Category Archives: Essays

Life in the Key of K

Kendall Feeney dazzled audiences with her passion for eclectic music. Off stage she was just as inspiring.

My favorite memory of Kendall Feeney is from a bowling outing, one that now seems like a lifetime ago.

It had to have been in the early 90s and the three of us—she and I and my then-spouse, Connie—must have wanted to get out of our heads for a while. So, here was this restless musical scholar and wisp of a phenom—in four tone, rental bowling shoes. Her eyes were crossed and her tongue was sticking out of her mouth as she pretended to be drunk after rolling a gutter ball. It was deliriously funny. She could be that way.

photo courtesy Patricia Ratcliffe

I wouldn’t be the one to even try to summarize K’s extraordinary musical legacy. I’ll just inject that if there were any questions about her talent, her passion, and her insatiable explorations, she answered them many times over with the aptly named “Zephyr” project she created and sustained in Spokane for over a decade, until 2002.

Even so, there was so much more to her career as an artist and teacher. For those reasons, it was more than fitting that the first person to speak publicly about Kendall’s passing was fellow musician Verne Windham who, for a generation, has also been the voice of classical music for Spokane Public Radio. With perfectly eloquent silence, Verne said nothing at all to start his tribute to her. He simply allowed her piano to speak in Bach for two and a half minutes before softly informing his audience of her passing and talking wistfully about her life and her formidable contributions to the Spokane music scene. The 17 minute piece includes a fairly recent recording of Kendall teaching Bach and in it we hear the energy and fluctuations in her voice as she writes out loud about how the composition unfolds. It is the voice of a woman who would not be extinguished. She led an indelible life. Continue reading Life in the Key of K

How My Country Lost its Mind

(and why it will recover its soul)

by Tim Connor

Earlier this year a survey by the Pew Research Centers reaffirmed an unspoken boundary in American politics: being an atheist essentially disqualifies you from being elected President of the United States.

However unfair this is for atheists, the barrier rests upon a deep-seated expectation that those seeking the nation’s highest offices ought to embrace virtues deeper than a hunger for power. And to enjoy the benefit of the doubts, he or she must at least publicly identify with a church and a deity. To admit to being godless is tantamount to political suicide.

So how is it that the same nation that effectively disqualifies atheists for high positions of public trust just elected a habitual liar and provocateur? How is it that we’ll soon inaugurate an unapologetic racist who ranks and treats women as sex objects, mocks people with disabilities, refuses to apologize for anything, and spends an inordinate amount of energy excoriating and seeking revenge upon his critics? This is no mild case of cognitive dissonance. It’s a deeply disturbing reflection of our nation’s moral deflation.   Continue reading How My Country Lost its Mind

Of Mustangs and Warriors

Can wild horses and broken soldiers help each other?

By Larry Shook
Ah Kah Tah is a Blackfeet Indian phrase that means “Going Home.” My friend Earl Barlow, a Blackfeet, told me that.

Ah Kah Tah is also the name Nate Ostrander and I have given to the five-year-old mustang gelding we brought home from the Bureau of Land Management’s wild horse holding facility at Burns, Oregon. We’re going to experiment on both the horse and me.

Here’s our question: can you take a sixty-nine-year old veteran whose heart and psyche have been shattered by war and teach him to train a mustang—a creature arrested in the heaven of open range for the crime of freedom—in a way that gives both him and the horse a new life? Continue reading Of Mustangs and Warriors

The Wealth Money Can’t Buy

Why we shouldn’t confuse the pursuit of money with the pursuit of happiness.

By John Hancock

The outcomes are not good. Here are a few recent examples in my news feed:
•    $600 in shopping vouchers were a powerful inducement to get pregnant women to stop smoking.
•    Some seats in the stadium for the Super Bowl sold for more $20,000.
•    Even for those who didn’t attend football’s biggest game, we gambled an average of $12 (the per-person rate for all us Americans) for a chance to get other people’s money, for fun.
•    In the Hamptons, a 29-year-old man killed his investment banker over a $200/month reduction in his monthly allowance. Continue reading The Wealth Money Can’t Buy