Saturday, December 8, 2012

Take Five

When Dave Brubeck died, I was reminded of our friend, Don Bogdan, who was a lover of good jazz. Don believed in the underlying hope offered to us by music, especially jazz. On clear, balmy nights he would sit outside on the terrace enjoying his last cigar of the day while listening to the raspy voice of Billie Holiday, the earthy tones of Ella Fitzgerald, the progressive sounds of Stan Kenton and the always dynamic Dave Brubeck.

He told me once that jazz made it easy for him to unwind from a particularly stressful day. He could relax, he said, while soft musical themes and moods waltzed through the night air as if holding hands with some of his fondest memories.

Don had loved music for such a long time that he knew which songs could make us sad, yet in the next moment make us glad. Music, he said, has its own language. It has no doctrine, no borders and no reason to do anything but attach itself to our senses.

Don believed that it had the power to draw people together even when it was unfamiliar. His appreciation for the originality of Stan Kenton and the creative genius of Charlie Parker had been honed over many years and many hours of listening. He knew jazz because he felt it in his bones, which is the same as knowing that the universe eventually carries us all toward joyful reunions. Don giggled when he was happy and he was happiest when listening to jazz.

Thinking of him today, I picture him lounging on a celestial terrace. The night is clear and balmy, he puffs on his last cigar of the day while surrounded by his chosen guests: Louis Armstrong, Oscar Peterson, Rosemary Clooney, Ella, and Charlie “The Bird” Parker. He smiles  while familiar melodies flutter through the air holding hands with his memories. And he giggles.

If it is true that jazz is the sound of God laughing, then I have no doubt that God, our friend Don and Dave Brubeck are listening to it together... and they are all laughing.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

High Cotton Christmas

My latest collection of Christmas stories was released on December 3. It's called, HIGH COTTON CHRISTMAS: Southern Christmas Stories and is available in print at and also on Kindle. I hope you will enjoy these stories as much as I loved writing them.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Let’s Wrap!

“The best gifts are wrapped in love and tied with heartstrings.”
~ Leap of Faith

Christmas is the season of wishes and dreams of wonder. It is in that spirit that I invite you to join me in creating a living symbol of the goodness surrounding us as well as the beauty it reflects.
If we only pull together we can build a gigantic Christmas tree designed and adorned by the power of love. We can trim it with people of all sizes and colors and light it with the brilliance of their imaginative ideas. The gifts we place underneath the tree can be plentiful because there is more than enough for everyone.
A white gift box contains Peace of Mind and a pink one Health. Talent and Abundance burst from confined packages like multicolored confetti! Faith, Hope, and Love bask in the glow of gold and silver, and a bright yellow gift opens up Enlightenment. Contentment? That one is wrapped in many different colors and designs.
At the very top of the tree, we can place a brightly shining star to illumine each gift, each life and each open door and call our star Freedom of Choice.
The largest gift of all is an unfilled box of Christmas Spirit. By putting ourselves into that box, it is possible to fill it with food for hungry people, solutions for drug and ecology issues and freedom for those still living behind walls of fear, hate, and ignorance.
Charles Dickens wrote, “I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.”
If we wrap up just that one thought, tie it with our heartstrings and place it under our tree, the world will have one Dickens of a Christmas!