GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS
I always like to start with the bad news just to get it out of the way: the bad news being that KPFK has shortened my program from an hour to a half hour, which is upsetting a great many people including me. Sometimes letters help-so if you are inclined to voice your objections you can send letters addressed simply to Station Manager and Program Director, and ask them to restore the half hour and the creative integrity of Halfway Down the Stairs.
The good news is about a wonderful former piano student of mine, Milagros, my star pupil for over five years at Frances Blend, a school for blind and partially sighted students.
A Valentine Weekend
(or, "What I did On My Valentine Vacation")
As my readers may have guessed after about five years (or more?), I am an Incurable Romantic and, naturally, my favorite holiday is Valentine's Day.
In May, my beloved Stanley will have been gone for three years, but it feels like yesterday.
Last year I spent Valentine's Day crying. This year I decided to live my own philosophy and seek and embrace Joy. So I invited my old first boyfriend to be my Valentine's Day date, and what followed were four days of fun, music, dining, performing, and, most important, friendship!
Bruce was my very first boyfriend when I was sixteen and he was twenty-one. We both married other people, multiple times, and, after a long search, Bruce found me, and, after a brief attempt at romance, we settled for affectionate friendship.
UNCLE RUTHIE'S CHRISTMAS REVENGE
December is here, Thanksgiving leftovers have been consumed or quietly thrown out, and the music teacher is making the rounds of classrooms to discover her role in the Holiday Program.
"Hi! Have you decided what song you'd like to sing for the program?" I already know the answer. Either Rudolph, Frosty, or Jingle Bells.
"We're doing Jingle Bells Rock. We have a CD."
"We're doing Frosty the Snowman. Can you play it?"
It's a stretch, but I tell them I'll try. I've only played Frosty 547 times.
The Treasure of Pico Robertson
I have lived in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood since I migrated to Los Angeles from the civilized Midwest in 1952. I love Pico-Robertson and until twelve years ago I thought I knew every inch of the mini-town where I married and divorced, where my kids went to Canfield School and Louis Pasteur Junior High, where my new husband, classical radio announcer, Bruce Buell shopped at Ma Gordon's Deli and came home with less than perfect pickles. (I think they knew he wasn't Jewish and wouldn't notice.) I now live on an amazing street, which is like a joyful kibbutz, where all are family, even the neighbors we can't stand. (Like the compulsively neat Mrs. N. who, each morning, carefully picks up every leaf on her lawn, and even more carefully deposits said leaves on the lawn of her next door neighbors!)
EDITING ROD McKUEN
The phone rings and it was my son, Dan. "Does the name Bryce Crenlofe ring a bell?" he asked, and I answered, "It rings a very sweet bell--why?"
"Because he got in touch with me today, somehow, and say she's been searching for you for sixty one years!"
"Omigod!," I shrieked, "Give him my number, and tell him to call me!"
Bryce Crenlofe was my very first boyfriend and my very first lover. I was sixteen and he was twenty-one. He was my little brother's counselor at a camp in Wisconsin, and my brother kept telling him, "You have to meet my sister, Ruth Ellen!"
My beloved husband Stanley Schwartz, died on May 25. He was in the hospital for two weeks, sleeping more and more, growing weaker and more fanciful each day. The doctors kept asking him questions which, in the morning he was able to answer more or less correctly, but his evening answers provided many surprises. One evening, a very nice neurologist asked, "What is your first name?" "Igor," answered Stanley.
Wo- he-lo breathes of work, health and love
The promise of our deep desire.
Calling from a million campfires gleaming
The pledges form a single cry.
(IN A PERSIAN MARKET - Camp Nawakwa lyrics)
In my last column I wrote about the farm where I lived the happiest part of my childhood. In this column I will tell you of my two summers in a concentration camp called Nawakwa. OK, it wasn't really a concentration camp. It was much worse. It was a summer camp for Camp Fire Girls. I went to Camp Nawakwa for two summers. Why, you ask? Because it was better than being at home with an abusive mother. I've written briefly about Cora, my mom, who was the darling of her family, the youngest and prettiest, and who entered into marriage clueless about raising children.(In later years, we were finally friends. But she was still difficult. I am probably the only person who saw the film, Mommie Dearest and left the theater jealous of Christina Crawford!)
As I looked into your eyes,
I beheld a glad surprise,
There is somebody waiting for me.
There is somebody waiting;
There is somebody waiting,
There is somebody waiting for me
“AND THEN THERE WERE NONE”
It is a beautiful summer day and I am performing at an exciting Summer Family Festival. There is much going on. Too much. MUCH too much! On my right is a trampoline, and a long line of yelling children waiting their turn. On my left there is a face-painting table. Close in back of me is a little bandstand with five teenagers playing their own rock and roll compositions.