Saturday, March 25, 2017

What a Wonderful Christmas 2016

Three months ago, it was December 25, 2016. Christmas Day. There were three gifts - touching, very thoughful gifts. It's time to share those gifts and to remember.

Our dryer went kaput. I had become quite adept with indoor clothes line hanging and drying methods. But it was a slow process.  David and Dani bought their mother and I a gift. They bought a dryer.

So - we were a normal laundry household again. Well, until the washing machine went kaput two months later. But that was replaced and we are good to go for house laundry!

The next two gifts made me well up some tears.

David sent a picture that Dani took to a photo lab.  The picture was transformed into a large canvas picture. The picture is of David, Dad, Mom, and me. The canvas picture is a beauty and hangs below the picture of the Lord's Supper in our dining room. The large canvas is so special to me after Dad died last May; it is a reminder of a joyful moment to look at each morning.

Dani asked for something that Dad signed - his signature. I thought she wanted to have a signature to copy to keep as a memento. And she did!  She had a sunflower tattoo placed on her arm with Dad's signature above it.  Wow - what a loving testament to Dad and his love for all!

Christmas 2016 was a beautiful, shining light remembering Dad and helping our household. My wife and I are very blessed with two wonderful, passionate children.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Songs and Long Ago Memories

"I was listening to the radio; I heard a song reminded me of long ago."
Eddie Money: I Wanna Go Back

I don’t know about most people, but many times when I hear a song from the past, it often triggers memories I’ve associated with the song.

Out in the country, when I was still young enough not to be in school, I remember quite well an old yellow rectangular radio box. It was in the kitchen. My mom would have it tuned in to the nearest local radio station. 

I remember that situation because I heard a song that really caught my attention. Mind you, I was only four years old. But I still remember that feeling to this day: hearing Bob Dylan’s Blowin” in the Wind come across that old radio in the kitchen. Probably set me on my road to question authority and to dislike rules.

From the decade of 1980-1990, here are a few selected songs and associated memories.

John Lennon – Woman. College freshman, dancing at a dorm party on St. Patrick’s Day 1981 and all of us breaking the college alcohol policy.  Green (spiked) punch.

US Highway 136, Nebraska
April Wine – Just Between You and Me. Back home during my first college summer break. Off some patch of grass near US Highway 136 and Republican City, Nebraska, I happened to find a party:  I can still recall the beauty of the star lit sky.

Talking Heads - Burning Down the House The dance halls in LeMars, Iowa.  What crazy good times.

Elvis Costello – What’s so funny about Peace Love and Understandin’. An anthem while a college newspaper editor to push me further in writing passionate editorials.

Duran Duran – Hungry like the Wolf. Had the pleasure of having the Marriott feed me every day while living in Washington, D.C.  They would blast songs at a high decibel across their cafĂ© area – nothing like eating while hearing the pornographic ending of this song (the extended version).

Twisted Sister – We’re not going to Take It. Kemper Arena, Kansas City, at a Twisted Sister concert. Can still remember the bass guitar waves hitting my chest like a hammer.

Genesis – Invisible Touch. A private, members-only club, Gammons, in Lawrence, Kansas where I played backgammon for hours, ate free food during happy hour, and met a lot of KU coeds. The day I left Lawrence heading for some type of life in northern Kentucky, this was the last song I heard from a Kansas City radio station as it faded off into the distance.

The Who – Eminence Front. Right next door to Gammons was a smartly located pizza shop, Pizza Shuttle. One early morning after leaving Gammons while I was waiting for my pizza to be made, I can still remember the conversation between the employees. Eminence Front begins playing. Employee one asks employee two – who plays this song? Employee two replies, exactly. Employee one looks quizzical.

Corey Hart – Never Surrender and Bruce Cockburn If I had a Rocket Launcher. KU student in Lawrence, KS. Two songs that helped me back onto the road of spiritual discovery. 

Dive Bar, Covington, Kentucky

U2 – Angel of Harlem. At a dive bar in Covington, Kentucky picking up fast games of pool.

John Mellencamp – Paper in Fire. Clubbing in Cincinnati dance halls along the riverfront. What crazy times.

Midnight Oil – Beds are Burnin’. Small venue in Cincinnati packed to the gills rocking out to political rock music. 

The band Velcro Pygmies. Yesterday’s. The happening Chattanooga night club. I loved Yesterday’s – ran a bar tab, great music, met a lot of people, and the Pygmies just blew me away with their energetic performances.

Please enjoy a playlist of the 14 songs mentioned in this post.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

What I did for Two Weekends in July - PTA Summer Leadership Training!

Summer Leadership Training at Knoxville.

Imagine six people from different parts of the state piling workshop materials and luggage into one van and that group traveling to different cities in Tennessee.  Well, that's what I did.  Tennessee PTA annual summer leadership training was split up this year into a three-day weekend and a two-day weekend.

Chattanooga - Johnson City - Knoxville was the first part. Then Nashville - Memphis was the second part. I led workshops at four of the five stops, missing out on the stop in Memphis.  I met a lot of new PTA friends and reconnected with current PTA friends.  The traveling team built a camaraderie traveling from the state office in Nashville to Chattanooga, to Johnson City, to Knoxville, and back to the state office to unload.  And in Nashville the next weekend, we met up again to lead workshops. Four of the six travel team went on to Memphis the next day to lead another series of workshops.

What other Tennessee volunteer organization does this? Sending volunteers out, who give up vacation time and work pay, to travel to different parts of the state to connect, to network and to train local volunteers. I say not a single one except Tennessee PTA!

The PTA difference! 

Also - there were two restaurants worth mentioning for great food!

In Johnson City - we went to the Mad Greek with two local PTA leaders joining us for dinner.

In Knoxville - we went to the Cedar Bluff Aubrey's with several local PTA leaders joining us for dinner.

More group pictures from each of the stops that I attended:

Summer Leadership Training at Johnson City

Summer Leadership Training at Nashville

Summer Leadership Training at Chattanooga