Music Colors My Life!

Musical notes, beats, rests, keys, sharps, flats, major, minor, staff, treble clef, bass clef, rhythms, voices, moods, time signatures, adagio, allegro, forte, chant, chamber, carols, classical, dynamics, fermata, leitmotifs, sonata, staff, concerto, tones, voices – all this and more characterize the varied forms music contains.

When I studied classical piano for 12+ years and in college, I immersed myself in the language of the soul: music.  It is the true international language which comforts, soothes and lifts us up the spirit.  A lifetime of music still reveals its many facets to me.  Probably the more difficult forms for me to listen to still would be the 12 tone music of Arnold Schönberg and the more modern techno music.  However, instead of majoring in music in college, I chose German as my major focus and studied in Germany.  I did not leave my music behind though and continued as a music director in several churches as well as piano playing at home.

These days I practice choral singing with the Syracuse Chorale, the Pops with Symphoria and the Berkshire Choral International. I’ve had the delight of making new friends from around the world as I continue my music adventure.  New experiences await me around the corner.  Never a dull moment along the music path of life either.  What fun and joy await those who choose to participate!  Happy New Year and may 2019 find your lives enriched with newly-faceted colors!

Posted in Berkshire Choral International, classical music, Happy New Year 2019, music composer, Symphoria, Syracuse Chorale, Syracuse Pops Chorus, Teaching, teaching German | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

Max Predicts a White Christmas

My blog this week features guest writer, Jerry Melvin, my former School Superintendent with the North Syracuse Schools in Upstate New York. He wrote weekly columns in the local newspaper under the byline Superintendent’s Report.  Thank you, Jerry.  Merry Christmas to all.  Hope it’s a white one.

 Weather-telling Dog Prepares for Penn State

A few weeks ago, in discussing my failure to accurately predict the weather this past winter, I wrote that one of our parents had gotten my attention when he wanted to know if Max, our very small miniature schnauzer, was calling weather shots.

He might as well have. I concluded the column by stating that Max would be off to Penn State in the fall to study meteorology.

Since then, I received some calls from folks who wanted to know how Max got to Penn State without any formal high school program. Reluctantly, I must admit that Max has been home-bound for some time, working one-on-one with a very patient tutor.  Max has embarrassed himself and his family on a number of occasions due to his inability to follow proper training standards.  In other words, Max does not always act s one would expect from such a talented canine when it comes to being house-broken.

My wife has a bag full of alibis to explain Max’s many indiscretions. She argues that one year he was taught by a teacher who emphasized phonics and the next year, he was moved into whole language.  She also reminds me that he was placed in a heterogeneous class when he was very young, but eh next year his school adopted homogeneous grouping.  She won’t let me forget that he was enrolled in one school that allowed social promotion, but the next year, the school adopted a strong retention policy.

I keep replying that the research changes from time to time, but she doesn’t want to hear any of this.

To be truthful, she’s not happy that Max will be off to Penn State in September, but I told her Pa Joe can always use a wide receiver. The problem with Max is that once he catches the ball, he doesn’t give it back and just keeps running.

She fears that Max will be lonely. I suggested that maybe we can get a scholarship for his nephew, Alex, a venerable blue point Siamese cat.  According to her, she read somewhere that one college even gave a scholarship to a sibling just to entice the star player they were after.  I couldn’t imagine anything like that.  But if that’s true, would they offer a scholarship to a nephew?

Max is really getting excited about going to State College. In fact, every night when Dave Eichorn comes on, he focuses on the Doppler and appears to understand its real value, whatever that might be.


by Jerry Melvin aka Dr. Jerome F. Melvin, Superintendent of Schools

Posted in Doppler weather, guest blogger Dr. Jerry Melvin, Penn State, Schnauzer Max, School Superintendent, tv weatherman, weather and school closings | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A Squirrel Tale

Each year at Halloween, we
place a real pumpkin on
the front step. When It first
started, I took the broom to
the front step to sweep the
seeds left behind by Mr. Squirrel.

Vowing to take charge, I purchased
a giant plastic pumpkin which had
an electric light inside. No sign of
Mr. Squirrel that year or in
subsequent years until this
year once more. A visit.

Seeds and a messy front
step again. Why our step?
Why just our pumpkin?
The other pumpkins in
the neighborhood were
left untouched annually.

My husband decided to
move the pumpkin with
the large hole to the
backyard where it
can be consumed and
the seeds left. Another visit.

What will we do next year?
Probably back to the plastic
pumpkin lit by a light bulb.
Upon close inspection, I
have noticed Mr. Squirrel’s
handiwork with real pumpkins.

Posted in pumpkin, squirrel tale | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

Nurse Emily to the Rescue!

A registered nurse involves more than having credentials or a job title. It is a profession and a lifestyle. One clocks out at the end of a shift. Having the ability to care for others becomes second nature and is instilled inside and never ceases. As a spiritual individual, I always hold in my mind “do unto others as you would want done unto you.”

On a cold weekend evening, my significant other and I went out to eat at a nice place. Having raved about the restaurant a few times, I was excited to show him this new spot. Since there was a bit of a wait, we decided to sit at the bar where service would be quicker, and the food would be just as enjoyable. Couples came and went and as we were nearing the end of our meal, I suddenly heard a loud thud and a woman screamed a few bar stools down from us. When I looked over, I realized that a man had fallen from the stool and was lying face down on the restaurant floor. In this moment I realized that I was in the right place at the right time. I have thought of similar scenarios so many times in my head before. It ultimately is part of the self-reflecting process that comes with the nursing profession. Feeling the adrenaline rush as if I were in my first code blue at work, I ran over to the man and with assistance from another gentleman, turned the man over to assess his breathing and pulse. Once we turned him over, his eyes shot wide open and the man sat up and proceeded to jump to his feet. We then assisted the man back onto the bar stool. He had a gash to his forehead that continued to bleed. To stem the bleeding, I applied napkins, and the bartenders generously provided me with more. I introduced myself to this man and his significant other stating “I am a nurse.” As I did this, another gentleman who happened to be a doctor came over. We assessed the individual together and agreed, it would be best to phone for an ambulance to take the man to the hospital for further evaluation. After all was said and done, the man stated he “choked on some pizza that was too spicy” and told me “I should’ve stuck with the pasta dish!” Needless to say, he was going to be just fine and could enjoy many more pasta dishes going forward.

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12 ESV).

As I went to the restroom to wash my hands, I felt a sense of comfort knowing others responded as quickly as I did. The adrenaline rush began to subside, and, in this moment, I felt blessed that I was a nurse. I was able to show my passion of caring for others outside of the hospital setting. It is the concept of time that encompassed the entire event. Being in the right place at the right time in order to help someone else have more time.

Written by guest blogger, Emily Nemecek, R.N. who just happens to be my angel daughter. We are proud of you, Emily.

Posted in I Am A Nurse, Registered Nurse, saving a life | Tagged , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Advent Season in Germany

A time of hope, anticipation.

Crisp air outdoors. Candles,

lights, wreaths abound. Advent

calendars to count down.


Small surprises, sweets

behind the tiny doors.

Shouts of glee at the

prizes in little hands.

Smells of fir boughs,

pinecones, gingerbread

houses, baked goodies.

Traditions and rituals.


My classroom desk in

Germany held wonderment

as I walked in. An Advent

wreath with a lit candle.


Thirty faces watched me

as I reacted in surprise and

expressed thanks to all

the smiling faces.

How different it was this

Fulbright Year of teaching

in Germany. Still years later

our lives forever changed.


Moonlit walks on snowy

December nights through the

tiny village in Germany.

Outdoor Christmas markets


adorn towns with sights,

smells, sounds of Christmas

music. Rich traditions and

new cultural experiences.

One shoe outside the door

awaiting the visit of Nikolaus

to fill it with candy and fruit.

A revered day – December 6.


The Christ Child visits on

Christmas eve when families

gather to exchange their gifts.

Church services at midnight.


There is much to be said

for sacred family time and

celebrations. Stores closed on

Sundays, holidays. These

days remain in our hearts

and minds to be forever

treasured and shared in

future shared holidays.


We love the old fashioned

Christmas when people

take time to value one another

and share their love.



















Posted in Advent Wreath, Advent, Nikolaus, customs, Germany, traditions, cultures, Fulbright Exchange | 22 Comments

Expressing Gratitude to a Stranger in Germany

As a temporarily-single-parent during my first Fulbright Exchange Teacher Abroad year in Neresheim, Germany, it was often challenging especially when the children were ill. It was only on the way home up an icy hill outside the village did I realize that the roads were untreated.

On this cold November afternoon with dusk approaching, I noticed cars off the road and people standing and watching as I continued my drive up the hill. While I thought it odd, I never put two and two together that I was driving on ice. As I approached the top of the hill, I glanced to my right to the monastery and tiny chapel and said a quick prayer that we get home safely.

Suddenly, my car made no further progress as I attempted to drive. Fog and mist froze quickly on the road. After applying the brakes, my mind tried to weigh my options. Back down the hill to the village and try to stay overnight there? Try to pull off to the side as the other cars had done?

Having decided to back down the hill, I slammed on the brakes as I saw a man in my rear view mirror. What if I had hit him in my attempt? The stranger came to the driver’s window, and I quickly explained in German that the children were both sick. After seeing the Dr. and picking up medicine, I was trying to get home to another village, Schweindorf, where we lived.

This perfect stranger and my earthly angel came out of nowhere and told me to drive on. He pushed as I drove slowly up the final distance to the top of the hill. As I tried to stop and thank him, he motion me onward and told me to drive and not stop. I shouted Danke out the window and arrived home safely. In good weather, the drive was only ten minutes. On this day, it took almost one hour.

Today, I want to personally express my gratitude for helping us in our hour of need. I have never forgotten him and his random act of kindness. I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving and gratitude for people like this man in our lives. Thank you, kind sir. Forever grateful!

Posted in Fulbright Teacher in Neresheim, Germany, Gratitude to a Stranger in Germany, ice storm, Schweindorf | Tagged , , , , , | 31 Comments


The sheer quiet beauty and peacefulness

of that first snowfall blanketing the earth

tugs at my heartstrings. Kids bundled up

play in the cold white landscape.

The kid inside me longs for those

Massachusetts childhood days of

sledding and building snowmen

and yielding to the warm fireplace

and hot chocolate our mother made

us after we came inside to board

games, Authors and Old Maid card

games. How lucky we were to be

ensconced with Mom on those days.

Carefree play outdoors no matter

the weather. Red cheeks, cold noses

and fingers brought us indoors.

The reality now is that I wish to remain

indoors and not face the elements

or drive even if I could plow through

the two feet at the end of the driveway.

Allowing the child in me to be in awe

of nature’s beauty, I gaze at the

white outdoor amusement park.  Now

let me find my sled, gloves, hat and boots!

Posted in sledding, snow day - no school, white landscape | Tagged , , , , , | 40 Comments