Gratitude List 1878

(1) Five cups of coffee, a traditional breakfast with sausage, and a banana at the Courtyard Cafe — all for a whoppin’ five bucks.

(2) Not to mention, it was totally chill in there. I sat at my table between 10 and 2, deciding to have lunch there as well.  It was there that I finished my new column for the Faith and Values website, and generally chilled out for a few hours, today being Saturday–the designated day of rest.

(3) Two ladies from my church came over with SUV and truck yesterday, and got most of my things out of my apartment.  I’ve got another guy with a truck on hold as I wait to round up enough people to move my old couch into it.  Really looking forward to no longer sleeping on that soft couch and becoming as lazy and complacent as I have been these last few years.  Eager to start sleeping on the floor again, on a couple pieces of cardboard with blankets on top of me–the way I have slept throughout most of my life.  Eager for my bad posture to improve. Thankful to be finally be leaving the hood.

(4) As it turns out, I do not have prostate cancer. Benign prostate enlargement, treatable with Flomax. One less thing to worry about. Also, 35 minutes in that MRI was a trip! Amazing what they can reveal these days.

(5) I have secured a secret apartment where I will stay alone for five weeks, complete with shower.  No one will know where I am or how to find me.  It will be near to the new apartment I’ll have on July 7th.  So as soon as I get my place cleaned and my piano moved, I will begin my new life with gratitude.

“Lead with faith, not fear. Faith that everything is happening for you, not to you. Faith that you are being protected, not rejected. Faith that you are finding, not that you are lost. Faith that the Universe is working the you, not that you are alone or on your own. Faith that you are coming home, not that you are without a home” ― Farah Ayaad

Gratitude List 1873

(1) I was feeling grumpy and innervated yesterday, lacking confidence in my ability to perform even mundane tasks, let alone the finer things. Then I went for a 2 1/2 mile run, and afterwards I felt light, breezy, free and flowing. It’s a gift God gave me that I can keep this up at the age of seventy. I’d probably have been dead a long time ago, without long distance running.

(2) I was feeling hassled this morning after “oversleeping” and feeling like I was “running late” when I realized that I didn’t really have to be anywhere “on time” and that a greater blessing would be to take it slow, one step at a time–even though it goes against the grain of my natural get-up-and-go.

(3) That said, I decided to break out the bicycle for the first time since all the snowfall, and as hassled as I felt beforehand, I felt just as liberated as I zipped down the hill, feeling the crisp wind breezing across my face.

(4) Later, I was mildly miffed to find myself walking my bike up the super-steep hills I was almost certain to encounter, as I had set about an uncharted course in routine avoidance of a recurrence of recent neighborhood turbulence. But then, my first conversation in the day turned out to be very encouraging, as a nice lady gave me efficient directions as to how to get myself back to the downtown area, while her husband and young son looked on in admiration.

(5) Last but not least, when I went to pay my rent on Monday, I was advised I could no longer keep my apartment past the day of the lease I’d already boldly asserted I would not be renewing in June. But in the same breath, they told me they would gladly rent me another apartment in a better location for a $115 rent reduction.

The apartment being three blocks from the cafe in which I sit, five blocks from the Recovery Center, and six blocks from my church, I quickly realized I would be saving money on food as well as rent, since I will no longer be compelled to eat out in order to avoid the long trek up and down steep hills to my present apartment, infested with unpleasant memories, as it were.

The only hitch is the move-in-date is not until July 7th. So I have to float for five weeks, being as I need to be out of my apartment in June. C’est la vie. If anyone has ever “floated” for five weeks, it’s me. And to rent from these guys is worth it. They’re the best landlords I’ve ever had.

“It’s never too late to become who you want to be. I hope you live a life that you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

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Gratitude List 1865

(1) In an act of unprecedented mercy toward myself, I gave myself permission to sleep in for three extra hours. Though groggy at the moment, I sense it will be a productive day (barring the unforeseen).

(2) My former spiritual director of five years (between 2004 & 2009) now lives in Spokane, the city that hosts the Faith and Values website, uniting people of different religions from all across the globe. Now a retired Episcopal priest, Fr Rick has agreed to have a candid conversation concerning certain changes that may be in the works.

(3) The Courtyard Cafe is now fully open at the hospital where I was born, having been closed for medical reasons throughout the pandemic. They’re still giving me the volunteer discount on the best home-cooked breakfasts in town.

(4) In the past ten days, I have now made three times the amount of money in Turbulence sales than I made in an entire month teaching Piano and Voice at the Academy last year. Moreover, the commute from my house to the grand piano is about a mile and a half. The commute to said academy was eleven miles.

(5) Grateful for the happy tunes that have sailed through my head lately, inspiring a new piano album where catchy old ditties will be played in a ragtime style. So far, I’ve got “King of the Road,” “What a Day for a Daydream,” “Won’t You Come Home Bill Bailey,” “Henry the Eighth,” and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band.” I’m always thankful when new beginnings embrace a love of good things old.

“The direction you choose to face determines whether you’re standing at the end or the beginning of a road.” — Rachel E. Goodrich

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It will keep the piano tunes coming!

Gratitude List 1864

(1) Whatever snowfall fell overnight, it sure is a beautiful day.

(2) I really enjoyed singing in the Choir this morning. We did “This Little Light of Mine.” I sang bass and had a good time. One of the other men thanked me, saying my presence really helped.

(3) I’ve discovered two new beautiful pathways to get to the downtown area from where I live on the edge of town. One goes through campus, another along the running trail I often use. Though of greater length, they are much nicer than the straight path down the long, lonely highway.

(4) Tracy Simmons, my editor at Spokane Faith and Values, prompted me to post an addendum to my piece, The Invisible Composer. I am also very grateful for Tracy, and the wonderful work she has done uniting people of all different faith practices in the city of Spokane, Washington.

(5) Posted a Craigslist Ad for a housemate to see me through the next months till the lease is up, and hopefully help me get the apartment in rentable shape for the next tenant.

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”– Socrates

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Gratitude List 1845

(1) Farmer’s Market is kinda beautiful this morning. Six months a year every Saturday they have it here, with two busking stations and a stage for live band. I notice a phenomenon once again that I noticed when I first moved here six years ago. The smile in this town is not phony, nor does it mean someone wants something from you. The smile here is genuine. When someone says “have a nice day,” they sincerely want you to have a nice day.

(2) Grateful for my MacBook Pro, my music notation software, and my iPhone. Scoring music for the Eden in Babylon performance tracks is bringing back all the joy of working with these amazing programs and devices. Moreover, I find working with music notation software to be therapeutic. Happy to be back at it.

(3) Grateful I was given two strong legs and a good set of lungs. It’s been a long time since I ran that half mile on April 9, 1976 and puked my guts out. 46 years later and the man is still in the running. Grateful I was given a good set of teeth too, while I’m at it. I’ve still got all my natural teeth except for two wisdoms and a molar. Many people who have done the drug I have done have no teeth left at all.

(4) Four years clean from crystal methamphetamine as of October 1. I’d tell the whole world if I didn’t know it would probably lead to relapse. I want to do that drug all the time, just about every day of my life. What keeps me clean is keeping it close to my chest. People who boast about their recoveries are always relapsing, and they put the word “Anonymous” in the name of that program back in 1935 for a good, sound reason.

(5) I’m grateful for my apartment and for the $275 worth of groceries I bought on the 1st of the month. I’m grateful to be living in a peaceful, quiet neighborhood, and I am grateful for the all-night convenience store on the corner. I’ve met many fine Kids who work at that store, and I guarantee you, as fine as they are, half of them would be homeless if they had to live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I myself would be homeless if I were to move back to California. Grateful for my amazing new life.

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Gratitude List 1841

(1) Only 6:50 in the morning & I’m already back from my 2.6 mile run. First run in 11 days actually. Legs felt a little wobbly (like they hadn’t been running) but breathing was fine & in fact I got a second wind. Thankful for running & that I can still do it.

(2) Coffee tasted unusually good this morning at around 5:20, even though it was “only” the Folgers Classic Roast from the nearby 24 hour store. Nice to have good tasting coffee to start the day off right, especially after spending the first half hour of the day madly searching the house for my missing levothryoxine.

(3) We’re opening The Sound of Music this Wednesday at the RTOP Theatre. It’s been wonderful to have experienced all the goodness of this particular show, and the whole way it has become a huge team effort, with very little shuffling of egos. In fact it’s been wonderful working at RTOP and knowing the community effort. I really did wind up with a great bunch of people.

(4) 11:50am already, five hours ex post facto. It appears I am already up in Pullman WA and in fact right around the corner from the theatre, at a pleasant cafe where they make me feel most welcome. Prices are pretty good too, and I’m now having an apple juice–(liberating myself from my unconscious “coffee only” policy, for the time being.)

(5) Strikes me as a good thing that here I am in this vibrant new multicultural community this morning, about to explore whatever possibilities may wish to make themselves known. However this transition is to manifest–whether it means a car, or a new place to live, or what-have-you–it won’t manifest if I only sit idly at home all day. Here’s to New Beginnings.

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Gratitude List 1825

(1) Though I’ve only done the 24 mile bike ride twice, I noticed it went much more smoothly the second time. I also find that I’m getting “addicted” to the course already—which in this case is a good thing. Finally, I’ve noticed that on the long open stretches, I have plenty of time to reflect, pray and plan. It’s good healthy solitude on that 12 mile trail.

(2) Got my Homeless No More column for June turned into Street Spirit News after much writer’s block. Interestingly, it was after I gave up and told the editor I wouldn’t have a column this month that I looked at it afresh—relaxed and free of deadline—and with new eyes the writer’s block was broken. I’m pretty sure this illustrates a spiritual principle, or three.

(3) Full reading and sing-thru of EDEN IN BABYLON is being scheduled at RTOP for a slot between mid-to-late June. Exact date not yet decided (still culling schedules, wanting both Keva and Cooper to be available.) Thankful that John Rich the Executive Director is letting us use the space.

(4) The Professors will be meeting at 5pm today to discuss the Resurrection. I will likely be the only person in the room who believes in it. It’s an exciting event and I am grateful to be included among the Professors. However, what I am most thankful for is the laryngitis I have, for it will assist me in biting my tongue.

(5) My rental application has been completed and submitted, with all pertinent fees paid. Thankful to have sought out a new apartment at a time when I was not desperate. Thankful for my present place to live, and looking forward to being the Musical Director of two or three shows in the RTOP 2022-23 season. Thankful, after all of these years, to have once again found people in my field who believe in me.

“Throw your dreams into space like a kite, and you do not know what it will bring back, a new life, a new friend, a new love, a new country.”  
     — Anais Nin

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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 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 

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Re: Everything Must Change

I briefly posted my version of “Everything Must Change” yesterday, prior to promptly removing it from the public eye upon recognition of bloopers too big to bear widespread disclosure.  

Specifically, I kept forgetting during my improv around the standard changes to enter into the repeated modulating passage that precedes the signature hook.  Anyone who knew the correct changes could easily raise their voice in justifiable objection.   So I had to remove the rendition before any further foreseen damage could be effected.

I’m headed up to the church at this moment, confident in my capacity to create a conducive restoration of the formerly misshapen theme.  So convinced am I in my competence to thereof, that I even have dared to announce it beforehand, though one knows not what the future brings.

The piece had been on my mind for two reasons.  One is that it seems fitting in this time of temporal transition, with Good Friday representing the power of Christ’s sacrificial love, wherein there is a death to the flesh in its formerly all-inclusive nature, to be followed by a promised rebirth of a far more transcendent form of life.   “Everything Must Change” can be said to embody this theme, in its core essence.

A second reason is that its chord progression resembles that of another piece that had crossed my mind recently; and that, in fact, I had already performed on a video recording.  “All in Love is Fair” is a song by Stevie Wonder that was popularized in roughly the same era as “Everything Must Change.”  Their chord progressions are similar though not identical.  My mind, while improvising around the progression to “Everything Must Change,” kept forgetting which tune it was that I was supposed to be embellishing.  Many odd short-circuitries of mortal mental prowess transpired.  The upshot was a failure to honor the essence of either piece.   A reconstruction of said construction is therefore in order.

That’s about it!  I’d hesitated to offer what might be interpreted as a mere disclaimer — but then I had a hunch that the explanatory information might be useful to someone, on some level.  I’ll be back within a few hours.    

“Turns Toward Dawn” (Studio Version)

“Turns Toward Dawn” — Studio Version. Recorded (along with five other songs) on Cooper Knutson’s last day, serving as the main character, Winston Greene, in our ongoing Eden in Babylon workshop. Cooper Knutson and Keva Shull, vocals. Andy Pope, piano. Sound design by Liam Robert Marchant. I am at this stage nothing but proud of everyone involved. The world has yet to hear a better “Turns Toward Dawn” than this.

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Gratitude List 1641

(1) After nearly two weeks of enduring a totally erratic sleeping schedule, I believe I have finally returned to my preferred early-to-rise routine. Already, I am feeling calmer and more confident than I did throughout the week last week.

(2) This also blessed me to see an absolutely gorgeous sunrise, which unfortunately I failed to capture on camera. The sight of it reminded me of new beginnings, and hope for new blessings in the week to come.

(3) Someone left a workstation and an executive chair about a block down the road, with a sign that said “FREE.” As I paled at the task of dragging the items down to my apartment, a kind couple across the way asked if I needed help. The upshot is that I was finally able to replace my large collapsing table with a very nice black workstation, creating more space in the apartment and making me much more comfortable at my new desk.

(4) In the process of excitedly hurling the many items off the previous very messy table, I created such a horrific mess in the living room that I was finally motivated to perform a thorough tidying-up thereof. No doubt I will soon continue this happy trend with the kitchen and bathroom.

(5) Tears of joy put me to peaceful sleep the night before last, after receiving the greatest show of respect I believe I have ever received from a group of people in my entire life. Somehow, a musical I’d almost forgotten I’d written came up during a meeting of my Eden in Babylon team. Noticing that the current team consists of four very fine male singer-actors and three equally talented female performers, I saw how the seven Artists corresponded almost magically to the four male characters and three female characters in The Burden of Eden.

It then was not long before the complete piano-vocal score to that show had been submitted to them, and my team was excitedly going about learning their songs. After years of having my work written off as that of a “crackpot,” I have finally found good people who believe in me. I’m crying now, just thinking about it. It’s almost too good to be true.

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