Monkees and Horses: Recharging the Batteries

Sometimes writers have to step away from the keyboard and go out into the world. After all, we write about life, and how can we do that authentically if we don’t live a little? So this weekend I packed in a Monkees concert and a day at the Devon Horse Show.

The Monkees Concert

This Monkees concert marked the 50th Anniversary of the Monkees TV premiere and their rocket to stardom. It also marked 30 years since I first saw them in concert in 1986. This year the Monkees have a new album, Good Times, out and a new set list, so I knew the show would be special.

Keswick Theater marqueeThe Monkees logoMonkees on the Keswick marquee




Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork are the two Monkees touring this time—Mike Nesmith chose to sit out this tour, and Davy Jones passed away in 2012. Micky and Peter sounded great and enjoyed themselves as they belted out a good mix of hits and should-have-been-hits.

Micky Dolenz of the MonkeesMicky & Peter of the MonkeesPeter Tork of the Monkees




They did a song from the new album and they also used technology to have Davy Jones sing lead vocals while they played and sang backup live in Shades of Gray and Daydream Believer. Photos of Davy on the large screen made both these songs poignant tributes to Davy.

Micky and Peter of the MonkeesTribute to Davy Jones of the MonkeesPeter and Micky of the Monkees





Micky and Peter brought energy and joy to the performance, and I think that is one thing that keeps bringing the fans back—that sense of fun. They clearly enjoy each other’s company and have a good time rocking in front of the crowd. I guess if you’re going to hang together for 50 years, there needs to be some chemistry there to start with!

Peter Tork of the MonkeesMicky Dolenz of the MonkeesPeter Tork of the MonkeesMicky Dolenz of the MonkeesPeter Tork of the Monkees





I had a wonderful time at the show! Long live the Monkees!

Micky and Peter of the MonkeesMicky and Peter of the MonkeesMicky and Peter take a bow





Devon Horse Show

The next day my mother, daughter, and I went to Devon Horse Show. Since my great-grandmother gave us our first tickets when I was in elementary school, my mother and I have gone almost every year. My daughter has joined us for the past 4 years, and it has become a wonderful inter-generational tradition.

My great-grandmother had box seats in the posh blue grandstand, but now we camp out in the East 2 grandstand bleachers. We got to see carriage competition complete with regular horses, a miniature horse, and white horse-mule crosses…

Tandem team, four wheel carriageMInature horse pulling 2-wheeled cart4 white horse-mule crosses pulling a Police paddy wagon





A Shetland pony steeplechase…

Child jockeys waiting to start the Shetland pony steeplechaseRiders up for the Shetland steeplechase





And pony show jumping…

Appaloosa clears the fencesPalomino paint in full stridePalomino paint jumping





We even strolled through the stable area, and saw some magnificent draft horses—who were part of the team that won the overall carriage best of show!

White draft horses4-in-hand white draft horses and carriage that won best in show






We had a great time at the Devon Horse Show, as we usually do. Whether the horses cleared all hurdles…

Brown pony clearing the fence

Or didn’t quite make it…

Palomino paint knocking the top pole down

They were all beautiful.

Close up of a horse headWhite pony, winner of the jumping






I had a lot of fun on my days “off” and will return to work recharged and ready to write.

How do you recharge?

Christmas Cards

Today I am embarking on the yearly Christmas Card Ritual. Addressing cards, writing notes, signing names, putting in photos, sticking on stamps… A time-consuming and hand-cramping past time.

Card Birds Still, I like the tradition. It’s a way to keep in touch with people I might not otherwise connect with, especially with those not on Facebook or other social networks. I also find some of the artwork on the cards to be beautifully evocative of the Christmas spirit.

1936 - HS Warren & Clara McFarlinWriting Christmas cards also connects with a long tradition—and anyone knowing my genealogy interest knows I like tradition. So I was pleased to find several Christmas cards sent out by my great-grandparents, Harold Stites and Clara Warren, among papers given to me by my relatives. All the cards displayed in this post are theirs.

People these days are creative with their cards, enclosing newsletters about their year in review, and customizing the photos on the cards. A writer friend of mine composes a newspaper with stories of the goings-on at the North Pole, pulled from the major news stories of the year. While I enjoy getting the photo cards from my friends and family—and my aching hand would welcome not having to write so many notes and sign so many cards—I am old-fashioned. I like my handwritten cards.

As I have gotten older and lost people I loved, I have come to cherish the fragments of handwriting I have from them. Handwriting is so individual, so personal, that seeing a familiar script is as powerful as hearing their voice. There is a life to handwriting that is lacking in printed text—even though the printed text is often more legible, especially after the first 20 or so cards!

For me, nostalgia pervades the act of Christmas card writing. As I look at these cards from my great-grandparents, I see a reflection of who they were. They were stylish dressers, as demonstrated by the nattily dressed candy canes on one card.

Card Top Hat

My great-grandmother played piano and organ, as well as composed music and hymns, as shown on the card of the angel playing the piano. In fact, my great-grandmother’s apartment grand piano sits in my living room right now.

Card Piano

Card BallsThe cards they chose reflected my great-grandparents’ taste—beautiful, elegant, and joyful, full of the things they cherished most: home and family. Maybe someday I will try the new-fangled customized photo cards and give my hand a break, but for now I choose to follow the tradition of my great-grandparents.

And maybe, if I am lucky, some of my cards will be found by my great-grandchildren among the precious papers saved by my descendants.

Card Doorway

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