Every Home Had A Hearth

Hey there! How’s it going?

My family recently spent several evenings watching the Hogwarts wizard series Harry Potter. JK Rowling, author of the original story, excels in creating mind pictures of nostalgic thoughts in an old dude like me, as do the subsequent movies.

In one of the movies, it dawned on me that, at Hogwarts, most every room in the castle has a fireplace or two, which, regardless of what is happening in the story, whether it be gushy or gory, the scene is heightened or softened by a roaring fire on a hearth. (One of her main characters even reveals himself to Harry in the smoldering embers of a dying fire trying to come back to life.)

All this fireplace stuff reminds me of my childhood. I grew up in rural farm country in the 1950s, which means that many of the houses in which I romped and lived, including my birthplace, were heated by either natural gas or electricity. For the young adults in those days, the statement “That’s progress!” was a mantra to bolster the idea that changing with the times was an admirable progression from the past into the future. As noble a thought as that is, I believe, however, it is good to put it into proper perspective.

Thinking back of other homes from the distant past, such as my grandparents’ homes and their parents’, brothers’ and sisters’ homes, I believe I could also make a case for the statement “Progress may also be regressive in some ways.” All the old folks’ homes had hearths, and the fireplace was one of the main centers of their family lives, a by-gone feature due to progress that may bear re-evaluation. Is it possible that American families have lost vital connectivity these days since we don’t need hearths anymore?

When I came along, my Dad’s parents still lived in the very house where they raised up in their eight children on an eighty-acre farm. The family began with their first daughter, my aunt Jo, born in 1911. The central focus of the house was a huge multi-hearth fireplace with a single flew expelling smoke from three hearths through the center of the roof. Every room had its own fireplace, its own access to the heating source. My grandest memories were, after Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day meals, everyone retiring to one of the three rooms to enjoy the afternoon by one of the three fires. All those wonderful memories were solidly implanted into my being by people gathering around the hearths.

It is eye-opening that progress, as necessary as it is, may consequentially cause crucial necessities from the past to disappear–things we may forget, but, also, things necessary for humanity, and consequentially, in some way, must be replaced. The hearth stands for that replacement of such necessities, especially in family togetherness. Before my grandparents’ generation, a house without a hearth was unheard of, even in warm climates. Every house had one. They were a means of existing and surviving, and the fires on the hearth brought families to life.

So What? Should we put fireplaces back in every house as a primary source of heat? No. That’s impractical and hardly feasible. Most fireplaces now are mainly for novelty and show anyway since they are not necessary for existence. It isn’t the hearth that must be present in every home, but the positive things that hearths brought about in families in a by-gone world. The following are just some vitals I thought of that must not go away in families.

Security is one of those necessities. The positivity of warmth and shelter from a cold and oftentimes hostile outdoor environment enables and encourages family members toward a sense of security in each other. The inner strength from the by-gone fire on the hearth heightened those feelings to euphoria. So many of today’s families fail to foster children in their homes. Fathers and mothers, challenged on every side with negative experiences and unhopeful outlooks, unfortunately pass fear and distress on to their closest of kin, their kiddos. That must be changed in some way so that the kids, in adulthood, look upon their home as a refuge of strength and safety rather than a disdained place to be avoided.

Togetherness is another vital need. A common problem among families is that many are splintered and disjointed. Modern lifestyles tend to pull family members apart rather than closer together, causing people, who should be close, to be aloof from each other. A warm house is appealing and families tend to join each other around a fireplace, or a virtual facsimile thereof, because of its common draw to fellowship.

Necessity for the common good is another. In order for a fire to exist, the family had to work to get the necessary wood for fuel. My Dad said he and his brothers would get out in the cold winter with their Dad to cut firewood. Looking back on the back-breaking work that was necessary for their family to survive the winter set in motion a work ethic that enabled him and our mother to more than adequately provide for us kids. That made him feel good. We live in a time where families are entitled and our children grow up sometimes believing everything is a handout. An important principle that fathers and mothers need to instill in their children is that nothing is free. There must be sweat and toil for survival.

Love and Affection, a fireplace commodity, are as vital as the air we breathe. All of the above necessities revolve around one basic principle: Love each other. My grandparents’ families had huge struggles with each other, children and parents alike, but I realized as I got older the depth of love they had for each other. Love is a hearth principle. Sounds like ‘harsh principle’ doesn’t it? Well, sometimes love is harsh. But people around a hearth know that even if harshness happens, when they get back together, it’s not ‘harshness’ but ‘hearthness’ that rules the moment. As Apostle Paul says, “Love never fails!” (1 Corinthian 13:8)

Truer words were never spoken.

By for now!


Happy New Year Three-and-a-half Months Later

Hey there.

I know you are probably thinking “Why has it been so long since your Happpy New Year Post?” and yes I could come up with excuses but, suffice it to say, I’ve been very busy and now I’m back! Wow, what a difference it is since January 19, 2020! On that day, the United States of America–the place where I wrote about in my New Year’s Day post, “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, on that third Sunday of the new year–was COVID-19-free.

The next day the first Coronavirus case was detected in Washington State, and on February 1 there were 8 cases reported, with no deaths. On March 3, our great nation found 122 cases with 7 deaths, and by mid-March we were staring at 2,726 cases with 54 deaths. By the end of March, we were just under 150,000 cases and over 2000 deaths. Today, April 11, 2020, the total of cases at the beginning of today was 459,165 with 16,570 total deaths. Think of all the loss and heartache the above scenario has caused.

Additionally, our citizens are doing things we would never have thought possible in a million dreams: Quarantining our families in our homes; unable to go to work; our kids can’t go to school; limited recreation; we can’t visit our sick family and friends in hospital; we can’t even go into a Walmart through a door of our choice; and I could go on and on. Happy New Year indeed!

So what, FD? Well, my ‘so what?’ is the Seven Vital Lessons we must take away from the Coronavirus experience.

1. Respect your situation! Don’t think for a second that humans are off the hook for dealing with the situations life hands us, just because they may be hard or out of the ordinary. A corollary to that is ‘Take care of your business! Like Aretha Franklin sang in her song titled RESPECT, “Take care, TCB!” right before her backup singers cranked up ‘sock-it-to-me’ over and over. (TCB=Take Care of Business) Business is a metaphor for life. Never take life for granted , since yours just may be the one you’re giving up.

2. Hold the people around you close. Though the humans closest to you may bug you the most, your first order of taking care of business is within yourself, and it’s hard but crucial for your family. A typical personal dynamic is to get away from the house, ie., the kids, the spouse, the pets, or whatever. That is why not getting to go to work because of the pandemic is so tough. The pandemic doesn’t allow for ‘getting away’, since the whole concept revolves around the adults in the house stepping up and being the adults! Duh! That means embracing and interacting with a family in need because it is family–now the hard part–and loving it!

3. Promote the concept, ‘we will survive individually and together.’ There are no fail-safe positions. We win or not, and the risk of losing is hardly palatable. So we turn to a positive attitude, one that says ‘regardless of the situation, we will make it.’ It’s like the M. Night Shyamalan movie Signs. Mel Gibson’s character was the opposite of a positive role model, but his kids changed that dim picture he had of himself to one of hope: A hope that they used to overcome an extraterrestrial foe, which they did.

4. Show deference to a higher power than yourself. In other words, let faith in something, or someONE bigger than you help you to cope with what is happening. I hope you have a faith in something or someone that is bigger than you are. I was raised to believe in God and his Son, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I can’t imagine my life, especially when being tested with trials beyond imagination, without my Lord. You may have a totally different concept of someone bigger than you, but whatever it is, stop and think about how necessary a higher power is for all of us.

5. Have courage to step out and do the out-of-the-ordinary. When I was in the United States Navy Band, I toured with a big band that regularly played for Sparky Anderson at Cincinnati Reds Riverfront Stadium. I had to go out with a huge lollipop singing The Candy Man, a feat not suitable for any human, but I did it. Every time the Reds won, but what a price to me. It didn’t matter. The Reds won and the band got to sit up in the press box with the big Whigs. When you do your job, regardless of its personal cost, that is what is important. Just do it!

6. Show up, rain or shine. We all have to do our part in this pandemic. I look at the jobs of first responders, doctors and nurses and, of course, our leaders in the federal and state governments, and I am awed at how stressed they must be, but yet they keep doing it. They get little time away from the front lines of this pandemic and yet they keep doing it. Why? Money? Power or prestige? No. It’s their jobs. Not the job they get paid to do, but the job they feel the need to do. What a marvelous example of showing up, rain or shine.

7. Give thanks!

Bye for now.



This Is It!

Hey there!

Yes, this is it. This next week I will release my new book, A Door To Old Worlds.

My first book, A Door To New Worlds was released a little over two years ago. You can view and read it on Amazon Kindle. Just enter my name, F.D.Sutherland and it will come up. After this week, both books will come up. Here’s a preview of #2:

Ted, Terri and Diane are gifted students from Murray, a small college town in western Kentucky.  When the three are awarded a unique experience journey in a mid-19th century Austro-German world, their “best friends” relationships are strained since they at times struggle with each other and within themselves.  The world famous musicians they get to meet on their journey lead them through unknown worlds around them and within them, helping them secure an appropriate course for their gifted future lives.

Check both books out. I hope you will LIKE them in as many places as possible!

See you later.

FD Sutherland


A Door To Old Worlds: F.D. Has Done It Again

Hi there.

Yes, F.D. Sutherland has a new book coming out in August 2019. However, you may not have read his first book A Door To New Worlds, published on Amazon Kindle in March 2017. Both books are historical fictions for middle age to adult readers about modern day school students meeting great musicians from the past.

Book 1, A Door To New Worlds is about students from 21st century Minnesota meeting the great Czech composer Antonin Dvorak at an 1893 setting of Minnehaha Falls in Minneapolis, and then traveling with him by train all the way to New York city, again based on the real facts, to experience one of the most important historical events in the world of music.

Book 2, A Door To Old Worlds, similarly explores mid-19th century Europe where modern day students from the United States meet one of the most significant composer of the Romantic Period of music history.

All the books in this series are and will be designed to teach real historical facts in a real life story with a bit of fantasy thrown in. F.D. Sutherland spends much time researching and getting his facts straight so that children and adults who read these books can know that they are reading real, historical musical life.

See below for a link to Book 1, and please don’t forget to let us know what you thought.

A Real Life Story with Real Historical Facts and a Bit of Fantasy Thrown In

Check back later.

Bye for now.


Baseball? Strange Subject…

Hey there!

It’s a strange subject for an opera, don’t you think? Baseball? Really?

Well, it is and it isn’t. Operas are about every subject imaginable and some can be way out there.

I have always been a fan of baseball. I left a couple of shoe boxes full of baseball cards at home when I left for college like some of you did. For the life of me I could not find them anywhere when I remembered them after 25 years. That may have been a couple hundred thou down the drain but then who really knows.

Anyway, I remember the story of Shoeless Joe Jackson from growing up and being fascinated by the intrigue of it, intrigue renewed in 1989 by the movie Field of Dreams, and now again, 30 years later by The Minnesota Opera. This weekend we can go and have Shoeless Joe right on stage again, not in Chicago but in St Paul, just like in 1919 (the year my Mom was born and my Dad was 2-years-old).

If you take a look at our News Page you can get all the information you need about experiencing this newly commissioned opera on a unique subject for an opera to be about.

Hope to see you there.

Bye for now!