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Out of nowhere El-D announced today that he is done being El-D. This is perfectly fine by me. Henceforth he will be called BeauJeau. Just thought you should know why there’s a new man in my life.

So anyway,  I somehow convinced BeauJeau to do an acroyoga class with me last night. Full disclosure: beer and wine were involved before hand – not a lot, but some, which probably had something to do his agreeability.

As a yoga teacher I feel it’s my duty to advise against drinking alcohol before practice. In other words, don’t try this at home kiddies!

Before we started with the acrobatics, we did passive partner work on the illiotibial band, which was quite enjoyable.  Relaxing on the mat and having my IT bands fondled was the best part of the class as far as I’m concerned.  Alas, the aggressively cheerful and energetic couple leading the class insisted we get off the mat and get to doing some balance work.

BeauJeau was the base, I was the flyer. I tried being his base at one point, but that didn’t work at all. I’m too little and he’s too big. He made a good foundation though.  At one point he lifted me up with his feet while I struck a flying superman pose. Then I did the same pose balanced in his hands. I was Jennifer Grey to his Patrick Swayze…

We saw the writing on the wall
And we felt this magical fantasy
Now with passion in our eyes
There’s no way we could disguise it secretly
So we take each others hand
‘Cause we seem to understand the urgency…

Yes I swear it’s the truth.

 


…or that could just be the alcohol talking.

At one point in class I partnered with the instructor who somehow sent me doing somersaults in the air before I fully understood what was happening.

In BeauJeau’s words, the experience was summed up as “learning to do cirque du soleil.”

In my words, “I think I may be too old for this.”

In the final analysis, it was ridiculous and fun and nobody got hurt…unless you count the aftermath of today’s sore muscles – his abs, my biceps. Overall, it was a physical study in body mechanics, and in power/surrender, cooperation, trust, balance, and boundaries.

Yoga is yummy in so many different ways.

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Grace Flow Yoga

Greetings Friends!

Naturally I’m all in favor of group exercise classes. The benefits are numerous. First off, they are a great way to meet new people who share your values (health, fitness, and fun!!) and who are likely to keep you motivated and inspired to meet your goals.  Practice time seems to go by a lot faster when you’re with a group.  Another advantage of group classes is consistency. Having a regularly scheduled class can help you develop a regular routine.  A third benefit is that instructors are generally trained to offer safe and effective exercise programming.  We take into consideration the need for warm-ups, cool-downs, focus on particular muscle groups, etc.  When we practice on our own, it’s human nature to skip poses that seem “boring” or to focus on our favorites.

All that said, sometimes we just have to practice on our own due to scheduling or logistics.  For that reason, I’ve compiled a few of…

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Dana of Zona Pellucida seduced me into making homemade sauerkraut recently.

It’s not entirely her fault.  The Angry Russian is also to blame.  To this day he raves about his dad’s homemade kraut, which was made in huge barrels with yellow apples.  When I started reading about candida, sugar,  the digestive system and probiotics, my kraut fate was sealed. I had to grow some bacteria myself.

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The other day I popped open the first jar. It bubbled and gurgled its fermented secrets at me.

It’s ALIVE!!!

I love having these sorts of mad-scientist moments with my food.  I’m pretty useless, even dangerous, when it comes to working the normal kitchen gadgetry (e.g., ovens, microwaves, knives, etc.), but I excel at stuff that takes days in dark places to transform (See Sprout it Out Loud for additional evidence of my culinary nerdiness).

So anyway, I shared a serving of the kraut with The Angry Russian. His rapt expression at first bite made all the trouble worth the while.  I have another jar still fermenting and I will definitely be making another batch.  Maybe with apples.

This past week I fell out of a chair and into a bucket.

There was nothing extraordinary going on at the time – like I wasn’t making an attempt to test the limits of physics or anything. I simply reached back to grab a piece of paper on a table. Next thing I know I’m half-sitting in a bucket with my back and head against the wall. There were onlookers present, of course: a preschooler and the graduate student I was “supervising” (Har!). Both stopped what they were doing to gawk at me. I continued to sit in the bucket while they continued to stare at me well past the time that was comfortable for any of us.

The preschooler was the first to point out matter-of-factly, “You fell out of that chair.”

“Yes, I did.” I said with a little half-giggle.

“Are you ok?” The graduate student asked.

“Yes.” I lied, while continuing to sit in the bucket.

Truth be told, it hurt and I wasn’t ready to move yet. Plus having them stare at me was awkward, so I grabbed the piece of paper I had been reaching for and pretended to read it from my bucket perch.

When it became clear that I wouldn’t be following the bucket trick with a spectacular encore, or any further commentary, my audience went back to what they had been doing.

Eventually I got up.

I’m mostly ok, though my back has felt a bit bojangled ever since the incident.  But I’m really proud of the bruise that is spreading in sunset-hued splendor across my outter thigh.  No joke, it’s fantastic–everyday a different color. Yesterday it was mostly black with a splattering of angry red. Today it’s a splotch of midnight purple fading to a bluish-yellow haze around the periphery.

When I roll on my left side at night, the bruise wakes me with a blare of pain, shocking me in the wee hours of the morning into a sensibility that I’m injured, that something significant happened, and that it is happening still as my body forces me to be more conscious, so it can heal itself.

It’s the sort of pain that’s almost pleasant.

 

 

 

berriesIn the garden I did no crime.

–Tori Amos

The raspberry bush has been sputtering out berries this summer and I’ve been racing the birds to get them.  It’s our relatively peaceful version of The Hunger Games. Victori spolia.

Did you know that the raspberry fruit is not a true berry? Neither did I until I read a report from Cornell Univeristy. The fruit is apparently an “aggregate of many individual drupelets” with each drupelet being “anatomically analogous to a cherry.”

Who knew?

My garden raspberries are different from the ones I buy at the store. They are sun-warmed, sweeter, and burstier.  Each of their drupelets is an explosion of sunlight, frogsong, and butterfly wings on the tongue. They have virtually no shelf life. Frogsongs fade fast when plucked from the earth; you must eat them while their echos still vibrate to taste the music.

Berries in general are highly perishable. There’s a significant loss of vitamin C and polyphenol antioxidants within just a couple days of harvest. So I’ve been inventing ways to infuse my cells with berry goodness as often as possible.  Here are just a few of my favorite berry treats.

july 20 2013 011

While they need no accompaniment, sometimes it’s fun to let them frolic with friends.  It’s really fun to sing along with Tori Amos’ Raspberry Swirl as I spin them around in a blender.  I toss in strawberries, a squeeze of lemon, a squirt of lime, and a splash of cranberry juice and grape juice.

This concotion makes yummy popsicles.  I call them Raspberry Zingers.

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Sometimes I throw in a little peach to a get different texture.  After filling the popsicle molds, I add a dallop of yogurt and a dash of milk to whatever is left in the blender to make a smoothie.

Fun fact: The phytonutrients in raspberries and strawberries have anti-inflammatory properties when consumed regularly (about three times a week).

Another fun way to get my berry bliss on and to make myself feel incredibly fancy in the process is with “spa water.”

july 20 2013 012

The idea is to send sliced fruit floating in water for hours to infuse the water with flavor. I’ve been experimenting with variations, but so far my favorite is sliced up strawberries, squished raspberries, cucumber, a little squirt of lime (or sometimes lime slices), and fresh mint.  This week the pineapple basil is making a spectacular comeback after the rain we’ve had, so I added a few leaves. It’s tasty!

Fun fact: Raspberries are rich in vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin K.  They also contain folate, vitamin E, and potassium.

It’s that time again…

yoga & Tea July 2013 Invite

You may pay what you can OR bring something(s) from their wish list:

Items for shelter:

 Umbrellas,  Batteries (All sizes), Flashlights, Pots and pans, Cooking/eating utensils, Tool set, Blankets, Towels (bath and face),       Twin sheet sets, Pillows, Twin mattress covers, Standard pillow covers, Dish towels, Dining room chairs, Microwave, Refrigerator, Chest freezer, Living room set (sofa, love seat and chair), Toilet tissue, Paper towels, Facial tissue, Dish washing liquid, Cleaning supplies, Bleach, Light bulbs, Laundry detergent, Irons

 Items for women:

Handbags, Wallets, Jewelry. Watches, Perfume, Gowns/pajamas, Slippers, Robes, Hosiery, Socks, New panties (all sizes especially plus sizes), New bras (all sizes especially plus sizes), Perm kits (African-American hair texture), Hair coloring, Feminine hygiene products, Journals, Day planners, Disposable cameras, Phone cards, Movies (VHS) for adults (Non-violent content), tooth paste, Bubble bath, *Subscription to Commercial Appeal 

Items for children:

Toys (for all ages), Books (for all ages) (English & Spanish Languages), Dolls, Cars and trucks, “Dress up” jewelry/clothing, Video games, Children’s videos (English & Spanish Languages), Footballs/basketballs, Portable cassette/compact disc players, Child seats (for the car), School uniforms, Backpacks, Diapers (all sizes), Baby wipes, New sippy cups/pacifiers/bottles, New children’s underwear (all sizes), New socks (all sizes), Slippers, Robes, Pajamas, Strollers, Potty Seats

Food Items:

Canned meat (tuna, salmon, etc.), Canned vegetables (corn, peas, etc.), Dry goods (beans, etc.), Sugar, Juice boxes

School Supplies

 Notebooks, Pencils, Crayons, Folders, Pencil Sharpeners, Pencil Box, Backpacks, White Loose leaf paper, Rulers, Dictionaries, Calculators, Lunchboxes, Small assignment notebooks.

commute

Old Commute

What a difference a year makes.

Last year I began taking steps to turn my work life into my life’s work. This was a subtle, but powerful and life-changing shift in perspective that was inspired by a number of awesome books I’d been reading and by a yoga teacher training course that totally rocked my world.

 While I enjoyed my work – professoring – my work life itself had become a major ordeal. Just getting to work seemed an epic struggle fraught with peril.

commute2

Old Commute Detours

commute5

Old Commute Floods

Old Commute Snow

Old Commute Snow

No doubt that peril was made greater by the crazy woman behind the wheel weilding a camera.

Really not my brightest moments on display there, folks. 😀

On a good day it took 2.5 hours just to get to work.  As you can see, there were many not-so-good days.  That commute was quite a drain on the resources (time, money, fossil fuels, etc.).  When I look back at those pictures I wonder: What was I thinking??

I think my logic was something like, If I’m working hard and struggling, I must be doing something worthwhile, right?

Hm…not necessarily so, sayeth my gurus.

One tells me repeatedly: “Keep the pose. Relax the grip. Take the struggle out of it. Good, now go apply that off the mat.”

It all gets easier when you learn how to relax.

My commute to work looks a lot different these days….

july9 2013 013

New Commute Detours

It’s about a one minute walk.

New commute flooding

New Commute Floods

New Commute Snow

New Commute Snow

I can make the commute stretch to about 15 or 20 minutes on a good day.

I can’t unsee it.

–El D

The Hungry Raptor

The Hungry Raptor

My beautiful mistress demanded another blood sacrifice this week.

Hiram, our only boy duck that had manners, was taken out by a hungry raptor.

I was headed to work when I met the brazen beast near my car  in the midst of his macabre meal.  At first sight I was so captivated by the hawk’s beauty and proximity that it was all I could see.  I didn’t process the life being extinguished beneath his talon. And then, all at once I did, as the flood of life’s drama rushed in – the hunger, the struggle, and the sacrifice of one life for another.

Sacrifice.  When I was a child, the word conjured terrifying Biblical images of a world that made no sense: Abraham binding his son Isaac, slaughtered lambs, and gruesome crucifixions.  Such interesting tales told to Sunday school children.

Over the years, my understanding of the concept has deepened. When I became a vegetarian I began practicing what the word meant in action: to surrender or give up, or permit injury or disadvantage to, for the sake of something else.” I gave up my taste for flesh so that another life might go on for awhile longer.

My current lesson comes in noun form, “the surrender or destruction of something prized or desirable for the sake of something considered as having a higher or more pressing claim.”

Within the linguistic roots of the word sacrifice is the word sacred.  That tangle of meanings is there for good reason.  The life and death of one thing is contained within the seed of another.  Everything must eventually give way for what comes next in Life’s yearning for itself.

This brings me to the topic of the Japanese beetles.  The scarabs are pretty; their shells are an iridescent mix of greens and golds.  However, they don’t belong here. These interlopers have been fornicating all over the roses and eating up the petals and leaves. Last season I came to the conclusion that while they’re pretty, they don’t smell nearly as good as the flowers,  so I poisoned them.  Then I questioned myself about the ethics of a vegetarian destryoing a happy bug’s life — and about poisoning the air, ground, and plants with hazardous chemicals.  Skattur suggested I pick the bugs off, pack them in a box, and ship them back to Japan.  I entertained this fantastic idea briefly, then I decided to pick them off and feed them to the ducks, who seem quite satisfied with this exotic delicacy.

The first harvest of the season comes at the heels of all this sacrificial obeisance.

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I managed to pick about a dozen blueberries before the bushes became just another elaborate system for feeding winged-things.

We have also managed to salvage some lettuce, radishes, and a few raspberries, which made a pretty salad.

july 7 2012 001

may 27 2013 026

True love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.

–Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Today I am thinking about water.

Throughout the rainy month of May we collected rain water in barrels for the flowers, vegetables, and ducks. Last summer I

flowers 025

just turned on the waterhose or sprinkler and went on about my air-conditioned business inside the house, usually forgetting I left the water running or  that I even had flowers.

With the rain barrels I have to physically walk the water around the yard to give each plant a drink. Oddly, this seems like less of a chore than turning on the water hose.  For one thing, it forces me to spend more time outside actually looking at the flowers and appreciating them.  It’s certainly friendlier than shooting at them from a distance with the hose’s handheld nozzle like they’re zombies I’m trying to keep at bay.

With the watering can it’s all intimate. We get upclose and personal; we talk.

We have had little rain this month.  The hot air is perfumed with sun-baked roses. The waterbarrels are empty.  When El-D suggested we start getting water from the pond for the garden I looked at him like he’d grown two heads.  Dude, that pond is WAY back there and our flowers and vegetables are WAY up here, and-and-AND we DO have running water!

But it made me stop to think….

What if we didn’t?

june 6 026

There are plenty of people who don’t.

Fortunately, I have people in my life who remind me on a regular basis to keep my over-priviledged head on straight, like my friend Amy, who is a teacher-from-the-heart.  Every year her school does a “World Tour” during which each class studies a country.  They make displays and put on performances to share what they learned. Her class studies Kenya every year.  This year they watched a video about the life of a young Maasai boy.  Her students are always struck by the fact that his mother and sisters have to walk every day to get water from the same water hole the animals use.

This year they decided to do something about it.
 
Their school is fundraising through Charity: Water to try to get clean water to developing countries. Their goal is to raise $1000 by July 29.  The link below shows the school’s progress to date.  There is also a video at the bottom of the page that will give you more information about the water crisis.
 
 
Please donate if you love water!
 
We’ll have a donations-based yoga class next Monday evening for all who want to contribute both to your health and to that of others.
 
yoga-waterforyoga

Sound or vibration is the most powerful force in the universe, and music is a divine art…

–Paramhansa Yogananda

~~@~~

The consciousness that went into composing music will come out through the listener.

I’m still contemplating the truth of that sentence, so feel free to respond with a dissenting opinion. From my understanding that is the basis of Nada yoga.

Music can heal. It can calm…agitate….energize. It can stir up all sorts of emotions and reactions.

El-D has pointed out that I play a lot of music in the minor scale in my evening yoga classes.  I didn’t set out to choose minor songs, it just happened when I was putting the songs together for a class I wanted to be relaxing and peaceful.

One of the yogis in Tuesday night’s class described it as “soothing.”  I think they’re best enjoyed in the dark with flickering candles. 🙂

Here are a few songs from the playlist:

And I can’t find a youtube with Kitka’s rendition of Otche Nash, but this song of theirs is somewhat along the same lines…

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