Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Music--Old and New

~~What is the world's oldest musical instrument? Would you believe a 35,000 year old flute? It's true! How cool is that? It sure warms my heart. I played flute for eight years in school, but that was nearly as long ago as this new find is old. ; )

~~The artifact was found in a southwestern German cave and is eight and a half inches long. With its five finger holes, it produces harmonic notes comparable to modern flutes. The cave was also the site of a rich find of carvings and two other flute fragments. Early man called this cave home. It's not the only old dwelling that boasts flutes. Three other flutes have been found in another German cave. All the flutes are made out of ivory or bone. Finding so many examples of early musical instruments means that music is common to the culture of man all the way back to the beginnings.

~~I don't know about you, but this new discovery just confirms something I've always known, music enriches our lives and makes us happy. The next time I sing in choir, I'll be thrilled to know that my joy has been around a long, long time. So enjoy the music, any music, in the shade of the cherry tree. ; )

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Down? See UP

~~If you haven't seen Pixar's latest movie, UP, you need to. It's the perfect animated movie--beautiful visual images, wonderful story, and lovable characters. UP is the best I've ever seen and though I really liked last year's WALL*E, I found UP to be much sweeter and multifaceted. Finally the promise of computer generated animation has been achieved. UP combines the color saturation of the old glass plates with the intense detail of computer animation. Some of the best visuals range from stained-glass colorful to the effective use of gray tones. Check out the rainbow light that glows through the balloons that float the house on its long journey to South American or the equally detailed grays of the old news reel that inspired the trip. It would be worth the price of admission just to see these images, but add one of the best, most nuanced stories you'll ever see, and you have the best animated movie ever.

~~UP is the story of elderly widower, Carl Fredrickson, who is trying desperately to cling to his memories of his beloved wife, Ellie, the home they built, and the dream of their long-planned trip to South America. Into Carl's life come developers who want his land and house and Russell, a Wilderness Explorer Scout. Russell helps Carl find both new purpose and love in life. Along the way, Carl shows Russell the meaning of true love and fathering. UP's greatest strength is the multiple themes that subtly reinforces and reflect each other. they include:
*Don't give up on your dreams.
*You're never too old for adventure.
*Keep your promises.
*Help others.
*You don't have to be a parent to take care of a child.
*Friends come in all shapes, sizes, and ages.

~~Dog lovers take note--you will be thrilled with the helpful and endearing Dug. Enjoy the many "doggie-isms" that play out--from the distraction of "squirrel" and "ball" to loyalty and sheer doggedness. Play fetch with a lovable pooch and you will find out just how sloppery a tennis ball can get. ; )

~~Pixar and Disney have offered us a wonderful gift in UP, but didn't stop there. the main feature is bracketed by a wonderful short feature that answers the follow-up question children are sure to ask after being told that storks bring babies--"But where do the storks get the babies from?" You'll never look at clouds the same way again. ; ) And don't neglect the credits either. Each of the usual categories--production, sound, music--is illustrated to perfection. Sit tight and enjoy.

~~All in all, UP is a wonderful way to spend a summer afternoon or evening. There's a story line or theme for everyone. So take the time and allow UP to give you a lift. And enjoy the shade while you do.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

It's a boy--and a boy!

~~When is a Cassie really a Casey? When he is so dark brown that it's hard to tell if he is a boy or a girl. That is until his people observe closely when he is outside doing his business. So our little girl is a little boy and we couldn't care less. I remembered the breeder saying we have a girl and a boy, but John has always been sure we have two boys. Guess who's correct? ; )

~~So we are the proud "parents" of two little boy puppies who are growing fast. The boys are nine weeks old in the photo. Casey is bigger than Max. If you wonder why the smaller of the two is named Max, we weren't too sure at first either. But the longer we observed him, the clearer it became that Max always gives his maximum effort no matter what he's doing--running, wrestling, chewing, or sleeping. Both of the boys are learning two new words--come and sit. Treats are a must, but at least they are starting to get the point.

~~I am still laughing about my being outnumbered by the three males in the house. This big laugh is a great example of the joy we can find everyday in the shade of the cherry tree. ; )

Monday, June 8, 2009

Cassie and Max Come Home

~They're here! Our toy poodle puppies came home today and, boy, are they cute. Born April 7, Cassie and Max are fluffy, bright-eyed, and waggly-tailed. Cassie is a lovely chocolate and the larger of the two. Max is apricot and darker on his head than his body.

~The breeder assures us that they will be house trained in two weeks if we are vigilant. So, we are on watch. Including watching their first three and a half hours at home--asleep. Yep, that's right. Two adults watching two puppies sleep. We are fascinated--and in love! ; )

~Here's hoping the prediction isn't too good to be true. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Welcome to the Shade!

~What a red-letter day! My darling husband, John, retired after twenty-five years of teaching and I couldn’t be more thrilled. We are excited about another anticipated event—new puppies arrive at our home on June 8. Do you know what has to be done to “puppy proof” a house? Or how many cute puppy toys there are? Hundreds—and we have looked at every single one! At least twice. ; )

~These are only two of the wonderful things that can give us comfort, joy, and solace. Like fresh ripe cherries and rich chocolate fudge, butterflies and hummingbirds, colorful flowers and deep shade on a hot, humid summer day. That’s what In the Shade of the Cherry Tree is all about—the small and delightful things that cushion the hurts and heal the wounds of everyday life. So welcome to the shade! I hope to share some of the loveliness and delights that come my way.