Tennessee Ernie Ford

A Country ChristmasWhile working through my Christmas music collection, I heard a couple of songs by Tennessee Ernie Ford, an old-school country singer (and a crossover artist as well). I was reminded of his work in radio, recording, and television.

I loved his big voice and his style. In reading the Wikipedia article about him, I felt a major sense of nostalgia roll over me. I’m not so sure why I feel this way, but it often happens to me when I think about how things were when I was young. It seems things were simpler, less aggressive, less narcissistic. Entertainment was more wholesome and nothing like what we have today.

There was plenty of evil. But I don’t recall the celebration of violence and baseness that seems to prevail in entertainment today.

Perhaps I’m just filtering. But that’s how I feel.

Mason Proffit

Last Night I Had the Strangest DreamI know it’s not really the time to write about music that isn’t holiday-related, but when have I followed convention… not often (but sometimes).

Over the last couple of weeks I fleshed out my collection of Mason Proffit recordings. There are a couple I don’t have, but they are compilations or the double-album re-release of earlier work. So, I think I’m satisfied.

I’ve listened to these recordings a few times, mostly in between Christmas recordings. I can’t quite do a steady holiday-music diet. I need some variety to keep me interested.

Bareback RiderWhen I listened to the music in chronological order, the progression of their work was apparent. Their songwriting grew as they continued working. The musicianship was always first-rate, but I think John’s banjo and guitar work improved.

Rockfish CrossingBoth the songs and the recordings hold up to the test of time very well. As was common during the time, the bass is rolled-off a bit and doesn’t have the punch that modern recordings have. That’s probably more a reflection of the technology of the 1970s, but it might relate to production values. I don’t really know why, but the difference is noticeable. (And these aren’t the only recordings from the period on which I’ve noticed this.)

This is good work. My old friend Ben reminded me of Mason Proffit indirectly a couple of months ago. I’m glad he did and I’m pleased to have their work on my library. I love good music and this music reminds me of some great times with family and friends.


Ki Golden GateThe other evening Young Son and I ate the last of our leftover pizza. While we were eating, we watched an episode of my latest addiction, Dexter. When the pizza was gone, Young Son retrieved a couple of cookies from his fiance’s care package and offered me one. I accepted, of course. I’m not stupid.

The Girl sat at my feet, looking at me with those asking/demanding eyes she can do. I usually share a bit of my food with her, not on demand, but like a good alpha when I feel it’s appropriate. So she got a bit of my peanut butter cookie.

The cookies consumed, we continued watching Dexter. I noticed the Girl sitting before Young Son. He got down on the floor with her. She was in her please sit. He got a paw and it was clear she was asking for something.

Finally, he said to me “What does she want? She gave me a paw. She’s asking for something.” I thought for a few minutes.

“Do you want a cookie?” I asked her. I got eyes. So I got up and got a couple of Girl-cookies from her stash and sat back down (Dexter was paused). She sat at my feet, nuzzling the hand with the biscuits. I held them, watching her. She worked and worked at my hand, trying to lick a biscuit from my grasp or hook it with a canine tooth. I talked to her and laughed while she worked, then finally relented and let her take one from my hand.

The other was still hidden in my paw. She finished the first and asked for the second, which I presented when she laid down on command.

Satisfied that she had her own cookies, she hopped onto the sofa on her mat next to me. Young Son came over and sat on the sofa next to her. She settled right down and we finished our episode of Dexter together.

She wanted her own cookies. She asked nicely. It took us less-sensitive humans a bit to figure it out, but we did.

A Distraction

If you keep a dry eye while watching this1,then you have no heart.

I found the link on Facebook, clicked it, and watched the clip. These are people dealing with a life-threatening or life-ending illness. Dealing with the illness and the treatment takes over everything. I know this personally.

The gift given these people and all of us through them is a moment of relief from that constant pressure. It’s simply astounding.

1Update: Dead link…

Movin’ Toward Happiness

Movin' Toward HappinessI wrote about them a few entries ago, but Mason Proffit was the band assembled by the Brothers Talbot back in the late 1960s. They put together a country-rock sound that was fundamental to a number of very successful bands that followed them.

The brothers became Christians and moved on to other projects, coming together for a couple of records and then departing to walk their individual paths. I like their music.

Movin’ Toward Happiness arrived this afternoon. I immediately put it in the computer to rip to flacs and MP3s. I will collect all of the Mason Proffit records, at least the main records. (I’m not sure the compilations/re-releases will work for me.) This is music I should have had decades ago.

There is a certain sadness that goes with this work. For one I remember all the times this music was part of my life not long after we were married. There’s poignancy there. Second, I’m reminded that things change, people grow, and nothing remains the same.

Young Son and I were remarking about the changes in our lives this evening. We miss Wife/Mom, but we move along trying to make a good life without her. I think none of us like it much, but it’s what we do. With practice, I think it will get better. We’ll keep after it.

Christmas Decorating

Christmas Tree 2013When I began cleaning out things after Wife died, one of the big jobs was to sort through all of the holiday decorations accumulated over the decades. There were many things in those boxes. A number of them carried many poignant memories.

So, as I looked through those material manifestations of four decades of family life, I sorted them into four piles. One was to keep (quite small), a second was to be sent to Daughter, a third was to Older Son, and the final was to donate. The largest pile was the donation pile. Those were things that didn’t carry many family memories. The second largest was to go to Daughter. She will use some of them and curate the others for Older Son and Young Son as they establish their own traditions and want to include some of the things from their youth. I sent a box to Older Son with things I thought he’d find meaningful. The final bit was for me.

That part all fit into a single 30-gallon tub. I have one that is red and green — it’s perfect for me.

All the old artificial trees went to local charities. There wasn’t anything in the lot I wanted. So I gave them away.

A couple of days ago I decided to get out the Christmas decorations. I wanted to see what I have and decide what to put up. Without a tree, I looked at what Home Depot had to offer in artificial trees. I don’t want a live tree; the Girl might decide to eat it or drink the water. I found something relatively small but big enough to establish a holiday place. I brought it home this morning. Young Son and I set it up, then added some decorations to fill it out.

Decorating the tree and putting out a few other things was quite emotional. I knew it would be and wanted to give that energy a chance to vent. Trying to put it aside is not a good idea and is not optional. So, I remembered how Wife loved this time of year… how she loved playing the Santa role. I think it was the high point of her year.

Last year was difficult. She wanted to do it all, just as she always had. But she was just starting radiotherapy for her lymphoma and was very ill. She didn’t know it yet, but she was dieing from the disease. She already was showing signs of CNS involvement. But we had a path to travel and so we did all the way through to the bitter end. But, I digress.

She did a bit of shopping last year when she felt up to it. That wasn’t much. I finished it up for her when we had a short break from the daily trip to Truckee for her treatment. Mostly she dealt with her illness, her treatment, and rested. That was the right thing for her to be doing. The rest of us handled the other things.

So, it is with substantial emotion that I put up the tree this year. It won’t be the same without Wife. It can’t be. Life isn’t the same without Wife. But, life goes on and so must I. I will celebrate Wife and her love for the holiday. I raise my glass to her when I have a bit of whiskey or a cup of coffee. I salute her life and her fight.

Old Girl, we put up the tree for you… and for us. It’s our way of remembering your legacy as well as the reason for celebrating the season. We miss you and it will be different. But we’ll do this for each other and for you.

I love you forever…


A couple of weekends ago I attended one of our Sit Means Sit outings. Of course, I carried a camera along with me. In this case, I took the D300 along. At one point down near the river, these guys decided to take a swim. No matter how cold it is, water dogs will get into the water. I kept Ki out of the water because it was cold and she has little fur. I didn’t want her to get cold.

Right after the swim, they posed. I made the capture.

Irish Setters


Mason Proffit WantedMany, many years ago I came across John Michael Talbot, a fine singer/songwriter, at a Christian conference in French Lick, Indiana. I found a few snapshots from that trip (grossly underexposed) last weekend. Talbot’s work as a Christian musician impressed me. The work was good. The music was good. It was a great combination.

I picked up his early recordings as I could afford them. We had little money in the 70s and at about $8 each, records were expensive. It wasn’t until the late 70s I even had something to play them on.

John Michael Talbot went on to become a Catholic monk and turned his musical focus to worship music. While good work, I thought he lost the punch of his early work. That’s OK — people grow and change and decide to leave things behind in the search for what is next for them.

I knew it, but never acted on the fact that John Michael and Terry Talbot formed an early country-rock band called Mason Proffit. That work was seminal to their work that followed and the work of many other musicians as well.

I’ve been backfilling my music collection with artists I enjoy but do not have their early work. I decided to pick up the Mason Proffit catalog, now that it’s been issued on CD. This is music from the late 60s and early 70s. It sounds like it. However, the work holds up. It’s good work.