Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Two Barbershop Stories

First one sad, second one funny.

My friend George Bailey passed away over the weekend. He was in his 90's, so - while we mourn the loss of a friend in our lives - we can celebrate a man who lived a long, full life; had a big, loving family; made wonderful music; and had many friends who loved him dearly. George sang enthusiastically for many, many years, and even got to sing a couple of songs with his favorite quartet (Gimme Four) a couple of days before he passed. He was a sweet guy who always asked about The Boy's health and about me when he saw my father; he went to mass every day, and he always said a special prayer for The Boy's health. It was an honor to know him, to sing with him, and to have directed him in chorus.

Today, my father's Valentine's Day quartet was rehearsing. They are doing Singing Valentines - pay your $50 or so, and a quartet will go to your S.O.'s place, sing a song or two, and gift a rose. Dad and three of his buddies do this every year as a fund raiser for the chorus. This was their first rehearsal, and it was at Dad's house. Anyway, they were singing, and they hit a pungent chord - just an out-of-tune stinker. (Not an expression of judgment - we all do it occasionally. Barbershop is a human art.) And, apparently at the same time, the picture of me tipped and fell over, as a response to the chord. Therefore, I was scolding them from 360 miles away.

That's awesome, and it made my night that Dad told me that.


Today I had a great sit-down with my Rabbi, and a great first session of vocal therapy. I need processing time for both, and I'm not in an emotional place to process it right now. I'll figure it out and let you know.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Reading time

I'm starting to mandate more "family reading time," particularly now that The Baby is starting to read independently. It's called, turn off the devices, take out a book, and spend an uninterrupted fifteen to thirty minutes just reading.

It's good for the soul.

My reading time is different than it used to be. I'm making an honest effort to advance to my Jewish studies by reading religious-style books; I'm currently working through "Gates of Shabbat," which is a description of how to have various religious events in the sanctity of the home and how to adopt various events into the fabric of home life. I'm also working my way through a Reform Responsa book, written by Rabbi Jacobs, which is a set of question and answer style writings about various religious interpretations from a reform jewish perspective. Tonight, I read about the "official" feelings in a mixed marriage, when a parent decides to baptize a child out of spite after an acrimonious split.

Baptism as a weapon: not just a Simpsons theme. Circumcision as a weapon? The mind boggles.

Don't get me wrong; I've managed to find time to re-read Warren Ellis's "Planetary" series last month, and I just finished the first three volumes of the most recent Batman series. One needs some dessert to go with a main course.

The Boy is an easy mark when it comes to reading. He loves it. His only difficulty is choosing which particular book to read. He loves Little Bear's baseball lessons, because it gives him unrestricted access to a library for an hour and a half. I'm certain that the librarians love him, because he's honestly enthusiastic over everything literary! Of course, Calvin & Hobbes and Peanuts are big features, as is Big Nate, the Captain Underpants books, and the Secret Series by "Psuedonyminous Bosch."

The Baby sometimes likes reading small people books (like Elephant and Piggy), sometimes likes paging through a comic book (we're big fans of Art and Franco's stuff - Teeny Tiny Titans, and Superman Family Adventures, and Super Powers), sometimes through  level 1 or level 2 readers, like the Empire Strikes Back book he got for Channukah.

Little Bear, though, is a greater challenge. He's more interested in Pokemon cards and sports to read, and I've even had issues getting him to crack open a sports book. I've bought a couple of the Matt Christopher sports stories, which he hasn't read yet since Channukah. He's read one of the Derek Jeter kids' books and enjoyed it; and he's done 1.5 Harry Potter books. He likes stories, and he's a good reader, he's just a physically active kid that doesn't like sitting in one place and reading. We'll get him, though.


Broken pinky update: he had no issues at baseball practice on Saturday with the fielding days. He did basketball on Sunday, with a think padded wrap on his hand and strict instructions not to use his left hand; he scored one basket en route to a 22-12 loss. Ortho appointment on Wednesday morning, and we'll see. Baseball practice with the 7 & 8 year old team on Friday, and baseball lessons on Saturday, which is a hitting day. I'm interested to see what happens.

Saturday, January 28, 2017


Saturdays, we rest. Sort of. We will generally bum around the house until about 8 or 8:30, when I'll motivate the children to clean up something in the house: their room, or the living room, or the kitchen, or somewhere that they have contributed the lion's share of the mess. Today, it was their room. Little Bear clean while The Boy and The Baby were screwing around; when we left the house, the two boys did not get our usual Sunday donut treat. They were warned, and I'm mean like that. If you don't at least meet me half way, you're out of luck. They had an hour to do 25 minutes of work, and it didn't get done.

This winter, Little Bear is taking baseball lessons at the Training Kamp site, which is part of the Athletic Club at the Carnegie Library in Homestead. The Carnegie Library in Homestead is not your typical local library: it's got a nice library, for sure, but it also has an 800-ish seat concert hall (where The Wife and I saw Kevin Smith a few years ago), an indoor pool, and I think there's a weight room in the building somewhere. There are also definitely some dance studios. So, not your typical place.

I'll get into Training Kamp later; suffice it to say, we love it.

So, Little Bear's lessons are 10:30-12:00 on Saturday mornings, from the beginning of October until the end of March. They work on footwork, glove drills, ball handling drills, swinging off a tee, hand position on the bat, turning the barrel the right way, that sort of thing. Tiny, detail-oriented items that, normally, it's hard to find time to do during the actual season.

The Boy loves it, because I let him go (by himself) upstairs to the library. He checks out a few books, and sits and reads them, or he plays his school math game on the computer (he's number one in the third grade at his school). The Baby hangs out with me and plays on my iPad, usually, or plays with some toys or books on days like today, when his lack of cleaning denied him the right to play on a device.

After, we went home, and I prepared a quick lunch while the boys cleaned off the kitchen table. The Wife came home and finished lunch with the boys, while I went upstairs and took a quick nap. We swapped places after an hour, and The Boy and I played our game.

My New Year's Resolution was to find some video gaming time with The Boy. Not competitive, but cooperative gaming time. This year, we're working on the Simpsons game from 2007. It's a fun platform puzzler, and there are funny situations in which the Simpsons get involved.

After that, we watched some television, and Grandma and Grandpa picked the boys up to take them out to dinner to celebrate Chinese New Year (with sushi). The Wife and I stayed home; she worked on a music project, and I watched "Max Max: Fury Road." After we picked the boys up, I finished the movie, and here I am.

This was a nice, relaxing Saturday. I didn't crack 4,000 steps on my fitbit, and it's almost 11 PM. I haven't historically been used to that; but, since my body decided to entirely fail on a regular basis since Thanksgiving, I've been forced to take days like today. Tomorrow, with my normal morning exercise and with the boys' basketball games and The Wife's multiple rehearsals, life gets back to normal.

I wonder if this is what a regular shabbat is like - a day of rest. Kind of boring. Baseball season starts at the end of March, so things will get interesting soon.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Progress Towards Goal

This morning, which was my 7th weight workout since I resumed exercising post-illness, I actually started to add real weight to my exercises. Prior to today, I was doing very light weights, to prepare myself and allow myself to ease back into a rigorous exercise routine. It was a nice feeling this morning: while I'm nowhere close to where I was in November (pre-illness), I took a baby step back towards getting where I want to be.

When I was cleaning up for work, I was realizing exactly how many things that we, as a family, do that consists of tiny steps towards a larger goal - or simply for the sake of improving something. The boys practice their instruments daily: they get home from school, do their homework, practice their instruments, eat dinner. It's just part of the everyday routine, and we build it into their schedule. Even if they don't have time to do a full, thorough practice session, we still do a little bit to make sure that something makes positive progress. The boys' reading is the same way: they're asked to read on a daily basis, which is easy for The Boy and easy (somewhat) for The Baby. Little Bear still struggles with making the time, even though he is an exceptional reader.

For me, I've got a bunch of things on which I'm working: writing in the blog; reading books for my Jewish class on Thursday nights; organizing our family photos on the iMac; before I got sick, playing my saxophone again. It's a lot, and there are plenty of nights (like after my class on Thursday) when I realize I won't be able to get to everything. The trick, for me, is to pick up right where I left off and not let it entirely derail me.

The one that's the hardest, ironically, is the one I've being doing the longest: practicing saxophone. I really do enjoy playing, and my experience playing saxophone with the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra (that's The Wife's group, with whom she has been playing since we moved out here) in December was sublime. I really liked the people in the orchestra, and I enjoyed playing for the director, Walter Morales. He's a neat musician and an engaging conductor: he's very easy to watch and to follow, and the emotions he wants are very clear.

I really miss(ed) playing my instrument - waaaay more than I realized. After my first rehearsal, I actually had to sit in the car for about 5 minutes and collect myself: I was literally shaking with adrenaline and emotion! It was a nice, albeit overwhelming, feeling. The practice and preparation for playing the piece (Duke Ellington's Nutcracker Suite) was rewarding and fun. After the concert, I drew up a practice plan for myself to try to keep myself engaged in playing: scales and such, and finally re-attack the Glasunov Saxophone Concerto for the first time in almost 20 years. But G-d had other plans, and I got sick and spent most of the next month lying on a chair, coughing a LOT.

Careening off topic, tomorrow morning is my vocal scope at the Voice Center at Mercy Hospital. They're going to stick a camera down my throat and see if there are any triggers in my vocal folds for my coughing. In a weird way, I hope that they DO find something wrong - even if it's untreatable, because then I'd know what's been causing this ceaseless cough, because it isn't really typical asthma. The good news is, the cough had been going away but has returned in full force. Hooray. Just in time.

Hm. I need to re-attack this topic, of baby steps and tiny bits of work. I got off topic pretty quickly. I'll get there.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Historically, I've never been a religious person. My father is a religious man, and we went to church every week when I was growing up. I never felt particularly connected to our church; the kids in my school went to the Catholic church on the other side of town, and the kids in our church already knew each other from school. The people were very nice, but church was a chore. My honest strong memory is getting kicked out of a special Sunday school service in 1986 so I could go home and listen to the World Series on the radio - which I don't know if it was a real memory, because I don't know what day of the week it was and I can't really imagine that the game was early enough to make a difference. I've tried, at various points, to connect with the faith into which I was born, and it's never worked. I was a paid member of a couple different church choirs, which isn't really the same thing as attending services; I would not have gone (and didn't go) when I wasn't paid.

Long story short, I'm walking away from my Christian roots. I stopped identifying myself as a Christian several years ago, and this past September, I began taking classes at Rodef Shalom (our family synagogue) which will ultimately result in conversion to the Jewish faith. Once I'm done with my classes and complete the other required items, I will officially be a Jewish man.

It's taken me a long time to figure out why my feelings have developed. I've met truly delightful and caring people everywhere I've met, and the people with whom I've sung in church choir (and the ministers and reverends for whom I've sung) have been amazing people. I have nothing but respect and love for them (my St. Peter's Choir picture - with whom I spent three great years - hangs in a prominent place in my singing wall), but that isn't where my heart lies.

Ultimately, the biggest difference, to me, is the focus on this life instead of the next one. I love the concept of "tikkun olam:" "Heal the world." Doing good, and making things better, because it's the right thing to do; not because of the threat of hell and reward of heaven. Doing good is its own reward. I love that our leaders are active in making the world a better place. I love that my wife fights and marches and calls and petitions and works hard to improve things.

I like how being Jewish isn't just a thing that I do on Sunday mornings. It's lighting candles on Friday night; it's making Saturdays special. It's eating a specific way, because it's a sign of my commitment to G-d (and this one, I'm going to have a problem with - I love bacon, and Taylor ham is one of the primary reasons I go back to New Jersey - but I'll figure it out). It's Sunday school, and Hebrew school for the kids, and reading and studying things in my new faith, and learning lots more songs to sing, and - eventually - reading Torah in the original Hebrew. It's lots of holidays that revolve around the concept: "They tried to kill us; they failed; let's eat."

I like our Jewish community; I like how so many of our activities and friends revolve around our synagogue, from baseball to weekend time to youth activities to preschool and so on. When The Wife and I were discussing how to raise our children, I stated that, if we were going to bother pursuing religion for our children and our family, that we were going to find a community and dive in. When we got to Pittsburgh, we found an amazing community of people at Rodef Shalom. It made it easy to dive in. The fact that The Wife started working there later was icing on the cake; we found a home when we started pre-school.

I hope my friends won't read this as a criticism of their beliefs. That's not my intention. I'm certainly not saying that people of other faiths don't make the world a better place, and I'm not naive enough to think that my newly chosen faith is perfect. We're all human, and anything human is, by definition, imperfect. Still, it's the right fit for me, and I've been a happier human being since I made the commitment to go down this path.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Giving Me The Finger

Saturday was an amazing spring day, stuck right in the middle of the winter. It was 65 degrees and a little damp; it had rained for most of the week. We made plans to go to the ball field to throw some, catch with a mitt, and hit in the cage; if we could get onto the field, so much the better. The Wife packed three baseball bags and 7 or 8 mitts, a handful of balls, a big box of granola bars, a case of juice boxes, and some bottles of water into the car, and - after my nap - we went to Frick Park / Lederman Field.

The cool thing was that there were a host of people with the exact same idea: no fewer than six baseball families came to the park to hit, throw, and catch. I played catch with The Baby, who does a nice job catching with the glove if you can throw it high enough that palm-up catching is impossible. He throws with his left hand (made him learn that, because he wouldn't commit to writing with one hand until fairly late) with some accuracy. Little Bear caught for a few minutes before wandering off to join a football game on an adjacent blacktop. I caught with some of the other kids that were there, and one of the other dads threw a ton of batting practice.

The Baby is coming along nicely with his swing. He'll be able to smack a few good hits this summer, I'm sure. The Boy is getting back into shape: he has a nice swing, and he's reasonably athletic, but he's out of practice.

I like the people who play with the Squirrel Hill Baseball League. They're good people, and they understand the game, and they understand that it's about the kids. Of course they want to win, because they want to provide a fun time with the young people; but it is not winning at the expense of learning, camaraderie, and playing good, hard baseball. This fall, I'll have Little Bear playing "D2" ball, which is kid-pitch, 8-10 year old baseball; The Boy has decided to come back and play as well, which is GREAT!!! The Baby will be playing coach-pitch Junior Pirates. The Baby and Little Bear will be playing for the 7 & under tournament team, assuming The Baby makes it (I figure he will, because - at minimum - we always need people to play on Saturdays because of the Shomer Shabbos families). Little Bear will also play for the 8's. I'm not sure which his "home" team will be; we'll figure that out when we need to.

So, we hit around, and we threw around, and we spent a great afternoon at the park, until I saw Little Bear standing by a tree holding his left hand and wincing. Turns out, one of the kids punted the ball into the air, and Little Bear decided to make a jumping circus catch on the asphalt. The tip of the football caught his left pinky, and it started to swell almost immediately.You know what that means: a likely trip to the emergency room at Children's Hospital. Sigh.

The finger is problematical, as everything he does requires 10 good fingers: cello, baseball practice, etc. We iced it all night, and wrapped it up as soon as possible. When it had swollen to twice its normal size on Sunday morning, he and I dropped his brothers at Sunday school and visited the ER at Children's.

Long story reduced to medium length, he went for x-rays, and the scans were inconclusive. They think there's a shadow or an angle on the finger, but they can't be certain that it's an actual break. Their instructions were to keep it in a splint and wait a few days; if it still hurt, then call orthopedics and make an appointment. So, he rested all day yesterday.

Good sportsman award: he chose to go to basketball, still, and sit on the bench and cheer his team. I'm really proud that he did that; he didn't have to, and he could have stayed home and sulked. His teammates appreciated it, and the coaches were all very nice and sympathetic to him.

Day two didn't go as easy: he had off from school and had some friends over, and he was not as gentle as he should be. Sigh.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Ninja Warrior

Have you every watched the show "American Ninja Warrior?" Or, better yet: the original Ninja Warrior show from earlier this century (...still feels weird to type that...) from Japan, which was frequently played on the now-defunct G4 channel? They make this crazy, crazy obstacle course, that takes near-superhuman strength and stamina to complete, and run a whole bunch of people through it. After four stages (the last of which is a direct vertical rope climb), any "survivors" who complete the courses are crowned the American Ninja Warrior and win a jillion dollars or something. The Wife and I used to watch the show whenever it was on, and I rediscovered it this spring. The Boy, in particular, was entirely captivated.

This was a BIG DEAL, by the by. The Boy has not, historically, been a particularly attentive athlete. Little Bear is an athlete and hyper-competitive: find a group of people with a ball of some sort, and he'll be right in the middle. Doesn't matter how old or young the group is, he's there. The Baby is still little, but he trends towards the social: he likes being around people, and he will do what he needs to do to find friends and play with them.

The Boy has not been motivated to be particularly active, particularly since he discovered books and discovered that his doting parents will allow him to read any thing at any time, just about. When we would go to the playground, he would bring a book with him and sit on a bench or sit on the merry go-round or sit on a swing and read patiently until it was time to go home.

That changed immediately upon discovering American Ninja Warrior. This show captured his imagination like nothing athletic has before. He began to pester us to build an American Ninja Warrior obstacle or two in our backyard (which is nowhere near big enough for something like that, not to mention that nothing in my history would indicate that I could safely build that). He trained himself on the playground: from barely being able to hold himself up on the monkey bars, he was able to make it forwards and backwards across the monkey bars. It was astonishing: I've never really seen Motivated The Boy like this!

We signed him up for a gymnastic class at the end of the summer, something he has been enthusiastic about. He loves his "Gemini Tough Guy" shirt and wears it frequently; the name of the studio is Gemini Gymnastics and Dance. He began to hear a pattern from the American Ninja Warrior guys on the television: they all did gymnastics in high school and/or college. I've been able to get out there for a parent observation once, and I watched him do a pretty decent straight-arm cartwheel and walk a few steps on his hands, two things that I have never done.

On Monday, we went to the Flight Trampoline Park in Bridgeville, PA, because they have an American Ninja Warrior course, in addition to the other cool trampoline stuff (trampolines, obviously; dodge ball on trampolines; a laser-dodging course; and a cool little tiny kid area). They had four "courses" of three obstacles each, which includes Ninja Warrior "favorites" like the swinging steps, and the narrow finger grip ledges, and the trapezes, and such. We found a Groupon of reasonable price, and Daddy got to be a hero for a day. The humbling thing for all of us was how difficult those obstacles were - and they were small versions of the television show. I know that I have terrible grip strength, so I wasn't going to be good at them. I still tried, and I have the strained abs and sore legs of someone who doesn't quite know when to quit. The boys did somewhat better (they weigh a third as much) but still struggled.

The downfall part of the day was that I entirely spaced on The Boy's gymnastics class for the week. Sigh. But, it was still an awfully fun day, and I'm still proud of The Boy for pushing himself as fast and as far as he did.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A Good Burn

Yesterday, I had off from work. The Wife was in Boston for a rehearsal of her new chorus (well, new to her - more on that at a different time), and I was home with the boys. This was a turnabout of previous years, when I would be away with my chorus (usually in Cleveland or Toledo) while she was home; but, I digress. The Boy and I were the only two ones who were awake, and we began to discuss what we would do for the day. I debated about taking them to the movies, so we reviewed what was playing at the local cinema. The only things that were particularly kid appropriate (because I wasn't exactly going to leave The Baby in the car) were Rogue One (which we've already seen), the new Harry Potter movie (we haven't seen enough Harry Potter to appreciate this one), and Monster Trucks.

Monster Trucks just looks awful. I said as much to The Boy. His response: "You know, Dad, a movie doesn't have to come from a comic book to be good." Apply ointment to the burned area.

But, it makes sense. My media consumption time has been extremely limited lately: television, movies, video games, and books all take time to consume. I get home from work around 5:45 on a given night, and the boys are usually in bed at 8:30. I'm in bed not too long after - 10:00 on a normal night, a little earlier whenever possible. So, if I want to do things with the family, that leaves a very narrow window. If it's a night with an activity, that makes it even harder - and most nights have an activity, like violin and cello lessons, or group class, or Hebrew school, or baseball games (spring / summer / fall), or basketball (winter), or gymnastics (The Boy, during the school year). Then, factor in basic housework and dishes and homework and writing in a blog and organizing some pictures and reading for my class.... it gets harder and harder to find a little "me" time for media consumption.

All of that is to say, I get to go to the movies more rarely than I would prefer. So, I tend to choose movies that most closely parallel my interests. This past year, I went to the movies nine times: to see Deadpool, Florence Foster Jenkins, Captain America: Civil War, Batman v Superman (twice), Suicide Squad, Dr Strange, and Rogue One (twice). One of these things is not like the other. I've watched other movies; but those other movies, I tend to watch at home. When I get to watch TV, it's usually in the mornings when I exercise. These days, I'm watching Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Lucifer, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Walking Dead.... and most of my reading, outside of the class I'm taking, tends to be of comic book form.

Here's what really floors me: The Boy, in one sentence, dissected my television and movie habits from the past several years. That's an astonishing observation from somebody who doesn't seem to notice much outside of himself. And, it was a witty observation that happened in a truly off-the-cuff fashion. Well played, Boy. Well played.


We did go to the Flight Trampoline Park in Bridgeville, PA, which has an American Ninja Warrior course inside of it. More on that later, but it was an awful lot of fun.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Turning the Corner

I'm finally turning the corner, physically and emotionally, on 2016 and preparing for the future.

It's been a rough six weeks. Basically, around Thanksgiving, I began to have my normal annual entertainment: persistent coughing, a little bit of wheezing, and a tremendous amount of physical discomfort. This is every year, although December 2015 was a remarkably easy one. This year, though, they were changing 30-plus year old carpets in my office. Best part: they were doing it one cubicle area at a time, which meant that every day, a new round of dust, dirt, and mold were flung into the air for me to enjoy. So, my usual annual issues were exacerbated immensely by my work environment, in which I usually spend 9 hours per day or so.

Long and boring story short, the cough got worse, which included wracking physical pains because of 24-hours of nonstop coughing; lack of sleep; lack of appetite. I was in bed, straight, from 12/27 through 1/3, only getting up to do a little bit of work at home for the bank. New Year's was spent in bed - I knocked myself out with a sleeping pill around 10. The Wife and the boys had a slumber party downstairs. The Boy and The Wife made it through midnight; the other two didn't. I went to the ER the next day and given an ineffective breathing treatment and some cough medicine (which was also ineffective). I went to my PCP the next day, who said the magic words: beats me, we're doing everything we know to do, let's see what happens in a few days.

So, when I went back to the breathing doctor, I did hear some nice words. It's the weirdest cough, because my lungs are essentially clear (when listened through the stethoscope), and the chest x-ray is always clear. The breathing function test is essentially normal. Heck, once the wracking pain went away, I knew that I could jump on the treadmill and run three or four miles without issues (...albeit coughing the entire time). He's decided that we're not going to treat this like asthma, but he's going to try to figure out the underlying cause of the cough.

I have an appointment at the Voice Center in a week and a half for a scope & check up. He thinks that it might be laryngospasms, which can trigger the airway irritation (which he said he could see) and cough. It also explains why the albuterol breathing medicine is entirely ineffective, and why cough medicine isn't effective, either. I'm hopeful about this, because maaaaaaaaybe this could also explain some of the singing issues that I've had for the last fifteen years or so. For whatever reason, when my voice hits a middle C or above, it entirely locks up - regardless of how much vocal instruction I've had, regardless of how much practice I'm doing, regardless of the amount and quality of air I use. That would be nice, if we could discover that the same underlying cause. Two birds, one stone, and an enormous quality of life improvement. My pessimistic nature says no way it's that easy, that I get to enjoy a nose/vocal fold scope to find out that everything is entirely normal and the cause of my persistent cough is a medical mystery.

However, over the past week or so, things are finally starting to subside. I'm eating normally, and I'm sleeping relatively normally. I'm coming off the steroids (best part: doctor thinks that the steroids aren't really helping, so I'm destroying my liver for no real reason) at the end of this week. I'm fortunate, in that my manager has been incredibly compassionate and accommodating - he certainly didn't have to, and I thank G-d for it. The members of our team have also been great and patient with me. I enjoy the people with whom I work - the biggest thing that's kept me at the bank is the people in my department.

I'm incredibly thankful for my wife, who has cared for me, patiently and lovingly, for the past month and a half. She's been truly amazing all the way through this ordeal, staying by my side and ministering to me at any and all hours of the day and night. I know that friends have had spouses who have not been as patient and kind; but The Wife truly understands and exemplifies "...in sickness and in health." I hit the lottery when I met her - one in a billion, without a doubt.

My New Year's resolutions include more writing this year. One would think that I have the time to do it these days, without a musical ensemble to call my own. It was an eventful end of year, with Little Bear playing two years up in kid-pitch baseball, and the boys starting at a new school, and The Boy taking up trombone (...and excelling beyond anybody's expectations), and me playing saxophone with The Wife's orchestra, and The Baby learning to read and playing his violin well (...and throwing really, really hard with his left arm, also a huge plus), and The Wife's new chorus, and some early spring cleaning, and my father turning 81 (and what that means), and decorating my house for the holidays, and my pending religious changes..... there's a bunch of things that are happening, waaaay more than seasonal blog updates so that Google doesn't think I disappeared.

I did just register "www.musicaldaddy.com," so that's a thing that happened.