Saturday, April 30, 2011

Good things: belonging

Thank goodness it's Saturday and quiet and early and the day is already beginning to sparkle outside.  I am sitting here eating my toasted english muffin with almond butter and honey and drinking coffee and savoring the deep sense of belonging that I feel this morning, so so different, the very opposite, of how I was feeling in my last post.  The opposite of that hollow loneliness, which was, truly, a fleeting mis-perception.  It was a big consuming feeling, but it was a fluffy, little cloud in the path of the sun, for a moment blocking the radiance that is always there, the big connection that never passes.

Phew, so glad.

'Cause honestly, I was getting worried.

Right now Joe is outside, already turning the soil in one of the boxes for a some "work" we're doing this weekend.  While I was at yoga last night, he used every daylight minute to prep the site, to clip back the climbing rose and dig up the canna lillies, so that today we could turn and amend the soil, bring in the new plants for Jasper's Corner, a whole area of our garden that's been untended really until now.  When I got home last night, he had left me a little treasure, a perfect little bird nest that he found in the roses while trimming -- a little gift on the stoop waiting for me to find it, scoop it, carry it into the house, chattering gladly the whole way.

Did I mention it's 7:30 am?  We're the crazy neighbors in the summer who are outside doing stuff, making noise, as soon as it's light.  And I'm feel antsy about not being out there right now because I'm trying to scribble this out, then be dressed, shovel in  hand, by 8.  Especially because I can see Joe hustling around and he has already stopped at the front door once to show me a skull he dug up, coyote, whom we found and buried years ago.  More treasure!

Last night was our big reunion class with Laura, Reconnect and Rejoice!, and it couldn't have been better timed for me.  Todd Boston serenaded us for two hours, and then we went to dinner, a huge party, more than 20 friends, to Taste of Himalayas down the street.  I sat, tucked in a corner, with Angela, Sherry, Jim, Alexandra, Cheryl, Laura and Nancy, looking down the long line of pushed-together tables and just feeling so content, so embraced by the loving arms of everyone there.  Super, super sweet, and just what the doctor ordered.

Everything came together for me last night, and I got the reminder I was so desperate for, the balm my broken heart needed.  I was feeling alone before, missing my pup so much, and yes, he's gone but we're still connected, he and I, always, and I'm always connected to all these amazing people I have the good fortune to know and even to those I don't know yet or won't know ever.  I'm not alone.  It's impossible.  That seems like a silly obvious observation, but I needed it to show up right in front of my nose because clearly I lost it a little bit last week.


So I'm feeling so much better this morning, feeling like I have a place, like I belong.  This was always true, but here I am, rejoicing in it again.

And truly feeling the power of being in kula, in community.  If you're reading this, please click over and help Todd make his dream album.  He needs $22K by May 2nd at 2pm and just needs a smidge more help.  This is what kula does, right?  We help each other reach for our dreams, hold them in our hands.

And if you're reading this, send love out to Abby Tucker who's spending another day holding her sister's hand in the hospital.  This is also what kula does, right?  We hold each other up through tough times.

It will be with a heart full of love and gratitude that I pick up the shovel this morning, with every motion stuffed with this sense that you're all with me all the time and I'm always with you.  That's pretty nutty but also completely awesome.  I'll be digging up treasure this morning, but the greatest treasure I already have -- it's you.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Admittedly a smidge adrift...

The Queen is free.
Spring is here at last!
Despite my happy post of the other morning about being just 2, I had a weird moment this morning that I think bears documentation.

Really, it's an exciting time.  I had my house professionally (or so I'm told) cleaned on Monday, Joe and I are pretty much together every moment that we're not at work or that I'm not at yoga, the garden is getting underway, and the Queens of our new hives at home and at the shop are free of their little package-cages and getting down to business.  The sun is finally shining almost every day, and Spring really does feel like it's here after a long dreary painful winter.

That's all great.

Still I had this moment this morning, standing in my kitchen making coffee for the road, when I suddenly felt completely without clear purpose, un-moored entirely.  It is just so very, very weird to be without parenting duties of any kind, to not have a dog around whom to center my daily comings and goings.

It feels empty, honestly.

And less bright, like a big beam of unconditional love is now just out, gone, no longer shining on me full blast all the time.  It's still super sad but now in a different way, a way I just need to learn to live with.

And no, I'm not about to get my period, so this is not hormones.  I wish that were the case since then I could more easily observe the sensation and let it go.

No, this is something else, coming to me at a time when I can't blame my biochemistry.  This weird, hollow purposelessness is right beneath the surface of pretty much every experience right now.

I dislike it intensely, wish to dig it out of myself completely, be rid of it, but I'm having trouble shaking it.  And I'm sure I'm becoming burdensome, with my frequent missing-Jasper crying jags and moodiness.

So I'm trying not to beat myself up about it, but just to be OK with it if that's what it is (even though I HATE it and wish it gone).

I'm hoping sleeping more will help and also undertaking a dietary change in May.

But really, maybe the problem is just that a broken heart just takes its sweet time mending itself, no matter how impatient I am. There's nothing I can do to make it go faster, no project I can undertake that will alter the facts, the gaping absence. Just time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Down to 2

Big thanks to neighbor Dave
for recycling so much pottery to the curb this weekend.
Love this pitcher!

It's a funny time for me right now, beautiful and broken at the same time, perfect and yet filled with longing. I love this part of the spring so much, the first real go at the planting, everything manageable still, the space between rows in the garden boxes clear. By July, the garden will be packed with vegetation, and I will feel more pressure to stay on top of it all, to re-seed and eat, not let all that effort, ours and the plants, go to waste. At its peak, it's glorious and ultimately exhausting, so that the fall is always a sweet time of shutting it down, recovering from all of that busy.

But I'm getting way ahead of myself.

Right now, like I said, is funny.

I suppose what I mean is that it's novel to be just Joe and me, just the two of us. We spent pretty much all weekend together, from Friday at 6 until now, Monday morning, with just two little bits of apartness.  It was bliss: we drove to Sebastopol and picked up our new bees Saturday morning, set up two hives, one at home and one at the shop; puttered around the garden; went to a friend's birthday party; turned and harvested compost; amended a garden bed and planted; went out to dinner last night and saw Jane Eyre.  Delightful.

In the more than two decades that we've been together, the time we've spent à deux has been the rarest of commodities.  Our life together has always included a child, now grown, and, for the last almost-14 years, a dog baby.  It has also almost always, and particularly in the past 5 years, included activities that kept us busy with our separate hobbies and friends, training and racing for Joe, yoga for me.  It has never been just two.  And with Joe injured now and off the bike, it has only rarely been just two, home together, moving at the same speed.

Believe me, I'm not complaining.  It's possible that the many conditions of our lives that have made it rare for us to be alone together are the very reason why, when I see Joe, even after just being apart for a couple of hours or a day, I still wag with my whole body.  I look at him even now and still can't believe my good fortune.  

As we approach our 22nd First Date-iversary, I wonder truly how much time we have spent alone together.  Would it even add up to one year?

It's remarkable how sweet the time in each other's company is, how grateful I am for it, even now.  It's as if we're embarking finally on a new adventure, down to 2, with everything we need.  Truly lovely.  Deeply sweet.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sweetness: it's been 5 weeks and my heart is still broken

I went on the Neighbies walk this morning.  I felt restless at breakfast, so decided to go out and walk around the neighborhood taking the well-worn path that Jasper and I always took.

Before leaving, I stopped by Jasper's stone (aka, Jass Stone) and left him a little bite of bagel just like old times.  I left it sitting there, after wishing Jas good morning, in hopes that soon a squirrel will pop down and snatch it up. We'll see.

So the walk was maybe not such a good idea.  Let me just say that maybe it's gotten a bit easier but this still hurts just so much.  I miss him so much.  I realize now that I always saw our neighborhood through the mist of Jasper's cuteness.  Without him, it's just not cute at all out there.  Nowhere close.

I am trying to honor his memory by being happy.  I am trying to honor his memory by taking interest in everything in the way that he did -- that inconspicuous shrub over there might have a great message to impart, a really good smell, too!  that bird walking on the grass might have something to tell me, let me just run over and find out! -- but it's hard to walk with his ghost, to turn involuntarily looking for him over and over, walking this groove that we grooved together for so long.  

Yes, I admit that I cried pretty much the whole way, relieved the garbage men who knew him so well didn't ask me about him.  But a face full of tears does serve to keep people away, and communicate the loss loud and clear so that the question becomes unnecessary.

From this point in the day, kind of low and sad, I'm going to try something else for the rest of the day, to do his prancing tail-high trot, like when he'd found something delectable that filled his whole self with pride and joy, like the day he found the rabbit or the giant rawhide bone or a really good stick at the beach.  Like that.

Walking with his ghost and honoring his memory, missing him so terribly, loving him so much.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A full day of work, work and more work

I woke up with only a smidge of a headache this morning which was a definite improvement over the last two weeks of having a headache every single day upon waking.  It was worst in Tahoe, since even that slight altitude makes my head pound.  I don't remember having this problem earlier in my life, but I can scarcely remember the earlier part of my life anyway, so I could be wrong.

But by the time if got to be 8am, I was really conflicted - go to work or stay home, and stay home won out.  It's good to have paid time-off, paid sick time, and even better to access it when you need it.  It's not like I was contagious, just generally feeling funky, and also overwhelmed by the amount of stuff on my home To Do list. [Problem is the work To Do list probably only got longer in my absence, but I am picking my battles.]

As a result I literally spent from 8:30 this morning until just now -- 4:45 -- working through an enormous stack of work for the family business, a couple-of-months-old back-up that was really bothering me, waking me up in the middle of the night, and just generally contributing to an overall sense of unease.  No good!

But the truth is that to stay on top of everything in my life -- not just my own little pet projects, and yoga, and reading and writing -- but to be the Business Manager of our life and the same for our business, means that I need AT LEAST one full week-day a month to plow through the work and have enough time to plan ahead.  I really can't accomplish this by devoting time on the weekends and in the evenings after work, which always seems like a sacrifice where taking a whole week-day to do it seems like a treat.  Hunh, wonder which one is the right choice?

Of course I feel moderately guilty that I was home working instead of at work working, but truly as funky as I did feel throughout the day, I would have been pretty miserable at work.

Funky but productive, when all is said and done, looking back from the vantage point of 5pm on how diminished the piles are at the end of this day.

It went by so fast though.  I can't believe that any minute Joe will be home from work, and the whole dinner operation will begin.  Wait: didn't I just wake up?

Everybody writes now

I'm reading a new-ish on-line magazine, YogaStar, and simultaneously loving and hating that everybody (including me, natch) writes now.  Everybody has a blog.  Everybody has a website.  Everybody has status updates.  

And most everybody has wretched grammar.

But mostly everybody is funny and thoughtful.

I'm sharing this excerpt from the second issue of YogaStar because I love how it's written, errors notwithstanding. I'm trying to get over my grammarian bullshit, since really, who cares? What matters is self-expression and celebration.

Lighten up, over-edumacated yogini!

Some yoga info, demographics & such.
Yoga Star sees the possibility of the Yoga arts being in the forefront of everyone’s awareness & daily doings.

Out of all the super tons of money spent each year in the U.S. a $6 billion chunk of that is spent on Yoga Stuff. That’s more than I make in a week. Yoga stuff is: classes & products: equipment, clothes, retreats & media (DVDs, videos, books & stuff).

Around 7% of all grown ups (16 million-ish) people in the U.S. alone take part in the Yogic arts. Of non-yogi folks about 8%, or 18+ million say they are interested in and by Yoga.
• 73%-ish are ladies; 28% are dudes.
• 41% are 18 to 34 years old; 41% are 35 to 54; and 18.4% are over 55.
• 28.4% have been performing Yoga for around a year, or less; 21% have been performing for one to two years; 25.6% have practiced two to five years; and 24.6% have practiced more than five years.
• 71.4% are college edumacated. Those are some smart Yogis, eh?! 27% have postgraduate degrees. those are some super smart Yogis. Yowza!
• 44% of yogis have household incomes of about $75,000 +. You could pay for a lot of Yoga classes with that kinda cash!; 24% have more than $100,000. Buckoo-bucks. Hey, Will you pay for my classes?
Lots of people start yoga for lots of reasons. I started Yoga because I thought it would make a cool party trick to be able twist into a pretzel. Girls would think I’m fancy and extra cute! Ten years later...!

According to my sources (which I mostly swiped from a Yoga Journal survey taken in 2008‘) around 50% of the above mentioned folks started performing yoga to improve overall health.

Not only do many Western type doctors recommend not eating triple bacon Cheeseburgers deep fried in-between two donuts like a sweet delicious, greasy bun, they are also recommending, get this, meditation and Yoga as a way to stay healthy, happy and holy. Well, the first two anyhow! That is Suh-weeeeter than
any donuts I’ve ever eaten!

Yoga includes everything! Do Yoga and be complete!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Facebee: soon adding 20,000 new friends

location, location, location:
nectar right across the street
Next weekend finally, we pick up our packages of bees at the darling Beekind in Sebastopol.  Inside each little wooden box, we will have 10,000 new friends and a new queen, which we'll pour into their new homes.  One package we'll install at home, in the garden, the other at the shop, in the Canal.

At home yesterday, we spent a little time moving and leveling the hive boxes in their new spot for this season and beyond.  As we did so, it was in the company of wild bees, busy working over the Pride of Madeira, the apple blossoms, the borage, the Pawlonia.  They are beside themselves with busy-ness right now, heavy with pollen, so filled with purpose.  It's so great to have them here, to know that there's such abundant food for when the new bees arrive.

Since last July when both our hives died, it's been way too quiet in our yard.  Abruptly last summer both hives, the one we'd purchased the year before from Alan Hawkins, from whom we took a course at Green Gulch in 2009, the other a swarm we caught within days of completing our beekeeping classes, dropped dead, seemingly overnight, the ground in front of the hives covered with little corpses.  They'd been thriving, busy at their work, coming home laden with pollen, a little defensive of our hive-checks but healthy and strong.  And then suddenly, gone.

I found out just a couple of months ago that a neighbor two doors down had a thriving wild colony of bees under his deck commercially poisoned right around the same time as we lost our hives.  It doesn't seem so odd now that our bees died, possible victims of second-hand pesticide. It's such a shame to kill bees like that, I can't even believe anyone would do it in this day and age, particularly when there are dozens, if not hundreds, of avid beekeepers ready and willing to extract those bees and either keep them, give them away or sell them on Craig's List.

At any rate,  after this long period of quiet and a long, wet winter, I'm so glad to be introducing new residents to our yard.  Soon, once again, we'll reap the many benefits of their presence, not least of which is the simple joy of sitting by the hive, smelling that sweet smell of wax and honey, watching them flying in and out of the hive, spinning the bounty of the nectar-flow into gold of their own.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grieving Ratter

Long ago, before Harry Potter even, we were wild about The Golden Compass in this house.  That was way back in the days when I would read books aloud to The Kid, but really it was to all three of us, four of us once Jasper came along.  

So it went with The Chronicles of Narnia, with The Hobbit, with The Lord of the Rings, and then with the Dark Materials trilogy.  We didn't have television in those days, which was fine by us, so books it was.

As a book lover, that was a dream. As a children's lit lover, even more so.  I've never gotten over, forgotten, the books I loved as a child, and still re-read them now, marveling at how they grabbed me then and still grab me now.

The Golden Compass was new when we read it, and a revelation.  I'm not sure how I found out about it, but in the years that have passed, I have re-read it five times.  Which means that I'm now on my sixth reading, as I prepare to make a gift of the book to a young reader-friend but mostly as I grieve my lost dæmon, Jasper.

We had the good fortune to see Philip Pullman when Book Two: The Subtle Knife was published.  The three of us trooped down to Clean Well-Lighted Place for Books at Larkspur Landing on a school-night and sat mesmerized as the author himself talked about and read from the book.  Must have been 1997 or 98, I imagine, so The Kid was 10.  He and I had already logged hours and hours at that bookstore by that time, at Story Time on Sunday mornings (which held me much more rapt than him) or just generally browsing, stretched out on our stomachs companionably in the children's section, leafing through books.  It was a bit our library.  Since there was a cafe in the bookstore, I could imagine myself living in there -- all essentials covered.

Reading The Golden Compass aloud, I'd always pronounced dæmon "day-mun," probably as a way to differentiate if from dee-mun, using sound to make it clear that dæmon is not demon.  Imagine our surprise, then, when Mr. Pullman himself pronounced it dee-mun.

And truly, of all of the wonders Mr. Pullman creates, the dæmon reigns supreme.  Yes, I love Iorek Byrnison and all of the other panserbjorne (armored bears).  I love Serafina Pekkala and all of the other witches.  I love the parallel universes, the cities visible in the Northern Lights, but most of all, I love the dæmons.

As I re-read the book now this sixth time, it's with particular appreciation for how the story gradually unfolds the meaning of the dæmon, the rules for how this part of that world works.   As always, I hunger for a dæmon of my own, for that special relationship that the humans have with their external animal-shaped souls.  It's like a familiar but better.  Like Jiminy Cricket, but oh so much more sophisticated and multi-dimensional.  When you have a dæmon, you are never alone.  Your dæmon both amplifies and reveals the essential of who you are. 

My sister has just been reading The Golden Compass for the first time, so I have also been appreciating her joy in the story.  It's been so helpful to share this point of reference, so that she can now remind me that a large part of my grief at losing Jasper has been because he was like my dæmon, or as close to one as I am likely to get, in this lonely dæmon-less world we inhabit.  It's so true that throughout my life with Jasper, all of which was in the post-Golden Compass part of my life, I wished so fervently that he and I were as connected as human and dæmon, that he was with me everywhere and always, our minds and hearts truly interpenetrated, inexorably linked.

Over this morning's first coffee, I cried and sighed my way through Chapters 12 and 13, in which Lyra, Pan and Iorek find and bring back Tony Makarios.  This is truly the very heart of the story, and the part that is for me the true-est to how I've been feeling about Jasper lately, the deep cut and sharp sense of loss.  Like Tony, I keep asking, "You got my Ratter?"

I'm relishing this 6th time around with Lyra and Pantalaimon and the rest so much more, as I hold Jasper's memory close.  Feeling very grateful to Mr. Pullman, indeed, for the deep deep solace this represents.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

This is us today

Slept in this morning, woo hoo, til 6:45, didn't get out of bed til 7:45, didn't go to class til 10. A very different kind of Saturday morning than usual.

Almost didn't know what to do with myself.

It's gorgeous out today, and of course, I'm missing you-know-who, He Who Can Not Be Tamed. But we're enjoying the spring, too, being alive, having each other.

Here's my sweetheart, sling and all, riding the trainer.  

Joe has been robbed by the accident sustained two weeks ago, robbed of fitness and strength and feeling good, robbed of time on the bike, robbed of time in the garden and beekeeping.  It's challenging as hell for someone who does not have a taste for idleness (unlike myself) to have movement limited to maybe-i'll-sit-on-the-couch-propped-up-on-this-mountain-of-pillows or maybe-i'll-sit-on-the-bed-propped-up-on-this-mountain-of-pillows. You know I'd be kicking it with a pile of books, delighted to be still and quiet and adventuring in my mind.  For Action Man, not so much.

Let's be clear, riding the trainer is a challenge.  Poor right lung!

I went to a really great class with KK this morning, KK who is just such a supreme delight, like incarnated fizziness, bubbles made flesh.  Absolutely delightful, and so clear and so funny, direct, skillful.  Wow, we are so blessed with Anusara teachers around here.

Class was great, and now I'm home, a bit stunned at how late it is, and about to leave for the nursery on our quest for red ferns to plant around Jasper's little grave site.  Oh missing him so much today.

Since the accident two weeks ago, we've been keeping a little notebook.  OK, I've been keeping it, either interviewing Joe or making notes as I observe things or he says them aloud.  Keeping track of the many impacts on his happiness and life of that stupid car turning directly into his path.  It's our Pain and Suffering log, all of ways in which he, and we, can't live our lives to our usual fullest because of the injuries he sustained.

And there are many impacts.

Still, as usual, we're plugged into what's important.  I am so grateful that Joe is OK, that he's recovering and that although he is extremely constrained by his skeletal and organ damage, that he's himself.  That he's him.

That's a lot to be grateful for.


Friday, April 8, 2011

Toast Hound: I have just a few regrets

On the shiny Saturday before we lost Jas, on that Saturday when the vet told us that he had pneumonia and I was so relieved that he had something we could treat, I ordered him up at long last a sweet tag from Fetching Tags.  I'd heard about Fetching Tags through Brays of our Lives, the blog of the very clever and brainy Fenway Bartholomule, who is, naturally, a mule.  And really, so clever.

The fancy tag was something I'd long wanted to get for Jassie, to replace the $5 heart- or bone-shaped tags that we'd buy for him at PetCo, in the fascinating little engraving machine.  The letters would get worn off on those tags, or they'd wear right through and fall off, generally get lost.  But I just always held off on the fancy tag, not wanting Joe to think I was wasting money on something silly, waiting for who knows what.

Finally, when we had what we thought was that reprieve, I ordered one up for Mr. Pillowsticks -- reading Toast Hound on the front, his name, my number and a heart on the back.  

I was so happy on that day, so relieved and delighted that he'd be with us longer.  Buying the tag was a little celebration of more time.

We lost our boy, as you know, the following Wednesday, so fast, for us like being shoved off a cliff, and much, much heartache has ensued.  The bone-shaped silver tag on his beloved collar is still shiny and sits in front of  the collection of photos of him I arranged in the kitchen, with all of the sweet condolence cards people sent and some beeswax candles poured by some friends.   The Kid is wearing an older, worn red heart-shaped tag around his neck.

In the three weeks and two days that have now passed since that awful Wednesday, I've been watching the mailbox and wondering how I'd feel when I saw the tag.  

It came today, finally, in a tiny little envelope addressed to JASPER c/o Ariane Trelaun.  

It's adorable.  

Unfortunately, because of how things turned out, sweet sweet Pony Boy Jas will not be wearing this tag. Instead it's already around my neck and I may never take it off.  

I do really, really regret that I didn't do this cute thing sooner for him, my little Toast Hound, my breakfast-time companion every day for 13 1/2 years during which he and I shared my toast, not quite equally I admit.  What was so important about saving that $30 all that time?  Sure seems stupid now.

I also regret that I didn't do something else I thought about for years and ran out of time for: a family portrait of the 4 of us, especially as Jas got older and developed his gray beard and snout -- so distinguished and cute.  We were so much a family.  Now I see that I have photos of Jasper with one or two of us, but never all three at the same time -- someone had to be holding the camera!

Of course, I regret other things, too -- not spending every moment with him, that I was ever away from him, for stupid work or stupid vacations that now seem so insignificant compared to the great simple joy of being near him.  But that's a bit maudlin and unrealistic, don't you think?  He had a beautiful life, we loved him madly and he loved us.  He was happy to the very end.  And we with him.

So, just to say, precious lovee Toast Hound, that I'm wearing your tag with pride and with joy, remembering all our great times together, thousands of slices of toast, whether bagel or french bread or pugliese, all eaten with so much gusto and with big brown eyes filled with love.

Miss you so much.


Wolverines make me so happy

Photo credit: Alexei Bezrukov

In this wonderful tiny world we live in, there is a subculture for every interest and a way that the interwebs can serve it up to you, if you just plug into the right resources.  We discovered this when we began beekeeping a couple of years ago, and I am re-reminded of it regularly, now that I've entered Wolverine Land.  Since falling in love with Wolverine in December, I've been on several email lists which mean that I receive news and links to photos like the utter gem above.

And that I get to see how funny the results are when I say Yes to the Google Chrome auto-translate feature from Russian to English.  I really am better off dusting off my very dusty Russian skills to pick my way through the words on the page...

To read the story in English of how Alexei Bezrukov got the great photo above, see this post on The Wolverine Blog.  Or check out the original, even just for the incredible photos of Gulo gulo and some foxes, omg, I wish I were this guy.  And there's another blog by naturalist and photographer Igor Shpilenok with incredible photos that make me dream of Kamchatka.  It doesn't matter if you can read the words.  The images are incredible!

Photo credit: Igor Shpilenok

So yes, dreaming of the Russian Far North, but surprise, sometimes wolverine turns up in Marin County.  

Last weekend I got so excited as we approached the site of the Bakesale for Japan ($124K raised, wow!) when I saw, in the next lane, a cute little gray car with a stylized image of wolverine and emblazoned across the back and sides.  I was just making a mental note to look it up when the little Gulo gulo car pulled into a parking spot two over from ours.  Naturally, I stood around waiting for the driver to get out and then, like a kid, asked her tons of questions.  Patricia, the driver and founder of Gulo gulo Athletic, said that generally people just think the name is cute and musical but have no idea what it refers to.  And then there are people like me who flip out.  She's just launching the business, including yoga wear, and I am watching and waiting and hoping to be attired in Gulo gulo head to toe someday, proud bearer of that name.

Just like Gulo gulo, Patricia was on her way to a work-out, then yoga.  Yeah, just one isn't enough for a wolverine like her.  She will do both, thanks.

Yay, Wolverine, my hero!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Now I am really never moving...

It has been almost three weeks, and we are still grieving our sweet sweet pony-boy, Jasper.  In some ways, it's gotten better, less raw.  But I think I'll be crying multiple times every day for a long, long time, missing him so much.  

I shock myself repeatedly by forgetting, then remembering.  I get home and begin to call out his name, begin to weave his name into some goofy little song.  And then stop.  Remember.  In the mornings, I still listen for him.  Silence.

The stone that marks his grave in our garden was delivered today.  Joe supervised a team of 5 men who moved the 1,100-pound piece of flagstone into position.

We spent a long time as a family choosing this particular stone.  We wanted something beautiful, something big enough to stretch out on so that we could comfortably keep company with Mr. Fur Pants. 

The spot we placed him in is along the squirrel superhighway on the fence.  A spot the birds visit for seeds and worms.  A spot I can see from my bed, from everywhere in the garden.  It's not as good as hearing his walk, the jangle of his tag against his collar, but it's what we have now, so we'll take it.

We'll be bringing in a yard of soil soon, and planting around his stone.  We looked for a red fern, but the fern that marked the graves of Old Dan and Little Ann in "Where the Red Fern Grows" is purely mythical, it appears.  There are ferns that are red-ish, but no true red fern.

So now I'm really never, ever moving from this house.  I will never stray too far from where our Sweet Sharbles now lives, feeding the roses with his beautiful self.  

Miss him so much, but having a place to rest our eyes does make it better.  A place to stretch out with him in the sun, better still.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Goldilocks and the Three Gunas

Sometimes I wonder whether there is a Master Lesson Plan that all of my teachers receive in their in-box, establishing that week's theme.   I find that idea attractive, since it would mean that all of us, practicing together no matter where, are imbibing the same message, thinking about the same issues, reaching for the same new heights -- seems like a good thing.  But I know that's not what's happening.  I know it's an infinitely more creative process than that, and that since we're all around each other all the time, thinking about the same philosophical underpinnings, it's bound to happen that we're looping around, sometimes overlapping in ways that are just delightful.

And it's also likely that in this case, I am the common element from class to class, teacher to teacher, making the connections between what they're speaking.  It's inevitable that there will be similarity, but they're not working it out with each other in advance.  Leave that to me, yoga nomad, traveling from studio to studio with a little piece of thread sewing it all together.

At Laura's last Wednesday night class with our Sausalito kula for almost a whole month, she started us off talking about the three gunas, or energies: rajas (hot, fast, creative, restless), tamas (cool, slow, dull, sluggish), or sattva (calm, peaceful, clear).  Particularly on a Wednesday night, the class, filled with people coming from work, having had to rush-rush through traffic to get to the studio, is more rajasic.  You can hear it in the room, the chatter, the zing of conversation.  On Saturday mornings, when we're all there fresh from sleep and still in that zone, the mood of the room is more tamasic, the invocation is quieter, more harmonious, sometimes too slow.

The point of the practice is to arrive at that sattvic middle ground, exemplified by savasana really, a pose in which we're calm and quiet but also aware. If you're snoring, too much tamas!

In that class with Laura, we played with finding sattva in every pose, with not over-efforting, not being overly busy in a standing pose, with adding an element of ease in the pose as well, of relaxation.  A little bit of savasana in every pose.

I took a few days off of going to class because of work and getting ready for the Bakesale.  When I came to my mat yesterday morning in a studio that is not as familiar to me, with some people I know but mostly people I don't, I was tired, could feel a migraine starting to buzz around in the back of my skull, dull.  So it was particularly delightful that Abby told the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  It was just what I needed to hear.  It was Just Right.

Because that's what the story is all about.  When Goldilocks lets herself into the three bears' house, she makes her way through their porridge, their chairs, their beds.  In all cases, the first things she tries -- porridge, chair, bed -- is too hot, too high, too hard; the second is too cold, too low, too soft; the third is Just Right.  Ultimately, she falls asleep in Baby Bear's cozy Just Right little bed, where she is discovered by the Bears upon their return.

The yoga, Abby said, is about the awareness of being Just Right.  Which we all are, just by being here.  We're Just Right.  There's nothing to add, there's nothing to take away.  Just Right.

And of course -- lightbulbs flashing in my head, hand scribbling in notebook -- what are the porridge, chairs, beds, but expressions of the gunas, right?  One is too hot (rajas), another too cold (tamas), and the third Just Right (sattva).  As with porridge, so with life!

I went back and did a little re-reading of Goldilocks, before writing this.  Aspects of the story are embedded deep in my brain, but others I just couldn't remember.  I was surprised to find that in some versions of the story, Goldilocks is a horrible snoot of a child, arrogant, bossy, who lets herself into Bears' house to demonstrate to herself that their place is so ugly, hers is so much better.  At the end of this version of the story, Goldilocks, discovered by the Bears asleep in the Just Right bed, after Just Right porridge and Just Right chair, is transformed into a sweet and loving girl.  But only after having found and experienced the Just Right.

And what is savasana but the experience of resting in the Just Right bed, from which we arise, like Goldilocks, transformed?

As Douglas says, we are every character in every story.  It was always easy for me as a golden-locked child to be Goldilocks.  But even as a darker-haired grown-up, I see it now, the way I'm Goldilocks in a different way, the way we all are, seeking the Just Right, the balanced place of sattva in every experience, and made better for it.

Thank you, darling teachers, for the reminder.  May all beings be Just Right!

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Peddling cupcakes, giving away love

There's so much bad news about the world available to us all the time -- the miserable crap that people do unto each other, other creatures, the planet; natural disasters; unnatural disasters like bombing Libya, just for example. When really big bad things happen, like earthquakes and tsunamis and nuclear fall-out, it's so easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer badness of it, the magnitude of the problem, to feel helpless, small, even isolated, in the face of it.

We have an urge to help, to do something, something more than texting a donation or mailing a check.  The hands want to get involved.

Thanks to the creative vision of Samin Nosrat, hundreds, thousands, of us across the country had a chance to involve the hands through the Bakesale for Japan, held today, coast-to-coast.  It was a profoundly moving experience from beginning to end, and I'm sitting here, filled to the brim with happiness, so grateful for this day.

* * * * * 

If you've been reading me or hanging around me lately, then you know that March was a supremely shitty month.  We lost our beloved Jasper precipitously on March 16th and have been deeply, deeply grieving him since then.  Last Sunday Joe was in a serious accident that landed him in the ER and then hospital for three days with four broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a broken scapula, and punctured lung.  It has been intense to say the least.  

Remember how the force of the earthquake in Japan on March 13th shifted the earth's axis?  That's a bit how I've been feeling lately, too.  Like the ground isn't where it used to be.

And with all that, I've been wanting to pull back from things.  I spent hours the Tuesday after Jasper's passing trying to figure out how to withdraw from Herpetology, for example.  I've been having trouble, a lot of trouble, focusing at work, even though it's a new job and I love it. There have been many occasions when I haven't gone out or gone to class, in favor of being home staring at Jassie's pillow or staring at birds.  

But when I heard about the Bakesale, I had no hesitation.  This was something I wanted to help with, if only to be able to work with Samin, who is one of those amazing people who makes things happen.  

* * * * *

The Bakesale came together very fast.  From a handful of locations in SF and the East Bay, it exploded across the country.  I was delighted this morning to awaken to pictures my sister was posting from her shift at the Bakesale in Brooklyn.  I loved feeling a part of something happening nationwide, an outpouring of caring from our combined yoga and foodie kulas, drawing in lots and lots of new people along the way.

There's something just so basic about a Bakesale, right?  It's such a great, familiar grassroots way to address a problem, to come together in community to raise money.  Everybody knows how to do this.  It speaks so appropriately to our need to involve the hands and to get involved with each other, to connect with each other through action.  It's an amazing yoga, in so many ways. 

I loved my role for our Bakesale.  I loved promoting it via Facebook and postings on other websites.  I loved emailing people and working to secure donations.  I loved meeting our hosts at Marin Country Mart, who were so generous with resources and marketing and such a big part of our success today.  I loved being there this morning early, and greeting our crew, each person bringing such amazing energy and heart to the task.  And so many bringing such gorgeous treats baked for the occasion.

I got to see old friends and current friends.  I got to make new friends.  I got to be a part of and observe dozens and dozens of beautiful interactions as we "sold" cookies or bread, the way people's faces would light up, how obviously good they felt doing something for others even while doing something for themselves.

* * * * *

I am reminded, naturally, of something that Douglas said last weekend, that our yoga is about getting what we want while serving the greater good.  Over and over again I watched the wheels turning in people's minds today, the expressions on their faces, when they realized that they weren't buying the bag of cookies or lemon bars or almond cake.  They were being invited, instead, to have the bag of cookies or lemon bars or almond cake and give the contribution that they could to the worthy cause of Japan relief.  The way this transformed the interaction over and over again was a beautiful thing to watch.  And the money came pouring in.

Because essentially we weren't peddling cupcakes, we were giving away love.  And they were giving it back.

It might sound crazy, but honestly, that's how it felt.  

And so I've been sitting here, savoring the sweetness of the day, and considering how the urge to philanthropy, to helping others, is deeply self-serving and what a good thing that is.  It feels good to do for others.  It feels good.

* * * * *

After a very full day, I feel good.  Really good.  I'm happy to have been part of something so simple and lovely, to have done my part to make it happen, to help create this opportunity for giving.  And to receive the bounty right back, big boomerang of love.

Thank you, Samin.  You did all our hearts so much good.  In Japan and here, we are grateful for what you created today, for connecting us back up, cookie to cookie, hand to hand.