Saturday, April 28, 2012

Choir Connection

My last blog was about the “connection” of music, and even if we are not musicians per se, how the connection is still there and a message is placed in our subconscious through music, whether we realize it or not.

Do you remember a “first song?” I know we had the nursery songs, Christmas carols and other children’s songs in our home. My mother played Tchaikovsky, and I danced to it as a pre-schooler. I was exposed to all types of music. My parents told me the first song I SANG was “Let Me Go, Lover,” recorded by Joan Weber.,_Lover! My version was “Emme go, emme go, emme go, yuver!”

But the first song I remember hearing on the radio was “Tammy,” by Debbie Reynolds. I still smile when I hear that song. I considered the name Tammy Gail (my middle name) for my child. It didn’t pass muster with my school-teacher husband. (It is very difficult to name children when you are married to a teacher. You find something you both like, and you yell “SOLD!”)

I took piano lessons for two years when I was seven. When I was about nine and my brother seven, we learned to play the ukulele and my parents bought him a wonderful junior guitar. Ben could not see well; so he could hear and play. He was very gifted for a seven-year-old. We could both sing.

When I was about nine, the “Hootenanny” era was launched on Saturday night TV. My aunt was in college, my cousins were in high school and junior high, and we all played and sang folk music. Even today I can listen to the Limeliters, the Kingston Trio or Peter, Paul and Mary for hours! We knew ALL the songs and we traded around the records, and when we got together; be it Christmas or any other time of the year, we WERE “Hootenanny.” I knew even then I was singing harmony, so by the time I got to organized music in school, I easily slipped into the second soprano role.

I sang in junior high and in my freshman year (remember we were not at the high school in those days, although these were high school credits) I sang in choir and also a select group of 16 women’s voices, where we sang some specialty music in a SSA format. In that group, I was also “in the middle.”

When I moved to high school, I became involved with an excellent music program. I was in the Concert Choir my sophomore year (I call it the training choir because that’s what it was educationally) and then made the top choir, the A Cappella Choir my junior year. During these years, I was excellently taught skills that remain with me even now, although my talent and my ear is slipping; I still know how to breathe and what good diction is supposed to be, even though I can slip up there also
The friends that I made in high school choir were like no other. To this day, there is a special connection with all of us. Our memories of the music, the travel to competitions and just the being together during third period every day stay with us.

Because my high school director was also my church music director, I got it from both ends. I was not allowed to sing in church choir until I had made A Cappella Choir in school. The training had to be there first. I have probably said to every church choir director I have ever had, “What I lack in talent, I make up for in training.”

This is my senior year, 1971. I am in the front row.
Seventh from the left.
In those days, much of our music was scripture-based; and that was my first experience with scripture memorization. I went to church, make no mistake about that, but I was never involved in a scripture memory program per se. Most of us in my graduating class can quote Revelation Chapter One verbatim, and we know why! It was our state competition required piece.

I sang in Wright State’s Choir my freshman year, but it was such a step down that it was a little frustrating, and once I was on the fast track to graduate in three years, I did not have time for that. I still sang at church. I sang in a church choir when I moved to Columbus for a year. I sang when I got home to Fairborn. In fact, the only real breaks in my life were my early marriage, then again after I had my first baby, and from 2002-2007, when Joel was a three-sport athlete. I never doubted my return, however.

I have actually sung with my present choir director in two different churches, so I am pretty comfortable with him. We have talked about this, but it seems like churches are “aging out” of choirs. This makes me sad. I am just surmising here, I don’t really know this for a fact; but it seems that the younger people are not coming out of their high school and college choral programs with a vision for choir in their churches.

2011 Christmas Program
Front row, second from right.
We have praise teams now. I LIKE being on a praise team! It offers me a different sort of expression for music. There’s a little more “wiggle room” for me as an alto, because I am the only one singing that part, and if I go off-path a little (and I AM rebellious!), as long as it’s within the harmony of the piece, it’s OK!

However, I still like choir! I also like more contemporary music than I sang in high school, but that’s my personal choice. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had, and the ability to appreciate the classical pieces.

Today, I think of my role as that of “worship leader,” not performer; and I just love pieces that offer “audience participation.” OK, I will get spiritual now and say “congregation and choir participation.” After all, it’s always for the Audience of One!

I would LOVE to hear from my readers as to how music impacts their lives! To comment, you do not have to have a google or other account. You can choose “anonymous” and write your comment. Please sign your name and anything else of pertinence. I don’t even have to give permissions to comment, although I would remove anything inappropriate. So far that has never been an issue!

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Power of Music!

One of the strongest “connections” in life is what music brings to our experience. I see this blog as a two-parter (at least!), the first being about music in general; and the second being about my personal experience, and encouraging others to comment on their experience.

So, the first thing I did was google “music quotes” and we could spend a day there, but I will share a few.

“If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music.” 
Albert Einstein

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” 
Victor Hugo, William Shakespeare

 “Life, he realized, was much like a song. In the beginning there is mystery, in the end there is confirmation, but it's in the middle where all the emotion resides to make the whole thing worthwhile.” 
Nicholas Sparks, The Last Song

“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination
and life to everything.” 

“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.” 
Leonard Bernstein

Ok, so there’s a variety!

I don’t think I am very profound by saying that music speaks to our soul. It reaches into the subconscious and places thoughts there forever. That is why we craft the content that is important to us into little children’s songs, and teach them before the children know what they are learning. Whether it be nursery rhymes, Bible verses, or my personal favorite “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” we teach through music.

As adults, as OLDER adults, how much of life comes back to us through a song? How many times can we virtually “go back” to a certain place when we hear a song? Even….if it’s a stupid song, by our standards of today. We remember all the words and the nuances of the songs of our youth, and that’s why we teach the young in song, because they WILL remember!

Music soothes us when we need soothing; it energizes us when we need energizing. Who among us cannot sing their high school “fight” song?  We pump high-energy music into our fitness centers to “pump us up” literally. Then there are those quiet moments when we are just sitting (or laying) and listening, and letting the music “fill” us.

However, I think there can be over-saturation. I have mentioned before that I want to eat in a restaurant with music played softly enough that we can have a conversation over it. We have music blaring at us in every retail establishment all…the…time.  There are times I just want the quiet. There are other times (I am alone) that I am cranking it up while I am driving with the windows open in my car. This would be in the country; I have never broken a municipality noise ordinance!

Music is something that impacts us at every age, at every stage of life, although our tastes do change.  Our circumstances change and a song that meant nothing to us previously, means something now; or vice versa.

My husband played alto sax in the high school band. He prefers instrumental music. But even as we listen to an instrumental arrangement of any given song, we remember the words, or most of them. That’s what comes through to us in our conscious mind. I have sung in choirs almost all of my life, so I prefer the vocal music. I just gotta SING!

I will share my personal experiences tomorrow. Meanwhile, what’s on YOUR  iPod?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I'm Wearing a New Size!

So I have been at this for about 8 weeks and I have flat-lined on the scales, BUT I must be building muscle, which we all know weighs more than fat, right? Well, that’s my story and I am sticking to it!

I am so religious about documenting the calories and the exercise, that there is no reason for the flat line, but I am taking heart. It is not all about the scales.

While I want to be concerned with all areas of the body; right now I am interested in my abdominal area because I have two weddings coming up in May and I want to look good in my clothes. I have not purchased new dresses, because I don’t need them! However, I want to look very fine in the ones I have. I did get a new pair of shoes, but they were needed.

"The bin" in my closet.
BUT……TODAY, I am washing up some clothes that have been in “the bin” for about 3 years. The reason they are in “the bin” is because I buy LL Bean clothes. I don’t have TONS of clothes but I buy good stuff. LL Bean has sales; you need to know how to work it. So, my smaller sized-clothes are all good quality stuff and to me, it’s like new!

The top half of me is not going to change much in terms of size range. Oh, some things will look differently; but overall, it is what it is. It’s the bottom half that is changing and will continue to, slowly but surely.  That’s why “the bin” is so important. It has the next size down in it.

It is interesting to me that such-and-such size is not the same with every garment. Jeans, for example, are not all equal! I got out a jeans skirt today that is a full size smaller than the pants I am pulling into and I can get into the skirt! I have no idea why, but I really don’t care. Clean and pressed up (or tossed in the dryer as the case may be) it’s all good!

But the main event for me today is that my summer LL Bean twill capris FIT! I have not worn them in three years. They are just a cut above the other clothes I wear and I am soooo excited to be able to get into them! Jeans are jeans and no one even recognizes that you have another pair on. But these are nice and I will be able to make a nice outfit with them. This is fun!

I continue to exercise six days a week. My husband has given Ms. Amy permission to abuse me for six sessions of personal training. She will do that, and it will jump-start another phase of this process for the long haul. We’ll get there!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

How Did I Get This Way?

My last blog was about my joining a fitness club. I know this is a good thing for me. I want to enter my seventh decade healthier and fitter than I am right now. I also want to look better than I do right now for my son’s wedding in 8 months.

I was doing well; exercising daily, or almost and eating less and it showed on the scales and it showed in how my clothes fit. This is fun, I thought. I like this.

Then I joined a class. This particular class is called a “Total Body Toning” class, which mixes the use of weights, stretching, a little Pilates thrown in there, for a total experience of moving all the muscle groups.

Yeah. It’s killing me.

I recognize that my left shoulder is not strong and although I expect some improvement, it’s not going to be totally well. I have arthritis in both knees, and I am battling the plantar fasciitis right now. I know that I cannot bend like the other women and I am favoring the left foot; but I am very surprised at how much shoulder weakness affects other body parts, and parts of parts.

The thing that gets me the most is that 25 years and 50 pounds ago, I was LEADING classes that were similar enough to make a comparison. WHAAAAAT happened?

I am not able to do things that I was quite capable of doing before. How did this happen when I was not looking?

I had a meeting with the fitness instructor, and we talked about goals, lifestyles and my history (and meds, yes).  I had exercised regularly with a group from church in Fairborn from 1986 until 1993 and after my move to Mad River Township, I was further away and it just didn’t happen. Kids got more involved with “stuff” and I never found that replacement that I needed. I began working full-time in 1999, and by then, I was just trying to meet myself coming and going and felt that was a good day. Fitness was put on the back burner.

The scales crept up, I had three bouts of plantar fasciitis that added about 10 lbs. each and I just didn’t pay attention to me. And now, here I am in my late 50s, and I want to fix this, but it is not easily fixable. It will take time.

When I think of my original group in 1986; it was a group of women who had small children, and we attended, or were associated with, a church. We met four times a week, Monday and Wednesday mornings and Tuesday and Thursday evenings. I didn’t usually make it all four times, but there were options. We used the same VHS tape series, and everyone worked together. This was a group that in a military town, the ladies moved in and out of our group over the years, but we were close-knit.

We even had cute t-shirts made!
I have no idea why we had two colors!
It was started by a military wife who lived here from 1986 until 1989, and the group carried on for several years beyond her moving on in her life. She was pregnant when starting the group; now there’s a committed woman! Once it got rolling though, we all took leadership roles from time to time. I was one of several women who led the group. I was in shape and flexible. I was never “thin” but I was fit. I always felt that I represented the less-than-perfect aerobics class leader, the counter-balance to the skinny “perfect” leader.

Because we met in a church, we had a short devotional and prayer time. There is no doubt that this contributed to the feeling of “connectedness” within the group. It was special. We babysat for each other, and socialized in other situations.

Well, that was then and this is now. I really have to get to work. Without a doubt, there will be new connections made at the fitness club, as we all try to better ourselves, live longer, healthier lives and hopefully take fewer medicines as we age.

This is going to take awhile. I look forward to documenting my journey as I go. I hope you will join me!

As a postscript, and this is not a new idea, we all need to remember to take care of ourselves. This problem (in my case weight gain, but fill in other issues) escalated during the years that I was everything to everybody and I was NOT taking care of myself. We women need to get a grip on this! You know those instructions that they give you on the airplane; to put the oxygen mask on yourself, before you help your children? It goes completely against our grain, but it is necessary! Take care of yourself!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Joining a Fitness Club!

When talking about “connection” and “community,” the two terms are bound to overlap somewhat. I can think of individuals who are “connected” to me in more than one way. We make our “lists” on Facebook, but I am thinking deeper. For instance, someone could be a part of our life in different “eras.” The most notable of those for me as I write this is my friend from high school who is ALSO my employer. Perhaps she might also be a member of my church (she isn’t) or another organization.

You are probably asking, “What does all of this have to do with joining a fitness club?” and here is what I am trying to say: the content of this blog brings together content from (at least) two other blogs, “It Does Take a Village” and “Greenacres Alumni.” The issues of connection cross decades of life, interests of life, and places in which those connections occur.

I joined Legacy Fitness because I knew I needed to do something about my mortal body. There was too much of me to love! As gas prices rise, it is close to my house, and there is so much to do there that I knew I could find something that would work for me. The price is reasonable, and it includes classes, relationships with personal trainers and a nutritionist. I really do not need anything else.

It is a “club.” (Enter “Greenacres Alumni”) It is NOT open to the public and I am a “member.” As members, we take more ownership of the facility. Members clean up after themselves and if there ever is a “project” that needs done—the place is new now but someday there will be something—the members will pitch in as able. Members relate to one another differently in a club as opposed to something that just exists for one thing and is there to make money!

It is also a “community.” (Enter “It Does Take a Village”) While we are not snobs, and would welcome members from nearby communities, this is mostly people from Enon and those of Enon who have Fairborn addresses, such as Holiday Valley and Hunter’s Glen.  I live on the boundary of Fairborn and pay Fairborn taxes, but I am closer geographically than many of those in the Enon area.

These are the people you see at the community festivals and activities. These are the people who see at a sporting event, or at church. I am already friends with many on Facebook; some have taught my children.

So, while we are there “for a purpose,” most definitely, we also support each other in community. I have never seen any type of negativity in staff or members, I have actually been told “Don’t do that one, Denise” as we moved through the equipment. I have learned, and find this of great importance, that ALL of us have something wrong going on. It may be temporary or permanent, and it doesn’t seem to have anything to do with age at times. People recognize that in me and in others, and no “pushing” is going on that might hurt anyone. Right now my foot hurts. A lot. We all know it’s (hopefully) a temporary situation, but I am working through the pain and stopping when I have to. I also have a problem with my shoulder which limits what I can do with the top half of my body.

So, we do other stuff; circuit training, core training and bike-riding instead of walking on a treadmill. (My knees said “NOOOOOO!” to the elliptical immediately!) But I am keeping on, encouraged by staff and other members.

There are and will be special events. I hope to take advantage of as many of these as possible. I have encouraged some people to join and I will continue to do this. The club offers MUCH for the money! If you are interested, PLEASE contact me. I will go with you!

Tomorrow: HOW Did I Get This Way?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Next Generation: One Generation

The early years--singing for the
family at the summer reunion.
All of my nephews and nieces are very special to me. When I think of them and how they are carrying on in “The Next Generation,” I am so extremely proud of how they are living life and training the NEXT generation!

This blog is about my two nephews, Scott and Danny Miller. They were in a high school show choir that was incredible! Think Choraliers on steroids, but NOT Glee! Everything was well done, and never hinted of impropriety.  

Jerry and I were only able to see them a few times; I do remember a competition in Piqua we were able to attend. They were from Fort Wayne, Indiana. (Every time we were all together, we watched VHS tapes of shows we were unable to see. We got my sister-in-law back with football tapes later!)

I believe this was taken at the
Rockford OH church.
When they went to Huntington College in Indiana, one summer they travelled in a “troupe” that represented the college in local churches. It was a well done presentation and of course I was very proud of them.

Later, they formed an a cappella quartet and called themselves “One Generation.” Their inspirational verse was Psalm 145:4 “One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.” This quartet travelled in the summers, representing the college and selling the CDs they recorded. The closest they got to Fairborn was Rockford OH, which is northwest of Celina. We went, of course.

I particularly remember a performance in Fort Wayne where Scott proposed to his girlfriend (who he had met in high school show choir). You would THINK Kate would have been suspicious, when the ENTIRE family showed up! The expression on her face was priceless!

In South Carolina
After college (they were three years apart in school), they competed in a national quartet competition, and were scouted by a producer and offered a job singing in a Branson-style show in South Carolina.They did a two-month run in a Christmas show headlining Steve Gatlin of the the Gatlin brothers, then came home to their wives. For some time after that, there was talk of pursuing a full-time singing career, but members of the group were never on the same page at the same time. So while they've gone the family and stable career route, they continue to be active in music and ministry and enjoy singing together whenever they can. Scott is an accountant and Danny a chiropractor. Between them, they have five children who Great-Uncle Jerry and Great-Aunt Denise dote upon.

Scott and Danny sang in Jessica’s wedding. I knew they were good. The pianist (who had worked with me in the church in which the wedding was held) had heard their CDs. She knew what she was getting. But the sound engineer and those at the wedding were stunned. WHERE did I find those voices?

As with all weddings, things are changed up at the last minute and we had a few things happen that upset me a little. But Scott, Danny and the pianist Cherri came to the rehearsal dinner late—they had made some changes in the music. I did not worry about this; I knew it would be fabulous! The wedding was held at 11:30 AM and we were at the church about 9:30 and they were rehearsing again, as I snuck in to listen. Oh, this was going to be good!

The mother-of-the-bride is supposed to be crying because she is losing her baby. I wasn’t feeling that way at all because she was marrying such a fabulous man and was embarking on a life we had prepared her for. But as I came down the aisle to my nephews singing “You Raise Me Up,” I could hardly hold it together. I was SOOOO proud of them!

They are in their mid-thirties now, raising, with their lovely wives, children ranging from 5-10. They are passing on the torch of faith and music to the NEXT generation. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

P.S. Stacie Miller (Mrs. Danny) has a blog which I follow, called "Beautiful Things." Check her out! We bloggers gotta stick together!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Next Generation: My Kids' Friends: Jake

There’s a whole population of “connections” that I have hinted upon but not actually written about. That is the people who are “friends of your children.” Some time ago, I mentioned that I joined Facebook to keep up with my son’s high school friends as they went off to college. My second “friend” is going to be best man in Joel’s wedding. He is planning to “guest blog” in the future. Stay tuned for that!

I loved kids, and I loved almost all the kids. Our home was a place to hang out. I was never able to “feed” them the way some mothers do, but we had the square footage and the door was always open. I remember one particular night: my mother was visiting from Florida, and we had Joel’s church youth group in the family room and Jerry counseling a neighbor kid about running away from home in the living room. I thought, “Mom must seriously think we are nuts around here,” and then realized that this was EXACTLY the type of home I was raised in! We were simply carrying on the tradition.

It was 2001, a reunion year for us. I had the yearbook out and was perusing several things. Jake, a track buddy of Jessica’s, was in the den. He had just graduated or maybe was about to graduate, I am not sure. I was checking Tommy Preston’s school record in the two mile. I asked Jake what his record was and it was considerably shorter!

Although Jacob made state in cross country for three years in high school, his senior year was his pinnacle. The joke around our house was “Jake, I was reading the newspaper this morning……and YOU WEREN’T IN IT!” He had won the state championship in cross country in the fall, won every race he was in that year, and won the mile (1600 meter) at state in the spring in track. He was second in a close race for the 800 meter, and came in dead last (16th) in the two-mile immediately after that race. The body can only do so much, but he was cheered more at that finish than the winner of the race. Track people knew what it took to rebound from another race and they respected the accomplishment. Most athletes focus on one race at the state level—Jake took on all three.

He ran all the time, all year long. We lived in the country and he ran in the country. Most often he ran alone. You could tell it was Jake from afar, I guess I just got used to his body and his form. Even today, when there are fine younger runners running, I feel like something is missing, even though I am sure he is running where he is.

It has been said that (all sports) running is mostly mental. Jake ran a mental race. He was a complete tease. He knew exactly what he had to do to kick it in at the end of the race. I watched so many that I could almost feel that kick myself, at the least I learned and knew it when was going to happen. At the state mile, he messed with my mind, but in the end, he kicked it in easily. Our entire family had gotten up to witness this at Welcome Stadium at 8:30 AM. Crazy people!

His junior year he was the anchor of a 4 by 400 meter relay team that went to regionals. Those guys were fun to watch. Although all schools compete with schools of their own size, it is difficult to put together four good 400 meter runners. The 400 isn’t a sprint and isn’t distance; it’s a long sprint. It’s hard on the runner. I remember one of the kids was an exchange student. They were all good and Jake brought it home. I wish they could have gone further, but sport is sport.

Jake went to Ohio State and ran there, and we followed him somewhat. Then we lost track (pun really not intended, but it’s cute!) and he moved to California. He is now working at a zoo and loves it. Who would have thought?

Jake let me hold his certificate for this
picture, taken by Jim Delong.
This year I was sent an email about a new thing: the Greenon Athletic Hall of Fame. This was about only one thing, athletic achievement, and although Jake was a scholar-athlete and “Knight of the Year,” which is a big deal to the students, this was only about athletic achievement. The letter asked me to nominate. Having not attended Greenon, I was somewhat taken back; but then I thought, this was truly a no-brainer. Jacob should be at the top of the list; a state champ in two sports in one year. This is not done.

He was selected and the induction was set for Feb 10th. He flew home from California and joined the others who were to be inducted between the Junior Varsity and Varsity Men’s basketball games that evening.  His inspiration for the evening was 2 Timothy 4:7 “ I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”  I was honored to be there, and we had a good time of catching up on all the old stories.

As an aside to my classmates, one of the top distance runners that year was Gary Wright’s nephew, a fine young man from Northwestern High School in Clark County. I sat with his mother Karen at many a meet. He wrote an article about “always being in second-place” or something like that, and it was wonderful. I wish I could get my hands on it. It was about the character-building situation of always being second and knowing you could not beat this guy, no matter how hard you worked. 

Jake remained undefeated. No male in Clark County has repeated this feat of state championships in two sports in one school year since. I wish him well.

The Next Generation

This is a topic that can be woven in and out of life. I tried to keep the Aging Issues together; that is not to say there will never be another blog on the topic, for the time being I am finished with that. 
I have begun thinking about this topic of "The Next Generation," and my connections with people that are younger than I. None of these will be published without complete approval of the person(s) involved. It is my conviction that my blog is my story; and when I bring others into it, there are no surprises to anyone!

I have a blog ready to go about a track teammate of my daughter's and my nominating him for a newly-formed Athletic Hall of Fame. He has read it, he LOVES it and it's ready to go.

The young man who will be my son's best man is planning to guest blog. It surprises me, and pleases me, that he gets something out of my blog. My own kids ignore it. Whatever story he plans to tell will be run past my son if it involves him. I know it will be well-written, and who knows, we may launch another blogger!

I am working on something about a good friend's daughter and the relationship we have had as she grew up, and now is a mother of three.

I can see where this topic can take me all kinds of places. As an older mother, I have always been with younger folks in rearing my children. I think this has kept me young in some ways. I think it's good to have young friends. I think it's great to be friends with your kids and in-laws, and grandchildren someday; but it's also nice to have friends of the next generation that are just......friends. Not co-workers, not family, just friends!

My grandmother always told me to have younger friends, as you will need them if you outlive all your peers. She was 82 when she died, and was as young-at-heart as anyone I ever knew.

Let's see what's next!

Tomorrow: Jake!

Thursday, April 12, 2012


There are some things we just....say. Some of these are passed on from one generation to another. My son, who is not particularly interested in English and grammar, has always been interested in the idioms I repeat. I believe his favorite (at least I say it often enough!) is "six of one and half a dozen of the other." No one has to explain what that means, we just say it.

An idiom is a phrase where the words together have a meaning that is different from the dictionary definitions of the individual words. They are culturally relative. Some of the idioms we use today have their roots in far yesteryear.

So, I got to thinking, not about idioms in general, but statements that reflect an event in time as I have grown older. These statements don't have to be explained. I got some help from my Facebook friends. They had some great "quotes," but I was looking for quotes that had something to do with American culture, that have worked themselves into our popular vernacular. 

Many were movie quotes, and that was OK, but I wanted movie quotes that everyone could relate to, even me, who does not go to many movies.

1. Don't drink the kool-aid. (circa 1978)

2. "Life was (is) like a box of chocolates." (circa 1994) Even if you have not seen Forrest Gump, you recognize this quote.

3. Anything "post 9/11."

4. .....A "bucket list." (circa 2007) Having one, referring to one.

5. Yada, yada, yada.....(circa 1997) Originated from Seinfeld, but used in many instances.

6. "I don't think we are in Kansas anymore." (circa 1939) The Wizard of Oz. Older, but timeless.  Can be used in a variety of meanings, none of which are geographic.

7. "Where's the beef?" (circa 1984) The Wendy's commercial. Again, can be used in a variety of situations.

8. "Go ahead....make my day!" (circa 1983) from the movie Sudden Impact. I dare you!

9. "Catch 22" (circa 1961) Guess we should read the book again :)

10. "May the force be with you!" (circa 1977 and beyond) Star Wars I through ?????

11. "Houston, we have a problem...." (circa 1995) Apollo 13

and my personal favorite:

12. "Citizen's arrest"

I thank my friends for their help. Some didn't meet the criteria I was looking for, but were still hilarious. I invite anyone to comment below and add to the list.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Camping: A Total Bonding Experience

So……a friend of mine and I were talking about camping and this entry is spawned!

I remember doing church camping weekend as a teen. Debbie (my boss) went with us. We slept in a two person pup tent. It was nice weather and we had a good time. I went to church (kids) camp every year for five years. And that was my experience with camping.

Then I married a Biology teacher, to which camping was a way of life. The summer after we were married, we took a two-week trip on $400. Camping was a large part of it; that kept the cost reasonable. We camped in Pensacola, Florida; Homestead, Florida and the Smoky Mountains. Each place had its own ambiance. 

In Pensacola, there was a hurricane brewing in the gulf. It was windy. I thought it would surely come ashore that night! Our tent blew down, I was hysterical and Jerry was trying to put it back up, wearing only his underwear. It was about midnight and there were several RVs nearby, where people were still up, playing cards or something. This had to have been humorous for them. Perhaps they are writing about us in another blog someplace. Our marriage survived this night.

1991--we would have been in a
motel this year!
Homestead was lovely, though hot. But by the time we got to the Smokies, I was in love. We camped in Tremont, which is pretty primitive, but it was just gorgeous. We love the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Tremont does have showers. Showers are important to me.

As the years went by, we camped in Pigeon Forge, and several times in the Smokies. Enter children: we got motels for a few years. I do not camp with small children. In 1994, when I had a five-year-old and a ten-year-old, we decided to give tent camping a try with them in Cades Cove. Cades Cove is one of my most favorite places in the world, as illustrated by the print over my bed. However, there are no showers in the campground.

In 1994, I was still menstruating. I felt it “coming on” on the drive through Kentucky. “Oh, no,” I thought. (Actually I was thinking something else, but this is a family blog). I still cramped a lot. This was not going to be fun. Then, it rained for 18 SOLID HOURS. We slept (using the term loosely) in rain; and went shopping at a mall, and to one of the caves, just to get out of the rain. Needlesstosay, there was no tubing on the Little River that year. It just was not fun. I think we went to my brother's in Atlanta a day early.

In 1995, we gave it another try. I had a six-year-old and an eleven-year-old. This was really a good age for camping. However, when my son threw up on me in a tent in the middle of the night, I looked sweetly into the eyes of the Love of My Life and said, “Dear, this is my LAST night camping, for the rest of my natural life!” I took the children and settled them into the van. I did not care what the Love of My Life was doing, but as we have already established, he can sleep standing on his head. The next day we went to a laundry, and then headed to Chez Kline in Atlanta where I could relax.

Jess on a camping trip
with girlfriends in 2010
After that year, we rented cabins.

I have regretted not taking more “real” trips; but my daughter has assured me that these camping trips made great memories. My son says “I was ten years old before I realized that OTHER people did not go on ‘nature hikes’ on their vacations.”

Camping does create a bond in families unlike any other. It takes away all the other distractions of life, and just leaves you....with each other. Whether you are with a church group, scouts, or it's just your immediate family, it's a special time of interacting and bonding.

As adults, my daughter still likes to camp. She has her father’s genes. My son likes Las Vegas.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Volunteers

Once again, I read the obituary of one of my volunteers at Covenant Presbyterian Church. She happened to be on the “newsletter mailing” crew. This group collated and prepped a mass mailing for me every month. This was in 2002-2003. This week my friend died at the age of 96.

Covenant Presbyterian
Church, Springfield OH
In several of my jobs, it has been my privilege to “manage” volunteers. That’s what we say professionally on our resumes. In reality, they were my friends. I don’t know what I would have done without them. In Springfield, where I worked with people at Covenant and the Springfield Museum of Art, there was some overlapping that went on also! Anyone who thinks Springfield is a mid-sized city doesn’t know Springfield. Everyone knows everyone.

At Covenant, I had the mailing crew, and I had a small group of people who relieved me in the middle of the day so I could have a lunch break or run errands. The mailing crew was all born in July except one, so you can imagine how the July mailing went. I baked a cake and we had a party! What fun we had every month! We visited while we worked.

My lunchtime buddies were more one-on-one with me. They were the volunteers who came into the office to answer the phone so that I could have a lunch break. One of them, Lee, had a son who I later worked with on the Board of the museum. I attended her funeral several years ago. Another lady, Sara, let me drive her car as I ran my own personal errand! I couldn’t believe it. She died last year. I was unable to make her memorial service because of an emergency at my present job. Another died recently and I could not make that service either.  I hope to make this one within the next couple of days.

One man, Allan, has a special place in my heart. Allan is now in his eighties; but as a young man he worked with my grandfather at the Springfield Sun, which was the morning paper. Now Springfield, as many other cities, only supports one paper. My grandfather was the editor of the “Local” section, as we call it today. Back then we called his job “City Editor.” It was a second shift position. The paper was “put to bed” at 11. Then he came home.

Al was a sports writer, and he was a fairly young man at the time of my grandfather’s very early death of brain cancer at 61. My name is Derge, two names removed from the name of Netts. When we figured out who I was; we had a lot to talk about. He remembered the parties my grandmother gave and he remembered my mother and her two sisters, and of course he remembered my grandpa. This was special to a woman who was only nine when her grandpa died and had few memories of him.

I had the privilege of seeing Al and his wife at many museum events, so I could keep up. Today I see them once a year at the Springfield Arts Festival. Neither of us attends everything, but I can count on them being at the “musical” or the Springfield Symphony concert. It is always enjoyable. We had a conversation last time about the changes in journalism. I have opinions about that—and only someone like Allan can appreciate where I am coming from.  Then there are sports; never mind, I won’t start with that today!

The Springfield Museum of Art
At the Museum of Art, I had a core group that I could count on. I had a mailing machine and for the “normal” mailings, I could do that myself with some staff help. But if I had a “collating, stuffing and sealing” mailing, I had several people I could call. I also was in charge of providing volunteer support at the museum openings; that of registration and of selling drink tickets. I also had to staff the bar, but I relied on the Board for that. The Board itself, in any organization, is a committed group of volunteers; but it goes without saying that I did NOT manage the Board!

Volunteers take the pressure off staff in any organization. Although my experiences happened before the economy went sour; as organizations cut staff, they rely on volunteers to make it happen! It was not lost on me that my volunteers were of a generation that could retire at a younger age and had a span of time to volunteer at things that were important to them. Today’s generation is working longer, or plans to, and the impact that is going to have on volunteerism in the next 20 years is going to be felt by all non-profit organizations and churches. Allan used to volunteer for me, and then go over to the “hysterical” society (Clark Co. Historical Society, a very wonderful organization).

I encourage my readers to find someplace to volunteer and “give back” as they are able. We are needed!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday Morning Sisters

One of the most important connections in my life is the Sunday school class I teach. That is using the word loosely. I am RESPONSIBLE for it. We are all on a journey and I don't hold myself up any higher than any other person. We are a group of women who come together once a week, study a lesson and pray for each other.

Three years ago, I decided to start this class. Another person and I met on March 1, 2009. It was her birthday. I brought coffee cake. It was just us. The premise of the class was for ladies of ANY age that did not have husbands coming to Sunday school with them but were not comfortable in a "couples" class.

Along the way we picked up some single (never-married) ladies and divorced ladies and our group morphed somewhat. We had a core group, but we had women that came to us for "a season" and they were a part of us too. I think of one young woman, who came to UD to finish up her degree, and was only with us for 4-6 months and then moved to Alabama. She was delightful. I think of another lady who came to join us during a divorce proceeding, but she and her husband reconciled and they decided to attend another church. We rejoiced. Another young lady came to us and then moved away shortly. I firmly believe that our ministry is "for a season" in many cases.

We decided at one point that Southern Baptist curriculum wasn't gettin' it for us. SBC material is age-graded and I have written more than once to the publisher about something for us Baby Boomers. The "retired" publications are for our parents, and the "young family" and "raising teenagers" thing is behind us. We have a huge population not addressed in terms of Sunday school material and magazines. However, we are all ages anyway. So, we decided to do a topical study on World Religions. The book had many religions, but we chose the ones that would most likely be those sitting in the cubicle next to us at work, or to be our neighbor. We also broke this up and different members did the research for each religion we chose. I definitely liked that. It was a growing experience for all of us.

We also did a Beth Moore video series on "Stepping Up," a study on the Psalms of Ascent, which the Israelite pilgrims sang as they journeyed to the feasts in Jerusalem. This would be Psalms 120-134. We advertised this throughout the church and gained some interested ladies; but most of them went back to their original Sunday school classes. Good learning was had by all. Beth Moore is such an excellent communicator and we gained much from that study.

We have recently read a book by Kay Arthur; called "When Hurt Runs Deep." Somewhere, all of us have hurts deep inside, whether we look like we have it made or not. This was not a study we advertised, although two ladies came to us in the middle of it. It is a subject anyone can relate to.

During all of this time, I did find some denominational material that we could use, that is not age-graded. I love it! I is called MasterWork and delves into two subjects a quarter. It is always interesting, and works well for our group. However, most recently, we have decided to do a Bible book study for the summer and another for the fall of 2012. Beyond that, who knows?

Over the past three years, members have come and gone and we have evolved into a tightly-knit group. Our discussions are not of the head, they are more from the heart. They are Bible-based; I would not do anything that wasn’t based on the Bible, but they are lessons that can be taught in many different ways. There have been days we threw out the lesson completely and something else needed to occur that day in terms of discussion among the members of the group. 

This is a different kind of connection; that of confidentiality and shared faith. I love these women!