Archive for the ‘family’ Category

This a song about Peanut Butter Hill
So in a way it might be about you.
It’s about neighborhood kids that go out to play
But the special ones that wait for a rainy day.

Others would play in the sun and grass
Or throw stuff at the fish in the pond.
We would wait for the clouds to get grey
Promising that rain is on its way.

Soon the dry creek would rise above our shoes
We all cheered loudly to spread the good news.
Our favorite hill melted into a wall of brown
Too slippery to easily climb up or down.

You keep your hands in your pockets
To get to the top of Peanut Butter Hill.
Most of us slid half way back each time
And laughed so hard on Peanut Butter Hill.

This a song about Peanut Butter Hill
So in a way it might be about you.
Enormous leaning trees embraced imagination
A play house or needed fortress for generations.

Today the trees have all but fallen down
The hillsides have eroded and barely left a clue.
Of the adventures we all remember still
And the fun we had on Peanut Butter Hill.

You keep your hands in your pockets
To get to the top of Peanut Butter Hill.
Most of us slid half way back each time
And laughed so hard on Peanut Butter Hill.

Holidays are fun with creative people.

I often mention my talented wife and children sprinkled within posts over the years. When the girls were very young we made Christmas and the holidays a creative fest whenever possible. From pumpkin carving parties with over 200 pumpkins, costumes and haunted houses, we put our own flair into everything. We avoided the commercial and traditional.

Each year we would send our many friends a hand-made original Christmas ‘Card’. We would start two months before Christmas to imagine, design and create a unique holiday greeting from our entire family. Many are still hung up or placed on mantels to this day. It is hard to describe so you can get an idea of the projects. One time we made small cloth trees decorated in style with a hook on them so you could hang them as an ornament. Another year we took clear glass ornamental globes and other shaped bobbles and poured paint inside making them sparkle with bright colors and/or glitter on the inside of the glass.

As a musician I built up a small home recording studio over the years. In the lyrics we reference “7 tracks and SMPTE”. I had a digital recorder back then but advanced as it was at the time it only had eight tracks, and one of them you used to record a clock signal so it would sync with the MIDI instruments I had controlled by a hardware sequencer (RECORDING WAS A LOT HARDER IN THOSE DAYS!!!). Every few years I managed to work in a family musical project. Here are two audio recordings we sent as that year’s ‘card’.

This tradition really became a thing and people looked forward to getting their next card, knowing it would be unlike any other they would receive that year, or ever again.

Here is my family recording two Christmas carols for our annual card project. One is a traditional cover of a song you are familiar with. The other is our version of a classic. Even if you aren’t ‘all about Christmas’ and everything, I think you will find this cute and maybe hilarious at the same time.

I wish you all well and hope we can keep lost loved ones close to our hearts and friends and family in our thoughts.

MIDIMIKE

The Kennedy’s carol
The Kennedy’s Original 12 Days

When my wife and I purchased our first, and only home about thirty years ago, the adjacent property included irregular strips, pieces, an access road and a very old overgrown field. Over the years we cleared some of the vacant land next to our house. We built fire pits further and further out in the ‘wilderness’. It was mostly brush , grapevine and honeysuckle.

We didn’t use any equipment other than hand tools more sophisticated than pick ax and shovel. Each year we cleared more land to the side of our house of the brush and undergrowth. We had been doing this for a couple of years and noticed a huge tree we had not even seen before. It had towered over everything but through past decades the brush and small trees had provided a path for the insidious grapevine. As it does to anything above ground, the grapevine climbs anything it can and then covers it with a blanket of leaves. Each year the plants and trees try to grow new sprouts and shoots but are caught in a strangle-hold by the vines. Eventually the trees can’t bend down enough and break into pieces and soon die looking like a rounded skeleton. The smaller trees were already dead or damaged beyond hope. We managed to save more than we thought possible and we were determined to save the huge cotton-wood tree that was already entangled in vines spreading through the lower branches.

The neighbors thought we were nuts. Then a company came and bought the land we had cleared of debris and undergrowth and the rest of the surrounding wooded area. Years and years went by and they did nothing with the land. We spoke with the owners and told them that if they ever sell the land we would like to be the first offer. We also mentioned our clearing and using of the property and they were fine with that. We continued.

Over the course of our time here we have purchased all the pieces of what used to be abandoned property. Not much total, but a jig-saw of ‘odds and ends’ surrounding the neighborhood we made it our home! My posts often refer to feeding wildlife animals and birds in our tiny sanctuary. A number of neighbors share in the maintenance and care of this land now.

We have owned all the property pieces for a few years and have been trying to get it surveyed. It took them two years after signing the contract but finally the surveyors came out and tagged all the properties including our original house and land. When I came home from work there were orange flags everywhere along our side of the street and throughout the woods. We even discovered one neighbor’s fence was actually in our yard.

I was so thrilled and for the first time I walked every inch of land knowing what was our property. With that lengthy introduction I want to share a poem I wrote after that walk. Thanks again for your visits, and I hope this will be a great New Year for all!

The Border” (C) MSK 1-22-2020

Orange flags everywhere but only where
We are
They disappear through the ages and few
Return

Moving, shifting, season upon season upon
Buried
No concerns no doubting they never change
Waiting

I’ve just walked every inch of our border
Cut or cured, with muscle and bone
We laughed loud and worked harder
But we didn’t have to do it alone

Standing for generations before we embraced it
Mighty
Ruins become playgrounds, wilderness a haven
Our home

I’ve just walked every inch of our border
Cut or cured, with muscle and bone
We laughed loud and worked harder
But we didn’t have to do it alone

What’s yours is yours thanks for giving back what
Is mine
Fires burned, pumpkins were carved by many
Good night

Moving, shifting, season upon season upon
Buried
No concerns no doubting they never change
Waiting

My recent post was about a tree in my neighbor’s yard that has been dead for a while and a large part of it fell into my garage.

It looks worse from the inside!

Our daughter lives a few houses away. A different neighbor’s tree fell and landed on her car and took out the steps to her deck. We are lucky no one was hurt. It was a perfect time for a bad thing to happen!

She had just parked 15 minutes ago! The neighbor’s cat thought this was a great resting place.

Last week I returned home from a short visit with my daughter and her family.

Last month I turned 65 and quit my labor intensive warehouse job.

Last year I enrolled in Medicare.

I am a procrastinator.  I rationalize my symptoms.  I laugh at me looking for a way to postpone trivial things all the time.

A lot of conditions are starting to be classified and quantified and turned into another annoying sound bite.  Dyslexia, obsessive compulsion and attention deficit disorders, anxiety, being introverted and living with depression are just part of the long list. When I was growing up and entering grade school no one talked about these things.  Few could diagnose and some treatments were still in the future.  At least I now know what some of the things I have been dealing with all my life are called, lol. 

Evidently there wasn’t anything extreme or I would be dead or in a prison somewhere or in an alcoholic state of bliss.  (IYou – Them)  Just enough to make IYT ‘odd’.  Just enough so IYT know we are different.  IYT literally see things differently than the other school mates and friends.  IYT understand things from a different point of view.  Where others find life fun, IYT see nothing but challenges and embarrassments.

It is funny growing older and learning of medical conditions over the years on the news and go, “OH!  That’s what I have!”  Of course, I procrastinate.

But back to rationalizations.

You have heard of Spring Cleaning.  Every season you get everything out and dust it off.  Some you decide to keep and some memorabilia is lucky to find another home.  Even if it is only for the hope of being uncovered again in the future.  Now think of that process in decades.  Other than family and friends, what have you accumulated over all the years that is truly worth anything?

I have an old photo in a frame of my late sister and her husband.  It needs a new home.  For days it has been sitting on my desk.  I see it every day.  I procrastinate.  I feel moods change whenever I look at the photo.  I wait.  I need to find the right place for it.

I am sure it will be obvious                                 in the future. 

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I recently made a trip to the Washington DC area to visit family.  It is always fun, but this was a special trip.  Among other things, I went to see my new grandson for the first time…… It is always amazing to hold someone that small and young.  Such a thrill!  The tiny hands and changing facial expressions are precious.

On this trip, I was also reminded of how amazing my other grandchildren are.  They are getting a bit older now and it is amazing to watch them develop.  When they are alone or together, they are sharp, funny, and intelligent.  When they are together it is a thrill to watch them interact and feed off each other.  It is a symphony of fun, wit, laughs and affection that makes it difficult to return home.

I think many of us grow up too self confident.  We struggle to make new friends and learn new skills.  Our attempts at “fitting in” can be awkward.  We think we are alone and isolated way more than we actually are.  It can take time to overcome some of these barriers until we get much older.  Unfortunately, I still have not overcome many of them, LOL!

I just wish they knew how wonderful they are now and how much potential they have in their future!  They are “the bomb, and I am so proud of them!

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When I wrote the lyrics to This Moment, I had been thinking about my younger brother.  He died from throat cancer a while back.  He was the funniest and kindest person I have ever known.  Even in the last few weeks of his battle you would never know he was losing.  I spoke with his doctor and stated my brother was exhausted; no money or resources, no physical or emotional strength reserves, no medical options left.  I was told others that were in a better state might be able to hold out longer.  Soon my wife and I got a call and rushed to the hospital as we had a number of times before.  He was in ICU this time and there was nothing to be done.  The next expectation was the cancer would eat through the main artery in his neck.  I will spare you the rest.

As he woke up and looked around, he was puzzled and almost excited at the same time.  He could not talk, so he wrote something on a piece of paper and handed it to me.  “Is this real?” was written at the top of the page.  Between the medications and his state of mind, he was not sure if he was dreaming or not.  He had been in hospital rooms many times, but he knew this was different.  I told him that we are in the hospital.  I confirmed he was dying and there was little time left.  His artery would rupture soon.  A moment difficult to prepare for.

The lyrics worked their way from my thoughts to the paper as I recalled that time in the hospital.  How I felt: how he must have felt.  My thoughts wandered to the many times I have talked and laughed with him over the years.

Your thoughts and comments were truly appreciated.  I put the lyrics to music recently. This is not a perfect recording.  This is as far as it goes for me.  Please accept it as it is. For all of us that have lost loved ones and friends, sometimes we just need to share the loss.  Maybe it makes it easier to turn the pain into great memories.

My wife and I celebrated our wedding anniversary and her birthday recently.  We planned to meet with friends and have a dinner out.  We usually fill our bellies and head to someone’s house after the meal.  I have mentioned that a lot of our friends are musicians and creative types.  These are the people we invite to celebrate birthdays and such!  They are talented, creative thinkers and artistic wizards.

I bring this up to explain our tradition at the dinner tables when we gather.  Most restaurants have long tables for large parties.  Too many for the round tables available, we are all seated and start chatting.  Years ago we thought it would be more of a social mix if we chatted for a while and get appetizers and drinks when we get seated……… then everyone would take their drinks and move 3-4 seats over – in the same direction.  That way we could talk with different groups of people during the evening.

The waiter/waitress would come back and look around rather puzzled for a few seconds.  Most start to grin and roll with it very well.  Some are truly amazing and funny.

We might wait until after we order the main course and move seats again!

For our recent anniversary the place was busy and chaotic.  The manager filled in as our waitress because we had waited so long to be seated.  We decided not to rotate as we usually do to avoid further confusion and delays LOL!

Here’s to another year with friends at the not so round table.

20160919_205425As a pre-teen and through much of my early adult life, I would experience asthma attacks.  Some were very severe and lasted for days.  I underwent allergy testing and countless blood samples to find out what was causing my allergic reactions.  It turned out almost everything did, but that is not the subject of this story.  I was quite used to needles and shots and was not bothered by the poking and prodding.  As it turned out, I just needed to grow out of it.

Years later, my partner was pregnant with my daughter Teneca.  She was in for testing and they were trying to take a blood sample.  It didn’t go well and after a few unsuccessful tries, I needed to leave the room and stop watching the process.  As I left the room I was feeling woozy – to say the least. As I was walking down the hospital corridor, I thought it would be a good idea to sit on the bench in the hallway.  That is what I told myself anyway!  There was no bench or seat and I gradually passed out and hit the floor rather softy. Waking up I realized what I had done and got up to go back in the office.  This was the beginning of a long running reaction to needles and shots.  I am not sure if I actually fainted from it again, but even at the dentist I would come close to passing out. I could not watch someone getting a shot on TV or movies and had to close my eyes during those scenes.  Eventually even the thought of needles or injections would trigger this type of reaction. It was not the pain or fear of needles, it was the thought!

A little over a week ago my grandson Daniel Hopkins (as per my recent family article, he unfortunately does not carry the Kennedy name…..) was rushed to the hospital.  He was unresponsive and his skin was dull grey.  He was in ICU for a few days with dangerously high blood sugar levels and was lucky not to have gone into a diabetic coma.  That is how he found out he had Type 1 diabetes. Teneca asked me to stay with them for a while and help out.  I knew this meant more than just housekeeping and I admit I was a bit concerned and not really sure if I could even be around, let alone help with testing and injections needed for his new life style.  The last thing they needed was to have to pick me up off the floor!

My grandson was great from the start.  He realized he was in serious condition and took the disease head-on.  Learning quickly what had to be done he dug right in.  Before they got home from the hospital he was counting carbs, measuring insulin needed and testing his blood sugar levels. Now it was up to me!  Just talking about the injection regiment with them the first night I got light headed.

Luckily I had a couple days to read about Type 1 diabetics and watch them take care of Daniel before I was to give him an injection.  I am pleased to tell you that there was no issue.  I gave him the injection and not only did he not get injured by me, I did fine.  I did not pass out, get light headed or even a little woozy.  It took my grandson’s health and needs to put things back in focus but I think I can get over the needle reaction I have lived with for years now.  Full circle. Live, learn and helping each other as we go.  Life is good.

   

 

Below you will see what are probably my favorite pictures that I have ever taken.  For complete disclosure, you will want to know the subjects of the picture are my eldest daughter, Teneca, and her eldest daughter, Mary Jane, so I am admittedly and undeniably influenced.  These pictures were taken a few years ago in a local wooded area that leads to a small and well-hidden city park.  During our walk, they stopped to look at the amazing beauty of nature.  Teaching, sharing, and appreciating the fall paradise.  These wonderful times are available for those willing to look and listening to sounds of creatures all but hidden in plain site.

Seeing the smile, the simple fascination and pleasure of life all around, mixed with love and the comfort of family makes me feel young; glad to be a part of a continuing story.  To have played my part earlier and to watch it played out again.  Nothing but awesome.  I believe we can influence the future of our children’s lives in positive ways when we take the time at an early age.  You just can’t accomplish this in schools or on-line.