JUST ANOTHER REASON TO COME TO FLORIDA

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When I am lucky enough to be here in Florida for a few months each year there are always plenty of reasons for me to make a statement of love for my adopted state. It isn’t that I love Michigan any the less, as there are numerous reasons for me to care for the state that I was fortunate enough to be born in. Where else can I enjoy Lake Michigan, the lakes, the boating, canoeing, and the fantastic sunsets. The variety of plants, the farms filled with orchards or cattle or fields of corn or wheat are everywhere. The land of Hiawatha, all of the Great Lakes, the miles and miles of forests filled with trails and lakes and bicycles paths. I love Michigan and in harvest season there is no place I would rather be.
In Colorado where I lived for quite a while there were the mountains and the clear air and the feeling that you could reach up to the sky for your Maker. There was a sense of adventure, a new place that many Americans have traveled to for the last few centuries. It was a place where I felt at home from the very first altho it was very different from Michigan. But life intervened and I eventually returned to the state of my birth, Michigan. I became a part of the orchards and the farms and the forests again, and I loved it.
Now here I am today, in Florida, and the weather channel says we are going to get some solid rain and thunderstorms this afternoon. We are rejoicing because our lawns, our gardens, and our crops, all need the refreshing rainfall. It is strawberry season in Florida and heaven has arrived. Imagine living where the markets and stores are filled with fresh, local strawberries, every day for weeks. Strawberry shortcake every day if you are so disposed to do so. Festivals will abound for shortcake or sundaes all around the surrounding area.
There will be specials in the restaurants and also Church festivals. People will relax and enjoy the products that our local farmers have provided for us. Each year people dream of coming to Florida to soak up in the sun and get warm again. But one of the things that should bring them here in February is the sweet succulent strawberry and the shortcake that follows it.
Maybe our state planners should decide that when they next advertise for Northerners to visit us, they should mention the beautiful strawberry. Nothing could show off our state in a better way than to mention the fresh fruits and vegetables that are fresh off of a local farm. Fresh tomatoes in February? There is no way for anyone to compete with that.
We had fresh tomato and bacon sandwiches for lunch today. Come on down, our dear neighbors to the North, and we will welcome you with the best shortcake in the country to be had, and it is all here waiting for you.
Ah, the rain is about here, and the strawberries will continue to ripen and we will be thankful for Florida. Strawberries, another reason to be grateful in a wonderful state.

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INSPIRATION

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Thinking about a new word today – inspiration. A long word for a sizable subject, you might say.
To inspire is to fill someone with the urge or ability to do or feel something, especially something creative.
Most of us can look back at our own lives and find someone or something that inspired us in a positive way. In the early years it may have been a parent or a special teacher in our grade schools.
As we grew up our horizons became broadened. We listened to speeches or we read books that were very significant to us. We had special authors that inspired us to look at many new and unknown subjects. It might have been a musician or a sports figure that we followed their every word. We wanted to be just like they were, or maybe even better.
I submit to you that as adults, and also as creative writers we all have the ability to inspire the generations coming up behind us. We have the innate ability to show them that each of them is capable of bringing joy into their lives by the way they choose to live, and the choices that they make. We know that what we put into our minds will be reflected all around us and it is up to us to inspire our families and friends by living a life that they will wish to emulate.
Words, either written or spoken can inspire others and we want only the best for the people who listen to us or read our words. So it is our pleasure to remember that someday we may be the ones that are the inspiration for young lives just as our heroes and heroines were for us. It is an awesome responsibility, and one we shouldn’t take too lightly.

MUSIC, MUSIC, MUSIC

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“Put another nickel in, in the nickelodeon,
All I want is loving you, and music, music, music!”
These are the words that popped into my mind when I started thinking about writing an article about music! This song, written by Stephen Weiss and Bernie Baum in 1949, was very popular when I was growing up. Teresa Brewer put out the biggest version of it in 1950. At that time, whenever one singer got a big hit, every other singer followed it up with their own special version. The minute I would hear it on the radio I would start singing right along with it. Teresa was at the top of the charts for many years with her bouncy style of music. She was a very small girl, but filled with energy and people loved her.
In my teens there was hardly ever a time when I didn’t have the radio or my phonograph turned on. The first thing I bought with my library job was a 3 speed record player and it cost $60. Since I was making 60 cents an hour you can see that I really felt it was worth it for me to have my own music. As the years went by I acquired quite a few long playing 33 speed albums.
Singing in our church choir for many years, taking piano lessons for seven years, listening to the radio constantly, my life has always been filled with music. Now my laptop and my Ipad are filled with it. As I type here I am listening to Elton John singing “My Song”.
My Aunt Donnie played the piano beautifully and I wanted to be as accomplished as she was. For a long time I just played the piano by using my fingers and pretending on our kitchen table. My dad found a way to buy an old upright piano for $25, and then my mother figured out a way to pay for lessons for me at $1.00 a week. She gave up things that she needed so that I could have the lessons for a long time. Alas, tho I loved playing and practiced diligently, I never acquired the skill that my aunt had all of her life. My cousin, Carolyn played by ear, beautifully, which means she didn’t even need to see the notes, and I really envied that.
It is amazing how the words, music, music, bring back all of the memories of my life and how much of a part they played in it. Music, books, writing, the Internet, all have formed me into becoming the person that I am today. In our house my mother played mostly show tunes from Broadway, so I became a great fan of people like George Gershwin, and Rodgers and Hammerstein. Classical music also filled the air, mostly because my piano teacher gave me assignments of symphonies. And in later years I became an avid rock fan, and still to this day I play all of the greats of the 80s and 90s.
So I guess that I am a product of all of the years spent listening to radio and tv in all of its forms, and it has been a great pleasure for me. Many of the major events in my life can be brought back just by listening to a particular song, like “Rainy Days and Mondays” by the Carpenters.
We all seem to feel a special closeness to the singers who sang the songs that we have loved for a long time. When we hear of the untimely death of one of them, it is like a big chunk has been taken out of our lives. We smile thru the tears as we remember what it was like when we listened to them at a special time in our life. And we thank all of the songwriters who expressed our feelings so well as we listened to their music.
Thanks to the friend who suggested using Music as a subject to write about in our group. The words just came bubbling up like Teresa Brewer, Music, Music, Music. We owe a debt of gratitude to the ones who make us sing, or cry or smile as we remember. Music, one of the greatest pleasures in life.

JUST IMAGINE

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Just imagine. For months and months you have been saving every cent that you could, gone without that special sweater you wanted, put off buying anything that could be put off till next year, just so that you could have the vacation of your dreams, a week in sunny Florida, or Alabama, or even Louisiana. And you were going to have it in January so that you could escape your Northern home and the weather that everyone has to live with. You made plans for a new bathing suit, or at least you were going to dig out your shorts and your sleeveless tops, and you were going to really enjoy it. You knew that it might not be 80 degrees in the dead of winter, but at least it would be warm, warmer that is, than home. Your dreams of warmth, no boots, no gloves or mittens or scarves, all were going to come true for you.
On the plane you got, and off you flew. Wonderful. You arrived in Florida safely. And guess what arrived with you! A cold surge of air, actually a frigid atmosphere came right along and guess what, it stayed. It stayed and stayed. Florida residents began to grumble as they covered up their flowers to no avail. It got so cold that the colorful blooms became black overnight. The residents didn’t like the cold either, but the thing of it was, they knew it would eventually go away. It would warm up again, and it was just a temporary thing.
But you, you only had a week, and it stayed cold, got even colder. You really hadn’t brought along any clothes that would keep you warm in 30 degree weather. When the high temp is 45 that can be a problem. So out came the charge cards as you decided to buy a heavy sweater or jacket.
This started out to be a story about an event that has been happening this week. I am sure that lots of people that are here temporarily can relate to it. But I want to address the residents, the ones who will still be here when it warms up.
We are so lucky, the ones that are here for a few months or even the whole year. As we commiserate with our Northern friends let us remember back when it was us that had only one or two weeks vacation. We can smile even when we have a cold spell because we know that it will get better soon. So cheer up, our friends, someday you too will have the opportunity to visit a warmer place and you won’t be in a rush to get back home. Your turn will come and we will welcome you.