In the Mood

Christi Craig is one of my writing mentors. I love her prompts — they get me to write about subjects I hadn’t thought of writing about. Take this one, for instance: I wasn’t necessarily “in the mood” to write about the prompt for the week (mood) but when I posted this, everyone in the group liked it. I hope you will too.


Whenever a particular word lodges in my brain, the music-loving side of my personality joins in. Hey, she says, remember “I’m in the Mood for Love”?

Why of course I do, and You Tube offers a couple of choices. First there’s Frank Sinatra crooning seductively, and I can imagine myself on the dance floor. No particular partner in mind but if it were Frank himself to cut in and say, May I? I could easily be in the mood for whatever  he had in mind. Jilted partner? you might wonder. Well, whoever he is doesn’t emerge in my imagination with any identifiable features so it’s okay. In my reverie I’ve simply switched partners because I was very much “in the mood.”

Remember when we listened to music like “In the Mood” on records like this?

But take a different recording – one by Nat King Cole – and he’s singing a jazzed up version of the same song. Any lovestruck couples on the dance floor would have to find some quiet corner or else – get into the mood with Nat, doing the jitterbug or some other fancy-footwork dance.

Now that in turn reminds me of the time back in the 1970s when I was a member of a women’s chorus. Women of Note, we called ourselves, under the direction of Margaret Purser. We had chosen to choreograph Glenn Miller’s popular jazz song “In the Mood” for a community-wide variety show. There we were, all thirty of us outfitted in our pink dresses going through our routine with as much grace as you might imagine from a group of enthusiastic middle-aged women showing off on stage. I wish I had a video.

I believe that music can affect our moods – bring us up or bring us down – it’s a matter of choosing just the right kind of music, the right song, the right tempo. A person just has to know which songs or symphonies to play on a given day. Something to match the current mood – or something to draw us out of it.

It’s the same with colors. Moods can color our outlook on almost any situation. It could be a sunny and glorious day outside but if the cloud of gloom has settled over your head, well sometimes there’s little you can do other than give in to a particular mood. Just remember – moods can be catching, and pretty soon everyone around you may find it difficult to maintain a sunny disposition when forced to contend with your surliness, sullenness, self-pity. . . .and all the rest.

One of my favorite stories about my granddaughter, Ella, comes from when she was 3 years old, sitting at a table with her dad and coloring. She put away the blue crayon and paused, considering her other choices. “How about red?” Robert suggested but she turned it down. “Green?” No again.

Enchanting Unicorns Coloring Book - OOLY

“How about yellow?” Ella’s patient father offered, and her face lit up as she reached for the crayon and resumed her coloring. “Yellow understands me,” she confided to Robert.
I think I know what Ella meant. Some days there are certain songs, certain colors, certain people that cheer us up if we’re feeling down. They match the color of our mood. They “understand” us.

A Bookcase and a Phonograph

My father, an excellent carpenter, crafted a beautiful wooden bookcase out of an old icebox. The icebox had been replaced by an electric Fridgidaire in the 1940s and came with us from Milwaukee when we moved to the farm. The bookcase, I remember, was stained a golden brown and had three separate shelves which held all our family’s small collection of books. It was located in the upper hallway: on the southeast corner of the second floor, at the very top of the stairs.

On top of that bookcase sat another treasure from my growing-up years: a wind-up phonograph that played cylindrical records.  My mother and her sisters had received the old Edison phonograph when they were girls growing up on a Minnesota farm. It had been a gift from an aunt who favored them, and for some reason it ended up with our family, though my cousin Joanne remembers having it at their home sometimes too. Today it belongs to another cousin, Judy, in Oregon whose mother Mae was one of the co-owners of this musical gift. Joanne and I hope that someday it will be donated to a museum for others to enjoy.

To play one of the scratchy-sounding cylinders, which were kept nearby in a fabric-lined laundry basket, I would first raise the lid of the wooden box, carefully position the needle at the outer rim of the cylinder, turn the simple switch from off position to on, and then sing along with one of the songs our whole family had come to learn by heart.

There was “Oh Katerina” and “I Laughed at the Wrong Time”; there was “Casey Jones” and “What Does the Little Dog Mean When He Says Bow Wow?” As the phonograph wound down, the tempo would slow until the last syllables died out and we would have to crank it up again.

I just located a similar machine being sold on Etsy for $350. Now I think I should pass that news along to Cousin Judy. If she decides not to donate it to a museum, she could probably make good use of money like that.