Backstage In Nashville

When your children grow up and leave the nest the parent/ child dynamics change. No longer under your roof, their lives continue with you in the background; nose pressed to the window of their lives looking in. 

A recent angry force of nature made me leave my nest at an odd time of the year and take refuge with my youngest bird of flight, my son. Hurricane Irma gave him fears his old mum’s nest just might be blown away. So it was that I landed  outside the boundaries of a holiday celebration visit in Nashville with my son and his family. 

It just so happens that Emerson is a platinum awarded singer/ songwriter who spends a lot of time on the road doing what he loves to do; entertain by telling his lyrical stories. Once in awhile if he is performing within driving distance, my husband and I will make the journey to his concerts and a few moments of private time with him.  But in a lifetime that is not much. 

You might say we are distant groupies most of the time, however, this time, my only positive Irma experience is that I was given a performance day  with my son that I would never have had.  

Squeezed within the sixteen day visit of watching my son be a good husband and great father, was a full day of a mother’s heart singing with joy that her son is able to have a satisfying  creative life, doing what he was born to do.  

Can’t get much better than that. Come along with me for a capsule of my day before a concert hall performance of Songs and Stories in Nashville. 

Copyright Sandra Hart©2017

I’ll Think About It Tomorrow


Everyone had a great time. After 14 days of family celebration at sea and a few extra on land we’re finally back home. My bags and body sat for a few days in New York trying to get rid of the London fog in the center of my chest. A bonus I brought home from England. (As they say, no good deed goes unpunished.) 

Sunday I gave up. On Christmas Day, I ‘snowbirded’ south. I quit trying to accept the chill and finally gave in to the call of South Beach and the end of gloomy and cold weather. Somehow being sick in warm weather eases the pain of being under it. Unless you have a dog. 

Having a dog. You have to always pretend you’re well. You can never be sick. Look sick. Feel sick. Succumb to even the thought of being unwell. Dogs have to be fed and walked no matter how much more comfortable the couch is. Twice a day, I slip on flip flops, bypass the pile of unopened mail on the floor and shuffle out of the house with wads of Kleenex to stifle my coughs, counting my steps until I can lie down again, hoping I don’t run into anyone in the elevator.   

So here I sit, lie, cough, my luggage still sitting like two heavy bouncers by the door. Maybe today I’ll get them upstairs. Unpacking is another story. When all my clean underwear is gone? Sounds like a plan. 

Copyright Sandra Hart 2016©. All Rights Reserved

 

MY TEN YEAR JOURNEY FOR CLOSURE

I will not mourn although my heart is torn, Oh love forever lost! I will not mourn. Heinrich Heine

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Places Within My Heart: My Journey Along The River Of Life

LUXOR, EGYPT 1984

In spite of the large fans circulating far above our heads on the ceiling, the lobby in our hotel at Luxor was only a few degrees cooler than the desert heat outside. As I looked around I would not have been surprised to see Humphrey Bogart sitting at the bar, with the polished mahogany piano and yellow ivories in the corner of the room twanging out soulful tunes. It was something right out of a movie set.

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I was brought back to reality by the the sound of a melodic English accent calling “Ma’am, please Ma’am.” I turned to see a tall Nubian porter dressed in a galabiyya. His long sinewy body moved gracefully toward us and his face was long, thin and etched with life.

“Bags, Ma’am. How many?”

Before I could reply, his strong arms scooped up our baggage.

“Follow me, nice room, end of hall, just right for you, Ma’am.”

His head turned back our way and he flashed a leathery grin as he darted away with us double-stepping to keep up with his long-legged strides. He led us down the long dark hallway and stopped just right off the corridor to a massive door marked with the brass number ‘8’.

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The unlocked door swung open to reveal a large open space with floor-to-ceiling windows on the far side. Tall green louvers opened on either side letting in the hot morning sun. A double bed and chair on the right, and to the left a doorway that led to a smaller room that was to serve as my son’s space while we were here.

The high ceiling had the familiar fans like those in the lobby and were slowly moving the stale air about the room. I tilted my face upwards to catch the slight swirling of air when my eyes caught something dark on the ceiling. I slid my sunglasses down to the edge of my nose to get a clearer view, “What are…..”

My son craned his neck upward.

“They’re moving up there alright! Wow! What are they?” Emerson said.

“Not to worry Ma’am.They are harmless-they will not bother you,” said the Nubian.

“Just little lizards up there,” he said as he motioned upward toward the ceiling. “They’re not looking to eat you,” he added with a slight chuckle. “Less bugs to eat on you, they have big appetite.”

I wasn’t too sure I believed him but his cool manner was somewhat convincing.

Emerson went to check out his quarters and I walked to the tall window near the bed. The view was rather surreal. Lush grass grew on the ground below and in the center I could see a small pool half filled with dirty water, algae clinging to the edges where the water met the cracked sides of the cement pond. Neglect and the desert heat had obviously taken it’s toll on this tiny oasis in the unkept gardens.

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I imagined that in it’s prime the gardens must have been meticulously manicured with every detail taken care of by a host of gardeners, I envisioned lovely ladies with umbrellas and big hats, fluttering fans and flowing white linens floating around the grounds on the arms of their distinguished English gentleman.

I can’t remember how long I had been standing there, but suddenly, a veil of sadness began to envelop me. My body shivered and an invisible hand lightly whisked across my shoulder. An overwhelming feeling of loneliness reached down into the deepest pocket of my soul. The years of un-cried tears welled, spilling past my lashes, streaming down my cheeks. A river coursing uncontrollably from my eyes.

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Who would’ve thought my life would be this. As a child I had such innocent and positive dreams for what I thought was my true destiny. Who would’ve guessed it wouldn’t be like in the movies I yearned to be in long ago. And in that room in Luxor, Egypt, a place far away from my home, far away from my roots, my life and memories I had repressed for too many painful years came flooding to the surface.

I had my plan and God had His. My plan for my life had been cast aside. It didn’t matter. For the first time in years, I knew I would be okay. I could heal. Finally, I understood and accepted. Finally, I could forgive God. And I could cry.

Author’s Note: The preceding is an excerpt from my memoir/journal I kept during a trip I made to Cairo, Egypt and then down the Nile. This journey had the unexpected result in my healing from the trauma of my husband’s illness and murder years prior.

Available: Print, Kindle, Nook Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Copyright Sandra Hart 2002-2014

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Empty Rooms

“How is the house?” I asked my caretaker over the phone.

“Lonley.” he said.

I hung up feeling quite sad because I knew he was right. Houses have souls. Empty houses are lonely.

Each time I am away for a long period of time, opening the door I don't see the home I left. It looks a bit older, sad and not the place I remembered when I locked the door behind me.

A house becomes just a house when empty. It takes the noise, running about, chattering, fighting, loving and living to make a house a home. Without life inside its walls, a house dies. Truly.

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Waiting For The Vultures

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In Greta Alfero’s dramatic film rendering that I recently watched, the hearty gourmands in Dutch seventeenth century renderings usually featured are not a ruddy faced group of raucous Dutch or Flemish burghers, but a gluttonous swarm of vultures. Watching the vultures devour with gluttony took me back to a visit I made to Mumbai, India.

(This may not be my most popular post, but it is a reminder of what past memory I didn’t want to capture.)

March, 2006……….

Our guide in Mumbai (old Bombay) with his fair hair and English schoolboy-scrubbed-complexion was a dichotomy to me as soon as he spoke. His speech was that of a born East Indian. Had I closed my eyes, Mahatma Gandhi could have been standing before me. He had a distinct and strong Hindi dialect.

“My father was a classical musician born in Bombay and my mother was an opera singer from England,” he said when I remarked about his fair complexion. So, I thought, there is my answer. Riddle solved.

We hopped into his car and began our first day of touring in this colorful and very populated city of old Bombay. Our first stop was to be The Hanging Gardens. Slowly we made our way through the oppressive heat and crowded streets, past oxen drawn carts, bicycles and tut-tuts carrying tourists. Soon we began to wind around up a long hill to areas with more greenery than we had seen before.

The Hanging Gardens, in Mumbai, also known as Pherozeshah Mehta Gardens, are terraced gardens perched at the top of Malabar Hill, on its western side, just opposite the Kamala Nehru Park. We found them to be the greenest place we had seen in our Mumbai travels yet. They provided sunset views over the Arabian Sea and featured numerous hedges carved into the shapes of animals – green and beautiful. The park was laid out in 1881 by Ulhas Ghapokar over Bombay’s main reservoir, some say to cover the water from the potentially contaminating activity of the nearby Tower of Silence, to be our second destination. The Tower is a circular, raised structure used by Parsi for exposure of the dead, particularly to scavenging birds.

As we ascended to the top of the hill beyond the gardens we had just left, I could see large birds, vultures, I assumed, circling above the treetops. Gliding smoothly around, riding, cutting clean swaths high over our heads, again and again. I knew why they were there. I had done my homework. Sustenance was nearby. Our driver was a member of the sect, Parsi, and therefore allowed, at least partially, in that restricted area near the gardens that is closed to non-Parsees.

We knew the Parsi have an unusual method of disposal of the dead. The Parsi corpse is exposed to the rays of the sun, and the corpse is consumed or devoured by birds of prey — crows vultures, or kites.

As in Greta’s piece that took little over 10 minutes for the vultures to devour, it takes an hour or two at the Tower of Silence.

When we arrived at the entrance to the area, we chose not to go further. Just seeing the vultures above circling their prey, human flesh, was enough. Just the thought of what was happening beyond the gates was morbid to me.

In a way, in India, with little space alone for the living, I can see why cremation, or feeding dead human flesh to vultures would be practiced. Although, probably, the Parsi have a religious reason for such an ending, an ending after life is gone from the body that has nothing to do with available burial space, the sense of it all may be there somehow.

I know I am fortunate to have traveled the world many times, climbed the Great Wall of China, on my hands and knees practically crawled into the claustrophobic Great a Pyramid, endured the one hour trip by steps to the top of Masada in the Israeli desert, and up the 268 steps to the Tian Tan Buddha in Lantau. But, please believe me, just peaking through the fence into the Parsi burial grounds was more than I could handle. I just couldn’t do it. I didn’t ever want that memory stored anywhere.

As a result, turning the car around, our driver then followed our wishes and descended the hill toward the next stop, to something, to some place that would clean the air. A place where the sun and active human life are hard at work doing what they do. The remarkable open air laundries, Dhobi Ghat.

(Through my research I have since learned the Parsis are followers of one of the oldest, if not the oldest revealed religion in the world -Zoroastrianism. Globally, as a community, the Parsis number barely a hundred thousand. But it is not by numbers that this community can be judged, for no less a person than Mahatma Gandhi has recognized: “I am proud of my country, India, for having produced the splendid Zoroastrian stock, in numbers beneath contempt, but in charity and philanthropy, perhaps unequalled, certainly unsurpassed.”)

(And as another side note, there are far less vultures in number each year and the Parsi are concerned about the future and what that will bring to their burial ritual.)

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My Berlin Post Script

Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church left as bombed during WWII

As for my Berlin connection, my daughter and grandson and I visited Berlin in 2008 during Octoberfest. We stayed at The Upstalsbloom Hotel in East Germany close to the rail lines that took us to Alexanderplatz and access to all points in Berlin. We took the Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus around the city and saw the best of Berlin. It is the easiest way to independently tour the city highlights.

Berlin is such a beautiful city that has been reenergized in the best architectural way.  They even have left a few WWII buildings in their bombed condition for remembrance of what humanity can do to one another. The Holocaust Museum is free to all visitors and is a moving testament to the past history of what can easily happen in a society driven by a mad man.

So I leave my memories of Ursula with this posting and have to move on to today. But I will never again forget  and set aside my letters from Ursula. Back in the Balfour box they go again, but this time not forgotten. I promise.

Brandenburg Gate
My family at Checkpoint Charlie
Billboard at Checkpoint Charlie
Portions of Berlin Wall are left along old all and markers mark the wall line where no longer standing.
Hop On bus with a big furry traveler along for the ride

Getting Started

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A New Chapter

As an author, yet even more as a woman who has hit Fifty And Beyond it is always a challenge every time I am given an opportunity to open a new chapter in my life. Every day seems to bring more surprises. Some great and some not so great. But living has taught me to take lessons from the good stuff and let the other roll on by.

Looking into my mirror the other day and realizing time was flying by and that it was going so fast that my reflection is really becoming my mother’s face,somehow snowballed into my thinking about the woman I used to be and my life back before the white hair and wrinkles. All of this nonsense started my thinking of the earlier “me” and my life in my late twenties. My lost girlfriends of the past started haunting me. Google I said to myself as I typed in Donna Tabor. We raised our children together in the same neighborhood and both had careers in television. After we lost a mutual friend that was our thread to one another, it snapped and I lost contact with her for years. Google was going to be my new thread to my past. Eureka! Through the magic of the internet with a click of ‘return’ I found her.

And what I found was beyond my wildest imagination regarding my friend-a woman whom I discovered gave up her career in television years ago, joined the Peace Corps and then has devoted the rest of her adult life in Nicaragua helping all of God’s creatures, both two and four-legged. Her organization is Building New Hope based out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

My life that I thought was rather accomplished, pales in comparison to hers. My heart and greatest respect goes out to her and her dedication to others less fortunate.

What a good day when we were able to knot the thread that was broken so many years ago. A good way for me to begin the first step here as I blog about what a wonderful life we can have the other side of fifty!

You can find Donna here on wordpress and read about her life of giving, donna tabor.wordpress.com.o