Remedies & Portals

Creativity and inspiration are underused remedies and portals
to a more incredible existence.
How can we dispute
that we were meant to exercise our creative muscles?
For when we do,
We achieve
Better health and
The divine validation of creation.

Without the spirit-energy-induced prodding of a respected creative colleague, I would not have attempted the writing exercise that follows. This inspirational genius, Chez J. Bean, believes it is essential to, much like a fabulous organic salad, toss the creative process thoroughly. Then…


A Splash of Magic Elixir
A Dash of Exotic Seasoning
Grant Permission to Play
Float in Foolishness
Let Go of Limited Thinking
Unearth New Ways of Looking at Something
Experience the Wonder of the Process
Forge On Imperfectly
Embrace Non-Linear Practices
Move Forward Two Baby Steps
Slip Sideways
Make Stumbling Okay
Pay Tribute to the Wonder of the Moment
Swim Naked In Gratitude


Postscript: The next 15 entries below (whew!) represent the first draft of a chapter(s) in an upcoming novel. It is a work of fiction. This work is the intellectual property of Royce Addington and is protected by copyright.

A Handwritten Note

Michael’s Handwritten Note
Tues: January 11, 2000

This is so tough I can’t believe it. We are in Key West with no place to live. The good news is, we’re staying at the Casa Marina Hotel, on the Beach Boy’s KoKoMo Beach. We are very low on money. We have no car. Bought two $60 bikes at K-Mart. Today, Bruce in California said my Audi will be sold on Friday at 10:00 am – Thank God. I’m 46 years old. No job – I plan to sell real estate. Very interesting. Putting all the stuff we didn’t sell and brought with us in storage. We are trying to settle with Damian – He owes us so much money, more than 3 million dollars. Damian is mentally ill. He is a predator. I feel bad for him. 10th Street Job is going down the tubes. We don’t have the money to fight for our money. Daniel is not doing well. I feel Daniel is being destroyed by Damian too and that is killing him – How is it possible that identical twins could be so different? With Mom and Dad are Norman and Stanley - believing Damian over me, Daniel and Molly. Mom and Dad gave Enid their 2 million dollar house. Enid’s family moved in a week after we left California and she didn’t say one word to me. Again, Molly gets the shortest straw from Mom and Dad. Not to mention the rest of us. I never thought they could show more favoritism than changing the will but they did. Very sad. My family was my life and they totally betrayed and screwed me. New life now – I feel like I am losing a ton of weight. Molly is a love. I am lucky to have her as a sister. I hope she and Jack do well. Faye and I are closer down here. I am looking forward to a new life and success in real estate.


Growing older and liv’in life ain’t for sissies. After forty-four years, Faye knew this Bette Davis maxim to be an irrefutable fact. She sat on the cool terra cotta floor of her newly rented Key West bungalow reading the torn piece of binder paper on which Michael had written his thoughts. She felt a trespasser but didn’t stop reading. The words made her heart weep with his pain. She found it quite curious that he had neatly folded the crumpled paper in half and paper-clipped it to a glossy photo page of young innocent faces found at the bottom of one of the brown cardboard moving boxes he had kept out of the storage unit.

Formal Portraits

Formal portraits, each child framed within the professional school photographer’s perfectly aligned lens. The entire class precisely organized on one page. Twenty-four freshly laundered regulation white shirts. Twenty-three freshly laundered regulation white blouses. The boys had an open collar. The girls rounded collars were demurely buttoned-up with a western looking, bow tie at the neck. The faded black and white photos of Michael’s fifth grade class stared up at her from the dog-eared, water-stained album that his mother organized and put together some twenty years ago as a gift to her son.

The class of 1963-64. St. Anselm’s School. Sister Mary Agatha Rose, Principal. Miss Meehan, Teacher. Faye remembered Michael telling her about Miss Meehan, “Yes! Her name was pronounced Miss MEAN! And she was! Looking back, I’m guessing she didn’t like kids or maybe it was just boys. She even made Jimmy Wheeler cry. He was one of the toughest guys in the class, and she MADE HIM CRY! One day, Ms. Meehan was driving along in her car and caught Jimmy, Larry and me leaving the school grounds on our way to Bing’s to buy some candy, a strictly forbidden activity. When she discovered us, we were petrified and feared for our lives, literally! I’m not exaggerating!” Faye smiled at the memory of Michael’s wide and expressive sparkling blue eyes as he told her the story.

Michael’s class picture. Forty-seven cherubic Catholic souls looking so winsome. No longer babies but real little people with all the trials and tribulations that life had to offer. Faye’s thoughts drifted as she studied each face closely. Then, in the fourth row, second from left, she found Michael’s photo; his happy smile with a haircut so short it looked as though his ears stuck out from his head. Faye loved his ears. They were small for his head and had perfect conformation. The photographer must have had his ‘staging’ set at just the wrong angle, casting shadows and making most of the boys look as though they had large, protruding ears.

Faye felt an overwhelming rush of protective love for all the children on the page; particularly the one that stole her heart. Looking into their open faces, she couldn’t help but wonder what happened to each one of them. Did they have a happy childhood? Some of their eyes looked so serious, stressful, even sad. Was Destiny kind to them? How did each child’s unique and wholly personal thread come to express itself in adulthood?

Ten years old. In 1963, their lives were just beginning. And now, some thirty- five years later, questions crowded Faye’s mind. How many of them were still alive? Who had they become? Did any of their childhood dreams come true? Where did they live? What did they do? Who did they love? How many children did they have? Were they happy? Did any of them stay in touch with each other? Faye knew the answers for one little boy.

The Rhythm Method

Fertilization of a Human Egg

Faye, a proud ‘born again pagan,’ had to confess she owed the Roman Catholic Church a deeply heart-felt debt of gratitude. If not for their strict and rigorous teachings that artificial methods of birth control are irrevocably immoral because there is, after all, only one purpose of intercourse in a marriage – the procreation of children - then Faye would never have met Michael Duncan…for he wouldn’t have existed at all. Thankfully, the Church did, begrudgingly, approve of and suggest: If birth control were absolutely essential to the physical or psychological survival of a marriage then there was one, AND ONLY ONE, approved practice. The Rhythm Method.

Faye playfully guessed at how many of the wonderfully angelic faces were the result of ‘The Rhythm Methods’ abysmal failure. Fifty percent? Seventy- five percent? Studying the photo was akin to stepping on a Star Trek transporter pod; her thoughts disintegrating into a luminous energetic stream streaking through time and space to reassembly at a place long forgotten; her assigned desk at the prestigious San Domenico School for Girls. As one of only two non-Catholics in her class, Faye curiously observed her fellow classmates dutifully soaking in the Word of the Lord during the required hour of religious doctrinal teachings as offered by Sister Hubert, the gentle, but firm Dominican nun who ruled wisely, but compassionately, in her seventh grade classroom.

It was because of Sister Hubert that Faye created a secret tiny altar in the far back of her bedroom closet. She had taken two cardboard shoeboxes and covered them with a beautiful, hand-embroidered piece of perfectly pressed white fabric Nana had brought home from one of her round-the-world cruises. On top of this she carefully placed a miniature statue of the Virgin Mary, painted in soft pastel pinks and blues. Just before Thanksgiving vacation, Sister Hubert had given a statue to each member of the class as, “…a gift of gratitude for having such wonderful students.” Sister Hubert explained, “The Virgin Mary is always watching and listening, a kind and loving Mother to all of us. If you ever need to talk to someone, no matter what, she will be there to listen. Pray to her anytime and Blessed Mary will hear you.”

Those words gave Faye a great sense of comfort. Kneeling before this miniature shrine, she would wear a white starched and ironed pillow case on her head, secured with a black headband as though it were a veil; wondering what it might feel like to be a nun. She never told anyone about her secret refuge where she could escape when stressful, sad or scared.

Sister Hubert and her kind discipline possessed amazing power,

“Ladies, once again the Roman Catholic Church defines history. Our beloved Pope Paul VI confirms and upholds the traditional Roman Catholic rule, as outlined in his significant papal encyclical. He writes: “…each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life.”

Pausing, she looked around the room, her small rimless glasses sparkling from the glare of the overhead lights. She had perfected the art of a dramatic moment. Her impeccable posture, flowing long white robes, black veil and stiff wimple created a rather formidable presence; significantly adding to the impact of her words. The only sound that could be heard was the gentle clicking of her black rosary beads rhythmically bouncing against one another as she glided back and forth at the front of the classroom. Sister Hubert cleared her throat and continued, “Ladies, I must emphasize, the Roman Catholic Church opposes ALL METHODS of ARTIFICIAL birth control.”

Pregnant pause.

“However, it considers the Rhythm Method NATURAL and ACCEPTABLE.”

Sister Hubert, as though her words were a laser beam forever being branded onto their potentially miscreant minds, walked slowly and deliberately around the entire perimeter of the classroom before turning to the huge green chalk board. In perfectly formed letters that looked to be two feet tall she wrote:
THE RHYTHM METHOD: N-A-T-U-R-A-L & A-C-C-E-P-T-A-B-L-E, underlining the five words with great flourish as she announced, “Ladies, we will now see how Church doctrine is maintained through the discipline of science. Please open your biology books to page 19, where we will learn what exactly the Rhythm Method means, biologically speaking, of course.”

There was always an uncomfortable yet anticipatory riffle of excitement that hummed through the classroom whenever Sister Hubert approached anything close to the forbidden topic of S.E.X. It was on this day in 1968, that Faye always remembered with great fondness; for, without the teachings of Sister Hubert, she might not have known to thank the Roman Catholic Church for the love of her life. Blessed be the Rhythm Method.

As Fate Would Have It...

Monarch Butterflies in Flight
By: Raul Touzon

As fate would have it, Faye Monroe met Michael Duncan on a breezy spring afternoon in April 1973. Before that day their paths had crossed, unknowingly, several times. Growing up in the same small town, they had often been only steps from each other, literally; never realizing it.

It was five weeks before Faye’s high school graduation. Unbeknownst to her, she had been ‘sized-up’ as she walked down the wide, long corridor that led from the school’s main office to the library absorbed in thoughts about passing finals and the seemingly ominous decision of where to go to college. As discussed the previous day, Faye decided to pop her head into the Dean of Students office and say a quick “Hello” to Mr. Hennessy. The students knew him as ‘Satch’; at least when they weren’t in trouble. Satch mentioned to Faye there was someone he wanted her to meet, “So, stop by my office after class tomorrow, say around three.”
Faye was intrigued. A few minutes after three the next afternoon, she knocked on Satch’s door to see if he were in. Indeed he was and not alone. Sitting in a battered wooden chair across from his desk was a nice looking fellow with sandy-blonde hair and very muscular arms. Obviously, a weight-lifter.

Next to him, perched casually on the wide window sill was one very good looking, very tall, very strong guy. The ‘tall’ part struck Faye right away. Being six feet tall herself, one of her first prerequisites was height. At almost eighteen, she had finally become more comfortable with her unusual stature. Even the nickname, ‘Amazon Queen’ didn’t bother her so much anymore. Faye’s inner voice was busily yabbering, This guy is definitely tall. A jock. Great eyes. Great hair. I wonder who he is? Before she looked completely like a deer caught in headlights, Satch said, “Zel (another of Faye’s nicknames, from the basketball player Zelmo Beatty) I want you to meet two guys that used to go to school here and gave me nothing but trouble!” They all chuckled.

“This is Matt Hamilton, and that guy over there is Michael Duncan.”

Faye looked directly into his confident, mischievous sparkling blue eyes. This guy was a Hottie! Years later, over cocktails, Faye confessed to Michael, “I was so discombobulated the first time we met. I don’t even recall if we exchanged greetings or said anything to one another in Satch’s office.” Faye remembered nodding to Matt and Michael, trying desperately to look unimpressed as they discussed something to do with weight-lifting. How long she stood in Satch’s office remains a mystery. She felt partially paralyzed. Her stomach flitting-around like a herd of butterflies on speed. Finally, there had been a pause in the conversation; the perfect moment to take her leave as she uttered the appropriate, “Nice to meet you. Bye.”

Michael never knew it took an enormous dramatic effort by Faye to attempt a relaxed, indifferent exit from Satch’s office. Once, safely out of view, she practically ran down the echoing corridor and into her refuge. A ’65 Ford Mustang. That car was the love of her life. Her freedom. A soft, yellow exterior with black faux-leather bucket seats. Automatic. Brand new radio with hi-fidelity speakers. Wide tires with racy mags and Cherry Bomb high- performance glass-pack mufflers that rumbled in perfect pitch. Faye adored cars. Her friends teasingly called her ‘a greaser chick.’ She was a good driver and knew it. Faye liked nothing better than to drive fast with the windows down and the radio set to KFRC blaring Stepp’in Wolf’s ‘Born To Be Wild;’ the wind blowing her long cinnamon hair recently sun-streaked with blonde highlights, thanks to a revolutionary new product called ‘Sun-In.’ Those moments were her idea of pure heaven.

On that April afternoon, life was feeling very, very good to Faye Monroe. She pulled out of the high school parking lot and onto Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. Her pesky inner voice blared in her ear. Do you think he’ll call? No! Who are you trying to kid! Isn’t he that popular guy? Captain of the football team with Mark Lewis? Wasn’t he going with the star of the Senior Play, I think her name was Peg. Yeah, I bet that’s him. I heard they were supposed to get married. I wonder what happened. I wonder if he’s the same guy?

After several repetitions of this dialogue, Faye could feel the adrenaline buzzing through her system. On and on her mind raced. Whew, what was that all about? I’m trembling. I’m energized. I feel giddy. Geez, get over it! I wonder if he’ll call?

The White Princess Phone

The white princess phone sat on the bedside table. A birthday gift from Faye’s parents when she turned fifteen. Almost three years of constant use had taken a toll. She couldn’t begin to count the hours spent talking with her sister Blythe; sharing and solving so many of life’s problems. Even the soft, luminous light that came on when the receiver was lifted had worn itself out. Faye found herself starring at the phone, willing it to ring with a call from the infamous Michael Duncan. She had learned this little trick from her father. When you want something to happen, you must think about it happening first. See it in your mind. Faye practiced this exercise every night for four consecutive days before the phone actually rang and Michael Duncan was on the line.

Their first date was set for the following Friday night. Michael explained, “My father’s contracting company worked on the new Hyatt Regency Hotel in San Francisco. This will be a VIP grand-opening celebration for all those who worked on the project.” Michael's voice filled with pride, “I was one of the people who worked on the hotel. Would you like to go to the party with me?” Faye hesitated for what seemed an appropriate amount of time before answering, “That sounds great. What time will you be picking me up?”

“How about 6:30. Cocktails start at 7:00 and dinner to follow.
I think it’s a fairly dressy affair with music and dancing.”

Michael spoke so quickly. Faye paid very close attention in order to understand him. She had never heard anyone talk so fast. If Faye’s music teacher were to describe his speech, he would use the word staccato – quick, clipped, separate notes of enthusiastic sound.

Faye, of course, was impressed but tried to sound casual, “OK, see you at 6:30. Do you know where I live – in Sleepy Hollow?”

“I do. We lived out there for almost three years when I was in grade school.”

“What street did you live on?”

“My parents built a house on the corner of Butterfield Road and Sleepy Hollow Drive. Do you know where I’m talking about?”

Stunned, she answered, “Yes, I do! In fact, it’s almost directly across the street from my house. When did you live there?”

Michael sounded surprised as well, “Let’s see, from the 5th grade until the 8th grade. So, that would be 1963 until 1966.”

Faye interrupted him, “Were you that family with lots of kids? Were you always outside playing basketball and riding bikes?”

Michael laughed, “That was us! Amazing. We lived across the street from each other and never met. How is that possible? Sleepy Hollow was like that.”

Tucked Away...

Tucked away in a picturesque rolling valley just a few miles north of downtown San Anselmo; Sleepy Hollow had many dramatic and interesting incarnations. In Mrs. McBride’s fourth grade class at Hidden Valley School, Faye learned the land’s early history included Miwok Indians and Spanish land grants. It was even said an old Spanish trunk filled with gold coins had been hidden and never found. In 1850, the valley became a dairy farm leased by one Harvey Butterfield. The dirt trail that led to the dairy was known by locals as ‘the road to Butterfield’s place.’ Learning Sleepy Hollow had been a dairy made sense to Faye. It solved the mystery of all the huge bones she was always discovering in the large creek that curved behind their house.

The icy-cold clear water slowly tumbled over large smooth rocks as it traveled along the valley floor, all the way to the Pacific ocean. In spots, the water was even deep enough to swim. She spent hours searching for the lost Spanish treasure, uncovering more cow bones in the process. Over the years, Faye amassed an amazing and unusual collection that she proudly displayed in the old gardening shed that sat at the far end of the orchard. The dilapidated structure’s roof had been constructed using sheets of corrugated green plastic which created a strange glowing light on the interior, making it all the more mysterious and just a little bit scary.

Once, on a hot summer Saturday, Faye discovered a huge beautiful pink and silver fish struggling to swim in the shallow waters upstream. She ran to tell her father. He was hard at work raking up the swollen overly-ripe fruit that had fallen from the peach, fig and plum trees in the orchard. Excitedly, she grabbed his hand and dragged him down the steep rocky slope to show him. He was astonished and explained that the fish was called a wild salmon. That was the day Faye learned about the wonder in nature called spawning. She loved listening to her father’s handsome voice and the words he used to teach and explain things. It made her feel respected and intelligent.

For Miss Noble's Fifth Grade Class

Hotaling Mansion Steps
Photo by: Paul Penna

For Miss Noble’s fifth grade class, Faye had to write a very important report on Sleepy Hollow’s history. Part of the grade involved reading her report in front of the class. This made her nervous but she was determined to get an “A.” Faye walked three miles to the San Anselmo Library in order to look at the historical archives. The kindly librarian, Mr. Phelps, helped her find what she was looking for. An old, sepia-coloured book explained: In the mid-to-late 1800s, a Mr. Peter Austin acquired the land. He planted the now-famous eucalyptus and poplar trees lining “Butterfield’s Road” to create a shaded canopy leading to his planned luxury hotel, golf course and artificial lake. Almost immediately, Austin had to abandon his life’s dream due to financial loss and foreclosure. He sold the property to the wealthy, eccentric Hotaling family. They owned A.P. Hotaling & Company Whiskey Distillery located on historic Jackson Street in San Francisco. The Hotalings built an impressive mansion at the end of Butterfield Road, featuring a Romeo and Juliet style balcony to accommodate their many plays and famous bohemian-style parties. The Hotalings named their grand estate ‘Sleepy Hollow’ in honor of a close friend and favorite author, Mr. Washington Irving, who penned The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.

For reasons lost in time, living the country life grew boring for the cosmopolitan Hotalings. Faye liked to think they had been haunted and frightened away by old Indian spirits. The Hotalings returned to San Francisco. They sold their estate to dairy farmer, Sigmund Herzog. In 1910, Sleepy Hollow became the first certified milk dairy in the United States.

By the 1930s, Herzog’s dairy had been transformed into a beautiful golf course; the first play-as-you-go, 18-hole course in the West known as the second largest golf course in the world. The golf club disappeared in 1939. The land was given to the U.S. Army in preparation for World War II. Secret bunkers and stockpiles of artillery and ammunition were hidden in the hills. Military trucks, filled with armed-guards, patrolled Butterfield Road. It became ‘off-limits’ to the public.

Faye kept reading. The famous Hotaling mansion survived all of these transformations. Then, in 1946, a Mr. A. G. Raisch purchased the house and an additional five hundred acres for the then princely sum of $50,000. Not to be outdone by the property’s notorious history, the rakish and globe-trotting Mr. Raisch held lavish parties.

Faye remembered her grandmother, Nana Mil, telling stories about cocktails for six hundred being made in cement mixers while live orchestras played under crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceilings of beautiful striped canvas pavilions installed on the grounds.

Mr. Raisch’s impressive estate sat vacant most of the time. Mysteriously, it burned to the ground in 1957. Only the concrete basement walls surrounding the empty indoor swimming pool and a wide set of sweeping stone steps remained.

Ever the adventurous tomboy, Faye made numerous solitary expeditions to the charred remains. On foot, it took her almost half an hour to get there. Inevitably, she would stop-in at the Sleepy Hollow stables to pet the horses and watch the giant goldfish swim in the outdoor metal drinking troughs. By bike, it took her half the time.

The abandoned stone staircase and enormous vault that had once been a magnificent swimming pool were far spookier than anything she saw on Saturday monster-movies. She made a great adventure of sifting through the bits of expensive broken china, crystal, burnt-out appliances, ruined antique furniture, scorched draperies and other intriguing artifacts that had been abandoned. Faye fancied herself an archeologist looking for undiscovered treasures.

Sometimes, Faye arrived to find a group of boys rummaging through the site. Everyone loved to climb down into the pool and run across the steep slope to the deep end. They made a race of it. Back and forth. Faye would watch from above, perched on the highest stair which overlooked the basement. How many times did I nod and smile at the boy whose life and future would become inextricably woven with mine?

The Dominican Order of the Roman Catholic Church purchased the land in the early 60s. Their new acquisition extended from the end of Butterfield Road, far back, into another undeveloped valley and surrounding hills. The Dominican nuns had innovative plans. In 1965, their new ‘state-of-the-art’ school opened its doors. The ‘Lower School’ referred to grades 1-8. The ‘Upper School’ grades 9-12. The beautiful and expansive campus included an equestrian center, tennis courts, a hockey field, an Olympic-size swimming pool, as well as a student center, dormitories, gyms, a cafeteria and dining room, a music school and a lovely small chapel. The vacant cavern of the original pool disappeared. But, the stone stairway of the Hotaling mansion was restored and became the revered location for Upper School graduations.

In the Fall of 1966

Artist: E. Loren Soderberg

In the fall of 1966, Faye started the 6th grade at San Domenico’s Lower School. She smiled each time she pedaled her shiny new gold Schwinn Stingray bicycle past the haunted Hotaling stairs on her way to class each morning. Faye knew all the secret places and trails that existed on campus and spent many afternoons exploring and climbing to the top of the rolling hills. Lying on her back and disappearing in the tall sweet golden grass fueled Faye’s vivid imagination. Her weightless thoughts floated up to hitch a ride on one cloud and then another as they changed shape and moved across the sapphire blue sky to Scotland, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Australia and beyond; taking her to visit her sister, Blythe, and all the places she dreamed of seeing someday.

By 1960, the stately eucalyptus trees, planted in the 1800s by Peter Austin, had grown into huge towering pillars. This pungent green canopy lined both sides of Sleepy Hollow’s two lane road as far as the eye could see. Austin’s landscape design had been successful. The impressive trees created an impression of motoring down the most spectacular of driveways. Extending almost three miles back into the valley, this avenue ended at the entrance to San Domenico School. Charming side streets meandered off Butterfield Road, both left and right, up into the hillsides with street names that were pure delight to anyone who knew about Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle.

There was nothing else in the world like experiencing the spooky festive night of fun-loving spirits on All Hallow’s Eve in Sleepy Hollow. Every year, Faye and her friends looked for the headless horseman to come galloping down Butterfield Road with his cape flying. The thought of it gave her delightful shivers.

Faye knew Michael had to have knocked on her front door to say, “Trick or Treat.” How many times did I look into his eyes as a child, never realizing my future was standing right before me. All these years later, Michael still teased her, “Want some candy, little girl? Tricks and Treats! ”

From Faye’s earliest memories, the entrance to Sleepy Hollow was designated by rather simple, rough-hewn, ranch-style wooden gates that had been constructed on each side of Butterfield Road. On the left gate, a large sign announced, ‘Sleepy Hollow.’ These mysterious words separated the development from the rest of San Anselmo. Every time she passed by, she would glance over to the inviting red house tucked back among the lush green trees. Jon Carroll and his brothers lived in that house. He was in her class every year until the sixth grade and she liked him very much. He was kind to her and a rebel. Faye envied his freedom, toughness and independence.

When Faye’s parents first drove through the rustic gates into Sleepy Hollow in 1961, they were mesmerized by the behemoth lots. Some of the ‘estates’ approached three acres in size. The impressive trees, the charm, the beautiful homes were captivating. Buying the sprawling and romantic ranch-style home on Butterfield Road was almost a miracle for the young couple.

At twenty-nine and twenty-six, Stewart and Jan Monroe couldn’t afford the original asking price. But Faye’s father, a handsome, brilliant and bold entrepreneur, looked the elderly Italian owner in the eye and explained that this was the house of their dreams, the home where they wanted to raise their children. All they could afford was substantially under the asking price. The owner, a wonderfully kind and gentle man, decided to give the handsome young couple one of the greatest gifts of their lives. He agreed to the price they could pay.

Faye lived on Butterfield Road until she left for University in 1973. Her parents, her sister Blythe, and brother Quigs lived there another four years before choosing to trade-in what had become a cosmopolitan and sophisticated lifestyle for a beautiful log home built on a secluded lake hidden in the majestic mountains of western Montana. Seeley Lake High School’s basketball coach believed his prayers had been answered when Quigs walked onto the court as a six foot, five inch junior.

In 1963, Michael’s parents fell under the same spell of Sleepy Hollow. Barry and Edith were thirty and twenty-nine, respectively, when they bought a lot and began building their large new custom home on the corner across from Faye’s parents’ house. Edith was pregnant for the seventh time, and they had quite literally outgrown their existing home. The five bedrooms planned for Sleepy Hollow Drive would be a dream come true for the young and prolific couple.

Their kids, all six of them, were a humming hive of seemingly inexhaustible activity. The boisterous sound of children’s happy voices, laughter, splashing in a pool, doors slamming, and basketballs hitting a backboard filled the quiet neighborhood air. The new family across the street made a huge impression on Faye. She wondered if any of the children were twins. She had seen a TV movie about two boys who were identical twins. They looked exactly alike. So much so, even family members couldn’t tell them apart. One of the boys had a good heart. The other boy was evil. He lied. He stole things. He set his brother up to take the blame for things he did. In the end, the evil brother destroyed the good brother. The story had upset Faye so much she had a hard time going to sleep that night.

When Faye explained to her mother how much the movie had upset her, Jan Monroe became exasperated, “They shouldn’t be showing stories like that on TV! Kids are watching, for heaven-sake! These silly dark movies are just made-up. They don’t happen in real life. Don’t take it seriously. Next time, change the channel. Or better yet, turn it off! Go outside and breathe-in some fresh air. That blasted box is dangerous. I’m beginning to think, you shouldn’t watch it at all!”

Faye wasn’t convinced. The story seemed so real. She decided to talk with Blythe, her best friend and sister, about it. Every Sunday, Faye was allowed ten minutes on the phone-call to Italy. She had learned to be prepared for these calls. Sharing her week, full of details, was a challenge. Faye didn’t want to forget to update Blythe about the new family across the street. She knew Blythe would tell her to walk over and introduce herself. Faye knew she wouldn’t do it. It wasn’t about courage. She was just comfortable and happy being alone.

Faye Was The Oldest Child of Three

Artist: Marta Lavandier

Faye was the oldest child of three. Her sister Blythe, almost two years younger, was born with extraordinary gifts. A precocious child, Blythe lived away from home most of the year. At the tender age of eight, she already spoke three languages fluently and played the clarinet with such beauty and grace that it brought tears to the eyes of all who heard her music.

Faye’s parents agonized over the decision to allow Blythe to study with the greatest and most revered teacher alive, Italian Maestra Marina Sturmizi. Maestra Marina was not only exceptionally brilliant and beautiful, but a kind and loving human being. She assured Faye’s parents that Blythe would live with her in Italy and be treated as a member of the family. Maestra Marina believed in disciplined structure; it was important for Blythe to study in three- month increments. The fourth, eighth, and twelfth month of each year, she would be allowed to return home to be with her family in California.

Blythe took to this arrangement like a delighted mermaid to water. She loved living at Vizcaya, Maestra Marina’s amazing storybook villa. The household was a boisterous one: Three happy dogs who thought of themselves as human beings; the gregarious and kind housekeeper, Signora Soila; her gentle husband Leo who tended the vast and enchanting gardens; Kimo, Marina’s coveted vegetarian chef from Tahiti; and Twink, Kimo’s extraordinary girlfriend, an irreverent and brilliant bohemian who had won Maestra Marina’s respect and became her personal assistant. Twink was fiercely protective of Maestra Marina. In short order, everyone realized an irrefutable fact: To schedule time with the Maestra, one had to get on the good-side of Twink.

Italy was the most beautiful and magical place Blythe had ever seen. The romantic colors and diffused golden light were magnificent, straight out of a fairy tale. It frustrated her no end that she was unable to describe the beauty to Faye over the phone. When Blythe practiced her clarinet outside on the Villa’s ancient stone terrace, she felt an incredible lightness; being so completely present in the moment that time ceased to exist at all. She became one with the music, giving away her heart and opening her soul.

Because of her heightened perceptions and gifted intellect, Blythe loved to read all that Einstein and Carl Jung had written. She was the first to admit she didn’t understand most of it yet her private tutors encouraged her to keep reading and asking questions. Every day became an adventure in learning. She never studied in a classroom, but instead learned by interacting with each new environment. The many field trips to libraries, museums and days spent exploring ancient gardens were among her favorite activities.

Working side by side with Leo in the villa’s impressive gardens, the kindly gardener taught Blythe to identify and nurture each of the sensual flowers, tender plants, herbs and vegetables. He explained to her that gardening was much more than digging in the dirt, pulling weeds and hoeing. Gardening was an exquisite art form; a process requiring great respect, care, patience and love. Plants were powerful. Leo shared secrets, learned from his grandmother, and her mother before her. One November afternoon, Leo pointed to a wistful clump of ‘naked ladies.’ Blythe knew them to be autumn crocus.

Colchicum autumnale. According to my great-great grandmother, the Romans discovered these rather sad looking flowers produce an amazing tonic which cures gout.”

Blythe looked puzzled, “Leo, what is gout?”

“Gout is a painful malady, often excruciating. It causes joints to swell, especially in the toes and feet. A tincture made from the autumn crocus, in very small doses, will cure it. My grandfather was a one-man spokesperson, attesting to its miraculous power. He was so proud of my grandmother’s ability to heal people. I remember her gentle hands. She never turned anyone away from their door.”

The antique marble-topped iron table in Vizcaya’s entry hall always had the most glorious profusion of towering fresh flowers handpicked by Leo. Twice a week, like clock-work, Signora Soila lovingly arranged them in a huge clay pot glazed the color of green olives. On chilly evenings, especially when she missed her home in California, Blythe liked nothing better than to stop and inhale the sweet heady fragrance of the wondrous bouquet as she crossed the hall into the Villa’s impressive library.

The library was Blythe’s favorite room. A quiet oasis that invited dreamers to indulge their imagination. A place where anyone in the household could curl-up with a favorite book and disappear into the story. The inevitable tensions of everyday life were to be left outside. Any residue of stress seemed to be magically absorbed by a deep sense of peace and serenity. The stucco walls, a mottled pale shrimp-pink, were filled, floor to ceiling, with every imaginable book. As the companionable fire crackled in the massive stone hearth, Blythe could read about anything: Music, art, design, gardening, travel, philosophy, health, cooking, classic literature, history and, to her delight, there was every single volume of first-edition Nancy Drew Mysteries. Books were dear friends. She never felt lonely around them.

The embrace of an enormous wraparound wing chair covered in the softest fade-gold velvet had become ‘hers.’ Blythe talked to her family from this chair every Sunday afternoon. Snuggled into the soft feather-down cushions, she would cradle the ivory coloured old-fashioned receiver as though it were a magical glowing device that connected her to California. The library was a sanctuary; providing the necessary respite away from her beloved music.

Blythe knew she had been born to play the clarinet. Even the endless hours of intense practice brought her a sense of joy and satisfaction. She loved traveling to new and exciting places. In the last three months, performances had taken her to London, Barcelona and Australia. But going home to share secrets with her best friend Faye, and be the ‘older sister’ to their new younger brother, Quigley, filled her heart with a happiness she knew nowhere else on earth.

Of course, Blythe and Faye had their disagreements but unlike most sisters, they were kindred spirits. Blythe was filled with excited anticipation because she had sent Faye a special gift for her birthday; a beautiful poem in a simple wooden frame discovered at a small antique shop in the local village. Above the poem, the artist had drawn an arch; as though looking through a window out onto a beautiful Italian garden bursting with softly hued flowers. Roses, snapdragons, sweet peas, iris, daisies and hydrangeas. Leo had taught her well, Blythe could name every flower in the print.

The hydrangeas reminded her of home. One day, Blythe hoped to show Leo and Signora Soila her beloved Butterfield Road. She knew they would clap their hands in spontaneous delight to see the row of massive blooms which lived below the wide front veranda leading to the perfect, glossy-white front door. One beautiful summer day, Blythe had helped her mother pick the perfect hydrangea to take to the paint store. The front door paint had been meticulously mixed to match the pure, fresh white of the exquisite flower.

Along the entire length of Butterfield Road were masses of pink, purple, blue and white hydrangeas. Camellias, peonies, rhododendrons and precisely trimmed hedges defined the old brick walkways which welcomed everyone. Huge old roses, the color of sunshine and red ruby slippers, climbed on the crisp white fences. A massive wisteria vine encased a secret patio garden dripping long heavy cones of purple flowers that almost touched the ground. Blythe knew Faye would love the painted flowers and the poem by J. P. McEvoy. Written some thirty years before she was born, in 1924, it explained their bond perfectly. “You are my friend – you warm my heart. In all my thoughts you have a part. In all I say, in all I do, there is a comforting bit of you. I see your smile. I feel your hand. I hear your voice and understand. No word will mar, no deed will end. This comradeship of ours, my friend.”

Until their baby brother made an appearance, Faye and Blythe had grown up almost exclusively among adults; they had nothing to which to compare it and felt perfectly comfortable spending their days in the company of people much, much older. In fact, they found other children rather silly and babyish. Faye and Blythe thought of themselves as adults trapped in children’s bodies. Years would pass before they recognized the irony; how vital it was never to lose touch with their child-like wonder and enthusiasm for life. It was one of the most important things.

Ten-Year-Old Faye

Ten-year-old Faye sat on the long antique piano bench in the formal living room of Butterfield Road. During their last phone chat, Blythe hinted that she had sent Faye something ‘special’ for her June birthday. After a maddening and frustrating forty minutes of required piano practice, Faye swiveled around on the bench to watch for the postman. Her attention was diverted by the crew of young workmen, the huge yellow tractors and the veils of sand-colored dust drifting through the air from across the street. A new house was being built on the corner. The construction process fascinated her. She wanted to get a closer look but her mother wouldn’t allow it. Butterfield Road was a busy street; strictly off limits to Faye without her parent’s permission. Faye had also learned there seemed to be an unwritten social rule of maintaining distance between neighbors. Privacy was well-guarded. Neighbors didn’t just drop in on one another. Even getting the mail had an established routine and social etiquette.

Across the street from their house, the Monroe’s weathered mail box sat next to five others, in a perfect symmetrical row, shaded by the tall leafy trees overhead. Faye had a front row seat on her piano bench and could watch the distinctively noisy old post truck pull up and then leave so quickly she started to time each delivery with the metronome; that odd little device meant to teach musical tempo. Using an adjustable pendulum, the arrow-shaped arm would ‘click, click, click’, creating a perfectly timed beat. She was always devising eccentric little experiments; guessing if the postman would deliver the mail in ten clicks, or twelve. After several weeks, she stopped setting the metronome, as most all the deliveries took sixteen clicks and the experiment lost its allure.

Neighbors rarely, if ever, got their mail at the same time. This unspoken understanding precluded any possibility for leisurely chats or exchange of gossip. Sometimes, Faye would catch a glimpse of the mysterious, grouchy old man that lived directly across the street, next to the new house being built. He was a shadowy figure and quite intriguing as his large front yard was wild and overgrown; the house nearly invisible because it sat far back on the lot, almost completely hidden by the tangled web of ivy and vines twisting every which way.

Only a small square section of French windows could be seen sparkling in the morning sunlight. A ten-foot fence with wide heavy gates did not allow access to anyone without special permission, which was granted by pressing a black button on a square metal box installed on a post. Faye had even seen people talk into a vented opening as they pushed the black button. Once, when she had been allowed to pick up the mail, she looked closely at this device; wondering if he might be a secret agent or spy.

One of the highlights of Faye’s piano bench matinee was watching the grouchy old man pick up his mail. He would open one side of the huge creaking gate, just a crack, and peek out to see if anyone was about. When the coast was clear, he made a mad dash to the post box and then back behind the gate. It all seemed very suspicious to Faye. Years later, married to Michael, they happened upon a conversation about this grumpy old man. Michael told her, "When Dad began building the new fence between our yards, he nailed the wide boards to some of the existing posts of the grumpy old man’s fence. The grumpy old man came running out of his house yelling and hitting the newly installed fence boards with a sledge hammer. I remember Dad getting so mad I thought he might get into a fist fight with the guy. But it didn’t go to blows. Needless to say, our ‘neighborly’ relationship remained tense the entire time we lived in the house. I don’t believe my parents ever spoke to him. Once, an off-hand remark was made that he might have been in the Witness Protection Program. Whoever he was and whatever his story, the grumpy old man was full of pain and unhappiness and he hated kids! I’m guessing that might be one of the reasons we moved. We didn’t know any of our neighbors, including you! We had come from a neighborhood, Morningside, where we knew everyone. When we moved to Oak Avenue from Sleepy Hollow, we made friends quickly and knew all our neighbors again. Sorry to say, but The Hollow was not a neighbor-friendly place.” Michael paused and laughed, “Or, maybe, it was us! The Duncan family was a household filled with noisy confusion and activity. No doubt we created quite a commotion in the neighborhood.”

Faye Awoke With A Start

Coconut Cluster
Artist: Rich Reid

Faye awoke with a start. The loud forceful ‘bang’ also alerted the dogs. Alarmed and confused, they responded with a stressful caterwauling of high-pitched barking. Old Duke, the loving white German shepherd, was still extremely nervous from all the chaos that was part and parcel of their move to Key West. Max, a calm mastiff, had settled in, but was never one to let an unidentified noise pass without a ferocious bark.

Falling asleep on the floor in an upright position with her back against the sofa and two lumpy cushions propped under her head had created an almost paralytic stiffness in body joints Faye didn’t even know existed. More slowly than she would have liked or would admit to, she awkwardly pushed herself up off the floor and went to investigate. In her harried struggle to regain control of her petrified body and jump to a standing position, she had forgotten about the glossy black and white photo of Michael’s fifth grade class. It slipped from her hand. The photo sailed across the room landing face up, in the dog’s water bowl. Quickly and carefully she grabbed one corner before it submerged; saving it, just in time, from drowning. With the precision of a surgeon, Faye set the photo on the pristine white kitchen countertop. The damage was minimal. No smearing or tears. In a few minutes, the photo would dry and the potentially disastrous mishap forgotten.

Weaving her way through the obstacle course of battered moving boxes, stacked one upon the other, Faye opened the front door of their charming little bungalow to see if she could determine what had caused the unusual explosion of noise. All was blissfully quiet. No one out and about. She scanned the tiny front garden and narrow walkway that led to the parking areas for the new development of miniature Conch cottages. Smack in the middle of the path was one very large green coconut gently rocking, almost imperceptibly, back and forth on its lopsided posterior. Looking above her head, Faye discovered the lush palm tree's veritable bumper-crop of coconuts. One, the size of a football, had fallen. Obviously, it had bombarded the metal roof of the front porch and then landed in the path. Picking up the offending missile, Faye felt rather smug about the brilliance of her deductive abilities. Now that her joints had unfrozen, she skipped up the few steps and back into the house. She placed her first Key West coconut, as a centerpiece, on the freshly scrubbed pine dining table.

A coconut! The thought thrilled her. It became a symbol; concrete evidence that she was no longer dreaming but had, in fact, actually survived the emotional brutality. The attempts to assassinate her professional reputation and her optimism were in the past. She had not succumbed to the crushing jealousy and hatred. Instead, she had willingly leaped into an unknown torrent that was carrying her away to a new life. She chose freedom. Even if it meant letting go of Michael and leaving her beloved Stinson Beach in California.

Walking over to where the dogs sat, side by side, Faye lovingly kissed each one on top of the head. Then, as though stating a proclamation, she spoke to Duke and Max, knowing they understood,

“WE ARE HERE TODAY! It’s a warm and balmy February morning in Key West. We are ‘HOME’ in our own funny little bungalow. WE MADE IT! We live on a beautiful tropical island thousands of miles away from the people who have hurt and betrayed us beyond wildest imaginings. That hurtful, dysfunctional history will NOT repeat itself. I feel an almost spiritual, devout thanksgiving for my FREEDOM!” Remembering the emotional power of writer Rebecca Wells ‘Ya Ya Sisterhood,’ Faye raised her arms above her head in triumph and yelled, “YA!YA!”

Enemy. Such An Ominous Word

Enemy. Such an ominous word. But appropriate. No matter how long she lived, Faye would never fully understand why those she had deeply loved, appeared to be almost eager to find reason to hate her. They had been so easily duped and persuaded by bold-faced lies and manipulations. Like a diabolical artist, Damian meticulously labored for five years to sculpt an image of her as professionally ignorant, greedy, hurtful and a wholly hateful influence on the Duncan Family, personally and in business. Edith and Enid agreed, eager to jump on the bandwagon. They had known all along. Faye, that arrogant bitch, was a despicable threat to the family’s order and happiness.

Even Enid’s husband Rodney remained silent. The day he asked Faye and Michael to meet him for lunch at the Good Earth CafĂ© in Larkspur Landing, he swore them both to secrecy about the rendezvous. Rodney was miserable and felt trapped. The Duncan family web of deceit, competition, jealously and manipulation swirled around him.

When Rod walked into the restaurant, Michael and Faye could see something was terribly wrong. He usually looked impeccably groomed. But on that afternoon, his shirt was un-tucked. His jet black hair disheveled. His dark Hawaiian eyes were red-rimed and filled with desolation. Faye wondered if he had been crying.

Rod spoke from the heart, telling Faye and Michael how much he regretted the day he moved back from his childhood home in Hawaii to accept a position with the Duncan family firm. Enid had been adamantly unbending on the matter. Now, Rod felt coerced, trapped, used and disrespected. His five wonderful children were still so young, he couldn’t leave. He loved each one of them immeasurably.

Michael and Faye said almost nothing. Rod just needed someone to listen,

“Michael, I know you are a Duncan. I’m sorry if I offend you. I know Enid is your sister.”

“Rod, it’s OK. I’m sorry you are so unhappy. As you’re well aware, we’re not the most popular people with my sister.”

Before picking up his cup of coffee, Michael reached across the table and gave Rod a supportive pat on the forearm. Rod looked at Michael with such a deep sadness, “If you knew what Edith, Enid, Stan and Norman said about the two of you. About your brother, Dan. And your sister, Molly. Well, let’s just say, it’s none too flattering. Damian stirs the pot at every opportunity. He particularly targets your mother with his seductive charm. She giggles like a school girl around him when he calls or drops by the office. I see right through it. Damian is superficial, glib and manipulative. He has learned to play the perfect victim for your parent’s benefit, sharing how frustrated and upset he is about working with Dan. How he struggles financially, because of it. Then, he talks about the joint venture work. How you both know nothing. Do nothing. All you want is money. Always, asking him for money. I shouldn’t be telling you this. But they all do it. They viciously dissect one another, behind each other’s backs. Constantly! I’ve become a character in a malicious soap opera.”

Rod took a long, restorative sip of icy beer. Faye noticed his hand was trembling. Rod bowed his head in despair, “Speaking of victims, or should I say first-class sissies. You’re looking at one. I feel completely victimized. Not by Damian, but by Enid and your parents. They convinced me I had a bright and financially rewarding future with G.W. Duncan Painting. I gave up my career opportunities in Maui based on their promises and, of course, to make Enid happy.”

Rod’s voice revealed a spark of resentment, “Now, there’s a challenge! Nothing is ever good enough for her. Nothing. Enid always wants more. More money, more status, more control. I’m so tired of trying to make her happy. She and your mother are like Siamese twins, planning their lives. They see me as a necessary evil, to be endured. I’m a pawn in Enid’s ‘master plan.’ A sperm donor. I’m a prop on the stage of her life. Not OUR life. HER life.”

Rod’s face was a portrait of grief, anger and guilt, “Michael, did you know your dad and brothers didn’t say one word to me when they were planning their exit from G. W. Duncan? Not a god damn word! My own father-in-law talks me into leaving Hawaii to come work with him. Then, he leaves the company! Your dad had the arrogance to tell me I would be happy and have a better future with G. W. Duncan, rather than joining him, Norman and Stan. This is after he tells me how much he hates the business partners at G. W. Duncan. HATES THEM! Does he think I’m that stupid? Obviously, he does.

“Then, when Enid convinced Edith I needed to be involved with the new family company – Barry Duncan and Sons, I get a phone call from your brother Stan. We meet. He offers me a job but makes it very clear. VERY CLEAR. I will only be an employee of the company. I will never be given the opportunity to become a partner. His hubris, his arrogance made me sick. This is a guy who, like Damian, rides on others shirt-tails to success, yet, they think their wealth is self-made. What a joke!

You want to know the most revolting part of this whole damn drama? I’ve gone along. With all of it! I’m manipulated and controlled by Enid, your parents, your brothers. It’s as though I’ve left my balls in a jar by the door every time I go home or into the office. I tell myself I do it for my kids. And, I do. To leave now would impact them for the rest of their lives. So, I’ll wait until they’ve grown up. Maybe things will get better. I’m just not sure how much longer I can take it. Life can really suck! I’m not sure of anything, anymore.”

It’s funny how forgotten memories appear at the most unexpected moments. Faye hadn’t thought about that lunch with Rod in years. Years. Time, the baffling system used to distinguish events, continued to perplex and mystify her. A sudden, unexpected, realization hit her like a lightening bolt. It has taken me more than twenty years to peel away, layer by layer, the filters that coloured and protected my perceptions about being a beloved member of Michael’s family. Like Rod, I was a necessary evil. It was all a sham. All of it! A twenty year deception exacts an awesome personal price.

Resistance Is Futile

Six members of the Duncan Clan: Edith, Barry, Norman, Enid, Stanley and Damian. Two parents and four of their children had organized themselves into an inter-connected collective with a hive mind, consumed by jealousy, competition, resentment and excessive entitlement. They had become humanoid drones living in a dysfunctional familial hive.

When Faye first saw a Star Trek episode featuring, ‘The Borg,’ she knew this to be the perfect metaphor for Michael’s family. The Borg was a terrifying pseudo-race of half human, half computer entities, created from conquered species. Against their will, they were assimilated into a collective mind to be ruled by a Queen. The Borg rarely spoke, but when they did, they sent a collective audio message, as dictated by the Queen: "Assimilation Inevitable. Resistance is Futile." With bemused resignation, Faye realized the Borg imperative permeated the Duncan family.

During their childhoods, they had learned one single-minded purpose; to acquiesce to their parents’ demands in the hopes of feeling approval and love. Even as adults, with their own lives and families; the Duncan children were expected to behave as a collective, with unquestioned allegiance, in all things, to Edith and her consort Barry. No matter how strongly they might disagree with Edith and Barry, when the final tally was taken, to submit with passive acceptance was the path of least resistance.

They were assimilated into the power of the Queen. Her name was Edith and she ruled with manipulative control and calculated precision. Often, Edith masqueraded as a helpless, confused and tearful victim seeking the pity and understanding of others for her tragic plight. This was a particularly powerful tool when it came to her marriage. Barry was Edith’s ‘knight in shining armor;’ rescuing her from danger and all the evil and vengeful enemies she deemed a threat.

Barry fiercely protected Edith’s royal protocol with weapons of anger and physical intimidation. His children learned to fear him. They had been well-trained in the co-dependent practice of burying truth, reality and legitimate questions in the family grave marked RIP - Restricted, Illicit, Prohibited.

The Duncan children knew that to disagree with Queen Edith’s edicts resulted in dismissal, rejection and banishment from the Duncan Kingdom. As they grew into adults, the stirrings of discord and rebellion rippled through the family for many years. Most of these minor uprisings were dismissed or summarily squashed.

An ironic consequence of this state of affairs was that Michael’s brother, Damian, and his sister, Enid, began to model themselves after their mother, Edith. Eventually, they successfully captured their parents in a well-crafted net of deceit, manipulation and control; getting exactly what they wanted, when they wanted it.

During an argument, Michael passionately told his sister, Enid, he believed mutual respect between a parent and child was essential to the success of the relationship. Enid was annoyed. Her reply stopped Michael in his tracks, “Mom and Dad are old, stupid and feeble. Tell them what they want to hear. It’s easier that way, and you’ll get what you want.”

Edith and Barry had built a foundation of dysfunctional clay which, year by year, eroded and led to the family’s explosive disintegration. They were morbidly blind to this devastatingly sad fact. Barry and Edith had become the targeted prey in their own game of control and manipulation.

In Less Than Five Years

Broken Heart
Artist: Stephanie Marrott

In less than five years, the Duncan Clan lost thirteen members. Molly, her husband Jack, their four children. Michael and Faye. Daniel, his wife Cameron and their three children. All had been deemed guilty of treason, either directly or by association. The unspoken, unanimous verdict of the condemned, They are to be punished until they acquiesce or we will turn our backs on them as dishonoured cast-offs.

Still feeling the faint stirrings of compassion, Faye believed Barry suffered deeply from the loss. He was perplexed and angry by what had happened. Edith, on the other hand, was a person Faye came to view as a consummate game-player. Winning and control were more important to her than love and friendship. Time and again, Edith’s carefully contrived actions portrayed this, even when it came to the crumbling relationships with three children, three ‘in-laws’ and seven grandchildren. Edith and Barry’s actions were so loud, their words lost any meaning.

Faye had to come to terms with a cold reality: Edith had never really loved her at all. Edith tolerated her as a daughter-in-law, nothing more. Over the years, Edith’s green-eyed jealousy had become uncomfortably obvious at times. Faye never took it very seriously because, sadly, Edith was blazingly jealous of everyone, not just Faye. But when Michael’s parents dismissed him as a ‘crazy’ buffoon and her as a contemptible villain and unscrupulous professional, Faye had enough. They had irrevocably crossed the line. Faye decided to divorce. Not Michael, but his parents. She would never again acquiesce or tolerate their cruelty, personally or as a spectator. The knowledge that Barry had once loved her disappeared into the gaping wound of the broken heart.

If still alive during these years of personal, familial and professional hell, Faye’s wise and astute grandmother, Mama Ted, would have quoted her long dead father-in-law, the famous Captain C.M. Tyler. Captain Tyler, one of the pioneer founders of Colorado, was fond of saying, in his best Teddy Roosevelt impersonation, “You’ve been dragooned, my dear. It happens to the best of us.”

Faye felt like the proverbial virgin in a whore house. All those years invested. She had been a willing Pollyanna who believed in the magic image of a charismatic and loving California clan named Duncan and the well-crafted fantasy of their Camelot. Well, not any more.

The sweet Maui onion of illusion had been peeled and its pungent bitterness exposed. Michael and Faye, even at perilous odds with one another, shared an inscrutable unity; a fierce, burning focus and tenacity to survive and break free from the massively dysfunctional world they had come to call ‘The Borg.’

Determined to shake off these gloomy thoughts, Faye began to sift through the other stacks of photos and keepsakes stored in the enormous cardboard box, looking for an image that would make her smile. Over the years, she and Michael had shared so many spectacular moments. For her, there was a mystic quality to the process of photography; capturing time through a lens. Frozen crystalline mirrors of reality in any given moment. Images that wait patiently, timelessly, for their power and message to be rediscovered and reinterpreted.

Much like insights, the impact of a long-forgotten photograph profoundly affected her, when and where she least expected it. Like finding a misplaced but necessary piece to a puzzle. A discovery. A revelation. Belonging to the past. Belonging to the present. A bridge that connects the events of destiny. Memories of yesterday, coloring perceptions of today which influence dreams for tomorrow. All woven together, they create the collage of life.

There it was. The photo that made Faye smile. She remembered the exact moment Michael had bought the small matted print in the gift shop. He had wanted to buy her something to remember the evening. The impact of seeing the colossal modern sculpture ‘Eclipse’ that dominated the hotel lobby came rushing back. She had not forgotten. It had been the first Friday in May 1973 at the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. Their first date.

Excerpt From A Work In Progress

Hyatt Regency Hotel Lobby
Number 5 Embarcadero
San Francisco
One in our Studio is passionately and enthusiastically 'riding the wild and raging whitewater river' of writing a novel. This part of the story is about the main characters, Michael and Faye, and their first 'blind date' in April 1973. It takes place in the Lobby of the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco. This morning we discovered the above photo on All Posters, a fabulous source for images! So...of course, we decided to have a little fun and share an excerpt of Royce's work. SHhhhh. Don't tell.

The extensive ground floor entry of the iconic new hotel was coldly industrial with cool beige marble, stark walls, great slices of triangular glass and massive steel escalators placed in perfect geometric balance. Far down the corridor were immense double doors that had been wedged open with two enormous modern floral bouquets on tall shiny black pedestals. Faye couldn’t help but gawk at the amazing modernistic spectacle of the ballroom. Large spherical chandeliers with hundreds of narrow crystal arms shooting out in all directions reminded Faye of something you would expect to see in a planetarium. Her first impression of the supposedly luxurious Hyatt Regency Number 5 Embarcadero was one of quiet disappointment. But within the next few minutes she would realize the brilliance of this carefully calculated ruse. It served as the perfect foil for what was to come.

Michael wanted her first impression of the Main Lobby to be nothing less than overwhelming, dramatic and unforgettable. Faye stepped onto the wide vibrating rubberized stair that appeared before her. Michael followed one step below. She could feel Michael looking at her. As they slowly and rhythmically moved upwards, he gently tapped her on the shoulder,

“Step off at the next floor. Stop and close your eyes. Don’t peek! Don’t open your eyes until I tell you. No cheating! Promise me. Scout’s Honor!”

“Okay, Scout’s Honor!”


Michael had a nice voice. Resonant. Pleasant. Full of energy. Faye was startled by how quickly he spoke. During the ride into San Francisco, she had to pay close attention and concentrate in order to understand the rapid-fire speed of his speech. It wasn’t that he was nervous. Michael just seemed to have so much to say that he couldn’t get it out fast enough. Faye found this flattering. Nothing worse than awkward or uncomfortable silence between two people.

Faye stepped off the final escalator, took a few steps away from the main platform and waited for Michael. He was right behind her and instructed, “Now, close your eyes. Don’t open them until I tell you.” Devilishly he added, “You can trust me.” She rolled her eyes dramatically before closing them. Michael briskly, in a business-like manner, took her left hand in his, “OK. Let’s go. No peeking!”

Both of their hands were quite warm. Faye realized that she felt a great sense of anticipation and deep comfort. His touch felt strong and safe. For some reason Faye began counting the steps they were taking - 25, 26, 27.

Michael stopped abruptly. A vivid symphony of sound played all around them. People talking. Laughter. Glasses clinking. Big band music fusing with a jazz tune. The ‘ding-ding-ding’ of what sounded to be multiple elevator bells ringing on several floors at the same time. Foreign languages. The surprised gasps of delight. Michael’s voice was full of the promise for a glorious surprise, “Are you ready? Open your eyes.”

Faye was struck dumb, absolutely speechless. Her eyes were seeing but her brain wasn’t able to process it all simultaneously. The images magnificent. She realized they were standing in a vast open atrium, reaching well above one hundred feet tall. Faye finally found her voice, “I’ve never seen anything like this! It’s amazing! Tell me all you know.”

“Well, the architect was John Portman. My Dad and Grandfather’s company did all of the painting, wall covering and specialty finishes in the entire building. I worked here myself. It’s twenty stories tall and there are eight hundred rooms. The hallways to each room face the atrium. See the hanging plants cascading down from floor to floor? These serve as the balcony barriers. You can stand outside the door to your room and look over the plants, down into the lobby.
In order to paint the ceilings above the atrium, we had to construct the scaffolding from balcony to balcony. We were working at least seventeen stories above the lobby floor. Like tight-rope walkers in the circus, except we had planks instead of wire.”

In full tour guide mode Michael continued, “That gargantuan metal sculpture over there is called Eclipse. I don’t know why. The sculptor was Charles O. Perry. The giant geodesic sphere soars to forty feet tall. Perry constructed it of curved metal tubing joined together in pentagons and supported by three massive steel legs. I was told there are over 1400 pieces! The sphere actually sits on an indoor waterway and reflective pool. Let’s walk over for a closer look.”

Faye's creative sensibilities were turning delighted somersaults in her heart, “Wow! I’ve never seen anything like this before. Unbelievable! Look at those glass elevators in the shape of capsules. What a view of the lobby as you travel to the top floor! Absolute vertigo! This is better than Disneyland!”

Travel Note

If you are ever in San Francisco, don't miss a frosty beverage at the Equinox; the revolving bar atop the Hyatt Regency has one of the best views of the City and the Bay.


Sun Glare Above Clouds Photographer: Bruce Clarke


And thus they swam together, side by side,
The broken nautilus and smooth stone dancing in the unseen tide
While the soft sugar sand swirled between their toes,
And in the magical places beyond the wild mysteries of the deep
Awestruck by unexpected lightening, yet unafraid
As the resonant tenor of thunder far upon the horizon
Explains all that simply is to be
In swaying columns,
The transparent emerald seaweed swathed their ancient bodies
They stopped struggling and looked into each other’s loving eyes,
Yielding to the tanzanite blue velvet garment of the sea

Then turning onto their backs
Directed by one dazzling star whose floating glow
Cast a miracle of intense gold-white light,
Penetrating through five thousand years of timeless time long forgotten
They gazed upon the beckoning portal above,
A vast, violet vacuum of vanquished virtue
Whence the eyelash moon winked in mischievous daring;
They tasted the bittersweet salt on their moist dry lips
And felt each other’s hands bump together gently on the wave’s surface
Into one another’s keeping for all eternity – and knowing this,
Their fingers sought to weave one unto the other,
Cradling their courageous tapestry of understanding
A joyous reckoning
From this life to the next, they gently drift
Their souls draw near, and travel to the Other Side

Royce Addington