I pleased myself in bringing in a few Lilac sprigs in hopes of saving them from the cold and a predicted frost tonight. While the sun breaks through on and off, the snow flurries dance the air on and off too. I fear for the delicate blossoms, and the Lilacs especially, as they emerged only the other day. Lilacs seem to be my favorite ones. I do love the color purple in all it's variations, from pinks to lilacs to burgundies. Last year much of the glory got whipped away by one late frost in mid May, if I believed in prayer I would resort to it now.
Kale being high in pesticides really surprised me, I guess no more prepackaged Kale from non organic from Trader Joe's for me. Sweet Corn low in pesticides surprised me as I expected Monsanto to have modified most non-organic corn by now. I heard coffee is best bought organic and some say bananas are cultivated so bad they would not consider eating non-organic ones? I believe fatty dairy products are best eaten organic, but non-organic, non-fat yogurt I eat lots of. (My pets though refuse it and will only show enthusiasm for the richer kinds!) Many these days swear by Greek yogurt, but for me nothing beats Brown Cow in taste and texture, but their yogurt is not organic and expensive, unless it is on sale. Similar with chocolates, I tasted organic bites, each costing several dollars, and they do not compare to say Swiss Lindt Chocolate Balls in taste and creamy texture. So I decided while I sin, I go for it all the way. And come on, a bite of 70 plus percent deep dark chocolate is not going to do it for me. That may be medicine, but health is not what I am after when I seek out a sweet treat.
I wish organic would consistently go along with better taste and better quality of produce, but I do not find that to be so. I get upset when I pay a lot for an organic apple to find it mealy and tasteless, maybe heavily bruised on top. It bothers me how expensive food has become. I need to make informed and wise decisions as to how I spend my money. Not sure I am succeeding with my sweet tooth keeping the upper hand.
37 years ago I remember being scolded for buying regular brown rice from the regular grocery store, rather then the organic kind from the alternative little health food store then called "Mr. Natural" in Zurich, Switzerland. Then as now, while philosophically in total agreement, price seems an overriding concern for me.
My mind wanders off to the character strategies of the orally fixated and those others that are blessed to be simply delighted and content with a bowl of soup and/or salad. I am not one of them. Lifestyle choices are crucial for our health, I have no doubt. Food choices though are not just dictated by health, but also by pleasure and now with our lists also by knowledge.
Today April 26th, it would have been Joe's birthday.
While he is gone, dear Joe is not forgotten.
I met Joe when I was 18 years old, back from an almost one year long stint as an Au-Pair girl in the french speaking part of Switzerland. I got my life back on track after an earlier fiasco, got serious and got a position in a lawyer's office, vaguely wanting to do good and meaningful work. (Gosh, was I naive!) On my lunch break, I would take strolls down the lake side and there I met Joe selling, it was the early seventies, his hand crafted wire jewelry. I loved his attitude, decidedly non-commercial. He would attempt to discourage his potential buyers from acquiring one more useless item, even if it was his and would go on about consumerism and such favorites of the sixties, and seventies, not just in Switzerland. He did move on and made more useful items, such as the Chilets depicted above, the epitome as he said of his craft. Such pieces of wearable art, long lasting, but not forever, as he would readily point out, hand dyed and - crafted in every single aspect that included the search of materials, at first found as throw-aways on the streets and later from second hand stores. Joe was an artist through and through, a man with a highly developed sensitivity. In his youth he was an actor and late in his life he returned back to his first love, painting. On my last visit I found his home filled with primed canvases stacked and stored neatly all around his living room, ready for use any time he would fancy. His room mate was a cat he adored, his life was simple, sweet, and not without pain.
Dear Joe had given me a way out from the friction with my parents when he invited me to share his space while I was still in school and worked only part time at the law office. We have shared countless coffee breaks that included ruminations about life, god, art and friends. I miss my best buddy, his special spirit and not least his lovely creations! Is it coincidence that two of the most important men in my life share one birth day?
Today, April 26, would have been my Dad's 87th birthday. 5 years ago I rushed to Zurich, my hometown, to my Dad's bed side, a month earlier as planned, and ended up staying at his side much of the following 3 months. While uncommunicative most of his life, he had asked me clearly to stay. So I did, and gave up my long anticipated first trip to Ghana, Africa. It was my privilege to support my Dad in his time of need and his last phase.
Let me tell you, Swiss public institutions for the elderly are a lot better then the one's, public ones, I know in my community in the United States. Still it was hard. I would observe my Dad in spasm, report it to the staff, and be met with disbelief and an outright wrong diagnosis. It took 3 weeks to finally get the main honcho to diagnose my Dad's intestinal spasms correctly and not attribute them to epileptic seizures and/or part of the Parkinson symptoms. Until then everybody simply did not pay enough attention to actually notice his pain and he was in a state, unable to express himself, maybe unwilling to cause trouble. It was my honor to be his spokes person for the last few weeks of his life.
He had trouble swallowing and excessive mucous was congesting him, so I asked to leave out the dairy products. You would think that the Swiss cooks never had heard of dairy! Still the soups had butter and the deserts had whipped cream, delicious, but not helpful. Only 2 days without and he breathed easier and felt a lot more comfortable.
I asked to keep him more hydrated with herbal teas I would leave in a special thermos for him on his bed side. I did not realize then at first that even offering tea costs! It took maybe a month, maybe longer before the staff actually started to use the thermos and his mouth showed less dryness. Hydration really is crucial to the functioning of the body and brain.
It got really rough when I had to decide on my Dad's treatment plan. As I had just talked to the attending doctor on her visit at his bed side, my Dad told me with great clarity that he wanted everything done to him. Meaning he did not want us to give up on him, but he did not understand the implications. Who am I to decide over life and death!
My Dad had this moments of lucidity, moments where out of character he would share things with me. Suddenly he mentioned his having fallen in love, heavily in love, he told me. That was it, no more, not a word. Was he thinking of my mom who had passed on suddenly a few years earlier? Somehow I suspect he was reminiscing of his youth, a time long before he would meet my Mom.
My Dad had upset me severely a few years earlier when he refused to take another trip and seemed to give no hoot about my Mom's desire to travel more, maybe visit me across the ocean. His selfish concerns and disregard of my Mom's longings upset me enough to confront him one day, on a rare occasion as the two of us were hanging in a coffee shop. So it really surprised me when he announced to me that it may be time for him to take another trip. He did not elaborate, just that cryptic statement that I believe was part of his acceptance of his dying process. My mom had dragged him all around the world to far away exotic places, ever since the late sixties.
My Mom's glamor job for me would have been to play the part of a glorified waitress on an airplane, a Stewardess, to travel to far away places, but always to return home. (I did travel far, but never returned!) I found this image which must have been taken by my Dad, I assume, in Tunisia, on their first big vacation together, without me. (I stayed home alone, in 6th grade, a bit afraid of the dark at night, but not too much. With my best friend over, we would fry ourselves heavily spiced pieces of meat late at night, the extent to which I then took my unsupervised freedom.)
For my planned trip to Accra I had bought my self my very first digital point and shoot camera, an Olympus, because I knew the brand from the collection of cameras my Dad had kept. His interest peaked as it occurred to me to show him my new gadget and this dying man came alive again for a few moments. This is the very first image I took with that new camera on his bedside while holding his hand. It now symbolizes a whole lot for me. Things like the intimacy of holding hands, of caring and sharing, but also holding on and fear, things both me and my Dad were plenty familiar with.
5 years ago on his last birthday, I had asked my Dad how old he thought he was and his response after long deliberation and not a little uncertainty was, maybe, just maybe 30 years old! This made me smile and made me think of how we depict ourselves and others often in the peak of our lives. My Mom too I believe envisioned herself rising from the dead, on resurrection day, as a young, vibrant woman. So this is my Dad, as a young man, maybe in his early twenties. He remains a mystery to me in so many ways as he had never been one to talk about himself, his feelings, his beliefs, his work or his past. I treasure the peace we found together at last.
Yesterday, shopping at Whole Foods, I found a purple Amethyst rock earring and left it with Customer Service, certain someone will miss it badly and maybe remember to return and ask for it. Today, right outside Whole Foods, I noticed a small plastic bag with 2 buds inside along the side walk. Not smoking or drugging myself, I still had to pick up this treasure to some. Since a band had been playing outside and was packing up, I left that little bag near by in hopes that it would be found by just the right person, the one that can appreciate it's content without getting in to too much trouble.
I left my pups tethered outside the grocery store (something I do often despite it being illegal in our community) while I got inside to pick up a few items. On my return I found the best of gifts, my Isabella-girl, freely sat and waited near Sumo, the lead attached only to Sumo! Imagine what could have happened with the main drag, Cerrillos Road, near by! Dogs passing by could have excited my girl to run in to traffic! I was so grateful to find her so obediently sitting and waiting rather then roaming the area and getting in to trouble. She is such a good girl and today I feel grateful for this best of gifts of finding my girl waiting for me on her own volition.
Now, if I could find and pick up what I am in dire need of, a new direction in my life, I would have reasons to swoon.
How do we stay socially connected Dr. Weil asks in regard to findings about social relating of British seniors written about in this article.
This got me thinking. My first response is - not.
In truth I live a ridiculous, maybe sad, isolated life these days. On second thought well, I accost strangers for one, whenever the mood strikes. Sometimes I smile at one for no reason at all. Today it was a cute toddler, from Tunisia I learned, who showed interest in my pups. Later it was a young pup who was anxious about meeting mine, so I insisted we make it a priority for these 3 terriers to meet amicably, which meant for me abandoning my steaming hot cup of coffee and news paper, to attend to more urgent matters, proper socialization of pups, all three of them. Yesterday, a young, I learned 37 years old, beggar challenged me to smile at him, so I did and then proceeded to ask him why he was begging and we got in to a conversation and parted with him asking for God's blessing for me. amidst more smiles. I do believe we all do better when we can see each other, as fellow human beings at least, better yet when we offer up our smile for the taking.
Sometimes I frown when warranted, who says it has to be all positive. I do believe in communication and letting others know how they affect me, either way. I don't like cameras pointed in my direction, I see no need for another ugly image of mine floating out and about in the universe. But what really gets me is when we, me and my pups seem invisible to the drivers of menacing vehicles. And yes, I assert my right to ride my bike on public roads with my pups along side. We deserve respect and consideration.
I do offer, most often my unsolicited opinion on most anything and everything when the mood strikes. I do believe in the value of exchanging opinions, ideas, feelings and one's world view. It seems to me that Americans have almost forgotten how to discuss, express and listen to another point of view without taking offense, or retreating in to the safety of their own private thoughts. I am convinced a lack of serious discussion is at the heart of our political divide, really dismal abyss.
Turns out my furry companions make excellent conversation openers, a side benefit I had been unawares of when I had gathered up my first dog, my Isabella-girl, from our local shelter only a few years ago. Our former dump, now most frequented public park, has become a major source of social interaction, not just for the mutts of course.
And then there are always the check-out gals and guys, of which some even offer free philosophical advise or cooking tips, besides the more common weather reports, often with a smile, sometimes out right laughter. This is how I learned to make my very own Salsa Verde only a few months ago, and that after living in the Southwest for more then 20 years.
On the rare occasion of catching a glimpse of signs of intimacy between others; a look, a smile, a touch, an energy, I live vicariously through them. Signs of affection in public are very rare in my community for to me very mysterious reasons. I wanted to blame it on the power of the Catholic church in our community, but since I learned that roughly only 25% are active and practicing, I doubt my blame would be justified.
Extended shared meals, maybe followed by long walks with talks, best hand in hand, or arm-in-arm, enriched with extended phone conversations before and after, seem a thing of the past for me, for now. The internet has replaced such in my life, I hope not forever,. The best of this sharing on-line is when it revolves around our creative expressions. I have been addicted to flickr and the viewing of others experiences of their world through their lenses. Now, that can offer inspiration and countless hours of oohs and ahs. It is fascinating to communicate with the visually inspired all across the world
How do YOU, retired or not, stay socially connected beyond the obvious, family, friends and grandchildren?
The sinister look of our Pretty Kitty is manufactured by me, his eyes in reality are a mild, bright yellow, but he looks great in green I think. Last night my guy stayed out all night. Is it Spring, or his displeasure with the kibble or does he finally have enough of sleeping down in the tiny bathroom with the dogs, instead of up on my comfy bed? He has been hard to please of late and of course does not understand the necessity of isolation in battling our buggers, a pest that has gotten hold of our household, supposedly only Isabella, but I can feel them on me and so can Sumo. Thankfully none but Isabella gotten secondary infections from what are supposed to be host specific Mites. No idea how we brought them home, but the battle, up to 5 hours of cleaning and grooming a day, can be exhausting. I look forward to looking back on this episode in the knowledge that this too did pass. (It did pass. The guy that finally fumigated our home with natural Cedar, after he collected $300 from me, suggested there had been no more pests, but residues only left in my head!)
Watsu is Harold Dull's blend of traditional Shiatsu techniques adapted to an aquatic environment. Harold, the lonely poet got interested in massage wanting more contact. With his very structured mind he was able to create his very own, unique style of bodywork in the welcoming environment of Harbin Hot Spring's warm pool. He said himself that nowhere else Watsu could have blossomed, but in the permissive atmosphere of Harbin. Watsu is one intimate style of bodywork. The receiver is cradled, often like a baby in the givers arms. Contact, skin to skin usually at Harbin, or skin to bathing suit elsewhere, is practically unavoidable. There is nothing more blissful and deeply relaxing then lying in the soft arms of a skilled, professional bodyworker, buoyant in warm water. The synchronized breath of giver and receiver dictates the rise and fall, the rhythm of what is about to unfold.
Relaxation, I always contend, is only the beginning, but for many it is the desired end goal. For some, the intimacy with a stranger and the sense of floating and loosing often tight held boundaries, is too much. Their stomachs may revolt, their spirits may object, their bodies may subject them to waves of nausea, and worse.
For a few this form of bodywork will carry them to their depth, to old, unresolved traumas, to places in need of deep healing, to experiences wanted maybe all their lives, without ever having known. They might encounter memories, dreams, bits and pieces that float up from their unconscious. In the safe embrace of an experienced therapist those fragments will be welcomed and followed to their natural conclusion. No forcing, no molding, no shoulds or coulds, just simple acceptance and an understanding of human needs and wants, so simple, yet so often unmet. Communication may stay silent or not, may include crying or not, may include any form of expression from the receiver, including hitting and shouting, in anger or rage, - or not. There is no prescribed way of experiencing a Watsu, of experiencing life, one's inner river of aliveness, of that which wants to be whole, wants to heal, wants to experience that which has been missing.
Healing flows in cycles and so does a Watsu. While the melded breath of both, giver and receiver, dictates a rhythm for the receiver to be cradled and rocked while in a constant embrace, as the Watsu progresses, the therapist may seek more specific interaction with points of soreness or limitations.
Water is amazing in it's ability to mirror with clarity the state of one's lack of fluidity. It makes it easy to uncover long held patterns of resistance, limitation, maybe protection. The skilled therapist will have a whole arsenal of tools at disposal to address such. A deepened stage of relaxation usually experienced in warm water makes such tools very effective. Aquatic Bodywork is powerful! It can be approached with many principles in mind and is by no means limited to Shiatsu and simple rocking and floating. Personally I incorporated structural bodywork and others have experimented at large with cranio-sacral rhythms and releasing techniques. Some physiotherapist use resistance exercises, while some psychotherapist encourage full self expression that may include kicking and screaming. Israel, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Japan are countries I am aware of that have integrated Watsu in their own unique styles. So, if you have not had your Watsu today, go get one, don't delay!
My earlier use of the term exuberance got me wondering.
Blossoms must be nature's most exuberant manifestations.
Such lavish extravagance and flamboyant splendor!
Puppy play must come in a close second though.
Exuberance in humans, me, does not mean to bring home flowers (as I had mentioned in my prior post) but may rather be likened to a flowering of Self. I experience my own blossoming when I am present to my Self and to my world. Demands of my presence, my willingness to be and to feel and to hold a focus of sorts, seem highest when performing, be it in the function of therapist, teacher, student or performance artist. Really, I am thinking of any state of heightened awareness including meditation. But also the considerate conscious adult response to a child's inquiry.
When I perform Aquatic Bodywork, I open up and make myself large and embracing, be it in a therapeutic setting or a learning environment. When I am focused on an inner fluid sensory and emotional landscape, mine and others, when my focus is on dream states, when I follow process, when I listen to what wants to be expressed and especially, when the unexpected happens, that is when I feel most alive and I feel closest to my human potential.
I gifted myself with the acquisition of an Orchid.
The idea of Easter makes me ravenous for signs of Spring and since there are few yet available to us here, where Winter has decided to hold out and hang on, I had to resort to the extensive assortment of Trader Joe's floral selection. Bless them for making flowers once again almost affordable. I justify the expense of my Orchid with the photo ops so obviously inherent in this most exquisite of what has been called an epitome of evolution.
This Easter Sunday actually blessed us with a perfect Spring day that started out warm enough to get out early to the dog park, my pups were in heaven. After so many delayed walks due to my unwillingness to brave the cold, they could barely believe their good luck in being out and about before 9 am and acted rambunctious with Isabella chasing Sumo and Sumo tossing sticks up in to the air out of pure exuberance.
After a stop at the coffee shop and sitting in the sun with a real cappuccino and a snatched Sunday paper we headed straight back again to our dog park, the best in the country, so I am told. I blame my cough, now in it's 3. week, for my sitting back down again, with feet up, back warmed now by the late morning sun, while facing a calm high desert expanse.
Secretly I had hoped for something of an epiphany, some big aha, some sign that would guide my way in to a very uncertain future. Nothing of the sort happened, but for a moment I noticed a sublime sense of well being. And then it was time to move on. In my exuberance I splurged and brought home a spectacular Orchid.