Facets of Lucy

Looking at the various side of a life


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Standing in the Hall of Broken Dreams with Linda Ronstadt

A lot of us have music or particular songs that we relate to various points in our lives.  We have break-up songs to cry to and angry songs for when we’re mad.  We remember the song that we first slow-danced to  and what was playing at some critical moment in our lives.  And, sometimes, if we’re lucky, there’s a singer or band that we love all our lives. For me, there’s two:  James Taylor and even more, Linda Ronstadt.

I first saw Linda Ronstadt at a concert in the early 1970s. It was my first rock concert, tickets cost about $6. I thought at the time that Linda was actually the warm-up act for the Eagles. I’ve since learned that she was actually instrumental in bringing them together, hiring them as studio musicians. When it was her time to sing, she came out on stage dressed in what can only be described as a caftan (like many of us, she has fought the weight battle).  So this woman walks up to the mike and begins to sing.  I had heard her on the radio before.  Different Drum has always been my favorite song.  But her voice was so pure and her presence so powerful that I was riveted.  I don’t remember much about the Eagles’ performance  (I’m sure they were good) but I left the show a definite Ronstadt fan.

Linda Ronstadt performing in 1978

Linda Ronstadt performing in 1978

This Ronstadt fan within a few years packed up and headed to college with all my albums in tow.  Heart like a Wheel was recently released and became the theme song of all the dramatic souls on Second East.  Oh, how we sang out about faithless love on  our “hall of broken dreams”.  You’re No Good and Willin suited us all at some point as we were wooed by the fraternity boys.

Linda’s weight problem seemed handled by the end of the 1970s. Looking slim, pretty and downright athletic on the cover, she released her Living in the USA album. Some of my favorite songs off that album were a bit melancholy (Alison) and some were wonderful remakes (Love Me Tender). This was the disco period and I definitely admire that she never released an album reflecting  the popular genre.

It was after I was out of college when an opportunity arose to see Linda Ronstadt in person, at an arena in the Washington, DC metro area.  She sang so many of the songs I’d grown along with.  Even more special were my companions – my college roommate (who has since passed away) and the (then) current man in my life.

Shortly after this concert, Linda released another album, Get Closer,  It came out about the time I was marrying and having my first child so this is what my daughter learned to be danced around to; well, this and the other albums of hers that I had.  But the next two albums weren’t purchased as I followed life’s currents. For most of the late ’80’s, my top artist was Cookie Monster, singing C is For Cookies.

Technology took a turn at this point.  Record albums were replaced by cassette tapes.  Then cassette tapes were replaced by CDs.  Now CDs have been replaced by digital files.  Who knows what will come next.  While my record albums still play for me, I’ve lost my cassette tapes of Winter Light and Feels Like Home.  Around this time, Linda recorded a duet with Aaron Neville, Don’t Know Much.  Their voices blended beautifully; it was a song I really enjoyed hearing.

After that, I think Linda decided she’d played this game long enough.  She picked new directions to take for a couple of her albums.  After a long, successful career she was entitled.  She released an album of standards (think Rat Pack period music) on For Sentimental Reasons and then one with an Hispanic tilt in honor of her father entitled appropriately Cancione de mi Padre.

Yesterday, I heard that LInda Ronstadt has Parkinson’s Disease and can no longer sing.  My heart breaks for her and for her lost talent (she says she can no longer sing).  I realize that she won’t read this post but I need to send out good wishes and prayers as she joins the esteemed assembly who are similarly afflicted.  No one who has it is happy to see someone else join.  Linda, thanks for all the years of sharing your talent with us.


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A Daycation – Making the Most of a 24 Hour Getaway

For reasons too varied and boring to explain, we’ve not had a summer vacation.

What we have had are a few long weekends.  Some of them have involved traveling to visit or help family, some were spent doing errands or household tasks.  But we had one wonderful “daycation” and I’d recommend it highly.

One late evening, my husband and I drove to a little town an hour away.  We did an errand or two and stopped at an inexpensive restaurant for a light dinner.  While there, we had a good laugh at one trucker’s parking job.,

Parking a Truck at a Strip Mall

Parking a Truck at a Strip Mall

After waiting out a sudden downpour, we made it to the car and headed to the next town over where we stayed the night.  What a nice beginning for our daycation!  There’s a little ice cream shop in the second town which makes THE best chocolate malts ( a kind of milkshake).  We each enjoyed one while we walked around, appreciating the varied home designs and gardens.  It was a lovely night, post-rain shower and the walk was a happy ending to the first few hours of our getaway.

The next morning, we were up and out!  Breakfast came from a not so unique little place – McDonalds.  When you want a fast and hot breakfast along with drinkable coffee, McDonalds does the trick. Once we were fed and caffeinated, we were off to ….go fishing!

Fishing

The spot we fished at was in a beautiful local park. Since it was a Friday morning, we had the place to ourselves.  It was so peaceful there.  The fact that we caught nothing didn’t take away from the fun.  We stayed just as long as we wanted and then packed up our gear.  Although I enjoyed the fishing, I was excited to move on to our next activity – antiquing.  This little town has a delightfully large antique “mall”, representing many antique dealers in that area.  Prices are more than reasonable, dealers are willing to dicker and the stock turns over often enough to check it out frequently. All I bought this trip was a Steve Miller record album (I’ll wait if you want to go look those words up) but we both had a good laugh at a collection of transistor radios (same offer), a wooden baby walker and so many other treasures.

We had only two scheduled activities.  One, to visit my sister and her family occurred around lunch time. Her son, “little man”, is a precocious 4 year old who is always fun.  (An example:  He called the other day to say he had a new joke.  We said  that was great, that we were ready.  So he said, “Knock, knock!” Then he cracked up,  laughing so hard at his own joke that he couldn’t even tell it.)  So a happy hour or so was spent with them, hearing about their actual vacation and catching up.

The last scheduled event is one we both looked forward to – dinner with our son.  Having graduated from college this year, he accepted a job at a firm about 2 hours away from home.  Thanks to the GPS, we took a route from my sister’s town to his.  What a surprise!  The route took us zig-zag across the state, by some incredible farms, some horse country and lovely small towns.  That trip alone was worth the travel.  We made it our son’s city in plenty of time to meet up with him.  The three of us enjoyed a delicious dinner at a nearby restaurant.  It’s lovely to raise children but the real pay-off is to get to know the adult versions and watch them evolve into wonderful men and women.  We so enjoyed our conversation that we lingered awhile at dinner.  Regretfully, we hugged our son and headed to the car.  It was time to head home.

Believe it or not, we weren’t horribly late getting home but even returning late added to the sense that we had been somewhere, that we had really gotten away.  The variety of activities with visits, and no drive too far made this really feel like a vacation.  If you haven’t gotten away and are lucky enough to have places you can visit not too far away, give it a try.  If money is tight, you can eliminate the overnight and aim for public parks, scenic spots and anything that intrigues you or that you know you enjoy.

According to the news, more and more people  in the U.S. and the U.K. are having stay-cations instead of long getaways because of the economy.   Consider trying the daycation as an alternative or another way to break up your summer without going broke.  Happy Travels!


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Summer Sangria

Need an Excuse to Entertain?

Relatives graciously invited us to drop by for a visit while we were in their town a few weeks ago.  The hostess offered me a glass of Peach Sangria.  We were late and it wasn’t quite as cold as it had been earler but it was delicious and looked, smelled and tasted like summer.  The memory of that Sangria stayed with me when I returned home.  Finally, I thought why not make some myself?  When the weekend rolled around, a few of our friends came by to visit and enjoy it with me.

When I set out to make the Sangria, I researched recipes online.  There are recipes with 20 ingredients, some that take hours to make and some with exotic ingredients that I’d not use again.  I finally settled on one that sounded good, had only a few ingredients and didn’t take long to prepare.  Then I made minor adjustments of my own.

I understand that usually Sangria is made in a big batch but that didn’t really suit how the evening flowed.  To make it for our group, I made the final touch “by the glass”.  I’ll put my  touches, such as they are, in parentheses, and you can decide for yourself.  We thought the results were peachy and fresh without being cloyingly sweet.

Peach Sangria

1 bottle white wine (something leaning towards the dry side)       Sangria

½ cup Peach Schnapps

¼ – ½ cup sugar (I used 1/3 cup)

1 liter ginger ale (I substituted peach flavored sparkling water)

Peach slices

Mango slices

Mix the wine and the schnapps in a pitcher.  Add sugar and stir well.  Add peach and mango slices, stir gently.  Chill for an hour or two.  Before serving, add ginger ale.  (My changes:  I poured the wine/schnapps/sugar mixture into individual wine glasses, then added peach sparkling water to the glass.  I then added several frozen peach slices to each glass which acted as ice cubes.  The result wasn’t as sweet as what I’d tasted before which suited my taste buds.  I think it was a hit because, with each thank you note received, a request was made for the recipe.)

Try it and let me know what you think.  Happy summer!


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DP Challenge: Digital Content Meets an Actual Book

I have loved to read since I learned how.  I remember the summer I was 10 years old.  I walked a couple of miles each day alone to the library.  I devoured the books there like a starving man given a steak.  I worked my way through the young adult books and right into the adult fiction section.  John Irving was one of my favorite authors.  For me, at that point, reading was a solitary joy.

As I’ve gotten older, reading has become a much more social outlet.  I have found friends who share my taste, to a large measure, in books.  We exchange our books regularly, get together in a casual “book-clubby” kind of way to discuss ones that really moved or entertained us.  Sometimes, one of us finds a treasure and it’s with great excitement that we say, “Hey, you’ve got to read this!”.  Other books get set aside while we all eagerly read the discovery.

One of my friends with whom I exchange books regularly talked me into getting an e-reader.  We both bought Nooks a year or two ago.  My Nook and I did not immediately fall in love.  We casually dated for many months.  I looked for free downloads first and read them.  When I saw that it was still satisfying to read on the Nook, I tentatively bought a new book.  By now, I can recite all the things I like about my Nook: small and easy to carry, font size can change with eye fatigue or if the Nook is on my exercise machine, the ease to switch over to the web or to check email, and the ability to look up a word I don’t know as I read.

But there is what I don’t like – the inability to share my books.  This is a BIG negative for me.  Yes, I know, there are some that are “lendable” but there aren’t many, they’re never new releases and the restrictions (only 1 loan and only for 14 days) make it a fairly useless factor.  that is, unless you do the only obvious alternative and actually swap Nooks for a few weeks and read through your friend’s recent book purchases.

Here’s another thing an e-book can never do – speak out from beyond the grave.  I have books that have been passed down through the family.  Inside, there are notes in the margins from generations before me who read them and were moved to comment, mostly histories and Bibles but also some fWhen I hold them, I can touch the handwriting of my great-grandmother or my grandfather.  I can pass these along to my children in time and we will have them with us far into the future.  They are a comfort to me.  Show me how this will ever happen with an e-book.

Book2

So how do I reconcile my reading habits?  I will never buy a book that I feel I am likely to want to re-read (based on author, topic, or reviews, for example) in the e-book format.  I save the Nook for fluff books, experimental reads or if I’ll be in a situation like travel where I might want the Nook to serve more than one function to cut down on electronics I have to take.  I can never experience the feeling of looking at my full book shelves in the living room with so many “old friends” waiting for me there with e-books.

Let’s face it.  E-books aren’t really books, they are just purchased digital content. Maybe eventually e-books will develop technology or relaxed restrictions to make e-books more like real books.  Maybe generations behind me while never see an actual book so won’t know what they’re missing.  I think that will be a much greater loss than when typewriters and buggie whips were phased out.  Books contain a sense of history and culture as they are passed along and read in a way that a book saved in digital format to a device never will.


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Obitu-Lit? Probably Not.

One of my favorite parts of any newspaper is the list of death notices.  These are not the same as the obituaries that a newspaper prints when celebrities or others with more public renown pass away, but the submissions of families when a loved one dies.  While many of them are formulaic in design, there are many written in personal and unique styles.  Many times it’s not the style but the substance that catches my eye.  When people hear that I like this section of the paper, I’m often told that that is an “old person” thing to do.  I know what they mean; I remember grandparents scanning the death notices for names of people  they knew.  It seems a bit morbid. I do not mean any disrespect to the families or the loved ones they lost, but  I believe these notices can be educational, entertaining and touching to read. In fact, reading them can be  a way to honor those who have passed away. Think of them as “obitu-lit”.  No, don’t; maybe that’s not in good taste .

Property of Facets of Lucy

So, what is so interesting about death notices?  Let’s start with personal style.  To compare, a common format of a typical (but, in this case, fictitious) death notice is as follows:

Cain Smith

On Friday, May 13 of Eden, Florida.  Beloved son of Adam and the late Eve Smith; twin brother of Abel Smith of The Villages, Florida; devoted father of Abraham and too many grandchildren and great-grandchildren to name.  Services will be held at the Local Synagogue at 3 pm on May 16. Internment to follow.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to Our Chosen Charity of the Central Florida region.

The best recent unique notice I’ve come upon:

“On August 16th…the world said good-bye to a joyful man.  Father, husband, Zydeco dancer, marathon runner, photographer, documentary film maker, T-ball coach, seven-time graduate of French 101, author, collector of loud socks, world traveler, lover of cheap wine and stinky cheeses.  He made the world a more interesting place.”

Doesn’t it make you wish you’d known him?

There are many details which differentiate the notices and make them interesting.  For example, there are endless ways to just say that a person has died.  “Passed away” seems to be the most common expression but let’s look at some of the terms used:

–          Passed away

–          Left this life

–          Departed this life

–          Was called home

–          Went home to be with the Lord

–          Entered into eternal rest

–          We announce the passing of

–          Peacefully entered into eternal rest

–          Taken too soon

–          She leaves to mourn

–          Transitioned this life

–          Earthly departure: [enter date]

–          Succumbed

–          Peacefully crossed over into Glory

–          Passed into God’s arms

–          Made his transition to the Upper Room

–         Went to join God’s choir and rock on God’s front porch

–          And the saddest, used for the loss of a child: Died too soon

Once a notice tells who has passed away, the family and friends often tell details and histories of their loved ones.   This is my favorite part.  I am moved to learn of the passing of a woman who lived a “normal” life in an American city, but who had been the only holocaust survivor from her family.  I wonder, “How did she remake her life?  How did she move forward?”  Many of the elder gentlemen have served in the military, and awarded many honors for bravery, honors which were never spoken of as they raised their families and went to work each day.  Some other examples follow.  They are altered, with names, localities and service arrangements removed, to protect the privacy of the families and some have comments, which follow them.

Death Notice Excerpts:

“ Some of the materials he helped develop have been utilized for: increasing the fidelity of phonograph needles used in record players; improving sonar during the Korean War; fuel rods of modern nuclear reactors; containment of nuclear waste; the solid-state electronic chip; cubic zirconium often found in jewelry; fire retardant ceramic tiles used to surround the Space Shuttle; counterfeit- proof ink used in new American currency.”

Comment: Uh, what did you achieve in your lifetime?  This man makes me feel in awe and inadequate.

”[She] was a story book mother, grandmother and great grandmother, a loving and patient wife, a kind and loyal friend.”

Comment: So sweet!

“Chimney Joe…He was a master sweep and mason….He was kind and he was  loving.  He never met a stranger.  He had a real zest for life and lived it to its fullest.  He’ll see you on the flipside.”

Comment:”Chimney Joe”?  Great nickname and well-loved.

” A life-long Democrat, donations in her name can be made to the Democratic National Committee or the [President’s] Reelection Committee.  [(current president.com])”

Comment:  The current president’s reelection campaign has encouraged supporters to request donations to the campaign in lieu of birthday presents and wedding gifts. I’m not sure who had the  idea for  memorial gifts, but I’m not supporting political causes in this posting.

 Subtitle Under Name: “What a Life!”  Why did they say that, you wonder?  “Born in Poland, he came to America in 1937 at age 16 with little more than the clothes on his back. He got a job in a factory, learned English, and worked as hard as he could. Within 25 years, he had married and became owner of the factory… [He] was proud of his [family]. He lived a wonderful and joyous life: he was loved by his family and many friends, and admired for his strength, his wisdom, and his deep caring for others. He will be missed.”

Comment: Wow! What a life! He truly lived the “American dream”.

Subtitle Under Name : “Teacher… Scientist… Pianist…
One Who Perseveres”

“ Throughout his life, [he] took every opportunity to hike, ski and sail, and was blessed by long, happy marriages.”

“A loving and devoted husband, son and father, [he] took great interest in and responsibility for not only his own family but also the many others he attracted by virtue of his easy humor, great generosity, and earnest concern.. He is sorely missed.”

Comment: Certainly, there’s a lesson there.

“She was a caregiver to many; a volunteer with numerous organizations; and widely known for her generosity and willingness to help everyone.  She said the most important days of her life where when she married her husband and gave birth to her children.  She will be missed, and her loving spirit will live on in the hearts of those whose lives she touched.”

“[], a fun-loving and passionate advisor, died of pneumonia on Thursday, July 25, 2012.  Also known as Jack, he had a good nature and willingness to share his ideas and opinions on life; Jack’s career in financial advising spanned more than 60 years… He served as a Communications Specialists in Ghana and Liberia during World War II.  After the war, he went to University and started a family. .While obtaining a college degree, he worked to support himself and his family.  He had fond memories of his days as a beer distributor, a seller for Fuller Brushes and caddied at [a local] golf club in the summer.  When not working, he liked to spend time on his farm and truly enjoyed his tractor rides on his 1951 Ford tractor.  In addition, he was an avid sportsman, playing golf and tennis; and continued his his daily workout until his health started failing him.  Culturally, he attended the symphony and art galleries.  In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to one of his favorite causes.”

“A wonderful and loving wife, mother and grandmother.  …was known for her beauty, intellect, warmth and fabulous friendships.  She provided tremendous joy to her family, friends and even the briefest of acquaintances…She will be remembered for her delicious cooking, her expansive reading, her incredible memory for names and events, and her stylish way with everything from furnishing her contemporary home to her unique collection of jewelry.”

“An exceptional woman with a sardonic wit, she held a deep respect for the written word fulfilled through her career as a writer…Advocate of Jewish causes; Israel; dance; formidable fundraiser; philanthropic; sports fan.”

So, tell me what you think: Do you still find reading death notices a morbid past-time?  Let me know if I’ve convinced you otherwise, or if you find yourself sneaking a peek sometime in the next week.