Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer sang in me

Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Not knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Monday, June 25, 2007

For the Beauty of the Earth

For the beauty of the earth, for the splendor of the skies,
for the the love which from our birth
over and around us lies:
Source of all, too thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of ear and eye, for the heart and mind's delight,
for the mystic harmony linking sense to sound and sight:
Source of all, too thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night,
hill and dale and tree and flower, sun and moon and stars of light:
Source of all, too thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

For the joy of human care, sister, brother, parent, child,
for the kinship we all share, for all gentle thoughts and mild:
Source of all, too thee we raise this, our hymn of grateful praise.

Text: Folliot S. Pierpoint Music: Conrad Kocher; Adapted

All pictures taken in my garden with the exception of the moon rising, which was taken in Kilnaboy, County Clare, Ireland & of my sisters , my father & me, which was taken in Dousman, WI. All taken in May or June, 2007.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Locket

While traveling in Scotland, Anne and I stopped at an antique store in a little village. It was here that I purchased a Victorian locket. Although I know nothing about its previous owner, the locket called to me since I first saw it.

I have always enjoyed antiques and have collected them since I was a teenager. Many of my antiques have family history behind them. I have a spinning wheel that has been passed down on my grandma's side of the family for generations, a clock that was in my uncle's family, dishes from my grandmother, quilts made by my mother and her mother. Recently my aunt sent me two antiques plates - one hand painted and signed and dated. It turns out it was painted the same year my home was built. I love it! My 1930s kitchen set was refinished by my mom.

I remember my first antique purchase. My mom and I went to the home of my grandmother's "egg man" - a farmer who sold her fresh eggs on a weekly basis. He was selling his farm and invited us over to purchase any items we liked. I bought a rocking chair that now sits in my guest bedroom. I was 14 and I paid $10 for it.

I treasure these items. They are like old friends to me. I am a sentimental person and I like the history that surrounds them, even if I don't know all of it. I often wonder why people let antiques be sold out of families. I have a difficult time understanding how family history could be sold.

However, now my house is filled to the brim. So, I have started looking at antique jewelry. I have some antique jewelry that has been passed on to me. I have my grandma's wedding band, my mother's engagement ring. I have a few great pieces of my grandma's old costume jewelry. My mom had a beautiful locket with my dad's picture in it. My sister now has it and I have seen her wear it with pride. And, I have a very small little locket that was my mom's. However, she never put pictures in it, probably due to its size.

When I first saw this locket in Scotland I asked the price. Quickly converting English pounds to dollars, I didn't think I could afford it. Anne and I walked out of the store and wandered around the village a bit and sat by the sea. Finally I said I wanted to go back to the store and look at the locket again. While examining it I asked again what the price was. The lady quoted me a price of 20 pounds less then she originally stated. I felt it was an omen (although obviously a mistake on her part). I bought the locket.

The locket is heart shaped. The area when the chain would go is shaped like a ribbon tied into a bow. Both the front and back are finely etched with vines and flowers. In the middle of the front are the initials "EL." Inside are two pictures. From what I can tell the pictures were probably taken in the 1930s or 1940s. The are both of men, one in a military uniform. I have determined (with the help of several other people) that they are not the same man, but quite possibly related, maybe brothers.

Who was "EL"? Who are the men? Was EL their mother, their sister, aunt? Where they her brothers, her lovers, father or uncles? How did this locket end up in an antique store in a little village in Scotland? Was EL Scottish? Was she German and the locket spoils of WWII? When did she live and die? When did the men live and die?

While driving, Anne and I decided to give her a name. Anne suggested Ellen, which I immediately agreed to (I have a cousin named Ellen). We tossed around a few last names beginning with L. I looked up to see a sign post pointing towards the village of Logie. Hence, Ellen Logie was born. But, still, so many questions remain that will never be answered.

I think of the jewelry I have. The first year we were together, Gotti gave me a beautiful dragonfly necklace for my birthday. I was speechless when I saw it, it is so lovely. I commented that it was the most beautiful dragonfly I had ever seen. He looked at me and said, "Honey, that's a butterfly, not a dragonfly!" I looked at it again. Most definately a dragonfly! I pointed out the differences to him. We laughed about it and still do. And, every single time I wear the necklace I smile at the thought of "Gotti's butterfly." And I wear it with the love with which it was given to me.

Yet, in 50 or 60 years will this dragonfly treasure of mine end up in an antique store? Will some woman ponder over it? Will she wonder where it came from? Gotti, upon hearing these questions, sweetly suggested that it would be passed on to our grandchildren. I hope so. I also hope the tender story that is part of it, is also passed along.

In the meantime, I intend to take good care of EL's locket. I plan to find the appropriate antique chain for it. I will wear it in her honor and also for the men whose pictures are kept tucked away inside. And as I do with all of my "old" things, I will preserve it and keep it safe.

Monday, June 04, 2007


I recently returned from a trip to both Ireland and Scotland. I went to Ireland to meet up with my gal pal, Anne. I spent 3 days at her home in County Clare and then the 2 of us flew into Edinburgh for over a week of touring the country side of Scotland. I had a fabulous time!

I love Anne's house. She remodeled in 2004, adding a lot of space to her 80+ year old house. It has the traditional deep windows and peet fire place of the cottage it once was. She has a great kitchen and I love sitting there, sipping tea and talking.

Highlights of my time in Ireland include meeting Anne's beau, Michael (great guy), visiting with her mom and sister, Helen. A short visit to Ned, now in his late 80s, and dinner with Anne's daughter, Melissa. I also helped Anne and Michael move a small herd of her cattle from one field to another, down about a mile of roads. Thanks, Michael, for putting me BEHIND the cattle! I also enjoyed a 3-mile walk where I had my own epiphany about life and love.

I really didn't know what to expect in Scotland. We had no real set plan until we got there and sat in the rented car and said, "Now what?"

The first night we made it to right outside St. Andrews. For most of the trip we stayed in B&Bs, always trying to get one of the outskirts of a little town or village so that we could walk to a pub or restaurant for dinner. This really worked out well, although we should have stopped earlier a couple of times as it was difficult to find a good B&B as it got later in the day.

Truthfully, Scotland wasn't high on my list of places to visit, but I have completely changed my mind. It is a beautiful country with much diversity in its landscape. The roads are very easy to follow (if you can figure out the roundabouts!) and the sign posts are very frequent. Plus, the people are awesome.

We drove up the coastal highway towards Inverness. This isn't a "highway" by American standards. It is a well-marked, 2 lane road. We made several stops along the way. At one point we got off the highway and took a small road through 2 villages until we reached the sea. Both villages were charming. We walked along the road by the sea and watched a woman riding her horse on the beach. At the next village we went into a lovely antique store where I purchased an antique locket. More about the locket in another post. It was a delightful way to spend some time and a beautiful day - the sea was lovely.

Also, while on this road we had to stop as a farmer was moving his cows from the field to the barn. He had a working sheep dog helping him - in fact doing all of the work. I got a real kick out of this and stood outside the car so I could watch the dog at work. That dog was having a great time.

Every day we stopped for tea and, of course, a little something to go with it! Near the end of our trip I did find a place that made plain old coffee. Yipee! It is easy to find latte's and the like, but not basic coffee.

One of the most beautiful sights was the green fields against the setting of another crop that was in full bloom. The blooms were a bright yellow - just beautiful. I can't remember the name of the crop, but they use it to make oil that they use for cooking. The yellow against the green was something I will always remember.

We stayed in Inverness one night and then drove up a little further north to visit a castle. However, we got there just as it closed and back tracked, staying again near Inverness. We spend the next day shopping and looking around Inverness before heading down through the middle of the country.
We spent a couple of days traveling down the "loch highway." Now, I had heard of Loch Ness and the Loch Ness monster. I didn't realized (not really studying Scotland before I went) that the lochs run down basically the center of the country and are surrounded by mountains. Some of the mountains were high enough to have snow on the tops and a tree line. This made for more beautiful sightseeing.

We drove to the other side of Scotland to the port town of Oban. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain. After a nice lunch and a couple of quick stops, we drove on towards Stirling. Anne had agreed to tour the castle there with me. Let me point out that Anne really doesn't enjoy touring castles or old houses/buildings, which is something I just love.
We weren't able to find a B&B in Stirling so we drove north to another little village where we stayed in a lovely old house. Again, we walked into town for our evening meal. There we met a man who is married to an American. He was also thrilled and actually knew where Milwaukee was because he owns a Harley! He and his wife moved back to his hometown and opened a coffee shop. So, of course, the next morning we stopped in for a latte.

We returned to Stirling and toured the castle. By this time I had come down with a terrible cold, so even though I enjoyed myself, I was pretty miserable the whole day. When we were done we drove into Edinbourgh.

More to come . . . .