Sunday, December 27, 2009

The End to a Great Holiday

Tonight was a small celebration for my husband and I. We went to a fabulous Italian restaurant and had a mouthwatering meal to celebrate the passage of the Christmas Holiday for 2009. Christmas this year was a wonderful time for us with family and friends. We often go out for a meal the day after as a closing for holiday, and this evening was no exception.

We both chose seafood for our meal, I in a salad bed of arugula, frisée, and way too many other greens to mention. Dressed with a simple olive oil dressing, fresh mozzarella and seared scallops and shrimp it was beautiful to see and even more to eat! My husband chose a meal of breaded and pan sautéed scallops with a pasta and wonderful marinara sauce on the side.

The food was great, but the dessert was equally good in my opinion. We went home through a rather heavy snowfall to a bottle of red wine and some rich dark chocolate.

That's right a pairing of wine and and chocolate! The two together, for me is a decadent way to end a very special evening, and a very special time of the year. Do we really need to go out to celebrate? Of course not! I love creating that special meal here at home and over the years have done so many times, but the chocolate and wine - now there is a tradition that cannot change!

Happy Holidays...oh, and Buon Appetito!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Midnight.

It is Christmas morn and I, like many are wishing you the readers a special day today. I will be spending the day with family, as I already have on Christmas Eve. We watched the grandkids tear around, enjoyed a grand meal as well as shared in some great company and conversation.

There was laughter and smiles as the children opened presents and spread hugs around the room to everyone as fast as they spread wrapping paper. There was not one huge gift for anyone, but all the small treasures were gratefully received. Small things these days seems to be much more precious, I think.

Have a great day and I will be back on Monday!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Art and Necessity of Encouragement

Being an encourager is hard work.

In our society of, "Me," there is little time given for the guy or gal next to you and how you might impact their lives - and your own. It's an interesting fact that when you ask for help in finding a job you'll often get the link for the open position but absolutely no help on actually making a connection which everyone needs to actually get the job. Good or bad, everyone needs that to actually find that perfect job (Or job change) and finding someone to partner with in the search - or for that matter in many other areas of life has become a real difficulty that no one should have to deal with in that hunt for any kind of career especially in the almost no-hire atmosphere that exists today.

My experience over the years has proved to me the typical contact from friends or acquaintances when it comes to the hunt for a job usually ends up being, "step away and let the person fall on their own sword!" No one really wants to take the chance because of the distinct possibility that they'll end up looking bad or worse yet end up giving themselves that image of the pushy person who opened the door to what might turn into the office problem problem child.

There is always a risk in recommending or encouraging someone to apply for a job, but there can also be benefits. How do we teach people that the idea that no one survives as that, "rugged individual." We all need help at sometime in our lives.

We're not taught in school or college how to do that encouragement, or how to be an encourager - but some how we're suppose to just know how to be that kind of person. Most people simply do not know how much this kind of action can change people's lives. This could possibly be the best gift people could give to others in these difficult economic times.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Sing...Sing My Song!

I have been a folk music lover since the 1960s, and my favorite folk singer as well as song writer has got to be Pete Seeger. His passion for the common man and for sharing his music as a communal gift to the world is totally phenomenal. If you ever go to a Pete Seeger concert singing along is expected! I cannot think of many other artists who encourage an audience to sing along as loudly and as enthusiastically as this gentle man does, and has for many years.

I have been looking for that perfect album (I know, CD) for years that held the songs that he sang and has become a part of music history (In my humble opinion, of course!) . Those were the songs that touched me over and over again through the years and have yet to find their way into one perfect album - you know, that one definitive album you want to put on and sing along with at the top of my voice.

In my opinion music is to be sung, and in groups we can all get brave and really raise our voices, it can be almost downright liberating! The best example I have of this kind of experience happens when a large group of non-singers stands at any sporting event and sing our national anthem - together! During the singing sometimes you can catch the enthusiasm, energy and animation that many only save for singing alone in the shower. People like Pete often simply know how the gift needed to ignite that spark of music in people - he certainly does that for me!

Since many of his old albums have been reissued on compact disk recently I have begin my search for that one perfect compilation with all those song memories wrapped up on that one circular piece of silver. I have yet to find it! The one that has come the closest turned out to be a badly recorded disk and even though it held all those songs it failed to light that passion for personal I have so longed to reignite.

So now I have finally entered the 21st century through my own personal growth in the technology area. I actually now hold the key to the perfect album! I can download the songs I always wanted much like I always wanted to do way back in the sixties and seventies!! I can do this because I have an MP3 player and of course a computer!

My wonderful Shuffle will soon hold all the songs I love and I will be able to hear and more importantly - sing along whenever I choose to click that little play button.

Isn't the age of the MP3 player grand?!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Snow, Beautiful!


The first snowfall of the season hit West Michigan this third day of December and though it may not seem like much I have to remember that just days ago we were in the 50s.






From the yucca above, and our apple tree everything was covered from this icy embrace from winter. I love the trees when they look so beautiful!










My empty chair and the table coated like a cake in the frosting of our first snow - beautiful.

Snow covers everything in a beauty that's totally different from the every day.

Winter White is Here!

Winter began for us in Michigan this evening. Our first wet snowfall has blanketed the area with about an inch of snow and it is a bit slick!

Last Thanksgiving we were in the middle of some of the worst snow and cold we've had in years, but this year has been extremely warm and rainy. (Funny how years can be so different.) We actually had fifty degree days this month which has been a quite distinctive weather pattern for us here in the Mitten state. November and December are usually cold and snowy.

So what does this mean? Is it a harbinger for a warmer winter - or is it a warning of a hard winter? Lots of questions are being asked from those of us who like to be a bit prepared for the onslaught of this season. According to the local weather pundits we are suppose to get more snow than last year - but of course last year was way over the amount of snow we normally get in a season so we still could end up with a lot more snow than usual!

For those of you who don't follow my articles, winter is definitely my favorite time of the year and I love snow! Weather has been an interest of mine most of my life so I'm going to keep track of the snow related events this year as I have in years past. I will make work in the next few days of getting some pictures up of our snowfall here in the next few days to so you can enjoy our gorgeous white stuff too!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Celebrate!

The season of giving thanks has begun, and I have had the first chance to be the one who gets to say thank you for something very special - being remembered. Yes, simply for being remembered.

For me, the best gifts have always been just being surrounded by my family and celebrating all we have and that includes our personal and of course those national Holidays as well.

Today I received the gift of good wishes with love, and I am celebrating! There are two days until our Thanksgiving Day here in the States and I am beginning the Holidays out right - giving many thanks along with a few wishes for the same blessings to all who frequent my little part of the world here!

I wish everyone a blessed and meaningful day to give thanks for what we have, and for the friends and family we know both near and far.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Little Movie Called UP

If you haven't yet seen and giggled your way through the movie, "Up," yet please do so - soon!! With all that haunts us these days to laugh and hope again with one person, even an imaginary one is good! The humor and life's tension within the story was just right, and the computer generated graphics were phenomenal! But honestly, the movies have perfected all of the items mentioned here so why should you take time and go see this small movie? The one tiny thing that Pixar has done better over the past few films than almost any studio today is the reality of our daily experiences with a special finesse given to what I'm going to call feeling, or love. They seem to grow the compassionate characters of Carl Fredricksen, the 78 year beginning a new life adventure, Russell an 8 year old wilderness explorer with no experience in life but a real passion for doing what's right in the face of all kinds of adversity, and especially through the wonderful little golden retriever named Dug.

From the far fetched, to the the very real this story line doesn't lose the strong feelings of love, hope, and friendship but includes them whether it be through the figure of Mr. Fredricksen (who would be a wonderfully exciting person for a small boy to get to know), or through Dug who trusts himself and others to the love of this little old man even though he has NO reason what so ever to have any confidence that his devotion will be returned. This relational uncertainty is not only the stuff of legends, but it's where the magic of real life begins here in this precious little movie.

I won't spoil it by sharing any more of this gift from the Pixar's magicians, but I hope you'll take the time to experience and live for even a few moments this grand little film.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Simple Cup of Tea

I'm still out of it with my dread disease (see last entry), and with the sun shining in I needed a pick me up since I now also have a very sick husband.

While he is resting I got out a very special tea pot, cup and saucer and made a two-cup pot of Earl Grey tea. I sat at my table and the sun is painting the surface with streaks of white this November Sunday morning, and as it changes to the afternoon I'm adding some quiet time alone with my dogs around me.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better, but right now I'm enjoying the quiet that comes from a nothing to do Sunday and remembering how I use to crave this kind of day when the kids were small and underfoot. There is no further complaining from this tea drinking Irish lass (Ha ha!). Instead, I am enjoying the rays, my cup of tea and the company of a quiet, peaceful morn.

Slan agus benannact

(In Irish, "God bless you till we write again!")

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Held Prisoner

Confined, held captive - that is how it feels when you cannot do anything because of illness. I don't have H1N1, no I simply have a case of pneumonia, but since I have asthma they want me in with little or no contact with the outside world.

I have my son on a dangerous mission - shopping. He understands what is needed and cell phone in hand, he has promised to call if he gets lost or needs directions as to the aisle or the exact item to get.

My husband is doing yard work on an absolutely gorgeous day and I am stuck doing laundry and sitting, reading or doing some of my cross stitch Christmas presents, which need to get done - but I want to be out and about on my own!

So I'm complaining, and trying to be productive - sort of, and praying for a healing (NOW!)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Report of Fall

Michigan is on the upside of a warming trend again this week. We've been in the cold and damp for a while, but it's suppose to hit 60 degrees this weekend - woo hoo! It will give me the chance to do some tiding up on my garden which looks very rough right now. The frosts we've had has left so many of the plants dead and brown, or dying.

My sweet autumn clematis will remain until spring as a hiding place and momentary safe haven for the birds from the hawks that haunt our grouping of houses. We have quite a number from this avian family that swoop and dive 'round our feeders throughout the year.

The goldfinches are still visiting the remnants of my sun flowers and cone flowers despite the brown stalks and flower heads. Those finches seem to ride the stems in the wind and they bob and weave through the air on those slender stalks. I've had many varieties of birds at the feeders around the yard, many more than we've had in previous autumns. I've had three kinds of woodpeckers, and a bevy of sparrows!

I had a sad moment yesterday when I lifted the lid to my squirrel feeder and found a dead red squirrel all curled up inside on the hulls of the sunflower seeds. Death is not an unusual thing this time of year, but I am never prepared for it. I still have two tiny reds dipping in and out of the trees so I'm still enjoying those tiny comedians of the squirrel family.

Our flying squirrels visited off and on most of the summer but are now back in force to beef up before the cold hits. I turn off all the lights in the kitchen to be able to catch these little flyers. They're great to watch gliding to the seed or suet during the evenings.

We also have rabbits back under our shed in the back yard, which means I will have to put mothballs under there to shoo them away. There are plenty of other places of hiding places for them to escape to in the neighborhood thank goodness. My dogs go crazy chasing their smells all around the shed and dig like crazy to get at those darn cotton tail critters.

You know, there are many other wild critters that frequent our part of the world here, but as I clean and sweep the yard in preparation for the onslaught of the snows of winter these are the little wild things that I've watched passing through lately - and all are enjoyed, photoed or simply observed as they sail the skies or wander the grasses near our home.

It's finally fall, and I'm getting into the season by enjoying all the things wild here in my world.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Poetic Dream

I went to be a part of poetry reading session offered at the college I graduated from this week and fell in love with it all over again. We heard the words from many poets - Frost, Dickinson, e.e. cummings and even some newer poets as well all were read by an excellent poet in his own right who also happens to teach English and poetry at a local high school.

The tenor of the morning was soft, and quietly academic. That's something I was a bit disappointed in since this was an event I would love to have seen offered to the whole area so we could encourage people to embrace poetry as a way to express or be a release valve that could carry us well beyond our own often mundane lives.

The readings and then the discussions that followed brought out again, for me, various poets who have touched me over many years. I wrote their names near the poems to draw the words closer and wrap myself in their beauty, an emotional fire that carried me over many difficulties and through many years. Those poems that day - those words gave me thought and invigorated my life walk in ways I never thought this type of writing could again.

From the older more stylized ones that are so much a part of what most of us use to see as poetry, to the free forms words that dominate today's written poetic form there is really a true sense of love for many of us who live this language.

If you get the idea that I LOVE poetry more than just a little you are right!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Writing Game

I write. I write because I have to not because it's a real choice for me. The real interesting thing about writing is you cannot do it all the time and when I can't write, like when I'm behind the wheel of my car or when I'm curled up in bed, my mind is still working creating stories or different ways of saying a simple every day sentence. Sometimes I find that I play with the words and generate quite a few different ways of saying something.

Stories, even the true ones, are from my personal perspective on the life around me and the things I see and write about are seen from my angle. If you think about it, that's why those eye witnesses to crimes are so unreliable. The view is never objective. So when a writer gives their point of view you should always look at it as one way of viewing the incident or event.

I've deviated a bit here but that's why the public is often so entranced by books and stories because it's like getting into someone else's head and out of our own. That is also why most good writers are also prolific readers. So if Hemingway said something one way, how can I say the same thing - but make it more accessible, or more intense, or more anything that make my piece more original.

That's the challenge I set for myself each and every time I sit before a blank page. Writing is a test - one that I have to do differently each and every day to make it work.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Betweens Time

It's been raining here for what seems to be forever. Three inches in the past 24 hours, and this autumn seems to have become centered on the assault of that cooler weather along with the persistent deluges of recent days. The colors that were just beginning to peak on our wind driven leaves but now much has been washed off most of the area trees and all that is left dangling the tree branches are a few of those the plain and sometimes pale leaves of yellows and browns.

Of course the later days of October seem to often drive the colors from our West Michigan fall days, but I had been hoping for a longer and more protracted season since I love the fall so much. But it just wasn't to be.

So as we are entering that season prior to winter that seems to be a buffer zone of grays and browns where the cold winds and unlimited rain prevail. I have to say I am hoping for the beginnings of that season of no color and landscapes that haunt us with a white covering and shapes that better reflect the moon's surface rather than our own homeland, earth.

Soon. Very soon. After all, it is almost November.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Imperfection of Beginning Tai Chi

It's Wednesday. We've had lovely, warm weather for October, but we're back to the normal cold and rainy month as of tomorrow. October is full of such strange weather most years and this one is no exception.

I love the fall, but I've been inside a lot lately. A nasty common cold has haunted my days for almost half of this beautiful month.

I just started classes in Tai Chi - beginner's classes that is. (I am very uncoordinated!) The class is fabulous and we have all kinds of people in my group and I feel right at home in my Irish t-shirt and sweat pants. We're working on the basics and all look strange going in all directions (certainly different directions than our instructor!) and I'm finding out that I certainly have a lot to learn!

There are huge windows all around the room we're in with some of them peering out on the trees around the building, and some that seem to peeking in on other people's work outs in attached rooms that are filled with bicycles going absolutely no where and individual steps that populate a room filled with scantly clad women of all ages.

Our class is thankfully a very basic one in Tai Chi and is filled with many kinds of people of both genders and thus for me in my "round," condition it is quite a non-threatening place. (When you're not exactly slender it is always nice to know you're not the only one who isn't perfect in every way!)

It is a good workout, though and I love the time at the end of class where we lie on our mats and breathe deeply and are suppose to envision those lovely fall trees outside - I'm simply letting all my poor muscles ping as they unwind after an hours worth of work! I will be back on Monday next though, because I like the class - it is really fun!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Colors of Fall, and The White Noise of Winter


Fall is here - and today has not gotten above 48 degrees. The cold has descended and though it has been a bit colder than usual in the last few days I still think that this is a gorgeous fall day! The colors of the various trees around the neighborhood are filled with reds, maroons, and yellows right now. I am waiting for the flaming oranges since they herald the ending of the season.

I love the fall because this time of the year is when I find so much that I enjoy doing outdoors and feel so alive during the changes that the season often brings! From leaves, to the new beginnings that come from schools starting a new year it is a time for a new start as much as the spring time is in my opinion, and it sure can be a grand time for walks in those color-filled leaves too!

Fall is the end of the growing season here, and the beginning of what will become for many the bleakest of seasons here in the Midwest - winter. But for me it's the best time because it is the beginning of a time of slowing down and enjoying my own thoughts amid the storms and swirling snow that peppers the winter months. The quiet at the center of a stormy day can be rejuvenating, and even invigorating.

With the world around us so mired in the noise and tensions that surround our days we seldom take the time to get beyond what drives us. That ever present noise in our world - the din from our phones that we allow to fill every moment with calls, and our MP3 players and that music can truly drive us crazy. From rap and rock and roll, to everything in between there are very few moments for thinking and quiet times in our world these days.

But winter can make it often impossible to hear anything above the wind driven blizzards that rules our everyday lives here along the West Michigan shoreline. So, I find taking a deep breath or even cuddling up to the quiet with nothing but the sounds of the natural world can be the best escape from my crazy world.

So, I have a suggestion - Instead of rebelling against old man winter and going from one icy accident to another, why for once not fight the changes that winter brings, but like the animals live with it. We might even learn to revel in those changes and use them to enjoy life and not simply exist in the techno-craziness that has become our world.

Friday, September 25, 2009

A First Taste of a Wonderful Dish!


The Irish know how to celebrate!! How do I know? Well, besides the fact that I am of that ethnic persuasion, I got to see and hear it up close and personal at one of the premiere fests in this country. The Michigan Irish Music Festival (In Muskegon, Michigan) was an experience of the best kind and we spent the whole day digging deep into everything Celtic! It was a totally fabulous day and I'm so glad I got to be there with some of the very best international Irish music acts - and they were all in one place! This was the tenth anniversary of the fastest growing Irish Music Festival in the country and the music, shopping, food, and of course the Guinness was great.

My granddaughter, Becca and I were the first to arrive and we just had to walk through the market and peruse the many booths and merchandise that was available. There were clothing stalls, small corners with lots of Celtic and Irish jewelry, and even a booth with kilts, dragon daggers, and swords which was what really captivated Becca! After checking the booths out thoroughly we decided to wait to buy anything and headed over to the big tent where Bob and Bernie's Pub was found for a lunch and something to drink. Believe it or not the music in the Pub was really pretty great! It mostly consisted of Michigan and area artists and they were pretty fabulous! From the Conklin Ceili Band to Kennedy's Kitchen they were high energy and offered really toe tapping, hand clapping music the whole afternoon.

My brother showed up after lunch and we headed to two of the tents near the lake that I was really looking forward to exploring. One was the kids tent where they offered a few musicians who are considered music makers for the kids. I have to admit that I love this wonderful group of artists because of their creativity who sang many of the typically well known Irish songs. From the Unicorn to other little ditties the tent was alive with singing, laughter and children and adults all joined in to the many hand motions and laughter that accompanied all the songs. This festival is really geared for the whole family in many ways and the young people are accepted as part of the scene as well as the next generation of musicians and music lovers.

We wandered on after the songs faded from one large tent to another smaller one that had a sign out front simply stating it as the "Session Tent." Here fiddlers, guitarists, flutists, bodhrán (dh would be said like a w), and mandolin players of all ages worked with some of the Celtic music's best who were there singing and playing from almost every group who were playing the three stages of this festival. Standing behind a circle of seated musicians was a rush since you could see that next generation sharpening their skills with some of the pros and the music was even better up close and personal. The views of Muskegon Lake in the background filled with a plethora of sailboats of all sizes made for a a lovely place scene alongside the continuous music that filled the tents and seemed to permeate the whole area. Here the many children and young adults vied for the chance to play with, and learn many musical nuances from the likes of some the local musical artists or maybe from one of the well known Irish performers who came to this festival from Cape Breton to almost every part of Ireland.


By the time they were winding down in the Session's tent, we were getting hungry so we wandered back to the pub tent for dinner where some of those great Michigan Irish bands serenaded our dinners of Irish stew, and bangers, chips and Guinness (of course!). From Blackthorn, Kennedy's Kitchen, and the Conklin Celi band - to Switchback there was wonderful music to enjoy dinner by for everyone.

The two main stages were constantly filled with music all day from the typically Celtic that spilled out from the edges of each tent and onto the grounds. It drew us from one huge tent to the another all through the late afternoon and on into the early evening. With three stages of music that played with very few breaks the whole day long there was always a place to duck into, or we could sit at the various picnic tables surrounding the edges of these music tents as well for a sun filled hour or two as well.

The three bigs tents that could easily seat over 200 were named for two of the counties in Ireland. The County Cork Stage, County Kerry Stage, (and of course the pub stage!) were continuously alive with music during each day of this three day event! Beyond these and along the banks of the lake were other smaller tents focusing on cultural history, genealogical information, and one that actually exposed visitors to the various stages of an 1800s Irish styled death, funeral, and wake.

The day was fading, but the best of the music was really still ahead of us. We wandered into one of the big tents to listen to a rather strangely named band which was a real discovery for me (Much like many of the local bands I listened too!). Captain Mackey's Goatskin shared with the crowd many old Irish folk tunes and had us singing at the top of our lungs along with many of them. The Makem & Spain Brothers sang us through many more pieces as well.

Many of the best of all the 18 bands were scheduled for the evening so we moved toward the two main tents. From Old Blind Dogs, to Slide IE (One of my personal favorite!), and Solas I was in Celtic heaven! If you've ever been to a festival like this you know the cheering, foot stomping and clapping can be thunderous and a great fun part of responding to the fabulous music and energy filled performers.

The last three acts I wanted to take in were also the last of the day and the performances were not to be missed! The County Cork Stage began the evening with the band Slide IE (a younger group from the Southwestern Irish town of Bandon) I loved this group who integrated old Celtic folk favorites with a smattering of really well written modern songs. The Irish Times calls SLIDE (Ireland) "traditional musicians with attitude," and with every song they proved their musical prowess by bringing the crowd to their feet in response.

There was a short break and then the group Solas took the stage. This group of five are definitely known for their musical versatility - great song writing too! Many of members often changed instruments throughout many of the songs to change the tone of feel of the piece. These are truly multi-talented musicians!

The final act of the evening for us was one I was really waiting to hear and experience! Natalie MacMaster is known world-wide for superb fiddling and always for a great show as well. She was joined at the festival by her husband Donnell Leahy a magnificent fiddler in his own right (And a member of the great Leahy family of Ontario Canada too!). Add to the fiddling two fabulous pianists, one from Natalie's band Mac Morin, and the other Donnell's sister Erin and you have a real powerhouse of a group onstage!

Throughout the music sets these four had such energy and displayed such exceptional musical skill with a whole lot of Celtic heart that most of their numbers brought the crowd to its feet cheering and clapping. Donnell threw in an exceptional piece of classical music that was truly breathtaking and had the audience cheering.

MacMaster and Leahy seemed throughout to be challenging each other during many of the numbers going back and forth like dueling fiddles again and again. Their fiddle face-offs echoed and really accentuated the Celtic, in the jigs, reels and ballads from Cape Breton, Ontario that were a part of this two hour concert.

This was certainly a memorable day, and I'm sure I'll relive this superb festival for many years to come!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Here's some pictures of the Michigan Irish Festival in Muskegon.



- The picture to the left is
Captain Mackey's Goatskin.



A young fiddler at the lake's
edge.


Kennedy's Kitchen in the Pub tent.




Out in the common
area.



Shopping, Shopping everywhere!





The Session Tent group.











A final look at one of the best festivals in Michigan!!





Friday, September 18, 2009

Music, Music...MUSIC!!!

My excitement is building, and tonight is going to be hard to get through despite the fact that I am totally exhausted from all the walking I did today. I have my Coleman director's chair ready to sling over my shoulder - I have my camera and extra battery ready for taking tons of pictures, and I have my tickets put in the old purse so I don't forget them.

Tomorrow cannot come fast enough! A fun filled 10 hours of Celtic music, Celi dancing, shopping, good pub grub, Guinness, and music, music, MUSIC!

Understand it may take a few hours after I get back to digest, and begin to share this glorious gift, but share it I will! (It probably won't be until Sunday sometimes since we won't be back here until well after Midnight.)

Take care, and I hope you have a great Saturday!
Slán agus beannacht! (Bye and blessings on you!)

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

It's coming - An Irish Festival to Remember!

As the weekend approaches, I am getting more excited about Saturday and the Michigan Irish Festival in Muskegon. The thought of wandering around the various stages and listening to the likes of Old Blind Dogs, Switchback, Solas to Natalie MacMaster and Donnell Leahy is a really exciting thought!

I think I have my crew to go to the festival, I've asked my brother and he can bring a friend while I have asked a granddaughter who shares my love of Celtic music. From the stages to the Cultural Village with topics that relate to Irish Culture and genealogy to the Dance Stage that highlights step dancing and offers Ceili Dance instruction there will be plenty to enjoy and when we get the urge to shop there is the Irish Market. For me the day would not be finished without a wee bit of Irish food with some Guinness (or other brews) at the pub, Bob and Bernie's Pub that is!

This is certainly going to be a gift (from my special anonymous friend!) that I will savor for a very long time!

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Really Special Surprise

In case you haven't seen it yet in my writings, I LOVE Celtic music! There are quite a few Celtic music festivals throughout the summer and fall here and I've always said that I was going to go to them...but just could not justify the cost of the tickets. The best of these local fests in my opinion (because of the great groups that frequent it's stages) is in Muskegon and I have longed for years to join those who go get to enjoy the music in mid-September.

Well, today I began the day by walking with a friend, and then took off and did some errands. When I came home I stopped to get the mail, and went out back and loved our dogs in their run a bit before I went to the back door and opened it. Out flew a brochure for this great festival. I was a bit surprised since we live a full 30 miles South of Muskegon and I did not think we were really in the immediate area to get these flyer's. As I bent down and to pick-up the flyer I realized there was something inside and flopped open the first page of the brochure and there lay four tickets for the whole three days and nights of this above mentioned festival!

I quickly stood up and looked around - who might have done this? I found no name or hint of who might have done this but I have to say I am totally excited! I'm going to grab a few grandkids and my youngest son and we are going to share the days and I am sure have a great time listening to the best music in the world next weekend!!!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Music to Tap a Toe or Even a Foot To...

Labor Day, and I have been laborin'! Cleaned the house, vacuumed and so much more and the whole time I was enjoying my favorite kind of music - Celtic. There is really nothing better to work too!

Today my play list included the Elders (Out of Kansas City! Yup, they are an Irish/American group); Gaelic Storm (of Titanic fame); Natalie MacMaster; Aselin Debison (she only put out one CD as an pre-teen) from Nova Scotia, to Celtic Thunder who are an all male group that isn't really totally Irish but has some grand Phil Coulter songs in their repertoire like the rugby anthem "Ireland's Call," and, "Heartland." The other group that keeps me going is the High Kings and though they are produced by Celtic Woman's producers they are totally into old Celtic songs and they rock in my opinion!

I love to pick those up beat pieces that keep the toe tapping to put on the iPod. From the Canadian song "It's Getting Dark Again," which is simply a silly little ditty that keeps me hoppin' to "American Wake," (which has some really great lyrics) I get the jobs done in record time with my music driving me.

I admit I am a bit picky with my music, and a bit of a snob when it comes to Celtic music but it is easy to download individual songs I like for my iPod and not have to put the whole album on with some groups. Trust me though, these groups are all worth a listen if you're a fan, or a fanatic of this genre of music like I am.

Please understand, I am no music critic, only a consumer who really loves the Celtic genre of music. So what am I doing this evening? Listening to some of the ballads from those very same CDs!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Season's Gone, Almost!

Fall is creeping in with its cold fingers and I have to say that it has almost felt like it's been pushing those fingers in all summer long! We've had some really cold days this summer. In fact, if I am honest we had only a very few warm days the whole summer long. We have also had lots and lots of rain...so much so that everything has this really green look yet into fall - when we usually have brown and dried up grass and weeds by this time of this season.

I'm kind of liking the green that my sister tells me is much like Ireland's countryside, though the cold fall days that we've had scattered through this warm time of the year has been unusual. What is next as we traipse into the colorful season of fall? Who knows, but I'm looking forward to them all!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Summer's Ending

Summer is winding down into a quiet but warm ending. We did not have much of the hot, steamy weather that the last few years have offered but it still had that summer wonder only a little greener one since we had lots of rain!

This school year will begin like it did when I was a kid, after Labor Day. Because of the new law that sent the school year back to that September start time the summer is longer and those first few days of school are not quite so warm and hard to take.

My garden has taken a trip toward the end of the season as well through less flowers and some brownin, fading leaves. I am beginning the clean-up that is necessary for putting this small plot of land to bed for the the coming winter season. The changes of seasons have always fascianted me and this year is no different. Each change brings the new in with a chance for a fresh start. I'm really loooking forward to that.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

An Online Family Soap Opera


I've had an interesting, and quite emotional couple of weeks that were filled with many controversial moments, as well as some small, very thoughtful quiet ones as well. It's funny how controversy within a family can cause so much pain and such strife, but that's what happened and I'm still hanging on to the what seemed solid to not be blown away by the anger and emotions that surfaced and whirled around us all. The most interesting thing about this whole event was that it began, and ended online, and for those of us who are from the baby boom generation it seems almost wrong because that personal eye-to-eye wasn't present where we might see reactions and guage our next move through that.

I use to think that to face down someone and know just what to say was impossible for me. Face to face confrontations have always been hard because of a lack of any kind of confidence on my part. But this was confrontation that was only in the written word and yet the emotions where so high, mainly because of inner feelings that seemed to come out from between the lines like something painful that oozed out of an infected wound. What is hurtful is it didn't lance the wound and bring about healing.

I personally am ready for a new week, where cooler heads might prevail.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Cool, Cool Days of Summer

Summer is a strange batch of cool fall-like days this year. It has been constantly cool, with quite a bit of rain and of course very little beach weather these days. July was actually the coldest on record here in the mitten state!

So what does August bode with this kind of weather in July? Can we find our way back to those hot summer days (with those occasional humid days as well!)? Most would say yes, of course we can! But for those of us who are physically affected by those hot, muggy days and nights there has been a literal sigh of relief that has risen quickly to the top of the heap with these wonderfully cool days. Cooler days mean no one is on edge, but it also means less days spent at the beach near the cold waters of Lake Michigan. Who really wants to sit in the cold, damp sand wrapped in a towel and watching the water edge closer as the waves reach out? (I sure don't!)

So, is it going to be a rush to the beach with the warmth, or will it be a season that instead focuses on what we don't have - heat - as opposed to what we do have, cool comfortable temperatures that dictate what we actually can and cannot do these days. Personally the cool day is really my kind of weather and that means some of us are enjoying this strange visitation of cool, crisp summer air.

But I hope that those who remain on the beach or dock wrapped tightly in the only warmth that available, their beach towels are enjoying the only comfort in this strange and unusual summer. Hang on! I am sure we have many warm, steamy days yet ahead this summer!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Parts of a Garden Life

I've had some requests for some pictures from my garden this year, so here they are!





This is one of my three clematis' that proved to be quite a bloomer this spring. (Ville de Lyon)





This is one of my many coreopsis in the garden.







This is one of my favorites!
(Crocosmia Lucifer)






These are my Candy Tufts.










One of the many Foxglove that I really enjoy!















This is one of my all time favorites in the spring garden. It is one of my peonies. I got a plant from a friend so I'm not sure of the name.










This is only one of Asiatic Lilies.









My Dahlias are so gorgeous this year.








A few years ago I developed a wild flower garden in a
spot in our yard that would not even grow grass. It looks great from our patio.



My garden is different and always growing and evolving each year.
These are only a few vistas that I see almost every morning over my
morning cup of tea.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Exploring My Own Front Porch Experience

Our Sunday excursion was really lovely, in every sense of the word. It began with our car winding it's way up a Northern bound road to the little town of Grand Haven. That was a bad choice of towns to visit since the Coast Guard Festival begins this week and the crowds were unbelievable! So, instead of stopping we motored on through another little burg until we found the end of a lovely lake and a place to get coffee. From there it was on to a small park with some benches where we could watch an eagle that had caught my eye.

One of the standards of my front porch experiences as a child was to watch all the birds that populated our yard and the skies above it, so birds have come to mean a real escape for me from the every day craziness. Those feathered creatures that aren't tied like us to this earth soar and dive in my imagination and spring most often from the memories from my childhood. As we followed the eagle with ours I am so eager to see the paths it follows and the circles it can makes in patterns in the sky above us.

As we sit I scan the lake below for possible prey and from where we are sitting there really isn't movement that I can see. As the great bird circles higher and then lower the pattern takes in that closer view for a small rodent or bird that might be lunch today. For many, the raptors of our skies are to be ignored or even hated, after all they eat those little birds that frequent our home feeders. For me these majestic birds are as interesting as the many species that frequent my own backyard feeders.

Don't get me wrong, I love to watch all the little feathered critters that frequent my yard and am usually part of the bird count every year. But I'm also am excited when a Copper's, or Sharp shinned hawks make a pass through my yard. I can often find them resting on a branch of tree watching my feeder area very carefully.

For me all the birds are an integral part of the well rounded backyard experience. Over the years some of the wild creatures have crept back into suburban life and on the whole that's a good thing. We actually have fox and wild turkeys that frequent our yard at times as well raccoon and possum. There have even been sighting of a coyote or two in some of the area cornfields. For many this is a source of concern, but for me it is something I've always experienced because I grew up quite a distance from any city.

To me the best part of my front porch experience often is what nature has to offer. Watching all of those creatures that frequent our yard these days are a real gift and I'm glad I can see and enjoy them many times during many of our summer evenings.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Little Piece of My Heart


I wandered into my garden today. There were many weeds that have overtaken even some of the biggest and tallest of my flowering plants, so I spent the first part of the day weeding. There's something about the garden that can grab and hold your attention which in these days of economic crashes, and businesses collapsing is a true necessity.

Everyone should have an outlet or what I call a mad pile to work through their world's troubles. My own personal mad pile is my garden where I work out my world's frustrations during the summer months. It helps create a path back to the world and can make my life a more comfortable place to live in during tough times.

I'm looking forward to sharing some pictures of my little heaven here in my part of the Midwest in the next few months when we really need it!!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Mediocracy, Not Multi-Tasking

Have you noticed that there are times when you write when it makes sense only to you, and when you go back to a post you really wonder what all those words actually mean and who actually put together on that page? (After all it wasn't you...was it?) As one who writes daily there are certainly times when I write and love what I put to paper, and then I go back go back to read it even after many editings only to discover that the first paragraph or sometimes the last is totally senseless!!

Does it mean that you can't write, or that you're a bit batty maybe? No, it probably means you had a great idea that happened when you were tired, or when your mind was trying to write one thought while contemplating another.

Is that normal? Yes, unfortunately it is. When we try to multi-task too often we end up adding that, "one more thing," to our daily plate and end up with a total mess. The productivity we so wish for often ends up with very little that is good copy (As with we who write know).

I am of a mind to suggest that those of us who believe we are multi-tasking are actually simply adding too much to our lives and as a result aren't doing very well at anything. We can juggle - the brain can do that, but by focusing on the many - we lose the depth that we need to do any task well, and in the end have nothing by mediocracy, and that is scary.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Front Porch Discoveries

This afternoon we put our traveling chairs in the trunk and headed off to our weekly rendezvous with that front porch experience. After wandering around a small local village that really is a great place we decided that for a quiet view of the world it just was too busy to open our chairs and enjoy watching the world today. Luckily this lovely village has a sister just down the road. We drove off over a bridge and found among the Victorian buildings in Douglas this small coffee shop. Right beside this wonderful discovery was a small side patio in the shade of some of the more stately buildings so we sat down with our drinks. This village sits so close to the busy summer hub of Saugatuck and still holds a summer surprise - a wonderfully peaceful place to relax.

From between two buildings we could see the street and any passers-by and still enjoy a quiet cup as well as a soft breeze and a sky that was puffy with clouds. That sky was the focus of much of this afternoon as we styled back in our chairs. We sat there sipping our drinks and watching some small birds that periodically dipped down to the cement flagstones that made up the patio and then up to the trees. Thier wanderings through our porch were cause for much conversation today.

The view of the quiet street from our vantage point was one of a tiny river side communitythat looked like it had stepped right out of the past except for the constant buzz of passing cars of course. This sultry warm spot shared a gorgeous view where neighbors and tourists strolled quietly together. Our undiscovered Brigadoon seemed not to have been discovered, but many artists and galleries call the town home. It amazes me that people could miss a gem of a city center with such history and charm. But I suppose with so many places along the lakeshore it's easy to overlook some of these smaller venues.

Now for many the beach or shopping is the summer thing to do but for me a place to sit and watch the quiet beauty of small town life is just the right place to be on a Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

There's a Little Night Owl in All of Us

The night owl in me has been winning way too many nights lately. Once I get writing it seems to take over and I simply have to continue writing...and then re-read and edit, I mean how can you simply leave it there until maybe tomorrow since I know I might lose some great ideas! So most nights I write, and then rehash and rewrite whatever I am pounding out at the moment. By the time I'm done it almost always is around 2:00 a.m. and I need to finish my day! I'm usually off to the kitchen to finally create a lunch for the hubby and do a cursory final clean-up in the kitchen before I head off for the final tasks and and before I head off to the old softy in my life - the pillow on my lovely bed.

The alarm always rings way too soon and sometimes it is more a fuzzy alarm - you know, the kind that is like it's somehwere in another world. My dogs are known to stand by the bed to bother me when it does go off, or at times even jump on the bed to get my attention to remind me that it's time for that once around the yard trip which means they're done for the night.

For those of us who have spouse's who rise early and well before the rest of the working world with that 5:00 a.m. noise in our ears with a reminder that, "you know you should have been to bed so much earlier!" Through all the noise and commotion it takes but a few moments for sleep to finally claim me for those few hours of rest after the quiet in the house is resored once more.

I often get asked, "why are writers middle of the night marauders when getting articles or books done?" when so many can make it a day job and don't seem to be interrupted by those million and one phone calls for doctor's appointments, or other important disruptions that happen during a given day. There is a reason you know...many of us who write have to do so in small homes or apartments and must make do with our kitchen table scribblings, or living room computer visits to get the ideas in our heads and down on the page. Those small interruptions are miserable parts of a life of writing when there is no lovely isolated office somewhere else away from the center of busy family life.

The quiet of the night when most in a house are sleeping can be a very seductive siren's song that can magically give time for the brain to actually formulate thoughts without the constant disruptions that occur daily. For me, the writing nights do mean there is very little sleep while the muse has me - and little done the next day because of exhaustion.

But I wouldn't change my life for a desk job...maybe for a few more hours in the day, though.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Front Porch Reflections

What made a front porch special? You know, that place where many shared with each other and reached out to those on the street with stories and recipes that brought in the world around them. In my grandmother's time it was special because you spent summer evenings cooling off after hot days kibitzing with the neighbors as they walked past, or if you lived close enough, from porch to porch. You shared the day, and family events and sometimes it was simply a time for quiet reflections of the day or even the week as the moon rose high in a summertime sky.

It was a time that families sat together, something that is often not possible in this age of overworked parents and over involved kids. I'm trying to recature that feeling of letting go and enjoying the natural world around us, along with friends and family rocking over floors that held tight the imprints of many rocker foot prints that were gentley worked into the long pinewood floors of those old neighborhood porches.

So how can we put into words what such a small part of a home could create for many families and often for whole neighborhoods that comfort zone where trust was a way of life, and family often meant all who lived nearby on the street.

So what made that experience and the memories that were made of that time an anchor in many a childhood, and it gave many a framework for what became a tight knit family grouping in that period in history.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summertime and the Living is Hot!

Though there is much I love about summer the humidity that accompanies the summer heat has never been one of those things. I was out with my grandkids this morning and we could take it, but right around noon it became so opressive the weather drove us indoors to the cool comfort of our small air conditioned home.

This kind of heat use to be reserved for late July and early August and usually only lasted a few when I was young but now almost always begins in early June and can run through until school begins or even later. As a child the idea of the hot and humid summers in the deep South was something that made me thankful I didn't have to worry about since I lived in the Northern part of the Midwest.

Today, the Southern summers seem to be very much here, and now. I suppose I could always move but this is home, and though the summers sometimes are debilitating for this humidity hating soul the rest of the year gives me much to still celebrate here along the lakeshore of our great Lake Michigan.

The one great thing about summer is the beach not far from our home and my favorite thing to do is sitting and watching the sand, gulls, and rolling waves that are so peaceful. Right through the late fall this retreat of sorts becomes a form of muse on par to my lovely snow covered days for this cool loving gal. I could sit for hours and feel and almost touch the scents of this part of my world.

So right now, in this heat filled evening I am enjoying thoughts of the cool of the sand when I dig toes down to the damp cool and settle in for a quiet solitary moment or two that makes the whole summer and all that is wrapped up in all that describes the season special.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Front Porch Musing

Today our front porch traveled to a local park with trails and walkways that meandered along the edge of our Lake Mac. All along the way there were swamp willows and maples amongst the many wild flowers that dotted the area as well. I came across a gorgeous yellow wild iris in and amongst the seedlings and young plants where we finally placed our chairs to enjoy our floating front porch this Sunday.

We parked the chairs on one of the many walkways that had little porch like bump outs with benches. The benches weren't comfy enough for our front porch so our soft folding chairs filled the bill and gave us shade because we could move as the sun began to set.

It's a great place, and we both relax and began our scanning the lake and enjoying the breezes that came our way. I wanted to keep my hands busy so I brought my sketch book and began to sketch the water's edge and just enjoy the quiet that this spot had in a very busy park. It's surprising that you can find quiet places like this in even the busiest local parks. As we sat
watching the jet skis dance back and forth and a few sail boats meandering in the quiet water in our section of lake.

As I sat sketching, and my husband dozed people wandered past, some with kids who shot far beyond their parent's grasp , or young couples who are completely off in their own world. It made for an interesting people watching evening that's for sure! I think that old fashioned front porch life has often been lost in our technical age where we settle in front of the television or computer on these beautiful summer nights.

One thing that is great about these forays of ours into the local recreational areas is the conversations that come from the different settings we find ourselves in on Sunday nights. This isn't simply looking at the world from the safety of your porch, but getting out there and becoming a part of what's happening in our world.

Our personal front porch has been moving to encompass much of our county's parks and has turned into great mini get-aways where we have no phones and lots of nature. It is the best time for thinking which with all that has gone on in recent months is really a good thing.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not Becoming My Mother

I'm reading a very good little book. Sometimes those little ones hold such gold between the words and lines, and in this case it is so true! Not Becoming My Mother is book about a frustrated woman who was a wife and mother who spent much of her life unemployed because during that time in our country a woman could not work because, "women worked only if her husband could not afford to take care of her and his family."

I cannot imagine living in a time when women could not have a career and be a vital part in the business world, and though I cannot find a place to work right now myself, I know that the world is more open in this day and age than ever in our history to women in the work place.

But this small story is really a love story from a daughter to her mother because she was allowed to see the misery and angst that came from a frustrated woman who had little purpose in a life that was constantly searching for purpose. The story is definitely a message of love from a mother to her daughter - but it is also one from the daughter to her mother and every other woman of that era where depression for women ruled the course of every day.

I'm so glad I read it! Because of the real words of love and honesty found in the story, and between the lines I can highly recommend this little book to women and men everywhere. It gives a really true picture that is sometimes gritty and difficult to see, but also filled with such familial love which is beyond anything I've found in any book in recent years.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Gentle Walk

I walked with a girlfriend today. Actually we walked from our respective homes and met in the middle then walked back to my house (This time it was mine.). For various reasons I am having to walk slower than normal and so I did what many little kids do when walking - I looked down at the road and then all around and observed all that was around where I normally walk.

I found out that the yards in my neighborhood look like those in the 1960s: there has been very little lawn fertilizing being done and there are varying shades of green being mown like grass these days. I have to say there is nothing wrong with that either! (35 mile-an-hour lawns are great!) Unless someone is trying to impress the boss, spreading fetilizer can end up costing lots of money during these tight money times that could be saved toward family or household emergencies.

I also was strolling on a day just after a rain filled day and the puddles held an assortment of stones and wild things. In many of these sub division these urban water holes contain a multitude of things - like seeds sprouting. Watching the various dog walkers (and runners!) taking their fuzzy friends walking and stopping to chat made it easy to meet those neighbors I haven't seen all winter long.

My observations? I need to slow the walk (or run!) once in a while! It might give you a view of the world that I miss. It sure did for me!


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Front Porch Thoughts...

My last blog dealt with our moveable front porch that finds itself in various spots around West Michigan during the summer courtesy of our soft foldable chairs.  Those chairs give us those Sunday vacations throughout the summers.  We never had a front porch growing up, and we certainly don't here in our small house, but we have created one with our two traveling chairs!

So I will share our various porch views over the summer and hope you enjoy the view through our eyes.  

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Today

This afternoon my husband and I took our folding, soft chairs and headed to a spot that sits alongside the small lake that that is often the center of our community during the summer months. We found a spot in the sandy grass and in the midst of the maples and oaks near the water's edge and sat in those breezes of spring and listened to the birds that dipped and dove around the water's edge. There were red-wing black birds, swallows, gulls and way too many others singing and flying wonders.

We watched the boats, jet skis, and other small boats run up and down the lake too. Even the occasional sheriff's boat chasing those ner'er-do-wells down this our waterway. The smells of fires from the nearby campground, and those wisps of clouds streaking across the sky made our temporary front porch seem like heaven.

Our few hours there were filled with so much more than I can describe, but as we folded up our chairs I knew that with the crowds of summer the many weeks to come there would be no quiet evenings like this again until the fall.

I'm glad we had today.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Springtime Problems

I actually did a bit more than putter in my garden tonight!! I divided and transplanted a couple of perennials that bloom at the end of summer since they probably wouldn't bloom unless I split them any way. It sure is nice to have plants multiply!

This was another lovely day in a row of so many cool and lovely ones. Tomorrow I'll walk again with my fuzzy friend and I am really looking forward to it!!!

The birds were out again today too. Lots of grackles - yucky, greedy birds eating all the suet and seed from my feeders. I let the dogs drive them away quite a few times today. They never catch any but they keep them from coming back right away. They usually pass on after a few days if I stop putting the food out...but I hate to not give my woodpeckers and all the other birds food. They move on and then I spend weeks with nothing but sparrows! Quite a decision to make - lose bags and bags of seeds to the grackles over the summer, or lose all the birds...

Monday, June 1, 2009

Life on the Walk

If I could run...I would! So instead, I am walking with my very old fuzzy friend who always starts out fairly fast and then slows to a crawl on our return trip. Tonight it was cool enough out to wear my polar-tech. We are having a wonderfully cool spring and I am really enjoying this outside working weather! I guess I'm not a hot and humidity lovin' gal.

I want so badly to start digging in my garden since I have one corner left that needs work and it is totally covered with grass...but the doctor says not yet, and so I walk.

I saw at least 10 different kinds of birds in the trees and the singing in my opinion was the most beautiful orchestra nature could ever create. There is something about the springtime and those bird songs that say everything is really new again.

There are quite a few houses on our block that are empty which is so hard for me to see. It makes me think of all the families that are displaced and facing an uncertain future. Michigan has been hit so hard, and though my own family is right there in many ways, I really feel blessed because there are so many more who have truly lost everything.

This stroll down our street has brought me back to how thankful I am that it is spring - that time for new beginnings. I hope there really will be change and better times ahead for all of us here who are, according to our governor are at rock bottom.

Here's to hope. A hope that springs up as our world here in the Midwest hopefully will come back to new beginnings with the blossoms of spring.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

It's cool again, and the weather has that touch of early spring. (I love working in the garden without breaking a sweat!) I'm carefully getting back to some of the yard chores and loving it! The garden looks wonderful because we've had so much rain lately and everything is so green. Our summers are usually quite dry, so I am thankful for the cool, wet springs.

I have two pair of nesting wood peckers in one of the backyard trees this year. One is a red bellied and the other a downy...they are lovely to listen to calling to their fellow birds in the morning. I also have a little flying squirrel that if I can bare the mosquitoes in the early evening they are there for all to see eating the suet I put out for the birds. I easily get frustrated with the big fat squirrels around here, but these gentle gliders are a joy to watch.

With the busy street out front you wouldn't think that we could have so much wild life, but we do! From swallows to bats, from 'coons to possum we have it all! We even have three different kinds of owls and two types of raptors! (I lost a morning dove today to one - nothing left but the feather all over by the feeders!)

My very favorite bird here is our large bard owl who swoops through the yard looks for a tasty morsel many evenings during the week. I'm a late night dishwasher and get to observe these critters that fly or traverse our yard at night.

The summer brings out so many others creatures that make our yard a way station for food or water. From humming birds and occasional Great Blue Heron (Looks like a Pterodactyl when they are flying!) to that huge tom turkey that feeds upside down on our bird feeder we get to enjoy all the wild has to offer.

I've always wanted to move out and away from this busy area we live in but if we must live here, at least I have the joy of enjoying the wild things right in my own backyard!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Back - Continued!

I am doing so much better since I went to the chiropractor! (No meds today at all either!) I have to let things heal a bit, but I think I will be back to walking tomorrow. Since I have a family inherited back problems I have these nasty episodes every once in a while, but because I garden and walk I am blessed with fewer problems than others in my family.

I sat in the glider today on our patio and enjoyed the humming birds. They are truly a wonder to watch! Our yard is often filled with all sorts of birds and critters. I actually had one digging at the edge of the garden last night. Part of my asters were dug up and I believe I know why. I added some bagged compost to my own that has sea kelp and shellfish in it and it does tend to draw the night time marauders.

If the weather is good tomorrow, I will probably be back to scratching away at the garden weeds tomorrow - and I cannot wait to get my hands in the soil!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Back

Wooziness has overtaken to me. I was hit with extremely painful hip after a simple 1 mile walk. Today I ended up at the chiropractor and he did some adjusting and suggested I go back on the pain meds the doctor gave me when this crazy back problem first surfaced over eight years ago. I've been on and off them over the past seven years and had doctors, physical therapists and now chiropractors trying to discover what's going on to cause the continuous deep ache. I have to say that the chiropractor has done more to solve and eliminate my pain.

It's funny what we do to get rid of pain...we even go as far as to be loopy to get a few moments of relief. Living with pain can make a person so much more aware of those simple things that most people take for granted like taking a walk.

Hope this thing passes soon but I'm never sure as it seems to come and go of its own volition.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Blessings

We had the most beautiful weather today. It really was and I am thankful for warmer days - but not too warm of course! I planted another hanging basket and had granddaughters over for lunch too, I could not ask for a nicer day.

Like many here I am struggling for things to write. It is not that I don't believe I can do it I am a writer after all...but like every other person in this state that has the highest unemployment in the nation in this nation I have nothing here to really get excited about because there are no wring jobs out there that I can fill. Thankfully I am still here in our home and we are surviving.

So for the moment, I am taking a painfully needed hiatus and spending time in my yard and with my family. Blessings to all who enter here.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Times They are a Changin'

"Those were the days my friends we thought they'd never end..." Ah, those old songs that have words that step out of one world and into another. I'm from an age where songs often (though not always!) had meanings and wonderful words beyond simply the, "I love you," and, "he left me," choruses.

Song writers like Woodie Gutherie and even the likes of Cat Stevens had pretty meaningful lyrics that put to music made you get really involved in your minds and not only your voice as you sang to those tunes on the car radio on the way to everywhere with friends. Those drives were often on the way to the beach, or to a school dance and with the windows rolled down the freedom of the open road enticed many of us to play the music loudly, and had us singing even louder! (Is this where the boom, boom, boom of today's kids thumping car radios comes from today?)

I'm really not sure who we felt we might reach with our voices raised in song, but we sure felt the need to express the tunes and words with anyone who might listen. Peter, Paula and Mary had quite a few anthems that grabbed us then as did Bob Dylan and we really seemed to feel the words and the tunes too (Blowin' in the Wind, If I Had a Hammer). During those moments we felt we needed to get out and change our worlds or at least change our own life directions. Our times really seemed to be going crazy. That image of the young people putting flowers in the ends of National Guardsman's rifles really stuck in my personal image of those times.

Protest could also be fun as some of the songs of earlier generations haunted us with songs like Charlie on the MTA and even some of the songs of protest from even earlier times. When I look back there was so much optimism despite the war, and hope too, during that period in our nation's history. But it also held an edginess and fear that hung tight to the edges of every one's existence.

With the shape our world has taken these days I often wonder if some of those songs might find a home in new forms during these hard, and fearful times. Curious, but those pieces of music shaped many of our lives. We actually seem so bereft of those kinds of songs today.

Where are those Peace Train, or Eve of Destruction songs that made you really think about where we were really heading during those turbulent 60s? Though I'm not really a nostalgic person and seldom revisit my old records, they sometimes waft through my mind when I consider the financially hard times as well as the war we are embedded in these days. Where are those who speak for our plight these days in song? Or maybe a better question might be, how might we define this generation in a really good protest song?

Do You Save Your World?


I sat in my comfy leather chair enjoying a good read on the Hebrew language tonight after a great day in the yard filling pots with veggies and contemplating how the arms of my neighbors the trees seem to break forth from the trunks where ever there's an opening in the bark. I know, way to many strange thoughts! :-)

But looking at all the new branches today, there really does seem to be breaks in the bark to let those branches and limbs through - honestly!

I love sitting outside and contemplating the natural world after a busy day. Next to a cold winter one in the comforts of my warm, cozy living room it can be the best place for all sorts of contemplation. I think that type of thought is something the world doesn't seem to have much time for these days...to much time spent working and saving the world I think.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Today's New Financial World

For those who find themselves on the line financially because of job loss, health care costs and the economy life is getting a little tougher. Many of these people in this predicament are, or were from the middle class and are now being relegated to lower class status and this really begs the question, "Is the middle class vanishing?" For those of us who have graced this part of the of the century as middle class citizens and are facing these huge losses it is more than a little daunting.

The car companies are all trumpeting the fact that they will be coming back leaner and better - but they will be back! But in the wake of this mess the one thing that seems to be lost is that the over 40s worker who will re-train but who will not fit the young and energetic image that many employers are searching for in this new economy will be the biggest casualty.

Most young people will find a way around these economic woes, but the face of the new poor will probably be the children of World War II who have helped build what we know as the middle class today. The jobs that will be available for these workers is shocking. Jobs like greeters and cashiers or some of the other retail positions are and will be available, but if a person is a skilled worker, or a college educated one there is nothing now to utilize the skills that have been honed over a decade or more. From machinists to middle managers and business people there are few jobs, and fewer actual openings.

So how do we as a country work to create the jobs, careers and hope for those mired in this newly made situation? One outlet might be the industries that President Obama is hoping to create in our more energy efficient future. The expertise from engineers down to the tradesman in these new businesses could lead to answers as to how these workers might be put back to work. But the main idea many of those hiring have to get past is the idea that an older worker is not as viable possibility as any other looking for work. After all we are fast becoming a nation of older workers courtesy of the baby boom generation and we need all our worker to actually get through this mess.

Convincing those who hire might not be an easy step, but it is a necessary one in order to get these talented people back into the workforce. In order to get our nation back on track it is also truly a necessity.