Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas!

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

Twelve drummers drumming . . .

The Tenth and Eleventh Days

Ten little men a-leaping, just try to catch them.
And, eleven assorted pipes piping around the Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Eighth and Ninth Days

Eight buttermaids done with milking.
And, nine butterladies dancing.

The Sixth and Seventh Days

Six Glowlights glowing . . . at Curious World.

And, seven swans in the delicatessen.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Fourth and Fifth Days

Four "calling birds," originally four "colly" birds, or blackbirds. They must've been baked into the pie.
And, five tasty, golden, cranberry and walnut rings.

The Second and Third Days

Two "turtledoves" showed up at school.

And, three French hens were seen playing in the students' watercolors.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

On the First Day of Christmas

Unexpectedly today, while outside checking the icy rain, I saw a turkey fly about 13-14' high, into what I think is a cottonwood tree. The plump bird remained nicely poised there, balancing with its huge tail slightly wavering up and down. Amused and puzzled, I looked up its scientific name and found this:

"The Phasianidae is a family of birds which consists of the pheasants and partridges . . .; the American Ornithologists' Union includes Tetraonidae (the grouse), Numididae (guineafowls), and Meleagrididae (turkeys) in Phasianidae as subfamilies."

and this:

" . . . grouse and turkeys do not warrant separation as families due to their quite recent origin from partridge- or pheasant-like birds."

Partridge-like bird?

Hmm. Could that be a pear tree? I looked it up and found this:

"Pyrus calleryana . . . or Ornamental Pear, this tree is one of the most frequently planted around cities. This is largely because of its uniform shape, early bloom and colorful fall foliage. The leaves are thick and glossy and very similar to Cottonwood leaves."

Pear-like tree?

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Sounds

"Oh Happy Day" on the Thina Simunye album, by The Children of Agape, a wonderfully harmonized arrangement by Zwai Bala:

And, more . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Sittin' on a Rainbow . . . Hearts Dancin' in Our Eyes"

Thanks to Luke Strauss for reminding me how John Prine's real, good, sweet music reaches way down deep. A few years ago, after hearing just the chorus of one of his songs, I bought the CD--and some for my friends. My favorite is the one with Iris Dement, singing "In Spite of Ourselves."

Rainbows over Tomah, Wisconsin, home of longtime artist friend Marita Root, 90, who titled her memoir, The First Ninety Years. A beloved school teacher, missionary to Africa, art director for Scripture Press and David C. Cook publishers, and still painting commissioned works, she's funny, wise, full of spunk, and active at Fairview Village near Chicago. She dearly loves her Chicago teams, the Cubs and Da Bears.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

My HS Life--Spirit in the Sky

I thought you'd be interested in these moving, homemade slideshows and pictures. Especially the music. I wrote letters to these guys when I was in high school.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Oh Happy Day

You might have seen it a long time ago, but, it's just so sweet.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sunday, July 26, 2009

And the Forests Will Echo With Laughter

In my little habit of choosing a song for the year, I never really know when it will happen, but, this particular version of the Led Zeppelin classic--lyrics adapted by Dolly, but very close to the original--is the one for 2009. There was no video, so here’s part of my favorite prayer, by P. D. Brewer, to accompany the song. (Link @ R)

“There are days, living God, when I can see it--feel it--sense it all around me--within me.
This is your world, and it is not aimless. Time has a purpose, and you are its steward.
Loving God, I believe, scatter my unbelief.

It is not possible that greed and injustice are forever.
It is not possible that the meek will stay dispossessed.
It is not possible that peacemakers must inevitably fail.
It is not possible that nations will always make war.
It is not possible that the merciful will always be scorned.
It is not possible that forgiveness will at last dry up.
It is not possible that the weak are doomed to be downtrodden.
It is not possible that the hungry will always go unsatisfied.
It is not possible that sincere hearts will always be exploited.
It is not possible that laughter shall finally be stilled.
It is not possible that fear will always outwit love.
It is not possible that the cynics will always be right.
It is not possible that goodness will have flowered in vain.
It is not possible that death will render all things futile.
It is not possible that Jesus will ever be forgotten.
It is not possible that faith will die out on earth.

Loving God, I believe, scatter my unbelief.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Sky and Blue with White Sails

From a music stage atop the Hancock Building in Chicago.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sky Blue Sky

Wilco's new album was released today--Wilco (the album). Mm-mmmagnetized to this mixture of sounds evoking sweet music gold ago--a touch of Submarine (Beatles), Holland (Beach Boys), Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton, plus some great juxtapositioning of instrumentation overall. Hear favorites on a previous album, Sky Blue Sky, until the current samples are up, in the meantime. Mm-mm--just sooo cooool.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Sparrow

Thank you, thank you, Evelyn Lewandowski wherever you are, for your signature zwish, zwish steps to the platform, your shoulders back, wide smile, belting it out:

"His Eye Is On the Sparrow"

And Adam's lighting, the gladiola corsages, the glumpkies. Thank you forever.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

No More Silencing Roger Lucey

"This summer, there's to be a grand concert in New York, celebrating the 91st birthday of Nelson Mandela. His release from prison almost 20 years ago was seen as the real beginning of the end to South Africa's apartheid policies.Twenty years ago, Roger Lucey was a young musician who used his music to confront apartheid. But just as Roger's career was taking off, a young South African security officer was assigned to ruin him."

This story is more amazing not just because of Roger's vindication after surviving years of devious censorship, but because these two men formed an unlikely friendship. The true forgiveness and acceptance of Roger and his nemesis, Paul Erasmus, gives so much hope for the reconciliation of individuals as well as society. It is stirring to hear Roger's kind words--he has this sweetness about him, plus, his music is good. In the NPR interview, Paul said that he'd actually become a "secret fan" of Roger's early on. Rock on, Roger!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Viva la Vida Vitamin

PS22 Chorus VIVA LA VIDA by Coldplay acoustic guitar version

"The PS22 Chorus of 2009 has some fun with Coldplay's Grammy nominated song Viva La Vida, the amazing new hit single from the album of the same name . . . I love watching them sing this one, and it has kind of a different sound and feel on the guitar than the previously posted piano and acapella versions, so I thought it merited YouTubeage . . . :) April sings the solo and sounds better than ever on this one.The PS22 Chorus consists of about 60 fifth graders and have sung with Tori Amos, Crowded House, among many others. Visit our above website to find out more about these amazing New York City public school kids."

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Unexpected Gifts

On an evening walk passing spring woods and a pond, everyone in the presence of God's little, growing tree- and water-dwellers was serenaded into the sunset whether they liked it or not. I noticed that the frog voices have gotten lower (already!) and that the ducks' muffled staccato quacks must have been tucking somebody in.

Then, for a brief incredible half-minute, the unmistakeable harmony of perfect human voices seemed to rise out over the water. Squinting to hear better--am I dreaming I thought, because it abruptly stopped before I could see anything. Well, there were a few stars in the early dark. But, there it really was again. Faintly first some orchestral music and then those beautiful voices, singing, rapping, clapping joy. Then lots of laughter and repeated happy singing. I can still hear it on the breeze through my open window. I think they're practicing for tomorrow's audience, but at least one heart has been lifted tonight. Whether they knew it or not. So neat.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables

Susan Boyle sings her heart out to an amazed audience and astonished judges. Oh!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Love Has a Way of Finding You

Owen and Mzee's Music Video--music written and performed by Eric Wainaina

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Go State! & Dr. Jon!

Yaaay MSU, and Happy Birthday to someone who puts a bounce in everyone's steps!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Talent Show Possibility

Group 1 Crew : "Forgive Me" (Go to link, R-Click on video and select full screen),,4402913,00.html

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

The Show Must Go On

We just found out that our school is closing and our educational program (Kentwood Public Schools) must be moved out of this secure, residential facility by June 5. Where will we go? Where will all the stuff go? Most of the furniture is shabby, having been handed down from school to school over the years, until we found ourselves vying for plastic chairs of assorted colors. Those kinds of things will probably be trashed.

I'd like to give away most of my things, rather than pack/store them this time around (we moved into this building only three months ago). If you think I might have something you'd like, please feel free to let me know! I'm giving away bookcases, books, fabric, and tools and materials for science experiments. There's a box of fish tank items, too. I used to have seven fish tanks, along with three guinea pig habitats, two terrariums, and an incubator that hatched both chicken and duck eggs. Teaching Reproductive Health was never easier!

While all is quite unsettled, kids are still singing in the halls, still getting ready for the talent show at the end of the school year. It's so heartwarming.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Heartland Missionaries

A month of Sunday special go-to-meetin’s has nothing on their little fingers wrapped around a microphone, deep breaths and lip licks magnified, eyes glistening, ready now . . . to sing for the world. They send their message out to dark corners everywhere, hopes of forgiveness, changing a mind, kindness, and joy, joy, joy.

The Nelson Brothers, 10 and 11 years old, wearing unmatched suits pressed so shiny flat, could not have sat before going out on stage. One has shoes, the other fresh, white socks on sweet blessed feet bringing Good News. “Weeping may endure for a night . . . “ Their brightly smiled serious lyrics with earnest brows and moves tell on them. They know weeping. They know hope, amazing joy. Our lapels and laps freely accept our tears.

A small denim and plaid cowgirl, with boots she whispers aren’t real leather, fixes her flashing dark eyes on a spot beyond us, her confidence reflecting off the back wall of mirrors to include even those standing in the aisles, and sings right through the spot. We collectively pause, and then, oh yes, clap wildly.

Five barefooted Indian girls with peach and pomegranate flowing silks and enchanting Indian voices press their palms to the sky. We watch spellbound at the possibility that they are really royal princesses having arrived moments ago on a magic carpet from heaven.

One after another, each performance leads us to a better place than that which we have briefly left. Our hearts well up with gratitude. We, of all shapes and sizes, nod warmly at each other in the semi-darkness. We share gladness for being alive.

The five-dollar ticket/ballot is to determine the Most Enjoyed Talent (MET Award) and help continue the Talent Showcase for 9 to 12 year-olds. We are to circle only two performances. Oh, wish they could all win the $100 prize.

“They deserved to win,” says the cowgirl, politely waving over to the well-rehearsed Indian girl group. “And, the boy who sang ‘Forgive’ just about made us faint backstage.” He came in second. I happily hold Savannah’s cowgirl music CD as she says goodbye to her friends and goes to get her t-shirt.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Still Amazing

When my father would take my brothers and me to do Saturday errands we'd stop at Alexander Hornung's, and sometimes the nice man behind the tall glass case of meat would tear us each one off the casing string of frankfurters. Sometimes, a lady would give us a small ladybug or strawberry of marzipan. We'd go to Montgomery Ward and look at tools. My father was learning English from some truck drivers. They called it Monkey Wards. We'd go to the bank and to the post office. But, by far our favorite was the Red Shield store.

He'd give us each a nickel and we'd see who could find the best toy for the money. While he shopped for who knew what, we'd make our way over to the long wall of tables, covered with a grid of shallow wooden drawers heaping in small metal and plastic items. The colors and the sheer mass of them must have been what was so attractive, because the 5-cent toys were usually chipped, slightly broken, or even missing parts. I liked the greenish-blue, metal, clicking cricket. My brothers seemed to like any sort of vehicle, and they could figure out a way to fix it. That challenge was really the fun thing. They did this all the way through their teens with real cars.

It was always the Red Shield store. We'd be singing in the car on our way there. You never knew what treasure you could find. Only when I was much older did I realize when I saw the shield on a sign, that this wonderful store of my childhood and the Salvation Army store were one and the same. I've always liked the shield.

Here's a great ad: Army/Amazing Grace video

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vimeo Vitamin

Betcha can't have just one. Ahh . . . oo

Monday, February 23, 2009


"Bet your bottom dollar there'll be sun . . . " Little Orphan Annie

"Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Bluebirds singin' a song
Nothin' but bluebirds all day long
Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly
Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
Blue skies smilin' at me
Nothin' but blue skies do I see
Never saw the sun shinin' so bright
Never saw things goin' so right
Noticing the days hurrying by
When you're in love, my how they fly
Blue days, all of them gone
Nothin' but blue skies from now on
Nothin' but blue skies from now on" Irving Berlin, sung by Willie Nelson

"Here comes the sun . . . here comes the sun, it's all right" The Beatles

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Sea Sew

A new album by Lisa Hannigan. Wearing a simple Irish dress she plays a music box, smiling and swaying and tapping her feet, singing, smiling the song, "I Don't Know." Love the band. Her sewing and art is wonderful, too--the music video of her with her pop-up books--so creative and fun.

She'll be in town soon: Feb 28 2009, 9:00P, Martyrs’ w/ Low Anthem, Chicago, Illinois

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Love and Affection

Here's something wonderful I had occasion to hear after working into the wee hours several nights in a row. I loved it years ago when it first was released. There have been a number of covers by well-known singers, but the artist sings it best.
"Born on the island of St. Kitts, British singer/songwriter Joan Armatrading was her country's first black woman to make commercial inroads into her chosen genre, spicing her take on folk with bits of soul and reggae."
She's still performing. Thought you might like it . . .

Joan Armatrading, Love and Affection (best version that I found)

Joan Armatrading, Love and Affection (another early version)

Have a great day!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Song of the Year Story

What happened was, thinking over favorites for the profile, I realized that my habit of choosing a "Song of the Year" for every year went back to elementary school . . . a lot of songs . . . eclectically too many. It might be fun to do a bio using your favs of the years and the story behind each choice. At 13, mine was Sergei Rachmaninov's "Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor," at 16, the 8th century Irish "Be Thou My Vision," at 18, "Three Gymnopedies," by Erik Satie, and so on. After hearing "The Blind Boys of Alabama" singing Prince's "The Cross," with its passionate lyrics and sound, well, that just had to be the one for the year 2004. "My Evergreen" by the Squirrel Nut Zippers topped 2005. Feeling all this great music made me want to share it. (See sidebar-->)

"The Cross" is in my "Top Ten of all Time." The Blind Boys introduced me to it, though. I saw them at Calvin College, the wiry lead singer in his 80s, holding notes way past breathing with his head thrown sideways and back, dancing, hugging, up and down the auditorium aisles--a bonefide rocker. He hugged me, too.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Front row,
Always and hundred years ago.
Savory memory,
Delicious day,
Sweet anticipation.

Le Violiniste Bleu, Chagall