Tuesday, December 25, 2007

YO, It's December 25!!

For those of you who aren't having a good Christmas, who don't have family or are too far away from them (my sister, my daughter.....) and can't get together with them -it's almost over!!! And after all, I have spent a couple of Christmases alone - and I found that knowing my Savior made all the difference in the world. He was with me, and while everyone was running themselves ragged and dysfunctional families were fighting the urge to choke each other, I was at peace next to my little Christmas tree with it's multi-colored lights. I was happy in a serene kind of way - that was actually my second Christmas alone. My present husband and I dated for many years, and there were rocky patches along the way when we didn't see each other for awhile - that was the serene Christmas when Jesus Christ was more than enough to fill me with quiet joy.

My first Christmas alone was right after my divorce, when my daughter went to be with my ex-husband's family, who were multitudinous and fun, as opposed to.....me.....depressed and solitary and not so fun for a child. That Christmas day when I sat drinking rum and cokes and feeling sorry for myself, I met my present husband. He was freshly divorced also, and in as much pain as I. So we met at a Denny's type place for pie and coffee and then we went to the movies. We had been on a Bible discussion board for a few years - back then there was no internet, but there were BBS's - "bulletin boards" where you called in and connected to a group where you could leave messages and read others. It was kind of like discussion boards now, but instead of clicking on a web address, you actually had to program your computer to dial a phone number to connect to the BBS. Once in, it was like being in a room with other people coming and going and talking. I became addicted to it and my present husband was also a member of the Bible BBS to which I belonged. We started out as friends trying to navigate the treacherous waters of divorce and all that entails - and now we are VERY happily married to each other.

So - if you know the Savior, He has you in the palm of His hand all the time - and He promised never to leave you or forsake you. If your Christmas isn't full of people and events, it can still be full of Him.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas!!

It's December 23 and we're not getting a cold front down here in Warmland, Florida. Darn it!! I can see on the weather map that there is lots of snow in the upper Midwest, and maybe later on in the Northeast. I'm not wishing for snow, but it sure makes it feel more Christmasy when it's cold here. However, I'll not let that stop me from enjoying the season.

Since I have back issues - I have Scoliosis and as I get older it really bothers me - I purchased a Homedics chair massager. It is fabulous!! I get such pains in my back and legs because one leg is longer than the other (not actually longer, but the muscles in my crooked back make one leg longer) - and the one leg that takes all my weight gets very sore. After cleaning yesterday and finishing shopping today, I whipped that chair massager out, my wonderful husband put Biofreeze (like Ben Gay only much better) all over my aching back, and I lay back with the heat on and the little massage balls kneading my back muscles up and down. It put me to sleep - and I wasn't trying to fall asleep. It was that good.

Finally, I have 2 weeks off from work, the house is all decorated, the Christmas lights are lit, the presents are all wrapped and under the tree - and I can rest - most of all, I can think on the birth of the Savior all those years ago, and be wildly thankful for Him.

No matter what the weather, may your Christmas be peaceful and bright, warm and filled with the knowledge that He has come.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Now that it is Sunday night and I have to get up at 6AM to get ready for work, I can't sleep. I napped this afternoon, and now, at 11:33 PM, I'm ready to stay up and enjoy music and the internet for hours. I'll have to force myself to go to bed. We're having a cold front tonight, and it's supposed to get down to 50 degrees before morning. I'm making sure to keep the window over my side of the bed opened just a bit so that the fresh, cold air can seep in and touch my dreams. Well - here goes - to bed.

My All Time Favorite Christmas Carol

Many years ago when my daughter was a baby - about 1985 - I purchased a Christmas cassette called, "An English Christmas". I henceforth went back and bought as many copies as the store still had because it came to define my idea of Christmas music. There were medieval carols, Polish carols and the star of them all - Gerald Finzi's "In Terra Pax, Opus 39". I had never heard this before and it was one of the most beautiful Christmas arrangements I had ever heard. It is a story set to music. Here is what prompted Gerald Finzi to write "In Terra Pax":

From this web site and article:

"In terra pax is probably Finzi's best known work. It is a setting of Robert Bridges' poem Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913 into which a portion of the Christmas story from the Gospel of St. Luke has been interpolated. Finzi began work on the piece in 1951 but it was not completed until 1954. Finzi gives the somewhat introspective words of the poem to the baritone solo, while the soprano solo and chorus take the part of the angels in the biblical text. The poem reminded Finzi greatly of a particular Christmas Eve party he had attended as a young man living on Chosen Hill Farm in Gloucestershire. They had all come out at midnight into the crisp, cold air, and had heard bells ringing across the countryside from all the villages. These bells became the wonderful "glory to God in the highest" section of In terra pax. After the baritone solo reflects on the angelic song, the chorus enters again, softly repeating "and on earth peace, good will toward men." In terra pax sadly figured indirectly in Finzi's death. During the Three Choirs Festival in 1956, Finzi took Vaughan Williams up to Chosen Hill to show him the spot where he had taken his inspiration for In terra pax. They stopped in at the sexton's cottage, unaware that the sexton's children had recently come down with chicken pox. Finzi, already severely weakened by Hodgkin's lymphoma, radiation therapy and an experimental splenectomy, contracted an encephalitic form of the disease and died on September 27, 1956."

About the best I can do is to link to a playlist - I hope it works. If it does, treat yourself and listen to #1 and #2 on the list - together those are my favorite Christmas music.

When my daughter was a small child, one of our favorite Christmas traditions was for her to put on her pajamas, bring a blanket, and we'd ride around neighborhoods admiring Christmas light displays and playing Christmas music. It was especially effective on a chilly night, a rarity in South Florida, but one which reminded me of Christmasas of my Northeastern childhood. Those English Christmas cassettes each became overplayed and warped in turn until I could no longer listen to them. Later, my husband had a CD made of many of the carols that were on the cassette, but the Gerald Finzi piece could not be found. Until now. I've purchased it on Itunes and will make a new CD for myself - as much of a copy of the old cassette as I can. Between purchasing from Itunes and copying from the CD my husband made I should be able to recreate the best Christmas music collection I've ever had - and enjoy some beautiful music that I feared was forever lost to me....the internet is a wonderful thing, indeed. And the CD won't warp!!

The following are the words of Robert Bridges' poem "Christmas Eve, Noel 1913" as they are incorporated into Finzi's work:

And from many a village
In the water’d valley
Distant music reach’d me
Peals of bells aringing:
The constellated sounds
Ran sprinkling on earth’s floor
As the dark vault above
With stars was spangled o’er.

……marveling could not tell
Whether it were angels
Or the bright stars singing.

But to me heard afar
It was starry music
Angels’ song, comforting
As the comfort of Christ.

Between the verse that ends "o'er" and the one that begins, ".....marveling" is where Finzi interpolates the story of the first Christmas from Luke's Gospel. Isn't Bridge's poetry lovely? I can just see in my mind's eye the crisp, cold night far from the city, where the stars carpet the sky with brilliance.......perhaps Our Lord was born on such a night.

The Snowman

Every year at Christmas I watch the Raymond Brigg's film, "The Snowman". It is a breathtaking animation thst reminds me so strongly of what it is REALLY like when it snows. I've lived in South Florida since I was 24 years old - and I'm 51 now, so you do the math.......I've been in snow just a few times during those years, but nothing like the charm and wonder of my schooldays in upstate New York winters. At the beginning, when the man is remembering the biggest snowfall of his youth, he uses the words, "I awoke to a room filled with light and silence". That is what I remember best - waking at night and see the strange light sky, not caused by streetlights and city lights, but by the white clouds and white snow. I remember the exciting thought that perhaps the next morning would be a snow day and the whole family (my parents were both teachers) could snuggle under the covers instead of braving the elements and the cold. I went to YouTube and found the film, so you can enjoy it too. The music of the young boy's choir is amongst the most haunting and beautiful I've ever heard and adds to the magic.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

"From Scenes Like These"

The title of my post is the title of a book published in 1945 by someone named Ethel Wallace. I Googled the name and found references to an artist Ethel Wallace in NY, but I don't think it's the same person. There are other references to articles referencing Ethel's book, "From Scenes Like These", but you have to pay to read them.

In any case, "From Scenes Like These" has a subtitle - "Life in a Christian Family". Ethel grew up in Philadelphia in the very early 1900's. She assisted with nursing during the great flu epidemic of 1918 and was a young woman at that time, so that gives you some idea of the time period of her story. Her childhood home was outside the city limits and there was forest behind the house. What fascinated me was the way families lived at that time - several generations in one home. Often elderly aunts and/or uncles who were unable to care for themselves were taken in. In Ethel's case, there were two great-aunts, her grandmother, who needed a trained nurse, Ethel's four siblings, her parents, and assorted pets over the years. The home was three stories and the top story was occupied by her great-aunts who had adjoining rooms. One of the great aunts was the "fading violet" type and the other had a job all her life in a Christian publishing house. All were cared for by the patriarch, Ethel's father.

My friend, LaVerne, of whom I have made reference on this blog before, grew up in similar circumstances. The great difference for her was that there were no men in the house. LaVerne's father and grandfather had died, and she lived in a three story home with her grandmother, great-aunts and her mother.

I'd just like to quote some portions of "From Scenes Like These". The forward to the book is as follows:

"To the Millions of Christians who in this day, as my parents in theirs, follow humbly in the footsteps of Him Who went about doing good. To them belongs the making of a better, freer world. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty."

Since this book was published in 1945, Ethel was thinking of the great conflagration of WWII when she wrote that forward.

The forward continues:

"Many are writing today about their families and the incidents of their childhood. This little book, differing from those which hold up relatives to ridicule, and resembling thousands that could be written, tells of the Christian home in which I was reared. The Bible does not omit the shortcomings of the saints, so I have written of the frailties as well as the virtues of my family. They were not angels, but sinners redeemed by the grace of God - a fact they would have been the first to acknowledge.

Several years ago a friend brought out for my inspection a recently finished patchwork quilt made up, as is the way of patchwork quilts, of squares, some gay colored, others dark, stitched together at random. As she spread it out on the bed, she said, 'this is the patchwork of my life. Each square was once part of a dress which is associated with what was for me a momentous occasion. My mother cherished my childhood garments and preserved them. That white muslin with the tiny tucks was my very first dress, this china silk with the hand-embroidered pink roses was the robe in which I was baptized, that pale blue my first party frock, this heavy satin my wedding gown and my mother's, this was the last dress my darling Eva wore, this black velvet is the material out of which was cut the gown in which I christened the battleship last month. I shall hand the quilt down to my children's children.' The following pages are my patchwork - squares some gay colored, others dark, happenings of long ago and of today, placed together at random.

As from the vantage point of years I view the world today, I see that it is a very different world from the one in which I grew up. We cannot return to the old world and in some ways we would not if we could. But in that day many more Americans lived close to the rudiments - to the Christian beliefs, principles, and inhibitions upon which this country was founded, which made it great, and which for a long time remained its very bone and fibre. If we return to them as individuals and as a nation, we shall be enabled to meet War and Peace, Death and Life, unafraid. 'Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them,' said Jesus, 'I will liken him unto a wise man which built his house upon a rock; and the rains descended and the floods came and the winds blew and beat upon that house; and it fell not for it was founded upon a rock.'"

This author was nostalgic for the early 1900's, in the face of the 1940's world. Today, we are nostalgic for the seemingly far more innocent 1940's.

In actuality, I would have said in the past that every generation is longing for the simpler life of earlier times, although I doubt if the pioneers in any era longed for something simpler than their experiences. Today, I look at the history of the 1800's and 1900's and I believe there is a clear progression to, perhaps, the "end times", if you want to call it that. No one knows when the "end times" will come, but the Bible gives some criteria as to their character. In any case, rather than a continuum from time immemorial of generations longing for their parent's past, I believe there IS a beginning and an end, a progress of decay that can be seen. Granted, this is just my opinion, but what better place than my own blog to present it.

I think that in the 1890's, the United States reached the apex of it's existence. Prosperity was at an all time high and the civilized aspect of society was also at an all time high.

As we traveled into the 20th century, man's arrogance began to believe that we had it made. The Titanic simply couldn't sink, they said - but sink it did, and with spectacular loss of life. To this day, people are fascinated with a kind of dread by the story of the inevitable fate of the luxury liner.

Back in the mid 1800's Darwin and other progressives began to paint a world without God in their evolutionary theory, and more liberal "theologians" began to pooh pooh the inerancy of the Bible. And so it begins. The general public didn't pick up on these novel ideas for a good 50 or 60 years. World War I was horrific enough to make the general populace begin to embrace the ideas of the intellectuals and liberal theologians. The Bible was an antiquated book of human myths, suitable for literary study only. Those who retained shreds of religion believed in God, but in a nominal, vague way. In general, society began to become more and more degenerate. The things that Baptist ministers railed about at the beginning of this century - moving pictures, short skirts, bobbed hair, women drinking liquor and smoking cigarettes, the ideas of free love and anarchy - all of this, like a field ripe with weeds, became much more widespread in the society of the 1920's.

We all have seen documentaries on the Roaring 20's, and we laugh at how daring they thought they were. In the face of today's disintegrated family it seems somehow quaint to be shocked at the excesses of the 1920's.

So here we are in the 2000's, headed for the end of the first decade. Poor Ethel Wallace would have looked around her at present day Philadelphia and fallen over in a dead faint - perhaps not at the urban sprawl so much as at the everyday lack of morals and values. Imagine her seeing the typical dress of a teen or preteen girl these days! My daughter calls the especially precociously dressed ones, "prostitots".

For myself, I love reading books like this. I can spend an afternoon going back in time to a gentler more sentimental era, when extended families lived all in one house, and there were no old age homes or adult living communities, and the youth were taught respect for their elders and learned valuable life lessons from them right in their own homes every day.

Homes like Ethel's had huge porches in front and sometimes, all around the sides, with ample room for rockers and hammocks. People actually sat on the front porches and greeted passers-by. I know this is true because I've read some of LaVerne's mother's letters to her, speaking about just that - sitting on the front porch and greeting former students (LaVerne's mother had been the equivalent of today's middle school teacher) as they walked by. I can't even imagine what this would be like, to live in a friendly community of people I know and who know me, where we all follow the same rules of etiquette and attend the same churches and social activities. It sounds a bit like heaven, and I can understand Ethel looking with longing back at her childhood full of love and family, security and safety.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


I've learned something else about prayer. It's not like I didn't know this before, but I never wrote it down.

There is a tremendous amount of noise in my brain. Mostly demands of "shoulds" and important things I have to remember. Everywhere I look, the house and yard cry out for attention. There is always something lacking, something my eye tells me is out of symmetry. It needs cleaning, rearranging, weeding, cutting, feeding (pets), watering, vacuuming - you name it. Then, overlay that with thoughts of work, money, worry, health (there lots more "shoulds" THERE) - and my brain is a screaming cacophony - "how dare you sit down when THIS and THIS, ad infinitum, needs to be done??" Then there is fear, dread, anger, sadness - once again, you name it. A little frosting on the cake? Thoughts of my job, what I have to do there as well.....

Given all this, I cannot pray. Think about what prayer means - it means talking to and listening to God - who speaks silently and for the most part, to an attentive rather than a totally distracted, heart/brain.

I have to silence the brain.

This is the hardest thing for me to do. And keep it silenced and concentrated on the Lord, prayer.

It's not so much silencing as saying to all the demands and thoughts, "you can wait -be still for now." When I do this, or attempt to, there are rebellious "but's" that try to shout out and destroy any chance of quiet.

It is almost a physical effort, a la the cartoons where the character shakes his head vigorously to clear it, with the accompanying cartoon noise.

So what have I learned? That I must put aside, with great effort, the concerns, thoughts, responsibilities that crowd my brain. With an almost physical gesture, I must make a conscious decision to quiet the din in preparation for prayer.

Many times I've prayed over the din - but I never hear anything when I do that.

Also, I let my mind wander. Once I get it quiet, my thoughts try to sneak around, eventually to wake up the voices I just silenced.

So - Step 1 - Tell my brain to shut up. Make my self quiet.

Step 2 - Don't leave the brain alone. Concentrate on God. If I sit in my quiet backyard, I see evidence of God and His beauty all around me - that helps.

Step 3 - Try to be in a place that is conducive to concentration with minimal distractions.

To most people, I'm sure this is elementary, but for me, it has been a problem all my life. I find it ever so difficult to calm my mind and prepare to talk to God.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Inconsistent Me

I know I haven't written here regularly as I should. And a very thoughtful and caring lady has asked how my father is doing. She has her own blog+, which I have visited, but have not commented on in a long while. I go through periods where I post on my blog more often - and then I go through periods where I neglect it. I really dislike that I am so inconsistent and not more disciplined.

Anyway, my father is doing much better than he was. Perhaps the 24 hour care, the regimented food, that he really does like - I don't know. He is cognizant and able to converse, which, a month ago, he could not do at all. He just sat and would look at you momentarily if you spoke to him and then he'd gaze off and eventually fall asleep. I went up to visit 2 Saturdays ago and my mother and I rolled him out into the courtyard in his wheelchair. He doesn't have foot plates, so he must lift his feet up whenever he wants to move. He has no problem doing this, so his strength has improved. He isn't too talkative, but he comprehends and speaks in sentences, although a bit hesitating now and then, searching for a word. He said he was shocked at how he had "acted" previously - that just wasn't him. He made it sound like he had a choice, when he really hadn't had one. He was just sick, I guess - and now he is much better. He is doing so much better, in fact, they want to send him back home on November 30. He is thrilled about that, but I wonder what arrangements will be made for his care. I think the reason he was in the home to begin with is my mother couldn't care for him as he needed, and some health issue that needed to be addressed wasn't at home - so he became almost catatonic. Now, after a month in the home, he is almost back to his old self.

My mother, according to my sister (she didn't speak to me about this, but to my sister), went to confession (she is Catholic) and told the priest about many things. They had a good, long talk. She evidently came away from her talk with him deciding to "give it all to the Lord". So she is just taking one day at a time with this whole thing - and after all, that's how life is doled out anyway. I've tried to ask her a few times what might happen when dad comes back home, but she says she'll cross that bridge when she comes to it, and she also has confidence that there will be some sort of meeting between herself and the doctors to discuss his care before he is released. She is right - she has had one of these meetings already, so of course, they will not release him without direction to her.

In any case, Cathy S. - thank you so much for your solicitous question about my father.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hello There

I'm at work today and I just happened to be reading my usual group of blogs (during lunch, of course) and one of them has a friend whose cat died yesterday. He put a link at his site to her blog and when I read her post, I just cried and cried. I love my cat Squeebles the way she loved her Bentley - and I feel so sorry for her. If you read this post, perhaps you could stop by her site and extend some love and care her way. I can't go back there again because if I so much as think about her post I tear up. I look at the pictures of her kitty and I can see why she loved him so much - he reminds me of my Squee. If anything happened to him, I'd feel as she does.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Dang It II

Well, we finally got issued a Tropical Storm Warning at 5AM this morning, which is USUALLY the impetus for schools and government offices to close. But not today. Sigh. I gotta go get dressed and drag my body to work anyway. It just ain't fair, I tells ya.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dang It

While the rest of the country is going through or finishing with Autumn, South Florida is still stuck in tropical mode. I've never seen such a rainy October, with little to no dry weather. I'm not complaining, though, since the bureaucrats are still saying that Lake Okeechobee isn't full enough and there may be another drought come spring. If those same bureaucrats hadn't panicked last hurricane season and emptied half the lake into the Atlantic Ocean in anticipation of deathly flooding - supposedly to be caused by the weak 1930's dike that surrounds Lake Okeechobee - we wouldn't be in this mess. Perhaps if they had waited until there was a REAL threat before emptying the lake.....but the media set up a frenzy last year, and the bureaucrats complied.

Anyway - here is the picture of what might be heading this way:

If Noel does head this way, it should be a tropical storm, which will do minimal damage. I'm hoping for at LEAST one day off from work because of this.....

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What a Beautiful Prayer!!

I found this prayer posted on the this blog:

In prayer I launch far out into the eternal world,
and on that broad ocean my soul triumphs
over all evils on the shores of mortality.
Time, with its gay amusements and cruel disappointments
never appears so inconsiderate as then,
In prayer I see myself as nothing;
I find my heart going after thee with intensity,
and long with vehement thirst to live to thee.
Blessed be the strong gales of the Spirit
that speed me on my way to the New Jerusalem.
In prayer all things here below vanish,
and nothing seems important
but holiness of heart and the salvation of others.
In prayer all my worldly cares, fears, anxieties disappear,
and are of little significance as a puff of wind.
In prayer my soul inwardly exults with lively thoughts
at what thou art doing for thy church,
and I long that thou shouldest get thyself a great name
from sinners returning to Zion.
In prayer I am lifted above the frowns and flatteries of life,
and taste heavenly joys;
entering into the eternal world
I can give myself to thee with all my heart,
to be thine for ever.
In prayer I can place all my concerns in thy hands,
to be entirely at thy disposal,
having no will or interest of my own.
In prayer I can intercede for my friends, ministers,
sinners, the church, thy kingdom to come,
with greatest freedom, ardent hopes,
as a son to his father,
as a lover to the beloved.
Help me to be all prayer and never to cease praying."

It was posted with photographs (that I left out because they are not mine) on October 21, 2007. (By the way, visit that blog if you love crafts and beautiful photographs, all from a Christian perspective).

I thought the prayer so beautiful that when I saw that the blog owner had listed the name of the book it came from - "The Valley of Vision- A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions" - I ordered it from Amazon.com, since, of course, I don't have enough books (if you know me, you'll know I'm buried under books - but a nicer burial I can't think of).

I can't wait to go through these prayers. Now that I think of it, if someone from the past has trod the same path as myself - life - and they have committed some breathtaking prayers to paper - then why re-invent the wheel? I can still pray in my own words AND use these wonderful prayers when my own words fail.

What sublime poetry, what lofty goals, rising above the mundaneness of life. Prayer - it's a journey I'm (ashamed to admit, but happy to go forward) just beginning.


I have had difficulty with the teaching about prayer for many years. I try to pray, but I think to myself, "Why bother since what will be will be, and I often don't get an answer to my prayer - either negative or positive, that I can discern?"

I was reading my Bible this morning and had a little light shine that I thought I'd share. I was reading 1 Kings, chapter 3, where Solomon has a dream and God asks him what he would ask for. This, to me, is similar wording to Luke 11:9-13 where Jesus tells the disciples that whatever they ask for, they will receive because, after all, God is the best father and would he give a scorpion when asked for bread?

I've always read this - in Luke - and thought I must be doing something wrong because I understand at a gut level that God isn't a gumball machine - put in the quarter and out pops your wish. He isn't a genie, although I have often daydreamed about rubbing a lamp and having a genie pop out, who asks me what I desire - three wishes perhaps? I always thought that my first wish would be that I could have all my subsequent wishes forever granted - thus saving me from the problem that characters in genie stories often have of screwing up their wishes and then running out.

Anyway - I digress.

I noticed when I was reading the verses in 1 Kings 3:5-11, that God was very pleased because Solomon asked for wisdom - not for himself, or for the sake of wisdom itself, but for his "job" as king and judge for all the people of Israel. Here's the kicker that opened my eyes - because Solomon prayed for something that would benefit others, something eternally of value (not food for everyone in his land, or other perishable things), he was granted that wisdom. Prayer answered. And, oh by the way, God added riches and wealth merely because Solomon hadn't asked for anything for himself.

Now I'm not saying that the formula is to ask for others while slyly waiting for God to add the addendum of "stuff" for oneself. I'm saying that I have not understood prayer for a long time.

I'm still trying to figure it out. But, when I pray for financial assistance, perhaps what I should be praying for is the wisdom and capacity to handle the finances I presently have - and the wisdom and ability to find my way out of any financial difficulties I might have.....rather than praying for a Lotto win, for example. Perhaps God would answer that prayer.

Perhaps when I am praying for God to move us to another locality, I should be praying for the wisdom and ability to deal with where God has me now, and to see with Godly discernment the path for my future.

I have to say, I'm just scratching the surface here - it's as if I just dipped my toe in a very deep stream. I need to dive in to find out the depths of the true answer about prayer - at least for myself.

So stay tuned.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Back From New York State

I always rush to be specific - it's either UPSTATE New York, or New York State, as opposed to New York City - perish the thought. I would not want anyone to mistakenly think I'm from there - I'm a country girl, born and bred.

Anyway, the Mr. and I finally made the pilgrimage to my home area. He is a native Floridian and, although he has traveled all over the country, he had not seen my neck of the woods, especially with the thought that it was my growing up place. I was shocked to see that not much has changed - so it was a pleasant shock. My home since
I was 1 year old looks wonderful:

Here is a place where I worked when I was 17 years old - for a few months anyway - it literally has not changed one iota:

Here is the fire station. It was old when I was a child. I remember taking a baby-sitting class on the second floor the summer I was 13 so that I could make some spending money:

My home town is only minutes from some lovely mountains where I used to go for rides as a teenager. This particular place has lovely memories for me, as well as making me sad that I live so far away from it now:

This is on top of a mountain in the Shawangunks and there is a stone arch through which you walk and - this is what you see:

Every road was beautiful - we passed so many old houses and farms from Revolutionary times. We found an old bookstore in a VERY small town - I could have spent days in there, but I managed to leave with only about 15 books, which, for me, is few!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Blues

I haven't posted much the last few days. I'm fighting the existential blues with the Word of God. Sometimes the Word wins, but the blues win all too much. This Sunday, my husband and I are flying to my hometown of Middletown, NY for a few days. He has never been there, and it is important to me in some way I'm not sure I understand that he see where I grew up. The house my father built and that I lived in for 23 years, was sold about 10 years ago and I'm sure is very different. It will feel strange not to be able to go inside, to belong there. My elementary school, the Catholic school I attended until 7th grade, the huge old stone library where I first realized I could take out any book I wanted, the roads I walked every day to school, and later to work. I don't plan to go back again, so this is kind of a goodbye, I guess. Besides, the place exists forever in my memory exactly as I remember it - fragrance of memory - and that's what is important.

I've always had a bent toward melancholy. They say that is something characteristic of Slavic people, of which I am at least half. I've also always had a fascination for time, and for the photos and moving pictures that captured moments forever. I love to look at old photographs and try to see details in them, look into a person's eyes in the photo and imagine the moment when the flash had gone off, and the person walked away into time.

It reminds me of a very melancholy poem that I read in "A Children's Garden of Verse" by Robert Louis Stevenson. This volume is very sentimental and the poems there remind me of the way I thought when I was very small and felt very secure. Some of the poems by virtue of their very beauty are sad. Here is the one that breaks my heart the most:

To Any Reader

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear, he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

Here is another, much longer that speaks of growing old and nevermore to be children, except in eternity:

To Minnie

The red room with the giant bed
Where none but elders laid their head;
The little room where you and I
Did for awhile together lie
And, simple, suitor, I your hand
In decent marriage did demand;
The great day nursery, best of all,
With pictures pasted on the wall
And leaves upon the blind –
A pleasant room wherein to wake
And hear the leafy garden shake
And rustle in the wind –
And pleasant there to lie in bed
And see the pictures overhead –
The wars about Sebastopol,
The grinning guns along the wall,
The daring escalade,
The plunging ships, the bleating sheep,
The happy children ankle-deep
And laughing as they wade:
All these are vanished clean away,
And the old manse is changed to-day;
It wears an altered face
And shields a stranger race.
The river, on from mill to mill,
Flows past our childhood's garden still;
But ah! we children never more
Shall watch it from the water-door!
Below the yew – it still is there –
Our phantom voices haunt the air
As we were still at play,
And I can hear them call and say:
"How far is it to Babylon?"

Ah, far enough, my dear,
Far, far enough from here –
Smiling and kind, you grace a shelf
Too high for me to reach myself.
Reach down a hand, my dear, and take
These rhymes for old acquaintance' sake!
Yet you have farther gone!
"Can I get there by candlelight?"
So goes the old refrain.
I do not know – perchance you might –
But only, children, hear it right,
Ah, never to return again!
The eternal dawn, beyond a doubt,
Shall break on hill and plain,
And put all stars and candles out
Ere we be young again.

To you in distant India, these
I send across the seas,
Nor count it far across.
For which of us forget
The Indian cabinets,
The bones of antelope, the wings of albatross,
The pied and painted birds and beans,
The junks and bangles, beads and screens,
The gods and sacred bells,
And the load-humming, twisted shells!
The level of the parlour floor
Was honest, homely, Scottish shore;
But when we climbed upon a chair,
Behold the gorgeous East was there!
Be this a fable; and behold
Me in the parlour as of old,
And Minnie just above me set
In the quaint Indian cabinet!

Obviously, RL Stevenson was a child in Victorian England - and he has painted the loveliness of a privileged childhood of those times.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

How NOT To Use the Word of God

I am reading the books of 1 and 2 Kings, and there are a few moments in the books that strike me as humorous.

The first comes at 2 Kings, chapter 1. A brief synopsis - yet another worthless king of Israel (Ahaziah of the Northern Kingdom) is coming to his end (he had fallen and couldn't get up, evidently), and he decides to send out some men to enquire of the god Baal-Zebub if he is going to recover. God sends Elijah to meet the men and tell them what the REAL God has to say, and it ain't good. Paraphrase -"Why are you worshipping false gods when you can worship the real God? In any case, you know how sick you are? Well, you're going to die without leaving the bed you're in." How's THAT to cheer up the worthless king, eh? So the men go back and tell him what Elijah said - and the king gets suspicious. "Who told you that - what did he look like?" After they describe the John the Baptist type attire - hair clothes and a leather belt - he says, probably with dread and irritation, "That's Elijah the Tishbite". But, deep down inside he knows Elijah is on the real wavelength, so he sends 50 men and a captain after Elijah to ask him more. When the captain and the men get there, Elijah is sitting on a hill. The captain yells up to Elijah, "Hey! If you're the man of God, come down here - the king wants you."

And now for the fun part - the part I fantasize about (well, kinda, but not really - I'd not want to REALLY hurt anyone, just make them realize they shouldn't mess with me).....

Elijah is sitting on the hill, just gazing off into the distance. Maybe he's praying, maybe he's just vegging. Whatever. He looks over at the captain and the 50 men and he says, ""If I am a man of God, may fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty men!" Which it promptly does. I imagine Elijah calmly going back to serenely sitting in peace on the hill.

The king, meanwhile, back in bed, gets the report - and sends off another 50 men and a captain, who act just as arrogant and also get consumed by fire.

Finally, the king sends out a third captain and 50 men. This captain is smart - he's heard what happened to the other two, so he shows respect for Elijah, and hence, for God - and asks to be protected, but could Elijah come with them to the king. Elijah goes - and pretty much repeats the same thing he said the first time - "you're toast, buddy. Adios." And this time, the king dies. He had to travel all that way just to repeat what he said the first time. Oh well - the king was probably hoping for something, but I'm not sure what.

I'd LOVE to look at someone who has persecuted me unfairly and, without actually hurting them, put the "fear of God" in them. You know - when I walk by, they shake in their shoes and fall all over themselves trying NOT to insult me because they know my Daddy will get them if they do. I KNOW it doesn't work that way, but I can fantasize, can't I?

The other incident I love is in 2 Kings 2. Elijah has just been translated by chariot into Heaven, witnessed by Elisha. The men who are there (a company of prophets from Jericho) evidently haven't seen what happened - only Elisha, because that was his deal with Elijah. ("Can I have a double portion of your Spirit?" Elijah says if Elisha sees him when he goes up into heaven, then his request has been granted. So Elisha sees something that, evidently, others don't so that he'll know he has been granted a double portion of Elijah's Spirit.)

So after the dust settles, Elisha picks up the cloak that Elijah left behind and uses it to part the Jordan so he can cross over dry. As he approaches the prophet group, they suggest that perhaps they should go and look for Elijah - maybe God picked him up and set him down somewhere in the vicinity. Elisha says no.

Here's the part I like - they keep bugging him and insisting that they should look for Elijah. Elisha gets annoyed and tells them to go ahead. When they report back that they can't find him, Elisha says, "Didn't I tell you not to go?" Sheesh. That made me laugh out loud.

And here's the best one. The one that reflects what life is like today. Elisha is walking along (in 2 Kings 2:23) toward Bethel when a bunch of "youths" - read teenage hooligans - are walking along toward him, making fun of him. They call him , "baldhead". They say, "go on up, baldhead". You can translate that into any number of jeers that you would hear today instead. What does Elisha do? Does he cower in fear? Does he whip out his cell phone to call police? Does he wish he had a gun with him? Does he wish he had a large pit bull? Nope. Here's the quote from the Bible - "He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria."

That'll teach THEM - 42 of the youths got mauled by bears. If there is one thing I have learned here - Elijah and Elisha didn't mess around. Too cool.

That's my fun Bible stuff for today.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

I Tunes

I removed the I Tunes favorites widget to the left because I couldn't get it to work right. All it showed as my favorites were the 18 songs I purchased the last time I purchased anything. I have a LOT more favorites than that - and I've purchased a LOT more than that over the years, but it didnt' show on the widget. So, you say, why didn't you try to fix it? I did.

First, I clicked on the widget which took me to a page that required I sign into I Tunes. No problem. When I Tunes opened, it promptly told me there was an update. I hate those things - time wasters. Companies should arrange that updates are done at 2AM and automatically, so they don't waste your time. Of course I want the update! So I went through that - 10 minutes of download followed by the inexorable, "you must reboot your computer". After another 5 minutes of shut down and restart (the new Vista is slower than molasses), I begin again.

Click on widget, go to page that requests I open I Tunes. I open I Tunes. Now the widget page tells me to "sign in" and click on "Enable My Tunes". This is only the first step of three, but I can go no further.

I try to sign into I Tunes and I keep getting a message that the connection is broken - to check my network settings, etc. However, I can go everywhere else on the internet - just not I Tunes. Since I can't sign in, I guess I'll never know where "Enable My Tunes" is.

I wonder if I'll ever be able to buy music again. Maybe I'll have to buy somewhere else, but that will screw up what I own in I Tunes - they can't be mixed. Sigh.

I need to go out and buy an old fashioned turn table (which, incidentally, Target is selling as a novelty item) and some records - and forget about this whole on-line thing. You buy the music, but you can only make 4 copies of it and you can't mix it with songs bought from somewhere else.

I bet that latest update messed everything up. Perhaps the next update will fix it. In any case, I'm over the widget thing - I just deleted it from my page and life goes on.

It's Wednesday!

Good morning I spoke to my sister that lives in the NE last night. She had spoken to my mother that day and the news was both sad and funny. My father refuses to eat. He didn't have much taste left before all this happened because of - the Dr.'s believe - type II diabetes induced neuropathy. So now that he is unable to get around and in a place he doesn't like where the food is REALLY not palatable - he doesn't want to eat. This is also a common occurrence among those elderly who are preparing to die, either consciously or unconsciously. He is fairly lucid in that he can understand what is being said and react to it, although he can't put a whole sentence together. When I was there on a pretty good day last Saturday, he would be listening to you for a moment and then his eyes would "turn off" - they would fix on nothing and you could see it was as if he had fallen asleep with his eyes open. This whole dying experience is very strange - and I'm watching it all very carefully, applying the precepts I've learned from my Bible study over the years - and wondering what is really happening in there - by which I mean inside my father's soul. Of course, I'm doing this because someday, if the Rapture doesn't occur, I will be in similar circumstances. We all die - none of us makes it off this planet alive.

Oh - the funny part? My mother told my father that his daughters love him. His response? "Well, I should hope so." I think that answer illustrates that a big part of what made my father the person he was is gone. It seems an answer he would have given in the past if he were being told about a stranger and their family, not his own family. One day recently a nurse came in to give him some sort of heart test - and when she approached him and told him what she was doing, after being prodded for a moment he said, "I expect I'll have to", with a look that was somewhat resigned. But what struck me is that he spends most of his time "off" somewhere - and when someone forces him back to physical reality, he responds with resignation and some surprise as if he had just woken up.

This whole experience is teaching me something I thought I knew already, but now I REALLY know it - that the things the human race thinks are important are a joke. It absolutely amazes me that people can be so stupid. None of us are going to live a terribly long life - not like in Genesis, where the first people racked up 800 and 900 years! We have at most, about 80 good years if the gene pool crap shoot isn't against us and we survive the rest of the gauntlet that is daily life. So really - what is it all about? God has the answers in the Bible. Abraham and David went to be "with their fathers" as we will, awaiting the eternal future God has for all human beings. Even famous people like Presidents die. Yes, we remember George Washington, but what good does that do for George Washington? I could see if every time someone thought about you, it brought you back to life for that time - people would go nuts trying to make sure they were remember by everyone. There would be agencies whose whole purpose was to recall your name constantly so you could continue existing somehow. But that is not how it works.

When I go to work today, I will be amongst hundreds of people, most jockeying for power and importance, stepping on others where expedient for them. And for what? All of them will be where my father is in not too many years - or a similar experience. Were some of the people in wheelchairs that I saw the other day at the nursing home "important" during their lives? Were some administrators or other types that have power over other human lives? If so, look where they are now - their former power is gone and they have been equalized. It doesn't much matter there whether you are male or female anymore. You are another old person needing care. Period. All the gender based nonsense and work based nonsense, all the sex and dreams of success - is in the past for these people. Only eternity awaits.

As I go about my job today, I'll be shaking my internal head at the antics I see. I've always done that anyway, but with my father's approaching death, it is even more so. The reality of our lives doesn't make me want to shove as much "fun" as possible into the rest of my alloted days - it makes me want to, more than ever, make the days count for eternity - to do God's will to the best of the ability He gives me, until the end. Nothing else has any meaning whatever. Nothing.

Monday, October 1, 2007

God's Timing

I do want to say that the Lord has blessed us in the midst of our difficulties. My father is in a nursing home - and it is pretty much the only one in the area where they live. Yet, the workers there are compassionate and the place is very nice, comforting even. I witnessed one of the nurses being very kind and loving. There was a man in a wheelchair (they're all in wheelchairs - more on that in a minute) and he had a full head of fluffy white hair spiking in all directions - you could see he had been quite good looking at one time. She walked up to him and began smoothing his hair gently and talking to him about combing his hair. She didn't have to do that, but she did - and for a while. He closed his eyes and just enjoyed the touch, the touch that so many old people don't get.

When I first walked into the main hallway of the place, heading to my father's room where he is bedridden at present, I was presented with a gauntlet of old people in wheelchairs scattered all over the hallway from one end to the other, in various positions - facing sideways, forward, backward - and most of them were not moving, or moving very slowly. It looked like a very messy, disarrayed race. Many were bent over or hunched one way or the other and all were dressed in an odd assortment of clothing - red hats, bonnets, sweaters, slippers - hair every which way. As I walked past them, they stared at me - and I stared back. I wanted to make eye contact, say "hello", let them know I knew they existed, if that helped at all. I smiled, but most just continued staring, not smiling. They knew they were on home ground and I was the interloper. They were a tough audience. One woman asked if I could find someone because she had to go to the bathroom - and I hurried off to find a nurse who could assist her. Luckily, one was right down the hall and she went to help. Another man just wanted to be turned in another direction in his wheelchair.

My husband said the most descriptive thing of all - they reminded him of turtles on their backs. Poor, disabled, helpless turtles on their backs, unable to flip.

One woman kept trying to go into the room my father was in. When I mentioned it to a nurse, I was told she likes to "plunder". She opens all the closets and drawers and pulls everything out and puts it in her lap. It was funny and sad at the same time. This was one of the people that did not smile when I smiled at her and said, "hello".

Another woman asked a nurse, "has my daughter been here today?" and the nurse said, "I have no idea, dear." This particular nurse did not seem kind like the others - she seemed to be resentful - but she was the only one, thank God. I wonder if the woman asking has a short memory, so she can't remember if her daughter visited, or if her daughter truly comes, but doesn't stop to see her mother.....

In any case, I hate to leave my father in that place, as if nobody cares for him. We DO!! We just have no other recourse right now. My poor mother was in tears and told me how horrible she felt leaving him there - in such a "foreign" feeling place. Obviously - it's not home.

At one point during me and my sister's visit with my father, he looked around and said, "I keep trying to figure out where the hell this place is!" and we told him he was in the hospital in the town he knows he lives in. A few minutes later he asked again, unsure because it all seemed so unfamiliar.

If I had a million dollars, I'd have a house where my father could live with a nurse to take care of him 24 hours a day - and where all his daughters could visit him and my mother could live and be with him. It would feel like home, and I could visit him and read to him and play music for him.

Right now, I live 2 1/2 hours aways from my parents, and it is a brutal drive back and forth to visit. There is a train that travels to a point 30 miles north of where they are, but that doesn't help, because if we don't drive, how do we get from the train station to where we need to be? Sigh.

God IS blessing us, however. I can't tell you how awful some nursing homes are, although most people know. This one is not bad. My mother goes to visit every day - it seemed to me many of the people in the home where my father is don't have anyone to look after them - but I don't know that for sure.

This is all part of the "march" of life. We start out as babies, grow into children, grow up, marry, have children of our own - and then stand as our parents age and pass on. In my more depressed moments, I think of it as a conveyer belt. You hop on at birth, and it keeps moving until you reach the end, where you fall off at death. But I don't believe death is the end. It is just the shedding of this human "tent" for the eternal. And the eternal looks better every day, the longer I spend on this planet. Even so, Lord Jesus, come - that's my cry.


My favorite season has always been Autumn. Since I grew up in the Northeast, a visit to the local apple orchard in late September and October was mandatory. The smell of the apples, the pumpkins, the crisp air and startling blue sky are memories that will be with me forever. So far, every year, my husband and I have managed a trip to the Smoky Mountains for the mountain autumn experience reminiscent of my upstate New York childhood. This year, finally, we may fly up for a long weekend to New York itself. I'm not a fan of flying, and I've always loved the drive to North Carolina. We've traditionally driven up the center of Florida and Georgia on I-75 and we've seen cotton fields and pecan trees for the first time. Last year, I stopped and picked cotton to bring home as a memento. The Mister was amazed at how obvious cotton is as a textile. It's not like flax, which took a lot of imagination to turn into cloth. Cotton just bursts right out there and looks like it needs to be spun and woven.

Since we've been married, I've wanted very much to show the Mister my home town. Where I went to school, the house I grew up in (even though it is owned by others now.....a strange thought since my father built it himself - it seems wrong somehow). I want to show him New Paltz - a quaint college town that started out as a Huguenot haven in the 1600's. I want him to drive to the top of Cragsmoor with me - a drive I've taken since I was 16 years old. There is an old Methodist church at the top on the edge of a cliff that overlooks mountains, and it is a beautiful place. We're making plans now to see if we can do this in the midst of what is happening to my father.

He is in a nursing home at this point. He can't walk, but he was much more lucid when I went to visit last weekend. He had an infection, which may have made him foggy, but we just don't know. There are many problems with the whole situation. He doesn't want to eat - and I don't blame him. The food is less than desirable. He isn't clear all the time on where he is. He dearly wants to be at home - always has, as we all would - but my mother can't take care of a helpless 187 pound 6' tall man, and we don't have the money for private care in-home. I know money can't buy happiness, but it sure could make my father's last days a lot better for him and my mother.....but it's no use going down that road. If there is one thing this family doesn't have - and according to family records - never had....it's money. So it's one day at a time with his situation. After 20 days in the nursing home, medicare no longer covers full payment, and we still have to find out if my parents' insurance covers it at all. My sister, who worked in insurance for a few years, says it is rare for health insurance to cover nursing home care. Like so much of life - it figures. You spend thousands of dollars making sure you have insurance - and it doesn't cover what you need. After all, insurance companies are out to make money - that is their first concern...not their customers.

Knowing how this world is makes me long for heaven - and short of that, a quick weekend trip to the past and to the most beautiful season of the year - autumn.

Friday, September 21, 2007


My father is 88 years old and he is failing rapidly. He and my mother both have had wonderful health all their lives - and for my father, that has drawn to a close. Last spring, his artificial knee got infected and it had to be cleaned out. The two surgeries that ensued and the rehabilitation and enforced hospital stay nearly killed him then, but he got better. He never really regained his earlier health, but he was able to live independently for at least this past year since then. He was diagnosed with Type II diabetes about 5 years ago, and since then, his eyesight has rapidly declined, which was the beginning of his trials. He would lament at length about how he just couldn't get over the loss of sight in one eye.

In August - August 10 - my mother and father celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. My father was barely able to get around, and had already begun to fail in a more rapid manner. Yet all three daughters came, one from NY State, and we went out to dinner. Compared to 10 years before, I couldn't help thinking how much had changed for all of us.

Now, it's September and my father is barely able to get out of bed. He can't sit in his favorite chair because he can't get out of it. My mother, who is 9 years his junior, has cared for him all this time, but is rapidly reaching the time when she just can't do it anymore. Add this to the fact that it was just found out through a cat scan that my father has been having many small strokes - that's why he has gone downhill so rapidly in the past 3 months - I think his time of crossing over is very near (and I hope it is since I don't want him or my mother to suffer any more of this debilitation).

Since they live 2 hours away from me, I can't be of much help very often - not every day as I'd like.

So, as I sit here trying to face what is before me, I remember my father.

When I remember things, I see it all so vividly. I can see the bars of my crib and
I'm standing up, looking over the edge. My crib is in my parent's bedroom in the house my father built in Middletown, NY. It is a split level house in a new neighborhood. In 1956, when the house was being built (and the year I was born) there were no trees yet, but that changed quickly. As I'm leaning over my crib, I see my father standing in the open door of the closet of their bedroom - to my left. He has on a light blue plaid short sleeved summer shirt, and he is singing "Home On the Range" to me. I can see it as clearly as if it were yesterday. He is young, dark-haired and handsome, and the closet light is on - it is late in the day. Perhaps he is trying to sing me to sleep.

Another time, company was at our house. My mother's sister and her husband, my aunt Josephine and Uncle Chester, who lived in Jacksonville, FL. were up visiting. I was maybe 5 years old, and I always had to go to bed at 7PM, even in summer when it didn't get dark until 9 at night. Everyone seemed to be having such a great time this evening, and the lazy summer sun was still coming strong through the windows of the bedroom, but off to bed I was trundled. I didn't mind so much because I was sleeping on the floor of my parent's bedroom so that the company could have the other bedrooms - and I thought this was exciting. I also felt so safe sleeping in their room.

I remember playing outside all day until finally it was time to come in, eat supper and take a bath before bed. I remember the feel of the hot water after a day of hard play, and the soft crisp clean smell of fresh pajamas after the bath.

My mother ironed our sheets - isn't that odd? They were washed and hung outside to dry, so that they absorbed the country air. Then she ironed them. Climbing in between those pristine white sheets that smelled like the summer breeze was heavenly. Combine that with the bath and the clean pajamas and it was home. Wonderful childhood home.

My dad taught me to pray the Our Father. I might have been 3 or 4 years old. I can remember he and I sitting on the concrete steps behind our dining room, facing the back yard. I remember thinking how serious he was and that this was important to learn.

I used to wake up - to me - in the middle of the night, and find everyone else in bed except my father. He was downstairs in the "playroom" watching Johnny Carson perhaps. I would climb up in his lap and go back to sleep and he would sit there with me until he was ready to go upstairs to bed himself, and he'd carry me up with him. So long ago. I'm 51 now, so it's a very long time ago indeed.

I want to record more of my memories of my father, my mother and my childhood. Stay tuned for more nostalgia.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


So, here I am at work. It's 12:27 (I have 3 hours until I can go home) and things are slow - obviously, since I'm posting. It's pouring out and more rain is expected.
There's something nice about a rainy day. I grew up in the Northeast, so rainy/cloudy/snowy days are pretty common. It's too dreary in the Northeast - too many of those dark days, but in Florida, which is usually relentlessly sunny, it's a break to have a rainy day. It's like a ticket to do nothing. You don't really want to drive anywhere unless you have to. You don't feel like you should be working in the garden or starting any complicated projects. You have weather "permission" to just lie around, read, snooze - and just enjoy indoorness. I like that occasionally. When it's sunny out, it's beautiful here, but I think, "I should be pulling more morning glory vines down"..."I should be riding my bike, pulling weeds, painting walls, etc. etc. etc."

So, at 3:30, when I break loose from here and head home - I hope it's pouring so I can just turn into a giant veggie, reading blogs and books - and snoozing in between.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Dennis Morgan and Gordon MacRae

OK - so you're dying to know what Dennis Morgan and Gordon MacRae looked and sounded like back in the good ole' days.

Well - here's Dennis Morgan.......sigh.

Dennis Morgan played the sailor heartthrob in the holiday movie, "Christmas In Connecticut" - one of my favorite holiday movies. I never liked Barbara Stanwyck much - she plays the female love interest, but even so, I love this movie. I would have gone loony over Dennis Morgan myself.

And now - here's Gordon MacRae (I just learned how to embed the video in the blog so you don't have to click and go there....)

Gordon MacRae as Billy Bigelow, trying to go straight because he thinks he's going to have a child.....this is the most touching song from "Carousel".

And finally - my mother and father long before they thought of being anyone's parents....in their dating days - circa 1946 or 1947.....

Do you wonder why I thought Mr. Morgan and Mr. MacRae were so handsome? The three of them might have been brothers - my dad and those two actor/singers. My father could sing, too. He was in the choir in college along with my mother (where they met), and he used to play piano - the Moonlight Sonata was his specialty. It's too bad maybe that Hollywood never got a good look at him, because they'd have slapped him in pictures so fast.....and my mom would have had to marry someone else (although she could have been in movies, too) - and then, where would I be? But anyway, you can see what I'm talking about here.

On The Mend

I haven't been feeling well, so I haven't posted for a little while. I ate something I shouldn't and it most definitely disagreed with me.

In any case, I'm feeling better and I added another "widget" to my sidebar. It's the Itunes Widget. It's supposed to show my favorite music choices, but it only seems to include the purchases I made today, which was all early 1950's. I have lots more favorites than that!!

I also downloaded some 1950's Cuban music - I was selective, though. The loud repetitive horn music I skipped - I opted for ballads with guitar. I have to find more since the few I found were beautiful. I want to look up the lyrics and see if I can find a translation - such as, for Guantanamera, one of my favorites. When I did a search in Itunes for Guantanamera, there were over 50 choices, but most of them were too brassy, too upbeat. I remember the folksy rendition from the 1960's and, although I couldn't find that particular one, I found a few that were close, although I didn't choose Pete Seeger's recording - he doesn't sound authentically Spanish.

OK - I looked up Guantanamera. There is a lot of argument about who actually wrote it. The consensus is that it was a popular melody, like a folk tune - and Jose Marti's poetry was put to it as lyrics.

The other story is that there was a man on the radio,who is the "official" composer according to the Cuban Supreme Court in 1993 - Jose Fernandez Diaz - who put different lyrics to the song all the time, reflecting news stories of the day. He is credited with having begun this in 1929. Since no one is really sure this is the case, he is the first to make the song famous, anyway.

The original lyrics, as written by Fernandez, are about a man who has a girlfriend and he makes a pass at another girl - the original girlfriend sees him, gets disgusted and leaves him. She is the Guajira Guantanamera - peasant girl from Guantanamo.

When the song is sung with the haunting poetry of Jose Marti, and the refrain is sung - literally "peasant girl from Guantanamo" - it doesn't make much sense, but it sure is beautiful. What do I think? I think it was a popular country tune in Cuba in the early 1900's - and the lyrics were about the guy who made his Guajira Guantanamera angry by flirting with another. The song was then hijacked for political purposes and entertainment value.

I found the original on Youtube - it's by the Sandpipers.

There's also a really bad TV show in Miami called, El Show de Fernando Hidalgo. It's fascinating in it's tackiness. There are overweight young girls, probably relatives of workers on the show, dressed in spangled thongs and short tops, dancing as the equally chubby band of spandexed women and scruffy men play Cuban music, sing and shake their hips. This is where they use the song Guantanamera in the same fashion as Jose Fernandez Diaz - they sing the news headlines each day and punctuate these with the chorus, "Guajira Guanatamera". Interesting, in a cultural sort of way - they must have gotten the idea from the old Cuban radio personality. I can't help but watch this show once I happen to come across it while flicking through channels - I can't take my eyes off the bad costumes and the healthy dancing girls. I don't like the show's host - he strikes me as a used car salesman dirty old man with shortness issues (he's shorter than just about everybody on the show, including the young girls) - and something tells me he's as devious and petty as he looks.

Here's some more Spanish music I downloaded. I can't put the music files on here, but Youtube, being the marvelous tool that it is, has just about everything. This is from a Spanish movie in 1951, called Anna - I think the song is called "El Negro Zumbon!"

I also downloaded two more songs from an album called, "Havana 1950" which I cannot find on Youtube, but if you go to this website, and click on the song, "Aprende A Elegir", you will not regret it. The slight crackling hiss in the background sounds old and makes me think of an early 1900's overcolorized view of Havana.

Click on "La Envida" also. Even though you only get a snippet of the song, it sounds like old Cuba - I can smell the flowers and see the bright colors (and it helps that I live in South Florida which is only 90 miles from Cuba and looks a lot like it in places.....)

The last song I like on the album is "Cuarto de Hotel". The rest I don't care for, even if they are very Cuban.

Well, I'm off to Itunes again. I looked up Gordon MacRae to see if there was anything by him I liked. He has my all time favorite male voice. He was the lead in the Broadway musical (about disfunctional and abusive relationships in Maine) called "Carousel". I joke about the plot line, but I adore the music. When I first saw the movie, I was a young teenager and it struck me right in the romantic tragedy zone of my young adolescent heart. Then, when my two older sisters played the two lead female parts in their high school play, it engraved the songs and lyrics on my heart. I still love to listen to it - but only if Gordon MacRae is singing. The second runner up to Gordon is Dennis Morgan, of "Christmas in Connecticut" circa 1945 fame. He was handsome too, as was Gordon MacRae. They're my all time favorites - perfect looks and perfect voices......sigh. Hey - I wonder if Dennis Morgan has anything on Itunes.....

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Just A Little Peek in the Window

I am SO happy to have a three day weekend this weekend. Last week was very difficult in some ways, but a wonderful thing happened that made all the difference in the world.

First, I think I had a mild stomach virus - no vomiting, thank God, but you know the other end alternative, right? I had that. Also, constant low range nausea. I just didn't feel right. Thankfully, I wasn't hungry and believe I lost maybe 1 or 2 pounds. I'm trying to eat more sensibly anyway, so the virus helped. I was also exhausted, but the big problem was emotional and spiritual. Wednesday, I got up, stood in the shower, and wondered how I was going to make it through the day, and then the day after that, and the day after that. In my head all my problems marched before my eyes with no relief in sight and I felt, literally, overwhelmed by it. Couple that with feeling physically under the weather, and I was filled with despair. I tried to apply Biblical principals and promises from God's Word to the situation and it just didn't cut it.

I finished my shower and was sitting down, finalizing my work preparations, feeling absolutely awful, when a piece of paper was slipped under the bathroom door. I wondered what note my husband was sending me (he does that sometimes) - I figured it was some article he wanted me to read and couldn't wait until I came out.

But, no. It was John 15:16:
"You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and (V)bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that (W)whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you."

Now I know you must consider context, but when I read the words "You did not choose Me, I chose you" - it was as if God was speaking directly to me. In all of the mess and worry, fear and dread, He was reminding me that I am His. I was feeling very much a failure, that my life would just continue to spiral down and I should do something to stop it - and He reminded me that He chose me. He didn't have to choose me, but He did. I can say I don't understand why and mean it, but that doesn't change the fact.

I did read the rest of the verse - I'm chosen to bear fruit, and that means to cast my burdens on Him and ask Him for the strength to move forward and make the right decisions - so that I do bear fruit.

This may not seem like much of a big deal to you, but God knew what would comfort me at just the right time.

The minute I read that verse, tears filled my eyes and I felt totally relieved. He (meaning God) isn't "mad at me" for being such a dolt in so many ways - and that note under the door put me back on track.

My husband also wrote some applications of the verse underneath it, but what literally knocked me upside the head was reading that verse.

I am convinced that God used my husband and His Word to comfort me. I asked the Mr. what prompted him to give me the verse and notes - he had not done anything like this in a very long time. He said he was doing his morning Bible reading and this verse just "struck him" and he decided to pass it on to me. Yes, he knows I'm worried and upset, but he's given me other comforting words before, even from the Bible, and it hasn't made the difference this did.

So, if I say; God spoke to me - in a way, He did - through his Word and through a wonderful husband.

And now I'm on my 3 day weekend, the Mr. and I conquered the totally unkempt back yard, which looked like Tarzan might swing in any moment, and here I am, comfortable, comforted and looking forward to another day sleeping in tomorrow.

May your weekend (if you have the weekend off, if not - whatever days you do get off) be wonderful.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Front Yard Photos

Here are some photos from the front yard for a change. They are photos of droplets after a rain and a very tiny purple and green bug - the color isn't very evident in the photos, but he/she/it really was purple and green - who knew something SO tiny could be so beautiful! The yellow flowers are allamanda. I love to do macrophotography, or at least this is my attempt at it.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Great Story

If you love historic fiction, then go here and read this true story about one of Manatee County, Florida's founders.
There is a lot of other information on the internet if you become interested in researching the characters in the story further. Since that is my modus operandi, I have been scouring the net looking for traces of our heroine, her family and other persons in the tale.
The writer is a kindred spirit, I think, although I've never met her. She loves history, as do I, but most importantly, she is a Christian. That makes us sisters in Christ. The story she is writing doesn't leave out the faith of the characters (that was much more open and acknowledged by the general populace than today), or their flaws. For instance, many Manatee county natives know of the "castle" built by Dr. Braden back in the mid 1800's. If you visit the ruins, you will read about who Dr. Braden was - a pillar of the community, a Dr., etc. But you may not read about his slaves - or if you do, it will be glossed over as just another bit of information.
That's what I love most about this story. The author is teaching me a Christian lesson as I read the history - that is the lesson of trusting God, the journey of faith that a believer goes through as trouble and heartache touch his life - and the best part of all - this is a true story.
So, go and enjoy - so far there are 51 chapters! I took one whole day when I first found this blog, to read up to chapter 45. Since then, I've waited with baited breath for each new installment.
I have also always loved reading about the land before men came and settled it, whether the US East Coast, or the journey of Lewis and Clark in the west - and the way Florida looked before it was bulldozed, canaled and concreted. I once read in another piece of Florida history that below Lake Okeechobee there were moon vines growing in the trees so thickly that you could walk on top of the trees as if on a giant rug for miles. I cannot even imagine this, since now, the area below Lake Okeechobee is farming country, and the lake itself is surrounded by a dike. Oh, to have seen Florida in those days. There are photos of Coconut Grove with only one dirt road and the knowledge that panthers could be in the thick tropical trees anywhere. This story, "Eliza's Story", then, is another glimpse of a part of Florida before development. Florida in it's natural state - I can only sit back, close my eyes and imagine how beautiful it was.
I love it when I find such a, for me, perfect blog. History, Christianity, a great story - it's like coming home!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Back Yard Photos

I love to photograph insects and flowers. This morning, when my husband and I were about to leave the house for Target to get a new bicycle pump, I noticed this green fellow just sitting on the outside wall of the house. Here are two views of him - click on them for a larger view.

Next, when we got back from the store, I went into the backyard and took some pictures of a knight anole lizard that loves to hang out in our bushes.

It looks like he's playing hide and seek - actually, he wants me to go away....

Next these flowers from a weed that grows everywhere in South Florida - the seeds can be used to make one of the deadliest poisons known to man - ricin - but I just like the flowers, and keep the one bush of it cut back so that it doesn't take over.

Then there is my Lantana from the Everglades - we just uprooted a wild bush and replanted it in our yard - the butterflies love it.

Last but not least, another wild bush from the Everglades - Beautyberry. The birds love these berries and I love the color. We uprooted this also and replanted it in our back yard.

My favorite colors together in art and nature are purple and green. Those colors make my heart sing and my eyes jump for joy!

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Haven't Disappeared

I'm still here. I'm just a bit overwhelmed at present, but I hope to post more LaVerne memorabilia tomorrow.....

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

8 Things

Even though I wasn't "tagged" specifically, I'm going to participate in the "8 things about myself" meme, if I can think of 8 things that won't put people to sleep - or myself, for that matter.
1. I was born in upstate New York in the Catskill Mountains and I've never gotten over trying to get back to an area like that, with hills and trees and seasons - I presently live in South Florida, which, while quite beautiful in places, is overcrowded and crime-ridden, not to mention no hills and no seasons to speak of - plus it's WAY too expensive.
2a. Have I mentioned I want to move desperately? Anywhere in the Appalachians would do, and I'd consider most other places as long as they have hills, 4 seasons and pretty trees in abundance. Unfortunately, my husband wants to move to Boise, ID. Period. No where else. Just Boise. Meanwhile, we're middle aged, close to normal retirement age (although it looks like we'll never be able to retire financially) - and it's not a good age to look for new jobs......sigh.
2b. I LOVE kitties - I have 4 cats - Neko (named by my daughter - the Japanese word for "cat", Squeebles, Buster and Junior Beans).
3. As another meme-answerer noted - I too have trouble trusting God. My excuse? I also have a distant family. Just not close at all, except for one sister, plus, my father was a rage-a-holic when I was small. He also tried to apologize whenever he lost his temper and hit us, so it wasn't as bad as it could have been.
4. I love history. My favorite times are delving into the history of some place or person I've been reading about. If you go back a post or two, you'll read all about the genealogy of Ruth Bell Graham - why, you may ask, did I get interested in that? Well, I admired her greatly - and read the story of her father - "A Foreign Devil in China" - and I ran amok from there.
5. At night when I go to sleep, I imagine I'm in another place - in a cabin all snug with snow outside perhaps - and I fall asleep noting all the details - what color are the quilts, what is the scene out the window, the fireplace, etc. Sometimes I try to imagine living in a huge treehouse and how I'd design it. I don't know where this habit of imagining came from, but it works, as bizarre as it might be.
6. I was married 14 years to husband #1 and divorced in 1993. My first husband left me and I raised my only child, my daughter, myself - with a distant family, it was very difficult. I met my present husband in 1994, but we didn't get married until my daughter graduated from high school and went to college.
7. I'm running out of things. I'm overweight and I hate it, but I also hate diets and fads. Add to that the fact that my job is sitting at a desk all day, and I hate to exercise - well, it doesn't bode well for weight loss.
8. I became a Christian in 1974, when a fellow college friend witnessed to me. It was the time of Jesus freaks - so I remember some of the same things as this lovely lady-blogger.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Follow This Trail

I know I'm a compulsive historian and archeologist. After all, my mother caught me trying to dig in the back yard to find lost cities when I was either 8 or 9 years old.

If you read this blog, you'll note that I wrote some about Ruth Bell Graham. Well, when I'm interested in a subject, I'm nothing if not thorough in my compulsion.

I read her biography and I ordered a package of CD's and a matching book called "Ruth Graham, A Pilgrim Journey", which I thoroughly enjoyed.

I found on my book shelf, and dusted off, a copy of the biography of her father, Nelson Bell, "A Foreign Devil In China."

I started reading this book about her father - and the beginning makes lots of references to Virginia ancestry and places. Being a compulsive researcher, I immediately turned to the internet to find places and people - more info, if you will, on what was in the book.

First, I found Belvidere Plantation which, unfortunately, is for sale. Belvidere Plantation is where Nelson Bell's (Ruth Bell Graham's father, the Chinese medical missionary) mother grew up. Her name was Ruth Lee (a lot of children had a middle name of Lee in those days - 1860's - for Robert E. Lee, although there was no family relationship) McCue. She was the daughter of Thomas McCue and Elizabeth Wilson. She was also the lady for whom Ruth Bell Graham was named.

When you go to the Belvidere Plantation web site, make sure you take the virtual tour. You will see something very important in the "parlor".

You will see the three steps and the double window in the "parlor" in the virtual tour. Read this document about Ann Allen. Pay attention to the reference to Belvidere Plantation at the bottom. You may ask, "what has Ann Allen, the woman for whom Ann Arbor, Michigan was named, have to do with Nelson Bell?" Well - her entire name was Ann Isabella Barry McCue. Note the McCue. Her son was Thomas McCue, who built Belvidere Plantation, and the memory of her granddaughter (most likely Nelson Bell's mother?) of hearing her grandmother, Ann Barry McCue, read to her in her mother's room - the present "parlor" - is pretty cool. She recalls coming in and sitting on the three steps by the double window to hear her grandmother read. Remember, Ann Barry McCue died in 1875 - so this would have taken place before then! And there it is in the virtual tour - the steps and the window.

When I find things like this, it just lights me up. I can't explain it - I connect dots that no one else has connected, and I LOVE it.
I read the above document all the way through, and John Marshall McCue was indeed, Ann Barry McCue Allen's first son, the alcoholic.

Meanwhile, at another web site, "Valley of the Shadow", about the Civil War, there are letters from John M. McCue (Thomas' brother) that mention an Anna Barry. If you read this document to the end, you'll see that John's brother Thomas had married in 1844 and had a daughter he named Anna Barry. At the beginning of the sentence in the letter mentioning Anna Barry, John says "Ma" has some physical ailments. "Ma" would be Ann Isabella Barry McCue Allen, the great grandmother of Lemuel Nelson Bell, Ruth Bell Graham's father.

There's also a list of books Mr. McCue wishes to purchase - and being the thorough wacko that I am, I looked for some of the titles on abebooks.com. I found one of the most interesting titles "Woman and Her Master" - a copy from 1855, which would seem to be the book Mr. McCue wanted - what could he want with that book? I could not find "Cummings on the Apocalypse", although I tried - and I may try again.....

Here's a letter which refers to someone whose finances are less than desirable - something that happened to Ann's son, John, who lost everything and was the alcoholic.

In fact, go back to the list of letters - doesn't it seem that things are getting worse financially for Mr. John McCue? People are writing to ask that their debts be paid - and he pays in potatoes? Doesn't sound good.

Oh - and for those of you who want an aerial view of the Belvidere property, go here. Go in close and switch to "aerial view" and you'll see the rectangular property with mowed fields all around next to the red star - that's Belvidere Plantation - 705 Knightly Lane.

So here I am, picturing the legacy of the Bells, back to McCue and Barry, a legacy that spreads to Michigan and the naming of a major city, and then to pre WWII China for missionary work. I just wish someone from the McCue family would buy the property - I think it is infinitely sad that after 150 years of being in the family, it goes to whomever will buy it. Luckily, it is designated a historic place in Virginia - I think that protects it.

Well - I'm off to bed now. I have to come away from the vivid past and climb into bed in preparation for another day of work tomorrow. Like my daughter says, I just LOVE to research a subject to DEATH!!