Friday, December 17, 2010

My kind of Christmas Music

Okay, I know I'm more than a bit abnormal, but I don't like hearing Christmas music (You know the kind!) playing in my ears for over 60 days this time of year!  I was okay with it after Thanksgiving through Christmas but this is ridiculous!  Don't get me wrong, I love the season, but I hate what we as a culture have done to it, though.

More than a few years ago I thought I, who love classical music could surely find classical Christmas music that was different in every way.  I was totally frustrated from the start.  I searched but was frustrated at every turn. That night my husband and I went to a local restaurant for dinner after Christmas shopping.  I'd gotten much of what I'd wanted to find for the kids, but we'd also searched for some Christmas music for me and found nothing.  I felt defeated and miserable, miserable that is because I was hearing the constant rewind of typical December music.

Well, this little restaurant was a real in-expensive haunt of ours and as we sat there first ordering then eating I was drawn into the music that was certainly not the typical Christmas elevator music that was playing everywhere, in fact it was beautiful!  On our way out I asked the manager on duty what it was, but he didn't know since they were all on a tape that contained lots of different pieces of music.  I kept calling over the next few days and asking if there was anyone I could ask about the music!  Finally he said that he'd ask the general manager about it, but he was not promising me he'd call me only that he's see if he could get the information and I might ask for it the next time I was in the restaurant.

Well, I was more than a bit persistent and finally the general manager did call me back personally.  He explained that the music came to him and he wasn't even sure who it was on the tapes, but he did give me a breadcrumb...there was a name on the cardboard that was on the box it had come in two weeks before.  Music for chain restaurants in those days were bought in bulk and half the time they weren't even sure what they were getting when they put them in the sound system each night.

The name he gave me was the key to the best music I've ever had for Christmas and I will never forget this musical discovery. The name on the box was Nonesuch, the actual title of a group that had also produced an album called A Nonesuch Christmas from the Baroque, Renaissance, and Middle Ages.  I found the music at the record store (Yup, in vinyl) and found it to be even better than I imagined.  That of course wasn't the end to my searching since the tape actually had many songs and instrumental pieces from that period by such composers as Bach and one who've I've learned to really appreciate, Michael Praetorius (late 1500s to the 1600s.)

My search turned up at least five other albums after that first discovery that I literally wore out every Christmas for years afterward.  It was actually something musically I looked forward to every year as my own personal sounds of Christmas.  Since then I've searched to replace those albums, but I haven't been unable to find the record in CD format no matter how much I've searched(Available in vinyl at over $100, though!).  It contained the most beautiful music created by harpsichords, lutes, voices, and so many other ancient instruments of the 1500s.  I have to say that I really miss those Christmas albums, but I do love the memories of that music and the memories of the music that still plays over and over in my memories during the Christmas Season.

It's funny how something so simple as a piece of music can truly come to define a season, or better yet describe a life during a period musically, but it certainly did for me.  And you need to know I'm not giving up - I'm still searching!  Out there I will find the music again, but until I do there are the memories of so many of those musical pieces will just have to carry me through.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

For All You Michigan Trivia Nuts!

For those of you (You too, Robert!) who have heard that the state of Michigan has been called the "Mitten State," here's an image, and book that shows how the UP is also a mittened hand (The Upper Peninsula, that why they call those who live there Yoopers!).  We learned this as kids in school way back in the 60s, and it's ended up as kind of identity thing here.

This book was written by Award-winning wildlife artist Michael Glenn Monroe and was published by Sleeping Bear Press in 1999.  It's really a great book for kids!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Holidays Begin

It's almost Thanksgiving, (literally!) and it's the beginning of the buying frenzy for Christmas.  I am one who enjoys the less commercial part of this time of year and probably disappoint those who receive gifts from me because I buy books and knit or crochet something special as an added gift.  I expect nothing in return, because I honestly need for nothing.

I like the Holidays to simply be a time of reflection, and of course a time to be with family.  No fancy dinners here.  We're having a picnic type of meal for Thanksgiving this year.  We will dine on turkey buns, potato salad, chips, and splurged a bit on the dessert by baking pumpkin pies (with store bought crusts as I did not want to go crazy creating anything).

In past years I spent so much time making the typical Thanksgiving or Christmas dinners only to realize that the spent together was the most important part of the Holidays for us.  It wasn't the meals that were the center of the memories for the day but rather the conversations and laughter that permeated the day's festivities.  When I realized that fact I pared down the days events and foods to the bare minimum.  The important things are still included.  The turkey and pies are there, and once in a while someone brings a green bean casserole too.

What is truly meaningful about Thanksgiving and Christmas is being with those we love and sharing a meal.  The snow is suppose to start tomorrow here too bringing with it the first signs of the winter.  It will start us all wondering aloud as to what the weather will be like and how much snow we'll get during this winter here in Michigan.  And of course there will be the ever present Lion's football game on Thanksgiving.  (Which of course is usually lost to whatever team they play.)

We share the day and remember those who aren't with us anymore sometimes, and remember how much we miss them.  The memories are tossed about and digested almost as much as the food we share.  We always learn something new and sometimes a funny story about one of the relatives too.  Family is about that.  We all like the simple way to celebrate.  It is after all about the memories we make during the Holidays that makes them the special events we anticipate all year long.  That's always what we remember anyways...not the fancy sweet potato soufflé, or the present that was, "so special," that one year.  It is truly the smiles, laughter, and love we share that makes the Holidays special, and it's always been that way.   

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Saturday, mid-November 2010

Conversations are good.  I certainly missed my written ones when my computer was causing trouble for so long.

I really enjoyed the weather here and staying at home and out of the rain this Saturday!  I got some sewing and mending done as well as that ever present laundry.  We had lovely 60 degree weather all week and now we are heading into winter.  I've been following a storm that's dropping snow all over Minnesota, Wisconsin and other deserving states.  I think it is heading our way by the end of the week from what the weather predictors have said.  Ah, is November.

Today we had a slow steady rain, and with it came a wind that gently tumbled most of the remaining leaves off many of the trees around here.  I still have a a tree that has way too many leaves on it and after cleaning up a pile of the fallen ones yesterday my poor husband felt almost defeated by the growing piles that have taken their place on our lawn and by the back door.  The dogs remained indoors since their run has only one dog house and they crowd in it in the rainy weather...not much room for either of them especially now since we piled in the straw-filled burlap sacks just a few days ago in preparation for the winter months.

I have to share how much I'm enjoying playing with my new techie toys these days.  I also love the calendar on my Touch since it has an alarm on it to remind me of important events.  That's for the terribly forgetful person in our household - ah, that would be me!  I hope this new handheld will keep me on track since my Palm was dying and I kept losing power after only 4 hours.  (When you do that you lose ALL the info, and that can be a yucky experience!)

Life continues to be good for us here in West Michigan. I  enjoyed two of the grandkids all day yesterday.  One granddaughter shopped with me during the day which made for a fun time, and my oldest was here for 5 hours from the afternoon and on into the evening.  We got to plan for our coming trip in the Spring of 2011.  I'll share more about that in future posts, we're certainly excited about!  :-)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

It Has Begun!

My old computer is gone, and I have a loaner with none of my stuff on it (of course!) at the moment.  Things happened a little late (Since my computer didn't come in when it was suppose to.)and a little faster than expected since my old computer finally went belly up yesterday.  (Here's hoping they can rescue all my information from the old beast!)

I won't be back until everything has been transfered and my Mac Mini installed.  Hopefully that will be done by the weekend!  See you all when it's done!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Essay: Give Them Hope 11.1.10

Listened to this on the way home it really makes perfect sense to me here in Michigan! We've had a lot of negatives...and really little hope from this campaign would be fabulous.

Essay: Give Them Hope 11.1.10

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A New Computer on the Horizon!

This coming Monday I will probably be ordering a new computer through a friend of my son's who is a Mac technician.  Yup, after putting in as much money as it would have cost to get a Mac, I'm actually breaking down and getting one.  Since the young man who's helping me is giving me every break he can, I hopefully will have a new  Mac Mini by the end of next week.

Keep us in your prayers that all plays out okay.  I am really pumped about possibly getting a really decent computer after years of dealing with the ones we've had.  Besides...I am a Mac person!  I had one as my first computer and I LOVE them!  I only settled for a PC because of the cost issue. But when we looked at how much we'd wasted getting the PCs fixed it came out to MORE than what a Mac is worth!  (My husband's words!)

I am ready for a change, and a return to the best computer for what I do - writing and creating newsletters.  I cannot wait!!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Green Grapes of Fall

I adore ripe green grapes, seedless ones of course.  These sweet, crisp wonders are something I wait for all year long.  "What?" you may ask, "aren't they out the whole year in the produce section of my local grocery store??"  Well the answer of course is yes, but they are only the sweetest and the best in the fall of the year here in Michigan and that is when I totally over dose on these sensational, green, crunchy globes.

I usually need to sip something whilst enjoying these luscious grapes, and have over the years experimented with many liquid concoctions - not all of them elixirs of the gods!  I tried Koolaide at about ten years old - it left much to be desired.  As I got older I would share those grapes with many forms of liquid refreshment, but none quite hit the spot.  I even tried some French bubbly which was grand, but the sparkling drink did tend to overpower the taste of the grapes.

Finally, I tried something that made my poor husband think I was totally crazy!  I found that a good, light German beer turned out to be fabulous with my favorite fruit!  First, you have to know that I am very European in my tastes and love good ales, stouts and beers warm.  Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before - I am totally crazy, and, "What is wrong with your taste buds girl!"

Well, it is a choice, and my combo at the moment.  I really think that the crisp flavors of each really compliment each other...that is my opinion, of course!

And as they say, there's no accounting for personal taste.   ;-)

Sunday, September 26, 2010

8 Hours of Heart Pounding Celtic Heaven

Three of my favorite Celtic/American group all contained in one festival - now that is what I call   heaven!  This year's Michigan Irish Music Festival was great and the temperatures were cool enough to enjoy simply strolling between venues, and taking in the food and the market as well.

Like in years past the young and old alike mixed and mingled in all of the concerts and also in the food and market tents which held goodies to savor and so much to buy. 

My granddaughter and I kept going back to the market tent where everything from shirts, kilts, jewelry, Shillelaghs, as well as the ever present unusual and strange items which lurked under the merchants signs.  Though the huge market tent was filled  with almost everything you might imagine from CDs, tin whistles and one of my favorite items this year Irish Wackie Woolies.  (All kinds of products sport these colorful (Irish) "sheep with an attitude.")

The main attractions were of course the many concerts that featured some of the best Celtic groups from all over.   This year Gaelic Storm was the biggest draw.  If you saw Titanic, you saw and heard this talented band who provided the music and was also the band playing the tune "John Ryan's Polka" for the Irish party in third class.  Unlike the ship, the group has sailed off into quite a sunny career in the Celtic/American music scene.  Most of their first albums were reflective of many of the Celtic groups on the scene these days, but their newest album has much more of a rock and roll feel, and so did the performance we enjoyed in their Saturday evening show.   The music certainly did not disappoint with more white hairs in that "mosh pit" up front than I have every seen.  The group seems to be reaching all ages, and really enjoys sharing their love of all Celtic music with the audience.

My personal music favorites were three groups that have graced the stages of this Irish Fest before.  Blackthorn who uses both tight harmony and grand tales between the songs which made for a very enjoyable 2 hours.

Leahy (pictured here), an eight sibling band from Canada had no trouble holding all captive with their explosive musical ability.  I really enjoyed the true Celtic soul in their music.  Donnell (husband of Natalie MacMaster who also is a master fiddler.), the oldest of the siblings plays a mean fiddle, but he is not the only talent in this group as each of the family members are really musically gifted as well.  From drums, keyboard, piano, fiddle, to guitar they bring their brand to the Celtic music and keep  singing through their phenomenal playing.  This was a really enjoyable concert that was way too short in my opinion. 

Brent Hoad, one super fiddler, is just one of the talented crew that makes up The Elders.  This Kansas City based group with lead singer Ian Byrne sang us through so many of their well known and riotous songs as well as one of their signature ballads, Men of Erin which was done with a tight harmony in acapella.  This group based in the Celtic tradition blends stories in song with an almost rock based musical excitement that is truly impressive.  As I shared my thoughts on the group with a fellow concert goer we both agreed, "this group is totally jigs and reels based Irish music - on steroids!" 

Always one of my favorite parts of this festival, the Session Tent was a way station for many of us who between concerts wanted to enjoy the best of musicians there, and some of the up and coming young instrumentalists as well.  This is simply one of the best events of the whole festival because it offers young musicians a chance to experience playing with professionals from every walk of the Celtic music world.

  As we looked back on the day with the songs, food, shopping, as well as all the pure joy that this kind of festival brings we were glad we came.  We were thankful to those who shared their music; to all those who listened, stomped and clapped in time; and of course to all who served with such gracious abandon.  This is what makes a festival like this a real gift every year to the whole community here in West Michigan.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

People - Less Frustration

So many changes are happening - almost daily, and sometimes every moment these days.  Many blame it on the computer and it's demand on our time, but I think we all like the anonymous way we can sometimes link with others online.  Many of us pay bills online - there are no more face to face with the people at the phone company!  We don't even write checks, we do it at the bank site or our creditor's sites.   Speaking of phone sites, who still has land lines these days with all the cell phones out there?

We've become disengaged in so many ways...but is it really because of the computer and all the technology?  For me the choice to be a techie and people person in much of my life is as balanced as I can make it.

Because of all the disengagement in my own world these days, I really try to be more involved with the people around me and do something that is almost unheard of here - I talk to people in line at the supermarket.  We all know that  we wait in all sorts of lines these days at places like Walmart.  While waiting you have a choice of how you spend that time in line - you can stand and day dream, get hot under the collar, or you can do what I choose to do.  I spend that wasted time getting to know those who are held captive with me.  It keeps me happy, and can often diffuse a tension-filled line at the check-out.

So what do you do?  Are you a friend-maker in line?  How do you handle that hurry-up-and-wait time?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Special Find

I enjoy used book sales, and our library has one every year in the bowels of the building that seems to be overflowing with tables that only really attempt to contain the mountains of books they have to sell.  This year I went from room to room, and table to table enjoying the feel, the smell, and of course the many titles that were there for perusing and buying.  To me, a book is alive with the thoughts and friends that people the flat worlds on its pages and I enjoy the discoveries I make at events like this one.

There were three books I picked up while getting to know some of the toms that leaned together on those tables to make a part of my very small collection (I haven't much room, so I have to truly love a book to make it part of my family.).  One of the books was a small gem that I know I'll be quoting from for a long time.

Leo Buscaglia was a college professor who was loved by his students, and also by the many viewers who got to share in his lectures that were taped and shown on PBS stations around the country during their pledge drives over the years.  Known as Dr. Hug, he spread a message of by stepping out of yourself and really getting involved with people you come in contact with, as well as with life itself.

He touched my own life through those lectures.  I use to watch them in the middle of the night during pledge drives from my local PBS station.  Often repeated over the years, those lectures were absorbed and loved by many who saw his message as totally opposite of what we're hearing from leaders now so many years later.  Today, we are told that this group is evil, or that group is out to get us.  Maybe so...but how does that kind of fear help us, or change anything?  Reaching out from your heart is the ONLY way to change lives and often times that can cost you everything, but it also can change everything.

Leo caught me unaware in the depths of a nasty part of my life and changed the way I look at the world, and live in it.  I can honestly say that it changed the way I look at the people around me every single day.  When I began to read this tiny book called Papa, My Father, I was once again drawn in by how the man lived his life, what he said, and how he used examples from his own family to tell a story about what is really important in life.  I laughed and giggled in parts, and did more than just feel like crying in others.  He often would cut his own life open so you could see everything.  It was the way he shared what gifts he had to give to the world.

I finished the book yesterday and the last few lines in one of the last chapters have become my own life's mantra.  Words on a page are nothing until you somehow chew on them a while, and digest and find that warm glow of life from them for your own life.

A Code For Life
by Dr. Leo Buscaglia
Dance, sing and laugh a lot.
All things are related.
Don't waste time trying to reason with pain, suffering, life, and death.
An animated person animates the world.
Find a quiet place for yourself.
Don't ever betray yourself.
Birth and death are part of a cycle.  Neither begins or ends with you.
Stay close to your God.
It's crucial to love.
Idealism is strength, not a weakness.
People are good if you give them a chance to be.
Discrimination, for any reason, is wrong.
Self-respect is essential for life.
Except in the eyes of God, people are not created equal, so we are 
       all responsible for those who can't help themselves.
Cruelty is a sign of weakness.
Commitment and caring are the basic ingredients of love.
Love is indestructible and therefore the most powerful human force.
Change is inevitable.
People who think they know it all can be dangerous.

I know my motto is a bit long, but I think it really says it all.

Thanks for the reminder, Leo.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Vicious Attacks Happening Right in Your Own Backyard

Is anyone else fed up with the vicious attacks that are occurring these days?  You know those attacks flying to and fro between the Republican or Democrat running for office in your area?  To differentiate themselves they are really getting nasty these days.  That's not totally true...but this year there is little respect for each other and besides the normal rantings and ravings there has been a bit of smear campaign going on here - even AFTER the election.

I do so detest all things political.  There is little truth in any political ad, and they never tell you how they're going to fill the job requirements for whatever office they are aspiring to attain.  I really want to ask each of them to give me their actual qualifications and why they would have the qualities necessary to fill the job.

I believe that the pack of them are simply enjoying running us into the ground simply to satisfy a need to dominate their world, and ours.  We  really need a few real people with real jobs to get into those offices and remind them that those normal, wealthy representatives and senators haven't a clue what life is like down here among we average citizens...that my friends is a very sad fact to face just after any kind of election.

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Tonight I roamed a hot, muggy, darkness.
Filled with moments of
hushed and muggy sounds.

A screech owl's voice echoes softly,
as do the grinding sounds of neighborhood crickets
and the reverberating hum of a lone cicada.
all seem to still the flow of moments
that ease us toward
the real world of sunny daybreak.

3:00 AM.
this the world longs for,
Here in my wood clad suburban nest of quiet.

For these few hours
there are seconds...even moments of a silent world
that enfold and can free any mind.

The earlies
with their lyrical, avian voices
in chorus with a coming sun,
(almost newly born)
can hold such promise -
quiet can be found
long before the sun dares shadow
a scorching, droopy eye.

Soft, and silent, this space affords a joy
not found within harsh, or painful confines
of any world news.
No buzzing,
not even flickers of feathered wing
traversing this space on daily flights
to far reaches of down-feather's skyways.

the owl and bat,
can command all above,
and all that lives along the edges here.
even the hush from a single star
reaches the street with a wand
of silence, spreading such wonder.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Award Fun!

Patricia Stoltey on her blog ( was kind enough to pass on the Versatile Blogger award to me this week. Thanks so much Patricia, I really appreciate the award! I have to admit that this was quite a pleasant surprise for me!

This award comes with rules:

1. Thank those who loved my work (and me) enough to bestow this gift.
2. Share seven things about myself.
3. Bestow this honor on 15 newly discovered or followed bloggers-in no
    particular order-who are fantastic in some way.

I try to follow the rules so here goes:

1.  I am a mother of three grown sons with four grandchildren (3 granddaughters, one grandson).
2.  I was an English teacher for a time, and wrote for a small local newspaper as a columnist for two years.
3.  I adore Italian cooking, and love exploring other cuisines as well.
4.  I went back to college at 38 and graduated at 42 with a degree in English with all of my three kids in middle school and elementary school.
5.  I am an animal lover and am drawn to any creatures that I find out walking their owners!  (I have 2 dogs of my own right now - my 10 year old Foxy and her dog, Mac -  It's a long story.)
6.  I love medieval mysteries!  I've read all the books in the Cadfael series, the Owen Archer series, and way too many others.
7.  I am exploring the possibility of taking a trip next year to Ireland which is where many of my ancestors came from at least four generations ago.  I'm extremely excited about the possibility of going!

Now I need to pass on the coveted award to 15 newly discovered, or followed bloggers who are fantastic in a really special way.

1.  Marty Rubin at Aphorism Of The Day
2.  ChrisJ at At My Soiree
3.  Susan Bearman at Two Kinds of People
4.  Elizabeth Munroz at Elizabeth Munroz Official Blog
5.  heirloomgardener at heirloom gardener
6.  Linda J. Gross at  Linda's Photo Journal
7.  Iowa Gardening Woman at My Iowa Garden
8.  Meam at Shining History :Medieval Islamic Civilization
9.  Bax at The Celtic Music Fan
10.  Ken at Expat From Hell
11.  Plants at  Plants and more
12.  Stephen Tremp at Breakthrough Blogs
13.  Robert V. Sobczak at  The South Florida Watershed Journal
14.  Dorothy Stahlnecker at
15.  Doreen McGettigan at They say everyone has a story..this is mine..

Now I have to contact all these wonderful bloggers by Monday and let them know!  Please take a few moments and check out Patricia Stoltey's blog, as well as these special bloggers that I've discovered over the past few years.  They all have a variety of blogging gifts that I bet you'll find interesting!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Oh, Bother...

After what seems to be an eternity I have a connection for my keyboard - again.  You see I only have had a keyboard with a very black screen and no computer.  It's a long story.  Simply put I lost my old friend in a lightening strike on Memorial Day.

I bought a new(er) tower for a few days thanks to my son and a local computer store, that is until it's old owner came back to haunt my screen with boxes filled with "didn't save," and "lost files."  So the black tower was taken from me and returned from whence it came - for repairs, erasure and other corrective surgeries.

Today it returned strangely different, and yet somehow the same.

I'm relearning some things, and finding my way through the Alice like world that is like my old computer - but isn't as well.  I only have a Swiss cheese folder for my files these days.  The computer seems to be taking forever to find each rabbit hole that holds what files are there...I've lost so many since the accident.

Maybe a blank slate is better than nothing, but I certainly miss my old blather.  Hopefully, I will return to the real me soon, but until then I shall play with the words and pop in and out with my own elegant and colorful Cheshire Cat online.

Cheshire Cat: You may have noticed that I'm not all there myself.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

One Thing After Another...

First, we lost our computer to a lightening strike on May 31st, and now the new(er) computer we bought to replace it has had major problems!  I have not been online in so long.  I picked it up today after over four days in the shop for repairs.

Definitely an UGH! moment or two over this new computer!

After days of writing on a legal pad I will try to type it all in and am hoping to get something new up here in the next week or two so thanks for everyone's patience!

(Thought you might like a pic from my garden this year!)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Days with the Circus

This is a picture of my grandmother, Winona Fowler.  She's dressed for her day as a part of her father's 3 ringed circus, and yes, that is a whip in her hand.  She and her family traveled with a group of buckskin clad American Indians, all types animals, and many performers including aerialists.  From alligators to the big cats there really was a true menagerie of creeping crawling wildlife.

Over the years my grandmother told her many stories of her life as, "Baby Nona," which because I was so young were gone quickly along with so much of my childhood memories.  Thankfully I have some stories as do each of my cousins and we have begun to share those to put together.  Through the retelling of our stories and the pictures of her, her family and the circus that have surfaced since she died we are getting a wonderful picture of her early life.

My own memories of being touched by that long ago circus can be told through those velvety soft buckskin outfits that were in her upstairs closet when we were little.  A cousin and I would spend long hours imaging a circus life as we touched first and then wore those native American outfits in that attic closet.  We even got to wear them sometimes for Halloween which was a real treat as well as one of the most exciting thing for each of us.  When we wore the buckskins we could almost reach out though the time warp and touch a life we could only imagine.

We never realized the gifts she gave us as children at the time.  Those little tidbits of a her circus life were like fairy stories compared to our 1960s lives in suburbia.

Today I truly cherish the glimpses of those almost still life images from her very real past.  I wish there were enough stories to build a book with, but I have to admit that even though they are scant in number they hold a large part of my imaginary life as a child.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Summer - Fade In, Fade Out

We've had a few cold, non-humid days and after weeks of heat and rather extreme humidity.   You never know from day to day what' coming, unless you religiously follow the weather and even then it can surprise you.  It's funny how the weather is starting to mimic that of the places in the South that I've visited.

When I was growing up, the weather here in the summer was cooler, and most definitely less humid!  Don't misunderstand me, it had it's hot humid days and weeks sometimes of intense heat but they were few and we could revel in the high 70s and low 80 degree weather for much of the summer according to the Old Farmer's Almanac as well as my own memory. 

This spring and these first few days of June have certainly outdone most of those summers I remember in temperatures and humidity.  The amazing thing is that we've had both the cold, dry days, interspersed with those extremely hot and humid ones both within the same weeks.  

Many love the hot and sticky weather, but I find I operate better on those cooler days and tend to hide out in the air conditioning during the really hot and sticky days.  For me, the cooler temps offer a freedom from the sweat and chaffing that drives my days during these kind of summers.  That search for cooler temps has fostered my night owl habits, which continues to drive my existence even today.

So I patiently await the cooler temps.  I do love the flowers and gardens of summer, but not what makes them prosper.  I tend more to hover around the air conditioning during extremely humid days for comfort, and I pray for those first fall days. 

I know I'm strange but hey, it takes all types to make a world!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Celeration of Life, and Music

My mother-in-law was the last of my husband and my parents alive.  She died on May 30th at 90 years old.  Today we celebrated her life in the music of her grandchildren.  She was a piano teacher for 30 years, and played that and the harpsichord for years.  It was a real celebration of her and the legacy of music that has permeated the family for more years than I cam count.

She tried to teach me piano when I was in my late 30s, but it didn't take with me.  Though I can sing, the piano was way too confusing!  But on rainy afternoons when I visited we use to sit at the piano and while she played I would sing along with almost every song that had words. She knew I loved the old gospel songs, and the Big Band music from the 30s and 40s and her memorized repertoire of songs was huge!

I grew to really appreciate her gift over the years and though only the girls of the family had the gift for music, we all got to experience in the generation of the grandchildren the gifts of music that were passed on.  Today there is a concert level pianist, who teaches music as well; a violinist who is really phenomenal; and another granddaughter who teaches piano and has a voice like an angel.  Actually all 21 of her grandchildren love music, and many play piano or guitar simply for their own enjoyment, as do two of her daughters as well.

There are 15 great-grandchildren of varying ages who were exposed to her love of music, and two more on the way by the end of the summer.  We really all are anticipating her cherished gift of music will continue and sprout from these children's music loving homes in the coming years as well.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Thank You

Our computer got fried when lightening struck our cable, phone and internet provider's connector to our house.  We lost the computer, and were without phone service except for one lone cheap cell phone.  And it's funny...because I should be frustrated or very angry over what happened with my computer and all the gadgets that are connected or get "fed" off that hard drive, but I'm not.  I am angry about having to put out over $300 to get a new computer and back online as well as back to all that I do with my computer, but I'm certainly not at people that were involved.

Let me explain.  The young man at the computer store also went above and beyond to help me find a very good used computer. But this whole mess killed all the capabilities to Hot Sync my Palm and I had to call Tech Support this afternoon.  I was on the phone for over 2 hours, and it did cost me $40 to get it fixed because it was out of warranty but the gentleman I spoke with was so patient.  The call was of course handled offshore so we had to work at understanding each others English.  He actually gave more time and energy than he needed to to help my simple old Palm, and in the end he totally solved the problem.  His kindness and willingness to talk me through what I needed to do was really great.  

 I'm learning that nasty things continue to happen - and our family seems lately to be more prone than some to have almost everything go wrong, when it can...but in all the muck there are gifts like this kind of service that make it if not worthwhile at least very bearable.

I have a thought.  What makes all the messes of life worth living through is the people, the new friends who cross our paths to lift us up during those difficult times.

Thank you to David Anderson at Palm Support (No that isn't his real name I'm sure.).  He was a gift to me this day. A gift of laughter and expertise beyond anything I have every experienced before.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

New Computer...

Well, I will be a bit behind for a while because the day before yesterday our internet, phone and TV provider's link here at home got struck by lightening and my old computer got totally fried.  I had three posts that I was working on but hadn't downloaded yet and they're gone, as are more than half of my pictures because I hadn't yet saved them to my external harddrive yet.  My external harddrive survived with much of my stuff thank goodness!

The really good news is I have a new (used) computer that has five times the space that the old one and it's about five years newer than the old one too...but I am having to down load all by bookmarks from the hard copy, and all that is needed for me to operate as well.  So I will be spending the next few days re-entering what I have in hard copy and downloading what I can from disk that I have. 

I am thankful to be back and will be writing again really soon!

Monday, May 31, 2010


Usually spring makes a quiet entrance here,
Unlike the month of March
Which marches through like a lion...
or a lamb.

April creeps in with the rains
And brings an explosion of colors
That leans toward the sun.

May brings pale green crape paper-like leaves
that unfold at the end of branches as they
Reach for the sun.

I love the newness of the season.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Time Out

Taking a break...thanks everyone.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Good Night

Quiet is here, finally. It's 3:20 am and all I hear is the hum of the computer fan. All here are asleep but me, and the dark around the edge of the lone light in my office shining over my computer envelopes me like my quilt with a warmth that is finally calling to me. It's time to be off to the quiet of my bed.

At first when I wrote years ago I was a second shifter, but when I really began to do my columns well over three years ago I began to pull all nighters. It's funny how the uninterrupted silence that comes when all the world is asleep makes for the best writing and editing times. No phone calls, no people at the door, not even those constant questions from the kitchen...there is only the soft, thought provoking silence. I'm truly, finally tired.

Night all.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Poetic License

Usually spring makes such a quiet entrance here in West Michigan. Unlike the month of March which can come rather like a roaring lion, spring creeps softly on the April rains and suddenly bursts forth with first the snowdrops and then the tulips and daffodils before the trees drop the leaf casings and those small pale green leaves unfold like many crepe paper wonders hand made and dropped to those tiny tips on branches throughout the trees in front of my home.

I love this season so much. Today I got to play with dirt and seeds as I readied the cold frame to hold those seeds in our cold April days and to keep them warm as they begin to grow. Three trays of herbs, and flowers began today, and as I closed the windowed lid I hoped I would get three trays of living plants for my gardens.

I hope you can get out where ever your feet roam near home and find some signs of this season of new birth and the greening of all that grows.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who Am I?

Right now,
I am no author.

Right now,
I am a writer
of actions!
of anger!
of events...

Yet I write
only for

I am

is enough.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Today's weather took me back to the week we moved in over 30 years ago...and not in a good way! We had severe weather roar through and got 2 inches of marble sized hail thrown at us by really ugly skies. Add to that over 2 inches of sheeting rain at the same time and we had a real mess here in Western Michigan!
The rain and hail came down so HARD!

This was at the very beginning and we only had a bit...

It was a lot that peppered the our home. My poor dogs went crazy. Mac yelped and headed under the bed and Foxy threw up again and again as the white marbles hammered us.

When it was safe to go out, I got this picture. I guess I should be thankful - at least this time it came down straight instead of being blown into our windows which happened the last time in 1975 when we lost 10 windows to the hail!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Good Medicine for Hard Times

Surviving in a world where multitasking can drive anyone to distraction in this fast moving society is not always an easy task. Everyone seems to have a way of dealing with it, but for many the strains of a song can make the world seem an easier place to deal with and make any day a little better. In fact music has become the drug of choice for many of us these days.

Music has been proven to sooth the beast in many of people over the centuries, and today it has become a must between the craziness and intense pressures that seem to populate our personal worlds.  But, it can also drive our passions, and certain kinds of music are really great for getting physical work done fast!

There are so many kinds of music out there and all of us have favorite types of tunes that make our everyday lives survivable or even make them exciting. For me, as many of you know Celtic music is a main driving force, but it certainly is not the only music I love. When it comes to what I love on the music scene today, I am more than a little bit eclectic. The music that captures my attention ranges from some of those oldies from the 60s (I am after all a baby boomer!); any and all types of Celtic from all over the world; 30s and 40s big band and swing; and of course all kinds of classical music.

So does the music we love really define us in anyway? Well, we know scientifically that music does affect our brains in so many ways and for those who are living with Alzheimer's disease music is often what stays with people longer than words or language.

It amazes me that when the people who have the disease don't have the memories of names or even relationships and seem so lost in their not knowing. But when a well known piece of music from their past is played they seem to come alive and often can sing it through to the end of the song. It also often changes their whole demeanor because it is still some how is a vital part of life that they can respond to though so much of life is gone for them.

Why is music so important to the very places in our lives that makes it such an integral part of our emotions? When 80 to 90% of the people when asked say that if they've had a bad day they turn to music you know it is the emotional strength that we often totally rely on. If we examine the phenomenon of the iPod it is hard not to see the importance of the lyrics and tunes in our lives.

The most interesting research over the past few years has come from those who deal with all kinds of diseases and infirmities. From music therapy to a simple need to escape from the world to the images and sounds that music can create, our connection to music, the tunes, the rhythms, and lyrics have been proven over and over again to be some of the strongest connections in our personal histories. John A Logan, a U.S. senator from our country's past said it best, "Music's the medicine of the mind." It is a medicine we can all use more of these days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

T'is the Season!

The season of green has come again. No, not springtime! It's that season of the Irish better known as St. Patrick's Day! if I am honest today it is also crocus day since my first crocus is blooming, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

This is what I saw a week ago next to our home - the first greens of the daffodils. There's not much here, but just those tips conveyed such hope!

Today we had such long and waving daffodil leaves! The smallest wind set them to dancing.

And then, I walked the yard and found this tiny fragile flower - but it certainly was not the only one in the garden!

This deep purple wonder
caught my eye a moment later.

I have to admit, it is St. Patrick's Day and the sun is shining, but it also seems that spring has chosen the day to make her appearance in her fancy garb!

Happy Springtime everyone!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Week of St. Patrick

It is early on a Sunday morning (V-E-R-Y early!) and this is the beginning of the week of St Patrick's Day. I celebrate this above all holidays because of my Irish heritage, and of course an inclination toward all things green!

A blessing to you, and may your life be lively and free and may next year bring you, and a pint of Guinness in hand, back to this place to raise that glass to the best that's yet to come in life!

Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The First Signs of Spring

Our first rain of spring hit rather suddenly today - and quite heavily at least in the beginning. I was sitting at the computer and it really caught me off guard. We had been told it was coming, but I figured the first rain would be that typically gentle spring time rain. I was certainly not expecting a downpour!

As I sat and listening to the rain and enjoying the sounds of it running off the roof I began to feel that green envy that comes after a winter of white. I had forgotten how lovely it sounds. Winter's precipitation is mostly soft and the only sounds that occur is that which comes from the gales of the season.

Rain holds a special meaning for those of us who love gardening. Rain is the predictor of lovely growth that comes from the ground and trees. My daffodils by the backdoor are up about 3 inches and I'm starting to see those first buds. The crocuses have not begun to surface in the garden yet. That will be a time to celebrate when they first give color to the world again. That is when it really means springtime!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

How Long Till Springtime Momma?

Three days of glorious sunshine have lifted everyone's spirits around here! our temperatures have remained in the forties during the day for the past few days which means people are getting out and enjoying this lovely weather.

I have daffodil leaves up about three inches peeking through the crusty snow by my back door (I've measure them!) and I am ready to play in the dirt once more, which makes it hard not to go to my shed and get out my garden tools.

But I have really have to wait and so I am somewhat content in digging through the multitude of seed and plant catalogs that are magically finding their way into my mailbox these days. I did dig through my frozen and crusty compost heap which was quite a job! So, here I sit drooling over the catalogs look out my kitchen window with a mug of tea watching carefully for those first real signs that proclaim to the world that the seasons are finally changing.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Personal Request

I seldom ask for prayers here, but my first cousin Gail who is more big sister to me than cousin, lost her husband today. Please pray for her because she has her only daughter's wedding in Key West this weekend and she has to go through that before coming home to bury her husband. Thanks everyone.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Something's Comin', Something Good!

The winter is still haunting us here, but I'm feeling a change of seasons pushing against us here in Michigan each day now so I'm not too worried. Hey even the last snow storm was more water than snow! I feel like Spring is really breathing down winter's neck and since Even the ground has the softness that means the time for digging in the earth and creating my flowery beauty is coming.

I actually walked around the garden today and through the snow piles and stalks of last year’s flowers and in my imagination I saw images of the layers of flowers in the garden taking shape. I have huge lists of new flowers and plants that I hope to plant in all the areas of my little triangle garden. I am going to give a real piece of beauty here on our little plot on five lanes of fast.

I’m getting ready to start gardening see that winter season turn to spring time. I’ve had an amaryllis bulb that has pushed itself to the max this year and with intensely green leaves. They haven’t had too many flowers, but they’ve given me a touch of the outdoors in the depths of winter this year. They’ve been wonderful, but I am ready for those daffodils to bloom and everything to turn green around the yard. Is anyone else ready for springtime?

Monday, February 8, 2010

Living and Being Me

Journaling lately has not been easy for me. Nothing terrible going on here in West Michigan, just very busy with family and finally I am on the way to a bit of healing for myself. I have been driven way too often lately by back and leg pain that comes from a congenital hip problem. I've tried medications and all they seem to do is simply mask the problem, so I'm really stepping outside the box after 6 six years of dealing with the problem and getting a huge amount of healing from three alternative sources.

The first has been a class I'm taking in Qigong and Tai Chi. It has made quite a difference in my flexibility in doing some of the simple everyday things like climbing stairs and getting down on my knees which has been an almost impossible task but hard to avoid if you're a gardener like me. Once a week with following days of practice with a DVD my teacher recommended I am much improved.

But the biggest problem for the past few years has been the pain which has slowly crept in and and made my daily life miserable. The good thing is that it's beginning to fade. Beginning with acupuncture (The non-needle kind) I am really seeing a difference in the amount of pain I'm experiencing, and I'm also working with a chiropractor who has been the second half of my returning to the activities I haven't been able to actually do in years.

It's become a long journey because this problem didn't come about overnight and it will take an equal amount of time to work through and right a lot of wrongs I've done to myself over the years. I have to admit with utilizing something other than pain meds I'm doing better - I love the feel of being even just a bit the old me again.

Buona sera a tutti!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Week's Beginning

This week began with one of my dogs needing to have surgery to remove a lump on his spine. It was a bit of a scary day for us while we waited to see how he came through and if it was a simple cyst, or small tumor. The nasty thing has been growing on our little Mac's back along the spine for about two months and our vet has been keeping an eye on our little guy.

We finally decided the bump had to come out and I had our youngest pup in to the vet's office for surgery early this morning and we had to wait until noon to find out that he was okay and that the rather large lump was a huge cyst and not a tumor.

Since we have three dogs in our home at present we have to keep them from getting at the four inch wound that is free of any fur at the moment, so Mac is running around in a small kid's t-shirt which is proving to be a bit much for him to deal with today. He looks so strange in it too!

The Mac also has been confined to the house and cannot be out in our dog's run for 14 whole days and for our Mr. Hyper-active that will probably prove to be the most difficult part of this whole surgery thing when he starts to feel better in a day or two. I must admit he already is just a bit frustrated because only an hour after we brought him home when the other two were outside howling at all things that moves he has been whining at the back door and and barking along with them each time he hears them. He is more than a bit cranky!

Charlie and I have come to the conclusions that we have fuzzy 3 year olds here since that's what they act like most of the time. (My kids may be grown, but we seem to have replaced them with my little fury friends!) It sure is fun to have kids again!

Thursday, January 21, 2010


Tonight, I imagine soft, quiet snow swirling

near the stoop of my back door.

falling softly and caught by a wisp of air

that dances 'round my window

where Jack Frost has left his mark

in child-like fingerprints that slide and dance

around the edges of the pane.

In my mind I envision who might dare to brave this frigid place

they might enter through a veil of icy lace that now robes

the edges of this world I see.

Oh, for those quiet, cold moments where the world isn't,
and I am.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Word Recognition Requirement

Many apologies to my regular readers but I have begun to receive way too many ads (Some in Hebrew!) so I have to do that word recognition thing.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My Muse

January is a season unto itself and I love the snow and cold swirls and moves with the winds that frequent our spot along the Lakeshore here in West Michigan. This year has proved not to be as cold or as snowy as many previous years which is good for many...but bad for me. My muse usually comes with the falling snow and the storms that continually buffet our part of the world and make it look and feel like another planet here in the depths of winter.

For me the most productive time of the year as a writer has been one that often kept me in seclusion and clothed the world in a deep quiet which was something unheard of on the street where I live. So I am writing and tossing almost everything these days. Nothing seems to make sense or come together very well at present. I will get through it since I am writing even though not much is getting beyond the first drafts but I am continuing the effort.

For those of us who no longer write for a newspaper and aren't in the throws of book, getting one piece of writing out every month or so is a pretty, "good thing," as Martha is wont to say. I hope to have a new article on my main site (Writing and Beyond) by the end of the week at least and that feels pretty darn good!