First “juke box”

First "jukebox"
1899, The world’s first jukebox was installed at San Francisco’s Palais Royal Saloon. It was constructed by the Pacific Phonograph Company. Four stethoscope-like tubes were attached to an Edison Class M electric phonograph fitted inside an oak cabinet. The tubes operated individually, each being activated by the insertion of a coin, meaning that four different listeners could be plugged in to the same song simultaneously.The machine was originally called the “nickel-in-the-slot player” by Louis Glass, the entrepreneur who installed it at the Palais Royal. It later came to be known as the jukebox.
– photo and info passed along by Benjamin Barr

Mini Box Dulcimer

by Goschenhobel

Two children’s songs played in noter-drone style on a slim, short scale box dulcimer made by Goschenhobel in about 5 hours.

The facts: poplar plywood top and (double) back, strips of oak for the sides and beech blocks (for the string nails and the zither pins) on the left and right.
Length 60 cm (24″), width 20 cm (8″), height 3,7 cm (1 1/2″); scale length 54 cm (about 21 1/2″). Three strings (0.12, 0.16, 0.24) tuned to Gdg.

On Rannoch Moor





– by Mary MacGowan

Mary’s Song

This song’s title is from a poem with the same title by Marion Angus, a Scottish poet popular at the turn of the century. I decided to “Americanize” her words because she used a lot of Gaelic and it didn’t feel right for me. Youtube gave me the option to create this old-fashioned look, sepias and faded, lovin’ it.


Please click on “play”

poem by Yeats, of course; music by me

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honeybee,
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the mourning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.


Little Me, Big Tree

Little me, big tree

Little me, big tree

Called in a tree expert to save this mighty white pine, looking sick. He says I have to water it. How long does it take from my hose to  the roots? As far down as it grows up? I’m so small, humbled.

The white pine’s so near the lake, but being that close doesn’t mean it isn’t parched.

The Earth is precisely
the right size to cast
a round shadow that fits
exactly on the moon.

I was told this
by a man I once loved
as if it were common knowledge
as if
it were true.

I need, all the time, something
to be true.

A globe
casting its penny
into heaven’s river.

What to do
with such a
silvered ship?

And how to keep
from dying of thirst,
bottle of water in hand?


My watering set up

My watering method



How near is the water!

How near the water!


Emblems of a Sacred Bird

Guillermo  Aldana E. photograph in National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Guillermo Aldana E. photographer, National Geographic, altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

This is one of my favorite Nat’l Geo paintings so far. Water, Citrsolv, grapeseed oil, Lysol spray, painting, swishing, waiting, reinventing. This end result feels magical to me.

“A painted prayer blooms on the cheeks of a Huichol woman who uses lipstick to form a background for flower petals, symbols of fertility. Emblems of a sacred bird march across her headdress.”

“Jane” waits for the right time & a question about photo enhancements

It’s simple. I’ve decided to post an entire chapter of “Jane” once each month, not in these small installments. First one will be very soon.

Meanwhile . . . questions! Here’s one of my first National Geographic photos I altered and painted. The 1st version is “unenhanced”  by iPhoto, the 2nd version is enhanced.





And here are 2 more examples, the 2st one “unenhanced” and the 2nd one enhanced:

1st version, "unenhanced"

1st version, “unenhanced”


2nd version, enhanced

Mostly I’ve been posting enhanced photos on this blog… But now I would love some feedback. Which do you prefer? And if you prefer the enhanced versions, then how do I package them to exhibit?

How About the Scamp?

HP Slide 01

You can buy USED Scamps, sooooo much cheaper than the Ponderosa Little Joe. So I probably should go with a Scamp, which is cute and just as good.

I’m in a snit about the whole thing, though. Which voice do I believe?
“Do this and you will have a blast!”
“You can only do this is you will create brilliant art and poetry and sketches and songs”

One Trailer, One Woman

Why am I writing a blog post about this little sweetheart of a trailer?

Compact lightweight luxury travel camper trailer for two - more features than the standard Little Joe Model

Pull lightweight Ponderosa Little Joe camper with your small car, jeep or pickup with ease

Ponderosa seating allows room to relax and enjoy the living space

Luxury elevated bed for two - more comfort in a small environmentSmall Toilet gives Ponderosa owners true convenience while traveling

Ponderosa includes an ingenious sink/stove combinationRefrigerator makes Ponderosa just like home - Convenience and Luxury in a small space

Because an American journey might be in my future, January – February – March 2014. Just about the time I start to go slightly batty in all the snow we get here in the northern woods.

It might be the kinda thing you have to just do, without asking one’s self too many questions. Such as, Am I Nuts? Or, What if I hate it?

It might be the coolest thing to do for a woman about to turn 60 in March…?

Introducing the Ponderosa Little Joe. Air conditioning, mini kitchen, mini sleeping, mini toilet, mini shower, mini icebox.

I can picture where my ukulele would go, my National Geo painting supplies, my watercolors.  My two dogs, even.

I find the sense of containment to be very appealing.

To Bring String and Sing

Two Birds, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

A Warm Nest For Lovers, 1960 National Geographic photograph altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

I’m a sky blue sweater, damp, laid out flat on a wooden table. My arms stretch open to rest on chairs, air-drying, curling up at the wrist. Tomorrow I will wear myself, hands cupped: a warm nest for lovers and sparrows to bring string and sing.

Running the Wing

Woman Running With Plane, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

Running the Wing, National Geographic photo altered and painted by Mary MacGowan

“Running the wing,” Marina Beebe steadies the sailplane of her husband Bruce as he is towed aloft. She then chased him with a car and retrieving trailer 400 miles from Reno across the Nevada desert and into Idaho.


What my iPhone heard me say today:

The lilacs are in bloom bloom bloom it seems there’s brushing up here everywhere here in the northern great Hollibush of something. One house has a fencing yeah I hear it takes to lilac trees to grow one can’t make it alone all things are growing because it is springtime creatures moving about turtles fighting turtles showing themselves everything reaching up I believe I shall grow lilacs next year come by the Road, for all to see my neighbors and I sending pleasure to each other through color and perfume.

I had something else in mind, but I kinda like it this way.


☝ play!

Sitting around the kitchen table this morning and couldn’t think of one good reason not to record Skinamarink. Singing and playing by me.

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

I love ya in the morning and in the afternoon

I love ya in the evening underneath the moon

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

I love ya on the hillside, I love ya on the level

And when you’re in my arms I love ya like the devil (ooo!)

Skinamarinky dinkydink skinamarinky do – I love you

(sing it again now) I love you

(one more time!) I – love – you – too – boop boop dee doo

You Are Always Awake Even If You Don’t Know It

jessica's son

A brilliant great-nephew’s recent homework: “You are always awake even if you don’t know it. I felt a lot in 60 seconds. I felt tingling like nerves bumping me. I saw stars. Light was still in, which caused shapes. My stomach tightened, because the diaphram moved down. I also felt my blood rushing.”

Rabblerousers and Names


8th grade, 1968, new state, new school, girls were not allowed to wear pants to school. I pleasantly and determinedly created a petition to request that girls be allowed to wear pants to school. I got enough signatures, it worked, we were allowed to wear pants.

Mr. Brenner, my English teacher, said “Mary, you are a rabblerouser!” I had to look up the word in the dictionary. An old fashioned one, with alphabetical listings, remember those? When I found out that the word describes itself, one who rouses the rabble, I blushed with flustered….shame! embarrassment! horror!

What I wondered then, and I still wonder now, this many years later, is why do Rabblerousers have a name if not to imply that there is something wrong – or annoying – or dangerous – about them?

And yes I am still rousing the rabble. Nothing huge, but yeah I still do.

Dizzy Lizzy the Monkey

Dizzy Lizzy (feat. Bill Kelly)
PLAY ☝☝☝☝
Lizzy's smile's a frown DSCF0985

Dizzy Lizzy lost her head
Found it hangin’ by a thread
By a thread her head hung down
makin’ Lizzy’s smile a frown

I got a needle and some thread
Sewed together neck and head
Right side up she found her smile
Grinned a grin Lizzy style

Dizzy Lizzy is she fine?
Don’t ask me she isn’t mine.
All I know is that her head
is fastened on with golden thread.

Go For Random!

“Random” is the instant a horse at full speed has all four hooves off the ground, unbridled love that flies. So, human beings: Gallop! Be glad for every day the word “love” has been spoken in your presence. It ends, you say. Disappointments, you say. So what? Love gets you off the ground. Receive, give, continue thus. Fly your way through your life, I tell you, go for Random! (and Happy New Year!)

Metta in A Minor

Sacred shrine by Leslie
metta in a minor

Click on “metta in a minor”
A lovingkindness meditation in A Minor. Different. Pretty. Soothing.
The usual “script:” May I be safe, May I have happiness, May I have healing, May I have ease and grace.

Humbly yours, Mary

yes, music by me

i took the photo of my beautiful new altar created by:


metta day 6

First, for yourself:
May I be safe.
May I have happiness.
May I have healing.
May I have ease and grace all hours of the day

Then for someone whom is easy for you to love:
May you be safe.
May you have happiness.
May you have healing.
May you have ease and grace all hours of the day

Then for someone neutral in your life:
May you be safe.
May you have happiness.
May you have healing.
May you have ease and grace all hours of the day

Then for someone difficult in your life:
May you be safe.
May you have happiness.
May you have healing.
May you have ease and grace all hours of the day

Lastly, for all creatures on this Earth:
May we all be safe.
May we all have happiness.
May we all have healing.
May we all have ease and grace all hours of the day

music by mary macgowan, late at night in her living room having a great time

We’re All About It Here at Plucky Umbrella

DAY #5 “Compassion meditation” research
A few recent psychological studies suggest that loving-kindness meditation may impact health and well-being. One study done at Stanford University suggests that a short 7 minute practice of loving-kindness meditation can increase social connectedness. Loving-kindness meditation has also been shown to reduce pain and anger in people with chronic lower back pain. Researcher Barbara Fredrickson at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that loving-kindness meditation can help boost positive emotions and well-being in life, fostering the personal resources that come from experiencing positive emotion. CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW TO PARTICIPATE IN MY LOVING-KINDNESS-IN-SONG. YOU CAN SIMPLY LISTEN AND BENEFIT FROM THAT. AND NOW THAT I KNOW ABOUT THE “7 MINUTES” RESEARCH, I’LL DO A LONGER VERSION NEXT…
metta meditation day#5 with piano

3 Days Called Days of Grace

pretty, pink and spindly

A, B and C Rent a Pasture Together (a found poem from Hagar’s Common School Arithmetic)

Two boys were employed
to measure the length of a ditch.
An officer is in pursuit of a thief
who has some miles the start.
If you should leave home
and travel ’til your watch
is 35 minutes fast . . .
Rules for estimating hay,
in mows, well-settled,
divide by 550 for clover,
or by 450 for meadow hay.
Three days
called Days of grace
are usually allowed.

watercolor painting and poem by mary macgowan

Lurching About

Yesterday I lurched about, creatively.  My “creativity slave driver” buzzed around me all day…

First thing in the morning, went next door to my dear friend’s house to have tea, both of us still in jammies. It was delightful!  Creativity slave driver: Tsk tsk you didn’t write in your journal.

Went home to clean the house just a bit.  Creativity slave driver: Hurry! You need to start typing up those poems!

Made soap.  This has been an ongoing project. It turns out that to make soap you have to melt soap! This made me laugh!   In my case the creative part is this: I had muddled mint (with a mortar and pestle) from my property and slow-cooked it in oil to create a kind of “essence of mint.”  So I yesterday I put it all together and made mint soap.  I’m making the soap to give as gifts at Christmas/Hanukah. Creativity slave driver: You are spending too much energy and time doing a tame task, not creative enough!

One of my dear daughters called. She was baby sitting a 4-year-old.  She had been telling this young girl about her mom (me!) who used to sing and perform children’s music.  She asked me to sing to the 4-year-old!  I loved it!  Creativity slave driver: Go back to children’s music! You could make a lot of money! You are so good at it!

Saw a client. I’m an art therapist and I see a few clients each week.  “Creativity slave driver” was okay with that, no scolding.  I like being thoroughly present during sessions; being as attentive as I can be.

A hurried dinner and then I went to my jazz vocal ensemble rehearsal.  Creativity slave driver: You should sing just jazz! Practice jazz theory more! Put together an act and perform, become a jazz singer! 

Visited a wonderful friend after rehearsal. We talked about how we lurch about creatively! He has the same “Do this! Do that!” voice in his head!

Went back next door in my jammies for a late night cup of tea. Delightful! Creativity slave driver: You promised to start typing up those poems. Are you going to start tonight?

Got home a little before midnight. Got an email with a song attached that I might like to sing.  It’s a great song about  Spider Lake and Traverse City!  It got me happily excited, and then my creativity slave driver:  Do it! Put your local songs together, package them up and sell them next summer! You could make a fortune selling songs about Traverse City to Traverse City vacationers!

Got ready for bed, etc.  That dang creativity slave driver was still trying to get me to type out at least one poem!

I over ruled.


The Best Most Wonderful Story Ever!

How to make a personal book for your much-loved newborn granddaughter…THIS POST WAS JUST TOO LONG, SO I DITCHED A LOT OF THE PHOTOS…

Items to gather or buy:

A board book to completely cover each page and make it your own
Strong-quality wrapping paper in decorative colors and designs that match your passion for the subject of your book
several greetings cards to cut up into decorative pieces
personal photos printed out on plain paper (glues better than photo paper)
a simple story line, told like a fairy tale

Tips: Allow yourself to be messy, let each page be slightly flawed, just have fun and be filled with love!


Include several pages of photos of loved ones…..and then on the back, paste on a “made by…”

And, this is very important: Don’t be afraid to make a mess…

The End!


From TUT’s daily emails:
If you knew of a spectacular mountain that was very, very tall, yet climbable. And if it was well established that from its peak, you could literally see all the love that bathes the world, dance with the angels, and party with the gods. Would you curse or celebrate each step you took as you ascended it?


Mary, life is that mountain and each day a step.

Perspectives change everything,
The Universe

[I don’t always read my TUT emails any more – but this one is a fresh drink of nice cold mountain water!]

You Can Find Your Passion p9


Year of Mindfulness Day #2: A New Water Lily

A new water lily

curls upward like birthday ribbon
‘til the tight white bud reaches the surface.
Then it leans over on the lake
and rocks itself awake.

The tight curl believing in what-is. I am so often like that corkscrew curl….but I forget to believe. I forget to believe that I have the right to grow; that my “curl” will smooth out over time; that I am allowed to do what nature wants me to do: Enjoy and thrive.  Isn’t that ridiculous? How could I deny myself the privilege of enjoying and thriving? What was I thinking? Or was I thinking too much?

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Michigan’s Back Alleys

This scarcely feels fair, she says, so easy to find the loved
the abandoned, the swingsets, the trash cans.
It’s fair, he answers, everyone’s back yard.

They drive back and forth
behind all the bright front porches.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo & poem by mary macgowan