Posted by: ritagone | May 9, 2018

Are Geniuses Born or Made?

         I get this website ( every day in my email, and often it has the most interesting information.  This one from a few days ago was about Andrew Lloyd Webber, the composer and musician, and the reason I found it so fascinating is that I’m intrigued by this kind of talent: does it come naturally or is it nourished in some magical way that most of us are not exposed to?  Read it and come to your own conclusions.  It certainly made me want to read Webber’s autobiography “Unmasked,” which I just might do this summer!

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Today’s selection — from Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Andrew Lloyd Webber, famous for such musicals as The Phantom of the Opera, Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita and Cats, first encountered musicals as a preteen in London:


“Christmas holidays 1958 brought me full frontal with musicals for the first time. It was a bap­tism and a half. I saw My Fair Lady and West Side Story plus the movies of Gigi and South Pacific all in the space of four game-changing weeks. 1958 also coincided with the arrival of [our home’s] first long-playing gramophone. With it came an LP of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite. Unfortunately for Dad the other side was Proko­fiev’s The Love for Three Oranges Suitewhose gloriously dissonant chaotic start much appealed to [my brother] Julian and me. The famous march had us dancing on our bed with joy. Thus started my lifelong love of Prokofiev, in my opinion one of the greatest melodists of the twenti­eth century.


My Fair Lady was the talk of London throughout 1958. The leg­endary musical based on Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion had opened on Broadway two years earlier to ecstatic reviews, apart from one Alan Jay Lerner told me about in Variety that said there were no memo­rable songs. The producers did a brilliant hyping job in Britain by banning the music from being heard or performed until just before the London production opened with the result that the Broadway case album was the ultimate in chic contraband. Naturally [my] Auntie Vi had one so by the time I saw the show I knew the score back­wards and had long pondered whether Rex Harrison’s semi-spoken song delivery had a place at the Harrington Pavilion. London’s lather foamed even further as the three Broadway leads, Rex Harrison, Julie Andrews and Stanley Holloway, repeated their starring roles at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and I was lucky enough to have a ticket to see all three — actually two because Stanley Holloway was off. It’s funny how a disappointment like that stays with you forever. In my case that and the rustling front cloth depicting the exterior of Wim­pole Street as Freddy Eynsford-Hill warbled ‘On the Street Where You Live’ are what I remember most about that December Saturday matinee — apart from my showing off by singing along with the songs to show I knew them.


“My love of the score took me to the movie of Gigi, the now impos­sibly un-PC story about a girl being groomed as a courtesan. Can you imagine what would happen if you pitched a Hollywood studio today a song sung by an old man entitled ‘Thank Heaven for Little Girls’?’ Thank heaven I was young enough only to agree and even today the overture from Gigi is something I relish hearing.


Curiously it was Granny Molly who banged on about West Side Story and it was she who took me to it. The American cast’s danc­ing was like nothing I’d seen before. That two stage musicals could be so different yet equally spellbinding had me in a tailspin. Granny bought me the Broadway cast album for Christmas and pretty soon it was my favourite of the two. I related to Bernstein’s score much as I did to Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges.

“However what completely pulverized me was the film of South Pa­cific. I went with Mum and Dad and I remember the afternoon I saw it as vividly as the legendary colour filters that would have clobbered a lesser score. I had to wait until my birthday the following March for the soundtrack album. I still treasure my battered worn copy — incidentally it is the only album to have been No. 1 in the UK charts for a whole calendar year. By Christmas 1961 I knew the scores of CarouselThe King and I and Oklahoma! and had seen the South Pa­cific movie four times. But there was one other movie. It only had a few songs but it grabbed me nonetheless. Elvis in Jailhouse Rock. The ‘Jailhouse Rock’ sequence had me standing on my seat. I still have the worn-out 45 rpm single that drove my parents to distraction.


“Musicals were soon the staple diet of [a pretend theater at my house]. I wrote tons of dreadful ones. An audience of bored parents and friends, relatives and anyone I could find would gather for the latest offering with [my brother] Julian and me on vocals, and me alternating as pianist and scene-shifter. At its zenith the theatre’s stage, were it to have been built lifesize, would have dwarfed that of the new Paris opera house at the Bastille. Subjects included everything from The Importance of Being Earnest to The Queen of Sheba. A whole fantasy town developed around the theatre. Everyone in this town was somehow dependent upon the theatre’s well-being. The Harrington Pavilion had a box of­fice through which the townspeople booked tickets. Hits or turkeys were assessed by the reaction of the audience of bored parents and friends.”



Posted by: ritagone | May 2, 2018

Good-bye, Solomon! Hello, James!

When I teach a book of the Bible, something weird happens: I sort of fall in love with the writer or the subject of that book.  For example, I recently

taught the book of Job, and I came away with a whole new awe and respect for the man who endured so much tragedy and yet held fast to his faith.  Had I known him – and I felt like I did – I would have wanted to date him if he were single and I were too.

I think if they had quoted me only one time in the book of Job as his wife, I would have said something like, “Come on, Job, you can do it!  I believe in you!  Hang in there!” instead of the infamous “Curse God and die!”  Which, by the way, I believe has earned Mrs. Job a bum rap.

Anyway, then along came Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes, which I’m finishing teaching tomorrow at our Thursday morning womens’ Bible study called Connection.  We’ve followed the wisest man in Israel, the king, through his wanderings, his search for wisdom, his ups and downs, and all the varieties of mental gymnastics that we saw in twelve glorious chapters of challenge.

And if I had been single and knew Solomon, and if he hadn’t already had about 1,000 wives and concubines, I could have been happy with this guy too.  I love his adventurous spirit, his inquiring mind, the fact that he was always asking, always looking around the next corner, never completely satisfied with what he saw or found.

But alas, my time with Solomon is ending, so I must look elsewhere for the next object of my affection.  I turn now to James, the brother of Jesus, who wrote the book of James in the New Testament, oddly enough.  James is wise, solid, to the point, dedicated, upright: everything any of us want in a relationship.  What’s not to like?

So for the next few months, James and I will be getting to know one another better.  Okay, maybe I’ll just be getting to know him better. I’ll read commentaries about him, his times, what made him tick, what he said and why he said it.  I’ll know him much better by the time August rolls around.

And then I’ll put together some lessons to communicate about James to the women of the study.  And I know that what will happen is what always happens: my relationship with James will deepen, I will understand him better, I will see more and more why he is so well thought of, and I will hate to see him go at the end of our time together.

But go he eventually will, as it will be time to move on.  That’s the way it is with me and these biblical men.

Moses, can you hear me? What are you doing in December?

Posted by: ritagone | April 25, 2018

My Brother

My brother died last week.

We were not close, never had been, even as children.  There are lots of reasons for this, none of which I want to get into now.  What’s the point?  The good news is that we never fell out completely; when he returned from Japan and Germany after 20-year career in the Army and settled in Perris, California, about two hours from where I live, at least we stayed in touch via phone.  We saw each other at our mother’s funeral.  We talked to each other usually twice a year, on our birthdays, calling to wish the other a happy birthday and to catch up on our lives for a few minutes before we ran out of conversation topics.

I don’t think of my brother as a happy person.  He always seemed uncomfortable in his own skin.  He moved his family to Perris for one reason: there was a train museum located there, and he loved trains.  It meant that on the weekends, he could put on a conductor’s uniform and role play the part of a conductor as the small train travelled a mile along tracks, back and forth, back and forth, over and over again.  He loved it.  It was what he lived for, until severe diabetes took part of his leg and left him riding an electric scooter and unable to walk.  His conducting days were over.


He was a smoker, and even when he was diagnosed with COPD, he continued to smoke.  “I’m going to smoke until I die,” he told one of his daughters.  And he did.

He had three daughters, two living in California and one in South Carolina.  In the last segment of his life, he lived in a rehab facility because of his infirmities, while his Okinowan wife lived in the home in Perris which they had purchased decades before.

I was getting ready to call him this coming Saturday, April 28, to wish him a happy birthday.  He would have been 77.  Instead, I got a call from his middle daughter telling me he had passed away.

My biggest regret, as I’ve processed all of this that I can right now, is that I have not gotten to know his three daughters over the last decades, nor their spouses, nor their children or grandchildren.  My children don’t know their first cousins, or second, or third.  It’s a big chunk of family to not know about.  If my son or daughter and my nieces met on the street, they would not know one another.  That makes me terribly sad.

My niece and I talked a bit about him, and I said that he had had a tough childhood.  She said he had never talked about his childhood, ever, to his daughters.  So I offered at some point in the future to fill her or her sisters in on my perceptions of what his childhood was like for him from where I sat.  Jenny was very interested.  What child doesn’t want to know more about her parents?  I’m hoping now that that will be a doorway to more connection in the future with this family that I’ve had almost nothing to do with in the last 40 years.

I wish things could have been different between my brother and me.  I really do.  But how?  What could or should I have done differently that I didn’t do?  Probably quite a bit.  I’m still processing, still sorting it all out.  But hopefully there’s something positive that can grow from the relationships that still have some potential.  That’s my desire, and I hope it’s also the desire of my nieces.

We’ll see.

Posted by: ritagone | April 18, 2018

A Hope Deferred

My daily devotions in Timothy and Kathy Keller’s book “God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life” are proving to be quite fruitful and a blessing in so many ways.  I’m sharing with you one of the many daily insights they present to light our path. 

HOPE.  At the core of the human heart are not just emotions but hopes – things we look to and trust in to make us happy.  When something we long for is deferred or delayed, we become heart-sick.

It is wisdom to recognize that the condition of deferred hopes is one that can never be fully remedied in this life.  The book of Hebrews likens the whole Christian life to the period when the Israelites had been delivered from slavery but were not yet in the Promised Land (Hebrews 11:13-14). The second clause of 13:12 is saying that when our longings are fulfilled, life flourishes briefly, as it did back in paradise, where we had access to the Tree of Life (Genesis 2:9). But the New Testament tells us we will know full satisfaction only in the new heavens and new earth (Revelation 22:2), which will be ours not through our efforts but through the work of Jesus Christ.  As we have seen, his cross became a tree of death for him so that we could have the tree of life by faith.  We face disappointment now by reminding ourselves of what is to come, guaranteed by Christ’s sacrifice.


Do an honest assessment – what are your greatest hopes? Are they being “deferred”? How can you use the spiritual resources you have to help your heartsickness?


Prayer: Lord, I often am indeed heartsick because of deferred hopes. Help me strengthen my heart in two ways. Remind me through your Word that we are in the wilderness, not in the Promised Land. And make yourself my most cherished hope – because I can have you now! Amen.

Posted by: ritagone | April 11, 2018

Movie Favorites

I’m almost done reading “The Reflective Life” by Ken Gire for my morning devotional time.  It has inspired and challenged me.

In keeping with the overall theme of this book, I want to do something reflective and simple this week:

What’s your favorite movie…and why?  What makes it so special for you (in a few sentences)?  You don’t have to send me the answer; just write it out for yourself.  And then, as a treat, re-visit watching that movie some time soon.

For me, it’s the movie “Avalon,” made in 1990, written and directed by Barry Levinson, who also made “Rain Man” and “The Natural,” it tells in almost allegorical form the story of his family’s immigration from Eastern Europe to Baltimore, Maryland and the area of that city called Avalon.  It’s the intimate story of family, how generations co-existed, how television disrupted dinnertime and life in general, and how suburbia changed everything.

In many ways it’s the story of my family, and I love it.  I laugh, I cry, I say some of the lines along with the characters.  Its nostalgia beats in my own heart, and I understand its meaning completely.

And yes, I’m going to go watch it later today.

Now tell me about your movie.

Posted by: ritagone | April 4, 2018

Two Babies in the Womb

In a mother’s womb were two babies. One asked the other:

“Do you believe in life after delivery?” The other replied, “Why, of course. There has to be something after delivery. Maybe we are here to prepare ourselves for what we will be later.”
“Nonsense,” said the first. “There is no life after delivery. What kind of life would that be?”
 The second said, “I don’t know, but there will be more light than here. Maybe we will walk with our legs and eat from our mouths. Maybe we will have other senses that we can’t understand now.”
 The first replied, “That is absurd. Walking is impossible. And eating with our mouths? Ridiculous! The umbilical cord supplies nutrition and everything we need.


But the umbilical cord is so short. Life after delivery is to be logically excluded.”
 The second insisted, “Well I think there is something and maybe it’s different than it is here. Maybe we won’t need this physical cord anymore.”
 The first replied, “Nonsense. And moreover if there is life, then why has no one ever come back from there? Delivery is the end of life, and in the after-delivery there is nothing but darkness and silence and oblivion. It takes us nowhere.” 
“Well, I don’t know,” said the second, “but certainly we will meet Mother, and she will take care of us.”
 The first replied “Mother? You actually believe in Mother? That’s laughable. If Mother exists, then where is She now?”
 The second said, “She is all around us. We are surrounded by her. We are of Her. It is in Her that we live. Without Her this world would not and could not exist.”
 Said the first: “Well I don’t see Her, so it is only logical that She doesn’t exist.”
 To which the second replied, “Sometimes, when you’re in silence and you focus and you really listen, you can perceive Her presence, and you can hear Her loving voice, calling down from above.” 
- Útmutató a Léleknek

Posted by: ritagone | March 28, 2018

You Just Have to Laugh!

I have always said that my husband is the funniest person I know.  Since we started dating in the Stone Age, he has made me laugh like no one else can.  This is proven by the recent “procedure” he had at the local hospital for a rather large kidney stone which wouldn’t exit normally.  So they had to go in and blast it.  He decided to describe his hospital visit to friends in an email, and I bring it to you here in its entirety so that you can enjoy it too.  Tell me after reading it if you don’t agree that he’s a very funny man!  (By the way, he’s on the mend.)

 The “procedure” is called an extracorporeal wave lithotripsy. I looked that term up on the Internet. It is a Latinphrase for “Spanish Inquisition Torture.”

I will spare you the details but it all starts with being forced to disrobe in front of the entire Los Robles nursing staff, having an I.V. placed in your arm with a needle the size of a ballpoint pin, placed on a stainless steel table that has been in a commercial freezer for three days and then given a “cocktail” to put you under. Just a heads up for any of you going in for one of these: when the “cocktail” enters the blood stream it feels very much like lava. When you cry out in pain and beg one of the twenty-six people in the room to kill you, one of the masked doctors will say, “that’s normal”, as if that is supposed to be comforting.

Eventually everything goes blank and then the next thing you hear is someone saying “Mr. Warren, we’re done. You can lay here in great pain for a couple of hours while we have someone try to find your clothes.

       The good news in all this is that the pain meds are really wonderful.


Posted by: ritagone | March 21, 2018

Rain Delay

It’s a dreary, rainy day today, and I’m making a commitment:

I’m going to do as little as possible today.

Oh, I have plenty I should be doing.

But I won’t be doing it today.

Instead, I’m going to turn the switch on the gas fireplace in my office, curl up in my comfy chair with my down blanket, sip my cup of Chai tea latte, and read.  And read.  And read some more.

Because that’s the kind of day it is.

As you can tell, I have very little to say in this week’s Rita’s Ramblings.  Please forgive me.  I think you’ll survive without my words of wisdom.  In fact, I know you will.

But I need a true day of rest, a break, and a day to stop all activity and motion.  I know you’ll understand, and I’d do the same for you were you to ask me.

So if it’s raining where you are – or even if it’s not – and you have the opportunity, take some time today to curl up and read a good book.  Relax. Take a deep breath.  The world will keep on spinning, nations will still yell and scream at one another, all the offenses we commit against each other will continue.  But you and I will have a time out.

See you next week.

Posted by: ritagone | March 14, 2018

What a Headache!!!


 The picture doesn’t look like me.  She’s far younger and more blonde than I.  But the posture reminds me of me.  Hand to forehead. Grimace on face.  Oh, right.  It must be headache time.

Lately I feel like my life revolves around the management of my migraines.  I can stop one in its tracks by taking a dose of Imitrex when it comes on, but you can’t do that forever, or at least I’m told by the medical community that you shouldn’t.  So there comes a time when I have to look at my calendar and pick a day when nothing is happening and then allow a full-blown headache to find me.  And it does.

It’s weird to tell people that I will be “out of commission” Saturday because I’m going to have a headache, as if I’m prescient.  And then it’s even weirder to have that headache start and blossom and unfold into something so painful and awful that I think hitting my head against the wall might be a relief.

So for a day, or sometimes two, I’m in bed, curled up in a fetal position, doing nothing but trying to sleep to avoid the pain, thankful for a husband who brings me a microwave-heated bean-bag thing that lays on my eyes and gives me relief for about 10 minutes, until it cools down.  That’s my shrunken world for a period of time.  Then the headache gradually goes away, and the only residual is a feeling like I’ve had the flu for a day or two.  Drained, tired, still needing lots of sleep, which is incredible, considering that I’ve spent a day or two doing nothing but sleeping and moaning and groaning.

By most standards it’s not terrible.  There are certainly people who suffer from much worse.  And, looking on the bright side of things, I always lose a few pounds because nothing edible sounds good.  And it’s so very temporary that I always know there’s an end in sight, which is more than many people can say about the pain they’re experiencing.

And more important than those two factors, I think I have learned a great deal about what it means to trust God through some pain.  Because up until the last few years, my life seems to have been relatively pain-free.  I’ve had migraines since my mid-twenties, but I don’t remember them being as disabling as they are now.  Or lasting as long.  So now I’ve had to pray and to ask God to give me strength.  To be there with me and for me.  To walk beside me and comfort me in a whole new way.

And I’ve learned the value of the promises that one day we will be in a place where there will be no pain.

It’s not a great consolation when I’m in the midst of a migraine, but it’s something to fall back on when my head is clear and pain-free.

How about you?  What is in your life that, while you’re experiencing it, seems like the worst thing in the world to go through, but which increases your reliance on God and your trust in Him?  So can you count it a good thing after all?  Or at least a thing with some purpose attached to it?  I certainly hope so, really I do.

Posted by: ritagone | March 7, 2018

“Glory’s Garment”

I’m posting this today because I think the poem is so beautiful and touching.  It is from my dear friend Jonathan Steele’s blog; Jonathan serves with Communitas in Valencia, Spain with his wife Taryn and writes with his heart and soul.  Enjoy what God has put on his heart.


Jonathan L Steele


Where in the end…God is Everything, and All is Grace.


Glory’s Garment

Posted on March 3, 2018 by jonathanlsteele



If I had but one day left
I would remain quiet
and wait

To see God
through how
you see

Would you give
that to me?

If I had but one day left
I would give it
to you

For you to
find God
in who You
were made
to be

Would you receive that
from me?

All the cares
all the concerns
with this single turn

If you had but one day left
would you open
up to see

That inside you
awaits Infinite’s

Clothed in flesh and blood
buried beneath lies and misery

Invite it in
let it have

You are the treasure
you have been seeking

Salvation is
homecoming is
your inheritance

If you had but one day left
would you dare to trust
that your inclusion at the banquet is a must?

Kick your shoes off
Dance in the dust

Discover that
tattered and bruised
are enough

Because Grace
The Naked

If I had but one day left,
I would remain quiet
and wait

To see God
through how
you shine

Glory’s garment



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