A Fundamental Life

I spent most of yesterday at a funeral in Philadelphia.

It was an Italian funeral which started with 3 hours in church, the viewing, the mass, Communion, the recessional. Then the burial in a small graveyard right behind the church. The afternoon blended into evening, ending with a catered 6 course dinner.

Leila was 90 when she died. She lived her entire life in a small Italian neighborhood in Philadelphia. Loved and loving, she was surrounded by sons, grandchildren, great grandchildren and friends — in life and in death.

As I witnessed this gentle good-bye, I realized that Leila lived and died exactly the way I want to. She lived what I call a fundamental life. That’s not to say she denied herself any of the usual pleasures, a good meal, good wine, books, friends, community but she didn’t need all the “stuff” many people think they need today to feel happy.

Leila didn’t have the latest iPhone. She didn’t want or need high-speed internet, satellite television, Sirius radio or GPS. No constant noise, no endless entertainment, no need to shop for new clothes or new shoes or new anything, Leila already had everything she needed to be happy.

She cooked her own food. she cleaned her own house, washed her own clothes and walked, everywhere. And her house was beautiful. Always welcoming and always filled with friends or family or both, it wasn’t a decorator’s show home. Her furniture was not new; her dishes and silverware didn’t always match and sometimes we drank wine from Mason jars.

But Leila’s house, her home, was always filled with the aroma of homemade Italian or German food, quiet conversation, and laughter. Her door was always open and her smile was ready. This was a place where everyone felt at home.

I only met her a few times but each time I was struck by her joy, her kindness, the light in her eyes and the smile that lit up her face. I felt lucky to have spent some time with her. Those who spent their lifetimes in her presence must have felt truly blessed.

Leila left us this week but she left behind the sure knowledge that we don’t need “stuff” to fill up our lives; we need each other. We need simple acts of kindness. We need time alone, time with nature, time with those we love. We need to clear the clutter, stop the noise and come home, to ourselves and to our families.

We need to live more fundamental lives.


Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Life & Death, World Changing Ideas

DON’T BUY Gilmour Soaker Hose


Update 1: THANKS again to Kate R for this recommendation for a soaker hose that is NOT TOXIC! It’s also made right here in the USA. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive but read the description – it’s non toxic: lead- phthalate and bpa-free and is made of FDA grade non-leaching polyurethane.

Update 2: Gilmour manufacturer, Fiskar’s, responded immediately to my email to let me know that, “For the few products of ours that still carry this label, the culprit is lead substrate.  This means there are trace amounts of lead embedded in your product.”

While it’s not BPA or phthalate, lead is still not something I want to stream into my garden.

Original Post: It is with my sincere apologies that I share this information:

Gilmour Soaker hoses contain “…one or more chemicals that are known to the state of California to cause cancer and birth defects.”

I have had my soaker hoses for years and simply had no idea that the products used to create these soaker hoses contain chemicals that are dangerous like lead, BPA and phthalates.

If you want to know what hoses to buy, which ones are safe and which ones are not, please go to Eartheasy, one of my favorite resources, and read their article on healthy hoses.

THANKS again to Kate R for this recommendation for a soaker hose that is NOT TOXIC! It’s also made right here in the USA. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive but read the description – it’s non toxic: lead- phthalate and bpa-free and is made of FDA grade non-leaching polyurethane.

If you are really concerned about your health and you garden, this is the soaker hose to use. I am replacing my Gilmour hoses now so I can be ready for spring.

Please accept my sincere apologies for endorsing a product that is anything but healthy.

SPECIAL THANKS to Kate R for letting me know about the dangers of Gilmour soaker hoses…and all other hoses.


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To all of us who don’t ride as much as we “should”

When I turned 50, something in my brain changed. I stopped caring what anyone else but me thought. I decided that “should” was a word I didn’t want to say or use again.

Riding Buzz on a fall morning.

Buzz and I enjoying a moment.


My horse Buzz

Buzz and I talk.

And I decided that where and how I get my pleasure with my horse was up to me.

In the saddle, on the ground, just hugging his neck, picking his hooves, wiping his eyes and nose and talking, yes always, talking to him.

This beautiful bit of writing from Katy captures, precisely, how I felt and feel about horses.

I lost Buzz on May 20th of this year. Don’t wait. Don’t waste time on what you “should” do. Enjoy your horse or horses any way you want to. This moment really is all we have.

Katy Had a Little Farm

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man.-Winston Churchill

My friends say it a lot: we don’t ride as much as we should.  Our horses are pets, farm ornaments, and fertilizer machines.  It is a common theme for those of us still clinging to our equestrian identities.  If you are in a stage where you can live your productive, horsey life, that is awesome and I’m so happy for you.  I’m living the endurance and dressage circuits vicariously through my friends who are back in the horse world.  I’m telling myself I’ll be back on the trails with my people someday.  

So many of us let the rest of our lives get in the way.  The job, the kids, the fact that it will really hurt if we hit the ground in these adult bodies…

I was an awkward…

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Filed under Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Mysteries, Uncategorized, Writing About Horses

Non-Violent Protests Work

The next time you are feeling helpless in the face of crooked elections and even more crooked politicians, think about employing some non-violent actions to start making the change you want.

The next time you are angry at mega corporations like Monsanto for polluting the food chain and our drinking water, but don’t think you can make a difference, think about boycotting the business.

Those are just 2 of the ways you can make a difference. One of the TED Talk presenters in this week’s newsletter offers 196 other ways to force change where it’s needed.

Those of you who know me, know I love TED Talks for all kinds of reasons. Here’s another one I love. Jamila Raqib , Executive Director of the Albert Einstein Institution, focuses on how non-violent protests have worked, around the world, and how they might just work for you….for us.

Raqib calls this movement a type of non-violent arms race.  She shares a document created by her mentor, Gene Sharp, that lists 198 methods of non-violent protest. Raqib also points out that a unified strategy helps boycotts to win the fight.

My biggest concern this Father’s Day morning is how to stop big money and big power from stealing the election out of the hands of the very people who really are supposed to be the ones who elect people to office.

Donald Trump may just implode on his own or be helped out the door by his fellow Republicans. It’s unlikely that Hillary Clinton and her mega-donors will as she represents many of the largest donors of political history.

Also, Clinton wants to win at any cost and has proven that by using bully tactics and what, in any other context would be considered bribery, to keep trying to silence those of us who support Bernie Sanders.

Unless we, the people, unite and engage in a unified, strategic and non-violent fight, we will watch Bernie Sanders, his ideals, his ethics and his desire to help his country be washed away in a tidal wave of political maneuvering and back room brokering.

Here’s hoping that Bernie Sander’s team is planning some non-violent protests at the nominating convention in Philadelphia. Let’s join in and make a difference.

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Carl Jung’s Words of Advice for the Depressed – Beyond Meds

Please don’t let Carl Jung’s name put you off reading this. It is an amazing post from Jason E. Smith, founder of Heartsfire Counseling and a Jungian psychotherapist.

In my younger days I suffered from depression. I can honestly say that I don’t know anyone who has not fought the twin demons of rage and depression.

Smith explores Jung’s approach to both and shares some practical advice from Jung, himself, on how to do battle with both.

“From Jung’s point of view there is a hidden intention in depression. It “forces us downwards.” This is not, as it might sound, a punishment for arrogance, but rather a consequence of having become cut off from the human, instinctual part of ourselves.”

Source: Carl Jung’s Words of Advice for the Depressed – Beyond Meds

Also, if you are thinking of sharing this post, please adhere to Smith’s copyright requirements:

All rights to original works reserved. No works may be reproduced without permission. Brief quotes may be used with a link and attribution back to the source.

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Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Life & Death, World Changing Ideas

Great Advice for Women Over Fifty

About 5 years ago, I wrote a tongue in cheek bit about what it really means to grow older in this bless-ed country!

When you are growing old in the land of nip & tuck, lose weight, dye hair, look young(er), it can be tough to see any humor in the fact that, like it or not, you just tipped over the waterfall of life and are heading towards the end with incredible speed and a few chin hairs.

But there is humor here and I just stumbled on another writer who started my morning with a laugh.

Michele Combs, a blogger (and software programmer tackled this topic about a year ago, on her blog, Rubber Shoes in Hell. She neatly sums up answers to the age-old question of, “..what not to wear when you are over 50.

The article is a rif on all the fashion tips readily available for we aging warriors. Combs does a bang up job of it. If you liked this article, try Part II of what not to wear if you over 50 because I loved it too.

This advice is solid, it makes me laugh and it reinforces my idea that there are some very important items that I really don’t want to wear anymore. I can listen to my own voice, now. I can wear, do, say whatever I want because I answer to no one now. No boss. No societal constraints. No voice in my ear telling me, “no, no, no!

And there never will be, again.  Stand up tall, women of a certain age, and finally, finally, claim your independence. And Michele Combs? Bang on as the Brits would say, bang on!



Filed under arm wresting, Death & Dying, Inspiring People, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas

Aldous Huxley Captures the Power of Music

Why is there music in every culture of the world?

Why can some pieces of music (for me it’s classical music) bring you to a standstill? Pierce your heart? Make you understand the relentlessness of loss, of death like the Adagio For Strings in G Minor by Tomaso Albinoni? How can others make you smile, bring you peace or joy like Vivaldi’s Four Seasons or Bedrich Smetanau’s Moldau?

These were the last questions that my brother Bob sought to answer before his untimely death. He and I shared books like Oliver Sachs Musicophilia and Daniel Levitin’s The World in Six Songs. We shared thoughts and ideas but we never came close to understanding the universality of music, the power.

Once again, the clever, beautiful and ingenious writer, Maria Popova, the woman behind the stunning website, Brain Pickings, has produced a lyric piece on Aldous Huxley (a man I admired but Bob wasn’t too keen on) that opens the door on why music touches souls, transcends words, shapes lives and shapes cultures.

Huxley wrote about music long before he authored Brave New World or journeyed into the world of hallucinogenic drugs and the publication of his slim but influential book entitled Doors of Perception.

Huxley actually explains why I never liked Wagner! Popova shares this quote of Huxley’s: “Silence is an integral part of all good music. Compared with Beethoven’s or Mozart’s, the ceaseless torrent of Wagner’s music is very poor in silence. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it seems so much less significant than theirs. It “says” less because it is always speaking.”

And he explains why I’ve always loved the lonesome call of a train as it passes through the back country on its way to I don’t know where…but you’ll have to read about that in Popova’s newsletter.

She outdoes herself on this essay and that, my friends, is saying something. Her newsletter is a weekly labor of love; this one is no exception. Popova offers her research, her writing, herself for free…but accepts donations. I cannot imagine a better person to become a patron for than this brilliant teller of stories.

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Filed under Gifts, Inspiring People, Mysteries, Uncategorized, World Changing Ideas