Category: Introspection



It’s been so long, I don’t even know where to begin, or whether I should just pack in this blog, and give up.

In short – my 365 project has – basically – gone down the tubes. I took all kinds of photos each day when Maine on vacation, but have gone into a funk once I arrived home. Not sure of the reason for this, but lack of interest, motivation, and drive plagues me. In short – days are going by and I’m allowing that to happen without any input from me to shape those days. In truth, this often happens during the summer, as I don’t much like the heat and humidity of the season. I hide inside away from it. However, it’s also likely a mini depression — maybe like a reverse “SAD” — that seems to hit me this time of year. I know I’ll find my way out. I always do, but I need to do it soon! Invigorating this blog may be one way… The advent of fall, cooler weather, and the gorgeous, colorful foliage on trees will be the most helpful way!

Prior to this abrupt end to daily picture taking, I’d force myself to find … *something* … to photograph each day, but the desire to do that disappeared. Besides that, I haven’t posted any photos since July 3. It’s over a month since then. I have photos from our town’s 4th of July parade, from our quick trip to Hilton Head, our trip to Maine, and a few taken in between these events.

I’m not sure where to take this blog now, but, as I type these words, I *am* committed for it to go somewhere.

Maybe it’s best not to bother to number the photos and give up the strict adherence to the project. Maybe the best solution is to simply share photos when I take them, and use them as a springboard for sharing my thoughts and the events of my life. I would like to commit again in another year to the 365 project – but I am under no illusions that it’s easy for me to get bogged down with it.

I think that’s it! Sometimes writing my way to a solution really works for me!

And – with that I’ll work towards an entry or two (or more!) — coming up soon.

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As we enter the last week we will be here for this season, I’m relishing all that nature has to offer us right in our own back yard. Sometimes I’m amazed at how many species of animals live in close proximity to one other – most times amicably. Different kinds of songbirds frequent the feeders without concern for the other. Admittedly, certain birds can be more feisty and chase the more docile away, but basically it’s ok. But – there are dangers that lurk, and sometimes I wonder about the tension that exists for most species – just to exist. Birds, rodents, and squirrels worry about raptors. Fish worry about ospreys and human fishermen. And, all small animals worry about the alligator.

I don’t think they worry in the sense that humans worry. They are programmed to take the precautions that they do, so it comes naturally. It’s not “worry” or any kind of “intellect” or “thought” which which causes their actions. They simply do what their instinct tells them to do with no human emotions attached. Maybe there is an advantage in not knowing the ramifications to their life. They just … “live” … as God intended. (Might we learn a little from this way of being?) However, from the human vantage point, life is hard in nature. And, it’s hard for me to watch as I sometimes project my human emotions onto animals in the wild. I wonder what the percentage is of baby animals in the wild which actually make it to adulthood? It’s different for every species, I know…

Yesterday when we were talking with our neighbor, he told us that last year the ospreys lost a baby which fell out of the nest located across the lagoon from us. The crows are relentless in pursuit of nesting ospreys – tormenting the parents, and working hard to get the eggs – as well as – I think – the babies. According to our neighbor, it was a crow that caused the accident – and they happened to be looking when it happened.

In reading about bluebirds, I was astounded at the predators which can invade bluebird nests – house sparrows, snakes, squirrels, and even cats. I now realize that having my bluebird box attached on a tree rather than a pole is dangerous as it allows more easy access to predators to climb up and get inside. Today these thoughts came to mind when inspecting the bluebird nest area. I noticed on the grass not far from the box some evidence of “something unidentifiable” that appeared dead. It was so small and there were no feathers, nor did it appear to be the right color, but I still wondered if it was a bluebird baby, mainly because of the proximity to the bluebird box. Clearly I am very inexperienced! However, not long after the father bluebird came to the box and I could – again – hear the little bluebirds inside. Maybe it was only one baby? Maybe it was something else? But – I just don’t know.

With all this in mind, my 365 photos will include many parts of nature that live close by to me:

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365 photo #119 – the alligator. I am always watchful when I’m walking not far from the lagoon edge. I’m always looking for a gator head pointed at the shoreline – or watchful that one is silently sunning itself not far from the edge. They are so quiet and still when lying there that sometimes you don’t realize he’s there until you’re quite near. With that in mind, I noticed one on the bank before I went outside the other day. I did go out – but snapped the photo from the safety of the patio – with my 100-400 lens!
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365 photo #120 — the magnolias are out! However, the squirrels love them. As fast as they bloom the squirrels get the blooms and drop them to the ground. I guess they like the seeds therein. So – this tree never covered with these white blooms, but they come out – one at a time – and leave just as quickly

Bonus photos:

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1. Click to see this photo larger, so you can really see the osprey, as he was quite far away. The crow was bothering him – and when he left this perch, he flew with the crow taunting him – in hot pursuit!
2. A gecko on the side of the bluebird box. I flicked him off as I do not want him to get inside. Not sure he’s a danger – but didn’t want him there anyway.
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365 photo #121. We are in a drought now, so we have our sprinkler system scheduled to come on in different spots periodically throughout the day. Just after the sprinklers stopped on these leaves in the front yard, I took a photo of the droplets.

Bonus photos:

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1. Mrs. Bluebird posing for the camera on top of the bluebird box
2. one random leaf – changing color.

I’m not caught up yet, but yesterday I took a sunrise photo walk along Folly Field Beach, and I think I’ll devote an entire entry to that… So — til next time…!

Life


This blog is still up and running, despite the fact that I haven’t posted in quite a few days. Right now I’m in Pennsylvania with my 90 year old mom who is hospitalized and very ill. It was quite dire when we arrived, but things are better now. No – things will never be as they were, but what a difference a week makes. We will remain here for a few more days, unless something changes to require us to stay longer. And, at my mom’s age, and with her medical condition, that potential is there.

I continue to take photos each and every day, and, in a sense, they are documenting these days of my life. However, for the moment – while we are here — it is too time consuming to go through and edit, then upload the photos for sharing here. I’ll be back, though. For now, however, I need to focus on what is before me. This is an interesting time of life – – a transitional time within one’s family, and a very special family bonding time.

Life moves in many different ways, as life circumstances happen. Sometimes you live life. Sometimes you write about life. Sometimes those two can co-exist together. For right now I need to live fully – and allow writing to take a back seat.

In time I will be posting the photos I’m taking during these days, and will be back to writing. So … stay tuned!


Today I have been preoccupied. My mom – who is 90 years old – has been admitted to the hospital. I do not want to go into detail, as my family is private. The Internet and all it’s potential breaches of privacy are threatening to them. I mention them very little on this blog, and have had to be careful about what photos I make public on Flickr.

I’m about 800 miles away from my mom. And — suffice it to say — I’m nervous and a little scared, and feeling a tad introspective.

So … with this in mind, when a freak thunderstorm was about to arrive, I went out to take photos of the approaching storm. It’s kind of a metaphor for my life now, as I know there are storms ahead of me which I must weather. I sat outside (before it started to rain) and watched the approaching clouds get closer, and the rumbling thunder get louder. First it was sunny, which gave an eerie glow to the dark clouds and landscape. Then the sun went away. I drank some left over morning coffee – and immersed myself in “the calm before the storm”. While I was sitting there, the Great Blue heron, who has the nest in the nearby tree came back to his station, and began his nesting / mating call — that gravely moan I was talking about in a previous entry. It brought a sense of sadness over the earth – maybe a foreshadowing of things to come for me, though I hope not too soon.

this photo is taken while the sun was still shining on our lagoon, but the storm clouds were clearly marching closer.

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365 photo #73

Yes – – it has been a long, long time since I’ve posted here. For one, I have effectively “gagged” myself, fearing I would be too public on the internet. Yet – it wasn’t just that. Though motivated and very much desiring to post, I have struggled to be inspired by much in my life and in my days. I’ve realized, as the days moved into weeks, then months, that I was living my life without much thought, inspiration, or personal revelation, which, in many ways is the heart of blogging – or – that’s how I’ve seen it . I’m sure there were things to say, but the energy that it took to “live”, and sometimes “survive” each day blotted out those things. I admit to being a rather “nervous” person – – fearing failure, and being “good enough”, and other such things. When one is consumed with that, it keeps the joy and interesting observations about life buried behind the fear.

What I need is a jump start – – some “crutch” that would allow me to think on these things. So — today I will be putting this crutch into action. I’m going to re-institute “Photo of the Day”, or, the “365 Project” (and in the case of 2012, 366 project). It’s my hope that each photo will inspire some blog type dialogue about my day, my life, and my feelings about where I am and where I’m going. I cannot guarantee I’ll post each and every day, but the photos will happen each day, and I’ll post them as I’m able, hopefully with a bit of text alongside of them…

But – before I do – allow me to post a photo per month from the year 2011…

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January: New Kitties, Felix and Misty on their first night with us – January 7 … with Ray
February: A walk in the Whooping Crane Conservancy and a shot of a great egret
March: A walk in Jarvis Park – and some wood storks

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April: John Daly at the Heritage Golf Tournament on a practice round day
May: Back on Long Island and Felix is investigating our pantry
June: A flower at my sister’s house in PA when I went down to see about Mom after she fell and broke her hip

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July: Concert at Cooper’s Beach – – a child jumping off the life guard stand!
August: A beautiful view of Kezar Lake, Maine at my sister’s wedding at Pleasant Point Inn
September: Montauk Point Lighthouse – taken from Camp Hero State Park

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October: Colorful fall views and foliage – The Blue Ridge Parkway
November: Ray and Jon — after returning home from the Honor Flight / History Channel Vietnam Vet’s trip to Washington DC for Veteran’s Day ceremonies.
December: Christmas tree and hearth – Hilton Head


It’s again been a while since I’ve written here, and this poor blog is suffering from lack of attention.  That is not to say I don’t think about it often – and WANT to write in it, but don’t quite know what to say.  It has come to my attention that I probably have an internal censor – one that is rather unconscious – in that I am rarely able to articulate just WHAT it is that I’m pushing away from being posted here.

I have a few ideas to rev it up – like make this blog’s basis be “photo of the day” which will both encourage me to use my camera more – and to encourage some “stream of consciousness” writing about the photo – and my life on that day.  It would be a tool – a way in the door – for a discussion of my thoughts and feelings and daily life.  I don’t want to start that until the first of the year, though – – or maybe I could do it June 30th, when the year is half over.  I’ll think on that….

Yet – I think it’s probably instructive to write about just WHY I am having trouble, and why I am censoring myself – if, in fact, this is what I’m doing.

I admit I am nervous about making too much of my life public for all the internet to see.  Yeah … like the entire internet is here.  That’s a joke.  I have next to no readership.  But – I have had some spam viewings and comments so there are a few who make a habit of cruising blogs just to leave tacky comments, which I take the time to delete!  It’s not that I fear my own life being public, but I do not want to compromise my family or friends who have no say in what I write about them – even peripherally, or just in “mentions”.

However, there’s more than this….

My self confidence is weak.  Not only that, I also have a very basic fear of abandonment and rejection by others.  Those two traits combine together to make me very nervous about speaking my mind.  First of all – I am not sure what I think and feel about things and do not have confidence in my own beliefs.  I’m easily swayed by others – by strong beliefs that do not match my own, or when I perceive I’m in the minority.  Am I being swayed because they are correct? (for me)?  Am I being swayed because of my lack of confidence in myself and my thought process?  Or, Am I being swayed because I do not want to disagree with others for fear of how that could affect my relationship with them.  If I have to “agree to disagree”, it doesn’t end the friendship – but that “aura of caution” – or – boundaries (I choose) about discussions of certain topics seems to temper the friendship – at least for me.

When I was a child, I was occasionally teased because I had “funny” or “silly” ideas.  For a sensitive child that I was, that’s not a good way to encourage me to think and believe things for myself.  And – I never wanted to admit to my family – or to anyone – how sensitive I was, and put up a cynical, sarcastic exterior.

In the past few years, as our country has been so volatile with political and religious conflict, I have seen many relationships flounder and die because of these disagreements.  Relationships that had been strong, are now strained, or “compartmentalized” where it’s mutually decided (or one member decides) that politics and religion are to be removed from discussion in order for the relationship to remain.  Some relationships have ended altogether.  I’ve seen Facebook and my Live Journal journaling group erupt when these things come up for discussion.  I have recoiled and have been very cautious – commenting little on posts like that.

Because of my fears of losing friendships – I have backed away from figuring out where I stand on things.  Clearly I have chosen “relationships” – no matter how good or how bad – over my beliefs and identity.  In fact – it has occurred to me that don’t want to know who I am for fear that standing up for that will impact friendships negatively.  I back off from learning about myself – much less broadcasting that.  I’ve often ended up to be a fence sitter – being the one that “sees both sides of an issue”.  In many ways, that is an honorable place to be.  We all need to understand how other’s feel and think.  However, we also need to know how WE think.  This means that I appear (and probably am) rather “wishy washy”.  It’s also occurred to me that people may see through this and know what is going on inside maybe even better than I do!

I remember way back in the beginning of therapy many years ago the statement “To Know Me Is To Hate Me” just fell out of my mouth.  I didn’t know I was going to say it until it was said.  I think that is telling as to the motivation of why I don’t want to be truly “known”.

It is sad that I will compromise my own identity – my own SELF – to have “relationship”.  The reality is that these relationships are not worthy if they would so quickly go away if I was to be who I am?  Sad that I think so little of myself that I choose not to “be me” in order to have “them”.

But – – who am I?

When you have spent a lifetime (and I do think it’s been that long!) of pushing your own beliefs underground, it becomes difficult to unearth what they might be.  It’s difficult to know when I’m espousing another’s belief (so I’ll be accepted by them) or whether I really believe that.  One truly can lose the ability to know oneself if it’s not honed on a consistent basis.  Identities are fragile – easily injured…

Recently I have taken the risk to state a few of my views (or what I think are my views?!) – and have had to deal with adamant disagreement.  When that happens – I have observed myself “caving” – compromising my views – fearing the loss of friends.

With all this in mind, it’s no wonder I struggle with blogging.  The essence of blogging is the ability to know one’s beliefs, as well as state them – to be “out there” with them, and allow the chips to fall where they may.  It might be better to stick with the smaller – and more “daily” events of my life.  Yet – even they seem to be censored, as well.  It’s as if the censor inside of me doesn’t differentiate between important and unimportant events or feelings.   It’s clear my censor is using up way too  much energy and sapping the life out of me.  My censor is my fear … my negativity, run amuk.  I am going through life without knowledge, joy, and wonderment – because I have not been able to let go to them.  They are out of my consciousness.  I’m just “getting through each day” – rather than experiencing it.  And … I need to find a way of letting that go – to find and reveal the real person that is me.

And – trust me … this blog entry in itself, is a risk.


There is something to be said for not writing about an issue or event immediately after hearing of it or experiencing it.  Sometimes certain situations require time to cogitate, and must roll around in one’s mind first.  How you feel immediately will not always be the way you ultimately will feel.  Time changes attitudes, especially after reading and hearing more about it and discussing it with others.

The death of Osama Bin Ladin is one of those situations.  I have run the gamut of emotions, and I do not discount the possibility that I may change again as time moves forward.

On the night that it was announced, I did not have the TV news on at all, and totally missed it live.  Even my husband – the dedicated, non-stop news junkie – didn’t have it on, either, so it went right by us – until about midnight when Ray noticed a news story as he was cruising around on his computer prior to going to bed.

“Bin Ladin’s dead” he said – almost nonchalantly.  ‘Huh?”, I responded.  “Who reported that?”, I asked, cynically.  Then I added, “And, I won’t believe any of it until ALL the news services have also reported the same thing”.

I quickly realized that it WAS being reported all over – and apparently was true.  The skeptic in me also wondered if they got the right guy, but it didn’t take long for me to begin to realize that this really did happen, and it was “for real”.

My first instinct was not jubilation, but relief – and gratitude for the Navy Seals heroic actions.   I honor them and the risks that they took to complete the mission both efficiently and quickly.  I am grateful that the deed was finally done after all these years.  I’d begun to wonder if we’d ever be able to do it.  Despite all these feelings, as I watched the rejoicing in Washington DC continue into the early morning hours, I became increasingly uncomfortable.   At that time, that response felt to me to be shallow, and maybe a bit “over the top”.

What exactly WERE they celebrating?  With all the difficult issues within the US, like recent floods, tornadoes, bad economy, discord over politics, etc. – did we so desperately need a definitive “something” to celebrate that this served that purpose?  Finally we have a clear cut victory!  Did these people (many of whom appeared to me to be college students), think that now that this one person was dead, that our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, etc. would miraculously end (and they would not have to go to war)?  Did they think that the death of the of the Taliban’s leader would end the Taliban and all wars having to do with them?

With Bin Ladin in hiding for so long, even if he was as involved as they now say he was, he had to have had others who did the “leg” work for him.  I conclude from this that there probably is no shortage of leaders to replace their “fallen leader”.   The Taliban may be in some disarray, but I can see where they could, and probably will regroup.   To us – to me — the killing of Bin Ladin is justice served.  However, I suspect that others in the Taliban see it more as revenge, and will easily respond in kind.  The truth is that revenge begets more revenge.  We have to be ever watchful for these kinds of attacks – not only on our shores, but elsewhere in the world.   We did not defeat an army – only one important man in that “army”.  I suspect the war continues…

Something else bothered me as I watched the celebrating that night.  It seemed to me like a Pyrrhic Victory. For example, the 9/11 and the military casualties are just as “dead” as they always were. Killing Bin Ladin didn’t suddenly change things and bring them back to life.

I’m sure it’s my Christian roots kicking in – but there also seems to be something awry in celebrating any human being’s death, no matter how evil that person’s deeds might have been.  We killed him.  It was justice served.  It was the right thing to do.  However, despite how correct this action was, I could not “rejoice”.  I was relieved, and grateful, yet, at the same time, I felt sad that he was such a waste of a human being.  I suppose it’s our shared humanity that makes me sad.  It sounds awful – even to me – that I have allowed myself to share anything with one so evil, but the reality is that I shared “humanity” with Bin Ladin, though only as far as the two of us shared “human being” status.

Because of this, I have always struggled with the death penalty.  Killing another human is a grave and a very “final” decision, one that cannot be reversed.  I have always questioned whether humans should be making these kinds of decisions about other humans.

I wished that they had been able to take Bin Ladin alive – then put him on trial.  However, I acknowledge that doing so would have been way too risky, putting the entire mission in jeopardy.  Plus – do we need the fall-out of what a trial could do to the mood of our nation?  Maybe it’s best for all concerned to move on as soon as we’re able and not dwell on this man any more than needed.  This IS war – kill or be killed.  That, in my opinion, was the mentality of the Navy Seals inside that compound when confronted by Bin Ladin, who may have been reaching for a weapon at the time he was shot.  It could have had a very different outcome…

At this point, I wrote an entry in Live Journal – my locked journal open to chosen friends.  Against my better judgment, I also left one ill advised status message (what I realize now was an inaccurate Martin Luther King quotation being spread around) on Facebook, too.  I was not prepared for a few of the responses I got.  I had clearly not seen the other side of the coin.  And – it’s possible I may come to regret this blog entry…?!

What I failed to take into consideration was the intense emotions which those who have paid a direct price for Bin Ladin’s actions.  Those who lost loved ones in the 9/11 attacks, or military service families whose lives have been forever changed in the last 10 years were these people.  The military has seen so many deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan – – so many wounds – legs lost – LIVES lost – all as a result of Bin Ladin’s Taliban.  Of course this is understandable celebration time!  It is THEY who protected the rest of us so that we could live our lives relatively normally, and be allowed to have these beliefs.   It has come to my attention that it’s way too easy for me to sit here and pronounce that we should not celebrate his death.  All of my thoughts are simply “concepts” – – untested concepts – – because I have not had to pay the ultimate price for this man’s evil.  How would my actions and feelings differ if I had lost a loved one as a result of this man?   Thankfully I have not had to know.

Do not judge another’s actions and beliefs until you understand from whence come their feelings.   In my opinion, the ability to do this is strangely lacking in our country – as each of us proclaim our views, rarely hearing and understanding the depth of why others might have an opposing view.  We judge and proclaim what we think “all” should believe – not allowing ourselves to understand.

I still stick to my personal belief that I cannot celebrate any human being’s death – despite their evil deeds.  I still stick by my belief that SOME of the celebrations MIGHT have had little depth to them.  However, it is a personal belief and one I do not necessarily expect others to share.  If I was in different circumstances in my life, I also might not hold to it.  I now have a more in depth understanding of some of the celebrations – especially in the military community and for those directly affected by 9/11.


The downturn in our economy has affected people in dramatic ways – loss of income, houses, jobs, and entire lifestyles.  In this blog, I want to talk about a more subtle way that the economy is changing us – as a society.  This is not “life or death”, and is something which many of us hear about in passing, but move onto more important items. 

The Philadelphia Orchestra has gone bankrupt and is now in Chapter 11

The reasons for this are varied, complex and controversial.  In short, it’s got to do with the poor economy, high musician salaries and pensions, plummeting ticket sales, high rent at the Kimmel Center, where they play, among other things.  But – I fear that there is another insidious reason for it’s slow demise:  the lack of music appreciation and education in our homes, schools and religious institutions.

I grew up in Philadelphia and going to the monthly Saturday morning “Children’s Concerts” was a part of my childhood.  As I remember – these were made possible by my grandparents, but my mom would take us into the city and make it into an “event” for us.  We’d see the concert, usually directed by William Smith, the assistant conductor.  He would teach us about classical music and the orchestra would play selections to demonstrate.  It was fun, although the conduct of many of the children present was horrible.  I have memories of paper airplanes shooting down from the balconies of the Academy of Music and William Smith admonishing that behavior!   Following the concert Mom and I would go out for lunch in downtown Philly to a place of my choosing.  Oddly – my choice was always to go to the Horn and Hardart’s “Automat”, the precursor of today’s “fast food”.  You served yourself by putting coins into slots to get the food out of the enclosed, see-through bins!  I’m sure Mom would have preferred ANY place else!

Then, as an adult, my parents would often invite Ray and I to come for a concert if we were going to be in Philly on a concert weekend.  My parents always had season tickets and purchased two more so that they could invite friends along to make it a social evening.  Again, we always had dinner “in town” prior to the concert, again making it “an event.  My mom and Frank still have season tickets to the orchestra.

I also remember my Uncle Ned inviting me to come to Philly for a specific concert which included a flute solo.  What a treat to be specifically invited, knowing that I had the interest in flute.  As always, we had dinner out prior to the concert. 

Then, when our son was attending Moravian College, many of his friends were music majors, and he grew to appreciate classical music through them.  So – my mom purchased “student orchestra tickets” for him – about 12 of them – which could be used for any concert not sold out.  Our son would then invite his music major friends for an evening at the Philadelphia Orchestra.  Mom and Frank have a memory of seeing their grandson – flanked by 7 girls – headed to their seats at the Academy of Music!

In the home, my mom and dad listened to classical music records, as well as WFLN (Philadelphia’s classical music station, which I do not believe exists anymore).  My father sang in the adult choir in church, as well as, for a while, in the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, traveling 1 hour to get to their Monday night rehearsals.  It was tacitly expected that we children would sing in all the church youth choirs – and there were many of them:  Cherub Choir (age 3-5), Children’s choir (1st – 3rd grades), Carol Choir (4th – 6th grades), and the Chancel choir (7th – 12th grades).  There wasn’t one time in my childhood when I was not in a choir!  In addition there was also an unspoken expectation that we learn an instrument when the school made that option available to elementary students.  That’s where my flute playing began, and my sisters picked up the clarinet, my mom’s instrument, and my brother, the trumpet.  We also all took piano lessons for varying time periods and with varying degrees of success.   (My lack of success at piano was legendary!) 

In short – – Music was considered important. 

However, even for the non musical family, the schools jumped in and provided for the non choral or instrumental student music classes which included basic note reading and music appreciation.  In 5th grade we had a teacher who put personal emphasis on music, and had the entire class learn to play these small, inexpensive and easy to play metal flutes.  Slowly – over the course of the year, we learned the fingering, and in the process how to read notes and rhythms.  Then, our class played a few concerts over the course of the year.

What I ask now is whether even a small amount of this focus exists today?   I admit – now – that maybe my family was a bit “over the top” – but even without the family influence, the schools and religious institutions filled in the blanks.   I note with the budget cuts that the first thing removed are art and music classes.  People are not learning to read notes!

Yet – we continue to be a music listening society.  Case in point:  look at the popularity of American Idol.  Yet – there is something missing.  We like it – we dance to it – we sing along to it – but we don’t understand it. 

I do not want to sound elitist and give the impression that Classical music is the only kind that is “legitimate”.  Personally, I think that this has been part of the problem, and young (and older) people have rushed AWAY from it to more “modern” sounds. 

I remember one Philadelphia Orchestra concert where they had Bobby McFerrin – of the “Don’t Worry Be Happy” fame – conducting the orchestra.  I didn’t realize it until that night that he straddles the classical and rock genre, which made this concert rather unique.  One half of the concert was traditional – with Bobby in his tux and tails conducting the orchestra.  But – the other half was more casual – and included a bit of audience participation!  As I looked around, I noticed a few of the “old timers” were sitting in their seats with their arms folded in front of them – disgusted.  Yet – – the interesting part was how MANY young adults were in attendance.  The Academy of Music was packed!

Whether we like it or not, music is in transition.  We have many legitimate genres of music out there besides classical:  rock, jazz, blues, folk, sacred, rap, etc.   Some of the old time Classical lovers do not want to believe that other styles have merit.  And, in all fairness, we all have our personal likes and dislikes, which need to be respected.  However, when it comes to learning about music, I believe we need to give the other styles of music the attention they deserve.  We need to learn about all styles – and not just from the classical music standpoint. 

Sacred music is changing, too.  Instead of using hymn books (which include notes and words together), The Christian contemporary services flashes the words to their praise songs onto a screen.   The notes to these songs are not included on the screen, and to learn these songs one simply copies the song as you hear it sung by the Praise chorus and congregation.  One of the reasons for this is the violation of copyright laws if notes were to be included.  Yet – in eliminating the notes to the tune, we have also eliminated another music learning opportunity. 

Church choirs – in my opinion – are slowly dying.  I’m 61 years old, and in BOTH my choirs (Hilton Head and Long Island) I am one of the youngest members.  What will happen to choirs in the next 20 years?  Will people join praise choruses?  I’m not so sure, because, from what I’ve observed, they are usually small in number.

In addition, I also think that symphony orchestras need to change with the times.  I’m not suggesting they abandon their classical music roots, but they maybe need to see the value of including other genres in their repertoire.  If they don’t – we may lose it all.

For now the Philadelphia Orchestra is continuing their concert series this year while they try to reorganize in Chapter 11.   Mom and Frank have also purchased for next year.  But, the events make me wonder how I’ll feel should it disappear.   No – it’s not a magnanimous issue – like food, clothing and shelter.  Yet – combine this with other struggling orchestras that might also disappear, and we might not realize what we’ve lost until it’s too late – when it’s all gone. 


Once again a portion of the world is covered in rubble from an 8.9 earthquake — and the ravages from a "wall of water" from the tsunami.  Since then, I have been watching the news.  But – more than that – I’ve been thinking about the ramifications of these natural disasters that come our way in the form of earthquakes, tsunamis, and even hurricanes, tornadoes, volcanoes, floods, droughts and the like. 

First of all – the videos that have come from Japan are heartbreaking – watching cars and houses crumble and move about like they were toys shows the amazing power of amassed water. The fear of what is going on with the nuclear power plant is also frightening. I’m not sure they are reporting the total truth about that. The human element in all of this is the worst – the mass death and destruction, is hard to imagine. Realizing all of this — it is hard for me to "sit" with this in the comfort of my home. Prayers are all well and good, but the victims need the basics of life now. What is the world’s role? What is *my* role? Yet – too many helpers only confuse things. In many respects – we are all "one" on this planet earth – or we should think of it in that fashion, but how do we take action?

I initially got immersed in the news right about when it happened. I was not able to sleep for some reason – and had also changed the channel from my usual HGTV to CNN. As I watched in the dark and silence of the night, the reports were almost surreal, and there was no going back to sleep for me. Basically I had only 2 hours of sleep that night – max.

Japan was as ready as any country for this kind of tragedy. They know their land is prone to this, and even the word "tsunami", I think, is a Japanese word. Their government is as well structured to handle it as is any country. (as compared to Haiti, for example). But – no one can be truly ready for what happened. 8.9 is "the big one", and I can’t imagine how much worse it would have been if the buildings / roads / bridges had not been built to earthquake codes. And, it’s my opinion that no one can ever be ready for a tsunami like the one they saw. Who could prepare, short of banning all habitation "that" far from the ocean’s shore?  To me – this shows, beyond the shadow of a doubt that WE humans are never not in charge. 

We humans think we are so smart, and have become cocky enough to think that our brains, amassed knowledge and technology can (or has the potential to) master anything, control everything, and be strong enough for any contingency.  The reality is – the universe rules.  No matter what we are able to do, or seemingly control, the universe is always capable of being in charge of the outcome.  Control is truly only an illusion.

This leads me to the role of God in all of this, and, to be honest … I don’t know.  I don’t want to get too heavy into this because, for me, my faith is weak and the unknown is too great.  I ask too many questions for which I have no answers.  Is God behind the universe and all these natural disasters?  If so, how much so?  Did He create them and cause them?  We give Him credit for nature’s beauty.  Should we not also give Him credit for the “bad”?  Is it possible that because of our limited human capacity to see the larger picture that we cannot see that there will be some good which can – and will – come out of tragedy?  Maybe that benefit won’t affect us – or the Japanese now, but could there be a future plan for all of this?  I can’t imagine that this would be much of a consolation to the Japanese most affected by this tragedy, maybe even feeling like a slap in the face!  I have heard it said that to try to answer these questions is not our job.  Our job is simply to trust that God has a Good Plan for us, and is there to give us strength and comfort during our trials.  I also get to thinking about some of the Old Testament “punishments” for “evil doing” by an “angry god”, and it’s also easy for me to go there when these huge disasters strike.  I write all of this, but continue to shake my head in bewilderment and skepticism.  Yeah … I did start this paragraph about my faith being weak, didn’t I…  I’ve come full circle.

Like the US, Japan’s people are used to all the amenities of modern life — electricity, plumbing, technology, communications of all kinds. Once we get "soft" by getting used to these things, having to go without, with little sign that these things will return is maybe harder. I am often amazed at the strength of human character when faced with these kinds of things, though. I’m not sure any of us know our own strength unless we are forced to be strong.

Thankfully the affects of the tsunami was lighter on Hawaii and the Pacific shoreline. Yet — there were people who were either crazed with fear beyond what was necessary – or those foolhardy folks who decided to purposely go out in the surf at the time of the "wave".

Yet – it is reminding me that Ray and I have houses on the two largest barrier islands on the east coast of the US. Are we crazy?  We’re not the only ones, either… Humans flock to the beach for it’s beauty and recreation — building houses, hotels, restaurants on the edge of gorgeous beaches, forgetting that all that beauty can turn on us.  It’s true that tsunamis and earthquakes aren’t quite as commonplace as they are on the west coast — but they DO happen, and there are fault lines in varieties of places all over the US. It is not out of the question that we could have "the big one" here, too. It’s probably not "if", but "when". I guess we all hope that it’s "not in our lifetime". Humans have a knack for burying their collective heads in the sand and forgetting that even though the ocean is magnificent – and gorgeous. It can turn nasty and mean during storms and tsunamis. Mountains also are majestic and beautiful – but we can’t forget how hills are formed — good old fashioned earthquakes (and volcanoes) are one way our landscape changes. Out of the ashes rise such beauty…?!  And good?

Sometimes I think we know precious little about all of this, and we need to learn more.

The day of the earthquake, a friend of mine and I went on a photo walk along a local beach not far from home.  It was kind of bittersweet for me to see such beauty – realizing that on the other side of the planet – this same water did such destruction — and how this water could do the same with us. Oddly – I found I appreciated the beauty more – maybe because I was more keenly aware of it’s potential strength, too.

There really are no good words about all of this, and this entry is just me — spinning my wheels – trying to find them. I suppose there rarely are understandable words to explain things when this kind of tragedy hits.

My thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this tragedy…. I guess that’s the bottom line.

Color Me Bright


Ever since I can remember, I have been attracted to bright, bold colors.  Give me bright red, Christmas green, bright orange or yellow, kelly green, royal blue, and vibrant turquoise.  Add jet black to any of these colors, and it’s a perfect combination for an outfit, some art object, or even simple mundane things!  Give me this over the more muted colors of beige, browns, grays, olive green, and even some of the pastels.  Unless combined with something bright, or put together in an amazing print or combination, these colors are just plain boring!

It influences my clothes selections, décor in my house, cars, my blog layouts, as well as simple things like pens or pencils.  All other things being equal, if I see “bright” or “colorful”, I’ll choose them before something more muted.

Certain holidays bring out the bright colors:  Christmas (red and green), Valentine’s Day (red), St. Patrick’s Day (kelly green), Easter (purple and yellow, among other spring colors), 4th of July (red, white and blue), Halloween (orange and black).  I’m also in love with fall foliage – the brighter the orange, red and yellow, the better I like it!  Summer flower gardens are the best.  It’s fun!  It’s happy!

One exception to this is my home décor.  It’s not overly bright (basically white walls, beige rugs, tile or hardwood floors).  One reason for this is that I share my space with my husband who is not as in love with brightness as I am.  However, I try to have at least one thing that’s bright placed there, whether it be a pillow, furniture upholstery, throw rug, bedspread, wall hanging, or knick knack which will draw my eye.  If I get a chance to plan a room from scratch, I plan around those things!  I think that if I was more skilled in decorating, I would go brighter, as I have been to a decorator friend’s house who has made skilled use of reds, bright prints, and other bold colors in her rooms, and I really like it.  I admit that I wonder if I would over the long haul.  Maybe it’s just nice to look at from a distance…  I’m under no illusion that it’s for everyone.

When I’ve had the opportunity to choose the color of my car (and I haven’t always, as sometimes they have come off the lot), I want it to be bold.  My favorite color car to this point was my bright green Taurus back in 1997.  At that time, I vowed to have red car at some point in my life.  I’d hoped this year would be that year, and I ordered one … I THOUGHT.  However, two months later when it arrived, instead of it being red, I found a burgundy car waiting for me.  I had to contain my disappointment, as I didn’t want to reject the car and go through the lengthy ordering process again unless all of the car was wrong, which it was not.

I’ve gotten used to the burgundy and I’ve grown to like it – somewhat.  At least it’s not the non-descript color of silver, gray, black, off white or beige.  My last car was an off white car, and it used to be more difficult to find it in a parking lot seemingly full of way too many other off white vehicles.  At least with my burgundy car, it sticks out among the rest.  But – it would be more noticeable if it was RED!

A few weeks ago it was time to purchase a new laptop.  And, as I was looking through the Dell website at the Latitude computer I wanted, I noticed there was an option to get the top in either red or blue.  I now have a red Dell Latitude Computer!  If I can’t have a red car, I can at least have a red computer!

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I looked in my closet this morning, and noticed the colors of my wardrobe in a way I had not before.  There are more red tops of various styles than any other color.  Then I have black based, but brightly printed skirts, and one pair of red slacks that I am thrilled I found a few years ago.  Now to find the Christmas red skirt…!  If I was a bird, I’d be a Cardinal or Painted Bunting!

I’m a fan of that reality show in TLC called “What Not To Wear”.  The hosts of the show, Stacy and Clinton, deal with women (and a few men) who are wardrobe challenged.  They throw out their old wardrobe, and are given $5,000. to purchase a new one – but only under the guidance of Stacy and Clinton.  A few of their “clients” have been fans of bright color combinations and crazy patterns.  I’m not as exaggerated as these wildly dressed clients, but wearing bold colors and bright prints is something I like to do.

Stacy and Clinton usually try to discuss with the people just why they have chosen the clothes they’ve been wearing.  They want to be noticed, but it often comes out that they are hiding themselves and their true selves behind the colors and glitz, which distracts others from the person behind the clothes.  It’s a way of having their cake and eat it too – to be both noticed, and hide at the same time.  Stacy and Clinton try to encourage the people to dress to accentuate their true self.  Their wardrobe will still incorporate bright colors, but done in such a way as not to distract from the person wearing them….

I have wondered if this is a little like me.  Notice me!  Give me attention!  See my bright, flashy exterior.  But – I’m not sure I want you to get to know the person behind the flash and brightness!

Scary thought!

To be honest I am not as extreme as any of the persons on the show.  But – the fact that I can recognize this is food for thought.

Despite these thoughts, I am not going to check my love of colors at the door.  That is something I know is real and true about me.  In fact, I believe my affinity for bright color is something inherent in me, as it’s been with me since before I can remember!  I just hope I’m using the colors and patterns to enhance me – not to hide me.

And I end with this photo:

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Sometimes less is more!

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