Utopia and Todd Rundgren

Even though I did all of my theater work in New York I belong to the Chicago theater community and I am on their mailing list.

Just as all other businesses, the theater community has been affected greatly during this Covid situation. The reality being that unless you are a star it’s especially difficult for actors to be able to survive and earn a living in this climate. I have special empathy for those in the creative community who are trying to survive.

This week is Chicago ACTS Together Week and I logged on to watch the short promo video they made honoring Chicago theater – and underneath that on Youtube I just happened to scroll down and see Todd Rundgren’s progressive rock performance of Utopia in 2019 at the Chicago Theater.

Wow! I spent over two hours listening to this great music performance that took me back to 1974. It was a year within the time period when I was raising my children and anything suggesting Utopia was far from my reach.

Sometimes it is a good thing just to get off of our daily treadmill, turn off the dreadful news and chill with something that takes us to another time and place in our lives.

Thank you Todd for all the great music you have given us throughout the years.

PS. Little did I know then or even dream at that time my youngest would grow up and be a part of the rock community 20 years into the future.

Utiopa: Utopia

Copyright Sandra Hart 2020

Chicago Acts Together: ChicagoChicago Acts Together

Memories And Stuff

I often find the early morning hours when I wake up while my husband is still sleeping to be the best hours of the day. I enjoy quiet. I enjoy being with me and my inner thoughts.

Just sitting with my inner roommate, a cup of hot coffee and the stillness of the morning pleases me.

We downsized about four years ago and I had to get rid of a lot of things that had taken me 44 years to accumulate. It was freeing. It was just fine and I have never missed all that stuff. But right now as I’m sitting here looking around my living room, I see I once again have accumulated a lot of stuff. What is it about us? What is it about us that we are so attached to things?

I sometimes wish I could be a minimalist. Empty my closet. Live out of baskets. Enjoy wide open floor spaces that are free of ‘things’.

I once had a new neighbor in New Jersey who bought the house up the road. She completely redid the interior of the house in a minimalist style. At the time, to me, it seemed so cold. I wondered how anyone could live with such bare surroundings. Anyway, it rather depressed me to be in her house. It seemed empty of life.

Fast forward 20 years and I have downsized from a five bedroom home to a two bedroom triplex in Miami Beach, quite a change in lifestyle that I was ready for. In spite of everything that I got rid of somehow I cannot let go of things that have been in my life since my childhood.

The table that my great grandfather made for his wife. The copper candy kettle now filled with shells that my grandmother used to make candy apples for her 10 children. The matching candelabras inherited from my paternal grandmother. Eliminating these things from my life would be like erasing and throwing away my childhood memories.

So it looks as though I am destined to never have a minimalist home. A comfortable home to me is surrounding myself with memories that are attached to material things.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2020

Swings

Now, like most of you I have had a life full of swings. Emotional swings, financial swings, life event swings and mood swings. But nothing can ever warm my heart more than a swing hanging from a sturdy branch where I can let the cool breeze pull it’s fingers through my hair, kite my skirt and fill my heart with the memories and feelings of being a child again.

There is something about a swing I can’t resist. I am always reminded of my childhood and the poem by Robert Louis Stevenson when I think of swings.

How do you like to go up in a swing,

Up in the air so blue?

Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

Ever a child can do!

So many of my memories in my childhood have involved swings. Going to a one room school house in rural Ohio when I was a young girl and having recess where I could swing. I would take that rusty old girl as high as I would dare to go. Holding my head back as far as I could without slipping off the seat I would watch the clouds move with me. Back and forth. Back and forth. Challenging the dizziness within my head.

The tire swing that my father put up for us when I was about eight years old. We lived near a big bubbling and winding creek where Daddy hung a big rough rope around the strongest tree limb he could find. My brother and I would swing out over the edge of the water, hanging on for dear life for fear of falling into the tumbling water below. It was exciting. It was fun. Just the feeling of the cool summer air whoosh by my body with each swing still remains in my mind.

Childhood will never leave. It’s still inside somewhere, but the years have passed and life has moved on without a swing for me. Until, that is, until my son put up a swing from a very strong limb for his daughter Lucienne. He hadn’t a clue that that swing would also be for me, his 81-year-old mother, who has never lost her love for a swing.

Every chance I get while jogging down my son’s winding driveway past the aging fir trees I can’t resist, no matter how urgent my task. I stop and take a ride and reawaken the child inside on the swing that hangs from the strongest branch that was made for Lucienne.

Copyright SandraHart 2020

TALK TO ME

 

With nearly 300 million cell phones in use in the United States, that puts the country third overall in the world when it comes to total mobile phones in use. Most of us, including this writer, have become extremely dependent upon cell phones. I don’t even know anyone’s telephone number anymore, because I don’t have to. I don’t have to use a thesaurus anymore, because I don’t have to. I rarely write letters anymore, because I don’t have to. I don’t carry around a camera anymore, because I don’t have to. I have a cell phone.

My cell phone is kind of like my personal robot. I give ‘her’ commands and she does it. Could the tech life get any sweeter!

Now, exactly what am I getting to? Well, there is a time and place for everything, everything in it’s place. If Benjamin Franklin could only see us now.

In my opinion, cell phones should be turned off and in silent mode when we are with other humans. Simple as that. Nothing makes smoke come out of my ears more than when I come into a room with friends or family who have their noses in their phones and the silence of interpersonal verbal communications is deafening. No wonder they say robots will take over. We cell phone users are becoming them.

Believe it or not, this preamble is leading to something quite positive. Last night my son had an informal dinner party with a group of his singer/ songwriter friends and their extended family members. Great food and great company amongst a group of very creative and world famous musicians.

The night was so interesting that this thought never occurred to me until the morning. It was four hours of eleven adults and five children actually having real connections. Real conversations. Imagine that!

Not one person pulled out their cell phone the whole evening. I didn’t even hear any go off. The children played together, giggling and playing tag and other games in and out of the house. Musicians shared stories and caught up on just being friends.

It was one of the best times I have had in a long time and no iPhone or Android was involved. I surely wish this would not be an anomaly today. I surely wish more of us would turn off our cell phones and look around us and enjoy the moment with real time life, friends and family.

If we all actively try to make this happen, it just might!

https://youtube.com/c/LifeOverSixtyWithSandra

©️Sandra Hart 2019

I AM EVELYNE. I AM

THE CORNFIELD

1945

Evelyne died when she was five. There in the August cornfield with open blue skies above, her life ended. She was on her back, trying to catch her breath. Each short gasp bringing in the pungent smells of fear, dirt and him. Evelyne struggled as he easily pinned her tiny body between the corn stocks with his teenage frame. She wanted her mother. She wanted him to get off. Her cries were silent and not heard. Not by anyone. Not even the crows casting shadows over them as they scavenged for food.

“Don’t tell your mother, or she’ll spank you hard,” he said zipping up his Levi’s. Evelyne could still hear the sound of the stalks swishing and crackling as he walked away pushing them aside. She lay there in her rumpled play dress, sobbing in fear until his steps faded away and only silence was heard. It ends there. That’s all she ever would remember of that summer’s day while playing hide-and-seek with her cousins on Grandpa’s farm, and life as any little girl should be allowed to have, well, for Evelyne, it disappeared when she was five. I am Evelyne.

Copyright Sandra Hart 2018©️

All Rights Reserved

( Excerpt from work in progress Blue Daffodils by Sandra Hart )

STOCKHOLM STREET STYLE

Scandi-Chic

Ooh

You can dance

You can jive

Having the time of your life

Ooh, see that girl

Watch that scene

Dig in the dancing queen

ABBA Dancing Queen

Whenever I used to think of Sweden, I immediately would think about ABBA, or the popular Swedish retailers IKEA and H& M. I never thought about fashion. Ever.

We all know Europe is famous for its fashion capitals, but until recently many have overlooked Stockholm. In the last few decades, it has emerged as one of the top places to go for a fashion fix, without ever looking like it was really trying. The effortless simplicity of style in Sweden’s capital would be interesting to any fashionista.

Stockholm Street Style from my closet

I began to wonder if I could go into my closet and reproduce outfits that one might see while walking the streets of Stockholm. Needless to say, the effortless street style that Stockholm is so famous for is not about one look in particular, nor is it about wearing certain labels or brands.

Just exactly what is Stockholm Street Style, anyway. Well, it’s about individuality, dressing in a way that brings out your own individual personality in clothes.

The use of the term ‘Scandi-chic’ has increased in recent years. I think it has come to represent a personal sense of style. An ‘ I am dressing for me. I am dressing for comfort’ style.

Just think of IKEA, H&M. Simple and something you can easily put together yourself. Easy and uncomplicated style. A natural sense of style.

Anne-Sofie Back is a trending Swedish designer that is popular both in Sweden as well as London. And, of course, Björn Borg,  is associated with being sporty, creative and innovative. 

Coco Chanel once said, “simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance”. I think, in Europe, Stockholm has gotten the message and is giving Paris interesting competition.

Sandra Hart • Life Over Sixty With Sandra

Lipstick On His Glass

My husband keeps complaining that I leave lipstick on our glasses. He’s ninety-two and I keep reminding him he is a lucky duck at his age to still have a hot woman around to mess up his glassware with a Chanel shade named after him – Arthur.

For Arthur’s ninetieth the children and I took him on a transatlantic round trip on Cunard’s Queen Mary. I found ‘Arthur’ in the Chanel section at the boutique and decided why not. I spent $20,000 on this party for him, why not $50 on me. I love Arthur, but I also love lipstick.

There is something to be said about growing older. Arthur reminds everyone when he gets in and out of trouble with the etiquette police , “Im an old guy.” He can do ‘head scratching’ things and get away with it. Because he is old.

We just had a phone call from friends who have been together for 30 years. She has never been married and he has. She is over 80 and he is younger. She is afraid to fly so they have traveled the world together for thirty years by tramp steamers, cruise ships, trains and car. Now, on his part, that’s love if I have ever heard of it. Arthur would have left me years ago if he for thirty years had to take freighters to get from point A to B when traveling.

For our friends, everything for thirty years seemed just fine. They were both in the together groove without strings attached. They lived in her Manhattan apartment and vacationed in his Pocono house and traveled the world in between. Well, that phone call, they are getting married and we are invited to the wedding. True. We are going to a wedding in July. There is something to be said about growing older and not giving a hoot what others think.

I guess you could think of it as sometimes it takes couples longer than others to realize that they are in love. Forever love.

Hummmm? I wonder. She probably never leaves her lipstick on the drinking glasses. She finally got her man.

Copyright©️ Sandra Hart

FASHION FROZEN

Shedding

I can remember when I lived up north as

soon as I saw the daffodils pop their heads

up in the woods, I knew spring was here and

that I soon would be shedding those outside

layers and replacing them with less and less.

Looking forward to wearing jeans, tees, and

my boho fashions without the layers was

fashion freedom. The ‘me’ I had been hiding

all winter could finally breathe. The fresh

air and sun were the elixirs I looked forward

to as winter closed its doors. Oh, how I loved

summer.

Tropical Fashion

Now that I live in a tropical climate, those

seasonal changes are all but a memory. It’s

maxi dresses, tees, jeans and an uncovered

and fashion free life. The stuff I dreamed of

my whole life has finally come true. I should

be happy, right?

Fashion Challenge

Well, for me, the fashion challenge of

shedding has turned into the fashion

challenge of same old, same old. How does

one not tire of dressing for the same season

all year long, year after year?

For me the answer is trying to be as creative

as possible with what I have. The challenge

is to create different combinations in my

outfit parings and adding unique pieces of

accessories; scarves, belts, necklaces.

Surprise myself by mixing plaids and florals,

shocking unusual color combinations, (pink

and red, purple and yellow) and sequins

and denim.

When buying new, I don’t bring anything

into my wardrobe that can’t be mixed and

matched with what I already have. Even in

an eccentric way, it has to fit in.

Moral of the Story

I suppose the moral of the blog is to be

careful what you wish for. We can’t have it

all, but we surely can make it work for us.

All it takes is just a wee bit of creative

thinking to keep from becoming fashion

frozen in a tropical climate.

Copyright ©️ Sandra Hart

LEVI STRAUSS IS MY HERO

Here she goes again with her weirdo thought process. Jeans? Why on earth jeans today, Sandra?

Well, I say to myself, it may have taken me thirty years to warm up to the idea of wearing ripped jeans, but one is never too old to take a risk and live on the fashion edge, even if you are eighty! Sometimes as hard boiled as I am, I do have room for a change of heart!

1873 BIRTH OF BLUE JEANS

If Levi Strauss were alive today he would be either scratching his head in wonderment or snapping his suspenders with glee if he knew his work pants have become a staple and an American fashion icon.

Even in the 40’s and 50’s it was still a man’s world.

When I was growing up in the ’40’s and 50’s there wasn’t anything ‘jeans’ except the one ‘man-style’ any girl right away knew didn’t include them if she had a waist and hips. In order to get the right hip fit, the waist was miles too big and had to be belted like a paper bag to fit our waists. The legs were too long, so we had to cuff them a few times. But no doubt about it, we all wore jeans, even though it was a man thing.

Men, boys, girls, all shapes and sizes – jeans were in. There was an important exception, though. MOMS. I don’t ever remember one single mother who wore jeans. Ever. It was either slacks or dresses for casual wear.

THE MOM JEANS ARRIVE

Finally in the early 60’s we young mothers were excited when Levi’s finally awoke to the fact that the 40’s girl’s were now grown and were yearning to keep their love of jeans in their fashion choices. The cross over began as jeans were being designed with a woman’s shape in mind.

GRUNGE CHANGED JEANS

Yup! The grunge and rock scene changed how we would think about and wear jeans forever. Everyone’s favorite jeans that we had worn threadbare, but dared not leave the house wearing, suddenly became fashionable. Design houses began to purposely destress and deconstruct jeans into high fashion. Jeans had crossed over the rainbow bridge and found heaven in the fashion halls of the rich, famous and everyday man and woman. Manufacturers and designers found the pot of gold at the end of that beautiful rainbow!

DISTRESSED DENIAL

Well, you probably have already guessed the end of my story. After years of watching women my age and younger, walk around in ‘those things’, I have finally caved in and bought a pair of jeans that I could have destroyed on my own if I had any sense about me.

ELEGANT 80 CONVERT

Yes, they are very comfortable and so I like them because they make me feel hip – yes. Am I gong to buy another pair? Probably not, because the economist in me says I can make my own. I still love my regular grandma jeans, but the best part is that I am now more hip in my grandchildren’s eyes. That is worth all the ripped jeans in the world!

Copyright Sandra Hart 2019

All Rights Reserved

WE’RE HAVING SOUP

Well, this is going to be a different kind of blog today. My husband just loves my soups and when I interviewed him on my Youtube Channel he just happened to mention my soups. You probably know the result. I have had lots of requests for my soup recipes.

While it is too complicated to put them all on Youtube, I thought I would share a few here in my blog. So here goes!

BASIC VEGETABLE SOUP

2 large carrots

1 turnip

1 parsnip

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic

Fresh dill and parsley

5 cups water

1 14 Oz. container of vegetable or beef broth

Clean and chop all ingredients and pot with the broth and water. Turn on high until it comes to a boil and then simmer on medium low until vegetables are soft and the flavors have seasoned. Add pepper and salt to taste.

Additions: Tofu, vegetable sausage, beef, tomato sauce, or meat sausage can be added to basic recipe.

SPLIT PEA SOUP

1 large pkg dried peas

1 onion

2 carrots

1 14 oz. container of vegetable broth

5 cups water

3 Vegetable sausage or 1 ham shank

Salt and pepper to taste

Drain and clean peas. In large pot combine ingredients and bring to boil. Turn on medium low to simmer until peas are soft. When done can be served as is or ladle into a Ninja or blender to purée. Serve hot with a dot of butter on top.

POTATO LEEK SOUP

The first thing to remember when making this soup is to wash the leeks extremely well. Leek leaves can hide dirt very easily, so each, wash, wash. The flavor of leeks is with it, but be sure all the grit between the stems is gone before using.

Depending upon how much soup you want to make here are the ingredients.

6 or 7 Potatoes

1 Leek

1 onion

1 clove of garlic

1 tbs olive oil or butter

Thyme, rosemary and 2 bay leaves ( remember to remove bay leaves after cooking)

1 cup of coconut milk or canned milk

1 14 oz. container of vegetable broth or chicken broth.

Dice or slice potatoes and add all other ingredients to pot. You can sauté leeks, onion and garlic if you want, but it is not necessary. Cook until potatoes are soft.

Blend until smooth or leave chunky. Garnish with a pat of butter and parsley.

Enjoy!

Copyright Sandra Hart©️

All Rights Reserved