Monday, October 29, 2012

Yikes !

We all love the trill of a songbird and what is more peaceful than waking to it? But that was far from the case Saturday morning.

I was in my office with the windows closed when I heard a sound that I couldn’t identify. At first I thought it was the wind because I could see the tree branches bending; but, it wasn’t that type of sound. It was more like a shrill buzzing and was getting louder by the second.

Of course I ran to the window and that’s when I saw, to my amazement, a swarm of birds so thick and large that it nearly turned the sky black. They were small and dark and their wings beat frantically as they whirled overhead. I guess it was the wings that were making the noise.

When I went outside I watched in awe as the swarm flew over me … some of them perching for a brief second on a tree branch but then forging ahead with the others. It lasted about 10 minutes and then they were gone !

I’ve watched migrating birds many times over the years but this was entirely different. These little guys seemed to be running (flying) scared and it’s left me to wonder … was Hurricane Sandy just a wing‘s breath away?

Has anyone else experienced this and what’s your take on it?

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Female Nomad … comes alive in POLAND

In 2001 Rita Golden Gelman’s amazing book Tales of a Female Nomad was published. I, literally, couldn’t put it down once I started reading. Rita writes of giving up most of her worldly belongings and leading a nomadic existence in the world at large. Her adventures and the insight that she gains from her travels is mind boggling.

In 2003 I was thrilled to meet Rita. She was on a retreat in NY State near where my daughter and her husband live and she graciously accepted my invitation to lunch. Here we are:

Although we are far from being intimate pals we have kept in touch since then. I am on a list of friends who travel with her by email and it is a never-ending adventure. She always stays with locals, whether it be in a mud hut or a guesthouse. She is the exact opposite of the “ugly American” as she wanders the globe making friends and advocating for world peace. We are so lucky to have her representing our country.

Her latest email was sent from Warsaw where the Polish version of Talesof a Female Nomad was being launched on Oct. 17th. I’m so happy for Rita and hope it will be a huge success.
If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it… but make sure you have plenty of reading time. You won’t want to put it down !

Monday, October 22, 2012

A great loss … then and now !

George McGovern is one of the few politicians to earn my total respect and admiration. He was a mild mannered Senator who advocated tirelessly for peace and an end to the Vietnam war.

In 1972 he was the Democratic Party nominee to run for President against the incumbent Richard Nixon. As part of his acceptance speech he uttered these words: "Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad."

His message was met with great applause but when it came to actually voting for President the “silent majority” of the American public, in their great wisdom, overwhelmingly voted for Richard M. Nixon. I will leave it up to you to determine what this says about our ability to choose wisely.

Now this gentle man has died at the age of 90. I can’t help but think how things might be different if we had only listened to him. In an interview a few years ago he was asked about this time in his life and he sadly stated: "As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam. I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again.

I was wrong."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The confession of a “wannabe juicer”.

Two of my younger friends seem to have blossomed over night. One has lost quite a bit of weight and they both have complexions that a model would die for. When I questioned them about it they gave all the credit to juicing.
This isn’t a new concept to me since my daughter has advocated it for years, but I never took it seriously until now. Living alone is not conducive to eating well and I know that my daily intake of vegetables and fruit is nowhere near where it should be. On top of that I’ve felt listless and achy lately … just not up to par.

OK ! Decision made … I’ll start my juice feast today. I went to our local market and picked up a cabbage, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, tart apples, a lemon and lots of carrots. I was loaded for bear and all would have been fine if I hadn’t gone down the candy aisle and seen the Chocolate Peanut Clusters on sale.

Now, this wouldn’t be a problem for most people. Buy the darn candy, take it home and treat yourself to one a day. But that’s not me. I am constitutionally unable to eat just one of anything when it comes to snacks so I try to keep them out of the house.

However, I was very good today. I actually came home, washed all the produce and processed it through the juicer. It made about two quarts and the taste is awesome. So far, so good … and time to reward myself with a peanut cluster !

You guessed it …it’s confession time. That darn bag of candy is empty, my stomach is groaning and I feel like curling up in a ball on the couch . Will I never learn?????

But then I remember that one of the big benefits of juicing is to detox the body and I’m determined to start all over. I figure I‘ll take it “one day at a time” like we do in another program that I follow and I promise to let you know how it turns out.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Art as Catharsis.

This is my niece Wendy. You may remember that I blogged about her in Sept. She is spending the months of August, September and October as a resident artist at the Scuola di Grafica in Venice, Italy.

This is a dream come true for Wendy but her joy is tinged with sadness since she is also grieving the loss of her mother, my oldest sister Mary, who passed away 10 months ago. The picture that you see here is posted on the Scuala blog site and a partial quote from that write-up has Wendy saying, “All my self-portraits have been looking in the mirror and drawing on the page at the same time. You are able to capture characteristics coming out that you would not get if you were looking straight on. It’s an interesting reflection process.”

I thought that was an interesting comment, especially in view of my reaction when I took a good look at the portrait. Without her realizing it Wendy had drawn a portrait that seemed eerily to combine all the features that I remember from my sister Mary, her mother and from my mother, her grandmother.

When I brought this to Wendy’s attention she agreed but said she had done nothing intentional to get this effect and I believe that.

Her artistic ability to draw made the picture possible but I also believe it was her subconscious mind that guided her hand … freeing her to grieve in a healthy way by combining the features of these three loving women into one. Truly…catharsis by art.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Daily Doggie Exercise … no excuses !

In my last entry I talked about my daughter, her husband, 2 dogs and chickens coming to visit. As I mentioned I love having them with me but there are a few drawbacks.

One thing is that their dogs, as well behaved as they are, are used to having room to run and play. My house is situated very near a busy road and unless they are piled in the car and taken to a dog run they get little exercise.
But wait ! I have a treadmill that I use daily. Why can’t they do the same? We decided to give it a try.

It turned out to be a two person job but the dogs took right to it. It worked like this … we turned the treadmill on to a brisk pace and then my son-in-law situated one of the dogs on the very back end of the runway while still holding her tight and not letting her down. My daughter in the meantime settled in front of the treadmill machine with a small piece of carrot in her hand. As soon as the dogs were released they tried their darndest to run and get that carrot. It was amazing how well this worked.
Of course they outwitted the machine but they still had to do a lot of peddling to make it to the end and doing it over and over gave them plenty of exercise.

It was hysterical to see them scramble but when I tried to get an action shot it turned out to be nothing but a blur so I had to settle for these. I’m sure your imagination can picture it though.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

No “Funky Chicken” music here…

It’s my son-in-law serenading the “ladies”. He’s combining his daily violin practice session with the chickens time out to roam. I doubt very much if the “Funky Chicken” was part of his repertoire since it would certainly be beneath the dignity of these two !

I took this picture in April when he, my daughter, their two dogs and three chickens were visiting with me. That sounds like a very full house but I love it when they visit. The animals are their “children” and, in lots of ways, they are much easier to baby sit than the other kind ! The dogs are very well trained and the chickens

…well, the chickens are what they are and they love foraging in the grass but it takes an eagle eye (or a soft tune on a violin) to keep them from scurrying off.

They have nothing to complain about, however. I had a nice coop constructed on the back of my house for them, (designed and built by my oldest son) and they showed their thanks by supplying me with eggs daily .

It was a win-win situation and fun too !

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A bit of ELVIS trivia …

I just heard the tail end of a radio show recently and the narrator said that Graceland, the Elvis Presley homestead in Memphis, Tennessee, was the 2nd most visited house in the US after the Whitehouse.

I really found that hard to believe. What about Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, or the wonderful FDR home in Hyde Park, New York … or many others from our historic past?

Well, a search of the web did give me some answers. Evidently over 600,000 visitors a year trek to Graceland but more than that visit the Biltmore Estate in my home state of North Carolina yearly so there goes the authenticity of the Elvis statement.

  However it really doesn’t matter. Elvis is, and always will be, “the King” and, although he died in 1977 his fame has grown stronger with each passing year. I guess we all have our favorite memories of him and mine is his rendition of “All Shook Up”. Remember these lyrics:

“A well'a bless my soul
What'sa wrong with me?
I'm itchin' like a man in a fuzzy tree
My friends say I'm actin' wild as a bug
I'm in love … I'm all shook up.
Mm mm mm, mm, yay, yay”

Not exactly regal but he could get away with it and still retain his status as King. His fame has never wavered and, in 1993, a commemorative stamp was issued in his honor.

So I say …“Long live the ‘King’ and let’s hope he’s the only “royalty” to ever Grace-our-land !”