Aunt Marcia – Family Vol. 4

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Flowers near Marcia’s bed.

My heart is breaking, but it’s not just for me. It is breaking for my mother’s brother Ken Viard, for Ken’s children Melissa and Carl (with whom, at some relatively minor physical distance, I grew up), for Melissa’s husband Jeff and Carl’s wife Agnes, and for all those who love Marcia Leete Worthen Viard, who, on Feb 22, 2017,  passed into what awaits us all. Continue reading

A Woman & the Vegetable – Family Vol. 2

 

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Read up a bit on Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist of the 19th century, and you may run across this: “The greatest delight the fields and woods minister is the suggestion of an occult relation between man and the vegetable. I am not alone and unacknowledged. They nod to me and I to them.” Continue reading

Regina quondam, regina futura – Family Vol. 3

beach-shells-edit“The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That’s the only thing that never fails.”

Thus wrote Terence Hanbury White in The Once and Future King, first published in its entirety in 1958 – the year I turned 2. It will be just as true at the end of 2017, when I turn 61. Continue reading

Spinning Our Plates

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David Burlet in his plate-spinning act. Plate spinners were among my favorite act on the old Ed Sullivan show. They defy the laws of nature, much as people do who battle mental illness.

Some people have such difficulty expressing their periodic chasms of vengeful depression, they take to the Internet looking for narratives they might adopt for their own. Now and then, reading through these portrayals of sub-flat-line despair, they shout, “That’s fantastic!”

This does not suggest any enthusiasm – not even for recovery. Part of depression is being willing to take on anything – even the misery of others – in an effort to fill the void with something other than deep, dull pain. Continue reading

Standing on Rounded Stones

 

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Our daily battle for balance.

In my composition classes, I teach that if you are interested in thinking outside the box – if you strive to stretch or break the rules – you must first master the box. It’s my simplistic notion based on observations that some of the most innovative musicians were first classically (or at least formally) trained. This mastery is the foundation from which they can reach for more. Continue reading

The Unbearable Promise of Being

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Source of photo is unknown.

Today – Nov. 8, 2016 – is the first day that my three daughters are all able to vote in a presidential election – and they have done so: two by absentee ballot, one in person (with her husband). For me, that is history enough, but for them there is the added twist that they are able to cast their ballots for a woman who stands a solid chance of winning. All my years of hoping they understand that nothing is out of their reach because of their gender, are profoundly reinforced. Continue reading