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Category: Family


Our youngest son, J.D., graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University on Saturday, May 18. Cyndy and Cameron went out to Nacogdoches on Friday and stayed at J.D.’s apartment. Most of what had been in the apartment was in a rented truck in the parking lot. Cyndy was to get up at an obscene time to save our seats in the coliseum.w

I stayed at the house to take care of the dogs and pick our oldest son, Conner, up at the airport at midnight on Friday. I think we got a few hours sleep, but I wouldn’t swear to it. The rain was holding off. We had a chance to let the dogs out. We left them inside with food and water and headed out.

The trip out to Nacogdoches was thankfully uneventful. We arrived in time to find a parking place reasonably close and get there in time to say hi to everyone before the ceremony began. Which was none too soon. It was a nice ceremony, but it always seems to take longer than necessary. After the graduation, we all gathered for pictures – family and friends.

Then we all headed home. Conner and I were apparently the first of the family getting out of town as we found out later. According to the forecast a couple of days earlier, we should have been in pouring rain all morning. All we got was the humidity.

At one point on the way back we drove through rain. Then it was just overcast. After passing Tyler, we got some more rain, heavier that earlier. Then around Canton the bottom dropped out. I couldn’t see anything but water and the windshield wipers were out of their league.

I actually had to pull off the highway and take cover at a gas/travel station. We took a pause for the cause before Conner told me he’d drive. Mother nature had decreased the rain’s intensity. Besides, Conner has driven in circumstances I hope I never will.

It took some time after we got home to be certain everyone was okay. Then we could get back to being proud of J.D. and settling back in. J.D. will say things about his graduation. He already has. But he’ll never say his graduation day was uneventful. You know that truck in the parking lot that they loaded from the apartment? They unloaded it and a couple of vehicles of stuff at San Marcos in the rain that night at his new apartment.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

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Cyndy and I took granddaughter Kelley to Holiday in the Park on the final Sunday, thanks to comp tickets and parking pass courtesy of Suzanne Mason. When our son, Cameron, and I took Kelley and a friend last year, the only roller coaster we got to ride was the Runaway Mine Train (she was shorter then). And that was not “intense enough” for her. My objective this year was to ride a more intense ride.

We had planned to get there before the park opened at 2 p.m. We got there just as they were opening so we came close. We made our way to the parking lot and settled in line. We started to pass an aisle when I stopped to let the truck waiting come on out. He came out and motioned behind.

“There’s a parking spot down there is what he’s saying,” Cyndy said.

So I turned and, sure enough, there was an empty space. Things were starting on a good note. We knew we had limited time because we planned to be gone before dark, so we headed for the Texas Giant. As we waited in line we listened to televisions with the sound system turned up louder than necessary, playing things no one was paying attention to. You just couldn’t get away from the sound.                                                                                                          

While we talked and joked, I was thinking about the ride we were about to go on. I have never ridden a roller coaster bigger than the Runaway Mine Train, and there is a reason for that. I don’t have a fear of heights, but I do have a healthy respect for the distance to the ground. I have also never found it comfortable to feel as if I might be thrown through the air at any given moment.

Kelley, being young and fearless, had none of my misgivings. She was ready to ride an “intense ride.” I could have just sat it out and waited for them at the end of the ride. I had that choice all the way up to the time we got in the seats. Kelley probably wouldn’t have cared. But I was not about to take anything away from her “intense” experience on the largest roller coaster she had ridden.

I believe Cyndy and Kelley got in the last seat of the last car in the chain. I got into the seat in front of them. No one got in beside me. Which was just as well. We headed out, going up the first upward incline. I looked out over the park and the surrounding area.

As we crept higher, I looked at the tracks and the people in front of me. At the top of the incline, and just before we began our descent, I heard Cyndy say “okay Kelley,” letting her know it was time to throw her arms up and scream – which they did a lot. After the ride, when we got out of the seats and headed for the exit, Cyndy said she thought it was fun, and Kelley said it was “awesome.” I was glad to be back on solid ground.

We had to exit through the gift shop – what else is new? There were employees behind a counter to sell pictures. We told one of them we were in the back car and she pulled it up on the screen. Kelley didn’t want a picture, but the employee gave Cyndy a card so we could buy it online.

Part of me wanted to get the picture. Another part of me didn’t. In it, Cyndy and Kelley are throwing up their hands and screaming. I have my eyes closed as tight as I could get them.

I did it. I went on an “intense” ride with my granddaughter and came out unscathed (albeit with my eyes closed). Which is a good thing. Because I will never do it again.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

He walked through the streets in darkness,

Homeless but not alone,

A man on a mission of reverence

beyond the mundane chore of survival,

in a spirit of grace and mercy.

___

He stopped at Johnson’s Laundry

With it’s Closed for Christmas sign,

He knelt on the sidewalk outside the door,

Quietly saying the Lord’s Prayer,

the only prayer he knew.

___

Thanking “Papa” Johnson

For the clothes left unclaimed,

He left a small package – a crude, homemade cross

With a card on which was scrawled,

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Next was Garcia’s Grocery

For the leftovers not yet spoiled

He knelt and prayed –

Another crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Ten blocks later, Miller’s Hardware,

For his sturdy, cardboard box dwelling,

and timber for his bed,

A kneel, a prayer, a larger crude cross,

And the card, “Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___

Too far from home, the mission closed,

He found a bench in the park,

after a passerby bought coffee

and he walked – recalling forgotten memories –

without knowing what they meant.

___

Early the next morning on Christmas Day,

he fought the wind and rain,

through the cold streets to the mission,

where Christmas dinner was served, the soul sustained,

and life again had purpose.

___

The rain stopped, the wind died down,

as he trekked on home,

home – an alley behind the church

white and made of stone,

with a view of the cross on the wall.

___

He turned into the alley

and stopped in his tracks.

Where his cardboard box had stood,

was a sturdy lumber shack,

with a roof, a window, and a door.

___

He opened the door to a sturdy wooden cot,

An orange crate table, his few possessions inside,

with something new on top.

A suit of clothes hung on a hook,

with the laundry marker still on it.

___

He closed the door because he could,

he’d forgotten what it felt like.

Walking to the table he turned on the lamp,

it had been years since he had his own light,

but then his breath went away.

___

Also on the table sat a Bible, brand new,

inscribed with a name he hadn’t used in years,

next to a picture of a family he’d forgotten he had.

He stood staring at them, his mind racing,

memories bombarding his thoughts.

___

He sat on the cot and picked up the Bible,

after staring at the picture a while.

He ran his fingers over the only thing he owned

that wasn’t worn by wear or weather,

with emotions he couldn’t control.

___

Through tears, with shaking hands,

he opened the Bible and read

“Merry Christmas, from Jesus.”

___________________________

© 2009  Daniel L. Roark

Merry Christmas!

Peace be with you.

My son, J.D., playing college ball.

I’ve been watching the playoff games. For one thing it’s easy to have on in the background while I work on booking shows for next year. For another thing, at this point I have a love-hate relationship with the Astros. I go back and forth between wanting them to go all the way again, and wanting them to get their asses kicked. They are a Texas team, true, but they are still – the Astros.

Then again, watching the playoffs reminds me that it’s not freaking raining EVERYWHERE! More importantly, I overload on baseball to get me through the drought until spring training. The only other sport we watch is some golf on the weekends – the tournaments of which have also been having some good weather, by the way.

The playoffs are getting interesting now. The games from the wild card games to the current two series were decidedly one-sided. It’s a competition in both series now. I’m interested to see how it turns out. The announcers are freaking annoying, but that’s why the mute button was invented.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

Dear Capital One,

At first it was kind of flattering that you wanted to touch base with me so often with costly envelopes. Then it saddened me that you began to send the same costly envelopes to my sons. Then to my wife under a business name of mine that she has nothing to do with.

I recycle, so there’s that, but why are you wasting your money? I do not have a credit card with you, nor do I want one. So please stop.

One more thing – I have seen most of Samuel L. Jackson’s movies. I like Samuel L. Jackson. But I don’t watch his movies any more because I am tired of his voice. That is also your fault. But I’m still tired of it.

And it’s none of your damn business what is in my wallet.

Dan Roark

Peace be with you.

David Crosby and band

As a sustaining member of KXT 91.7, I opt in for all of the drawings they have. Occasionally, I win. As in the case of the drawing a few months ago for tickets to see David Crosby on Sunday the 20th at the Granada Theater. I received an email from Lauren Menking in the marketing and communications department at KXT, saying that myself and the others blind copied on the email had won two tickets each. With the show on May 20 and our 26th anniversary on the 25th, Cyndy and I thought it made for a good time to go ahead and celebrate.

Cyndy and I saw Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young at Texas Stadium in 1974. We were there with other people, but we were all friends. Cyndy and I were friends in high school and dated after I graduated and she was a senior. The story of the years between then and when we got married is a story for the actual anniversary post.

I’ve seen the different formations of the band over the years. I’ve seen Neil Young  numerous times. I’ve seen CSN when they were at the top of their game. I’ve seen them when they had to prop Crosby up and have someone sing for him backstage. A friend of mine was the sound man at Cardi’s. I was there before David Crosby’s show the night he was busted. I got a weird vibe about the situation – wasn’t hard to do at Cardi’s – and I left. I wasn’t wrong.

Cyndy and I didn’t know exactly what to expect this time, but we knew it would be a good show. Again, I wasn’t wrong. You would be hard pressed to find a show that was so complete. At least as complete as only two hour long sets can be.

They played songs that punctuated David’s life and career. He played Guinnevere in the first set. He also played a song by his son, James Raymond, who was playing keyboard and adding vocals. We didn’t know until the end of the show that he was David’s son. Jeff Pevar was on guitar and vocals, Mai Agan on bass, Stevie D on drums, and Michelle Willis on keyboard and vocals.

The second set was better than the first. No doubt planned that way. They played more songs from the CPR band and David’s newer songs. As I was wondering when he was going to play the song, he put on his Stratocaster and began playing Wooden Ships. A short while later, Crosby said he “loved [his] country, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, and the whole thing.” Then they played My Country Tis of Thee, a patriotic song he did with Crosby, Stills, and Nash.

He ended the show by saying, “we’re borrowing a song from a friend.” Then they played a great version of Neil Young’s Ohio, with all of us singing along.

An excellent show and perfect ending to a 26th Anniversary evening – having started with dinner at Desperados.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

 

 

 

Kelley as Auntie Em (center)

Anyone that knows me, knows that when things get weird, I’m apt to look up and say “Auntie Em, Auntie Em.” Mainly because I would feel pretty damn stupid clicking my heels. Neither of which proves to be very effective. Things still get weird.

That said, wouldn’t you figure that my granddaughter, Kelley Strockbine, would play Auntie Em in The Wizard of Oz at her school, Homestead Elementary on Saturday, May 5. Encore Kids is a company that teaches acting to elementary students in schools which lack the resources.

Kelley also played one of the Lullaby League Munchkins and part of an Ensemble. All the kids did a very good job. The sound could have been louder, but everyone got the gist of it. After all, we’ve heard the story. It was a cute interpretation.

The Lion was a substitute from another school. The girl that played the lion at Homestead woke up with appendicitis and had to be rushed to the hospital. By show time at 4:30 p.m. (I understood why it was that late on a Saturday, but still wasn’t real pleased), she no longer had her appendix and was doing well.

As I said, it was a cute interpretation of the Wizard of Oz. All the children did a very good job. And kudos to Encore Kids for helping to keep arts in the elementary schools.

Cast of Oz

Peace be with you.

Let’s make no mistake – most Mondays suck. Since it is the first of the week for everybody, everyone wants to share their particular suckiness with the rest of the world. I’d like to say that it’s hard to blame them because it’s their job, but I can’t.

There is a guy that mows yards on our block. And other places I’m sure, but that is not of my concern. Over the years, he has changed days. First on Wednesdays, then on Tuesdays, now, as you would figure, Monday. He could have even started with Thursday, but I’ve slept way too many nights since then.

He has also varied times – from annoying to pain in the ass. Almost always before noon. I understand (a little) when it gets up into the 90s on a regular basis. But it’s still cooler now and I wish he would take that into account.

I could even live with all of that – having to do with mowing. But the leaf blowers drive me crazy. Forget that the only thing they do is blow. Forget the fact that, here in Farmers Branch anyway, it’s against city code. The grass doesn’t just magically disappear. It just goes somewhere else – including our yard.

I’ve paid attention to other instances around the neighborhood – they thankfully happen after I get up. I’ve come to the conclusion that they either have no clue how to operate a leaf blower, or they just want to make the homeowner think they’re working harder than they are. Either way, the dogs in the neighborhood – including our two – begin to loudly protest the sound of the leaf blowers.

Then when I got up, everybody and their uncle began to call, email, message, or text – preventing me from accomplishing anything else, including waking up. Like I say, some Mondays suck more than others.

Then I woke up this morning – on Tuesday – with a headache that hung around for most of the day. Do some Tuesdays suck more than others as well, or can I still blame that on Monday? I wonder.

Peace be with you.

Richie Smith and I

Richie Smith and I

Richie lost his fight with brain cancer and went to his heavenly home within the past twelve hours. Below is the post I wrote when I met Richie in 2016. He was a wonderful young man. Even at the worst, he had a smile on his face, a song in his heart, and praise for God. He will be sorely missed by his family and friends – which includes everyone he ever met. I can still hear him sing his song, For A Reason. Rest in peace, Richie.

I was hosting the Angela’s at the Crosswalk Monday night open mic on Halloween when I first met Richie Smith. He came in with his mom and dad, waving to people as they came by the tables – just saying hi. His dad, Rick, came over and told me who he was so I knew when his slot came up. I asked him what he needed, sound-wise. He said Richie just needed a mic because he was going to play the song on a small Bose iPod/iPhone player.

When his time came, Rick helped Richie up to the microphone. Richie’s left leg was in a brace and his left arm was in a sling. I got him set up with the mic and his dad helped him start the songs. I adjusted the sound and Richie introduced himself.

“I’m Richie Smith. I had surgery for brain cancer to remove a tumor and what was left was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer. After surgery, I came out I was like this. This isn’t part of my costume.”

The crowd erupted in laughter. That is a perfect introduction to Richie. He is a twenty-two year old young man who has always loved music. He could play piano as well as other instruments. Music came to him naturally. He performed in cafes for charity.

Then he was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2011. No one outside of his family knew he had brain cancer. When it worsened in 2012, he had two

Richie and his father, Rick.

Richie and his father, Rick.

days to live without immediate brain surgery. After the surgery on November 24, 2012, what could not be removed was diagnosed as grade 4 brain cancer, and he was given two years to live. “The fight raged on, and in 2013 there were two brain tumors growing in size, leading Richie to lose most mobility on the left side of his body, but he never gave up.”1

Richie thanks God for his music even after all that has happened. His positive attitude and faith in God is infectious. There were a number of his close friends there, but, as far as Richie is concerned, everyone there was his friend. He had everyone laughing and dancing along to one of his songs. Even me – and I don’t dance – used to long ago,  but not anymore. Except for Halloween night.

Two weeks later, when I once again hosted the open mic, Richie was on the list. His left arm hung by his side rather than held up in a sling. He played piano with his right hand while he sat behind it and sang. His father, Rick, played the cajon. Once again, his laughter and infectious spirit filled the room. He played a hilarious cover of Skinny Girl Jeans with some additions of his own. Richie had the crowd singing along on Lean on Me by Bill Withers.

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

Veronica, Richie, and Rick Smith

And, naturally, he played his song, For A Reason. Not only is it the name of his song, but it is also the name of his For A Reason Foundation. For A Reason is also Richie first official song release, produced by multi-platinum producer, John Kurzweg. The song was released this past Thursday, the fourth anniversary of his first brain surgery. It was also – as Richie pointed out at Angela’s – Thanksgiving, his mother, Veronica’s, birthday, and his re-birth. His re-birth is how he refers to the immediate emergency surgery.

For A Reason is available on iTunes, Amazon, and the usual online music distribution sites. You can also check out Richie’s Facebook page and his YouTube channel. You can see Richie on Mondays at Angela’s or  at the fourth Saturday Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA) showcase on December 17.

Peace be with you.

                                                                                        1  Quoted from ournewmonarch.com

Not that I have heretofore done a lot of thinking about the growth curve. Which is precisely my point. Have any other parents actually worried about a growth curve? I was watching the Pediasure commercial where the little boy says his shirt is too big and the mother worries about his being off the growth curve. Then, after a couple of days or so with two bottles of Pediasure a day – wouldn’t you know it – he’s right back on that sucker.

Each of my four children grew differently. As did their friends at church and school. Not once did I hear, or worry about, a growth curve. I’m sure at some point we may have bought them Pediasure, but not because we thought it would right any perceived wrong. All four turned out just fine. Even J.D., who wasn’t sure for a while if he was going to get taller at all – he did.

Not that there is not a growth curve. I have seen and heard of children that grew abnormally. However, I don’t know whether their situation was caused by something specific or attributed to the growth curve.

Just saying…..

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

 

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