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There is a dance that is new to me and maybe to you too.  It is a dance that is “as old as the hills.”

My good friend, Amy, who is always trying new things, filled me in on this enchanting activity that is good clean fun, great exercise, and a place to meet friends and smile.

 Have you ever heard of Contra Dancing?

Well, one site describes it like this: “If Swing Dancing and Square Dancing met in a bar, you’d get Contra.”

  • It is similar to square dancing but not the same.
  • It is considered a social dance that you can attend without a partner, but is danced in pairs.
  • It is danced in long lines and couples progress up and down the lines dancing with each other and other couples in the line.
  • There is a caller who teaches the sequence of figures before the music starts.
  • The music can be Irish, Scottish, old-time, or French Canadian folk tunes.
  • It is impossible not to smile at the music.
  • The fiddle is the core instrument, but can also feature the guitar, banjo, bass and mandolin.

 Contra is a folk dance with mixed origins from English country, Scottish,  and French dance styles in the 17th century and African influence from Appalachia.  Sometimes described as New England folk dance or Appalachian folk dance, Contra Dances can be found around the world as well as in most US states.

Check out Contra Dancing in your state or community.  Guaranteed to make you smile!

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Roadside Vision

I have cars on the brain maybe.

On the road to town there is an old car

that reminds me of old photos Mom saved.

Her pictures always struck me as from a Once Upon a Time era that was never truly real.

But the car I pass en route to town

is a daily reminder of a living past.

I found a photo Mom saved of her family’s new car, but Bill said, “No, that isn’t the same one we see on the way to town.”  Or, is it?

Grandpa's New Car

The Grandparents’ New Car – No Date provided.

Does anyone know anything about this Once Upon a Time vehicle that belonged to my grandparents?

What year is it?  And what make?  And I wonder how much it was to buy?

Even if it is not a match for today’s roadside version, it still stirs my imagination and I yearn to take a trip back in time.

Oh for a visit to my grandparents who must have been excited to have a new car, to the aunts and uncles and cousins who may have lined up to see it, and the kids who wished for the keys.  

They were my own family and their lives went by before I ever got to know them.  But they are all somehow lingering and alive in that flat tired, beat up apparition I  see almost every day on the way to town.

 

 

 

 

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Not to dwell on the saga of my ailing foot but it has survived months in an Air Cam Boot, weeks of physical therapy, tests and more tests and about six different diagnoses.

Dwelling may not be such a bad idea at that.

Here is a photo of an obstacle course (duplicated for home use).  The real thing is at my “PT” place.  PT stands for Physical Therapy.  Have you noticed how people talk in initials now?

obstacle-of-cones-2

Cone Obstacle Course at Dor’s House

Anyway, the orange coned obstacle course is among other torturous devices at my PT place.  It is designed to build strength and agility in a foot that flaps.

My left foot now flaps when I walk. I can hear it.

And to confirm the lopsided flapping gait,

Bill said, “You walk like a duck!”

So much for grace and pride.  Now add a dog leash for optimal humiliation!

Back to Physical Therapy, my well-meaning therapist, Brenda, puts a belt around my waist and the belt is so long it has a tail.  Then she holds the tail in case I am inclined to teeter toward a crash landing.

The challenge is to high step over each cone without falling or knocking anything down.

  • No swinging a foot outward and around instead of over.
  • No leaning on Brenda.
  • No hopping.
  • And if you knock a cone (or Brenda) over, keep going.

As a beginner at this dog/duck walk I managed to knock down quite a few cones.  Then, just as practice made perfect, they put out taller versions!  Staggering over a new set of towering obstacles was like being a beginner again.

And I was just getting good at the taller versions when they announced, “YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!  No more leash.”

ALONE?  Are you kidding?

Nevertheless, grimly poised for action, I aimed to prove versatility, flexibility, agility, strength, balance, and the powers of a gimpy woman to convert liabilities into assets.

AND I COULD NOT MOVE!

Terrified, to take the first step without a security dog/duck leash, I was frozen at the starting gate.

Finally, Brenda took pity and offered psychological support. She followed along as a human safety net.  And I completed the arduous leash-less journey with only two fallen cones!

Next visit I plan to shock everyone with a perfect solo performance (hence the home-based obstacle course for practice)!  But what diabolical activity will they come up with next?

Did I tell you they have me picking up marbles with my toes?

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Viola was a local  Virginia “character” who took pride in having an independent streak.  She was forthright and fiercely opinionated, and loved beautiful things.  And she was a beloved friend whose gifts over the years are things I still cherish.  They were old gifts she found in antique stores and one-of-a-kinds for the young me.

Sadly, we lost Viola, but there are wonderful reminders of her all over my home.  She was a friend who put extra thought into gift giving.

cookie-platter

  • A beautiful scalloped edged platter I still use to serve cookies.

  • An art deco bowl that makes bananas seem  brighter and yellower (is yellower a word?).

    art-deco-bowl

  • A lacy edged vase for short stemmed flowers to make into elegant arrangements.

    ruffled-flower-vase

I just read an article about how young people don’t like old stuff anymore. They don’t want Grandma’s china or sterling silver that has to be polished.

Who needs gold edged dinner plates for fast food or pizza delivery?  And who wants cutlery you can’t put into a dishwasher?

I concede there is some logic in this thinking albeit the younger generation seems to be forfeiting an atmosphere of beauty, charm and grace.

But do they know about the feelings you can get from holding or using something with a history?

A beautiful old serving dish is never really old.

And an elegant old vase will always complement a spray of  seasonal flowers.

And much like people, some old things age gracefully with the help of a little extra care.

And other things grow more beautiful with little to assist them but age and patina.

I was a young woman when Viola gave me some exquisite old things.  They never required too much care and they are cherished now, almost thirty years later, along with some very sweet memories.

I keep reminding myself that finding the one-of-a-kind perfect gift for someone special may be as easy as a stop at the local antique store.

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Growing old can be fun.  At least that’s what my oldest friend, Kit, says.

on-a-scale-of

Photographer Unknown

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o-NEIGHBOURHOOD-WATCH-SIGNS-TORONTO-570There were two hummingbird feeders on our deck this week.   Now there is one.

A Dine Until Dark Curfew has been imposed on the little hummers and the one remaining feeder is taken inside when the sun goes down.

What happened?

A mystery intruder  visited and vandalized our peaceful Virginia home.

If you are interested in solving mysteries, here are the clues:

  1. A favorite old hummingbird feeder  was lying in three pieces on our deck,
  2. amid a wide swath of sticky sugar water, 
  3. replete with large animal footprints, and
  4. unidentified animal scat on the deck stairs.

“What critter (or person) could it be?”we wondered.

Bill thought it was a raccoon.  I thought a bear. Can you tell by these observations the differences in our personalities and outlooks on life?

I Googled SCAT and found some that looked like ours (NO, NOT HUMAN).  Oddly, there are actual animal “poop charts” so you can compare and identify droppings!  Somehow I find this offensive to my sensitive senses.

scat_berries4_800x600

Bear Scat

Anyway, that was as far as I got researching when an email came in from our immediate next door neighbors warning they had seen a mama bear and her two cubs in their back yard!

bear watch

Mystery SOLVED!  IT WAS DEFINITELY A BEAR!!!  AND A VIRGINIA BLACK BEAR WITH TWIN CUBS!!!  Well, what did I expect when we chose to live in the country – civilization?

Then a second email came  and a third.  The word is out and we have a NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH with friends sending email alerts!

  • “We saw a mama bear and two cubs in our back yard this morning.  If you think this is information that should be shared with the neighbors, would you pass it on?”  
  • “Yep! We had some work being done at our house a few weeks ago and they videoed two cubs and the mom on our property.”
  • “Also I saw them crossing the hunt road, heading up the hill into the woods between the pond and the riding ring, just like last summer. My mare has indicated their closeness to our place too. I have not viewed them there personally yet (but, she doesn’t fib).”
It is certainly comforting to know there is a Three Bears Neighborhood Watch, but having the trio on my deck borders on disconcerting!
I have a plan though.,
The trick is stay close to the front door, or the back door, or the car door.
Or if the bear gets inside – to barricade in the bathroom with my cell phone!
So much for summer walks in the woods.

 

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happy_wedding_anniversary_valentines_day_special_vector_568815

I wish I had taken their picture.

I went to visit old friends who have been married  for 72 years.

He is 98 , looks 65 and is still a community volunteer!

Still driving her around town too.

He proudly says he takes no prescription medications- only Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and baby aspirin.

Imagine?

She is 92 and beautiful – elegantly coiffed with painted nails, gorgeous clothes, and a smile that transforms her face to youth.

They are both beautiful.

I love talking to them, or rather, just listening to their stories of a lifetime together.

Oh, there are the negatives like lost hearing, balance and reading ability.

But they both offer this advice:

“Do not dwell on  the things you cannot do.  Be grateful for  the things you can.”

And they are truly my inspiration.

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