#1053 It’s not over till the old lady dances

Paddy and Nico

Paddy and Nico at Britain’s Got Talent; photo clip from video below

Paddy began dancing when she was two and a half years old. She stopped to rear four children.

Years later she and her husband moved to Spain. He died there 18 months later. She wanted something to do so began taking lessons at Nico’s dance academy.

This was not just a whim. It was a passion. Nico’s lessons took her farther than most 80-year-olds would dare go. They took their act to Britain’s Got Talent and wowed judges and audiences alike.

Paddy’s was a dream deferred. She gives me hope.


#1052 First-time, best-selling author at 65

Laura Ingalls Wilder; photo via Wikimedia Commons

When she began penning the books that would become one of the most successful children’s series of all time, Laura Ingalls Wilder was 65. Her homesteading family had not been particularly extraordinary in the heartland of late-1800s America. What made…


#1050 Her dog went missing so the animal shelter sent her home with a baby sloth

Sloth in the Amazon

Sloth in the Amazon; photo by Carol Schaffer, via Flickr Creative Commons

Monique Pool never intended to found an animal sanctuary. It all started with her lost dog. When she asked the Suriname Animal Protection Society if they had found it, they offered her Loesje, a baby three-toed sloth. That baby’s sweet smile captured her heart and changed her life.

The BBC’s Vibeke Venema wrote a heartwarming story about her. Loesje died after two years, but Pool’s attachment to sloths turned into a full-scale fostering operation. One or two a week were sent to her for temporary care. Then in 2012 forest clearing near Suriname’s capital destroyed a major sloth habitat, and Pool ended up rescuing 200 sloths.

Now the Green Heritage Fund she launched in 2005 works to protect the three-toed sloth as well as others of the Xenarthra species. They also fund a dolphin-conservation project as well as research and education programs.

Fair warning: don’t even think about fostering a sloth unless you have a ready supply of just the right fresh leaves. However, you can adopt one through the Green Heritage Fund Suriname. And you can look at the sweet photos Vibeke Venima posted with her BBC article.

Monique Pool, with her compassion for animals and her commitment to work on their behalf, gives me hope.


#1049 Oregon says YES to marriage equality

Same-sex marriage

In 2013 the U.S. Supreme Court made two historic decisions that moved marriage equality forward. Both found aspects of DOMA, the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, to be unconstitutional. On May 19, 2014 a federal judge followed suit, overturning Oregon’s…


#1048 Teen writes climate-saving cookbook

Emily Abrams

Emily Abrams; photo clip from video below

Seriously, think back to your teen years. Were you trying to save the world? This young woman is not waiting for anyone else. She is starting now.

High school-senior Emily Abrams understands the dangers of climate change and the link between what we choose to eat and our impact on the planet. So she contacted some of the best chefs in America and asked for their climate-friendly recipes.

The result is a cookbook whose title is a plea, “Don’t Cook the Planet.”

Abrams grew up in an environmentally savvy family. They must be incredibly proud.

Amazon US, Amazon Canada or your public library


#1046 Salut Salon salts a classical quartet with the spice of fun

Photo of Salut Salon from their Facebook page

Photo of Salut Salon from their Facebook page

My love affair with classical music began when I picked up a bow and started scraping it unmusically across the strings of a violin. In spite of my screeching renditions of simple pieces, I could hear the stories embedded in the notes. My mind would hear a waterfall, see deer bounding through the forest, pick up a tea cup at a garden party, slip into pirate gear and sail through a storm. When I listened to classical music played by a professional orchestra or a local, amateur symphony, I was lost in another world.

But how can young people today, immersed in a world heady with distractions, be seduced by music? Part of the answer lies in a quartet called Salut Salon. I learned of them through a link to their performance of “Wettstreit zu viert” (“Competitive Foursome”). Their antics were hilarious. It is no wonder the video has been viewed more than 9 million times.

Comedic nonsense is, of course, only a small part of what they do. They are highly talented musicians who bring irresistible passion to their performances. But along with their virtuosity comes a healthy dose of fun. It shines through their videos and must be sheer magic in a live performance.

By taking their music seriously but adding creativity and joy to their performances, Angelika Bachmann, Iris Siegfried, Anne-Monika von Twardowski, and Sonja Lena Schmid attract people who might shy away from the stuffy formality of most classical quartets.

They give me hope for the future of fine music.

You can follow Salut Salon on YouTube and Facebook.