Murder, mystery, writing

My bedtime stories are murder mysteries. It started with the British writer Dorothy Sayres and her Peter Wimsey series – Lord Peter Wimsey, a debonair style and an easy manner – gracefully transporting a reader back to another era. Because I live in Cuenca, Ecuador, when I reached the last page, I had to rely on a traveler bringing a book into Carolina Bookstore and wanting to exchange it – and hoping that book was written by Dorothy Sayres. One day I almost did a dance around the store when I spied the name Dorothy Sayres; because, yes, there on a bottom shelf was a thick Peter Wimsey hard cover book with a number of short stories. Never mind that I was already carrying three bags of mostly fruit – pineapple, papaya, mangoes, avocadoes, tomatoes, along with a few pounds of onions, I’d no intention of leaving that book behind. It turned out that it was worth the extra burden. I can’t imagine how anyone could write a more gentle murder mystery than Dorothy Sayres did.

So then, the time came to choose another mystery writer. And it was when I visited Otavalo that I came across a small shop with a smattering of books, and only a few written in English. Though there stood out one book by the writer Dorothy Gilman – one book from her Mrs. Pollifax series. I always need a book – not just any book –  so I took a chance on Mrs. Pollifax, and she was a delight. Well, imagine a widow in her sixties, bored with garden clubs, and one day becoming so utterly bored that she somehow manages  to get a job with the CIA. Dorothy Gilman has Mrs. Pollifax traveling around the world (this writer  was a world-wide traveler) as a CIA special agent. And that she has a brown belt in karate adds to her charm. Neat, eh? And so, little by little, I managed to find five Mrs. Pollifax books at Carolina Bookstore in Cuenca. Good bedtime murder mystery reading! But, all things come to an end, and the getting of more Mrs. Pollifax books, or any book by Dorothy Gilman, in Cuenca reached that end.

And in lieu of not finding any more of Dorothy Gilman’s Mrs. Pollifax, I decided on the well-loved and respected murder mystery writer P.D. James., and her Inspector Adam Dalgliesh series – it was time I introduced myself to him. She, P.D. James, is a descriptive writer, and every step of the way, a detailed one, and very quickly the reader gets pulled into Inspector Adam Dagleish’s life and . . . job. P.D. James, I like her style!

I’m now on the hunt for another murder mystery writer – one having that certain indescribable something. Here in Ecuador I’m slowly developing the fine art of patience! – but, when it comes to finding a great murder mystery writer, patience thins quickly!  ; – )


Emi and her camera

Daughter Emi’s photos tell a story. She has an eye that captures the essence of a person and place. Most times Emi has her camera with her, and should that not be the case, the phone’s camera and Emi’s eye will more than suffice, because, you see, love and passion take extraordinary pictures. It’s been this way since she was very young. The following are from my iPad and phone, and I wish I had some of her other photos, but, alas, I don’t.

When the above photo was taken by Emi at Ocean Grove, NJ it was an unusually chilly June day, still, if I look at it long enough I feel my feet sinking into the sand as I wonder what’s across that vast ocean, then I see people are jumping into the waves, and lots of people are sitting on the sand perhaps dreaming, others are pointing to designs made by the clouds, sunbathers are making sandcastles and children are laughing as a friend is turned into a sand mermaid, someone is kayaking, families are collecting seashells, couples are riding the waves hand-in-hand. Now people are leaving. Lucky me I stayed and watched magnificent dolphins playing. The sun is setting now and I’m saying goodbye to a gorgeous day. Ah, yes, such is the magic of a photo.

We were walking south in the 30s in Manhattan and It was a wonderfully light night, and Emi couldn’t resist capturing the sliver of the moon in its wondrous simplicity, lights were peeking through a few windows from very dark buildings. There’s a flicker of gold against the beautiful sky, to the right a tree is seen; it wants to be included also. This scene projects a sense of majesty at this moment on this night.

Emi is taking a last look at Philadelphia last Saturday as she leaves for Manhattan. The day was HOT! and it was HUMID! No matter, it looks serene. Nature is helping the people on the grass to relax – an abundance of trees, a soft blue sky, a bit of water will do that. The buildings are standing at attention, as if enjoying the scene, and appreciating the tranquility of a HOT and HUMID Saturday, compared to the busyness of a HOT AND HUMID Monday. All is well.

This is a casual scene in Rittenhouse Square Park in Philadelphia on Mother’s Day 2012. There’s a sign in the center where two people are sitting; it says: “free advice.” We laughed. It’s a neat idea, basically the sign tells nothing. So, someone sits facing the advisor, and then what? I like that. I wonder how much one pays for this “free advice.” the day is lovely, as is the art show surrounding the park. There’s a sweet expression on the face of the man in the orange shirt. Hey, why not, it’s Mother’s Day and he’s alive in this fascinating and mysterious world.

You might say there’s nothing special about the above photo. (lol, the above photo is gone! I’ll get it back. So, the first sentence of this paragraph is perfect.) And I’ll say, ahh, but . . . Emi took this picture a month ago as she was passing Paracelso because she knows it’s one of my favorite Manhattan shops. And that’s the reason I’d like to include it along with the other photos. Paracelso is not a run-of-the-mill shop; it’s very special to many people for quite a few reasons, as is the owner Luxor Tavella. Talk about staying power in the heart of SoHo where shops have come and gone through the years. Should you visit, don’t be put off by the face paint Luxor wears; she has her reasons. The following website will tell you a little about Luxor and Paracelso –
Thank you, Emi.

Tomorrow is the 4th of July, what will you be doing?

Oops! Emi texted that the park photo is of Central Park, and that it was sent by mistake via phone as she was leaving Philly. Well, a park in a big city with people relaxing is still a park in a big city with people relaxing no matter where it was taken, right? – Although, I admit I should have known:-(

sadhguru jaggi vasudev

You don’t go to bed with the nightly news on your mind, do you? Uh-oh, that would be like preparing for a night of insomnia, or a restless sleep. Why would you want that? Tell me you’d never think of going to sleep with the nightly news in your consciousness, or anything else of that ilk. I heard you, you said, no way. Wonderful!

A few nights ago, I looked at my bookshelf and there at eye-level was MIDNIGHTS WITH THE MYSTIC by Cheryl Simone and Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. I looked at the book and it was saying, it’s me you want. That was true. Even though I’d read it twice, it’s a book that needs to be read more than once.

Have you read MIDNIGHTS WITH THE MYSTIC A Little Guide To Freedom And Bliss? In the book, Cheryl Simone shares so much of her life with us – the parts she thought worked and the parts she knew were in need of an overhaul, for instance, deteriorating health, over-achiever, perfectionist, etc. Though it turns out that the parts she thought worked, also needed an overhaul. She begins the book by telling of her early life, then her professional life. It’s very personal which is vital to the story. However, a spiritual life is what she’s always wanted, and, well, at this point in time, we can say, desperately wants. However, no matter where she searches, no matter the teacher, progression is painfully slow for her. She notices the advancement of those around her, but, time and time again, she’s disappointed. Then she meets Sadhguru. Finally. . . .

He’s to stay at her place, and Cheryl arrives at the Atlanta airport to meet him. He’s come from India and they’re heading, with his assistant, toward the North Carolina mountains where Cheryl has a house on Glenview Lake in the midst of the rainforest. Cheryl’s mind is on the questions needing answers. She’s sitting next to the person she now calls her teacher, and she knows that he’s well-able to answer all of her questions. He’s behind the wheel; he likes speed. It’s an invigorating ride. She wastes no time, the conversation begins. . . .

The conversations in the late evening can have us wishing we were right there with them in the stillness of the night, by the lake with a fire at our feet, beauty all around, eating tortilla chips and salsa and learning about boundaries and boundlessness, and so much more. Their routine for one week is that Sadhguru stays in his room all day working, and in the evening after meals, and close to midnight, they walk to the lake, get in Cheryl’s boat, and head toward an area chosen by Sadhguru to talk and talk.

Ah, I can’t see how you’d ever regret reading MIDNIGHTS WITH THE MYSTIC, and learning about Inner Engineering, Sadhguru’s story, and the answers to all of Cheryl’s questions.
“Some people call it God, some people call it Allah, Einstein called it E, and we are calling it Ishwara or Isha.” – Sadhguru

Is it time to read?

Sweet dreams.

*. *. *. *. *. *. *

“self-realization is not given to you by the guru. He simply
removes the obstacles that are beyond your perception.”

There is a
Force within
that gives you life
Seek that
– Rumi


“The Gig” a Collaboration of musicians and dancers at Steps

I just went to a brilliant event constructed by Whitney G-Bowley, a dancer who while dating a drummer back in college, was inspired to see dance and music live onstage together. Cut to now. January 2011, Steps dance studio on Broadway between 74th and 75th Street in Manhattan. Caleb Hawley is singer/composer/musician of the night whose work is performed on a stage in the large studio. Caleb was on “American Idol” last week, and his songs are beyond clever and hysterical, a perfect fit for the dancers who brought each lyric to life and kicked and flipped through every piece. It was a super idea of Whitney to bring so many gifted artists together! Caleb and his band were energetic and had fun while playing a great show, and the five trained dancers visually entertained and wowed us all on this very freezing NYC night, in the airy creative womb of a supportive excited crowd.

“The Gig” is aimed to show at The Highline Ballroom in March. I will post the details when they become available. For now here’s the event’s website:

new york open center

The New York Open Center has been in the Soho area of NYC for 25 years, and for anyone walking miles of blocks, and tending to all sorts of things in that area, the meditation room and small bookstore is a nice respite. It’ll be different now because they’re heading on up and moving to 22 East 30th Street. The Spring/Summer Programs 2009 of the New York Center’s easy-to-read, and not jammed- packed catalog, says they’re: “NEW YORK’S LEADING CENTER OF HOLISTIC LEARNING & WORLD CULTURE.” I used to consider the Center a gift to New York because when it was founded there wasn’t a whole lot of holistic anything going on in the form of classes in the NYC area.

I called the administrative office for a catalog two weeks ago, and the informative person answering the phone mentioned that she’d taken the Bollywood Dancing course. The “Bollywood Dancing course”, hmm! – I thought, that course would definitely go on the slightly stepping out of the comfort zone list.

Now with the catalog in hand and late evening descending, I got to thinking about the courses offered, and the reasons people register for them. A few could be: enjoyment, learning, wanting a challenge, accompanying someone, meeting people, meeting people having similar interests, and stepping out of a comfort zone. I peruse the catalog once more wondering: 1) which course would take me out of my comfort zone. 2) which course would be completely different from anything I’d taken before. 3) which course do I think I have no interest in pursuing, but, in pursuing it, find it wholly interesting.

There are different ways of stepping out of our comfort zone, and I wonder if registering for a class is one of them. In the past, I imagined that stepping out . . . would entail leaving who we think we are, and the things allowing us to believe in who we think we are, for an unknown experience. Now I ask, does that have to mean leaving our physical surroundings?

By now it’s impossible to think of sleeping as I’ve all these questions to answer, and I’m doing all the work since I’m the one asking and answering, and it’s getting tricky. That’s okay, along the way I’ll feign boredom and mind will leave me alone. 🙂

Have a beautiful day.


There are lots of people up and about in the wee hours of a weekend morning though not the people going to or coming from work, but those ready for a whole night of socializing in whatever form that takes. The noises come loud and clear from the streets below and into my apartment. I don’t hear the noises though (well, I do and I don’t). A part of me is aware of them, and another part doesn’t acknowledge them. Maybe that’s from years of living in New York City, or just my way of processing things. The part that is aware hears screams, shouts, uproarious laughter, loud honks – weekend noises – of people who’ve come to Phila for night life, or perhaps people living in Phila trying to shake off their work week. The strong noises continue til sleep comes for me, the night owl, – not the outside night owls. After departing restaurants, bars, theatres, jazz spots, etc. weekend revelers seem to stop anywhere along the way to gather and have another drink to just prolong the evening. Some are single and can sleep the next day; Others with children, well, loss of sleep is the tradeoff for a night of ease and enjoyment. To the part of me that doesn’t acknowledge and is not sensitive to city noises, I say, halleluia. Otherwise, I’d need an assortment of ear plugs and a good sense of humor. Actually, I hope I have the last, and, if I do, I want it forever.

Now those country noises are an altogether different matter. I hear all of them that are soft and of nature, and I hear the silence, too. And they’re all acknowledged. Oh, yes.

old photos

I have a collection of photos that need frames. To find the right frame takes time. It’s easy to not hear what’s calling when in a hurry. So, I remember that patience will guide the picture to the right frame. It always does. Recently I inherited pictures that go back to 1918, the 1920’s, 1940’s, and onward. If I stay long enough with the old pictures I feel very relaxed. I get pulled into a different time when life was simple and seemingly more innocent. I look at the faces of the people. Many have died; I sit for awhile with the photos. It’s very quiet in my apartment at the moment. There’s no music, no tv, and no voices – except the ones in my head. I like it this way. If I stay quiet long enough my whole body becomes entirely quiet and the voices eventually go away.

******* ******* ******* ******* ******* ******* *******

“To be empty, completely empty, is not a fearsome thing; it is absolutely essential for the mind to be unoccupied; to be empty, unenforced, for then only can it move into unknown depths.” – J. Krishnamurti

before falling asleep

When you think about the world, and the world is as complex as it is, often it’s a struggle to know where to begin. Sometimes at night when I’m in a dark room, just before falling asleep, I think about my cozy surroundings. And then I think of the billions of people there are in the world all living different lives, having different dreams, feeling different emotions, thinking different thoughts. Many families and friends are saying hello to a newborn. Many families and friends are saying a last goodbye to someone well-loved. Soldiers and civilians are caught in fighting a war. Part of the world is saying goodnight; another part is saying good morning. And I think what an amazing world it is, and how much there is to see, to do, to know. And I’m glad I’m part of it. What about you?

completely still

Do you ever go to bed at night completely exhausted and wanting seven or eight hours of sleep, and three hours later you’re still wide awake? Or do you sometimes fall asleep only to wake up refreshed 30 minutes later? You want to have your wits about you when the day begins; however, you think the way things are going, that might not happen.

A book I purchased in Galway, Ireland gave me a new way of thinking about sleepless nights. Although I don’t have the book with me, I remember a few of the author’s words. She said not to be concerned about losing a night’s sleep, just relax and enjoy the quietness of the night. It’s a soothing way to think. When we can’t sleep we can be still and relaxed, tomorrow will take care of itself. We’ll be fine.

When I don’t fall asleep, I usually do one of two things. I listen to my discs on the POWER OF NOW by Eckhart Tolle , or I stay in bed and repeat a beautiful prayer. And when I repeat the words and concentrate on them, a calmness takes over. I give up the noise of the outside world and the thoughts in my head, and get into my own inner world. I read these beautiful words many years ago from a book written by Catherine Ponder, and have since read them in many other books. The prayer:

Be still, and know that I am God.
Be still, and know that I am God at work in this situation
Be still, and know that I am Supreme Good at work in this situation now
Relax, let go and let God
Relax, feel the peace of God
Feel the peace of God’s loving presence
Relax, let go and let God.

“When the mind is very quiet, completely still, when there is not a movement of thought and therefore no experience, no observer, then that very stillness has its own creative understanding. In that stillness the mind is transformed into something else.” -J. Krishnamurti, Indian Philosopher

the east river is choppy tonight . . .

It’s foggy and the East River is choppy tonight. Plenty of rain splashing everywhere. The wind screams. Sometimes loudly. Rain is not content to stay outside, there’s a leak between a wall and window in the apartment. Often need to wring three soaking rags to save the floor. Maintenance can’t come this week. The heat’s not on as filters haven’t been changed. It’s cold tonight. Boxes stand waiting to be moved when a new apartment is found. The night lights from boats coming and going on the dark river inspire. And sipping chamomile tea while watching the river quiets the mind. Placing blankets all around my body in the middle of the bed – a welcoming warmth settles in that spot. Nice! Said a soft prayer for people who are struggling tonight. Said a soft prayer of thanks. I’m not struggling.