10 things I learned after joining a Senior Citizens Choir


You're never too old to sing.

You’re never too old to sing.

1. Just because you’re older, you can still have fun. This choir puts on hats, cowboy scarves, Berets, necklaces, and whatever costume fits the songs. The choir director is a bubbling, optimistic person. The piano player finds joy in the music, and rarely makes a mistake.

2. Age is just a number. You can learn a new musical interest when you’re quite old. Look at Mick Jagger: he fills stadiums!

3. You will meet people with all kinds of life stories: retired army heroes, teachers, nurses, musicians, rich and poor people. Some really enjoy retirement, and other’s have a harder time living on a pension.

5. There are all kinds of old age diseases, but the secret is to just ignore them and keep going. It’s all in the attitude. Find joy in something, like singing and it won’t bother you as much.

6. Even if you’re old, you can sing for others and they will appreciate it. Giving to others never goes out of style.

7. Even if people are older, they are still concerned about the performance. How they sound, look, and stand. One choir woman in particular, always dresses beautifully, wears makeup, and cares about her appearance. If you’ve lived a good life, it shows on your face. This lady is 87!

8. You’re never too old to want a solo, duet, or quartet. There are no shortage of volunteers for this.

9. The repertoire is older songs, but I recognized every one of them. Enough said!

10. There is a chance I may someday sing at a current member’s memorial service. Just keep going!

A courageous girl, Anne Frank, would’ve been 84 today.


Cover of "The Story of Anne Frank"

Cover of The Story of Anne Frank

Today I found out that it would’ve been Anne Frank’s 84th birthday. Being Jewish, I was always haunted by the story of Anne Frank.  You can read her story in “The Story of Anne Frank.”

Anne was a young, Jewish girl who was forced to hide away with her family in Amsterdam,Holland. It happened during the Holocaust during World War II. The family found a hiding place above a factory, and successfully hid there for several years. Tragically, someone turned them in, and were ultimately captured by the Nazis.

Anne’s father survived, and went back and found her diary. It was later published and has been read by thousands. Why am I giving out these details? I’m thinking less and fewer people know about this diary. They used to teach it in high schools, but I”m wondering how true that is today. Can the young people of today relate to the words written by a young girl in the 1940’s?

It’s more real to me because I am going to be 63 years old. When I was born in 1950, the War had only been over for five years. It seemed very real to me. When I found out about this tragedy, it upset me. To think people would kill others because of their religion. Since that time, I’ve read hundreds of books about it, and heard survivor’s talk about it. I’ve accepted it, but it still makes me very sad.

In the early 70’s, I took a trip to Amsterdam and got a chance to walk through the hiding place that is now a museum. The space was so small. I wondered how 3 families could have survived there for so long. I looked out the window at the very same tree Anne longingly looked at from her hiding place. I was touched by the pictures of American movie stars of the 40’s that she had taped on the wall.

In her diary Anne stated that “I still believe people are really good at heart.” One wonders if she still believed this by the time she died, and directly experienced such cruelty. How did she feel when she got off the train at the concentration camp and realized people were starving and broken? What did she think when she saw the stacks of the gas chambers that killed her peers, neighbors, loved ones, and fellow Jews? (It wasn’t only Jews that died.) This all happened in a civilized society too. It’s very frightening.

How tragic it was that someone with such insight and talent died so young. She was never to know that millions would read her words. If it was a fictional story, she would have survived. Sadly, it was a real story; perhaps, she went to a better place. Who knows?

The real tragedy is that people’s cruelty to each other hasn’t ended. It continues. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. Somehow, good does win over evil. It takes a while, but it seems to happen.

The best we can now do is think about Anne’s advice “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

How many have ever been to The Anne Frank House? How has her diary impacted you? Please share.

A Valentine’s letter to my mother


Dearest Mom,

Happy Valentine's Day...

Happy Valentine’s Day… (Photo credit: Јerry)

I wish you were here. It’s almost Valentine’s day, and I still think about you. I thought you would live forever and you almost did. At ninety-one you finally gave in. I feel slightly guilty that I made you sign the paper giving the doctor permission to do that hip operation. I didn’t know you’d be signing your death certificate. I know you would never want me to blame myself. I do believe it was your “time to go.”

I figured you’d come through that like you did everything. You’d had a couple of  really bad breaks. You were a strong woman. You weren’t the type to feel sorry for yourself. Going blind at the end was very hard on you, but you “did the best you could.”

Things were starting to slip. Sometimes, you’d get things confused. One time, when we were listening to the radio, you asked me who was singing. It was Perry Como, your life-long crush.

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. O...

[Portrait of Perry Como, New York, N.Y., ca. Oct. 1946] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

You didn’t remember much about my childhood. That you’d nursed me through a staff infection for two years, that when I broke my shoulder, you’d made slings out of Cleveland Indian scarves. You couldn’t remember our family trip to Washington D.C. when I was 12.  It was like that part of our lives together never happened.

You rarely talked about my father. Not unless I brought it up. Remembering him was just too painful. I know you were hoping to see him after you died. But being the practical person you were, you didn’t believe that was going to really happen. Even though I’m just as practical, I like to imagine that you are together.

When I came to visit, we stuck with the tasks at hand. Walking down to the dining hall, taking a walk outside, and listening to that old radio station where they played all your favorites: Eddie Fisher, Perry Como, Bing Crosby, and all those singers from the 1940’s.

You still loved to go out to eat. It was almost like you were escaping from that independent living facility every time I came to visit. It was almost like we were partners in crime.

You loved to go to the beauty shop, and listen to the hair-stylists talk to their customers. It was the last place where you could feel like one of the girls.

In your old age you still cared more about me than you did yourself. You asked me if I wanted that extra dinner you’d ordered from the kitchen of the independent living facility where you lived. You asked me if I was comfortable sleeping on the couch overnight. You offered me sheets and a pillow. You tried your very best to be a good hostess.

You dearly loved all your grandchildren ( and great-grandchildren) and gave what you could to all of them. They were your hope for the future. Maybe your exterior seemed a little tough, but inside you were all mushy. You just didn’t let anyone know it.

When we went through your apartment, we found evidence of this secretive side: saved birthday cards, our old school report cards, photographs, engagement and wedding announcements and  programs from college graduations.

So, on Valentines Day I think of the one woman who loved me the most. When you died, you took my nickname with you. It isn’t the same if someone else calls me “Barbie.”  So, a part of me went with you. But, I’ll never forget you.

Happy Valentine’s Day mom.

A BalletMet Production of “The Nutcracker” Doesn’t Disappoint but today it makes me a little sad


Vzevolozhsky's costume sketch for The Nutcracker.

Vzevolozhsky’s costume sketch for The Nutcracker. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the day after the shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Yesterday, I watched all the news shows. I can’t watch them today. It’s too disturbing.  These shootings are just beyond comprehension. What could drive a person to shoot 20 children? Who was he? Why did his mother keep guns in her home?

Why do we always end up focusing on the murderer? I’m guessing it’s because the thought of someone human doing these things is so incomprehensible.

Today, I dragged myself out of the house to watch Columbus BalletMet’s version of The Nutcracker. The last time I’d seen a production was twenty-six years ago.

I usher for the Ohio Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It’s one way to help the community and see different events for free. Columbus does have a lot to offer as far as culture goes: the symphony, Broadway on tour, guest artists, lectures  and my favorite, Columbus BalletMet. This dance company does a lot of contemporary dance as well as the classics. The dancers are young, energetic, beautiful, artistic and talented. i never walk away disappointed.

It took me by surprise
I had forgotten that little girls come with their mothers and fathers to these shows. The little girls were dressed up in frilly colorful holiday dresses.  I hardly saw anyone wearing jeans or T-shirts. It was sweet and so nostalgic.

I couldn’t help but think of the children who were murdered yesterday. They were about the ages of many of the little girls who were so thrilled to be seeing this famous ballet for the first time. I couldn’t stop thinking of the  grief -stricken parents who lost their precious children.

BalletMet didn’t disappoint

I  was enchanted with the production. It was beautifully staged, the music charmed me and the costumes were extraordinary. It was a memorable production and cheered me up a little.

But, in the back of my mind, I couldn’t stop remembering all those little girls who will never get to get dressed up and see
The Nutcracker with their parents.

It’s  really time to do something to stop the violence. Don’t you agree?

Sometimes, Knowing I’m Just an Animal Creeps Me Out! How about you?


The Shaggy Dog (2006 film)

The Shaggy Dog (2006 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat in a restaurant happily chowing down on my tuna melt, I looked around. Everyone else in the restaurant was also chomping down on their food. Some were doing it more politely than others.  When you think about it, it’s really disgusting. We’re all put together the same way, need food to eat and that’s how we get energy. It goes through our digestive system the same way; and you know how that ends up.  Just like the other animals. Of course, we have a more sophisticated way of doing away with our waste.

Women get pregnant and have babies just like elephants, dogs, cats, cows, horses, and other mammals. Horses seem farther ahead. When they have a foal, it stands right up. No waiting for a year to a year-and-a-half.

Human beings are born with bigger heads. Their body has to catch up with their heads. That’s really weird. It’s like we’re the space aliens, when you think about it.

Sometimes, when I realize we are all just animals, I get creeped out. I know some of you may say, we’re spiritual, and that’s how we’re different. I say, ” how do you know animals don’t have their own way of being spiritual?” Maybe we’re not smart enough to see it.

They have families, just like us

Animals even form family groups, just like us. When we had birds, it was interesting to notice that both the mother and father bird were very attentive to the babies until they pushed them out on the perch. After they did that, they acted like they didn’t know them at all.

When I went whale watching in New England, it was interesting to learn that they form very strong family groups. They follow each other across the ocean. There’s real loyalty in that group, just like human beings.

The chimp family at The Columbus  Ohio Zoo has an established family group: mother, father, kids, grandparents and great grandparents. When one of the babies was sick and taken away, the grandma and mother were obviously depressed. They just laid around until the baby returned to the family group.

Watching little kids is like watching puppies or little monkeys. They play just like other animals. They like to explore and touch each other and innocently destroy anything in their path. Any eighteen-month kid will stick about anything in their mouth. Once they learn to walk, they are like little puppies that need to go to Obedience school.  It’s a good thing our little kids smile disarmingly at us; otherwise, we might throw up our hands and walk away.

Go to the zoo and watch the chimps. Better yet, watch the human animals watching the chimps. And why do we like to watch other animals in the first place? I get creeped out when I think about our DNA being 99% like the great apes. When you look into those zoo ape’s eyes, from a distance, they do look almost human.

What’s really strange is that human beings keep other animals for pets. They like the love they get from the creature. It’s less complicated than a human relationship. (Unfortunately, this human being sneezes their brains out and breaks out in hives from cats, dogs, etc;, or I’m sure I’d have one too.)

In the Animal Kingdom they destroy each other, just like us

Just watch the animal kingdom on TV. They are always going after each other, and protecting their territories. They tear each other to ribbons, just like human beings.

How are human beings different? They’re smart enough to have discovered weapons that will destroy the whole human race. That, terrifies me. So, I try not to think about it. We also fade away, just like other animals. The older I get, the more I really try not to think about that.

Movies about people turning into animals still scares me

When I was a little kid, my family went to the movie theater to watch the original Disney movie, “The Shaggy Dog.” It’s about a kid turning into a giant shaggy dog. Everyone else was enjoying the film and laughing. I burst out in very loud sobs, and my parents had to take me home.

A classic 1941 werewolf movie, “The Wolf Man,” that  I caught on TV at age 8, scared me to death for at least 2 years. If I see that movie is playing on TV, I won’t put it on. Even though it’s only a movie, I don’t want to revisit it.

Am I the only one that gets creeped out at the idea that we’re only animals?

What creeps you out? Care to share?

Impressions of The Long Island Medium: another show on TLC


The Long Island Medium

I don’t know about you, but I have tried to contact my dead relatives. I’ve even said aloud, “visit me in a dream, rattle my lamps, please.”  But nothing happens. I figure, maybe they’re not happy with me, or have nothing left to say, or maybe they’ve really vanished.

I’m wondering if I should go see the Long Island Medium. She’s coming to my home town  in a couple of weeks. She stars on a show on TLC. You know the great shows they have, Honey Boo Boo,  the old  Kate plus 8 plus what’s his name before they got divorced.  I’m surprised Octomom doesn’t have a featured show.

I love this show. First of all, the long Island medium, Theresa Caputo, amuses  me up on several levels . I like her teased dyed blonde hair. Her clothes are all right, but sometimes she looks slightly trashy.  But, what I like most is her snappy patter and common sense. She is also an adoring wife and mother although she seems slightly overbearing at times.

Sometimes her family—husband, son, and daughter— roll their eyes when she starts another reading. Her husband and son couldn’t even go sky diving without her reuniting the owner of the sky diving company with his deceased parents.

People’s eyes fill up with tears when she gives messages from their deceased loved ones. Sometimes they feel guilty about how their loved ones passed. They didn’t get to say goodbye or they were inconsiderate. Theresa  gives them closure. Wouldn’t we all like to say one last thing to our friends, and family?

Theresa knows secrets nobody else would possibly know. How would anyone know somebody was carrying a picture in their wallet of their old dead boyfriend? How could they know the words they spoke to their loved ones when nobody was around. Tina seems to know it all. Plus, she’s so matter-of-fact about it. She has no doubt that spirits are talking to her.

The show airs on TLC on Sunday night. Watch it. Even if it isn’t true, it’s entertaining. And who knows? Maybe one day we’ll all be spirits floating around together. It’s a nice thought. Better than vanishing into thin air.

Would you really want to live forever?


Today I  went to an interesting discussion class. One of the questions asked was:  “If it was possible, would you want to live forever?”

My answer, “yes, of course!” Some of the people thought there’d be too much pain involved with living into eternity. Let’s face it, no matter who you are, you’re going to get your fair share of disappointment and pain. On the other hand, you’re going to experience happiness too.

One of my beliefs is that when you are gone, that’s it. Lights out.  I don’t really believe in souls floating or going to a “better place.” I just think you cease to exist. I don’t remember the world before I was born, so I figure I won’t know about it after I’m gone.

i do like to entertain the possibility that maybe I’m wrong. Now, that would be a pleasant surprise, and I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

I’m not afraid of dying because I know it’s part of the cycle.

There is a pre-teen book, Tuck Everlasting, which address this very issue. It’s for older kids and is excellent. It shows kids that living forever would get tiresome. Maybe so?

So, my question is this? If you had the chance, would you want to live forever?

Why or why not?

Going down TV 50’s and 60’s Memory Lane: Rip Don Grady


Howdy Doody

Howdy Doody (Photo credit: cranberries)

The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones

The Jetsons Meet the Flintstones (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was talking with friends about some TV shows we watched in the 50’s and 60’s. I guess the discussion came up because we were talking about the actor who played  Robby on My Three Sons, Don Grady.  As you probably know, he passed away. If you don’t know, I’m sorry to tell you that he died from cancer.

Here were some of our favorites: Father Knows Best: We liked Robert Young, who played the father,  before he was Marcus Welby. (If you don’t know who that is, you’re probably not interested in this posting.

In Father Knows Best the family seemed real to me.  The Mom (Jane Wyman) was gracious and nice; Bud (Billy Gray) was a typical mischievous boy who was pretty cute;  Kathy (Lauren Chapin) —sweet little sister; Betty—( Elinor Donahue). — the wise oldest sister. I think that show was excellent, and would still hold up today.  By the way, the mom was the woman behind Dad’s wise decisions.

There was also Leave It to Beaver. Remember the rumor that Jerry Mathers died in Vietnam. One of my friends thought Tony Dow died. I was happy to find out he is alive and well!

Families have changed today, of course, and it reflects simpler times. You have to realize that the actors who played those characters did not have near the perfect lives that they portrayed on TV.

We discussed the Mickey Mouse Club, with the Spin and Marty episodes. We all looked forward to the Mouseketeers, and owned a pair of ears. (I don’t know if the second version of The Mickey Mouse Club was as popular.

I  adored Circus Boy who grew up to be one of the Monkees, Mickey Dolenz. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a circus? He was a cute little blond kid who got adopted by a clown in the circus.

Fury was a horse who my mother joked could probably answer the door. She must’ve liked it too. Unfortunately, I can’t remember who else starred in it.

As far as cartoons, my favorite was Bullwinkle.  I loved the satire, even then. I was not a cartoon person. Once I went to a cartoon festival with a friend of mine, and I literally thought I was going to die. Bugs Bunny and The Road Runner were not my thing.

I also liked the cartoons, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones.

Who could forget Howdy Doody, Lassie, Sky King, or The Donna Reed Show. 

We were the first generation to grow up with TV. When we hear that the characters we identified with, passed away, it’s like losing a member of the family.

I don’t think some of the TV shows they have now are exactly wholesome. I don’t know what shows are valuable, and who the kids heroes are today?

What was your favorite show?

Are there good TV shows for kids now? Please comment.

English: Publicity photo of Robert Young and L...

English: Publicity photo of Robert Young and Lauren Chapin from Father Knows Best, 1957. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blasphemy from an Agonostic: Tom Cruise and Scientology makes as much sense as any other religion


A View of Earth from Saturn

A View of Earth from Saturn (Photo credit: alpoma)

I just read that Katie Holmes returned to the Catholic Church. I’m wondering if religion is  what really broke up their marriage. I think they’re both just kidding themselves if that’s what it’s really about. I’m thinking that there is more to it than the religion idea. I bet there’s something else going on there.

I know it’s none of my business, but it is fun to think about the whole thing. Maybe because, it’s not exactly fair Tom Cruise gets a lot of money pretending he’s someone else.

Many people think Scientology is really like….science fiction.

I may get a lot of flack for this, but any religion sounds as ridiculous to me as Scientology. Going up in space makes just as much sense to me, as people from another world coming to Earth and talking to us.

My father came close to death once, and he told me “ it felt like a TV screen losing it’s signal.” He didn’t see any lights, heaven, dead relatives  or anything like that. But it would be nice if that stuff really occurred. Nobody wants it all just to end. Not much fun in that.

I’ve watched  Pat Robertson on the 700 club.  ( I can’t take it too long). He actually closes his eyes and prays in front of all the TV viewers. He never hesitates to ask for money shortly after he does this. How many people fall for his act? Many!

It’s just like people want to believe in psychics predicting their future. How in the world can anyone know anyone else’s  future. Every time any of them appear on radio, the lines are jammed to get in.   Like the Amazing Randy has said, “it’s all trickery.” I believe that too.

I guess life is so bizarre that we all want it to make sense. We all want to think our religion is the right one. We all want to think someone else can tell us how to live it, and what is going to happen.

Because if you’re the wrong religion, you might get locked out of heaven. I have a tendency to believe in the big bang and evolution. Now, that does make some sense.

I’ll say this. “Anything is possible.” I figure whoever or whatever thought this up, can’t be too excited about all the fighting that goes on in the name of religion.  It is a strange bizarre life. If there really is a Hell it will be interesting to see if Pat Robertson ends up there for fleecing all those poor innocent victims.

English: Cropped image of Tom Cruise and Katie...

English: Cropped image of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Photo taken at the White House Correspondents Dinner. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Saying goodbye to a friend, Barbara Perrin


I got the news of my friend’s death through an email. That is now life in the 21st century. In case you may have known her, her name was Barbara Perrin. Maybe you ran across her in the writing community.

My friend wasn’t my closest friend. We didn’t call each other on a regular basis, or go many places together. But, the relationship was getting warmer. She had a subtle sense of humor.

We attended a 3 day writers group together several months ago. We talked and talked in the hotel room. She was really proud of her son.  I felt like I could tell her anything. How many people can you trust like that?

I met her at a  casual writer’s group several years ago. She’d come every week, all the way from Westerville, Ohio to Reynoldsburg, Ohio. I could depend on her walking in every Thursday, getting some coffee, and sitting down at the table in the back of the room.

She was an editor by trade, and edited some things I wrote. It was something you’d expect someone to charge for, but she generously did it for free. I learned more than a few things from her.

She was a kind and gentle person, one who knew how to be tactful and get along with others. She seemed to have all the patience in the world.

Her stories were really different, and she had a wonderful way with words.  Her stories were about different types of things from an angle you wouldn’t expect. They were quite artistic. One of her stories was published in the last Columbus Creative Cooperative, and she was so excited about it. The editors were looking forward to the one she was writing for the Bicentennial edition.

When they didn’t receive it, they kept trying to contact her. Her only son called them, and gave them the news. That’s why I found out about it through email. The editor sent out the news to everyone who belongs to the group.

There was no obituary in the newspaper. She died like she lived, quietly.

Today, I went to the writer’s group where I met her.  Only one other person who knew her was there.  I missed her so much, especially her kind blue eyes. The group, like all things, changes with time. Both of us felt so  sad about her death.

She was missing. And the fact is she’s not coming back. We both kept hoping maybe she’d show up, although we knew it wasn’t logical or possible.

That is what happens when someone dies  They are missing.

Barbara Perrin is in the top row on the right. She’s wearing denim and a scarf.

Rest in peace.