THE FAMILY ALBUM: Remembering my dads and bonus dads

It’s Father’s Day weekend.

Thursday, I was celebrated by my son and his partner with a wonderful gift which is a trip to Springfield, Illinois in July for one of my favorite historical events.

It’s my turn to celebrate those who took an active role in my life.

Photo No. 1: Clockwise – my birth father, Danny Lee Jolliff (1942-1983); my adoptive dad, David Lewis Haas (1942-2020); my paternal uncle, Garry Dean Jolliff (1944-2002); and my maternal grandfather, Leroy “Red” Barmes (1921-2004).

Photo No. 2: Uncle Garry Photo No. 3: Uncle Garry & Aunt Jenny

Photo No. 4: My maternal uncle, Ronald Dean Barmes, who was twelve years older than me and a bonus big brother. This is a photo taken with Uncle Ron and me in 1965.

Photo No. 5: Grandpa Leroy and me; December 1964

Photo No. 6: Grandpa Leroy and me; Summer 1965

Photo No. 7: Grandpa Leroy and me; 1966

Photo No. 8: Grandpa Leroy and me; 1967

Photo No. 9: Uncle Ron holding my sister, Dena, and me holding my brother, Destin; May 1975

Danny Jolliff really was a wonderful father until the alcohol imprisoned him. From him, I learned the deep rooted love for US history, a passion for music (co-cheered by Mother), tenderness and gentleness, humor, and gentlemanly courtesies. Thank you…

David Haas continued my passions for history and music, seldom missing concerts I was in or conducting. He even sat through the musicals. He counter-balanced the tenderness and gentleness with backbone and grit – “don’t piss with me.” Mine and Dad’s humor aligned perfectly and he gave me his surname which I value… and often have to explain how I ended up with a hyphenated last name before it was “the thing.” Thank you, Dad…

Grandpa Leroy was much like Alice Roosevelt describing her father, Theodore Roosevelt: “He wanted to be the bride at every wedding and the baby at every christening.” He was larger than life and like his father, my Grandpa Virgil, told the funniest, most marvelous stories. I learned many valuable lessons from this man. I was The Boss and I cherished the nickname, “Honkin.” Thank you, Papaw…

Uncle Richard Jolliffe… rifles and flags, up; band at attention; march on, Dear Fellow. Thank you, Uncle Dick…

Both my uncles served in the military: Uncle Garry was in the US Army, serving in Vietnam and Uncle Ron was in the US Navy. Both uncles shared the middle name, Dean. Both uncles cheered my passion for music and history. I miss them, both, and wish my sons could have known these great-uncles who had such an impact on my life. Thank you, Uncle Garry and Uncle Ron…

As of November 2020, these five men have died but they left wonderful sparks of themselves and their love burning inside me.

There are several other men who had a wonderful influence on my life: my Little League Baseball coach, Dennis Elledge; my neighbors who were high school teachers, Don Fortner and Dick Herndon; my high school principal, Gordon Paquin; my college choral conductor, Doug Amman; and so many bonus-uncles from The Elwood Police Department. Thank you, Gentlemen…

Happy Father’s Day… Know you are loved…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: When it rains…

My second round of coffee was at 8:15 AM on the deck after feeding The Quartet and the breeze smelled and felt like rain.

By 8:45 AM, the dark clouds had moved in over The Miami Valley and the atmosphere captured a menacing effect. My Instacart order arrived at 10:35 AM and within five minutes the clouds opened up. Right now, at 11:03 AM, the thunder is rumbling in the distance., getting closer and sending the pooches into high alert mode.

I had resigned myself to forgoing any adventures on my Friday Fun Day. I could still head out into the rain, but I am not keen on being out with storms.

I am still on a high from my Father’s Day gift of a trip to Springfield, Illinois this July. I’ve not been to this event since 2015; last year was all via Zoom due to the pandemic and I thought it was executed beautifully.

On with my day, listening to the rain and thunder while researching and reassuring the pooches.

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Watching some one change…

This meme crossed my feed today and it really hit home.

I watched the two men closest to me go from vibrant, incredible individuals to sad, almost unrecognizable echoes of their former selves.

My father and my brother were imprisoned by alcoholism. I personally observed both declines. Tragic.

My sister and I escaped the genetic trigger, somehow. I am certain, that had we each allowed ourselves to drink more, our stories might have been different. Thankfully, we elected to travel different paths.

Alcoholism travels back, to my knowledge, to our great-grandfather on the Jolliffe side; it’s captured four generations.

I’ve often wondered why some of us were tagged and others were not. I think choices had a good deal to do with it. I hope and pray four generations is enough.

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O, FOR HISTORY: Monticello influences

July 1974, I visited Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello for the very first time and many things stayed with me through the next twenty years until my next visit.

Two things were highlighted in my memory:

1. The wall hangings suspended by a wire to an overhead rod

2. The front entrance hall as a museum or an introduction to Mr. Jefferson’s world.

I applied the wall hangings with current rods and kept this format for many years. It was tedious to create but aided in the use of less nails and holes in the thick plaster walls.

My front room, more like a waiting room during the private teaching hours, is an introduction to my world of Lincoln, Mother, The White House, Presidents and First Ladies, family, and photography.

My study is a grand mixture of music, theatre, writing, and more history. It’s my sanctuary.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: WTF and more

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Skateboarders

I have read this article before and it still continues to touch me.

My one son was a skateboarder. I was unfamiliar with this sport and was a bit apprehensive the first time I took Quinny to the Kettering skate park, designed by pro-skater Rob Dyrdek, a native of Kettering.

After fifteen minutes, I was just as touched and as comfortable as the mom in this article. Skaters came up to greet “the new kid” and he was soon skating with them, often taking turns to encourage and discuss things. There was always a wrench nearby that someone brought for anyone who needed quick touch-up repairs.

Our second trip to the skate park, I smiled as I watched my son take time to greet others. I have great respect for those teens and non-teens at the skate park.

ARTICLE….

“Dear teenage boy at the skate park:

You’re probably about 15 years-old, so I don’t expect you to be very mature or for you to want a little girl on your skate ramp for that matter.

What you don’t know is that my daughter has been wanting to skateboard for months. I actually had to convince her that skateboarding wasn’t just for boys.

So when we walked up to the skate park and saw that it was full of teenage boys, she immediately wanted to turn around and go home.

I secretly wanted to go too because I didn’t want to have to put on my mom voice and exchange words with you.

I also didn’t want my daughter to feel like she had to be scared of anyone, or that she wasn’t entitled to that skate park just as much as you were.

So when she said, “Mom it’s full of older boys,” I calmly said, “So what, they don’t own the skate park.”

She proceeded to go down the ramp in spite of you and your friends flying past her and grinding rails beside her.

She only had two or three runs in before you approached her and said “Hey, excuse me…”

I immediately prepared to deliver my “She’s allowed to use this park just as much as you guys” speech when I heard you say, “Your feet are wrong. Can I help you?”

You proceeded to spend almost an hour with my daughter showing her how to balance and steer, and she listened to you – a feat not attained by most adults.

You held her hand and helped her get up when she fell down and I even heard you tell her to stay away from the rails so that she wouldn’t get hurt.

I want you to know that I am proud that you are part of my community, and I want to thank you for being kind to my daughter.

She left the skate park with a sense of pride and with the confidence that she can do anything, because of you.”

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Wonderful Wednesday

“I’m as corny as Kansas in August,
I’m as normal as blueberry pie.
No more a smart little girl with no heart,
I have found me a wonderful SKY!
I am in a conventional dither,
With a conventional star in my eye.
And you will note there’s a lump in my throat
When I speak of that wonderful SKY!”

There’s nothing like a perky set of Oscar Hammerstein II’s lyrics to kick off the morning. Actually, I altered “guy” for “SKY” because typing in “Wonderful Wednesday” tripped the song-wire in my brain.

It’s 64-degrees. The sky is as blue as a blueberry pie and… Stop it, Darin! These folks get the fact that the morning feels like every Hammerstein description and that there are even elephants over in the cornfield so you can gauge the height of the stalks.

Good grief! Just say, “make it a great day” and be on with it.

Yes. Okay. So, make it a…

“When you’re down and out
Lift up your head and shout
There’s gonna be a great day…”

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MY DAY: Where did Saturday go?

When I rose at 8:10 AM, I only fed the dogs and opened the deck door for them to come and go; no coffee was made and there were no attempts to fully dive into the day; the body was not cooperating.

Save for a few bathroom breaks, I remained in bed until 2:00 PM, nursing the tummy ache and a menacing sinus headache. A sinus flush and a few over-the-counter medications relieved neither aggravators. But, I had audio books and documentaries playing continually, so whether I had fallen asleep or was barely cognizant, I had my mind stirred with interesting stuff.

I listened to several interviews with Supreme Court Justices, Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Antonin Scalia. Their intellectual challenging and light hearted banter are so cheering for me. I wish there were more interviews forthcoming.

The deck is humid and slightly uncomfortable. The cicadas are having parties in the backyard’s bushes and the lilac bush seems to be a favorite hub for the buzz. Their buzz ebbs and flows in its intensity, crescendoing and decresendoing.

TWENTY- MINUTE BREAK: mowed the backyard

As I sat her typing, I was growing ever more uncomfortable with the grass’ length in the backyard as it grows quickly. I feared if I couldn’t get to it by Noon, tomorrow, Sunday, it would be a bear to mow. The front yard seems to be in fine shape.

Done, and I feel quite relieved.

As I was mowing, a cicada landed on my neck. I could actually hear, up close, it’s solo voice. I stopped mowing, turned off the mower, and listened. Its song is short-lived. Before long, the cicada voices will be silenced for another seventeen years. I hope I am afforded another seventeen years to cheer on their awakening. Hell, double that to thirty-four years; I will be ninety years old. As long as I am not a burden to anyone but myself, I welcome that age.

I had hoped to see a student in their school production but when I called the school for tickets the response was a buzz. After several attempts, I sent the school office an email but received no response. I tried to acquire tickets for today’s matinee or evening production with no success. Grrrr….

On with the evening. Now that my body is infused with a bit more energy from mowing, I am hoping to accomplish some writing amongst the sounds of documentaries, possibly even IN THE HEIGHTS, again, and Nature’s chorus of cicadas and birds.

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MY DAY: Living my life over… Erma’s thoughts

My Aunt Jenny posted this beautiful Erma Bombeck passage and I thought it was a perfect day to share it, too.

IF I HAD MY LIFE TO LIVE OVER
by Erma Bombeck


I would have talked less and listened more.I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.

I would have eaten the popcorn in the ‘good’ living room and
worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the
fireplace.

I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.

I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day
because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.

I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it
melted in storage.

I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about
grass stains.

I would have cried and laughed less while watching television
-and more while watching life.

I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.

I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the
earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren’t there for the day.

I would never have bought anything just because it was practical,
wouldn’t show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.

Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I’d have cherished
every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the
only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, “Later. Now
go get washed up for dinner.”

There would have been more “I love you’s”.. More “I’m sorrys” …
but mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…
look at it and really see it … live it…and never give it back.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Round Young Virgil, mother and child

Today is the birthday of my maternal great grandfather, Virgil Barmes, who was born in 1902.

I was born in 1964 so I was fortunate to know Grandpa Virgil for seven years before he passed away in September, 1971. I recall little as I was not around him as much as my other great-grandfather, Garrett Clary who lived six blocks away.

What I do recall was a man who loved to laugh a lot, and a man who prided himself in being the master of some of the best, cleverest practical jokes, most of which could be a single blog entry, each.

One thing I do remember is the glint he would get in his eyes when the people around him were laughing. Mostly, he had made them laugh. To me, that is a gift! Grandpa Virgil had that gift.

As a very young child for several Christmases, I would approach my Grandma Donna’s nativity scene and identify all the main characters. “Baby Jesus. Mother Mary. Grandpa Virgil.”

The Joseph figurine had slightly red hair and the family believed that’s why I renamed him Virgil. However, Grandpa Virgil’s hair had been white since my arrival; I never knew him as anything but white haired. Besides, his son, my Grandpa Leroy was red headed and called “Red.”

“Silent Night” answered that question. “Round young Virgil, mother and child” were the words the family heard me belting out.

Still, today, in my 52 year nativity scene that Mother gave me when I was five, the Joseph figurine is called “Virgil.”

Happy birthday, Grandpa Virgil. I wish I could have known you longer on this side of life, but I shall always be grateful how you showed your world of family and friends how to make it a great day with laughter! Continue to rest in practical-jokes!

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MY DAY: Sunday evening on the deck

I could not request nor demand better temperatures or breezes for the deck.

I finished private lessons an hour early due to two of my Colorado students battling colds. Their Ohio cousins must have shared their colds with them during their recent visit.

I just noticed the silence. There are no cicadas sawing away with their non-stop drone. A few birds are sounding off in the distance and the wind chimes are occasionally knocking into one another.

I had tinkered around with the idea of going to Springfield, Illinois for the Mary Lincoln gathering but I just cannot wrap my mind around all that would need to be accomplished for me to make it a 100% success for myself. I know I would thoroughly enjoy being with the gang of historians, but my personal freedom of traveling about on a whim is strangling. The events will be Zoomed so I do have that.

I am still in awe of this ridiculously wonderful atmosphere on the deck. I managed to accomplish several tasks, earlier today, so after teaching, this feels like a reward.

Now, over to my chaise lounge to listen to a documentary on History Channel about foods that changed the nation. Right now, it’s about Coca Cola!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Sunday at home is still a bully time!

Isn’t this such a fun photograph of President Theodore Roosevelt? That is one fellow who understood how to make every day a bully great day!

In 90 minutes, I managed to fold a basket of laundry, put some throw rugs in the wash, load the dish washer and clean the kitchen (okay, I looked around and did the Samantha nose wiggle… major fail), and swept the entire first floor.

I threw kibble in their bowls, opened the back door to the deck, and threw myself back into my bed. By 10:30 AM, the legs were feeling more manageable and most of all, cooperative. My Instacart delivery should be here within the next 15 minutes, or so, and private teaching doesn’t commence for several more hours.

That should pace my day, nicely.

I am in my air-conditioned study, steering clear of the 85-degrees temperature. The humidity, thank heavens, has dropped to 61%, soon to be 48%, and rising back to the 60s and 80s throughout the morning. Tomorrow takes up back to 80-degrees and the remainder of the week will see us through the upper 70s which I find ideal.

I just received notification that my groceries should arrive by 12:50 PM, eight minutes from now. That gives me time to bring the throw rugs up to the clothes line that runs across the deck for my convenience, and start the dishwasher.

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Friday evening

Today was a complete waste of time I could have been writing, or doing the other 20+ items I need to address.

Three attempts to rise and ready myself for a Friday Fun Day we’re aborted. Instead, I remained in bed watching documentaries with Bart Ehrman, US History, and another dash through IN THE HEIGHTS. I don’t really feel I wasted much as I was still learning new things. To me, that’s critical.

The deck, at 10:30 PM, is comfortable yet humid with no air moving. A single cicada belches its greetings, perched on the Rose of Sharon bush beside the deck. The sky has been a wondrous display of large dramatic clouds.

I’m listening to a Ruth Bader Ginsberg audio book, IN MY OWN WORDS. Inspiring.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Finding balances (and watching out for the big paw if you’re a cicada on the deck!)

I need to brush Chief and Erma. I need to sweep the lower floor. I need to organize and clean the upstairs bedroom. I need to clean the carpet. I need to mow (already). I need to put the dishes into the dishwasher. I need to clear out empty boxes from the basement to set out and note on Craig’s List there are free packing boxes. I need…

I am needing to simply enjoy my second cup of coffee for the morning and to stop worrying about what needs done for the moment.

Right now, as my London son pointed out about an hour ago, I need to sit and relax. I feel I do a lot of that already. I love to relax but for me, relaxation is not so easily scattered amongst my tasks. It never has been. In my mind, relaxing has been my reward for accomplishing tasks, and not as an accompaniment to the tasks.

My mother was that way until she got older. Now, in my mind, Mother “being older” meant a year before she passed in 2019. Actually, Mother’s “being older” was in her late fifties. I’m 56, nearing 57.

With her, the daily list of things to do was all or nothing. If, on her list, there was a room to be painted and it was already 6:00 PM, the room would be painted. It might conclude by 2:00 AM with getting the room back into semi-order, but it was definitely completed. There was no moving the task to the following day.

And she may have not eaten all day, skipping lunch and supper. She was not a breakfast person. Not am I.

My sister, Dena, and I definitely inherited this component from our mother. Our younger brother, Destin, did not. He was more like Tom Sawyer collecting folks and delegating. He worked, but he was more the foreman cheering on the workers.

Let me rephrase that, “he worked where he needed his full attention.” If it were a crossword puzzle in Mrs. Diana Garner’s Latin class at Elwood Community High School, he employed the fellow student on his left to do up/down while he worked those boxes for across. The fellow student on the right received the opposite instructions. Destin’s personal work involved getting his coworkers’ letters into the boxes on his page. Incredible.

I had an event Wednesday night that I thoroughly enjoyed but I needed all of Thursday for regaining energy. I’m now at that stage in life where pacing is important, possibly crucial.

Puberty in our teen years is not the completion of our changing bodies. It often seems like it is to us when we are in our youth but the changes continue. The learning continues. Just when we believe we’ve got it all figured out, the next wave of adult puberty envelops us. It’s back to the drawing board of learning.

While some physical changes are not in sync with the mental and emotional, it’s often a time for catch-up as the body rebalances itself, naturally or as commanded. I know I am lucky and greatly blessed to be mindful of my own body’s progression or in some cases, recession. For some folks, the aging or illness arenas are too great; they cash in their chips too early and simply wait it out.

I was guided by my parents to “be aware” of the world around me and of my self. When things were not in balance, they guided me to adjust things: rearrange, toss out what is no longer necessary, “add to” when needed without upsetting the balance. A few times throughout my adult life I’ve recognized that I needed to clear the entire spinning Lazy Susan platter and spin again. Sometimes, I just spun the revolving platter so hard that things simply flew off.

So, I was just now photographing a cicada walking across the deck. I find them fascinating and beautiful. This particular one was moving in my direction so I could zoom in on its wings.

It disappeared…

…beneath Chief’s big, heavy, fat paw.

I wondered if it survived as he stood without moving for at least thirty seconds, waiting for my arm to extend for some petting. I wanted to see the cicada’s results so I withheld petting.

When allowed to see the light of day, again, the tromped cicada shook its wings open, fluttered a bit, and continued walking across the deck.

That’s it. That’s what we need to do when we feel as though we’ve been tromped on: shake our wings, flutter, readjust, refocus, and move on.

And make it a great day.

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MY DAY: Dealing with MS Cog Fog

Fortunately, I have not fully dealt with “cog fog” as much as so many other multiple sclerosis folks, but I’ve also figured out some techniques to combat it.


When I was pretty young, my parents noticed I would be speaking and suddenly halt mid-sentence. I would get a blank look across my face as I battled to recall where I was heading with my story.


Mother was concerned enough that she took me to our family doctor, believing I had a neurological issue. Dr. Wirth assured Mother that my brain was moving at a much higher rate of speed than my mouth (that part is so laughable!).


When I would get to a mid-sentence halt, Mother would say, “I’ll wait.” She wanted me to learn to get back on course without her, or anyone else, feeding me the next word(s) or what they assumed I was trying to say.


Through high school, college, early teaching years, it was fairly mastered but I still rammed into walls occasionally, becoming embarrassed that I would forget where I was in my story.
Sometimes, others would make fun of me. I took it with accepted humor but it was still embarrassing. However, I have had wonderful friends who know when I want to get through a story I am excited to share who will fill in my words so I can keep going without missing a beat. It’s really and truly a fun collaboration! (Amy Kress gets the Big Gold Star!)


In 2018, I went to see the documentary, RBG, about Ruth Bader Ginsberg. I knew precious little about the supreme court justice and I found her story intriguing. More so, I found her speech pattern quite interesting.


Justice Ginsberg was very methodical. Through observing her, I realized that I did not need to be a speed-demon rushing to get out a thought. As a teacher and director, I had always had the attention focused on what I was saying, but time always seemed to be a critical factor. Justice Ginsberg captivated me and soon became my role model in many ways, but particularly with my speech pattern and rhythm.

Yes, there are certain things I am ready with the answer. But, after a few sentences, I become revved up and begin pushing faster with my speech and then… the crash. Justice Ginsberg took the time to think, piece together, and then share, maintaining a steady tempo throughout her sentences.

I went back to see RBG at Dayton’s Neon Movies a total of seven times. I was always invigorated with her energy and wit. Plus, she and Justice Antonin Scalia were devout opera and classical musical devotees! I adore, still, watching videos of them together: their friendship and ability to work together is inspiring and quite touching.

I would leave the theater talking to myself, practicing a slower speaking tempo. After a few weeks, I noticed a difference. I incorporate more breathing and a stronger sense of pacing my speech.

The only problem is, since this is a relatively new way of speaking, a number of folks believe it is due to the RRMS. It is not. It is wholly me.

I have had issues with Cog Fog. Ironically, it’s never interrupted me while teaching. However, whenever I sit down to research or write, I become enveloped in a mental haze that begins weighing me down.

I tried more coffee, exercise, protein, etc.. Nothing. I felt even more weighed down.

A few weeks ago, I set out to tackle this dilemma. When I realized that teaching was keeping the Cog Fog at bay, what was I doing in teaching that I wasn’t in writing or researching?

I was in the process of looking for programs that would allow me to write things out by hand and turn them into Microsoft Word text. While researching the various programs and asking for assistance on social media, my cousin, Eric Hallett hit the nail on the head when weighing in on Optical Character Recognition (OCR) programs. “OCR is a pain when I’ve worked with it. Speech to text software is a better option if circumstances can make that work, in my experience.”

There it was: speaking! Teaching requires me to speak a lot. Writing does not. Yes, there are those who say you should read aloud what you write but that’s never been a great tool. Instead, I use my phone or other programs to have my writing spoken aloud for me so I can listen. But, Eric changed my entire course of action: I needed to use my regular Speech To Text programs and not an OCR program.

Fortunately, as I began searching in that direction I discovered Microsoft Word has a built-in Speech To Text program that works marvelously. Now, I spend more time speaking into my microphone so that my words are recorded on the written page. So far, I’ve not experienced the Cog Fog and can manage to move ahead with greater focus.

There are times when I do shed my coat of courage and my telescope of visionary and positive thinking. I kick myself for giving into brief stages of feeling low, but they do serve as stepping stones back to my path or maybe on to a newer path where I need to be.

Researching, Searching. Discovering. Learning. Planning. Doing.

We must never abandon a passion for learning; learning about ourselves and especially, the world around us. Keep on task!

I have dictated this entire blog entry through Microsoft Word and there was only one word missed by the program! Win!

For those who may not be familiar with MS Cog Fog, this is a fantastic article by Kathy Reagan Young who is the founder of the off-center, slightly off-color website and podcast at FUMSnow.com.

“What MS Cog Fog Feels Like and How to Cope” from HEALTHLINE.

https://www.healthline.com/health/ms/how-to-cope-with-ms-cog-fog?fbclid=IwAR19bIU4KlbzFXuxxa2HSqim87eq70uJzxZjb1dVJ4IkmIxr9AOY8VRz3Fo

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Thursday rolling’ down the pike

It’s overcast and cloudy but the breeze feels fantastic and the wind chimes are noisily dancing against the chirping of our loudest and proudest cardinal.

Nothing on today’s docket except lunch which is now concluded. I’m feeling a bit tired and slightly foggy headed this afternoon and am hoping my fresh cup of coffee will clear it up. I also feel sinus pressure due to the weather conditions.

Once the humidity cleared last night, the bedroom was so comfortable with a cool breeze accompanying the fan. I almost always keep the fan going as Harrigan and Bailey snuggling against me tends to keep me on the warm side.

I’m off to retrieve my laptop from my study, raise the deck table’s umbrella, and talk into my microphone to relive 1904, for the moment. Soon, I will “visit” the St. Louis 1904 World’s Fair.

Wherever your day’s travels or adventures take you, make it a great day.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Enjoying IN THE HEIGHTS ON HBOMax

It’s here!

I’ve been secretly waiting for this release as I’ve come to enjoy this production that I’ve seen on tour and at The Dayton Muse Machine in which several of my students were featured.

Lin Manuel Miranda just amazes me.

I made it to about ten minutes before the power outage and stopped to deal with lower tummy agony. I was losing attention and will hopefully finish it tomorrow.

So far, I’m truly enjoying the vehicle.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Karen Carpenter morning

Rainy days + Mondays = cue a Karen Carpenter oldie.

It’s raining. The room is dark, save the nightlight. Even before the rain, the room never lightened.

The Quartet pottied prior to the rain’s arrival as The Sisters and Erma will not brave the wet unless it is their only option. Chief, well, as long as he can hike a leg, he’ll brave any conditions.

Sleep was okay; a few stretches of leg and foot pain but more rest than usual.

The rain looks to be with us all week, a long stretch of no deck time that I do not appreciate. I do have a great wide umbrella but that’s always a worry should the wind pick up. I don’t need a Mary Poppins moment to see the neighborhood from up high. I’ll rely on a camera on a drone.

Here’s to a somber morning of working with a dark soggy world beyond my study’s windows.

Make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Cicadas & STAR TREK

For once, I actually noticed the sound of the cicada chorus without needing to pause, listen, and identify.

As I entered the deck to drink coffee and chat with The Boys in London, and David’s parents in Boston, they all remarked how loud the cicadas were.

Yes, they were loud. But, I remained on the deck and did not collect any complaints from my fellow Sunday morning ZoomMates.

Oddly, to me, it sounded like a STAR TREK episode where their laser guns jammed in fire-only position. Now, I would have only known this due to a Smithsonian channel documentary on “The Making of STAR TREK” that aired several times on Pluto.

Living next to a terrifically huge high school campus that has had its share of remodeling, rebuilding, and altogether new construction the past eighteen years since I’ve lived at The Haasienda on Shroyer, I am so accustomed to lots of sound. Construction. Traffic. School Activities. Fraze Pavilion and Lincoln Park activities. General foot traffic. School buses arriving, unloading, leaving. School buses arriving, loading, and leaving. Teachers and staff coming and going. And, pre-Pandemic, my own household-studio traffic coming and going. These sounds, mixed with the occasional chorus of barking from my pooches is my world of sound.

“It’s only natural I don’t readily notice the cicadas, as unique their sound is,” I explain countless times to those who just don’t believe I don’t go nuts listening to them.

Picture this: a music building on a college campus. You walk down any given floor’s hall to find a door that leads into a small hallway that resembles a subdivision cul de sac. There are two doors to practice rooms on each side of the tiny hallway, and one at the end. Five (5) small practice rooms. These rooms are generally filled with students practicing any instrument.

It gets loud.

Very, very loud.

Now, do keep in mind that there may be, on either side of this collection of practice rooms, more practice rooms. It gets to be even louder. Some students can handle the noice, others cannot.

I was one who didn’t mind the noise. I was kind of like the subject in the ever-delightful Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan song, “The Girl In 14G” who is bombarded with classical and jazz music from floors 13 and 15.

I was blessed with a blonde brain that can handle multiple sounds invading my work space. In fact, except for teaching, I love having surround sound while I am working on research, writing, or simply reading. I even go to sleep with sound: a documentary of lesser interest, a previously viewed television show, etc.

What I do find interesting is that the sound is not troubling to the pooches’ ears. Chief bellows at the sound of “The Addams Family” theme song. In fact, any similar triplet pattern perks his ears to a periscope position, putting him on high-alert. Any midi-instrument from the computer is immediately followed by his cries, often joined by The Sisters who give it the impression of a poorly 1970s self-produced music or ministry program where the singers tried their very best.

So, this morning, all I can imagine is my yard filled with the original cast of the 1960s STAR TREK and their laser guns are jammed.

I hope those who are struggling with the invasive cicada sounds an still manage to make it a great day.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Saturday… wait, Sunday… no, it’s Saturday

When Mother retired from the police department, I heard her ask, more than ever, “What day is this? I get so confused on what day it is.”

Now, I’m my mother.

It doesn’t even have to be for my breaks that I confuse the days of the week; Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, my three regular week days off, hurl me into a frantic tailspin hoping it’s not already Sunday and time to teach, again.

Today, it doesn’t matter the day’s name nor the order it follows. It’s beautiful with a tiny breeze bouncing around leaves and chimes, the smell of still-wet-ground from the heavy rains, the squirrels pissing with Bailey and Harrigan, disrupting their reclining positions for the big chase every four minutes, and the various pitches and rhythmic hums of cicadas.

For several weeks, this one humming sound I thought was coming from the high school; however, I’m realizing this morning that it’s cicadas in the distance and not some type of machine. There is one slightly muffled sound from across Shroyer Road, the one in the distance that I just discovered as cicadas, a set in the easement between my yard and the high school’s campus, and individual soloists scattered here and there around the backyard. And, the birds are piping loudly to create an additional layer of sound to this morning symphony.

It’s fascinatingly beautiful. I know that for some folks, it’s irritating. For me, it’s a one in seventeen years concert. I’ve enjoyed two while living on Shroyer Road, this June marking my 18th year.

Eighteen years? I lived in the home on 825 Main Street for a month shy of nineteen years before heading off to Ball State University (1964-1983). The longest I lived in any one place between 1983 and 2003 was twelve years.

So, it’s Saturday.

Tomorrow is the start of my summer schedule, thus giving me this last day to enjoy, after nine days of reading, writing, watching tons of “Modern Marvels” documentaries, “Foods That Built America,” “Men Who Built America,” and several others, having two suppers out with friends, lunching with a friend via Zoom, and doing a little shopping on Thursday… wait, Friday! Yes, I shopped on Friday.

Whatever the day, just make sure it is great. It’s a choice.

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MY DAY: Reclaiming the deck

I feel the joy of working from the deck, again, this evening.

The next several days are to be beautiful; however, Monday through Friday has a nasty rain outlook. It’s already sobering to think of spending another chunk of time inside while the world drips.

Today was fun, but taxing. After dining at Old Scratch Pizza in Centerville, I moseyed over to Home Buys and found some pillow cases I had been needing, as well as lightbulbs and a few other items.

Since I had 45 minutes until the next northbound No. 17 bus, I traipsed on in to Big Lots. It was more of a wandering adventure but I was thoroughly exhausted. I lost track of time and discovered I was at the 11-minute countdown for the bus and I had from one end of the huge plaza to the other in which to make the bus. I did so with one minute to spare.

I arrived home by 3:15 PM, and as I stepped from the bus, immediately across the street, the air was filled with flying cicadas. I thought I was back in Biblical times, dancing with Moses and Rameses (or whichever Pharaoh was dancing with the big M). It was actually wild and quite fascinating. They didn’t bother me and didn’t settle on me.

After putting away my purchases items, and putting a pot of vegetable soup on the stove for dinner, I settled in to research OCR to text programs. I discovered it’s just going to weigh me down. I’m now investigating the Windows voice to text and it’s working nicely.

Ive eaten supper and worked while taking in the happenings of the backyard from my seat in the deck.

The trees have filled out, now, making it impossible to readily spot the cardinals as they cheer me on. At least I can hear them.

The squirrels continue to pester Bailey and Harrigan by walking along the top of the fence or dancing from various limbs and branches in the trees. The Sisters are exasperated!

I barely noticed the ccicadas but have read on social media where they were driving others nuts. They just do not bother me.

Tomorrow will surely entail mowing. I doubt I can hold off until Sunday. But, with the forecast of lengthy stretches of rain, it will be a priority.

Back to writing as the sun sets and the clock nears 9:00 PM. It’s just a damned beautiful evening.

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MY DAY: Out and about

First stop, Target, to check out the reMarkable 2 writing program. The young man was so excited to send me from Tech to Stationary where I was assured the item was now located.

Fail.

No big deal.

The weather is perfect: sunny, warm, but all accompanied with a dashing breeze that makes it comfortable.

Lunching at Old Scratch Pizza on OH-725, east of the Dayton Mall. I love the larger venue, here, opposed to its sister restaurant near downtown Dayton.

After feeding my gut, it’s off to Home Buys and Big Lots for a few items before returning home to my four bundles of joyful fur.

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MY DAY: Thursday evening and starting to dry off

Until shortly after 8:00 PM, this Thursday evening, it has rained, sprinkled, or drizzled, non-stop since around 4:00 AM, Wednesday morning and this afternoon even offered some boomers as several thunderstorms moved through the area.

The front and backyards are a lush green as though Frank Baum visited with emerald colored glasses to show off a version of The Emerald City. While it is quite gorgeous, by Saturday morning, when most of it has dried out, it will be an absolute bear to mow.

Everything is damp. Inside, everything feels damp to the touch, even a bit sticky as it sometimes gets after a rain shower. Outside, everything is still dripping with water. The sound of tires swishing along a very wet Shroyer Road is a reminder that much is still wet.

I have accomplished precious little the pas several days. In fact, I barely budged from reading, watching documentaries, and snuggling with the dogs. And, that’s okay. I guess learning and loving is accomplishing, still.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Houston, we have sunshine!

There’s nothing more glorious than to greet a morning that’s filled with sunshine blasting through the windows!

Around 4:00 AM, during a bathroom break, the dark morning was filled with fog. I wanted to step outside to take photos, but I knew that as soon as I made any attempt to do so, The Quartet would take that as their cue to start the day, full speed, ahead! Well, let me rephrase that: Bailey and Harrigan would have taken that as their cue to rouse the others as Erma hangs on to every bit of sleep she can and Chief, unless he senses another dog in his area, is seldom moved to stir for any other reason.

It’s going on 10:00 AM and I have busied myself with reading and watching a few documentaries.

I am going to venture out to Big Lots and maybe, Target, to check out a few things. I may even grab something to eat on the south end of town.

I’ve only today and tomorrow left of my Fifth Week studio break and this Sunday begins the summer schedule, only lasting up to August. It’s only two months of a summer schedule but it affords students different options as they plug in their summer activities.

This morning, Facebook sent me a photo memory from eleven years ago: Logan and Flyer. Both were loved beyond The Haasienda; 57 friends and former students came to see Flyer as she prepared to pass, several driving three hours from northwestern Ohio where they were attending college. Ahhh… that’s a lot of blessings!

Make your own kind of sunshine, even when it rains, and make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Wet, weary Wednesday

(Started at 8:05 AM, Wednesday morning) Try as I might to combat their affects, clouds and rain exhaust me.

As a child, I would tell my mother that the rain makes me sleepy. I am positive she always found something to occupy me, keeping me alert, but I am confident I never gained her sympathy. Mother pushed through things and it was not until quite a spell after she retired that she gave into taking naps when she felt like it.

I am just not built that way and at fifty-six I really have no desire to take myself back to the design table to make any adjustments.

Rain has always been miserable for me. I never enjoyed it and to be honest, I really hate getting wet when I am dressed for dry. Sometimes, when it was raining hard, I wore galoshes and an actual yellow raincoat to elementary school, as did my classmates. It was okay. It was cool.

Throughout junior high, I rode with my band friend and neighbor, Todd Davis, and until I began driving to and from school, I rode to the high school with my next door neighbor, Don Fortner, the printing teacher. Since I often carried my saxophone with me, to and from school school each day, he nicknamed me “Super Toot.” Those were wonderful times! Don was, and still is, a renaissance man on many levels, and forty years later, I still take my flower photography cues from him. Don was a bonus uncle and dad for me, and I am still grateful that he shared his light, laughter, and love.

(Continued at 5:48 PM while listening to THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW) Today has been a day of reading, napping, playing with the lethargic pups who seem to have captured my dampened spirit of not being able to spend time on the deck. It has been a steady rain or sprinkle since early morning and is forecast to continue through tomorrow evening without stopping.

Ah, well. I still feel accomplished in making it a great day!

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