Monday, November 29, 2010

Palm to Palm

These palms are in a post-vacation stretch. They bend their back, they are lightness elongated - aiming high, they reach for the sky. See you in a few.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gearing up for Grateful

I wanted to squeeze in one more blog entry before the long holiday weekend - soon enough I'll be too full of turkey stuffing and pecan pie to lift a finger, let alone compose a thoughtful post.

With all the scurrying around, however, I've made certain not to forget to acknowledge my gratitude. One of my yoga teachers, Jill, incorporated a grateful pose into practice: she recommends during back-bends to think of your loved ones (specifically all of those for which you are grateful) and picture them in miniature on your belly, as it rises to the sky.

At first I giggled at this visual: everyone, and I mean everyone, I'm thankful for - hanging out like figurines in a marvelous pack - with my stretchy yoga top as their ground. But then, after doing this multiple times over multiple classes, I started to come around on the exercise. I actually thought of more people than I imagined - trying to fit in as many as possible, as not to leave anyone out of the party on my ribs. I suggest you try it, and I don't think this acknowledgment practice is limited to a yoga class. Maybe as you're getting ready for bedtime? Maybe while you're rolling out pie dough?

There's no way I could share all of my gratitude in this one blog, so I will simply share one thing that I couldn't live without: the spontaneous "me" day. While rattling on about everyone I love, I know it's strange to bask in the glory of me - however I need to take care of myself before I can give back to the others - I stand by this truth.

My "me" day was on Saturday and there was one thing on the day time agenda: no plans to speak of. With no where to be and no one to meet, I relaxed, creating space to do things I didn't even know I wanted to do. My "me" day was a real success because I actually felt myself
s l o w d o w n - a rare sensation that can only be felt in its genuine state.

My pace came to such a halt that I actually took the time to take care of some things around the house. I fixed a lampshade that appeared to be eternally crooked, I dried flowers and arranged them into bouquets, I hand-washed some clothes and I listened to one of my favorite music programs, the Thistle and Shamrock, on a local radio station. I also...

Dropped in to Flora Grubb Gardens, where I bought two plants to add to my collection. Their space is half plant store, half plant museum.

I've wanted to make a wreath for some time now and my hope is to make one with my dried flowers. There's a succulent wreath-making workshop there this weekend - if anyone's in town...

Something to be grateful for: When walking down the street, don't forget the things below your feet!

Aww, Arizmendi. Something to be grateful for. Since they opened on Valencia, I'd yet to stop in for a slice (or two) of pizza and my "me" day was the perfect time to do it. I enjoyed my mushroom, goat cheese and leek pizza al fresco to the sounds of an accordion, courtesy of Gypsy Honeymoon. Obviously, a trip to Arizemendi isn't complete without a drool-fest over their pecan rolls.

Gypsy Honeymoon - a place where the antiques never get old! Lately, on nice days, the owner sets up a table of cherished items on her stoop. I couldn't help but notice how colorful and lively everything looked - almost as if I was at Flora Grubb.

How cute is that lamb? Obviously, a "me" weekend isn't complete without some good socializing. Sunday night, Liz, Sarah and I cooked this Onion Madeira Soup with Gruyere Toasts (which I spotted on A Bloomsbury Life). It rounded out the coziness of the entire weekend.

With a little bit of time for "me," I am able to be even more grateful for the ones who want to be with me - even in miniature, with my chin aimed for my heart, these people - these loved ones - they make the best company.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Stars of Track & Field

I signed up for the Santa Cruz half-marathon!

The genesis went like this: last Sunday I went to the Clarksburg Country Run to cheer on Liz and Tony as they ran their 20 mile race. As they took off from the start-line, I immediately wanted to spring forward with the group. Also, when I saw the peaceful smile on Liz's face (see above) I yearned for that kind of euphoria for myself.

I'm not much of a runner, but if I have a goal to work toward (aka half-marathon in April) I think it will help me motivate and excite me. Perhaps it will become more natural and organic of an activity - the way I feel about yoga or hiking. In theory I love running - the meditative stare, the long stride, the breath matched with pace. Physically and mentally, however, I find it challenging.

But, lately, I find that there are many challenges in life we can't control, and these are challenges me must face. Why not take control of it all - and take on the challenge rather than let the challenge take on you? On top of everything else, when I saw an 88 year-old-man cross the finish - line that sealed the deal. If he can do it, I can do it!

Here are some glimpses I captured as I walked along the country crisp, vineyard lined course:

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Can't get enough of Gwyneth Paltrow on Glee last night, singing a mash-up of "Umbrella" and "Singin' in the Rain." The whole episode was amazing - I love when Gwyneth gets funny, silly and awkward. Love Gwyneth, love Goop, love Glee!

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Yosemite

The surface of the water is stirred, perhaps, by whirling water-beetles, or some startled trout, seeking shelter beneath fallen logs or roots. The falls, too, are quiet; no wind stirs, and the whole Valley floor is a mosaic of greens and purples, yellows and reds. Even the rocks seem strangely soft and mellow, as if they, too, had ripened. -1912

John Muir, from "The Yosemite"

Like John Muir and others before me, I've been held captive by thoughts and dreams of Yosemite. It seems to be ever present in my life although I'm neither there this moment nor have I yet to arrive. Simply meaning, another Yosemite trip awaits me for the future - just as memories of trips passed linger gracefully in the present.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Upper Yosemite Before Sunset

With a day behind us in Yosemite, we'd already hiked to the top of a waterfall...or two.

We had stood beneath the tallest trees, feeling grateful under their presence.

But we had yet to surmount the falls of Yosemite - also known as Yosemite Falls - Upper and Lower. Guess which one we tackled...

Our original plan for the day was to hike down into the Valley from Glacier Point, however the road was closed - as they tend to be in winter months. The ranger at our camp, Taylor Linzey, suggested we hike to the top of Upper Yosemite Falls - a popular, yet grueling climb. Perfectly motivated yet perfectly exhausted from our hike up to Vernal and Nevada, we began our 7 mile (round-trip) adventure around noon on the Valley Floor.

Linzey was right indeed - the ascent is a climb, literally. Along the trail, while moving from switchback to switchback, all I could think of was the knee-breaking descent we eventually would face. And then I saw this:

and I felt we were getting closer...

...and closer we were...and the colors caught my eye!

There's nothing like a rainbow to make you want to run up a hill. After that (and after stopping for lunch) I was insanely driven to get to the top of Upper Yosemite. We also had another motivational factor. Aside from looking out onto the Valley Floor from the top of the waterfall, we had another goal - to get back down there to capture the sunset from Sentinel Bridge. Unaware of when exactly the sun set in Yosemite, all we had was how the light filtered through the trees, to tell us the time.

By the time we reached our plateau, (after 3.4 miles) I'd gone completely gaga for this hike. Obviously, I was thrilled our 'up-hill' battle had ceased. Also, the trees were some of the most beautiful trees I'd ever seen. Tall, green, eclectic - I wanted to climb, hug and cherish them all! This spot reminded me a lot of another place Liz and I went camping - Desolation Wilderness. A Greek chorus of trees surrounded by an amphitheater of granite - it feels like you're on another planet. The best part about it is that we took ourselves there - it was all us.

After a minute or two of giddily prancing around the area, we found the overlook and with shaky legs went as far as we could. We had company too! A few other hikers made it to the top - with their dog! and there were 3 or 4 crows enjoying the view.

See the bird?

It's not long after you've taken in the view that the reality kicks in - we've got to get back down to the Valley Floor. But the light was so beautiful and the weather so crisp that I couldn't wait to see it all again. Normally, I prefer loop trails - but in Yosemite, it's worth seeing everything twice. Or three or four times. Once we became a bit delirious on the foot numbing jaunt back down, I was seeing Half Dome in small rocks and steps - in all shapes and forms - along the way. We made it to the floor and onto Sentinel Bridge!! Just in time for a perfectly festive, Halloween Half Dome.

Once again, we weren't alone. Others knew about the jack pot. This was where Ansel Adams took one of his famous Half Dome photographs. So in the grand tradition of Yosemite, we all put on our Ansel hats, and snapped away...

Monday, November 8, 2010

Autumn in...Yosemite?

It has been a whole week since I woke up in Yosemite and I'm determined to keep it close. At the good advice of a friend, I tried to keep all of my trip's yumminess with me as I traversed the days last week. However, things out of my control (car broke down, San Francisco madness post-Giants win, the election, etc) made that a challenge. I still tried my best - to keep the quiet within - but I think I'll have another go at it for the week to come. Hopefully, 'the week to come' will translate into always, every day, stillness and quiet mania. Oxymoron? Yes, but in the best way.

I'm bursting into this week like the colors of Yosemite. One of the main draws to visit the park over Halloween weekend was this possibility of foliage (and, the reality we didn't know until we were there, that November 1st they close down the campgrounds. We packed up, and so did they). The palate of San Francisco doesn't quite offer residents those spurts of green, purple, red, and yellow that trees in a colder climate may produce (you have catch a Bay Area sunset for those hues).

So Yosemite bound Liz and I were. Colors we sought and colors we found! Whether on brisk walks through the Valley floor or from atop the granite walls, Yosemite was in full foliage bloom. For me, it was a race to catch every scene that screamed autumn. I may not have come close to finding them all, but it didn't matter. It was what took me to these supposed spots that truly amazed. Scenic bridges...

The dogwood tree as canopy...

The river lined in all different shades of green...the oak, the pine, the willow tree.

Leaves crisp, and still dewy from a night of rain...

That gorgeous one I can't get enough of...Yosemite.