Music Rocks!

Well, really  iTunes rocks!  I love music.  Can’t sing but I can hear and I was blessed with an ear for listening.  Every song has meaning.  To my untutored ear, the creator of the music provides one message, the arranger offers another, while the author of the lyrics defines another vision.  When all three meld beautifully, the song will serve its higher purpose of uplifting our spirit with a message of entreaty,  love, hope or all of the above.

Here are two examples of what I consider as my gift of hearing and listening.  By the way, I thank my high school English teacher for instilling in me the need to both hear and listen.

Earlier this year, I was browsing through a variety store at the airport in Jamaica while waiting for my flight.  Mostly, I indulge my love of literature by searching for books but since I was travelling alone my ears were tuned in to all the sounds around me and not the chatter of a travelling companion.  Like most stores today, there was a sound track running.  In the background, I could hear the notes and voices of the gospel song which was playing.  Beyond the sound of the choir ringing out over the speakers, was another lone voice.  I realized that the young cashier was also  caught up in the music, apparently knew and loved the song, and was singing in the sweetest voice I have heard in a long time.

I didn’t turn around but allowed the recorded music from the speakers to flow over me while the voice of the young woman brought a heartfelt emotion to the words.  I couldn’t catch everything but long after I walked out of the store,  the theme stuck with me as well as the final words of the chorus.  ‘he chose the cross instead’.  For some reason, I kept and held everything about the experience.

Weeks later, I still couldn’t forget the song, the words, the music or the voice. Eventually, I knew that  I would have to figure out where to track down the song.  How I was going to do that without a title or the name of the choir struck me as absurd.  To be honest, I spent a lot of time kicking  myself for not taking a moment to ask the young girl for the information.

Recently, I found myself in a similar situation.  My current hero, Barack Obama was struggling though the last days of his campaign.  His voice was almost lost in the rounds of endless appearances around the country.  About three days before the election, I waited online along with others for an appearance in some small town in Ohio because I could never tire of listening to his message of hope, voice or not.

The President was late getting to the advertised venue and I wondered if he had lost what was left of his overstrained vocal chords.  None the less, I waited, keeping one window on my computer opened at  The Obama Diary waiting for notice that he had arrived.

After awhile, I just opened  the C-Span channel and waited since I had nothing else to do and was tired of refreshing my computer.  I went to the venue site and waited.  There was a large crowd.  The music in the background hadn’t started in on the usual  Springsteen or Stevie Wonder tunes, a sure sign that the President’s arrival was not imminent.   I continued to wait.  The crowd was beginning to rock in anticipation.  Suddenly, it wasn’t the crowd anymore but the tune which began to get under my skin and I knew I had to figure out what it was.

Ok, so its not the airport in Jamaica.  My fabulous cell phone is handy.  By the time I was able to pull up my Soundhound app, the catchy song ended and the music moved on to another tune, still nice but not the one which moved me.

Forgetting about the president, who I had heard almost every day for weeks, I went back to The Obama Diary to ask if anyone knew the tunes which were played at the venues to entertain the crowds while waiting for Mr. Obama to appear.  No immediate response.  In desperation, I googled several variations of the words, ‘music, president, venue, etc.’  I finally found the answer under ‘President’s playlist’.

There were several songs.  Some I recognized immediately, others vaguely and some not at all.  After copying the list, I crossed out those I knew then went straight to itunes.  Here my two stories converge.

The complex mechanisms which comprise the  iTunes program make my musical search  missions a very interesting endeavour.  My effort combined with the availability of an awesome list of songs will result in success if I listen and hear.  The 90 second preview is usually enough to figure out if I am going in the right direction.

Finding the match to the words ‘he chose the cross instead’, was the more difficult of the two.  There were several songs with the same or similar words.  I ended up having to buy at least four songs before the wonderful tune by the Crabb family began to play out on my computer.  Indeed the words and music were as lovely as I remembered.  I have since played it on a regular basis when I am on the road.  Recently I also introduced it on my playlist for Gospel night at our healing meditation services.

After listening to the first five of the pieces on the President’s playlist, which were new to me, I heard this wonderful song performed by Ages and Ages, entitled, No Nostalgia.  I have to say, that it was as inspiring through my ear phones as it had been playing  in the background while the crowd of thousands waited for the president.  I can see why that song was on his playlist.

If music, words arranged beautifully can uplift the spirit,  inform and broaden the soul even while it teaches the very practical skills of listen, hear and seek then those songs are surely worth sharing.

I don’t know if there is any value or recongizable skill in being able to track down a song with very little information but I am happy to be able to do that because one uplifting song can make a difference to one hour of my day, one day of my life, one year.  Without music, I couldn’t write, I couldn’t offer hope and healing to those who are distressed, I couldn’t get myself up to make life’s journeys when the spirit falters.

Not every song search is so difficult.  Case in point, listening to Blossom Dearie sing Touch the Hand of Love on the radio, stopping the car to make a note of the information, tracking it down on YouTube then finding a classically beautiful version by YoYo Ma and Renee Fleming, Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer.  Every time I listen to it, I am thankful for having the opportunity to bring it into a moment when I need to remind myself to be thankful for family and friends.

I hope all your songs bring you the same joy.

I don’t know about other writers but getting a story in my head is one thing, actually being able to create action without a character fascimile is difficult.  When I started writing for fanfic, I looked through hundreds of photos for a visual of what my young hero might look like.  He needed to be an amazing combination of Catherine (Linda Hamilton) and Vincent (Ron Perlman).

I started my search knowing that in the final year of the series, Vincent and Catherine have a child who is kidnapped.  As the story unfolds, and we see his son we knew then that the Man/beast and Catherine had produced a child who appears without any of the facial markings which characterize Vincent.

As the primary story developed, I would add some physical powers to ensure that he inherited something from his father and this story line evolved into an entire history.  As I searched for photos of someone who could inspire me to write, I finally came across a young Russian actor who was being celebrated for starring in a new movie entitled, Inhabited Island.

He couldn’t have been more perfect.  Vasily Stepanov became my ideal.  Every time a new photo came out, I would check and note how he changed, matured, dressed and acted (in videos of him).  He has been a true inspiration.  His eyes, hair, action and innocence portrayed in the movie allowed me to create a persona for my stories.

I can’t understand his language but he has a lovely booming voice and beautiful eyes which remind me of Vincent and a smile which could have come right from Catherine.  I continue to celebrate his looks, talent and hope that he is able to achieve the career goals in Russia and anywhere he choses.

In looking for something new today for my next story, I came across this video which I had never seen.  Clearly someone else has seen something in him which is inspiring musically and I thank the creator of the video.  Right away it got my mind thinking about when I wrote my first story, how much the character has matured and indeed, a new story line is already forming for the future.

I am grateful to him, have thanked him personally via Facebookand wish him all the best.  I thought that some of my fanfic readers who check out this blog would like to see him. And,  if you love the character Jacob, you will love this video.  I sure did!

Writing a series

Last night or rather early this morning, I completed chapter 19 of my 10th online book in the Beauty and Beast series.   After a few days, my mind will turn once more to another chapter which I hope will keep readers from all over the world coming back.  My thanks to fanfiction for allowing us to see where in the world people are enjoying the stories.
I don’t know what it is about series writing that I love but I think getting the chance to watch characters evolve, change and grow is exciting. Of course, having a sort of superhero and now heroine make for interesting challenges. I want them to be believable as people as well.
The original TV series Beauty and the Beast was inspirational to so many. It inspired me to write two published books and of course this series on fan fiction. I doubt that this love of writing could have returned to me without sensing someone elses underlying love of the printed word.
There are many who write in this genre in fanfiction.  There are some who revision or add to the stories which already exist in the time frame of the original series but my stories differ because they are current.
The idea that Catherine and Vincent had a child whose adult life could be remarkable drove me to create just such a character. And, because I am also a balanced person, he needed to have a wife/partner who could balance his energy.

The original series was chock full of interesting characters who provide fodder for ongoing stories.   I hope that Jacob and his amazing wife Cathy will continue to grow and find their full range of gifts even as their own love story grows.
I am always grateful to the backdrop of Vincent, Catherine and some of the original cast of characters who brought love to life in a way that moved all of us and when I can give them active parts in the new series I will do so to honour the originators of the series and the writers who produced the TV program from 1987-1989
Lastly, I have to thank that handsome Russian actor Vasily Stepanov whose face, hair and stature gave me the initial impetus to pursue this story line. He is the epitome of Jacob. I am still looking for a visual of Cathy but she is a remarkable woman, coming into her own.
This past year, I was able to add some Canadian content to the series. I have to admit being proud of my home having a place within the context of the story and one that didn’t feel contrived.
These plot lines continue to evolve from one another in the recesses of my mind. I can’t tell you how one will end until I write the last lines of each book.  This also  makes it fun for me and the readers who enjoy the cliff hanger type adventure.
Thanks to all who read and write me with your comments.

Travelling is always an interesting experience.  No matter how many times we go to the same place no two experiences will be the same.  I remarked to a friend the other day that I have been travelling since 1949 when I took my first flight carried  in my mother’s arms.  Of course I don’t remember it at all but to be sure,  the journey changed the course of my life and I have loved travelling ever since then.

Just this past two weeks I travelled to the place I left that July of 1949.  I have returned  numerous times since then using  my favourite love-hate flyer, Air Canada.  Summer is a delightful time to travel but not in the middle of a heat wave to a tropical country.  Talk about sweltering!  Every living salt in my tissues was lost to the flood of water which left my body in waves.  But, why not swelter on a beach in the Caribbean rather than my front verandah which only overlooks numerous other concrete structures in the community where I live.  To see trees laden with Mangoes, flowers blooming all over, and few pesky mosquitos was lovely.

The best part of the travel was a short stint at the Jamaica Inn.  To be honest, the place had, I thought, some unique history with Hollywood but the movie of the same name was based on a book by Daphne duMaurier,  (who I love and admire with all my heart) about a pub in Cornwall.  The resort did have some unique characteristics however.  The ownership has been continuous since the 50’s and the setting has an old world elegance not seen by me for years.  All inclusive hotels are wonderful but for those wanting a relaxing, leisurely vacation without all the mod cons of our fast paced life, this is the place to be.  I was enchanted.

So to follow on from previous complaints about my favourite airline, I have to say that this time they were blameless in the excitement of this flight.  Take off from Jamaica was flawless.  The flight was almost without any turbulence.  We circled lake Ontario in preparation for landing and….we circled again and again until the captain’s resigned voice blared from the speakers.  There was a massive storm over the airport and we couldn’t land.  Circle became the word of the hour.  Running out of gas, we had to make our way to Hamilton Ontario to land.  Hamilton?  Did they have enough space for not one but two or three or more planes all running out of gas.  Apparently they did.  The ground staff looked important as they tried to meet the needs the influx of planes suddenly descending on their small airport.  I had a fleeting thought of how horrible it must have been for some of those small airports to cope during the 911 disaster.  That wasn’t the case here but certainly there would be no deplaning.  Another bag of cashews, some texts and a few phone calls helped the hour to pass.

Ok, we can drive from Hamilton to Toronto in 40 minutes or less.  Are we really going to take off and land in what would amount to a rabbit hop?  After an hour lay over we really did the leap over the storm which was making its way south and west.  The short flight from Hamilton to Toronto was accomplished easily and the pilot landed the craft as smooth as ever on the other side.  Looking down from the window at the blackness of the storm cloud circling below the level of the plane was interesting.  That we could rise above it was the point of the bunny hop I guess.

No point going into details about the chaos at the airport.  Apparently there was a ‘code red’, whatever that means.    What I saw was that planes hanging in the air and planes diverted from Toronto were returning in droves.  The full import of the massive diversion was understood as I waited 20 minutes for a dock to deplane, over an hour for luggage, 45 minutes for a bite to eat at the single Tim Horton’s that was open, and then another 40 minutes for a taxi.  Six hours after the time I should have landed,  I was finally pulling my sorry and tired butt into the house.

None the less, thanks be for the care and control which ensured that no injuries occurred to either humans or planes.  Now we are in the middle of a weather chill.  As I put on my sweater to step outside today, the sweltering beach seems mighty welcome.

I wonder myself. MSNBC might not be everything but ever listen to FOX? Republicans have media, grassroots, money and power. The democrats have to rise up and be a voice at all levels. GOP can say what they want against the president because there just isn’t enough backlash from people who care. As an objective outsider, this is what I hear. The GOP are ‘right’. To an untutored mind that means a lot.
OWS worked because they were a loud voice of many. This TOD is site is amazing and supportive but there needs to be more if the president’s agenda is to be heard. People may not like Van Jones but he said something critical on TV the other night. The left assumed that once the president got in, all would be well, that he had absolute power to make change with the stroke of a pen. That is so not true. Without a strong and deep grassroots which can rise up, swell up and show support for his policies, his battles, his ideas for change, he won’t get anywhere. He shouldn’t fight alone. Lots of people live in bubbles in which they see, only what has always been, as the ‘right’ way to go. They will continue to watch FOX and believe what they hear and see there as what’s ‘right’.
My point is that even when MSNBC or Jon Stewart say things which we don’t find appealing, the importance of using the negatives from ‘the left’ to galvanize folks is just as important. Right wing negatives make people indignant, left wing negatives should make people think about what’s missing, why did he say that and do what can be done to make change. They shouldn’t be tuned out and dismissed. I have learned more about American politics from these folks that I could ever have learned anywhere else.


Throwing Hillary Rosen under the bus is disgraceful. Everyone did it today except for the President. Thank you to Terry O’Neill for giving full and practical voice to the comment while speaking on the Ed show. The comment was about choice. Mitt Romney does not support choice for the women of America who have little or no choice. Ann Romney had a choice which is denied to millions of women everywhere. I support Hillary Rosen.

Hard to say good-bye

Yet another iconic figure has passed away.  Beautiful, talented Whitney Houston, dead before her time and another incredible voice lost.  Her contribution to the music world was enormous and her performances have been missed.  To all those who loved her and especially to her family and friends they must be deeply saddened.  She gave me many moments to enjoy and her music has always uplifted me when I have felt down.

From my comments on The Obama Diary regarding my favourite song from ‘The Preacher’s Wife’.

I Believe in You and Me

My absolute favourite! I do believe in miracles and love is a miracle. The screen shots which played with the music are embedded in memory and are always a reminder of the importance of helping our fellow human in a selfless way. I hope we remember her music and not the other negative stuff which affected her but did not affect what she gave to us in life.


Funny thing about Twitter
We know now what everyone is thinking and conversely we now know what everyone  is thinking.
Not sure if this is a good thing?

All the recent activity in the newspapers about adults in responsible positions who molest children in their care is and should be thought provoking.    The stories demand action and words because the nature of the act goes against all that is sacred in childhood.  Because these stories continue to make news it is clear that the actions of these predators have not abated.  Blaring headlines continue to generate a feeling of distrust for the integrity of institutions which have not protected our children.  Victims who may or may not have remained silent over the years continue to suffer.

Every time child molestation becomes a subject of public debate, some long time predators are exposed but at the bottom of anyone’s caring list is the long line of victims who continue to suffer various forms of post traumatic stress because they re-live the events personal to their own lives.
Before this most recent spate of chatter in the news, I started writing *a story about the fallout of childhood sexual abuse.  Although the narrative is fiction, it contains elements of someone’s truth. I hope that those who read it will be able to know that they are not alone even though loneliness is the hallmark of keeping such secrets hidden.                                                                                                                                         We don’t know what threats are forced on children making them have to lie about the abuse but that is another part of the story separate, but also ancillary to the effects of the actual abuse.
I hope to see the end of this predatory action on children.
What was done in the wake of other major well publicized events has been helpful but hardly seems to make a dent in the consciousness of predators past and present who are still out there. There is no group of survivors marching the streets in support of victims but there are tireless workers who try to help children of all ages, forever trapped in the mists of a murky childhood, struggling with normalcy as an adult, but wanting to see justice and an end to this disgusting criminal act.

*Fanfiction – Blunt Thou The Lion’s Paw

** Other real life stories available at Discover the Path – Women of Courage

The Delta Connection

I know that many people travel by air every day,  others not so much. This is my third trip this year. For a non business person, I felt like I had reached my maximum.
Instead of travelling by Air Canada, I had to use Delta for the first time. It turned into a marathon, partly by choice. In the interests of saving money, we did the plane, train and automobile and bus route. The bus ride to Buffalo was uncomplicated but crowded. Going over the border still remains a measure of your ability to look honest and answer the questions as if you never did anything wrong in your life.
Timing is everything. A four hour wait at the airport fin Buffalo or the first flight out was hard. A little bench sleep helped the time to pass only 6% faster, as least in my estimation.
Delta has zone loading. they invite the rich and famous first then load from front to back. Seems to me that back to front would work better. In four days, I had four take-offs and four landings. God bless the Sarasota to Atlanta pilot. Best and most comfortable landing. Hated being squashed on a full plane…totally unnecessary on a plane with several empty seats.
Buffalo airport was comfy. Atlanta was a city unto itself. Sarasota was a mini version and very manageable.
Kudos to Michael in Sarasota who was funny and engaging while we waited for luggage. Would like to fly again with the nice man who helped me with a light bag. Loved the friendly Delta crew on the Sarasota to Atlanta flight. They were standouts in a company that already provides friendly respecful service.
To the greyhound bus driver in Buffalo whose sarcasm was unnecessary, I will use the Megabus guys anyday if you are a typical representitive of your company.
Thirty-two hours of travel time for a forty-eight hour visit was worth the effort. To spend time with my extended family in celebration of a 90th birthday is a rarity in many families and not a missed blessing in ours.  Happy birthday again dear cousin and thanks to all my other cousins who made the journey.