Frank Sinatra: Dark Songs for Enlightened People

My vinyl gets the most play in the wee short days of the New Year through early spring, and yesterday I spent the afternoon listening to Watertown on repeat. Of course with vinyl you can’t just set it and forget it; you have to pick yourself up to flip it or start it all over again. It’s a good preventive measure for becoming glued to one’s couch.

I first heard Watertown while driving up north to the Maine Wildlife Park two Novembers ago. I was surprised that it was new to me since I own most of Sinatra’s albums and have been a fan for decades thanks to my father, a life-long fan. Sinatra is the only artist who can bring me to tears and I love him for it!

“Dressed in memories, you are what you used to be…”

The common theme that runs through his darkest of albums is vibrantly alive in Watertown only the heart Sinatra shares is of a small-town variety vs the glam larger-than-life man. Both ache just as deeply so does it matter? This album has all of the beauty and sadness of a warm late fall afternoon in Maine. You know as you listen to the album that the hope of being reunited with his wife who left him alone with their two kids is all going to be blown away, like those past peak sepia-tone November leaves still hanging on…

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The Spiritual Lessons of Abuse and Overcoming

Our guinea pig Tiny Tim aka Timmy passed away January 2017 but I still miss him daily and draw inspiration from him. His lessons were so powerful that I wish to share them again. I originally posted this in my old blog.

Prompted by a “calling” that came without any explanation, I picked up the phone and dialed (literally since I still use vintage rotaries) the local shelter early in December 2013. I asked if they had any elderly or hard luck guinea pigs. I’ve adopted and rescued guinea pigs since I was ten years old.

“As a matter of fact I have just the pig for you.” He was in need of a foster home, she explained. His background, quoted directly from his intake papers:

“G. Pig surrendered in last 24 hours with history of child in home rough-housing with animal.”

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Food Chat: Julia Child, Calories, Cake, Corn on the Cob

When I post photos and recipes to my blog or Instagram I sometimes receive messages from people wondering how I can eat cake yet maintain my weight. Did you know that beginning in her early forties and through the rest of her life Julia Child counted calories and weighed herself daily? She was an “assiduous calorie counter” which is exactly what I’ve been doing since I turned forty and documented in my vintage diet book American Women Didn’t Get Fat in the 1950s.

”I used to feel that the more I ate at every meal, the healthier I would be,” she (Julia) said. ”But I started putting on weight when I was 42. I weigh myself every morning.”

Her diet includes a lot of fruits and vegetables, few desserts, small portions and six tablespoons each day of fat or oil, including two of saturated fat. ”I like marble steaks, and I like butter,” she said. ”I am very careful to eat two tablespoons of saturated fat a day, with greatest pleasure.”

To me it’s no different than maintaining a budget by spending wisely. When you know you can afford to buy or eat something it can be much more enjoyable! And really, as a former apple orchard boss lady shared with me when I worked at her farm stand in the mid 1980s, it’s always a good day when you can stand up and take nourishment! At the time I didn’t really get it but since then as I’ve grown older I know how deep and true it is. To be well enough to eat and enjoy a nourishing gift as “simple” as a freshly picked apple is a good day! We don’t need apple pie.

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Laurel Hill Cemetery Comes Alive

I took these photos of blooming flowers, ivy, trees, shrubs, greenery, moss and other life forms during a couple of early mornings at Laurel Hill Cemetery in Saco. It was during these walks that I experienced a deep peace I hadn’t felt in a very long time. I hope the peace of this special place reaches you through this post:

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Be Someone’s Jackpot

It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to be another creature’s jackpot. Chipmunks have a very rough life fraught with constant danger and often, enmity from humans. Desi, a new friend this season who was one of the chipmunk babies from last fall all grown up almost got killed by my neighbor’s dog this morning. She lives in her yard but comes to visit. I was outside waiting for her and I heard growling, then the sound of the dog slamming into the fence and rustling leaves. I’ve heard this before and usually I see a squirrel running for its life over the fence. Today it was sweet little Desi only she made her escape through a small space underneath it.

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Something Supernatural in the Cemetery

Yesterday at daybreak Wayne and I went for a walk at Calvary Cemetery in South Portland. Walking in and photographing old graveyards and cemeteries has been a passion of mine for many years. If you haven’t seen my past blog posts please click the link, I think you’ll enjoy them. I didn’t sleep the night before because I had spent much of it crying and laying awake thinking about the hawk and Buddy. I wanted to honor his life and make peace with his passing in a somber, spiritual setting while getting some fresh air and exercise with Wayne. I also sensed there was something I needed to see.

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Deep Sadness

Yesterday evening after watching Lawrence Welk I was sitting on the rocking chair in the sunroom. I saw my neighbor’s chipmunk I named Buddy standing up looking over at my house. Ricky had more babies and he has been very interested in everything happening. Like all chipmunks he is sweet, charming and curious. They continually fill me with joy.

Wayne came in and was standing somewhat in front of me when I saw something odd in the neighbor’s yard behind him where Buddy had been standing. I didn’t have my glasses on and the sun was low in the sky behind her house. I put on my glasses. It was a hawk perched on the ground with its wings partially open looking like a large angel of death. I ran out but it was too late. I watched it fly away with Buddy. I’m devastated. I had always prayed that I would never witness this very thing. I was able to save his life almost one year ago when a hawk was dive-bombing him. Not this time.

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Higgins Beach Sunday Sunrise

We decided last night we would leave our house at 5:00 a.m. to watch the sunrise. It was very cloudy and drizzling–would we be treated to a show? We decided to find out. Wayne and I listened to the Grateful Dead playing “Fire on the Mountain” live in 1983 on XM during our ride which was perfect since the morning sunrise cast a magical pink “alpenglow” on the clouds. We had the whole beach to ourselves except for a surfer and a walker in the distance.

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Streaming Love: A Surprise in Our Woods

How are you all doing? I’ve been getting outside to rake and do general spring cleaning in the yard. The fresh air, warming sunshine, exercise and Cider’s company is very healing. I’ve been keeping an eye out for Buster, too. Yesterday Wayne and I did some more exploring in our woods. He found a hidden gem I never knew was there!

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The Simplicity of Success

I really wish the cliched photo of a human silhouette standing on a mountaintop or road with arms raised would cease to be the image to represent “success”. I keep seeing it on marketing materials and a quick google search for “success” turns up the same nonsense. It seems so 1990s Tony Robbins which works for some people, but not for me. All I can see, besides lack of imagination and following a tired marketing message is someone expressing their own greatness for having climbed a metaphorical mountain on their own. If that’s success then I’m an abysmal failure!

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