Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Searching for Noodles

Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life. - Eckhart Tolle

Despite my rather circumscribed life, I relish adding rich new experiences and small skills. An interest in Japanese cooking has long been lurking in the background of my cooking-mind. With the help of the local library and the Internet, I chose three simple recipes, all using the Japanese broth dashi. Miso Soup with Tofu, Cold Soba Noodles and Japanese Egg-Drop Soup would soon be a part of my repertory.

I consulted with a friend knowledgeable about Japanese food for the best local Asian Market. She immediately mentioned United Noodle in South Minneapolis. I was born and raised in South Minneapolis and, over-confident, did not research driving directions. I started out with my recipes and the happy anticipation of purchasing the unknowns of bunho (sheets of dried kelp), mirin (sweetened rice wine), dried bonita flakes, soba, (buckwheat noodles) and miso paste, as well as the more familiar tofu, snow peas and gingerroot.

I could not find United Noodle. It's in a semi-industrial area, crisscrossed by illogical main streets and a major highway. I felt confused and stressed, which I have learned is a signal to me that my endeavor will not succeed, and I need to just give it up for now.

Feeling very hungry, I came upon the Seward Cafe, one of the hangouts of my bohemian life of the 1970's. I was delighted to see the same organic/vegetarian menu and the same type of clientele, exuding the "question authority" attitude. It was a delight to see anti-war graffiti on the walls, yet with a core of sadness that the world hasn't learned its lessons yet.

I lunched marvelously on a falafel- and tabbouleh-filled warm pita, accented by hummus and some wonderful sauces for dipping, all to be scooped up with pita chips.

Tired, I headed for home and my sofa. I paused first to check online where exactly United Noodle is located. I never would have come across it without this explicit map and driving directions. Next time, I will be able to drive right to the "Noodle". Then, I believe I'll check out Seward Cafe's long-remembered Huevos Rancheros!

Saturday, July 16, 2005


"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." ~Joseph Campbell~

Patricia is proving to be a locator of resources for me. She has started the process of getting me into massage therapy at Courage Center. For the purpose of insurance approval, this will submitted as a method of pain control. In actuality, I am feeling a dearth of caring touch from another human being. I do get occasional hugs from friends and family. However, others are highly aware of the fragility of my bones, and the hugs are so light and fleeting as to leave my soul untouched.

I have lived alone for many years, but I am remembering now some occasions when touch and sleep have attached themselves to my emotional life.

I have a male cousin, a few years younger than myself, whose life was blighted early on by severe Type 1 diabetes, kidney failure and the need for dialysis. Whenever I went to visit the family, I would take special care to hug him thoroughly. One time he thanked me deeply for the hugs, saying that when you're always a patient, the hugs don't happen.

In my childhood, a beloved aunt would come to stay with us each winter for a few weeks. She would share my double bed, even though we were 60 years apart in age. Every night, we would lightly scratch each other's back and talk about so many things.

I was visiting a friend several years ago when I became very tired. I laid down for a nap on her sofa while she continued her sewing. It was such an unaccustomed, incredibly safe feeling to be falling asleep while she remained awake.

Somehow our modern, Western need for "personal space" is not natural. We are meant to live in groups, to give each other the nuturance of physical closeness. We are meant to sleep close together, for warmth, for protection from the dangers that exist outside of the light from the campfire.

At the least, I would wish for more hugs for those that need them.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Honoring Change

The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature. -- Unknown

About six weeks ago, my Red Hat Society chapter visited the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum (Linked), a 1700-acre treasure of natual beauty located on the eastern fringe of the Twin Cities. The mission of the Arboretum is to educate, develop new plant varieties for Minnesota's extreme climate and to give enjoyment to the public. There is an excellent Visitors Center and lunchroom, as well as a motorized tram, the "Trumpet Creeper", that takes visitors on a guided tour of the grounds.

I realized that day that, although I had been there 15 to 20 times in my life, my visits were at random seasons of the year. With all the changes and transitions in my life at this time, I made the decision to vist there monthly. I wish to witness and honor the changes that occur throughout each month of the year. My good friend, G, wished to experience this as well, and she will be my companion and helper during these visits.

Today the two of us met for an excellent lunch, then boarded the tram for the tour. There were so many more flowers in bloom than in late May, with the emphasis this year on the primary colors, plus orange. The smoke bushes were crowned with the hazy soft orange aureoles of their blooms. Many trees have started to develop their distinctive fruits, and I especially noted the chestnuts, the eucalyptus and the apricot trees.

I chose to "tune out" the tour leader's spoken words and focus instead on the different visual sensations, holding an attitude of peace, attending to the changes and letting the impressions float past me.

In contrast to the current rampant societal proclivity to violate and "use up" our earth, the Arboretum preserves and conserves these treasures of trees, bushes and plants. Their plans for development and enhancement reach far into the future.

We returned to the Visitors Center and enjoyed a cafe mocha and delicious muffins.

It was a terribly hot day, with temperatures varying around the 90-degree mark, and I am feeling quite physically depleted tonight. My heart is filled, however. Our next visit will be in mid-August. Link

Sunday, July 10, 2005

A Pure Space

"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself." --Anais Nin

I have had basically the same furniture for my entire 18 years in my home. While the pieces are comfortable and familiar, this place held a lot of painful emotions, anguish and tears in the past. I want to bring more peace and positive energy into my new personal sanctuary, with furniture spiritually clean and full of positive energy.

Therefore, I will be replacing my major pieces of furniture, and they will be of a smaller size. My new apartment will be 580 sq. ft., as opposed to my current 750 sq. ft. This will be entirely "do-able". Much of the difference is due to the much smaller kitchen space needed when in assisted living.

My long, long sofa and large chairs will be replaced by furniture more in tune with my 4', 7" height. My double bed will go, to be replaced with a youth-size bed. The large kitchen table will also go, as I'll only need a table for two.

But wonderful for me, I will be buying bookcases that will all match! My book-life has always been contained in various nicked and scratched, mis-matched bookcases. It was always a dream of mine to have a wall of books in magnificent matching cases lined up along a very long wall. After my downsizing, I will be able to do with four or five six-foot-tall bookcases. I may need to purchase them from Ikea, but they will all match!

The word has spread among my Jewish friends and acuquaintances here about my moving to Knollwood Place. One woman downstairs, Cindy, has been instructing me about the laws of Kasruth, or kosher cooking. It is really interesting, even though I will just be eating kosher, not cooking it. As it turns out, she will be a good resource if I should need to hire help in the run up to moving and later as I unpack. For several years she and a couple of friends had a small business called Rent-A-Yenta (I love the name!). She will be willing to help with whatever I need at an hourly rate.

I spend quite a bit of time lying on the sofa with my heated pillows, blanket and Jenny-Cat. I can be pain-free that way. It's also a place to just rest and connect with my body. Patricia used the term "sacred space" for my sofa. Somehow, naming it thus has made it more truly my place of peace and healing.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Personal Changes

Home is oneness, home is my original nature. It is right here, simply in what is. There is nowhere else I have to go, and nothing else I have to become. Tony Parsons

I've been absent from here for so long! I believe I have gone through a period of doing my "work" with emotions and physical action rather than words. My physical condition has deteriorated significantly. There has been pain, both in body and mind, as well as goodbyes a-plenty.

A new plan has evolved with my move to Knollwood Place. I will be relocating as soon as an apartment becomes available, probably sometime between September and November. A handyman will then come in to do the necessary repairs and renovation here, and my condo will go on the market. This plan was developed by my nephew, the realtor, as a way to avoid my having to stumble through the work-in-progress that my place will be.

My "downsizing" is proceeding in earnest, and I am humbly accepting the help of some good friends. My participation in the process must be strictly limited to sorting through a few boxes while giving instructions of "keep" or "that goes". I sometimes feel a curious vulnerability when allowing these trusted folks into the dusty minutiae of my personal belongings.

I said goodbye to my beloved therapist when she retired on May 31st. Of course it was a wrenching experience. However, there is strong potential for a deep and satisfying relationship with my new therapist, Patricia. She is a Buddhist, and our work will be both therapy and spiritual teaching.

She has already connected me with a local practitioner who teaches the program outlined in Jon Kabat-Zinn's Full-Catastrophe Living (linked). It was featured in Bill Moyers' Healing and the Mind. It is designed to help one deal with stress and pain without medication. I am already enrolled in the eight-week program beginning in September.

I just continue to breathe in, breathe out, let go and accept. Link

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