Tag Archives: Finland

Happy Declaration of Independence to the World!

4 Jul

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When we were kids, my siblings, cousins and I, the 4th of July meant the yearly pilgrimage to Beverly Farms up on the North Shore above Boston to the McMichael cousins house.

We’d arrive before noon to check out the races and games down on West Beach. We too were racers… racing in and out of the cold Atlantic surf, wandering up and down the beach, under the pier to check out the barnacles,

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and gather like a chatty flock of sea gulls on the warm sand.

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We would all eventually make it back for the early afternoon cookout with enormous amounts of food as every family then as now brought along enough for an army of Irish and otherwise to eat up.

The rest of the afternoon was whiled away with games like badminton, crochet, whiffle ball, hide and seek and of course many of us brought our baseball gloves to play catch with anyone and everyone… we were a baseball family, especially in the summer. We were just waiting for dusk.

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There would be chains of us cousins holding hands, winding our way through the crowds to claim our little piece of sand to watch the serious fireworks about to happen as soon as it was full dark.

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The harbor was filled with small boats. (a small harbor compared to what I remember) Their running lights were on and fingers ready on their horns.

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The fireworks were shot off that long pier in the harbor and as many firework displays I’ve seen over the years, there have been none better.

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And Fireworks music it was! You could hear the ooohs and aaaahs from the crowd on the beach but especially the horns and lights of the boats in harbor.

Spending July 4th with my family as a child is one of the reasons I bought our house in Pittsfield in Berkshire County, way Western Mass, because I could see the fireworks from Wahconha Park from the house. We live just above one of the oldest minor league baseball parks in the country…1914 or so.

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I really am 11 inside and fireworks in some way honor that part of me that is 11. So does my favorite movie “THE WIZARD OF OZ” but that’s another story completely.

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Something that has been part of my “bucket list” for a very long time is flying above the USA on the 4th of July. I mean how cool would that be… to see our country’s celebration from high above.  Two summers ago, I got my wish. Elizabeth and I left Logan Airport in Boston at 9 PM on July 3rd flying to Finland with a stopover in Iceland.

We hadn’t left the runway yet when the displays started all around us. The plane took off for Iceland and we followed the fireworks all the way up the coast thru Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine.

The fireworks got smaller and smaller as we headed up higher but still discernible. It was one of the most amazing sights I’ve ever seen… I still get goosebumps and Elizabeth is still convinced it happened that way ’cause I’m Irish! For whatever reason, it’s a sight I will never forget as long as I live!

Happy Birthday, America… Happy Birthday to our Declaration of Independence and a new way of looking at things…

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Happy Sigh!

13 May

Long week, long drive home. But I’m back home with my peeps…my wife and friends, my dog, cat and chicken peeps. I can feel my psyche, nerves, and body softening and relaxing already.

All 5 dogs and cats are in the same room hanging out resting through the night with us. Makes me happy. No chickens however… even I draw the line somewhere. Besides, I’m canine natured not avian like my wife.

I will visit and respond more tomorrow. Hei, hei and kiitos for dropping by to all my Finnish family and friends.

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Saving Phrases

16 Mar

Saving Pictures

Years ago when I was living in Great Barrington, MA, I went to the library and borrowed 2 books.  One was about 800 pages on the history of the Ottoman Empire.  The Empire lasted over 6 centuries and was the most culturally, religiously and geographically diverse in world history.  It was a very interesting read and went a long way to explaining the present day instability of the Balkans and Middle Eastern nations.
The other book was about Linguistics.  As a kid we used to have spelling as well as vocabulary tests in school.  I devoured the study guides for vocabulary.  I just love knowing where words originate from.
And it was dangerous for me to look anything up in dictionaries or encyclopedias.  I was a goner… lost for hours as one word led to another again and again.  It’s like that for me even today on the computer as one link leads to another.  I re-read that linguistics book twice.
The National Geographic magazine has done several articles on the disappearance of certain languages as the native speakers age and die out.  It makes me sad to think about it… just as the extinction of some of the fauna and flora around the world does in our mad rush to be “modern.”  I’m absolutely fascinated by languages.

Finland has a non-Indo-European language.

As a musician, when I hear other languages, I hear music.  Most have a different rhythm and sound, just as different styles of music do.  Take some of the languages of Southern Africa for instance.  They have clicks and sounds that don’t appear in any other language group.  How did that happen?
One of my favorite audio books to re-listen to is “The Adventure of English” by Melvyn Bragg.  It follows English from an obscure dialect imported from the northwestern corner of Europe to become the global language it is today.  I’d recommend it be listened to rather than read since English has evolved in sound and pronunciation greatly over the centuries.  English has also picked up multiple loan words along the way from just about every country and culture it’s come across.

Montreal, Canada. Still a mostly French speaking city.

Over the past the past 2 years I’ve traveled to 3 different countries with 3 different languages, one of them a non-Indo-European language: Finland; Montreal, Canada; and Honduras. I kept a journal, saving words and phrases in each place.  Partly because I wanted to at least attempt to speak the native language and partly so as not to be perceived as an arrogant American.  I’ve been told I have a good ear for other languages.  I think that’s probably because I spent my first year or so in Italy and was beginning to speak before I came to America.

Trying to communicate beyond language in Guaimaca, Honduras. Guitar and music were the answer.

Keeping track of words and phrases has been a lifelong affair.  Not just something I started to do when I began traveling to other countries.  It used to be scraps of paper and then notebooks.  Now it’s files on the computer… Saving Phrases.  When I read, hear or think of an interesting word or phrase that’s where it gets recorded.  Eventually they become part of a poem or song.  So the poem below is part of that file.  Some of it written down while driving… not easy or probably safe but doable.

Just another dawn morning.

Driving Towards Dawn   Weez March 2012

dawn comes on quick feet
with great shouts of color
while the mist ahead
kisses blue on blue
of water and sky
announcing the lake
at daybreak
jet trails blaze orange arrows
across white clouds
to spark a rainbow
of possibilities along
with the new day
and out on the western sky path
a storm approaches
and in the marriage of sky and earth
the sky is the dark of a groom’s tux against
the bride white snow of the mountain

Westward Glances