11/24/2014

Singing

My family was always musical and I had no idea that it wasn't just a God Given talent that came natural to everyone.  My grandmother Erma and my mother both played the piano loud and well.  The rest of us just joined in and made music.  We were fairly poor so we didn't have a chance to travel for vacations, we would mostly go to grandma's.  They tended to live in fairly remote places and we would gather around and sing in the evenings.   My sister Carol went on to be a music major and taught music throughout her teaching career.

My first organized singing came at Minneha Elementary in Wichita, KS.  Mrs. Holloway just like my family made it so much fun to sing that we did so every chance we could.  Those guys and gals that weren't as musically talented were given percussion instruments to make noise with.   I was a part of the choir through most of my elementary years.  Our Christmas songs were always great.   Oh Holy Night was the knock out because we had Margaret Mulligan singing the first stanza and she had the voice of an angel.  When the entire choir joined her, it was just pure beautiful music.  I am pretty sure having that choir was a like the basketball team winning the National Championship.  We never sang when we didn't get a standing ovation.  I have always wondered where Margaret went to as we lost touch with her as we went to High School.

For some reason, I started in the band in Junior high and one music elective was all I could fit in and graduate.  I played the Sousaphone and we were fortunate enough to have two so I could leave one at home and have one at school.  It was way too hard to carry back and forth and when I learned that the band director had passed my name on to the High school band director, as fodder for the marching band, I dropped out of band.  There was just no way I wanted to carry that cold hunk of brass around on the football field. 

In my first year of High School, I started in Spanish 101 and found the language fun but the teacher made it such a piece of work that I soon left that behind.  To this day, I love the Spanish speaking people and love their food. Their language was just more than I wanted to accomplish.   When I dropped out of Spanish class, there was only one class that I could join mid semester and that was Chorus.  Back singing with a group for me. 

 I started as a baritone with the chorus and loved it.  The highlight of that first year was the mass singing of the Messiah at the Forum Downtown.  I think each school sent a group there and we put on what to me was the best performance I had ever been in. They brought in professional singers for the solo parts and we filled that arena with music.

 The vocal music Director asked me to join his choir the next year and from a student body of 7,000, I went to the Chorus of 200 to the choir of about 75.  I also sang with the "Choraleers" a very select group of 20.  The day they had the quartet tryouts, I had a cold and was not selected.  I sang with them as the replacement if one of them was sick and could not go to a sing out.   It didn't hurt that I had my own car and could drive them when they needed to go. 

During my Senior year, the choir had an abundance of Bass and baritones.  One day as we did our warm ups, the Director watched as I went from Bass to Tenor in singing the scales.  I became a tenor midway through my senior year and stuck with that for a long time.  If you remember there were a lot of songs back in the 60's that had tenor voices singing high and loud.  I could do that.

After High school came the Army,  followed by college and then a career with the National Guard.  I sang all the time but mostly for my own pleasure.   In 1998, I had a case of bronchitis and I thought I was going to cough up my lungs. I was given that pack of meds that started with five pills, then four, then three and down to one. I was so cold for a week that even my wife's feet were warmer. 

I found that after that, I was better off at Baritone or Bass.   I found the Barbershop Chorus through Wayne Cline and I was off to the running.  I sang baritone for about three years and loved the music but hated the director.  I stopped singing for a couple of years and rejoined them and now am a part of the bass section.  We have four or five of the best guys I have ever sung with.  The rest of the chorus isn't bad.  Our new Director is one of the best I have ever sung with.  He manages to make the Monday night practices just fly by. His musical talent is just great.



I hope that you all find a way to make music a part of your life and draw much fun from that experience.   I do and hope to sing till I can't sing no more. 


MUD

11/22/2014

Out of Body Experience

If you are as old or older than I am, you realize that while you are able to motivate yourself to do things, there just isn't the ability any more.  There was a time I could run a six minute mile in combat boots but now I am lucky if I can find my keys fast enough to drive that far that fast. 

I had the eyes of an eagle and could read line 15 at 20 feet and if it moved, I could see it no matter how far off in the distance.  Now even with reading glasses I struggle to read the morning paper.  I have almost given up reading books and like my mother, watch old movies on TV.

I hurt my back years ago and the arthritis has me taking Naproxen Sodium twice a day.  I can tell if I miss my dose because of the lack of mobility.  If I forget my evening dose, sleep comes very hard. 

I swear that having that kitten here is like having a heard of Buffalo.  I didn't realize how much noise a kitten can make running on the floor upstairsIf he see's a squirrel   go over the edge of the deck, he will run full steam downstairs to catch him on the ground.  No, he will not probably be an outside cat - ever.  We have coyotes, owls and varmints that would love to make short work of that tasty tender kitten.

We have friends in Morocco and she wrote about a mist or fog that contained so much dust that it left a layer on everything.   Here in the heartland if the north wind kicks up, it will pick up parts of Nebraska and leave it deposited on the cars.  Many times I have to run the windshield washer as I drive out of the driveway to see clearly where I am going.  For those of us that studied Meteorology at the Cannon Cocker College at Fort Sill, we know that it is caused by the fact the wind sucks in Oklahoma. 

Better get moving for the day.

MUD

11/21/2014

Out of My Mind

This is a short blog about what happens to my mind as I age.  Tomorrow I will do one about my body if I can remember because of what's happening to my mind. 

To tell the truth, I have always had trouble with attention deficit disorder.  What I really missed was the Hyper Activity that seems to go along with it.  I did have a tendency to go all out and then fall asleep where I stopped but it is the attention deficit that always caused me the most trouble.

I am not sure if I filter the events in my life into piles and a lot of the things I deem unimportant seem to never get done.   I had to carry a day runner when I worked to keep me on track.  I would spend an extra 15 minutes at the end of the day building my tomorrow's "To Do" list and then I would refer to it to stay on track. There were things that stayed undone but that was because of the priority I put on them.  I always wanted to be in charge and for the most part that entails getting things done on time and to have them done well.  I was the opposite of my friend that said he would do things just well enough to not get fired but not so well that he would be assigned that task again. 

 If I did something, it was pretty well done.  Let me see, I was the security guy for several Inaugural dinners for the Governor.  I was the "Big Bunny" at the Easter egg roll,  I was always the guy that made sure the cannons were in place when they were needed and the right hand man for my boss for many events.   One thing I did was to write the script for the Annual Convention of the National Guard Association's meeting for two presidents and then mine.  I held the record of having the fastest Business meeting when I was in charge.  I would have the Sergeant of Arms get the presenters ready and have them up on stage when it was their turn.   In the past, they would come to the back door of the hall and be announced and take many minutes to get to the podium.  I knocked all that out and finished by 2:30 what was seldom over until almost 4.  By that time, the crowd would have thinned as people would escape.

As I age, I find that I can't always remember to get the things I am going to the store for. At one time I could brainstorm ideas and seldom left things off the list.  In the past I could make a mental list and then think of extra things I needed as I shopped.  Heck, I even went to Wall*Mart hungry the other day.  That is almost a fatal mistake and thank god not a budget buster.

I have always had a flaw that caused me to not always consider the feelings of others.  I am not sure if it would be called unfeeling or just too busy with other things so I don't notice.  I have many people tell me that I tend to be too direct when I write.   Direct hell, I can't even spell obtuse.  (Spell checker keeps me straight) 

Everything I have written above is slowly fading away and I am even having enough trouble with my eyes that I am not reading nearly as much as I once did.  I could pick up a book and by reading the first page remember if I had read it or not.  Now I have to get into the book a chapter to even remember the plots.  I really wonder how long it will be before I can hide my own Easter eggs and wrap my own presents.  Such is the revenges of old age.   Now if I can remember to remain happy in spite of it all.

MUD, aka drifting away in my own mind

Friday, Already?

Yesterday I loaded my pill case and by last night, I couldn't remember if it was Wednesday or Thursday.  You would think that after starting the tractor and taking the recycle container out to the court I might be fairly sure, but doubt lingered.  I think the football games on Thursday evening confused this old man some.  Both KC and K-State played and it was clear that they both had to play hard to make it a game.  It was unfortunate that KC couldn't pull it out and K-State hung on for the win.

It is kind of a funny year here at Rabbit Run.  We have the Grand Kitties here to liven up the place and it is clear that dogs can be trained and cats train their caregivers.  Throw in the antics of a young male kitten and things just are funny in the morning.  He likes to be where Barb is and she is not a cat person.  He has been known to attack her toes as she sits in the chair and reads.  I think the most interesting thing is when they watch the birds and squirrels out on the lower steps.  They watch intently but don't react to the birds nearly as much as when one of those bushy tailed rats show up.  Pixel just let out a loud mew and ran up stairs.  No telling what was on his mind. 

I think it is time for Barb and I to take a short road trip.  I really don't mind her commenting on stupid political actions highlighted in the paper, but when she turned it on me, we both need to get away.  Perhaps even to the same place.

We are on a slight warming trend and perhaps by Thanksgiving day it will be fairly normal outside.  We will be here and feed the group (troop) a Turkey Feast.  I am not sure if I want to smoke the bird if it does warm up enough.   I will watch the weather and see if Wednesday will be nice enough to be outside from time to time.  If not, we will just do one in the oven like the rest of the world.   I am just redneck enough to like mine brined and smoked.  I am still working on how to make smoke and keep the temperature low enough.  I have an extension for the lid that lifts it up so it is not right on the bird.   It is the support system for the rotisserie but it does work fine for lifting the lid away from the bird. 

What will you serve on Thanksgiving?  We will have the bird, some ham, smashed potatoes, green bean casserole and pies.  Oops, I left out the wonderful rolls the wife always makes.  I will also make dressing and gravy.   Dang, I can't even remember what I will be making.  I sure hope the day of the event I can keep it all straight.  I will try to claim the duty of chief cook so I can avoid the KP duty at the end.  Thank god for dishwashers.  If I had to do them by hand, I would go get a part time job to buy one.  The good news is that one of these days we will have to replace the one we have and have enough to pay for it.   With my collection of tools and a truck, I would probably fetch one and put it in myself. 

Oh well, I'd better get on the road and see what needs done before I get nailed for shirking my duties.

MUD, aka chief cook but not the bottle washer.

11/20/2014

Watch Out, The Law of Unintended Consequences is about to get us.

In past posts, I have tried to point out that in many cases, there are Unintended Consequences that follow from actions that Politicians don't fully understand.  For example, raising the standards for Medical Insurance without measuring the impact of the higher rates will raise the rates for all.  We were promised lower rates and that we could keep the Doctor we had.  The longer this goes on, the less likely the trust in our Government will survive. 

Now we face having another 12 Million undocumented people from Central and Middle America be given a path to citizenship without regard to their ability to provide to the common benefit.  In fact, they are likely to cost us way more than we will benefit in a lot of areas.

The first area is that the Government has no plan or intention to force the new people to pay taxes on their income.  Many will continue to work as day laborers and "Off the grid earners."  There will be many added to the Social Security rolls that have not paid into the system like the majority of us.  There is a projected timeline that the system will run out of money and add 10 or 12 million more won't help.

The new undocumented workers will rely on the Hospital emergency rooms for their medical needs.  Have you been to the Emergency room lately?  They are crowded, slow and full of sick children that should see a primary care physician not the emergency room.  

I   am not entirely convinced that addition of 12 million people will be the death knell to our system but I do want the Government to be truthful when they do things that have massive implications on our systems. 

One final note is that today our local people said that only 42% of the people voted in our last election.  It is a shame that our friends and neighbors care so little about the direction our Government is headed.  When it really gets smelly and things get crispy, don't blame it all on the people that voted. 

They Did What?


MUD

It could be Worse.

This morning I walked out to get the paper and it is a typical 20 degree day with a light breeze from the north.  I came inside and saw the news from Buffalo, NY.   5 feet of snow on the ground and 4 inches and hour falling down and here I was concerned that my tootsies might be cool.  It Could Be worse. 

When I think about ways to get a good return on my investments, I realize that I have to have money to be concerned about return on my investments.  It could be worse. 

My son and his wife are here for a couple more weeks while their house is getting a new bathroom after a small fire.  I listened to a program on the Today show and they were talking about the one in thirty children that have no home.  It could be worse. 

When I think about al the small jobs I have to do, I realize that there are many people my age that have to still be working to live.  It could be worse.

There are times when I think about how unexciting my day has been and then I hear about the rifleman that shot up a University in Florida.  It could be a hell of a lot worse. 

I guess the recurring theme I want to share with you is that we all have it pretty darned good and "It Could Be Worse."  Aren't we glad it isn't.

MUD,  aka the man with a smile on his face

11/19/2014

Can Kentucky Play Basketball?

Last night, the KU Men's basketball team met Kentucky on a neutral court and got killed.  They were out rebounded, out shot and out coached.  Bad day in bedrock for the Rock Chalk.  They missed 45 shots that while were a little contested, they were hurried and their shots were not finessed at all.  Perhaps losing a shooter from the outside may prove to be a loss they can't get over. (Conner Frankcamp)  After 10 seasons of owning the Big XII perhaps this is their year to just grow as a team.  Kentucky will feed the Professional Basketball draft and we'll see them again.  

OK, enough of the pity party from Petty.  I hope my slightly negative outlook is due to the headache I have.  I want to blame it on dust from the renovation but I think it is probably the first slight head cold of the season.    I had stopped taking my allergy pill a week back but I went out and renewed them yesterday.  The dust in the air is on full move and having the cat dander hasn't helped. 

The manager in me wants to start a spreadsheet on the renovation at Dave's.  At one time I had a program that did that but it was a long time back and several system changes.  Probably not even alive today.   I will just use the spreadsheet program and color code the timelines.

I have an appointment with the designer from the cabinet company today and amazed that she doesn't understand that the bathroom is completely gutted and she can put them anywhere she wants.  Even the stub out for the toilet was removed and capped.  It can be put about any place needed.  That was a problem earlier but not now.  I know the company does a great job as they did both our kitchen cabinets and the bookshelf/desk downstairs. 

I finally found a copy of Pentatonix's new album PTX III.  The store I went to didn't have any of their new Christmas albums on hand.  They sold out quickly.  Their mellow blending and unique music just makes the Christmas sound rock.   I first found them through their singing "Little Drummer Boy" last year.  

This weekend our Chorus is going to sing at 4 Older Adult facilities and I was kind of blown away that we are not going to focus on Christmas.  I guess the experience of fitting our winter sing outs so near Christmas just didn't set well with some people.  We are still working on some good Christmas songs.  The best to me is our version of "Do You Hear What I hear."  "May There Be Peace On Earth" isn't bad.  I think some simple songs well sung are worth their weight in gold. 

The kitten Pixel sleeps all night and wakes up in the morning with a full schedule of kitty play.  He also likes to sit by the window downstairs and stare at the birds that come into the feeder.  He also loves to attack Barb's feet as she sits on her chair reading.  I think it is sheer boredom that brings out that in him.  Yes, I will probably miss the little bugger when he moves back home.

Oh well, better move on.   Have a great day.

MUD

11/18/2014

Monster

Twice this week, a Facebook friend has sent out a warning that the energy drink Monster is anti Christian and in one case did severe harm to the child of a friend.  A few years back there was a push to do the same to Procter and Gamble and it was all made up stuff about the symbols  on the package.  I personally don't drink the stuff, but I think people have better things to do than to go around making stuff up about a Company.   Get a life. If it happens again, I will lose a Facebook friend if my notifying her of my objection to the post didn't solve that for me.

Last night our Barbershop chorus had one of the best practices we have had in a long time.  We took pictures of the chorus and worked on the four or five songs we will sing this weekend.  We are going to four "Older Adult Facilities" and do performances there.  I was blown away by the quality of the singing we did to get ready.  Can't wait to see if this carries over to the performances. 

It is cold and sunny here in the Heartland and it is going to get a little better by Thursday.  I think our daytime high will reach all the way up into the 40's.  Will seem like a heat wave.   I still won't be wearing shorts but at least I will have to wear a couple less layers. 

I am sure that in the world of Geek Dom, the designers of the new software and systems think they are doing everyone a favor when they release a new system/software update.   What it really does is make the old guys like me unfamiliar on making things work.   There are things I knew how to do that elude me on the newer systems.  Don't even get me started about the fact that I purchased enough memory storage to keep me into the next 20 years and I find my stuff out on the cloud.  What the heck is the cloud.  If I can't touch it, access it and make it user friendly, what value is it to me.  Will I wake up one of these days and find that I will have to pay to download my "stuff" or pay to keep it where I didn't want it to go in the first place.  What happens when I am off net somewhere and I want to see my pictures?    Yep, I'll bet they will be unavailable.  Oh well, ain't progress great? 

This morning the local paper was just full of all kinds of gloom and doom.   Our first Gay couple was married here in Kansas and that wasn't a negative thing.  There was the happy note that Charles Manson is getting Married.   He is probably not going to be paroled ever and doesn't have conjugal rights so at least there won't be any little chuck's running around. 

Tonight Kentucky and KU will play and it will be the number 1team vs. the number 5 team.  I am sure that there will be enough McDonald's All Americans to earn both teams a Big Mac or two.  Throw in the trans fat from the fries and in a couple of weeks from now no one will remember what's the big deal.  Oh well.

Better run.

MUD



11/16/2014

KU Seniors

The KU Football team sure played a great game against TCU yesterday.   They led a lot of the game and if the ref's hadn't overturned an interception they might even have won.  Yes, I do know that TCU could probably have scored there again at the end of the game and didn't.  Either way, the seniors should go away with a god feeling.  Those Texans are just pussies about cold weather.

When I was a kid, we would go to Arkansas a lot.  My grandparents had a place over where the little Buffalo and Buffalo rivers met.   It was pretty much uninhabited most of the year.  There were enough lizards to keep kids busy chasing them.   When I was a kid, there were Horny Toads that are now called horned frogs.  Wonder why?

It is hard to generate a lot of interesting things to write about when it is in the middle of the first cold snap.  Between westerns and football, I had one of those days when it was easy to take a nap and no one notices.  I even listened to our 2015 Barbershop CD from one end to the other. 

Our local paper has started carrying two pages out of the Wall Street Journal in their Sunday Business section.  Some times I agree with what is said but it varies.  I am in agreement that it is difficult for seniors to find a good investment right now.  I think the stock market is in for at least a 25% price correction in the coming year.  I am tempted to get a big jar and bury some money n the back yard.  Perhaps a bigger mattress would do the trick. 

One interesting thing in the paper was the advice they gave on how you should distribute your assets when you die.  Lots of good advice there about taking the first step of talking about it with your heirs. I for one never had a problem in talking about her assets with my mother.  She set up a few items that she designated a specific person as the recipient.  My sister Carol got the Roosevelt election poster (Thank God), Myrna got a drop leaf table that had belonged to Grandma.  Rick got the arrow head collection and I got a lamp that Dad made in High School.  In fact it illuminates my computer desk as I am writing this.  The rest of the estate we did our best to liquidate so it was money in Mom's account.  I think it gave each of us about $5,000.  The rest was stuff and we had a get together where we got to choose from the left overs.  We went from the oldest to youngest and chose what we wanted.  The rest got donated to Good Will.  I for one will not have that problem as Dave will inherit anything left when Barb dies.  I will be cold and gone and Barb's long lived genes will last a lot longer than I will.  In Kansas, the life expectancy is about right in the middle of the pack.  I think 78.4 years is not a bad goal.  Based on the past 15 years,  I should last that long but one never knows.

One thing I thought interesting is the recommendation that you outline what you want in your Obituary.  There are a few details that are needed like when and where you died, were born, and your parents names.  The name of your spouse and children is generally here and to aid in the research listing your brothers and sisters is a good thing.  Beyond that is just a lot of information that is not needed.  The researchers say to list and Military Service and major Awards and Decorations and you major employment.  For me, that's the same thing.   I hope you don't find this too morbid. 

Do you love to laugh and listen to good music?  Those are two of my favorite things.  Throw in a good meal and you have it nailed on how to keep an old dog happy.  If I could find a way to watch Western's, get a hair cut and shine my shoes at the same time, I would be satisfied.  I know a combination Comedy club and pizza parlor with an area you can watch western, get a hair cut and have Pentatonix music playing.  At one time I wanted to live between a library and a liquor store.  Now that I have stopped drinking and my eyesight is not as good as it was, I will settle on being here at Rabbit Run. 

Have a great day.

MUD