Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Oh, What a Night It Was, it Really Was . . . (*)

Tonight -- what a surprise!

Last week Caryn invited me to come over on Saturday, my birthday. “We want to take you out for your birthday. Come around 3-4 p.m.; we’ll leave around 5 p.m.”

Got here around 3 p.m. She had advised me to wear something 'nice' 'cuz we were going to dinner. So I did. Now it's about 5 p.m. and we're on our way. We drive and drive and it appears we are heading to Nashville.

Me --So what restaurant are we going to, anyway?
CJ -- Who said we were going to a restaurant?

Me -- Well, that's usually where you go to eat.

CJ -- Well, it doesn't have to be a restaurant, you know.

Me -- Huh? OK, so now I'm really confused. Hmmm.

But she continues driving towards Nashville and then I see Charlotte Avenue -- Oh, ok; we’re on the west and north side of downtown. More "Hmmm". I am totally wondering where on earth we are going.

CJ's phone rings and we take turns talking to Lisa. Jeff and Lisa sing Happy birthday on speaker. We hang up.

CJ -- Oh, by the way, we're all coming to your house tomorrow. For dinner. We're bringing it..

Me -- WHAT???

CJ -- Well, we were going to surprise you but I thought we'd better tell you in case you had made some other plans (they know what a social butterfly I am!)

Me -- OHMYGOSH! You Guys! No, I have no other plans. This is so great!

So she drives some more. And then turns down a street and starts to drive into this B-I-G parking lot. With a B-I-G building next to it. I look up. There is a Logo across the top of the building.

I gasp as I blurt out -- WHAT????

The Logo says "CabaRay".

I nearly fall out of the car/faint! This is Ray Stevens' new Venue. I watch his 30 minute show every Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. on PBS. I L-O-V-E this guy. Always have. He is a comedic musical genius.


This is ABSOLUTELY what you call a . . . C-A-P-R-I-S-E!!!(**)

So we go in and have an amazing delicious meal. And then, at 7:30 p.m. the show begins. Out comes Ray. Lookin’ and actin’ like he always did . . . and does.

And he sings and tells jokes and entertains us for close to 1-1-/2 hours. Of course, you KNOW what song he closed the show with, right? Right.

No? The Streak, of course . . .

The show is amazing . . . he is amazing . . . the energy . . . and musicality of his voice . . . at 79 years of age !!! . . . and flipping so perfectly into that perfect falsetto . . . (you remember Tarzan, the Guitar Man; right?)

I am in music/happy heaven. And he throws in a couple of love songs . . . and a couple of hymns before he’s done.

They told us when we arrived Ray would come into the bar area after the show to greet folks. So after the show we went there and waited. After about five minutes he walked in.

CJ took some pictures of me talking with him.

I told him he was a national treasure and that this had been a surprise dinner/concert for my 80th birthday because I was such a big fan. And I mentioned that my son John (***) had been in the music business for over 30 years and had been married to Jeannie C. Riley's daughter. (That because the venue had photos of Ray and so many musicians all over the walls and Jeannie's picture was up there with him in one of them).

And then we drove back home to Fairview.

WOW! Topping this would be hard.

(*) And this was one of the songs he sang, also (Johnnie Ray was my First Teen Hearthrob)
(**) What Tom called ‘surprise’ when he was little.
(***) John told me the next day that his sound company, Gopher It, had run sound for Ray at least once ‘back in the day’.
* * * * *
And now it's the next day – the second surprise.

Caryn told me last night all 'the kids' were coming over after church and bringing all the food. So I knew that.

MAN . . . This party just keeps on keepin’ on. (Well, that’s what I tried to teach ‘em; keep on keepin’ on, I mean. Guess it worked.)

But now I’m pulling into my driveway and I see this red truck settin’ on the side of my yard (I’m a corner lot). “Wonder why some neighbor picked THAT spot to park? Odd . . . But Tom has a red truck. And it’s a Chevy. Like that one. Maybe he came a little early . . . “

So I pull into the garage and enter the house via the pantry/laundry room that leads into the kitchen. And the french door from the dining area that leads to the back porch is o . . . . pen . . .

OHMYGOSH!! It’s Tom . . . and John . . . and they’re standing on a board on a divided ladder and they’re hanging/nailing screening.

It’s happening. It’s really happening. The screened-in porch is getting F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D!!!

And the Birthday Joy just keeps on keeping on . . .

Once they got the screens done, John and J-Man (his son, Jeremy) went to Home Depot – I tried to go with them and argued and pleaded and stamped my foot a couple of times. I knew they were going to get a new screen door (the first one got broke a couple years ago) and I have a credit card with Home Depot – and it has a zero balance! 'No way, Woman. You’re NOT goin’!"

Later, I found out J-Man paid for the door.

Luckily, we checked the status of the gas tank (for the gas grill I only use when kids are around for gatherings) and it was nearly empty so they bought another tank of gas, also. I presume John bought that.

In the meantime, the younger kids – grandsons and great-grand kids are out in the yard playin’ catch.

Us girls are yakking and getting the food ready; hamburger patties to grill, salads, etc. and CJ and Becky begin spearheading a plan for a “girls week escape’’ for later in the year on St. George Island at a house on the beach where Caryn and Randy and the boys . . . and me . . . spent a week a few years ago. It was awesome great. 4 BR, with pool under the carport and . . . fifty feet of beach ending at the ocean edge!

She checked prices and availability and called and MADE THE RESERVATION! And we paid the deposit!!!

Good Times Just Keep on Keeping On . . .

Did I mention how much I love these ‘guys’ and how very blessed I have been and continue to be . . . I am one LUCKY MOM/Grandma/Great-Grandma.

(This one will be hard to top!)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Glen and The Music . . . (10 01 2017)

     Ah, here it comes -- PBS 7 p.m. Special -- repeat from 2007 – Glen Campbell: Good Times Again. The Love of My Life -- entertainer-wise, I mean. And you should see the line-up of singers/entertainers on the show.

     Joy . . . Joy . . . JOY!!! Be still my heart.

     And here's Linda -- (Ronstadt, that is) – hair down to her waist! Beautiful. "Carolina in My Mind."

     And now it's Ray . . . "Cryin' Time".

     And Bobby Gentry? Didn't know he recorded an album with her. And they sing a duet . . . oh, no, it’s "Let it Be Me."  That was mine and Jer's song; it was playing in the car on the way home from one of our dates . . . the night we fell in love. . .

     And Ricky Nelson. . . and Cher.
     And Ann Murray . . . "Ain't No Use" . . .
     And Roger . . . "King of the Road."

     And then Glen, this time just him doing "By the I get to Phoenix" . . . another heart-wrencher.

     And here’s a clip of him meeting John Wayne . . . explaining how he got the role in True Grit. And now he sings it.

     And then he explains how "Raindrops," by B. J. Thomas, beat him out for Best Song that year. And then he and B. J. Sing it.  "Raindrops," I mean.
= = = =
     And I listen . . . and my heart swells with emotion and my eyes drip . . . from the beauty of it . . . and with what now seems like the "innocence" of it all . . . what??? innocence???

     Well, not really . . . unless it was mine, maybe??? Because of the safety and security of the life I was living at the time. . . being loved and needed by family and friends . . . and thinking that it would always be so. ??
= = = =
     And here comes Johnny -- no, not Carson. The One, the ONLY -- CASH! And listen to Glen do that guitar and voice solo. AND, then, of course, that signature "arm/guitar movement" of Johnny's as he plays that guitar.

     And now it's . . . who ?? I recognize the voice, but the SHORT hair??? OMG -- it's Willie . . . and he and Glen do "Lonely Walls." Had forgotten he ever looked like this.

     And now here comes "Gentle On My Mind" . . . with John Hartford . . . and the story behind it of how Glen 'fixed' the beat/timing of it. So awesome, so perfect.

     Oh . . . that's it? It's over?" . . . No.

     I will never erase this!

     Somewhere . . . somehow . . . the music lives on . . . and so do we.

     And don't ask me to explain that. I'm just the W.O.W.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

My Detroit Neighborhood -- Back In The Day (Originally Written in 2010)

Detroit Neighborhoods--Back In The Day
Boundary of Woodward/John R - 7 Mile/State Fair

My father lived at 492 Fernhill as a boy in the 1920s; I lived with him and my mom at 456 Fernhill as a child in the 1940s.

When I googled the neighborhood and rode the cyberspace arrow up and down the streets, I could not believe the destruction and neglect. At least half the houses on Fernhill are gone.

When I saw the empty lot where my house used to be, it broke my heart. How crazy is that! It was more than 60 years ago! My dad's house still standing was a wonderful surprise. In my mind's eye, I can see the street and the people as they were so long ago. I don't know why I care. Maybe it has something to do with being a writer.

On the North side of the street, it appears the house once owned by the Maynards, the Etheringtons, and the Hopps family (492) remain.

On the South side, across from where 456 used to be, the house owned by the Luscitch family in the 1940s is also still standing.

Time has not been kind to this little community but it was a wonderful and safe place to grow up in the 1940s.

From Fernhill we walked to the corner of Havannah, turned right one block, and there was our beautiful school, Grayling Elementary. What has happened to this school? The building remains but it is not listed as a Detroit elementary school.

From 456, my friends and I would walk two blocks to Beauman, turn left and pass a little convenience store on the right filled with penny candy or continue a few more short side blocks up to 7 Mile to Brown's Creamery, where my Grandma Hopps, the store manager, would give us delicious double-dip chocolate cones for TWELVE CENTS!

In the summer, my friends and I would walk the 2-1/2 blocks over to State Fair and spend the entire day at the Fairgrounds!

I remember the fire there in 1942. I was four and sat on my dad's shoulders as he and half the neighbors walked over to watch the horror and listen to the screaming horses.

We did not have a car then and my dad rode the bus to and from work. Sometimes I would walk to the other end of Fernhill, to Charleston, (remember when they built that manufacturing plant there?), turn left two short blocks and meet him at the top of the stone steps he walked up when he got off the bus by the viaduct at State Fair.

Or we could walk up Charleston to 7 Mile and turn left a block or two and be at Trinity Reformed Church, where my dad went to church as a boy and my grandma still attended in the 1940s.

Our next door neighbors, the Hoffmans, attended Epiphany Lutheran Church located across the street a little ways from the creamery. It was such a beautiful church, I wished I was Lutheran so I could go there. It is now known as Oasis of Hope Christian Church.

If you have memories or pictures you are willing to share of those "grand old days", please contact LibralLady@aol.com

Dawn Hopps Coyle Bohannon
AKA Sarah Barnes

Thursday, July 20, 2017

To Pee Or Not to Pee . . . (Originally Written 02 27 2017)

Bathrooms . . .

I sit here listening to the News and the discussion about bathrooms and who should go in which ones.

And my first reaction has always been – who cares?  A bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom.  As long as there are stalls for privacy who cares?

And then I pause . . . and reflect.

I remember being a little girl in my Detroit neighborhood.  Such grand memories.  We played kick the can and baseball and sometimes my girlsfriends and I played “house” up in my attic playroom . . . or on the porch.  We were mommies and our dolls were our babies . . .

And then . . . I was a teenager and going to high school . . . and I had a boyfriend . . . and he was my forever love . . . and we went to dances and . . .
And then . . . I was a young bride . . . waking down the aisle of the church . . .  promising to love and honor my husband . . .

And then . . . I was a young mother . . . with my firstborn . . . and second born . . . and third born . . . and fourth born . . . and then . . . on my own and working once again . . . and then . . . a grandma . . .

And then . . . I start to think of others . . . who never really knew who they were . . . or struggled trying to understand who they were . . .

And tears fill my eyes . . . and my heart wrenches . . . because . . . because that kind of confusion . . . anguish . . . was something I have NEVER had to come to terms with.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Big and Small Of It . . . Again

06 08 2017

The Big and Small Of It – Again

Here I sit, as usual of a warm morning -- on the porch with The Rock and my coffee for my morning meditation.  Which is also when I get the most inspiration/ideas about life, my life, my kids, the world, ya-da ya-da.

So here goes. Again.

Thanking Him for my blessings and what a beautiful world I have been fortunate enough to inhabit, my mind is drawn back to the snippet of news I heard last night (which I want to review/research more) about the latest findings of where/how/when humans originated.  I only caught bits and pieces but the consensus of this latest study indicates the studiers think we are much older than previously thought.

Oh.  Ok.  Maybe.  Who says?  How come? Or, what if . . .

That’s the way my brain thinks.  Always has, always will. I like it like that.

Following THAT train of thought I am reminded of the post I saw yestserday on Facebook, another silly test – what profession are you best suited for?  I took it. Mine came up Lawyer.  Lawyer?  GAH!

(I used to type depositions (for pay) for my court reporter friend wherein I learned, first-hand, how lawyers will take three paragraphs to say something that more clearly could have been stated in one sentence.  But then, sometimes, that IS the point.) Highly educated people often do this. 😕

And then, synchronitically (is there such a word?) it came into my head – maybe I AM lawyer-like.  In my thinking, I mean.  I tend to see BOTH – or more than both -- sides to almost every issue.  Understanding the perspectives of everyone.

Finding the right ‘balance’ – the ‘fine line in the middle’, the most logical, the most just, most respectful, most merciful – solution in resolving the issues we as individuals and society at large face is and always will be the difficulty.

So – Back to my thoughts with regard to last night’s News and the Age of Humans.

They were, of course, discussing “The Big Picture” -- who are we, where did we come from? IS there a parallel universe?  What IS String Theory? That star is how many million miles away, did you say???

Those of us currently, or previously, residing on this amazing planet called Earth – have been and will continue to research/study/argue about The BIG Picture. ‘Cuz we’re human AND we have a brain, a consciousness.  So be it.

We will be discussing/arguing/studying this to . . . Infinity. And learning, of course. (Hopefully.) 😉

But then – there is “The SMALL Picture”.

You know.  Small as in – family concerns, jobs, society’s problems, health care, immigration, world issues/conflicts.  The day-to-day issues for us humans.  Right here, right now.  Problems that need solutions.  Now.

Whatever we think about The BIG Picture – whatever our religious beliefs or lack thereof – we CAN all agree on how to solve some of the issues of The SMALL Picture.

The Small Picture of the Here and Now.  Our time. Our lives.  Our World.

We can be kind and thoughtful to one another.
We can respectfully disagree.
We can show compassion and help those in need.
We can be honest and responsible in our behavior.
We can practice forgiveness.
We can get up every morning, go to work, earn our money,
              and take care of our families.

And THAT’S some Truth about which we can ALL agree!


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Boys Town & Father Flannigan (1938)

So here we are, me and John, watching Boys Town; 1938 B&W movie with Mickey Rooney and Spencer Tracy.  Based on the real life story of Father Flanagan.

Ten minutes into the movie and the tears are falling.  It's what happens to W.O.Ws.

The music, the buildings, the clothes, the cars -- all of it touches my heart.  And not just because it illicits memories of my childhood.

Have you ever seen it?  You should. The message, the music, memories from my childhood.  But so much more.

Maybe it WAS Hollywood -- but these stories always had a message.  A moral message.  This movie epitomises it.

If ever we needed the message of this movie . . .

Beauty and the Mess . . . (10 16 2015)

     So here I am again – on my screenless porch – with my coffee – and Rocky – and two MORE puppies. (Puppy sitting for a couple of days). 
     (Well, one puppy, the littlest one, Cissy, is hunkered down in her crate in the living room – free to come and go as she pleases – except she pleases to stay in it most of the time. The Vet told my daughter she had a scar on her head indicating head trauma so we think she was abused before my daughter got her. Cissy is uncomfortable with new places/people.)
     The beauty of the morning, though chilly, touches me. Soon I will be taking my morning coffee/meditation inside next to the fireplace but for now I am still enjoying these outdoor mornings.
     The beauty of my world – the people, the places, the things and times of my life – overwhelm me with gratitude. My little corner of the world has been so safe, secure, and lovely – mostly. And I think of the many more physically beautiful places on this earth – most of which I will never see. Except in TV documentaries.
     The beauty – and the mess – of the world . . .
     Once again – this thought overwhelms me and my heart squeezes and pushes water from my eyes. I wish, somehow I could "fix it" -- the mess, I mean.
     Silly me. Well, they don’t call me W.O.W.(*), for nuthin’, you know.
* * * * *
     I watched Oprah on the Stephen Colbert Show (or whatever he calls it now) last night. I have always perceived her to be a great role model and example. Based on the few programs of hers I have seen and the snippets of her life I have read.
     Last night she and Stephen teased each other a bit, as you would expect. She laughingly referred to herself as "the preacher girl" which she told him was her nickname as a youngster because she was always spouting scripture.
     I get the impression – rightly or wrongly – that Oprah herself is a Christian. But through her experiences and opportunities has been exposed to many influential people of all sorts of beliefs. And that she has found common ground in many of these belief systems.
     Kind of what I have experienced, as well. Growing up Christian but in adulthood getting to know folks of various persuasions – Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, Jews, Buddhists, Atheists.
* * * * *
     The beauty and the logic of God . . .  I/we can’t really comprehend it, can we? All these nations. All these peoples. All this religion. All this fighting – so often over religion. Or the lack thereof.
     Gets complicated. For me, maybe, but not for God.
     Seems to me it starts with where you are born. America during my lifetime has been, mostly, a Christian leaning country. My parents were Christian, most everyone I knew until adulthood attended Christian churches. So it’s understandable for me to have embraced their beliefs initially. But as I grew up and studied the Bible for myself, it still made sense to me and I have continued to embrace its teachings, even as I have been exposed to and compared various other persuasions.
     But what about all these folks in other countries – Japan, India, Iraq, Israel, Turkey, Greece. Etcetera, etcetera. Such contradiction. Such conflict. Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
     I can’t figure it out. I can’t solve it. And my soul hurts for all the pain and anguish that these conflicting beliefs produce in the world. The fighting, the wars.
     I can’t solve this. But then God reminds me – it’s not YOUR problem; it’s MINE. MY job. And the pain in my heart subsides once more. 
* * * * *
     We are ALL His children. It doesn’t matter whether we’re born in Iran or Italy or Japan or . . .  Hoboken . . .  :)
     We likely start out believing what our parents tell us to believe. Inch by inch we start thinking for ourselves. Sometimes we embrace our parents’ beliefs, sometimes not. Whatever. If we are seeking God, He will find us.
     He takes us wherever He finds us and brings us to where we need to be.
     All we have to do is seek His will . . . and follow.
(*) Kids = Wacky Old Woman
      Me   =  Wise Old Woman