A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

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Pictures of Memories I

Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

Sunday, December 31, 2023

New Years Eve

2023  was a good year.   For the firsts semester of 2023  we got to work at the same school together.  In April we celebrated 25 years of marriage together.  

As soon as the school year ended, we went  to Greece  to celebrate said anniversary.  It was indeed amazing.

Besides hobnobbing with Greeks I also spent a lot of time near geeks as well.  After completing a Geek triathlon  of a comic book convention, a renaissance faire and a Doctor Who convention I went to my first Rubik's Cube tournament.  I had family members, plausible deniability and fun at each event.  

Rubik's Cube Convention Madison, WI

Randy Stonehill, Phil Keaggy concert South Holland IL

2023 was a good year and  I am hopeful that 2024 will be one as well.  I am also hopeful that 2024 will be a good year  as far as this blog goes.  

Sunday, November 12, 2023

60 Days in 60 Year: 1982

I usually think of a year to write about and then a topic comes to mind when I think of the events of that year,  This time I had an idea for a topic and I thought of 3 different years that could fir the topic.  Those years were 1976, 1979 & 1982.  The topic was discovering that the world can be a scary place.  I finally decided on 1982 but let me tell you about the local events in 1976 , 1979 and 1982 and then dig a little deeper on 1982.

In 1976 a murder occurred on the street where I lived.  I was 12 years old at the time and  one of the 3 victims was just a year older than me.  His name was Michael Columbo and he and his parents were killed by his sister and his sisters boyfriend.  Patty Columbo is still in prison for the murders and Frank Deluca died in prison earlier this year.  Michael Columbo would have turned 60 this year.

In 1979 John Wayne Gacy was arrested for a series of brutal murders rapes mutilations of young men my age and living in suburbs near mine.  He received the death penalty some 15 years later.

Both these cases changed my view of the world a little.  When a brutal murder  occurs on the street where you live, in a house that would later be on your newspaper delivery route it's going to effect you.  When boys your age are being abducted in neighboring suburbs and being raped, murdered and buried it is more than unnerving.  It makes you wonder if you are truly safe. 

In 1982 when I was still in high school the unspeakable hit close to home again.  When I say close to home, I am not exaggerating at all.  Tylenol capsules filled with potassium cyanide were sold at two grocery stores, one in Arlington Heights which neighbors my home town of Elk Grove Village  and the other in Elk Grove 4 blocks from my house.  This was in my senior year of high school and occurred at a store my family had been buying groceries, including Tylenol my entire life.   

A 12 year old girl from my hometown was one of the seven who died.  She stayed home from school because of a stomach ache was given one Tylenol and died within hours.

As heinous as the first two crimes, they Tylenol murders to me was equally as perverse.  Especially when you consider the crime has still not been solved more than 40 years later.  Also the randomness of the victims, anyone who  bought products from either of those grocery store was a potential victim, which means I was a potential victim.  It is one thing to think that I was a target demographic of Gacy, but another thing entirely to realize that I was buying groceries at that store when there were tainted Tylenol available for purchase.  It is chilling.

This case also singlehandedly changed how products are manufactured.   Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturers  of Tylenol, not only responded to the crisis by recalling 31 million bottles of their product, but also introduced tamperproof packaging and child-proof caps.    They lost quite a bit of money in the process but  received well deserved praise with how they handled the situation.

Evil (read about any of these cases and the word evil, will come up again and again) is an age old problem.  Encountering it on my street, in my town, and near my town isn't unusual, as it exists everywhere.  But seeing such extreme examples of evil , may have been one reason why I was always on the lookout for good.

Saturday, November 11, 2023

60 Years in 60 Days:1970

 1970: Keith 

I was in first grade in 1970.  It was my first year as a full time student as kindergarten back then was a strictly half day affair.  My older sister was in 2nd grade and my younger brother was doing whatever 4 year-olds did back in the early 70's. I don't have any memories when I didn't have both an older sister and a younger brother.

I do have memories before my youngest brother, Keith was born  on veteran's day 1970.  I remember some of kindergarten.  I remember my first day of first grade and I certainly remember walking home from school that day in Mid November when my Mom was coming home from the hospital with Keith.

I also sadly have many memories of life without my baby brother.  He died a little more than 14 1/2 years ago.  An event that is very well chronicled on this blog. This is the fifteenth birthday we have celebrated without him. 

 By the time Keith was starting first grade, I was starting 7th grade.  Because of the age difference we weren't all that close growing up.  He started high school when I was in college living at home and volunteering in the same high school youth group I had been in while in school.  He starting attending that youth group and we spent quite a bit of time together because of that. As a result we became closer and even though we weren't exactly super tight, he was probably the relative I was closest with.

In 1987, the year I left home to reinvent myself, Keith started his senior year of high school. Over Spring Break that year he had his first hospitalization due to mental illness.  This was the beginning of his road to a Bi-polar diagnosis.  I think back then they just called it a nervous breakdown.

That Fall he did go away to school, actually pretty close to where I had landed and he spent his first two semesters of college the farthest he ever lived away from my parents.  The next year He went back home to a local junior college and started to find his own way. While there he met the woman he would eventually marry and he got married before either of his older brothers.

Keith eventually graduated from college and began graduate school but never completed it.  I think the only job he ever had was at McDonalds, but he always worked hard and he always took care of his family, And I never met someone who loved his kids more fiercely than Keith did.  

Some Friday night in the summer of 2006, I was at an outdoor movie night at a local park with my family.  My cell phone rang, it was my Dad.  Keith was sick, He had only 10 % use of his heart and his kidney function was at the same rate.  Within a week, he was getting treated at the Mayo Clinic.  

His kidneys were shot because of the lithium he took for his bi-polar, but we never discovered what happened with his heart. From 2006 to April 2008 Keith's life developed into a consistent pattern.  He'd be hospitalized he'd then go to a nursing home (one of the only 30 somethings in the joint) then go back home far a month or two and then he'd be hospitalized again  because either his heart medicine was creating problems for his kidneys or his kidney medicine was messing with the bi-polar or any other such permutation. rinse, lather, repeat.  

Keith loved trivia, especially Jeopardy. He was an excellent chess player and  loved all kind of puzzles especially those in Games magazine.  I am sure, he would have been great at current games, like Wordle and Nerdle. 

Keith died at the age of 38 so I always think of him as 38. Or I think of him at 27, when he got married.  Or I think of him at 30 when his son Robert was born.  Or I think of him ay 32 when his daughter Sarah arrived. Or at the age of 22 when he visited me in Russia and said of my filing system, "A place for everything and everything on the floor." Or at the age of 17 when I saw him graduate high school at the old Poplar Creek concert venue. Or playing tee ball at the age of 7 or 8.  Or at the age of a few days, that November day on 1970 when he came home from the hospital.  I guess I remember him a lot.  I miss him even more.

Friday, November 10, 2023

60 years In 60 days: 1965

 I was born in 1964.  I turned 1 in 1965.  I don't have any memories of life in 1965.What I do know is that  my sister turned 2 in June , I turned 1 in September at the time that my Mom was pregnant with my younger brother who was born in March of 1966.  By the end of 1965 My Das  was 27, my Mom was 26, my sister 2 and I was one.  .  I am now 59 years old so I am older now than the combined age of my entire family in 1965.


Thursday, November 9, 2023

60 Years in 60 Days: 1989

 In The Spring of 1989 I took a class, I forget what the actual name and course # was but the gist was that it was the course where education majors got their pre-student teaching experience.  Over the course of the semester you travel to a school,  are assigned a teacher and a class room and you observe  and assist in the class room culminating in preparing and giving a lesson essentially being teacher for a day.  I forgot how many visits it was it was either 6 0r 12 in a 6 week period.  

I got to know the students pretty well, and one of them was going to be in a local theater play.  I told him that I would attend.  Back than my wardrobe was pretty exclusively jeans t-shirts and I had a pretty good sweater collection.  I had one suit and a few dress shirts and a couple pairs of slacks.  Each day I would go to school,  I would wear the same outfit, my suit.  I would then go back to the dorm and put it away until the next class.  When I went to the play I was wearing my regular out fit of Jeans, Turtle Neck and Sweater.  

The play was really good.  It was Agatha Christies Mouse Trap and my student did an excellent job.  I went up to him after the show and the first thing this kid (who by my math is now 50ish) says to me: "Mr. Roller, You're in civilian clothes!"

I was thinking of that story today, because my youngest daughter has a starring part in her school play.  I wore Jeans and the show t.shirt to school today and wore the same thing to the production.  I don't think I've ever worn a suit to teach school.  I guess I just wear civilian clothes.  

Wednesday, November 8, 2023

60 Years In 60 Days 1993

1993 Foreign Soil.

From Late 1992 to Late 1994 I lived in Russia. 1993 was the only year in my life that I was not in the United States at all.  I embraced life in Russia and did not have much culture shock at all,  It wasn't until I got home that I realized the impact of missing an entire year of American culture.  I was able to keep up with the really important things like the Bulls Threepeat.  I heard most of the major developments.  

But even as recently as this week when I was watching Dave with relatives. Someone asked what year it came out and I didn't know.  I can usually recall the year a movie came out by remembering what was going when I saw it.  For example, I remember  Ferris Buellers Day off came out in 1986 because I watched it with fellow camp counselors from Camp Manitoqua and I worked at Camp Manic Toga in the summer of 86.  I remember Ordinary People came out in 1980 because we were reading the book in my sophomore English class and the class took a field trip to go see it.  Dave came out in 1993.  I didn't see it in the theatre so I have no reference point to the year.

The same is true about sports, t.v. and news of that period.  In the 30 years since I've come home from Russia there have been multiple gaps in my shared experiences with others because of the disparity of our 1993s

Don't misunderstand me.  This is not a bad thing,  It's been kind of like found money. On Spotify I am often discovering albums that came out in 1993 or 1994 that I never was aware of and enjoy discovering them 30 years later.

My years in Russia were the best 2 years of my life to that point.  I made lasting friendships, did worthwhile work, and was stretched in many ways.  I may not have been in the U.S. in 1993 but I certainly had found a home.  

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

60 Years in 60 Days 2013


2013: The Beginning of the year of limericks

I turned 49 in the year 2013.  I remember going with my wife and kids to the Cook County forest preserve in Elk Grove where there is actually, wait for it, a grove of elk.  We were hanging out watching elk, climbing trees, and having all kind of birthday fun when an idea came to me.  For the rest of the year, I would write a limerick each day and post it on Facebook for all  to see.  

Eventually the task got a little much for me and I did not write 365 limericks that year, but I wrote well over 200.  While my limericks never quite went viral, I am sure a few of them made a number of  my friends, family and acquaintances sick.

The year of limericks was a bit of a turning point for me in a few ways:

While I have dabbled in poetry along with other kinds of writing and studied poetry while obtaining a degree in English, I never considered myself more than an occasional  poet.  The limerick experimented jump started this part of my writing.

Facebook has become a curator of my limericks.  Thanks to Facebook memories my limericks from 2013-2014 pop up on the anniversary of the day I wrote them.  The November 7th 2013 popped up again today.  It is about knock knock jokes.  

While knock knock who's there jokes are lawful 
A lot of them are just plain awful 
When you knock knock who's there 
You best be aware 
There is such a thing as a doorbell.

Monday, November 6, 2023

60 Years In Sixty Days:1997

 1997: She Said Sure 

1997 was a year of great change for me. I started the year miserable and lonely.  Which is a line from the movie Marty.  But I  had not yet seen the movie Marty, which is a pretty good reason to be miserable, but I had others. 

I was living in a different state than I am now.  A state of  habitual sin.  A state of unfulfilled desire. A state of deep regret.  A state of hopelessness.  I mean South Carolinas not the bad, you can play tennis year round but I wasn't nearly the man I wanted to be and I was doing nothing to change.

A friend sought me out and offered me the hope of real change.  As I started to work through my issues and allow God to change me from the inside out.  I discovered something.  I discovered someone.

I had a friend in a different state.  She was in a state of healing.  A state of awareness.  A state of discovery,  She was changing in Illinois while I was changing in South Carolina.

W e had been friend for going on 7 years.  Everyone else noticed that we were meant for each other.  But we were oblivious.  Why would I date her? I would ask, she's my best friend.  Then one Day I said I should court her, she's my best friend.

She flew down for Spring Break and it was clear that courting was like friendship with help.  By the time Spring Break was over I knew and put an emerald engagement ring on layaway.  

In July I moved back to Illinois with marriage on my mind.   .  When I earned enough to pay for the ring I asked her parent for permission to marry their daughter. They said yes and I made reservations at a fancy restaurant for the proposal.

After Spring Break I had written lyrics for a proposal  and gave it to a friend who had written music for other songs I had written.  About the same time I got the ring paid off,  he sent me the  cassette with the song on it.  I asked a H.S. senior from our youth group to accompany me at a fancy restaurant.  On the big night, he chickened out.  So instead of bringing an accompanist  ala Breaking Away.  I brought in a cassette player ala Say Anything.

I was so nervous.  I could hardly eat dinner.  Because I knew I was going to propose. I turned on the tape player and began to sing:

It's A beautiful night

Your a beautiful girl

I thank God for the day 

That you brightened my world

The song continued and when I ended with the title question Will You Marry Me My Darling?, Amy was unsure of what just happened.

/I had a  habit and still do of showing all my poems, songs and writings to Amy to see if they are any good.  She must have thought that's what I was doing.  

"Is that what you are going to sing when you propose?" She inquired.

"This is me, proposing," I replied.

So she said, sure.

After which, she took out a piece of paper from her purse of all the ways she had known that I was going to propose that night.  It turns out that since I had telegraphed my intentions, that she also was very nervous and didn't eat much of her dinner either.  So our first official act as an engaged couple was to go to Denny's and have another dinner.

We got engaged 26 years ago this month.  We have been through many changes since then but I'll always remember 1997 as the year God changed two people and led them to the path of being one couple.


Sunday, November 5, 2023

60 Years in 60 Days: 1977

 1977: The Year I Led The Packers in Sacks

I was not always the physical specimen that blogs before you. In Jr. High, I was a 6'1 stick figure of a kid whose social awkwardness was matched only by his lack of physical coordination. I was in Jr. high in the 70's when bullying was not only not frowned upon but was an elective in many school districts.  I was teased quite a bit for many things but in the Fall of 1977 and 1978 I got teased on Monday's for what someone else did on Sunday.  That someone just happened to share my name.

Football in the 1970's was a pretty big thing. The biggest football rivalry in my area was that of the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers.  In 1977 Walter Payton the Bears running Back was having a breakout year and was voted MVP of the league by the Associated Press. Payton led the Bears to a 9-5 record that year and their first playoff appearance in my lifetime. The Pack went 4-10 but had one player with a familiar name who helped lead the defense.

His name was familiar to me at least, as his name was Dave Roller.  And as Robin  might say Holy John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt Batman, that's my name too


When some of my fellow students at Elk Grove Jr. High heard my name on their televisions on Sunday afternoons, they would let me know about it on Mondays.  It was always funny to them how different a professional football player and  a gawky kid could be even if they had the same name.  It wasn't  a big deal but it did become a bit of a ritual in the Falls of 78 and 79.  There were always a couple of kids in my math class who would comment about how well I played the day before. 

In reality Roller played pretty well for the Packers.  He led them in 1977 with 8 sacks was once carried off by the fans after a Packer victory and I believe was one of the first players in the NFL to celebrate after a tackle with a sack dance.  

I have never met the former NFL player who shares a name with me and my father.  In Jr. High it was just one of many things to be teased about.  But when I think about it now, it's cool to share with your name with someone who achieved excellence in their field.  Even if it's just Lambeau Field. 

Saturday, November 4, 2023

60 Years In 60 Days: 1987

 1987: The Year I reinvented myself  and remained basically the same.

I graduated high school in 1983 and spent most of the next 4 years living at home.  During that time I volunteered about 30 hours a week with my high school youth group, took some classes at the local junior college (dropping a few, and passing most of the rest),  worked some part time jobs, got my first full time job, and after working there a year tried and failed to go on a 2 year short term missions trip to the Philippines.  

As 1986 came to an end, I decided to reinvent myself.  I decided to head off to college at the same time that most of my friends from high school were finishing college. In the Summer of 1987 I enrolled at Western Illinois University. Western was a 4 1/2 hour drive (a Goldilocksonian distance) from my house.  

I packed all my stuff in my van and took one of many trips to Macomb, Illinois.  It may have been on  that trip  that I wrote my first country song, She Drop Kicked my Heart (In the Football Game of Love).  Parentheses were very important in the music of the eighties.  

Except for one friend from high-school (who switched schools the next year) I didn't know a soul on or off campus.  As Billy Crystal would later say in City Slickers, I was given a do over. 


I did well in my two summer classes and quickly began making friends.  As a youth group leader, I would often meet with graduating seniors to talk about growing spiritually on campus.  One of the best ways I suggested to do that was to join a campus ministry.  After high school I had many friends who were involved in Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship.  So I decided to join that one.  It was a very small group at that time and I was instantly involved in leadership there. I also got immediately involved in a local church, and started DJing  at the campus radio station, which was a life-long ambition.

So from June to September I managed to become every bit as busy as I was back in the Chicago suburbs, if not busier . And, my undiagnosed ADHD was not a respecter of zip codes, so my lackluster academic career continued to lack luster.  

Following WIU sports was a big part of my campus experience.

Adjustments had to be made along the way, but I survived and thrived in college.   The college adventure ended as it began with me packing up my belongings, but this time traveling not across the  state, not even across the country, but travelling across the globe. A few months after graduation, I utilized the English degree I had struggled to earn while serving a two year term as a missionary in Russia.  In 1986 when I first felt called to the missions field, Russia was not remotely open to most Americans let alone mission minded ones. 

Looking back, 1987 was a year where I began some much needed changes in my life.  In many ways it was my first foray into life on my own.  Many of the experiences I had at WIU shaped who I am now.  But some of those changes didn't start until after I graduated.  Others of those changes didn't start until I got married, or until I became a Dad.  Some changes are still taking place and other changes that I am not even aware of may be just around the bend.

That being true, there is still an awful lot about me that is exactly the same as it was in 1987, making up songs on my way to college life.  For example I still write songs and perform them while alone in my car.  But many of the things true in 1987 and still true today are my character and my compass.  My belief system and my sense of direction is what propelled my trajectory in '87 and still does today.  Although it may be time to admit that Nashville ain't calling any time soon.  

Friday, November 3, 2023

60 Years In 60 Days: 1964

Dick Allen in 1964

 I was born in 1964.  Some people may call that my rookie year, but if you know about baseball you know my birthday on 9/23 was just a late September call up and my Rookie year would be in 1965.

  In a similar fashion, Dick Allen (my first White Sox hero) debuted for the Philadelphia Phillies on 9/3/1963 came back in the spring of 1964 and played his rookie season.  He played all 162  games for the Philadelphia the only Phillie to do that in 1964 and just 1 of 12 in the majors. 

When I was growing up I wanted to be the starting third baseman  for the Chicago White Sox.  In 1964 22 year old Allen was the starting 3rd baseman for Philadelphia. Allen had an amazing season, one of the finest rookie seasons in MLB history. He led all of MLB with 125 runs scored.  His 13 triples were tied for first with Cubs 3rd baseman and fellow hero of my youth, Ron Santo.  He had 201 hits and 29 homeruns (5th overall for both achievements.  

Allen  had many successes but a few bumps in the road that eventually saw him be voted N.L.  Rookie Of the year.  He was an adventure at 3rd base amassing 41 errors at the hot corner.  He also led the national league in strikeouts which is great when your a pitcher but not so good when you have a bat in your hand. Allen struck out 138times  in his rookie year   but still managed  to hit .318 in '64 with a slugging percentage of .557.  

Allen's Phillies spent 135 days in first place that year but lost 10 games in a row from September 21st to the 30th in one of the greatest sports collapses in the 20th century. That most of these 10 losses happened in my first week alive is merely coincidence.  At least I hope it is. 

 Bleacher Report has an excellent article about Allen which talks about how claims that Allen was somehow to blame for the collapse have no basis in fact.  That article can be found  by clicking here.

Dick Allen as I remember him

1964 was a great year to be born and a fine year to play your first full season in the majors.  I discovered Dick Allen for myself in the early 70's and he is one of the main reasons I became a White Sox fan,  

Closing Thoughts: 

The scout that signed Dick Allen to the Phillies also saw Babe Ruth play and said of Allen that he was the only player he had seen that hit harder than Ruth.  

Dick Allen died December 7th 2020 in at the age of 78.

He is considered by many to be the best  baseball player not to be enshrined in Cooperstown.  

Thursday, November 2, 2023

60 Years in 60 Days 2016

 As of today there are 60 days left in 2023.  As it turns out, I have lived in 60 years from 1964 to 2023.  I had one of those ideas that generally gives me more stress than it's worth when I try to implement them.  The idea was simply this: Write one thing a day for the next sixty days about one of those years.  

I decided today to write about 2016 to start things off.  While it's true that the Cubs won their World Series that year on this day, that is not why I chose it.  I chose it to write about a friend's father.  My friend's father died 7 years ago on November 2, 2016.  His obituary appears here.  

I never met Dick Ciccone. I have only known his son  Rich since the beginning of the 2022-2023 school year when I spent the fall semester as a  long term sub at the same middle school Rich was starting at.  Besides teaching the same type of classes, we found that we had some things in common like having fathers who went to Notre Dame at the same time. Also, Rich could relate to the struggles I was experiencing helping my parents with difficult health issues as he had been through that already with his parents.  

This year I'm back at the school as a building sub and Rich and I have renewed our friendship.  He requests me to teach his classes  when he has compliance days or IEP meetings and I gladly do it as several of his 8th grade students were in my 7th grade class last year.  He lets me use his classroom as kind of a home base when I am not subbing in other classes and  I enjoy working with him and his students any chance I get.

Last month I watched a movie called Continental Divide.  I hadn't seen it for a while.  It features John Belushi playing a Chicago Newspaper columnist based on Mike Royko.  Mike Royko was one of my heroes growing up.  I started reading his columns in the Chicago Sun Times and then in the Chicago Tribune.  After watching the film I decided to see if I could find a biography about Royko. 

I was at school and the teacher I was subbing for had an off period, so  I was researching Mike Royko biographies.  I soon found out that one of the definitive biographies about Royko had been written by a F. Richard Ciccone who I recognized to be Rich's dad.  I popped into Rich's room and he reminded me that his Dad had been the managing editor of the Tribune when  Royko moved there  from the Sun Times.

I was already reading  a few books so I waited until I finished some of them before requesting  Royko: A  Life In Print by F. Richard Ciccone from my local library. It came yesterday and I told Rich  about how I wad going to pick it up after school while he was preparing me for his classes that I'd be doing for him while he was in an IEP meeting.  He didn't seem as thrilled about it as when we had talked about it last month.  I remember asking him if it was difficult to talk about his dad back in October as I was gushing about Royko and he assured me it was fine, so I really didn't understand his reaction and attributed it to just being distracted by the impending IEP meeting prep.  

I got the book yesterday and it is amazing. In the introduction and the first two chapters, the elder Ciccone immerses us in the world of Royko, also sharing that Mike Royko wasn't the only Tribune employee who could craft mesmerizing prose.  I attempted to tell that to Rich today and I immediately sensed the same expression I had noticed the day before.

That is when Rich told me that today was the 7th anniversary of his father's death.  He shared how difficult it can be as so many people view today with such positive memories.  I remember being at Rosati's around the corner from our old house 7 years ago and going crazy as the Cubs won the World Series. 

This is why I chose 2016. It reminds me that one person's best memories can trigger another person's worst. When I was in college there was a restaurant called The Sports Page and true to their name they had several framed front pages on their walls celebrating great sports achievements of the time.  One such front page celebrated the Bears winning the Super Bowl on January 26, 1986.  In another spot of the   front page there was an article about the upcoming space shuttle flight for teacher Christa McAuliffe.  Two days after the Bears won their Super Bowl The Space Shuttle Challenge exploded less than 90 seconds into its flight.

Every year I have lived so far houses someone's most amazing achievement and someone else's  biggest regret.  This of course is an understatement.  We can certainly say the same thing about each day I have lived. It is difficult to be on the lookout for both, but can so be beneficial. The book of Proverbs reminds  us that,  "A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for a time of adversity." (Proverbs 17:17 NIV). .With this in mind, we should always be on the lookout for opportunities to help our friends rejoice, grieve or even just remember over important moments in their past.  

Saturday, October 21, 2023

Randy stonehill Keith Green story

Keith Green would have turned 70 today. Here's a clip of Randy Stonehill talking about the behind the scenes story of the classic tune Your Love Broke Through.

Thursday, September 14, 2023

Jesse White Tumblers @ Elgin 4th of July Parade

I went to the Elgin 4th of July Parade and took this footage of the Jesse White Tumblers. Jesse White started the tumbling team in 1959 as an  positive activity for youth.  I first saw the tumblers when they performed at Taste Of Chicago in the mid 80's and have seen them at least 20 times over the years. Jesse White served  as an elected official in the state of Illinois from 1975 to earlier this year when his  final term as Illinois Secretary of State came to an end.  


Friday, September 8, 2023

SJT: Richer Still in Grace

 *Note* I originally wrote and published this post on Friday September 8th 2023 and I inexplicably deleted 1/2 of it and then deleted the rest trying to fix it.  If I could explic it, it wouldn't be inexplicable. 

The post contained below is what I wrote Friday, to the best of my growing faultier by the day memory.

Love, Dave

On the first Thursday of each month, An internet community gathers to explore the spiritual ramifications of a given topic or to make their own spiritual observations off the topic.  This months host is Patricia Franz of  the Reverie Blog Her entry is Life At The Speed of Grace.

I really enjoyed her post.  I liked her idea that grace is shorthand for God.  I especially liked her poem featuring an adieuing owl and a blooming cucumber.  I spent a good deal of time reflecting on Grace and the idea of God's grace and here are some of my reflections.

Allen Levi is my friend. He is also one of my heroes.  I have only met him 4 times and these have always been at concerts he's playing.  Yet I consider him a friend and kindred spirit.  In my opinion Allen is a jack of all trades, master of all.  He is a former lawyer, a former judge (with a 20 year gap between these occupations).  He left law in the early 90's to become an independent singer  songwriter.  During  that time he took a year off from singing, writing, and touring to be his brother's caregiver as his brother was dying, of cancer.  He wrote an excellent book about his brother called The Last Sweet Mile.  He has also written a fine children's book based on his song Oliviatown.

Recently Allen finished his first novel.  It is  called Theo of Golden and is available for preorder at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and on Kindle.  His website has a link to a sample chapter. Levi also is or has been a beekeeper, bird enthusiast, book reader (volunteers each year to regularly read to a grade school class) and blogger.  And those  are just the things I know of that begin with the letter B.

I say all this because when I began reflecting on Patricia's post the first thing that popped in my head were Allen Levi song lyrics and since Mr. Levi isn't the household name that I think he should be, I needed to answer the question of who Allen Levi is before I could begin in earnest.  And earnest I am; so begin I shall. 

As I mentioned Allen Levi is one of my heroes. The lyrics that popped in my mind when I started reflection on Grace, is from his song. "Most of My Heroes". 

The 2nd verse starts:

All of my heroes are rich in imperfections.  All of my heroes are richer still in grace.

Levi continues

They are people who are weak and bruised and broken, But they know somehow they'll make it through the race.

Grace has been defined as unmerited favor.  It is one of the main manifestations of God's goodness.  We grow in grace as we grow closer to God.  This is probably the reason why Franz says grace is shorthand for God.  Levi makes a similar point in the song's chorus:

Most of my heroes are very simple people.  All of my heroes look a lot like you.

Accepting God's grace in your life is a transformative process.  The more grace we receive the more we are changed and the more we attribute that change to God.  Consider Levi's powerful yet whimsical bridge, . . . 

And if you brag on them like I'm trying to do, I can bet what they might say to you. They'd say "thanks a lot.", and blush as if it's just not true.

The book of Hebrews spends an entire chapter  (eleven)  talking about the heroes of the Old Testament.  The same phrase is used over and over again in the chapter to describe how these heroes operated and that phrase is by faith.  Without God's faith in God those heroes would not have done the things God made them able to do. 

When I think of my spiritual journey, I think of grace, I think of faith and mostly  I think of Jesus,  In Chapter 12 of Hebrews, the author segues from the Hall of Faith to Jesus himself :

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 The spiritual journey I am on is one of faith and one of grace. I am being perfected on this journey by Jesus. He is my hero and as I grow in faith through his Grace I will grow to look a lot like Him. 

 For more Spiritual Journey Friday click here.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

July Stats

 In the Month of June I only posted 4 times.  In July I posted 10 times, nut that was ten times in the first 12 days of the month.  I then went into a lull of a fortnight plus with no blogging whatso ever.  At the end of June I was looking at 164 posts by the end of the year.  Now that number has gone down to 158.

This month I want to finish writing my day by day recollections of Greece while I can still recollect them.  I also have a few more posts to put up.  I keep getting plenty of ideas for posts, so don't be surprised of there are some days this moth that you see more than one post here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Taking A Mental Health Day

 I went to Greece last month and it was an amazing trip.  It was a time to celebrate 25 years of marriage to my best friend,  I had an idea of posting about each day exactly a month later on my blog and then posting it on on mine and my wife's FB page.  Now, to be perfectly blunt, very few people consistently read my blog and none of my FB friends are putting any pressure on me at all to post everyday.  Yet I put pressure on myself to do it.  So when I didn't post yesterday and got one day behind on this self imposed deadline and decided I would do two days today, and as of 9:30 p.m. had not done either I began to freak out.  Why? I really want to post about every day, but who cares whether it's exactly a month behind?  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves for no real reasons?

I think everybody goes off kilter sometimes.  Not exactly like me, but I don't always go off kilter for the same reasons.  But it is important that when I do go off kilter, I bring myself back.  When this happens, I ask God for help.  I ask my family for help and I make changes.  Sometimes it just means letting myself off the hook for something.  Sometimes it means not believing lies.  Sometimes it means changing my plans.

So, as far as my memories of the trip go, I hope to recount each day  on the blog and then on Facebook.  But I do that because I love writing and I loved the trip and for no other reason.  It's not going to have to be each day 1 month later like some self imposed a to z challenge. And If I never finish it, so what?  It was a good trip and Amy and I both know it.

There are enough pressure on us as a society, that we need to stop putting additional burdens on ourselves and our friends and family.

I'll be back tomorrow, or so, to tell you about losing my phone on the Island of Sifnos on June 11th and the other more interesting things that happened that day.  I kicked myself a lot for losing my phone, but that was not an important thing that happened that day. I kicked myself a lot for not posting yesterday, but that was not an important part of yesterday.  Today, I worked for 8 hours at the movie theatre and when I got home there was a tornado waning after dinner.  After our family got back from the basement, my time was better spent decompressing with the family than holing myself up with the computer just to meet some imaginary time requirements.  I just sometimes have to remind that to my foot when it wants to kick myself.  

Monday, July 10, 2023

OTTG 1ML Day 5

 Our Trip To Greece

One Month Later

Day #5


Our first full day in Sifnos.  We heard about Sifnos through a Greek travel agent Amy found on line.  I had bought Amy a guide book for the Greek Islands at Christmas time and Sifnos was not even mentioned.  This travel agent told us it's the island where the Greeks like to travel to on their holidays.  We found it instantly captivating.

Our hotel was on the bus route and also just a short walk from the port of Kamares.  Our hosts were amazing.  

We had breakfast on our patio every morning.

Where we would often see one of the 3 tortoises on the property.

We took a bus from our town of Kamares to Apollinia.  We then hiked back to Kamares from Apollinia.  These trail markers were invaluable.  

Here is footage of our hike

and a few pictures ...

Sunday, July 9, 2023

OTTG 1ML: Day 4

Our Trip To Greece
1 Month Later

Day #4 6/9/23 Amy here. Our fourth day in Greece was more of a mess than the previous few days. Before the trip had started we had heard how you could run around the Olympic stadium, in the mornings before they started charging admission to see it. We had planned to do this, just to say we had done it. So when we got into the cab, and were chatting away with the cab driver, we were wondering why the ride was taking so long. It turns out there are two Olympic stadiums in Athens; the one we wanted to go to which was built in 330 B.C. and then excavated in the 19th century for the first two modern Olympics and the stadium that hosted the 2004 Olympics. We realized that she was taking us to the stadium that hosted the 2004 Olympics, rather than the one from the 1800’s. When we finally arrived there, and it was crawling with people we didn’t end up running. 

 Here is what we missed ...


 It was disappointing. But then we decided to walk around Athens for a few more hours until we had to catch the ferry to Sifnos. We got some tea and then decided to find a local library. We LOVE libraries (it’s part of the reason we saw the ruins of Hadrian’s library), and have visited many many libraries in our 25 years of marriage. This library, however, was open only by appointment, and the doors were locked. We were denied entry. While we were searching for the library as we walked around we came upon what looked like a protest. It turned out to be a college graduation

 After we could not get into the library we walked around some more and went to a Greek street food place we had learned about on the internet before the trip called O Kostas .

 It was amazing, and well worth all the misadventures up to that point. 

 We then walked back to our hotel, to retrieve our luggage before getting a cab to the ferry. I get seasick and wore these wristbands which apply pressure and they worked like a charm! No ill effects from the three hour ferry ride. We arrived in Sifnos and I immediately fell in love with Greece!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Our Trip To Greece,One Month Later: Day 3

Day 3: June 8, 2023 

Day 3 of our trip is the first day that started and ended  in Greece, and Oh what a day it was.  

Before I get into the details, let me say this.  When you plan a trip of this magnitude, you don't end up getting to do everything you planned.  One example of this is that we both wanted to take a side trip to Corinth.  Corinth is about an hour by bus from Athens and is a city where the Apostle Paul penned at least two letters to the local church.  I say at least 2, because 2 of them became books of the Bible.  In the end there was so much to do in Athens while still heavily jet lagged that we didn't make it to Corinth.  

All of our accommodations provide breakfast for us.  The place in Athens was your standard breakfast buffet with a Greek twist.  We ate breakfast and ventured out into the city. The first thing we did was get a sim card for Amy's phone that allowed us to navigate Greece better. The only form of transportation we used that day was walking, and clocked over 22000 steps. 

We exchanged money at an ATM and found like we had been told that exchanging at an ATM was better than exchanging at banks or currency exchanges.  There were many shops, restaurants,  open markets, and street vendors and it was quite a sight to behold.  We did a little shopping and then went to Hadrian's Library. It was created by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 132 so accolades to him for his construction are long overdue.  I know, a library joke.  It was either that or go Yo! Hadrian!

We purchase a multi-site pass at Hadrian's Library.  This also granted us admission to The Parthenon, and the Ancient Agora.  We had been told that if you but a multi-site pass to do it at a location other than the Parthenon to avoid the long lines there and we were very glad we did.  

After Hadrian's library we had our first meal at a restaurant in Greece.  I think this was the only time we ate inside other than at our hotel.  We tried many new foods while in Greece and Amy really loved all the Greek salads.  

After lunch we walked up the acropolis and we climbed up the Areopagus Hill also know as Mars Hill, I just posted a little about the significance of Mar's Hill on Thursday here is the link.  

Temple of Athena


Hadrians Library


Mars Hill

View of Patrhenon from Mars Hill

Seeing these ancient structures and walking where they walked (the old people) was a bit overwhelming, and the significance was not lost on us. It was a reminder of God's greatness!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Our Trip To Greece, One Month Later: Day 2

 Day 2: June 7th 2023

June 7th the 2nd day of our Greece trip began for me on a plane in the middle of a flight from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Athens, Greece.  There is a 8 hour time change between Chicago and Greece and a 7 hour time change between Toronto and Greece and you fly through all the time zones in between as you make your way to Athens.  So, I am not exactly sure where I was when the 7th became the 8th but it happened sometime on the 9 1/2 hour flight.  So when we left Toronto on June 6th at 6:10 p.m, It was already 1:10 am on June 7th in Greece.  When we landed in Greece it was nearing 11:00 in the morning there while just 3 a.m in Chicago where we had been the day before.

The flight was a night flight and the plane was crowded and after an hour or two of sitting I would be in a lot of pain.  The pain would be relieved when I got up to go to the bathroom or stretch my legs, but since the plane was dark for the majority of the flight, I was in the window seat and had to get Amy and someone else to move every time I got up.

In the morning I opened up the blind to my window and was treated  to some fantastic views, here are some  pictures I took of them:

When I saw this view, I knew we were on the right trip.  Amy love mountains and the sea and in the U.S. midwest we don't get a lot of either of them.  


As we were getting closer and closer to Athens I saw more boats and ferries knowing that in a few days we would be travelling on one. 

We landed, got our passports stamped, grabbed our luggage and made our way towards the Athens Metro.  In a bit of trip symmetry, we got to the Chicago airport by commuter train and left the Athens airport by the same mode of transportation.  In Chicago we only were on the train for 1 stop.  In Greece, we were on a very crowded train for over an hour.  We were exhausted, but also invigorated as we talked with some folks from the Netherlands who had also just got into the country.  The main  differences between us was that their flight was only about 2 hours and they didn't have to exchange money as the Euro is the currency in both countries.  

We had been told by our cell phone carrier before we left that we would be able to use our phones in Greece without having to buy a sim card to use there.  This was not the case, and as a result once we got to our stop we could not use the phone's g.p.s to get us to the hotel.  A lovely man at a bar we passed recognized the name of our hotel and told us exactly how to get there.  There would be MANY such occasions in days to come where the warm Greek people would happily help us find our destinations.

As we made our way to our hotel trudging all our bags we began to realize that especially in Athens everyone moves with reckless abandon.  The cars, the busses, the motorcyclists, the bicyclists, even the pedestrians.  There are crossing lights but people kind of go where and when they want to.  We got to the hotel, got all our stuff in our room and then we took a short walk around our hotel.

Amy here...we were so sleepy, but wanted to fight the jet lag and quickly adjust our bodies to Greek time. We discovered the rooftop restaurant of our hotel was situated across from the below stunning view of the Acropolis (hill) and Parthenon (remnants of a temple on top of said hill.)  We were agog and awed and enjoyed some delicious food (mushroom risotto and some type of fish) before falling into a deep sleep which would last around 12 hours. 

The View from our Hotel's rooftop restaurant.


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Spiritual Thursday, Poetry Friday, Rejoicing in the Summer Season

 Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link is hosting this months Spiritual Journey Thursday.  I hosted last month and then went to Greece just a few days after that.  

Carol's Theme this month is rejoicing in the Summer season.  I technically was in Greece this spring as the official first day of Summer was June 21st this year and I left Greece on the 20th.  However I am going to use some of my experiences from the trip in this reflection as the trip took place on my "summer" vacation.  

Carol asked us to reflect on this Elanor Duse Quote:

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the field has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive"

As I reflected on the quote, I was reminded of the opening verse of Psalm 19 ...

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I got to thinking why we  don't always stop to smell the significance of God's creation.  It reminded me of my flight to Athens.  I had a window seat and it was a beautiful day out.  There was lovely view after lovely view as we approached our destination. Most of the passengers were not looking out the window.  Some were sleeping, others were reading.  The majority were on their electronic devices are watching the screen in front of their seat.  

The View Out My Window

God's glory in nature

Is always displayed

To see it, it helps 

When I roll up the shade.

My second thought about creation also has to do with my trip to Greece.  The above picture was taken on my first day in Greece at a place called the Areopagus or Mars Hill.  The Apostle Paul visited Mars Hill and even gave a sermon there.  You can read about in Acts 17: 16 -34.  Essentially Paul is in Athens disturbed by all the idol worship in the city, he is reasoning in the synagogue and gets an opportunity at Mars Hill to explain the new teaching he was proclaiming.  Paul uses the opportunity to talk about some of the things he has seen in Athens and to compliment the Athenians on some of their practices.  He also talks about a statue he had seen that was to an "unknown" God and uses that as an opportunity to proclaim the God of creation and share the story of Jesus.

There is a tendency to celebrate nature in a natural way and not as the creation of a creator.  Instead of talking about God many just deify nature itself referring to it as Mother Nature or Mother Earth but rejecting the biblical idea of a personal God who created it all. Instead of taking an antagonistic or combative approach to these differing world views, I think an approach like Paul used on Mars Hill is more suitable.  People who find inner peace, and contentment, and wonder from nature should be commended even if they do not believe in the God who created that beauty.  Like Paul believers should use that common bond, a spiritual regard, for nature as a starting point to talk about the God that the heavens declare the glory of.

Spiritual Journey Thursday is a gathering that takes place on the first Thursday of the month,  Click here to see the rest of the July installment.  I left for Greece on June 6th and returned on June 21st.  Today I started daily posts about my trip exactly one month after the trip began. Please join me for those reflections.  

I am also including this post at Poetry Friday for the brief poem inspired by this weeks theme and the picture I took from the airplane.  Marcie Atkins is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday.  Join in, by clicking here.

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip