Category Archives: exploring over hills and dales

World Views

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When people give me a film recommendation, I take this with a ‘grain of

salt.’ There are so many different interests, particular patterns to people’s

choices in what they choose to watch. This is true of television, movies,

theater, music and cultural events. There are some universal choices that

almost everyone enjoys once in awhile. International movies, where the

cinematography and images are breath-taking and fantastic, are ones that

I am thrilled to receive from someone I admire and pass on to others, too.

My friend, Beth, who writes about all kinds of international subjects,

along with her home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan and her little ones

that she teaches, included “Vivan Las Antiopodes” as one of her posts.

Here is her blog:

http://ididnthavemyglasseson.com

We have some kindred sisterhood, which I admit I have been close to

several other bloggers along the way, with similar tastes and interests.

Beth has a reason for her interest in Australia and grandchildren, yet

even I am sometimes surprised at such details as liking the same kind

of ice cream that we have connections beyond what I generally find in

my community and home town.

So, to get this movie, I had to mention my interest to the librarian,

who got online to seek whether it was located in our own library or

a part of our district library in Delaware County. Nope! It was from

Greene County, Ohio, the town of Xenia, where this film was sent for.

I watched it and took notes. I then re-watched it while eating dinner

the next night. It is awesome, beyond description in its simple theme

of how across the world, we are all similar. It is complex, in its terrains

and cultural differences. These four cities, chosen because they are

exactly diametrically opposed on the globe, are called, “antipodes.”

If you watch this, the picture gradually slants from the one place to

glide effortlessly, circuitously into the other one. It is hard to explain

but it shows the world on its axis, so to speak, literally turning from

the one location to the next. The dizzying effect is exhilarating!

 

Then it is philosophical, here in my own words, I try to explain the

effect this film had upon me:

 

“We are all mankind.

Look at us, trying to eke out existence where there are few resources.

This is for the desert and sparse land where hardly any green exists.

Where there are miles between homes, across divergent tundras of land.

Trying to make our way among a crowded city, winding between others,

taking care not to enter the personal spaces, but sometimes colliding.”

 

I felt the movie has themes that are universal, no need to try to interpret

or have the languages translated. Why worry about the subtexts? Just

watch this movie for all the reasons Beth mentioned, along with this

short summary of textures I tried to capture in words. There are so many

dimensions, you will see this if you check out Beth’s post on this, too.

 

Swans

Birds

Giraffes

Farmers

Workers

Shearers

Sheep

 

Joy

Dances

Ukulele

Expressions

Discordant tones

Musical instruments

Melodic chants

Staccato “coos”

Dissonant

Calm

 

Round

and

Round

 

Sparse

Simple

Solidarity

Separate

Solitude

 

Fluid

Flows

Frost

Foliage

Fields

 

Round

and

Round

 

Carts

Riders

Walkers

Bicyclists

Complicated

Intertwining

Rickshaw

Vehicles

Trucks

Cars

 

Stark

Rocky

Barren

Beauty

Splendor

Horizons

Grassy

Beach

Lush

 

Men

Women

Diversity

Young

Old

 

 

 

 

Spring News

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Happy (End of the) First Day of Spring!

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, for April, 2014 predicts the

average Central states’ temperature will be 59 degrees!

That is news to celebrate! That is a little higher than the

seasonable average of years past… except two years ago,

in 2012, we had on our first day of Spring’s weather an

incredibly high temperature, in the eighties! This year’s

almanac also predicts the first week will be warm and the

month will be the “typical” April, filled with showers.

As far as flowers are concerned, my friend’s garden has

between 3 and 4 inches of crocuses, hyacinths, tulips

and daffodils showing green ‘sprouts.’ I love seeing the

popping out of flowers! The old adage that, “Winter isn’t

over until the yellow forsythia is in bloom,” means that

we still have a little more winter left. Unfortunately,

I have checked the woodsy area of her yard, where her

forsythia bush is, to verify this fact. I have seen a few

pussy willows showing their furry buds.

In the foothills South of us, leading to the stunning Smoky

Mountains, I wonder has anyone heard if the redbuds are in

bloom yet? I enjoy their fuchsia, purple color that is so

common in the woods and forests of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The contrast of their bright color, among the fresh, bright

green buds on other bushes and trees is quite breathtaking.

Another amazing place to trek to in Ohio, is Cedar Bog

State Nature Preserve. It has unusual plants that are

very exciting since they come from when the ancient

glacier deposited its seeds and remnants of rich soil.

I have seen in their woods: Violets, Spring Beauties,

Jack in the Pulpit and Trillium, which is also known as

Indian Turnip, since they are considered edible. There

is a wide variety of different hued flowers including

the pinkish-lavender of Dame’s Rocket, the yellow Swamp

Buttercup, and the purple Greek Valerian. The hummingbirds

enjoy the nectar in the Red tipped Wild Columbine flowers.

(Compared to the purple and blue Columbine of Colorado.)

This nature preserves has a bog, swampy area and the

prairie areas with their unique plant life. The prairie

area is also known as the “prairie fen complex.” In this

area you can find different trees like the White Cedar

Trees, tall Arbor-Vitae and the Swamp Birch Trees.

The rainbow-colored flowers with the greenery deck out

Mother Nature quite nicely in all her glory!

Cedar Bog is recognized for one of their most unusual

flowers, growing in large quantities, considered the

biggest collection around. This is that of the Showy Lady

Slipper orchids. They are not in bloom until late May or

June, though.

Nature photographers gather there and lean in close to

take those perfect shots that capture the floral beauty

all year ’round.

When I think of the word, “Spring,” I think of the word

buoyancy. Everything if so full of life and new energy.

I think of pastels, like the pink and lavender hyacinths

combined with the yellow and white daffodils with their

orange-red details in their stamens. My Mom’s favorite

tulips are the ones that have ruffled edges, hers with

bright pink tips with white petals. Then, she would plant

beside them, those dark, deep purple tulips. The contrast

was always outstanding.

I liked the scents of lavender, lilacs, lilies of the field

and honeysuckle in the warm sunshine. The bees buzzing did

not phase me in my youth. I would not worry about their

sting, when I leaned in to take deep breaths of flowers.

My grandchildren adore the A.A. Milne character, Tigger.

His ‘springy’ bounce on his coiled tail illustrates the

way I feel about ‘Spring!’ They like to bounce on the bed,

where they wear the ‘springs out!’ I think of a cat, up

high looking down at its prey, a mouse, from a fencepost

or rook. He is poised and ready to spring to catch his

tasty meal!

Wishing you Spring in your step and Light in your Heart!

Get Out and Walk!

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Nature and Parks are the best places to be when it is cold and there

is snow on the ground. Bundle up! Wear layers and boots, sometimes, if

they are not waterproof, I will wear two pairs of socks and a bread

bag on each foot, inside my boots! This really insulates and protects

your toes. Even the “best quality” boots can be water permeable, unless

you have the proverbial ‘rubber boots!’ Andrea Cambern, a former news

and television broadcaster initiated a Central Ohio program for the

parks here, aptly titled, “Commit to be fit!” hope this post will serve

you well, in its inspiration and getting you in an active frame of mind.

I went for a walk on New Year’s Day with someone I had not seen for

awhile. My schedule opened up after I dropped my granddaughters off,

and I had buoyed spirits, full of ‘bon vivant’ and jovial feelings.

Extra energy was pouring out of my pores! I answered the cell phone,

somewhat with trepidation, half with excitement. Yes, I would meet

at a park, half distance from his place to mine. We met at the Genoa

Township Park, walking fairly quickly, admiring the fact the temps

were in the ‘double digits’ and the sun was shining! What a great

sign of a wonderful new year in each of our separate, but somehow

connected, lives.

Conversation bounced from grandkids to work schedules, veering off

into our ongoing, continued friendships and relationships with the

opposite sex. I had not been able to see Bill today, I said, due

to his college football scheduling conflicts. He had promised me

“dainty treats at Starbucks café” and was going back on his word!

I was making sure the other party did not think I was ‘desperate’

nor lacking entertainment. I also mentioned I was going home with

an appetite later for my son’s pork roast, daughter in law’s baked

three cheese and macaroni casserole and the requisite sauerkraut.

All, to me, the best meal to begin one’s new year and give you a

bit of good luck, too. After walking, I would not feel guilty about

the large meal. I would be ready to consume it all, deliciously,

lounging on the sofa with a pile of movies rented from the library.

This man is in a relationship, not married nor engaged, but tied up

none the less, waiting for morsels of her time over the holidays.

Her ex-husband provides housing, you see, for her sister and brother

in law, therefore the fun after holidays game playing period, ends

up at his house. Also, for New Year’s Day, all had some kind of

dinner planned, again excluding the present boyfriend. I ‘tut-tut’

and give a few sympathetic ‘too bad’s’ but am secretly a little bit

happy, is that kind to say? I mean, we were broken up by this said

woman, now he did what my Dad would declare from time to time:

“You made your bed, now lie in it!” (By the way, one must not use

the word “lay,” since that is the word meant to be used as “to place

an object” somewhere, not a body! I learned this from my frequent

error of saying in front of my mother, the English grammarian and

teacher, “I like to ‘lay out’ in the sun!” Horrors! My Mom would get

all wound up with a lecture about that one, even to this forgetful

and feeble minded day! Huge smiles at that memory!)

We saw some birds take off in the woods, heard and saw some scampering

squirrels, along with my special bird of choice, several male red

cardinals, along with their yellowish, brown mates on our walk.

We breathed deeply, listening to the crunching sound of our boots

on the path, giving pauses in our lively conversation.

Anyway, here are some interesting historical facts about the parks

and recreation areas that make us all so lucky to be in our fabulous

United States!

In June, 1864, almost 150 years from this time, Abraham Lincoln signed

into effect, a bill creating the “world’s first public, government-run

park!” This was, of course, the beginning of the Yosemite Park.

Then, eight years later, (1872), Yellowstone National Park became the

first National Park! (It apparently was not government funded totally,

and the name National Park was added to Yellowstone.)

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson signed into legislation the federal organization

known as the National Park Service.

Wallace Stegner, Pulitzer Prize winning author, called this, “America’s

best idea.” Another great author and screenwriter/producer/director,

Ken Burns’ documentary, “The National Parks” can be rented and seen in

your home on several discs.

A couple of years ago, for only $80, one could purchase an annual pass

(or an even better purchase, for a person over 62 years, only $10 will

buy you a lifetime pass!) This pass will get you access to 395 national

parks and cultural highlights of our nation.

I watched, “Miss Potter,” an excellently written, portrayed and amusing

movie again recently. If you have not seen it, it’s a charming movie that

tells all about the naturalist, conservationist, author and illustrator.

Renee Zewelleger and Ewan McGregor do admirable jobs in portraying these

real people.

Beatrix Potter made a lot of money selling her books with her darling

drawings, with watercolors. This was rare for women in her day. You may know

her more from her drawings of Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle-Duck and Squirrel

Nut-kin. The movie also has some whimsy, in that the drawings become moving

and wriggling animated creatures that Beatrix talks to. Loved this aspect of

it! After all, we all kind of coax our living animals and talk like they are

people, along with talking to our characters in our stories.

She also illustrated all varieties of nature, including mice, bats, insects,

and fungi. She left, when she died in 1943 her inheritance to the National

Trust, hundreds of acres of land to be kept as nature preserves in England.

These are located in the Lake District National Park. For years to come,

they will protect the land from construction and other forms of ‘progress’

ruining it.

I know every country, in the world, has beautiful landscapes, parks and

historical features to be seen and treasured. The birds and wildlife can

be observed, the paths usually kept walkable, so if you are not from the

U.S. go out, discover and explore your parks! Tell us about your favorite

locations, if you would like.

There is not many things one can do to get that exhilarating thrill of a

speedy, quick paced walk with a friend, sharing and catching up on each

other’s lives. The cold air on your face will not freeze it off, you may

even get some sun on it, so put protective lotion on with SPF in it!

I have only three books to recommend in this post today, I hope that by

taking them out at your library, purchasing them online, at a local book

store or one of my favorite ‘bargain places,’ Half Price Books.

1. Lonely Planet’s “Discover USA’s Best National Parks,” (500 pages). This

is a fantastic guidebook and a great coffee table book. It includes full color

photographs and important details, including costs, lodging and other neat,

helpful information.

2. “Ranger Confidential: Living, Working and Dying in the Parks,” (265 pages).

The author, an actual Park Ranger, Andrea Lankford, tells in both a humorous

tone and a serious one, all about her experiences. This non-fiction book also

gives you a scary statistic; that a Park Ranger has fifteen times more chances

of dying in his/her position than an FBI agent!

3. “Ansel Adams’ in the National Parks,” (344 pages). The famous black and

white iconic photographer, is featured with his pictures of the parks, dating

back from the 1940’s. You have seen the most famous photographs of Yosemite Park,

Yellowstone National Park, and the Grand Tetons, but the ones that will be also

fascinating to you, will be ones of over forty other parks that he photographed.

Hope this post and its facts, books and thoughts about nature will get you

moving towards the great outdoors! Communing with Mother Nature may be the way

to keep a few of your resolutions and keep your sanity, too.

What would you do if you suddenly were rich?

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Songs that have the words, “All I Want for Christmas” or “I’m Dreaming of a White
Christmas” make me think of the times that while on a trip, in our family, we would
“dream” or ask the question,
“What would you do if you were given a million dollars?”
Since I have posted a few stories that are more for those of one faith, I would like
to extend this question, broaden it to:
“What are your dreams and how would you make them come true, if money were no problem?”
I think I would right off the bat, give to my children each $100,000. I would hope
that they would understand that Mom cannot give all of the money to them! But, that
would provide a good start to their savings and since they have jobs, maybe they would
be satisfied with the helping hand out.
I would quit Advance Auto D.C. right away! I have been feeling my fingers getting numb
and think that my legs, body, etc. need to have an “easier life after fifty!”
I don’t complain, but when given a chance out of there, I would seize it and not look
back, except to keep in touch with some of my favorites, like Tammy, Melvin and Darryl.
They make me laugh, get me to relax and enjoy my lunch and breaks.
I would like to move to an apartment with two bedroom, furnish one with twin beds, like
Felicia and I had when I first moved into my present situation. I would furnish the
second room with a full or queen size bed. I would like an apartment like my ex-husband
has, with a pool nearby and a patio with a sliding glass door to the outside. I would
plant flowers and some tomato plants, too.
I would live on $30,000 or $35,000 a year, using the rest of the money as a combination
of saving and giving. I would be careful and choose the charities or projects that
deserved my donations, carefully. I would get a simple job with health care coverage.
I do believe that it is a good idea to “tithe” and I would do this to my faithful
and caring First Presbyterian Church. I would pray for insight and inspiration about
my choices.
I might consult someone who is in financial planning to ensure I make wise choices
about my savings and spending, too.
I think it is important to donate time and energy to projects. I am a big fan of Habitat
for Humanity and have volunteered only once (so far) for this in my town.
I should do it more regularly!
Money would allow me to have more time!
I am not sure if I could get a Monday through Friday position, but would try to find
a place that desired my abilities enough to accommodate that “dream,” too.
I would like to listen to live bands more!
I would get a computer and get my Wi-Fi turned back on!
You would still only see or hear from me once or twice a day, since I would like to
be able to spend more time volunteering at my grandchildren’s schools.
I would like to travel, far and wide, over hill and dale…
I would like to move my mother down here, but as my sister in law, Susan, has pointed
out, Cleveland is the “Mecca of Nursing Homes!” and she has settled into her very nice
apartment with plenty of Randy’s artwork there and the close proximity to brothers is
a plus, too.
I would spend more time driving up to visit her on the weekends! I would bring little
ones to visit and we would explore the area more, while I am up there!
This is all to say, that I am overall very happy with the skeleton of this dream, I
have my family, my apartment, my car and my job, so I am thankful for my blessings…
I would just expand my world a little bit, with the extra money, but being mindful to
keep most of the money in savings for the different bends and twists in Life.

Let me know what your dreams would be, if “money were no object!”

And I cannot help myself, when the child asks for “his two front teeth” as All He
Wanted for Christmas! (Do you believe that could really be all he wants? Smiles!)

Farm Life Music

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There is such a thing as “earnest work” and I have always admired the

way farmers work from sun up until sun down. My brothers and I had

a babysitting family who lived on a farm so we were blessed with the

special ability of feeding a lamb a baby bottle of milk in a big country

kitchen. We had the opportunity to play in corn fields, in the hay loft

and jump, swinging on ropes into piles of hay. We loved sledding down

a big hill and skating our sleds onto a frozen creek. I like the expression,

“Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise!”

When our family was on long road trips, though, my Dad would make fun

of country music. He would sing in an off tune way, “My dog got run over,

my Dad is cheating on my Mom and I think I better hide myself in a mug

of beer” or some such nonsense when we rolled south out of Ohio and

heard more and more country and less and less rock n’ roll.

Music flows through everyone’s souls, though, I believe. There is always

a favorite song, a favorite line in a song that applies to our life and it

fills my heart with gladness or hits me like a sock in the gut, at times.

I was very pleased to hear about this unusual way of producing music,

I liked the way that John Switzer in the Columbus Dispatch says about

music and what I am going to share with you,

“It is always a treat when we experience something memorable.

I did just that the other day when my wife and I attended an open house

at a Delaware County farm that raises Jersey cows. Jersey cows give milk

that is high in butterfat, which is ideal for making cheese.” (He and his

wife were out at Fulton Creek Jersey Cheese farm.)

The entertainment was called, “silo singers.” The songs ranged from

“Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” (gospel) to “The Red River Valley”

(folk songs). These were performed by a trio in an empty silo!

The singing in silo is not a new form of music, many of you may have

already experienced it! But I talked my friend into going with me last

month on a nice, warm Sunday afternoon to hear this splendid way

of using the walls of the silo to create an unusual tone and acoustics!

One of the performers, a woman named Gretchen Kumlien, said it

is the equivalent to being in a great cathedral.

This silo singing performance is more common in Wisconsin.

The music spilled out of the top of the silo and through an open side

door, too. It drifts over the warm, harvested fields and gently sloping

land. The trio of father, wife and daughter had a guitar and clarinet,

plus melodic voices intertwined.

If John Switzer hadn’t shared this in his column, “From the Stump,” I

would never have probably run into this way of enjoying music. I was

surprised that my friend, who is a farmer’s daughter, had also never

heard of this way of performing either!

I particularly liked the song, “Hang Down Your Head, Tom Dooley.”

That was a song that my elementary teacher had sung with a zither

accompanying her.

For some reason this quote, as we drove home, rumbled through my

pensive head:

“But I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.”

(Robert Frost)

I find the more we explore this world, countryside, over hills and dales,

we are constantly given special treats for covering the distance and

time spent.