Favorite Things

Woman Astronaut Sets Record


No one really ever pays much attention to female astronauts, as if they’re just some kind of extra cabin crew sent along to provide the coffee and snacks. This BBC article is well worth reading and will introduce you to a very special astronaut.

Meg Music Posts, My Weird World

My First Guitar Was Cigar Box


Here’s a BBC article about a musician who taught himself keyboards by playing on paper keys.

How I learned :

I experimented with string sounds when I was little by wrapping rubber bands around a cigar box. In my household my brother had the main musical instrument, a beautiful electric organ with 3 keyboards and full sets of pedals, he became a very accomplished church organist.

I started out experimenting with anything that made a sound then I borrowed a little guitar from a friend who bought it with green “saving stamps” (that was a grocery thing, you got “stamps” as you bought groceries and saved them in booklets you could trade for inexpensive items).

When I’d taught myself 3 songs on the cheap guitar my parents were so impressed that they took me down to a pawn shop and got me my first real guitar. I was in 12 year old heaven and it was a really nice Guild acoustic.

My Mom took me out to a pro shop to see about guitar lessons. The owner turned me away because he said my hands were too small. So, I went home and taught myself, playing with different string tunings and fingering patterns. I made up my own style and played six and twelve string guitars throughout my career.


Holidays, World Cultures

Happy St. Nicholas Day !

In the days leading up to 5 or 6 December (starting when Saint Nicholas has arrived by steamboat around mid-November), young children put their shoes in front of the chimneys and sing Sinterklaas songs. Often they put a carrot or some hay in their shoes, as a gift to St. Nicholas’ horse. In recent years the horse has been named Schimmel or Amerigo in the Netherlands and Slecht Weer Vandaag (bad weather today) in Flanders. The next morning they find a small present in their shoes, ranging from sweets to marbles or some other small toy. 

When I was little we celebrated Saint Nicholas Day, I think it was a bit more simple but the idea was to remember the real Saint who started the Christmas gifting tradition.

We’d put our shoes out in front of our bedroom doors when we went to bed and found a little candy, a wind-up toy and a St. Nicholas card in the morning.

One year, I got greedy. I figured that, if I had bigger shoes, I’d get more goodies so I borrowed a pair of my Dad’s shoes and set those out. The next morning there was coal inside them. I was sad all day and went to visit my grandpa where I told how I’d been naughty. He comforted me and I forgot about the whole thing.

As if by magic, when we got home that night there were my little shoes by my door with an orange, a chocolate bear and a little toy inside. I was mystified by the whole thing because I couldn’t figure out who had put the goodies there.

This is the wonder and joy of giving. May you find your own magic today and all season long.