Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wordless Wednesday The Late Edition

On Autumn's Doorstep. Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Music! Sweet Sweet Music!

I have my own particular sorrows, loves, delights; and you have yours. But sorrow, gladness, yearning, hope, love, belong to all of us, in all times and in all places. Music is the only means whereby we feel these emotions in their universality. ~H.A. Overstreet

Overstreet puts into words the mystery of why my taste in music embraces such a wide variety of genre and artists. Having been influenced at an early age by my father's love of Frank Sinatra and music of the Big Band era, during my teenage years I would have never admitted that fact outside of the confines of my yard. With age comes, hopefully, wisdom and I can bring Frank, Rosemary and Glen out of my adolescent closet and add them to my list of my 'salad days.' However, when I replay the highlight reel of the 1960s and early '70s the following 'vinyl' lp's come to mind:

#10 Donovan
Sunshine Superman and Atlantis blasted from 8-track in every van cruising up and down the street .. not to mention the parking lot at James Madison Memorial HS

#9 Tapestry
There wasn't a female in my circle of friends that did not know every word of every song on this album. And we all could not imagine Carole King 'doing it' with Neil Sedaka. EEEEWWWWW

#8 The Monkees
Before Laverne and Shirley's "Hassenpfeffer Incorporated" there was the Monkee's theme song and 'walk.' And everyone asked, "Do you know Peter Tork is from Madison (WI)?" I'm a believer!

#7 Joan Baez
This album made me realize the power of music as a medium for expressing thoughts and opinions. Joan Baez took music from beyond the beat and words to sing to a far more personal level. Music became a way to help change the hearts and minds of others - and maybe the world.

#6 McCartney
This album helped heal the wounds of not only the breakup of the Beatles but also Paul's marriage to Linda Eastman - Maybe I'm Amazed remains one of my favorite love songs to this day. Linda's photography ressenated with me and Paul's talents playing every instrument on this album was an amazement.

#5 Jim Hendrix
Awesome album ... there is nothing better when I'm in the mood for something loud, driving and totally rock and roll.

#4 Crosby Stills and Nash
Their harmony is unsurpassed. There are two albums that I continue to replace as the venue of music changes, my #1 pick and CSN&Y Four Way Street - lp, cassette, 8-track and now CD. They were a favorite but two other artists rate higher on my salad days list.

#3 Sweet Baby James
James Taylor and I have been together since high school. At my senior year talent show one of the two songs I sang was Fire and Rain. My husband played this same album during his time in the service stationed at Fort Benning Georgia so there are many memories tied up with Sweet Baby James.

#2 Abby Road
In addition to the music, reflecting for the first time the different paths each member of the group was taking, speculation of the meaning of John in white leading a barefoot Paul was rampant. Paul is dead and Is Paul dead ... it was my generation's "Amelia Earhart." One of the many memories I treasure of traveling with my mother, is the trip we made to the Abby Road Studios in St. John's Wood. I wrote on the wall in front of the studio then walked down the street to the famous crossing and took a photo of my mother in the crosswalk while I stood in the middle of the road with my camera. As they say ... priceless. I have this mental picture of Queen Liz, sitting in one of the many cavernous rooms at Bucks House, tapping her foot and softly singing along to Her Majesty. It does make one smile and I can't help but think ... I am amused.

#1 Beatles White Album

This album was such a force during the time of its release that the English department at James Madison Memorial HS added The White Album to its curriculum. Dissecting the words to Rocky Raccoon remains as one of my favorite class projects.

Text: Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Friday, August 15, 2008

Parlez-vous Family-Speak?

Jeff Scherwinski, circa 1980. Photo in possession of Cindy Scherwinski; Bergeron Family Papers

Somewhere in my library of treasured research books, buried within the chapters and paragraphs is a sentence that forever changed my approach to family history research. While I cannot recall the exact quote, or give credit to the author, in essence it said that every family needs someone designated as the Keeper of Everything. Up until that moment, I viewed myself as someone who's hobby was genealogy. Now I came to the realization that I was more than just the person that everyone tried to avoid at family reunions - the cousin/sister/aunt ("don't ask her how we are related!") chasing people down asking for family event places and wanting to know who has the personal effects of great Aunt Ruby. I was now The Keeper of Everything in my family. This designation includes recording for posterity, the 'isms of our family. My father's contributions will fill an entire chapter all by itself.

But without a doubt, one of my favorite family phrases was uttered one summer evening by my son, Jeff.

Four generations circa August 1975
Left to right: Alma Polar Space, Cindy Bergeron Scherwinski holding Christopher John Scherwinski, Phyllis Space Bergeron. Photo in possession Cindy Scherwinski; Space Family Papers

It was apparent from a very early age that Jeff had inherited his Grandmother Bergeron and his father's artistic talents. There was no detail too small that would escape Jeff's attention, eventually making its way onto his drawing paper. I have always wished I could see the world through his eyes; I'm convinced that the colors are brighter and the miniscule loom large. To this day, I treasure time spent with Jeff. We share a love of music and all things celtic and he shows me the delights of this world that I might otherwise miss. During the summer of Jeff's tenth birthday, he found a Blue-spotted Salamander and kept the discovery to himself until he shared his secret with me but only after I promised not to tell anyone else (aka his brothers). Jeff wanted to keep the intrusion on the salamander to a minimum to insure that he (and I) could observe it whenever we wanted - which we did until the first frost appeared in early autumn.

If memory serves me correct, one of my favorite Jeff-ism's, appeared to have come out of the blue one evening at the dinner table, all though I'm sure he had been mulling this particular thought over for quite some time.

"Too bad Grandma Space never had any kids of her own."

What followed was a painfully detailed explaination that I viewed as the perfect opportunity to share my love of genealogy with my family. More than likely it was at this moment my children came to the realization that they should never ask the line of descent from any name, living or dead, that does not found familiar to them without expecting a long dissertation.

My delight in enlightening my family to the wonders of genealogy was met with a lot of blank stares, that deer in the headlights look I find oh so often at those family reunions. What seemed obvious to me - Grandma Bergeron is Grandma Space's daughter - just wasn't registering with Jeff. In the middle of yet one more way to explain why Grandma Bergeron was Grandma Space's child, Jeff interrupted me with the plea ...

"Mom. Just cut that in half."

Is it any wonder Art Linkletter made a bundle on "Kids Say The Darnest Things."

Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski

Monday, August 11, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

                                                                                      Photographer: Al Scherwinski

As a lifelong resident of Wisconsin, I look forward to the changing of the seasons. The move from winter to spring to summer to autumn and back again cannot be marked off any one specific day as we do a birthday or a holiday. It is the rhythm of life. The change from summer to fall is more than just a date on the calendar - it begins as a subtle, oh-my-gosh-when-did-that-happen change in the air. The sun makes its appearance a few minutes later each morning, the color of the late afternoon sun sets the stage for spectacular show of light at the end of the day. The sound of a cicada might go unnoticed among the crickets and the nighthawks - all signs of the Dog Days of Summer.

Sirius, the Dog Star, made its appearance, traveled across the sky and set, leading our ancestors to believe the star's heat, together with the sun, was the cause of the hot and muggy temperatures during late summer. The term Dogs Days conjures up images of white hot sunshine beating down on a parched landscape without a breath of wind. Dogs - prone to rabies were considered evil and possessed by devils - appeared irritable on the hot summer days.

But was it really due to the summers heat? Could it be that our ancestors misunderstood the lesson our four legged companions were trying to teach us?

Dog Days - I think the world would be a better place if we looked at our world from the eyes of our cocker spaniel's. To them it does not matter if 'the other side of the door' holds sunshine, rain or snow - the joy of being in just this moment is a lesson we can all learn from. How can you resist their invitation to join them in this wonderful dog day?

If I knew this was my last day on earth ... would I spend it cleaning and worrying about meeting deadlines ... or would I step outside - in the rain, snow, sun or dead of night - and enjoy a Dog Day?

How wonder-full if I could count it a blessing that when the Dog Star is starting its journey across the sky, I find myself utterly exhausted from enjoying a Dog Day ...

Thanks for sharing your day!

At the end of the day ... everyday should be a Dog Day.
Copyright © 2008 by Cindy Scherwinski


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