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.

Keeping it straight

Since my last post I’ve been a busy boy. I really enjoyed my visit to the Alexandria Harmonizers and walking around Old Town Alexandria. My host was very gracious and allowed me to stay two nights. I stayed Tuesday and Wednesday nights (April 22nd & 23rd) in Oxon, which is just outside of Alexandria. I headed to Annapolis to visit The Sons of the Severn Chorus on Thursday, April 25th.

I didn’t have a confirmed place to stay that night but I really wanted to see Annapolis so I headed out and spent the day wondering the streets. The “Sons” were warm & welcoming and before the rehearsal was over one of the men offered to let me stay with him. He lives in Bethesda, MD about 50 minutes from Annapolis. He and his wife (Marge) also allowed me to stay two nights and offered to let me stay longer if I needed to. They are wonderful people and were very kind to me.

On Friday morning Marge offered to take me to the subway station so that I could go into DC for the day. I took the red line and spent the day on the mall. It was crowded with lots of buses and kids running every where.

On Saturday morning, April 26th, I left Bethesda and headed to Louisa, Virginia to attend a performance of “Soundworks” at the Louisa Arts Center. It took about two hours to drive down. I stopped at a McDonalds on the way and googled “Hotels in Louisa, Va”. There were no hotels in Louisa so I checked to see if they might have a Bed & Breakfast. I found a place called The Whistle Stop. You would never be able to guess why it was called “Whistle Stop”. That’s right, it was at an intersection where a train passed by. The whistle sounded around 11:30 pm and then again around 5:20 am. The train came within about 50 yards of the house. Lying in bed I could feel the vibration of the tracks.

At breakfast on Sunday morning I met three sisters. Tori was the sister who lived there in Louisa. She was receiving her 10 year chip from A.A. Her sisters Teri and Tami had come to support her and celebrate with her. Her daughter Becky was also there at the breakfast table. I really enjoyed meeting them and chatting with them over breakfast. They were delightfully interesting.

That afternoon I drove to Penns Grove, NJ and stayed at a Comfort Inn. On Monday night, April 28th, I attended the rehearsal for The Chorus of the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware. After the rehearsal I followed my host to his home in Newark, Delaware. I really enjoyed meeting Neil and his sweetheart Dottie. I stayed with them Monday and Tuesday nights. Neil is a dual member of both the Chorus of the Brandywine in Wilmington, DE and the Chorus of the Chesapeake in Dundalk, MD. I was pleased to learn that the Dundalk chorus was going on a secret bus ride Tuesday evening to visit another chorus. It turned out that they visited “The Peninsulaires” in Salsibury, MD.

On the bus ride to Salisbury one of the guys got to talking with me about attending a rehearsal of The Brothers in Harmony Chorus in Hamilton Square, NJ. I told him that I was planning to head north to Connecticut and he said that it would be on my way. He made contact with someone from The Brothers and the next morning I received a call from Jeff Winik offering to let me stay at his home. Jeff is in the 2014 Seniors Quartet that won Gold at Mid-winter this year. His quartets name is “Faces 4 Radio”.

I arrived in Kendall Park, NJ at Jeff’s home about 5:00 pm Wednesday, April 30th, and we went to dinner before heading to the rehearsal of the Brothers. It felt a lot like being at a Circle City Sound rehearsal. They had a very similar sound to CCS. Their director has a very different style but it was obvious to me that he had a similar kind of connection to the chorus like Garry has. I really enjoyed their rehearsal and was a little disappointed to find out that they didn’t have an afterglow. Jeff said that they have a lot of guys who travel over an hour to get to rehearsal.

On Thursday, May 1st, I drove up through New York City on my way to Connecticut. I arrived at the home of Dan Fontaine at 5:00 pm. I met Dan in Marlborough, Mass. last September when I attended the NEHB (New England Harmony Brigade). When I met Dan I was really impressed with his voice and his humility. For someone who is so extremely talented and sings so incredibly well he is really down to earth. After meeting his wife, Lena, I couldn’t help but wonder why the dorky looking guys always seem to end up with the beautiful women. He definitely married up.

Honestly, I don’t think that Dan is really dorky looking, he just reminds me of Pee Wee Herman, if you like that kind of look.

Thursday evening Dan and I drove up to Concord, Massachusetts and visited the “Vocal Revolution Chorus”. They were having a coaching session with Erica Spyres. She was working with them on visual presentation. The visual presentation improved the minute she walked into the room.

So this week I visited five different choruses and was also in six different states. Only in the North East could you do that. I found it difficult to remember what state I was in and what day it was. It will be refreshing to be able to sleep in the same bed for the next several days. Dan and Lena have offered to let me stay with them until their son, Bailey, comes home from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Illinois.

I should be able to keep things straight in my mind now that I have a home base for awhile. Thank you to Dan and Lena for hosting me and for being so kind!