Gratitude List 1810

(1) Mercifully, I got my ride to Winko’s on the 2nd of the month this year (so I wouldn’t keep squandering my monthly grocery money at the nearby A&W.) Cupboards are all stocked up and shelter-positive. Furthermore, I made it all the way through the month last month on one trip to Winko’s.

(2) The Oracle Project appears to be taking form. The pastor at First Pres okayed 20 consecutive Sundays in the room housing the Great Green Piano, last night a Broadway singer-actor with a bio on Wikipedia expressed interest in singing the part of the male protagonist, three of the Kids from the previous workshops have hopped on board, and today we received an unexpected $500 donation.

(3) Thankful for Ashley Peterson. Period.

(4) It looks like my daughter and her boyfriend have landed a nice two bedroom on the Russian River, far away from the high crime district where they currently live in Oakland, California.

(5) Tomorrow is the day when I will be seeing a new doctor, strongly recommended by three members of my church. Hopefully I will have a regular personal physician for lab work, etc., and hopefully he will in some way realize that I have Severe ADHD, that this transcends any other diagnosis, and that we will together find treatment that works.

“Tis a lesson you should heed, try, try again.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, and try again”.
    — Thomas H. Palmer 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1808

(1) Seeing as it is 8 degrees Fahrenheit now, I find things such as meditation and a hot bath very useful in the absence of vigorous outdoor exercise.

(2) Very good singing lesson today.   My student and I both agreed it was very constructive.   I really enjoy the arrangement and only wish I had maybe three or four other students as well.

(3) Spontaneously came up with a fairly decent podcast that seems relevant to basic stuff that’s happening, here there and everywhere.

(4) Christmas was peaceful.  I basically just treated it like any other day, and tried not to think about all the fun other people were having that they probably weren’t having anyway.

(5)  The more I shelter, the more I notice I don’t feel like spending a lot of time online.  There’s something about doing stuff offline that is so much less anxiety-provoking.   Lots of possibilities, anyway, when one has a computer, lives alone, and has ideas.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

‘Cause this is all what I’m cracked up to be

Amid any other consideration, I must say that my eyes have been opened as to the truth about the myth of my old age.

For the second day in a row, I wore my regular comfortable old walking shoes with soles worn out and holes in the tops, and I trudged the surface more comfortably and with less inclination to slip & fall than I ever have in my boots.

I am no longer suffering under the illusion that I’m too done in to further endure the cold weather conditions with the hardiness of my lifelong modus operandi.

I walked all the way to Matt’s place, stopping at Walgreens to pick up my levo, and when the time had come, walked all the way back, hoofing it through intriguing new territory en route.

Brisk four miles of walking, feeling the cold air like a tonic salve on my lungs. Good to be home but even better to have been outdoors!

And to think I thought I was becoming a softie! I’m gonna crack the window.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1807

(1) It felt nice to get out for exercise after being “snowed in” for about a week.  It was especially good to feel the cold fresh air getting into my lungs — a welcome reprieve.

(2) Finally created the “big pitch” to be issued to the regular recipients of my irregular newsletter.  Sent it out right at solstice this morning (that is, 7:59am PST) and quickly got a one hundred dollar donation.  So now it says $300 has been donated by 4 donors when you click on the GoFundMe.  Off to a good start.

(3) Finally got all remaining Hyfrydol CDs into the mail.  Hopefully folks will still get them by Christmas.  Also, I got to talk with my friend Danielle twice today while doing errands, which was nice, her being in Georgia.

(4) A little recording made between me and my singing student confirms that my home Howard piano creates a fine sound for vocal accompaniment.  This was only a “practice take” but we can do a more refined take later.  The whole arrangement really blesses me.  

(5) Trudging in the snow, having to be extra careful even in snow boots, and feeling my fingers get all frozen over and having to thaw out over doppio in a downtown cafe, has made me very grateful for the nice warm abode in which I have been for several years so pleased to dwell.  Be it ever so humble, this is it.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1806

(1) I turned in Part Two of my series The State of Christendom in Contemporary American Culture to Spokane Faith and Values.

(2) On Saturday, I gathered 2 hours and 40 minutes worth of conversation between me and a formerly homeless person named Benjamin Clewell for a future podcast. Though it will probably take me more than two days to edit it down to size (all things considered), I will still probably have a decent podcast by Wednesday based on Christendom Part Two.

(3) Nice to be inside the nice warm house while the snow is falling down outside my window.

(4) Thanks to enhanced income over the past two and a half months, I have paid all my back bills as well as all this month’s current ones, and am stocked up with enough food for more than a month.

(5) Karlie Smith has learned the five new songs I wrote, and also has agreed to sing on the Oracle Production Project, which is my present day baby. Am in the process of contracting other reputable people, including a bassist, guitarist and drummer of some repute. It’s all in the early planning stages – but we can make it work.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1805

(1) The two people with whom I’ve had the closest contact since summer have both tested positive for Covid-19, two days apart. Thankfully, each of them is young, they both work out, and neither of them has pre-existing physical health conditions. Also, I’m relatively low risk because it had been a while since I’d seen them. Still, this was a wake-up, causing me to realize how much time I’ve been spending in high-stress environments full of Covid Confusion. I’d forgotten how much sheltering in place agrees with me. Now I remember, and I’m glad.

(2) The pastor of the new church gave me a downstairs office where I can prepare for the service in quietude. I’ll let her know on Saturday (when I get my Covid test results) if I’ll be able to use it this Sunday. Grateful for her caring, and for the knowledge that she’ll keep me on payroll even if I test positive and can’t show up for a while.

(3) Finished the 4th draft of Part Two of my critique of contemporary American Christianity. Submitted it to Dr Kurt Q for proofing and will submit it to Spokane Faith and Values thereafter.

(4) The bio and synopsis pages on this website have been considerably corrected! An old friend wrote the bio, and someone named Anonymous wrote a very eloquent A-Z synopsis, revealing the complete story line of Eden in Babylon. Web site now includes all materials needed for anyone to produce the show, shy of guitar chords.

(5) Thankful for the good friends I have made in this life, and for the ever-increasing friendship I’ve been forming with my 36 year old daughter. Life can be sweet, and even its trials can be used to enhance the depths of joy that lay dormant within our spirits.

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
— Albert Einstein

Gratitude List 1804

(1) After an unusually stressful day yesterday, I came home and decided to shelter in place till Thursday. It seems a nice time to read & reflect, maybe write a little, listen to music, play the piano — and only go out for exercise. It’s interesting that it feels like I’m “on vacation” in my own place of residence! Grateful for the solitude; grateful for the leisure.

(2) On a similar note, I’m grateful for Zoom meetings.   I only have two Zoom commitments in the next three days, but neither of these people could care less if I showed up in my bathrobe.  Grateful not to have to go through a totally stressful process in order to arrive somewhere on time.  I really don’t miss searching for my keys, my wallet, my glasses, my mask, my iPhone, and whatever else I need, putting down one thing unconsciously somewhere while picking up the other, and worrying all the time that I’m going to be twenty minutes late because of it.   With Zoom, a cup of coffee, and a couple clicks of a mouse, we’re rollin.’

(3) Grateful for running and for the role it has played throughout my life.   Did two miles yesterday charging up the hill and feeling quite chipper.

(4) Although I lost the beanie I have worn every day for nearly four years now, and although it is nowhere to be found, and although it felt really strange to go through two church services and a Choir rehearsal in my fedora, I am very grateful to have run into a certain Math professor who, feeling my plight, responded by gifting me with his beanie.   Grateful for this wonderful little college town and all the nice people whom I have met here.

(5) Speaking of loss, I may have overreacted recently in interpreting a certain person’s professional declining to complete a project “at this time” as a “loss.”  Something in the wording sounded like they never wanted to see me again.   Later, I found that I was reading too much into their words — due to my own abandonment issues.   Anything is possible.   Though this particular project has been suspended, there may be a project in the foreseeable future wherein they & I just happen to come together again.   And that may be sooner than we think.

It is nice to be valued.   But it’s even nicer to value someone.   I’m very grateful for the beautiful artistic experience that this very impressive person has brought to my life.

“It’s only after we’ve lost everything that we’re free to do anything.”
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club.”

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1803

(1) This is the year that my best friend and I reconciled after not talking with each other for eight years.

(2) This is the year when I finally realized that the Latah Recovery Center is a very positive place for me to be.

(3) As of the beginning of this month, I have paid my rent on time for four years, in an ideal one bedroom apartment in an out-of-the-way location. For the first time in many years — 22 to be exact — I have had my own place and my own space.

(4) Last year and this year, I have had the opportunity to use skills that I have missed using, and I have been surrounded by a group of young people who admire me for those skills — and more. A church also let me use their rehearsal space and piano free of charge for this project, and continue to allow me to play an outstanding Baldwin GP-190 concert grand most every Friday to make my YouTubes.

(5) This year I got a job playing piano at a small church. Not only that, but my local reputation was good enough that they hired me over the phone without asking for references. I’m about to fulfill my 9th week there and get my second month paycheck.

(6) Thanks to a guy named Cody, I have seen two live musicals and now an amazing musical movie — Les Miserables — in the past month.

(7) This is the year when enough people believed in a certain project of mine that they collectively donated $1500 in an 11 day period in order to help me finance a summer workshop.

(8) I have a wonderful 36 year old daughter with whom I am forming a meaningful lifelong friendship.

(9) For 14 years now, I have had an intelligent, compassionate Christian friend named Danielle, and I don’t know where I would be without her.

(10) Somebody gave me a great coffeemaker when I needed one. With it I have made the current cup of coffee with which I am revving up to do the four mile run I have done every Thursday since 1976 except for the three years when I was fat and a handful of other scattered odd years. And God gave me perfect running weather on this day. Makes me wonder who much I can possibly give Him in return. Happy Thanksgiving.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1802

(1) Z’s singing lesson went well again & we also had a great conversation. I felt this rush of gratitude as soon as I started playing my standard vocal warm-ups. This is especially heartwarming considering that five or six years ago, I was fairly convinced I would never be able to use those skills again.

(2) Heard from Keva whose show has closed now so we can get back to the album. For those of you have already bought it, we may be doing touch-ups on a couple of the earlier five tunes, as we gradually put the next five together. Grateful for Keva’s professionalism.

(3) Thankful for my gig at the nursing home, where I met a really interesting pastor / long distance runner who just agreed to have lunch with me next week.

(4) Check it out: Over 4500 views on “An Affair to Remember.” I even got a couple of downvotes! I must be moving up in the world. :)

(5) Shivering last night, I grabbed a second blanket and suddenly felt the same gratitude I used to feel when I needed another blanket when I was shivering outdoors. I always said “Thank you Lord” as soon as the second blanket made the shivers stop — and I said those words last night as well. Nothing like feeling God’s got you covered! (Let that sink in.)

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1801

(1) We’ve been getting a lot of good rain lately.

(2) Definitely been living a bit more comfortably this month, having the additional income from the church.

(3) Though Kurt and I only had a half hour to meet yesterday on Zoom, it was a strong meeting, and I felt enthused afterwards.  Mostly talked about the introduction and first chapter of Ashley Peterson’s new book, A Brief History of Stigma.  (He hadn’t read it, but I had.)  I related mainly how stigma is employed by dominant class groups and also how it is produced through the social construction of reality.  I’d thought such things before but had not seen them presented in such a scholarly way until now.  Kurt was able to enlighten me somewhat as to why that might be.

(4) I’ve been decidedly spending much more time outdoors than usual–despite changes in the weather (or in a way, because of them.)  If it’s not raining, I better just get out there and experience it.  It’s a great antidote to the gnawing sense of stagnation that often strikes after spending too much time in the house alone.

(5) Cody & I got tickets for this Thursday night to go see Keva in Rent at Eastern Washington University.  This will be a nice change-of-pace, involving a trip out of town (out of State, technically) – and a nice reconnection–not to mention she’s going to be great on those Idina Menzel tunes.  It will be great to see her.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1800

(1) I created a new piano album called Hyfrydol (after the Welsh hymn that is included on the album).  My friend Kathy designed the cover, and sales of CDs have been going very well locally.

(2) Received a first paycheck for a month of work at the new church, and my student paid me in cash for two months of lessons last Saturday.  So I’m enjoying a distinctly increased income this month (though at the same time, I’m trying to forget about it, so I don’t fall into the trap of thinking I’m “rich.”)

(3) I finished four of the five new songs for Keva and have sent them to her, piano practice takes — lyric sheets, lead sheets, etc.  Don’t expect to hear from her very soon (as her show is opening on November 17th), but I also have been enjoying getting the tunes out to various instrumentalists and back-up-singer types who may be interested.

(4) Found a complete Hal Leonard “Essential Songs of Broadway” book with piano-vocal arrangements of over 85 classic show tunes.  This will be good to keep around in general, and to work with Zazen in particular.

(5) Good meeting with Kurt yesterday, though I sent him a misleading email capsulizing my new theory, and was not able to complete some essential thoughts during the course of being questioned about it.   This is inspiring an exhaustive email that may later morph into a blog post, column, or bigger.  I do enjoy writing on certain themes, and I am thankful for the leisure I’ve been granted to exercise these gifts.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1799

(1) It’s nice to have a roof over my head and be able to listen to the rain outside my open window. It’s been a welcome switch, as of the past five years, from being rained on more routinely, and settling for that mode of existence — as though nothing good could possibly have followed it.

(2) An unsettling period of cognitive dissonance is finding resolution.   Specifically, I need believe neither of what the two similar-but-not-identical groups of people seem to believe about me.  Rather, my belief about myself may stem from a source entirely removed from the groupthink of either group.   This more truthful, unified belief may inform my actions with both groups, and with any group, and with all individuals, for that matter.   I need let neither group define me.  

(3) The lady who works graveyard shift at the nearby 24-hour convenience store has subscribed to my SoundCloud channel and listened to all my podcasts.   

(4) The more I scan the panorama of various conflicting news sources, and the more I read the columns of those purporting to assent or object to the columns of various other columnists, the more I find that I want nothing further to do with journalism in the least, and the more I am content to resume my various unfinished artistic projects.  In particular, I find I truly enjoy writing meaningful lyrics to strains of wordless music that keep pleasantly playing in my head.

(5) I really have everything I always dreamed of having, all those years when I was homeless.   The task appears to be to utilize it according to the fulfilment of those dreams — not according to some past, failed social edict that, after all, had the power to kick me out onto the streets to begin with.   It’s great to have been blessed with this great gift, and to be able to see by comparison, by hindsight, how great a gift it truly is.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1798

(1) Ran five miles yesterday. First five miler in the past 35 days since I’ve been decidedly getting into shape. Also, first five miler at 2500ft altitude. I’m eager to get back down to sea level and run a 10-K.

(2) I’ve selected all five songs in order to complete the Keva album. It’s been a rush to find myself writing musical theatre lyrics again. I’ve written lyrics to two of the tunes I wrote down in Berkeley, and I’m happy with the lyrics. I’ve also resurrected a song called “The Joke,” and I’ve scored all three songs for female voice on Finale. Three songs completely scored, two to go.

(3) Also I’ve been coaching Zazen in singing for musical theatre. Cody let me borrow his Andrew Lloyd Webber anthology, also selections from Les Miserables. She’s working on “On My Own” and “Memory” now; also, my song “I Know Who You Are” that I wrote back in Berkeley, whose lyrics I just wrote last week.

(4) Tonight both of my theology groups are having a joint meeting at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. Theology Afield hasn’t met for 18 months now, and we’re combining with Theology on Tap (a Lutheran group), for the duration now, meeting monthly at the church. Tonight’s material has to do with the Afghan refugees and the biblical stance concerning caring for refugees from other lands. I’m also really eager to see everybody again — it should be great!

(5) In general, I am really enjoying not being as stressed out as I often was throughout the time when we were workshopping Eden in Babylon. It’s been nice to do my running and do my Art – and do the things that I enjoy – free of time pressure and other stressors. It’s what retirement is all about, and I’m grateful.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” — Marie Curie

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1797

(1) The A&W opened up again after being closed several weeks due to understaff. So I was able to have one of their nice fish sandwiches. Then at the Recovery Center there was apple pie and a banana. So I got to start off with three healthy things in a row.

(2) I’ve run four miles four times in the past 32 days since I’ve been at it again, in addition to many shorter runs, bicycle rides, and brisk walks. Very thankful for vigorous exercise, and for the beautiful days we’ve had lately to motivate it.

(3) Played my third service at the new church yesterday, Did a Shaker tune, “‘Tis a gift to be simple” for a prelude, having heard mention of it during Sunday School. Also enjoyed the adult Sunday School, which they call “Faith Explorations.” Then they decided to start the Choir up again, and asked me to sing bass. The church makes me feel warm inside.

(4) Had a nice Zoom conversation with my lifelong best friend on Saturday. It’s great to have reconciled, and our friendship is stronger than it ever was before.

(5) Had a great conversation with one of the Kids who has struggled with an issue I myself have struggled with. She and her sister and sister’s best friend may join me in forming a support group to address this issue. Also very grateful for the Kids, as always. Life has its challenges, but there is joy and promise — where they can be found — if we seek them.

“The sun never stops shining. Sometimes, clouds just get in the way.”
— Anonymous

Gratitude List 1796

(1) Sleeping much better lately, including an eight hour bout last night. This may be due to my exercise program. The four mile run on Wednesday was particularly exhilarating, and three mile brisk walks before bedtime have helped as well.

(2) I have 153 subscribers on my YouTube Channel now. (Last I checked it was just over 100.) This is motivating me to practice more regularly on the grand piano at the church, and also invest in some new duds. (Getting more plays on my SoundCloud too).

(3) Had a great experience playing at a nursing home yesterday afternoon (an ongoing volunteer gig that Cody landed for me). Exchanged numbers with the pastor, who had just ran a half-marathon and whose Christian leanings are akin to my own. Also got the number of the lady who runs the program, a widow whose husband was involved in Theatre Arts at WSU, and who herself is a musical theatre choreographer. Turns out she shares my philosophy.

(4) Keva & I are both jazzed about doubling the size of the current BandCamp album. I’ve been writing lyrics to some of the music I wrote in Berkeley, and this one tune is coming out quite nicely. It’s jazzy and suits her voice. Haven’t done this kind of lyric-writing in a while. It’s been a rush to get back in the groove.

(5) I often get a little tear in my eye when I think about the Kids. They could have just gone their way after the workshop and had nothing further to do with me. But they didn’t. And now that we’re not under any particular pressure, I find all the relationships to be much more rewarding. God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1795

(1) I found double-sided tape at the dollar store which makes it really easy to post all these positive reminders on the wall facing my desk. The positive reminders say things like:

— In your anger, do not sin
— Don’t be overcome by evil, but overome evil with good.
— Run Read Rest Recover
— Create Beautiful Things
— Don’t Postpone Positive

These reminders are incredibly helpful, whilst I work.

(2) Yesterday I really freaked out when I thought I had washed a pair of pants with my wallet in them and that both pants & wallet had been stolen from the laundry room. When I finally stopped freaking out and decided to go into town anyway, I casually reached for a pair of socks in the top dresser drawer and discovered that I had unconsciously neatly folded the pair of pants (with washed wallet as well), and placed them beneath all the socks and underwear. Needless to say, I was really grateful. (All the cards still work, too.)

(3) I went downtown to pay my rent yesterday and learned a great lesson while I lingered. The downtown situation increases my anxiety so hugely it’s best to avoid it as much as possible. I again found myself taking my mask on and off neurotically depending on whom I thought was judging me which way. As I rode away from downtown and hit the trail on my bicycle, the glaringly bright sky immediately turned to a mellow pastel, and my spirit was soothed in a way reminiscent of San Francisco.

(4) Another great lesson was learned last night as I found myself stressing over the podcast soon to be released, again running counter to the ideal of maintaining a quiet life in my retirement. Abandoning the anxiety, I took a brisk three mile walk between nine and ten at night. On my return, my spirit was at peace — and I more-or-less magically knew how to make the podcast better!

(5) The first podcast involving staff members of the Latah Recovery Center discussing the barriers faced by homeless people will be posted at high noon today. Don’t miss it! I have never encountered anything like it, in all my day.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1794

(1) This coffee tastes really good this morning.  I invest in Seattle’s Best Portside Blend, and try to make it just right.  A decent cup of coffee really gets the day started on the right foot.

(2) Slept seven hours solid last night, the most sleep I’ve achieved in a single shot for a while.  A good night’s sleep has a way of making me feel “normal.”

(3) Started my new church job officially yesterday.   Played my first service at the United Church.  It went seamlessly.  Also I really enjoyed Jodie’s sermon.  Tuning into her, I realized she has a great gift.  That’s always been the best part of a church piano job — the part where I get to leave the piano bench, take a seat in the pews, and listen to the pastor’s sermon.  I also am happy to find that, after all these years, my sight-reading skills are still intact.  Moreover, the congregation truly appreciated me.

(4) Interestingly, Ian from our circle also started his new job yesterday — as the pianist at First Presbyterian Church.  I am happy to have been able to help First Pres find a piano player, and very happy to have been instrumental (no pun intended) in helping Ian land his first job.

(5) On Friday, I participated in a Zoom meeting involving two staff members from the recovery center, a Center employee who is currently homeless, and myself, as we addressed the concerns of two students from the State College who were curious why health care is so challenging for homeless people to attain.   It evolved into a much broader discussion on the theme of homeless rights.  I excitedly found the time to edit it for this Wednesday’s podcast, adding introductory music at the beginning and inspirational music at the end.   Best of all, I left the meeting with a renewed sense of hope.  And I enter the new week with focus. 

Great effort is required to arrest decay and restore vigor. One must exercise proper deliberation, plan carefully before making a move, and be alert in guarding against relapse following a renaissance.
— Horace

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1793

(1) For the first time, I received a substantial donation to Eden in Babylon from a name I did not recognize. Maybe that’s a sign that things are looking up.

(2) This is the most consistent I’ve been with running since I moved to Idaho. I did 2 1/2 miles last night, 2 1/2 miles two nights before that, and 4 miles the previous morning. I’m sure I’ve lost significant weight, though have not yet been to a scale.

(3) Got another column published. I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to express my thoughts as to how some aspects of Christendom in contemporary American culture are extremely off-base.

(4) Am officially signing a W-4 and beginning my new job at the United Church next Sunday. Yesterday was Cody’s last day. I provided special music, and we had a ceremony afterwards in which Cody’s five years as their pianist was honored. The anxious fire that incessantly burns within me was once again soothed by the spirit of love and peace that prevails over this most accepting church.

(5) Zazen committed to a month’s worth of vocal coaching and I have my first official private music student since moving to Idaho. It’s wonderful how many new possibilities have opened up in my retirement, to permit me to do the work that I most love.

Hard work is painful when life is devoid of purpose. But when you live for something greater than yourself and the gratification of your own ego, then hard work becomes a labor of love.
— Steve Pavlina

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1792

(1) Had a nice talk yesterday with my dear friend Holly in California.   Hadn’t touched base for several months, and it was good to hear from her.   Nice to have friends.

(2) Though I am still as spaced out as ever, and though my spacey nature continues to inconvenience me, I have noticed that I am much more content with being a total space case now that I no longer have a bunch of hard deadlines to meet.  It’s a lot easier to accept the fact that it’s taking over an hour to find your smartphone when you don’t really need it.

(3) Though the morning started off with a strange blast of forgetting to put the filter in the coffee maker and ultimately getting coffee grounds all over the kitchen, the good news is that it gave me the final burst of motivation I needed to attack the dirty dishes in the sink.   (Coffee tastes pretty good, too.)

(4) There’s a 50/50 chance on a paid composer gig for a new musical.   The other guy being considered is a pretty huge Broadway guy, so I might not get it.   But that guy might also not be interested in the material. He’s looking over the script right now, and if he declines, I’ll get the gig.   I got jazzed talking with the playwright about it — and “jazzed” is usually a good sign, when it comes to this sort of endeavor.

(5) Ran unusually fast yesterday.  Joined the Palouse Running Club.   I want to be as earnest about it as I was when I was President of the North Bay Chapter of the Christian Runners Association back in the 80’s – just older, wiser and stronger — God willing.  His blessings abound.  The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear?   The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?  I will offer Him sacrifices with shouts of joy.  I will sing and make melody to the LORD.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1791

(1) Beautiful weather following a much-needed rain.   Bright, crisp & fresh.   This will be a nice day for a long bike ride and maybe a jog down the Latah Trail.

(2) Caught up on my sleep, this doppio tastes great at the One World Cafe, with cinnamon roll.

(3) Decided on what five songs from Eden in Babylon to use for the demo and have posted them here for free, and in a more elaborate and costly form on BandCamp. With script & score essentially intact, I feel that our ongoing workshop has been a success.  Grateful to be feeling greatly relieved of a huge perceived burden attached to preparing this musical for production.

(4) It looks like I do have the job and have actually officially been hired.  Pastor Jodie hired me to be the pianist for the United Church, replacing Cody who is departing on October 1st.   I provided special music this Sunday — an improvisation around the main theme from Finlandia by Sibelius, seemingly suggested by the profound yet gentle spirit in the pews that morning, and very well-received.

(5) Crafting a new stage in life of spending about twice as much time outdoors, exercising about twice as much as before, and spending about half as much time behind the computer screen (or playing with the new-fangled smartphone device) — so far so good.    It’s not so much how much I am able to accomplish, but the quality of life in the process.   Thankful for freedom, rightly applied.

“If everyone is thinking alike, then no one is thinking.”
—  Benjamin Franklin

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1790

(1) Running is actually going well this time, and I don’t sense I’m going to slip into another slump. I’m actually keeping it up, still losing weight, and becoming more efficient and effective in my day to day life.

(2) I’m nowhere near as gluttonous as I was about a year ago.. Though I haven’t been to a scale, the reason I know is because the prices if I buy a meal at the Co-Op — which are determined by weight — keep getting lower and lower. What used to look like a decent full meal would sometimes cost me $12. Now it’s more like $6 or even $4, though my perception of what constitutes a “full meal” has not changed. Therefore, I am eating smaller and smaller portions of all meals I eat, and I cannot help but lose the unneeded weight.

(3) Tracy published a column of mine in her “Understanding Prayer” series. She chose the image, headline and sub headers, all other words are my own. I think both of us did a fairly decent job. Also, my friend Danielle has been contracted to write for the site as well. I’m about halfway through the first draft of a new column about which I am excited, and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to write for this site.

(4) The summer workshop is officially complete, and I count it a success. Web site is being redesigned to place greater focus on the submission of this musical, and the demo is already up and live.

(5) A departing pianist at a church position has recommended me to replace him. It’s not a 100% shoo-in, but it looks good. Just the fact that my name would even be brought up in such a context is a far cry from my previous life on the streets of Berkeley California. I have a lot to be grateful for today, if I really stop and take a look at it.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation. The former things have passed away; all things are are becoming new.” – 2 Corinthians 5:17

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1573

(1) New backpack finally arrived today after an unusually long delay.   I can now look forward to riding my bicycle with laptop safely secured in backpack, and alighting upon some of the local cafes.  There, I have found some very pleasant situations, conducive both to work and mild social interaction. Sure beats pacing the floor at home all day, occasionally striking a key or dragging a mouse (in between making sandwiches, taking naps, and that sort of thing.)  Atmosphere is important — and a backpack paves the way to get me there.

(2) Have been steadily losing weight — I can tell — though I’ve not yet been to the scale to see if I’ve dropped below 200 yet.  Just now finished a night run of 2 miles, and I clearly felt lighter than the last time I ran (ten days ago).

(3) Beautiful weather here today – sunny, breezy, not too hot, clear air.   Out and about for a good portion of the day, I noticed that people I encountered were in good moods, smiling.

(4) Meetings with Kurt and Ian went well today.   Interesting about Kurt, that he’s not just an intellect, he’s an intellect with an agenda.  His agenda doesn’t differ widely from my own, however, which tends to give our discussions a sense of mutual purpose.   I’m learning a lot from that particular intellect.

(5) Despite my sometime complaint, I really am very grateful for my apartment.   It’s the first time in years I’ve been able to sustain a decent living situation for as long as I have.   It’s definitely not to be taken for granted, nor should it be easily forsaken.  Though I think about moving a lot, I feel that the changes I would best make at this point are internal.   When I improve what’s inside me, what’s outside has a way of taking care of itself.   Things always look brighter through a polished lens.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1571

(1) Although I lost my wallet yesterday, I was impressed that when I went to cancel my debit card at the bank, they were able to issue a new one right on the spot. So I’ve already replaced one of the cards. I’m also appreciative of its being a small town, in this case. At least they know me at the bank and I didn’t have to go through a big to-do in order to verify my identity.

(2) Exercise has been going well except for that all the bicycling has my legs very heavy, thus making it harder to run. I did get up to four miles last Friday but have not run since. However, I’m grateful for the inherent message; to wit, I better start stretching. Just stretched my quads and already my legs feel more limber. Thank God for walking, bicycling, running & push-ups. I find it to be a great balance, though I have to go easy on the cycling (since it’s the laziest — it’s a little too easy to replace walking or running with it, on the spot, on the fly.)

(3) We recorded Urban Elegy at the church on Sunday and then proceeded to a cast party at an ice cream place. The Elegy is actually the 6th song in a supposedly 5-song demo soon to be posted, and the only one not done with studio equipment and engineering. Haven’t heard back from the Kids about it, but I’m working behind-on-scenes on a way to get a real studio version rendered (just in case they want to do it over again, for some reason). Anyway, I’m grateful for these Kids – for their devotion, and for the fun we had afterwards at the party.

(4) Managed to complete a column for the Understanding Prayer series on the religion-related news site I write for. Had me working on into Saturday — but I did take a chill day yesterday, for which I am grateful.

(5) I seem to be in pretty good spirits today, all things considered. I noticed as I rode my bike out for errands that it’s an unusually gorgeous day. I’m taking today to slowly redesign the web site in order mostly to promote my musical. Grateful for new high speed Spectrum Internet at the same monthly cost as the old DSL that wasn’t working too well; and grateful for a good coffee maker and good coffee. Life is good.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”   —  Thomas Edison

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1570

(1)  Having lost weight steadily during the period when I wasn’t running, it was a lot easier to run the three mile course than it was before.   Ran it, did 21 push-ups, and ran again this morning.   I feel good physically, but the main reason I’m grateful is that I’m still at it — after all these years.

(2) Had a good meeting with Kurt this afternoon.  I’m grateful for Kurt because he’s such a fountain of intellectual theological information, as well as a great guy.   Also had an interesting email exchange with Ashley Peterson over the weekend, concerning the so-called problem of evil.  I’m glad to be engaged in such discussions. It’s something I’ve not known at other times in my life.

(3) My version of An Affair to Remember now has over 2.5K views on YouTube.

(4) Very nice conversations with my daughter these days.   Grateful she is in my life.

(5) Well, I lost the entire week last week to things it would pain me to belabor. This week’s starting off all right, though not without challenges.  There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and there will be a new season — a new stage of experience.  It’s in the works — and I have faith.

“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”  — John 12:24

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1569

(1) Just when I’d thought I’d run out of tooth paste and could not possibly squeeze any more out of the tube, I noticed a small courtesy pack of Colgate sitting inconspicuously on the counter of my sink.

(2) Although I haven’t been running much–and in fact have missed 13 consecutive days–the good news is that I’m still losing weight. This is partly because I’m still riding my bicycle a lot, and partly because I’m not eating nearly as much as I was there for a while.

(3) Grateful that the heat wave has died down, prompting me in part to issue this bit of a brief spoken statement when struggling to express a related thought. Grateful for pleasant weather and good vibes in general.

(4) Being as I’m currently engaged in the first-time process of syncing a written piano score to a previously played piano part — exact tempos and everything — I have found my ADHD to be challenged at new and unexpected levels. The good news is that I finally figured out a process that accommodates rather than aggravates the ADHD. Let me explain.

Suppose the process consists of 225 steps, each step containing 8 “sub-steps.” Don’t ask me how I did it, but I figured out a way for the 8th sub-step of each step to be identical to the 1st sub-step of the following step. This has the pleasant benefit of sidestepping the Deficit that would logically take place between the final sub-step of the previous step and the initial sub-step of the present step. As a result, a fragmented process has been transformed into a continuous process, wherein my ADHD is beneficial, not detrimental. I’m very grateful for this discovery — (and if anyone understood any of that, I’ll be even more grateful.)

(5) I seem to be coming out of a funk that seems directly related to the amount of time I have been spending alone in my apartment. I may not be actually getting more accomplished today, here at the local coffee house, than I’d have accomplished in the same period of time at home. But I somehow feel better about what I have accomplished. I am grateful for the ongoing sense that I am a functional part of a struggling humanity — and not just an outsider who does not belong.

“Although I am a typical loner in my daily life, my awareness of belonging to the invisible community of those who strive for truth, beauty, and justice has prevented me from feelings of isolation.” — Albert Einstein

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1568

(1) Both sessions recording “Awake the Dawn” with full chorus went well on Tuesday and Wednesday nights respectively, though Wednesday’s was by far the most productive.   There was a positive spirit about the whole team, and the performance on the part of the Kids was outstanding.

(2) I’ve been engrossed in the first-in-a-lifetime task of creating a midi-convertible piano score based on exactly how I happened to play a certain piece (“Awake the Dawn”) on a certain night.   This is something needed by Dave, the new sound designer, and which I agreed to get done for him by Friday.  What’s nice is that, not only have I made substantial progress, but much of the experience of originally composing this piece years ago — of recreating the early pre-dawn moments, with the high female harmonies likened to the chirping of the night birds — is being rekindled.  So it’s a creative experience, as well as technically challenging.   This makes it much easier to stay grateful.

(3) PTSD therapy went well again this morning, though it continues to be very challenging.  I like the therapist.  She’s very dedicated, but also very light of heart, and easy to engage.

(4) Keva finished her job at the day school on Friday and has also decided to stay in the area and enroll at a nearby University.  I asked her about exploring the work-in-progress-album further and she responded excitedly that she is very eager to pursue this.   I’ve also thought of another older song of mine, “Time Will Tell,” to add to the four clips on the playlist, and also of a newer song I wrote in Berkeley that can be transformed for Keva’s voice.   This is a very meaningful musical connection — and it appears to be ongoing.

(5) Had a really nice time playing at a memorial service at the United Church on Saturday.  I was also paid in cash by the family (and paid well) but aside from that, it was a heartwarming occasion commemorating the life of one of the older theologians in town, a retired Disciples of Christ pastor with a Doctor in Divinity.  I stayed for fellowship afterwards, and once again sensed the feeling of everybody knowing me as “Andy,” though whoever they are, I have no idea.   Life in a small town can be warm.

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning on each other, become a strength.”  — Leonardo da Vinci

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1567

(1) It’s nice for there to be a café here in town where they say, “Hi Andy!” when I come in, and “Bye Andy!” when I leave.  It makes me feel welcome (quite the opposite of my experience in the San Francisco Bay Area, where they’ve had been more likely to suspect me of stealing something, and at the same time, didn’t really care what my name was, because they’d figure I’d be giving them an alias anyway.)

(2) Did a really fast 2 1/2 mile run yesterday morning because I was mad at the time.  Passed my doctor twice on the path.  (He looked encouraging the first time and concerned the second.)

(3) As I rode into town this morning through campus, it dawned on me just how bike-friendly this town is, compared to just about any other town where I’ve ever lived.

(4) The new sound designer and I agreed on a certain figure for his services, and I was able to procure the full fee as of yesterday.

(5) Filled in for Cody at the United Church yesterday.   Aside from being a paid gig, it was a warm experience.  Most of the small congregation consisted of older couples, and we enjoyed each other’s sense of humor.   The ‘Joys and Concerns” period was particularly moving.  Also, it was the first time since 2017 that I’ve played an entire church service somewhere (thereby confirrming for me that I still know how to sight-read hymns out of hymnals lol).   Very fine occasion, and I’m thankful for my home community.   

“When ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even the illness becomes wellness.”
       —Malcolm X

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1566

(1) My weekly meeting with Kurt took place yesterday “on the real” for the first time since our mutual vaccinations.  Nice to have the air-conditioned Co-Op where we convened, and nice not to have to concern ourselves with missed connections and outages.

(2) Looks as though the workshop will come to a satisfying conclusion at some point during the next two weeks, which is all the time we have with the new sound person.  Communication has been good, and I’m actually pretty pleased with what’s happening, slow but sure.

(3) Tracy published a piece of mine and expressed gratitude that I was able to turn something in anyway, despite having announced I’d be wrapped up throughout the summer.  I’m thankful for the person who gave me the idea in the first place, by asking “Did Jesus ever doubt?”   Also thankful for the many subsequent pertinent thoughts that have crossed my mind post-publication.  I like it when I get the sense that a certain theme can be expanded.

(4) I have the third session of Cognitive Processing Therapy in about a half hour.  Interesting the similarities between street life and combat, in terms of some of the kinds of trauma reactions.   I like Cathy the therapist and am glad this issue is being addressed.

(5) I want to add that I’m grateful these days for the enhanced time spent outdoors.  It’s great to get out on my bicycle and go riding along the nice shaded pathways, through campus and around the outskirts of town.  Nice to have freedom and fresh air, in life.

Doubt is a question mark; faith is an exclamation point. The most compelling, believable, realistic stories have included them both.
      — Criss Jami

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1565

(1) Exercise is going well, especially now that I got my bicycle fixed. I can always do long rides on the days I don’t run. Even in the heat, they’re not burdensome, because the air creates a breeze as I ride. I’m also getting “addicted” to my 2 1/2 mile running course, and I’ve twice run it two days in a row now.

(2) I got a gig writing out piano parts for the songs of an old friend. He happened to call from Arizona, right on the evening when I realized the workshop would have to be truncated.

(3) Had the second day of cognitive processing therapy for PTSD. Although the course seems to have been designed with veterans of combat in mind, I can see a lot of parallels between street life and a life of active combat. The triggers are often very similar, and I believe this will be helpful.

(4) Been very absorbed the past few days getting tracks ready for Dave, the new sound designer. It’s been an interesting process which I’m for the most part enjoying. Looking forward to our session tomorrow night.

(5) No matter what happens with the workshop, I’m glad Keva is going to stick around the area and that she and will remain in touch. Great to have someone with so much potential, learning how to sing my songs.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1564

(1) Nice 2 1/2 mile run on that pleasant shady trail called Paradise Path.   Didn’t time it (heaven forbid!) but I clearly ran faster than usual.   It is an intriguing source of great gratitude that an O.G. like me can even still be running, after all the toll life has taken on me.

(2) Sure feels nice to be in the air-conditioned Co-Op on a day when many businesses are closed because it’s too hot for the workers in their buildings without air conditioning.   Nice that the Co-Op has reopened completely, and nice to be enjoying a salad of my choice for the first time in over a year.

(3) The fifth draft of the Vocal Score and Draft 5-T of the EIB Script are complete and have been uploaded on the Box links now indicated.   I am pretty sure I’m done, except for I need to insert a Table of Contents in the vocal score, which attempted task grossly challenged my aging nerves.

(4) Great conversations with my sponsor Matt lately, who is interested in my tutoring him in Music Theory.

(5) I can’t explain it, but I feel a bit freer than usual.  Something about the Kids, something about the workshop.   All’s well that ends well, I suppose.  Nothing like quitting when you’re ahead.   A folded hand is better than a hand spinning out of control.  At least I was able to finally love.  Only a small, select group of people received it, but I finally knew that what I experienced — for one — was Love.

“Better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.”
— Alfred Lord Tennyson

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1563

(1) Trying to get in shape is actually working this time. I’m not bailing out on my morning runs, I’m doing healthy nice long walks, and I’m up to 18 miles on my bike rides. Up to 20+ push-ups in two sets and losing the pot belly.

(2) Found an editor for my book deal who will work closely both with me and the publisher. Very excited to finally be publishing an anthology of all my writings so far on the subject of homelessness.

(3) One thing I can appreciate about the current heat wave is that it’s decreasing my rather huge appetite, so I’m probably eating half as much as usual. I’m also drinking at least five times as much water. So I feel like the heat wave is helping to flush out my system.

(4) As of our fifth rehearsal for the summer musical workshop, many problems were solved. It’s the first time that I think we all felt that we will actually meet our goal – and then some. The three part female harmonies are become slicker and more “angelic” in places. Most of all, I heard my lengthy four-movement piece “Awake the Dawn” performed from start to finish for the first time since having composed it in 2012. It brought a tear to my eye, because I never thought I would live to see the day.

(5) I provided guest music for a church service yesterday. During the service I felt the Lord’s peace, and He convinced me that I am forgiven. This meant more to me than even having to forgive myself – which in my case is much more difficult. I truly believe that this is not only a new day, but a new season. His blessings are new every morning. Great is His faithfulness.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1562

(1) The more I think about it, the more I realize what a positive atmosphere we have here in our community at the Latah Recovery Center.   It seems that anyone coming from anywhere can expect to find support there as well as the opportunity to be supportive of others, no matter their personal struggles or journeys.   I know of no other place like it.

(2) On Thursday I attended an outdoor gathering, a discussion on critical race theory.  People seemed content to gather in a professor’s back yard, and there was wine and such.  Some very informed people made some very intelligent comments.  I mostly listened, as it was very informative.  Grateful to have been included among these interesting, academically inclined sorts of people.

(3) I must admit it’s nice to have my own place, where I can get up before sunrise, make my coffee, read interesting articles, hear the birds chirping outside my window, and watch the sun come up.  It’s nice to have my own desk and quietude in the mornings.

(4) All rehearsals have gone well, though as of the fourth such rehearsal some issues have clearly arisen. Mostly however this informs me what work I need to do on my own part.  The Kids for the most part are great.

(5) I resisted a big urge to go back to bed and waste the goodness of the good morning.   Instead I found myself having a breakfast bite at the nearby A&W — where also the coffee is good!  Today’s a good day to take things one step at a time.   It’s a beautiful new morning.

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”
– Marcus Aurelius

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1561

(1) Ran 4 miles on Thursday, did 21 push-ups that night (in two sets) and rode 18 miles on the bike out to WSU and back yesterday. I noticed a visible decrease in size on my Aloha video. Lately I’ve been succeeding both in exercising more and in eating less. The latter is very important, as one endeavors to become lighter in every way.

(2) The first two rehearsals of the summer musical workshop went very well. The second one was especially encouraging, involving all the men and Keva. The increase in advance preparation is benefitting us all, and I find that finally I am “in my element” as a vocal director for a musical play.

(3) I very much enjoyed the second regular meeting with Dr. Gier on Wednesday. He’s intelligent, perceptive, and supportive. I like his columns too, as the Palouse Pundit. He’ll also be attending a Thursday evening theology group along with myself and Kurt Q as well, on the subject of critical race theory. I’m honored to be asked to attend these events, where I always learn a great deal.

(4) Music I composed “in my head” in Berkeley is beginning to resurface, and often affix itself to more recently conceived themes. There may be a renaissance of such themes on my new piano videos – beginning with the Aloha to be honest — and proceeding to emerging themes that bear enhanced investigation. I also find myself exercising more creative writing skills, a welcome release from journalism.

(5) It’s 85F degrees even at nearly six in the evening. I may take a stroll in the cool of the evening, say around ten at night. But till then I am grateful to have a nice cool place of my own. That’s not always been the case — and I’m no stranger to the heat.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1560

(1) I’m up to three miles now running on Paradise Path.   I’m moving faster and more breezily through life, and people tell me I look thinner.

(2) I finished the Vocal Score on Friday, formatted more neatly than earlier.   It encompasses everything that was learned during the Pandemic Workshop.   I must say I am grateful to Karlie for proofreading it and to Kathy the church secretary for coil-binding ten copies of it on her last day of work before retiring.   Also grateful for all the Kids who helped me to refine it during the workshop.

(3) In a period of eleven days, I raised over $1500 toward honoraria for the summer workshop.   This is the first time I’ve conducted a fundraiser that has actually succeeded.   Grateful for the show of support from those who contributed, and the very encouraging words that they wrote.

(4) A publisher in White Plains MI has agreed to publish an anthology involving much of what I’ve written about homelessness in the past five years.   I’m in the process of organizing it all in .docx format.  Grateful not to have to mess with self-publishing and all that, glad someone’s interested.

(5) Slept six hours last night from 8:40pm to 2:40am, deep REM sleep with vivid dreams.  Woke up and read Romans 12, which is always inspiring.  Then my daughter came on Messenger as she was just going to bed.  A very nice way to start the morning.   Birds are chirping, the sky will soon be light.   God is Good.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1559

(1) After waking up ornery over this & that, I figured a two mile run would set me straight.   What I noticed afterward is that everything I was mad about was easily resolved simply by overlooking the offense.   Scripture says: “A person’s insight gives them patience, and it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.”  (Proverbs 19:11).  Different people are offended by different things.  Just because someone offended me, doesn’t mean that they’re wrong.  Thankful for insight.  Thankful for running.  Thankful for letting go.

(2) Got a new column published in Spokane.  That makes 24 now in that one city, including one in the Spokesman-Review.

(3) Sitting at the Round Table, I saw all four of the Sullivans all come in at once.   Of course, you probably don’t know who the Sullivans are, but it’s always a joy to see such a well-adjusted, happy family.

(4) Had a great session with Keva yesterday.   I taught her the singing part to Now That There’s You, and we did a new version of “I Am the Blues” which she and I had both regarded as a practice take.  Slowed it down to a smoky smooth jazz groove, and that chanteuse knows exactly what she’s doing.  I’d be jealous if I weren’t so grateful.

(5) Last I checked, I’ve already received $1050 toward the $1500 goal of my fundraiser.   Danielle’s been holding the money for me, for which I’m glad.   Also, Zazen and Matt both came back to the team last week.  Things are looking up, and I’m grateful.

“When life at times makes us stumble and fall…we may limp for awhile…struggle to walk for awhile…but before long we are up and running again…not away from life but towards it. For each time we fall…we only become stronger.”
–Ash Sweeney

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1558

(1) I’ve started running again after a lengthy lull.  I seem to be more dedicated, and I’ve already done three two mile runs – Monday, Wednesday and Friday of last week.   Also did 17 push-ups today (though in two sets, 7 in the first and 10 in the second.)  Tonight after work I plan on doing three miles, and taking it from there.  I feel more motivated these days in general — and I’m grateful.

(2) I’m loving my new job so far.  I’m on the 4-8pm shift now, having had three Zoom meetings today before four.   I finally feel like I’m doing something for the community (other than to try to keep getting everybody to produce my musical.)

(3) Kelsey and I met this morning on Zoom for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I believe I can trim it down to a half hour podcast for Wednesday.  We appear to be on the same page about the summer workshop and about the imminent completion of final stages of the project.  For this and other reasons, I’m getting a really good feeling about the Summer of 2021.

(4) All you have to do is click here to see the phenomenal progress that has been made in the past two days toward reaching our goal of having all money for honoraria for the summer workshop secured by July 9.   This is the first time in my life that I’ve organized a fundraiser that actually looks as though it stands a chance of succeeding!

(5) Best news of all: I have been reconciled with a dear friend of many years whom I thought I would never see again.  We had a falling out in 2013 over something rather trite, and I ought never to have overreacted to his words the way I did.  We met for an hour on Zoom today, and our friendship is reinstated.  I am grateful that, among many broken relationships, at least one very meaningful one has been mended.   Grateful for my good friend Phil.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting our trespasses against us. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.”  — 2 Corinthians 5:17-21

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1557

(1) I thought I had offended someone who is important to me, and it turned out that I had not offended them — in fact, whatever it was had nothing to do with me.    Grateful for the positive connections I have made on WordPress and elsewhere.

(2) Really nice chat with Cody yesterday, whose positive energy and tireless enthusiasm is always a blessing.  We wound up each having root beer floats at the A&W after our meeting yesterday.  It’s particularly refreshing to hear the ideas of those who genuinely think for themselves and think things through, who bring new and inviting ideas to the table.   He’s of that ilk, and it’s inspiring.

(3) Well, the meeting went well yesterday between myself, Cody & Liam.  I believe we will have a more solid and structured workshop this summer that will also provide more incentive for those involved, and that most of the players from the old team will be on board.   (I would say: “third time’s the charm!” but I don’t think I can quote chapter & verse on that one.)

(4) I put all of me and Keva’s stuff on a playlist in case anyone wants to tune in from time to time.   There are three songs on there now, and there will be more, and they will continue to be refined.   I’m lucky to have these people interested in my work here, because it keeps me from doing something rash (such as grabbing a sleeping bag and one way to Seattle — which believe me has crossed my mind lately.  Grateful for nice weather, though no need to prove it.)

(5) I want to let my readers know that this is not the happiest time of my life, and that I find myself to be troubled by situations that are beyond my control.   However, I remember some of the first words I read when I first opened up a Bible circa 1980, when I was very much hassled by same:

“In the world you will have trouble, but take heart — for I have overcome the world.” 
    —  Jesus Christ 

Gratitude List 1556

1) Though we’re rapidly returning to real-life settings in these parts, I am thankful for the experience of Zoom and for the Zoom meetings I will continue to enjoy.  I imagine this would include my weekly Monday afternoon meeting with Kurt the linguistics expert.  Although it hasn’t happened yet, I always enjoy it, and usually learn new things.

(2) I’m thankful for all the professors I met in the two theology groups I discovered a while back.  On Thursday I met with Nick, a professor emeritus of philosophy who was the director of religious studies at the University here.  We had a wonderful conversation, in which he expressed his interest in my musical as well as theology.   I’m thankful he’d listened to Talking Shop Part Seven and Reaching for Your Hand, because he had useful observations as well as encouraging things to say.

(3) In the past year and a half, it seems that a niche has been prepared for me in the local journalism community.   I now count 22 columns I’ve had published in Spokane Faith and Values, where I’ve met numerous journalists with whom I am able to network.  Also thankful for all the local journalists I’ve met here in town, and at the University.

(4) Keva and I met again on Sunday.  We dd a new recording of “Reaching for Your Hand” in which we used two iPhones spaced strategically in different spots near singer and piano.   I’m in the process of mixing it down for my SoundCloud.   We also did a video of a song I wrote called “I Am the Blues.”  On examining her work closely, I told Keva she should feel free to interpret my songs as she chooses.  She does have that power, that gift.

(5) I’ve been meeting one to one with people who are interested in reinstating a musical workshop for the summer.  It won’t be the same exact team, but I am encouraged by the genuine interest and enthusiasm I am finding in those with whom I meet.  It’s been wonderful to have slowly realized in recent months that I am not the only person who enjoys working on my musical.   It’s been wonderful overall to have gradually discovered that I am no longer isolated, no longer alone.

“I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.”
   — Erin Gruwell

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1555

(1) Though I’d felt tired and innervated for weeks, my energy level definitely increased throughout last week and on into the start of this week.  Walking into town, I easily turned left and scaled up a hill that often has intimidated me.  A roundabout route through campus was not only beautiful, but brisk.  Moreover, I notice I’m getting to bed early these days and waking up like clockwork at the same time every morning, very naturally.   Grateful for the gift of health.

(2) Wrote a column for the religious news site, first one since the five-week series.   Kurt had a chance to go through it with suggested edits, many of which I accepted, prior to turning it in yesterday.  (It’s about hidden meaning that may be found in the pandemic.)  Grateful for this writing gig, and for all the journalists I’ve met here who encourage me.

(3) Had a wonderful experience yesterday providing special music at the United Church, where Cody is the regular church pianist on staff.  He played the service with great sensitivity, and Pastor Jodie preached a provocative sermon.  I played my “very Irish” version of Be Thou My Vision, and it was a warm, spirited occasion.

(4) Keva’s delivery of Reaching for Your Hand is almost too good for me to listen to.  She was practically sight-reading off of a score on her smartphone — that’s how little we had practiced it – and yet she nailed it.  I knew she was good, but I didn’t know she was that good!   I gave her another song I wrote for female voice called “I Am the Blues” that we’re practicing to record on Sunday.

(5) Getting up at 4:30 every morning again has been good for my spiritual health.  My friend Danielle in Georgia leaves at 7:45 to drive to work, and so at 4:45am PST we often have a conversation.  Lately the conversations have been very encouraging, mostly about how to be forgiving, in an ongoing way, in human relationships, and how we can feel free to solve our problems knowing that we are forgiven, for we can see ourselves without shame.  It’s inspiring how both Danielle and I have been positively influenced by our respective churches over the past few years.    There is new life all around me, and I am grateful.

If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.
   –Martin Luther King, Jr.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1554

(1) It’s been great getting to sit in the café lately, where a number of people have told me I look more relaxed and healthy than ever before. Funny too, because I haven’t been running and I think I’m fat. But if I transcend the personal perception of potbelly, I can be thankful for the compliment.

(2) Just sold a Pensive CD for $15 on the site. Thankful for my first sale.

(3) Looking forward to meeting with Kurt the retired linguistics professor this afternoon at 3:30 as usual on Zoom.  I continue to be grateful for the ongoing search for knowledge and purpose that I have found here on WordPress, as well as in my University community, among all the scholars whom I’ve been privileged to meet.

(4) Keva did an amazing job on both of those songs yesterday.   We’re planning to do another version of “Reaching for Your Hand” once she doesn’t have to read it off of her phone, but even so, it’s the best anyone I know has ever sung that song — out of many singers, over the years.  I’m grateful for Keva as well as for all the other young performing artists who recently have shown an interest in my work.

(5) Beautiful day, cool and breezy.   Nice running weather.  I may be a slouch but I am grateful I have two strong legs and two long lungs.   They’ve come in handy, here and there, throughout life.

“Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.”
— W.B. Yeats”

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1553

(1) Grateful for the nice change in the weather the past few days.  Sunny and warm, the walk to the Dollar Store was very enjoyable.  I never noticed how beautiful it can be on Paradise Creek before.   Grateful for the sense of vigor and new energy that is brought about by Spring.

(2) Grateful once again for my church and especially for their letting me use the grand piano for my recordings and many of the spaces for scheduled rehearsals of my musical.   I was there late last night and got a lot of new piano music recorded.  In fact, I have enough for a new album now, and have been arranging it on a SoundCloud playlist.

(3) I’ve been learning so much from some of the people I’ve met on WordPress, in addition to some of the very well-educated people whom I’ve met her in town, that I often feel like I’m going to school again – yet without the pressure of things like deadlines, midterms and grades.

(4) Had a really good meeting with Liam yesterday.  We set a groundwork of stuff for each of us to do between now and summer, and also plan to involve Cody, to the end that we get something happening again this Summer, after everybody does their homework.   I was impressed with how well-organized and encouraging the meeting was.   There’s a sense of something very exciting being drafted on the down low, behind the scenes.   

(5) There’s a feeling of people hanging together a little more right now.   I feel it in the community, and in my church group, and on the blogosphere, and even on a bigger level.   I’m encouraged to see the way people are toughing it out.   Just when I think I’m alone, someone is there for me.   We all have a lot in common, at this time.   

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”
    — Desmond Tutu 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1552

(1) I was grateful to see that the little Greek gyros place on Main Street has opened up for indoor seating now, as long as people wear their masks when not seated.   Nice to see things returning to a semblance of normalcy.

(2) In the past couple days I’ve been blessed to accomplish much more reading than usual, by way of research.  Among other things, I read all kinds of information related to the “social construction of reality,” culminating in this excellent 14-minute video.  All of this is turning out to be very useful in the blog sequel I’m slowly composing for Thursday.

(3) Gorgeous clear day today, having gotten up to 48F degrees already, though it was 26F when I first awoke in the morning.   Doppio at the cafe makes me want to walk vigorously, like I did yesterday, four miles.

(4) Grateful for this A&W being so close to my house, because it has really fast Wi-Fi and they don’t mind me sitting in here for a while.   Good coffee, too.   A nice place to take my new laptop after an afternoon nap.

(5) I’m really grateful for Kelsey, because she is such a grounding force in the project, both conceptually, and in terms of providing a bridge between me and the younger actors.  It’s been wonderful working with her on the deeper themes during these podcasts.  Grateful for Cody & Keva and the others who remain enthused.  Their spirit is helping to sustain a feeling that I’m not in this thing alone.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
   –Will Durant

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1551

(1) Going to meet with Keva this Sunday and do some singing and maybe more recording – not necessarily all stuff from the show.   Grateful for the connection.  Just because the workshop is over, it doesn’t have to end.

(2) An idea for a new column came to me out of the blue this morning.   Grateful to have been given something new and interesting to focus on at this time.

(3) New Lenovo arrived from Office Depot.   Great computer, never read a bad review, got $220 off on the deal, everything appears to be working perfectly.

(4) I really like this town cafe, which they expanded during the pandemic.   Takes up a whole block now with two new sections, including a beer and wine bar for after hours.   Looking forward to settling into a new phase of working quietly from here — gotta finish the 4th draft vocal score, and finally begin the piano score (having left the hardest part till last.)  Then the show will be ready for whoever.

(5) And I can move on.   It’s weird when change is “trying to happen.”  It feels so awkward needing to navigate new territory.   But change is necessary — I just have to keep trusting in the One who does not change.

“Every great dream begins with a dreamer.   Always remember, you have within yourself the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars and change the world.”  — Harriet Tubman 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1550

(1) I’m grateful for the gift of writing.  It’s something I really enjoy doing, and people tell me I’m good at it.

(2) This church has been really nice letting me go in and play that great grand piano all the time.

(3) Grateful for the stimulus check because my new laptop will be arriving sometime this week.   This will be the first time I will have purchased a new laptop in about five years.

(4) Thinking about the workshop gives me more gratitude than sorrow.   There was something remarkable about the whole way it happened — how it provided an oasis in the desert of the pandemic.   It didn’t just help me and me alone.  It helped a whole group of people whom otherwise would probably have never come into contact.  It was one of the most exceptional experiences of my entire life.

(5) Though I’m grateful for what computers and devices can do for us, I’m even more grateful for the power of shutting the lid on the laptop.   Sometimes I shut that lid, and my anxiety level drops to almost zero.    Glad to get up and smell the roses.  Grateful for the gift of life.

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.”
    — Ecclesiastes 3:1 

Gratitude List 1549

(1) Exercise appears to have been reinstated, with corresponding weight loss in the works.   I ran 2 1/2 miles three days ago, walked four miles briskly the day after, and eight whole miles yesterday – though it was only brisk throughout the first four miles thereof.   Though innervated today, I’m confident I’ll have a good run tomorrow morning.

(2) Working on the 5th and final column of my five-part series for Spokane Faith and Values.   This one should drive the point home.   I’m grateful for the opportunity to have aired this particular viewpoint, at this time.

(3) Beautiful weather we’ve been having lately, which made the walk up and down the hills circling campus very pleasant yesterday, as well as quite brisk on the uphill at the start.   Today’s a shade on the cloudy side, but I like it a lot.   Reminds me of San Francisco.

(4) We closed out our pandemic-based Eden in Babylon workshop yesterday, with tears of joy and thanksgiving on my part.  I’m deeply moved that these people seemed to show up out of nowhere — talented, dedicated singer/actors, who helped me more than they know.   We also recorded three more songs — “Midnight Screams,” “Daylight,” and “The Urban Elegy” — with piano, singing and professional sound design on the part of Liam Marchant.   The band will keep rehearsing every Monday indefinitely, but outside of further future podcasts that Kelsey Chapman and I are planning, the involvement of the singer/actors is formally complete.   The whole having been uniquely beautiful, I’m sure we’ll all stay in touch.

(5) I finished the new version of the script on March 12th, the first revision since December 21st, incorporating everything we learned in the workshop, and then some.   I’m standing on new ground spiritually, and thankful, and taking heed lest I fall.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1548

(1) A lady from my church came over two days in a row, helped me clean the house, and showed me how to fix the toilet too. I learned all kinds of things about housecleaning that my own mother never taught me. As a result, I’m enthused about maintaining a nicer, cleaner place.

(2) After wrangling over it for three days in a spirit of merciless self-criticism, I have completed the first draft of my fourth column for the five-week series on Spokane Faith and Values. I submitted it to Kurt, the retired linguistics professor (and the man with the beret whom you see in Microcosm.) His edits on my second column were very helpful, and I look forward to more of the same.

(3) Looks like I’m losing weight again.  Haven’t been running so much, but have been enjoying long brisk walks in the morning and at night.  I use them as a time for prayer and reflection.  They also help to deflect the fact that I’ve got a lot of food in my cupboard these days, and that I’ve a tendency to munch.  Grateful, however, not to be going without.

(4) Mixes are starting to come in from our studio session Sunday before last.   New versions of “Hunted,” “Oracle,” and “Turns Toward Dawn” are available.   The last of these three clips is by far the best, earning us a wonderful commendation from the head of the jazz department at the Conservatory.   

(5) Our church met indoors for the first time yesterday.   We still wore masks and social-distanced.  It was well-coordinated and well-attended, and it made me feel warm inside.   I keep getting a sense that something really positive is in the works.  I can’t quite put my finger on it — but that doesn’t mean it isn’t real.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1655

(1) Just got the second dose of the Moderna vaccine, about two hours ago.   Fulfilled my civic duty, and we’ll see what happens.  No fluish symptoms as of yet.  Grateful for this leap onto what will hopefully be a new and better stage.   

(2) Walking into the cafe, signs of new beginnings are in the air.   People wearing masks appear to be smiling.  Customers are less isolated and more chatty.   Had a couple meaningful conversations with strangers — two ladies I’d not seen before — who gave two different accounts about reactions to their vaccinations.   Sat down in my favorite venue and composed this gratitude list.   God has been good to me today.

(3) Got a nice compliment on Bridging the Gap from a staff member of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (AKA Ashland) — someone whom I haven’t talked to since 2004 (ironically, the year most referenced in the audio cast.)   After dispelling the immediate fantasies that Eden in Babylon might be produced at Ashland, I realized that two people who usually don’t comment have made appreciative remarks toward that single talk.   That means it’s probably useful, and I pinned it to my Twitter profile.   Glad I dug it up — hope it helps.   

(4) Because yesterday was Cooper’s last day, we recorded five of his songs back to back in the sanctuary.  Liam engineered the recordings and will have them ready, he says, by Thursday.   All were done with piano only, and most included five back-up singers from the team.    Though it’s difficult to lose Cooper, I’m grateful we used his last day wisely.   (Besides, you never know — he might come back someday.)

(5) Yes – definitely – new beginnings are in the air.   I can feel it.   It’s all around me.   It’s a beautiful day in the city of my birth.   I am somehow where I’m meant to be — where I belong — for now.  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1654

(1) Taking a week off from EIB rehearsals was just about the best thing I’ve done for myself in a long time. I caught up on my sleep as well as on reading and housecleaning. Was also able to devote more time to my daughter and to my friends. Grateful for the power of rest.

(2) The first column in the five week series is beginning to take off, surprisingly enough. Though the essential message — having to do with stigma — is a challenge to articulate, I have confidence that after five weekly columns, I’ll have gotten the point across. Grateful for the opportunity.

(3) I’ve sold five new From a Distance piano albums already. Taking the cash bit by bit to the Dollar Store for groceries is reminiscent of a former time of thrift, when all throughout the 90’s I took my tip money four nights a week to a Lucky grocery store after getting off my regular gig at Gulliver’s Restaurant. Never had a food bill in those days, never had to go to a food bank, never went hungry.

(4) I was a new man when I arrived at the recording session yesterday. The spirit of professionalism was striking, and we nailed “Turns Toward Dawn” on the 3rd take. The way that Liam and Cody work together, both with expertise in their respective fields, neither having known the other before a few short weeks ago, is beyond impressive. After the session, we ran “Oracle.” This was the first time I’ve accompanied it since Cody took over teaching the choral parts, and it rocked. I was blessed — I was jazzed — I was proud.

(5) Grateful for my church, where I’ve been a member now for over 4 1/2 years. They have supported me in my best and put up with me in my worst. Very thankful for my new life in Idaho, after years of struggling on the San Francisco Bay Area streets.

Don’t lose faith. Promise yourself that you will be a success story, and I promise you that all the forces of the universe will unite to come to your aid; you might not feel it today or for a while, but the longer you wait the bigger the prize.   — George Bernard Shaw  

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.

Gratitude List 1651

(1) Finally got that huge project concerning the time signature change out of the way.  Even got inspired in the process and heard some cool three part harmonies in my head that I was able to add to the score.   The result is a 12-page combined vocal, bass and guitar score to my song The Word from Beyond.  I’m not only proud of my work, I am relieved and thankful to have finished it.

(2) Really enjoyed the Coffee Talk on Saturday morning. I always enjoy hearing the perspectives of all the religious journalists, and often more so, the atheists who are clearly freethinkers and untainted by dogmatic doctrine.

(3) One of the Kids came over and helped me clean up the house.  Got a jump start anyway – still gotta do the bathroom.  She sang while she worked, too.  Nice to have supportive people in my life.

(4) I agreed with my editor-in-chief to a five-week series on a certain theme, to begin on the 17th and run for five consecutive Wednesdays.   Also, my Hobo, Homeless or Houseless piece will be published this Wednesday.   So I get six in a row — this could lead to something even better.

(5) I hope you enjoy this rehearsal version of The Urban Elegy that we did yesterday.  It’s a rough recording, but the essence of the song is there.   You can hear the Wendt Brothers harmonies as well as solos by Zazen and Keva, and four part harmonies throughout.   I’m proud of these young Artists.  We’re all proud — and I’m grateful.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.