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ELDER MUSIC: Songs of Leonard Cohen


Just to get it off my chest because today's is a special Interesting Stuff, this is one of my favorite seasonal ditties:

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The birdies is

The little bird is on the wing
Ain't that absurd
I always heard
The wing is on the bird

No one knows who wrote that (it was not Ogden Nash, as some say) but it is at least as old as I am; I know because my father recited it to me when I was a very little girl.

Today, in a remarkable confluence of different calendars – Hebrew and Gregorian, three (northern hemisphere) spring holidays come together in one weekend. This rarely happens; in many years, Jewish Passover and Christian Easter can be nearly a month apart.

Passover, of course, celebrates the story of the Exodus when Jews were freed from slavery in Egypt.

The Hebrew calendar is lunisolar (look it up), used primarily nowadays to determine the dates of Jewish holidays. Passover always begins on the 15th day of the Hebrew month of Nisan which, this year, corresponds with our secular calendar date, 6 April.

Because Jewish days begin at sundown, Passover began last evening and will continue until the evening of the 14th.

My friend of many decades, John Brandt, sent along this catchy Passover song - set to the tune of Cheek to Cheek - that explains the multitude of symbolism involved in the seder dinner held on the first and second nights of Passover. As John (or someone) said about it: awesome.

The Christian holiday, Easter, as everyone probably knows, marks the end of Lent – a six-week period of fasting, penance and prayer – and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus. This year that day is tomorrow, 8 April.

The date of Easter is determined by the Gregorian calendar (except for some Orthodox churches that use the Julian calendar) which is the internationally accepted civil calendar we all use in order to show up on the day agreed to.

But that doesn't mean the holiday falls on the same date each year. Oh no. It's much more complicated.

Supposedly, Easter falls on the Sunday after the full moon following the vernal equinox. Got that? Well, not so fast.

Instead of using astronomical observations to determine those two dates, the church uses the “ecclesiastical full moon” to find the date of Easter with the vernal equinox set always to 21 March even if, like this year it arrives (20 March) on a different date.

Oh never mind. If you really care, I'm sure Wikipedia can help.

So here is a song celebrating the story of Easter that is just as much fun and high energy as the Passover song.

Okay, that covers two of the spring holidays. What could be the third? It often arrives with one or the other of Easter and Passover, but hardly ever with both and I cannot recall that it was ever sandwiched so tightly between the two as this year.

So wish me happy birthday. I am 71 today.

Number 64 was fun for The Beatles song and last year – well, 70 is one of those big, fat, round numbers that cannot be ignored. But 71 is a kind of meh year, don't you think. However, I agree with what Christopher Isherwood said at about this time in his life:

“If I had known when I was twenty-one that I should be as happy as I am now, I should have been sincerely shocked. They promised me wormwood and the funeral raven.”

Not yet. Not yet.

Did you know that the Happy Birthday song is copyrighted? That is why you hardly ever hear it in birthday scenes in movies and on television – because the copyright holder charges gigantic royalty fees for commercial uses.

I surely don't want to get on their bad side so here is an entirely different kind of birthday song, Happy Birthday Blues from B.B. King, that's much more to my liking anyway.

The more usual and traditional kind of Interesting Stuff column will return next week.

Interesting Stuff is a weekly listing of short takes and links to web items that have caught my attention; some related to aging and some not, some useful and others just for fun.

You are all encouraged to submit items for inclusion. Just click “Contact” in the upper left corner of any Time Goes By page to send them. I'm sorry that I probably won't have time to acknowledge receipt and there is no guarantee of publication. But when I do include them, you will be credited and I will link to your blog if you have one.


Happy Birthday, Ronni! And the BB King version of good wishes can't be beat. :)Dee

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Ronni!! Now you're my age (for a while) and as "they say", come on in, the water's fine.

Have a great Birthday, Ronni!

Happy, Happy Birthday, Ronni. May it be a good day filled with smiles and happy surprises.

Happy Birthday, Ronni! Hope your day is fantastic! Best wishes for many healthy and happy years to come.

May your birthday be wonderful Ronni. I wish you health and happiness also.

""♫♫♫ ¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*¨♪Happy birthday, dearest Ronni*¨*•.¸¸♥¸¸.•*♥ ♫♫♫ and many more*¨*♫♫♫*¨*

Wishing you good — ideas, posts, deeds, health, vibes, relationships, decisions, and surprises.

Love, Tamar

Well, Ronni, after Tamar's display I better come up with something good.

So, I will tell you a little poem that we used to say as children to go with your poem.

The Cat's Meow

"Love to eat them mousies
Mousies what I love to eat,
Bite they little heads off
Nibble on they tiny feet."


Wishing you all the best on your birthday and in your New Year!

Happy Birthday, Ronni!!! Stop by my place for a glass of champers!!!

With the first light of sun- Bless you. When the long day is done- Bless you. In your smiles and your tears- Bless you. Through each day of all your years- Bless you.


Happy Birthday, Ronni, may it be the best ever. Wishing you many more!

Happy birthday, Ronniç

Oh, Happy Birthday Ronni! What a lovely post!

Happy birthday, Ronni! Here's one from Stevie Wonder...

Happy Birthday!! It seems we are near twins. I turned 71 yesterday. We have lived through amazing times, growing up in the 50's and
then being zapped by the '60s!! I also am a single refugee from the east coast (since 1976), and live near Seattle.

Happy birthday! And many happy returns!

Happy Birthday to you Ronni.

I can only say that once. Thrice more will find me facing a lawsuit

Happy Birthday, Ronni! May you have a wonderful day and year to follow!

hb2u hb2u hbdR hb2u + Minnie Moore

I'm finding 72 to be much like 71. Most importantly, this moment on this day is just fine!

Thank you so much for what you do.

Happy Happy Solar Return Ronni! A solar return is when the sun returns to the same degree as on the day of birth. If you will share the time (a.m. or p.m.) and place of your birth...I can tell you more. Privately, of course....
Many Hugs and lots of chocolate! Elizabeth....

Cheers to you Ronni! We share a birthday month, and year--I will be 71 in 10 days. Can't wait for more adventures--Enjoy your day.

An Irish wish for you, Ronni:

We drink to your coffin. May it be built from the wood of a hundred year old oak tree that I shall plant tomorrow.

Long life and good health to you!


Happy 71st Ronni! You wear it well!!

Here is a poem for your birthday, from an anthology, "Poetry 180: Turning Back to Poetry", edited by Billy Collins:

God Says Yes To Me,
by Kaylin Haught

I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic

and she said yes

I asked her if it was okay to be short

and she said it sure is

I asked her if I could wear nail polish

or not wear nail polish

and she said honey

she calls me that sometimes

she said you can do just exactly

what you want to

Thanks God I said

And is it even okay if I don’t paragraph

my letters

Sweetcakes God said

who knows where she picked that up

what I’m telling you is

Yes Yes Yes

Ronni, 71 is a prime number, along with 73. So look at this year as being PRIME!

Happy birthday to you in any language one speaks, but they all mean the same; enjoy good health, much happiness and lots of wealth.

Wonderful birthday to you, Ronni. I hope the day is just chock full of happiness and that the year to follow brings much joy and good health.

May you have a wonderful day and year, Ronni. You certainly have enriched my years.

Happy Birthday & Happy Spring to Happy Ronni!

Well, my dear, I finally got to the end of the scroll of happy birthday wishes to add mine. Happy happy birthday and many more!

Happy Birthday!

Interesting to note I learned that poem as:

Spring is sprung
The grass is riz
I wonder where
The flowers is

And had never heard the second part, which looks like a different ditty because the meter changes.

But I grew up in Oklahoma, so there's no tellin'!

Happy Birthday!! And many more to come.

Happy Birthday, Ronni! Thanks for all the great blogs and the comments that follow. Best wishes for: "salud, dinero y amor y tiempo para gozarlos" (health, wealth and love and time to enjoy them)!

How I learned your poem in faux-Brooklynese, growing up in a small town in mostly French Canada, I can't guess:

Spring is sprung, de grass is riz.
I wonder where de boidies is.
Dey say de boid is on de wing,
But dat's absoid -
De wing is on de boid!

Also - happy birthday to us - I'll be 75 on Monday. I share that day with my godmother, her grandson, and Elijah, a super neat boy in the Kindergarten class at the child day care center where I teach, who will be 5.

Happy Birthday...may you have many more!

Happy birthday, Ronni!
Hope you hit the lottery big time, in which case we'll paraphrase the seder's final blessing: "Next year in New York!"

Oh, my! My mother used to recite that little ditty every Spring. She loved all 'nonsense' things.
Her version was:
Spring has sprung,
The grass has riz.
I wonder where the boys iz!

I still have her little stuffed Purple Cow on a shelf. Do you remember --
I never saw a purple cow, I never hope to see one.
But I can tell you one thing, I'd rather see than be one!

Feliz Compleanos!

Happy Birthday, Ronni, with all best wishes for a happy and healthy 71st year.

71 - what a wonderful age to be! Have a great birthday, Ronni, and many more of them.

You and your blog are an inspiration. Happy Birthday and many more

Many happy returns(when I was a kid I wondered what a return is. Now I know).

The purple cow couplet was by Ogden Nash (who in addition to humorous verse also wrote the lyrics to some classic love songs), but here's another of his I recite now with glass raised in a birthday toast:

There's something about a martini
A feeling both tingly and pleasant
A yellow, a mellow martini
I wish that I had one at present.

Yes, there's something about a martini
Ere the dining and dancing begin
And to tell you the truth, It's not the vermouth
I think that it might be the gin!

Happy birthday, Ronni!

When I explored the internet I found your birth day was a Monday and thought of this little poem. Happy Birthday, Ronni.

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,

Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

Now I'm off to find my own. I turned 76 yesterday.

Happy birthday, Ronni. I hope your year ahead will be a joy filled one.

Ah, to be 71, again! Happy birthday, Ronni, you wonderful person, you!

Ronni, Five years to go before I hit 71. You make it worth looking forward to. Thank you for being here, day after day, voicing our concerns and provoking thoughts. Sending enormous warm hugs over the inter webs we are not supposed to have mastered ;)

Happy Birthday Ronni!

A fan in Calgary

Happy Birthday Ronni! All the Best!

Happy Birthday, Ronni!

Happy Hippy Birthday to you... I saw a funny birthday card that said, "Happy good wishes for lots of birthdays" (instead of lots of good wishes for a happy birthday, sorry the translation is not so smooth). Ronni, you are my mighty hero and I wish you continued health and happiness in the next year.

Happy Birthday, Ronni, and may there be many many more with all good health and happiness.

Happy Birthday Ronni! I love the Passover-Birthday-Easter trilogy. It looks like a happy omen of the year to come.

Happy Birthday, Ronni! Wishing you everything good. Thank you for the generous dedication of your time at TBG and The Elder's Storytelling Place. I know I'm just one of many who find it life enhancing.

Happy Birthday Ronni! Thank you for helping to break down ageist barriers and writing about subjects nobody else dares yet we all worry about them.

Bon anniversaire Ronni !

I appreciate reading your blog
from Paris, France.

Happy Birthday and Cheers! Here's to many many more.

Yes! Happy Birthday. My Grandmother used to say (in hushed tones) "I'm not a drinking woman...1 or 2 at the most....3, I'm under the table...4, I'm under the host!!!" haha---I was shocked :)

Happy birthday, Ronni!

Happy Birthday, Treasured Elder Writer!

Happy Birthday Ronni,
Funny you mention 64 and the Beatles. Wednesday friend turned 64. We're on a bowling league and usually there is cake and the copyrighted (now I know) Happy Birthday song. But I brought in copies of "When I'm 64" and we shocked the you know what out of her when the whole league sang When I get older, losing my hair etc etc (Probably copyrighted)

From my brother-in-law Roy:

I saw a birdie in the sky,
It dropped a turd into my eye,
But I'm a big girl
- I din't cry...

But I'm sure glad that cows can't fly!

Happy Birthday!

Best wishes, dear Ronnie. From another grateful reader.

Happy Birthday, Ronni!

If You Were Born Today, April 7
You are hungry for experience, and this trait certainly makes your life interesting. Very creative and innovative, you are forward-looking and sometimes leave things behind perhaps too easily as you find something else that captures your enthusiasm. You are not always good at listening, and you prefer to be in control. You are capable of great success. Famous people born today: Jackie Chan, Billie Holiday, Russell Crowe, James Garner, Francis Ford Coppola, John Oates.
(from )

A most Happy Birthday to you, Ronni. May you celebrate the whole year through!!

Happy Birthday! You'll be good for another 30 years or more, at least.

Happy Birthday (belatedly). The next "milestone" is 75 which I passed in January.

Spring Chicken,indeed.
Wishing you splendid times today and ahead with many more interesting milestones to reach and muse over.

Love your blog. Former western ny, now Atlanta, GA. Happy Easter

Have an excellent year, Ronni. Have the best of birthdays!!

Best wishes for a good year ahead! And thanks for the Seder Song, will share its sprightly images/tune at a seder this afternoon.

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday, Ronni. May you have a healthy, creative and abundant year.

Happy birthday!

Happy Belated Birthday wishes. Love, the blog you give to us. Thanks so much for taking the time with this informative and creative column. Have a great upcoming year.

I'm a bit late in reading blogs, so my wish is late but still heartfelt. It sounds like you had a lovely birthday. Many happy returns!

Oops, missed the date of your B/D but I'm singing the birthday song to you right now, copyrighted or not. Many happy healthy days in the year ahead.

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