The Growth of a Hobby

I’ve been interested in technology since I was a teen. Even then, my fascination was with all things audio. I’ll never forget buying a Webcor reel-to-reel tape recorder. (Even if you recall reel-to-reel recorders, how many of you recall Webcor products?) Unlike those cheap little recorders that were so popular then, this recorder could record in stereo. And since each channel had its own record button, that allowed me to record two tracks of any of my songs I wanted to record. Voice and guitar. Or even two guitar parts.

Years passed and technology changed and grew. I bought a four-track recorder that recorded on cassette tape. I was starting to get a taste for what could be done with multiple tracks. I could play guitar on one, bass guitar on another, and sing on a third. I used the fourth track for simple percussion; I’ve never been much of a drummer.

And then I upgraded to an eight-track analog recorder, not to be confused with those eight-track players that played those humongous tape cartridges. But this one also recorded on cassette tapes. And not the cheap ones. But that was okay. Being able to harmonize with myself and add additional accompaniment–sometimes additional guitar parts, sometimes strings or other instruments from my keyboard–was challenging but worthwhile.

And then I decided to switch to a digital eight-track recorder. I don’t recall how much it cost, but the prices on equipment like that had come down considerably. No longer was I limited to recording on cassette tapes. The new baby used a special kind of diskette that retained every bit of clarity I would ever need.

I still use that recorder, although it’s quite outdated now. Many musicians who record at home do so with their computers, using specialized software.

I seriously doubt I’ll ever do that. I don’t do nearly as much recording as I used to do. I’m not sure whether those diskettes are even manufactured anymore. But they’re entirely reusable, so that’s not likely to become a problem.

My newest gadget deserves mention, however. It’s a tiny, hand-held stereo digital recorder that makes broadcast-quality recordings. At least it would if it had broadcast-quality microphones. But recordings it makes can be easily uploaded to my laptop and edited there. (The inability to do that is a real drawback with the eight-track recorder.) I use it mostly just to record each of the songs I share at my church’s weekly nursing home ministry.

So here I am–a committed amateur musician who records as many of his songs as possible–for posterity, if nothing else–and posts the best of them, the nursing home recordings included, on his website.

Do you have a hobby or interest that started small and has grown larger or at least more important to you over the years? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

Links you may be interested in checking out:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Summer Comfort

A friend has suggested that some of my blog followers and visitors might be interested in receiving my quarterly newsletter. To sign up, please complete this form.

I grew up in parsonages–eight years in one, three-and-a-half years in another, and five years in a third. Although I was in college after that, I lived in a fourth parsonage off-and-on until after graduation.

I mention parsonages specifically because–unless things have changed drastically, and I pray that they have–they are notorious for their lack of amenities that the homes of most church members have. And generally a lack of adequate upkeep.

But I can’t really blame the lack of air conditioning on the fact that I lived in parsonages. I grew up slightly before the time air conditioners became readily available.

I have fond memories of the window fan that seemed to run all summer long and the individual smaller fans placed in strategic places throughout the house. And of course there were those adjustable slotted wooden devices that could be placed in open windows with the windows themselves closed down against them, holding them firmly in place.

Once I was out on my own, I lived for a while in an air conditioned apartment. What a wonderfully comfortable change!

But then I had to move–and ended up in a third floor apartment with no A/C. I’ll never forget those hot August nights when I would tiptoe down the steps to the second floor landing and zonk out on a sofa there. Still quite hot, but bearable.

Flash forward to more recent years. Like most of you, I’ve had air conditioning for so many years–it took forever to get my first car A/C, but I doubt you can buy a car now without it–I can’t imagine ever having to go back to the “good old years” that were anything but good, at least in terms of summer comfort.

But comfort can still be an issue. Where two or more family members disagree about what temperature the A/C should be set on.

Doesn’t matter, though. I can deal with sleeping beneath a blanket during the summer months to keep from freezing. But who would ever have thought that would be my version of “comfortable” at my age?

What about you? Are you in control of the temperature of your environment? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Boldness or Cowardice?

Perhaps you’ve heard of Prince Edward County. If so, chances are you think about it with horror. I do, even though I spent the eight happiest years of my childhood there.

As a young child, I didn’t know what was going on. Although my father was a fine Christian minister who taught me that  equality crossed all racial barriers, I didn’t have any black friends. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew any black people.

Not in Farmville, anyhow. My contacts with people of color were limited pretty much to Minnie and Lizzy. One was the cook for my paternal grandmother in Richmond. The other helped out my maternal grandmother in a small town in North Carolina.

Not until we’d moved away from Farmville during the mid-1950’s did I learn that my father had seen what was coming in Farmville and didn’t want to be any part of it. He knew his congregation would be on the wrong side of the issue. The highly prejudiced side that eventually led to the closing of the public schools and the creation of private schools for the white kids.

As horrible as it sounds, some black kids missed out on up to five years of their education before the county was forced to reopen the public schools in 1964.

I recall my parents telling me that Dickie Moss, the son of a local judge and someone I knew just slightly, was the only white kid to attend the public schools once they reopened.

But I know which side my father was on. If we’d remained in Farmville, I would’ve been the second white kid in public school.

We didn’t remain in Farmville, though. My father knew that the church wouldn’t tolerate his taking the stand he would’ve had to take. So finding a church elsewhere seemed like a better thing to do for his ministry and his family than being booted out for preaching and practicing Christian love.

Was his decision to leave an act of boldness or one of cowardice? I’ve never been able to decide. Probably more important is the question, “Would I have stayed or left if I’d been in his shoes?”

Although I’d like to believe I would’ve stayed and fought for what I knew was right, I honestly don’t know. It’s easy to make strong moral decisions from the safety of my living room fifty-some years later.

I’ve wanted to write this blog post for a number of months, but I wasn’t sure I could or should. My father has been dead since 1993, however, and I assume that most–if not all–of the people involved in the troubled times of the 1950s and 1960s are gone, too.

But if any of them are still alive, I pray that they have experienced a drastic change of heart.

What do you think? A comment would be welcome.

<>

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

A Truly Amazing Adoption Tale

NOTE: A friend has suggested that some of my blog followers and visitors might be interested in receiving my quarterly newsletter. To sign up, please complete this form.

I’m adopted, and so is my daughter, Kristi. I thought you might be interested in something about her adoption that sounds almost too amazing to be true.

Debbie, my wife at that time, was one of those women who was desperate to become a mother. And she succeeded at getting pregnant–once. Beth was born on August 18, 1976; she died of an improperly developed heart on the 21st.

Debbie was never able to get pregnant again, even though she went to Johns Hopkins for microsurgery to have the possible problem corrected. It didn’t work.

After moving from the Eastern Shore of Maryland to Richmond, we decided to apply for adoption. I was in my mid-to-late thirties at the time. The best I can recall, we had only been on the approved list about a year–much sooner than we’d expected–when we got the call that a baby would be available the next week. That was in 1987.

Our agency never let the adoptive parents know about a baby until the time the birth mother had for legally changing her mind had passed. So there was no danger we would lose our baby at some point in the future.

Our agency also had a foster parent program, and our social worker invited us to a thank you banquet for foster parents being held that weekend. She told us our baby’s foster parents would be there and she would point them out to us.

But since they’d had Kristi–I think her original birth name was Ashley–for quite some time, they were having trouble adjusting to the idea of having to give her up. So we were under strict orders not to say anything to them. We didn’t.

Flash forward a few years–I’m not sure how many–and Debbie and I were visiting my father’s former church in Farmville, Virginia, which is about seventy miles from Richmond. Not far, but far enough.

At lunch, we sat near a woman who appeared to be around our age. In talking with her, we discovered that her husband–I believe he was home sitting with one or more sick children–had been my best friend during the first eight years of my life, when I lived in Farmville. As if that wasn’t a pleasant enough surprise, wait till you hear the rest of the story!

While Kristi’s foster parents were attending that banquet, Chuck and his wife were babysitting Kristi!

Some people would call that an amazing coincidence, but we call it a God-thing. How Kristi, who’d been born in a city east of Richmond, ended up in a small community west of Richmond and connected in such a special way with someone who’d once been so important to me is too wild a story to think of as anything but a God-thing.

Unfortunately, Chuck died unexpectedly before getting to see Kristi.

What do you think? How about leaving a comment?

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Another Novel that “Tells It Like It Is”

This past Sunday I shared about an exciting new novel–so new it won’t be released until September. I described it as a novel that “Tells it like it is,” a familiar expression from the 1960s. Today I’m talking about another novel–again not due out for a while–that can be described the same way. Like The Breeding Tree, Voice in the Wilderness doesn’t pull any punches.

Here’s what I wrote in my endorsement:

Voice in the Wilderness isn’t a typical political thriller with some romance thrown in. It’s an all-too-realistic look at contemporary America and where we may be heading if we don’t wake up and do something about it before it’s too late. We have a self-centered liberal president who has ignored his oath of office time after time by showing his contempt for the Constitution. A president who piles executive orders upon executive orders to bypass the authority of Congress. And one who believes he’s smarter than the citizens of the United States.

I won’t go so far as to accuse Mr. Obama of planning to create a national disaster that would—in his mind, anyhow—justify using martial law to control the nation and remain in power forever. But this book—fiction though it be—is a reminder that when the citizens of the United States fail to vote republic-loving people into office, anything is possible.

I’ve read a number of good novels recently, but none that had the page-turner qualities Voice in the Wilderness has. The romantic elements helped to give the story balance.

As I look back at what I’ve written about Voice in the Wilderness, I’m thankful that my First Amendment rights still allow me to voice my opinion freely and openly. If this story should come to pass, openness like mine would soon brand me as a terrorist.

“Give me liberty or give me death.” And may Voice in the Wilderness not simply entertain its readers, but make them more conscious of what’s going on—and what could happen in the near future.

If you get your news only from the liberal news sources, what I’ve said about Mr. Obama probably sounds like the worst of libel. But if you connect with Fox News or similar more conservative news sources, you’ve heard the other side of the story and understand where I’m coming from.

What perfect timing that Voice in the Wilderness is coming out ahead of the next presidential election, even while candidates are jockeying for position in what will undoubtedly be the most important election in decades. Possibly ever.

ARCS (Advance Review Copies) of H. L. Hegley’s Voice in the Wilderness are available. Although certain to contain minor mistakes, they don’t get in the way of the story. Go HERE to check them out.

I pray that Voice in the Wilderness will make a number of readers start looking at what’s going on in America and  take stock of what’s at stake and determined to make their votes count–no matter which side they’re on.

This is a controversial subject. I don’t expect everyone who reads this post to agree with me. But if it makes you think, I’m satisfied. Please leave a comment if you’re inclined to, but keep it respectful. Thank you.

<>

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

The First of Two New Novels that “Tell it Like it Is”

If you’re old enough, you remember a wonderful expression from the 1960s. “Tell it like it is.” Of course, we English teachers officially hated it because it wasn’t grammatically correct. As much as the rules of grammar have changed, however, who knows whether it would be acceptable now?

Nonetheless, “Tell it like it is” is a very apt description of two new novels (not yet released) I’ve been privileged to read and review. Both of them deal with issues that people get really worked up about.

One is abortion. The Breeding Tree is a dystopian novel about a future society that believes that its job is the perfecting of the human race. So it uses “creation specialists” to further refine the process. Imperfections are not to be tolerated. So abortion is a common practice, even when an imperfection is only highly likely.

Abortion for them is different, though. Woman don’t have babies. They don’t get pregnant. In fact, their eggs are harvested soon after birth and fertilized artificially whenever a baby is needed. This society has perfected the concept of “test tube babies.”

While learning to become a creation specialist, Kate sees babies at various stages of development. But then she witnesses–in fact, she must participate in–the killing of imperfect babies. When she discovers that one of her eggs was used without her knowledge to create a baby that is scheduled to be terminated, she starts to see her society’s practices in a different light.

If you want to learn what Kate does, read J. Andersen’s The Breeding Tree when it releases in September. It’s available for pre-order now.

I’ll tell you about the other book on Wednesday.

~*~

If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger

Ken Medema: Every Blind Person Should Be So Talented

KenAtPiano KenCloseup KenRoger

If you read my post this past Wednesday, you know that I’m not facing either blindness or deafness. But that doesn’t mean I never wonder how either or those conditions would change whatever years of life I have left. As I pointed out, deafness would deprive me of some of my favorite activities and ministries. But blindness would affect more areas of my life, including my writing.

I’m not sure blindness has a positive side, but I have a friend who has put such a positive spin on it I wanted to share it with you.

Back during the years I was teaching school, 1968-1974, a blind singer/song writer/pianist came to the school where I taught and gave a concert in the gym. Those were the days when a Christian performer was still welcome in the public schools.

Ken Medema wasn’t yet a full-time musician. His “day job” was music therapist with the state of Delaware. But he made a real impression on the students and on me.

At a later date Ken came back to Cambridge (Maryland) to do some music at the First Baptist Church. He was staying with the father and stepmother of one of my friends, who lived right behind me, and Blake had a crab feast for Ken that Saturday evening. I got to know him some then.

I learned some interesting things about blindness that weekend. Like how he knew to walk around a vacuum cleaner he couldn’t see and how he rushed around the car to open the door for his hostess!

I’m no longer sure how we came to know one another better except perhaps because he was willing to listen to a cassette tape of some of my music and send me me his comments. I’ll never forget getting that tape back with his recommendations taking the place of the music. He’d appeared at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and was all sung–and all talked out–but he took the time to offer his help.

Flash forward a number of years. To early 2003. I learned that Ken would be doing a concert at the First Baptist Church of Richmond. But there was a slight problem. The evening of the concert was the same day Kathleen and I would be arriving in Richmond after moving her down here from upstate New York, and we were both exhausted from the drive.

But Kathleen knew how much seeing and hearing Ken again would mean to me, and was she ever glad we went to hear him! Ken recognized my voice and remembered me. Amazing…

We last saw Ken sometime around 2008 when he did another gig at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, and we picked up right where we’d left off before. The pictures above are from that reunion. We haven’t seen him since then, but we check out his website and know he’s still performing.

I’ve never seen Stevie Wonder perform, so I don’t know how similar he and Ken are, but Ken’s concerts are a wonderful experience. When he was learning to play the piano, his teacher challenged him to learn to improvise, and improvisation has become his specialty. At every performance he has members of the audience supply him with several random words. A moment or two later he’s singing and playing an original song based on those words.

Creating and recording personalized songs is an important part of his business. He’s also written some cantatas. One of the songs he’s most noted for–people are sorely disappointed if he doesn’t do this in a performance–is a hilarious song about Moses. Many people who’re familiar with that song probably have no idea that it was written by a blind musician named Ken Medema.

I have to apologize for something. I can’t do justice to Ken in a single blog post, but at least I’ve given you a little taste of someone who’s special to Kathleen and me. Incidentally, when my mother-in-law went to hear him in Memphis and identified herself in relationship to me, he reacted quite positively and told her what a good song writer I was.

Go, Ken!

Do you have a favorite musician, actor, writer, or whatever that you’ve established a limited but meaningful relationship with over the years? Please leave a comment.

~*~

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Go HERE for links to those places.
Tentative-Front-Cover
Best regards,
Roger