Category Archives: Music

Day 29 – Miss You

My weekly challenge was to remember my favorite song from five years ago and listen to it. I have no idea what I was listening to five years ago but it certainly was not on the top 100 from July 2013. I had an idea, a better idea, and I went back 40 years to when I was 16; the summer between my sophomore and junior years in high school. That was the summer of all sorts of memories.

This past Sunday afternoon, we drove north. I had a driver for the first hour and the last hour. My daughter O is working on her driving hours and loves driving. It gave me time to go back in time – 40 years – to the summer of ’78. I checked the top 40 from July ’78. I recognized most of the top 10 but my memory took a jolt when I read #14 – Miss You by the Rolling Stones. That song took me back and brought back all sorts of memories and I found my song…. But first… how I got there.

I turned 16 in November ’77, but I couldn’t get my driver’s license I hadn’t completed the required behind the wheel driving training. Instead of taking driver’s ed during the summer, like all of my peers, I had been visiting by dad in England for five weeks. I took the driver’s training during winter break of my sophomore year and was ready to get my license in January of ‘78. January in Houston, Texas is cold, but not nearly as cold as January where I now live – there is no comparison.

I am the oldest in my family, so I was the first of the kids to get my license and the first child to teach my mom all sorts of lessons she and her sister probably did not teach their parents when they were growing up in the fifties.

When my parents divorced, my dad moved to Saudi Arabia and a year later he and my step-mom moved to London, England. Whatever he had, he took with him or put in storage except for the 1969 blue Volkswagen Beetle. It was stored in the garage. I had my name on it. Or rather, I had put my name on it.

this is my car, but it looked like this…it even had some very cool pinstripes

For a 16-year-old boy in 1978, having your driver’s license is cool, having a car a car is even cooler. Once I got my license, I began to drive the ‘blue bug.’ I could drive to work and back and had to ask permission beyond that. The little blue bug had air conditioning, but it didn’t work and the radio had AM only. I had a job and made minimum wage as a busboy and dishwasher at my next-door neighbor’s Italian restaurant.  By March, I had scrimped and saved enough money to purchase an in dash 8-track cassette player and FM\AM radio and a couple of speakers for the blue bug. I had barely enough money leftover to buy two 8-track tapes – I picked Van Halen’s debut album and Jackson Browne’s Running on Empty. I listened to those constantly.

The blue bug was nothing brag about. Beside the AC not working, there was a hole in the passenger side floorboards caused by battery acid spillage. A friend of my mom’s helped with a fix and  the radio and speakers were an improvement. To make up for the lack of AC the blue bug had side windows which could tilt inward and force air into the car. But driving it in the hot Texas spring and summer was pretty uncomfortable and perspiring was the norm. Continue reading Day 29 – Miss You

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Flashback to 1989, I was younger and living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had roamed west in ’87 away from south Texas – yearning to make it on my own.

Roam if you want to
Roam around the world
Roam if you want to
Without wings, without wheels

Summers are for exploring and roaming. I am fortunate to have a profession where I have summers off and time to rest, relax, restore, and explore. Many folks think all teachers do over summer break is play, but that’s not the case most teachers are busy with learning or rethinking ways to be a better teacher. But that’s not what today’s Tuesday’s Tune is about.

A Farmer’s Market in Good hart, MI

Flashback to 1989, Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘Roam’

Tuesday’s Tune – ‘America the Beautiful’

Yesterday was American Independence Day. It’s the day Americans, like me, take to celebrate our freedom and independence. Many gather to barbecue and watch fireworks, still others, like me and my family, travel to be with family. We are by the lake, where we have celebrated the Fourth of July as a family for as long as I can recall.

Our family tradition began in after B and I married in ‘91, and with exception of a handful of years, I’ve been here on the Fourth ever since. At first, we celebrated with B’s parents and her sisters and their families. Then they moved away and they weren’t able to be here for the holiday and it was just our family and B’s parents. Then life intervened and her dad passed away in June of ‘14, then her mom followed in late ’15. Now it is us and we continue to get travel north and enjoy the lake with our friends we’ve grown to know along the lake.

We celebrated as we always do: we went to the town parade, then spent time on the lake, barbecue and enjoy dinner, and finished the day with the town fireworks celebration, and of course the traditional popcorn. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune – ‘America the Beautiful’

sometimes you’re the bug

It’s been several months since I wrote a Tuesday’s Tune post. But, I’ve got a song in my head, thanks to some obstacles that popped up yesterday morning.

Yesterday was Monday and like most Monday’s I wasn’t looking forward to getting out of bed and embracing the new week. It had snowed most of Saturday afternoon and Sunday and the cars and roads were coated with snow. AND it was cold.

Sometimes you’re the windshield
Sometimes you’re the bug

As I always do, I get up early. Yesterday I rose around 4:30. And as usual I checked my e-mail while the coffee brewed and discovered the WIFI was down, so I re-booted the system, twice. The re-boot didn’t work. Then, I realized we had a service technician coming to change and upgrade our service and the internet and cable must have been turned off. Yep, the television signal was dead, too. Thirty minutes wasted spent trying to solve the problem. But, the coffee was good.

courtesy of How to Detail Your Car.

Sometimes it all comes together baby
Sometimes you’re just a fool in love

Continue reading sometimes you’re the bug

Bible Sunday

Fifteen years ago today, I was teaching seventh grade geography and the counselor walked into the room at the end of second period, she looked upset and out of sorts. After the bell rang and dismissed my second period class, another class entered, the students got to their seats, and the bell rang. Before the third period class began, the counselor read a short prepared statement that changed my day and told us that the course of history for our nation and the world had changed forever. I don’t remember what she read, but she left immediately afterwards and the room felt like the air had been sucked out of it. Somehow, we all made it through that day and over the course of the next few days we learned the true horror of that day.

our flag flies at half-mast today,
our flag flies at half-mast today,

This morning, fifteen years later, 9/11 is a Sunday. This time it is Bible Sunday for our church’s third and eighth graders. Eighth grade is the confirmation and class and O waited excitedly for her Bible. She was born over a year after 9/11 and for her, 9/11 holds only the meaning that we have tried to share with her. She didn’t experience it, nor did she know what the United States was like before 9/11. She only knows what it is like now.

In April 2015, on our way home from Spring Break in Washington, D. C. we stopped at the Flight 93 – 9/11 Memorial near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. We will never forget.

This morning, I watched my sweet daughter O beam with excitement when she received her Bible and she could barely contain herself when she returned to the pew to sit with us for the rest of the service. She fidgeted throughout the sermon and helped me find the closing hymn in the hymnal – “We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations.” We sang it as John Wesley instructed congregations in his Instructions for Singing from 1761, we payed attention to #4,

“Sing lustily and with a good courage. Beware of singing as if you were half dead, or half asleep; but lift up your voice with strength …

It was a wonderful service and the hymn was a reminder that though much has changed for our nation and the world, our principles continue to survive. May we never forget. Continue reading Bible Sunday

“You Raise Me Up” a Tuesday’s Tune

Today, I am honored to have Patricia from jansenschmidt: Blogging From the Edge of Eternity guest post here at Making the Days Count dot org. I am not certain when I first ‘met’ Patricia, but I’ve been reading her blog ever since. I’ve followed her from northern California to Vicksburg, Mississippi where she moonlights with her husband at the historic Baer House and blogs at jansenschmidt BLOGGING FROM THE EDGE OF ETERNITY. Where imagination abounds, nothing is impossible.  Indeed, nothing is impossible, it’s gonna be a great day. Thank you Jansen/Patricia. I’ll let her tell the rest of the story.

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First of all, thank you Clay for inviting me to be part of your Tuesday’s Tune project. I am honored to be included, as I am a fan of your blog, primarily for its positive message.

You asked me to write about a song that gives meaning to me for making each day count. I chose “You Raise Me Up,” by the group Celtic Women because I feel certain it must have been written for me to remind me that, even though I lost my mom in 2008, she is still here, still supporting me and still encouraging me. She raises me up to more than I can be. Her absence reminds me to make each day count.

mother daughter quote

I never thought myself to be much like my mother, but I’m everything I am today because of how she raised me. So often I feel her presence pushing me on. I never would have said that my mother was particularly encouraging when I was a kid, yet I feel courageous today. I feel strong and empowered and beautiful because she instilled in me good values and the desire to do what’s right. As the song says: “I am strong because I am on her shoulders.”

little girl on shoulders

I especially like this version of the song, because there’s a piano solo (I play because my mom played) and fireworks (one of my favorite things).

Again, thank you for this opportunity to share my special song. I hope it inspires everyone who reads this blog to never lose sight of the little things or take for granted the things that matter and, most especially, to make each day count.

For more information about me please visit:

Website: http://www.jansenschmidt.com
Find me on Facebook at JansenSchmidtAuthor
Follow me on Twitter @JansenSchmidt
Blog: https://www.jansenschmidt.wordpress.com

Saturday morning spring in your step

Saturday morning by the lake.

“Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young, the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step.” Mark Twain from The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Friday was a great day. We got a few chores off our list. But, there are more, there is always more. Always.

But, after the chores there was the lake and fun.

We took the boat out for a test ride and some fun. O ‘surfed’ and so did a couple of her lake friends from down the lane. It was a fun evening.

I stayed in the boat and ‘filmed’ and shot stills. I still got wet putting the boat away. Continue reading Saturday morning spring in your step

What’s going on?

I believe in Making the Days Count, and I believe in the power of music. And I believe in the beauty of nature and so much more. I’ve been working on my essay and reading a few more essays from the book, in between chapters of Hamilton and other things.

I drove home from the lake Saturday afternoon my mind filled with thoughts.

Sunday morning, I sat on the deck reading the paper and planning my day. I skimmed messages and noticed my friend, Carl, had posted a song to Facebook and Instagram.

I listened to the song and replied to Carl’s prompt, ‘we’ve got to find a way.’ On Facebook, I replied, “Indeed, change begins with you and me, we must be the change we want to see in the world. I am going to do a good turn and pay it forward. Peace.” My replies were personal, about where I was at the moment. A few hours later, I understood there were more ways to listen to the song, to hear the words, and this morning I find myself seated at my desk scribbling a post together.

instagram
Click to listen

Continue reading What’s going on?

Three for Thursday

It’s Thursday morning and it is the twenty-seventh day of summer break, almost two-thirds remain. There is a myth which persists that teachers don’t work a full year. It’s not true, it is nowhere close to being true and the myth misrepresents what educators do to be ready for the coming year.

Class starts in an hour.

that's y foot and W's old parking spot
that’s my foot and W’s old parking spot

This summer I am taking a professional development class, in fact the last several summers I have taken PD classes. Classes are taught by fellow educators and are filled with rich curricula and new methods to help students grow and learn.  This summer I am taking a two-week long class at the local high school. The class is offered through Fermilab Education and W’s freshman biology teacher is the instructor, he was also one of W’s wrestling coaches. It has been an interesting eight days of being transported back to being fifteen again, and then morphing back to my real age. It’s been forty years since that high school freshman year, I’d mostly forgotten that very awkward time.

Continue reading Three for Thursday

Tuesday’s Tune: “The Boar’s Head Carol”

Today’s post is a guest post from Margaret,  a blogger friend of mine from England. She blogs at  From Pyrenees to Pennines. I first began reading Margaret’s blog several years ago when she and her husband lived in southwestern France. They moved home to England and I love reading of her exploits. I don’t recall how I found her, but I did, and I am ever grateful for the sunshine and joy that reading provides. There is nothing like an English Christmas, nothing. Thank you Margaret, keep Making the Days Count.

“He who sings scares away his woes.” ― Miguel de Cervantes 

There’s a  programme on British radio called ‘Desert Island Discs’, which has been running regularly since 1942.  Just about everyone fancies being on it, and if you’ve made a name for yourself as an actor, a politician, an academic, a musician, a journalist, a physician, a TV personality, a sportsperson …. whatever, really, you may just get your chance.  For 40 minutes, the ‘castaway’ for the week has to imagine themselves washed up on a desert island, with only 8 gramophone records (how quaint that sounds) of their choice, one luxury with no practical use, and one book, together with the Bible and the complete works of Shakespeare.  On air, they have the chance to talk about themselves, and more importantly, and just as revealingly, the opportunity to choose the 8 pieces of music that may have to last them for the rest of their lives.

What would I choose?  The list I occasionally idly compose in my head varies wildly, according to my mood.  But what I observe is that it’s always dominated by the human voice.  My list always includes some of the great sacred masses by the likes of Bach, Haydn and Mozart.  There’ll be some traditional music, maybe from Africa or India, and some ‘blasts from the past’ of my teenage years in the 1960s.  The voices range from the pure clear notes of children, through elegant, warm and melodious female voices, to resonant deeper male tones.  It’s hard to think of a single musical instrument with such range or versatility.

And washed upon my desert island, aside from listening to my recordings, what else would I be doing?  Well, singing for sure.  I don’t have the sort of voice that anyone would want to have in a top-flight choir…..  or any choir, really.  I read music only very insecurely.  Yet you won’t find me missing from our weekly choir practice unless I really, really can’t get there.

We’re engaged from the first moment we arrive.  We pat our faces and our bodies awake, stamping our feet rhythmically, or giving each other impromptu massages. We practice rounds and play musical games with notes from the highest to the lowest to get our voices mobilised.  And we sing.  We sing in canon, we sing in parts.  We learn that sometimes the hardest thing to do is to sing well in unison: there’s nowhere to hide.

Nicky’s in charge of us, and I can’t think what kind of title to give her.  She enthuses us; she won’t accept less than our best; she generates an atmosphere in which we all trust one another – our false notes will be forgiven and we’ll even be persuaded to be the sole singer of a line or two of song.  She’s the one who finds pieces none of us knows, from Africa to Finland, to lesser-known Gospel songs.  She’s the one who hunts out unfamiliar pieces from the English repertoire.  And this is the one I’ll share with you today.  It’s  Christmas song, but a secular one, sung at table at Queen’s College, Oxford.  Here’s ‘The Boar’s Head Carol’

During that hour or so on Thursday evening, we forget our woes and day-to-day worries.  We open our throats, and joyfully, we sing. American philosopher William James summed it up perfectly: 

‘I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing’.

Here we are at our summer barbecue, singing for friends and family
Here we are at our summer barbecue, singing for friends and family