To the Parent of ________ ________

Today in the mail, I received a letter  addressed to my parents   ….. It was inviting me to travel and study in Italy, Sicily, and Greece with other high school seniors.

What do you suppose they mean by “seniors”?  I mean, I did teach for almost 20 years at the high school level, and I am technically a senior….

Wonder what would happen if I showed up for the informational meeting with my 91 year old Dad.

Music Music Music

Face it… love of music begins at an early age.  For me that love was born listening to my mom singing her favorite church hymns and singing along to the radio tunes of the early 1950’s.  Watching her enjoy the music validated that music was important and was worth something.

If you search my ipod you will find mostly songs from the 60’s and 70’s.  But songs from the 50’s are what I remember first and what helped confirm my love of music from an early age. 

The songs of the 50’s just spoke to little kids like me.   Songs like “How Much is that Doggie in the Window”…. ” If I knew you were comin’ I’d have baked a cake,” “Istanbuhl, not Constantinople”…. They were just so much FUN to sing along to.  And face it again…. They were the precursor to rock and roll and folk music that my generation continues to celebrate. 

If you compare the top 40 songs of 1953 to the top 40 songs of 1959… you will see what I mean.  Love songs, torch songs, cutesy kid-friendly songs quickly gave way to the next phase of music, and eventually to the folk music and rock music of my teenage years.  Without those building blocks of music, maybe my love of music would have faded or disappeared or not have been so intense. 

I  remember vividly my elementary music teachers.   Thank goodness the educational system in the 50’s and 60’s saw the value of teaching music to students.  I went to  a small rural school but we had some awesome music teachers.  They were old school and taught us all the songs like “Old Dan Tucker” and “Clementine” as well as all the verses of our National Anthem.  They also demanded respect.  We had music once a week. When the music teacher knocked on our classroom door (yes she knocked and awaited permission to enter)  our classroom teacher would open the door, we would all stand in unison and say “Good afternoon Mrs. Hamel.”  Talk about etiquette! And then she would say “You may be seated.”  And we sat.

In junior high school there was Mrs. Payne (imagine the jokes about that name) but she was awesome.  She introduced us to Leonard Berstein and we sang the tunes of West Side Story…. How cool was that!

One of my favorite folk songs  which we learned in elementary school was  This Land Is Your Land”  written by Woody Guthrie.

 It was actually written in the 40’s but didn’t become popular until later.   I can remember how the words and music made me feel.  I was proud to live in the United States where there were so many freedoms. The lyrics hinted of a greater being creating the land for all of us. It was all so sweet and concise in that little song that was probably sung at thousands of school programs over the next few years.  Here is a song that lives on and on.  It has been recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary and Pete Seeger.  There is even a version on an album by the Counting Crows.  And while Woody Guthrie’s intent when he wrote the song might have been different from the sweet schoolgirl’s song in music class, it is indeed a classic. 


words and music by Woody Guthrie


This land is your land, this land is my land

From California, to the New York Island

From the redwood forest, to the gulf stream waters

This land was made for you and me

As I was walking a ribbon of highway

I saw above me an endless skyway

I saw below me a golden valley

This land was made for you and me


I’ve roamed and rambled and I’ve followed my footsteps

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts

And all around me a voice was sounding

This land was made for you and me


The sun comes shining as I was strolling

The wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling

The fog was lifting a voice come chanting

This land was made for you and me


As I was walkin’  –  I saw a sign there

And that sign said – no tress passin’

But on the other side  …. it didn’t say nothin!

Now that side was made for you and me!


In the squares of the city – In the shadow of the steeple

Near the relief office – I see my people

And some are grumblin’ and some are wonderin’

If this land’s still made for you and me.

Chorus (2x)

©1956 (renewed 1984), 1958 (renewed 1986) and 1970 TRO-Ludlow Music, Inc. (


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It Feels Good

Thanks to Marcy  @ For Your Good Health

She nominated me for the Beautiful Blogger Award!  My first award… so nice!

Here are the rules:

1. Add the image of the award to your blog.

2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.

3.  Post seven interesting things about myself.

4. Nominate other bloggers who I feel deserve the award and let them know about the nomination.

Seven Interesting things about Retired Ruth:

1.  I have lived my entire life within 30 miles of where I was born.

2.  There are always songs in my head and I share these songs with my friends when the spirit moves me (much to their delight and/or irritation).

3.  I once had a collection of over 250 pigs.

4.  I love antiques and memorabilia.

5.  I secretly want to be a stand-up comic.

6.  I also secretly want to be a backup singer for any oldies rock group.

7. I have lived on a farm my entire life.

Here are my nominees for the Beautiful Blogger Award.  They are a diverse group of bloggers who entertain me, amaze me, make me laugh, teach me new things, inspire me, and hopefully make me a better blogger by example.

Best wishes to all of the nominees.  If you see your name here before I contact you, please follow the directions and claim your award!

The Old Brick House

When I was in high school, my friends and I used to explore old abandoned houses.

Late at night.

With flashlights.

I know it was dangerous and it was  TRESPASSING, but when you grow up out in the Middle of NoWhere, there wasn’t a lot to do.

We never took anything, we never broke any windows, we just liked to look around and scare each other.  We admired the wallpaper or maybe made fun of it.  Sometimes there would  be an old picture hanging on the wall.  I remember one house even had a perfect attendance certificate glued to the wall.

If we were brave enough, we would venture upstairs and sometimes discover critters who were not very happy to see us.   If we heard a car approaching, we would quickly turn off the flashlights and our hearts would pound.  We were always expecting the sheriff or the landowner to appear and discover us.  In the back of my mind was this picture of my mother with her hands on her hips glaring at me and then I would see the  Wrath of Mom come down on me.   Getting caught by my mom was scarier than getting caught by the sheriff.

I  found this house yesterday. It’s unusual because the area around the house is still well-kept.  Everything is mowed and neat, not many weeds growing around it, just  some junk behind the house.

Anyone ready for a late night exploration?

Can you stand just one more Moonflower Update?

OK, maybe I’m a little obsessed with this moonflower growing on my patio, but hey… it’s my blog.  I can obsess if I want!   Maybe it’s the romantic notion of a night blooming flower.   Maybe it’s the name.

Moon River, Fly Me to the Moon, Moonlight and Roses, Moon Over Miami…. the moon is subject for thousands of love songs.

And when you say the word “moonflower” … your lips pucker up as if for a  kiss!   Maybe I’m just excited because… I kept it alive!   Nevertheless…. obsession.

I made a mistake of planting a passion flower right beside the moonflower, thinking they could SHARE the new trellis that I purchased for them.  After all,  passion flower….. moonflower…. you would think they could at least share.   The passion flower took off with …er… quite a passion,  but the moonflower eventually took over the space.  My passion flower still thrives but it is underneath the vines of the moonflower.   And the pretty little trellis with a copper toned sun face that took me forever to pick out, is entirely hidden.   Next time buy the bargain trellis because

Anyway…. here is my passion flower…..

And here is what a moonflower looks like before it blooms……  I’m not even going to tell you what that reminds me of.

I now have several blooms each evening to enjoy and lots and lots of beginning buds which will hopefully prolong my obsession.


Weekend getaways.  Fun and relaxation.  Unwind and get away from the daily schedules.

My mom, 1967

We don’t get away very often.  Because …  it’s just too much work.   You see, there’s the farm and the chores and the employees and the customers who call at the last minute needing something RIGHT NOW.   It was even worse when we raised livestock.  Just as we were packing up the car, a hog would die and need to be buried.   The feed truck would break down.  The automatic water system would freeze up or stop altogether.  The employee who promised he could take care of things for the weekend would suddenly fall deathly ill.   There was always something.

So it should be a little easier now, right?   No livestock.  No kids still at home.  Just my husband and me to get ready.   Then some guy in a pickup truck and a trailer drives in and needs some PVC pipe or a lid for his septic tank.  The invoice I emailed to a customer cannot be opened because the customer has an ancient computer (is there such a thing?) and they need to take it to the bank TODAY!  The toilet plugs (I’m not going to pass that information along until we get back home)  An old colleague that we haven’t seen in 15 years just happens to be in the neighborhood for a few hours.  My husband gets yet another kidney stone.   (Believe it or not, that has delayed 3 vacations)   The list is endless and I could probably write an entire book .

The excitement leading up to a getaway  fades into oblivion and I am just about ready to unpack and say to heck with the whole idea.  Then my husband comes tearing into the house, strips out of his dirty clothes and hits the shower yelling, “Are you ready yet?”

As we head out the door and throw our suitcases into the back of the car…… the phone is ringing.  My husband doesn’t hear it and I pretend I don’t.

We’re off.

Oh, and that picture above of my mom in the trunk of our 63 Chevy Bel-Air…. she was coming home, not leaving.   That’s why she’s so happy!

The Old Higgins Place

This picture sits above my computer; my brother and I found it at our local library last spring.  It’s our barn at the farm where we grew up.  My parents purchased the farm in 1957 and we took possession January 1, 1958.  The farm was known as The Old Higgins Place.

In the picture, the barn looks pretty new so we assume this picture was taken shortly after it was built.  In the picture are some cattle, horses, and chickens if you look really close.   For those of you not familiar with barn terminology… this is a bank barn, either built into the side of a hill or constructed with a bank of dirt so there was access at different levels.

It was a pretty cool place for kids to hang out.   Under the hill leading up to the top level (called the haymow) was a small room.  In the picture the white horse is standing in front of a small window which allowed light in that small room.   In that room, we would place baby calves when they were weaned from their mother.  One of my jobs was to mix the milk replacer in a bucket which had a large nipple attached.  I would then attempt to feed the calves, not an easy task for an adult, let alone a ten year old girl.  The baby calves were always starving and eager to receive the nourishment so they would just about attack me and the bucket (which had an attachment that allowed it to be hooked over the wooden gate.)   Many a bucket of milk was knocked off the fence and spilled.  I loved that little room.  It was filled with straw to keep the calves clean and dry and it was just the perfect place for a young girl to play and pretend.

Back to School

Back to school in the 70’s.  Not as a student, but as a teacher.  An entirely new perspective on familiar ground.

I felt like I had been waiting on this moment since the 4th grade; playing “school”  at recess.

I had never considered another career.  This was it.  My own classroom.  My own students.   Huge responsibility.

Dealing with parents. Standardized testing?  Grades?  Rewards and consequences?  I was not prepared for these issues.

There were  holes in my teacher education.  I suppose it’s that way in most careers.  You learn by doing.

What  I learned was to be patient.  You will learn as you go.   The students will learn with you.  You will get better at what you are doing!

Was it as good as I thought it would be?


It was better.