Dec 072014
 

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This evening is my first completely solo time in my home in ten years. It’s a little startling, because it came about quickly through happenstance, like a random collision of pinball events. Since December 2004, I’ve always had a cat (and most of the time my partner!) sharing my home space. Tonight Jen is out with a friend, I won’t see her for a few days, and my faithful and sometimes whiney companion, Edwin P. Hubble, is spending the night at the vet with a urinary problem. So it’s just me, and the frogs in the nearby creek.

Hubble, shown here after a hard day of texting, was acting strangely this morning. Both of us noticed it, and finally around noon we figured out that he hadn’t peed in the litter box in a couple of days. Fortunately, the San Rafael Pet Emergency Center is a great resource, helping me in the past as I lost Hubble’s brother Chandra, and my mother’s elderly and sweet German Shepherd, Sheba. Today they were great yet again, catheterized and caring for my friend. He’s doing fine, and I should have him home tomorrow night. Hopefully some diet changes will prevent this from happening again.

It’s odd to be completely solo at home, even for just a day. Two years ago, I wrote here about how my life had pared down to just my cat and myself. Now I’m pared even further to just the essential me, and I am rather surprised at how different my house feels, even though Hubble (aka “The Black Avenger”) is mostly a lurking and invisible presence. It’s honestly wonderful to experience a little time with absolutely no relationship responsibility. Don’t get me wrong; I love being in relationship, and my time with Jen is treasure time. And I’ve experienced it while traveling by myself, of course. But it’s oddly freeing to have this sensation in my own home. I remember a little more than ten years ago, after separating from my first wife, how rattled I felt while completely by myself. It was excruciating, to be honest, and I could not sit still with myself for more than a few hours…had to go out, do something. After Nancy passed, Hubble has been a constant in my life, a partner always happy to receive affection, responding by draping himself on me, or shoulder-diving into my arm and hand. I can feel more clearly how he has helped me navigate my grieving, the shifts in my psyche without her.

Honoré de Balzac wrote “Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.” I’ve lived a relationship with that quote for decades, used it to rationalize my feelings, helped me deal with my incapacity for pure solitude. But I notice that the quote is no longer true for me. How wonderful here and now is. Floppy cat, good. Fabulous partner, more than good. Tonight, solitude is good.

And the frogs sound outrageously alive and cheerful.

 Posted by at 6:28 pm
Oct 182014
 

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(December 8, 2013)

Five years ago, this was how my house looked at Christmas. In fact, I have a blog post exactly five years ago tonight, with the same photo. Nancy and I moved into our new home in July 2008, and our first holiday season was an opportunity to put some lights up. This was one of the first and best photos of my house as landscaping was being installed, and we were relaxing into our new home. You can see the tree through the windows in the middle of the second floor.

Fast forward to now, and it has been four full years since any holiday decorations have been up in my home. I’m a little shocked, I just realized this today. Three years ago, Nancy was very weak and we were trying to figure out what was wrong…there was no room for tree or house decoration. Two years ago, she was in the ICU, and Christmas was the last thing on my mind. To be honest, I don’t even remember Christmas two years ago, although I know I got together with her family. Last year, I couldn’t deal with the intensity of my feelings, and did no decorations.

But now it’s different. This is my house, and I will be here through the holidays. I’ve been digging into the boxes of Christmas stuff, and found the lights we put on the decks four years ago. They are up again as of tonight. I am now decorating my home.

(October 18, 2014)

I have kept these lights on every night since last December, and few see them, as the street traffic after dark on my dead-end street is almost nonexistent. But I see them. I’ve kept the lights on all year, without really knowing why. As I go back into my journal, and read this unposted entry from last December, now I know. It’s like lighting a candle in memory of someone, in celebration. Every night the lights go on and remind me this is my home, the one Nancy and I created together, that is mine now. Let the lights illuminate the setbacks, the cedar siding we so carefully finished together in the spring of 2011, the railings we drilled and installed, the beautiful architecture that Art Chartock designed and Rich Dowd and Bob Hartwell implemented.

I often light the candle in the entry way and burn incense when I get home. At 7pm it’s dark, but the marble buddha that dominates the entry space gets honored as often as I am capable. Anyone walking by can see it. I love my home so much. I may not live here the rest of my life – Marin property taxes are so high – but I do so enjoy being here while I can afford it. Let the light shine every night.

 Posted by at 3:17 pm
Oct 162014
 

Ishikawa homer

Fireworks are detonating in San Francisco tonight, as the SF Giants win the National League Championship, and go to the World Series. WOOOO-HOOOOO! Let me make my feelings clear! It’s especially sweet that Travis Ishikawa’s homer ended the game. He has been a workhorse all year, and there is something perfect about him finding such a memorable and delightful place in the history books of the game.

But like all things, there is learning here. How ecstatic I feel, how delighted, going to sleep with a smile and anticipation of baseball next week with the Giants in the Series, the Ultimate Baseball Experience. First let me paint the depth of my attachment.

When I was 11 years old, in Tucson, Arizona, my soon-to-be-stepfather Leon saw my interest in crystal radios and offered to help me set up a 1932 Philco shortwave radio in my bedroom, stringing an antenna on the roof and connecting it to a good ground. One Sunday we accomplished the setup, and oh my god, I could play with this thing for hours listening to radio stations from Canada, Argentina, Russia, and the BBC in London. Meanwhile, I lived a thousand miles from the nearest professional baseball team, and the playground was pretty evenly divided between Dodgers and Giants fans. Sandy Koufax, Willy McCovey, Drysdale, Mays…the arguments were lively and fun.

And then I discovered that regular AM radio stations would “skip” off the ionosphere after sunset, and I could receive KNBR broadcasts of Giants games. The games would start at 7:05 (Arizona didn’t do daylight savings, so the time was the same in SF), but that was before summer sunsets. Around 7:30 in September, I and some friends would be in my bedroom, where I would turn on the bare radio chassis, watch the tubes warm up, and listen to the hiss at 680 kilohertz. Tuning around back and forth, we could tell there was a carrier signal, but could not hear anything else. And then about ten minutes after sunset, the magic would happen. “zzzzhhhshshhshshhhhh….and Mota is on first with one away. The pitcher winds up…and it’s a ball, high and outside…” The announcer would emerge from the white noise like an audio apparition, unheard one moment, crystal clear the next. We were enchanted more by the game of course, but in retrospect, I loved the way the Heaviside Layer (now I’m dating myself!) would enable long-distance communication on the medium wave bands. The oil-filled capacitors on this (35-year old radio, now 75 years old!) leaked a bit, so after an hour the chassis would start to smoke, and we would have to open the window to clear the smell. No matter, it was Giants Baseball.

(Little side note – a couple of years ago, a neighbor up in Lassen, who bought the summer cabin from my parents in 1994, told me that this radio was still in the rafters of the tool shed, pulled it out, and gave it to me. So I have it again, all 40 pounds of tubes and transformers, along with acorns and a half pound of dust in the chassis!)

Fast forward 45 years, and I’m still enchanted by the radio. Jon Miller and the crew at KNBR are fabulous announcers, and I prefer listening to their broadcast over going somewhere with a TV to watch. Tonight was awesome, a bottom-of-the-ninth walk-off 3-run homer to win the pennant. I am so happy on many levels, how they won, how classy the Cardinals were as an opposing team, who hit the homer. It’s a great game, baseball, and the Giants thread runs deep in my soul.

Which brings me to attachment, looking and what this is and why I let myself attach and ride the roller coaster of victory and defeat, joy and sorrow, at something so ephemeral. It is after all, just a game.

If we are here, to do great fulfilling things, to go on hero’s journeys, to take on practices or caregiving or success or failure or build families or create companies or travel and see everything we can find…well how wonderful is that? It’s all ephemeral, we cannot take any of it with us when we die. The wonderful game tonight, the winner and loser, will fade into memory just as everything else does.

But that does not invalidate the joy, which arises from desire. Incarnation is a gift, not a prison, and we get to experience the delight of embodiment as well as the pain of loss or change. I love the Giants, and that love and joy and sorrow when they lose and energy hanging with other fans, cheering and booing…well, it’s all wonderful as long as I don’t take it (or myself) too seriously. For me, one difference between attachment and desire is keeping a sense of humor about it.

WOOOOOO-HOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

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 Posted by at 10:13 pm
Aug 232014
 
returning home

Ah, home. The word means something different when we are days or weeks away. A driving trip to a distant place makes home far away, and I had lots of time to contemplate as I journeyed back with my Canadian flotilla. Here are some numbers: 6138 miles total on this trip, and the return took […]

 Posted by at 6:15 pm
Aug 182014
 
the roxy road

Today is transition day, I’m feeling a ton of things, and letting something shift inside. Punctuated by Roxy Music. Al and Kathy have put us up in a delightful cottage on their property on Duck Lake, and this has become my base of operations as we picked up Miss Powassan and put her in the […]

 Posted by at 11:33 am
Aug 142014
 
serendipity

We’ve arrived, after five-and-a-half days of easy travel, beautiful scenery, and happy coincidence. Our overnight stays have been in three hotels, two campgrounds and with my sister Camille in Idaho. Along the way, we’ve experienced a lot of trains, a fantastic bakery in Reno, a wonderful family dinner, more trains, booming oil economy in North […]

 Posted by at 10:54 pm
Aug 022014
 
prelude to transition

In a few days, I’ll be starting a two-week road trip to Ontario, Canada.This will be my first long driving trip in years. It is also a journey that will mark a deep change. I’m going to Canada to scatter Nancy’s ashes. There it is. And…I need to pick up some boats. And fishing gear. […]

 Posted by at 6:14 pm
Jul 272014
 
another comment on the mideast

So much has happened this week in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, or more properly, Judaic and Islamic influence in the area. So many have commented, it seems like everyone around this conflict has gotten spun up into their polarization. It’s painful for me to watch. The pain is in the polarization, the […]

 Posted by at 4:51 pm
May 312014
 
urban turkey trot

My mornings and evenings have been punctuated by some all-American sound and action for the last couple of weeks. My house seems to be home-central for a flock of wild turkeys. The action starts right around 6am, with a parade. This morning the parade started just up the street from me, and proceeded apace right […]

 Posted by at 10:21 am
May 082014
 
love and fear and fearlessness

I had a whole epiphany the other day, sitting with a glass of wine, and I can finally put it to words. Fear is not present. Funny expression, you can read it a couple of ways, especially from inside the buddhist practice of learning to be present. I actually heard the phrase a year ago, […]

 Posted by at 6:35 am