MUSICALLY SPEAKING – THE BLACK & WHITE PHOTO CHALLENGE

Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Music


Even if I don’t play them, I love musical instruments. I recently sold my piano, but I still have the organ. It no longer works, but at least I can now fit it in the room without blocking access to the dining table. That’s an improvement, believe me. I rehomed my baritone uke in favor of a concert uke. I had drums, flutes, and I still have a pair of Australian Aboriginal music sticks.

In living black and white, this is music (everybody, please sing along)!

Sui dynastic veru p;d porcelain musicians from China. One of my price possession!

Sui dynasty (very old) porcelain musicians from China. A prize possession!

Bass fiddles at the Boston Pops

Bass fiddle at the Boston Pops

My mountain dulcimer - hand made of rosewood and balsam. I think there's a bit of oak in the mix, too

My mountain dulcimer – hand made of rosewood and balsam. I think there’s a bit of oak in the mix, too

The Berkshire Chorus (at the Pops)

The Berkshire Chorus (at the Pops)

Nothing more black & white than a keyboard ...

Nothing more black & white than a keyboard …

classical-tongue-twister

Cee's Black & White Photo Challenge Badge

GOD, THE WORLD, THE DEVIL, AND LATE NIGHT TV

Colbert had Ricky Gervais on this evening. He’s not a particular favorite of ours, but we like him well enough. Tonight, he and Colbert got into a mini debate on the existence of God. Gervais, an avowed atheist versus Colbert, the avowed Catholic. No, it wasn’t angry or mean. It was interesting, lively, and thought-provoking.

Colbert asked “Why is there anything rather than nothing?”

Gervais said that was a meaningless question.

They went back and forth for a while, but in the end, the answer is, was, and always will be — we are all agnostics on some level because, unless we think God speaks directly to us — or we are in touch with spirits from “the other side.” We believe what we believe because that’s what we believe. We don’t know anything.

Buddha, Tibet, probably 19th century

Buddha, Tibet, probably 19th century

Garry said he enjoyed it. For once, something interesting that wasn’t politics and I had to agree. But I’m an armchair philosophy and religion nerd. I can talk about this stuff for hours. I never get bored.

I’m a skeptic, closer to an atheist than anything else. But, as I have no direct knowledge, all I can say is “I doubt it, but I suppose it’s possible.”

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Garry would more likely say: “I believe in something, but I’m not sure exactly what.” The same, but different.Nonetheless, he has an inherent buoyancy and optimism which lets him believe things will work out even when it looks hopeless. I envy that.

Yet, I am living proof that miracles happen. If anyone should be dead, it’s me. I can’t close that door without acknowledging that I’ve had some amazing close encounters of the providential kind. I think it’s possible that whatever God is, he has spoken to me at least twice and saved me when I was dying. Let’s not debate this. It’s complicated. Very.

So my husband, who has seen some of the most horrific stuff of which the human race is capable is an optimist and I, who have been saved more than once, am always expecting catastrophe. Go figure, right?

entry doorway front hall

There’s no logic to this kind of thing. We believe what we believe because that’s what we believe. We can all justify our beliefs, but in the end, belief is faith-based. No matter what you call it. A minister I liked asked me what more I needed … a picture ID with God’s face on it? Because if the experiences I’ve had don’t prove to me that something, someone is watching over me … then what will?

I can’t argue the point. I don’t know who  — or what — is the watcher. God? Satan? Ganeesh? The Lady of the Lake? Spirit of my ancestors? Buddha? A nameless Power? I have no clue and am not willing to speculate. I do not know the answer. I’m not even sure I’m asking the right questions.

The only thing of which I am certain is I don’t have an answer and neither do you. If I ever find an answer, I promise to let you know.

THE SUN ROSE ON FRESH SNOW

I was dreaming that I had gone to some weird resort that required ladders to get out of the rooms, which were really caves. Someone had stolen my ladder and I was stuck. In the cave. I complained to a man who I presumed was management and he told me to get over it. I said “You can’t strand me here in this damp, dark place. It’s wrong!” He laughed.

I was still angry as I struggled to the surface of sleep and realized it was another anxiety dream. Either I’m searching for something and it is nowhere to be found, or I’m trapped and no one will help me escape. Variations on a theme of anxious. I went back to sleep, but found myself still trapped in the cave.

I got up, went to the bathroom … and the sun was rising.

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A few minutes later, it shone brightly on the fresh powder of snow that had fallen overnight.

I keep a camera in the bedroom for just such emergencies. Ah, the joy of ambivalence. If I stopped to take pictures, would I be able to go back to sleep? If I went back to bed without getting pictures, I would surely regret it.

I took pictures. I’m glad I did.

This is a tense, anxious, frightening time for many of us and it’s getting to me. But, it isn’t going to go away anytime soon. We have a long hard road to travel. I cannot fight every battle, every day. I’ll collapse and quite probably, never sleep again. It’s good to remember the world is beautiful and the sun continues to rise. It was certainly glorious this morning.

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This is dawn and sunrise on the first day of February during the strangest year through which I’ve yet lived. So far, so good.

IT REALLY DOES TAKE A VILLAGE by ELLIN CURLEY

There’s a saying that it takes a village to raise a child. I think it also takes a village to get someone to the age of 100. I saw both of those concepts in action this past weekend when we went to Minnesota to celebrate the 100th birthday of my husband’s Aunt Helen.

aunt-helen

Aunt Helen is the matriarch of a big, happy, close-knit multi-generational family. We stayed with one of her two daughters, Barbara, who has two daughters of her own in addition to two sons-in-law and five grandchildren. All live close, or relatively close, to one another and are all integral parts of each others’ lives.

Barbara’s daughters never need babysitters. Their kids range from 2 to 13. Either their sister, or parents will take the kids for the day, overnight, or for a week – whatever is needed. Aunts, cousins, and grandparents go to the meets, games, plays, you name it, for all the children. The three generations have regular dinners and often spend weekends together. They travel together. Sometimes, it’s just the two sisters and their kids. Sometimes it includes grandparents. All eleven of them are going to Disney World together for a week in March.

barb-family

And everyone visits Helen in her nursing home. She was in independent living nearby till she was 95. Then she lived with Barbara for three years until Barb couldn’t care for her Mom at home anymore. Throughout, Helen participated in most family gatherings and events, so she has been able to be a huge part of her grandchildren’s lives and a big, though more passive part of her great-grandkids’ lives too. It was only a few years ago that Helen lost her mobility and moved into a nursing home. Also nearby.

As an only child of only children, I was in total awe watching all this intergenerational interaction. Everyone is comfortable with and knows everything about everyone else. There is bountiful camaraderie. Jokes, shared memories and teasing as well as support and love all around. Not that there aren’t tensions and disagreements, but overall, the warmth and affection is palpable. Everyone feels important in their little galaxy.

This is wonderful for children and their developing egos and personalities. It’s also essential to give an elderly person connections and purpose to their more limited lives. Studies show that that is something that most people who live to be 100 have in common, along with great genes!

barb-photos

Aunt Helen was overwhelmed when her daughters threw her a large 100th birthday party. The whole family was there – both her girls and all of their children and grandchildren as well as three beloved nephews who traveled very long distances to be there. (I’m the wife of one of the nephews who Helen refers to as ‘the kids’ – they are all in their mid 60’s to 70’s.)

full-family-photo

We are pack animals. Through most of history, we have lived in cohesive groups – extended families, clans, villages, small towns. Everyone knew everyone else and was there for each other, for better or worse. Today we have splintered off into self-contained units. The nuclear family is the norm – Mom, Dad and 2.5 children. After this weekend, I’m not sure that scenario is optimum for anyone.

A long time ago, one of her grandchildren told Helen she had to live to be 100. Since then, that has been her stated goal in life. A few days before her birthday, Helen told Barbara that she thinks she needs a new goal. Barbara asked if she wanted to make 101 her new goal. Helen replied, “No. I think I’ll make it 105!’

With the love and support of her own personal ‘village’, I bet she makes it!

Check out: A VERY HAPPY 100th BIRTHDAY, AUNT HELEN – BY TOM CURLEY for more of the story!