Fairy Gardens

I have been in love with these sweet little gardens since I began seeing them on Pinterest a few years ago. I love to make things like this with my granddaughter, but we just have not gotten around to this project. I think maybe this summer we might make a fairy garden on the covered porch so it will be protected, because I can’t imagine letting one get damaged in any way.

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Having never really been into miniatures, I can’t figure out what the allure of these little neighborhoods is for me, but for me they really have an intrinsic charm.

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It seems they can be whimsical or downright intricate, both of which are just fine with this girl! And there are variations on the “broken pot” look.

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And they can be a themed garden, like this farm miniature:

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You can even get the, as we say in the South, store-bought versions, but for my money, that’s like cheating and not nearly as much fun.

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If you have made a fairy garden, please share it here. If my granddaughter and I get one made, we’ll certainly share our project.

I feel a bit happier just thinking about these tiny treasures. Hope they brought a smile to your face, too!

The Greatest Musical in the World

Now I have painted myself into a corner since it will be very difficult to choose just one Broadway musical out of the many I dearly love. And, like any other beloved list, I could choose several musicals just for one very important memory, song, or production.

For example, I could say that Carousel was my favorite musical because it was the first one I ever heard. I was visiting my older sister in Rhode Island when I was five-years-old, and she had a phonograph record of the film cast, including Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae. Shirley Jones, for you younger sprouts, was the mom on the Partridge Family. MacRae was also in the film version of Oklahoma! (The exclamation point is part of the title, just so you know.)

But can I really have as my favorite musical a story of a wife-abuser who commits suicide in Act II? I think not.

So what about A Chorus Line with its beautiful music and dancing the likes of which had not been seen on Broadway for a long time. Michael Bennett, choreographer, designed a musical with no scenery, no costume changes, and no intermission, that brought Broadway back to life. Shubert Organization Chairman Gerald Schoenfeld said it totally changed the musical theater.

“It was a catalyst for the improvement of this area, and of course this area is now the most desirable area in New York.”

But I can’t make myself pick A Chorus Line for my best musical in the world, even though it gave the all of us this beautiful song, written by Marvin Hamlisch:

So, my favorite musical in the world is, drum roll, please, The Fantasticks. Most already know that this was a small off-Broadway show, that never made it to the Great White Way. The New Yorker, in its monthly rundown of shows playing at the time, along with how the editors felt about them, finally got to the point. After about 15-years of explaining The Fantasticks, they just went with a simple phrase that was something like this “…all that whimsy.”

In the end it had a 42 year run, making it the world’s longest-running musical. But it’s not “Try to Remember” that makes this show the best in my book, nor is it the musical’s obvious connection to audiences. It was performed in the round, so connecting was easy. No, it was this song, written by Tom Jones (not that Tom Jones) and Harvey Schmidt, as was the entire  score:

And although the movie, directed by Michael Ritchie, was a flop, this song, sung by Jean Louisa Kelly and Joey McIntyre in the film, is really beautifully done and worth a watch.

Hope you enjoy the music!

Celebrating Martin Luther King

Don’t we all need to read this today?

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I Have a Dream

Martin Luther King Jr. delivered this speech on 28th August 1963.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in…

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Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here I sit in Mississippi, only 200 or so miles away from Memphis, TN, where Rev. King was murdered. Only about 20 miles from the driveway where Medgar Evers was killed in Jackson, MS. I’m right beside the state where the Selma March took place, and only about 25 miles from Tougaloo College, the center of the fight for racial equality during Freedom Summer in 1964 in Mississippi, the year I graduated from high school in Jackson.

I’m only about 100 miles from Neshoba County where three martyrs were killed in 1964.

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Philadelphia, MS, where the Mt. Zion Church was located, is also about 100 miles away from where I live.

But, believe it or not, these places could just as well have been thousands of miles away from me in 1964, because I was living a privileged life right outside the city of Jackson, and I was going to one of the best high schools in the country, let alone state. During that summer my parents would not let me drive at night alone, their one concession to the acts of violence that were taking place all around us.

So many times, I have asked myself how I could have been so uninformed, so naive, so sheltered, so stupid. And, worst of all, no matter how I have tried to throw off my guilt by saying I am open-minded, declaring my color-blindness, preaching tolerance, I still know in my heart that the years of living in a place so full of hatred, being surrounded by people who thought they were correct in assuming that one race is superior to another, has taken its toll.

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I understood a bit more about myself as a person when I read Roxane Gay’s review of the movie The Help, written by a woman from a well-known Jackson family, Kathryn Stockett. Gay said:

“The way the book blithely addresses the complex racial climate of Jackson, Miss., in the 1960s, where the novel is set, is so infuriating as to completely overshadow what few merits it possesses.”

“Worst of all, there’s an ignorance of the severity of Jim Crow laws and how those laws would have prevented a great deal of the novel from actually taking place. And then there’s also the idea that a young white girl just out of college would be the one to help “the help” find their voices and articulate their lives. The book ends up being insulting to everyone.”

So often I wish there was something I could do or say to receive some sort of atonement, but, like Kathryn, I can never get far enough away from those times to see what kind of person I really am. Saying that I am not a racist makes me think of Shakespeare’s words:

“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

I like to think I got a few points for going to Millsaps College, a liberal arts school, and for living in another country for three years, Spain. But really, most of the time I feel guilty.

However, Sincere Kirabo, a social justice coordinator writing for The Humanist, says something that makes me feel a little better:

“If you’re carrying guilt for being privileged, quit wasting your time. Devote your mental energy towards something worthwhile, like transmitting heightened awareness within your sphere of influence (however marginal) and seeking to destabilize the inequitable power structure that allows and excuses the bias and cruelty involved with cases like Eric Harris (the Tulsa, OK man murdered while pleading for his breath). Focus less on your guilt and more on being a catalyst for change.”

I think I can do that! And I think Dr. King would like this thought, too.

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“Real Neat Blog Award” Surprise

Thank you, Petrel41 at Dear Kitty. Some blog. You are what I would call a special, interesting, intriguing, intelligent, encouraging, multi-talented person. And somehow you saw my blog and nominated me, along with ten other bloggers, for the Real Neat Blog Award, for which I am very honored. Run, don’t walk, to the Dear Kitty. Some blog site. This award graphic was created by Petrel41 to represent this award in 2014.

First, I shall answer the seven questions asked by the author and nominator from Dear Kitty. Some blog.

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

Well, I’m so new to blogging on WordPress (just a few months), I’m pretty sure that most folks who read my blog are those who got started about the same time I did. I have a feeling the excellent WordPress Team groups us around the times we begin blog, making our fellow bloggers kind of a support group. At any rate, new bloggers are wonderful supporters of one another, and this camaraderie has boosted all of our blogs’ popularity.

2. What is your favourite sport?

It must be soccer, because I love to watch my grandchildren run up and down the field. 🙂

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2016?

Back to my grandchildren, every summer I host what we call Camp Gigi – which includes swimming, making, fishing, playing, sliding, painting, storytelling, fireworks, and much more. This last summer, for the first time, several of the kids’ friends came along for the ride.

4. What is your favourite quote?

It may be erroneously credited to Einstein, but I love it still:

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

Drama, of course!

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

I wish that I had learned earlier on that love is an action. I know now that the romantic idea of love is great, but won’t get you through the rough times. It would have been nice to understand that love is an action and taking actions each day is what makes life joyous.

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

I played the guitar in high school and college and it helped me make friends and allowed me to bring something to the table, so to speak. Just because I wanted you to know that I clicked on your musical instrument link, may I say I had a friend who played the viola da gamba. I can also tell this about you: if you do not know about this instrument, you will want to hear it. Sounds like this:

Marin Marais (1656-1728) – Sonnerie de Sainte-Geneviève du Mont de Paris “The Bells of St. Genevieve” from La Gamme et Autres Morceaux de Symphonie (1723)

The ‘rules’ of the Real Neat Blog Award are: (feel free not to act upon them if you don’t have time; or don’t accept awards; etc.):

1. Put the award logo on your blog.

2. Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.

3. Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.

4. Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.

5. Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog etc.)

My seven questions are:

1. Where do most visits to your blog come from?

2. What is your favourite sport?

3. What has been a special moment for you so far in 2016?

4. What is your favourite quote?

5. What was your favourite class when still at school?

6. Anything you had wished to have learned earlier?

7. What musical instrument have you tried to play?

My nominees are:

Queen of the Girl Geeks

Kaitlyn, Me, Myself and Everything Else

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MissTalkaholic

Eat Sweets and Be Merry

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Songs

I’m sure that you have had a song stuck in your head at some point, or many times in your life. When I was younger and more involved in the musical world, it would happen to me all the time. But now, I rarely have music whirling around in my brain, until two days ago.

Why it was this song I cannot say. It is a song I sang in my high school choir. And it was on a Barbara Streisand album I got one month from the record club I joined. Remember those? But that it just popped into my head and stayed there for so many days is a mystery. I figured that perhaps I should share it since it was so embedded in my consciousness.

The song is “All the Things You Are” and was written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II for the Broadway musical Very Warm for May in 1939. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra, Tommy Dorsey, and several jazz artists including Charlie Parker. Apparently, the chord progression is rather challenging, making it a favorite for jazz musicians.

To be clear, it was not really the song itself that was rolling over and over in my brain, it was the verse, which is rarely included in a performance of the song. To hear the verse, you will have to listen to the beginning of the Streisand recording.

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https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjaruetqLbRAhVM6YMKHU_SD18Q3ywIGzAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DsrvOsegThJA&usg=AFQjCNEKhmW9hBVH5CVKzoZJa7WD1YuqLg&sig2=uCaynuMSaOw2RBSVZqO35Q&bvm=bv.143423383,d.amc

Time and again I’ve longed for adventure.

Something to make my heart beat the faster.

What did I long for? I never really knew.

Finding your love, I’ve found my adventure.

Touching your hand my heart beats the faster.

All that I want in all of this world is you.

 

Lovely, right? As for the song itself, nobody does it better than the elegant Miss Ella Fitzgerald.

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiLxb6xqrbRAhUkxoMKHZTcC6cQ3ywIHDAA&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DOPapxr8GvGA&usg=AFQjCNHOq77AyDq38Ein6Dh39yRbE8bN8g&sig2=dh3jfLsGs9l2VzrfXTfeyw&bvm=bv.143423383,d.amc

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Absolutely, inarguably fabulous!

Many times in pop music history, the verses of songs have been ignored.

Here’s the introductory verse to White Christmas:

The sun is shining, the grass is green.  The orange and palm trees sway
There’s never been such a day.  In Beverly Hills, LA
But, it’s December the 24th.  And I am longing to be up north.

Don’t you know that somewhere there is a book dedicated to all those introductory verses that just don’t get sung anymore?

You’re going to miss out if you don’t take a few minutes to listen to this song. Maybe it will stop repeating in my head if you do!

 

 

The Wonderful World of Hygge

Like all of you, I am a lover of words. Sometimes I get a kick in the pants by the way a word sounds. Who can resist saying Zimbabwe? Other times a word wins my heart based on its meaning, like the word lagniappe. And then there are words like hygge (pronounced hue-gah).

Who else but the Danish would come up with a word that explains so much about something so minimal, yet all-encompassing? This word has become popular in the US over the past couple of years, probably because so many of us are searching for calmness, coziness, and peace. I knew when I first read about it, I would be eager to find out more about the whole idea.

As everyone already knows, hygge is a word that defines a particular feeling, ambience, or state of being that assists those who live in places where winter evenings can begin at 4:00 o’clock and snow is pretty much continual make it through the dark periods.

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The juicy part is all the things that come together to make hygge happen. Allow me to share some of the ways it is explained:

  • a feeling
  • a mental state
  • coziness
  • well-being
  • candlelight
  • warm food
  • family-time
  • the manner in which people behave towards one another
  • intimacy
  • comradery
  • conviviality
  • contentment
  • gratitude
  • festivity
  • food-making

The idea, the word, the concept draws me in. If you’re thinking about reading a great book in front of a fire while covered in a furry throw and drinking hot chocolate with your dog by your side, then you’ve gotten the point. Maybe hygge does have something to do with the fact that Denmark normally makes it to the top of the “happiest places to live” list. But we all know that happiness rarely comes from outward objects, settings, or food. Still, count me as one who is going to get deep into the hygge movement this year. Want to join in?

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Crossing

Crossing the Jordan River, for Christians, means going to heaven. When the children of Israel fled Egypt in search of the land God had promised them, they first had to cross the Jordan River. In the New Testament, Jesus was baptized by John in the Jordan River. Eventually, Christians began to use the Jordan as a metaphor for the crossing that would lead to the final “promised land,” or heaven.

In the old days, down here in Mississippi, folks would say of someone who had died that he or she had “crossed over,”meaning they had crossed the proverbial Jordan River to be with God. So, for many who were born in these parts, the word “crossing” had a spiritual connotation.

Since we’re talking of “olden times,” I am reminded of many songs that were sung during the folk-song era that had to do with this subject matter, one of which was “We are Crossing the Jordan River.” Joan Baez and Bob Gibson did a duet of it at the 1959 Newport Folk Festival. I found a copy of the song on http://www.ibiblio.org/jimmy/folkden-wp/?p=7555, and copied it thinking some might like to hear it again, or for the first time.

We Are Crossing The Jordan River – Click To Play

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My parents tell me that in the past, many individuals went to churches that baptized members of their congregations in nearby rivers or ponds. I’m betting there are still some small churches that continue this practice today.

No matter your spiritual beliefs, it seems to me that believing that death is simply a transition, a crossing, if you will, to another place, universe (parallel or not), or form is as good a way to think about our endings as any other.

My Superpower in the Style of a Fourth Grade Poem

 

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Nobody’s ever asked me before,
And probably won’t again.
But I have a secret power,
Though I’m not sure just where it began.

You could call my power courage, I’m guessing,
But not in the usual way
For I’m pretty afraid of so many things,
And the list increases each day!

No, my courage comes in a different form,
It’s all about thinking, “I can!”
For example, if someone said, “Let’s build a boat!”
I’d say, “Yes, I’m ready, by damn.”

Or if someone asked me to help them
Write a book about how to crochet,
Although I’m just a beginner,
I’d start researching facts right away.

And if something was wrong with the placement
Of the furniture in the den,
Before anyone could stop me
There’d be chairs where the sofa had been.

I’m not bragging, in fact it’s annoying to some,
Because they might want to decide
If there towels were folded and put away
In the manner that fills me with pride.

But I just have to face it, this is my fate.
I think I can do everything.
Deep down inside, I know that’s not true,
Still, my confidence seems to take wing.

My finished product’s not perfect.
So many times it is not.
But jumping right in and attempting
Is the only superpower I’ve got!

Renewing

This is what I love about entering into a new year. Even at 70, or maybe because I am 70, I feel that turning the proverbial page and seeing that there is another year to enjoy makes me feel renewed. I am past the point of making resolutions, and I have promised myself never to use the word “diet” again, but it does occur to me that the coming twelve months will be like opening a new box of crayons. So I am going to “re-establish” a few things in my life, if I can find the courage, keep the ideas straight in my mind, and persist.

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Number one is reconnecting with people I love. I have allowed myself to isolate a little too much in the past years, and I want to change that and resurrect myself, as it were.

I also want to practice being passionate. I am fortunate to have several gifts and talents that I love to use, but this year I want to savor and take delight in the possibilities. I want my crocheting, writing, building, gardening, and jewelry-making to take on a new glow, a fresh aspect, as if I were learning to do these things for the first time.

And, above all else, I am not going to be fearful. I’m talking about that free-floating anxiety that has no basis in reality, but which feels as true as being bitten by a snake. I’m throwing that emotion away, erasing it from my persona, kicking it into the an imaginary junk yard somewhere in another galaxy. That emotion has not served me well and will no longer be my “go-to” state.

I also want to give more. Not in a sanctimonious way, but because it makes me feel so dang good myself. It seems to me, if I could do one good thing every day for someone who needs that one good thing, my days would be enormously happier than if I did not do that one small, seemingly trivial thing.

To those who blog, those who read our blogs, and to everyone who reads this page:

Here’s to a Happy and Prosperous 2017!