Saturday, September 28, 2013

Preserve Your Brain

A friend of mine has written a fine book that we can all use. Especially those of us on the high side of 50 and counting. Entitled "Preserve Your Brain", the book contains exercises we can do to keep our brain alert and active, probably even encourage the growth of new brain cells (which again, we can all use).

Ann has long been a teacher of yoga and tai chi, specializing in seniors, and has published many articles on the subject of health and mental well-being. She knows her stuff. The book encompasses simple exercises that anyone can do, some yoga, some stretches, the importance of smiling, mindful meditation, brain nutrition, and much more. I haven't fully read my copy yet but I have looked through it, tried a few suggestions, and look forward to sitting down for a good read in the near future.

The book is available on Amazon for a modest price, and I'd recommend it to all of you.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Full circle

Remember the various posts I made when this movie was being filmed here in town? When I arrived home on Tuesday, I saw that it's actually (finally!) playing at the West, which was featured in the film. I haven't gone to see it and probably won't -- they don't do matinees, and I don't do evenings. You can find all those previous posts below by just clicking on the Jayne Mansfield's Car label at the bottom.

Also found this on the camera, which I'd totally forgotten about. The bus from Jenner made a detour to the western side of Bodega Bay where the driver took a 10 minute break. It was so lovely -- but then, I'm always a sucker for boats and docks and marinas and such.

Saw my dermatologist yesterday -- I lost count (and he stopped counting aloud) at 20 zaps to my face alone. He moved on to my hands, but soon stopped, with only a cursory glance at the rest of my body, looking for obvious problems. I think he though I'd had enough -- and he was right. I usually get around 10 -- never anywhere near this many. And there were two that needed biopsy (and thus needles to deaden). So much fun.

It's on the chilly side here this morning -- down to 60. It's that time of year when it's silly to turn on heat in the morning because it'll be warm later on.  Brrrrr. It was this cold in Jenner most mornings, but I was in Polarfleece and other warm stuff.

Monday, September 16, 2013

A new experience

So here I sit, settled in at SFO for my very long wait until my flight departs at just before midnight. Civilized city that it is, they have free wi-fi, so I'm all set to be happy for awhile.

The security lanes were empty when I arrived, and since the place I want to have dinner is inside those lanes, I opted to come on in -- little did I know the excitement that awaited me! First, a young man politely said they needed to do a bag check on my backpack, and please meet him at the end of the conveyor when all my stuff was through. That done, it turns out that the machines detected symptoms of explosives in the bag. So I got to watch while he carefully took things out, swiped some paper through it then fed the paper back through a machine -- did that several times, in several areas of the bag, even swiped my smelly running shoes. Naturally, the found nothing -- I did tell them that I'd been in a redwood forest with mold and mildew and chemicals used to get rid of those things. Then, I got my 'massage'. A very nice woman did a full pat down -- I opted against the private area for this. My flip-flops and sweatshirt and computer bag all had to go back through the system. I was relaxed and having fun with it -- a new and different experience, and they were polite. I told them I had a long wait anyway and it didn't really matter whether I spent it there or further into the terminal -- I was not exactly in a hurry. In the end, I was cleared and now here I sit. Waiting, patiently for now -- but with another 7 hours to go, that may change.

Had a great day! Wonderful, if emotional and confusing, morning talks with Ayya, a nice wait for the bus alongside the Pacific, an interesting ride into Santa Rosa where my good friend Sylvia waited. I had no particular interest in hanging around Santa Rosa, so we headed to Sonoma where we had a great lunch at a wonderful restaurant on the square, called The Girl With the Fig, or something like that. Nice shaded outdoor patio, perfect weather, good food and even better companionship. Then, on to Napa where she dropped me at the Napa airport shuttle. This time we crossed the new Oakland Bay Bridge that just opened over Labor Day weekend -- that was really cool. Will be better once the old span is taken down, but they're working on it. The thing just floats -- just a low concrete barrier on the right side, with a series of tall white supports on the left, between the two sections of the bridge. Then short suspension points to the one tower. A cool experience.

So now I wait. When I get back to Atlanta, it'll be tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Happenings and changes

Greetings to all from the rainy, cool, misty redwoods -- weather which descended upon us yesterday and appears to want to hang around for awhile. No complaints (well, actually I'm whining a bit from wet shoes) because this is the norm. The wonderful, warm, sunny days of this past month have not been the norm, although they were much appreciated.

Including today, and Sunday (when I'll be gone most of the day), I have five more days here. And I've been here 4 weeks as of today. I'm so glad I came -- for so many reasons. I am so deeply honored and pleased to have Ayya Sobhana as a dear friend as well as mentor, and I'm glad to have been able to help her during this time, and to have such a wonderful opportunity to work and live closely with her on a daily basis. I had a friend visit for a few days and he commented over and over that 'this is not easy', meaning the general life here. And he's right. It's not easy and I didn't expect that it would be easy. Everything is in transition -- an outdoor kitchen under a canopy, the refrigerator around the corner, the pantry and ice box (literally) are across the way. The kutis are far from everything else so you don't want to forget something when you come down the hill of a morning. Or when you go back up the hill of an evening.

For the first 3 weeks or so none of this mattered to me -- I was happy and content and could see my life here easily and comfortably (more or less comfortably). I wanted to stay, intended to return. I'm not sure what made the difference, but for the past few days I've been dis-spirited, going through the motions, looking inside (not as deeply as I would like, but inside nevertheless), doing what I know to do, but somehow it's really not helping. Or, not helping enough, at any rate.

I'd already considered contacting the monastery in Austin to see if there was a chance I could still be useful there -- and then this morning a surprise email from them to see if I would be interested in returning there to teach English to foreign monks in a contemplative environment. Warm kuti, private bath, internet and electricity. Warm weather. Short walks to everything. And once the construction is completed, a good teaching atmosphere. It seems almost providential. And yes, it's something I will consider and consider closely.

Ayya, in her goodness and kindness, has helped to connect me with a woman in Sacramento who is actually going to come here and cook for her for a few days after I leave. I met her a few weeks back at the opening of the vihara in Santa Rosa. All that is background -- she and some friends from Sacramento are going to offer lunch dana to Pa Auk Sayadaw at his residence on Sunday, and Ayya suggested I go with them! The name may not mean much to most of you, but in the Theravadan Buddhist world, he is one of the greatest living teachers, also the teacher of my teacher, Sayalay Susila. There are no words to describe how much it means to me to sit in his presence, listen to his wisdom for just one time. He's old, and his health is not good, and even if that were not the case there may not be another time when I will be so near him and have an opportunity to meet him. So that's what I'll be doing on my last day in California.

About time to go start preparing lunch -- Ayya is still good and dear to me, weather notwithstanding, and she needs food (as do I).