Saturday, January 7, 2017

Piano Exercise

Our host yesterday at writer's group had prepared our usual writing exercise. A ten minute stream of conscious from the stem: I know it seems silly but no matter how many times I move and no matter how far, I will not go without……… We each had a different direction after this stem. Try it out! Don't think about it, just write. With some edits, here is my take on this exercise. The last sentence, I've added tonight, as well as the title Piano Exercise.

Piano Exercise.

I know it seems silly but no matter how many times I move and no matter how far, I will not go without my piano. Or at least a reasonable facsimile of my piano. My childhood piano was not really mine, or even my family’s but belonged to a cousin. As a matter of fact it still is hers, and at the same time is still in my family’s possession. It lives in my youngest sister’s home and is a Heintzman baby grand piano. Many in my family took piano lessons on that beautiful instrument. My niece and nephew took their piano lessons on it. From the classical conservatory music that my older sister Janet played to jazz piano that my nephew Max played, this piano has been as much a member of our family history as anything else. So wherever I have moved to , a piano has come into my life. The cousin that is the owner of this piano is now in her late 80’s, lives here in B.C. and has never been able to get the piano to her home. She was 12 when it came into her possession. My present piano is a Palmer upright ~ baby grand I’m not certain, but it still keeps me in touch with family roots that are still cherished. I don’t play it often but when I do, the touch of my fingers to the notes takes me into my childhood living room and practicing piano. There is no principle to this wander down memory lane, but the principle of the power of touch to shape our memories.

“Music shouldn’t be just a tune, it should be touch.”
~ Amit Kalantri, Wealth of Words

Friday, January 6, 2017


Our first Writer's Ink group of 2017.  Our assignment for this month was to begin with - 'Just tell me why you did that……' The following is my offering for today. I had fun writing this bit of dialogue this morning.


“Just tell me why you did that. I really don’t understand and I would like to.”

“ I threw the lamp across the room because I am so frustrated with getting old!!!” Myrtle was sitting on the floor with a colourful box of tissues, wiping her eyes.

“But throwing things is what children and teenagers do. Have you lost your mind or are you just regressing into your second childhood?!” Her daughter, Sophie, was scared. Scared and feeling helpless.

“Neither.” Myrtle blew her nose and tried to land a the tissue in the wastebasket. “See, I’m too old to even hit even a wastebasket anymore.”

“Well then, why, mom? Do I need to take you to a doctor to see if there’s anything wrong? You’re on the floor? Did you fall?”  Sophie had never seen her mom like this.

“No, I don’t want to see a doctor. I didn’t fall. And I really don’t want to talk about it.”

“Good heavens! How can I help you if you don’t tell me how I can fix things for you?”

“Oh, honey. You can’t fix things for me unless you have a magic wand to reverse aging - including your own. It’s just that, sometimes, the principles that I’ve lived by and believed in, have become as invisible and ancient as I feel. And yet our world is dealing with all the same problems that I just know I could fix.”

“Will I ever understand what you’re going through?”

“Oh, you will, but not today. I remember having this same conversation with your grandfather when I was your age. Only he didn’t throw a lamp. He kicked his vintage Oldsmobile. He loved that car. The rest of us kids couldn’t even touch it without his permission. Anyway, we had the same conversation. Now I know what he was feeling and you will too at some point in your own growing up.”

“Growing up? I thought we were talking about aging?” Now Sophie was really concerned and confused.

“Well, sweetie, aging is just another phase in the growing up process - just a different bunch of numbers.”

“So. Let me get this straight. When I was a kid and I threw something and I broke it, you gave me hell and told me to grow up. So I did as I was told, at least in front of you and dad, and stopped throwing things. Now you’re throwing things and said you’re just growing up? Are you sure you don’t need to see some kind of doctor?”

“Well I don’t know any good broken lamp doctors, and I really did a good job on this one, didn’t I?” Myrtle smiled. Deep inside, and a bit shamefully, was amused at her poor daughter’s reactions.

“So what’s the moral, mom? You always have a moral - that’s one of your principles.”

“Here it is: If the lamp is broke, don’t even try to fix it. Go shopping for a new one………...

Sophie finished her mother’s sentence………..and get over it. Just grow up.”

“Growing up, I have discovered over time, 
is rather like housework; never finished.”
~ Lois McMaster Bujold

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Movie Review: Manchester by the Sea with Casey Affleck

Nominated for a 2017 Golden Globe Award, Manchester by the Sea, beautifully filmed and acted, was a hard film for me to watch. The story is one of life after great tragedy and loss. Lee Chandler is a man who tragically lost his children in a fire and, with good reason, blames himself. He and his wife, Randi, played by Michelle Williams, divorce. The story shows how this severely traumatized man lives his life, holding in his grief and anger. What amazed me was how Casey Affleck, in the role of Lee Chandler, maintained a flat, dead expression in his everyday life. A life that was very impoverished and devoid of any enjoyment. His eyes always looked ready to cry, but were dry, red rimmed.  His only expressions of grief were explosions of rage when he had had one too many drinks of beer. 

And so, this leaden life as a janitor of a large apartment building continued until his brother, Joe, died of a heart condition. In his will, Joe made Lee, guardian of his seventeen year old son, Patrick until Patrick was twenty one. The first indication of the enormity of this task was the look of panic on Lee Chandler’s face when he read the will and understood that he was the legal guardian of his nephew. The details of Lee Chandler’s previous life were not revealed until then, details shown through Lee's very poignant and painful flashbacks. The next part of this story shows the relationship between Lee and Patrick. Patrick was established in his school and hockey community and loved his time on his dad’s fishing boat, but was confronting his own grief. Admittedly the foibles of a young male teenager added some comic relief to this powerful film.

Principles of blame, self-recrimination and survival run through Mancester by the Sea. This is not a ‘happy ending’ sort of story, but the ending satisfied the concerns of both Lee and his nephew Patrick, as well as the terms of Joe’s will. Make certain you bring tissues to this movie.

“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface 
but connected in the deep.”
~ William James

Written and directed by:  Kenneth Lonergan

Casey Affleck          Lee Chandler
Michelle Williams   Randi (Lee Chandler’s wife)
Kyle Chandler          Joe Chandler
Lucas Hedges         teenage Patrick 
Peter Harris              young Patrick
Danae Nason            Rachel (Patrick's mother)
Matthew Broderick  Rachel’s second husband

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Currents of Change

Given or received

The very air that we breathe

Raise or lower temperatures

with this principle of change

Just might follow suit!

“One of the greatest victories you can gain
 over someone is to beat him at politeness”
~ Josh Billings

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

For the Sake of Progress

Progress comes at great expense……
The crunch of paper and jingle of coin in your pockets
Work to create progressive movement
In exchange for opinions and beliefs
Compromise without compromising principles

Progress - a visible passage of time
Are we afraid of progress?
Shifting sands that don’t wait
Balance and logic connect our principles 
To projected progress that
Takes the expense of time
Time while we run our dishwashers
Instead of washing dishes by hand

Which costs more to clean our dishes?
Hands or a silver box that whirs and sloshes?
The convenience that is progress
Comes from ideas
Ideas that build plants
Plants that employ many workers

And where does the environment fit
In the inexorable move of progress
While we leach from the earth.
Progress comes at great expense.

“Progress is measured by the speed at which 
we destroy the conditions that sustain life.”
~ George Monbiot

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Principle Design

At this beginning of 2017, and given all the changes and losses  of 2016, principles have come to mind - the principles of those that we have lost, and the principles of those of us that remain on this earth.

Progress comes at great expense
Respect changes attitudes and behaviour
Intuition whispers goals and dreams
Natural resources are deep within
Conscience settles in each moment
Integrity challenges the status quo
Possiblities are filled with honesty
Leadership sets the bar high…..or low
Ethics shapes decisions
Standards, based in belief, create direction

“A people that values its privileges above its principles soon loses both.”
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Sunday, January 1, 2017

A Viennese New Year's at the Royal Theatre

New Year’s Day dawned bright with a dusting of snow. By afternoon, the snow drained into the grass. The wind picked up as if in preparation for the marvelous Strauss waltzes. Concerts of Viennese waltzes are a New Year tradition in Vienna and now shared in Victoria. 

Conductor, Giuseppe Pietrarioia charmed us, prior to each selection, with the context and history of each piece of music. The tenor Benjamin Butterfield, and soprano Sharleen Joynt entertained us with amazing talent and vocal range. Victoria Ballet graced the stage for three selections. Their final dance was to The Blue Danube at the end of the performance. All the amazing musicians of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra were center stage in this beautiful musical afternoon. Musical artistry and principles of entertainment opened the 2017 New Year’s package with music, dance and song.

“The object of a new year is not that we should 
have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul.:
~ G.K.Chesterton