Category Archives: Personal

Rowe Archives Project

The Backstory:

In April 1975 I attended my first LRY* conference, the NERO* Spring Conference, which was held at Rowe Camp in the little town of Rowe, MA in the Berkshires of north western Massachusetts. I remember it was a lot of fun, and while I don’t recall the actual workshop, I do remember that I attended a workshop led by Rev. Douglas Wilson, who was then the Executive Director of Rowe Camp and Conference Center. And I remember well that a couple months later I got a call at my home in West Hartford, CT from Doug, inviting me to come be a counselor at Rowe Junior High Camp that summer. I happily said yes, and those three weeks in July of 1975 (between my freshman and sophomore years in high school) were a wonderful experience and the beginning of my long association with and love of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, sometimes affectionately referred to as “Rowe Cramp and Confusion Center,” which I believe was courtesy of Douglas’ clever and snarky sense of humor.

I worked at Rowe each summer from 1975 through 1982, and served as Counselor, Senior High Spirit, Assistant Director and Director of either Junior High Camp or Senior High Camp. And I have stayed connected to Rowe Center (they simplified the name from RC&CC to Rowe Center a few years ago) ever since, as well as close personal friends with Doug and his wonderful wife (and Co-ED of Rowe for many years) Prue Berry. (Doug let the Board know in 2010 or so that they would be retiring as EDs on 12/12/2012, a date he chose because that was the end of the Mayan calendar. In lieu of any real pension plan or salaries sufficient to have accrued much a nest egg for retirement, Doug & Prue asked the Board to help finance the construction of a home for them, on a parcel they purchased in the town of Rowe just a few miles from Rowe Center, and they now live there, having retired in 2012 as planned.)

The Birth of the Archives Project

Rowe Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and therefore has a board of 7–11 members and meets every other month. The September meeting each year is known as the “Annual Meeting” and all members are invited to attend. (Make almost any donation [annually] to Rowe and you are considered to be a member in good standing, though they do suggest levels of membership.) The weekend of the Annual Meeting is also the annual “Friends of Rowe Gathering,” in lieu of a weekend conference with a guest presenter. Well of course, like everything else across the US and around the world last year, Rowe Conference Center shut down and went all-virtual last spring; summer camp sessions were cancelled and replaced with virtual camp sessions, and this of course continued through the fall, winter and spring of 2020–2021. (Great news: The board decided at their April 2021 meeting that the Covid-19 situation has improved enough that summer camps will again be held in person at Rowe Camp! (They have a thorough Covid plan and Covid FAQ in place.)

Like so many groups and organizations, there are several Facebook groups of various “generations” of Rowe campers and staff; I am a member of the private Facebook group “’70s Rowies and Friends” and as the annual meeting was approaching last fall, there was discussion about the meeting and the weekend (a few people could spend the weekend at Rowe if they wanted), and discussion of having a ’70s Rowies reunion on Zoom following the meeting. Since I have a Zoom Pro account, I offered to create the Zoom event, and so on Saturday September 12, 2020, around 40 of us gathered online and had a couple hours of really fun reminiscing, catching up on what we’re doing, etc. (Around 20 or so met online again the next day.)

It was during the Saturday Zoom Reunion that several people were lamenting the fact that there are hundreds of old photos and documents, some going back to the 1920s, there at Rowe, but they are not being properly cared for, preserved or protected. Being the techie that I am, I said “It should all be scanned and digitized,” to which my dear friend Anna Hurwitz (fellow camper/staff from the ’70s and now an MLIS professional archivist in Seattle area) said, “You should go to Rowe and do that, Ted; you can be their ‘Archivist in Residence,’ just like they have occasional artists in residence.” Hence this idea was born! I spoke with Rowe Center ED Ben Werner a couple days later, and he loved the idea; he immediately started talking about where Jody and I could live for the summer, how we could eat with campers/staff at the Rec Hall or not, and more.

In the intervening months since last September, I have been in touch with Ben at Rowe, and Anna Hurwitz in Seattle; I read most of the book she recommended, Developing and Maintaining Practical Archives (Gregory S. Hunter, 2003; the 2nd edition was way cheaper on Amazon than the newer 3rd edition, so I decided that’d be good enough); and Anna gave me some great advice about how to approach this huge project, both at the “mile high” level of overall planning, organization and execution, and down to some of the nitty gritty details… As I write this on July 10, I am 10 days from flying SFO (San Francisco) → ALB (Albany, NY); I’ll spend a few days with sister Beth (who lives between Albany and Schenectady) then be at Rowe Camp by 7/24 or 7/25.

This is an initial post to provide background and how this exciting project came to be. I will do my very best to post several updates over the coming months. Stay tuned!


* About LRY and NERO

LRY was the high school-aged youth group of the Unitarian Universalist Association for many years; LRY formed in 1953 (as explained in this article from 2003), when the separate Unitarian and Universalist youth groups merged — 8 years before the two denominations themselves merged! (I’ll have to do more research to learn when it was reconfigured and renamed; there’s not much at their current website about LRY.) Officially, LRY stood for Liberal Religious Youth, but of course we also called it “Lesbian Refugees from Yugoslavia,” “Little Red Yo-Yos,” “Leftover Roast Yams,” “Luscious Raspberry Yogurt,” but the most accurate was “Lots of Rowdy Youngsters.”

Many UU Churches had LRY “locals” and LRY had statewide and regional organizations as well. During my 4+ years as an active LRY member (1975–1979, when I left CT and New England for undergrad studies at UCSC), I attended many weekend LRY conferences; most of them were organized by a local at a UU Church or fellowship, and dozens–scores of UU youth would descend on the church/fellowship on Friday evening and spend the weekend sleeping on the floor in sleeping bags, hanging out, attending workshops, and enjoying ourselves as marginally chaperoned teenagers…

NERO was the NorthEast Regional Organization of LRY, and the spring 1975 conference that I attended at Rowe Camp was one of two annual NERO conferences.

(After graduating high school in June 1977, I moved to Boston in August or September, shared an apartment with 2 LRY friends, and in addition to flipping burgers and smoking pot, I was the volunteer NERO regional coordinator, or director; I don’t recall my title. As such, I helped organize the fall 1977 and spring 1978 conferences, and I recall I sent out a few newsletters as well.)

Sometime after LRY was reconfigured/rebranded (I think because its reputation for lots of sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll — at UU churches!), the HS-aged youth group for a while was named YRUU: Young Religious UUs, and a great question to ask: Why are you you? I don’t know how many iterations there have been in the intervening decades, but the current iteration is YUUP: Young UU Project.

Long Time No Blog…

Wow, my last post was August 2020, and before that it was June 2018… A lot has happened in my life (and the world) since then! As I write this now in July 2021, we in the US are slowly climbing out of the pandemic, and I’m getting ready to fly east to spend the summer at Rowe Camp in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts — about which I will blog more soon and throughout the summer.

Fall 2016 Chorale Concert

Kevin performed in the Fall Chorale Concert at Cabrillo College; he’s top right on the risers, lookin’ good, sounding good!

(Mozart wrote this at age 12, Choral Direct Cheryl Anderson told us. Does that means words and music, I wonder?)

(Apologies: this recording was interrupted by my phone ringing, and continues in next video below. Darn — forgot to go into airplane mode!)

Kevin Sings Opera

And tonight, just 1 week after the Spring Chorale concert, Kevin’s Lyric Diction class recital was tonight, and Kevin sand two solo pieces — in Italian!

  • “Togliete mi la vita ancor,” from Il Pompeo by Alessandro Scarlatti
  • “Chi’o mai vi possa,” from Siroe by Georg Friedrich Handel

Cabrillo Chorale Spring Concert

Another great evening of vocal music, with Kevin among the Choral group. Here are the 16 pieces they performed:

(List of all singers at bottom of page)

“Father William”
Music by Irving Fine, lyrics by Lewis Carroll
Three Madrigals
Music by Emma Lou Diemer, lyrics by William Shakespeare
The Coolin
Music by Samuel Barber,lyrics by James Stephens
Homeward Bound
Men’s Chorus of Cabrillo Chorale
By Carl Strommen
Brothers, Sing On!
Music by Edvard Grieg, lyrics by Herbert Dalmas
Alto Rhapsody
By Johaness Brahms
Men’s Chorus with soloist Dana Simms
Joshua Fit the Battle
Women’s Chorus
By Jill Gallina
Wayfaring Stranger
Arranged by Larry Schackley

Shine on Me
Arranged by Rollo A. Dilworth

Fields of Gold
By G. M. Sumner, arranged by Roger Emerson

When You Believe
By Stephen Swartz, arranged by Audrey Snyder

Der Hirt auf dem Felsen
By Franz Schubert
Soloist: Jennette Moretti, Clarinet: Saki Hidaka, Piano: Maryna Thomas

By George Fenton
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)

Sparrows Jig
By Bruce Sled
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)

By Christina Perri and Martin Johnson
Il Dolce Suono (IDS, the student-led choral group)

Der Herr denket an uns
Music by Johann Sebastian Bach, libretto from Psalm 115
Violins: Eri Ishgaki, Shannon Delaney, Rachel Mangus-Hartman
Viola: John Wineglass
Cello: Kristin Garbef
Piano: Elizabeth Bunch
Timpani Drums: NAME

Cabrillo College Chorale, Spring 2016:

Sharon Bailey
Kerri Hughes
Dakota Hult
Michelle Miracle
Jeannette Moretti
Dana Simms
Terry Waters
Jasmine Montgomery

Caitlin Buse
Thyra Butler
Julia Dennis
Diane Marvin
Naomi McNeill
Caitlyn Turley
Alyssa Watson
Ellen Reay

Milton Abbott
Landon Norton
Ulises Patino
Graham Swann

Kevin Altenberg
Jeremiah Bokulich
Paul Bokulich
Jason Erece
Christopher Monroe
Joshua Porter
Bob Bailey
Cristian Rincon


Il Dolce Suono

Another lovely choral concert last night, this time the student-led Il Dolce Suono (the sweet sound), tonight at Cabrillo’s Samper Recital Hall. Here are 4 songs from the 14 they sang:

(Silly me, I totally forgot about videoing before hand, and forgot to charge my phone; thus only four songs. I’ll post more if I hear from another fellow who was there recording.)


New compost bins…

Twenty five years ago, within the first year we lived here on Clay St., I built a 3-bin compost bin set-up, but I took a short cut and just made it with 2×2 lumber and no concrete, rather than something more durable. They lasted all these years pretty well, actually, but it’s high time we rebuilt them, so at last I am.

Here are a few pics of the process (and I’ll add more as the project progresses): 2-digging-out-old-compostsite-clearing1)  Here I’ve removed the old rickety rotten frame, which was 2×2 wood and wire fencing sides. Now I need to remove all the old compost, to clear the site.


2)  I learned about sifting soil & compost at the UCSC Farm & Garden project. I built this soil sifter a couple decades ago, I believe; amazing how well it’s held up. It’s a lot of work to shovel the dirt onto the sifter, then shake it and rub it through the sifter into the wheelbarrow, but it makes for wonderful soil/compost to add to your garden beds. (See a plan of how I built it. The picture below, with Kevin, shows a portion of the soil sifter, and you can see the hardware cloth, the 2×2 wire fencing, and the 1×2 wood around the frame.)4-making-progress3)  After several hours of shoveling and sifting compost and soil, the site is nearly cleared and ready. Temporary compost pile in foreground, waiting for new bins.


4)  With Kevin’s help, the site is now cleared and ready.6-new-bins-plan5) Here are the markings for the (6) 4×4 PT posts that will frame the 2 new compost bins. Each bin will be 4′ x 4′ x 4′, which is the recommended minimum dimensions; less than that and the compost won’t “cook” enough (i.e. bacteria and other decomposers won’t be as efficient).


power-auger-bitThe power auger bit.

6) I rented a 1-person power auger, which made quick work of the (6) 2′ deep holes.

posts-in7) Posts in. They’re 4x4x6′ PT (pressure treated) posts, sunk 2′ in to stand 4′ tall. The power auger made a small enough hole that a 60# bag of concrete filled 2 holes, so only 3 bags for all 6 posts.

fencing-on-posts8) Fencing stapled to posts. I added an extra layer of fencing this time: 1/2″ hardware cloth, which will reduce compost and debris falling out, and it lasts a long time since it’s galvanized. I stapled the hardware cloth to the posts using a staple gun and 1/2″ staples, then attached the heavy duty 2x3x48″ wire fencing using big galvi staples that you hammer in. I reused the old 2×3 fencing, which is showing its age but will do fine; great to keep the old material going.

You can also see the 2x10x4′ PT boards I screwed onto the front posts; they create the “lips” that hold in place the 1×10 (or whatever) boards that I place in the front, building up the front wall as the pile grows taller. Here are some fencing details, a few of which also show the 2×10 boards in the front:

fencing-detail5 fencing-detail4 fencing-detail3 fencing-detail2 fencing-detail19) Now to start filling the new bins with a fresh compost pile:

sticks-on-bottomFirst step is a layer of sticks on the bottom, which helps aerate the pile a bit.

greenwaste-then-dirtOn top of the sticks, a layer of greenwaste, and on top of that, some dirt.

dirt=inoculationThe dirt helps to “inoculate” the compost pile with soil bacteria.

Music for the Feast of Christmas

Once again, Kevin was among the chorus members of a great show, this time “Music for the Feast of Christmas,” one of the most popular annual shows, presented by the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus, under the direction of Cheryl Anderson.

And once again, my videos are of mediocre quality, but they’re something… The chorus surrounded the audience for the first couple of pieces, and we happened to be sitting right where Kevin was standing, so the first video is focused right on him. For the whole chorus shots, Kevin is near the top row on the left (stage right).

Hanachpachap Cussicuinin, Paco Marmol & Manolo Casaus; and My Song in the Night, Paul Christiansen (1914–1997)

Nun danket alle Gott, Johann Pachelbel (1653–1706), text by Martin Rinkart (1586–1649)

Virga Jesse Floruit, Anton Bruckner (1824–1896)

Watchman, Tell Us of the Night, Alan Hovhaness (1911–2000), text by John Bowring (1792–1872)

Psalm 150, Heinrich Schütz (1585–1672)

Blow Ye the Trumpet, Kirke Mechem (b. 1925)

Ave Maria, Jacob Arcadelt (1507–1568)

Bound for Jubilee, Joyce Elaine Eilers (1941–2009)

A Pescar Camaron, Paul Caldwell & Sean Ivory

Guantanamera, José Fernandez, arr. Gene Glickman, text by José Martí (1853–1895)

Son Mercedes, Leo Brouer (b. 1939)

Juramento, Miguel Matamoros (1894–1971), arr Electo Silva (b. 1928)

El Guayaboso, Guido López-Gavilán (b. 1944), text by Guaguancó