Thursday, February 28, 2013

Sharing space

During our recent travels to Kauai, I made some observations about personal space.  Air travel in particular requires immense patience at the best of times, but for those of us with a measure of claustrophobia, the inside of a crowded aircraft can surely ratchet up the stress.  I find it especially unsettling when I've taken my seat and the passengers just keep a'comin' on board in a steady stream, over-burdened with stuffed-to-the-gills carry-on items.

There are, of course, many places where I revisit space issues: yoga class, crowded crosswalks, grocery aisles, swimming pools, freeways, classrooms, and even inside the domain of my own home.  Yet I like to believe I'm fairly practiced in extending grace and in claiming my own personal space and being mindful of the difference.  

Today I had the opportunity to test that theory.  A gentleman was using the deep end of the pool when the guard set up additional lap lanes around him.  I slipped in the opposite end and began swimming laps.  We met up at the shallow end and I lifted my head and asked, "Would you like to split the lane?"  Common practice, fairly straightforward, right?  He replied that he was almost done and would be leaving soon, adding, "I'll just stay out of your way."  I felt awkward; had I bulldozed this man's space?  Intellectually, I thought I'd been civil.  But his response lead me to think that I was claiming space and he would yield no matter where I placed myself.  He hadn't said that, but it's what I surmised.  

What happened next was this.  We ceased swimming and just talked.  The goggles came off.  It was more than civil; it was downright friendly stuff.  After a few minutes he shared his name, asked mine, and extended his hand.  He claimed his space, I claimed mine, and we bridged that narrow place between us with a simple handshake.

Personal space, hospitality, grace.  Simple stuff.  And yet, I'd wager, a work in progress for us all.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Humpback heaven!

Breaching calf off the Na Pali Coast, Kauai
More marvelous displays of joy.

His grand finale!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Be where you are

Keoneola Bay, Kauai.
Back in the 70s when I lived in Maryland, I was heading north via train one winter morning, returning to college in Vermont.  Construction in Baltimore's Penn Station created confusion for travelers and that dreaded outcome-- the one we all hope never happens-- in fact, came true.  I, and a few dozen others, found myself southbound when the conductor welcomed us aboard a good twenty minutes into the journey.

I suppose in the big scheme of things it could have been much worse; it was a train, not a ship or a plane, and those of us temporarily misdirected were soon zipping along the rails to our northern destinations.

So I was a tad concerned when we our flight landed this week and after logging on to my laptop, was informed by my super-intelligent MacBook that we were in Taipei.  Let me back up a little.  The date/time feature alerted me that Taipei was the closest city.  Though I hold no advanced degree, I did pay attention in high school geography class (that's another story entirely), and I was fairly confident Honolulu, for example, might be considered 'the closest city'. 

Resourceful girl that I am, I asked my highly-educated dear spouse what time his super-intelligent MacBook 'thought' it was, and all was cool for him.   Which reminded me that in December while savoring winter peace on Bowen Island, my SIMB revealed the closest city to be Nunavut.  Say what?

So for the record, folks, listen up.  I am in Koloa, Kauai, and though Taipei sounds nice enough, I ain't there.  And I'm quite certain about that.           

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Observing routine

The labyrinth on Bowen Island.
Richard lived in our neighborhood for 13 years.  He was a walker, out early most days, swinging a stick in his right hand and flipping it with ease, which seemed to ensure his hands were busy, or at least one of them.  But more memorable than his trademark stick were his keen observations.  Anything out of the ordinary caught his eye and he was driven to follow through with some sort of investigation.

I share some of Richard's quirks, but I also take comfort in the steadiness of the familiar: the predictability of my neighbors and the habits that rule their lives.  Take the Peppers.  Once again, they have their beloved Duke Blue Devils flag flying today, now that the NCAA basketball season is approaching tournament stage.  Paul and Than have just uncovered their exotic trees from Vietnam, apparently confident the temps are on the rise from this point forward.  Sock has been whacking golf balls each evening into a backyard tee and net contraption; the green-thumbed gardeners, Mike and Les, have resumed digging on Sundays accompanied by NPR programming.

What might they say about us?  Forever walking their dogs in any and all weather; heading up the street at 0430 for the pool before work; recipients of massive amounts of wood chips each spring to do God knows what with.  Are there kindnesses involved?  Gratitude for civility?  Compassion for the private losses and misfortunes lived out behind closed doors?

Walking is a window for Richard and me.  It's a physical act of head clearing, a time for connecting the dots, formulating questions, and, if we're lucky, accessing joy.  Through the seasons.  Predictably!  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The grandness of small things

A slant of sun on a snowy canvas.

Oh how glorious is the silence I hear.  How it stills my heart, slows my breath, and restores me.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Josh's guiding tenets, age 10, with #5 inserted by his brother, Reilly.

In late November, I posted a story about Ida, a petite woman of 80-something who I occasionally see in Lynnwood where our activities intersect.  Today when we met, she was sporting a warm hat and a golden tan, having just returned from the big island where her son lives.  "Aren't you the one who helped me fish my keys out, dear?", she asked, recalling that late autumn day when I found her perched atop a grocery cart to give her a height advantage in a troublesome circumstance.

Today she was most enthused about getting back to her routine here at home: resuming the class she teaches at the Senior Center, recycling her newspapers, and shopping for fresh items at Fred Meyer.  And of course, waxing poetic in her thick German accent about her blessed life.  

While in the Kona area on holiday, as they say in Canada and those civilized EU countries, Ida hiked high above the pristine waters, "watching for whale spouts and climbing on all fours."  She elaborated with great gusto, but I admit I only understood portions.  But I got the joy; yeah, I got the joy!  

Dear, sweet Ida.  Going for broke in all things bright, beautiful and in between.  Let me add to Josh's list as Reilly did so many years ago.  #6. Spread your light.  

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A balm for February: Delilah!

Perseverance has many facets, the least of which could be labeled simply 'open your eyes'.  If you don't know her, meet Miss Delilah Lopez, fondly known around our house as Del.  She's been our dear girl since September 2000, when we brought her home after a year of being catless.  She had us trained in no time.

Her nicknames, Miss Sanitary, a tribute to her fixation with Kleenex boxes, and The Beast, Mika's favorite (God knows why), do not pay proper homage to her legendary status.  Truth be told, she's the sweetest cat I've ever known.  

The tuft of raised fur you see on her hip is in fact a baseball sized tumor.  Fortunately for her and for us, it has grown outward rather than in, so as to redefine her darling figure but not interfere too much with her feline functions.  Eating?  Check.  Eliminating in the proper places?  Check.  Grooming?  See for yourself.  Wrestling with Eli?  If she must, for God's sake!  Offering the gentlest of sandpaper kisses?  Oh yeah; more than ever.

Perseverance seems to be her guiding mantra.  And we too, shall follow suit.