MY DAY: Feeling the Bern

We’re into our second full day of national collective laughter, thanks to the countless creative memes of Sen. Bernie Sanders.

In the 1950s, teenagers were drawn to the ever popular Dwight D. Eisenhower, our 34th President of the United States. He and his wife, Mamie, had a connection with teenagers. I still have my mother’s “I like Ike” pin.

The past several years, two seniors, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Vermont’s US Senator Bernie Sanders, were swept into a frenzied adoption as pop icons.

Thursday morning, the day after the 2021 presidential inauguration, the seated image of Bernie Sanders was dominating the social media landscape.

It’s been marvelous.

It feels like Thursday and Friday have been our unassigned, improved National Day of Laughter.

Thank you, Sen. Sanders!

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Carson and crusin’

When I was a baby I required less than five or six hours of sleep, just like Mother, and it afforded us a good deal of bonding time through early learning with writing and reading, as well as Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show.

None of my classmates knew who Johnny Carson was. I did.

I loved seeing every weeknight and even though I didn’t understand any of his jokes, I howled just the same. I even remember Tiny Tim marrying Miss Vicky.

The Golden Years of Hollywood and Broadway were beginning to merge into the modern era but the cavalcade of stars was strong.

By the time I was in junior high and high school, many of these stars began making their final curtain calls in guest appearances on The Love Boat.

They were a bit older. Sometimes their characters and shtick worked, other times it was just too dated to mix in with the modern skits, no matter how corny.

In the mid to late eighties I was fortunate to meet a number of these folks through Mr. and Mrs. Joshua Logan, my directing mentor and his wife. It was so exciting to see these personalities I had literally grown up with.

On Pluto TV, The Love Boat and Johnny Carson have their own channels that run 24/7. A little bit of The Love Boat can go a long way but it’s nice to be reacquainted with the stars of my youth.

Another plus seems to be getting sunshine during the television cruises. Mr. Logan said Londoners received their share of Vitamin Sea when the movie, South Pacific arrived. It played for months to packed houses.

Heeeeeeeere’s to all aboard with Johnny!

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MY DAY: January 20th, 2021

“With malice toward none” has been one of the most oft repeated phrases from the second inaugural address offered by President Lincoln and the spirit seemed to breeze throughout the 2021 inauguration day.

It was an inauguration familiar and yet, slightly new. Fresh. Light but not without its weightier moments. It was a day of being lockstep with what I remember from previous inaugurations but with little of the former staunchness.

We had music represented by steady talent, all the familiar Marine Band music, a female sworn in as vice-president, colleagues greeting one another with the new pandemic fist-bump, former Presidents and First Ladies and other politicos from previous administrations, pomp and pageantry, and a nod to our founding fathers and mothers that their experiment was, and is solid.

I felt some of the adjustments, such as the post-ceremony Senate luncheon, a modified parade, made it a much more comfortable watch.

For me, it was solid, enjoyable, perfectly designed and executed.

God bless our country… our leaders that we’ve selected… and the spirit of those who’ve paved the road of this experiment whose light is burning brighter, stronger.

And may God bless Sen. Bernie Sanders and his knitten-mittens.

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O, FOR HISTORY: 15 times…

This will be the fifteenth time I’ve witnessed an inauguration, the swearing in ceremonies of a president.

January 20, 1969. My parents, grandmother, and the Myricks from across the street, gathered in the family room, focused on the black and white television set as the ceremonies of Richard Nixon’s first inauguration began.

I had turned four the previous September. I was unfamiliar with the ongoings of what was taking place. My father, an avid historian who eagerly shared his passion with his little sponge, explained the process and tradition as it came up.

It was the first time I recall hearing the musical grandeur of “Hail to the Chief.” The next time I would become enamored with a robust creation was eight years later when I first heard the opening fanfare of John Williams’ STAR WARS.

I’ve always believed Inauguration Day should be a national holiday. It’s a tip of the hat to our cherished annual July Fourth celebration.

The political party commencing its duties is of little improvement to me. The continuity of our “experiment” is the key importance.

January 20, 1969; Richard Nixon January 20, 1973; Richard Nixon August 10, 1974; Gerald Ford January 20, 1977; Jimmy Carter January 20, 1981; Ronald Reagan January 20, 1985; Ronald Reagan. January 20, 1989; George H. W. Bush January 20, 1993; Bill Clinton January 20, 1997; Bill Clinton January 20, 2001; George W. Bush. January 20, 2005; George W. Bush January 20, 2009; Barrack Obama January 20, 2013; Barrack Obama January 20, 2017; Donald Trump January 20, 2021; Joe Biden

The traditions for this inauguration have been greatly altered due to the pandemic and the hideous insurrection just two weeks before.

Our great experiment survived, and continues to survive.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Serve

It’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on the calendar but not throughout the land.

Personally, I have always believed this day should be remembered as Civil Rights Day due to the enormous parade of those who’ve marched for the rights of others. Dr. King was a phenomenal drum-major during his tenure and his legacy continues to inspire and urge us to not never leave the parade.

I also firmly believe we need to keep the parade’s torch freshly lit with recognizable, connected names and faces. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is that image.

Civil Rights has been a process. A very long process. I wish that, instead of acknowledging the working continuation of civil rights, we could simply celebrate the ultimate success of the movement in our rear-view mirror.

We’ve made much progress in the march of civil rights, for which Dr. King was the perfect drum-major. Yet, when we peek over our shoulders at the lengthy line of marchers, it’s but a fleck of snow that drifts downward on this cold grey morning I observe here in The Miami Valley of Ohio.

We must still cheer on this parade to make our world a better place.

We must be better servants.

If we can no longer physically march, we can march with our spirits and our hearts.

We can always make it a great day for ourselves but what matters most is that we also make it a great day for others.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY… In the neighborhood

Joanne Rogers, 93, wife of Mister Fred Rogers, passed away, today.

Sara Joanne Byrd Rogers 9 Mar 1928 ~ 14 Jan 2021

It was sad when, Mister Rogers, one of the world’s greatest inspirations as cheerleaders passed away in 2003.

Joanne & Fred Rogers

I’m reading responses to the passing of Mrs. Rogers saying, “We really need Fred and Joanne Rogers, today.”

Perhaps.

What we really need is for ourselves to step up to the plate on The Neighborhood’s ball diamond to demonstrate just how the Rogers were fantastic coaches. They modeled, taught, and coached us well.

We. Can. Do. This.

It’s our Neighborhood, now. Let’s make Fred & Joanne proud of us.

Make it a great day in your neighborhood.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Frost

We often regard frost as a pain in the ass because it kills plants we’ve left outside too long, forces us to scrape car windows and windshields, and can be slippery.

This morning, I stepped outside with my coffee to wait while the pooches did their thing. I looked around at different items that had front etchings.

Seconds later, I had returned to the deck with my phone/camera.

So many different frozen etchings of beauty. One of my favorites looks like the airplane map you can watch from your phone that reveals the layers and fields of aircraft.

There are folks who are frosty. They’re cold hearted or just plain miserable to the world around them.

I’m not going into the plethora of reasons that might generate their discontent or if it is even our job to thaw them out.

But we can take the time to observe and enjoy the beauty they cannot hide.

So, the next time you’re in the drive through at Wendy’s and you… wait, different kind of frosty…

You get the idea. No matter how frosty a person is, look for their beauty marks, smile at them anyway, say, “hello” or nod. You can help to make their day great, too.

Be sure you make it a great day.

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MY DAY: Sail on, Silvergirl

I very rarely have music playing once lessons are over and I have time to myself to write, research, read, and spend time with my four pooches.

Last Friday, for some strange reason, I turned on my iTunes on my iPhone and pulled up my playlist, DLJH’s Favorite Songs. It’s really not a playlist of my favorites but songs that offer something entirely different to reflect or recharge.

The music continued until… now.

The television or streaming sites on my computers have not run since last Friday and I have absolutely no idea what is going on in the world as there has been no news, and not even any of my beloved documentaries, “Andy Griffith Show,” “All In The Family,” or “Two and A Half Men.”

It’s been refreshing, actually. My brain feels more stimulated and I am sensing more energy. I’ll explore this a bit more.

When I have to work in the kitchen I generally listen to presidential podcasts to pass the time and to help me rise above my dismal feeling toward cooking. However, since Friday, I’ve had music playing. I am liking it all the more.

Tonight after teaching, I made a huge pot of potato soup like Mother made it. One of the songs with which I grew up, Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” pulled up on my playlist but it was a beautiful arrangement by musical theatre actor John Barrowman and female with a lovely voice.

While I loved this version I felt it belonged to so many family, friends, and acquaintances who are riding the waves of hell.

This is for you, my friends!

Sail on silver girl
Sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
Oh, if you need a friend
I’m sailing right behindLike a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind

To all my silver girls and boys, know you are loved…

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Happy birthday Gran!

I was so blessed with terrific families as our neighbors in Elwood, Indiana: the Herndons (we found out that we were related about three generations back, in Hope, Indiana), the Fortners, the Wolffs (Dutch & Kate; later Nick & Kathy), the Herman Cole family (Ronnie Cole, Elwood’s magic mechanic), Lucille Berry, and across Ninth Street, Luther and Ida Myrick.

Luther was a coal miner from the hollers of southeastern Kentucky and Tennessee and for many years, was the square dance caller at The Jellico (TN) Hoe Down. Luther often sang some of his favorite songs, calling out the dance instructions.

Ida had the best stories.

Her grandmother was from Hodgenville, Kentucky, raised off to the side of what is called the Greensburg Road, one mile from the Lincoln family farm, commonly known now as the Knob Creek farm.

Ida “Gran” Myrick and our own Grandma Donna

Ida’s grandmother clearly remembered the Lincoln family and her mother took food and to the Lincoln family when their son, Thomas Jr. died.

Ida shared details about her grandmother’s recollections playing with Sarah and Abraham and attending a blab school for only a month or so. I was enthralled with the stories.

For my 12th birthday, which coincided with our 1976 Bi-Centennial, Ida gave me a special gift: a signed card de visite of President Lincoln wishing health and happiness to his childhood playmate. Sadly, the card stolen by a high school classmate (I’ve not forgotten your thievery, JJ!) and the administration and the police could not locate where it was sold for JJ to purchase his drugs.

To us, they were Luther and Gran. They were bonus great-grandparents who, though childless, loved us as dearly as their own numerous nephews and nieces to whom they were wonderfully devoted, and it was returned in full measure.

My sister was the closest to Luke and Gran, and I’ve often thought they doted on her as their biological granddaughter they were never to have. I still cherish their mutual relationship and am grateful Dena still holds close that special relationship.

I never knew the reason for their move to Elwood, nor when. A great-nephew and niece actually lived here in Kettering and she was in the Kettering City Schools food and nutrient department. We’ve communicated sporadically these past 30 years.

Today, January 2nd, is Ida’s 116th birthday.

Happy birthday, Gran!

Thank you for loving us like your own and for enriching our lives with so much of your family history, culture, home remedies (they worked better than miracles!), and for demonstrating how lovely simplicity can be.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: The Last Card

Christmas morning, keeping with my personal tradition, I sat in the living room to open and read through all my cards; all except for one.

I simply could not open the last card written by my Aunt Joyce who passed away Friday, December 11th.

I was Aunt Joyce’s first great-nephew, so I to target a connection: this afternoon I opened Aunt Joyce’s card on December 27th, the 23rd birthday of my first nephew, Jonathan Garrett Surber, who was named after Aunt Joyce’s father, John William Garrett Clary.

Tears. But, they were more joyful, a bit less achy.

Know you are loved, Aunt Joyce. I will never stop missing you…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Be as bright as the sun

Allison Janney

One of Dayton’s own, multi-award winning actress, Allison Janney, starred in the Broadway hit, 9 To 5, based on the popular movie starring Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.

In the musical, the clerical trio sings this brilliant, invigorating song, ”I’m Gonna Shine Like The Sun.”

This morning’s sun is energizing and this song underscores the bright sky.

”Shine Like The Sun” from 9 To 5

”I’ll be off chasin’ rainbows,
Rejoicin’ and havin’ my fun.
And when the cryin’s all done,
Well, I’m gonna shine like the sun.”

Make it a great day and shine like the sun!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: “Hamilton” in Kettering, Boston, and London

At 4:00 PM, I settled in with Joshua and David in London, Anne and Phil (Dave’s parents) in Boston, to watch the musical, HAMILTON.

Last July, we were all caught up in the HAMILTON bubble of excitement as it premiered on the Disney Channel.

Had the pandemic receded greatly, Anne, Phil, and I hoped to be starting our three-week London adventure, courtesy of our sons who wanted to return the favor of our three-week London gift to them in 2017. Needless to say, Sunday was a bittersweet day.

Each Sunday, Anne, Phil, and I sip our morning coffees as we chat together with the boys who take their lunch with our five hour time difference. A few weeks ago, I suggested we do a Zoom group every day of the three weeks we were to be in London.

Yesterday afternoon, we watched HAMILTON together. In 2016, we parents gifted the sons with a dinner and tickets to HAMILTON in Los Angeles for their Christmas.

I’m glad we turned Operation: London 2020 into something we could still share together.

Sometimes, making it a great day requires moving beyond the missed moments and thinking outside the box.

”Work!”

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MY DAY: Tightly packed Tuesday

It’s 9:19 PM on this beautiful winter evening and I’m trying to decide if I should place myself in a place prepared to sleep.

Sleep was rough last night; the restlessness and frequent bathroom trips made for sloppy interrupted rest and although I wanted to return to bed after breakfast, however, I pushed on.

By 9:00 AM, I was hitting my fill out Hazel-mode, thoroughly cleaning the entire main floor while listening to presidential podcasts and ”Hamilton.” I did not stop until 3:00 PM.

Today, my Hoosier relatives gathered to celebrate and bid farewell to my cousin, Terry Richardson, who was taken by Covid and pneumonia.

I spent 90 minutes in London with Josh, Dave, Anne, and Phil as the boys took us on our virtual London Adventure, exploring The National Gallery, Buckingham Palace, Houses of Parliament, and a cute tour through Mayfair. We had a grand time and I’m eager for Wednesday’s adventure.

By 8:15 PM, I finished another round of cleaning and purging unnecessary items.

I had five Amazon deliveries and several lovely, touching, and delicious gifts from students and former students.

I don’t think I could have commanded a lovelier and productive day.

Thank you to everyone who made the day so gratifying. Know you are loved…

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MY DAY: ”Life must be lived” – dealing with grief during the holidays

This past year, I’ve known so many friends and social media friends who’ve lost loved ones and are heading into the holidays with heavier than usual hearts.

Many friends have lost a parent. One dear friend lost her mother and then, shortly thereafter, her father-in-law.

The numbers of Covid-related deaths are now increasing among family and friends, heaping frustration, not only from the conditions of these deaths and the funeral precautions but the politicized undercurrents, as well.

Our lives have greatly changed since March 2020 and we’ve been forced to temporarily alter our grieving process and traditions. Very little has seemed fair during this lengthy crisis, and for those who’ve been dealt heavy blows of losing precious ones, they’ve truly felt the brick tossed onto the already unbalanced scales.

Within twenty-four days, I lost my dad, a much-beloved great-aunt, and a cousin, adding to the 2019 gravity of losing my mother and brother.

Friends have lovingly worried about the strain of such great loss within twenty-one months but in all honesty, I am one. I’ve adjusted my sails to keep moving forward toward my wonderful career working with terrific students, my writing, my furry quartet, my family, my friends, and my history friends.

Yes, I have my moments when a memory prompts a tear, or two, however, I’ve always believed in Mrs. Roosevelt’s reminder, ”Life was meant to be lived, and curiosity must be kept alive. One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life.”

During a time when I cannot hug my grieving friends with physical hugs I have learned how to reach out with worded hugs.

Life must be lived.

It’s a choice.

It requires courage and strength.

But, life must be lived…

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Mary Belle Clary

Grandpa Garrett & Grandma Belle, 1964

Today would have been the 123rd birthday of my great-grandmother, Mary Belle Jones-Clary.

December 20, 1897 – January 28, 1969

Belle was the daughter of Joel Monroe Jones & Anna Greenlee Jones, and the older sister of Alpha & Harry. She was descended from pioneer families of Boone Township, Madison County, Indiana, the Greenlees, the Balls, the Joneses, the Vinsons.

Belle married John William Garrett Clary on September 30, 1920, and they had three children, Ronald Monroe Jones (1921-1936), Donna Mae Clary-Barmes (1924-1992), and Joyce Ann Clary-Riser (1933-2020).

Grandma Donna, Grandpa Garrett, Grandma Belle, Aunt Joyce

Belle Clary was my maternal great-grandmother and I got to spend a good amount of time with her after she and Grandpa Garrett moved a few blocks from us after they retired from farming.

Four Generations, 1964

Continue to rest in the beauty that surrounded you…

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Great Aunt Evelyn

Since my birth in 1964, I’ve been blessed with sixteen great aunts and I was fortunate to know each of them, except the Jolliff aunts.

My paternal great-aunts: (The Richardsons) Shirley, Corrine, Mary Ruth, Kay, Sue, Carolyn, and (Jolliff) Jean, and four others.

The maternal great-aunts, Joyce (Clary), (the Barmeses) Evelyn, Norma, and Bonnie.

All but three of my great-aunts have passed and I’m so fortunate to have had them in my life.

Uncle Dewey & Aunt Evelyn

Today is the angelic 97th birthday of my great-aunt, Evelyn Barmes Smith, my Grandpa Leroy’s younger sister.

Aunt Evelyn, or Aunt Ebbie, as she was affectionately known, was born December 19, 1923, and passed away on May 11, 1996.

She married Dewey Smith of Monon, Indiana, and they settled in Elwood, Indiana, and raised four children, Judy, Janice, Dewey, and Kevin. Sadly, Jan and Kevin were both taken by pancreatic cancer just a few years apart.

The Smith children grew up with my mother’s family just a few blocks away. Later, Uncle Dewey and Aunt Evelyn moved several blocks away from where I grew up. Like their mother, and Barmes grandparents, the Smith quartet was red headed.

I grew up on the stories of what a great cook Grandma Thelma (Evelyn’s mother) was, but it is hard to imagine anyone who could cook or bake better than Aunt Evelyn. My Washington Elementary School teachers who had also had my mother, uncles, and Smith cousins in class, often commented on Aunt Evelyn’s baked goods and candies.

Evelyn Barmes Smith December 19, 1923 – May 11, 1996

Happy angelic birthday, Aunt Evelyn!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Run the dishwasher twice

Someone posted this story on Facebook. I’ve no idea who wrote it but it is definitely worth the read.

When I was at one of my lowest (mental) points in life, I couldn’t get out of bed some days. I had no energy or motivation and was barely getting by.

I had therapy once per week, and on this particular week I didn’t have much to ‘bring’ to the session. He asked how my week was and I really had nothing to say.

“What are you struggling with?” he asked.

I gestured around me and said “I dunno man. Life.”

Not satisfied with my answer, he said “No, what exactly are you worried about right now? What feels overwhelming? When you go home after this session, what issue will be staring at you?”

I knew the answer, but it was so ridiculous that I didn’t want to say it.

I wanted to have something more substantial.

Something more profound.

But I didn’t.

So I told him, “Honestly? The dishes. It’s stupid, I know, but the more I look at them the more I CAN’T do them because I’ll have to scrub them before I put them in the dishwasher, because the dishwasher sucks, and I just can’t stand and scrub the dishes.”

I felt like an idiot even saying it.

What kind of grown ass woman is undone by a stack of dishes? There are people out there with *actual* problems, and I’m whining to my therapist about dishes?

But my therapist nodded in understanding and then said:

“RUN THE DISHWASHER TWICE.”

I began to tell him that you’re not supposed to, but he stopped me.

“Why the hell aren’t you supposed to? If you don’t want to scrub the dishes and your dishwasher sucks, run it twice. Run it three times, who cares?! Rules do not exist, so stop giving yourself rules.”

It blew my mind in a way that I don’t think I can properly express.

That day, I went home and tossed my smelly dishes haphazardly into the dishwasher and ran it three times.

I felt like I had conquered a dragon.

The next day, I took a shower lying down.

A few days later, I folded my laundry and put them wherever the heck they fit.

There were no longer arbitrary rules I had to follow, and it gave me the freedom to make accomplishments again.

Now that I’m in a healthier place, I rinse off my dishes and put them in the dishwasher properly. I shower standing up. I sort my laundry.

But at a time when living was a struggle instead of a blessing, I learned an incredibly important lesson:

THERE ARE NO RULES.

RUN THE DISHWASHER TWICE!!!

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MY DAY: Monday

It’s almost time to teach my private lessons for today and I’m eager to plunge in with the hopes of raising a sluggish spirit.

I like to keep my Christmas cards for opening on the night of Christmas Eve.

Last Friday, the card from my Aunt Joyce arrived. She was always faithful in getting her Christmas cards written out and sent.

A part of me wishes to not open it as this is it. The last card. However, I want to open it because she sent it to me to open so she could let me know she’s thinking of me and that she loves me.

This current hurt is lingering. I didn’t get to visit with her since January and was eagerly waiting the time when neither of us would be compromised with the virus.

This aching and empty sense of no closure will pass. I’m confident in that. In the meantime, the tears continue to flow at any given moment, for no connected reason.

Like Mother, and my grandparents, Aunt Joyce is one of the last family members who knew me since birth. She was always ready for great fun, always offering an ear and shoulder, always a sweet conversationalist and confidant, and my last living link with our family heritage and so many of the treasured stories that I’ve faithfully collected for over forty years.

Now, I’m the one holding all these family tales, hoping to put them into story form so that these beautiful souls, their stories, and their phenomenal humor will never be forgotten by my nieces and nephews, and cousins.

Aunt Joyce was my aunt, but in many ways, a bonus mom, and after Grandma Donna passed in 1992, a bonus grandma. She filled many shoes and wore many hats, not just to me and my family, but her town of Alexandria, Indiana, her church, and the retirement facilities in which she worked and at last, lived and filled with joy. I loved visiting with her, especially in the dining hall to enjoy seeing her raised to rock star status.

Some day, someone might have an unopened letter or card from me. I can only pray the recipient will be filled with the same amount of joy this little lady gave me for 56 years.

Know you are loved, Aunt Joyce…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: “Those damn girls!”

My grandmother and her sister were two of the best fun-loving, creative pranksters I’ve ever known and it is especially telling given I’m descended from a number of hilarious pranksters, at least four to five generations preceding me.

Donna & Joyce Clary, 1938

Grandma Donna and Aunt Joyce were nine years apart in age, however, in like-thinking and practical jokes, they were conjoined. Their principal target was their father, John William Garrett Clary, commonly known as Garrett or “Skinny.”

Grandpa Garrett’s “those damn girls” is family legend. Being the eldest grandchild and great-grandchild allowed me a front row seat to a number of episodes in the family’s own personal sitcom, “Those Damn Girls.”

Grandma Donna, Grandpa Garrett, Grandma Belle, Aunt Joyce, 1967.

I shall forever be grateful for that generous laughter-filled gene that exploded into my own DNA.

At some point, I will share the stories that were exclaimed with “those damn girls.” Believe me, they are some of the funniest stories in my family album’s arsenal.

While making it a great day, never go more than an hour without laughing.

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MY DAY: Heading into Sunday

11:40 PM, on this 43-degrees Saturday evening, I’m sitting out on the deck while Erma lays on my foot and as the others explore he yard.

Twice I’ve checked the temperature because it is really comfortable, even with a tiny breeze composing a variety of unfamiliar melodies on the wind chimes. It’s a calming postlude to the end of my weekend.

Harrigan on the deck.

Most of my day was spent in sleeping and reading in bed after getting little sleep Friday night. The Quartet seemed to accept the decided schedule and The Sisters cuddled beside me. The few times I did move about the house was nothing of great importance.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin teaching four more days and Thursday will begin an eighteen day winter break with private lessons resuming January 4th and my online classes on January 19th. I’m happy both teaching chunks don’t both resume on the same day so I can ease into the new year.

The weather was comfortable enough to open windows throughout the bipolar day from grey rain-filled clouds to brilliant blue skies with quickly passing clouds. Quite nice.

Here’s to the start of another week.

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: My great-aunt, Joyce Clary Riser

Friday evening at around 11:30 PM, while writing my previous blog of what a wonderful day I’d enjoyed, I learned my 87 year old great aunt, Joyce Clary Riser, died unexpectedly from a brain bleed.

I completed the blog of gratitude through heavy tears. This death smacks harder than anything.

Aunt Joyce was nine years younger than my grandmother, Donna Clary Barmes (1924-1992) and twelve years older than my mother. Aunt Joyce’s daughters, Kim and Debbie, two and six years younger than me, always seemed like bonus sisters rather than first cousins once removed.

I shall follow up a tribute post to Aunt Joyce at a later time. I just do not have the spirit to continue with writing at this time as my heart is terribly heavy.

May a chorus of heavenly angels sing you to your rest, Aunt Joyce. I will always be so grateful for you fun, long conversations, and eternal love.

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MY DAY: Fridaaaay

My Friday was filled with Zoom-lecturing for 5 different blocks from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM, some research, and three different surprises.

Thursday morning during my coffee chat with my son in London, the topic somehow turned to me describing my designated job as my Grandma Donna’s su chef, placing the chocolate Hershey kisses into the cookies as they came out of the oven.

Friday morning in my first Zoom lecture I, again, described the cookie-kiss story.

During my break, the UPS delivery arrived and there were some gifts in my delivery bin on the front porch.

Gift No. 1: my friend and student-mom, Linda Utt, had left me a number of baked goods and the cookie plate included cookies with Hershey kisses! Thank you, Linda!

Gift No. 2: Another friend and student-mom, Karen McLain, sent her delicious fudge (it should be classified “world famous”) and a cardinal light in remembrance of my mother and my ever present cardinals on Shroyer Road. Thank you, Karen!

Ironically, Linda and Karen were grabbing some golf time in Friday’s beautiful weather.

Karen & Linda

Gift No. 3: My aunt, Jenny Jolliff, sent me a really nice air-fryer! I’d been tinkering around about getting one and had mentioned on Facebook that I was never comfortable cooking with grease. I am eager to try it out, tomorrow. Thank you, so much, Aunt Jenny!

My beautiful Aunt Jenny

My day was filled with some wonderful Zoom lecturing and the arrival of three meaningful gifts!

Lou Gehrig wasn’t the only “luckiest man on the face of the earth.”

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OF INTEREST: Hanukkah begins

I was first introduced to Judaism in college when I met graduate student, Elaine Broad, a most fascinating composer, conductor, and one of my theory instructors whose techniques I continue to use with my own students.

Elaine Broad’s choral and orchestral compositions were brilliant, and following her graduate recital, in which I sang, I was infatuated with Jewish music. I still cherish her arrangement of “Oseh Shalom.” (Please listen to this chorale.)

When I moved to Dayton in 1990, I was so blessed to meet so many folks who celebrate their Jewish faith. I was raised United Methodist (originally Evangelical United Brethren Church) but I’ve always been terribly interested in the faith and culture of my Jewish friends.

So, to my beloved Jewish friends, I wish you a happy first night of Hanukkah.

Know you are loved…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: On the deck

The past several days, today, and the next few days finds The Miami Valley of Southwestern Ohio with temperatures in the mid to high fifties and I am loving this unexpected deck time.

My Thursday morning was filled with an Instacart delivery, research, shower, a Zoom-lunch with some ladies from The Coterie, some business, and time on the deck. For me, this is a gold star day.

The Quartet is loving this weather, as well. Deck time is a Haasienda family favorite.

It doesn’t have to be great weather to have a great day. Just make it one.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: $20

I love this story from Katharine Hepburn’s childhood; in her own words.

“Once when I was a teenager, my father and I were standing in line to buy tickets for the circus. Finally, there was only one other family between us and the ticket counter.

This family made a big impression on me. There were eight children, all probably under the age of 12. The way they were dressed, you could tell they didn’t have a lot of money, but their clothes were neat and clean.

The children were well-behaved, all of them standing in line, two-by-two behind their parents, holding hands. They were excitedly jabbering about the clowns, animals, and all the acts they would be seeing that night. By their excitement you could sense they had never been to the circus before. It would be a highlight of their lives.

The father and mother were at the head of the pack standing proud as could be. The mother was holding her husband’s hand, looking up at him as if to say, “You’re my knight in shining armor.” He was smiling and enjoying seeing his family happy.

The ticket lady asked the man how many tickets he wanted? He proudly responded, “I’d like to buy eight children’s tickets and two adult tickets, so I can take my family to the circus.”

The ticket lady stated the price.

The man’s wife let go of his hand, her head dropped, the man’s lip began to quiver.

Then he leaned a little closer and asked, “How much did you say?”

The ticket lady again stated the price.

The man didn’t have enough money. How was he supposed to turn and tell his eight kids that he didn’t have enough money to take them to the circus?

Seeing what was going on, my dad reached into his pocket, pulled out a $20 bill, and then dropped it on the ground. (We were not wealthy in any sense of the word!) My father bent down, picked up the $20 bill, tapped the man on the shoulder and said, “Excuse me, sir, this fell out of your pocket.”

The man understood what was going on. He wasn’t begging for a handout but certainly appreciated the help in a desperate, heartbreaking and embarrassing situation.

He looked straight into my dad’s eyes, took my dad’s hand in both of his, squeezed tightly onto the $20 bill, and with his lip quivering and a tear streaming down his cheek, he replied, “Thank you, thank you, sir. This really means a lot to me and my family.”

My father and I went back to our car and drove home. The $20 that my dad gave away is what we were going to buy our own tickets with.

Although we didn’t get to see the circus that night, we both felt a joy inside us that was far greater than seeing the circus could ever provide.

That day I learnt the value to Give.

The Giver is bigger than the Receiver. If you want to be large, larger than life, learn to Give. Love has nothing to do with what you are expecting to get – only with what you are expecting to give – which is everything.

The importance of giving, blessing others can never be over emphasized because there’s always joy in giving.

Learn to make someone happy by acts of giving.”

~ Katharine Hepburn

This is another example of making it a great day for both yourself and others.

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