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Articles in "Positively Speaking"

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So… this column was going to be the annual spring look at substance abuse on the Island combined with Mother’s Day and On Being a Woman thrown in.

And then the word came… this may be the last. A ten-minute moment of panic. I had just texted my youngest son to ask permission about sharing his favorite memory of his older brother.

Like a living icon, the heart at Calvary Full Gospel has kept me grounded and hopeful all winter long.

You must go see it. The parking lot at the corner of Wax Orchard and SW 220th is a school bus stop during the week and there, at the entrance to the church parking lot/bus stop is a gigantic puddle in the shape of a heart.

This is not the column I had drafted for you this week. The timing of the other one is off. I write out of my heart and sometimes where my heart is I sense may not be where the rest of the world is at any given time.

There is , of course, also the possibility and reality that my heart has shifted this week. I did not need to win the megamillions lottery because I recently received an opportunity to learn information which would so change my life for the better it allowed me to lay down one entire path of forward motion and veer to another. In a heartbeat, I might add.

The black spiral bound scrapbook with the ribbon that ties the pages closed was held high in the air by my left hand; it’s worn protective blue plastic bag crinkling in my fingers. It was the first night of class. I was preparing to read some selections of my writing. My last name begins with ‘A’. I was the first one to share.

Fried eggs with a dollop of fresh guacamole and an entire English cucumber sliced up next to them could not and would not have been passed off as dinner when my kids were all home and there was a dad floating around the house. French toast, which we called ‘breakfast for dinner’, maybe but the singular need for routine and recognizable food groups that included pasta and meat and traditional presentations of veggies was the rule of the day.

This past week I realized I will never in my life get what I’ve wanted which is a fairly predictable schedule and a really low profile. I also made peace with that fact as ‘a good thing’.

We needed one didn’t we? We needed that old man who was lost for days in the cold to find himself into an abandoned million dollar home and fix himself some food and go to sleep in a comfy bed after he’d changed into warm, dry clothes. After so many cancer deaths and tragic accidents have taken people who were way too young to die, we just needed one friggin’ miracle.

I cut my fingernails last night. Every once in a while I rebel against the fact that as a pianist and a writer I have had to keep my nails short since I started playing the piano when I was three. Mostly I like it, but sometimes I just wish I could have those really clicky kind of nails that have beautiful manicures in vibrant colors that women can use as an extension of their power and confidence. The best I can do is, if I get some gift money, get a French manicure where they paint on fake fingernail edges . I really love that.

I rose from my chair and said to the group at the table, "I’m really sorry. I have to leave this conference right now or I’m going to wreck it." and embarrass myself horribly at the same time I thought to myself.

I had white knuckled my way through the opening night. At first I thought maybe it was just because it was a Seattle event. Close to twenty years on the Island has given me the softness that comes with not having to bang the drum very loudly to be heard. For us transplants it’s a process.

Wow… one more holiday to go: Eastern Orthodox Christmas. For us multiple faith families it a long season of gratitude and joy… and partying. With close friends and fmaily who are Jewish and then the Western/Eastern Christmas seasons which only coordinate once in w awhile, it’s just about from Thanksgiving through the first week in January that is a festival of one kind and another. I welcome it every year.

Without TV streaming into my home via Cable, Dish or Direct, I was a little worried about missing out on the holiday specials. Guess what I discovered as I was digging for the VHS copy of "White Christmas" that warbles through most of the last third of the movie? I own a practically new copy of "Charlie Brown’s Christmas" !! And guess what else I discovered while I watched it by serendipitous viewing at friends who have commercial TV? I like everything better without commercials!!

It’s the four in hand in Bell Choir playing that really astounds me. As I watched the Bells of the Sound handbell choir play piece after piece with that four in hand technique I sat mesmerized.

The first time I picked up a handbell I had a real orientation challenge. As a pianist I’m used to commanding all the notes. With handbells, you are in charge of one or two or three depending on the song. Each player is assigned a note or notes and they play only those notes.

Herman Cain and the circus at Penn State have just plain ticked me off. Outside of the obvious, you know why? Because men and the women who want their approval have been saying ‘Ain’t no big thing’ for entirely too long.

I can write it now because nobody cares about this story anymore.

Nothing moves when I call his name but his eyebrows and a happily wagging tail. Ah… the tail….

Well… the tale began as a disappointment. I was about to receive a chocolate lab like the one I had given away years ago when we had to move the first time and they called from the Burton turn and said , ‘Our friends are going to take her.’. After so many years without a dog, my heart was ready. Knowing that, and also knowing it would take some time to find an adoptive match through Pet Protectors I called Barbara Drinkwater and put in my order: friendly, good with kids, not a barker, pleasant low key breed.

This is one sample scenario.

He’s had a bad day at work. ( but it could be any negative trigger) He comes home and finds you are doing laundry. The noise bugs him. Suddenly the peace and joy you were feeling oozes out of your body as fear of the unknown floods in every vein and artery.

How wild will this get, you wonder?

I don’t get writer’s block. It’s an incredible blessing. I have so many projects I’m working on I always have a rotation that keeps things fresh and flowing.

This column I have been stuck on for two weeks or more. Why? … It’s my learning curve. ( By the way I’ve been reading articles about how my use of ‘three dots’ and parenthesis is becoming passé. I’m going to keep using them. They approximate my speech delivery the best).

As I entered the high school library and saw the tables set up for the board meeting, a ton of good memories came flooding back. The playground at Chautauqua that first year when it was filled with Carnival rides and teachers staffing booths while children watched their house of learning turned into a party just for them. The helicopter Liz always managed to get ( or was it Fran) for the egg drop experiment.

One would think with everything I have on my to do list (lose 115 pounds – yea team for the first thirteen--, earning enough to buy a house, providing special things for my children, volunteering for activities I believe will help create world peace and doing my chores) I’ve got zip, zero time to deal with getting rid of somebody else’s dead car.

It’s the annual Bacchanal for me. Like someone driven in some fantastic gorge, we seek each other out with an air of excitement.

"You ready?" we say to each other.

This year we found ourselves in the stairwell on the landing outside the men’s room. We thought it was going to be the quietest place.

The time has come to write this.  It is the end and I must acknowledge it even though it will bring tears that won’t stop to my eyes.

He began the week with these words.  “Why isn’t Rehab funny anymore?”  He who is three and three fourths (as he will tell you) had replaced all of ‘Moon River’ and ‘Fifty Ninth Street Bridge Song’ with “Rehab’ as the one that was sure to get audience response. He could nail the rhythm and inflection impeccably growling as only a little one with a smirk on his girk ( pardon me Mercer Mayer) could do.

Picture this… Mayfield Mall in Mountain View California. The JC Penney Auto Center….1973-74.  It’s the oil embargo. Lines form around the block for gas when it’s available.  We were paying, I think my records said, 29cents a gallon. But we would wait for maybe an hour to get to a pump.

My interest in the class came from two motivations. First, I have roughed out chapter two of my spiritual autobiography ‘Because the White Rose Grew; Parenthetical Confessions of a Mystic Boomer White Woman". That chapter is entitled ‘Potter 3: Pot 0: God and Evil" . I wanted to compare what I had written with what others thought.


Well here it is…my birthday month. I breathed air for the first time at dawn on 28 July 1951. You do the math. I’m hopin’ I’m halfway through and not two thirds done. Against all odds I have made it to sixty. Sole Deo Gloria. That means ‘all glory to God’. Bach put it at the end of all his compositions.

He slipped off my lap with a worried look that told me he was afraid he was going to miss something

“I have to go pee”, he said in his charming three and a half year old voice.

“I won’t keep reading” I reassured him as he eyed his four-year-old playmate still seated on the other half of my lap.