Tuesday, June 26, 2007

From the Road - Part II

Monday afternoon we arrived at the North East High School in North East PA where the Crossmen were rehearsing. They arrived at the school at 5:30 from Belding MI. Shortly after we arrived we were busy helping wash up the lunch dishes.

Several things have stuck me on the first day. One of the first was that the meals are basic. They have to be to be cooked out a portable kitchen that has a paid cook with volunteers to assist. Menu planning for 150 can be a challenge when the number of volunteers can fluctuate significantly over a few days.

Another was the discipline and drive of the members. They work hard during the day. Even after returning from the competition at 10:30, various members were gathered in clusters reviewing that evenings tape or working together on an aspect that they still needed to hone. Drum Corps is not for those who are undisciplined or who are out to have a good time.

Another which I already knew intellectually but struck me afresh in the afternoon when Evie and I were taking pictures, as you will notice from the pics Drum Corps is not for those who are prudes. They travel on buses by sections, they sleep together in a gymnasium, they shower and dress together (of course men and women in different shower rooms) and as they rehearse they dress to keep as cool as possible.

As you will see from the one picture of Josh, he is well tanned…and will only get darker as the summer goes along. His arms, chest and upper thighs are filling out due to all the exercise he is getting. By the end of the summer Josh will be in the best shape in his life.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Two Divided By Love

This is my second post of the day, but one that I had to just get out. So do not miss looking at the earlier one too.

This last week as I drove back from Tidewater I listened to Grass Roots’ “Two Divided By Love”. Though I listened to the song many a time, this time I found myself disagreeing with its basic message, “Two divided by love can only be one. One is a lonely number.” What a sad statement about love and the uniting of two lives. Love does not divide, it unites. It is distorted love and jealousy that divides.

When a man and woman unit, two separate lives merge to be one. Each brings his or her own dreams and desires into the relationship. Each brings their personality quirks, insecurities, abilities, values and believes into a united relationship. I do not think that one should not become subservient to the other. Rather it is a mutual yielding to the other and often done without realizing that one is yielding to the other. Their lives blend and over time they grow so that in many ways their values and views while differing at points will be so similar at so many other ways.

I only have to look at my own love relationship with my best friend and soul mate to see the sadness of the song and how the writer is so wrong about love. Yes, in love two lives become one, and while on paper one is a lonely number it is far from being a lonely number within the context of a dynamic and loving relationship. Loneliness is found in being apart. Loneliness is found when one is on a business trip and the other is not there to share in the sights. Loneliness is found in not having the other present to share frustrations and joys, to hold hands and to cuddle.

Evie and I only dated face to face for three weeks before the conclusion of the academic year separated us for the summer. We did talk about writing each other every day over the three months, but each of us had already three or four letters in the mail before the first was received by the other…and each of us had coded the outside of the letters so that they would be read in sequence. Almost daily the letters continued to be generated and it was through them that we learned of and came to appreciate each other’s feelings, desires and dreams. It seemed so natural that within three weeks of being back for the new academic year that we were engaged.

There were some who thought, boy she is too young to get married. And there were many more who thought that the length of time we dated before becoming engaged was way too short.

There were some, including ourselves, who thought we should wait until Evie graduated before getting married. We initially told our parents that we were looking at a June of ’81 or a November of ’80 wedding. Fortunately, my parents and Evie’s parents did not share that view and asked us “why not this June?” They had the wisdom to see the love that existed and knew that two hearts were united already in spirit and that they should not wait beyond that June to be married. I only hope that Evie and I will be able to show the same wisdom for Jonathan and Joshua when they fall in love and unite their hearts with a young lady. I also hope that we will have the wisdom to allow them their space so that their lives with their bride can be united as ours.

Two united by love can only be one. One is far from being a lonely number!

From the Road - Part I

This is my first blog since we have hit the road for two weeks. Our first stop was at the world’s largest campground chain that has the best camp store ever. Though there are plenty of spaces available and all the spaces are level, none of the sights are private. There is no water or electric but there is no charge. The campground chain – Wal-Mart.

Last night we spent an enjoyable evening visiting with Dennis and Erma who are farewell today from Erie. It was nice to connect with them and I left feeling that I wish we lived closer so that we could visit far more often.

Dennis and Erma are on the way to Portland Maine with Dennis assuming to the DS position. As with most moves, there is sadness over leaving one appointment and some anxiety about the next. Yet, they go boldly into the future with the confidence that God’s grace is more than sufficient.

From experience I have found that the best DHQ staff tend to be those officers who wanted to be in Corps, not HQ. Such staff tend to be more mindful of the issues at the Corps level and take Corps life into account in the shaping of policy and programs. They tend to be stronger pastors to the Corps Officers and take time to just visit with them and to pray with the COs.

We are spending two nights at a very lovely KOA just south of Erie. This morning the campground had a free pancake breakfast. Our site is equipped with a propane barbeque, table with umbrella, a couple’s swing, a grill and paved deck. We also have high speed wireless at the site. Attached is a picture taken of us this morning after we returned from our after breakfast walk.

Though we will not have internet access I hope to post a series of blogs on our week with the Crossmen. I would also direct you to Evie's blog regarding how to get a daily email to follow Josh on his trip across the country.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Beatles Song and The Salvation Army

Below is part of a story regarding Strawberry Fields, the Beatles song. Strawberry Fields is a Salvation Army property that is now a Corps. Back when Lennon lived nearby and would visit, it was an orphanage. Beatle fans from around the world visit and will take dirt, paint chips and other small items keepsakes.

When John Lennon was a child, he would come from his home where he was being raised by his Aunt Mimi and her husband George on Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, and would climb over the wall into nearby Strawberry Field and escape from all his problems and play in the grounds there. He went on to add an “s” to the correct name of the place and write his famous song, “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

I recently visited Strawberry Field and can report that it is now a lively Salvation Army Prayer Center and Church. It had been closed for a while when the Salvation Army closed down an orphanage there.

But now it has opened again and is humming with activities with Christians coming from around the world to pray and worship the Lord there.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Short a Shirt and Pair of Socks

This week has become somewhat a typical week. Into the office Monday morning, dictate out a few letters and respond to some emails before gathering up files to head out Monday afternoon on the road to Norfolk. I had an early morning in Norfolk regarding the Kroc Center, integrated marketing and to see if they are willing to come into a consortium that we are building.

The consortium is various mid sized to large commands across three territories that are working together by direct mail vendor invite to build a new marketing model and to conduct various tests together. As it is based out of the vendor and via their services we can work in this manner outside the formal traditional structure. Norfolk not only came in but so did Hampton and Williamsburg. Following lunch I headed out on the road for Camp Happyland as I am taking the staff picture at 8:30 Wednesday in the morning. Rather than going to DC and returning back to camp, the plan was to overnight at Camp and go home Wednesday afternoon (an hours drive east north east). At home I would edit pictures from various events before going on vacation.

The plan was to pack the RV Wednesday evening and finish Thursday. The operative word is “was”. As I was traveling back with several phone calls regarding pressing issues in various locations, and just after persuading another Corps to join the consortium and talking with another division about it, I received a call asking if I was going to be able to be in Harrisonburg Wednesday afternoon. I was to interview a candidate for a professional position. A week ago the CO and I talked about the possibility but he was to confirm the meeting that day and if he did not call I was to assume the meeting was not possible.

Thursday is no longer going to be a simple day to look at completing an six year direct mail analysis for a Corps. I learned that I have a two hour conference call in the afternoon to discuss the shaping of the consortium and set the agenda for the first meeting at the end of July. Now Thursday’s plan is no longer as it was on Monday. The pictures will be done here and there while on vacation and in the days following my return. The analysis may not be done and other projects moved back a few weeks.

So, that is how my week has gone. Late Wednesday morning I am going west from camp over the mountains to Harrisonburg. I will not be getting home until late in the evening. This is all part of being flexible and being of service to the Corps. Problem, I am one dress shirt short and one pair of socks short. I do not have a dress shirt for the meeting on Wednesday afternoon….but I will be there. Normally I do not find myself in this type of bind as I normally pack at least two extra shirts and pairs of socks.

Thankfully there is a laundry room just down the hall from my room at camp and my dress shirt and socks are being washed as I type. The back up plan was to go by JC Penney in Harrisonburg to get a new shirt and socks to match my dress pants.

The plan still remains to be out of the office Friday by 1:30 at the latest. I can hear Evie now, “Right! I will believe it when it happens. My money is that you are not out until 3:45 at the earliest.”

Oh, the job does have its perks too. Like visits to Capital Hill and White House and other functions. One was last month.... lunch at the Canadian Embassy for lunch with the Charge d'Affairs and his staff. I politely declined for another time as I had a wedding to attend that day. The staff that we sent raved about the embassy and the view of Capital Hill from the embassy's terrace.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Fathers Day

I received last night my Father’s Day gift, one that I will enjoy and adore even though my wife detests it. Jonathan gave me a DVD gift pack containing fifteen John Wayne movies. Tonight Jonathan is cooking my dinner.

On this day, our thoughts naturally turn to our father and fatherhood. Our service in Arlington, and likely in most Corps and churches, had a heavy stress upon fatherhood. A few years ago I expressed to my father a frustration that I had with Jonathan, that he often was quicker to take council from others than from his own father. Dad smiled before quietly saying, “Son, you were the same way.”

Now I am seeing that with Josh, who is quicker to argue with his father than with his mother or brother. I have come to accept Josh’s pushing as I did Jonathan’s. Each son as he approaches manhood pushes to define themselves as not being made in the image of their father. They must make their own way in the world, even if it means ignoring their father’s suggestions and council. It does not necessarily mean that sons do not love their fathers. Rather it is a natural process of maturation and independence. I have come to see it that way even though it creates some angst upon a father’s heart.

I remind myself that I must have the wisdom to give my own sons latitude to grow and be themselves, to make their own mistakes and just be there for them. My roll is to stand off stage to give encouragement, to sooth their pains and to celebrate their joys. While I may shake my head at a moment now and again, my heart is still filled with pride and joy over what I am seeing in the lives of my sons. Their passions, sensitivity and love for others, and character make me proud of them.

Being a father is not about a biological process that creates life, nor is it primarily about being a provider for daily physical needs. Fatherhood is about guiding one’s children and helping to shape their faith, values and character through words and actions. It is about being upright in character and living out that character and faith before one’s own children. I am thankful to God for living out his faith and character before me.

I have been highly blessed by three men of character, my father, Jonathan and Joshua. To the one who is a father, and to the two who make me so proud of them and I hope will one day enjoy the fullness of fatherhood, Happy Fathers Day. My your character and faith continue to impact others and add to my live.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Pics From the Car

I just returned from another 589 round trip along Hwy 29, the highway on which we live. Hwy 29 moves its way west south west out of DC to Gainsville where it turns south to the North Carolina line. While some find the trip boring, I enjoy the scenery and the curves. Below are two pictures take along the stretch between Charlottesville and Lynchurg. These pictures were taken by sitting the camera on the dash and just pushing the shutter to see what would turn out.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Marching in the Sprinklers

Below is taken from a blog on the Crossmen site. Josh during my conversation mentioned the event and that they just kept going even as they were getting dripping wet. As it was well over 90, many found the water to be refreshing. I will let your imagination picture what happened.

A funny thing happened the other day during the afternoon hornline visual block. We were learning drill for the ballad, and the particular segment we were running has the hornline spread across the entire backfield, an all down the endzone line on side 1 of the field. All of the sudden, the sprinklers in the side 2 endzone came on. This wasnt so bad, except for the 2 people at the end of the line down there, so we kept going. After about 5 minutes, those sprinklers shut off, and the side 1 sprinklers turned on. This is where it got interesting. The entire line on that endzone was getting soaked, but still that was only a handful of people, so Darryl kept on pushing us through rehersal, until finally, those shut off, and the sprinklers on the back sideline came on. This was chaos. There was a mad dash to get people's drill binders, backpacks, and my long ranger out of the spray radius. We really had to get this drill learned, so we pushed through. As people were marching through the spray getting blasted in the face, I had an idea to put these big trashcans over the sprinkler heads. This worked temporarily, despite the remote flooding around the sprinkler heads, until the sprinklers in the MIDDLE of the field turned on. Exhasperated, and frustrated, we ran off the field into the parking lot and set up a basics block while I helped the field liners touch up our second field. The rest of the rehersal ended up being very intense and focused, despite all the confusion and we got done what we needed to get done.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Happiest Day

“I do” though they are two short words, when spoken in a context of a marital vow are powerful words. Those two words set spoken by the bride and by the groom are what bind their lives together as one. The two words bring a man and a woman into a unique relationship and contract that is not found anywhere else in the law. The significance of the relationship is evidenced in that all other contracts and relationships can be dissolved between two parties through mutual agreement without having to go to court and can be accomplished without prescribed minimum time, but with a marriage there is a minimum time and a judge must be involved.

This day in 1979 I spoke those two simple words and heard a quivering yet happy voice utter them too. Over the course of my life I have had many joyous moments but all pale to June 9, 1979. Those two words, “I do” are the focal point of the happiest day in my life. With those words I wedded a browned eyed young lady of Italian heritage who is my enduring counselor, nurse, foil, soul mate, best friend and lover.

Though I loved her fully and completely with my whole being on that day, the love I had then is a fraction of what has bloomed and broadened as the years have passed. As I sit here I know we have had our fights and fortunately they have been rare, but I am hard pressed to recall them. Yet my mind is flooded with a torrent of image and memories of our joyous times, of times spent quietly cuddling, watching and listening together to our sons, long chats, dinners out and travels taken. Hotel rooms regardless how comfortable they may be, regardless of the view and amenities feel so lonely when she is not with me. I love just being together with her regardless what we are doing and miss her when she is not there. Where are times, including as I type this morning, that thinking of her and her love for me causes my eyes to moisten.

Just moments before I entered the church to exchange vows I stood in the church’s back parking lot overlooking the fields below. I was nervous, not out of questioning my love or if this was a step I should take. I was apprehensive because I feared that sometime in the future I would fall short in loving her with my entire being. I knew then that I was marrying a woman I did not merit but was pleased that God had graced her with me.

June 9, 2007 is the twenty-eighth anniversary of the happiest day in my life, the day I became the husband to Evelyn Irene Camuti.

Thank you Brown Eyes for making me so happy. I still feel humble being your husband.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Curb to Curb Buses

You only have to drive around the federal downtown in late May to early June to know the end of the school year is at hand. In the fall there will be seventy to eighty tour buses running around town. In April that number doubles. In the last five weeks of the school year, we have wall to wall buses taking up almost every curb side. Needless to say, trying to get a moderately priced hotel room is impossible as they are all booked up with school groups.

DC has two downtowns…the federal downtown which is the area of the federal buildings, the museums, Capital Hill, White House and no shopping…..and K Street which is lobbyist and lawyer row with shopping.

The shortest lines in the museums and on Capital Hill are between the second week of December to the second week of January.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gauley Rafting Carnage

With summer here Evie and I have wondered if we will get a chance to return to the Gauley this year. We will see if we can find the time.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Josh Has Left For the Summer

Last night was the final concert of the year at Oakton High., a three hour event. It is longer than most because seniors are given an opportunity to do solos or to conduct their band. Below is a picture of the Symphonic Band trumpets and trombones preparing for the final item, playing a few items from their marching program.

Below is a picture taken this morning of Josh heading out the door at 6:30 to catch his 8:30 flight to Texas and the start of his summer adventure. Note the new hair style required by the Crossmen.