Archive for November, 2012

The interruptions to life’s best laid plans never end!

November 27, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012


I’m telling you, having dogs (next to having kids) is the world’s best assertiveness-with-kindness training. In the time it took for me to do my morning ablutions, Honey and her black-wolf husband Nubio tore the stuffing out of my warm winter quilt while romping on my bed. The interruptions to life’s best laid plans never end!

Yesterday, after thoroughly enjoying myself at the Glen Muse Yuletide celebration, I felt fortified to spend the evening with my elders. Turns out my middle sister, the Boolie bully I lamented about in yesterday’s Post, was right. Our old parents do need more help.

When I managed to get my mom to unlock the door (by calling on my cell as I banged on the door) I stepped from the cold outdoors into a sauna. I’ve done home health care and end-of-life care off and on for almost fifty-years (since I was thirteen) and thermostats turned up to 100 degrees are a given for this job. Skeleton thin elders with poor circulation are always cold.

My dad was lying back bundled up in winter robe and wool socks in the special huge ugly sturdy $900 easy-chair my bully sister insisted on buying many months ago. Our parents were furious when she planted it in the center of the living room but now of course my dad dozes in it all day long.

The whole scene is like a European home frozen in time fifty years ago. The radio, turned to a classical music station, is fifty years old. If you open the kitchen cupboards you will find items like the flat wood silverware holder that came along with us on the ten-day boat trip from Holland to New York. My mom plays Dutch childhood songs on the piano for hours on end. There is no TV, no computer and they never check the answering machine Boolie bought them eons ago.

My mom always wants to know if I have a boyfriend. She laughed and perked up when I told her I had a date the other day with a very handsome man twenty years younger than me. My dad insisted he’d already eaten so I reheated a left over sweet potato for my mom, slathered it with raw organic butter to try to get some calories in her.

While she eats we banter back and forth about the ludicrousness of life. At one point her mind slipped and she asked if my dad was my father. “Well, ” I said, “if he isn’t, I advise you not to tell him!” She laughed so hard I got on a roll and asked her if she’d like me to take a paternity test. Our love for naughty jokes never ends!

I’ve resented her intrusion since the day she was born

November 27, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My first free Sunday in four weeks! After my yoga class I’m going to walk, walk, walk, and write, write, write. But first, I have to check on my old parents.

I made the mistake of answering the phone last night and got in a heated argument with my middle sister about our parent’s elder care. The stork delivered this interloper, nicknamed “Boolie” (pronounced “bully”) when I was two years-old. I’ve resented her intrusion since the day she was born. She thinks she is my superior in every way and delights in my failures as each of my fumbles proves she is right.

The sun is shining, the blazing red and yellow leaves on the trees outside my window are shimmering to the ground. The ever-present river bottom wind whispers in my ear, reminding me that all things on earth are transient and somehow I must extricate myself from the earthly messes I’ve created, whether they be present or past karma, possibly from lifetimes ago. Some say we choose our parents, our siblings, our whole life situation. . . that here on the wheel of life we are working out stuff from past reincarnations. Anything is possible —perhaps this lifetime all my past husbands are converging in Ojai to give me one last chance to be merciful and kind. . . I would launch into a long story on this but must clean the yoga room, feed my four leggeds and put on my yoga hat. For my students (who know me well and accept me as I am) I am almost always on my best behavior!


Nothing like a toothache to bring you to your knees

November 27, 2012

November 20th, 2012

There’s nothing like a toothache to bring you to your knees and stop you in your tracks!

A few days ago I was sitting in the parking lot at Ojai Community bank filling out a deposit slip, making plans for lunch and the rest of my life. I had just taught a great class, I was on top of my game, when all of a sudden all hell broke loose in my jaw. The pain was so bad I couldn’t move —I just sat there
breathing, waiting, hoping and praying the merciless agony would subside. I began to doubt I could even make it to the ATM or drive safely home. Tears were pouring down my cheeks. It hit me that this was the kind of acute pain that makes people want to drop the body and check out.

After the pain died down, I managed to do my banking and drive home. I made a dental appointment. Each time the pain came back I massaged my gums and rinsed with various natural potions to ease the agony. Thankfully all weekend I was pain free so long as I stayed away from anything too hot or too cold.

Today I went to see the man I love and worship above all others: my dentist. Tomorrow, the day before Thanksgiving, I’ll be getting a blessed root canal from one of his associates. For this I’m mighty thankful!

Ginger — the cat from hell, alive and well

November 16, 2012

Last night my daughter Monica found my old cat Ginger in the dryer — with the door closed. Ginger was deep asleep, buried in the warm towels and clothes, perfectly happy, having found the ideal quiet, cozy spot where no one will bother her, which is all she really wants from life.

When Monica lifted Ginger out of the dryer and brought her to me my heart turned over, as it hit me what could have happened had someone turned the dryer on with Ginger inside. The dryer is in the garage—we might not have heard the thump of her little body or cries for help.

I have to tell you that Ginger is the cat from hell. I got her at the Humane Society about a hundred years ago. She was in the cage (back then there was no Cat Room where cats can wander and play as they please) right next to the really sweet cat that I had picked out. But I felt sorry for Ginger, so scrawny, short -haired, not cute or adoptable looking. So, as an afterthought, out of the goodness of my heart, I asked if I could take her too. The Humane Society let me have Ginger for free and I’ve been paying the price ever since.

The first thing Ginger did upon arrival was chase off the other cat I adopted that day. I never saw that cat again and hoped it found a home with one of my neighbors. Until Ginger arrived on the scene I always had several cats. But each time someone brought me a stray, no matter if I kept the newcomer locked up in my bedroom to try to acclimate him or her to its new abode, sooner or later Ginger’s hissing and utter selfishness would drive the poor innocent off.

Until one day Monica told me that her friend’s cat had had kittens and now that they were weaned they were on the way to the Humane Society because the friend’s dad would not let her keep them. “Call her up, ” I said immediately. “We’ll take them!” An hour later the most beautiful, fluffy creatures arrived. We named them Princess Priscilla and Leo the Lion. Being kittens, they paid absolutely no mind to Ginger’s hissing and threatening flicks of her paw. They played all day and grew up to be fat, snuggly, long-haired cats. While Ginger sleeps alone in the most private quarters she can find, Leo and Priscilla sleep in my nice warm bed, like normal cats.

While writing this I heard a terrible hacking sound coming out of the bathroom. When I ran to check, I saw Ginger throwing up watery bile with grass and hairy clumps all over the fancy scales that an old boyfriend gave me during my menopausal years when he was worried about me gaining weight. After I wiped the mess up I noticed that some of the brown watery stuff had seeped inside the scales, floating under the glass, where the numbers are. I’ll try not to take it as a sign from God.

Last night I made a fatal error

November 11, 2012

Last night I made a fatal error. For the life of me I could not fall asleep. I usually hit the astral plane while reaching for the light switch but on this night I lay awake, waiting . . . waiting . . . but peaceful oblivion never came.

At 2 a.m. I wrote in my journal: “It’s no use, the muse won’t let me sleep.” Bleary-eyed, desperate, I got in the shower, hoping the luxury of hot water would beat the insomnia devil out of me. If only I did not have to get up early, walk dogs, feed cats, pack car, get dressed, look good, and go to my book signing in faraway Santa Paula to which probably nobody will come. Then I could have channeled my hyperactive mind into a story. But I feared that if I turned on the computer then I would be really doomed!

Then it dawned on me. At around 11 p.m. I thought I’d have a nice cup of hot tea. Everything looked so homey in the dim yellow bug light, cats snoozing on my pillows, Honey’s large black body sprawled in the center of the mattress, and Chico wrapped up in a wicker basket. A cup of tea would cap the scene. Why oh why didn’t I just hit the hay? Instead, without thinking, I drank a cup of Zhena’s coconut chai black gypsy tea. The label says, CAFFEINE MODERATE.

Realizing this, I stopped fighting, wrapped myself up in three yoga blankets like a mummy, and just lay there flat on my back like in Savasana, Corpse Pose, watching my breath. . . . and sometime, before the crack of dawn, slipped slowly into merciful sleep . . . .

Sunday is my day for sinning

November 5, 2012

Sunday is my day for sinning. First, I have to be good and clean my house and teach my yoga class. But after that the day is all mine. After I walk the dogs and hang upside down, my inner sloth takes over. I reheat some brown rice, gently fry some free-range chicken eggs, mix it all up with some soy sauce and gomacio, slice in a ripe avocado or add some vegan spread, divvy it up with the begging dogs, crash on my mattress with a dozen books, magazines and a journal that I pretend I’m going to write in. In this respect my Life has changed little since I was twelve-years old. When I die and my Life Review whizzes by, one of the most memorable Sundays will be the time I found myself at a bed & breakfast in San Diego with a movie star handsome doctor who offered me a tiny tab of Ecstacy before it was illegal. At first the nun in me said, “No, I don’t do drugs….” but somehow while waiting for breakfast to arrive I drank some juice and swallowed it. Pretty soon I felt like I was moving up a cosmic elevator, like in that biblical passage, “In my father’s house are many mansions. . . ” and the room, my whole body and consciousness entered the most heavenly place. That morning I shed my Pentecostal inhibitions and floated in a different kind of church. But above all else the thing that strikes me now as I do these Life Reviews while still alive, is that our consciousness is capable of inventing every imaginable illusion whether by mind-altering substances or all the subtle forms of indoctrination. . . .

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