Music & Memories

A treble clef is on fire and water.

I was listening to my favorite radio station the other day (XM Radio, channel 59-country classics), and they played a song by Slim Willet recorded in 1952 titled, “Don’t Let the Stars Get in Your Eyes†(for you know you are the only one I’ll ever love). I remembered that song so distinctly that I could recall where I was the first time I heard it. I was only 11 years old, summer was over and fall was on its way, Mom was cookin’ supper and had the radio playing on the only station we could get (WNRZ-Grundy, VA), Dad was due home from working in the coal mine around 4pm, and my brother Jerry and I were eager to sit down with our parents for a delicious dinner. At the table, we never talked about Dad’s work, things that went on deep inside those Virginia mountains stayed inside those mountains. The coal miners in our camp, after supper, would gather daily at the foot of the bridge located in the camp’s center and talk coal mining until it was dark, then they slowly walked the short distance to their homes and prepared for bed. There were no female miners back then, it was perceived as bad luck for a woman to enter the coal mines. That is no longer true as I have a female cousin that was a coal miner for years. Anyway, getting back to the song by Slim, I can remember how the song made me feel and trying to piece together how grownups felt about the opposite sex. I had a very vague idea of what romantic love entailed and that song seemed to give me some idea of how a man could love a woman and miss her terribly if she were away, how he could be concerned that she would find someone else and forget about him. It took me a few years to figure out how complex love could be, and yet, how simple falling in love is. I think the person we choose to fall in love with, and it is a choice, is the most important choice we make in our life. Some of us make that choice more than once, but the importance is never less. I have a picture of myself as a 9-year-old on my desk to remind me of the kid I was and the contrast to the person I am now. An old Malayan Proverb says, “One can pay back the loan of gold, but one dies forever in debt to those who are kindâ€. A lot of kind people have contributed to the person I am today. As a side note, Perry Como also recorded that song.
I’ll bet that you are as unaware as I was, that over half of Americans are unmarried at age 29. In comparison, I was married at age 18 in 1959. The 1959 average for men was age 22 and for women age 20. I have had the opinion for a long time that you should wait until you were somewhere around age 25 before getting married. Of course, a lot of couples never marry, they just live together. The only criticism I have of such an arrangement is it doesn’t require a true commitment by either person. They may think they are in love, but true love without a legal, binding commitment is a rose whose bloom isn’t as robust and fragrant, a graceful Cheetah running at half speed, or a beautiful picture without a frame. A union of trust between a couple requires a spiritual or public commitment and without it, you lack the framework that is the glue of a relationship. These are the things I have learned after 76 rotations around the Sun. I’m giving this valuable information to all young people for free, put it to good use! 😊
We had three trees removed from our yard a few weeks ago, and it really changed the way things look to us now as far as the yard we used to know. They were close to our property line so we decided we needed to run a string down the line so we could determine where we needed to put two fairly large rocks. They were going to be delivered and put in place by a dump truck, so there would be no moving them after they slid down the truck bed. I tied the piece of string to one of our markers and walked it down the line to the one next to our curb (175 feet). I asked my wife to pick the string up around the half-way mark and move towards the house slowly so I could get it straight. She moved backwards so I shouted for her to move towards the house. She insisted that from where she was standing the line looked straight. Agitated, I dropped my end of the line and strode quickly to her and angrily said, “You can’t possibly tell if the line is straight from where you are. Move in the direction I tell you, or you need to go to the other end and I will stand here and do exactly as you tell meâ€. She dropped the line and walked away with her head hung down and a desolate look on her face. For a brief moment, looking at the way she walked away and the expression on her face, I could tell what it must be like to live with me. Up until that time, I thought I had been knighted by The Queen to only bring her happiness. Since then I have given a lot of thought on how to sail this ship in the channel, where the water is deep but narrow. I am aware my heart doesn’t know for whose life it’s beating, it could, after all, be placed in another human and continue to work as hard as it does for me. But I know I have made a commitment to love her eternally and to bring as much happiness into her life as I’m capable of doing. The one thing I know for sure is that I never want to bring that abundance of sadness to her kind and gentle face again. Brendan Francis said, “The saddest moment in a person’s life comes only onceâ€. I’m think he was referring to the end of one’s life, but I know there are other times that finish only a step or two behind.
I seem to have most of my “good ideas†sitting in my favorite chair out by my shed (workshop) and smoking a cigar. Yes, I know, smoking a cigar couldn’t be one of those good ideas, but that’s not the point. Anyway, while sitting there, slouched in my chair, puffing away, the thought entered my mind that I should make a commitment to start a conversation with a complete stranger at least once each week. I felt it would add more color to my life and, hopefully, to theirs. I know several people that can talk to a complete stranger like they were long lost friends, and I’m betting you have people in your life like that. For me, those friends are mostly female, and I am aware that women are more sociable then us guys, but I decided that I wanted to test this theory of talking to strangers and so the quest began. It has been several weeks now since it began, and I must say I have had some interesting conversations. Some of the attempts failed miserably because the other person had absolutely no interest in talking with me, but others were delightful. There were all sorts of opportunities; people I met while doing my daily walk, people at a baseball game, restaurant, hardware store, and any of a thousand places. And the really nice thing is that it was so easy to do. I wish I had known this fifty years ago; that people add more fragrance to your life than a rose, and that an interesting conversation will leave you feeling better than a good TV show or movie.
Some of my conversations started by asking a simple question: “Pardon me, can you tell me where I can find the gorilla glue� The conversation then centered on what I needed it for and what the cheapest and best alternatives are. See how easy that was? Next day, we’re walking our neighborhood trail and stop to talk to someone about the cute dog that’s pulling on the end of their leash trying to get them to walk faster. I’m convinced there is nothing else I do that is so effective, with such little effort, at adding pleasure to my life. In all my conversations, I try to use this rule and it has served me welll “The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively but says nothing†…Anonymous
I ran across this article weeks ago and wanted to pass it on to you:
• When a group of people laugh, people will instinctively look at the person they feel closest to in that group.
• Pay attention to people’s feet. If you approach two people in the middle of a conversation, and they only turn their torsos and not their feet, they don’t want you to join in the conversation. Similarly, if you are in a conversation with a coworker who you think is paying attention to you and their torso is turned towards you but their feet are facing in another direction, they want the conversation to end.
• Always be honest so when you have to lie, people will believe you. (really?)
• If you make the biggest smile you can, you will automatically feel happier.
• Refer to people you’ve just met by their name. People love being referred to by their name, and it will establish a sense of trust and friendship right away. Say your friend introduced you to John. After 5 minutes, he decides to leave. Don’t just say, “bye”, but instead say “Bye John!”
• People are extraordinarily aware of their sense of touch. If someone ‘accidentally’ rests their knee on yours, they may not act like they realize it, but they definitely know that it’s there.
• Ask your interviewer as many questions about what they do for work and really listen. They will walk away from the interview in a good mood because they got to talk about themselves and they will then think that the interview went well.
• You have a much higher chance of success in a relationship if your parents and your friends like your romantic partner.
• You can judge the character of a person by how they treat people who can do absolutely nothing for them.
• I recently decided to put concrete pavers down the path that leads from the backyard to the front yard. Hmm, I wonder why MS Word tells me I can spell backyard as one word and cannot do the same with frontyard? That little squiggly red line it places under misspelled words is so annoying. Anyway, I wanted it to be wide enough to allow my lawn tractor go from one yard to the other at great speed. It needs to be 40 inches wide and would be 66 feet in length. I headed off to our local stone/paver/gravel store to pick the pavers I wanted and allow them to calculate how many I needed based on my measurements. I sat down in the room with a large sign over the door that said, “Paversâ€. I sat there for about 20 minutes and started getting annoyed. Finally, in came this pleasant looking woman and she looked kinda sad. I assumed she was having a bad day, turns out she was (more about that later). I give her the dimensions of my project, showed her a sample of my preferred paver and asked her how many I would need. She whipped out her calculator and punched in some numbers and said, “You need to purchase 3 pallets (107 pavers in each). The pavers normally cost $2.70 each but are on sale for $1.70. Wow! I’m saving a lot of money here! We flag the two pallets and she informed me that I should call her when I want them and they will schedule their delivery. As I got ready to say goodbye, she told me that she was having a bad day, her grandmother passed away the day before and she was feeling really sad. I expressed my condolences, then turned and walked towards my truck to leave. As I was driving home, I started feeling guilty about my reaction to the lady’s news about her grandmother. My first reaction should have been to give her a hug and reassure her the hurt would diminish as time passed. Instead, I mumbled some words and walked away. Richard Lemieux said, “A hug is the elixir of the human soulâ€. I’ve gotta get better at giving hugs.
I hope this missive finds you with a big smile on your face and that I have done something to help make that happen.