Saturday, December 26, 2020
Friday, December 18, 2020
We fast approach the Solstice and an end to this very terrible terrible year.
“To Know the Dark"
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.”
Friday, December 11, 2020
Waiting for Eden to come home from a (distant) visit with a friend. We'll have waffles and pear/blueberry compote for breakfast and then back to the salt mines, er, sewing machines. Selfishly, I don't want us to ever finish because when we're done, she'll leave. :-(. My beautiful children. This visit has been so enjoyable and fun and full of laughing, podcasts, great food and conversations. How did I get so lucky? She has heard me tell my story of her birth many times but while I am working from home, she hears my conversations with clients and I continue to talk about her birth. Crazy parents having their baby in their bedroom, back in 1975. Talked the doc into coming over, his first ever home birth (!). He showed up with his little black bag. I think he put gloves on. She came so fast, he had barely arrived when she was born. My fast furious girl with the bright mind and nervous energy. Artist, cook, goofy sense of humor, kind, self deprecating.
I love her always.
Sunday, December 06, 2020
Friday, December 04, 2020
Kenny lives two doors down and I've mentioned him here before. When I first moved in, he announced that he was gay and was living with AIDS. Since then he's had a heart attack and so he now has a pacemaker. He has two big goofy dogs who are very well behaved. Very. Well. Behaved. Much better than Felix. Since the pandemic began, he's become my gay husband,
For the last two days, he has decorated my house with Christmas lights. Every year when my kids were small they wanted lights on the house. I was always too tired or busy. Now my house is cheerfully lit up. I'm sitting on my meditation cushion right now looking out the window at them. Seattle gets very dark very early this time of year. Now I can be one of those houses shining in the night. Because of Kenny.
Kindness comes in all forms, doesn't it?
Friday, November 27, 2020
Eden is here and we are making 200 (?) aprons from giant rolls of fabric which she designed and had printed in advance of her cookbook. There are agents talking to her and all. I don't know anything about this. I just agreed to make aprons and let me tell you, I am exhausted. We have made two patterns, I borrowed a second sewing machine, we quickly figured out we need twill tape instead of rolling hundreds of yards of fabric for ties and we're about to order electric scissors because you can be crippled after cutting and cutting and cutting. Plus our working surface is the floor so there's a lot of stooping and bending and kneeling. Eden made knee pads from ace bandages and socks and blue painter's tape. Plus, as you know, she's a cook so she brought tons of food and took over the fridge and counters and has been making delicious food for us. Any weight loss I may have achieved will be undone. I don't care. It's SOOO nice to have her here.
We've been masking and keeping out distance. Today she went for a covid test which she'll get in a few days. Then maybe we can be around each other without our faces covered.
I got up at 4:45 this morning and went swimming IN A POOL. There is one pool a bit south of me that is open. No locker room, only 2 people per lane, masking until we're in the water. The pool was full. At that hour. And you have to register for times. I did get the rest of my wet suit-gloves and booties, so I have no excuse to go to the Sound again. It's a whole thing, apparently, cold water swimming. Precautions-don't swim by yourself and sometimes people have heart attacks and strokes from the shock.
Eden, my gleaner, saw an apple tree in the green belt where we walk loaded with apples. We went and picked way too many apples and so they are sitting on the counter waiting for, um.....with our spare time we'll be dehydrating apples, I guess.
In other news, John Oliver blowing up 2020 is perfect, just perfect.
Wednesday, November 11, 2020
Here today I'm gonna swear off stress reading CNN/NYT for further damage, destruction etc. I will write to Georgian voters to show up for the runoff. I will go back to the massage therapist (Dan) who I found on Google in my neighborhood. He untangled my messed up shoulder by leaning heavily into my spasming trapezius and upper arm with his very large biceps. I whimpered a bit but didn't stop him. I could barely move my arm when I went into his studio. He was very knowledgeable about US politics and racism and all so he regaled me with stories, which I found strangely soothing.
The body doesn't lie.
Meditation is not always the answer. We also have to get off our butts and work for change, in our neighborhoods, with our fellow humans. The United Way is back to offer more food related volunteer opportunities. I'm going to the 'food forest' to dig and plant and prep for next year. The food forest is a public garden in a 'food desert' in my neighborhood where anyone can come and take food, for free. I have plenty of food. I have plenty.
I will continue to do what I can. After four ruinous years, there's so much we can attend to. No such thing as retirement. Nope.
She has come to live in my living room next to my altar. She Who Hears the Cries of the World.
Peace and love always.
Saturday, November 07, 2020
Thursday, November 05, 2020
I learned that more white women voted for Trump this time around, more than last election. WTF. How does fascism rise? This is how.
And I fear my fellow citizens, the ones who support authoritarianism. Bigotry. Intolerance. It was always thus. This administration just threw open Pandora's box.
I can't watch. Kenny sends me updates.
This morning I drove up north to the Korean spa for ladies. I was the only person there for the first 30 minutes. I got a scrub as my skin has been feeling like scales. I sat in the steam and the hot tub. I had lunch in the little cafe. It was worth every penny.
Now I'm lying on the couch eating fancy chocolate under a down comforter. Today the lady who scrubbed me with her scratchy mittens touched me ALL OVER. I'm gonna sleep well tonight, guaranteed. Joe just might get to be the next prez.
Keep the faith, dear friends.
Wednesday, November 04, 2020
Just had a good long cry after reading Mary's blog here. Holding her hand through this shite. What I have is a cat who had taken to peeing large puddles in front of the front door so when I step into the house, I step into a pee puddle. Being gone for two weeks has sent her right round the bend. Don't tell me animals don't feel our anxiety and stress.
Nancy is talking about going to Germany and living in her brother's house until they kick her out. She doesn't feel safe here. Casey is looking into a visa for Portugal, in prep for emigrating. Tracy and her fam are planning a trip to Mexico but she said to me today that either candidate is still part of a system that doesn't give a fuck about her brown self and her brown children.
Four more years of woman hating, queer baiting, BIPOC hating, LIFE DESTROYING for personal gain policies and speeches and agendas is too much to bear. So I just cried and cried til the snot was running down my face. The cat is perched beside my computer purring away. I think she's trying to soothe me or maybe herself.
At least with Biden we could have some sanity around the pandemic, some coordination, SOMETHING. Repairing our relations with global leaders.....jeezus.
Felix and I went to Cougar Mountain for a good long hike in the rain.
Sunday, November 01, 2020
As I said, I was not going to be one of those people who swim in 50 degree water. Those fools in wet suits dragging yellow or orange balloons behind them so boats or jet skis don't clobber them. Those idiots who swim from buoy to buoy. Not me. Nope. Although I have endless fascination for all outdoor activities. Rock climbing, never want to. Mountain climbing, ditto. Biking is great. Running, can't do anymore. Hiking perfection. Downhill skiing, never ever, would kill myself. Cross-country, now we're talking. And my favorite, swimming. Not scuba diving, scares me. But swimming is closest to heaven, body-wise.
With the pools closed, what to do? Wait for the lake to get warm enough. Then----- autumn. Nooooooo. So a wet suit it is. And let me tell you. Those fuckers are tight, really tight. Like the Black Panther movie tight. And who thought a zipper in the back was a good idea? Doesn't matter that there is a long shoelace thing tied to the zipper so you can try hauling it up your back. Right.
I went swimming yesterday. And I decided to zip it up by myself. So I part way zipped it, contorted myself into the suit and zipped it ALL THE WAY UP. Yeah!!! As I said, it's like trying to pull on a stretchy thick inner tube up your legs, over your torso and over your arms. Right. But I did it. I drove to the water (beautiful brisk fall day) and swam. Well, the shock of the water was, shall we say, alarming. My body was warm, my hands and feet had no feeling and my face was frozen. Like when you eat too much ice cream too fast frozen.
I made it out to the buoy, paddled around a bit and then went in because even I realized the insanity of it.
I might go tomorrow but that is absolutely the last time. I'm not completed crazy.
I might post again after, you know, Tuesday. Probably not before.
Stay safe out there, everyone. As Seth Myers says at the end of his shows-We love you.
Sunday, October 25, 2020
Back from a rough retreat. Isolation on top of isolation. Ha! I felt very supported. The forest was beautiful as were (was?) the doe and her yearling which I saw almost every day.
We do take our baggage with us wherever we go, y'know? Deeply buried family stuff came to the surface and it was intense. I don't really wanna write about it here, or not yet anyway. Letting it settle. I spoke with my teacher every other day and that was most helpful. Boy o boy, our sorrow and grief. This human experience is surely a wild ride.
A few friends and I are going to keep each other company for election night-African peanut soup, biscuits, some kind of dessert with birthday candles for Judith and pillows to scream into if necessary.
Maya and I talked about Bend, Oregon. Could we move there? How are property values? Could she go back to the Bay area to cut hair twice a month? Milo will be launching soon so she can contemplate what's next. Bend is beautiful and importantly, farther north from California.
I listened to a Dharma talk with Jack Kornfield while I was on retreat. He said something that stuck with me. "This is not the end of the story." All the mishegoss (Yiddish for crazy) we are currently experiencing will change and morph and become...something else. It's a universal law. The children know. The young activists know. They are thinking and working and building community and a new world because we are on the brink of, we don't know.
The metta prayer:
May all beings be safe and protected from inner and outer harm.
May all beings be happy just as they are.
May all beings be healthy in their bodies and their minds.
May all beings have ease. May all beings be surrounded by compassion. May all beings be free.
I say this every day. For myself and everyone else. Everyone. No exceptions. (That's the hard part) It is what I can do.
Sunday, October 11, 2020
What do you do with a broken heart? After years of silence from my swim buddy, we reconnected and our swim mornings have been the happiest I have felt during this terrible year. I asked Clark if he would house sit for me while I went on retreat and he agreed. I leave tomorrow.
I should say. I spent several hours at the ER yesterday with my old friend gut pain. I got worked up (after 7 hours) and was told I have nothing to worry about (?) While I was there, I asked Clark to go to my house and feed the critters until I got home. My little cat decided to pee on the bed...and why? Perhaps she was having another bladder infection. Clark and I talked about the possibility of needing to take her to the vet and strategies to do that. He slept here and I drove him home this morning. Our plan was to swim the morning I was leaving and then I would drive him to my house with his stuff so he could work and live here for 2 weeks.
Well, citing my recent illness and the cat, he wrote me a text to back out of his agreement to house sit. He was feeling dread and unease all day. The text came tonight and I'm supposed to leave at 10 in the morning. So I scrambled to find another solution. Randy the incomparable dog sitter agreed to take Felix. My tenant and I have a complicated arrangement with her and a few of her friends to take care of the kitty.
I was flabbergasted. I was so shocked I couldn't even react to his text. My response was 'wow'. Just wow.
As I write this I can see all sides. He doesn't really understand my deep need to be on retreat. His anxiety may be as bad as mine. He couldn't talk to me in person because it was too scary (I've done that).
Still. I feel so sad. I feel like he broke up with me as a friend. Maybe I was too needy and everything is so awful right now that we're all flailing and trying to find some comfort. I just can't feel any anger. I feel disappointed. And hurt. I expect others to behave the way I do. How silly. It's good to learn who we can really count on when things are rough.
How do I forgive him? Do I forgive him? I'll be gone and I can use this as "an object of meditation".
Well, I wrote it out here so maybe I can start to release it.
He even suggested that we could meet to swim tomorrow morning and talk about things. Nah, I don't think so.
As a PS, while I was sitting in the ER, a friend I know from sangha texted me that he was in the neighborhood and we could have tea. I told him where I was and he asked which ER (big city) so I told him. About an hour later, he texted that he was in the ER waiting room. He waited for hours with me and drove me home. I didn't ask him to. He just showed up. Thats what we can do for each other. We can show up.
Thursday, October 08, 2020
We have to touch the buoy (which has a small picture of David Bowie-har har) and then we swim off with the ducks and other swimmers. The feeling of the water, the cold on my hands and feet and face, the small waves and the gray sky enclosing us. We are alive, swimming away from trouble and fear. For a little while, we are free of everything except the sensations of breathing and stroking and breathing.
This is pure beauty.
Sunday, October 04, 2020
Harriet Tubman-only one missing piece. And that was my Sunday. Retreat in a week, yeehaw.
Thursday, October 01, 2020
What needed to be said was said. Trevor Noah, I believe, said it best. I still wonder about how we got here. But my Black friends and Black folk in general are not surprised. We were founded on slave ownership and genocide of First Nations people. Our wealth was built on the backs of enslaved human beings. Our guilt and shame is vast and unacknowledged. And some of us believe we have every right to our white supremacy. Built on nothing, built on air.
I didn't watch the 'debate'. Even thinking about it made my stomach cramp. I knew it would be awful. One more reason to get out the vote, emigrate to new Zealand, ask for help.
We hate to ask for help. We're the USA, goddammit. We can do it ourselves. We're independent. We make the rules. We set the agenda.
Except that our bluster is hiding our soft belly. Where we are vulnerable, scared, tender. We fear aging, sickness, death. We endlessly distract ourselves with stuff, things, you know what you individually do. It has been clear to me during the smoke, pandemic isolation, BLM protests that much is being asked. And we've figured out who and what we care about. All the chaos has brought us down to the finest point. We see more clearly. The little acts of random kindness. Yesterday on my dog walk, I passed a 'little mask station' someone had erected on their lawn. Masks pinned to a small vertical post. Each mask in a baggie. With a sign-Please help yourself.
Poor POTUS. What a miserable life he has. Fawning children. Indifferent wife. Sycophants all around him. I can't, in this moment, hate him. He's merely a symbol of our darkest and ugliest secrets as a nation. Like all autocrats and dictators, he sows despair and disaster wherever he goes. What a burden. It's pointless to expect compassion and kindness from someone who has no interest in accessing those things.
I do fear for our future. For those who come after us. On a visit with a new mother yesterday, she plaintively asked how she could have brought her new son into this mess. Anguish, heartfelt anguish. I reminded her to look into her baby's eyes, to stroke his soft skin, to revel in him every day as he grows and changes. Such a beautiful, heart breaking and impermanent time!
I'm not suggesting that we ignore the crisis (how could we?). But we are seeking the good, in ourselves and in others. It is there. For dinner last night I had blackberry cobbler that Kenny's mother made. Kenny, my pandemic friend and neighbor. Kenny's white beard. His dogs. His steadiness. He's living with AIDS and a heart condition. But he offers to shop for me every week. We lend each other tools.
And we can look over our suffering world with the kindness of boddhisatvas. It is said that Quan Yin hears the cries of the world. Let's be that. Let's be the change we wish to see.
Friday, September 25, 2020
Dears-I've been accepted to the self guided silent retreat that starts October 11th and will go until the 23rd. My dear Clark will house sit for me so Felix doesn't need to go anywhere and Clark can play the piano and sing and sit in the hot tub.
I'll be in silence in the woods where my meals will be prepared for me. The rest of the time I'll be sitting in the dharma hall, or walking in the woods. In Noble silence. No responsibilities. I will call my teacher every few days so the retreat center knows I'm not cracking up. I promise I won't. Heavens, I've been on many silent retreats. I'll be fine. When I think about it, I feel excited. Even though it will be hard/interesting/difficult/joyful etc. My teacher asked what I was planning to focus on. Equanimity perhaps? I'll leave electronics behind except for my phone to call her.
Tomorrow I'm planning to buy a wetsuit. If the pools are still closed, I'm gonna swim in the lake like the other lunatics. I'll get one of those buoy things to drag behind me and I won't go by myself, well, mostly. I've done so many things by myself that it will be hard to resist. Who knew I would turn out to be this kind of person?
Monday, September 21, 2020
Sunday, September 13, 2020
What kind of fresh hell is this? The pandemic keeping us apart, no hugging, no dinners together, certainly no trips to see our children. We're supposed to be masked, 6 feet apart, check for fever, breathing, contact etc etc. But get outside, commune with nature. So we do, trails through the forest with the dog and a water bottle. Don't go any farther than a tank of gas.
Now the air is so bad, we close all the windows, turn on the fans, buy out air filters. And we don't go to the forest. We can watch films about forests, we can water our house plants. We can play with the cat.
I know I talked about this before but I admit. I'm obsessed with Outlander. I've made it through the series twice and Judith snagged me all the books from a little free library. Thank you anonymous woman (you know it's a woman) for dropping the whole series in a little free library for Judith to find and she sent me a picture. "Isn't this the series you like?" Uh, I don't like it, I have an unhealthy relationship with the characters. Especially Jamie and I'm a lesbian. Or maybe I'm not really. I have no way of knowing anymore. And it doesn't matter what I/we call ourselves. Anyway, he's a Scottish hunk with a sexy Scottish accent. I swoon.
So Judith lugged home all eight books. And I mean lugged. They are bricks. They are seventeen hundred pages long. They broke the bag they were in. I've made it through four, working on the fifth.
Yes I am reading my usual stuff-Sunday NYT, The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, John Lewis autobiography, etc but when I want to comfort myself, it's Outlander all the way. And these days when I wake up to the uncertain gray of smokey skies and I let the dog out and decide if it's ok to walk around the block, I need/we need all the comfort we can get. The First Noble Truth is the truth of our suffering and dissatisfaction. Yep, check, got it. We are surely suffering right along with everything that lives. As we say in our clinic when we evaluate each client for risk, sometimes there are just 'too many things' for us to safely care for this woman outside the hospital.
Y'all, it's too many things for our little hearts and psyches to hold.
Friday, September 11, 2020
When yr driving North on the 5 and the phone keeps blowing up with alarms evacuate now high winds wild fire and you just want to get home wherever that is the thought of home being North more North than here then the sky becomes black in an unnatural way so black you can't poke a hole in it not like the night sky black with winking stars but black a heavy thick black rolling over the hills but you can't see the hills only the black with edges of red and orange but not the sun no you realize the red is the fire the wild fire pushing this way and that and yr going as fast as you can yr going 80 85 who's gonna stop you anyway yr wearing a mask the smoke will choke you will choke yr fellow travelers all going North like the deer and rabbits as the fire brushes them along until they too are consumed you don't want to be consumed not today you call yr sister so she can be there for your panic your animal panic this is how we die wind and fire and we see the fire hopping the freeway raining ash and embers we're doing our best to outrun the fire built with twigs and living trees and grass and creatures like us who want to live who want to live who want to
I came back from S Oregon on Tuesday. We were camping along a river and we woke up at 2 AM because there was smoke in the air. We stood around trying to decide what to do, should we stay, should we leave. We decided to leave and were on the road by 4 AM. Maya and her friends went south and I went north, right into the beast.
It was the scariest car ride I've ever had. When I got past the second fire, I stopped for gas and looked across at the freeway entrance and cops were blocking it so they were closing the freeway. I got out in time but so many didn't.
Today the smoke in the air is unbreathable. The humming birds are still at the feeders. Micha still has a newborn foster baby in her home. The dog is still dirty.
Fire is an uncompromising fucker. All I can do today is cry. As my friend Clark said in a text "poor sweet everything".
Monday, August 24, 2020
My older child arrives on Saturday this week. We just talked about wearing masks around each other and staying separate. I feel fortunate that I have enough rooms so she can be away from me. We're planning to spend time outdoors, meals, hiking and camping. I will follow her down to southern Oregon to a lovely campground where we will meet up with a friend of hers and her mom. To say I am excited is putting it mildly. She's worried about leaving San Rafael while California is in a terrible state. Some of my friends in Santa Cruz have had to evacuate. I even called Randy, my dog guy, to take Felix. I thought about taking him with me but when I realized he'd have to be on a leash and in my tent at night barking and woofing, I thought, shite, he's staying home. He loves Randy's house where he can GET ON THE BED AND THE COUCH AND WRANGLE WITH OTHER DOGS ALL DAY.
BTW, Randy fell off his roof and broke his neck and back. Good gawd, he's getting around with a brace. I thought you were just a goner if you did that. Who knew. Anyway, he stopped over with his husband Stewart and hold the phone, Stewart is gorgeous. Thick white hair, big handsome smile, former model and actor. Hubba hubba.
These days I'm meeting Clark for an early morning swim. We have a place. No one is in the water and the water is, um, rather cold. But it feels great and then I'm cold for about three hours. The leaves are already starting to fall so our swimming days are numbered. But o, it is so wonderful to see Clark. I love him so. He's funny and sweet and covered with ink and from Nebraska where he had to get out because of his queerness. And his baritone voice is glorious. He sings and plays the piano. I have gay men everywhere and I feel so lucky.
Back working on my book/paper/article whatever I am doing. Secondary trauma, lightweight topic. I write for a while and then I have to go shake it out or dance or sing or eat chocolate. I'm working from interviews and they are just heartbreaking. I see each woman as I read, telling her story. We are so resilient and we're so tender. I always come away feeling so honored to know these smart and vulnerable women. Each story is our collective story.
I signed up to call potential voters to encourage early ballots and ( of course) the Dem ticket. I was a miserable failure. I attended the training and they went through it way to fast for my old brain. Way. Too. Fast. I gave up after 15 minutes today. I'm not giving up for good, just for today. Technology and I are not friends. Talk about the most important election of our lifetime, or maybe any lifetime. I will not dwell on the RNC fiasco that is currently the news (sic). Not watching.
Just got a book from Powells bookstore in Portland. If you don't want to give Bezos any more $, buy independent. The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue. A nurse during the flu pandemic in the maternity ward....
Reading the 4th book in the Outlander series. I swear, it's soft porn mixed with history. Doesn't get better than that. I learned that the origin of a burning cross came from the Scottish highlands, nothing to do with terrorism and Black people. It was a way to signal the clans because, well, no cell phones in the 11th century.
May we all be safe and protected today. May Joe Biden be elected in November. Clark studies archangels-maybe Michael, the healer and leader against the forces of evil can help us.
I'm being nonsectarian here. Whatever can help us, ok?