MY DAY: Teaching, dinner, deck

It was a short teaching day.

Laura and I ate dinner at Chuy’s and I had the best chicken enchilada. Of course, it’s always great to spend time with Laura.

Back at home I climbed into my chaise lounge on the deck and have not budged. The Girls have each come up to give me a kiss and show their affection.

The Jon Meacham biography on Thomas Jefferson is a great listen on this comfortable August evening.

Thursday, August 5th, marks the second year anniversary of Mother’s passing.

It’s not even at the 7:30 PM mark and I’m feeling content with this day.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Writing Your Story

This is a post by DailyOM.

We all have a story to tell, whether we publish it or keep it for just ourselves or family; allow yourself to be heard.

Everyone, at one time or another, has wanted to express his or her story. Writing a memoir to read privately, share with family or friends, or publish is an emotionally satisfying way to gain perspective on your experiences while sharing your unique voice. We’ve all experienced feelings and events in our lives that we are longing to write down. Giving in to that urge can give you an outlet for purging any frustration, anxiety, or long-dormant feelings. No one else has to read it. You may even want to write your story without reading it right away. Satisfying the need to tell your story is not predicated upon your writing ability. It does, however take effort to write down the truth in detail. Your memories, captured on paper as descriptive scenes, sights, sounds, and scents, may at first seem disconnected or incomplete. But rest assured that you possess the ability to shape your recollections into stories.

Everyone wants to be heard. Reading your story to others can meet that need. Writing your story can also help you understand your life experiences. And when you finish writing, you may be surprised at what you have accomplished. Your story can encompass as much or as little of your life as you prefer. You may surprise yourself with new insights, or you may find yourself exploring your roots, your identity, and your future through your words. Allow your writing to guide you and write as truthfully as possible. Don’t worry about what others will think of your personal journey, your style of writing, or your words.  

Research has shown that writing a personal narrative filled with feelings and perceptions can create long-term health benefits. As you write, remember to have compassion for yourself, particularly when writing about traumatic events. If you are a young person, you can add to your life story as you grow older. Your writing may help family members know you better, or they may understand themselves more through reading about your experiences. More importantly, you are expressing yourself in a permanent way, giving a gift to yourself, and letting your voice be heard.

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MY DAY: Monday morning

The day is bright and sunny with 59-degrees sponsoring this morning that is already filled with activity beyond The Haasienda.

I always take my 7:15 AM coffee chat with Joshua, and two days a week, with David added, in my study as not to disturb Mama Kay next door. The deck is generally too quiet and sometimes our laughter and passionate history or political discussions get quite loud.

By 8:20-8:30 AM, like this very moment, the world has become more alive with activity and noise. The traffic on Shroyer Road is much heavier, walkers and runners are thicker on the sidewalks, and this morning, the Fairmont cross country runners are passing by in little groups, chatting and laughing.

Yesterday morning, it took 1 hour, 20 minutes to mow the front yard. Normally, I’ve got it mowed in 20 minutes, not counting the trimming. Everyone and their dogs decided to pass by while I was mowing. I always shut off the mower when I see folks pass and of course, if there’s a dog… yard work goes on hold. But, I’d have it no other way as those dogs need so much loving, petting, and attention in general. Had there been one more dog family pass by I would have been caught in the strong rain shower just past the noon hour.

My Rose of Sharon blooms on the north side of the deck and my wisteria is budding and blooming on the south side. I love these highlights of beauty as I write and work.

It’s a slim day of teaching with one student now moved to California, three off to college, four on vacation, and two camps. Next week will be the last full week of summer session, then a week off for Fifth Week, and then it will kick back in with full energy. Thus, summer comes to and end but hopefully not the end of at least two more months of deck time.

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MY DAY: Saturday night with Mama Kay

Surprisingly, you’ll not find mine and Mama Kay’s names on the police blotters around Dayton, especially since Laura was not with us to supervise.

We dined at Jorgge’s Ristorante & Cantina located on Wilmington Pike near China Cottage. Great food and super service.

Mama Kay took the wheel for a pleasant evening drive through Moraine, West Carrollton, and on over to Gettysburg to visit the Dayton VA Cemetery. Mama Kay was in search of some graves of some friends which we located.

Before leaving we walked over to see the gravesite of her son-in-law’s father, Clarence D. Parker.

We were home by 8:30 PM without being the grand marshals leading the parade of swirling red, white, and blue lights.

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O, FOR HISTORY: Jon Meacham & Thomas Jefferson

I started Jon Meacham’s Pulitzer Prize winning THOMAS JEFFERSON: THE ART OF POWER.

I’ve always enjoyed listening to Jon Meacham in interviews or offering speeches, and even George H. W. Bush’s eulogy. It occurred to me, just this morning, that I’ve never read any of his books!

It just so happened that Audible sent me an email with some free credits and Meacham’s book on Jefferson was at the top of the list. Free credit was promptly applied.

Already, just during the prologue I’ve been wholly captured and I am ready for this 18+ hour adventure.

One item that immediately snagged me was when discussing Jefferson’s persistent foreboding and suspicions regarding anything related to the British government, and that we needed to consider them through his eyes and times and not how we know the story turned out.

That’s pretty powerful and something I keep in mind with any current objections of history and attempts to rewrite their history to suit ourselves.

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MY DAY: Funtastic Friday

It’s not been an eventful day by any means but it’s been relaxed.

It was a more comfortable night for sleep but my body was not participating. Another night of tossing and turning, more restless than the night before.

I fed the dogs, opened and secured the door to the deck, and fell into bed for some reading and finally, a solid sleep. At 11:00 AM, I woke, spent time with the dogs, and decided to grab the No. 17 bus to the Dayton Mall.

I lunched at Outback Steakhouse. Every now and then, I dearly love a good steak and today was my day. I had the most charming server and a terrific lunch of a garden salad with the house dressing, a medium cooked sirloin steak, and a loaded baked potato.

From there, I crossed the parking lot to The Dayton Mall, grabbing pretzel bites and caramel dip. I sat where I thought I’d enjoy people watching but the emptiness was depressing.

The mall has added a number of inviting, family friendly items: ping pong, corn hole, a train, many items for the little peeps, but it’s not enough to draw in folks. A number of stores were shut down or closed long enough for employees to take a break or grab lunch. Normally, there would be coverage.

I pushed my self to walk from the mall to the Miami Township Library, directly across from the South Hub Bus Terminal.

The last time, it was a 17 minute walk with the cane. Today, two weeks of not using my cane, I made it in 12 minutes. There’s a certain point where my feet feel as though they’re painlessly lifting cinder blocks, barely moving. While I mentally worked through that I felt more triumphant in shaving five minutes off my last trek from those two points.

Northbound No. 17 bus dropped me off directly in front of my house. I’m so grateful for that particular bus stop.

And the dogs were overjoyed to see me.

Today’s steps were 5,224 making a total of 2.41 miles walked. Thursday’s count was 3,950 steps at 1.9 miles

I fed the dogs at 3:30 PM, laid down on my bed to watch something, woke at 7:30 PM., made a batch of salsa, and am loving the constant warm breeze wrapping around the north side of the deck.

Some folks are hanging out in the high school’s north parking lot with their motorcycle and their animated conversation is keeping Chief and Erma on high alert. I can only assume they’d be equally defensive beyond the enclosure of The Haasienda.

Saturday holds nothing to my schedule and I am wondering if I can put the yard on hold until late Sunday morning. The back yard already looks to be a challenge.

That will wait another twelve hours. In the meantime, on to writing and listening to documentaries and audiobooks.

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MY DAY: An enjoyable Thursday

The morning rain let up by 9:30 AM and by 10:20 AM I was greeting Cider Kress, accompanied by her mom, Amy, and Amy’s sister and niece, Jennifer and Hayley. Hayley and her brother, Ryan, who live near Denver, Colorado, are my private voice students via Zoom.

Hayley, Jennifer, Darin

Cider is the newest German Shepherd to reside with the Kress family, succeeding two previous German Shepherds, Anya and Greta. She’s spunky and adorable.

We walked to Lincoln Park and returned to The Haasienda where I brought out Erma, the most tame and accepting of my quartet. Erma and Cider played the doggie stand-off game for a bit and finally settled into familiarity and then, calm.

Back inside The Haasienda, I lunched with friends and colleagues, laughing and just enjoying one another’s companionship.

It’s 4:30 PM and the atmosphere seems to be revving up for a storm, the wind twisting and smacking the wind chimes and bending trees and bushes. The marching band is completing its final day of band camp and I’m doubtful they will get to perform their work for their families.

I’m on the deck finishing up my Grubhub delivered fish dinner as the grey clouds speed up a little faster. I’m certain my deck time is to be limited.

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O, FOR HISTORY: My mask

It appears I may need to resume wearing my masks. I’m fine with this as they must be worn on the bus and while at the terminal.

All eight of my great-grandparents were born between 1896-1904 so by the time of the 1918 pandemic, they were still young and unmarried. My one maternal great-grandmother, Mary Belle Jones, and her mother, Anna Greenlee Jones, made thousands of cloth masks, as did countless others throughout the nation. Grandma Belle even won a box of chocolates for winning a contest for the most number of masks made within one month. She was proud of those earned, expensive chocolates.

In 1919, two sets of great-grandparents were to be married but their autumn nuptials were postponed one year due to the still lingering epidemic. The fall of 1920, their weddings took place with the wedding party and invited guests still masked up.

I love these photos of the 1918 pandemic showing folks with masks. My favorite is of the family whose cat is even masked up. That could have easily been my family.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Thursday morning cloudiness

When the Zoom call-tone blared in my study, I was certain my son was calling an hour early because the sun was not yet appearing.

It was 7:15 AM, alright, just very overcast with that look of impending rain. Sure enough, as I was feeding the dogs at 8:00 AM, the rain began; however, it is to be short lived and I am ensconced at my favorite space on the deck, beneath overlapped umbrellas, eating bagels, drinking coffee, and typing away while continuing to listen to BULLY PULPIT which I’ve discussed in previous blog posts.

I’ve an outdoor activity that commences in about 90 minutes and it appears the rain showers will have completely moved out by that time.

I felt fine but the heat and humidity, and my stubborn insistence to not turn on the AC because, “it’ll break in a bit,” made sleeping uncomfortable and fitful. I doubt too many calories were spent on tossing and turning.

I need to tackle a few things around the house and throw shirts into the washer and keeping an eye on the sky.`

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Wednesday morning

It’s a mischievous play by nature: at 10:40 AM, it’s only 77-degrees with humidity at 70%; however, it feels much like the 89-degrees that is anticipated for later today with humidity at 130%. There is a gentle breeze that makes the deck tolerable at spells. At least the clanging wind chimes make me believe so.

This is the time of year I begin bidding farewell to my seniors who are preparing to go to college in the upcoming weeks. Some students I’ve had since kindergarten or first grade and it’s been a delight watching them grow up and grow into fine musicians and thespians. I’ve seventeen seniors leaving for college, more in music education, performance, and composition than in musical theatre, the split being 10 in music and 7 in musical theatre. I wish them well, but oh, how I shall miss them.

The Quartet spends most of their lounging time in my air conditioned study while I teach. They don’t seem to mind our deck time as they just want to be nearby.

The only thing on today’s docket is a 1:00 PM rescheduled lesson. The mowing will just have to wait.

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O, FOR HISTORY: Nellie Taft, an Ohio girl

I’ve both read and used Audible/audiobooks with Doris Kearns Godwin’s THE BULLY PULPIT: THEODORE ROOSEVELT, WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT, and THE GOLDEN AGE OF JOURNALISM.

This morning, while busying myself around the house I pulled up the audiobook and hit a random starting point which landed on the deaths of Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother in the same house, on the same day.

Immediately after, while breakfasting on the deck, it turned to the courtship of two Cincinnatians, Nellie Herron and William Howard Taft.

I’ve always had a fascination with Nellie Taft who made several highlights as First Lady before being semi-stilled by a stroke. Her father was law partner with another Ohio giant, Rutherford B. Hayes who Nellie called “Uncle Rutherford.” Her first visit to The White House at age 16 was monumental enough to garner mention in President Hayes’ diary.

As I ate breakfast, I learned that Nellie enjoyed a vacation in a wonderful area near my home, Yellow Springs, Ohio. She was joined by her most earnest suitor, Will Taft.

While it is nothing remarkable, hearing of this Yellow Springs vacation brought Nellie Taft a little closer to home in never-ceasing and forever growing list of interests.

My goal each day is to learn a minimum of three (3) new things. Since I’ve read/listened to this book before, I’m sure the Yellow Springs nod has been on my radar, so I’m back at square one.

And that’s fine by me.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Know your limits

This article is not written by me but by DailyOM.

There is power in knowing your personal limits — your willingness to accept these limits can give you the means to flourish.

Every human life is defined, to some extent, by limits. No one person is capable of fulfilling every possibility. We are all born with unique aptitudes and sensitivities, and it is these qualities that largely determine the paths we will travel in life. What invigorates, excites, and inspires one individual may exhaust or overwhelm another. When we understand what we as individuals are capable of reasonably handling, we gradually learn to accept that we have control over our wellbeing. Yet determining where our limits lie can be difficult, as it is likely we have been told time and again that the discomfort, fatigue, and stress we felt while engaging in activities outside the range of our comfort zones was all in our heads. If you have never before given thought to the notion of personal limits, creating a list of those tasks and situations that leave you feeling drained can give you insight into your own.

You will know definitively that you are operating within your limits when you have the necessary energy and drive to address your personal and professional commitments. This is not to say you should not push yourself or work to extend the range of your capabilities. The wisdom you gain through dynamic self-examination will give you the tools you need to create an individual life strategy that allows you to achieve your goals without compromising yourself or your needs. The limits you honor by focusing your energy on what you can do rather than what you cannot do will not interfere with your ambitions unless you allow them to interfere. You can thrive within your limits, actively shape your circumstances, and avoid anguish by simply recognizing that certain aspects of life nourish you while others drain you, and doing your best to perceive the fine line between applying yourself diligently and overworking yourself. 

You may be surprised to discover that your limits change over time. Your willingness to accept these limits as they reveal themselves to you can smooth your passage through life and give you the means to flourish.

Learn and know your limits and make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Deck time, Audiobooks, Life

I’ve felt fine but have been dealing with an intermittent fever and no other symptoms. Sunday, as I began teaching, a long wave of nausea set in and I let my students know that I may need to may a quick exit. Fortunately, that did not happen.

Today, I had 3/4 of my students on vacation or at band camps so I spent most of the day listening to audiobooks or watching documentaries. The Fairmont marching band is in their second day of band camp and I love hearing the progress.

Saturday, Laura and I were discussing books and I realized I had listened to a ton of audiobooks since April 2021. Tonight, I made an accounting of the books I have fully completed.

  1. A MARRIAGE MADE IN HEAVEN by Erma Bombeck
  2. AGONY AND ELOQUENCE: JOHN ADAMS, THOMAS JEFFERSON AND A WORLD OF REVOLUTION by Daniel Mallock
  3. AN INTERVIEW WITH PAT CONROY by Pat Conroy
  4. BIRDMEN: WRIGHT BROTHERS, GLENN CURTISS & OTHER AVIATORS by Lawrence Goldstone
  5. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT by Sandy Marsh
  6. DAN RATHER: STORIES OF A LIFETIME by Dan Rather
  7. DANIEL BOONE by John Mack Faragher
  8. GHOSTS OF GONE WITH THE WIND by Gene Arceri
  9. HENRY CLAY by Harlow Giles Unger
  10. HOW TO DO RESEARCH FOR YOUR NOVEL by Ora Rosalin & Beyonce Rosalin
  11. I DISSENT by Ruth Bader Ginsberg
  12. IF LIFE IS A BOWL OF CHERRIES WHAT AM I DOING IN THE PITS by Erma Bombeck
  13. INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE by Ronald Kesller
  14. JOHN QUINCY ADAMS by Harlow Giles Unger
  15. JUST WAIT TIL YOU HAVE CHILDREN OF YOUR OWN by Erma Bombeck
  16. KING RICHARD: WATERGATE by Michael Dobbs
  17. LESSONS FROM LUCY by Dave Barry
  18. MARY LINCOLN: BIOGRAPHY OF A MARRIAGE by Ruth Painter Randall
  19. MR. PRESIDENT: GEORGE WASHINGTON by Harlow Giles Unger
  20. MRS. LINCOLN’S SISTERS by Jennifer Chiaverini
  21. PASSIONATE SAGE: JOHN ADAMS by Joseph J. Ellis
  22. ROSEMARY: ROSEMARY KENNEDY by Kate Clifford Larson
  23. SCALIA SPEAKS by Christopher J. Scalia
  24. THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A USER’S GUIDE by Linda R. Monk
  25. THE BIRTH OF CHRISTIANITY by Pete Rollins
  26. THE BULLY PULPIT: THEODORE ROOSEVELT, WILLIAM HOWARD TAFT AND THE GOLDEN AGE OF JOURNALISM by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  27. THE GATHERING STORM by Kate Reading & Michael Kramer
  28. THE GRASS IS ALWAYS GREENER OVER THE SEPTIC TANK by Erma Bombeck
  29. THE JESUS FAMILY TOMB by Simcha Jacobovici
  30. THE LAST INVESTIGATION: JFK ASSASSINATION by Gaeton Fonzi
  31. THE LOST GOSPEL by Smicha Jacobovici & Barrie Wilson
  32. THE MADNESS OF MARY LINCOLN by Jason Emerson
  33. THE ORIGINAL WATERGATE STORY by The Washington Post, Bob Woodward & Carl Bernstein
  34. THE REAL WATERGATE SCANDAL by Geoff Shepherd
  35. THE SECRET COALITION by Gary A. Donaldson
  36. THE WRIGHT BROTHERS by David McCullough
  37. THREE SHOTS RANG OUT: THE JFK ASSASSINATION 50 YEARS LATER by Diane Sawyer
  38. UMLIMITED ACCESS by Gary Aldrich
  39. WHITE HOUSE USHER by Christopher B. Emery
  40. WRITING EXCITING by Bill Baldwin, Ron Miller
  41. WRITING: STEP-BY-STEP by Sandy Marsh

I am astounded and excited not only with the volume of reads but the sheer variety of topics.

Yes, I love audiobooks because they allow me to cover a number of other tasks. What is more, I can maintain focus on researching, writing, and doing studio business whilst engaging in a book of interest.

The deck is cool and comfortable, quite the opposite of the stale heat from the day. The dogs are scattered about the deck, napping while maintaining watch over the premises.

Now, I have some decision to make regarding my next audiobook. I’ve several options vying for the top spot but I am wanting something a bit different. We shall see.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Little surprises to end the sags

To be honest, despite keeping upbeat over the failed (Greyhound!) travel attempt to St. Louis and Springfield, I’ve felt, as Joshua and David would mimic their fellow Brits, “a bit of the sags” the past few days.

Not getting to spend time with Jeff Carter the day before his 60th birthday, hobnobbing with the Lincoln family scholars, and spending time with BSU friends on my return-home Indy layover were the true disappointments.

Despite the immediate change of travel destinations, I made the most of it while returned to The Haasienda, and enjoyed spending the weekend with loved ones and seeing BRIGHT STAR for a second viewing.

Last night, I had a surprise Zoom with my friend, Valerie, who I was to see in Springfield for our events, both official and unofficial. She said that when I posted about the Greyhound debacle, several in the group were immediately trying to find airplane tickets; they were not under $1300. That was touching.

Others were reaching out to me: one family friend offered to drive me to Springfield while another colleague-friend was trying to commandeer his brother into using his personal plane to get me to Springfield; the brother was on a trip to California.

There were a number of other “I wish you had let us knows” when they learned too late that my trip was cancelled.

Since Thursday, the days have dragged in a somewhat dreadful way; nothing bad, just severely slow. Today, I had three items that tripped the switch back to being a bit more buoyant. I received a card from my friend, Karen, with a peppy written note. My wisteria tree is blooming around the deck. And, finally, my Rose of Sharon is blooming after 3/4 was destroyed by a spring storm.

I love surprise springboards. I did get a surprise trip and dinner on Wednesday which lifted the sags, but the three items today, and plus time with Laura for dinner and to watch my student in DROWSY CHAPERONE aided in keeping the deeper sags at bay.

I still made it a great day, even with harder efforts, but I tackled the sags thanks to friends, family, and nature!

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THE SPRINGFIELD ADVENTURE: 1st Leg of the Journey

7.15.2021 | DAYTON to COLUMBUS

Laura picked me up at 5:00 PM to deliver me to the Greyhound terminal for my 6:35 PM departure.

Finding the actual building where the terminal is housed should have been a warning shot. The computers were down and so was the A/C. The Greyhound associate let me know the bus would be arriving closer to 7:30 PM due to construction traffic on I-70. Actually, she said she couldn’t actually track that bus but that it could arrive between 6:30 PM and 7:30 PM.

Laura and I went in search of a beverage and ended up at The Donut Palace for smoothies, she a mango smoothie and I a peach smoothie. We returned to the Greyhound terminal and chatted until the bus arrived.

Boarding was a bit clumsy and complicated; it was a full ride and few were willing to offer up the seat beside them. A kindly young chap graciously beckoned me to sit in his row with a “there are some rude mo—er f—ckers.” The bus driver was forced to clamp down on a batch of riders who were already behaving a bit unruly.

For the most part, it was a tight, stuffy ride but an hour – ten minutes in length.

At the Columbus terminal, I got my E-tickets and ordered a burger and fries. The tastiest burger!

My departure from Columbus to Indianapolis, and then on to St. Louis where I’m expected to arrive by 6:30 AM, is set for 11:45 PM. I’m second in line to board and I am praying for my own row to myself.

7.15 & 16.2021 | COLUMBUS to INDIANAPOLIS and SPRINGFIELD

At 11:15 PM, thirty minutes prior to departure, Greyhound cancelled the bus due to the driver not having enough driving hours left.

TRIP CANCELLED.

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MY DAY: A relaxing, musical filled Saturday

Thursday and Friday both felt like Saturday; Saturday felt like Sunday but without the late afternoon through late night teaching schedule.

A productive day on many levels but I also enjoyed the down time.

I am finishing up Linda Monk’s THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A USER’S GUIDE and I think I am liking this book ahead of the previous audiobooks I’ve enjoyed. The explanations and history behind each of the Bill of Rights is fascinating.

This evening, my bonus sister, Laura, picked me up and we dined on Mexican cuisine before heading to Northmont High School to see my student, Sophie, in the lead of THE DROWSY CHAPERONE with Vandalia Youth Theatre. Sophie was excellent and VYT, known as a strong production company for many years, did not disappoint. Bravo!

What a fun time spent with Laura which is not unusual.

Tomorrow evening resumes the teaching schedule and I am eager to work with the students this week. Band camps will be gearing up this week and the temperatures are forecast for the high 80s.

Since it would have been my Aunt Joyce’s 88th birthday I am closing off this blog entry with two of my favorite family photos.

The first is from 1945. My great-grandfather is holding my mother as a baby. The photographer, which was probably my great-great grandfather, kept telling my Aunt Joyce to stop making a face. They quickly discovered Mother was pulling Aunt Joyce’s hair.

The second photograph is of Aunt Joyce and Mother, the last time they were to be together. Mother left a few months later on August 5, 2019, and Aunt Joyce passed away December 11, 2020.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Aunt Joyce

Joyce Ann Clary-Riser Born 24 July 1933 – Died 11 December 202

Oh, how instead of just thinking of my Aunt Joyce, today, I could physically wish her a happy birthday.

Joyce Clary was the younger sister of my maternal grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes. Being nine years younger than Grandma Donna placed Joyce in a pretty neat position of being an aunt and bonus older sister to my mother, Diana. To me, my great aunt was simply known as Aunt Joyce.

The tales of pranks pulled off by Grandma Donna and Aunt Joyce are family legend and beyond attempting to repeat. They were the Mona Lisas of the joke world.

They were hard working farm girls born to a family of pioneers from Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana. They were born with the blood of pioneer and notable families of Jones, Noble, Greenlee, Ball, McCrory, and Vinson. Now, Aunt Joyce lies buried in the same family-pioneer cemetery of Forrestville with her line stretching to her third great-grandmother, Sarah Musselman Greenlee, buried in 1822.

I had many great-aunts but was always closest to my Aunt Joyce. Her daughters, Kim and Debbie, were two and five years younger than me, the closest in age of any of my cousins. We had so many adventures together, and when they were living in Florida, we made a number of trips to visit them.

One of my favorite things was when we recorded our greetings and stories into a GE cassette tape player to send Aunt Joyce and The Girls. They’d listen and then record over our voices to return to us. It was cheaper than long distance and not so rushed. I even recorded piano and organ music for Aunt Joyce. Once, I recorded “Beyond The Sunset,” and Mother did not get the tape sent until a few weeks later. Aunt Joyce said she sat at her kitchen table and sobbed as she listened to the hymn on her mother’s birthday; the hymn had been played at Grandma Belle’s funeral.

After Grandma Donna passed away in 1992, Aunt Joyce filled in as a bonus mother to Mother and a bonus grandma to us three children, Dena, Destin, and myself. It seemed only fitting for the new matriarch of the family to do. Plus, Kim and Debbie always felt more like sisters than just cousins, despite being Mother’s first cousins and our first cousins once removed.

Aunt Joyce has been gone for six months and this is the first earthly birthday she has not shared. Her death, preceded by my Mother, my brother, Dad, and several cousins, was the stick tossed into my own life’s bicycle spokes. She was my very last connection to all our family history and to all the family with which I had grown up.

After Mother’s passing on August 5, 2019, I only had several more visits with Aunt Joyce before The Quarantine began. From my cousin’s accounts, Aunt Joyce was ever much the Queen Bee and Doll of the assisted living facility in which she was an integral part, just as she was when she was an administrator for so many years.

Time has not truly eased the grief from these past six months. In some ways, it has been worse than losing Mother. Mother’s death was expected but Aunt Joyce, at 87, was a sudden departure.

My cousin, Debbie, sent me a photo of Aunt Joyce’s newly set gravestone. Her older brother, Ronald Monroe Clary, lays buried on the left of the stone, and her parents, Mary Belle Jones Clary and John William Garrett Clary are to the right. However, just behind Grandma Belle and Granda Garrett rests my grandparents, Donna Clary Barmes and Leroy Barmes.

The Sisters, dubbed, “Those damned girls” by their father, the main target of so many jokes, are reunited.

I have so many wonderful, fun memories of time spent with Aunt Joyce, yet, I still cannot shake the heavy sadness, that empty feeling her death created. I do hope, however, when my time comes Aunt Joyce will be the first one to greet me as I know there will be so much fun in store.

Happy first heavenly birthday, Aunt Joyce…

Know you are loved…

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MY DAY: Thursday evening

I am back at home on the deck with four dogs lounging close by, enjoying this near perfect weather as the sun makes its descent.

At 8:50 PM, it is still quite light.

I took No. 17 down to The Levitt Pavilion for an outdoor evening concert featuring Sinclair Community College’s music program.

I had preordered my Subway sandwich at the store across the street from the pavilion; however, their sign flashed open while their doors remained locked and the inside dark. Within a few minutes I received notification letting me know my meal had been cancelled due to the store hours. The store’s website indicated it was open until 8:00 PM.

I set up my chair on the pavilion’s lawn and noted there was a concession booth but it was a barbecue place. I am not a big fan of barbecue but decided to order something: loaded mac & cheese with pulled pork. While it tasted fine, it just wasn’t my thing.

The concert was good but as I calculated the bus schedule, I decided to take the 8:20 PM No. 17 as it looked like I might have a 45-60 minute wait after the concert. As a young child, Mother always encouraged me to bring along a book or a pad of paper and pen should I ever be in a position to wait any length of time.

I am always prepared. Cell phone technology has helped immensely.

As I stepped off the bus at home, I heard music blasting from The Fraze Pavilion which is a block from my house. I love having live music while I am on my deck.

I also have several cardinals serenading.

So, I have had a full night of live music. You cannot beat that!

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MY DAY: Scenic route adventures

My bonus son leaves for college in less than a month and we’ve been enjoying some adventures and fun together, making up for the complete year of quarantine.

Wednesday afternoon, we got into his car and he asked if I had any preference for a place to eat.

“Nope.”

“Well, good. I am surprising you. Direct route or scenic route?”

“Scenic.” Always, always the scenic route.

His Mapquest’s voice gave away the destination: Der Dutchman restaurant in Plain City, Ohio, northeast of Columbus.

Ohio State Route 42 is one of my favorites as it takes me past the neighbor universities of Wilberforce and Central State, the Clifton Falls, and then Cedarville. This adventure took us through picturesque little communities of South Charleston and London and enormously beautiful, wide open countryside.

The best part about riding shotgun is the opportunity to see so much more and take photos.

Der Dutchman is a heaven for home cooking and superb service. We enjoyed a delightful young lady who took care of our dining needs and our meals, save Jacob’s “these have to be frozen green beans,” were delicious.

We retraced our first half of the journey for our return home with a stop at Cedar Cliff Falls. Until recently, it was a lovely but fairly rugged spot. Now, it has additional observation decks, lighting, seating and picnic tables, and an overall feeling of safety.

There were several others enjoying the falls and while standing on the one observation deck, closest to the falls, the mist added some natural refreshment. This was such a perfect touch to such an already fun evening.

It’s so nice to live in The Miami Valley where there’s much to appreciate with natural beauty. And, it’s nice to have energetic friends who appreciate the natural beauty during countryside drives.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Even when we’re tired

I woke this morning feeling a bit tired and wanting to return to bed; however, I hate wasting time when I am physically capable of moving forward.

The deck is bright and breezy, though still shaded by the house from the morning sunshine. It’s only 63-degrees and not expected to climb very high; a comfortable day awaits. And, very shortly, the marching band will be in the next door backfield and I do love listening to their rehearsals.

My first cup of coffee was taken in my study while chatting with The Boys while they lunched in London. I’d begun a new audiobook on The Constitution which I knew would garner much interest from Josh. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Dave joins the conversation and he decided to start reading the book so he would be involved in the dialogue. There are a few things unclear to me and having Joshua’s expertise rounding out the information is a huge help.

I am glad I decided to take my second cup of coffee on the deck, as well as my glass of Carnation Instant Breakfast. There’s much I hope to accomplish before my Thursday ZoomLunch with colleagues and friends.

Yes, I still think of returning to my bed for another hour of sleep but I am glad I overruled my own mind to enjoy working from the deck.

Even when you wish to take an easier route to your day, or a project, nudge yourself to move onward and make it a great day.

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MY DAY: Wednesday is moving along

The morning was just a little chilly but energizing and comfortable.

It’s nearing 1:00 PM and we’re only at 76-degrees with an expected high of 80-degrees. The humidity was a little on the high side at the start but didn’t feel uncomfortable. Now, a wonderful breeze is keeping the deck more desirable.

The cardinals are having a major song fest like it’s PITCH PERFECT: CARDINAL BLAST. Oh, I actually was talked into watching the first two PITCH PERFECT movies and I really did enjoy them.

Now, the driveway company is sealing the driveway; the smell is not too unpleasant and the breeze keeps it moving along. The sound of the machine is loud enough to challenge my good ear to hear the speaker right off the deck.

I’m to have dinner and watch some movies with a friend but until time to get ready, I will probably be cemented to my work area on the deck as I am making tremendous progress with research and outlining.

Spread across the deck are four special pals. Erma has provided me numerous breaks, reminding me I need to love on these pooches!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Building your family

Yesterday, I discovered this meme which grabbed me, especially after seeing the musical, BRIGHT STAR, last week before I was to leave for Springfield.

I grew up in a family that was biologically connected but with multiple extensions. If a couple married, the new in-law’s parents and siblings naturally became our own. I had several uncles and aunts that were not biologically related, but so dear was their affection no one not knowing the particulars would have had any clue.

A number of family and friends adopted children and the new child was simply one of us. In fact, my family was adopting children as far back as the 1870s. Adoption was just as natural as delivering a baby.

I’ve countless nieces and nephews, a few bonus sons and daughters, sisters, brothers, and a very special neighbor, Mama Kay, and her two children, Laura and Michael, who also adopted me as their brother.

Biological simply means “genetically connected,” not necessarily connected mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. Some believe biology should supersede collected or adopted. I do not care how a person is related to me; if it’s a fit, it’s a fit.

I may not see some of these family members other than connections on social media but it doesn’t matter; they’re still important to me and feel like family.

I loved our holiday dinners and family gatherings! They were never just our immediate biological collections; they were neighbors, friends, always a stranger or two visiting with a neighbor or friend, on/off duty police officers, and possibly some firemen. If a stranger walked through the door, they were automatically family and had better accept the fact they would be hugged.

My own home, here in Kettering, Ohio, is no different. The minute anyone walks through the entrance of The Haasienda, they’re one of us.

Make it a great day… Make it a great life…

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MY DAY: Tiring Tuesday

It’s just a bit after 8:15 PM, Tuesday evening, and I am tired yet still fully energized.

I had three strong teaching days, a number of students on vacation, at band camps, and I started three new students. The students who were in or who saw the musical BRIGHT STAR are still on fire.

Tonight, I had five evening students on vacation and it was nice to finish a long day by 5:30 PM. Within ten minutes I was trimming mine and Mama Kay’s yards. Since Mama Kay was going to her swimming aerobics class, I decided to go ahead and mow the yard, tonight, rather than tomorrow morning.

The body is sagging with some tired but I am feeling great. I began taking turmeric capsules, last week, and it has really made a difference in soothing the aches and diminishing the inflammation in my legs and feet.

The deck is lovely this evening; a fiery red sun has just descended behind the trees, some song birds are belching out a few last strains of the day, a breeze is wrapping itself around the deck, and I am eyeing my wisteria as new blooms begins popping out. The near perfect conditions are calming.

I started a new audio-book that I am enjoying and learning a great deal, already: THE BILL OF RIGHTS: A USER’S GUIDE by Betty Monk. I have really scored with some great reads, lately.

It’s nearing 8:40 PM and I’ve no idea how I shall spend the remainder of my evening. Normally, I’d be teaching until 9:45 PM.

And, Miss Erma had a wonderful 12th birthday with a few additional treats and many wonderful social media greetings. My eldest son and his partner, currently living in England, sang “Happy Birthday” to her and their dog, Bella, who stayed with us several years ago, had some doggie Zoom conversation with Erma. It was quite adorable. During Bella’s stay, Erma mothered her and seemed quite taken with her little charge.

It’s been a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Erma

July 20, 2021… my wonderful precious girl, Erma, is 12 years old, today.

This dog’s infectious sweetness, energy, always-at-the-front, tender hearted, and incredible love makes her The Ambassador for The Haasienda.

Happy birthday, precious girl!

Make it a great day and be like Erma.

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O, FOR HISTORY: The White House Security Gates of Fremont

In Fremont Ohio at the former home of the oldest son of Rutherford B. Hayes and that is now the Presidential Library of R. B. Hayes, are the former gates used to protect the White House in Washington DC since the time when Ulysses S. Grant was president until 1921. In 1921 the gates around the White House had to be replaced when automobiles were becoming more popular around the country. The reason the gates had to be replaced is that they were too small.

When originally installed, horse & buggies were the norm. With the automobile, those old gates just didn’t work, so Hayes son, Col. Webb C. Hayes petitioned then president Warren G. Harding to use the gates at the new library. Harding agreed, but in Washington DC, nothing is ever that simple. Congress had to approve the transfer of ownership which took Col. Hayes 6 years of dealing with Washington red tape before he gained possession. Today those 5 iron White House gates surround the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. The gate at top is located on the north entrance to Spiegel Grove. The close up at left is the main entrance to the estate and shows the Presidential Eagle, while the other gate depicts the Presidential Shield.

Rutherford Hayes was also the first president to use the Presidential Insignia and it was under his direction that this seal was created. It is strikingly different from the Seal of the United States’ eagle which had the eagle’s head pointed left as seen by the viewer. The Presidential Eagle’s head pointed right, and remained this way until President Truman implemented a re-design of the Presidential Eagle by turning the eagle’s head to the left as seen by a viewer. 

What does all the left and right pointing signify? Not much. Tradition called for heraldic eagles to point to the left. Some myths have grown up that because the eagle contained arrows clutched in it’s left talons, the big bird was looking towards war, instead of peace signified by the olive branch held in its right talon. More likely it was Hayes’ wish to distinguish the White House as being a different segment of the federal government.

This article, along with several other fascinating tidbits about Ohio, can be found in this article: http://touringohio.com/trivia/more-ohio-trivia.html

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