Ashes to Ashes… StarDust to StarDust… May 21st BlogCast

My thoughts…

Ancient stardust are we, ashore oceans and shoals
Our love eternal, soars skyward, to departed souls
They live on in our hearts, we, too, feel their pure love
Interwoven with starlight, from the heavens above

 

PianistaItaliano covers Hoagy Carmichael’s Stardust

Rob Steinberg covers Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock

Ms. Mitchell’s lyrical thoughts…

We are stardust
We are golden
And we’ve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mitchell’s Lyrical Enigma? ~ Sunday Songs Series

For week #35 of our Sunday Songs Series, we find Canadian singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell presenting us with a lyrical enigma. What, exactly, is her Sunny Sunday story-line all about? To be sure, when her word count is a scant 100 playing out in 2 minutes and 36 seconds, clues are few and far between.

When interviewed way back in 1994 by Tracey Macleod on BBC2 TV’s The Late Show, Mitchell did shed a bit of light…

“It’s not autobiographical. Actually it’s kind of a composite portrait. I have a friend who I paint with, who had a roommate who did this. It’s just the story of a woman waiting for some little change to give a new direction… it’s a kind of a mysterious little song. It’s also the shortest song I ever wrote.”

As is true with most noteworthy lyrics / poetry, one’s imagination does tend to roam freely. In my own case, this resulted in some scenarios that might account for someone taking potshots at a streetlight.

Might Mitchell’s pistol-packing protagonist be a…

a. militant, dark skies seeking stargazer / environmentalist battling light pollution?
b. stressed-out worker tormented by unresolved anger management issues?
c. 2nd Amendment domestic terrorist totally entrenched within America’s gun sick society?
d. misguided hero worshiper of Bonnie (Parker) and Clyde (Barrow)?

Oh btw… the comment section awaits those who’d like to express their own theories.

For those who’d like to see where our next Sunday Songs Series adventure will take us, stop back here seven days from now…

 

 

Remembering Dad

It’s oft been said that nothing ever dies on the Internet. That’s why I immortalized my late Mom in my Mother’s Day blog and now do the same for my late Dad in this Father’s Day posting… as follows…

One of my earliest childhood memories involves my waking up in my crib at night… seeing the streetlight’s steady, pale glow on the bedroom wall… listening to the steady rainfall on the roof above me… all that interspersed with frequent flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder.

The reason I had not felt fearful and cried was because I could also hear my Dad snoring… and just knowing he was still nearby had allayed my fears and lulled me back to sleep.

From that point forward I grew to better understand my father. Dad had parlayed his multiple college degrees (the sciences, math and education) into a distinguished, four decades long, teaching career in the public schools of his native Minnesota and in Michigan. He was multilingual (speaking Latin, German and several Slavic tongues). And this consummate educator’s devotion to all things intellectual hadn’t ended when the final school bell of the day had rung.

His lesson plans for Sis and me focused on a rock-solid preschool experience inclusive of educational toys, mathematical flashcards, children’s literature, etc. And he kept on supplying us with other knowledge-enriching materials from K – 12 and throughout our college years.

Countless hours of quality family time / recreation involved us gathering around our piano to play our duets and solo pieces. We’d also sit at our dining room table to play Scrabble and card games like 500 Rummy and Cribbage.

I also fondly remember Dad teaching me how to ride my bike, pitch a baseball and fly a kite. I would’ve likely given up trying had he not shown me how a kite’s “tail” (not provided in the kit) is what actually stabilizes it. He also showed me the fine art of hammering nails when we teamed up to build a doghouse and picket fence.

He also stood in my corner to figuratively nail school bullies… bring them to the attention of the school principal who had the power to do something to end my sorrow… but did nothing. So, that task was left up to my Dad, who actually had to verbally confront our newspaper delivery boy, no less… order him to stop teasing me or else we’d cancel our subscription. Shortly after that, that tyrant quit his paper route. Well, at least, momentarily, that kid did suffer a financial setback.

Dad’s Christmas 1963 gift to me was a Lionel electric train set. For the Christmases to follow he bought more trains and related paraphernalia. Eventually, I wound up with the best possible track layout (multiple routes, featuring a triple looping spiral, trestles, 45 degree crossings, switches, lights, accessories and, eventually, the ability to run two trains at the same time). Doubtlessly, Dad and I wiring up all the necessary circuitry to make everything run properly is what had later spurred my interest in Electrical Engineering.

Of course to help pay for everything, Dad had to supplement his meager earnings by coaching his school’s sports teams, running the football scoreboard and being the basketball scorekeeper/ public address announcer. He also served as the school newspaper’s advisor and wrote a weekly science column for our hometown’s weekly edition.

He covered the school sports beat for a much larger publication, too. He once told me how, while apologizing to the sports desk staffer (for being late in phoning in his story), he had casually mentioned the reason… his inability to use the phone due to a police investigation of a breaking and entering at the school.

The sports desk immediately transferred his call over to the main news desk so he could report the known particulars. Well, for his news exclusive my father got to see his byline in print and his name filled in on the “pay to the order of” line of a bigger paycheck.

Dad had become aware of how his nation’s international dealings could localize problems for him. During WW-II he had made the tragic mistake of publically speaking with an acquaintance… in German. Someone reported them both as suspected Nazis, but after a brief interrogation, Dad and his friend were cleared and freed.

Dad also made me the Democrat I am today, too. He had high praise for all the good things President John F. Kennedy had been doing to end discrimination and poverty… as well as for his lofty plans to actually send a man to the moon! Of course, on Friday, November 22, 1963, there we were, our family of four sitting together with the rest of America / the free world… in deep mourning over the tragic loss of our assassinated leader… watching JFK’s dreams for a better global society get buried with him.

With the arrival of the mid-sixties, teachers had no sooner won the right to bargain collectively for a living wage and better working conditions, when they discovered negotiating toward that end was easier said than done. Prior to meeting with their school board, Dad and his colleagues would meet, sitting right at our family’s dining room table.

I was allowed to observe and I became privy to how unions work… and how the school board would not work with them… flat-out refused to bargain in good faith. Long story short, after their six-day strike, complete with picket lines, the teachers wound up winning most of what they had hoped to gain. However, one of the teachers’ concessions was that they promised to never discuss this union / management dispute with their students. Hmmm… what ever happened to free speech in America?

Well, true to his educator roots, Dad had made use of this labor / management dispute to privately tutor me… to make me aware how unionization and fighting for a living wage is essential. He also taught me to never, ever cross picket lines… for any reason… and, over the years, I have had several occasions where I’ve fully respected / honored striking workers.

Well, once that strike was history, our family dinner table once more became the place where we’d sit down to consume Dad’s “to die for” hamburgers. They were heavily seasoned with black pepper, smothered in browned onion rings, and slathered with mustard and dill pickle slices… everything piled high between lightly toasted buns.

That, too, was the same table where Dad and I would spend many a hot, muggy summer evening, talking about life while listening to Ernie Harwell’s play by play of Detroit Tiger baseball games on our radio tuned to WJR 760 AM. I can still remember the subtle fizzing sounds of my can of cold cola as well as the June beetles pinging away at the screen door… and later on in the season… the chirping sounds of thousands of crickets while we waited for our team to get those base hits and home runs.

The 1968 season was the first time, in then recent history, where our Tigers had made it to the very top… thanks to a great team effort, inclusive of two pitching aces, the regular season, 31 game winner Denny McClain and the three World Series game victories turned in by Mickey Lolich.

Time wise, it was a couple of years “down the road” when Dad had taught me how to safely drive a car… briefed me on the finer points not always mentioned by my driver-ed textbook. After I had earned my learner’s permit, he had, somehow, managed to summon up the courage to sit in the front passenger seat sans wearing a crash helmet. But, the hours I spent behind the wheel, with him at my side, made it all possible for me to ace my road test and get my full driver’s license on the first try.

Within the next five years, I got to twice see the pride on Dad’s face on both my High School and College graduation days… in spite of my opting for a more creative than analytical career path. He had been correct to warn me that radio / TV broadcasting jobs were hard to get… as I would soon find out while doing my 30 years worth of hard time in my Retail Hell prison.

Even when I’d sit at our family dinner table griping about a few of my unreasonable bosses (how they were making my life miserable while I was slaving away in their nonunion sweatshops), Dad was there to commiserate / share his own sad stories of his own pre-union days. Some of his strategies, e.g., always turning in top quality work, in spite of the bad work environment, could and did work towards my getting some respect from my managers.

Well, not too long after that, my Dad’s health began to fail. What could be worse than that? Well… the fact that he had done it to himself. He had wrecked his lungs with tobacco and overeaten himself into obesity… his cancers, hypertension, heart / lung disease and diabetes all conspiring to send him, at age 75, to an early grave.

But… even in death… my Dad had remained true to his deep, educator roots. He had taught me the invaluable lesson to never make the same poor lifestyle choices he had made. And I have steadfastly opted in to healthier living. So… will any of that pay off? Will I live past my Dad’s 75 year mark? Well… I guess I’ll find out 13 years from now.

Are there any regrets on my part? Well… as is typical of most males… there are some magic words, which fathers and sons never seem to say to each other often enough. Ergo, my advice to all of the sons and daughters, who may be reading my words… after you say, “Happy Father’s Day”, today, be sure to follow that up with your heartfelt…

“I love you, Dad!”

A Womb to the Tomb 21 Verse Salute

 

Chapter One

 

I ~ A child enters the world; mid-spring month of May,

Takes his first breath; on his very first day,

Communication unscripted; just cry to ad-lib,

His whole world revolves; around life in his crib.

 

II ~ Mom, Dad and his Sister; take him for a stroll,

The carriage’s wheels; squeak, wobble and roll,

There’s sunshine, fresh air; lilacs’ fragrant traces,

Leaves of green, clouds of white; smiles on family faces.

 

III ~ He hears others speak; he soon learns to talk,

Watches in awe; as upright, people walk,

Soon crawling on floor; leads to unsteady standing,

Takes first baby steps; his world is expanding.

 

IV ~ Looking down at the ground; can be dreary milieu,

To stand on two feet, expands his worldly view,

His new outlook on life, will enrich, empower,

Sunrays on one’s face; means to outshine and tower.

 

V ~ Each day in, day out; it’s playtime for this child,

With neighborhood pals; imaginations run wild,

With the out-of-doors turf; now under his feet,

He heeds parents’ warnings, “Stay out of the street!”

 

VI ~ He pedals his kiddie car; likewise with his trike,

Both soon abandoned; he learns to ride bike,

Training wheels are soon off; he’s giddy with glee,

Speeds down a hill’s sidewalk; feels totally free!

 

VII ~ One late p.m. summer; setting sun, western haze,

At his back are the sunbeams; cast a sight to amaze,

For this boy, who oft wishes; to be adult tall,

His long shadow appears; he no longer feels small.

 

VIII ~ The downtown four corners; present a new land,

To cross Michigan Ave.; Dad holds onto son’s hand,

Explains what the walk/don’t walk signals all mean,

“Look both ways”, his Dad warns, “Make sure you’ve been seen.”

 

IX ~ His first day at school; that special September,

His teacher shares knowledge; to learn and remember,

He quickly absorbs; all that’s worth knowing,

His mind and world, both; are constantly growing.

 

Chapter Two

 

X ~ For reasons he never; can comprehend fully,

He soon becomes victim; of more than one bully,

Monday through Friday; school grades 4 through 8,

He incurs their taunts, torture; their punches and hate.

 

XI ~ His principal / teacher; tell him not to tattle,

Won’t lift a finger; to end playground battle,

Sure, kid thugs move on; the boy loses them gladly,

Still, things could not have been; timed out more badly.

 

XII ~ That’s when woes worsen; deep sorrow sets in,

What he can’t face; his grotesque teenage skin,

With emotions tanked out; his will to live sinking,

Instead of enlarging; his world is now shrinking.

 

XIII ~ Spends countless “date nights”; in exile in his room,

Alone in life’s limbo; faces darkness and gloom,

This “no-win” confounds; his four walls confine,

His “prison cell” world; measures ten feet by nine.

 

XIV ~ A few kindhearted girls; accept his exterior,

Their warm smiles tend to soothe; his feelings inferior,

But true love’s elusive; stored on the top shelf,

That’s way out of reach; when one can’t love one’s self.

 

XV ~ His cap and gown cap off; grade K through 12 knowledge,

Soon earns his degree, too; at near hometown college,

But when Mom and Dad start; to feel ill, feel old,

He helps out at home; puts his life on hold.

 

Chapter Three

 

XVI ~ For the next thirty years; he works odd jobs, as well,

Labors hard behind gates; which enclose Retail Hell,

Endures the low pay; bosses’ oft nutty notions,

To stay close to home; passes up most promotions.

 

XVII ~ So selfless is he; he had totally neglected,

To network, make friends; to stay well connected,

With Mom, Dad now dead; good life’s beyond hope,

To see his small world; he’d need a microscope.

 

Epilogue

 

XVIII ~ His age and health issues; now breathe down his neck,

Retail’s “lift lead” “stand long”; left his bod a wreck,

At the end of each day; as his mind drifts toward slumber,

Asks, “How soon before God, calls up my number?”

 

XIX~ Wonders, too; when we die; what really remains?

Do our memories; our dreams; outlive our brains?

Will our atoms float lonely; in cold cosmos so vast?

Will they create future life; from our life in the past?

 

XX ~ Having opted out from; the parenthood matter,

His unique double helix; will unwind and scatter,

His blogged sentiments are; his one, last, sure bet,

For it’s been said nothing dies; when it “hits” Internet.

 

XXI ~ When will the “child” exit his world? Hard to say,

But he will take his last breath; his very last day,

Once talked out and cried dry; he’ll get his first gander,

At a world which revolves; around something far grander.

 

 

 

Go-Green-Lean-Clean: A Reader Participation Blog

Welcome to Earth Day 2016. My question to all WordPress readers:

What are you doing to prevent Earth from becoming an ecological disaster area?

My comment box awaits your replies.

While you are typing away (input, here, is totally optional) if you have specific info to show that what you are doing is making a difference, include that, too.

ADDENDUM: Saturday, April 23, 2016 9:23 a.m. ~ Since every day should be Earth Day, I still am interested in your comments… be your posting them to tell us about the ways you Go-Green-Lean-Clean in your day-to-day lives OR to discuss, in general, any other issues of the environment important to you/ to us all.

PS… my thanks to all who have already commented and clicked my “Like Star”.

To get the comments rolling…

Here are a few of my Go-Green-Lean-Clean ideas:

1. I only plug in my laptop and printer when I’m using them… this saves 365 kilowatt hours annually. Compared to my past usage… it’s as if my power company is now billing me only for 10 months each year. For even greater kWh savings I also unplug audio / video gear when not in use.

2. I recently had more insulation blown into my attic and have installed energy efficient windows and entrance doors. The reduction in my monthly electric/gas bills has been dramatic.

3. In the winter, I keep my furnace’s thermostat set at 62 degrees by day / 55 by night. Staying warm is not tough… that’s what long johns, bulky sweaters and extra blankets are for. In the summertime, I’ve totally stopped using AC.

4. With my insulation backed curtains drawn shut, this keeps heat in when I need it / out when I don’t. And since nobody can see inside, during summer it’s clothing optional (OK… that last tidbit probably was a bit more than you needed to know… but… hey… LOL… it’s all going towards the Go-Green-Lean-Clean greater good.

5. Rather than drive… I power walk to nearly all my local destinations (yes… fully clothed). This not only saves gasoline but is great exercise. Btw… I only have 40,000 miles on my car, which I’ve owned for 17 years.

Well, it’s now your turn…

I’d love to hear about your own Go-Green-Lean-Clean ideas. The goal, here, is for us to make this list as long as possible. My comment box is standing by…

Oh… btw… even if you’re not adding to the list… per se… I still welcome your comments / observations…