Friday, May 18, 2018


                     Sacred Not Secret

    Our modern world is revealing everything with social media these days. Yesterday I was at the doctor's office checking out a muscle injury and my daughter jokingly asked if I wanted to talk about what was happening on an Insta-story. Why would I want to share my anxiety with others over a health issue which may be nothing serious? 

  Some things just need to be private, secret, or hidden, from the glaring eyes of the world. There are also some events in life that are not secret, but sacred. As the media floods us with tidbits of the preparations for the Royal Wedding I think back onto that sacred day I was married. At the actual ceremony only my closest family members attended. Many sacred and spiritual words were uttered and shared. The party after was for more extended friends and family. The promises I made are still fresh in my mind. They guide my actions and decisions everyday. Holding them sacred creates a space within my soul for growth with my husband and children.

“The secret and the sacred are sisters. When the secret is not respected, the sacred vanishes. Consequently, reflection should not shine too severe or aggressive a light on the world of the soul.” 


My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it didn't belong to her.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Editing, Editing, Editing

“So the writer who breeds more words than he needs, is making a chore for the reader who reads.” 

Dr. Seuss

**Spoiler Alert**
If you haven't read my book Rubato you might want to stop and jump into it before reading my comments about editing. Link to the whole book is below.

Editing is a daily occurrence in my writing life. Do I like it? Sometimes. It can be most helpful as events become clearer and characters more rounded. But, it can also become confusing as I add details which then cause me to alter and add details in other related chapters.

Here are some questions I ask myself as I edit.

1. What is this scene about? Why is it here? What is it contributing?

The scene I'm working on currently is the climax. Within this chapter I want to show that there is enough probable cause to arrest the suspect for murder. It takes place in an interrogation room which has very little visual appeal. How can I make the room seem interesting?

2. Are the characters telling the story or is the author?

 Definitely my characters are telling this story. This chapter is in the point of view of Detective Watts and has mostly dialog. I'm looking to insert more details about what he is feeling as he pushes for a confession.

3. Is there forward momentum?

My antagonist is being pressured. On one side he has his attorney holding him back from speaking and on the other side there are two detectives accusing him with facts that are very damning. I want to show that his fear is rising and his ability to remain calm is crumbling. 

4. Are my characters interesting enough to sustain the story?

My antagonist is a desperate man who has no moral compass. He justifies his actions as necessary to meet his end which is always self preservation. In opposition are two detectives who doggedly acquire the facts to make a clear picture of an event that is catastrophic to the victim. They wade through a constant sea of lies looking for a thread of motivation that might lead to a strong enough reason to kill. I find them interesting but there is the catch. Can I see them clearly enough to edit the superfluous and keep only what makes them alive to my reader?

More editing................


My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it didn't belong to her.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Returning To My Ancestors In Pictures

   To understand and reconnect with our stories, the stories of the ancestors, is to build our identities. 
Frank Delaney

Pictures that communicate my word or help me connect to my word are often pictures of my parents and beloved ancestors. To make a return to them, or to the ways they supported me, is very reassuring. 

I recently made a book about my mother's life. She left a personal history and I reproduced that along with pictures and commentary from me, about my recollections. When my children and grandchildren get caught up in the fast paced menagerie called "life" I want them to seek out the example and advice from ancestors who made tough decisions and opened paths for us to progress and reach our potential.

  I have a grandson who loved the book about his great-grandmother. When I see his picture holding the book I feel the word Umkehr resonating clearly. 

Return to the past 
to find your future
Remember what was 
sacrificed for you
by those who wanted 
better and found
the best.

Click here to see how I use my One Little Word Umker
differently every month.

My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it didn't belong to her.

Friday, May 11, 2018


           What Was Included In This Package?

   I teach music to every grandchild that is willing. Consequently nine grandchildren see me weekly for some kind of music lesson. In the fall I volunteered to teach a pre-school music class at my son's house once a week for his 3 year old twins. I asked him to find a couple of other kids who might chip in to pay a small tuition fee. In this project I would need to pull out my old class lesson plans, I taught Music and Movement to toddlers for ten years, my musical props and instruments, and remember songs and finger plays I once had memorized.

Included in this project package would be remembering the energy I once had when this was a part-time job. 

   What I didn't quite remember from classes in the past was a special ingredient which was included every week. I remembered all that I would give to them but forgot how much they would give to me. These three little people really know how to love. Their love lifted and nurtured me more than I can say. 
I love you.


We used this song as a lullaby last week.

My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it didn't belong to her.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Setting A Scene in a Real Place

"You cannot open a book without learning something."


When you read my book Rubato you will learn about a real place in Seattle called Jack's BBQ. It is my husband's favorite BBQ restaurant and we go there frequently. The owner is a warm hearted man, named Jack, who visits with all his customers. His take on excellent BBQ comes from visiting many Texas establishments and learning from the best PitMasters.

    When I wanted to bring my book's detectives to a restaurant to meet with two music professors I thought it would be unique to have them come to Jack's. I hoped to nudge at the stereotype of classical musicians being a bit uppity. The types of people who come to Jack's are always interesting to me. Manual labor working men and women, business associates, families with little kids, you'll see them all there eating ribs with their fingers, with big grins on their faces.

Come on in and meet Reggie Watts and Stevie Dangerfield At Jack's BBQ

    Reggie drove while Stevie gave him directions to the restaurant. They were in an industrial section of Seattle. Businesses with drab corrugated steel buildings lined each side of the road. The area was attracting newer entrepreneurs. Renovated old factories were turning into offices, providing smaller rent prices than in the middle of the city. Stevie directed him to turn left into a parking lot next to an outdoor eating area with twinkle lights hanging from wooden posts. As they pulled in at Jack’s Barbecue, Reggie smiled a large, wide grin. Jack’s was one of his favorite restaurants. He never would have guessed that two music professors would do lunch here. Stevie and her mother were breaking all the stereotypical images he had of music academics. Maybe if they had barbecue sauce on their hands he would feel less intimidated by their talk of Liszt and music fragments. 
    “Jack’s has the best brisket I’ve ever tasted.” Reggie felt his mouth watering at the prospect of a really excellent lunch.
     “You have been here then?” Stevie asked.
     “More than once.” 
     They looked around for Angelika. She was not there yet. They settled to wait on a large brown couch in the front area. 
     “I am a little surprised at the choice of restaurant.” Reggie said, wondering what Stevie thought.
     “So am I. A vegetarian place seemed more my mother’s liking. But, don’t pre-judge Sydney. She could be a down home southern gal.”
      “Your mother is a vegetarian?”
      “Not really, but she likes to eat light so I hope she finds something here on the menu.” 
       Two middle aged women entered, Reggie recognized Angelika. The other woman taller, had silver hair cut short and on a slant. She looked very stylish as she greeted a thin, bespectacled man at the door.  
    “Jack! How lovely to see you.” She was gushing with enthusiasm. 
    “That is Sydney Cabine,” whispered Stevie.
    “And the man greeting her is the owner.” Reggie whispered back. 
   “You are always welcome here and let me find you the best table.”
   Angelika motioned to Reggie and Stevie to follow them. They were seated in the back, along a wall of brightly painted doors. The doors, going nowhere, were hung side by side. Each door was unique and painted in different, bright colors, adding a flamboyant flair to the restaurant. Reggie particularly liked the quirkiness of the doors. 
  “Jack,” Sydney said, “this is my colleague Angelika Hanson, her daughter, a homicide detective, and her daughter’s partner. Are you a policeman to0, honey?” 
  Reggie winced and nodded. 
 “I welcome all public servants. Well, you have a lovely meal. Our breakfast burritos are the best in the Northwest.” Jack smiled at each of them and left to greet new arrivals.

My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it didn't belong to her.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Using My One Little Word On Pictures

"One of the things that continues to stand out for me as I do this prompt is the reminder that photos are such an excellent way to give thanks for life."
Ali Edwards

For many years now I have painted a picture which then carries my word for the year. These paintings vary in size and have a place in my house. 

   They hold experiences that I've tried to capture on canvas. As I look around I notice that I am most affected by the sun rising, I am so grateful to have a place close to my home on the water where I can see the complete rising. Every time I am there I feel more mindful of God, nurtured by his artwork, and ready to turn back to Him. These paintings hold space for that live experience when I can't go.  

Truly these words have infiltrated my thoughts and actions. 

          They are like chapter headings to my life.


My novel Rubato

A story of a woman's longing for beauty and her struggle to keep the beautiful even when it doesn't belong to her.

Friday, May 4, 2018


Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.
 Marcus Aurelius

The pilings jutting out of the water are skeletons of a lost enterprise. A bustling dock welcomed little boats in the past but when other points of entry onto this island became more convenient the dock fell apart and the pilings remained behind.

The logs have adapted to become artistic sketches on the shore. I come to my looking place along this beach and photograph the pilings, draw them, and imagine how they looked when when a boat came alongside and anchored. 
I brought my children to this beach twenty-five years ago. We  walked along the shore and looked under rocks to find little crabs. Once we dammed up the tiny stream that ran into water and made replicas of rivers and deltas. I made my children empty their shoes, pockets, and seams of sand so that we didn't bring the beach home with us. Now my children are grown and I've adapted to taking grandchildren here or more often I come by myself. The pilings remind me to love the life that is mine today.

My novel Rubato

A murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Writing Wednesday- Writing A Scene For Book 2

“If he saw three balls, he had to juggle. If he saw two towers, he had to walk! That’s how he was.”
Mordicai Gerstein
The Man Who Walked Between the Towers

The story of Phillipe Petit really fascinates me.

Before his Twin Towers walk, Petit was known to New Yorkers for his frequent tightrope-walking performances and magic shows in the parks of New York, especially Washington Square Park. Petit's most famous performance was in August 1974, conducted on a wire between the roofs of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, a quarter mile above the ground. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire, during which he walked, danced, lay down on the wire, and saluted watchers from a kneeling position. Office workers, construction crews and policemen cheered him on.

In my sequel to Rubato I introduce Miquel Ruiz who dreams of walking the wire to the music of Erik Satie. He is a modern day Gymnopodist.

Miquel relaxed his cramped foot under the covers. He flexed and pointed his toes. He was dreaming that his mother had locked him into his room. She was angry that he skipped school; she would have been angrier to know he had skipped school to walk a wire at the park. He could hear her voice, tight, restrained, but full of warning. Another voice returned the heat with an equal strained tone. Who was the second voice? Miquel brushed his eyes with the back of his hand. This wasn’t a dream, this was his mother fighting with Pablo downstairs. He heard the cupboard slam shut and water running. She must be making breakfast. He turned over in his bed and saw the clock. It was evening and why was he in his bed?
“Don’t you dare get him involved in your gang, Pablo!” Her sentence was punctuated by the clanging of pots and pans.
“Why? Are you worried that your precious younger son will finally become a man and leave you?”
 Miquel heard the slap but he felt it as if she had used her hand on his own face. He imagined the heat rising on Pablo’s cheek. Miquel moved to the edge of his bed and reached for his shoes. 
“He has other gifts and I won’t have you ruin his chances to become someone besides a gangster.”
The laughter exploded from his brother and Miquel felt the shame of what his brother thought of his meager talent. It wasn’t like Pablo knew much of his piano lessons or about his rapid progress with Mrs. Hanson. He was never home. But Pablo knew that Miquel’s  Boys Club acrobatic activities had become mostly wire walking. His mother would be appalled at the height of his newest installation. He bounded down the stairs to constrain any new revelations from reaching his mother’s ears.


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Umkehr in Pictures

We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
 Walt Disney

Below is a recent picture posted on my daughter's account. She is teaching me to knit. I'm looking pretty pleased with myself. 

   Eight hours later I get my first reality check. "Why can't you tell the difference between knit and purl? And, what are all these yarn overs?" 
   I could have been offended and then tempted to quit but I'm far enough down this road to grit my teeth and say, "Shall I turn around? Shall I umkehr?"

   The road back has little short cuts that bring you back on track but don't necessarily make you go all the way to the beginning. 

I'm seeing more and understanding better. That is the joy of Umkehr.

More About The Word Umkehr


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Friday, April 27, 2018


The apple cannot be stuck back on the Tree of Knowledge; once we begin to see, we are doomed and challenged to seek the strength to see more, not less. 
Arthur Miller 

I think we give Eve a bad rap. She gave in to temptation to break a law of God but, she was stuck. There was another law to multiply and replenish the earth. Which law was she to obey? There were no babies in Eden, no staying up listening to their crying, no agonizing over a teenager who doesn't come home. It was an ideal environment but she was stuck.

    Progression is the real prize. Not even arriving is as satisfying as progression. As a writer I often get stuck in a paralyzing moment when nothing sounds right. Sometimes I walk away but other times I wait and then keep writing, erasing, writing, until the words sort themselves into intelligible sentences that push my project farther. What a lark!


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Writing Wednesdays- Setting A Mood

Three brief scenes- Three different moods

He was late. She sat at the table made of two by fours, drinking her peppermint tea and trying to read Rebecca, a novel her sister gave her about a place called Manderley. Marta stretched her aching feet towards the little pot belly stove. The heat traveled up her legs and settled in her belly. A gust of wind whipped the tall evergreens and they slapped the cabin walls like the back hand of an angry mother. He didn’t call it a cabin, he called it a hut because in the winter, huts like this one became a temporary shelter for skiers coming down the big mountain. Except, this one was not temporary. This one was their home until he could earn enough money to move them into town and she liked calling it a cabin. A pattering began up on the tin roof. The weather was going to make it difficult for Kurt to pedal his bicycle. He rode down the mountain every morning before dawn and came home just before dusk. She felt the doorknob rattle before she actully heard it and then he came through the door. Her heart melted as she saw his wet face. He was home!

The cabin stood bathed in midnight moonlight. She stopped on the trail and took in the unexpected beauty of the dark evergreens bending in the breeze, the lapping of ominous waves on the beach, and the drip of recent rain from the branches above. The door should be locked but when Stevie tried the knob it moved easily. She slipped her gun out of the holster. The door creaked as she cracked it open and light flickered across the wall. She stopped, listening. The pounding of her heart missed a beat. Using the door as a shield she moved into the room further, scanning the perimeter. It looked empty but not deserted. The light came from a candle on the table; alongside ribbons of steam undulated from a mug of tea, and open next to the hot mug, a book. On the dog-eared page a sentence was circled in red. Stevie slipped the small flashlight out of her pocket and read the words. Very few of us are what we seem.”

Who’s idea was this again? Two buckets were almost overflowing with the steady plunk from above. A piece of crusty linoleum curled up to snag her feet. Mouse droppings in every corner kept her scanning the cupboards. This cheery weekend at the cabin was turning sour. It would take more than a couple of hundred dollars to make repairs. Every family needed a vacation get away, right? Dan’s words sounded ridiculous in this setting. And then he couldn’t come with them because the boss needed him to sort out the taxes. Dorrie and David were rolled up like burritos and refused to get out of their sleeping bags. She stepped over them trying to get to the sputtering fire in the stove. She should go outside and check on Davis who decided to brave the rain and go to the beach just one hundred feet from the front door, but the fire needed stoking and she just couldn’t let it die. All she truly wanted was to sit by the fire and read a good book, with a cup of tea.


My novel Rubato

A riveting murder mystery about a morally compromised woman’s resolve to protect her musical discovery. 

Monday, April 23, 2018

What If I Get Off Track Again?

               What If I Get Off Track Again?

    Many weeks ago I wrote a post about my meditation practice. I marveled that after ninety-seven days in a row I suddenly forgot to do meditation one morning. I did feel deflated and my readers reminded me that ninety-seven days was amazing. What happens to our attitude when we stop and start habits? 

  Maybe you are an all or nothing person. You establish a really good habit and prepare yourself to add it to your daily life. Then, the phone rings and someone needs help immediately, or you get sick, or a friend calls to whisk you away on an exciting adventure. There goes your habit. Do you quit? Is meditating for ninety-seven days in a row and missing the next day a disaster? No, you say. Get real! Things happen. 

   But, the truth is I use getting off track as an excuse to quit my new habit. Yes, I do. Here's what I say to myself. It's not practical. Or, I'm not good at this so why do it? Or, it's the wrong time in my life. 
   In my humble experience, the answer to the question, what if I get off track, is GET BACK ON! If coming back to a habit, or project, or goal is good for you and makes life better than just start again with a clean slate. Brush yourself off and get back onto the saddle. Happy Trails and lets circle round and start again.


My novel Rubato

Friday, April 20, 2018

Umkehr Another Word For Turn

FOMO-Fear Of Missing Out

I have been suffering from FOMO lately. You probably know what that feels like. It is that odd nagging feeling that everybody around you is engaged in their life but you can't figure out how to get on board of your own. It occurred to me that I've been here before. I worked on this very issue and back then I came up with six habits of happiness that made my life feel connected and sure.

      I go to the water on a regular basis to watch the sunrise. The light coming out of darkness everyday is very comforting to me. The return, or Umkehr, is symbolic for all the truths I've learned that get forgotten or put on the back burner. These truths rise up again and testify of their veracity on a regular basis. 
    Six Habits of Happiness-
       Pray Everyday
       Study Everyday
       Eat for Health Everyday
       Create Something Everyday
       Move Your Body (Exercise) Everyday
       Serve Someone Else Everyday

When I'm practicing my habits FOMO evaporates. My life goes back to feeling connected and sure. 

On an island in the Pacific Northwest a piano teacher is found dead and a lost autograph manuscript of Franz Liszt is discovered. Who wanted that document enough to kill?