Weekly Wisdom – The Penny Mason Post

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmastime.”
― Laura Ingalls Wilder

Robins On the Lawn Trigger Memories of Secure Times

Watching robins hop across the lawn seems mundane to some, but for me it conjures the peace I experienced when I was a child, with nothing more pressing to do than study the details of nature playing out in the front yard.

Wherever I am, when I see the robins, a timeless species which doesn’t unnecessarily change its habits, in my mind I observe them from the window of a home that hasn’t been mine for some time.

My parents are there, my pets from that era. Cares were few back then, except for the responsibilities I invented so I would have something to attend to over summer vacation.

Some days life seems exceedingly difficult. But moments with the robins refresh my spirit. I take a deep breath of the summer scented air, and go on living, with a bit more optimism

‘Twas the Summer of ’69 – The Best Days of Our Lives?



Happy 50th Anniversary of the Woodstock Music Festival!

This Bryan Adams tune, written, I believe, in the 1980’s has sentimental implications for those of us alive in the late 1960’s.

I was eight years old, going on eighteen. Standing on my own parents’ porch, I thought the good times would last forever. My dad had a simple job but was well paid. We weren’t rich but never worried about money if something broke or we needed to visit the doctor. My mother stayed at home with me.

Certainly, Viet Nam and the drug problem were downers, but we were on our way to a society of equality for all, enjoying the high point in the tide of mid-twentieth-century postwar prosperity for the burgeoning middle class.

1969 was one of the most happening summers in our history. Young people were politically active, prolifically promoting agendas focused on love and peace.

I remember hearing about Woodstock on the radio. It sounded cool to eight year old hippie, me. Too bad the “Aquarian Exposition” celebrating peace and music turned into such a mess, on the field and in the crowd.

I wouldn’t have loved the mix-ups, the mud, the mayhem, but I still celebrate the music and the movement to create a world without war, with rules fair to all.

I never dreamed America would change so much by this time in my life. I’m not yet even a senior citizen but . . .

When I was a kid – we were told that each generation of the middle classes that followed would be more prosperous than the one before it.

The opposite trend is true today. Income inequality is rampant, thanks to unbridled corporate greed. Few are standing up for the rights of the average working citizen.

Woodstock didn’t really accomplish a lot but the spirit of the movement inspired the young to become active in the promotion of peace and individual freedom.

Perhaps you’re too young to remember this hippie music festival but would like to learn more about it? Or maybe you were around at the time but wish to review the details? Either way, here’s a description of the way the event played out.

I don’t recommend some of the behaviors exhibited by the hippie activists, but today, we are much in need of a movement headed by young people, an idealistic, organized effort to promote peace, equality, philanthropy, fair hiring practices and pay scales.

Citizens in their twenties and thirties must begin to vote, communicate with leaders, run for office. Only by a renewed sense of activism, can the middle class lifestyle we once took for granted return as a reality for the majority of workers.

Service industry positions are just as important as corporate management, yet a great chasm exists between the lifestyles of those who call the shots, and those who repair plumbing, remove trash, wait on tables, stock shelves.

It wasn’t my intention to digress from celebrating a half-century-old music fest. But when I reflect upon the happenings of the summer of ’69, I channel the sense of security that filled the streets where factory workers relaxed on weekends, see the lovely, stylish ranch houses with payments modest in comparison to incomes.

I travel down country lanes in memory, recalling the small farms where neighbors earned a modest but sufficient living, enjoyed a peaceful existence.

In addition to Woodstock, there were many intriguing happenings – both positives and negatives, but all definitive, over that 1969 summer.

The moon landing, the Met’s winning streak, Slaugherhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, the Stonewall protests, the Manson murders .  .   .

But most of all, I recall my favorite pair of orange shorts, paired with my sky blue and white striped sleeveless top, shiny yellow sandals, the canary colored waist tie I took from my dress and made into a headband the week of Woodstock, complete with a magic-marker-drawn peace sign, and the word “love” written in bubble letters.

I remember that time now, as though it were a fantasy, the department stores that sold quality merchandise for the new American lifestyle – where my mom bought things for our new ranch house.

The fast food chains were moving in and every weekend Dad would drive us to the latest. We would sit outside in the shade, me asking for a rock station, while he tuned in an Indians baseball game.

Today our small town lives are stressed and uncertain in comparison, but during this fair summer season let us celebrate the golden anniversary of that monumental year by playing the music and planning for change.

Lets start a modern day movement to create a better future for everyone, inspired by peace, love, and the music of Woodstock.


Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book Post – 7 Birdwatch!

I grew up in the pages of the Golden Field Guides.

I can identify most common species found in the Midwestern states where I grew up.

There’s no more relaxing and carefree way to spend a day than to lye on one’s back in the grass like this little bunny, watching bluebirds or whatever avian creatures fly through the sky above.

It’s not quite springtime, so I won’t be lying on the lawn today. A walk in the woods to watch woodpeckers, chickadees and jays is a great way to commune with the avian population any time of year.

Or if the day is particularly damp, cold, or dreary, sitting by a window watching a well-stocked feeder might be better.






A Wonderful Gift of Nostalgia for Christmas – and some timeless advice for the New Year as well . . .

Who didn’t love Little Golden Books? Such fun stories, and while they didn’t always contain a message as direct as Aesop’s Fables, they carried subtle messages for living well, with grace and good manners.

Over the first weeks of the New Year – or maybe spaced out over a few months, I’ll be tossing in some pages of this great book, with perhaps a few comments of my own.

Hope the whimsy and colorful illustrations take you back to childhood, and that the simple snippets of wisdom help you live a less stressed life today.