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DSCN7096 - Version 2What’s a gal to do when she’s just finished a book, for the second time, whose ending she knows and whose author will be visiting the Cutoff when the very next day dawns?

Well. she sheds a puddle of tears for, though she knows how the story ends, it is the journey that is the protagonist in an adventure that is both funny and sad, painful and celebratory. It is the story that is both physical and personal for the author, and it reminds the reader, perhaps, of one’s own long travelled road; of memories made, bridges crossed, battles fought (some won and some lost), of lessons learned and of those lessons she keeps learning. It brings to home and to heart the value of family and friends, and of those who have cheered us on and had our back along the way.

 “Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace”, is the book and the author is none other than the remarkable and gifted Andra Watkins.

Andra’s name often appears in the comment section here on the Cutoff, for which I am grateful. Her name also sometimes appears in the body of a post, especially when one of her books is published, such as last year’s “To Live Forever: An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis”, which I wrote about here.

I was delighted when I won an advanced reading copy of Andra’s second book, “Not Without My Father: One Woman’s 444-Mile Walk of the Natchez Trace”.  “Not Without My Father . . . ” is Andra’s memoir of her trek along the Natchez Trace, promoting her first book. It entails how she drafts her father to be her “wingman” on her journey – the angst and pain, frustration and hilarity that occurs along the way. Roy Lee Watkins is bigger than life, a natural storyteller, and a bit of a character, to say the least. The book is the story of her journey along the Trace, as well as their personal journey as father and daughter.

In the book, we also meet her mother, Linda, her friend, Alice, and others; from the innkeepers that provide a nest’s rest, to the National Park workers she meets along the Trace, as Roy sells her book from the trunk of his car and weaves his own tales.

It was in my second reading of Andra’s book, once it was published, that I realized I was mentioned in the acknowledgments, along with a host of other readers, for song suggestions, which are used as chapter heading in the book. What fun it was to discover.

So, in honor of Andra, who will be wending her way to the Cutoff as part of the Chicago leg of her book tour, here’s a little Ray Charles and a lot of hope that she does come back some more, some more, some more, some more . . .

 

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A lollipop was mentioned.

I don’t recall why.

 I started signing the oldies song, Lollipop. One thing led to another, Kezzie dashing into her room then back out again, just as I found the Chordettes on youtube. We had some fun singing the lollipop song, over and over again, and trying to make a “pop” sound with our fingers and cheeks at just the right time.

I thought you might have some fun either remembering this, or having some fun of your own with the younger set.

Anyone recognize the chap making the lolli-popping sound?

Do you have a song that brings on silliness and fun?

 

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DSCN6864Haul out the holly
Put up the tree before my spirit falls again
Fill up the stocking
I may be rushing things, but deck the halls again now

DSCN6840DSCN6843For we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
Candles in the window
Carols at the spinet

DSCN6847Yes, we need a little Christmas
Right this very minute
It hasn’t snowed a single flurry
But Santa, dear, we’re in a hurry

So climb down the chimney
Turn on the brightest string of light I’ve ever seen
Slice up the fruitcake
It’s time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen boughDSCN6881DSCN6874

For I’ve grown a little leanerPhoto on 12-3-14 at 4.52 PM
Grown a little colder
Grown a little sadder
Grown a little older

DSCN6856And I need a little angel
Sitting on my shoulder
Need a little CHristmas now

For we need a little music
Need a little laughter
Need a little singing
Ringing through the rafter

DSCN6831And we need a little snappy
“Happy ever after”
Need a little Christmas now

 

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Unknown I know the ending. I know it well. Still,  I felt salty tears emerge as King Arthur commanded the young lad, Tom of Warwick, to run, to hide, to grow up and have hope in the future.

Hope is what the end of the musical Camelot gives. Hope. In spite of the betrayal of Lancelot and Guinevere and Arthur’s knights seeking revenge instead of justice, he finds hope in an eager young boy who has come to join the legendary round table.  There is still hope in Camelot as Tom of Warwick holds tight to the ideals of Camelot and Arthur hopes that he will grow up to seek a more civil society.

What an oft told tale it is of King Arthur and his round table, his knights and his beloved Guinevere, Lancelot du Loc and the evil Mordred. Merlin. For a six and some-year-old woman, who first encountered Camelot while on assignment for her high school newspaper in that sixties decade of assassinations and idealism, a far off war and civil unrest at home, innocence and awakening, seeing the musical Camelot all these years later was a revival of hope, a theme that keeps playing out in between the lines of my December musings.

As I sat in Oakbrook Terrace’s Drury Lane Theatre, immersed in the atmospheric set design and entranced by the exquisite costuming, I heard the Lerner and Lowe tunes bubbling up inside me before the songs sang lifted out. I know them so well, yet, they felt so fresh, and the production seemed again quite relevant to me.  “Camelot”.  “I Wonder What the King is Doing Tonight”. “The Lusty Month of May”. “What Do the Simple Folk Do?”  “If Ever I Should Leave You”.

So it came to be, as a guest of my dear friend Marilyn, for a brief and shining moment I WAS in Camelot. Thank you, my friend. Thank you.

Do you have a favorite song or line from Camelot?

Did you ever read T. H. White’s “The Once and Future King”?

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The River is Wide

I love the slow anticipation of the Advent season, and the quiet reflection it affords.

Maura O’Connell. The River is Wide. From YouTube.

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I like trees because they seem more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.
Willa Cather

DSCN4884

I call it “my tree”;  a stately copper beech, it holds court just east of the visitor center It is an anchor of the shade garden at the Morton Arboretum.

It isn’t really mine, of course. It is everyone’s, but, I call it mine as it is truly my favorite tree. I look for it each time I wander the Morton. It’s copper leaves, smooth bark, sturdy limbs and strength of character call to me.  It is a prescient presence, whatever the season. This copper beech is so wide of girth that I could never hug it completely. I know. I’ve tried to. Standing beneath its comfort and shade, however, seems to be all the beech I need.

Sir Author Conan Doyle knighted one of his stories  The Adventure of the Copper Beeches. Maeve Binchy gave Copper Beech  title to a book. Poets and troubadours have caught its essence in verse and in song.

Soon, very soon, “my tree” will turn  toward another season. It will shed its leaves, resigned to the way it must live, but, its strong trunk and encompassing limbs will still hold court in the shade garden.

Do you have a favorite tree?

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DSCN5701“Yia Yia. What is true love?”  . . .

. . .  so began our rainy-day morn as we watched Frozen together.

It was a thought-provoking conversation with a lass sixty years younger than I am.  Kezzie and I manage to enter in such conversations. I love her curiosity about life, and, in this case, about true love.

 We discussed our hearts’ amazing capacity for love. I was settled upon the couch. Kezzie was bouncing with barely contained enthusiasm around the living room; a princess in a pink dress. We discussed who we love and how we love new things while still loving those we already have a heart for –  all while she danced and gestured and stepped into the animation on the screen through her own lively imagination;  body and soul, my sweet little girl.

We talked about how she loved her Mommy and Daddy and how they loved her and when her little brother was born there was more love to go around. We talked about love of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends. Then, she pretended to be Elsa from the movie and burst into song, duplicating her actions on screen. Elsa and Kezzie, singing together the song “Let it Go“.

Suddenly, from the Pack ‘n Play, a newly emerging voice shouted out  “let go – let go!

I look forward to more interesting conversations, as time goes by.  For now, I’ll just let it go.

True love; it is found in many places; family, friends, pets. It is more, much more, than a kiss from a handsome prince.

 

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