Like Words Together Reflections from the deep end of Practice.



I finally took the neighbors up on their offer of a glass of wine and conversation outside. Masks were worn, aside from sips. It was nice and I'm glad we connected more. I made sure they knew we were both around in the event of an emergency, especially now.

I didn't make it under the weighted blanket, but I'm doing ok.

It's very cold, getting our first frost tonight. CK and I got the hoses put on the shed and hurriedly picked anything in the garden worth picking. I've got a stack of greenish tomatoes in the kitchen window, I'm hoping they'll ripen.


Taxes, Cops, and COVID

We've been trying to get caught up on our taxes and at the end of last year we'd got 2016 filled and paid.

Or so we thought.

Several years ago we both experienced identify theft around taxes. As a result, we have PINs issued each year and getting behind has meant they expired and we had to send in a paper copy.

Later this winter we received a letter stating we had to verify our identification before they can accept the paper copy. Then COVID happened and the offices closed up.

I’ve been trying off and on for a while. This morning I tired again.

I eventually got to someone after getting disconnected repeatedly on the number the letter said to call. I’d tired another number on a different letter saying we now have a credit.

I was ultimately told to try the number that says it’s having technical difficulties and disconnecting me. That our make an appointment to go in person in an office located in the Federal Building.

If it’s open. I should risk COVID exposure to enter a building that’s currently boarded up and surrounded by both federal and local cops dressed in riot gear.

I got a lot upset. Thankfully CK came upstairs to give me hugs and support.

There was freshly harvested salad for dinner, so that was good. I’m really grateful for the last two things.


Goodbye June

This month. What the fuck.

Yesterday CK found out some deeply troubling news about someone who'd once been a roommate and close friend. She's trying to process it, but it is a case where there is no answer that makes sense.

There are some things humans do that are incomprehensible to those of us who live our lives from compassion, curiosity, and ethics driven from our belief in the interconnectedness of all beings.

I'm glad it's over. Not that July can't bring awful things, but at least we're now halfway through this terrible year.

I'm grateful for baby carrots eaten from the garden. Thinning out the planting is tasty at this stage.


Gardening for Hope

I got another raised bed prepped today! Tomorrow I can plant some lettuce and kale starts CK has waiting.

We've been dealing with home repair issues too. Our washing machine needs a new cord. We've managed to diagnose the issue and next weekend will fix it. We got it running fine, we think part the problem is the outlet.

This simple stuff has been good to bring focus on what is most needed. Or top priority is our well-being.

"Us first."

We started saying this after getting my Mother out of our home and lives. She'd done her level best to undermine and destroy what we'd built together, but we're stronger.

That said, these pandemic days are far more frightening than family drama. This is saying something given what a horror show my family was.

We're at nearly 100,000 people dead of COVID19 in the USA.



The garden gave us Sugar Snap Peas today. Just a handful we ate while playing a game together this evening. They weren’t amazing, the way very freshly harvested produce is sometimes, but they were good.

I picked up the mail. It contained a handmade card and a linocut print, both made by students. “That’s a pile of fan mail”, CK commented when I got home.

I am, again, deeply moved at the offerings of my students. I’m also really impressed at how well people are adapting and growing.

Now that I’ve spotted the backdraft of shame in response to these mail days, I’m hoping that will begin to ease. Sometimes recognizing, then articulating these insights to CK, a friend, and/or my therapist, starts to break up the hold the Childhood Logic has on me.

Tomorrow is Dinner 70 and I have no idea what it will be, nor do I have anything thawing for CK. It might end up being very easy if we garden a lot. We’re also spending a bunch of the weekend playing games and discussing more ideas to make CK’s 40th extra special.


Victory Garden

We woke up early to go to the hardware store. There were a few bumps, but we got a seed starting station set up downstairs. We moved the old garage-based setup downstairs to the utility room. This puts it right of the veggie garden.

CK helped me get one big bed and a small bed ready to plant. We picked up just a few starts and put them into the beds today. Sugar Snap Peas, kale, collards, Walla Walla onions, and a full plant all went in before the rain comes in.

We're not the only people thinking of Victory Gardens this year, it is a reasonable activity to turn to at times such as the extraordinary ones we're in now. It is something we can do together, it gets us outside on the fresh air, and in the end we have fresh flowers and vegetables to enjoy ourselves and share.

All that and I’m ready to try a class tomorrow!



Yesterday kind of sucked. CK left for the Bay Area for a few days. We're doing this full-court press at work trying to tune up the application stack, complete with vendor-dispatched consultant. I've already put in 40+ hours by end of day Thursday.

I'm giving up teaching my yoga class. I've had to cancel so many times this year, most of those related to caring for Mom. Some due to the car accident last year. It hurts so much to give up the thing that brings light and joy at the end of a stressful week. Teaching centers me in a way like no other Practice.

So off I go into Thursday, thinking merely, "At least the week is nearly done."

There were finally some successes with the work stuff. That and some ongoing respect for me as a profession from the consultant has gone a long way toward making this grueling effort bearable.

I stopped at the market to pick us up dinner, "Hot Woks", and get fresh flowers. I'd been informed that this market, easy to get to on the way home from my office, gets fresh flowers every Thursday. Fresh flowers around the house is an indulgence that I so enjoy.

Today I picked out a few things to be wrapped together, having them hold the bundle while I got dinner. When I came back out one of the women who works there held out two more bundles of roses to me. They are a little browned on the outer petals, but otherwise still fresh. Being slightly faded, they were going to be tossed away. I laughed in delight and surprise, saying of course I'd love more flowers!

Only Slightly Faded Roses - June 6, 2013 - Portland, Oregon

Bemused at this lovely gift in my day I arrived home to discover another gift. The lovely man who maintains our landscaping built a fountain in the pond today!

Simple Stones and Water - June 6, 2013 - Portland, Oregon

A fountain! It is an amazing gift. He knew I'd wanted to do a water feature to help move the water, getting more air in, and also have the wonderful sound of it. The water sound would help mask the sound of the freeway in the distance.

Now we have one. He has a Kwan Yin he's adding to adorn the top stone.



We're still in that constant of accelerating change around here. Moving toward light, toward positive change, but still sometimes the whoosh of it all gets rather dizzying. Yes, of course, this is why I Practice in a kind of "still. whoosh. still. whoosh. still. whoosh" way. The winding path of a householder.

Soon to become holder of houses, which feels enormous at times. CK and I are co-purchasing, it feels good to have found a home together. Today's been a tough one; makes buying our current home seem like a lovely party where at the end I got a house.

Next week I'm speaking at a conference, this one actually directly related to the work I do in Business Intelligence. Kind of a big deal and I'm feeling under prepared, as always. Oh, and there's packing to do.

And there's packing to do. The house, the stuff. Trying to breathe through all of the anxiety that comes up for me around moving, even when for the better. It will hopefully be back from the conference and into a big whoosh of packing and moving. Then settling a little before Mom joins us, which has been a big part of the new house. That and reducing my commute considerably, which I've become resigned to but it does take a big toll on my body.

Here and there, between the whooshing, we spent a leisurely weekend celebrating my birthday quietly. I also canned 8 quarts of sauce! The garden has been very productive this year, which is a little bittersweet, but mostly I'm just enjoying the bounty!

Bounty of San Marco paste tomatoes! Portland, Oregon, August 2012


Football, Sandwiches & Preserves

CK came over this evening and AM made bánh mì sandwiches, which are a real favorite. To make fully veganized ones we use Veganaise (AM likes to add a little Maggi in it to give that tangy bite that fish sauce creates in the non-veg variations). Add slices of tofu seared with mushroom sauce, mung bean sprouts, avocado slices, and pickled veggies (jalapeno & banana peppers, daikon, and carrot). Top the whole thing off with some fresh coriander (cilantro), Thai basil and a squeeze of fresh lime. Hold on with both hands, because if you try to put it down it will explode, and enjoy with friends (because they won't laugh, much, at the mess on your face).

I picked a pocket full of jalapenos from the garden, the one plant that has really produced a lot, and we made Dave's recipe for poppers. We all gathered downstairs to enjoy our delicious, messy sandwiches while watching the football game on DVR. The game wasn't very exciting, except for all the injuries, and the commentators were annoying (as usual).

All the while I worked on my experiment with apple preserves, based on the recipe I read in the NYTimes. Will make some notes on that in the cooking blog after I've tried it and decided what I think. I'm enjoying playing with making my own preserves, that's for sure!

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Awoke groggy and tired again this morning. I should have made myself get up at 6:25 when I first opened my eyes and looked at the clock, but instead I dozed off again. When I finally got up a little past 7AM I stumbled around stiffly and got to working. I got through all my meetings grabbed a quick shower before going over to BM's for a massage.

It was so busy today, meetings where I actually was a participant. Hard to feel like I got any "work" done just all the talking. Yes, I know it is work and equally important, but I would have preferred to get other things done. Tomorrow is similar although I'll get to have lunch with CK in the middle which always seems to make the day go better, even the week.

I told BM about the emotional storm last weekend, how I could feel how tight and stiff my back was. Lots of really taut tendons and muscles in the shoulders and neck, energy moving out down my fingers. She thinks I may have slightly bruised my knuckle when I whacked it against the floor at Dishman which is why it hurts when I grab with that hand. She worked on that a bit as well, lengthening out and moving the tightness in the joint.

While AM made dinner I sat in the shala room, now pretty well organized (I need some kind of shelf unit). I phoned Mom and talked with her a little bit, thanking her for the box of birthday gifts. I was most thrilled with the flattened pennies she'd got on her trip this summer with her husband. This simple thing is something she can do and answer that need she feels to buy me things, they are very small, and I do enjoy them; there were over a dozen from her trip. She also sent a check so I could buy myself a magazine subscription (considering Tricycle, Shambhala Sun or Parabola). Also included was a bath soap (sodium laurel sulfate and artificial fragrance, but OK), and Halloween themed "advent" calendar, and some wreath thing I didn't quite figure out yet.

What's hard is if I tell her not to get me stuff her feelings are hurt. I then have all this stuff that I often don't know what to do with and feel a bit guilty for preferring to chuck. CK got a great introduction to this when she came with me to the Mother's Day lunch. Mom wanted to include me in all the gift giving so she'd got some little mirror/plaque thing with some greeting card-esque statement on it. Anyone who's been in my house would know looking at it that this is not something that fits at all, but she got it for me anyway because she wanted to be giving us all little gifts.

What is strange is that I do like gifts. I even specifically requested something AM could get me (a lovely shirt from Seven Virtues... bit more cleavage than I'm used to but I do think it looks good). I guess it is because sometimes Mom's gifts seems so steeped in her either feeling as though she has an obligation to get me something and/or her not always buying what really suits me. At best there is some kind of medium of the things I enjoy (squashed pennies and magazine subscriptions) and things I really don't use anymore (Halloween advent calendars, little mirror plaques, etc.). Gift giving events could also be so utterly fraught in tension and my Mom made a big deal out of my birthday, in fact I used to hold a big party every year for my birthday. Now I feel a bit uncertain what to do beyond enjoy things with my friends.

CK came over for dinner, AM made white bean & "chik'n" chili with cornbread, and we all sat in the breeze on the deck enjoying it. She noted all the red in the garden and went out to inspect. The sounds of amazement got me into my shoes, grabbing up a basket & scissors, and out to the garden with her. She held the basket while I picked at least 2 pounds of tomatoes (including a luscious, perfect brandywine), cucumbers, eggplant, and squash. We stood around the beds popping tomatoes into our mouths. CK bit into one of the chocolate cherry tomatoes, trying to halve it, and seeds and juice shot three feet through the air and landed on AM. It was glorious fun.

She hung out for a bit, we laid around in the shala looking at my pose flashcards. It gave her a laugh when I brought them out along with the CD. She had been saying how she'd like a way to learn the poses better and I'd finally organized enough to just hand something to her. There was a lovely sweet closeness to it, laying there with her in the comfortable space. We kissed a little, softly and it felt as though another sigh went up from my psyche. Not that there wasn't desire, but there was also comfort and a feeling of the deep connection, the teeth of the gears fitting together and moving forward instead of slipping and grinding.

I got my therapy appointment switched to Wednesday so I'm not ending Thursday on tears. Everything has been so at the surface and I do see the point of working on it, I just finally agreed I should rest a little for my birthday and take it easy on myself. I still think I'll work on Thursday. BM suggested that we plan around a 6PM start at Last Thursday. CK is suggesting I put in an order from something delicious from Sweet Pea, I'm thinking... maybe I'll phone Lisa tomorrow and ask what's new. The "Elvis" cake sounds intriguing although I'm equally tempted by the coconut cake, especially if it could be done with some chocolate ganache, seems like that would be lovely. Maybe with some berries on it.

I'm leaning towards taking Friday off. I can consider going to see Mom for a little bit, something I know she'd appreciate. Yeah, my birthday, but in a way I'm mindful of wanting to share the day with her and recognize how important it is to her as well. It is difficult practice having a relationship with my Mom. I mostly try to be compassionate towards her and honor her because she is the person who brought me into this existence. But there's so much history there that just hurts and the choices she makes I think are unwise much of the time, so it is hard practice.

She said she wants to read what I wrote for Ink on the Cat, I'm not sure if I should share it because it notes how I felt alienated and unsupported by my family. I know if I don't mention it again she'll likely forget about it.