STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery


STRINGS: A LOVE STORY by Megan Edwards  Reviewed by Daniel C. Lavery

I devoured my pre-publication copy as a classical music lover, and one who had an immediate connection with my wife the moment we met some refer to as a soul-mate. Megan Edward’s creative writing shown by spectacular descriptions and themes followed by a phenomenal ending makes a powerful combination. This review is but a skeleton of a much greater whole spanning the lives of two lovers in high school through many years of professional life, marriage, an ugly divorce and many vibrant surprises. STRINGS combines these with a unique classic musical instrument: "The Violin of Angels." We are soon greeted with an unusual love that survived extreme hurdles. Ted Spencer, a rich boy fell for a cleaning lady’s daughter, Olivia de la Vega. They played Lancelot and Guenevere in Camelot at a private school called Haviland with interference from his family who thought he deserved better, and much fickle fate thereafter. His mastery of the violin admitted him to Julliard but separated them when his parents interfered making her doubt his love as one of the many “strings” that obstructed their romance.

Olivia, a stunning beauty, and talented actress, introduced Ted to a different world of Celtic harps, a music festival, and hippies instead of the upper crust of society in which his parents sheltered him. This helped free him from the rigid control his parents and Classical music teachers stressed. At his home his Dad produced a sparkling diamond he had cut for Ted when he married someone acceptable. Soon Ted announced he wanted to marry Olivia and was going to Julliard, not Yale as his father wanted. Taking two cigarettes to lite, he handed one to Ted and informed him if he did, that was the last thing he would receive from him! His parents ensured Olivia would leave the scene by lying that Ted had a girlfriend he planned to marry and had a diamond ring for her. Naturally, she failed to show at a time Ted asked for her to join him at their secret shelter and disappeared.


(Megan Edwards)


As fate would have it, Olivia found work in Television and soon became a talented actress in Los Angeles, married, and named her daughter, “Theodora.” Meanwhile, Ted developed his violin expertise at Julliard, played at Carnegie Hall, and became Concertmaster with the Vienna Philharmonic. Fast-forward nineteen years when Olivia met Ted at a concert where he played Paganini’s “Last Caprice in A major,” his audition piece for Julliard, “he consigned to his heart along with memories of Olivia too melancholy to open.” Later when she visited during a contentious divorce, he bought a tiny porcelain ballerina that pirouetted before a mirror to “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” as a present for her seven year-old daughter, Teddy.


After another hiatus, Ted met Sophie Reinhardt who helped his career take off while they lived together noting her “pale blonde hair swirled in soft unruly curls to her shoulders” while “her confident grey-blue eyes met his gaze.” Divorced five years, she was free and helped his career blossom during their extended affair. So successful his career became from their liaison, he bought an eight bedroom three story home with four fireplaces at Westchester County in Sleepy Hollow next to his Rockefeller neighbor!


Soon Olivia’s letter from Malibu re-connected them. Her husband of ten years had died leaving her the entire contents of his study which contained an extraordinary violin: Joseph Guarnius…1742 HIS! She asked him to appraise this gift since he had become a violin expert and exclaimed, “It wasn’t the amazing Violin that made his head damp, but Olivia returning to his life!” When she arrived he set up his fiber optic camera. The remainder of the process unfolds like a Sherlock Holmes mystery revealing a violin, The Merino Rose, worth millions. Ted generously made a bequest of this gift to Teddy for her future. The spectacular ending on a beach at sunset, waves crashing, the sand turning gold, and the wind blowing in Olivia’s hair, left this reader in tears with Ted’s final words: “You and I have a symphony to finish.” Readers will want to order a copy to fill in the amazing details of this extraordinary and unforgettable fictional romance novel.


BIO: Dan graduated Annapolis, navigated a Navy jet, was carrier qualified, and earned NAO wings in Florida, and then a ship to Vietnam with 300 marines. He resigned, turned peace activist, and became a civil rights lawyer for Cesar Chavez's UFW, the ACLU, and private civil rights practice. His memoir, All the Difference, describes his change from a pawn in the military to a crusader for justice. (Author website)

Related Images:

Billy Mitchell Jazz Pianist at the Sepulveda Universalist Unitarian Society

The Sunday Service of the Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society at the “Onion” June 21, 2015,  was marvelous. Billy Mitchell, a Black jazz pianist born in Buffalo, N.Y., spoke on his perceptions having grown up as the only Black in all his schools until his father, a Baptist minister, sent him to Atlanta, Ga. at 16 to grow up and find out first-hand about the "other" America out there. Billy refused to agree that it is all about race when people discriminated against him or others. His first experiences he would ask to be served a meal, or a drink at an all-white establishment. They would ignore him. He kept asking for a meal. He tried to make personal contact but noticed they would not look at him. Eventually, after he persisted asking for a meal the waitress served him one that was full of salt inside! Despite such experiences and his active civil rights life working with Stokely Carmichael, the horrendous shooting to death of 9 Blacks at the Charleston Church and years of other outrages directed at the Black community, he has a very positive attitude. He maintains it is all about perception and explained his optimism by first playing "Wonderful World" so beautifully to a standing ovation. He said that he is a student of history and that knowledge shows to him we have more people in our world now than ever who are trying to make a positive change for the better. "Oh yeah, there are so many bad incidents, it is awful, but is getting better. When you remember where we were in history not long ago. Slavery, The Civil War, World War I and II, and segregation. So much more hatred and killing have preceded where we are today. So don't let anyone get you down." He lamented the lack of music for our children in kindergarten, middle, elementary, and high schools where in the past our governments had music programs. He said that is a dismal development that he is addressing by funding scholarships. His website is He sponsors a Preparatory Academy at He will hold a concert in Pasadena July 5 and hopes many will come for an enjoyable afternoon.

Peace, Love, and Joy,

Daniel C. Lavery

Billy Mitchell.jpg

Billy Mitchell

Sepulveda Unitarian Universalist Society Onion        

The "Onion"

Related Images:

Summer Fun at Dan and Joan’s Home 2014



 We all Swam in the Lavery sparkling pool

Grandsons 5 and 9 dove off the diving board

And caught countless balls that was very cool

Oldest played many a harmonic piano chord


They hit a whiffle ball into one of many trees

Caught a football in the sand with their hands

Slid on Sean and Christina’s grass on their knees

Saw Freese hit a homerun into the stands


Smashed tiny whiffle ball onto the roof

Threw tennis balls to Ginger and Barkley

Baby granddaughter learned a dog bark woof woof

Balls fell from the roof into our pool sparkly


Boys wore Angel Jersey’s we bought

Had fun bowling for two hours after lunch

They listened, played, swam and never fought

Gibbons swung on branches and hooted a bunch


Saw three movies and Dodger and Angel Baseball

“Planes”, “Tarzan”, and “We Bought a Zoo”

Two on Blue Ray and one at the Mall

Sean marinated and made a tasty barbeque


Bed Time stories from Bill Peet and others

Nine year-old played a Beethoven piece on the piano

Good story choices approved by all mothers

Aleksey and Dan’s guitar added to the flow


Lex and Des’s friends joined them for a lunch

They, their friends, and kids joined the throng

Sean’s BBQ’d gourmet sausages’ tasty crunch

Added zest to the delightful Saturday marathon


“All’s Well That Ends Well” by Shakespeare

Will Geer’s Topanga Canyon venue never a bore

Brought from the friendly crowd a loud cheer

Dan read “Mount Fuji” at Pasadena book store


Daughter and friend enjoyed swimming at Zuma Beach

Found the surf a challenge and Nature so sweet

Saw “Much Ado About Nothing” with many a fine speech

We hope everyone will join us again soon at our retreat


Related Images:

Idyllic California site: artists perform, grow biodynamic produce, and gave an unforgettable piano concert

nature-wallpapers-16 mountain lake reflection

Media electronics are not welcomed at some idyllic locations where artists gather to perform while working on a large farm in a pristine forest in northern California. They live in Nature at a cell phone free and non-computer-TV-radio alcohol or drug zone in a world filled with bad news, commercialism, false promises, and violence. Does this sound melodramatic? Escaping the hum drum of American cities still holds an attraction for many who long for the quiet of small town relationships, farm lands, vegetable gardens, fresh organic produce, and mutual respect and kindness.

It is in keeping with an early twentieth century German scientist’s philosophy and performing eurhythmy, a kind of dance movement that is an expression of spiritual and artistic values to the best classical music, Shakespeare-or other literary giant, poetry, humor, on stages in robes of silk wearing tight fitting slippers that permit swift and graceful movement on hardwood floors.

We joined in bio dynamic fertilizing their vegetable and flower gardens, removing dirt and excess leaves from a barrel full of onions, to make them ready for sale to their community at low prices, and picked fresh bio-dynamically grown carrots, parsnips, onions, cabbage, beets for meals that were tasty, nutritious, and cheap.

The last evening we heard an amazing piano concert from a Croatian pianist in a loose fitting black tuxedo who played Brahms’ first two Cantatas that lasted about one-half hour each with a loud applause after each performance. He demonstrated his astounding command of the piano in a relaxed way for a 6'4", 250 pound pianist, who swayed as a dancer while feeling the beauty and harmony of the notes Brahms wrote. He was the music.

After much applause he played Brahms variations on Paganini that featured a series of hand movements and sounds I have never seen before. At the same time he moved both hands about a third of the way from the left and right sides of the keyboard to near the center while moving his fingers rapidly in what is called a tremolo. That reminded me in a strange analogy of how a lawn mower cuts blades of grass but all his fingers were rotating up and down over keys that his hands sent three times from the left to right and back together harmonically in tune with the magnificent music!

Finally, after the audience greeted him with five minutes of loud hand-clapping, he returned for a finale. He sat gently down, extended his arms outward with fingers extended and then with knuckles parallel to the keys, rested his left hand fingers immediately over the keys on the extreme left. Again using a tremolo, but this time more like a buzz saw (maybe a terrible analogy for art) cutting blades of wheat, as they hovered over the keys that magically created a stunning deep bass sound telling us something the composer who hadn't been identified and the pianist wanted to fasten in our memory forever.

When he finished the audience burst into a chaotic frenzy of applause with astonishment on their faces, smiling with joy, for the longest period of the concert. He stood and bowed smiling and nodding his appreciation for the spontaneous reaction. After a few more bows he left behind a curtain.

During a ten minute period where no one knew whether he was finished or would return for another piece, it was clear he had finished the concert as the Russian pianist who brought him to the concert announced and the crowd slowly moved out of the auditorium beaming from the musical experience.

After most of the audience had departed, the pianist appeared at the end of the hall leading to the exit with the Russian piano teacher who asked him to perform for the group. A curious student asked the pianist about his finale. Standing next to her, I was with my wife and daughter. He said the work was from Liszt who wrote of his extreme sadness upon Wagner's death, and entitled his short work, "The Sad Gondola." Since his pronunciation was difficult the Russian made it clear to all. The pianist now in civilian clothes was relaxed and smiled generously to his admirers as he left gracefully.

While the piece remains in my memory, I will describe the feeling as a unique awareness of the fantastic ability of an artist to make the piano send out an extraordinary and haunting sound. The effect remains an artistic expression difficult to imagine without an effort of explanation, but easy to say was unforgettable, energetic, and blazing with intensity.

 Road Taken Narrow and beautiful nature red yellow green

Related Images:

A Letter to my Son about dealing with Hostility and some Poems that Shine

Today I discovered a letter I had sent my son, who like me and most people I know, could use some advice on how to manage hostility. Escaping the Hostility Trap  by Milton Layden, M.D. provides a strategy to deal with hostility that creeps unwittingly into our lives and makes them often filled with health issues that can be serious if unheeded. My letter was lodged in the book below my own memoir, All the Difference, just published June 26, 2013 in paperback on Amazon.Com.


Here is a book I needed as an attorney battling in court with difficult personalities. Often I found myself tired and drained of energy, and full of hostility. This book helped me realize how that behavior hurt me and my relationship with others I came in contact with only in the legal arena or away from home. Creating my own hell at communicating with difficult personalities made me appear to strangers similar, I’m sure, at times! You are in the most stressful job in the world and I couldn’t be prouder. Hope this gives you some insight. Enjoy your wonderful family in Hawaii. Two of my favorite poems are attached! Love Dad

A Psalm of Life

Tell me not, in mournful numbers, Life is but an empty dream! For the soul is dead that slumbers, And things are not what they seem.

Life is real! Life is earnest! And the grave is not its goal; Dust thou art, to dust returnest, Was not spoken of the soul.

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow, Is our destined end or way; But to act, that each to-morrow Find us farther than to-day.

Art is long, and Time is fleeting, And our hearts, though stout and brave, Still, like muffled drums, are beating Funeral marches to the grave.

In the world’s broad field of battle, In the bivouac of Life, Be not like dumb, driven cattle! Be a hero in the strife!

Trust no Future, howe’er pleasant! Let the dead Past bury its dead! Act,— act in the living Present! Heart within, and God o’erhead!

Lives of great men all remind us We can make our lives sublime, And, departing, leave behind us Footprints on the sands of time;

Footprints, that perhaps another, Sailing o’er life’s solemn main, A forlorn and shipwrecked brother, Seeing, shall take heart again.

Let us, then, be up and doing, With a heart for any fate; Still achieving, still pursuing, Learn to labor and to wait.

  • Henry Wadsworth Longfellow



Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness. How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone who journeyed through the night with plans and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside, you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing. You must wake up with sorrow. You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and purchase bread, only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.

By Naomi Shihab Nye, a Palestinian poet

a href=""> Trust

Related Images: