Sunday, September 27, 2009

Fairlane and Sapphires

     My mother had a blue Fairlane Ford (guess that dates me...).  I think she acquired it after being left with two young girls, my sister and me, following my dad's sudden death.  My Uncle Frank gave it to her and she named it Frankie.  We were a home of women in the 1950's, a time when only filling station attendants pumped gas and women did not know much about cars.  We were no exception.  When there was a car problem my mother took the car to Marion at the local Marathon gas station .  He was the fix-it man.
     There was another solution to car problems.  This one would probably only exist in a household like ours..... it was simple and successful on cold mornings when the car would not start.  "OK girls, kiss Frankie and maybe he will start."  That is what my mother said; that is what my sister and I did.  After a few attempts at starting the car, varoom.......every time!  I must sound silly...but as a child I only knew that I loved that car and the kisses helped.  Like magic!
     A few years later I broke one of my front teeth and had a silver cap put on.  It was there until about age 14, when my mouth matured enough to get a false tooth.  I made wishes on my tooth.  I do not know why...I suppose someone told me it would work.  I also made wishes on stars, inspired by the Walt Disney show and the song When You Wish Upon a Star.
     One of my wishes was for a sapphire.  At some point I received a birthstone ring, I think, which was a pretend sapphire.  I believed that my wish had come true, even though I knew it was not a real sapphire.  There were other wishes which came true in some way.
     When I was older I knew that one could not wish on teeth and stars, but somehow my desire to believe transferred to God.  I think there was a connection.  Now I began to pray in hopes that God would answer the pleas of a girl on the emotional roller coaster of early teen years.  These prayers were answered (see Best Gift post).  I am grateful for my experiences wishing and where they led me!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Nightclub 1960

     I love the viola with guitar.  Several months ago I found this piece on You Tube......a performance of Nightclub 1960 by Astor Piazzolla.  The performers are Duo Macondo, a duo made up of guitar and viola.  The performance is beautiful...very expressive...I want to learn this piece!!  Here it is (hover and it will show up)

Saturday, September 19, 2009


     Think it is about time to add a food entry...........I have been trying to sneak spinach into different things to add some nutritional punch to our suppers.  One easy, yummy way is to add it to frozen pizza.  I buy an inexpensive thin crust version that is plain or pepperoni; I try to get a brand that does not use a lot of cheese or salt. To prepare two pizzas I saute 2 large chicken breasts cut into small pieces.  While these cook I drain a box of thawed, frozen chopped spinach.  Squeeze out most of the moisture.  I put half of the chicken on each pizza; then half of the spinach.  Next I put half a container of grape tomatoes, each left whole, to each pizza (yum-they squirt open in your mouth after being baked).  I sprinkle the top of each pizza with a small amount of mozzarella cheese; it helps "glue" down the ingredients.  Bake according to package directions.  My family really like this pizza!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Leaders or Dictators?

     Orchestra conductor........just the title was intimidating when I was younger!  He was the tempermental ruler, and the one to obey.  Follow him and don't "make waves"--especially by making a mistake.  If you goof, hope he does not see or hear you.  He might throw something or give your section a verbal lashing. You might have to play a solo to reveal whether or not you practiced your part (now I ask--how could you play a practiced part well in those circumstances?!). are only a lowly string player among many!
     There are definite problems with this.  It is difficult to play confidently when one is scared of making a mistake. It is difficult to play well when you are afraid of being singled out by the conductor for making a mistake (it has happened).  The resulting self-consciousness leads to wondering if others are making mistakes, and if you perceive none your confidence is eroded more (even though it is ludicrous to think you could possibly hear everyone!!).  And how can you possibly be really involved in the music with all of this in your head?!
     Conductors who breed this kind of attitude are part of the problem.  I call them "dictator" conductors.  Until my mid-twenties I did not know there was any other kind!  I often felt that I was walking a tight-rope during rehearsals......even if I was well-prepared.
     The end to the tyrants came with a conductor change in an orchestra I played in many years ago.  The new man rarely seemed frustrated, and he was never angry.  He never picked on individuals in front of the group. He was always nice--pleasant!!  I remember one time he was very unhappy with the orchestra.  He just seemed VERY frustrated--and it was not directed at us in a personal way.  He was SO patient!
     There was a change that began to take place in me.  First I began to relax.  I was less afraid to make a mistake; I knew everything would be OK if I did.  I soon began to feel liberated--like I had been released from jail!!  It was wonderful.  At the same time I saw how my progress as an orchestral musician had been held back because of previous experiences......but I was on the mend!
     Since this experience I have never encountered conductors like the early ones.  All have been more self-controlled and patient.  I appreciate this kind of leadership so much!!  I believe string players need calm, supportive conductors.  Playing our instruments is a balancing act, both physically and emotionally.  Abusive behavior only weakens an orchestra and that weakens the music........which is what it is all about!


     Gill--that is, Blue Gill, was an unwanted visitor at my aunts' lake cottage.  My two aunts hated fish.  Occasionally a fisherman friend would drop off a few blue gills to fry.  My aunts would graciously accept them and promptly put them to rest in the freezer.  My guess is that they eventually became either completely freezer burned while hidden or met their demise in a trash can at the end of summer.  No fish for them.......EVER!!
     My aunts were the two unmarried schoolteachers of my first father.  While growing up I heard a few stories about their childhood experiences on Lake Wawasee. The best was a prank (one of many) pulled on my aunts by my dad and his brother.  One of my aunts hated snakes and the boys decided to terrorize her by hiding slimy, wet iris leaves under her bed sheets.  Upon their discovery she screamed and howled. are cold and slimy, too.  A possible connection?!
     Many years later, following the deaths of my dad and grandfather, my aunts and their mother bought a cottage at Lake Gage.  My sister and I spent time there almost every summer. The three women had many talents that were put to use fixing the place up.  They planned, shopped, sewed and painted every summer for quite a few years, I think. One summer my younger aunt laid a patio.  Another summer the lower bath was updated.  Another year they fought squirrels on and under the roof, and at some point they had a deck built which overlooked the lake. Our vacations there usually began with a tour and discussion of changes both past and future. 
     The lake was my favorite place to go.  There is much to tell, and there will be more tales to come. 

Sunday, September 13, 2009


     My sister and I have almost polar opposite personalities.  When I think of us growing up I remember lots of fights.  The photo does not reveal everything!!  We just clashed and butted heads, so to speak.  As we grew older we went different directions in life and saw less of each other, often only at Christmas due to travel and schedule differences.  
     My mother would tell us that she hoped we would be close because she and her sister were not.  I remember hearing this from early childhood!  It never made much sense to was I supposed to do this?  We were so different and so far apart.
      Our lives began to converge when we raised our families.  My sister and her husband  married in their early twenties but waited ten years to start their family (two boys).  About that time I married and within 1 1/2 years had my first of three boys.  After very different lives we began our  families within a couple years.  We still saw little of each other and did not communicate much, being hours apart and busy with children.
     Things began to change again around  the infamous date of 9-11.  Our dad was slowly dying from a lung condition; he passed away on Sept. 10, 2001. From that date my mother became a mutual concern, this being her second time widowed.  
     In 2003 Mother was hospitalized for weeks due to post-surgery complications and our lives converged again. My sister made many trips to be with her because she was closer distance-wise, but I went a few times.  Occasionally we were both there.  My mother was incoherent due to her illness and we had to keep close tabs on what was happening medically and care-wise.  We had to make decisions and prepare for the worst.  My mother recovered better than expected, but it was a long process.
     During this time I discovered that we made a good team.  It seemed that our very different personalities were complements!  What one of us had trouble doing the other could do.  What one did not want to deal with the other could handle. 
     One of my sons was diagnosed with Hodgkins Disease in 2004 and not long after that my sister was diagnosed with cancer....a second experience with it. She was nearing her five year mark of recovering from breast cancer.  This time it was a different kind, but it had been caught early.  Another convergence of our lives through adversity.  Everyone retrospect I believe these experiences helped us grow and mellow.
     My mother passed away two years ago this month from pneumonia, among other problems.  Our lives converged at that time for a week as we planned her funeral together and cleaned out her assisted living apartment.  Once again we were a good team, covering about all the bases between the two of us.  
     Cleaning her apartment was kind of  fun!  I suppose that might sound inappropriate, but Mother's death was not a tragedy.  She had suffered a great deal since my dad died--both physically and emotionally.  Although hard for us, I was glad that my mother was finally released from her struggles.  She had been a rather private person and not one to let anyone go through her things, and I had never felt comfortable doing that without her permission. There was something liberating in being able to freely sort through  them, and  we learned more about our mother in the process.
     The best part was cleaning out her jewelry.  She had a large collection which she kept in a cabinet of several drawers.  We went through each one, dividing pieces up between us and setting some aside in piles designated for others.  There were mysteries.......some old pieces that seemed to have sentimental value but no notes or labels.  We oooed and ahhed, laughed from fatigue, shared memories and had fun guessing who would like what.  The finale was a gift of inexpensive costume jewelry to two young granddaughters of my mother's best friend.  It was fun watching them examine the pieces and wear them.  The girls loved it, and my sister and I agreed that my mother would have enjoyed it, too.
     It is fascinating to me that after all these years we are finally closer, and in part because of our differences.  In working together cooperatively for a concern outside of ourselves we have grown closer. We have gained appreciation for our respective strengths.  It is wonderful to have a sister....I love her!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Light Musings II

This morning the light was just right for these pictures...and I even had my camera! It was a treat to try to capture what I was really beautiful.
The first photo is the chalice tree mentioned in Light Musings. It is a hackberry.....I like the shape of the branches as they ascend.
I find it interesting that light rays are visible in particular circumstances. I do not know the scientific reasons for this......but I have been pondering the possible spiritual significance of this. We usually do not "see" is everywhere and is often perceived by its absence (ex. i.e. shadows). If "veiled" we can look directly at the source without harm to our eyes. We can see reflections of light, too.
We can feel light. Leaving the shade of a tree on a hot summer day, for example. How about a bad sunburn.........a burning imprint of the reality of light! Our bodies can only benefit from light under certain conditions!
I find that spiritual light is comprehended under certain conditions. First we need to seek aware of its existence and try to find it. Certain conditions make this easier, and sometimes they are absolutely necessary. Learn about the source of light....God. Seek for it with prayer and study, preferably the Holy Scriptures. Live a life worthy of receiving the Spirit. Learn about right and wrong and live it; seek the Light of Christ on his terms, not yours. My experience and learning have shown me that these work.
Well, enough. I have more to think about..............later!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Parkway Flowers

Guess I am on a roll..........some more photos from walks on the parkway in the past couple of weeks.


Another shot while walking on the parkway....... I really like thistle flowers (maybe my Scottish heritage??). This shot is for bee lovers.

September Roses

Just some pics of my roses......... I wanted to "save" the last of them. In the photos there is no reminder of the infamous Japanese Beetles that have damaged them. UGH UGH.

Morning Mist

September mornings are temps and mist. So pretty! Below is a photo I took yesterday.........the pond near our home.

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In addition to being a violist, I am a wife and mother (three sons). I dabble in writing, handwork, sewing and photography.