Category Archives: Songs

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’

It’s a long season

I love baseball. I played baseball as a kid, but I didn’t have much talent for baseball or any other sport, but I still played and dreamed. I stopped playing when I was 15, the summer of ’77, but I never lost the love for the game. As a kid, the season began with tryouts in March and games twice a week or maybe, three times a week through early June. It’s a long season for a kid but short in comparison to the season the professionals who play 162 regular season games and maybe get three days off in a month.

My son, W, played before switching to lacrosse, and my daughter played one year of T-ball (baseball without pitching) with boys before she made the transition to softball.

I’ve rooted for several teams over the years, but my home team is the Astros, the Houston Astros. When I was a kid, the Astros weren’t very good they lost more than they won, but when I was a high school they seemed to turn things around and won the division in 1980 with a one game playoff win against the LA Dodgers and they won the division six years later in 1986. Both times they played well in the LCS (League Championship Series) but not well enough to make to the World Series. They wouldn’t make it to the World Series until 2005 and I was living in Chicagoland. They played the Chicago White Sox and lost in four close games. I’ve always been an Astros baseball fan.

I am grateful for late mother-in-law who helped me regain my love for the game. We were Up North in July 2013 and she wanted to listen to her team, the Reds, the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds don’t broadcast Up North, that’s Detroit Tiger country so I ended up resorting to technology and got a subscription to the MLB app and unlimited audio streaming. The first game we listened to was a no-hitter. The following summer, in 2014, I upgraded to the video version of the app and we were able to watch a couple of games when she made her last visit Up North. She passed away in November 2015 and one of my lasting memories with her was talking with her about baseball and football, but especially about her Reds.

Every year since I’ve renewed my subscription for the MLB app and I always think of her when watch the Reds, I root for the Reds when they aren’t playing the Astros and it helps they are in separate leagues.

This spring I made an impulsive purchase and purchased two monthly passes to see all of April’s games for the Chicago White Sox. I don’t follow the Sox, but they are in the American League and the Astros will play them later in the year, and I prefer the Sox to the Cubs – any day of the week. Of the 11 games, I had a pass to see, I was able to make it to two games – one with my son and another with a friend. It was time well spent.

At the end of April, I went to visit my mom and my brothers, but mostly my mom. The Astros were at home and I coaxed my brother to take in a game with me before I left. We were able to see the first four innings before I had to leave and drive to the airport, but it was worth it. We had a good time. The Astros lost the game to the Oakland A’s 2-1.

Continue reading It’s a long season

Tuesday’s Tune: River of Dreams

Today’s Tuesday’s Tune post is a guest blogger – Eli Pacheco from Coach Daddy: fatherhood, futbol, and food.  The blogging world is amazing. I ‘met’ Eli several years ago and have been following him ever since. Last year, I realized we were travelling in parallel universes – he in the Carolinas and me in the Midwest. We both have children -he has three and I have two – and the oldest is a senior in high school and both are competitive athletes – making the two of us sideline supporters. We are both very proud of our kids and it shows in our blogging.  I am excited to have Eli here at Making the Days Count – because we are both making our way through life Making the Days Count.

guest post clay lede artphoto credit: I think this is the gear we’re looking for via photopin (license)

When you make the days count – what does it look like?

I envision life brimming with abundance and adventure. Family, wall-to-wall. All-out experiences that shun fear and trepidation. We make the days count in so many ways – so much positive, so much forward-leaning. It’s where joy bumps into bliss and amusement builds to euphoria.

It took a text message from a dear friend today to remind me that Billy Joel’s River of Dreams held a significant spot on my life’s playlist. She’d just heard it, right after leaving Five Guys Burgers. If that isn’t a sign from above, I’m really not sure what goes on in heaven.

In the middle of the night
I go walking in my sleep
From the mountains of faith
To the river so deep

A youth pastor at UNC Charlotte brought this song to our weekly lunch discussion. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: River of Dreams

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

Tuesday’s Tune: A Charlie Brown Christmas

It’s Christmas time. The season is upon us. Christmas will be here in sixteen days. I’ve survived Black Friday – I didn’t shop, or even leave the house.

I was four years old the first time the Charlie Brown Christmas first aired. It was 1965. We were living in Houston. We be there one more Christmas and then, we’d move to Sugar Land where I would grow up. My mom still lives in the house I call home, even though I haven’t lived there for close to thirty years.

Charlie_brown_1209_2015-2016
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first showing of A Charlie Brown Christmas. The network produced a special 50th anniversary special and then replayed the cartoon. I watched it, again.

A Charlie Brown Christmas is an animated television special based on the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz. Produced by Lee Mendelson and directed by Bill Melendez, the program made its debut on CBS on December 9, 1965. In the special, lead character Charlie Brown finds himself depressed despite the onset of the cheerful holiday season. Lucy suggests he direct a school Christmas play, but he is both ignored and mocked by his peers. The story touches on the over-commercialization and secularism of Christmas, and serves to remind viewers of the true meaning of Christmas. (Wikipedia)

Rewind, I can imagine us, my brothers and I, sitting on the couch watching the Christmas special in our jammies. For us, it was in black and white; we wouldn’t get our first color television until 1971. I don’t have a specific memory of watching it, I just know we watched it. Sitting on the couch.

My kids have watched it, too.

A lot has changed since then. I can watch A Charlie Brown Christmas anytime I want – regardless of the season. And, much has stayed the same, A Charlie Brown Christmas was, in a way, a protest show about the commercialization of Christmas.

It bothers me that the Christmas season seemingly begins earlier every year. But, I don’t let it get me down.

A few years ago, I purchased the music from the show and loaded it on my iPhone. I play it as often as I can. I plug in my speakers in my classroom and play it before school starts and sometimes in class when my students are working, no one tires of the tunes. The music is calming and peaceful and it reminds me of the importance of the season.

I remember driving home to Ohio once – I don’t recall when. But, the backseat was in an uproar. My two backseat passengers couldn’t seem to get along, the dog was whining and barking, there was heavy traffic on the road and I popped in the CD. Presto, chango. We listened, whistled softly hummed, and thought of the gift of Christmas.

We won’t be driving to Ohio this Christmas. I am not sure what our plans are, but it will be Christmas. But, wherever we go we will remember the meaning of Christmas.

B has been working on the lights and we got the backyard done this past weekend. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: A Charlie Brown Christmas

Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

My friend Scott sent his guest post to me Monday afternoon; and it’s now Wednesday, not Tuesday. It’s been that kind of week or so. I’ve known Scott since our school opened up in ’01.He teaches health education in the building and is a writer, too. He writes at Life is the Future and is planning to ‘Bite the Bullet’ this coming year. We were talking and writing came up – neither knew the other wrote, it’s interesting how that all works. I knew he loved music and collected vinyl. We got to talking and he agreed to guest post here at Making the Days Count. I enjoyed the read and I hope you do, too. I am thankful for friends like Scott, have a Happy Thanksgiving.

vinyl_scott

Some of my favorite memories come with a soundtrack. Of course, almost all my memories come with a soundtrack—the good, the bad, and everything in between.

In teaching discussions, and even in life conversations, I make it no secret that music has helped me stay alive this long. Music has been one of my constants in a lifetime of change. It has seen me age, and awkwardly so. It has seen me make bad decisions, and dread repercussion. It has seen me laugh, cry, and scream. It has taken me across the country on the kick of a dream. It has kept me home in the arms of my family.

While writing, I rarely do any stream of consciousness without it. And even then, when the editing grip finally takes hold, I can hear the echo in the embers. It’s in pieces, in manic-depressant fits of stress and relaxation. Like dust motes in the blank stare of a daydream, music can fill space or demand attention. Depending on the mood, music confirms or denies feelings of self-worth, vents of frustration, and outbursts of elation.

Pop music of my childhood combined with the classics from my parents, which led me to being introduced to other styles of music. The alternative music boom of the 80’s and 90’s paved the way for exactly what I needed: the edgy, angsty hooks of punk rock.

I was about 14 when I found punk music. Coming from a fairly normal and fortunate upbringing, punk rock didn’t represent a distaste for life, necessarily, but it hit home as it satisfied a very natural need of adolescence: to question everything. Question the norm, question the rules, question the answers, question existence… question oneself.

A punk song may never change the world, but I could tell you a few that changed me. Which means, by virtue, punk rock does exactly what it sets out to do.

If you’ve been there, you know; people are drawn to punk for many reasons, all unique to each individual. For me, the attitude of the music and lyrics was easy to relate to. But songs with societal meaning registered just as much as the galloping riffs that accompanied those often-indiscernible words. (Good thing for liner notes.) The punk community is one that offends the mainstream with no mercy but all in the demand for tolerance and equity. Racial and class lines be damned.

Identity in school, as in life, remains just as difficult a topic as ever. In my case, not following pre-set expectations made a lot of sense… classifications, stereotypes, cliques all seemed dumb and immature. Counterproductive. Moreover, why can’t a person be interested in a variety of things, and hang out with lots of different people? Funny enough, finding like-minded friends and having that kinship of a social circle is essential in teenage development.

Cue the music. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: This Old Punk

Tuesday’s Tune: Anticipation

After two days of meetings this week on Monday and Tuesday, full of reminders, staff get-togethers, and new curriculum; I get a full day to work in my classroom today. O and I were there last Thursday and I was back Friday afternoon. I am excited.

The seventh graders read a book in ELA, The Giver by Lois Lowry. It’s a new classic dystopian novel for kids it was published in 1993 and it was made into a movie and released in August 2013; read the book, it’s better. Trust me. In the first chapter, Jonas a twelve year-old boy and the main character, describes his feelings about the upcoming Ceremony of Twelve in December as he rides his bike home. At first, he describes his feelings as being frightened, but realizes the word doesn’t describe how he feels about the changes which lie ahead for him. When he reaches home, he realizes he isn’t frightened, but apprehensive.

I’ve been back and forth to school several times in the past week. My rides to and from school have had similar thoughts – making lists, thinking, worry, apprehension, fright (sort of), and I decided I am full of anticipation and even perhaps, like Jonas a little apprehension.

I remember a song from my youth about anticipation, Heinz used it in its ketchup commercials to highlight how thick its ketchup was – it was so think, it took a while to begin flowing out of the bottle. As a scientist, I know it’s because t’s a non-Newtonian fluid that exhibits characteristics of both a sold and a liquid.  But’s that’s another story.

Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: Anticipation

Back to school…

School starts Monday. I’m ready, or at least I think I’m ready.

back-to-school
It’s in the wrong order – should be ROY G BIV, but beggars can’t be choosers. image courtesy of Atlanta: InTown online – they’ve been back to school for two weeks!

I was at school working in my classroom Thursday and again, Friday afternoon – I have a list of to dos before Monday morning and my first official day of school – faculty meetings and administrative details before the kids arrive next Thursday.

Thursday, I was busy masking a line from the back of the room to the front of the room so I could paint a 3” wide blue line – I’ll be using it for a timeline 1750 to present. Jose, the head custodian, will paint it this week and I’ll start posting events as they come up in class. I had O with me on Thursday and she organized my project boxes – boxes of supplies groups can use in class. We went school supply shopping Monday and visited her school Tuesday and she got her schedule and organized her locker. She was a big help Thursday and I owe her big time.

Friday I met with my science colleagues and we planned. Afterwards, I made lists and organized a few bins and drawers. I’ll stay late Monday and Tuesday and work on a few more details before having Wednesday all t myself to get the room ready for students on Thursday.

As for today and tomorrow – the days before school starts, the final weekend before school: Today there is o’s softball practice and W’s varsity football picnic. And, of course yard work and my desk.

While I was driving to school yesterday morning, I realized there were several things about school that I missed this summer Continue reading Back to school…

Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist

Like most people, music has always been an important part of my life. I tried out for chorus in third grade and didn’t make it, I couldn’t carry a tune, I still can’t but it doesn’t stop me from singing. I played trombone in middle school and gave it up, like scouting and sports and so many other activities I quit in that awkward middle adolescent period between 13 to 16. Music was an important part of growing up – listening to the radio and learning the popular rock and roll songs of the 70’s. I worked in a music store in high school. In 1979, a music store sold records and tapes, the kind of music that was on vinyl.

Pink Floyd's The Wall was released in November 1979 - my senior year
Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” was released in November 1979 – my senior year in high school

At 17, I knew it all. I knew everything. Continue reading Tuesday’s Tune: MtDC Playlist