About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Sunday Singalong - Resurrecting


It is Easter Sunday as I write this and I've been enjoying music and talks on the subject of Christ and his resurrection (no, I'm not going to preach here) and the seasonal concept of "rebirth." I like to think of the world blossoming and becoming "new," even in places where many don't "see" the seasons. I've been living in California for 50 years as of this summer and can say that I have always "seen" the seasons and the changes. Granted, some changes are more subtle than others and some seasons stick around for just a moment or two - spring has been particularly brief in the last few years and the rains (AKA the "rainy season," our version of winter) have been significantly brief, also. But this year . . . this year it is quite the season of rebirth as our "rainy season" was plentiful with product - too the detriment of many areas in my general vicinity (property, houses, and people have endured large amounts of suffering because it appeared that the "liquid sunshine" would never end; no sooner was a mudslide cleaned up, felled trees were cleared away, and water pumped from homes that the next deluge would appear and here we go again. But today, in fact, much of the last week, the weather has been amazing - in the 70s and even 80s, some days; mild winds (for the most part); and finally the sense Noah must have felt when the 40 days & nights of torrents stopped and the rainbow came out (yup, even had some rainbows around here). The flowers are particularly gorgeous (and overwhelming to those with pollen allergies). The birds have been quite boisterous. All those signs that spring has sprung are evident (as we sort of cautiously enjoy the outdoors, all the while keeping an eye on the forecast - is it really over?).

Almost every year since I've lived here, there have been the following comments, come April: "This is going to be Southern California's worst fire season ever!" The rationale is that, when there is not enough rain and we again reach drought conditions, all vegetation that is on the hills has turned brown and ripe for bursting into flames, almost without more than a sideways look. However, when the rain has been plentiful, especially into March, the greenery is obvious as for as the eye can see, meaning that, come summer and the temperatures (at least in my area) reach into the 90s and 100s, the multitude of fuel (even if not all dried out) means "Katy, bar the door! The wild fires are in the wind!" I know that last year, with the drought in high gear, the fires were everywhere and one couldn't go more than 20 or 30 miles without being diverted due to smoke or fire. We wore masks to be able to breathe the air as much as protect from diseases. 

And  so, as I observe the proliferation of flowers (OK, many are weeds, disguised as flowers) I think about the region being resurrected. And the weather is perfect where I am (wish I could bottle it to open deep into July or August when I'm certain the temperatures will never again be below 3 figures). Thinking of the rebirth or personal realizations or circle of seasons, etc. so many references in songs remind us that "tomorrow is another day" and we will sing again (in our hearts, if not our voices).

out my front door, today, 9 April 2023 
(likely to be a little less green in a month or so)

I am particularly fond of an obscure Tom Paxton song (yes, I do listen to other music, but I've enjoyed Tom's for so many years that his songs come quickest into my mind): "Spin and Turn." Now, I did try to find a copy of the audio, for free, but have been unable to find a link to one. It's on his album Live, for the Record recorded in 1996, I believe. It's available from Amazon as well as Tom's website. Anyway, here are the lyrics (for those familiar with Tom's music, the verses and chorus follow the tune of his "Fare thee Well, Cisco" - and if you like the lyrics and don't know the best way to get a copy of the song, let me know sometime and I'll sing & play it for you).

“Spin and Turn” – Tom Paxton, ©1996


1)  Deep in the night a baby takes his first deep breath and cries,
His momma’s tired and happy, Daddy’s head is in the skies;
The fiddler resins up her bow, And the guitar tunes a string,
The circle dancers part, To let another others join the ring.


Spin and turn, Life goes on and on.
Circles around the sun Till the final dance is done.
Spin and turn, We’ve been here and gone.

2) Early in life the young man Finds a woman who is wise,
He takes her in his arms And finds tomorrow in her eyes;
They dance around the circle Till the two of them are one,
They do the dance of life Until a new life has begun.



Old men telling children Of the world when they were young;
Children telling old men of their dreams;
Mother, daughters, fathers, sons,
Around and around, the circle runs In streams.

3) Till deep in the night an old man Takes his final steps and sighs,
Across the lake the music Echoes to the midnight skies;
While, deep within, the ancient song Is rising in his breast,
For him, the hour is late And now it’s time he took his rest.



And deep in the night a baby Takes her first breath and cries,
Her momma’s tired and happy Daddy’s head is in the skies -

Spin and turn Life goes on and on.  

Your turn!

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