“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.
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!
Have you ever bitten into a tree ripened bright orange apricot? The kind that melts in your mouth?
Have you tasted the juiciness of fruit so fresh and so ripe that you felt just like heaven on earth? Have you waited every year for the sweetness and ripeness of a plum, purple, red or yellow, that you knew had just come from a farmers orchard near you?
This week Bob and I stopped at a local farm market just three miles from our house, hoping that the softer fruits were coming on line for us to enjoy. For as long as we’ve been married (25 years) we had always eaten all of the wonderful fruit that we grew ourselves.
After the farm was sold some seven years ago it just wasn’t the same. Finding another farm where they let the fruit hang on the tree until actually ripe proved to be difficult. The farmers that sell for the main markets are encouraged to pick it early to avoid spoilage. Consequently the sugar never develops and the fruit never has quite the same quality.
So this week I got the urge for apricots until I couldn’t stand it anymore. One of my main jobs at the Muskegon Farmers Market where we had several stalls was sorting and boxing the small fruits, so I became very nostalgic about it. Off we went and there in Hart was a local market selling plums, peaches, and apricots. They had samples for people to try. It didn’t take me long to find an ultra ripe apricot! We loaded up on small boxes and headed for home, and have been enjoying them ever since.
But just this morning it hit me! I had grown accustomed to not going to market to work 3 times a week. I missed the people and I sure missed my fellow workers, but until I bit into that apricot I had forgotten that we really had it all. The Farmers Market was practically our whole life, selling fruit and pleasing people, and I really am thankful that we could do it for so long. It developed in me an appreciation for the lives of the farmers who give their all every day so that everyone else can enjoy the fruits of their labor.
When our customers raved about the sweetness of our fruit we smiled and we were happy they liked it.
But until I bit into the apricot this week I had put some of the memories off into the back of my mind. Now they are out in full force and cannot be denied.
We really did have it all, and for everyone that played a huge or even a small part in the life of our fruit we do thank you. We hope that you will look upon it as fondly as we do. Everyone that drove a tractor, or picked the fruit or stood at the counter we do thank you. and everyone that bought the sweetness of Michigan fruit from us, we do thank you. And we miss you.
When you can look out your bedroom window, and see a view that is so magnificent in all its glory, all the white and pink blossoms bursting forth to show the world that another spring has arrived, it seems impossible to believe that this beautiful scene could be the cause of untold worries for the farmers that have brought it forth. Ever since the end of fruit season last fall you have been looking forward to a new year, to beautiful blossoms, and a wonderful crop of cherries, or apples, or peaches. Being a fruit farmer, or a member of his or her family means that you always have these expectations of the next years crop sitting somewhere in the back of your mind.
Most years you are lucky, the trees bloom, somehow the dreaded freezes just manage to avoid you and you end up with the wonderful fruit that Michigan is so famous for. Pleasing all of your customers is one of the main goals in your life. There is nothing like handing an apple to someone and seeing their smile in return.
But right now we are under a freeze warning for our area tonight. We don’t actively farm ourselves anymore, but all of our neighbors do. The laborers in our area are all dependent upon good crops. Our customers and that includes us, all want this great Michigan fruit. So we do the best we can, we watch the thermometers hourly , and we send our prayers soaring upward in hopes that all will be well this time.
But one thing I do know, no matter how cold it gets tonight, no matter if the pistils turn black, the farmers will be determined to try again next season because this is just what farmers do, they plant, they grow, and they pray. And somehow it works, and we are all thankful for that. .
Today is a day for me to give some special thanks and gratitude to two very special women in my life. Yesterday I had my annual physical here in Michigan and it really pleased both my doctor and me. Better blood pressure, chlorestrol, and a good feeling that I am feeling much better and stronger. For several years Tammy Jager had been encouraging me to get a walker or some such thing because I was having trouble taking long walks. I resisted her mightily for a long time due to my pride and foolishness. But this winter another voice joined the chorus, Debra Rider, and I began to realize that they only had my best interests at heart. So I broke down, bought a red Rollerator, started walking each day, and now I walk 25 minutes at a time. I met new friends while I was in Florida, and found that there are lots of us who can use a little help. And I love it because it has brought me freedom. I don’t need it at home, thank goodness. I heap praise upon my husband, Bob Rider, who always tags along with me.
But it gives me great pleasure to give kudos to Debra and Tammy whom I love, especially because they didn’t give up on me. I owe them for many special things in my life, but this one deserves a special thank you.
Sometimes 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.
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.
Looking at a picture from last spring, in April to be exact, out our dining room sliding door after we had just returned from Florida. The scene looked so delicate, our flowering tree just beginning to show its early bloom, the pool still covered up after a long, hard winter, the grass a very light shade of green, and all of the new season just waiting to show up and give us some sunshine.
I hear that this past winter there was a lot more sunshine than normal, and for Michigan that really sounds fantastic. February in the North is gray, gray, gray, unless it is white, white, white. Growing up in Michigan, I am so familiar with boots, mittens, scarfs, snowpants, and all of the constant changes of weather. As a child we often reveled in the snow and the ice for skating or fishing. We made forts out of blocks of snow or large snowballs and had picnics in them. But somehow we grew up and started driving a car or truck and some of the fun seeped out of our daily activity.
Time rolled on as it seems to do, and now I spend the winter where there is a lot of sunshine. That is great, being warm enough to go out walking wherever we please to go.
But when I look at this picture I remember all of the charms of a spring in Michigan, especially when you are on a farm, and the blossoms will soon be showing up on all of the fruit trees. I begin to see that it is time to start gathering up our belongings, thinking of what we will need when we take our long trip, the clothes that serve us well in both places, the things that I can’t bear to be without, no matter where we are. A trip can be a lot of pleasure if you are not in a hurry. There are always new roads to travel, new restaurants to enjoy, and hotels to stay in. When I was much younger, we used to take long trips across the country, but we often slept in the car in rest stops along the interstate. Now a comfortable bed sounds a lot better. That probably makes me an old fogie, looking back at the past, and realizing that nothing stays the same.
So Michigan, we will be on our way in the not too distant future. We will enjoy the summer and surely the fall, which is my favorite, but at some moment in time I will begin to remember the sunshine, the warm beautiful days, the friends waiting for us, and then I will begin to pack again. What a pleasure it is to enjoy two beautiful states, and the best of both worlds.
Sometimes its easy to bring back the memories,
The golden flashes of the many years gone by,
The caring and the sharing of the friends long unseen,
The smiles and the jokes over forgotten happy events,
The remembrances of old family parties,
The brilliance of the ones who always made me laugh,
The laughter of the many children at their play,
The pat on the shoulder or the occasional hug,
The sparkling eyes that met each other with a special knowing,
Even the friends who shared the sadder times with me,
Long ago memories that seem to pour forth in my everyday living,
And sometimes, yes, often, I am thankful for it all.
The experiences that have brought me here to this place,
Here to my special memories and here to this time.
Sometimes I reflect upon all the wonderful years,
Knowing that everything in life has its place,
And I have most surely found mine.