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A ton of work goes into this huge undertaking, and it is always so exciting to see the process pay off.

I was responsible for ordering the trophies, and pulling together the awards ceremony for the fifth year, and each year I have more and more fun with this component.

On the other side of the field, near the visitor’s concession building, I managed approximately 20 adults and about 13 student ambassadors who were busy checking-in band directors and serving as host/ambassadors to guide the bands to their warm-up stations, and finally, to the gate for performance.  It ran smoothly, and I am indebted to the diligence and pride of these wonderful parents and students.

I love the awards ceremony.  The seniors and several sponsor identified presenters gather for a brief training, and these students are always so pleasant, pumped, primed and proud for the duty that awaits them.  Their enthusiasm is always such a high-point to the conclusion of an event that involves weeks of planning, countless emails swapped, scratching well-laid plans and creating new plans – even at the last minute, enduring a few minor headaches, walking more in one day than I do in – well, let’s just say a week, greeting bands and directors, and feeling that flood of very slight let-down when the event is off and running. The awards ceremony is the icing on the cake.

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Navi, Chief and Flyer were not about to rouse themselves at 5:00am when The Haasienda began stirring as Quintin showered, and readied himself for a 6:00am rehearsal prior to the MEPA/Bellbrook HS competition.

After Quintin left, Mother and I talked most of the morning away over coffee, and enjoying the antics of the dogs who seemed to enjoy having a new audience for which to perform.

Fairmont’s percussion line did an exceptionally good job this morning, and walked away with a win in their newly elevated class.

Not too long after arriving home, Quintin was back, and we ventured to Hibachi Grill for dinner.

We lounged in my bed/sitting room watching episodes of THE MIDDLE, as well as Jerry Lewis’ WHO’S MINDING THE STORE, another movie, and now the end of The 2012 Academy Awards.

It’s been such a pleasurable weekend, and here are some photos to remember Mother’s visit…

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Quintin has been enjoying his time with the Fairmont Winter Percussion ensemble, which has been sweeping up contests, left and right.

Here is a glimpse of Quintin’s primary love at the moment.  Several of the photographs are courtesy of Patti Rogers.

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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.

I’ve been entertained by a plethora of varying reports on Madonna’s Super Bowl half-time production. The boards are lighting up with armchair-choreographers and directors this evening, and critiquing the 53 year old Queen Mum’s performance.

Fifty-three? Wow! And she can still move! Impressive!

It seems that most of the reports, both amateur and professional, were extremely favorable.

Quintin and I watched the performance on: http://idolator.com/6167342/madonnas-super-bowl-halftime-performance-watch-it-now

The basic critique from the camp that were not as impressed:

  1. Madonna was lip-syncing her entire performance
    1. Her mouth was not always together with the music
    2. She was dancing too wildly to have been singing

My thoughts…

  1. Lip syncing? No big deal for me. Considering the venue, and the fact that this is one of the most viewed moments in television the entire year, it would be a safer approach.
    1. If you’ve ever been in a large facility such as a gym, a football stadium, or huge concert arena, sometimes there is a very slight sound delay. Watch Jim Nabors singing “Back Home, Again, In Indiana” prior to the start of the Indy 500 – slight sound delay.
    2. Dancing too wildly? That was wild? Anyone who has ever seen a Hoosier show choir knows they sing and dance with far more motion, movement, and intensity that what I saw on the video feed.

Honestly, I thought it a great production. This is 2012. We expect spectacle. In past years we even got a peek at some boobage during a half-time show. How’s that for spectacle?

Madonna delivered a very entertaining product for the Indianapolis Super Bowl.

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.

“The difference between a successful person and others is not a lack of strength, not a lack of knowledge, but rather a lack of will.” – Vince Lombardi

Well, in 45 minutes the curtain will come down on 2011 and promptly raise on 2012.

2011 was an interesting year. I read so many Facebook posts stating, “I’m so glad 2011 is almost over” or “2011 was such a bad year.” And on they go.

I honestly cannot say one year is any worse than another. It is what it is. It’s a year. It’s all about living, all about attitude, all about choices, and all about loving. I don’t see 2011 with any regrets. There were choices made based on facts presented, and actions taken. Life moved on through various scenarios, and the results were pretty much as calculated.

I kept busy as a dad, as a teacher, as a pet-dad, as a band parent, as a gardener and landscaper, as a musician, and as a person. It was a full year, and one on which I can look back upon with pride.

Several family members and friends passed on, and though saddened by their passing, I celebrate the time spent with them during my life’s journey. One particular departure saddened me greatly… my darling little Logan, my cat of 17.5 years. I miscalculated how deeply I would feel her passing, and miss her greatly.

Some new folks merged onto the Haasienda Highway this year, and I have thoroughly enjoyed their presence. Primarily, Navi and Chief, who joined us February 20th. Though exasperating as they travel merrily through puppyhood, they have already proved to be devoted, fun companions, as Flyer continues to remain.

Some folks elected to move on to other paths which I believe to be standard patterns in life… not everyone is meant to remain with us.  A few left prematurely, perhaps, but I respect their choices. And then there were some I disconnected their journey from mine, and I have no regrets. Some folks just need to be on a different path, just as I need to be on my own path. The ones I removed I celebrate as a blessing upon my path as I discovered they were poison leaking onto my path, just as they poisoned the journey of others.  I made the correct choice.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

All in all, life is beautiful. The journey continues in this, my 48th year, and I am making plans for new ways to make the coming year(s) more exciting, turning the journey into an even more thrilling course.

Fifteen minutes remain of 2011. I am grateful for this past year of learning, living, and loving, and for all the many blessings rolled into many facts of life.

It was a very good year.

“With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

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

Read the article here:  Heartlines Fall 2011

 

THE BEACON - Fairmont Firebird 2011 Marching Band Show

One of my favorite weekends is returning to Indianapolis for the BOA (Bands of America) Super Regionals held at Lucas Oil Stadium.  For the past four years, Kettering Fairmont High School’s Marching Band has competed in this competition, and it is always a nice opportunity for Mother, even my brother, and his family, to attend this event.

Returning to Indianapolis is always special for me.  From the time I was small, traveling thirty miles South to Indy was always a big treat, and an experience.  Even at 47 I am excited to visit this beautiful city, especially the familiar sites along Meridian Street.

I decided to forgo getting up too early to meet up with several Ball State University friends, and left Kettering by 9:00am.  I drove Westward on OH-725, which turns into IN-44, enjoying, and taking in all the fall colors along the highway.  Of course, there is even more pleasure passing through the wonderful little communities of Germantown, Camden, Liberty and Rushville.

Just outside Rushville, I stopped to pay my respects, and snap some photos of Wendell L. Willkie’s grave site.  Mr. Willkie was born, and grew up in my hometown of Elwood, Indiana where both his parents served as attorneys.  Mr. Willkie later moved to Rushville, and was nominated by the Republican Party to compete against President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1940.  Willkie returned to Elwood in August 1940 to officially accept the nomination.

Despite missing IN-52 that would have taken me directly to downtown Indy, I managed to pulled into the parking lot of Shapiro’s Deli, immediately behind Mother, who had been delayed due to a marathon on the Northside.

Shapiro’s Deli is one of my favorite eateries.  It has become our traditional lunch-site each BOA Saturday.  While eating, we ran into Dr. Joe & Mavis Barnett from Elwood, as well as several tables filled with parents from our fine neighbors from Centerville High School.

At Lucas Oil Stadium we had an hour before Fairmont’s scheduled performance.  I am glad we got to see Center Grove High School’s marching band.  My cousins, Kari Hallett Miller, and Eric Hallett, are alums of this outstanding band program.  Kari & Eric’s parents, Judy & Jerry, also taught at Center Grove for many years.  The entire Hallett family would have been proud of their marching band!  Outstanding performance.

Fairmont Firebirds took the field with what was, perhaps, their best performance of the season.  The process of evolving into the complete BOA-concept can be rather tedious, but Fairmont is making strong steady gains each year.  Breaking into the BOA album of yearly competitors is tough.

Quintin spent some time with Mother and I as we watched Avon High School Marching Band – always a treat – and our guest collegiate band in exhibition, The Purdue University Marching Band.  What a spectacular performance by 360 non-music majors.

The preliminary competition ended, and I drove Mother through most of the downtown Indy congestion to the Indiana War Memorial.  There I bid Mother a safe trip home, and then strolled down Meridian Street with my camera snapping away.  The sun was just preparing its final descent on the day, and what a nice touch nature added to the photographs.

With this annual visit to Indianapolis the marching band season officially comes to a close.  I am glad that we move on from the season, but I am always so grateful, and thrilled, that my sons experience one of the greatest highlights as did I when I was in high school.

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I will be honest.

I only attend football games for the marching band.  Yes, I am now in my fifth year as a marching band parent so there is an incentive to get me to the games.  For me, I am paying $7 for a ticket to watch pre-game and half-time.  Later in the season, I will go to the game after half-time so I don’t have to pay $7 to watch the band’s post-game show.

I love baseball games and soccer games, but sadly, they generally do not have marching bands performing pre-game and half-time shows.

It’s not about the money.  It’s about – what is for me, personally – a waste of time.  I am one who likes to keep busy, and sitting through something that does not hold my attention is draining.  When I go to medical appointments or any place where I might find my self waiting, I have a book to read, or something to work on.  A football game is no different.  However, during a football game I generally go over to sit on the steps of the nearby school corporation’s administrative building to read or work.

Last night was an interesting night of football.

After the normal pre-pregame festivities of Step-Off, Entering the Stadium, and… (I guess that was it) I settled into my blue seat with a back next to a lovely lady and her trio of well-behaved, very polite daughters.  After a bit of chit-chat it was time for one of the most exciting (for me) parts of the evening.

The marching band took the field for pregame, and it was a special night because my son, Quintin, carrying two large cymbals, was marching for the first time.

My absolute favorite part of pregame is something that has become a tradition since it’s 2008 (I think) introduction: Script BIRDS.  The marching band moves to the backfield (visitor’s side for football folks) and winds its way out of a tightly packed blocked to spell out B I R D S in script formation.  This marching event was borrowed from The Ohio State University Marching Band’s Script OHIO and has become Fairmont’s crown jewel of the pregame excitement.

As I filmed the letters of BIRDS carefully connecting smoothly, out the corner of my eye I saw something that seemed to be caught somewhere between an impending disaster, and a video from America’s Funniest Videos: the Fairmont football team was plowing across the field at full force, heading directly toward the marching band just as it was completing the ‘D’ and preparing to move on to the ‘S’.  You could feel the fear wrap through the stands as the charging teammates barreled across the field seemingly blind to 200+ band members blocking their way.

Fortunately, the football players stopped within feet (possibly inches) at the edge of the ‘D’, dancing in place as they tried to figure this new formation.  The marching band continued moving through the team to form the ‘S’, and eventually, the football players realized they were in the way and moved to the sidelines while one player remained imprisoned by the forming ‘S’ (OK, that part was actually funny).

While this scene was playing out around the 30, over on the 50 the opposing team’s players had run onto the field but with a less crushing charge.  They hovered in the middle of BIRDS, bringing out a nasty chorus of “Boos” from the Fairmont stands.  Finally, the players were motioned off the field by zebra-striped officials.

Despite this game being the hottest competition of each opening season, the hottest topic was pregame’s near disaster.

For me, personally, the situation was over.  Thankfully, no one was injured (later in the game there was a band injury).  It was the first time since the band began doing Script BIRDS that there was ever an incident on the field – to my knowledge.  However, there was widespread grumbling in the stands, and beneath the stands, and not just from current, and former band parents.

The pre-speculation was to blame the football team for “being so stupid.”

Now, anyone who is mildly acquainted with well-practiced athletic teams and marching bands know that someone had to give the order to move.  I honestly could not see the team deliberately charging its own marching band.  I am sure this happens in some schools, but from my vantage point, the Fairmont directors and coaches have always appeared to have a mutual respect for one another, and this has always seemed the case with the students in both organizations.

Then, the blame was being sourced out to the coaches of both teams – but mainly to our coach whose players could have caused the most harm.

All I cared about, up to half-time, was heading home to rest, and download my photos for my mother to see (she is always proud of her grandsons).

While getting my popcorn, more out of boredom than hunger, one former band parent asked what I thought caused the near-onslaught of our band members.  My first reaction, kept to my self, was, “Why does my opinion even matter?  This is just part of your drama-ensued nature, Lady.” (You’d have to know this lady!)  Instead, I said that I was glad all was well, and turned to give my order – and thankfully, the parent followed my dismissal.

The next band parent, following me up the stadium ramp and stairs, asked, “What do you think caused the pregame incident?”

“Obama,” I tossed back over my shoulder.  “Everything seems to be his fault these days.  I say it’s Obama’s fault our kids nearly got crushed.”

He laughed and went to his seat.   I went to mine.

Later, on a Facebook post, the band director did note that it was the head official’s (ref) decision to send the football team in too soon.  

The score board indicated the first quarter was not over… one more quarter and then it would be half-time.

A gentleman seated two rows behind me must have been the same guy who sits with a group of drunk pals at Elsa’s restaurant in Kettering whenever there is a game playing on the large screen.  He is THAT guy that has the loudest, most penetrating voice, and is THAT guy who knows everything about the coach’s job.  Most are referred to as “arm chair quarterbacks.”  I simply refer to them as ‘loud-mouth, drunken asses.”  The LMDA behind me did not sound intoxicated, but was certainly loud and obnoxious.

However, he did something that makes me want to turn, and create a Jerry Springer moment in public.  He belittled players when they did not succeed with a play on the field.  This bullying behavior from spectators is wrong in any venue, but I find it severely inappropriate behavior when teenagers, or younger, are playing the game.  This kind of behavior should be always be removed from any game.  Finally, one of the folks across the aisle rose to say something privately to the LMDA.

The cutest moment was listening to the elderly couple directly behind me.

The visiting team’s band was attempting to perform their half-time presentation, but were held up by technical difficulties (electricity to their keyboard).  The couple suddenly became Howard Cosells with play-by-play commentary which cracked me up.  The seriousness invested in their comments made it all the more rich.

“I’ve still got that extension cord in the truck.  Should I go get it and offer it to them?”

“You mean the cord you used when you went to fix Helma’s porch light?”

“Hmm Hmm.  She just needed a new light.”

“Why didn’t you bring it in?”

“I forgot.”

The visiting band began their show, but directed it to their fans, and not to the Fairmont side.

“I’ve never seen a band march with the backs to the crowd.”

“Something new I suppose.”

“Why do they have lamp posts on the field?”

“Maybe some school football bleachers don’t have good lighting.”

“But they are not lit.”

“I should have gotten my extension cord.  Could’ve lit at least one or two of their lamps.”

Finally, it was Fairmont’s turn to take the field.  At the close of their presentation, the marching band moved towards the stands playing the fight song.  The lady behind me, having apparently forgotten about the lighting situation from the previous band, says, “I don’t like it when those one horns slide up.”

“They’re slide trombones, for Christ’s sake.”

And with that chuckle, I slid down the steps to make my retreat home.

An eventful game, indeed.

This note to band parents just arrived from the band director:

A few items “for the record”

  • The Band did a great job – Congratulations!
  • The Head Referee told our football players they had to take the field, however his timing was not in alignment with the planned game schedule the FHS athletic dept had published
  • The Alter football team was instructed to NOT go to center field but to angle over to the sideline
  • Band Student name withheld, who was tackled during the drum line 3rd quarter was checked out by the EMT at the game and is OK. He is here for donation day today.  This was an unfortunate accident and we will take measures to correct this for next week.
  • Thanks to all students, parents, and staff for a “memorable” first game!

If you have never been to a Fairmont High School football game, you are missing some pretty neat traditions.

The high school and football stadium, one of the nicest in the area, are several blocks apart.  At first I thought this was logistically impractical; however, now I see it as one of the neatest, most exciting moments one can experience.

At 6:45pm, in front of the performing arts wing, the entire band lines up for what is called, Step Off.  The band moves around the high school’s Southern campus inviting tailgaters and other fans to fall in behind the band.  The Marching Firebirds and trailing fans wind through a picturesque neighborhood filled with more cheering fans enjoying barbecue parties, fans waiting from their parked cars to join the procession, and fans who simply stand on their front porches to watch the band go by.

I mean, how neat is that?  Six Fridays each fall you have a 200+ marching band pass by your house.

While this is going on, there is a growing momentum at the stadium.  This particular night, I hurried to the stadium to catch the band’s entrance – clearly a major moment for Firebird football/band fans.

The announcer brings stadium attention to the marching band as it rounds the corner from the neighborhood, and this is often accompanied with cheers.  The band winds through the parking lot, through a gate, and then proceeds under the stadium seating which is heralded by the pounding of percussion.  The stands vibrate and shake while the fans go nuts.

Last night, as the marching band moved beneath the stadium, the announcer referred to the band as “the Pride of Kettering.”  Yes… it is!

It really is a neat tradition that rivals many college traditions, and if you live in The Miami Valley, it is worth the time to swing by and watch.

In fact, stay for the game and watch the pre-game production which offers another incredible moment when the marching band spells out a script “BIRDS.”

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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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One of the most beautiful songs…

Two versions here:

One very traditional version, and one… well, techno version. It reminds me of something you would have heard at EPCOT Center in the 1980’s.

CARMEN OHIO – traditional men’s chorus

CARMEN OHIO… techno version

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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I have always been a fan of the musical themes associated with each division of our country’s military. When I was conducting bands regularly, I could not wait to conduct THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE.

Men’s Chorus, The Vocal Majority, performing THE ARMED FORCES SALUTE:

I loved turning to announce each branch of the service, and then see those who served rise, clap, and cheer. It was always, and still is, a moving sight.

My favorite military theme has always been “Anchors, Aweigh!”  My Uncle Ron joined the Navy about the time I was beginning piano lessons, and he bought me the sheet music for the Navy’s theme. It was way beyond my capabilities at that age, however, I worked up my own arrangement to play for him when he returned home. In 1987, my uncle was killed in an automobile accident, and for the past twenty-three years, “Anchors, Aweigh” still chokes me up.

One melody that has become my favorite is the virtually unknown Coast Guard march, “Semper Paradis.” Here is the song:

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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(Written in September 2002)

Thursday evening I was in the middle of teaching private voice, piano and saxophone lessons when I received Emails from my mother and sister telling me that Mr. Brugger had passed away.  Though not terribly surprised by the news, I was still quite sad. As my student continued playing through her lesson, a kaleidoscope of memories began turning.

My first memory of Mr. Brugger was at the T-Way parking lot as a very small child. My grandmother, Donna, Barmes, use to ride me on her bicycle a good deal, and one of our favorite jaunts in the summer was to watch the Panter Band practice.  The early images must have had a strong impact on me as I later served as the Panther Band Drum-major throughout my high school career.  It was during those years in the late 1960’s that I first heard Mr. Brugger sing “Old Man River.”

In 1975, two phenomenal teachers entered my life – Garnetta and Clifford Brugger.  Mrs. Brugger was my fifth grade teacher, and Mr. Brugger, having retired from the high school, came into our music class each week to teach songs and tell stories.  He would lead us in several favorite American folk songs, and then stop to tell us a joke or a story, complete with various voices and theatrics.  One day, someone asked why we sang “those old songs.”  With a reassuring smile, Mr. Brugger explained that in other countries around the world, folks songs were vital to the people’s history because they told stories of the people of their land.  He felt, that as an American, we should all value our own musical heritage.   To this day, American folk songs are a part of my teaching repertoire.

Toward the end of the year, I wrote a note to Mr. Brugger with a special request, and sent it home via his wife.  His last day he was with us at Washington Elementary School, he honored my request.  I can remember the school secretary, Jan Helpling, slipping in through the coat hall… Diana Lane, the fourth grade teacher (and also one of my favorites), joined her… Mrs. Brugger, holding a cup of coffee slipped in beside them… Mr. Brugger’s voice filled the entire building with the rich strains of “Old Man River.”

Throughout my junior high and senior high years, Mr. Brugger was one of my biggest supporters.  Whether attending an Elwood HS Variety Show – his own legacy and gift to our community – or giving me a nod along the parade route, he always made sure I knew how proud he was of my work.  The crowning moment came when he saw me after a performance of OKALHOMA! and compared my performance to that of Gordon MacRae who portrayed “Curly” in the motion picture.

Upon my return visits to my family over the years, I knew that if we went to Jim Dandy for breakfast, I would get to see Mr. Brugger.  He never failed to recognize me, and always insisted I tell him everything I was doing with my own music career as a band & choir director, and performer.

My last student this evening came into my studio and announced that he had decided to go to Ball State University next fall to major in music education. Although he is not my first student to go into music, his timing was perfect.  As Brian warmed up on his saxophone, I was so happy Clifford Brugger made such an impression me twenty-eight years ago.  I was even more appreciative that he also had an impact on his own student, Paula Simmons, who was my junior high and high school band and choir director.

When my student left, I sent my newly adopted thirteen year old son outside to walk our dog.  I sat down at my piano and began playing and singing.  It was a tender moment without great emotion.  It was a moment of thanksgiving, and celebration.  The lyrics flowed easily…

“Ol’ man river, that ol’ man river,

He mus’ know sumpin’ but don’t say nuthin’

He jes’ keeps rollin’, he keeps on rollin’ along.

He don’t plant taters, he don’t plant cotton

An’ dem dat plants ‘em is soon forgotten,

But ol’ man river, he jes’ keeps rollin’ along.

I git weary an’ sick of tryin’

I’m tired of livin’ an’ skeered of dyin’

But ol’ man river, he jes’ keeps rollin’ along.

Our beloved maestro has laid down his baton at last, yet his music “keeps on rollin’” within our memories, and our hearts.  Where ever you are, Mr. Brugger, thank you, and God bless.

[April 2003, Paula Simmons invited me back to Elwood Community High School to perform, “Old Man River,” in honor of Mr. Brugger.  This was, and will always be, one of my greatest honors.]

Darin as Panther Band drum-major

Darin performing "Old Man River" - 2003

Late afternoon Friday the skies began turning gray, and rain threatened the Miami Valley. Just as Jose was leaving to report to the band room, the splotches of wetness began appearing on the sidewalk. Within minutes the deluge had begun. At 6:30pm, the rain had stopped and I stepped into the heavy, steamy air to walk to the high school to take photos of STEP-OFF.

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STEP-OFF is one of my favorite traditions to observe with a Fairmont football game. The marching band and guard assembles in front of the school (actually, the performing arts’ wing) and begins the march over to the stadium, winding down Delaine through approximately five blocks of the neighborhood. When the band reaches the opposite side of the school, students and adults who are tailgating before the game, fall in behind the band. Home owners along Delaine are often hosting cookouts, or just standing on their porches, in their yards, to cheer on the Marching Firebirds. As the band moves beneath the rich, overhang of leaves, the too bright stadium’s lights begin filtering through the specks of openings in the green arch. The excitement always mounts as each section of the band, accompanied by the funky rhythms of the percussion, begins a choreographed movement with their instruments – the best being the sousaphones! Once the band arrives at the stadium there is an even greater sense of excitement when the 204 members march through the tunnel beneath the gigantic stadium, drums pounding harder, and louder, creating a fantastic vibration on the seats above. It is a wonderful tradition that I enjoy each home game.

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I took photos as the band started STEP-OFF, and then hurried over to the corner of Lincoln Park Blvd. & Delaine to catch them as they made their first turn into the neighborhood. After the band passed, I walked over to Lincoln Park and the Fraze Pavilion to take photographs. As I walked the park it occurred to me that the recorded music heard floating over the neighborhood from the stadium was not yielding to the band’s pre-game music. I later learned the game’s start had been held due to lightning.

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Jose arrived home, chattering away about the events of the night, and then the deluge began, again… and the rains came… forty days and forty nights…

God, how many times have I written that title over the past few years I have blogged. My cousin, Dana, and my friend, Jeff, are tremendous, faithful bloggers. I always try to use these two as role models with cooking, household items, and other creative things, but manage to fall short. I have concluded I am just not a cook, nor do I enjoy it. I have also concluded that home decor, and even gardening is not my arena, either.

Therefore, blogging shall be mine!

So, for starters…

SOUTH PACIFIC, the little show that had so many derailments from outside sources, and even school administration, bounded into the auditorium with success, and much cheering from the audiences. The cast was just right, and the orchestra was wonderful. The technical component was saved by two brilliant Centerville students, Jack Gallagher and Ryan Grant, and my former student, Andrew Stroud, took over the sound board. And I had three of the most wonderful ladies as producers: Sandy Focht, Suzanne Grote, and Joyce Carter. Joshua Logan’s son, Tom, and his granddaughter, Kate Harrigan, offered wonderful, touching telephone calls to the cast, as well as voice overs prior to curtain. It has been nearly a month since the show and the magic of its journey still lingers.

In some ways, it was a very fun summer, and in others, it was not. Due to the grueling episodes from some outside individuals who wished to work against the productions, it made for a very trying summer. Still there were many pleasant events with visits with the family, a three-day trip to Indiana Beach, Kings Island, and a ton of gatherings at the Carter home in Beavercreek. Jose was present for almost all the SOUTH PACIFIC cast adventures, and seemed to make some good friends.

Today is August 25th, 2009. In one month I turn 45 years old. This is kind of strange as I remember when my grandmother, who was only 40 at my birth, turned 45.

Next door at Fairmont, the freshmen and sophomores are in class – the juniors and seniors join them tomorrow. In some ways I am glad school is starting back up, and again, it heralds the end of summer. I will be directing the Beavecreek Show Choir Band this year, and doing several other things at BHS which I cannot disclose at present.

This summer has been interesting in other ways… people entering my life, people exiting my life… some with whom I care to share a life-long friendship, and others I know are only momentary.

Now, it is on with my day. Teaching, some writing, and then a band booster meeting. Jose begins the evening marching band rehearsals tonight – Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:00-9:00pm. So, I will have free time to write, walk, and do whatever needs my attention.

Thursday, April 2, 2009, I volunteered for the Winter Guard International (WGI) competition at Fairmont’s Trent Arena next to our home.

south-shore-logo

I was working with Carol Dittoe at the volunteer check-in booth, and we heard there was an all-male guard from Chicago. Carol, whose daughter, Erin, is in the Fairmont guard, and I were both interested in seeing them so we slipped inside the arena to watch.

24 young Black boys came on to the floor, and the next five minutees were some of the most incredible in my life!

Their music was Red Skelton’s “Pledge of Allegiance.”

As if the audio was not enough, with its powerful, emotional message, their guard’s presentation was unbelievable. Half way through their show, Carol leaned over and said, “All these years I have known you I have never seen you cry.”

I was that moved!

There assistant director came up to our table and shared with us some of the background of the organization.

The South Shore Drill Team & Performing Arts Ensemble was established in 1980 by former Chicago Public School teacher, Arthur Robertson with only 4 members (Curtis Davis, Randall Robertson, Kevin Ray, and Darrell Jones). Today the organization has a membership count of 300+, ranging from ages 9-21. The team sees 99.5% of its high school students graduate, and nearly all go to college or technical school, breaking a cycle of poverty. The group was designed as an alternative to gang activity, high school drop outs, and teen pregnancy. The group offers young people an opportunity to develop self-esteem, self-discipline, goals for their future, and a chance to travel.

The team’s unique marching style and precession allowed them to perform all over the United States and abroad. The South Shore Drill Teams repertoire includes contemporary music, jazz, hip-hop, modern dance numbers and more.

Today the South Shore Drill Team has achieved far more than what Mr. Robertson could ever imagine. To date the team has won countless awards for their unique style of drills and continues to win top honors at parades and special events.

Later in the afternoon, the mixed-group of males and females competed. Again, the tears were flowing as they performed to experts of President Obama’s acceptance and inaugural speeches accompanied by gorgeous underscoring.

Their acrobatic, and pristine performance brought the house down multiple times throughout their drill.

In 30 years of being involved with marching band and winter guard, I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like this in my entire life. I still have goose pimples as I write about the blessed experience.

I applaud the efforts of the leaders and directors for making such a positive impact on the lives of these inner-city students.

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I feel as though I am finally catching my breath for the first time in a month.

Where do I begin?

Well, I am vocal director for Beavercreek High School’s production, The Pajama Game. The director and I are up against a few “waves” to pull this production off. Due to some items beyond our control, the students’ morale was been sinking. Finally, two weeks ago, I began vocal rehearsals, and I managed to bring the cast up in spirits, as well as song.

I have also been working WGI (Winter Guard Internationals) and MEPA (Mid-Eastern Performance Association) competitions. For the hours we work, money is applied to our child’s band fees. By the time I have finished with this season, I believe I shall be slightly over what I owe.

Last summer, Jose was not planning on doing marching band, and therefore, I did not attend the processing day. A bill was never sent to me, and it was not until Rita was doing my taxes that she inquired about last year’s marching band fees. There was a balance of $397, and then I knew I would have $415 for this coming season’s fees.

I have actually had a blast working with the different band parents. For three different MEPA competitions I worked at Centerville High School selling T-shirts and raffles for a Yamaha marching snare. I took my lap top, and plenty to work on, and actually accomplished a good bit of writing and editing. These were fun events.

On top of this, I have been working on the Wright Brothers’ musical, and after sending it off to a local director who expressed interest in reading it for a possible production, I pulled out the musical I began writing in 1986, Love Is Eternal – Mary Todd & Abraham Lincoln.

I have truly enjoyed working on these two musicals. I have always loved the musical on Mrs. Lincoln, and am enjoying bringing it back to life.

This past Sunday, after leaving Centerville High School, I hurried to Yellow Springs to meet the Lockharts and their family at Young’s Dairy to celebrate Mike and Valerie’s 25th anniversary. It was such a wonderful time with my adoptive Ohio family.

So, today was actually the first day of spring break. I fell asleep last night by 11:30pm, and was wide awake at 4:00am. I watched an episode of Little House on the Prairie, and then fell back asleep until 7:00am. I fed the pets, took my sugar, ate breakfast, swept the first floor, did a load of laundry, cleaned the kitchen and my desk tops – and was settled at my desk by 9:00am to write on the Lincoln musical.

By 1:30pm I was drained. I thought I’d take a quick power nap so I could watch Bewitchedat 2:00pm. However, I slept until 4:00pm. Jose went to work, and I worked. Flyer and I walked over to One Lincoln Park and walked home with Jose where the neighbor boy was waiting on Jose. Since they were playing XBox, I worked some more.

Tomorrow, I shall teach for four hours, and plan on taking Jose and his friend, Michael, to see a movie at Danburry.

Wednesday I have the entire day off but Jose works – so that shot any chance of us going out of town.

Thursday and Friday I will work at Trent Arena from 6:45am – 11:00pm for the WGI contest. Ugh! But it is a ton of money towards Jose’s band fees.

Saturday morning we will drive to Indiana to meet up with other family for Mother’s birthday dinner. We will spend the night at Mother’s and return home so Jose can work.

Then, Monday, April 6th (Mother’s birthday), I will hit everything full speed – The Pajama Game vocals, writing and editing on Love Is Eternal, perhaps some work on The Bird Let Loose, teaching, and trying to find extra time to spend with Jose during this very busy period. I suppose my weekends will be taken up with rehearsals for Beavercreek’s musical, with the exception of mid-April when I will work one last WGI competition. The production goes up the first weekend of May, and then it is on to all the concerts and events that pile into the last four weeks of the school year.

Ahh… time to rest and enjoy some television…

Another busy week behind us…

Beginning last Monday I was not feeling well, and my temperature hovered around 100-101 degrees. My sister-in-law, Stacia, had been taken ill with strep last weekend, and then my brother, Destin, got it this week. Their boys, Parker and Fred, have been up and down with this winter’s crud.

Some of my activities:

  1. finishing touches on ACTION Adoption’s display board for adoption fair
  2. taught lessons
  3. helped Jose with homework (he particularly asks me to help him study for history because, “Dad gives me a ton more information and makes it fun.”)
  4. helped Beavercreek show choir on Tuesday
  5. got cable installed Thursday (ugh… I hate addictions)

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Friday morning, I woke to discover the television still on The History Channel. So, at 6:00am, I watched MARRIED WITH CHILDREN, followed by a great History Channel documentary on The Declaration of Independence. I ran a few errands and got my hair cut, returning to my desk by 10:00am where I worked on the Wright Brothers’ musical for five hours while watching THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES, BEWITCHED, and THE WEST WING.

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Ahhh….  

Friday night, after I taught lessons, we drove to ACTION where Jose gave a remarkable presentation about his birth family’s experiences, foster care life, and being adopted. I am so proud of my son, and especially, his public speaking skills. Although it was somewhat informal, he was stellar! One family had been in a private meeting and entered about five minutes late; Jose paused while they got situated, smiling at the family the entire time. Then, he briefly introduced himself, and explained his topic. Brilliant, and so very considerate.

Upon our return, Jose hit his XBox, and I hit The History Channel for “The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln” and “Stealing Lincoln’s Body.” By 3:00am, I was asleep.

At 6:30am Saturday I was wide awake watching CNN… yes!

8:30am I was at the adoption fair setting up the display.

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At 10:30am I left the adoption fair and hurried to Fairmont’s Trent Arena where I worked the admission’s table for the WGI percussion competition. I got to work with Steve & Lorie Lamb, again, and a new couple that I also a new couple whose daughter will be a freshman next year. That certainly made my scheduled time of 11:00am- 7:00pm o fast.

While the contest was starting, bad weather had begun moving in from the north. Many parents from Toledo and Michigan had rough drives down to Kettering. When I left at 7:00pm, the driveway was iced, as were my car’s windows.

Jose and I went to supper at a Chinese buffet. I was still feeling uncomfortable, still. I returned to my bedroom with NOW, VOYAGER (1942) with Bette Davis. My grandmother always loved Bette Davis, and I remembered her telling me this was one of her favorite movies. It was very good, and of course, it was scored by one of my two favorite film composers, Max Steiner, who scored GONE WITH THE WIND (my other favorite is John Williams).

This morning I woke with CNN, and waited for a telephone call to see if I would be needed for the finals round of the percussion competition. While fixing an egg white omelet, Jose came downstairs, feeling miserable. I took his temperature and he had a 102 fever. He retreated to the basement with a half gallon of orange juice, after taking some meds. I had him call his manager at One Lincoln Park, and instructed him to drink the OJ and tons of water.

My head is congested, but the Mucinex is keeping it flowing… yuk!

I am propped up in bed, listening to Robert Schuller, ready to work on the Wright Brothers’ musical. Flyer is snuggled next to me (she pulls down the sham and pillows on the passenger side, and props her head up to watch television), and Logan is on my lap, curled up under the hospital table on which my laptop is situated… this hospital table was one of my best purchases – allowing me to work from my bed late at night or early in the morning – or on lazy Sunday mornings.

 I have three students this afternoon beginning at 4:00pm. And I hope to spend the evening resting with… well, cable.

 

The long, long weekend is over…

If parents work shifts at the Winter Guard International (WGI) or percussion contests, money will be applied towards your child’s marching band account. So, I volunteered for Saturday. Kathy Symes, the parent coordinator, and one of my favorite band moms (I haven’t forgotten you, Jill Chabut!) asked me earlier in the week if I could work all day Saturday, and all day Sunday.

Sure!

Saturday morning  I left the Haasienda at 8:30am to walk to Trent Arena on the other side of the high school, while chatting with Mother briefly on the telephone.

trent-arena-ext

Trent Arena on the Kettering Fairmont High School campus.

Saturday, from 9:00am until 7:00pm I worked the admissions table. The couple who assisted me on the first shift, Steve and Lorie, were an absolute blast. They both grew up in Fairborn. Steve was in the military, and they lived in multiple locations before moving to Kettering.  Their daughter is a trombone player, and a sophomore. Steve and Lorie could not be more adorable!

The afternoon shift flew by – though, my partners at the admission table were not as exciting. However, I got to see several friends from Ball State, and by the day’s end my stomach muscles were sore from holding them in every time I ran into someone from college!

I joked around with the guests coming in for the day – putting on their paper bracelets – alot more fun than handling money which I hate (instant math!). I got tons of laughs from the people as I explained the paper wrist wraps were compliments of James Free Jewelers, and that everyone from a one hundred mile radius was flocking in to buy one. The winter guard students assured us that you could wear the bracelets in the shower for three months before they rotted off.

Now, if you have never been to a WGI event, you are missing some fun experiences. They are so different than show choir contests. Winter guard and percussion ensembles seem, to me, to be completely made up of a different type of teenager. Many guards have teen boys in them, and the open or world class guards have a number of guys in them. There were a ton of male choreographers in attendance, both as staff, and in the audience. And perhaps 90% of the men in attendance for these events are gay, or heterosexually challenged.

Now – having set up the flavor of the event…

This one lady entered the lobby, and she was dressed To The Nines! Sharp. She unbuttoned her coat, revealing an ample bosom. However, the ample bosom was quite exposed as the neckline descended in a long “V” ending just above her navel. As she paid her money I could not stop staring at how freely they seemed to dangle, apparently unaccompanied by a sturdy undergarment. After paying for her entry fee, she moved to my end of the table, offering her wrist for me to wrap the paper bracelet. Upon closer inspection it was terribly obvious that she was not wearing a bra, as “Twirly and Whirly” were about to Samba right on out of her sheer, black blouse (which, come on… not appropriate for this type of event!).

The mother sitting next to me waited politely until the woman had left the table, and then grabbed my arm with the most astonished look on her face. Thank heavens I was not the only one to have witnessed “the twins.”

“Why would she wear such a top to a high school function?” my admission table partner asked.

“Well, if you ask me,” I replied, “if she is here to pick up a man, this is the WRONG place to find one in this crowd!”

Botticelli or da Vinci could have taken their easels and made a day out of it with some angel or Madonna painting!

Jose worked from 2:00pm-7:00pm, and by the time I arrived home Saturday night I was dead to the world – but could not rest. I remember TWO AND A HALF MEN coming on at 11:30pm, but I don’t recall anything after that until I woke up at 4:30am. I coaxed my self back to sleep until 6:30am.

Sunday, I walked back to the high school at 8:15am (while chatting again with Mother) and was in an entirely different position. Instead of sitting and enjoying people, I was inside Trent Arena at the very top, coordinating all the judges’ score sheets and the hand-held digital recorders. I had two students to work the balcony and floor, but I still managed to climb up and down the bleacher steps a good 60 times. There were a few times I just did not know if the heart was going to keep up with me… but with some encouragement, and some medication, we made those steps look carefree.

trent-arean-int

The shows were interesting, and incredibly delightful. I managed to squeeze in one restroom break between 9:30am-3:30pm. I know, from years of experience, to pack items on which I can work when board, and snacks. I was a good little boyscout. And I ripped through some chunks of the Wright Brothers’ musical.

Towards the end, an elderly couple entered – he looked every  bit the grandfather, and she was dazzling. The WGI staff was making quite a stir about them, reminding me of Len Thomas and Brian Breed tripping over themselves to get to Virginia Waring – the wife of Fred Waring – when we were having a cocktail party at Penn State in 1984 prior to the television taping of Fred Waring’s America. Eventually, the couple moved near me, taking seats set up on the indoor track around the arena balcony.

The lady turned, looked at me… smiled. I returned the smile. She looked familiar but I was so tired that I could not place where I knew her.

During a break between guards, she smiled again, and then I recognized her!

Marlene Miller.

Fred J. Miller, and his beautiful wife, Marlene, have one of the number one band clinic organizations, and band uniform/equipment companies in the nation, and headquartered right here in South Dayton. They are co-presidents of their family run business, and their three children are the vice-presidents. The Fred J. Miller drum-major clinics are fantastic, and they also provide many of the same clinics as Smith-Wallbridge Clinics with which I was associated in high school and college.

millers

Fred & Marlene Miller, and their three children.

As Mr. & Mrs. Miller and I chatted, I discovered they were good friends with one of Elwood’s most prominent choreographers, Tudy Smith. Tudy was one of the nation’s foremost baton twirlers, and her daughter, Selita, was Purdue’s Golden Girl. For many years, the Elwood Variety Shows sparkled under the brilliant designs of Mrs. Smith, and her musical companions, Clifford Brugger and Rex Jenkins, band legends in Indiana. Tudy was also the choreographer for the Miss America pageant in Atlantic City for many years. A sweet, beautiful and wonderfully classy lady!

tudy_smith

Tudy Smith

Fred J. Miller, and Tudy had also served as presidents of the United States Twirling Association (USTA) throughout the years. Mrs. Miller told me that Tudy had just been inducted to the Twirling Hall of Fame.

I had the best chat with the Millers, who delighted in sharing that they were celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, and that they had met, and fell in love at Smith-Wallbridge Drum-major Camp in Syracuse, Indiana. We discussed all the familiar names of Dr. Charles Henzie, Merl Smith, Margaret Smith, Gary Smith… great teachers in my drum-major days!

By 3:00pm the contest was completed, and the awards were given.

I stayed to help with tear down, and clean up, and then dragged my very tired, aching body home.

However, by 6:30pm I was sweeping the house in preparation for the teaching week, folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, and prepping my weekly calendar. I received a note from Valerie Lockhart – Mike’s father passed away this morning. Just after reading her email at 7:30pm, Jose called from work so I could pick him up and drive him to SIGNS youth group.

While he was at SIGNS, I ran to Dollar General to get paper items, and then to Meijers to get groceries. By 8:30pm I was back at the YMCA (where SIGNS is held), and home by 9:00pm. We unloaded groceries, and I baked a cake for my neighbor lady’s birthday, some brownies for the Lockharts, and prepped some food for this week since it will be a BUSY week.

Monday thru Thursdays are my busiest days as I have 12-14 students each day, and only 8 on Fridays. My Friday students have been squeezed into the other four days this week since we have school off this Friday for the long Presidents’ Day weekend. Tuesday night I will cut out slightly earlier than normal to work with Beavercreek High School’s show choir.

And on top of all this… a theatre director has indicated interest in the Wright Brothers’ musical to see if it might be something a local, and reputable theatre company could produce. So… while it is so nice to have this nibble, there is certainly no assurance of a production. But, I am hopeful, and working like the Devil to tie up some loose ends.

Hopefully, Friday Jose and I will be able to fully celebrate his birthday which was January 14th. With show choir contests, youth group events, WGI contest, and other items, we have not been able to celebrate his 17th birthday.

This week our weather is expected to be in the 40’s and 50’s… beautiful! I am hoping to squeeze in some walking time… just where is yet to be determined. I do some of my best writing while walking!

It is now 11:18pm and I am signing off and heading to bed… I WANT MY BED!!!

Much love to all!

PS. Just as I was ready to sign off, Jose came in to show me he had been upstairs working on homework. He realized that he had forgotten a biology assignment of 69 questions. He said, “I was so exhausted and was wanting to go to bed, but I knew the right thing was to get the assignment done.”

YES!

So, for nearly 45 minutes, we talked about academics, life, adoption, and how far he has come these past five years. My son is finally kicking in to the academics, and realizing his great potential!

And though I am still terribly tired, I have an energy surging through me that is nothing more than the knowledge of the blessings I feel at this moment…

I cannot believe Friday is upon us, yet, I am so thrilled it is here.
 
Last Friday I had breakfast/lunch with Bill Hetzer, and taught the remainder of the afternoon. After teaching, I went in to watch TWO AND A HALF MEN, and the next thing I know Jose was waking me for a telephone call.
 
Saturday and Sunday were relaxing days with DVD’s, some errands, a movie (GRAND TORINO – which I strongly recommend!), dinner at Roosters, and more DVD’s.
 
This week has been swamped with slipping students in to every available slot – auditions for high school musicals, and college music/musical theatre programs. I have taught early, and very late.
 
There were several students, not in audition mode, who graciously traded with seniors, or gave up fifteen minutes of their own lesson time so another auditioning student could spend 15 minutes with me. It was so neat to see the studio working together. I have several saxophone students who received scholarships from Bowling Green State University, as well as two voice students at the same school. One of my top dogs received a full ride academic scholarship at Miami University, as well as a fantastic music scholarship.
 
Jose was accepted into the digital design program – a three hour class – for next year. It is a pretty competitive class, and I have had a number of students go through that program. It is really a great opportunity.
 
Friday evening I will meet with some good friends from Beavercreek at Mama DiSalvos. It has become a favorite haunt for the four of us. .
 
Saturday and Sunday I will be living at the high school’s Trent Arena for the percussion ensemble contest. I will be working the admissions table, and the hours I work will go towards Jose’s marching band fees. I will be there Saturday from 9:00am-9:00pm, and Sunday from 7:00am-6:00pm. The lady in charge of assembling the work crew is a parent of one of my students, and she is so much fun… she asked if I would work the entire weekend. If Jose also comes over to work, we might have close to $200 of his band fees paid off. I believe I am scheduled to work another weekend, as well. It will be a LONG weekend, but the end result of band fees being paid off is wonderful.
 
The coming week holds more college auditions. So, more late nights, and more days running to one or two schools to grab extra time with students during their choir or band classes.
 
Thursday, February 12th, is President Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday celebration. I would give anything to be in Springfield, Illinois, or even in Hodgenville, Kentucky where he was born. I will hopefully have time to make cupcakes for students on that day. Some already have it figured out that Mr. Haas will probably have good stuff that day and have asked to reschedule!
 
Jose is preparing for a speaking engagement. Several months ago, I brought him in for a few minutes to speak to one of my adoption training classes at ACTION, and he brought the house down. The parents loved him. He was asked to speak to the on-going training in the larger room. I know it pays between $75 and $150 to the guest speakers we bring in, and ACTION will pay him for this. He will have approximately 2 hours to speak and answer questions. Jose does a remarkable job when speaking on adoption issues – birth family, foster family, and the transition into adoptive life. I think they will probably tape it, and I may take my video recorder to take him. One of the neatest things was last summer, after he had spent a month with Destin & Stacia, and their sons, in Fowler, Indiana… one of the parents in my training class asked him, “What can we do to make sure we are good parents?” Jose, without missing a beat, said, “Well, if you could be like my Aunt Stacia, you would be perfect.” And he proceeded to describe some of her parenting techniques. I am excited that he has this opportunity to keep sharing his story.
 
Right now, I am going to watch a movie with Jose. I had an hour break this evening, so we grabbed our bowls of spaghetti and watched some movies on German concentration camps. Jose is studying WWII, and we have been doing extra movies and Internet research – he really digs this era. Tonight, we are watching SCHINDLER’S LIST – a movie I have not seen.

By Jessica Wehrman

Staff Writer

Sunday, December 14, 2008

WASHINGTON — House Minority Leader John Boehner, ever the wiseacre, was quick with a funny when the Ohio congressional delegation started working to get the Ohio State University Marching Band into Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.

He suggested that the delegation offer up U.S. Rep. Pat Tiberi, R-Columbus to dot the “i” in Script Ohio as the band marched down Pennsylvania Avenue.

Call it a congressional incentive.

That said, at least Tiberi would know his stuff.

From 1981 through 1984, he marched with the Ohio State Marching Band. His last game was the Rose Bowl in 1985 during the Earl Bruce era.

“We should’ve won,” he recalls. “But we lost.”

Tiberi said he applied for colleges in the early 1980s knowing that he wanted to march for Ohio State’s band. He spent much of his college career practicing with, marching with or performing in the band.

“It was very time-consuming, very competitive but it was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “It’s a lot more than the experience of the music and marching. It’s a life-changing experience. It built lifelong friendships. I learned a lot about teamwork and discipline.”

Being in band has also given him rewards he never expected.

A few years back, he listened in a Republican conference meeting as a colleague urged cutting music and arts funding. “You don’t learn anything in music,” the colleague told a roomful of House Republicans. “You don’t learn anything in art.”

Tiberi stood up and disagreed.

He told them that the lessons he learned in the best damn band in the land were invaluable.

Afterwards, then-House Speaker Dennis Hastert pulled him aside and told Tiberi he had an opening for a Republican on the council that advises the National Endowment of the Arts, and said he wanted Tiberi to fill that opening. Tiberi’s served on the board ever since.

Tiberi has also advocated to get the band in four inaugural parades since the 1980s.

The first time he helped them was in 1988. Tiberi was an aide to then-U.S. Rep. John Kasich, and worked with Kasich to advocate for the band, and they marched when George Herbert Walker Bush was inaugurated.

In 2000, Tiberi got to help them again. It was his first year in Congress. When the band was picked, he arranged tours and spoke to the floor. He did it in 2004 as well.

This year, he wrote a letter. “I cannot overstate my firm confidence in the band’s ability to enhance the ceremonies surrounding the inauguration of our next President of the United States.”

The band was selected. They’ll march Jan. 20.

But Tiberi, alas, won’t be dotting the “i.” Along with other members of the House, he’ll have lunch with the new president instead.

This morning, I read this post on Elwood’s internet site. This particular post read:
 
In response to Obama’s complaint that FOX News doesn’t show enough Black and Hispanic people on their network, FOX Network has announced that they will now air ‘America ‘s Most Wanted’ TWICE a week.
What hit me, perhaps for the first time, is that my son will probably have to deal with certain profilings once he leaves the comfort of Kettering where the name Jolliffe-Haas is unknown.
 
I wrote the individual who posted the first comment:
 
Hello,
I was reading segments of Willkie’s Pride and ran across a an item you had posted regarding FOX News.
 
I grew up in Elwood, Indiana, and like so many when I ventured beyond Elwood’s borders, was always trying to shed the stereotypical beliefs about Elwood’s racism. Throughout college, Black students I’d meet would always act hesitant at first, and eventually ask me about my views, mostly in regard to the Ku Klux Klan.
 
In 2004, I adopted a 12 year old Hispanic boy, Jose. Today, at nearly 17 years, my handsome young son is:
  • a good student,
  • a member of the percussion ensemble,
  • a member of this past season’s marching band – in which he had a featured percussion moment/solo,
  • sings in the high school’s concert choir,
  • attends church,
  • is a member of a fantastic youth group,
  • and works in the dining service of a very posh retirement community where he has become respected and loved by a number of the retirees – several of which are retired band directors and my friends.

Jose is adored by his teachers, youth leaders, employers and many other adults who praise his wonderful personality, good manners and courtesy, his kind and thoughtful nature, and his tremendous sense of humor.

Normally, I am not a sensitive individual, nor am I without humor.

However, this morning’s post regarding Hispanic’s and African Americans seemed to smack at the very principles many of us from Elwood have tried to uphold throughout the years regarding Elwood’s racist mentality. I, for one, do not always yield to the current phrase of “political correctness” as it has – in my opinion – gone a bit too far at times. But this morning, I realized I was no longer a former citizen of Elwood fighting stereotypes. This morning I discovered I am the proud father of a young Hispanic son who will probably always battle racial profiling.

This morning I discovered just how sensitive I was to a post that indicated Hispanics were common fodder for “America’s Most Wanted.” I am not ignorant to the various ethnicities and the problems that plague so many. I am also not ignorant of the fact that in Elwood, most of the heinous crimes (murder, rape, child molest) are conducted by mostly Caucasian individuals.

Due to the fact that my son shares the same ethnicity indicated in your post, I have come to understand the great uphill battle that lies before me as a parent.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against drugs.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against tobacco use.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against alcohol.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against sex.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is not against gangs.

My biggest battle as the parent of a teenage Hispanic son is with people – even from my own home town – and elsewhere throughout our nation – that do not see the harm in racial profiling. Because my son is Hispanic, he is relegated to third, or fourth, or fifth class status as an American citizen.

Your post this morning opened my eyes a great deal to the work in education that must be accomplished, both for my son, and for individuals who cannot comprehend sensitivity for other nationalities, or ethnicities. My son, no longer in a neglectful birth-family home, and no longer a responsibility of the child welfare system, has a marvelous life that most 16 year old boys would love to have. As his parent, I will see to it that he continues to grow and mature, understanding how to rise above, and beyond, the tremendous wall of unkind, racist views that will probably confront him throughout his adult life simply because he was born of a race that is not Caucasian.

Since I apparently am not equipped to educate my son fully in these areas, I forwarded today’s post Re: FOX News to the NAACP and several Hispanic organizations, asking advice on how I, as a parent of a young Hispanic boy, can better educate my son on the racial profiling that will  certainly haunt him throughout his life.

Until this morning, I simply thought I was the proud father of a great young man. Tonight, I realize I am the proud father of a son who will be categorized a failure, even a criminal in the minds of many — simply because he had the great misfortune to be born of a race so different from mine, and that of a community in which I grew up.

Sincerely…

 
This makes me want to push Jose even harder at being an even stronger student and invidual.
 
 

It is 10:55pm and we are home from a semi-cold, blustery day on the marching field.

Yesterday, we had no marching band or other commitments. Jose and I did the traditional end-of-marching-season dinner – he chose Golden Corral (not my choice), and then we went to the mall so he could go to Game Stop. I chatted with Mother on the phone while he shopped. Afterward, we went to Buy Backs – a neat place to purchase used DVD’s or CD’s.

Jose went to a Haunted Cave in Lewisburg, Ohio with his youth group, and I worked at home.

This morning I lounged in bed with my laptop, and finally rose to fix an delicious egg white omelet. I showered and drove to UD’s Welcome Stadium to watch several of my drum-majors in their last performance on a marching field.

I drove to Meijer for a few items, grabbed some sandwiches from Rally’s, and hurried home with ten minutes to spare before Jose had to be at the high school.  I also jotted down a few notes for the Fairmont band director, informing him of some of the difficulties other bands were having with the very strong wind – rifle and flag tosses not landing where expected, hats and plumes blowing off, guard skirts providing Marilyn Monroe moments, and props collapsing on the field.

After Jose left, I framed and hung a neat print – signed by the artist, Paul Melia. The print, a wonderful gift from the Salchak family, is MANNDED FLIGHT – 100. It features the Wright Flyer, both Wright Brothers and about 30 planes, along with the stealth bomber. It proudly hangs in my study.

I also put plastic up to the windows in my bedroom and study. Tomorrow I will grab Jose’s room since the western windows receive a good deal of wind. Already tonight, with the great wind, they have already paid off.

At 7:00pm, Jill Chabut picked me up and we had a great chat en route to Welcome Stadium. The wind had died down, but the dark clouds hung in the sky threatening a down pour – and our theme was CLOUDBURST! Fortunately, we had no natural special effects.

Jill Chabut

The band was wonderful and received a Superior (I) rating. A wonderful way to end the season.

Jill and I had another great chat about spirituality on the way home. She is such a neat spirit, and I enjoy my time with her. Jill is also Jose’s youth leader, and he loves being with Jill and her children, Ali and Neil. Ali is in band with Jose, and Neil was one of the percussion instructors for marching band.

The Chabut children (Craig, Ali, Neil) when I met them in 1996; and the Chabut children (Neil, Ali, Craig) today. Neil is at UD, and also works with the high school marching percussion; Ali is a junior, and is in band; and Craig is at Ball State. Some of the nicest kids you could ever meet!

The band unloaded the truck, and everything was put away. Since it was late, there was no party as last year. It was somewhat odd not having some closure.

Tuesday night is the band concert and the grand finale is the marching band plowing down the aisles with the fight song. They assemble on stage and play the show one last time. So, I will have one more opportunity to hear Jose’s “ding.”

Jose & the “ding” heard round the world!

 

One of my favorite hours each week is listening to Dr. Robert Schuller on THE HOUR OF POWER. In the 1970’s, while in elementary school, my grandfather introduced me to Dr. Schuller – one of my grandfather’s favorite writers. I figured Grandpa liked Dr. Schuller because he was a minister. However, one day, when I was in junior high, I was questioning whether I would have a chance to succeed to the high school’s drum-major position because of various concerns. My grandfather pointed out that “faith” and “positive thinking” were the best tools I could ever possess. He walked over to an entertainment unit and pulled out one of his books written by Dr. Robert Schuller. I was introduced to “positive thinking.” My grandfather bought me two books by Norman Vincent Peale and Robert Schuller when I was in the 8th grade. A few months later I became drum-major.

Those two books?

They traveled with me through college moves, the move to Dayton, and the five moves since moving to Dayton in 1990. Today they are in my living room on bookshelves I made my self because I had confidence I could build them! My first bookshelves at age 40! On each of those book shelves are letters that spell out “BELIEVE” and “ACHIEVE”. Not only do they remind myself, and my son, but they remind anyone who enters our home.

Today, Dr. Robert Schuller gave one of the most fantastic messages, and I am including it in this post. Though I do not buy into some of the doctrinal rhetoric, his message is brilliant and inspiring.

                                                                                                                 

I have four faith points that hopefully you will not forget.
(1) Faith is a fact, not a fantasy.
(2) Faith is a force, not a value.
(3) Faith is a decision, not a debate.
(4) Faith is a commitment, not an argument.

If you have read some of my 36 books, you know that I keep coming back to the subject of leadership again, and again, and again. I am a strong believer that we each need to use leadership to meet the challenges that life throws at us. But most of us are not educated, trained, or motivated to be leaders. That’s because the people who influenced us want us to be their followers. So our peers are tempted more often than not to see us as their followers more than as their leader.

Leaders are not what most of us are called to be; yet in the final analysis nobody else will set your dreams for you. Nobody else can kill your dream. One of my books is entitled, “If It’s Going To Be, It’s Up To Me.” That’s being a leader and we desperately need that in our private, personal lives and in all of the institutions in our countries. The quality of leadership … but what is leadership?

Leadership is the force that sets the goals and addresses the problems. Leadership is a force, and that force is the force of faith.

St. Paul, the author of the Hebrews, introduces the subject of faith in Chapter 11 this way: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for … the evidence of things not seen …”

Then in verse 6 he writes: “For without faith it is impossible to please God. For he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

That text was assigned to me by my professor when I was a student in theological school. Each of us had to prepare a sermon, which had to be delivered to the entire student body and faculty for their review and critique. Those words from St. Paul still impact me today with faith power, along with the mountain moving words of Jesus Christ from Matthew 17:20, “If you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you can say to your mountain ‘move,’ and nothing will be impossible to you.”

Just a little bit of faith, but where does it lead? An idea goes through your head and you grab hold of it carefully, prayerfully, and you listen to that idea. When you do that, you become not just a follower, but a leader. I hear again and again in life that leaders are those who have the right degrees, the right credentials, the right resume, the right experience, but often they become trapped in professionalism. Then they are not leaders. Leaders haven’t been brainwashed – “this will work” … “that won’t work.” In that kind of thinking, they become followers because they are basically impossibility thinkers.

Leaders are possibility thinkers. They say, “What’s the problem? How can it be solved?” They don’t say it can’t be solved. No, their attitude is … Anything is possible. They may not have the answers, but they find answers. They go for the answers and make it happen, because they’ve got drive, passion, practicality and positive thinking! That’s leadership!

You can be a leader and that’s what our world needs. Think … think … think. But start with faith. Faith makes leaders.

(1) Faith is a fact, not a fantasy.

Now early in my life in ministry when I met with important people who didn’t believe in God or religion, they would always put me down very swiftly. Now I was not an honor student, but I was a national debate student, an elected member of the Phi Kappa Delta, the National Honoree Forensic Society. I thought I was good at debate, but when unbelievers would debate me with an argument on faith, I backed away. I thought I’d lose the debate so I wouldn’t go there.

I’d hear their argument against faith, “Schuller, you say you believe in God and all that stuff. It’s all based on assumptions.” And I remained quiet because I didn’t want to say ‘yes’ and I was thinking, “Maybe my faith is based on assumptions.”

Finally, I agree with them. My faith is all based on assumptions … but I say to the unbeliever, “Your unbelief is all based on assumptions also!”

Atheism is a negative assumption in an impossibility thinker’s brain. Theism is a positive assumption in a believer’s mind. I don’t think any of us ever make a single decision without basing it on assumptions that we don’t even understand are a part of the process. You assume the chair will hold you. If you are a scientist, and many of my friends are, you assume that the research is accurate. Maybe it is, but you assume that the sources were reliable. And you’re assuming that the newest discoveries haven’t invalidated what was published to be fact. The truth is the human being is an assumption-managed person, positive or negative! That’s reality.

That means assumption is nothing more than faith. Faith is accepting as truth something that you cannot prove and you’ve got to make a decision one way or another. And that means all human beings are assumption managed so we are really living in the realm of faith all the time, believers and unbelievers alike. So faith becomes a scientific reality in the mental processing.
(1) Faith is not fantasy … it’s a fact of managing human living.

(2) Faith is a force, not a value.

Faith in itself has no value. It’s neither good nor evil, but it is powerful for good or evil! The terrorists who flew those planes into the twin towers had faith. They believed in terror. They were driven by assumptions of the power of evil to serve their cause. Faith in itself has no value. The value comes in what you choose to place your faith in.

If you place your faith in goodness, God, Jesus Christ, you have the power to change the world and become a saint. Then since we’re all naturally faith creatures (and God planned it that way) we are to relate to God and the only way you could possibility relate to God if God remains invisible.

My friend, Arnold Schwarzenegger, is worshiping with us again. He is a celebrity. He can’t go anywhere without everybody around him grabbing at him, surrounding him and he is only Arnold Schwarzenegger. But can you imagine what would happen if God Almighty or Jesus Christ, were here in flesh and bones? The ultimate reality is that God in Jesus Christ has to remain invisible so we can each relate to Him in our own way.

(3) Faith is a decision, not a debate.

Don’t debate me about what I believe about God, Jesus Christ, the Bible, holiness, courage and leadership principles. I won’t debate my belief because I can’t prove to you that I’m absolutely right. I simply made a decision.

I have studied the Bible. I have studied the Ten Commandments and I believe they are given to us to keep us from getting into trouble so they’re a blessing. I’ve studied Jesus Christ. I’ve studied what I believe about the Christian church. There is no other institution on planet earth that specializes in encouraging people to be emotionally healthy, hopeful, optimistic, courageous, brave, cheerful, generous and kind! So Christianity will never go out of style!

I’ve chosen to believe in God and I’ve often said, “If moments before I pass away, someone would say to me, ‘there’s strong new evidence that there is no God. What do you say to that, Schuller?'” I would reply, “I’d believe in Him even if you could almost prove to me that He didn’t exist. I want God. I need God. I look at the good life God has given me. I wouldn’t never not believe. It’s a decision! I’ll live and die on that.”

(4) Faith is a commitment … not an argument.

So finally, faith is a commitment … not an argument. I made my commitment to Jesus Christ.

Leadership:
(1) Faith is a fact, not a fantasy! Faith is driving you, for good or ill.
(2) Faith is a force … not a value … not a debate.
(3) Faith is a decision, you need to make.
(4) Faith is a commitment … not an argument.

You need to make a decision. Make a commitment. Forget the argument. Focus on your natural instincts to live on assumptions and focus your assumptions on Jesus Christ. Where are you at? God has a plan for your life, absolutely. Have faith … for without faith, life is impossible.

 

At 12:05am the five buses carrying the marching band passed in front of the house. I was standing on the front steps smoking my pipe and letting Flyer explore the symphony of smells in the front yard when they passed. Bringing up the rear was Mike Berning, the band director, and his family, honking as they passed.

This week was just incredibly busy. I worked my butt off, but always seemed to be behind in accomplishing all I wished. My email is backed up a mile long, but the study and rest of the house is organized and efficient.

Today I woke after a semi-restful sleep, and plowed right into writing and researching on the Wright Brothers’ musical. I took some time out during lunch to read up on the economy and some of the boiling political issues. At 2:00pm my first student arrived, and at 5:15pm my last student was leaving – an early night with one student ill, and another on a college visit.

I ate some rice, broccoli and cheese casserole, and green beans, and relaxed with two episodes of TWO AND A HALF MEN – one of my favorite shows.

At 8:00pm I dove into the musical writing, and edited a good deal. 11:15pm, I was trying to tackle one particular scene with no success. An email from my lyricist, Gail, who now lives in California, arrived, offering some suggestions to the very scene that had been giving me fits for over an hour. With a few more emails, I knew which direction we should take and by midnight I was sending off the latest draft through the miracle of the internet.

Gail Whipple – another Oscar Hammerstein II

Around 12:20am I walked Flyer over to the performing arts wing and met up with Jose. It is a beautiful evening, just a little chilly – but still nice.

Tomorrow we will run some errands and try to find something fun to do together until it is time to head over to the stadium for the marching band invitational hosted by Fairmont. We will probably be tripping in after midnight.

In two weeks the marching band season will conclude, and Jose and I shall hopefully have more time together. I so enjoy my time with him, and his humor and cheery disposition is a great comfort. In a few years, it will just be me, Flyer and Logan, unless I adopt more sons.

Today is Eleanor Roosevelt’s birthday… what a great lady! Even Jose has one of her quotes posted above his bed.

It is 11:35pm on a Wednesday night and I am finally winding down after a full, productive day. After thinking through all I have accomplished I feel like I have competed with my cousin, Dana, who seems to cram four days into one.

This was my Wednesday:

6:00am     Woke up on my own; began reading my daily newsletters from BeliefNet and theatre groups

6:30am     Cleaned living room ceiling fan, mirrors, dishes

7:00am     Dusted living room, study and bedroom; washed dishes

7:30am     Berry green tea, Cheerios (heart healthy); put chicken thighs on to boil; folded two baskets of laundry

8:00am     At desk writing on Wright Bros’ musical, while watching a DVD on Wrights

11:30am   Deboned chicken; made salad; watched a Netflix DVD on Anthony Robbins

12:30pm   Reorganized the closet in my study, brought down a book case from Jose’s room for my study; reorganized some of my book cases in my study

1:00pm     Took a nap

1:30pm     Afternoon Emails and newsletters

2:30pm     Started spaghetti and sauce; showered & dressed

2:45pm    Finished spaghetti; cleaned the bathroom

3:15pm    Talked to Jose

3:30pm    Began teaching

4:00pm    Had an unscheduled break – watched OPRAH…

Today’s show was on ways to save money during this economic crises. One family described how they cut down their electric bill from $150 per month to $50 each month by unplugging unnecessary items. Hmm… good idea. During this break I reconfigured the living room so that the entertainment unit and all but the torch lamps are on a timer from 2:30pm-8:30pm each day. I may change this so that I just unplug it so that it is off on the weekends, too.

5:00pm    Resumed teaching

8:30pm    Finished last student; grabbed some spaghetti while chatting with Jose just home from work

9:00pm    Began reconfiguring my study’s electrical items; only computer remains plugged in 24/7 and monitor is turned off when not in use (generally do this); Jose and I redid the basement and kitchen

10:00pm  Jose and I sat and talked in the study; his girlfriend called and he chatted with her while I redid the electric items in my bedroom

11:00pm  Jose took care of electrics in his room; I finished some late nite items with business, washed more dishes and cleaned the counters

And the day is done… I feel invigorated, and slightly tired; however, the mind is still going strong. Flyer is snuggled next to me on the passenger side of the bed, and Logan is on my legs while I type on my laptop which is situated on a hospital table. I had to turn up the television volume to hear Letterman’s Top Ten because Flyer is snoring loudly.

Tomorrow, Thursday, is an exceptionally busy day:

  • I will connect with my co-writers
  • hopefully accomplish a good deal of writing
  • start teaching at 1:00pm-6:00pm (my shortest day)
  • run some errands
  • relax until Jose returns home from marching band around 9:30pm

We spend most of our evenings chatting, not even watching television. It is a wonderful relationship, and we enjoy one another’s company tremendously.

All I can say is, “WOW!”

In 1979, at Smith-Wallbridge Drum Major Camp, instructor Gary Smith, then the director of the Marching Illni of University of Illinois, showed us a film of The Ohio State Marching Band performing the legendary Script OHIO. I was enthralled! As I held the video camera watching the most phenomenal drum-major ever, leading these band through the flawless routine, I realized I had tears in my eyes. While most were clapping and cheering, I was moved.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rPNnIFH6_RU&feature=related

The best part is when the drum-major leads the sousaphone player across the field after finishing the last “o” – it is incredible! The drum-major struts to the “i” and smacks the end of his signal baton on the spot where the sousaphone player has the honor of “dotting the i.”

The Fairmont Firebirds has their own Script BIRDS, identical to Script OHIO, and it will mean even more to me after seeing the “real thing.”

Finally, 29 years later, I got to personally witness this spectacular event.

Saturday the Marching Firebirds competed with thirty-two other bands at the OSU football stadium. Impressive!

While the tabulation was finishing up, the Marching Buckeyes took the field for one of the most exciting moments in marching band enthusiasm I have ever known.

This past week, my dear friend, Bill Hetzer, who, with his wife, Kay, is experiencing a difficult family crises, wrote to me the words from the OSU alma mater, “Carmen Ohio” – “The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely truly show, how firm thy friendship … OHIO!” This touched a little deeper as “Carmen Ohio” shares the same melody as a popular Methodist hymn, “Come, Christians, Join To Sing” – the opening song for their 16yo son’s funeral in 1997.

As I walked from the stadium, talking to Bill on the telephone, I stopped to look down at the field and in my mind played the arrangement that can be heard on this clip:

http://www.scarletandgray.info/osu/songs/carmen_ohio.html

Carmen Ohio

Oh come let’s sing Ohio’s praise
And songs to Alma Mater raise
While our hearts rebounding thrill
With joy which death alone can still
Summer’s heat or winter’s cold
The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely (truly) show
How firm thy friendship … OHIO!

Though age may dim our mem’ry’s store
We’ll think of happy days of yore
True to friend and frank to foe
As sturdy sons of Ohio
If on seas of care we roll
Neath blackened sky or barren shoal
Thoughts of thee bid darkness go
Dear Alma Mater…OHIO!

http://www.scarletandgray.info/osu/songs/carmen_ohio.html

 

When you finish reading this, you must read my friend’s blog… Jeff Carter had a fun time at his own license branch.

Saturday I searched in vain on the internet to find the DMV’s hours. I could not even locate a telephone number for the Centerville branch. I arrived at 2:01pm – they closed at 2:00pm.

This morning, I left the house after Jose headed off to school, arriving at 7:53am. I sat in the parking lot and at 7:58am seven cars zoomed in – and I mean ZOOMED. The parking spaces around me filled up and immediately, people were out of their cars. I brought the average age in the parking lot down to 80 years. I am certain a few actually remembered starting the car with the crank! These people were in the building before I even got out of my car, and one lady was on a walker.

Inside, everything moved fast and by 8:04am I was having my photo taken. I asked the lady if the DMV had a special where you could have Christmas card photos made from your license photo… no.

I sat down to wait with four others who just had their photos taken. The lady on the walker was complaining because they were taking so long! The two men on either side of her agreed. I sat there smiling to myself. The gentleman next to me began chatting and I learned he grew up in Alexandria, Indiana which is about seven miles from where I grew up.

In less than a minute they called my name. The three complainers were aggrevated that I already had mine. As the lady handed me mine I heard her say, “Oh, no! A malfunction.”

The walker lady bellowed, “Why did he get his before we got ours?”

The lady tried to explain, and then apologized for the malfunction. I started past the lady and she asked, “Why did you get yours first?”

I smiled and said, “There’s not as many wrinkles to touch on my photo.”

All four were slapping their legs and howling.

I pulled out of the DMV and headed to the National City Bank. I had lived in this particular Centerville neighborhood for eight years and could not believe how much it had grown with all the new businesses. It was mostly open fields from 1995-2002. I waited in line, looking for the ATM. I decided I would just do the window.

I pulled up to the window, noticing there were no machines to suck the money into the bank. The window opened and the lady, dressed in a cute shirt and sun viser asked, “How may I help you?”

I said I wanted to make a deposit… her face contorted, and then she began howling.

“This is Starbucks, now.”

I drove off without getting an order…

At 9:00am my neighbor lady, Kay, took me to breakfast to celebrate my birthday at First Watch. We had a delightful time and then walked over to Tuesday Morning.

Tonight, I will head up to Wayne High School to join Loretta Henderson and her daughter, Mara, for the Wayne vs. Fairmont game. Her oldest daughter, Kayla, is the team manager, but I am sure I will see her. Uncle Darin always seems to be a hit with these two darlings. Loretta and I were at KMS together, and she is now a principal in Tipp City.

Saturday is a tailgate picnic for the band, and then a contest at the OSU stadium in Columbus. I have never been to this sacred site, and am excited to do so.

Another enjoyable week.

Monday I reunited with a former student with whom I lost contact 20 years ago. His family was wonderful to me during my Muncie days, and Nathan was always one of my favorite former students. In short, his mother has been the Lutheran pastor in my hometown (which I did not know), and Nathan has lived around the corner from me for eight years.

Friday night, Nathan joined me for the Fairmont vs. Beavercreek game, and we had a great time catching up. We actually started with the wonderful Fairmont Firebird tradition of STEP OFF. The band lines up in front of the school’s performing arts department, marching around the school, and through the neighborhood to the stadium. Once at the stadium they march under the stadium, pounding the drums and chanting. It is a thrill to watch. The game was actually kind of fun – but I was also seated behind Jill & John Chabut. The bands were wonderful.

After the game, Nathan joined Jose and me as we drove Jose’s friend, Matt, back to his house to pack some clothes for over night. The band was to leave at 6:30am for contest in Massillon, Ohio which is approximately three hours from Dayton, and I told Matt he was welcome to stay so his parents would not have to get up so early. Once back home, Nathan and I sat up until 5:30am chatting – and I think there was some dozing.

Jose’s friend, Matt

Saturday I taught two Beavercreek students until 12:30am, enjoyed a brief visit from Christi and Carrie Salchak, and then ran some errands. I took a nap, and then showered and dressed. Nathan came over and we watched the delightful Disney movie, ENCHANTED.

Jose and Matt burst through the door at 3:30am, tired, but thrilled from the long adventure. The band made it into the night finals and placed 9th.

Sunday, I chatted with Mother, learning that my younger sister was to be married this evening. Not surprising, but events leading up to this evening’s nuptials have me concerned for my nephews – their future, as well as their safety. Life and choices… but not my problem, nor will I allow it to concern me.

Jose and I went to a Mexican lunch after Matt left with his mother, and then we grabbed a few items from Meijers. I worked on the musical while Jose watched movies before he headed to work. Jeff Carter and I chatted on the telephone, and I resumed work on The Wright Brothers project.

What a busy, and then exciting weekend…
 
FRIDAY
Jose was with the marching band for the game against Lebanon, and we won. He got home around 11:30pm. I ran some errands and worked on writing for a few hours.
 
SATURDAY
I kept busy with errands around the house, and some writing. Worried about my family in the Houston area but have since learned they are doing just fine.
 
Jose left for band practice at 12:30pm, and I ran some errands for groceries, and got sandwiches from Subway. Came home and finished some more chores, made 36 cupcakes, and packed up for the tailgate party back behind the house on the baseball diamond where the band rehearses. Had so much fun with the parents, and watched the band show. Ate lunch with the kids, and headed home.
 
Band contest was in Tipp City. I got to see four of my drum-major students on the field, and was proud of all my kids. Fairmont has a great show, and I thought they did better than where they placed. I took a number of photos but my night time photos for band just do not turn out.
 
I drove home, arriving about 30 minutes prior to the band buses and trailer.
SUNDAY
I thought I slept pretty good but kept waking up throughout the night. Finally at 8:00am, I finally gave up trying to wrestle time for more sleep. I got up and piddled around the house a bit. Worked at my desk for a while as Jose played the piano. Around 10:30am I mowed the yard and used the leaf blower, taking advantage of the semi- strong winds.
 
Jose and I ran to the mall after showering, and on the way, the wind advisory of which we had been warned, came true. We went to Game Stop so Jose could exchange a game, ate Chinese, and walked out to winds so strong we could barely make it back to the car. En route back to Kettering, we saw trees down and tons of branches and limbs.
 
At home, we walked into a house with cabinet doors open, items blown around, and pictures hanging crooked. The dark clouds began taunting us, but no solid rain…
 
And then the winds hit HARD AND FURIOUS. The power went out around 1:30pm.
 
The winds reportedly got up to 75mph. I walked next door to see the HUGE limbs that fell between the Moore-Parker and Stephenson houses. Fortunately, both families had moved their vehicles just moments before the limbs fell. The streets looked like a war zone.
 
Neighbors began reporting trees down on the next street over… wow! It was incredible.
 
I spent a lot of time talking to the Moore-Parker and Stephenson families as we watched nature lash out around us. At 4:45pm I got ready to drive Jose to work as I was afraid of limbs falling on him – and I heard a loud crack and thud. A tree in the easement between our fence and the high school broke in half – a HUGE tree. Fortunately it missed the fence, falling directly in the easement. Had it fallen the other way it would have crashed through our privacy fence, and maybe on to the deck. As we drove around the corner to work, one of the huge trees in front of the high school was broken at the base.
 
After dropping Jose off at One Lincoln Park, I drove on down Shroyer, over to Stroop, across Far Hills and back in that neighborhood… WOW! I stopped counting at 38 trees completely broken at the base, and hundreds more split in two… snow plows were pushing debris through the streets just to clear a path. It looked like a war zone or a tornado’s path.
 
I took a nap and by 6:00pm, the winds had calmed down.
 
I went out back and raked the deck and back yard, and then the front. The Stephensons were in their back yard using the twigs and branches for a fire.
 
The report is that over 200,000 customers are without power.
 
Kettering City Schools are closed for Monday.
 
What an eventful day… but, as always, it was so much fun to spend time with my neighbors who border my yard.
At 10:00pm….
Jose and I drove to Kroger so he could get a movie, and I a few groceries…. Kroger and all that area was black. We drove – cautiously down Stroop with trees still protruding onto the street and no lights anywhere. On Southern the hospital was lit up, but everything else dark.
 
At Wal-Mart on Dorothy Lane, there were the restaurants – packed! Wal-Mart was black and most of the area. Jose got  several  movies  from McDonalds, and the lines inside and in the drive-thru were endless. As I waited for Jose there was one family who pulled up in the business across the way, and there was a father and his teenage son who went into McD’s. The mother and the baby stayed in the car and we chatted. They had been without power since 1:00pm, and finally came out at 10:30pm to get some food.
 
I called the Lockharts and Jackson said they were still without power. I invited them to come to our house, and wish they were here. God knows there is plenty of sleeping space.
 
The fire crews are still running. They were busy putting out electrical fires and downed wires.
 
We drove through Kettering to the Kroger on the opposite end of town. There was a sign out front: No flashlights, no batteries, no ice. Bottled water was gone, as was gallons of water.
 
Some parts are also without water. Most of Wilmington Pike was black.
 
We have been asked to stay inside due to the downed lines and debris.
 
The big concern now is that the trees have been weakened and future winds, rain, snow and ice could still cause further problems.
 
200,000 homes are without power in the Dayton area. 628,000 homes in the Cincinnati area are without power.
 
The news has these hideous sites of trees crashing through roofs, roofs gone, awnings gone… one Shell Station overhead crashed to the ground. And I am sure there are more items.
 
It is sad.
 
And of course, Houston and other parts are dealing with flooding.

What a short, but long week.

Recovery from a three day weekend is always a little tough, but this year was a little easier. I set up a new system with my private teaching studio: if there are five Mondays and Tuesdays in the month, I only teach four. So, Monday and Tuesday were my days off for September. I did not accomplish as much as I hoped, but I did catch up on some much needed rest.

Wednesday and Thursday flew by, and though our schedules are packed in the evening, I did get to spend time with Jose, and worked with him on German and social studies. His teachers report a great deal of effort, so far.

Friday I hit the Wright Brothers’ musical pretty hard, trying to tackle one particular song that has been a struggle.

I taught for four hours, and then headed to ACTION Adoption since Jose was with the marching band at an away game at Lakota West High School, just north of Cincinnati.

I thought it would be a night in the big room with support group, but Cissie, one of the staff, asked if I would please teach an independent study to one of my favorite couples. I almost did not go to ACTION, but am so glad I did. Bill & Ann Impson are the neatest couple, and I love every minute I get to spend with these two. They are finishing up their home study, and I cannot wait until they are deeply involved in the search for children. These two just make my day.

Saturday, Jose will have band from 9:00am to 3:00pm, and I am hoping to write as much as I can. In the evening, I will take Jose to dinner, and then maybe grab a movie.

Sunday, nothing until the early evening when I teach two lessons.

Not much to report…

What a wonderful, wonderful weekend!

Saturday morning, the house was all cleaned, and smelling fresh, the yard looked great, and the fence was adorned with red, white and blue bunting banners – a gift from my darling neighbor, Kay. I began prepping food and preparing a fresh peach cobbler while Mother and I chatted.

Mother, Jose and I ate lunch on the deck, and then ran some errands. When we returned, Destin, Stacia, Parker and Fred were at the house.

We went to Indian Riffle Park off of Stroop Road where we chatted, ate peach cobbler, and watched Parker and Jose play.

Then, we journeyed on to Young’s Jersey Dairy outside Yellow Springs. We petted goats, took pictures and chatted more. Stacia, Parker, Jose and Fred road the tractor train.

While we waited to be seated, Destin and Jose went to the driving range, and I believe they hit the walls of the shelter more than the golf balls. There were hilarious tales of how they were also experiencing near misses from one another. I am filled with so much delight when I watch Jose with his Uncle Destin, and always recall the wonderful times spent with my own uncles.

We enjoyed a delicious meal at the main restaurant. Unfortunately, Parker became ill as we were preparing to leave, and the projectile vomit was Olympian in proportion, and distance. However, poor Stacia caught most of it down her front, her back… while Destin was gagging out in the parking lot from the stench, Stacia, bore it, and wore it with her typical good humor, and grace. In the car, poor, tired Fred began wailing. At one point, Stacia, who could have been overwhelming stressed, leaned up to Jose and said, “So have you had your fill of birth control this evening?”

We lost it!

After prepping the bedrooms, getting the boys to bed, we hit the deck with the tikki torches lit – what a beautiful site the yard was with the torches illuminating the yard. Destin and I were the last to close down the deck chat – and I believe we covered all the issues of education in an hour.

Sunday morning, I was up at 7:00am, and joined Mother on the deck for coffee before showering and making breakfast. We dined on the deck with eggs, pancakes (even chocolate chip), frappes, bagels, etc..

We spent more time on the deck while others were showering.

At 1:00pm, we all walked over to Lincoln Park for the Holiday At Home festival. What a neat thing to have in your own back yard! I love this weekend! We walked through the festival, grabbed some lemon shake-ups, and Mother purchased candles.

As we began our trek through the park, Jose asked if he could push Fred in the stroller. Stacia asked, “Jose, do you think the stroller is a chick-magnet?”

We lost it again. Destin, of course, came up with several scenarios of what Jose could tell the ladies.

At 2:00pm we were back on my deck for taco salad, topped with Stacia’s home-made salsa which is the best I have ever eaten. I have tried her recipe and cannot hit it on the mark.

At 3:00pm, the cars were packed and this leg of the weekend had come to an end. Waving good bye from the porch, a family “must do,” was difficult. I was still sniffling a little as I put away the food from lunch.

I chatted with my neighbor lady, Kay, and invited her family over for supper since I had SO much left over for taco salad. We agreed on 7:00pm. Jose went to work and I took a 45 minute nap.

At 7:00pm, Kay and her daughter, Laura, were dining with me on taco salad. Laura’s husband, Don, was not feeling well, and the kids were off doing their own thing. Time spent with Kay and Laura are always a blast, and there is always tons of laughter. I was blessed with wonderful neighbors growing up in Elwood, wonderful neighbors during my college years in Muncie, and although I enjoyed my neighbors in Centerville, my Kettering neighbors have been an absolute blessing and delight. The Moore-Parker house next door, and the Stephenson house (Bob, Chris, Henry and Frank) behind us are the best neighbors one could possibly have.

Jose returned from work and joined us on the deck with his supper he brought home from One Lincoln Park.

At 9:00pm, all was quiet at the Haasienda.

Tomorrow morning at 10:00am, I will be on the other side of the high school’s campus to join thousands for the Holiday At Home parade, one of the largest in the state. Hopefully I will sit with the Lockharts.

I will also be the proud teacher as several students pass by, leading their bands as drum-major. And I will be the proud pappa as Jose marches by with the Marching Firebirds.

What a wonderful Labor Day weekend, and it isn’t over. I doubt that tomorrow will top the sheer joy I have experienced these past few days with family and neighbors/friends.

This is a message I posted on one of my hometown’s websites, WILLKIE’S PRIDE.

This morning, my sixteen year old son came into my study before leaving for school and said he was really frustrated with something in marching band. The percussion section leader yells all the time at the end of rehearsal when the other members are not moving instruments and equipment along, especially when there’s a lull in the activity. I asked if she provided the section with a schedule/list, outlining the order of items to be moved on to the trailer, as well as an assignment list to move the equipment.

No. There was not.

“What can you do to help this situation?” I asked.

“There’s nothing I can do.”

With that, he knew he had said the wrong thing as I smiled, peering over my reading glasses.

My son nodded his head. “I can suggest to her that we come up with a schedule or list of what needs to be done and who needs to do it.”

I then asked, “Are you and other percussion members standing around, complaining?”

He nodded.

My son got the message. One of the rules in our home is: “Don’t complain, get in there and help fix it.”

As I read various websites of both published and guest entries the election, I read a ton of complaining, side-line-recliner coaching, but what I am not reading, or hearing is, “How can I help fix this?”

We all know that we will be fixing something, one way or another, just by voting this November.

But is that enough?

What more, as a citizen of the United States of American, can I do to help improve what needs to be improved?

The last election of 2004, I took my sons to see both vice- presidential candidates when they appeared in the Dayton area. We also attended several rallies, and information sessions for each candidate (and we do this for local elections, as well). As a parent, I lead my family in discussion of these issues, reminding
them that the votes cast this November can, and will affect their children and grandchildren.

“How is that possible?” one son asked.

I explained: in 1860 the country elected Lincoln, and today, we still thrive as one union. In 1904, when Theodore Roosevelt was elected in his own right (he succeeded the assassinated William McKinley in
1901) he promoted conservation of various natural landmarks that eventually led to the National Parks’ system. A number of FDR’s programs are still with us, as are programs from the administrations
of Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton. When social security began, my great-grandparents, and maybe my grandparents had voted in an election that brought FDR to the White House. And my fourth great-grandfather fought in the Union cavalry to hold the country together.

The actions, and even inactions of my parents, grandparents (and so on) during election seasons have resulted – both directly, and indirectly to the country in which I live.
 
As a young boy of ten, I campaigned heavily for Congressman Hillis, and even Senator Lugar. There was even a photograph in the Elwood Call-Leader of Congressman Hillis standing with my family.

At that rally, I believe in the building which now houses the chamber of commerce, something Congressman Hillis said in 1974, has remained with me for thirty-four years.

Paraphrased: “You are all here because you believe in making a difference. You are out here working to better your community, your county, your district, your state and your country.”

During the question & answer portion of his campaign, Congressman Hillis was asked about the recent horrors of Watergate, and what he thought of President Ford’s pardon for President Nixon (who was a
Republican).

Congressman Hillis then stressed how important it was for us as Americans (United States’ citizens) to move ahead, and beyond the past, and if we all worked together with a positive attitude we could accomplish do much more.

One gentlemen referred to Nixon as “a thief.” Congressman Hillis smiled, and politely suggested that we not resort to name calling. He then encouraged us to be more positive in our thoughts, comments, and
actions and to continue to work together no matter to what political party we belong.

That advice has been one of my mantras when leading bands, choirs, productions, classrooms, and volunteers organizations. One of the rules for the classroom or rehearsals – “Leave the drama and negative
attitudes outside.”

Last week, a fellow classmate of mine posted something from a national newspaper that pounced on President Bush. Immediately, there were follow-up comments of “Bush Bashing” and ridicule for the author
and newspaper as though a hideous felony was committed.

As the DNC Convention began, the negative mudslinging came out in full force, especially comments about Senator Kennedy and the Chappaquiddick incident. And naturally, from recent years, recalls of Monica Lewinsky.

When the GOP Convention airs, will we also be reminded that President Harding (R) had numerous affairs, fathered a child or two, and died as his administration was ready to erupt in scandal?

Will we remember the alleged affair General Eisenhower (R) had with his military driver?

Will we recall the horrors of witnessing one of our nation’s most severe testing throughout the Watergate scandal which brought down a Republican President?

Will we be reminded that President Reagan (R), one of the most beloved presidents in recent years, did, or did not know about the Iran-Contra trades?

Will people target First Lady Laura Bush with reminders that she too killed someone in an automobile accident by running a stop sign? (And, yes, I know this is miles apart from the controversy surrounding Ted Kennedy’s scandal at the Edgartown Bridge.)

As I was skimming through some of this morning’s posts on Willkies Pride, I caught sight of one member reminding us there are bigger fish to fry than picking apart the opposition, or any candidate for that matter.

And how I applaud that poster!

Echoing Congressman Hillis… what can each of us do to work towards a better community, a better county, a better state, a better country?

I occasionally read the one website dedicated purely to Elwood, and if all the complaints are true (which some are clearly skeptical) there appears to be plenty to do in the community of Elwood. Instead, on that particular site, a majority of the posters are there to complain. I brought forth numerous suggestions of taking the lead and making things happen by working together, because that’s what I remember most about Elwood when I was growing up. I remember neighbors helping one another; I remember the streets packed with people during parades (and I marched in enough of them to know); I remember citizens flocking to events…

But what is more, I remember fine people of a fine community who practiced a strong sense of community, a strong sense of commitment, a strong sense of pride, and a strong sense of working together to make a difference.

At church, one day, a lady who is a little older than my parents, commented on an upcoming “church cleaning day.”

“That’s for the young folks. I am going to sit back and enjoy life. I did my share.” And then she began berating all that was not right with the church, and some of the people.

I did not say anything, but my down cast eyes alerted her to the fact I disagreed. Finally, she said, “OK, Darin. I know you are thinking something.”

With that invitation, I cheerfully thanked her for her many contributions to the church. I then reminded her how her former positive attitude had been one of the elements in getting others involved in years now past. Then I asked if her work was truly completed? She thought for a minute. Finally, she looked up, smiled,
and said, “Heavens no! I am still alive.”

Sure enough, she was one who joined us for the spring cleaning day. And better yet, she convinced at least a dozen others to participate because they were a part of the church as well, and that it was up to each of them to participate, to help… to be.

This also applies to each of us with our schools, our communities, our state and our country. We each know someone of advanced years who died at their post – whether it was at work, or volunteering for a cause. This is what I desire – I don’t want to retire, sit at my computer desk (which I currently do as a playwright), and run down the beliefs or comments of others. Rather than complain about the items needing improvements, I hope and pray that I am healthy enough to be offering assistance, or volunteering… somehow, still making a
difference.

I hate to echo a Democrat, but there was once this brilliant phrase that resounded throughout the country in 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.”

We have, somehow, evolved into a society of “wanters” with less emphasis on being “doers” or “givers.” We have become complacent.

Think of our parents and grandparents who lived through the Great Depression and WWII… I was so blessed to know many from this generation, and there are still many from this era that are in their 70’s and 80’s and are still vital contributors to their schools, communities, churches and state. We are fortunate to have a
presidential candidate, and now a vice-presidential candidate from this generation!

In our home, we have an expectation of ten (10) volunteer hours each month. My contribution is to teach pre-adoption courses at the agency through which I adopted my sons, or to lead the parent support group,
or represent the agency at local adoption affairs. I am also a band booster, a choir booster, and active with other community/school related activities. My youngest son volunteers by raking leaves, shoveling snow (all without pay), or assisting with the children’s program at the adoption agency.

I have one friend who is 83, and she volunteers at an elementary school as an aide in various areas. She has also encouraged many of her “widow friends” to do the same, or volunteer in other areas.

Once our children leave home, do we cease being their parent? No. Obviously, the roles change, but we never cease being their parent. And, although I am 43 years old, I am still the son of Diana Haas, and David Haas (and a genetic link to my birth father).

As citizens of a wonderful community, as citizens of a wonderful state, as citizens of a wonderful country, how can each of us make a difference?

How can each of us continue to work towards bettering our city, state and country, not just for our own lives, but for our children and grandchildren, as well?

Do we better ourselves, or improve our conditions with name calling, or dirt digging, or chastising another for their beliefs?

Did Michael Phelps win eight gold medals with a negative attitude? How many times did he say, “Neh, I’m not hitting the pool today; I just don’t feel like it.”?

Did our own recent grand champion of the swimming pool stop working towards her own goal to be in the Olympics?

If you cannot think of a reason to involve your self in some way to make a difference, think of someone like Mary Beth Dunnichay. How can we make each of our own children, or children in Elwood reach out
actively for their goals and dreams? How can we work with the schools or community and church organizations to instill in youth the self- esteem and confidence to be gold medal winners in their own lives,
and future careers?

Shouldn’t this be our initial inheritance to our children and grandchildren?

What better inheritance, or legacy can we leave future generations?

How can we teach them not to simply reach for the stars, but to be one?

We do not need to reach the national and international stages as Wendell L. Willkie, or Mary Beth Dunnichay in order to make a difference. There is so much each of us can do alone, or TOGETHER, to make a difference.

Flying your flag each day can make a difference.

For those of us who can do so, parking further away in a parking lot can make the difference for those who truly need to park closer to stores (handicap, senior citizens and mommies with children).

Leaving your quarter in the cart contraption at Aldis for someone else who truly needs it can make a difference. (And I have seen too many seniors who count down to the last penny!) And you can also buy
extra Aldis bags for five cents and tell the cashier to give them to someone who needs them.

Even complimenting a young child who demonstrates courtesy or good manners can make a difference (and don’t forget to thank their  parents for teaching them the difference!).

When I die, I do not wish to have a grave stone, a monument to a life lived. I hope, and pray that the work I do, and that the lives I touch will be my monument, and my legacy to my children, nephews, and their children. Each of us can provide living monuments – let’s do it.

After 9/11 we began flying our flags daily, and then it dwindled.

Why not fly our flags every day, rather than when our nation is in crises?

Can we celebrate our pride, our unity, our faith in our nation by flying our flags each day?

We united immediately after 9/11, and still continue to do so for memorial services each year.

Can we do this each day?

Make a difference in whatever way you can, but in a positive manner. That can also be a legacy to leave your children, and grandchildren.

And I close with words from one of Elwood’s own…

“In no direction that we turn do we find ease or comfort. If we are honest and if we have the will to win we find only danger, hard work and iron resolution.”

“It is from weakness that people reach for dictators and concentrated government power. Only the strong can be free. And only the productive can be strong.”

May God bless the United States of America.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Everyone have a great weekend!

Much love to all…

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

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

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

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

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

My kids tooting away…

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

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

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

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

And the 2008 marching season is off and… marching. Sunday, I take Jose out to Wright State University where he will stay until Thursday evening for band camp.

Here is a video taken by one of the students – the start of the marching season…

What a great weekend! Full of life and energy, and new horizons.

When we returned from Indiana and Chicago, it was evident my son was in an entirely new place in his mind, and his life. Being with my brother and sister-in-law, seeing how family values, morals, and class are the same in their home as they are our own. Jose clearly recognized, on his own, how important it is to choose the right people for friends. Yea!

Last Wednesday Jose and I had a very long conversation, and he readily admitted he had arrived at a new place in his life, and thinking. It was so refreshing, and quite a relief to know he had finally seen the light in some of the darker areas of his life – mostly where his friends are concerned. Jose expressed that, like myself, and his uncle and aunt, you cannot grow as an individual until you surround your self with the very best people – friends who will not manipulate or play games, friends who are not into the Jerry Springer drama, those who will allow you to grow as a person and in other relationships.

Jose was also excited because he realized he was in love with someone – a girl he has known for quite a while. We chatted about this, and I know he has made a brilliant choice in this particular area of his life. He realized this young lady was a lot like his Aunt Stacia – a real lady who has class, values, and a life that is so far removed from what he had known as a child.

Friday morning, at 12:25am, Jose and I, joined by one of the most adorable young ladies in the world, went to see THE DARK KNIGHT. It was worth the 3:45am time of rolling through the door.

Friday night Jose went to a party at Jackson Lockhart’s with a ton of other wonderful “good kids.” He was a little apprehensive about going because those teens were so different than those who had been holding him back from so much. However, he had the best time of his life and addressed the fact that he was so glad he went because he realized what he had thrown away.

Saturday we got his temporary license kit, and ran errands. At lunch, I looked at my son and realized how much he had indeed grown while staying with Destin and Stacia. His vision was brighter, and he seems to be soaring on the inside. I know this is going to be a great year for Jose as long as opposing forces of a darker nature do not attempt to penetrate his current mind set, and prey on his kind heartedness.

Sunday was another great day. My son is going to be OK. He is now surrounded by a strong team of individuals who have stepped up to the plate these past few days to make certain he will succeed and will not fall into the trap of unreliable, unmotivated, unacceptable forces that nearly robbed him of an incredible future.

Today, Jose returned to band. This past week was filled with torment from all the major decisions he had to make in regard to his future, and shedding all the garbage that had been weighing him down. He returned home from band this morning on an emotional high of knowing his life is now within his own grasp, and that no one, or no one thing can get in his way except for himself. If he is sidetracked from his dreams it is due to choices. If he feels he has been sidetracked by friends, he has chosen those friends. If he feels sidetracked by certain conditions, that too is of his own choosing.

I have confidence that my son will do well in life, and I am so fortunate that our family has been blessed with wonderful people who love us, and want to see us protected. Many of the band kids who know us had sent me emails explaining how they now had great hopes for Jose’s future and that they would help protect him. This afternoon and evening, I received even more emails from band kids and parents who are so happy Jose is back on track with life. Many of the band kids and parents know Jose will be tempted, and manipulated to returning to his former life, but they are determined to not allow this to happen.

Surrounding one’s self with the “right” people – good people – is vital. Some can even believe they are good people, but it is due to the fact they are so mired in their own inability to see past their live’s conditions. If all you know is good you will often follow that path. If all you have known is drama, manipulation, and a life lacking in values, that’s what you will continue to follow. Jose’s early years were not healthy, and since being in our home he has learned the incredible world that is possible. Even though he will be tempted by a replay of his former life, he still recognizes and desires the values that will lead him through life. Some of his former friends were just not there, nor will they be as they are weighed down in a mentality that is terribly foreign to our home, and our world. However, those dark forces will always be seeking to lure him back into the caverns of their pitiful ways. They will want to remind him of false notions that represented a way of life to which he seemed to be drawn. But they fear loosing a quality person like my son because they will never be able to achieve better.

But Jose is in a much better, stronger place!

Seeing all the good kids who have surrounded him is encouraging. I know the manipulative forces of his past will continue to haunt him, and test him to return to the dark side, but his friends, family and I will never let this happen. No matter what it takes, his dedicated friends who have stepped up to the plate these past few days are determined to see he stays the course.

Prayers do get answered!

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