Monthly Archives: May 2012

How I got in a fine fettle with Monet

“Take clear water with grass waving at the bottom. It’s wonderful to look at, but to try to paint it is enough to make one insane.” ~ Claude Monet

Insane or not with the help of a great deal from Living Social ($17) and a fun company called Wine & Canvas, I had a great time painting my very own rendition of Monet’s Water Lilies, 1916, including working to capture that grass waving at the bottom.

Enjoying working on a “masterpiece” on a recent night of 52 Dates with Myself

Nearly 30 of us – one or two brave men among all the women – met at The Factory restaurant in Fort Wayne and enjoyed an evening of painting, singing, and – for those so inclined – a glass of wine. (The singing to Don McLean’s, Bye, Bye, Miss American Piewas impromptu, not included in the price of the “date,” and indicative of the relaxed and fun atmosphere.)

I’d always wanted to take a painting class just to see what might be secretly waiting to erupt on canvas. This was a great way to dip in and try my hand, to make a start.

My impression so far is as Monet once said,

“No, I’m not a great painter. Neither am I a great poet.”

Of course, we all know his criticism of himself was quite unfounded. Of me, it’s apropos.

Never mind that! I’m a work in progress and for now along with Monet, I find,

“I’m in a fine fettle and fired with a desire to paint.”

Ponder & Chat: What are you in a “fine fettle and fired with desire” to do? How can we encourage you to begin?

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Categories: "Cheap" Dates, Artistic Dates, Date Ideas, Date Night, Pure Fun, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why I See Arlington Through Different Eyes Now

Photo taken on my visit to Fort Snelling National Cemetery, Minneapolis, Minnesota

“When we were visiting here all those years ago, we could never have dreamed we would one day be here for something like this.”

Yet here we were on the first Friday of September 2011 following behind the caisson of a young Army Captain killed in the line of duty. This special young man and dear friend to my daughter, also an Army Captain, had left a clear message that he had died doing what he loved to do. Indeed, what he felt called to do. Nevertheless, the bitterness of losing him tragically permeated our hearts and lives. Burying him in Arlington has forever changed these hallowed acres for me. Now more than ever, I understand

  • there’s an amazing life story that can never be adequately represented by a simple granite stone.
  • the ongoing sense of honor and comradeship encapsulated in a soldier’s final request to be forever laid to rest near others who have served, and perhaps paid the ultimate price for doing so.
  • the haunting collective and individual beauty encapsulated in the precise angles and lines of row upon row of white headstones.
  • the true sense of the cost of war.
  • the honor and gratitude due those resting within and those left standing afterwards.
On this Memorial Day, I hope you took time to reflect on those who have served our nation in the armed forces. And perhaps one of your 52 Dates with Yourself might be a visit to one of our national cemeteries. Consider taking some flowers with you to leave as a token of thanks for some of those resting there.
Ponder & Chat: For a complete list of U.S. National Cemeteries click here. What National Cemeteries have you visited? What stories did you discover on your visit?
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A Lesson in Renewal – A Dry Spell

Stores are dangerous places for me this time of year! They flaunt vegetable plants, herbs, flowers, and gorgeous pots in all colors knowing that I am addicted! I’m weak. Really, I think I may be helpless. Ok, I know I’m not helpless, but I am vulnerable. To the point that I could probably use a good-looking secret service type protector (non-Columbia model, of course).

Vulnerability struck a couple of weeks ago, and even though I knew I was heading out for a nine-day trip, I bought a beautiful peat pot of basil. It contained four thriving plants. They all proudly stood on the shelf and called my name. As they rode around the store in the shopping cart with me, I swear I heard them mocking the other plants. They even chided me for putting them in a grey plastic bag for the ride home in the car.

Soon, I had them temporarily settled on the counter to await their garden fate. Then, as fate would have it, there they would remain for nine long days. Alone, in the dark, lifeless room, straining for sun that would also steal their last remaining drops of moisture.

Upon my return, I gasped at their bedraggled and lifeless state. They didn’t respond at all to my cooing and self-flagellation. They were spent. All pride gone. Lifeless.

Regardless, I bathed them gently with tap water and soaked their peat base to the point of saturation.

I wasn’t sure, but thought I heard a bit of complaining, “Now, you come?”

Guiltily, I left them and proceeded to post-trip activities, unpacking, laundry, sorting nine days of mail. Every once in a while, I’d look in on the basil and drop an encouraging and gentle word.

“You can do it. I know it’s hard, but dig deep from your roots. You have strength you’re not aware of for this journey.”

Reaching for the sun once again! My basil plant that went through a “dry spell.”

Sure enough, within 24 hours, life had returned. No, they are not to their former glory. They have a bit of a bend now. But there are helps for that sort of thing. Besides, they’ve not even met their new home yet – a bright pot with rich, dark soil and a prime patio location.

Perhaps best of all, they have a new appreciation for their strength and ability to return even from a bit of a dry spell. A lesson even a plant junkie can appreciate.

Categories: Garden dates, Reflections, Relaxing Dates, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the Garden

“It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought.”  ~James Douglas, Down Shoe Lane

Lovely date this morning just enjoying the fruits of yesterday’s labor in the garden and pondering the moments of today yet to come.

A dove visiting with me in my garden this morning

There are days of back-breaking labor when I despise and curse the retired woman whose love of nature spawned these many beds. But this morning as the dove coos, the woodpecker taps, and the yellow finches flit and dance among the sage and salvia, I perch in the midst of gentle morning breezes breathing in the aroma of lavender, mint, and roses and bless her.

A butterfly perches herself on a knot hole near pink clematis

A butterfly lands nearby just beneath a knot hole in the fence post. I want to snap a photo of her lovely wings, but she closes them as if to tell me her morning thoughts are hers alone. Ah, the flower garden paparazzi never relents and snaps away regardless.

Not without cost, however, for as the camera focuses, I see where yesterday’s gardener missed culling some dead branches from the pink clematis. Shoot!

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Why is what you do today important?

What you do with today

More wisdom from this week’s adventure in 52 Dates with Myself

Categories: Challenges, Commitment, Reflections, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

If you never did, you should…

Dr. Seuss Quote

Dr. Seuss wisdom discovered on one of my 52 Dates with Myself

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A Mother’s Day Date with Nosey Flynn

"Oh, I've never seen old Ireland o'er the ocean
Tho' I've wished for the chance to greet it
In my mind I've always had a crazy notion
That I'd know a bit of Irish when I meet it."

(Stanza from "Did Your Mother Come From Ireland?"

McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Nashville, Tennessee

This date doesn’t get to count as one of 52 Dates with Myself – but since I get to make up the rules of my dating game, I’m sharing it anyway. Such a special date with my daughter I had this evening as we ventured out on a rainy Nashville night to McNamara’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in celebration of Mother’s Day.

David Coe, Sean McNamara, and Josh Culley of Nosey Flynn Band

Our time began in the restaurant with a “proper” cup of authentic Irish tea served with milk and sugar. We also enjoyed an appetizer of steamed mussels. Nearing 6 p.m. we moved to the pub in preparation for the music of Nosey Flynn, a bit of Hart’s Lager and a pear salad, before capping off the evening with Irish coffee and Sean McNamara’s tenor voice serenading us to “O Danny Boy.

There are lots of places to visit in Nashville and lots of country music to be found. But there’s only one McNamara’s and one Nosey Flynn band. There’s also only one person in the world who could have made it such a special date for me. Thank you, dearest daughter – light and love of this Momma’s heart!

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One Man’s Journey After the Bombing of Pan Am Flight 103

Sharing here the link to an article written by a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter on December 21, 1993, the day ground was broken at Arlington National Cemetery for the building of The Lockerbie Cairn that would memorialize the 270 souls lost on Flight 103, when it was destroyed by a terrorist bomb attack on December 21, 1988.

David O’Reilly’s article tells mostly the story of one man’s journey after the bombing, yet it also illustrates the greater bonding of human souls forged in shared grief and tragedy.

“The Women of Lockerbie,” a 90-minute play loosely based on stories from the aftermath of the bombing of Flight 103, can be seen this weekend at the Allen County Public Library. The production is presented by all for One productions, inc. For ticket information and times, click here.

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The Lockerbie Cairn

The Lockerbie Cairn – Arlington National Cemetery

Approximately eight miles southeast of Lockerbie, Scotland, lies the Corsehill Quarry of Annan, Scotland. On December 21, 1988, it was in the flight path of Pan Am Flight 103, which was destroyed by a terrorist bomb killing all 259 passengers and 11 citizens of the town of Lockerbie. Two-hundred and seventy souls lost in this attack on America.

Five years later, on December 21, 1993, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in Arlington National Cemetery for a memorial that would honor the dead. The sandstone blocks for the memorial come from the Corsehill Quarry. They were a gift from the people of Scotland, financed entirely from private donations.

A cairn is a traditional Scottish stone memorial. The Lockerbie Cairn at Arlington is constructed of 270 sandstone blocks fitted together into a circular tower rising eleven feet in the air. It consists of one stone for each person lost in the terrorist attack including 11 Lockerbie citizens killed as fragments of the plane landed on their town. The 259 passengers on the flight included citizens from 22 different countries. Among the 189 Americans on board were 15 active duty military personnel and 10 military veterans. Thirty-five were students from Syracuse University who had been studying abroad.

The sandstone from the Corsehill Quarry was also used in the construction of the base of the Stature of Liberty.

“The Women of Lockerbie,” a 90-minute fictional play loosely based on the events surrounding the attack on Flight 103, is being presented by Fort Wayne’s all for One productions, incthis weekend. For times and ticket information, click here.

Ponder & Chat: How have memorials helped you deal with grief in your life?

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You’ve Gotta Meet “The Women of Lockerbie”

“Our hurts unite us. They define us. They make us not only human, but a family.” Billy Coffey
The year 1988 began with Miami defeating Oklahoma for the college football championship. Two days later Margaret Thatcher became Britain’s longest-serving prime minister of the century. Debi Thomas and Brian Boitano became U.S. Figure Skating Champions. CBS premiered a new show called “48 Hours,” and “Phantom of the Opera” opened at New York’s Majestic Theater. Judge Anthony Kennedy received unanimous approval to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In May of 1988, the Soviets began their withdrawal from Afghanistan. In July, the U.S.S. Vincennes, a naval warship patrolling in the Persian Gulf, mistakenly shot down an Iranian commercial airbus killing all 290 people onboard.  August saw leaders from Iran and Iraq begin talks to end their eight-year war. Earthquakes and hurricanes, nuclear testing and missile launches tested human resilience and faith.
On December 21st, Pan Am’s Flight 103 exploded after leaving Heathrow Airport in London for New York. All 259 people onboard were killed, and 11 more on the ground died as the wreckage fell to earth in Lockerbie, Scotland.
Years later among the hills of Lockerbie roams an American mother looking for the remains of the son she lost in the crash of Pan Am Flight 103.  She is accompanied by her husband, who has kept things together through the required acts of finality that accompany a death, at the expense of his own grief.
The couple encounter the Women of Lockerbie, who are striving against the U.S. Government over the disposition and possession of the clothing found among the crash ruins. They are determined to convert the act of hatred into an act of love by washing the clothing pieces and returning them to the families of those killed.
Playwright Deborah Brevoort wrote The Women of Lockerbie in the structure of a Greek tragedy. The fictional work, though loosely inspired by true events, is a poetic drama about the triumph of love over hate.  It’s powerfully packed with the raw emotions that accompany grief and loss and examples of the individuality of how we walk through it.
Presented by all for One productions, inc. at the Allen County Public Library Auditorium in downtown Fort Wayne, The Women of Lockerbie runs through May 13th.  Tickets may be obtained by calling (260) 622-4610.
Ponder & Chat: When was the last time you were emotionally moved by a play or movie? What was the underlying theme that touched you? How did it relate to your own life story or life lessons?
Categories: Date Ideas, Date Night, Theater, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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