Merry Christmas 2020

I would like to wish each of you a Merry Christmas!

This year is winding down and we will soon enter a new one. I pray 2021 will be a great year for my family and yours as well. Stay safe and may our father bless each of you beyond measure!

I Found a Puppy – A Poem

This is a poem my grandson and I wrote one day when he was feeling sad after the tragic loss of his aunt’s puppy. He was with his mother at his grandmother’s house when his uncle opened the front door to go out to get something out of his vehicle, the puppy ran out, ran down the road on to a busy street, and was struck by a car, and tragically died at the scene.

To help him with the sadness he was feeling, I asked him if he would like to write a poem about a puppy, and he said yes, so here goes!

I found a puppy at the park,

We played all day right from the start.

He wagged his little tail at me,

And stared at me with eyes of green.

His black and brown coat brightly shined,

His ears flopped as he wiggled his behind.

We played in the grass and rolled in the sand,

We ran and twisted over, and over again.

He and I became quick fast friends,

The fat little puppy runs like the wind.

We enjoyed playing and had so much fun,

He jumped – I jumped – We jumped in the warm sun!

A female puppy entered the park,

She was greeted with a friendly bark.

Panting he couldn’t hide his gaze,

He sat on his rump and looked quite amazed.

She barked – He barked – They barked!

They became friends and played until dark.

With a touch of their noses and wag of their tails,

They left the park through a wooded trail.

Written by: Jasmine D. Parker & Joshua J. Bell ©


Zager and Evans – In the Year 2525

This bleak futuristic tale is a very unusual song, but 1969 was a very unusual year, with hippie anthems like “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” going to #1 along with bubblegum songs like “Sugar, Sugar.” The Beatles, Elvis Presley, and The Temptations all had classic #1s, but “In the Year 2525” stayed at #1 for six weeks, which was longer than any other song that year and earned it the distinction of #1 record of the year 1969. The song reflected the apprehension of the times and also the wonder of technology: it started its run at the top of the US chart the week before the Apollo 11 moon landing.

This was the only hit for the Nebraska folk-rock duo of Denny Zager and Rick Evans. Their follow-up single, “Mister Turnkey,” failed to chart and in 1971, they released their third and final album. Evans was their primary songwriter and wrote this one.

Here is the timeline of why this science fiction-themed song was the #1 hit of 1969:

March 1969 – two futuristic sci-fi movies receive Oscars: Planet Of The Apes and 2001: A Space Odyssey.

July 11, 1969 – David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” (the tale of Major Tom) is released in the UK. It doesn’t become a chart-topper until September.

Week ending July 12, 1969 – “In the Year 2525” hits #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100.

July 16, 1969 – Apollo 11 Moon Mission lifts off from Florida.

July 20, 1969 – Apollo 11 astronauts make history when they set foot on the moon. 

Time magazine speculated that this was “composed by a computer at the Rand Corporation.”

The song was subtitled “Exordium & Terminus,” which is a fancy way of saying “Beginning & End.” The song took itself quite seriously in its description of what will become of man as technology takes over.

After this hit the top spot in both the US and UK, it put Zager & Evans at the very bottom of the alphabetical list of artists with a chart-topping song. In the UK, they held down the bottom until 2015, when David Zowie hit #1 with “House Every Weekend.” In America, that spot was taken the next year by Zayn with “Pillowtalk.”This

Song Lyrics –

In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find
In the year 3535
Ain’t gonna need to tell the truth, tell no lie
Everything you think, do and say
Is in the pill you took today
In the year 4545
You ain’t gonna need your teeth, won’t need your eyes
You won’t find a thing to chew
Nobody’s gonna look at you
In the year 5555
Your arms hangin’ limp at your sides
Your legs got nothin’ to do
Some machines doin’ that for you
In the year 6565
You won’t need no husband, won’t need no wife
You’ll pick your son, pick your daughter too
From the bottom of a long glass tube

In the year 7510
If God’s a-coming, He oughta make it by then
Maybe He’ll look around Himself and say
Guess it’s time for the judgment day
In the year 8510
God is gonna shake His mighty head
He’ll either say I’m pleased where man has been
Or tear it down, and start again

In the year 9595
I’m kinda wonderin’ if man is gonna be alive
He’s taken everything this old earth can give
And he ain’t put back nothing

Now it’s been ten thousand years
Man has cried a billion tears
For what, he never knew, now man’s reign is through
But through eternal night, the twinkling of starlight
So very far away, maybe it’s only yesterday

In the year 2525, if man is still alive
If woman can survive, they may find


The Box Tops – The Letter


This song is about a guy who gets a letter from his former love telling him that she wants him back, and the guy wants to fly out and see her immediately. The Nashville songwriter Wayne Carson Thompson wrote the song after his father gave him the line, “Give me a ticket for an aeroplane.”

Thompson gave the song to The Box Tops on the recommendation of his friend, Chips Moman, who ran ARS Studios and liked the sound of an unnamed band headed by then-16-year-old Alex Chilton, who auditioned for him in 1967.

Thompson played guitar on the recording. He didn’t like the singing, believing the lead vocal was too husky and wasn’t fond of the production either. The addition of the jet sound “didn’t make sense” to him. When producer Dan Penn added the airplane sound to the recording, Wayne Carson Thompson clearly thought that Penn had lost his mind. He hadn’t – several weeks later it became one of the biggest records of the ’60s, and The Box Tops went on to score with a few other Thompson compositions, including their follow-up release, “Neon Rainbow” (#24, 1967), “Soul Deep” (a #18 hit in 1969) and “You Keep Tightening Up On Me” (their last chart hit, which peaked at #74 in 1970). A few years later, Thompson won a Grammy for co-writing the hit “Always On My Mind.”

When the group recorded this they still did not have a name. One band member suggested, “Let’s have a contest and everybody can send in 50 cents and a box top.” Producer Dan Penn then dubbed them The Box Tops.

At 1:58, the Box Tops’ version of this was the last #1 hit to be shorter than two minutes in length.

Cover versions were US hits for two other artists, The Arbors (#20 in 1969 – arrangement by Joe Scott) and Joe Cocker (#7 in 1970). Cocker’s version is a live recording featuring Leon Russell; a studio version appears on his album Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

The title is never sung in this song: his baby writes him “a letter.”

Song Lyrics – 

Gimme a ticket for an aeroplane
Ain’t got time to take a fast train
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-goin’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

I don’t care how much money I gotta spend
Got to get back to baby again
Lonely days are gone, I’m a-going’ home
My baby, just-a wrote me a letter

Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen, mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more
Anyway, yeah!


Well, she wrote me a letter
Said she couldn’t live without me no more
Listen, mister, can’t you see I got to get back
To my baby once-a more
Anyway, yeah!


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Managing Depression During the Holidays

I am posting this again since we are in the Holiday season of 2020 and dealing with Covid19, things have changed big time. I first posted this in 2018, when things were as one may say “Normal,” but now we look back and it’s a memory of a time many of us took for granted and now would love for things to get back to that normal or better than normal.

With the holiday season upon us, many of us push harder than ever by keeping ourselves busy and believing we are just fine. That is until we stop for long enough to realize how exhausted we are. Many feel they can’t afford to slow down, but at times like this, it is more important that we take time to replenish our inner resources. According to experts, more people become depressed or anxious during the holidays than any other time of year, due to an increase in demands, family issues, being unable to manage expectations and also increasing financial worries, and wanting to fulfill your Christmas list for family and friends. This can lead to feeling overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities, not to mention your monthly bills.

The holidays are synonymous with family, so any and / all family-related issues may come to the forefront during this time such as loss, dysfunction, addiction, disconnection, abuse, separation, estrangement, divorce, and financial issues. If you are someone who is already working on managing your depression, this will be an additional emotional roller-coaster and burden. This is something that won’t go away on its own without effective communication, love, and support.
Unfortunately, when we get wound up too tight, it can be hard to figure out how to unwind, but I’d like to share some simple ways to relax that can be beneficial for your mental and emotional well-being and make your days a lot more enjoyable and comfortable. My suggestions include rest, laughter exercise, plenty of water, and healthy eating.
Sometimes it is hard to admit that we need to rest, but it’s a simple truth. When you sleep, not only are you physically recharging your system, you are also giving your mind and eyes time to rest as well. For those very reasons, it is extremely helpful to establish a regular sleep routine. By sticking to it as much as you can, you should be rested and ready to face those busy days ahead. Even when you aren’t sleeping, you can still rest your mind by finding some pleasant activity to do for short periods, like reading a book, playing a puzzle game, working on a favorite hobby, or just relaxing, listening to some soft music. Music is a powerful way of loosening up and releasing built-up stress.
As for my next suggestion, many have probably heard it before. If you want to relax, find reasons to laugh. Laughter oxygenates your blood and relieves stress, which in turn boosts your immune response. It naturally improves your mood and even burns off a few calories as well! To get your daily dose of laughter, enjoy a pleasant visit with friends, read a funny book, or watch shows on the television that make you laugh. I guarantee that a good 15 minutes of laughing will leave you feeling relaxed and refreshed.
And let us not forget about exercise. Exercise helps boost your endorphin levels and is good for your heart and blood vessels. Even if your schedule is busy, try to set aside time for daily exercise, even if it’s just 15 minutes. Walking around the block several times during lunch, making a short dash to the local park, or even putting music on at home and dancing through a few songs will do wonders for your body and mind!

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“Winter’s Artist” by Suzanne Bates. Poets Who Inspire

As someone who really loves and appreciates Winter, I can honestly say this is poem lays the writer’s vision out perfectly. Imagine standing in a forest filled with trees, blanketed by snow, and bearing witness to the snowflakes as they fall. Beautiful!

An awesome scene the artist paints, expert, and deft his hand.
Brushstrokes swift, he draws with ease, a winter wonderland.
Landscape sketched from memory, heavens and land entwine
Rapidly the scene is set, exquisitely divine.

Pine trees reaching tall and proud, like statues standing still.
There is no wind to speak of, more an icy winter chill.
Strong branches dusted with the snow stretch their fingers high
As if welcoming the blanket bequeathed by the darkened sky.

Crisp snowflakes twirl like dancers, pirouetting to and fro,
Waltzing to their silent tune toward the ground below.
Pale moonlight generously showers diamonds all around.
Its treasure glints and sparkles upon the hardened ground.

Snowfall in shades of silver envelops the land below,
Lighting up the darkness with its soothing, gentle glow.
Mellow in its nature, no preference where it lays,
Takes refuge where and when it can, throughout the winter days.

Though bereft of colour is the scene, prevailing grey, and white,
Its awe-inspiring beauty is apparent day and night.
Who nonchalantly paints this scene, for all on earth to share?
His strokes proficient every time, precise and so aware.
Jack Frost paints wondrous pictures with his palette of frozen dew,
Then stands back when his work is done and proudly admires the view.

Written by: Suzanne Bates


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Motivational Quotes

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1. It always seems impossible until it’s done.

~Nelson Mandela

2. If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.

 ~Jim Rohn

3. Set your goals high, and don’t stop till you get there.

~Bo Jackson

4. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

~Samuel Beckett

5. There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that’s your own self.

~Aldous Huxley

6. Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.

~Arthur Ashe

7. Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

~Dalai Lama

8. Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.

~ Robert H. Schuller

9. I learned that we can do anything, but we can’t do everything… at least not at the same time. So think of your priorities, not in terms of what activities you do, but when you do them. Timing is everything.

 ~Dan Millman

10. Good, better, best. Never let it rest. ‘Til your good is better and your better is best.

~St. Jerome

11. A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.

 ~George S. Patton

12. Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

~Charles R. Swindoll

13. Failure will never overtake me if my determination to succeed is strong enough.

 ~Og Mandino

14. I can, therefore I am.

~Simone Weil

15. Leap and the net will appear.

~John Burroughs

16. Change your life today. Don’t gamble on the future, act now, without delay.

~Simone de Beauvoir

17. If you can dream it, you can do it.

~Walt Disney

18. When you reach the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on.

 ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

19. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.

 ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

20. Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.

~Sam Levenson







“Charley Pride, The Man, The Music, The Legend!”

In the early 1960s, a young minor league baseball pitcher and aspiring country singer named Charley Pride had settled into a discouraging routine. His days were spent toiling in Helena, Mont., at a smelter operated by the Anaconda Copper Mining Co., and he spent his free time playing for its semipro baseball team, the East Helena Smelteries.

He stood out as an African American working in a musical genre that seldom welcomed black voices. But he developed a small but enthusiastic fan base singing in Montana honky-tonks, which in 1962 led to his invitation to perform before a show headlined by country singers Red Sovine and Red Foley.

After Mr. Pride sang “Heartaches By the Numbers” and “Lovesick Blues,” Sovine, a veteran performer, was struck by Mr. Pride’s magnetism and the enthusiastic response he evoked from the White audience. He suggested that Mr. Pride take his chances in Nashville.

It took him nearly two years to get a contract. Record executives loved his demo tapes but got cold feet after viewing his picture. In one audition, he was told, “Now sing in your regular voice.” A talent scout even suggested that Mr. Pride sell himself as a novelty by dressing in Colonial garb and adopting the stage name of George Washington Carver III. Finally, country guitarist Chet Atkins, who was also an RCA Records executive, saw promise in the singer.

Radio stations received his first singles, credited to Country Charley Pride, without publicity photos — a cautious move by Atkins. Disc jockeys latched onto the records, and country fans listened. “It was RCA’s decision not to play up or down the color thing, but to just let the voice go, put the record out, and let the people decide,” Mr. Pride later told The Washington Post.

Mr. Pride, who grew up in the Mississippi cotton fields and became the first major African American singing star in country music, died Dec. 12 at 86 in Dallas. The cause was complications from covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, according to a statement from the Nashville public relations firm 2911 Media.

Harmonica player DeFord Bailey, who was black, had been one of the earliest and most popular cast members of the Grand Ole Opry in the 1930s. A generation later, soul stars Ray Charles and Solomon Burke recorded country songs. But Mr. Pride shattered a show-business barrier, paving the way for subsequent black entertainers — Stoney Edwards, Big Al Downing, and Darius Rucker, among them — who followed Mr. Pride’s lead in Nashville.

Country-music historian Rich Kienzle said Mr. Pride embraced a traditional sound: recording with fiddles and steel guitar in an era when many country singers were trying to sound like Las Vegas entertainers. Onstage, he also liked to defuse tension with self-deprecating, sometimes self-demeaning humor.

“He would make jokes to audiences about having a ‘permanent tan,’

” Kienzle said. “The music won out over any bigotry.”

He often turned down songs that he believed were too controversial. One such song, “Blackjack County Chain,” by songwriter Red Lane, recounted a chain gang beating a sadistic sheriff to death. After Mr. Pride rejected it, his frequent touring mate, Willie Nelson, later recorded it.

Mr. Pride often endured cruel jokes and taunts from fellow entertainers. George Jones once drunkenly painted “KKK” on Mr. Pride’s car. (Mr. Pride had passed out at a party while trying to match Jones, an alcoholic, drink for drink.)

Early in his recording career, Mr. Pride’s manager, Jack Johnson, set up a private jam session with singer Faron Young, co-owner of a widely read trade journal Music City News. Young, known for badgering colleagues with profanity and provocative insults, praised Mr. Pride’s singing but referred to him with a racial epithet.

“In all honesty, it took longer for the Nashville crowd to become accustomed to me than I thought it would,” Mr. Pride recalled in his 1994 memoir, “Pride,” written with Jim Henderson. “I was a novelty, but I never allowed myself to feel out of place. Unless someone else brought it up — that I was different — I tried not to think about it much.”

Charley Frank Pride was born in Sledge, Miss., on March 18, 1934, and was the fourth of 11 children in a family of sharecroppers. His father named him Charl but, because of a clerical error, the “ey” was added to his birth certificate.

“We lived in what we called a ‘shotgun house’ and there was a bed over on this side and a bed over on this side, and we’d sleep three and four to a bed,” Mr. Pride told Dan Rather on AXS-TV’s “The Big Interview” in 2015. “I remember sometimes I’d wake up, and my brother’s toes were right in my nose.”

Mr. Pride’s fascination with country music began early during his childhood in the Mississippi Delta. Though the region is best known for its blues, his strict and religious father regarded the genre as the devil’s music. Instead, Mr. Pride recalled listening to the Grand Ole Opry and a local country station on the family’s battery-run Philco radio.

“My dad was in charge of the dials on the radio, so that’s what we listened to,” Mr. Pride once said. “In my formative years, country music was what I heard. I got to be 10 or 11 years old before I started listening to other music. By the time I experienced the blues, I was in my teens.”

Mr. Pride bought his first guitar at 14, but baseball competed with music as a consuming passion.

“As far as I was concerned, my future was in baseball,” he wrote in his memoir. “I saw what Jackie Robinson did, that was my goal. Before he reached the major leagues, there were no real role models for kids like us.”

Throughout the 1950s, Mr. Pride pitched for Negro leagues teams, minor league affiliates of major league teams, and occasionally in exhibition games against barnstorming major league players. At one point while he was playing in the Negro leagues, he and a teammate were traded for a used team bus.

The Army drafted Mr. Pride in 1958. After his discharge two years later, he joined Anaconda.

In his memoir, Mr. Pride spoke of struggles with manic depression. He also invested in many failed business ventures. However, his music management company prospered by discovering new talents Ronnie Millsap and Gary Stewart and bringing both to RCA Records. In 2010, he became a minority owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team.

Mr. Pride was voted entertainer of the year by the Country Music Association in 1971. He received a Grammy for his 1971 album, “Charley Pride Sings Heart Songs.” He won additional Grammys at the 1971 ceremony for two gospel songs, “Did You Think to Pray” and “Let Me Live.”

In 1956, he married Rozene Cohran. In addition to his wife, survivors include three children, reggae musician Carlton Pride; Dion Pride, a country singer; and Angela Pride; four siblings; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Mr. Pride credited his early experiences with giving him an unflinching determination to succeed.

“When I used to go to school and pledge allegiance to the flag, all those nice words about ‘liberty and justice for all,’ I just had to look out my window: We had to play basketball outside while the whites had a gym,” he told The Post in 1984. “But my mother told me to hang in there, that someday it would be different, and that kept me believing.”




“I Will Not Die an Unlived Life” – Poetry by Dawna Markova

I will not die an I lived life.

I will not live in fear

of falling or catching fire.

I choose to inhabit my days,

to allow my living to open me,

to make me less afraid,

more accessible,

to loosen my heart

until it becomes a wing,

a torch, a promise.

I choose to risk my significance;

to live so that which came to me as seed

goes to the next as blossom

and that which came to me as blossom,

goes on as fruit.

~ Dawna Markova