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INSTRUCTIONS FOR LIFE
in the new millennium from the Dalai Lama:
1. Take into account that great love and great achievements involve great risk.
2. When you lose, don’t lose the lesson.
3. Follow the three Rs:

a. Respect for self
b. Respect for others
c. Responsibility for your actions.

4. Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck.
5. Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.
6. Don’t let a little dispute injure a great friendship.
7. When you realize you’ve made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.
8. Spend some time alone every day.
9. Open your arms to change but don’t let go of your values.
10. Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.
11. Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll be able to enjoy it a second time.
12. A loving atmosphere in your home is the foundation for your life.
13. In disagreements with loved ones, deal only with the current situation. Don’t bring up the past.
14. Share your knowledge. It’s a way to achieve immortality.
15. Be gentle with the earth.
16. Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.
17. Remember that the best relationship is one in which your love for each other exceeds your need for each other.
18. Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.
19. Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.

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“Trust yourself. Create the kind of self that you will be happy to live with all your life. Make the most of yourself by fanning the tiny, inner sparks of possibility into flames of achievement.” ~ Foster C. McClellan

“Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habits. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. When we walk to the edge of all the light we have, and take the step into the darkness of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen. There will be something solid for us to stand on… or we will be taught to fly.” ~ Frank Outlaw

“No pessimist ever discovered the secrets of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” ~ Helen Keller

“Are you disappointed, discouraged and discontented with your present level of success? Are you secretly dissatisfied with your present status? Do you want to become a better and more beautiful person than you are today? Would you like to be able to really learn how to be proud of yourself and still not lose genuine humility? Then start dreaming! Its possible! You can become the person you have always wanted to be!” ~ Robert H. Schuller

“Champions aren’t made in the gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them—a desire, a dream, a vision.” ~ Muhammad Ali

“Become a Possibilitarian. No matter how dark things seem to be or actually are, raise your sights and see possibilities—always see them, for they’re always there.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Since posting my submission on “acceptance” I have received a number of Emails and a few comments posted on that particular blog from my friends, Sue Branson and Jeff Carter. At first I thought my posting was a bit too sophomoric, a mere complaint about a family tiff. The overwhelming support from Emails is greatly appreciated, as are the posts on the post itself.

This weekend, it was heavily discussed with Mother and Dena. At one point Mother said she wanted to have a photograph taken of “all five of my grandsons.” Whether Destin, or his wife, will permit their son to share in the image making moment is uncertain, but I would not wish to be either of them if such a moment is opposed. I have a feeling Mother and Dena will allow the hidden tigress to appear.

I think back on all the support I received when I introduced the process, and then Matt’s adoption. Mother and I are very similar in the fact that we seldom shed tears. I am not opposed to such a display of emotion for myself – it is just not something that comes readily. I remember twice in a less than three weeks when I saw my mother cry – when she viewed Matt’s video sent up from Texas and the day she talked to Matt on the telephone when she was visiting for a production of Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. The video of Matthew, which I showed him on his 16th birthday, was just downright pathetic. The depressed, lifeless little creature, all but having given up being adopted at age 12, presenting a brave front to the world, hoping… just hoping that someone might desire to take him home. It was much like going to a kennel and looking at the little puppies, or worse yet, older dogs, behind the cages, their big eyes imploring you to take them home…

I have never heard, “But you are a single dad, you cannot adopt.” Nor have I ever heard, “The aren’t really yours.” I would probably enter in to a violent moment on the last, as Matthew and Jose are most definitely my sons. There are times when I forget they have not been around all their life and I must remind myself that they have missed out on some moments in our family. Matt is probably more like a son than any biological son could be – he has my focus, my desire to be of help to others, my ability to be alone, and the quiet side of my nature. Jose has my wicked sense of humor, the very gregarious side of me when not desiring to be alone, my zest for living and my need to laugh often. Damn the genes and the DNA, they are my sons, and always shall be.

My friends were all supportive and could not wait for Matthew, and any other son to arrive. The only time I feel obligated to explain our family’s story is when old friends from college contact me and I must bring them up to date.

There was one moment in Kroger which was priceless. The boys were standing with me in a very long line and a couple stood behind us. “The taller boy must be his and the Hispanic boy a friend,” I heard them say quietly. I remembered something we needed and I sent the boys back for the items. As Jose took off he said, “Be right back, Father.” I could see the couple exchange glances and she told her husband, “He must look like his mother.” I turned and said, “They both look like each of their mothers.” And how I wanted to add, “And I have never been married!”

Most people, when learning of our family’s story, comment that what I am doing is “heroic.” There is nothing heroic about being a father. I do not feel as though I have “saved” my sons. I, like millions of other families throughout the world, created my family. Adoption is nothing new. In the Bible, one of the oldest collections of stories, there are a number of stories regarding adoption:
1) Moses was adopted by the pharaoh
2) Jesus was adopted by Joseph
3) Mary, the Mother of Christ, took James as her son at the bidding of Jesus when he was dying on the cross.

I have been reading several books on President Theodore Roosevelt and his eldest daughter, Alice. Princess Alice, as she was known to the world during and after her father’s presidency (1901-1909), was quite a colorful character. When her father told her that she was not permitted to smoke under his roof, she merely crawled out a White House window onto the roof and smoked there – but not under his roof. She jumped fully clothed into a swimming pool and drove her friend’s automobile at a dangerously excessive speed of 30 mph. A cabinet member told President Roosevelt he should exercise more control over his daughter. Roosevelt replied, “I can be president or I can attempt to manage Alice… I simply cannot do both.”

A young Theodore Roosevelt married Alice Lee in 1883 – one of the most beautiful women in America. While Roosevelt was serving in the New York General Assembly, he was summoned home when his wife gave birth on February 14, 1884, to a bouncing baby girl. When he arrived at his home, he was greeted by his brother, Elliott (the father of Eleanor Roosevelt) and told, “Mother is dying and Alice is too.” A few hours later, Theodore’s mother died from typhoid fever, and shortly thereafter, Alice died in his arms from Bright’s Disease. Theodore wrote, “When my beloved Alice died, the light of my life went out forever.” Baby Alice survived and was raised by her aunt, Anna “Bamie” Roosevelt. A few years later, Teddy remarried Edith, an old family friend, and this union produced four sons and a daughter. Although Alice’s step-mother treated her as her own, Alice often was treated shabbily by her half-siblings who sometimes taunted her about not having a mother of her own and having to share theirs with her.

As I read this familiar story last night, I was troubled by the thought that my own sons, unbeknownst to them, as also being taunted like Princess Alice. Their own uncle, the biological brother of their father, is just as heartless and cruel as the young Roosevelt children. I am sure they have had friends make thoughtless comments, and if so they have not been expressed here at home.

One of my favorite stories happened just before Jose came to live with us. Diabetes runs on both sides of my family lines, and the doctor once told Mother than her children had a 100% chance of being diabetic. In August 2004, Mother told me over the telephone one evening that Dad had been diagnosed with diabetes. I promptly said, “Well, my chances have increased even more.” Then it hit both Mother and myself – we sat there laughing. But, my blond moment actually said something more – there was no question in my mind or heart that David Haas had never at any time, not been my dad. A week or so later, Matthew and I were returning to Elwood for a weekend visit, and I told him that Grandpa Haas had been to the doctor and was told he had diabetes. Matthew asked, “Does that mean I will get it too since it is also hitting the men in our family?”

I said earlier in this posting that I seldom cry, but that could have been one of those moments when it would have come so easy. I never mentioned anything to Matthew about the lack of biological connection and simply said, “Well, if you watch your diet, exercise and get your blood checked regularly, you can stay on top of it.”

Acceptance…

A week from tonight Thanksgiving will be a day past… we will still be filling up on leftover turkey and all the sides… my sons and I will probably be returning from the tree lighting at the Circle in Indianapolis…

I have never truly gotten caught up in the whole theme of Thanksgiving, and it becomes less important to me as I grow older. Throughout the year we have a number of dinners at Mother’s with the family, and the only thing different about the last Thursday of November is that our dinners consist of turkey and the familiar accompaniments. I am not any more thankful on Thanksgiving than I am at any other time when the family is gathered, and I am not any more thankful on that day than any other day throughout the year. I can remember being agitated in the days following the tragedies of 9/11 when there was such a wave of patriotism… I guess I could not digest the reasoning behind the need to suddenly boast of patriotism because we were contemplating war when we should have been flying our American flags daily. I also observe this a good deal with Sundays – it is so much easier to be a Christian on Sunday than it is the remaining six days of the week.

Due to a recent episode in my family, I guess I am stepping forward to voice my blessings, one in particular. Acceptance.

This past weekend our family was blessed with visits from very dear friends, Chris Hetzer (an adopted child), Jeff Carter (an adoptive father), AJ (an adopted child), and Phil Clary (a pre-adoptive father.) We also spent several hours at the national adoption month party, hosted by ACTION Adoption, where my family was reunited with other adoptive parents and adopted children. My sister, brother and I were adopted by our step-father, David Haas, and I have had several cousins who were adopted. In all the years since my adoption, never have I ever experienced a moment of not feeling accepted by my dad, or being treated as such.

When I began considering adoption, I immediately shared this with my mother. Not one ounce of apprehension did she display. In fact, Mother and Dena have been beyond description in how they have supported me as a single adoptive father and in how they have accepted and loved my sons as their own. The one person I imagined voicing any slight objections was my 80 year old grandfather. I am ashamed to even admit that I was apprehensive about telling him as he made sure I had twin beds (“big boy beds”) to welcome my son(s). In fact, his last major trip in April 2004, before his surgery that eventually led to the end of his life, was to my home in Kettering, Ohio to deliver two frames for two more twin beds (thanks to Grandpa I have four twin beds!). Grandpa’s sister, my Aunt Norma, and her husband, Jack, have, like Mother, Dena, Dad, Uncle Tom, Uncle Danny, Aunt Bonnie and Grandpa, been so accepting of me and my family. When Aunt Norma signs off her Emails, “Much love to my three Ohio boys,” it doesn’t get much better than that.

Much of my telephone and home visits with Mother are about our days, but mostly about the boys, and my still seemingly new role as a dad. Although I still feel very much my mother’s son, it is seldom lost on me that she has welcomed me into her world as a fellow-parent. Mother is terribly supportive of me as a single father, but never criticizes or advises. And it makes sense why she would not – she was the one who raised me. If I am a great parent, it is due to her; if I am a lousy parent, I have only my self to blame. Like Mother, I demand and expect my sons to do their best in all aspects of life… the rest falls into place.

My sons adore their Grandma and Aunt Dena, and are always eager for visits – especially back in Indiana. Mother, like her mother, grandmothers and great-grandmothers before her, has carried on brilliantly in the tradition of our family’s rich heritage of wonderful grandmothers. There is no distinction between my sons and Dena’s sons – to Mother, they are all her grandsons. End of story.

That’s acceptance.

Last weekend was a beautiful reminder of something for which I am terribly grateful: acceptance. I was surrounded by loving friends who not only accepted me as an adoptive parent, but accepted Matthew and Jose as my sons. We went to the party and were immersed in a world of acceptance – people who had built their families.

For whatever reason, my younger brother, Destin, has not accepted my sons. In fact, I seriously doubt he even accepts my sister, Dena, or myself, as he tends to have a “holier-than-thou” attitude about anyone who is not related to his wife. Since his marriage in 2000, he has become more critical of our family while always pretending to wave olive branches and attempting to raise himself above our family. It has been sad to see this talented young man develop such a non-accepting, self-centered attitude towards a family that has always been close and dedicated to one another. However, I also recognize and respect the fact that he is an adult making his own decisions.

Last summer, Destin’s first child, Parker, was born. When Dena gave birth to her sons, Jonathan and Andrew, I was there for each arrival and held each nephew after his birth. When Parker was born, Destin wasted no time to call his friends, his barber included, but did not make an effort to call his own biological brother. I had been in correspondence (E-mail) with him most of the week, eagerly awaiting the arrival of a new niece or nephew. I did not voice my displeasure and hurt at not having been called, and even allowed myself to make excuses for him, all the while knowing I just don’t rank as high as those whom he accepts.

A week later, Dena and her sons were actually invited to Destin’s home to visit Parker. We were all surprised as invitations from him and his wife are rare, and if our family visits they are generally kept outside in the backyard or garage while Destin & Stacia’s friends and their friends’ children are invited inside their home. Dena’s sons were only allowed to touch the bottom of Parker’s feet (to prevent the spread of germs!), however, Dena learned shortly thereafter that the children of Desint & Stacia’s friends had already been holding Parker. That first week after his birth, as Dena was holding Parker, Destin said, “How does it feel to be holding your first nephew?” Dena replied that she already had two nephews and that she was not new to the “aunt business.” Destin then said, “No, I mean your first real nephew.”

Needless to say, Dena was furious. My mother was furious. I was furious, and hurt.

My sister suggested a very creative joint-gift for Mother’s Christmas gift in which we would all be involved. Last night Destin asked Dena point-blank, “Are Jake, Matt and… or whoever he included in this?” Dena said, “Yes.” Dena’s response pretty well shut him down, but it seemed to drive another thrust of the knife of non-acceptance into my heart.

Tonight when I hung up from chatting with Dena on the telephone, I headed into an adoptive parent support group meeting, struggling to calm the hurt, and slight agitation. As I sat looking around the room at some fifty families, I heard, numerous times, the gratitude of my fellow adoptive parents. I realized that we all shared one common bond – acceptance. We had accepted strangers into our homes and lives – calling them our sons and daughters. We all had family and friends who accepted these strangers into their hearts and families.

So, this Thanksgiving, I am grateful for acceptance from my family, my friends, my colleagues, my students and their parents, and so many with whom I come in contact. I don’t think any man could feel as blessed at this moment as I do…

As parents, we often tell our kids that we want them to “act responsibly,” or, “show respect,” or, that “consequences are the results of their actions.” But, do they know what that means? Of course, we hope that our actions are teaching them these things. But sometimes, especially with kids who have various emotional or mental health issues – learning disabilities, autistic behaviors, a sense of entitlement – they need examples clarified.

I am always searching for or creating new things to help re-enforce the tools I am trying to provide. This is a new list:

Your day will be filled with happiness, if you want it to be.

You have to strain your brain to learn new things.

Life is hard, and fun, and boring, and exciting.

Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do.

Life has a mix of things we want to do and things we don’t want to do.

You get to choose what kind of day you want to have.

Good choices bring positive consequences – things you like.

Poor choices brings negative consequences – things you don’t like.

Respectful means thinking about other people and being polite.

Responsible means remembering what you need to do and doing it.

One respectful minute is not enough to earn privileges.

One responsible minute is not enough to earn privileges.

Being respectful for part of a day is not enough.

Being responsible for part of the day is not enough.

Everyone is treated according to how they act.

If you learn to be a good friend, you’ll have friends.

If you act responsibly all of the time, you’ll be given new privileges.

If you act respectfully all the time, you’ll be given new privileges.

You have to remember to be respectful all the time, not just sometimes.

You have to remember to be responsible all the time, not just sometimes.

You don’t have to know all the answers, just where to find the information.

Kids who get mad get consequences they don’t like.

Kids who are rude get consequences they don’t like.

Kids who remember the rules at home have more fun.

Kids who remember the rules at school have more fun.


Last night, after a great dinner at Ruby Tuesdays, Jeff, AJ and I went to see Ragtime at Wright State. This musical’s construction is so impressive, and the music haunts me throughout the day. I know it will be my fourth, and last time to see it and it still moved me greatly…

The musical begins with the powerful song “Ragtime”, which is uniquely staged. Right from the start of the musical the audience is introduced to the multiple narrators of the show. It begins with three separate groups of people: the upper class whites from New Rochelle, the lower class blacks of Harlem, and the newly arrived immigrants on Ellis Island, all singing the same song simultaneously on stage, yet set apart by class. As the song continues, other key players of the time are introduced such as Harry Houdini the great escape artist, the radical anarchist Emma Goldman, J.P. Morgan the richest man in America, and Evelyn Nesbit the famous chorus girl. Each of these characters has individual beliefs and represents a particular aspect of the time, yet they all play significant roles in the definition of America.

In order to truly understand the era of Ragtime, each separate character adds to the colorful mosaic that makes up the US during this pre-WWI time. The multiple perspectives seen in “Ragtime” can be compared to the writings of John Dos Pasos, in his novels The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money. Like Dos Pasos, Ragtime aims to observe the lives of the ten narrators, and also follow their interactions and influences on each other, no matter how large or small they may be. It is through these multiple points of view that the audience is able to understand the differences in the society that presented so many obstacles for some and a dream life for others. Although each narrator may not directly interact with another character, we can see the individual influence each life has on this society through the song “Till We Reach That Day”.

This song brings all the narrators on stage together to mourn the death of Sarah, a lower class black woman who is the victim of a racial beating. Again, all sing the same song, yet they are not all in the same vicinity. Each of the characters takes their own separate place on stage as they sing of the loss of this woman who has somehow touched their life. Particularly in this scene, we see the aspect of simultaneity put into effect as each character reflects on the same incident, that affects each of them differently. Like Faulkner, the characters attempt to make sense of their own identities in relation to the society around them.

Due to the multiple narrators of the story, there is constant shifting from scene to scene throughout the musical. These scenes do not necessarily follow a particular time sequence, as the story is presented in a fragmented form.

Ragtime presents a panoramic view of life in the United States during the early 1900’s. This show dares to go beyond the sentimental aspects of musical theater and introduces its audiences to a new, experimental, style of performing art. Through its strong music, composed by Stephen Flaherty, and realistic lyrics, written by Lynn Ahrens, this musical captures the hearts of its audiences through the images and sounds that portray the Ragtime era.

When one thinks of a musical, one may associate this term with catchy songs and dances that often have happy endings, yet Ragtime goes beyond entertainment value and instead explains a time in our history. The writers of the musical could have easily fabricated the music, lyrics and story line to make it audience-friendly. By conforming to the normal musical expectations, Ragtime would have been placed in the same group as musicals such as Sound Of Music and Oklahoma, where the audience leaves the theater humming the music with grins on their faces. This musical does not just present the audience with beautiful songs, but also leaves a lasting impression of the events that defined the early 1900’s before World War I, and succeeds in explaining this graphic two hour history lesson while keeping the audience entertained.

The musical Ragtime challenges the norms of musical theater through its vivid portrayals of the realistic life during the early 1900’s. Like Faulkner, this musical attempts to push the limits of coherence, through its fragmented format. Yet, at the same time it stimulates the minds of its audiences by presenting complex problems each character faces, in true to life circumstances. But perhaps the experimental aspects that Flaherty and Ahrens present in the story line, lyrics and music are the most important parallels that Ragtime shares with cubist literature. This musical represents a time when everything was new and anything was possible. A time when experimentation was encouraged and identities were formed. Ragtime can be seen as a separate work of art in itself, which goes beyond the boundaries of a musical play, and instead brings fiction and true history together to recreate life during the turn of the century.

Photos from another production of Ragtime: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.e2groove.com/files/houdinithm.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.e2groove.com/ragtime.html&h=150&w=143&sz=8&tbnid=iDr1DNGMehwJ:&tbnh=90&tbnw=85&hl=en&start=43&prev=/images%3Fq%3DRagtime,%2Bthe%2Bmusical%26start%3D40%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26rls%3DGGLD,GGLD:2003-44,GGLD:en%26sa%3DN

What another wonderful week! Ups, downs, warm weather, busy schedules… ah! It doesn’t get much better!

Jose did not make the basketball team for his middle school, and though he was down that evening when he returned home, his positive and fun-loving spirit had returned by morning. He requested to leave for school early so he could congratulate those who made it. Prior to the try-outs, he and I had discussed the “what if’s” a number of times. So, he proved to be a little trooper. Jose now has his sights set on cross country.

Wednesday evening was the choral boosters meeting. I detest meetings, unless they are production meetings for a show; however, this is an important support group since it is for our children. The grouping of personalities is always a marvel to me. I love observing those who seem to gently grip onto their power and control. In discussing the show choir invitational after the meeting had closed, I was indirectly told that my suggestions or recommendations were fairly out of sync and that I should “go to more contests to observe how they are run” as this parent had done. I was so polite and acknowledged their suggestion as other parents who know my background attempted to keep straight faces.

There was no school Friday and I went to see the new music facilities with Brody so I could assist with the head-up of the big move form the old choral room to the new facilities. I am just blown away by the new performing arts wing – HUGE! The band room I am dubbing Meijer’s West as it is spacious. Afterwards, band directors Mike Berning and Tim Parker sat in the choir room with Brody and I and chewed the fat a bit.

At noon I met Sheila Magnuson to hear the scoop on the actual opening weekend of Sweeney Todd. Wow! Benjamin has really hit a dream. Friday after opening night, Stephen Sondheim invited the cast of ten and the directors to a party at his home (he lives next door to where Katherine Hepburn lived). He spent several hours just chatting with Benjamin and then took him upstairs to his music room. Sondheim invited Benjamin to play his piano, and then afterwards told him it was Leonard Bernstein’s piano. What a dream this boy is living.

Friday evening, Jeff Carter and AJ arrived from Muncie for a wonderful visit. We went to dinner at Ruby Tuesday, then picked up Chris Hetzer who spent the weekend with us while his family traveled to Michigan for family business. After dinner, Jeff, AJ and I went to see Ragtime… ahhh… I still cannot get that show’s design and structure out of my system. We left Wright State and went to Brody’s where he was having a Man Night Party. There were about five other guys there, mostly choir dads, throwing darts and enjoying Brody’s concoctions from his well stocked bar. Jeff and Brody got to chat shop for a bit and seemed to hit it off. Around 1:30am, we headed home.

Saturday morning, I woke at 6:00am and worked a little before showering. Jeff woke and we talked for a while. After showers were completed, the six of us headed to First Watch to have breakfast, and then to Towne & Country so Jeff could buy some things from Trader Joe’s.

After saying goodbye to our dear guests, the three boys and I headed to the National Adoption Month party hosted by ACTION Adoption. We stayed there for about three hours and then returned home so Matt could head to work. My friend, Phil Clary, a choir director from Cincinnati, called en route from a wedding in Bowling Green. He stopped by and stayed until 2:00am.

Sunday, we spent a leisurely morning playing video games, cars, etc. (OK, I worked while the boys played). At 3:00pm we drove a few blocks over to Sheila Magnuson’s to take in her summer furniture and swing, and to do a few items for her since Benjamin can’t seem to find time to leave his Broadway show to assist his mother. Sheila made cookies for the boys (we don’t accept $ for doing neighborly things). After dinner, Bill Hetzer came to pick up Chris, thus ending a weekend of having wonderful people in our home, and in our lives.

Photo of Benjamin Magnuson on Broadway in Sweeney Todd

It is a slightly dreary Sunday morning… the wind was strong all night and continues to blow steady and hard. I took Flyer for a walk wearing shorts and a pullover, and I was very comfortable.

Friday morning, I slept for several hours after taking the BGSU men to the church and waking the boys. I realized that I could definitely keep up with 19 and 20 year olds, but the recovery is hell! Friday was the longest day – by 5:00pm it seemed much like 10:00pm. I took Flyer for a walk at 1:00pm to generate more energy and Brody was home between middle school choir and his last two high school choirs. I brought Marcus home with us and the dogs, rather than play outside in the beautiful weather, decided to curl up next to me while I took another – much needed – nap. The evening was uneventful, but restful.

Saturday, we were out of bed early and I drove Matt over to the high school for the show choir to load the busses and take off for the show choir competition in Columbus, Ohio. Amanda Berlon, the mother of one of my piano students, Zach, picked me up at 12:15pm. Her husband, Scott, was with their youngest son, Caleb, at his soccer game. After that was over, Scott and Caleb picked up Jose so he could spend the day with them. I have grown fond of Scott and Amanda over the past few years. Zach and Matt have been good friend and spend a good deal of time with one another in the choir and show choir, and Jose and Caleb are in the same grade, best buds, and sports nuts. The Berlons and I are very similar in our parenting, our personalities and our sense of humor.

Amanda and I seldom have a quiet moment between us, and I believe we covered – in the 190 minute round trip – everything from cooking to parenting to sports to choir to adoption… The contest was good and both our show choir, Illusion, and our women’s show choir, Mirage, made the cut for the evening finals. Amanda and I cut out for dinner at O’Charley’s and returned for the night finals. Fairmont’s ladies placed 4th and Illusion placed 3rd. Had Olentangy HS not bowed out of finals due to an evening conflict, Mirage would not have made the cut, and Illusion would have been 4th. Teays Valley and ETC, both Ohio show choirs, are absolutely phenomenal. I could watch their shows over and over.

Amanda and I returned a little after 11:00pm, and the busses pulled in after midnight. I picked up Matt and Zach, and drove Zach home. This morning, Sunday, I allowed the boys to sleep in. I took Flyer on our mile walk and tried to call my mother but she and my sister were en route to Northwestern Indiana for the christening of my brother’s son.

Today, Sunday, at 2:00pm we will be in Springfield, Ohio for the memorial service of a lovely lady, Helen Reed, who sang in my church choir and was my music librarian. Helen was a darling lady, and her physical presence will surely be missed at Faith In Christ Lutheran Church.

Then, at 6:00pm, we will head south to Cincinnati to see my friend, Phil Clary, perform in Xavier University’s production, Sweeney Todd. Phil is a choral director in a Cincy School and has been invited back as a guest artist to perform the role of “Pirelli.”

Last Thursday, my former student, Benjamin Magnuson, officially opened as “Anthony” in Sweeney Todd on Broadway. Last Sunday, his mother, Sheila, and I spent the entire day together, seeing Ragtime at WSU and then enjoying the remainder of the evening listening to a master class Benjamin had at CCM with Kristen Chenowith! Ahhh! What a thing to hear! Sheila says that Benjamin and Stephen Sondheim, the famous Broadway composer, have become great friends and Sondheim is commonly referred to as “Steve.” Sheila flew to NYC for the opening preview and this Thursday’s offical opening night and party – so I will have more details once she returns and we connect.

Monday and Wednesday are show choir nights with suppers after 9:00pm. Jose has basketball tryouts and he is feeling the pressure.

Tuesday is my longest day of teaching and then off to catch the second half a concert for one of my students.

Thursday, following a tight schedule of teaching, my co-writers and I are off to catch Ragtime at Wright State.

Friday, the boys do not have school and we may do something fun in the morning. Our dear family friends, Bill & Kay Hetzer will be traveling to Michigan and their son, Chris, will be spending the entire weekend with us so that I can get him to basketball tryouts. At some point, our dear friends Jeff Carter, the BSU Singers director, and his son, AJ, will be coming for a visit. That evening we will be attending Ragtime at WSU.

Saturday afternoon is the National Adoption Month party and I will be taking Matt, Jose and Chris to that event.

I really do not know what the rest of that particular weekend will have in store, but I think it may be set aside as a definite day of rest for this 41 year old!

Ok… time to rally the troops and get life moving here.


Less than an hour ago, I drove my five guests from the Bowling Green State University’s Men’s Chorus across the street to join 130 of their fellow singers on the busses. What great guys these were!

The BGSU Men’s Chorus was, at one time, one of the finest in the nation. It was the era of gang wars and bathtub gin, but the “Roaring Twenties” were fairly quiet on the campus of a young teaching school in northwest Ohio, Bowling Green State Normal College. The quietness was broken in 1923 by the sounds of the first Men’s Glee Club. The chorus began touring Ohio and later sang as far away as Chicago and Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, the group’s first golden age dimmed bit by bit as World War II pulled away the choristers. The once-great group contained only 15 members when it disbanded. The chorus was reunited after the war, and in the late 1940s, the baton passed to Dr. James Paul Kennedy. Under his direction, the chorus survived until 1953.

The sound of men’s voices raised in song vanished from the campus until 1971, when Professor Richard D. (affectionately known as RD) Mathey revived the group. From a membership of 12, the chorus has grown into the active touring chorus it is today, with a membership well above 100. Mathey retired in 2000 after an incredibly successful 28 years at the helm.

My good friend, Brody McDonald, sang with the ensemble all throughout college and is probably the undisputed protege of RD Mathey. I have met this treasured soul several times and it is easy to see just why the chorus was as powerful as it was under his reign.

The men sang at Christ Methodist Church at 7:00pm, and following the concert the men were introduced to their host families. I had always been fortunate to have the best host families when I was at Ball State, and I was determined to be the best for my guests. Immediately there was chemistry between the Haas family and the five comedic tenors who spent the evening with us. After their luggage was piled into the trunk, two rode with me back across the street while Matt and Jose escorted the other three.

They settled quickly, making themselves at home. I don’t think Moses and his people witnessed any swarm of locusts that could empty an entire empire as quickly as these guys did with four pizzas and numerous liters of soda. We listened to several numbers of RD’s BGSU Men’s Chorus CD’s, and spent the rest of the evening laughing and chatting – but mostly laughing. Suddenly, I was no longer 41, but 20 again, and sitting up laughing until… well, the first went to bed at 2:00am. The others, knowing they had a 6:00am bus call, continued to impersonate Bill Cosby, Looney Tunes, Mickey Mouse and a host of other notables. At 3:00am, the last four college guys decided to head to bed.

We were originally told the church would be hosting a breakfast, but learned Thursday night that we should provide something. So, at 3:20am, I took off for Wal-Mart to get some roles, donuts and bagels. I had a ton! At 5:30am, most of it was gone. The boys dressed back in their tuxes following a procession to the shower, and we loaded their luggage, and along with Flyer, piled into the car. At the busses, the current director rushed up to pet Flyer who was thrilled to be around so many people. The boys told their director that they wanted me to adopt all five of them. And, as nice (and funny) as these guys are, Brian Beckwith, Tyler Hawk, Lamont Green, Adam Cramer and Josh Sanders would make great sons!

To learn more about the BGSU Men’s Chorus, please visit their website:
http://www.harmonize.com/bgmc/aboutus/index.html

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