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.
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.
“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. 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.
Sitting here in a warm and very pleasant temperature on a sunny day here in Florida, tapping away at my laptop, I am reminded very vividly of an old song from my teenage years.
“What a difference a day makes, 24 little hours,”. I think that it was Jerry Lester, the early time comedian who sang it. A bit of trivia. Remember Dagmar, the blonde he admired?
Well, if 24 hours makes a difference, how about 24 years, or fifty years, or whatever figure you choose to pull out of your distant past? It is two days before Christmas, no matter where you are, and the chances are that you are scrambling to keep up with all of the things you have to do to get ready for the big day. Shopping for the big items on your list may have finally been done, but there are still all the little extras that you must get in order to make the coming holiday absolutely perfect. There is still that last minute trip to the grocery store, or maybe the meat market or fruit stand. All of the things that have been left to be done at the last minute are staring you right in the face and there is no more time to dilly dally around, you must do them right now.
The tree is looking gorgeous, full of old fashioned balls and lights that remind you of the childrens attempts to make the sparkling tree look like an event out of Fairyland. You remember all of the years they brought their ornaments right home from school and couldn’t wait to hang them on their very own tree. Some of the ornaments may have come from your own childhood of so long ago. It is a tree of memories, and especially for you who have lived thru them all.
If you have children impatiently waiting for the big day you are doubly blessed, because you can see the wonder of Christmas thru the eyes of a child.
As adults we become accustomed to the hustle and bustle and just want to get thru it as best we can. But as a little child is filled with the spirit of the big day there is a glow about them that brings happiness to everyone who is lucky enough to see it.
So why am I thinking about Christmas in a fond but distant manner as I sit here, typing away? It is because time passes and lives change, and days and years go by and nothing really seems to stay the same as we age. Our park is filled with a lot of happy and contented seniors who have chosen to spend a part of their lives in a warm and sunny climate. Sounds wonderful, and it is. Our children are happy for us that we have the opportunity to do this, and there is constant communication with each other thru the miracles of technology. We have plenty of things to enjoy here and no one seems to be complaining about the way our lives have developed.
But when a holiday looms before us, and we remember all of the days and years when we were the ones rushing thru the toy stores, finding just that perfect thing for eager hands to open on Christmas morning, the little thoughts tend to come creeping into our heads of when it was us that did all those things and made things work just right. Our memories will stay with us forever, we hope, and we know just how lucky we were to have made them. We are proud that our children have carried on our sense of making a happy and jolly Christmas for everyone.
Here in the park people will get together for the special day, and they will remember back when. Back when it was us staying up late at night, sewing doll clothes or putting a bike together after midnight, and we will rejoice that life goes on, as friends and family carry forth the Christmas spirit wherever they go.
So here is a Happy and joyous Christmas to all of our Facebook and Twitter friends, our families, and scattered old friends, no matter where you are, as we remember that Life goes on and we still have all of our memories. It is a good time to think back and reminisce about all of the people we have loved over the years.
I want to write.
I woke up in the middle of the night and all I can think about is, I want to write. I can see all of the shadows and the sparkles on the walls as the little blue light freshens up the room.
I don’t even know what I want to write about. I just want the heady feeling of the words pouring forth. I want to tell others that I am thinking about what is going on in my life, what is important to me, and how I feel about the world around me and what I can do to help it.
And all I know how to do is write my words about it. Does it make a difference at all to anyone?
I really don’t know. All I know is I want to write right now.
Help me, Verlie, help me!
I am your Ipad!
I bring you another glimpse of the past, the house that I grew up in. Probably its not too interesting to anyone who never lived in a Midwestern town, in a house that was built by my father during the Great Depression of the 30’s.But as time goes by the old memories seem to be coming back to me and I marvel at how resilient my parents and their friends were.
The Great Depression affected everyone, at least in the world that I lived in. The pictures of men standing in long lines waiting for a chance at one job where thousands were hopeful are a haunting memory that shows up on the internet even today. If you were extremely lucky you might get hired for the WPA, but often you had to leave your family behind and go to another state to use a shovel or drive a truck.
In Michigan there had always been numerous factory jobs and that is where most young men started their work life. But after the stock market crash in 1929 work began to disappear. Jobs that had always seemed safe no longer existed. My father was one of the ones that lost his job. There was nothing to be had anywhere. He had always been a hard worker and couldn’t stand to stay home and have nothing to do.
So he decided that he was going to build a house. He and my mother and I lived in an apartment upstairs in my grandparents home and my mother had the patience of a saint, I do believe. My grandmother was an extremely religious woman of her time and she didn’t believe that women or girls should wear slacks or pants, and she didn’t mind telling you so. My mother was young and modern but she was a stay at home mother like other women, and so she was under watch all of the time.
My father borrowed $200.00 and decided that he was going to dig the basement himself. The house must have been about 24′ by 24′, or so. In Michigan you need a deep basement for your furnace and your water heater. Our basement also had to hold a coal bin. So he started digging, and digging, and kept at it until it was accomplished. My parents are no longer here to tell me how they got the money to start the actual house, but somehow they did. It was a two story, and they finished the lower level, where there was one bedroom, but the upstairs had to stay unfinished. So my brother and I had the whole floor to ourselves. The two by fours were up to show where the walls would be later on. I was on one end, with two younger sisters showing up eventually. And my brother had the little room on the other end because it wouldn’t do to have boys and girls together.
So for years this was my bedroom and I spent many hours, reading under the covers late at night, with a flashlight sometimes. I would also sit by the window where there was a streetlight that helped out some. Since my parents were downstairs I got away with it a lot. My sisters were 8 and 10 years younger so they had cribs and youth beds in our room and I hated that.
After growing up, getting married and going with my husband to Ft Carson, Colorado where he was in the Army, my dad put on a big new addition to the house and all of a sudden everyone had a lot more room. He was so proud of that room and being able to do it for his family. Eventually he built a much larger house for he and my mother, but this time he didn’t have to do any digging.
Looking back at how all of our lives have changed, I marvel at how people like my parents, Marjorie and Truman Strong, were filled with resilience and pride in their accomplishments. Our generation has much to be proud of, and I hope that we can pass this on to our descendants.