Monday, November 21, 2011

The Simple Life

I have been truly enjoying our extended fall this year.  From the lovely colors that always grace with our Midwestern Autumn to what I consider the actual beauty of the season which of course is the vivid blue skies and the emerging bones of all the trees that are hidden throughout the summer months in my neighborhood.

I am truly amazed that so many people do not see the simple beauty in the many shapes that each tree's limbs and branches take as the leaves disappear every fall.  Some of the trees look like gnarled limbs, and branches that seem like old friends, and some seem instead to reach to the sky on tip-toes stretching up.

So many people I know can't seem to look beyond the dark in winter tree bark.  I see so many shades and colors of deep reds, browns, and even some purples that can be found in a winter forest.  With the snows that invariably paint a very different scene from the autumn colors, the trees take on an almost fairy tale world for me.

I find any tree a friend through all seasons, but especially in the cold months when it is totally bare and really exposes to the world its heart stripped totally of all the youthful spring dresses that hide the well rounded soul that is more truly its inner self - that is the reality of a tree.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Where the Asphalt Meets the Water

Sunday, I went to the beach at Lake Michigan and watched the waves roll because of the strong winds we had.  I spent an hour totally entranced gazing as three para surfers who seemed to fly with the wind, and then land almost like like a gymnast might on any given wave.  They went from what seems like a delicate jump in the air and then skate effortlessly over the waves on the North side of the channel.   It was so amazing to watch these para-surfers just do it so seamlessly and with such ease.

I sat almost holding my breath for 45 minutes watching these guys (and they're really all ages, (some even looked to be 50 or older.) doing such amazing wave jumping and ridding.

As I sat there I noticed that there were at least 20 cars including mine along the edge where the asphalt met the beach watching in awe as this show or competition unfolded all afternoon.

What was almost as much fun to watch were the two young boys with their grandfather in the car next to mine. They  were mesmerized and responded with such awe to what was happening on the water and the waves just across the beach from us.

All I can say is it was totally magical, and I really wish I had brought my camera with me!

(If you aren't sure what I'm talking about check out this link on YouTube!)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Traveling a Different Road

I just finished listening to a new book by David McCullough.  The Greater Journey tells the stories of people, some known and some unknown who came to Paris between 1830 and 1900 to study medicine, to paint, to sculpt, and many simply ended up staying and loving the city and its people beyond anything they'd experienced before in their lives.  Many remained deeply American, but were changed in so many ways - sometimes severely, and unequivocally.

Travel outside of a home country can be a life changing experience in itself, but from all accounts these sojourns to Paris the, "City of Light," significantly changed the lives and paths of those who went there.

This spring I was given a chance to travel to Ireland and England.  I've always wanted to travel and Ireland has been a travel wish of mine for a long time.  It was a place of family for me with a history that is both terrible, and beautiful.  Its held many names throughout the history of the emerald isle, but today it is simply called Ireland.

For those who left it because of the Potato Famine from 1845 to 1900 to find a new life, it was always called with great reverence the auld sod.  When I arrived there on a rainy April 1st, 2011 it was so like coming home.  I wish I could describe it better, but the feel was not like a strange and historical place when I landed.  It was like I had returned home after traveling a long long time.

I've traveled quite a few places in my life on the North American continent - many places in Canada as well as states within my own country, and it was always fun to go there, but always great to head home after the holiday was over.

In Ireland it was like I was rediscovering a home I left in the past.  The beauty of the places, cities, and harbors I visited were like places I knew well before my visit.

Would I go back right now if I could?  In a heartbeat!  Would I put down roots and stay there?  Yes, even if I left family here, I think I would.  It wasn't the people, though they were really lovely, nor was it the music or the rough beauty of the landscape and history that called to me.  It was a intangible sense of home that made me feel I belonged there, and knew each street, city and town by heart.  For me it felt like the auld sod, my own, "old home."

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Social Networking Crap

Social networking is taking all of what we write and the pictures we show...unless we know the secret way to say no!  That is just robbery in the worst form!  And that they can get so much info about us and that we GIVE it to them is just wrong!

Is there any way to keep the technical age from becoming the age where there is NO privacy?  I wish I knew the answer.  I've pulled away from one social networking site and have tried to just eliminate my time there bit by bit.  I forgot how addictive it is for me.  I want to care about family members and what's happening with our busy lives has made it almost impossible to really keep in contact.  That's why the social networking sites work and give us a sense of friends and family type of comfort while taking who we are.

As a writer, I find it more than repulsive that because I want to share something it is confiscated.  What in the world has happened to our freedoms?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Words, Words, Words...

Not many of us write them anymore, even in school.  
But I have to say we have no short amount of them to share in person, of through the short hand version used today called texting.  But I think somehow many of us have lost the history of our lives without letters to distant family that includes the daily grind, and beauty, or hand writing a journal, diary, or a simple thought journal.  
Much of our young country’s history has come from journals and those everyday writings of important and normal people, and some has even come from those old ledgers that told the story of businesses or difficult times in family lives.  
That really makes me wonder where will we find those pieces that historically paint who we are for coming generations.  
I think part of the answer may come from the blogs that pepper the internet today, especially those that tell of life and all it’s everyday craziness of our 21st century!
Are there other ways that may bring our daily history to future generations? Probably.  After all, we’re constantly recreating ourselves and our lives, so why not!!

(P.S.  One of my favorite blogs is real, sometimes gritty, but always so well written!  Here it is, I hope you can check it out!  Expat From Hell // BlogCatalog )

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Music to Calm The Savage Beast...I Think

I'm sitting  here, banging away at the computer after a very long hard day.  I have on the classical music on my iPod Touch and am working at mellowing my rough edges mood right now.  It's funny, I really love jigs and reels and the wildness that often is connected with all music Celtic but after tough, or miserable day it is more than soothing to get lost in Bach, Rodrigo, or maybe even a touch of Strauss. 

I've asked many people what music drives them when they need to escape a intense day, and it really varies with different people.  But I tend to agree with a friend, you can really tell a person by the music they're drawn to...I wonder if that were always true?

So if you want to comment - what music calms you or even what music drives your everyday life?

Monday, August 8, 2011


If you click on the picture you will get a bigger view of the face
of the Rock of Cashel.  You will also see on the left the older boy
that we saw climbing the face.
Watching the Rock was a diversion as we boarded the bus and waited for our driver.   I was one of many that spotted the brick that surrounded  what looks like a door arch, with no door of course.  Between the rocks and brick we all thought it was quite steep to try to climb.   What had all of us captivated after a little while was two boys  who were climbing the Rock's face that day.  (I did capture the older boy here on the left of my picture.)  Personally, I was more than a little nervous for these young fellows who scaled the rocks toward the summit like small mountain goats so skillfully and slowly.  

I have wondered since then....did their mother (mothers?) know where they were?  And that gave me thought of my own boys when they were growing up.  

I wonder how many times they did frightening things I didn't know about.  Which added to my personal consternation.  And then a thought came to me - how many angel hands must support our children all the places they go as they climb toward adulthood?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

A World of Music at your Finger-tips

I have always been a rather odd duck when it comes to what I like whether it be in music, or in electronic gadgets.  I'm not quite a geek, though I certainly would love to be considered one, but I have to say I am certainly enamored with the techie gadgets we have today!  Especially if they can give me a plethora of music at my fingertips!

For years I have been looking for a way to get good radio reception in my own personal valley on the West coast of Michigan.  We get only a few radio stations in clearly, and the reception goes from a solid wall of white noise to an occasional piece of music with a huge amount of static!  So that's when I went on a hunt beyond a good radio station and definitely more than listening to my small CD library as well.  After looking around for months in local stores and even online I was really totally frustrated!

I didn't want that expensive satellite radio for the car or home, I just wanted to be able to get lovely classical and Celtic music - all the time of course!  I don't ask for something simple or easy do I?

My search continued for what seemed to be years, but was only really a few months until I finally discovered something I thought I'd never find.  An internet radio.  Getting the stations online from all over the world has really turned into quite a bonus, too!  I mean who wouldn't want to wake to, say a station from Ireland or England and enjoy their fantastic way of looking at the world?  For me there is nothing like waking to good classical music and add to that that British way of speaking and I was hooked.

There are a few glitches that are a definite problem but nothing that someone who loves a challenge to finally get the ability to enjoy great music of any kind as clear as if the it were being piped from the next room.

Since I got my internet radio I've discovered quite a few stations of classical, Celtic as well as other types music theme stations.  My favorites today is a station in mid-England which is fabulous to listen to for the music and their really fun commercials. There's also a station in Ireland with some of the best Celtic music I've heard.  Add to that the fact that I'm listening to a well known Boston station (WGBH!), as well as one in D.C. and New York City and you are truly  getting the feel for what I'm now enjoying with my internet radio!  For me, it was not only the best choice, it was the only choice.

Who knew you could get fabulous reception for almost any station you'd ever want to listen too.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ireland, One Photo at a Time

Ireland is more than a place on a map, or a country in Western Europe.  For those of us who love this little bit of green heaven on earth the pictures of the countryside can create a longing, and much like the Irish music that echos from the pubs and homes and is almost inhaled by all who live in this grand North Atlantic island it can create such a craving to revisit this place again and again.

The picture below was taken on the day we went to the Rock of Cashel.  We walked the roads to the Rock, and back to the town below.  Cashel is a whole experience in itself but the town and surrounding fields in April was such a beautiful experience for me.

So, here's a little piece of Ireland for you.  It's a lovely taste of the place - from me, to you.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Exploring Mysteries

The summer is made for reading.  I'm not much of a beach person since I burn easily so my preferred place to take in a book is my recliner, or my bed.  Beside each there is a stack of at least three books. You see, I love to sit and read, sometimes for hours.

This summer is a continuation of my mystery addiction that has continued for about a year.  I just finished the last of Charles Todd's WWI Ian Rutledge books.  Good stuff!  I am wandering right now looking for a new book or book series that will capture my attention.  I've done quite a few, but often find myself reading to the middle and then either quitting because it's so bad, or skipping parts to get to the end.  Bad, eh?

I have read so many really good ones that it's hard to read that which does not measure up in my opinion.  I have to admit I enjoyed the last book by Kathy Reichs.  Bones to Ashes was a very good yarn!  I'm not usually much for the modern mystery, but this one I couldn't figure out and it told a fabulous pre-story that captured my attention from the beginning.  I love the series Bones (based on her books) on TV, and am finding the books, though not the same at all, to be very engaging.  From what I've read about the readers and lovers of the show I'm a true rarity since I love both the books and the series.

As you can tell the summer is not for escape reading for me!  I simply love a good read at any time!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fried Chairs...Well Almost!

In my last post there was within some snarky words about fleas.  Well, we have some un-mentionable (I will not name the maker.) office chairs at our dinner table and at my desk that have now been infested.  We have wood or laminate floors and I treat our beds naturally, but these little devils are driving me crazy!

So since I use Borax in the laundry with very HOT water to control them in our clothes and my husband suggested today that we should try his dry box for plastic and heat them for three hours above 150 degrees...I'm for anything right now!  So by 5 PM we will have very cooked, chairs!!!  ;-)

Hey, I'm game for anything right now!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Those Cool Summer Breezes

Today was a lovely day.  Low humidity and soft breezes.  That's what June use to be in the upper Midwest when I was a child.  Now, these days are rare and we usually experience the high humidities and heat indices that are the sign of my children's June weather experiences.

During the late fifties and early sixties June use to mean temperatures in the seventies and low eighties with low humidities and lovely cool nights.  Evenings for heading off to the beach with friends and building bonfires to keep warm!  The hot days of summer were restricted to those days at the end of July and August and were actually very few in number.  Each year we'd only get maybe one or two ninety degree days, now they are becoming more and more a common an occurrence every summer that passes.

For me, the mystery and joys that filled those early summer days came from the cool days for wandering down by the creek and catching cray fish, or enjoying the thick black muck areas that often held  the best surprise of those days, the many lady slippers that were spattered across the much and moss like a painter's brush drippings on that field of browns and greens.

I miss those cooler times as the heat increases with each passing day.  But that's summer, I guess.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Attack of The Killer Fleas!

Flea infestations can be nasty.  Especially since I get bit and react to them all the time!  We've been through all the natural ways (Baking soda, salt, Borax, and so many other thing!) over the past few weeks, which sadly did very little for killing the nasty critters in the house, but I do find that I get a little respite if I rub down with baking soda!  LOL!

I treat my dogs with stuff from the vat and always have.  But I'm outside more in this weather as they are and I'm sure I'm bringing many in myself.  Funny thing is this seems to happens about every five years and it take 2 months to totally rid the house, and me, of these dread invaders!  

Because of the last infestation five years ago we got rid of the wall to wall carpeting.  We now have only small patches of indoor/outdoor stuff which gives the dreaded fleas no real place to hide - according to the experts that is.

All that's left to us are the nasty treatments, and they are getting all too desirable at the moment.  I did the bomb the rooms affected last night, and it did make it somewhat better.  But I seem to be constantly vacuuming these days to get a bit of a respite.  We're now dealing with the hatching (and re-hatching!) out of all the millions of eggs. Hopefully once that is over we'll be free again.

I've bought a LARGE can of Deep Woods Off and flea stuff for walls and furniture as well.  Now, I'm hunkering down and am ready for the long fight, over how many weeks it will take!

 We will win!!  LOL!  ....I HATE fleas!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A City's Rebellion Against the National Media!

Today, on the way home from Grand Rapids, the big city I live about 30 miles from I heard this crazy NPR story - on of all things the City of Grand Rapids or Gr as many of us call it.  If you haven't heard the story about how Newsweek (yeah, the magazine!) quoted another source and said it was dying and it riled the city every so slightly so they decided to let the world know that we had talent, and fun too!

In the video are all kinds of local celebrities as well as man pain folks too!  So check out the video Roger Ebert says is, "the greatest music video ever made!"  ENJOY!

Lip Dub to "Bye Bye Miss American Pie," by Don McLean

Monday, May 30, 2011


I'm usually not much for popular music these days, but one new singer is making waves in both the pop arena, and some even say she is finding a fit with her music within the jazz realm and I find her voice something fresh in a world of duplicates these days.

Who's the special singer that is hitting all the high notes both in the UK and here in the States?  Another one name wonder - Adele.

If you haven't heard her yet you should check her out!  I heard her first in a recent NPR interview that was really something else.  She's a regular Brit, with an edgy sound that really grabs whether it's with a pounding beat, or a ballad that holds you close.  I personally love the grit in her voice that is so gorgeous while being so real too.  She's not the rail skinny star, and at the same time goes way beyond what we consider totally beautiful musically.

The NPR interview is a great place to get a taste of her music - check it out!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Gorse is a Gorse, of Course, of Course!

Gorse weed, Gorse (Ulex europea) is native to Ireland.  According to our Guide on the tour, Joe it’s a noxious weed of deadly beauty. It resists attempts to eliminate it. This thorny plant is not only difficult to handle, but, at certain times of the year, generates within its tissues a natural flammable oil. In 1936, this characteristic all but doomed the tiny town of Bandon, County Cork, Ireland. It is not certain how the fire started, but the Gorse burned furiously and within hours the inferno had consumed 484 of the 500 buildings that made up this small town as well. Much of this weed has finally been controlled by the commercial development that has happened here.  It has deprived even this hearty weed of a habitat.  Note the small picture taken in the county prior to the fire.  The same spot today is covered with pavement, homes and a whole neighborhood, which leaves no room for the weed!

This is a picture I took along the road in Ireland and
  as you can see the Gorse still has a hold here along
the roads and within the  hedgerows in many counties.

The funniest thing comes from how my granddaughter and I came to remember the name of the weed which of course gives us the title of this article.  I am a connoisseur of sorts when it comes to the old television show theme songs and remember many of them all too well.  The lyric I used came from a very old show called "Mr. Ed" (Who was of course a talking horse!), hence my very strange title. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Soccer Grandmoms

We've all heard of the soccer moms that are the driving force today amongst the young and upwardly mobile with children these days.  Hey, they were the moving force in the last two presidential elections, right?  Well I am a soccer grandmom and I love it!  There is no need to be crazy I can just cheer and knit when I want, or get up and follow the action on the field too if I want too.

The best part of being a soccer grnadmom is I can go crazy with the wins and no one cares!  This job sure has it's perks!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No Thank You For a Great W. Michigan Journalist

If you ever doubted that there is age discrimination that ALL the politicians turn a blind eye to look no further than journalistic TV news and your local newspapers.  Watch the young perky faces that grace your screen as anchors and reporters and if you haven't seen yet watch the older journalists slowly disappear, most unwilling to go.

Granted, some should because they aren't or often have never been journalists and only readers of what the networks throw at them.  But the great news people those who doggedly went after the real news are being dropped like a hot potato everywhere.  Our culture of youth has lost any kind of respect for those who have gifts as true journalists, and if I'm honest so many other professions as well.

Today our paper painted the headline the front page with pictures of one of those loses.  What bothers me the most is the hue and cry that has gone out for loyalty from companies across the country, but that has to go both ways and this is the age of the employer and the worker is a petty difficult - at best.

The worker is on the decent not only in pay and in jobs, but in importance as the cog in the wheel that makes the product for our country and the world.  Why?  Because we demanded too much.  Sad, since most of us simply want make a living and be able to survive in today's economy.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Snow, Snow...

Winter has returned to my little part of the world...I hate snow in the spring.  My daffodils are covered with two inches of wet snow and it is so yucky when I am so ready for that spring weather!  It certainly was not the surprise that I expected when I got up this morning.

I really got a wonderful taste of spring with my recent trip to Ireland and London a week ago.  It was lovely, trees leafing out all over and so many spring flowers, but to revert back to winter when I returned was not exactly what I was looking for when I returned and it is a bit disconcerting.

The old nursery rhyme rant will do here I think, with a bit of a change of course:

Snow, snow, go away,
Blanket us some winter day -
Next Year!!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Only a Little Rant...

I've learned many things during this year I turned 60.  Many important things.   I must admit that I try to learn something new often, which can be a challenge that sometimes frustrates me.  I keep struggling with the ever changing world of computers - we upgraded to a Mac recently.  I had to change how I do things and it was hard at first, but I am so glad to have this internet machine because I am no longer haunted by breakdowns!

I also learned from a belligerent blogger that no one can convince you to their way of believing simply by arguing their point with you.  A person recently tried and got very belligerent when they didn't succeed.  We all should be respected for our beliefs and not belittled until we give in to another's way of thinking - one convinced against their will remains the same opinion still.

Don't expect people, even friends to echo your own strongly held convictions.  We are not clones. We claim to want personal freedoms but only surround ourselves with comfortable people who don't challenge us.

End of rant.   :-)

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Indians in the Closet

My Grandmother Mattson and her big house on little Twin Lake held many memories for our family.  The front porch and the beach were two places that I remember as a place for reading, swimming, and of course imagining.  But there was one small space in her big house that held history, and stories beyond the imagination of most children.  That was where the buckskins and other Native American regalia were hung and there my cousin Gail, or one of my sisters and I would hide away on those rainy days when we were little.

The closet was more a narrow room with long oak wood boards that were smoothed by the many feet that wandered up and down the long rod that held a multitude of clothes, searching for what to wear.  It was a long room with a window at the end so it certainly wasn't dark, and there were so many places to hide with a book if I wanted to escape when my own family was there. (When you have many sisters you needed some time alone!)  

But my best memories were made with the soft smooth buckskin dresses and leggings that draped gently over the wire and cardboard hangers that lined the way back in this closet.  There were many days three or four of us would sit on the floor dressed in deerskin and leggings whispering and stroking the soft subtle folds of those clothes with their tiny colored beads lining the neck and sleeves of many of these garments.  The fringe was always too long and often tickled our arms and legs if we stood and paraded back and forth down the center of the long closet like models on a runway.  With heads high we'd walk proudly like we thought those tribeswomen might have and the images we created with the stories we imagined as we sauntered up and down as if on some forest path were alive with created lore and magic for us.  

If the light streamed through the small north window, as it often did in the summer we felt our skin get moist under the skin gowns and sometimes the fringe dripping with sweat would make us itch and scratch as we grew hotter. The window never could open, so it often got hot there but it never really bothered us because our imaginations were walking through our warms woods in summer, or riding horses with buckskin clad friends in long ago times.

The winters were the very best time because then we climbed the many old hat boxes to stretch carefully up to the long shelves above where the handmade blankets of red and yellow were kept, and with them we were transplanted into teepees where smoke rose high from the fires that warmed those rooms of buffalo hide, or long houses of wood and bark.  We each knew just enough native lore from grandma's stories to create our own that often could last all afternoon on those weekend days at Grandma's house.

As we grew older, we even got to wear those fragile gowns on Halloween evenings as we went door to door to get candy, and money for UNICEF.  I can still smell those velvety deer leather clothes that were so soft from the sweat of many years with my Great Grandfather's circus.  The smells and feel of those old memories filled what we wore and cemented like the sap of the pines that surrounded my grandmother's home the dreams we created so many years ago.  It gave us visions of what it might have felt like walking the Michigan forest paths with the Potawatomi, Ojibay, or Ottawa as we set our feet on paths toward our own adult lives.  It truly gave us dreams to live and revel in as we grew.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Where Does Wisdom Grow?

I have many favorite authors who's books I love to wade knee deep into over and over again.  But there is only one with whom I can go back to again and again for wisdom - and for joy.  When I first read her words I found I agreed with so many of her thoughts and ideas.  Both of her books keep calling me back to those curled pages and I so wish we could return to her concept of what life was like before technology.

"Everybody is a story," she told me from the written page of one of her books.

"People sat around kitchen tables and told their stories...It is the way wisdom gets passed along."

We don't share that kind of wisdom much anymore.  Her wisdom is that of a Jewish mind and my favorite line of hers is, "Real stories take time."  We really don't have time anymore to work at life in a way that makes for good stories (at least most of us don't...) and we certainly don't make time to listen to those important stories of our lives from those around us anymore.

So, today I am stopping to gather up my stories like a hen gathers up her chicks.  The stories I've learned have become important ones for me, and some of the lessons I've learned from those tales are too.

Like good letters good stories aren't perfect, but share the essence of us and our stories with those we know and love.

Stay tuned!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Something Old and Something...

I've been busy helping put to rest a family estate.  Nothing big, just the home of my mother-in-law with about 3 queen sized couch beds, a library full of books, and more sewing and knitting patterns in books and magazine pages than I think I've ever seen in one spot before.  My sister-in-law and I have cleaned out three rooms in the last three weeks and sorted through so many memories.

It's funny how much is left after a family member dies, especially one who collected things.  Not anything like salt shakers or normal collectible items of course.  She was a knitter and in every place possible there were knitting needles, and scraps of patterns for scarves, sweaters, mittens and so much more.  We've found every size of knitting needle you could imagine - straight, double ended, and circular in boxes, bags and plastic cases and lots of plastic totes filled with fabric and yarns.

I've done this before when my own mother died, but this was a different undertaking.  My sister-in-law had already spent weeks going through and organizing, and donating some of the contents of the condo before I joined in the process, but just the rooms I helped with were almost totally filled to the ceiling, and sometimes on metal shelving units.

My mother-in-law was a person who was very frugal and kept so much for that proverbial, "rainy day" (and those, "just in case I need an item," times.).  Going through all the sewing items, knitting paraphernalia,  papers, notes, music and music books has helped me see the need to begin to empty my own house.  It's interesting how much she had accumulated (I know I don't know how much I've saved, that's for sure!).  But I have to admit that unlike many who lived through the Depression (like my Mom-in-law!) I haven't had that huge urge to compulsively save all kinds of things, for which I'm extremely glad for since I've so enjoyed going through all that my Mom-in-law accumulated.  I've actually had 2 LARGE garage sales through this past summer!