Monday, October 31, 2011
Well, it’s been an interesting few weeks here at Rancho Pollo Gordo. The autumn is here, one of my favorite times of year. With a good result from my last blood test, I have been trying to move forward with the backlog of maintenance and projects that were put on hold. I soon realized that it would take more than just a weekend to catch up, and I could exhaust myself in the process. Rome wasn’t rebuilt in a day, I suppose.
Around mid August, I had the onset of an unusual set of symptoms: very dry mouth, lack of taste and sudden bouts of extreme fatigue. Now, these are all common chemo symptoms, but at that point I had been off of chemotherapy for about 6-7 weeks. It was unnerving, to say the least. And anyone that knows Amy and me know that we are real foodies, and that Amy is one of the best cooks in the region, if not the entire planet. Growing, shopping for and preparing food is one of our great pleasures, so the loss of my taste was quite a serious blow to my/our quality of life. It was hard not to get depressed, and it took all my yogic skills to keep from doing so. The good news is to report that the symptoms have mostly subsided and the output of Amy’s kitchen (and several local restaurants) is once again being enjoyed. Hallelujah.
We have been very fortunate to have received a new water heater! Now this may not sound like big news to most, but our old one was so out of date that it didn’t make enough hot water for a bath. Allow me to explain why this is important. One common way to assist in the detox from chemo is Epsom salt baths. Kinda hard to do without sufficient hot water. So through the benevolence of a benefactor and the skill of Adam Almendariz, plumber supreme, Swami bruce has been taking the cure with regular hot Epsom salt baths, which seem to be helping, and do induce a great night’s sleep! I highly recommend this therapy. And on a side note, Epsom salt, or magnesium sulfate, is also a nutrient for the garden. Of course, I was loathe to put anything with the word “salt” on my plants, but the package said “for bath and garden”. So a quick bit of research on the internets and yes, magnesium sulfate is considered an organic soil amendment that apparently assists plants with iron uptake. So I tried spreading a little of my precious Epsom salts around my yard, and really, within a very few days the plants that got it were noticeably greener! Whooda thunk it? You live and learn, and magnesium is now part of the Swami’s therapy, both inside and outside the house.
Things have been fun in the poetry world. There was the adorable little Friends of the Cardiff Library Slam earlier this month, in the newly remodeled community room. I even won 30 dollars for second place! The venerable Trish “the Dish” Dugger, all 80 years young and Poet Laureate of Encinitas bested me once again on her home turf. (All I gotta say is Trish, you’re going down next year!!) See some pics here:
And the excellent Mr. Michael Schmitt has put together a great poetry gig at the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach. Us poets open a comedy night, and so about ten of us split up an hour of time on stage. It’s called Poetry Voltron, and if you know your cartoons, you will know that Voltron is a giant flying robot made up of all different manned vehicles. So Michael, in his infinite wisdom, invites a poet or two from all the different poetry scenes here in San Diego County. The result is of course is an hour of great spoken word. It’s a really fun event, not competitive like a slam and it’s great to hang out in the green room and get to know some poets I have only heard from the stage. I’ve seen so much great music at the Belly Up over the years, and to be on that stage was kinda cool, helped by an excellent sound system. We’ve done this twice, and the crowd seemed bigger the second time; let’s hope the word about spoken word is getting out!
We had quite a run with persistent red tide hereabouts. Not much fun for water sports, but makes for an amazing display of bioluminescence at night. If after sundown you could make you way to the beach or bluff you were rewarded with glowing blue waves, a truly magical experience. Our digital wizard Jim Babwe has some great shots:
I have been attending my Tuesday evening Master Composter class at Solana Recyclers. Met a lot of nice like-minded souls. We divided up into groups and built piles and ours was the quickest to heat up and then cool off, so of course we decided we were in fact “the coolest” and that’s why our pile rocked! I will be a certified “Master Composter” after completing this class. You may just refer to me as “the Master”, although “Rajah of Rot” or “Dictator of Decomposition” will also do. I have maintained a compost pile for over 30 years, with the same strain of red worms. Happy worms make for a productive garden. The “intestines of the earth” according to Darwin.
My sweet old Mom fell recently and broke her leg and some ribs. With her age, health problems and Alzheimer symptoms, we feared for the surgery. But she is one tough Mexicana, and 3 weeks later she is up and walking with a walker and soon to return home from the convalescent facility. Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’. Her caregivers, 3 central American women, take such good care of her, and the hard work and attention of my sister Sarah has been crucial to her recovery. Go Mom!
I also had a chance to take part in some #Occupy events. I marched at the inaugural Occupy San Diego event and have been part of the Occupy North County group (I was the guy blowing the conch shell!) The amazing thing about the occupy events I have attended is the wide variety of people in attendance. Youth, age and all colors are represented, plus military in uniform. It was a great feeling to be part of a movement that is so transcendent of traditional political lines, and may be the start of a third party. Truly inspirational, to meet up with fellow citizens and chant “This is what democracy looks like!!!” As usual, I was inspired to commit poetry, and I give you these words:
The vulgar news so loudly shouts
While fundamentalist feed on human doubts
Brilliant minds design new ways to slaughter
To more efficiently kill someone’s son or daughter
Violence only leads to more of the same
Leaves us grieving, broken, blind and lame
Modern war, by anyone’s measure
Wastes our blood and destroys our treasure
And while congress dithers
Banks grow bigger
With greedy hands that skim the cream
And steal the worker’s honest dream
Paid off pundits sound so snarky
While they defend the oligarchy
When ideologues are so readily heeded
A reasoned approach is desperately needed
So I call to all men and women of reason
This is our time, this is our season!
For on this spot and at this hour
We exert our people power!
Then arm in arm and side by side
The people’s vision grows worldwide
We’ll find a path towards what’s better
If we decide to work together
The solution is really quite simple
A government of and by and for the people
People power brings us self respect
From the Ginza to Chapultepec
We’ll shake off the yoke of greedy old men
From Tahrir Square to Tianamen
If we harness the power of the wind and sun
We can make this world work for everyone
My Brothers and Sisters, it’s a brand new day
From Ankor Wat to the Champ d’Elysee
Our resolve is hardened, but our hearts stay soft
From mountain cabins to urban lofts
So hear me men and women of reason
This is our time, this is our season!
And on this day and at this hour
We realize our people power
Won’t you join and work with us
From the Golden Gate to the Bosporus
Peace and justice, that is our intent
For we are THE 99% !!!
In other news, I seem to have stumbled into teaching another yoga class per week, an intro class with a great group of folks, mostly couples. Back in March and April, when I was so sick and recovering from surgery, I wasn’t sure I would ever be in this position again. I remember driving home on the freeway after a week in my hospital bed and it seemed like a racecar track, everyone moving at breakneck speed. I wasn’t sure if I was going home to live or to die. And now, half a year or so later, I am back surfing, working in the garden, riding my bike and teaching yoga. And my latest obsession – lifting weights! I still owned a couple of sets of dumbbells from back in the day, and with some stretch bands I have undertaken a resistance training practice that sure feels good and is helping me recover some of the muscle tone I lost during my convalescence. I have found that bringing a yoga awareness to it (using breath, gaze, and inward focus) makes each session a rather meditative experience. And I must pass on an interesting observation: with my low sugar/low animal diet, I sure don’t seem to get as sore as I used to when I lifted previously. Less inflammation, I guess.
I would also like everyone to know that I am again seeing clients for bodywork therapy. It feels good to be again working in the healing arts; to be once again the “healer” rather than the “healee”, so to speak. All the while, my acupuncturist Alan Toyofuku has been taking such excellent care of me. I encourage everyone to take similar good care of yourself. You are worth it. Alan has been a big part of why I am experiencing the health that I am. The herbal formula he provided has nourished me and helped my body recover from the damage and imbalances of surgery and chemo.
For all the travails I have had this year; I have learned a lot. I have learned that your world gets very small and focused when you are seriously ill. That western and non-western medicine can coexist quite well. That life is too short and precious to trifle with those who create unnecessary drama and disharmony. That healers are the part of the nearly invisible web that hold society and humankind together. That a kiss from your daughter, a call from your son, a sunset with your wife is the icing on the cake of life. (if I still ate icing…) That we as humans can adapt to almost anything; and that our resilience is amazing.
That kindness is the best that humans have to offer.
Wishing you peace,