CONNECTED

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Colorado, my Colorado
Another word for us to ponder today, and this one should be on our top ten list!
Connected! What does it mean to you in the scheme of things? Are you connected with your family, your church, your job in a meaningful way? Is it important to you to know that no matter what happens you have people you can depend on to back you up?
This idea was brought home to me earlier this week on Messenger, the app on Facebook where we can text each other in a more private fashion than the normal way of doing things. The conversation was with a group of four people all giving voice to our opinions, and we definitely felt committed. We shared ideas and pictures and lots of little red hearts. Altho we were in four separate homes scattered about the United States we felt that we as a group were connected no matter the physical distance between us.
I can still remember living in Colorado Springs, 1300 miles away from home, and how much I missed my family. Phone calls were beyond our budget, and so we wrote letters and ran to the mail box every day hoping for answers. Now we as grandparents are connected by electronic devices that bring our friends and family into our presence just by pressing a few buttons. We see how easy it has become to keep in touch, daily if we choose to. The pictures of family life are saved so easily that we carry them with us wherever we go. We meet new friends or renew old acquaintances and it brings back the smiles to our faces.
There are many ways for us to feel connected to the world, but it is up to us to make the effort in order to reap the benefits of our closeness to one another. So think about the word “connected” the next time you meet or greet someone you love. Whether it is “online” or the physical reality, know that we are all connected, one with another. Your joy or pain is my joy or pain, and we can show that in our daily lives as we remain connected to each other.

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.

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.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A LIFE MAKES

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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.

THE DREAM

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img_0055Early this morning I had a dream. Not just an ordinary dream, destined to enter my sleep, erupt my thought patterns and leave just as swiftly as it had come.
No, this was a full-fledged dream, and as I awoke, I remembered the warmth and the glorious feeling of it all surrounding me in my warm bed. You see, in my dream I had a brand new baby, she was mine, and I held her and felt the incredible miracle of how a brand new baby feels, the cuddling and the softness of her skin, and the delight of being a mother. I marveled at how big she was and remembered that all of my babies, all boys, had been so big. But this was a girl and I was overcome with joy! I realized that we must give her a name and at first I thought of Elizabeth, my favorite name as a teenager. But then I thought of my mother, and the name became Leona, in my mind. My mothers middle name had been Leone. That was it. I hugged her and said “my sweet Leona”, and knew the joy of being a parent again as I held her and caressed her. I felt the certainty of it all and never realized I was dreaming.
But then I began to wake up. Remembering how vivid this experience had been to me, I began to wonder. Was it a dream or was it an experience? As I sit right here writing I can still know that something amazing happened to me, and in my mind I can still feel and see it. Who is to say what really happened? I know that dreams usually fade away, but I also know that writing this down will keep it fresh in my memory. In this strange and mysterious world of ours how are we to know what is real and what is imaginary? Years from now the scientists may tell us for sure that dreams fortell our experiences, either past or future. Maybe I was remembering an event of long ago in another lifetime.
What triggers a dream? Could it be all of the pictures of babies I see every day on Facebook, being held by granddaughters or grandsons or nieces? I don’t know.
All I know is, it felt so vivid and so real that now I know I must keep watch wherever I go in my daily life. Maybe this warm and beautiful little girl exists somewhere watching over us and I was lucky enough to hold her in my arms for a little while. But I will be sure to remember my sweet Leona, wherever she may be.

THOUGHTS ON A BRAND NEW BIRTHDAY!

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First of all, I made it! Another year chalked up and I am still here. Despite all of the ups and downs that have been a major part of my life, here I am, still rising up each morning, being thankful that I made it safely thru another night, and the world is still my oyster. Looking out the window I can still see that the sun is shining, our yard looks absolutely beautiful, the hollyhocks are holding on to their last blossoms, and there are roses in bloom. And the concord grapes are almost ripe.

September is probably my favorite month, and it’s not just because it’s my birthday month. When I was a child I was eager to go back to school, where books and friends abounded. I always did love the learning process and the competition that school provided. Now that the main word around here is “retirement” nothing has stopped as far as books and reading and learning has concerned. The blessing of having enough time and choices to do whatever appeals to me most is high on my priority list. It is easier for the average person to continue their own education at their own pace than it ever has been before. Computers, tablets, smartphones, they are all at our fingertips.

So on a day when I am sending prayers and wellbeing for the friends and family we have in Florida, I am still thankful for all of the blessings we have received. Life is an up and down procedure, but at least we are proceeding in a forward direction. I have a heart filled with immeasurable love for all of the friends that get up every morning and go about their lives even tho they don’t always know what is in store for them. I try to remember that everyone doesn’t have the same priorities as I do. Maybe theirs are more important than mine are right now. It is good for me to remember that the viewpoints of the other people are at different stages in their lives. They will find, just as my generation has, that everything and everyone changes, and so will theirs, in time.

So this is enough reminiscing for another year. Hope that next year we are not thinking of another hurricane, but who knows. Thanks for the fabulous wishes!20141025_181549000_iOS

Mothers, Mother in Laws, Step Mothers

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It’s Mothers Day! The day that we share all of the love and affection that we feel for the women in our lives.

“Mothering” is the term that we bestow upon anyone, mostly female, but sometimes male, when we want to show empathy or caring for another person.

There are lots of kinds of mothers, who come in different sizes or shapes or colors. The term “mother” is applied to many different types of women in our life.  There are many women who will never legally wear the title, but that doesn’t mean they don’t do the mothering. We all know women who are the mothers to their brothers and sisters, or their patients as a nurse, or students as a teacher, or just about anyone they care about.

Being a mother can be difficult, but it has its own built in rewards. Many poems and odes have been written to glorify mothers, to show how much we care about them. Thinking of our mothers can bring beautiful smiles on our faces just thinking about them or remembering them from long gone days.

But I would like to add two more names to this select group. Mother in laws and step mothers. When I started thinking about this I was amazed at how many of the women in my life are at least two of them, and some of them are all three, as I am. When you become a mother there are all kinds of classes to help you learn how to do the job. You have the experience of your own mother as a backup.

But when you become a stepmother or a mother in law you are in uncharted waters. You want to succeed with all of your heart and soul. But there is a sense of competition when you add the phrases, “step” or “in law” to the mixture.  Someone else has already held the position that you now hold, and you are determined to do your best. Always there is a period of adjustment for every one involved, and it usually doesn’t happen as fast as giving birth.

But mothers, no matter what kind, have a way of bringing forth the nurturing ways that are inherit in most humans, and these are the ones we are honoring today.

So today while you are remembering your mothers with love and honor, I know you are also giving a “shout out” for those “other” mothers, the ones who have your best interests at heart, but came into your life at a later date.

Women, the odds are pretty great that someday you will be a mother in law also, and maybe even lucky enough to be a stepmother. We are all in this world to learn from each other, and these are pretty rewarding positions. Love and compassion and understanding are among the qualities we revere in our mothers, no matter in what form they show up.

Happy Mothers Day, everyone. Have a wonderful day, no matter where you are.

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OUR FRIEND VERNA THORNTON

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hearts_sSometimes  we have to smile  at our memories, be thankful that we had our friends as long as we did, and look for the words that express how we feel about them. Verna Thornton was probably the first friend that I made after I moved to Florida and discovered the Creative Writers Club at Betmar Acres. One of the original founders, she was an enthusiastic member that almost always showed up on Monday morning. As our facilitator she guided us in our writing, suggesting many subjects that she felt we would be interested in. As a poet, she excelled, and she and I felt a kinship from the very first time that I went. I was so impressed by the way her words could always make me see a picture in my mind. She just had a way with descriptive words that could make you laugh or cry or remember something in your own life.

Verna has gone on beyond us this week. She hadn’t been well after a bad fall a month ago, and we had missed her at our group meetings. I talked to her a few days ago and she was very determined to get better so that she could attend again in November. She lived alone, after having taken care of an ailing husband for many years. When I got the phone call I was shocked because I hadn’t expected it.

I found this poem written by Verna in our annual book put out by our group this spring, and am printing it to show you how she felt about moving on from us.

FLYING FLOWERS

I was just a little child

And watched the pansies die.

Grandma tried to comfort me

As I began to cry.

Then she sat me on her lap.

She hugged me close and said,

“Pansies droop and petals fall,

But they’re not really dead.

Notice how the butterflies

Have colors bright and gay.

They are wilted pansies, dear,

The ones that got away.”

Now, my pansy bed is filled

With deep exotic hues,

Yellow, purple, rust and bronze,

Mahogany and blues.

Vibrant colors, trimmed with black,

Their scent is everywhere,

Sunshine yellow on them all,

Their fragrance fills the air.

Rippled by the summer breeze,

They’re nodding in the sun,

A dark and somber little face

Peers out from every one.

Wistfully, they try to speak,

And each one seems to say,

“How much longer will it be

Before I fly away?

I’m bound to earth by stem and roots

My days are passing by.

How much longer must I wait

To be a butterfly?”

Today our Verna is a beautiful, shining butterfly, so watch for her wherever you go.

BACK HOME AGAIN

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IMG_0855One of the first things I look for when we drive into our driveway is  the beautiful forsythia bush.  It is about the first thing that blooms in our yard every spring and it seems to send a welcoming signal that it is glad we arrived home safely.     After a long ride north making the transition from hot weather to cool we are just thankful that we have made it once again.  Walking into the house and checking everything out, I am really glad that I left it looking great, everything put into its place and no heavy housekeeping to do.

Because of course now comes the fun part. Unloading the car, hauling it all in, and now it must all be put away in its place. Just the opposite of when we packed it all down south, now we must do the unpacking. But one thing I have learned,  I don’t have to do it all the very first day. There are plenty of other things to do. The batteries seem to have given out on the television remote. The clocks are all flashing, plus the stove and microwave. I know this means the electric went out, probably in a storm. There is no food in the frig and so I start my big grocery list right away. The water must be turned on and adjustments made to the thermostat.  Of course I must make sure the wi-fi is working.

Going on an extended trip is a wonderful thing. Coming back seems to be even better.  The birds are starting to find the feeder. Looking out at our beautiful green yard we can see the raking ahead of us. But there is no doubt, looking at the waiting bed is starting to look better and better. It has been a very long day.

Ah, it is so good to be back home and looking forward to the holiday with family this year. Tomorrow is another day, or maybe even Monday or Tuesday.

In the fall the cycle will begin again, and we will start the list making and the packing. We will be looking forward to a warm sunny winter with old friends and new.  The time will fly by until the siren call of Michigan beckons us again.  Two wonderful seasons and it is almost impossible to choose one over the other.  We just count our blessings, and name them one by one.

NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS TOMORROW

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No matter what happens tomorrow

I know I will enjoy today.

Remembering all of the smiles that you have given me,

Remembering all of the encouragement that has come my way,

Thinking of all of the places that we have seen together,

Capturing the flavors and scents of lands that we enjoyed,

Picturing the towering mountains everywhere we journeyed,

The flowing rivers, the waterfalls that seemed to pour forth from the sky,

The sun baked deserts, the mountain trails, the red hot lava at our feet,

The glaciers, so wild and so beautiful it took our breath away,

The eagles soaring overhead, the wildlife putting on a show for us,

All is in our memories, and we will never forget them.

No matter what happens tomorrow

I know I will enjoy today.

Friends and family beckon, memories of the old days abound,

Pictures of our loved ones are always in our mind.

Children grow up and become parents such as us.

Grandchildren and even great grandchildren make their place in our hearts.

We marvel at how the whole world seems to work

As if there really is a pattern as to how we live our lives.

We watch and we love and we know why we are here,

No matter what happens tomorrow,

I know I will be happy today.

 

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