THERE IS A HARMONY IN AUTUMN, AND A LUSTER IN ITS SKY….

…so said Percy Bysshe Shelley, to which I add the ghosts of summer just past; one full of beauty, drama, sunshine, and tumultuous events that we, in the computer age, cannot escape. It’s almost too much for one small human to absorb. So, one at a time I shall tick off the weeks since June with short tales of my summer explorations.

Let’s start August 7 with a husky hike around Mt. Baker the first day and the ridge around Damfino Lake the next. During this time we stayed at our favorite campground, Silver Fir.

My friend, Jon Pollack, and I had taken a big chance on this weekend, for heavy rain was predicted. Guess what? It couldn’t have been more glorious. Sunshine in the morning over the Nooksack River next to our campsite and clear skies for three days. Hallelujah! We were so sure of possible rain that we even visited Artist Point the night before the hike, just so we could see it in good weather. And we took photos where I had stood next to the snowbank on two previous years. This was the first time in three years that Ptarmigan Ridge wasn’t covered with ice and snow! It was also very interesting that on our way to the climb we encountered more than 65 cyclists heading up the mountain road…laboriously! They, too, were enjoying the balmy weather.

Follow us as we leave from the Austin Pass Visitor Center to the Chain Lakes Loop, which includes Bagley Lake, Herman saddle, Hayes Lake (lunch), Mazama Lake, and Iceberg Lake. This is the first year Iceberg hasn’t been frozen during the summer months…rather worrisome to those who depend on snow melt for water. In fact, we were appalled at the way the lakes had receded this past year.

We continued on around Ptarmigan Ridge, encircling Table Mountain and making our way over the Wild Good Trail. Once at the visitor’s area we walked the two miles downhill to our car through the woods by way of a steep trail of wooden logs. That was the scariest part of the trip for me!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

TECHNOLOGY! TECHNOLOGY! TECHNOLOGY!

How many people over 65 (and that includes me) are roaming around the halls of mental asylums, clicking on every doorknob and cutting and pasting their inmates as they search for old photographs and lost documents, repeating, hysterically, pdf. mpf, hypertext,.doc.? I have come up with a solution: a new organization,Technology Anonymous for  Technotards (TAT). It may not sound politically correct, but it will save your sanity. Who would like to join me? It meets every Wednesday at 6 PM at the Langley Marina on Puget Sound. Come dressed in your diving gear. It will be a long, dark night, but it sure beats Bedlam.

All of which is to announce that at long last I have had my website upgraded with new photos, incredible insights (just ask my children if you don’t believe it), and a clickable map of my travels that exhausts even me. It will be launched by the middle of May (cross your fingers), so watch for it! If my erstwhile webmaster, Matt McDowell (www.screenthumb.com), survives the ordeal, he has very kindly agreed to be the premier advisor to TAT. That’s the first split infinitive I’ve used in years, but Matt deserves it!

As a heralding of spring I want to share this beautiful African lily, the rare yellow clivia, which my son, Tom, brought me a few weeks ago when he moved to Langley. And there is another orange one just getting ready to bloom. Doesn’t it make you want to dance? P1070339 On the first day of March, Jon Pollack and I celebrated the beginning of the hiking season with a day trip to Park Forest near Eatonville. We were accompanied by old friends, the prolific historical writer, Dennis Larsen (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3EyST-P4BU), and his wife, Pat Ziobron. Mt. Rainier was overpowering, with views all along the trail. I was unable to get a photo on the winding road back, but I did catch some beautiful shots at the marina in Tacoma near where Jon lives.

P1070297

The closer you get the more beautiful it is!

P1070291 Life continues in Langley, with enthusiastic Art Walks, excellent theater–a superb production of Other Desert Cities by Jon Robin Baitz–and an original musical, Pasture-ized, by Whidbey’s own Ken Merrell and Eileen Soskin, which could well start, immediately, Off-Broadway. And, of course, volunteering in the garden is in full sway as the fresh produce has returned in abundance, thanks to the tireless work of the garden experts  and their apprentices. I haven’t forgotten about Yolmo/Helambu. Just had a little detour, but it’s on its way….

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

THE SUN IS SHINING, MT. BAKER IS SMILING…

…and all’s right with the world! I must say that I miss the snow from “back home,” but there are some who say it’s overkill, and admonish me to be happy with my 55 degrees and enjoy the early spring! It’s hard for me to believe that the flowering trees are already pink and white and the rhododendrons are out. But what amazes me even more is the grass, which has been green all winter, and is now being cut on a regular basis.

I walked along the beach last evening…two blocks down the hill from me…and here’s what my iPhone saw. It’s not a fancy camera so you’ll have to imagine the soft pinks and coral shadings on the mountains.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Now to continue my trek in the Yolmo/Helambu region before I head out for a new hiking season in the Cascades. “Catch up” is my standing New Year’s resolution.

How exciting it was to wake up and see blue sky after all that rain! But there was still too much snow and ice on Ama Yangri to attempt a one-day climb, so down the strenuous path we headed to the river and ate lunch at the River View Lodge. In some of the villages we saw on our descent, Cary showed us where many small apple trees were being planted on the terraces, as part of a new agricultural program in Nepal. We also passed many very old mani walls and chortens nestled in the forest. There is a very strong Buddhist presence in this area, since the Yolmo people migrated from Tibet in the 18th century and intermarried with the local Tamang, Rei, and Sherpa people.

After lunch we climbed up a steep, rocky trail for three hours, reaching our guest house, the Himalaya Lama Lodge, in late afternoon. It was three hours of relentless scrambling through dense forest, with a few switchbacks over a newly constructed and very elemental road.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

During the night it rained, but there was a magical sunrise the next morning in time for our exploration of Upper Melamchi and its sacred caves. Next time: the end of the trip and our return to Boudhanath.

Leave a comment

Filed under Nepal, Uncategorized, Whidbey Island

HOORAY FOR THE VOTERS OF DELHI!

I interrupt my climb in Nepal to report some really good news out of Delhi, India. The man who captivated and warmed the hearts of all Indians (including me, a non-Indian), who were eager to end corruption in their homeland and city, just won a landslide victory in the state of Delhi. His name is Arvind Kejriwal.

Last year I wrote about his anti-corruption campaign in Delhi and how he seemed to be the man on the white horse to lead India into a new era of honesty and accountability. He stuck his neck out, founded the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and was elected Chief Minister of Delhi …just as I was visiting India. I read about him in every possible Indian newspaper as well as The New Yorker (to which I’m addicted). I listened to his acceptance speech on TV when I stopped for lunch on the way back to Delhi (and watched the monkeys cavorting by the roadside), where he even went into a kind of Indian rap-singing that tickled me. He was so unconventional, such a breath of fresh air, tinged with the over-the-top social activism that seems doomed to failure. Well, he didn’t last long as you can read from link  below.

But, Saints preserve us, he is back! And big! Take a look and, with me, rejoice in the fact that progress can be made even under the most corrupt, intrenched circumstances.

I just wanted to share this link with you.  http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-31294500

And here’s another just in. Three cheers for the wife! It’s so great to see the changes that are going on in India and the world.  http://qz.com/342471/why-kejriwal-embracing-his-wife-is-as-important-as-the-modi-obama-hug/

One more note of optimism (Isn’t it wonderful when we find them?) is the movie, Selma, which I just saw. I lived through that era in the civil rights struggle, as many of you did, and I wept and I cheered for the brave people who led the way in this mighty struggle. It’s a beautifully crafted movie and well worth seeing.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

IT’S 2015, I’M BACK FROM INDIA AND NEPAL, AND I’M STILL ALIVE…

…despite the grueling 20 hours from Delhi to Amsterdam to Seattle, sitting bolt upright while watching movies I’d never think of paying to see, in the hopes that they’d put me to sleep. Dream on, Meg, which was the only dreaming I did! I survived the interminable security checks and tortoise-like behavior of unsmiling customs and passport personnel, the incredibly awful food (Weight Watchers take note…there may be a solution you’re missing), and the even worse jetlag upon returning that I can’t seem to lick no matter how many times I travel to Asia.

I will say that Cary and I lucked out on the way over just before Thanksgiving, when an almost empty Delta flight on the Amsterdam leg allowed us each a row of seats in which to lie down. And on the way back we perfected a procedure to get priority seating and circumvent the mile-long waiting lines at the terminal. “Just use your old lady routine, Mom. Puleeze? And try to look a little frail.” It worked, but I still feel guilty. It’s Cary, however, who will suffer the demerits in the next life, for it was her idea. I’ve been told, not always subtly, that I’m verbose at times, and admonished to start at the end of the story…to keep the reader from lapsing into a coma.

I have taken this advice to heart so will treat you to the final leg of my recent trip, starting at the  Shechen Guest House in Boudhanath near Kathmandu and into the glorious Yolmo/Helambu region of Nepal. This was the trip I missed last year when I injured my knee in Bhutan. Poinsettias abound at the Shechen Guest House in Boudhanath, just in time for Christmas!

P1070180 P1060404

Before I start I must say a word about our flight on Jet Airways from Delhi to Kathmandu. After all the terrible things I’ve said about the food on our other flights, this was a radical change. The minute the door closed several well-groomed stewards raced down the aisle waving Carlsberg beer (in India?). Then followed a full meal, good curd, and real chocolate pudding. All in the space of an hour. As we left the plane Cary said to the smiling stewards, “After watching you sprint for the last hour, I wonder if you’ve ever thought of trying out for the Olympics.”

You’d think after twenty-eight years of bumping around Nepal in buses and cars of questionable quality I’d say “Enough already,” but hope springs eternal and every year a few more roads are surfaced that were, previously, back-breakers. And every year I get older and become more adept at holding myself up off the seats just high enough that I don’t bang my head on the roof. I also was lucky to drive in a larger car that had handholds above the doors, and not a bus.

I can’t believe that after I touted the warm sunny weather in Nepal it should start to rain on the first day of our departure for the tiny village of Tarkye Gang, where we were to begin trekking. There was even fresh snow on Mustang and the surrounding mountains. But after all, you say, it IS December in Nepal…and you would be right.

Our driver from Boudha to Tarkye Gang, a matter of only 77 miles that took over five hours, was a radiantly cheerful fellow who didn’t seem to mind the road conditions. He drove a Nissan four-wheel drive, where in order to get all four wheels engaged, he had to stop the car, get out and lock the front wheels. This occurred several times when we got stuck in the mud on steep inclines. What a hassle! But nothing seemed to faze him!

P1060530 P1060492 He informed us that he was taking the lower road through Bhaktapur and Dhulikhel, because the roads higher up (which we took on our return trip) were too perilous in this weather. Worse than these? How is that possible?

Our first stop was for breakfast at an open-air restaurant filled with men. Everyone had long skinny loaves of bread that looked like pastry, and, as local custom would have it, they were dipping them into their tea. I asked Ram if I could have some eggs and coffee and while he was scrambling to find some, we decided to try our hand at the bread dipping…carefully. Soon we were encircled by flakes of pastry, which filled the table and spilled onto the floor. What were we doing wrong? Nobody else was making such a mess. Fortunately, birds came to our rescue and cleaned it all up. We were perched on the edge of a cliff and by the number of cartons of empty whiskey bottles piled high outside, I’d say this was a very popular hangout.

The weather worsened as we drove higher, but we could see the outline of the mountains and the neatly terraced fields through the mist.

P1060515 P1060487 P1060526 P1060518 When we took time out for lunch at Thimbu we noticed a bus struggling around the corner below us. How it had navigated over the narrow track and avoided going over the cliff amazed me. The driver had to stop in town and turn around. That’s as far as he dared go. When the locals had boarded, the bus slowly made its way back down the slippery mud and rocks that served as a road. We watched incredulously.

P1060497 P1060493 Fun on the way down….

P1060762 Pictures cannot do justice to these roads! You have to feel them, experience them. Several times I was sure we’d have to get out and push. Fortunately, the rocks helped stop the spinning wheels whenever we’d slide backward. It would be several days before any bus could pass.

This was especially poignant when we discovered that an Indian wedding was in full swing when we arrived at our proposed guesthouse in the small village of Tarkye Gang. All the guests would have to negotiate that road by foot down to Thimbu the next day. But nobody seemed to care. They were eating and drinking, toasting and dancing, and immediately invited us to share in the festivities, which continued until 3 AM. We were touched by their hospitality, but declined. The celebration would have to continue without us.

Our new guesthouse was a treasure: a large dining/kitchen area, an open stairway that led to several bedrooms, and a Western toilet (hurray!). There is no central heating in any of the places we stayed, so it was great to sit near the fire in the  dining area and get out of the incessant rain.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The next morning we awoke to clear skies, but were admonished not to climb Ama Yangri, our goal for the day, because of heavy snow and ice. It is a sacred mountain and considered the female protector of this area, dedicated to contemplation and reflection.  Cary had climbed it last year and wanted to share the experience with me. This was a big disappointment for both of us. The swings in the weather were such that by midday the sun was so hot that we had to climb in shirt sleeves. It took us seven hours to reach our destiny, a picturesque farming community high in the mountains.

Starting out in the morning

Starting out in the morning

IMG_6781

A preview of tomorrow's climb!

A preview of tomorrow’s climb!

Yet to come…photos of our climb and our day in Upper Melamchi. Stay tuned….

3 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

HOLIDAY GREETINGS FROM SUNNY NEPAL!

In all the years I’ve been traveling to Asia I’ve never had a November and December like this one! Who needs Miami Beach or Mexico when you can leave the cold and rain and wind of the Northwest and bask in the midday sun of northern India (try 70 degrees for starters), followed by crisp nights in an environment of hospitality with new and old friends? Add to that the ever-present mountains beckoning,  and you  have a recipe for heaven on earth.

Daughter Cary and I arrived in Kathmandu and are staying in our favorite haunt, the Shechen Guest House in Boudhanath, until tomorrow, when we leave at dawn for a six-day trek in the Yolmo/Helambu area of the Nepalese Himalaya. Our guide will be the reliable Ram Rai, one of our favorite sirdars working for Jawalant Gurung, who is a long-time friend and owner of Crystal Mountain Treks. Jawalant also leads a climb up Mt. Rainier in Washington State every spring, which raises substantial funds for a school and orphanage in Kathmandu. In future blogs I will write about his work as well as that of several other individuals I’ve become acquainted with over the past three weeks.

The number of internet cafes has dwindled in India and Nepal, due to the rise in cell phone and iPad use. Since I travel with neither device and put my energy  into photography and journaling, I plan to write a lengthy report with a slide show when I return in late December. It will be my Christmas card to all of you! As always, I am asking for your patience. Be prepared for a whirlwind trip, starting on November 26th on Delta Airlines through Amsterdam to Delhi. From there we journeyed to Dharamsala for a three-day teaching by the Dalai Lama at the Namgyal Temple. A rather comic aside, now that I’ve had time to be compassionate about it, is that my new leather sneakers were stolen outside the teachings on the second day, leaving me in stocking feet with only heavy hiking boots for solace. Every year that I come, I laugh at the sign outside the main temple which declares: Be sure that your shoes are not stolen by someone! Well, when it happens it’s not so funny, especially when you can’t find that elusive “someone,” but I did get t0 know some pretty nice security personnel as I sat and looked at their surveillance video for an hour. Unfortunately, the only camera that didn’t work was the one trained on the room where I sat. Go figure.

From Dharamsala we  went to the TCV (Tibetan Children’s Village) school in Suja, where our sponsored Tibetan refugee students greeted us eagerly, visited in neighboring Bir, then on the the holy city of Tso Pema (the India Rewalsar), where I got my initial baptism post surgery in steep scrambling by walking to the caves above the huge statue of Guru Rinpoche. As they love to say in Asia, “No problem.”

On our way back to Delhi, we stopped in the bustling town of Una to visit Sunny Farms, a company Cary had discovered online that specializes in organic soil amendments, using seaweed, cow manure, and vermicompost. Nobody beats the hospitality of the Dubey family. They shared their work with us, and acquainted us with the surrounding farms and an amazing shed where they house, feed and care for hundreds of stray cows picked up from the streets, and from which they obtain the useful fertilizer. Add to this an overnight at their beautiful home with wonderful Indian cuisine, and you’ll know why it was difficult to refuse their offer of a longer stay.

I’m writing this, laboriously, on the guest house internet, which, like so much of Nepal, has problems with electricity. Twice a day the current goes out for four hours, but supposedly it is on now. Even with saving as a draft, this is my fourth rewrite. Is it any wonder that I wait until I return home to continue my adventures?

You may be interested to know that we just enjoyed our first raw salad in Nepal. It has been a no-no for so many years that it’s wonderful to find a place like this guest house where they have clean fresh produce. In fact, there is lettuce growing like a decorative plant between the shrubbery around the border of the dining area.

Now it’s time to put on the sunscreen and wander to town for a last kora around the Boudha Stupa.

2 Comments

Filed under Nepal

“YOU’RE GOOD TO GO, MEG….SEE YOU IN TWO YEARS!”

How cool is that coming from the world’s best hip surgeon, Dr. James Pritchett of the Swedish Orthopedic Institute in Seattle?

I knew he was the doctor for me way back in June, shortly before my operation, when I asked him if he thought I could climb in the Himalayas by November.

“Why not?” he answered. And guess what, that’s exactly what I intend to do! (Stay tuned)

He did such a perfect job installing a ceramic ball and hammering some fearsome, fancy metal device into my femur, that I walked right through security three weeks ago on my visit to the East Coast and didn’t even set off the alarm. I fairly danced my way through two airports and arrived in Newark, bionic and elated, and ready to take on the Big Apple with a vengeance.

What you discover, as you tell every stranger in sight that you can squat like never before and run up flights of stairs like a gazelle, is that, if they don’t yawn and roll their eyes, 50% have had a similar operation and are eager to share their own success with you. Even the man operating the Xray machine in the Denver airport told of his numerous replaced joints. He did everything but show me his scars. It’s like a brand new fraternity/sorority that I’ve never experienced. Get a replacement—pick any limb—and you’ll find yourself in good company! Bravo for modern orthopedic medicine…and Dr. Pritchett.

My visit started with a whirlwind trip to Rhinecliff, NY, where two close friends, Louise Vitello and Richard Adams were married. What a gala celebration it was with three close families and their respective children enjoying the happiness of a very special couple. I danced for three hours to music that allowed me to show off my expertise in the Lindy, known in the “olden days” as jitterbugging. I think the grandchildren were impressed, which is always gratifying.

My daughter, Martha, whose house in Maplewood, NJ, had just been put on the market, left the next day for a month of teaching Hannah Somatics in England, whereupon I headed for NYCity.

Knowing my penchant for the theater, it won’t come as a surprise that I took in four shows, three while camping out at my buddy James Wilson’s pad in the West Village, and one with my old friend, Paul Sharar, from New Jersey. In all that time I made my way by subway and on foot. Not once did I use a taxi. A quick rundown includes the amazing Jefferson Mays in The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, where Mays plays seven parts. Totally fabulous! The inimitable Matilda, Roald Dahl’s story of every child’s nightmare. Fabulous as well. If/Then, a new musical that was a bit too predictable, but had good singing and dancing, and the long-awaited Indian Ink by one of my favorite playwrights, Tom Stoppard, starring Rosemary Harris and a marvelous young English actress, Romola Garai.

New York was lovely as it always is in autumn, and I was able to catch up with friends Jackie Herships, Grace Polk, and Barry Hamilton and enjoy strolling around what to me are still magical sections of the Village. I also spent a somber, thoughtful hour at the World Trade Center Memorial, now open so the public can enjoy the beautiful fountains and the new tower. The photos show some of the construction for the new subway station being built.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I cut my stay in the City short to head for Northfield, MA, with my sister, Cary Santoro, to visit my other sister, Anne Magill, before attending a memorial for a dear friend, Lynne Warrin. She and I had been friends for forty-five years and co-authored the play, Thank You, Dear, which was performed in Deerfield, MA. The loss of such a close friend is devastating, especially one who has been so instrumental in my work and has shared so many common interests in the field of summer camping, writing, education, and music. Lynne had been a longtime teacher at Eaglebrook School. Among her many students over the years was King Abdullah II of Jordan, whose country she had visited recently, as his guest.

Lynne Warrin, 1932-2014

Lynne Warrin, 1932-2014

After the memorial, Cary and I drove to our family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee near Alton, NH. We spent the evening around a blazing fire and left early the next morning just as the mist was rising from the dock and outlining the shoreline and distant islands. As we wended our way back home we experienced the turning of the leaves, that banquet of color that defines New England as it hunkers down for winter.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What better way to know that you’re back in the Northwest than to see Mt. Rainier looming on the horizon from the plane?

photo

Footnote: Lest I sell my home town short, let me say that there have been two superb productions in Langley over the past two months; one at the Outcast Theater which mounted the moving drama, Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me by Frank McGuinness, and the WICA (Whidbey Island Center for the Arts) production of the challenging Sondheim musical, Into The Woods. You couldn’t ask for better performances.

Jon Pollack, Christy Korrow (who, you may remember, went to Nepal with Cary and me two years ago and whose husband, Chris Korrow, has just completed a splendid documentary entitled, Dancing With Thoreau), and I are also availing ourselves of the several performances of operas streamed from the Metropolitan Opera in NYCity to Seattle theaters. It’s challenging, for it means an early ferry ride for us on Saturday morning, to catch a 1 PM matinee from New York. Jon, too, has a bit of a commute from Tacoma. But it’s worth it!

I’ve also become acquainted with gypsy jazz as I marveled at the DJANGO FEST NORTHWEST, which is held every year for a week in September. This is a style of music that was introduced by Django Reinhardt in the late 20’s and 30’s. Langley is besieged at this time by players from around the world. All day long you can hear musicians playing guitars, bass, fiddle, percussion, and wind instruments, as they serenade the public in every possible venue. And in the evening are the concerts at WICA. It opened a whole new world of music for me! 

Next up: Plans for a return to India, Nepal, and possibly Sikkim this November. And I haven’t forgotten about those photos of my Bhutan trip a year ago.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN, or, if you’re a purist, HAPPY ALL HALLOWS’ EVE!

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

MY ORCHID IS BLOOMING; THE SUN NEVER SEEMS TO SET; GARDENS ARE THRIVING; MID-SUMMER IS UPON US, AND EVERYONE IS GOING SWIMMING… BUT ME!        

Poor me. That’s what happens when you have a hip replaced during the height of vacation season. I’m chafing at the bit, but that’s my only complaint. I can do jumping jacks and climb the hills around town, and as soon as my scar is totally healed so you can drive a Mack truck over it, the doc says I can go into the water. And he’s some doc. That’s all I can’t do!

So I sit on my deck, when I’m not trudging to town for the mail, and admire the fir trees and the flowers—and Puget Sound and Mt. Baker. After a year my orchid plant bloomed and you’d think it was the Hope diamond. It was my first success ever, so don’t laugh.

P1050334  P1050332

Maybe I’ll take up horticulture. After seeing the botanical gardens of Sydney, Australia, and the national Kandawgyi orchid greenhouses in the Hill Station, Pin Oo Lwin, in Myanmar (2007), I’ve had a new appreciation of these exotic plants. Son Tom is an expert in the care and breeding and feeding of orchids, but only now that I’ve been on the sidelines have I been able to take the time to appreciate their beauty. It’s never too late….

This has also been a summer of wonderful theater: Oscar Wilde’s inimitable old chestnut, The Importance of Being Ernest, and two favorite Shakespeare plays, Taming of the Shrew and Richard III. All done in an open air settling reminiscent of the Central Park venue. Add to that concerts by the Whidbey Island Music Festival, specializing in early music played on authentic period instruments by artists from far and wide, and you know that I haven’t been languishing…swimming or no swimming!

I continue to struggle with the mysteries of computers and the intricacies of editing videos and photos…something that an eight-year-old would find amusing. I have, however, a computer guru, Steve Trembley, who not only understands technology, but can also play a mean guitar if his clients are driven to distraction. A superb musician with a technological bent…how lucky can I get?

Patience, my friend, patience!

So, for those of you who are familiar with the New Yorker cartoon that symbolizes my computer angst, or should I say rage, you’ll be glad to know that I’m growing out of it. Still, I keep it on my refrigerator to keep me humble.

Now, on to my birthday party, which I promised to share with you so long ago. I needn’t relate my age, for it’s all over the cake. I recall as a child that I couldn’t even count that high, but I was never good at math. More the artistic type who believed that age was simply a number that kept getting higher every year. Nice attitude, which grows more appealing all the time. I remember when I hit 40 and started counting backwards when my children asked my age. They, like me, were also not good at math.

Here are some photos taken by Wendy Ashford and Lee Compton, set up as a slide show, now that I’ve figured out how to make one. That only took me about a year! A second slide show has photos taken by son Robert during my birthday week. It was a great time, having my whole family join me on the island. We’re planning on making this a yearly affair. Unfortunately, I didn’t go on the zip line at the party this year, for my overbearing children were sure I’d shatter my hip before the doc could cut off my femur properly and install the new hardware. Isn’t it funny how roles change?

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ebey’s Landing, here we come! One of many such glorious walks on this island.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I’ve told you before, Whidbey abounds in art shows, poetry readings, musical events, and workshops of all kinds. It also has a very vital Buddhist sangha that has been having a celebration this past week. On the last day there is a festival and banquet called a tsok, or feast offering. I thought you all would enjoy seeing me being blessed by His Holiness Dodrupchen Rinpoche, considered by many to be enlightened at the same level as His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It’s my proof to my children that, in fact, I CAN behave!

RIMG2308

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

MY LIFE IS A JIGSAW PUZZLE. I’M PUTTING IT BACK TOGETHER, PIECE BY PIECE!

Did you ever feel splintered? Fragmented? With a little “How did this ever happen to a nice girl/boy like me?” thrown in? And I mean this turmoil occurs while you’re completely sober and mentally as clear-headed as if you were, once again, that beautiful 35-year-old, who managed a large house, five children and a heavy travel/teaching/writing schedule…to say nothing of all the cooking and cleaning and yard work that provided the down side to an otherwise very exciting life? (You may have guessed that 35 is the age at which I choose to float through eternity).

The fact that I have left you, my friends, dangling, picture-wise, about my trip to Bhutan last November-December, and my subsequent adventures in Nepal and India, can only attest to the confusing and rapid sequence of events that followed my decision to sell my house in Maplewood, NJ, divest myself of most worldly goods (except those love letters…give me a break…and curly-edged photographs that go in the stand- alone albums), drive my ailing Toyota cross country with son, Tom, who is still recovering, and plunk myself in the first apartment I’ve occupied in 62 years. Thank God for that view of Mt. Baker and Puget Sound! And the reasonable rent.

Yes, it so happened, I did find that there was life after Broadway and the Plainfield Symphony, and more nice people on Whidbey Island than even on the #1 train to Lincoln Center, but I was still a fish out of water. Then, as if to compound my ruminations/ wheel-spinning, about what I should or even want do next, I found myself facing up to where I am right now: the grateful recipient of a new hip, brought on by whatever happens when you beat your body up and down the mountains for 80 years. I dived into this experience with gusto, clearing the decks of all previous summer plans, and finding an adorable doctor at Swedish Hospital in Seattle, who, in 45 minutes, sawed off my leg, drilled a hole in my pelvis and hammered and screwed in a miraculous device which leaves me half-bionic, and sent me home the next day with no precautions (he knew it wouldn’t do any good, anyway). This is high-tech carpentry if I ever saw it, with a medical degree thrown in. And for those who may have hip or joint pain, it’s called a minimally-invasive anterior hip replacement. You can find a dandy video of the operation on YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jb2nq_jRwI Just don’t view it before dinner.

This all occurred less than three weeks ago and I am now walking around (carefully!), unaided, and looking forward to a return to the Himalayas in November. When I asked Dr. Pritchett if I could go, he answered, “Why not?”

So why am I disjointed (not meant as a pun)? I have children who have helped every step of the way, especially Cary, my eldest, who has been juggling six projects as she hovered over me like Nurse Nightingale, figuring pain dosages and exercises, and sleeping in my flat to make sure I didn’t wander onto the balcony and howl at the moon at midnight. And almost too many friends, who have brought food and overwhelmed me with kindness to the point where I was screaming for solitude. You know the feeling. And now I’m alone with my thoughts. God help me! No more pain medicine, not much pain, and all the time in the world to agonize.

Partial reason for this blood-letting: A new awakening. I have never felt so vulnerable. So at the mercy of “the kindness of others…not strangers.” Well, here’s a reliable fact of life for you, Meg. Things go wrong. But you’ve been pretty lucky in the past. You think you’re the only one who will live forever? Really? Good luck!

You’ll be glad to know that I’m now working on acceptance…an old Buddhist teaching, easier said than done. My, we do fight reality, don’t we?

I just read a book given to me by a friend in Seattle, Maria Semple’s Where’d You Go, Bernadette. It brought a smile to my face and lifted my spirits to know that I can find simpatico crazies here in the Northwest if I just put the pieces of the puzzle back together and open up a new space, free of the past and eager for the possibilities of the future.

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

YES, THERE ARE SOME SILVER LININGS….

Over the years I’ve written about individuals who spend their life creating and promoting projects that fly in the face of the nay-sayers who find little hope of repairing this shattered and divided world.

Here are two such individuals who have come to my attention recently. I urge you to read their stories. They’re a great antidote for pessimism.

I just saw the documentary, “Dancing in Jaffa,” Hilla Medalia’s charming movie telling the story of Paul Dulaine, head of the non-profit organization, Dancing Classrooms. Having been born in Jaffa to an Irish father and Palestinian mother (the family left in 1948), he returned to Israel in later life to try to instill mutual respect in 9 to 11-year-old Jewish and Palestinian Israelis through a 10-week course in the movements and courtesies of Latin dance.

Dulaine, four-time champion of international ballroom dancing competitions, was convinced that dance could bridge the divide between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, transforming long-held prejudices and turning wallflowers into confident teens in the process. In the movie, he instructs at five schools, some mainly Palestinian, some mainly Jewish, and one a blend of both. Though he admits to a particular concern for his Palestinian students (“I would like to give them a chance to better themselves”), he is equally firm and considerate with all his charges.

See the movie and you’ll be amazed and heartened by the outcome. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/11/movies/dancing-in-jaffa-a-documentary-by-hilla-medalia.html

 

Another individual, Harvey Price, (http://music.udel.edu/percussion/), assistant professor of music at the University of Delaware, was called to my attention by a fellow-percussionist and good friend, Phyllis Bitow.

His program is The Peace Drum Project, making peace in Galilee. http://peacedrumsproject.org/the-projects-start/

In 2007, Harvey Price formed three youth steel drum bands in Israel of primarily Jewish Ethiopian youths.  All three bands, under that Israeli teacher, are still going strong!

In 2011, the clergy of Delaware Churches for Middle East Peace and four Northern Delaware rabbis, Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist met to exchange views regarding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.  As a result, they began to explore how they might collaborate locally to promote peace in their shared Holy Land.

An interfaith committee was formed to involve youth in peacemaking. Mr. Price’s success with youth steel drum bands in Israel was brought to the committee’s attention and wholeheartedly embraced as a way to build trust and nurture peace among Jewish, Christian, and Muslim youth through teamwork and music.

The project was launched in October 2013 when Harvey Price and fellow enthusiasts traveled to Israel and delivered the first set of drums. Read about the various ways organizations and students have raised money for this project and listen to their playing! http://peacedrumsproject.org/steel-drum-students-learning-quickly/

As I wrote in my posting about Pete Seeger, he was another steel drum enthusiast, who believed that music was the way to bring people together and promote peace, and urged my husband, Glen Peterson, then President of Oscar Schmidt, Int’l, to make steel drums along with our autoharps and Orff percussion instruments. These drums were all the rage at that time in music education. It seems that they are now as popular as ever!

Langley has been beautiful this spring. Sunny and cool. All kinds of art exhibits are in progress as well as some wonderful plays. Two outstanding productions were: Good People by Davis Lindsay Abaire, a play I missed at the Manhattan Theater Club in NYC, and Our Town by Thornton Wilder, a production I last saw on Broadway with Spaulding Gray. I have not seen a better production and plan to see it a second time before it closes. I often usher at WICA (Whidbey Island Center for the Arts), where most dramatic productions take place. We have another smaller theater, The Outcast Theater, which is where Good People was mounted.

It’s amazing the talent that the South Island boasts. For a theater addict, this is, indeed, heartwarming.

My next blog will tell about my birthday party, but I’m still gathering photos, and getting used to being so old.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized