Monday, January 30, 2012

Kauai sky yin yang

Kauai light shows: one, a virtual auditory armageddon, setting off a cacophany of bird chatter akin to human screaming; the other, silent; a golden globe descending, painting the sky day's end.

Yin and yang transform each other: like an undertow in the ocean, every advance is complemented by a retreat, and every rise transforms into a fall. Thus, a seed will sprout from the earth and grow upwards towards the sky – an intrinsically yang movement. Then, when it reaches its full potential height, it will fall. - Excerpted from the website

Friday, January 27, 2012

A "w" word with weight

Is worrying genetically linked? Do we come by it naturally, or is it acquired through experience? Nature vs nurture: it's a controversial topic in its own right and rich fodder for spirited dialogue.

When not making snow angels or standing on my hands under water, I think about this stuff. Really. And I think it is an inherited trait, and, perhaps unfairly, not often evenly distributed.

Among my siblings, one in four seems to have gotten the worry gene, and it ain't me. But just in case I acquire the bugger, I'm tucking this poem in my files for future reference and hangin' on to this link.

I Worried
by Mary Oliver

I worried a lot. Will the garden grow, will the rivers
flow in the right direction, will the earth turn
as it was taught, and if not how shall
I correct it?

Was I right, was I wrong, will I be forgiven,
can I do better?

Will I ever be able to sing, even the sparrows
can do it and I am, well,

Is my eyesight fading or am I just imagining it,
am I going to get rheumatism,
lockjaw, dementia?

Finally I saw that worrying had come to nothing.
And gave it up. And took my old body
and went out into the morning,
and sang.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Food for thought

A friend posted this trailer on her blog and encouraged others to pass it along. Though I've participated in five Susan G. Komen events and am registered for my sixth, I admit I've been conflicted from the get-go on a multitude of points. Breast cancer marketing, the pink ribbon hype, and the nearly impenetrable smoke-screen of the FDA, drug companies and more have made me cringe and closely examine my involvement in the cause.

I will continue to raise funds for research, treatment and education because I believe the funding is crucial to understanding the causes, improving treatment options, and extending the reach of education far and wide in a forward march for a cure. The 3-Day, my event of choice, though loaded with hype and sappy marketing, provides a forum for me to develop my fitness, strengthen relationships, support those affected by the disease, increase awareness, and offers me a direct link to my extended community on a global issue.

I invite you to watch the trailer and share your views. Spirited discourse welcome!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Between the lines

In recent weeks, I've been in contact with a family in the mid-west who hail from Rome. It's a time of introspection for them as they collect information on a job offer and potential move and weigh the pros and cons of a cross-country relocation with school-aged children. Talking, listening, discerning: it's the work of mindful living and it requires time and patience.

I took the opportunity to get to know L during her recent visit to Seattle, where her partner has been offered a job. We spent the day looking at neighborhoods, touring homes on the market with an agent, and enjoying relaxed fellowship over food and symphonic music at day's end.

It seems that in the unspoken words the crucial issues emerge. The need to be be recognized, acknowledged, considered, and valued in her own right, separate and equal to that of the candidate. Seeking a measure of empathy, compassion, and understanding.

Someone asked if my time with L had been a success. "Is she sold on Seattle? Is she OK with the move?" I painted the picture as I saw it and as Albert Einstein advised: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value.”

Monday, January 23, 2012

George and his daughter

His name was George. I loved him, yet, truth be told, it took me nearly a lifetime to express it kindly.

I could say more. Tonight it's enough to simply say I miss him.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

"Let me offer you a bit of advice"

During rehearsal this morning, our choir director asked for volunteers to lead a few songs, both requiring solo efforts. Not wanting to seem as though I did not at least hear her request, I waited a moment then said, "No thank you."

A few folks apparently thought that was humorous and one took me aside just before our worship service began. Virginia, 87, a quarter inch shy of 5', looked me straight in the eye: "In 1952, I was given firm instruction from a fellow army nurse and I've never forgotten it. 'Keep your mouth shut, your bowels open, and never volunteer.'"

I can't say it's my new mantra, but there may be a smidgen of wisdom there.

Friday, January 20, 2012

It's all in the genes

Dear Mom,

We've had a homebound week here in the Pacific Northwest with heavy snow and ice. Schools have been closed, roads are a mess, and power is out for thousands. We had plenty of forewarning about it, and being Jenny, well, let's just say I lined up our ducks sufficiently. We've been warm, well-stocked and able to get out as needed, thanks to the studded tires on our trusty van.

Josh accepted my invitation to play Scrabble on Wednesday night, and, as you might imagine, won handily. Last night we had a rematch and I fared no better. He crushed me with his stealth strategy and eagle-eye for mega-point turns and drew more than his fair share of good tiles. In short order, he quietly snuffed out my word-seeking light like an overzealous acolyte.

Mika said it wasn't kind of our son. Whatever. Let's just say that I'm Jeff Derick's sister and Marianne's daughter and I have plenty of experience in getting my a** kicked in Scrabble. When we were putting the game away, I found an old score sheet with your name on it. I've got to say, Mom, that it warmed my heart to see your name, handwriting, calculations, and editorial notation: you circled your opponent's final score and wrote Winner.

Now that's kindness!

I love you,

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Counting down the days

Juxtaposition: it's a marvelous thing. As in now vs. next week; snow/ice/freezing rain vs. sunny beaches/daily rainbows/guava sorbet; Seattle vs. Kauai.

Bathing suit? Goggles and fins? Itinerary? Check!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Preparedness, and then some

My dear friend, Annie, whom I've had the good fortune of knowing since 1986, published her first book recently. I've not read it yet from cover-to-cover, but I'm gonna thumb through it again today to see how well-prepared we are here at the Sinanan house as we get further buried under relentless snow.

It occurred to me this morning that our earthquake kits, a pair of deep containers of first-aid items, water, flashlights, food and more, were missing a critical item, and I'm not referring to chinese hot sauce, which would be among Mika's top-5.

Praise God that my brother-in-law, Mike, had the good sense to give me some dark chocolate during his recent visit. If I can keep myself from eating it today, it shall become the newest addition to our eclectic supplies. Dog and cat food, candles, space blanket, transistor radio; check; dark chocolate for me; check!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

In with a flurry; out with gratitude

Three men. Blood relatives connected through shared values, unconditional love, genetics, beards and more. And this year, on the day our nation honors the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King Jr, united in gratitude for the good outcome and quick release for Reilly, after a 24-hour medical event. Descending the escalator at UWMC with a cold ginger-ale in hand, Reilly leads his brother and father out of the hospital and back into their respective lives.

Test results and advice, some unsolicited, came in many forms. The most succinct and wisdom-infused I heard during the ordeal came from a telemetry unit technician, whose duties included hooking up and disconnecting patients from the wireless heart monitoring system. With the utmost respect, gentleness, tact, and grace, she completed her hands-on work then offered this: "Good-bye. Take care of yourself and enjoy."

Indeed. If we can heed that simple instruction, interpreted, applied and implemented each to our own, well then!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Love lessons

Through the seasons, year after year, this dear girl has graced our lives and made us a kinder, gentler and more loving family, one day at a time. Cats can do that, and this one, well, she's a zen master.

As a kitten, she followed Mika and "her" puppies on a walk one day and got separated from the gang. She didn't come home that night or the next. Miraculously, on day three, I found her a mile from home, hunkered down under a thorny shrub, meowing in reply to my persistent call. She's not wandered far since that day.

I'll never forget the time she got tangled in a bouquet of birthday balloons and took off through the house to get away from them, dragging the whole mess of helium-filled latex and ribbons behind her. My laughter made me pretty ineffective in rendering aid.

Despite it all, including a hard-to-define love affair with our dog, Eli, Delilah has been a sweetheart of a girl, and I love her oh so dearly. She's got some new terrain to navigate now, and it means that we do too.

So Del, let me just say this: You are a blessing to us and we are better people because of you.

P.S. About that ceiling fan in the master bedroom. We're pleased as punch that you finally came back upstairs. We prefer it. Yes we do.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The passage of time

“The moon and sun are travelers through eternity. Even the years wander on. Whether drifting through life on a boat or climbing toward old age leading a horse, each day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”


Friday, January 13, 2012

A defined arm

shape (shp)
a. The characteristic surface configuration of a thing; an outline or contour. See Synonyms at form.
b. Something distinguished from its surroundings by its outline.
2. The contour of a person's body; the figure.
a. A definite distinctive form: "The bomb gave the shape of life, outer and inner, an irreversible charge; a sense of fatefulness would now lie on all things" (Alfred Kazin).
b. A desirable form: a fabric that holds its shape.
4. A form or condition in which something may exist or appear; embodiment: a god in the shape of a swan.
5. Assumed or false appearance; guise.
6. A ghostly form; a phantom.
7. Something, such as a mold or pattern, used to give or determine form.
8. The proper condition of something necessary for action, effectiveness, or use: an athlete in excellent shape.
v. shaped, shap·ing, shapes
1. To give a particular form to; create.
2. To cause to conform to a particular form or pattern; adapt to fit.
a. To plan to bring about the realization or accomplishment of; devise.
b. To embody in a definite form: shaped a folk legend into a full-scale opera.
a. To adapt to a particular use or purpose; adjust.
b. To direct the course of: "He shaped history as well as being shaped by it" (Robert J. Samuelson).
1. To come to pass; happen.
2. To take on a definite shape or form. Often used with up or into.
Phrasal Verb:
shape up
1. Informal To turn out; develop.
2. To improve so as to meet a standard: Either shape up or ship out.

Not exactly the haiku of definitions, but certainly fun to ponder. I'm going for #4: godliness with wings.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

First grade wisdom

During reading groups today, a few students and I were discussing different types of homes as part of our exploration of a non-fiction book. The small early reader had pictures of all sorts of homes: houses close together; houses far apart; skyscrapers, mobile homes, houseboats, tents, homes on stilts, apartments, huts and so on.

When I asked a few questions about the different types of homes they knew about, one young girl took the lead. "Igloos! And nursing homes." Brilliant, really, and so eclectic! Then others added more.

One child had yet to offer an idea, and so I attempted to draw him in. "Brendan, how 'bout you?" Head at an angle, as if pondering the question with great concentration, he offered, "I'm just a first grader, and uhm, I'm kinda new around here."

And then, as if a brisk wind blew through and he found a fresh idea, he lit up and smiled. "Yogurts! I mean yurts!"

First graders; they're the best!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Open for interpretation

Snakes- Beware of humans.
Humans- Signal your intention when changing lanes.
Dashed lines- Don't box us in!

Los turistas tengan cuidado: Constrictor precaución en general!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Recollections of inversion

There was a time in my life, say, between 10-12 years of age, when I spent more time inverted than upright. Like so many children of my generation, I caught the 'upside down bug' from those days at the neighborhood pool or closest water hole, standing on my hands under water and perfecting the pointed toes and alignment as if my life depended on it. Backbends and handsprings soon followed, and then there were those long summers of trying to achieve the elusive walkover.

During my martial arts years, beginning around my 36th birthday, I rediscovered the joy of inversion, often making time to stand on my head after a sweaty workout. These days, I prefer well-supported postures, whether vertical, horizontal, inverted or otherwise.

I've got to say, though, that the photo inspires me. If I can get my feet up there, not to mention the other critical body parts, I just might try this again sometime. With a firm wall, a prayer, and spotters of course!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Meet Chloe!

Sara and Matt welcomed their infant daughter, Chloe Maria, into the world in the early morning hours today, with love and abundant joy.

Welcome to our family, Chloe. We are thrilled you have arrived!

Friday, January 6, 2012

A long-term deployment on the homefront

The countdown is on. Our oldest nephew, Matt, at left with fellow soldiers in Afghanistan, is mere hours away from a decidedly new tour of duty: parenthood. His wife, Sara, whom he met while deployed last year, is poised to give birth in Tennessee, a world away from her family in Sweden.

Matt and his father, Art (my brother-in-law), are at-the-ready, waiting to welcome the baby and share their family pride with the world. My dear sister, Melinda, making her grandmotherly debut, has prepared a boat load of healthy food to nourish Sara and Matt in the days and weeks ahead.

Come hither, dear one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Miss Delilah Lopez, AKA The Beast, The Cat, or simply Del, has an appointment today to see the vet, an outing she will no doubt dislike in large measure. As I attempt to post this short note, she is climbing into my lap, suggesting rather convincingly that I should avail myself fully to her, which of course I shall do.

Over and out. Now.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Got a dollar?

My dear spouse called me at home today to inquire about the availability of mobile foot massage. I had to admit I didn't know of anyone who offered that service, but I've got to say, he stumbled on a brainchild of an idea. I mean c'mon, if you could score a foot massage by summoning a mobile unit to your workplace, wouldn't you go for it?

Bowen Island resident, Milo, a young entrepreneur with an artist's touch, has his own unique service. The handmade sign, complete with careful script, accurate spelling and appealing graphics, is inspiration enough to make me want to adopt some scaly creatures just so I can meet the little bugger, I mean kid.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A woman of joy

Two short years ago, Mika, Reilly and I had the good fortune of vacationing in Maui at the same time as Faith and Viyda, who stayed just down the road from our place in Napili Bay. We savored it all, from daily gelato consumption to a sailing excursion aboard the America II, a 1987 America's Cup challenger.

Though the blueberry-mask facials we shared at our condo were certainly memorable, the day trip in search of the elusive guava took top honors. Public and private land were not off limits to this gang, and though it seemed we might get bitten by a dog or worse, we scored nearly 2 dozen ripe guava.

Faith treated herself to a cool-down dip in a mountain stream in the scenic Iao Valley; the only one in our party to do so. It's one of my favorite memories of her: determined, effusive, persuasive, and happy as a lark.

I miss this woman with all my heart. When we travel to Kauai in a few short weeks, I have no doubt that Faith will be there to greet us.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Pink sky in morning, ...

My brother-in-law Phil used to say that I read too much into most things and projected my own issues onto others. Perhaps he was on to something. I'll be the first to tell you I am flummoxed by multiple choice tests and am stellar at selecting the second best answer. "Well, the presence of a fever could mean ..., though it's not usually present with ..."

And then there are omens, signs of things to come, heralding change. Is it simply my perspective? When I saw the sunrise this morning, it seemed quite clear that the day held unlimited possibilities far beyond the common belief of impending high winds.

I welcome it all, for if I resist it, then what?

Sunday, January 1, 2012


I have an uncanny ability to find unusual stones. Sometimes it's as simple as looking down. But I have long loved the sensory pleasure of sifting, digging, and sorting; it's one of my favorite past-times. Yesterday I headed for the beach on Bowen Bay with dogs in tow and was dragged to the water's edge by their shared enthusiasm. And it was there that I found a rather oddly shaped smooth, blue gem, glistening in the low tidal zone.

As I picked it up I knew it was a gift and I understood immediately that the gift lay in the giving.

A young child approached holding a woman's hand and we shared New Year's Eve greetings and smiles. I extended my hand and opened my palm and offered the beach glass to the girl. Her gratitude and thanks ran deep. It was such a small item, but the young girl was overwhelmed with delight and continued to offer sincere thanks from a place deep within.

Later that day, our paths crossed again in a lovely shop filled with hand-made treasures. Young Gigi was so delighted to see me she leaned in and wrapped her arms around my hips. Wow. Rippling gratitude; mutual joy; pure, unblemished delight.

From one hand to another, a small piece of glass was passed. Its value was not measured nor qualified. The gifting; ah, the gesture itself; its value akin to gold.

"A gift, with a kind countenance, is a double present." ~ Thomas Fuller