Monday, September 19, 2011


I read my horoscope on a regular basis. Don't you? It is a confirmation of being alive, of having a life and stuff happening. I choose to believe only the parts I like, however. I disqualify everything else. When the horoscoper tells me to 'go have fun' or 'save your energy' I try to keep those suggestions in mind. When it says 'A wonderful future is coming your way' I expect it is absolutely true!

I don't usually read just any old horoscope; I read one specific to Pisces (that's two fish swimming in opposite directions) - because it includes the date I was born. (In the Chinese horoscope calendar, I am a Monkey - nobody is surprised.) A horoscope appeared in my newpaper daily, except on Sunday - when there was no newspaper delivery. But, I let my subscription expire and weaning off a daily horoscope was not easy! Could having no horoscope mean the end of my being alive, having a life and stuff happening - then who'd bake cookies, write stories, or laugh at my jokes if I wasn't here to love and care about you?

Aha! I found a magazine with a seasonal review of what the stars have in store. Maybe this will fill my horoscope gap: Someone special may enter my life in September. My work related matters will improve in November. I have good odds for winning a 'big ticket item' in October - and I certainly hope it is one of those really huge lotteries. (I must remember to buy a ticket!) Huge amounts of money to spare will fill in all my gaps nicely, thank you.

Meantime, I plan to enjoy this autumn - my favorite time of year. Although green is my most favorite color, the yellow, orange and reds of autumn are a pleasure to my eyes. This is a beautiful time to see the landscape colors changing, to gather nuts, bite into an apple, smell a pecan pie baking and taste the vegetable garden in a bowl of Tortolini Soup.

Whether you read your horoscope or not, I hope the stars have all good things in store for you: A wonderful future, good health, ambition, romance, money and self esteem, good fortune and a few welcome surprises. Don't forget to smile and keep on dancing...

Apples mellow, pumpkins yellow
tell the time of year;
Nuts are falling, nature's calling
Autumn Time is Here.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


During the past six weeks, since his collapse and heart attack, our family members keep Roy in our thoughts and prayers. Each of us has heartwarming, funny or thought-provoking stories to tell about Roy. Now is a good time to write them down to share with one another. So, Roy D. the younger, starts us thinking with this recollection of Roy D., the elder:


I always think of my Uncle Roy as a musician. He is, of course, many other things as well; a multi-faceted person if there ever was one, but my earliest memories of him are of him plyaing that large cello-shaped electric arch-top guitar, and the sound that came from the wonderful box that lit up with glowing vacuum tubes in the back of it - called an amplifier. Uncle Roy plays very expressively. His foot taps, his head bobs and his expression changes at the turn of a pretty sounding chord.

We always had some kind of musical instrument at (my) home, be it a keyboard or a mandolin or a ukelele or some other guitar-like thing. I used to pick out little melodies and chords - just sort of 'trial and error.'

Then when I was around ten years old, my mother, who was a bookkeeper for Lyon and Healy in Chicago brought me home a three-quarter size acoustic guitar and a "How to play the Guitar" course that had written material and phonograph records. After that, I spent a lot of time with my guitar and a phonograph trying to play what was on the records. Every time we went to visit Uncle Roy, I brought my guitar.

By the time I started 7th grade I was taking guitar lessons at "Burke's Music" in Wheaton, Illinois - where I gave lessons many years later. Burke's music was a short walk from the train station and my friend Alex and I were allowed, once a week on Saturdays, to take the train into Wheaton for our lessons.

We were the cats! Getting on and off the train with our guitar cases and walking to and from the music store that was full of musicians, some of them pros, listening to the stories they told and looking at the instruments they had for sale in the store - all against a background of tuning, playing and little bits of songs that came from the lesson rooms. At the time, I wanted to learn to play everything the Beatles ever did - which was a good thing because, in their career, the Beatles covered nearly every style of music you can think of.

At around that time, my mom and dad gave me the sheet music to the Erroll Garner song Misty and said to me, "If you really want to be a musician, learn to play this one!" Misty was written in the key of E-flat and was full of lush sounding jazz chords with names like "E-flat-major-seventh" and "A-flat-seventh-flat-nine," about which I had no idea. So the next time we went to visit Uncle Roy, I brought the sheet music to Misty and my guitar in hopes that he could show me how to play it. Of course, Uncle Roy knew how to play Misty, which is one of the 'standards,' that is to say, a well-written song that has been played and recorded by a great many artists over a long period of time.

Uncle Roy showed me how to make all those complex chords in the song that I eventually learned to play, and that opened up my ears and the guitar neck to more things than I can name. Uncle Roy has always taken the time to show me something whenever I asked him. "How did you do that?" - and those times were many.

Another valuable lesson I learned from Uncle Roy is that a good player is easy to play with - and always makes the other guy sound good. So, I still bring my guitar whenever I visit Uncle Roy. He makes me sound better than I am.

* * *
Roy and Uncle Roy have provided musical entertainment, sing-alongs, dance tempo, classic solos and listening pleasure for the entire family at the annual Thatcher Family Reunions every August since 1983 - that's 29 reunions!
And the beat goes on... Thanks for the memories... I could have danced all night...
Whether e-mail or snail-mail, send me your "Uncle Roy" story.
I'd like to read it - We all want to read it!

Thursday, September 8, 2011


Three little words: Hello my friend. You're looking good.

Remember the olden days when people spoke and wrote in full sentences? If I can remember and you cannot, either I am much older than you are or the world is spinning much faster these days. Here's my view:

I was watching Good Morning America on television this morning where they have invited the audience to express themselves in just three words... And they did... from 'I love you' to 'Go to Hell.' This is fun! (that's my 3 word comment on three word comments... for the moment... as it were... ).

Everyone recognizes that time is valuable. Yet, I wonder what is being gained or lost by the new conservation of words. How is the time gained being used? What are people doing with all those left-over words? Time is precious. Words are valuable. Time is money. Words are treasures. It is best to value time and words carefully.

It was almost a year ago when I spoke before a group of adults, encouraging them to write their thoughts and life stories for posterity. I insisted their life's course and their own interpretation of those times were valuable to their children and to subsequent generations. Because writing an autobiography is an overwhelming idea to most people, I encouraged them to write brief stories on simple subjects - favorite color, toy, sport, teacher, place, person, event... even as 6-word stories. They might have been even more receptive to 3-word stories. I was there. Blue is beautiful. Dolls could talk. War was hell.

It was just a few years ago when writing a story in six words was at its popular peak. It is rumored to have begun when attention was focused on Ernest Hemingway's, "For sale, Baby shoes, Never worn." Six-word stories became writing assignments; they showed up in newspapers and magazines. At least one book of 6-word stories was published. Six words seemed to be as brief as a story could get - until now. Here we go. Write it down. Get it done.

Journalists conserve words. They have presented information briefly and adequately since the invention of the printing press: who, what where, when, why - Just the facts, ma'am. Authors use lots of words. So, where do all the extra words go? To authors! People like Shakespeare or Chaucer immersed themselves in effusive wordiness. Writers like Tolstoy or J. K. Rowling lavishly expend words in lengthy books like War and Peace or the Harry Potter series. Books require words. Words require thought. Thought requires words. We've come full circle.

How much time, awareness, money, influence or brainpower would we gain or lose if all stories were in a 3-word format? Words are powerful. Read a book. Tell a story. Write a letter. Text a friend. Live your dream. Share your experience. Go with God. I love you.

Your thoughts are...? Let me know. That's all folks.