Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Kid likes country music

One day when I was a kid, I remember Gumpy tried to talk me into listening to more country and Western music.  He loved it, listening to it on the transistor radio mounted to the right rear fender of his tractor.  I think I was in my hair metal phase at this point, and I certainly wasn't about to give up Whitesnake for Willie Nelson.

He told me that my Uncle Jim discovered that studying to country and Western was easier because you didn't have to think so hard through the sound.  You could just focus on a few sounds and easy lyrics.  At the time, I had trouble believing that.  I'm pretty sure Jim did listen to the genre, I just had trouble thinking it could help anyone study.

I learned to stomach some country, mostly because my mom loved listening to her Randy Travis tape on our trips to Traverse City but I never liked enough of it to call myself a fan or even an occasional listener.  Heck, I'm listening to the Digitally Imported minimal channel while I'm writing this, so it is a stretch to think I'd ever really care for the genre. 

Times are changing.  It turns out that while The Kid was in foster care, she learned to listen to country as a way to fall back asleep if she woke up during the night.

I'm not about to start listening to country now, especially the drivel known as young country.  So I'm compromising by starting to listen to Bluegrass when I'm in the car with The Kid.  It doesn't always work to calm her down, but a little Roy Acuff or Bobby Bare will always bring a smile to my face.   

Saturday, December 22, 2012

My 2012 birthday letter to Gumpy

Gumpy, you've been on my mind a lot this year.  There have been so many changes in my life, things that you would be excited about and I still wish I could just pick up the telephone to share them with you.

I'll start with the big news first.  Gladys and I are adopting a little girl.  She's 10 months old, full of energy and a smile that would melt your heart.  Lately she's started blinking at people purposefully, as if to try being extra cute.  It works!

You would appreciate that country music was played each night for The Kid as a way to keep her calm through the night.  I'm sure you're laughing at me right now because you know my disdain for country music in general, although I am softening a bit on that stance.  We listen to Bluegrass in the car whenever The Kid starts crying.  It doesn't always soothe her but at least its music I can stomach.

I think about you everyday, but The Kid has really amped up my volume of thoughts.  Little ones at her age weren't necessarily your bag, but you were always willing to get on the floor with us and play as far back as I can remember.  You were always excited for my victories, no matter how small.  You were always there to tell me I was a good person, even when I gave you several good reasons not to believe in me.  You helped me learn to laugh at myself, what it means to work hard, what it means to love your kids and grand kids, and what it meant to just be present for the people you love.  I try to emulate your spirit daily because I know we all turned out just fine.   

Gladys and I also adopted a dog named Barney.  As far as we know, he's part Border Collie and part Wire Hair Terrier, which makes him an active dog who loves to sniff everything in sight.  He would be one of your best buddies.  He's a quick learner, is good with the family and follows me everywhere, kind of like Shep following you all over the farm.

I started a new job in April.  You'd be happy that I'm working for a company you've heard of and that I'm doing something that I enjoy.  I don't think you'd understand what I do, mostly because I don't think you ever used the internet for anything, but I know you'd be proud of me regardless.  And between this job and the work I was doing beforehand, I've met some pretty incredible people that would fascinate you.

I'll never forget you Gumpy and I look forward to writing to you on my birthday next year.


P.S.  The Detroit Tigers made the playoffs again, this time making it to the World Series.  While I didn't go to as many games during the season as I would have liked, I did get a chance to go to a playoff game.  You would have loved the seats I had!