Thursday, April 28, 2011

Boquete flower gardens, coffee, misc

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On the way to the flower gardens
After we left the Rio Crystal lodge (sniff!), we drove toward the Boquete flower gardens. The most beautiful, I thought were the private gardens of the home Villa Marta. They belong to the people who own the house. They actually cultivated the whole area and opened them to the public. It's free and gorgeous! They do have timings and I don't quite remember them. They request that you not be loud, step in restricted areas and attempt to feed the fish and birds. They have these little ponds and pools where you have fish, swans and ducks. The kids just ran round and round trying to find one more "coloured fish". Our way to Villa Marta was no less beautiful. Full of coffee plantations. Boquete grows some of the best coffee in the world. It was all on the border with Costa Rica. So it was funny to see the plantations stretching all the way into the other country.

The rock formation
When we drove back from Villa Marta, there was this curious rock formation. The kids tried to climb it and I don't believe that they could get much of a grip. Of course, it was vertical! No slopes or anything.



Villa Marta as we went in

Entrance



There were fishes in there.
Most enchanting few days I'd had in a long time. I'd go back there in a heartbeat!

More pics in my next post.

Boquete zip lining heaven!

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After the white water rafting, we headed back to the Boquete Garden Inn. I was so sad to be leaving that place. Particularly since I had barely spent enough time (in my book) looking at every naturally flowering corner. We were all in for another gorgeous treat though. We just didn't know it yet!

View from our cabin in the Rio Crystal lodge
Driving up a few miles of lush rainforest, we headed higher to the Rio Crystal mountain lodge. It was absolute rainforest paradise. The weather is cool and moist. When we arrived, the mountains were dressed in a low fog. You could almost touch it. Ethereal. Again, the log cabins there are built unobtrusively. Spaced well apart and private, the interiors are clean and cozy. Smells wonderful too! Mini-Him and his friend had a field day running up the stairs to the loft where they had twin beds. Oh the shower! Huge! With twin showers and if you decide to go in there and use both, you might just not want to come out. There's a warm and inviting restaurant with an extensive menu. They also make simple dishes on request (the kids were fussy).
The Crystal river dancing over rock
We went out walking over the long trails the next morning. They had a variety of exotic plants that grew naturally in abundance along the forest. There's a foot bridge that takes you to the Crystal river. When you push leafy curtains out of the way, there's nature's tableau. Naturally formed rock creating mini waterfalls in the course of the river. The Crystal river was in full force.






A view of the log cabins

We went zip lining after that. Wooo! We took the Boquete Tree Trek tour that began in the Crysal lodge. A tram took us to the spot where we would begin. After instructions, we hiked a short way to the first of eleven platforms. The whole line is 3 km long with a 1150 ft drop. To be honest, during the first zip line, I really couldn't think! Let alone contemplate my gorgeous surroundings. Just focused on breaking when I was supposed to! Mini-Him did a tandem zip line with an instructor and was over the moon! One of those heart melting memories that will stay with me! His little Tarzan like yell as he zipped away and his open mouthed smile in the pictures they took for us! As we went between platforms, the green got under my skin.



Quetzal, Boquete Tree Trek
Another "Bird"
 For now, will have to stop with  "Bird"

There was a rare bird, easily startled, the quetzal that flew undisturbed. We caught a picture of it on a branch. A few more that our guides caught and I don't know the names of!


Zip line into paradise!
My arms were sore a couple of days after but it was worth every minute! We zipped right down to the restaurant lodge where they unharnessed us. 
A view from one of the platforms

A little certificate ceremony later, we left. More in my next post about the Flower gardens and a curious rock.

Full Circle

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So I wrote a book. A romance in the vein of Harlequin/Silhouette romances that I self published. It was originally written for them but I kept getting rejections and decided to go my own way. It is meant for adults (contemporary adult romance) and is on smashwords and amazon. The book is Full Circle by Anne Maven (definitely a pseudonym). It is intended to be a light read. Something to take your mind off things, relax with in the bath.

I'm grateful for the number of perspectives that I've received while writing it. Thanks SK, SK and SL (thanks to all three for the encouragement too), PK, KS, AV, PG and Elaine Waldron (author of the Vampira series - exciting books and she is also an excellent illustrator! Her books are available on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Lulu - here's her website - http://lovingvampspublications.com/)

If there are any suggestions you may have after reading the book, do drop me a line. Would love to hear from you.

Clicking on the book title above should take you to the book's page on Smashwords. It is also available on Amazon's e-books and goodreads.

Cheers!

Nature in Boquete

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We drove to Boquete sometime last year. It is in the Chiriqui province not far from Costa Rica. It literally means the opening or the mouth. Apparently it was some sort of a detour for early explorers. The wiki link sums it up nicely - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boquete,_Chiriqu%C3%AD

It took us about six hours to get there from Panama City. It's not the most difficult journey. Just make sure that you drive out early enough in the day so you can make it before night fall. There are long stretches, especially in David, where the roads aren't that well lit. It's a beautiful drive though. Enough rest areas on the way.
River behind the Inn
We spent the first night in this place called Boquete Garden Inn. I've never seen a more charming location. There were little apartments all built into the greenery all named for the flowers they had growing in profusion around. The rest of the world has no room there. Seriously. Yes our cell phones worked and there was a TV. Just no alarm clock- yippee! But they do have internet access and an office etc. You had to get down and walk! They've done their best to play up the natural beauty of the place and not take away from it at all. Walking the next morning to the river, Mini-Him was captivated by showy birds so completely unafraid and not bothered. The river just danced along. They actually have these little gazebos everywhere so you could just sit and drink it all in.

River behind the Boquete Garden Inn
Little areas with botanical names, bird species detailed


















That morning some of us went white water rafting(The folks at the Inn arranged it all with breakfast- you'll need it for the rafting!). Chiriqui has 150 inches of rainfall annually and with it's topography, you have some awe inspiring scenery. Perfect for the rafting. We were going on a mild-sounding grade 3 rapid that surprised us. The rain swollen river was rather unpredictable and while there were no sheer drops, the raft was on a wild and unpredictable merry-go-round. We had excellent guides and instructors. Of course, I was the first to fall out! Managed to grab on to the safety rope as instructed and I went right under the boat. For a moment, I remember thinking that the water was just the right temperature and so pretty and sweet tasting! Lol! The air in Boquete will revitalize you completely. So completely untainted that you feel every cell clamoring to be overcome. The rafting area is about an hour away from the lodging with a pre-arranged bus that transports you to and back. My biggest regret is not taking pictures when we went rafting :-( Couldn't let go of the oars long enough. I'm not kidding when I say that it was action packed!

Inside Paradise Gardens
Him and Mini-Him didn't come along. Mini-Him is still too...well...mini for adventure. Him had a disdain for the grade 3 announcing that he'd been on the mother of all rapids. This seemed unexciting I suppose! Anyway, they had a blast at the Paradise Gardens. A home for rescued animals. The owner herself took Mini-Him along to show him the birds, bears and miscellaneous beauties that had a loving home there. Him raved about the private gardens that they visited. Didn't figure him to be a "gardeny" type. But here he was, smelling the flowers. Literally.



In the Paradise Gardens

Mis Jardin es su Jardin


Links to help - http://www.boquetegardeninn.com
                       http://boqueteoutdooradventures.com/boquete-hotels-and-hostals

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Miss me today?

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pic credit - Michelle Meiklejohn; freedigitalphotos.com
Miss me today?
Did the crowds and laughing people
The jokes and meaningful glances
Bring remembrance
Of someone who might enjoy
Life and light that way?

I missed you today
When the spill of the willow tree
swept past my cheek
The fat drops of rain
traced their way down my arm
A caress

Miss me today?
When the craziness of the morning
Got to you perhaps
Did you hope
For a reprieve
A tinge of perfume
You know well or
A kiss?

I missed you today
As I thought of all of this
The willow, the stress and perfume
The laughing people and the light
I missed us being
All these things
To each other
morning noon and night.


Pic link - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=901

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

About childhood and what I miss

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What I miss most is being able to go to bed exactly when I feel like it! I had the best dreams and the best sleep in my childhood. I don't dream these days and sleep is restful enough. But the quality of restfulness is different. Perhaps because we knew so little then and yet, knew what was truly important. Perhaps we knew that the rest of the world will always do it's crazy thing and there is only so much each human can and should do to maintain harmony. Do you remember how it felt? No inner resistance, no inner holds. It was peace as soon as you hit the bed.

I miss not being able to enjoy a slushy for what it is. Even if it is a ton of sugar and preservative. I miss the happy glow a slushy could bestow.

pic credit - Michal Marcol; freedigitalphotos.net
I miss the excitement of a weekend. Even if we did nothing. The thought that there was a day's insurance against the next week. That half day before the two full weekend days was the best. Friday nights rocked! They had me feeling powerful :-) A pizza parlor trip, a new movie or just hanging around was so very special.

I miss waiting for the excitement of my grown up life. The excitement of the mysteries that lay waiting to be unraveled. Where would home be? What would people around me look like? I was so certain that I'd be a millionaire, LOL! It never occurred to me as a child, that any number of things could happen.

I miss believing in the best. Trusting someone's word and moving on knowing things would be well. I suppose we all grow up from that some day!

Miss the surprise lessons. Even if they weren't too pleasant. It hurt but faded as quickly. Running down steep slopes was an adventure that didn't always have to end badly! Miss being taught by people who wanted to share.

pic credit - Idea go; freedigitalphotos.net
Remember those moments when you felt the perfection around you? It could have just been a happy fullness in your heart. The moments that made you want to go and hug someone. I miss those. I think we'd have to remain as spontaneous and as trusting to feel that way again.

Miss the joy of art. The fumbling art that comes from a mind that is a mostly blank canvas, waiting to be filled. Miss the joy of seeing that art. The unchecked joy of a pure spirit.

Miss not needing to look around the corner to find out what was next. Miss not minding if there was nothing next!

Miss being held captive by simple things. A glass of lemonade. A sunset. A song. A story. My parents' words. A color. Even just Tom and Jerry on TV.

Most of all, I miss the calm certainty that life was in order and exactly as it was meant to be.

I hope Mini-Him's memories are pleasant. I can think of nothing more grounding than an untarnished childhood.



pic link 1 - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=371
pic link 2 - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=809

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Breathing

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pic credit - markuso; freedigitalphotos.net
               I've stuck to an extremely simple form of Pranayama or in other words, an effort to "control" or "draw out" the life force. There are numerous definitions. A definition sourced from wikipedia, states that pranayama is the trance induced by stopping all breathing. Getting there would be some sort of culmination for me! I try very simple breath control.
              It is recommended that it be learned under the guidance of a teacher. Not all techniques are for everyone. The techniques range from forced exhalation to a complete stop in breathing by blocking air with your tongue. Considering the myriad ailments possible in people today, one has to be very careful about opting for the most effective method.
             At it's simplest, it provides increased oxygenation, reduces the harmful effects of respiratory conditions, provides relaxation, clears the mind, allows greater agility and absolutely improves concentration, lifts a depressed mood and eventually, through sustained careful practice, reduces blood pressure as well.
            This simple pranayam is called Anulom-Vilom. Yes! So,
  • Don't do this right after a meal. Allow a three hour gap at least, after food.
  • Find a comfy spot - help yourself by opening the windows etc
  • Don't slouch! - Allow the lungs to expand fully. Slouching does not allow the bottom reaches to be fully oxygenated.
  • If you live in humid weather as I do, you start by breathing through the left nostril. If you live in a place that is currently cold, start through your right nostril.
  • Blow out a breath completely - don't do this in a rush. A gradual exhalation will allow your lungs to empty substantially.
  • Now use the thumb, compress the right nostril closed, and breathe in through the left nostril.
  • Hold your breath.
  • Change sides by using the forefinger to compress the left nostril closed.
  • Blow out air through the right nostril.
  • Inhale through the right nostril.
  • Hold your breath.
  • Change sides using the forefinger to compress the right nostril closed
  • Breathe out air through the left nostril.
  • Inhale through the left nostril and repeat as discussed.

pic credit - Danilo Rizzuti, freedigitalphotos.net
As the monk I talk about so often told a bunch of us, it helps balance the mind. When we say that someone is left brained or right brained, we mean that they present with and prefer the behavioral and intellectual qualities governed by each hemisphere of the brain. This breathing exercise brings about balance in the way we use our brain. It brings another perspective to a logical thinker and more logic to an artistic, emotional person.

For me, the calm it brings is a true gift! It might be for you too :-)




man pic link : http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1913
door pic link : http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=851

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Stringpuller and seeker

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The glorious string puller waited
His victims unsuspecting
photo credit - Sura Nualpradid, www.freedigitalphotos.net
The notion of waiting with breath bated
Never forming

Crash boom bang
The whole world tumbled
Happily, misery sang
The victims humbled

One named him
The string puller
Face grim hope gone
Life duller

The other looked away
Wondering about sunrise
For this was the end of the day
Guidance he needed from men so wise

And so the string puller and the seeker
Each became the thing they decreed
While life was certainly bleaker
Each life view either bound or freed

For a full stop that evil or nature brings
Defines not existence
A Loving fight gives wings
hope and peace ride toward deliverance.



pic link - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1750

Hairfall remedy that works

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So I used this stuff and was surprised at how effective it was.

You'll need

Fenugreek seeds - half a cup
Yoghurt - half a cup
pic from
http://www.herbalextractsplus.com/fenugreek.cfm

Soak the seeds overnight. Grind them after draining the water. Mix this pulp with yoghurt.

Apply! Leave on for about an hour and then rinse off. You'll have bits of the seed in your hair but a good rinse will take care of that. Also, you'll smell like maple syrup for a day, which can't be that bad, right?

Follow this for three weeks (applied twice a week) and voila! increased hair growth and the best part, reduced hair fall!

Enjoy :-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

I think, I feel...

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The middle ground between logic and emotion is a particularly difficult one for me to spot.

This is what I wonder about.

You know, the way logic is espoused as supreme, is wonderful. Really. Particularly in a world that is so irrational. But I believe that living in that kind of world should give us an added look into how much emotion really rules us as humans. Particularly when we assume the logical conclusion shared by a whole bunch of people must be the same for everyone else.

How does one decide what is right or wrong, logically, without considering the fuel that keeps one alive. Computers are logical. Robots are logical. They are not social beings with fear of stigma, or creatures who feel pain and sorrow. The logic even, comes from a need to make a choice. One attempts to make a choice to engage balance, either in oneself or in relationships. The need for balance comes out of the need to feel a certain way. Would you be logical if it keeps you unhappy? Logical conclusions that do not give happiness are likely, not fully considered conclusions.

The question of how one deals with irrational beings arises. Most certainly, not by pushing logic into their faces. Or acting on ones own terms, seeing that as the most logical course of action. An irrational being has gone past reason. Any amount of logical consideration would be a waste. Lack of common ground I would think,would be a great reason to end certain interactions.

Logical answers do not seem the best ones always. Logical considerations given for emotional causes seem to cause the most disturbance.That one whole section of people can simply swat away the considerations of many others. "There's nothing wrong with all that" seems to do away with protest. Or, "It's not against the law" Or, "They have the right."

Yes, we all have rights. There are issues that are fundamental to human beings that cannot be given into emotional demands. There are human issues that transcend nationality, race and boundaries. One cannot approach them from a single angle. The sole angle of "rights" or "freedom" or "commerce". Especially when such values are not part of the belief system of others. They do not view these things as relevant. But believe they have the right to what they want. How does one's logical approach based on certain values help anyone here? But at the same time, the fact that there exists another thinking, feeling group of people who may have a different outlook cannot make the final answer absolutely right.

Hmm...tied myself up in knots there.

But it's exactly how I...well...feel.

You can tell me how you think/feel about it too~

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Bliss in nothingness

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In that time between sleep
photo credit - Jennifer Ellison; free digital photos.net
and wakefulness
When there is clarity in drowsing eyes
My heart feels no constriction
No holds that demand lies

You lie there
Sweet slumber dragging
it's warm heavy feet
The last mile lagging
Smiling, holding back nothing.

The sounds from around us
Non-existent and peaceful
give us a contrasting world
different from the rest of our day
right now, so blissful

Take me away from here
before the holds set in
before I begin to turn
turn into what I can never be
before you begin to run
Run thinking you're saving me

Take us away now,
in the peaceful early morn,
where the promises glow so strong
away from lies, need, fear and a dreary earth
that is tired of pulling us along.


photo link - <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=153">Image: Jennifer Ellison / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=153

Juliet downed not the poison

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Juliet downed not the poison”

She stood out among her peers. Asta wore faded gray denims and a moss green t-shirt that had no shape. It did nothing for her, that look. She had hair that one couldn’t talk about - in a bun and decorated with an array of mismatched pins.

Sid watched the girl as she approached the circle. She was to read for the part of Juliet in the summer production of “If Juliet downed not the poison...”

 He was to play Romeo. He had no idea how he would fake the passion. Now if Linda from his chemistry class auditioned, he could make it work. Asta was tall. Too tall for a delicate Juliet. Too sure and too independent. He had overheard Mrs. Browning, the drama teacher declare that she could think of no one more sensible than Asta to play a revolutionary Juliet. “Of course,” she had said, “we’ll have to do something revolutionary about Asta’s appearance as well.” This last had elicited a wild giggling from Linda who had wanted to be Juliet herself.

Sid frowned into his script. Linda would down the poison right on cue. He realized Mrs. Browning was right. Asta didn’t care about anyone else’s cruel perspective on her clothes or hobbies. She wouldn’t care if Shakespeare himself decreed poison drinking to be the ultimate symbol of love.

He started when her husky, grown-up voice read out,

          “It is not daylight,
            Perhaps a meteor the sun exhales
            To be a torch bearer
            And light your way to Mantua.
            Stay Romeo! You are far safer in my bedchamber
            Than galloping away in the broad day light
            Dressed as you are
            In silly Montague embellishments
            That no Capulet can miss!”

The rest of the class laughed. Linda blinked and Sid chuckled to himself. Her scorn was spot on. She’s need a Romeo who was whip smart to deal with that outlook.

He went to take the spot next to her chair, in the center of the circle. He smiled at her, hoping to thaw the ice he had helped foster over the years. He winced as he remembered the play ground taunts he would throw out. She had a short, chubby phase when he would only address her as “jelly belly.” She had gone to tall and gangly in a couple of years. Sid had then called her “four-eyes skeleton”, acknowledging the extra accessory that she had acquired. He had left her largely alone after that and now, in high school, he only laughed at someone else’s jokes about her.

Her green eyes stared out from behind black framed glasses. She smiled at him, the smile reaching the corners of her eyes. Sid forgot to speak. She had dimples and even teeth that gleamed against creamy skin. Her eyes sparkled as she said, “So you have other talents too?”

Sid, still lost in the glimmer of her sea green eyes, managed, “Talents?”

“Yes,” Asta continued, a laugh in her voice, “talents like eloquence, sharp comebacks, drama…you know. Stuff so different from your usual “playground bully” gig!”

They were all laughing now. Sid shook his head and said, “Apparently! Guess we’ve surprised each other.”

Asta only said, “Good then! It’s about time!”

Sid read Romeo and felt transported. She caught on to every emotion he tried to convey. Soon, they were standing and gesturing, holding and changing position with very little instruction from an excited Mrs. Browning. Her play was going to rock!

How had he missed her? Behind the sad clothes and pedestrian hair was a live wire.

As practice carried on over the next few weeks, no one missed the electricity between them. His best friend Rob said, “Hey Sid, you got a thing for old four eyes now? Where are your standards dude?”

“Out of the dust bin finally, where yours still rot!” Sid had shot back, furious that Rob should refer to Asta in such an insulting manner. He caught himself. He didn’t really have a right to be furious did he? He had been the same way. And he hadn’t asked her out or anything. Not yet. He was still trying to work up the courage. The girl who played the most shrewish Juliet yet said,

“O Romeo, Romeo where are you Romeo?
Deny your father, refuse your name,
Do it! I’ll do the same.
Take on another name we shall,
Far away where the silly fights hold us not in thrall,
Capulet and Montague,
Be taken by the Plague!”

She said it like a queen, adding to sense of the ridiculous the passages inspired. Sid had an urgent, never before felt longing to kiss her.

Linda walked beside him as they neared the theatre on the last day before the show, “What do you see in that creature? She’s so out of it Sid. You deserve much better!”

“Like who?” Sid asked, mystified that Linda would attempt to contribute to the health of his love life. Not that he had a love life yet.

“Like…” she said and stopped, her chamber maid costume clutched at her chest, “well, like many of us here. Like me. I don’t know…”

Sid said, not unkindly, “Not one of you here. Except her.”

“Why is she so special?” Linda asked, while Mrs. Browning signaled to them to enter quickly. “She dresses horribly! So unpopular and just so lost in her own world. She’s just so whacky!”

Sid laughed, “Now that you’ve said those many things, I can’t wait to go see her again. I really like her because she doesn’t care that you think of her that way. And she really does have an exciting world to be lost in. A world that’s thankfully, different from trying new hair color everyday! I like her just the way she is.”

Asta tapped his shoulder and he turned around. Shocked, he stood still. Her forehead reached his chin. She took off her glasses, walked closer to him. He smelled a blend of lemon and roses. Looking deep into his eyes, she asked, “So, feel like joining me at sunset today? There’s a gorgeous setting behind the Exploratorium. I’ve wanted to capture it for awhile for a personal photography project.”

Drawn in by some magic, he leaned forward and waited. “Ocean madness” he thought, drawn into the dreams her eyes held. She raised her face, eyes gently veiled by thick lashes. Green against black. He moved to kiss her. Gently. Their eyes closed. They held each other, warmth taking over. Thinking to himself that yes, he would see her for every sunset that he could manage.

“And more if you let me,” he said it out loud.

“Let you do what?” she asked, her eyes still closed.

“Let me see you every day; even for the sunset.”

“I’m never going to straighten my hair or wear any make-up. Just so you know.” Asta said.

“I’m never going to be able to take “normal” from you. Just so YOU know.” Sid said.

Smiling, she said, “Alright Romeo, let’s see what you got!

As Mrs. Browning said later, a more perfect couple could never be. Romeo capped off the evening when he told his audience exactly how he felt about his Juliet.

“A glad peace this morning with it brings;
The sun, for joy, shines bright;
Go hence, talk of these happy things;
For Juliet and I declare dependence on you finished!
For never was a story of more love
Told as the one of Juliet and her Romeo
Us two who had more gumption
To stand up and fight
Rather than drink the poison
And forever, snuff out the light!”


.




Saturday, April 9, 2011

Love the only one

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             It was like all those years ago. The familiar clench in his belly, his breath hitched as he saw her walk to the table across. She wore a white dress with black polka dots that clung to her form before flaring out at the hips. The form that he remembered every day of his waking life; his dreams were filled with memories. She ordered a Montalcino. Soft voice, breathing and speaking at once.

 "I can't see you." The voice was forlorn. Sid stared at the green rotary phone.
"What do you mean you can't see me? You just did. I just dropped you off!" He laughed as he said that. That look on her father's face didn't mean that he was unhappy with him. Just that, well, she was home past curfew.
"Sid, I...I can't see you ever again." Her breath came out in a little sob. Her voice, husky even then, was uneven. "Dad doesn't want us to be together. He ..."
"Wait, Rhea, is this about the curfew? Look, I'll tell him that I'm sorry. He'll get over it. I'll make sure we don't go to band practice in the evenings again. It's not such a big deal."
"Sid, it's not just the band practice. It's not just the curfew. He just doesn't like you."
He went quiet. He had sensed discomfort before but he'd thought that it was a father's protectiveness. The looks she got made Sid uncomfortable too. He couldn't cover her up in a gunny sack, but he wished that he could sometimes.
"Dotty saw us in the park yesterday and told Mom. I don't exactly know what she thought was going on. But it was enough for Dad to break the vase by the entrance."
"Nothing happened. I can tell your folks that. What do they think I am? We...we...we were just fooling around. Rhea, really..."
"Sid I'm going away. I was going to tell you sooner, but I'll be gone by the summer. Mom and Dad have been unhappy here and after Dotty tattled, they want to leave."
Sid's heart dropped to his knees. He sat on the chair by the phone, holding on and tried to imagine his life without Rhea. He looked forward to her smile, her laugh and most of all, just her. Watching her move, play and walk eagerly toward him. He was sixteen. She had just turned 15. They had talked about him going away. About how he would come back to see her every summer. And how he would marry her...this last was his own thought. In moments when he couldn't bear it, he would beg the universe to bring that time closer. So she would be his in every way.
"Rhea, you aren't really upset are you?" Sid asked.
"I don't know. I've wanted to go out, live a little more. There's so much in a big city Sid. I want to look at the options I have. Wellam High takes you only so far. There's so much that I don't see here, get to know here."
"But you have me Rhea...don't you?"
The soft crying without words gave him the answer.
"Do you love me?" He asked her, unable to stop himself. He hadn't told her how he felt about her yet. How he had watched her since she was but eight. How when his parents spoke of being married for fifteen years, he had thought of her as the only possible wife.
"I don't know! Why did you ask me that? I don't know. It doesn't matter does it? You'll find someone when I'm gone. You'll move on." She was openly crying now.
"Why are you crying if that's all this is about?" Sid yelled. His stomach cramped and panic filled his chest.
"If this is about YOU moving on Rhea, why play the charade. Tell me you don't want to see me. Your dad's just an excuse isn't he?"
"Sid....Sid please...please hear me out. I think that maybe...we're too young. My mother's right. There's so much to this world. So much that we have to see and explore. Maybe, if it's meant to be, we'll see each other again. Maybe we'll outgrow each other if we hang around too much. You can't love me that much Sid."
"But I do!" Sid burst out, needing to say it. "I've loved you for a long time! If you can't see that Rhea Samuel, then you're just a fool. An attention grabbing waste! Just like the other girls!"
"Don't say that. Don't be mean Sid. I'm not sure of anything. I've been thinking of us doing more by ourselves for a long time. It's not healthy that we don't see anyone else. I...I've just been around you for a year and a half Sid. I don't see friends or hang out with anyone else!"
"Is this you or your mother talking Rhea?"
With a quiet finality that told him just how far he was from changing her mind, she said, "It could be my mother talking. But it's also me saying it now. You've asked me for weeks why I turn quiet. This is why. I need to move on. I need to live my life some more. Go to the city and aim higher."
"What do you think I'm aiming for?! The gutter?!" Sid shot back angrily.
"You never talk about your goals. We never talk about anything solid do we? It's rarely anything. And if we do talk, it's about stuff that can't do a sparrow's hop toward our futures."
"I thought you felt the way I did! Rhea, in those moments of silence, I...I thought you saw what I did. Felt what I did."
"I did...I felt all that. Where do we go from there? You're going away soon. You don't expect me to wait until you get back do you? If you do? You promised me Sid. But why should you? Why shouldn't you live your life? Date other girls. Maybe there's someone different there for you and me?"
"You feel that way Rhea. I don't. Don't waste my time trying to shove your ideas down my throat. They mean nothing right now. Nothing at all."
She went quiet for a moment. Then only said, "I won't waste your time. Not now. Not ever again. Take care Sid. This is the best thing for us."

The lady in the polka dot dress glanced at her watch. The afternoon sun glowing in, bounced off her hair. She waited, patiently. She answered her phone once. Her head tilted slightly, letting a rain of shiny black hair cascade down to her waist. Her fingers curled lightly over the phone. No wedding ring.

Sid got up and walked to her, saying, "Ms Samuel?"

She looked up, startled. The maitre'd bowed and pulled out his chair for him. He glanced at her once as he rapidly ordered his sparkling water and a salad platter. Her mouth was still open. Her eyes dark in shock. Her back was pressed against her chair and Sid had to repeat himself to ask, "Do you want anything else for now?"
"What are you doing here?" It was the only thing she could think to ask.
"We have an interview. You're five minutes late."Sid quickly shut off his cell phone, looking down at it. Refusing to meet her eyes. Refusing, really, to show her any of the storm raging inside him.
Rhea shook her head, just slightly. "But...I've been waiting ten minutes."
"I've waited longer."
The undercurrent and undertone were unmistakable. Rhea sipped her wine. It was hard to push it down. Her hand trembled as she held on to the stem of the glass.
"I was supposed to meet Rob Carney. He told me so."
Linking his fingers together, Sid said, "Yes I know. He had to be in Arizona. I always take over when he's not there. I think it's best. Knowing what talent you're hiring."
"You're hiring?What do you mean?"
"I mean, that I get to interview my employees. That's best. I know who I'm getting."
"You own...oh!" she said, her hands covering her mouth. "Sid Malone?! You're THE Malone?"
"Yes." He stared as she covered her eyes. While she couldn't see, he stared openly at her hands, her whole body.
"How did....when did you start?"
"I imagine it's all over the internet. All about my rather humble beginnings. You know about that."
She stayed silent.
"To get on with it, I see that you've built up a strong portfolio. Worked with various brokerage firms. Spent some time in Switzerland?" He was looking into his black folder. Exuding a controlled neutral detachment that took away from memories of him. Her memories. The ones she hung on to every night that she spent alone in bed.
Sid frowned. "What happened between 2006 and 2008? I see nothing. No work?"
"I...I had to stay home. For some personal reasons."
"Kids." He stated it rather than asked, acid burning his gut. Someone else's kids.
"No. I can't talk about it. But I've put an attachment there to show the trading that I've done from home."
He glanced over it. Closing the folder, he signaled to the waiter. She told him what she could eat. He frowned because it was nothing almost. He rapidly ordered something else for both of them and then sat back.
"What have you been upto?" he asked.
"Well, you just saw it." she said.
"Not all. Not the silences. You married?"
"No. That is, I was. But not now."
"Oh?"
"Yes. You? Probably found a nice woman huh?"
"Yes. Yes I did find a nice woman."
"Okay. Well...you're married then."
"It would seem likely wouldn't it?" he asked. "How're your folks?"
"They aren't." she said.
"What do you mean?" he looked up from playing with his cuff links. Gold, embossed with his initials. Expensive.
"They passed away. It was an accident. Five years ago."
"Sorry to hear that." he said, shocked. Then suddenly he said, "Ah. That explains the two year break."
"No. That explains my husband leaving me as I was having a breakdown. They died, and I met his mistress at the funeral. Actually, I caught them behind a tree in the graveyard."
Sid looked on. So quiet, she thought. Like he used to be. But there was something leashed. Something dangerous now. Not like her memories of him. Not the calm, placid boy who lost it just once with her.
Sid sat with anger and relief rushing over him in waves.
The food arrived. He picked at his plate and she devoured the food. He took his plate and gave it to her. She finished that too.
"Thanks." she gasped. "That was really really great."
"Why're you drinking in the middle of the day? It could've gone against you."
"Is it going against me?"
"I don't know yet."
"Well, considering how much I already have going against me, it doesn't matter does it?" she sipped at her refilled glass.
"What do you have going against you?" Sid asked looking at her openly.
She took a deep breath.
"The absence. The two year lull..." she tapered off
"And?" he asked.
"The...the...past." she said, and looked at him. Meeting his eyes squarely for the first time, she realized what he was trying to hide.
"The past can't interfere with the present situation. You'll be working far away from me. I'll barely be around. I travel a lot."
"Yeah? How come?" she asked.
"I did mean to move past Wellam. You just never believed me. There's always something going on. Some deal to seal. I still go back home to see my family. But, mostly on the road."
"What about your...your wife?" she asked, haltingly. That word.
"What about her?" he asked, looking at her, hiding nothing now.
Rhea choked first and then asked, "How...doesn't she...mind? That you travel so much?"
"No."
"Oh...guess you're lucky then. My ex just took off to his own party."
He signaled for the check, sensing danger ahead.
"Do you still love me?" she asked, point blank, unable to bear it.
"Why would you ask me that?" he asked. "What's the use? You've moved on." Her words to him, she realized. Her words before she wanted to go explore the big wide world without him. The world that took away everything from her and left her with nothing but memories. Of her family. Of him.
"You can't lie Sid! I can see it. I see it in your eyes." She said, intensity making her voice tremble and her eyes grow heavy.
"Rhea. Of all the impossible situations to bring up! You didn't WANT me! I did then! You left us in the dust. This is a job interview. Nothing more. My feelings, your feelings don't matter!"
Sid signed the check and thrust it at the waiter angrily and stood up.
"I'll let you know my decision tomorrow." he said curtly, then turned and left.
Rhea sat there, watching his tall frame weave through tables that were suddenly buzzing. Feeling a distance that she knew she would never get the chance to cover in this life, she stood up.She forgot her wallet and ran for him.
"Sid! Sid! please...please stop!" There was silence around them. But the deepest silence came from the certainty she felt.
He turned around, his face flushed, eyes wild. He looked like he wanted to attack her or kiss her. She stopped. Suddenly afraid, she stayed a few paces away from him. They were at the exit.
"Sid. Sid I was stupid."
"Yes." he said, using an arm to support himself against the wall.
"Sid I should've known it then. I was cruel. I should've said it then."
"Yes. You should have." He looked unable to move or stay still.
"I knew I did something terribly wrong. But I couldn't think for myself. I didn't. I wanted to be out there. But...you were right. I did have something in Wellam. I had you. In all these years..." she took a deep breath, "even when I was with my husband, I couldn't forget you Sid. I couldn't forget the things you never said. The things you left unsaid. But I knew and I was afraid that I'd never know another life. I love you. I'm sorry I'm saying it now. It's bad timing. Again. You're married and all. But I've never forgotten. That you loved me so."
He was leaning toward her. Eyes dripping with emotion that she couldn't name; some emotion that had tears flowing down her face.
"What do we do now?" Sid asked, reaching for her face.
"Why...why you go back to your wife...and work.." Rhea said, clutching at his fingers that caressed her cheek.
"What wife?"Sid asked
"Your...your...wife. The lady who you said doesn't care...about the travel."
"I'm looking at her."
It was how it should've been, she saw.
Rhea walked to him, pulled his face down and kissed him.
The world stood still. The restaurant patrons, also standing still behind them, cheered.
He pulled her into a side room that the maitre'd, overjoyed, ushered them into. It was high time that Sid Malone had a lady friend! he thought.

When Rhea stood inside her bedroom, their bedroom, on their wedding night a few weeks later, she saw pictures of her on the bedside table. Herself when she was eight and he nine. Twelve with braces. Fifteen in shorts with him by a bike trail.

She was home. Neither referred to their past again. She always told him that she loved him first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Sid Malone never traveled alone. He couldn't bear to be away from Rhea.
It was a life time, he said, spent apart from misunderstanding. They needed another lifetime to make up for it.

The End

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

How real?

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Skinny arms browned further
Rise in request but the eyes
next to you say "don't hurt her"
Irises so wise

Little face, gap toothed smile
You stand weary
It won't be a while
Before she too sees life clearly

The dust, famine and storms
photo credit - dan; freedigitalphotos.net
reported in the news
etched in faces so worn
need not sermon nor meditation in dew
to realize the fabric of life is torn.

Yet you stand and ask,
I look into your eyes and see not any less
My emotions boiling behind a mask
I cannot see how I can with money bless

What is this world that deems me a giver
or a taker of nature and people
Does my bed and blanket protecting me from shiver
entitle me to folded hands in shape of a steeple?

For all the hardship and blessing in our script
That I have little to do with
The veil of illusion ripped
Superior Inferior a myth

Would coins erase the issue?
Your daughter for this life learning
That my life is of value
And simply nothing is all her yearning

Aye I'll give you coin
Pretend generosity
while entreating the world to enjoin
fight the monstrosity

For somewhere sometime you and I are one
Separateness, comfort mocking strife
Two sides of a looking glass, now we can't run
Oneness in spirit, invite balance, our lesson for this life


Pic link - <p><a href="http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=587">Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net</a></p>

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The point of meditation as per a monk

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photo credit - Evgeni Dinev; freedigitalphotos.net
Meditation has taken me through some ridiculously difficult times. There have been instances when after emerging from it, I've realized that I was possibly in that "void" where no thoughts, feelings, desires exist. This was of course for fleeting moments.  These moments though, have been extremely rare. In twelve years, possibly less than five times. I do have an easily agitated mind and attempting to quieten it down, using TM, was an exercise in patience and understanding. On a side note, a realization - there's nothing as unforgiving as a judgemental view of oneself. You see the world through your physical self/understand through your mind/feel through your heart, right? What if the lens through which you view existence (you as a sum of your experiences) is that badly flawed? Again, in your own estimation. I firmly believe that it can be crippling to expect perfection at once, or to believe that we're not good enough. No one is happy this way. I can never get viciously upset with people who have trouble accepting their flaws. They're probably afraid of looking at a whole host of things differently. So much hinges on just belief in our world. Nothing short of non-judgemental love can instill change. 


Okay, back to the point. There was a time in the past year when I was completely excited about meditation because of the many strange sensations that I had begun feeling. I was convinced that I'd reached somewhere significant. There were spiraling sensations down my spine. A sudden rocking like I was in the middle of the ocean. The feeling of flight. The feeling of a free fall. It was delicious. I thought I was going through levels/planes. I researched these sensations on the internet and ofcourse - it was kundalini shakti, ascending through planes, being purified. Great stuff!


I had to stop meditating for a couple of months during travel and one of Mini-Him's emergency room visits. When I got back to it, I had to start all over again. No more exciting trips when in deep meditation. I was back to struggling. When a monk came to visit last month, he had us in Shavasana after intense yoga. His gently dispensed suggestions had me going very easily into that phase again. I was happy. Something comforting and positive. I asked him about it, possibly looking pleased with myself.


photo credit - graur razvan ionut; free digital photos.net
His answer had me thinking. He said, "One feels many things in the course of meditation and yoga. If you were to stop and think of all of these things, you would never reach that state of bliss. The point of complete union which is also complete detachment. These sensations still keep you here. You're thinking of them and you want to reach those sensations. In reality, they mean nothing. Observe them and move on. During meditation, control nothing. Just observe and remain on your mantra."


How easy it was to get carried away! Now I'm learning to let go - again!


pic link - 




http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1256
http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=987

Monday, April 4, 2011

Nature Cure

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Pic link  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=1803

Some body creams and scrubs are much better when made fresh, with ingredients right out of your kitchen.

One of my favorites is a pre-bath body cream. Leave it on for about fifteen minutes (atleast) before your shower. This keeps well in the refrigerator for at least two weeks.

So, the ingredients are as follows -
photo credit - africa; freedigitalphotos.net
Milk - half a cup
Honey - quarter cup
Crushed almonds/lentils/oatmeal/flaxseed - about two tbsp
Oil (almond and/or coconut and or/olive and/or sesame)
Lemon juice and rind (a quarter cup of lemon juice and a tablespoon of lemon rind - the oils seep through this)
You're welcome to add essential oils to this mix or just plain rose water before use.

Add the lemon juice and rind after all the other ingredients have been whipped together.

Warm the mixture slightly before use.

It works well as a moisturizer, humectant and skin toner.

Make sure that you don't step into the sun right after applying this. It has lemon that can cause your skin to tan if not washed off properly.

Enjoy the lushness!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Exercise moments

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I do realize that people have known this forever. So have I. But when put into practice in a sequence, picturesque results ensue!

Well, I'm talking about exercises for the glutes.

Squats with absolute emphasis on form - 10 reps, 3 sets (with or without weights, your choice)

After about a twenty second rest interval

Donkey kicks - Try doing about 15 in one go. I do 15 reps, 3 sets.
For the kicks, stay on all fours, elbows perpendicular to arms, start with the right (or left if you prefer :-)

draw the knee to your chest, and then kick backward and upward. with as much force as you can manage.

I kid you not, soreness aside, it can tone the glutes behind and on the sides in no time!

Enjoy...the result I mean :-)

I remove myself

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Light floods the morning room
Dispels yesterday's gloom
You squint and drag gold drapes across
Feeling a sense of loss
I remove myself
I remove myself

Smiling into your beautiful face
I thank heaven's grace
Your eyes beloved, look away
Her shape, golden hair hold sway
Mood gone for a toss
Feeling a sense of loss
I remove myself
I remove myself


You marvel at a thought
An idea for which men have fought
A bridge across forever
Sweat, blood, beam, lever
Your wonder is mine
A life line


Joy in togetherness
Lasts so long as we expect less
than the most perfect instance
Let go of persistence


I remove myself still
from the hope that you will
Someday view life
through the window that captures your wife.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sky dive because

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I suddenly remembered today, the time I sky dived from thirteen thousand feet. We were just married, Him and I. It was the time when in the first flush of newly wedded bliss, one tends to agree to almost anything. Just for the happiness of hanging out together. And of course, not having to refuse. Atleast, I couldn't refuse. Not when Him asked with that innocent, excited sweetness that still remains his trademark; which is why none of us is afraid even when he roars from his 6'3 height. He's as liable to burst out laughing the next second at his own actions.

So we went. The girl at the reception desk asked us if we wanted to stick with the pre booked nine thousand feet or go for thirteen thousand feet. Him looked at me, eyes shining. He had done it before and was excited for me. I figured that jumping from a plane deserved grandeur. I would not fall from nine thousand feet if I could choose four thousand feet more. I was jumping. I might as well put the exclamation mark on it.

My tandem jump instructor was unforgettable. He was an Australian man in a cow suit. As he helped harness me, I remember him saying, "Your legs are bloody crooked!" While Him chuckled, I said, "That's just my legs. You don't know my mind yet."

The cold air hit my teeth as we dropped from the plane. The ground didn't appear to rush at me from up there. We seemed to float. The instructor had me on a parachute ride going this way and that once we got to seven thousand feet. The Cow-Suit showed me Him. I could see Him's blue and green parachute circling lazily, his long legs dangling. I imagined his expression. The one he wore in our wedding pictures was the same one he wore on a six flags roller coaster ride during a descent. It was a grin/grit. His lovely teeth bared. His charming smile/grimace only making him look better. I could never manage it. Even with war paint on.

The green fields in Davis appeared checkered, shades of green. The air that had rushed up initially was freezing. It got warmer later. The world appeared awfully clean and small. Like the rest of earth was a well constructed lego set. It was hard to remember what exactly seemed so important before.

You're removed from the Matrix Neo

I remember thinking after I landed that there was only one other reason I agreed to do it, besides not wanting to say no to Charming Him.

There was just one of two outcomes. I would live, or not. That sort of certainty I have no problem with. It required no added bravery. The basic instinct for self-preservation asserted itself when I hesitated just a moment over the edge of the exit. Then I remembered that the little plane was filled with men. Who might think that it was "just like a girl" to back out after all that! So vanity and $250 per person got me moving too.

Then, in much the way most of us face important aspects of our lives, at the urging of Cow-Suit, I fell headlong into the open space.

It didn't change me fundamentally or anything like that. Just made me aware of what drives my choices.


When Mini-Him is off on his own, I want to do this!