Sunday, January 26, 2014

Music for Sunday

Apparently, I need to start getting back into the habit of posting music for Sundays on a regular basis, if I want to stay in the loop of the Indie music scene. The first music video I am sharing below is a prime example of one good reason why. ... >>> I had no idea Chase Kimball could sing! He has such an amazing voice, which complements singer/songwriter Keiyana Osmond so well. You see, this young man used to be a playmate of my daughter's, and they began toddling around the neighborhood when they were 3 and 4. Plus, I love Maroon 5, so it all adds up to a perfect pleasant little surprise.

I've featured Keiyana's original music video previously, Dancin on a Wire here.

The other music video I am sharing for Sunday features a blend of classical music and loons. Yes, those beautiful, haunting melodies of one of Earth's most ancient birds. These are the sounds that I wake up to on summer mornings in New Hampshire. They also help tuck in the evening at the end of a good day. I miss hearing their songs immensely, and can not wait until I return to Lake Winnipesaukee once again. Jim Irwin's music with loons is also a nod to the latest novel I am working on, set in New Hampshire. I hope to have it done by summer's end. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

My Cherokee Connection

My great-great-great grandmother was Cherokee. 100% through and through.

For years I have wondered what to do with this information. Can I really claim this ancestry as a part of me?

From the time I was very young--before I even knew of my Cherokee connection--I held a strong affinity for Native Americans. I poured over their photographs held in timeless, old bound books I found in libraries, wishing at times, I could somehow seep into the pages. I read their stories told in childhood storybooks. And I admired their reverence for nature, and the inherent respect they held for taking care of the land. Sure, they may have fought with other tribes from time to time -- they are human, after all -- but they seemed to carve out a meaningful existence within their environment and a lived with a reverent respect for higher beings and for each other. I liked that.

It wasn't until I was in college that I found out I actually had Native American genes running through my blood; and when I learned this information, I felt guilty. After all, the other European ancestry that I carry along with me was at least in some way or another responsible for the eradication of entire Native American cultures from our country. I didn't feel worthy to hold such a connection.

A Cherokee Rose
Now that I'm older, I feel an overwhelming sense of curiosity about my Cherokee grandmother. What was she like? What made her turn back from the Trail of Tears and settle down and marry a man from Tennessee? Because according to family stories, she actually was a part of the Trail of Tears relocation. Did she bring other family members back to Tennessee with her? Did she leave the Trail to go back to others who had somehow been left behind? Did she even leave her Cherokee nation willfully and the new "home" to which it was being forced to move to? Whatever her journey, I'm sure that the path she took wasn't without loss or some kind of another, and once again that makes me feel sad. Yet, she did stay with our family. Her family, in order to farm in the mountains of Tennessee. And she had many children. The fact that some of those children went on to fight with the Union army in the Civil War leads me to believe that some of her values and insights might have had an effect on their decision on which side to stand. After all, Tennessee was part of the Confederacy. The sons that joined the war most certainly saw and knew battle before they even got a taste of it, because most of the Civil War battles took place in Tennessee, second only to Virginia. So, it wasn't like they didn't know what they were getting into. Yet, those sons of a Cherokee mother choose to fight against those who held slaves--people who were forced from their homelands, against their will. They chose to fight to help ensure the freedom of a culture that was different from their own. For this, I feel grateful. And I admire their bravery.

Someday I hope to have a clearer understanding of my Cherokee heritage and the woman who so far, has left only a few discernible footprints that are few and far between. 

If you'd like to learn a bit more about Cherokee history and the Trail of Tears, go here. It's an easy site to get around. Thank you for visiting!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year! 2014 Resolutions and Revelations

Okay, so I'm a few days late and many dollars short, given that I've just been whirled through the holidays by teens that have an insatiable thirst for activities that involve dips into my wallet where they believe lies an unlimited stash of cash. Ha! That's all I will say on the matter.

But since it is 2014, I thought I'd share a couple revelations and resolutions I've dug up in the past few days of the new year.

First, some new activities are apparently in order. My first dream of the new year was the curious nightmare of my being drafted onto the National Men's All-Star Basketball Team. Curious, yes, especially since I have never in my life played a serious game of basketball outside of PIG, HORSE, and Around the World--and I must add, never once did I ever win one of those. The self-respecting basketball-playing-brother with whom I did play in my younger years never allowed it. Which lends perfect sense to the ending to the aforementioned curious nightmare of the new year, where the dream-team captain suggested I start things off with hitting the court to practice some simple lay-ups.

Simple? This is me we are talking about. And it never ceased to boggle the mind (especially that of my 6-foot-4 basketball-playing dad) as to how I could jump onto the back of any good-natured horse within reach, but couldn't dribble a ball and manage to hop and shoot at the same time. Go figure.

Being one to never walk away from digging up the meaning of vivid dreams like this, I think I finally can say that its foundation lies in two realities. One: the fact that lately I've been watching basketball games while I run on the treadmill at the gym. This always makes time fly since the game moves too fast for me to keep track of, combined with the fact that I only have a screen to view, but no commentary to fill me in on what is going on. (No, I don't like the feeling of ear buds in my ears). So I am left running in a state of perpetual confusion and distraction -- which is a good thing, if you really don't want to know where you are at in terms of distance traveled or calories burned.

And Two: I've come to the resolution to begin seriously writing again, and since I've been out of the serious writing game for more than a couple years for more than a couple tumultuous reasons that deserve no fleshing out here -- we're all human, so you can fill in whatever details you'd like -- I am definitely going to have to start easing back in to writing with the basics. Although I do hope it is more like riding a bike, rather than learning to play a new sport like professional basketball.

Now that I've shared this resolution, I feel like I'm stepping out on to a stage, and since I've already been published and should have made a bit more progress by now, I kind of feel like the world will be watching. (But since my world is relatively small, maybe it actually won't be all that bad).

Now on to revelations. First of all, my friend Rick pointed out that 2014 is the year of the Valentine, due to the fact that it is made up of those two numbers that pinpoint that annual day of love: 2 and 14. So, that is good. I'm all for love, and now I will be reminded of it every day all year long, thanks to the astute and positive outlook of my friend Rick Walton (who happens to also be an amazing and talented children's writer -- go on, google his name for yourself, and treat a little person in your life to one of his awesome creations.)

The second revelation came to me in a chain email from my mom, who was hoping that by sharing it would bring her lots of good luck. Time will tell in that regard, but I'm sharing the tidbit of info gleaned here (and since I didn't forward the email, perhaps this will count in not breaking the chain and dousing my life with bad luck): The upcoming month of August will have 5 full weekends! This is not a common occurrence apparently. So if you like your weekends, then August will be a happy month for you. And if you're not like me, you'll probably want to start planning now~

There you have it. A resolution and a couple revelations. I feel like my welcoming in of the new year is now complete.

Happy Valentine's Year! (And feel free to share your own resolutions and/or revelations here. Because honestly, if I were to put my own items to a list, it would be rather short.)