Saturday, October 30, 2010

Good Kids

I looked out the living room window the other evening, wondering if my boy was in the yard working on his truck so I could call him in for dinner. He wasn't, but these guys were. All just hanging out, talking, checking out the high powered dirt bike that one of them had unloaded off the back of his truck. Our yard, and one of his friend's yards just around the corner, have become total "hang-outs" the past year or two for boys in the neighborhood and from school. A scene like this one is not unusual. The kids are a variety of ages, and from a variety of backgrounds, but they all have in common a love for working on cars and motors and riding fast bikes and four wheelers and snowmobiles and talking motors and trucks and cars, ripping things apart and putting them back together. My yard is a mess. It's full of tires, and old cars and trailers and all kinds of projects I would LOVE to have gone. I really would love my lawn to be a lawn, not the front yard of a chop shop, or in need of a fence to hide the car parts from the poor neighbors across the street.   However, when I looked out at these guys, I knew every one of them, and know that ANY one of them would give you the shirt off his back if you were in need of one. They are all good. kids. They carry in my groceries when I come home from the store if they are here. They help themselves to a bowl of stew if it's on the stove and they're hungry. The chase my dogs and bring them back when they get out. They don't use bad language around me. When my boy goes off to college next summer, I'm going to miss having my lawn back.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Do You Know This Man?

Do you know this man? Funny story. I didn't. Not at all. A friend emailed me a picture of himself, standing next to a large, lfe-size cut-out of this guy. I thought to myself, "Who IS that man? He SEEMS familiar. I feel like I know him, but I can't quite put my finger on it. Is he a famous actor?"  Two different friends came in to my room at school while I was puzzling over it, and I asked them. Neither of them knew. One said, " Sean Connery?"  The other immediately said no to that, but couldn't come up with a name, either. I sent it on to my best friend who teaches at another school, and she immediately emailed back and said, "Oh, that's the Most Interesting Man in the World." 
Really? What makes him that, I had to ask. So she sent me a link to Wikipedia, and from there, after reading about him, and the Dos Equis beer ad campaign (VERY successful and smart advertising, I think), I came home and watched Youtube videos of the guy. I have never once seen ANY of these ads on TV, or heard of him, or seen anything about him. (Maybe because there is never anything on in our house except Fox News? And I'm thinking beer adverstising is probably not a big deal on that channel?) What a shame, because suddenly, this guy, and his created "persona" gave me all kinds of great, imaginative ideas for my life.
The premise is, this guy, who is no one famous at all in real life, just a bit-part actor in lots of past shows like Dallas, and old crime dramas, is, in each of these ads, "the world's most interesting man" !  He leads a life so full of adventures that he does things like have "an awkward moment once, just to see what it felt like," and is so interesting, "sharks have a week dedicated to him."  I think it's very funny.
And, it's made me decide that I'm free to, in my mind, create "the most interesting woman in the world" persona for myself. Imagine the adventures I "could" have, if all I had to do to have them is to create them!
I can become the first woman to dogsled across Siberia in deepest winter. I can be so talented I can build my own cabin in the Rockies by felling and stripping my own trees, or could brew the most award-winning  beer in the world by using the coldest, freshest springwater from the deepest, coldest lake in interior Alaska, which I hike to, in a short period of time, because I am so physically fit that, well, you know - I've won multiple triathalons and marathons and all...
The list in my imagination is endless. And who's to know?
He closes most of the ads with the catchphrase: "Stay thirsty, my friends," which I assume is meant to a be a double entendre - since he IS adverstising Dos Equis Beer, he would want you to be thirsty for this beer, but since he is ALSO the most interesting man in the world, with multiple adventures under his belt, I would think he is telling you to "stay thirsty" for the adventures life holds as well?
I have no problem endorsing the latter. I LOVE adventures, and would love nothing more than to live a life half as exciting as his.
However, I hate the taste of beer. I'm wondering if Maxwell House or Folgers would be interested in sponsoring MY ad campaign? I could run much farther and faster, leap much higher, with caffeine pulsing through my veins, than beer.
From now on, when I post my "interesting adventures" here ('cause yeah, there are oh- so-many of them), you'll never know if they are real, or just fodder for my own race to become "the most interesting woman in the world."

"Go for the bold, my friends - in coffee, in life."  I need to work on my slogan.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Have I Ever Mentioned, I'm Not Much of a People Person?

I had an epiphany today. It was a really good one, as epiphanies go, and even more welcome because I haven't had one in a long while.

 An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is the sudden realization or comprehension of the (larger) essence or meaning of something. The term is used in either a philosophical or literal sense to signify that the claimant has "found the last piece of the puzzle and now sees the whole picture," (Thank you, Wikipedia)

I am alway envious when someone says they "love" their job, and conversely, have always felt guilty that I DON"T love teaching. Teaching is supposed to be a calling, right? Teachers who don't love their jobs are bad teachers that we don't want in the classroom, working with OUR children, right? And yet, yet, those things are NOT me. Oddly, I am GOOD at teaching. I really am. I know what I'm good at, and what I'm not, and I DO know, I'm a good teacher. I care beyond measure about my students as individuals. I care what kind of a home life they have, and how that impacts my ability to teach them, and their ability to learn, or even care about learning. I am constantly striving to learn new things, teach new lessons, become more creative, to be more centered, reach out and add new things to my plans that I seem to have not been as strong on in the past. I go to relevant conferences, I read professional books and research, blah blah blah.  SO, I know I'm GOOD at what I do, but yet, I don't like it.
     Even that is a conundrum for me, because I LIKE my students, LIKE creating lesson plans, LIKE teaching the material. So, what DON"T I like? What makes me feel like I don't like teaching?  Well, I've always been clear that I hate correcting papers. I HATE having to give up every evening of my life to correct papers, enter grades, plan lessons, etc. THAT part makes me really mad, because there are so many people who get to just come home at 5:00 and have a life from 5-10. I don't, and if I do, it means I'm shirking my work and that leaves more for the weekends. Oh, and did I mention that I HATE having to do school work on weekends? EVERY weekend? I spent from 9 am to 3 pm in my room on Saturday, spent all day Sunday sitting here correcting, and still have a backlog of work to do. I either do school work every single day, OR, I have hours and hours to do when I get around to catching up on it. Either way sucks.
     But my epiphany today led me to understand WHY I hate teaching, and it's so clear I can't believe I haven't realized it in all these years. I've always said it just isn't a job that "fits" me, but never really examined what that meant to me. Today, I GET IT!  I hate people. Really, I do. Well, ok, not really HATE people, but in general, I really am not a "people person."  And every day, I have to leave my quiet, calm, dark, peaceful home to go to a place that is lit very brightly, is noisy, and FULL of people.  My classroom, for the first two periods of my day, has at times, 33 people in it. 29 students, and 4 adults. And four of my students get up and leave my class for the first thirty minutes, and when they come back in, another student leaves for 30 minutes, and the speech teacher is in there trying to work on speech with 4 other students while I am teaching, and the Special Ed teacher is trying to work with her 6 students, and the teacher's aide is trying to help the Special Ed teacher, and oh, then there are the students who leave in the middle or come back in the middle of those two periods for band, piano, guitar or voice lessons.  It's NOISY. It's CHAOS that is beyond my control. It is FULL of people, little and big. And then, the bells ring, and the halls are full of people, noisy people, and can I just say... I don't deal well with noise, with chaos, with having to keep tight control of things that so often feel totally beyond my control, with people.  It stresses me out. And then, omg, throw in a fire drill during my prep period (a period which is not even quiet and calm in an empty classroom because, remember, I SHARE a classroom, so when it COULD be quiet, even for those 32 minutes, it's not because SHE has noisy kids) - I can't even begin to describe the inhuman sound of the fire alarm at school. Sort of like an old air raid drill noise? Or a grating,honking, buzzery noise? It's awful. Truly. AND, it means I have to leave my noisy-ish room to walk through the hall with MANY noisyish children and go stand on the playground with HALF THE SCHOOL. (Did I mention that I'm really not much of a people person?) Having to play the ROLE of a people person is VERY stressful to me.  
     Now, I am NOT complaining, even though I sound like I am. I really am not. Complaining at this stage of the game would be ridiculous, with only a few more years of this to go. Thankfully, the majority of my career years in this misplaced field are under my belt. AND, complaining is not my "thing."  I am seriously and appropriately trying very hard to be positive in all things this year. A good attitude really does pay off, much of the time, and it certainly makes me a better, easier person to be around. Most days I can even stand myself!
     All I am saying is, this epiphany, this realization, that came to me today, makes so much sense. It ISN"T the kids I dislike, it ISN"T the job itself of teaching I dislike, even though there are things about it that seriously annoy me. It is the circumstances, the physical circumstances, that do not mesh with my personality - my need - my craving -  for peace, for quiet, for calm, for low lights and quiet voices and no bells ringing and no alarms cranking in my ears, and my huge, huge, huge desire to be alone, or to at least have limited contact for limited amounts of time with a limited number of people. YES. THOSE are the things that make me watch the clock slowly, torturously slowly, creep it's way to 3:08 every day, as though 3:08 is my time of salvation. It is. And it isn't to be away from kids I don't like, or to be away from a job that is horrible - it is to zip home - to where peace and quiet and a roomful of 4 dogs replaces a roomful of 29 noisy, happy, exuberant children. At home, I can think. And today, when I literally had to roll the stress of school off my shoulders as I left, that's when I realized what it is that actually causes teaching to just be not my thing, to be so stressful for me. How sad, that we come to these life-changing , epiphanies a little too late sometimes, but how lucky I am to finally realize where the issues lie. It eases a lot of the guilt I have felt for many years, and... with some quiet time at home to think about things, I might be able to restructure SOME of the things that SEEM out of my control. Maybe not all of them are, and maybe I CAN fix a few of them to de-stress a little bit of my physical surroundings. 
      I think I might need to take a sick day to sit here quietly and think about it all though. Tomorrow is sounding really, really good for that. Cough, cough. Oh look, I even have a slight tickle in my throat. I MUST be coming down with SOMETHING that will require a sick day...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Random Question

Why is it that the people who have the LEAST amount of disposable income have the biggest, most elaborate, most commercial, most expensive, holiday displays? 

Corollaries to this:
  • I did not even buy a PUMPKIN to put on my front steps this year, as I can't really justify the five bucks just for something I'm going to throw out, or have smashed, for decorating purposes when I don't really care about it. When my kids were little, and it mattered to THEM, then absolutely. We had not just one, but at least 4, jack-o-lanterns every year, and scarecrows, and corn stalks, and HOME MADE tombstones in the front yard, and even a full-fledged haunted house in the bottom of our barn that was so legitimately good grown up kids STILL talk about it today.  But we didn't spend a lot of money on our decorations.
  • For the record, I'm talking those huge, blow-up, decorations that cost anywhere from 50-100 bucks or more, have to be tethered to the ground, and these people have, like, 10 of them in their front yard.  And lights.  More orange and purple and black lights than I OWN in related Christmas lights. Oh, and it seems like every singing, musical, bouncing, electronic item known to man, is hanging from their front porches. I go around from room to room turning off the lights in ANY room in my house that no one is in. Who can afford the extra electric bills? 
  • If I cared enough about this random question, I would actually post pictures from my town to show you what I mean. And of the 5 places that come immediately to mind, may I just say, all 5 families with these lavish holiday displays have children in school who are on free and reduced lunches, AND three of the five families could, in good conscience, spend a little more on weather appropriate clothing for their children.  I'm not complaining about the free lunches. I just don't know why you don't have enough money to pay full price for lunch, but you can spend hundreds of dollars to decorate your yard? For real?  Hello? Priorities?
  • I hope this does not come off sounding elitist - it is a serious, and legitimate question - I honestly  do not understand why people who qualify as low enough income to need assistance spend their "extra" money on something as silly (in MY opinion) as huge, commercial holiday decorations -  why not buy a couple more outfits for your children, or a set of snow pants to plan ahead, or some extra food for your cupboard?  But then, maybe the answer is, this is simply my opinion, and despite the fact that I have this unattractive tendency to believe that my opinions should always be that of the majority, maybe there is some other way to look at this that I'm not able to see at the moment. Hmmm.
  • This being said, I love this time of year - I have enough Celtic stirrings in my soul to know not to call my children's names out loud on Halloween night, and to circle my house three times that eve asking a blessing on all within, to bake Soul Cakes for the following day, to understand how thin the veil is that evening between this world and the other. That night sets my imaginative and creative self on fire - even without spending a dime on a pumpkin for my porch or a blow up purple witch with a green cornucopiea of warts on her gigantically large nose, tethered to my front yard.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


This morning : Sunday morning. The house was quiet and  very peaceful when I got up. No one else was up, no TV noise on, no one talking.  I let the dogs out, flicked the switch to turn the coffee on, and cut up the big Cortland apples I had left from a bushel I bought a week ago, and put them on the stove with some sugar, water and cinnamon to cook down for applesauce.  Then whipped together another apple cake, this one for my neighbor who is always baking and doing for us.  I poured myself a cup of hot Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice coffee, and went to check on the dogs. The air was crisp, and chill, and the scent of someones' wood smoke drifted across my back yard. The sun was just coming up through the trees behind the fence on the eastern side of my lawn.  I just stood, with a hot cup of coffee in my hands, and drank it in for a few moments. This is the very essence of Autumn, I realized.  In fact, isn't this the very essence of life? To drink it in, savor it, realize what a gift it is to us EVERY day?  I used to HATE fall, because of the chilly temperatures, the cold rains that dropped the colored leaves and left the world grey and dreary, and because it meant the coming of winter. How I came to love winter, instead of hating and dreading it, is another long story in itself, but I guess the point is, as I get older, I appreciate or TRY to, every day, every season. Sometimes it is easier than others. Today, it is easy to appreciate the colors and scents and tastes of fall. I'm in my glory with cinnamon, pumpkin, and apples and wood smoke. But wood smoke smells even better when it is carried on frosty winter air too, and I need to remember that. And if the world is grey and dreary outside, in November, then I need to remember that I have a warm, cozy house and crocheting projects I started last winter to work on inside, and appreciate the time a dreary world outside gives us to work on inside things. This morning is a reminder of all that is good in my life, and a reminder to live cognizant of all that is good in my life EVERY day, even when it doesn't stand out as clearly, even when the Pumpkin Spice coffee has been replaced by plain old Maxwell House or the right coffee mug for the day is in the dishwasher.
My favorite book right now is called, simply, Life is a Verb. And it is, so get up early, savor the coffee, appreciate the cool air on your face as you look to the sun, and live it today.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

MY wish

"My Wish"
I hope that the days come easy and the moments pass slow,

And each road leads you where you want to go,

And if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,

I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.

And if one door opens to another door closed,

I hope you keep on walkin' till you find the window,

If it's cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile,

But more than anything, more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,

All the ones who love you, in the place you left,

I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,

And you help somebody every chance you get,

Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,

And you always give more than you take.

But more than anything, yeah, and more than anything,

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,

Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,

You never need to carry more than you can hold,

And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,

I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,

Yeah, this, is my wish.

This is my wish

I hope you know somebody loves you

May all your dreams stay big

This is my wish, too, for so many people in my life. A little sappy, maybe, but I'm feeling it today. Grateful for the people who make up my life. My children, my friends (those I see every day, and those whom I seldom, or never, get to see), my family, the kids I work with every day, and just some people I just carry around with me in my heart, always. Tucked in there tightly!  If you are reading this, it is definitely MY wish for you, too.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Little Red Hen Who Went to School

The Little Red Hen came to school last week to visit with the pre-schoolers, after they had just finished reading the fictional version of the same story. MY little red hen demonstrated that she likes to EAT bread, but was probably not terribly efficient at baking it.  She also flapped her wings a bit, strutted around, ate some scratch corn, and generally looked rather indifferent at being in school instead of at home in the coop. I kept her in a large dog crate filled with hay in my classroom for the day, since we have two half-day preschool sessions, and the teacher wanted her to visit both. I also let her out to roam around my classroom for much of the day, and she came to sit on my lap while I worked at the computer for awhile.  People were amazed that you can pet her just like a cat, and that she is that friendly and fun. Personally, I think having a hen in the classroom as a pet would simply just make every day better for me. I'm guessing we are probably the only classroom to have hosted cats, kittens, puppies, and chickens, loose, for a day, simply because my co-worker and I are both animal lovers. If there is a kitten wandering around the playground, or a dog out in the rain, why not bring them in to our room for the day?  That's OUR view at least, and so far, no one has minded overly much.  My superintendent, whose husband runs a pig farm, didn't bat an eye when she walked in and Miss Hen was wandering about last week. SOMETIMES I LOVE my school!!!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Missing Moose

It's been 2 and a half years since Moosey was hit by a car, and left his sister Anvik behind. I still miss him every single day. What a big ... Moose, he was.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


It has rained all day today. Again. And it was cold. The high was 45 degrees. So it's been a cold, steady downpour, all day long. But today? I'm grateful for the rain, because it made coming home to a warm, dry house a wonderful thing.  I'm grateful that I have a warm, dry house to come home TO. Many people don't.
I'm also grateful today for:
  • an early dismissal day (1:00 instead of 3:00) tomorrow at school, because it mixes up our periods and shortens them, and I love ANY day that is "different;"  I've been craving a little excitement or something DIFFERENT lately, and even this is cause for small celebration

  • it's also "Spirit Week" at school this week, because it is Homecoming weekend coming up. THIS means I get to wear jeans and sneakers all week - which totally makes my days better for this week. I'm all for professional wear, and would not CHOOSE to wear jeans to work daily, even if I could, but it IS nice to have a week where I can, and it's acceptable.  It's especially nice since it has been so cold that I can wear jeans and sneaks and sweatshirts, my go-to comfort wear always, and be comfy AND warm enough this week!

  • the fact that my dad was NOT in bed, and NOT sleeping today when I stopped at the nursing home to visit him. Today he was up, in the activity room, playing Yahtzee with several other residents. This is a HUGE step for him. HUGE.

  • I made Jennifer's "stodgy English" Apple Cake recipe last night (http://www.http// and it totally looked like it wasn't going to turn out at all, but it did, and I've eaten more than half the pan and can't stop eating it no matter HOW much weight I want to lose; it's THAT GOOD.

  • my daughter and her boyfriend of more than a year broke up Saturday - it's not been an easy break, as one would wish for. It's not been "pretty" and it's not been a good time for her, even though she was ready, and it's been messy, and sad, and a little bit scarey, but I am SO RELIEVED. I have been PRAYING for this for months. He is just SO VERY VERY WRONG for her, and I am SO glad it is done...

  • Two different friends have had dogs inadvertently run away in the past couple weeks, and both were gone weeks - 2 1/2 and 3 - and both dogs have come home; they are both a little worse for wear, but will make it, with some vet attention and a little TLC

  • I am making pumpkin pie oatmeal for dinner tomorrow night, and pumpkin pancakes (I love, love, love pumpkin flavored ANYTHING this time of  year) and both kids who will be home for dinner have said, albeit a bit grudgingly, that they are game for it,. I'm excited!  I love home made oatmeal, and homemade pumpkin pie oatmeal sounds AMAZING!

  • My 28 fifth graders and my 20 6th graders are two awesome groups of students this year. I really, really like them, and it makes teaching them easier, because they are such nice kids. And despite the fact that there are 4 adults in my room, we are all working well together, and I think it is to the benefit of ALL of the kids, and it is, at times, a  HUGE help for me. I like it much better than I anticipated.

  • It's about time to start a new quilt for this winter's project. I'm thinking dark purples and dark blues this year. I am excited to start that. I love picking out quilt fabrics.

  • Um, that's it. Oh, no, wait - it's STILL raining, and I'm now off to bed, and I get to crack the window and listen to the rain as I fall asleep. THAT's always something to be grateful for. I love the rain as I sleep, even if it feels so cold that I'm not sure I won't wake up to snow tomorrow.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


I hate to be around unhappy, miserable people;
I hate stewed tomatoes, buttered beets, and milk unless it is soy;
I hate socializing with people:
I hate math:
I hate worrying about money all the time:
I hate cooking:
I hate it when a dog dies:
I hate watching people I love get old:
I hate The Godfather movie on TV:
I hate going to the dentist.

I like laying on my back in the woods with my eyes closed, listening;
I like camping in a tent;
I like corn on the cob with lots of butter and salt;
I like hiking;
I like dogs in general and I like liking different kinds of dogs;
I like good red wine;
I like sleeping;
I like rain on a tin roof;
I like solitude;
I like fires in a fireplace, in a woodstove, or in a campfire ring.

I hate politics;
I hate arguing;
I hate being ignored;
I hate owing money;
I hate being an "only child";
I hate a messy house and a messy yard;
I hate feeling lonely;
I hate coming to the end of a really good book;
I hate working at a job I don't love;
I hate the suffering of any animal.

I like hot coffee first thing in the morning;
I like the first snow;
I like the silence and freedom of dogsledding;
I like Alaska;
I like the mountains, and I like the ocean;
I like red raspberries;
I like chocolate;
I like blue jeans and sweatshirts;
I like the outdoors;
I like tucking chickens in for the night.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Today, there was Sunshine on my Shoulders...

     Have you ever read that book, If You Give  a Mouse a Cookie,  or any of the subsequent books in the same vein by Laura Numeroff?   If not, a quick synopsis shows a series of actions, each of  which has a consequence that lead to another action, which leads to another action, and so on. 
     Today, late this afternoon, the sun came out here. I had almost forgotten what it looked like, or what my world looks like when it is illuminated during daytime hours.  Thinking about the sun led me to looking up the song "Here Comes the Sun," by the Beatles, on youtube. Listening to that song by the Beatles led me to thinking of my favorite Beatles' song, "Blackbird.," so I listened to that.  SOMEHOW that made me think of the old Loggins and Messina song, "House at Pooh Corner," and I found a great acoustic, current youtube version of Kenny Loggins doing that, and my other favorites by them/him, "Danny's Song"  and "Watching the River Run."   Listening to these old song, brought back some older-days memories for me, of all the great music  I listened to growing up:  Jim Croce, Olivia Newton John, Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Pure Prairie League, Crystal  Gayle, Elton John, Simon and Garfunkel (oh my gosh, have you ever listened to the S & G Song, "Kathy's Song"?  SO good)  Well, ALL of this is to say that ultimately, my series of "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie" musical actions led me back to my very first and most serious musical love affair of my whole life:  John Denver. 
     I have been sitting here this afternoon, just letting layers and layers of warm and wonderful emotions and memories wash over me, rolling through one JD song after another on youtube.  I wish I was fluent enough and gifted enough with words to even begin to describe what his music used to do for me. I lived it, lived with it, from the first album, "John Denver's Greatist Hits,"  given to me by my older brother Jeff, for Christmas when I was in 5th grade.  I was going to say 1974, but I see it was released in 1973, just before the holiday season, so it would make more sense it was that year. Doesn't really matter. I can still see the cover, SO clearly. It was green, with a smiling country-bumpkin Denver on the front, holding on to his hat. And it had SO many good songs on it. And for me, it was just the beginning. I don't think I even knew who he was when I was given the album, but my brother could not have picked a better musician with which to introduce me to the world of music,  than someone as wholesome as JD. I fell in love. I knew every single word, and every nuance in his voice on every song., I knew where his voice would crack a little, where it would go up, or down. I knew the choruses and the verses. I could tell when he was smiling as he sang. I would play this album, and eventually EVERY Denver album I acquired, down to the day they were released in stores, on my turntable over and over and over. I would put it on repeat and go to sleep listening to him, and have my parents turn it off when they came to bed later on. 
     I imagined all kinds of dream-scenarios involving  John Denver and myself.  You know, he wrote and played these songs JUST for me. I went to concerts and he picked ME out of the crowd to bring back stage and serenade, and befriend. He invited ME to stay at his house in Colorado and took me out hiking in the mountains, we became friends and he took ME flying over the mountains, and always, always, he sang for me, JUST for me!!!   ... ah, young and silly.   Yes, yes I was. In reality, I was lucky enough to attend concerts of his at least three times I think, growing up. Buffalo and Rochester, both.  (Thank you, indulgent parents and other brother!) 
     When my nephew was  born, in 1978, I was then in my guitar-learning phase, (abandoned after college) and managed to learn Denver's "For Baby, For Bobby,"  which my friend and I played and sang, in public, at Michael Patrick's baptism, at church.  Thank goodness my deep and all-encompassing love for my baby nephew far obliterated the embarrassment I SHOULD have felt at exposing my very NON-Denver singing and playing abilities in public. But today, I listened to "For Baby, For Bobby," again on youtube, and if I closed my eyes, I could almost, ALMOST, feel 15 again, and could remember what it was like to have that very beloved infant nephew, instead of one who is 32 (still very much loved, just not quite the same?)
     So, as I sit here listening to the songs of the 70's, the songs I grew up with before my musical tastes matured and expanded a bit, tonight I'm glad that my mind is one of those places where one thing leads to another leads to another.  I've had a really nice trip down memory lane. I have NEVER loved another musical artist quite as much as my singleminded adoration of John Denver. I never, ever listen to him anymore, but maybe, once in awhile, just to keep in touch with who I was all those years ago, I should. Maybe, instead of looking for the Beatles, "Here Comes the Sun, " I should have been looking for "Sunshine on my Shoulders" all along. 
     And my experience makes me curious - do other people grow up with such singleminded musical tastes  before expanding their musical worlds?  Who did you cut your musical teeth on? And what do you listen to these days?  I think it's pretty funny to share that the first album I bought after I went off to college was AC/DC's "Back in Black," and it was all downhill from there, til I found myself, my TRUE self, again, somewhere near the end of, or shortly after, college.  Today, my musical tastes are so wide-ranging and varied, and I really like them that way.  I'm always open to more. Who do YOU recommend?