Darwin foraged for succulents, and I cranked up the music. A perfect weekend!

I hope you enjoyed a breathing lighter kind of weekend.

We enjoyed a slower pace and I relished being home for much of the time.

I’m not sure what goes on when I’m away from home, but I’m always surprised at what I discover when I am looking out my kitchen window. I happened  to catch a certain “character” in acts of mischief.

Caught in the act–here was a foraging Darwin munching on my plants again. In winter months his metabolism slows down and I might not see him for two to three days. Then all of a sudden he suddenly appears!


This 50 pound tortoise is also getting a little taller. He can reach up any time he feels like a snack, and before I even know what he’s up to–three big bites and one of my succulents has vanished.


If I catch him in the act I can do something about it.


He has his very own  Aloe supply. I break off big pieces and feed it to him. He’s an African Sulcata, and the Aloe is native to Africa, so somewhere in his memory he is at home with this treat. He devours it in huge quantities!


If succulents aren’t at home in your climate, you might enjoy seeing some of the unusual specimens that thrive in dry and desert climates. Click HERE to see some unique and beautiful cactus and succulents from one of our favorite nurseries, California Cactus Center.

Most succulents are hearty and do very well without a lot of fuss, but they grow slowly so can be expensive. And imagine this! Here I am cultivating a collection simply to feed Darwin! I hope he appreciates the attention he’s getting.

Darwin with succulents

I’ve also enjoyed a weekend of tuning out distractions and listening to music.

was the lucky recipient of a CD, a gift from my Charleston friend and Cootchie Mama, Andra. On Christmas Eve I was the final “contestant” to win one of Andra’s musical prizes and for the past day or so I’ve been enjoying the King of Cool, Dean Martin.

Dean Martin

Listening to the warm, warbling voice of an American classic crooner is a wonderful way to relax.

But there’s more!

Thursday I attended an “After-Christmas Party” complete with white elephant gifts. You know how that works, don’t you? Everyone has a number and chooses a gift according to their number,  but on subsequent turns, each person can open a new present or opt to “steal” another person’s unwrapped gift.

My number was one of the very last so I was poised to make my move…


…and I did! I snatched Beyoncé right out from under someone who least expected me–a senior citizen– to be the thief. But haven’t I always told you my musical tastes are quite eclectic?

Dean Martin and Beyoncé in the same sentence…what can I say? I like all music.

And the musical good times just kept coming. I’ve previously mentioned how much I enjoy The Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, Kevin. 

Kevin and I frequently note how we share similar musical tastes as well as other entertainment favorites.  When I wrote about how much I loved the music in the 1980 movie “Fame,” Kevin quickly responded that “Fame” was at the top of the list of his all-time favorite films. In fact, when the movie first aired on HBO he themed a party around it going all out when he and his friends danced on a car!

Now that sounds like music appreciation–and fun!

Kevin shared the link to the song, “I Sing the Body Electric,” my favorite from the movie, and I thought you might enjoy it, too.  The young soloists at the very beginning include Irene Cara and you may recognize a very young, and at that time unknown, Paul McCrane.

I think it’s time for me to see this move again!

What soundtrack would you like to move to this week? There’s something for every mood, from Dino to Beyoncé to our favorite movies, old and new– and much, much more, of course.

A recipe for breathing lighter? Turn on the music, crank it up!

I guarantee you’ll be breathing lighter in no time!

68 thoughts on “Darwin foraged for succulents, and I cranked up the music. A perfect weekend!

    1. I like your musical style, Nancy! I listen to Dave Matthews quite often, and then the Stones–they just continue to get better and better. It’s the original music, but my appreciation for them has grown over the years. And for Mick to be 70 and still out there doing what he does–fantastic. I think listening to classic rock never disappoints! 🙂

    1. Yes, Koji, the most ordinary of succulents is suddenly quite a prize. Good old supply and demand I guess. Since they’re using succulents in roadside and commercial landscaping, because of their little need for water, even small cuttings are now quite pricey! All but the very most ordinary! I’ve been collecting for years so I’ve really noted how much the price has increased. At least they last forever and multiply well!

      I do not know Pentonix, so I’m adding them to my list! I will get to know them. Thanks for another good suggestion. 🙂

    1. Aloe does multiply so quickly, doesn’t it? It’s a very rewarding plant. Have succulents become a big hit in Charleston like they are here? I used to be able to pick them up at any nursery for next to nothing. No one else seemed to care. LOL! Now all of a sudden, probably because of drought conditions, they are popular with homeowners and large retail landscapers! They’ve shot through the roof in price, and so to be feeding them to Darwin, even if I can’t use them all, feels very decadent! Come to think of it…I wish I could have some of yours, too! 🙂

  1. Aww…that Darwin! He is a charmer, how can you get mad at that face? I always enjoy a great cumbia–so fun to move to. Thanks for the clip–I will be playing it everyday for inspiration. Did you see the “ice-cream sandwich” camera! I remember those rectangular days…and the disposable flash attachment was just as long only it snapped on vertically.

    1. Oh, I do love Cumbia. I have a very strong appreciation for any Latin music–it’s those wonderful rhythms! I didn’t know Cumbia by name at all until I heard a show on NPR, not all that long ago, and was introduced. I’m far from knowledgeable about the form, but what I do know I really enjoy. That would be a nice little “study” for me, so thank you for mentioning your interest. I’m creating a list of music I either don’t know or don’t know well. And I did see the camera! LOL! That wonderful movie is so dated, but at the same time just so refreshing! I’m glad you enjoyed the clip. I’ve played it over and over. Now I need to see the whole movie again! It’s been a very, very long time. 🙂 ox

    1. I’m with you on the musicals, Rob. They never get old. My uncle was in the movie, Footloose! His character was called “Fat Cowboy” and it’s been years since I’ve seen it, but I think that would be another good one to pull out of the moth balls! 🙂

  2. Love the photos of Darwin, Debra ~ he’s a fine specimen, so his diet of succulents must be doing him good! And there must be something in the air because I’ve been revisiting my music collection this weekend, too. I even bought some cheap headphones so that I can listen to my favourite tunes on my phone while out walking or shopping. (The ear~buds provided keep falling out when I move and the more expensive headphones totally cut out background noise. Which is what they’re designed for, I know, but I’m more comfortable being aware of my surroundings.) I loved dance movies too ~ in fact my son was training to be a dancer when the ‘Fame’ series was on TV, and we recorded it and watched it every day!! Music has been missing from my life for a few years now and I’d forgotten how good it makes me feel. Great post, thank you 🙂

    1. Did your son go on to be a professional dancer, Jacqueline? I so admire the grace and agility of dancers! I watch any of the televised dancing/choreography shows that I can find and I always think it must be really marvelous to be able to feel the music kinesthetically the way a dancer must! I loved the Fame television show that followed the movie, too. I’ve been wondering if I could find those episodes again–what a fun, nostalgic time I’d have. 🙂 And I’m really glad to hear that you’re incorporating your love of music back into your life. We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy our music with so many different devices–in particular the portable ones. It’s just amazing that we can use our phones as really excellent “listening devices.” I’ll bet you walk a little longer with some good tunes, too! Have a good time reacquainting yourself with the artists you have always enjoyed, and maybe some new ones! Thank you for sharing, Jacqueline.

      1. Yes, Debra, Lee went on from evening and weekend lessons to a full time performing arts college in London. He studied ballet, tap, modern, contemporary and jazz, acting and singing. He even broke his ankle at one point and was told he’d never dance again but was back on stage within 6 months. He then worked in musical theatre for over ten years, appearing in the revival of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, with Topol, in London’s West End and on a British tour and in ‘Starlight Express’ (on roller skates) in London and Germany. Watching him I used to feel a mixture of intense pride and terrifying nervousness! He left all that behind behind, over a woman, I’m afraid and, although that relationship floundered very shortly afterwards, sadly he never returned to it.

        One of our favourite scenes from the Fame series was Leroy stating, ‘The music and the dancing ain’t something that I do…. The music and the dancing is something that I AM!’ I do believe that applied to my son and I know he’s not content with himself right now but he resisted all attempts to persuade him to take it up again, in one form or another. He does love his music, though and is always sending YouTube clips of new artists for me to listen to.

        Although I have some regrets on his behalf, it’s been good to take this little wander down memory lane and to remember that he will always live his own life his way ~ despite the best advice of others! (Don’t we all!) And he always seems to work through his trials, Bless him! Thank you, my friend, for prompting that realisation in me as I have been very concerned about him recently. ❤

    1. I hope you had the opportunity to dance a bit today, Colleen. The best way for me to buoy my spirits is music, and if I’m feeling stretched too tight, I can choose to listen to something with energy, or give into it and find a relaxing, soundtrack to chill by! 🙂

  3. dandyknife

    What could be better than waking up to a hit musical finale? (And that hair, those faces, so squeaky clean I feel like I’ve already showered…)
    Glad you had a calm weekend and got in some turtlewatching. Darwin is such a handsome, fearless dude.
    Our Saturday was quiet in the usual way — lousy weather, this time nearly two inches of rain — but Sunday was sensible, dropping off E.g.’s parents at church before attending our own, then in mid-afternoon clearing the weeks-old layer of ice off their drive. Temps are hovering just either side of zero all this week, hurrah!

    1. You really have to plan your time around the weather conditions, don’t you. I’m really struck by that. I forget that there are routine acts that must be accomplished for safety–clearing a driveway of ice! Those of us in very moderate climates don’t often stop and think about how much time we have at our disposal, relative to our friends in freezing temperatures and the many added steps it takes to move about safely.

      Darwin is a remarkable little character. He has real personality, which just amazes me. He has strong instincts to care for his own needs, and all we really need to do is have a safe environment for him. If I didn’t care about my plants I wouldn’t have to even concern myself with feeding him. 🙂

      Glad you enjoyed the musical selection, and your comment definitely mirrored my thoughts. In 1980 I wasn’t dramatically older than those young “students” so they didn’t look so “fresh-faced” to me. But when I played it the other day I was propelled backwards into a much simpler, YOUNG, memory! They do look very young–and were! And very squeaky clean. Here was one of my very favorite movies looking terribly dated. A lot of time has passed since then. It kind of sneaks up on us, I think. Shall I be hoping for an early spring? 🙂

      1. dandyknife

        I’m trying to recall ever being that young! (19 when that film came out.) Nevertheless, I don’t mind a bit this year if we hurry the spring along. Middle age has much kinder deadlines than did high school. 😀

  4. I think Darwin has good taste, as seen in his expensive taste of your succulents!
    I’ve never heard of a white Elephant thingy – we do traditionally have a “white Elephant” stall at fairs and church bazzars – basically it’s an anything goes kind of stall, so I wonder if your game originated from that/
    Hmm a musical soundtrack for a week in the French Alps, a bit of skiing, a bit of vin chaud……. Snow related films I can think of Cool Runnings about the Jamaican Bob Sleigh team, French films – well just take your pick! My favourite soundtrack to a French film is Amelie – check it out my friend1

    1. Darwin is discovering new “tastes” all over the garden now that he’s a little taller. I have been wondering when this was going to happen, and my next concern is going to be when he can just easily step up and climb in areas that intrigue him. I’m already wondering what I’ll need to do to create barriers! Or give up. LOL!

      I think you may be right about the “white elephant” stalls, Claire. It sounds so closely related it almost has to be from the same origins. It’s a popular tradition in workplace situations where a little “gifting” is welcome, but we don’t want to put any expense into the gifts. It can be quite fun.

      My four-year-old granddaughter is currently completely stuck on the soundtrack to the animated film, “Frozen.” I think that might fit your bill very nicely! I also enjoy the soundtrack to Amelie. I must have heard the music at one point and purchased the soundtrack, but I’ve never seen the movie! It’s been in my Netflix queue for ages. Maybe it’s time for me to move it to #1! Thank you for the good suggestions. I’m making a list. 🙂

  5. Cheers to you having an R&R weekend – but you stole the purse from a senior? Oh Debra …. our impression of you is changing! Darwin going after those other succulents is his way of saying. “Come on Mom … how about more variety?” 😉 … Dean Martin is a classic crooner. Back in the day, gotta love the Dean Martin Show! Do you know he’s an Ohio guy … and his hometown has a Dean Martin Festival? Here’s the 2013 festivities … http://www.deanmartinsteubenville.com/schedule.html … This year is June 12-14. …. BTW … Enya is good breathe lighter music!

    1. I’ll have to go back and see how poorly I worded my scenario, Frank, because you’re the second person to read that I stole the gift from a senior citizen. LOL! No, I’m the senior! hahahaha! I “stole” it from a much younger person who fit the profile of a Beyoncé enthusiast much more than I did. I didn’t know there was a Dean Martin Festival! Wow! That would be great fun. I think it’s great he is still remembered with festivities. I used to enjoy his television show with the Gold Diggers. That’s dating me! I do like Enya very much. I listened to one of her Christmas albums quite a bit at the end of the year. We are so fortunate to have so much music always available, aren’t we?

      1. LOL … on that the senior stole the purse from the younger! Picturing it the other way is funnier! I remember the Goldiggers too. Some friends of mine (all from the same town) would brag that one of they knew a Gold Digger from high school. Do you remember Jayne Kennedy?

    1. I was the senior citizen, Karen. LOL! The gal who chose the CD first was in her late 20s or early 30s and I’m sure she thought she had it in the bag. The whole room erupted in laughter because I don’t think I give the “appearance” of someone who’d be at all interested in Beyoncé. I think the young gal ended up with a used candy dish. The funny part to me was we never knew who put the CD in the mix…it was to be a white elephant gift, so I’m wondering who “gifted” someone with such an explicit and particular CD without knowing whether or not they’d enjoy it. LOL!

  6. That Darwin; can’t let him out of sight for long, can you, Debra? Your pictures are great, but, I really appreciate the close-up of him eating the aloe, his tongue sucking the juices. We have aloe here, but, as a houseplant. Some put theirs out in the garden in summer, but, back in on a sunny window ledge come fall.

    Grease is my all-time favorite song track to sing and dance to. I’ve always loved it, then, our girls became familiar with it when the movie hit its 25th anniversary and the girls thought they’d invented it. I will admit, however, to listening to Dean Martin any time. One CD I keep in the bedroom is from the movie, Return to Me, with the theme song being of the same title and sung by Dean. It wasn’t a blockbuster movie, but, we Chicagoans are loyal to movies filmed here, especially if they are about Chicago, and this one is. The song track takes me back to my childhood, and dancing with my Daddy, my stockinged feet atop his shoes. Sigh.

    Great post, dear friend. I’m so glad you won Dean from Andra.

    1. It’s so true about Grease being an inter-generational favorite. My daughter and her friends are crazy about anything Grease-related and Aimee was 4 when it came out. I think they must have watched it on early cable or something when they were slightly older. Every year the Hollywood Bowl has a “Grease Sing-Along” during the summer and we keep saying that one of these years we must attend.

      I know I saw the movie “Return to Me” and liked it very much. I remember it being a “light” movie about a very heavy subject! And I think those songs that take us back to young childhood are the most special in our memories, and may even set a tone for what we lean towards in the future. The memory you have of dancing with your father has to be incredibly special and something you pull back to your heart when you hear particular music. All the more reason why we really do need to share music, in any form we can, with our young ones. It gets into those crevices of memory planting sweet thoughts for the future. I was tickled to win that CD from Andra. She’s been so funny with her “crooners” and being so much younger than I, her appreciation really proves that good music is timeless. ox

    1. I have never taken Darwin to a vet, Kate, and I sometimes wonder (and worry a bit) about what that would even entail! He’s so funny and very insistent. If I didn’t feed him well from the “approved list” I can only imagine what he’d do to the surrounding landscape. Supposedly he should even eat weeds, but he’s so well-fed that I think I missed the opportunity to train him in that direction! 🙂

    1. The crooners are timeless, don’t you think, Eleenie? And Tony Bennett is just amazing in his ability to continue to perform into his 80s attracting a multiple generations to his live performances. And yes, Darwin is very lucky. LOL! And spoiled. 🙂

    1. Robert, I’m so sorry your tortoise disappeared! Darwin has escaped a couple of times and we really have to keep a close eye on him. I heard a news story just today about a tortoise that had been gone for six months and was returned to his home. He had an implanted micro-chip! I am having a hard time picturing how that would be done on Darwin, but I’m going to at least look into it! He’s quite the member of the family! 🙂 I feel really badly that your guy just took off. Hopefully he found a good home. We have a smaller box-tortoise that was a “rescue.” I’m sure he was somebody’s pet!

  7. Dear Debra, just to clue you in to how illiterate I am with regard to the music since about 1975, this is the first time I’ve heard “The Body Electric.” What a lovely song. Thank you for introducing me to it. I’m surely captured by the past–by Tony Bennett and Glenn Yarborough, both Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle, Mary O’Hara, Michael Joncas, the St. Louis Jesuits, Judy Garland, Sarah Vaughan, Johnny Mathis . . . well you can see the eras that I come from!

    I’ve been away from blogging for over a month and so I’ve missed your postings that encourage us to breathe lightly on life and through life. If there are any postings you’d especially like me to read, please do let me know.

    I hope the new year is filled with many opportunities for your growth in the human spirit. Peace.

    1. It’s so good to hear from you, Dee. I hope you are doing well, and I, too, hope you find the new year kind and welcoming! I don’t think I’ve shared anything too “necessary” in this past month, dear Dee, but you are so kind to even suggest I might have something more to share with you. Some of the artists you mention are indeed timeless. Imagine Tony Bennett continuing to perform and attract even very young audiences. I think that’s the power of music. It really should be timeless. I know many of the greats you mentioned, but don’t know Mary O’Hara or Michael Joncas or the St. Louis Jesuits. I have access to quite a few good music outlets and I’m going to preview these favorites of yours and see what I can learn. 🙂 I’m making a list of possible new-to-me artists I might enjoy. As for the soundtrack from “Fame,” it doesn’t surprise me that you didn’t follow it at the time. You were busy with a lot of other very important things! I doubt you are alone in not recalling it–I’m quite sure of that! I’m very glad you shared your thoughts and what your own musical enjoyment, Dee. It’s been fun hearing what others enjoy. It’s a great big musical world out there. 🙂

      1. Dear Debra, if you get a chance to explore the music of the St. Louis Jesuits and Michael Joncas (who wrote “On Angel’s Wings”….and He shall bear you up on angels’ wings . . .) and Mary O’Hara, I suggest you look at You-Tube for her version of “Lord of the Dance.” She is a well-known Irish harpist and singer. The recording of her appearance at the Edinburgh Festival back in the 1970s is a favorite of mine. All the songs she sang on it almost break my heart. Peace.

    1. Darwin will eat romaine lettuce, and that’s what we mostly give him, with some calcium sprinkled on it. He also eats the grass and some timothy hay. We were giving him a really rich diet including broccoli and a variety of other vegetables, but then we learned they were too high in protein for him, and that’s why his shell was creating pyramids. Fortunately he doesn’t eat every day this time of year. We have another small box tortoise. Rocky, that’s his name, eats meal worms. So we are learning all the time with these creatures, great and small! 🙂

    1. Isn’t’ Darwin funny, Deb? We get a big kick out of him. He has personality. I haven’t heard of any movie about Katy Perry. I am sure that was interesting. I know she has a background that came out of “church music” as a child and teen…hard to picture that now, though, huh? 🙂 Happy New Year to you, too, my friend.

  8. I like to listen to Swing, or James Last in the morning to get me on my feet and dancing the dust about the place! I often refer to it as my polishing music. Work is done in half the time.

    1. Polishing music! I love that, GM. That’s a wonderful way to get moving in the morning and to boost the endorphins in such a pleasant way! I like James Last, also. I’ll have to remember to add him to my playlist. Thank you!

  9. You’re going to have to start charging Darwin room and board if he keeps eating all your expensive succulents! 😉 He’s so adorable, though, that I probably couldn’t deny him anything.

    1. I do find I’m very tolerant of our Darwin, it’s true. But sometimes I try to picture myself as a “little old lady” trying to care for what will surely be a 100 pound tortoise, and I shake my head! I hope my children love him, too. LOL!

  10. Thanks for the mention! Yesterday, it was all about Les Miserables, and today it was my rock playlist — everything from Aerosmith to Oasis to Guns N Roses. Tomorrow it might be Motown or classic ’70s disco or ’80s New Wave. I usually play music quite loudly between classes. I feel I’m on a mission to raise the musical standards of the students in my school. 🙂 And oftentimes, they raise mine.

    1. I have enjoyed Aerosmith from their beginnings, but I think I missed the Guns N Roses era. I think I have a very broad acceptance of music, but every once in a while I realize I missed an era and there’s a gap. I still love ’70s disco but I think I missed most of the ’80s and entered again in the 90’s. LOL! Do you listen at all through Spotify? If by some chance you haven’t checked that out, I recommend it to anyone with broad eclectic tastes. You can get lost in it making playlists. I think music is the best for whatever “ails ya” and I am very pleased that I can listen during my workday. It sounds to me like you’re always looking for a music break, too! We are so fortunate to have so much music accessibility. I, of course, still remember when you purchased one vinyl album and that was it until you saved enough for more. Now it’s almost limitless. I’m listening right now to a jazz station in San Francisco, via Internet Radio. Aren’t we fortunate! 🙂 Thank you for sharing your playlist, Kevin!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing Darwin, our scavenger, on the move! 🙂 He’s definitely in control, Otto. I could let him just eat the grass and weeds and he’d be fine, I think. But we have given in to his demands for more and better, and I think he’s happy!

  11. Tom McCubbin

    So glad to see Darwin back and in action! I was thinking of him yesterday when lookng at a patch of aloe that had gone to blossom…

  12. Thank you for a lovely light and inspiring start to my day! I thoroughly enjoyed moving from the slow munching tortoise (sorry about your succulents!) with a railroad track next to him, right through to the joy of music, dance and becoming in the movie Fame! I may have to watch it again myself 😉

  13. It’s starting to look as though having Darwin and cultivating a garden may be on a collision course the bigger he gets, Debra. 🙂 i loved the clip from Fame which made a nice change from the very simple clarinet tunes I keep practising. 🙂

    1. You made me laugh, Perpetua! You keep practicing that clarinet and you’ll be ready for a small orchestra! You’ll have your own FAME. 🙂 And yes, indeed–I can just see myself in about twenty years, dottering around the yard and trying to corral a 75 pound tortoise and keep him fed. We have a small dinosaur on our hands. LOL!

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