ilivetodayav

The High Deserts Social Network Blog…

LOVE CRAZY

I mentioned in one of my recent blogs how the redwoods at Miur Woods had spiritually affected me.  But I found out during the same trip that I could have similar feelings in other ways.

My son, David, and I also visited two beautiful churches in San Francisco, one a Catholic cathedral, Saint Peter and Paul, and Grace Cathedral that was Episcopalian.  They were both truly impressive.  I was pleased to find out that Saint Peter and Paul was a Salesian church.  I was amazed to find out the original church had been built in 1889, but burned down to the ground during the earthquake of 1906.  The present church was rebuilt soon after a block away.  St John Bosco, the founder of the Salesian Catholic order, died in Turin, Italy, in 1888.  My uncle, Father Peter Mayerhofer, attended the seminary at Turin founded by the saintly priest about the same time.  He returned a few years later to his home in Bavaria, Germany, to visit his parents, and returned to Italy with his younger brother, Simon, my father, to the same school in 1888, where he received his formal education.  The Salesians, being a missionary order, sent my uncle to Morelia, Michoacán, Mexico where my father soon followed and became a professor of languages at the same mission school and college.  It was there he met and married my mother, Maria Maseda, a college teacher at the girl’s section of the mission.  During the Civil war in Mexico, leaders like Zapata and Poncho Villa began killing priests and nuns, so my uncle disguised as a policeman escaped the country into the USA.  My mother and father with their newborn child, Celia, followed him to our country.  Father Peter built and was the first pastor of Corpus Christi Church in Port Chester, NY, which remains as beautiful today as it was when it was built in the late 1920s.

Sorry, I got off track–David and I then went to Telegraph Hill where we viewed Coit Tower, very impressive.  While there I saw large wall paintings done by different artists during the ‘30s depression, similar to the one done at our post office in my hometown of Port Chester, NY.  Carefully perusing them I realized one of artists had done both, one on each coast.  Continuing our tour of the city, we went down a strange street, and if I remember correctly, it was called “Crooked Street.”  That was an adventure and quite picturesque.  Only San Francisco could have a street like that.  Of course we went to Nob Hill, where it occurred to me I had stayed at a major hotel there about 50 years ago when I was with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians. That was during my old trombone playing days.  We parked the car and walked up and down the hilly streets for a while.  The only thing I remember about that side excursion was the pain in the back of my legs and thighs that remained the next couple of days.

But the other revelation and almost spiritual experience of the trip was revealed to me after we had eaten dinner the final evening of our trip.  David was a terrific traveling partner who liked eating at the finest restaurants.  He could find Five Star restaurants on my iPad, that were worth every cent.  But I always had a nagging feeling of guilt because Shirley always conserved money by eating at less sophisticated (cheaper) restaurants, where we were perfectly content.  After I paid the $62 bill for a “specialized” type of Italian cuisine, “Spaghetti and Meatballs,” we left and walked towards an outdoor shopping center.

As we approached the stores, David asked, “Have you ever been to a Container store?   What’s that? I asked.  He looked up and pointed in the direction we were headed and said, “That type of store.”  Directly in front of us was a store with a large sign I had never seen or heard of before, CONTAINER STORE.  The instant we walked in I knew we were in another world, breathtaking and new.  I didn’t know what direction to go first, but it didn’t make a difference.  I suddenly felt like a kid in a toy factory where not only did I run wild but my imagination did, too.  Could my heart take such excitement at age 81?  By this time my head wasn’t screwed on right so it made no difference as I lurched from one aisle to another in total delirium. It was instant love!  Boxes of every type and style, tubular hangers, stacking boxes up to the sky, traveling trunks once known as steamer trunks, mindful of those on the Titanic, dream closets that Shirley, my wife, would have left me just to live in.  To his embarrassment David had to drag me out of the store kicking and screaming.  I was banned from CONTAINER STORES for life.  Not only was it a traumatic event, it was another spiritual experience.  I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same.

Felixchildrenstories.com

July 15, 2011 Posted by | Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals | , | Leave a comment

NEVER TOO OLD TO LEARN

When I retired at age 60 I was struck by an idea about a boy and his dog.  Without any prior experience or true knowledge about writing, I started jotting down my newly inspired thoughts in a yellow pad, not realizing my third career as an author had begun.   I had been a professional musician for 13 years, then a school band director for 27, now an author for 21 years.  What transpired during these years I’ve been writing has been an incredible learning experience.

It didn’t take me long to realize I was a real beginner and had a long way to go before I could consider myself a “true” writer.  I joined an author critique almost from the beginning and that’s where my education began.  Besides that I had teacher friends read my story who diplomatically suggested what I could do to become a better writer.  My wife Shirley also played an important early role in my development.  I asked her to read my first story as I wanted her praise like a little boy.  Thinking I wanted her to edit it she made a few changes to my “precious” story that slightly annoyed me.  But by the end of the second story I realized she had a natural talent as a children’s editor, as her changes were invaluable.  I never again responded negatively to her suggestions, in fact I looked forward to reading them.

Not reacting well to rejections of my first stories from insipid young editors straight out of college working for major publishers, I lost interest in being published.  I was so into writing my stories I couldn’t be bothered wasting time writing query letters and sending out manuscripts.   During the next two decades I wrote38 children stories and one novel.

I received a small inheritance from my deceased sister Adeline Grote, and Shirley convinced me to use the money to self-publish my novel, “Diary of a Young Musician, Final Days of the Big Band Era (felixmayerhofer.com).”  Entering the world of self-publishing would open new ways of having my book read.  A small publisher who arranged book signings at Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other stores picked up the book.  A disastrous Indiana flood wiped out the company and it went bankrupt.  I found a small self-publisher, Fideli Publishing, who has been of incredible assistance.  Shirley thought I should also publish a few of my children’s stories and I luckily found illustrator John MacFarlane, who was an animator for Disney, Spielberg and other major studios.  After collaborating on four books John and I have become close friends.

One of my former band students, Susie Christiansen, internationally known school band and orchestra composer, now working for Disney, loved my stories and made the suggestion I should sell them on a website.   So I spoke to my son David who began creating and building a huge website for me, while Shirley and I spent four months updating and editing all 38 stories.  We worked beautifully together and it was a complete success.  David suggested we hire a professional narrator to record seven or eight of the stories and that I should record one or two myself, as children loved to hear authors narrate their own stories.  I found a small microphone from my old “Mac” and recorded “Horace the Great, Harmonica King.” It was a total disaster, like a kid playing a trumpet the first time.  I kept on working at it the next few weeks and was ready to give up, but Shirley had other ideas.  She gave me a professional microphone and interface for Christmas and I was trapped!  There was no turning back.  I began practicing about four to five hours a day for the next two months.  When I thought the story was good enough I googled it to David.  His honest response was, “It’s bad, Dad!”  After two weeks I sent it to him again and his response was the same. Not daunted, I practiced three more weeks and with trepidation sent it again.  This time his reaction was different.   He wrote back, “Fantastic!”  I sent a different story two weeks later and his answer was the same. Since I was on a role I did a third and received the same positive response.   David phoned and said he didn’t think it would be necessary to hire a professional narrator and I should do the next four or five myself.

I would spend about four hours recording in the morning and did a little writing in the afternoon as I was still inspired with new ideas.  When I had completed recording ten stories I decided to do ten more. When I finished 20, I went for 30.  Why stop there!  Even though I was tired with pressure mounting, I completed the 38th.  It took me a year to complete the task.  If I remember correctly Shirley and I went out for dinner to celebrate.  In the midst of doing the recordings Shirley thought we should have John MacFarlane illustrate a cover for all 38, as they would make a better selling point on our website.  It was a brilliant idea on her part because it would pay off a couple of years later, but in an entirely different and new element.

The website, Felix the Storyteller, housed my novel, all my children’s stories, blogs, a gallery of John’s 38 illustrations, and my Bookstore where four of my stories were sold including my novel.  I made sales but not as many as I thought it would.  The problem was I really didn’t know how to use the internet to my advantage and wouldn’t for a couple of years.  About a year ago Robin Surface, my publisher, said there were new avenues available on the internet to sell my books.  Since all the stories had covers, thanks to Shirley, they were accepted by Kindle,Nook, iPad,SonySmashwords.com, and a variety of others   A few months later Jim Greenleaf  of ilivetodayav and his brilliant young production manager, Ben Andrews, introduced me to Socialnomics, which is using social-networking to increase your Internet foot-print and social reach in order to drive more traffic to your website or through the front door of your business.   Within three months of taking private lessons from Ben, the sales of my eBooks increased, and three months later they doubled.  Being older I found it difficult at the beginning to understand and learn the many new concepts to which I was introduced.  You’re never too old to learn.

The entire venture has been a family enterprise, with Shirley, David, and I all major contributors.  It continues to this day but without Shirley who has passed away.  David recently placed my new audio CD, FELIX THE STORYTELLER, with all 38 stories in my Bookstore

http://audiochildrensbooks.com/felixs-bookstore

June 2, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

DR. SEUSS DAY AT OCOTILLO SCHOOL

DR. SEUSS DAY AT OCOTILLO SCHOOL

What a great time I had today.  It’s moments like this that makes life worth living.  I read to a wonderful third class at Ocotillo School in the Palmdale School District in Palmdale CA, where the teacher, Lyn Jacobson, made it so easy for me.  The educational atmosphere was obvious the instant I walked in, and was sustained the entire time I was there.  This was obviously a highly motivated group

It was Dr. Seuss Day at Ocotillo School where I had been invited to read.  All the adult readers met in the auditorium a half hour before we began, where a child from each class was there to welcome and escort us to their respective classrooms.  Already seated at the table in the auditorium munching on breakfast when I arrived, was my 21-year-old instructor, Ben Andrews, who’s been instilling in me in the secrets of promoting my books on the internet, called ilivetoday Antelope Valley.  He was there to video my class reading so it would be on YouTube in the near future.

I spent a few minutes telling the young people about my three careers, professional trombonist, school band director and an author. I particularly stressed my last one as an author that began when I was 60 years old after I retired.  I spoke about the importance of writing and how it would improve their performance as students.  I didn’t want to get too heavy with them so at that point I began my book, “Horace the Great, Harmonica King.”  I introduced the book by speaking about John MacFarlane, my illustrator, an animator by trade, who had recently worked with Disney on his movie, “The Princes and the Frog.”  He also had done “Curious George,” for Stephen Spielberg.

As I began reading and Ben Andrews was shooting my performance, Lyn Jacobson, the teacher, came up front and held a copy of my book in the air showing the children the illustrations as I read the story.  I stopped once and while to emphasize something in the story, and the kids volunteered their own comments making them participants in my reading.

When I finished, a few of the children asked questions but it wasn’t until Ms. Jacobson made a couple of brilliant suggestions that immediately inspired many of the children to raise their hands.  After a spirited session, I thanked them all before departing.  Needless to say I left on a high.  Can you think of a better way to start a day?

May 12, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

THERE’S LIFE AFTER DEATH

Even though my wife Shirley had been in failing health, I was surprised when she broke her hip and died of pneumonia seven days after a hip replacement.  It was probably the most devastating and traumatic experience of my life.  I had been taking care of her the previous year, but luckily Wheels On Wheels delivered our meals, as I didn’t know how to cook.  She wasn’t functioning well and had trouble remembering the recipes, even her favorite dishes, but was able to show me how to use the microwave oven, and the washer and dryer.   I was grateful for that.  After Shirley passed away, our son David cooked a couple of chicken dinners while I observed, so at least I wouldn’t be totally destitute with my newfound knowledge.  I was a complete stranger to the kitchen.  I do much better now, I know where to look for the sugar.

 

About a week after Shirley passed away, I went to the Senior Center in Palmdale to eat, where I found the seniors and employees to be very pleasant people.  I would spend a couple of hours there, and when I went home, the rest of the day was long and lonely.  To fill in the gap I picked up my trombone after not having played for 50 years.  When I was playing professionally, I had a serious case of Bells palsy that caused a partial paralysis of the muscles around my lips.  Luckily, I had a teacher’s degree and became a school band director.  Holding the trombone in my hands after all those years was like being back with an old friend, but it turned on me and wouldn’t cooperate.  For three months I spent hours trying to play but to no avail.  I sadly put the trombone away.  At the same time I was trying to sell my books on the Internet with the help of my publisher but with little success.  I craved to do something creative to fill in the void, and for some strange reason I chose the chromatic harmonica to be my new partner.  As I soon found out this type of harmonica with a lever on the side turned out to be incredibly difficult to learn.  It took me about six months of hard practice to find out if I could really play the instrument.  When my playing began to flow more naturally, I concluded I could.  I then set goals for the next six months, and that included upgrading my harp, as the harmonica is called.  I played ballads well, but I wanted to play jazz.  To acquire the technique needed to play good jazz, I had to be patient, even at my age.  I’ll continue to set goals and hope I’ ll eventually play jazz again.

 

I found that I still had too much time on my hands to think about Shirley, so I began going to different schools to read my books and talk to kids.  Being a kid myself I loved doing that.

 

To learn how to sell my 38 children eBooks and my novel “Diary of a Young Musician, Final Days of the Big Band Era,” on the Internet, I began studying Socialnomics.  Socialnomics is social networking that increases my Internet footprint and reach, in order to drive more traffic to my websites (Felixchildrenstories.com, and felixmayerhofer.com).  Jim Greenleaf, owner of ilivetodayav where I took my lessons, is located in Blvd Today Café, a part of King’s Photo Supply in Lancaster, CA.  My studies have been a success.  Part of the course is what I’m doing right now, writing blogs.

 

Mario Grossi, a former band student from years back and close friend, owns Grossi’s Musical Instrument Repair Shop in Lancaster, CA ((661) 618-7718).  He asked if I wanted to be his partner in selling and renting new and used band and orchestra instruments to children beginning in school music programs.  I agreed without hesitation, as it was right up my alley.  I love it and it’s working out well.  Besides, it gives me a chance to hang out with Mario and John French, both hilarious.

 

The most relaxing time the past 20 months has been my weekly visits to Shirley at Desert Lawn Cemetery.  I carry a folding beach chair in my car and talk to her for about a half hour, where I relate the events of the week.  There are times I sense she’s with me, and advises me about problems or decisions that confront me.  More than once I’ve changed my mind right on the spot.  The location is so relaxing I hate to leave.  The cemetery workers recognize my car and wave at me as they pass by or talk to me.

 

I begin my day by praying for a while, and then walk almost three miles after breakfast.  Shirley had us begin this routine the day after we returned from our honeymoon and continued for 50 years.  I highly recommend both.

 

Felixchildrenstories.com

Felixmayerhofer.com

May 11, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

NEW LIFE FOR MY BOOKS USING SOCIALNOMICS

Last week I was video taped describing my book, “Diary of a Young Musician, Final Days of the Big Band Era.”  I never dreamt a few months ago I’d be selling my novel and my children’s books to the world over the internet with such incredible success.

 

Last December, my business partner, Mario Grossi of Mario’s Music and I, had just come out of the Lancaster Performing Arts Center.  We saw a new business, Blvdtoday Café, had opened across the street in the same premise as Kings Photo Supply.  When we entered, I met my old friend Jim Greenleaf, owner of ilivetodayav, who taught Socialnomics, which is using social-networking to increase your Internet foot-print and social reach in order to drive more traffic to your website or through the front door of your business. 

 

I became interested in learning more about Socialnomics after Jim explained in detail what it entailed, so I immediately enrolled.  I began studying with both Jim and his brilliant Production Manager, Ben Andrews, who with their instructions enabled me to drive more traffic to my book websites in a few weeks than during the previous two years. . 

 

Besides the many millions who can now view my websites, felixchildrenstories.com, and felixmayerhofer.com , Jim and Ben have video-taped me describing each of my four children books, and now “Diary of a Young Musician, “ that can be seen on YouTube.  But working on a larger scale, Ben’s fine camera work also caught me talking and reading my children’s book, “Horace the Great Harmonica King,” to a third grade class at Ocotillo Elementary School in Palmdale, CA.  The three videos can be seen on YouTube, too.

 

I highly recommend ilivetodayav.  Jim Greenleaf can be contacted by telephone (661) 948-8442, or his email address, ilivetodayjg@gmail.com.

May 6, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | 1 Comment

PREPARING TO BECOME A MUSIC EDUCATOR

During my 32 years as a music educator, I realized that many people including a few teachers and administrators had no idea what a “true” music educator was, and what it entailed to become one.  I hope this article will be of enlightenment to you.

As a youngster in my late teens and during my twenties, I was privileged to have studied with the first trombonists of the CBS Symphony in New York City and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  I studied for one year at Juilliard School of Music in New York City, and then joined the Ina Ray Hutton Band, with whom I was a participant in a big band movie short.  The following years I worked on TV shows, recorded with name bands, and of course played for numerous radio shows, which were called “remotes.”  During those early years, I traveled thousands of miles doing “one nighters” throughout the country as a dance band musician.  I was a professional!

At the age of 25 while “on the road,” I decided to go to college.  I luckily chose the State University of New York at Potsdam (formerly known as Potsdam State Teacher’s College) in upper New York State, considered the most reputable school in the East for Music Educators.  When I entered school I had no idea what the word “Music Educator” really meant.

At this time in my career, I had built a small reputation, and was recognized by a few of the students and professors the day I enrolled at Potsdam.  My glory as a minor celebrity was short lived!  The only thing I knew how to do was to play the trombone, as did my fellow students on their respective instruments.  As I, they also had a good working knowledge of their instruments, as well as piano majors.  These students had been well trained by “Music Educators” at their respective public schools or by private teachers.  All of us had put in many hours and years of practice beginning at a young age. 

The purpose of the school was to show us how to play all the instruments, including strings, learn how to harmonize written melodies, compose simple compositions, conduct, have ear training, and LEARN HOW TO TEACH.  We were taught to sing and breathe properly, how to direct choirs and worked “hands on” in campus school classrooms from kindergarten up.  Each semester we took private lessons on a different instrument supplied by the school to get a working knowledge of each, and then performed a recital before the faculty for a grade.  We were required to play in a beginning band and stringed orchestra with the instruments we were studying at the time.  The professors at the rehearsals pointed out the inherent problems of each instrument, so we’d know what trouble spots to be aware of when we began our teaching careers.  At this time they taught us how to use the proper embouchures (lip positions), to bow properly, and to sit and stand correctly so that our students would not develop bad playing, breathing, and singing habits.  Bad habits are hard to break once you’ve acquired them.  It’s the same with ballet dancers and ice skaters.  Our professors also related many of their personal public school experiences when they’d been teachers.  We were given the opportunity to conduct a concert band with a prepared score, which was of invaluable training.  It truly got me ready for student teaching and my first instrumental job.

While we were absorbing and learning all this material, we continued to study our own major instrument.  The reeds of the woodwinds were sometimes rough on my trombone lips.  We were also taught how to deal with teachers, administrators, custodians, secretaries, and how to write letters of application for a job, for which I was forever grateful.  At the same time we took the liberal arts courses required to graduate college, which were coordinated with the music education program.  We did our practice teaching in different communities away from college at the elementary, junior high, and high school levels during the entire second semester of our third year of school.  Besides receiving my B.S. in music education, I was also qualified to teach K-9 as a regular classroom teacher, which I eventually did for four years.  I later received my Master of Arts degree.

After I graduated college, I again continued my travels on the road.  With the fine vocal training I had received at Potsdam, I toured with a professional vocal group throughout the country and performed at the Tropicana Hotel in Las Vegas.  After again working with numerous big bands, I was asked to play first trombone with Fred Waring and the Pennsylvanians, a famous TV and recording group.  My final jobs were with the show bands of Lake Tahoe, Reno, and Las Vegas when I decided to go into teaching.

When I began my first teaching assignment in Palmdale, CA, I was ready.  But the learning didn’t stop there.  For the next 27 years, I attended conventions and workshops twice a year to reinforce what I had learned at Potsdam.  I found out I never knew enough and that’s the way it is today.  I’m still continuing my education during my retirement.

When I breezed into Potsdam University as a young 25-year-old professional, I thought I had it made because I knew how to play.  How wrong I was!  Any professional who is thinking of becoming a band, choir, or orchestral director, should go to a “reputable” music teacher’s college where they’ll be properly trained.  During my years as a teacher, I’ve seen other instructors, former professional instrumentalists and vocalists (who hadn’t gone to a music teacher’s college), personally give parents a dazzling display of pyrotechnics before or during a beginning band or choral concert.  When their groups finally performed, some were abysmal failures!  I was always amazed that it didn’t seem to faze the proud parents, who would applaud for anything when their children were involved. 

The professors at my college with years of public school teaching were in complete agreement that music teachers shouldn’t teach more than one discipline.  In other words, a band director should only teach band, an orchestral teacher, strings, etc.   A music curriculum that required teachers to teach them all, band, strings, choir, and classroom music, were doomed for failure.  Just the scheduling problems alone can be maddening, especially when classes are taught back to back, from the beginning of the day to the closing bell.  I’ve seen this happen in many communities in Southern California during my tenure as a teacher, where successful districts decided to change, and had their music personnel teach everything.  Within a year their formerly successful programs had deteriorated.  It’s almost like “dumbing down” music education.

Teaching music requires an incredible amount of energy.  It’s one of the most demanding courses to teach.  When a music teacher is required to teach band, strings, choir, and classroom music, they find it necessary to hold back in each class so they can survive the day, the week, the month, so they won’t lose their health.  I advised a new music teacher who was doing an incredible job in all disciplines, to let up or he’d burn out in a few months, which is common among music teachers.  The principal couldn’t praise him enough for his choir and I told him that I had advised the teacher not to overwork.  After a couple of months the teacher caught a cold and lost his voice, which wouldn’t heal.  He took a short leave of absence to visit his family in Canada, and never returned after Christmas as he had promised.  He’d succeeded in doing a superlative job with band, strings, classroom music and choir, but paid the consequences.

When interviewing prospective music teachers, a panel of well-qualified music personnel with successful track records, including an administrator, should do the questioning.  They’ll soon know if the individual being interviewed is qualified for the position.

In the final analysis, the goal as I’ve clearly stated, is to have dedicated and well trained music personnel at each school, so that our children may receive the best music education possible.

May 5, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | 1 Comment

A LIFE-LONG LOVE AFFAIR

I had just finished my walk and sat in my recliner to take a short nap.  But my mind reverted to my late wife Shirley and I started thinking about our life-long love affair.  We were one of the lucky ones.

When we first met she wouldn’t go out with me.  But after a few days she relented (for years she never knew why).  We had a late dinner at Harvey’s Wagon Wheel after doing two shows at Harrah’s Club in Lake Tahoe (she was a dancer and I was a trombonist with Fred Waring and the Pennsylanians).  While talking we realized we had a lot in common and stayed in the dinning room for over two hours.  At age 32, I had been a dedicated bachelor, but at that one dinner, I fell hopelessly in love and knew Shirley would be the girl I would marry.  Of course she had no such intention because I had three strikes against me:  One–I was from New York, two–I was a musician and she hated musicians, and three–I was shorter than she was!  Somehow common sense prevailed and we got married nine months later, a marriage that lasted 48 years.

Shirley had studied tap, ballet, and jazz, beginning at age eight, and was a first-class professional dancer, having worked on TV, done a movie, and danced with the biggest stars for seven years in Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Boston, and San Francisco.  Regardless of her love of dancing, she said she had been trained to be a mother and wife.  She dedicated her entire married life to the happiness and welfare of our son David and I.  We were blessed with a wonderful son after eleven years of marriage, thinking we couldn’t have any children, but David came along just before her clock ran out.  That was the second greatest event of our lives, our first being our marriage.

From the day we returned from our honeymoon, we walked three miles a day for 43 years until she no longer was able to.  We talked constantly during the walks and discussed every topic imaginable.  As I left for work she would wave goodbye to me from the kitchen window, and I never missed calling her on the phone during lunch- time to see how she was doing.  Those short talks were very important to both of us.  When I went on three-day music conferences I always felt an emptiness without her.   During our entire marriage there was never a time that she wasn’t beautifully coiffed or well dressed, never sloppy, like she was getting ready for her next show.  She had a look of class whether she wore jeans or an apron.  It was the quality of her personality and kindness that attracted others to her.  When my father met her, he said, “Son, you have married a beautiful woman.”  He saw the same qualities in her I had seen.  She was my mother’s favorite, as Shirley never missed a week without writing her, keeping her informed how David and I were doing.  Shirley also wrote her parents weekly.

For 17 years Shirley was my children stories editor after I retired and began writing children stories.  I looked forward to seeing what words she had changed or added, or what she had done to strengthen and improve the stories.  She never changed the main ideas of my stories, but with a deleted word here or a turn of a sentence there, those few magical changes made all the difference. 

The last four years of her life were very difficult.  She developed serious rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.  She took Fosomax for four years that was supposed to develop new bone tissue but just the opposite occurred.  When given an MRI a few years after taking the medicine, they found she had lost 50% of her bone mass.  Little by little small bones began breaking throughout her rib area.  Through all this she was taking very heavy pain medicine that she felt was affecting her mentally.  She said she thought it changed her personality, and found herself saying things to friends and to me she would never ordinarily say or think.  On her own she voluntarily took a minimum of painkillers even though it heightened her pain considerably.   After awhile she was back to normal.  Through all her difficulties and illnesses she continued to work on my children stories until her last days.  She never let the pain interfere with her humor and made me laugh every day.  During this time she had dual spinal surgery, and then broke her femur bone in two places on Christmas morning.  Eight months later she fell out of bed in the middle of the night and broke her hip.  Even though she had a successful hip replacement, she died seven days later in the hospital from pneumonia.

Throughout our marriage we felt we had developed some sort of mental telepathy, as we had the same thoughts at the same time.  This was a common occurrence.  She used to laughingly warn me not to think of other women because she would know. Every week for the last 17 months as I’m on my way to the supermarket, I’ve visited her gravesite.  I carry a folding chair in the car and sit and relate the events of the week to her for a half hour or more.  It is so peaceful and serene and I hate to leave.  Just like at home I sense her presence, and feel that she gives me advice as I suddenly change my mind when I’m telling her about something I’m about to do.  The workers at the cemetery recognize my car and wave at me.  They sometimes come over and talk to me, and I know they give Shirley’s spot special attention because they feel they know her, too.

Cover for 'DIARY OF A 
YOUNG MUSICIAN — Final Days of the Big Band Era 1948-1962'

May 5, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories, Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

HOW I BEGAN WRITING AT AGE 60

I was fifty-nine and a half-years old and planned to retire at age 65 from the Palmdale School District, where I was a band director.  But as I found out health problems can alter the best-laid plans.  That’s what happened to me.

A large, insidious throat tumor almost took my life.  I first became aware of it when I woke up gasping for air, but just as quickly was able to breath again.  I thought it was just a quirk and did nothing about it.   The second time in the middle of the night, I wasn’t as fortunate.  Hearing his mother’s desperate screams, David ran into our room and immediately applied the Hendrick maneuver, as I was turning blue.  I felt a pop and air came rushing down my throat.  A few minutes later when we all calmed down, we knew it was time to see my nose, throat, and ear doctor.

 

That morning when Dr. Jackson entered one of his examining rooms where I was waiting, he approached me and said, “My God, you have an enormous tumor. “  He could actually see it from the outside.  His staff immediately made arrangements for an operation the next morning, December 23, when the tumor was removed.

 

The following week after the tests came in, Dr. Jackson told me with a look of concern, the tumor was cancerous, but he didn’t believe it was.  He sent it to special lab in Chicago, but the results didn’t come back for THREE WEEKS!  It was one of the longest three weeks of my life.  The good news was that it was benign.   By this time I had already been working for a couple of weeks.  When Dr. Jackson examined me after giving me the good news, he said because I was constantly using my voice to teach band, the tumor was growing back and I had to retire.  Since my full retirement wasn’t going to go into affect for four more months, I continued to work using a microphone and speakers, whispering instructions to my band students, so I wouldn’t reinjure my sensitive throat.  My throat healed within months.

 

My retirement had taken me by surprise and I wasn’t prepared to deal with it.  I had no idea what my wife Shirley and I would do.  The first two weeks I sort of relaxed.  We decided the inside of the house needed painting, so I began with the walls in the hallway, and I can sincerely say I hated painting!  While I was on the ladder I began daydreaming about a boy who played the bass drum in the school band, and he had a pet.  I thought maybe it could be a mouse, but a famous Hollywood producer was already using a mouse.  Maybe a dog, but then again everybody had a dog.  But this dog would be different.  He would have a large tail that looked like a drumstick and he played the bass drum, too.  I got down from my ladder and gravitated toward the computer.  I began writing about a boy, Nick, and his dog, Knobby.  I titled this first story in a series of eight, “Nick Meets Knobby.”

 

Until this time I had never thought about being an author, and was surprised to find myself in front of a computer writing a story.  I never knew I had the ability to be creative.  I couldn’t believe the stream of ideas that came out of me.  From the start I wrote from 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM, six days a week for the next 17 years until my wife became ill.  Writing my stories was a true work of love.  It didn’t seem possible that I had found a third career.

 

I joined two wonderful children author’s groups, one in Leona Valley for 13 years, followed by 7 years with the other at Barnes & Noble in Palmdale, CA.  It didn’t take me long to become aware I had much to learn.  Someone suggested I add dialogue to my story rather than it be all narrative.  I went to the local library and read a few dozen children books.  I returned home and in a matter of hours inserted dialog to my boy and dog story that made all the difference.  The addition of dialog had given it added strength and character.   After finishing “Nick Meets Knobby,” I began a second story about the boy and his dog.  I did eight in a row.  My writing became more fluid, and I kept returning to the earlier stories to improve them as I learned more.

 

Right from the beginning I asked Shirley to read what I had written and asked for suggestions.  I realize now I just wanted her praise and nothing else.  At that time I was writing by hand, using a yellow pad, and then typed what I had written into the computer.  After Shirley read the story she changed the wording of a sentence and added a word or two.  When I saw the changes I became slightly annoyed.  She told me not to ask her to go over any other stories if I were unable to accept constructive criticism.  Later on in the quiet of my computer room, I realized with the turn of a sentence or her changing a word or two, she had a natural ability to make the stories stronger, so I soon stopped complaining.  I had a built-in editor.  But with my vanity it took me awhile to truly accept it, and finally I realized she was a great children editor.  After she edited a few other stories I couldn’t wait to see what changes she had made.

 

For the next 21 years I wrote 38 children’s stories, four of them published, and a novel, “Diary of a Young Musician, Final Days of the Big Band Era,” which was also published and given “Highly recommended” by Midwest Book Review.  Shirley didn’t have time to edit this story, as it was too long.  Throughout my writing period I returned to my grammar and punctuation books.  “The Elements of Style,” by E.B. White, also helped me.  I’ve continued to study and learn to this day.

 

I was fortunate to attain the services of John MacFarlane, Disney animator, who magnificently illustrated all four of my published children books.  John also illustrated covers for each of my 38 eBooks.

 

You’ll find 20 of my eBooks under my name, Felix Mayerhofer, in Kindle, Nook, iPad, Sony, and smashwords.com.  My published children books can be found in Felixchildrenstories.com, and my novel, “Diary of a Young Musician,” in felixmayerhofer.com.

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

PART TWO–BE YOUR OWN PERSON (By Changing Your Life Style)

When I graduated high school, I moved to New York City where I attended a world-famous music conservatory on full scholarship, the Juilliard School of Music.  To survive, I got a full-time job as an usher at the Capitol Theater on Broadway, the largest theater in the world at the time.  After being sick most of the year from lack of sleep and proper nutrition (the salary was low), I decided not to return to college a second year even though I had been awarded another scholarship the following year.  I instead went on the road with a professional big band.

 

My behavior during that year at school had been normal, but my life began to change at the tender age of 19.  I was introduced to another culture, the “big band world,” where a different behavior was counter to how I’d been raised, which I resisted for a couple of years.  Of course all the musicians I met weren’t like that, many were decent, moral people, but stronger than I.  I was influenced by the immorality and foul language of other musicians around me, but the choice to go down the wrong path was my own.  This is very similar to what daily immersion of TV can do to children and young people who aren’t supervised.  Movies, the Internet, magazines, and recordings are included in this group.   The only difference being I was older and could survive a lot better psychologically.

 

When young people go down the wrong path, it may be caused by incredible peer pressure and broken families.  Even though heredity and the terrible social environment surrounding them may have been a bad influence, they still had their own will.  This could all be overcome.  Our present day apologists state that everyone but you is the cause of your problems.  FALSE!  YOU HAVE FREE WILL!  A former elementary school band student of mine, now an adult, once told me that the reason he turned to drugs in high school, was that he had been scared of me when he was in my beginning band years earlier.  And I only had him once a week for forty-five minutes.  This is what he learned in analysis in his mid- thirties.  Many “professional “people counseling others, make fantastic sums of money expressing poppycock like this.

 

After years of insecurity and many escapades with women during my twenties, I began questioning my life style and behavior.  I read a book by an English author about sex and marriage that described how a husband and wife should behave.  Basically, it said there should be love, respect, truth, honesty, and faithfulness to each other.  Included in the book were other virtues such as goodness, being humble, not to be judgmental, and to be free of immoral thoughts.  There were many other suggestions besides these that helped me.

 

Even though I wasn’t planning on getting married at that time, reading this book was the changing point of my life.  I didn’t act on all the advice at once, but realized I couldn’t continue the life style I’d been leading, as I hadn’t been raised that way.  My activities those years had caused me to be a nervous wreck with little peace of mind.  It was all a matter of good versus evil.  Almost from the time I finished the book my life improved.  The cleaner my thoughts became the better I felt, and the freedom of mind I had had as a young person slowly returned.  With freedom came happiness which works hand in hand.  But my new morality didn’t return by itself, I worked on it on a daily basis and still do.  Good things don’t come easy or overnight.

 

If you’re interested in helping yourself, you must analyze how your problems began, in some cases from the day you were born.  We all have a dark side that must be constantly fought because we’re basically good people.   With the breakdown of our culture controlled by Hollywood, the media, print press, the recording industry, and now the internet, young people don’t have a chance to lead normal lives, but it’s always there to be had by all.  You must unshackle yourselves of these controls!  To do so, you must be strong and resolute, avoiding pressures from your best friends and peers, who you will soon realize may not be your friends.  This may apply to your own family.  You must be the leader who sets an example by speech, conduct, love, faith and purity.  Again, this is all a matter of good versus the dark side.

 

But be prepared to be treated like a pariah and to be alone with your newfound freedom.  You’ll make new friends and some of your old friends may stay with you, as they recognize the dramatic and inspirational changes within you.  Change your life style today; it’s never too late to become a winner.

 

 

 

 

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment

PART ONE–BE YOUR OWN PERSON (By changing your life style)

After I got married, my wife and I made the rounds to introduce me to her relatives.  Shirley’s Aunt Betty was in her seventies and had a wonderful sense of humor.  She said she had the body of an old person but the mind of a sixteen year old.  This comment impressed me, and the little time I spent with her, I realized what she meant.

 

Now that I’m in my eighties, I feel the same way.  The only difference between being old rather than young is that I’ve become wiser through experiences of time.  My only problem is that I sometimes forget what happens the previous day, but can vividly remember how I felt as a teenager, with complete clarity like it happened yesterday.  But there’s an incredible difference. Those lovely memories of yesteryear compared to what young people are going through today, not only makes me cringe in despair for them, but gives me great sadness.

 

Being raised in a small community by a large religious family, I can say I had a fun loving, relaxed type of youth, almost carefree.  I didn’t understand or realize I had such freedom, especially of the mind.  There was no influence by TV, Internet, or other electronic gadgets to fill me with mush; I had a mother who was always home, and the movies I attended once a week at the local theater weren’t filled with grasping and lust.  Instead, we had 15 minute radio shows like Dick Tracy, The Shadow, Little Orphan Annie, and my favorite, The Lone Ranger. They were all adventure episodes where we used our imagination without our morals being corrupted.  We didn’t have the computer world with the Internet, but read books and did research in our own encyclopedias, or at the local library.

 

I knew the facts of life when I was a teenager, but there was nothing around to exploit it, so I was never consumed with sex or constantly thought about it, and my friends were the same as I.  When I was in high school and a girl looked terrific, the extent of our reaction would be, “Boy!  Would you look at that sweater!”  Naturally as young people we got aroused, but we never went beyond those comments.  Of course in each school there were a few students in the “Fast crowd,” who went too far and sometimes had to pay life-long consequences.  If a boy got a girl pregnant they mysteriously disappeared from the community after hurriedly being married, but were never seen again.  They left in disgrace and moved to another part of the country.

 

Because of this lack of complete knowledge concerning sex, we were able to grow up naturally, with our innocence and emotions intact, until we reached the age when we were mature enough to handle it without permanent damage.

PART TWO OF “BE YOUR OWN PERSON” WILL SOON FOLLOW

 

 

 

April 11, 2011 Posted by | AV Best Children's Books, Children's Author, Children’s Stories with Morals, Exciting Children’s Stories, Learning Children’s Stories | , , , , | Leave a comment