Thursday, September 29, 2011

old mom

All year long, I've been wanting to say that I've crossed an important threshold.  Sometime in January, I passed the halfway point -- I've now been a mother for half of my life, with every passing minute more than half.  I was 24 when pregnant with The Kid, he'll be 24 in two months.  Maybe this doesn't matter at all, but for me, it feels a little significant to know that I've been This more now than I was Not This.  Puts a crazy haze over my youth, that's for sure.

But the haze could be because in some ways we became parents again two weeks ago when we brought Mr Burns home.  I contend, just as I did fourteen years ago with Jasper, that a dog is harder than a baby.  And I did baby largely alone whereas I've done puppy twice now à deux, so I think I know what I'm saying.

We have not slept through the night since Mr Burns came home, not one night in the past fourteen.  Last night was by far the worst.  It was so hot that the windows were open to let in whatever breeze there might be.  The dogs next door were having a field day barking at a raccoon in their pond (we surmise from our investigations), then all the area dogs seemed to have something to say almost hourly, to which sweet Mr Burns was compelled to reply.  He is now curled up sleeping right next to me, and sleeping is what he'll do all day.  Meanwhile, I have to power up and attend to the business of life, to the demands of my job and boss.

I have to say I don't know how older parents of human babies pull this off.  I honestly feel like I have never been so tired in all my life.    Being a mother to a human at 24 was hard, to a puppy at 34 was harder, now at 48 is hardest yet.  I wouldn't change anything, naturally, but dang, one does not have the resilience one once did.

What one does have is a bigger awareness of how precious this time is, no matter how freaking exhausted one is.  

What I also know is that I love this.  I love having somebody to care for, to teach, to love, to feed, somebody whose breath to listen for at night.

And right now he's snoring lightly, feet tensing periodically in puppy dreams, eyes tightly closed.  Just like Jasper before him, he knows exactly how to bed down in a pile of pillows, make a cozy nest to sleep in.  And even though I am not really literally sleeping these days, I am in the nest with him, tired old mom, happy as can be.  It's fine: I'm awake, he sleeps.  Just as it should be.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What Peggy reads

My delightful friend, Peggy, has a life I covet.  I may be way off-base, but the way I think about it, she basically does two things: yoga and reading.  OK, and eating really good food, too.  And hiking and traveling and savoring every bit of joy there is.  Peggy has a love for life that is unmatched by anyone else I have ever met in my entire life, except maybe my parents -- and that is saying a LOT.  If you've been a student in her class, then you know.  It's always the most delicious music, the biggest laughs, the deepest sweaty delirium of practice.  Her total enjoyment of every moment is infectious and inspiring.

The reading part of Peggy absolutely delights me.  It's a thing that ties me even more deeply to her, imagining her tucked up with a book on her lap, lost for hours in its pages.  I've gone to her house for dinner before and left with a shopping bag full of books, a stack of titles that she's read and is loaning me.  As a bookworm, I love this just so much.

A few weeks ago I came home and found a book in my mailbox with a note in her hand, a book I'm reading now, "Wolf Totem" by Jiang Rong.  That Peggy LOVED it is high, high praise.  That it's not really working for me, this book, makes me a little sad.  I want to feel her same exhilaration, but it's one of those rare reads where I don't get the same Pow that she did.  Generally, it's not this way.  Generally, I'm jumping around with delight, especially since I'm traveling the same wordy trajectory as Peggy did.

Regardless, I'm treasuring the note and the gesture and the invitation to be swept up.

We spent a day together in Point Reyes recently.  We went to the BEST yoga class, had the BEST grilled cheese sandwiches, enjoyed the BEST conversation and walk with Scout, tried the BEST sorbet at her sister-in-law's place in Marshall.  Everything, really, always the BEST with Peggy, life at its pinnacle of sweetness.  Peggy knows EVERYONE, and honestly I have met some extraordinary, gifted, delightful, amazing people through Peggy, thanks to her gravitational pull on all that is the greatest.

Every day, Peggy tells me, she reads three blogs.  The Force Expansive is one -- which is a super-big treat for me.  The other two, in case you're interested -- I know I am -- are The Sartorialist (naturally, as Peggy has exquisite taste) and The Improvised Life (naturally, as Peggy is nothing if not a creative force).  Some pretty excellent company.

Vogue-ing in the market,
If you haven't been a student in Peggy's class, I urge you to check her out at YogaWorks in Mill Valley or Larkspur, or at the new Embrace Yoga studio in Terra Linda where she is now teaching a Wednesday 9am class.  For an extended good time, travel with Peggy through International Yoga.  Truly, some of my peak adventures have been in her company, on retreat and on nerdy yoga vacations -- in Haramara, in Oaxaca, in Peru.

It's an incomparable experience to be a student in Peggy's class, to benefit from her reading, her listening, her taste.  You will work hard, you will hear great music, you will laugh.  You'll emerge smiling, wrung out and ready for more of all that's tastiest in life.

Big love, Peggy!  XX

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

so nice to be home in the morning

I am so seldom home in the mornings that I miss my absolute favorite time here on a regular basis.  Today I'm finally, finally taking a day off to rest and finally try and get better from the head-cold that's plagued me for a week.  It's completely ridiculous the degree to which I'll go to ignore feeling bad, to keep going when my body is pulling the brake.  But even though I woke up on Monday a week ago knowing I should stay home, the imperative of my workload meant that I kept going, on a steady diet of caffeine and cold medicine, all in the interest of keeping all of the plates spinning.

Sound familiar?

The thing is that it is so unbelievably gorgeous here in the morning.  Any time I have the good fortune to be here, I immediately start scheming ways that I can *always* be here, every single morning, never have to get in my car and go.  Five days a week I leave to go to work, the other two I'm leaving to go to yoga.  It's kind of ridiculous.

Today the sun is shining, the bees are out.  There is small-scale weeding to be done : the seeds in Box 1 have sprouted, but so has the borage, so I got to spend about 5 minutes between chasing puppy around pulling out the unwanted to clear space for the onions and the beets.  Now I'm just looking at it through the windows, with a sleeping puppy nearby, just reveling in how beautiful it is, birds flying in and out of the apple trees.

Unbelievably simple and gorgeous.

In a little while -- surprise, surprise -- we'll be getting in the car to take Mr Burns to the vet. He has a little spot on his face that is either an infection or demodex, the latter being just a fancy way of saying mange. Mange! No wonder they refer to it as demodex instead. 

Whatever it is, I don't care. I'm going there and coming straight back, all day in the company of Mr Burns, in my sunny house, on my sunny couch, smack in the middle of my sunny life.

Monday, September 26, 2011

You learn something new every day, Norman Wong

I just submitted this story to More magazine. Which is a magazine I picked up in the dentist office this morning, because Naomi Watts is on the cover and there was an article about migraines.  Lo and behold, about 15 pages in, was an invitation to submit pieces to their site.  We'll see what happens.  Read it here first. ;>

* * * * *

“You learn something new
every day, Norman Wong.”

This is a line my mother is still fond of repeating. My sisters and I all say it, too. It dates to my mother’s years as a high school Spanish teacher. She spent her entire career teaching at Lowell High School in San Francisco, a public high school for the academically inclined, a school whose population was, during her tenure as during my sisters and my years as students there, predominantly Chinese-American. Which explains the Norman Wong of the quote. Norman was an actual student in one of her classes.

He was lucky. My mother’s class was all about learning something new every day, not just in or about Spanish, but about life itself. I was a student in her AP Spanish class and remember marveling at how good she was it, at how it truly was her vocation to stand before a room of nerdy naïve youngsters and show them how it’s done.

This was her true gift as a teacher, really. You thought she was teaching you the subjunctive, but really she was teaching thinking, self-reliance, self-discipline, enthusiasm – she taught life itself. I still meet people, native San Franciscans, who recognize me by my last name as my mother’s daughter and regale me with stories of how much she influenced them.

As her kids, my sisters and I were raised on this notion of learning something new every day. It’s a big deal in my family, and explains why after my parents retired from teaching, they immediately enrolled as graduate students in Italian. They’re constantly learning something – tango, Italian, Portuguese -- or going to the opera, reading, seeing films. Always learning, still growing.

I was thinking earlier today about this penchant to look at each experience as an opportunity to learn something. It can take the heat or terror or humiliation out of almost anything that happens. No matter what, you’ll learn something. You don’t always know what, but something will come of it that increases your store of accumulated wisdom, that expands your perspective and ability to understand the world around you.

Even something as simple as having my teeth cleaned can send me down this path. That’s where I was earlier today when I remembered Norman Wong and my mother’s manifesto.

I was sitting in the chair while a new hygienist worked on my plaque-y teeth. I suppose I’d never visited this dentist on a Monday so never had the benefit of this particular hygienist. She wasn’t new, really, just new to me.

She was different from the rest of the staff there, older. What I like about my dentist and the other women at this clinic is that they’re all young and they have small hands. In my childhood, I spent what seemed like an inordinate amount of time at the dentist. The dentist was always male, and I remember the tremendous pressure of those big hands on my little jaws. These new young ladies with their small hands and their super degree of empathy, always pre-apologizing in case of possible pain, delight me. The thing I realized today is that they don’t necessarily have the amount of accumulated wisdom that Jean, the Monday hygienist, has.

What’s incredible to me is that today, sitting in that chair for an hour, I learned things about my teeth and my mouth and my sleep and my breathing that no one, certainly not a Registered Dental Assistant, has ever told me before. Keep in mind that I get my teeth cleaned a lot, every three months or they're out of control. And do I have to remind you that I've had these teeth one hell of a long time.

Anyway, this woman Jean blew my mind. It was hard to make out her words sometimes, over the sucking of the tube in my mouth, the whine of the scaler, the muffling effect of her facemask. But when she asked me whether I was right or left-handed, that got my attention. When she told me that I am a mouth-breather when I sleep, I paid more attention. She has been doing this so long, she said, that she can tell everything about people from the condition of their teeth.

Me? She had me pegged. Allergies and a runny nose mean I generally breathe through my mouth when sleeping. She asked me if the first thing I do when I wake up is blow my nose. Why yes, indeed, ma’am, how did you know? Also asked me if I run or do aerobic exercise. All that breathing dries out the mouth, causing one to salivate more, leading to more plaque build-up.

Hearing her talk I was visualizing my mouth as never before, as a coral reef constantly growing itself. It wasn’t anymore about my failures to floss (I’m diligent!). It was to do with my genes, with my breathing, even with my handed-ness – although there I defy the odds as most right-handed people have cleaner teeth on the left side of their mouths since they typically start brushing there. Me, the right side’s cleaner even though I’m right handed. But I think it’s because I generally sleep on my left side. I’m surprised she didn’t ask me this.

I suppose I could regard the whole experience of cleanings four times a year as a chore, as something unpleasant and uncomfortable. Certainly it isn’t altogether pleasant, and generally not comfortable -- sometimes there are stabs or zings of pain. It’s not my favorite thing in the whole world, but I have to say that, coming from where I come from, it’s amazing what you can learn, sitting in that chair, when someone with years of accumulated wisdom sits there with her eyes and tools and tells you what your teeth say you’re about.

As I was leaving with my fantastically clean teeth and all this new insight about them, I stopped to make my next appointment. I made it for a Monday, so that Jean could regale me with more of her expertise as she scours the coral reef of my mouth three months from now.

It’s really true that you can learn something new every day. Even the smallest experience, the most mundane, the least dramatic, can unfold whole vistas right before your eyes. But Norman Wong, you knew that already, right? You learned that a long time ago.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

super-wow weekend

This was one of those weekends when I'm really glad that my partner and I each have our own consuming passions.  Some people might call these activities of ours "hobbies," but we know they are so very much more than that. Basically, if I subtract the hours we spent sleeping, then probably we've seen each other for at most 9 hours since early Friday morning. It's Sunday evening and it's just me, Mr Burns and the crickets in the house. I don't expect Joe home for hours, even if it is a school night.

Not every weekend is like this. We have had a good stretch of weekends with plenty of together time: harvesting honey, working our micro-farm, going to the movies, hanging out and doing nothing. But it's not unusual for us to spend a lot of time apart on the weekends, each of us deep into our own interest, investing hours into cultivating our abilities in separate realms.

Except for the fact that I hardly saw my husband, I had a super-wow weekend.  I was in an amazing workshop all weekend that blew my mind.  I did hours and hours of yoga, hung out with my friends, laughed, thought big thoughts and was generally a little bliss-drunk, like a pollen-heavy bee just buzzing around.  I am still filled to the brim with impressions, with pages and pages of notes to go through and muscles reminding me of how much I used them.

It's probably not dissimilar from how Joe is feeling right about now.  I imagine he, too, is very aware of how much he used his legs this weekend, what muscles he used mountain biking that the road bike doesn't require as much.  Twenty minutes away, in a room full of people that doesn't include me, I imagine he is feeling this same feeling of physical contentment from using his body well all weekend, and laughing with his friends and enjoying the last bit of the weekend.

I'm relishing my quiet house, Mr Burns dreaming his puppy dreams on the couch while the gecko's crickets make their music.

This having of your own passion is, in my little opinion, a major key to a successful long-term relationship. It is so important for each person to have something they're wild about, something they do with their own set of friends, something that draws on the deepest part of them and allows for its expression. And let's be honest: if Joe didn't have this passion for his bicycle -- i.e., if he didn't have a "hobby" that took 8 hours on Friday (century + travel time + hang-out time), a couple of hours yesterday, and all day today (mountain bike ride + Biketoberfest + watching the World Road Championships with his team this evening), then I'd probably feel a lot less free to pursue my own heart's desire in the form of hours and hours of yoga, away from home.

Plus there's something about the sport that so suits him. Something that he needs. When he's had moments -- and there have been some -- when he's talked about hanging up the bike, I bite my tongue and wait. He needs this. For all its dangers, it's more Good for him than it's ever been Bad.

There are some wives who complain about being Bike Widows. I can see their point. If you looked forward to the weekend as a time to spend lots and lots of time with your partner only to have him or her gone for hours on end, that would be a drag.  I've always had my own interests, but have definitely had those times when I was a little pissed off about waiting for him to come home.  But ever since we had a couple of real-life run-ins with almost-death -- cancer, a really bad crash -- I can't use the word Widow lightly. Even when I'm not busy with yoga, I am more than happy for Joe to be on his bike, being healthy, being strong, doing what he does, contesting the sprints and winning them. What a precious thing indeed to have a body that functions, lungs that can power those muscles, feet that can turn the pedals. Precious.

Still, this separateness sometimes feels a little perilous.  After a weekend away with my friends and teachers in Tantric Philosophy Land, I feel like a stranger in a strange land a little bit. My head is full of ideas and thoughts and sudden flashes of insight that are hard to share without the full context. I know that sometimes my excited yoga-chatter is just so much bla-bla-bla, in the same way that sometimes I zone out completely when a portion of that day's ride is being re-told.

The challenge is always in being separate enough and still together, like enough yet different enough, bound together loosely but bound together still, the knot holding fast.

I'm alone here with Mr Burns and the crickets and feeling happy.  I miss Joe and I know that he is better for being where he is right now, doing his own thing just as I am doing mine.  And when he's back, that'll be great, too.  We'll be happy to be together, each of us deeply satisfied both with our own lives and the one we make together.


be a scholar, not a dweeb

As we were leaving hour 9 of a weekend-long Tantric philosophy and asana workshop, as we were happily babbling our way to the car, Jen commented on how very many hours we devote to this practice on a regular, daily, weekly basis.  Is there anything else under the sun we would choose to do for 12 hours a weekend?  

All assembled marveled at how happy we are to do so, to sit for hours on end, practice for hours on end, learn and grow and expand in good company for hours on end.  We're such yoga dorks and we couldn't be happier.

It's like a sweet, sweet dream.

As a lifelong nerd, it's so, so, so deeply satisfying to indulge this side of myself, all the while balancing it out with a physical practice that makes it REAL.  It's not an academic pursuit, it's not a purely intellectual exercise.  It's taking the beautiful stories we hear and giving them life through the practice, feeling them on our mats, becoming Arjuna or Kali or Saraswati, experiencing the story at a muscular, cellular level, being heroes, goddesses, gods.  

It's fucking fantastic.  

One of the things I love best about my teachers is that they are real people.  They are deeply devoted to yoga, to study, to learning, to topics that might seem esoteric or far-fetched or loony.  But they're real people, with lives and kids and their own messes.  They make silly puns and goofy pop culture references, they swear, they make me laugh.  

They are scholars without being dweebs.

And that pretty much kicks every kind of ass there is.

I am just so inspired by this weekend.  I'm already 9 hours in and already sad that only 3 hours remain.  I could do this for weeks at a time.  And how not to?  How not to feel this bone-deep intoxication, this excitement at being invited repeatedly not just to be successful, but to be GREAT.  

Like I said, fucking fantastic.

With so much gratitude to my teachers, XX.

Friday, September 23, 2011

You're no Toast Hound, mister

Mr Burns
It's pretty weird to be sitting here typing and eating toast, as usual, while Mr Burns remains utterly sacked out, asleep under the covers in my bed, all the way down the hall.  I suppose having only had one dog in my adult life, the gorgeous and fantastic Jasper, I made Jasper the measure of all dogs -- assumed that all dogs would sit attentively and closely by my side all through breakfast, watching the progress of toast to mouth to plate, waiting for a morsel.  Whenever I looked at him, Jasper would whip his tail energetically; if I looked away, he'd stop.  Look: wag.  Look away: stop.

Not so with Mr Burns.  He is utterly uninterested in our food, does not even really approach the table when we're eating, can sleep through the sound of the freezer or pantry being opened, doesn't react to the skruncheling of chip or cracker packaging.  I just assumed things would be similar, and yet they are so not.

Jasper was almost as devoted to our food as he was to us.  Nothing delighted him more than the pantry door being left open so that he could stand and inspect everything at nose-level.  Nothing was ever eaten in this house except in his company, his ever-closer company as he very calmly and slowly inched his way closer, until chin resting on the edge of the table, he'd give you that See How Cute I Am look.  He was unstoppable in so many ways, so full of energy, so full of appetite, so full.  Just before he died, when we thought what he was suffering from was just pneumonia, from which he could recover, I had a tag made for him with his name on one side, Toast Hound on the other.  He never got to wear it, but he WAS it every day of his life.

Jasper's intense toast focus

Naturally, I have begun a list in my notebook of all the characteristics and behaviors that are so different, Jasper's column on the left since he was first, Mr Burns on the right.  I still maintain that Mr Burns is picking up where Jasper left off.  I know this is largely inspired by A Dog's Purpose, that precious book that helped me so much while grieving the loss of Mr Pillow Sticks, but it really does seem absolutely true.  Incredible Mr Burns showed up knowing just what we needed and ready to deliver.

How much of this is us I don't really know, though there is also that. We are better dog-parents this time around, I think, having been through this before.  We have a perspective that we utterly lacked the first time, along with an appreciation for all of what makes Mr Burns unique, different from Jasper.  And we're more relaxed.  More tired since we're older, but more relaxed.  I suppose this is exactly what it's like for people who have a second kid, which we didn't, so this is our first time experiencing this peculiar set of emotions, of adding on so significantly in this way to the love that we already had, learning, again, by experience, that it's cumulative, always more.  It just keeps expanding.

And we're still learning.  I struggle with small things, like how long do the screen saver on my laptop and phone remain Jasper now that Mr Burns is here. Does Jasper always enjoy Alpha status on my technology because he was my first love, even though there is more love beyond #1?  I don't have answers, naturally.  And it's really only been a little over a week, so there's time.

So much time.  I can sit here and drink coffee and think.  Nobody is shaking their collar at me asking to go for an hour-long run in the woods.  Instead Somebody is still a-snooze, head on my pillow, savoring the cozy big bed after four months of life in a shelter.

It's OK that Mr Burns is so different.  In fact, it's great.  Jasper was a terrific dog, a true and loyal and loving companion for so many years.  And Mr Burns is no Toast Hound, he's no Jasper.  He's him, Mr Burns, and that's more sweetness than we even knew was possible.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Happy is Puppy

I keep thinking about the yellow pencil in my sisters' Hello Kitty miniature colored pencil set.  Along its tiny length, it read, "Yellow is fried egg."  I haven't seen that pencil in probably 25 years (until I found its image on the interwebs), but the words are still with me.  I love the unlikely construction, and the funny choice of fried egg.  Of course, yes, it's true -- yellow is fried egg, but why not sun or flower or little bird?

I've had my own little refrain along these lines for a week now, since Mr Burns came home. And that refrain is simply, "Happy is Puppy."  Not just the happy that I feel in his presence, the delight of watching what he does, smelling his fur, feeling his warm little body next to mine, stretched out on the couch.  But the happy that he is.

It's so deeply inspiring to consider the deep happiness of being puppy.  How everything for Mr Burns is just amazing, every experience fresh, every creature a potential playmate. How we and every one, to him, are subjects and objects of bottomless love.

His life is pretty great and I find I want to emulate him in so many ways.  In the morning, when he opens his eyes and lets us know he's awake, we come to him, cooing and petting and singing, then it's snuggle-time in bed for a little while.  Then it's breakfast, which is the source of so much skipping Snoopy-dancing joy.  Then it's back to cozy on bed or couch.  I walk him (or try to, since he's fantastically uninterested), then drop him off at Joe's shop on my way to work.  Mr Burns stays with Joe all day, at the shop or to clients.  Mostly he sleeps, meets new people, plays with the dogs next door, and sleeps.  Sometimes we all get together for lunch and sit together outside.  At the end of the day, I pick him up and drive him home, where we meet Joe, who's used his bike to return.  Then we play and eat and go to sleep.

Pretty dreamy.  No worries.  Just joy in every moment.

It's been such a useful contrast for me, since my work has been hectic and stressful and not altogether pleasant -- ok, downright unpleasant -- for the last few weeks.  I'm still sorting out what I'm doing and for how long and the big When of When Will I Finally Write The Book?  And we've been pretty sleepless for a week, learning along with Mr Burns about how to get through the night with a tiny bladder in the house.  But still, I've been watching him and thinking about how joyful he is, what a little being of light.  Generally I loathe that expression, but when I see Mr Burns, it's all I can think.  He's just light embodied in this darling sable-coated package.  He bounces into a room and the whole thing shines right up. Even when he's sleeping, he keeps that little nightlight glowing.

What if we lived like that, we the people in this equation?  What if we approached every day with as much open-hearted enthusiasm as our little four-legged, what if we had the freedom to just be what we are, offer that and revel in it? What if we got to spend every day doing just what we wanted, whether it's chewing on toys, dreaming or playing?

As tired as we are, I think we get the message, incredible Mr Burns.

We do.

We can approach each day like you do, do what our passion is, feel free and joyful in every moment.  We just have to remember -- sometimes we just need to look at you to be reminded -- that we too are in this form to prance and play, loving our people big time, giving dogs lots of pets.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Incredible Mr Burns

We are positively in heaven now that Mr Burns is our boy.  He is super-sweet, affectionate, devoted, smart, 90% housetrained, outgoing.  He is so different from Jasper, and yet it's as though we are starting with Mr Burns at the point where Jasper left off.  All his life, we wanted Jas to be a snuggle-bunny.  For most of his years, he emphatically was not.  He'd get up on the bed with us, but if you tried to shift him even a smidge so as to wrest some covers for yourself, even so much as a toe under any part of his body, he was off the bed in a flash.  If he was curled up super-cutely on the floor or somewhere, and you tried to get in beside him, up until about age 12, he'd bolt, find himself a quiet, unbothered spot on his own.  He had his own thing going on.

It's not like anything traumatic had ever happened to him.  It was just his personality.  He wasn't mean in any way, just a little private, I guess, neeeding space.  As he got older, in his 12th and 13th years, then finally it was possible to snuggle him, to get him to drape himself over you on the couch and stay there, cozy dogpile nap.  But we didn't have long with him in this phase of his love-life with us.  

From Jasper I think all three of us really and truly learned to how to love, to devote ourselves completely to another being, to love everything all the time unconditionally.  I'm not saying that we didn't love before Jasper; I just feel like Jas taught each one of us to love BIG.  We loved him every single moment of every single day of his life, through every change, through every trial, loving him more all the time.  With him, we swam non-stop in a boundless ocean of love.

The moment I laid eyes on Mr Burns, I knew that we were getting back in the water.  And ever since he came home with us 5 days ago, we have been paddling in the deep end of bliss, delighted with every millimeter of his physical form, amazed at his personality, held in his furry embrace.  I think we were all a little nervous about how it would feel, what it would be like to have not-Jasper in the house.  But wow, it's unreal how great it is to have the incredible Mr Burns with us in all his sable-coated finery.

Right now as I write this he's curled up asleep next to me on our bed, his bunny between his paws, snoring lightly.  He's such a delight, such a perfect little puppy, just absolutely such a surprising little being, so mellow and easy, so friendly and open.  We are amazed and just really so very happy.

This year has been so crazy -- losing Jasper was such heartbreak, finding Mr Burns was such joy.  For me, after months of grief and loneliness, how great to feel this giant love again, bigger than ever.  

Happiness truly is, for me, a warm puppy.  So, so, so good to have puppy love back in my life.  Oh, incredible Mr Burns, how big a blessing it is to know you and be your family.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

6 months to the day

Today we brought Mr Burns home from Berkeley Animal Care Services.  We are delighted to have him here with us and are looking forward to many adventures with him in the years to come.

Mr Burns is indeed named after The Simpsons' Mr Burns.  The shelter staff have a lot of rescued animals to name and sometimes run dry on inspiration.  So when our new boy's litter came in, they just started naming after Simpsons characters.  Mr Burns' sisters include Marge, Selma and Patty.  Nice.

Mr Burns, the character, is nowhere near as cute as Mr Burns, the 17-week-old black & white pit bull puppy.  But we do like the character's full name -- Charles Montgomery "Monty" Burns.  "Monty" is growing on us, though Mr Burns is a great name.  Already tonight, walking him through the neighborhood, people chuckled at his name -- exactly what we're looking for.  The world doesn't need another pit bull named Brutus or Killer.  Make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh.

And so far he's making us laugh.  A lot.  So, so cute.

As we were driving home from Berkeley with him, I noted the time -- 6 months ago on this day we were in Davis saying our heartbroken, tearful farewells to our sweet boy Jasper.  Funny how this worked out, that we brought home our new sweetheart on the half-year anniversary of that great sorrow in our lives.  We all miss Jasper so much, and are so delighted by how love is not an either/or, but an and/both.  We cherish our Jasper in our hearts and memories, love him every moment of every day, AND we love this stinky crazy new puppy currently sacked out on the couch in Joe's lap.

Ain't love grand?


Garuda drishti

Someone told me a story a few weeks ago about a friend of hers who was super-offended in a yoga class recently when the teacher told her pointedly to put away her notebook.  Didn't ask, but told, along with words along the lines of, "get your own theme."  Now, I wasn't there so can't vouch for the veracity or completeness of this tale or provide more details.  All I know is that when I heard it, a groan escaped me.

Since I'm a person who always has a notebook on my mat, I paid attention to this story.  And since I'm a person who is often inspired by what I hear in class, inspired enough to write about it in the days or weeks that follow, I am still thinking about it.  I think the person who was told to put away her notebook was a teacher, so perhaps there was an element of proprietariness in the notebook-ban.  But I'm still a bit puzzled and bothered.  I mean, I just thought we were all scholars together, you know, learning from each other.  And what a form of flattery, really -- you said something so amazing that I am writing it down, so as not to forget it, so as to savor your words later, reflect on them, integrate them.

Ain't that the whole point?

Ever since I heard it, I think about this story every time I place my notebook on my mat, every time I grab my pencil in a pose and jot something down.  And just to be clear: I'm not always necessarily jotting words verbatim from the teacher's mouth.  Sometimes an idea, born of sweating in a pose, just pops into my head and I don't want to lose it.  Some classes I don't write anything at all, but the notebook is there.  It's a part of me.  It's what I do.  Mostly I am so in love with the whole yoga process, the teaching, the asana, the kula, that I want to be a troubadour of the experience, write songs of love about the practice -- the whole she-bang -- just because it inspires me to want to sing.

And so this morning, because I'm still thinking about the eagle-vision theme of last night's class with Abby, still feeling the impact of all that we went through together under her guidance in 90 minutes, with Todd Boston's amazing music, live, in the room with us, that's what I'm writing about.

I give full credit where it's due.  If I'm thinking about how as yogins, we balance big vision with laser focus, that's thanks to Abby last night.  If I'm still remembering the images of eagles seeing the entire canyon and the tiny mouse at the same time, that's all her.  If I'm feeling smarter this morning, that's thanks to all the brain-work we did in class last night.  All Abby. I bow down deep, I give thanks and I give praise, and above all I give devotion to the people who inspire me.  Thank you, Abby.  Again, you rocked my world.  And let's not forget about Todd.  You were amazing, too, as usual. Thank you.

And then I write about it.

I'm seeing differently this morning.  I feel strong. I have my Garuda glasses on.  I see like an eagle the big and the small, I see what's outside and I look inward, holding both in my amazing brain at the same time because I can.

Thank you to my teachers.  Thank you to the yoga.  Thank you to the crazy gift of embodiment.

And thank you to the notebook that comes with me everywhere I go.  I want you to know, little book, little chronicler of the big vision and the little details: no teacher can come between us.  You will keep company with me, on my mat, always, that we may together scan the valley, looking for that mouse.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Glory in it

All things considered -- working til 7:45 pm on Friday night and all the woe and misery of the national refrain yesterday -- this weekend was a thing of glory.  I definitely had moments of sorrow, of missing Jasper so much, but really, all in all, amazing.

I feel I should mention here that I think I am finally beginning to benefit from the daily iron supplements.  Yesterday I was on my feet all day which, OK, shouldn't be something to be applauded for, but I assure you, based on recent months of slothfulness, is great shakes.  I was up at 6 for pre-yoga breakfast, went to a really great and physically challenging class with the luminous Abby Tucker, came home and took Joe back to the Pet Fair and Adoptathon to meet Mr Burns (more on him in a moment), returned and worked in the garden pretty much non-stop from 2 until 7:30, with breaks for snacks and one quick trip out for winter seeds.  The time in the garden was so good -- Joe harvested a large pile of rich compost from our bins, we cleared and turned it into Box 1, and planted radishes, red beets, green onions, cilantro, golden beets, rainbow chard and yellow onions.  I am pleased as punch to have done this work now, while the weather is still hot, so as to eat fresh food from our dirt over winter.  So pleased.

Laura's class was also awesome, all the way back on Saturday morning, with her theme of finding stillness in the storm, as wind raged outside, noisily flapping the awning of the studio.  It was well-timed to ground us, to take us inside, before the big to-do of Sunday's 10-year commemoration of September 11th.  It was so good to feel all four corners of my feet on the floor, to root down through my bones and feel the rebound of energy, that power that runs through everything.  No matter what hideous things might happen -- planes into buildings, destruction, hate, death -- still there is this force, this undeniable force, always present, always pulsing.  To honor the dead, live well.  Revel in the gift of your own life, celebrate the physical form you are lucky enough to inhabit.  Glory in it.

And then Abby and her theme of resilience yesterday morning.  I know that Abby always has a plan that extends far beyond one 90-minute session, a vision that extends at least a year beyond that day's class.  So of course it was no accident that resilience was the key concept yesterday morning, the capacity for re-generation, re-growth, following a period of adversity or contraction.  No accident.  There was a point when I remember her voice saying something to the effect, more eloquently than I'm about to, that yeah, you're holding this pose a long time, on purpose, it's hard, your thighs are burning, but just think: you get to.  Those people lost on 9/11 whom we honor on this anniversary?  Don't you think they'd rather be on a mat, holding that pose, sweating, hearts pounding?  Feel your physical body. It is a gift.

Glory in it.

That drumbeat carried me through the whole weekend, holds me even now, my two teacher's voices, Laura's and Abby's, always clear behind the noise around me, the chattering of my own mind.  And the din, yesterday, of the national mourning.  

It did me so much good to tune out the "news" and turn instead to dogs, those funny creatures, dozens and dozens of whom I petted and baby-talked on Saturday afternoon, and again on Sunday, at the pet fair.  So good for me to repeatedly drop to my knees and coo nonsense into furry ears, ask questions of their people, get my clothes covered with hair and drool and dog-dirt.  As I knew I would, I fell in love, over and over again, enjoyed every dog, from the smallest to the biggest, each one so utterly remarkable, some just so odd I couldn't help but laugh with delight.  It was truly heaven for me.  I got to meet Jonny Justice, one of the rescued Vick dogs (former Vick-tim, I like to think).  You want to consider resilience?  Check him out.  Abused, beaten, made to fight.  Now loving, sweet-as-peaches breed ambassador.  
And then, oh glory, I met Mr Burns.  My heart, from its contracted place of grieving and longing for my sweet Pony, sprouted new shoots of love.  Big time.

Mr Burns, whose name we wouldn't even change (unlike Jasper, whose name on adoption papers was "Tiggre," whatever), is a darling 12-16 week old pit bull mix.  Four white paws.  Gorgeous brownish black fur with a darker face, a few splashes of white on snout, head and back, and white chest.  Outgoing.  Silly as puppies are, and just adorable.  To see Mr Burns frolicking with his sister Thelma and vgb (Very Good Boy) Elliot at Bad Rap, click here.

I'm crying again, happy tears, heart too big for its cavity, just bursting out, in love.  

Our application is in and we should hear soon whether Mr Burns will come here to be our sweetheart and live with us.  I'm a little nervous about having a puppy again, about how much work it is, about how much of an impact it will have on my life as I've known it for 6 months.  At the same time, that's the great part.  What I think my life is keeps changing, it keeps growing, it keeps expanding.

Even when your heart is broken, it still beats.  It's still there in your chest. You still breathe.  Be strong.  Wait.  With time, more love comes.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Terrific: a post about spiders

Yesterday I had my hair cut at the delightful Siren Salon in San Anselmo.  You're wondering, I'm sure, how this has anything whatever to do with spiders.  Hang on. And rest assured, there are no spiders at Siren.  None, not one.

So yesterday: Siren Salon, San Anselmo.  I love that place.  The moment I walked in, I felt happy and relaxed.  It smells delicious.  The music is great.  The art on the walls, which rotates every month of so, is great, stuff I would actually buy, if disposable income were at my, er, disposal.  All of the staff are so nice, and I love being inside the realized-vision of the owner, Nicole, who is someone I had actually met over and over in yoga, naturally -- yoga, the source of all good things --  although I hadn't put two and two together until I was seated in her chair.

Best haircut of my entire life!  And confirmation that Breaking Up with Crazy was so the right move.  

I've always been particularly bad at chit-chat, or so I tell myself, always a little uncomfortable at talking my way through basic interactions, like taxi rides or pedicures or even haircuts.  But because I am so cozy at Siren, I am happy the whole way through.  No effort required.  Just straight-up chill.  If I could spend an hour in that atmosphere a week, I think I'd be happier.  It's just beautiful in there.  My whole self just sighs in comfort.

During our conversation -- I mean, of course, during my haircut -- Nicole mentioned the sheer number of spiders in her garden in Fairfax, large ones that manage to string their webs across areas where she is bound to walk.  She described walking her trash to the curb the other night, the sun having already set, one hand on the garbage can, the other waving a broom around in front of her, to smash the webs out of the way.  There are so very many of them that she is becoming reluctant to leave her house.  I recognized them from her description: these are the showy big spiders Joe always refers to as Argiopes.

I so Get this reluctance to walk face-first into a web.  This has happened to me countless times, on the trail and at home; I never manage to emerge without squeaking, hopping, flailing.  Of course, were the spider to get on you, that would be worse, but it's so creepy to have web all over your face, in your hair, swatting around with my hands to make sure the eight-legged is not on me, somewhere unseen.  I still laugh about the time Joe and I were taking out the trash -- what is it with spiders and garbage? -- and a huge, fat-booty spider got on his hand.  He was wheeling a can out ahead of me, and did this crazy dance, a little tarantella so to speak.  Still cracks me up.  But who among us, indeed, is not going to flip out a bit at that feeling, at that visual?

I got to thinking more, later, about these particular spiders that take up such prominent residence in our yard.  These Argiopes.  I wasn't even sure that was really the name, since I learned it from Joe and I thought it could perhaps be a part of his childhood vernacular, some made-up name originating in his clan.  But no, Argiope, it really is. Argiope aurantia, in fact, also known as the Writing Spider or the Scribbler, for the characteristic zig-zag seam (stabilimentum) in her web.

I am amazed that I managed to Google Image these spiders this morning, since I really have a hard time looking at close-up shots of arachnids.  And once already bolted from my seat -- no thanks for there being an image of a tarantula on that one webpage I clicked on.  Not good.  But listen, these Argiopes are pretty amazing, so I wanted to share this link about them, and tell some essential facts here.  It doesn't make me love them, but I do appreciate how clever they are.

- All of the Argiope aurantia that you see in the middle of big webs are female, all Charlottes.  The males are much smaller, can sometimes be seen hanging around the edges of the web, waiting for their bit of action then swift demise.

- Argiope aurantia makes a distinctive zig-zag down her web, as in the above picture, which may well have been the inspiration for Charlotte herself, for the idea of a spider that writes words.  

- She re-spins the center of her web every night, eating the old web as she goes, explaining why you can bash a web down with a broom at night, and walk into the same web by morning, on your way to retrieve the trash bins from the curb.

- In our climate, Argiopes can live a few years.  This makes sense, since we know we had one particular spider for several seasons.  That's the spider we used to entertain guests with, catching flies and tossing them into her web strung across part of our breezeway.  The speed with which she'd descend onto her prey was stunning every single time.

Still not crazy about them, but really, Terrific!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Old School blast from the past

I received an actual letter in the mail today. Honestly, I can't remember the last time that happened.  Yes, I've received the odd Thank You card (generally from the delightful Heather J, such excellent manners!) and birthday cards and such, but a letter?  Really, that is a rare occurrence, indeed.

Of course the letter was from Margot, Margot my best friend made at San Francisco State University in 1981-82.  We met in a general elective Speech class.  I'd already noticed her earlier that day in the bookstore.  I liked her shoes -- black Capezios -- and her hair.  She was a weirdo like me, back in the days when there were weirdos.  [PS I know that I just said on Facebook that I was making a new vow not to say I was too old for stuff.  But I never said I was vowing not to look back on my youth as The Coolest Time Ever, which honestly, it was.]

Funny that just this weekend I was looking at a box of stuff from Margot, not just letters we wrote each other when she moved back to LA, then to Copenhagen, back to LA, then back to SF, then Missouri and Oklahoma, etc.  Also poems she wrote and gave me, poems we collaborated on, drawings she did, notes we passed in class.  I was just looking at the box and wondering whether I would keep its contents much longer, whether they are one of those things I need to let go of, burn ceremonially in a bucket in the yard.  [I can no longer burn things in our fireplace, since we removed the grate and stuck an aquarium in its place.  The gecko would not appreciate the flames.]

I think of Margot quite a bit.  We were best friends at a time in our lives when those bonds go deep.  Two of her paintings hang in my house in the two rooms in which I spend most of my time -- the living room and our bedroom.

She and I were pregnant at the same time.  During our last trimester, we even shared a zip code, 94132, way out in the foglands near State.  Her son was born two weeks after The Kid, and we got to be young mothers together for the short period of time that she remained close-by.  Watching her eat while pregnant, I remember being stunned at the quantity of food she could put away -- two burritos in one sitting, I sh*t you not -- this same person who used to survive on popcorn and an apple, even during the brief time she was a bike messenger.

I always loved her sense of style, her confidence, her sense of humor and outlook.  But as happens, we drifted apart.  I think the last time I saw her, she came to our house for a visit.  I remember feeling so self-conscious about our place -- wishing we had somewhere nicer to receive guests -- and feeling a little awkward.  It's so funny to try and layer the present presence of a person over the memory of a person.  After so long of only having an idea of this friend, then boom, there she was in the flesh.  Such a funny adjustment, to make room for the real thing.

It isn't unusual to receive something in the mail from Margot.  Literally, that box of Margot in my closet has probably hundreds of letters in it.  It's just been a while.

Her letter was inside a card that looked oddly familiar, a painting by Paul Klee.  And lo and behold, it's a card that I gave her years ago.  Enclosed was an article about Arthur Rimbaud that ran in the New Yorker. I have the magazine but hadn't gotten to the article yet.  She sent it, since it reminded her of me, me at 19 always lugging around a poet in my bookbag, Rimbaud one of my favorites.  
Paul Klee, Glass Facade, 1940

Margot and I had so many funny experiences together.  It was she and I who stuffed Charles Bukowski down the garbage chute, laughing the whole way.  She and I who "survived" living in a one-bedroom apartment in Paris with my entire family for a few weeks, then escaped back to San Francisco, where we felt we could be free.  She and I who crashed on Roddy's floor for weeks following arrival as we found work and our own place to live (a tiny studio in which we shared a mattress we got for free).  She and I who went separately and yet together from teen to parenthood.  It's so good to hear her voice.

She included her email address in the card she sent, but I don't think I'll be using it.  So much more fun and so much more appropriate, given our history and who we still are, to mail her something back, using our old names of A-skin and M-skin, one being walking in two different skins, the one called Ariane, the one called Margot.

As different as our lives may be now and the paths that got us here, I won't let go of that pretty little box of Margot.  Instead, how delightful that I can keep adding to it, almost thirty years later.


the bag thing: i didn't forget

I know it's been a while since I introduced The Bag Thing, and that I owe you all the photos and delightful narratives that accompany them. But I've been a little lame lately, and so not up to my usual snuff.

In the meantime, to hold you over, I just wish we could see what's INSIDE this enormous $2,165 purse of Anne Hathaway's.  My great fear is it would be virtually impossible to find anything in this bottomless Mary-Poppins bag.  How could it possible have enough pockets to organize one's things?  You'd have to resort to a purse within a purse -- and that is just silly.  Note that she covets her own clutch.  I should think so!

More soon on The Bag Thing, promise!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

books about orphans

A few weeks ago, the day that Joe and I went out on that early-early morning hike to Tennessee Valley, we came across a garage sale close to our house, featuring my most favorite thing: kids selling off their books.  Now, this is only my favorite thing because it means I can benefit, but there's a part of me (a big part) that truly doesn't understand the selling of books, the kicking them out of your house.  Unless they're rotten.  I still always feels bad about it, like how I still feel a little guilty about stuffing Charles Bukowski down the garbage chute in my parents' kitchen in Paris.  Or freecycling last year's Booker Prize winner.  Rubbish: get out of here.  Only if I can't read you, do I want you out of here...

I'd been thinking about re-reading Heidi by Johanna Spyri for a long time, in this year that I seem to be going backwards and forwards in my reading, revisiting old favorites and making new ones.  But every edition I saw in bookstores was just so ugly, I couldn't manage to trade the coins for the pages.

And here, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but this sweet Junior Deluxe Edition of Heidi and a companion volume of Black Beauty, published in 1954. Sweeeet.  I'm crazy about those goats with the little hearts above them on the cover -- so cute.

Heidi is a book I adored as a child, along with The Little Princess, both stories that were made, no surprise, into films starring Shirley Temple, both stories about orphans.  I read these books over and over again.  Heidi held particular appeal, since it takes place in the Alps and I could easily transpose her glee at standing in an Alpine meadow onto my own joy at being in the Pyrenees, in our ancestral place, breathing the mountain air, eating well. 
Never had the child been so happy in all her life.  She drank in the golden sunlight, the fresh air, the sweet perfume of the flowers and longed for nothing but to stay where she was for ever.  
There was something so appealing to me about orphan status.  It's not that I wanted my parents dead, but I longed for the freedom to make my own way, which is, I suppose, the great appeal of the orphan motif in children's stories.  No one to protect you (or boss you), so you get to be you, figure stuff out, be the hero or heroine of your own tale.  I know I wasn't alone, since most of our childhood neighborhood games originated in the orphanage, all of us escaping from Ms. Minchin (probably the influence of watching A Little Princess every time it aired on Channel 44), surviving by our own wits, organizing ourselves into a little, fair utopia.

Heidi is a remarkably religious book, which is something I didn't remember from my childhood readings.  But the big deal is Heidi herself, who's so remarkably sweet and loving, absolutely free of artifice, scampering like a goat and smelling the flowers.  It made me long, again, for a simple life, a bed in a hay loft with a view of the stars, days spent roaming the meadows, naming the flowers and rambling with the herd.  

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I'm in the midst of a horrible spate of insomnia.  Either I only sleep a couple of hours at a time, generally with awful dreams, with an hour or so of wakefulness in between.  Every couple of nights I'll take one of the remaining Ambien from the chemo left-overs and be knocked out for 8-9 hours.  That lets me catch up a bit.  But today I am falling on my face a bit, unable not to work since our audit starts in less than a week and we're not ready, unable to work at full strength since I'm feeling so wobbly.  Reconcile Balance Sheet accounts?  Ok, I'll try, but really, I think I'll have to re-do most everything tomorrow.

One of the nightmares I had last night -- and let me be the first to say that reading Hunger Games at bedtime is probably not a good idea for me right now (thank goodness I'm only maybe 10 pages from the end of volume 3) -- was about me drowning.  Repeatedly.  I would watch myself wake up gasping for air, then I'd fall back asleep into the sharp realization that it was still happening.  I've never had that dream before.  And boy, I hope I don't have it again tonight.  I don't know if it was really physically happening -- sleep apnea all of a sudden? -- or if it was just dreamed.

Drowning is one of my biggest fears.

And really, the dream-drowning is just a mirror of how I've been feeling lately, like I can't keep my head above water, paddle as I might.  Just too much happening all at once, and I'm not in full possession of whatever faculties I might have possessed in the near-past, skills that helped me keep breathing no matter how deep things got.

That dream completely freaked me out.

And today I'm just exhausted.  I felt fine yesterday (probably because of my Ambien-enforced eight hours).  Today, just so wobbly, unable to concentrate, dreaming of one thing and one thing only: my pillow.  OK, maybe two things, really: my pillow and my former wherewithal.

Here's hoping this passes soon.  In the meantime, enjoying all this abundant oxygen, filling my lungs, savoring each breath.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

i'm a teeny tiny little ant

"Que faisiez-vous au temps chaud?"
Dit-elle à cette emprunteuse.

— "Nuit et jour à tout venant

Je chantais, ne vous déplaise."

— "Vous chantiez ? J’en suis fort aise. 

Eh bien! Dansez maintenant."

- Jean de la Fontaine, La Cigale et la fourmi
When we were children at the French American Bilingual School, like all French children in French schools everywhere, we memorized and recited poems and stories.  One of these is La Cigale et la fourmi, The Cicada and the Ant, which you can read in passable translation here.  This story, I just realized, is lodged in me deep.

The point of the story is that the little ant works all summer, working and preparing for winter, while the cicada sings. When winter comes, the cicada has nothing set by and goes begging to the ant.  Who asks the cicada, Well, what did you do all summer long?  And when the cicada says, so pleased with herself, why, that she had sung, the ant says, You sang?  How delightful.  Now dance.

And that's the end of that.  The moral not lost on generations of kids: make hay while the sun still shines.  But so much prettier than that.  

The fable itself just trips off the tongue.  The words themselves are music, and I can remember myself in a line-up of charming children in navy blue jumpers or pants and white shirts, red ribbons in my own hair, reciting this, sing-song, the story itself imprinting itself all the way inside me.

I realized, moments ago, the hold La Fourmi has on me, as I was considering my own hesitation to go anywhere at all in the summer.  We've been having a fantastic weekend, but I am plagued by a little ant-y voice whispering that I am letting the sun get away from me, the time to harvest and prepare.  I think about how satisfied I was two weekends ago when I made a load of pesto from basil in the garden, how I felt last weekend crushing comb for jars and jars of honey.  There's something so deeply comforting about stocking the larder before winter, and conversely something so disturbing to me about not spending the time required to maximize the return on the spring investment.  But I've been choosing to sing instead of work.  I know the singing is good for me, but the work still pulls. 

All the way to a fantastic morning and afternoon in Point Reyes yesterday, I hesitated. If I stayed home, I could tackle those white flowers in [garden] Box 4 that I've been meaning to clear for ages.  If I stayed home, I could compost, start harvesting apples, make a pear tart, write, roast that butternut squash that we harvested, dig potatoes.  The list goes on and on.  I wish there were a different word than "work" to describe it really, since work carries with it the baggage of not-joy.  The work I'm talking about it is nothing but joy.

As we stood in line at the Point Reyes Station Farmers Market yesterday morning, waiting for our delicious grilled cheese sandwiches with a fried egg inside (dreamy!), a friend of a friend was surprised when Joe said there were a lot of Bay Area things we had never done.  Which is weird, for two natives.  He meant things like going wine tasting, or eating at famous restaurants like Chez Panisse or French Laundry, or any number of other things that this person, not-native, was talking about which I can't even remember now.  We only went to Alcatraz two years ago, for example, almost to the day, a cold weird day with Blue Angels flying overhead and Joe stumbling around in a chemo-induced fog.

Anyway, yesterday, standing in line, we had just emerged from a great yoga class at Yoga Toes with the charming Nicholas Giacomini, aka MC Yogi.  He was great and funny and awesome, and he played James Brown which RULES.  It was so sweet for me to have Joe in yoga with me, just like old times.  To be there, we had opted not to do our usual Saturday morning thing -- Joe hours on the bike with his teammates, me hours in Sausalito with the kula, then reuniting at home for lunch and garden.  We chose to skip that and spend the day with Peggy and Jim in West Marin, stay away from our Country Mouse chores and just hang out.  It's kind of a new thing we're doing, trying to take a weekend-day a month and step outside our pattern.  

So much fun but really so hard for us.

Anyway, this friend of Peggy's with whom we were waiting for sandwiches,  just couldn't imagine what we were doing with our time that we weren't partaking of all of these wonders of the area, all of these resources.  I felt funny trying to explain the pull that Home has for us.  It was hard for me to imagine being someone without this need to be INSIDE the very ground I walk on, that maybe she doesn't know what it feels like to know that that eggplant you're eating is something you yourself put in the ground, coaxed from seed, protected against the incursion of birds and voles, until it came to glorious fruition, a celebration of soil and summer on your palate.  I wasn't always like this, raised on concrete and noise, but here I am, in full revel of my country side, hardly able to tear myself away from our small plot of earth.

Years and years later, I see how all that early life indoctrination turned out, how much I am La Fourmi, industriously gathering and planning for the future.  Even while I'm out singing and eating and window-shopping with my friends, still the teeny tiny little ant inside is keeping track of where the sun is and how much time remains.  A little Cigale but mostly, mostly Fourmi.


and just because i love this song and it makes me laugh and it has some tiny bit to do with today's theme, here's Flea singing "Little Pea."  Just listen, nothing to see here.  :)