Monday, December 11, 2017

Nurturing Monday- A Ritual To Remember My Word

I'm a big believer in the way ritual can put us in connection with our spirituality. 
Sue Monk Kidd

In 2015 I wrapped up my black plastic word 'ribbistrate' in beautiful paper and returned it to my friend Jenni who made up the word and introduced me to it in a meeting of women. 
 Combining the word ribbies, which is baseball slang for a batted in run, and monstare, which means to show we get the meaning. It is  unparalleled joy. It can be for yourself or seeing the achievement of someone else.
In 2016 my word 'mindfulness' retired as my focus word but it stayed very much front and center as a way of being. 

This year 'nurture' is retiring with honors because the reminder to nurture has changed my view of what I can do. I thought is might be a call to serve others but it has also worked to give me permission to enjoy a beautiful sunrise, to pursue a goal for the sake of learning, and to take stock of what I nurtured subconsciously, perhaps to my detriment.

To say goodbye to my word I will move the painting from above the mantle to a new location. There is already a canvas waiting for paint, to hold next year's word. I'm waiting for mail from Colleen Attara to see how next year's word looks in red. Someone asked about buying the painting with the word 'nurture' but I'm not ready to let it go. It will be in a less dominant place but still influence my actions.

              What year end rituals do you have? Do you think about them before the holidays or just as the old year slips away?

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, December 8, 2017


              The word 'only' is so exclusive

   If I accept only this or that into my life I, by definition, exclude the other choices I might encounter. If it is a matter of choosing good and bad, only choosing good is a positive thing. If it is a matter of choosing good or better, then things get more difficult. Add in choosing only the best, then many, many things will be excluded.

     I don't know for sure where I'm going with this but here is an example. I am a very visual person. I decided one day to organize my books by color or color harmony. That process of choosing, let's say, only warm colors for a shelf made me exclude many books that were similar in subject and even the same author was shelved differently. Visually the whole bookshelf was very satisfying to look at. Only, it was hard to find a book because as yet I hadn't memorized the color of every book's spine. Did I abandon my exclusive shelving idea? No, I did not. The visual appeal, for me,was better than the shelving by author or subject. Paul admonished us to choose the better way, which he later explained was the way Christ loved. His charity for others was only based on pure love. I am here on earth to learn to choose. How I organize my life should reflect my best choices. How I shelve my thoughts should attract more good thoughts which should ultimately turn me outward to others, more than inward to my own self.  

"If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."


I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 6

 National Novel Writing Month is past but I am not done. 
My first attempt to write a novel is called Rubato and it is a mystery about a piano teacher who's suspicious death leads detectives into the world of old music manuscripts and a scramble for prestige and accolades.

Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapter 1 chapter 2 ,  chapter 3, and chapter 4, chapter 5 are available.

 Chapter 6- Rubato

Beware of missing chances; otherwise it may be altogether too late some day. 
Franz Liszt

The housekeeper is annoying, thought Judith as she heard the vacuum cleaner hitting the wall upstairs. Her curiosity about the music room was suspicious. If her interest was in music she would stop her racket when Judith played. She should never have agreed to hire her. 

  Reggie called in to the precinct about the Medical Examiner’s report while Stevie drove south past the little town and towards Judith Whitesides’s house. This time the driveway down the narrow road was open. No one seemed to be parked at the bottom of the hill where three homes sat perched on the edge of the beach. Stevie wondered why there was no police presence. The police tape barred the front and back door. 
   “Let’s see if the doors are all locked. They should be.” Reggie bounded up to the back door first. He glanced into the garage to see if anything was out of order. The backdoor seemed locked but when he jostled the door handle it came open.
   “It’s our lucky day. Someone did not lock up correctly. Well, let’s see what the the crime scene team left for us.”
   Together Stevie and Reggie walked through the waterfront home. It was more quiet than their first visit, of course, but the quiet was eerie. As they looked in every room they saw only traces of the in-depth search conducted the day before, a door ajar here and papers askew there. 
   “I’ll go through the music room,” volunteered Stevie. 
   “Okay, I’m going back to the bedroom suite.”
   Clouds shadowed the sun so the music room was dimmer. It would be hard for Stevie to concentrate on what she was doing with the view in front of her. Sailboats rocked from side to side like a mother comforting her child. The land across the inlet was deeply green with thick fir trees. 
     A small plate of black licorice pieces sat on the top of the piano. How ironic that this women liked black licorice, too. Often before Stevie sat down to practice she would grab a handful of the black candy. When she mastered a section of music the licorice was her reward. She picked up the top piece of music on the right side of the music stand. Judith was teaching or maybe she herself was playing the Consolations by Franz Liszt. Number three was familiar so Stevie sat down to play. The quiet melody rang through the house bringing goose bumps to her skin. This piece started with the very softest of dynamic markings and for many measures the quiet sounds caressed the room before they swelled to intensity. An understanding of the sensitive soul of the composer traveled through the music into Stevie’s hands. 
   It traveled up the stairs to Reggie, too. He looked out the upstairs window while the music played. What negative forces lay beneath the refined setting of this house? Under what circumstances did Judith pass from this world? The music stopped for some time. Finally Reggie called down, “Are you alright done there?”
    “Can you come here?” He hurried down the stairs to find Stevie sitting on the hardwood floor pouring over aging music manuscripts from one of the drawers. They were yellow and thin on the edges. 
    “These are likely old handwritten scores made by copyists. I wonder if she brought them from Prague. Look at this letter clipped to the music.”
  He glanced quickly through the paper and immediately noticed the angry words. More slowly he carefully read accusations from an unknown source. “Your fraudulent claims need to be brought to the attention of the Conservatory board! I will see that you are fired.”
   He looked at the dates of the letters and noticed they were sent earlier this year from Budapest, Hungary. 
   “Sounds like someone had a beef with Judith over there.” He turned the letter over to see the sender’s name but it was empty. “The second page is missing. Who do you think would write this?“
   “I’m taking all the papers from her drawers.” Stevie straightened the stack. “I need time to digest this information. Can you find me a paper sack or something?”
   “This is evidence. We need to carefully document everything we remove here and get it logged in at the station.”
   “I understand,” Stevie said defensively, “but I don’t know what this all is until I have time to really study it. Tonight this can be my bedtime reading. What did you find upstairs?”
  “A prescription for sleeping pills jammed in the back of her night stand. The crime team may have found the bottle of pills and have them in evidence.” 
   “What did they say at the medical examiner’s?”
    “The autopsy is done and the report is ready. We can pick it up when we get back to Seattle.”
    Stevie felt a surge of energy go through her body. This was a recurring sensation when a case was about to open up. If Ms. Whitesides died from an overdose of sleeping pills then there would still be factors to consider. Was it accidental, intentional, or were the pills given to her by someone else? The ending of Liszt’s third consolation came floating through her mind. The middle section was turbulent and intense but ended with a satisfactory resolution. Would this story end with a positive outcome or would it reveal mysteries from as far away as Eastern Europe? 
   As Reggie and Stevie locked up the crime scene they heard a loud screaming. A tall, blond woman with wild hair came running down the driveway. 
   “Stop! I need to get in there.” Reggie moved in front of the door to block her way.
   “Excuse me ma’m. This is a crime scene. Step aside.”
    Sobbing now, the woman looked up incredulously. “You don’t understand. My tools are in this house. I need them right now.”
    “Wait a minute. Who are you?”
    “I am Judith Whitesides’ housekeeper. I heard in town that Judith died,” she blubbered a little. “My  livelihood depends on me getting the stuff out of there that I left Tuesday morning. “
     “Please, calm down. Let’s go sit down over there in the back yard.” Stevie took her arm and guided her to a lovely area with chairs behind the house. Reggie followed, already taking out his notebook. He detected a slight accent to her flawless English. Was it German? 
      “When exactly did you last see Judith?” Reggie’s voice was smooth but there was an intensity to his question.
    “Tuesday is my regular day to clean. I got here at 9:00 am and Judith sent me away. She had visitors coming and needed quiet. “Leave your stuff and I’ll call you in a couple of hours”, she said. A hundred dollar bill dangled in my face and so I did as she pleased. But, she never called.” The woman’s agitation returned. “I need to get in the house.” 
   “We can’t let you in until the crime scene investigation is complete. It could be as early as tomorrow. I’m sorry for your inconvenience. How long have you worked for Ms. Whitesides?”
   Abruptly, she bolted out of her chair and ran up the hill. Reggie ran after her but got caught by a branch, losing his balance. He righted himself and resumed the charge after her. When he reached the top of the road the woman was gone. The street was empty. He heard Stevie behind him, out of breath.
   “What the heck was that about?”  
    The detectives stood watching the road with befuddled faces.
   “Who did she say she was?”
    “She didn’t,” Stevie recalled.
    Reggie looked down at his notebook, writing. “Did you catch her accent?”
    Stevie turned and started back down the hill. “I’m going to double check that the house is secure and grab the bag of Judith’s papers before we go.”
   When she rejoined Reggie he was ready to go. ”Who can we talk to next? Anyone close by?”

    “I have an address for a Tony Chavez just north of here.  I found his name and address in Judith’s list of piano students on her phone. Let’s go ask some more questions.”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Nurturing Monday- Giving Myself A Look At The Facts

                             Just Give Me The Facts, Ma'm

With lights everywhere reflecting in windows and mirrors at Christmas time my thoughts move to reflecting back on my journey with the word 'nurture'. Today in this post I give you the facts.

  • Nurture is an active word that invites connection.
  • I nurture everyday in some way or another whether I am aware of not
  • I turned my word around to explore the negative side. There are things I nurture which are not positive
  • When I observed how I nurture I often discounted the action because it was easy
  • To nurture a relationship, eye contact and time alone count 80% more than any other way of giving

  • Nurturing good practices brings peace and contentment
  • In April, I nurtured reality, or accepting things as they are, which proved to be challenging
  • In March I nurtured the skill of giving a heartfelt apology. That changed my habit of saying, "I am so sorry, but......
  • In November I nurtured the "wilderness" of doing scary things. I joined in with other writers and wrote everyday to try to write my first novel. I wrote 25,000 words and 19 chapters. Want to take a peek?

These are facts about how I have learned to use the word in 2017. 

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.

Friday, December 1, 2017


                         Christmas Is Near

        Yesterday I took an unexpected trip to Target. The nearness of certain events caught my attention. My favorite celebration of the birth of my Savior invites me to bring more light into my life and the life of others.

   And then there is special birth coming of my 19th grandchild, a boy who has been desired for nine years. His two siblings asked for a brother or sister, with hope, countless times. It seemed like it was not to be. But, unexpectedly he made his presence known and he is due just before Christmas. The box of diapers and sweet pastel rompers sitting on my table make me feel a wee bit giddy. I'm so  grateful for births and new hope in a better tomorrow.


I have been writing with the Five Minute Friday group for more than three years and I really enjoy the talented writers who share themselves each week.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Writing Wednesday- Rubato Chapter 5

November is NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. 
My first attempt to write a novel is called Rubato and it is a mystery about a piano teacher who's suspicious death leads detectives into the world of old music manuscripts and a scramble for prestige and accolades.

Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield are homicide detectives called in to investigate in the suspicious death of a piano teacher. A link to chapter 1 chapter 2 ,  chapter 3, and chapter 4 are available.

Chapter 5- Rubato

Although Liszt was clearly a musical genius, he insisted on projecting a tonal, romantic “beauty” in his music, confining his music to a narrow range of moral values and ideals.
Letters of Franz Liszt: Volume 1

Judith closed the lid of the Steinway piano. The light coming through the window was off-center. Her practice was suffering due to the disturbance of harmony in her room. She readjusted the vase of roses. She would wait a few minutes until the light shifted.

  Reggie looked across the desk at Stevie. He noticed the shadows under her eyes. They both needed to sleep and start fresh in the morning. 
  “Can I pick you up tomorrow? We can head back to the island to talk to some of her Judith’s piano students.”
  “Do you believe her husband? Could he know so little about what was happening to his wife?
  “There are all kinds of marriages. Some exist sorely for themselves and others exist for the magnifying of the whole. In time we’ll find out what happened. We always do.”

   Reggie parked his car outside the bungalow the next morning. He did not honk but opened the car door and started walking to the front door. He stopped when he saw Stevie come out of the garage. She wore a dark, fitted pantsuit and bright yellow shirt. A thin red patterned scarf surrounded her neckline. Her long, dark hair, which was often tucked into a hat, flowed like chocolate sauce. Reggie liked the contrast of the yellow shirt against her hair. A backpack was loosely hanging from her shoulders. She got in and smiled. 
    “Need some coffee?”
    “You know I don’t drink caffeine. Do you really forget every time or are you wanting to get my attention?”
   “Nah, I didn’t forget. Reach behind you. There is a chamomile and milk concoction for you and some black juice for me.”
    “Thank-you. Where do we start today?”
    “What other contact information have  you pulled off Judith White’s phone?’
     “I have her recent calls, her business calendars, texts from students and a text from her husband when he arrived in Seattle. There are e-mails from a contact in Prague having to do with music manuscripts.”
   “How did you figure out her password on the phone?”
   “I guessed she might use an Italian musical reference. After a few tries it opened with the password ‘rubato'.”
    “So what does that mean?” 
     “Rubato is a musical term which means temporarily leaving a strict tempo to allow an expressive quickening or slowing, usually without altering the overall pace. Romantic composers like Chopin and Liszt used rubato to heighten the feeling of the notes. I can guess she played their music because they used rubato often in their compositions.”
   “So, tell me again why you know so much about music.”
    “Reggie, I told you I once majored in music performance, remember?” She looked quizzically at Reggie. “I thought that one day I would be a concert pianist like my mother, but I stalled and found the constant comparisons to my peers left me empty. I shifted to criminal law to distance myself from the arts.”
    “So, do you play much these days?”
    “Every time I’m home. I need it like I need air to breathe.” Stevie giggled thinking about the amount of time she really had to practice. “Are you surprised?”
     “I guess I am. You don’t talk much about music.”
    “It is a personal haven. What is your personal haven from  solving crimes? Do you run, swim, work out at a club?”
   It was odd to Reggie that they didn’t talk about personal things. Would she laugh when he confessed that he liked putting together model airplanes? Often when his mind was cluttered with facts about a case he would mentally go inside a recent project and turn the plane around to see how the pieces  would fit. 
   “I put together model airplanes.”
  “Really?” She paused, thinking. “Why are you drawn to that?”
  “I love seeing how it will come together. Not unlike solving a case. But, less drama and deception.”
   The ferry was coming into the dock and Reggie searched his pocket for the police pass to show at the the booth. 
   “Where shall we go first?” Stevie was expecting that they would go back to the victim’s house to do a second search. She recommended a closer stop. “According to Judith’s contacts, Mrs. Taylor and her son live right off the main highway in town. Let’s do another interview before we go back to Judith’s house.”

  Reggie slowed the car looking for the address. The street was tree lined and quiet. A mailbox with black and white notes gave away the correct destination. Mrs. Taylor’s house was small and older but neat and tidy. They parked in a turn-around driveway. As they approached the front door, small metal musical notes danced along the front of the house.
   “Hello?” Mrs.Taylor opened the door with surprise.
    “Mrs.Taylor? Detectives Watts and Dangerfield. Could we come in and ask you some more questions about Judith Whitesides?”
   “Okay, please come in.” She opened the door wider and motioned them to sit in a comfortable living room. A black lacquered Yamaha baby grand filled almost half the space of the room. Several paintings of sunrises over water, graced the walls. 
   Stevie sat in a brown over-stuffed chair and started the conversation. “I noticed that you had a lesson scheduled with Judith on Wednesdays right after your son.”
   “Yes, of course. I’ve been taking lessons for the last year. Judith has much to offer as a teacher of classical music. You see I’m a piano teacher, as well. She really opened my understanding of Bach and Liszt.”
   “So you were competitors?” Reggie asked
   “Not really.” Mrs. Taylor laughed. “Judith attracted older and adult students which is why I started my son with her. Judith had a master’s degree in piano pedagogy and supported my desire to continue my own education.” Sudden tears glistened in Mrs. Taylors eyes. “I will miss her tutoring very much. She was inspiring and maddening at the same time. Sometimes she seemed pretentious when she talked about her teaching lineage but I enjoyed her love of music.”
      Mrs. Taylor thought for a minute how to explain the idea of a teacher pedigree. So many nuances in music could not be written in the score. Each music era had a style that was passed from teacher to student in a ‘hands on' fashion. Sound over notation transmitted more than could ever be read on the musical page.
   "Her teacher’s teacher’s teacher’s teacher was taught by Franz Liszt. Who in turn was taught by Carl Czerny, and Czerny was taught by Beethoven. I’m dropping a lot of big names here aren’t I?” Mrs.Taylor stopped to see if her rambling was of any interest. 
    “I’m following.” Stevie encouraged her to go on. 
     “Judith was not a cozy teacher. Not every child or even adult would warm up to her. She was exacting, somewhat tactless, and over the top obsessed with beauty. Everything around her had to be beautiful, her home, her furniture, even her clothes.  For me, she offered information about places in Europe where she studied and taught and where the world of classical began, which I only knew through books.”
     Reggie interrupted somewhat impatiently. “Do you know of anyone who wanted to do her harm?”
    “Why?” Mrs.Taylor looked alarmed and suddenly very frightened. “Wasn’t her death an accident?”
    Stevie patted her hand reassuringly. “We are unsure of the cause of death. These inquiries are standard. Could you tell us again what you observed Wednesday at your lesson time? Especially we need to know anything you noticed when you went into her bedroom. ”
    Mrs. Taylor shifted on her chair and looked out the large window. “As I entered her bedroom I was immediately drawn to her sleeping body. She looked peaceful. The shades were drawn but sunlight was escaping in between the blinds.” She turned to Stevie with frightened eyes. “Who would want to hurt her?”
   “That is what we need to find out. Did you see anything on her nightstand?”
   “What?” She asked in wonder. “ Ah….there was a lamp, a music score, and maybe a glass of water. I—I can’t remember for sure.”
    Reggie sensed that they were through getting useful information. “Thank-you for being so helpful. If you have any ideas or thoughts here is our card.” 
   Stevie stood and looked around at the paintings. “You seem to have a strong sensitivity to beauty yourself. I can see why you appreciated Judith’s aesthetics. May I ask you a personal question? Do you think $10,000 a month is average for a piano teacher’s income?”
   Mrs. Taylor’s mouth dropped open. “What? I don’t make that much. Judith was charging us seventy-five dollars an hour and I could barely come up with that fee every month. I suppose if she worked everyday for at least six hours that could be right. But, I got the impression she had, at the most, five students on Wednesdays. Her lessons were mostly 45 minutes long. My son and I shared an hour lesson.”
   “You have been most helpful.” She glanced at Reggie who was ready to leave.

   As they pulled out of the driveway Stevie asked why Reggie was so eager to leave. 
    “I didn’t think she had anything new to offer the investigation. Was I wrong?”
     Stevie answered tactfully, “I was gathering more information from someone who genuinely cared. We haven’t talked to many who knew and cared about her much.” 

    Reggie nodded and then looked over at Stevie. In unison they said, “We need the coroner’s report.”

                                      Chapter 6

Monday, November 27, 2017

Nurturing Monday- The Gift That Lies Beneath The Surface

"If you have a good inner life, you don't get lonely. I've got a good imagination. I don't miss romance." 

Diana Rigg

This Nurturing Monday brings me to a new gratitude for the life within that is available to all who seek it. On the surface, the winds may be howling, creating turbulent movement that leaves us unsteady, but underneath our inner life can glow, beckoning us to return.

My life inside is made up of practices. I repeat them daily. There is prayer and meditation, in fact I came up with six habits that bring me happiness. Three of them fill my inner life. 

Pray, Study, and Create all furnish my cozy, inside nook. So how does my one little word fit in? Choosing one little word each year provides a focus and intention to use that word to move my inner life forward. When it is active and glowing that private life can grow up into my outward, public life. Turning outward toward others and serving is easier. Choosing self care of exercise and nutrition is easier. There are lulls, of, course. Some days I want to play hooky. All in all, my word nurture gently reminds me to return to practices that heal and rejuvenate. 

To go to the overview of My Year of Nurturing click  here.