Monday, January 28, 2008

God Be With You

'Til We Meet Again.

1910 -- 2008

"Stand a little taller, be a little better, try a little harder."

Friday, January 25, 2008


Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if I had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

--Robert Frost


This is a picture of my big brother, Gaylen, and me. I called him "Brother," because for many years I thought that was his name. He hung out hundreds of my diapers on the clothesline for our mom, he carried me around on his back, he paid me pennies and nickles to smell his feet and scratch his back. I first time I ever heard Mairzy Doats and Dozey Doats was when he sang it, drying dishes after supper one evening. I thought it was the funniest song in the world. He built model airplanes and hung them from the ceilings all over the house. There was a perpetual smell of balsa wood and model glue. He flew them in circles over the desert with our cousin Billy. He learned to play the trumpet. He listened to Stan Kenton jazz records, and to Woody Herman, subscribed to Downbeat and Metronome magazines.

Walkin' with my baby, she got great big feet...
Caldonia! Caldonia! What makes your big head so hard? Hunh!

That was the second funniest song in the world.

He said he wanted to be an aeronautical engineer, and fly real airplanes. He bought his own plane with money he earned reading gas meters, and took flying lessons. But when he went away to college, he studied music, and became a performer and a composer, and a teacher. Igor Stravinsky liked Woody Herman's scat and screech Caldonia too, so much, in fact, that he wrote music for Herman's band. WHen my brother composed his own music, years later, much of it echoed the sound of Stravinsky. For his PHD at the University of Utah, my brother wrote music for a ballet gala, performed by the U of U Ballet (which became Ballet West), That piece, TOXCATL, based on Aztec history during the periodic "War of the Flowers," was no doubt inspired and influenced by Stravinsky. This is where he met my sister-in-law, Marianne, a ballerina with the company. They married and had four children, two boys and two girls. He played French Horn with the Utah Symphony under Maestro Maurice Abravanel for years.

He set a poem I wrote when I was seventeen to music for a 75 voice choir, performed and recorded with brass and timpani. He also used a text of mine called JAEL, for a short opera written a few years later. Most recently (April, 2000), I was pleased when he asked me to provide and edit the text for an ambitious piece called APOTHEOSIS, based on the writings of Neal A Maxwell and performed by the Ricks College Chamber Orchestra and Collegiate Singers. A CD was made for Tantara Records as part of their Heritage Series, called Three Sacred Works. An absolutely fantastic piece of music! The last thing he wrote was a piano piece called Fallen Angel, for a special project uniting LDS classical composers with LDS visual artists, performed by Grant Johannesen, called Mormoniana.

He accompanied the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on several tours around the world, he was invited by the Chinese Minister of Culture to spend time in China lecturing and performing at three of the conservatories there. He's performed with George Shearing (on bass), Mannheim Steamroller (on horn), and has accompanied Margaret Whiting, the Lennon Sisters, Liberace, Ray Charles, and many others. He played a jazz concert once with Paul Horn, Conte Condoli, and Milton Bernhart.

The last three years, my brother has suffered with multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and diabetes (which took his sight a year ago). But it never, ever, took away his spirit, his sweet nature, or his sense of humor. Now he is dying. We all went over the night before last to say goodbye -- but I hate goodbyes. I said "Goodnight," and he said, "You've been a good sister." We said our "I love you's," and I asked him to please hug Mama and Daddy when he sees them, and to tell them I miss them. And to "leave a light on" for the rest of us. (You know, like that Motel 6 commercial).

Night before last he said to my sister-in-law, "Did you order this?" "Order what?" she asked. "This music," he said. They were playing Faure's REQUIEM for him. Whoever they were, bless them. And bless him.

(Please click on the link to hear a bit of Fallen Angel)


Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Snow Day!

Woke up yesterday morning to more snow! This time it kept it up until it was 18 inches deep. Temperature at zero at eight a.m. It's pretty to look at, but it's no fun digging cars out! The boys got some nice, new snow boots. We've all been sick, but are on the mend at last.

I remember when I was a kid living in the middle of the Mojave Desert in California, it snowed, maybe twice in the eighteen years I lived there. The first time, I remember, they closed the school (it was a one-room, fits-all sort of thing) and shut down the highway through town so the kids could sled. Since most of us had been born on the desert, I don't know where the sleds came from -- pieces of cardboard boxes, trashcan lids, I suppose. I think there were a few sleds. One of my friends, who had lived in colder, wetter places, had a pair of ice-skates, and we often put them on to skate through the deep, hot sand. This day, we threw snowballs at each other. This day, my dad scooped up snowballs, put them in a bowl and poured Log Cabin Maple Syrup (remember that little tin house?) with a little canned milk over the top -- Voila! Instant ice cream!

Childhood was the Kingdom made do with what you had! And had fun doing it! And if you remember the little tin Log Cabin, you are as old as I am....


Sunday, January 20, 2008

WI: Crossroads -- Reinventing Ourselves

I've just recently returned from visiting with my best friend, whose husband has passed away, whose life is at loose ends. It's an enormous change, a letting go (when you don't want to let go). One of my favorite writers, an anthropologist/poet named Loren Eiseley, once wrote of that point which occurs sometime in everyone's life, when "the kaleidoscope through which we look at life shifts" and nothing ever after looks the same. She has known this shift and letting go before (as we all have, and probably will again). She said then, "The nights are worst. I'm so filled up with a hurt that won't go away."

I think hurts like this don't go away. They become scars. There was a time when men wore their battle scars with pride. These scars demonstrated the fact that while they may have been sorely wounded, they were survivors, and they had not merely survived, but had, as William Faulkner said of heroes, ENDURED.

While I was surfing around the blogs tonight, I came across something written by V-Grrrl in the Middle, the day after Christmas, something I think is profound, something I would like to share with my best friend: "I want to dwell in possibility and see my life and my self as works in progress. I don't want anyone to chart a course for me. I want to travel through life without an itinerary. At this stage in my journey, I need to believe that I'm not done surprising myself, discovering new interests and talents, making new friends, embracing challenges, and finding new sources of wisdom and strength."

So, KK, this one's for you. I *heart* you, scars and all. You (and all the rest of us) are works in progress, and are never done surprising ourselves!

Thank you, V-Grrrl.


Monday, January 14, 2008


Hey Hey! I decided to publish my Pepek stuff with Lulu. They did a really nice job with it (there are a couple of typo's, but that's my bad). If you want a preview, go to and write Pepek in the search box. If you want to buy a copy, you can do it there as well! Let me know what you think! Write a REVIEW!

BTW, It's dedicated to: The Poets Who Blog! That's YOU! ...sorry you can't read the back cover here--it says nice things....


Tuesday, January 01, 2008


Do the Happy Dance! Some words of wisdom for 2008: Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff and nudge me when I've said enough and Never eat more than you can lift.

The first quote is from Charlie Shedd, and the second from Miss Piggy.

And one more from me (and Jacob): Wear whatever suits your fancy, and don't worry too much about what other folks might think. I think I'll go look for my coonskin cap....

Uncle Pepek