Beauty So Close
I was born in Newton, Kansas, the land of Oz. My family moved to Elkhart, Indiana just before my seventh birthday. The Mennonite community, in which my family was a part, provided me with a wonderful sense of belonging and history. Singing in four-part harmony was standard fare in my church and my extended neighborhood family thrived on folk music. In 1965, after the massive "Palm Sunday Tornado" destroyed our neighborhood, my family and all our relatives and friends who lived on the same county road, got together every Saturday night for a hootenanny. The parents in the neighborhood began a folk group and called themselves "The Eleventh Hour." Soon, the girls around my age formed our own folk group and were dubbed, "The Half Past." I thumped the stand up bass, played recorder and sang. By the time we left for college, the younger kids had formed, "The Last Minutes." All three groups frequently performed locally. I started writing my own songs when I moved away from home and needed to keep myself company. In 1987, after nine years in Pennsylvania, my husband, Marv and I, and our kids Talitha and Peter moved to Vermont and soon joined the Hanover Friends Monthly Meeting. There was a period of about 15 years when I didn't write songs. Instead, I was raising my daughter and son, working full time, creating sculpture and painting. I worked for nine years as an art therapist, and have taught elementary school art since 1998. I teach my students how to mix colors, wash their brushes, score and slip their clay and how to use and clean their glue bottles through songs I've made up. In the year 2000, I began writing songs again in earnest, and in 2007-2008, I performed 18 free concerts called Songs of Hope, in Vermont, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Colorado and Indiana. In 2008, I worked with Pete Sutherland and Colin McCaffrey to produce my first CD, comprised of my Songs of Hope collection. The name of the album is called "Beauty So Close." The title song of the same name is dedicated to my mother, who was brutally murdered when I was thirteen. This album is a deep expression of my joy and peace. In 2005, I began speaking out against the death penalty with The Journey of Hope...from Violence to Healing, a grassroots organization that works to abolish the death penalty and advocates for healing for murder victim family members, rather than fanning flames of hatred and vengeance. Since that time I have continued to speak out against the death penalty, giving talks at Rotary Clubs, Lion's Clubs, churches, Quaker Meetings, high schools, universities and prisons. The opportunity to tell my story and help others find forgiveness has become a ministry and a deep blessing in my life. On top of all that, I am now a grandmother and life couldn't get much better. Mayla, at 8 months old has already begun playing the harmonica, kazoo and recorder. I feel the next folk band forming.