Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gaaak! I found out I accidentally removed my stat counter from my blog - I just thought no one had looked at in in a month, which would be unusual, as someone inevitably at least happens upon it by accident through a random Google search (an interesting one: "mohawk, pictures, smooth"). I've had this blog for two years before I installed the counter & now I don't know how I survived without it (remember before they invented caller ID: horrors!). I am not currently on a retreat or vacation of any kind so I don't know if I can blog about my life in Austin and still sound like a dynamic and interesting person. Let's see, I drink coffee for a couple of hours in the morning while surfing the net and inquiring with various travel companies if they have an opening on their tour of Labrador/Arctic Circle/Greenland (plotting my escape from the sticky Texas heat), and then decide I don't want to spend the 5-10K. I take my dog for a walk, though it's a short one as it's already boiling hot. I go to yoga, which makes me feel terrific, then hone my rock climbing skills at the Rock Gym I just started taking classes at. Like the skiing, it is very challenging & lots of fun. I ride my scooter as my primary form of transportation as it gets 100 mpg, and I have notice that this is turning into a scooter town. 4 years ago I didn't see too many scoots, now you can hear us beeping thru the night in moped solidarity. Another thing about nightfall in Austin - it is glorious. I fall in  love with the city again. It is the one time I feel content to be outside. Riding after 9:00pm when it falls just under 90F degrees with a slight cool breeze is joyful. But since I've owned the scooter I've always felt really sad when I have to leave Fergus at home as he loves going to coffee shops with me but I never want to take my car. I've investigated different ways of trying to transport him on he scooter in the past but always decided I would be too nervous with my "precious cargo" if I dropped the bike. Well, for some reason a few days ago I just marched into PetCo  & bought one of those front baby-holder type things & brought it home & when I stuffed him in it & walked out to get on the scooter for the first time he acted like "why did you wait so long?" So now we have been going on evening jaunts & he loves it (look closely at the blurry photo & you can see his wee fuzzy head). The looks I get from people in cars & one the streets is hilarious (I'm hoping it's not a "that poor woman is using a dog as a baby-substitute" look - but no, this is Austin, where you hardly ever see a white person with a baby). I always complain about my life when I'm at "home" but it reads like it seems like it should be really great. I guess it's as great as it can be for being in such a bad climate. I recently read in an Eckhart Tolle book that there is a type of person who cannot be happy unless they are travelling to unfamiliar places. I must be one of them. I can be "happy," doing my routine here, but not ecstatically living out the dictates of my daimon. I don't feel fully alive until I see that road stretched out before me into the unknown (or have hit that "make purchase" button on the airline website!).

I have a decision to make & it will be difficult: I've been offered a job at the South Pole that sounds really fun, but if I take it I won't see Will for 4 more months (and seeing him will be fun too!). How do you decide between love

Friday, July 11, 2008

Frisco, Fog, and even more Fun

I went to San Francisco to do the Master Class version of the painting workshop I've been doing for years. This retreat is different from the one in Toas, as it is for seasoned process painters so the teacher pushes us to greater depths of creativity. But the best part is that I get to be in this awesome city, which I'd move to in heartbeat if I was rich. The photo from Chinatown was taken halfway through the workshop, on our 1/2 day off. We were just giddy from the process & the over-the-top-ness of Chinatown was the perfect place to spend the afternoon. I am lucky enough to have met my fabulous friend Gwinn at a workshop in Taos in 2003, and her mom has a house in the Potrero Hill neighborhood in SF (worth moving there for Farley's alone! World's coolest coffee shop). So I get to stay in one of my favorite American cities (and the most expensive) for free. Gwinn's nephew stayed with us for most the week and I was forewarned that I would have to play Monopoly every night until my eyes burned with fatigue. I said I didn't know how to play & hid in my room pretending to be "writing," so I wouldn't have to get my ass kicked by a 10 year old at a board game. Well, I was ordered to play by Gwinn's mom as she was cooking dinner & someone had to take her place - and lo & behold - my super competitive, greedy persona kicked in and I discovered I loved playing Monopoly with a kid. The last time I had played I was probably 10 also, and my dad, a gifted businessman, left my sister & I  homeless & penniless within the first hour - so my memories of Monopoly was that it was very for skilled businesspeople only. But everyday I bolted from the painting class to rush home so could play with this darling boy. Its was one of the gorgeous treats from the universe that I could have never asked for. 
The other photo is the 2nd one I have in my Entire Photo Collection that features actual real live fog! My other fog photo was taken last year in the Highlands of Scotland, with Will (my darling boyfriend currently residing at the South Pole), and that fog was hard to find, as my frenemy Mr. Sun followed me Everywhere else in Supposedly Cloudy Countries. Anyway, I promised not to rant anymore about the sun (currently 100 degrees in Austin Tx :-)), so aside from the fact that I can wear a sweatshirt in June, SF has too many good qualities to name - but some of those are: Walkable! I lost 5 pounds just walking everywhere. Adults! There's grown ups everywhere, hardly any kids or strollers, and no giant waddling people like you'd see, say, on the Wisconsin peninsula (it's be tough to walk these streets if you weren't fit). Gorgeous architecture, friendly people, Alcatraz and other cool touristy stuff, and Farley's: a coffeeshop I could live in.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Crabby Old Mexico

It might seem strange that someone who becomes semi-hysterical when it is above 70 degrees and sunny, who goes all stabby at the thought of "swimwear" "tank tops" and "shorts", who would rather have a sharp stick in the eye than go to a sunny beach would go to a resort in Mexico in June, but that's what this icy-wind, arctic-cold loving blogger did. I went to a yoga retreat for 7 days in a jungle eco-resort outside of Sayulita, about 40 miles north of Puerta Vallarta. Eco-retreat means no electricity which means no air-conditioning. It must also mean tiny portions of food: vegan, vegetarian, ayurvedic (?) healthy food. Translation: no Tex-Mex. Despite all this, and for what has become a theme with this year's travel, I had a very very good time. I did almost no yoga! I laughed & hooted it up with my new friends while we climbed through the jungle from our palapas, squealing past the horror movie feel of what we were told by our hostess was the "crab migration" (imagine thousand upon thousands of defensive & noisy crabs rushing away from humans like a stabby, moving carpet ala the parting of the Red Sea. Imagine the foliage next to you crackling & shaking with hundreds of crab bodies as you stroll by trying to gaze out at the ocean while trying not to feel like you're in a movie adaption of a Stephen King novel). Reeling from the information we received that these critters would come inside our cabanas, we stumbled the sheer verticals to coffee in the am, drenched in sweat from our aerobic climb. The resort itself is fabulous: hand built in the jungle without the aid of earth movers (maybe they rolled the logs in over the crab bodies?); all palapas completely private and open air. As you can see from the picture, you could sit on the pot AND be tickled by local fauna (or was that... - no it WAS a palm frond), without having to go camping. The no electricity part didn't really hit me til it was dark & there was no lighting along the steep path to the cabanas or beach (that's when the crabs really gave you the heebee jeebies: backing up into a defensive stance, waving that one macho (or so they think) jumbo claw menacingly, black beady eyes hyper focused on the giant foot about to smash it). Luckily I had a flashlight, which I read by, and we had oil lamps in our cabanas - but life took on a magical quality with no wifi, cell phone, and the crab invasion that kept us alert. I honed my rock-scrambling skills on the big boulders lining the Pacific coast, did some jagged-rock-dodging, deep-water swimming, walked through the jungle everyday to visit the colorful town, giggled with all the new gals I met as we all met up for dinner every night to tell of our daily adventures. Some hardcore types took all the daily yoga classes (the classes were held in a building too high up for the crabs), but I was having so much fun not doing yoga that I didn't pressure myself to do it - and I was getting used to the crabs! It rained 5 of the 7 days so I was deliriously happy about that (that's why the crabs were out: their homes were flooded). Or course, a lot of the retreatants felt their vacation was "ruined" by the rain, but they eventually confessed in "closing circle" that the rain had made things more intimate between us (hello!). [warning! "reverse SAD" rant ahead: the seeminngly common notion that only cloudless blue skies with relentless sun is the preferred weather condition for every single day has always baffled me. Do these unimaginative sunburnt masses not know the heart pounding excitement of a violent thunderstorm, the soulful melancholy of dark clouds hanging like a mysterious grey curtain hung by a wizened old poet-god, the bracing and hope-filled day of promise provided by an icy breeze. I go on this rant under several aliases on several forums so I'll spare my Way Down Under loyal readers]. And these people were all Texans for pete's sake - you'd think they'd like something different than back home. I expected a yoga retreat to be all serious & PC, but it was like silly summer camp for post-menopausal women; and filled with crassness, irreverence, and barking spiders. There were two newlywed couples, which was really nice to see (aren't they on the endangered species list?), and of course the dependable warmth and hospitality of the locals, which is one of the bright spots of Mexico. Having been in Oaxaca and Chiapas on my last trip, I had forgotten how gringo-ized Jalisco (super touristy state I was in) was. Even the prices this far north were about the same as they would be in Texas. The street dogs were fatter and there was much less trash strewn around, but we didn't have those super cheap and delicious meals that were found closer to Guatamala. Oaxaca and Chiapas really felt like you were in a foreign country, whereas Sayulita was more like San Antonio. As far as travel destinations, Mexico is not high on my list - it is (relatively) convenient to get to for me and I really wanted to go on this yoga retreat-plus I have been many times. It is not far enough away for this Texan to get excited about. I have realized that the farther away, the more I yearn for it (unless it is some blank, buildingless pristine island in the middle of nowhere). So my next trip was to San Francisco, which is really as close to paradise as one can get for a large American city. I was so looking forward to the groovy coffee shops, the intelligent looking adults everywhere, more dogs than kids, Chinatown, pearl tea, and mainly mostly & with uberglee: fog!