Thursday, January 27, 2011

Music to My Ears.....

I am not musically gifted. Tried taking trumpet lessons when I was in second grade, but that was only because Eddie Santoro was taking lessons and he was so cute. That and my uncle T actually had a trumpet that I could use. The only thing I truly loved was the red velvet lining of the trumpet case. Growing up, one of my friends took piano lessons and I would go over to visit and she would try & teach me a song on her piano. I think there was a song called Hiawatha that she eventually did get me to learn. I would say that  I discouraged her from ever becoming a music teacher.
I can't sing a note..well I can sing a note but only neighborhood dogs can hear it ! But boy, do I LOVE music. The first record I ever heard was at my friend Kathy's house. It was her brother Coffee's 45 of Jingle Bell Rock. They had one of those consoles with a TV (black & white) and a turntable that rolled out when you pressed a button. How modern ! We played it while her brother wasn't home, he would have killed us if he knew. I don't have alot of music memories until I was 11-12 when the Beatles invaded. Oh, I had a portable record player, and my mom would buy a record that she liked once in a while and we would play them. I have a very clear memory of playing Elvis' Wooden Heart and the Righteous Brothers' Ebb Tide. Then came Meet the Beatles. My friend Kathy & I played that album over & over until we wore it out. I dreamt of marrying Paul...I had a Beatle wig and boots. Loved those boots, fake alligator with a big heel and chain on the side. I jingled all the way to my sixth grade classes.
In my high school years, we had an eight track at home and on Sundays my dad would play Johnny Cash and show tunes. Fiddler on the Roof, Pirates of Penzeance, Carousel. I would spend  some weekends at my cousins, and my aunt M would be playing Tex Ritter, There's  Blood on the Saddle. (I can still sing a few of the lyrics) My aunt M was a soprano and she could SING. I learned to appreciate Jimmy Hendrix from my sister K, and BB King from the "hippies" in my senior year art class.
Over the years my music tastes have evolved and at this point in my life, I don't think there is a type of music that I haven't listened to and appreciated. Now, mind you, I don't love it all. I am a big fan of  Funk, hip-hop and rap, but not gansta rap. I think Eminem is a talented guy, but don't care to listen to alot of his lyrics. Miles Davis, John Coltrane...I love smooth jazz, but be-bop not so much. I do still like a show tune, I can actually sing along with most of them . Carousel being one of my faves, Walk On is a big tear jerker. Classical, yes, love DeBussey's Arabesque #1. Still love to dance to Thriller, imitating some of Jackson's great moves. Can't Moon Walk though.
My kids grew up with albums , eight tracks & cassettes of the Moody Blues, George Clinton, Earth ,Wind & Fire, Kool & the Gang. Also Barry Manilow, Carole King and Carly Simon. I am a big Michael Jackson Fan.. How great was the Thriller album? I have my son T on super 8 film singing Joel's Big Shot, complete with mike.And I am so glad to see that they like all kinds of music, too. Both girls like a little bit of country..didn't get that from me. My grandchildren are being brought up on Metallica, Funk, Hip Hop, Black Eyed Peas and Billy Joel, Taylor Swift,  and Rich Charette's I Love Mud. (The kids concerts are priceless)
I can tell you , as I get older and actually slow down enough to really listen,  I hear all kinds of other music. I love being on the beach and listening to the surf. I love sitting in my living room and listening to the birds chirping away at the feeder. I love being in the middle of a family outing and hearing all of the family talking at once. I love it when my grandchildren sleep over and I listen to their sleeping noises and their soft rhythmic breathing. I love putting a shell up to my ear and "hearing" the ocean. I love to hear the wind blow across the tall grass outside our offices.I love to visit my friend M and hear the water going over the dam by her house. I have developed a real appreciation for ALL things musical. All of these things are now music to my ears, and you can hear it too, if you just take time to really listen.

PS- I read The Shipping News last week. Hadn't read anything by  Annie Proulx before and have seen this book around for quite a while and just never picked it up. It was one of the staff's picks at my local library, and I am glad I read it. I will be looking for another of  Ms Proulx's books, for sure.
I also ordered from NetFlix, Pillars of the Earth, the Ken Follett book turned into mini series. I did not have high expectations that it would do the book justice. It was such a great story.  I think the movie flowed along pretty well, but the acting was not very good. The book was so gripping..the actors were so bland. I did not even finish watching it. Instead I may re-read the book and it's companion, World Without End. They were both spectactular!!
Please stay "tuned".

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Sleigh bells ring, can YOU hear them?

I suppose I should take down the Christmas decorations. (I do not like that word should)  My decorations are so pretty, and I only put up a few things, I want to keep them up for a while longer. What's the harm? If I lived in a manse, I would have a room  that was all Christmas all the time. I would sneak into that room and take it all in , at least once a week. It seems that I have never lost that magical feeling for Christmas, that childhood feeling. When the Polar Express movie came out, I finally understood why I felt that way. I want to always "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells.
We had magical Christmases when I was a kid. We always wrote letters to Santa and my dad would take them over to the stove and light them up because he said the smoke would go all the way up to the North Pole and Santa would know exactly what we wrote.  My dad took on extra work so that my mom could put on a big layaway at ChildWorld, the local toy store.  She always went way overboard, and the neighborhood kids would always want to come over after Christmas to see what we got. There was always such a pile of toys ! On Christmas day, after we opened a million presents at home (there were six of us kids, so it always looked like a million) we would pile into the wagon and ride up the street to my grandmother's house and again, there was a huge stack of gifts. We usually had dinner right there, the best dinner. We didn't need to hurry back home because we had so many new toys to play with right there.
We always got new dolls, all of the girls anyway. My brother got GI Joe's, which I guess is the same. The year I was 14, I asked for a baby doll & crib. Got them & loved them dearly. Always loved the baby dolls, had quite a large "family" of them. (Unfortunately later that year , we had a house fire and to this day I can remember seeing my dolls out on the lawn all melted. Terrible sight)
Lucky for me, I had two girls of my own, so I was able to buy dolls again for Christmas ! For the boys, Masters of the Universe & Star Wars figures. I tried to keep my own children's Christmas magical, because it was such a big part of my own life growing up.  I did  the best I could to get everything on their lists and then some. What a pile of gifts on Christmas Eve, under the tree,  just waiting for the big rush down the stairs. And all four of them squealing, "Just what I wanted, just what I always wanted". I have granddaughters and grandsons now and once again, I can buy dolls & Star Wars figures. Of course that has never stopped me, I have plenty of dolls & toys to play with...right at my own house. I hope I "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells for the rest of my life.
So, I think I will leave up the decorations for alittle while longer. I want to feel "Christmasey" for a little while longer. I want to sit and remember the good stuff, just alittle while longer. I hope I "hear" the jingle of sleigh bells for the rest of my life.What's the harm?

PS- I read a Richard Russo novel last week. That Old Cape Magic. Could not put it down. The way people's lives twist & turn, Russo writes that so well.  Please stay tuned......

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ovaltine & PJ'S.....

I am a reader. Let me re-state that...I AM A READER.  I always have a book open and have ever since I learned how to read. I get so engrossed in books that I may stay in my pj's all weekend and read. A good book, a fresh baked loaf of bread,  jam & Ovaltine. I make no apologies. (this is how I spent this past weekend, as a matter of fact)  I have an eclectic bunch of favorite authors...John Irving, Richard Russo, Larry McMurtry, Gregory Maguire, Anita Shreve, Elin Hilderbrand, Ursula Hegi....too name a few..and anxiously await anything  that my fave authors are releasing.  I also enjoy the ever increasing flock of first time authors. One of them could become my next favorite.
I appreciate a good book, but I do finish reading most books even if they end up being not so great. There have been very few books that I will not finish reading. Some books I will read half-way or more and decide that it is such a labor to finish, that I skim the rest to see how it ends. I don't regret these types of books. I always think I absorb some good out of even a mediocre book. Some sliver of insight into peoples lives, a footnote in history, or an author's style.
I always read reviews of a book, so I can have a feel of where the author will take me  before I buy. Books are expensive. I visit my neighborhood  library every couple of weeks, but don't always find what I am looking for. I may have to go on a list and wait until it comes back in. Sometimes that list is long.
Which brings me to my new toy, the Kindle. ( a most excellent Christmas gift from all my kids) Almost any book I want, right there in my purse. A whole library at my fingertips any time of day or night. Books range from $0 to $20 or more. Now , yes, you could go to Borders with a coupon and get a deal on a book. But I have never walked out of Borders with a free book. So I think this new techno library/bookstore  is awesome. For every book there are plenty of reviews. I enjoy reading the reviews, it is like being in  a book club, so many insights on any given book. One of my favorite Kindle apps. Love my Kindle.

So the "moral "of today's blog is this: Please pick up a book or get yourself a Kindle. Better yet put it on your Wish List...even if you can only find the time for a chapter a day or even less. It stimulates your mind more than anything else I can think of. And do your kids a favor, read to them and have them read to you. In pj's with a warm cup of Ovaltine.

Oh.... PS....the book I read this weekend? Salt Dancers by Ursula Hegi. One of the most beautifully written books I have ever read..and I have read many, many books. This author can grab you and not let go until you finish the book. And then you  are not quite finished because you have to sit and think about it for awhile after.  The story of a broken childhood and the chance to mend it, 23 years later. I got trapped into these characters lives  like I was living in the same house with them.   I don't know how Hegi does it, how she can write about something with such authority, without having lived it. I guess that is what a great author does. Great book, great author.

Peace ..and please stay tuned.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Beginning Again

Every year I watch the ball drop in Times Square and get all teary eyed about people who I miss, things I have left unsaid, places I did not see, past regrets...auld aquaintances forgotten, as the song goes.  At midnight, as I raise my glass to make a toast, I reflect on the past and give my sadness the repect that is due. But as I take that first sip of champagne,  I also see the New Year's possibilities bubbling up to the top of the glass. The places I will see, the friends I will go  to dinner with,  the family get togethers. This is what makes New Year's Eve so special. Each year I am given another chance to enjoy life and the older I get , the more serious I get about doing just that.

Mark Twain said" Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do, than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

So , this is my resolution:  I resolve to ENJOY LIFE and PURSUE HAPPINESS.  I will look more forward than backward.  I will "let go the bowlines" and see what happens. I will leave my safe harbor and let the wind take me places I have never been.  Because we only have this one act, and I am the lead !!