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Last night, Quintin and I enjoyed a late dinner at The Noodle Company located in The Greene.  Afterwards, we grabbed some videos since he did not have to be at school Friday until 11:30am due to the on-going OGT (Ohio Graduation Test) for sophomores, only.  We settled down with Adam Sandler’s JACK & JILL, and though I am not a true Adam Sandler fan, I did laugh a good deal.

After the movie, I began the process of preparing my taxes, and remained at the job until 2:30am.  I slept, off and on, until 7:45am, at which time, I rose to get the morning chores completed – feeding dogs, taking my meds, sugar checks, breakfast.  The taxes were completed in less than three hours, thanks to continued preparation throughout the year.

In a few hours I will teach my regular lesson load, as well as some additional make-up lessons. Quintin has percussion rehearsal until 8:00pm, and I should be finishing up teaching.  Hopefully, we can grab another movie.

Saturday morning will bring several more make-up lessons, and then some fun time of hiking in Woodland Cemetery, or Carillon Park, until Quintin’s 5:00pm-9:00pm percussion rehearsal.

Sunday, I believe, is a completely free day… absolutely nothing on the agenda. It would be nice to trip down to Cincy to the zoo, or aquarium, but I’ve not made arrangements for the dogs.

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I am sitting in my study, as I do four days a week, writing.  Each afternoon through mid-evening I teach private lessons. But prior to teaching, I have three-scheduled hours of writing time, cheerfully followed by errands, and household chores. I am fortunate to spend my mornings, somewhat leisurely, writing, simply because one lady told me I could write, and then, she showed me how to write.

Darren Paquin

Although my younger siblings cringed when Darren Paquin pulled out my high school essays, written nearly a decade earlier, they also expressed some pride that their eldest brother was still remembered in the classrooms, and hallways, of Elwood Community High School. They often razzed me for my writing skills, but they never realized how much effort, time, and work, I put into writing, and especially, depending on the topic, research, and outlining.

Since the fall of 1982, I have continually used the “rock of writing” learned in Mrs. Paquin’s classroom: an outline. I can remember the encouragement, and insistence, that was her daily mantra, “Outline.” I always knew, when I ran into writing issues, the first question I would be asked, “Where’s your outline?”

One day, Mrs. Paquin hovered over my shoulder as I struggled with a particular paragraph in an essay. “Let me take a look at your outline.” It was such a casual request, yet one I was dreading that morning. I had no outline. I admitted that I had skipped a procedure in the very thing I now promote as a teacher: PROCESS. Mrs. Paquin straightened, looked down, and just stood there with a ‘are-you-kidding-me-? smile. For several seconds, she said nothing. Finally, using her red flair-tipped editing pen, she tapped me on the shoulder, and said, “You know I expect more from you.” And with that, she moved on to the next student, but turned to reaffirm her statement with a smile, punctuated with a wink.

For my sons, former students, and current students, who are reading this, I am sure there is a breeze, accompanied by the sound of a flock of fleeing birds, as they shake their heads, and roll their eyes. “I expect more from you,” an oft used phrase in The Haasienda, runs a close second to our family motto: “Always do your best – always!” That morning in Mrs. Paquin’s advanced composition class seemed to add a new element to my life’s journey, and future career. Through the years, the phrase became ingrained in my soul as a constant marker, reminding me to continually challenge myself to do better in all areas of my life.

My favorite photo of Mrs. & Mr. Paquin

Several years after I graduated from high school, Mrs. Paquin began a new chapter of living as she began her own process of survival. Her heart specialists prescribed an outline for living, and this outline included a transplant from a heart donor. As you can see from the posted video below, she kept to the outline.

I always tell my sons that I will never be their friend, nor they, mine. I explain that my mother will never be my friend.  She is my mother. Yes, we have had a wonderful relationship for the past 47 years, but I could never reduce her status as anything other than the very reverent title,  Mother. The same holds for Mrs. Paquin, and several other Elwood teachers who have had a tremendous impact on my life. Yes, in many ways, Mrs. Paquin, has been a valued friend, but as she was thirty years ago, she still is, today, my beloved Teacher.

I continue to learn from this wonderful lady through the inspiration of faith, hope, and perseverance she demonstrates. I am so grateful that when God was designing Mrs. Paquin’s life-outline, I was included as one of the many subheadings.

And I must be honest… I did not create an outline for this particular blog-post. Sometimes, the heart has it’s own outline.

Mrs. Paquin, know you are loved…

25 Years of Heart Transplant at St.Vincent Heart Center

Note:  Mr. Gordon Paquin was my high school principal, and one of the best role models for a fatherless teenager. Mr. & Mrs. Paquin have two children, Dawn and Derek, who attended high school with me. 

I am finishing up the writing of a musical on the Wright Brothers, and in one particular scene, I recreate the concept of the hobble skirt when a modesty cord is tied around a young lady’s long, voluminous skirts prior to a flight with Wilbur Wright. A fashion designer happened to be in the crowd, watching these famed flights of 1909, and captured a new fashion design when the lady scooted away from the areoplane with the modesty cord still in place. In my research, I discovered the young designer was from Paris’ famed, The House of Paquin. You can bet The House of Paquin is mentioned in the musical!

Producer:

  • Leaps Tall Buildings In A Single Bound
  • Is More Powerful Than A Locomotive
  • Is Faster Than A Speeding Bullet
  • Walks On Water
  • Gives Policy To God

Director:

  • Leaps Short Buildings In A Single Bound
  • Is More Powerful Than A Switch Engine
  • Is Just As Fast As A Speeding Bullet
  • Walks On Water If The Sea Is Calm
  • Talks With God

Playwright:

  • Leaps Short Buildings With A Running Start
  • Is Almost As Powerful As A Switch Engine
  • Is Faster Than A Speeding BB
  • Swims Well
  • Is Occasionally Addressed By God

Actor:

  • Makes High Marks On The Wall When Trying To Leap Buildings
  • Is Run Over By Locomotives
  • Can Sometimes Handle A Gun Without Inflicting Self-Injury
  • Dog Paddles
  • Talks To Animals

Orchestra:

  • Runs Into Buildings
  • Recognizes Locomotives Two Out Of Three Times
  • Is Not Issued Ammunition
  • Can Stay Afloat With A Life Preserver
  • Talks To Walls

Chorus:

  • Falls Over Doorsteps When Trying To Enter Buildings
  • Says, Look At The Choo-Choo!
  • Wets Self With A Water Pistol
  • Plays In Mud Puddles
  • Mumbles To Self

Stage Manager:

  • Lifts Buildings And Walks Under Them
  • Kicks Locomotives Off The Track
  • Catches Speeding Bullets In Teeth And Eats Them
  • Freezes Water With A Single Glance
  • Is GOD

At 5:15am, The Haasienda was ablaze with lights, and much activity, as Quintin got ready to leave with the Fairmont Percussion Ensemble for a major contest in Indianapolis.  The dogs were confused with the activity, as this morning’s routine was slightly different than the typical weekday/weekend morning.  After Quintin left at 5:55am, I settled back in my bed, prepared to sleep; however, I was wide awake until 7:00am. I did manage to doze a bit, but felt the day wasting away.

After getting the dogs through their morning routine, and eating my own breakfast, I began rearranging, and cleaning the living room.  By Noon, CNN was broadcasting Whitney Houston’s funeral.  I listened to the marathon-service while completing my chores.  I spent a good 9o-minutes rearranging, and adding more hanging photographs to the living room wall.  Once that was completed, I swept the entire house, and then deep-cleaned all the carpets and rugs.

By 4:00pm, Whitney’s funeral was finally winding down, and my chores were wrapped up with a thorough kitchen-cleaning.  I showered, and drove to Fox & Hound restaurant near the Fairfield Commons to have a three-hour dinner with my very dear friend, Suzanne Grote.  We had an absolute blast, as we always do.

At 8:00pm, I entered Gabriel Brothers, and found some great deals.  I ventured on to Kroger for a few groceries, and returned home to the enthusiastic greeting from Navi and Chief.  After another 90 minutes of additional tidying-up, I am now settled in bed with Chief and Navi at my feet.

Tomorrow, Sunday, I will relax, teach a few lessons, and eagerly greet my son upon his return from Indianapolis.  The ensemble placed 3rd out of 18 exceptionally good drum-lines today, so tomorrow will be an exciting day!

I took this photo of the mourning doves several years ago when they lived above my deck.  I incorporated two lines of the text from Joseph Martin’s THE AWAKENING.

THE AWAKENING…

“I dreamed a dream, a silent dream, of a land not far away
Where no bird sang, no steeples rang, and teardrops fell like rain.
I dreamed a dream; a silent dream.
I dreamed a dream of a land so filled with pride
That every song, both weak and strong, withered and died.
I dreamed a dream
No hallelujah; not one hosanna!
No song of love, no lullaby.
And no choir sang to change the world.
No pipers played, no dancers twirled.
I dreamed a dream; a silent dream.
Awake, awake! Soli deo gloria!
Awake, Awake!
Awake my soul and sing, the time for praise has come.
The silence of the night has passed,
A new day has begun!
Let music never die in me;
Forever let my spirit sing!
Wherever emptiness is found let there be joy and glorious sound.
Let music never die in me; forever let my spirit sing!
Let all our voices join as one to praise the giver of the sun!
Awake, awake!
Let music live!”

Today was the first time I’d ever seen the musical, THE 25th ANNUAL PUTNAM COUNTY SPELLING BEE.   One of my voice students, Heather Barker, portrayed Logainnr Schwartzandgrubenniere, and Heather was absolutely hilarious! 

Heather began studying with me when she was in high school, and I had the pleasure to serve as the music director/conductor for Beavercreek High School’s production, THE PAJAMA GAME, in which Heather played the lead, Babe Williams.  Heather, then a senior in high school, was so impressive during the rehearsal process – always well-prepared, attentive, mature, and very professional in her manner, and behavior.  She ventured on to Arizona State University, and is now returned to Ohio to study theatre at Cedarville University.  It is a joy to be reunited with Heather as student and voice teacher, and to be a part of her continued growth as an actress.  Today’s performance as Logainne was re-confirmation that Heather is a very capable, talented theatre student.  I am so proud of her!

I was also very impressed with the quality of this Greater Hamilton Civic Theatre production!  It was class from the parking lot to the curtain call.  The facility, located on Miami University’s campus in Hamilton, Ohio is a very nice venue.

I would like to see more productions by this company!  It is definitely worth the drive!

And, again – KUDOS, Heather!!!

The pure, the bright, the beautiful
that stirred our hearts in youth
The impulses to wordless prayer
The streams of love and truth
The longing after something lost
The spirit’s longing cry
The striving after better hopes
These things can never die

“I just have to do something,” said Rev. Bob Smitley, interrupting his own closure to his brilliant homily for Rev. Greg King’s service of celebration. “When we go to a great show what do we always do at the end to show we loved the show?”

The applause began immediately, and the enormous crowd, nearly filling the large cavernous Ascension Catholic Church of Kettering to capacity, rose to its feet.

While the celebration induced the activation of the tear ducts, the heartache was continually battled by the superior force of laughter.  I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed so much, and so hard, throughout a “celebration of life” service than the one offered in the memory of Rev. Greg King.

To know the King family is to know God’s truer message… love one another, and for crying out loud, laugh as much as you can.  I’ve been fortunate to know Greg’s beautiful wife, Patti, and two of his equally beautiful four children, Greg and Kristen.  I mostly saw Rev. Greg at band concerts, band contests, musicals, and at the church for a production of GODSPELL, directed by his wife.  I did not know him as well as Patti, but upon each meeting I was greeted with a deep warmth, and joy, that always re-ignited my own inner joy. He definitely had “a way” with people… with life.

Within twenty minutes of the service honoring Rev. King, I was thinking, “I wish I could have known him.”

The timid hand stretched forth to aid
A brother in his need;
A kindly word in grief’s dark hour
That proves a friend indeed;
The plea for mercy softly breathed,
When justice threatens high
The sorrow of a contrite heart
These things shall never die

The tributes from two of his children, son Greg’s through song, as well as his brother, sister, nephew, and nieces, were moving, inspiring, filled with hilarious anecdotes, and so much love, and magnificent affection.  It was one of those rare moments when I realized that this is the type of man I aspire to be.  Greg King is my role model.

I was overjoyed when I learned that he, too, wrote notes to his children all the time. I believe this, as a dad/parent, is vital.  Mother has written me notes, and sent cards, since I was a tiny fellow, and I believe I have nearly every one in my collection.  As a dad, I write little notes, and letters, to my sons.  I always believed I would find them tossed in the waste basket, but they are always tucked away in a special place.

Had I not attended the service, I would never have known just how much life was lived by this man, and just how much fun he had with life.  I felt so reassured that a father can joke, tease, wrestle, play practical jokes, sing silly songs, act crazy, elect to spend time with his children, be creative with parenting and discipline, talk to his children, throw food, and clown around with his children.  I always felt out of place in the parent-world because I am quite unorthodox as a single dad. I cannot wait for those moments to do things with sons – especially, laugh, and have fun. These are the same memories I want my sons to cherish – so many like the ones I know the four King children will always cherish. The stories from Rev. Greg’s family supplemented my belief that I am on the right track, and that I should proceed, full speed, ahead.

Once we become adults, we tend to let go of heroes, role models, and fellow teachers.  I love moments when my path crosses that of another who offers hope, confidence, and an opportunity for me to “look up” to someone.  Greg King has become that person for this chapter of my life.  Since childhood my number one hero has been Abraham Lincoln, and it only seems ironically appropriate that I write of Rev. King on President Lincoln’s birthday.

Let nothing pass, for every hand
Must find some work to do
Lose not a chance to waken love
Be firm and just and true
So shall a light that cannot fade
Beam on thee from on high
And angel voices say to thee
“These things shall never die.”

I heard the word, legacy, mentioned several times.  And what a legacy Rev. Greg King has with those who who loved him, and knew him best.  It is the kind of legacy we often dream of leaving… Greg King’s legacy is one we should all leave.

The King, as in Greg King, has left this earthly building; however, the spirit of the man – the husband, the father, the son, the brother, the uncle, the minister, the neighbor, the friend, the counselor, the mediator, the organizer, the worker, the leader, the follower, the instigator of pranks, the laugher, the clown, and the ultimate servant with a great servant’s heart – remains.  He shared with the world his own personal recipe for life.  Sadly, so many of us seldom realize that the same ingredients are also within our own reach until we are reminded by great men like Greg King. I am so grateful that I have been reminded that this same recipe is imprinted in my own spirit, in my own mind, and on my own heart.

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Photos I obtained/stole from Patti’s Facebook site.

** THINGS THAT NEVER DIE, by Charles Dickens, and inserted throughout the blog.

This is an amazing article!

Last week I had lunch, or conversations with several teacher-friends who were expressing their weariness as teachers.  They are utterly exhausted.  One friend works 70+ hours a week.  The friends indicate their  administrators are stressed, fatigued, and now micro-managing everything in the school.

This is the on-line article: What teachers really want to tell parents

____________________________________________________________

Editor’s note: Ron Clark, author of “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck — 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers,” has been named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey’s pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.

(CNN) — This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, “You can’t leave us,” and she quite bluntly replied, “Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can’t deal with parents anymore; they are killing us.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don’t want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you’re willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, “Is that true?” Well, of course it’s true. I just told you. And please don’t ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses

“The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone.” – Ron Clark

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn’t started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they’d been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn’t help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some “fun time” during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn’t his fault the work wasn’t complete.

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don’t want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor

And parents, you know, it’s OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don’t set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It’s a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn’t assume that because your child makes straight A’s that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, “My child has a great teacher! He made all A’s this year!”

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it’s usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal’s office.

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has “given” your child, you might need to realize your child “earned” those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.

And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells

I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, “Can you believe that woman did that?”

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow’s outstanding educators.

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, “I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me.” If you aren’t happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don’t respect her, he won’t either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask — and beg of you — to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

That’s a teacher’s promise, from me to you

The weekend was a delightful world-wind of activity, all centered around music and friends!

Friday evening after teaching, Quintin and I headed for Beavercreek High School where I served as a judge for the show choir’s invitational.  Friday was middle school show choir night.  Five competing show choirs and two exhibition show choirs from Beavercreek.

Saturday morning at 8:30am I was heading back to Beavercreek High School where I spent sixteen hours judging soloists, judging show choirs, eating a delicious lunch and supper, and catching up with colleagues, fellow judges, show choir parents, and friends.  I always enjoy Beavercreek’s weekend, but this seemed to be an exceptionally fun year.

Sunday morning was filled with house-activity of playing catch-up with items.  At 12:10pm we were out the door to UNO’s pizza downtown before heading next door to The Victoria Theatre to see Muse Machine’s production, THE WIZARD OF OZ.

I was seated next to three adorable elderly sisters who could easily have been USO girls during The War Between The States – they had me howling!  As I nestled into my seat I looked at my neighbor, and said, “I can tell you are gonna be trouble the whole time.”  She slapped her knee, and said to her companions, “He’s already got my number!”  The one sister had brought her fellow octogenarians to see her granddaughter perform, and each time the young performer was located in the mass of young folks on stage, they pointed, and without whispering, loudly exclaimed, and explained to one another where the girl was.  At one point, the lady next to me (who was slightly deaf) asked, “Are you enjoying this?”  I smiled, nodded.  She responded to my silent response with, “I am, too.  I saw the movie as a girl.”  She then turned to her sisters, and loudly said, “He likes the show, too,” accompanied by more verbal interaction.

Normally, I am usually irritated by loud talking during a show, but these ladies were so adorable that I did not mind.

After the show, we burst through the crowd to hurry home for three evening lessons – just making it in time.

Quintin and I closed out the weekend with a meal at Taco Bell, and spent a good 45 minutes chatting about life.

Back at home, I finished up some items and was sound asleep by 10:00pm.

A wonderful, wonderful weekend!

Patti, Kristen & Greg King

Last night I learned the tragic news of Rev. Greg King’s death.  He and his wife, Patti, were involved in a car wreck in South Dakota where they’d recently moved for a new parish.  Greg died at the scene, and Patti was in critical condition.

Their son, Greg, was one of my piano and voice students, and portrayed a very stalkerish, creepy “Jud” in OKLAHOMA! Their youngest child, daughter Kristen, was in marching band and good friends with my older son.

One of my favorite moments for senior night at the football games was seeing all the other parents bundled up in winter coats, and seeing Greg & Patti escorting their senior band child across the field wearing crowns and red royal robes/capes!  What a fun family!

The King family is terribly close, and has always served as a wonderful family-model.  They deeply love one another, and always seem to radiate the joy they share as a family.

The King Family - Jim & Patti, back row, surrounded by their children

I woke this morning, not remembering the news I’d heard less than twelve hours before. When I  was reminded, the dull ache from Wednesday night returned, flooding my mind, and soul.

When horrible things happen, we always tend to ask, “Why?”

Why do terrible things happen to good people?  When we truly analyze this question, we recognize that terrible things happen to good, and bad, alike.  There is no clear-cut answer as to why terrible things happen.  This is simply one of the items that accompanies us on our journeys.

Four grieving children are making their way to South Dakota.  My heart is heavy knowing these four vibrant, beautiful souls are making such a hideous journey.  All that awaits them is their mother, resting in critical condition, and now a widow.

Still, I know there is great beauty in this day.  Through the strength of the King family, and their solid vitality, humor, and joy in living, many of us will surely be touched beyond measure, beyond belief.  Though their hearts will deeply ache, I am confident their joy will conquer this moment, reminding us that life, despite its darkest night, will always be bright, and beautiful.

Since childhood I have always sensed energizing, protective, and unseen guiding presences in my life.  For several years a lovely lady visited me regularly during my sleep – or at least, what I thought was my sleep.  Today, at age forty-seven, I can still vividly recall this kindly woman’s moments shared with me from the age of four years until I was nearing junior high.  Often, these meetings included singing without any concern for waking my parents.  Other times, stories were told, Bible stories about the heroes were read, poems recited, or general small talk shared.  It was a year or so into junior high school that I realized the sweet lady had not paid a visit.  It seemed, however, she had been replaced by other motivators in my life, mainly music.

One day, perhaps around my sophomore or junior year of high school, my grandmother pulled out old family photos.  Many, many Sundays were spent going through the treasure trove of our family’s history told through photographs, but this particular Sunday, there was a different box, one I didn’t recognize.  Grandma Donna handed me some photos and after thumbing through several I recognized the sweet lady who visited me as a child.  It was my great-grandmother, Thelma Daugherty Barmes.

Sadly, seven years before my birth, Grandma Thelma was involved in a fatal automobile-train accident, expiring the following evening, January 16th, 1957, at 5:05pm.

Grandma Thelma was a wonderful musician; a pianist and vocalist.  One of my first vocal lessons came from my Grandpa Leroy as he relayed watching his mother teach a voice lesson when he was a small boy – Grandma Thelma instructed the student to keep the tongue down, and to sing towards the teeth.

In college, I became fascinated with the possibility of angels.  Several professor friends recounted personal anecdotes related to angelic activities in their own lives, prompting me to wonder if the visits from great-grandmother were – well, angelic visitations.

There are so many arenas dedicated to the study of angels.  I’ve scoured the topics, the varying beliefs, and the Biblical history of angelic beings, and I finally decided that since there will never be one consistent consensus on the topic, it would be my choice to accept the fact angels exist, knowing they had personally appeared throughout my life.  Today, I still believe I have an angel team that assists me in a variety of activities throughout my life-journey.  I have no idea who they are, or whether or not the same ones continually accompany me. Quite simply, I do not doubt their presence, and I trust them.

Over the past twenty years, or so, I have also come to recognize that fellow humans also serve a similar purpose just as the unseen-beings on my “angel team.”  I have countless experiences of brief encounters where someone, or some unexplained incident, has briefly, even momentarily, appeared alongside me on my life-journey to offer guidance, encouragement, or specific information I needed at that moment.

Coincidence?  Perhaps.

God acting anonymously?  Perhaps.

I do believe these positive beings are off-shoots, working on behalf of The Great Spirit.

Regardless who they are, what they are, from where they came, whether they are winged or wear halos, they simply exist in my life.  And how damned lucky I am for these special moments!

Last summer I was terribly ill, and it took me through mid-Autumn to fully recover my strength, and stamina.  My spirits sagged because I just did not have the mind-effort to write on the Wright Brothers musical.  I would open the file.  I would look at the words that suddenly appeared foreign and click shut the file.  It seemed as though my great-passion for this particular craft had died a sudden, unexplainable death.  I began searching for answers to the questions I proposed:

Does this musical suck? (Considering the combined talents of my wonderful, patient co-writers, Gail & Leslie, I knew the lyrics and music elevated my work)

Am I suppose to even be doing this?

Is something trying to tell me I should do something else?

It was a frustrating Autumn, and early Winter.  The most infuriating thing is that I have the ideal life as a writer, something not often afforded my friends and acquaintances who have been published, or produced.  I have my mornings and early afternoons free, and teach private lessons from approximately 3:00pm until 8:00pm.  One day a week I am at a middle school.  Since my sons have always been involved in extra-curricular music activities that often keeps them busy on Saturdays – another full, free day of writing.

My life is ideally set to fully, and passionately embrace this craft.  However, from the end of July, before I discovered my illness, to early winter, I felt absolutely dead inside.  I coasted through the holidays, and my post-Christmas vacation still found me emotionally uninvested, and dealing with the same illness, again.

This past Saturday morning I was reminded by my calendar text that there was a Writing Workshop set for Sunday at 2:30pm.  The workshop was geared for middle grade/young adult audiences, nothing actually to do with playwrighting.  I dismissed it.

Sunday morning something caught my eye while scrolling down Facebook. A terrific author, and inspiring personality, Katrina Kittle posted:

“Dayton Area Writers – TODAY (Sunday) at Books & Co from 2-3:30pm, hosting a free mini-writers’ workshop, taught by myself and the lovely Kristina McBride. The topic: Writing for Middle Grade and Young Adult Audiences.”

Meh.

I sort of dismissed it.

The sun, despite doing its thing on the opposite side of my house, was filling my bed/sitting room with a glowing radiance.  It seemed to beckon me for a hike with my teenage son and the three dogs. For several days I’d been dealing with a nasty situation involving an individual who felt compelled to self-appoint a mythical reign over a project for which I was serving as coordinator. That morning, after two nights of minimal sleep, pulsating pressure in the head, and the inability to fix the situation, I stepped back and handed over the reins.

Freedom.

A renewed energy quickly flooded my brain, my entire being.

Katrina Kittle’s reminder of the writer’s workshop reappeared on a later Facebook scroll.  For the first time in over six months I actually felt life creeping back into my soul.  I remember how invigorated I was when I heard Katrina speak about her novel, THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS, during one of our ACTION Adoption Service training sessions.  I had also attended several theatrical performances where Katrina played a psychologist assisting a patient through the horrors experienced both during the London Blitz of WWII, and years later on 9/11.  Katrina’s voice is captivating, and her spirit is invigorating, and infectious.

At this point I knew that my angel team was kicking in a God-wink.  Quintin and I discovered a movie he wanted to see (I did not) was at the same time, so we killed two birds with one stone. He hit the cinema, and I hit Books & Company.

As I grabbed my keys, preparing to leave the house, a song – one of my favorite songs – on Spotify began playing.  I sat down, and absorbed the message.

When a thing is wick, it has a life about it.
Now, maybe not a life like you and me.
But somewhere there’s a single streak of green inside it.
Come, and let me show you what I mean.

When a think is wick, it has a light around it.
Maybe not a light that you can see.
But hiding down below a spark’s asleep inside it,
Waiting for the right time to be seen.

You clear away the dead parts,
So the tender buds can form,
Loosen up the earth and
Let the roots get warm,
Let the roots get warm.

~ ~ ~

And all through the darkest nighttime,
It’s waiting for the right time.
When a thing is wick, it will grow!

The words to “Wick,” from THE SECRET GARDEN, was another God-wink for the day.

The workshop, led by Katrina Kittle and Kristina McBride, was my final remedy.  Within minutes of the workshop beginning, I realized the dead parts encasing my spirit were breaking through the earth.  That spark, as lyricist Marsha Norman explained in THE SECRET GARDEN, had been hiding down below, sleeping within… It was the right time.

After a meeting with a good friend I respect and admire, and another fun dinner with Quintin, I quickly returned home with the joy of the workshop’s reassurance beating within.  I opened my laptop, clicked on the file titled THE BIRD LET LOOSE, and opened the script.  Everything was familiar once again. There seemed to be a chorus of voices calling out from the pages, thrilled that I had returned. A reunion began.

It seems my angel team had led me, at the right time, to Sunday, January 8th, 2012.  Were Katrina and Kristina serving as angels?

Who can say.

For whatever reason, these two lovely ladies, as countless others throughout my life, were a piece of the puzzle that has continually courted me on this wonderful journey.  Perhaps some people, much like my family and teachers have always been, are the golden bricks that pave my own personal yellow bricked-road.

The passion is restored.  I am acknowledging, appreciating, and adoring my apprenticeship once again.

Can I say life is wonderful, and that I am so blessed?

You betcha!

Quintin was featured in HEARTLINES, the national newsletter for The Adoption Exchange.

Read the article here:  Heartlines Fall 2011

 

As I write this while sitting up in bed at my hospital table used for working mostly late into the night, Logan snuggles next to me. This is a familiar sight, and the warmth of her fur next to me is even more comfortable. When I pet her, I faintly hear that familiar purr that has always been a comfort, much like listening to the ocean’s waves crashing against the shore. It’s been familiar for the past seventeen years.

In June 1994, I decided it was time to get a pet. Since I traveled a good deal between Dayton and New York City, a dog would not have been practical. So, June 19th, I went to the home of a Centerville marching band family and selected the most energetic little male cat. In honor of my beloved mentor, Joshua Logan, I named the kitten “Mister Logan.”

For the first two months, while I waited to see if he would survive better than my indoor/outdoor plants, I took him to the veterinarian who convinced me I should probably just call the kitten, “Logan.” Mister Logan, as it turned out, was a girl. He asked for her birth date, and all I could remember was that she was born mid-April. “Pick a date,” he encouraged. So, I selected April 13th – Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.

Several months later I rushed through the door of the vet’s office, carrying Logan wrapped in a towel. Something had fallen on her that morning; she was crying loudly, and dragging her backside. “There’s nothing we can do for her, Mr. Haas.”   The tears began flowing down my cheek. When I asked if we should put her to sleep, the vet assistants, trying their best to stifle chuckles, assured me there was no need to put her down.

“Logan is fine. She’s in heat.”

I thanked the ladies, and then tucked Logan under my arm, walking out of the building with all the dignity I could muster.

Logan has always been popular with my students, and their families. When Benjamin Gross played the piano as a young 6 year old, Logan would lay across his lap, or stand to hug him. For some reason, Benjamin was Logan’s favorite.  When anyone sits in the living room, their laps are generally filled, for Logan has always hated to see an empty lap. When I work in my study, Logan loves to lay on the side of the L-shaped desk to keep me company, and when writing in my bedroom/sitting room, Logan is always by my side.

This morning, it is different. Logan, after seventeen years, and one day short of six months, is slipping away. She is comfortable, but her breathing has become a little more shallow. I lifted Flyer, who has been blind nearly a year, onto the bed to say, “good bye.” Flyer sniffed at Logan without a hissed rebuttal, and laid down on the bed by Logan. Navi and Chief sniffed Logan and seem to comprehend something is different this morning. Even the extra-playful Navi is subdued this morning, curled at the foot of the bed keeping watch.

August 2010, I was a mess as we prepared to put down Flyer who was suffering with pancreatitis, and assured by the vet she would not survive. Fortunately, Flyer did survive. The outpouring of affection for this dog was incredible. This morning it seems to be the same for Logan. Many have experienced her personality and antics for years, thus making her quite the popular cat.

At Stubbs Park and The Fraze Pavilion, Logan was a familiar presence during concerts, basking in the attention, and gobbling up any food offered her. On airplane travels to and from NYC, Logan always rested comfortably in my backpack stored under the seat in front of me. While Mother sat on my back patio drinking her morning coffee, she solved the mystery of Logan’s escapes from the townhouse: Logan opened the sliding screen-door, and closed it herself! While walking through a festival with Logan on my shoulder – a typical perch in her younger years – I heard a lady let out a light scream. I turned to see Logan eating her elephant ear which she was holding up as she walked through the crowd.

I had to purchase voice mail when it first came out because Logan knew how to press the correct buttons on my answering machine, thus erasing new messages. A year later, I had to remove numbers from the novelty of speed dialing on my new phone because Logan would press the speaker button and then hit a speed dial button to carry on a conversation with whomever answered. Several students got to witness Logan’s phone conversations, especially the Nienaber family.

The fond, memorable stories of Logan are countless. For seventeen years, I have been blessed with an incredible, fuzzy-faced companion, who will always hold a special place in my heart. Through the course of this blog’s post, she has continued to snuggled closer. I am sure she knows she is loved, and that she has been loved dearly for many years, and by many folks.

It’s been a great life for Logan, and for me. We have had wonderful times together – times that have turned into beautiful memories.

As one friend wrote on my Facebook page, “They are not just pets, they are family.”

And very shortly, the Jolliffe-Haas family will bid farewell to one whom I’ve jokingly referred to as “my first child.”

Good bye, little Pal… my beloved little Fuzzy Face.

Know you are loved…

What an incredible evening!

Dinner at UNO’s with Quintin was loaded with good humor, and great food.  I love eating at UNO’s prior to a show at The Victoria Theatre, or The Schuster Center, because there is that familiar electricity in the air that is not only energizing, but comforting, as well.  I absolutely love that feeling I get before a production begins.

Quintin’s eyes devoured the expansive, imposing lobby of the Schuster Center.  While at the ticket center, I personally met someone who had just written me that morning about my posts on Facebook.  It was such a nice surprise.

We took our seats – four apart – and the families began pouring into the auditorium.  Yes, it looked like a sea of young sprouts ready to watch Disney On Ice, but I love seeing the little peeps at the theatre, or in concerts.  Seated next to me was a plump little thing not older than 8 years, who had no control over her body, whatsoever.  Within a few minutes I had dubbed her Princess Bounce A Lot!

We were up in the upper balcony, and could not see the incredible dome which, to me, is one of the most gorgeous memorials to The Wright Brothers.  The dome is the constellation’s configuration above Dayton the night before the Wright Brother’s first flew at Kitty Hawk in 1903.  Every time I see it I am quite touched.

I don’t believe I have ever attended a production where giraffes simply walking across the stage received an ovation; however, I don’t think I’ve ever seen giraffes on stage… well, perhaps in some productions of Children of Eden.  The opening number continued to build, and build, and build until there was this enormous wall of sound, and a scenic moment of set, costumes, lighting that was breathtaking.  I kept thinking how famous scenic & lighting designer, Jo Mielziner would have reacted to this moment – and the many more that were to follow.

I had thoroughly enjoyed the animated motion picture, The Lion King, when it first appeared on the scene years ago, tonight the story’s line came to life in a much richer expanse.  I love the themes where the protagonist has no idea when it is his time to step up the role for which he is truly intended.  I saw some Hamlet peek through, but more of Moses and Lincoln.  Good always triumphs over evil.

Several times I looked down the row to see how Quintin was taking in this epic experience.  I know I probably teared up a little as I watched him bounce to the music, his head toss back with laughter, and a smile remain on his face.   Following intermission, Princess Bounce A Lot and her mother were escorted to different seats, so Quintin joined me.  I could tell he was loving every minute.  After the show we walked over to Riverscape, and he cheerfully pointed out his favorite moments.

As I sit here, several hours following the production’s close, I cannot decide if I watched true musical theatre, or something beyond legitimate musical theatre.  At times, the beauty on stage seemed to be living scenery choreographed to music.  And, it truly does not matter.  All that matters is that I was fortunate to share this experience with a new son.

Without going into detail, I can honestly say, “I am glad last week is behind me.”

I truly value my younger brother, Destin, all the more, as a shining example of what our nation’s education needs in the leadership arena. Had it not been for my brother’s guidance, and encouraging coaching, I could have been hopelessly frustrated dealing with less than prompt communication, and condescending administrators who inferred I did not know “my shit.” Oh, well… at least those with whom I will be closely working were far more satisfactory and enthusiastic in their approach.

Of course, I am baffled that my older son’s high school counselor can be utterly ineffective, and a piss poor example of educational counseling at its finest! Thank heavens for counselor-friends who came to our aide these past six months.

Destin is a gem in every sense of the word. I am so delighted his school corporation, his community, other Hoosier administrators, and state officials recognize his knowledge, talent, and leadership skills. Destin is gifted, and understands his duty of sharing these gifts where they are needed. His photo seems to appear frequently in newspapers for his fine work, and the letters from parents, students, teachers and other administrators I have been fortunate to read are thrilling. The respect, affection and adoration is impressive. While others know him as teacher, principal, superintendent, chairperson, board member, son, husband, daddy, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, cousin, Mr. Haas, Moose, Moosie, Coach, friend, pal, cut-up, class clown, the only senior to take 30+ college days without visiting one college, student… I feel as though I have one of the most honored connections to this towering figure… he’s my brother.

My students were also a blessing this week! I could lay aside the exasperation of dealing with individuals, and corporations, while studying up on IDEA and other federal education guidelines, and simply immerse my self in the music of my students. And then, this was often followed by fun times with my sons at dinner, and doing other things together.

Friday afternoon, my students seemed to relax me even more. And of course, it was the official start of the weekend.

Quintin and I drove to ACTION Adoption Services. En route, I finally had a chance to call Mother and spend some time with her on the phone. Upon arriving at ACTION, Quintin sat in the front hallway entertaining other adopted children with his guitar, while I taught a class of prospective adoptive parents. The topic was “Cultural Diversity.” It does seem to be an appropriate class for me, and a fun topic I am beginning to enjoy, more and more. Last night’s class was particularly fun, and the thoughts shared by the class was quite exhilarating. Interestingly, we had an African American couple of mixed races, and a woman from Cambodia. This certainly made the class’s sharing all the more meaningful as we were all reaching within to share our thoughts, beliefs, ideas, and hopes about bringing other races, ethnicities and cultures closer together.

Even more exciting is when I see my sons with other adopted children from ACTION families – Now, this is true cultural diversity!

Today, I am taking Quintin, who is becoming more affectionately known as “Kitten” by all, to a guitar audition at church for one of the bands. I am excited for Quintin to begin his first actual step into music.

This week was exasperating, yet so refreshing in a number of ways. I learned that I can continue to be resilient, and that I still have much capacity to learn new things – even topics (educational law) that are not as thrilling to my interests of history and music. I think we all benefit from remembering the story of David & Goliath when confronted with issues that may appear overwhelming, and even unobtainable. Attitude. It all stems from “attitude.”

And, of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a kid brother who is “Kick Ass” in every possible way!

Photos:

  • My brother, Destin, and his beautiful wife, Stacia
  • Quintin & Jose with friends from ACTION Adoption Services

Everything has its season
Everything has its time
Show me a reason and I’ll soon show you a rhyme
Cats fit on the windowsill
Children fit in the snow
Why do I feel I don’t fit in anywhere I go?

December 31st is always a day for reflection, and this day seems particularly meaningful… several additions to our family… several farewells… wonderful students and their families… several students moving on to college while many former students moved to New York City or into teaching positions… and always, more personal growth.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

The first four months of 2010 were difficult.

Just a few days into the new year a dear cousin, who had been somewhat of a hero throughout my childhood, passed away with pancreatic cancer. Steve Daughterty was an incredible individual, and is sadly missed.

Life brings on a natural drama, but often, people prefer to create drama.  Those are the individuals with whom I can do without, and through the course of this year, I have distanced my self, and my family, from those who prefer to infest their poor life choices and hideous personal drama into my family’s life.   The events of the first four months strengthened us as a family, and secured the understanding that our family does come first.  And life has been grand!  However, we were greatly aided last April by several loving, caring, and dedicated family friends.

Every man has his daydreams
Every man has his goal
People like the way dreams have
Of sticking to the soul
Thunderclouds have their lightning
Nightingales have their song
And don’t you see I want my life to be
Something more than long….

Sadly, I cannot remember much about this past Spring and Summer.  I know we had a ton of fun going to musicals, concerts, visiting family in Indiana, spending time with family friends here in Dayton, and kicking off Jose’s fourth, and final year of marching band.  We enjoyed visits to  Carillon Park, as well as many hours of hiking, and canoeing at Old River Park.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

June and July were somewhat busy with graduated students prepping for college.  I was also updating my home study through ACTION Adoption, half-heartedly, as I was not as hopeful of finding the right son to adopt.  Those roads seemed hopelessly closed.

The first of August I delivered Jose to his final marching band camp.  It was a tad bit wistful, but I also knew that the fall would bring on several more endings… so this was just the first.  Mother drove over to Dayton to celebrate the end of band camp with the parents’ show.

Then tragedy struck… August 24th, our beloved dog, Flyer, became gravely ill, and was suffering from pancreatitis.  We were told she would only have a few days with us, but through combined determination from our family, dear family friends and students, and tons of nursing, Flyer pulled through it.  By Labor Day she was acting as though nothing had ever happened.

The annual Labor Day Haasienda Celebration had adjustments due to my sister-in-law having three weeks remaining in her pregnancy.  Still, Mother made the trip, and Monday we enjoyed the parade and what has become our traditional potluck at the Lockharts’ home afterward.

With the start of school, the marching band season kicked into full gear. There were football games on Fridays and competitions on Saturdays through November.

The highlight of September came on the 21st and the 24th.

September 21st, my sister-in-law, Stacia, gave birth to a beautiful niece, Carolyne. Fortunately, that Saturday, my 46th birthday, was marching band contest-free, so Jose, Mother and I spent the day in Fowler with Destin, Stacia, Parker, Freddie and Carolyne.

September 24th, I spoke with a case worker from New Mexico who wanted to consider the prospects of matching me with a 15 year old Navajo boy on whom I had sent an interest form.

So many men seem destined
To settle for something small
But I won’t rest until I know I’ll have it all
So don’t ask where I’m going
Just listen when I’m gone
And far away you’ll hear me singing
Softly to the dawn:

Marching band and adoption took over my life throughout October and November.  As marching band began to wind down, the adoption process began to wind up.

October 22nd, Jose and I, along with several other matching band parents of senior members, walked across the football field for senior night.  Two Fridays later, I was fully matched with Quintin, and two hours later, with my full support, Jose was enlisted with the Ohio National Guard.

Life was changing, and what blessings these changes were becoming.  A new son was joining our family, and Jose was establishing the start of a childhood dream – to be in the military.

The following week, Jose performed in his last marching band competition at Lucas Oil Stadium, and completed his last band concert.  Thanksgiving was spent with Mother, and then on to Fowler for Freddie’s birthday celebration.

Within five days, Jose and I flew to Albuquerque, New Mexico to meet Quintin, his foster family, and the wonderful folks at Red Mountain Family Services.  We had one of the most remarkable, and memorable trips.

December 10th, Quintin and his foster dad, Jun, joined us in Dayton for the weekend.

And then December 20th finally arrived… Mother, Jose and I drove to Dayton International Airport to bring Quintin home.  We had a beautiful candle lighting ceremony led by New Mexico worker, Janis Melendez, witnessed by family and members of our god-parent team.

The past eleven days have been so fulfilling with the arrival of Quintin, many kindnesses shown our family by my students and their families, Christmas in Indiana, fun times with family friends here in the Miami Valley, and now, our final day of 2010.

Our family is finding its own corner of the sky as we journey into 2011.  I am thrilled for the prospects of this coming year, and am eager to get it started.  I have my own personal goals, and corners of the sky I will establish, and will continue to assist my sons in establishing their own corners.  Jose will graduate and leave for basic and advanced training with the military.  Quintin will start a new life entirely with many promises of new adventures.

Rivers belong where they can ramble
Eagles belong where they can fly
I’ve got to be where my spirit can run free
Got to find my corner of the sky

So here is to a new year… a continued journey with many opportunities and thrilling adventures… the continuation of my family… the continuation of my brother’s family… and many more wonderful experiences – those anticipated, and those unexpected.

Many blessings to all our wonderful family and friends…

Love,

Darin, Jose & Quintin

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What an unusual, yet exciting year!

I have received so many blessings this year, and I hope, as an individual, and fellow traveler on Planet Earth, that I have been able to be a blessing to others, as well.

My  blessings do not come in the way of material things, but through individuals who have touched my life, and the life of my family.

First, and foremost, there will always be my mother, Diana, who is counted as one of my best blessings in this life.

Right alongside Mother, is my son, Jose, almost 19 years, and a senior in high school. Last week, Jose became Private Jolliffe-Haas with the Ohio National Guard. The past six years since Jose came to live with me, I have watched him grow, mature, and become an incredible young man.

Next week, I shall meet, for the first time, my newest son, Quintin, 15, currently living in New Mexico. By December 20th, he will be a full-time resident in the Haasienda.

Another blessing is my brother, Destin, my sister-in-law, Stacia, and their three beautiful children, Parker, 5, Freddie, 3, and Carolyne, 2 months. I am also grateful for the many blessings Destin has received this year with the birth of Carolyne, and his new position as superintendent of schools. Of course, he is blessed daily with Stacia, as well as Parker and Freddie.

Our home in Kettering is doubly blessed with two fuzzy-faced family members – Flyer, 9, and Logan 16.

I am also blessed for my many uncles and aunts, cousins, and extended family.

Throughout my life, I have been so fortunate to have many wonderful neighbors and friends. From my roots in Elwood, Indiana to my current home in Kettering, Ohio, THANK YOU to all my neighbors, and friends for your constant love and support.

For twenty-six years I have been blessed with many, many fantastic students, parents, and colleagues… bless you!

Improved health, and so many other things, often taken for granted, have encouraged me to realize even more, just how blessed I am this day.

Thank you, to so many of you, family/friends, near and far, or even on Facebook, for being such a blessing in my life.

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All the morning news programs are offering a good deal of their segments to the topic of bullying. The past few weeks bullying has come to the forefront following the rash of suicides of young individuals who have endured bullying in various manners, but with the same results.

This morning there were the following segments:

  • the Rutgers student who jumped off a NYC bridge
  • the 10yo boy from Arkansas who committed suicide from bullying at school
  • the father of a 12yo who killed himself because of bullying is traveling all over the country to educate parents and students on bullying
  • the government’s newly appointed director on bullying was actually bullied as a young boy
  • protests at military funerals
  • a father of a bullied special needs daughter who got on the bus to speak with the driver but, instead, took on the bulliers
  • university dean who bullied students into running errands and cleaning her house
  • the mother of the young girl who took her life because girls from school were bullying her over the internet
  • the mother of a middle school girl who took her life because the mother of the girl’s friend was bullying her over the internet
  • bullying in the work place

Many of these stories are interconnected not only in theme, but by the tragic consequences of bullying.

The thing that I have learned this morning is that bullying comes in so many different packages – some of which I would have never even considered bullying.

Definitions of bullying:

  • the act of intimidating a weaker person to make them do something
  • noisily domineering; tending to browbeat others
  • Bullying is a form of abuse. It comprises repeated acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group abusing those who are less powerful. The power imbalance may be social power and/or physical power. …
  • includes behaviors and actions that are verbal, physical and/or anti-social, such as exclusion, gossip and non-verbal body language. It can occur at school or in transit between school and home.
  • Workplace bullying is the ‘repeated less favourable treatment of a person by another or others, which may be considered unreasonable and inappropriate workplace practice’. Workplace bullying is behaviour that can intimidate, offend, degrade or humiliate an employee.
  • Deliberate action or behaviour directed towards another person which may take many forms and can often occur over a long period of time…

What is ironic is the manner in which adult bullies express the reason for their actions. From domestic violence, to bullying in the classroom by teachers, to bullying in the workplace – the theme seems to be the same: “I do it to assist the other to become the best they can possibly be” or “to be helpful” for other reasons, or “because I care.”

The bully always attempts to put a positive spin on their actions for bullying others. And this weekend, many of us have seen how one particular bully has attempted to back-peddle their previous behavior towards many others.

Sadly… very sadly, the victim of the bully, and even those nearest the victim, fall for this ever so cleverly disguised MANIPULATION! These manipulators seem to be craftsmen when it comes to manipulation. And if you have the opportunity to watch a bully, or manipulator in action, their patterns are always predictable. Unfortunately, too many observers are swayed by the manipulative devices and actually begin to agree with the bully’s explanation, or excuses. When the bully can side-step their own abusiveness to place blame for their actions elsewhere, or in a manner that makes their behaviors appear to be in the best interest of the victim(s), they tend to pull of an incredible, dastardly charade.

I have known those who have endured domestic violence – either physical, mental, or emotional. We currently have an on-going episode of domestic violence in our own family, but the hands of all the family are tied.

I had some friends who seemed to have significant marriage problems, and it was not until after their divorce that I began realizing it was emotional domestic abuse. Sadly, the bully in this marriage portrayed himself the victim, garnering tons of sympathy from friends, and colleagues.

On a side note: Sometimes, when a person goes from one abusive relationship to another, I strongly question whether or not they somehow thrive on the abuse, or perhaps, the drama. Some individuals do seem to encourage others to bully them to receive attention… but this is entirely different than uninvited bullying.

Rev. Fred Phelps, who I consider sheer evil, is plowing through his bully tactics using the First Amendment.

Today, the Supreme Court is in session, and their first cases involve freedom of speech, and the fine line of bullying. This should be an interesting turn of events in this vital, yet oft abused freedom.

I read a post this morning where one individual said that everyone is bullied at some point in their life, and he seemed to accept that it is OK. He also went as far to say that some people are just destined to be bullied.

Some people just seem to be magnets for bullies because they are special needs, smare aller stature, are somehow different than the perceived ‘norm’, appear weaker. And, it always seems to point to CONTROL.

What is it in a bully’s life that makes them adopt the need to control another so vigorously, and cruelly?

The first time I encountered bullying was when I became drum-major for the marching band as a freshman. The first few months were a nightmare.

My predecessor’s younger brother, David T., often pushed me into lockers; Troy G., a percussionist, sat behind me on the bus to Kings Island and continually flicked my ear with his finger; pizzas were sent to our home frequently, and some we got to keep; and then, the scariest moment was when the flute section leader, Stephanie K. tried to run me down in the school’s parking lot with her car. Fortunately, the band director and principal witnessed that moment, and her days in band were abruptly ended.

Other than that, in high school, Todd McG., Steve M., and my first co-drum-major were the only ones who exhibited bullying behaviors toward me. Fortunately, thanks to my mother, and her parents, as well as the support from wonderful teachers and administrators, I had a strong sense of self, and rode the wave of bullying.

Sadly, I witnessed others who endured bullying by others at school, and their stories were not quite so happy in the end.

Right now, only 40+ plus states have bullying legislation; however, the states are each different, and there are no government regulations on bullying. All the parents I have seen interviewed the past week claimed to have alerted the schools, numerous times; however, the schools all claim to know nothing about the bullying where the end results were suicides. There are no regulations requiring  schools to document complaints of bullying; therefore, the schools can easily claim they have no documentation of the student being bullied.

So, how do we stand up to the bullies?

One Florida dad got on the school bus and ripped into the students who were bullying his daughter, who has cerebral palsy, because the school was taking no action.

He stood up to the bullies, but he also had to pay the consequences for his actions.

As parents, we want to be assured that when we send our children off to school they are not being bullied – on their way to school, on their way home from school, and most especially, while they are in school. We also don’t want our children bullied by teachers in schools where administrators turn a deaf ear to numerous complaints by parents.

So, what can parents do?

In some ways it seems as though parents’ hands are tied.

One boy, who was always small in stature, received years of bullying at school, even in front of teachers who joked along with the bullies. The parents made numerous reports to the school, but they were not addressed (and, of course, the school had no record of the parent meetings). One day, the young boy turned and swung at a student who was bullying him, and was expelled from school. The boy, a strong student, was so humiliated he tied a rope around his neck and jumped off the staircase in his home.

And what about those who are bullied in their homes by spouses, or significant others?

What those who are bullied in the workplace?

What about those who are bullied in other arenas, amazingly enough, in churches?

I wish I had answers. There are numerous websites regarding bullying, and how to deal with them, especially those concerning school bullies. Those are great, but if schools are not required to document, or are not addressing bullying, then these websites, though helpful, are somewhat pointless.

Here is a website from CNN where many have shared their stories of being bullied: CNN Bullying Blogs

This week has been saddened by, yet, several more youth suicides due to bullying.

Regardless the struggling youth’s issues, we adults – parents, teachers, neighbors, coaches, directors, youth leaders, etc. – need to take the lead in this universal epidemic to help our youth.

We cannot afford to stand by, waiting for the guy next to us to act; each of us must act, and act NOW to prevent this from happening again.

We cannot afford to wait for the symptoms to present themselves to us; we must try to be ahead of the symptoms.

I have raised teenagers, and taught and directed countless teens, and I am always like a blood hound when it comes to watching for any hints of teen depression, or overwhelming life issues . One year, I noticed a dozen students with what I believed to be teen depression. I contacted their parents and presented my observations, and documentation. Eleven out of the twelve were diagnosed with depression.

This rash of bullying-induced suicides is becoming alarming. Too alarming.

Tonight, my son and I discussed the different levels of bullying. As we chatted, I was startled to realize the varying degrees of bullying. It is all around us, and in areas I had never even considered.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper has really been pounding away at Michigan’s assistant attorney general who is bullying a student at the University of Michigan!

How insane is this?

The state’s assistant attorney general is bullying a college student right before our eyes, and yet our officials all sit back watching, and waiting for unfolding events! I feel like we are all glued to our televisions watching a white Bronco move along a California free-way!

Right now, I just heard Dr. Phil, in an interview, say, “It is tough on the students who are bullied who don’t have sports or music…” I have to chuckle, and disagree with Dr. Phil as there is bullying everywhere – even in sports, and music! I know of a section leader who is a terrible bully in band; one student is in sports and has related different stories about some bullying against a teammate in soccer; and there is even a music teacher who has a long track record of bullying students.

Sadly, the bullies are not just in the lives of the young. Many of us adults deal with bullies in our personal lives, and careers. I, myself, have endured bullying, and harassment by a colleague for several years. I know of several other adults who have had issues with colleagues bullying them in the workplace.

Domestic abuse falls under many of the same criteria – it all goes back to control, and domination.

Right now, we are trapped in election fever with a month remaining. We see bullying in various media advertisements, interviews, debates, etc.. We are told what unpleasant things will happen to us if we do not vote the way the politician directs.

Why do we always fall prey to threats during campaigns? Aren’t the voters the ones who are to be in charge? Yet, somehow, we have allowed our leaders to be the tail that wags us.

Bullying is another form of terrorism. Terrorists instill fear, desiring to wear down our strength, and courage. And this is exactly what a bully does – attempts, and often succeeds, in wearing down the individual they deem weaker. It is is much like “raping the soul, or spirit” as it is nothing but control, and domination.

How do we help our children to conquer these bullies?

How do we protect our children from these bullies?

How do we, ourselves, deal with adult bullies?

No one should be bullied.

No one should allow another person to control, or dominate over them, nor feel threatened by another person.

No one should live under the haunting shadows of fear.

I wish I had answers…

I do, however, have hope, and confidence that these young folks – and thousands more before them – who were hounded by cruel individuals, have not died in vain. I pray their lives are memorialized, serving as a rallying cry for all of us to ban against bullies… terrorists!

I found a great article in The Dayton Paper that lists all the upcoming shows but they were listed under the various companies. I made up a list of shows by their dates.

Keep in mind that I only entered the starting date for some productions, and there may be more performances.

For more information, please visit the following websites for each individual theatre company. Remember that many of the companies listed below can also be located on Facebook and Twitter.

Centerville High School Theatre

Sinclair Community College Theatre

Dayton Theatre Guild

Wright State Theatre & Dance

University of Dayton Theatre

Playhouse South

Cedarville University Theatre

La Comedia Dinner Theatre

The Seed Theatre Project

Human Race Theatre Company

Springfield Arts Council

Springfield Stageworks

Beavercreek Community Theatre

Dayton Playhouse

Don’t forget to support the various Children’s Theatre programs in the area, as well.

For outstanding high school theatre productions, be sure to check out Centerville High School’s theatre program – one of the finest student production companies in Ohio!

09/08/2010 Dirty Rotten Scoundrels LaComedia
09/17/2010 The Spitfire Grill Beavercreek Community Theatre
09/23/2010 August: Osage County Wright State University & Human Race Theatre Company
09/28/2010 Blue Man Group Victoria Theatre Association
09/30/2010 The Importance of Being Earnest Cedarville University
10/02/2010 Forever Plaid Springfield Arts Council
10/08/2010 Die Mommie Die! Dayton Playhouse
10/15/2010 Once On This Island Sinclair Community College
10/15/2010 Moon Over Buffalo Playhouse South
10/21/2010 The 39 Steps Human Race Theatre Company
10/22/2010 The Diviners University of Dayton
10/22/2010 The Sugar Witch Dayton Theatre Guild
10/28/2010 Anything Goes Wright State University
11/02/2010 Spring Awakening Victoria Theatre Association
11/04/2010 White Christmas LaComedia
11/05/2010 Grey Gardens The Musical Seed Threatre Project
11/10/2010 Drumline Live Victoria Theatre Association
11/12/2010 All Shook Up Centerville High School
11/12/2010 Wit Dayton Playhouse
11/12/2010 Dark Lights of Broadway Playhouse South
11/13/2010 An Evening With Sutton Foster Springfield Arts Council
11/26/2010 Precious Heart Dayton Theatre Guild
12/02/2010 8-Track Sounds of the 70’s Human Race Theatre Company
12/03/2010 A Christmas Carol Beavercreek Community Theatre
12/07/2010 The Wonder Bread Years Victoria Theatre Association
12/17/2010 Christmas Belles Dayton Playhouse
01/07/2011 Ravenscroft Dayton Theatre Guild
01/20/2011 Jeckyll & Hyde Wright State University
01/21/2011 Betty Buckley’s Broadway Springfield Arts Council
01/21/2011 I Hate Hamlet Playhouse South
01/27/2011 Diary Of Anne Frank Centerville High School
01/27/2011 Twelfth Night Human Race Theatre Company
01/28/2011 The Octette Bridge Club Beavercreek Community Theatre
01/28/2011 The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee Dayton Playhouse
02/01/2011 9 to 5: The Musical Victoria Theatre Association
02/02/2011 Fiddler On The Roof Springfield Arts Council
02/04/2011 True West University of Dayton
02/10/2011 The Last 5 Years Springfield Stageworks
02/11/2011 Fat Pig Dayton Theatre Guild
02/11/2011 Almost, Maine Seed Threatre Project
02/17/2011 Picnic Wright State University
02/18/2011 The Foreigner Sinclair Community College
03/03/2011 Seven Brides for Seven Brothers LaComedia
03/04/2011 The Wizard of Oz Springfield Arts Council
03/04/2011 Little Women Wright State University
03/04/2011 Golda’s Balcony Dayton Theatre Guild
03/11/2011 Mid-Life The Crisis Musical Beavercreek Community Theatre
03/11/2011 Beyond Therapy Dayton Playhouse
03/25/2011 Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Playhouse South
03/28/2011 The Drowsy Chaperone Victoria Theatre Association
04/01/2011 Smoke On The Mountain University of Dayton
04/01/2011 Bill W. & Dr. Bob Dayton Playhouse
04/01/2011 The Boys Next Door Dayton Theatre Guild
04/05/2011 All Shook Up Victoria Theatre
04/14/2011 Permanent Collection Human Race Theatre Company
04/15/2011 An Enemy of the People Seed Threatre Project
04/21/2011 Titus Andronicus Springfield Stageworks
04/22/2011 Blackbird Dayton Theatre Guild
04/28/2011 Hairspray LaComedia
04/29/2011 Hello, Dolly! Centerville High School
05/06/2011 A Piece of Heart Playhouse South
05/12/2011 42nd Street Wright State University
05/13/2011 The Women of Lockerbie Sinclair Community College
05/13/2011 La Cage aux Folles Dayton Playhouse
05/13/2011 Mauritius Dayton Theatre Guild
05/19/2011 Monty Python’s Spamalot Springfield Arts Council
05/26/2011 right next to me Human Race Theatre Company
06/03/2011 Barnaby Rudge Wright State University
06/10/2011 The Mystery of Edwin Drood Beavercreek Community Theatre
06/10/2011 Anyone Can Whistle Seed Threatre Project
06/14/2011 Disney’s The Lion King Victoria Theatre Association

I think I passed three of the most enjoyable days of my summer!

Thursday morning, I had a two hour lesson with one of my graduated seniors, Ryan Crouch, and as always, it was a great time – and tons of laughter.

Shortly after Ryan departed, Mother arrived from Indiana. She took two days off work from the police department to come see Jose’s band show a the end of band camp. She and I went to Mongolian Grill, and after a brief rest at home, we headed out to Wright State University where the Fairmont marching band has practiced all week.

We enjoyed the pre-game presentation, and especially the first completed movement of the 2010 competition. The percussion ensemble also played their feature which was already sounding great.

At the end of camp, two of my former students, Torrey Cowan and Chris Taylor, arrived. Chris’ apartment is just across from where our band practiced. Torrey was one of my field commanders, and served Springboro High School’s marching band last year, and did a superb job. I met the Taylor family in 1999 when Chris was eight years old. His older brother, Joe, and his older sister, Rebecca, were also piano students. Joe went on to play trumpet for SHS, and Rebecca began on flute, and switched to French horn her junior year – doing a remarkable job. Chris started on piano, and in fifth grade, at age 10, started saxophone lessons. By the end of his freshman year we were working hard on field commander preparations. Chris served as the saxophone section leader, and as field commander throughout his high school career. So, I had the Taylor family for ten years in lessons. Rebecca is working on her masters at WSU, Joe just graduated from WSU, and Chris will be a sophomore this fall at WSU.

It was so great to see these two former students.

After leaving camp, we had a traditional post-camp supper, this year at Steak N Shake.

Friday morning I prepared an egg casserole, and pancakes, and we enjoyed a great breakfast out on the deck where, for the first time in weeks, it was actually comfortable!

At 2:00pm Jose had his upper wisdom teeth removed. He was a brave little soldier, and handled it just fine. In fact, he is still doing fine, having bounced back with no problems.

We got Jose’s prescription for his pain medication (he has only taken one pill as of Saturday morning), and returned home where I prepared a spaghetti & meat balls dinner in the crock pot.

Mother and I drove to the beautiful Smith Gardens of Oakwood. We met my wonderful neighbor lady, Kay, who walked with us through the very beautiful grounds. While we were chatting, we saw a judge enter the garden, followed by a bride and groom, and two witnesses. At first I thought they were looking for a location to shoot some photos, however, I learned that they were actually performing the very private ceremony there. I offered to take photos for them throughout the ceremony, and several after. It was really great to be a part of their cherished moments, even if they were complete strangers.

We left the gardens, and bid farewell to Kay who was off to a birthday party.

Mother and I drove through Oakwood, down past Carillon Park and Old River Park – I even drove her to the former NCR headquarters so she could see the lagoon where Jose and I often canoe. We then headed to Big Lots for some odds and ends. While there, the executive director from ACTION Adoption Services contacted me to see if I could come in to teach the pre-adoptive class since the scheduled trainer was held up at work. I agreed to do it, and Mother went with me.

It was fun having Mother in on this class, which was about “Discipline,” as Mother participated, and shared some of her own parenting experiences, especially supplementing the fact that each child is very different, and not every child can be parented the same, exact way. It was a fun evening.

We arrived home, and had a bowl of spaghetti out on the deck.

This morning it was English muffins, cereal, sugar-free angel food cake with strawberries (what we would have eaten for desert had I not taught class), and coffee.

Sophie Lockhart arrived for her saxophone and voice lesson, and Mother really enjoyed getting to hear Sophie play. We also got to chat with Mike Lockhart for a few minutes.

After the Lockharts left, Mother returned to Indiana. Jose and I are now plotting the rest of our day.

This was just a super, super few days, and what a way to springboard into Beavercreek High School’s show choir for which I will be teaching this week.

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This weekend I discovered I had several text messages I had not checked. I have a cell phone but I am not as dependent on it as the rest of the world is. The text messages were from one of the neatest former students, Marlyn Strickland, a 2009 graduate of Beavercreek High School.

Marlyn, ready to enter his sophomore year at The Ohio State University, majoring in music education, sent this text on July 17th:

“Hey Darin! I was just curious how busy you would be on August 2nd. The corps I’m marching in is coming to Centerville’s show. It’d be awesome if you could come.”

July 30th, he sent a second text asking if I could come see him at Soaring Sounds in Centerville.

Sunday, I found his message and responded that I would make it out there to see him, and by golly I did.

Marlyn Strickland - a sweaty Scout

Maryln is marching with The Madison Scouts Drum & Bugle Corps this summer. During the fall he is one of those marching buckeyes at OSU – and since Fairmont’s marching band will be heading to OSU this fall for a competition, I will get to see Marlyn perform with OSU.

When the Madison Scouts finished performing – to a rousing burst of excitement from the audience – I found Marlyn’s family by the Elk bell tower. It was great getting to see Linda and Mark, his parents, and to meet his grandparents, sisters, and other family members. As the Scouts passed by from their post show meeting, Marlyn approached, and as a former teacher, it is always great when your kids get those big excited smiles when they see me.

Marlyn came to me his junior year to study voice, piano, and music theory. We also covered conducting, arranging, and basic teaching concepts. Within a few months, Marlyn was quite skilled at arranging and had several pieces performed. In fact, one arrangement was performed by a college band! Marlyn’s one hour lesson was seldom under ninety minutes each week. We were always absorbed in the material being covered, and always had a great time working together.

August 2009, Marlyn was one of 24 students to leave the studio. 23 of the students were heading off to college to major in music education or performance, or musical theatre. Although there were 24 students, there 41 lessons leaving as many had doubled on piano/theory to prepare for college. I love all my students but Marlyn was that one exceptional young man that was already on the wave length as most college sophomores.

I am confident he will be a sensation in music education, arranging, and anything else he pursues in music.

Marlyn, I am so proud of you!

Marlyn with his parents and sister

This morning had me hopping – doctor appointments, pick up prescriptions, and rush back home to teach a 10:30am lesson! Began the day with tons of energy, and by Noon, I was alternating between reading and napping.

The heat, even at 7:30am, was unbearable. Walking from my car into the doctor’s office had me drenched. Around 5:00pm the signs of a rain shower spread across the Miami Valley, and I stepped onto the deck to feel a cool breeze. I opened all the windows (finally), and let the curtains bounce. The rain showers came, and were over by 8:00pm. I hurried off to Kroger, and upon leaving the store was smacked with steam!

Back at home, I waited for Jose to finish marching band percussion practice at 9:00pm. We walked to Speedway for a slushy, and laughed in the kitchen for a while.

Tomorrow is a double dentist appointment – Jose and myself – at our new dentist. Jose aged out of his pediatrician dentist, and mine moved.

Jose has finished the first coat of paint on his room. I have not checked it yet.

This afternoon I looked through You Tube to find videos of Bess Truman, Senator Dole speaking at President Nixon’s funeral, and some other historical tidbits.

Now, I am sitting up in bed with my lap top, researching new diabetic medication I will be starting in a few weeks.

Other than that, it has been a somewhat calm day at the Haasienda.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

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Teaching only three days in the summer means long days on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday; however, having the additional two week-days – plus the weekend – to work around the house, write, and spend time with my are wonderful.

This morning I was wide-awake at 5:45am – which seems to be my inner alarm wake-up call – and decided to go ahead and water the plants on the deck. I did my morning routine, and decided that at 7:15am it was way too early to pull out the hedge trimmer. So, I read some emails, watched some of THE TODAY SHOW, followed by WILL & GRACE, and about fifteen minutes of ALL IN THE FAMILY. At 8:00am I was restless, so I tackled some indoor items, and ate breakfast.

I just finished watering the plants in front, greatly increased in their beauty thanks to Valerie Lockhart’s gifts the past two weeks. I cleaned the front door and mailbox – having painted the fence yesterday morning. The mail box may need some painting, too.

I have a full schedule of what I wish to accomplish today, mostly having to do with the yard. Jose has a work meeting at 1:00pm, and then works from 4:45pm-8:00pm, so I will plan my writing time in those chunks.

The weather was beautiful yesterday, and promises to be even more so today. The cool, non-humidity nights, so rare for the end of June in Ohio, were a welcome relief after the sufferings of the past several weeks. The rains came in torrents, briefly cooling off the air, but soon were followed by the steam.

This weekend promises to be fantastic for the July Fourth festivities – which are many here in The Miami Valley. I am sure we will canoe several times, maybe catch one or two firework shows, a parade, and hopefully time with some friends.

Other than that, there is just not much to report.

Finally, the steamy, sticky, humidity has temporarily taken leave of The Miami Valley. Last evening’s thunderstorms, with a brilliant light show surrounding the entire Miami Valley, set the cooling-off into motion, and today we are blessed with a continue cool, breeze, and this with a temperature reading of 82-degrees at almost 4:00pm.

I have begun my summer teaching schedule, and due to several students at camps, or on vacations, I have had several long spells to relax. Well, nap, actually. I am still finding the energy completely drained. Last night I finished teaching and nearly fell into bed, too tired to lift my head. Around 10:00pm, Jose and I walked to Speedway as the storm approached. The sky looked as though fireworks were being set off miles away as the skies were filled with many colors from the heat lightning. It reminded me of conducting the Centerville Community Band one summer at Stubb’s Park. We had just begun playing our final piece, Phantom of the Opera, when the heat lightning began accompanying the medley. It was quite spectacular, and so fitting for that particular number.

Within minutes of returning home, the heaven’s unleashed its wet fury!

I opened the windows to allow the cool winds and fresh air to fill the house. Rather than fall asleep, I remained awake until 2:00am – something that generally happens during the summer months.

During the summers, I only teach on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays, freeing up my Thursdays and Fridays for writing, additional business, yard work, and time with Jose. This time next year, he will be in basic training, and the house will be quiet… and most lonely. So, I will try to find something fun for us to do on Thursday, or Friday – hiking, photography at various places, Carillon Park, Old River Park… anything fun.

Friday night I have on-going training for adoption-life, and then will teach a six hour course on Saturday for training.

The blog I posted this morning regarding Touchdown Jesus received a nice comment from the Word Press editor, and placed on the Freshly Pressed page for the system. I have received many responses – varying in their opinions.

It is nearing time to teach for another three hours. The days of teaching are longer, but I have scheduled breaks throughout to assist with pacing, and energy.

Today was the start of my summer teaching schedule. It had been delayed a week since a number of schools were not yet dismissed for the summer.

The morning began with the Bane children – Ellie and Jacob – who played the two children in last summer’s production, SOUTH PACIFIC. Ellie has been a piano student for two years, and Jacob began his saxophone lessons today.

It was nice to meet three new students today, and I am looking forward to meeting several more new students Tuesday, and again on Wednesday.

The day ended with Sophie Lockhart’s lesson. Sophie walked over from next door’s Miami Valley Jazz Camp carrying three saxophones – her alto, a tenor, and a baritone.  She is such a good worker, and a smart musician, making her lessons are always such fun.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, kept Jose company as he cleaned out the car, and washed it. I will be taking it to a body shop to get an estimate on the damage from where someone backed into it.

Supper was brief, and I laid down for a nap which was not brief. Fortunately, I woke at 9:00pm in time to watch a PBS documentary on Andrew Jackson, narrated by my favorite actor, Martin Sheen.

All in all, it was a great day!

Friday morning at 9:30am, Jose, Flyer and I left Kettering, and aimed westward for Indiana. We took the scenic route, and enjoyed it so much more. Jose and I had the best conversations on the way, and I was so glad that a teenager opted to share a lengthy conversation rather than plug his ears with his favorite tunes.

My cousin, Dana, and her family lives near Lynn, Indiana, and for some reason, I thought it was south of Richmond, Indiana. To my surprise, it is approximately ten miles north of Richmond. Nice little community – as well all those lovely towns along Highways 27, 1, 32 and 28. Winchester, Lynn, Fountain City and Farmland are exceptionally quaint little communities, still thriving with many hometown, downtown businesses. Jose was highly interested in the fact that these communities still maintained so much of their former charm – a charm I knew so well in nearly every city as a child.

One site that caught our attention, and interest on SR-32, just west of Winchester, was the stone entry to the former orphanage, long abandoned. The entrance had the words “Orphans Home” engraved, and the long drive led back to a circle of trees where the building once stood. It was a lovely area, but also one that seemed rich in history, and many sad stories.

We stopped at a Dollar General to buy a water dish for Flyer, and as I stepped out of the car in Albany, Indiana, I looked up and there was Rivar’s! Rivar’s is a dance/show apparel shop, built by former Ball State University Singers alumni. The Rivar sisters have a huge, competitive business that is known throughout the nation.

We pulled into Elwood around 1:00pm, and took Mother to lunch at Richards, one of our favorite haunts.

Back at Mother’s, I saw a tall, elderly gentleman looking at my car. Finally, he came to the door and spoke to Mother who eventually called me out. The neighbor was backing his truck out and rammed into the back end of the car which was parked off the street, and on the grass since there is no curb. He had already called the police out to make a report, and I filled out all the pertinent  information. The gentleman repeatedly mentioned something about a law about vehicles needing to be 18 inches off the street – however, Mother, who has been with the police department for nearly thirty years, and Diane at State Farm Insurance had never heard of this ordinance. I will go have an estimate made, and then send it to State Farm.

After a running a few errands, cutting up vegetables, and chatting endlessly, it was time for supper. We went to the local Chinese Restaurant, greeted by the VERY loud hostess.

The remainder of the evening was relaxing.

The following morning we left the house at 8:00am for Fowler, Indiana where my brother and his family lives. Fowler is one of my favorite spots in the world – it is just so relaxing, and I always seem to return refreshed, and energized. One of my favorite things is seeing the tall, futuristic-looking wind turbines

We arrived shortly before 10:30am and watched my nephew, Parker, play soccer. It was so hilarious watching those little peeps on the field!

Out at the Fowler Haasienda, lunch was prepped while I snapped photos of my nephews at play. Freddie, who is two and a half years, and my Godson, is a riot to watch in action. He is an exhausting little fellow to watch, but quite hilarious, and adventurous.

As always, lunch was delicious. My sister-in-law, Stacia, and her mother, Norma, always fix some of the tastiest dishes.

Just as lunch was finishing up, the guests for Parker’s birthday party began arriving.

Stacia and Destin led them through games, and other fun activities that captivated the lively little crew. While this was going on, Freddie was soaking himself, and Jose, with water from the kiddie water trough in the side yard.

Presents and cake were on the screened in porch – one of the neatest features of the farm… so relaxing, even in the 90-degree heat, and 1,000% humidity that bathed us. Eventually, a thunderstorm arrived, temporarily cooling off the temperature, but before long the steam began rising throughout the countryside sauna.

We left Fowler around 3:45pm, and arrived in Elwood at 5:30pm. We loaded the car, and were pulling out of Mother’s drive at 6:00pm. We retraced our Friday path, and enjoyed the little towns along the way, with more accompaniment of great conversation. We pulled into our own drive at 8:30pm, unloaded the car, went to Family Video so Jose could get a game, and then grabbed a Hot-N-Ready $5 pizza from Little Caesars. Finally, at 11:00pm, I was crawling into bed as a thunderstorm began raging.

A brief, but enjoyable trip.

And Monday, the official summer teaching schedule begins!

In 1986, while a student at Ball State University, I began writing a choral project on President Lincoln. Having been a fan of the 16th president since first grade this was a project I thoroughly enjoyed. For some reason, I had not read much on his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. The precious little information I had obtained led me to follow the belief that she was a hysterical shrew, and hell-cat as described by some of her less flattering contemporaries.

One movement in this proposed choral piece was entitled, “Love Is Eternal,” based on the inscription on Mrs. Lincoln’s Etruscan gold wedding band given to her on the day she married Mr. Lincoln, November 4, 1842. This movement was more a sarcastic treatment rather than one about true love. I began this portion thinking, “Oh, poor Mr. Lincoln, married to Mary Todd… how sad.”

My MTL Research Journey journey began with Ruth Painter Randall’s 1953 biography, Mary Lincoln: Biography of a Marriage. I was soon scratching my head, and wondering why so many from her generation thought of her with such acidity. I began believing, “Oh, poor Mary Todd, married to Mr. Lincoln!”

A friend introduced me to Irving Stone’s, Love Is Eternal: Mary Todd Lincoln. Although I had some minor issues with Mr. Stone’s research, I enjoyed a year of correspondence between the famed historical fiction author, and his lovely wife, Jean. Mr. Stone’s sympathetic portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln was, to me, quite enchanting, and terribly romantic.

Weighed with the enormous works of Ms. Randall and Mr. Stone, I soon began scouring Springfield, Illinois, and Lexington, Kentucky where Mrs. Lincoln was born, and lived the first score of her life.

In Springfield, I became friends with a darling lady, Charlotte Oglesby, the grand-daughter of former Governor Richard Oglesby, a friend of President Lincoln, and one of the two gentlemen to see him into the carriage as he and Mrs. Lincoln drove away to Ford’s Theatre, April 14, 1865.

I was also fortunate to meet Lou Holden, the director of The Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington, Kentucky – the first home preserved to honor a first lady. I was delighted to get to know Ms. Holden, and the other staff members of the MTLH, and to further my research.

I also became acquainted with Carol Massey of Lexington – but this story shall wait for another time! It is quite interesting, and very…. well, we shall leave it at “interesting.”

I also became a frequent telephone pal with Samuel A. Schreiner, Jr., author of the 1987 non-fictional, The Trials Of Mrs. Lincoln, a thorough account of the insanity trial, and the former first lady’s clever plot to legally restore her sanity.

Throughout those four years, I became obsessed with MTL’s story, and even worked with a BSU professor who was experienced in Victorian prose, and a local OBGyn who assisted me with the Nineteenth Century’s knowledge of gynecology, uncovering some of the claims made against Mrs. Lincoln.

Around 1988, I met, and fell in love with the phenomenal actress/vocalist, Kathleen “Katie” Pfister-Musick (photo at right). I knew immediately Katie was the right one to portray Mrs. Lincoln on stage, and after 24 years, I still believe she is perfect for the role.

When I moved to Dayton, Ohio the summer of 1990, I put aside my script and score on Love Is Eternal, and absorbed myself in teaching, directing, conducting, traveling back and forth between Dayton and New York with various projects, and by 2000, adopting sons.

Now that life has slowed down a tad (no pun intended, of course), I began looking over the Lincoln musical, again.

Ironically, via Google Alerts, and Facebook, I became E-cquainted with a Mary Lincoln scholar, and actress, Donna D. McCreary, from Indiana. I was quick to learn she is also friends with a dear college friend, and exceptionally talented actor, J.R. Stuart.

The past few days, my new Mary Todd Lincoln E-friend and I have shared several interesting, amusing letters, and my laid-aside interest in Mrs. Lincoln is resurfacing.

1986-1990 took me on a fascinating journey with Mrs. Lincoln, and this coming Sunday I shall re-enter the ring as I present to the Dayton Lincoln Historical Society, a presentation on Robert Todd Lincoln, and his relationship with his mother.

Technically, Jose’s last day of school was yesterday when he finished his science exam. However, the remainder of Kettering’s schools are dismissed today. Beavercreek and Centerville students have an additional week – and I have heard the grumbling and groaning from those students when they learn Fairmont seniors have been out for two weeks.

Tonight is Fairmont’s graduation and I will be heading out there to watch a portion of that.

Right now, I am waiting on my first student for the day, and frantically typing to finish this blog posting. The skies have darkened to a bluish grey, and a rain shower, or thunderstorm seems to be upon us. Last evening brought us torrential rains, and much cooler weather. Right now we have 75-degrees, and it is just comfortable.

This morning, the announcement of Rue MacClanahan’s death arrived, and immediately her loss was felt by many. It is funny how we are so shocked at the death of a celebrity, myself included, as though we expect them to be invincible. I watched an interview from two years ago, and I was so surprised to see how Ms. MacClanahan had aged so drastically. She and the other darling ladies of GOLDEN GIRLS certainly brought us many hours of laughter – and continue to do so.

This has been a relaxing day. I have been swamped the past few weeks, and today just seemed to be the right time to take a deep breath. Jose slept in until 11:00am, having played XBox most the night, I am sure. I almost called him on the intercom at 7:15am to ask if he was awake for school… I thought against it knowing he will have ample time to play a return favor to me as a practical joke.

Some of my SBC emails are not arriving speedily, or if they are, they tend to hit the SPAM file. I need to start searching for another provider as I have tired of SBC’s poor product.

Last night’s rain showers cooled things off beautifully, the morning was crisp, and refreshing.

After Jose left the house to go take two final exams, I putzed around the house with a variety of things before showering and heading down to Miami Valley Hospital for my EMG.

I left slightly early because I never know how the traffic will be around the University of Dayton area. It is either a line or traffic due to regular busyness, or endless road repairs. I easily made it to the area in eight minutes, and decided to drive up to the pinnacle of Woodland Cemetery to look out over Dayton and the Miami Valley.

Here is the new structure at “the lookout”, and a view of Dayton.

I drove a few short blocks to Miami Valley Hospital, parked and easily found where I needed to be.

After filling out a few forms, I was escorted back to a room and asked to remove my shirt. Soon, Dr. Jillian entered, and began asking questions about the numbness, and tingling in my arms, hands, neck and head. And then the procedure began.

Quite interesting!

He used a device on various parts of my hands, arms, neck and shoulders that sent little shocks into each area. It would be a series of shocks beginning with very mild to very strong. After that was completed, he then inserted a fine needle into the various muscles. The muscle right beneath my thumbs was the most painful – but other than that, it was a tiny stick.

Here is a video about the procedure.

As he was continuing with the procedure, Dr. Jillian kept me chatting about what I did for a living, and when he learned I was a music teacher, he admitted that he enjoyed GLEE. At first he said that his daughter was a big fan, and that he felt obligated to spend quality time with her. I raised my head, and said, “Face it, your are a big old Gleek, and don’t try to use your daughter as the excuse for watching it.”

I was right!

When the procedure was completed he said everything was fine, and that there was no carpel tunnel.

Yea!

Lunch is over, Jose is watching television, and I am going to take a nap before teaching.

Having gone to bed at 3:00am Sunday morning, I was up, and moving right along by 7:ooam.

12:30pm, Jose and I headed to Delco Park in Kettering for the first event – Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party. It was great to see her parents, Mike & Joan Cordonnier, as well as Jill’s boyfriends, one of my favorite theatre tech geniuses,  Jackson “Jack” Gallagher.

After approximately thirty minutes, we departed for our next event and arrived home by 1:45pm to head next door for the cookout.

As always, it was an absolute thrill to be in the company of some of the most wonderful neighbors in the world. I was blessed with wonderful neighbors (Herndons, Fortners and others) while growing up in Elwood, Indiana, and I have been more than blessed with the kindest, most hilarious neighbors here in Kettering. Kay Moore, and her family Don, Laura, Jozi and Kelley Parker, and the Stephensons – Bob, Chris, Henry and Frank and I sat around the table and howled.

Jose left with Branden Witten to go to a grad party while I remained next door. Due to crossed-wires, we got off to a late start for Old River Park and Carillon Park; therefore, we postponed the canoeing, and went straight to Carillon Park for the concert and fireworks.

Man, oh man! I was not prepared for the enormous line of cars!

I got to see a ton of people, and had a nice, long conversation with Myra Michaels. The Pollocks arrived, missing the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s SOUTH PACIFIC medley. We sat behind the Kress family, and enjoyed the fireworks, and the light show and bell music from the carillon.

SPECTACULAR!

You really should read this Dayton Daily News article: Carillon’s Heritage Festival makes history by featuring new bell system.

When the fireworks ended, I chatted a bit with Amy Kress, and her parents. The Pollocks, Brandon, Jose and I walked all the way back to the NCR parking lot where we stood talking for a good thirty minutes.

Now, I sitting up in bed with my laptop, cooled off from the refreshing shower. Jose is spending the night with Brandon.

I am finally ready to sleep!

But what a WONDERFUL day this was! Many thanks to all those wonderful friends who contributed to making this a fantastic day!

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And the weekend continues…

After leaving Wright State University’s production HELLO, DOLLY (see previous post), I chatted with Mother en route home. By 6:00pm, Jose and I were to two of our scheduled grad parties for Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

We had a blast at both parties!

I got to spend time with the Weyrauch family and their guests – 95% of which were Fairmont band students.

They had a dunking tank in the back yard which was gathering much interest from the teens, as well as the trampoline, volleyball and food.

Megan was quite involved in the Fairmont music department – alto saxophonist, choir, show choir, and musicals.

This past marching season, Megan served as one of the marching band’s field commanders.

Megan is a beautiful young lady, and when you know her parents, Jim & Sherrie, and sister, Kaitlin, it is obvious why  this young lady is so special.

Megan will be heading to Wright State University this fall to study nursing.

You can visit her this summer at Kettering’s popular family joint, Magic Castle.

We left the Weyrauch home around 7:00pm and ventured back to our neighborhood for the Crouch party. Whereas the Weyrauch home was filled with band students, the Crouch yard was bulging with choir students – a completely different mix.

Ryan, like Megan, has been a super duper music trooper at Fairmont. Ryan was primarily involved with the choral program, but was also a noted piper! Ryan was in symphonic chorale – where he served as section leader and sometimes, student conductor; Fusion (vocal jazz) in which he sang, arranged, and often led rehearsals; show choir; and the musicals.

At graduation this coming Thursday evening, Ryan will conduct the senior choir in their final choral salute to their high school careers.

Ryan will be attending Bowling Green State University this fall, major in music education – choral.

I chatted with Ryan a bit – which is funny because I see him for 90 minutes each week, and we always have plenty to chat about.

I finally sat at a table with choir students to chat with Ryan’s girlfriend, Alex, and continued to give Bobby “Booby” Symes a difficult time.

Jose joined me at this table, and the Haas men proceeded to entertain their perspective halves of the long table.

Around 9:00pm, I joined several of the adults – John & Felicia Crouch, the Parretts, Tracey Witten, and a new couple I did not know – Rich & Bonita Palmer. Bonita looked familiar to me, but I could have passed her in the frozen food aisle at Kroger and still remember her face.

FINALLY… it was discovered that the three of us had not only been at Ball State together, but we three had been in the music department and marching band! We sat there for a good hour laughing about so many of our antics, and fun from BSU school department days. Rich had gone to school with Warren Central HS friends, Troy Allbright, and Shelley England – friends from Mid-America Music Clinics, and BSU, and Bonita had gone to high school with David Hall, another Mid-America camper and BSU music buddy! It was such a blast!

After the Palmers left, I sat chatting with the choir parents, and had a great time. However, I was appalled when I checked my watch and it was 1:00am!

Once we arrived home, I began preparing the potato salad for Sunday’s 2:00pm cookout at the neighbors. By 3:07am, I was finally in bed.

7:00am hit like a led pipe across the head, and I could not sleep. After the morning ritual, I prepared the potato salad, chatted with Jose, and sat down briefly to write this post.

At 12:30pm we will head to Delco Park in Kettering for Jill Cordonnier’s graduation party.

Jill began studying piano with me when she was six years old. Her feet did not touch the ground.

Around her fifth grade year she began studying saxophone along with piano, and developed into a fantastic threat to those in the Centerville Bands.

However, Jill’s main goal was to serve as field commander for the Centerville High School Band… and this she did for two successful seasons!

Jill has also been quite involved with the high school’s musicals – working on sets, or crew, and playing in almost all the pit orchestras. Jill’s dad, Michael, is the technical director, and manager for the Performing Arts Center at Centerville High School.

Jill, like Katie O’Neill (from previous post), has been like a daughter I never had.

This fall, Jill will enter Bowling Green State University, majoring in environmental management.

By 2:00pm, we will have returned home to join the Moore-Parker family for their annual cookout, along with our neighbors directly behind us, Bob & Chris Stephens. I always look forward to this gathering, as much as I do any Hoosier family gathering.

Around 4:00pm, or so, we will walk to the other side of the high school for a graduation party for Christina Suther, a marching band pal of Jose’s. Christina’s older sister, Vic, was one of my social studies students at Kettering Middle School.

Now, this is where the schedule becomes a little murky.

At some point we will end up at Old River Park for some canoe time, and then on over to Carillon Park for the Carillon Park Band, Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, and the fireworks! I just am not certain of the time we will venture the 3 minutes north to the south edge of Dayton!

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46 years ago, Ball State’s Emen’s Auditorium opened…

46 years ago, the Ball State Singers were born…

46 years ago (this September), I was born…

46 years ago (this September), BEWITCHED premiered on television…

and…

46 years ago, HELLO DOLLY premiered on Broadway!

This afternoon, I was reminded of why I love the show so much! Wright State University’s theatre department produced another Stuart McDowell masterpiece with two so many outstanding performances by individuals, and a tight ensemble.

Of course, I was exceptionally proud of Will Hutcheson who played Barnaby…

…and Katie O’Neill who played Dolly Levi!

These two talents have evolved into incredible performers, and I cannot wait to see their careers flourish when they hit New York City this fall!

I have never thought of the main production number, “Hello Dolly” as a tear jerker, but it hit me this afternoon… much clapping and wiping away a few tears because I was so proud of these two future stars!

Thank you, Stuart McDowell, and the entire company of WSU’s HELLO DOLLY, and much love to Katie and Will!

The day seemed to drag… I felt drained, and exhausted for no apparent reason. I accomplished little until it was time to teach – and that perked me up, greatly.

Jackson Lockhart came to pick up Sophie from her lesson, and we shared some great laughs.

After teaching, Jose and I ran to Lowes to check out stone for some border work in front of the house, then to Walmart and Meijer, and Chinese for supper. We picked out some movies at Family Video and returned home by 9:00pm.

Our neighbor boy, Kelley, joined us for the remainder of the evening, and is spending the night with Jose. I retreated to my bedroom with my three DVD set of HBO’s mini-series, JOHN ADAMS. I finished the first two parts (at 2:00am), and I cannot wait to finish the remaining four parts. What an incredible man, and even more, what an incredible lady – Abigail Adams! Wow!

Tomorrow I will accomplish some items around the house, then see HELLO DOLLY at Wright State University @ 2:00pm, and then hit two high school graduation parties – Megan Weyrauch and Ryan Crouch.

I cannot believe I have slipped into my old pattern of not blogging! I was so good about blogging, and then the past few days I have been lazy – an for no good reason.

It has been a typical week at the Haasienda – teaching, watching documentaries, walks, gym time with Jose and the neighbor boy, Kelley, and playing with Flyer and Logan. I have been battling low energy, again, this week, and it is driving me up the wall.

Tonight is the Fairmont concert at the Fraze Pavilion for the bands. Since my Beavercreek students have all rescheduled this evening’s lessons, I will be free to attend this concert.

Thursday, there is nothing major on the docket.

Friday, after teaching, I plan on going to see HELLO, DOLLY at Wright State University. Several former students are leads in this production, and they are seniors. Hopefully, my friend, Suzanne Grote, will be able to sneak away from family to see the show with me.

Saturday will be busy – two graduation parties, and a canoe expedition at Old River Park with several family friends.

Sunday is the annual cookout next door with the Moore-Parker household – one of my favorite events of the year! We may try to work in some more canoe time, and then the fireworks later that night. Generally, downtown Dayton offers fireworks, as well over the Memorial Day weekend.

Other than that, it is a typical Spring day at the Haasienda.

I now have red impatiens in pots on the front porch, back deck, and scattered in places around the front corner fence. I am behind in getting flowers out, and felt bad since my neighbors next door have this beautiful setting!

I finished up around 3:00pm, showered, ate a salad for my late lunch, and then took a nap for 45 minutes. I taught a lesson, drove Jose to youth group, ran to Meijer for lettuce, bananas, and Wild Berry Aloe Vera Juice.

Finally, I got to catch up with my dear friend, Jeffrey Carter. Jeff is one of my favorite people in the world, and we tend to play hit-and-miss or telephone tag. He has an exciting, full-filling, often crazy schedule, and I am always hesitant to call him for fear I am interrupting a lesson, meeting, or rehearsal. So, I generally send an email, and he lets me know when his open times are.

Tonight was perfect because he was returning to St. Louis via Amtrak from the Conductor’s Guild board meeting held in Chicago. We spent a good hour catching up. He will be out of town the next four weekends – Kansas City, Philadelphia and New York (he will get to see Angela Lansbury in A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC), and I have promptly forgotten the other two locations (argh!).

Now it is time to go pick up Jose, and return home to settle in for the fourth installment of AMERICA: THE STORY OF US.

This morning was a tiring, but invigorating walk!

At 9:50am, I set out with Flyer while chatting with Mother on my headset.

For those who live in Kettering, I walked:

  • through the athletic fields to Far Hills
  • crossed over to Windingway
  • turned south on Ridgeway
  • then took Stonehaven to West Stroop
  • followed West Stroop
  • headed back North on Lenox
  • took east path on Windingway

In an hour, I took 10,499 steps and traveled 4.47 miles – up hills, down hills, and through some of the most beautiful scenery in Kettering. I had been down parts of Ridgeway, but never through the portion that made me believe I was walking in the foothills of the Smokies! It was absolutely gorgeous! If any of my neighbors in the area are looking for a GREAT hike/walking route, Ridgeway is the route!

I was huffing and puffing in a few places, but it was all well worth it. Poor Flyer, however, was dragging! I should have taken a water bottle, but my intent was to only go about a mile or two, not much more than 5,000 steps.

At one point, I was somewhat confused being so unfamiliar with this part of the neighborhood. I knew I was not completely lost, but I was not certain of my exact location. It was strange to be in one’s own neck of the woods and to feel so foreign… but exciting, too. And the homes, and scenery were gorgeous!

I think I am going to run out to get some potting soil, and some new pots for the impatiens I bought from a Centerville band student. I will put them in some pots and set them on the deck and front porch.

After that, I hope to relax on the deck with my laptop. However, I would really like to return to Old River Park for a another canoe trip!

I will teach a few lessons tonight, take Jose to SIGNS youth group, grab some groceries while hopefully connecting with Jeffrey Carter as he returns to St. Louis from Chicago on AmTrak.

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday!

There must have been some rain showers throughout the night as the streets and walks were wet. I only woke between 4:30am and 5:30am, but don’t recall hearing any rain.

By 7:30am, the sun was shining, and the birds warbling merrily. I took Flyer out for a brief walk, tried to call my friend, Jeff, who was en route to Chicago on the train, and busied myself with all sorts of tasks this morning.

I researched a little on adoption issues, and then hurried in to take a quick nap before showering, and preparing to teach my first lesson.

I will teach until 6:00pm, then hurry up to ACTION for on-going training. That will finish up around 10:00pm.

There is absolutely nothing hectic on the family docket this weekend. Saturday shows no sign of rain – whereas earlier in the week it did – so we may finally reach Old River Park!

Today is the final day for seniors next door at Fairmont. I wrote my annual last-day note to some seniors. Jose’s digital design class is having a party with the seniors – a three hour party. He was all excited for the party and made several pans of brownies last night.

Other than that, there is so little to report. Just an ordinary day in the Miami Valley at the Haasienda on Shroyer!

Yesterday afternoon, I took Jose out to the front yard to help me measure the length in front of the shrubs where I want to put a little stone wall just a foot or so off the ground. I handed Jose the end of the tape measure, and walked to the opposite side. I then asked Jose what the measurement was.

He looked down, searchingly, looked up at me questioningly, and re-examined his end, and realized, I had the measurement on my end. I was howling to see his expression!

Last night I finished teaching around 8:00pm, and Jose and I went to Hothead Burrito for supper.  Ahh… I love their burritos. They are not that different from the famed Chipotle – but the prices, and discounted coupons are certainly different! We returned home, and I settled down with what I had taped of THE MIDDLE and MODERN FAMILY – they are two of my new favorite shows.

This morning, after another three hours of being wide awake from 4:00am-7:00am, I met my friend, Bill Hetzer, for breakfast at First Watch behind Towne & Country Shopping Plaza. From 8:30am until 11:15am, Bill and I, discussed politics, religion, family life, military life, our sons, house projects, music (current and past), musical theatre, and anything else that seemed of interest. This is my best therapy – meeting Bill for breakfast! Now, I just need to figure in a time to meet Kay, as her laughter and smile are both infectious, and I do tend to behave myself much better when I am with this Hetzer family member. With Bill, all behavioral bets are off.

We finished inside First Watch, and then moved outside to finish our conversation in the parking lot by Bill’s car. Grant it, lunch time at the feeding trough was upon us, but some of the incoming diners were quite rude as they prepared to park. Some would drive up, put their car into neutral, grip the steering wheel and lean forward as though to urge us on our merry way. Bill, or I, would wave them on, or indicate we were still chatting.

One gal drove up in her maroon limousine-esque vehicle, and was quite disgusted that Bill and I were talking. For some reason, she was intent on parking where Bill’s car was currently resting. Several times she even nudged us with a toot of her horn to which we waved her on. Had it been winter, or raining, we would have quickly ended the conversation for those more advanced in years, or mommies with children. However, it is the most gorgeous day – and it was already nearing 70-degrees. This lady drove around several more times, and would pull up behind where we stood. Finally, she decided that a parking space, directly opposite, and slightly closer to the door, would suffice. I began to wonder if for some reason she had scattered a late husband’s ashes where we were standing. Eventually, the aggravated lady un-wedged her supple girth from the driver’s side (without the “pop” sound trapped air makes upon release), and moved toward the door, calling to her waiting friend that “those two guys…” I had to chuckle… I am sure her frame had been the model for the 1939 World’s Fair sphere that served as the exposition’s centerpiece, later the seed for Disney’s EPCOT symbol for the world.

Bill and I, while inside, had just been talking about the things in life that matter to us, as well as the minute items that simply waste too much time on our individual journey. I told Bill that the offended/offensive woman would probably be exasperated the remainder of her day, and complaining about “those two guys who…” to any one who wished to share in her misery.

After departing from one of my favorite souls on this earth, I ventured on to CVS to pick up my prescription. As I entered the pharmacy section, there sat a lady who I guessed to be in her late seventies, or early eighties. By seeing her walker, and the way she was seated in the chair, I could see she was not in the best of physical health – but her spiritual health, and attitude toward life appeared to be Olympian! I smiled, and was greeted by the most generous, welcoming smile that could make a bishop forget his prayers. Several times our eyes met, and I attempted to match the warmth in her smile.

Some day, in forty years, I hope I am just like that darling soul in CVS – not an old lady on a walker – but an older gentleman with a healthy attitude, and healthy spirit – and hopefully, a healthy body and system. As I was leaving Kroger next door to CVS, I saw the lady scooting across the parking lot on her walker. Her car was not parked in the handicap space in front of CVS, the pet store, or Kroger – but out in the middle of that huge parking lot. As she maneuvered her walker, taking careful steps, she smiled at people passing by her – some not even noticing – as well as the air around her… her life’s composition was sung silently, but the depth of her joyful melody thundered for all who could feel the vibrations.

This CVS lady made my day!

Yesterday was quite nice.

It began at 2:30am when I woke after three hours of sleep – something I have experienced for several weeks. I returned to sleep around 5:00am and barely remember Jose coming in to tell me he was heading to school.

I went for my doctor’s appointment, and the news was good:

  • He was very pleased with my blood work and some of the tests, especially as a diabetic – he said he felt I was in very good shape, health-wise
  • The triglycerides and good cholesterol are good – yes, the triglycerides are slightly above normal but he said that is still very good for a diabetic and that he doesn’t treat the triglycerides until they are over 500
  • The only concern was with my LDL (bad cholesterol) – diet and exercise for the time being
  • The endocrinologist had my A1C @ 7.2, and the doctor’s was 7.4 – he said he would like to aim for low 6’s by the end of summer
  • I am being scheduled for more tests – an EMG and an X-ray – on the nervous system due to the tingling in the arms, shoulders, neck and head
  • We discussed waking up in the middle of the night, and he thinks it might be something with hypoglycemia – my sugar has been low several times in the morning – between 64 and 80. So he said that when I wake up he wants me to check my sugar and to eat a snack and see if that helps.
  • Other than that, I am to exercise more upper body, keep walking 10,000+ steps a day, and keep up with the diet.

Good stuff, I’d say!

Whew!

I returned home, took a nap (my reward for a healthy report), taught some fantastic lessons, had a bite to eat with Jose who brought home a container with fish and potatoes. The previous evening he brought home some ham load which was delicious.

We ran a few errands, and then settled in for the evening – me watching GLEE, and Jose watching something else, all the while joking that he, too, was watching GLEE.

By 11:30pm the Haasienda was shutting down – a little early for us. However, I woke twice (that I recall), but readily went back to sleep.

This morning I was wide awake at 6:30am, feeling somewhat refreshed.

At Noon, Mary Tarlano will visit for an update on my home study.

I hope to get some writing in, as well as an arrangement for a student’s upcoming baccalaureate.

By 3:00pm I will be teaching, and will have late dinner. Hopefully, this evening I will be able to walk around the neighborhood as there is an evening event in Trent Arena that will close the walking track.

Despite the grey skies, the birds are joining in a cheerful chorus!

One of my “babies” is currently appearing in one of her final performances on the Wright State University Theatre stage.

Katie O’Neill is starring in HELLO DOLLY! in the much coveted role of the darling, meddlesome “Dolly Levi”.

Through the years, Katie has done a fantastic job as

  • “Hildy” in the Muse Machine production, ON THE TOWN
  • “The Witch” in Fairmont High School’s INTO THE WOODS
  • “Mrs. Potts” in the Muse Machine production, BEAUTY & THE BEAST
  • “Alice Beane” in Wright State’s TITANIC

I am so happy for Katie, and cannot wait to see her descend the staircase just like Carol Channing first did 45 years ago!

Congrats, Katie O’Neill! I am proud of you… and as always, know you are loved!

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