Springtime in Denver..Yeah Right!

BrrrrThere’s nothing that quite compares with Colorado in the springtime. Beautiful balmy days, the whisper of new life as the birds build their nests and call to each other across the balmy breezes while we, the privileged ones bask in the sunshine and thank our lucky stars that we’re allowed to live here in paradise. NOT!!

Right now, as I look at the thermometer on my balcony, the temperature says 34degrees, it’s snowing, the roofs on all the houses are white, and the squirrel who lives in the tree outside my living room is on the phone with his travel agent trying to book a flight to anywhere he can get warm! Poor little guy…somebody probably told him the weather in Colorado was gonna be perfect and now he has icicles on his little skivvies! Supposedly we’re going to get three feet of snow up in the mountains, oh well…that’s Colorado in the springtime!
imagesThis week, the only thing colder than springtime in Colorado is Cliven Bundy’s political career. Poor Cliven, he went from being Nevada’s number one deadbeat rancher and Fox News political darling, loved and revered by conservatives everywhere, to Nevada’s number one cowboy deadbeat and despised political pest that everyone wishes would just go away…period! The only thing in the universe that might have lower current approval ratings than Cliven, would be the congress of the United States and it’s orange tinted leader (and I use that word loosely,) John Boehner.

This week Boehner, who normally moves about as quickly as glaciers melt, got it in gear and announced a brand new and exciting congressional investigation committee (number 14 I believe) to find out once and for all, what the hell happened at Benghazi and by God, this time we’re gonna get the truth out no matter what! Since I hadn’t seen a proper name given to this committee and since Republicans were jumping all over this puppy to raise some money, and in a charitable effort to boost Cliven Bundy’s tanking political ratings, I decided to name it the; ClivenBundyLatest&GreatestBenghaziPoliticalInvestigationSubCommitteeHearing&PoliticalFundraiser or, CBL&GBPISCH&PFR for short! Kind of makes your heart flutter doesn’t it?

McCain1Unfortunately, this week, another case of political heartburn came screaming to the surface when it was revealed that returning Vets who needed, and had been promised, prompt medical treatment were being caught up on the endless treadmill of red tape, denial and delay that seems to occur all too often at various branches of our VA. Unfortunately for some, one of the most egregious examples of this neglect was revealed in Arizona and the Senator from Arizona who promptly got himself up in front of a TV camera to vent his rage was non other than our past presidential candidate, John McCain.

I don’t know about everyone else but John McCain always reminds me somewhat of Mr. Magoo, the nearsighted cartoon character who spends his life falling off tall buildings and marching into oncoming traffic only to be saved by chance or circumstance or whatever else comes along that saves people from things like that! Whatever it is, it’s Karma and McCain seems to have plenty of it! Can he do anything about the sorry situation at the VA? I doubt it. Will he make a lot of noise before marching into an open elevator shaft? No Doubt! Will that be the last we’ll see or hear of him? Probably not, …and the beat goes on!

One last thing. I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has shown an interest, or sent a check to help cover me and my music practitioner expenses while I try to bring some brighter days musically to those who could really use them. Thanks gang! I really appreciate your efforts!

To make a 501(c)3 tax free donation to help Rod Taylor play therapeutic, healing music for needy folks, please mail your check to;

Our Musical Heritage
C/O Denver Musicians Association
1165 Delaware St.
Denver, CO 80204-3607

At the bottom of your check in the memo line, please write, Rod Taylor CMP fund.

That’s it! Have a great week everybody! Send me those comments and critiques. If I can use them I certainly will.

Thanks again,
Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 5/14/2014 4:22 AM

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Veterans, Hurry Up and Wait!

imagesfilesSo here it is, the beautiful month of May, springtime in all it’s glory. Finally, it’s time to put away the parkas and snow shovels and heavy clothes and drag out the cutoffs and Jimmy Buffet shirts and begin thinking about all things summer!

As I said in my most recent post, this summer I have decided to put my brand new Certified Music Practitioner certificate to work somewhere I think it will do the most good and let the money end of things take care of themselves….sort of.

The “somewhere you think it will do the most good” part isn’t too hard to find. It’s in every hospital in this town and all the other towns where those who need your help the most, can afford it the least. While we’re at it, why not stop by and take a look at the Veterans Administration where a great many of our nations young men and women started their adult lives doing the honorable thing by signing up to serve their country in combat on foreign soil. Now, following those nightmarish years, they spend long hours cooped up with with their combat buddies in some stark, bare room on little rickety folding chairs in an overburdened VA hospital waiting for treatment to aid their recovery from battle scars they certainly didn’t ask for.

imagessoldierPlease don’t get me wrong, I’m not dogging the VA. It’s just that your heart breaks when you see all these people looking for an answer from overworked and sometimes underpaid staffers who quite frankly, may not have much of an answer to give. The old phrase, “war is hell” is just as true now as it’s ever been, and the fact that a great many people, veterans included, eventually turn to their musical instrument of choice in order to give vent to their feelings is no accident. It’s been going on for centuries! Music is funny that way!

As most of you know, down through the ages, even biblical times, music has has been looked upon as a healing tool. Kind of a metaphysical escape hatch to soothe the mind and ease the pain when reality feels like it just might be a little too heavy a load for one person to carry. Classical composers used music to unburden their hearts and it’s been going on forever as a balm, a soothing salve to cover emotional scars and we all use it today in different ways to carry us away momentarily from problems we’re just not quite ready to look in the face.

This brings me to the present moment and why I chose this particular direction to try to bring healing music to many folks who need it, can’t afford it, and what you might be able to do to help me change that.

My decision to try to bring music to these people was met with the same old money problem that’s been around ever since time began. If I hired on with a medical facility who could afford me, would I be maximizing my training? Or, looking at it the other way, if I maximized my training, would I go broke playing in places that can’t afford me? Here’s the answer I came up with;

I’m asking all my friends out there who know of someone in a hospital right now or someone who is having a rough time overcoming the traumatic experience of combat to dig down and help a little bit. No, you don’t have to take out a second mortgage on the house or sell your car, but if you have a few bucks you can spare to help cover the costs of helping these folks get back on their feet and get a fresh start, it sure would be appreciated.

To make a 501(c)3 tax free donation to help Rod Taylor play therapeutic, healing music for needy folks, please mail your check to;

Our Musical Heritage
C/O Denver Musicians Association
1165 Delaware St.
Denver, CO 80204-3607

At the bottom of your check in the memo line, please write, Rod Taylor CMP fund.

That’s it! Have a great week everybody! Send me those comments and critiques. If I can use them I certainly will.

Thanks again,
Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 5/7/2014 4:48 AM

A Change is Gonna Come!

MusisiswhatFSL5“A change is gonna come,” is a song released into the music marketplace fifty years ago in 1964 by singer-songwriter, Mr. Sam Cooke. If Mr. Cooke could still be with us, I believe some folks today might say the change he’s talking about is ‘way overdue and needs to get a move on! Since we’re talking about changes, this might be the time and place for me to write about a few changes of my own.

As you may recall, I recently graduated a course provided by an organization entitled MHTP in order to become a Certified Music Practitioner. My graduation was a welcome thing simply because I have an intense problem with books and boredom and although I may not have Attention Deficit Disorder, I’m close enough to it to have shaken hands with it a few times!

Graduation created some problems for me. Not that I wasn’t ready to go out and apply for work, it’s just that all the time I had been studying to become a CMP, I had also been quite diligent in building up a very nice, stable clientele in the local retirement communities where I work as a seniors entertainer! Not only that, but I have become friends with a good number of these folks and giving up on them now, in order to begin something new is just not cool! It would be a stab in the back to those folks who have become friends and are there every time I show up. I just can’t do that!
imagesvetThe problem seemed to manifest itself in two important ways. Time and money. The time problem was obvious. Everyone I spoke with who could possibly use me even on a part time basis, also wanted to put me on call in case they needed me to fill a slot for someone. The problem with that idea was that it would cut into my retirement community schedule and I have already stated how I felt about that.

The second problem is money. Everywhere I have been, people have expressed a need for therapy music in a “healing” mode, especially Vets and those suffering PTSD. The problem is, finding facilities with the money to pay for it! In the small segment of Denver I have managed to cover, the story is almost universal, those who need it the most can afford it the least! This led me down the long, twisty, “Wizard of OZ” path looking for the wiz, only my wizard isn’t the guy behind the curtain, my wiz is called MONEY and the never ending lack of it!

The solution to my problem came, as they have many times, from a totally unexpected source.

I was at the Musicians Union office moaning and groaning to the president, Mr. Pete Vriesenga, about my woes and seeking advice about what it might take to start a 501(c)3 non profit organization. This would be necessary in order to legally solicit tax free donations from outside sources that would provide me with enough income to apply my teachings where I felt they would help the most and do the most good. His answer was short, simple, and and to the point.

“Forget about starting your own non profit organization. The Union already has a 501(c)3 entitled “Our Musical Heritage” with all the necessary filing done and office backup already in place!” Start here and if you’re successful, someday you can set up your own. You know, sometimes life does throw you an ace or two, and I can’t thank Pete and the Union enough for jumping in, and for all they’ve done!

So, this is me for the first time in my life publicly coming out and asking for money in order to play my music to help and heal. I’m doing this for those who can’t afford it and can really, really use it. No doubt you will hear about this from me until you’re sick of it, but all I can do is ask, and so here goes;

If you would like to make a 501(c)3 tax free donation to help Rod Taylor play therapeutic, healing music for needy folks, please mail your check to;

Our Musical Heritage
C/O Denver Musicians Association
1165 Delaware St.
Denver, CO 80204-3607

At the bottom of your check in the memo line, please write, Rod Taylor CMP fund.

That’s it! Have a great week everybody! Send me those comments and critiques. If I can use them I certainly will.

Thanks again
Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 4/30/2014 5:43 AM

Graduation Time!

imagesgraduationFor some, saying it’s Graduation time might be pushing it a little, but for me, it’s just about right! It actually happened! I finally graduated the course I’ve been wading through for the last couple of years and now, I get to put into practice those things I thought I already knew and probably didn’t!

Naturally, as my Grandkids might say, “What did you have to graduate from Grandpa Rod? You told us you already knew everything there was to know about everything! Grandkids are so gullible!

Maybe I didn’t quite know everything about everything before a couple of years ago. Before then, I had never heard of anything called a Certified Music Practitioner or a hospital using a guitarist playing calming music in their pre-op area to help relieve patients’ anxiety over an upcoming procedure. All that and and the comfort of feeling that yes, you are in a safe, caring environment where people do want you to be relaxed and feel the best you possibly can! Not only are musicians being made use of in pre-op areas, I got to experience it very quickly during my internship in ICU and Cardiac and Emergency as well as the one on one contact with patients in their rooms prior to, or following, surgical procedures. Many thanks to the good folks at North Suburban Hospital in Thornton and Adventist Hospital in Parker for allowing me to do so!

image001As I drew closer to graduation, a friend of mine sent me this little sign that is an awesome use of music to describe people’s feelings and it’s true! Music has that way of affecting feelings and changing a mood, making things seem not quite so harsh, or maybe making the road not quite so long and steep. Music is what feelings sound like, and I want to take my hat off to the person who came up with that expression. No one ever said it better!

Recently I substituted on the band at the Lakewood Elks and the bandleader, a nice guy named Steve Patterson asked me if I would consider playing my music for returning Vets coming back from military duty. Lakewood Elks is very involved in that kind of thing. Not only caring for returning Vets but they have other programs like trying to help them rehab and rejoin their place in society as well. How can that be? We take young men and women, tear them away from their families and those they hold dear, send them over to foreign lands to fight for our freedom, bring them home and cast them aside like a worn out pair of sneakers to fend for themselves? That’s not fair folks!

Not only that, Steve tells me that Lakewood Elks has a program where they feed a good many homeless Vets every month! How can that be? How can we possibly abandon Veterans who have served our country and fought for our freedom as though they didn’t matter? Meanwhile we’ve got politicians struttng around with their chests puffed out talking about all the wonderful programs they have for veterans and what a great job Congress is doing for those who have served? I think not! Thank the good Lord that we have places like Lakewood Elks who have opened their doors and their hearts to do the work our government has neglected to do! I guess it’s kind of like the old saying, “if you want something done, sometimes you have to do it yourself!”

So, here we go. I already have a friend who calls me “Hospital Hank” and I’ve got that old Silhouettes song, “Get a Job lah de dah dah,” ringing in my ears as I begin the long process of auditions and interviews while I try to find a place to fit in. Odd as it may sound, there aren’t too many hospital folks standing on street corners shouting “Hey, we need music practitioners over here!” But, you never know, someday you may end up in one of those yourself to fix a hangnail or something. If a homely old Canadian toting a guitar shows up, asking if you might like to hear a little healing music, please be kind OK?

As usual, send me your comments and critiques. I’ll read them all and use them if I can.

Thanks again,
Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 3/5/2014 5:42 AM

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DALLAS!!

Well he’s not very handsome to look at
Oh he’s shaggy and he eats like a hog
And he’s always killin’ my chickens
That dirty old egg suckin’ Dog

Johnny Cash from the Album “Live At Folsom Prison”

On this blog, we’ve paid tribute to some special characters in the past, but this week our special character is a 91 year old (in doggy years) dog named Dallas. Dallas turns 13 this month which by my calculations, officially makes him 91. Since they have this big “Hall of Fame” for professional football players, I wonder why they don’t have a Hall of Fame for Mom’s, or even doggy mascots at retirement communities? If they did, I believe Dallas would come in at the top of the heap with no problem at all. I’ve never seen an animal more loved by everyone in a community and he’s also the only mascot I’ve ever known who’s been officially banned from his mascot duties for some kind of infraction. He’s had his ups and downs but that’s probably another story for another day!

Egg suckin’ dog
I’m gonna stomp your head in the ground
If you don’t stay out of my hen-house
You dirty old egg suckin’ hound

There’s something about animals in retirement communities that somehow just always seems right. Usually, they’re a little bit older and just like the seniors they hang out with, move a little bit slower. Still, that doesn’t mean their mind has slowed any, only their navigational equipment! Dallas is no exception to this rule. It’s true, he moves a little slower but that just means he’s getting the most out of every step! When he walks into a room, nothing goes to waste! Somehow he instinctively knows where the food is, and he’s not going to miss even one little crumb! He’s a doggy vacuum cleaner! I’ll say it again, you’ve just got to love a dog like that!

Egg Suckin’ dog
You’re always hangin’ around
But you’d better stay out of my hen house
You dirty old egg suckin’ hound

So there you have it. Happy Birthday Dallas, and many more. I hope everybody at Heritage Lakewood is as happy for you as I am and I hope your owner Brenda, has some special doggy treats ready for you to celebrate your birthday. 91 years old today? You’re almost as old as my piano player buddy Pete down in Colorado Springs! On top of that, you’re probably better lookin’ so you deserve it!

As usual folks, send me your critiques and comments. If I can use them and they’re not X rated, you know I will!

Thanks again,
Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 11/6/2013 6:29 AM

You Meet Some of the Strangest People!!

In my Retirement Community entertainment travels, I’ve had occasion to meet some fairly “unique” individuals but this one was provided to me by my friend Rick Chinisci from one of the engagements he played recently at “The Gardens at Columbine.” The lady in question is our mutual friend, Heidi Marino.

Actually, there’s nothing strange about Heidi at all. She’s one of many bright, hardworking, dedicated, activities directors (coordinators) throughout our city who constantly look for new and unique ways to educate, inform and keep things fresh for the seniors at their respective retirement facilities and doing a fantastic job of it!

In her search to keep things fun and interesting, Heidi is always looking around for a different “theme” idea. I never did hear what the theme for this particular program was, so maybe it had something to do with “Wooly Worms” or some other crawly creatures or maybe they were just getting ready for Halloween. Ya think?

People who are in the same occupation as Heidi, working in retirement communities around our city need big hug and a huge “Thank You” from all of us who know seniors or are close to them in any way. We all know (or should know) that as people grow older, it’s very easy to get into just going about your daily routine without exercising your brain or your body and sometimes these things require a little outside stimulation. Heidi and her cohorts all over town spend a good portion of every day working at defeating the humdrum of daily living and creating unique ways of making sure seniors stay active and curious. Hey, that’s what keeps folks alive and happy and makes the wheels keep on turning right?

I remember as a kid, sitting in my Grandmother’s living room, watching her with a little “button box” accordion she had, trying to find the right notes to “The Old Folks at Home” or some other Stephen Foster tune, and encouraging me to learn to play the piano because it was good for my brain and besides, it would keep me out of trouble!

That little accordion still sits on the mantle of my fireplace today and in my mind, I can still see her fumbling around, trying to figure those songs out and realize how that ongoing battle with music worked like a brain teaser that helped keep her sharp which she was almost to the time she passed away. Naturally, I was far too brilliant for the piano and took up a real brain twister like the banjo instead, which led to rock and roll, which led to the guitar, and that’s another story for another day!

To Heidi and all the wonderful people up and down the Colorado front range who do what you do, what I really want to say to all of you is a huge, huge, Thank You! Many times your work goes unappreciated and people quite often don’t say Thank You, enough. Whether you’re dreaming up special field trips, dressing up like Wooly Worms, or all the special brain teaser games you play, you make life fun for the seniors you serve and that’s no small thing! For myself, I have benefited greatly by getting to know you and entertain for you. That experience has made every day a richer day for me!

As usual, send me your critiques and comments. I’ll read them all and, if I can use them, I certainly will.

Thanks again,
Rod

Posted by All Around Seniors at 10/30/2013 3:42 AM

This Land is Your Land ….

“This land is your land This land is my land

From California to the New York island;
From the red wood forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and Me.”

Those lyrics were written by a man named Woody Guthrie 73 years ago. Considering the political chaos our country is currently enduring, they were never more important and prophetic than they are today!

Woodrow Wilson Guthrie was born in Okemah Oklahoma, in July of 1912. Little did he know that what he wrote about as a young man would be lessons it seems we all still need to take time to learn and possibly relearn. Indeed, I think if Guthrie was still around and forced to listen to the political bilge du jour coming out of Washington DC over immigration reform, headstart programs for kids, huge cuts in food stamp programs for the poor while giving tax cuts to the wealthy, he might have rewritten the closer line to his tune and dedicated it to the socially privileged so that it goes………… “This Land was made for me not You!”

Woody Guthrie was a hero of mine growing up, (along with Bob Wills, John Steinbeck, Art Buchwald, Louis Armstrong, Willie Nelson, and about a zillion others!) If I had to admit the truth, I imagine the political values I parade around with today are all bits and pieces of theirs, and it cuts me to the core to see Washington politicians, (those paragons of moral and ethical virtue) acting like schoolyard bullies for their handlers, attempting in their most self serving manner, to tear apart those values we hold near and dear!

Ideally, everyone has a picture in their mind of how a Democracy ought to work, and no doubt Guthrie did as well. Opposing sides come together to thrash out the pros and cons of an issue and after the dust settles, finally come to an agreeable conclusion which, if they dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s, becomes the law of the land right? Sounds like a solution until somebody or something with a lot of money steps into the picture and says “No no, that doesn’t work for me and here’s a few million dollars to make you see things my way.” (The few million dollars is like the thirty pieces of silver after inflation!)

Now we get to the part that’s really scary and would probably have Guthrie spinning in his grave!

Like a slithering invisible snake, the money begins to slide into the pockets and wrap itself around the brains of those politicians who probably were never all that wild about having a black man as president in the first place! (Even though they wont admit it!) They really don’t give a damn about Bin Laden or Qaddafi or scaring the pants off Assad or talking disarmament with Iran for the first time in 30 years or anything else Obama’s done! On top of that, the whole idea of Universal Health Care is just Socialism, plain and simple which ought to prove that he wasn’t born here in the first place! It needs to be stopped dead in it’s tracks! Besides, when Mitt Romney did it, it was OK but that was different! On top of that, politicians’ health care is already paid for by the government so……… “This land was made for me, to hell with you!”

And so we approach the abyss. We’ve plunged through craziness on our way to insanity and poor old John Boehner looks like he’s drinking his tanning lotion rather than rubbing it on his little body! The doors of government are getting ready to slam shut as all kinds of entities we normally take for granted prepare to shut ‘er down. Even parts of FEMA which was almost the last hope for some of our flood victims here in Colorado are SOL until we solve our problems. Sleep well Woody. It’s not your fault we’ve got this thing all screwed up.

RIP my friend, some day we’ll all sing “This Land is Your Land, This Land is my Land”…. again.

As usual send me your critiques and comments. I’ll be sure to read them and use them if I can.

Thanks again,

Rod
Posted by All Around Seniors at 10/1/2013 3:17 PM