i'm not sick...

I don't know why I get so nervous about my regular physical check up each year. The most painful part of the whole experience is the blood taking part. Stupid needles. It was a little embarrassing leaving a cup of pee in the bathroom, but I don't expect anyone who works in a doctor's office thinks much of it. The steth was not too cold. The doctors hands were gentle. His questions weren't demeaning. He had good news all the way around. He did refer me to a physical therapist after I told him I'd been waking up lately to a stiff neck and headaches. A few of those sessions and I'd be as good as a ?? year old can be.

Maybe seeing a new doctor makes me nervous. I've tried a couple of others in the last couple of years, but didn't feel very comfortable with them. Dr. Nesbitt came highly recommended, and my insurance lists him as one of their providers. I was in business. He made me feel at ease and now I think I've found my doctor. If I ever get sick I'll be ready.


what will you give me for it?

Everything has its price. Scary isn't it? Surely there is something sacred, something so personally valuable to you that you wouldn't part with it for any amount of money. Surely there is something you'd never sell - regardless of the offer.

Give the experts at HGTV about ten minutes and someone will try and convince you that purchasing a home for investments sake is more important than buying a place to call home. We're encouraged to consider the idea of profits before we think about the memories or the comfort, usefulness or practicality of a family home. Seeing the place through the eyes of a potential buyer from the future is more important than picturing the kids playing in the yard or the family gathered around the table or yourself warming by the fireplace. According to the TV experts you should always consider the worth of a place to someone you've never met before personal value.

Want to see American greed on display in frustrating fashion? Watch a TV reality show. In a few minutes you'll likely catch a few fine examples. Donald Trump is offering boardroom jobs. Harry Mandel is giving away briefcases filled with loot. Eat a few bites of raw and rotten animal parts and you may get sick, but you'll recover to wealth and instant celebrity. You can cut a stranger's throat, rat out a friend, sleep with someone else's partner, dangle from a piece of yarn over a flaming pool of piranha infested acid and if you survive you'll probably be exhausted and scarred but at least you'll be wealthy. Your dignity and friends will be gone, but who needs either when you can live well? What's not for sale?

I'll admit that I do get into some reality TV. I don't usually watch the folks who play with the alligators or eat the raw giraffe privates. I got tired of watching the billionaire from the city argue with the already employed and successful job seekers. I do get a kick out of watching Howie's gorgeous models open the shiny cases though. It's a study in desire I think, and not just the pretty ladies.

Watching excited contestants who'd normally be thrilled beyond measure to be handed a couple a hundred thousand dollars gamble it away for the risky chance to walk away with a million can sadly be entertaining.

Tonight I saw TV greed at its worst. A young lady just admitted to a total stranger game show host and millions of Americans that she's got dirt on her dad that her mother knows nothing about. Spilling the beans earned her about ten thousand dollars. I don't advocate keeping dangerous secrets, but making Mom and Dad a commodity seems cheap to me. And that wasn't the worst of it. The overly bleached blond sat in the hot seat while the man in the suit asked her question after question that revealed her innermost thoughts and desires - all for a price. Without exception, every-single-question dug a hole so incrementally deep that her young husband of two years buried his head in his hands in disbelief. She admitted to all of us that she was secretly in love with a former boyfriend when she married her husband. Ka-ching! She confessed she'd leave her husband for a chance to get the old bf back. Ka-ching! She'd been having sex with other people since she got married. Ka-ching!

The network was paying this woman well for her wide open honesty, and she didn't seem to mind who was injured in the process. She was racking up the dollars while her family, and even the show's host sat in shocked amazement. But she was getting wealthy, and that's obviously what mattered most. She sold out her parents,her husband and her integrity. To her everything really does have its price.

In the end she lost the game and the money. We're left wondering what else she lost.


i get to sing with justin!

I really enjoy spending time in the studio. It's easy for me to feel creative with the phones on my head and the super-sensitive mic in my face. I love it! I love it more when I'm able to work in the studio with friends. Justin Ryan is a wonderful, dynamic voice and a tremendously kind and sensitive Christian. He's been through a bit of hell and lots of grief in his still young life, and he continues to want to share the grace he's found. He has recorded a fantastic record with a lot of his singing friends. Most of them are famous. Then there's me. We've been in the studio today working on the two songs that I get to sing. What a blast! I wasn't about to turn down the opportunity to be on his record, so when he called I made sure to get it on the calendar. I'm glad I did. When you hear it you will be too.

back to the good stuff

Back when I was singing with my family one of my favorite places to sing was in southern Illinois. In particular, there was a weekend in February hosted by a group from the area called the Truthseekers. It's hard to put a finger on it, but there was always something very, very special about this event, but especially about these people. When the group retired and I hung up my microphone for so many years I didn't often miss the road, or singing. Except for this event.

I had the opportunity to relive the delight of the Truthseekers homecoming weekend just this past week. The event is as wonderful as I remembered it. The group is as kind and gracious and loving as they always were. I sang with some other artists, refreshed some out-of-touch friendships and made some great new friends. This is the part of singing I like most.


... exciting and new...

I loved watching The Love Boat on TV. I've heard that there is a remake in the works. I don't know how I'd like it now. I've been on enough and worked enough cruise ships to know that a lot of the glamour was made up. Back when the show was on television it was mostly the rich peeps who sailed exclusively. It made the show more fairly tail like. In a matter of a handful of days, people on the Love Boat would meet, court, get to know everything about each other, fall in love and get married - or at least get engaged. What a boat!!

I don't know anyone who has ever gone on a cruise, met the person of their dreams and fallen in love. If you have, happy Valentine's Day!

The rest of us want to play.


big abe doins

This is a big year for Abraham Lincoln. Actually, the next two will be a big deal, at least here in KY and the other states that claim him or at least a part of him. I don't know how many of the states plus territories attach themselves to some part of the Lincoln lore, but one of the things we know for sure is it all started right here in the Bluegrass state. The next two years will be a massive celebration with dignitaries, former presidents, celebrities and common folks as we mark our sixteenth president's two-hundredth birthday.

I think it would be cool if all of the former presidents had a holiday. I'd say some of them, if not most of them, don't deserve one. But knowing the political process the way I do, it was no small fete getting elected. That deserves some sort of special moment of pause. Besides, I'm sure America's retailers could find some way to use it for their own benefit.

But even if none of the others enjoyed the distinct honor of a day set aside to remember the from whences, Mr. Lincoln has earned the distinction. He's not our only national leader of valour, but the very, very, very difficult and deeply contra-personal decisions he had to make as head of a house divided deserve to be revered. I wouldn't want to be him, and for the life of me I can't figure out why he'd want to be who he was where he was when he was. Some people just see moments like that as their calling - their duty. Maybe that's what motivated him.

You have to wonder if he ever longed for the day when he'd retire from public service, leave the constant tumult of Washington, DC for a quieter, more peaceful life. If he did, I'll bet he was very pleasantly surprised.


going back...

Don't ask me how old I am. Actually, you don't have to. It's all over the Internet. Google my name (that tickles) and you can learn pretty much anything you want to know. I'll tell you this, I'm a proud child of the sixties. What a time it was! That's what they tell me anyway. I was way too young to remember anything about it. I've seen the pictures though and it looks like it was a lot of fun.

Being born in the LATE sixties means that music was written, played and sung so as to be an influence in my life. It was still entertainment to many, but just as many saw music as a way to get their message heard - and responded to. I remember a lot of it - 60s, 70s, 80s ...

My favorite was the 1980s. I was in and out of young love, my hormones were in control (I discovered new surprises everyday), and I emerged from that awkward place where the rest of my body hid the memo from my nose and ears. Up until the early to mid eighties a love song didn't mean much to me. When I finally had a pretty face to attach to it the song became "ours." I like the music of the 1980s.

My friends and I are throwing an eighties party tonight. We're calling it a $2 Prom. Everyone must come dressed in an outfit from the mid 1980s. If they have it in their closet (and who doesn't) they can wear it. If they have to visit Goodwill or the Salvation Army to buy something they can not spend more than $25, and I mean for the entire outfit. This ought to be fun.


earning ashes

I'd heard of Mardi Gras before, but as a child I grew up not knowing what Fat Tuesday or Ash Wednesday or Lent was. Our church tradition never mentioned it, and certainly didn't practice the forty days of sacrifice leading up to Easter.

Now that I'm aware, I decided to participate in my first ever Ash Wednesday service yesterday at the Cathedral of the Ascension in Frankfort, Kentucky. The entire ceremony was full of pageantry (by comparison to my simpler church upbringing). It was beautiful and emotional and moving and motivating. Along with all of the other worshippers there, I made my way to the altar to receive the ashes and the eucharist.

As beautiful and humbling as the service and the challenge was, it was the recited prayer that we prayed together that moved me most. While some of the others who recited out of habit repeated the lines while thinking of other, more earthly things, I read them, prayed them, and cried.

So, do as I did this past Ash Wednesday and read these words. Then contemplate them and say them out loud - both to yourself and to God. If you pay attention you'll likely be moved.

Most holy and merciful Father:We confess to you and to one another, and to the whole communion of saints in heaven and on earth, that we have sinned by our own fault in thought, word, and deed; by what we have done, and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart, and mind, and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven others, as we have been forgiven.Have mercy on us, Lord.

We have been deaf to your call to serve, as Christ served us. We have not been true to the mind of Christ. We have grieved your Holy Spirit.Have mercy on us, Lord.

We confess to you, Lord, all our past unfaithfulness: the pride, hypocrisy, and impatience of our lives, We confess to you, Lord.

Our self-indulgent appetites and ways, and our exploitation of other people, We confess to you, Lord.

Our anger at our own frustration, and our envy of those more fortunate than ourselves, We confess to you, Lord.

Our intemperate love of worldly goods and comforts, and our dishonesty in daily life and work, We confess to you, Lord.

Our negligence in prayer and worship, and our failure to commend the faith that is in us, We confess to you, Lord.

Accept our repentance, Lord, for the wrongs we have done: for our blindness to human need and suffering, and our indifference to injustice and cruelty, Accept our repentance, Lord.

For all false judgments, for uncharitable thoughts toward our neighbors, and for our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us, Accept our repentance, Lord.

For our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us, Accept our repentance, Lord.

Restore us, good Lord, and let your anger depart from us; Favorably hear us, for your mercy is great.

Accomplish in us the work of your salvation,That we may show forth your glory in the world.

By the cross and passion of your Son our Lord,Bring us with all your saints to the joy of his resurrection.

Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who desires not the death of sinners, but rather that they may turn from their wickedness and live, has given power and commandment to his ministers to declare and pronounce to his people, being penitent, the absolution and remission of their sins. He pardons and absolves all those who truly repent, and with sincere hearts believe his holy Gospel.

Therefore we beseech him to grant us true repentance and his Holy Spirit, that those things may please him which we do on this day, and that the rest of our life hereafter may be pure and holy, so that at the last we may come to his eternal joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen


I like people with spunk. I know a few light steppers who avoid people with strong personalities, but I think they're missing out on some great fun and adventure. Sometimes I'll stir something up just to watch their eyes squint and their nostrils flare. People like that know how to get things done.

One of my favs is my friend Ann. She's got spunk. I call her my little Jew. She loves it. You've heard it said that friendships formed in the trenches last forever. Ann and I met while taking cover and returning fire in the middle of a political campaign. You don't get much closer to warfare than that. We've spent entire, long days fighting along side each other and made sure to take the time to chill and relax together at the end of the combat. I've shared stuff with her that no one else knows. I trust her that way.

I'm missing my friend these days. She's living in Washington, DC and spends a good part of her life between several countries. Today is her birthday and she seems especially far away. I hope it is a really, really good one for her.



Now that we're in the computer/gadget age and we're able to carry on a full-tilt conversation without ever opening our mouths, we must learn to abbreviate. I carry a BlackBerry. I became addicted after having to use one with my work in the governor's office. Once you reluctantly start using you become a junkie almost immediately. Then you learn to say whole sentences using only parts of words. It's almost a code like language, except so many people do it now it's not really very secret - at least the way a proper code language should be.

Being in politics, we write a lot of thank you notes to folks who contribute to a campaign or give the governor or first lady or even their dog a gift. People who've given money to help us restore the Governor's Mansion received thank you notes from us. We learned in our texting/typing to use the letters "ty" instead of the whole word. Then this great, super, pretty and smart co-worker came into our lives whose name is Ty. That messed everything up. Now we use the letters "tu." I don't mind though because I like Ty. She's one of my bffs now. Today is her bday!! I'll stop now. My spellcheck is getting angry.


rodents and their shadows

I saw an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies one time where this weather expert had developed this super-accurate forecasting system that was fool-proof and accurate to the degree and drop. It was science at its best. But the massive machine was no match for Granny's little beetle bug in a box. The scientist said there'd be no rain. Granny's beetle said there would. So it rained.

He's no beetle in a box, but you have to give it to the little furry creature who makes his annual February 2nd weather prediction every year. Actually, if there's adulation to be given, I'd give it to the folks in Punxsutawney, PA who've made Phil the groundhog's annual appearance from the hole a national spectacular. You know how it works, if he (the animal) sees his shadow we buy more firewood. If he peeks his head up, laughs at the spectacle and goes back to bed we call the AC guy. How cool! Of course, if all other weather forecasters could give the weather word then crawl back into their hole they'd do it the way he does.

This little critter, or one just like him (although the official handlers maintain there has only been one official Phil the groundhog for the last 120 YEARS) has met with a United States president, several governors, been a guest on THE TV TALK SHOW (Tom Cruise wasn't the first person to jump all over Oprah's couch), had movies made about him and even been broadcast in Times Square!

I need his agent...

father jim

I guess we all meet tons of people through the course of our comings and goings everyday. Our work, play, church, sports and other things bring us very close to people we often know nothing or very little about and really sorta just brush 'em on passed us in the name of moving on. BUT, sometimes you meet a person who just fascinates you and becomes a real friend. Several years ago I met Jim Sichko. He's one of the most fun, cool, smart and experienced people I know. He knows so much about so much. Everybody around here knows him as Father Jim of the St. Mark Catholic Church in Richmond. The Pope knows him, but maybe that's because they see things a lot alike. But you don't usually think of a guy in a collar as a sit down friend with peeps like Bill Cosby and Regis Philbin and Howie Mandel and Natalie Cole and Dolly Parton and others. They all like this guy. He's their friend. That's because they know him, and if you know FJ (I like to call him that), you're gonna like him. He's a good friend who I treasure deeply, and today is his birthday. HAPPY BIRTHDAY FJ!!