Norm Houseman: Bargain Bin Bonanza

Here we go again…

This Labyrinth I Roam

Some of my happiest times were spent in record stores going through the bargain bins that were filled with records that were on sale. Some were by artists that most people had never heard of like Geoff Muldaur, and also The Tailgators. Some were by famous artists like The Serendipity Singers, who were no longer making hits. And a few were on sale because the store was going out of business; it’s where I found my first Ahmad Jamal and Dr. John albums. All were worth a look if not a listen. Oh, and I should mention that not all of my purchases were vinyl; some were on cd.

My first Geoff Muldaur album was found in a bargain bin. It was a wonderful find. I picked up the album because I knew Muldaur from Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band. Reading the back of the album cover I found out that…

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Norm Houseman: Post-Army, Pre-Auburn Music

Once more I dip into my barrel of nostalgia and share some musical memories. Thanks again, my friend.

This Labyrinth I Roam

As I mentioned in the write up for a previous mixtape I was Released from Active Duty (REFRAD) from the army in August of 1971. From the time I returned home from Germany until the time I moved to Auburn for my first job with the State of Indiana, I listened to the radio, watched television variety shows, and listened to what my friends were following. I was especially intrigued with the music I heard coming out of Chicago. There was Steve Goodman, John Prine, Bonnie Koloc, Aliotta Haynes Jeremiah, and others who are hard to find on Spotify. Top Forty radio was also a source for good pop and rock music. And, of course there was a great variety of FM stations and formats to listen to. Did I mention searching bins in record stores? I should probably do a mixtape made up of songs that I found flipping…

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Norm Houseman: Songs of Auburn

This Labyrinth I Roam

My first full-time, permanent job after getting my MS in Education was for the State in Auburn, Indiana. Nobody was hiring English teachers. I had been through college and in the army, but my musical tastes were still pretty much stuck in the 1960’s. After moving to Auburn, I developed a new group of friends and they introduced me to a variety of new, to me, artists. My friend, John, loaned me albums by The Alan Parsons Project, Pink Floyd, Randy Newman, and Jerry Jeff Walker. I worked with Sandy and Bill. One evening after work we went for pizza and beer with another fellow employee, Jane. Bill started playing music on the jukebox. I knew most of the songs but then Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and the Eagle’s Tequila Sunrise  played. I had not heard them before. I listened as Sandy and Bill sang along to Queen and Jane decided…

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Norm Houseman: Early Jazz Favorites

Here is another of my mixtapes that was used on This Labyrinth I Roam. Thanks Anju.

This Labyrinth I Roam

Between my senior year in high school, and my first year of college, I decided that I needed to expand my musical palette. So, I went to a record store and started browsing through the bins. I came to the jazz section and started looking. There I found The Dave Brubeck Quartet. I had heard of them when they had a hit with Take Five. As an added attraction most of their album covers had modern art paintings. I chose Countdown: Time in Outer Space. I took it home, played it, and couldn’t stop playing it. I became a lifelong fan. My freshman year at Indiana University they came for a concert. I had to go! My sister and brother-in-law also attended as I recall. In my dorm there was a fellow who lived a few doors down the hall from me and he had a small collection…

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Norm Houseman: Songs of 1971

Once again my dear friend allowed me to put together another mixtape. Thanks!

This Labyrinth I Roam

I could have picked any year at random and put together a mixtape, but I chose 1971 because it was the year that I got out of the army. It was August 25, 1971 to be exact. It isn’t a date I am never likely to forget. I heard many of these songs for the first time on the Armed Forces Network when I was stationed in Heidelberg, Germany. The rest I heard on various AM and FM stations back in my hometown, Rolling Prairie, Indiana. I’ve long since moved on from Rolling Prairie, but these songs always sound fresh to me.

As part of mynew mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and confidant 7 years ago when…

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Norm Houseman: Early Folk

Putting together these mixtapes allows me to wallow in nostalgia for brief periods. Thanks to Cupitonians for giving me this additional outlet.

This Labyrinth I Roam

My first two musical loves were rock & roll and folk music. I started listening to folk music in the late 1950s, but for me, the 1960s was the golden age of the genre. Plus, that was when I started earning enough money that I could afford to buy folk albums. I remember my sister giving me a Brother’s Four album as a gift. And I remember buying her an album by The Chad Mitchell Trio but deciding to keep it for myself. I don’t think she was a big folk music fan anyway. The first concert I went to, where I paid my own way, was The Chad Mitchell Trio in late 1964 or early ’65 in the Morris Civic Auditorium in South Bend, Indiana. These songs are some of my earliest favorites. I could have added other artists such as Bud & Travis, The Journeymen, Joe & Eddie…

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Stuff I think about

I took this picture three weeks ago. Since then, Spring has arrived. Soon the trees will be budding and leafing out. Life is better.

A lot of my time this past year to eighteen months has been spent thinking. What with politics, BLM, all of the sexual predators, our paternalistic society, and the pandemic there was a lot to think about. I even spent time reflecting on myself and the things I’ve done in my own life. There are plenty of things to be happy about, and a number of things that I regret doing and saying. Self-reflection can be a worrisome thing.

I spent a lot of time last night thinking about friends that I’ve lost over the years. I realized a couple of things. The first was that the great majority of those lost friendships was due to neglect. Neglect in that I didn’t take greater responsibility to stay in touch with people who didn’t live close to me. I could have called them on the telephone, but I didn’t for the simple reason that I don’t like using the telephone. I often feel tongue-tied when on the phone.

Written words are easier for me. I can take my time and edit the words that I chose. Changes can be made to better express what I want to say. I have always enjoyed sending and receiving letters and cards. Unfortunately, most of my friends didn’t enjoy letters as much as I. So gradually they stopped responding. As a result of that I stopped writing. And as a result of that, we fell out of touch.

Email came into vogue after I moved from Auburn. Once again I could correspond with people. Unfortunately for those with whom I no longer kept in touch, I had no email address. Still, with newer friends I could trade longer, considered missives. It wasn’t quite as satisfying for me, but it would do. But then, email is for me a more immediate mode of communication. I probably picked that up from work where people expected a near immediate response. At any rate, I found myself dashing off responses rather than thinking through what I wanted to say and crafting that response.

One by one, these friends stopped using email and switched to test messages. With texts you are limited in how much you can say without interruption. It really isn’t as satisfying.

I now know people who have moved on from texts and exclusively communicate through short Twitter statements and with pictures and videos on Instagram. Those media allow you to broadcast to groups rather than individuals. I have mixed feelings about.

Rather than go on about changing communication patterns, let me move on to the second thing about lost friends. It is that they never age. When I think about my lost friends from my years in Rolling Prairie or Auburn they look exactly as they did the last time I saw them. They still have the same thoughts they had back then. None have had another birthday, gotten married or divorced, or had any children. None of them voted for Barack Obama or Donald Trump. None have had a heart attack, gone deaf or blind, come down with Alzheimer’s, or died from Covid-19. There lives have been suspended in time.

If any of my lost friends come across this post, think of it as a letter from me. I’ll do my best to write again soon.

Norm Houseman: Places

Thanks once more to Cupitonians for posting one of my mixtapes. One day she will tire of using them. But until then…

This Labyrinth I Roam

I love to travel. But we haven’t been able to take any extended trips in the past year, so my travel ha been confined to daydreams and musical excursions. Lucky for me that there is a plethora of songs that have connections to geographical locations. I would like to go to most of the places in this mixtape. I don’t want to go to New York, New York; too many people. The same is true for Chicago. I don’t want to go to Kokomo; been there too often under less than desirable conditions. Kalamazoo if OK; used to date a college girl there. The rest are a blank slate.

As part of my new mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and…

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N-N-1: A Picture That Represents Inner Peace to You

Ashesh, who writes From Life to Me at hosted the most recent N-N-1. I think he did a darned good job. Thanks Ashesh.

Come one and come all to the latest N-N-1. This time I chose the theme “A Picture That Represent Inner Peace To You”. I was legit blown away by the quality of entries that came forth.

It was an honor to host this N-N-1 and my sincere thanks to Anju and Norm for letting me do it!

My first person to send me a post was Natalie who writes Wild Rivers Run South. Her post is a poem.

Sunshine and blue skies

The Sun came up this morning.


I was up to see it,

But didn’t have my camera.

So, I went back inside.

Ate breakfast.

Got my camera.

And went outside to see the blue sky.

There was a time,

When I thought there would be

No more blue skies.

I was wrong.

There is still a deep sadness,

But some of the ache is gone.

And I can see the blue in the sky.

The sun never stopped rising.

Clouds have just been hiding it.

And the blue skies.

But now there has been some clearing.

There will be more clouds,

But not every day.

Sunshine and blue skies are back.

Norm Houseman who writes Classical Gasbag had this to say:

I’ve been thinking about this ever since Ashesh first mentioned the theme to me. There are a lot of things that bring me inner peace. There is music, reading books, watching a good movie, visiting a graveyard, even eating a good meal. But I’ve taken pictures and written about those things before. Then I thought about artwork. We have paintings, posters, and prints hanging in almost every room of our house, and I find myself looking at them each time I enter a room.

Recently I started working on and adding to my stamp collection. I hadn’t touched it since the pandemic shut down most places. When you think about a collection of stamps you realize that it is like going through a miniature art gallery. You have etchings, landscapes, portraits, still lifes, pop art, and probably things that I’m forgetting. If your stamps are used there is a history attached to them, where they came from and where they were bound; the provenance so to speak.

These small pieces of art are accessible to everyone. I’m sure you can find pictures of recent and old stamps on the Internet. Take a look and soothe your inner being.

Barb sent me a charming post which is linked below. Her blog is The View from a Drawbridge.

This N-N-1 posed a great challenge to me. Inner peace has been elusive lately, due to the pandemic and the political and social turmoil. That, and how does one take an outer photograph of inner peace? Hmmm. I had to think about this for several days. And then I realized that the place that allowed me the time to ponder this project was the very place where I have been finding the most inner peace: the YMCA Community Swimming Pool.

I spent the first few months of this pandemic doing nothing. That had to stop. To keep from going insane and becoming too large to fit my clothes, I’m now doing a regular exercise routine for the first time in my life. I can’t control the rest of the world, but I can take charge of my health and wellbeing. At a time when I’m feeling otherwise helpless, this has been a precious gift that I’ve given myself. It’s also a wonderful way to spend quality time with my husband.

This photo is of my swimming exercise equipment. And the fact that it reminds me of the Cookie Monster never fails to make me smile.

Barb Abelhauser

The View from a Drawbridge

We now come to Cristopher LeCompte who is not a blogger, but happens to be married to a blogger (his words, not mine). His entry is given below.

My inner peace is found at home, hidden behind the trees at the end of this rainbow. The stormy spring weather means the daylight hours are growing longer and my dislike of long nights can be subdued for another six months. The large undeveloped park next door is home to coyotes, red-tailed hawks, a bald eagle and countless rabbits hiding in the brambles, hoping to avoid the predators for another day. This location is a personal treasure, my own pathway to inner peace and my escape from the rushing chaos of the surrounding city is literally a walk in the park.

Peace to you.


And lastly we come to Anju, who was the one who got me into this wonderful project way back when. This is what she has to say and her blog is This Labyrinth I Roam

Being stuck at home for a whole year now because of a global pandemic, I’ve had to come to terms with all the things that I have lost. It’s made me let go of the things I can’t control, and focus, instead, on the that I *can* control.

So, when Ashesh laid out the theme for this N-N-1, I was thrilled. Then, a bit overwhelmed. The date coincided with the busiest week of my life. But what it gave me was a real opportunity to figure out what truly gives me inner peace when things are a bit chaotic.  

For me, it’s the little things.

It is an open window when the sun shines. It is the crisp spring breeze that weaves itself into my consciousness when I’m neck deep in black mirrors and deadlines. It is blooming tulips after a long winter, and the smell of warm cinnamon and vanilla candles. It is the unexpected sound of birdsong in the late evening, and the cheeky smile of a stress relief toy puppy (introducing, Herbert Morning!)

This is my inner peace.

And with that, we come to the end of this edition of N-N-1. To those of you who participated, thanks a ton. To those of you willing to participate, get in touch with us ASAP! I personally found this experience very soothing and shall be glad to host another N-N-1 soon! 

Stay safe and vigilant.

Until next I come calling

The Bilge Master

Norm Houseman: Drinking Songs

My dear friend once again shared one of my mixed tape contributions with a larger audience than I could imagine. Thanks to Cupitonians.

This Labyrinth I Roam

There have been periods in my life when drinking alcoholic beverages was my favorite pastime. That ended many years ago when I spent fourteen hours in a drunk tank with a self-described paranoid schizophrenic. He talked for fourteen hours straight. I’m sure that if he is alive today he must be a leader of QAnon. He made that much sense. Just because I have stopped drinking doesn’t mean I have stopped enjoying songs about drinking. Vicarious thrills anybody?

As part of mynew mixtapes project, I have asked select friends to curate playlists for me. This mixtape is specially curated for us by Norm. He quickly became a true friend and confidant 7 years ago when I correctly recognised a floppy disk for what it was. Since then, he has seen me through all my ups and downs through perfectly timed…

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