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It’s the last Thursday in the month of February. I cannot believe how quickly this month has charged ahead. It has been an eventful month, and an exciting one as well.

As the three of us sat at Bill’s Donuts on this cold, rainy night, enjoying the best sweet-eats in the Miami Valley, I looked at my sons: Jose looking tired and drawn from three hours of percussion rehearsal, and Quintin, sporting a new haircut, and more confident and open since arriving. Quintin has been with us two months since last Sunday (February 20th). The seamless, smooth transition still continues to amaze me. Jose has been with me seven years, and it is neat to see the young man he has become.

Logan, the 17 year old feline member of the family, is still active, energetic, and quite the personality. Flyer, now 10 years old, is beginning to show her age, perhaps more so due to her increasing blindness; however, her intelligence and sweetness still beams brightly.

Perhaps the puppies were a “God wink.” Maybe they chose me – just as Flyer did ten years ago when the tiny creature at play with her much larger siblings looked up to notice me watching her. Maybe I need these two pups more than they need me. The boys will grow, graduate, and move on into their adult lives; the aging pets will one day begin a different journey; and it will just be Dad. Maybe the pups are meant to be creatures of transition.

Their transition has been much like Quintin’s – except for the potty training. The pups fit in with the family, the home, the students, and seem as though they have been here much longer than four days. The study has become their sanctuary, as has a blanket next to my bed. Navi & Chief have merged in with the flow of our entire day, and seem a part of Team Haas. When the front door opens, the pups now beat Flyer to the area, eager to greet whomever enters. They understand that they are to camp out at the kitchen table when we eat, much like paparazzi waiting on celebrities to appear.

Tomorrow begins a long range of weekend activities. Once I finish teaching tomorrow evening, it is on to:

  • ACTION Adoption Services to be a part of a filming activity for a marketing DVD
  • Accompanying SEUSSICAL (the musical) auditions Saturday morning and afternoon
  • Percussion competition at the Nutter Center (running until 9:30pm)
  • Dinner and bowling with the Lockharts
  • Percussion competition Sunday morning and afternoon
  • and always, more puppy training

And now, to Puppies, Precipitation, Piano, Percussion I shall add: Pillow.

Nighters…

Darin L. Jolliffe-Haas

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Gilbert Michael Carter
Gilbert Michael Carter, 48, Pendleton, passed away Feb. 21, 2011 at his residence after a brief illness.
Gil was born May 29, 1962, to Michael and Ann (Gilman) Carter in Tipton.

Gil graduated in 1980 from Elwood Community High School and later attended Western Michigan University.

He was president of Carter Development Corporation of Elwood.

Gil is survived by his parents, Mike and Ann Carter of Marco Island, Fla.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Kelly (Smith) Carter, who died Dec. 16, 2010 and a brother, Michael C. Carter II, who died Jan. 27, 1989.

Funeral services will be at 10 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 26, 2011 at Dunnichay Funeral Home, with the Rev. Chris Dare of the First United Methodist Church officiating. Entombment will take place in the Elwood City Cemetery.

Friends may call from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday at the funeral home.

Memorials are suggested to the charity of choice.

Darin L. Jolliffe-Haas

In my defense, I had seriously considered heading to SICSA to discuss the prospects of a younger dog to assist Flyer in her new state of blindness. Someone recommended a younger dog might be great medicine for her.

While driving through the Indiana countryside Sunday afternoon, I continued along Highway 1 taking the little jog just before Farmland. The first farm on the right had this hand-lettered sign: “Free puppies.” I slowed down, studying the sign. Quintin looked at me, smiling. I verbally battled myself and drove on, but not fully accelerating.

“Are you going to go back?”

I looked over at Quintin, who by this time was laughing at my indecision.

The car was turned around in the middle of the road.

In the driveway I was greeted by several hound dogs. I was relieved. I am true fan of the hound. I went to the door and was greeted by the farmer who instructed me to go around back where his daughter would show me to the barn. Quintin and I walked with the Monroe-Central freshman to the barn. I explained to Quintin we would just be looking.

About ten minutes later we returned to the car carrying two puppies. When I looked into the room where the puppies were, it was like looking at baby Flyer! We met the mother who is a Springer Spaniel and shaggy dog mix, very gentle and affectionate. There were twelve puppies born in this litter, and only six remained. I told Quintin to pick out a puppy. He selected the chubbier thirteen week-old puppy who showed much energy. I spied the runt of the litter – a shy, passive little thing who looked terrified. Her size, compared to her siblings, was just like Flyer’s sibling litter. I held her for a few minutes and she was all about kisses and snuggling. The farm girl explained the others were mean to her, and she was afraid she would be injured or killed. That was it.

So, here it is, Tuesday morning. There are two freshly bathed puppies sleeping at my feet. Already they understand the study is my place and they rush ahead when I leave another room, assuming I will head to my desk. While mopping the floors this morning, they sat patiently, investigating my every move. Potty training has been a bit difficult due to all the rain, but I am confident the process will be just fine. I am learning how to juggle their entire training process (commands & potty), and already they each have “sit” mastered. Tomorrow, I will begin a new command.

I must admit, they are adorable!

Abraham Lincoln, Born Feb. 12, 1809
by Walt Whitman

To-day, from each and all, a breath of prayer—a pulse of thought,
To memory of Him—to birth of Him.

Abraham Lincoln Walks At Midnight
by Vachel Lindsay

It is portentous, and a thing of state
That here at midnight, in our little town
A mourning figure walks, and will not rest,
Near the old court-house pacing up and down,

Or by his homestead, or in shadowed yards
He lingers where his children used to play,
Or through the market, on the well-worn stones
He stalks until the dawn-stars burn away.

A bronzed, lank man! His suit of ancient black,
A famous high top-hat and plain worn shawl
Make him the quaint great figure that men love,
The prairie-lawyer, master of us all.

He cannot sleep upon his hillside now.
He is among us:— as in times before!
And we who toss and lie awake for long
Breathe deep, and start, to see him pass the door.

His head is bowed. He thinks on men and kings.
Yea, when the sick world cries, how can he sleep?
Too many peasants fight, they know not why,
Too many homesteads in black terror weep.

The sins of all the war-lords burn his heart.
He sees the dreadnaughts scouring every main.
He carries on his shawl-wrapped shoulders now
The bitterness, the folly and the pain.

He cannot rest until a spirit-dawn
Shall come;—the shining hope of Europe free:
The league of sober folk, the Workers’ Earth,
Bringing long peace to Cornland, Alp and Sea.

It breaks his heart that kings must murder still,
That all his hours of travail here for men
Seem yet in vain. And who will bring white peace
That he may sleep upon his hill again?

The People, Yes
by Carl Sandburg

Lincoln?
He was a mystery in smoke and flags
Saying yes to the smoke, yes to the flags,
Yes to the paradoxes of democracy,
Yes to the hopes of government
Of the people by the people for the people,
No to debauchery of the public mind,
No to personal malice nursed and fed,
Yes to the Constitution when a help,
No to the Constitution when a hindrance
Yes to man as a struggler amid illusions,
Each man fated to answer for himself:
Which of the faiths and illusions of mankind
Must I choose for my own sustaining light
To bring me beyond the present wilderness?

Lincoln? Was he a poet?
And did he write verses?

“I have not willingly planted a thorn
in any man’s bosom.”
I shall do nothing through malice: what
I deal with is too vast for malice.”

Death was in the air.
So was birth.

In the spring of 1846 Abraham Lincoln sent some poetry to his friend, Andrew Johnston, and on September 6 enclosed additional stanzas with his letter. At Lincoln’s request, Johnston published portions of the poetry anonymously in the Quincy, Illinois Whig on May 5, 1847.

Lincoln offered Johnston an explanation of the first poem (“My Childhood Home I See Again”). He made Matthew Gentry the subject of Part II, telling Johnston: “He is three years older than I, and when we were boys we went to school together. He was rather a bright lad, and the son of the rich man of our poor neighborhood.

At the age of nineteen he unaccountably became furiously mad, from which condition he gradually settled down into harmless insanity. When, as I told you in my other letter I visited my old home in the fall of 1844, I found him still lingering in this wretched condition. In my poetizing mood I could not forget the impression his case made upon me.”

My Childhood Home I See Again

[I]

My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar–
So memory will hallow all
We’ve known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.

[II]

But here’s an object more of dread
Than ought the grave contains–
A human form with reason fled,
While wretched life remains.

Poor Matthew! Once of genius bright,
A fortune-favored child–
Now locked for aye, in mental night,
A haggard mad-man wild.

Poor Matthew! I have ne’er forgot,
When first, with maddened will,
Yourself you maimed, your father fought,
And mother strove to kill;

When terror spread, and neighbors ran,
Your dange’rous strength to bind;
And soon, a howling crazy man
Your limbs were fast confined.

How then you strove and shrieked aloud,
Your bones and sinews bared;
And fiendish on the gazing crowd,
With burning eye-balls glared–

And begged, and swore, and wept and prayed
With maniac laught[ter?] joined–
How fearful were those signs displayed
By pangs that killed thy mind!

And when at length, tho’ drear and long,
Time smoothed thy fiercer woes,
How plaintively thy mournful song
Upon the still night rose.

I’ve heard it oft, as if I dreamed,
Far distant, sweet, and lone–
The funeral dirge, it ever seemed
Of reason dead and gone.

To drink it’s strains, I’ve stole away,
All stealthily and still,
Ere yet the rising God of day
Had streaked the Eastern hill.

Air held his breath; trees, with the spell,
Seemed sorrowing angels round,
Whose swelling tears in dew-drops fell
Upon the listening ground.

But this is past; and nought remains,
That raised thee o’er the brute.
Thy piercing shrieks, and soothing strains,
Are like, forever mute.

Now fare thee well–more thou the cause,
Than subject now of woe.
All mental pangs, by time’s kind laws,
Hast lost the power to know.

O death! Thou awe-inspiring prince,
That keepst the world in fear;
Why dost thos tear more blest ones hence,
And leave him ling’ring here?

The Bear Hunt

A wild-bear chace, didst never see?
Then hast thou lived in vain.
Thy richest bump of glorious glee,
Lies desert in thy brain.

When first my father settled here,
‘Twas then the frontier line:
The panther’s scream, filled night with fear
And bears preyed on the swine.

But wo for Bruin’s short lived fun,
When rose the squealing cry;
Now man and horse, with dog and gun,
For vengeance, at him fly.

A sound of danger strikes his ear;
He gives the breeze a snuff;
Away he bounds, with little fear,
And seeks the tangled rough.

On press his foes, and reach the ground,
Where’s left his half munched meal;
The dogs, in circles, scent around,
And find his fresh made trail.

With instant cry, away they dash,
And men as fast pursue;
O’er logs they leap, through water splash,
And shout the brisk halloo.

Now to elude the eager pack,
Bear shuns the open ground;
Th[r]ough matted vines, he shapes his track
And runs it, round and round.

The tall fleet cur, with deep-mouthed voice,
Now speeds him, as the wind;
While half-grown pup, and short-legged fice,
Are yelping far behind.

And fresh recruits are dropping in
To join the merry corps:
With yelp and yell,–a mingled din–
The woods are in a roar.

And round, and round the chace now goes,
The world’s alive with fun;
Nick Carter’s horse, his rider throws,
And more, Hill drops his gun.

Now sorely pressed, bear glances back,
And lolls his tired tongue;
When as, to force him from his track,
An ambush on him sprung.

Across the glade he sweeps for flight,
And fully is in view.
The dogs, new-fired, by the sight,
Their cry, and speed, renew.

The foremost ones, now reach his rear,
He turns, they dash away;
And circling now, the wrathful bear,
They have him full at bay.

At top of speed, the horse-men come,
All screaming in a row,
“Whoop! Take him Tiger. Seize him Drum.”
Bang,–bang–the rifles go.

And furious now, the dogs he tears,
And crushes in his ire,
Wheels right and left, and upward rears,
With eyes of burning fire.

But leaden death is at his heart,
Vain all the strength he plies.
And, spouting blood from every part,
He reels, and sinks, and dies.

And now a dinsome clamor rose,
‘Bout who should have his skin;
Who first draws blood, each hunter knows,
This prize must always win.

But who did this, and how to trace
What’s true from what’s a lie,
Like lawyers, in a murder case
They stoutly argufy.

Aforesaid fice, of blustering mood,
Behind, and quite forgot,
Just now emerging from the wood,
Arrives upon the spot.

With grinning teeth, and up-turned hair–
Brim full of spunk and wrath,
He growls, and seizes on dead bear,
And shakes for life and death.

And swells as if his skin would tear,
And growls and shakes again;
And swears, as plain as dog can swear,
That he has won the skin.

Conceited whelp! we laugh at thee–
Nor mind, that now a few
Of pompous, two-legged dogs there be,
Conceited quite as you.

Each day, Jose has 7th period free, so I get to spend time with him each afternoon. It is nice to have this time just to ourselves. Of course, throughout the evening, after he has gotten home from work or percussion ensemble rehearsal, we will have little gab sessions while Quintin practices his band music on guitar.

With Jose in percussion ensemble, I get some one-on-one time with Quintin, and tonight was a great night. After Sophie turned in at 11:00pm, Quintin and I talked for almost 90 minutes. We looked up Fort Defiance, Arizona to see where he was born on the reservation, and he began remembering several things of his childhood. He recalled a town where his “Nally” [grandmother] grew up, and within a few minutes I had located the town which is several hours from Fort Defiance. Then Quintin remembered where he lived a short while in Navajo, New Mexico. We found his old home, the school, and the huge trading post/shopping store.

It is a peculiar thing to call someone your son, yet you have no recollection of his childhood. Yet, Quintin, like Jose, already feels as though he has been my son since birth. Grant it, there are no memories of those typical milestones, but it doesn’t matter. As I once told Jose, “physically, you have not been my son your entire life; however, spiritually, you have always been mine.”

Even Quintin slipped yesterday when he described something he thought I already knew. He caught himself and laughed, “Oh, yeh. I keep forgetting there are some things that happened before you became my dad.”

Two months ago today, February 4th, Jose, Quintin and I were romping along trails through the Petroglyphs, enjoying lunch and shopping in Old Towne Albuquerque, and having a blast at the zoo. Already, two months seems years long passed.

As much as I love time spent with both sons together – sharing jokes and tons of laughter, each of us describing our day, lingering at the dinner table long after our plates have been scraped clean, running errands (and still laughing and cutting up) – I value the time spent individually with Jose and Quintin. I once heard a parent say her life was a balancing act trying to make sure she spent equal amounts of time with her children. I don’t keep track of the amount of time I spend alone with each son. But I do keep track of how time continues to trot forward, often at a pace that is simply not to my liking, constantly reminding me that each moment is precious, sacred, beautiful, and not to be missed.

I learned this from my own mother, and I continue to learn from her as I grow older. I know how dearly she loves spending time with me, and my sons, as well as my brother and his family. It is also obvious how splendid her world is when she has all of us together no matter how limited the time.

These moments as a parent matter more than anything else. If I treasure them so deeply now, I cannot even begin to imagine just how much more wonderful they will be when the boys are all grown with families of their own. One day, I shall sit amidst the laughter and noise of my own enlarged family, treasuring the new moments with my sons and their families.

And, like my grandparents, and Mother, I know I shall begin to treasure those times spent with those who will call me, “Shay” [‘grandfather’ in Navajo], or “Pop.”

Mother always told me, “Figure it out” when I was confronted with a barrier – no matter what the issue. And this I have done for many years. The challenging phrase has always come in handy as a father (especially in the kitchen), a teacher and theatre director.

So today, after traveling to six different places in search of more sidewalk salt I stood in the back of Meijers trying to “figure out” something. I looked at the empty floor crate where bags upon bags of sidewalk salt had been piled quite high Tuesday evening. I stood there looking at the crate – much like many of us do when standing before the opened refrigerator, or cabinets hoping something missing will magically appear before us. As I turned around, I saw some boxes of RainEx next to windshield wiper fluid with the de-icer additive.

Bingo!

For $1.09, I walked out with two huge jugs. Much cheaper than the $5-8 bags that are available. I was not sure how it would work on sidewalks, but I knew it was great for icy windshields.

At home, I got a pressure sprayer from the shed, and within 20 minutes, the front steps were cleared of ice, and a bit of the driveway by the steps.

I figured it out, Mother!

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