Friday, July 20, 2018

Way

         "I am the way, the truth, and the life."


There are really just two ways. What, I cry? Really? According to scripture there is God's way and there is Satan's way. I certainly don't want to think I follow Satan's way. I am too aware to be caught in that trap. But I also don't feel I can claim that I always follow God's way. That would lack humility. Right? 



So, I think there might be a third way. My way. Whoops, that sounds pretentious. But, pretentious or not that is a mind set I often adopt. Is it a lie? Hmmm......I think it is. But, think of that famous song "I Did It My Way". Or the poem that says, "I am the master of my fate, the captain of my soul". The soundtrack for these sentiments are so compelling.

 Really isn't my way just another branch of Satan's way?
   Well, this was a sobering 'think' this morning. I hope I didn't set you off. Have a happy weekend!



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I've started writing a sequel to my novel Rubato I invite you to take a look. 


A Musical Murder Mystery

A young teenage boy enraptured with the music of Erik Satie and transfixed with the idea of walking on wire.





Thursday, July 19, 2018

Chapter Two- The Gymnopédist




Chapter Two

Before I compose a piece, I walk around it several times, accompanied by myself.
Erik Satie

Today was a glorious summer day. The weather could not be more perfect. Miguel looked around to make sure the town was empty of people. He glanced up at the south tower, the one he preferred as a starting point. Adjusting his backpack, he took out the wire cutters and cut through the chain across the entrance of the stairway. He was trespassing on city property. Hopefully that was the only law he would break today. He straightened his pole and started the climb up the shallow stairway. The pole had to go up first, it was flexible but it had to be taken up on the outside of the stairway. It was a tight squeeze.
Once he was on the platform he sat and looked around at the view. For more than a year he had wanted to do this walk. These two bell towers were part of the landscape of his life. Highland was a place for the poor and the middle class, but from above, all the stores and houses looked magical. The rubbish and dirt on the street and barricaded store fronts were invisible from the top.


The town of Highland, south of Seattle, was cordoned off from vehicles and pedestrians coming onto Main Street. People were lined along the yellow police tape trying to see what was happening.  Stevie Dangerfield, a Seattle Homicide Detective, had to park a block away even though Reggie Watts, her partner, was sure there was a way around the congestion. The crowd was quiet with solemn looks passing from person to person. Stevie noticed the two bell towers above the heads of the onlookers. Made of orange-brown stonework she judged that they looked about 40 feet high.Wooden frame work circled the towers creating a platform where the bells must have been housed. There was a policeman standing on the platform of one of the towers. He was looking down at a swinging cable. 
“Excuse us.” Stevie said. “Police coming through!” An older woman reached for Stevie and looked into her eyes. 
“It was horrible. First the excitement then…..” A tear rolled down the deeply creased face. She patted the stranger’s arm and walked forward. When they arrived at the barrier, Reggie held up the tape while Stevie stepped underneath. He flashed his shield at an officer and together they walked up the street until they were under the towers. A beige tarp covered what looked to be a body.
“What happened here?” Reggie asked.
“It appeared to be an accident at first but the medical examiner is unsure of the cause of death. I believe you are here to investigate?.” The officer looked gravely at the outline of the body on the street.
“Can you tell us who the victim is?” Stevie asked as she approached the body, gingerly lifting the plastic away.
“Sixteen year old male, by the name of Miguel Cervantes. His friend is over there. He witnessed the whole thing. Even has a video.”
“What whole thing?” Stevie asked.
“The kid was trying to walk a wire cable from one tower to the other. Can you believe it?”
Stevie noticed the officer was shaking a little bit.
“Who is in charge here?” Reggie asked. He was looking around at the investigative team.
“Detective Mullins is over there with the medical examiner.” He pointed with his left hand while his right hand seemed to be clutching his gun. 
“May I go over and talk to the victim’s friend?” Stevie asked.
“I think that is fine. He is really scared.”
  While Reggie approached the other men, Stevie walked to the tower. She saw an opening in the bottom of the tower with a stairway going up to the top. There on the bottom step, huddled in a blanket, sat another teenage boy. 
 “I’m Detective Dangerfield. Can I ask you a few questions?” Stevie crouched down so that she was eye level with the boy.
 He nodded but did not look up. 
“What is your name?” Stevie asked.
“Jorge Gonzales.”
“Are you alright, Jorge? Did they treat you for shock?”
“I don’t know. That doctor over there checked me out.” 
Stevie stood and sat down next to Jorge on the stairway.
“What do you have in your hands?” She asked.
“Hand warmers.” He opened his hands to reveal a mesh packet. “They are helping me stop shaking.” 
“You have probably told this story many times this morning but could you tell me again what happened to your friend?”
  He looked at Stevie with one eye squinting as if he was looking into a bright light. As he started talking his gaze fell back to his hands.
 “Miguel and I are into gymnastics and lately we have been walking wires. He had this thing about walking between these two bell towers. It was something he wanted to do for a long time. We practiced and everything was ready. This shouldn’t have happened.”
  He fell silent and Stevie waited, seeing a tear drop from his chin.
  “I was looking at my camera settings on my phone when I felt a tug on the wire wrapped around the hook next to me. In that second Miguel just disappeared from view.”
 A soft keening came from the boy’s belly and Stevie reached to touch his shoulder.


Reggie Watts approached Detective Mullins. The detective looked up at him with resentful eyes.
“Why are you here trespassing on my investigation?” 
Reggie slumped down ever so slightly to make the difference in height less obvious.
 “I was told your police chief requested two Seattle detectives to assist. I’m Reggie Watts and my partner over there, Stevie Dangerfield, is talking to your witness. We are not here to make trouble.”
“Look!” Mullins glared up into his face. “This is an easy case. We are dealing with a gang retaliation and that kid over there is my main suspect. Stay out of our way. You don’t know our city and you have no idea about the issues we face.”
Reggie felt the hairs on his neck rise. This detective was over reacting and he naturally felt the desire to push back.
“Take it up with your police chief. We are here on assignment.”
  “Get out of my way!” Mullins pushed him aside and walked towards the make-shift desk made of plywood centered on a sawhorse.
   Reggie looked over at Stevie and motioned for her with a slight movement of his head.
  She stood, said something to the boy, and came over.
  “What’s the story?” Reggie asked glancing over at Mullins who was glaring at both of them.
  “The boy is devastated. He saw his friend fall to his death. I didn’t get too much detail.” 
  “Look, Stevie, the detective over there watching us is furious that we got called in to investigate. We are going to have to walk on ice shards to do our job.”
  Stevie followed his gaze and Reggie noticed her eyes narrow as she made an assessment of Detective Mullins. 
   “He is convinced that this is gang related. I am assuming he thinks this is a murder. I overheard his partner say the Ramirez and Cervantes names with a derogatory slur.”
  “Cervantes? That rings a bell. But,…I don’t know why?” Stevie stared into the crowd with a glazed look. 
   “That mean something to you?” Reggie asked watching her face for signs of recognition.
   “The victim is Miguel Cervantes, so, he is a gang member? Wait!” Stevie looked at Reggie with a concentrated focus and he could tell she was processing a new connection to this supposed accident. “Cervantes is the last name of our housekeeper, Rosa. She has been working for us for ten years. I know her son Miguel would be about sixteen now. Is this her son?” She asked with a note of concern.
“Stevie, before you react you need to know that we are not wanted here. Detective Mullins is angry that his chief brought us in. We need to maintain a low profile for a little while.” He looked at her eyes to see if she was comprehending his warning. When Stevie felt emotionally involved she acted faster than her usual measured methodical process.
“What does that mean?” She looked over at Mullins again.
“Let’s ask questions of that officer who is standing in front of the crowd over there.”

Bart Mullins stood with legs apart, his hands pushed deeply into his lightweight jacket. His throat tightened and he felt sick looking over at the Seattle detectives. Chief Johnson was out to get him, that’s all there was to it. Bringing in Seattle homicide detectives was another ploy to force him out. He wanted nothing more than to arrest that Gonzales kid and get the public out of here. The medical examiner was still taking pictures, the forensics team was measuring and gathering evidence, and the crowd lined up behind the police tape was not thinning out. It was actually growing. It was going to be a hot day and the stores along Main Street would be opening soon. He looked down at is feet and absentmindedly drew a circle in the dirt with his right toe. Everything hovered around the Gonzales gang. Every time he got closer to arresting one of them they slipped through his fingers. They were to blame for the drugs coming in to the Northwest. He knew they had ties to a Mexican cartel and he knew a little about their distribution system but he couldn’t find enough evidence to nail their butts to the wall. He glanced over to the Gonzales kid. He was still cowering in the opening to the stairway. If his older brothers convinced him to let the boy fall to his death it would be a stern message to the members of the Cervantes gang to move out of their territory. 
“Find anything unusual in that equipment?” He shouted over to the forensics team. A tall team member with very stooped shoulders came over and stood close by, whispering.
“Sir, it looks like the wire was cut, but not cleanly, more like it was frayed and weakened in it’s wrapping.”
“And the compromised wire was on which side of the bell towers?” 
“It was on the south side where the Cervantes kid stepped out onto the wire.”
“Thank you. Taylor?” He turned to look for his second in command. “Take the kid into custody and let’s get this place cleaned up.”




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This is a work in progress. It may change and evolve as I write more. If you are interested in the story please leave a comment. 



Monday, July 16, 2018

A Visual Of The Cycle Of Change

Our change may not be linear, but a cycle, that we can loop around and begin again.

Much is written about making change and starting good habits. I picked up on a classic theory on motivation by Prochaska and Declemente who describe change as a cycle.
This was a new theory in the late seventies and is now very much excepted.

"They thought it all starts with pre-contemplation, where we aren't even thinking about making a change, then progresses through contemplation - where we become aware of something being problematic but don't do anything differently, to preparation for a change, then finally taking action, and then maybe hardest of all trying to maintain that change. It's really hard to stick to a change in behaviour so often we relapse back into our old way of being, but we might cycle through those initial stages much quicker the next time round."





"I like the way they describe this as a cycle, which means we don’t have to beat ourselves up if we do fall off the wagon, but instead just climb back on. I also like the way they include a phase where we might not even be consciously aware of the need to change. Sometimes looking back at decisions I’ve made to change something I can think of a reason why, but it’s not always totally clear at the time."

This theory supports my One Little Word this year. Umkekr means to cycle around and do it better.



"She went back to all that was comfortable and familiar while keeping her gaze looking ahead- to all that would be and could."



Colleen Attara

Click here to see a table of contents of how this word has become a focus in my life this year.



 

Friday, July 13, 2018

Done


There's the joy of starting and the satisfaction of being done.

For most of my life I have been a self starter. I thrive on dreaming up projects. When I turned fifty-ish I turned a corner and looked more to the idea of getting things done. 




I still love starting new things but I've adapted to the discipline of getting finished. And frankly, I am amazed that I can do that without harsh talking to myself.



Knowing I will finish has given me confidence to go back to work I liked but often abandoned. Sewing, for example, was one of those pursuits which started out full of excitement and ended with a bag of fabric undone. 



One other thing that shifted inside of me was the tolerance for slow and repetitive work. What used to drive me crazy is now more meditative labor with a meaningful outcome.

"She can be taught!"



Monday, July 9, 2018

Playing With My Word To Make It Visual

Creativity brings an abstract concept into focus and provides a sensory memory of playing with meaning.

This month I am looking around my home and observing all the ways I've used my One Little Word for 2018 in a visual way. 
At the beginning of the year I like to do a painting with the word attached. This year I choose I scene with a cat, looking out over the water. The cat is me thinking back at what has happened in my life and how to be I can be a little better, kinder, more aware. 

UMKEHR 





Have you ever been lost on a road and realized that you are not where you intended to be? That is when the desire to Umkehr comes on strong. Start again, from the beginning and this time choose a different path.



Each time I take the little plastic word and place it in a different setting I take time to reflect on why I love this word and this principle. It is a principle because it requires action, not just a static concept.




"She went back to all that was comfortable and familiar while keeping her gaze looking ahead- to all that would be and could."



Colleen Attara

Click here to see a table of contents of how this word has become a focus in my life this year.



 

Friday, July 6, 2018

Vacation

How does one vacate one's normal, everyday life?

The weeks that I take a vacation from my normal life of being a piano teacher, I do things a bit differently.

  • I cook and have dinner at a reasonable time
  • I go out around town during the hours of 3:00pm and 6:30pm
  • My husband can sit down in the living room during the afternoon
  • I don't look for inexpensive rewards at dollar stores
  • I stop vacuuming the living room everyday
  • The piano gets dusty
  • The stacks of music get put away on the piano



By the time my vacation weeks are up I long for the routines I have during the year. I long to greet little faces at my door and I long to hear their music.


  To vacate our routines is healthy and creates a longing for the life of normal, the life of everyday.