Light and Shadow Play



Late afternoon sun streams through the window

and casts shadows about. The legerdemain conjures up

imaginary characters dancing about between

the light and shadows. My thoughts wander.


Interrupting the game of light, the Chinooks rustle

the leaves in the trees. These warm breezes

cheer me. Yet, I am somewhat wistful

that autumn will give way to winter’s snows.


Dazzling sunsets hypnotize. The evening skies

enrapture me as if I were painting broad brush

strokes of pink hues on a canvas. As if under a

magic spell. the chicanery delights and amuses.


All too soon, the winds cast the leaves to the ground,

blowing relentlessly and ending Autumn abruptly.

My pensiveness interrupted. I now await more

magic of light and shadows in the snowy landscapes.






Posted in Autumn, Autumn Leaves, Chinooks, extravagant autumn beauty | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Erntedankfest in a German Village

Schweindorf 1990

The Fulbright program does an incredible job connecting peoples around the world. We had learned that I was to teach English to German pupils from grades 6-10 in a Comprehensive School in Neresheim, Germany.  The school served 30 surrounding towns and villages nearby. In July our two young children, ages 3 and 6, and I flew to Germany for orientation sessions in Bonn before traveling to our assigned towns and schools for the year.  My husband remained at home and was able to visit a few times during the year.  Our village of about 300 people was called Schweindorf where we had an apartment above a restaurant owned by the Spielberger family who became our second family for the year and remain that to this very day. They had a huge farm, a barn with horses and lots of land to roam and play.

Previously I had studied in Heidelberg, Germany, for three years and had visited a few times. Bringing young children along and living there posed new challenges.  There was one church in the village which was historically Protestant.  Around the end of October, we learned about a festival to be held with services in that church.  It was called Erntedankfest which was a harvest festival giving thanks for the good harvest in the fields.  Our kindergarten-age daughter participated by bringing up some of the vegetables which were places on the altar.  Like many other customs and holidays, this one remains forever in our hearts and minds.

When my husband brought home a box filled with local vegetables harvested in nearby fields of Upstate New York, nostalgia hit, and I was reminded of that festival in our tiny German village where people gathered together to give thanks for a good harvest and to instill respect for customs and traditions.

Gasthof Hirsch Schweindorf0001

Our lives were forever changed by our experiences of living abroad and attending German schools. Our son attended a combined class of grades 1-2 in nearby Kösingen, the home of the hot dog king, Oscar Mayer.  Children in German schools take numerous field trips during the year.  These are written into the school calendar, and no work has to be made up.  What they do on the field trip is considered school for the day.  Our son still has his collection of leaves which were indentified and attached in his journals.  We still have his cursive handwritten pages and poems all in German.  We still tell one another “ich liebe Dich” or I love you at the end of conversations.   For years, my children listened to me sing in German at the beginning of our day, Guten Morgen, liebe Sonne, as well as Brahm’s Lullaby at the end, Guten Abend, Gute Nacht.

Tom 1st gr.Koesingen, Ger. Schultuete0001

Whenever we shopped in the local bakeries, butcher shops or toy stores, the children were always given free cookies and pieces of bologna or sometimes candy. They became spoiled, and we missed that when we returned home to Upstate New York the following July.  Having quickly learned the German language in Germany, our two experienced reverse culture shock at home.  Our daughter’s first language for all practical purposes was German, and now she had to speak English.  The eye exam with our pediatrician at her well check-up posed a funny problem.  The nurse showed her pictures to identify which our daughter correctly did – but in German!  I was called to the exam room and informed of a “problem” but I simply translated for the nurse and resolved the issue.  The ice cream cone picture identified with the German word Eis was understood as an ice cube by the nurse who then learned the German word!

We have been back in the U.S. for many moons now but still speak German whenever we can but especially our prayer before meals. Learning a foreign language is as important to us as brushing our teeth or learning to play a musical instrument.  We observed how tolerant and understanding of others our two became as they lived in Schweindorf, our little home away from home near the Bavarian border.  It was an exciting year for everyone.

IMG_4950Emily in Schweindorf0001


Posted in Erntedankfest, Fulbright Exchange, Fulbright to Germany, German village life, harvest festival, Schweindorf, Spielberger family | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The World of the Soul


Making figure “8” motions,

these winged messengers

delicately flit about

like angels  playing

in the garden. These

angel messengers deliver

pure joy to us. They

symbolize hope and rebirth.


They represent our life journey.

Hope, change, transformation,

these many-hued butterflies

are the world of the soul.



Photo credits to talented photographer, Sally Rose Dolak, and her lovely butterfly photos from Costa Rica where she resides and blogs.

Photo credits also to Emily Nemecek and her beautiful sunsets over the bay near Southampton, New York.

Posted in butterflies, messengers, world of the soul | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Stop, Look, Listen!


It is that wonderful season of autumn in Upstate New York. The last lingering days of summer with bright sunshine, gorgeous skies and lush gardens await the harvest.  On such days, we like to take a drive into the country to a lovely farm to table restaurant to feast on fresh vegetables prepared to perfection by the chef.


Colors abound and delight. A visit from our daughter was the icing on the cake.  Life is grand when loving family and friends come together over good food and conversation.  Can it get better than this?


Stop and enjoy fall colors. Look at the skies and gaze at the intriguing clouds.  Listen to crickets, frogs, brooks and Canada Goose formations above.


Enjoy the crisp, cool mornings and promise of another day unfolding. Remember your loved ones everywhere.  Say a prayer.  Tell them you love them.  Sing a song!

Posted in Autumn, Autumn Leaves, extravagant autumn beauty, Fall colors, farm to table restaurant | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Grow, Little Tree!


On Trees and Life

watch the storm
watch the tree

tree came down
tree crashed

crashed in the street
crashed near car

car parked
parked near power lines

lines came down
lines in the street

street poles down
street poles damaged

damaged lines
damaged poles replaced

replaced now
replaced and power

power restored
power saws

saws made logs
saws tidied up

fast forward one year
one year ago half a tree

tree did not flourish
tree rest was felled

felled tree with tears
felled but for the stump

stump is last reminder
stump a podium


podium to stand on
podium to sit on

on with the task
on with a replacement

replacement tree planted
replacement takes years


years without the shade
years of waiting

waiting for taller tree
waiting for shade

shade and sunshine
shade and water

water daily
water in the morning

morning fog
morning mist

mist the tree
mist the leaves

leaves delicate
leaves of green




Posted in nature, tree is felled, trees, white pine tree | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Morning Hours


It seems that early fall days provide beautiful sunrises and stunning sunsets. Our daughter has seen lovely ones on the beach at Southampton, New York, on Long Island.  We privately celebrate the colorful brush strokes of many hues.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic has made a roaring appearance with two hurricanes in as many weeks: Harvey in Texas and Irma in Florida.  A few years ago, we gifted our two children portable storm radios which they have used in tropical storms and in hurricanes.

Now we are keeping close watch on Jose which may become a hurricane again. And it may hit Long Island.  Our daughter lived through Hurricane Sandy and two weeks without power.  By early next week, there are tropical storm conditions there which we watch with trepidation.

As a woman of faith, I went to church this morning to have a talk with our Lord and ask that he protect and watch over all those in harm’s way. Mother Nature is want to disrupt lives and wreak havoc in the blink of an eye.  We are a generous, helpful people so we try to help our neighbors in need.

The morning hours have always been my favorite time of the day. I can watch the skies, listen to the birds and watch the fullness of the apples trees and our gardens.

It is my fervent wish that the latest tropical storm/hurricane stay out in the Atlantic and not disrupt people’s lives. Here’s a short prayer for all those affected:

Let us open our hearts and pray
for those who have lost everything.

Let us offer a comforting word
to those who have no homes to return to.

Let us help the less fortunate rebuild
and donate our time and fortunes to assist.

Above all, let us be grateful and trust
in His plan for us, today and always.

Allow us to grieve and let the tears flow.
Whisper softly and recall the happy memories.

For this we are grateful today. May there
be an afterglow of smiles. May we have hope.  Amen.

IMG_4770 (2)


Posted in hurricanes, morning hours, Mother Nature, prayer for those in need, sunrises and sunsets, tropical storms | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Music Colors My Life!

singing at vidcon

Musical notes, beats, rests, keys, sharps, flats, major, minor, staff, treble clef, bass clef, rhythms, voices, moods, time signatures, adagio, allegro, forte, chant, chamber, carols, classical, dynamics, fermata, leitmotifs, sonata, staff, concerto, tones, voices – all this and more characterize the varied forms music contains.  When I studied classical piano for 12+ years and in college, I immersed myself in the language of the soul:  music.  It is the true international language which comforts, soothes and lifts us up the spirit.  A lifetime of music still reveals its many facets to me.  Probably the more difficult forms for me to listen to still would be the 12 tone music of Arnold Schönberg and the more modern techno music.  However, instead of majoring in music in college, I chose German as my major focus and studied in Germany.  I did not leave my music behind though and continued as a music director in several churches as well as piano playing at home.

First with Prof. LaForce in Massachusetts and later Mrs. Hardwick in Pueblo, Colorado, I practiced scales and became acquainted with various pieces of classical music including Beethoven, Bach and Mozart to name a few. My mother often played the piano while she and my father sang along.  Afterwards my father would proclaim he was the best male singer in the family!  What a corny joke since he was the sole male voice in our family.  My Uncle Joe gave me his record player and record collection of 45 rpm records which introduced me to opera and Smetana when I was a teen.   Later I acquired my own collection of popular music and played them over and over as teens do.  My parents introduced us to orchestral symphony performances in Pueblo.

At the age of 13, I began to play the organ at church and sing in the choir. To this day, I still sing in the choir.  Reflecting on the many influences in my life, I would have to say that music has had  the most powerful effect.  It is spoken and unspoken simultaneously.  When I play the piano, I can interpret as I choose to fit my mood and the occasion.  Frequently I sing with my students in German classes to share in my joy of music.  Interdisciplinary projects with music have always remained in my video conferences with Germany and in awards ceremonies at school.

The many role models in my family as I grew up understood the meaning and power of music and allowed me to have that gift. My husband and I passed this gift on to our children with Mrs. Caravan as their teacher. For my reading audience, I have included photos of me playing the church organ and my sisters singing in the choir.  Also photos from several video conferences when we sing songs and some students play instruments.  And last but not least are photos of the school chorus under the direction of Mrs. Caryn Patterson, and string instruments performing for an award ceremony for the German-American Society of Central New York thanking the members and Scholarship Chair, Mrs. Sally Frenza,  for the many college scholarships they provide our German students in  Central New York.


My wish for all of you is that you experience the wonder, the magic. the meaning and the power of music in its many shapes and forms.  How many of you listen to music for pleasure or play a musical instrument including voice?  Which song holds the most meaning to you and why?  Which music gives you goosebumps?

This weekend’s all day workshop on Music Improvisation at our local community college promises to be a fun-filled experience. Just as leaves are beginning to turn colors, so also will my musical world and life be enriched with newly-faceted colors!











































Posted in award ceremonies, food for the soul, German, international language, music teachers, musical forms, role models, video conferences | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments