Thoughts on opera and dad

Thoughts on opera and dad

Thoughts on opera and dad

Dad’s been gone for a little over a year. Today would have been his 91st birthday. One of the last things he did was to go to the opera. Dad loved music. Nothing gave him greater joy than singing or listening to beautiful music. From the time  he was in college, he belonged to a barbershop group or chorus. That love of music that was passed on to his children. His barbershop quartet sung us to sleep when we were babies. As an adult, my brother even joined the barbershop chorus my father belonged to. Dan loved a good party, and would often do his best Ike Turner at local bars that had karaoke contests, his booming bass filling the room. Through junior high and high  school, even into community college I performed in musicals, church choirs and theater groups. I had no idea how much my father’s love of opera had influenced me until I took my own son to his first opera. My husband and I chose Puccinni’s, La Boheme. It had all the things a kid could  love raucous behavior, sword fights, fun, of course there’s tragedy but that’s opera. My own introduction to opera was ideal and I didn’t think it would ever be matched. It was the perfect choice for my sister and I. Stern Grove in San Francisco was the setting for Madam Butterfly, my first opera. The costumes were colorful and the music by Puccini was exquisite. The day was glorious and warm and I was hooked. Thereafter, Dad I bonded over all kinds of music, but I was the only one of six kids who seemed to share his love of opera. When I came across the program my mother saved from the event, I was astounded. It had made such an impression on me that, I had chosen the same date, and my son was the same age as I was when I saw Madam Butterfly!
Dad and I agreed, we liked the more musical, lyrical, operas by Puccini, Bizet, Mozart. Today, in his honor, I listened to the famous duet by the two male leads in the Pearl Fishers. The illustration of the final scene in Act I by Antonio Bonamare.

Luv’s life prologue

Luv’s life prologue

Here’s a taste from my new book, Luv’s Life.

Prologue

Damn it! She scowled at the stack of bills piled on the kitchen counter. As if humiliating her by running off with her assistant wasn’t enough, he had to leave her knee-deep in debt too. It was the cherry on top of the horrible sundae that was her life.

When Good Morning Seattle hired a new producer, he decided to go, “in another direction.” Her pride and professional ethics wouldn’t allow her to do segments on women who married their step-father! They had obviously mistaken her for Maury Povitch. Rather than debase herself she walked out. It was puzzling. She’d thought she was doing well. The show had even allowed her to hire an intern to help answer her fan mail and book her personal appearances.

She took Mindy under her wing and the two had become friends. She’d shown her the ropes for God’s sake. The girl added insult to injury by running off with her boyfriend! She really could just kill Brad, nothing hurt like being left for a younger woman! Such was the life of a romantic lifestyle consultant. What a joke! Here she was giving advice to women on how to live life more romantically and she couldn’t even satisfy her own boyfriend’s desires.
Okay, at twenty-eight she was only a few years older than Mindy the Twinkie, but the whole thing made her feel old and tired. The lying, cheating bastard was a waste-of-skin who’d given her nothing.
Nothing, but debt and disgrace. There was only one thing left to do. Go home to her parents defeated. She hated the thought. But it would only be for a few weeks. Just until she figured out what to do next and how to pay the bills Brad had left her.
Want more? You can buy it on Amazon The link is in the corner on the right.

In a flash: my trip to myrtle falls part two

In a flash: my trip to myrtle falls part two

In a flash: my trip to myrtle falls part two


In A Flash Part Two

I trudged over to the edge of the falls. Even though they were buried beneath three feet of snow I could hear the rush of the water. My husband was taking pictures, oblivious to my absence. I stared up at cobalt sky, the mid-day sun shone brightly. Translucent red spots flared around it.
Heat coursed through me like a fever and my insides burned. I squeezed my eyes closed to shut out the glare of the red spots. Dizziness overwhelmed me. I dropped my trekking poles and fell to my knees. The pain in my left breast inched around my side, and down my back to my kidney. Unable to fight any longer I gave in, blackness swallowed me.
I opened my eyes moments later. The icy green and white landscape had been replaced with gray concrete. It looked like a warehouse, with no windows or doors.
Oh God, where am I? I scrambled to my feet. Where was Stephen?
“It’s not important, but your husband is fine,” a woman’s soothing voice answered.
I wasn’t aware I had said anything out loud. “How did I get here and where are you?” I asked. Now I was terrified. I’d been kidnapped!
“No, you haven’t been kidnapped,” the voice responded, reading my thoughts again.
“No? Well, I don’t remember asking someone to take me to this place, whatever it is. And if I’ve been taken against my will that makes this a kidnapping. Let me out of here!” I raced about the room, pounding the walls looking for hidden control panels or secret doors. She brought me in here, there had to be a way out.
“I’m sorry for the pain and I’m sorry we had to do it this way.”
“Do what?”

“Don’t be afraid,” Her tender voice washed over me bathing me in comfort.
“I don’t understand. Where am I and what do you want?” Panic and fear gripped me.
“I want you, beloved. You fought long and hard, but it’s time.”
“For what?” I yelled back at the walls. The coward still wasn’t showing her face.
“To come home.”
Another flash filled my vision, and she appeared, dressed in a long, gossamer, royal blue gown that matched the color of her eyes, her golden, flowing hair cascaded over her alabaster shoulders. Her wings were delicate and opalescent. Awestruck by such beauty I could do nothing but stare in wonderment.
“Darling child, He has asked me to prepare you for your journey home” she answered sweetly.
The enormity of her statement hot me like a ton of bricks. I was being called home. I was dead. “Am I Dead?”
“Technically, this is what we call a warning. And no it’s not a mistake.”
“This can’t be right. I beat cancer! I beat it! I’ve been cancer free for a year,” I argued in disbelief.
“Beloved, the cancer has spread-” she began taking my hand in her own.
“to my kidney and my spine,” I said finishing the sentence. “Do you appear to everyone or am I special?” I fumed. “This is unfair!” I yanked my hand away from her.
“You’ve had more time than many and to answer your question, all are beautiful in His eyes. ”
“No! I won’t believe this! It’s too soon.”
“I don’t choose the time beloved, He does,” she said smiling enigmatically.
“You can knock off the beloved stuff. I don’t know who you are or what you want, but I’m not your beloved and I want out of here,” I demanded.
“A moment ago you believed. What happened for you to doubt me?” She fluttered around me, then landed a few feet away, fixing me with a stern expression. The vision could fly and I didn’t see wires or a green screen. She didn’t seem like a hologram either. It was every Catholic cliche I’d ever heard about in catechism.
”Isn’t this all kind of old school? The costume is ridiculous, predictable even,” I taunted her.
“We try to take a shape the new soul is comfortable with.” Her wings folded in front of her a moment, then disappeared behind her back again. Revealing her dressed in jeans and a white t-shirt. “Is this better?”
I don’t know how she transformed herself in front of me, but she did. She strode toward me with her arms outstretched, a golden light surrounding her. Love and joy emanated from her, but fear held me fast. I longed to feel her embrace, but I was too afraid to move.
“The journey home won’t be an easy one. I’m here if you need me. And all that was lost will be found,” she assured me.
“I’m afraid,” I cried. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know your name.”
“Yes, you do. Prepare, beloved.” She smiled and touched my shoulder. A warmth radiated though her into my own skin.
I awoke to find my husband bent over me, concern etched into his handsome features.
“Honey, are you okay? Did you fall?”
“Um, yeah, I lost my balance when my got boot got stuck,” I mumbled digging my trekking poles into the icy snow and pulling myself up. I removed my gloves and pretended to check my boots and laces.
“I have a present for you.” he said as he reached into his pocket. “I was taking pictures over there,” he pointed to a group of evergreens about fifty yards away, “And I looked down and saw it. Someone must have dropped it. Close your eyes and open your hand.”
I did as I was told. I felt something cold hard placed into the palm of my hand.
“Open your eyes.”
I looked down to find a smooth, round rock. “A rock? Why do I need a rock?”
“Turn it over,” he instructed.
I turned it over and engraved on the other side was the word, love.

In a flash: my hike to myrtle falls

In a flash: my hike to myrtle falls

In a flash: my hike to myrtle falls

It’s been a year and, looking at me from the outside you’d never know. That’s how I want it. I found the latex pad from one of my bikini tops that fills in the space nicely. It’s lightweight and doesn’t make me sweat like those silicone prostheses. The only way anyone would know is if they saw me naked.
The surgeon took more of my left breast than he’d originally planned. Once he’d opened me up he discovered the cancer had spread farther than he thought. He was so surprised he came out of surgery to inform my husband, who told him to cut it out, get it all. When the doctor first mentioned reconstruction automatically I blurted out my refusal. My breasts are dense and fibrous. I was afraid they’d never find a recurrence, and I’d end up dead like my aunt.
Modern medicine is a marvel and surgery, radiation and medication have brought me to this point. One year cancer free. To celebrate my husband and I are taking a snowy trek to Myrtle Fall on Mount Rainier. Winter in Washington is glorious when the mountains are filled with snow, and I’m excited about our little expedition.
I look down at my breast. As scars go it’s not bad, it’s smooth and silvery, my badge of honor. He was able to leave the nipple, but about a third of my left breast is missing. I quickly hook my bra and stuff the pad inside. My coat will cover it. No one will see it, but it’s become habit. It’s helps me feel whole, normal, and comfortable. It helps me face the day. I finish dressing and we gather our gear and pile it into the trunk.
In an hour we’re facing the mountain. The air was bracing, refreshingly cold and the sky is icy blue. The glare from the snow is blinding. Everything sparkles and sounds are muffled by the heavy snow. Dressed in snow pants and parkas we gather our gloves and gear ready, to tackle the mountain. We retrieve our trekking poles and ice cleats from the trunk. The ice cleats slip on over our boots to give us traction on ice. Myrtle Falls is a short hike, a mile round trip, the elevation is 5,515 feet and parts of the hike that are a 22 percent grade!

The first part of the hike is uneventful. We plodded along, enjoying the view and taking pictures. It was a snowy paradise. I can’t find the words to describe such beauty. I was grateful for my trekking poles when the trail grew steeper. We met other outdoor enthusiasts along the trail, hikers and sledders and couple of guys snow-shoeing. They had serious back country gear and glided effortlessly past us and disappeared into the trees. At this rate I’d be lucky to make it to the falls, which of course are covered in snow. My breathing became labored, my lungs spasmed at the rush of frigid air that filled them. This was harder than I thought it would be. My thighs and glutes are on fire.
A stabbing, searing pain under my left breast and arm took me by surprise and I cried out,”Aaah!” My husband looked back. His eyes were shielded by sunglasses and his face obscured by the hood of his parka, but I could hear the concern in his voice when he asked me if I was okay. This is my new normal. Nerve damage and scar tissue. The pain flares up when I overwork the muscles. Lots of women suffer from it, but it’s something the doctors don’t tell you. Each time I take a deep breath the pain races through me.
“Easy sweetie, shorter, shallower breaths,” he says trying to soothe me. He rubs my back as tears slide down me cheeks.
“I’m okay, give me a minute,” I answer softly, fighting to regain my composure,
“Are you sure you want to do this?”
“Hell yes I do! Cancer hasn’t won so far it’s not going to now.”
“All right. This is the steepest part, but not for long.”
Carefully, I put one boot in front of the other on the narrow icy trail. My right hip flexor began to hurt, my pace was slowing. What was I thinking? I’m not freakin’ Wonder Woman! I’m just an average woman over 40 who happens to be a breast cancer survivor. But I AM a survivor. I’m grateful for the challenge. I’m overjoyed to be here given the alternative. Cancer runs in the family. My sister’s had it twice and survived, my mother didn’t.
Emboldened with my new sense of purpose I surged forward focusing all of my energy and strength on the task before me. The sound of our boots crunching through the snow filled my ears. The cold wind whipped and whistled around us, enveloping us in a world of icy, wintry beauty. I was revitalized and renewed.
White hot pain shot through me again stealing my breath from me. I fought the urge to cry out. If my husband became aware of my agony he’d want to stop out of concern for me and we were too close. The trail leveled out and tears trickled down my face and we reached our destination. The view as stunning. We stopped to take pictures and rest awhile. Take that cancer! If this the new normal I’ll take it it’s beautiful.