Tuesday, July 30, 2013

#SaveOurDrumlines!

A few weeks ago, our school board and interim superintendent decided, in a cost cutting measure, not to replace two departing percussion instructors in our local high school band programs. They obviously did not truly realize the power of one of the most determined breeds of parents on the planet:  BAND PARENTS.

When the decision was first made, I have to admit that I thought that was the end of it. My first reaction was to try to figure out a way to make money so that the existing directors could at least hire some part time clinicians or even a bright graduate student. Anything to keep this program alive. I decided to donate the profits for the last two weeks of July from sales of my art at a local gift and consignment shop, The Cricket Box, to the cause. A former band kid myself, I knew how important this was. Not only to the bands, but the schools and the community as a whole.

What I did not expect was the number of new friends I would make during this process. In order to get the word out, I became Facebook friends with several people that I had heard of, but did not know personally. I have enjoyed getting to know these folks and hope to meet face to face soon. These are dynamic, interesting women who get things done.

With some determination, unification, and plain hard work, these band parents helped get the decision to eliminate the percussion positions reversed. The percussion units will have their directors, scholarships will be saved, and these band kids got a lesson in the importance of fighting for what they believe in.

As for the sale, we no longer need to #SaveOurDrumlines! The money raised will be divided equally between the band booster organizations of both schools.

Band parents rule!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Handicapped Spaces

This is a follow-up to a Facebook post I made recently about my frustration at not being able to park at one of our local hospital campuses. I went to check on my loved one and was unable to get a space in the front of the building. There was only one sign, NO blue lines, and the wheelchairs had been painted over with black paint.

A sign touted handicapped parking in the back of the building, so I drove around. I parked, got my walker out of the backseat (my scooter in the the rear of my van), and went to the door. Locked! A kind nurse's aide went to another door. That was locked as well. Unable to get my mobility devices out of my van in a "normal" space, I left in frustration.

So, this morning I went to the main campus of the hospital and spoke to a lovely man by the name of Johnny Reynolds, who is the patient representative. I began by telling him several of the positive things my husband and I had experienced at River Region (yes, there were many!). Then, I approached him about the parking problem. He agreed that it was unacceptable for handicapped individuals not being able to access ill loved ones and agreed to talk to the hospital administrator about it. He promised to follow up with a call.

A few minutes later, as I was visiting my relative (who had become so ill she required a transfer to acute care), the call did come in. The story is that there is handicapped parking in front, but there was no signage or easily visible markings. This situation is supposed to be remedied in the near future. Also, we discussed a bell or buzzer and camera for the back door so that security could "buzz" in disabled visitors. These all sound like good ideas.

I will be watching to see if action follows. Stay tuned!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Anxiety

I can't believe I am awake at 12:35 AM fretting about a doctor appointment that does not occur until August 1. 

My long term neuromuscular doc left University Medical Center. We had a great relationship and I did not mind going to see her. But, my new doc is taking getting used to. His nurse has yelled at me and made me cry. 

Seriously. 

My new doc wanted me to lose weight before I came back. I was doing well till Bill was diagnosed with cancer. Food choices for me at the hospital were extremely limited. Yes, they had low fat yogurt...with strawberries. Anaphylaxis anyone? I have since gotten back on track, but I don't know if I can lose enough in the next 2 1/2 weeks to show the kind of progress he is expecting. 

Another concern is that I think he is going to take me off the steroids that have given me a greatly improved quality of life for the past 12 years. I know there are downsides to these, but I will take quality of life over quantity any day. He wants to put me on a stimulant that I have tried before. I did not like the way I felt on this drug. It made my reflux worse, caused sleeplessness ( like I need more of that!) and just made me jittery. 

Neuromuscular doctors are in short supply. The one I see is the only one I know of in Central Mississippi. I hate feeling like I have no choice. 

I know I have to get a handle on this. Explore and see if do have any options. If not, I have to find some effective way to deal with this situation. 

Wish me luck. 

Monday, July 08, 2013

Memories of a Band Kid

Little did I know when I passed the test making me eligible to take band in 6th grade, how far that clarinet would take me, both in music and in life. 

The first time the tiny band at Warrenton Elementary played a "tune" that actually sounded like something was one of the coolest moments I can remember. I was part of that tune and boy was I proud!

At Warren Central in 8th grade, I was a part of a much larger band. All of the 8th graders from all of the elementary schools, playing tunes together. This was even more cool and I was even more proud! 

That Spring, I tried out for "Big Blue" the nickname of the award winning High School band. I remember receiving my acceptance letter in the mail and screaming for joy when I found out I had "made it."

The first time I sat in the band hall and played with all the band kids from 9th through 12th grades, I was completely blown away. I was one of hundreds of kids, playing the same tune. Proud does not even begin to describe the feeling I had that day. I was completely blown away.

Band taught me lessons that helped in other areas of music. I was also a "choir kid" and I could count and sight read better than many of my choir peers, thanks to having taken band for three years prior to joining choir.

Most of all, however, being in band taught me life lessons that are still with me today. Be punctual. Respect others. Be part of the team. Work hard. Don't make excuses. Together, we could do anything. If we failed classes, we could lose our opportunity to play in the band until we pulled our grades up. And, if we got into real trouble, we could be kicked out of band for good. Very few band kids were willing to risk that.

I received a full tuition scholarship to Hinds by being in the band. Finances were tight and that scholarship helped me and my family. When I got to Mississippi College, health concerns and time restraints finally made me put my clarinet in its case for good.

When administrations decide not to fund band (all arts really!) programs, I have to wonder if they are truly counting the costs. They may save money in the short term, but what are they sacrificing long term?

Is it worth it?







Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Independence Day

I have always enjoyed American History. But, until I visited Philadelphia, Pennsylvania recently, it had never really "come to life" for me. 

Something about seeing the place where the signing of the Declaration of Independence occurred held me in thrall. As I caressed the landing outside the doorway into the signing room, I could not help but wonder at the thought of our Founding Fathers resting their hands there.


We take so much for granted these days. It is easy to look at the pristine portraits of the time, not really understanding the risks the signers took when they put their names on this historic document. Richard Stockton of New Jersey was imprisoned and the damage to his health hastened his early death at age 50. William Hooper of North Carolina contracted malaria while on the run from British troops which destroyed his health for the rest of his short 48 years. Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge, and Thomas Heyward of South Carolina were imprisoned, leaving families having to beg for help from friends. George Walton of Georgia was captured by the British after being shot and was held for years.

The signers not only put themselves at risk, but their families as well. Francis Hopkins' (New York) wife was 60 years old when imprisoned for 2 years in primitive conditions during the War. Abraham Clark's (New York) sons were imprisoned. Signers families often had to move frequently to avoid capture.

Most signers had property damaged and destroyed, and many were financially ruined, such as Thomas Nelson, Jr. (Virginia), from using their own funds to support the war effort.

So, this 4th of July, take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence. Better yet, check out this book and learn more about the signers for yourself.