Sh-Boom and the end of 2014

It’s hard to believe that just a few short weeks ago I was a vagabond roaming the country depending on the kindness of strangers for a place to sleep. Of coarse a number of the people that I stayed with were not exactly strangers. Still they were kind to allow me to stay in their homes and often feed me. This year has provided me with memories that I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Living in Travelers Rest these past weeks has proven to be a continuation of the adventure that I’ve been on this year. Every where I go I talk with people and so many of them have offered a warm welcome to South Carolina. The shop owners and staff that I have met in downtown Greenville and Travelers Rest all tell me that I’ll really going to enjoy living in the upstate. The folks that I talked to on the street during the Fall for Greenville festival downtown were welcoming and friendly. They all say that the upstate is the place to be and I believe them.

State Highway 25 runs through Travelers Rest and takes me up to Interstate 26 which runs up through Asheville, NC. It has taken me there quite often these past three weeks. I have been considering joining the Land of the Sky Chorus. Within the chorus there is a small group that calls themselves Sh-Boom. I auditioned with them and have attended a couple of there rehearsals. They are an interesting group of guys. They sing Doo Wop which is a very specific style of music that was extremely popular in the 50’s and early 60’s. It has continued to survive and you can find Doo Wop groups scattered all over the country if you look for them. Through the years the Genre continues to have it’s fans and has experienced numerous revivals of sorts. I am very happy to be singing with them.

Interstate 385 runs from the downtown area of Greenville and connects with Interstate 26 taking me down to Columbia, SC. Actually it would be more accurate to say Lexington and Leesville, SC. My little sister Lu has a Leesville address and Ann Knox has a Lexington address. Ann sings in the Heart of Columbia Chorus with Lu and they have recently been singing together in a quartet. Ann and I have been spending time together getting to know each other a little bit. She is a lovely lady. We have quite a bit in common since we both love to sing Barbershop Harmony and have both lost our spouses.

I will be heading back to Indianapolis around the 18th of December. The Freeman family always tries to do a caroling event prior to Christmas each year. We go out to several homes or retirement centers/nursing homes to sing for folks that are not able to get out. Mom spearheads the event but we all make suggestions about where to go. We usually end up having deserts and hot chocolate afterwards at someone’s home. It looks like this year Ann will be coming up that weekend and will add her beautiful voice to the group.

The remainder of 2014 looks to be full of singing with quite a lot of driving and family time mixed in. I’m very happy that I will be with my daughter and two grandsons for Christmas this year.

The search continues for a job that will allow me to plug in my unique skills and still allow me lots of flexibility to go and do the things that I really want to do.

Thank you to those who expressed a desire for me to continue telling my story in this blog. Your friendship means so much to me!

Is it November already?

2014 qualifies as one of the most unique years of my life. So much has happened. So many things have changed. This time last year I was hoping for change and I can honestly say that I am not disappointed.

I really have to give props to my family because there is no way that I would have been able to do what I did this year without their help. I have an absolutely incredible supportive family for which I am so very grateful!

I’ve only been in Travelers Rest for a little over a month and I already feel at home. I am loving it. When I pull out of the driveway and drive down past the Walmart and look off into the distance at the mountains it does something inside of me. As I unload my bike from the back of my van and head down the Swamp Rabbit Trail I breath in the fresh air and enjoy the view and exercise. Before loading the bike back onto the van I always ride up through TR past the shops and businesses.

Just recently I have been driving up highway 25 to Asheville, NC to check out the Land of the Sky chorus. Within the Asheville chapter there is a Doo-Wop group called Sh Boom. I auditioned recently and will be singing with them as soon as I can get up to speed on their repertoire. It looks to be a lot of fun!

I am back in Indianapolis this week because my daughter is due to deliver my second grandson. I am anxious to hold him in my arms. His name is Kian Randall. Kian is an Irish name. It means “to unlock”. You know you have to put the Kian the door before you can get it opened.

I’m certain that Jessica will love the fact that I am the first one to make a joke about his name. Actually, I really like his name. Especially the Randall part.

The Indiana Harmony Brigade starts tomorrow. I always really enjoy participating in the IHB. I’ll spend most of the day driving around to five different High Schools as a contingency of probably 40-50 men will gather in to give the choir students a dose of Barbershop Harmony. Then around 5:00 pm the remainder of the participants will be arriving at the hotel and I’ll spend all evening singing. Love it!

I haven’t posted for awhile and I’m certain that many of you have been wondering “what’s going on with Randy”? Now you know a little more than you did. Be sure that you respond to this post so that I will know if I should continue or if it’s time to fold up the tent and retire from blogging.

As alway, thanks for reading this blog and for caring about me. It means a lot to me to have your friendship! If I don’t hear from you I’ll know it’s time to quit.



Indianapolis is nice in the summer time

Though I hadn’t really planned to spend much time in Indiana this year I have been enjoying myself. It was great that I could be here on Mothers Day and my Mom’s birthday. Since I’ve been back I’ve stayed at my daughters house, my nephews house, my Mom’s house, my sister Susan’s house and I am currently staying at Steve and Becky Clines home in Carmel. Steve sings with CCS and works for CVS as a Pharmacist. Becky is a realtor and is helping me with the sale of Valerie’s house. They are two wonderful and generous people.

I’m sitting here on the back porch enjoying Steve’s handy work. He loves to garden and I must say that he is very good at it. Their yard is like a garden, with flowers and plants thriving all around me. The birds are feasting at the feeder. There was even a bunny in the neighbors yard who sat and wiggled his nose at me for a little while. The current temperature is 68 degrees with a slight breeze. The morning fog is clearing up and today looks to be an absolutely beautiful day. If you ever plan to visit Indiana, June would be a good month to do it.

I am hoping to be a blessing to Steve & Becky while I am here. They have a few small things that I may be able to help with. Their ice maker is not working and since I know a little about things like that I should be able to help. One of the toilets has a small leak and I should be able to help with that. I’m glad to have the opportunity to help them. They have helped many people over the years.

On Wednesday morning next week I’ll be leaving for Vegas to attend the International BHS Convention and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been reaching out to friends from several states to ask about sharing a meal with me in Vegas. I hope to never have to eat alone while I’m there. I have been very fortunate to have met some pretty incredible people.

Since loosing Valerie in 2011 I have had to adjust to a “new normal”. I would say that I have done a good job of adapting. There have been many days where I have felt that I have been cheated. It’s an unpleasant feeling! I resist the feelings of anger and frustration that sometimes come in waves. I remind myself that I am experiencing the same things that all other people experience at some point in their lives. All people experience loss and have to create a new normal for themselves. Loss is just a part of being alive.

Thank you to all the people who have listened to me and have loved me and who continue to support me. I appreciate your friendship! Thank you to all of you who have been following this blog. It means a lot to me that you would do that!

Making decisions

So far this blog has been pretty much like a journal documenting where I’ve been and who I’ve met. I’ve talked about my travels, the states that I’ve visited, the wonderful hosts that were so kind to bring me into their homes, the choruses that I visited and a few obstacles that I encountered along the way. Now I want to talk about the effect that these experiences have had on me.

It is more clear to me than ever before that I am alone. I don’t have to ask anyone before making a decision. During the years that I was married to Janet when it was time to make a decision we discussed things. Every decision that I made was based upon how it was going to affect her and the children. She is no longer directly affected by my decisions so I no longer have to make those considerations. My children are grown and on their own now so my decisions no longer have the same impact on them. They are out making their own decisions now.

During the time that I was married to Valerie every decision that I made was based upon how it would affect her. When it was time to make an important decision we talked about it and came to a conclusion that we both could live with. I no longer need to make decisions based upon how it will affect her. (though I wish that I did).

I recognize that my decisions still have an impact on those who love me but It is different now. There is a different kind of connection and a different kind of responsibility owed to them. I will always endeavor to be a good father, grandpa, son, brother and friend but I owe a different type of commitment to fulfill those roles.

I believe that the events of the past four months have helped me to make some important decisions about what I should be doing with the rest of my life. I feel confident that attending Harmony University in Nashville, Tennessee in August and receiving some training as a director is the right decision. I am feeling more confident by the day that the decision to relocate to North Carolina is the right choice for me. I know that a select few are not too happy about it but they will survive. It’s not like I will never be in Indiana again. I will visit as often as I can.

As with every decision that I have made in my life I reserve the right to change my mind. I have been very pleased with my decision to travel this year. It has helped me understand that I don’t have to be lonely in my aloneness. I have been a benefactor of the kindness offered by gracious and generous people who are part of a wonderful family of Barbershoppers.

I am confident that I will be well received in North Carolina. I am optimistic that there is some lovely lady who might enjoy my company. Of course that could be said about most any place I might go as there are many lovely ladies out there.

I have been able to accomplish several things since being back in Indy. Selling the Chevy van and the trailer was at the top of the list and I’m so pleased to say that they have both been sold. Getting Valerie’s house listed for sale is another primary concern. Things are moving in the right direction on that front now thanks to Becky Cline.

It can be a very difficult place to be in when you know that you have important decisions that need to be made. Although a lot of work may come as a result of making a decision it is often easier simply because the decision has been made. There is a certain pressure that is alleviated. Now it’s time to get busy making the changes happen.

My travels are not over just yet. As I head out to Las Vegas I will still be watching, listening and gathering information that may just prove to be very useful. There are still some important decisions ahead.

Stay tuned.

Back to Indianapolis for a while

99 days
8,248 miles
33 choruses
19 hosts

I guess that you could call that an adventure. For those of you who have been following me, thank you!

I found it necessary to return to Indianapolis to take care of a few pressing matters. After receiving a phone call from the tenant living in my condo on the south side of Indy I contacted a heating/air conditioning company and arranged for some repair work to be done. Certainly glad that I took the time to get three different estimates. The third company came recommended to me by my brother David and was much more reasonably priced. Thank you David!

I departed Connecticut on Friday morning May 9th and arrived back in Indianapolis on Saturday, May 10th. Mom was pretty happy to see me on Mothers Day. My daughter was pretty happy to see me too. I stayed at my daughter’s house for a week and have been at my nephew’s house the past few nights. Looks like I will be here in Indy until after the CCS annual show on June 14th, then I will resume my travels heading out to Las Vegas for the International Barbershop Convention. I’ll have over two weeks to get there so I hope to visit several more chapters along the way.

Spring is in full bloom and summer will be here soon. The trees are heavy with green and flowers are everywhere. This is the time to visit Indiana. I’ll be back again in November. My daughter Jessica is due to deliver her baby in early November. The IHB should be a lot of fun. I just spoke to my brother Michael and it looks like I will be going to Niger, Africa the last of November. David, Mike and I should be departing on the 22nd.

My cousin, Gary Freeman, and his wife Joy have been serving as missionaries in Africa for many years. We have had a standing invitation to visit for a long time now. Looks like it’s finally gonna happen. Most of you know that Mike, David and I sang as a gospel trio for a number of years. We had a pretty good repertoire at one time but we haven’t been singing together for a long time. It will be interesting to see how we have changed and how we will handle learning several new songs. We’ll need to learn at least two or three in a foreign language so that we’ll be able to connect with our new audience in Africa.

Even though I was only gone 99 days it seems so strange to be back in Indy. Things here are pretty much the same but something inside of me has changed. I have made some decisions over the past few weeks that I am certain will change the coarse of my future. Every time I think about moving back into my condo on Wildcat Drive I get an uneasy feeling. I have decided to head back down to North Carolina after completing Harmony University in early August. I will start the search for the following three things; a job, an apartment and a room-mate. As soon as I have those three things secured I will return to Indy to clear out my storage unit and head back south.

Connecticut, Massachusetts & Rhode Island [8 nights with the Fontaines]

After my visit with “The Brothers in Harmony” in Hamilton Square, New Jersey I drove to Tolland, Connecticut where I was hosted by Dan Fontaine and his wife Lena. Their daughter Adison was still at home but her brother Bailey was away at college so I slept in his room. They had three large black dogs that were pretty friendly, except for Hanna, who wasn’t too happy to have me hanging around. She would growl at me with a menacing deep throated growl. She never became aggressive but she did let me know that she had her doubts about me. By my last day there she was starting to get used to me. I wouldn’t say that she was starting to like me, just getting used to me.

It was very kind and generous of Dan & Lena to host me for eight nights. Dan even took some time off from work and we had a great time together. He arranged for us to visit five different chapters while I was there and took me to all five chapters in his new Audi. I loved it!

On Friday night, May 5th, I went with Dan & Lena to Cassidy Hill Winery which was not too far from their home. They have a lovely house tucked back in the hills of Connecticut. It sits on 6 wooded acres with a 1/4 mile driveway up to the house. It was homey and comfortable. I felt very welcomed there.

On Saturday night, the 6th, Dan & Lena took me to the Bushnell Theater in Hartford to attend The Connecticut Forum. That night the Forum was entitled “Nerd Fest-Why Nerds Rule the World”. The moderator was John Moe, host of NPR’s “Wits”. The three person panel consisted of Chuck Klosterman, author, Adam Savage, host of the hit show “Mythbusters” and Aisha Tyler, Comedian and T.V. Star. It was a very cool experience for me. I had never attended that type of event before. I found it to be very thought provoking and enjoyable. Something that I would like to do again soon.

As Dan and I visited each chapter we had a unique experience each time. The first chapter that we visited was “Vocal Revolution” in Concord, Massachusetts and they were working with a visual coach. Her name was Erica Spiers. Their visual presentation improved as soon as she stood in front of the chorus.

We visited Dan’s chorus (The Silk City Chorus) in Manchester, Connecticut on Monday night. They had recently presented a very entertaining show. The theme of the show had all the guys dressed as Pirates and featured songs that supported that theme. It went over so well that they are taking it on the road to other venues. I really enjoyed meeting the guys and could tell why the show had been so well received. They sang well and were having a great time together and the lyrics to some of their songs were clever and funny.

We visited “The Mad Hatters” in Danbury on Tuesday, the “Connecticut Yankee Chorus” in Wallingford on Wednesday and “The Narragansett Bay Chorus” in N. Providence, Rhode Island on Thursday.

I want to say Thank You to the Fontaines for being such gracious hosts to me for eight nights. Your kindness will not be forgotten!

When I met Dan last September in Marlborough, Massachusetts I felt like I had met someone who would be a friend for life. I certainly hope that is the case. I hope to be able to return their kindness some day by hosting them.

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