Tag Archives: cat stevens

Morning Has Broken

It’s a couple hours ’til that here and we were up late due to fireworks displays that are always done on the 3rd big-time. Nice display, not Pyro Paula but close. I think the “big city” lets the little ones have their displays on the 4th.

Leadership. I was twelve. Everyone in class was a year older and I was a teeny girl. The natives started getting restless. I asked them to stack the chairs in the back of our wonderful light-filled, wood-floored classroom and grabbed the first album I saw and placed it on the record player. The former Cat Stevens sang Morning Has Broken. Then I put on Gordon Lightfoot’s If You Could Read My Mind.

I was a dancer and early gymnast. I had everyone stand an arms’ length apart and we did a light stretching session for 30 minutes. The teacher never showed up. We ended up with a very quiet and relaxed class who got along and went on with their day.

That day, thanks to courage and the right music, I became the leader Dad always wanted me to be. I organized and calmed down 30 kids, all older than me, just by playing music and relaxing their muscles. Lean to the right, lean to the left. Try to reach your toes. Stay ten seconds, nine, eight…..

I wish schools now would do that every day, ADHD would be at a minimum! The chaos that is awakening, dressing and eating a toaster waffle and catching the bus impacts a child’s day, especially if it is me, being taunted on the school bus by three bullies down the street. They did it once, and 12 family members (kids), from them and their cousins, addressed the bullies non-violently and the bullies never spoke to me or harassed me again. I remain in touch with those families. Not the bullies.

We lived in the country, outside a small village. At birthday parties we built hay forts at the neighbors’ and ran around in cattle dung. Of course my sister and I had to wear white blouses, skirts, lace anklets and patent leather Mary Janes to do so when everyone else was in jeans or overalls and boots. You wouldn’t like to be me after the first such party at age eight. Oh no, my little sister couldn’t be blamed at all. I was responsible as the eldest.

Leadership is a gift and a burden. Dad would tell you that, may he rest in peace. I believe it is a presence and a sense of purpose, smarts, and knowing who you’re dealing with at the moment.

Years ago the light from the 2nd floor windows, bare wood floors and the music helped calm thirty unruly students when our teacher failed to attend class. At age 12 I had no teaching certificate, but at the end of that “class” everyone talked to each other and got along. That was my certificate. Happy 4th! Dee

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New Things

When I was 12 years old we moved to a very different place. We usually had only the networks and PBS for television (I liked PBS when it began showing Julia Child). OK, also Sesame Street to keep my young brother occupied for a bit.

As to music I’d always bought transistor radios and only had a few channels so it was mostly top 40. Then I met other kids who listened to Dave Mason. I tried out a lot of bands and began with Elton John, lots of famous balladeers including Joan Baez. Dylan, but was missing several components, but in gym class got to play the artist formerly known as Cat Stevens. I created a stretch class for that, no teacher, I was in 10th grade.

Our family was back north (luckily I didn’t have to shoot BB guns in gym class anymore) a year later. I was into Beatles, Bad Co. and a lot of other music.

One thing I missed was country. I thought it simple and somewhat backward but I was wrong. It is true music, granted I can probably transpose many songs into the traditional cowboy chords. Who spoke to me? Johnny Cash, CSNY (not country, but worth mentioning as well as Peter, Paul and Mary). Joan Baez, always, though her chords are too difficult for this neophyte.

At the time we laughed at Glen Campbell while singing his songs, as he is a legend in many ways. This year at the Oscars they sang a song he wrote to his family about having Alzheimers. He has done wonderful work and I love the simplicity of country songs and the lyrics these “cowboys” put to music.

Perhaps I mis-speak but I am not a fan of “entertainers” taking the stage and yelling undecipherable lewd lyrics into a microphone. I grew up with Mozart, Bach, Beethoven. I believe that folk, country and pop have a place and not just on the oldies channel.

Speaking of which, I do not yet have or use Pandora. I do not listen to music in the car as I usually only drive a couple miles per day. My guitar teacher was so pleased that I actually wanted to learn a song that came from this decade, Hey There Delilah. We parted ways and moved before that ever happened.

It just shows that anyone, musician, dancer or otherwise should always keep up with the times but also remember classical training. That is first. For cooks as well. Learn the groundwork and riff away. Cheers! Dee

Third Time a Charm?

Today is disrespect Dee Day.

It started at seven this morning. I always have a song in my heart, every morning and today it was Harry Chapin’s Taxi. I sang a few poignant words to the guys downstairs “She said how are you Harry, I said how are you Sue, Through the too many miles and two little smiles I still remember you.”

They looked at me blankly. I said that it was a 70’s song, probably before they were born, and they replied “Yeah WAY before.”

Then I finally got to the grocery where pumpkins and gourds are all over the place. I was looking at them and a woman came by that looked older than me and I asked “Does anyone do pumpkins anymore?” She replied “I do, but I have kids.” Ding #2. She didn’t have any kids with her and neither did I. Where is this coming from? I buy candy every year and no-one ever comes even though every kid in the neighborhood knows me, loves our dog and knows where we live.

I’m waiting for the third slam as things as bad things come in threes, which should be a doozie. Luckily my brother-in-law doesn’t read this blog else he’d make something up to break the bank. Calling me “sis” has its advantages!

As far as songs go I can’t predict what my mind will select but next week it may turn to the person formerly known as Cat Stevens, now Yusuf Islam. something from Tea for the Tillerman, anyone? I love having young whippersnappers tell me how old I am.

Regardless of negative comments I’m thinking about taking you with me on a journey with perhaps a slightly different storyline as I’ll be sued for publishing recipes online even with proper attribution.  The Feminist Homemaker got me hired at Sundance as a PR volunteer. If the title alone could make Sundance call me for two hour-long interviews it’s OK with me.

Hope you’re having a great day. I’m also hoping the interior window cleaners will actually show up (they didn’t last year) because the outside folks did that yesterday and it would be nice to actually see the view we pay for! Cheers, Dee

Tea for the Tillerman

As I age I realize some things I learned, and many I did not in my birth to 18 stage of life.

I had a good education in my hometown, then we moved below the Mason-Dixon Line and I was supposed to shoot a gun in gym class, as well as take classes that taught me nothing. When I moved back North, I had to take French and History and Math all over again, then won a scholarship. Small, but useful.

There were two gyms in the South, the boys’ had a gleaming wood floor. We had concrete topped with cheap tile. We got shin spints. The boys shined, as did their wood floors until a remodel was due.

When they wanted to re-do the boys’ gym, we were relocated for two months, mostly to portable classrooms so they could use our gym. Then we were actually sent to a dance studio where they played Cat Stevens.

Tea for the Tillerman. No-one taught us. We danced on our own because someone in the administration found out we were languishing in portable classrooms when they were required to teach physical education.

While I don’t know why the former Cat Stevens changed his identity (perhaps once again, because no-one names their kid Cat) I do remember him and how his music saved me from boredom in the early years.

Perhaps this was my early leadership training. We had no structure, so I made one of girls being themselves. In later years I was elected gymnastics captain two years in a row and still I was very shy and uncertain of my abilities.

When I write and remember these difficult and proud days I think of kids today dealing with drugs and bullying. We never locked our house or cars. Now I am religious in doing so. I lock car doors manually, so that someone cannot get my car code, even though we’re in a locked garage.

There was a day in 1972 when I listened to Elton John’s “Tiny Dancer” and it was Pop but it got me into folk, rock, country and got me a guitar at age 12, another at age 50. My heroes are Bob Dylan, Joan Baez. Johnny Cash, Marty Robbins, Alan Mills, Burl Ives and many others including fabled Western entertainer Juni Fisher.

Who were your musical mentors? Even if you don’t write them down, think about them as I think of my violin, piano and voice teachers. They always hold a special place in my heart. From the happy wanderer, Dee