Friday, June 29, 2007

Built To Last Till Time Itself Falls Tumbling From The Wall

This is an example how small jobs turn into major projects.

When we moved into this 1930's home, there was much to be done to bring it up to date. We did stuff to the inside living space and pretty much left the yard alone...until now.

We live on a street called Cleveland Terrace. Many of the houses were built into the side of the hill so they have terraced yards. Ours has 4-5 levels that we step up on to. Each terrace is nice and flat and roomy and kept up by various retaining walls.

One key wall was buckling, bowing, from the weight of the dirt pushing on it thru time and rain. The wall wasn't built very well in the first place.

So we thought it would be a good idea to repair it...simple plan.

Then we figured the terrace that was collapsing could have a nice deck with a spa pool overlooking the glorious view.

There would need to be some landscape and trees and new steps and lighting.

And why not replace the other decks while we are at it?

Let's remove a door that we never use on the house. Actually, other stairs might as well be redone.

The uppermost terrace, which we never use could be cleaned up and landscaped.

Kimberly could use a nice garden, or even a small greenhouse.

The lawn should be sodded after all the ripping up.
It took months just to get bids. One wall repair that could have waited years has become a big messed up yard in transition. The job should be done in a few weeks.

Of course, the spa pool is a little bigger and flashier that it should have been.

Just trying to live a simple life and attract guests.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Your Typical City Involved In A Typical Daydream

Wellington, New Zealand is a great place to go to lose the small town blues. Kimberly claims we were there at one time, but I don't recall. But there's a lot I don't recall.

To get there, we drive 10 minutes to the airport, no security check. 25 minute flight..10 minute cab...and we are in downtown Wellington. Easy peasey.

Wellington is the best big city in the country. Very much like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco..manageable population, good location. Southern tip of North Island.
Our reason for the hop was to see the Dahli Lama, but some of us were jonsing to do some big city shopping and the rest of us were in the market for bagels. Everyone went home happy.

I know it is a standard stand up comic bit to comment on shopping with your partner. There is not much funny about this when it is actually happening.

Kimberly was in the market for some new boots, the long stylish ones, not the tramping ones. OK, fine. How tough could that be? Honestly, there were dozens of shoe stores and thousands of different boots and by gum, some of us could not find what we were looking for. After a whole day of standing around women's shoe stores and some dresses- to- match- the- footwear shops, with no success, a meeting was held and parameters were widened. Now the heel could be higher and color could be varied.

Practically outside the meeting door, the perfect boots were found. They were the last and only pair and they fit like a glove. The following day, the matching gown was found as were dozens of bagels.

Wellington is great fun with little neighborhoods with lots of varied bars and restaurants, opera, theatre, concerts. We passed a shop that was selling party pills that promised to contain herbal highs or something like that. Right there on the sidewalk. I wanted to interview the shopkeeper, but he was on a break and closed up shop. There was a strip joint next to the Wellington Opera House.

It's not over till the fat lady whistles through her vagina.

Speaking of these things, there is a wonderful museum, Te Papa -

That reminded us of something in Balboa Park in San Diego. Very Modern, super architecture, marvelous displays and art. No Picasso or anything like that.

The Dahli Lama visit to New Zealand is covered in controversy. New Zealand has just entered into a trade agreement with China. They are a bear and we are a flea. The Lama is an enemy of the Chinese and so Helen Clark had to avoid greeting him to NZ. Very awkward and uncomfortable. Dahli just laughed it off like a little mischief maker.

He has a way of saying things that you already know and he says them in simple words. At the end it feels like new revolutionary knowledge.

He showed us what he kept in his "holy bag" that he always carries...toothpaste, spare glasses, bread for long plane rides, and a visor for the glare of the stage lights. He said the old visor had some ad on front and he didn't care, but somebody gave him a plain one. He didn't care what it said as long as it stopped the glare. The label on back said it was a "head gasket". About this, he laughed.

He laughed a lot and so did the audience. He just talked using no notes, but an interpreter who helped him with words. His actual topic was War and it made a lot of sense. Bottom line.. we could all be screwed.

I always wanted to be in a picture with the Dahli Lama, but the tickets said "no cameras". When we got to the venue, everyone had cameras and there was all sorts of snapping away activity.

Turns out the Dahli Lama plays golf. I met his caddy and this is what he told me...

"I jump ship in Hong Kong and make my way over to Tibet, and I get on as a looper at a course over in the Himalayas. A looper, you know, a caddy, a looper, a jock. So, I tell them I'm a pro jock, and who do you think they give me? The Dalai Lama, himself. Twelfth son of the Lama. The flowing robes, the grace, bald... striking. So, I'm on the first tee with him. I give him the driver. He hauls off and whacks one - big hitter, the Lama - long, into a ten-thousand foot crevasse, right at the base of this glacier.
Do you know what the Lama says? Gunga galunga... gunga, gunga-galunga. So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money, but when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness." So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sick Man Lookin' For The Doctor's Cure


Ever since I can remember, I have had problems in the nose department.
As a young nosie, it would bleed all the time. I remember it was a little embarrassing, so I would go into the bathroom and bleed into the sink until I fainted. After my mom found me on the floor for the umpteenth time, she decided to take me to have it cauterized. All I remember about that is some doctor sticking an glowing hot poker into my nostrils until I could smell flesh burning. There was a lot of crying and screaming and out of fear, my nose stopped bleeding for about 20 years.

Then it started all over again, and recalling the discomfort of a branding iron up my nose, I found other ways to handle it. I became my own Ferdie Pacheco, fight doctor, cut man for the bloody trunk. I always had ice and Petroleum jelly in my corner.. long cotton swabs too. I could stop bleeding in 30 seconds.
Additionally, each day, when I took my morning shower, I let the nose bleed until it got tired. Blood ran down the drain and reminded me of the shower scene in "Psycho".
Later, after much crying and screaming, Kimberly made me get it cauterized again. I will say this, medicine has come a long way from the Dark Ages of the '50's.... anesthesia prior to the hot poker....5 minutes...totally painless and 100% effective.
Check off the box on nosebleeds.

Now, mind you, I also have never been able to inhale through the nostril zone...never.
By my loving brother, Rick, was affectionately known as the "mouth breather".
In addition, not much in the way of a sense of smell and quite a bit of snoring. (Or so I am told.) The myriad attempts at curtailing that particular habit can be discussed at another time.

Apparently, I have a tremendous amount of blockage or congestion or allergic space dust packed in my sinuses that prevent air getting in. Who knew? I was born that way.
But about 7 years ago, my nose situation took a even more downward turn. Out of my usually dry and barren nasal cave came an outpouring of what professionals call "mucus". Phlegm. yellow proboscis pudding. Green gold. Texas Tea. Disgusting stuff to all who were forced to be in my presence, including me.

I went through a box of Kleenex a day and 2 on Sunday...because I could.

We couldn't figure out what was going on. at least 7 trips to the doctor resulted in 7 doses of antibiotics....


Then I went to a specialist who had me take an MRI. The doctor was completely excited when she got the film. She said I had the most blocked passageway in the history of the schnoz. She was drooling to operate and I agreed as long as insurance was paying.

So she went in with a miner's hat and a vacuum cleaner and sucked stuff out of me that was in there for years. I was reunited with a marble I lost in the 3rd grade...
She told us that I had a lot of polyps; she described them to be like grapes on a vine. She also said they would likely grow right back. This future regrowth was not mentioned in the pre-op conversation.

And grow back they did. I had the whole mucus thing again after a few months. This time it came with a phleghmish throat, so hacking and spitting were added to my desirability quotient.

More doctors, more antibiotics. With the coughing and snoring, Kimberly made me sleep in another room.
It was time to see a 2nd specialist.
This guy had me go through an allergy test, MRI and antibiotics, followed by a second surgery, which we were told would be temporary.

The doctor was right and everything came back. But now we were going to New Zealand and I would run out of that marvelous health insurance. The best I could do was irrigate my sinuses with a drug store water pump solution, which worked better that 2 surgeries. I highly recommend this product, even if you have a clear head.

Over here, the problems continued as usual and It became sensible to look for alternative medicine. Sceptical as I am, I was willing to go to a voodoo doctor if my nose would just drain like everyone else.

So we go to to Janine Taylor, homeopath. A homeopath does an interview instead of an exam. Luckily for everyone concerned, I got to keep my clothes on during the entire time.

She asked about my family, habits, dislikes, dreams and weird shit like that. After an hour and a half and $85NZ, she gave me the "remedy", which was a teeny, tiny little sugar pill that was dosed with a "thought" of sulphur, which is way less than a hint of sulphur. I placed the crumb of sugar under my tongue until it dissolved. I believe it was like taking LSD, if what I hear about those nutty trips is true.

Well, here's a flashback... by the time I got to the footpath outside the office, my nose was clear!!!!!

I stayed perfectly fine for 2 months and I had a bit of a relapse.

She gave me another remedy and I am good again. Total cost $125NZ ($95USD)

Why didn't my USA surgeons know about this?
Something is fishy about the American Health care system and now even I can smell it.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

May You Build A Ladder To The Stars

"I was mesmerized as I watched her that day, demonstrating a most precious lesson, that all of life is a celebration".

- Boaz Gabay, 2006

I have just been to the funeral of the woman alluded to above, Lyndell Rowan Gabay. These are the words of her husband, Boaz, spoken around a year ago at a ceremony where he and Lyndell renewed wedding vows, celebrated Lyndell's 40th birthday and planted a tree to commemorate the death of her newborn daughter 2o years ago.

I knew Lyndell only casually from our yoga center, but wish I'd known her longer.

As you know, I don't believe in the hereafter, but if there are angels here or there, Lyndell is what I would visualize them to embody. Her angelic looks,; the way she would float across the floor in class, and the 100's, no probably 1000's of lives she has touched make her rather ethereal. She was a nurse/midwife who has delivered heaps of babies and has had four herself.

It was last Sunday, June 3rd, I received a call at the yoga center after teaching my usual morning class. The studio owner informed me Lyndell had been found by her husband, gone, in her sleep. She just turned 41.

We held a candlelight silent yoga class that night for her. We all continued to attend classes throughout the week with heavy hearts, and as her favorite chants were played tearful eyes would catch you in the mirror asking, "Why?"

Again, I did not know her intimately, yet I was so shaken and affected by the response as the week progressed.

Lyndell was Buddhist. Plans were made to have her funeral at the beautiful Buddhist Meditation Center, Chandrakirti, near Nelson.

Where? When? My first Buddhist funeral... and all it implies.

Chandrakirti Meditation Center. I encourage you to check out this website.

Thursday morning I met several others to ride-share. As we started the trek a giant double rainbow appeared over Nelson Bay and sat right over the area we were headed. Lyndell was certainly with us. It was visible the entire drive and sat completely over the meditation center when we arrived. Eerie.

Hundreds of people filled the road walking to the Buddhist center. They carried flowers, food, and babies. A light rain fell. Very silent for such a large gathering I thought. Not much black worn either, in fact the opposite. Bright yellow, purple and green were prevalent. I wore purple. The center is spectacular. A huge altar greets you called a "Long Life Stupa", blessed by the Dalai Lama when he was in Nelson two years ago.

Great vistas of the countryside, my favorite was from an longdrop with a huge cut-out heart shaped window.

A smile just when I needed it.

Then a small hearse-like vehicle pulled up the road among the crowd and stopped. Boaz emerged with some family members/friends. Out of the back they withdrew Lyndell in what looked like a plain wooden casket, hand painted with all sorts of farewells and love, wishes for a wonderful next journey. It was open, filled with flowers.

She looked so small.

First to speak was Mani, the eldest child, age 20 . He spoke like an old soul, praising not only his mother's guidance and love, but Boaz, as well, his stepfather of 11years. I sat diectly behind Mani and the two other children, Che', his sister of 15, and Antonio, his brother, only 8 years old. Throughout this four hour service Mani stayed with them, holding tight, kissing them, sharing memories and tears, lots of tears.

Next up was her father. He did dare ask, "Why"? Through his tears he talked of his 86 year old mum, a midwife also and very close to Lyndell. In ill-health she couldn't be there but wrote some touching words. She couldn't understand why her beautiful angel had been taken when "my bags have been packed for years"!! Some much needed humor.

Lyndell's mother was present, a puddle of grief. I cannot even begin to know how a parent goes about burying a child. It just shouldn't be. I know the Buddhist belief is that nothing is permanent. This current physical body a temporary garment, beautiful, but temporary.

Many friends and family members proceeded to speak. They said how this last year was stellar for Lyndell in her midwife practice, her spiritual path, and her personal life. She had just returned from Nepal and was "changed". She had visited many meditation areas and written postcards/letters to many stating what she'd experienced. She felt truly enlightened. They said it was almost like she knew and was preparing for her next journey, preparing friends and family as well.

The Mosaic Choir sang a few hymns intermittently and then a dance group, friends/peers of Lyndells stepped up. They performed what I believe is the Tara Dance. WOW. It was powerful. In the background a woman was speaking words of power, wisdom and enlightenment as the dancers went through their motions. It was very tribal, almost bacchanalian. The tears dropped to the floor as they danced. I loved it.

Children, many birthed by Lyndell, just walking around freely, looking in the casket, grasping flowers from the altar, no worries mate. . No mums trying to hold them back. It was all so "Buddhist". A new mother walked up to the casket with her 2 day old infant, Patrick Rowan, named after Lyndell, kissed her good bye and briefly laid the baby down on her chest. Lyndell would have delivered him too.

Then Boaz took the floor. He was accompanied by his sister, who flew in from Israel, and didn't speak any English, it didn't matter, tears are universal. He could barely form a word through his sorrow. His angel, soul mate, love of his life, gone. He promised to hold the family together.

Next, a dear friend of Boaz & Lyndell sang "Forever Young". Great voice, played guitar. Doesn't this bring the house down in any situation? That did it for me.

The service closed with a Maori call "Karanga", to guide and support Lyndell on her new journey.

The family then carried Lyndell down to a residential home on the property where tons of food was brought in by everyone there. I saw the occasional monk floating about with shaved head and wearing red robes. We sat on the cool but sunny surroundings and ate. We said our good byes to Boaz.
I returned home with only one hour until I had to teach my usual Thursday night yoga class. It was an amazing day.

A friend of Lyndell's said "Your passion is a celebration of all that dwells in your heart and at the end, your dying a celebration of your living".

Carpe Diem