Two Maria Von Trapps & Two’s Company

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Everyone remembers The Sound of Music. Right? And most of you probably know that the Trapp family was real.

I read an interesting article today in the Movieguide email-out about the death of Maria Von Trapp earlier this year. At age ninety-nine. But this Maria wasn’t the one Julie Andrews portrayed in the movie.

This Maria, the last surviving member of the musical family, was a daughter “of delicate health” the nun Maria was brought in to tutor. Eventually she helped–and fell in love with–the whole family.

As a family, they made the decision to flee Austria, even though it meant giving up their wealth. They didn’t become an instant hit in the United States with their singing. Eventually settling in Vermont, they opened the Von Trapp Family Lodge. At that time, both Marias were still living. The former nun died in 1987.

Thus the two Maria Von Trapps in the title of this post. But who or what is “Two’s Company,” and how does it relate to the Von Trapps?

One year during the early-to-mid 1970s, I wandered down to Long Wharf in Cambridge, MD, where a duo called Two’s Company was presenting a concert as part of the First Baptist Church’s annual Sunday night in August series. I didn’t know what to expect, but I was pleased to find that Mike and Sally Hendon were an attractive young couple who made wonderful music together.

Sally played flute and sang, and Mike played guitar and sang. As strange as it might sound, I was so taken by them that I invited them to come home with me for a while. They accepted, and that began a lengthy friendship. Mike and Sally really liked some of my songs and even did a very nice home recording of one of them.

They only spent part of each year on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, however. During the winter, they performed at the Trapp Family Lodge. That fascinated me. Just imagine: working daily in the presence of the real (elder) Maria Von Trapp.

She exerted quite an influence on their music. If I recall correctly, they did two sets a night. Maria wanted classical music during the dinner hour, and Mike and Sally created some wonderful arrangements for flute and guitar. They did pop songs during their later set.

After years of being out of touch, I reconnected with Mike on Facebook. He and Sally are no longer together, but he’s still playing music. I don’t know whether he’s still at the Von Trapp Lodge. Guess I need to ask him, huh?

Have any of you ever been to the Trapp Lodge? Or run into Two’s Company elsewhere? Or just want to share some other thoughts on this subject? Please leave a comment.

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

What Childhood Memories?

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When people start getting older, I thought they began forgetting what happened yesterday or last week while increasing in their ability to spend countless boring hours talking about what happened in their childhood and youth.

Not me. I remember yesterday and last week just fine. Of course, I have problems with names and faces, but that problem has been with me as far back as I can remember. No pun intended.

My problem is I don’t recall much from my childhood and youth. These are most of the things I DO remember:

  • Getting my first bike for Christmas and trying to ride downhill in our grassy backyard
  • Racing a neighborhood boy to the easy chair in my bedroom, breaking the window with it, and my parents making me pay for the repair
  • Going down to a younger friend’s house to watch “Roy Rogers “on TV every week
  • Going to a nearby park for the weekly nickel Coca Cola my parents permitted me to have
  • Watching my mother find where my father had hidden the grandmother clock (behind the studio couch) he’d bought her for Christmas
  • Receiving our first TV from the church my father pastored and the horrible reception we got
  • Attending a children’s choir practice and hating it
  • Finally learning to ride that bicycle
  • Crying when I heard we were moving away from the place we’d lived the first eight years of my life
  • Pigging out on homemade rolls at the home of a church member who babysat me overnight for some reason
  • Pretending to play the guitar that was sitting around at my friend Chuck’s house
  • Being severely frightened by an elementary school program which included a demo of the sparks from static electricity

Those events all took place during the first eight years of my life. I probably remember no more than an equal number of things from age eight to approximately age fifteen. That’s when I had acute viral encephalitis and almost died. But that’s another story.

In short, I almost get jealous of people who vividly remember a lot about their childhoods .

But who knows? Maybe I’ll be the reverse of a (stereo)typical older person and continue to be able to live in the present. I don’t know about your present, but mine is a great deal nicer than what little I remember about my distant past.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

Ted Baehr and Family-Friendly Movies

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My wife and I are very particular about what we watch. That’s why we use our TV only to watch DVDs and the small number of programs we approve of (using Apple TV; we don’t have cable) .

During the first eight or nine years of our marriage, we probably didn’t go the movies more than eight or ten times, and we rarely recognize the names of movies that have been nominated for Academy Awards.  We don’t even know the names of more than a few of the actors who’re popular today.

I think you get the idea. We’re conservative and we don’t allow ourselves to be swayed by pop culture.

A few years ago, I attended a writers’ conference which Dr. Ted Baehr was one of the keynote speakers for. Dr. Baehr is the Chairman of the Christian Film and Television Commission, whose purpose is to clean up the media–some of you are old enough to remember when blatant sex, language, and violence weren’t a problem yet–and to encourage the production of wholesome entertainment.

He awards yearly Teddy Awards to media people who deserve recognition and publishes  Movieguide, which gives very specific information about current and upcoming movies, as well as movies being released on DVD. Not only does each review give ratings for language, violence, and sex, it gives specifics. For example, the number of times objectionable language is used and the type–e.g., vulgarity, light, profanity.

Yes, Movieguide is conservative. It’s supposed to be. A parent following Movieguide’s reviews won’t make the mistake of taking her child to see something inappropriate. Or of going to see something she’ll be shocked to find offensive.

Thanks to Ted Baehr and others like him, Hollywood has seen a number of small, church-produced Christian films become hits. The folks in Hollywood have finally had to admit that clean, decent movies sell tickets and are jumping on the bandwagon.

Just in the last five or six months, my wife and I have probably averaged a movie a month because so many more decent movies are being released now–and we haven’t gone to see all of the ones that Movieguide had recommended. Among those we’ve seen are “God’s Not Dead,” “Heaven’s for Real,” “The Son of God,” and–most recently–“The Identical.”

We avoided “Noah” because Movieguide (and other sources) made clear that it deviated rather severely from the biblical account of the flood.

Not all of the movies Movieguide recommends are blatantly Christian. A movie may strongly represent Christian values without preaching and salvation being involved.

What kind of movies and TV shows do you watch? Do the language, sex, and violence on TV offend you or do you simply tolerate it? Please leave a comment and tell us what you think.

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

What’s My Legacy?

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Ever since writing The Devil and Pastor Gus, a novel about a minister who wants to leave a worthwhile legacy to future generations, I’ve been thinking about that subject a lot.

Poor Gus didn’t think his accomplishments as a minister would have a very wide-ranging or long-lasting effect. As I look back at my three pre-writing careers, I can relate.

Although I occasionally receive encouragement from former students that I was more successful as a teacher than I thought at the time, what I taught them isn’t likely to touch their children or grandchildren.

Working as a counselor/interviewer in a Federal jobs program put a little money into the pockets of the participants who learned to play the system. But even if I helped change anyone’s life, the effect of that won’t last long, either.

No matter how successful I was during most of my computer programming career, my prize accomplishments were about to become obsolete–no legacy possibilities there–at the time I was transferred into something I proved highly inept at. I hope nobody will remember my failures there.

Although Kathleen will remember me as a loving husband (assuming I die first) and my daughter may remember me as a loving father, how can I continue to have a positive influence on them–much less to touch future generations?

I’ve written over two hundred Christian songs and some poems and short plays as well. But the songs have never been published or sung by anyone else and my other writings were published in newspapers and magazines that future readers will not have access to or care about.

No wonder Pastor Gus got so upset at the realization that his life wasn’t going to count for much once he was gone. He didn’t mind the thought of being forgotten. But he wanted to do something that would be remembered and accomplish a lot of good, even without his name attached to it.

Maybe that’s why The Devil & Pastor Gus, which is due out on November 25 of this year, is so special to me. Maybe that novel will prove to be my legacy.

What have you done that you think/hope will outlast you and have a positive effect on others in the future? Won’t you share that with us by leaving a comment?

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

Happy House-Husband

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When I retired at sixty-two to write novels full-time, I didn’t realize that writing full-time was going to be even more tiring than going to work every day. Nor did I anticipate other ways my life would change.

Although I don’t have to get up at 6:30 on weekdays when my wife does, I enjoy doing it because fixing our breakfasts (we don’t eat the same thing for breakfast)  is a great thank you for the many things she does for me.

Summer can be a drag, though. Despite what seems like weeks of drought, the grass seems to need cutting at least once a week. And it always seems to exceed the easy-to-mow height before I can get to it. Oh, and did I mention that I have to mow early before the temp gets too hot? And that means mowing while the grass is still wet. That makes for quite a workout for a mower that doesn’t propel itself.

“Wait a minute,” you say. “This post is supposed to be about ‘happy’…”

Whoops! Sorry. I may not like having to mow, but it’s good exercise. And the lawn does look MUCH better when I’m finished. Plus, my wife always praises me for getting it done. A guy never outgrows his need for praise.

Vacuuming is another of the chores I do. One reason I’m willing to talk about this with a smile is my wife doesn’t push me to do it. If I do it once a week or every two weeks, she is equally tolerant. Perhaps because I don’t push her about any of her chores.

After supper, she washes and I dry. The dishes, that is.

Laundry is mine to take care of, too. I do a load of whites/lights on Thursday and a load of darks on Friday. By spreading the load–pardon the pun–over two days, I have less to put away either day. If Kathleen wants the bed linens done, she does those on Saturday, and all I have to do is help remake the bed.

Throwing things into the washer, transferring them to the dryer, and putting them away takes very little time and effort. That makes laundry my favorite task.

We own very few clothes that need ironing. When ironing must be done, Kathleen is smart enough not to trust me to do it.

One of my major chores is putting the dog out and in repeatedly throughout the day while Kathleen is at work. It’s not worth the price of a doggy door, and it forces me to get up from the computer and stretch occasionally. Uh, make that frequently.

So I have it pretty easy, I think. We have the home workload balanced very satisfactorily, and I still have plenty of time for writing.

What’s your take on housework? Do it? Avoid it? Hope someone else will do it? How about leaving a comment and sharing your view?

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

 

The Glory of Morning Glories

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Was it Mark Twain who supposedly said he was happy if he looked in the obituary each morning and didn’t see his name? I’m not sure. I must not have Googled on the correct words, and  I probably got the exact quote wrong.

I don’t read newspapers–foxnews.com normally tells me what I need to know about the sad state of the world–and I wouldn’t read the obituary column even if I read newspapers. I’m not that morbid. Even though I’d rather know for sure that I’ll die in my sleep when the time comes, I’m not afraid of death itself. Jesus’ death and resurrection removed that concern.

Now to the topic of morning glories.

When I go outside every morning, I may or may not see sunshine. But- during the summertime – I can count on seeing fresh morning glories blooming everywhere and the ugly remains of the previous day’s blossoms dying off. The picture on the far right is of me standing in front of our next-door-neighbor’s crape myrtle. One of our morning glory vines hand has grown up from the fence into the tree branches. Probably a good three-to-five feet higher than my 5’6″. (Click on the thumbnail for  a larger picture.) The other pictures are of morning glories whose vines are still on the fence.

The ability of morning glories to reseed (maybe not the proper botanical term)  from year to year, even though they’re not perennials, fascinates me. Also the subtle differences among the blooms.

Morning glories make me think about life and death. Over the course of mankind’s existence, everyone has eventually died and babies have been born to take their place. That’s one way to look at morning glories symbolically.

But I prefer another viewpoint. Each bloom has an appointed lifespan, just as each of us does. None of us knows what ours will be.

But for Christians, secure in their belief in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the bloom dying on the vine might symbolize earthly death. The dead blossoms will never become alive and beautiful again.

I’d like to picture our entry into Heaven as being like a dead blossom being reborn as an immensely more beautiful morning glory than it had been here on earth. Something that doesn’t happen with real morning glories.

What do you think? Please leave a comment.

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

My First Car

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If you’ve been following my blog, you may have already read about the fact that I didn’t learn to drive until I was a senior in college or get my license until the day I was moving from Western Maryland to the Eastern Shore to start teaching. I ended my post that day prior to getting my first car.

I’d like to thank the reader who reminded me that I’d promised to finish the story and asked me to please do so. So here goes.

I landed in Cambridge, Maryland, with a new drivers license but no car and was rooming at a boarding house beside Long Wharf. Without kitchen facilities, I had to eat every meal out. The High Spot opened for breakfast, and I could walk there easily enough. Good thing I liked their food, since other restaurants were appreciably further.

Equally good was the fact I was teaching at the old Cambridge High School, which I could walk to, also. It was further from my boarding house than the High Spot, though. Much further.

I was in a bit of a quandary about how I would get anywhere else in Cambridge without a car, but one of my mother’s aunts was kind enough to provide a solution. Not only did she die at a convenient time, she left me her old Chevy. Although I used to enjoy visiting in her home, I hadn’t seen her in years. Nonetheless, I appreciated her more than ever at learning of my inheritance.

I’m a little hazy on how I took delivery of her car. Either my parents drove separately to Cambridge or my father drove my “new” car and I drove him back to Cumberland, a four-hour drive at best.

But either way, I had a car. Hmm. An older Chevy, boring blue, no radio. Power steering and power brakes, neither of which I was used to. Boy, did I have problems keeping from oversteering and overbraking! But I didn’t kill myself or anyone else. And at least I had a car.

I’d become friends with another first year teacher, and we decided to get an apartment together. That freed up some of the budget that I’d had to use on all of those meals out.

Bob–I’ll omit his last name not to protect him, but because I can’t recall how to spell it correctly–had just bought a new car. A beautiful burgandy Ford LTD with a super sound system. It even had an eight-track tape player! (Did I fail to mention this was 1968?)

So I decided to do some car shopping. At least I had something to trade in. I needed to go inexpensive, though. Make that cheap.

I fell in love with a white 1968 Mustang with black vinyl roof. If memory serves correctly, it cost a whopping $3600 (I was making $5700 a year). I knew the payments on that car would keep me broke, and I was apt to be very cautious about money. Especially since I’d never been in debt before

So I reluctantly compromised and bought a 1968 Ford Falcon. Blue body and white top. Not vinyl. $2400. Payments I could afford.

That car served me well for a number of years. It was still drivable even after the hood blew up (as in “flew up because it wasn’t properly latched”) and crinkled so badly it wouldn’t shut easily. I had to sit on it and bounce to get it shut, much to the amusement of everyone who saw me do it. And the embarrassment of my first wife, who managed to total that car a short time later.

We replaced the Falcon with a Honda Civic. Some of you remember the old Civics. Bright orange. Required the use of a choke to get it started. I’m certainly much happier with my current bright red Civic.

But the Falcon was the last car that was just mine for many years. Our one car played the role of family car.

This story may not be the most exciting one you’ll read today, but I’ve really enjoyed reliving those memories.Thanks for listening.

What was your first car? How about leaving a comment and telling us about it?

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

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”--check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger