If I Could Teach the World to Sing…

Wow! Sometimes I love the internet and sharing things with people around the world. I shared some of my Ireland pictures on my jigsaw puzzle app and got best picture 2 weeks in a row. I didn’t even realize it until later. Then today I suddenly realized I had 247 comments on the same puzzle in at least a dozen different languages!! I’m just blown away by that! I knew I loved the picture, but that so many others liked it too is really cool. (I’m so easily impressed, aren’t I?) This is the photo that has garnered so much interest.

  
In other news, I found out yesterday that I’m in the top 15% of read reviewers (8992 people) on Trip Advisor because of the places I reviewed while on our Ireland/Spain/England/France trip two years ago.   

My point is, sometimes we get frustrated by how burdensome the internet can be and by how we seem, in some ways, to be more disconnected from people. For the first 30+ years of my life, though, I would only have connected with people I met personally or maybe a pen pal in another country through school or something. Now, we live in truly a more connected world. More people are traveling abroad. There are international online communities for nearly every subject or interest known to humankind, news is known almost instantly, and we make friends with people we’ve never met in person. Lastly, through something as trivial as a photo for a jigsaw puzzle, we can bring enjoyment to people we’ve never met and who don’t even share a common language with us. 

I’m feeling more connected to the world at large in a positive way tonight than I ever have before.  When I was a little girl, I think in the late 1960’s or 1970’s, there was a Coca-Cola commercial that came out on television where people from all over the world were holding hands and singing, 

“I’d like to build the world a home
And furnish it with love
Grow apple trees and honey bees
And snow white turtle doves

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony
I’d like to hold it in my arms
And keep it company
I’d like to see the world for once
All standing hand in hand
And hear them echo through the hills

For peace through out the land
(That’s the song I hear)

I’d like to teach the world to sing
In perfect harmony…”

That’s the way I feel tonight.  Yes, I’m a peace, hope, and love gal all the way to the bone. I feel closer to that ideal than I have in a long, long time. 

D. Elaine Wood-Lane

5/24/17

Advertisements

The Beauty of a Clock

A friend of mine on Facebook today mentioned an analog clock he and his wife have in a bathroom in their home. He mentioned how he could read it from the shower via a mirror.  My mind, as usual, went down a rabbit hole and suddenly I remembered hearing recently that many children and adults could no longer read an analog clock. At the time I thought that had to be wrong and hoped it was true. (I had also heard that children are no longer being taught cursive writing in school. Unfortunately, I have learned that that rumor is true. Breaks my heart, but that’s another subject.)

My husband and I have many clocks in our house, but the dearest, most valuable one to me is an analog battery clock set in a wooden frame that I bought for my dad many years ago at a pharmacy. His vision was rapidly declining due to macular degeneration and he could no longer read his watch. One day while waiting for a prescription refill, I saw a clock for sale for about $10 I think and immediately thought it would be perfect for Daddy. It even had the hands that glow in the dark at night, which would be perfect for Daddy when he awoke at 4:00 in the morning and got up to sit in the living room until Mother woke up. Of course, I bought the clock and I think it was Daddy’s Father’s Day gift that year. That same clock now sits on my bathroom shelf and I look at it many times during the course of an average day. Every time I look at it, I think of my dad fondly. He didn’t use it for years and years, but the time he did use it was precious to me.

I think the true usefulness and beauty of a clock is not in whether it is analog, digital or sand or even in the time it tells, but in the time that it keeps. Daddy’s clock, to me, will always represent the time I kept with my father in his last years and how special that time was to me. 

I have a grandson now, Milo, who is two years old. He has excellent parents who will, I have no doubt, teach him how to read an analog clock. Someday I will share with Milo the story of my little bathroom clock and how precious it is and someday further in the future, I will leave it to him so he can remember how his Grandmama Dee used that clock to keep time with her father and then used it to keep time with him, her beloved grandchil

Talking to the Animals

Walk with the animals, talk with the animals… I walked out of my client’s house today and saw two of my very favorite regularly seen animals across the street. I know. That sounds odd to say “favorite regularly seen animals.” The truth is, I DO regularly see many animals though. Here at my house, last year I got to know Freddie and Freda, my friendly squirrels. This year we’ve become friends with Eddie, their progeny. At each of my client’s homes, I have animal friends I see every time I go to visit them. In the Rockrimmon area, I have 2 rabbit friends who get under my car in cold weather and who hop up to the window and “talk” to me when the weather isn’t cold. Then there are my deer friends. These two bucks. One is the patriarch of the herd. One is a faun I met early in the spring. It has been neat to see the faun grow up. I haven’t seen the does lately. Maybe they’re staying in a warmer area. There is the possibility that they were killed. There was someone in the neighborhood who poisoned several of the herd in the fall. It was terrible and broke our hearts. I don’t know if they caught them or not.
So, today I walked out of my client’s home and there are my guys. They started to cross the street to see me. Yeah, I know, sounds unbelievable, but it happens! The papa buck was about to walk across the street but there was a car coming up the hill much too FAST. I did something any parent will recognize–I yelled, “Deer!! STOP!!” (Except as parents we yell the name of our child, of course.). Deer stopped! He looked at me and stopped immediately. I yelled, “Stay, deer! I don’t want you to get run over!” That dang deer stayed until the cars went by, just like a chastised kid! Hahaha! Then he ambled across the street towards me and made that weird little sound deer make, almost like he was saying “thanks!” Then baby buck came across the street. He’s the one you see on video. They have such great personalities. I never knew that before I moved to Colorado. Today, interacting with these beautiful animals was one of the very best moments of my day. Alan calls me Dr. Doolittle because I “talk with the animals.” Hahaha! I talk, they make weird sounds or just stare at me. To me, that’s just incredibly awesome and reminds me that we’re not the only live creatures on this planet.

Between a Doze and a Daydream

I came out to my studio to write this afternoon. I started off writing a quadrille poem (44 words long) that would include the word spark or sparkle for dVerse Poetry’s weekly quadrille challenge. I wrote as the breeze wafted through my open door and the sun slowly shifted to highlight the artwork on the wall opposite me. The air was not too hot and not too cold, but just exactly perfect. Missy Cat came inside and found a comfy place to snooze and suddenly I realized I had been staring off into space, halfway caught between a doze and a daydream. What a perfect afternoon and a perfect feeling of peace. I realized I was more relaxed than I’ve been in ages. Did I get a lot of writing done? No. Did I get a lot of plotting and planning done for the 50,000 word novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo? I have to say I did. Isn’t it amazing how much one can accomplish when we simply take the time to get halfway caught between a doze and a daydream? Happy Monday everybody!    Elaine

My daydream wall…

Missy Cat’s place to doze…

You know, sometimes, just when you think you have life pretty much figured out and know how to take care of all the basics, you find yourself utterly defeated by something completely ridiculous. In my past I’ve found myself challenged by big things like aging parents, angsty teens, mental illness, poverty, sexism, racism, and even sexual harassment. Those things are “normal” in the course of a lifetime I think unless you live on a pink cloud all by yourself where nothing ever happens. With God’s help, I have managed and can manage to face all those things, I think.

So, I’m feeling pretty confident about my life and myself this morning when my husband asks me to go buy gas for the lawnmower. He hands me the little red gas jug and proceeds to start mowing the back yard. No big deal! I’m happy to do it! So Buddy (my 10 year old Chihuahua) and I go to the small gas station a block away and I pull out my little red gas jug. I then proceed to fight with it for at least 5 minutes, trying not to swear at my husband beneath my breath as I do so. “Sugar bear!! Why did he ask me to do this anyway? Just because I’m incapable of mowing the lawn, that’s why! I know I don’t mow in straight lines and can’t turn corners, but this is too much!! Drat that man!” I struggled and I twisted and I pinched and, I couldn’t get it off! I couldn’t tell if I was doing something wrong or if I just wasn’t strong enough to squeeze the appropriate places and twist at the same time. I was about to give up when I noticed a young man pull up behind me to buy gas. He had a little boy in his back seat so I decided he looked safe and humbly went over and asked for help. (Women, as you know, this is something we have to be careful about. Some guys aren’t safe.) The young man said “Sure! No problem!” and then, of course, flipped something, twisted the cap and voila! The cap was off the jug in 2 seconds. I blushed at my lack of ability and humbly thanked him for his assistance. He couldn’t help himself. He grinned wryly at the old lady, i.e. me, and said, “Those things can be complicated until you’ve done it a time or two.” I laughed, he laughed and I went back to my gas pump, filled the jug with gas and the car with the gas and slinked humbly back home.

You know, we never will know everything or have all the answers. There will always be something that we need help with in this life. Whether it be getting a stupid cap off of a gas jug, getting help with our kids, parents, spouses, family at large, or even accepting help from complete strangers when we need it.

There are even those of us who have gone to church all our lives, read the bible all our lives and given ourselves to Jesus, who think we have all the answers down pat and, suddenly something comes up that leaves us questioning our previously held pat answers. I think society at large is in this state right now. So much about our society, social mores and values have changed over the last 20 years. Some of them are really good, some of them aren’t and some of them I don’t know about. Some of them I’m still wrestling with and so, I go to God’s word and try to find the answers. I have decided one thing for sure. Even if I don’t have all the answers, I know God does. I know He knows what the big picture looks like and that if I just submit to His will and “Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with Him,” (Micah 6:8) it will all work out okay in the end. I’m not God. I don’t have to have all the answers for every question or situation. I do need to act justly, treat people with love, dignity and mercy, and walk humbly with God. I might not agree with everyone else or anyone else, I might not be of the same religious beliefs or non-beliefs, political stripe, the same race, the same socioeconomic bracket, or of the same sexual orientation as someone else. It doesn’t matter. I am still asked, no, required, by God to act justly, treat all people with love, dignity, and mercy, and walk humbly with God. Especially when I can’t even get a stupid cap off of a gas jug, it occurs to me that I’m not in a position to act superior to anyone, ever. Do you?

Peace, blessings, and love for the week ahead to all of you,

Elaine

P.S. I have problems reading crochet and knitting patterns sometimes too. Everyone seems to think I know all there is to know about those hobbies, but let me tell you, they confound me sometimes! Here’s my current project. If I finish it and it actually ends up looking like this, I will let you know. 😀

Talk about a day of varied adventures and emotions! This day included everything from taking a train through the Irish countryside to the southeastern coast of Ireland to me kissing the Blarney stone to the shores of Cobh’ (pronounced Cove) where the Titantic and hundreds of other ships embarked for their trip to the new lands of the Americas. I will try to cover some of these grand adventures, but my pictures will probably tell the best story of all. A picture is worth a thousand words, after all, right?

May 20, 2015: My oldest son’s birthday and he was thousands of miles away in Chicagoland. As Alan and I passed the world-famous Guinness Brewery on the way to the train station early in the morning, I raised an imaginary glass of Guinness to my son in love and tribute for all the joy and love he has brought into my life. I can’t believe I have a son who is 31 years old with a son of his own. The years moved too quickly! The Guinness Brewery is not just a building, it is like a town within a town. Passing by it is really not an accurate description of it. Really it is more like you pass through a town of buildings of the brewery. You can take tours and get a free glass of Guinness at the end of the tour, but we didn’t have time to go.

As we arrived at the train station, wondering exactly where we were to go to meet our tour, I was delighted to find a kiosk with good, strong coffee and pastries too! I was feeling pretty hollow and the cup of coffee and perfect croissant I enjoyed did the trick! Fairly soon a man in a bright yellow slicker appeared and he was our tour guide. He was about 80 years old and has been doing tours all around Ireland ever since he retired from his “real” job many years before. He was like a little yellow-dressed leprechaun, darting from here to there and making sure everyone knew what to expect. He was also very relaxed. It was obvious he has been at this a long time and knew exactly how to help us enjoy the tour, but also to have time to breathe. I loved that.

First we made it to Cork and we transferred to a tour bus at that point. We took a ride through Cork with our guide sharing many important parts of history from that town and then we were at the Blarney Castle grounds. The emphasis is always on the Blarney Stone when you hear of Blarney Castle, but the entire compound is unbelievably beautiful and as you enter into the gardens, you feel like you’ve entered an enchanted garden. It is that magical. I felt like a little girl who had just been dropped into her favorite Disney movie as the princess heroine who was dazzled by all she saw. These are the first photos I made of the gardens. These flowers are show stoppers! I was so entranced by them, that I turned down coffee and food so I’d have time to drink in the pure beauty of these flowers.


I had never seen flowers so rich and pretty. I wish I could remember the name of them! I spoke with two ladies from Canada about these flowers at length and now…the name is gone!

As we continued on the path to Blarney Castle, we encountered this young man playing the old-fashioned lyric harp of Irish legend. You find the Irish lyre everywhere, even on their Euros! It has become the symbol of Ireland. This young man was very, very good playing this old instrument. It all added to the mysterious, almost magical experience of the castle.


We continued walking and would stop every once in a while just to gaze upon the beauty of the Blarney Castle grounds. You know how there are places in the world where you suddenly think that somehow you’ve entered onto holy ground, amidst a sacred place. Blarney Castle gives you that feeling in spades!

  

I mean, come on! Does that not look like a place where a leprechaun or fairy could pop up at any moment? As we neared the castle I suddenly heard an orchestra playing, of all thing, “Night on Bald Mountain,” which is a piece my orchestra played in high school. I confirmed with Alan that there was indeed music coming from somewhere so I knew I hadn’t made up the exciting, highly-skilled orchestra music.

As we reached the castle, the first thing we saw after crossing the algae covered moat was this, the dungeon of the castle and let me tell you; you never want to be in a true medieval dungeon! They’re tiny, dark, dank and slippery with water.


  

As we passed beyond the dungeon and the beautiful lone tower, we saw the orchestra that was playing. They finished playing their pieces and were putting away their instruments. We proceeded to the entrance of the actual castle, bought our tickets to see the Blarney stone and then started up, up deep to the inside of the castle. Two observations on the interior of the castle: 1) Those people were tiny in that day and age or there is no way they could have fit into some of those rooms! 2) The walls were of such thick stone that the temperature inside the castle was at least 5-10 degrees cooler than it was outside!

  
 This was a bed chamber for one of the daughters who lived in this castle.

The way up to the Blarney Stone is a very narrow, stone spiral staircase. The steps are small and shallow, the passageway narrow and without modern lighting, would be very dark indeed. Occasionally one came upon an opening, however, and you could see this bucolic scene below.


I’ve always wanted to say I gazed upon a bucolic scene, but let’s be honest. You don’t see things like this in the United States. At least the parts that I have seen and traveled through. We made friends on the narrow journey to the top of the castle. They were from Minnesota and Canada and had obviously known each other for decades. The gentleman directly in front of me was hilarious! He kept cracking jokes and I kept laughing, my laughter echoing eerily through the castle tower staircase.

  
 The Blarney Stone is actually a bit of a misleading. It isn’t what I imagined at all and the acrobats required to kiss it are quite the challenge! You have to lie down, tilt your head back over a narrow ridge and then kiss the stone within the wall of Blarney Castle. It looks terrifying, but is really quite safe as they have someone there to hold onto you as you kiss the stone. I, of course, had to kiss the famous stone that is supposed to confer upon the kisser magical eloquence or as stated in a poem seen along the wall, “which to the tongue imparts that softening tone.” I thought softening of my tone would definitely be a bonus so I went for it!

It lasted but a moment, but WOW!! A dizzying moment indeed!

After we descended down a backstair even more narrow and dark than the first, we were out in the bright sunshine and walked around the grounds to the market square that surrounds the castle. We found a very quiet pub to eat a quick bite and then went shopping at the famous Old Wool Factory. They’ve turned the old factory into a mall of sorts. Inside the first part are some of the finest and most beautiful woolen items I’ve ever seen, made from Irish wool taken from all the sheep we saw in the countryside along the way. Every item I saw, I wanted to buy and take home to wear forever, but the cost was a bit prohibitive for that! Finely woven and knitted capes, coats, scarves, shawls and jumpers (sweaters) come at a very high penny! Alan and I went our separate ways inside the mall and when we met outside he reverently handed me a little gift. I unwrapped it and it was nothing but a little jar with a clamp sealable top. I was mystified as to why he bought such a simple thing when there was a Waterford crystal outlet inside the mall. Well! Alan knew that one of the things I wanted to do while in Ireland was to get a wee bit of Irish soil to take home and cherish forever. (I have an eccentric habit of taking a bit of soil or stones from places we visit that are very meaningful and soulful to me.) He suggested we get some soil from right there, on the Blarney Castle grounds! I was worried we might be caught and arrested for such a heinous crime, but we made our way to the interior area of the grounds and Alan actually dug up some of the dark, loamy soil and put it in the jar for me. It is now gracing my display shelf of special soils at home. After that, Alan bought me a beautiful pink crystal heart at the Waterford Crystal outlet and I have to admit. It is hard to know which is more beautiful and appreciated; the dark loamy soil inside a simple jar or the crystal heart. Both are evidence, to me at least, that my husband not only understands me, but loves me to distraction.

My soil shelf at home. On the left is my arrangement of red sand from Zion National Park taken on my and Alan’s 15th wedding anniversary, topped by white sand from White Sands National Park collected by my father for me when I was 8 years old. On the right is the dark loamy soil from Ireland. On the far right is an example of the pink marble found all over Colorado.

Alan’s crystal heart, which to me represents his beautiful heart, given to me. (I’m such a mushy romantic, aren’t I?)

I took pictures of beautiful trees while Alan stole some soil for me. 🙂

This is a yew tree and is seen all over Ireland. I had never seen one before.

Well, I’ve covered enough ground for today I think, so I will stop here for now. In my next chapter, I will tell the story of Cobh, where millions of our Irish ancestors embarked for America!

May you have a beautiful day of your own adventures today!

Elaine

Middle Aged World Travelers-Chapter Two Continued

When Alan and left our hotel to go to Trinity College and visit the downtown area, we were both a little apprehensive about such things as getting lost in the big old city, pickpockets, thieves, and also knowing where we were to go the next morning to meet our bus tour group for the Cliffs of Moher tour.  Ok, those are the things was worried about.  Alan was worried that I would get too cold and get sick on our first day out.  So I was constantly flittering about and mothering him to do this, not do that, did he still have his passport, his phone, his ticket, his butt?  He was fathering me with put your hat on, do you need my coat, are you warm, are you cold, don’t push yourself too far.  To put it bluntly, we ended up having our one and only little spat at Trinity College before the tour.  A few minutes later, we both admitted to being a little anxious and decided to loosen up.  We were on vacation for crying out loud!  So what if any of those things happened?  It wouldn’t be the end of the world after all!  We made up with apologies, a vow to quit being such pains in the arse, as they say in Ireland and England, and to have a great time!  It was amazing how much more fun things were after we relaxed.  Imagine that! Ha! If I’m offering advice in these stories of our adventures, the first thing I would advise is to r-e-l-a-x. You’re going to be fine and have a lot more fun if you do!

There are several things I forgot to mention about Trinity College yesterday. First of all, it is a beautiful campus and as old as the hills. Ok, not old as the actual hills, but it was established in 1592 by decree of Queen Elizabeth and was patterned after Oxford and Cambridge, although no further branches were ever added or built. For centuries, it was strictly Protestant. Catholics were not allowed to attend. Neither were women allowed to attend until 1904. Until more recent years, the Provost (head) of the College had to be a Trinity College graduate. The college’s buildings originally followed no true design pattern, but then an attempt was made to design buildings that did follow a neoclassical design in the early 1800’s. Additional buildings have been added in the 1900’s and are more modern in design. Some scenes from the famous Harry Potter movies were filmed at Trinity College in the Old Library.

Here are some more pictures of the Trinity College campus I thought you might enjoy seeing. I’m writing about our Cliffs of Moher trip now so hopefully I will get that post up tomorrow morning! Peace and love, Elaine