Monday, March 31, 2008

letter from Aidan

lovely brocolli salad

brocolli, (cut up small), carrots, currants, walnuts, mayo, pineapple juice, salt, celery seed, cider vinegar, pepper

The Republic of Sun by Melanie Greenhouse

I learned to dye these eggs with onion skins from a singer Reet Hendrikson from Estonia.

I pledge allegiance to the crocuses
of the United States of America
and to the Republic of Green Grass
on which I stand, barefoot,
toes wriggling in the dampness where
just moments ago,
worms coupled and doubled themselves.
One nation of friends seated at a table
beneath a blooming tulip tree,
indivisible and radiant in spring's
with liberty and herbal tea; scones
-both blueberry and strawberry-
and Justice, Jude, Janice, Rhonda,
Herta, Sue Ellen, and Edwina.
Such an ensemble would make Justice grin
from sea to shining sea.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Animals and knights

here's Aidan Murphy up to his antics

Sunday, March 23, 2008


poem by Naomi Shihab Nye

This was read by our paster, Lise Sparrow on Easter:
Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth
What you held in your hand,what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness....
Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.
Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes any sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out in the day to mail letters and purchase bread,only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say
it is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere like a shadow or a friend.


1 pkg. fillo dough, melted butter or olive oil
1 large container cottage cheese
feta cheese
1 small container ricotta cheese
2 large bags frozen spinach
6 eggs
1 large onion, chopped
salt and pepper
In a large pan saute onions and then spinach till moisture somewhat evaporated. Mix in eggs and cheeses in same pan. In a large lasagne type pan, layer the fillo, dotting with butter or oil, ( about 6 sheets) and then spread half the filling. Do about 6 sheets more, spread rest of filling and finally the last sheets of the fillo with lots of butter spread on top. Bake about 1/2 hour or so at 350 degrees till browned on top.

life and death

Two powerful speeches:

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened -- as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding -- she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another. (about 15 minutes)
This video is a reprise of a professor’s last lecture, done for the Oprah show, because she can arrange these things. (About 12 minutes)

Happy Easter

life's pleasures

I always think life goes better when one has a great book to be in the middle of and a knitting project to be in the middle of as well. To these I've added a new musical composition and a blog entry to be pondering, a new roll of photos to make a slide show of in my iphoto, a new movie for my You Tube channel and a new cd to listen to. My current favorite cd is Lissa Schneckenberger's new cd Song. Its a beauty! Congratulations, Lissa! I'm reading many books, but the main one is Ken Follet's tome World Without End (sequel to Pillars of the Earth). Oh, and we enjoyed The Boleyn Girl (the movie) and the women' film festival showings in Brattleboro, Enemies of Happiness and also the Sermons of Sister Jane: Believing the Unbelievable.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Spring!

I took this photo in Florida last Saturday. Went cross country skiing this morning! It will come....


I live my life in growing orbits
which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps I can never achieve the last,
but that will be my attempt.

I am circling around God,
around the ancient tower
and I have been circling for a thousand years
and I still don't know if I am a falcon, or a storm
or a great song.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

watch a fantastic movie/read about Irish dancing by kids in a Bronx! public school

Sam's raves continue for "All is Well" cd

And here is an excerpt from our favorite current internet review:
"There is a story to be told for each of the songs presented in this collection, either of desperate hope in love ("Sugar Baby"), of jealousy's murdering clutches ("Wild Bill Jones"), or of being unable to let go of what life could have been ("O Death"). By the moment "Saro" begins, there is the feeling that Sam Amidon is not singing for himself, but rather in obligation to those who came before him. I don't know that such was Amidon's intent, and I am doubtful that even he knows exactly what he has accomplished here. Perhaps it is the unassuming, reserved approach to this recording that allows it to be as magnificent as it is. I'll admit to being nervous in recognizing All Is Well as a record that is pretty much a perfect storm, but every time Amidon's voice echoes beneath a chorus of violins, simultaneously grand and understated, it becomes more impossible to deny that the sound is something truly special. All Is Well is not music; it is as pure as the tune your mother hummed the first time she saw your face, and almost anything else is corrupt and forged in comparison."
Reviewed by Dave Toropov

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Ancestors in Wikipedia

Roger Amidon
Born 1614 England
Died November 13, 1673[1][2] Rehoboth, Massachusetts, USA

Roger Amidon (or Amadon, Amidown, Amadowne) was an early settler of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Roger Amidon was born to Roger Amadowne & Sarah Hutchings in England. His father, Roger Amadowne, was a French Huguenot, who had arrived with John Endecott's advance company in 1628 after escaping to England from the Siege of La Rochelle.
Roger was a ship's carpenter. He is first recorded at Salem, Massachusetts, where there was a flourishing shipbuilding industry in the early 1600s. On 25 December 1637 at a town meeting it was agreed that the marsh and meadow land in Salem which had been common land was to be "proportioned out unto [the inhabitants of Salem] accordingly to heads of their families... Roger was 89th on the list and drew half an acre of meadow land. He was the only person in his household -- see History of Salem.
He was probably married around 1639 and moved to Weymouth....(see Wikipedia)

Dynamic Duo

A couple named Dennis and Donna Roy played a little bluegrass banjo and accordion at our lunch break of our workshop in Orlando. She is smaller than I am and her accordion is bigger than mine. Check it out on my You Tube channel

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Best Quote Ever

A music teacher who came to observe our teaching wrote this beautiful letter which he gave me permission to share:
"I really enjoy the work that you do and watching you both in action was a treat. Your with with hospice just keeps resonating with me. I marvel at both of you and the spirit in which you have chosen to live your lives. Wonderful. Rarely do you meet people who are living their lives. . . so often you see people who don't live their lives but seem somehow enslaved in an existence of their own creation. I am glad to have met you.I look forward to seeing you again soon.

You're music has a very centering peace about it. It's neat to listen to-- it seems to put a little distance between the me and the yucky parts of life."

thanks, friend

Friday, March 14, 2008

Not On The Test, by John Forster & Tom Chapin© 2006 Limousine Music Co. & The Last Music Co. (ASCAP)

Go on to sleep now, third grader of mine.
The test is tomorrow but you'll do just fine.
It's reading and math, forget all the rest.
You don't need to know what is not on the test.

Each box that you mark on each test that you take,
Remember your teachers, their jobs are at stake.
Your score is their score, but don't get all stressed.
They'd never teach anything not on the test.

Your School Board is faced with no child left behind
With rules but no funding, they’re caught in a bind.
So music and art and the things you love best
Are not in your school ‘cause they’re not on the test.
Sleep, sleep, and as you progress
You’ll learn there’s a lot that is not on the test.

Debate is a skill that is useful to know,
Unless you’re in Congress or talk radio,
Where shouting and spouting and spewing are blessed
'Cause rational discourse was not on the test.

Thinking's important. It's good to know how.
And someday you'll learn to but someday's not now.
Go on to sleep, now. You need your rest.
Don't think about thinking. It's not on the test.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all.
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture.
Still treat each guest honorably,
He may be clearing you out
For some new delights.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
Meet them at the door laughing,
And invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
As a guide from beyond.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Gates

Perserverance is a great element of success. If you only knock long enough at the gate you are sure to wake up something or somebody.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Does anyone really have to fret about enlightenment? No matter what road I travel, I'm going home.

Sam performing in sold out shows in NYC with Nico Muhly's compositions singing a piece called The Only Tune at a theater called Kitchen.
Bjork and Matthew Barney came and went out for dinner after. Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed came to the show, too!

Over the Hill?

The word of the day recently in Visual Thesaurus was Spavined: "When horses get long in tooth they also tend to get spavined -- that is, unable to walk because of leg swelling. The word goes way back in English (15th century) but is ultimately from French. By extension, it can mean 'old, decrepit, over-the-hill.' "
To keep from getting spavined I'm brain dancing (www.creative braindance.cfm), reading about the brain: The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine and the Seven Deadly Sins of Memory by Daniel Schacter, and getting lots of aerobic excercise (NPR interview with Martha Weinman Lear, Plumbing the Forgetful Mind (Feb. 14, 2008) mentions research showing it helps with speed in cognitive processes even more than other kinds of toning excercise). Also, trying to pay attention by "practicing" mindfulness and meditating. Social connections and meaningful work are key: Encore, Finding Work That matters in the Second Half of Life by Marc Freedman is a fun read about what individuals have chosen for mid life career changes.
I recently heard Van Cliburn speaking on Morning Edition on NPR said, There's enough music for a lifetime, but not enough lifetime for all the music." so thats the other pursuit that is so endlessly fulfilling and energizing. Life is too short. yippeee!

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Do Re Mi

In music teacher Amy Martin's room the scale:

do: do the right thing
re: realize your potential
mi: mind your manners
fa: failures can become springboards for success
so: solutions begin with you
la: laugh
ti: time is valuable
do: and that will bring us back to doing the right thing

"Morning Star, My Soul's True Light" Lititz, PA

Wednesday, March 5, 2008


Hi from Lititz, PA, home of Moravians and Rolex.
The elementary school here is wonderful and the singing, dancing and storytelling just divine.
Lovely town center with sweet little shops including a tea room, chocolate shop and the General Sutter Inn.
Life is good.

banjos banjos everywhere

Favorite tunes lately: Yellow Gal, Cherokee Shuffle, Half Past Four, Too Young to Marry, Mad River, Three Forks of Cheat,
Farewell Trion......


Its a great time of year to enjoy muesli, yes?
meusli recipe from Larry Gordon
Combine as much of you like of the following:
(oats and the flakes are about 1/2 of it; the other 1/2 is all the fruit and nuts):
barley flakes/ cashews
oats/ coconut
currants/ yellow raisins
dried apricots almonds/ walnuts

I like it raw; you can also cook it if desired, add apples in that and yum! Peter likes to have it in his granola along with his daily breakfast: In one bowl: chopped apple, yogurt, granola; cut up orange in another bowl,. Postum has now been discontinued by Kraft (you may have heard the report on NPR) so he now enjoys Cafix.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Here is our new favorite friend, the first cat to hang out in our house, owned by Zara and Stef.
His name is Undeux (called Undi for short) as in Un Deux Trois Quatre (cat, get it?). We love you, kitty.

All Is Well

Sam is on a trajectory of success with his new cd All is Well of all traditional songs with his banjo/guitar and a chamber orchestra playing arrangements by composer genius Nico Muhly recently profiled in the New Yorker, Smithsonian and New York Magazine ( has it and itunes store). 4,000 hits to his myspace after favorable reviews on pitchfork and other internet sites. Interviewed by the London Times, written up in three top music mags in UK, and in Rolling Stone Fricke's Picks (editor in chief and primary rock reviewer for 20 years) An independent cd store somewhere in texas, he said that all is well is #2 on their top 20 sellers.
Nice blog report from his concert in Manchester, England, which was totally unamplified, in a circular church, w/string quartet:

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Life in the slow lane

"In Out Deep Slow, Calm Ease Smile Release, Present moment, wonderful moment"
Thich Naht Hahn, Vietnamese Buddhist monk

I wanted to recommend books and resources that have been valuable in exploring spiritual life in midlife.
Mindful Movements Thich Naht Hahn
A dvd of ten slow movements with breathing that are done each day in Plum Village in France.
The Five Prostrations Thich Naht Hahn
A cd of guided meditations by Thich Naht Hahn and Sister Chan
The Path to Heart A Guide Through the Perils and Promises of Spiritual Life
by Jack Kornfield: a guide to insight meditation with all its challenges and nuances.
The Second Half of Life Opening the Eight Gates of Wisdom
by Angeles Arrien. Each chapter begins and ends with quotes about the hands and feet, the vaious entries and exits through the gates of midlife.
Listening is an Act of Love A celebration of American Life through the Storycorps Project by David Isay. Moving and great personal stories of family and befriending by everyday folks.
When the Heart Waits Spiritual Direction for Life's Sacred Questions by Sue Monk Kidd (author of the Secret Life of Bees). This is the beginning quote in the book which is about her story of transformation:
"I said to my soul, be still and wait...
so the darkness shall be the light and the stillness the dancing"
T.S. Eliot