Friday, August 31, 2018


Sometimes You Are Forced To Go Slow

For one month I've been forced to go slow, very slow. Sitting on the couch and looking out the window is becoming very tedious. Rushing is impossible. I am physically limited for a time.

  I'm learning that the natural world is actually very slow. Slow but steady. The rising sun can take forever to come over a mountain. The intensity, once it is over the hill, can be blinding so the slow warm up makes an important contrast. It teaches me to see and feel the process and appreciate the moment of rising.
  Very soon I will be back into the rush. Initially I will love moving quicker and I'm sure I will feel empowered by getting back to normal. But, I hope I remember the long slow days. I had time to figure a few things out. 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Chapter 4- The Gymnopédist


I took to my room and let small things evolve slowly.
Erik Satie

Two important events changed Miguel’s life. One was meeting Alex, the Boys Club volunteer who taught gymnastics and the other was having Mrs. Hanson teach him piano. Alex taught him balance and grace and Mrs. Hanson provided a soundtrack for his new found freedom to move. Both of these events were incongruous to his life as a poor Latino boy in Highland. Both activities were hidden from his family. His mother championed the piano lessons but his brother knew little of what he could really do on the keyboard. And, his mother she knew nothing about his wire walking.

Reggie walked over to the uniformed officer holding back the crowd behind the police tape. He turned his back to the people and spoke quietly to the officer. 
“So, what is your take on what went down here?”
The young man shifted uneasily in place. He glanced over at Bart Mullins. 
“I really can’t say, sir”
“I won’t repeat any information you give me. Do you think this is gang related?”
”I’d like to believe it was a horrible accident. But, I saw the wire the investigative team brought down from the tower. It was frayed but the inner break looked like a saw went through it.”
He glanced over at Bart Mullins again.
“It looks like they are taking the Gonzales kid into custody.”
 Reggie saw that Stevie was not right behind him. A circle of Highland police were walking the teenage boy over to a squad car and Stevie was in the middle of the huddle. He saw Detective Mullins pull her aside and they were having a serious conversation. It started with Stevie just listening and then she stood more erect and challenged him with her own opinion. Whatever she had said, he grunted assent and turned his back on her and proceeded to the car. He watched as Stevie stood to see the car move away from the crime scene. She looked more intense than he had ever seen her. Her body was stiff, hands clenched, and her eyes almost memorizing the scene of the boy being taken away. She turned and walked over to Reggie as if in slow motion. He watched the breeze lift her heavy auburn hair. Their eyes locked and he saw a new look of determination.
“Thank you for your help, officer.” Reggie smiled. He met Stevie and together they walked away from the crowd. The air was torrid and a shimmer of perspiration gathered between his shoulder blades.
He waited for her to speak. 
“I volunteered to go to the Cervantes house and inform them of the death of their son, Miquel.”
“What?” Reggie cocked his head to the side, unsure of what she had said.
“I told you. I know his mother, Rosa. I want this tragic news to come from someone she knows.” Stevie’s eyebrows separated, arching down in sadness.
“It didn’t look like Detective Mullins liked that idea.” Reggie moved the weight from his right side to his left. The day ahead looked to be intense.
“He agreed only because this is a job no one really wants to do.” Stevie met his eyes with a challenge. He knew she was not going to ask whether he agreed.
“Do you have the address?” 
“Yes, lets go then.” 
Stevie lifted the yellow police tape and waited while Reggie ducked under. They walked in silence to the car.

Rosa thought she was going to miss her bus. She looked around to find her purse. Today was an easier day. She had only two houses to clean this afternoon. Mrs. Hanson’s house first and then down the street she would clean the Rutherford’s house. She slipped on her working shoes with their thick soles. 
“Pablo? I’m leaving. Tell Miguel I’ll be home by 5:00 o’clock.” She turned to walk out the door but a loud knocking interrupted her movement. When she opened the door she found Miss Stephanie and a stranger who stood by her side.
 “What are you doing here?” Miss Stephanie had never come to her house before. Two worlds were colliding in front of Rosa and it meant something was very wrong.
“Rosa, can we come in?”
Rosa stepped aside woodenly. She watched as they sat together on the couch with the crocheted Afghan covering. I need to wash that. It looks tired and dirty, she thought. She perched on the arm of an over stuffed easy chair and studied Miss Stephanie’s face. Thoughts hurtled in her mind. This woman was a police officer. Why is she in my house? Maybe her mother had died. A pang of sorrow came up into her esophagus and turned bitter in her mouth. She loved Mrs. Hanson. Not only did she pay her generously but she was giving Miguel free piano lessons. A different thought came into her mind suddenly. What if this was about……..? No, she was not going to let that thought invade. 
“Miss Stephanie, is your mother alright?” Rosa’s voice was thin. 
“We aren’t here about my mother.” A sudden sob from Stevie choked off the next sentence. “Oh Rosa, I’m so very, very sorry to bring this news. Miguel fell from a high wire this morning and he is dead.” 
Rosa watched as Miss Stephanie knelt in front of her and felt her take her hands. 
“What high wire? What are you talking about?”
She pushed Stevie away and moved towards the door to the kitchen.
“Pablo! Come here please.” Her hands came up to keep the emotion from screaming through her mouth. “He will tell you where Miguel is and he is not…… dead.”
Pablo, his head almost touching the doorway, stepped into the living room. Rosa looked up at her older son to see if there was any understanding in his face. 
“Where is Miguel? These people here are telling me that he is dead.” The look on Pablo’s face was distrust but not denial. He came to stand next to her and put his arm around her shoulders. “Miguel has been gone since early this morning. He didn’t tell me where he was going. He is probably with Jorge.” 
Rosa looked into Pablo’s eyes and noticed the hardness when he mentioned Jorge. 
“What were they doing together today?” Her eyes stayed on Pablo’s face, looking for information. 
“Their Boys Club activities have been getting more and more risky.” 
“Are you saying that this is true. He was doing a circus show?”
“It was wire walking, Mama.”
“You knew about this and didn’t tell me?” Rosa felt the hurt squeeze her heart. She was going to lose consciousness if she didn’t sit. Pablo led her back to the chair and Stevie moved over to the couch next to her partner. Rosa looked down at her hands and felt a moment of panic. She missed her bus! She would be late to work.
Pablo pulled a chair over to her side and looked down at his hands. “I am not Miguel’s keeper, Mama.”
He addressed Miss Stephanie. “Can you tell us what happened?”
“Miguel and a friend set up a wire between the bell towers in downtown Highland this morning at about 5:00 am.” 
Rosa heard the male policeman begin the story and she wrapped her arms around her chest. His voice continued but it was fading as Rosa struggled to understand.
“He was almost in the middle of the walk when the wire came down.”
She took Pablo’s hand and held it highly to her chest. 
“I don’t believe it! It could be someone else. Maybe you made a mistake.” 
Rosa looked the male policeman in the face. He seemed kind but how could he tell her this awful news and still be kind?
Pablo took his hand out of his mother’s grasp. “Where is Miguel now?” He asked.
“He was taken to Seattle where the medical examiner will investigate how he died.”
“What do you mean, how he died?” Pablo interrupted.
“We are doing a routine investigation.”
“I want to see him!” Rosa turned to Miss Stephanie. “Please, I want to see him.”
“I will help you with that. We will find out when that can happen. I’m so very sorry, Rosa.”
Rosa stood to go to get her purse.“I’m late to your house. I should be there by now.” 
“Not to worry. I’ll let my mother know what has happened. Pablo, will you stay with your mother today?” 
 “Of course! We don’t need police around helping us through this.” 
“Pablo! Her mother is my friend. She is here to help us.” Rosa looked at her son with reproach. He stood to walk into the kitchen. 
“You are her housekeeper, Mama, don’t forget that.” Pablo disappeared into the other room.
“I apologize for my son’s bad behavior, Miss Stephanie.”
“Here is my card with my private cell phone number. Call if you have any questions.” Rosa felt Miss Stephanie’s arms go around her but she couldn’t return the affection. She was going numb.
“Thank you for coming. We will call you.” As Rosa shut the door she slowly bent her knees and slumped to the floor. The room was moving and she willingly gave into the darkness. 

Friday, August 3, 2018


     It is fortunate that I only have two knees.

This month of August I celebrate the anniversary of my first knee replacement. How do I celebrate? By doing it all again. Last year I kept a journal which I'm following with rapt attention. At 5 days I went to the Physical Therapist, at two weeks I went to the Athletic Club for the first time to ride the recumbent bicycle for two minutes, at 2 1/2 weeks I walked around the corner with trekking poles, unattended, each milestone I seek to repeat. My recovery last year was positive. I should have a similar experience this year. Why not? 

It is a tradition that my husband gives me a blessing before I enter the hospital. This year I noted that he admonished me to look for blessings coming from unexpected sources. I have seen them and I am humbled.

These granddaughters came to stay for an overnight visit the week before the knee replacement. The overnight was a big deal because we all went swimming, attended a parade, and gave each other manicures. They are ages 7-12 and they are the little unexpected angels which have come to my aid. Two visted me in the hospital and gave extra special care. Another has arrived three days in a row to help me with my PT exercises and get a meal for me. They have all sent texts and I am just amazed that their natural ability to serve. I feel so fortunate to know them and have time with them. 

  Another granddaughter has come. She is older and works, so time is tighter for her. We are reading our books to each other. It is something we share, this need to write. I get to hear her fantasy tale of a library gone mad as the characters escape into an unsuspecting world and she hears my tale of a piano teacher found dead by her student.
  I hope to remember this year, as well as last year, as the years of the granddaughters. May we stay connected and find service and solace in each other.


There is still time to read my novel about a pianist and teacher who finds a Liszt autograph manuscript and ends up dead. Who killed her to get the treasure? The mysterious student who comes from out of town to study with her? The colleague from Hungary who wants the manuscript more than anything? 

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.