What is “Almanac No. 1”?

May is coming to a close and I’m taking a moment to pause and reflect on this project. (May’s Almanac theme is “prize” so it seems like a good time to reflect.)

Betony and I had the idea last year. What if we made an Almanac? It would be this antiquated and slightly old-fashioned approach to fields of life and love (instead of agriculture). And we could do paintings and songs that were companions to each other. And we could involve our friends who are amazing artists and writers and thinkers each month with the different almanac themes…

So it happened in 3 parts: an ALBUM, an ART-SERIES, and a MONTHLY PUBLICATION (subscription & online) and we called it Almanac No. 1.

More than an art project, we’ve been hoping this endeavor would be a culture making venture… A bit presumptuous of us I know… But what if helped provide provision & navigation for those fields of life ahead, asking “what IS the good life exactly”? That felt like art worth doing.

Now we’re half a year into the project. We’ve gotten wonderful response to the album and art-series. And Betony and I look forward to each month- preparing recipes and playlists and adventures that go into the month’s theme.

Is it a culture making venture yet? Are we inspiring others and ourselves to live adventurous lives that tell great and noble stories?

I can’t tell yet. But here’s to half-way in and to another 6 months to come… May we be navigating these fields together.

Peace,

Tim
Giants & Pilgrims

 

Giants & Pilgrims “Almanac No. 1” ACOUSTIC is Featured on FRONT PAGE of NoiseTrade!

We’re very excited that NoiseTrade has chosen the acoustic album of “Almanac No. 1” (the guitar and voice tracks) for their NEW AND NOTABLEs feature. We’ll also be the front page all week and highlighted in their email.

We’re honored. Please download a copy for FREE now!

http://noisetrade.com/giantsandpilgrims/almanac-no-1-acoustic

Also, “Almanac No. 1” the full album is available now on itunes! Check it out. And if you already own it leave a review!

Thanks and much love,

Tim Coons

Giants & Pilgrims

Almanac No. 1 ACOUSTIC Album Now FREE on NoiseTrade

We’re offering our album Almanac No. 1, the ACOUSTIC version, as a FREE download at NoiseTrade this month!

This acoustic album is just the guitar and vocals off the actual record, featuring the voice of Tim Coons and his songwriting in a stripped-down, raw fashion.

Please enjoy the FREE gift and spread the word of Giants & Pilgrims!

http://noisetrade.com/giantsandpilgrims/almanac-no-1-acoustic

May Almanac feature on Health: 7-Minute Workout

Honestly, I begin to feel very down about life when I don’t work out; almost depressed. There’s something about sweating and getting my heart pumping that boosts my endorphins, self-esteem, even my spiritual inclinations in life.

For this May Almanac, with it’s theme of “Prize”, we include a short work out. We hope when you hit the finish line you feel you’ve received something excellent for yourself.

 

7 MINUTE WORK-OUT
(12 high intensity exercises, 30 second per exercise, 10 seconds rest in-between)

 

Jumping jacks
Wall sits
Push-ups
Crunches
Step-ups on a chair
Squats
Tricep dips on a chair
Planks
High Knees in place
Lunges
Push-ups and rotations
Side planks

 

May Almanac Featured Artist: Kathryn Buncik

Kathryn Buncik stayed in our home for a whole summer a few years ago. She interned at Atlas Church where I worked and for the Coons’ (learning what it means to be an artist in the family context). After those few months she stayed with us we knew Kathryn would always be family, making such a strong connection both Betony and I and our girls.

She graduates from her college in Tennessee this month with an art degree and Betony and I are so proud of her! We wanted to feature her senior art show “Hide and Seek” here with an interview and some pictures. Enjoy Kathryn’s heart, her thirst for wonder, and her lifting art!

The title of the collection (made for your senior show) is “Hide and
Seek”. What brought you to that title? 

The title was actually suggested to me by Betony. And the more I thought about it, the more I liked
it. A lot of my work is made through my reflections of both childhood and adulthood. I think a lot
about my transition from being a child, innocent and curious, to being an adult who knows about a
lot of hard things happening in my life and in the world, yet still wanting to hold on to that curiosity. I
really like the play on words that “Hide and Seek” allows. Taking it in the context of childhood, it’s a
diverting and careless game. But taking it in the context of adulthood and looking at the individual
words of “hiding” and “seeking”, there’s a little bit of peril and fear that plays in to it. So in the
series, I show (mostly) children in the acts of hiding and seeking, yet they are doing so in
mountains and outer space and other vast open areas that, in reality, would be quite dangerous.
But even still, there is no sense of danger when one looks at the pieces. While it can be a hard and
dangerous journey sometimes, I’m enjoying it and find so much beauty in it. And I wanted to make
that much more prevalent than the hardship.

The elements you use for collage feel paired-­down and it seems like I could 
name each quickly:­ cosmos, nostalgic people figures (mainly children), animals, 
searching or play featured… What else am I missing? How did you come to these 
guiding subjects? Why are you drawn to them? 

Definitely. Some I relate to personally. Some I’m attracted to visually. I could talk about each
element and tell you why I used it but I’ll spare you of that.

Where do you find your collage items and why have you chosen to work in this 
series with collage alone? 

I usually find my materials from old books and magazines. I find them in a lot of different
places…old book stores, thrift stores, antique shops, yard sales. Friends have even started giving
me books they think I can use for collage, which I love! For this series I decided to work only with
collage and only with original found materials. They were all handmade (not digital) and I didn’t
scan, resize, or reproduce any of the images. I did that mostly for the challenge. And I love the
history and age that comes with original materials as well.

What are you dreaming of when it comes to future art projects? 

Hmm. More collage for sure. I’ve always enjoyed making art independently, but I think I’d be
interested in some collaboration projects in the future. I don’t know exactly what I imagine that to
look like, but I’m definitely open to the idea of it.

What are the top things you’ve learned in college, since you are now graduating, 
when it comes to your art?

Best art advice I’ve ever been given: “Make what breathes life into you.”
A sweet British man named Nigel Goodwin visited my school a few times over the last few years,
and one of those times I got to sit with him and talk about art for about an hour. I was discouraged
about feeling so drained by various art projects I was working on at the time. After listening to me
for a bit, he told me that at any given time, I should make whatever will breathe life into me. And as
soon as he said that, I completely understood what he meant. I had felt that before. From then on,
I’ve made a point to work on projects that I know I’ll enjoy, whatever medium feels right at the time.
And that has only made me love art making more and more.

Could you give your feelings/stories for 3 specific pieces from your senior show? 

buncik 1

1. This one is probably my favorite of the series. I grew up with 7 siblings and loved every bit of it. It
definitely reminds me of being with them. I also love the matching pajamas so much. The rip in the
side is also something I really love the look of, and I wish I had implied that more throughout the
series. But this was one of the last ones I made so that was more of a timing thing.

buncik 2

2. One thing I’ve been seeing a lot in my work lately is pairs. Two boys or two girls, usually. And
my favorite is when they’re in matching clothes. I’m extremely close with my younger sister (we’re
the youngest of the eight), and I think I just really love the sense of camaraderie and partnership I
get when I use pairs. It’s like they’re in it together, whatever their adventure might be.

buncik 3

3. This is another of my favorites. I just feel so happy every time I look at it. The boy is way too
sweet. And the gentleness of the butterfly makes his experience of being found so joyful. I really
love that idea.

————————————————

Many thanks to Kathryn for sharing her amazing work here!! See the rest of her show at the link below:

www.kathrynbuncik.com

 

May Recipe: Strawberry Shortcake

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I didn’t like strawberry shortcake growing up. Then I met my wife. 

You see, I had a preconceived notion of the dessert in my mind: it was made with strawberries, dry- pre-packaged- store-bought angel-food cake, and cool whip thrown over it all. That was the way I’d had it prepared by relatives and pot-lucks over the years.

Then my wife cast a new vision for me, repainting the glory of what could be… nay, what strawberry shortcake was MEANT to be.

When she made it, it was homemade shortcake, hand-spun whipped cream, sugared strawberries. 

THIS is strawberry shortcake. How it was really meant to be enjoyed. I love how the truth of something can be revealed by experiencing the real thing. There’s a larger story in there somewhere…

Enjoy the real thing here. And make this great recipe for May.

-Tim

HOMEMADE STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE 

6  C. sliced strawberries
1/2 C. sugar, divided
2 C. all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 C. unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
2/3 C. milk

Homemade Whipped Cream 

1 C. whipping cream
1 Tbs. sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir together berries and 1/4 C. of the sugar; set aside. Stir together remaining sugar, flour, and baking powder. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs (can be done in the food processor). Combine eggs and milk; add all at once to dry ingredients. Stir just to moisten. Don’t over mix! Spread into a greased 8 inch round baking pan, building up the edges slightly. Bake in a 450 degree oven for

15-18 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Split into 2 layers. Spoon the fruit and whipped cream between the layers and over the top. Serve immediately.

For whipped cream, beat cold cream, sugar, and vanilla until soft peaks form.
Note: for a yummy variation, add some thinly sliced mint or basil to the sliced strawberries and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.
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The Difficulties of Faith and the Song “Run, Run”

Here is the story behind the song “Run, Run” from Giants & Pilgrims album Almanac No. 1:

I was at a retreat in the mountains a couple years ago. The folks leading it said you have three hours on your own in this wilderness for quiet and alone time. We want you to connect with God.

I had been in a difficult place for a while with faith and I was excited for this get away.

Here’s what had been going on: Most people say that when their children are born they finally understand the heart of God and how much God loves them.

I actually had a very different reaction.

With the immense joy of having my daughter I realized just how much I did not want to die; to leave her and my family. It made me, for the first time in my life, face my own mortality and intensely question heaven and the idea of an afterlife. This retreat was going to help me find a deeper faith and greater hope in God for my future. I had this great experience with love in the birth of Lucy, it was time to increase belief and understanding. I had been praying about it often; that God would ease my wrestling in these questions.

As far as faith goes, I can speak to my experiences. I’ve seen evidence of God bringing new life in people’s past – the way that people feel absolutely forgiven of their regrets and guilt. And in my experience I’ve seen evidence of God’s work in the present – people motivated by supernatural purpose, doing amazing things of love and impact for the sake of God’s Kingdom.

But as far as the future? So far no one has footage on what happens after death. I’m suspect of books like “Heaven in Real”, so all this remains a mystery for me.

Here I was in the mountains for three hours with the same questions I’d been wrestling with for a couple years or so.

I think what I was really longing for in that wilderness was contact. To hear from God or see God. Perhaps to have something happen that I could make meaning and purpose of and attribute that to God. Then I could have greater faith in something happening when we die. It would  become less faith and more assurance, really.

While wading in a creek surrounded by mountains I did not hear or see God. But I did have, in a sense, an epiphany. And this will be a let down for any of you reading this hoping for something big and profound. Here’s what I came into.

A still, small voice within me said, “Hey.

“You will never see or hear God, truly, in this life-time. At least not with direct contact. Rarely do people ever see angels or get direct messages from God. In fact, unless a donkey talks to you or you are a 15 year old virgin in first century Israel, your story will not be given to you so directly.

“But there will always be something just underneath. Something within or below all your senses, deep within your DNA that says God is real. You won’t be able to shake that sense that God is with you and for you and a part of your life. This is a different, more difficult kind of seeing and hearing. It won’t necessarily bolster your faith, but it will never leave you.”

That epiphany felt a little disappointing. And it’s probably one that others reading this have come into earlier in their Christianity (I’ve always been a slow learner).

But it  felt true.

It stayed with me and eventually I wrote a song heavily influenced by this moment called “Run, Run”. My favorite lyric from it goes like this:

You won’t see God, you won’t see God
But you’ll swear He’s in the morning when the sun comes up
Your God won’t talk, your God won’t talk
But He’ll sing within your blood and he just won’t stop

And so I acknowledge this. That faith is a different kind of seeing and listening for me- difficult to get words and senses around. And that with that, wrestling over “life after death” will continue to be a struggle for me.

But in that faith and struggle, I long to run the good race set before me. In all the great questions of past, present, and definitely future, I hope to

Run to the edge, unbroken

as the chorus of “Run, Run” admits.

I hope to keep living this good life given wholly to love, joy, hope, faith, family, good-works… this life following Christ and his pattern of sacrificing yourself so others might live. And at the end I hope to leap off that edge in full gait, unknowing of what happens next, embracing that great mystery of the beyond, unafraid, unbroken,

and faith-full.

Here are the full lyrics of “Run, Run”. You can listen to the song HERE.

RUN, RUN
Giants & Pilgrims

You can’t go home, you can’t go home
But you can find another shelter you can call your own
You can’t push time, you can’t push time
But you can ride out every wave like an alibi

Your past won’t leave, your past won’t leave
It’ll stay with them like it stays with me
You won’t break free, you won’t break free
Death is gonna get you like he’s gonna get me

Run, run
Just run
Run to the edge unbroken

You won’t see God, you won’t see God
But you’ll swear He’s in the morning when the sun comes up
Your God won’t talk, your God won’t talk
But He’ll sing within your blood and He just won’t stop

Run, run
Just run
Run to the edge unbroken

 

May Playlist: “School’s Out Forever!”

During this time of year I still go to songs that shout out
lyrics like “School’s out forever!” It reminds me of the blessing of those educational years and makes me thankful I’m not sitting in class anymore. Here’s a playlist celebrating everything heading to summer.

 
SCHOOL’S OUT

School’s Out • Alice Cooper
Another Brick in the Wall • Pink Floyd
Good Riddance • Green Day
In the End • Linkin Park
Pomp & Circumstance • USAF Heritage of American Band
Graduation • Vitamin C
Everybody’s Free to Wear Sunscreen • Baz Luhrmann
Friday • Rebecca Black
Be Chrool to Your Scuel • Twisted Sister
Bitter Sweet Symphony • The Verve
We Are the Champions • Queen
Summertime  • Bon Jovi
Summertime  • DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Freebird  • Leonard Skynard
Are You Ready for the Summer?  • Meatballs Movie Soundtrack
Compass  • Lady Antebellum
We Go Together  • Grease Soundtrack
Shut Up and Let Me Go  • The Ting Tings

“Mount Jericho” Poem by Joel McKerrow

MOUNT JERICHO

by Joel McKerrow, spoken word poet from Australia

joelmckerrow.com

I have been running recently,
everyday, head first around this mountain near our home.
Only its not a mountain,
it’s a giant’s belly rotund and laid down to rest.
Only its not a giant either,
it is a rubbish tip, was a rubbish tip, once.
I run twice the two mile round trip
on the track around the edge of that old rubbish dump.
A mountain of the waste of humanity piled high
and eaten now
by a sleeping giant.
I run around and around, the giant heaving beside me,
his belly always on my left, always rumbling,
I have learnt more from this pile of rubbish than any other in my life.
When the rubbish dump was closed the council covered it in soil,
let green grass grow till it covered the decomposition occurring underneath.
The animals come to feed here.
Everyday that I run this track I am reminded,
of my own mountain of waste and decomposition, the one that lies underneath.
I am reminded that on top of it all grows green grass, a fertile soil.
Rich because of the decomposition, not in spite of it.
Life comes out of the death of so much, the animals come to feed here.
How much on these runs would I love to find a finish line,
how much a reward, a prize for my efforts, something more
than just the normality of life that waits to greet me.
Yet, everyday, toward the end of my run I climb the the path as it curls upward around the mountain until I am standing atop its heights.
I know, though there is no finish line, but this is prize enough,
this is fortune, this is reward, this is the reason, this is an ending and a beginning, this

is all that matters…to stand atop that which once was the waste of my life.

The race has been run, today it was a cold race and a lonely one too. It is Easter weekend and a fitting time to realize that death is only ever a lonely beginning, that waste is too a rebirth, that rubbish dumps are places of resurrection.
I stand atop my conquered giant, hold his head in my hands, I dance there, on the mountain, I know who I am and the reason that I run, this is enough,
until I turn the corner, run back down the hill and run around again and again.

The other day
I managed to run five times around her,
ten miles straight.
I called her my Jericho
and she let her walls
come
tumbling
down

(Background picture from artist Wes Bruce- thecuriouslife.us)