Monday, April 25, 2016

And Now For Some Music

I wrote this for a music anthology. Didn’t pass muster. Hmmm. Silly muster editors.

Skipping Backwards
By Susan Sundwall

In the evenings, after supper, my spouse and I go our separate ways. I go upstairs to my screen and he goes from whatever aggravating news show we had on during supper to Hee Haw reruns. It’s a happy arrangement, one replicated throughout the country, I’ll wager.

When the nostalgia bug bites, it usually signals for music and frequently I’ll listen to a few tunes before I wander over to Netflix. This night I craved something with a snappy Latin beat and there was one zipping around in my brain that I couldn’t remember the title of or the group that sings it. So I settled for some oldies. Oh, boy, here I go, skipping backwards.

Lenny Welch – Since I Fell for You. This throws me back to my lovelorn teen years when I imagined I was destined to love . . . oh, who? Tommy, Mark, Roger, Clarence. It wasn’t the guy, but the image of the guy that mattered. You know how romantic teenage girls are. Anyway, Lenny croons out this song with heartfelt emotion  in a crystal clear voice with enough of a catch in it to wrench the heart of every sixteen year old Juliet in the land. It leaves me sighing and that long ago, size ten, acne ridden girl in me is in love with love again.  

Harry Nilsson – Remember. I first heard this song in my favorite of all time romantic comedy, You’ve Got Mail. It’s playing while Meg Ryan is decorating her little book store for Christmas and imagining her long gone mother. There’s even a filmy scene in the background where her little girl self dances with her mom. You can’t think too hard about the lyrics while this one is playing. You’ll come up weeping. Harry gets it so right about what remembering is and the tears hover on the precipice and will ruin your mascara if you let your mind go there. It’s that powerful.  

Timi Yuro – Hurt. Man, could that woman belt out a song or what? For sheer drama in a relationship go find this one and listen to it. It’s one of those oldies where the singer stops in the middle and speaks a few lines to the egregious offender. You  wonder after he heard this song how he could stay away from her for long, the big dope. One imagines he comes speeding back with roses and a ring, but that’s the romantic teen in me speaking again. I also wonder how many current pop stars have taken a page from Timi’s song book and imitate her powerful delivery.

Roger Miller – King of the Road. Huh, that guy was a piece of work. And didn’t this song bring out the hobo longing in me? Sort of? The truth is I have a pathological fear of getting lost. Childhood incident not worth talking about. However, when I think of this song, I think of something else, too. What if I could just take off and not care where I laid my head that night? Not lost, just free. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Maybe it would actually be awesome. Roger and I could even meet up for coffee say - somewhere in Bangor, Maine. Yeah. That’s how this song makes me feel, like I could really overcome a great fear.

And that’s what a good piece of music does. Makes you feel. There were  many others I listened to and then the nostalgia wave passed like last night’s burrito and I went on over to finish up the final episode of my current view on Netflix. But skipping backwards is a worthy exercise and if you can keep from feeling like some kind of Stone Age cartoon character for doing so, I have to tell you, it’s good for the soul. Yes, it is.

Image: Free Digital Photos

Monday, April 18, 2016

That Time Again - First Spring Walk!

Wow, the weather outside has gone from frightful to delightful in just a few weeks so when hubby walked into the living room, lifted an eyebrow and tossed his head towards the door, I knew what that meant. Our first of the year after dinner walk – to Lindenwald.

I’ve gone over this before, but in case you don’t know, Lindenwald is the former home of our eighth president, Martin Van Buren (nicknamed The Red Fox of Kinderhook – a little inside info for you). We live only a few miles from there and across the road from his estate trails through the woods beckon. One of our very favorite spots.

This evening we also had our grand dog, Casey, in our care. She’s only three and full of spunk, sass and energy. Good grief – lots of that. When you ask her if she’d like to go for a ride she’s all about it. But she had no clue where we were going and was in for a treat. Every dog we’ve walked there has loved it.

Dogs are just the best, aren’t they? So willing to love you and aid and abet you’re every whim and fancy. When we’d secured our walking sticks from the trunk hubby opened the car door and out Casey flew. Wow! What was this? A whole new world full of awesome smells and crunchy twigs, leaves and holes in tree trunks. Here we go!

And here – in my mind – is where we walk into a timeless zone. Hubby calls it a high climax forest. That is, very little in the way of underbrush and towering (and decaying) trees. Sauntering along you can almost imagine smoke from long ago camp fires, horses hooves on the wooden bridge over the gurgling creek below, and deer watching you with studied calm. The further in we move the less we can hear of the outside world.

And while I’m waxing all romantic about earlier times, Casey is bounding along in joy like only a young dog can. Soaring ahead of us, but only so far. Dashing in wide circles in the woods, but casting an eye backwards to make sure we’re keeping up. Plunging her nose into leaf piles and coming up with a sneeze and a head shake only to plunge in again. With other dogs we’ve ducked behind trees to see if they’d turn back to find us, but we’re getting to old for that. Besides, you can’t do to a grand child – er, dog – what you did to your own dogs. Right?

As we came to a turn in the path I saw this just ahead. Someone, maybe Daniel Boone, needed a lean-to for the evening. Pretty cool, huh?

Our walking sticks helped us plow up the next rise and kept us from tumbling as the rise fell on the other side going for the foot bridge. Casey, of course, investigated the trickling stream below and I tried to take a snap of a small eddy at the edge. See it there? 

As we gained the end of our trek, we noticed doggy was draggin’ her wagon a bit. Great romps of delight can’t last forever and a happy exhaustion sets in. She was making double sure by now that she was close to us and soon traffic sounds could be heard again.

“Casey!” Hubby starts the call and she slows a bit more. The parking lot is close by and that other world we inhabit calls to us. We all hopped back into the car, happy and tired. The first walk of spring. Awesome. I hope you have a special place like this – and visit it often. Maybe you even  have a dog to aid and abet you. Happy walking!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Doppelganger Anyone?

Isn’t that a weird word? I heard it in my kitchen yesterday as my daughter-in-law, Kate, related an elevator story. Seems she and our granddaughter, Anna, were in an elevator with another mom and daughter. The other mom said to Anna, “You look just like a girl on our dance team. A dead ringer for her.” The thing is Anna was the girl on the dance team, but unlike her teammate, Anna was out of her costume and that threw the mom off. By the time the door opened it was all straightened out. We chuckled at the incident and that’s when the word came up. Doppelganger . It means a person (or ghost) who looks like someone else. According to German folklore we all have one – or two in my case*. In Anna’s case she was briefly her own doppelganger.

We once used the services of  a “rug guy” to clean and replace floor mats in the small building we rented for our computer business. One day he stopped to chat and he asked me a question. “Do you know who you remind me of?” And I did. Because he’s not the first person to tell me I’m an exact copy of – wait for it – Mary Tyler Moore. I almost said to him, “Yeah, me and Mr. Grant - tight.” But just in case it wasn’t Ms. Moore he was thinking of, I smiled and arched an eyebrow. Guess what he said? Okay, don’t guess, but he said “Mary Tyler Moore.”  At least she’s not a ghost – yet.

Image result for mary tyler moore

Are you old enough to remember the television comedy “Hazel” back in the 60’s? It was based on a popular cartoon character of the day and starred Shirley Booth. Her doppelganger was my late mother-in-law who was slightly insulted by the comparison. When she told me the story she said she’d been hoping the person who was making that comparison had a glamorous movie star in mind. Like maybe, Maureen O’Hara or Cloris Leachman. But nope, Ms. Booth it was. I always thought she was a great actress, but not glamorous. Each has their charms, no?

Image result for shirley booth hazel

We have a friend who was recently mistaken for my husbands twin. The man’s granddaughter (whose name happens to be Hazel) sat at dinner with us and her head swiveled between the two of them, the question whizzing past her eyeballs – you could see it. She leaned in to whisper to her grandmother, “Grandma, does grandpa have a doppelganger?” Ha! She didn’t really say that. She used the word “twin”.  But to her, at seven, two bald guys with glasses, mustaches and flannel shirts simply must be related somehow. Dan and Donny Doppelganger. 

I love great words. I feel all superior in polite company when I can use them. Next time I’ll go into depth about the word "gravitas" or maybe Pecksniffian. Wait, how about dichotomy? Now there's a word.  

Anyway, until then, I wanna know, who’s your doppelganger?

*PS: My other one is Janet Lennon of Lennon Sisters fame. Imagine that. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

If You Give a Girl a Cross Stitch . . .

 Last fall a friend came be-bopping through the church door carrying a hefty bag full of something and plopped it on a nearby table in the narthex. It turned some heads. Gosh, what could this be? A few of us gathered as she pulled piece after piece after piece of cross stitch samplers from the bag. 

“These are from Jane,” friend said. “She was going to burn them, but thought maybe some of us would have a use for them and give a small donation to the church.”

Over the course of twenty years or so Jane’s father-in-law had sat patiently and created lovely works of art with needle and thread. Burn them? Heaven forbid! You should have seen these things. There were at least fifty and guess who leaned in and got her hands into them? No dummy here. It was so hard not to be greedy but I only took four and forked over my donation.  

So, yesterday, I finally got around to framing one of them. I know, I know. it’s April already but– there were the holidays, grand kids, shopping and baking to attend to. Yup, it took a little while to get to them.

When I found an old frame in the attic, I had to scrub it up. Then I had to scrounge around for a suitable piece of backing. Found that and cut it to size then fitted my first piece carefully inside the frame. It looked awesome. That’s a picture of it up there.

When I decided to hang it over the fireplace in the kitchen I had to find a spot to relocate the rooster picture I’d had there. Casting my eye around the room I spotted the plate rail running along the top of the wall. Well, there ya go, an excellent place for Mr. Rooster.

While fussing to make room for rooster some really aggressive cobwebs reached out for a hug so I beat them back and ran for a wet cloth. To get into the open space in a far corner I had to move a chair which disturbed all the dust bunnies and splashes of Capri Sun (grandmas know what I mean) on the chair rungs. Yuck! Then, when I got down to wipe those off, I could see that the bunnies had been breeding like little sex maniacs all winter covering the baseboards with their loathsome offspring. And just above the baseboards some drips and spills from delightful meals of yore called to me. They were showing off all up and down the dark tongue and groove paneling. Grrr. They didn't have long to live. I have to tell you, these disgusting discoveries were getting to be a real drag. 

But, an hour or so later I had everything spiffed up and that’s when I realized . . .

By June (or maybe Christmas) the house should be pretty darn clean. I have three more cross stitch samplers to frame and hang. I'm giving fair warning right now to the dust bunnies to pack up and get outta Dodge. And I’ll let the rest of you know when to pop over for the white glove test.

How’s your spring cleaning going?

Here are my other pieces.