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In 1997, my brother, Destin, moved to Fowler, Indiana to teach middle school social studies.  Over the years, through my infrequent visits, I have fallen in love with this picturesque community that is so neighborly.

Here are some photos I took this weekend.

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Fowler is a town in Center TownshipBenton CountyIndianaUnited States. The population was 2,415 at the 2000 census. It is part of the Lafayette, Indiana Metropolitan Statistical Area.

Fowler was platted by Moses Fowler and his wife on October 26, 1872, and originally consisted of 583 lots, though a re-platting on April 8, 1875, expanded it to 1,602 lots and 20 blocks. Several more additions were made to the town over subsequent years.

The town’s first home was erected in March 1871 by Scott Shipman, and its first business opened in June of that year, a small general store run by Henry D. Clark. Many more businesses followed over the next few years, including the Henry Jacobs & Son grocery, grain elevators built by L. Templeton, and blacksmith John E. Mitchell, who was also the town’s first postmaster (succeeded by grocer Henry Jacobs). In 1874, Fowler became the county seat, which until that time had occupied nearby Oxford.

The town was incorporated in 1875, and its rapid growth is clear from the following list, printed in an 1883 history of Benton County:

“In September, 1875, the town of Fowler contained ten lawyers, one minister, three doctors, one dentist, one baker, two barber shops, three billiard saloons, two blacksmith shops, one wagon shop, three boot and shoe stores, one grain elevator, two dry goods stores, twenty carpenters, one furniture store, two stove and tin stores, one hardware store, one hotel, three restaurants, two drug stores, three millinery establishments, two saloons, two livery stables, three retail groceries, one clothing store, one merchant tailor, one graded school, two printing offices, two lumber yards, two churches and about 1,200 inhabitants.”[3]

Fowler is home to the Fowler Ridge Wind Farm.

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

Darren Paquin

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

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

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

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

My favorite photo of Mrs. & Mr. Paquin

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

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

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

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

Mrs. Paquin, know you are loved…

25 Years of Heart Transplant at St.Vincent Heart Center

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

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

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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My alarm went off at 5:10am.  I squinted through very eye-lids to see the bathroom door closed, and heard the sound of water smacking against the bathtub… whew… Quintin was awake, and showering.  I smelled coffee I knew Mother was awake.  Chief was stretched out, lengthwise, against me.  Navi was curled up in the chair, and Flyer in her usual spot by the closet door.

By 5:55am, Quintin came in to give me a hug before leaving, and I decided to rise.  The sun had not even come up, and the dogs were not their usual peppy selves.

Mother and I grabbed cups of coffee, and are now watching some television.  Shortly, we will get ready and head to Bellbrook High School for the winter percussion competition.

I could stand a few more hours of sleep, and am forecasting a nap this afternoon following lunch.

 

“A man is not finished when he is defeated. He is finished when he quits.” – Richard Nixon

This morning, while relaxing, I watched the movie, FROST/NIXON (2008), starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen, and directed by Ron Howard.  I found the movie superbly crafted, and the lead actors were indefinably believable.  

Ironically, the other night, as I was preparing to fall asleep, ALL THE PRESIDENT’S MEN came on television.

“Always remember that others may hate you but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them…       And then you destroy yourself.” – Richard Nixon

I was between the ages of 7 and 9 year when Watergate was hot on the airwaves.  I preferred watching the Watergate hearings on television over baseball practice – but, I had to go to practice.  The drama that engulfed our nation was inescapable, even at my age.  When my grandparents took me to Washington, DC in mid-July 1974, the air was thick with tension, and uncertainty. A few weeks later, my parents and I were vacationing at Myrtle Beach.  Mother called me in from the hotel’s swimming pool, and commanded me to to hurry up to the room. Within a few minutes of settling in front of the television set, President Nixon appeared before the camera, offering to the nation his resignation of the presidency.

President Nixon’s history continues to be researched, and translated, and probably will throughout my life-time. Now, that we have entered the 40-years anniversaries of the events that unfolded during Watergate, we will surely be reminded of the darkest hour of our country’s history that defined the end of the twentieth century, and redefined the presidency.

Before President Nixon died in April 1994, he had already defined his legacy through the many contributions throughout his years as an elder statesman.  I’ve always believed this president’s choices were similar to his predecessors, and those who followed, maybe more, perhaps less. I still believe he served the country with great courage, and tremendous dedication.

“Certainly in the next 50 years we shall see a woman president, perhaps sooner than you think. A woman can and should be able to do any political job that a man can do.”

“Only if you have been in the deepest valley, can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain.”

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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This morning, my brother, Destin, and I received an email from Mother: As of February 3rd, I am retired from the Elwood Police Department.

Despite the fact Mother had expressed some consideration along this topic, we were not aware that she was actually setting the process into motion, and so abruptly.  The new administrative changes throughout the city’s leadership were becoming quite stressful, and the air of low-morale, and consistent uncertainty were affecting Mother’s health.  When she initially broached the subject over Christmas, I thought it a bit premature since the elected-changes had not yet occurred.  However, as she began experiencing the health issues, I was somewhat relieved, yet still surprised, by her announcement.

I was sixteen, and a sophomore in high school, when we became a part of the police family.  I suddenly had about 15 police-uncles, several police-aunts, and a ton of police-cousins.  I knew that I always had folks looking after my family.  This was especially comforting when I left for college.

The police department was like any other family – the good times, the not-so-good times, celebrations of weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, births, graduations, and successes.  The family came together at those less celebratory moments, especially when death shrouded a family unit.  The worst was the loss of officers’ children who were teenagers with me.

For the past thirty-one years, I’ve seen Mother joyfully embrace her work with the Band of Blue, and even during the more stressful moments, I never knew her to waiver in her dedication.  Mother was often a big sister, a confidant, a friend, and whether appreciated, or not, always honest with requested advice.  One of her most incredible talents is her ability to organize, and produce.  I am so grateful I received this genetic component from Mother!

I am proud to be the son of this woman who gave so much of her self to her career.  I am relieved that her retirement from the police department is not a retirement from being Mother/Mama to my self, and Destin. The retirement from the EPD will allow her more time for her Grandma-responsibilities!

My grandfather, Leroy ‘Red’ Barmes, joined the department in 1952.  Sixty years later, our immediate family’s connection to the Elwood Police Department has finally come to a close.  I must admit, it is a tad bittersweet.

Mother: Congratulations on 31 years of such fine service to the department, and the community; and, congratulations on your well-deserved retirement.  I am so grateful for, and proud of your career, and so happy (and a little tearful) to know this chapter has now moved on to the next.

Know you are loved…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Coincidence?  Perhaps.

God acting anonymously?  Perhaps.

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

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

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

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

Am I suppose to even be doing this?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meh.

I sort of dismissed it.

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

Freedom.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ ~ ~

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

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

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

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

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

Who can say.

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

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

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

You betcha!

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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Several folks have asked me if I’ve ever had a pet die. Yes, I have; however, my first dog, an American Eskimo, died when I was about two or three years old, and my second dog, Pokey, died my senior year of high school. It was winter, and Grandpa took care of burying Pokey, so there was no official, ‘good bye.’

In September 1970, I was walking home from Washington Elementary School and stopped to look in the large plate glass window at Burger’s Dairy Mart (Linders or Taylors to the younger Elwood folks). I noticed a little puppy standing on the step of the store. It had no collar, and seemed excited to see me – a typical puppy trait I was to ignore forty years later when I first met Navi and Chief. I waited a few minutes to see if anyone would claim him. Mary, the stout, authoritarian who worked behind the counter stepped out with a dish of water. Mary’s burly frame, dressed in a white work dress that resembled a nurse’s uniform, bent down to give the dog some water. Her chestnut hair, bunned up tightly, reminding me of the Burl Ives Snowman in RUDOLPH, never moved an inch as she bent over and rose again.

“He’s been out here all afternoon. Probably a stray.” She watched the pup lapping up the water, seeming to speak to herself more than to me.

Once Mary returned inside the store, I picked up the puppy and walked the remaining block and a half to 825 Main Street – the tall white house on the corner, and on one of the largest hills in Elwood. Once I got to Dick & Betsy’s hedge that separate our yard from the Herndon’s yard, I set the dog down, and coaxed him to the steps. Since he could barely make the ten steps that cut into the hill, he quickly figured out he could just run up the hill.

I do recall walking through the front door with the dog, and greeting Mother. I know, according to Mother, that I elected to go with the story that the puppy had followed me home.

Mother said she could tell he was a stray, and placed an advertisement in The Elwood Call-Leader. If no one claimed the dog within two weeks, he could stay with us.

Two weeks passed, and the Alpo eating pup became a fixture at the Jolliff home.

In honor of my good kindergarten friend, Debbie Poynter, who lived one block over between the Mangas and LaPierre families, I named the dog, Pokey, which was Debbie’s nickname. Now, the older Poynter sisters claimed the nickname was prompted by Debbie’s slow nursing habits. Naming my new pup after Debbie, who was jokingly nicknamed ‘John’ by my grandfather, was a compliment to my childhood friend.

Pokey was a young boy’s true pal. He slept with me, went on walks with me, protected me, went nuts if I got a spanking, and was always at my side, much like Flyer, Navi, Chief, and Logan have been. Whenever we’d leave the house for an extended amount of time, we’d return to find Pokey sleeping on my footie pajamas he’d pulled from beneath my pillow. Of course, we would also return to find chewed up gloves, shoes, gnawed table legs, and other articles we’d not planned to abandon so soon. One particular item was a young member of my Johnny West action figures who lost his feet to Pokey’s boredom. From that point on, Jeff West was simply known as “Crip.”

After about two years, a neighbor’s huge German shepherd, Lance, began coming into our yard and attacking Pokey, once biting into his neck. Poor Pokey, when going on walks, was terrified. After those attacks, Pokey was afraid of all strangers, and nipped at the mailman. Grandpa hated seeing Pokey chained up in the yard, and offered to keep him out at their home in the country.

Off Pokey went to live two miles north of Lapel. And there he remained for the next ten years. Since we spent so much time with Grandpa and Grandma, Pokey was not missed.

My senior year of high school I could not return to the country as often due to marching band. By this time, Pokey had become quite aged, and he could barely walk. Grandpa built him a deluxe dog house with so much insulation you could feel the warmth in the coldest weather. By Thanksgiving 1982, Grandpa or Grandma had to lift Pokey off the porch so he could go potty.

When I arrived to Grandpa and Grandma’s for Thanksgiving dinner, Pokey spied me getting out of the car at the end of the drive. With great energy, and determination, Pokey rose to his feet, and carefully walked down the steps, and out to the car to greet me. I will never forget that moment of dedication shown me by a beloved pet. It was the truest affection, and devotion.

Later, it was time for my senior musical, OKLAHOMA!. I returned home for opening night to grab a bite to eat before returning to the high school for make-up and to get my hair curled. As we sat down to the table, my 8 year old brother, Destin, and I got into a quibble. Without dropping a beat, Destin said, “Your dog’s dead.” Mother, to this day, claims she will never forget the look on my face as I turned to her for confirmation. “Grandma found him in the garage this morning. He was dead.”

Mother, while trying to offer sympathies to me, was also trying to shut up Destin who seemed to thrive in the one-upmanship of his 18 year old brother.

Grandma Donna had entered the garage that morning to find her dog, Duchess, cuddling Pokey’s warm body. Duchess was crying out as she wrapped her paws around the dog that had gotten grumpier with her the past year.

That moment in 1993, punctuated with “your dog’s dead,” has become a family staple in our cupboard of humorous, memorable family moments.

This afternoon, I prepare for the departure of another pet – or rather, a fury family member – my wonderful cat of seventeen years, Logan. The day has practically shut down with this tender, loving vigil of farewell, and I am so grateful to the many, many friends who are sharing in this moment, reminding me that they, too, think of their pets as members of the family.
Pokey saw me age six to eighteen, and Logan was with me from age twenty-nine to forty-seven. All together, I’ve had pets over half my years living, and I cannot think of a more wonderful companion, or gift.

Continue to rest in peace, dear Pokey. Thank you for being a boy’s best friend…

And thank you, Debbie Poynter, for graciously allowing me to borrow your childhood nickname!

 

Garry “Todd” Jolliff

Jan. 30, 1964 — July 2, 2011

The Herald Bulletin

ALEXANDRIA, Ind. — Garry “Todd” Jolliff, 47 of Alexandria, died July 2, 2011, at St. John’s Medical Center in Anderson. He was born Jan. 30, 1964, in Elwood.

On Sept. 9, 1984, he married Laurie A. Lundy.

He worked at Borg-Warner Company in Muncie for 10 years; retiring in 1994.

Todd attended Elwood Community High School, Hinds Vocational School and Ivy Tech College.

He was a member of the National Rifle Association, Alexandria Eagles Lodge and U.A.W. He was an avid gun, knife, and coin collector. Todd enjoyed fishing and spending time with his immediate family and his grandchildren.

Survivors include his wife, Laurie A. (Lundy) Jolliff of Alexandria; mother, Judy (Everling) and husband, Terry Shepard of Fairmount; two daughters, Collette (Nathan) Watson and Jacklyn Jolliff (companion, Brian Peyton), all of Alexandria; two sons, Garry L. Jolliff (companion, Carrie Jones) and Austin R. Jolliff, all of Alexandria; sister, Traci (Wayne) Harrell of Marion; seven grandchildren; great-grandmother, Arlene Everling of Greentown; and two nephews.

Todd was preceded in death by his father, Garry D. Jolliff; grandmother, Rosemary Bateman; and grandfathers, Adam Mroz, James Bateman and Pete Everling.

Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Copher-Fesler-May Funeral Home, 415 S. Anderson St., Elwood, officiated by Pastor Todd Bryant. Burial will take place at Knox Chapel Cemetery, Fairmount.

Visitation 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made, through the funeral home, to: Austin Jolliff’s College Fund.

Post online condolences at: copherfeslermay.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos:

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

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

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

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

The first four months of 2010 were difficult.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Many blessings to all our wonderful family and friends…

Love,

Darin, Jose & Quintin

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  I don’t know when I have had a more wonderful Christmas!

Very early Friday morning, the boys, Flyer and I headed westward, arriving in Elwood at 11:00am. Jose and Mother followed Quintin and I, and by 12:30pm we were pulling in to Destin & Stacia’s.

An hour or so later I drove to the church to practice the organ in preparation for the Christmas Eve service. By this time, the snow was falling heavily, and bounding down with a purpose of making travel difficult.

A highlight of the weekend was the most delicious dinner at Norma’s, Stacia’s mother. Norma moved from the farm where Destin & Stacia live, and bought a historical landmark in Fowler, about one block from her church. The home was once owned by the town’s dairy man and was part of a huge dairy farm. Norma has decorated it beautifully, and the landscaping is quite fetching (we need to bring this word back!).

Norma sets an exquisite table, and yet, it is most comfortable. The littlest touch does not seem to escape her!

The dinner was incredible. Stacia made white chili – my first time to sample it. Wonderful!

We finished dinner and it was time to head to church. The service was very nice, and nothing is more beautiful than to leave Christmas Eve services with snow falling!

Back at Norma’s home we enjoyed hot chocolate (kindly made with Splenda for the diabetics), and a nice sampling of desserts. My sons were such great cousins and playmates for my nephews, Parker (5) and Freddie (3), and they all enjoyed themselves.

It was so nice to sit up talking to Destin for a good deal of time. So often, when we are together, any time to sit and talk is sapped by the events. However, after the entire Haashold began settling down, we had some chat time which made my day.

Christmas morning began on a quiet note as Mother and I sat at the kitchen table talking. Stacia was the first to rouse, and then the smaller peeps began adding momentum to the day with their unrivaled energy. The stockings came down with much excitement. The family breakfast was eaten and then it was back to the Christmas tree for the unwrapping of gifts. I held my beautiful three-month old niece, Carolyne throughout the flutter and crackle of wrapping paper and gift bags.

At some point, I fell asleep with Carolyne lodged securely in my arms. When I woke, she was also asleep.

At 12:30pm, Mother and Quintin followed Jose and I back to Elwood. The roads were clear, and very safe.

Since we did not have our traditional Chinese dinner on Christmas Eve, we maintained the tradition Christmas night.

Sunday morning, we took down Mother’s tree, packed up, showered, and went to Richard’s for lunch. After an enjoyable lunch, we hit the road for another two hours, returning to Kettering by 3:00pm.

When Jose returned from work, we sat down to creamy tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches – the right combo for a cold Christmas night. We opened a bottle of sparking apple juice, and with my seldom used wine glasses, we toasted our new family… to sons, to brothers, and to family.

A beautiful, memorable coda to two months of zipping along an incredible rollercoaster.

 

 

Today, the snow is gently falling here in Kettering for the first time. It seems as though the weather has officially changed into winter.

This particular change seems in keeping with life in the Haasienda. Tomorrow morning at 0715 hours, Jose and I will begin our journey west, landing in Albuquerque, New Mexico by 1115 hours.  A few hours later, we will meet my new son, and Jose’s new brother, Quintin.

The chain of change began in October as the marching season began to close. With the end of marching band I knew it was officially the true end of Jose’s high school career as marching band was truly his major love.

November 5th, at 1030am, I officially learned that Quintin’s adoption was official.

November 6th, Mother, Valerie Lockhart and I sat in Indianapolis’ Lucas Oil Stadium to watch The Marching Firebirds in the last performance. It was a little wistful watching Jose with the band for the final time, but I knew that his future was beginning to take on a new beginning.

Change is often good, but we seldom realize it at the moment.

Ninety minutes later Jose returned from the national guard recruiting station (with my blessing) to announce he would be heading to basic and advanced training on June 14th, 2011. Then, he said sometime after September he would be deployed to Afghanistan.

I was ready for the change of Jose entering the Ohio National Guard, but was not mentally prepared for a deployment in the near future.

November 12th, Jose was sworn into the military.

Within the next few days he had a very nice workout suit, and his army uniform.

One night we were walking the indoor track of Trent Arena. As we were walking and talking together, Jose took his jacket off, and laid it over mine. For some reason, the sight of his jacket over mine tugged at my heart.

A week ago, Jose and I got to talk to Quintin for the first time. He seems to be a delightful chap.

Last week we hurried to Indiana for Thanksgiving, and on up to Fowler to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. My two nephews are growing up, and their new little sister, my beautiful niece, Carolyne, is already two months old.

More changes…

Sunday was taken up with ACTION Adoption’s National Adoption Month Celebration – something to which we look forward every year. I am generally behind a camera, but manage to mingle with old friends of the adoption world – many whom I have trained. It is so wonderful to see all these families, and to see how their own children have grown over the year.

Tomorrow is the major change. At 3:45pm in New Mexico, I will greet my newest son.

I am not nervous, nor am I overly eager. It just seems to be a natural part of life. Quintin’s arrival on December 20th seems as though he is merely returning from a camp. Already, he feels as though he is already my son.

Change is exhausting at times, but when we can appreciate the wonderful results of any change, it is a damned fantastic feeling!

 

 

What an unusual, yet exciting year!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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I grew up in a wonderful Hoosier town, thirty some miles north of Indianapolis. It was called, “The Heart of Hoosierland.” When I think back on my youth, I am always filled with beautiful memories of those days, and times spent with family, friends, neighbors (I had some of the best in the Myrick, Herndon, and Fortner families), classmates, and so many others who lived in Elwood.

I cherish the education I received – from grade school through graduation. I am still in touch with many of my former teachers, and am still appreciative of all their wonderful efforts.

Sadly, the community has dwindled in population, and is showing the wear and tear of the economy, as well as other issues that have confronted it over the past decade.

I am not as familiar with past school boards as I have been with the current board. One of my classmates, and dearest friends, began her tenure on the school board about two years ago, and is currently serving as the president.

It was announced by the school board that there would be a tax referendum placed on the ballot for November’s election. Immediately, one of the hometown websites was filled with uprising. One particular gentleman has been known as one of the biggest “shit stirrers” in our community for years. It has always been amusing how he fortifies himself with nameless folks who have always supported his endless causes. Sadly, he often throws out numerous “I heard” lines without basing anything on facts. Yet, this has always been his style.

Last month, he began a tirade against a local restaurant, and was promptly followed by a number of others who I refer to as “jumpers” – folks who are always ready to jump on any negative band wagon in order to have ten minutes of bitching time. My mother, and her uncles, aunts, and even some great-uncles/aunts eat at this restaurant weekly (religiously), and I have never heard any complaints. Several hometown Facebook friends claimed their meals, and service was fine on their frequent visits.

I don’t understand why there are always the shit-stirrers like some of these folks. I often wonder if it was something at which they failed in life that encourages them to share their frustrations with others.

Naturally, those post submitters who have laid dormant for several weeks, have all resurfaced to offer their own share of venom to the pool. Even the Whack Job who harassed me on this site (since I voted for Obama I was a murderer too because he supported stem cell research!) has made yet another appearance. A number of us have dubbed her with the title, SRB (self-righteous b____) as her holier than thou, and anyone who disagrees with her inflated opinion. Of course, her recent post was merely a springboard for electronic pulpit for her all-knowing agenda.

What is sad to me is the fact that some of the same people – “jumpers” – often begin weighing in with their own opinions, too often adding even more “I heard” lines, most of which are not even close to being based on facts. Of course, if the primary shit-stirrer ever considered looking up a fact it would completely destroy any reason for submitting one of his familiar episodes, as he is more about stirring the pot rather than taking time to look over the recipe card to see which ingredients (facts) are needed.

Even when invited to meet with the superintendent, the shit-stirrer declined, as I am sure his “jumpers” would, as well.

Why?

Would this cause him to abandon his continual stirring because he suddenly is presented with facts that will destroy his stance on ill-gained facts?

This is not a time to engage in superiority. This is a time to ask questions, seek answers, and explore options. Citizens forget that we are often welcome to work with our leaders by sharing ideas, or suggestions that might offer assistance. Instead, it is the common chorus of “off with their heads.”

Everyone is in a similar financial boat, and paying more money to local, state, and federal government is nauseating. We have all had to trim and cut our budgets, and it is showing practically everywhere.

Sometimes I find these attacks against our leaders – whether deserved, or not – to be so typically American, yet frustrating. We, as a nation, tend to hold our torch, our beacon high so that others might look to us for inspiration and hope. I wonder why others would want to be like us if we are a nation that will not work together – perhaps a shadow of our political structure – or citizens who merely stand back to attack, rather than step forward to help.

I am not so concerned about the fact that folks are worried about my home town’s referendum as I am about the immediate attacks. Rather than address those responsible for electing to establish a referendum, the shit-stirrer goes on the attack – typical of his history in our community.

What I find even more amusing is the fact that he tauts himself as such a stout Christian, yet stirs the pot in a non-Christ-like manner. I guess there are just too many definitions of what Christ-like means.

I encourage the members of the community to go to the school board meetings, to ask questions, to request one-on-one interviews rather than attacking the process behind their monitors. It seems as though our society prefers the Jerry Springer Show mentality, or yet, one of those drama-filled series that are cleverly known as “reality television.”

I think it sad that we yearn for the reality television dramas, behaving much like them, and forfeiting a more exciting, and fulfilling life.

I can remember when the new high school was to be built in the early 1970’s – many were on the same war-path. They had tried to build a new high school in the 1960’s, but for some reason – and I am not certain of the facts – it was never built. A neighbor of my grandparents vowed he had no reason to support a new school because all his children were grown. My grandfather reminded him that he would soon have grandchildren attending the school, and that someone else had paid taxes for his own children to go through public education.

I know the financial fears are legitimate. People are scared during this financial crisis. But when administrators offer to meet with the Paul Revere’s crying the loudest, and they refuse, I believe it merely goes to show they are behaving in a manner that is not supportive of the school, and community, but merely choosing to be an habitual shit-stirrer. It is a shame that so many are refusing to be proactive, but electing to be so negative, and in attack mode.

This is a time when we all need to be better citizens, and even more supportive of our schools (providing the school board’s requests are legitimate). There are so many things we can do to assist, if we stretch our minds, and our creativity.

I live right next door to our high school, and a 16′-0″ easement separates our boundaries. The school maintenance always took care of the mowing on the front portion that connects my front yard. Since moving here in2002, I have mowed that area of the easement. I also trim, weed, rake the leaves (and then move them to the curb for leave collection), pick up cigarette butts tossed carelessly by the bus drivers, shovel the sidewalks, and keep the area picked up. It is a small area, but I feel like I am helping, in a very small way, to assist the maintenance team who is already over-taxed on a very large campus.

I am sure there are many ways we, as citizens of all our communities, can offer assistance in some small way to our schools. I know unions often get in the way, but there must be ways to help, regardless if we have children in the system, or not. We are all stewards, ambassadors, and a member of the team. If we get involved, or ask questions, we will learn, we will grow, and we will become part of a solution rather than a part of the team of shit-stirrers who only care about spreading their manure.

There is one post submitter, my cousin, who is now a retired teacher. I love the she always asks intelligent questions, and always offers fact-based comments. Since early childhood, I have always been very fond of this cousin, and her husband – they are really neat people, and have raised some wonderful children. My cousin was always sharp, and to this day, I am always excited to read her comments because she represents what I believe to be the ideal community teammate!

With all the bullying in our schools, it seems to make sense where our children receive training… I read the several negative, or self-righteous posts and understand why bullying in the schools has not gone away. Bullying comes in all forms, and shit-stirring is another!

* This post, nor any portion of it may be reprinted, or copied without the express permission of the author.

 

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

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RED RIVER VALLEY
 arranged and adapted by Arlo Guthrie


From this valley they say you are going

We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile 

For they say you are taking the sunshine 

That has brightened our pathways awhile

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

I've been thinking a long time, my darling 

Of the sweet words you never would say 

Now, alas, must my fond hopes all vanish 

For they say you are gong away

Do you think of the valley you're leaving 

O how lonely and how dreary it will be 

And do you think of the kind hearts you're breaking 

And the pain you are causing to me

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true

They will bury me where you have wandered 

Near the hills where the daffodils grow 

When you're gone from the Red River Valley 

For I can't live without you I know

Come and sit by my side, if you love me 

Do not hasten to bid me adieu 

Just remember the Red River Valley 

And the cowboy who loved you so true
 



 
DONNA MAE CLARY-BARMES
May 8, 1924 - June 27, 1992

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The remainder of the evening was relaxing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A brief, but enjoyable trip.

And Monday, the official summer teaching schedule begins!

June 3, 2004, on a Thursday morning at 10:55am, my grandfather, Leroy Barmes, passed away.

Grandpa loved nothing more than to make people laugh.  In fact, it was his gift to us.  Of course, it goes without saying that he had an element of performance that often made him the center of attention and I’ve always said that Grandpa liked to be the bride at every wedding, the corpse at every funeral and the baby at every christening.

Sometimes, he was simply larger than life.

By the time I was able to walk and talk as a toddler I was Papaw Leroy’s little companion. It seemed as though I went everywhere with Grandpa, and one of my greatest joys was riding in the police car with him. I loved spending time with him, and remember him whistling, playing his harmonica, or humming “The Whiffenpoof Song.”

One day, after my Grandma Donna had taken me to watch the Panter Band practice at the old T-Way parking lot for the Indiana State Fair contest, I was marching around their front porch with a pretend trumpet. Grandpa asked, “Are you honkin’?” At the age of three I suppose I thought I meant “is your name ‘Honkin'”? So, when asked my name, I replied, “Darin Honkin’ Jolliff.”

Thus, Grandpa dubbed me with the nickname, “Honkin’” or simply, “Honk.”  He was the only one who ever called me, this and most of my cards, or letters, for nearly forty years were addressed to “Honkin’.

One of my earliest memories of my grandfather is not one most grandchildren would have.  We were having a church picnic out at Elwood’s Calloway Park and I, at age three, climbed to the top of a twenty foot slide.  For whatever reason, I looked over the side and lost my balance.  To this day, I can still clearly remember falling head first and seeing the ground begin to blur into a mass of solid green.  The image of my forty-six year old grandfather running towards me with outstretched arms is forever etched in my mind.  Grandpa caught me that afternoon.

As a young boy, Grandpa convinced me he had grown up with Abraham Lincoln. At Lincoln’s Indiana boyhood home, he pointed out a section of split rails that formed a fence, “Now, me and Abe chopped all those rails.”

I learned how Grandpa taught Lincoln how to play football, what good cooks Nancy Hanks and Mary Todd Lincoln were, how Grandpa assisted Lincoln with radio transmissions during the Civil War to follow Confederate lines, and how he and Grandma helped babysit the Lincoln sons. The history books have never described how the Lincoln funeral train was rerouted from Indianapolis through Elwood because Grandpa Leroy could not get off work from the police department.

In 1975, I entered the 5th grade at Washington Elementary School, and my teacher was the oft acerbic, yet terribly witty, Garnetta Brugger who had taught Mother and my uncles and cousins. On the first day of class, Mrs. Brugger was taking attendance and sharing tidbits about each student she knew. When she got to me, she explained to the class that she had taught my mother, and that she had known my grandparents since they were young. I was excited, and burst out with, “Oh, so you knew Abraham Lincoln, too!”

Mrs. Brugger, who could be quite intimidating, threw back her head as though struck with a blunt object, and grabbed her hair. “Honey child, I might look old, but I am not THAT old. Your grandday’s been telling you some whoppers.”

That evening, I looked in our encyclopedia. President Lincoln had died in 1865. Grandpa Leroy was born in 1921!

For over sixty years Grandpa kept jars filled with newspaper clippings on which he always wrote the date.  As a child I learned a good deal about our family’s history and of major events in the lives of our family friends through yellowed newspaper clippings.

One huge cookie jar contained clippings regarding the tragic loss of his uncle, Glenard Daugherty who was killed on Iwo Jima in 1945, obituaries of his Grandpa and Grandma Daugherty, his own new job at the Elwood Police Department in 1952, birth announcements of my mother, Diana, and uncles, Ron and Tommy, engagement and wedding announcements of his nieces, Judy and Jan Smith, a TV Guide page with a photograph of his cousin, Steve Daugherty announcing his new talk show on channel 13, an article of his cousin Stan Daugherty’s appointment as Elwood’s head basketball coach in 1980, and countless clippings about athletic or personal successes of family, neighbors and church friends.  Even in his 80’s and as his health began to decline, he still maintained this last jar of clippings.

These jars were not filled with yellowed, crumbling keepsakes.  These clippings were his gifts to us, reminding each of us the importance of family, and friends.  These clippings symbolize our family’s rich heritage throughout the years.  They encouraged us to never quit until we have crossed the finish line, to urge his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins – all of us who follow his generation – to stay connected to one another and to always keep our family together.

But above all, those clippings were gifts to never let us forget just how dearly Leroy Barmes loved and cherished his family and friends.

Six years ago I bid farewell to not only my grandfather, but to the man who stepped in to fill the role of “substitute dad” when our natural father abandoned us early in life.  Grandpa was the one who taught each of us how to throw, field and bat baseballs, and how to do so many of the other things that only a dad can truly teach his young children.  He, along with our mother, and our Grandma Donna, insisted that we do our best, always, and to rise above each and every adversity that attempted to barricade our lives.

Not only was Grandpa a roll model as a father figure, he was a roll model as an uncle.  I was blessed with wonderful uncles in Ron and Tom (and my Uncle Gary Jolliff), as well as our great uncles and even great-great-uncles, but I was very fortunate to observe Grandpa as “Uncle Roggie” or “Uncle Leroy.”  I hope that one day, my own niece and nephews will think of me with the adoration summed up by my cousin, Tanya, when she wrote her fondest memory of her Uncle Roggie, “He’s my uncle.  What more is there?”

All through my school years Grandpa never missed school programs, music concerts, marching band contests, college choir concerts, University Singers Spectaculars – no matter how far away from home.  Even as an adult, the year before he passed away, he was sitting in the front row at the Elwood Variety Show when I was invited back to perform. Later that fall he was up in the bleachers to watch my brother, Destin, coach his football team in a game against the Tipton Blue Devils.

Six years ago, with heartfelt gratitude and deep affection, and a treasury of many wonderful memories, I concluded a chapter in a tremendous book that is far from being finished.

For the past six years, I’ve not been addressed as “Honkin’.” And it is only fitting that the former nickname has been laid aside. Despite the fact that Grandpa had died, I knew, even then, that he would always be with me… and with me he has been. My humor, passion for living, love of being a father and uncle, and love for God are all remnants of my beloved grandfather.

“Auf wiedersehn” – “until we meet again.”

Today, June 2nd, would have been my great-great grandmother’s birthday. Anna Greenlee Jones, the daughter of Andrew Taylor Greenlee and Prudence Anna Ball, was born in 1875 in Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana.

As young girls, Anna and her sisters, Carrie, Mary and Esther, were quite a tribe of pranksters and, in some ways, holy terrors. The stories passed down from my grandmother about her own grandmother were generally quite funny, but also somewhat unbelievable.

One story was of a young Anna and her sisters taking darning needles and piercing one another’s ears. They took a piece of straw to stick through the new openings. However, Anna’s ear became infected. Now, in 1890, this was serious, but Grandmother Greenlee (my third great-grandmother) took the opportunity to gently box Anna’s ear when she got out of line.

Anna was fortunate to marry a jokester, and prank-loving man, Joel Monroe Jones (1873-1946). Together, Anna and Joel were a fun-loving, jovial couple that instilled an incredible sense of humor in their own three children: Mary Bell, my great-grandmother, and her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. Their brother, Henry, died at age two.

As a grown woman, Anna was known to have thrown buckets of water on unsuspecting farm-hands walking around a barn’s corner, or stringing a line of tin cans from the front screen door and up the staircase only to come crashing down on a timid maid coming home late in the evening from a date.

When my great-grandmother was a teenager, she held a Sunday school party at her home, the Vinson-Jones farm just south of Forrestville Cemetery, and down the road from the Greenlee farm in Boone Township. All the teenagers arrived in their horse and buggies – the kind where the wheels in the rear were larger than the wheels in the front. While the party was going on, Joel kept himself, and several farm hands busy reversing each buggy’s wheels. Considering the amount of work to change these wheels, it had to be an incredible task! So, when the party disbanded, the teenagers were forced to drive home barely able to see over the dash of their buggies! The funny thing is, Grandpa Jones was very stern looking, and the photos taken of him do not reveal his wit, and devilish humor.

Photos of Grandma Jones (1875-1950):

I am certain my great-grandmother, Belle Jones Clary (1897-1968), had a sense of humor, but it was surely eclipsed by the orneriness of her younger brothers, Alphie and Harry. I can only imagine the laughter, and many pranks in the Jones family home.

In 1973, my great-great uncle, Alphie Jones, died on his mother’s birthday.

Although Belle married the slightly witty, John William “Garrett” Clary (1898-1997), I don’t recall Grandpa Garrett being as much of a prankster as he was the target of so many pranks. His two daughters, Donna (1924-1992), my grandmother, and Aunt Joyce (1932) were forever creating a plethora of hilarious stories that still keep our family howling to this day. Poor Grandpa Garrett never knew whether he would find his shirt sleeves buttoned to other shirts, or his bed short-sheeted or filled with corn flakes. His standard response was a comical growl, “Those damned girls!” That phrase continued clear through the years when Donna and Joyce were grandmothers, themselves!

My Grandma Donna and Grandpa Leroy Barmes (1921-2004) maintained the legacy of humor, instilling it in their own three children: Diana, my mother, Uncle Ron (1952-1987) and Uncle Tom (1954). Grandpa Leroy came from a long line of practical jokers, as well, and the stories of my great-grandfather, Virgil Barmes (1900-1971), could fill a book! Grandpa Virgil, along with his brother-in-law, Harry Daugherty and some of the other Daugherty brothers, filled a completely separate treasure chest with memorable stories!

One of my most treasured impressions of my grandparents will always be their sense of humor. As a little boy, my earliest memories are filled with family laughter, mostly stemming from my grandparents. I often tell, and retell the hilarious moments that accompanied me through the years. Although my grandparents are no longer living, their spark of humor and laughter is eternal.

The one thing I have so enjoyed as a father is laughing often, and heartily! Fortunately, Jose has an incredible sense of humor, and there is scarcely a day that is not filled with three-fourths laughter. We have our serious moments, but we continually find them merged with chuckles, or outright laughter.

I am so grateful that part of my DNA has included a sense of humor. I do hope I will one day be remembered by my grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren for my sense of humor, and pranks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SPECTACULAR!

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

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

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

I am finally ready to sleep!

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

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This morning was a tiring, but invigorating walk!

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

For those who live in Kettering, I walked:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wishing everyone a wonderful Sunday!

Karen Carpenter said it best with…

Since the early morning it has been a steady shower here in Kettering. The skies seem forbidden of allowing the faintest glimmer of sunshine through. Jose did a great job on cutting the lawn yesterday afternoon, so the rain will refresh the lawn, and some of the plants I transplanted last weekend.

Have been busy doing nothing but business stuff today, and working with Rita who looks after my studio items. The agenda for tonight’s ACTION board of directors’ meeting is completed, and now I am hoping to do some items around the house.

Yesterday was fun doing yard work with Jose, and then relaxing to some movies on Netflix. I drove Jose to youth group, and then ran some errands. Since he did a nice job on the lawn he had a 12-inch sub waiting on him from Subway.

I settled in with some work while watching AMERICA – THE STORY OF US on The History Channel. The series has not been holding my interest as much as I thought it would. Last week I paid scant attention to the show. Last night, I watched the segment on The Statue of Liberty, and then began paying attention when during the history of Henry Ford thinking they would feature the Wright Brothers… nothing. Grrrr….

Tonight I will finish teaching and hurry to ACTION for the board meeting, and then return home and head to the gym with Jose.

Here are some photo from my family in Fowler, Indiana. Pictured are my sister-in-law, Stacia, and my nephews, Parker (4), and Freddie (2).

Vote for the Wright Brothers to represent the State of Ohio at the United States Capitol! From March 20 through June 12, 2010, Ohioans can cast their vote on who should be honored in Statuary Hall in the Capitol building in Washington, DC.

Eleven notable Ohioans are in the running to become the subject of a new statue in Statuary Hall; the Wright Brothers count as one and would be honored together.

Beginning on March 20, you can download an official ballot at http://www.legacyforohio.org, or beginning March 22, you can pick up a ballot at any Dayton History location.

There is no age limit for voting, so the whole family can participate!

However, only one vote is allowed per person, and each person must complete an official ballot.

Ballots may be turned in at the Paul Laurence Dunbar House now through June 12.

Below is some information, taken from the State’s site, on the individuals….

• Grant lived in Ohio from birth until he was 17
• Ashley lived in Ohio all his adult life
• Edison born in Ohio but moved at age 7
• McCulloch lived in Ohio his entire life
• Owens was born in Alabama, lived here through college, and moved on
• Reznik was born in Ohio, moved on at 18
• Sabin moved here at age 38; traveled a good bit and retired in DC
• Stowe lived here for 18 yrs
• Upton lived here her entire life
• Wilbur & Orville Wright: Wilbur born in Indiana and moved to Ohio as a child; Orville born in Dayton; and with the exception of living in Indiana for two years, the brothers remained Ohio residents

Ulysses S. Grant

• Ulysses Simpson Grant was the commanding general of the Union Army at the conclusion of the American Civil War, and the 18th President of the United States.
• Grant was born on April 27, 1822, in Point Pleasant, Ohio.
• In 1823, his family moved to Georgetown, Ohio where his father operated a tannery.
• On March 3, 1839, Grant received an appointment to the United States Military Academy at West Point.
• Grant graduated from West Point in 1843. He ranked twenty-first in a class of thirty-nine students.
• first military assignment outside of St. Louis, Missouri.
• sent to Corpus Christy, Texas when tensions increased between the United States and Mexico over land claimed by both nations.
• participated in the Battle of Palo Alto in 1846 and the assault on Molino del Ray in 1847
• Grant was promoted to first lieutenant
• moved to Detroit; moved to Sackett’s Harbor, New York
• grew disenchanted with army life; resigned his commission and returned to Missouri
• unsuccessfully tried his hand at several occupations, including farming and real estate
• working as a clerk in his father’s leather goods store in Galena, Illinois in 1860
• visited the headquarters of George B. McClellan in Cincinnati seeking a staff position, but McClellan would not receive him
• appointed Grant to a colonelcy of the Seventh District Regiment
• U.S. Senate approved an appointment of Grant as a brigadier general of volunteers due to his previous military experience
• received permission to begin a campaign on the Tennessee River – captured Forts Henry and Donelson; first major victories of the war for the Union military
• General Henry Halleck, assumed personal command of Grant’s army, reducing Grant’s leadership position; Grant considered resigning from the army, but his friend, William T. Sherman, persuaded him not to
• promoted to the rank of major general in the regular army and given command of all Union forces in the West
• promoted Grant to the position of lieutenant general and named him commander of all Union forces
• Lee surrendered his army to Grant on April 9, 1865
• Congress appointed him General of the Army
• first term as president was troubled with corruption – numerous political leaders, including the vice president, were accused of trading political favors for monetary compensation.
• Grant remained above the corruption, but many Americans faulted him for poor leadership and his inability to control his cabinet.
• Grant won reelection in 1872
• Sought a third term in 1876 and 1880 but rejected
• Congress reappointed Grant as General of the Army

James M. Ashley

• James Mitchell Ashley was an ardent abolitionist and a prominent political and business leader in Northwest Ohio in the mid-nineteenth century.
• Ashley was born on November 24, 1822, near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
• When he was four years old, his family moved to Portsmouth, Ohio.
• became the editor of the Portsmouth Dispatch, and later the Portsmouth Democrat.
• admitted to the Ohio bar, but never practiced law.
• moved to Toledo – became active in local politics and helped organize the Republican Party in the Toledo area
• elected Ashley to the United States House of Representatives
• reelected four times until he lost in 1868
• championed abolitionist causes before and during the Civil War
• hard-line Reconstructionist
• first representative to call for an amendment to the United States Constitution that would outlaw slavery
• championed the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution
• served as the chairman of the House Committee on Territories
• strongly opposed Mormonism
• successfully campaigned to reduce the size of Utah to limit Mormon influence
• played a leading role in President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment; believed that Johnson was a co-conspirator in Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, but he was never able to produce any hard evidence
• appointed Governor of the Montana Territory; unpopular with Montana residents; removed from office after fifteen months
• became involved with railroad construction and helped to establish the Toledo
• ran for the US House of Representatives in 1890 and 1892, but lost both elections

Thomas A. Edison

• Thomas Alva Edison was a world famous inventor and highly successful businessman who designed and manufactured many devices that greatly influenced history.
• Thomas Edison was born on February 11, 1847, in Milan, Ohio.
• At age seven, Edison moved with his family to Port Huron, Michigan.

William M. McCulloch

• William Moore McCulloch was a civil rights activist and member of the United States House of Representatives from Ohio in the mid-twentieth century.
• William McCulloch was born near Holmesville, Ohio, in 1901
• elected to the Ohio House of Representatives in 1932
• House Minority Leader from 1936 – 1939
• Speaker of the House from 1939-1944
• first House member to serve three consecutive terms as Speaker
• special election elected McCulloch to represent them in the United States House of Representatives, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Robert F. Jones
• McCulloch went on to represent western Ohio in the House in twelve succeeding Congresses through 1973
• champion of civil rights
• bipartisan support for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was instrumental in the adoption of that legislation
• President Lyndon Johnson publicly recognized McCulloch as “…the most important and powerful force” in the enactment of the bill.

Jesse C. Owens

• Jesse Owens was one of America’s greatest track and field athletes. He won four gold medals at the 1936 Olympic Games.
• James Cleveland Owens was born on September 12, 1913, in Oakville, Alabama.
• When Owens was eight years old, his family moved to Cleveland, Ohio.
• Life in Cleveland did not prove to be as successful as the Owens family had hoped. Owens had to take jobs after school to help his family financially.
• senior year in 1933 set a world broad jump record of 24 feet 11 ¾ inches
• proved to be one of the greatest athletes in the history of The Ohio State University
• tied one world record and set three new ones
• 1936 – competed in the Olympics in Berlin, Germany; won four gold medals and set or helped to set four Olympic records
• left Ohio State amid pressure to cash in on his newfound fame
• was successful as a spokesperson for a variety of companies, charitable groups, and non-profit organizations, including the United States Olympic Committee
• served as a goodwill ambassador for the United States around the globe
• presented Owens with the Medal of Freedom
• posthumously inducted into the U.S. Olympic Committee Hall of Fame

Judith A. Resnik

• Judith Resnik was an American astronaut who tragically died in the explosion of the Orbiter Challenger on January 28, 1986.
• Judith Arlene Resnik was born on April 5, 1949, in Akron, Ohio
• received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from Carnegie-Mellon University
• doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland
• accepted a position with RCA, designing circuits for phased-array radar control systems
• worked for the National Institutes of Health as a biomedical engineer in the Laboratory of Neurophysiology
• briefly worked for the Xerox Corporation
• selected to join the National Aeronautics and Space Association as an astronaut
• helped develop software for NASA’s space shuttle program
• flew into space as a mission specialist on the Discovery’s maiden flight, making her only the second American women in outer space
• killed on January 28, 1986 aboard the Challenger
• posthumously awarded Congressional Space Medal of Honor

Albert B. Sabin

• Albert Bruce Sabin was an American medical researcher who developed an oral vaccine to prevent poliomyelitis.
• Sabin was born on August 26, 1906, in Bialystok, Poland, then a part of Imperial Russia.
• 1921 – immigrated to Patterson, New Jersey
• became a naturalized U.S. citizen
• enrolled at New York University
• conducted research at the Lister Institute for Preventive Medicine in England
• 1939 – accepted a research position studying the cause of polio, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital
• served as a consultant to the U.S. Army Epidemiological Board’s Virus Committee during WWII
• returned to Cincinnati to continue his research on the polio virus
• determined that the virus lived primarily in the intestines of its victims
• developed a live vaccine; Jonas Salk had produced a “killed” vaccine for polio a few years before Sabin’s discovery
• World Health Organization permitted Sabin to test his vaccine in Chile, Holland, Japan, Mexico, Russia, and Sweden
• 1960 – U.S. Public Health Service allowed Sabin to distribute his vaccine to Americans
• last case of polio in the U.S. occurred in 1979
• remained at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital until 1969
• president of the Weizmann Institute of Science
• consultant for the U.S. National Cancer Institute
• Distinguished Research Professor of Biomedicine at the Medical University of South Carolina
• consultant at the Fogarty International Center for Advanced Studies in the Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health
• died of congestive heart failure (1993) at Georgetown University Medical Center

Harriet B. Stowe

• Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American author and ardent abolitionist. She is most notable for authoring Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a fictional work that demonized the evils of slavery, and galvanized anti-slavery sentiment in the North prior to the American Civil War.
• born on June 14, 1811, in Litchfield, Connecticut
• 1832 – the Beecher family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio
• began her writing career
• first story published in Western Monthly Magazine in 8134
• became friends with John Rankin, whose home in Ripley, Ohio served as a stop on the Underground Railroad; formed the basis of her book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• 1850 – moved to Brunswick, Maine; wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin
• objected to the federal government actively assisting slave owners in their efforts to reclaim their runaway slaves in Northern states; hoped that her readers would rise up against slavery
• book sold more than 500,000 copies during its first five years in print
• 1862 – met President Abraham Lincoln while she was visiting Washington, DC; Lincoln reportedly said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that started this Great War!”
• moved to Andover, Massachusetts
• established a winter residence in Mandarin, Florida; lived in Oakholm until 1870;

Harriet T. Upton

• Harriet Taylor Upton was a prominent suffragist and the first woman to serve as vice-chairperson of the Republican National Committee.
• Harriet Taylor was born on December 17, 1853, in Ravenna, Ohio
• moved to Warren, Ohio
• father elected as to Congress
• accompanied her widowed father to Washington, D.C.
• immersed herself in the women’s suffrage movement, working closely with her mentor, Susan B. Anthony
• dedicated herself to securing the right for women to vote
• began Ohio Women in Convention
• emerged as a leading women’s rights advocate during the 1890s
• served as president of the Ohio Woman Suffrage Association from 1899 to 1908 and from 1911 to 1920
• first woman elected to the Warren Board of Education
• first woman to serve on the Republican National Executive Committee in 1920
• ran unsuccessfully for the United States House of Representatives in 1926
• instrumental in the passage of the first child labor law, founding the Warren chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, and founding and serving as the first president of the Warren American Red Cross Chapter
• authored several children books
• also authored several histories, including A History of the Western Reserve; The Early Presidents, Their Wives and Children; and History of Trumbull County

Wilbur & Orville Wright

• Wilbur born in Indiana, moved to Ohio as a child
• Orville born in Dayton, Ohio, and was a LIFE-LONG RESIDENT OF DAYTON, OHIO! (Did live temporarily in Richmond, Indiana)
• Wilbur attended public schools but never graduated from high school or attended college
• Orville attended public schools and graduated from high school, but never attended college
• Wright brothers had an interest in flight that had been sparked by a toy shaped like a helicopter that their father had given them as children
• the two men began experimenting with wing designs for an airplane
• continued to experiment with their airplane designs, first with gliders and eventually with powered flight
• first successful flight of a powered airplane occurred at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, on December 17, 1903
• attempted to sell their design to the United States military, but the government was still too skeptical about the possibilities of flight
• 1908 & 1909 – Wilbur Wright was gaining international attention for the brothers’ designs by setting aeronautical records in France; also sought newspaper coverage by flying around the Statue of Liberty and then flying along the Hudson River;
• continued to develop new advances in aeronautical design.
• Wilbur died on May 30, 1912
• Orville continued to work on new developments in aircraft design
• 1916 – chose to sell the company that he and his brother had founded so that he could concentrate on aeronautical research and design rather than on manufacturing
• Orville was one of the original members of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA)
• served on NACA for a total of twenty-eight years
• NACA is known as the predecessor to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
• received the first Daniel Guggenheim Medal for “great achievements in aeronautics”
• elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences

John William Garrett Clary was born August 31, 1898, northwest of Elwood, Indiana in Madison County. His parents were John William & Mary Frances Noble Clary. His mother’s line came from Salisbury, Maryland, and settled in Clermont County, Ohio before moving on to Madison County, Indiana.

Garrett married Mary Belle Jones on September 30, 1920, and they had three children: Ronald Monroe Clary (1921-1936), Donna Mae Clary Barmes (1924-1992), and Joyce Ann Clary Riser (1933).

Garrett was a farmer in Boone Township of Madison County, Indiana, retiring to Elwood in 1966. Garrett died in October, 1997, and is buried in Forrestville Cemetery in Madison County, Indiana.

Their lineage:  (I apologize for any misspelling of names)

  1. Ronald Monroe Clary (died at age 15)
  2. Donna Mae Clary – married Leroy D. Barmes
    1. Diana Kay Barmes Haas
      1. Darin L. Jolliffe-Haas
        1. Jose A. Jolliffe-Haas
      2. Dena Linn Haas Johnson
        1. Jonathan Garrett Surber
        2. Andrew Langlee Barmes Surber
        3. Kaytlinn Mae Johnson
        4. James Johnson
    2. Destin Lang Haas
      1. Parker Leroy Haas
      2. Frederick Lee Haas
    3. Ronald Dean Barmes
      1. Alicia Deann Barmes Hildenbrandt
        1. Jamie Hildenbrandt
        2. Jennifer Hildenbrandt
        3. Jordan Hildenbrandt
      2. Amanda Barmes Yaba
        1. Hailey Yaba
        2. Jocelyn Yaba
    4. Tommy Kent Barmes
      1. Jarod Barmes
      2. Michael Barmes
  3. Joyce Ann Clary Riser – married to Roderick Riser
    1. Kim Collette Riser Watt
      1. Brittany Watt
      2. Derek Watt
    2. Debra Deann Fox
      1. Joshua Fox
      2. Jacob Fox
      3. Jordan Fox

 

I had every full intention of being more productive today but it clearly was not meant to be.

Last night, Jose and I attended a “Poor White Trash Birthday Party” for our friend, Christi Salchak. It was a riot. The guests were invited to dress in their finest white trash attire. I was more reluctant than my son who wore his tight “Little Hottie” shirt he bought from Kings Island, a painted on mustache, hiking boots, and a ball cap… he looked the part. The Salchak kids were appropriately dressed for this, as was their mother who appeared in the front yard to greet us wearing a halter top, ratty shorts, a pink bathrobe, leopard print slippers, and curlers in her hair.

jose carrie

The hosts provided hot dogs and boxes of moon pies, and the guests were to bring something. We brought a large bowl filled with individual pudding cups, cheap fruit pies, and plastic spoons sticking up amongst the pudding and pie arrangement. To top it off, which had everyone howling, we plopped down a bucket of Lee’s chicken on the table. We roasted our own hot dogs, and enjoyed a pleasant fair and terrific conversation.

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Later we played “Butt Charades” and “Toss The Underwear Over The Bar” – and the door prizes were items from a laundry basket of garage sale items. While the teenagers played hide and seek on the vast, wooded, stream-lined property, the adults, and one of my former students (now in college), sat and talked around the campfire.

By 11:30pm, Jose and I were pulling into the Haasienda.

This morning I was wide awake after another fitful night’s sleep. I just could not get comfortable, and the light headache I had endured all of Saturday was much more apparent. I read a little between dozing, and finally roused at 8:00am to feed the animals, eat breakfast, check sugar, take morning meds, and prep for the walk.

While on the walk I smoked my pipe, blew a kiss to the neighbor lady who drove by, and laughed at Flyer trying to catch squirrels. Upon the return home I:

  • checked items on the computer
  • endured some Obama bashing on Face Book from some piece of work from my hometown (not the Whack Job who hounded and stalked me all last fall during the election)
  • watched some coverage of Senator Kennedy’s funeral
  • blew the leaves in the front yard
  • waved to the neighbor mowing his yard
  • took out some weeds
  • putzed around the backyard
  • planned to go to the deck to work – but too chilly
  • cleaned my study
  • re-covered the material on my piano bench
  • used the extra material, along with some Magic Stitch, to make a cover for the top of my piano
  • rehung my windchimes – which have failed to chime this summer
  • chatted with Jose – and laughed

Now, Jose is off to work. I shall call Mother for our weekly recap, relax, and then pick up Jose from work for the last part of youth group (SIGNS). I look over my laundry list of today’s activities and I still feel as though little was accomplished…

 

This morning I woke at 6:15am and pressed the On/Off button on the television’s remote control. There was a video showing the White House silhouetted against the rising sun… but the flag was lowered to half-mast.

Within seconds my racing mind was informed….

Senator Edward Kennedy, 1932-2009.

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When I traveled to Washington, DC with my brother’s 8th graders in 2000, we sat in the senate gallery and amidst the sea of dark suits, the white, silvery hair of Senator Kennedy stood out. My brother, Destin, also a presidential history enthusiast, leaned forward over the gallery rail, staring down at the iconic figure. It was a moment where we got to see a great performer on the stage of American history.

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It is strange to think of our country without a Kennedy, from the Camelot generation, not at the helm of our government. While the media personalities are expressing their opinion that the next generation of Kennedys are not as powerful as their parents, I believe it is too soon to call the play on this generation. After all, they were overshadowed by their father, and uncle.

This morning, I am not as taken with Senator Kennedy’s politics, nor his successes, or mistakes as I am with Ted Kennedy the family man – especially, Uncle Ted. This morning I think of the nieces, and nephews who have lost a cherished uncle.

I was born the day the Warren Commission released its report on President Kennedy’s assassination. In June 1968, two months following Senator Robert Kennedy’s visit to my hometown of Elwood, Indiana, I sat with my parents watching his funeral at Arlington Cemetery.

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Uncle Ted was the Kennedy of that generation with whom I was the most familiar. My Uncle Ron was my version of an “Uncle Ted,” and had he lived, I have no doubt he would be the revered uncle. However, my brother and I are now the uncles, and we each believe in our obligation to uphold this grand title. I love being a father, but there is something enchanting about being an uncle. There is a mutual adoration, and affection, that is strikingly different with nieces and nephews.

My grandfather loathed the Kennedy’s – a loathing he adopted from his father that sprang back to an episode during The Great Depression. However, I think my grandfather would join me in agreeing that Ted Kennedy appeared to be a much loved uncle. My grandfather seemed to be the favored uncle for his nieces and nephews, and throughout their lives I witnessed his pride, and joy in their accomplishments, and the agony springing from their tragedies. I always marveled at his adoration of his grandchildren, but there was always that “uncle element” in his being that I cherish still to this day. My grandfather, and Uncle Ron were great role models for this uncle, and I can only hope, and trust, that I shall follow in their footsteps as a great uncle.

Jacqueline-Bouvier-Kennedy-Onassis

 

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.

It is May 10th, 2009…

Mother’s Day – a day, in our family when we planted flowers. Mother’s Day – a day, in our family when we planted flowers. It is a day we celebrate our mothers, grandmothers, and all the women in our lives. While I am thrilled I got to spend some time with my own mother this day, I know several friends are mourning the loss of their own mothers, and grandmothers.

This year, May 10th, though joyous for the celebration of my wonderful mother, and remembering many friends and family on this day, it feels heavy.

A former student’s grandmother passed away last month. Mimi was a delightful lady who was always there to cheer on her grandchildren, Jeff and Danielle, at all the Kettering Fairmont music events, as well as their post college careers. Today, Candy, Jeff and Danielle’s mother, is celebrating her first Mother’s Day without her mother…

Last summer, the mother of my dear friend, Duneen DeVore passed away suddenly, and this past Friday, the angels sang Grandma Dora to her rest. Grandma Dora was a member of Normandy United Methodist Church where I was director of music, and I cannot imagine a more beautiful lady. Today, Duneen, Erick and Nick have a double emptiness this Mother’s Day…

An all-time favorite of mine was Peggy Straughen, a choir member of Normandy. I wrote an earlier post on Peggy when she died unexpectedly last summer. Today, I also think of her daughter, Heidi (my all time favorite costumer in the whole world), and her children, and family…

One of the most incredible actresses I know, Katie Pfister Musick, lost both her mother, and her father within six months. Last July her mother died suddenly, and on Christmas Eve, her father slipped away to join his wife.

Last summer, Duneen, Heidi and Katie all lost their mother’s within four days of one another…

Many other friends, and family, also spend this day celebrating mothers and grandmothers who have been sung to their rest by the angels.

For my family, it is no different.

In 1992, my own beloved grandmother departed this world. Grandma Donna, the most beautiful of ladies, is still with me, but oh how I wish she could have enjoyed the great-grandchildren.

I got to spend the weekend with my own mother, for whom I owe so much. Therefore, I am so much more grateful for time spent with my mother knowing that a number of friends are experiencing their first Mother’s Day without their own beloved mothers…

And for my dear friend, Kay Hetzer, this is the eleventhanniversary of her son’s death. At about this time, 11 years ago, I learned that Bill & Kay’s son, Andy, had died in a tragic car accident. Their hearts are even heavier this year due to the loss of a second son…

Today, while celebrating our mothers, let’s all remember those who no longer have their mothers to share this day, and to those mother’s who have lost children…

And on a wonderful note, this arrived from my friend, Debbie Allen:

Darin, thank you. And back to you. Because gender has nothing to do with mothering. You play both parts well.
 Love,
Debbie

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…

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day – one of my favorite holidays (and I do not even drink).

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Eleanor Roosevet on her wedding day.

Tomorrow is also the 105th anniversary of Eleanor & Franklin Roosevelt, the 25th Anniversary of my friends, Valerie & Mike Lockhart.

Tomorrow I will have mint green shakes for the students and parents (and siblings who tag along), and THE QUIET MAN will be on the television during the teaching hours.

thequietman

Here is a nice link about the movie: http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.users.qwest.net/~aknot/quiet3x.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.users.qwest.net/~aknot/quietman.htm&usg=__yHDvVgCnX9Q3P-89iWuQwxk8uIc=&h=262&w=350&sz=23&hl=en&start=10&um=1&tbnid=DdgLwqSkMMKTfM:&tbnh=90&tbnw=120&prev=/images%3Fq%3DThe%2BQuiet%2BMan%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1%26newwindow%3D1

And here is one of the more beautiful scenes in the movie – featuring one of the most beautifully, haunting songs, “The Isles Of Innisfree.” This is, perhaps, my most favorite melody of all time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jreYChl7k10&feature=PlayList&p=5ABA67393EE5BB3E&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7

If you ever get a chance to watch this movie, please do… Barry Fitzgerald is hilarious, and one of the many reasons I love this film.

And to my Irish ancestry, I salute the Clarys, Daughertys, Bannons and Barnetts!

ORIGINAL LYRICS TO THE SONG:
(by Dick Farrelly)

I’ve met some folks who say that I’m a dreamer,
And I’ve no doubt there’s truth in what they say,
But sure a body’s bound to be a dreamer
When all the things he loves are far away.
And precious things are dreams unto an exile.
They take him o’er the land across the sea —
Especially when it happens he’s an exile
From that dear lovely Isle of Inisfree.

And when the moonlight peeps across the rooftops
Of this great city, wondrous though it be,
I scarcely feel its wonder or its laughter.
I’m once again back home in Inisfree.

I wander o’er green hills through dreamy valleys
And find a peace no other land could know.
I hear the birds make music fit for angels
And watch the rivers laughing as they flow.
And then into a humble shack I wander —
My dear old home — and tenderly behold
The folks I love around the turf fire gathered.
On bended knees ,their rosary is told.

But dreams don’t last —
Though dreams are not forgotten —
And soon I’m back to stern reality.
But though they pave the footways here with gold dust,
I still would choose the Isle of Inisfree.

* Gaelic words meaning “love of my heart”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xn7rjlOxfc

Last night I told my son that I was officially a part of the Twentieth Century.

“But, Dad, this is the Twenty-first Century.”

Yes. That is true. But, I finally did a very Twentieth Century thing – I finally got cable television.

With the digital transition, I figured this was the time to investigate. I could have gone with just the converter boxes, but decided to give cable a shot. So, I set up Dish with AT&T. I paid them $99 for set-up and they sent the worker out. When he saw the line of trees bordering the easement between my yard and the high school’s property, he quickly assessed there was no way we could do satellite. The worker made a call into the company, and assured me there would be a supervisor coming shortly to validate this worker’s assessment. Three days later, there was still no visit from a supervisor.

On top of this, $40 was reapplied to my banking account. $59 was not returned from AT&T. This only tops the list of numerous grievances I have with this company.

So, I contacted Time-Warner. My God! Sales people can be vultures!

This cable – dish – anything fairly technical stuff – is very foreign to me. In fact, when I was investigating it a month ago, I sent a note to four different friends (and my brother) because I knew they would address my questions in layman’s terms, and in a manner I could comprehend. The vultures at Time-Warner, though not outwardly pushy, just could not seem to hone in on my needs, and could not assist me thinking through the process. It was always, “With what you described, you should probably go with this….” – always something that I knew was not what I wanted as I had the information pulled up in front of me on the computer screen.

My neighbor lady’s niece is in the customer service department at Time-Warner, and we set it up so she could contact me. Trying to get to Joyce through Time-Warner was more difficult than walking into the White House from off the street with no appointment. Finally, it was accomplished, and Joyce was wonderful.

So, last night, my home entered the Twentieth Century.

I never felt the need for cable, especially since I work so much from home. I did not want to become addicted to television. Now that WEST WING is no longer a weekly ritual, I stick mostly to TWO AND A HALF MEN, FAMILY GUY, and documentaries on PBS. That is pretty much my television line-up, aside from my Netflix documentaries and biographies. When I visit Mother in Indiana, I will stay up most of the night watching The History Channel – always returning to Ohio exhausted.

The cable guy had an easy installment since the house was already set up for cable, and the lines ran to every room but the kitchen.
 
After he left, I realized there was no menu indicating the new channels/stations. I heard Jose in the basement playing XBox, so I knew that he would not know the channels. I searched on line, and could find nothing. About 20 minutes into my search, Jose comes upstairs and says, “I bet you are loving channel 52.”  I asked what was on 52… “The History Channel.”  He then proceeded to identify me about 15-20 channels from memory! I asked how he knew them considering he was on XBox, and he said he just ran through the channels and memorized them.
 
Now, if he could only memorize his German, items from English and biology….
I decided I needed to get some work accomplished and I turned back to my monitor… within a few minutes I was channel surfing. Ugh… too many sports channels and why in the heck are there shopping channels?
I decided to delete some of unnecessary channels. It was rather easy to navigate. The televisions in my study and bedroom (from where I often work, as well) are identical, so they were simply. The living room’s television had the cable entering into the television; however, I placed it into the DVD/video machine so that the entire stereo system would also be connected. Wonderful!
I returned to my study, pleased with myself.
At age 44, I had adjusted the cable channels on three televisions, reattached the living room cable into the DVD/video machine… all without the assistance of my teenage son!

Yes! This is an exciting day for me. As a child in elementary school I can remember calculating how many years before it would be Lincoln’s birthday, and how old I would be. Well, the day has arrived… 2009, and I am 44 years old.

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abrahamlincolnportrait

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Jose’s youth group had an interesting discussion on how “doubt” is often crucial to faith.

The youth were asked that upon waking this morning, count your blessings, and to walk through the next few days in a state of gratitude. My friend, Jeff Carter, sometimes will list on his blog items for which he feels blessed.

I am going to start a practice on our kitchen dry-erase board – and each evening, Jose and I will list one or two items for which we feel blessed. 

This morning, to start this process, I am providing my own list:

  1. My son
  2. Music… Theatre….
  3. My family
  4. Music… Theatre….
  5. My friends
  6. Music… Theatre….
  7. My students and their families
  8. Music… Theatre….
  9. Abraham Lincoln (remember, his 200th birthday is this Thursday!)
  10. Music… Theatre….
  11. Wilbur, Orville & Katharine Wright
  12. Music… Theatre….
  13. Education
  14. Music… Theatre….
  15. My co-writers, Gail Whipple & Leslie Merry
  16. Music… Theatre….
  17. Flyer & Logan
  18. Music… Theatre….
  19. Teachers – former, current and future
  20. Music… Theatre….
  21. Our home & neighbors
  22. Music… Theatre….
  23. Having Diabetes – learning how to understand, believe in, appreciate, and love my health
  24. Music… Theatre….
  25. Having my spirituality
  26. Music… Theatre….
  27. Knowing that I am loved
  28. Music… Theatre….
  29. My wonderful career which affords me the opportunity to work with so many wonderful people
  30. Music… Theatre….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

IT WAS TRULY SCRUMPTIOUS!

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“It was more than spectacular – to use the vernacular – it’s wizard, it’s smashing, it’s keen.”

Forty years ago, I opened a Christmas present, and to my delight was a cast iron model of the car from the newest musical motion picture, CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG starring Dick Van Dyke.

Tonight, my dear friends, Bill & Ann Impson, and I went to see the musical stage version of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG at Dayton’s Schuster Center of the Performing Arts. This production was “phantasmagorical!” The new songs were blended well, and though the story’s plot was slightly different than the beloved movie, it was still “uncategorical.”

It was fun!

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It was not a heady, deep thinking show – but one that returned me to the age of four or five, when life was so innocent and splendid. Though the car was barely warmed up by the time I returned home from the seven minute drive, it made no difference because my mind and mouth were focused on the music of the title song – not the temperature of 14 degrees!

The songs are still whirling through my head. 

And the car lifted into the air, turned, tilted toward the audience, and landed… although I figured out the mechanics of the hydraulic wench, it was still magical.

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I had the best time with Bill & Ann, and am so glad I could share a moment of one of my favorite musicals, and cherished childhood memories.

“You’re sleek as a thoroughbred.
Your seats are a feather bed.
You’ll turn everybody’s head today.
We’ll glide on our motor trip
With pride in our ownership
The envy of all we survey.

It’s uncategorical,

A fuel burning oracle,

A phantasmagorical machine.

It’s more than spectacular,

To use the vernacular,

It’s wizard, it’s smashing, it’s keen.”

 

I have been blessed with numerous cousins on both sides of my family. Due to where I was born in the mix, most of my cousins are either older or younger, and growing up, I never felt as though I had cousins who were considered playmates. My great-grandparents, grandparents and parents were mostly elder children, and their siblings seemed to trail behind them. Therefore, my parents’ first cousins were mostly a little older than myself. Those 2nd and 3rd cousins who were my age always seemed to live far away.

Now, at 44, I have begun to know a number of my cousins, and communicate with them fairly regularly. One cousin, in particular, is Dana Barmes Kleumke. Dana’s father, Uncle Danny, is my great-uncle – the younger brother of my grandfather. Uncle Danny andmy mother are nine months apart in age; therefore, he was more like a brother to my mother. Dana is about four years behind me in age, and seems to me, one of the most remarkable individuals. Her blog wears me out as she escorts us on her journey each day as a stay-at-home mom who home-schools her two sons, Mat and Joey. I know Dana’s mother, my Aunt Bonnie, has always been resourceful, but Dana make’s Martha Stewart and all the great names of resourcefulness appear shabby and lazy. I am busy in my own way, and I can appreciate the differences of our lives – but there are some mornings when I shake my head at all she has accomplished by the time I have taken my sugar, used the bathroom, fed the dog and cat, and prepared my cup of tea. Her blog is definitely worth reading.

I have a number of cousins who are Mother’s age who were/are teachers. Judy Smith-Hallett, her husband, Jerry Hallett, and Stan Daugherty were always so appealing to me because they were teachers. I was always interested in Judy, but we only managed to see one another at weddings and funerals where lengthy conversations were difficult, at best. After my grandfather died in June 2004, I have gotten to know Judy more, and love how she always has a seeming calmness about her.

Stan Daugherty was a well-known basketball coach in Central Indiana, and was at Elwood Community High School for several years. Fortunately, he was there my last three years of high school and was my Algebra teacher. Stan was later to become an invaluable role model as he was great at providing 2-3 different options to approach problem solving so that each student would understand. Today, as a teacher, I will keep finding the right path for each student until the mission is accomplished.

My other cousins – Janice Smith-Kleyla and Susan Hughes-Cleaver, from Mother’s side, were my bubbly cousins. Though I do not see them often, I always feel as though no time has elapsed.

My grandmother, Donna Clary-Barmes, had a much younger sister, Joyce Clary-Riser. Aunt Joyce, who lives in Alexandria, Indiana, has two daughters, Kim, 42 (lives in Florida), and Debbie, who will be 39 this June. Since Kim lives in Florida there is no contact, but I do have email contact with Debbie. Although they are my mother’s first cousins, they always seemed like my first cousins, and I always enjoy any time with them, as well as Aunt Joyce.

The sad part is – all of us are busy with our families – children, and for a good number, grandchildren. Debbie has children a little younger than mine, and Dana, as well as her two siblings, Daniel and Dama, are busy with their little ones. I wish we would all make a pact that at least one day each summer we could all come together for a picnic. I did have a Barmes Family reunion several years ago, and due to the  hecticness of some trying family issues, I was forced to abandon the planning of a second reunion. Hopefully this can be done, soon.

When Mother was born, one of the first relatives to see her was Uncle Raymond andAunt Betty (Church) Daugherty. Uncle Raymond was actually my Grandpa Leroy’s uncle, despite the fact Raymond was four months older than Grandpa. Grandma Donna and Aunt Betty had grown up together near Summitville, Indiana. Two best friends married an uncle and nephew. When I was born, according to my baby book, one of my first visits was from my great-great uncle andaunt, Raymond and Betty, andtheir sixteen year old son, Steve. When I adopted my first son, who was from Texas, I called Uncle Raymond and arranged to visit them in Spring, Texas, where they were living – and still are – with Steve. So, they had the honor of welcoming a third generation of our family’s line.

When I was little, Steve was at Ball State, along with Letterman, Jane Pauley, and Joyce DeWitt. He moved on to radio and television, popularly known in Indiana as Steve Michaels. Whenever we would see him at community events I was always so excited, and proud, that the well-known radio and television personality was my cousin. At one point, Steve had his own television show that aired early every morning. I rose, a good 45 minutes before I had to get up for school, and eat my breakfast while watching Steve on television. I know the content of the interviews was beyond my understanding, but all that mattered was the fact my cousin was on television.

As I grew older, I realized that Steve’s accomplishments were well within my grasp, and it hit home when I was hired to appear in a television special, FRED WARING’S AMERICA. I had no idea who Fred Waring was, and could not understand why my grandparents were so thrilled. They had always rejoiced in my accomplishments, but the idea of their grandson appearing on a Fred Waring program was monumental. One comment stuck with me. Grandma was telling one of her friends about the impending program, and said, “Oh, he’s just like our cousin, Steve Daugherty, who was on television.”

The fact I was going to be on television in a Fred Waring special did not mean nearly as much as being compared to my cousin, Steve.

Since visiting Steve, andhis parents, I have been in weekly, almost daily contact with Steve – personal emails, family history, fond remembrances, and always, a healthy plethora of (naughty) jokes! Thank God my sense of humor matches Steve’s.

I had received several emails these past few months regarding the health of Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty, and it is sad to learn that, Aunt Betty espepcially, are not in the best of shape. While tending to his parents, Steve was also battling health issues.

Earlier this week, Steve wrote and shared he has pancreatic cancer.

Upon receiving the news, I pushed it to the back of my mind. While working through my health issues with heart-related items, it just seemed impossible that this sentence would be given to Steve. This morning, during our weekly Sunday chat, I could tell Mother is quite upset, though, as always, she maintains her typical calmness. She knew more about Steve’s condition, and began sharing the details. I was all too familiar with the life expectancy of those who battle pancreatic cancer, but in my mind these past few days, I could not connect it with Steve. Mother said Steve reported to her that it would be six months to a year.

It was a struggle for me to continue the remainder of our conversation because my mind descended into a fog. After hanging up, I sat at my desk and sobbed. After a few minutes, I decided to write Steve, reminding him to be courageous, and strong, for at the age of 44, I still looked to him as a hero, and a role model. Steve responded with a grateful note, and some words I shall always cherish. I do fear that this will bring down the already deteriorating health of Uncle Raymond and Aunt Betty.

As children, our heroes are unconquerable in life, and it is a struggle when we realize they are human. Despite the fact I have rejoiced in Steve’s human qualities, it is still agonizing for me to be reminded of the body’s finite, and sometimes, frail nature. Even knowing the unconquerable power of the spirit, I still wish pain and discomfort could be avoided for Steve. I am certain that this new chapter, this new journey – though wholly unexpected and undesired – will be one of growth, and appreciation, serving as a purpose for more than what any of us can immediately fathom… one of the beautiful, and great mysteries of life.

 

The evening of New Year’s Eve, I received an email from a friend I’ve never met in person. We actually met on-line in an Internet group to which we both belong. This particular email resounded with me, as it seemed to justify some of my thoughts, and release some of my angst.

“There comes a point in your life when you realize
who matters…
who never did…
who won’t anymore…
and who always will…
So, don’t worry about people from your past, there’s a reason why they didn’t make it to your future.”

There are times when others slip out of your life for various reasons. There were fellow parents I knew from the middle school years when our sons were in the same activities, and once our sons arrived at the high school we parents moved in different directions with our sons. Of course, I began meeting new parents, especially those associated with marching band.

And then there are people in your life who really should not be there, for whatever reason. There have been times I have unconsciously moved away from someone, later realizing the positive impact. And, there have been those times when I decidedly moved away from individuals, or even groups, because I realized their attitudes, or behaviors, were unhealthy to my mind, my spirit, and a few times, my reputation (personal and professional).

In 2008, I found myself faced with the realization I had to move away from several individuals as I was discovering unhealthy characteristics, or actions, that were draining, or affecting me. At first, when I met certain people, I had no idea how gently around me their web of deception, or masked behaviors, were capturing me. One individual happens to be related to me, but due to choices made which greatly affect the well being of others, I decided I was not going to involve, nor support these behaviors.

This past year, my son, Jose, also had to move away from several good friends who were involving themselves in various negative behaviors. It was difficult for him to do, but he knew he was making the healthiest choices when he took a new path for himself.

Until I reread the above quote earlier this week, I did not realize just how freeing several of my decisions were. One or two individuals I miss, only because they were connected to those who were more infectious, but on the whole, life has moved on in a more positive direction. I always find it amazing how we meet some individuals and later discover how we were sucked into a vacuum of their attempts to dominate, or their masked negativity.

I have always held dear, a comment made by a dear friend, Valerie Lockhart. I knew her sister’s family long before I knew Valerie, having met them in 1991. Her sister’s children always referred to me as “Uncle Darin.” After the Lockharts came into my life around 2001, Sophie and Jackson began calling me, “Uncle Darin,” too. Valerie and I were talking about this one day, and she said, “I totally believe families are made and you don’t have to be blood related to be considered family.”

As an adoptive parent, this is so true. And in other areas of my life, close friends have become as dear as family. And some family have diminished in their relationship to me – and that is fine. I do strongly believe in family ties, and bonds, but not if they are unhealthy, or damaging to others. Valerie has, somehow, become more like an older sister to me, as has Christi Salchak. Jeff Carter, who is a godfather to my sons, is definitely my older brother. I find my self going to these three for advice, so much like a younger sibling, and I value, and respect these three, greatly.

There are always reasons for making healthy choices, and moving on, but bless those who remain with us!

What a wonderful Christmas this was!

Wednesday morning Jose and I left for Elwood at 9:30am. We had planned leaving Tuesday night, but due to the ice storm Mother encouraged us not to risk it. The drive to Elwood was simple and uneventful, but right at 2.5 hours.

After getting settled in, Jose and I went to get him a haircut, and run errands. Later that evening, Mother took Jose shopping so he could pick out some Christmas clothes himself. And on to the Chinese restaurant for our annual Christmas Eve dinner. This tradition began in 2000, the first year in 16 that I was not directing a church music program. Mother and I found ourselves sitting at home on Christmas Eve and decided to go out for dinner. Nothing in Elwood was open (and Jim Dandy was still alive and kicking/cooking!), so we ventured on to Noblesville where we found a Chinese buffet. We have continued to do so every year, only the past few years we have ventured to Muncie.

Thursday morning we were on the road at 6:00am for Fowler, Indiana, where my brother’s family lives. We made a quick stop at Village Pantry to buy donuts for Parker (my nephew), and I grabbed some coffee. Northern Indiana was hit with ice the night before, and we were wondering if the emergency level ban would be lifted – and it was. No ice en route, except a nasty patch on the road leading to the Haasienda of Fowler.

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(L/R) Stacia & Fred; Jose & Parker; Parker & Mother

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Fred, my youngest nephew and godson.

Stacia’s mother, Norma, arrived with a breakfast casserole, and we had a great breakfast. I was seated between my adorable nephews, Parker, 3.5, and Fred, 1. After breakfast, we opened gifts. My gift to my nephews each year is a basket/crate of books. This year, I added more classics of Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, etc., and began their collection of the Hardy Boys series. For Fred, my godson, I added to special gifts – one book belonging to Ronald Monroe Clary, the brother of my grandmother, and a book belonging to Harry Jones, the brother of my great-grandmother.

After visiting a while, Mother, Jose and I headed back to Elwood where we enjoyed a delicious turkey dinner. Mother made macaroni and cheese like my great-grandmother, Mary Belle Jones, and though she will be gone forty years this January 28, I am very sentimental over those little touches.

Friday, we dawdled around the house a bit, took Mother’s decorations and tree down, and then went to lunch. We stopped in the public library to visit our dear friend, Nancy Sumner, and she gave us a personal tour of the Indiana Room which houses some of the Wendell Willkie collection on which I worked when I was in high school.

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The Carnegie Library where I worked in high school. Mother & our family friend, Nancy Sumner.

The remainder of the day was spent visiting, and enjoying time together.

Saturday morning we packed, showered, and then spent a delight three hours with my Aunt Joyce. Joyce is the younger sister of my grandmother, Donna Clary-Barmes. We had the best time laughing, and reminiscing. There were a few times when I had to fight back the tears, especially when discussing my grandmother.

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Mother & Aunt Joyce.

Jose and I were on the road at 5:00pm, and arrived in Dayton at 7:35pm after one pit stop for all three of the car’s occupants.

Jose and I went to Wal-Mart and I used my Christmas gift card to purchase paint for my kitchen. Thank you, Mother!

Tomorrow I will take down decorations, prep the kitchen, and begin painting.

Monday morning I will go to the doctor for my blood sugar, return home and finish the kitchen. Later that night is a birthday party for Sophie Lockhart, and my goal is to be finished painting by Monday afternoon.

Wednesday is the funeral for the father of my dear friend, Katie Pfister-Musick. Katie’s father passed away Christmas night after a long battle with cancer. Sadly, I attended the funeral of her mother this past summer.

So ends a wonderful Christmas holiday spent with family, and friends. A great Christmas, indeed!

I had hoped to be home with Mother tonight in Elwood, but the ice storm as prevented us from heading out until tomorrow morning. I called Mother around 3:00pm, and we both agreed we should not chance it.

Jose and I ran to the mall and the main roads were fine… the side-roads were nasty. There is a side street near us, Rockhill Avenue, and I turned on to it and did not press the speedometer much, keeping it between 0-5 mph. I was still sliding into the curb, and angling in the middle of the road. 

Right now, it is sleeting and raining.

I believe the weather kept many inside this evening as the roads around the mall were not lined with traffic, and the stores we visited we not busy. Of course, the sad state of the economy may also be a culprit.

Today, some whack-job who belongs to the same on-line group pestered me with a number of private comments. Seems she disagrees with President-elect Obama, and takes it out on me. I have shared her messages with others, including Mother, and we have gotten great laughs from them. While they are hilarious in their content, and their self-righteous attitude, they are also sad as demonstrate the uglier side of Christianity.

My nephews, Parker and Fred, will be receiving a TON of books. Some books are for when they are older – starting their collection of The Hardy Boys series, and some classics like Tom Sawyer, Swiss Family Robinson, and others. I also found two heirlooms to give to my godson, Fred. The one book belonged to an uncle, Harry Jones, and was a gift from his aunt around 1907 – one hundred years before Fred’s birth. Harry would have been Fred’s third great-uncle. Another book was a gift to another uncle, Ronald Monroe Clary, brother of my grandmother. The book was a gift from Ronald’s great-grandmother, Grandma Greenlee (Prudence Ball Greenlee) who died in 1929. Since Ronald was born in 1921, it centers around the time of 1921-1929 when the book would have been a gift. Grandma Greenlee would have been Fred’s 4th great-grandmother.

I got Jose several Fairmont Firebird shirts, as well as a navy blue hoodie. I am also giving him a certificate for martial arts lessons at the rec center.

I need to pack, but have no energy.

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.
 
 

This past week’s election seems to have ignited a multitude of bright shining moments – moments that have touched others in a deep, hopeful manner.

This particular story was on Indianapolis’ Channel 8…

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When President Elect Barack Obama delivered his victory speech Tuesday night thousands of people were on hand to hear his message. But a Hoosier was also on stage to deliver his message to the deaf and hard of hearing.
“I keep reliving it over and over again,” Lisa Warren said.

On Tuesday night November 4th in Grant Park in Chicago thousands of people watched as President Elect Barack Obama delivered his acceptance speech.

“And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices,” Obama said.

Also there to hear President Elect Obama’s speech was Lisa Warren of Indianapolis. Warren was called on by the Obama campaign to interpret his speech for the deaf.

“There’s nothing else that I could ever do in life that’s going to compare to that moment,” Warren said.

Warren signed every word and emotion, “You could see it on my face, you could see it with my body language the emotion that was coming out of him.”

Warren is a certified interpreter with years of experience.

“If you would have asked me would I have ever interpret for the president or let alone be in a moment in time where history was made,” Warren said.

Even before Warren could talk she spoke with her hands, “American Sign Language is my first language because both my parents are deaf. So I’ve been signing since probably about 10 months old.”

Warren is no stranger to the Obama campagin. She signed for Vice President Elect Joe Biden. Warren even signed at an event with future first lady Michelle Obama in Fishers.

When President Elect Obama campaigned at the Indiana State Fairgrounds she was there at his side.

“He is signing I love you to a group of ten deaf folks that were there,” Warren said.

Warren said she was surprised when the Obama campaign called her up for his Chicago Rally. She is hoping they will consider her for his Inauguration on January 20.

Tonight, an incredible dawn has begun to emerge. Though there will surely be some storms, we now have a captain that will steer the ship safely into the harbour. We have redefined our national spirit, and rededicated our vision to a better tomorrow.

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Look at the collection of presidential portraits. Yes, the first African American’s photograph will soon be added… something historic.

But it matters not.

What does matter is that this ‘experiment in democracy’ is still strong. President-elect Obama now belongs to this great fraternity that has led this experiment.

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It is 8:30am, and I will leave in a few minutes to cast my vote for the 2008 election.

Right now, I am watching Barack Obama casting his vote. The first African American presidential candidate voting for himself to become the next president. His young daughters are at his side – what a day for them.

Sadly, his grandmother had already cast her vote, but passed away yesterday.

What a mixed day of emotions for this presidential hopeful…

And sadly, Tim Russert’s voice is silent today. His son has been doing a remarkable job, and hopefully, my son will know the name Russert in his own life.

Tonight… our country will be moving in a new, different direction depending on the man who accepts the nation’s nod.

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.

 

This morning I woke rather late and rolled over to scan mail on my bedroom’s laptop computer. There was the message from Mother than another member, designated by Tom Brokaw as The Greatest Generation, had passed on. For myself, it was another member of my “great” generation – siblings or their spouses of my grandparents’ generation.

Normally I wait until after 9:00am to do any work outside that provides loud noise; however, this morning, characteristic of my need to work when I hear of a death in the family, I lit a candle, popped in my pipe and was blowing leaves by 8:15am.

One of my earliest recollections of Uncle Dewey was of the man behind the counter at the post office who knew my name. Now, the ladies behind counters at Leesons, Penneys, Johnsons and Rhodes knew my name – even Mr. Zirbee knew my name – but this man had a uniform and looked official, important.

One day Mother allowed me to take the mail in all by myself. I must have been around age five or six, and this was a huge responsibility. At that age, walking up big marble or stone stairs – such as the post office, library, or city building – was exciting for me. Once inside the echoing chamber, with the one wall filled with little bronze doors, I turned to my left and walked to the tall counters.

“Hello, Mr. Jolliff. And how may I help you today?”

The tall gentleman leaned on the counter looking down at me, smiling. Of course, this was my great-uncle, but at that age, he was someone really important who recognized me and made me feel important.

And through the years, each time I would see Uncle Dewey he never stopped making me feel important, for there was always a kind word, questions about my life, and always humor.

The past several years, I have enjoyed reading Uncle Dewey’s posts on Panther Den and Willkie’s Pride. His crisp memory of his youth in Monon, and his vast knowledge of family and Elwood history from the 1940’s to current day were always appreciated, and looked for.

To my cousins – Judy Smith-Hallett, Jan Smith-Kleyla, Dewey Smith and Kevin Smith and all their family – know you are in my thoughts and prayers.

Good bye, Uncle Dewey. Thank you for making a little boy feel so important that nearly forty years later the memory is still with him.

And give Aunt Evelyn and others a hug from me as you join them on this new and exciting camping trip.

 

By the Campfire

Author: Unknown

 

We sat around the campfire
On a chilly night
Telling spooky stories
In the pale moonlight
Then we added some more logs,
To make the fire bright,
And sang some favorite camp songs
Together with all our might.
And when the fire flickered
and embers began to form.
We snuggled in our sleeping bags
all cozy, tired, and warm.

 

 

Dewey Smith married my maternal grandfather’s sister.

 

Today is the 100th birthday of my hero in directing, Joshua Logan.

Joshua Lockwood Logan III (October 5, 1908July 12, 1988) was an American stage and film director and writer.

Logan was born in Texarkana, Texas. His father died when Logan was only three, and his mother remarried six years later. He was reared in Shreveport, the seat of Caddo Parish and the largest city in north Louisiana. He attended Culver Military Academy in Culver, Indiana, where his stepfather served on the staff. At school, he experienced his first drama class and felt at home. After his high school graduation he attended Princeton University.

At Princeton, he was involved with the intercollegiate summer stock company, known as the University Players, with fellow student James Stewart and also non-student Henry Fonda. In fact, James Stewart was an architect major when Logan recruited him for a bit part in a production he was directing. Stewart became hooked on acting and the two remained life time friends. During his senior year he served as president of the Princeton Triangle Club. Before his graduation he won a scholarship to study in Moscow with Constantin Stanislavsky, and Logan left school without a diploma.

Logan began his Broadway career as an actor in Carry Nation in 1932. He then spent time in London, where he “stag[ed] two productions … and direct[ed] a touring revival of Camille“. He also worked as an assistant stage manager. After a short time in Hollywood, Logan directed On Borrowed Time on Broadway. The play ran for a year, but his first major success came in 1938, when he directed I Married an Angel. Over the next few years he directed Knickerbocker Holiday, Morning’s at Seven, Charlie’s Aunt, and By Jupiter.

In 1942 Logan was drafted by the US Army. During his service in World War II, he acted as a public-relations and intelligence officer. When the war concluded he was discharged as a captain, and returned to Broadway. He married his second wife, actress Nedda Harrigan (daughter of Ned Harrigan), in 1945; Logan’s previous marriage, to actress Barbara O’Neil, who is most remembered as Scarlett O’Hara’s mother in GONE WITH THE WIND, a colleague of his at the University Players in the 1930s, had ended in divorce.

After the war, Logan directed the Broadway productions Annie Get Your Gun, John Loves Mary, Mister Roberts, South Pacific, and Fanny. He shared the 1950 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II for co-writing South Pacific. The show also earned him a Tony Award for Best Director. Despite his contributions to the musical, in their review the New York Times originally omitted his name as co-author, and the Pulitzer Prize committee initially awarded the prize to only Rodgers and Hammerstein. Although the mistakes were corrected, in his autobiography Logan wrote “I knew then why people fight so hard to have their names in proper type. It’s not just ego or ‘the principle of the thing,’ it’s possibly another job or a better salary. It’s reassurance. My name had been so minimized that I lived through years of having people praise ‘South Pacific’ in my presence without knowing I had had anything to do with.”

Logan cowrote, coproduced, and directed the 1952 musical Wish You Were Here. After the show was not initially successful, Logan quickly wrote 54 new pages of material, and by the ninth performance the show looked new. In its fourth week of release, the show sold out, and continued to offer sell-out performance for the next two years.

When director John Ford became sick, Logan reluctantly returned to Hollywood to complete the filming of Mister Roberts (1955). Logan’s other hit films included Picnic (1955), Bus Stop (1956), Sayonara (1957), and South Pacific (1958). He was nominated for an Academy Award for Directing for Picnic and Sayonara.

His later Broadway musicals All-American (1962) and Mr. President (1962) and the films of Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot (1967), and Paint Your Wagon (1969) were less acclaimed. Logan’s 1976 autobiography Josh: My Up-and-Down, In-and-Out Life talks frankly about his bipolar disorder. He appeared with his wife in the 1977 nightclub revue Musical Moments, featuring Logan’s most popular Broadway numbers. He published Movie Stars, Real People, and Me in 1978. From 1983-1986, he taught theater at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton. He was also responsible for bringing Carol Channing to Broadway in Lend an Ear!.

At his best, Logan’s direction was distinguished by a deep insight into character and a remarkable fluidity, the latter especially evident in his staging of often cumbersome musicals. He was sometimes criticized in his later shows and films, however, for too heavy a touch. Autobiography: Josh: My Up and Down, In and Out Life, 1976.

Logan died in 1988 in New York of supranuclear palsy.

JOSHUA LOGAN’S OBITUARY…

Published: July 13, 1988

Joshua L. Logan, the director of some of Broadway’s most enduring and prestigious hits, among them ”South Pacific,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, and ”Mister Roberts,” died yesterday afternoon at his Manhattan home. He was 79 years old and had suffered for many years from supranuclear palsy, a debilitating disease.

Joshua L. Logan, the director of some of Broadway’s most enduring and prestigious hits, among them ”South Pacific,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, and ”Mister Roberts,” died yesterday afternoon at his Manhattan home. He was 79 years old and had suffered for many years from supranuclear palsy, a debilitating disease.

Mr. Logan frequently served as co-author and producer or co-producer as well as director of plays. He was also that uncommon phenomenon, the theater director who was also successful in films – with such hits as ”Sayonara” and ”Paint Your Wagon.”

While he attempted the classics only once, with ”The Wisteria Trees” – his own version of Chekhov’s ”Cherry Orchard” – and did not seek out innovative or avant-garde drama, he was a consummate theatrical craftsman, possessing great emotional force that he was able to transmit to the actors he directed.

His long string of successes really began with the musical ”I Married an Angel” (1938) and included ”Knickerbocker Holiday” with Walter Huston the same year, ”Annie Get Your Gun” (1946), ”Picnic” (1953), ”Fanny” (1954), ”The World of Suzie Wong” (1958) and the movie of ”Camelot” (1967). Some Failures, Too

He did have his failures, notably ”Miss Moffat,” a musical version of ”The Corn Is Green,” starring Bette Davis. It closed in Philadelphia before reaching New York, when Miss Davis withdrew from the cast. Another was ”Rip van Winkle,” a 1976 musical for which he wrote both book and lyrics as well as provided the direction. It closed before its New York opening. ”Ensign Pulver,” a 1964 film, was not a success, nor was ”Look to the Lilies,” in 1970.

Mr. Logan was notable for his candor in discussing manic depression, the mental illness in which manic elation alternates with profound depression. He had the condition for many years before it was discovered that it could be controlled by the drug lithium carbonate.

It had been rumored for years that Mr. Logan’s ups and downs of mood were occasionally excessive, and that he required hospitalization for extended periods, which in fact he did on two occasions.

After January 1969, when he learned of lithium and began taking it as a preventive, Mr. Logan decided, he wrote in ”Movie Stars, Real People, and Me,” that he would talk about it. Telling What He Knew ”I had been ignorant all my life about such things,” he said, ”at least I could tell others so they would never be as ignorant as I was.”

He took part in medical seminars, appeared on television and talked and wrote about his illness. But he also made it clear that he felt its manic phase contributed to his creativity: ”Without my illness, active or dormant, I’m sure I would have lived only half of the life I’ve lived and that would be as unexciting as a safe and sane Fourth of July. I would have missed the sharpest, the rarest and, yes, the sweetest moments of my existence.”

Joshua Lockwood Logan was born Oct. 5, 1908, in Texarkana, Tex. His father died when he was 3 years old; six years later, his mother married an Army officer who was later on the staff of the Culver (Ind.) Military Academy.

It was when he was 8 years old that Joshua saw his first professional play, ”Everywoman,” in Shreveport, La. It was, he wrote in his autobiography, ”Josh,” a case of ”love at first sight.” It was during his five years at Culver, Mr. Logan wrote, that he entered his first dramatics class and ”felt my life swerve and suddenly steady itself.” Studied With Stanislavsky.

He chose to go to Princeton because of its Triangle Club show that toured the country, and he entered the university in 1927. The previous year, he recalled, he saw his first Broadway play, ”What Price Glory?”

TRIVIA…

  • Won seven Tony Awards:
  • two in 1948 for “Mister Roberts,” with collaborator Thomas Heggen as Best Authors and as writers of the Best Play winner
  • four in 1950 for “South Pacific,” as Best Director, Best Authors (Musical) with Oscar Hammerstein II, Best Producers (Musical) wirh Richard Rodgers, Hammerstein and Leland Hayward, and as writers, along with Rodgers and Hammerstein, of the Best Musical winner
  • and one in 1953, as Best Director for William Inge‘s “Picnic.”
  • He was also Tony-nominated on two other occasions:
  • in 1959, as co-producer of Best Play nominee “Epitaph for George Dillon,”
  • in 1962 as Best Director (Musical) for “All American.”

David Letterman has always been one of my favorite talk-show hosts. I found this article, and loved it.

Letterman wants to call sunset for late-night gig

Wed Sep 3, 1:27 AM PDT

David Letterman wants to stick with CBS’ “Late Show” through his contract — and maybe longer — as rival Jay Leno prepares to surrender the “Tonight” reins next year.

“The way I feel now, I would like to go beyond 2010, not much beyond, but you know, enough to go beyond. You always like to be able to excuse yourself on your own terms,” Letterman said in an interview in Rolling Stone magazine.

“If the network is happy with that, great. If they wanna make a change in 2010, you know, I’m fine with that, too,” Letterman said.

Letterman, 61, questioned why NBC is proceeding with its plan to remove Leno, who consistently tops the late-night ratings. Conan O’Brien will take over “Tonight” in June 2009, with Jimmy Fallon moving into O’Brien’s “Late Night” chair.

“Unless I’m misunderstanding something, I don’t know why, after the job Jay has done for them, why they would relinquish that,” Letterman said, adding, “I have to believe he was not happy about it.”

Letterman speculated whether “that’s actually what’s going to happen,” while acknowledging NBC might be too far down the road to retreat.

NBC is angling to keep Leno, 58, with NBC Universal but the late-night king has indicated he’s ready to jump ship. Eager NBC competitors, including other networks and syndicators, are prepared to help him make the leap.

Letterman, who called O’Brien “a very funny guy,” was asked about facing him as the new “Tonight” host. A cautious Letterman said he couldn’t predict the outcome.

“It will be weird to see Conan at 11:30, don’t you think? Which is not to say he can’t succeed, but, no, I don’t know what the competition will be like. I hope we’re able to do OK.”

In the Rolling Stone article, Letterman discusses guests including Madonna, Oprah Winfrey and Howard Stern, with the most moving remarks about musician Warren Zevon, who appeared on “Late Show” shortly before his 2003 death from cancer.

Letterman recalled his “heartbreaking” meeting with Zevon in a dressing room after the show.

“Here’s a guy who had months to live and we’re making small talk. And as we’re talking, he’s taking his guitar strap and hooking it, wrapping it around, then he puts the guitar into the case and he flips the snaps on the case and says, `Here, I want you to have this, take good care of it.’ And I just started sobbing.

“He was giving me the guitar that he always used on the show. I felt like, `I can’t be in this movie, I didn’t get my lines.’ That was very tough,” Letterman said.

___

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.

My brother, Destin, had to come to Elwood for some business, and he told Mother he was bringing Parker, 3. However, he surprised her with Fred and Stacia. Here are some photos of Parker and Fred.

Parker, age 3

Fred, age 8 months (my godson)

Grandma Diana with her two youngest grandsons

“For united we stand, divided we fall
And if our backs should ever be against the wall
We’ll be together; together, you and I.”

I remember the words to this song when I was quite young. It seemed to resonate hope, and encouragement at a time when our country was mired down, and torn apart by the Viet Nam war/conflict. There was great unrest in the country, and today it seems there is even more.

We have a tough, demanding election approaching this November. Right now, we as United States’ citizens are faced with many incredible issues that are ripping the country in several possible directions. There appears to be an air of uncertainty, fear, mistrust, and this can easily cause even the most level headed individuals to think, speak or act irrationally. We have been blessed with many fine politicians who have stepped to the front lines in our country’s government to take on these massive issues. These individuals are working hard to serve our country, just as the brave individuals in Iraq, and abroad, serve us on another front.

United we stand…

Here in Dayton, we have a true gem!

The National Museum of The United States Air Force. In the Presidential Hangar rests one of the most recognizable airplanes – the original Air Force One. Yes, there is FDR’s “Sacred Cow,” Truman’s “Independence,” and Eisenhower’s “Columbine” standing right along side it – but the silver plane with a blue and white background proudly proclaims “The United States of America.”

However, I just love seeing those words float across the plane: THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA…

I prefer not to be called an “American.”

America is the continent on which I live. I am, however, a citizen of The United States of America. We seldom refer to the French simply as “Europeans”, or call Egyptians “Africans.”  I also fly, in front of my house, the flag of The United States of America – not just the American flag. To my knowledge, I have never seen a flag that represents North America, or one for South America.

A number of years ago, I was conducting a joint concert with the Centerville Community Band, and a guest band from Waterloo, Canada. I planned a very regal ceremony for the presentation of the flags, using Dragoon’s beautiful arrangement, “America, The Beautiful,” followed by “The Star Spangled Banner” and “O, Canada.”

At first, my band members were a little perturbed that the Canadian flag would enter to “America, The Beautiful” which my band members claimed was “our patriotic song.”

I began chuckling on the podium, and then asked the members where in the lyrics did it ever refer to just the United States of America.

Suddenly, they all burst out laughing, realizing we were all going to be Americans on that stage! There were those who could not grasp that concept, but eventually, they saw my point.

I am a sucker for the stirring melodies of “God Bless America” and “America, The Beautiful” but as others have tried, I would not wish for either of these to hold the rank of national anthem. I think we selected “The Star Spangled Banner” appropriately. Though a dreadful song to sing (the notes are too high or too low forcing a singer with an average range to struggle, crack and jump back and forth in octaves), the lyrics resonate the very spirit, and heart of our nation.

Divided we fall…

Abraham Lincoln once wrote that if we were to be destroyed as a nation it would not be from some trans-Atlantic giant, but by our own hand.

When I look at numerous programs or groups that fold, I see a good deal of inner turmoil was the result of the discontinuation. Churches seem to have their fair share of turmoil. Booster or support groups run a close second.

Most of the issues seem to fester from an individual, or group wanting to assume control. I have watched this happen with several area arts programs. The programs are running strong for several years, and suddenly, someone wants to change the course or flow, disrupting what was already running smoothly.

However, there are also splitting fractions due to words. Sometimes, people are just down right incapable of saying things which offend or hurt others. I always try to choose my words carefully in the classroom, or private lessons, or whenever I am chatting with friends. Do I screw up and sometimes say something in a way that can be misinterpreted? Yes – we all do. However, I try my best not to do so. And when I do, if I recognize my error, I apologize.

And sometimes, people say things to me that I might misinterpret. It happens.

There are times when I agree with another person’s opinions, and there are times I do not. However, I try to always remain respectful, open-minded, and capable of not taking the comment as a direct, personal hit.

I belong to several on-line groups, two of which are from my hometown. There are times when the posts are invigorating, educational, and enlightening. We even have a state representative who often weighs in, and I love having first hand working knowledge of our government. Plus, when I was young, this state representative was one of my favorites along with Congressman Elwood Hillis and Senator Richard Lugar.

However, more often than not, there tends to be numerous posts which are incredibly petty, and sophomoric. I am appalled at the nature of some of the debates offered on those sites, and then the drama-filled bickering that ensues.

Currently, on one site there is great debate over the number of flags Obama has on the side of his plane. I truly do not understand why this is an issue.

How does the number of flags make a difference about the candidate’s ability to govern a country?

Why does ethnic origin matter?

So what if there is a flag with an “O” on Obama’s plane?

So what if there is no United States’ flag on McCain’s RV?

Why does the fact that McCain is older than Reagan and General Harrison matter?

Our country has men and women fighting a war in Iraq; we are plagued by an unstable economy; we are battling high gas prices; we have factories closing and leaving thousands without jobs (especially here in the Miami Valley); people are losing their homes; unemployment has increased…

AND WE ARE WORRIED ABOUT THE NUMBER OF FLAGS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES HAVE ON THEIR PLANES OR VEHICLES!

Had there been an Internet in 1860, I am sure there would have been postings bellowing over the fact that Lincoln and Hamlin’s names were sewn across a United States’ flag.

Is this really important? Is the constant knit-picking valuable, or even appropriate. The candidates themselves do this effectively. We should not be hopping on to their band wagons of childish behavior.

If we lower ourselves to the level of campaign smears and oft-appearing childish tactics of name calling, who amongst us will be adult enough to vote?

I somehow feel we as citizens of this country are worrying about, even creating many mundane issues that seem to aggravate, and divert us away from the serious issues at the heart of this vital election in November.

The thing that saddens me most is reading posts from various contributors that are juvenile in their attacks on one another, and even more so in their reception of criticism from others. If you are going to toss an attack out for the masses to read on the site, then for crying out loud, be prepared for a rebuttal attack!

Some posters simply cannot handle this.

In 1968, while still holding office, President Johnson (Dem) seemed to retreat in some ways. The 1969 election had been scarred with assassination, the Viet Nam War, and the hideous unrest in our nation. It seemed as though there was no one to provide focus. We did place our trust in Senator Richard Nixon (Rep), calling him to lead our nation. Despite the Watergate controversy, I personally believe President Nixon was a brilliant politician, and outstanding leader. I have read a number of his books, and am grateful he moved beyond the tragic choices that ended his term in office to become one of the strongest elder statesmen in our country’s history.

Regardless contemporary studies, and theories, I still believe President Nixon provided our country focus at a time when we greatly needed direction.

When my students begin complaining about the hardships, I always direct their attention to a plaque on the wall of my study: “It matters not how many storms you weathered on this journey… what does matter does matter – ‘Did you bring in the ship?’”

Nixon brought in that ship (eventually).

Who will bring in this particular ship?

Will we continue to float aimlessly, bitterly fighting amongst our selves?

Will we finally agree to stand united as citizens of The United States of America?

And does it really matter whether or not there are two flags or a flag with an “O” on that ship? If it does, then we have missed this boat!

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…

A few weeks ago, I posted a video of one of my favorite show choir performances. It was North Central High School (Indianapolis) show choir’s “Like A Prayer.” I am not a Madonna fan, but I love the exciting rhythm and melody of that particular song. When I first saw this show choir perform this number, costumed in monk’s robes with fantastic choreography by a Ball State University Singers’ friend, Brent Holland, I was thrilled. I found it to be very creative, energetic, and fun.

So, I posted the video on here.

A day or so later I received a comment from a lady whom I do not even know. She blasted the video out of the water – it was sacrilegious. Had the message come from a family member or friend, I may have let it slide, but since this was an unknown, uninvited individual, in my typical, sharp tongued response, I responded. The following day she wrote, “I hope you burn in hell.”

Well, I guess she will only know her wish has come true once she checks me off the list when I arrive.

Last week, while walking through Chicago, we were waiting on a corner stop light to change, and a car cut in front of another car, upsetting the driver who was cut off. The woman who was cut off began screaming obscenities out her window, flipping off the offender, and as she pulled away on the back of her car was the metallic “fish symbol” and a bumper sticker that read, “God is my co-pilot.” There was also another bumper sticker with the name and address of what I am assuming was where she attended church. In the back seat, were three children, one in an infant seat.

So where does one begin to comment on such an observation?

Well, my first thought was, “If God is your co-pilot, was he crawling under the dash from embarrassment?” After all, she had strung together a line of profanity that would have made the nastiest sailor blush.

Oh, and why is it only people can “cuss like a sailor”? I have known several air force friends here in Dayton who cuss, but we never say, “he cusses like an air force captain!” Or if you ever knew my neighbor in Elwood (Nick), who, with a pipe clenched between his teeth could mutter a string to make George Carlin (RIP) proud…

Last Tuesday, my good friend, Christi, and I were chatting after her children’s lessons. I met Christi and her family when I was director of music at Normandy United Methodist Church in 1996. Christi was not in the music program itself, but I directed her husband and children in several shows.

Christi is not at all about making physical impressions, but you can believe she will make an inspiring impression.

Christi would never go on to someone’s blog and write rude, distasteful comments concerning something with which she disagreed. In fact, she would find something positive to say.

I have many friends of many religious faiths – Christian, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Latter Day Saints, Christian Science, and Baha’i. I have several wonderful friends who belong to no religious order, yet they possess all the wonderful qualities of those who do practice organized religion.

Tuesday evening, we were discussing how some individuals claim Christianity, but yet, are some of the most cruel hearted, and vicious people out there. Christi said, rather matter of fact, but with a degree of true sadness, “Sometimes, Christians can be some of the meanest people…”

I have seen this over and over.

I once was director of music at a church where the pastoral staff was involved in inappropriate behaviors of all natures – sexual affairs, lying, manipulative, shifting of funds, and other pathetic behaviors that were far from Christ-like behaviors – or appropriate behaviors in general. Yet, church councils, and a majority of the parishioners simply turned their heads to the inappropriate behaviors.

I can remember growing up in church and observing people during church. Since our family frequently joined other church families for various gatherings, I also observed an entirely different side – one that was disturbing.

At age 12, I chose not to join the Methodist church through confirmation. One Sunday morning, we arrived at church later than usual, and the congregation was in an uproar. The evening before, Carol Burnette and Company had an episode with “Eunice & Mamma” and our congregation believed Ms. Burnette’s program was making fun of religion. We had watched it, and I remember my grandmother stating she saw nothing wrong with the episode. The gentleman in front of us said that his family would never watch the Carol Burnette Show ever again. I turned and asked if we could still watch the program, and the gentleman turned and commanded, “You better not!”

Hmmm…

I sat there, stewing. I was furious that someone else told me I could not do something. Mother, and my grandparents – who were a also a tremendous influence in my life – not only provided, but encouraged me to adopt a strong sense of studying my options, or choices. Never would they have said, “You cannot watch Carol Burnette!” Never did they say, “You should not listen to your 8-Track tape of Jesus Christ, Superstar or Godspell.” And when I played the roles of Jesus and Joseph, I don’t believe anyone was offended, and in some ways, those productions could be considered blasphemous.

When it came time to go to confirmation that night, my grandfather, who could have gotten very sour over my decision to not continue with confirmation, asked why. I explained my reasons. Rather than getting all pissy, as he could so easily do, he smiled and said, “I understand completely. I only ask this – if you never ever decide to join a church as a member, or even attend church, I do hope you will always walk with God.”

And 32 years later, I am still walking with God. I cannot buy into any particular doctrine, especially when certain religions believe their way is the only way. In college, I heard campus ministers claim, over and over, that if you did not believe in Christ you would burn in hell. I never heard any of my Buddhist, or Jewish friends say, “If you don’t believe in our God, you will be consumed by the flames of hell.”

About two years ago, I was asked to give a sermon on Lincoln since that particular Sunday fell on President Lincoln’s birthday. The whole point was, “Was Lincoln a Christian?” In all the evidence on Lincoln, it is generally believed he did not buy into any particular religion, and stated that he would join the church with the words carved over the altar, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy mind, heart, soul and strength.” My final conclusion was that Lincoln “may not have been a technical Christian,” as indicated by his wife, but rather, “Lincoln was most certainly Christ-like.” (And I am still grateful to my friend, Jeff Carter for guiding me to that conclusion!)

Disciple means “to teach.” A derivative is “discipline.” We discuss this in the pre-adoptive training classes when I teach the discipline unit. When I think of Christ, I think of this tremendous human being who brought light into the dark lives of many. Where the Old Testament seemed to promote so many “don’t’s” – Christ was all about the “do’s” in life – do love one another, do love God, do help one another, do help those less fortunate…”  If there were any “dont’s” in his message it was “don’t discriminate.”

Christi punched this particular item around last Tuesday. Christ did not discriminate. The fellow loved everyone. He dined with those who were ostracized by political or religious establishments, he touched those others abandoned, and there did not seem to be any one not worthy of receiving his love and attention. Christ was not mean. Even when persecuted, he was still loving and forgiving.

We attended one church, and although I do not buy into the doctrine, I do love the familiar hymns, the sense of community, and the values that help support what I teach my own sons. My youngest son is at the age where some teenagers question – which is fine. In our house, if you question something, you must seek answers, or research your question. You must support your reasons for questioning. However, we both agreed that we wanted to take a sabbatical from organized religion. He belongs to a wonderful youth group that is all about spirituality, not doctrine, and he is expressly interested in this component – as am I.

Our decision happened to fall when we were incredibly busy with percussion ensemble season, show choir contests, and my own illness. For a while, people from church would send emails stating they missed us. Then the emails changed to “where are you?” There are a few who will send messages, or jokes, but for the most part, we have been written off. One person, with whom I continued to send jokes, responded a few weeks ago with “since you cannot come to church please don’t send me any future emails.”

Hmmm….

I did not entertain that email as “mean,” but it did open up some other avenues for thought. It seemed to touch upon a sense of possessiveness I had not really observed before, but now looking back, all the churches with which I have been involved have had an air of possessiveness. The goal seems to be on building membership, tithing and apportionment’s for the denominational hierarchy, and claiming lost sheep in the name of Christ. When my childhood church was irked over Carol Burnette, there was even a possessive mind set of controlling what we watched on television. When in college, I received a letter from my home church stating I should sign a petition and avoid seeing The Last Temptation of Christ. When I did not respond, I received a telephone call in my dorm room – from the same person who told me I was not to watch Carol Burnette! For those who know me well, imagine my reaction!

I saw The Last Temptation of Christ. What is more, I saw it with the pastor of the Lutheran Church where I was director of music! He and I both agreed it was art, and that should a person be shaken in their faith from seeing the movie, their faith may not have been on the right track.

Later when I saw the gentleman from church, I told him of my experience watching the movie I was to boycott… he shook his head and walked away. Nearly twenty years later, he was still avoiding me at my grandfather’s funeral.

I had one Christian friend who admonished me because I allow my son to watch Family Guy!

Hell, I watch it, too. This same friend loves The Simpsons – though milder than Family Guy, it still contains some eye openers. I assured my friend that before I watched Family Guy, I never missed a program with Jimmy Swaggart… she had nothing else to say.  Of course, this same person indicated I could not be a good Christian because I supported Hilary Clinton for the Democratic candidate for president.

I don’t consider this particular person “mean,” just misguided by her religious instruction – but not her faith.

I also had a friend shame me because I like Rosie O’Donnell. I was coached that I should not like her because she is Lesbian, and because she is so outspoken.

Lesbian? Wasn’t Danny Thomas one? [insert chuckle, here].

And outspoken?

A lot of people are… Rev. Jesse Jackson is outspoken – and wasn’t he a bit un-Christian this week with his comments about Obama??? Isn’t JJ a Christian? Rev. Al Sharpton is outspoken. But this friend could not believe I supported Rosie!

Well, Rosie adopts kids, I adopt kids. Rosie is big with adoption, I am big with adoption. Rosie does a lot of great things that do not receive press recognition. Good for her! Now, this friend who does not like Rosie is always certain her works for the hungry/homeless, her contributions at church, her contributions at her children’s school always receives recognition. In programs for Victoria, Schuster Center, or other area arts related products, her name is always listed as a contributer. Rosie receives recognition, too, but there are a number of things she does that go unnoticed.

Bravo!

Besides… who I prefer as politicians, or celebrities is still my choice, and well, my business.

What I shared with Christi the other evening was my growing concern for this “shoot to kill” attitude with some Christians. If a person is not Christian, they are often considered “evil.” In this current election, religion played way too much a part of the concerns. I truly do not care the denomination to which a politician belongs. Throughout our history, we have had a variety of denominations living in the White House, or serving in other arenas in our government. And I am sure we have had leaders claiming a denomination without even practicing.

In 1960, my great-grandfather changed his political affiliation because the Democratic party nominated a Catholic! Was my great-grandfather mean? Hell no! Virgil Barmes was one of the most loving, adorable people in the world. During the Depression, he worked for a granary that was owned by a Catholic, and the owner was firing non-Catholics to hire fellow Catholics.

For me, what is important is that the individual has some sort of spiritual base, or center. Many are hopping on the band wagon regarding Obama’s current or past religious affiliations. If it was true that he did not use a Christian Bible while being sworn in, why does it matter? When a person is being sworn in to political office, they are taking an oath to uphold our constitution – federal, state, county, community.

Besides, how many politicians have placed their hand on The Bible, and turned out to be some of the biggest liars and crooks in public office?

There was one Republican candidate I really liked – Mit Romney, I believe – who was a member of The Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I cannot begin to tell you how many friends commented on his religious affiliation. When I asked about his politics, very few could tell me any more about him. They were so focused on the fact that he was Mormon! I found this more disturbing than sad.

Christi’s comment just seemed to hang with me these past few days, and I simply jotted down some of my thoughts, experiences and observations. I am sure my comments on this page will be crucified by some as blasphemous, condemning me to hell, etc.. That’s fine. But I bet I will be able to tell to which faith they belong!

I believe, even more, in my theory of “The God Wheel.” I always think of a bicycle wheel… God is the hub and God is directly connected to use via the spokes. However, we are connected to one another by the rim which also connects us all back to the God source! Before some swing a cross, I am not saying we are God, but I do believe – my personal belief – that we are all a part of God and God is a part of us – an interconnectedness!

God isn’t my co-pilot. God drives through me.

I am sure if the lady who was so alarmed by my video posting of the show choir reads this post, she will have a priest perform an exorcism!

By Joe Lanane

ELWOOD — Becoming an Olympic athlete requires years of dedication and training, and 15-year-old Mary Beth Dunnichay of Elwood is no exception. After six years of strenuous effort, she will officially realize her dream in Beijing this August as a member of the United States Diving Team.

The call from her coach came at approximately 11 a.m. Monday, about an hour later than the final decision was anticipated. Mary Beth’s mother, Marian Dunnichay, said her daughter was in good spirits leading up to the announcement despite the elongated response time, but the enormity of the situation is yet to fully take effect.

“We knew we did everything we could,” Mary Beth said regarding last week’s Olympic Team Selection Camp in Knoxville, Tenn., where she helped seal her fate as a member of the synchronized women’s platform diving duo. “It’s amazing — still hard to believe.”

Mary Beth and partner Haley Ishimatsu rallied from down 23 points heading into Friday’s fourth and final round of competition to capture an 11-point advantage over the next pair.

Her brother, Caleb, dives at the collegiate level at the University of Notre Dame after recently transferring from Auburn University. In superstitious fashion, he waited outside the facility in Knoxville before finding out his sister’s 346.98 score on Friday.

“I knew (she made the Olympics team) when they told me the score — that score was huge,” Caleb said. “They could win a medal if they do that again.”

The win capped two years’ worth of success for her and Ishimatsu, both of whom have also competed internationally together at the World Championships in Australia two years ago and at the World Cup in Beijing last March.

Their efforts helped ensure an Olympic spot for the U.S. team in the event, and ultimately helped land Mary Beth and Ishimatsu as the two divers to fill that void. Despite the excitement of the situation, Mary Beth said she is careful to not settle for simply making the summer games.

“It’s always been what we’ve been working for, but it’s not over yet,” Mary Beth said, insisting the challenge has just begun. “We have to go back and start to train even harder because to get a medal at the Olympics is going to take a lot.”

Still, Mary Beth said her family has always been supportive regardless of her success. Even before the official announcement, she was greeted upon her return from Tennessee on Friday with fireworks outside her house.

“The whole neighborhood was waiting in the driveway when (Mary Beth) pulled in,” Marian Dunnichay said before putting the accomplishment in perspective. “It’s hard to believe she can’t drive a car yet, but she’s going to go to the Olympics.”

The celebration culminated years of effort from not only Mary Beth, but also for the family and friends who have helped her along the way. Her sister, Danielle, attends IUPUI and frequently housed Mary Beth at her Indianapolis apartment between practices. Also, her brother Jacob serves as one of her strongest support beams at home as he prepares to enter his senior year at Elwood High School.

“She’s really been wanting it forever, and all the drives down (to Indianapolis) and staying at my apartment have really paid off,” Danielle said. “I used to go over and watch her in between classes and go pick her up … but we’re real close and I wouldn’t miss a meet for anything.”

Mary Beth’s father, Ned, said Marian has been instrumental to his youngest daughter’s success while he’s running the Dunnichay Funeral Home in Elwood. He is also Madison County coroner.

“Since I’m trying to work and take care of the business, I rely on my wife to take care of a lot,” Ned said. “We have a good family nucleus, and we all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses.”

Mary Beth will travel to Pasadena, Calif., on July 23 for the final national competition — which is still undetermined if she will compete — before departing for Beijing on July 30. The Olympics synchronized women’s platform diving competition is expected to take place Aug. 12.

Road to the Olympics timeline:

July 9-22: Daily training resumes in Indianapolis

July 23: Depart for U.S. Nationals in Pasadena, Calif.

July 28: Travel to San Jose, Calif., for Olympics processing

July 30: Depart for Beijing, China

Aug. 8: Summer Olympics opening ceremony

Aug. 10-23: U.S. Diving competition commences

Aug. 24: Closing ceremonies

By ED HAMILTON
Call-Leader Sports Editor
Oh baby! Their baby is going to the Olympics.

Like expectant parents, Ned and Marian Dunnichay waited and waited, then waited some more, this morning to learn if their youngest child, 15-year-old Mary Beth, had been selected for the United States Olympic Diving Team.

“Yes, it is like having a baby, only worse,” Marian said while awaiting an email from USA Diving officials. “With a baby, you’re sure of the outcome, a boy or a girl.”
They learned the outcome shortly after 11 this morning when the email arrived just as Mary Beth received a call from her coach, John Wingfield.
Even Wingfield, also chosen as the head coach of the U.S. team for the Beijing Olympics, teased her for a moment before sharing the good news.
“He called me and he said, ‘Have you heard anything yet?’,” said Mary Beth.
“I said, ‘Not yet, but I’ve been sitting by the computer.’
“So he said, “OK, well I’ll send you the email that I got.’
“He just sounded normal, and I was like, ‘Well, is it bad or good; give me a hint.
“And he goes, ‘Well, what do you want me to say?’
“And I was like, ‘Uh oh…’
“And then he just said, ‘You’re an Olympian,’ and I started crying.”
Her family members and friends heard her cry in the hallway outside the office where they were awaiting the news, and not knowing if they were tears of joy or disappointment, rushed to her side.
At that moment, older brother Caleb and her father saw the email on the computer screen.
“There it is. There it is,” said Ned. “She made it; she made the team.”
Dunnichay and fellow 15-year-old Haley Ishimatsu will represent the U.S. as the women’s 10-meter platform synchronized team in Beijing.
The Olympics run from Aug. 8-24. The diving competition will be from Aug. 10-23.
Dunnichay and Ishimatsu will compete Saturday, Aug. 12, probably in front of 30 or more family members and friends who are making plans to join her in Beijing.
Mary Beth is the first Olympian from Elwood, and quite possibly from all of Madison County.
“I got chills, lots of chills when I saw that (email),” said her father.
“We’re crying, we’re laughing, everything,” said her mother. “Mary Beth has put in so much hard work, sacrificed the nights when she couldn’t go do stuff with her friends, having to get up early for practice, and miss (her brother’s) ballgames. She’s had to sacrifice so many things.
Everyone of them was worth it, said the 5-foot Olympian, who won’t turn 16 until Feb. 25, 2009.
“This is just awesome,” Mary Beth said after drying the tears. “But it was so stressful waiting for that (email and call) this morning.
“My mom wanted me to get up early and come (to the Dunnichay Funeral Home) early, but I didn’t want to get here too early and just have to sit around and wait. I wanted to sleep in to the last minute possible.”
She got there shortly before 10 a.m., because that’s when the family expected the email to arrive.
At about 10:15, they got in touch by phone with Wingfield, who told them the announcement wouldn’t come until 11.
Some of the family went out for breakfast, then returned to wait some more.
“When they pushed it back, it meant just a longer wait,” said Mary Beth. Something akin to her and Ishimatsu standing on the platform for 45 minutes last Wednesday while computer problems delayed the competition at selection camp in Knoxville, Tenn.
That’s the night the Olympians went 1-2 against their top competition for the Beijing spots, Laura Wilkinson and Jessica Livingston.
But in Friday’s final competition, Dunnichay and Ishimatsu hit their five dives for an all-time best of 346.98, beating Wilkinson and Livingston’s 335.34.
That 2-2 deadlock after four lists left it up to the selectors to decide the Olympic synchro team.
“We knew it could have gone the other way (the decision),” said Mary Beth. “The first day, they won the two out of the three, so we had one more chance on Friday.
“We had one more chance to prove that we not only could dive under pressure, but that we deserved our spot. And we went in there and stayed calm and confident and we proved to everyone, I guess.”
The family didn’t have any doubts, but they were doing everything they could to avoid jinxing the outcome until this morning.
“For everything my family has been through with me, taking me to practice everyday, going to my competitions, just always being there, it’s finally paying off. Like I said, it’s just awesome.”
She gets today and Tuesday off, then it’s back in the pool Wednesday at the IU Natatorium.
Before the Olympics, the divers may compete in the U.S. Nationals July 22-27 in Pasadena, Calif.
“We haven’t talked about that yet, so I don’t know yet,” said Dunnichay.
She does know where she and her family and friends will be tonight at 7. On an Elwood fire truck for a parade through town, starting at the high school.
City officials are encouraging residents to gather at the high school before 7 to form a caravan behind the fire truck, or for residents to line Anderson Street to the south edge of the city to celebrate with the Dunnichays, whose baby is going to the Olympics.

I was browsing through the blog of my good friend, Jeffrey Carter, and listened to a recording of COME, THOU FONT, OF EVERY BLESSING. Jeff conducted the Ball State Concert Choir. Here is Jeff’s comments, and the link to the recording.

We closed my last concert with Concert Choir eight months later with Mack Wilberg’s arrangement of Come, thou fount of every blessing. If one can listen past the dyspeptic brass playing, this is great stuff. The men’s sound in the second verse is particularly thrilling, I think.

Come, Thou Font, Of Every Blessing

Here are several of my favorite videos from some musicals…

Josh Groban singing “Anthem” from CHESS (rehearsal)

Julia Murney and Sutton Foster singing “I Know Him So Well” from CHESS (rehearsal)

Sutton Foster singing “Someone Else’s Story” from CHESS (rehearsal)

And my absolute favorite…

Lea Salonga singing a tune written for MISS SAIGON, but with different words – “Too Much for One Heart” but known as the duet “Please”. “Too Much For One Heart” was originally in the show, but was cut…

Donna Mae Clary-Barmes  (May 8, 1924 – June 27, 1992)

Donna Mae Clary. 1940

Today marks the anniversary of the passing of my maternal grandmother. One of the dearest, wittiest and most remarkable souls I have ever known.

Grandma Donna was the second child of John William Garrett Clary and Mary Belle Jones – Clary, both of Madison County, Indiana. Grandma Donna grew up in Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana near Summitville from where she graduated in 1940. She had an older brother, Ronald Monroe, who was killed from a fall from a horse at age 15 in 1936, and a younger sister, Joyce Ann Clary – Riser. Joyce currently lives in Alexandria, Indiana. My grandparents resided in Elwood, Indiana until 1973 when they took up residence near Lapel, Indiana in the home built by my great-grandfather (Virgil Barmes), grandfather, and great-uncle (Danny Joe Barmes).

In 1943, Donna married Leroy Barmes (1921-2004), and together they raised three children: Diana (1945), Ronald Dean (1952-1987), and Tommy Kent (1954). They were members of the Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church of Elwood, Indiana and later Ford Street United Methodist church.

FOUR GENERATIONS: Mary Belle Clary, Darin, Diana, Donna. 1964

My grandmother was terribly witty, and loved a practical joke. Her smile and laughter were infectious, and her tenderness and understanding deep. As a small child, I was so fortunate to spend each day with her. Only 40 years old when I was born, she was still raising two sons at home who were 12 and 10. So, in many ways, she seemed like a second mother, and my uncles were more like older brothers. It was a unique situation in which to grow up, and one I shall always treasure. Not many grandchildren remember their grandparents’ 50th birthdays!

In 1978, Grandma was diagnosed with chronic lymphatic leukemia. The doctor said she would die withthe disease, not from it. The remaining years were filled with many family events that she never missed. Grandma and Grandpa were at every one of my band contests, and at least 90% of my college events. When I was doing the role of Joseph in JOSEPH & THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT, Grandma loved my long hair and curls, and would often sit in church withher hand on the back of the pew so she could play withmy curls. Following one of the performances as Joseph later on, she and I posed for a photograph with me wearing my technicolor dreamcoat- what is not seen in the photo is her hand around my back playing with the curls.

June 12th, 1992, I received an urgent telephone call from Dad telling me Grandma had collapsed at the dinner table the night before. She was rushed to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Indianapolis where she was placed on life support. After exploratory surgery it was discovered she had colon cancer and there was no hope. Finally, the evening of June 26th, Mother made the painful decision to have the life support removed the following morning.

At 9:00am the following morning, the family gathered around Grandma’s bed. Once the life support was disconnected, we joined hands and recited the Lord’s Prayer. The attending nurse cautioned us that it could drag on for an hour or so. By 1:00pm, her heart was still beating strong. The family had a consultation with the doctor, and we agreed that he would increase her morphine drip, and remove her from the ventilator.

At 2:00pm, we gathered around her bed, the blood pressure began a sad, consistent decrease. At 2:15pm, I leaned over to say, “I love you. I’ll see you later… and remember, my first Tony Award is for you.” I then heard my cousin, Debbie, say, “She’s gone.”

Thus ended the life of one of the most beautiful people I have known in this life.

When I returned to Dayton that night, I went to my room and for some reason my eyes went to a table that contained several nick-knacks. On this table was an emerald frame and clock, gifts from my grandmother. The clock’s hands were stopped at 2:15. I had only replaced the battery the week before. The same battery remains in the clock, and the hands have not been changed in sixteen years.

However, today at 2:15pm, when I sit at the piano as I do each year to play Grandma’s favorite song, “Red River Valley,” I am going to replace the battery and set the clock moving again. I did this recently with a gold pocket watch given me by my Uncle Ron. When Uncle Ron was killed in June 1987, I never rewound the watch again. However, June 8th, 2008, I passed this watch on to my newest nephew and godson, Frederick Lee Haas, and before placing it in the bag, I rewound it. The watch was ticking away when I received it from my uncle, and it just seemed appropriate that it should be running when it was passed on to my own nephew.

I will always miss her, especially during those treasured family moments which she would have loved. But as I grow older, I realize, more and more, that so much of my grandmother (as well as my grandfather, and other beloved family and friends) is still with me. Now, it is up to me to carry on the torch, to strengthen the foundation, and to create even more wonderful memories for my son, my nephews and all those from this younger generation.

In some way, resetting the clock is a sense of moving on… but not forgetting.

 

I am hoping everything now goes as planned.

I finished teaching this evening at 5:30pm, just as a major 30 minute downpour ended. It was a nasty storm, and it looked like a fog settling in.

This morning I spent four solid hours on the Wright Brothers’ musical – major, major changes. I sent an email to my wonderful co-writers to receive their blessing on this over-haul, as it is slightly large.  At this juncture I hate making major changes without their input, and this overhaul is loosing four characters (not major ones), and an entire scene that was my absolute favorite because other playwrights and theatre folks said it was one of the funniest scenes; however, it did not advance the plot any longer.

Tonight, Thursday and Friday I will dig in and complete as much as I can.

Saturday morning until 3:30pm I will be in training for the update of my adoptive license. A pain in the butt, but something that needs to be completed.

Sunday, I will do as much as I can to prepare for the trip to Fowler, and the on to Chicago the remainder of the week. Mary Tarlano, from ACTION, will come by Sunday morning to do a walk-through of the house so she can complete the adoptive license update. The remainder of Sunday I hope to mow the lawn, and pack.

Monday (June 30th), I will teach about five lessons to students I missed this week due to camps and vacations – I do not want them to go two weeks without a lesson.

Tuesday morning (July 1st). I will head to Fowler, retrieve the boy from the Haas home and head 100 miles due North to Chicago. I hope to take in a lot that first day.

Will post the remainder of the itinerary as we get closer. Am keeping a close watch on the weather forecast.

 Favorite Photo of the Day… my nephew, Frederick Lee Haas, six months old June 30th, 2008

From Lafayette, Indiana Journal Courrier:

Benton Community School Corp. will lose 278 years of teaching experience this summer.

That’s the total years of experience that the nine teachers who accepted an early retirement incentive had in the district, according to Superintendent Ross Sloat. Their experience in Benton ranged from 13 to 43 years, and they were spread out among the district’s schools.

“You hate to lose the experience,” Sloat said.

But the retirements, which were approved Monday at the board of trustees meeting, will help save the district money. The district earlier this year made cuts to its budget — including cutting teachers — of more than $600,000, citing a potential $1 million general-fund shortfall.

Under the early retirement agreement, teachers with at least 10 years in Benton Schools and who were at the top of their salary scale were eligible. About 50 teachers could have applied, and between seven and 12 teachers had to accept for it to go into effect.

Each teacher received a one-time $18,000 incentive on top of other retirement provisions in their contracts.

Sloat said each of the nine retirements will save the district about $22,000 to $25,000, depending on the experience and the person hired to replace the retiring teacher. That could mean as much as $225,000 saved for the district, though the full savings won’t be known until 2009.

The idea is to save money by replacing experienced teachers who make more money with less-experienced, and therefore cheaper, teachers.

One of those retirements included the principal of Benton Central Jr./Sr. High School, Howard Feuer, who submitted his intent to retire earlier this month following a stroke last November.

The board named his replacement Monday. Destin Haas, who had been filling in as the interim principal, was named the new Benton Central principal.

Haas has 11 years of teaching and administration experience, all in Benton County. He began his career as a seventh-grade social studies teacher and most recently, he was serving as the assistant high school principal and the director of adult education.

“It’s an exciting time in my professional career,” Haas said. “I look forward to making some positive changes in the Benton Community Schools.”

Corey Robb, who had been the dean of students, will move into Haas’ former position as assistant principal.

 

Well, as of tonight, my brother, Destin Lang Haas, is officially the principal of Benton Central Senior-Junior High School located near Fowler, Indiana.

Last November 30th, Destin was hurridly driving my sister-in-law to the hospital to deliver their second son, Frederick. Enroute to the hospital he received the news that his principal had suffered a massive stroke. Destin then became the acting principal, and tonight, the school board officially announced him as the principal.

I am so proud of my little brother!

 

Aside from Logan bringing the bunny head to the deck door, it has been a relatively quiet week. The first three days went amazingly fast, and here I am Thursday morning, ready to dig into writing on the Wrights.
 
I pulled two new books from the library on Glenn Curtiss, one of the Wrights’ biggest rivals. Curtiss is commonly known as either the fastest man on earth due to his motorcycle racing in 1900-1904, or the father of naval aviation. However, he is the villain in my show!
 
I also got a video on Alexander Graham Bell who was also against the Wrights – many do not realize that AGB was a major voice in early aviation, and worked extensively on behalf of the deaf.
 
Last night I was eating a brownie and one of my temporary crowns came off… grrr… I hate the thought of taking time out of my day to have it re-secured when I want to be writing.
 
This weekend I intend to camp out and write. I don’t believe there are any Lockhart ball games, and Jose is still having a grand time in northwestern Indiana.
 
Jeff Carter sent an email and blog attachment of his new digs in St. Louis. He officially started at Webster University this week.
 
Next week is a light week for teaching as many are gone on vacation, or will be attending camps and conferences. I am looking forward to the extra writing time. Monday I am finished at 3:30pm, and Wednesday, I have only two students at 4pm and 5pm.
 
The following week I am back on schedule with teaching and writing.
 
June 30th I will teach a few students.
 
July 1st I will head to Indiana to retrieve Pepito from Destin & Stacia, probably will need to pry his hands loose to drag him off. When he calls, he delightfully launches into what he has done, and it is always sprinkled with notes about Parker and Fred. I may need to set up a deal where Stacia sends a weekly supply of cooking – he does love Aunt Stacia’s cooking!
 
Either that evening, or the next morning we will head over into Illinois and spend a day or two in Springfield. Jose has mentioned several times he would enjoy going to the Lincoln sites again. I think he also wants to see Springfield since he lived there for approximately eight years with his birth family. Depending on the fuel issues, we may return to Dayton, and maybe take a weekend trip to Cedar Point. 
 
This week has been filled with wonderful tributes to Tim Russert. His son, Luke, a recent college graduate, was so impressive. Last Sunday, there was a beautiful photo taken of Luke following the MEET THE PRESS, which was a tribute to his father – Luke is standing in silhouette, his hand resting on his father’s empty chair at the moderating table. Very touching. The one item I loved the most was how on Friday morning, a few hours before he collapsed, Tim Russert drove over to his son’s new apartment to let the cable guy in! Tim Russert was a powerhouse in the political media, but an all around great guy and father.
 
 
Have a great week!
 

All people have their own way of being in the world. It is easiest to comprehend this basic yet profound fact when we consider that every human being on the planet occupies a distinct role in the universe. We grow up in different environments, affected by a unique range of influences. The preferences, values, and beliefs we embrace are frequently related intimately to our origins. And the need to individualize our experiences is instinctive, as doing so enables us to cope when we must face challenges on our own. Consequently, each of us has developed a perspective that is uniquely ours. Interacting peacefully and constructively with people from all walks of life is a matter of first understanding where they are coming from. Then we can adjust our expectations so that we avoid making undue assumptions about what they are about.

In the face of emerging interpersonal conflict, it is easy to assume that others are being difficult, unreasonable, or stubborn. We are apt to grow frustrated when someone in our environment does not share our opinions or feel compelled to support us in our endeavors. It is likely that the individual or individuals before us may simply possess differing notions with regard to what is and what is not important in this life. We can ease the tension that exists between us by reaffirming our belief in the fundamental right of all beings to determine their own destinies. To foster a harmonious relationship, we need to do our best to relate to the unique universes they inhabit. And as we discover what makes them tick, our ability to find a mode of interaction that is pleasing to both of us is enhanced.

When there are barriers keeping you from connecting with someone else, think of questions you can ask them to gain a more thorough understanding of their point of view. You may discover that in addition to the differences in perspective dividing you, they are subject to insecurities and other personal issues that influence their way of seeing the world. It is likely that you will never fully grasp the myriad complexities embodied by humanity, but you can go a long way toward encouraging mutually satisfying relations by reaching out to others in the spirit of sympathetic comprehension.

27th May, 2007 

Dear Jonathan, Andrew & Parker,

Today, May 27th, is the 55th birthday of my Uncle Ron, a younger brother of my mother, your Grandma Diana. Uncle Ron would be your great-uncle… and what a great uncle he was to me, and to your own parents. As I often do to commemorate beloved family members on their birthdays, such as Grandma Diana’s parents and grandparents, I lit a candle by his photograph which I keep by my bed.

Grandpa Leroy, Darin, Ron, Tommy – 1965.

When I was born in 1964, Ronald Dean Barmes, named in honor of his mother’s brother, Ronald, was only 12 years old, and in many ways, he and Uncle Tom, then 10, were like my older brothers. I was fortunate to have young grandparents as well, for Grandma Donna was 40, and Grandpa Leroy was 42 (ugh, the age I am now!). In some ways, it was much like having a second family who lived around the corner from where I grew up on the corner of 9th and Main streets in Elwood, Indiana. I do remember wondering why Ron and Tom called my Mamaw and Papaw, “Mom” and “Dad.” 

Despite the age difference, they spent a great deal of time with me: taking me to baseball practices (and teaching me naughty words which I repeated with great delight), riding me around on their bikes, playing games and baseball with me, and taking me to the pool. Uncle Ron had a Volkswagen with an 8-Track tape player, and we would ride around town listening to the recording, JESUS CHRIST, SUPERSTAR. Good stuff.

Uncle Tom, Uncle Ron, Darin, Mother, Great-Grandpa Garrett – Ron’s graduation from high school, May 27, 1970

Some of my favorite memories are of the times – which was quite often – I spent the night with them. Their bedroom was a magical teen wonderland for the little tyke surrounded by Fischer-Price items at his “other home” around the corner. We would listen to record albums of Bill Cosby, the Smothers Brothers, and (gulp) Cheech & Chong. They had a television in their bedroom and we often watched “The Smothers Brothers’ Hour” and all the top shows of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. What fun we had, and what a rich experience I had over other children my age.

Uncle Ron joined the US Navy in 1972, and was stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center. I remember a trip that summer when my mother was pregnant for Dena. What a new adventure the Navy was for a boy ready to turn eight years old.

Dena, Uncle Ron, Destin, Darin – May 1975.

After leaving the Great Lakes, he was stationed on the East Coast, for a while in New Jersey, but mostly in Norfolk, Virginia. The long naval piers, the air craft carriers, the uniforms, the salutes… all wonderful, vivid memories! My trips to Virginia are still some of my most treasured mental videos I possess.

Uncle Ron got to see the world – South America, the Mediterranean, the North Sea – and he always shared these far away lands with, at that time, his only nephew. He returned with the neatest gifts, many of which I still have. Throughout the years, I received three pocket watches from Uncle Ron, and one day, each of you, my first three nephews, will receive these watches… perhaps one day, you may wish to pass these on to one of your own nephews.

April 1974, we were visiting Uncle Ron in Norfolk, and I spied a huge book in the Military Circle Shopping Mall’s bookstore – Carl Sandburg’s LINCOLN: THE PRAIRIE YEARS & THE WAR YEARS. It was $15, and a large sum for a 9 year old boy. I saved up my money the next few months, hoping to buy the book when I returned to Virginia with Grandpa Leroy and Grandma Donna that July. Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Ron and I went to the mall, and the book was still there. I bought the book, and that night in the hotel room, Uncle Ron and I laid on one bed looking through all the pictures in the Lincoln book.

Several days later, it was time to leave Uncle Ron at the pier. I always hated “good byes” with Uncle Ron, and to this day, I still get choked up at airports. I can still remember Dena running after him, screaming and crying as he would turn to walk towards the plane. That July night in 1974, we watched Uncle Ron walk down the long pier. Grandpa, in tears, wanted to drive on, but Grandma Donna said, “Let’s wait until we cannot see him any more.”

I buried my face in my Lincoln book to keep from crying. I could not watch him walk away. In the front cover of the book was an envelope with my name on it. I opened the envelope and read a note: “Darin, I am so proud of you for saving your money to buy something of great value when other boys your age would spend their money on candy or toys. You are a wise young man and I am proud of my nephew. Love, Uncle Ron.”

And inside the note was a $20 bill. The Sandburg book is still one of my prized posessions, along with the bust of Lincoln he gave me in 1973.

When I began piano lessons, the first sheet music I purchased was “Anchors, Aweigh” and I could not wait to play it for Ron when he came home that Christmas.

During those rare visits home, Uncle Ron always seemed to have plenty of time for me, as well as Dena, and Destin, who arrived in November, 1974. Those visits with Uncle Ron were always special, and I feel the excitement he must have felt when my own nephews anticipate my own visits to Indiana.

Uncle Ron married in 1976, and eventually, he became a daddy to Alicia and Amanda, who are now mommies themselves.

 

Uncle Tom, Mother, Uncle Ron – May 1976.

In 1987, I returned from Austria and Switzerland to learn that Uncle Ron had been killed in a car wreck on June 8th. Ironically, the uncle for which he was named died 50 years to the month before his namesake. I don’t think any death has been harder for me to deal with than his. Although I miss Grandma Donna and Grandpa Leroy deeply, not having Uncle Ron around for family events is a little harder. To this day, the tune, “Anchors, Aweigh” is the most unbearable melody for me to hear.

Fortunately, June 8th has lost some of the sadness, and gained a tremendous blast of happiness. On June 8th, 2005, Parker Leroy Haas was born. Out of the dark came some light… 

The spring of 1997, I learned I was to be an uncle when Dena called to tell me she was pregnant. Several nights later, I had a dream. I was riding my bike in a nearby Ohio town, Waynesville, and I stopped to rest on a park bench. Uncle Ron appeared, and sat down by me. He was thrilled that I was to be an uncle, and he told me that being an uncle was quite a responsibility, but one of great joy. Uncle Ron reminded me that like him, I was to do special things, give unique gifts, and keep the joy of learning alive in my nieces and nephews. We talked while walking past the antique shops of Waynesville. I went into a shop to check on an item, leaving my bike with Uncle Ron outside. When I returned, he was gone.

When I woke from the dream, I realized that the mantel of being “the uncle” had passed on to me.

For nearly ten years, I have loved, with all my heart, being an uncle. In some ways, when I am with each of you, I can see Uncle Ron coming through my playfulness and teasing, but I have also adopted my own special touch; however, he had laid the foundation of “unclehood.”

Soon, the three of you – my darling nephews Jonathan, Andrew & Parker – will be joined by my new nephew or niece, and Parker, like Jonathan, and myself, will be a big brother. This will be exciting for us all!

Although I am truly your uncle, there are a number of our family friends whose children refer to me as “Uncle Darin.” To me, being an uncle, whether to the three of you, or family friends, is quite an honor, and quite legacy for me to follow.

One day, I hope that each of you will become uncles – if not to siblings, to friends of your own family. Right now, Uncle Destin and I have the wonderful roll of being “the uncles” and you can be assured we will do it with great care, great devotion, and great love – and of course, you can always count on great fun and laughter – that too, is a part of our legacy.

But to my darling nephews, I feel blessed to be your uncle, and pray that we shall always have that unique special relationship I experienced with my Uncle Ron. One day, it will be my turn to take the walk down that long pier. It will then be up to each of you to be “the uncle.” And I know that you will take on this responsibility with great care, great devotion, great love – but most especially, with great fun and laughter.

With my deepest love and devotion,

Uncle Darin

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