3 Year Anniversary

No deep thoughts or reflections here.  I just want to thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and WordPress for giving me the platform in which to write my blog.

I love writing, I love reading, and I’m profoundly grateful to all of you.

I still hate the Oxford comma, but I’m trying to get used to it.

Here’s to another 3 years.

Thank you again, Barb

 

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Saneteachers Got Talent feat. Swahoogie

Recently I had the wonderful opportunity to sit with Thomas “Zeke” Krouskoff,  the founder and songwriter of the rock band Swahoogie.  Swahoogie is a local band in the New York City area and performs live as well as in the studio.

Thomas “Zeke” Swahoogie

Saneteachers:  I’m assuming that you were born with a guitar in your hand.  In case that’s an exaggeration,  did you start out as a garage-type musician?

Zeke:  Ha! The main goal for every band I’ve been in since I was 14 has been to play live music before an audience.  We have never stayed in the garage too much.  If anything, we may be under-rehearsed.

Saneteachers:  When did you start composing songs and what groups influenced your songwriting the most?

Zeke:  I started writing songs consistently when I was 14 or 15.  I was heavily influenced by The Kinks, The Rolling Stones, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen.  Classic bands that I still like today.

Saneteachers: Are there any newer bands that you are currently listening to?

Zeke:  I’m a big fan of Blitzen Trapper.  I even flew from NY to LA for one night just to see them at the Troubadour in Hollywood.

Saneteachers:  As I writer myself, I’m always interested in not only what someone writes but what drives them to write.  What started you on your journey down the songwriting road?

Zeke:  I have always approached songwriting as a vehicle for expressing who I am and where I am at a particular moment in my life.  My songs are not necessarily autobiographical, but they reflect people I know and experiences I have had.  

Here’s an example… One of my songs, Last Chance Guadalajara, is about dealing with addiction and alcoholism and references  “living in the southwest in a haze of cactus.” However, I have never been to Guadalajara or lived in the Southwest.

Songwriting has always helped me make a connection to the world and make sense of what is happening around me.  I feel a good song should tell a story or paint a picture for the listener.

Saneteachers:  What is it like to write a song, and I’m sure you do lots of editing….actually, do you?  I shouldn’t assume that.

Zeke:  I am a big believer in editing and rewriting. Very rarely does a song come together in one shot for me.  I might have most of a song and then spend a long time revising the rest. Sometimes it’s one phrase that doesn’t feel right. When I get lazy with editing, those parts always bother me when I hear the song in the future. Recently I have gotten into the habit of writing half songs and mixing together phrases from several different unfinished songs.

One of the best feelings as a songwriter is having a song come to life.  I love to hear people singing along to a full band version of a song I originally wrote alone with an acoustic guitar in the middle of the night.

Saneteachers:  The music business has been heavily impacted by social media and music sites.  What has worked well for you?  Can you share some of your links with your old and new fans here?

Zeke:  Its great to be able to get my songs heard around the world. I find it interesting to see that some people in Denmark listen to Swahoogie. Our music is available on iTunes, Spotify, and SoundCloud. It’s fun to play a show and then be able to post a YouTube clip that night for people who couldn’t get to the gig. That’s a big difference from when we played in the 90s.

Saneteachers:  Here is a personal favorite of mine…..

 

 

Zeke:  I have been blessed to make incredible friends because of the music.  I’m playing with friends I’ve known since I was in my teens and early twenties, as well as friends I’ve made in the past few years.  The best part of Swahoogie is that it brings people together.  Each performance feels like a celebration of life.  Each show feels like it is the continuation of a lifelong passion. 

Follow Swahoogie on Facebook , iTunesSpotify,  SoundCloudYouTube

You can see Swahoogie live, this Saturday, August 12th at Dudley’s in New Rochelle, NY.

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And Then…..This Happened

“I’m so happy that something else happened to my car while I wasn’t in it” said no person ever.

If you have been following my accidents-that-happen-when-I’m-not-the-car saga, I think the count was three in a month, and then one 30 years ago.

Until two weeks ago.

On July 18th, my husband went to work and upon his arrival home we were going to leave on a two week vacation that involved driving to the airport in New York City and then flying to see his parents and go on a cruise and do the whole thing in reverse.

My car had just been back from being fixed for a few days.  I told my husband a few times that the grill looked different.  I knew it was new, and therefore shinier, but it still looked different.

In and out of the house we went packing the car for our 2 week adventure.  In and out, in and out and then I looked directly at the front grill and saw……

Invisible license plate

AAAUUUGGGHHH

No wonder it looked different, knucklehead Barb.  THE LICENSE PLATE IS MISSING.  For a moment I thought it was taunting me with its beady little eyes.  Don’t you be gettin’ in my grill.

Then I calmly ran into the house screaming OMG THE LICENSE PLATE IS MISSING.  And my husband covered his face with his hands.

I apologized profusely.  I should have noticed I should have noticed I’m sorry I’m sorry and I realized I wasn’t helping the situation.  And, as he replied, he didn’t notice either.

We unpacked the car and repacked it all in the smaller car.  And checked that both license plates were on that one.

After our vacation, it only took one trip to DMV and two trips to Home Depot to get the stuff to put the new one on.  If it hasn’t occurred to anyone else I’m pretty sure the car repair place didn’t put it back on the new grill.  Nor did they put the thingy on the back of the grill in which to screw the bolts.

But I’m married to #awesomehusband so he did everything and I wisely stayed out of his way.

When all was finished I walked out to look at the new plates.  Oddly, the letters of the plates are my high school and college nickname.

Adage: Out of trials, serendipity arrives.  Yes I made that up.

 

 

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“I Learned How to Write From My Heart”

This is a wonderful feature on Discover from my favorite blogger.

Discover

“I often say that blogging is like talking to yourself, and then realizing someone heard you,” writes Paul at The Captain’s Speech. In his reflection on four years of blogging, he explains how this outlet has introduced him to a larger community of writers and readers, showed him how powerful our words truly are, and taught him how to write from the heart.


Early on in this blog’s life, I was always so worried about every sentence, and every word, and every comma, and every semi-colon, and every little detail. It ate away at me as I put words on the screen. I would write three sentences and delete two and a half of them.

I felt like it had to be perfect, or someone would criticize me.

After a few months of being a “sports blog,” I reached a turning point.

It was the first September in…

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The Day I Was Electrocuted

On my 21st birthday, my parents sent me down to take ice cream out of the old freezer that they kept in the garage.  I was supposed to bring up a container of vanilla and one of neopolitan.  As I went barefoot down the wooden steps to the garage I thought yuck.  I hate neopolitan ice cream.

Just as I reached for the freezer handle, I noticed how humid the cement floor was.  I grabbed the handle and it is not possible to describe the level of electricity that was coursing through my body.  I could not let go of the handle.

I was being electrocuted and I knew that I was going to die.

I tried to lift my left arm up, thinking I could use it to help pull my right hand off of the metal handle, but could not move.

Immediately I heard laughter and realized that it was not coming from within the room; it was inside me.  Not only did I realize that I was dying, but I knew I was going to hell. Then I was aware of an arm hovering over my arm.  As that arm pulled up and over to my right hand, my own arm went up and over to my right hand.  I was able to pull my hand free of the freezer.

I flew over the car and landed on the woodpile in the garage.  And screamed my head off.  It seemed like 20 minutes had gone by, but my parents, who came running as soon as they heard me scream, said it was only a minute or two between when I went downstairs and when I started to scream.

That was 40+ years ago and it didn’t occur to anyone that perhaps I should go to the hospital.  I was physically okay, although I do have cardiac atrial fibrillation. So who knows?

Spiritually I was a mess.  And still am, I suppose.  There is no doubt in my mind that I was dying and that God intervened.  No doubt that it was God’s arm suspended over mine that saved me.  And before you ask, no I didn’t “see” the arm over mine, I just knew it was there.  Is that what they call a vision?  I don’t know.

I was being electrocuted, and with utter conviction, I know my life was saved by the hand of God.

 

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A Nostalgic Mess

The credit for this post goes to Ann Coleman at muddlingthroughmymiddleage.com.  I’m not exactly stealing the idea, but as soon as I read Ann’s post about Moving On, it struck such a chord with me that I knew I had to tell my somewhat similar story.

My husband thinks that I’m a nostalgic mess.  After feeling affronted, I realize that he is right.

We bought our  my dream house in 1999-2000.  Sometime around then.  Don’t get me wrong, he really liked the house, too, but I loved it.  Loved it, loved it, loved it.

It is on the side of a mountain, no neighbors in sight during the summer, no noise except the howling of coyotes at night.  We have seen mother deer nursing their fawns, have had minx in the backyard and one time a black bear stroll down the driveway.

This house is a large colonial which was good since together we have four children, and at various times my two daughters moved in with their infants and lived with us until they were back on their feet.

We also had two dogs and with four acres, they could run around without leashes and stayed put.  I always said that the top part our “yard,” which was a long, steep slope to a large mowed area, provided a great view for the dogs that was like watching a large screen HD TV.

Then a family tragedy struck and we had to sell the house and move.  One does what is necessary in situations like this, and we had to sell.  There was no question nor other option.  Family comes first.

But I was devastated.  We sold the house in 2010?  Around then.  Periodically, we drive by and it looked sort of the same, except the yard work, fence work, rock walls and garden that we (mostly my husband) built and took such pride in, started to fall by the wayside and weren’t tended the way we wanted.  Oh well.

Then, a couple of years ago, it started to look deserted.  No curtains on the windows, no toys are cars in the driveway.  I checked around and everyone who knew the new owners said they lived there.

Well a couple of weeks ago, we saw that the yard looked extra-unkempt and the house was obviously empty.  I went up and looked in the windows.  There was a sign in a window from 2 years ago that the water was shut off to winterize the house.  Turns out the house is in foreclosure.

My first reaction was YAY!!!!  We can buy it back!!!!

My husband’s reaction was  ARE YOU INSANE?

Nostalgia, nostalgia, nostalgia.

All of our kids are adults, retirement is in the not-so-distant future and we are down-sizing from our already down-sized condo.

And I want to buy again our four bedroom huge colonial on four acres in the woods. Yes, yes I do.

I know it’s a pipe dream, but it is much cheaper now that it is in foreclosure.  But more expensive than a pension and Social Security can justify.  There is no way that we can turn back the clock and move back to this home.  My dream home where we spent nine nostalically perfect years.

Shhhhhh…….don’t tell my husband, but I check the listing every day and drive by the house every week.

I’m a semi-realistic nostalgic mess.

 

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Unoccupied Car Accidents….For Real

I have been involved in four accidents that I can think of off the top of my head that have one thing in common.  No one was in the car at the time.

The first one was a doozy.  In a previous job that was a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I had a Chevy Lumina.  Perfect car for a single mom with three kids.

I was in an important meeting, and was a low person on the totem pole in this meeting and didn’t want to come across as an idiot.  My position was Assistant Program Director of Residential Services, which sounds a lot more important than it was and there were like six of us.  But it did mean that I had to approve of, and be informed of, a ridiculous amount of things.

The secretary at the corporate office knocked on the conference room door and called me out of the meeting at least three times.  I finally said to her “DON’T INTERRUPT AGAIN UNLESS THE POLICE ARE HERE.”  About five minutes later, she knocked on the door again and called me outside.  I started to voice my annoyance and she cut me off and said “The police are really here.”

Police:  Your car was involved in a major accident.

Me:

Police:  It is totaled and cannot be driven.

Me:  But I’m in a meeting, not in the car.

While parked at the curb (and I’m a good driver), an 18-wheeler driven by a not very good driver, missed the turn and slammed into my car, shattering the windows and smashing in the side of the car.  Crazy.

The other three accidents occurred in the last month and a half and were also crazy but not as serious.

  1. We have assigned parking spaces at work.  They are on the small size.  I was parked in the middle of my space and inside school.  Not in the car.  The person parked on one side of my car sideswiped me.  Down the entire length of my car.  Drive-able, but still.  In her defense, she had a big car which also had a lot of damage.  She now has a new SUV which is much smaller.
  2. The day after the work incident, my husband got off the train in which he commutes to work, walked to his car, and saw that the front of his car had been smashed.  I’m not good at describing cars, but someone had obviously backed into his car.  Fast. This person is proof that there are honest people left in the world because he left his name and phone number on the windshield.
  3. As I was on my genealogy hunt last week, I had a very frustrating day that ended up being fairly fruitful.  I left a Town Clerk’s office feeling proud of myself and saw something in the road near my car.  I picked it up so that I wouldn’t run over it, and saw it was a side mirror.  Then I realized it was the exact same color as my car.  I looked over and sure enough, probably a small truck knocked the driver mirror off. I drove over the Tappan Zee Bridge (a nightmare on the best of days) petrified because I use my mirrors for everything and I was afraid to change lanes.

Caveat:  I have been involved in other fairly minor accidents.  None have been considered my fault to the police or insurance company.  Several deer have received citations, however.  And I don’t mean to minimize accidents which have caused catastrophic tragedies for families.

Conclusion drawn?  Parking your car and not being in it is a dangerous activity.

Parked under the influence of emptiness.

 

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Will The Real Slim Augusta Please Stand Up

Genealogy has been a passion of mine for years, and I’ve worked on it heavy-duty for the last 2-3 years.  Now I’m proving my lineage for the Mayflower Society.  That sounds really easy on paper.  This person was born from these parents on such-and-such a date, married this person whose parents are so-and-so and died on such-and-such a date and whose parents are still so-and-so.

It’s one thing to know that, but another thing to prove that.  And now that school is over, I’ve been working on this with a vengeance.

For the Mayflower Society, everything has to be proven and double proven (did I just make up that expression?).  So here’s my story…..

Everyone in my family has lied.  Almost everyone.  Virtually no one was born or married where they said they were.  And I mean on DOCUMENTS they lied.  It is not exaggerating to say that there are 4 Town Clerks in a string of towns along the Hudson River who recognize me and know me by name.

I’m fortunate to live near where a bunch of my ancestors lived.  Even though they didn’t say they lived there.

So as not to blow up my family business too much, I’m going to refer to the 4 annoying  important towns by numbers.

  1.  My grandmother said she was born in Town #1.  All documents I have for her say she was born in Town #1.  So I went there, armed with request forms and check but WRONG.  They never heard of her
  2. Then I went up the Hudson to Town #2.   I remember my father’s frustration when he needed my mother’s birth certificate for something (it is now missing) and she wasn’t born where she always said she was, but in Town #2 instead.  I had Town #2’s form completed and their money.  No mom.  On a whim, I asked them to look for my grandmother and voilà!  There was my grandmother.
  3. I proceeded up to Town #3 where I knew that it was 100% guaranteed that my great-grandparents had died there.  WRONG. Oh and I checked for my mother, too.  No mom.
  4. And on yet another day, I continued up to Town #4 because perhaps everyone ever related to me was born, married or died there, because the names of the towns are all similar and maybe I’ll hit pay dirt.  AND I DID!.  My 2nd great-grandparents had both died there, even though all of their documents said New York City.  I was so excited.

Until I went outside and my car had been hit.

I won’t go on and on, but eventually I found almost everything I needed for 3 generations, when only 2 people actually were “supposed” to live there.

Which brings us to names.  If you ever think that someone in your future will be doing genealogy, name your kids bizarre names.

My family has basically 2 names, going back to 1500.  It’s crazy.  And I did it too. Augusta and Stephen.

One of my middle names is Augusta.  My aunt’s name is Augusta.  My grandmother’s name is Augusta.  As is her mother’s.  And her mother’s.  And the men are Augustus.  Or Stephen.  As is my son.  And uncle, and great-grandfathers.  And on and on with those two names.  For over 500 years.

Does my family have no imagination?

 

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The Oral Surgery Diet Is Working

After two years of following the Girl Scout cookie diet I have realized that no matter how hard I try, that diet just doesn’t work for me.

I recently stumbled upon the Oral Surgery Diet and it’s a charmer.  While individuals differ, for me this diet may work because the surgery is divided into parts that will be accomplished over a couple of months.  Originally, I was told it would be done in one day, in one fell swoop.  Alas, my teeth/mouth are too screwed up for that.  So it’s one visit at a time.  It could be done slightly faster, but I’m going on a cruise and don’t want to be in another country if something goes wrong.

The last day of school a couple of my friends and I went out to lunch.  We are in the same age group (50s-60s) and laughed because our conversation quickly steered to what doctor appointments we have coming up, what meds we’re now on and what our current aches and pains are.

And, of course, our weight.  The Oral Surgery Diet is really working for me.  Loss of appetite and not being able to eat almost anything that isn’t soft food is helping me to shed pounds.  But I stop short of actually recommending it to anyone.

I’m the Bionic Woman, replacing one body part at a time.  And that’s only partially tongue-in-cheek.

 

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I Am Totally Obsessed With This Song

I could listen to this 25 times a day.  Nothing in moderation for me.

Half Light by @BannersMusic.  I’m obsessed.

 

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