You are currently browsing the daily archive for Thursday, July 31, 2008.

Sunday I delivered Jose to Wright State’s campus for marching band camp. He has a neat roommate, a sophomore who just moved her from Vandalia Butler High School. I spent a few minutes chatting with the chaperones – all friends of mine who wish I was there with them.

Monday through Wednesday was busy with teaching, and in the evenings I was tired, and basically did very little. I tried working outside but the mosquittos and other bugs were breaking through the barrier of deep woods spray, a bug zapper, and several citrinella candles… so I retreated indoors.

Wednesday night I talked with Jeff Carter on the telephone for a good hour… tons of catching up for the boys.

I literally did not leave the house all week. Once I returned from Wright State Sunday, I stayed home the rest of the week until I left to pick up Jose tonight.

This week we lost two dear people from my home town… Roger Meisner, a retired police officer who worked with both my grandfather and mother, passed away with cancer. Roger will have a full police ceremony this Saturday morning. Carol Courtney, a secretary at Elwood Community High School also passed away. Carol was a delightful lady, and the “school mom” to thousands of students and for several generations. In fact, I believe she was at the high school when Mother was a student.

Tomorrow will be writing for me, and plenty of rest for Jose who is already pooped. We may go to ACTION but since there is no training, and mine is completed, we may take in a movie.

Saturday and Sunday are not scheduled, and I am looking forward to this break. We are hoping to travel to Destin & Stacia’s the following weekend.

Everyone have a great weekend!

Much love to all…

This evening I journeyed out to Wright State University and met up with the Chabut and Karmele families. We watched the band’s 2008 pre-game show and the first two of four movements of their 2008 competition show which is called CLOUDBURST: The Skies Will Open. The first movement is based on Eric Whitacres’ composition of the same title.

Mike Berning… yes, he is teaches my son….

After the band was dismissed I slowly made my way over to the picnic shelter to wait on the percussion to load the trailer. I was nabbed by about four different groups of parents, and then the director, Mike Berning, stood and talked for a good twenty minutes. The camp was great and he is excited over the show… well, that’s what he reported over the microphone to all the parents. In the shelter, we were discussing more fun things – not work related.

The percussion pit practicing; Jose is in the orange shirt.

While I was waiting on Jose to retrieve his suitcase and laundry basket from his room, I got to chat with the chaperones – all neat people. They all told me how funny, but very polite and sweet my son is… and how happy they were he was no longer with the former girlfriend. They also shared that they were keeping an eye on him to make certain she was not causing any waves.

My kids tooting away…

We went for our traditional Mexican food before heading home and in Pepitos was one of our drum-majors and a former band student whose older brother was one of my favorite students. I was entertained with even more stories from the week.

Jose’s best friend, Michael, who is a regular fixture at the Haasienda.

So, I feel the season is officially off and running, despite two previous weeks of rehearsal prior to camp. In about two weeks, we have our first football game, then Kettering’s huge festival, Holiday At Home over Labor Day, and then all the competitions.

And as we walked through the door, Flyer nearly dashed into Jose’s arms. Even Logan joined in on the fesitive moment and meowed her greetings, followed by a body rub up against Jose’s legs.

For some reason, Mary Todd Lincoln has been resurfacing this past month in a variety of connections. I had begun writing a musical on Miss Todd in 1986, and put it away in the mid-1990’s. And here she is again, beckoning me to finish her story.

This is an op-ed piece from the NY TIMES, written by one of my favorite authors, Samuel A. Schreiner of Darien, Connecticut. Mr. Schreiner wrote a fantastic book, THE TRIALS OF MRS. LINCOLN. I adore this author for being such a great champion of this oft over-looked, vilanized first lady.

Truly, Madly, Deeply

 

PRESIDENTS’ DAY is generally reserved for honoring our presidents. But how about the wives of our presidents? And how about presidential wives who have been unfairly maligned over the years? In this regard, there is no better candidate for rehabilitation this holiday than Mary Todd Lincoln.

For years, authors and scholars have claimed that Mary Lincoln was insane. This is simply not true, and a file of documents found in 1975 in a closet in the Manchester, Vt., home of Mary Lincoln’s son Robert proves it. In 1875, Mary Todd Lincoln was declared insane by a jury, and remanded to an asylum. The charge was brought by Robert, and he must have nursed a guilty conscience about it to keep a file, which reveals that the trial was a sham.

The proceeding was nevertheless an international sensation. Although another, little-noted trial a year later set that verdict aside and declared Mary Lincoln sane, the damage had already been done. A mad Mary Lincoln conveniently validated the tales circulated by her enemies and critics, mostly men, from the time she arrived on the national stage as the vivacious consort of a sorely tried president and on through her years as the neglected widow of a martyr.

Of course, the first lady was an emotional volcano, prone to fiery eruption at sometimes inappropriate moments. An attractive woman with expensive tastes, she could be easy on the eye but hard on the budget. With a well-stocked mind and the nerve to speak it, she persuaded her husband to follow her advice in matters like coveted appointments, and this infuriated the men around the president.

Out of fear of or respect for Abraham Lincoln’s power, comment on his wife was muted until the assassin’s bullet removed him from office and Mary Lincoln became fair game for the gossip mongers, who claimed that Lincoln’s bouts of depression were caused by a lost love and a miserable life with a crazy woman.

Creator of the miserable marriage myth was Lincoln’s longtime law partner in Springfield, Ill., William Herndon. In a lecture he gave shortly after the president’s death, Herndon said that Lincoln had never loved his wife because his heart belonged to Ann Rutledge, a neighbor who died at the age of 22 and whom some historians believe was courted by Lincoln. To claim, however, that her death would have rendered a man of Lincoln’s will and intelligence unable to have a loving relationship with another person is absurd. The untimely loss of loved ones was such a common fact of life in the 1800’s that people simply had to learn how to cope with it to carry on.

In any event, Herndon is not a believable witness to what went on between the Lincolns. Because he was too fond of the bottle and, in Mary Lincoln’s view, too uncouth, he wasn’t welcome in the Lincoln household. As a result, he developed an abiding hatred and jealousy of Lincoln’s wife.

Herndon was also probably put off by what he undoubtedly regarded as the unmanly ways by which Lincoln helped his wife. Lincoln was known to have greeted callers still wearing an apron, and he was often seen shepherding a trio of rambunctious young sons through the streets to his office to give his wife respite. Herndon found Lincoln’s office visits with children in tow especially annoying. Lincoln let them get into everything, as he evidently did at home, and even Herndon would agree that the Lincoln marriage was compatible in one respect: neither husband nor wife believed in disciplining their children.

People who were intimate with the Lincolns did not buy the Rutledge story or the rest of Herndon’s charges. Emily Todd Helm, Mary Lincoln’s half-sister, who lived for months in the couple’s Springfield home while she was a teenager, considered them love birds. She reported that Mary Lincoln would run out to the street to greet her husband as he returned home, and they would enter the house hand-in-hand. Their differences in temperament — she, for instance, was punctual and he careless of time — could lead to clashes, but Helm was impressed by the way they were resolved. Once when Mary Lincoln let loose her anger at her husband’s arriving late for supper, he simply scooped her up in his arms and kissed her.

A frequent guest in the Lincolns’ Springfield house was the Rev. James Smith, Mary Lincoln’s Presbyterian pastor. Although Lincoln was not a churchgoer, he and the minister would spend hours by the fireside discussing religion and everything else under the sun.

When Lincoln went to Washington, Smith was appointed to a consulate in Scotland where he read in a newspaper an account of Herndon’s Rutledge lecture. Incensed, he wrote an open letter to Herndon that was published in The Dundee Advertiser. Reprinted in this newspaper and The Chicago Tribune, the letter made the point that a law office was not a good vantage point from which to judge a man’s home life. Declaring himself fortunate enough to have known the Lincolns well, Smith wrote that the president was a “faithful, loving and affectionate husband” who “was utterly incapable of withholding” love from his wife.

Mary Lincoln’s enemies may have discounted Smith’s testimony on the grounds that he was paying off a debt or piously upholding the sanctity of marriage. They would have a harder time shrugging off an address by Charles Sumner, the worldly and sophisticated senator from Massachusetts, during a debate in Congress about Mary’s pension. After establishing himself as well acquainted with the couple’s home life in the White House, Sumner said, “Surely, the honorable members of the Senate must be weary of casting mud on the garments of the wife of Lincoln.” The president “had all her love,” he continued, and Lincoln loved her “as only his mighty heart could.”

Unquestionably high-strung, Mary Lincoln was under a great deal of stress while she was living in the White House, especially when her son Willie died in 1862. After so many other stresses — the death of another son, Eddie, 12 years earlier; attacks on her extravagance; doubts of her loyalty because she had relatives fighting for the Confederacy — Willie’s death was almost more than she could take. According to people who question her sanity, she wailed so hard and so long that Lincoln led her over to a window, pointed out an insane asylum in the distance and threatened to take her there if she didn’t stop.

The story is probably true and totally in character for Lincoln, who often tried to tease or startle his wife out of her funks. That it did no damage to the marriage was attested by a couple who took a carriage ride with the Lincolns on April 14, 1865, just hours before their fatal visit to Ford’s Theater. The war over, the president and the first lady were talking as happily as newlyweds of plans like trips together to Paris for her and to California for him.

Lincoln’s patience with his wife was apparently reciprocated by her patience with him when he slipped away from her into one of his periods of melancholy or preoccupation with affairs of state. Lincoln suffered recurring episodes of what would now be called depression from early childhood onward. In light of what we know today, an effort to link them to emotional disappointments rather than to a chemical imbalance seems quaint rather than scientific.

Mary Lincoln may have been difficult to live with, but she was not insane and there’s no question that the president loved her dearly. “My wife was as handsome as when she was a girl,” Lincoln once told a reporter. “And I, poor nobody then, fell in love with her, and what is more, have never fallen out.”

This Presidents’ Day, let’s finally acknowledge that truth.

Mouse Trap

Late one Saturday night I heard a pair of footsteps bounding up the basement stairs. I looked up at the clock and figured a commercial had propelled them from the depths of TV Land.

“Dad,” my sons cried. “There’s a mouse downstairs… it crawled down the wall.”

My stomach sprang upward, lodging in my throat. One of my worst fears as an adult had been realized – a mouse had invaded my home. All throughout my childhood I heard others speak of these unwelcome visitors, but had never before experienced one personally. My mother had caught a mouse the previous year and still during our weekend visits my eyes con-stantly scan the baseboards.

Within forty-five minutes I had returned from Wal-Mart with an arsenal that rivaled Wyle E. Coyotes’ ACME collection. The boys busily set around little cardboard box traps and plugged in the pest repellent gadgets. They had pinned him behind my row of file cabinets and were doing everything in their teenage power to capture the little critter. Our dog, Flyer, was busy putting her Labrador pedigree to use and sniffing him out. The fury little creature did escape and ran to the other side of the room. Of course, Logan, our cat, and I, perched halfway up the stairs, observed him running as the trio shifted, sniffed and banged on file cabinets. Logan, a true hunter, seemed resigned to allow the others to do the footwork.

I pointed out the creature’s destination and the trio moved with lightening speed. My thirteen year old stopped and asked, “Father, why aren’t you down here chasing the mouse?”

How could I explain the truth to this young boy who looked up to me for strength, courage and guidance? Guidance! That was exactly what he needed!

“Well, any competent military man will tell you that you need a reconnaissance man to watch the movements of the enemy in order to guide the others.”

He bought it! The chase continued.

Sunday. All quiet on the basement front. No sign of the creature except for the cardboard traps through which he had chewed to free himself. Once more, with the conviction of Elmer Fudd, I hurried to Wal-Mart to purchase the old fashion mousetraps. My eldest son set three around the basement enticing the little fellow with peanut butter.

Sunday night. Traps still empty.

Monday morning. I moved aside the blockade and opened the basement door to let the cat hurry down to her litter box. She did not return within a few minutes. I woke my eldest soldier up earlier than his 6:30am wake-up call and sent him downstairs. I followed at a safe dis-tance. There sat Logan guarding the trap with the little critter caught by the leg and tail, and very much alive. Logan smacked it into stillness and looked up at us for approval and applause. My son picked up the trap and smiled at the little fellow as he took him outside.

Operation Critter was accomplished. I now rank myself with the likes of generals Grant, Marshall, and Eisenhower as an expert military strategist.

Ready, Set, Hike

Inside the veterinary office, Flyer, my new puppy, quickly sensed we were on a different mission and began a tug-o-war session. I greeted the receptionist with our names.

“You said her name is ‘Flyer?’ Did you go to the University of Dayton?” the receptionist inquired.

“I got her as I was beginning to write my musical on the Wright Brothers. She didn’t look like Orville and had too much hair to be called Wilbur.” I joked, lamely.

The receptionist chuckled. “Oh, aren’t you the guy who brought your cat in for…”

“Yes.” I politely interrupted. “I am that guy.”

In the examining room the new vet on the staff introduced himself. “Say, are you the guy who brought his cat in…?” I nodded. “What a great story! How embarrassing.” With that he turned his attention to Flyer.

Little did he know that I was so accustomed to these episodes in my life that I seldom, if ever, got embarrassed, especially after that one summer morning when my six- month old cat woke me with an incredible screech. I hurdled myself over sheets and bounded into the hall to find her half-crawling down the hallway, dragging her backside and crying out in agony. I threw on my clothes and a ball cap, and carefully wrapped her up in a bath towel. The entire time in the car, I held her snuggly in the towel, trying to comfort her from what ever had fallen and crushed her backside.

Fortunately the veterinary office was open to accept pets scheduled for surgery. I ran inside, carefully arranging Logan on the front counter.

“Something fell and crushed her back legs.”

The two sympathetic attendants began examining Logan as I filled out an appointment card. Within seconds Logan began her shrill, excruciating cry and the awkward crawl.

“I’m sorry, but there is not much we can do for her at the moment.”
The tears started down my cheek. In two months I had become so attached to this darling little tabby who, despite warnings from friends that a cat would never walk on a leash, go for bike rides in my back pack, ride in the car or learn the standard tricks of a dog. Logan could do it all, and more. I got her eight years before I adopted my first son and she was my first real living thing for which I was responsible. And now I had failed to protect her… Logan was dying. I wiped away my tears and asked the vet’s assistant what our next step should be. Put her down?

“Oh, no!” Both ladies burst into awkward laughter. How rude and insensitive! Realizing I did not grasp the moment, she placed her hand on my arm. “Logan’s in heat.”

I managed a smile, gathered up my furry daughter and walked out of the office with all the dignity I could muster.

“Well, Flyer is a healthy, sweet little thing,” said the vet as he played with Flyer, “and what a personality. Do you have any questions before I give her the first set of puppy shots?”

“Hmmm… well, the only thing that really concerns me is that when she urinates she doesn’t hike her leg.”

I saw the doctor’s lower teeth slowly rise to grab hold of his upper lip as his body began shaking. Without looking at me he playfully told Flyer, “Your daddy needs to learn about girls.”

Motivational Quotes

Experience aboard a tall ship inspires a vision that transcends into motivation that has the power to overcome ALL barriers.

People who have a vision control their destiny and lifestyle. For people without a vision, their destiny and lifestyle is controlled by others.

Today’s teenagers are being academically stuffed while being motivationally starved.

Priorities
There are three priorities, CHEAP, QUICK and GOOD. You can have any two.
A good job quick — won’t be cheap.
A quick job cheap — won’t be good.
A good job cheap — won’t be quick.
Note: A single priority increases efficiency. At the other end, if all three elements have equal priority the results are reversed, low quality, high cost, and difficult to finish. This is the result of rotating priorities, which means, no one knows what the goal is. Priority of the moment depends on current mood.

What is Your Leadership Style?
High Efficiency
Do it.
Do it then tell me what you did.
Tell me what you are going to do and do it.
Tell me what you want to do and wait for a decision.
Don’t do anything without my approval.
Don’t do anything until I tell you.
Low Efficiency

“Leadership is constantly changing, and survivors learn to change with it.”

“Yesterday, natural resources defined power. Today, knowledge is power. Yesterday, leaders commanded and controlled. Today, leaders empower and coach. Yesterday, leaders were warriors. Today, they are facilitators. Yesterday, managers directed. Today, managers delegate. Yesterday, supervisors flourished. Today, supervisors vanish.” — Dr. Denis Waitley, The Toastmaster, December 2000.

Seven Rules of Motivation
#1 Set a major goal, but follow a path. The path has mini goals that go in many directions. When you learn to succeed at mini goals, you will be motivated to challenge grand goals.
#2 Finish what you start. A half finished project is of no use to anyone. Quitting is a habit. Develop the habit of finishing self-motivated projects.
#3 Socialize with others of similar interest. Mutual support is motivating. We will develop the attitudes of our five best friends. If they are losers, we will be a looser. If they are winners, we will be a winner. To be a cowboy we must associate with cowboys.
#4 Learn how to learn. Dependency on others for knowledge is a slow, time consuming processes. Man has the ability to learn without instructors. In fact, when we learn the art of self-education we will find, if not create, opportunity to find success beyond our wildest dreams.
#5 Harmonize natural talent with interest that motivates. Natural talent creates motivation, motivation creates persistence and persistence gets the job done.
#6 Increase knowledge of subjects that inspires. The more we know about a subject, the more we want to learn about it. A self-propelled upward spiral develops.
#7 Take risk. Failure and bouncing back are elements of motivation. Failure is a learning tool. No one has ever succeeded at anything worthwhile without a string of failures.

You Sexy Thang…

When Matthew first arrived in 2002 as a little scrawny 12 yo boy, I helped him unpack his clothes from foster care, most of which were faded or dingy, and put them away. Between my mother, Aunt Dena and myself, we had the boy “stylin” within a few weeks. A year or so later, Matthew experienced a tremendous growth burst and grew five inches… and he continued to grow.

Late into 2003, after nearly 18 months of living with me, I noticed he had a peculiar stride when he walked. I checked his shoes and they were fine. I asked if he had any injuries… none. Hmmm…. Dad was baffled. We put on our coats and I took him out front and had him walk up and down the side walk so I could observe him. He continued to walk the same way. I asked him to stand up straight so I could check to see if he had one leg shorter than the other. They matched. Finally, it ocurred to me to ask him why he was walking funny.

“My underwear is tight.”

“Well, throw those away and put on another pair.”

“All my underwear is tight.”

“Why is all your underwear tight?”

“Because they are the same ones I brought from Texas.”

The underwear he had was size 12 in boys. The way boys’ clothing is sized is still a profound mystery to me, and thank God for cell phones in the middle of Wal-Mart so I could call my sister when shopping! Matt, of course, was no longer a size 12 but a size 28! Ugh! I have resigned my self to the fact that I have probably destroyed any chance of my eldest son fathering children.

When Jose arrived I immediately asked him what size underwear he wore. Clueless. At least he knew he was wearing underwear. I checked and he was a 12. He had five pair and indicated that his foster mother kept a bunch because she felt as though she had purchased enough with her own money (no comment from me at this time!).

Today, I began a new exercise program of “walk-run-walk-run.” I decided it would be best to begin with just the power walk as our block is the size of approximately 6 large city blocks together since it contains the entire high school campus (with soccer stadium, baseball field, about 8-10 practice fields, the new basketball and fitness arena, tennis courts… you name it!) the library, several major businesses and probably 30 homes bordering the block. It is a wonderful neighborhood!

I started out on Shroyer and moved pas the high school and turned on to Lincoln Park Boulevard, past Brody’s house. His new bride was not working at home so I continued to clip along without taking a break to chat with her. Finally, down the hill to Far Hills Avenue, also known as Main Street in various parts of town, and State Route 48. As I rounded the corner I noticed my shins were beginning to get that sharp ache… no problem – 15 minnutes and half way home. Then, in front of the library I became even more uncomfortable. My white briefs had ridden up and pulled along with them my red, fake silk running shorts. I was in just as much agony from the undies in a wad as I was from the aching shins. Naturally, it was impossible to make any adjustments as I was walking on the busiest road in all Dayton!

My stride slowed and my walk must have appeared humorous, if not pathetic. Of course, the music that began on the CD was… “You Sexy Thang”! Oh yeah, Baby! I know I was the essence of sexiness on Far Hills Avenue, looking as though I was imitating Tim Conway in an old Carol Burnette Show skit!

“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

 

 

There is an undercurrent of energy thrumming through the Universe. Like the wind or a whisper, we can sometimes hear it and often feel it. Most of the time, we sense this energy unconsciously without any tangible proof it is really there. Thoughts, emotions, and the life force in all living things are forms of this kind of energy. So are creativity, growth, and change. The impressions, images, and vague premonitions we get about people and situations are other examples of formless energy. When you enter a space and feel an “intangible tension” in the air that gives you a sense of foreboding in your gut, what you are likely experiencing is energy.
 
Energy cannot be destroyed, but it can be transformed or transferred from one person, thing, or source to another. Though energy is formless, it does take form and shape in the way it flows and resides within all things: a grain of sand, a bird, a stone, and an ocean wave. Living things radiate complex vibrations while nonliving things’ vibrations are simpler. Energy is a magnifier that can attract like energies while repelling disparate ones. Many of our reactions to people and circumstances are based on unconscious reactions to their energies. We may even intuitively tune into the energy of a situation we are facing when making a decision about how to proceed. With careful practice and meditation, we can learn to sense the energy within other living things and ourselves. We can also become more attuned to how we are impacted by different kinds of energy. For instance, being around too many energies can leave one person feeling edgy or excited, while another person will feel tired and drained.
 
While some people feel that energy can be controlled, others see it is as the unknowable force that moves through all things. The combined energy in all things plays a hand in birth, death, growth, movement, and stillness. Practitioners of Aikido believe that all living beings share a common energy source that is our life force. Whatever your beliefs, it is worthwhile to explore the roles energy plays in your life so you can understand it more fully.

 

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