Tuesday, September 30, 2008


After autumn equinox, the light becomes precious. Part of that has to do with the alarming reality of the incredible shrinking days. Another piece - at least for me - is about the quality of light at this time of year.

Brother Sun shines pure gold from equinox until Halloween in this corner of the landscape. That color enhances everything about the season. The turning leaves, deep blue sky, the river and all our super white monuments, are all illuminated by the gold light, made radiant and graceful, like a pre-Raphaelite painting. Our city couldn't be more gorgeous.

Sometimes I wish there was some way to capture a little bit of autumnal light, put it in a bottle and save it for one of the dark days right around winter solstice.

Except ... winter solstice is about paper thin, silvery white sunlight. Scarce as daylight is at that time of year, it's exquisitely beautiful. Gold light in winter would be, well, weird.

And anyway this autumnal gold can't be captured, not even digitally (though lord knows every year I try). If I want to enjoy the seasonal light, I've got to get out into it as much as possible, drink it in while it lasts. I'll be able to catch a few rays today, a great gift. (Yes I dropped an atomic bomb of antibiotics into my system yesterday, with enthusiasm, I might add. Yes they leave a strange taste in the mouth and make me queasy, yes. But compared to pneumonia, which is what I have, they're wonderful. Thank God for antibiotics.)

Thank God for the gold light of autumn. Amen, Brother Sun! Amen.

Monday, September 29, 2008

L'shana tova, ya'll


the birthday of adam

the innocent earthling
and the day hagar and ishmael

found water in the desert
in memory of whom

mud staining our shoes

water flowing in handfuls
we sniff the smell of living dying things
reach into our pockets

for the bread that represents our sins, toss it in, praying release 
us, help us,
forgive us

the river answers

by swallowing our crumbs
do our prayers travel upward

do they defy gravity

like rain splashed on the windshield

of a car speeding through storm
in ten days we will go hungrier

pray harder

---Alicia Ostriker

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sick of Being Sick

My foot was recovered enough to walk Jake around the block this morning. It was miraculous! There's a world out there of people, birds, dogs, trees, and tropical moisture, a la Hurricane Kyle. WOW!! I felt like I'd just been released from jail.

But I'm still suffering from the cold from hell. Can't kick it no matter what I try - Chinese tea, homeopathics, chicken soup, extended rest - nothing is working. I'm superstitious enough to have hoped that when the moon turned last night, suddenly I would be on the mend. Even the moon can't fix this one, apparently.

Tomorrow or Tuesday, I'm going over to the dark side - I'm going to get a prescription for antibiotics. It's a big deal for me. I can't remember taking an antibiotic since I had my wisdom teeth removed at age 21, which means the last time I took them, the Sufi acupuncturist had not yet been born. Wow.

I keep reading about the impact of flu on "the elderly." Am I elderly? Yikes.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul is Dead

Paul Newman? Dead?? OK ... he was old enough to die, definitely. And he was sick, and had stopped acting because his memory was fading. I shouldn't be surprised, but, well, Paul Newman has been an integral part of my cultural context, making movies and being a really good guy (and a beautiful guy, too) all my life. It's shocking, even though it shouldn't be.

He was always one of my favorites. I felt a kinship because he was an Aquarius (so is his wife Joanne Woodward). I loved his stable and long-lived marriage. Loved his salad dressing and fig newtons, and the fact that he gave so much money to institutions that needed it.

Here's a true story. I had a friend who, on a hot summer day in NYC, bumped into a man who was coming out of a corner grocery. She was in a bad mood, hot, and a bad-ass New Yorker, so she of course cursed the guy. "F you!" He looked at her for a second, then said, "You know what? F YOU!" There proceeded a perfect New York exchange of "Oh yeah? Well, F your mother" "F your father", etc. etc.

At some point in this exchange my friend realized the guy was Paul Newman! (Working on a film set in the Bronx). But being a New Yorker, she had to keep going, at least for a little while. Finally the exchange wound itself down. She marched off proudly, and never forgot that day.

Paul? You lived well. In a way you had a perfect life. You're now one of the Mighty Dead, it's hard to believe, but it's true. Rest easy out there beyond the veil! We will miss you. Hail and farewell!

Friday, September 26, 2008


When it rains, it pours. Oy vey. I'm just about recovered from the Cold from Hell, a good thing, yes? Then why oh why did I lose my balance and slip on the stairs? I've come up and down those stairs literally thousands of times in the past seven years, sometimes after too much wine. Never slipped before. Shook me up, but I was OK. An hour later, why did Tonka (the biggest household dog) rear up enthusiastically and come down hard on my right foot? Why?

OK, well, he was feeling enthusiastic about going out for a walk, and my foot was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The question "why" is more about me waving my fist at the sky. You know.

So I'm grounded again, at least for awhile. No long walks, not even any short walks until I figure out how seriously I'm hurt. In the meantime, ice packs, warm soaks in epsom salts, arnica gel, Reiki (from myself as from friends).

I'm batting minus a thousand this week in the realm of physical health. Wish me well? Thanks.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Less is More

One of the most profound truths in modern science is that the fundamental reality of the universe is nothingness. There's the nothingness of space, the nothingness between the atoms in a molecule, the nothingness at the subatomic level. There is some stuff, of course, but not much.

A profound spiritual truth in many traditions is the belief that divine reality, a.k.a. God, is completely without form, cannot be seen or known or even described. What we Jews like to think is that any attempt to describe God can only tell us what He isn't. He is everything and nothing (which might account for why God is depicted in the Bible as such a psychopath, one second loving and generous, the next minute raging and smiting. Current translations of the Bible leave much to be desired, if you ask me.)

I've been thinking about how prayer works here in our reality where everything is shaped, where our bodies, homes, cities and landscapes all seem solid as rocks. Our ideas, too, find congealed forms within the "solid" domes of our craniums. Oh, we humans are such great sculptors on so many levels.

What do people pray for? We ask for help, for guidance. We pray that people who are sick will recover, for the safety and happiness of the people we love. What I'm wondering is, are we asking God to undo the illness, to remove our loved ones from dangerous situations, to open the hearts of our near and dear ones so that unhappiness can melt and evaporate? I'm thinking when we pray we are usually asking for the miracle of undoing.

Of course sometimes we pray for a new bicycle or a puppy (though mostly not after the age of eight) and I'm not saying those prayers don't work. It seems to me, though, that we're overcapable of bringing more stuff into our lives. We're great at shaping the world and our minds, too great if you ask me. We don't really need divine help with any of that.

It's the undoing that's so hard for us. Isn't that why so many spiritual paths include meditation as part of their practices? It gives us a chance to experiment with having an unformed mind. Even a glimpse of quiet mind/quiet heart is miraculous - that's why so many of us sit down to meditate every day. It brings us closer to the unformed reality of the divine, gives us a glimpse of true liberation.

I don't know what's going on in the U.S. at the moment. Our stuttering monkey of a lame duck president threatened us with a great depression by next Monday if we're unwilling to pay off the bankers who are responsible for the financial mess we're now facing. Shame on him! Comparing what's going on to 9/11? What a bully ... oh, and no offense to monkeys intended.

While I was meditating this morning it came to me that this crisis, though chaotic and horrible for those of us who don't have money or means to do anything about it, is in its own way a divine blessing of undoing. Empires rise and empires fall. They always have. Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.

May the people with funky mortgages find the resources and guidance and strength they need to get through this next period of time. May we see through the tactics of fear, may we remain calm, may our minds stay open to all possibilities. We can make this mess worse - we're good at that. God? Will you help us let go? Please? Thanks for listening! Amen.

The Financial Crisis for Dummies. If you have 40 minutes, give a listen. Incredibly clear and understandable. And very sad.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Importance of Taking Time

I have a client with lumbar disc troubles. She sees a physical therapist once a week, has a therapeutic massage every other week, dutifully goes to yoga and also dutifully goes to work every day in spite of the incredible pain she's in.

When her little dog developed disc problems, the vet said "Restrict his movement, let him rest until it heals." My client said, "Why does my dog get to rest but I have to keep working?"

She makes a good point. Once upon a time, taking time to recover from illness and injury was emphasized. Folks who had money would take months to rest and recover, but not any more. These days the only thing that matters is how fast we can get back to our routines. I find this so bizarre. And we wonder why there are so many immune system problems in our population. For heaven's sake.

Speaking of systemic disfunctions, I have awakened from my Alice in Wonderland cold to the news that our financial system has collapsed. The Washington Post headline this morning says Congress "balks" in the face of a $700 billion bailout that Paulson and GW Bush say is urgent.

Balks? From what I've seen on the news, members of Congress are asking a lot of questions, trying to understand what's going on and what needs to be done. I remember how quick they were to send the U.S. to war after 9/11, a Very Big Mistake. I'm so glad they're taking a little bit of time to think about this before going ahead. It's a crisis like nothing that has ever happened. It's important to take time to ask questions and consider carefully before moving ahead.

The client with the disc problems works for Congress. No chance she'll have any time this week (and for many weeks) for physical therapy, massage, or yoga. She, like many hundreds of others, will be working day and night, trying to figure out how best to address what's happening. Her lumbar spine will come out the worse for it all, needless to say.

I wish my client and all her colleagues the best of luck in navigating their way through this. May the force be with them!

THANKS to my sister Deborah for pointing me towards NPR's Fresh Air interview from Tuesday. Thank God for my sister and for Terri Gross! It's the Financial Crisis for Dummies, a.k.a. privatizing gains, socializing loss! YIKES!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

It Was a Bad Cold

My molecular structure feels enlarged, like tinkertoys. My body has no substance other than the large molecules, yet I am heavy as lead. I can feel the hard knobs of my tinkertoy molecules pressing into the bed at my ankle, knee, hip. My blood is a thick, dark river barely churning. My head is huge, maybe as big as planet Earth while my feet and hands are very tiny, and seem to be quite a distance away.

When I finally worked up the nerve to open my eyes, everything looked green and orange, which is my signal to gather together my tinkertoy structure and take an aspirin. I so rarely take fever reducers, but yesterday was the day to do it. Two minutes after swallowing the aspirin, my fever broke. Instead of being very hot and dry, suddenly I was hot and sweaty, always a good sign. A half hour later, I could feel, as Steve at Shadows and Light says, my blood thinning out, bringing relief to every corner of my being. Really aspirin is a miracle drug!

A nice shower and decent night's sleep have left me more or less on the road to recovery, thank God. The world has returned to full spectrum color, doesn't look wavy or distorted, and my molecules have shrunk back to their usual size. Whew!

Thanks to all for your get well wishes. I believe your good thoughts really helped! I love my blog kin.

Note to self: Bottle of aspirin expired in May of 2007, must replace.

Sunday, September 21, 2008


It's a beautiful early autumn day out there. I can see the lovely blue sky and wispy clouds from my window. The air feels soft yet cool, a gentle breeze moves the leaves around just enough to create the softest shhhhhhh. It's beautiful ... and ... distorted, as if I were looking through very old, super wavy glass.

I should be working today, but I'm not. As it turns out the alleged rag-tag virus turned out to be a virulent supervillain of a virus that has brought me to my knees.



Ah - CHOO!!

Friday, September 19, 2008

When will I ever learn?

When I knew nothing about astrology, I didn't believe in it and looked with disdain on anyone who saw the value of interpreting the position of planets and stars. Then I started studying and ... voila ... I began to see its artfulness and wisdom. I've been studying astrology now for decades, and though it's still mysterious to me how it works, I know enough to say without a doubt it does work.

Once upon a time, I was very skeptical about Chinese medicine. I knew it worked, but I used to dismiss it as a possibility for me because I was afraid of the needles and too prissy to drink the teas - or so I told myself. Then into my life came the Sufi acupuncturist. Now I think everyone on the planet should go see him.

The newly converted are always the most obnoxious.

Even as recently as a few years ago I made fun of anyone who believed that quartz crystals could be healing. Ahem ... now that I've been working with crystals for awhile, I see why they're renowned for their cleansing and healing properties. Yesterday afternoon, just for the hell of it, I placed a crystal on my neck while I lay down for a nap. When I woke up, the slightly scratchy throat had completely recovered itself. I'm not lying or exaggerating or making it up. I have a friend who had the same experience recently with a crystal.

When oh when will I ever learn that I'm in no position to judge that about which I'm completely ignorant?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Mission Accomplished??

Isn't that what Dubya said a few years ago about the war in Iraq? Ah was I ever optimistic about victory over this cold virus within 24 hours. Oh yeah, I'm recovering, but not at the speed with which I had hoped.

My health is so awesomely good, I have no right to complain. So many people I know are struggling with serious, even life-threatening illnesses. I am such a wimp.

Meanwhile that moon, that MOON, even though clearly no longer full, is still kicking my ass emotionally and spiritually. It was hanging pretty high in the sky this morning when I went out with the dog, super bright white and In My Face. OK dear Luna, OK. I surrender to your omnipotence. Now can you cut me some slack, puh-lease???

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Predict Victory

Bus shelter ad across from the Library of Congress.

A rag-tag gang of marauding virus somehow slipped through my usually iron-clad immune defense system, threatening me with a runny nose, slightly sore throat and the dull mind of a minor cold.

I suppose my weeklong bout of the blahs wedged a crack into my immunity. Add to that the gorgeous but devastating full moon of last weekend, and, well ... it's no wonder. Also I got energetically blasted yesterday. I was so surprised by the attack I didn't have time to get my shields in place. Yeah, I took a hit, not a big deal, but it did get to me.

Thanks to the skillful swordsmanship* of the Sufi acupuncturist, plus several cups of brownish tea (Chinese herbs) and an Airborne or two, I believe the rag-tag bunch will soon be meeting their makers, if there is such a thing. A nice hot shower tonight and an undisturbed night's sleep should restore my well guarded boundaries.

Go forth, ye cold virus. I mean it, get out of here! Go!

*He wields the needles as if they were the tiniest of swords, he does.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


I wonder if angels have a moulting season. Based on the shape and texture of the cloud cover in recent days, I would have to say yes, they do, and that season is now. Nice how it coincides with the moulting season of birds here at the surface. I always pick up dozens of nice pidgeon feathers at this time of year. (I know pidgeons are hardly more than rats of the sky, but I like their feathers. I attach them to my medicine pouch, carry them around in my wallet, place them on altars around the house. They remind me of the virtue of being lighthearted, light as a feather, you know.)

Sometimes I find crow feathers, jet black and sticky. Once or twice I've picked up feathers from blue jays and cardinals. I like them all.

Recently I found a huge feather, more than a foot long. It's grayish, so not from a raven or crow. I'm lucky to have a friend who is a bird expert, who tells me my new feather is from a seagull, probably a Thompson gull. Go figure. I never even knew there was such a thing as a Thompson gull.

The gull feather works well as a tool for waving smudge through the air. I toyed with the idea of making a pen out of it, but quickly talked myself out of that project. The dexterity needed to make the quill pen, not to mention use it, is beyond my humble talents.

More complicated still would be to try to turn angel feathers into pens. Angel wing cloud formations come into being, then dissipate within ten or fifteen minutes, hardly enough time to write even a haiku. Though it would be a hulkin' dude of a haiku, no doubt. It's the nature of angels to be ephemeral. So be it. Thank you, dear bird people of the troposphere and stratosphere, for dropping your beautiful feathers into the sky over Washington DC. Bravo! Brava! and thanks!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ancestral Advice

My mother and father have been hovering close by in recent weeks, especially in recent days. Both of them died before I turned thirty, a devastating thing at the time and for years afterwards, but also paradoxically a relief since my relationship with both of them was completely horrible.

Since they departed this plane, though, my relationship with them has improved by leaps and bounds. Part of how that happened was through psychotherapy, a process that helped me see them as three dimensional beings, and come to understand why it was so hard for me to grow up in their household. At age 35, I built an altar to them, made offerings, wrote them long letters about everything. I've maintained the altar ever since. Every year I gain more of an understanding of who they were, and feel more love for them than at any time when they were alive. Go figure.

What my mother is whispering in my ear these days echoes something the Sufi acupuncturist told me, which is that the things I know about myself - my age, income, spirituality, level of fitness, health, astrological chart, etc. can be helpful, but can also create a mental lockdown in which I begin to believe I can't change anything about my life. Let these things be definitive but not limiting, says the Sufi acupuncturist. My mother enthusiastically agrees.

My father was a bowling coach for awhile when we were growing up. Needless to say all of my sibs and I were required to learn to bowl, never my favorite way to spend a Saturday morning, let me tell you. I can "hear" him these days, shouting Follow through! just as he did when he was coaching us. He meant, keep your arm moving, point to the place where you want the ball to go, even after you've released the ball. Stay focused.

Good advice from them both, yes?

As if to assure me that these whisperings are worth contemplation, clouds that looked exactly like angel wings skidded across the sky Saturday at the very moment I was thinking about the advice. It's such a wonderful thing to be well loved by ancestors with whom I struggled so vehemently once upon a time.

Thanks mama and papa! I'm listening.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Buckle your seatbelts, ladies and gentlemen, because this full moon is supposed to be a doozy. It's the harvest moon, ordinarily a deliciously mellow full moon that reflects back to us the whole spectrum of bounty.

But this year, what the harvest moon is reflecting is a Sun/Saturn conjunction, opposing explosive Uranus. Ouch. The sun likes to radiate light and warmth. Saturn likes to contain and constrain. The Sun is a happy light, Saturn is quite sober and stern. When they get together, there's always a clash, like rain on a parade.

Uranus is the revolutionary, tossing Malatov cocktails into every situation. In the case of this weekend, the clash between the Sun and Saturn will be exacerbated by Uranus.

Every astrologer has a different way of understanding the dance of the planets and how that dance interacts with the dramatic dance of we humans. My take on it is that this weekend is likely to be very emotional for many of us.

My strategy? I'm going to ride the waves of emotion as if I were on the Cyclone at Coney Island. Why not?

This full moon will pass, as they all do. Thank God for the relentless march of time! Hang tight, ya'll. It'll all be over soon.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Flip the Switch

Yesterday was quiet and gloomy in Washington DC. The 911 Pentagon memorial opened, but otherwise, nothing much happened. There were no Obama fundraising parties, no grand openings or other such events. Remembering and grieving require a lot of space and silence, and any seven year anniversary (of anything) is always especially potent.

Other than the pervasive, brooding dark overcast, I had no complaints. As a severe introvert, space and quiet always makes more sense to me than a lot of noise and commotion, even if the quiet is the result of a lot of sadness.

The dark overcast continues this morning, but our somber day of remembrance is over. Today the action will crank up again, in the presidential campaign, in Congress, and here in the house on Tennessee Avenue, where my housemates will hold a dinner party tonight.

Life goes on. L'chaim, ya'll. And happy weekend.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Blahs

Is frozen pizza delicious? Because that's what I ended up "cooking" for dinner yesterday. My room is sparkling clean, something I'm having a hard time appreciating since I couldn't enjoy the process. Usually I love to clean my room. I know, it's weird, but I do. Ordinarily, cleaning brings instant gratification, clears my head, helps me calm down, makes me feel productive. Except - not yesterday.

Though it was a non-day all day yesterday, there was one very cool moment of vivid synchronicity. Just as I was having a little hissy fit because I couldn't find my art pen, a quick rain shower swept through, from out of the nowhere, it seemed. I think there might have even been one small crack of lightning/thunder. How sweet of the weather to dance shamanically along with me!

After that, I hunkered back down into a state of non-productivity and non-creativity. I was devoid of inspiration. So, apparently, was the weather. Meh.

Even though a voice keeps whispering Enjoy your detox into my ear (detox from Clif bars, coffee, dark chocolate and wine - I'm into week three of this cleansing), in spite of the encouragement, I am flopping around, still, from withdrawals. Coffee, wine and dark chocolate are happy foods. I miss my happy foods.

I know it's all for the good. I shouldn't complain. Maybe I'll shut up now! Oh yeah.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A Non-Day

Featureless overcast, muggy air that's neither hot nor cool, not a breath of a breeze. On a day like today, it feels like time itself stands still. The hours pass but the light does not change, the temperature doesn't rise or fall, there is no precipitation, no sunshine, no nothin'. Oh yeah, it's a non-day.

Non-days are perfect catalysts for boredom. In fact, a serious bout of ennui would be the perfect shamanic dance of alignment, but instead of dancing with the non-ness of the outdoors, I'm going to cook something delicious for dinner, clean my room, do laundry, and finish some drawings that I shoved aside the other day in order to enjoy the sparkling weather that followed Hanna.

My inspiration for abandoning my usual habit of alignment with the weather is the Paul Foster Case book about the tarot I'm reading. Among other things, Mr. Case is making me think about the number two, about paradox, contrast, opposites, mirroring and duality, qualities I tend to dismiss, even though I'm all about them (a paradox in itself, eh?)

It'll be fun and interesting to embrace that which I usually dismiss, to make a non-day into a double-day. Will it work? I'll let you know.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let it be

During my wiccan years, I conjured like crazy. I mean, that's the point of being a wiccan - to bend your will and shape energy so as to bring into being whatever it is you wish for.

There are lots of wiccans who do this very well, and don't suffer a bit from the practice. I found the constant shaping of energy burdensome and binding, and addictive, too, which is why conjuring never brought out the best in me.

At the disastrous end of my witchhood, leaving behind my habit of conjuring was like going cold turkey with a serious addiction. I would find myself absentmindedly spellcasting just because that's what I was used to doing. I didn't want to do it, but I kept doing it anyway. Eventually, the habit dropped away, freeing up my time and energy, opening my heart and nourishing my curiosity. Once I could believe that the world didn't need me to control every damn thing, I became a much nicer person. These days I hardly even think of conjuring. I'm free.

Except now, eight weeks before the presidential election, here I am, sitting on my hands to keep myself from trying to create a certain result. (As if it's up to me, as if! For heaven's sake!)

Abundant trust and good humor are signs of spiritual wisdom, says Thomas Moore. Can I trust that whatever is unfolding on the U.S. political front is something that can manifest on its own without my meddling? Can I hold in my mind the truth that the final days of empires are always like this? That the political situation is more complicated than one person can possibly understand?

Am I capable of remembering that political magic tends to only strengthen the patterns already in place, if indeed it works at all? Can I let go of my urge to conjure and instead do something practical, like help register voters in N. Virginia?

Well, can I? ......... One day at a time, Reya, one day at a time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Physics of Change

Hanna ripped through town yesterday. By 7:00 p.m. she was completely gone. The sky had cleared and, except for some bedraggled leaves plastered onto the sidewalks, it was as if she had never been here.

This morning is sparkling clean. The air is fresh, the sky bright blue. The birds and squirrels have reappeared. It's a different world altogether.

Our species tends to look upon strong storms as terrible things, and yes, in terms of how how destructive they can be to us and to all of our precious constructions, they show no mercy (as if storms should be merciful ... hmmmm.)

But whenever I can think on a bigger scale than human, I see these storms as very cleansing, like huge detox mechanisms, cleaning earth and sky in the same way a bad cold clears the human body of toxins.

Metaphorically, too, at least in my life, change often comes in the form of a stormy period of destruction and release. During the destructive onset of change, I point my finger every which way (including towards myself), trying to figure out who to blame, but once the storm of change passes, I feel so much better, cleaner. Empty and peaceful, even, just like Washington DC this morning.

Farewell, Hanna - thanks for the crisp air and the sparkling sky, and for the reminder that life is dynamic, and that making changes to long-held patterns can be bombastic. Thank you so much!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Let it rain

Anyone who knows me understands that if I have to stay cooped up indoors for too long, I get a little weird. Or ... a lot weird. So, even though it's a tropical storm passing overhead, I had to get out for a walk this morning.

I went before the storm really kicked into gear. It wasn't too windy yet, though the rain drenched me almost immediately in spite of all the clothing technology that's supposed to keep me dry. I didn't care. The rain was like bathwater, the air thick and hot. It was very fun knowing that Hanna was pouring the Caribbean Sea all over Washington.

Saturdays are usually very busy days on Capitol Hill, especially in and around Eastern Market, our wonderful local farmer's and flea market. This morning, folks from other neighborhoods and from the suburbs stayed home. It was just us locals out there walking around. I saw Susan the pottery artist, Nick, our local city government representative, Larry the dentist, and many of my clients. One dad and his two sons were jumping up and down in a big puddle, no raincoats, no umbrellas, no wellies. He looked at me as I walked past and said, "We couldn't resist." All of us were smiling. Made me think of my beloved Pod who used to sit in rain puddles as a child.

Everyone who dared to go out was in a fine mood. Even strangers smiled at me as we exchanged a knowing look. One woman said, "I think this feels good!" I completely agree.

What I didn't see on my walk was a single bird or squirrel. They have the sense to tuck themselves away from the weather. My species is not quite as sensible.

Right now (around 11:30 a.m.) Brother Wind is starting to blow and the rain is coming down even harder than it was an hour ago. I'm content to drink tea, read and watch movies for the rest of the day, now that I've had my taste of Hanna.

I am very grateful to live in a dry and cozy space, to have the luxury (as Lettuce says) of enjoying the storm's drama from a safe space. I am in awe, as always, of the weather. Bravo, Weather Gods! Well done you!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Here Comes Hanna!

Up to a certain magnitude, storms are just storms. Certain storms that form over the ocean are called tropical depressions, an interesting concept if you take it out of context.

But once a storm gets big and bad, it gets its own name. Meteorologists tend to say the names are given for convenience; transmitting information using only the latitude/longitude is cumbersome. OK. That makes sense, but doesn't explain why, in the Caribbean, hurricanes were named after the saints for hundreds of years before transmitting scientific information was possible. Hurricanes as saints? Wow. It boggles the mind.

There is something magnificent about these huge spiraling tunnels of clouds and the truly unbelievable winds and rains that accompany them. At a certain level of power, they do take on an energy that becomes more than a sum of its parts. I love seeing the satellite photos of them spinning their way across the Atlantic from their beginnings off the west coast of Africa. Wow.

We don't see the worst of the storms here in DC so it's easier for me to lapse into a kind of romantic awe of them. Usually we deal with what the weather people call "the remnants of ..."

Tomorrow the remnants of Hanna will sweep across DC, blowing loose leaves from the trees and providing us with some much needed rainfall. The storm is supposed to be dramatic but not destructive by the time it gets here.

I am very lucky to live indoors and far enough up the east coast to dodge the worst of the weather. It's thrilling to experience the drama and stature of the great named storms once they become "remnants." I look forward to tomorrow. Welcome Hanna!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Political Abyss

My task today is to try hard to keep from feeling demoralized about the enthusiastic reception to Sarah Palin's speech last night at the Republican National Convention.

She called herself a "pit bull with lipstick," a phrase I find completely insulting on Jake's behalf. She behaved like one, sarcastically insulting Obama and the Democrats over and over again. She is a really nasty person.

By calling herself a pit bull with lipstick, she aligned herself with one face of America, my least favorite facet of this country's soul. American society is indeed aggressive yet glamorous. It made me think of Johnny Depp's explanation about why he lives in France - because the U.S. is like a really viscious puppy, biting hard, causing damage while seeing itself as sweet and/or heroic.

Four years ago I was so sure that this country could not be stupid enough to re-elect G.W. Bush. The day after the election (a week we in my household refer to as "The Birth of Chuckie"), I counted myself among the stupid, not because I voted for him, God NO, but because I was naïve enough to believe the U.S. would elect a classy, intelligent man instead of a stuttering monkey (my housemate John's perfect description of Dubya.)

One thing I'll be glad to do is volunteer to help register voters in Northern Virginia this Saturday and next. It seems like such a small contribution, but at least it's constructive.

If they win the election, or steal it, someone please shoot me, OK? Thanks.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

You can say that again, Thomas!

"The story within and beneath the familiar story is almost always full of insight and new possibility. It may take courage to go another level down, to abandon clarity, however illusory, for confusion and puzzlement. Our habitual stories usually protect us from the mystery of our lives. But there is always the opportunity to take our storytelling deeper, always the chance to find the intelligence and comfort we have been seeking at a level far beneath the basement of our expectations."

from "Original Self" by Thomas Moore

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Dear Great Eternal Divine Reality, (a.k.a. God),

I'm not about to start praying for a certain result in the U.S. election coming up in November. I know that's not mine to call, even though I do have a very specific wish around it (as I always do).

All I'm asking is that you open the eyes of the voters out there so that they really know who and what they're voting for. Will you do that, please?

Open my eyes, too, in case there's something I'm not seeing, yes? Because what I see on the Republican side is a cynical, sickly, scary old man paired up with a horrible hater, a nice looking woman (doesn't she look like Tina Fey?) who is virulently anti-gay, anti-choice (doesn't even believe in abortion in cases of rape or incest). She's a creationist, so she doesn't believe in evolution. She's involved in a lawsuit to remove polar bears from the endangered species list.

She wants to kill polar bears?

God, help us. Thanks.

devoted love,

Monday, September 1, 2008

Secular Seasons

It's Labor Day in the U.S., the last day of summer in our culture. Oh, I know, the last day of summer - according to the position of Brother Sun on the ecliptic - is right around the 20th of September, give or take a day. But the equinoxes and solstices are more conceptual for us Americans than our secular holidays. Kind of funny, kind of sad, thinking that our wheel of the year is not based so much on natural rhythms as on the needs of our industrialized, corporatized, fully scheduled society.

No matter. Sometime this afternoon, people will begin flooding back into the city, gearing up for the beginning of the next Congressional session. Tomorrow, school starts, the new fiscal year will kick into gear. From next week onwards to November 4, DC will be all about the presidential campaign.

September 21 will come and go. Only the weather people are likely to acknowledge it as autumn's first day.

If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Welcome, secular autumn!