MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Tuesday morning musings

Today I am working from home. I will attempt some research and possible writing before heading off to Taco Tuesday with Mama Kay and her Noon-Mass gals. At 3:30 PM I’ll begin teaching until 11:00 PM.

Two new “used” books surrounding Dayton history arrived and I am excited to tear into them. COLONEL DEEDS: INDUSTRIAL BUILDER (about Edward Deeds) by Isaac Marcosson and DAYTON: THE GEM CITY by Bruce Ronald & Virginia Ronald. My book, BOSS KETTERING (about Charles Kettering) by Stuart Leslie will arrive later this week.

The air is slightly chilly but the sun is brightening the morning, a seeming reflection of the song birds bellowing their improvisations.

Time to begin reading and researching.

Make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Sunday on the deck

As Mama Kay, The Girls, and I left Centerville’s La Pinata restaurant Saturday evening, the storm clouds were moving in. Just as I reached the house, heavy drops began falling. It was a fairly fast-paced shower, but a heavy one. There may have been more that briefly moved through the area.

It’s still a bit damp to mow on this late Sunday morning and I am hoping that it will hold on until I can get to it Tuesday when I am not away from the house.

This morning has been quiet, but not without its chores of laundry, cleaning a heavy rug, attending to recyclables, and breakfasting beneath the raised umbrellas on the deck, The Quartet is gathered about and has since repositioned themselves since I took the photo, below.

I begin teaching at 2:00 PM and will do so until 11:00 PM. Depending on the humidity, I may teach from the deck. It’s 72-degrees at the moment and it is projected to rise up to 83-degrees by 5:00 PM. It would be a nice change to Zoom from the deck rather than my study.

As my eyes oft glance to the backyard, I am tending to attempt a mow of it, around 1:00 PM so that I am not fretting about it until Tuesday. The backyard’s grass grows terribly fast, mostly because I accidentally purchased “barnyard feeding grass” about ten years ago. If I had goats, cows, and sheep, it would be a different story.

My close family member who also battles RRMS (Relapsing-Remitting Multiple Sclerosis) is improving, slowly, but surely. She’s discovering things with her MS that I’ve not encountered while not experiencing some of the MS-related items I have known. It’s amazing just how varied the symptoms are from one fighter to another, especially with siblings.

I need to shower before Zooming with my son who is on a work trip to Los Angeles. I am so grateful for technology and how it can keep us all connected.

It’s a beautiful Sunday in so many places, so be sure to make it a great day!

The Quartet

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Manic Monday? Hmmm…

As I prepare to head into the park, I’ve had “just another Manic Monday…” flowing through my mind. While the Bangles’ hit song is catching and sweet, it doesn’t feel like a manic Monday. I eased into the day and have not felt rushed.

During the wee hours of the morning a terrific thunderstorm shot through the area. The very warm 80°+ weather that we had known for several previous days has been exchanged for cooler, damp air, and overcast/cloudy skies. My weather radar app shows no rain for this morning, but the heavy, dark gray clouds hovering overhead seem to disagree with the technology.

I am excited for the day at the park. We are nearing the end of the school group visits and that makes me a bit sad. While the late spring and summer months are not without crowds, I will so miss the excitement the little peeps bring with them. The introduction to Dayton’s history is thrilling but when the school children become excited over our area’s legacies, I cannot but help to feel even more pride in my adopted city of almost thirty-two years. In fact, I’ve now lived longer in Ohio than I did with my twenty-six years spent as a Hoosier.

As Bus No. 17 glides down Irving Street, beside the empty University of Dayton campus, the dark clouds have taken leave of The Miami Valley, or at least the area in which I will be spending the next four hours.

On the back deck, my wisteria is budding, ready to burst out for their first visit and my iris in the front yard are excited to spend some time with us.

If your Monday is manic or mild, be sure to make it a great day.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Saturday morning

It’s already a splendid morning at 65° and the trees are filled with some of the best singers. It doesn’t get much better than that. This afternoon it is to rise to 81° with chances of rain showers later in the evening.

Bus No. 17 has picked me up and I already miss blast of nature surrounding me. However, I’m now aware that something in the air is grabbing at my eyes with allergies.

It’s mid-May and it’s a mix of things slowing down and other things ramping up. Schools are winding down, colleges holding commencements, sporting events and concerts finalizing tons of hard work. Summer sports are beginning, more folks are attending to yard work, families planning vacations, and the smell of summer closing in fills the air. I love this mixed bouquet of seasonal delights.

Yesterday when I arrived at The Park, there were were e over 700 students of all ages enjoying their lunches all over the grounds. I have to admit that it was a tad misty for me to see children soaking up history, but more importantly, Dayton’s history.

When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents took me to many museums and historical sites. However, we did not have much that was near except Conner Prairie Historical Site. To be honest, while I now appreciate the setting, it was never one I particularly liked as the costumes presenters were always in the 1830s and pretending not to know anything beyond their time period. I found that ridiculous and exasperating. I still do. Fortunately, most current interpreters will be in period attire but always in the present while presenting and sharing knowledge. I like that! It makes conversations so much more enjoyable.

I’m nearing the park and it’s time to begin my day for which I am eager to do.

Wednesday, a very tiny girl entered my area with her class. She paused to read my name tag and said, “Mr. Darin, today is my very first field trip.”

Boom! I teared up.

Whether due to the pandemic prohibiting many school activities, or whether it is simply their first experience, I love seeing folks experience history.

Just in the final approach to where I need to get off the bus, there was a walk-run marathon blocking the entire span. Fortunately, the driver headed up Schantz Avenue which has a stop not too far from where I normally disembark Bus No. 18. Whew! Mild panic moment!

I took a selfie in front of a popular landmark that is no longer in business.

Do what you must to make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Round and round

When I was growing up in Elwood, Indiana, Carole and Bruce Boston ran the local roller skating rink and they provided a fun, safe, and loving experience every weekend and for all the special occasions.

As a young boy, the skate rink was merely a fun place to go and enjoy the skating, pinball machines, food, music, and fun with friends. There were kids of all ages and even a number of adults who skated, often serving as skating mentors. The Bostons truly offered a wonderful arena of memories.

Going round and round doesn’t necessarily seem all that fun but it could be magical for me. I was often thinking about things I’d read or the music blasting from the speakers. “Knock Three Times” was a favorite as when the title lyrics were sung, the skaters, while still moving, would slam their one skate against the floor, three times, of course.

I still like going round and round. For me, riding the bus is similar to my skating days which lasted through time with my sons at Kettering’s skate world, or when we went on vacations we’d often grab a skate rink for additional fun. On the bus, I can ride along, thinking to myself. I can plan and plot while viewing the passing scenery. Walking can do the same.

Round and round allows me to spin my creative mind or simply relax and enjoy the sights.

At 11:30 AM, I’ll step onto the bus to have another version of round and round.

Thank you, Mr. and Mrs. Boston for encouraging me to go round and round.

Make it a great day!

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Erma on mothers

When I first posted this on May 13, 2018, I did not know it would be the final tribute at Mother’s funeral, which beautifully, imaginatively, and lovingly delivered by my high school Latin teacher and much beloved family friend, Diana Garner.


When the Good Lord was creating mothers, He was into His sixth day of “overtime” when the angel appeared and said. “You’re doing a lot of fiddling around on this one.”

And God said, “Have you read the specs on this order? She has to be completely washable, but not plastic. Have 180 moveable parts… all replaceable. Run on black coffee and leftovers. Have a lap that disappears when she stands up. A kiss that can cure anything from a broken leg to a disappointed love affair. And six pairs of hands.”

The angel shook her head slowly and said. “Six pairs of hands…. no way.”

“It’s not the hands that are causing me problems,” God remarked, “it’s the three pairs of eyes that mothers have to have.”

“That’s on the standard model?” asked the angel. God nodded.

“One pair that sees through closed doors when she asks, ‘What are you kids doing in there?’ when she already knows. Another here in the back of her head that sees what she shouldn’t but what she has to know, and of course the ones here in front that can look at a child when he goofs up and say. ‘I understand and I love you’ without so much as uttering a word.”

“God,” said the angel touching his sleeve gently, “Get some rest tomorrow….”

“I can’t,” said God, “I’m so close to creating something so close to myself. Already I have one who heals herself when she is sick…can feed a family of six on one pound of hamburger…and can get a nine year old to stand under a shower.”

The angel circled the model of a mother very slowly. “It’s too soft,” she sighed.

“But tough!” said God excitedly. “You can imagine what this mother can do or endure.”

“Can it think?”

“Not only can it think, but it can reason and compromise,” said the Creator.

Finally, the angel bent over and ran her finger across the cheek.

“There’s a leak,” she pronounced. “I told You that You were trying to put too much into this model.”

“It’s not a leak,” said the Lord, “It’s a tear.”

“What’s it for?”

“It’s for joy, sadness, disappointment, pain, loneliness, and pride.”

“You are a genius, ” said the angel.

Somberly, God said, “I didn’t put it there.”

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MY DAY: A restful, delightful Wednesday

What a fun day!

I slept in until 8:00 AM, abandoning my typical 6:45 AM alarm from my early-shift days. I fed the dogs, checked some emails, and returned to bed until 10:00 AM. I rose and grabbed a light snack and continued some research on The Barn Gang of Dayton, Ohio.

At Noon, I caught the tail end of Valerie Gugala’s presentation on the life of Mary Lincoln. I would have caught it all but I thought it was to begin at 11:00 AM CST; it was EST! Still, I enjoyed the final 30 minutes.

I took a nap. Now, I don’t know if it was needed or not, but it felt good.

I watered my front yard flowers before heading next door to Mama Kay’s to head to the Neon Movies to see THE DUKE. Along with Mama Kay and me, we had Janice Moore (married to Laura’s dad, John, Ann Jackson, and Anna Sacksteder. We all loved the movie and our dinner at Kettering’s Archer’s restaurant.

Back home, I secured a PVC frame to the westside of the deck on which I hanged two shower curtains to aid in blocking the blinding sun on some evenings.

I’ve enjoyed the remainder of the evening seated at my familiar spot I’ve enjoyed for so many evenings these past eighteen years.

Several students have contacted me to share the news of shows in which they’ve been cast and several sent videos for me to evaluate as they prepare for auditions and upcoming concerts.

It is now 9:00 PM and the darkness has settled over The Miami Valley with a dark pink glow clinging to the last vestige of this Wednesday. I will probably soon head inside to research from bed and eventually give in to the weighted eyelids that are already nudging me for an early bedtime. I use to work until 1:00 AM; since the start of April, I’ve been hitting the pillows around 10:00 PM or 11:00 PM – some nights, even earlier.

I am attaching some photos I took while Mama Kay was driving through downtown Dayton.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Whether you like the weather…

At 7:15 AM, it is already opening into a gorgeous morning and today’s forecast is a high of 83-degrees. The next several days are to reach the mid-80s with the upper 70s following for another several more days.

I don’t mind the hotter weather as I know I have time to spend on the deck and in the yard. I also don’t mind the colder weather. While autumn and winter are not necessarily my favorite seasons, I still cherish the variety, the overlapping, blending colors and scenery, and the opportunity to take photos of the oft-beautiful exchange from one seasonal chapter to another.

I am sure that if I were to check posts on social media, I’d find comments complaining about the impending heat to come. Of course, quite often, the weather complainers are consistent throughout the year. It’s always too cold, too wet, too hot, too humid, too dry, and so on. There’s precious little we can do about the weather. However, we can take measures to make ourselves comfortable. For those of us who are blessed, this is not a difficult response. Sadly, there are some folks who have limited options during weather conditions.

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.” – John Ruskin

I have three upcoming shifts in the next several days and I am trying to calculate when to mow my lawn as we expect a good amount of rain this Saturday. I am also trying to figure out research and writing time around shifts, yard work, and rest.

I am still chuckling from some of the comical scenes from THE DUKE, which I saw yesterday afternoon. I really want to see it again as it was so well written, directed, and performed.

It’s time to shower, prep for the day, and meet Bus No. 17 and 18.

Ahhh… and it is almost time for my iris to bloom. Pati Rogers gave me a ton of bulbs about ten years ago and they are gorgeous!

At the park, the lilac bushes are in full bloom and are gorgeous. Unfortunately, the scent of lilacs ignites an outrage with my allergies and sinuses.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Taking care of Me

There was a time when the phrase “taking care of me“ implied selfishness. When the new enlightenment of the 1980s and 1990s resurrected this phrase, it slowly eked its way into our psyche and conversation with a more positive emphasis.

“Taking care of me“ has often been a struggle because I’ve always kept myself busy with precious little focus on my direct needs. With the RRMS diagnosis in June 2020, the rules of my life‘s game changed a bit. It did not take me long to realize just how much I needed to focus on myself.

With a close family member’s recent diagnosis of RRMS, and discussing my own conditions with her, I’ve begun to readdress my own needs and just how important it is to take care of me. While to most, I appear busy and “on the go,” I’m really not. I do teach at home and work a part time job outside the home, but I spend a good deal of time resting and sleeping. Some personal artistic projects have sadly been placed on hold which I’m hoping will be temporary.

My overall recipe for life has not changed but I’ve had to adjust a number of the ingredients. I tire easily and that is the biggest adjustment for me. Now, my recipe instructions list more maps and resting. Once upon a time, I had wonderful energy reserves and could push myself through the most busy, demanding schedules. Now, a current walk around the block can sometimes feel like a former schedule of three consecutive busy days.

Being in control of one’s life is no one’s responsibility except for the one taking control. It requires choices, both big and small, and following through with those decisions. It can be a bit daunting but it’s a necessity. It requires a determination and a strong positive vision.

While I’m continuing to take care of me, I know how vital it is to keep “make it a great day” as my goal.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Flowers & Rain

I left my 5:00 PM shift, Thursday evening, and meandered over to the brewery for dinner. As I was eating and waiting for the bus to arrive, the downpour began. I’ve not leisurely walked in the rain for a long time and while I was covered in a water-resistant jacket and carrying my water-resistant satchel, it was quite comfortable. There was something therapeutic and calming.

Returning home by 7:00 PM, I knew I had a 45-minute window to plant the pink impatiens I purchased from Fairmont Industries, the next door plant sale that is a fund raising program to assist high school students with special needs. I’ve always purchased the bulk of my annual plantings from Fairmont Industries since 2004 after moving to Shroyer Road in 2003. My bags o’ dirt had arrived from Walmart and I used the side of the porch by the driveway as my planting station. Just as I was wrapping up, the next wave of downpours came through. I was drenched but did not mind. Within a few hours I had enjoyed digging in dirt and walking through rain.

Throughout the night and this morning we had much rain so I know my newly planted impatiens have received a nice drink.

It was a lazy Friday morning, for once, and I took advantage of resting, as did The Quartet. Now, I am off to one of my favorite eateries to relax and enjoy some of my favorite foods. I may even grab a few items from the nearby Walmart before taking the No. 17 bus from one end of town back to my house.

Tomorrow is dinner at Laura’s to celebrate May birthdays and Mother’s Day. I am greatly looking forward to spending time with all the usual Parker-Moore suspects whom I adore.

I am hoping Sunday will be dried out enough to mow the yard and tend to a few other yard items before teaching.

In the meantime, make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Connecting with words and hearts

Thursday, while manning my station, I had the most wonderful experience. A group of eight deaf adults approached my station to have their tickets scanned. As I was scanning each of their tickets I began my introductory dialogue about the adventure they were about to begin.

I quickly discovered they were not holding eye contact. Within a few seconds I discovered they were entirely deaf and had no interpreter.

The lead adult gestured she was deaf and began pointing to the map and opening her hands. At first I thought about writing notes by hand to one another but since I am always using dictation when using my phone I decided to use it and we were off to the races.

I would dictate into my phone, hand it to the lady to read and communicate to the other seven before typing her response.

Several times throughout their visit, one or all returned to ask questions. I’d dictate, hand them my phone to read, they’d type something… and on it went.

Before they left the lead lady came up to thank me and typed “I appreciate you.”

It’s these little things that make life, and connecting with others so damned fantastic.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Monday, off and running

It was a beautiful Sunday and I managed to get the grass cut down to size before teaching from 3:00 PM – 11:15 PM.

Saturday, I had a wonderful time with the collected Parker-Moore contingent, dining and celebrating May birthdays and Mother’s Day. The sky was wet early in on the day and remained fairly overcast; however, the assemblage was all sunshine and laughter.

This Monday morning was stunning at 6:45 AM as the sun burst over the roofs and treetops. The Quartet had some additional deck time and were only eager to come in because they sensed I was ready to depart. With some extra time before Bus No. 17’s arrival, the front yard’s flowers got a healthy watering.

Now, it’s time to begin a four hour shift before returning home to teach from 3:30 PM until 11:15 PM.

Be sure to make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Getting into the groove

Adding an additional chapter to my already full life has been exciting but it has also been a learning curve of adjustments and figuring out how to find my groove with my body’s new investments over the past several years.

Pacing has been the biggest factor in engaging my body, now ever more self-willed and spontaneous, in the new daily routines. “Mind over matter” is an oft repeating mantra for me and I’m fortunate to have discovered this, and several other mental and visual exercises while in junior high school. With a strong mind, I’m capable of preparing my body, redirecting my body, and keeping it moving forward.

I love new adventures but was not expecting the body’s overall health to interfere with my course. Alas, I’m reminded with lessons in patience, flexibility, and focusing on my blessings and being positive. And, I do my damnedest to make it a great day.

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MY DAY: Wednesday is a wrap

The eight hour shifts are a bit daunting being away from home and The Quartet for so long. However, the pups are in capable hands with several members of The Canine Crew attending and loving them.

My station is situated where I get to know many of the volunteers and so many have incredible stories about being raised in Dayton, Ohio. Many had parents who worked for NCR (National Cash Register) and I love hearing them recount their times spent at Old River Park that was a marvelous NCR benefit for the NCR families for many years. A number of volunteers worked for, or had family members who worked for McCall’s!

Then, there are the guests who visit the park. Today, alone, I got to introduce the park’s tremendous exhibits to folks from Arizona, Northern California, Upstate New York, Rhode Island, Montana, Florida, Northern Virginia, and Canada. Some had roots in Dayton while most were visiting The Gem City.

At 5:00 PM, Mama Kay picked me up so we could join her St. Albert church choir members at Marion’s Pizza at 6:00 PM. Before heading to the pizzeria, we took a jaunt to see the former mansion of Governor James Cox who was also the 1920 Democratic presidential candidate with running mate, Franklin Roosevelt.

Dinner with the choir was fun and the food was delicious.

Thursday is another eight-hour shift. Friday is off and of course, it’s a day to be filled with rain showers.

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I’m scheduled today and tomorrow for eight hour shifts. My body is groaning a bit, especially in my legs.

A very close genetically linked family member is now battling the same multiple sclerosis that I have. And while she is adjusting to this new way of life, like me, she has not abandoned her strong sense of humor.

It’s a gray day here in the Miami Valley and it looks as though rain could start dumping on us at any moment.

And be sure to make it a great day!

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: The first chocolate Easter bunny

Exactly fifty-seven years ago, today, April 18, 1965, I was given my first chocolate Easter bunny by my great-grandfather, John William Garrett Clary, commonly known as Garrett, or his familiar nickname in Elwood, Indiana, “Skinny.”

Grandpa Garrett, as you can see from the photograph, was delighted with the messy outcome.

I was fortunate to know Grandpa Garrett for thirty-three years. He was fun, energetic, and not at all like an “old great-grandpa.”

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MY DAY: Booster II & Downtown Dayton

CVS, 9:00 AM, I received my second booster.

Downtown Dayton feels empty. There’s no busy foot traffic and even the normal street traffic seems subdued. It’s much like a quiet Sunday afternoon.

My bus arrived at 8:30 AM and I took advantage of photographing some of my favorite structures against the overcast sky. Is a beautiful, breezy, and chilly morning.

I’ll return home by 10:30 AM to be eagerly greeted by The Quarter and will hopefully get some writing completed while completing laundry. I’ve slept exceptionally well the past several nights, tired from the new events of the day. Hopefully this will all balance out the next week or so.

Here are more photos of downtown Dayton.

Make it a great day.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: My parents’ wedding anniversary

April 4th, 1964, my parents, Diana Kay Barmes and Danny Lee Jolliff, were married at Trinity Evangelical United Brethren Church (to become Trinity United Methodist Church, 1968) in Elwood, Indiana.

Rev. Roush led the ceremony with Dorothea Woods as the organ, and my great aunt, Loris Stack Richardson (married to my father’s uncle, Charles Richardson) was the soloist.

My parents’ attendants were Judy Smith (Hallett), my mother’s cousin, and Sandy Gordon (Tucker), my mother’s best friend, Jan Goodwin and Dick Burnett, were the groomsmen for my father.

My cousin, Bruce Richardson, under the ever watchful eye of his mother, Lois, was the comedian and ring bearer. I cannot recall if there was a flower girl. My mother’s younger brothers were the acolytes, and I believe my uncle, Garry Jolliff, was one of the ushers.

Mother wore a gold watch on a chain necklace that belonged to her great-grandmother, Anna Greenlee Jones.

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MY DAY: A Thursday afternoon nap

Wednesday night, Laura Parker picked me up and we ate at 416 Diner in The Oregon District before we headed to The Neon Movies to watch the brilliantly produced British West End filmed production, ANYTHING GOES, starring Sutton Foster. I’d felt pretty lousy from last Friday until Tuesday night, so this was a much welcome respite from being cooped up in The Haasienda. Plus, I got to chat a few minutes with Joe Deer who was the guest pre-movie presenter – and what a marvelous presentation he offered about the history and fun tidbits of ANYTHING GOES.

Today, I was still a bit pooped after the late evening, and after my weekly Zoom lunch, I turned to find The Quartet snuggling and napping.

Guess who joined them? I have things to do but these four sweethearts are always a priority.

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MY DAY: Celebrating March 25th

My bonus sister, Laura Moore Parker, and I are three months apart – to the day – in age. She was born June 25th and I was born on September 25th. I suggested we celebrate her 9th month birthday and my half-year birthday this evening.

Instead of trekking it to a local restaurant, she suggested she fix dinner before we watched the 2021 WEST SIDE STORY. Perfect! Laura made the best meatloaf. I don’t get excited over meatloaf as it tends to always be a bit too spicy for me. However, hers was just right. And, we had a baked potato with the meatloaf and my dessert/treat was from Bill’s Donuts.

It was the best evening. Delicious food, a great movie, and so relaxing.

Saturday is an all-day indoor percussion contest at Trent Arena (next door) and a musical.

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MY DAY: A walk through Lincoln Park

I took a 45 minute walk today and had I not run into a number of dogs walking their owners, I probably could have made it all around the Fraze Pavilion. Alas, I needed to return home to eat lunch before teaching.

The first two photographs Arab a plant cell being held by one of my nephews about 10 years ago. Mother bought me several sets of starters which I planted in the front yard. Each year, they are generally the first flowers to greet the spring.

It’s nearing 3:00 PM and almost time to teach my first Sunday student. My 2:00 PM is on Spring break, as are several throughout the evening. If the later ones can move forward I might be finished teaching by 10:00 PM instead of midnight.

Here’s to the start of a busy week ahead.

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MY DAY: Family & Carillon Park

My endocrinology appointment was scheduled for Friday morning, March 18th at 10:00 AM but yesterday afternoon their office called and asked if I might be free at 8:00 AM. A few minutes later my sister texted to check on my availability as the twins were on spring break.

And so by 11:00 AM I was hugging my sister and three of her four children for the first time since August 4, 2020. I got to spend time with Dena, Jonathan, 23, James, 12, and Kaytlinn, 12. Before they left at 7:30 PM, we did speak with her son, Andrew, 22, on the phone.

We lunched at Elsa’s in Centerville and then spent three hours at Carillon Park, learning and laughing.

The schoolhouse, transportation center, and Wright Brothers’ cycle shop had some of the best guides, and I’ve never been let down by a Carillon Park guide. These three individuals were outstanding with the twelve year old twins and truly made our visit much more enjoyable and educational.

We spent some time looking through family photos and then they left The Haasienda to return to Indiana.

What a fantastic day all around.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Dear Evan Hansen

Last Wednesday afternoon, former studio parents and friends, Dee and Terry Friesenborg contacted me to see if I could use their season tickets as Terry was ill with a stomach bug. At 5:00 PM, Laura and I were heading to Archers Tavern in Kettering and then off to The Schuster Center.

I had been interested in seeing the show because I have loved several of the songs for years. I was never truly clear on how the storyline actually went. I am not a true fan of some of the musicals along this line but this particular show seemed to grab me.

DEAR EVAN HANSEN was outstanding, invigorating, inspiring, and encouraging in so many ways.

Thank you, Terry and Dee for the opportunity to see this magnificent show, and thank you, Laura, for dinner!

“You Will Be Found” (by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul)

Have you ever felt like nobody was there?
Have you ever felt forgotten in the middle of nowhere?
Have you ever felt like you could disappear?
Like you could fall, and no one would hear?

Well, let that lonely feeling wash away
Maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay
‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand
You can reach, reach out your hand

And oh, someone will coming running
And I know, they’ll take you home

Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
And when you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
Lift your head and look around
You will be found
There’s a place where we don’t have to feel unknown
And every time that you call out
You’re a little less alone
If you only say the word
From across the silence your voice is heard

Share it with the people you love
Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found (You will be found)
You will be found (You will be found)
You will be found

Out of the shadows
The morning is breaking
And all is new, all is new
It’s filling up the empty
And suddenly I see that
All is new, all is new

You are not alone
You are not alone
You are not alone
You are not alone
You are not alone (You are not alone)
You are not alone (You are not alone)
You are not
You are not alone (You are not alone)

Even when the dark comes crashin’ through
When you need someone to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found!
So when the sun comes streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Great-aunt Bonnie Barmes

BONNIE REDMOND BARMES: 12 October 1944 – 27 February 2022

It was around 2:30 PM on a warm Saturday, 27 June 1992. I had just bid farewell to my grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes, who died of colon cancer in an Indianapolis hospital. I took the stairwell, two floors up, to let my grandmother’s sister-in-law, Bonnie Barmes, know that Grandma had passed away at 2:15 PM.

Aunt Bonnie had married my great-uncle, Danny Barmes when I was three years old. I still recall their wedding at the Markleville (Indiana) United Methodist Church and the reception held next door at the parsonage. Uncle Danny has always seemed more of a regular uncle rather than a great-uncle as he was only nine months older than his niece, my mother, Diana Barmes (Jolliff Haas). Danny’s second niece, Judy Smith (Hallett) was born a month after Mother. I’ve always loved this special arrangement of nieces and their uncle who was so close in age.

Aunt Bonnie began her long 40+ year battle with cancer when I was in junior high or high school. In all those years, when we would steal away a moment from the crowd to chat, there was never any mention of cancer. She was a busy woman and had her mind on other things. When Grandma Donna passed away that June afternoon, Aunt Bonnie was in the same hospital for a bone marrow transplant. I stepped into the preparation room to don my gown, gloves, mask, and slippers before walking through the mist to disinfect anything dangerous I may have brought with me.

Aunt Bonnie looked up, smiled, and said, “I know she’s gone.” I figured my presence was the alert. No. She had watched the television station that listed the hospital’s admissions. “I kept watching the screen and about 2:20 (PM) Donna’s name wasn’t on the list when it rolled back around.” Also, the hospital staff had prepped Aunt Bonnie to take her downstairs in the middle of the night so she could bid farewell to her sister-in-law.

This entire scenario was just so “Aunt Bonnie.” Practical.

When I began adopting, Aunt Bonnie’s Ball State University social work degrees (BS and Masters) were generously applied in giving tips on how to handle “damaged goods.” She was also of great assistance to my sister whose eldest son developed Autism.

I am now down to only one great-uncle, Uncle Danny Joe, surviving. I was so blessed with many wonderful folks as uncles and aunts, and down to three additional generations of uncles and aunts who were siblings of my grandparents, great-grandparents, and great-great-grandparents. That’s a lot of family history, history of life as they shared it, and tons of love.

The warrior aunt, seemingly fearless of that hideous disease, can now rest, hopefully knowing what a true model of being a good servant she demonstrated for family and friends.

Sending much love to Uncle Danny, Dana, Dan, Dama Jo, spouse-cousins, and cousin-children.

Know you are loved…

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MY DAY: The Pomodoro Technique

When I was younger, I struggled with keeping my attention sewn to the task at hand. Most children combat such attempts but in the 1960s and 1970s, this was not addressed as much as they are now with those who battle ADD/ADHD.

Mother encouraged me to break things down into “chunks” of time spent on the task at hand and then, “walk away.” This became a great tool with piano lessons as the music became more difficult. Mother and Mrs. Catherine “Kitty” Rutledge, both mine and Mother’s piano teacher worked with me on breaking my music into chunks by working a few measures, a line, or several lines at a time. Once it was mastered, I would move on to the next section.

Away from the piano bench, working in smaller chunks and taking a few minutes away worked wonders. Or, if I got to a point where something was a struggle, I can still hear Mother’s voice, “Leave it alone for a while.” She also believed that instead of sitting through a stack of homework until it was all accomplished, she encouraged me to complete an assignment and then take a ten to fifteen-minute break.

A typical morning routine for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday might be:

  • 08:30 AM – blog or free writing
  • 09:00 AM – 09:40 AM – research
  • 09:40 AM – 10:10 AM – write
  • 10:10 AM – 10:20 AM – break
  • 10:20 AM – 10:50 AM – research
  • 10:50 AM – 11:20 AM – write
  • 11:20 AM – 12:00 PM – research
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch, relax nap
  • 02:00 PM – begin the teaching day

I know this might seem cumbersome for those who like to plow through their projects but this system or process works beautifully for me. However, I can also push this schedule aside when I know I must keep going. Research often (well, always!) takes me down numerous rabbit holes and I can get lost in the moment quite easily.

I learned, tonight, that this process is called The Pomodoro Technique and is described as mastering your time by:

  • Choose your task and total time to work on it
  • Set a timer to 25 minutes (either with an egg timer or with an app)
  • Work on the task for 25 minutes
  • Take a 5-minute break for energy renewal, start another Pomodoro
  • Take a 20-30 minute break after completing four Pomodoros

What has been a huge help to me is having Erma at The Haasienda as she often comes over to visit me every twenty to thirty minutes while I am working.

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