Monday, November 30, 2009

Drawn ...

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Chris Messenger, the professor of my pop literature class, posed to us a question to which we were to write a reaction.

I know that this happened a long time ago because the assignment arrived on a ditto, all blurry letters and purple. I also know that this happened a long time ago because I put the date on the paper I wrote: September 27, 1990.

The question in question was: "Once we've known Shakespeare or James Joyce, what do we make of a Stephen King or a James Michener?"

Chris was one of my favorite professors, not only because he was teaching a class for which we were required to watch "Blade Runner," but because he was one of those people with whom I was able to really connect.

I began my paper thusly: "It's like this: Willie the Shake (as one of my high school English teachers liked to call him) ... ."

Chris put his own parentheses around "as one of my high school English teachers" and added a little note:

"Those relevant devils --"

The relevant devil to whom I was referring in my paper is now affectionately, if not particularly creatively, known as English Teacher Dave. He, likewise, is another person with whom I was able to really connect, as evidenced by the fact that I met him when I was 15 and a student and today I am 40 and some days wish I were still a student and we are still in touch.

He called last night to invite me over this week. He and his wife are hosting the play-at-home version of The Moth that aired on NPR and is now apparently a podcast.

It's a simple format: real people telling real stories. To each other. In real time. In person. Like, while breathing the same air.

Dave's friend and former fellow colleague Donna is the inspiration for the evening, and she has decided that the evening's theme will be "Firsts."

Those who attend can share a story or simply listen. I thought I might like to just listen, but then, sometimes, in the right setting, with the right people, and the right amount of alcohol, I like to talk, too.

So I started thinking about what "first" I'd share. I immediately eliminated anything too prosaic – not that others shouldn't talk about their first kiss, for example, but I think my account of that moment is unremarkable – but then found myself really wondering about firsts.

There are big firsts: first birthday, first day of school, first kiss, first car. But every moment is a first. We just don't consider them in the context of a greater relevance.

What I arrived at for the impending salon at Dave's, though, is that I have not had enough firsts.

It is a story I am rather sure I want to tell. Though knowing my propensity for tears, I thought I might write it out, since writing is what I do, and perhaps ask Dave to read it. We'll see.

If I write it, I'll post it. If I "perform" it, I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

All Good Things ...

Last month, I was honored to write about Donna, the daughter of a high-school friend.

In that post, I conveyed information about a fund her parents were creating to enable dance scholarships in Donna's name.

They've broadened their focus, however, and have created the Donna's Good Things Fund.

Next Sunday, December 6, a group of artists will gather for:

GOOD ART for GOOD THINGS is a night of fun and somewhat raucous theater to celebrate a serious cause.

Phil Ridarelli
Andy Bayiates
Jason Meyer
Beowulf vs. Grendel: A toy theater spectacle!

With music by The Jenn Rhoads Project!

All proceeds from this event will go to the Donna's Good Things Fund in honor of Donna Quirke Hornik (2005-2009).

Donna's Good Things is an agency for good works, good deeds, GOOD THINGS in Donna's name: dance scholarships. Portable DVD players for kids going through treatment on long hospital stays. Essentially, continuing Donna's special gift of spreading joy and light.

Tickets are on a sliding scale: $15 - $25.

Space is limited: RESERVATIONS ARE STRONGLY ENCOURAGED! Send yours in to!

(You can click on the image above to see a larger version.)

Come one, come all and support this amazing cause. You won't give a better gift all season.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Blip Bliss ...

I like to stay well behind the technology curve. I still watch analog TVs. I text using the numerical keypad ... of a RAZR. I had to upgrade the RAM in my iMac a few years back in order to make it iPod compatible. I'm amazed that I don't churn my own butter.

And so today was the day I lost my virginity. I'd heard of Blip. I'd seen Blip selections appear on Twitter. But I'd never ventured to the land of Blip.

Until today.

Wow. And I thought I was unproductive before ... .

Blip is a hybrid beauty, part Twitter, part iTunes. Kinda. It lets you play DJ, but with commentary. You should be able to see my station here, but if not (or if so), I'm going to include a rundown of my first day of Blipping, both the tunes and the commenary. It all started with my desire to share a tune on Twitter, but my lack of desire to link to a YouTube video. Enter: Blip.

1. Out of the Sky, Van Hunt
Are you hip to Van Hunt's "Out of the Sky"? Very groovy tune.

2. No More Tears, Ozzy Osbourne
Hello, Ozzy! Or Dave Matthews.

3. Let's Dance, David Bowie
What better way to spend your lunch hour?

4. Be Here Now, Ray LaMontagne
Oh, Ray LaMontagne, you soothe me.

5. Burrito, Pete Yorn
Having fun, figuring out this Blip business. Anybody hungry?

6. Hard Sun, Eddie Vedder
Eddie. One of my favoritest voices. (And thanks, new Blip pals. Will get up to speed!)

7. Love Reign O'er Me, Pearl Jam
Speaking of Eddie, I know this may be blasphemy to some, but this version beats The Who's.

8. D'yer Ma'ker, Led Zeppelin
Wow, I do not listen to this song enough. I'm also getting nothing done, thanks to Blip.

9. Downtown Lights, Annie Lennox
OK, adding my favorite female vocalist for some chick balance to this playlist. Now, must work!

10. Only Time Will Tell, Asia
Oh, hell. One more. This damn thing is like crack. Not that I would know.

11. Blue Valentines, Tom Waits
I find this tune goes especially well with a glass of red wine. And a dark room. And then another glass of red wine.

12. Ruhe, Schiller
If you find the bit of harsh-sounding German distracting, don't fret. It's over quickly and doesn't return.

13. I Feel You, Schiller
"Now is the time on Sprockets when we listen to Schiller!" Another cut from Herr Schiller, this one in English. He could be in "Twilight"! : o )

14. Somewhere Down the Crazy River, Robbie Robertson
Tom Waits-esque, but Robbie's not in need of a lozenge. It's too hard to pick one Robertson tune. I love 'em all.

15. Imagine, John Lennon
What would the world be like if this song was daily required listening for each and every one of us?

16. Reason to Believe, Bruce Springsteen
Bruce blew my mind the first time I saw him perform this song this way. And it still knocks me on my ass. Genius, this man.

17. Baby Did a Bad, Bad Thing, Chris Isaak
Someday, when I am really drunk, I will get up the nerve to sing this in a bar. P.S. I never get really drunk.

18. Angel Song, Ezio
The studio cut of this tune is even better than this version, but it's cool to see these guys extract so much sound from two guitars.

19. Brown Eyed Girl, Everclear
This selection is inspired by the original, which I just saw in @PaulCwalina's feed. And now I must get far away from Blip for the night.

20. Io, Helen Stellar
OK, just one more, for my friend Marce, with the hope that this tune and some deep breathing is enough to eradicate his headache.

Seriously, it's a massive time-suck! Stay far, far away! Or don't. If you become a DJ, let me know your handle so I can check out your station.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Closing Emotional Doors ...

Having slipped over the transom that divided the previous decade from the present, I find myself in a new headspace.

I want to clear my slate. I want to embark upon this next phase of my life with everything in its place.

The accoutrement from the party is packed away. The only evidence that remains are the birthday cards taped up where holiday cards will soon take their place, and ever-dwindling packets of cheese and other noshy bits in the fridge.

These days, it is order I seek. Once the guests left on Saturday, I considered merely rinsing out wine glasses and stacking platters and tackling the whole shebang in the morning. But instead, I filled the sink with warm water and soap and proceeded to make everything clean. I didn't want to wake up to dirty dishes on Sunday. I wanted to go to bed knowing that things were done.

And in the few days that have passed since, with the house in order, the external manifestations managed, my desire for order has turned inward.

I have, for far too long, held on to relationships that had long since faded. They persisted only because of mutual refusals to let them go. But those tethers to one another have kept us rooted, our respective spheres limited by the radiuses of our selves, our hands clasped at the metaphorical midpoint.

But what is served by such situations? Not growth, but stagnation. The clumsiness of a three-legged race.

And so, now that the glassware is washed and dried and stowed away, now that the linens are stripped, and the furniture is once again configured, the tasks at hand are those in my heart.

It is time to close the doors on those relationships, time to tuck that love away, turning the knobs and pressing my palm against the smooth grain, shutting them silently, reverently.

I will still pause there from time to time, considering what's on the other side. But I will remind myself that there are open doors ahead, beckoning me to walk through.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Let Us Remain Together: The Birthday Disc 2009

For more than a handful of years now, I've celebrated my birthday with a group of friends. I pick a restaurant and we meet up and have lunch. Several years ago, I hit upon the idea of creating a CD for each guest, a party favor/placecard hybrid. Each disc includes each guest's name as well as a note on the cover and a collection of songs, which sometimes center around a theme and which sometimes, like this year, are a merely a collection of tunes I like for various reasons.

This year, I didn't convene a group of friends in a restaurant. This year, my friends – and family – came to me. So I didn't need placecards, but I wanted to keep the CD tradition alive, so I made them for everyone, as I have in years past, as party favors.

At the top of the cover, along with the year, is this note: "This collection is dedicated to Dave Waldon."

The remainder of the cover of this year's CD reads:

Family and friends:
Some of you are new to my birthday CD tradition.
Each year, I put together a collection of songs.
Some have great meaning. Some are just great tunes.
This year, I’ve included some songs that were hits during
the past 40 years as well as some more-current favorites.
My life is filled with music.
It brings me great joy.
But nothing brings me greater joy than the love I feel for all of you.
Thank you for being a part of my life.
Here’s to the next 40.

The songs are ordered very particularly, for flow from one track to the next. Try to listen along in your head. Here are the songs and my reason for choosing each:

1. Gonna Fly Now (Theme from "Rocky"), Bill Conti
I listen to this tune every morning. It is the epitome of a theme song.

2. Help!, The Beatles
I had to include something from the boys. I considered "All You Need Is Love." I considered "Paperback Writer." But when I fired up "Help!", I laughed. The notion of including a song titled "Help!" on a collection of tunes for my 40th birthday amused me greatly.

3. Everybody Wants To Rule The World, Tears For Fears
I love the opening lyric: “Welcome to your life, there’s no turning back ... ."

4. Wisdom, Gran Ronde
It's just a kicky tune.

5. Follow You, Follow Me, Genesis
This is one of the tunes that was chosen with Dave in mind. He loved Genesis, though he loved Peter Gabriel Genesis far more than Phil Collins Genesis.

6. The Fixer, Pearl Jam
I love Eddie's voice, so he and the band often make appearances on my birthday CDs. This is yet another in a long, long line of great Pearl Jam cuts.

7. Hello It's Me, Todd Rundgren
A lovely, bittersweet song.

8. Alive And Kicking, Simple Minds
A song that hooks me and doesn't let go.

9. Cadillac Ranch, Bruce Springsteen
One of The Boss's less-famous greats; I love the keyboards in this tune.

10. (Don't Fear) The Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult
The choice of this song is in no way a commentary on my age. The reason for its inclusion is simple: because we all need more cowbell.

11. Out Of The Sky, Van Hunt
I dig the bass in this tune, and the overall groove. Maybe I’m not the whitest girl in the world after all. And check out the opening lyrics: "I've reached the end of my story / and I still don't understand the plot." Now those are some relatable lyrics!

12. Fly Like An Eagle, Steve Miller Band
“Time keeps on slippin’ into the future ... .”

13. Why I Am, Dave Matthews Band
This song blows my mind. It's just outstanding. Tempo run amok!

14. September, Earth Wind & Fire
This song, in particular, is for Dave. He was born in September, and he gave this song to me. I've always loved it, but for these specific reasons, I love it even more.

15. Higher, Ezio
Knock-out guitars in this tune. If you don't know of this duo, you should. Stop what you're doing and get your hands on some of their music.

16. Love Will Find A Way, Pablo Cruise
Doesn't it always? I sure hope so.

17. In Your Eyes [Live], Jeffrey Gaines
An amazing acoustic cover of an outstanding song, sung by an outstanding artist.

18. Something About You, Level 42
Selected with a smile for my mom, who remembers me dancing to this tune with our dog, Spanky.

19. Louie, Louie, Robert Plant
Yeah, you read that right: Robert Plant and his hair singing "Louie, Louie"! Because I try to include Plant on every disc. And because this tune belongs on a party CD.

20. "40", U2
Because it was just too perfect to not put at the end of this collection. "I will sing, sing a new song ... ."

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Birthday Revisited ...

A stillness has settled over the house, quiet. There are no errands to run, no foods to prepare, no lists to consult. The house has been returned, nearly, to its pre-party state, with one distinct difference: It's clean. Parties are good prompters of house-cleaning.

So. Now it is Sunday. The birthday whirlwind has given way to a whisper of a breeze, the kind that barely stirs the curtains or nudges a leaf across the grass.

Friday, the official day, was spent largely in preparation for Saturday. But there was plenty of birthdayness therein. My mom stopped by at our appointed walking time, unsure if we were going for a walk (nope) then returned with my father later for my requested birthday breakfast of cheese potato soup.

Yes, soup.

On Wednesday, out walking, she asked me what I'd like for breakfast on my birthday. Mom makes a big deal out of birthdays. Always has. When I was little, I'd have breakfast in bed and whatever I wanted for dinner and she'd make a cake or buy a cake depending on my request and she and dad would festoon the kitchen with crepe-paper streamers – two colors, always, twisted together, and balloons at all the edges where the streamers were taped to the ceiling.

Little has changed. Well, the crepe paper is a thing of the past.

While we walked, she ticked off breakfast ideas: pancakes, French toast (mom makes sensational French toast), ham, bacon, the usual breakfast suspects. No, I said, over and over, that wasn't what I wanted.

I often don't know what I have a taste for, especially a couple of days in advance.

But then I decided on soup. A restaurant near me makes cheese potato soup that will make you weep. So that's what I announced as my choice.

"Soup?" my mom asked.

"Yep," I said, as we kept walking. "I should get used to drinking my meals."


So we had soup for my birthday breakfast. And I opened my gift, a serving piece, made by a local potter, that I've had my eye on for some time. They had also brought an arrangement of ruby-red carnations and assorted greenery. A few weeks ago, I'd walked into my parent's house and spied carnations on the counter that were the most incredible shade of deep burgundy, so mom had called the florist and asked them to put together an arrangement of them for my birthday. The flowers she picked up weren't exactly the shade she was hoping for, but they go very well with the curtains in my dining room.

And later, they left, and I set about preparing food for the party on Saturday. A lot of food. More food than we would possibly eat. I always know that, in the moment. I know that I'm overpreparing, and yet there's a tiny voice in my brain, a tiny Serbian voice, saying, "I don't know if this will be enough."

It is always enough. It is always enough times 10. But the Serbian voice will not be silenced.

It's a good thing I like leftovers.

Having washed a lot of dishes, I hopped in the shower hoping I hadn't depleted the hot water. I had not. So I showered and shampooed and tried to bend my hair to my will and headed over to mom and dad's for dinner.

Every year, mom makes lasagna for my birthday because every year, I want my mom's lasagna. It is the best. Ever. On this planet or any other.

I walked in just behind my brother and his family, greeted my cousins who'd flown in from New York, made my way into the kitchen, and spied a splint on my mother's hand.

"I had a little accident," she said. And proceeded to tell me that she slammed her finger in her car door and then took herself to the emergency room, since she'd broken a bone and required stitches.

My mother, ever the pragmatist, told the ER staff that she had to get out of there as soon as possible, as it was her daughter's 40th birthday and there were people coming over for dinner. An hour later, she was home, stitched and splinted and ready to go.

On the counter, among other noshy bits, was a divided dish filled half with dark chocolate-covered almonds and half with dark chocolate-covered raisins. I was happily munching away and made some mention about them, as they were an atypical appetizer (though mom had intended to put them in the living room and just hadn't gotten around to it before everyone arrived) and that's when others realized that they weren't black olives.

We sat down to dinner, the always-simple menu of lasagna, garlic bread, and salad, and then had cake, which is always white cake with lemon filling frosted with stabilized whipped cream, not that gritty bakery buttercream which I am convinced is simply sugar stirred into a vat of Crisco. Cutting the cake, I gave my nephew and niece pieces with flowers on them. Because no matter how old you are, there's something about a frosting flower on your piece of cake.

My cousin Patty retrieved the birthday loot from the living room and set it in front of me.

My brother's family contributed money in my name to The Heifer Project, an organization of which I am very fond. If you don't already know about it, you should. Click here to find out more.

I riffled through the tissue in the gift bag from Patty and Barry to find my way inside. I parted the paper and gasped. There, tucked amid all the black tissue, was a little blue box tied with a white satin ribbon.

My first-ever gift from Tiffany.

Inside the little blue box was a little blue suede pouch. Inside the little blue suede pouch was a sterling-silver floating heart pendant. Of course, I put it on right away.

Eventually, everyone began to stir and get ready to go home. I left with a little bit of lasagna (for breakfast the next morning) and the remainder of my cake.

Which I shared with mom on Saturday morning, with coffee. And then I proceeded to tackle the day's to-do list.

Patty and Barry came over to help with preparations and I surely could not have pulled off everything without them. They are very helpful sorts.

Once I crossed off all but one item on the list, they returned to my brother's house to get ready for the party. I intended to do the same – get ready, that is – but kept finding little things to do.

I eventually got in the shower. And then I cleaned the bathroom, the last item on the list.

P and B arrived again to help plate all the appetizers and arrange the spread. Mom and dad arrived with the dessert she was contributing to the offerings and in short order, everything was ready. All we needed was more guests.

Who arrived in a steady stream, perfect for greeting. Not everyone all at once, but a consistent flow of saying hello and taking coats and getting each person something to drink and then doing it all over again for the next arrival.

It was lovely to have a houseful of people, but not so many that I couldn't chat with everyone.

Despite the invitation's request of my guests that they not bring gifts, they brought gifts. Which was very thoughtful.

Many of them also brought wine. And champagne.

All of which was very much appreciated. The thank-you cards are waiting to be mailed. (Yes, Jay, I do have to send one to you, even though you always tell me they're not necessary.)

But I must say, of all the things everyone gave to me, what I cherish most from them is what they wrote in their cards. I didn't open gifts in front of everyone, I waited until I was alone. And I'm glad. Not that I really would have minded if they saw me cry, but I was grateful for the solitude so I could focus on what they had to say.

I am overwhelmed by everyone's kindness. And I am grateful to them for letting me know what's in their hearts. I, of course, feel the same way about them. Even more so, if that's possible. I am surrounded by amazing people. I am grateful for them beyond measure.

Their words are especially well timed. They give me courage, because sometimes it's scary to become who you are meant to be.

So today, with the dishes washed and the glassware packed away, I will bask in the need to do nothing in particular.

Once again, my love and thanks to all who made this birthday the best yet. You are gifts to me every day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Well, Hello, Forties! ...

I'm too tuckered to type at length, but so far, my forties can be summed up in one word: spectacular.

My love and thanks to all who made the day so special.

I have one remaining birthday wish: a good night's sleep.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Farewell, My Thirties ...

And so today is the last day of my 30s. Tomorrow, I will turn 40.

Technically speaking, I will not wake up as a 40-year-old as I was born in the evening.

So if I was of a mind, I could cling to my 30s for more than a few hours tomorrow.

But I won't.

Tomorrow, I embark upon my 40s.

Today, as I was running errands – so many errands – I took note of the fact that I felt not powerful, per se, but capable. There were things to be done and I was doing them.

Not that that should feel remarkable.

But I've long had the notion of the woman I would be in my 40s and I wondered as I drove if I will wake up tomorrow feeling differently, if I will feel as though a switch has been flipped.

And then I realized that the switch will be flipped – or not – by me.

Which has always been the case, of course. I am the switch-flipper, no one else.

But in ways I can't explain, there's something about turning 40 that feels empowering in an entirely new way.

So the cliché "Life begins at 40" is a cliché for a reason, it appears.

I am not one of those women who insists on staying 39 forever.

Grateful as I am for every day, if I had to choose one year to live again and again, forever, this year would not be that year. I will be happy to ring in 2010.

I've been waking up at ridiculous hours, which in turn means that I am tired, very tired, in the early evening.

I may well fall asleep soon and wake up sometime after midnight, my 30s in life's rear-view mirror.

I look forward to all the day will bring. Tomorrow, and every day hence.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Love ...

I'm not gay.

Some days, I think life would be easier if I were. I've surely not struck on a successful male-female equation.

But today is one of those days when I realize that there is nothing easier about being gay, not when a majority of the electorate in a state strips same-sex couples of their right to marry.

How heartbreaking.

I continue to be befuddled by the gay-marriage debate. What's the problem?

Why can't two people who love each other enough to get married get married?

I wrote the following more than four years ago. I'm still waiting for an answer:

I would truly appreciate it if someone who is not gay and who is against gay marriage could explain to me how allowing gay people to get married weakens the institution of marriage.

That seems to be the prevailing argument against granting gays the right to marry.

And I don't get it.

If churches want to ban gay marriage on Biblical grounds, that's up to the churches. But civil marriage is a legal union. It has no religious roots.

So why is it that my gay friends, who have been in loving, committed relationships for years, aren't allowed to get married because it will "weaken the institution of marriage," but Britney Spears can get married in Vegas, get it annulled 55 hours later, and basically say, "It was just a joke, y'all."

That doesn't weaken the institution of marriage?

The fact that "starter marriage" has entered our lexicon, that couples get married with a mutual shrug, saying, "Eh, if it doesn't work out, we'll just get a divorce," that doesn't weaken the institution of marriage?

Honestly, I don't get it.

I hope to get married some day. But if my friends Dick and John want to get married (they've been together longer than most straight married couples I know), how does that in any way alter what marriage will mean to me?

It doesn't. It won't.

Marriage: Two people who love each other and want to spend their lives together, right?

What am I missing?

Sunday, November 01, 2009

'Donna was singular.' ...

In 1987, days before our high-school graduation, Sheila signed my yearbook. She included a P.S.: "If I don't see you sooner, I'll see you in 10 years."

I didn't go to our 10-year high-school reunion. Nor did I go to our 20.

In early September, Sheila found me on Facebook. I was happy to hear from her. I asked about her life.

She replied, "Life kind of sucker punched me a couple of years ago. My daughter, Donna, named after my Mom who died of a brain tumor when I was pregnant, was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2007. She's 4 now and on hospice. That's the extreme Cliff Notes version. Other than that, pretty damn good."

"Well, that knocked the wind out of me," I wrote in response. "But I so admire you for living life every day to its fullest. What an amazing lesson for all of us."

Oh, I had no idea.

In the ensuing weeks, I would visit Donna's CaringBridge site and look at the pictures and videos her parents posted and read the posts they wrote.

Sheila was the editor of the yearbook she signed for me. She has always had a way with words. And she married a man, Jeremy, who writes with equal eloquence.

They began their CaringBridge journal on March 25, 2007, two days after Donna's diagnosis. The first sentence reads, "Donna was diagnosed with a brain tumor on Friday."

On October 19, 2009, Donna's Daddy, as he is known on the site, wrote, "This morning, sometime between 12:30 and 2, her parents sleeping on either side of her, Donna's heart stopped and she died. Her death was very peaceful."

But Donna's story continues in all who came to know her.

I asked Sheila for permission to write about her daughter and share the information about the charities to which donations can be made in celebration of her life.

Sheila replied that she would be honored to have me write about Donna.

But the honor is mine, entirely. I have been moved beyond measure by the life of this little girl. I never had the honor of meeting her, but she has inspired me to do more, to be more, to love more, to dance.

In celebration of her love of dancing, her parents, extraordinary people by all standards, are establishing a scholarship in her name. As Sheila has written, "If Donna can't dance, others should, and money should not be the obstacle to this."

Those who would like to contribute may send checks to:

Donna Quirke Hornik Fund
2649 W. Greenleaf Ave., 1E
Chicago, IL 60645

In addition, the family is encouraging donations to two charities that meant a great deal to Donna. The first is Children's Memorial and Dr. Stewart Goldman – Dr. Stew – who treated Donna with such care:

Neuro-Onc Research Fund
in honor of Donna
Box 30
Children's Memorial Hospital
2300 Childrens Plaza
Chicago IL 60614
Or their website:

In the field marked “My gift should benefit…” please type in, “Dr. Stewart Goldman.”

The second is Jill's House in Bloomington, Indiana, where they stayed for three months during radiation treatment.

Jill’s House
751 E. Tamarack Trail
Bloomington, Indiana 47408

As her parents so lovingly wrote in her obituary, "In her too brief life, Donna danced on the stage of the Auditorium Theater, consumed a mountain of macaroni and cheese, worried the winter trees were lonely and cold without their leaves and finally enjoyed the big girl swing all by herself. Donna was singular."

Photo credit: Joel Wanek