Thursday, April 3, 2014

Naming What I See, Naming Time

And at
In my previous post, I mentioned developing a mindfulness practice of bringing awareness: to what I'm experiencing by naming it. Very often, naming equates to differentiation: what I am seeing is remarkable (i.e. I'm remarking upon it) because it is different from other things I see.
Within a couple hours of leaving the Bay Area yesterday, I got up into the high country and have been back in snows, above treeline, back down again and up again. Fascinating what a barometer the trees are. Or an altimeter--get too high up and they disappear. These scrubby silver-green shrubs give such a monochrome cast to the scenery. Much of the Nevada stretch of my journey yesterday and today looked like this; even more monochrome when more overcast. I passed a flock of sheep who all looked the same color as the shrubs around them.
Something else, though, that I sought to put a name to, was the quality of the sky.
 It looked like this in northern CA, in Mt. Shasta country, also. The "difference" is how the clouds stack three dimensionally, at the same not-very-great height but one behind the other, as if suspended above a stage set. It says big sky, broad mountains, the clouds like speech bubbles in between them.
 This is Bryce Canyon. Snow on red rock, labyrinth of the mind.
 The "natural bridge" blew me away, but this photograph doesn't do it justice.
Utah is one hour ahead of CA, NV--and AZ, since AZ, very sensibly, doesn't participate in the daylight savings nonsense. I got a late start this morning after driving too late last night, later than I had energy for, and when I crossed into UT and learned (smart phone!) that I'd "lost" an hour, I repined a little--even less time to do stuff. But with the next heartbeat, I decided not to consider it an hour lost. I'd been gaining and losing elevation for two days straight, but my ears could always pop. I, of all people, well know that time cannot be lost.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Overdue Update! Car Trouble, Seven Pictures, Knowing What You See

Also at 
I'm still alive, and I'm in Berkeley! I was offline for four days of the ferry from Haines to Bellingham, then some serious driving, some wonderful hospitality, and catching up with dear, dear friends whom I haven't seen in way too long. Interesting that when I was in England last fall, I found myself telling people it wouldn't be so long until the next time I saw them (it had been three years that time). And now in the Bay Area, I've been saying the same thing to my friends here. Conceptually, AZ feels so much closer to everything/everywhere. My car has come down with a bunch of fairly serious issues. I'm so glad I caught it yesterday and so grateful that my friends have a mechanic they trust who is taking care of the issues today. In my first post from the road, my lesson 2, in part, was not to over-worry about noises or smells my car may or may not have been emitting, so it's interesting that the rider to that lesson now is to follow intuition. When the road pavement was washboarded and it sounded like a blown-out tire, I was glad to recognize that there was no need to worry along those lines. On the other hand, taking my car to the mechanic this morning because "it might be nothing but it's a specific noise that happens in a specific context that wasn't happening until last night" may have averted a breakdown in the middle of nowhere.
I'm sitting here with the atlas and trying to figure out the best route from here to Bryce Canyon, where I want to stop on my way to Tucson, preparing my spirit for the next reach. 
In WA, OR, and CA the past four days have been full of torrential rain, with some thunder and lightning. Very different driving than in AK, very different flora. It was sweet to see my first palm tree a little ways north of Sacramento, my first prickly pears on the 405 west of Sacramento.
So much is different, of course. My conception of how many miles I can cover in a given time changes depending on the roads--the "220 miles = ca. 5 hours" based on Homer-to-Anchorage algorithm is gone. Stop-go traffic for over four hours in the Seattle area on Friday; three hundred miles in less than five hours on Saturday morning. 
Different, too, being in an area with fruit trees everywhere, and produce stores everywhere. I'm so habituated to there being maybe three places in town where produce is available, and that's all for about seventy miles. 

With all the friends I've visited, it's been as though no time had elapsed, although we hadn't seen each other for seven years. This gives me some hope and good feelings about preserving the precious friendships I just drove away from in AK. There is something so grounding about these enduring friendship connections: that they exist, that they continue even with nothing physical supporting them. As I pay attention to my own relationship with, orientation toward, connection with, the outside world, recently I've often become aware of being on autopilot; of looking at things and simply not knowing what I'm looking at. Without labeling, without judgment, I've been using my gift of language to put words, very very simple words, to what I'm seeing, using them as little mantras to bring myself to the present. Also, of understanding what I'm seeing to compare it to what I've seen elsewhere; to acknowledge and understand how one place differs from the next place. It is deepening my engagement with this transition, so that I'm inhabiting the place in which I currently am, rather than just blowing on through lost in my head.

Here are some pictures of what I've been seeing.
Snowy conifers from the boat:
 Snowclad mountains in the distance; snows receding in the foreground:
 Ketchikan--still in AK but a whole different climate. Mountain and ocean right there together--land at the dock and the road goes straight up. Some of the town hewn straight through native rock:
 Crocuses and buds in Ketchikan:
A standard view at an opening between two stores in Ketchikan's front. Many big generic touristy stores; many businesses closed; Ketchikan is bigger than Homer but evidently much more seasonal and dependent on the tourists on the summer cruise ships and ferries. There were a couple stores with the strident label "We are staffed by natives of Ketchikan and are open year round to serve our community," with a strong implication of all the negatives of these affirmations. Not everyone loves the tourists!
My camera didn't come out for those three days of driving and visiting. This is Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park, which I never visited when I lived there but is now the place where I reconnected with two lovely friends. 
And this is the view from my friends' porch. Oh, I spent so many hours here when I lived in Berkeley. Oh what dear friends, how good it is to see them!
More soon when I'm back on the road! And more awareness around seeing. I always hear what I'm hearing, so it's interesting to be paying more attention to seeing like this! Anyone else?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last Post from Alaska -- Eight Pictures, Five Anticipated Changes, Unifier of Friends

After another stunning drive, I reached Haines in the middle of yesterday, and this evening I'll be on the ferry bound for Bellingham and the Lower 48.
That ferry ride neatly bisects my trip, and I've been reflecting on some of the changes to expect.
 Change 1: I expect to exchange empty roads and very cold weather for increasingly warmer weather and more heavily trafficked roads. "Cold and empty roads" means one can pull over--gawk, breathe; pee, even--wherever one pleases.
At sites like Lake Dezadeash, just south of Haines Junction...
 Turning around and photographing from the same spot...
Cold means descending a stairwell of spruce back into the US, to a sudden cathedral of winter-bare cottonwoods.
 Just past the ferry terminal east of Haines is Lake Chilkoot. I hiked there yesterday afternoon, getting my final lungfuls of glacial air. The air was above freezing, but you can see how deep the snow is: check out that buried interpretive sign.
 This is the outflow from the lake--thaw underway; check out that straight and sheer drop of frozen waterfall.
Other changes involve how what gear I have on hand and how available it is.
Change 2: No more cleats and boots. Normally, my very heavy duty ice cleats live in the gutter of my driver-side door--sometimes I can't get out of the car without putting them on. I wouldn't have been able to hike without them yesterday.
Don't think I'm going to need them that handy anymore! Likewise the kneeboots I've been wearing all winter. My sneakers will probably come out come Bellingham!
Change 3: No more snow shovel and ice scraper! I have a small snow shovel and good-sized ice scraper in the back of the car, and even as loaded as it is now, those items are up at the top of the pile. Some repacking soon will disappear them, I think.

Change 4: Coats. Usually I wear my North Face down jacket with a heavy duty (and very high visibility!) fisherman's waterproof coat over the top of it. And a fleece vest underneath, and a sweater, a long-sleeve, and a T-shirt under that. The pocket-patting dance as I try to figure out where my keys/wallet/phone/notebook got slung is pure comedy, I'm sure. Now we're going for streamlined.
Likewise, my cooler up to this point has been for preventing apples and carrots from freezing (while trying to keep frozen peas frozen); onward, I suspect the cooler will reflect its name more accurately.

Change 5: Plethora. The flip side of being in a more densely populated area will be the plethora of offerings available. More high-speed Internet, more organic produce--more produce period; more cellphone coverage...More old friends too, although I'm going to miss so many friends in Homer and Anchorage.

That's the common thread. Dear friends here, dear friends there, dear friends wherever I go. As introvert as I am; as poor at expressing this appreciation, I am so thankful for the love by which I feel myself surrounded and protected and blessed on this journey.

Thank you.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

First Missive from the Road -- Five Pictures, Two Lessons, and a Soundtrack
Well, for heaven's sake! Here I am in Haines Junction, Yukon Territory, Canada. Just yesterday morning, I left Anchorage after some tender, delightful visits with dear friends there. I drove away feeling so loved and held, and I still feel a sense of closeness, despite having driven almost 700 miles since yesterday morning.

This adventure I'm currently undergoing/creating/being created by is a visual fiesta and an endless series of lessons and prompts. I'll use the two as framework for my travelers' tales going forward.

Picture 1: Homer, my last full day there (Tuesday morning) -- one of the biggest snows of the year.
By the end of that day, Homer was shiny with wet pavements and blazing with sunshine.

By the end of the next day in Anchorage, I had six fewer boxes in my car, and a much clearer view out the back. 
Lesson 1: Don't be tyrannized by the status quo!
I get inertia around status quo. I'll undergo inconveniences or do without things I need because they're not easily in reach but require some uncovering. And that's even when I'm at home! So I was proud of myself when the friend I stayed over with Wednesday night encouraged me to take my time the next morning--I had the whole day in town, after all, but she urged me not to feel pressure to leave when she left for work--and I took her up on it. I pulled most everything out of the car and repacked without the "get out for an appointment" time pressure of the previous morning. I'd already shed four boxes--things I was giving away/letting go--and was able to eliminate two more just by consolidating.
Not only did that make me feel safer with the improved visibility; it also demonstrated to me that repacking really isn't hard. I'll probably do it many more times in the next couple weeks!

Picture 2: My car gets the duct tape job, just in time for leaving Alaska!
Oh, duct tape. It's the cliche go-to solution for anything and everything, and the badge of honor for many a piece of venerable but stalwart equipment nursed along by Alaskan folks. Part of the pride of my car when I got it a year ago was that it was in such good shape. It was a self-esteem boost! Preparing for this journey included several timely repairs to the car's machinery. but I hadn't realized the rubber flanges on the passenger doors had worked loose. Normally, I don't open them very often. At the moment, I'm opening all the doors several times a day.
This is a safety issue, too. If those worked loose enough to start that whistling noise I would go crazy! Thankfully, the Subaru folks in town helped me tuck it all back, but what was I thinking? I was going on the road without any duct tape in my on-board toolkit! And I didn't want the flanges to work loose again. So, bright-red cold-weather duct tape it is. I taped the flanges on my break yesterday.

 Picture 3: turning around from picture 2, this is what I could see:
The roads yesterday were better than I could have prayed for. As were the skies. Glorious. Almost no ice on the road; sunny skies. Alders and willows by the sides of the road sleekly red, ready for spring. There was good warning every time the pavement was gravelly, and those patches were few. I saw maybe four cars coming toward me between Glenallen and Tok; only one other in my direction.

The Snowshoe Motel in Tok was comfortable and simple. A blessing to be able to unfold and unwind in a quiet, private space with the sunset warming the bed.. I was supposed to write a blog yesterday, but I hadn't realized how tired I'd be.

Lesson 2: It may not be me. It got very cold in Tok last night. Good job I pulled all my food indoors, but ironically, I turned the fridge too low so my carrots and fennel froze anyway. My poor car, struggling to start up with all its fluids so cold--I ran it for a good twenty minutes before setting off. A couple other motel guests were starting out too. Cars warming up when the air is barely above zero Fahrenheit (and had been colder yet before dawn) make odd groans and whines, and odd smells too, sometimes. I brought an armful out to my car and picked up a nasty burnt-oil odor. I can worry about my car, not being a skilled mechanic, and I had some moments of misgiving. But then a voice said, "It's probably not even you"--a liberating lesson one can also learn from the tears that come from onions, or the anxiety contractable from someone else's nailbiting.

Picture 4: the moment I thought I was driving into a blizzard:
The first 30 miles or so south of the Canadian border were gnarly--basically unpaved. As elsewhere, though, whenever the road was going to be bad, there was a good heads-up. The stretches of bad road were another reinforcement about flexing from status quo. I would get so used to driving a certain comfortable speed, but all of my stubbornness couldn't counter the obvious fact that I needed to slow way down. I hit a frost heave too fast at one point and almost went airborne. When the skies went from blue to blizzard, I acknowledged it had always been a possibility. But I drove out of it just as quickly as in; it was the mountain's snow shadow. Gratitude...

Picture 5: Kluane Lake. Just up the road from where I'm spending the night.
Soundtrack: I had a fantasy of driving away from Homer to the Monteverdi Vespers, whose opening gives me chills and tears every time I hear it, as do many other passages.
The opening is a solo baritone--"Deus, in adiutorium meum intende" (God, make haste to help me)--like a laser pointer of focus, one voice of all the hundreds in the several choirs and instrumental sections of the score, and at the end of his "intende" the full chorus, strings, organ, leaping trumpets break out with their first "Gloria!" 
Oh, and what an auspicious beginning to my journey: as I pulled away from the house, this prayer for God's help, and then the massed-voice "Gloria" broke out just as I rounded a bend in the road to find myself looking straight into brilliant sunrise.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

From "precious" to "previous," and triggers to epiphany

Still too:
If you're local and would like something of mine, knowing my tastes, contact me! I'll bet there's something I'd love to give you that you'd love to have.
Ah, dear Homer--raining and snowing at the same time! 
We've been spared so much of that this winter, but I think being forced to drive in deep, wet, heavy snow on slick pavement with high winds and lots of airborne slush has been great trip preparation, as well as good memory-building of quintessential Homer.

On Sunday night, I realized the time had come whereat I could either let things slide along and have a very very dramatic last forty-eight hours in Homer next week, or I could make some lists and schedule time and plot slots, and make a calm, self-assured exit. I'm pleased to say I made the latter decision--I didn't get out of bed on Monday morning until I'd made a few pages of lists. Boxes are being taped, packages consolidated, emptied, passed on, used up. There have been some lovely serendipities as I've sought new homes for things that have been precious to me (and now, through an easy typo, are previous to me) :)
If you're local and would like something of mine, knowing my tastes, contact me! I'll bet there's something I'd love to give you that you'd love to have.

An unexpected abundance: two minutes after taking this photo, I'd found another half dozen paperclips and two more rubber bands. I never have enough clips and bands--until now!
This darling garden will have to come down soon. Since I'll be driving through Canada to get to the ferry I don't think I'll be able to carry dirt, but I'm thinking of sprouting clover in a mesh bag.
 Did I even talk about my birthday in my previous blog post? That post was maybe a bit too abstract, wasn't it? ;)
My birthday, plus the need to consolidate all kinds of ingredients, was my opportunity to play with this, which is danger zone for me...
 ...and to re-verify that this is a far far far superior alternative for me.
Five photos, five triggers. In the last couple days, I've been having some massive epiphanies around my relationship with food.
The need to drive in challenging conditions, the need to pack up and clean house, the practice of making treats for others, for myself, and seeing whether/what the differences between these are, have been tremendously instrumental in these realizations, and I'm feeling so grateful for the learning opportunity.

Do you want to hear more? It's an opening up I'm considering for my writing. Big changes are happening, and simply the fact that I can verbalize any of it is exciting to me.
Big love--local folks please hit me up soon if you'd like something of mine; anyone anywhere, if you'd like a postcard from the road please send me your address and I'll send you one!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Three Graphics of Resonance

How am I going to separate from this other blog?

Since sharing with you the news of my upcoming move, I've been enjoying the challenge of staying anchored in the Now, when the Now itself contains components of being "here" and being "there," of being excited and being anxious, optimistic and hopeless, suffused with a feeling of abundance and contracted into fear of lack.

I've been thinking about resonance, congruence, synchronicity. It's as if different aspects of life have to catch up to one another, or take place at different speeds. It was my birthday on Friday, but I haven't yet caught the "new year" flavor of this, and my birthday this year was nine time zones away from the one I was born in--and yet those "new year/life" intentions and reflections have been regulars of late, birthday or not.

We are graphic equalizers!
In my case, body-mind has started to wear the reality of living in the hot desert but continues to dress for the weather here. The dial is sliding from one spot to another, ahead of or behind "now."
Body-mind is freaking out over having stopped losing weight (even though losing weight hadn't started out as a conscious goal) but body-mind also knows that losing weight had to stop--everything else hasn't yet caught up to that knowing.

One of the participants at Sean Hill's poetry workshop last weekend wrote a piece around the concept that we're always seeing what "just happened"--what's just on the verge of being in the past--because of the speed of light. The rest of us were captivated by the idea and the way she expressed it.

When I feel the awkwardness and freakout in my body, I think of her poem, and of the graphic equalizer image, and I tell myself my pieces and parts may not have caught up to one another, or that the emotional pain I'm feeling is a trace of something already past.

Meanwhile, I visualize myself a wheel rolling smoothly south and east down this continent come the end of the month. Here and now, I turn from one task to the next and imagine myself a piece of clay on a wheel being shaped into a vessel capable of giving and receiving in abundance.

I love the image of a wheel identifying the various aspects of whole health.
If these different spokes are at different sizes/settings, as on the graphic equalizer, then the wheel won't turn smoothly.
Which spokes are too short? Which might be too long? Too much attention on one aspect can shade toward obsessiveness and can take attention away from another aspect that needs it.
Do you agree with the elements included on this wheel? I think it's interesting that "nutrition" isn't on there as a thing unto itself--it comes under "physical." What else might be missing?

Sound and touch are so closely allied. I know when there's something wrong with my car, because it vibrates differently. I can hear it, and I can feel it. Any machinery, really--the whole house will tell you if the washing machine is unbalanced. If a neon light is on the fritz, I can hear it and feel it as well as see it, and I'd better get out of there fast! Are you the same way with neon lights?

Pendulum clocks in the same room come into rhythm with one another. Take two tuning forks of the same frequency, strike one of them, stand them both up, and both of them will sound--in unison.
When my behaviors are in harmony with my intentions, they both sound the same note, and that note is stronger, mutually reinforced.
Interesting that "spooning" is also a form of resonating energy. Should this tuning fork phenomenon be calls "forking"? Not sure "knifing" can fall in the same category.
Please share with me your thoughts of resonance and congruence in rest and in motion.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Also at How can I divide the labor of these two blogs??
I'm MOVING! That much is obvious from the previous post. And I was naughty--I put a teaser on Facebook about having booked passage on the ferry. But where, when?
The "why" is well known. Living in Alaska has been an unscheduled blessing of opportunity; not one this chilly willy would ever have sought out. I am deeply grateful, but I'm not one of those who came eagerly to Alaska and could never imagine being based anywhere else. My intention when this house-sitting opportunity came to me was that at the end of it, I'd have a destination "Outside."

I'm heading to this country:
The outskirts of Tucson, AZ!
Yay for Israel-like warm weather, gardens and permaculture, a good university, writers, friends--and a lovely couple whose land I'll be living on and whose gardens and heritage poultry birds I'll help out with.

When I bought my car a year ago, I had the fantasy that I would drive away from AK, take the ferry down the Inside Passage, and onward to my new place. Here I come!
When I bought the car--my biggest ever investment in myself aside from going to school--I was also very clear, on this blog and elsewhere, that having a "good" car, ten years old as opposed to a beater, was a declaration of intent to be safe and sound, not marginal, and that the car should symbolize my own bodily vehicle.
My car was at the mechanic's today, getting mileage-appropriate work done, being thoroughly checked over, even little details like replacing the battery in the door opener taken care of.
When my car runs low on gas, I fill it up as soon as I can.

Why is it so much harder to refuel myself?
Guys, it is much harder than gassing up a car. If you leave a car underfueled, as far as I know it'll simply run better once fueled appropriately. When you underfuel a body, the stomach produces less acid because there's less call for it, and the pancreas and intestines produce fewer enzymes. Less stomach acid means nasty things are more likely to survive into the intestines, so infections are more likely. Without the enzymes, digestion doesn't happen smoothly If you're purging by whatever means it increases the chance of inflammation, which leads to water retention and even more dilute acids, and it can appear as if you gained weight fasted so you freak out because your body doesn't seem to be following the laws of physics. On top of all this, you're stressed. And you're probably eating really bizarre concoctions because of what your brain says is okay to eat. So when you do eat, it hurts, it's exhausting, it often leads to pain/gas/bloat; it often seems like too much to deal with, it doesn't feel good, it leads to behaviors that are physically painful and feel out of control.

Yes. All of the above.  But if I tell you that my low energy in recent months may well be largely due to my frequently not making the effort to eat, or getting rid of what I did eat, you would probably say, as they say in Israel, "Good morning, Eliyahu!"
I'm ready and excited to move, and the road trip is an adventure I can't wait to share on this blog. I'm already contacting old friends I may drive by, already eagerly anticipating catching up with some dear ones I haven't seen in years. And I love my car, and my shiny new atlas, and my ferry ticket--but they won't get me there--I need to be fueled and strong and stable. I OWN this! The last week has been better.

Now, consider the gates open. I welcome all your road trip anecdotes, advice, warnings, tales, "never do this"s, suggestions on packing/planning/shipping/how to say farewell to beloved friends here and to Homer that has been such a kind home to me these past few years.