Monday, November 28, 2011

Miss Shaw.

I have no pictures today.  But I've taken a mammoth step and offered my services as a pianist to our church next year.  True - I've been playing the piano since I was 5 years old and was able to crawl up on the piano bench in my grandmother's parlor.  True - I took piano lessons for years from Miss Georgia Shaw who was not only a great pianist but a wonderful violinist as well.  She also taught me to play the church organ and I'm really hoping that some of her teachings come back to me. 

I'll never forget Miss Shaw.  Two bucks a lesson and she was the kindest, gentlest person I've ever met - then and now.  She made me believe that I was never less than wonderful.  And I think every kid should believe that about themselves in some area.  I'm not so sure whether she taught me nearly as much about the piano as she did about life.  She had polio when she was a child which left her bent over nearly into an upside down U.  She wasn't married.  She obviously loved kids which was why she taught us all how to play the piano.  She often told me stories about her life and I don't think I ever remember her saying anything negative about her life or about anyone. She was the happiest, most optimistic person I have ever met.  She taught me that stuff happens to people - really bad stuff - and yet we muddle through.  We survive to play beautiful, beautiful music.  She taught me that I didn't need to be perfect as long as I put my heart into it. 

Miss Georgia Shaw taught me that music was the great equalizer but I failed to see at the time what she meant by this.  When Miss Shaw played her violin or the magnificent pipe organ for me, she was not a little, bentover person with a hairy chin - she was.........larger than life and in my ears anyway, she was perfection.  No violin or organ has ever sounded so sweet to my ears.

So in memory of my piano teacher who believed in me regardless of the missed lessons, of coming in smelling of cigarette smoke, of giggling throughout my lesson, or my obvious lack of practice, I've promised my church that when needed, I would play the piano for them and for her.

So I will be praying - fervently.  And I hope that I will receive some other prayers along the way because I'm going to need them.  It is one thing to have shaky hands while singing, but while playing the piano - shaky hands are not so good. 

So my first song is for you, Miss Shaw.  Thank you for your patience in showing me the beauty of music.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanks.

After the 334th consecutive rainy day here at One Old Goat Farm, I found myself running out of different ways of effectively complaining about the mud that I have to slide and trudge through every morning and night.  The kind of thick, clay muck that is impossible to scrape off your boots and clings to shoes stronger than any glue known to mankind.  Well anyways, after 334 days of this crud and in homage to Thanksgiving Day on Thursday, I decided to switch gears and instead of complain, to count my blessings.I'm thankful for my goats being back on my farm.  It is really odd living at One Old Goat Farm and writing as One Old Goat at not having any goats.  I am thankful that Hansel, my little wether, is such a friendly guy and no matter my mood, is always right there for me to hug and scratch and love.



I am thankful for my new pitchfork.  A seemingly insignificant joy but seriously, if you've ever tried to scrape out cow poo with a pitchfork that the tines kept getting pitched with the poo, you would understand.


 
I am thankful for Dolly Llama and secretly am very flattered that she seems to prefer me to anyone else.  It's like we are kin.  Kind of.  There is something very calming about being nose-to-nose with an animal of that size and that is just how Dolly likes to communicate with me.  I have a big family and not everyone is particularly interested in what is going in my life.  But Dolly always notices. 



I love the little bunny that visits us - well, visits the chickens every day.  He doesn't let me too close to him but just seeing him first thing in the morning always makes me smile and lets me know that the world is good for another day.                                                                                                              I'm thankful for the sunny days we did actually have and gave us my husband and kids time to split and stack enough wood to get us through the winter.  The fact is, I have more things for to be thankful than I have to complain.  I hope to remember this tomorrow when it rains.  For the 335th day on One Old Goat Farm.




Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Angst.

I'm feeling irritable. I'm feeling impatient. 

I really thought that with my religious epiphany this past summer, I would enter into the Christmas season a little calmer.  But today I found myself feeling not so calm.  True, it may be all of hullabaloo surrounding my workplace, my Alma mater and the nonstop regurgitating of the same old not-so-new news.  It may be the dreary weather.  It may be the fact that I've traveled a lot the past few months which I've really enjoyed, but always puts me off kilter. I'm not sure.  Maybe I need just a little more good news in my life - I think we all do.
 
There are so many things to enjoy and love.  Way more good things in my life than bad.  It really seems rather masochistic to listen to the news.  I gave up Walmart because I didn't like the affect it had on me or the affect I believe it has on society as a whole.  Why not give up on the news?  I really don't think that my world would stop turning if I no longer tuned into the morning news or read the newspaper.  At almost 50 years old, I have a fairly good understanding of what my role is as a human in the human race.  The 10 commandments have given me that information.

 There are some good websites out there if I'm so inclined to see some of the good going on in the world - http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/



I subscribe to several online groups that relate to my own quirky interests and I pick up bits and pieces of the world's goings-on through that. 

Blogs that I follow also are likely to include a more humanistic view of the world so I won't be totally in the dark.  And of course there is my church family.....anything that is worth knowing is discussed at our weekly family meals. 

So my gift to myself - which will hopefully affect my family - is to live in my own sheltered little world.  That may not work for many people and I respect that.  But I want to truly enjoy Christmas and all the days leading up to it in the manner in which I believe it should be enjoyed: without the anxiety and worry and rushing here and there and trying to get more and more and more done. 

Although for many, many years I've said that I was a Christian, this is the very first year that I understand why I am Christian.  It is hard to explain but this is the very first year that Christ's birth is a true event for me and not just a token day that I am celebrating and I will be celebrating with all of my heart! 

And instead of freaking out over things about which I can do nothing, I will rejoice in the true gifts in life.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New York.

Last week I had the opportunity to go to New York City for the second time of my life.  The first visit was only for a day and to chaperon a student council.  This past week I left on Sunday and returned early Wednesday morning. The highlight of my trip was that I enjoyed the company of my oldest son. 

I haven't spent this kind of one-on-one time with Ryan since before he went to college and a certainly hope that we have the opportunity to spend time together like this again. 
New York was nothing like I thought it would be.  I expected to have profanity hurled at me at every step.  I expected to meet with faceless New Yorkers who would rather trample me than smile at me.  I expected to see people dressed as fashionably as models.  I expected to be mugged in Central Park.

Surprisingly, what I found was people just like us.  People of all sorts, really.  I saw people who were dressed to the nines and people who dressed as if they just walked off the farm.  I saw people who were in a hurry and people who were tourists. 

I found that if I smiled at someone they would smile right back at me.  I had more than one experience of someone holding the door for me, allowing me to go through first.  I experienced valets who remembered me and greeted me with a smile even though obviously, I wasn't a big tipper.
 Yet another stereotype has been crushed for me.  I've found so far this year that whether I am in Denver, CO or New York City, NY or State College, PA, people pretty much treat me the same way that I treat them. 
But really, I hadn't expected this in New York City.  I can honestly say that while I wouldn't want to live there, I would definitely like to return to New York City.  I've found that all of my expectations of the people living there were incorrect and that there a friendly, kind folk wherever I travel.  But I hadn't expected here which would explain why I waited nearly 50 years to spend more than a few hours in their city.

Crazy New Yorkers!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Been Wondering.

I, like many others, are overloaded with the events of the past few days.  On one hand, I am absolutely floored and disgusted and angry that somone to whom many people looked up could do something so reprehensible to a kid - to many kids.  Not to mention that trauma to the kids that were abused but all the kids in the future who will never, ever get to experience an adult who truly cares, who wants to help.  What this devil has done is to prevent any parent from ever trusting anyone who professes to 'just want to help' kids.  If we trusted this pillar of our University who had such an earnest face and such sincere words and such altruistic intentions, and who rooked us all, how can we possibly ever put our kids in the care of anyone?

And my beloved JoePa.  That breaks my heart.  I've known of JoePa all of my life. I certainly did not know him personally but I knew of him from the way my parents talked about him, my interactions with his family on committees on which I've served, from the way that the media (on good days, in winning seasons) have portrayed him.  Poor judgment and the assumption that superiors within the University would appropriately take care of matters are what has brought around JoePa's end as coach.  I think that is incredibly sad.

My parents taught me right from wrong - there is no doubt about that.  As a kid the worst possible consequence of careless acts on my part would be to disappoint my parents.  But yet, how many times have I made a decision to do something that could potentially harm someone else?  Not waiting for a bigger break in traffic before making a turn, not returning a phone call, not volunteering for something, not keeping my word.

It is really sad to think that so much of this horrific mess could easily have been avoided and lives spared if someone along the way had done the right thing.  A chain is only as strong as its weakest link and I think that there have been many weak links. There are always weak links.

As a Penn State alumni and a Penn State employee, I will always be proud of my University.  Because Penn State is the students, the faculty who teach them, the staff who work hard to provide the best, most excellent service to our students, the ones who don't earn 6 or 7 figure salaries who oftentimes, can barely make ends meet but yet show up to work each day because we believe in the value of education.