Winter storms remind me of my beloved Beethoven.
It was autumn when we moved into our 1820s farm house in Hunt Valley in south central Pennsylvania. We had the illusion of owning half a hemisphere. We were surrounded by forests, streams, fields, and state games lands and at the time, couldn't see another house from horizon to horizon. By Christmas, a friend who owned a similar property, had convinced me that we needed a little more activity on the vacant acreage.
So on Christmas morning, I prepared two large golden packages. They were wrapped so the lids could be removed immediately for the comfort of the temporary guests inside. The backs of the boxes were completely open to prevent the tails from being crushed, and the girls positioned them so all the feathers were hidden beneath the Christmas tree. Mike’s face lit up when he opened the boxes to discover two peacocks!
It was mid-April when I heard Mike on the phone with Ruth Buck, a reporter for the local newspaper. “Well, we have at least three hundred birds,” Mike stated casually. I stopped and turned. Stunned.
I knew the collection had grown - iridescent white peacocks joined the blues, there were Bourbon Reds, Bronze and Royal Palm turkeys, Golden Pheasants, rheas, Dia Rhea and Gonna Rhea (another story- these two made NPR news!).
When you die to what
You thought was true,
Everything in your life catches fire.
You are the instrument,
Not the music.
If you think you are the music,
You will stop
at the final bar.
If you become an instrument,
not the music,
you will go on playing
no matter where you are
or who's conducting.
The gig is never over.
The heart is always singing
The mind is always shouting
Between the two
we come and go,
safe on the solid shore
~ John Squadra
The Compass of the Rose
A few days ago I traveled to PA to meet with my accountant and have my taxes done. I had several things my list as I don't get to PA very often anymore. As I exited 83, steering my car was very difficult. I stopped at a gas station and checked the power steering fluid, hoping it would be a quick fix. That wasn't the problem.
I decided i should have a mechanic look at it. Lucky, I was very close to the mechanic I used when i lived in that area years ago. He stopped everything, looked at the engine, determined that I had a broken belt that could cause more damage it if wasn't removed, put it on the lift, gave me instructions for what to do next and how to get safely home - and he sent me on my way. No charge.
Years ago I had taken my car into him with a problem. He fixed it for a quarter. "It was a screw. i just replaced it. That'll be a quarter." I had no idea what the problem was and he could have charged me hundreds of dollars, but he didn't. He didn't even charge for the time he took to look at it and determine the problem.
People like Jackson at Jackson's Automotive give me faith in humanity. His knowledge and expertise give him power. He could use it to take advantage of people, but he uses it to help. Over the years, I went to him for everything I needed and recommended him to others. I'm still recommending him, even though I don't live in the area. I have a lot of friends on Facebook who do.
I've seen other less pleasant versions of the use of expertise and knowledge as power recently. There are those who could easily stop for just a minute and answer a question and make someone's day more pleasant, but use their advantage to make others uncomfortable.
It reminds me of the learning curve when computers first came out. Some who were trained held back the information to feel superior, having forgotten that at one time they had to learn something new too. Others enthusiastically shared what they knew, remembering what it was like when they were beginning learners. Teachers, whether through formal education or someone simply giving directions or answer a question, have a wonderful opportunity to give.
One of my most popular training concepts is "Collecting Firsts." It started years ago when I decided, as I approached a signficant birthday, i had already done everything I would ever do. I lived in the same house and town I had for decades, ate the same foods. had the same jobs - paid and volunteer - that I had for years, traveled the same roads to work, read the same books, ate at the same restaurants, ordered the same menu items. Life was dull, all because of my lack of creativity and vision.
Overnight that changed, beginning with a one week grocery shopping trip where I refused to buy anything I had ever purchased before. It had to be a different brand, types, etc. (Guava paste instead of cranberry sauce, papaya instead of mango, a different laundry detergent instead of the Tide I had been getting all my life). You get the idea.
As I collected firsts, I often needed to be a new beginner and found myself asking for help or guidance. I'm so grateful to those who have been patient and shared their knowledge with me over the years. Some were dear friends and relatives, others were strangers who pointed me in the right direction and our paths never crossed again.
Knowledge, skills and expertise shouldn't make us feel superior. They should allow us to share our gifts with non-judgement and a smile. They are our true power - the power of understanding what really matters in this world.
Each exchange we have can be positive, negative or neutral. It's easy to forget when reacting to the day"s events. I'm hoping the lessons over the last few days will remind me to be more aware and thoughtful.
I usually think of pastels when I thing of Easter eggs
but this recipe came up when I was researching holidays and the color red.
Easter eggs are dyed red for Greek Orthodox and Eastern Catholic Churches. The red of the egg symbolizes the blood of Christ, the hard outer shell represents the the sealed tomb, and the cracking of the shell symbolizes the resurrection of Christ.
6 cups water
skins removed from 12 yellow onions
2 Tablespoons white vinegar
1 dozen large white eggs
! Tablespoon olive oil
Combine water, onion skins, and vinegar in a large pot. Bring to a boil. Lower hea, cover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cool completely and remove and discard skins.
Add raw eggs to dye, bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
Cool and rub eggs with olive oil to make them shiny. Store in refrigerator until ready to eat.
In celebration of my workshop on rainbows and St. Patrick's Day, I'm listing a few things I love that are green. Why don't you create your own before looking at mine so I won't influence your unique style! You can listen to Kermit while you write down your favorite greens and i'll see you at the end of the song! You may need to play it a few times so you'll have time to list them all!
A Few of My Favorite (Green) Things
So, my list.
Well, Kermit! and
Oscar the Grouch!
The field at Camden Yards
The Green Doors at Monet's Giverny
Vineyards, fabrics, insects, herbs and gardens . . .
I've pictured a few of my favorites below . . .
This morning I posted this on my facebook and now sharing it here. Processing. So many lessons, thoughts, insights . . . bittersweet.
Recently I read an exert from a book on values, listing significance as a value we all have. I review my values annually at the very least - they include health, relationships, gratitude, giving, creativity, nature, etc. It hadn't occurred to me to include 'significance'. - what makes us feel important.
Many feel important through love, sharing, humor . . . but unfortunately, violence and destruction are what give others a feeling of significance. Either way, there are always lessons.
St. Patrick wasn't Irish, he wore blue, not green and there were no snakes.
But there were vampires and leprechauns and witches. Oh my!
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I'm using my alphabet prompts to learn more about all things Irish. I'm only doing one or two topics per letter, even though I can think of many more for some.. Even so, be warned. This will be a long post. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
A - Abhartach - the Irish Vampire
Let's start with something light and fun! Ha!
A is for Abhartach, the Irish Vampire.
Even though Dracula, the character created by Bram Stoker, is most often associated with Transylvania, in reality he may have been based on an Irish king, Abhartach. He was said to be a dwarf and considered to be evil and feared by all who knew him.
He was a very jealous man and was suspicious of his wife, convinced that she was having an affair. While spying on her from a high castle window, he fell to his death. The entire kingdom was relieved.. They buried him upright, apparently the correct burial position for royalty, and enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep. One. Just one.
Because the next day, he rose from the dead, and demanded that all of his subjects slit their wrists and drain their blood into bowls. Well, you can imagine they were upset, so they traveled to the next village seeking help from another king, Cathan, who came, killed him and buried him once more.
You guessed it. Up he came, ready for yet another snack.
This continued until Cathan decided to seek help from a saint who explained there was no way to kill someone who was already dead!
His suggestion was to bury him upside down, cover him with thorns and ash branches, and top it off with a huge boulder. As far as we know it worked, and peace returned to the kingdom. He served as inspiration for Stoker's Dracula, and all lived happily ever after!
B - Banshee
A banshee is a terrifying, wispy, floating specter with a piercing scream who warns of a coming death in the family. First reports were in Ireland in the 8th century. This alarming figure, usually female, varies in age from a young maiden to an old woman. Some families were reported to have their very own banshee, possibly having been a family member who had passed. They were known for their keening, mournful singing and wailing, as they lamented the death of loved ones.
C - Children of Lir
King Lir, Bobd Derg, was left with four motherless children, one daughter and three sons, when his wife Aoibh, the queen, unexpectedly passed away. The king decided to marry Aoife, his wife's sister
St. Patrick's day is almost here and the timing is perfect since i'm working on my Rainbows course!
This is prompting me to begin an alphabet list for St. Patrick's Day! This will be my first holiday list and my mind if over flowing with ideas! I'll be ready to celebrate early this year!
Since moving to Baltimore and becoming acquainted with Irish Railroad Worker's Museum I've gained a new perspective on the holiday. The challenges of the Irish immigrant's frustrations in Ireland, journey to this country and injustices suffered working on the B & O Railroad were heartbreaking. Their tenacity, faith, work ethic, and commitment to community enabled them to over come and prosper.
This year they are having an event for Grandparent's and their grandchildren, ages 5 - 10 years old), from 11;00 to 1:00 on St. Patrick's Day featuring arts and crafts, face painting, story telling, Irish music and dance. There will be an introduction to Irish instruments and light refreshments, with donations welcome. Visit their website for more information.
Our Renaissance chorus is singing Look to the Rainbow from Finian's Rainbow in our spring concert. The words are just as meaningful now as they were when the song was first released.
At first glance, you'll probably think this post is about fashion. it is. It is also about the power our young people have to make change.
building the silhouette
This post is a continuation of blog posts from March 2, 2018 and the original post from February 10, 2018, highlighting the exhibit "from the Inside Out building the silhouette".
My earlier posts featured garments created for women who wanted to look older and more mature. Fashion reflected a full figured woman with wasp-like waists, cinched with corsets and contrasted with bulging bustles made of wire and muslin. This later softened somewhat to a more relaxed hour glass silhouette. Necklines were still high, sleeves and skirts were long, and layers and layers of fabric continued to restrict movement and encouraged modesty.
. Roger von Oech, author of A Kick in the Seat of the Pants and A Whack on the Side of the Head, shared this perspective from an advertisement for a library.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
“At your local library they have these arranged in ways that can make you cry, giggle, love, hate, wonder, ponder, and understand.
It’s astonishing to see what these twenty-six little marks can do.
In Shakespeare’s hands they became Hamlet. Mark Twain wound them into Huckleberry Finn. James Joyce twisted them into Ulysses. Gibbonpounded them into The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.
John Milton shaped them into Paradise Lost.”
~ Quote taken from an advertisement to promote local libraries.
One of my favorite approaches to creating trainings is to use the alphabet to shift from a predictable list to concepts I might not consider. For example, simply listing the colors I plan to cover in my Exploring Rainbows course (Red, Yellow, Orange, etc.) tends to limit my thinking.
I used the alphabet to capture memories from trips, ideas for articles, brainstorming gift list, planning my garden, visits to museums, my annual gratitude lists, and in this case, workshop concepts.
So for each color of the rainbow, I'm planning to use examples of
Then there are Fairy tales and Folk lore, Gemstones, Global interpretations, Quotes, Songs, Symbolism . . . right now I have 3 or 4 topics for each letter. Six weeks will barely be enough time to cover everything!
The next time you're brainstorming ideas, write down each letter of the alphabet and see what kind of associations occur to you that might not have otherswise! And if you're really feeling industrious, see if you can arrange those 26 little marks to make another book to add to the Library of Congress!
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!