Acorns From The Healing Tree


"I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content." ~ St. Paul

We're back....

Deciding that we couldn't endure another day of snow and cold and falling into ditches, my husband and I took a junket to - of all places - Reno, Nevada. Many people have wondered "why"? I guess we choose not to think that through, we just went. It was sort of my idea, I admit. But we got a super deal on the hotel, and they have a wonderful pool. That's the part we really enjoyed.

My husband told me that the hotel actually is leasing its land from Southern Pacific railroad, and sure enough, a railroad ran right next to the hotel. That was okay, because we liked the sound of the trains, and we were up on the 26th floor, so it wasn't that loud. But on the subject of sound, beside the rail yards was a car dumping and reclamation site with various piles of smashed cars; metals; cranes and smashers, basically everything that's a jinx to Feng Shui. Unfortunately each morning, probably as a way to get even with the hotel (who is very bad at paying their lease - my husband told me this too - who knew?) they smash a car into a flat pancake at first light of dawn. This sound is guaranteed to wake the dead, or at least gamblers with nasty hangovers! That was the down side of our trip. However we discovered that if we ran the fan connected to the heater/AC it's white noise drowned out any noise from the reclamation yard. (Ha Ha) Also, as is common now for hotels, we were in a completely hermetically sealed room. After all, we need to be protected from ourselves, don't we, just in case we lose everything gambling, jump out the window, and sue the hotel? Can't have that. Who'se protecting who? I wonder if it is possible to sue a hotel for very damaging Feng Shui? The windows could not even be opened a crack! But my husband told me that they pipe lots of fresh air into gambling places, as it enables people not to stray from their slot machines, which all had enticing names like, "Lone Wolf", "Harvest Moon" and "Larry's Lucky Lobster".

Actually, we were mostly safe from the enticements of the noisy and colorful slot-machines, as who really needs to waste money on such terrible odds? We had planned to try the blackjack, or 21 tables, but the minimum bet was five to five-hundred dollars. They MUST be kidding. So for about an hour I joined my hubby at a table with poker slots. These require a modicum of brain power, as decisions have to made as to which cards you'll stay with, or which cards to replace. I had a lucky machine, as, for only one tiny dollar bill, I was able to play for the whole hour! Either my decisions were right-on or so stupid the machine got totally confused. My hubby must have been annoyed, as he lost his dollar bet in about five minutes, and he is a far better poker player than I. I was able to stop playing, though, after losing my dollar. High rollers we are not!

Also, we were under the impression that gambling establishments have very reasonable food, read: cheap, all-you-can-eat fare. Not great but will stave off starvation. We were dismayed to find that this is no longer true. The restaurants in our hotel were ridiculously expensive! However, there was actually a Starbucks inside the hotel which saved the day, especially because the Reno tap water tastes like arsenic and made me very sick until I figured out not to drink the water. I've never tasted arsenic but I think ant poison is made from it, and I've smelled ant poison a few times. Our hotel was totally off the beaten track, so we could not even walk to a nearby dining establishment, except for a Mexican restaurant with prices the same as the hotels. I think that is called "price fixing." We were captive consumers, and I'm sure, from the hotels perspective, that is the best kind of guests to have.

Okay, they did feature "well" drinks, oh joy, which I have come to learn are drinks that one gets during "happy" hour at a special discount. I guess that's what makes them "well", since there is nothing well or very happy about alcohol in my book. But my husband was happy to get a beer or margarita for only one dollar. It's obvious that the more "well" drinks a person imbibes, the more gambling the guest will try and the more money the consumer will subsequently lose. Ah, ha, it's a "profit deal".

It was basically to my advantage that I suffered from intestinal volcano after my first day there, so I never got taken in with the "well" drinks come-on. My husband pointed out that I "always" get sick when I get to a new location and drink the water. I know about Montezuma's revenge, but is it really possible to get it when traveling to different states and even cities in the US? I didn't think so! Good thing I never became an airline stewardess, which was a childish dream of mine. I really used to love to travel, but I guess if one gets sick at each new port-of-call, traveling ceases to be worth it. I couldn't even drink the water on the last cruise we took. It's possible that they make the water unpotable so captive consumers will buy more sodas, bottled waters or alcohol. Kind of a scary thought. I went for tea, as boiling the water seemed to do the trick.

Anyway, our room and the pool were worth every penny. We asked for a corner room in the west tower, and though the decor needed a lot of updating, the room was HUGE and extremely clean. It had a fantastic view of city lights, and airplanes making their final approach to Reno International Airport. These airplanes passed right in front of our windows. We had a whole wall of windows too. As long as I could get scenes from 9/11 out of my mind, it was okay. We spent alot of time down at the pool, which was very clean and mostly deserted.

Whew! It was a nice getaway and we did enjoy ourselves, but really, it is good to be back home. My husband and I decided this was probably a place that wouldn't warrant a return visit.

Scene of mountains from our plane.
Interior of DIA - an airport in a tent!

An April Snow

Any one for a backyard bar-b-que? The grill is on the right.

This photo was taken yesterday - and today it is still snowing. The photo is of an abandoned bird house that is attached to one of our Ponderosa pine trees. Believe me, it looks better in the snow. So my husband had to get to work yesterday, but they let him go home early. However the freeway was closed because of major accidents that blocked the road. So he took an alternate route, that required he drive through our town, where the snowplow had not yet visited. This meant that, just five or six blocks from home, he got stuck. Though he has 4-wheel drive, he has a Subaru and the clearence under the car is hardly high enough to drive through a foot or more of snow. He did not want to leave the car there, as it was on a main street and he thought someone might slide into it and hit it. I could not get to him since our driveway, which is like Mt. Everest when it snows, was impossible for me and my rear wheel drive station wagon - needed for harp transport or I'd trade in for something So my husband called upon our long suffering neighbor who has a truck and an SUV (and a camper, and and guns and stuff, you get the idea). He rescued him with a rope hitch to pull my husband's subaru out of the ditch that it slid into. Now, on the way home, turning onto our street, his car slid into another ditch. This time another neighbbor was passing by and he has a snow plow attachment on the front of his pickup. Man these are the sort of neighbors to have! So he also had a hitch which he used to pull my husband out. "Who was that masked man?"
End of story, except it is STILL snowing and my husband went to do some errands. Hope he makes it back safely.

The change

Capricorn in White

Winter has returned. There is 2 feet of snow this morning and it is still snowing. That's okay. Now I have time to write in my blog, be contemplative. My daughter has been kind enough to suggest that I need to get this blog organised!
Okay, but later.
I guess my labels for all my posts are all over the place. This sort of thing used to bother me - I was the kind of person who might label all her videos in alphabetical order with a master-list as a backup. Even my spice rack, or cupboards are organised. Though, now it is a system that only I can figure out. It might be menopause that is creating this devil-may-care attitude. I'm not sure. Maybe I just need a vacation. Maybe it is just the arrival of Spring - and it will arrive -eventually. Like death and taxes.

For my money, the best season in our climate, here in the Rockies. Is Autumn. I guess there was a song or something called "Springtime in the Rockies", but that's just a dream. Or something written by a song writer living in Hollywood at the time. It's like a fifty year old woman pretending she is still young and glamorous and a debutant. No body is fooled. Menopause comes to us all, and no big deal.
Not for me anyway, I'm happy with the children I've born. For someone who wanted to start a family, but couldn't, menopause can come as a tragedy indeed the ultimate betrayal.
Menopause is like Autumn. It can not be the same as spring or summer, but it has a definite beauty all the same. If you're going through this time, I heartily suggest that you watch this movie. It's one of my favorites, written by a woman for women. It's called "Somethings Gotta Give." It stars the unlikely combination of Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson. They are great together, and Keaton manages to tone down her ditseyness just enough to be a believable broad having a change-of-life. Oh, it also features Keanu Reeves, and who doesn't like him? I love the part where after an amorous encounter between Keaton and (someone, I won't tell) he asks her about birth control and she answers "menopause" and he says "who's the lucky guy!"

But, I digress. Menopause is absolutely nothing to get all freaked out about. So you lose the desire to organise stuff. I'm sure it is different for every woman cause I've heard so many horror stories, but I was like, hmmm, no periods? So I schlep myself to the doctor (thinking I could be pregnant) they take a blood test, and he tells me. It's menopause. Are you sure? It can't be! Aren't I supposed to get all crazy and feel like crap? The doctor shrugs. It seems they do more of this than anything else. So that's it then? Yes, that is it. It was a bit of a shock, but no use dwelling on it. I'd tell you what I did that made a difference, but nah. Nobody really cares or wants to know. We all have to figure it out for ourselves.

The peace of autumn is great. As the earth looks back with wonder and a bit of wistfulness at what has gone before. There is a quiet joy seeing the life you'd brought forth flourish, grow and change. The colors are even brighter now. More vivid. Or maybe you just see them with different eyes. Nothing has changed, and yet everything has. Of course your spirit is the same as it ever was. That's the part that doesn't change. That is the part that can look at a maple and the fall of it's last burgundy leaf, and say, that's okay. That's life. It is all a glorious pageant. Maybe I'm not the brightest leaf on the tree anymore. But, big freaking deal.
I'm a tenacious one. At least I'm still holding on to the branch. I nod to the others, as a soft autumn breeze plays with my fading colors. There is still time to bask in the sun, enjoy a refreshing shower, smell the mists of September...sense a coming change.

Storm Warning!

This reminds me of the movie "Independance Day", but it's not as cool when the black cloud is directly over your house! No UFO's spotted however. The worst we've had is a huge hail storm, with golf-ball, no, nickel size hail, but I really did not measure them. The storm began when I was just walking out from the grocery store. Let me just say that nickel sized hail sure hurts when it hits you in the face. I survived, but I doubt if the pasque flowers did - good thing I saw them yesterday! Happy Earth day! I don't think the Earth looks very happy today for it's under a dark cloud.

Thursday Thunks

Thursday Thunks (from the meme group)

Have you ever been in a play or musical? Were you in the drama club in high school?
answer: Yes. Many. No, I was not in a Drama Club, but took Theater in school. Mr. Bernal was my favorite teacher.

You are walking down the road and the cops fly by you and stop at the house just a little ways down the street. It's the way you were going to go... do you take a detour to avoid it or do you just keep walking because, hey - you had the idea first! or do you walk by out of complete curiosity?
answer: I would definately take another route to avoid trouble.

I drop a green crayon from the roof and Kimber drops a yellow one - which one will grow wings and fly before it hits the ground?
answer: The yellow crayon definately! It's a lighter color than green which can't fly usually.

What is the first section of the grocery store you go to? And I know that sentence doesn't sound right, but I don't care.
answer: The produce section usually - it's closest to my favorite parking place. It's attractive too.

Do you like questions that have a yes or no answer or do you like to actually think for yourself and come up with something original?
answer: this a trick question? Mostly I like thinking questions unless it's a sentence problem in Math, but things aren't always so black and white, or yes or no.

The wall directly in front of you... whats on it?
answer: Two framed pictures of me as a child. One that appeared in the newspaper,cause my mom was a local symphony harpist and she is with me as a baby, and I'm looking at her (MY) harp and sticking out my tongue as I am smiling. The second is of me at the age of about six. I'm playing a small Irish harp and dressed in Medieval clothes. My face is very round and I'm smiling in a forced way, no teeth showing. I think I was miserable. I had to wear a hair net and I remember I hated my costume since I had to wear a white ruff around my neck. This was very unflattering because I had no neck.

Sea salt?
answer: I like it. It's supposed to be good for you. It is also stronger in saltiness, so you do not have to use as much of it so you get less sodium.

420. You know what it is. It's a time, it's a day, it's a way of life. Did you celebrate yesterday?
answer: Huh? No to all those questions.

Can you read a tape measure?
answer: Yes, of course. I used to work in a Fabric store when I was young and had to know how to measure things, and add and subtract measurements.

The city/town/village that you live in... it's population is.....????
answer: Oh, I don't know. It keeps growing. I think it is close to 3,000.

If a laptop fell out of the sky do you think you could catch it? And if you did, do you think it's Finders Keepers?
answer: No, couldn't catch it and yes, I'd keep it.

Driving down the highway, driving down the interstate, driving down a dirt road that you are sure goes absolutely nowhere... whats the longest distance you have ever driven in one trip?
answer: I don't know, but am sure it was when my husband and I drove cross country from CA to WI and somewhere in the middle of Nebraska we went 300 miles out of the way just to get to a Holiday Inn for the night.

How many licks does it take to get to the center of a tootsie pop?
answer: Never counted because I always give up and bite.

Found Pasque Flowers right in our side yard!

Look what I found when I drove back up our driveway: Pasque flowers! The flowers we had been searching for the other day. Their other name is the Prarie Crocus. They just turn up in our yard in the Spring - usually around Easter. I just LOVE them. They only last a little while. They are only a couple inches off the ground. They are wild, you never know where they will turn up. So now that I found them and snapped a few shots, I feel so much better about the day. It's funny how a little thing like that can change things.

Making an attempt to get writing done

So now, after spending the past hour reading everybody's blog, I'm going to try to organise my own thoughts. And make it interesting! That's the part I hate - interesting to whom? How can some people write about any old thing and make it interesting? I don't know. Maybe the best thing is just to write about what one is interested in, and hopefully, someone else will feel the same way. Is that the idea of having a blog anyway? I'm new to all this, and sharing my thoughts with anyone has always been hard. Sharing my thoughts with friends I don't know is even more difficult.

Anyway, here I sit trying to write, while my Dad keeps coming in, "Do I have a three-hole punch" "No?" "But you had it before?" Where is it?" "Look at these papers I'm trying to hold together, and the staples aren't working." This is all said by Dad.

Okay, I say and start looking through all the drawers at my desk. Ah ha! I just find the clothes- pins I was looking for, as my student's have music books that won't stay open. I forgot the clothespins were in this drawer. So I take the clothes pins out of the drawer (I'm so organized!) and set them on the desk. I explain to Dad that I had been looking for them. He sees them, thinks I said they're for him, and take them to clip his papers together. I try to explain, but he doesn't hear me. He walks back to his room with MY clothespins. I get back to writing in my blog.

Now Dad comes back and says he has found the 3-hole puncher! Hurray. He says he must have had it all the time. Now he brings in a brand new pair of navy-blue trousers that he'd inadvertantly cut a hole into while removing the tag. What should he do with these? Throw them away? (I sense an innuendo here, but refuse to fall for it.) No, I'm not going to jump up and say I'll mend them, which I know he's hoping for.

I suggest that he show them to the dry-cleaners who will be showing up this afternoon - maybe they can mend them. I say, "you were going to answer the door when the cleaners come, were'nt you?" Now he's angry. Maybe my voice was a bit harsh, but for God's sake, now I've completely forgotten what I'm going to write! I'll be back tomorrow. For now, I've got to get out of here. But no, now Dad needs some needle-nosed pliers for removing staples. Where are those? I look through my desk...he comes back with the clothespins and puts them on my desk with an exaggerated "Thank You..." Now I feel guilty. Shoot. So much for this writing project I was going to attempt

The springtime visitation

They're back again! First thing this morning, when just a hint of light was pale beneath our curtains, we hear the woodpeckers rapid fire on the house. Once again, my husband bolts out of bed, and bangs hard on the side of the wall. The bird flies away. I know because it's scolding all the way, like "how dare you interrupt me while I'm making a hole in the side of your house?". My husband settles back into bed and five minutes later, as soon as we fall back to sleep, the alarm clock goes off. Isn't that always the way? So he goes to take his shower, and the bird seems to know, because he's back doing an imitation of a machine-gun on the side of our house. Then from farther away, I hear another woodpecker on our neighbors house. I do as I always do - ignore it, but this time it seems to be an orchestrated chorus of a loud "tap-a-tap-a-tap" on our house, answered by a distant, "tap-a-tap-a-tap-tap," from the next door neighbors. Last year we had a painter climb up to the high east corner of our house and put some metal siding (painted to match the house) over the big hole the bird made last spring. At this rate our house will resemble swiss cheese! I don't know if the birds are pecking for food or for a comfortable living arrangement, or perhaps to attract a mate. Maybe all three, but I wish they'd use a tree instead, as all good woodpeckers are supposed to do!
You may wonder why there is a picture of a blue jay and NOT a woodpecker above my post. I'll tell you. This quiet, beautiful, bird seems to be building a nest in one of our backyard trees. I've been trying to get a snapshot of it, but each time I walk outside it flies away. Finally I gave up and stuck up this Google image in place of the great digital image from my camera. This picture looks most like the jays we have around here. She is carefully gathering soft mounds of matted grass, damp and crushed, from the weight of the layer of snow which just melted. She gathers a soggy bunch in her beak and flys away to build, and then comes back for more. I imagine she already has the frame of sticks and now she is lining the inside of the nest with the softened grass. Last summer we had a huge magpie nest in a tree beside the jays tree. I hope the jays are better house keepers because the magpie nest was falling apart and a complete mess. Pieces of it would fall on you if you walked beneath it. Maybe the nest was raided by the local family of foxes. It's a sad thought but they have to eat too.
I was appreciating the cycle of the seasons and how the animals work with it -as human's forget to do. The grass would not provide such good nesting material if the snow had not recently melted. It's like magic how the earth is so perfectly orchestrated, that the lives of its creatures, and us, are so intimately tied to the cycle of the seasons. Now if I can just get a picture...(or that pesky woodpecker.)

Wildflowers there for the picking

I could not believe what I was confronted with at the post office today! An empty post office! I even had to ring the bell to get a clerk out to help me. To my shocked inquiries she said that there was a mob of people earlier, and they open at 7:00 am. I just know that the bigger post office, about a mile away, was jammed with last-minute filers, like me.

We have a tiny post office that is for a small town that's closer to where we live than the bigger town which is also in our county. This cute little post office is forgotten about. It's mostly full of PO Boxes (cause many homes in the town don't have mailboxes.) This small town is determined to allow civilization to grow up around them. It is very quaint, but in an unself-conscious way - not a quaintness designed for selling something. The houses in this hillside town harken back to the 18oo's where the train used to stop for "summer wildflower picking excursions". The houses are along the line of small summer cabins, some of them rather decrepit looking, scattered in disarray up a steep hillside. Going to this post-office, with it's one clerk, a woman that I've seen here for years, is like stepping back in time. This was actually what we had in mind when we first moved away from the zoo that is California to our new rustic area. Then big developments came putting up ticky-tacky rows of houses, many now waiting to be sold. But here, in the one-horse town life goes on much as it used to. I even saw a big hand-made sign for Texas hold 'em poker. Gambling is illegal here, so the residents just get.s together to have fun. They even have a yule- log hunt at Christmas time, which is big news, the winner on the cover of our local newspaper.

This town has a small lake nearby, beside the railroad tracks, which freezes over each winter and on which people go ice-fishing or ice-skating. It's lovely in the summer too, when there are fishing contests for the kids, and trails for biking or walking. The coal trains that lumber past are exciting to see and count - often with at least 100 boxcars filled with coal - which sometimes blow off on a windy day. One can collect lumps of coal for one's fireplace if you have a real fireplace and not one fueled by gas. In the winter the air is filled with the comforting scent of woodsmoke from Franklin stoves and such.

There is one local bar with an Irish name. In good weather, it is surrounded by oceans of motorcycles every weekend. Even a local quarterback hero, from the really big city, 50 miles away, has been seen there, with his coach (both now retired). This is an NFL quarterback and coach! My husband saw them there once, and everybody was cool, not swamping them for autographs, etc.

The wildflowers? Well, they seem to be rather scarce these days. Or maybe one just has to look more carefully for them when summer rolls around. For now this small deserted post office on income tax day, was a rare wildflower indeed.

Wishcasting Wednesday

Wishcasting Wednesday question 4/14/2010: "What do you wish to be gentle with?"

My Wish: I wish to be more gentle with myself.

After reading other wishes for today, I see that my wish is not very unique. But I know I'm too hard on myself, and much more gentle with everyone else except myself. I need to learn not to blame myself for everything. To realize that because of my health, the rules of my game are different. My answer isn't unique, but I am. Being gentle with myself I will remember this, and give myself a break once in a while.

Dietary Indiscretions

I really don't know what got into me last Saturday. By this I'm referring to my "dietary indiscretion". How's that for a term? This is a phrase I learned from our veterinarian. A while ago we had a cute little mutt, who was fond of eating nearly everything she came across from tennis balls to the neighbors garbage. You will probably not be too surprised to learn that she is no longer with us.

I remember our first vet visit: our vet, in all solemnity gave his diagnosis of our dog's problem - the dreaded "dietary indiscretion." I nearly fell off my chair laughing. How can a dog ever be discreet about their food choices anyway? But, seriously, it's often a life-or-death matter for animals, who often don't have enough sense to know what's good for them. A little like human beings.

Thinking about Hamburgers, that reminds me of something that happened the last time our family traveled to England. Here we were, stopped at a local pub for lunch. Being the Americans that we are, we ordered the safest thing we could find on the pub menu. Not bangers or toad-in-the-hole, but real hamburgers for our table. While we were waiting in starving anticipation, we noticed something odd, two cats had come over and were under our table circling our legs. Oh fun! The children were not used to seeing pets in restaurants, so they had great fun with the animals while we waited. Finally the hamburgers arrived. We bit into them with gusto. Ugh. They tasted nothing like McDonalds. We were embarrassed to leave our plates untouched so we came up with a plan: feed the hamburgers to the cats! We tried and tried but the cats were actually scared when confronted by the bits of hamburger we dropped beneath the table. Scared by cooked hamburger! They sniffed it and gave us the cold shoulder. I wonder what was in that meat that even a cat (who will bite off a mouses head given the opportunity) wouldn't touch? Scary thought. It was probably in Saturdays whopper sandwich that I so indiscreetly bolted down. Ugh.

Hamburgers be hanged!

You know that "whopper" meal we had on Saturday? Well, it did me in. So much for having one of them every month! Dad and my hubby are fine (of course, as nothing gets them upset, except for hot dogs, which make my husband throw up.) Anyway, I should have known not to be a hypocrite and eat stuff I say I never eat. I swear, that hamburger must have had some shellfish in it (which gives me a similar sick effect.) So what more can I say about being sick to my stomach for the past two days? It's not very interesting.

So this is what I eat when I feel sick: matzo and plain yogurt with banana on top. Of course tea is always on the menu. That settles the tummy as nothing else can - plain green tea or jasmine is best.

Anyway, Sunday was nice in a way. I just read a book all day. It is wonderful to be sick with something my family can understand. If one is throwing up nobody can say your faking it. Oh. Not that anyone ever says that to me, but I often get this reaction from strangers, who say, "Are you really sure you have MS?" I hate that. I know they are just trying to be nice and encouraging, so at least I have proof in the films from my MRI's.

I recently read about this young neurologist who also happens to have MS - now that would be the doctor to have. But, I digress, for I was talking about yesterday and reading. I read the book "Water for Elephants" which was good, although the title is misleading. It's mostly a story of people who are in a circus during the depression. There is an elephant in it, but I thought it was going to be more focused on the pachyderms, and it wasn't. I'm not that into the circus, but love elephants.

My student wins big!

Today is a good day, even tho we're working on our taxes. Nothing like waiting until the last minute! I would be a mess, but my husband seems to have it all under control. We had to stop at staples and get the new "Quicken" forms for filling out our taxes and that is a life saver. We tried once having them done by an accounting firm, but that was a bigger headache than it was worth, turning in every statement and slip of paper and stuff.

We took Dad on a shopping excursion today - he likes to go out in public once in a while and believe me, I understand. So we did some errands and then took him to walmart - well, I know, I know, they are very 'evil.' But with an older person in tow, Walmart has great advantages: shopping carts! These are great for old people and ms people too, because you can wander around on your own power and still have something to hold onto. I and my Dad can really move when we're pushing a shopping cart! Watch out! We make a small train, each with our own shopping cart. Where can on shop for hearing aid batteries, milk, lettuce, towels, and men's pajamas other than at Walmart or some equally evil store (that takes advantage of poor workers in third world countries or buys most of their stuff from China?) I don't feel guilty in the least. Even upscale stores like Macy's import most of their stuff from China anyway. Check the tags. Walmart also makes a point of hiring handicapped and retired people, so I say, good for them!

I even managed not to shop for myself since I'm on a definite boycott cutting out all shopping for useless stuff like clothes. I guess one gets to a certain age, and you really stop caring anymore. I even wore the same outfit the other last week for three days in a row. I'm thinking of paring way down and giving stuff away. Just keeping the basics. I was realizing the other day that in the olden days people just wore one or two work clothes and then a nice dress for special occasions. Now we get new clothes all the time. It's ridiculous and a waste of money for a woman of my age.

Anyway, then we were very rash and went to a fast food place and got whopper style burgers! Dad said it was like heaven after eating low fat all the time. So we agreed that we could do this once a month and it would be okay. Dad was also very happy because I found a book he is enjoying reading very much, and that makes us happy because there is peace in the house when he's reading. It's a book called "Roosevelt and Churchill" and all about the two past world leaders in very hard times in world history. I actually think that the two were related!

I just got a nice call from one of my students who competed in her 4-H talent contest playing her harp. She won a blue ribbon and highest honors for her instrument division (considered a percussive instrument, so she was up against about 25 pianists.) That is quite an accomplishment - since the harp never wins out when compared to the piano - mostly because piano is so much louder.

One good thing about my teaching style is that I will never give up on a student! At first, she just didn't get it, but it's funny, as soon as a student gets to be around ten years old, everything starts making sense. Before that, lessons are really a waste of time. My new teaching style is to look for the things that a student is doing right and give lots of praise for that - sort of like training a new puppy. It has worked wonders for so many. So now I can add her accomplishment to my "brag sheet" which is getting impressive if I do say so myself. I've had students who played at Carnegie Hall, in Mainland China, in Australia at the Sydney Opera House and in New Zealand. I've had two students receive college scholarships too. I guess that's not so bad for a teacher who doesn't even play anymore. I guess part of me is glad I didn't give in to discouragement and quit. My students do well, and the proof is in the pudding...
Another good thing about today was we could actually walk on the yard around our house! It used to be under a few feet of snow, but now its suddenly melted and we can get places we couldn't just last week. Spring is really here! My husband and I searched for pasquel flowers, which usually spring up around Easter. They are low pretty little lavender flowers that have cheerful yellow centers and grow like weeds. Unfortunately it's possibly too early for them, for we didn't see a one! Mostly our yard is covered in pine needles - which BTW are very acidic for the soil. Conseqently we can grow lavender and peonies and rhubarb. I also try for a couple of lilac bushes which remind me of my childhood in Wisconsin, yet they seem to stay a bush - we used to have lilac trees in Wisconsin. Or maybe they just seemed so big because I was little at the time?


I am still sizzling in anger. I used to be a nice sucker, but now I've really had it. I always thought that telemarketers were people too. I figured they bleed just like we do, ya know? So I always ran, often groggy from being woken up, or disturbed while I was doing something important, to answer the dumb calls. Caller ID helped limit them, cause I can check the number and just not answer, but often they get by.

Can you believe that today, after telling the marketer in a rather loud voice to stop bothering me, and then hanging up, this person actually called me back! I hung up, they called back. This went on for the next five minutes. Finally I told them that this was harassment. They then had the nerve to ask why I bothered to have a telephone if I didn't want calls ("that would help me lower my phone bill.") The absolute nerve. I explained that the purpose of my phone line was none of their business.

Then I actually had to leave my receiver off the hook, and today of all days, while Dad is at the hospital having tests done.

I called our phone carrier and complained about it, but they said that it wasn't a call from them, and they could do nothing about it. Then the representative from our company had the gall to ask me if I wouldn 't like to hear about their "great new promotional offers"?!!!! Aargh. Yup, there's one born every minute.

Thumbs UP!

Yesterday was a very busy day, but a good day. I learned a lot about myself and this instrument I teach, also about our bodies.

The body is an important part of music - one has to have a fully functioning body to successfully accomplish one's aim in the art of music. I have taught so many people to play the harp, you'd think I'd learn something here - how one's mental climate creates bodily affects. Take, for example, thumbs!

Thumbs are not just important for humans to pick things up, hitchhike, or differentiate between us and the apes, but thumbs are very important for playing the harp, and I imagine playing other musical instruments as well. Yesterday I had a student suffering from thumb issues. Everyone knows that the thumb must be kept UP to play the harp, and I've taught this to everyone. But there is something else about thumbs that must be considered: which direction does the thumb want to go? If it's like mine, it tends to bend backwards, away from the hand. This is not good for playing, as your melody notes are not strong. Everyone knows that the right hand thumb plays the melody note in most harp music. What a revelation. This student always musically stumbled because her thumbs were so weak - and a weak thumb bends back from the hand. We worked for half an hour trying to play with her thumb pushing on the string towards her palm. I just realized, after nearly 40 years of playing the harp, that my thumbs have been all wrong!

This has been a very humbling revelation since I thought I knew everything about playing the harp! This brings to mind a master-class I attended once, given by an Austrian harpist. He spoke English but occasionally had trouble with certain words. When it came my turn to play for him, he kept mentioning how I had to work on my "tump" technique. I nodded and smiled undoubtedly in a self-satisfied way, but had no idea (until this day!) what he was talking about! "Your tump, your tump, it's all wrong," he would shout. I thought he was speaking of a special musical style or form of interpretation known perhaps only to foreign harpists! Dah. When all the time he was talking about my thumbs!!!!!

When my student got her thumbs going in the right direction, suddenly her music sounded like music! There was a melody in there with all those notes.

Furthermore, yesterday, I had three new students. This is unheard of for me. One of them was a young woman who called me to set up the first lesson. I thought then, just from the sound of her voice, that she was going to be 'difficult'. She had a tone in her voice that I interpreted as being challenging. Like, "how dare you presume to teach the harp?". I was all prepared to throw her out, and had some ready responses in my defense if she became insulting. Jeeze, do I feel dumb. Well, she came, and she was as meek as a lamb, had a very small lap harp and knew nothing about music. However her thumbs were good. Her lesson was actually enjoyable, but I realized how one can create complete fictions about situations that are purely imagined - how one's ego can get all bent out of shape over the slightest imagined provocation. This must be what is called "defensiveness". I realised that it may not even been this girl who had called me, and she was just feeling inferior herself, and had a brazen friend do the calling.

Wow -two lessons - of the personal psychological variety - in one day! Maybe people whose thumbs bend backwards are a bit dense, like me, or wildly imaginative, or both. Which way do your thumbs bend?

Wishcasting Wednesday...

The wishcasting question this Wednesday is "how do you want to bloom?"

My answer, my wish, is to bloom usefully. Flowers are pretty but I prefer the dual nature of herbs. They might not be as colorful but they have many uses. I want to be a flower that can be used for something helpful. I'd like to be a sunflower which, though dramatic and attractive, is also valued for its seeds and oil. I love the yellow of a sunflower and the fact that its named for the sun, which I need on a daily basis, just like the flower that turns it's face to the warmth and light. I like that sunflowers are related to the daisy which is almost a weed. It's uncomplicated and That's how I'd like to be, not a flower that needs to be cultivated and overprotected or raised in a hothouse like an orchid. But, if left alone can bloom anywhere and in the harshest environments. Not ordinary, but extraordinary!

a newborn alpaca!

Happy Easter! This picture was taken yesterday. We were going for a drive and passed an alpaca farm, where we stopped to look at the new arrival. Its the little guy that the white alpacas are looking at. He was just born yesterday, the day before we were there to take this snapshot. They have to keep the newborns separated from the herd as they can be trampled. Mother alpacas are very attentive parents, however this was the first offspring of the brownish alpaca standing beside the baby. The trainer/handler told us that alpaca mothers (or even the handlers) do not know they are pregnant, and they will just drop the baby where they're standing! These alpacas from this farm are raised for their fur which is warmer than wool and less itchy - I guess it's big business around our area - they also raise them as sires for breeding or to show. Alpacas are considered to be very docile and gentle animals unlike their relatives, llamas. Their coats keep them warm in our climate and even their droppings are perfect as manure. I'll keep you posted with more photos as the baby ages!

The play of light

Thanks to everyone who wished with me yesterday! This whole thing is new to me, but I imagine it's all a very good thing. (Not wishing per say, but being part of a wishing group)!
We are going to take tea out here, sitting in my victorian style porch set. I know, I know, this is no longer the "style" anymore, but who can change their furnature according to the latest magazine photos, as you would change your shoes? Not me! Styles change so fast and its just so retailers can make money - I am not going to play by their rules any more! This set has been out here during many winters and it's gotten a bit ratty, so be careful! One have the chairs is getting ready to break through in the seat - that is the chair I have never sat on. Really.
This morning I was running around the house like a lunatic trying to capture photos in the great light, before the clouds rolled in. I just made an interesting connection: everything looks beautiful depending on how the light hits it. Hmmm. There's a good analogy for everything in life, isn't it? Even ugly things can look great in the light. On the other hand, depending on how the light hits it, beautiful can be made to look ugly. It's all in the perspective! Like my wicker set in the picture I think looks pretty nice and inviting. However, in the absence of the play of light, its really awfully sad and ugly. Wow what a discovery! Now my photos will really have personality.
This reminds me of when I was taking a portrait painting class and the teacher was going on about how important the "terminal" line was. I'd never heard of a terminal line before, but had heard of a terminal illness. (No, not mS) A terminal illness is one where a life is going to meet its end. Light to darkness. According to the art teacher this is where all the details show up in clear relief. When dark meets light or vice-versa. Something to ponder huh?
I wonder if this is how all forms of art get their meaning? In the play of good against evil?
I'll leave you with this thought as I see more clouds coming in and I've got to go out and capture more light and contrast. Contrast. The thing that makes life worth living!