Fit as a Fiddle

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Maintaining good physical health is important

to our family.  We try to eat a nutritious

diet and include exercise and hydration. We

consider mental health part of our well-being. 

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During the Easter season, our daughter

invited us to join her for a spa visit.

Formerly we considered this self-indulgent;

however, now we consider it part of wellness.

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Singing in the shower or around the house are

relaxing, rewarding and fun. Taking walks in the

neighborhood or at the lake are beneficial

to the heart and mind.  Carefree.  Happy.

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Smiles, laughter, conversations, hobbies,

reading, writing, lifelong learning. Nurturing

spiritual well-being.  Music, practicing

foreign languages as well as hobbies

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are equally beneficial.  Visiting art museums and

doing photography benefit our mental health.   Stress

melts away quickly when we learn to take care

of ourselves.  During the spa visit and lunch

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afterwards, we felt relaxed and at ease.

Mental, emotional, and physical health dealt with in

one simple spa visit.  Massages, pedicure.

Resting. Fireplace. Relaxation pool in view.

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No talking or electronic devices.  Whispers only.

Simple to do and yet difficult for some.

We heed our spiritual side too.  Maintaining

good habits is a ritual of sorts.   

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Hale and hearty.  Good health means

taking care of the entire being.  Proper

breathing.  Maintaining friendships. Reaching

out to others.  Practicing the Golden Rule!

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Posted in fit as a fiddle, friendships, hale and hearty, spa visit, well being | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Mother Nature’s Sense of Humor

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 Mother Nature provided us an April Fool’s joke.

Spring snow. That is Upstate New York. Our

daffodils shivered in the cold, windy garden.

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Tis’ Easter season with ladies wearing

their finery and Easter bonnets of all

colors decorated with flowers. New

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shoes and winter coats.  What?  Our

apple tree sports big plastic eggs

blowing in the chilly wind.   We brave

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the weather and put on a happy

face.  Customs and traditions.  Off

to church we go!  Our Dad took

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photos of his wife and four daughters.

These days, some ladies wear hats for

Easter.  Smaller scale.  Less flowers.

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The lilacs and forsythia bushes have

buds and will open soon despite

Mother Nature’s gift and humor.

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Hope springs eternal.  Hope

overcomes the cold and snow.

Easter joy remains in our hearts.

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Posted in April snow, Easter finery, hope, Mother Nature, sense of humor | Tagged , , , , , | 16 Comments

A Precious Gift

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From my parents I received a special gift

in Massachusetts and later in Colorado:

piano lessons.  Expectations were to

to practice one hour of daily.

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Our parents knew that music would

last a lifetime and be food for the soul.

Simultaneously spoken and unspoken,

music had a powerful impact on me.

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My three sisters and I learned to be

organized and how to practice.  As the

eldest, I was awakened at 5 AM to

practice one hour before school.

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Grumblings soon arose that my piano

practice disturbed my sisters who wanted

more sleep.  My Dad created a clever solution

by making a piece of wood to hold down the middle

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pedal and thus dampen the sound.

Soon the decision was made to

purchase a second piano.  Later

one of my sisters studied violin in

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addition to piano.  Summers were

filled with music emanating from

our open windows.  Daily.  Hours long.

Weekly lessons.  Recitals too.  Our

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parents realized that starting children early

with music lessons is important.  We

instinctively knew that we could play

well.  We had high expectations. Practicing

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long hours was a given.  We applied the same

principles to school and college studies.  We can

still sight read and play for enjoyment.

Music remains a pleasure to this day.

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Posted in piano, music lessons, practicing piano, violin | Tagged , , , | 31 Comments

Let’s Fan Out, Fellas!

 

Look at the grub in the neighbor’s yard!

Let’s fan out and investigate! Cracked corn!

Yummy! Strutting about with fanned tail feathers,

Tom turkey replies:  look at me! Let’s go!

The hens heed the gobbling.  With a

great fanfare of clucks, purrs and

gobbles, the hens and toms swagger

over to the feast awaiting them.

They leave the open woodlands, their

preferred habitat.  With a swagger

and strut, the gobblers head to forage

the neighbor’s yard.  Sounding to the jakes

and poults, the wild turkeys parade and swoop.

With wattles and caruncles, they make a

mad dash for the feast awaiting them.  Tom

turkey says to pay the neighbor no heed for

he feeds us and enjoys watching.  Fellas, let’s

scarf this meal.  Hey, look at me, Tom fans

his tail feathers as he vies for the hens’

attention.  They finish the last morsels.

With a flurry of activity, some strut or

fly to the woodlands for the night.  We’ll

roost in yonder trees! Tomorrow is

another day for us! What a feast we had!

Posted in fanned tail feathers, hens, open woodlands, toms, wild turkeys | Tagged , , , , , , | 31 Comments

A Sight to Behold!

During the winter we are mainly housebound.

Naturally, the first warm day which was only

above freezing but sunny, the lake park

beckoned us for a walk.  My husband’s voice

declared in utter amazement that he had

never seen such a sight on Onondaga Lake.

Watching my feet as I walked on uneven grass,

I had not even investigated the distant lake.

An ichthyologist by training, my husband declared

he would never be ice fishing out there.  Racing

through my mind were a myriad of questions.  At

the top of my list was how did this person

get out onto the middle of the frozen lake?

At first, the seated figure appeared to be

reading a book. But why out on the ice?

Maybe there were fewer distractions?

How thick was the ice?  How did it support

him, his chair, and a sled of belongings? How

deep was the lake?  Would he walk ashore

if he fell through the ice? I had heard of ice

fishing at other lakes but until very

recently, this body of water had been

polluted.  After major cleanup operations,

fishing apparently was permitted.

As we continued the conversation and walk,

I was drawn back to the seated individual

In the middle of an icy lake.  If I waited long

enough, could I see how this person got

on shore again?  The lake park never ceases

to amaze.  Soon the Canada geese will return.

People still walk their dogs along the

parkway.  Boaters will return. But ice fishing?

Posted in frozen lake, ice fishing, ichthyologist, Onondaga Lake | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

Winter, Spring, or Winter?

Winds howl.  Buds appear.

Snow on the ground.

Eternal struggle ensues.

Winter, spring, or winter?

Stunning skies entertain.

Vivid pinks and purples.

Mail carrier squishes on

wet lawns.  Leftover snow

piles up next to road and

walkways. Under the raised

garden bed, daffodils push up.

Winter, spring, or winter?

Wearing garden clogs as I

trek through our gardens.

Hardy plants have survived.

Year-round parsley. Yum.

Rhododendron bushes attract

butterflies, hummingbirds, and

other songbirds.  Buds on lilacs.

Winter, spring, or winter?

Feeding frenzy at the bird

feeder.  Schneeglöckchen

in Schweindorf, Germany.

Snowdrop flowers already.

Upstate New York winters

require the hardiest plants.

German friends write of

spring.  Near the warmth

of the house, plants fool

us temporarily.  Forsooth.

Sun appears. Winds howl.

Winter, spring, or winter?

Posted in howling winds, Schneeglöckchen, spring, sunrises and sunsets, winter | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Hi, Guys!

 What kept you?  I’ve been waiting

and watching.  Ever on the lookout.

So glad you returned home.  Let

me sing to you of my happiness.

Let me call for the others and

tell them you have returned.

Thank you for the great food you

provided us.  Let me fly off and

find the others.  Be back by

afternoon.  The sun feels great

today.  My friend loves to sun

herself in the fir tree.  We’ll

be back to chirp and sing for you.

We know how you love to listen

to our chatter.  Birds conversing.

Exploring in the woods and by

the river.  Cardinals, blue jays,

sparrows, woodpeckers galore.

Mr. Crow, big and black, keeps

his distance, cawing on top of

the utility pole across the street.

Meanwhile, Mr. Gray Bushy Tail

is trying to sleep in his favorite

spot.  Keep the noise down!

We’re checking out where to

build our nests this season. Those

new birdhouses are inviting.  But

the snow is still on the ground.

Where are you off to now?  I

heard the car.  We’ll hold down

the fort in your absence.  And

sing upon your return.  Bye.

Posted in birdhouse, birthday bouquet, birthday flowers, building nests, chirping birds, Southampton snow-covered street | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Memories of Penmanship

Our first-grade teacher watched us practice cursive letters

using an exceptionally long thick pencil.  We drew swirls

until our small hands became accustomed to holding

the pencil as we wrote hesitant letters.  Serious faces.

Sit up straight.  Hold the pencil this way.  Do not hunch

over the desk when writing.  I wonder how left-handers

fared in a mainly right-handed world?  Our son belonged

to the former and I to the latter group.  When we lived in

Germany, our son attended first grade.  Our daughter was in

Kindergarten – for ages 3-5 yrs.  In town I had to purchase a

special lined paper for first grade writing attempts.  The lines were

spaced farther apart – four lines to write cursive precisely.

Waving a large piece of wallpaper, our son came

home from school holding it.  New idea to me.

He promptly turned it to the blank side and began

making swirls.  Each day he came home with a new piece

of wallpaper until the entire alphabet had been practiced.

The teacher walked around the classroom observing her

pupils as they attempted to write in cursive penmanship.

Thus, it was with a new generation. Sadly, cursive is not taught

in most US schools today.  When I taught German, my

high school students were awestruck at the beautiful

German penmanship in the pen pal letters they received.

In return I had my students write in cursive.  Some

attempts were better than others.  In reading historical

texts such as our constitution or in Germany with perusing

historical documents like birth certificates, it becomes

necessary to be able to read the script as a translator for example.

There is great merit in learning the invaluable skill of cursive writing.

In elementary school in Massachusetts, penmanship was a class.

In first grade in Germany, pencils were used. In subsequent

years, fountain pen and ink were used. Not a ballpoint pen.

Posted in cursive writing, fountain pen, German Schools, penmanship, S. schools, US schools, wallpaper | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Bells Resound!

Each Sunday morning the pealing bells resonated through the village.

Time for church.  They beckoned in full deep resonant tones.  My

Dad recalled the church bells of his youth and the old gray stone

Church.  Clocks chimed every quarter hour. Those early Massachusetts

years with fond memories of bells. My first grade teacher kept her

school bell on her desk and used it to call us in from recess.  On

the Colorado mantel shelf we had a collection of bells and clocks.

My Dad wound that clock daily using a dedicated key.  Before

our current church was built, I played the organ in a former

one room schoolhouse on the prairie.  Magical times.  My Dad loved

the sound of the school bell in the bell tower.  Sonorous tones.

Later in my CU Boulder studies, I watched the bell ringer

grab hold of the long rope suspended from the huge bell in

the oldest building called Old Main, 1876.  He took a run below

and then his feet left the floor as he fell into rhythm with the

ringing bell.  So many of the real bells have been replaced with

mechanical ones which are simply not the same.  During my

studies at the university in Heidelberg, the days were filled with

clocks chiming the quarter hour and church bells. Loud. In

Switzerland the cows wore bells around their necks. Large ones.

as they went to summer pastures in the Alps.  We have one

hanging in the kitchen near the door.  In our German village, a

farmer rang a bell announcing his wares: Kartoffeln/potatoes.

Just harvested. In our current home, an old man walked through

the neighborhood with a large round stone in tow.  He rang

a bell and shouted “knives, scissors sharpened.”  We all ran to

fetch our dull cutlery. Traditions from the old country. Bells

surround us in our daily lives. Doorbells, wind chimes, church bells,

jingle bells, music box chimes, vehicle warning bells.  They tug at

heartstrings.  As we amble through the snow-covered landscape

engaged in deep thought, our wandering gazes notice small things.

Peaceful. Silent except for distant bells beckoning us a welcome.

Posted in clocks, Swiss cow bells, UC Boulder Old Main bell | Tagged , , | 31 Comments

First Grade Field Trip in Germany

Giddy first graders donned boots

and jackets to go outdoors after

the snowfall to discover and document

those footprints left behind by the

rabbits, squirrels, and deer. They

documented in carefully written

journals those wonderful discoveries.

Bright-eyed and happy in the tiny

German village where Oscar Mayer

was born. Their teacher led the

field trip through the snow and

explained where the creatures

lived in the cold winter months.

Red-cheeked and happy,

the first graders returned home

after school to tell their parents.

Seeing life in a simple manner

through the eyes of children is

a wonderful way to view life.

Wishing everyone peace.

Posted in animal tracks, German School Field Trip, tracks in snow | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments