Tag Archive: Center


Heading out to Georgia and Tennessee last week I stayed in KOAs when I wasn’t staying with friends. As a member, I get 10% off every night and points for every stay. I got a tent site with hookups, pulled the van into the site, plugged in my power strip, and settled in.

An ill-fated trip to Colorado where I made it no farther than Amarillo in late April began with a stay at the KOA in Abilene. The staff was very nice and helpful. The high temperature of a warm 80 dropped when the sun went down to the 60s and made for a pleasant night.

I was remembering that night with fondness as I pulled into the Toomsuba, Mississippi KOA on Tuesday the 21st. Before I left Farmers Branch, the Weather Channel was announcing a coming heat wave that could possibly set records – the center of which was right around Atlanta, Ga which was where I was headed. What they didn’t say was that the humidity percentage was going to rival the temperature.

Fortunately, it was not yet that humid in Toomsuba, even though it was in the middle of a large wooded area. But it was upwards of 90 when I pulled in about 6:30. The woman in the office/store greeted me and checked me in.

“Nice to have you here. The store closes at 7.” She checked the time again. “Oh good, you made it before the mosquitos come out.”

Well, good. I put the extension cord through the slightly open passenger front window, then stuffed my towel in the crack. Fortunately, mosquitos don’t care for me much, but I’m not immune. I have an Arctic Air that Cameron loaned me. It doesn’t work like they say on tv. It worked okay sitting behind my fan blowing cool air into it, but it wouldn’t have cooled the van by itself. Hell, both together were struggling against the heat before the sun went down. But after the sun went down, I had a peaceful night.

I stayed with friends, Joe and Lisa Catanese, while in Athens. Joe and I played at Akademia Brewing Company on Thursday. On Wednesday and Thursday in Athens, the temperature was in the 90s and the humidity was 89%. Fortunately, on Friday afternoon when I pulled into the KOA in Cartersville, Ga, the humidity was only about 50%, but at 92 degrees at 6 p.m. the Arctic Air and fan had more work to do. I worked on the computer and watched a movie sitting in front of the fan(s) moving as little as I needed to. It’s the only time I wear shorts. And again, after dark it got cooler and relatively pleasant.

You never can depend on the weather. But you can depend on KOA camps. It costs considerably less than a hotel room, it has a bathroom, shower, and sense of community. Keeping costs down is essential to any possible monetary success for a touring artist. I utilize travel centers and rest areas as well. I couldn’t stay every night in a KOA on a two week tour. But it’s nice to know they’re there when I need a break, electricity, and a shower.

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

Peace be with you.

seated l-r: Kelley, Marie, Martha, and Mom, standing (in green), Cyndy

seated l-r: Kelley, Marie, Martha, and Mom, standing (in green), Cyndy

A while back, I wrote about my family having to move my Aunt Marie to assisted living and my receiving her Hammond organ that she and I would play when I was in high school. Her birthday party on Sunday, November 29, was the first time I had seen Marie since she moved into Brookdale. My parents, daughter, Jennifer, and granddaughter, Kelley, met us there. Dad met Cyndy and I in the lobby and took us back.

When we approached the door to the wing, I looked up at the sign at the side of the door. It said, “Memory Care Neighborhood.” That was the first time I had seen the phrase and I thought it was perfect. And that was before I entered the neighborhood.

In my experience with senior living centers – which increases with the passing of time – in each area, there is one employee that the residents cling to, as it were. In the memory care neighborhood, it was Barbara. When she first began working there, she wore red shoes all the time. When she was not there, the residents would ask where the lady with the red shoes was.

There is a reason for that. She was the “mayor” of the neighborhood. She helped our

l-r: Mom, Barbara, Jennifer, and Kelley

l-r: Mom, Barbara, Jennifer, and Kelley

family get situated with Marie in a room where we could converse. Marie insisted that her best friend, Martha, be there. Marie seemed to be more grounded when Martha was with her. Martha is her constant anchor to the present. Regardless of how her memory might fail her, Martha was there. And if Martha was there, all was right with the world.

While we were talking to Marie, I was still unsure what to say. I kept constant eye contact, but we had little interaction. However, our eyes said plenty. There were flashes where I had no doubt she knew who I was (my red hair helped – she always liked my hair. It’s as long now as it was then, but not quite as red. When she would see me on holidays during high school and after, she would feel my hair after we hugged.).

Dad and Jennifer

Dad and Jennifer

Then there were times when her mind would drift. But Martha was there, so it was okay. Marie was happier than I have seen her for years, particularly since my uncle Pick passed away. This was the deliriously happy with life Marie that used to skip church and take Dennis and I to Six Flags – riding all the rides with us. The Marie that listened and watched carefully when I played my songs on family occasions.

After Jennifer and Kelley helped Barbara and the staff divvy up the cake for everyone in the neighborhood, we went into the dining room. Dad helped scoop the ice cream to go with the cake. Jennifer helped serve. We all had a nice visit and party. Our family interacted with several residents. Of course the writer in me didn’t miss much.

Cyndy and I hugged Marie good-bye, as did the rest of the family, and we left after thanking Barbara for her help and dedication to the residents. She said that was where God led her to be. We told her that her dedication illustrated her faith.

Marie had a wonderful birthday – with family, if only briefly in recognition. She was with her best friend, Martha, and her neighbors. Barbara was there to take care of her. And God will take care of the rest.

Peace be with you.

11064659_10152721017857172_5984720308632017596_n [Re-posted from DSA blog] October has been a busy month for Dallas Songwriters Association (DSA). There were several special events in addition to the regular weekly events (all of which went well). The first was a visit by Skype with Tirk Wilder at the 2nd Tuesday meeting at the Center for Community Cooperation. Board member, Ken Duren, invited Wilder to speak at the meeting and Tirk graciously accepted.

Once the technical difficulties – such as they were – were worked out and we could see him and he could see us, the presentation began. Ken introduced him by saying that they had been friends since the 70s. The two of them reminisced a bit before Wilder told the story about writing the theme song to Walker: Texas Ranger. During the meeting, he told several stories about songwriting and Nashville – some hilarious and some horrifying.

After answering questions from the attending group, Tirk critiqued three members’ songs. He had offered to do song critiques and they were the songs he was sent. He had each songwriter move to a chair in front of the computer so the two of them could talk face to face. Wilder had some very helpful suggestions for the songwriters. According to the three songwriters, Tirk was right on with his critique.

Wilder also recommended Broadjam for songwriters wanting to get an honest critique of their songs. Tirk himself is one of the pro reviewers listed on the site. Then it was time to wrap things up. After those in attendance expressed our thanks to him for visiting with us, the Skype connection was broken.

As the meeting wound down, Harry Hewlett said that Wilder was right about Broadjam. Harry had paid to have Tirk review his song. While it had taken some time – he’s a busy man – his review of Harry’s song was right on the mark as well. Not only is Tirk Wilder a good songwriter, but he is a very likeable person and tells a good verbal story as well. He even took time to go into another room and come back with one of the BMI awards for the “Eyes of the Ranger” to show us.

Stay tuned for the other special events….

Keep writing the songs that are in your heart.

[Peace be with you.]

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