Friday, May 07, 2021

 Dear friends-

Wednesday I went to the Ethiopian Muslim Association mosque. We vaccinated about 60 people. The Imam guided us around, taught us to take off or cover our shoes, cover our heads. The interior of the mosque had a carpet that is designed for individual prayer rugs and there was tape on the floor so folks would be safely spaced. We women and men were set up in different rooms with screens  and folding tables. My companion Lauren and I chatted together between giving shots. She's a public health nurse. Some of the women were scared, most were stoic. Several had two scars from smallpox vaccine. All of them were refugees with identification cards. 

We were fed lunch from a local Panera. During lunch was a call to prayer. How beautiful, the words in Arabic. Men and women came in and knelt down praying. 

I know woefully little about Islam, nothing really. So I will study, at least to have some idea. 

I'm taking a course in comparative religions from Harvard, free to audit. The focus is Buddhism and I'm learning so much. All the different schools from Pure Land to Tibetan, so different from one another. 

Humans are a mystery, right?

Tomorrow I again attend a 'pop-up' vaccination clinic for half a day. 

I continue to be amazed. 

Sunday, May 02, 2021

 Dear friends-

I wished a bunch of people a happy mother's day and my daughter told me it's next Sunday. My response-the early bird catches the worm.


And so it begins, right?

Waves of the pandemic, like waves in the ocean. Some bigger, some smaller. Some knocking us over and tumbling us around. And so on with that metaphor. 

We are thinking it's maybe over but it's not, not for a long time. I knew that last year, I just knew. This illness would grab us and shake us and threaten us in spite of vaccines and health precautions and all. And so many of us would die. 

The spring continues to bless us with her beauty. Maybe I'll get more than a handful of grapes this year. Judith and I went to Cougar Mountain to hike and we saw wild bleeding hearts and trillium and tracks of a deer. Felix got gloriously dirty. 

My sister called and asked if I still performed weddings and of course, I still do. She wondered if I were available next October and of course I am. She then told me she's getting married. WTF. She's been dating this guy in Florida for several months and he's a retired teacher from the Bronx with kids and grandkids and he's a widower and he is very fit for a 74 yo guy who bicycles and likes to dance and she sent me a photo of the two if them on New Year's Eve. And she's been totally silent all this time!!! He came on the phone and I said, Brooklyn? The Bronx? He replied, "two block from the Yankee Stadium." Annie's attended a Seder already. He's a very tall, slender man with his arm around my sis. 

Whaddya know. I am delighted for her and jealous too. I'll get over it. I mean, how lovely to find someone during the plague years to play with. Going to Florida was a smart move. So I guess I'll be helping them with a wedding in the fall. I got excited about going to Florida (Mary!) but they think they'll be in NYC. 

And that's it from the Pacific NW. Wednesday I vaccinate some folks. 

May all beings find happiness and the causes of happiness.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

May all beings experience the joy that is without sorrow,

And may that joy never leave them.

May all beings live in balance and in harmony,

freed from greed and aggression,

Believing in the equality of all that live.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021


I just started a 'program' called A Year to Live. The book is by Stephen Levine. With my dear friend  and Dharma teacher Mary Stancavage. On Saturday she led us in a meditation that set our 'death day', 365 days from 4/25/2021. We have daily practice and we'll be meeting once a month, until we die. 

One of my writing group called it 'morbid'. Granted, I'm two days in but I have thought often about this season. Spring. Will this be my last spring. How can I enjoy it completely. Last year allowed spring to unfold for me in the most intimate and illuminated way. Daily I attended to buds unfurling and weeds flourishing. The vegetable garden was bountiful. The elderberry was prolific and lush. With the fear of death hovering over us all, moments were more brilliant, our very breath life giving or life ending. 

Right now from my window a crow is perched on the top of a maple tree. Unconcerned with the ending of her life. We humans know we will die, just not when. But I know when (hypothetically). I want to be ready to meet it. I don't want to be like my friend James who struggled and suffered and was overcome with fear at the end. 

As I said to a therapist many years ago, "I don't want to be afraid to die because I was afraid to live."

Much love

Friday, April 23, 2021

 Dear friends-

I was diagnosed with a nasty GI bug and put on 2 weeks of horrid meds, which I have completed. Made me feel terrible. Still dealing with the repercussions. There will be a recheck to see if I'm 'cured' and then life goes on. At this point, replenishing my poor gut with fermented foods and probiotics. 

My healthcare provider offered NO help. I know you know. If we want to know what is wrong with us and we want to improve our health, we have to be proactive and do it ourselves. Dr Google helped me to understand what the bacteria was and suggested ways to recover. That's why so many of us visit naturopaths and acupuncturists and chiropractors. Western medicine is so inadequate. 

Of course, western medicine has made amazing advances, for example-vaccines for covid. But who has access to vaccines? Who gets to live and who dies? The inequities are so obvious. I'm lucky. I got vaccinated early. Unlike so many of my fellow citizens. 

I've registered to help with the vaccination effort in Seattle. Just waiting for my 'assignment'. I've asked to work in my neighborhood, which is largely Asian and immigrant Somalis and Ethiopians. 

I guess I'm just angry this morning. 

In other news, I attended another birth yesterday with our young midwife, Emily. It was the family's fourth baby. A strapping boy. She's a pediatric resident and he's a stay-at-home dad. They plan to return to Alaska to work in the Alaskan healthcare system. I'll go visit them on Sunday to see how they are doing and check in on their babe. I wish every mother had access to the type of care we provide. Back in the day, I thought that home birth with midwives would change the world. Ah, my young self. 

We moved the dogwood from the front of the house where it never bloomed to the back of the house and it is covered with blossoms. It needed to be cooler and out of the sun. What do we each need to thrive? 

Apropos of nothing, here is my new Website:

I think it is very pretty. 

May you all be well and safe today. 

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Sunday, April 04, 2021

Dear friends-

I'm back from the wilds of California and Oregon.  I drove many miles in my spiffy new car, blasting tunes and stopping occasionally to pee. Can I say? There were LOTS of folks without masks at rest centers, Safeways and gas stations. WTF. I know many of my fellow brethren distrust vaccines but jeez. How hard is it to wear a mask?? I know, I know. But the numbers of dead are so huge, our little brains or compassionate responses cannot handle it. Unless we know someone who has died, some of us just don't care. I can't comprehend the numbers but  I care, of course I do. Signed up to help with the vaccine effort here in the great NW. I give shots, I can give shots or whatever they want me to do. 

Driving through southern Oregon and into California, the views were breathtaking. Literally. I kept saying, 'holy shit'. Bluest skies, and mountains, some still with snow. Just gorgeous. Mount Shasta area, damn. Every time I drive through there I think I want to move there. I did also pass through burned acres, many burned acres. 

Eden was surprised to see me. She was confused, thought I was her sister at first. Hot springs, Pinnacles National Forest and a stop in Eugene to see old friends. Loved it all. 

Unfortunately I also got news of results from my endoscopy. I have H pylori, a nasty bacteria that causes ulcers and stomach cancer. Awesome. Many of us, maybe 1/2 the population harbors this dread bug. Anyway, I'm taking 5 pills twice a day for two weeks. Yuck. One of them makes my mouth dry and taste nasty. Fun times. Until I'm done with the treatment, there's no point in taking yogurt and probiotics. And I feel less than stellar. In fact, I'm planning to spend today in my bathrobe. I have to make myself take the dog out. But I'm grateful I have a diagnosis and it could be way worse. I've helped my friends who have had cancer and THAT is truly terrible. 

Anyway, I'm glad to be home. It's a typical day here, grey and rainy. I must admit, being in all that California sunshine was lovely. But the magnolia are blooming and so are the daffs. 

May we all enjoy our bodies, in whatever shape they are in at the moment.

Monday, March 22, 2021

 Dear friends-

I would like to complain and then I'll stop, k? 

It's cold and rainy here. Every day. Ug. I am a tolerant woman but sometimes it's just too much. My sister who has braved northern NY for years is now in Florida and planning to move there. I get it. Florida summers might be a bit much but she breezes out of the house in shorts and sandals while I'm up here gearing up in rain clothes and boots (again). Sigh. 

And I'm to 'isolate' until my endoscopy tomorrow. Covid test negative. Well, there's that. 

It's not dribbling outside. It's actually raining big rain drops. I know, first world problem. But day after day, c'mon. 

Because I can't leave the house until my procedure except to walk the dog (there's nobody out there, trust me) I have one day to get myself together to leave for Cal. 

Oh gawd, I am truly whining. 

In other news, I give a bit of money to causes I care about. They are monthly donations that come out of my account automatically. You may know that I facilitate two weekly meditation groups and one of the participants sends me money for each session. I always offer these sits for free and I told her she didn't have to send money but she does, every week. So I just pass it on to Buddhist nuns, a Dharma teacher and the Duwamish tribe (for 'rent') as I am living on their unceded land. 

See how that is? 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”                                                                                                                                                      MLK

It adds to my understanding of karma, which I partially understand. The idea of passing it on, passing it through. That how we are in this life affects everything with implications for the future, our descendants and theirs and so on. And we're reaping actions from the past, sometimes the long past. Maybe there is 'instant karma' but I think that is a truncated understanding. 

We don't know how far and wide our goodness and generosity will travel. I do know it feels good to do good. To be a good person. I have often said that I don't know about enlightenment (or nibbana or nirvana or whatever). I aspire to be a mensch, a yiddish word for good person. 

I'm starting to counsel women who have had traumatic birth/postpartum experiences. I remind them that I'm not a therapist and I don't charge for listening. That is what I do, listen. I had my first person last week and I have another woman before I leave. Trauma lodges in the body and telling the story can help. I don't try to fix it or minimize their experience. I listen with kindness. There is so much pain in this world!! In a tiny way, perhaps this activity can alleviate a bit of suffering.