Bungling Rainbow Bridge

golden gate bridge

photo by Maarten van den Heuvel

Aunt Evelyn’s ashes had been in our china cupboard for a couple years, waiting for their trip to San Francisco.  She wanted to be scattered under the Golden Gate Bridge, where she had scattered her husband’s ashes.

Now, it’s illegal to just chuck things off bridges and generally illegal to chuck things – especially human cremains – off of boats without special permission.  The boats that give special permission cost $800 an hour, and while Aunt Evelyn was never a practical person, I certainly am one, and so I and my accomplices set off to honor her wishes.

Human cremains are more copious and heavy than one might imagine, and so three of us divided the ashes into plastic baggies, which we put in our pockets and backpacks.  Walking the bridge, we surreptitiously scooped tiny handfuls to sprinkle through the holes in the sidewalk.  (do NOT tell anyone)

Too many ashes to complete from the bridge, lest we get caught and locked up in Alcatraz, we found a beach upstream to scatter the leftovers.

I began by ceremoniously plopping some ashes too far away from the waves.  Aunt Evelyn’s grey ash did NOT blend in with the tan San Francisco sand, but shimmered in the sun, announcing my ineptitude.   My second toss made it closer and waves washed her to sea – the sun catching specks of glitter in the ash and lending some beauty to the ceremony.  What is that glitter?  Mica?  Dental fillings?

ashes 2

That night we slept at the Airport Travel Lodge (NOT San Francisco’s finest) because we were catching an early morning flight to Oahu.  While arranging our backpacks for the next day we discovered one more baggie of Aunt Evelyn.  What to do?!?!?!  TSA would not allow this powdery substance without the original documentation and box, which we no longer had.  It was a hard call, but Poor Aunt Evelyn now resides in the Travel Lodge planters, along with greenery, flowers and cigarette butts.  She did smoke!

I was sorry not to bring part of her to Hawaii.  In our vacation condo, YouTube provided island music.  I’d like to say that I googled Israel Kamakawiwoole, but you can see why it’s easier to type in “fat Hawaiian singer”.  He weighed over 700 pounds, so his stature was distinctive.  Aunt Evelyn liked the expression Rainbow Bridge, and our destination of Waianae, Oahu felt like a link to her.  In addition to Hawaiian rainbows, this tiny place was Israel’s hometown, and housed a proud statue in his honor.

Israel Kamakawiwoole

Here is his famous song, as well as a video of the voyage where nothing at all was bungled.  I hope Aunt Evelyn is going along for the ride.  Click the link below and watch to the very end if you have time.  Aloha!

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

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An Old Soul

At age six, Alistair was wise beyond his years – an old soul.

Dignified, polite, interested in music and the arts, Alistair would never have done anything like interrupting a person, putting his feet on the sofa or coming to his piano lesson with dirty hands.

Not that I’m a frilly lady piano teacher who could be affronted by such things.

On his birthday, Alistair’s father dropped him off with a little cake.  Apparently the celebration was to take place during his piano lesson.

The father left.  The piano teacher taught.

At a quarter of the hour, we took out the cake, laid plates and napkins (of course), lit the candles and sang Happy Birthday.

Alistair was thrilled!!!

Smiling broadly, he stammered,

“This is really nice.  Let’s do this every year, until we’re both….until we’re both….men.”

Piano Cupcake

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Inspiration for your next MRI


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Easter 2017

Easter 2017.png


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I Could Paint That

Who couldn’t do Abstract Landscape Painting?

I arrive early at The Art League’s classroom all ready to CREATE. No need to feel intimidated. Any four year old can do this stuff. In fact, the idea of wielding colors around reminds me of those free-flowing kindergarten days.

Unlike Miss Cotrell’s Kindergarten class, we should have received a supply list and brought items to class.

The other students got the memo. They arrive with so many tubes of paint and fancy art tools that they travel with specialized art tool chests on wheels.

I arrived with a pocket sized notebook and pencil.

After the introductory lecture about how to lay an expressionist base, the teacher sends me off to the store where I spend a couple hundred dollars on acrylics, brushes, canvases and a thing called Gesso, which I had read about but guess I’d been pronouncing incorrectly.

When I return to the class-in-progress, I see two different kinds of student art works:

  1. #1 The Barfed On Canvas.
  2. #2 The Canvas I Want To Buy.

After class, I approach a woman who has done a #2 type painting.

“I love your painting.”

Unmoved, she says something like thank you.

“Do you love your painting?” I ask this hoping she might say that I can have it.

“It’s a lot different from what I usually do.”

I would feel like a jerk saying “I’ll give you $100 for it,” so I don’t.

I regret it.

It happens she’s a graphic designer. I learn there are three graphic designers in the class, looking for their muses. There are also award-winning landscape painters, all taking the class to learn “letting go”.

Our first assignment is to be loose – out of control. Baby, I am the queen of no control. We begin with bold black strokes, applied randomly on large canvases. I call this The Preliminary Barfing Stage. It lays the base for the illness which will continue with dry heaves for another two hours of art class.

My painting is so bad that I leave it in the art school restroom where it belongs.

Later, an artist friend, Allen, counseled, “Make a list of everything you hate about your painting and then do the opposite.”

I give myself permission to sit quietly with a tiny piece of paper. I take a sip of water. I breathe Zen, I dip into gray and stroke one time with my brush. I let gravity have the second turn.

Do you remember the euphoria that comes after vomiting? The chills and fever are done. The stomach has calmed. The terrible illness has finally passed.

With the proper lighting and frame the Hirshorn will have a line and timed ticket entries for Zen Plop Collection.  Don’t you think so?



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All went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

There’s nothing a church musician hates more than one more “Merry Christmas!”  We’re not Scrooges, but think of the poor tax accountant on 4-15.  Imagine April 15 as a much-loved time of gift giving and feasting.  The tax accountant is chained to her desk, which is heaped with papers – clients are lining the hallway waiting their turn.  No “Happy Tax Day!” for her.

A typical Christmas Eve where I work:

  • 11am Children’s Pageant
  • 4pm Children’s Pageant
  • 6pm Christmas Service
  • 8pm Christmas Service
  • 10:30 pm Christmas Service

And y’all come back now for noon on Christmas Day!

Merry Christmas To You Too, Buddy!

My guard is up against that bastard Pere Noel.  I’ve actually had a bruised buttocks from sitting on the organ bench so long.

But today is April 15, far far away from Jesus’ birthday party.  I’m safely in my studio teaching piano lessons – coaxing young students to read music.

Often I use songs children know to make a fun puzzle of bass and treble, whole and half, space and line.  Even in April I’m not above pulling out a carol collection for a reluctant reader.  What seven-year-old can resist Jingle Bells?  My student, Jasmine, said she did not know The First Noel.  I sit down to play it for her.  It’s April.  My guard is down.

And sneaky Father Christmas sprinkled magic on my heart.

April 15

It’s the best time of the year!



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Easter 2016

Easter 2016
Easter 2016
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Barbados 2016

February in Barbados:  Books, Beach and Beer.

We used to be adventurous travelers, walking – or at least driving – perimeters of islands to see it all.

These days we enjoy a more relaxing winter vacation.  Even though we’re young, my husband and I are not above staying in “old folks hotels” where clientele play cribbage in the afternoon and evening bands cover Frank Sinatra.

Sunset comes early in the Caribbean.  After watching the orange ball sizzle into the sea, we make early suppers in our room – salad and yam with butter one night.  Rotisserie chicken and green beans another night.  Last night from our balcony we heard an unusual set of songs from the restaurant band.  Billy Joel, Kat Stevens, Simon and Garfunkel.

What are these people thinking?  Music from the 70’s?  This is an old folk’s hotel!



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Thanksgiving – Outside the Box

We are a strange Thanksgiving trio – Diane, Mel and David.  On this day of grannies, cousins, sisters, uncles and orphans, it’s just the three of us.

The only thing traditional about our holiday is that Someone has purchased an 18 pound turkey (“it was the only fresh one left”) and has enough stuffing for 20 people.   (and Someone Else eats low carb)

Enter friend Jeanne and her invitation to join them for dessert at 6:30.

There is every reason we want to accept.

Except …. and I know this is strange….

I just hate eating a big meal while the sun is still up.


  1. Eat dinner while the sun is up.
  2. Eat a small meal while the sun is up.
  3. Eat dinner after dessert.
  4. Don’t go to Jeanne’s.

If you’ve had Jeanne’s desserts you do NOT want to pick number four.  (Low carb, Who?)

Think.  Think Hard.  There must be a way.

Muscle your way out of the box.


There’s plenty so come on over.  Even a low carb sweet potato pie!


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Who’s In Charge Of Reincarnation?

Washington Post Article:  China rejects reconciliation with Dalai Lama

“China sees the game as mostly over, with a few odds and ends remaining that it can weather with little discomfort……

As the Dalai Lama ages, Beijing also thinks it has time on its side.  It is almost certainly planning to engineer the Dalai Lama’s succession, to raise a young leader more favorably inclined toward its rule, and promote him over any rival chosen by the exile community.

But the Dalai Lama irritated China recently by suggesting that he might not reincarnate.

Officials from the avowedly atheist Communist Party responded by accusing the Dalai Lama of betraying his religion, and insisting that the party itself, not the Dalai Lama, would decide whether he would be reborn.”

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