MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Saturday is bright and sunny

It’s been a fine day for writing as sunshine brightens my study which, for most days has been sunless. It’s a boost to working on my Boone Township writing project.

Last night I made a huge pot of cabbage soup with two small containers of hot and sour soup, a can of roasted tomatoes, a can of Italian tomatoes that did not speak that first hint of Italian, a large onion, prepped ground beef, some diced garlic, and spices. After three bowls for my lunch, the pan is emptied. It was delicious and I hope to replicate it in a few days. My dining tastes are simple and repeating meals is fine by me.

Last night and today, I have accomplished much with editing the first four chapters of my Boone Township project. I’m ready to plunge back into the actual writing and research. However, I’m pleased with what is written.

I’m thinking a nap is needed before it’s time to shower and dress so that I can join Mama Kay and the family for dinner. Mama’s youngest son, Michael, and his daughter, Emily, are here for the weekend and we’re having dinner before they return to North Carolina.

Today, my third son, Jose, is 30 years old. He was only twelve when I adopted him eighteen years ago.

My lethargy comes and goes. With no rain and less dampness, the accompanying body aches have diminished for the day. The aches and discomfort is always with me; some days are worse than others, mostly contributed by the weather conditions.

The Quartet, Erma especially, has been loving and always close by. If Harrigan is not near me it’s because she has rearranged my bed’s pillows for her personal suite.

Make it a great day!

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Little Mermaid

Go see the Muse Machine production at The Victoria Theatre.

You will have fun! You will want to sing along (but please don’t). You will want to dance (but not during the show).

It’s a delight and a joy to watch 130+ students showcasing their talent on stage, in the orchestra, and behind the scenes. These incredible youngsters were led by Joe Deer, Lula Elzy, Jeff Powell, Shannon Sellers, Doug Merk, and countless others.

Go. See. The. Show.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Friday the thirteenth

Rainy, cloudy, sinusy, and achy day here in The Miami Valley.

In a short while, Mama Kay will pull up in her driveway and I shall join her and others for a post-Mass lunch after which I intend to write the afternoon and evening away.

Make it a great day!

FRIDAY THE 13th by David Harris

To many the number thirteen
is a number to avoid and beware of,
add Friday in front of the number,
and you have a very scary day.

To me the number thirteen,
has always been always been a lucky one,
and Friday the thirteenth,
even luckier still

Then again, if you are superstitious
any number can be unlucky.
If you want to think it so,
it just depends on how positive you are.

Now if you think negative,
you will be that way to,
so in your thinking,
just be like me.

Positive is lucky, negative is unlucky,
so train you mind,
to think positive
all the time.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Sunday, January 8th

It’s finally Sunday morning after feeling like a Sunday for several days. Teaching breaks always throw me for a loop when it comes to knowing which day it is. At 3 PM, teaching will resume.

I could not get my energy moving earlier this morning. When my weather app sounded the day’s forecast at 7 AM, the four dogs immediately jumped to their “I’m ready to eat” pose but it was another twenty minutes before I could rouse myself. After feeding and pottying the dogs, I laid back down to read and woke at 10:45 AM. I slept wonderfully through the night with only one nature break. I do not feel exhausted, but I am listening to my body as it reminds me, I need to pay attention to its needs.

I have a resident stinkbug that keeps me company in my study. He usually perches himself on top of one of my three monitors as I work. Stinky never lands on me or bothers me in any way but I find it amusing that, aside from the four pooches, I have a possum and a stinkbug. Oh, well…

I am going to figure out what I am eating for lunch and then relax until about 2:30 PM. But it is nice to relax and knowing the main floor is purged, cleaned, and organized. I love that feeling!

Make it a great day!

PHOTOS: 1. Stinky the stink bug; 2. Bailey showing off her heart as she naps; 3. Chief and Bailey; 4. 2018: Clyde and Neko: since Clyde was always playing the piano, he must have been giving Neko a lesson.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Some frustrations…

The sun is out today to reveal a brilliant blue cloudless sky. I wish my energy could match the energy but I did teach until midnight so I suppose I can award myself some reason to not chide myself.

I have thirteen voice students soloing for the OMEA solo and ensemble contest. Nine will go to District XII’s event at the end of this month and the remaining four in District XIII will be at OMEA in early February. The majority is prepared but it’s the few unprepared vocalists, heading to contest at the end of this month that has me a tad anxious as we’ve only two lessons.

In January 1957, my maternal great-grandmother, Thelma E. Daugherty Barmes, died of internal injuries suffered from a train-automobile collision. Early this afternoon, I was checking the exact date of the accident and tripped across a link to Family Search, a genealogy program sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I spent ninety minutes correcting information that someone had entered, deleting all my information added 10+ years ago. It was infuriating that these folks had added such delusional data. When I traced their sources, they were mingling several persons with similar names and going off other incorrect material. I sent each false contributor an email, noting their fondness for invading a genealogical page with the correct data but adding their own erroneous information. I forced myself to abandon further searching as it would lead me down more rabbit holes for which I have no time. Genealogy is so addictive.

I ran out of time working on this blog post as it was time to begin teaching from 3 PM until 11:45 PM. I had this break to finish up and submit.

On with my continuation of making it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Tuesday morning, January 10th

This morning, even with six and one-half hours of sleep, my eyelids pushed open at 6:55 AM and I was up and moving with a terrific amount of energy that I knew, was once upon a time. The dogs are fed and pottied, as am I, and I was at my writing desk by 7:30 AM, only to be forced to upgrade and reinstall items on an older laptop I have not used in quite some time.

It is moving onto 8 AM and I am attempting to accomplish a number of things before teaching begins at 3:30 PM with a full lineup until 11:00 PM.

I realized that I did not recognize President Richard Nixon’s birthday, yesterday, January 9th. I was born ten months into President Lyndon Johnson’s administration and I do not recall any of it. By the time President Nixon was sworn in, in 1969, I was becoming quite aware of the presidency. My memory doesn’t recollect the 1969 inauguration but I clearly remember his 1973 celebration. What a fantastic occasion it was and it was, I believe, my first introduction to “Hail To The Chief.”

I have still not managed to grab the three emails to which I need to respond. They are each from three dear folks and I hate to rush my responses. I haven’t forgotten you – Chuck, Carol, and Kari! I am just lame!

Chief never complains or indicates he is struggling with his back legs and hips. He moves slowly unless he spies another dog through the Rockhill Avenue fence side or is eager for a treat. However, rising is a challenge. This morning he was backing away from his food dish and his back legs gave out; he gently sat, turned himself around, and rose again. It’s heartbreaking to see his aging infirmities. Right now, his hip is pressed against my ankle as I write. Erma is in the hallway outside the study, and The Sisters are snuggled under the covers of my bed. I love these moments.

Although it is not a frosty morning and we are to reach a high of 45 degrees later in the day, I do enjoy this Robert Louis Stevenson poem.


Robert Louis Stevenson

Late lies the wintry sun a-bed,

A frosty, fiery sleepy-head;

Blinks but an hour or two; and then,

A blood-red orange, sets again.

Before the stars have left the skies,

At morning in the dark I rise;

And shivering in my nakedness,

By the cold candle, bathe and dress.

Close by the jolly fire I sit

To warm my frozen bones a bit;

Or with a reindeer-sled, explore

The colder countries round the door.

When to go out, my nurse doth wrap

Me in my comforter and cap;

The cold wind burns my face, and blows

Its frosty pepper up my nose.

Black are my steps on silver sod;

Thick blows my frosty breath abroad;

And tree and house, and hill and lake,

Are frosted like a wedding cake.

Make it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: A dull winter Wednesday

I should start off by saying the weather is dull, not this day. The temperature is delightful 49 degrees, but the overcast sky is menacing with rain to pour at any time; however, radar shows no rain in the immediate future.

I am still wrestling with getting my schedule reined in so there is more of a balance to my day. I love to rise and shine but the shine part becomes quickly dulled and I find myself incapable of combating the cascade of fatigue. My sister and I compare our individual MS notes and it’s remarkable how we have some similarities but drastically different symptoms.

I would like to do something out-of-the-house for dinner, but I need to be back by 7 PM for a Zoom conference, “A Visit to the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair” hosted by Facebook’s “1904 World’s Fair Society and Appreciation Group.” Since I am working on a project that involves the 1904 fair, this group has been enormously invaluable in my research. Both of my maternal great-grandparents, and their families, attended the fair and I have several mementos from their visit 119 years ago.

My wonderful Quartet has been attentive and loving, but Erma raises the bar of attentiveness and by showing me her tender affection and devotion. I know the other three love me, but the difference is that I have had them since they were eight to ten weeks old, and Erma arrived at age nine. Erma is a true testament of devotion.

I need to attend to a few things before settling into researching and writing.

“At the Solstice”

Shaun O’Brien

We say Next time we’ll go away,

But then the winter happens like a secret

We’ve to keep yet never understand

As daylight turns to cinema once more:

A lustrous darkness deep in ice-age cold,

And the print in need of restoration

Starting to consume itself

With snowfall where no snow is falling now.

Or could it be a cloud of sparrows, dancing

In the bare hedge that this gale of light

Is seeking to uproot? Let it be sparrows, then,

Still dancing in the blazing hedge,

Their tender fury and their fall,

Because it snows, because it burns.

Make it a great day!

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Getting lost in a phone booth – Mother’s adventures with getting lost

“The lady could get lost in a phone booth!” I jokingly said of my mother.

It was true. Mother had no sense of direction, and my referencing comment was born after I had lived in Swinford Hall on Ball State University’s campus for several months. When Mother would visit, we’d leave my dorm room and she would inevitably turn right instead of left, retracing her steps. Then, at the first cross hall that led to the bathrooms, she’d try to enter through that door believing she’d already made it to the stairwell.

For as long as I can remember, I was the human GPS whenever Mother was driving. I quickly and easily memorized landmarks in unfamiliar locations and served both my parents when they were driving. I can still recall, after 50+ years, various houses or buildings that were landmarks on vacations in Boston, Virginia Beach, St. Louis, St. Petersburg, and Myrtle Beach.


Before she had surgery on her nose that she’d broken when in high school, Mother often went to Carl Brosius Sputh, MD, a nationally respected otorhinolaryngologist (ENT) on the northwest side of Indianapolis. I often traveled to Dr. Sputh’s office in the late 1960s where I was proud to demonstrate my enunciation skills by repeating “otorhinolaryngology” and announcing to the receptionist, “My mommy is here to see the otorhinolaryngologist, Dr. Sputh whose middle name is Brosius.” I loved Dr. Sputh’s middle name and hoped, if Mother were to give birth to a second son, she’d name him Brosius.

One morning, Grandma Donna joined us on the journey to Dr. Sputh’s office. I was elated because I knew that with Grandma joining us, we would visit Lafayette Square Mall and then lunch in a nice restaurant. South of Noblesville, Indiana, Mother turned the steel blue Pontiac Bonneville onto I-465. I sat in the backseat, watching out the passenger side window, half-listening to Mother and Grandma yammering up front.

“One more exit, Mommy.”

Mother did not hear me.

A few minutes later, I intoned a little louder, “Here’s your turn.”

The conversation up front allowed no interruption from the voice in the backseat and my eyes followed the exiting path as we slipped past it. I repeated, several times, “You missed your exit,” but the enthusiastic conversation did not heed my alerts.

Two exits later, Mother said, “None of this looks familiar.”

“It’s not because you missed your exit about three miles ago,” I offered.

Laughter erupted up front. I was not amused because I had been practicing “otorhinolaryngology” under my breath.

Another adventure that ended up in a bit of a road trip was when we were heading to a particular store on the south side of Castleton Square that required us to take I-465. Mother and Grandma were so busy talking that neither realized we were already on the southeast side of Indianapolis near Beech Grove.

In 1979, Mother and I ventured down to Castleton Square Mall to get a new shirt to go with my suit that I would wear to the 8th-grade dance with Loris Foley. As we left the Castleton Square parking lot, I asked Mother if she remembered how to get home.

“Don’t be a smartass,” she said as she confidently turned the red and black Pinto Pony onto westbound 82nd Street to meet I-69 north. I kept my smart-ass mouth closed as Mother aimed in the opposite direction.

“Hmm, I don’t remember needing 465 before.”

She continued onto I-465 and eventually veered off the exit onto I-65 N.

“CHICAGO??” Mother yelled as we passed the sign that indicated Chicago was 170 miles away. “Why didn’t you tell me we were going the wrong way?”

“Because I have a smart-ass mouth…”


We were excited to be taking a big family trip in July 1979 to attend the wedding of my cousin, Gary Scheffer to Janice Bogucki. Grandma Donna’s large black car was filled with Grandpa, Grandma, Mother, my younger siblings, Dena and Destin, and myself. In the two cars following us were Aunt Norma, and my mother’s youngest brother, and his fiancée.

Grandpa Leroy’s memory was astounding and his ability to estimate travel time and remember the exact roads still impresses me. He could remember the smallest details, even in the most desolate locations that he deemed, “areas that God had forgotten.” I was fortunate to share some of his super-power in traveling but he was the best.

Grandpa Leroy started out as the driver for Destination Cleveland but after several hours, he was tired and requested a quick nap. After retiring from the Elwood Police Department, Grandpa drove a semi for Steel Slitting Company in Elwood. It was the best job for his post-retirement as he loved to drive long distances.

We pulled over to the side of the road for Grandpa and Mother to trade places. Naturally, Mother’s self-deprecating jokes began with her getting us lost. Grandpa Leroy laughed, agreeing, but assured his daughter that there was no way she could get lost if she stayed on the road. The journey resumed and Grandpa laid back his head.

Fifteen minutes later, Grandpa stirred, raised his head from the headrest, and asked, “Where are we?”

Mother thought he was joking and replied, “I have stayed on this same road.”

I am not remembering the exact details, but within those fifteen minutes, there had been a jog, or the main road veered without many indications. It was an easy fix but for once, Mother got us “lost” and it was not even of her own doing.


Mother’s driving adventures amusingly continued once I moved to Dayton in 1990. I don’t know how many times I’d hear her get out of the car upon arriving and say, “Naturally, I got lost.”

Mother hated the interstate and often took the back or country roads which resulted in a three-plus hour trip that only took me ninety minutes. Many times, she’d stop to use the restroom or get something to drink and turn in the opposite direction as she continued her trek toward Dayton.

I can recall five times when it passed her arrival time that I began to worry. Before long, I would get a call from a phone booth and hear, “I don’t know what exit I took but I am at ____.” She was usually within three to five miles of my home, and I would hop in the car to escort her back to The Haasienda. Every time I pass Grismer Firestone on the southwest corner of South Patterson Blvd. and Stout Street, I chuckle remembering the two times I drove there to fetch Mother.

“I thought I was taking the right exit,” she’d say as she gave me a hug and kiss.

“Obviously you weren’t.”

Several times, I suggested that when she thought she was taking the correct exit to not take it.

With Mother’s earthly record for getting lost, I like to think St. Peter or another heavenly Sacagawea intercepted her journey to heaven.

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The Quartet did not want to go outside for their Noon potty break due to the rain. Generally, Chief will still go out, but the three females refuse unless I order them. Chief remained on his bed with no intention of moving outside. Finally, at 2 PM, I ordered them to go potty.

The rain appears to be hanging around and what a shame it has to join us on this 51-degree day. Tomorrow and Saturday it shall dip to the mid-30s before heading back through the 40s to the upper 50s by Wednesday and Thursday. However, rain is expected those several days.

Last evening, I returned to a project I had begun nearly one year ago. When I began working at The Park, I laid that project aside as I became interested in the story of The Barn Gang. The project originally focused on my great-grandmother, Mary Belle Jones Clary, as a young girl growing up in Boone Township of Madison County, Indiana. Our family farms of the Clary, Jones, Vinson, Ball, Greenlee, and Noble families were huddled around Forrestville Cemetery. The hamlet of Forrestville dissolved into the woods before the 1860s but the farms continued to prosper.

One day, as I sat at my desk, my hands seemed to be guided to tell a different story that focused not on Grandma Belle as a young girl, but on her mother, Anna Greenlee Jones. I set a framed photograph of Grandma Jones at my desk. Since last summer, I would glance over to the photograph, somewhat guiltily but with the mind I would return to her story. Four chapters are completed and last night, I compiled them into one file and used Microsoft Word’s immersive reader to listen to the 75 pages. By 3:30 AM, I was closing shop in my study so I could sleep. I rose before 7 AM to get the day going and to rejoin the folks of Boone Township. I am fortunate to have photos of all the characters and it is cool to see them come to life on the page and in my mind.

The afternoon schedule has been adjusted so the dogs can be fed at 3:30 PM. I need to get ready by 4:45 PM to head to dinner with Laura before attending Muse Machine’s production, THE LITTLE MERMAID. I have not seen the stage version and I am so excited to see it.

In the meantime, make it a great day!

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Elwood “Bud” Hillis

I was fortunate to know Congressman Hillis and always thought highly of him.

Elwood “Bud” Hillis

MARCH 6, 1926 – JANUARY 4, 2023
Obituary of Elwood "Bud" Hillis

IN THE CARE OFAllnutt Funeral Service – Drake Road Chapel

Elwood “Bud” Haynes Hillis, 96, of Windsor, CO passed away on Wednesday, January 4, 2023. Bud was born March 6, 1926 in Kokomo, IN to Glen R. and Bernice (Haynes) Hillis. He was the grandson of Elwood Haynes, auto pioneer and inventor of Haynes Stellite and stainless steel. His sister Margaret Hillis was a famed conductor and founder of the Chicago Symphony Chorus. 

Bud was raised in Kokomo, IN where he attended public school and later graduated from Culver Military Academy in 1944. He entered the US Army serving as a Second Lieutenant in the Occupation Forces in Germany, and retired from the Army Reserves as a Captain in 1954. After World War II, he attended Indiana University earning a bachelor’s degree in business in 1949 and completed a Juris Doctor in 1952. He was a member of Sigma Nu fraternity. In 1949 Bud married Carol Hoyne. They were married 66 years at the time of her passing in 2015.

Upon graduation from IU, he returned to Kokomo, IN and practiced law. Bud was an active alumnus of Indiana University. In 1982 he was given the Distinguished Alumni Service Award, and received an Honorary Doctor of Law Degree in 1998. Additionally, he served as a member of the IU-Kokomo Board of Advisors.

While living in Kokomo, IN Bud was active in many civic organizations including: the Salvation Army, YMCA, Red Cross, United Way, the Kokomo Housing Authority, and 50 year member of the Kokomo Rotary Club. He was also a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Kokomo, serving as an elder.

In 1966, Bud was elected to the Indiana House of Representatives, his entry into politics. He was subsequently re-elected 1968. In 1970, He was elected to the United States House of Representatives from Indiana’s 5th District, where he served eight terms, retiring in 1986. As a member of Congress he served on the Armed Forces Committee and the Veterans Affairs Committee. His service in Congress was marked by high dedication to his constituents of Indiana. Bud was known as a soft-spoken gentleman, well respected by all members in Congress. 

After retiring from Congress, Bud and Carol moved to Culver, Indiana where they lived for thirteen years. There Bud was a member of the Wesley United Methodist Church. He served as President of the Culver Military Academy Legion, and also served on the Marshall County Community Foundation. They then moved to Windsor Colorado to be closer to family, where Bud became a member of the First United Methodist Church.

Bud was twice named a Sagamore of the Wabash by Governors Bowen and Orr (IN). In 2001, Congress named the Kokomo Post Office “The Elwood Haynes ‘Bud’ Hillis Post Office” in his honour. Bud was an active pilot, avid skier, and enjoyed golf and hunting. He also enjoyed bicycling and participated in three bicycle tours in Europe. 

Bud is survived by two sons, Jeffrey H, Fort Collins, CO, Gary L (Debbie), Windsor, CO, three grandchildren, Faith (Ryan) Putnam, Severance, CO, Jared Hillis, Fort Collins, CO, Laura (Chris) Brazil, Fort Lauderdale, FL, and six great-grandchildren. He is also survived by a brother Joe, Lafayette, CA, two nephews and a niece. Bud is predeceased by his wife Carol, son Bradley R., sister Margaret and brother Robert.

The Hillis family would like to extend our gratitude to Columbine Commons in Windsor which was home to Bud for the last eight years of his life. The care that Bud received there will never be forgotten. We cannot thank all the Columbine Commons staff enough for the love and compassion that they showed.

Funeral services celebrating his life will be held on Saturday, January 14, 2023 at 11 a.m. at the Allnutt Funeral Drake Chapel in Fort Collins located at 650 W Drake Road. Reception to follow. Burial services in Indiana will be private.

PHOTO: with my grandparents and Congressman Hillis, July 1974.

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MY DAY: Hugs

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MY DAY: Goals for The Haasienda cleaning festival are complete

It’s nearing 10:30 PM and I believe I have completed my day of purging and reorganizing my study. My bedroom also got a good dose, too. I have purged, cleaned, and reorganized the front room, the kitchen, the front hall closet, my bedroom, and now, my study. The basement, second floor dorm room, and attic will be attacked later in the month.

It feels great!

Except for a two-hour dinner break with Mama Kay, I worked from 9 AM until 10 PM. I made twenty-four trips to the paper recycling bin and I’ve two more loads, yet. I did not get to my personal correspondence and hopefully, I can count on myself to do so before I commence with teaching tomorrow afternoon.

A huge slow-down for the purging process was going through all the papers to make certain nothing of importance was being tossed. With that process came a good deal of resurfacing memories.  Since childhood, I have tried to save every card and letter written to me by Mother, my maternal grandparents, and my great-aunt, Joyce Clary Riser. I ran across quite few today that I had forgotten about. These four souls are no longer with us, but I still have so much of them with me in several ways.

Most of my music library is reorganized and I hope that after ten years of things being in the same spot, I can easily retrieve items as needed.

My writing desk is prepped and ready for me to use it. It’s a large piece of work-furniture that I rescued from Brady & Amy Kress before they had it hauled off. It’s my version of the 19th Century Wooten desk. I have TONS of storage and can spread out all my research and writing materials.

It’s now 10:50 PM and I hope to capture some relaxing time to pleasure read or take in a documentary to which I can devote my full attention.

It was a great day!

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MY DAY: Friday evening

I’m making slow but sure progress on purging and reorganizing my study. Reorganizing the music library still awaits and I actually dread hitting that area of the study.

The pooches don’t have any room in the study and have been forced to remain in the round hall or Mt bedroom.

The front hall closet was completed in about 45 minutes and I am glad that minor chunk is out of the way. Tomorrow will be spent in completing the study and then dinner with Mama Kay & Co.

The weather has dipped into the thirties but is supposed to rise to the fifties by midweek before dipping down again.

I’ve planned two outings for Laura and I to see The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra’s tribute to Stephen Sondheim and Muse Machine’s THE LITTLE MERMAID. My senior student, Isabel Rawlins, is playing Ursula and I am eager to see her in this role. This past summer she played Mortician Addams in THE ADDAMS FAMILY along with Nick Abouzeid who played Lucas.

I plan to work a little longer before crawling into bed but I could also become more motivated with more steam. Tomorrow, I hope to also dig into returning personal correspondence to several folks.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: “A Carillon Christmas” comes to a close

This is the final evening for “A Carillon Christmas 2022” at Carillon Historical Park, and so far, it appears the rain may hold off so we can keep “The Midnight Express” train running tonight. Yay! The weather is wonderful with a current 60 degrees and a sunny sky!

I am relieved this long stretch of involvement is coming to an end but there’s also an element that is bittersweet for several reasons. I welcome the return to my former routine but I will miss the Guest Experience Team members with whom I spent so many hours, as well as The Transportation Center’s Volunteers, and hearing the thrilled and grateful comments from our Guests.

I am heading in early to prep popcorn as we are expecting a large turnout for the evening. I will work with Mary, and the Beavercreek High School siblings, Jason and Doris. We were a tight team last night and if the rainy weather holds off, I am certain we will bring the festival to a terrific close. Now, I just hope the hot chocolate machines cooperate.

I have so many things with which to attend before returning to private lesson teaching January 8th. I need to clean the house, purge so many areas I have either previously attempted or pushed aside, and get back to writing and researching. Throughout the festival, I have not had the energy to do any writing except for my blogs and I feel a bit creatively empty. I also need to locate some additional employment since January and February are quieter times for The Park. While my teaching takes care of my basic living, the extra finances are for medical needs and hopefully, savings for the rapidly advancing years.

It’s time to shower, dress, and hop aboard No. 17 to downtown. Yesterday was not the regular driver and it was so nice not to be anxious about making a connection. I am guessing my luck will not be the same, today. At 1:00 PM, the 2:04 PM arrival is still on schedule. We shall see how that lasts.

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: And what a day it was…

And just like that, “A Carillon Christmas 2022” has ended.

I spent 31 days in The Roundhouse Cafe for a total of 36 days of the entire festival. There was a little tug as I looked back upon leaving but what an experience I had. I was blessed with some terrific crew members, Volunteers, and Guests who truly made me laugh and enjoy life a little more. It was a terrific experience, too, to see families and friends enjoying their time at The Park.

Tonight, I was so lucky to work again with a regular staff member, Mary Linzmeier, and our brother and sister team from Beavercreek High School, Doris, and Jason. The rain held off until around 8:30 PM and as the crowds slowed down, we began packing up all the food items to the stock area. The cafe is in great shape, and ready for the deep cleaning next week.

My friend, Jim Beard, arrived and I got to spend some time with him.

The train operators passed by to bid farewell, and then it was time to leave.

I could not have done as much as I did without the capable Canine Crew of Beck Melin, Ian Melin, Daniel Breslin, Stephanie Mraz, and Ian Wintrow who faithfully attended to The Quartet with a small evening snack and a potty break. They were super! Mama Kay pinched hit several times, and if we went to lunch, drove me on over to The Park. I was incredibly blessed throughout the festival and I truly appreciate this crew.

My Monday students were kind enough to split up into Sundays and Tuesdays to accommodate me an additional day at The Park, making it a full five days. They were troopers and I appreciate their willingness to temporarily reschedule their lessons.

My London-based son was understanding about my need to rise at 7 AM to feed and potty the dogs and then return to sleep for another few hours, forgoing our Monday through Thursday Zoom chat. I also skipped out on several of our Sunday morning Zoom sessions between The Boys in London and Dave’s parents in Boston so I could steal away to my favorite breakfast and workstation for some “me” time.

It’s 12:15 PM and I am feeling the need to rest. I will try to accomplish some items around the house, tomorrow, and then dine with Mama Kay following 4:30 PM Mass. Sunday, to celebrate the new year, we will feast on pizza at Laura’s. I am looking forward to regaining time with some of my favorite people.

Here’s to the last day of 2022!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: “Auld lang syne”

This is my fifty-ninth new year’s evening. I don’t recall the first several years but by the age of five, I had become quite engaged with the whole affair. In the past decade or so, I have become less enamored with the festivities but not as introspective as one might believe me to be.

This morning I have read countless statements and memes on social media, complaining about what a horrible year it has been. Certainly, I believe it has been a year of unfortunate occurrences for many, but for me, it has been a year. Just another year where some days were better than others only in the end, I did my best to make it a great day, and in the end a great year.

The song “Auld Lang Syne” has become a traditional ballad to take into account the former year at the inauguration of the new year. Funerals, retirements, graduations, or other occasions of farewells, often incorporate the song. The closing ceremonies of The Louisiana Exposition or more commonly known as The 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, concluded with the vast crowd singing “Auld Lang Syne.”

Famed Scottish poet, Robert Burns wrote the poem in 1788, based on a Scottish folk song. Several translations of the title are “times long past,” “old times,” “long, long ago,” or “days gone by.” Some even believe the translation is “for the sake of old times.”  It has even been suggested, by Matthew Fitt, that “in the days of auld lang syne” is the equivalent of “once upon a time” in the retelling of fairy tales in Scottish.

Since 1799, after being set to a familiar melody, the song has become a standard.

As with many hymns or other songs, the first verse is always familiar but succeeding verses are neglected in memory. I love the closing three verses of “Auld Lang Syne” and I would like to highlight them.

We two have run about the hills

And pulled the daisies fine;

But we’ve wandered manys the weary foot

Since long, long ago.


We two have paddled in the stream,

From morning sun till dine;

But seas between us broad have roared

Since long, long ago.


And there’s a hand, my trusty friend!

And give us a hand of yours!

And we’ll take a deep draught of good-will

For long, long ago.


May each of you find the encouraging spirit and remembrances of 2022 as you make ready for the annual exchange to take place in less than twelve hours. And always – one day at a time, always make it a great day…

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: January 1st, 2023

On my first attempt to write the new year, I succeeded in writing 2023 and not 2022.

Upon waking this morning, I was heavily exhausted and after my Sunday morning ZoomFest with The London Boys, and my extended Boston family (Dave’s parents), I fell back to sleep, only waking at 11 AM to let the dogs out. When I returned to my bed I was watching a documentary on the life of President Gerald Ford. I was fully awake at 1:30 PM and not remembering watching the documentary.

MyYahoo mail is acting up and I am exasperated by this intrusion into my needs. It claims I am sending suspicious emails that are potentially SPAM. I am not! I have 27 emails to which I must respond and I continue to receive the message with every attempt. I am expected at Laura’s for a New Year’s day dinner within the hour and cannot attend to figuring this out. I am rather pissed!

Ahhh… well. I will not allow this to make me miss my footing as I step out into this new year.

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Sunday evening on Jany 1st

My Yahoo mail issue corrected itself upon opening after rebooting my computer… whew!

I had a wonderful time at Laura’s to celebrate the new year with Laura, Mama Kay, John & Janice Moore (Laura’s dad and stepmother), Joyce (Mama Kay’s niece), Jozi (Laura’s daughter), and Laura’s eldest daughter, Katrina, and her boyfriend, Dillon.

I am listening to a C-SPAN documentary’s presidential “Life Portrait” series on President Harry Truman. President Truman is one of my favorite anchors in United States history and this is a good episode from the series.

I am working on a few items and enjoying time with the pooches!

PHOTOS: The Quartet and the fish at China Cottage (not on the menu)

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Restoring balance

It’s now the third day since The Park’s festival ended and I am wrestling to reclaim my former daily schedule so that I might have that balance again. I return to teaching this Sunday and I had planned for this to be my rest and recovery week.

My goal for this week is to rest, read, regroup from pre-“A Carillon Christmas,” clean the house, and attend to the purging of each room throughout the house. Some rooms will be divided into portions, especially the kitchen and my study which is sorted into teaching, business, and writing/research. I calculate this to take two weeks. While I embark on this project, it is a formidable task.

When I launched this blog post, it was 11:45 AM and it is now moving close to 3:45 PM. I have allowed interruptions for tidying up in the kitchen, eating a late lunch, enjoying The Quartet, responding to several emails (there are quite a few in backlog), downloading and adding Windows 10 to my computer, writing a cover letter, and feeling like a stunned and crazed squirrel in traffic as I play this ridiculous, much-needed game of “catch-up.”

The 60-degree temperature is comfortable enough for shorts but very dreary. My Dark Sky weather app was dissolved, and I am getting used to my new The Weather Channel app. With Dark Sky, it concentrated on my area; TWC tends to expand coverage to areas that don’t affect me.

I need to make a list of things to conquer so I am not wandering aimlessly through what I wish to achieve this week.

Make it a great day!

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MY DAY: Wednesday after 6 PM

My plan this morning, after feeding and pottying the pups, and eating breakfast while Zooming with my son, was to move into the living room at 9 AM to begin the purging and cleaning with a time allotment of two hours.

Well, I am thinking I fell asleep during the 7:15 AM Zoom session as I don’t remember much after about ten minutes of chatting. I did wake at 11 AM, still sitting up with my laptop on the hospital table in front of me.

By 11 AM, my schedule indicated I should be working in the kitchen for two hours with a three-hour break following.

Well, since I had already abused my intended schedule, I grabbed No. 17 to downtown where I dined at my favorite Chinese buffet haunt, moving through the Oregon District to take photos.

Back at The Haasienda, I ended up taking a nap from 3 PM – 4:15 PM! I fed the dogs, blew some of the leaves in the front yard, and at 5 PM, I began the living room tackle. Well, three bookcases are now purged of books I do not need, read, or want. There are some books I have had since childhood but if they are taken to 2nd & Charles Bookstore at Town & Country, I hope another child might find delight in them.

I scheduled myself in the front room (it’s really the house’s living room but it is only used for a studio lesson waiting room) from 6 – 8 PM so I am actually ahead of schedule but still have a good deal to go in the room that replicates Thomas Jefferson’s idea of a showcase of his interests in the front hall of Monticello. My entrance room displays my love for President & Mrs. Lincoln, The Wright Brothers, The White House, and The Presidents. One wall also shares my passion for photography with some photos that were taken 25+ years ago.

My break is over. Be assured I have made it a great day!

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Thursday in the kitchen

The room I like the least was the place that dominated my time most, today. I began an hour later than I intended, thinking I would only be off that one hour for the two hours I would be purging. Well, the purging was fine but the “well, I had better clean this while I am here” took over and by 3:30 PM, I was wrapping up that detested adventure of purging, cleaning, and reorganizing. The counters are cleared, except for what I need, and I even made it a little homier with some floral touches.

There was a rearranging of the schedule and tonight when I finish a Zoom call with a friend, I will tackle my writing desk. All my Mary Lincoln books were returned to the front room and now occupy the bookcase my parents purchased with my 1969 set of World Book Encyclopedias. Now, it’s just a matter of reorganizing.

The study will be a challenge as I never know what I am going to need and fear the minute something is tossed, I will need it for a lesson. The front room has a number of boxed books, ready to head to 2nd & Charles Bookstore. Then, it’s my bedroom on the main floor with the front hall closet and the second-floor bedroom. I am thinking about holding off on the basement and attic for a month or so.

And with that, it’s time for a nap! A well-deserved nap!

Make it a great day, if you have not done so already.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: The old dog’s old tricks

I have always prided myself on being an old dog that is capable of being taught new tricks but abandoning my “A Carillon Christmas” sleep schedule has been a feat I’ve not yet tackled.

I woke promptly at 7 AM, fed and pottied the dogs, drank a cup of coffee, and fell right back to sleep. I had scheduled myself to begin working on the front hall closet at 9 AM and here it is Noon and I’ve been awake since 11 AM. Rats! I have been working long into the evening so I guess that’s what I shall be doing for today’s schedule.

Kristine Comunale gave me this nifty dog calendar for Christmas and the first photo, December 31st, looked just like Bailey who is my very own pillow snuggler.

My goal is to post a photo each day; however, it may be short-lived as I often forget about these things. I’ve only watched a handful of television series all the way through.

On with my day. Make it a great day!

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THE FAMILY ALBUM: Books from almost 50 years ago

While purging through so many books in my front room, I ran across three books with significant attachments.

The Lincoln book was purchased in 1974 and at some point, my sister, Dena, 8 1/2 years younger than me, decided to add her own artwork to the front.

The Founding Fathers book was purchased in 1973 and at the very top you can faintly see my signature.

In 1974, while traveling to Norfolk, Virginia, to see my uncle in the Navy, my grandparents and I stopped at Monticello, my very first visit to Thomas Jefferson’s home. I purchased this book from the gift shop.

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MY DAY: The Quartet

It’s a lazy rainy day at The Haasienda.

Harrigan, after I’ve made my bed, always rearranged the pillows on my bed for her sleeping throne. She always unfolds and fixes the blankets, too.

Erma is such a joy.

My pal, Chief, is always near my side.

And, Bailey couldn’t even look up for her photo.

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MAKE IT A GREAT DAY: Taco Tuesday and Coffee

There is a steady rain against a backdrop of dull, gray skies and 61 degrees which intends to climb only two more notches by the afternoon.

I promptly woke at 6:50 AM after seven hours of uninterrupted sleep – save when Bailey rose to get comfortable while burrowed next to my chest. The dogs were fed and pottied within ten minutes and then I was Zooming with my son in London over my breakfast and his lunch.

I asked Josh’s view on how to improve my coffee’s flavor. I vacillate between Folgers and Maxwell House simply because they are affordable and not fluffed up with various flavors.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I do love flavored coffee that’s not an astronomical expense as I tend to avoid branded coffee stores. Aside from a few specialty coffee purchases at Tuesday Mornings, I am a basic coffee guy. However, my coffee just never has an uplifting flavor.

Several years back, the Melin family gave me a pour-over that I love and use once or twice throughout the week. They also gifted me a Braun coffee maker which is wonderful. I just need to find the right coffee. I am not interested in a French press like Josh and Dave have, nor any of their luxurious coffee. I am not knowledgeable enough about the art of coffee making and it’s not a topic I wish to embed myself. I just want my coffee, like many of my home-prepared meals, to be more enjoyable. I suppose I need to be more passionate about coffee making and cooking. Alas, I am not as I find both to be uninteresting and a waste of time.

This morning, I am working on purging and reorganizing my study. I have a Zoom appointment/interview at 11 AM, and then I will join Mama Kay and several others for Taco Tuesday at El Toro, our weekly haunt. I had exchanged a holiday-schedule night off from teaching for December 20th so I could be at The Park for the last push to Christmas; therefore, I will get to see some regular Tuesday students this afternoon and evening. I won’t Zoom with my Wyoming and California students as I was home early enough on December 20th to have lessons.

On with the purging and organizing… and figuring out how to enjoy my own coffee.

Make it a great day!

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