Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Life by the numbers

The idea: use the numbers 0-10, consecutively, to describe your life. If you read this -- tag, you're it!! Have fun.
  • 0: Times I have voted for a Democrat.
  • 1: Number of times Jeff Gordon tried to run over me in the garage area at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • 2: Times I've been west of the Mississippi.
  • 3: Schools I've taught at in the past 4 years.
  • 4: Other countries I have been to (Canada, Switzerland, Israel, Egypt)
  • 5: Number of decorative things on the outside of my car: a Minnie Mouse antenna topper; "Cheerwine Fanatic" front tag; WDW "Been there, done that, going back" tag frame; Harbor Docks sticker; our WDW family stickers.
  • 6: Number of different schools I attended from grades 1-12.
  • 7: Mascaras in my makeup box right now
  • 8: Minumum number of hours for me to sleep in order to appear human the next day
  • 9: How old my baby girl will be in four days
  • 10: Truly random songs from my iPod: "When She Loved Me" (Sonya Isaacs, from the CD O Mickey, Where Art Thou); "Arise, My Love" (New Song); "S'Wonderful" (Diana Krall); "Have You Never Been Mellow" (Olivia Newton-John); "If I Fell" (The Beatles); "Yo, Ho, Yo Ho, A Pirate's Life for Me" (Pirates of the Caribbean); "Against the Wind" (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band); "Those Shoes" (The Eagles); "Waiting for You" (The Bangles); "It's the Same Old Song" (The Four Tops).

And, while I'm at it, check out this recipe for Cheerwine Cake!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hooked on...

No, not PHONICS (and, why isn't it spelled "fonix?" hmm.....). Those of us who are fortunate enough to be children of the 80s (YEAH!) might remember the "Hooked On..." song medleys. Hooked on Classics, Hooked on the Beatles. Were there others? I only remember those two. It's just that music has been on my mind a lot lately, specifically music from the late 70s and the 80s. Such formative years for me (yeah, showing my age, er, um, wisdom). Music is a big part of growing up for most of us; doesn't EVERYTHING revolve around the radio when you're a teenager? I mean, I slept with the radio on all night. But when something happens to make you feel young again, at least at heart, it brings back moments and music in floods. My obsession for the moment (at least in my mind, because I don't have it to play in any form) is Hooked on The Beatles. I only remember three songs that were in that: Do You Want to Know a Secret; You Can Drive My Car; You're Gonna Lose That Girl. Good stuff. Great stuff.

You never know how much I really love you
You'll never know how much I really care

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo

I've known a secret for a week or two
Nobody know just we two

Listen, do you want to know a secret
Do you promise not to tell, woh, woh, woh
Closer, let me whisper in your ear
Say the words you long to hear
I'm in love with you, oo, oo

Hey, if you have your own memories of "Hooked On..." something...please share!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chansons D'amour, Part Deux

OK, I have a few additions to my favorite love songs. The first one, I'll admit - it pains me to credit the artist, but it's a beautiful song. (I'll compensate by spelling her name incorrectly, so there! pbbttt)
  • Woman in Love (Barbara Streisand)
  • Can't Help Falling in Love (The King)
  • The Good Stuff (Kenny Chesney)
  • Love, Look What You've Done to Me (Boz Scaggs)
  • Main Street (Bob Seger)
  • If I Fell (The Beatles)

A couple of random additions: One song that I can listen to for hours on end is Brandy by Looking Glass.

I love to get a good hair band groove going on: Paradise City (Guns 'n Roses); Is This Love (Whitesnake); Pink (Aerosmith; yes, it has stupid lyrics, but I find it compelling); Heaven (Warrant);

My all-time very favorite song is What a Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong. If you haven't seen this video of Raymond Crowe doing shadow puppets to this beautiful song, you owe it to yourself to take a look.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Um, yeah

As far as romantic, my choice would probably be this scene and song from "Enchanted." It's beautiful on its own, but I think you appreciate it much more having seen the whole movie. The true impact of it is revealed in the context of the movie.

I'll have to do some thinking on my other contenders for most romantic. Little River Band is a good place to start!

Update: my latest choices for most love-filled/romantic songs (because you can't have just one). No, it's no coincidence that these are from the 70s and 80s. Where ARE the good love songs anymore?

  • Reminiscing (Little River Band)
  • Dance with Me (Orleans)
  • Lady (Kenny Rogers)
  • You Are So Beautiful (Joe Cocker)
  • At Last (Etta James)
  • The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (Roberta Flack version)
  • Your Song (Elton John)
  • Baby, Come to Me (James Ingram/Patti Austin)
  • Almost anything by The Commodores
  • Always and Forever (Luther Vandross)
  • El Paso (Marty Robbins)
  • Lost without Your Love and Baby I'm-a Want You (Bread)
  • Everything I Own and The Goodbye Girl (David Gates)
  • Annie's Song (John Denver)
  • Just Remember I Love You (Firefall)
  • I Will Always Love You (Dolly Parton)
  • If Ever I See You Again (Roberta Flack)
  • Ronnie Milsap (pick one!)
  • Here, There, and Everywhere; Something (The Beatles)
  • When A Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge)
  • I Honestly Love You (Olivia Newton-John)

What would you add?;

Monday, October 13, 2008

How Sweet It Is

Just got a little James Taylor on the mind. I left Carolina, but Carolina didn't leave me, as I've been goin' to Carolina in my mind today. I was thinking again about MY mountains...I can't help but think of them that way.

I love the way the sun dapples through autumn leaves onto the carpeted forest floor. I have always especially loved the mountains at higher elevations where the hardwoods, though varied and beautiful, give way to the evergreens -- firs, cedars, balsams. And underfoot in those damp, dense thickets are inevitably acres of lush fiddlehead ferns. The presence of a few mushrooms makes the perfect setting for a young girl's imagination to run rife with fanciful tales of fairies and gnomes. Those woods have their own fragrance -- that of the evergreens, for certain, but mingled with that is a sweet, damp, muskiness that is found nowhere else. I inhale it deeply and it purifies my spirit. It is the fragrance of new and old, birth and decay, green and brown all in one.

Maybe my fondness for such magical and mysterious environs was the underlying reason that I always so loved "Kubla Khan" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. In high school and college, I wrote many a paper on this dramatic vision. Alas, none of them survive to this day. No matter; my own words would necessarily pale in comparison to Coleridge's. I still thrill to imagine beholding such a scene; would that Coleridge's fantastic dream could be my own.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
a stately pleasure-dome decree,
where Alph, the sacred river, ran
through caverns measureless to man
down to a sunless sea,
so twice five miles of fertile ground
with walls and towers were girdled round.
and there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
where blossom'd many an incense-bearing tree.
And here were forests as ancient as the hills,
enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But O! That deep romantic chasm which slanted,
down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover.
A savage place! As holy and enchanted
as e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
by woman wailing for her demon lover.
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
as if this Earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
a mighty fountain momently was forced,
amid whose swift half-intermitted burst,
huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail,
and 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever,
it flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion,
through wood and dale the sacred river ran.
Then reach'd the caverns measureless to man,
and sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean.
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from afar
ancestral voices prophesying war!

The shadow of the dome of pleasure
floated midway on the waves
Where was heard the mingled measure
from the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device
a sunny pleasure dome with caves of ice.
A damsel with a dulcimer
in a vision once I saw.
It was an Abyssinian maid,
and on her dulcimer she played,
singing of mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
her symphony and song.
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
that with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air!
That sunny dome! Those caves of ice!
and all who heard should see them there!
and all should cry, Beware! Beware!
his flashing eyes! his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
and close your eyes with holy dread!
for he on honey-dew hath fed,
and drunk the milk of Paradise.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Finally...fresh mountain air

Yes, thank you Lord, for giving me another day on Your earth so I could make it to the mountains. Took a little day trip up SC Scenic Hwy. 11 and then turned up 178 north to Rocky Bottom, where I lived for a couple of years in junior high. I tell can take the girl out of the mountains but you can't take the mountains out of the girl. It is as beautiful as it was. Our homeplace looked a little neater when we lived there; my dad took great care to keep the wilds from encroaching too much into the yard, but we lived there year-round, and apparently the people who own it now just have it as a part-time retreat. The hickory nuts had fallen in full force, and I walked along the road and gathered them in my sweater like Hansel and Gretel gathering bread crumbs. I'm sure the banged fingers I will have when I try to pry into those things will bring back some memories! Squirrels get into them much more easily than I do, and they don't even have to use a hammer. Drove up to the top of Sassafrass Mountain, the highest peak in SC at just under 3600 feet. There used to be a fire tower there that we would climb to look out over four states, but that was taken down 4 years ago, I am told by a friend. Stood at the top and looked out as best as I could, standing on a rock, but the trees at the top obscure the view. was beautiful, tranquil, fresh, and satisfying. Had a few nibbles of sassafras leaves; that bitter, lemony taste is quite refreshing.

Now that I'm back home, I wish I could recapture the feelings of being there. Thinking about it in retrospect and living it at the moment are not the same. When I drive a bit north of Atlanta and get even a glimpse of the tips of the mountains just out of my reach, my breath catches involuntarily. There is something deep within my DNA, something primal, that resonates in perfect pitch when I am in the mountains. I spent much of my youth in the Appalachians, Great Smokies and Blue Ridge Mountains backpacking and camping with my mother and father. For my 10th birthday, they got me a charm bracelet with a charm for each of the mountains I had climbed to the top: Mt. LeConte, Clingman's Dome, Andrew's Bald, Devil's Courthouse, and several others. I loved hiking to the "bald" mountains. These are mountaintop areas that had forestation destroyed (usually by fire) at some point, but are maintained clear of trees by the forest service. Low-level shrubbery abounds here, so in the late spring and early summer these usually rocky, meadow-like grassy areas are ablaze in a thousand colors of azalea, rhododendron, mountain laurel, and other flowering beauties including trillium and lady's slippers. My father was a master at telling the temperature by how curled up the rhododendron leaves were. It is breathtaking to hike for a couple of hours through forests of firs and balsams and emerge into a clearing at the top of a mountain and look over hundreds of miles of carpeted valleys and hills all around. Of course, when it comes to pitching a tent for the night, you head back down into the cover of the trees; the winds can be fierce at the top of those mountains if there's nothing to break it.

I did not grow up in a church building, but I grew up steeped in and praising God's creation. I saw all manner of wildlife, flowers, insects, and birds and observed the way they lived and interacted. I learned the names of all the trees. My parents invested in a few small field guides that would fit into my day pack, so I spent a lot of time with a book in one hand and a plant or insect in the other. I loved when our hike led us alongside a river. I could play for hours in the edge of the water, marveling at the perfectly smoothed surface of rocks and pebbles, wondering where they began their journey and how long they had lain in the cold water alongside trout and crayfish. My daughter, bless her sweet little heart, is a rock hound like her mom. She loves rocks of all sorts, and I have to fish them out of her pockets on laundry day as if she were a little boy.

I had forgotten what challenges I faced and overcame during those hiking trips. Crossing roaring rapids on trees that had fallen, or been felled, across the river -- scary!! Some places the trail was very narrow and the mountainside below was very steep and treacherous; I remember balking sometimes, thinking I couldn't make it. But my dad always said I could do it, and I always did. When he had to help me, he grasped my wrist and told me to grab his wrist; we had a much more secure grip on one another that way than by simply holding hands.

And, even today...while my earthly father believes in me, I know my Heavenly Father believes in me so much more and holds onto me more tightly through the tough spots. As I lean into Him and trust Him when He says, "Hold on and follow Me," I know the view at the top will be spectacular.

"My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth." -- Psalm 121:2

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Autumn in the air

  • So many people think spring is the season of love. For me, it is autumn. It's the perfect time to be with someone special.
  • I dug out a James Ingram today before I hit the road for some errands. Good, good stuff. Soul touching. Amazing what music can bring out in you.
  • Speaking of music, I came home with new Keith Urban and Allison Krauss CDs today. Can't wait to pop the plastic on those, but I promised myself Carole King while I clean house.
  • For what it's worth, I feel like my soul will suffocate if I don't see mountains NOW. Maybe I can wait until tomorrow. But the mountains -- that's where my spirit sings and the depths of my being are touched like no other. How did I end up living two hours away from my heartland?