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I was at Rousch Stadium by 7:50am, Saturday morning to volunteer for the Bands of America marching band competition where Kettering would be the host site.  I was in the director’s check-in tent from 8:00am-2:30pm, and then seated in the stadium for the final’s competition to monitor the directors’ viewing section beneath the press box.  It was nice because I got to watch the show in the nice seats.

It was a long day, but always fun.  I got to chat some with band parents I’ve known, and then, meet some new band parents – or those with whom I am friends on Facebook.

The Miami Valley was strongly represented by bands throughout the day: Alter High School from Kettering, Bellbrook High School, Centerville High School, Kettering Fairmont High School, Miamisburg High School, and Northmont High School from Englewood.  All the Miami Valley bands, with the exception of Alter, were finalists in the evening competition.

Miamisburg was fairly strong when I first arrived in Dayton in 1990, but sadly began losing its punch.  The past five years there has been a remarkable, and steady growth, and now this band of blue and white is back in the game, and will certainly be known as a strong contender, and powerhouse!  I am excited for them!  I was proud of Fairmont, and Centerville, who took the grand prize, however, Miamisburg and Bellbrook really stood out!  Bellbrook’s, “The Best Seat In The House” theme, with the entire band and guard incorporating chairs into the show’s concept, and design, was brilliant, entertaining, and as I always expect from Bellbrook, amazingly crisp and clean.  The first time I remember seeing Bellbrook’s marching band was around 1993 when they competed at the Westerville, Ohio competition.  Their theme was based on the motion picture, JFK, and to this day, the opening moments of their competitively, and highly artistic presentation gives me chills.

It was a great night of marching band in Kettering, Ohio, and The Miami Valley certainly deserves a Gold Star!

The evening’s results:

10th: Marvin Ridge – North Carolina
9th: Miamisburg Ohio
8th: Northmont, Ohio
7th: Bellbrook Ohio
6th: Fenton, Missouri
5th: Kettering, Ohio
4th: Dublin, Ohio
3rd: Paul Laurence Dunbar – Lexington, Kentucky
2nd: Bourbon County, Kentucky
1st: Centerville, Ohio

General Effect: Bourbon Co. Paris, Kentucky
Visual: Paul Laurence Dunbar – Kentucky
Music: Centerville, Ohio
Grand Champion: Centerville, Ohio

Here are some photos from the evening:

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Kettering Fairmont High School’s show, “Water Works”

This is a montage of the awards ceremony, beginning with all the bands returning to the field, en masse, and then, at the end, being told to “greet one another.”  It is one of my favorite sites – to see a thousand-plus young musicians/performers homogenize!

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September 29,2012
at Carillon Historical Park

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Smithsonian Museum Day
September 29,2012
at Carillon Historical Park

On Saturday September 29, 2012, Carillon Historical Park,
along with over 1,400 other venues, are participating in the
eighth annual Museum Day Live!

This immensely successful program, in which Carillon Historical Park will emulate the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities, encourages learning and the spread of knowledge nationwide. Carillon Historical Park will grant free access to visitors who download a Museum Day Live! ticket at Smithsonian.com.

Visitors who present the Museum Day Live! ticket will gain free entrance for two at participating venues for one day only.

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1. Go to http://www.smithsonianmag.com/museumday/ticket/
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3. Check your email for your Museum Day Live! ticket
4. Download and print your Museum Day Live! ticket
5. Come to Carillon Historical Park on September 29 and present your ticket and receive free admission for you and one guest.
(One ticket is permitted per household, per email address)

For more information about Museum Day Live! 2012 and a list
of participating museums and cultural institutions,
please visit Smithsonian.com/museumday
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My dear friend, Jeffrey Carter, posted a quote from his niece on his Facebook status:

“Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me, let me be singing when the evening comes.”

I took several favorite photos and applied this text.

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The flowers and plants are in their seasonal transition.

The impatiens that were planted Mother’s Day weekend are now on their final journey.  They held up remarkably well through this summer’s drought, and are now beginning to lose their fullness as the cooler weather creeps in.

The mums are filling out nicely, and the transfer from bright reds, pinks, salmon and white to burgundy and yellow has been in progress for several weeks.  I hate to see the impatiens depart as they are my favorites.

Next Spring and Summer, I look forward to planting more impatiens, and enjoying my hostas, and Mary Todd daylilies that were remarkable for a first season’s planting.

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Many years ago, I learned this was a favorite of Mr. Joshua Logan, and it has become my favorite each September.  SEPTEMBER SONG, composed by  Kurt Weill, with lyric by Maxwell Anderson, was introduced in 1938 in the Broadway musical, KNICKERBOCKER’S HOLIDAY, directed by Mr. Logan.  The past several years I’ve become quite fond of Willie Nelson’s version and tend to listen to this the most.

Each September 1st, I listen to a recording of this song, and reflect on the past year as my birthday month begins.  This past year was one filled with tremendous joys, incredible advancements, some difficult but vital choices, and sadly, some deaths of incredible folks who had an impact on my life.

It is the end of September.  The days of this past wonderful Spring and Summer are now filed away in photo albums, and memory.

And the days dwindle down…

SEPTEMBER SONG

Lyrics by Maxwell Anderson

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time for the waiting game

Oh, the days dwindle down to a precious few
September, November
And these few precious days I’ll spend with you
These precious days I’ll spend with you

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I was unbelievably blessed this week with many greetings, cards, and gifts.  Two of my middle school students tallied the Facebook greetings on my time line and counted 791 deliveries.  My cell phone, which only contains 102 contacts boasted 517 texts with birthday greetings.  Sadly, some did not identify themselves and I did not recognize phone numbers.  Still this morning, the gifts and cards continue to float in.

I am humbled, grateful, and feel deeply blessed.  Here is the greeting I posted on Facebook:

At 6:03pm this evening, the exact time of my birth 48 years ago, I will officially commence my 49th year.  At 6:03pm, Mother will call, as she has every year since I left for college in 1983, to make it official.

Mother and I are the only remaining cast members from the premiere in September 1964.  My grandparents, great-grandparents, my birth father, the doctor, my uncles have all exited the stage following their bows.

For several days Mother had felt contractions, but knew it was not time.  In fact, she insisted on waiting until midnight before heading to the hospital.  Dr. Ulrey was hoping I would arrive on his birthday, September 24th – but that passed.  As midnight approached, Mother took a bath, while Grandma Donna sat in the kitchen timing each contraction.  When Mother was ready to go to the hospital, they woke my father to have him ready the car.  In his youthful nervousness, he drove the car up to the back porch!  Mother laughingly told him that she could walk the five blocks to the hospital.

Through the remainder of the night, and all Friday the 25th, the contracting-play continued without an intermission.  The new lead actor failed to report to the stage despite the anticipation from those assembled for the debut.

At 6:03pm, Friday evening, September 25th, 1964, I arrived.  I don’t recall the debut, and like Gracie Allen mused about her own birth, I was so surprised I didn’t talk for nearly nine months.

Forty-eight years have passed all too quickly.  Much has been packed into these 48 years, and despite the less happier moments, the brilliant moments always rise to the top to be counted as my many blessings.  No longer are my grandparents, and uncles here to celebrate with me, but their collective light shines around me always.

My mother, sons, brother, sister-in-law, nephews and niece are the center of my life, as are Aunt Jenny, several great uncles & aunts, and many, many cousins who have always enriched my life through the years.  And of course, my life has been, and will always be be blessed with my teachers and professors, dear personal and family friends, and countless students (past and present) and their families.

It has been a wonderful life, and I am truly grateful for these past 48 years.

Thank you…

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“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.”

Theatre professor, Debra Bruch, in her chapter, “The Experience of Theatre” from the essay A Guide to Studying the Relationship Between Engineering and Theatre, explains

“From the very beginning of civilization, the theatre has helped us discover and understand ourselves and our relationship with our world, with others, and with God (or the gods.) As such, it is and always has been an affirming force in the world. As Ludwig Lewisohn (1882-1955) stated, “In all ages the drama, through its portrayal of the acting and suffering spirit of man, has been more closely allied than any other art to his deeper thoughts concerning his nature and destiny.” Unlike any other art, the total, intense focus of theatre is on the human being, his or her existence, and his or her relationship with life. It is a part of human nature to need to examine who we are in relationship with where we are. Consequently, basic elements of theatre and drama exist in every society.”

One thing I’ve not been able to escape these past several years is coasting.  Working from home and not doing as much theatre, as I did prior to raising my sons, has taken a toll on the soul at times.  Theatre has always been that regular injection that awakens, and continually drives my soul.  Yesterday was one of those days where I marveled at life, and being alive.  I rejoiced in the fact that, once again, I felt awakened within.

My dear friend, Suzanne Grote, and I decided to swing out to Wright State University to see THE MIRACLE WORKER at 2:00pm.  When we arrived at the box office we were told all seats were sold; however, if we wanted to wait a few minutes there would probably be some available seats, but probably not together.  Within a few minutes, the box office manager was waving us over, and presented us with two front row seats in the balcony, assuring us the view would be superb to take in the entire two story set.

For the next two and a half hours I was transported far beyond the marvelous story of Helen Keller, and her indomitable teacher, Annie Sullivan.  Within fifteen minutes I was no longer in a theatre on a college campus on the outskirts of Dayton, Ohio.  Before long, I was not even in Tuscumbia, Alabama in the Keller home.

The journey I experienced at Wright State was a kaleidoscope of

  • wanting to cheer
  • wanting to cry (Ok, I did at the end, and several times on my return home)
  • wanting to shake people
  • wanting to yell down my encouragement
  • wanting to butt heads together
  • wanting to hug individuals
  • wanting to pitch in during the dining room’s wrestling scene
  • understanding a parent’s gripping fear and desire to protect their child
  • feeling the heartache of not being able to fix your child
  • recognizing the frustrations of not being able to communicate as a parent
  • connecting to a fellow teacher’s joys, fears, frustrations, exhilaration
  • running into barriers that seem insurmountable
  • desiring that inner courage to knock down any and all barriers
  • feeling trapped and emotionally imprisoned
  • wondering if others truly understand or hear what I am saying
  • knowing there are times when I do not hear or see
  • knowing there are times when I feel dead inside
  • knowing that sometimes my world is dark
  • always wanting a little more time

When the cast came out for bows, I was overwhelmed with emotion in every corner of my world.  I wanted to hug each person down on the stage, not simply applaud them.  These young, fine actors, technicians, technical artists and designers, and director, Lee Merrill, surpassed anything I’ve ever experienced as an audience member in a theatre production.  They proved everything Debra Bruch stated above:

  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my self
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with my world
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with others
  • they helped me to rediscover and understand my relationship with The Great Spirit

As Act II commenced I realized that my spiritual veins were unclogging.  The deafness that dampened the music of my soul was lifting.  The blindness that had kept me from truly seeing the world around me, and my place in it, was fading.  My desire to forever let my spirit sing had returned.

At 48, I think I fully understand my mentor’s passion for theatre, and for living.  Mr. Joshua Logan seemed to radiate joy, and when he was in discussion about theatre, he was almost angelic in his complete transformation.  His sparkling eyes seemed to peer beyond the present into a euphoric world that is nothing short of magical.

One thing that Mr. Logan insisted upon was that in order for a play/musical to truly succeed the protagonist(s) must change before the audience’s eyes – not from behind the curtain.  In order for the audience to feel a deeper connection to the protagonist’s journey, it must grow with the protagonist throughout the production.

Sunday afternoon, I, as an audience member, changed right along with each character in Mr. Gibson’s play.  I feel as though I accomplished each change experienced by each character.

Upon our return from dinner, I spent most of my evening re-reading the Helen Keller and Annie Sullivan stories on line.  I researched the Keller family, their Alabama home named Ivy Green, Annie Sullivan, and everything associated with this magnificent story.  But all the further obtained knowledge could not even begin to compete with what had awakened me earlier.

The moment at the water pump/well.

Thank you, Wright State University Theatre Department, for guiding me to the return of my own life’s water pump/well.

The original water pump at the Keller home in Alabama.

The original water pump at the Keller home in Alabama.

 

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This Saturday morning had a nice little twist to it.  We were up, showered, dressed, and out of the house by 9:45am, and eating breakfast at Panera in downtown Centerville where we were joined by Amy Kress, and her youngest daughter, Sarah, 6.  We moved next door to Town Hall Theatre to watch an 11:00am production of Disney’s adorable stage musical, LITTLE MERMAID, starring my piano student, Katie Kress, as Scuttle.  Katie was hilarious, cute, and did an amazing job with her terribly wordy patter song, “Human Stuff.”  Many other stage performers around could learn a thing or two about perfect diction from this 10 year old!  She rocked her consonants!

Quintin and I did the meet and greet following the show, and then hurried to the newly opened Mernards on OH-741, South of the Dayton Mall  where the original Walmart once stood.  It was incredible, but horribly crowded.  We loaded up on a few things and checked out.

At 2:00pm I attended a funeral of a student’s grandmother.  I will probably have two more this week: the grandfather of a student, and the mother of a former student who has been moved to Hospice.

I managed a quick nap upon my return home, and then we were out the door again.  We grabbed dinner at China Buffet, a shower curtain from Big Lots, and then purchased movie tickets at The Greene for FINDING NEMO in 3D.

With time to kill before the movie, we ventured over to Books & Company.  I quickly found a book on President Lincoln, LOOKING FOR LINCOLN: THE MAKING OF AN AMERICAN ICON.  Despite finding two errors in the book within five minutes, I still decided to purchase the photo-filled book.

FINDING NEMO was a delight!  Quintin and I laughed, and laughed a lot.  We marveled at the beauty of the 3-D effects, and were caught up in the journey of a father searching for his son.  Very neat.

The movie was followed with some ice cream at Cold Stone Creamery.

This day was absolutely perfect!  Quintin and I laughed so hard throughout the day, and by dinner our conversation incorporated our Russian accents.  There were times when we were both doubled over with laughter, and tears filling our eyes.  This reminded me of when I was 17, and all the fun times I had, and still have, with my own mother, and my grandparents.  Humor, and even plain silliness is a great form of glue!

It was a swimmingly good day!

Quinny checking out the new Justin Bieber calendar.

 

Quinny sporting his new hat from Menards.

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Now that the trailer for Spielberg’s LINCOLN has been released, a civil war has broken in the ranks of many Lincoln devotees.  Two Facebook groups to which I belong have already begun snipping away at the barely three second snippet of Sally Field portraying the embattled, oft wrongly accused and misunderstood first lady, Mary Todd Lincoln.

Immediately, the self-proclaimed critics were saying “Sally Field is too old” or “Sally Field is too thin” or adding other criticisms that are quite far-fetched.

How many actors or actresses are ever the exact same age as the stage, or screen character they portray?  And, is this really all that important?

When you compare Mary Todd Lincoln’s White House daguerreotypes to the youthful looking Sally Field’s photos, they do seem to balance out.  Mrs. Lincoln, by our contemporary standards, looks much older than her early to mid-forties White House years.  In the photograph of the 64 year old actress portraying Mrs. Lincoln, their 20 year separation in ages does seem to be a piddly thing about which to gripe.

If we shall be this picky, and critical, every actress portraying Mrs. Lincoln should always have the same waist size, stand the exact same height, have blue eyes, etc..

I also believe that Ms. Field’s work cannot be based on a very tiny clip from the trailer.  That is just a bit sophomoric.

Why not wait for the movie’s release?

Why not go see the movie in November and then cast all the stones you wish?

Once you have seen the movie, then those with a corseted waistline and same height as Mrs. Lincoln can cast all the individually wrapped Dolley Madison snack cakes they wish.  But, before you do, ask your self – “Was Ms. Field’s portrayal honest to the accounts written about Mrs. Lincoln?”  (But remember, the choices for Mrs. Lincoln’s portrayal could also be a combination of the director’s image.)

Mary Tyler Moore & Sam Waterston as The Lincolns

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Saturday at Noon, Quintin was already over at the high school for marching band practice.  I took the time to complete some errands around the house, and yard, and then headed North to Tipp City for the first marching band competition of this season.

Aaron Jacobs met me at the contest, and we got to enjoy several competing bands in Fairmont’s class.  Fairmont took the field with this year’s show, “Waterworks.”  The results for Fairmont’s marching band were:

1st place in Class AA

Overall General Effect

Overall Visual

Overall Music

Grand Champion

Qualification for OMEA State Finals

The cool air of the night had lulled me to sleep quite easily, and I slept soundly.  Sunday morning, and early afternoon, was relaxing, and quiet.

At 3:30pm we were seated next to Debbie McCutcheon under the ‘welcome tent’ for GuitarFest 2012.  What an incredible collection of some of the most outstanding guitarists from the Miami Valley, and beyond.  Quintin was in heaven.  In fact, he wanted to stay when I had to leave at 7:00pm so I could return home to teach a lesson.  He stayed, and Debbie took him to Marion’s Pizza with the rest of the crew, and I picked him up following my lesson.  I am so grateful to the performers for reaching out to my son with all their talent, and so many different styles and genres.  I so appreciate these extraordinary musicians!  THANK YOU for sharing!

What a great weekend to celebrate music!

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Marching Band photos courtesy of Pati Rogers

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Tonight, I am quite certain there is a good deal of laughter in heaven now that my great-aunt, Shirley Richardson Humphrey, has arrived.  If there seems to be a shift in celestial activity, it is probably because all the guardian angels have abandoned their posts to catch a story Aunt Shirley is telling, or just to be in her presence.

Aunt Shirley, along with her nieces (also, my cousins), Cathy Richardson and Sherry Richardson, was one of my babysitters.  As a young boy, I enjoyed my time with her, and my cousins, Mike, Greg and Lisa.  Aunt Shirley was one of the most darling people I’ve ever known.  Her smile always made one feel as though they were the only person in the entire world, and her warm hugs were always uplifting.

One day, when Aunt Shirley was babysitting me, I stood on a kitchen chair at the sink while she peeled and chopped onions.  The tears streamed down her face as she continued chopping.  Lisa came into the kitchen, and immediately panicked when she saw her mother crying.

“Mom!  What’s wrong?” Lisa exclaimed.

Aunt Shirley raised her arm and wiped away the flowing tears on her shirt sleeve.  “It’s just the durned onions.”

For years, this memory has made me chuckle each time I chop up an onion.

Aunt Shirley suffered from Alzheimer’s.  It was infuriating to watch this hideous disease imprison such a bright, vibrant soul.  It seemed cruel.  Still, when sitting with her at Uncle Dave’s funeral, Aunt Shirley’s responses were so adorable.  Here is a bit of our conversation:

Darin:  Hey, Aunt Shirley.

Shirley:  Well, how are you?

Darin:  Just fine.  And how are you doing?

Shirley:  Good. Good.  Who are you?

Darin:  I am Danny’s son.

Shirley:  Oh!  Ok.  Now who’s Danny?

Darin:  Your nephew.  Rosemary’s son.

Shirley:  That’s right.  Who’s Rosemary?

Darin:  Your sister.

Shirley:  This is just great.  I have a nephew and now a sister.

[Uncle Bob, Shirley’s brother sits, next to her]

Bob:  Hey Sis.

Shirley:  [Turns to me]  Here we go again.

Bob:  I’m your brother, Bob.

Shirley:  Of course you are.

Bob:  You remember me?

Shirley:  Well, of course, I do.  You just told me you were my brother.

It could not have been better scripted, nor performed, by Gracie Allen.  The delivery was priceless.

Despite the fact my great-aunt was no longer remembering me, I was grateful her adorable personality had not yet been stolen from her.

Tonight, many people feel a sense of loss.  But, man, oh man, are the angels howling with laughter.  I am sure even they are feeling quite blessed tonight.

May adorable angels sing thee to thy rest, my dear aunt…

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About this time (7:00am), 198 years ago, Francis Scott Key saw the flag flying over Fort McHenry in Baltimore’s harbor. This moment became the inspiration for “The Star Spangled Banner” which became our National Anthem.

On September 14, 1814, U.S. soldiers at Baltimore’s Fort McHenry raised a huge American flag to celebrate a crucial victory over British forces during the War of 1812. The sight of those “broad stripes and bright stars” inspired Francis Scott Key to write a song that eventually became the United States national anthem. Key’s words gave new significance to a national symbol and started a tradition through which generations of Americans have invested the flag with their own meanings and memories.

And still we can see
As the years have gone by,
There’s a dream in our land

Like a flame that keeps burning.And the lantern of hope
From the harbor still shines.
Those who seek freedom’s dream
To its light are still turning.Now we look to the stars
And we lift up our eyes,
For we know with the dawn
We will see our Flag rise.

And this is our spangled
Banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free
And the home of the brave.

 

 

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The weather could not have been more beautiful this past weekend, and this week.  Sunny skies, cooler temperatures, some hint of life returning in lawns, and the plants look a little perkier.

The back yard has been neglected, so I tidied it up a bit this weekend, and planted some burgundy mums on the grassy knoll and around Logan’s grave.

The burgundy mums around the corner fence are budding, as are the yellow ones on the Southern side of the front lawn.  Amazing how beautiful the lawn can be when some things aren’t trampling it.

One clematis bloom hangs on, hiding in the shadows of the mums.  I am sure it will be the last bloom for this season.

Flyer, at 11, is still perky, and loves joining me out front for her sniff-fest each day.

Ahhh…

A fantastic day it was!

Susan Cook

Susan Cook

Breakfasted with Debbie McCutcheon before attending the funeral of our friend, and fellow music teacher, Susan Cook.  Susan was a bright spirit, had a loving nature, and a passion for teaching clarinet and saxophone to her many students.  Along with this, she was a phenomenal clarinetist.  Though only 61 years old, she began battling Alzheimer’s Disease quite some time ago.  Sadly, her beloved Granny, age 100.7 years, with whom she had lived and also shared an apartment in assisted living,  passed away one month to the day before Susan.  Her journey on earth is over, but her spirit of music will live on for eternity through all her students, and their children.

I spent more time with Debbie after the funeral, and then had a great time with Quintin, listening to some Johnny Cash songs, and some things he has been teaching himself on guitar.

We hurried to The Greene to watch RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (in IMAX) with Loretta & Rick Henderson, along with the eldest of their two extremely beautiful daughters, Kayla, and Rick & Retta’s nephew, Dan Bergeron. This is the first time I have seen the Hendersons in several years – yeh – they live 20 minutes away in Huber Heights, we live in Kettering – this is life with teenagers.

Since Rick & Retta and I are the same age (yes, Rick, you are the younger of this trio – I shant forget), we saw it at age 16 as high school students.  What a difference 20… um… 25… ooops… 30…. dang… 31 years makes! It was so fun watching it with all these friends.

Quintin is off to a party/sleepover. I will put away the pork shoulder and sides for tomorrow night’s dinner.  Since I am spending time alone tonight, I will probably research the making of RAIDERS, and Composer John Williams.  Although I hate not having Quintin home, it is somewhat nice to sit back to enjoy some quiet reading time (but wait… I did this same thing last weekend!).

Thank you, Debbie, Retta, Rick, Kayla, & Dan for making my day all the more rich with your presence, and joyful souls.

And, dear Susan… sleep well, dear lady ~ may marching bands of angels play Thee to Thy rest…

One of my favorite weekends of the year is upon us: the Labor Day weekend.

This morning I went out front to hang the banners, given me by my neighbor lady, Kay Moore.  And keeping with tradition, Flyer had her photo taken out front.  This year, Navi and Chief were allowed on the porch – without leashes – to begin their annual tradition of photos on the porch.

 

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