Shuttered Spaces

Painting by Philip Froman

The painting above has no title. My father completed this when he was in his eighties, after taking up a brush for the first time in his seventies. He was a genial man, my father, with torrents of unrealized dreams dammed up inside him. If you look closely, and listen, you can almost hear those dreams crash against the cliffs. Although I should have, I never thought to catalog his work. What I do know is that two of his paintings stood out among the dozens he produced: the one above, and an idyllic lake scene, a complete antithesis to it. Both represent the man he was.

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For months I’ve found myself in an odd place—trying to sustain the appearance of writing, while not having any interest in writing. Other than the words on this blog, and the occasional letters to family and friends, I’ve produced nothing.

I can’t blame the virus, as tempting as it is. The ideas, and desire to shape them, started drying up long before COVID-19. It just took months of solitude to accept, and make peace with it.

***

Recently, a composer friend, who never heard any of my music, suggested I should start composing again—tentatively, gently, as though he understood he was directing me to a room I’d shuttered and forgotten. I stopped composing after graduate school, for many of the same reasons I don’t write now.

It was an unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source.

But sometimes, the unlikeliest suggestions, from the unlikeliest sources, resonate in the deepest recesses, in the most organic ways.

Once, I followed a similar unlikely suggestion, from an unlikely source, because it felt right, and it led to love.

This feels the same.

***

I have no idea what will spring from my shuttered space. But, if the only music that comes from it is as indicative of who I am, as my father’s paintings were of who he was, then I’ll be happy.

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I imagine this blog will undergo some changes before 2021. Information about books will remain, as will all the old posts. But, the focus will shift, as I reintroduce myself to my roots, and, to you.

***

In the meanwhile, I wish you safety, good health, abundant strength, joy, and love in the coming holiday season…

…and, of course, the New Year. I’ll see you then.

©2020 All Rights Reserved

Sparkle

It’s that time of year—the season of fir and spruce and garland, light and scent and spirits. We plan and shop and bake, hang wreaths on our doors, and drag ornaments and stockings out of storage. And we decorate.

I’m in awe of people whose homes sparkle for the holidays. I always wonder how they know which decorations will glitter and beckon and appear as if they were meant to be where they are. There’s a gift to choosing and arranging I don’t have. Maybe because I didn’t grow up with it, or maybe I just don’t have that gene. I wish I knew.

My house always looks off during the holidays, no matter how carefully I study what others do. There never seems to be the right place for our candles; favorite nutcracker ornaments stand like cross, unruly sentries on the mantel, and two mismatched golden wire trees look as if they’re pining for company. Every year I consider buying more of them, imagining them surrounded by a gilded forest, but it feels frivolous somehow….

Then there’s the tree, and those fragile-footed birds placed into the same position on two branches as if they are about to kiss, without being close enough to do it. I wonder if they gossip when all the lights are out, or if they merely sigh and say, “Well, here we are again.”

Yes. Here we are.

And so, I wish you forests of good company to cheer you, and a season that sparkles with love, light, and the blessings of abundant joy and well-being.

Until 2020…

Peace.

©2019 All Rights Reserved

2019

Screen Shot 2018-12-22 at 6.02.21 PM

…seems a world away in weeks.  Yet, it’s not.

There will be old things to go through, irritants to shed, habits to abandon in 2019.

And I will have to make lists to keep myself focused.

There will be a long list for writing projects (yes, I changed the point of view again; no, Character One is not going to have the stroke), a musical list of pieces I want to learn (finally), a list for home improvements (that runner on the staircase has GOT to go, as do the bedroom curtains—whoops, there’s another item for that list: MAKE CURTAINS; but first, find a place for the sewing machine), and there’s a list for appointments which need to be made, letters that have to be written, and more and more.

No one living I know has a birthday or anniversary in January, thank goodness, but the new calendar will have to be marked with the correct dates (which list does that go on?), and 2018’s holiday decorations will have to come down.

Did I mention the closets that have to be cleaned? The stack of books near my chair?  Or time for play or leisurely chats with friends and family? Or movies I want to see? Or reading the paper, watching the news? (Well, maybe not.) And I haven’t even addressed exercise and diet.

Oh, the lists on my desk will be many, and definitely unruly as they mount. And then I will have to make another list to prioritize them.

But that’s next year. For the moment, it’s still 2018. So, my hope for you is this:

May your lists be manageable, your holiday merry and all you wish, and your New Year sparkling with promise.

Joy, peace, and love to all.

©2018 All Rights Reserved