Saturday, September 30, 2006

From the DFA blog

cChalfonte, I'll share a story about Edwin with you.

Last summer, a couple [seven] of bloggers got together in NYC. Wonderful memories. We went to see Philadelphia, Here I Come, starring Edwin, of course (awesome play and performance), we went out for dinner, and then ChrisNYC procured the keys to the one private garden in the city, where Subway and mprov played the guitar and we danced along.

Afterwards, a few of us went to a bar (Edwin is an Irish [Welsh, Norwegian] bastard, so brace yourselves). Well, Charles Riggs III said something about something (and Charles is a sweetheart, BTW). I don't remember the comment exactly, but I believe it had something to do with defending a comment about the Dean campaign being run badly or something along those lines.

LORD HAVE MERCY!!!! Edwin shouted so loudly at Charles you could hear him down the street. I never saw a man so vocal in my life. And the look in his eyes, jeez! Poor Charles (not that Charles was in any harm's way, we were just having a conversation amongst friends).

Don't ever insult Dean in Edwin's presence. And, touch a hair on puddle's head, and you're toast, baby.

So, Edwin, if your time has come, ok, but see, I'm not a fatalist. FIGHT, DAMN IT.

Shit, I'm afraid to click on submit and read the latest. Crossing toes...

by Agatha on Friday, 09/08/06 @ 10:45 PM | Rate this | Avg Rating: -

This was published the year I was born

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

~~ Auden

♥ Thank you for giving me this one, nordy ♥

A Life in the Theatre

In July The Vineyard Playhouse (Martha’s Vineyard) staged an adroit production of A Life in the Theatre under the direction of Jon Lipsky. whose subtle handling of Mamet’s gentlest play garnered praise. Edwin C. Owens as the seasoned actor Robert was deliciously funny and poignantly painful’ while Tim Ryan as the rising star struggling with impatience tempered by compassion played the role of John to perfection.

(Remember: always mouse over titles to see if there's a link there. There often is. . . )

You don't have to be Irish

Friday, August 5, 2005
TT: You don't have to be Irish

Friday again, and time for my weekly Wall Street Journal drama-column teaser (posted by remote control from Chicago with the help of OGIC—I'm still on the road). I devoted most of this week's column to a rave review of the Irish Repertory Theatre's superlative production of Brian Friel's Philadelphia, Here I Come!:
Mr. Friel's play is, of course, a modern classic, one of the outstanding English-language plays of the postwar era. Written in 1964, it's a textbook example of how to take an over-familiar situation—the inability of a bright young man to communicate with his stolid, emotionally closed-off father—and make it blazingly fresh and immediate. In a stroke of ingenuity that only seems obvious in retrospect, Mr. Friel has split Gar, who is leaving “the land of the curlew and the snipe” to seek his fortune in far-off Philadelphia, into two people, one public (Michael FitzGerald), the other private (James Kennedy) and invisible save to his flesh-and-blood companion. It is the private Gar who gives voice to the public Gar's interior monologue, a “Lucky Jim”-like stream of frustrated, coruscating mockery directed at the hapless residents of the village in which he lives, and above all at his father, S.B. “Screwballs” O'Donnell (Edwin C. Owens), a gloomy widower who cannot bring himself to express his love and pride for the son he is about to lose….

I could go on and on about the cast, each member of which deserves a separate paragraph of lavish praise (though I mustn't fail to make particular mention of Mr. Owens, who triumphs in the daunting task of illuminating the soul of an all-but-inarticulate man). David Raphel's shabby décor is impeccably exact, right down to the cardboard suitcase into which Gar stuffs his earthly goods. As for the staging of Ciarán O'Reilly, the company's co-founder and producing director, it's so subtle as to be invisible: all you see is the play itself….


Edwin never read reviews (If they're bad they break your heart, and that changes what you do. If they're good, you start trying to match what you're doing to the review. Neither way is fair to the audience.). But this one the other cast members had told him about, and he did ask *me* to read it. No, he didn't ever ask me to read it TO him. . . .

Friday, September 29, 2006

When Edwin was just still ill, his friend Joe called and we were talking. One of us remembered the prayer bowl that Edwin had gotten Jay (Joe, Jr.) as a baby. Joe and Karen got the baby working on his bowl, and sent these pictures.

Today, I spent a good part of the day with the father and the son. It was a tough, lovely day, as we alternately talked Edwin, worked on the memorial celebration, and played with Jay. Thanks, Joe. And thank you Jay: blowing on your tummy was great fun!


We were so wholly one I had not thought
That we could die apart. I had not thought
That I could move, -- and you be stiff and still!
That I could speak, -- and you perforce be dumb!
I think our heart-strings were, like warp and woof
In some firm fabric, woven in and out;
Your golden filaments in fair design
Across my duller fibre. And to-day
The shining strip is rent; the exquisite
Fine pattern is destroyed; part of your heart
Aches in my breast; part of my heart lies chilled
In the damp earth with you. I have been torn
In two, and suffer for the rest of me.
What is my life to me? And what am I
To life, -- a ship whose star has guttered out?
A Fear that in the deep night starts awake
Perpetually, to find its senses strained
Against the taut strings of the quivering air,
Awaiting the return of some dread chord?

~~ Edna St. Vincent Millay


I TELL you, hopeless grief is passionless;
That only men incredulous of despair,
Half-taught in anguish, through the midnight air
Beat upward to God's throne in loud access
Of shrieking and reproach. Full desertness,
In souls as countries, lieth silent-bare
Under the blanching, vertical eye-glare
Of the absolute Heavens. Deep-hearted man, express
Grief for thy Dead in silence like to death--
Most like a monumental statue set
In everlasting watch and moveless woe
Till itself crumble to the dust beneath.
Touch it; the marble eyelids are not wet:
If it could weep, it could arise and go.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Angels and ministers of grace defend us


Edwin and dolphins ~~

As a teenager in Chicago, he swam the lake there, and was a damn good swimmer. During high school, he and his mother went to live in Lakeland, Florida, and missing serious swimming, he'd get her to drive him and a friend over to the Gulf so that he could *really* swim. This particular day, they'd swam very far out and it was getting late when he realized how far out they were, perhaps too far, and he turned, calling to his friend to do so, too. As he turned he caught a glimpse in the corner of his eye of a huge fin. When he looked again it was gone, but his adrenaline was pumping! He tried to swim without splashing, trying not to attract that fin. . . . Suddenly he realized that he and his friend were surrounded by a pod of dolphins: at least four and maybe as many as six or eight. One in particular swam shoulder to shoulder with him, watching him with that big dolphin eye. When they got near enough in to the beach to see the people, and realized the tide was now out and they could probably walk the rest of the way in, "his" dolphin seemed to say to him: I've seen you, now you can look at me! Dived, rose, did a tail stand just in front of him, then dove again, and was gone. On shore, he wanted to say to his waiting Mother: Mom! They breath air. Just like us! That illumination stayed with him his whole life. Over the years, he went to several swim with the dolphins events, and felt that initial vision strengthened: we are one. We are ALL one. . . .

Most of his life he's worn a dolphin ring. The last, a small silver one, a single dolphin wound around his finger. It was not in the things the hospital returned. Nor in his effects from the hotel. He'd lost it earlier this spring and I'd found it caught in the rug near the bed (and a space I'd already vacuumed a couple of times); he'd been relieved to have it back.

We arrived a day early in San Diego for DeanFest this summer, and decided to go to Sea World to see the dolphins. We did (and the orcas, too). We sat in the splash zone (second row) and got well and goodly soaked. (Have a newly navy set of underwear, lol!). It was a beautiful day, and he got a small dolphin keyring, and I got a swims with dolphins tote bag.

Yesterday, still mourning the loss of the small silver ring, as I straightened, I opened a marble box, and there was a large gold dolphin ring. I'm wearing it now, as I type.

About the picture above: it's pretty much the tail stand he described. After looking through hundred of dolphin pictures, it was the *only* one I found. I'm thinking that tail stand may not be all that usual a thing for dolphins to do. . . .

BTW, click the title for a song we both loved, and gave us a great deal of pleasure. . . .

Edwin says to tell you: So long, and thanks for all the fish!

Philadelphia Here I Come!

I was in WV when he started rehearsals on this. During our phone call that night, he was so happy. He said: I think I've met the people I've always wanted to work with!

And indeed, I think he had: everything about the experience was wonderful for him ~~ the play, the show, the people, the reviews, the aftermath. I know He wanted to do it again.

Alas. . . .

How odd. . . .

Results 991 - 996 of about 76,200 for "edwin c owens". (0.17 seconds)

This is from page 100, where google ends your ability to go further. I can't find the review (which was wonderful!) of him playing Big Daddy on Broadway. Suppose I may never find it again. . . .

That was yesterday. This is today's: Results 1 - 10 of about 98,000 for "edwin c owens". (0.24 seconds)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

When our fondness and friendship began to turn into something, well, else. . . .

I looked him up on the internets. The picture below at The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face was the first I found. He, when he saw it, was not that fond of it, but there was for me something powerful and very loving about it. It reminded me of something I couldn't quite get a handle on at the time. Later in the winter I did: it was the Lion from Narnia. I'd been trying to get the Chronicles for my grandbabies the previous Christmas via Ebay, and had been looking at that picture quite a lot.

He had an intimate connection with that Lion. . . . He'd played C. S. Lewis in Shadowlands, and as for every role he played did deep research on Lewis. In fact, our first off-blog communication was on the subject of a one-man piece he wanted to write and perform on Lewis's four concepts of love. . . .

I hope you dance

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder
You get your fill to eat
But always keep that hunger
May you never take one single breath for granted
God forbid love ever leave you empty handed
I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance

I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Living might mean taking chances
But they're worth taking
Lovin' might be a mistake
But it's worth making
Don't let some hell bent heart
Leave you bitter
When you come close to selling out
Give the heavens above
More than just a passing glance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

I hope you still feel small
When you stand by the ocean
Whenever one door closes, I hope one more opens
Promise me you'll give faith a fighting chance

And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance
I hope you dance
(Time is a real and constant motion always)
I hope you dance
(Rolling us along)
I hope you dance
(Tell me who)
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
I hope you dance
(Where those years have gone)

(Tell me who)
I hope you dance
(Wants to look back on their youth and wonder)
(Where those years have gone)

Lee Ann Womack


Throughout it all, he *always* danced. No matter what it cost him, he danced.

He Helped a Dean Delegate Get To the Convention

I did a double-take and then burst into tears when I saw Edwin's picture at the top of BFA this morning. I am sorry he didn't make it. It always makes me sad when someone I cherish passes on and is not here any more.

Back in spring of 2004, one of Dean's delegates (Renee from WI, as I recall) logged onto the blog in tears. She had managed to scrape together air fare to get to the Democratic Convention, but could not pull together the money for expenses to stay there-- hotel, food, etc. She told us she would not be able to go after all.

I proposed to the blog that we do a fundraiser to get her the money she needed. Edwin as "The O.C." was one of those who responded with a promissory note, and by later that evening I was able to PayPal Renee the money she needed. It is one of the Deanie deeds I am most proud of having done.

And I still have, and will now cherish more than ever, the little envelope and note from "The O.C." in NYC, which contained the check he had promised me.

I hope he is happy where he is now. And I am so, so glad he was able to have people with him at the end; blessings on you Thankful, Puddle.

Off to work now, bye.

by Dean Nut in Sandy Eigo on Tuesday, 09/19/06 @ 09:35 AM | Rate this | Avg Rating: -

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

The first time ever I saw your face
I thought the sun rose in your eyes
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the empty skies, my love,
To the dark and the empty skies.

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
And felt your heart beat close to mine
Like the trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command, my love
That was there at my command.

And the first time ever I lay with you
I felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy would fill the earth
And last till the end of time my love
It would last till the end of time my love

The first time ever I saw your face, your face,
your face, your face

Oh, Come, Angel Band

My latest sun is sinking fast,
My race is nearly run;
My strongest trials now are past,
My triumph is begun.

Oh, come, angel band,
Come and around me stand;
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings
To my eternal home;
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings
To my eternal home.

I’ve almost reached my heav’nly home,
My spirit loudly sings;
Thy holy ones, behold, they come!
I hear the noise of wings.

Oh, come, angel band,
Come and around me stand;
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings
To my eternal home;
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings
To my eternal home.

Words: Jefferson Hascall

Monday, September 25, 2006

I depart as air.
I shake my white locks at the runaway sun.
I effuse my flesh in eddies and drift in lacy jags.

I bequeath myself to the dirt and grow
from the grass I love.
If you want me again look for me under your boot soles.

You will hardly know who I am or what I mean.
But I shall be good health to you nevertheless.
And filtre and fiber your blood.

Failing to fetch me at first keep encouraged.
Missing me one place search another
I stop some where waiting for you.

~~ Walt Whitman

A little while ago, I began to order his altar. I removed the items in the prayer bowl, placed them together and took the bowl to the kitchen to polish it. It will be used at the memorial celebration. I spread the polish on the bowl, sat it carefully in the sink, rinsed my hands, and turned to leave the kitchen. At the door, the bowl rang. Small, but very clear.

Thank you, my love. I *did* need that. . . .

Edwin, come home, there's a hole in the bed
Where we slept, now it's growing cold
Edwin, your face and the place where we lay
By the hearth, all apart, it hangs on my heart
And I'm leaving the light on the stairs
No, I'm not scared -- I wait for you
Hey Edwin, it's lonely, come home

Edwin, the stairs and the halls, recalling
Your step, and I remember too
All the pictures are shaded and fading in gray
And I still set a place at the table at noon
And I'm leaving the light on the stairs
No, I'm not scared -- I wait for you
Hey Edwin, it's lonely, come home

Edwin, the spread on the bed, it's like
When you left, I kept it for you
All the blues and the greens have been recently cleaned
And are seemingly new -- Edwin, me and you
Will swallow the light on the stairs
I'll fix up my hair, we'll sleep unaware
Hey Edwin, it's lonely, come home

Apologies to Roberta Flack. . . .

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Coincidences? From time to time we were both overwhelmed by them: as if the universe were saying to us, "Don't doubt: you ARE each other's."

He had a teacher named Rudi. My father's name was Rudy. He had a gray Russian Blue cat named Rudi. I have a partly Russian Blue cat named Rudy.

His mother was Norwegian. My father was Norwegian. His grandmother's maiden name was Wang. My grandmother's cousin's family name was Wang.

His language was Latin. So was mine.

He is an actor. I spent two undergrad years as a theatre major, was too chicken to actually try to earn my living in it (too hard to be unemployed four times a year), but always wondered what *that* was all about.

We were both meditators; he, Buddhist ~~ me, Quaker. Both of us were intimately acquainted with the nebulae, and exchanged them, and gathered there.

The night we first "saw" each other, I held up my arm with my NEVER SURRENDER bracelet for him to see. He smiled, and held his up for me to see. (There are prolly hundreds of thousands of these out there: I never saw anyone but we wearing them.)

In 1980, while I was teaching in China, there was a news story in the International Edition of Newsweek, about a rally in California for Reagan. Someone(s) had hung on the trees signs saying STOP ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN. (Referencing Reagan's comment that trees produced more carbon monoxide than cars. . . .) I remember thinking: I could love the guy that dreamed *that* one up! A few weeks ago we were talking, and I mentioned it to him. He laughed. "Twas me!" He'd been working on John Anderson's campaign and gotten early word of where the Reagan rally would be, and got to work on making and hanging the signs. . . .

And finally. Since I was thirteen or fourteen, there has been a vision in my head of this big bearded guy, wearing blue dungarees. I had always known this man was my mate. I used him once as the prototype for the hero in my second novel. (Guy name of Devorliss Stoot.) I never met him, nor ever saw him. Yesterday, a package from his cousin in Seattle came. Among other things were pictures of him while he was there in the autumn of 2004, playing Gloucester in Lear. There, leaning onto a table, arms crossed, a white mug on the table, grinning as if he'd known all along, and wearing a navy corduroy shirt is that man. I wept.

A love story taking place right in public. . . .

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 05:37 PM:
Solstice, the first day

ice on the river like
coagulating diamonds
lace fanning out from shore

Sky, all day
between purple and steel
the trees hungry in silhouette

Have you noticed,
the light returns so much
faster than it left

I do.
Every year.

Julie Li

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 06:16 PM:
And in the South,

my favorite childhood friend,
the little boy
who tricked the tigers into butter

still walks
in his purple shoes with
crimson soles and linings
in beautiful blue trousers
with the umbrella as green as a mamba.

my grandchildren
shall not know him

And "The green mamba travels throughout its life alone. ... "

The O. C. wrote on December 21, 2004 06:16 PM:
Posted by puddleriver*in*WV at December 21, 2004 05:37 PM

That julie Li is quite a poet!

Thank you, Edwin

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 06:29 PM:
the things a farmer does
to save the spring lambs
(and he is weeping
as he does this)
skinning a dead one
wrapping its
hide around another,
newly motherless

the grieving mother
accepts it as her own.

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 06:32 PM:
Posted by The O. C. at December 21, 2004 06:16 PM

Thank *you* Edwin. . . .

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 06:35 PM:

Breaking bread
broken bread
and bodies

have we
come here
to this broken land?

The O. C. wrote on December 21, 2004 06:36 PM:
Posted by puddleriver*in*WV at December 21, 2004 06:16 PM

Interesting coincidence that my post should wind up just beneath yours.
I had that same childhood friend. When my Grandmother took me to see him in a children's theatre production in Chicago I became so frightened of the tigers I had to be taken out of the auditorium. I knew then that this thing called "theatre" was very powerful and I would have to have something to do with it!
My Christmas Present that year from my Grandmother was a Green Umbrella - for protection.
I have always tried to make my work from Heart to Heart, and make my difference in the world that way - when there is news like today's (such horror, stupid needless waste) I truly despair.

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 06:52 PM:
Posted by The O. C. at December 21, 2004 06:36 PM

What a wise grandmother. . . .

Amazing the things that set us on our life's paths, isn't it? So varied, so surprising, so unexpected. . . .

And so many ways to make a difference. . . . To wake even one soul from slumber is an achievement of a lifetime, however that is accomplished.

puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 07:00 PM:

As for the attack at Mosul. You do recognize that in the scheme of combat losses in the past these numbers are small.

At Antitiem/Sharpstown the US lost about 50,000 people IN ONE DAY.



We have come a little distance down the dusty road

of our souls.


on the day we weep over










puddleriver*in*WV wrote on December 21, 2004 07:08 PM:
How many Mothers, Fathers, Wives, Children, Friends. . . . For how many years. . . .

Surprised by joy -impatient as the wind
I turned to share the transport -Oh! with whom
But Thee, deep buried in the silent tomb,
That spot which no vicissitude can find?
Love, faithful love, recalled thee to my mind -
But how could I forget thee? Through what power,
Even for the least division of an hour,
Have I been so beguiled as to be blind
To my most grievous loss? -That thought's return
Was the worst pang that sorrow ever bore
Save one, one only, when I stood forlorn,
Knowing my heart's best treasure was no more;
That neither present time, nor years unborn,
Could to my sight that heavenly face restore.


The flaming star nebula


When the phase change has a time
a date
did the stars align
did they fall

we are all dust
of the cosmos
and drawing ether in our veins
through breath or blood
or directly as we fly
we still belong

no one leaves
they are still a future
yet to finish as we live

who we were
is who we are in our
may yours be love

by Phil Specht on Monday, 09/18/06 @ 07:42 AM


Sorry if my words were short yesterday but it was due to lack of sleep. Today as I woke up it dawned on my heart that Edwin has moved on and I began to remember his biting wit and gentle humor.

Ben Franklin said that the pursuit of happiness is your right. Catching it is up to you. Edwin seemed to know that the bird of happiness alights only on the hand that does not grasp.

It's always wonderful to see folks who are comfortable in the embrace of each other's souls. Your home was brimming in that comfort.

Tonight my heart remembers...

Subway Serenade 09.23.06 - 9:03 pm

The Fezziwig Ball

Spent most of last evening with a good friend of Edwin's. We laughed, we cried, we shared memories, we held each other. After he left, I was struck once again (as I have been often these past weeks) what a huge hole his death has caused in so many people's lives. . . .

He loved the role of Scrooge, and played it often later in life. Scrooge being man who had seen in time that dying with only money in your life account made others glad at your passing. And if he loved Scrooge, he loved Fezziwig more: it was his sign in and/or password as he traveled the internets. He named the smartest dog in the world Fezziwig, and was proud to consider himself Fezzi's Dad.

I asked him once why the fascination with Fezziwig? "Because he knew, always, how to live: to give, to love, to find joy where you are."

I'm glad his final incarnation on the DFA blog was Fezziwig. It was his final role in his own life.


Clear away! There was nothing they wouldn't have cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezziwig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for evermore; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire; and the warehouse was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a ball-room, as you would desire to see upon a winter's night.

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the lofty desk, and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty stomach-aches. In came Mrs Fezziwig, one vast substantial smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts they broke.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


Let there come forth
poets, actors, singers,
dancers, farmers, philosophers,
builders, vendors, architects,
weavers, musicians, comedians,
seamstresses, scupltors,
gardeners, jewelers, potters,
folks of all talents and endeavors.

Awake, awakening, speaking
to each other with kindness
accepting and cherishing life,
laughing, hopeful, isn't life
supposed to be joyful--
and sorrowful--as our cracked
hearts break open to new
understanding, new recognitions?

As this sun illumines our ways
each day and as the stars
and moon watch over us at night
and life is engendered in all
its variety and pathos,
let us choose to live and bless
each other these our days and
come forth in celebration.

~~ Pat Maslowski

At first I could not sleep, at all. Then I could sleep when I had to (awakened 9:30 Sunday morning, didn't sleep until after nine on Monday night). Sleeping so deeply that whatever dreams did come were buried, and could not be retrieved.

Thankful left yesterday, and last night, my first alone in several weeks, I asked for the gift of dreams. I think I was hoping Edwin would come and tell me it was not true, that he's really still with me, and that the dream was that he had died.

I dreamed, but that was not the dream. Instead he was in a hospital I've never seen; one sort of like a parking garage. And we, the keepers, all had handheld devices like remotes, and kept trying to change his bodily functions upwards as they were failing. As he continued to fail in the dream, I woke. I don't think I could have stood having it happen, again. . . .

Friday, September 22, 2006

Someone else that few knew Edwin was. . .

Show must go on for cancer patient in play about disease

Thursday, July 09, 1998

By L.A. Johnson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Edwin Owens is a master thespian.

Edwin Owens waits in his doctor's office for a checkup yesterday. (Lake Fong, Post-Gazette)

For eight shows a week, twice on Saturdays and Sundays, he is a whirling dervish of energy as the character Abraham Yahuda in the British farce "Hysteria" at the Pittsburgh Public Theater. His character is a confidant, physician and friend to the cancer-stricken Sigmund Freud character in Terry Johnson's play set in World War II London.

His spirited portrayal -- which includes the physical comedy typical of a farce, such as hopping up and down, and running up and down stairs -- belies his own private battle.

Doctors diagnosed Owens' rectal cancer in November 1997 and removed the tumor in March.

After surgery, he underwent radiation and week-long chemotherapy treatments every four weeks. When he felt better, he auditioned for "Hysteria," and landed the role.

Then he had to make a decision. His New York doctor told him he could stay in New York, feel awful most of the time and do nothing, or go to Pittsburgh, feel awful most of the time, but do something he loves. He decided to do the show.

His wife, Jane, was concerned about his show-must-go-on attitude. But after careful planning she went from thinking, "Are you crazy?" to "'How can I help?"' he says.

Since May 29, Owens has undergone weekly radiation therapy and 24-hour chemotherapy at Allegheny General Hospital. His costume concealed the machine that infused the chemotherapy drug 5-FU into his arm round-the-clock until that phase of his treatment ended Monday.

And it still covers his colostomy bag.

He's a man being treated for cancer while playing a doctor treating a man with cancer. It's not quite art imitating life, but more art juxtaposing life. Owens admits it's both ironic and poignant, especially during the scene where he examines the ailing Freud, who is losing a battle with oral cancer. His hands travel down Freud's face, feel under his neck, then under his armpits, to check his lymph nodes.

"I know how to do that because that's been done to me," Owens, 56, says.

He didn't seek the role because of his own illness, but says he feels a special connection with the actor playing Freud, Jack Axelrod, in those scenes that echo his own life.

Owens, a Chicago native who studied theater for two years at Carnegie Mellon University, last performed in Pittsburgh 10 years ago in the Public's production of "The Normal Heart."

Like a lot of people, he ignored the early symptoms, which included rectal bleeding and diarrhea, thinking it was just a stomach problem. A steady diet of antacids stopped the symptoms for a time, but they returned with full force a few months later. He was diagnosed shortly thereafter.

He told the show's director, Eddie Gilbert, about his treatment early on, but initially kept it from the cast.

"He advised us that he might get tired," says Gilbert, who also is the theater's artistic director. "Whether or not that's true, he certainly didn't inflict that on me or anybody else. He gave 110 percent all the way ... I was very impressed."

He didn't want to distract from the work but eventually had to tell them.

"The first time I became aware of it, I grabbed his arm and it felt like there was something mechanical. It was the pump in his arm. I thought I had broken something," Axelrod says.

Shortly after that, Owens told the cast about his illness and they have been supportive.

"Edwin told us what was involved and made it seem so unimportant," Axelrod says. "He's made it not an issue."

Once shortly before curtain time, the port in his arm was clogged, causing the infusion machine to beep. A home-care nurse came to the theater and swiftly handled the minor crisis.

His AGH doctors and nurses have marveled at his endurance. Patients who undergo this treatment usually are sick and depressed after the third week.

Oncologist David Friedland chose the 24-hour infusion treatment because the side effects are less severe than other treatments.

"You've weathered the worst of it," he told Owens yesterday during a checkup at his North Side office. "From here, it will only get better."

Friedland credits Owens' determination for his success in handling his job along with his illness. Cancer patients sometimes can't work because they're distracted, thinking about their illness, more than incapacitated from the side effects, he says.

"It's most remarkable that you could concentrate," Friedland tells him.

And although Owens' colleagues haven't realized it, fatigue has been the worst side effect of the treatments.

"If I thought about what I had to do each day, I couldn't do it," he says. "I've just taken it moment to moment. Get morning coffee. Shower. Get to rehearsal and suddenly, you've gone through the whole day."

The show runs through July 19. After that, Owens returns to New York to resume treatment with his regular doctor. He wanted to remain low-key about his illness, but doctors and nurses here encouraged him to speak out.

"People can have chemo and still have their lives," Owens says. "It's important for people to know you don't have to give up."


When we were first "talking" via the internets, he was having a difficult time telling me about this. He finally remembered this story, and sent the link. I read it and returned an email to the effect of: Are you telling me you're a cancer survivor, or that you are married (or both)? His answer: Survivor. He'd been divorced for four or five years (couldn't remember).... I wrote back in lurid purple 40pt. script on a red background: "Good! Now I can fall in love with you!" His reponse: "Of course you can!" Truth is, it was too late: I was already in love with him, sight unseen.

I'll Fly away. . . .

Some bright morning when this life is over
I'll fly away
To a home on God's celestial shore
I'll fly away

I'll fly away oh glory
I'll fly away (in the morning)
When I die hallelujah by and by
I'll fly away

When the shadows of this life have gone
I'll fly away
Like a bird from prison bars I'll fly
I'll fly away

Oh how glad and happy when we meet
I'll fly away
Not more cold iron shackles on my feet
I'll fly away

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Fly, Edwin, with those new wings

Funeral Blues

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever; I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood,
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

W. H. Auden

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Abide With Me

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim; its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

Not a brief glance I beg, a passing word;
But as Thou dwell’st with Thy disciples, Lord,
Familiar, condescending, patient, free.
Come not to sojourn, but abide with me.

Come not in terrors, as the King of kings,
But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings,
Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea—
Come, Friend of sinners, and thus bide with me.

Thou on my head in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour.
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The children, like bright flowers in their back packs off to school
The keepers in their somber blues collecting trash
Beautiful cool quiet cool just a little wave of breeze turning the sweet gum leaves
The mourning doves, the mourning doves!

And you are not here. Are far away, and in danger, and I love you. And I need you, and you are far away, and in danger.

The Triffid, every day, lifts itself a little closer to the pane, turning in its slow plant tide toward the light.
And you are not here.
Are far away.
And in danger.

Oh, please let my love be the tide
which carries you home, away from the pain, in safety.

~~ Julie Li

Can you hear the bagpipes playing?

These are my grandbabies (not so small anymore eh?) on recent trip to Scotland.

The piper played to welcome the guests. Then he went inside to play for the show.
Sam was so inspired, she decided to do her own Scottish dance when we got back to the hotel room.

September 05, 2006 at 07:14 PM MDT
I was looking at the photo gallery again. Can I just tell you how Weird it is that doctors cut people open and chop a part of them out, then sew in a completely foreign part and staple them back together? As weird as that is to me, it's amazing that the body heals from it!! I am so amazed at how STRONG the body is, yet so FRAGILE. Know what I mean?
We had another liver clinic appointment today. Tanner's numbers all look good. Dr. Book, the liver doc, said that oncology wants to start chemo this week. Funny, they haven't called me!! I told her I don't want to do it this week. I want to wait until next week. WHY?? I don't have a definite answer. I just do. We want to make the right decisions for Tanner. Maybe this week is too early, maybe next week is too late, maybe it doesn't matter either way. I felt like Dr. Book kind of bullied me! (not too bad, she's nice.) She thinks I should listen to the experts and do as they recommend. I told her that I don't trust the oncology team. She says they're very experienced. Well, if it had been up to them, they wouldn't have scanned Tanner in July and found that the fungus was gone. They would have waited for who knows how long, unable to give me a good reason for the delay, with the possibility of a bad outcome. I do trust Dr. Meyers, however. I'll be talking with her tomorrow. We'll see what we decide. I finally told Dr. Book that this is a matter of prayer. What could she say to that? I also added that if God wants Tanner to live, this CANCER CANNOT KILL HIM. And if God intends for Tanner to die, the doctors can't save him. We've made it this far through the power of faith, prayer, and miracles. This is no time to stop!!

We can see Tanner's personality. He is so happy. He is trying to walk, and he loves moving himself around on his little tricycle. I just keep thinking what things will be like at Christmastime.

Tanner even ate dinner tonight. Some wonderful friends brought us the most delicous chicken noodle soup for dinner. Tanner ate several bites of it! YUM!!

On another note...does anyone want to guess how much a 3 week hospital stay for a liver transplant costs? (just the hospital. not the doctors, or anesthesiologist or whoever else gets to bill us)

$189,000. Crazy, huh!? Good thing for insurance.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Hattip to Oscar

View from top of Tai Shan

Friday, September 01, 2006

This quilt is called: "Tiramisu"

Outside, looking in. . .

Inside, looking out. . . .

Definitely not chocolate éclairs . . . .

En bâtissant cette chapelle, j'ai voulu créer un lieu de silence, de prière, de Paix, de joie intérieure.
Le sentiment du sacré anima notre effort.
Des choses sont sacrées, d'autres ne le sont pas, qu'elles soient religieuses ou non.


By building this vault, I wanted to create a place of silence, prayer, Peace, of interior joy. The feeling of crowned animated our effort. Things are crowned, others are not it, that they are chocolate éclairs or not.
(Translation, courtesty of Babelfish)