Sunday, August 30, 2009

Autumn is old-fashioned, and my personal images of the season can't be tugged much beyond Grandpa and Grandma's long-gone farm.

My Autumn is a tan, straw-hatted boy strolling and kicking through the gold and bronze riches given up by aspens and maple trees. It is a narrow twisting lane, dividing red-barned farms where plump, rioteously orange pumpkins tumble all together at the gardens edge. The fall of the year is a time and a place where scarecrows humbly bow their floppy heads after a job well done.

Autumn is the cornucopia's bounty gathered in bushels and baskets and jars; it's the pickles and kraut from Grndma's root celler. It's mounds of cornhusks and apples with the taste of honey. It's a great copper-colored moon that dwarf's the planet, and makes a back-drop for a navy-blue horizon.

Autumn must have been born in a Heavenly country house; near pearly gray fences and old crooked gates with a finger of smoke from its chimney and a hint of frosty breath from its throat. Autumn always comes bursting loose from the hills and orchards with colors bright and brilliant. Late August explodes with sunny, saffron tufts of stubble from cut fields. It sizzles with yellow ochres and burnt sienna's left tattered from the harvest; the scene in disarray, with beigy-brown potatoes and amber yams. Autumn came out of Earth's womb with the electric touch of a Master painter and a supernatural color-wheel.

Autumn can't ever be tempted to don a fashionable ensemble. Her gown is every summers glory held captive for the moment among the blazoned, marching hills, with every fiery bush an accessory.

Autumn's trees were born to dance. Any whispery breeze may set the tempo and the waltz begins-across the county, the country, the continent. When the last leaf is on the ground, the golden season tip-toes to the sidelines, making way for Winters hulking, dancing bear.

Yet, Autumn is a stand-up comic, a clown dressed from a cosmic box of crayons. He grins with some unnamed humor bubbling and gurgling up from the ample belly. There is the hint of a wonderful, mind-blowing secret, barely held in check--waiting for the okay to tell it all-----Yesssssssssssssssssss!

Friday, August 28, 2009

It came with the Autumn

This is the favorite time of the year for many of us. Autumn has a, "homey" theme somehow. "Homemade" becomes the byword amongst women, and the need to create prevails. With men it may be the psychological whispers of an era long past when their main occupation was providing food, warmth and protection for the cold months ahead.
The ladies still have some hands-on-options to fulfill the deeper urges of gathering and storing. Visions of jams and pickles, pumpkin pies, knitted scarves and jewel-colored quilts waltz through feminine minds. Big pots of homemade soup appear on the back of the stove and the stores have a run on electric bread-makers. Even with all the improvements technology can provide for us it seems that at least a part of our love for Autumn hearkens back to a time when it wasn't quite so easy to prepare a family for the coming winter.
Those were times when people were truly busy, "making" their living, yet, the checker games were played with sons and daughters. The classics were read and listened to with fervor. Friends came over for an evening of simply talking. Imagine that.
There was a lot of singing around pianos that sat in 80% of American parlors. Most everyone knew the words to hundreds of songs, and nearly every family had a musician or two.
Long, well-written letters crisscrossed the world with affection and interest. These were not notes of facts and figures, but scaled down works of the heart talking; so dear to the recipients that many were tied with satin ribons and read over and over. It took time to compose those missiles and time was just as precious as it is now...precious enough to spend any extra on those we cared about.
I have a theory that Autumn is the favorite season for so many people because a big part of us would like to LIVE the Autumns of our grandparents, or even our great-grandparents. Mainly because we haven't researched what that involved. The harvest alone would hospitalize most modern couples of today. Then canning. preserving drying, butchering and smoking would finish them off. We think we're busy now...?
Busy is the most overused word in the English language today. It's everybody's excuse for...everything. "Sorry, I'm just too busy."
If we aren't careful we will become too, "busy" to hold conversations of any substance, to pat a cheek, to say a prayer, to keep in touch with an old friend, or look--really look--into the eyes of a little one. These moments come but once. We can't go scurrying after them and gather them up again if the mood happens to strike us.
Too many of us are over-occupied with justifiable, "business."
Some years ago I dropped an oral thermomenter on the floor. It broke in two and the mercury inside began its oily, quicksilver race to find every crack in the wooden floor. The harder I tried to pick it up with a spoon, the faster it slipped away...splitting up, muliplying a hundred times until it simply disappeared in places too small for me to investigate.
Once the thermometer was severly damaged there was no way to save the meaningful part of the apparatus. Recently, I've seen a parallel between this idea and an aspect of life....the whole point to this story.
September 11th most Americans had spent some time weeping. Tears flowed from sea to shining sea, and we all had questions. Who? Why? And then, the more personal cries from ordinary people who lost chunks of their hearts between a quick morning leave-taking and a never-to-be, "Hello."
From some slight experience I know the endless keening sent toward Heaven, all the regrets, all the, "If only's.
Did I take the time to tell her/him how much they were loved? Why didn't I give just one more kiss. Why did I make excuses last night when she wanted to talk? Why didn't we take that get-away cruise? Why didn't we spend more time just being together? No TV, football games, or sit coms?
Some of the complaints against ourselves are natural and usually invalid, but, I was hit between the eyes with some very real shortcomings of my own. Just how, too- busy had I been over the last couple of years? How many times had I mnde excuses for missing showers, birthdays, picnics, etc. and yes, even funerals. I didn't like the answer. Had I lost too much mercury from my thermometer? Was it too late to get another and protect it wih backed-up, carried-through intentions?
We hear it over and over, "Our contry will never be the same." and I know that's true. Every day I am learning to live in this new place. The back of my mind is never completely clear of niggling apprehensions, and yet, I believe we can turn the results of that Autumn disaster toward the light and a better way of spending the life we have.
Let's not be too busy to try harder to love our neighbor
A trivial , tired and meaningless quest? I hope to God...not.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Music music music

How much influence does music have on a person's life? Is it true that "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast," as English poet, William Congree maintains? If the The Three Tenors and Ella Fitzgerald had decided on different professions would we be a less gentle peopole? Might it be possible to judge someones character by how he reacts to music?
William Shakespeare thought so and wrote the following.
The man that hath no music in himself, nor is not moved with concord of sweet sound, is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils; the motives of his spirit are dull as night, and his affections dark as Erebus; let no such man be trusted.
No minced words there; that's about as opinionated as it gets; even more so when you consider that Erebus, in Greek mythology, was a gloomy part of the underworld on the way to Hades.
In this age of information we are challenged with some new conclusions on the subject of music. Shakespeare could well be proven right in the near future. Those studying the possibilities have come to believe it may be a much stronger inherent force than we once thought. So strong, in fact, that those without the desire to make music might even be termed abnormal.
Those of us who ponder such things may begin any such study by first looking to our ancient, ancestral, musical roots. Did we have any? Or, did the tunes come later?
A great number of us may consider early man/woman as musically deprived, but according to a National Geographic news report dated January 2001, that is not so. Finely crafted flutes made from bone have been found at some of the archeological digs covering the most ancient periods. These were not simple, single-hole whistles, but actual instruments.
It seems there has been a song in most every heart practically since time began, and if the so-called experts are to be believed, that doesn't mean just the human heart either. Animals are included as potential composers.
Through the fairly new, but, quickly evolving fields of bio-musicology and animal communication research, unique ideas are coming to the fore. They are asking us to consider the similarities between certain human and animal sounds and the possible innate desire of animals to create music that the similarities suggest. (There are also other voices questioning these folks sanity, and at least one reporter wondering if these, "sounds" are merely biological functions better suited to locker room jokes.)
Science has shifted into high gear in the bio-musicology community, wondering if some rhythms, patterns and tones might be instinctive to animals as well as humans. Could this point to a shared inherent knowledge of music that has been around forever, and perhaps with many more implications than we dream?
Let's start with birds and their, 'songs." We can hear definite melodies there. It seems to fit perfectly with some of our own musical renditions. Mozart's Piano Concerto in G major actually has a passage that he wrote to match the song of a starling he kept. However, this century's interests are concentrated in the throats, vocal chords and other parts of more uncommon, "musicians."
We are being asked to hesitate before defining music in the old, traditional ways. Some followers of this new thought have even suggested it was animals trilling the very first compositions, not humans.
Merchandisers are on top of it, and albums of whale, dolphin, and wolf song are everywhere. Promoters are keeping an ear out for new groups every day.
The croak,yap, grunt and howl are being given a thoughtful listen and should--we are told--be viewed as a great melodic storehouse. Whoever composed, "Old MacDonald," was evidently ahead of his time.
We find, in, "Science News" that the alliance between biologists and musicologists-biomusicology--has come to life for one express purpose, to ask and answer the question...what is music?
And we thought we had that one figured out. But, the great thinkers have warned us, "Just when you figure out the question, they change the answer...or words to that effect.
Many of us have remained in the dark on this new study, feeling deceptively certain that if we were asked we could at least give a fair definition of the word, "music." And, if all else failed we felt the inquisitor could be answered if we warbled a few bars of, "The Hills are Alive With the Sound of....well, you know.
Quite a bit of craziness, don't you think?
To be serious, I believe that music is much more than we think it is. I can just imagine Milky Way Orchestra's rolling through outer space with beauty we can't yet imagine...will we ever? I think so.
Here is a little story about one of my grandson' a teenager. I used to baby-sit him and his mom dropped him off at my house very early. He wasn't ready yet to start his day and neither was I so I cuddled up on the couch with his little back up against my chest. He had quite a habit of humming...I mean he hummed pretty steady until he was about 4 or 5. One particular morning as he was humming quietly, I found a note to harmonize with the note he was humming. The minute I hit that note he stopped suddenly but didn't more. He had just experienced a harmonic, "buzz." I was silent and then he softly began to hum the same note he had been humming before. He was very pleased and we kept up our little acapella duet for some time.
He now plays guitar and writes music and sings
It was a truly magic moment for me and I think for him too.
He's the grandson in this post....not a good picture but the only one I could rustle up in a hurry. (The girl is Vanessa, She was on my blog with a high school graduation picture last week.) Love those kids!!!!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Having a busy day in the kitchen

Even though I called this picture a busy day in the kitchen, I haven't been in the kitchen at all today...I just wanted to show off this wonderful old camp-coffee pot that one of my sisters painted for me many years ago. Isn't it wonderful? And the tole work is excellent too. It's also a good opportunity to relate a little tale. Did you know that there is now a dial-a-prayer for atheists? You call a number and nobody answers. Not true of course, however, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.." Psalm14:1 and thus our story.

A tale is told of a colony of mice who made their home at the bottom of a large upright piano. To them, music was frequent, even routine. It filled all the dark spaces with lovely melodies and harmonies.
At first the mice were impressed by the music. They drew comfort and wonder from the thought that Someone made the music--though invisible to them, yet close to them. They loved to tell stories about the Great Unseen Player whom they could not see.

Then one day an adventuresome mouse climbed up part of the way in the piano and returned with an elaborate explanation about how the music was made. Wires were the secret--tightly stretched wires of various lengths that vibrated and trembled from time to time. A second mouse ventured forth and came back telling of hammers--many hammers dancing and leaping on the wires. The mice decided they must revise their old opinions. The theory they developed was complicated, but complete with they claimed. In the end, the mice concluded that they lived in a purely mechanical and mathematical world. The story of the Unseen Player was relegated to mere myth.

But, the Unseen Player contiunued to play nonetheless. Note* our family is in the midst of a few medical problems so I have not been on my blog. Hopefully that will be changing very soon

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Please remember this is slapstick humor based on fact.

Humans have been searching for the Fountain of Youth in one way or another for untold years. Being the impossible-to-please species that we are, it isn't only that we want to live longer, we want to look and feel 17 while while we are doing it. Naturally, there are crowds of "experts" advising on how to become youthful and good looking. Take hair for instance. On a guy what was a forest of thick locks at 21 has become an almost totally logged-off area at 50. While the experts are selling them the possibility of new growth, somebody else is showing women how to get RID of excess hair. Go figure

Another point regarding hair; more and more women are having their hair cut about the length of an ants back. It's the boyish look, supposedly youthful, but isn't it ironica that the actual boys are letting their own hair grow down to the him of their shirt? Am I getting old, Or what? One thing is for sure; nobody is seeing any more of my bumpy skull than is absolutely necessary.

Most of us hae a certain amount of vanity and like to look as good as we can without resorting to extraordinary methods. However, there are those among us who go the extra mile for--what they consider--a pleasant appearance. case in point is the Body Lift. They showed the procedure on TV a while back and I was fascinated. Mind you, there was very little fat to get rid of, it was loose skin; what is more commonly called as flab. One of the women had a 12"wide swath of sking taken from around the waist area. That's foot. The surgeon then took the lower portion, pulled the top part down to meet it and stitched the two pieces together. I thought about this for a long time and decided it wouldn't work for me. Not that I don't have any extra flab, but that is just it. If the surgeon was going to have total success, the lower incision would have to be made at my knees and the upper one just below the neck. When the upper and lower pieces were sewn together I would only be two feet tall; barely able to see over the bottom of my truck window. This simply would not do in this, "drive-up-window" kind of society we live in.

That surgery is definitely not for me. I have very little self-control. That's how I got the extra weight that became the flab in the first place. What if I DID get the Body Lift, with the above mentioned result? I would simply gain more weight, which--as the years passed--would become more flab, and before you could say, "Thumbelina" I would have to go back for another tuck, and then another. One day I would just disapear.

There are other changes we can make for contented living. I'm getting a hobby today, a pet tomorrow, and looking for all the hugs I can get along the way. And, I'll still be 5'6" or thereabouts.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

What a winter

Do you recall a stifled yawn when your male parent started a sentence with, "When I was a kid."
Lecture time again and you knew he was setting out to prove how easy you had it, being practically carried about on a silken pillow, never knowing a moments strain of pain. naturally the anquish of listening to this tale for close to 20 years was never counted.

Dad's five-day-a-week, torturous sojurn to learn his ABC's was made during the Ice Age. Either that or about 40 years before the telling, his neighborhood had a run of bad luck with five or six killing winters and no time out for spring, summer or fall. The freezing snow was a couple of stories high and Pop's shoe soles were as thin as a mouse's ear. If he had a coat at all--the information differed--it resembled Swill cheese more than any piece of clothing.

To hear my father tell it the frozen noses and toes were accepted with a stiff upper lip. (no pun intended.) And arriving at the one-room school house--did you expect anything different--brought little relief. The wood pile was invariably buried beneath a pinnacle of snow one foot short of mountainhood. The only warmth on the premises was from the breath of Smiley Baileys English Sheepdog. Pupils and teacher leaned in toward the animal like sticks for a teepee and studied McGuffey's Reader. When lunchtime came they chopped their sandwiches apart with an axe and...well, you no doubt have all of the piture you can stand by now. And that brings me on my meanering way to the point. Exaggeration is the point. Coincidentally it involves the weather.

Ten years ago, or so, television predictors were the brunt of many a joke. The only members of the population who gave them any credence was their mothers. Their reading were so far off that if they said it would be sunny we got out the sandbags and prepared for a flood. Where did they get their information? From rolling dice? Picking daisy petals? There were those who questioned why they never seemed to consult the sky. Surely big black clouds meant there was more than an even chance of rain. The sun shining in a great expance of blue almost always pointed to ...the sun shining in a great expance of blue.

Enough picking on the weather people. To be fair they didn't have the scientific tools at their disposal they have now, and those tools do an almost fool-proof job. Maybe the lack of a challenge like they were faced with in the past has them bored, because they exaggerate something awful, drawing out what should be a two-minute report to about 10. An evening of winter rain has become, "A storm coming in off the Pacific to pound the coast. Snow falling in the mountains is now, "A blizzard of driving, blinding snow buring the mountain passes.

It's winter neighbors and that's the way winters have been as long as I've lived here. We had some other rough times though. Why, when I was a kid....

Taken from my humor column, Down Home.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Granddaughters are wonderful; you just love them to pieces. It really isn't any different than a daughter. Sometimes it's a big, surging ,gushing thing that takes your heart over completely and causes you to act a little silly. Sometimes it takes a different course and is quiet, soft and makes you feel like crying.
The grand-daughter of mine that I am showing you here is Vanessa Renee. When she was smaller I think she would have loved the idea of being on this blog. Back then she was a dress-up kind of girl. I turned her loose in my closet and jewelry box to see what kind of outfits she would come up with. I thought for sure she was going to hit the fashion and designing world like a hurricane. Didn't happen. She's more comfortable in jeans and a pony tail than anything else. She's not quite so free with her kisses either. But, I found an old note she had written the other day and it would satisfy any grandma's heart for a lifetime. She wrote about her love for me and the things she remembered that I had taught her (imagine that.)
The boys are just as dear and I will write about them at another time
If these grandchildren could know how our love for them never changes no matter what they do, or don't do; how are hearts yearn for them when they aren't around. It's a love so deep it almost hurts Actually, it DOES hurt, but we know it's the good kind of hurt, it's a needed part of love.
I wish I could write it but somethings can't be told with words

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

a quote from George MacDonald

The Lord has come to wipe away our tears. He is doing it; He will have it done soon; and until He does He would have them flow without bitterness; to which end He tells us that it is a blessed thing to mourn because of the comfort on its way. Accept His comfort now and so prepare for the comfort at hand.

I have saved this quote for so many years that it is quite raggedy. I just knew I would use it at some time in the future. I think that time is now

Son's graduation

Awhole lot of years ago one of my son's, Jack by name, graduated from high school in Santa Barbara, California. The exercises were held outside and it was a beautiful day with 2 or 3 hundred people milling about on the well-kept grounds. My lovely black straw hat and spike-heeled shoes were perfect accessories to my ensemble. With a daughter on each side of me we smiled at the picture-taker. I soon traded places with the photographer, son Jack, to get a shot of him with his 2 sisters. It was a simple old Kodak camera and I could see right away that I had to step backward a little. What I did't see was a metal sprinkler sticking up from the grass. I promptly
took the fateful step, fell over backwards, legs flying, and smashed the once pretty hat into a joke that passed through our family for many years. Surely, you didn't think I bought it that way