Monday, December 27, 2010


When I poured my coffee this morning, I barely glanced out the kitchen window, and noticing nothing amiss went to my computer and waited for caffeine to work its magic and raise my brain from the fog of recent sleep. I watched the birds out the back porch view flitting around the feeder now with more earnest efforts since the thermometer was reading in the 30’s. I heard Kitty’s whinny, also with a more earnest pitch, hollering for me to come feed, or so I thought was her intent. When coffee had done its job I returned to the kitchen window and saw the reason for Kitty’s pleas. Robijn and Joline stood just the other side of the rise of the field lines and were quite happy munching the still green fescue grass that grows there. I didn’t see Sunset the usual ring leader of escapes from the barn, but I didn’t panic about these two being out. I did hope they would refrain from a dip in the close by swimming pool, so I grabbed coat and etc and went out side to head to the barn.

I used to freak out when horses got loose, especially the young ones. Now I have come to notice that they won’t leave. Heck why would they and who would take them? As long as they are calm and merely graze the greenery it is not big deal. And as expected, once I had gotten to the barn to grab a rope to go catch the escapees, I turned to find them followingme to the door. Sunset had managed to have locked herself in Kitty’s stall, hence her absence from the front yard group. Order restored and all fed, I went back to the house for tea and a chance for the day to warm a bit before riding the working girls.

It is the day after the day after Christmas today. The weekend has been nice, cold but relaxing and slow. Christmas Eve fell on a Friday this year and we spent it at my parents’, a chaotic replication of the past eves, but with each passing of these events, a wondering of how many more will we share crosses my mind. This year my dad was quieter than on years before, and was tired. My mother looked festive in her seasonal garb, but she too is moving slower. Christmas day Mark and I opened our gifts from each other, a box of art materials from him, and to him I gave a small mortar.

This particular mortar is about 6 inches long and has maybe a 3inch dia. and with the help of some black powder, is capable of launching a helpless golf ball 300 yrds. or so. A friend of ours, who was a soldier in Nam and who blew stuff up then and still enjoys a good loud ballistic boom, had told me about this little mortar and suggested it for a gift for Mark, who also enjoys a good loud boom as well, and so I ordered it. What I didn’t know or think about was how it would fire. I knew that we had some black powder and some old golf balls but I didn’t even think about a fuse needed to send the ball out of the barrel and hadn’t ordered any. So Mark had a toy that he couldn’t play with, like getting a telescope on a cloudy day. No fun. Then Mark said that he bet we could get fire in that hole somehow, and thus became the focus of our intent for Christmas day.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, this little cannon, or mortar, is a very heavy small barrel with a golf ball sized opening at the firing end. To fire it, you place a charge of black powder in the barrel first, which sets into a reservoir in the rear of the barrel, then you stuff in the ball. On top of the barrel at the rear is a 1/8” hole that goes down to the reservoir, and this was where we needed a fuse to send a spark to the powder to ignite and blow the ball into the air. The trick was to get anything to continually burn long enough to get down into the chamber. With no firecracker with a steal-able fuse anywhere to be found in the house we were going to fabricate one of our own making. We had intent to ignite some powder, by golly.

The internet had postings of several options for making homemade fuses for fireworks or whatever, firebombs, etc. First we tried toilet paper strips rolled into tight cords and then covered with a paste of ground up match heads. These burned well, if, they held together long enough, but went out as soon as flame hit the hole in the top of the mortar. Next was yarn soaked in lighter fluid, same result. By then our elder daughter and son in law had driven out to the farm and so they joined our quest for fire.

As a youngster this fine son in law of ours had, self admission, been quite a pyromaniac of sorts and had made many fuses for various bombs for blowing up things, so he suggested tissue paper, from the close at hand newly opened gift boxes. Black powder was poured onto this and sprayed with a fixative and then rolled tightly into a shape as tho one might put in your mouth and smoke it. After several prototype attempts of almost doing it, finally we got a successful burn and resounding boom, and sent the ball flying across the yard to the pond’s edge. It was only a small amount of powder used that time since we were still very much on the bottom of the learning curve, but it was very gratifying to have improvised and prevailed. With our group victory accomplished, we retired to the warm fire and glasses of wine, and toasted our day.

The weather gurus had hinted there might be a white Christmas but that day only held very cold rain and dashed hopes for a jingle belled carriage ride. Yesterday tho, they said the same might happen and sure enough tiny flakes fell for most of the day, too warm to stick but lovely. At one point while feeding the horses the flakes got bigger and I felt like I was in a snow globe and half expected to be turned upside down.

In the late afternoon during the heaviset of the falling white stuff we hooked the bouncy mare to the carriage. So we did get our carriage ride in the snow, with bells on the mare jingling away. The lap robes kept our legs warm, and the soothing elixir in the flask kept our spirits bright.The pre Christmas stuff had its stress but post c-day and the day after the day have been just fine.  
check out the boom

Friday, December 24, 2010

Ho, ho, ho

The first chiming of the captain’s clock I heard this morning said it was 3 am. I heard it a while later chime once for the half hour, and continued to hear the chiming of the hours all the way until I heard Mark making coffee at 8:30. I had spent all of those hours almost getting back to sleep and then being jostled into consciousness again and again. Images and words poured thru my brain like I was tapped into the congestion of the airwaves. My sinuses were feeling like a dump truck had unloaded a full load of gravel on my face. It was not the best way to start the day, Christmas Eve. I hate not getting all my beauty sleep anytime tho. It makes me feel like I have been on foal watch for a month, and going thru the days in a fuddled daze. Gimmie coffee, quick, there is merry, merry to be had.

It has been a nice week leading up to my insomnia with visits from both my youngest daughter, and my sister in law. Their visits were brief but it was very nice to be with them and recount things that have happened in our lives since the last time together. They both live far to the west so the infrequent nature of their visits makes them more special.

One night during their visit was special indeed, with a birthday celebration for Mark at a good friend’s house. It was a repeat performance of the same gathering last year for the same purpose, including both daughters, son in law, sister in law, and our hosts.

Our friend and neighbor, likes tamales, on a serious scale. To that end, one night we were talking about them and how a really home made one was so much better than what generally gets passed off as in a restaurant. The next minute this fellow is on his phone calling a place he remembered visiting in Santa Fe where he had great tamales. After he had convinced the person, somehow, that he was not crazy (that, is still up for discussion), he placed an order with them for several dozen in all types of stuffing inside. A few days later a big box arrived, out came the steamer, salsa, chilies, and sour cream and into these hot tamales we dug.

So for Mark’s birthday this was repeated and we stuffed ourselves silly with these corn husk wrapped treasures, washed all down with nice chilly Mexican beers, and then we sang a raucous chorus to the birthday boy with his candle burning bright. Of course, our friend could not help but use a relighting candle as a joke. It worked. Mark blew hard and out it went and came right back lit. It was a sweet night with friends and family spent doing a lot of laughing. I don’t know that I can safely say which hurt worse, my cheeks from laughing or my belly from my dinner, but it was pretty close either way.

Tonight is Christmas Eve and the gathering is to be done at my parents’ house as they aren’t quite as mobile as the rest of us. Dad likes to get it all done early, mid-afternoon really. He has an incredibly hard time looking at wrapped presents and always stresses over our lackadaisical methods of slowly unwrapping the boxes. We will then eat, and finish early,  and all retire to our homes to wait for Santa and his reindeer.
Christmas is pretty boring around here now that the kids are grown. I did put up a tree and got out some of the multitude of ornaments we have stored upstairs, and dressed it up but it’s quite pale compared to our past Christmases where the house was transformed into the North Pole basically, with lights everywhere and all the trimmings. We used to host for many years, a huge party that celebrated both Mark’s December birthday and the holiday season. The party was a staple event for hundreds of our friends and when we ceased having it many people wondered if they had been dropped from the invite list, or if we had lost their address, or had they done something to offend us. It was none of that. It had simply run its course and my energy for putting it together was gone. Now I appreciate the less stress, more laid back approach and my elder daughter has picked up the torch and has a smaller champagne gathering at her house.

Today is a cool clear blue day but the weather folks are hinting at a possible white one for us tomorrow. I just got the bells out down in the barn and either way I want to take a jingle bell carriage ride tomorrow. Being in a carriage behind a horse wearing bells is magic. At first when the horse is just walking the bells rattle with discourse, but the sound of the rhythm of the bells when the horse starts to trot is something everyone should get to experience. If that sound doesn’t move you, then, scrooge to you.One can't help but hear where The song came from. Jingle all the way.

I have got a few more things to wrap, so off I go to the attic workshop to get the last ones done. Mark should be home from hunting quail with friends soon and we will begin the ritual of the evening events. Fingers are crossed for snow, and wishes are for all, to have a very merry one, and a fabulous new year. Cheers.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

To the Queen...

This past weekend was spent doing things which don't have anything to do with life on the farm. We, in contrast to our norm, shed our bluejeans and boots in exchange for me, a long formal gown and for Mark, well, a silk costume. Our purpose for such a drastic change was our attendance at a Grand Ball, a debutant affair steeped in the traditions of Mardi Gras based social clubs, or Krewes, where young maids of the town are presented to the observers and society in general. There is an entire weekend filled with parties, brunches, luncheons, practices, and more, all surrounding the climax of the Ball itself.  The preparatory events go on year round, culminating on this one special night of revelry.

A dear friend was to be the King of this year's weekend long event, a job which is both an honor and a big financial tug at the pockets, and  it also requires the willing fellow to wear sparkly jewel bedecked garments, lots of makeup, a wig and glued on beard, stretchy white tights, and tall white boots. His bewigged head is topped with an enormous dazzling crown that is covered in crystals and cabochons. His job for the Ball begins with him walking regally around the dark auditorium to the orchestra's tune, dragging an ermine trimmed velvet cape, and he grandly waves to the crowd bestowing them with his good will. After this he climbs to his golden throne and awaits the entrance of the rest of his court, and then, his queen. It is not a job for one with any insecurity issues.

Next come the maids with their escorts. These ladies are usually juniors in college and their names have been on the list for their being presented at this moment since they were born. It is preordained. They are generally members' daughters and many have been princess in previous Balls, and many have mothers, and even grandmothers who have all traveled this path thru the lights to the front of the audience for their gracious and deep sweeping curtsy, that signals their status as now being eligible for suitors. They smile and the lights dance in their eyes as they rise to go to the throne where they join the King in awaiting the presentation of the Queen. Before the mysterious identity of the Queen is to be revealed, the court princesses are walked out, well more like herded out.

The princesses are all about 6 or 7 years old. This particular age was chosen as the year before the little girls start losing those front baby teeth in order to avoid them being in that awkward spot that young children go thru. At this point they are still precious and cute, and they are dressed in delicate laced dresses with satin bows, white gloved holding bouquets, and wearing tiny pearl crowns and a touch of lipstick. Most of them fidget and twist and turn around to see the King sitting behind them and try to see what the other princesses are doing. They are also daughters of members and each has the possible role of future queendom, depending on her pedigree within the organization. They each step forward in turn as their names are called and give a slight curtsy, to the crowd' oohh and aahhs and generous clapping. Then, it is time for the Queen to enter the room.

The music changes and the room blackens. The audience rises to their feet and the spotlight hits stage right. There in the wings stands the one chosen to wear the crown for this year. She begins with a wave of the sparkling scepter and then begins her walk around the room to begin her reign for the night. the dress of the queen is typically an incredibly heavy garment, covered completely with hand sewn on crystals of all sorts, some reflecting light and others consume the light and show as a black flicker. So the dress dances like fire as she walks slowly thru the spot lights beam. She, also, drags a long velvet cape with the Krewe insignia, a very heavy thing which she must pull in her heels and make it look easy. Generally the queens who have had ballet training have been the most successful in pulling off the looking easy part.

There are elaborate sets, costumes, tableaus, and a few million details that all swirl around the ritual of putting on the Ball. The Ball itself is a full blown production that combines theatre with all of the centuries of history of how fathers have presented their eligible daughters to society. Think of the wedding ritual and protocol,  multiply that by a million times, and you might have an inkling of its complexity for a successful evening. It requires long hours of incredibly hard work for many people to pull one off and have every thing fall into place.

The logistics of the physical is one thing, but the knowledge of the social ladder within the organization is something that each captain for the year must deal with and not get wrong. There have been tears and a good bit of anger when so and so's mother was accidentally placed in the spot of lesser importance in the line of chairs of the Royal Box, the designated area for the members wives to see the procession with the best view.  Melt downs are not uncommon. So with all this huge effort over a bit of pomp, sparkles, crowns and big puffy dresses, one would be quick and right to ask,  is it worth it?

When I was somewhere in my teens, my mother and father, who had been very involved with the Ball thing for many years, told me that I was destined for queendom. In fact it was all the work that my parents did that was for my behalf to the chosen one. Pedigree is one factor determining queenhood, but willingness to work your butt off is another one that is paramount. I had no idea what they were really talking about having never been to a Ball and I certainly had no idea about what the being Queen would be about but I was not looking forward to it. Give me a horse to ride but don't put a spotlight and white dress on me. Years later things just happened, I eloped with Mark, and dashed my parents' hope for me to wave that scepter and tossed all their hard work down the drain. To say they were disappointed was an understatement, at my elopement of course, but the fact I turned down a crown was unbelievable. That is until we had a baby girl and their hope was renewed.

Years down the line both of our daughters have now been both princesses and then later queens. Mark and I did our duty, and worked the long hours and handled the multitude of details that come with the privilege. At first to repay my parents, but later it was about what you feel when it is your daughter's time to be presented. When your child is grown up and is wearing the lovely puffy dresses looking as beautiful as a work of art, you understand why. It is their smile that is the reward. In that moment, yes, it is worth it.

We had a wonderful weekend of the festivities, and whatever went wrong we never knew. Mark took many photos of the King and his court and folks have been clamoring to see more of them. I have taken the liberty of sharing here, some of our youngest daughter's experience with my iphone, taking them from Mark's blurb book he did about that year's Ball. A link is below to the photos of her reign. Regrettably the book only lets you preview 15 pages and these are taken up with essays but perhaps mine will suffice to give reference to the feeling.

Sunday afternoon after a splendid closing luncheon hosted by our King, it was back to the farm, the dress shoes were kicked off, blue jeans went back on, and we enjoyed the rest of the day resting by the fireplace.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Gifts That Open Doors

The other morning I woke up with my usual pre-Christmas "haven't done a thing about it yet" panic, which soon set into depression. As I was drifting in this mental downward spiraling vortex of gloom and doom, and bah humbug-ness, with no hopeful thoughts at all, Mark thought he needed to cheer me up some.  So he told me what my early Christmas present was going to be from him. He said that he had taken all of my blog entries from this  past year and had put them together and ordered them as a book thru a company online called blurb. He showed me the mock up of it, layout wise, and the first 15 pages or so. It was stunning to me, that he had done this, having taken many hours to compile and post when I know his hours of down time are so limited. I was at a loss. It was such a nice gesture, so sweet, and yet, troubling.

Looking at the mock up on line, it was a very weird feeling to look at these words I had written and the stories I have told over this past year and to see it about to be contained into a tangible form. My babblings, which I have spewed freely into the dark zone of the cyber world, never knowing much about who read them, if, they were at all,  all written and abandoned, but now were here, hemmed up and documented. He posted the publishing of this stuff on his facebook page and pretty instantly the thing was selling. This I found really both equally disturbing and interesting. I do not think of myself as a writer,  and yet, if one is published and compiled into a book, does this not make one a writer? I write, I wrote, I will have written...on it goes but still, I do not see myself as a "writer". I wondered at my thoughts about this and now this proof in the shape of a book, conflicting them. How does one define what one is, or is it done for you by proof of your actions?

When I was little, I had a grandfather who was the zen master of them all. He was a saint among the gods, at least to me. He was old and he was regal. He had white, and for the day, long hair. He had a rhythm to his days that remained the same, a drifting thru time and space with equal markings of the tempo. He smoked cigars, wore elegant straw hats and the finest of shoes, and always had a white shirt and tie on, except while shaving his face. Then he would stand in the green tiled bathroom in his undershirt, his suspenders over his shoulders, and would take his lathered brush and wipe it slowly over his face to ease the blade's path over his skin.

He told me endless stories, many repeated over and over, but not minded in repetition, about his horses that he had owned as a young man. I used to remember all of their names, in the succession of their interfacing with his life. He actually had one that Ringling Brothers Circus bought, a very clever palomino whose name I also have forgotten. He spoke of them all with a quiet reverence, as they had been his dear friends, admired for their beauty, intelligence, fire, and the freedom they gave him. I never tired of hearing these tales of his horses and I never tired of spending time with him.

He was the first to hang one of my drawings. He put it on his kitchen wall. That one gesture was one of the biggest pivotal moments, a door opening, for me, because someone who I thought so highly of,  had acknowledged my effort and was applauding it.

There is something different to a drawing, a musical piece, or to a bunch of words when suddenly they are pulled out of the shadows of the closet, notepad, or cyber world and placed where they are tangible for all to see and hear and feel. A sketch gains stature when placed on the wall.  It is the revealing of one's imperfections and flaws, making it public, and its a baring of one's soul. It solidifies the ephemeral and makes it solid in time. It says that in this space and time, "I did this thing" and it thereby marks a moment.

I do not remember the particular drawing that I did of a horse, that impressed him enough to get the tape out to hang it on his wall for him to see every morning when he ate his fried eggs and grits, and sipped his hot black coffee. I do remember the amazement I had that he had done that. It never would have crossed my mind to consider myself a drawer/artist of anything as I always was very disappointed at the drawings I did with the kit my brothers had. This kit had a thing where you were to sketch  a copy of a dog, or whatever, to see if, YOU, were really an artist and somehow you didn't know it. Clearly I was not, and yet, here was my grandfather acknowledging my work and appreciating it enough to show others that he admired what I had done. It was humbling and exhilarating at the same time. The problem then arose, what to do next for an encore? How can that gesture be met with anything that can surpass it enough to warrant equal billing?

I do remember the challenge to take new pieces of white paper, and to try to do even better drawings and I started putting in serious time on this now knowing that they would be shared, and, I did so enjoy his compliments. So the wall in his tiny kitchen became my first one person showing, and personal gallery, revolving new pieces, scribblings, as I finished them.

My sweet grandfather died when I was still pretty young, third grade perhaps, so never got to know him any differently than how I remember him from that perspective, and my grandmother moved from that house after he passed and the drawings were lost. He had shown me a freedom, tho, to try anything, drawing, writing, riding a horse, swinging on a high swing set, talking to camellias, it was all good to him, but, in any effort, to do your best. He was a very, wise and gentle man.

So now Mark's having put my words into paper,  is almost as humbling as my grandfather's taping of my drawing, and yet it is encouraging. Do I look for the knock on my door from a major publishing house? No, but is a very nice thing to have one's efforts appreciated, in any form.  So, what to write next? I have no idea and no control. It has been a year of merely responding to the rhythms of my life on the farm, and jotting them down. From here, what will come will come, when it comes. I will leave the muses for that job as they show up at the most unexpected times and places.

As of late I have had more time to write, than paint, or to ride, but I feel good to back semi-literate again after years of not writing. It is encouraging me to finish projects that I had begun but lacked a direction in where that they should go. There is definitely a book a head of Jack, the poor puppy. One too, on the life of my uncle, Wilson, a dear man who happened to have been one of the top 6 couture designers in the '40s, world wide, according to Vogue magazine.  This was a fact that I had not know until fairly recently, having only known him as my favorite uncle as a kid.

It was a very sweet thing for Mark to give me back my words, in a book, a one year's legacy. It was a beginning and a closure of that year's reflection, and now, it begins another. For all of the kind words from those of you who have read this year's epistles, and to those who have already bought the book, I am again humbled, and, I thank you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The day the music died...

"I read the news today, oh boy...."

A quick look at the world on the Internet today brought back to mind that today is the day that John Lennon was so stupidly killed, now the anniversary 30 years since.  It certainly doesn't seem that is was that long ago and yet three decades have passed and gone. There was an article on line about the night and the events of this murder written by a fellow who had also written a book about the events up to, and after the death. The interesting thing to me was that after this article there were comments left by folks responding to the piece. It amazed me that there could be such a diverse bunch of feelings about the meaning of his life and of his death.

When I was very young I had a record player with some characters on it that I really didn't know. Their names were Beenie and Cecil and were some cartoon drawings. The record player was often the merry go round for my Barbies or whatever toy I was playing with on that day. Sometimes I would turn the speed up to 78 and watch the toys go spinning off. For some reason that seemed hilarious to  me at the time. Other times however, the record player did what its intended purpose was and that was to play vinyl records.

I also had a small box that someone gave me for a birthday or Christmas, can't remember which, that had some 45's in it. It had some songs that I had heard on my transistor radio from the Big Bam station, and most I was clueless to who was singing on them. This was early 60's and music was evolving as it reflected a generation of change in the world. Some of the music in my box was stuff like Connie Francis, and various female singers doing sappy little ditties, and there were a few unmemorable "rock" groups that my brothers liked and thought I should know about.  I liked music and listened to these despite the lack of quality in content.

One record I did like a lot was a big 78 size vinyl that was thick as a brick, a rich dark black color with a purple label with a gold scripted title. It was "The Waltz of the Flowers" by Tchaikovsky, a lovely 3/4 time dance from the Nutcracker Suite. There was a story that went with it about some mice in a garden who needed to escape from a cat who had found them. As the music plays and builds in intensity the mice brilliantly decide to take the flower blossoms they were hiding behind and wear them as camouflage. Carefully adorned with blooms, they waltzed their way out of the garden and away from the non suspecting cat.

I don't think the story that came with this recording had anything to do with the original story of the Nutcracker Suite and its dancing sugar plums, nutcrackers, and very strange uncles bearing magical gifts. It has been way too long since I have watched that to know. My little mouse story with them all dancing in flowers grabbed my imagination and I listened to this one for hours, imagining the joyful escape of these silly mice. I liked to think that had I been with them that maybe I would have come up with such a plan of evading the evil cat. It made me very happy every time I heard it. Just now I pulled it up on my iphone and once again I am back whirling with mice across a lovely green lawn to the sweeping sounds of violins, ....

The waltz was a long recording, a classical label, compared to the pop 45's, that only lasted for a minute or so. Songs that played on the radio had to be snappy and quick because the attention span of an average listener was presumed to be brief and their knowledge limited.  They were right. The recording world was starved for quality. It was a dark period not unlike the Dark Ages before the Renaissance. Then came the Beatles, and everything changed.

My brothers were older by a few years than I was, but infinitely more savvy about the world, and music in particular, as they went to school and were hearing about new groups from their friends. They somehow got an album of this group, the Beatles. The cover showed an outrageously long haired group of four lads smiling down from a balcony. It was the first collection/album of pop music that I had seen, as full big albums were for grownups and their music. These guys were from Great Britain and wore really weird suits but there music was captivating. It quickly became my brothers' and my favorite group and we waited impatiently for the next album to be produced.  

My mother worked at a fabulous toy store in a big modern shopping center, Normandale, about this time and regularly brought us home cool toys that had just hit the store. I suspect that she spent most of what she earned on this activity, but my brothers and I had no problem with the situation at all. It suited our plans just fine. On one day she brought home the best one tho. She somehow managed to grab two Beatle wigs for my brothers, a shaggy pile of dark fake hair with bangs and fuzz that reached over the ears.

Back in this time, hair for boys and men was short, really short. My dad had been a recent soldier in Korea and he too had very cropped hair and kept it tidy with some good awful crud called butch wax. My brothers both had buzzed tops and little short bangs that were held stiffly upward by using this pink goo. So for them to wear these wigs was making a statement. We had a great afternoon that day all taking turns wearing the wigs and playing air guitars using tennis racquets. Mom took lots of snap shots of us laughing and listening to the music of these guys, rocking back and forth like Paul did. Then dad came home.

My memory is fuzzy about the whole thing now, but I do recall mom crying, the wigs being thrown in the garbage can, a lot of loud bellowing about how disrespectful, horrifying, and how wrong it was for his boys to be dressing up like a bunch of girls playing loud raucous music. It was not a good end to the afternoon. I personally felt the anger was not proportional to the scene, but in retrospect it reflected the gap that was to become bigger as the 60's moved along, led larger by the changes that were influenced by this group of four. The wigs didn't stay long but the love of these guys' music did, for us and for an entire world wide generation.

The Beatles broke every record for sales probably ever done, but it was how they changed fashion, attitudes, music of course, videos of themselves ( the beginning of the MTV thing), visual arts, nearly every facet of the 60's were influenced by the talent and charisma of the four. The hard part for most girls was trying to decide which Beatle she liked the best, John, Paul, Ringo, or George,  and usually it was a tight race between Paul and John.  

My intent is not to give a history lesson, because the generation that knew them and grew up with them, worshiped the Beatles. It is the following generations that don't know what it felt like back then, and don't know what the void was like before the Beatles filled the airways with their songs. We were so surprised once when Mark and I were driving somewhere with our baby sitter and Beatle's song came on the radio. We asked her if she knew the group and she said no. We told her and she was stunned to know that Paul McCartney had been in a band before Wings, his then current one. We were stunned that  a phenomenon that shaped our lives could be in total ignorance of another's.

My guess is today that the comments I read after the article were by younger folks than myself and do not know the collective deep sorrow we all felt when Howard Cossell announced on the air of a Monday Night Football game, that John Lennon had been shot. I remember it vividly, when it happened, the shock, and the waste.

I will toast John's life and his passing tonight, and give thanks that I was lucky enough to be there during his life and career.