Archive for March, 2014

Upon the return of the old dog’s and fat cat’s family

March 25, 2014

Morning, March 24, 2014

Upon the return of the old dog’s and fat cat’s family, Honey, Chico, and I left the enchanted castle high in the hills near Oak View, with the grand view of Lake Casitas glistening in the distance. We’re now back for a few days in the cabin at the top of North Signal, watching the blazing sun burning through the fog as it rises.

I slept here last night to schmooze with Priscilla, who is boarding here until our move to downtown Ojai in April. Nothing like snuggling all night with a warm, purring cat tucked under your chin!

* * *

Evening, March 24, 2014

All is quiet here in the tiny cabin at the top of North Signal Street. Chico wrapped up in a yoga blanket, Priscilla cozy on the small bed, Honey stretched out on the floor so that I have to be careful not to step on her. A cold, dark, foggy night—not a star in sight . . .
* * *



The Universe works in mysterious ways

March 22, 2014
 If you think you’re enlightened, go back and visit your family! —Ram Das
March 20, 2014, Spring Equinox
The Universe works in mysterious ways, and somehow Honey, Chico, and I have landed in paradise. My new abode won’t be available till April, so in the meantime we’re housesitting a fat old cat and an eighteen-year-old dog who lives on mashed potatoes and turkey and sleeps most of the day in the luxurious bed of his loving mistress and obliging master.The house is a castle-like private yoga/silent meditation retreat, and I wander from room to room, practicing asanas in the spacious sunlit hallway or wherever I like. Or I flop on the comfortable dog-friendly couches, eating apples or Red Hot Blues organic chips and reading books like Female Buddhas, Feeding Your Demons, and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet. Honey and Chico wander freely under the oak trees and through the gardens, which are piled thick with years of nourishing leaves. In other words, we are in a heaven where we do whatever we like, whenever we like.
1956. A Diets-Vermeer family photo taken in Den Haag, Holland, a few months before destiny brought us to Ojai, California,  the land of sunshine and orange orchards

1956. A Diets-Vermeer family photo taken in Den Haag, Holland, a few months before destiny brought us to Ojai, California, the land of sunshine and orange orchards

Only a few days ago, Sunday eve to be exact, I was sitting in the parking lot of Rainbow Bridge after getting in the worst fight with my middle sister, wondering if I could survive two more weeks of living out of my storage unit and “couch surfing” with two dogs. It had been a long weekend of teaching, desk work, family socializing, and elder care for my parents. I’d been getting along so well with my parents and siblings that I decided to give spending ONE night with my mom and dad, in the home I grew up in, a shot. My younger sister, the bossy one, was visiting from Paso Robles to take our parents to doctor appointments the next two days. Since my dad won’t let my perfectly clean dogs in the house, I planned to sleep outside on the back porch so she could have the guest room (my old bedroom), as usual.I arrived tired and hungry at around 6 p.m. All I wanted to do was feed my dogs, collapse for awhile on the nice cool lawn, and watch the full moon rise.
As I unloaded my car and shooed the dogs away from the street and into the fenced yard, the thin figure of my sister moved swiftly toward me from the far end of the driveway. Even before she opened her mouth, I could see from her facial expression and angry body language that I had committed some terrible crime.
Before I explain further, you have to understand that my sister was for many years a teacher and supervisor at an institution. (I myself forgot this in the heat of the moment.) In a tense, authoritative voice, she started lecturing me about being totally disrespectful of my parents’ wishes and not having boundaries. I didn’t know what the hell she was talking about–I had gone out of my way the entire weekend to accommodate my parents’ needs. Suddenly forty years of yoga practice and self-understanding flew out the window as I felt my blood start to boil.
“Leave me alone!” I yelled.
And, just like old times, she wouldn’t leave me alone. Instead, she followed me into the backyard and kept hounding and berating me.And what, you ask, was my great infraction? Well, that afternoon I had done my old 90-year-old father the favor of picking up and delivering a friend that he wanted to visit with. The two of them were chatting away on the back porch when I suddenly noticed that my dogs didn’t have any water. It was hot, and not wanting to miss what the two gents were saying, I dashed into the kitchen to get some water. Not seeing any old dog dishes, without thinking I grabbed a bowl out of the sink, filled it quickly with water, and set it down in a corner near the dogs.When my sister noticed this, she went ballistic. That’s the sort of thing that also drives my dad nuts. If I want to risk their wrath, all I have to do is use HUMAN ONLY dishes for my dogs!

Suddenly all the pent-up anger about the disparity in my family burst to the surface. It took every ounce of my willpower, plus the fact that the neighbors could hear us yelling, not to slap my sister silly right across her self-righteous face. I wanted to pull her hair, twist her arm, and rip her clothes! The urge to strike out was so strong that I about gave myself a heart attack.

I grabbed my African basket filled with clothes and all my overnight stuff and called Honey and Chico, who had picked up on the bad vibes and were eager to jump back in the car and split. As I approached the gate, my sister was still right behind me, determined to have the last word. I turned around and let loose a flood of expletives that I didn’t know I had in me: “What the hell is wrong with you? Our dad is dying and you’re worried about an effing dish! For crying out loud, I’m your sister. You’re not the head of our parents’ private nursing home. I don’t WORK for you! LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE!”

I drove in the dark to Rainbow Bridge to think, write, and get something to eat. The moonlit beauty of the evening was lost on me. I sat in the parking lot with the windows rolled down, waiting for the night to cool off a bit so I could leave the dogs in the car while I ate. I hoped no one could tell how shook up I was and that I hadn’t had a shower in three days.

I felt much better after I ate a big bowl of butternut squash soup . . . if only I had eaten BEFORE going home, maybe I could have laughed off my sister’s tirade instead of feeling the urge to kill. I must have been really shook up, because I can’t even decipher what I scribbled in my notebook.

That night I sought refuge at the third-born sister’s house and slept in her bed. Luckily for me, she was out of town, or my dogs might not have been allowed to sleep inside.

If there is such a thing as reincarnation and family karma, I hope I’m learning whatever lessons this lifetime has in store. I don’t want to go through this again! Thankfully, for now I’m enjoying a welcome reprieve in this animal-friendly Garden of Eden.

* * *
Postscript: And the next day, as is often the case with families, it was as if nothing had happened. We sisters were all smiles, united in our concerns and our commitment to the in-home care of our parents.

— in Ojai, CA.


The coming of the March full moon

March 22, 2014
March 14, 2014
What a mysterious night it is! The clouds are giant ghosts flying through the moonlit sky. The eye of the moon appears and disappears—now bright, now hazy—almost invisible behind the moving clouds. It’s a night for breathing deep, slowing down, walking aimlessly, being invisible, hiding in the shadows, and absorbing the vast dark stillness here on the Shelf Road trail, at the foot of the mighty mountains . . . It’s time to attune to the coming of the full moon.

I’m shivering with happiness in the early-morning cold

March 22, 2014


Our lives fly by in the twinkling of an eye. Surely the great challenge of self-realization, liberation, illumination—whatever you want to call it—is facing the nature of the world we live in and not sleeping deeper in the soft bed of denial . . .


March 6, 2014
Still no internet at my new temporary digs but am over the moon to be on my daughter’s computer for a few hours. A used laptop arrived in the mail today–hope to get it going over the weekend!

March 7, 2014

It looks like I may have a new home in downtown Ojai, walking and bicycling distance from Sacred Space Studio, the Vegan Cafe, Rainbow Bridge, Farmer’s Market, concerts . . . all the art galleries . . . City Hall. It may take a few days for final confirmation . . . but the wheels are turning. . .
Update: Moving in April 3!
March 13, 2014
I’m shivering with happiness in the early-morning cold . . . marveling at all the unexpected twists and turns of these last six weeks.No matter how hard things get, I know that—compared to the miserable sealed fate of millions—mine is an easy life with plenty of resources to reinvent myself and realize my full potential.While I was at a low ebb, too tired and too broke to go out at night, feeling trapped, and with no Internet by which to share my musings, I kept my spirits up and the writing flame alive by reading memoirs and biographies. I started out with Life, by Keith Richards—such great freeing, liberating writing! Richards and his co-writer break all the writing “rules”!Next was Victor Frankl: A Life Worth Living, by high school teacher Anna S. Redsand. This biography was written for young adults, so even though the subject matter is deadly serious, intellectually it was an easy read. I learned how Viktor Frankl stepped back from his situation and analyzed the holocaust as a psychiatrist. From my perspective, the three main psychological stages of “adjustment,” “apathy,” and “liberation and recovery” that he describes during incarceration are also at play in various degrees as we aspire to survive the entire shock of life. And, the way I see it, if you don’t find life shocking, you’re asleep at the wheel!The next memoir is one that was given to me decades ago, and for some reason I salvaged it as I was putting the bulk of my books in storage: A Quiet Violence: View from a Bangladesh Village. If I needed a cosmic reminder of how fortunate I am, this book did the job!As I write in haste, the sun is rising, shining so brightly above the mountains that I can hardly see the computer screen, here in my little cabin on the hill.

Our lives fly by in the twinkling of an eye. Surely the great challenge of self-realization, liberation, illumination—whatever you want to call it—is facing the nature of the world we live in and not sleeping deeper in the soft bed of denial . . .

This is my first real post in six weeks . . . but suddenly it’s time to go.

When I wrote this I had no idea I’d be moving again in a few days . . .

March 22, 2014
February 25, 2014
Woke up this morning surrounded by a cold, foggy, wintry landscape –a welcome change here in hot Ojai. Now the sun is bursting through, intensely illuminating the fog, burning it away.For the first time since moving to higher ground three weeks ago, I feel like I’m settling in, not waking up wondering where I am. Today’s task: get a phone line and the Internet. (No Wi-Fi on this property.) These sporadic spurts on a friend’s computer (for which I’m thankful) can’t go on. I bought a fat notebook and new pens to keep the writing flame burning, but the time has come to hit the keyboard– even if it’s only with one finger!

(Something you might not know about me: I can’t type. Through the years I’ve tried and tried, but at the end of the day, it’s back to hitting the keys with only my right middle finger, and my thumb hitting the space bar. Took a course at Ventura College, and it seemed everyone else had magical, flying fingers . . . mine were frozen, confirming my worst fears.)

February 25, 2014

February 2014, Ojai Yoga Notes

March 22, 2014
46133_10152230754909703_660897958_nFebruary 17, 2014
First yoga practice inside my new hippie writing yoga pad, which is about the same amount of space as a “Tiny House.” With two dogs, a cat and her deluxe cat carrier, to make space for my yoga mat, I have to get Honey offthe floor–she gladly jumps on top of the bed. There’s just enough room to practice all the Standing Poses, including Half Moon Pose and Warrior III–the two Standing Poses that take the most space.While it’s true that you can practice yoga anywhere, anytime, I have to say again that it makes a huge difference motivating me to practice early in the morning now that I again have a bird’s eye view of the pre dawn sky above the majestic mountains, and, a little later, the blazing bright rising sun.

This morning, after the Standing Poses, I folded up my sticky mat to pad the edge of the seat of the chair, as shown here, and enjoyed a long stay in a Supported Backbend, including the variation shown here.

* * *
January 19, 2014
Time to practice on the great yoga chair. This photo, from my book, Yoga and the Wisdom of Menopause, was taken about 15 years ago. I’m no longer this slender, but, thankfully, my spine is still flexible and my mind is in a much better place.

— in Ojai, CA.

February 13, 2014—Our sweet dog Beau’s passing on the fullness of the moon

March 22, 2014

After I moved at the end of January, it turned out that my new temporary place did not have internet . . . I used a friend’s computer, always in haste, not enough time to write but occasionally managing a few quick Posts on my Writing Yoga page on Facebook. Now it’s March 20–21, Spring Equinox . . . I have a computer again . . . to get back in the swing of this blog will copy a few past Facebook Posts. . . .

Full Moon at the top of North Signal Street in Ojai

February 14, 2014
Hello, Full Moon, hellooo . . . as night comes and the full moon rises above the Ojai mountains, a welcome coolness descends on the Valley of the Moon . . . a blessed relief from the heat of the day . . . and all the things that happened this week in my personal life, especially the gentle and dignified passing of our noble dog Beau into the great unknown, is seen from a greater perspective. The radiant moon helps to settle the agitations of my mind, and the transitory, ever changing landscape of this lifetime drops into it’s rightful place.

The passing of our sweet dog Beau
February 12, 2014

We made an appointment to have our oldest dog, Beau, euthanized tomorrow morning, Thursday, February 13. The gentle, sensitive vet, Dr. Curt Lewis, who has helped many of our dogs to pass over, will come to the house. The difficult decision to do this has been in the works for many months.Beau came into our life on a rainy Thanksgiving Day in 1997 or 1998. My best guess is that he was around three to five years old–fully grown– an adult dog. He was found by a rescuer wandering the streets of Los Angeles. When he arrived he looked like a skeleton with a giant head–I had no idea he would fill out into a handsome, well-proportioned dog.At this time in my life I had two other dogs, several cats, chickens, and a potbellied pig named Rosie–so the first “test” was if he would get along with the other creatures.My first memory of Beau is what he did when he saw Rosie. He walked backwards about ten steps—keeping his eye on this strange huge black unknown snorting animal. It was obvious within about five minutes that Beau did not have a mean bone in him.

That first rainy night my then teenage daughter slept beside Beau on a futon by the fireplace. Rosie the pig also slept inside, nearby, on another futon, under a blanket . . . I remember it rained and rained, all night long. . . I’m sure he was grateful to be indoors, out of the wet and cold, his tummy full of Thanksgiving treats . . .

The next day, that first time we took him out in nature around the basin near Pratt trail, the other dogs and humans nimbly clambered up and down the boulders. We could see that Beau was a city dog, not used to jumping from rock to rock. He was afraid of slipping. He moved with great caution as he eyed what we were doing. So we waited for him–we encouraged him–and soon he found his “country legs” and was happily jumping from rock to rock . . . a far cry from the streets of LA!

Since I already had so many animals, I tried to get my youngest sister, who had three young daughters at the time, to adopt him. Beau looked so proud when the girls walked him on a leash. He was the perfect dog for a family with growing children . . . to this day he has never shown any sign of aggression, despite his rocky start in life.

Alas, Beau sheds huge, HUGE clumps of hair–and after a few days my sister returned him. You gotta be willing tolerate a dirty floor to adopt a dog that sheds . . .

These last several years we’ve referred to Beau as our “Elder Statesman.” As time went by and my living circumstances changed, he ended up living with my friend Sholom Joshua. Being a male dog, he bonded strongly with Sholom and his Jack Russel terrier, Trixie . . .

Beau became a mentor and Zen teacher to the high-spirited young Trixie. His ongoing approach to explaining Life to Trixie was to use silence and patience as they shared daily life adventures. Trixie knew she had lucked out having Beau as her mature friend and guide. She would look to Beau at frequent intervals –every twenty seconds or so–during every walk they took. It was obvious that she was checking with Beau to see how her Zen Guide reacted to the world at large.

Beau had this very endearing way of expressing approval –especially when a walk was imminent. He would laugh–a deep satisfied sound would come from his throat.

Beau is the most noble, gentle, easy going dog we’ve ever had—He exudes calm, poise, and wisdom . . .

I write this now, to help us prepare for the hour of transition . . .


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