Thursday, December 31, 2020

Warren Haynes - New Year's Eve

For all of us who have lost loved ones, or just plain had a tough, tough year "watching time go by."

"New Year's Eve"

(feat. Railroad Earth)

Next year's gonna be better
Next year will surely be the one
And it's right around the corner
Hell, it's just about begun
So what am I still sitting here for
When everyone's inside?
What am I doing drinking whiskey
And looking for a place to hide?

Yeah, old buddy, I sure miss you
You and old "What's his name?"
And I know if y'all were here now
This party wouldn't be so damn lame
There'd be dancing, and fighting,
And cussing, and laughing
Raise our voices to the sky
Bring the new year in right
Instead of watching time go by

Yeah, sometimes I wonder what
The world would be like
If I didn't have strangers as my best friends
I'm sitting here on new year's
Thinking 'bout old friends and old times
We'll never see them again

Yeah, sometimes I still wonder what
My life would've been like
If I didn't have angels at my defense
I'm sitting here on new year's
Singing 'bout old friends and old times
We'll never see them again

But next year's gonna be better
Next year will surely be great
Well, I guess I should say "This year"
Geez, how did it get so late?
What am I still sitting here for?
When did everybody leave?
What am I doing here drinking whiskey?
Oh yeah, it's New Year's Eve

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Quote du jour - Call The Midwife 2020 Christmas special

The fellow tipping his hat is none other than the wonderful Peter Davison playing the ringmaster of a circus that comes to Poplar during the Christmas season.

These are the last words of this excellent episode, again spoken by Vanessa Redgrave.

And so it is Christmas. As eternally different as it is the same. We come together, drawn to the place that we call home or where we are simply welcomed in. We can be broken, but we still belong. We can be fragile, but are valued all the more. We each have our place, our part to play, our seat at the table, and our purpose. The future will not be unwrapped just yet. We can't know if it holds the things we dream of, and if only for today, that is exactly as it ought to be. For now, the moment holds us in its arms. We are as safe as a child once was, beneath a star and swaddled in a manger. There is no darkness that is of any consequence, and yet not one space that is not filled with love.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Keith Urban - I'll Be Your Santa Tonight (Official Music Video)

I just discovered this song! Don't know how I missed it last year. The only thing better than Keith Urban is three Keith Urbans. Haha!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

"Just Breathe" - Live At Austin City Limits - Pearl Jam

On his 56th birthday, thought I'd share an older song sung by Eddie Vedder. In my very most humble opinion, he has the best voice in rock music.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Today's poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I was looking at my 2020 Susan Branch calendar and saw that the last piece of verse she noted on the December page is the last verse of this poem. It is quite fitting for our very strange and sad year. Ah, Longfellow. Always and forever one of my favorites. He puts his whole soul into his work. And I've just ordered a brand new biography of him! So excited.

This was first published in 1838. His first wife had died just a few years earlier after a miscarriage.

Here is an 1840  portrait of him done by Cephas Thompson.

A Psalm of Life

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
What The Heart Of The Young Man Said To The Psalmist.

Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
   Life is but an empty dream!
For the soul is dead that slumbers,
   And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest!
   And the grave is not its goal;
Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
   Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
   Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each to-morrow
   Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
   And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
   Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle,
   In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle!
   Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant!
   Let the dead Past bury its dead!
Act,— act in the living Present!
   Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us
   We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
   Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another,
   Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
   Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing,
   With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
   Learn to labor and to wait.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Quote du jour/George Bernard Shaw

 I am currently watching a New Zealand show on Acorn TV called Nothing Trivial, and I just saw a quote from George Bernard Shaw that I had never heard before.

"A happy family is but an earlier heaven."

Isn't that just the best!

Here's a picture of the man. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Lukas Nelson - Focus On The Music (Quarantunes Evening Session)


Gotta focus on the music
Focus on the heart of things
Focus on the peace that music brings

Musicians have been very creative in getting their music out there. This "quarantune" was an early example. You can see it is as homemade as it gets.The singer, the guitar, the recording device.

There were three evenings in the past few months when music did "carry me merrily and gently down the stream".

The first one was early on, in March. Chris Smither was on what is called a Parlor Room Home Session. He is a longtime time favorite of Tom and I, and it was a delight to see him in his own home. He told stories and sang his wonderful songs. I was transfixed. The music was just what I needed when everything had changed so much in such a short time. You may watch it here. Just to let you know, it takes a few minutes before he appears.

The second one was Keith Urban, live streaming on Amazon Music. An hour in which I thought of nothing. I just basked in the music. There are several videos on YouTube from the show. Here is one where Keith sings with Pink.

The third was a live stream of Farm Aid. You may find most (all?) of the performances here. I hope that address works, but if not, just go to YouTube and type in Farm Aid 2020. This is where I first heard Lukas Nelson, and I've since bought an album, and follow him on Instagram where he often posts videos. Lately he's been doing something called Soundcheck Songs where his band Promise of the Real explores "songs and artists, some well-known, some more obscure, that have influenced us as a band in one way or another." These are also on YouTube on his page. Farm Aid introduced me to other artists I'd not heard before like Black Pumas, whose album I've also bought. You may see a Tiny Desk Concert of them here

And speaking of Tiny Desk Concerts, they are a wonderful music source to visit, if you haven't already. The main page is here

Music gives solace to my soul and is as necessary as air, never more than in this strange and sad year.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

The birthday pals

 Yesterday the birthday pals, Tom and Hazel celebrated their special day. And indeed, this one was particularly special, numerically speaking! Hazel turned 7 and Tom 70 which means he is, for this year TEN times older than she is!! 

And turning seven is in itself a special day. There is quite a quite a wonderful article here, if you are interested. It isn't necessarily exactly seven. Kids develop differently. But it is right around seven that is a real milestone in one's life.

If you watch the Up series, you'll remember that the first episode began with these words:

Give me a child until he is seven, and I will give you the man.

I've looked it up and they have been variously attributed to Aristotle, Francis Xavier, and the Roman Catholic Jesuits. 

"Six or seven or eight" is in Rogers and Hammerstein's South Pacific. I'll quote the whole song because it is so moving. 

You've got to be taught
To hate and fear,
You've got to be taught
From year to year,
It's got to be drummed
In your dear little ear
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
You've got to be carefully taught.

You've got to be taught before it's too late,
Before you are six or seven or eight,
To hate all the people your relatives hate,
You've got to be carefully taught!

There's a lovely version done by James Taylor here

So, it is a big deal to be turning seven!

I thought I'd put up pictures of Tom and Hazel over these seven years. Most of them on or near their birthday.

The first one, the very first time Tom held her, one day after she came home from the hospital - February 9, 2014. If you don't know her story, you made read it here

December 5, 2014

December 6, 2015

December 5, 2016

December 5, 2017

December 7, 2018 (opening a coconut)

November 28, 2019

And this year

In this strange year, she had a drive-by birthday party. People stayed in their cars, everyone wearing masks, and gave her presents! Margaret's text to me said, "overwhelmed with the love". There have been many things that have been wonderful in spite of the virus, and this party was certainly one of them. 

Friday, December 4, 2020

Queen - Thank God It's Christmas (Official Lyric Video)

This is, hands down, my favorite Christmas song - not hymn, but popular song. That voice. I've read it ranged four octaves. 

 "It's been a long, hard year"
 "We live in troubled days" 

I couldn't find a live version, but I think the video is very special, and the bonus is that you can read all the words.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Wham! - Last Christmas

I figure someone else must love this song as much as I do!
Addendum: The next day, this showed up on the BBC Radio 2 feed on Instagram!

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Cactus revisited

Last fall I wrote about my two cactus plants.

This September we decided to transplant my mother's cactus. It just didn't look like a healthy plant to me anymore. The transplant didn't help, so I threw it out. I looked it up and saw that the lifespan is 20-30 years. I gave it to my mother in 1972, so it has already beat the odds. 

The "anything but fuchsia" is still going strong, and here it is today.

Blurry but kinda cool.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Alice's Restaurant - Original 1967 Recording

On November 22, 2006, I wrote my very first blog post. It is quite unbelievable to me that 14 years have gone by.To celebrate I am going to offer you a song for the season. It takes a few minutes to listen but is oh, so worth it!  

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Quote du jour - from Pie in the Sky

Do you know this wonderful television series? I've watched it at least twice all the way through and recently bought it on DVD and am watching again. The late, much missed Richard Griffiths plays a policeman who wants to retire and just be a chef at his restaurant Pie in the Sky. He is a man who really knows and loves good food, and bemoans the fact that his accountant wife played by one of my favorites, Maggie Steed is happy with prawn chips and take-out pizza. Anyhow, a lovely series that cheers my soul each evening. If you have Acorn TV you may watch it there.

The quote du jour was spoken by the Griffiths character, Henry Crabbe.

"I rarely plan more than a day ahead and even that usually ends in disappointment."

A lot of wisdom in those words, methinks. 

Saturday, November 14, 2020

As if we needed something else to worry about... glass pans

 I have always used glass pans for baking bread, cakes, supper recipes, desserts. My mother always had Pyrex pans, and I continue to use them. 

Three nights ago, I was roasting a 7x11 pan of potatoes and onions. It was covered in tin foil and the temp was 400Âș, just like always. It was a relatively new pan, but I'd used it a few times since buying it. We were in the living room watching Autumnwatch on BritBox when we heard a crash, a kind of explosion in the kitchen. And this is what we discovered.

The side of the pan was bowed out

We were stunned, to say the least. We thought it must be the new pan, though why it would have been alright before and not that night we couldn't figure out. So, I went online and was very surprised to discover that this is a thing! Hot glass pans can explode!! Some sites said that the new glass isn't like the ones in the past. Pyrex and Anchor say it is strong. Though they do add some directions like never put your dish right out of the oven on your stove or on a cooling rack - both things I have done forever. They say it needs to go on a cloth or potholder. That right there is pretty weird. I read that sometimes they explode after you've removed them from the oven - one family had sat down to Christmas dinner when it happened and they found pieces of glass three feet away! 

Well, being a quick-thinker and a cautious person, I went right to Amazon and ordered all new cooking pans - stainless steel. Old dogs can indeed learn new tricks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Home For Christmas by Susan Branch


This is a wonderful, delightful reminiscence of Susan Branch's family Christmas in 1956. She was inspired to write it after reading a book last Christmas to her five and seven-year-old nieces. 

The book I chose for the girls told the tale of a grandmother describing to her grandchildren what Christmas was like when she was young, a passing of memories that took us back in time. I've always loved stories of life in the "olden days," hearing the jingling livery of a horse-drawn carriage, the sound of long skirts sweeping the floor, a teacup settling into a saucer in Emma's garden ... it's the closest thing to time travel I know.

I'm like that, too. I've always loved stories from the past. And Christmases in older times seem so special to me. 

Somewhat shockingly I must admit that Susan Branch's memories are of "olden days". Shockingly because those were my childhood days as well as hers. She was nine and I was eight in 1956. I tried to find a picture of me that Christmas but apparently my mother didn't take pictures of every Christmas and occasion in our lives. This fact in itself sets 1956 apart from 2020. Do you know I have over 70,000 pictures (and videos) in my iPhotos on the computer?! Granted they could use some culling - a dozen shots of one daylily for example - but still. I managed to come up with one of me in 1956. Wish I could see what that book is. It almost looks like a booklet of some kind.

It feels like just about every single thing is different. You don't see many large families anymore. It surprises Margaret when I tell her that I was the odd duck as a kid, being an only child. I can think of just one other in my class. Hazel knows several like herself. Susan writes:

... everything we had was made in America. Milkmen left glass bottles of milk on our porch, gas cost 30¢ a gallon and was pumped by an attendant. There were individual jukeboxes on lunch counters - for a nickel Elvis, Doris Day, Little Richard, or Buddy Holly would serenade you over your banana split. At school we practiced cursive on huge blackboards that covered the walls, and lined up to get our polio vaccines. Girls wore dresses for everything, to school, for roller skating, hopscotch, and cartwheels, too - and every boy on our street had a six-shooter and a coonskin cap. Drive-in movies were wonderful, under the stars, the whole family went to see Lady and the Tramp, us in our jammies. We had rotary telephones and a party line, and the new thing in the living room called television.

This was a middle-class white American family, like so many others in those days.

My dad got a job with General Telephone, so they moved from Long Beach to the San Fernando Valley. That's where I grew up, along with my seven brothers and sisters in a pink-stucco four-bedroom house my parents bought for $16,000 with help from the GI Bill. ... We didn't have a lot of money but just enough, apparently, because we had the basics, warm beds, clean jammies, friends, shoes, grilled cheese sandwiches, and parents who loved us. I always thought we were rich because I felt so happy. ... There wer 53 children living in the twelve houses on our dead-end street, and more coming all the time. ... Bikes made us totally mobile from about six-years-old. Parents didn't worry as long as we told them where we were going and were home for dinner.

Olden days, indeed. 

But the thing that still lives, that still rings as true as then is the love in the family. I would hope younger people than I am will read this to see that though some external things change, love in a family is timeless. 

"Are we rich" I asked my mom. "Not rich in money," she said, "but rich in love. We have each other. That's what counts." It was a highly satisfactory answer. It sounded exactly like "Yes."

This is Susan Branch's family in 1956.

Monday, November 9, 2020

Today's Song - Blossom Dearie/ Rhode Island is Famous for You

I was listening to Jazz 24 the other day when the DJ played Back Home in Indiana, and introduced it by whimsically asking "how many electoral college votes does Indiana have?". It made me think of this song. It is a wonderfully witty and delightful way of looking at our states in a non-political way. 


Monday, November 2, 2020

Sunday surprise

 Yesterday we met Campbell and Indy halfway between our towns, and brought them up here for the day. Margaret did not tell Hazel they were coming. After we let her know they were here, she told Hazel there was a surprise up at Pop and Nana's. The boys hid, she came in and closed her eyes, and then this happened!

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Today's song -The Marcels - Blue Moon

On this night of the blue moon, I could have posted Ella or Billie or Sinatra singing, but honestly I couldn't resist The Marcels version from my childhood which I really do love!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Hallowe'en party

One of the many, many glorious things about living so close to our daughter and her family is that we are often included in their get-togethers. 

Because there is no trick or treating this year, Margaret decided to have a Hallowe'en party. The people who came are all those that they see regularly, and/or children Hazel knows from school. And it was an outdoor party so everyone felt comfortable. And thankfully, there are no cases in our town.

Matt and Margaret and Hazel decorated their house, yard, and made a little "haunted trail" coming up the road to our house. She gave us goodie bags to hand out that she had packed for the kids at the end of the trail. Luckily it was a perfect, sunny, warm day and evening. The families arrived in the late afternoon and walked up here around 6:15 when it was dark. I'm still smiling thinking about it. 

And now for the pictures. 

At the house

Heading up the road

A swing we put up that same day for the grandchildren

And then up at our house

Margaret brought this for us to turn on when it got dark

There were more kids but the photos didn't come well. I have ordered a new phone with high hopes for better pictures! iPhone 12. Supposed to take good night shots.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Today's song, and serious talk - Joe South - Walk A Mile In My Shoes (1970)

I happened to hear this song today on a show I've mentioned before The Mop Tops and the King. It was done by Elvis, but I found the original sung by Joe South.

FIFTY years ago, and I swear it feels like we still need to etch things into our brains. I know that I don't write about controversial things here, but today I must. During the time of the virus and the Black Lives Matter movement, Michael has been the victim of racism. As you know we adopted both our kids from South Korea. 

Because the virus was said to come from China, Asians were targeted. Michael has been accused of bringing the virus, and told to go back to where he came from. A friend of his, who is part Chinese was in the store and someone took some soap out of her cart, saying you don't deserve this. Margaret hasn't had any encounters, but early on she was afraid to go into Walmart, fearing the same kind of negative response. 

Throughout the years, there have been episodes in both their lives, far more for Michael than Margaret. Always from men. You will know that this just kills me. 

Yesterday, a few people from his town's Democratic party were standing by the side of the road just holding signs for the various candidates running in this election. A man yelled from across the road - first saying that the Presidential candidate was a word that I will not put in my precious blog. You must have heard it. Apparently there is a group that is putting this forward. And then he targeted Michael and told him to go back to where he came from. My son didn't go across the street and confront him, thank God, but he talked back to the guy. I think the guy finally just walked off. 

This is what people of color face all the time. We white people can choose how we present ourselves to the world. We can color our hair pink, or wear makeup or none. We can have tattoos or piercings, or not. We can shave our heads or wear our hair long. But the thing is - it is our choice. A black or brown person is judged the minute they step out the door. And some of those outside places are scary and dangerous. 

This is an awful time we are going through and it just makes me cry. All this and a virus, too. How much can we take? 

I thought of disabling comments just for this post, but wasn't sure if that would take away all the comments since 2006 so thought I wouldn't touch it. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Snow Day

Yes, you read that title right. First snow of the season overnight into the morning, after raining all day yesterday. A friend's birthday is tomorrow and his wife says that 9 out of 10 times the first snow comes on his birthday so this is normal for us. The only concern was the lilacs and honeysuckles were bent down by the heavy snow. Tom and I went out for 1 1/2 hours getting the snow off. Most of them came back just fine, but there is one broken branch, and a couple others seem weak, but we'll see when the spring comes. The problem was that there were still leaves and they were weighed down. Very unusual to have foliage and snow at the same time. But everything else is strange this year so I shouldn't be surprised! 

I took these pictures in the morning.

I put bird seed on the road so the ground feeders could eat. We had bluejays and juncos and some kind of sparrows all day, and then in the evening this crew showed up.

There were a dozen in all. One of them jumped to the top of the clothesline, twice. Just for fun, I guess.

Addendum: Tom said the turkeys were here early the next morning, and he saw deer tracks so we are officially in the restaurant biz for the next few months!

Friday, October 16, 2020

Today's picture - wild turkeys


The photo isn't anything to write home about, but it sure gives the idea of what I saw out the window the other day. I managed to count 21 turkeys, and they stayed for over an hour! This happened in the summer, too, with mothers and their babies.

I've heard that Theodore Roosevelt wanted to make the wild turkey our national bird. I am so fond of them. The wing colors are beautiful, they are pleasant company, other birds and our hens are not afraid of them. Sometimes they go right into the pasture and graze with everyone else. Just the best.

I read this online:

  • Native only to North and Central America, the wild turkey was discovered by Europeans in Mexico in the early 1500s.
  • By the 1930s, the wild turkey population was at less than 30,000 birds; a victim of market hunting, subsistence hunting and widespread habitat destruction.
  • Over the next 50 years, state wildlife agencies funded by hunters’ dollars and working with the National Wild Turkey Federation, captured more than 200,000 wild turkeys and released them in quality wild turkey habitat.
  • Today there are more than 7 million wild turkeys roaming the woodlands and river-bottoms across the country.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Feeding the birds, again

 Almost exactly a year ago, I posted that we were not going to feed the birds that fall and winter. But as the weather cooled down this month, I felt myself longing for birds. It was very quiet last winter. There has been no sighting of the r-word, so we are going to begin again! It is a bit expensive as I noted last year, but those birdies give so much pleasure. We've changed the spot to the clothesline. The feeders used to be strung out the kitchen door (across the road) in the lilac and honeysuckle trees, but this will be an easier place to reach when the snow is deep. In just a few days, we've had chickadees, bluejays, a woodpecker, and juncos. It is lovely to hear them through the open bedroom window in the morning.