit and he is delightful. We are so pleased he is to be our son-in-law and thoroughly enjoyed having him here. They did not want to leave The Lair even to go into town, preferring to spend their time enjoying nature here. Of course, that pleased us. They relaxed and explored the land, rested, ate the vegetarian meals I had prepared, practiced their marksmanship at our shooting range, played with the cats, stargazed at the clear sky one night and seemed to have a restful, if too brief visit. They saw deer and wild turkey while out on the land.   This was George's first visit to Texas and he was favorably impressed by the Hill Country, but that may have been marred by the first scorpion that we have seen this season in the house choosing to give him a personal greeting by getting on his luggage as he was packing to go back home. We had a few bad moments when it seemed the scorpion would crawl into his luggage but Farris and George managed to get him off the suitcase and dispatch him to scorpion afterlife. My theory is that they have over a hundred acres to play in and don't need to come in my house, so I dispatch them without guilt. 

Camilla and I spent some time on the porch in the rocking chairs talking and watching butterflies flitting among  the wildflowers that are growing at the edge of the deck. Wildflowers are prolific right now and so are the butterflies. We almost have to wade through the butterflies when we go for a walk. We got the binoculars and actually identified a new one as we rocked and watched the butterfly show from the porch. It is the small Funereal Duskywing, a beautiful one despite its somber name. It is charcoal brown with a white edge on its back wings, and is tiny, around a half inch to a scant inch at the most. We have had Painted Ladies, Red Admirals and various Checkerspots, Fritillaries and white and sulphur, or yellow ones. We also have had some large swallowtails. 

A gorgeous Painted Bunting has been putting a show on in the evenings at the top of the hill behind the house. I sat on one of the patios with my binocular and watched him and his mate one evening. I thought they were playing around among the rocks at the top of the hill, but when I watched them through the binocular I discovered that they were eating seeds from the wild grasses that are growing there, reminding me how important all those seeds are to various forms of wildlife on the place. One morning this week while I was on the phone I watched a Roadrunner come down the hill and dash across the yard. They appear to be in a hurry even when they aren't. I love to see them at The Lair. The Blackbacked lesser goldfinch has been visiting the feeder and Camilla got to see that spectacular bird, a new one for her list, for we are on the eastern edge of their range and don't see them very often. They have a black head and back and a brilliant, brilliant yellow breast. 

In a recent Lair Log entry I mentioned my frustration with a college course on music appreciation, stating that I had learned more from my encyclopedia than from that course. Well, I have found the ultimate in music appreciation courses. It is How to Listen to and Understand Great Music with professor Dr. Robert Greenberg. This is part of the Great College Courses Series put out by The Teaching Company. We had previously bought and thoroughly enjoyed the one on Astronomy taught by Dr. Alex Filippenko. This organization engages outstanding college teachers to teach the courses, mostly on Video, although some are Audio only. They are truly wonderful. Many subjects are covered and I encourage you to click on the link and visit their web site. The key to buying from this company is to check and see what is on sale, for they offer excellent sale prices. They cover history, literature, religions of the world, Old Testament and New Testament, the Bible as literature, the Protestant Reformation,  courses on literature, physics, astronomy, philosophy, even a history of the English language that looks fascinating and a number of others. 

The Music course I just completed is a series of forty-eight lectures, each around forty-five minutes long during which Dr. Greenberg teaches the history of music from various historical eras, and the various forms of each style. He uses the piano and various recorded selections to teach one what to listen for in each type of music. It has carry-over to any music of that type and I learned much from my first run-through of the tapes and am now going through them again in depth using the accompanying booklet and making my own notes as we go. Dr Greenberg is a truly gifted teacher and is witty and engaging. I wonder if I had had this overall picture of what exactly a rondo or mazurka or concerto or overture or fugue is and where each fits in when I was studying piano if I might have enjoyed those studies a bit more. There are courses on individual composers and their music, how to listen to and understand opera, and others. Check the courses out, there should be something there of interest. 

I had another learning situation this past week, this one rather strange. Many years ago I bought some tapes on art composition while I was taking art lessons. I had found them disjointed and not too helpful. I got them out this week among others to see if any would be helpful to Camilla as she studies painting, and in the process decided to look at those particular tapes again. I discovered to my chagrin that I had assumed the tape ended at the end of the first lesson, when actually there were two lessons on each tape and I had missed half the course when I studied them years ago! I have been going through those and they, too are proving valuable to me. I felt awfully silly, though, not to have realized other lessons were on the tapes. In my defense, there was some advertising in between the sessions, and I simply turned them off when the ads ended, thinking that was the end of the tape. The packaging was not too clear as well. 

I have added some new entries to the Creative Writing Page and I have added an entire new page to the Digital Art Gallery. It is my Digital Collage Page. Please go to that page if you wish to see an explanation of digital collage as well as the new paintings I have added. 

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Last revised: November 26, 2010

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