This is a continuation of my quest to create a piece of art inspired by a song beginning with every letter of the alphabet. You can read about it HERE.

I always do a “deep dive” into the song, learning as much as I can about the story behind it, even learning to play it on the piano – and this is a great song to play because it is written in the gospel tradition.

Written in 1970 by Paul Simon and it is one of the Simon and Garfunkel’s biggest hits, even becoming their signature song. It won five Grammy’s in 1971, including Song of the Year and Record of the Year. Simon insisted Garfunkel sing this song (a decision he later came to regret).


BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, 20×20 Mixed media ©2020VickieMartin

What was the inspiration for the song? When Simon heard the southern gospel group Swan Silvertones 1959 song “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep”.  The line “I’ll be your bridge over deep water / if you trust in My name”  jumped out at him. In a rare interview with Dick Cavet in 1970, he said “I think that must have subconsciously influenced me, and I started to go to gospel (chord) changes”

The line “like a bridge over troubled water” is a metaphor for someone living through a tough time, and “I will lay me down” refers to the sacrifices made to find a way through them.

Bridge Over Troubled Water, ©2008 ink, charcoal, crayon on paper, 15×18

In the third verse, the line “Sail on silver girl / Sail on by / Your time has come to shine” shifts the rhythm and the mood changes. Simon later revealed it was a reference to his then-wife. But many interpret it being focused on someone who needs help during a difficult time.

It is important to remember the times in which it was written. In 1969 America was in turmoil. Viet Nam, Nixon, and the country was still dealing with the loss of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. This was a song that was needed for the times. In fact, It continued to be an uplifting anthem in bad times. In 2005, Simon and Garfunkel reunited to sing it to help raise money for those affected by Katrina.

In the past 50+ years, everyone from Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, The Jackson Five, Peggy Lee, Johnny Cash and more, with Aretha Franklin winning a Grammy for her cover in 1972.


Bridge Over Troubled Water, 6×6 collage on 10×10 board @2020 Vickie Martin

When you’re weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I’m on your side
Oh when times get rough
And friends just can’t be found

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you
I’ll take your part
Oh when darkness comes
And pain is all around

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down

Sail on, silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behind

Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

Check out the story behind AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH here.


For the last several years I have been creating art that is inspired by a particular song. Why? To bring awareness to dementia, because you NEVER EVER lose you musical memory. This was inspired by my mother’s dementia and noticing the effect music had on dementia patients. The reason this is happens (without getting all scientific) is because the place where music is stored in our brains is the last place affected by dementia. Music  is often referred to as “THE LAST MEMORY”.

 Several months ago I declared a quest to create work that is inspired by a song beginning with every letter of the alphabet, documenting the journey as I go. (You can read it  HERE. )

The first song for my quest is AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH.  To get inspiration for the painting not only do I listen to several versions of the song and learn to play it on the piano, I also research the story behind the song.

I always “assumed” this song was about finding a great love. Did you? If you did, we were both WRONG!

The song was written by Nicolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson in 1966 hoping it would be their ticket to join Mo-Town.

In 1962, Nick Ashford moved to New York City after graduating high school to become a dancer. When this didn’t work out, he ended up homeless. Meanwhile, while still in high school, Valerie Simpson was singing in a choir in Harlem. One day Nick showed up there, basically looking for a hot meal. And, you know what happened next – right? Valerie persuaded him to join their group.  They eventually began collaborating, and in Valerie’s own words, “Nick was the perfect mouthpiece for my melodies, and my piano inspired his lyrics. It was an easy relationship.”  

Nick had already written the lyrics for this song. He said the words came to him while walking the city, worried about whether he could stay in NYC. He noticed the buildings along the park looked like mountains, and these lyrics came to him:

“Ain’t no mountain high enough/Ain’t no valley low enough/Ain’t no river wide enough/to keep me from getting to you.” So, the “you” was not a love interest, it was SUCCESS.

As you can see, I put texture on each piece and while listening to several versions of the song, I handwrite the lyrics directly on the canvas. This is my way of really meditating on the piece.

The next thing I do is to get the piano music and start playing.

To create the mountains, used canvas I reclaimed from old paintings, which gave it the kind of texture usually found in nature.

To add more texture, I played around a little with fire (I guess I was in that kind of mood that particular day).

I love to experiment and try new things, but I always keep the spirit of the song in the forefront. While I cover up the lyrics, I always have them, along with the sheet music, close by.

Here is the resulting image. If you look closely, you can see the images of city buildings in the mist on the right.

AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH, ©vickiemartin2021 24×18 mixed media on canvas

Here are more interesting facts about the song:

  • Dusty Springfield wanted to record it, but Ashford and Simpson felt it was their ticket to Motown (it was, it was recorded on the Tamla label, which was a division of Mo-Town).
  • Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell recorded it in 1967 becoming a Top 20 hit on the Billboard charts (#2 on the R&B Charts).
  • The Supremes recorded it as a duet with The Temptations.
  • Ashford and Simpson produced Diana Ross’s first solo album, of which this song was the 2nd song released from.
  • All of the music and background vocals were recorded before Diana recorded her part. She was able to hear it while recording it.

ONE FACT ABOUT DEMENTIA: Dementia is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States for older people. Some estimates rank as high as third in older people, behind only heart disease and cancer. AND THERE IS NO CURE.

What’s up next in my quest? Since I’ll be traveling to a song that begins with a “B”, I’m going to a BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER.






As a reader, I am familiar with quests as a literary device (think of the knights of the round table or Odyseus).  In fact, I started my own reading quest a few years back.  But, I had NEVER considered applying a quest to my goal with my art work until I listened to Alyson Stanfield, founder of Art Biz Success.

During a recent talk on Instagram, Alyson began speaking of “legacy projects”, which is what I realized at that time applies to me. If you aren’t familiar with my work, all of my art is inspired by a particular song that I also learn to play on the piano. 

BUT THEN, she pulled out the book THE HAPPINESS OF PURSUIT, FINDING THE QUEST THAT WILL BRING PURPOSE BACK IN YOUR LIFE by Chris Gillebeau. I thought “Wait, I have that book” and walked to the bookshelf and pulled it out. 

SO – I looked at the book with new eyes. Oddly, the timing was strange. I had just finished a painting that had two tiny horses appear on the horizon, so it became a painting inspired by the song “THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM” from Man of LaMancha about Don Quixote, one of the most famous questers of all time!

It seemed as if the Universe was urging me to DO IT.  But – do what?  I needed a little more information to do a proper quest. There are certain things the “quester” (ME) must identify. Below is the list I came up with along with the actions I will take.

  • There must be a goal – I will paint a painting inspired by a song that represents every letter of the alphabet and I will also learn to play it on the piano and write a blog about each song. 
  • There must be an end point – I will complete this by the end of 2021.
  • It must present a challenge and sacrifice – In order to complete this by the end of 2021, I must stay focused and not deviate from my path.
  • It must be driven by a calling – I use music in the context of art to ultimately bring awareness to dementia. Why? Because your music memory will stay intact when all other memory is gone.

Today I’m declaring my quest that will be finished by end of the 2021. There is another reason to approach my art series this way – this give me structure to move forward.  

SO – my first step is to pick a song beginning with the letter “A”. Three pop up immediately for me, “AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH”, “A WHITER SHADE OF PALE”, and “APRIL IN PARIS”.  I don’t know which song I will choose at this point – but I will continue moving forward in the alphabet.

Back to my reading quest, I am reading a book by an author from each state. The last book I read was by Bill Bryson for Iowa, and you can read the blog here

This idea of the quest came from, as I mentioned above, Alyson Stanfield. If you are an artist, I highly recommend you look her up, from podcasts, training, blogs, just a wealth of information. Click here for the link to her page for SOCIAL MEDIA VISITORS

Follow me on my quest, subscribe to my blog and keep up with the songs I paint for every letter of the alphabet and the symbolism I use, and the stories many songs tell.

Do you have a favorite song that you think would make a great painting? Below are a few example of paintings I’ve already done.



AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH, ©vickiemartin2021 24×18 mixed media on canvas

BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER, 20×20 Mixed media ©2020VickieMartin

Click below for the stories behind other songs used for inspiration:




I have been exploring music and memory with my art for a couple of years with a series titled “CAN YOU SEE WHAT I HEAR?”.  This was initially inspired by my mother’s dementia, but the fact I come from a musical family had a part in this decision.  I know, you hear “my family is musical” a lot. But in my case, it is true. My grandfather was a piano tuner and had a music store. My father rebuilt pianos and my aunt taught piano for over 70 years (she probably taught half of North Georgia how to play the piano!). In fact, I began learning at age five.

Every piece I create is inspired by a specific song and I begin with writing the lyrics of the song on the first layer. I not only study the lyrics but I meditate on them, searching for visual cues within the lyrics.  I also learn to play each song on the piano and really study the structure of the music. But the choice of the songs was a little random. Yes, I took requests. Some songs were chosen simply because I already knew how to play it on the piano. Below you can see some of the songs chosen and the art it inspired – with a line given for why the song was chosen.


Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water

Inspired by the song Bridge Over Troubled Water, which should be the theme song for all caregivers out there.

Moon River

Inspired by Moon River, “this is my favorite song in the world” I was told. Plus – it is a fun song to play.

Inspired by Up UP and Aware

Inspired by Up Up and Away “It is such a positive song!”

While I enjoyed creating these pieces, there was something missing – ME!

When I say I started walking, I mean I started WALKING! Since March 29th, I have walked every day but one (migraine headache). Since the beginning of April, I have achieved my daily goal of 11,000 steps every day but two (again the migraine, and the first day after the time change – I miscalculated nightfall!). If I had walked a straight line going west from Atlanta, I would be looking Denver in my rear-view mirror.

The podcast that fueled these walks is DESERT ISLAND DISCS adapted from a radio show that has aired on the BBC since 1942. Each guest is seemingly whisked to a desert island taking only eight songs, one book (they are given the Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare), and one luxury item. The people interviewed range from Margaret Thatcher to Keith Richards to Tom Hanks to public servants in England. The reasons the songs are chosen are very thought provoking and often revealing.   Usually it is not because of they are their favorite songs, but because of a memory associated with the song. For instance, Keith Richards picked  Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Why? He said Vivaldi was the only composer Mozart respected (who I believe he referred to as the North Star), and if he was going to a desert island, he wanted four seasons. Paul McCartney and Yoko Ono picked the same John Lennon song (Beautiful Boy). What is the most requested song? Beethoven’s Ninth – Ode to Joy. What is the most popular song by The Beatles? Something. 

So, it got me to thinking, what songs would I take? This was not an easy decision. In fact, I  have thought about this for months. So I finally sat down and made a list and I am ready to commit to my eight songs. So, for the next 8 weeks I will share one of my “picks” with you, with the history and background of the song, and the process used in creating the art the song inspired. And I am going to “gulp” start recording my version of the songs on the piano.

As for the other choices, my luxury item would be a piano, with a bench filled with music. Actually, the piano is a very popular choice, but so is a machete (you have to build shelter), and an unlimited supply of wine. In fact, one person chose a bathtub with three faucets, one for cold water, one for hot, and one for wine.  The book I would choose? I think I would pick the largest art history book I could find!

A quick note in closing. It has been scientifically proven one NEVER loses their music memory. I have seen people in adult day care that are totally incommunicable sit up straight and belt out all the words of a song they recognize.

What songs would you choose?  and why?















As we all navigate through another month of “stay at home”, my reading is finally getting back to normal. For the past several months, I started more books than I finished. But, in July, I managed to finish 8 books – which is a normal amount for me.

THE ART DEALERS by Laura de Coppet – This book has been on my bookshelf for years, so I finally took it down and read it. Interesting, but a little dated because it was written in 1984. Thirty-two contemporary art dealers talk about their careers, trends in modern art, and their opinions on art history and evaluation. 

NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson – I picked this up from a Little Free Library while on a walk and it is written by a fellow Decatur, Ga. resident (who says she moved here because of the Decatur Book Festival, considered the largest independent book festival in the states). This is a psychological thriller, based on the game “never have I ever” that a new resident into the community introduces to the book club. There are some twists, many that involve blackmail. I put this in the “good beach read” category.

ONE PLUS ONE by JoJo Moyes – I have read several books by JoJo Moyes, and they are always fun reads. This is the story of Jess, a cleaner/barmaid struggling to make ends meet and IT Guru Ed, who is involved in a financial scandal. They embark on a road journey to Scotland with Jess’s daughter Tanzie (a math genius), Nicky (a goth,  kind of a stepson that has been bullied) and Norman, the drooling smelly dog. While it is a fun read, it seemed vaguely familiar. When I logged it into Goodreads – I had read it back in 2014!

LUNCH AT THE PICCADILLY by Clyde Edgerton  – Edgerton has a gift for capturing Southern dialogue, and this book gives us the challenges of aging with sympathy, sensitivity, all done with a sense of humor.

ANTI-RACIST BABY by Ibram X. Kendi – I have been very impressed with interviews with Ibram Kendi – so I ordered this  book prior to publication to send to my one year old grand niece – and of course I had to take a peak! I love it!

THE ENGINEER’S WIFE by Tracey Enerson Wood – Historical fiction based on the building of the Brooklyn Bridge and the role Emily Roebling played in it. When her husband, the chief engineer of the project is injured on the job, she puts her role in the women’s suffrage movement on hold and takes on the project under his guidance. It is interesting, but the introduction of P.T. Barnum as a possible love interest is not based on fact at all. Their paths may have crossed, they were in New York at the same time and P.T. Barnum historically took his circus across the bridge (with all the elephants) to prove the strength of the structure. But, it did succeed in sparking my curiosity to look up these characters.

THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO by Chris Cander  – This is the first of two books I read in July where a musical instrument is actually a character.  I was captured by the first paragraph in the book referring to the spruce trees in Romania that would be made into a Bluthner, commonly referred to as one of the big “four” of the piano makers, (the others are Bechstein, Bosendorfer and Steinway). My grandfather sold pianos, and there is a Bosendorfer in my family and I have owned a Steinway. It is the story off Katya, who leaves her beloved Bluthner in Germany, and a woman that inherits one in 2012. It’s a good concept, but it turns into a road trip of a photographer moving the piano around to photograph it around a National Park. Even with an unbelievable story line of endlessly moving a piano around a national park, I couldn’t put it down!

GONE, A GIRL, A VIOLIN AND A LIFE UNSTRUNG by Min Kym – In this memoir, you learn what it is like to be a child prodigy – she wins her first international prize at age 11. Her violin is a personal choice for many reasons, and when it is stolen from her in a London cafe, her world crashes. She felt as though she had lost her soulmate, and with it her sense of who she was. Overnight she became unable to play or function and is silent. Even though the violin is recovered 3 years later, it no longer belongs to her – it belongs to the insurance company and she can’t afford it. I loved this book. I loved the way she described the music and the instrument. I loved the music history she threw in. For instance, I’m aware of Clara Schumann – who was herself a child prodigy – and I knew she was expected to take care of the entire household even while traveling and performing. I didn’t know Brahm’s was in love with her, they travelled together with her children, and he felt he had to choose between love and music – and obviously – he chose his music. 

I’m going to finish some of the books I began in April and May and research more books where a character is actually a musical  instrument. 

What are you reading during this “Stay at Home”? Are your reading habits changing? I’d like to know!



I did end the year with a bang – topping 100+ books! Before you get all gushy and start congratulating me, I have decided to read LESS next year. Yes, read LESS. I am going to make an effort to not read prior to 8PM during the week, and only 30 minutes in the morning. I have decided to read a few classics that have eluded me over the years. However, here are the dozen books I read in December 2016.

THE HUNGRY TIDE by Amitav Ghosh – Currently I am in a reading challenge to read a book from each continent, and this was my choice for Asia. Set in the Sandarbans, which is located on the eastern coast of India and Bangladesh (see map below). I’d never heard of this part of the world, and I loved learning about it. Piya Roy, a  American marine biologist of Indian descent, and is in search of a rare species of river dolphin. She enlists the aid of an illiterate and proud local fisherman and a translator she met on the train. Reading this book is one of the reasons I love reading challenges, I wouldn’t have found this book otherwise and learned of a new world.

BIRD IN HAND by Christina Baker Kline – On the way home one rainy night, Alison hits a car that ran a stop sign and a death occurs. Everything changes in the blink of an eye. This is a story about four people, two marriages that are changing. It is a page turner.

RECKLESS by Susan Kiernan-Lewis (Mia Kazmaroff Mysteries) – I picked this up as it looked like a quick read set in my hometown of Atlanta. Mia has a paranormal gift and teams up with an ex-detective to solve a mystery. It was a quick read, but pretty much forgettable. Also she had some of the geography wrong for Atlanta – irritating, especially from someone that used to give historical tours of the city.

BASQUIAT – A QUICK KILLING IN ART by Phoebe Hoban – very compelling biography about the artist Basquiat, who died of a drug overdose at the age of 27. This follows his meteoric rise in the 80’s New York art scene and his ultimate burnout and drug consumption. It covers the graffiti art movement, the crazy world of art auction houses, his relationships with multiple women (including Madonna) and of course, his relationship with mentor Warhol. I liked it so much I continued my journey by watching the movie Basquiat, which is worth seeing if for none other than David Bowie’s portrayal of Andy Warhol (or should I say his channeling of Warhol).

ARTIFICE by Eric Bickernicks – this was a free download on Kindle, and since it was about art, why not? it was enjoyable, but a little silly and largely forgettable.

THINK AND GROW RICH by Napoleon Hill  – This was originally published during the depression, and by the time of the authors death in 1970, it had sold more than 20 million copies! It is the  product of two decades of research begun when Andrew Carnegie gave Hill he task of organizing a Philosophy of Personal Achievement. Armed with only an introductory letter from Carnegie, he interviewed over five hundred successful people including Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and others. This is the result of the research – and the 13 steps to success. It is a book to keep and refer back to.

A LESSON IN SECRETS – A MAISIE DOBBS NOVEL by Jacqueline Winspear – Maisie is working undercover in a university in Cambridge founded by the author of a pacifist children’s book which may have caused a mutiny during WWI. Of course, the author of this book is murdered almost as soon as Maisie arrives. This is a fun series, but I don’t feel this is the strongest book.

THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – I found this on my bookshelf as I was doing my end of the year purge. I don’t know how I overlooked this little gem, after all it is about books and a bookstore! Set in the bookstore Island Books, A.J. is mourning the loss of his wife when his priceless copy of a Poe book has been stolen and a baby is left in the store. Quirky, but also uplifting, it is filled with interesting characters, critiques of classical books, and it is a wonderful book for those that love books and bookstores!

THE LIGHT BETWEEN OCEANS by M.L. Stedman – In reading around the world, this was my choice for Australia. This is an incredibly sad tale (soon to be a major picture by Steven Spielberg) about Tom Sherbourne returning to Australia after WWI where he takes the job as a lighthouse keeper on an island about half a day’s journey from the coast. He eventually brings a wife, Isabel, After a few years of miscarriages, they find a boat washed up on shore with a dead man and a crying baby. They raise the baby as their own, but learn several years later, someone has been looking for the man and the baby. Amoral dilemma for sure!

ANNE FRANK: THE DIARY OF A YOUNG GIRL by Anne Frank – need I say more? I should have reread it before now, and everybdy that read it in school should reread it as an adult. The introduction is written by Eleanor Roosevelt.

THAT OLD CAPE MAGIC by Richard Russo – This is the story of Jack and Joy, who have been married for 35 years. Through this time, they have both tolerated their in-laws and have now separated. Reunited at their only child’s wedding. Jack has the ashes of both his parents in the trunk, with his mother talking endlessly to him. Part of the book is quite humorous, but it is not the strongest book by the great Richard Russo.

THE PRINCE OF FIRE (Gabriel Allon Novel) by Daniel Silva – i love the premise of these books, world famous art restorer by day, Jewish assassin by night (kind of). This is the 4th book in the series, and like the others it is fast paced, action packed. It covers a lot of ground, going from Rome, to Venice, Cairo, London, Paris and Jerusalem. Along the way Silva gives a history lesson from 1910 to the present, on the struggles between the Palestinians and the Israelis. Great exciting way to end the year!

I have been giving thought to what I will read going into 2017 – more on that later. Any suggestions? I will continue reading around the world, and continue my journey with authors from each state in the United States.





Collage ©VickieMartin

Collage ©VickieMartin

Why is it so hard to say no for most of us?  Are we too nice? Are we afraid of being judged? Are we going to miss an opportunity? Burn bridges?

It is always important to keep your long term goal in mind. The most important thing you do is to keep  your long term goal front and center! Every time you say YES to something that doesn’t contribute to your long term goal,you are saying NO to something you could be doing during that time to accomplish your goal.

Listen to you gut. If it doesn’t seem right, say NO. “NO” is a complete sentence.

There are ways to say no. Maybe you are just too busy right now. Say you will think about it and get back – buy some time if you need to think about it.  Just don’t over explain, be concise and move on.

So, when I say “NO” to projects and events that don’t work for my long term goals, what could I be doing?


I could be cooking up a healthy meal (in one of my cute vintage aprons)

Painting, I can always be painting

Journaling or just getting my thoughts down on paper

Spending some time at the piano or with my ukulele

I could be clearing my mind and meditating

I could go outside

Just do what feels right for you. Learn to say no.

What would you be doing if you said NO more often?



Almost exactly a year ago, I declared a quest to read a book by an author from each state (read about it here).  For Colorado at the urging of more than one of my readers, I chose a book by Kent Haruf, a native of Colorado who died in November 2014. The book I chose is  Plainsong, which is the first book of a trilogy.

“This ain’t going to be no goddamn Sunday school picnic” (quote from book)

The book is set in the fictional town of Holt Colorado, located in the eastern plains near Kansas and Nebraska. According to New York Times author Verlyn Klinkenborg, 

“Haruf has made a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt the reader.”

In fact, the title Plainsong refers to unaccompanied church music that is typically sung in unison.

The book begins with teacher Tom Guthrue. His wife Ella is lying in the guest bedroom for who knows how long. Their sons, Ike and Bobby (9 and 10 years old) watch their mother slowly disappear mentally, until she physically leaves them.

High school student Victoria Roubideaux finds herself pregnant and evicted by her own mother. She turns to Maggie Jones, who is also a teacher. Maggie takes her in, but her senile father frightens Victoria. Maggie turns to the McPheron brothers, elderly gruff unmarried cattle farmers who agree to take her in.  

The book follows these characters from fall until late spring. While the  language is almost minimalistic, it packs a punch. There is heartbreak, grief and anger. But there is also love, humor and  kindness – as well as  beginnings of new lives and new families. The characters are decent, somewhat troubled human beings that are going on with their lives.

I loved this book, and I have the sequel Eventide to read!  While the book is somewhat stark, it steers clear of melodrama and sentiment,  telling the story of characters I deeply cared about.

I was just disappointed to find out Holt Colorado is a fictional town!

Some interesting facts about Colorado:

Is home to the world’s largest rodeo in Denver, The National Western Stock Show

Has the highest suspension bridge in the nation over the Royal Gorge 

Pagosa Springs is the home of the deepest hot spring in the world

Colorado means “colored red” and is known as the Centennial State.

The US federal government owns more than 1/3 of the land in the state.

It contains 75% of the land mass in the US with an altitude over 10,000 feet.

The 13th step of the state-capital building in Denver is one mile above sea level.

There are 52 peaks over 14,000 ft.

“America the Beautiful” was inspired by the view from Pikes Peak

and my favorite fact:

The world famous Read Rocks Amphitheatre is located here – it took 300 million years to create!

Next up – Connecticut. I have to admit, my reading is ahead of my blogging – I had read through Delaware and have made preliminary choices through Hawaii. But – I’ll still take requests!!!! 



March reading was a mixed bag – I read a couple of children’s books, an early novel by a favorite author, what I thought would be historical fiction – and more.  Here goes!


The Water is Wide became the movie Conrack

The Water is Wide, by Pat Conroy: Pat Conroy is one of my favorite writers writing today. This is based on his year on Daufuskie Island, South Carolina (called Yamacraw in the book). The year is 1969, Conroy (called Conrack by his students) is a teacher that wants to make a difference.  He arrives on Yammacraw Island by boat (there are no bridges, in fact, there is little infrastructure throughout the island). Even though the island is less than two miles off the coast of South Carolina, the students know next to nothing about the world beyond. They don’t know who the president is, or even what country they live in, many can’t read of write, and even though they are on an island, none of them can swim. So, Conroy has his work cut out for him, but he has one obstacle after another with the other teacher, the school board and often the parents of the children. However, many of the stories are humorous and heartwarming – you root for these kids!  This is Conroy’s 2nd book (he self-published his first), and you can see the writer he will become!  Oh, it should be noted, the book really shows the inequalities in our educational system here in America. Note – it was made into the movie Conrack in 1974.

But Enough About Me, A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous by Jancee Dunn: Another free download on Kindle, this is the true story of Jancee Dunn.  And – I have to say – this book is funny!   Growing up in the 80’s in New Jersey, she has the over-permed, over-sprayed hair, tanning with baby-oil on the beach. But a chance encounter leads her to a job at Rolling Stone Magazine.  Switching between her family and her life at the magazine, and later as a V-jay on MTV and a contributor on Good Morning America, it keeps us entertained. (Her father almost worships J.C. Penney – the man and the store). Hiking with Brad Pitt,  Ben Affleck shows her what is it like to be chased by papparrazzi, eating Velveeta from Dolly Parton, making peanut butter fudge with Loretta Lynn – it surprisingly is a good and funny read!


Mr. Churchill’s Secretary by Susan Elia MacNeal: I thought this was historical fiction when I picked it up – and while there are historical elements to the book, it is a mystery. Maggie Hope is brought up by an aunt in the U.S. after the death of her parents in an automobile accident in England. When her English grandmother dies, she travels to London. The year is 1940. Maggie graduated at the top of her class in mathematics, but her skills are in codebreaking. However, she is relegated to being a typist at N. 10 Downing Street (the residence of the Prime Minister). When she goes to place flowers on her parents graves, she discovers there is only her mother’s grave. Is her father still alive? Fun read!

The Circular Staircase by Mary Roberts Rinehart: This gothic mystery was written in 1907.  Mary Roberts Rinehart’s work was dismissed by critics throughout her life (1876-1957) as low-brow. But, she had a long profitable career. The story follows a wealthy spinster, Mrs. Innes as she rents a house for the summer in the country, her niece and a nephew follow. But, of course, after a couple of days there is a murder in the house, and there is alot of running around.  It was a fun read, but I got some of the characters confused at times!


Pines by Blake Crouch: This is the first book of the Wayward Pines trilogy, soon to be Fox television series starring Matt Dillon.  It begins with a secret service agency waking up on a river bank with no identification and very little memory. Of course, Wayward Pines is the perfect bucolic town. He ends up back in the hospital and remembers he was sent there to investigate the disappearance of two other secret service agents and has a wreck upon arriving in Wayward Pines. So- begins the mystery. Think of Twin Peaks meets Lost, with a timeline that doesn’t make sense (it will eventually), and even some mutants. The residents of the town are – – – – well, are they prisoners? Can they get out?


From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsberg: Honestly, this was such a fun read, and I can’t believe I never read this as a kid!  Almost twelve-year old Claudia is fed up with her suburban life, so she decides to run away from home. Taking her younger brother with her, off they go to  New York City and take up residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Claudia becomes intrigued with a mystery of a marble statue the museum purchased for only $250 – it is the product of Michelangelo?  Now- the Met has changed alot since this was written (it takes place in 1967), it is no longer free to get in to start with. The staff still get alot of questions about the book, in fact, there is a special issue of MUSEUM KIDS that is devoted to the book.  The movie shown above was a made for tv movie filmed in 1973. There was a big-screen adaptation in 1973 starring Ingrid Bergman – this was the first time the museum closed to accomodate filming! If you are going to a museum with a kid, have them read this book prior to going! And, I bet you think differently of museums after reading this!

The Strange Library

Cover of The Strange Library by Murakami

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami: This 96 page book is delightfully strange. It arrived shrink-wrapped – you have to flip the cover up to get to the book itself. The graphics are  designed by Chip Kidd, who apparently has collaborated with Murakami before. I don’t recommend listening to this book, or reading it as an Ebook! The story is about a boy imprisoned in a library, complete with winding halls, hidden rooms, a girl that slips in an out of the bars (yes, the boy is in a jail cell reading about tax collecting in the Ottoman empire), while a man dressed like a sheep keeps guard. This book may get it’s own blog post at a later date!

Paint Me Gone by Molly Green: free download and first book in the Gen Delacourt series. After a painting is found in a thrift store that apparently has the image of a woman missing for 20 years, Gen and her cross dressing friend take on the case. It can be read in an afternoon – and it enjoyable light reading.

So – that’s it for March! Let me know your thoughts!



This is the 8th installment in my series 21 Steps To Your Most Creative Self.

Today most of us are focused on work and commitments. In our culture, playing is often thought as wasting time – it is often looked down on as there are no real goals (except to have fun!) Play is a time to forget about work and all those pesky commitments. It can be a time to be social without structure and be creative at the same time. When we play, there is no goal in mind, except to have fun.

What is play?  It has been defined as taking part in an in activity for enjoyment and recreation instead of for a practical purpose.

There are many benefits to play. It:

Relieves stress – play often triggers endorphins which gives one the sense of well-being.

Stimulates your mind – people tend to learn better than they are having fun and when they are relaxed.

Improves learning skills – playing chess or putting together puzzles are things that challenge the brain and will improve memory.

Keeps you young

Teaches children social skills and cooperation with others – something adults can learn too.

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw

I believe a little bit of play will go a long way – but what can we do for play?

Most of us don’t have access to a trampoline bridge.

Most of us don’t work in offices that have slides.

But, most of us have access to a playground. When was the last time you played on a swing?

Other things to do:

Learn a card trick

Have a game night with friends

Go bowling

Play miniature golf

Play with a dog – if you don’t have one, many rescue groups need dog walkers. While you are at it – have a conversation with the dog.  

Find a child to play with – play a “pretend” game – remember those? Or play Follow the Leader or Hide and Seek (I play Hide and Seek with my dogs!)

Put on music and dance

Put together a puzzle

I may never finish this - but I haven't given up!

I may never finish this – but I haven’t given up!

       Make a collage

p5 copy

       Get a coloring book

Coloring was easier as a child I discovered. I need to loosen up!

Coloring was easier as a child I discovered. I need to loosen up!

Research shows play helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease. Playing a musical instrument or playing checkers is helpful.

Who doesn’t play? Mass murderers – studies have shown. 

Playing helps us relax, it takes us away from the “real” world. Through playing, we can be anything, an explorer, a rule, a time traveler – the list goes on. It helps remove the limits to what we believe is possible.

What do you do for play?  I’d like to know!

Closing thoughts:

“Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent and independent with a tremendous amount of adventure and a love of play.” Henri Matisse

“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“The true object of all human life is play.” G.K. Chesterton

“The creation of something new is not accomplished by intellect but by the play instinct.” Carl Jung

“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” Abraham Maslow

“Some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” C.S. Lewis (which I recently did rereading Alice in Wonderland and Aesop’s Fables)