A to Z Theme 2016

For my 2016 A to Z theme I used a meme that I ran across on the blog of Bridget Straub who first saw it on the blog of Paula Acton. This meme is a natural for me to use on my memoir blog. It's an A to Z concept and it's about me. No research and nothing complicated. I'm given twenty six questions or topics to discuss that are about me.

In April I kept my posts short and uncomplicated. In the midst of it all you might learn a few things about me that you didn't previously know.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Happy Birthday, Ada!

Arlee Bird and daughter Ada circa 1985.

       For some reason I always remembered that I was in Colorado when I first received the phone call.   Maybe it had been Fort Morgan or Sterling or even some other town in Colorado.   But I was looking over some old records that I had kept during that time and now it appears I may have actually been in Texas.

        In my mind I still have a fairly good picture of the school we were playing that night.  It was a modern high school with shiny wide halls.  The auditorium was a topnotch facility with a big clean stage, new looking curtains, and excellent lighting that could be adjusted for color and intensity.  This was the kind of a stage that made the show look good and the backstage operate with efficiency.

        The date was September 26th.  We were on the 1982 World of Fantasy tour of "The Magic of Cinderella".   My wife Susan had left the show in August in order to go back to Tennessee to have our first child.  As the day of delivery grew nearer I began to keep Susan informed of the phone numbers of the motels where we'd be staying and the auditoriums where we'd be playing.   This was before cell phones and on-the-spot easy access at any time.

        When the phone call came I was in the back of the auditorium operating the spotlight.  There was no doubt that a phone call at this time meant something was happening as far as the arrival of our new child.  Testing early on let us know that a girl was on the way so we had picked the name ahead of time--Ada Rachel.

        I'm guessing now that I was in Texas that night when Ada was born.  Where I was is incidental I suppose, but what I know is that on this date in 1982 I was blessed with a wonderful daughter who has given me much happiness in the time she's been on this Earth.  And now she's given me three beautiful grandchildren.

        Thank you, Ada, for many years of happiness.   I'm very proud of you!

Arlee Bird escorts daughter Ada on her wedding day.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Cherish the Love (Soundtrack of my Life)

        Several years ago a very dear friend of mine lost his wife.  She passed away during the night as they were sleeping.  They had been married for about 25 years.  It was a while after the event that I got a chance to talk with him.  He had overcome his grief for the most part--at least from the outside--but still I imagine that his wife's passing weighed heavily on his mind.

         Losing a spouse no matter what the circumstance must be a very difficult experience.  To go to bed one night and wake up during the night to discover your spouse has died would be especially traumatic to me.  My wife and I don't dwell upon the topic of death, but it does come up now and then.  I don't like thinking about it much, but the idea does cross my thoughts on occasion.

        Our own death and the losing of loved ones is one of those great what-if contemplations that hovers over all of us.  We probably should think more seriously about the subject if we haven't done so already.  Making decisions such as those related to death should not be undertaken in times of grief.

         Kool and the Gang's beautiful love song "Cherish" has crept into my awareness over the years and tends to be increasingly meaningful as the years pass.  As I grow older and see people I know losing their partners, the sadness of the situation becomes closer to home.   When my father died at age 67 in 1990, the loss to me was a strange one unlike anything I had before experienced.   Somehow I didn't fully absorb the impact it must have been on my mother to lose her partner of forty years.

         The realization of the loss of a partner had more impact on my thinking nearly twenty-five years after my father's passing.  My sister lost her husband who was 67--the same age as my father when he died--and then about a year later my step-father died after having been a wonderful partner to my mother for about sixteen years.   The fact that I was nearing the age of 67 and that death sometimes arrives unexpectedly at ones door created that deeper awareness that my days were counting down and each day has great value.

          Now I cherish my wife, my family, and my life more than ever before.   Each hearing of the song "Cherish" is that reminder to me to "cherish the love, cherish the life".    My days should be respected and treated as an investment in my happiness as well as the memories that come with the accumulation of a life history.  Our futures are mostly uncertain while our past should not be a collection of regrets and unfulfilled dreams.  What we know is the present and we should make the most of each day.   We should, but I know we don't always.  We can try though.

The song "Cherish" with lyrics:  

      Robin has been doing the Soundtrack of my Life posts on her blog Your Daily Dose.   I had done a few of my own "life soundtracks" on my Tossing It Out blog as well as the song series (starting at this post) I did for my 2014 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge on Wrote By Rote.  Be sure to visit and follow Your Daily Dose for more Life Soundtrack info.  

      Do you attach specific songs to certain times and aspects of your life?   How has your life been impacted by the loss of someone important in your life?   Are there any suggestions that you can offer as to the ways we can cherish our loves and lives in better ways?

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A Lifetime of Working

Female workers in an H. J. Heinz can factory s...
Female workers in an H. J. Heinz can factory stamping out end discs (the discs that fit on either end of each can). From the materials for the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition of 1909, held in Seattle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

       A recent post at my blog Tossing It Out asked the question:  "What's the best job you ever had?".   As you might expect, a question of that nature can give rise to a great deal of reminiscing and remembering.  After all, work life and career is a major component of most of our lives.  In my post The Working Years I suggested that our time of working might be considered a specific stage of most of our lives.  Many of us spend so much time working or doing things related to work that I think the concept of a "stage of life" makes sense.

        When you examine the typical person with an extensive work history you can see how life in many ways is a build up to work, a stretch of time actually working, and hopefully some good years of retirement when what we've done in our work lives becomes a major part of who we are and what our interests continue to be.  Work and career often appear in a memoir or even becomes the focal point of a life story.

         Our childhood years are taken up with school years that prepare our minds and our sense of socialization to one day become good workers.  As children we dream of things we'd like to be one day and occupations that we might pursue.  This can change of course--and usually does--but still the dreams and the education are all part of the preliminary steps we take until we've made an actual job decision.

         Sometimes the job decisions are what is right for us while some are lessons in what we thought we might like and didn't.   A good many of our jobs are a matter of the necessity of making a paycheck to pay the bills.   How we approach these jobs makes the big difference in what we can get out of those jobs even if they are not part of the career path we are pursuing.   "Attitude is everything" is a philosophy that makes a lot of sense and is important to our sense of happiness and what we take away as gain from a job.

         Some of us start working when we're still kids--newspaper delivery, lawn mowing, babysitting, and so on.  This is great for having spending money early on, but more importantly the instilling of good work ethic and positive social interaction will usually have a big influence on the kind of workers we are throughout our lives.

        The very acts of looking for jobs, exploring career opportunities, and gaining necessary education can be the basis of many interesting memoir stories that can entertain as well as be helpful to others who might be facing similar circumstances as described in a story they are reading.

         If we consider that every job has value, our outlook towards work begins to change.  We might envy some workers without knowing that they hate their jobs.  Perception can play tricks on us that create misunderstandings about things we don't know enough about.  Unless we investigate a career thoroughly, we might step into what we consider a dream job only to discover that it's really a nightmare.   If nothing else, that's another good story as well as a learning experience.

        We might as well give opportunities a chance when they afford themselves to us.  Job-hopping has become the norm for most of us in the modern age.  With instability in the economy and job market, a working lifetime with the same company has become much less common than it once was.  Likewise, call it a restless spirit or short attention span or whatever else you like, many of us are ready to move on to a new job after a period of time.

           Jobs are as vital as they ever were, but the nature of work and the attitudes of workers have changed.  People want money and security, but they also want freedom and a certain degree of say so in their own lives.   I've spent a good part of my life working for others, but I was fortunate to have several jobs that I really liked.   I was also fortunate to have had a realistic and positive attitude toward most of my jobs.   When I didn't have that then I got out of what I was doing and found something else that suited me better.

           There is no such thing as the perfect job.  However there are some jobs to which we are very well suited and that makes a huge difference in how we look back upon those jobs when we no longer work at them.   Money is nice and even essential from a practical standpoint.  Great money is desirable.  In the end though, job satisfaction probably is the most important thing of all.  The way we feel about what we do has a strong bearing on the over all quality of our lives.

          Have you appreciated the jobs that you have had in your life?   What do you think are the qualities of an ideal job?   What would cause you to quit a job?


Saturday, September 5, 2015

Post-High Blahs

My granddaughters taking a break at Arlee's Raw Blends in Princeton, NJ

          Oh, hello--remember me.  I'm the guy who used to write and post at this blog.  Did anyone notice that I had disappeared for a while?

         I really hadn't intended on taking such a long break, but vacation and then getting back home got me kind of side tracked.   Looking back I realize that I only missed three weeks worth of posting.  But in blog years three weeks is like three months.   Well, maybe that's not a scientific or realistic assessment, but missing three weeks on this blog seems like a long time to me. Since I started this blog I don't recall ever having missed a scheduled Saturday posting, but then again who's keeping score?

        Truth be told, I've fallen into a bit of a blogging slump.  Vacation can do that sometimes.  To me at least this happens.  For that matter, many of the highs in my life have been followed by a plunge into a sort of depth of not anything that I'd classify as clinical depression, but a sort of down feeling nevertheless.  This is probably a natural reaction for most if not all of us and that depressed state of mind makes sense--one day life is filled with excitement and happy times and then suddenly it's all over.  You're left with a sort of emptiness that memories can't quite fill.

        As the saying goes, "All good things must come to and end."   Fortunately that is the case for bad things too.  All things come to an end, or perhaps a transition point might be a more apt way to view the sequence of the ups and downs of life.  "Life goes on" to use another cliche, but it's also a truism because life just keeps going without regard to our feelings.

        As I reflect on my life in general, I think back to the most fun times of my life.   I remember much about the good times, but only a vague memory of how I felt after those good times had ended.  I recall feeling down, but not many details about what that down feeling encompassed in its totality.

        There were the times after Christmas, Halloween, or other special events.  Or a visit by favorite relatives or someone else who was special.  The build-up of the anticipation of a big event instilled a sense of optimism and excitement.  When the event arrived the excitement peaked.  And then it was all over with little to do but carry out the trash and clean the house.   Maybe there'd be some photos or videos that had captured the happy time, but often these mementos of the past are memories more melancholy than uplifting in any immediate tangible way.  I'd never want to give up the those memories that I can look at, but they make a rather weak substitute for being able to exist in that actual moment in time.

         After our vacation trip I spent a couple days unloading the van and even longer actually unpacking suitcases and putting things away.  Some of the boxes and a couple of the empty suitcases still remain where we left them.  My wife started back to work while I'm trying to get back into some sort of normal routine here at home.

       The miles of driving are behind us and those we visited are back to doing the things they normally do.  In a way it all seems like a dream to me.   There are memories of the things I did, but they almost don't even seem real.   What am I going to do now?   Things just seem kind of blasé now. I know it will all be normal soon, but this time around the normalcy is coming around slower. Of course, the vacation was much longer than any I'd taken before. I guess that counts for something.

      When I was in sixth grade living in San Diego, the kids in our grade took a week long trip to camp. It was the first time I'd ever been away from home without my parents being with me. Distanced from the normalcy of my family, on this school excursion I was now in the constant company of school mates, our chaperones, and the camp staff. This was a new and exciting adventure for me.

        That week was one of the most fun of my childhood. The activities kept us occupied throughout the day right up to the time we went to bed in our dormitories. I'd never been in a situation of that nature in my life and I didn't want it to end. I didn't even miss home. Then it did end and we went home. Riding home on the bus I sadly gazed out the window as the previous week paraded by in my mind.

         For days afterward I glumly wandered about the house thinking back on the camp experience. I made up sentimental songs about being at camp and sang them to myself. I was very sad for awhile. And then I was kind of sad for a few more days and then life just took over again and kept on going and was the same as it ever was. And that was okay because that's the way life is.

       Do you fall into a low state after the highs of life have passed by?   For you, what is the worst part about ending a vacation?    Can you recall a time in the past when you felt especially down after something fun had ended?