Massachusetts-born Poet: Katharine Lee Bates

Today is Flag Day so as I hung our American flag
from the front porch, I started to sing America
the Beautiful and began to research the
back story of the beautiful piece of music.

Katharine Lee Bates was head of the English
Department at Wellesley College who spent
the summer of 1893 teaching at Colorado
College in Colorado Springs. She and

other teachers decided to go on a trip
up the 14, 110′ high Pikes Peak. What a
trip that must have been in a hired prairie
wagon. Bumpy ride. Near the summit,

the group had to go the rest of the way
on mules. Katharine was tired but felt
enormous joy at the wonder she viewed
at the summit. She later wrote the

poem which was published in 1895. Samuel
A. Ward composed a hymn tune which used
Bates’ poem in 1910 and called it America
the Beautiful. Bates was ahead of her time.

So as we celebrate Flag Day this June 14
and Father’s Day on Sunday June 16, let
us be grateful for what we have in our
lives and in this country called the U. S. A.

Happy Flag Day!         Happy Father’s Day!


America the Beautiful

O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain
For purple mountain majesties, above the fruited plain
America, America, God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea

O beautiful for Pilgrim feet, whose stern impassioned stress
A thoroughfare for freedom beat, across the wilderness
America, America, God mend thine every flaw
Confirm thy soul in self control, Thy liberty in law

O beautiful for heroes proved, in liberating strife
Who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life
America, America, May God they gold refine
Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine

O beautiful for patriot dream, that sees beyond the years
Thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears
America, America, God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shining sea. Peak Cog Railway) the Summitt of Pikes Peak)

Posted in America the Beautiful, Flag Day, Happy Father's Day, Katharine Lee Bates, Pikes Peak Colorado, Samuel A. Ward | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Happy Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

In heaven now, I still recall my parents with
fondness and love. Both great role models,
it seems I sound just like them today!
Incredible how advice and words roll off my tongue.

This happens in most families I imagine.
Turn the light off when you leave the
room, close the door, please and thank you.
Seventy-eight years ago they married.

June 7, 1941. The same day my Dad
graduated Boston University. Young
love and interrupted for a time by
WWII but resumed happily. They

met and married in Boston and
came from small Western Massachusetts
towns. The home in Sturbridge had
plenty of room to play in summer


and build snowmen in winter. Long,
uninterrupted days of outdoor play
is what I fondly recall. After the move
to Colorado, my Dad finished the

home in Belmont, a Pueblo suburb.
Prairie land and more arid than
Massachusetts but a healthier
climate with abundant sun.

Two incredible people met,
married and faced life’s obstacles
with a strong faith and abiding love.
To my role models, Mom and Dad:

I wish you continued joy, love
and happiness in heaven. We
talk to you all the time, you know.
With much love: Happy Anniversary!

Posted in Boston University, family love, Pueblo, Colorado suburb Belmont, role models, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, wedding anniverssary | Tagged , , , , | 17 Comments

Come Stroll Through our Gardens!


A few years back when the children were young,
I opened my breakfast pink grapefruit to find a
surprise awaiting: a large seed inside had burst
open and begun to grow. It begged to be planted.

Thus began a lesson in plant growth and maintenance.
As the years progressed, we had a much larger tree
with which to contend. It wintered over in the garage
near a window. We lovingly tended the tree.

Now, at the end of May, it came outdoors for
longer days with sun. It sits on the brick wall near
the walkway at the front step. Who would guess its
humble beginnings and what it is now? As I strolled

our gardens noting what is in bloom, the variety
of colors and shapes, I ponder our grapefruit tree which
grew just as our children did. They outgrew shoes and
clothes. Probably we need a new larger pot now too.

We watch and listen to the birds sing as they build new
nests and flit from one tree to another: the beach plum,
the rose hips, rhododendron, lilacs and apple trees
are home to nature’s creatures. They delight us!



Posted in apple trees, beach plum, grapefruit tree, lilacs, our gardens, rhododendron, rose hips | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Thoughts on Parallel Parking


How did my parents manage with just one car
in the early days of their marriage? It was the norm.
Mothers stayed at home with children. Shopping
for groceries must have been challenging.

My mother did not have a driving license until
my father taught her when she was 35. Imagine.
In Colorado, teens could drive at age 16.
My sisters could not wait to get a license.

Not I. Summers during college when
I returned home, I worked downtown at
a local bank as a bookkeeper. Busses ran
from Belmont to downtown every two hours.

My parents strongly encouraged me to get
a driver’s license in the event of an emergency.
Finally got mine at age 19. I highly recommend
not trying to teach your own children either.

My father, bless his heart, was a task
master, and I abhorred his parallel parking
lessons at the local high school on the weekend.
He stood about 6″ from the front of the car

and instructed me to drive forward. Of
course, I panicked and stalled the standard
shift car each and every time. Telling me I
was not going to hit him did not help me.

The first semester of my junior year was
spent at college and then I flew to Heidelberg,
Germany to study for three years, When I returned
to the US, I was in my mid-twenties. I had

not yet driven a car. Apparently my “emergency”
never materialized. My Uncle Joe gave me
a used car to drive for my first university job.
Later I would teach full-time and commute

two thousand miles per month for three
years to complete graduate work at another
university 90 miles away. Driving has been a
necessity for me. I can’t say I enjoyed it.

When our children were of driving age, we
opted to have them take private driving lessons
from a driving school instructor and driver’s
education classes at the local community college.

There are some things better left to professionals.
Driving lessons, music lessons, etc. I still
do NOT like parallel parking and will drive
until I find a parking space.


Posted in getting a driver's license, graduate work, parallel parking, U. of Heidelberg | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Music in the Operating Room

My music preference leans towards classical.
This past week as I was readied for surgery,
a nurse asked me where I sang. In my church
and with other local groups.

With the Syracuse Chorale and
the Berkshire Choral International
this August in the Prague castle.
As I inhaled the sedation through the mask,


the last thought I recall was about music.
Imagine my surprise when I awoke and
began to sing aloud! I couldn’t believe the
operation was done. But singing?

Nurses and doctors commented as I
continued singing in the operating room and
down the hall to post-op. No nerves to
interfere with my solo performance!

Never giving it one thought, I continued.
Singing while on my back has always
been easy. Whatever came to mind, came
out of me: Amazing Grace, Italian, Latin, German

and whatever I recalled singing the last two
years it seems. The brain intrigues me.
If I had planned the performance, it would
not have happened. Spontaneity.

No stress now that the operation was over,
I continued in between sips of water. Then
the anesthesiologist came by to listen. He
seemed particularly sensitive to music tool

Glancing at his phone, he sang a solo, a church hymn.
Asking to see the lyrics, I sang along with him.
We continued singing and conversing. He had a
beautiful voice. It seemed we were alone. Passing

hospital staff turned our way and smiled.
Who would have guessed that an operation could
be filled with music? How wonderful he
shared the moments with me.

Music connects people. It is its
own language. An international
language. The joy it brings is indescribable.
My Irish mother in heaven was with me

singing on her birthday. I am convinced
this happened because of her and my father
who gave us the gift of music as children
and nurtured it. Grateful!

Note:  Thank you to Sally Rose Dolak for some of the lovely photos from Costa Rica.

Posted in Berkshire Choral International in Prague, Costa Rican plants, music as international language, Musical MD in post-op, singing after surgery, spring flowers | Tagged , | 34 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day!

Both my mother and grandmother have birthdays
in May so thoughts turn to them. Mother’s Day
also falls in May so I daydreamed about past
shared times and phoned a friend on quick impulse.

She was under the weather so I dropped off
a book for her to read and meandered back
home via the local dairy and ice cream stand.
As a treat I purchased a cone for myself, small size.

My journey back home brought me to the
local florist where I decided I needed to
purchase single roses to bring to mothers
in the choir. We laugh as we exchange flowers.

Seems we all had the same idea. A man stood
ahead of me in line trying to decide as he caressed
the delicate potted white orchid. I asked aloud
if it was real or not. He wasn’t certain. It was.

Smiling at nothing in particular except the beauty
of spring about me, my heart beamed with joy.
Filled with contentment, I returned home hoping
mothers everywhere enjoy their special day.

Posted in a country drive, Happy Mother's Day, ice cream cone, May birthdays | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Call Times and Concerts

Martin Palmeri’s Misa A Buenos Aires Misatango
for Mezzo-Soprano, Mixed Choir, Bandoneon,
Piano and String Orchestra arrived months
ago. Purchased the score; highlighted my soprano parts.

Rehearsed hours daily with a few CDs until
the music was in my head. I had music dreams.
Weekly rehearsals with the Syracuse Chorale.
The behind-the-scenes preparations before concerts.

Last week a dress rehearsal with soloist and orchestra to
fine tune this premiere performance in Central NY.
Checklist of eyeglasses, water, music score, pencil.
Get rest – lots! Proper diet and practice daily!

We are finally ready for call time and concert
and our appreciative audience. It is our final
concert for the season with Syracuse Chorale.
Our music-making does not cease however.

Next up will be the Stabat Mater by Antonín Leopold Dvořák
in August at the Prague Castle with the Berkshire Choral
International. Meanwhile, our beloved Pastor entered
eternal rest this past week and the church choir

is tasked with a visitation and prayer service followed
by a funeral Mass. Also this weekend will be First
Communion services. The life of a musician and music
minister is varied and at times intense. Would we

change anything? No. Perhaps wish for better weather
and fewer performances. The life of a music minister at
church calls for commitment. Sometimes it is challenging
to balance the singing. Concert attire is all black.

Finally we are ready for the big day and performance.
Call time is one hour ahead to warm up and get
in place before the performance. Glamorous in black tuxedos,
dresses and shoes. Enter Director. Stand. Applause. Sing.


Posted in Antonin Dvořák, funeral for Pastor, Martin Palmeri, Premiere Performance of Misatango | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments