Sunday, August 28, 2011

Everything is grace.

Honey by magic
Label design by Martine Trelaun
I most definitely feel more like myself today, thank Goodness. And maybe that's why some chance words of Abby's have echoed in my head all day long.  We were talking before class, and in response to something I said (probably about Embrace Yoga, which I'm so excited about), Abby accidentally said, "that's Grace," when she meant to say, "that's great."  I love it when word-fun happens, and that one was so perfect.

And it pretty much describes this day so far: super-great,  super-Grace.

Class was awesome this morning.  I definitely still felt the effects of the anemia but was nevertheless stronger than I have been.  I felt really good about my strap-assisted Natarajasana -- the pose felt more accessible than it ever has before, so now if only I could manage the initial weirdo foot-grab, I think I could take it deeper.  [If you don't know this Natarajasana of which I speak and would like to see what I'm working toward, click here for a photo of Laura Christensen rocking the pose poolside in the paradise that is Careyes, Mexico.  Make no mistake: I can't rock it that big yet, but I'm determined...]

Another Grace-y aspect of today is that it's 3:30 on a Sunday and I'm awake, not sacked out under a book in bed as I have been for many Sundays in a row.  Instead of I am savoring the bounty of our garden and bees in a big way.  So far I've made three jars of delicious pesto from the basil we grew, and Joe and I just finished jarring up the honey we harvested yesterday.  Three frames of capped honey yielded 200 ounces of honey, TWENTY TWO jars full!  And it's absolutely delicious.

Label design: Martine Trelaun
Once we were done jarring up the liquid gold, we decided to put the crushed wax, still in its nylon bag, in the sun, to see if perhaps the heat would free up a little more honey into the bottom of the bowl.  Naturally, within second, bees -- and yellowjackets, so not a fan of those bee-eating biters -- were all over this free meal.  It might not have been such a great idea, but now, there is no way we can do anything about it.  When the sun goes down and the bees go home, we'll see what they've left us.  But really, no complaining is possible, not with 3 jars of pesto, 22 jars of honey and a full tank of energy.

Everything is just fine. Better than fine.  Everything is just Grace.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Little honey harvest

Locally-queened hive at set-up
We have three hives going this year, two that we purchased as packages from Beekind in Sebastopol, another that is the result of a swarm taken at our friend Rebecca's house. The purchased packages (which means we bought a little box with a queen + 10,000 workers in it) had different queens: one was Italian, the other Local, reared in Sebastopol.  Who knows what kind of queen the swarm bees have -- all we know is they are some ornery bitches, dark and short-tempered.

This is our third year of beekeeping and probably our best yet.  In 2009, when we started, we bought one package and caught two swarms, one of which landed in our apple tree on Mother's Day.  To see our keystone cops-style antics to catch this enormous swarm when we only have maybe two weeks of experience under our belts, click here.  The second swarm was much smaller, and didn't survive the turn into winter, leaving a full box of honey.   The package bees survived the winter, as did Swarm 1.  We were learning, bumbling along, making mistakes, getting stung and learning, and feeling pretty good about our survival rate, all things considered.

We came into 2010 with those two hives, then both queens perished simultaneously in July -- when the hives had been going strong til then.  We think they were victims of the poisoning of a wild hive two doors over.  Because the queens had died and we didn't catch it soon enough, some of the workers had already deludedly decided that they were queens, laying drone eggs.  Any effort to introduce a true queen at that point would have ended in murder and failure.  So we were stuck with watching their populations slowly dwindle and die.  We had no choice but to let it go and wait til spring to start again.

The point of all of this is to say that to date, we have never had an actual honey harvest.  OK, in fall of 2009 when Swarm 2 died off and left us a box of honey, we did crush the comb, strain and bottle the honey.  But it wasn't a managed, sustainable harvest, you know?  It was just making lemonade out of lemons.  

This weekend, though, we managed, finally, to have a harvest, albeit a little one.  Which felt really good.  

On Friday Joe pulled three full frames of capped honey off our most successful hive -- interestingly, the hive with the Locally-reared queen -- replacing them with three empty frames with beeswax foundation.  He left plenty-plenty of honey stores in the hive and, by taking off frames, ensured that the bees have space and don't decide that abundance = time to split.  Sadly, I was unable to participate in that particular operation, since I was chained to a spreadsheet at work until 6 yesterday afternoon.  :(

Leaving us with three frames of honey to process. Here is just one of those frames, weighing in at between 5-6 pounds.

We used a very old-school harvest technique that consists of breaking the comb out of the frame into a nylon sieve placed in a special 5-gallon bucket with a tap and shut-off valve. Here's that same frame about to be crushed into the waiting bucket.

I don't have photos of the actual crush so you'll just have to imagine Joe and me sitting in the garage on little folding metal chairs left over from when The Kid was really a kid, knees wide and scootched up as close to the harvest bucket as possible, while we crushed comb and honey between our fingers into as uniform a mash as possible.  It's a super-gooey experience, drippy, honey to your elbows, honey on whatever clothes you're wearing, honey on the floor, honey in your hair.

And naturally, into your mouth, in as sanitary a fashion as possible, always conscious that the product of this harvest will feed us and others.  It never ceases to taste miraculous, but I think I like it best when it's closest to its origin, when it's still mixed with wax, still recognizable as the work of our bees, little alchemists transmuting flowers into liquid gold.

Once the crush was done, then Joe squeezed and squeezed the nylon sieve, honey pouring out.  Right now the ball of wax and honey is sitting atop the bucket, the remaining honey draining out slowly.  We think those three frames will yield a neat gallon of honey.  

Sometime tomorrow we'll check again as the day warms up, and see where things stand.  And then open the tap and start filling bottles!  Yay!!  

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Bag Thing

Recently, I was first in bed and asked Joe if he wouldn't mind fetching my glasses.  I was already cozy, pillows just-so, book propped on belly, when I realized I was missing my eyes. They're in my purse, I called out as he headed down the hall to the kitchen, confident that I'd provided adequate instruction to assist him in his search.  

A few minutes later, as he handed me my glasses, he said, "You might as well have said they're in your hiding place."  Neatly expressing, I think, all of the mystery (to him) of what is all this shit I carry around with me everywhere I go.  When pockets could suffice.  If my clothes had anything but the most decorative of pockets, that is.

But I could never just use my pockets, unless they were really, really big pockets, and how absurd would that be?  I need a bag to move my life from one spot to another throughout the day, and derive a great deal of security from having my tools with me wherever I go.  But the bag thing is something I've been thinking about lately, both the bag proper and its content.

I've been unhappy with my particular purse for a while, re-entering this phase where I am always looking for the perfect bag.  I keep thinking I have this thing licked, find what I think what will the perfect bag, the bag to end all bags, only to find that it still doesn't work for my needs.  There was the green suede bucket bag, made in Marin, that lasted me a while, but then became a source of endless frustration as I dug about in its slouchy deep corners and crannies to find things.  There was the blue suede many-pocketed purse which promised to hold each thing in its place and be sizeable enough for school notebooks, but then that one drove me crazy with its largeness, items swimming around in its leopard-print interior, swallowed by the vastness.

My clever husband coined a term for a bag of this nature.  He calls it a "souch," which is a cross between "slouch" and "pouch."  

So I've been back to a beat-up old Timbuktu messenger bag for months.  It offers the right interior dimensions and pockets, without so much space that my portables get out of control.  It wears slung across my back, so that my hands are free, no purse annoyingly slipping off a shoulder and causing a coffee catastrophe.  It corresponds to my loathing for the fussy, and yet I always do feel like a bit of an impostor stepping out of my car with a bike-bag.  But someday, when I'm no longer an anemic shadow of my former self, I'll be back on the bike and the bag-hypocrisy won't bite me so hard in the arse.  

I like to think what I carry around is significant, that what I carry it in also matters.  It's a detail I notice about others.  And I harbor a secret wish -- sometimes acted upon -- to ask my friends to let me root around in their bags-of-tricks, see what's important enough to them to carry around everyday.  

So I reached out to friends, looking for inspiration and some company in This Bag Thing, via this email:  
I wonder if you’d like to help me with a little project.  Participation is entirely voluntary.  The list of invitees is a little random, a little not so random, just to see what will happen. 
I’m a little obsessed with bags at the moment, particularly what people, I mean we, I mean women, carry around in them. This is probably because I’m between bags at the moment, dissatisfied, and wondering when I’ll finally procure the final bag, the perfect bag, the bag to end all bags.  But in truth, I’ve always been fascinated by the contents of other people’s purses, am always curious about what people choose to lug around, what’s important enough to take with us wherever we go.  
So, here’s what I’m looking for:  I want to know what’s in your bag.  Please send me one photo taken with your phone or camera, nothing fancy, of the contents of your purse.  You can pose the bag itself in the shot if you like, and arrange the contents so that they can easily be seen by others. 
If it’s of interest, you can provide a description of contents, or add any anecdotes or thoughts about the why of what you carry around.  Especially if there’s something nutty you always carry – lucky charm, sentimental trinket, what-have-you.
I am so grateful to the lovelies who opted to indulge my curiosity, sending photos and commentary.  I'll be sharing their responses in this space in the coming weeks, telling the story of their stuff. 

Stay tuned - so fun!


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

an accumulation of signs

we mostly live by ourselves now.  it's just joe and me in our mostly tidy house.  the kid is here maybe one or two nights a week, but sometimes i become aware that he has been home while we're at work.  because i see in patterns, i read his signs easily.

the following represents an accumulation of signs of his passage taken over several visits.  i don't know why this interests me, but i find it comforting to find his traces in the house, even now when we don't see so much of him.  as soon as i see the first sign, i float through the house gathering up the rest, putting together a picture of his presence, imagining him going about his life while it intersects briefly with the place we all call home.  as a reader, i glean from the signs, putting together stories.  like a little animal, i shamble about, room to room, sniffing up evidence, reconstructing the path that other little animal took.

which doesn't always make me popular.  i was asked last night via text if i make it a practice to go through the trash when i get home.  as a rule, no, i don't.  but when i notice something interesting in the bin, i might ask about it.  

but i can't help it.  it comforts me to see these markers of my boy's existence in our house still.       i like knowing he was here even when i wasn't.  the little signs he leaves behind make me happy, even when i'm picking up the bath mat for the ten-thousandth time.

a jacket on the hearth,
sometimes a backpack

toss-away coffee cup,
generally in the trash.  sometimes
soda bottles in the recycling.

laundry doors left open.
i always close them.

that pesky bath mat just doesn't hang itself

sometimes new artwork appears

sometimes a new single on the coffee table

Friday, August 19, 2011

what gets easier

This week marks 5 months since we lost our sweet, sweet pony-boy Jasper.  It's for really-reals that the missing-him is such pain.  I cry less frequently, but I'm still not bothering about mascara -- the torrent is always right there, ready to go.  It's an unusual day if I don't weep at least once.

Today was kind of a break-through for me in my long grief: I went for our usual walk around the neighborhood, maybe a mile and a half, the walk that we always referred to as "neighbies."  I tried this walk in the first few weeks after FurPants's passing, but I made it about two blocks before the tears forced me home.

Today, though, I got all the way through it, got to pet two labrador retrievers bouncing along off-leash with their people, got to pet one collar-less black cat who came trotting straight up to me, eyes locked on mine, when I called it.  And I got to check in on our neighborhood, a place I was so much more familiar with when I walked it regularly with Jasper, always knowing who was moving, watching people's renovations, the progress of their vegetables.

Periodically this morning, I'd say aloud, "oh, sweet pony," remembering the sight and sound of Jasper trotting alongside me, seeing him everywhere I looked really, delightful constant companion.  I got through it without crying, even though, naturally, I'm crying now.

What gets easier about grief is that you learn to walk more easily with ghosts.  He is still with me and yet, of course, he's not.  Navigating that presence/absence -- the ghost -- is what gets more comfortable.  Not easy, just easier.

I know some people who are recent arrivals in this land of woe, having lost their old and beloved dogs this week.  To them I say, Welcome.  And yeah, this is super-, super-hard, most definitely the biggest heartbreak that certainly I've ever felt.  I feel for you, I really, really do.  Keep the tissues close, take time off, feel your feelings, and ride it out.

Mr. Cuteness, I miss you so much.  But I'm also so grateful that in a way, now, I'll never be without you. I'm walking along over here with your ghost by my side always.

Five months down, a lifetime to go.   A lifetime of gratitude for the almost-fourteen years we had together, Jasper Bacon Trelaun, sweet furry boy.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

paranoia is a (useful) bitch

As usual, I'm reading everything I possibly can about anemia, since the lab work finally revealed it end of last week as the likely cause of my recent months of listlessness and fatigue. I knew it was more than just my heart-break and grief over losing Jasper. No, this drag-ass-ed-ness is more than that. Literally, I have been feeling like I just have absolutely nothing in the tank, no matter how much I sleep or caffeinate or beg and plead. Nothing. It has also affected my thinking, which is such a drag given that I started a new job in January. Many a day has gone by where I bet they've rued the hire of this moron.

Seriously! I have been feeling like an utter idiot, can't keep information connected in my head, making mistakes I would never, ever otherwise make.

But there it is.

For a moment I thought this was it, I'd had my Flowers for Algernon peak, I'd had my brief flash of intelligence and creativity, and now was making the precipitous unstoppable slide into imbecility. For a while I toyed with the notion of Parkinson's, from which my Great Aunt Cuquita died. And thanks to my aunt and my cousin and my baby sister, naturally I entertained the idea that perhaps, finally, I had a brain tumor, some voracious mutant cells squeezing the life out of me.  Less dramatically, I began to wonder if this was what it was to age, to feel this dimming of energy, this dull loss of joie de vivre.  If this was menopause, it sucked.

[Aside: a friend quoted and praised my recent post on eyebrows on Facebook the other day, highlighting these lines "
‎"...there has to be a way to replace Crazy and Good with Not-Crazy and Good. Good doesn't mean I have to put up with Crazy, and Not-Crazy shouldn't mean Crap. I'm nowhere near giving up on this possibility..."  In response, one of her friends wrote, "In my opinion there is no such thing as good and bad, it's all relative. So make it mean anything you want. It's only your own perception about it that matters anyhow."  That kind of yogic la-la relativity makes me want to throw things -- when I have the energy.  A fucked-up eyebrow is not relative.  It is.  And it sucks.  Doing something well rather than poorly matters.  Feeling bad is relative, sure,  to feeling good, but it still sucks.  I'm not loving it because it's my duty as a yogi.  I'm doing my utmost to kick its ass and crawl my way back to full health and strength.  Namaste on that, yo.]  

Thank goodness for my medical plan. It allowed me to advocate for myself as strenuously as possible under the circumstances, and to have rapid-fire email exchanges with my doctor in which I could express the full extent of my concern and, yes, paranoia.  And yeah, that paranoia that can be such a bitch, keep me awake in the middle of the night, mulling over every possibility, that paranoia landed me where I am now, in the spotlight of my doctor's full attention.  That is good.

Here's how it went over about 30 minutes on Monday.  Note that I have copied and pasted the exchange just as it took place, not correcting for punctuation or spelling.  My doctor talks loud, moves fast and clearly doesn't have time for pauses, let alone full-stops, when she writes.  When she's not dealing with nightmare patients like me, she's doing relief work in Haiti, for reals.  [Aside #2: but sometimes I wonder whether she's got a little too much Crazy bundled with the Good.  Except that right now I don't feel capable of making a change.]

Me: Based on the ferritin result (17), I am wondering what's next. I would love to feel better than I do right now!

Doc: Take iron twice daily i just sent you a letter, get iron over the counter, twice daily 3 to 6 months.

Me: OK, thanks. Since it may take the letter a couple of days to reach me, can you let me know how much iron I should be taking daily? I'd like to get started on this asap. Thanks so much.

Doc: Twice per day. 

Me: OK, will do. As for the Vitamin D, am I to continue supplementing this, as well? I am a bit concerned about why these should both be a problem for me all of a sudden, if perhaps there is some underlying cause.

Doc: Everyone is low in vitamin d. Hematologist says heavy periods common to cause this and g.i. Work up is next endoscopy colnoscopy have you had those before?

Me: Haven't had either endoscopy or colonoscopy. I'm sorry if I'm seeming paranoid, but there's been so much cancer around me lately (my sister, my husband) - kind of messes with your head. Thanks for your patience and care!

Doc: i will send consult to gastro for those tests.

I think Woody Allen said, "Paranoia is knowing all the facts."  In my case, honestly, I think what may seem like paranoia is a well-placed desire to protect myself and my family from further misery.  With Joe, I think he and I both wonder if they might not have caught that damn Potato (our name for the lymphomic tumor which grew to large Russett proportions) sooner had we not pushed harder.  Based on that experience alone, I don't feel like I can afford to take some la-la everything-is-good attitude.  I want to live a long time and I want to live well, hearty, hale, with full faculties, taking names.

But it's going to be a while before I'm back to hearty, etc.  From something I read this morning, it can take 6 months to a year for the body to recover from anemia.  I'm not sure how serious mine is compared to what I'm reading about, but 6 months?  That's so long!  Meanwhile, I'll keep drinking my iron twice a day, waiting for test dates, and picking my way out of this bog.  And trying not to make my doctor too much crazier with my paranoid questions.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Breaking up with Crazy, part 2

in better days...
Everything about Breaking up with Crazy is going great. Swimmingly. Except for the part about breaking up with my esthetician, the woman who performed my monthly brow waxing for a long time. A really long time, with great results. Unfortunately she got just too freakin' nuts and her dog bit me, etc. Read more here, if you don't already know the story. The brows part is not going well, really not cool.

I thought I was getting a great deal when I jumped on a Living Social or a Groupon or one of the hundreds of other offers that are emailed to me daily: 5 brow waxes for $50.  The location was convenient, and damn, what a great price.  But I only used the first appointment, meaning I took the gamble and lost.  Because here is what happened.

The office was in kind of a funky building.  I wasn't thrilled about that part, but then again, I was buoyed by the prospect of five months of basic upkeep for $50, willing to overlook it. The esthetician was fine.  I've gotten a lot better at small talk, so I could sustain 30 minutes of chatter about her cats and her boyfriend.  La, la, la, everything's going fine.  Until she put the mirror up to my face, waxing complete, and I noticed that the brows were completely uneven, one big chunk taken off the base of the right hand side.  I pointed it out, and she said words that should never be used by professionals dealing with your hair, whether the hair on your head or elsewhere:

"It'll grow back."

Actually now that I remember it, first she said the brows weren't uneven.  It was just my face.

Really!  I'm not kidding.  

I felt a little sick the whole way back from the appointment to the office, still sticky from remnants of wax on my face, fully aware that my new specs only made it all the more obvious that my brows were completely crooked.


I've been feeling a little wax-shy after that experience, relying on tweezers with uneven results.  And feeling a bit raggedy, not my favorite.  

So when we came out of the movies yesterday afternoon and there was a Benefit right next door, while Joe was listening to his voice mail, I popped in.  They were closing in 5 minutes but could do my brows. 


So I sat in the window, which is such a weird thing, and made pleasant banter with my esthetician with whom, naturally, I had yoga in common.  Naturally.  Joe ambled in and got to observe this process that he's never seen before.  I should have watched his face a little more closely, should have noticed his own brows go up in alarm.  Instead it was the esthetician who said, one brow done, as she held up the mirror to my face, that she'd made a teensy little mistake, but no worries.

"It'll grow back."

This time it's the left brow, uneven chunk in the top.  Are you fucking kidding me?

I stayed pleasant.  Freaking out wouldn't resolve anything, and honestly, an eyebrow doesn't seem like something to freak out about.  Except, damn it, I was bummed since I am 2 for 2 on the sucky eyebrow experience.  And it's my face.

At least she did a good job on the right one.  And at least, probably because of the yoga connection and because I didn't lose my shit completely at her mistake, she comp'ed me the waxing.  

I felt so awkward not tipping her, but I think, under the circumstances, I couldn't really tip, could I?  Would be sending an altogether mixed message.  Based on her work on the right brow and the way she handled the problem, I will give her a second chance.

Because honestly, there has to be a way to replace Crazy and Good with Not-Crazy and Good.  Good doesn't mean I have to put up with Crazy.  And Not Crazy shouldn't mean Crap.  I'm nowhere close to giving up on the possibility that I have clean, even brows without dog drama or human drama.

I may be wrong but I'm not done trying yet.  And meanwhile, it's growing back.

Friday, August 12, 2011

that weren't no decaf.

We went for an early dinner last night to the delicious and award-winning Mulberry Street Pizzeria, where I very happily had:

     1 side salad, ranch dressing on the side
     1 slice of their delicious house-made bread dipped in dressing
     1 slice of pizza
     1 chocolate chip cookie so warm and gooey I ate it with a spoon
     1 cup of decaf coffee

The husband and I are both eating less at the moment, so I make an effort to count my food, to be really conscious about what goes in the mouth, and how much exercise I am or am not getting.  Naturally, he is doing better at this than me, but I am still doing what I can.

Oh, I forgot to say that I ordered 1 beer, of which I drank probably 2/3.  Lately my rule has been either alcohol or dessert.  Last night, clearly I forgot my own rule.  Oops.

A cup of coffee after dinner is always appealing and is generally something I avoid.  But last night, for whatever reason -- I was having a good time, Joe was whispering stories to me about people at neighboring tables, I was eavesdropping on the extremely good dad in the next booth speaking quietly and strongly to his two small children about how one behaves in a restaurant -- I went for the coffee.  It's also true that I was feeling super-content about having had all three meals on a weekday in the company of my sweetheart, if I count his rushed multi-tasking breakfast before he dashed out on his ride.

The coffee arrived in a tall skinny glass mug and was surprisingly tasty.  With one teaspoon of cream stirred into it.

No surprise it was tasty.  I had plenty of time between 2 and 5 this morning to consider that that weren't no decaf.

This has happened to me countless times, and yet I still reach for it from time to time, given my love of the flavor, the combination of the hot and bitter with something cooler and sweet after dinner, the perfect finish.  I adore coffee and reject any cure that requires me to give it up.  I've quit it a few times, only to quit the quitting and come back on board, savoring the return and the steady, sustaining buzz of the caffeine.  I love it.

Being awake was not so bad.  I grabbed my headlamp and read for about an hour, my 1,000-page novel propped on a pillow.  I listened to coyotes yipping in the neighborhood.  I turned out the light and tried to sleep, but listened to owls instead and to Joe's steady, sometimes snarfly, breathing.  I got up a few times as the full moon traveled across the sky, to see if I could glimpse the Perseid meteor shower, or maybe the raccoons sneaking around the yard.  No luck.  I dozed between 5 and 6 finally, interrupted by the alarm three times, 5:30, 5:35 and 6, and now here I am, after a mostly restless night.

But not unhappy at all.

And wondering if really I'm a little nocturnal and crepuscular.  I love the middle of the night and the early morning and the dusky time, but not so much the middle.  So I'm feeling grateful to that cup of coffee after dinner last night for letting me experience the dark and all its sounds, for giving me an hour more to read.  I may crash around 2pm but it was so worth it, so tasty, so good.


Tuesday, August 9, 2011

wait, death: i take it back

Not long after I railed against death yesterday -- my #1 Most Hated, followed by cancer -- I was reminded that that's utter nonsense.  How could someone like me, someone who loves dead stuff, hate death?  Me, a person who will stop a car to get out and look at and photograph, if not pick up and take home, roadkill?  Me, a person who has many times extolled the virtues of death as allowing for close examination of animals who would otherwise hightail it far, far out of reach?  Me, a person with an animal skull collection and with specimens (vulture, fox, bobcat, vole) buried all over the yard?  Absurd!  Utter nonsense!

I am grateful to Paxton Gate in San Francisco for reminding of me this fact.

But do I really have $385 for this class?  If I sell off unwanted possessions, maybe? I can certainly rationalize it as a therapy right now, as a way to mend fences with the big D, on whom I cast so many aspersions yesterday (as in, "death and his bullshit,"etc.).  And now of course because my sweet Jas is across that loathsome rainbow bridge, there will be no one trying to eat these delectable museum-quality small mammal mounts.

Monday, August 8, 2011

death: I hate you even more than cancer

I am not done.  Yep, still grieving over here.  If you tuned out for a few months and hoped I'd be done when you got back, bad news: Nope. Still heartbroken.  Still lonely. Still purposeless and adrift without the tether of my beloved four-legged best friend.  Still really and suddenly and constantly sad.  

I have spent about the last four hours soaking every available tissue with buckets of tears, just miserable over the loss of Jasper, over knowing I'll never lay eyes on his 3D self again in this plane, although I see him frequently in my dreams.  And I know it's completely idiotic to hate death, of all things. But I'm serious: I'm not going to pollyanna or sugar-coat this or say it's not my favorite.  I'm going straight for hate on this one.

Thanks to death and his bullshit, I am convinced that I'll never be truly happy in any kind of lasting way again.  Ever. 

That's crazy, right?  You can go ahead and say it.  You can go ahead and tell me I'm depressed, too, if you want to.  My only response to that is that yeah, DUH, of course, I'm depressed.  Obviously. 

But how not to be?  How depressing is it, really, that someone you love so much can exist, be doted on and touched and snuggled up and sung to for almost fourteen years, and then just vanish, just disappear?  How is that possible?  Believe me, I know intellectually how it's possible, and I can also tell myself a whole story about how he has just returned to the source, his molecules dissolving, reforming, etc., but it doesn't do anything for my heart.  My heart doesn't give a shit about any of that or about the rainbow bridge.  It just, I just want him back, I just crave a rewind of the last fourteen years of my life to any point in that timespan that had him in it, wagging, running, smiling with his entire body.

At least I never, not for one moment, took any of my time with Jasper for granted.

Used to be that it was cancer I hated with a vengeance, cancer who in one year grabbed Alex, and my sister, and Jasper briefly, then my Joe.  Cancer with its miserable darkness.  But death?  Hate it even more than cancer.

I know, I know that's silly.  I know I need to accept what is.  I need to square myself to what is.  But there's such a big part of me that sometimes just doesn't care, that doesn't see any real point.  And oh yeah, that big part that doesn't see the point?  That's my heart, the big broken part of me, the part that just can't right now do anything but grieve.

This is not a cry for help.  Don't be gross.  This is just me, keening, deep in my piles of sodden kleenex.  I get to do this, having lost someone I loved so much.  I suppose this is what happens when you love really big.  The pain of loss is equally big, expanding just like the love did, until it too vanishes, disappears beyond where the eye can see.

Miss you, miss you, miss you, Mr. Pillowsticks, sweet sweet Mr. Brown, Sharbles, Baby Cakes, every moment, every day.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

life is but a dream

Saturday August 6th was utterly dreamy, beginning with an amazing class for our Hero, Diana Long, followed by some quiet time at home, then dinner with The Kid and Girlfriend.  Oh, and then a big helping of Shark Week as a little night-cap.  Suh-weet!

Here's part of my day in pictures.  No words.  Struck dumb, camera in hand, utterly stunned by what happens right outside my door.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Diana, I love you!

I am really thinking so much about our Hero, Diana Long.  She has been in the hospital for weeks now, as doctors have been trying to get her out of extreme pain, figure out what's happening in her stomach, and get her well enough to endure the treatment she needs for the leukemia that has very sadly returned.  She lost a lot of weight over the past few weeks, but is, Laura says, gaining some back now, which is a really good thing.  Her husband Jim is with her, as are her daughters, taking turns.

We deeply miss her in our Sausalito kula, the Sausie Posse.  She is deeply missed in Berkeley, too, as part of Abby's kula.

Diana is someone who inspires all of us with so much love and courage and strength and kindness.  Someone so generous and so loving.  Someone who never fails to dazzle with her smile.

I think we all want to be just like Diana when we grow up.

I wanted to share something I wrote on Diana's birthday last year, so jazzed by what she'd done in class that I came home, wrote it, sent it off to the local paper.  They ran it a few weeks later, but I don't think I ever posted it here.

With much love to Diana, always.


*  *  *  *  *

In celebration of her 70th birthday, my friend Diana was asked to demonstrate handstand in our Saturday morning yoga class.  As Diana set up for the pose, in the middle of the room, the teacher walked us through what Diana was doing, how committed her fingertips were into her mat, how strong her arms.  And then a light kick, and up she went.  The teacher kept a hand on each of Diana’s hips, and we sang her Happy Birthday as she held there, upside down, perfect.

This is a devoted crew, the Saturday morning 8:30 gang that meets to practice with our beloved teacher.  We know little about each other off the mat, what we do for a living, how we came to be in this place.  What we do know is this shared devotion and the deep bonds we form with each other through it.  It’s a remarkable process to be a part of, participating in the practice of yoga and finding new and delightful friendships as a result.

When the song was through and Diana touched down, we all cheered and applauded her.   It’s always a stunning thing to celebrate one in our midst this way, the way we all feel happy when someone manages something for the first time – that first backbend, for example, the first arm-balance.  It was a new experience for me when I started yoga almost 8 years ago now, to share in someone else’s triumphs like that, a new trick mastered, a body gone where its person never thought it would.  We can learn new things all the time.  All we have to do is practice.  And cheer each other on.

The thing about Diana is that she has been practicing yoga for just three years.  It’s not like she was a gymnast at any time in her life, so that she is now simply calling on muscle memory.  No, Diana had never, before 67, done a handstand.  The thought might never even have occurred to her.  But now, here she is, surrounded by new and loving friends, doing just that – popping up with so much grace into the form, then holding it there with a strength that blows us all away.

This, the teacher said, is what 70 looks like.  Take it in.  How wonderful to think of us growing up together on our mats, getting older together in this ongoing celebration.  Diana, our teacher said, is my hero.    

And so she is for so many of us.  So kind and generous, such a big heart and so much grace and strength in equal measure.  And still learning, as we all can, no matter our age, with the will and the support of our friends. 

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

meanwhile, back at the ranch...

Welcome, August!

I'm still sorting out all of my impressions from the long weekend at Wanderlust, and working out whether I really am an early bird, and how and when I'm ever going to get enough sleep to catch up and feel like myself again.  But in the meantime, for those who don't see me on Facebook, sharing a link to a story of mine on San Rafael Patch yesterday, kicking off the month of August.  It's the first piece I've submitted that was run as a lead, not just tucked away in the Local Voices blog area, and that they promoted via their Facebook.  Sweet!

I'm super-happy to be writing as much as I am right now (even though since the weekend my mind is a wee muddled).  Despite the fact that what I really wish for is to be able to travel around the world with all these great yoga teachers I know, I am enjoying my new little life of number-crunching by day, mat-surfing, gardening, writing and everything else I love by night, making the most of every other waking moment, early-early and late-late.

Coming soon: more stories here and at Bay Shakti.  Stay tuned.  August is going to be BIG!