Behind My Passion


What’s Behind My Passions and Sometimes Obsessions?

This blog is to help my families better understand who I was, what I did, and where my passion came from during my professional career–it was the people, the challenges and opportunities to be creative and grow as a person and a professional with a true dedication and commitment that went beyond just getting a job done–examples that I hope were instilled in my children and grandchildren!

Around 1993 (13 years after starting work at the Census Bureau), my career as a research and marketing professional was really blossoming.  Beginning in 1980, I reinvented myself and left private industry for the federal government.  When I was first interviewed, human resources told me that my lack of college and university degrees would mean forgetting the para- and professional roles I had once held in private industry.  This meant starting over in the administrative/clerical pool.  What a blow to my paycheck and my sense of well being.  But, I weighed the benefits and opportunities and took a leap of faith.  I trusted God, myself, my quick learning abilities, and professional skill sets that I believed would serve me well in my new journey.

And when I retired from the Census Bureau 32 years later in 2011 much had changed, including me.  In the third of a century I worked there, the World, the agency, emergent technologies and uses of them at home and in the work place underwent massive changes, forcing me to embrace change and sometimes be the catalyst for it.

I had many challenges and wonderful opportunities along the way.  I was always learning and sharing and reinventing ways to increase visibility and understanding about the importance of the agency and the works done by its staff.  As a mid-level manager, many of my supervisors and agency directors acknowledged my initiatives.  For the most part they all supported my suggestions and allowed me to grow exponentially as a person and professional.

To reinvent myself and become successful, meant stepping out of my comfort zone.  I fought off two of my biggest fears–close social interactions and making presentations. I am forever grateful for taking those risks and having the guidance and patience of those who led and supported me along my way.

Most of my favorite and successful roles and projects involved researching, writing, and making presentations that sometimes engaged me with counterpart professionals from around the world. With each professional conference we would share experiences and challenges in our every day tasks of collecting and sharing information and experience.  The mostly annual meetings generated cyclical rebirths and zealousness to push the paradigms of research and marketing a little more.  And the byproducts were multiple forms and venues that helped people and businesses make informed decisions based upon statistics that came from our agency.  As the agency evolved its information sharing techniques, people and businesses who never before were aware of the existence or depth of the information available learned they could get what they needed from us for free.  Repeatedly, each professional forum of open sharing revealed worldwide commonalities among us, our projects, and our tasks that involved emergiing technologies for collecting and distributing information and more focus on understanding new and potential audiences’ needs and desires.  And along the way, I met many great people, visited many interesting places, learned much about different cultures and traditions.  And, despite our different languages spoken and sometimes different government ideologies and funding structures, we found that our contributions were welcomed and appreciated beyond the brick and mortar of where we each lived and worked.  Mutual acceptance and respect of international counterparts was an absolutely exhilarating and reinvigorating experience that pushed my passion for learning and sharing what I learned with others to new levels.

Overcoming my fears to initiate or take on new and different tasks–my second most favorite project was partnering with the video and broadcast professionals in and outside of my agency.  I had written a script about “The Census Bureau at Work,” to inform Americans who we are, what we do, and how America benefits from the statistics collected.  It was titled, “Informing America“. We partnered together and created   a video to share through the agency’s various information and marketing channels.  In it first rendition, we mastered it as a VHS tape.  The video’s information remained relevant and it was remastered as a DVD, and, its ageless parts have been used in subsequent works.

So to my work family– my supervisors, colleagues, and friends–I just want to give you a long-overdue thank you for openly guiding and exchanging information and experiences.  Some of my early mentors have passed; like Marshall Turner, who you see in the opening scenes of the an edited excerpt of the original video (excerpt created by yours truly), and Debbie Barrett who supported and mentored me in the very beginning of my professional growth period.  Others have retired like Michael Garland, who gave me my first break outside the administrative tract in the agency; Paul Zeisset, who has a brilliant mind and was relentless in “getting it just right;” and to John Kavaliunas, my longest term supervisor, who always treated me as a professional and colleague, who trusted my instincts and allowed me to unleash my initiative.  And a special thanks, too, to my special friend Colleen Flannery, who despite the odds given us at introduction, became first a professional counterpart, then a supporter and project partner on several initiatives, and in post-retirement, she’s like a sister. We had some great times representing the agency and in some instances the United States in annual professional meetings and when entertaining and playing with others during the socials.

To my colleague, Victor Romero, who was there and helped turn a flat script into a living story, and invited me to participate in the studio editing and mixing of the video, and to “the voice,” Cheryl Chambers, who gave the video story its personality, while we all had great fun doing it–thank you both.

A 3-Minute Excerpt from the 1993 video: “Informing America”

Please take notice of the already obsolete-to-antiquated technologies shown. But 20 years ago, we so proudly included these examples to demonstrate our state-of-the-art/leading edge work and accomplishments.  My how times fly!

I’ve Got the Music In Me… Part 5


Is musical talent inherited? Researchers are leaning towards that possibility–continued

We always knew when my maternal grandmother, Loretta Lathrop Ford, was happy. She would be whistling like a canary, playing her harmonica, singing and dancing on the screened in porch with other family members, or “dancing up a storm” and “cutting a rug” at the American Legion Hall with other family.  My frame of reference for these memories goes back to the 1950’s.

Other Family Members “Got the Music” in Them, too!

Just like the baby in the video dancing to Bon Jovi, there’s very few of us who can keep from singing, tapping our feet, clapping our hands, or moving some part of our bodies to the beat when there’s music playing–Both my parents loved to jitter bug and they were quite a good looking duo out of the dance floor. In fact, their love of dancing continued up until about 2000 when their Knights of Columbus dances and circles of friends got fewer and fewer and dad developed neuropathy in his legs.

My mother repeats the story that her mom, Loretta, told various family members over the years; “That Norma would tap dance on roller skates going down a flight of steps.”  Mom said my grandmother must have been “pipe-dreaming,” because she only remembers the story, not the actual activity.

Family Musicians and Music Lovers in the 1950’s

In an earlier blog, From Everyday Moments May Come Precious Memories, posted on January 12, 2013, I wrote about the weekend car trips where everybody in the car was singing songs from the old south and traditional hymns.

Image:  Admiral Phonograph

Admiral Phonograph

My dad, Frank’s, sister–my aunt Delores, was a Patsy Cline, sound alike, and from the picture on Ms. Cline’s webpage–very much a look alike, too.  We would play vinyl 78,
33-1/3, and 45 rpm records on our portable Admiral Phonograph and have family sing along’s much like today’s home Karaoke.  Further evidence that television and solitaire video games take away from quality family times.

My great uncle Jack Shipp and his daughter “Sissy,” created a repertoire of music they would perform for family get togethers. Jack played acoustic guitar and Sissy sang–and in some of her songs Sissy would yodel.

Image:  1950 Ad for Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour

Jack and Sissy (she was maybe 12) were so talented that they appeared in Washington, DC, on Ted Mack’s The Original Amateur Hour (about 1950). This show was the precursor to this generation’s Star Search and American Idol, except it was broadcast on both American radio and television. In fact, Amateur Hour was a continuation of radio’s Major Bowes Amateur Hour that was broadcast from 1934 to 1945. Ted Mack succeeded Major Edward Bowes in 1945 and brought the show to TV in 1948.

Music Around Us in the 1960’s

In the early 1960’s, though not together, my husband, Bob, and I both appeared on the Milt Grant TV Show in Washington, DC–similar to Dick Clark’s dance show American Bandstand out of Philadelphia, PA. And believe it or not, each of us with our dance partners won the dance contest the day we appeared on the show. In the video clip that features Milt Grant, he’s promoting Pepsi Cola and the “highly portable” radio with an antenna-turning carry handle–and–“volumatic tuning,” oh nostalgia!

Image:  Joanne Boling holding accordion

Joanne Boling Accordion

While I studied accordion for 13 years, Bob played the trumpet in high school and in the Marine Corps. In fact, Bob received a commendation for entertaining the troops aboard the USS General W. A. Mann when returning from Okinawa.

Rhythm & Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Hard Rock, and More Family Musicians

I was 11 years old before my parents gave me a baby brother, Frankie, named after my dad.  And when he was five, another baby boy came along, Johnny, after my maternal uncle who had recently passed. Their two names together left my brothers forever tagged, “Frankie and Johnny”–like the 1917 Frankie and Johnny Dixieland Jazz piece.  They still cringe at that reference to them today.

Bob and I married very young and began our family about 18 months later . So, my youngest brother was only 3-1/2 years older than our eldest son. Hard Rock was the popular genre in those days, and my eldest son and eldest brother both loved the drums. Some families had dueling banjos–we had dueling drums. Both boys were equally talented. My brother, Frank’s, first band experience was with the Out-of-Hand Wilson Band–you know the local teen aged school boy band. I recall going to several Battle of the Bands contests.

Our son, Bobby honed his skills and searched long and hard for his genre and musical path which became his avocation–Contemporary Christian Music Ministries.

Bobby played drums for about 10 years with friends from three churches.  Their band “CrossWords” was popular up and down the east coast and they played various coffee houses and at christian gatherings. One of their more popular hangouts was “My Brother’s Place,” in Waldorf, MD.    Meanwhile, my brother, Frank, still plays drums and sings in rhythm and blues bands locally, as well as produces lights and sound mixes for music-based events.

We are still seeing musical talents emerge as my brother Frank’s children, now young adults, play guitar and banjo in bands in the Washington Metropolitan Area. In fact, Frank’s daughter’s child, age 7, has perfect pitch and one day sat down to a piano for the very first time and started playing Bach’s “Jesu’ Joy of Man’s Desiring.” When we asked her where she learned that she said; “Oh, I just heard it somewhere!” And, my daughter’s daughter, age 12, just played at her first piano recital–at nearly the same age as I was when I played my first.

So, whether it’s nature, nurture, environment, motivation, or self-initiative does it really matter? Some may become notable in the field, but our family just loves music and it’s something we all love to share with each other. In a future blog we’ll not leave the drama at home either–we will share stories about the great actors and directors in our family, too! Happy blogging.

I’ve Got the Music In Me…Part 4


Claude Bolling:  Renowned French jazz pianist, composer, arranger, and occasional actor.

Image:  Claude Bolling

Claude Bolling
Father of Modern Jazz

Claude Bolling, a pianist,  composer, arranger, and a conductor of jazz, entertainment and film music, is certainly one of the world’s most famous French musicians of his generation–known as the “Father of Modern Jazz”.

His musical heritage stretches back to the reign of Napoleon III: Bolling’s great-great-aunt was a court pianist. Young Claude discovered the piano at age 11. His father, an auto parts salesman in Cannes, and his mother divorced when he was 7. At that time Claude had little interest in music, but his maternal grandmother, Marguerite Chabellard, was an accomplished pianist. She made sure Claude had the best piano teachers on the Riviera. By the time Claude was 15 he had quit school and moved to Paris to pursue music with the likes of Rex Stewart and Sidney Bechet. Wearing short pants and propped up on telephone books, he would pound the keys in jazz clubs. “I was,” he admits, “the curiosity of the Left Bank.” Within three years he was the leader of a seven-man Dixieland group titled Bolling and His Hot Seven. Then, after playing his way through military service as a slide trombonist in French army bands, he jammed and performed with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Earl Hines. “They taught me a lot,” says Bolling.1

In 1959 he married Irene Dervize, then a reporter for Paris Match. Outside the church a jazz band serenaded the newlyweds, and after that auspicious beginning the Bollings settled into a pattern of musical domesticity in the Parisian suburb of Garches. Irene mothers their two sons, David, 12, and Alexandre, 9, and works for the TV magazine Télé 7 Jours. Claude composes at home, stopping occasionally to play with his model train collection or to fastidiously rearrange their three-story house. “I dread losing time,” he says. “So instead of doing nothing, I organize.” As for his classical-jazz fusion, he shrugs, “I didn’t want to create a new musical system; yet now I’m the prisoner of it.”2

With an almost acrobatic schedule as a musician in the jazz world, Claude Bolling appeared in numerous concerts and recordings with some of greatest artists : Rex StewartBuck ClaytonLionel HamptonAlbert NicholasRoy Eldridge. His friend, Boris Vian, placed Claude in charge of the jazz, art direction, and song writing departments in a new large recording studio.  While there, Claude orchestrated Boris Vian’s first songs as an author and singer and recorded various themes for the “Chansons Possibles et Impossibles“.  These works further advance Claude’s career and he becomes “the” fashionable arranger, for Sacha DistelJacqueline FrançoisJuliette GrécoHenri SalvadorBrigitte Bardot and many others. Then, Dario Moreno asks him to write the music of a film he is starring in, and René Clément, (after having asked him write a back theme for a for Stuart Witman in “Le Jour et l’Heure” (Michel Piccoli, Simone Signoret)), asks Claude to compose the entire score for the film. 

Claude next goes on to emcee several famous French TV shows (“Age tendre et Tête de bois” -the Beatle generation show- the Maritie and Gilbert Carpentier shows, Jean-Christophe Averty‘s “Jazz Memories“). Meanwhile, he also formed an all girl quartet, “Les Parisiennes“.

As a result of his experience in various musical branches and his work with the greatest classical musicians, Claude creates “Crossover Music” a new genre which mixes for the first time two different languages, “classic” and “jazz”, strictly separated up until then. The “Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio“, written for the great flutist Jean-Pierre Rampal, is one of his most famous “Suites”, all of which act as work of reference in that style.

Bolling at age 50, a true Renaissance music man, also had written seven books on jazz and swing plus the score for 32 films, including the Belmondo delight Borsalino and Neil Simon’s California Suite. When the “solitary work of composing,” as Bolling called it, became too oppressive, he performed. He conducted a popular Parisian swing group called the Show Biz Band four times a month “as a hobby” and gave piano recitals that took him around the world. In 1976 he played Carnegie Hall with Rampal. And, since the 1950’s, Claude Bolling also has been a fervent ecologist and has helped various organizations for environment and animal protection.

Claude Bolling’s concert schedule found on his website today, shows that this time last year, at age 82, he was still performing professionally. And, as usual, I am back at connecting the dots and the DNA to see which portion of my ancient English Bolling family migrated to France!

[1][2]Andriotakis, Pamela (July 21, 1980). Composer Claude Bolling’s Real Switch Isn’t Trains but Luring Rampal & Pinky into All That Jazz. People Magazine


People Magazine Article:,,20077021,00.html

I’ve Got the Music in Me–and Oh, How it Moves Me! – Part 3.

Daily Prompt: Buffalo Nickel.

This is just one of several videos I’ll be sharing with you over time by people who share the talents and heritage of the Boling family and surname.

Published on Jun 6, 2012

TIM HENDERSON, one of America’s greatest songwriters, died in Austin, Texas on November 1st, 2011. Tim was a dear friend of C. Daniel Boling’s and he was honored to be asked to join other friends of singing Tim’s songs on stage at the 2012 Kerrville Folk Festival in tribute to Tim’s great music. C. Daniel says that: “This song “Buffalo Nickels” is one of my favorites, and I think Tim would be pleased that I’m singing it on tour around the country. I hope you’ll enjoy this song of Tim’s and seek out others — he wrote a huge body of exceptional songs and over 100 of them have been recorded by other singers and songwriters over the years.

Written by Tim Henderson

Do you remember when girl was a four letter word
And your closet was a good place to hide
Your hobby horse stallion was the king of the plains
And your friends all got up when they died

There was nothing was better than candy
And you’d rather had gum than a kiss
Now some good friends have died, there’s noplace to hide
And there’s more than a few things you miss

Buffalo nickels and mercury dimes
All the things that we’re changin and leavin behind
All the people and places and lost days that shine
Like buffalo nickels and mercury dimes

Well I can see it all now, I got a boy of my own
His bike is the king of the plains
He’s got a big shiny six-gun he waves all around
Gets so mad he could cry when it rains

And there’s no girl as pretty as Mommy
Lord, his eyes light her world when they shine
He’ll soon be a man, I do what I can
To make sure he’ll have memories like mine

Buffalo nickels and mercury dimes
All the things that we’re changin and leavin behind
All the people and places and bright days that shine
Like buffalo nickels and mercury dimes

Buffalo nickels and mercury dimes
All the things that we’re changin and leavin behind
All the people and places and lost days that shine
Like buffalo nickels and mercury dimes

…I’ve Got the Music In Me, and Oh How it Moves Me: Part 2


I know I wrote in Part 1 of this blog topic that I would focus on my family’s talents in Part 2.  As research would have it, there’s always more that we can learn along the way.  And, as I am known for never short cutting a project, I just couldn’t move forward without some additional background that still begs the question; “Does talent come more from nature, nurture, environment, self initiative and/or persistence and perseverence?”  While Part 2 may be a little dalliance from our focus on musicality–gifts from God versus innate talents within family genetics, I believe you will find this extra piece of information from Douglas Eby’s article worth “ponderfoddering.”  So,  with that said, keep tuned for a Part 3 to follow on under the topic “I’ve Got the Music In Me…

February 27, 2010, by Douglas Eby:

“Talent will out.” If that old aphorism were really true, those with the highest potential to make the world better would inevitably have the opportunities and power to provide a constant supply of art masterpieces, to lead medical, political and business organizations, or otherwise realize their advanced potentials.

What keeps so many high potential people from realizing their abilities?

Jeffery Combs, author of the article More Heart Than Talent (and related book), thinks talent “is one of the most overrated attributes when evaluating what is required to be successful.

“The world is filled with talented people, yet why is it that so few people live and achieve their dreams?”

He goes on to emphasize the need to overcome fear and take risks.

Like the challenges faced by film directors such as Kathryn Bigelow, pictured here directing a scene from ‘The Hurt Locker.’


“Heart is the magic,” Combs continues, “the juice, the stuff, fifth gear, the overdrive that great achievers in life tap into when challenges and obstacles appear.

“Heart is making a conscious choice to live an exceptional life rather than an average one. …

“Virtually everyone has raw, untapped talent. The problem is that most people never get out of their talent. Instead, they hide behind it, too afraid to take risks, to be vulnerable, and most of all, to risk not being perfect.”

Other personal development leaders have expressed helpful perspectives on making talent actualized, not just potential.

Self-limiting beliefs

In his article Overcoming Self-Limiting Beliefs, Brian Tracy writes about “the worst beliefs you can have” – self-limiting beliefs. “These exist whenever you believe yourself to be limited in some way.

“For example, you may think yourself to be less talented or capable than others. You may think that others are superior to you in some way. You may have fallen into the common trap of selling yourself short and settling for far less than you are truly capable of.

“These self-limiting beliefs act like brakes on your potential. They hold you back. They generate the two greatest enemies of personal success – doubt and fear. They paralyze you and cause you to hesitate to take the intelligent risks that are necessary for you to fulfill your true potential.”

Business philosopher Jim Rohn has declared “Everything we would ever need to become rich and powerful and sophisticated is within our reach. The major reason that so few take advantage of all that we have is simply neglect.

“Neglect is like an infection. Left unchecked it will spread throughout our entire system of disciplines and eventually lead to a complete breakdown of a potentially joy-filled and prosperous human life.”

[From his article Success is Easy, but So is Neglect. Also see more Jim Rohn articles.]

Transforming and action

Marcel ProustAs writer Marcel Proust saw it (in his book In Search of Lost Time), “Genius, and even great talent, springs less from seeds of intellect and social refinement superior to those of other people than from the faculty of transforming and transposing them….

“Those who produce works of genius are not those who live in the most delicate atmosphere, whose conversation is the most brilliant or their culture the most extensive… but those who have had the power, ceasing suddenly to live only for themselves, to transform their personality into a sort of mirror, in such a way that their life, however mediocre it may be socially and even, in a sense, intellectually, is reflected by it, genius consisting in reflecting power and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.”

The challenge of so many talents

Sally M. Reis, Ph.D. writes about the challenges of having many talents. Much of what she says also applies to men.

She notes, “Women with high potential and multiple interests often have multiple academic, career, and leisure possibilities, and these choices constitute multipotentiality.

“For some, having many choices is beneficial because they result in a variety of options.

“Others, however, often can not find their niche, make it on their own, or choose a vocational path.

“Many women with multipotentiality find decision making difficult since it is not possible to do all that they would like to do and are capable of doing.

“Students may commit to a career too quickly in order to reduce tensions caused by a vast array of competing options… career choices may be externally imposed on them by their parents or teachers who believe they know the appropriate field.”

[From article Internal barriers, personal issues, and decisions faced by gifted and talented females.]

Motivation is a key component

Carol S. Dweck, PhD, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford, thinks “our society tends to believe that geniuses are born, not made. And I wouldn’t dispute that there might be a strong innate component, but it’s just clear from the histories of so many geniuses that motivation is a key component.

“And when you sift through the literature on creative genius, the researchers agree that motivation is perhaps the number one component in the realization of genius.

“Many of our most illustrious geniuses in every field were people who were considered ordinary as children, and then just caught fire around their topic and achieved amazing things that we know about today – from Darwin, to Coleridge, to Cézanne.

“All of these people were not necessarily extraordinary children.” [From post: Adult genius, unexceptional kid.]

Also see her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Professor John Eliot, PhD has noted that one myth “is that success can only be obtained if you select your goals early on, know exactly where you’re headed, develop a road map and focus on specific steps toward your long-term goal. The problem with that approach is that your path to success becomes very narrow.

“You can become so focused on a distant goal you lose your sense of creativity and your ability to overcome obstacles along the way. Another myth is the notion that those who try harder are more likely to be successful.

“I found that people who try less, who find a way to judge themselves a little less and allow themselves more freedom and flexibility in approach, are more apt to be successful.” [From article: A new model for exceptional performance.]

A Psychology Today article, The Winning Edge, by Peter Doskoch says, “We’re primed to think that talent is the key to success. But what counts even more is a fusion of passion and perseverance. In a world of instant gratification, grit may yield the biggest payoff of all.”

From post: Grit and perseverance mean more than talent.

Related article: Genius: The Modern View [NY Times op-ed, with added video, book links etc]

Related posts:

Developing our talents: the Growth Mindset

Creative talent: genetics, a muse, or hard work?

Related site: Developing Multiple Talents/a>

‘…And That’s the Way They All Became The Brady Bunch’


But, What About the Boling Bunch–How did Dad Get his Middle Name?

Ignoring the variations in the family members spelling of the last name, my dad, Frank Burton Boling (84), ever since he was a child, has wondered where his middle name came from.  As most women will tell you, mothers/female family members are generally the keepers of family histories and are the ones who pass them along to their children.  In my dad Frank’s case, his mom, Helen Chambers, was a teen aged mom who left her husband, Jesse, and three small children when Frank was only five. And, Jesse and the children struggled along in Washington, DC, away from the Bolling family core in and around Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Virginia.

After many years of working periodically at my family genealogy, I have spent the last 18 months catching up and developing a regular schedule devoted to documenting my family’s history.  I am now pleased that I can finally tell dad exactly where his middle name originated. But, let’s look first at naming conventions in general. On first glance, our ancestors’ names appear in our tree as if they were chosen at random. But, when I looked closer, I asked myself if there was a particular naming convention followed, and if so, what was it?’.

When I looked at clusters of names in my tree and the multiple families within it, I saw examples that some families had chosen first names from the same small pool of first names from generation to generation and rigidly stuck to something like this: ‘the first son is always named after the father’s father; second son after the mother’s father; third son after the father; and, the first daughter after the mother’s mother, the second daughter after the father’s mother, and the third daughter after the mother. This naming convention holds true today in Scotland.

And looking again at the clusters I made the connection across families.  My dad’s middle name, ‘Burton’, was in fact a surname from a female’s maiden name, which was her mother’s maiden name. And, in my Bolling family tree’s example, William E. Burton and Margaret Robins had a daughter, Mary Burton, who married Colonel Robert Bolling, Jr. and their daughter was Mary Burton Bolling. These names happen to be from notable family members who were among the first pioneers in Virginia. And beginning with the Mayflower and John Rolfe and Pocohantas, we can see the Roberts’, Johns’, and Marys’ first names were repeated from the first generation through the eight generation, below.
1 John Rolfe 1621/22
… +Pocahontas 1595-1617
…2 Thomas Rolfe 1614/15 –
…….+Jane Poythress 1630-1679/80
………… 3 Jane Rolfe 1650- 678
……………… +Robert Bolling 1646- 709
………………….4 John Fairfax Bolling 1676/7-1729
……………………… +Mary Kennon 1679-1727
……………………………. 5 John Bolling 1699/00-1757
……………………………….. +Elizabeth Blair 1708/09-1775
……………………………………. 6 Robert Bolling 1738-1775
………………………………………… +Mary Burton-1764
…………………………………………….. 7 Mary Burton Bolling 1764-1787
…………………………………………………… +Robert IV Bolling 1759-1839
……………………………………………………… 8 Mary Burton Augusta Bolling 1787-1853

Throughout history, further examples like:  Richard Milhous Nixon, Hillary Rodham Clinton; tell us many families have used a forebear’s maiden name as a middle name for their children, but this seems to have been a personal preference, not a convention. And the other example for choosing a middle name comes from parents wishing to show their admiration or respect for another individual.

So the best I can say based upon my brief research into naming conventions is that some of America’s families today may have and follow their own naming conventions but, there are no prevailing naming patterns, even for last names– taking them or not taking them, hyphenating each of the couple’s names to make them one.  And now with same-sex partners, is the convention that each partner just maintains their original surname?  Ah, but those are stories for another day…

And dad, I hope as our Boling family patriarch, that identifying the people from whom your name came from so many generations ago and learning more about who they were in some small way gives you a greater sense of self and family.


…I’ve Got the Music In Me, and Oh How it Moves Me: Part 1

Musical Dynasties: It (Genetically) Runs in the Family

“Genetics may account for musical predisposition and ability.” The following article by Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D. originally appeared December 31, 2011, in Psychology Today‘s Here, There, and Everywhere Blog.

Singer, songwriter, guitarist, and former Pearl Jam front man Eddie Vedder discovered in his teens that his true biological father was a musician that played guitar.

Singer, songwriter, and guitarist KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree“), “Suddenly I See” was adopted at birth. Her adoptive parents did not have much of an interest in music. However, Tunstall later discovered that her biological father, Ed Severson Jr., was a folk singer.

Even recent X-Factor finalist Chris Rene is from a musical family. Chris’ father, Rafaele “Googie” Rene, was a jazz and soul singer, and his grandfather, Leon Rene, was a music composer – and the creator of “Rockin’ Robin”.

Is musical talent inherited?  Researchers are leaning towards that possibility.

A medical geneticist and her colleagues analyzed 224 family members who were either professional musicians, active amateur musicians, or were related to professional or active amateur musicians.  On standard tests of musical aptitude, it was found that the inheritability rate of musical talent was 50%.

Not only that, but some family members with no musical training scored the same as professional musicians on the tests.  It was also discovered from blood tests of study participants that two chromosomes had genes that were linked to musical ability (Jarvela, et al. 2008).

And how about the opposite direction – families where no one can carry a tune?  One study found that even tone-deafness (“congentical amusia”) is genetic (Peretz, et al. 2007).

Copyright 2011 Sarkis Media LLC

My Connection with Kiki Dee, the Singer of I’ve Got the Music In Me (1974)

Image:  Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

Kiki Dee Band Album Cover

I feel a direct connection to Kiki Dee and her music. We were born the same year. I was born in Maryland and she, in Little Horton, Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England–the very origin of my ancient English Bolling ancestors, that I have traced back to 1190 and my 23rd Great Grandfather, William DeBolling.

Ms. Dee began singing with a local band in Bradford in the early 1960s. And, like me, her favorite music genre was POP. Her biggest hit came when she recorded a duet in 1976 with Elton John (also my age):Don’t Go Breaking My Heart“. This single reached No. 1 in both our countries and remained at the top for six weeks. Kiki is still active as a singer today.

And, you may ask why am I sharing Kiki Dee’s music and singing, I Got the Music In Me, with you and why should I feel a strong connection to her.  And my only answer is  her music moves me with its upbeat tempo and lyrics that describe my philosophy towards living:

Ain’t got no trouble in my life
No foolish dream to make me cry
I’m never frightened or worried
I know I’ll always get by
I heat up, I cool down
When something gets in my way I go around it
Don’t let life get me down
Gonna take it the way that I found it…

And, I would be remiss if I failed to thank you the songwriter ,Tobias “Bias” Boshell for these lyrics.

In Part 2, of this blog, we will look closer into my family’s “inherent music abilities” and whether we are another example that supports the research that two chromosomes have genes that are linked to music ability.

44 Curiosities About US Presidents

Article originally published in, by LordZB, October 24, 2012:

There have been 43 presidents (with one serving a second term after a lost term) of the United States. Some have been memorable, others forgettable (See the Simpsons’ song about mediocre presidents). Each of them has been very human however with all the foibles and eccentricities that entails. Here are some of the strange or lesser known facts about the US Presidents.

Presidents 1 – 4

4Jm Header Sm

1. George Washington – Thinking that shaking hands was beneath the dignity of the President, Washington preferred to bow to greet guests. To avoid being forced into a handshake he would place one hand on his sword and hold his hat in the other.

2. John Adams – Adams, the second President, and Jefferson, the third, both died on the same day, July 4th 1826, exactly fifty years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Adam’s last words, probably apocryphal, are said to be ‘Jefferson survives,’ when in fact Jefferson had died hours earlier.

3. Thomas Jefferson – While a famous writer, the chief composer of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson hated public speaking and avoided giving speeches. Jefferson started the tradition of delivering written State of the Union statements, which lasted until the 20th century.

4. James Madison – Madison was the slightest President. Standing at five feet four inches and weighing less than 100lbs you would need three-and-a-half Madisons to make up a Taft, the heaviest President.

Presidents 5 – 8

7Aj Header Sm

5. James Monroe – In his re-election, Monroe ran unopposed for the Presidency. He failed to receive all the votes in the electoral college however when a rogue member cast his ballot for John Quincy Adams.

6. John Quincy Adams – Adams was fond of swimming naked in the Potomac. When an intrepid female reporter wished to get an interview with the President she stole his clothes until he agreed to an interview.

7. Andrew Jackson – Jackson was a noted duelist. When a man impugned Jackson’s wife they dueled. The man shot Jackson over the heart. Jackson cooly took aim and killed the man (Charles H. Dickinson). It was too risky to remove the bullet and so it remained in Jackson for the rest of his life.

8. Martin Van Buren – Van Buren’s first language was not English, he was raised speaking Dutch.

Presidents 9 – 12

12Zt Header Sm-1

9. William Henry Harrison – Delivered the longest inaugural address and had the shortest Presidency. His long speech in bad weather led to him developing a cold which worsened and caused his death after a month in office.

10. John Tyler – Tyler was the first Vice-President to assume office after the death of a President in office. He had the most children of any President, 15.

11. James Polk – Polk was elected on a promise not to run for a second term in office.

12. Zachary Taylor – Died from contracting cholera from a bowl of cherries washed down with iced milk.

Presidents 13 – 16

15Jp Header SmMillard Fillmore – Fillmore refused an honorary degree from the University of Oxford on the basis that he was not classically educated and so could not read the diploma, written in Latin. He said “no man should accept a degree he cannot read.”

14. Franklin Pierce – While President, Pierce was arrested for running over an old woman with his horse.

15. James Buchanan – Often rated the worst President when historians are polled. His Presidency included the secession of seven states and a major depression. Some historians believe that Buchanan was the first gay US President, he was certainly the only one to be unwed for the duration of his term of office.

16. Abraham Lincoln – Lincoln was a notably ugly man in photos but people who met him described his face as intelligent and handsome in motion. The first President to wear a beard he grew it at the suggestion of a young girl, Grace Bedell, who wrote to him.

Presidents 17 – 20

19Rb Header Sm

17. Andrew Johnson – Was drunk at Lincoln’s second inauguration. The event was described by a senator as follows. “The inauguration went off very well except that the Vice President Elect was too drunk to perform his duties & disgraced himself & the Senate by making a drunken foolish speech. I was never so mortified in my life, had I been able to find a hole I would have dropped through it out of sight.”

18. Ulysses S. Grant – Gained a reputation for drinking heavily while still a young man. When President Lincoln was warned about Grant’s drinking habits during the civil war he is supposed to have responded “If it makes fighting men like Grant, then find out what he drinks, and send my other commanders a case!”

19. Rutherford Hayes – The only President to be elected via a special congressional committee which ruled on various ballots contested during the election. His election is still contested by historians.

20. James Garfield – Could write Latin with his left hand whilst simultaneously writing Greek with his right.

Presidents 21 – 24

23Bh Header Sm

21. Chester A. Arthur – Sold off all the furniture in the White House before moving in. Lots of it dated back to the construction of the White House and any such pieces would be hugely valuable today.

22. Grover Cleveland – As well as being the only President to serve two non-consecutive terms Cleveland was a fan of the telephone and would personally answer the White House phone.

23. Benjamin Harrison – While in office Harrison had electricity installed in the White House. Unfortunately he and his wife were terrified of it and would not touch switches for fear of electrocution and often slept with the lights on.

24. Grover Cleveland – The First Democrat elected after the Civil War, Grover Cleveland was the only President to leave the White House and return for a second term four years later.

Presidents 25 – 28

25Wm Header Sm

25. William McKinley – McKinley was the first president to appear on motion picture. It can be viewed on youtube here.

26. Theodore Roosevelt – Theodore Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize, the first President to leave the country while in office, and the first to fly in an airplane.

27. William Howard Taft – Taft is best known for being the fattest President but he also holds a sporting title. He was the first President to cast the opening pitch of a baseball season.

28. Woodrow Wilson – Wilson was the best educated President, the only one to hold a PhD, and yet he did not learn to read until he was eleven.

Presidents 29 – 32

29Wh Header

29. Warren Harding – Was so fond of cards that his cabinet was known as the ‘Poker Cabinet’ because they all played together. At his poker parties alcohol, illegal during prohibition, would flow freely.

30. Calvin Coolidge – Coolidge was a man of very few words and so became known as Silent Cal. He was so taciturn that when Dorothy Parker was told he had died she replied ‘How could they tell?’

31. Herbert Hoover – Hoover and his wife spoke fluent Mandarin Chinese. When they did not wish to be overheard they would speak Mandarin.

32. Franklin Delano Roosevelt – FDR’s wife was also a Roosevelt and so did not have to change her name on marriage. At their wedding the bride was given away by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Presidents 33 – 36

35Jk Header

33. Harry S. Truman – Like the ‘S’ in Ulysses Grant’s name the S in Truman’s name meant nothing. It was only ever an S as a way of mollifying both grandfathers whose names began with S.

34. Dwight Eisenhower – Eisenhower installed the putting green at the White House. When squirrels were ruining the grass he had them removed from the gardens.

35. John F. Kennedy – When his ship was sunk in World War II, Kennedy swam 3.5 miles pulling a wounded crewman by a strap held in his teeth.

36. Lyndon Johnson – Johnson loved the drink Fresca so much that he had a fountain of it installed in the White House.

Presidents 37 – 40

38Gf Header Sm

37. Richard Nixon – Nixon so enjoyed bowling that he had the White House pool replaced with a bowling lane.

38. Gerald Ford – Ford was the only President never elected to either the Presidency or the Vice-Presidency, he was appointed by Richard Nixon as his Vice-President and assumed the Presidency after Nixon’s resignation.

39. Jimmy Carter – As a young man, Carter shot his sister with a BB gun in retaliation for her throwing a wrench at him.

40. Ronald Reagan – The blueberry flavor Jelly Belly bean was created for Reagan’s inauguration since he was a great fan of the sweets. A portrait of the President made of jelly beans hangs in his library.

Presidents 41 – 44

44Bo Header Sm

41. George H. W. Bush – While visiting Japan, Bush vomited at a banquet hosted by the Japanese prime minister. The event coined a new Japanese phrase ‘Bushusuru,’ literally ‘to do the Bush-thing.’

42. Bill Clinton – While in high school Clinton was a member of a jazz quartet who played in dark glasses. They called themselves the Three Blind Mice.

43. George W. Bush – Bush is the President with both the highest and lowest recorded approval ratings. They peaked after 9/11 and slumped after hurricane Katrina.

44. Barack Obama – President Obama is a well-known nerd who collects comic books. When Nichelle Nichols, Uhura from Star Trek, visited the White House Obama made the Vulcan salute in greeting.


An Open Valentine to My Loving Husband, Bob…

48 Valentine’s Days Together, Yet Rarely a Big To Do

Instead, we have cherished most every day by:

Image:   Bob and Joanne

Bob and Joanne

Enjoying each other’s company over coffee and tea–and how much I appreciate your thoughtfulness and random acts of love when you bring mine to me;

Laughing at each other’s stumbles and grumbles about the ways we are aging together—and especially the synchronicity at which we yawn, sniff, sigh, and adapt to aches and pains during the changing weather;

Living a mostly quiet and simple life now that we both have retired and our children are grown—but still humbled by how long it’s been, how young we first were, and how far we’ve come;

Compromising and communicating, exerting patience and understanding, that increased the harmony in our life –And, ultimately, our marital bond became more meaningful, sacred and fully removed from any former strife;

Willingly we committed to making changes and learned how to fight –through periodic times of stress, we argued and negotiated and then let go of “who was right;”

Pooling our talents, skills, likes and dislikes, we created in us a dynamic duo–We found that we could accomplish anything by working as a team, if we wanted to;

Feeling good about our relationship required first feeling good about ourselves as individuals and as a couple—We learned that a long-lasting marriage demands healthy doses of loving,  laughing, liking and respecting, doubled and redoubled;

Experiencing the many wonderful ups and difficult downs in the course of our long marriage and certainly a few moments of wanting to flee—but we slowly evolved to realize that we have a lasting relationship and one that has succeeded in a time in the world where not many are likely to succeed;

And, when all is said, I would be remiss, if I didn’t thank God above and our family and friends whom we also love for granting us this wedded bliss.

Philippians 2:3,4 says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Coulda Shoulda Woulda …

Sometimes life repeatedly places us in close proximity to one another through common interests like where we work, play, dine, or places we frequent on a regular basis like our local Starbucks, shopping center, or our community church where we attend and volunteer.  We have introduced ourselves, shaken each others hands, given each other friendly hugs, smiled and waved in passing, and often thought what a great person he must be, but… I really coulda, shoulda, woulda become more than just acquaintances.  If I had only taken the time out from my so-called busy schedule!

And today, we found out that it’s too late.  Someone we were very fond of but from an arm’s length has passed.  And, had I put myself out there like I coulda, shoulda, woulda, I wouldn’t have to learn more about this person by reading his obituary rather than sharing life’s experiences–and this I will forever regret.

To my fellow Starbucks visitor and my church community member, Len, who always gave me such warm greetings on Sundays at the doorway of our church, I say to you that I truly did enjoy every moment we shared together. You always were so very warm and friendly to me and to others whose lives you touched along the way. I wish that I coulda, shoulda, woulda shared more time with you. In one sense, our tomorrows may be over, and my opportunity to know you better on earth lost, but I will always remember you and you will continue to live on in my memories as an example of a kind and gentle person who I coulda, shoulda, woulda loved to have known better.  Until we meet on the other side, thank you, you lived and loved.

Obituary of Leonard Gordon, Jr.:

Image:  Leonard Gordon Jr

Leonard Gordon Jr
18 Feb 1942 –
11 Feb 2013

Birth: 1942-02-18 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Residence: Dunkirk, Maryland
Death: Monday, February 11, 2013
Laid to Rest: Thursday, February 14, 2013 in the Southern Memorial Gardens, Dunkirk, Maryland

Leonard Gordon, Jr., 70, of Dunkirk, MD passed away February 11, 2013. He was born February 18, 1942 in Philadelphia, PA to Leonard and Caroline (DeJames) Gordon.

In 1960, Leonard graduated from Princess Anne High School in Virginia Beach, VA and entered the United States Air Force, serving for eight years. During his stationing in Machias, Maine, Leonard met and married Judy Alberta Hooper on August 1, 1964. Upon completion of his service, he entered employment with the US Naval Oceanographic Office where he remained until his retirement in 1997.

An avid reader and world traveler, Leonard was a lifelong “knowledge” enthusiast. His interests were broad with a special fondness for astronomy. He enjoyed spending time with his children, grandchildren, friends and members of his church family from Chesapeake Church.

Leonard was preceded in death by a son David Gordon.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years Judy; sons Daniel Gordon and wife Elizabeth of Ashburn, VA, and Donald Gordon of Chesapeake Beach; a daughter-in-law Renee O’Brien of Huntingtown; and granddaughters Kate O’Brien of Durham, NC, Megan O’Brien of Huntingtown and Alexandra, Ava and Ashton Gordon all of Ashburn, VA. Also surviving are sisters Patricia Sparks of Burke, VA and Attricia DeJames of Chesapeake, VA.

Arrangements provided by Rausch Funeral Home.