About the writer

Writer, blogger, photographer, breast cancer survivor. I write about whatever strikes my fancy as I meander through life.

traditional folk music and old friends

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Last evening thanks to Tredyffrin Library in Tredyffrin Township I had a real treat: being able to listen to traditional folk music and to see an old friend.

When I was a little girl I had a friend named Aubrey Atwater.  After grade school we went our separate ways but as adults reconnected via e-mail and Facebook. She and her husband Elwood Donnelly live in Rhode Island and are folk singers who specialize in traditional American and Celtic folk music and dance.  They are known as Atwater-Donnelly. Thanks to them and artists like them, a very beautiful form of music (like the music performed by the Carter family and Jean Ritchie , for example) and story telling are preserved.

My childhood friend and her lovely husband actually have quite the following and in recent years have been at more local locations to us, like the Philadelphia Folk Festival.  Although based in Rhode Island they have traveled extensively with their music for over 25 years not only in the U.S. but Ireland, England, and Canada. They have produced seven books, thirteen recordings, and have also been featured in a documentary.

Aubrey and Elwood have beautiful voices and they play such an amazing range of instruments.  Among the instruments they play which I love are the banjo, mandolin, and dulcimer.  They play as a duo and with their band. I am in awe of their talent.

If you want to check them out, visit their website. Many thanks to the Tredyffrin Township Library on Upper Gulph Road for scheduling such a fun event!

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very cool gardening thing: historic blue garden restored

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Imagine an amazing blue garden. Once one existed. Now once again, it is a reality.

The photos in this post were sent to me by my high school classmate from Shipley, Tina Rovito Bemis. She and her husband own a plant nursery in Massachusetts called Bemis Farms Nursery.

Tina is always doing cool gardening stuff, but yesterday she went to a reception in Newport, Rhode Island celebrating the restoration of an amazing and historically important garden.

Tina played a part in the restoration of this cool blue piece of history. Tina grew 1500 of the blue plants used in the complete restoration of the Blue Garden at Beacon Hill House, Newport, RI. This garden was designed a century ago by Frederick Olmsted, Jr.

Tina was commissioned to grow these blue plants by the property’s new owner, Main Liner and Philadelphian, Dodo Hamilton. Unbelievably this amazing undertaking of historic preservation and restoration was met with some controversy in Newport, Rhode Island. Fortunately it all worked itself out and the garden was restored.

As a gardener I am in awe of majestic gardens such as these. I am so proud of my friend for being part of it!

Tina was kind enough to share all of the photos!

Enjoy the view!
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mind meandering

DSC_4228As I begin this post it has no title.  It is just one of those things I woke up a few hours ago thinking about, so here we are.

I was wondering if as we age we give ourselves permission to be more our true or authentic selves?

Maybe I will just call this post what it is: a flowing stream of consciousness.

Yesterday I was thinking about high school.  I wasn’t part of any special clique, I had friends in all groups.  But I do remember the very real high school pressure to belong to one group or the other. To me, it never felt quite right, so I floated.

I remember girls and guys I knew even back then, and even in a private school, being bullied by their peers in different groups.  Like a very preppy and civilized Jets vs. Sharks.

To this day the memories are so strong for some of these people that they never even come back for reunions.  I work on my reunions so  I think about this stuff when we are planning parties. The funny thing is I realized years ago again how these people who were pack leaders and bullies don’t really matter and never really did.  As a matter of fact when these former pack leaders do show up at reunions I marvel at how little they have changed and it always strikes me as a little bit sad.

DSC_0137It sounds kooky to think that as adults we still can judge from the vantage point of our younger selves, but I have had other friends who also work on their reunions say the same things as me.  As a matter of fact I remember once friend who planned her reunion being all worried about this one group of girls coming to her home as she was hosting the reunion party.  And she has this awesome house and a terrific family of her own and has accomplished so much.  Yet all these years later she was still worried at first until she realized she didn’t have to measure up in their eyes then or now.

What I have noticed is for every stage of life, there are people like that.  Unhappy, malcontented people who essentially seem to like to make people unhappy and/or sit and judge with a misplaced sense of entitlement or superiority.  My ex and some of his siblings are in that category. I am sure they hate being mentioned in my writing (and I have no clue as to why they still follow me) , but they were part of my life experience. And I have never said they were horrible people 24/7 because they weren’t.  There was always just this hum about them, running underneath.

I will admit I never got to know most of these siblings particularly well.  I was never allowed to by my ex, so it was an observer’s existence for me.  In the early years when I would try to get to know them as in call to say hello, or send an e-mail I was always met with an angry wall of “Why are you contacting them? ” so eventually I stopped.  It was funny spending 8 1/2 years with people as “family” with restrictions. What was even more strange, knowing myself, is that became normal to me.

If these people had stayed in my life or I in theirs, I would have ended up an angry and bitterly unhappy person at a minimum.  I didn’t realize any of this until I was out and he had left.  Then, all of a sudden one day a few weeks after he was gone, when I really wasn’t thinking about it, life was better and I could breathe. My point in all this is I had know idea until I was out how much these people had changed me. How I had allowed myself to be changed, as in molded.  This was the first time I had pretty much denied who I was for the trade-off of “fitting in”.  I learned by almost losing myself how bad that is. It’s a crazy realization.

DSC_4249I have noticed that as I get older and water continues to seek its own level, that these unhappy and malcontented types still sort of bunch up together. It is as if they know subconsciously as individuals their weaknesses and ill humor towards others won’t be tolerated.  Maybe it is a pack mentality of sorts?

There is this one group of women, whom I actually don’t know so I can’t say as I understand what is so awful in their lives that they have to be so miserable, yet they are.  They literally meet for tea and scones.  It seems so civilized and sweet and country folksy, only what it is no better than a gossip club.  They rip people up one side and down the other (myself included which is so funny because they have never met me and don’t know me, it’s because I am a blogger and shock and horrors different from them), and for what?  What does it gain them in the end? Nothing.

There was a group like this in my Main Line neighborhood growing up.  The leader kept binoculars on her kitchen windowsill. Her house was up on a hill so with a good pair of binoculars she could check out everyone around her.  If there was a strange car in your driveway, the phone would literally ring and it would be her inquiring as to who was visiting you and why.

The leader and ladies would literally meet once a week with a brown bag lunch.  They would report on the happenings and transgressions and presumed transgressions of the neighbors. They actually called themselves a gossip club, amusingly enough.  It gained them nothing, either.  At first they were sort of feared, eventually they were just ignored.

I guess it just fascinates me that as we age and become more comfortable with who we are, the more people feel the need to question that from the outside.  And sometimes these people don’t necessarily have a strong voice, but they have a loud voice that at first gives the presumption of authority, but eventually all realize they are just loud and self-important. Not truly strong beings to be either feared or emulated.  It gets to a point where you have to stop and turn and think about who are these people and do we really care what they think in the big picture?

The answer isn’t necessarily simple because as human beings it is human nature to want to belong.  But what you realize as you get older is you don’t actually have to belong where you think you do and you will find plenty of people who are happy to know you just as you are.

DSC_4302What I have realized about myself is that over the years I have suffered collateral damage emotionally.  I think we all do indeed suffer emotional damage that to an extent.  It is what you do with that experience that matters.  Do you let it sour you, or do you look at it for what it is: life experience and learn and move forward?

Life is a gift.  If we are alive and kicking, why can’t that fuel happiness?  I guess at the end of the day I will never understand the truly miserable.  It must be sad and exhausting to be them.

Be true to yourself. Or learn to one baby step at a time. People are just people at the end of the day and as adults we can freely choose who it is we wish to be around.

Be happy and learn to breathe freely.

Thanks for stopping by.