Friday, December 14, 2018

Still


Creativity brings a stillness to your soul

When the season becomes hectic bring beauty to the table 




I'm not talking about the dinner table, I'm talking about about a creativity board to enliven your senses.



Bring in some things from outside like the blooms off my winter Rhododendron bush, a sprig of holly, some acorns, a cone, and withering foliage from another bush.


Add some color and your favorite word.



  Lastly, bring in some stripes and a succulent with terrific texture and voila, you have a gathering to delight the senses. Today is the 14th of December and very soon the days will start getting longer. 

A creativity board always bring stillness.


I should give credit to Philippa Stanton of Brighton England who inspires me to be consciously creative everyday.


Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Chapter Six- The Gymnopédist



Chapter Six

With musicians, things are different……they are often attracted to absurdity.
                                                                                         Erik Satie

When Eric Satie made a break with the conventional way of writing music by eliminating the time signature and bar lines, his father, also a musician, was aghast. Miguel admired the decision of this eccentric composer to go against the norm. He was also striking out in ways that his family didn’t approve of.  The third Gnossienne had instructions written above the score which made Miguel smile. “…in a manner to achieve nothing…”
That was a manner he brought to walking the wire. He moved with conviction to achieve nothing.


   They found Jorge in a room at the Juvenile Detention Center. The attendant motioned for them to sit in the common area outside the Jorge’s room. The round fake wood veneer table were attached to black plastic stools. Reggie sat down uncomfortably on one of the stools, looking around at the two story hallway. Brightly painted cell doors attempted to make the institution look like a happy place. 
   Jorge emerged from one of the rooms on the ground floor, looking from left to right. His eyes seemed wide, almost as if he were staring into headlights. It was Stevie who stood and walked over to him, extending her hand.
  “I am Detective Dangerfield, Jorge. We talked earlier, do you remember?” She asked.
  Reggie saw Jorge look at Stevie’s hand and did not offer his own. 
  “I remember, Detective. What is going to happen to me?” 
   Stevie motioned for them to join Reggie and they sat together for a few minutes in awkward silence. Jorge’s deep brown eyes looked like a dog Reggie once owned. He would put his head on Reggie’s lap and stare up, longingly.
   “Your parents should be coming and you will be assigned an attorney. Can we ask you a few more questions? You don’t have to talk to us but we would appreciate understanding what happened more clearly this morning. ” Reggie took the lead wanting to extract the necessary facts before the boy was told to shut up by an attorney.
    “I have been answering questions for hours.” Jorge  pushed his hair to the side and rubbed his forehead. “If Miguel had worn his Satie Suit this would not have happened. It was his lucky outfit.”
   “What do you mean? What is a Satie Suit?” Reggie wondered if this was part of the paraphernalia of wire walking. 
    “Erik Satie is a music composer.” Stevie smiled at Reggie and then turned to Jorge.    
     “Did he copy an outfit worn by Satie?” Stevie asked.
    “He said it was like something Satie would wear. He picked it up at Goodwill. It was a tan, satin coat with a fancy stand up collar and deep pockets.” Jorge rubbed his neck as if to indicate where the collar would fit. “It reminded me of a magicians outfit. He wore it with sweatpants whenever we did a new installation.”
  “Why didn’t he have it on today?” Stevie asked.
  “I’m not sure. It was really hot this morning even though it was early.” Jorge’s voice broke and a large sigh escaped his throat.
   Reggie shifted on the stool. The plastic was not very wide and he felt it cut into his sit bones.
   “Jorge, the detectives feel that Miguel’s fall had to do with your family retaliating over something the Cervantes gang did to your brothers. Is that true?” Reggie asked.
   Jorge stood up and circled around the eating area. He came back and muttered under his breath.
   “Miguel and I had nothing to do with gangs.”
    “But both of your brothers are in rival gangs, right? They are in conflict with each other all the time.” Reggie saw the agitation in Jorge’s body.
    “I don’t know what my brother’s are doing. Miguel didn’t want anything to do with the gangs either.” Jorge turned towards Stevie repeating emphatically.
    “I don’t have anything to do with gangs.” 
     “Did your brothers know what you were doing today?” Stevie asked keeping her voice barely above a whisper, aware that the surveillance video would be watched later by Detective Mullins.
   “I went to Miguel’s last night with my brother’s truck. I told my brother I needed to pick up some stuff at the Boy’s Club. He lets me haul equipment sometimes. We packed up our gear and this morning I picked up Miguel before anyone was awake at my house. I doubt any of our brothers knew what we were doing.” Jorge turned his back on Reggie and stretched out his arms to touch his knees. 
   “Where did you and Miguel first meet?” Reggie asked.
   “The Boys Club in Highland Park had activities and we met up there. Both of us liked acrobatics and Alex said that we were good at the balance beam and parallel bars.”    
   Jorge swiveled around to face them again.
  “That’s what we cared about.”
   Stevie lightly touched Jorge’s shoulder with her hand. 
   “Who is Alex?”
    “Alex Douglas is a volunteer at the Boys Club. He was a gymnast years ago and even went to the Olympics. I mean he tried out to get on the gymnastics team but didn’t actually make it.”
   “And he introduced you and Miguel to wire-walking?” Reggie noticed Jorge shake his head ever so slightly.
    “He didn’t? How did you start walking the wire?” Reggie pressed for more information.
    “Alex brought us to a park one day and he had a friend who set up an A-frame with a slack line. We started a few feet off the ground and over time we walked up higher and higher.” Jorge swiveled the stool back and forth.
    “So, who was this other person in the park?” Reggie asked.
    “His name was George. He came to the club twice a month.” Jorge crossed his arms and rubbed his elbows.
    “Who came up with the idea to walk between the towers?” Reggie asked.
    “It was Miguel. We both liked the old bell towers and often climbed up to look out at the town. It was way too high for me. I would have freaked out walking across that wire……” Jorge choked up and tears started down his face. He brushed them away with the back of his hand.
    “And, how did the two of you have access to the right equipment to attempt a walk like this?” Reggie asked. He was baffled how two teenage boys had the expertise and wherewithal to make this happen. 
   “Well….George was a good teacher and provided all the equipment to the club. Alex was busy and basically gave the interested kids over to us to teach. That meant we had to set up the slack lines in the gym and sometimes in the park. George was there when we went to the park. But, we brought all the equipment in my brother’s truck. So we had access to hemp ropes, wire, fasteners, ….everything.”
    “Is this a part-time gig or have you been doing this all summer?” Reggie asked.
    “It’s a summer job and we get paid to help with the classes. We earn more than we could anywhere else.”  
     “More than selling drugs with your brother’s gang?” Reggie asked, not really believing that he had no knowledge of his brother’s activities.
   Jorge dropped his head and was silent for several minutes. Reggie caught the glare from Stevie over the top of Jorge’s head. He raised his eyebrows and shrugged his shoulders.
    Jorge turned and looked intently at Stevie. “Are you her daughter?” He asked. 
    Stevie was surprised by this off hand question. 
    “Who’s daughter?” She asked.
    “The piano teacher, Mrs. Hanson.” Jorge looked over at Reggie and Reggie looked back at Stevie. “You know,…she taught Miguel piano at your house.” 
    “You came to my house?” 
     Stevie looked at Jorge and he answered defensively.
    “Yeah, I came a few times and listened. Your mother didn’t have anything against two hispanic kids coming over to her house.” Reggie saw the defensiveness in Jorge’s face. “She was proud of Miguel. I was amazed how good he could play.”
    “I am not surprised that my mother taught Miguel but I am surprised you connected me to her.”
   “You look like her.” Jorge grinned and added quietly, “She told us you were a detective.”
   “My mother really admires Rosa, Miguel’s mother. She has worked for us for years.” Stevie said.
    Reggie heard voices from the other end of the facility. He wanted to know a little more about Alex Douglas before they got interrupted.
    “Where can we find Alex?” Reggie asked. 
     Jorge turned towards him and answered. “You can always find him after school at the Boy’s club. That is when most of the classes happen.”
     A bell sounded and Jorge jumped up. Reggie could see he was frightened. 
    “I want to go back to my room.” He walked down the short flight of stairs towards the security guard. He never looked back.

               Back To Index of Chapters
    

Friday, November 23, 2018

Value

What activities have the most value today?

I had to ask myself that question today as I hosted my son's family for Thanksgiving. What do I do with these four teenagers? Even more than eating, how could we spend quality time together? 



The best I could come up with was to invite them to go walk with me. The air and beauty, the slow conversations, the dog smelling and exploring, and the sound of quiet was of the most value in bonding us together. 


Mary Oliver

INVITATION
Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
melodiously
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude –
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.

– Mary Oliver (Devotions, Penguin Press 2017, 107-108)





Friday, November 2, 2018

Repeat

Some things get easier when you repeat

I was scrolling through Instagram this morning to see what I was doing a year ago today. I was pleased to see that I am repeating my actions from last year. I am writing. Last year daring to take the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) challenge seemed a little audacious. But I carefully added up all the words in my book. That book has gone through several edits and is done, as done as it needs to be at the moment.




   Today is day two of another NaNoWriMo. This year I am writing a sequel. This is a story of a young boy who is obsessed with the music of Erik Satie and wire walking. How did these two loves come together? The answer to that question is no stranger than what caused him to tumble from a 60 foot wire in the middle of his little town. It is dangerous to show you unedited work but here is a little peek at the first few chapters. 





  It feels great to know that I've tried and succeeded once and perhaps this novel will work as I repeat this lengthy process.



Friday, October 19, 2018

Who

Who Am I That Thou Seest Me?

Inherent in human nature is the desire to be special. It can be hard to believe that a God could love us because we are just a tiny speck of all His creations. But yet he has capacity to single us out and invite us to be his. 



   Take the story of Hagar out of the Old Testament. She felt scorned by Sarah, Abrahams's wife and handled herself in a way that made being with his family impossible. Alone with only her son she is cast out. Is this the end of the story? Not by a long shot. She is singled out and visited by an angel of God. He promises her protection and a noble posterity for his son. 


Painting by Elsbeth Young

Genesis 16:7, 10-11
"And the angel of the Lord found Hagar by a fountain of water in the wilderness....And and angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for the multitude...The Lord hath heard thy affliction."


He Hears Me




Wednesday, October 17, 2018

A New Chapter Two



                Chapter Two

                       I have never written a note I didn't mean.
Erik Satie

The supplies, including the wire, were already in Jorge’s truck. They made the transfer from Miguel’s garage to the truck in secret the night before. A very slight breeze moved over his face. It felt as delicate as the melody line to his current favorite piano piece. Music was intertwined with his walking on wire almost as tightly as the braided steel he walked on. He felt the wire with his toes the same way he felt the keys on the piano, the effort was intentional but the weight from his arms and legs was relaxed and only carried enough force to propel him forward. 
Miguel saw the lights on Jorge’s truck go out as he came to a stop in front of the house.


       
Stevie Dangerfield felt the perspiration on her neck. A drop trickled down between her shoulder blades. She pulled her thick, brown hair back into a pony tail. It was only 9:00 am but the heat was going to reach record levels today. The Seattle precinct was air-conditioned but the unit in the Homicide division was broken. Small fans placed around the room hummed, working hard to move the stagnant air. 
The computer in front of her flickered and the report she was reading blurred before her eyes. A haunting piece of music was circling around in her head. The tone was minor. Grace notes flitted up and down the octaves, louder first and followed by the same melody more softly, as an echo. Before coming to work she had seen the sheet music sitting on the music stand on her piano. Her mother was likely teaching the piece to one of her students. She couldn’t resist playing through the familiar Gnossienne No. 1 by Erik Satie. The mood was both eery and peaceful. The tune followed her to work and now she had a nagging ear worm leaving her in a melancholy mood.
She looked over at Reggie Watts, her partner, sitting at his desk facing her. His dark hair looked slightly damp around the ears. It looked like it had been recently cut. The white shirt he was wearing was open at the neck and she noticed his pulse beating regularly at the base of his neck. A slight shadow of a beard on his cheeks and under his nose gave him a rakish appearance. She forced herself to look away and back to the screen. 
She picked up on some discrepancies in the police report from their last case as she refocused and starred at the list of items recovered from a crime scene. 
“Stevie!” 
Reggie’s voice interrupted her search for more errors. She looked up and noticed Captain Monson standing behind Reggie. Where did he come from? He was looking at her quizzically as if he had been talking to her. His expression was serious but not unkind. 
 “Sorry, what did I miss?” She liked Captain Monson so much better than other bosses she had in the past. She trusted his instincts and appreciated his confidence in her police work. 
“Whatever you are doing must be gripping. As I was saying...,"
 The Captain cleared his throat now that he had her attention.
 "I am asking you and Watts here, to take an assignment outside this precinct. The Highland Park City Police Chief is a friend of mine and he has reached out for help. They had a suspicious death this morning. He needs a couple of detectives to investigate who are outside of his team and who can make some delicate inquiries. I recommended the both of you and he is asking that you go over there immediately.” It bothered Stevie that Captain Monson was not meeting her eyes.What was he not telling them. 
“Can you give us more information?” Reggie asked.
“No, I need you to just go and investigate. Find out what happened and work with the other ………” Captain Monson turned away before he finished the sentence.  
Reggie pulled his tall athletic body up from his desk and grabbed his pack. Stevie watched Reggie take his holster and gun from his desk and carefully place it inside. He looked at her expectantly. 
“Do you know the address?” Stevie asked.
“I’ve been to Highland Park. It’s about 20 minutes south of Seattle. Come on, pull yourself away from that report.” He was moving towards the door and Stevie had to quickly grab her gear to catch him. 

While Reggie was driving south on the 509 highway, Stevie was still in a foggy state of mind. Her thoughts jumped from idea to idea leaving her a little muddled. She went back to remembering a few nights earlier. That night she had accompanied Reggie to a care facility where she played the piano for a group of residents, including Reggie’s father, who was living there after a debilitating stroke. They sang songs from the forties and fifties. Harry, Reggie’s father asked to sing his favorite, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” a Richard Rodgers composition. The tune was familiar to Stevie but the words were new. As she played she listened and watched Harry sing the lyrics, “Couldn’t sleep, wouldn’t sleep, then love came and told me I shouldn’t sleep.” He smiled at her while he sang with a rich baritone voice. His eyes drifted over to his only son. As Stevie followed Harry’s glance she noticed Reggie was watching her. He looked away when she caught his eye.
 It made her self conscious now to be sitting next to Reggie in the car. What was she feeling for him. His right hand was resting on the console between them while his other hand tapped the steering wheel. She looked at his large hand and noticed the well kept cuticles. His fingernails were evenly cut straight across. 
“What are you thinking about?” Reggie asked. 
A warmth came up into her face and she turned to look out the driver’s side window.
“I’m thinking about what could be going on in the Highland Park precinct.” She kept her face turned away hoping the color would return back to normal.
“I’ve never heard of loaning homicide detectives to another city, have you?” Stevie turned back to Reggie and agreed that it was a weird request.
 “We may be heading into an awkward situation. Let’s play it cool and not ruffle any feathers.”

“Agreed.” Stevie took a deep breath and met Reggie’s eyes. 

                                          Chapter 3

Friday, October 5, 2018

Share

                 Can I Share the Love of God?

How does God do it? How can he make me feel so cherished and loved and still have enough to make every other child of his feel loved exclusively, too?


Artist Caitlin Connolly
Love One Another, Even As I Have Loved You

That must be the way it is.

 If I don't love you then it is harder to feel his love, right?
Love grows when it is shared.
I doubt God's love when I am miserly. How can He love me when I clutch his love tight to my chest and bury it deep within me? 
I feel it so much more when I turn outward towards you and extend my hand. 
When I show love I feel it radiate out of me and fill the space around me and even more, I feel it move towards every other human being. 


Give said the little stream.
Give oh give
Give oh give.
Give said the little stream, as it hurried down the hill. I'm small I know but wherever I go the grass grows greener still.
William Bradbury and Fanny Crosby