Archive for October, 2012

Full moon wake up call

October 30, 2012

Monday evening, October 29, 2012

The full moon is here. She woke me up at 4 a.m. and demanded that I look her in the eye. I threw on my cloak, stepped outside into the cold, and sat in the dark. All was quiet except for the soft back and forth hooting of two owls. The moon shone bright through the trees, but she felt cold and distant. My energy was not right. Too much outward activity catching up with me. I needed to withdraw from the world, rest deep in the Goddess Pose, and let go of my earthly concerns. Instead, I sat shivering on the floor, did my accounting, bumbled through my morning class, and flogged myself all the way home. Felt nauseous and negative. Had no choice but to postpone everything and take a healing nap. Then took wolves for a walk in the boonies. Sat on the ground, soaked up the sun, and waited for Mother Nature to do her magic. . . . Just now I went outside, looked up, and can feel the full moon energy smiling down. . . .

Am I my father’s daughter?

October 18, 2012

October 15, 2012

I had the most extraordinary epiphany today at my father’s 89th birthday celebration. We were sitting around the table eating an Indonesian fruit compote and other goodies—a lively gathering of family and friends, all of us laughing, reminiscing, talking all at once in Dutch, Indonesian, and English. Suddenly, out of the blue I heard a woman I hardly know, a close friend of my youngest sister (my dad’s favorite), call MY father “Dad.” Of all the nerve! She was sitting close to him, reading him a birthday card, and they were yukking it up like they were old pals—like they were father and daughter!

I felt so betrayed! Each time she called him “Dad,” an irrational,  uncontrollable pain shot through my heart and solar plexus. I realized it was the exact same raw, painful sensation I used to feel in my gut upon suspecting or discovering a boyfriend or husband had betrayed me in some way. Like someone sticking a knife in my stomach.

It was as if my psyche went back in time to when my dysfunctional relationship with men first began—to the core of the second-class-citizen relationship I have with my father. Growing up, I was afraid of him. Once, some years ago, he actually held me, cried, and apologized for being so hard on me.

But my dad’s religious fanaticism creates a gap between us. And now here was this strange woman from my sister’s church, who had evidently visited my dad many times before, kissing up to him and calling him “Dad,” every chance she got. And he was eating it up! All my father-daughter-man-woman neurosis was staring me in the face. I sat there paralyzed. There was nothing I could do but wait for that old familiar pain that has haunted me all my life to subside.

To ease the pain and appear normal, I reached for a chocolate cookie. I ate several, till the pain subsided. Then I regained my composure, chatted a bit about yoga with the Indonesian ladies, and even signed over a gift copy of one of my yoga books.

As I said my goodbyes, I thanked my father’s friends for their presents and for celebrating his life. I made nice with the woman who had the nerve to call my dad “Dad,” pondering her motives as I looked her in the eye. Then I grabbed my backpack, stepped outside into the sunlight and fresh air, and walked home to my tribe.

Now the night is pitch dark

October 17, 2012

Sunday night, October 14, 2012.

Now the night is pitch dark — no moon to light the way. I walk with a headlight around my neck; the dogs frolic in the dark. It’s October. Somewhere it’s snowing, but here we dance outdoors in summer clothes, buoyed by a warm wind. I am aware of these windows of time, too few and far between, where I shed all the roles I play and wander as a free spirit.

My mind flits to the happenings of the day. Late afternoon, before sunset, I rode my bike down rural Rice Road to see the art and home-in-progress of Eilam Byle and his wife Robin Goldstein Byle. Magical human beings who know how to turn a tear- down into a castle. His energy feels  Zen-hobbit-woodsman -like, relaxed, laid back. He described Robin as “having her foot on the pedal.” I can see that! Sounds like a match made in heaven.

I left early enough to watch the sunset, with time to visit my parents  before darkness fell. Tomorrow, October 15th, is my dad’s 89th birthday. The doctor declared his health is improving. He says he sleeps most of the time and has no pain.

Our days fly by like a fleeting dream. The characters I encounter come and go. My parents have been here forever — I know in my head that someday, when I knock on the door, their mortal bodies will be no more. But for now their presence helps anchor me to the earth.

What a beautiful, perfect day!

Daytripping in the Ojai Valley — by a lifelong resident

October 12, 2012

If I had nowhere to go in the world, I would come to Ojai. I would sit under the orange tree; it would shade me from the sun, and I could live on the fruit. —Jiddu Krishnamurti

When the editor of LA Yoga, Felicia Marie Tomasko, asked me to write an article about “daytripping in Ojai” for their October issue, my only concern was not straying too far beyond the 800 word count. While my idea of tripping in Ojai is a walkabout in the river bottom with my pack of dogs, or an early morning hike up Horn Canyon, I also enjoy roaming around downtown, especially with an out-of-town friend in tow. So here’s what I’d do if I had a day (a long day!) to trip north-south, east-west around the valley.

Ojai Valley, California’s Shangri-La

I have been blessed to live in the Ojai Valley for more than fifty years. My first home here was in the middle of an orange orchard in the East End of the valley, not far from where the world-renowned spiritual teacher Krishnamurti lived during the years of his talks under the oak trees.

It still feels magical to pick sweet, juicy oranges straight from the tree. When I wake up in the morning, the orange glow of the rising sun is reflected on the majestic mountains that surround the valley. At day’s end, the mountain peaks give off a glow in the evening light known as the Pink Moment. The intense, ever-changing beauty of Ojai makes an ideal setting for practicing yoga in solitude, out in nature, or with other yogis and yoginis at events like Lulu Bandha’s annual Ojai Yoga Crib (held in October) or at the studios themselves (Lulu Bandha’s, Sacred Space and 52 Weeks of Peace).

To read the rest:

LA Yoga magazine is available free at Rainbow Bridge, Farmer & the Cook, Soul Centered, yoga studios, coffee shops and other places all over Southern California.

My 45-year high school reunion—the Nordhoff Class of 1967

October 10, 2012

This past weekend was my 45-year high school reunion—the Nordhoff Class of 1967. I kick myself for missing the Friday night icebreaker at the Jester, but I was tired and all my adolescent neurosis and insecurity over not having the right thing to wear got the best of me. Besides, I told myself as I fell asleep, imagining my classmates laughing, drinking, partying, and having a good time without me, if I were dead, I wouldn’t be there either.

Saturday, after teaching, I made it to the Ya-Ya Sisterhood lunch at Suzanne’s. This was a tradition started by my friend Marcia Litoff. Sadly, Marcia was murdered about two years ago by her husband. I thought it was very touching, and respectful of her life, that two of her neighbors came to the reunion to represent her. For those of you not familiar with this tragedy, almost nine months passed from the time he killed her to the day the police were called to check on her. Her neighbor friends told us about the various plausible stories the husband told them to explain her absence. One of them recalled how she had felt sorry for him as he explained about their marital problems, and had given him a sympathetic hug.

Marcia would have wanted us to continue on with the fun and camaraderie of these annual luncheons, so in her honor we carried on. I was so myopic, shy, and introverted in my teen years that it still astounds me that I can now sit down with all these chatty, popular, cheerleader/homecoming princess/school mascot types and find things to yak about.

That evening I went to Boccali’s early, especially to catch up with classmates who had traveled long distances to be here. I sipped a glass of delicious organic red wine, soaked up the early evening ambiance and the amazing total unbelievableness that all these aging people gathering around were my old Ojai tribe.

Our lives pass in a flash . . . and you can imagine all the flashbacks. I mingled with older men that I first met in 1957, in second grade at San Antonio School. They now have their fathers’ faces. But I remember their sweaty boyhood faces, their crew cuts, their brown bags or Walt Disney lunch boxes—and whether their sandwiches were made with white or brown bread.

I admit that the first few decades they held these reunions I didn’t even think of going. The whole idea of reuniting with folks I felt I had, for the most part, nothing in common with filled me with dread. But now all those high school cliques have long disappeared and we are all in the same mortal boat. We talked about classmates who have died and the ones who couldn’t make it due to serious health struggles. We avoided politics and religion, and found common ground in the human condition.

For a while I sat at a table with all women, and soon the subject turned to husbands and dating. I had spotted several nice-looking men with friendly personalities. One of them came over to our table with a bouquet of flowers—for his wife. “I need to score some points,” he said as he leaned into our group.

Later I overheard one woman candidly confess that she was husband hunting. Her last husband had died a few years ago, and “I’ve been looking for a new one ever since,” she said. “It’s embarrassing, really,” she joked, “but I’m always looking!” She confided that she goes to online dating sites, and shared a few of her romantic adventures: “I knew it wasn’t going anywhere, but we were having fun . . . he was just looking for dinner dates with ‘happy endings’. . . six months later he went back to his old girlfriend.”

When I heard that, my ears perked up. I looked her in the eye and said, “You have to read my new book! I’ve been looking for you! You are my target audience!” I told her I was a writer and that I had the perfect present for her. I went to my car and got her a copy of Fishing on Facebook. When she saw the subtitle, A Writing Yoga Memoir, her face lit up, and she laughed and told me she was taking a memoir writing class. “This will encourage me!” she said.

I discovered that the gal sitting next to me had also had a baby in the year following graduation. As soon as I heard that, we were instant bosom buddies on a roll, comparing notes on sex, drugs, single motherhood, and how all those hours in the classroom (in spite of scandals like the teacher who got one of our classmates pregnant) did nothing to prepare us for the shock of Real Life.

We laughed about how we were honor students who ended up cleaning people’s houses. I told her how I had worked as a night janitor at the Thacher School. Turns out she was a housekeeper for Francis Ford Coppola, and didn’t recognize Michael Caine when he came to the door. (She went back to school after that job and got a late-life degree.)

Sipping a second glass of wine and eating the yummy Boccali’s garden veggies, pasta, pizza, and strawberry shortcake, we agreed that the most important thing to realize is this: no matter how we look on the outside—whether rich and famous or a homeless failure by society’s standards—deep inside, in our core, we are all the same.

The river bottom at the crack of dawn

October 4, 2012

At dawn the river bottom looks cold, dark, foreboding, like a bog—the moon shining ominous above. I leash Chico in case there are coyotes, wild beasts lurking. Set my  jar of carrot, cucumber, and apple juice on a high boulder and then get mad at Honey as she takes a flying leap to the top and almost knocks over my precious juice.

A half hour later the landscape is lit up, the light moon circle fading and floating away in the blue sky above. The river bottom is like a valley unto itself, surrounded by layers of low and high mountains. When I look around upside down, the sky looks like a frothy white-wave ocean, the white moon sinking to the bottom.

Out here in nature, Nubio, the black neighbor dog, looks more and more wolf-like. He is so calm compared to Honey, who never stops moving till she collapses from exhaustion, tongue hanging out, anxious to recover so she can run some more. We wander deep into the cracked black-grey creek bed, clambering over stones. I find a boulder to sit on—if I sit on the ground the dogs will lick my glasses and think it’s time to play. After a while the dogs settle down, my view of the landscape shifts, and I notice more details of each individual plant. I see that I’m sitting in the midst of a cluster of cattails, the fuzzy brown tips not much darker than the sunburnt stalks.

On the way home, the somber dark landscape that greeted me is now totally transformed. There is a sunlit clearing that just beckons you to dance. . .

A hot October Day in Ojai

October 2, 2012

6:30 am, and it’s barely light in the river bottom as the dogs and I head out. The white circle of the moon still bright, taking her sweet time to disappear. Already the wind is warm with the promise of a smoldering day. But in the shade there are still pockets of coolness. The landscape looks soft green and blue, reflecting the gold light of the sun before I can see her emerge from behind the mountains. Right now the heat is gentle, not yet an inferno. I wonder if the animals found water in the night. When I turn to head home the landscape shimmers gold. A hot October day in the Valley of the Moon.

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