Thursday, October 29, 2009

Levitation or yoga demonstration?

Guillermo Barrantes from Bikram Yoga Quincy was one of many participants who displayed their focus, concentration and stamina at the New England Regional Yoga Asana Championship 2009, on Saturday, October 24 at SpringStep in Medford, Mass. Although the event is called a "yoga competition," which in itself sounds like an oxymoron, it is more an event of yoga enthusiasts competing together to celebrate the ultimate lengths each yogi has been able to take his/her yoga practice. Underneath the founding of this "competition" is the hope that yoga will become a bonafide sport worthy of inclusion at the International Olympics. Once this distinction is achieved, yoga will easily become part of any public school curriculum, enabling its young practitioners to learn how to de-stress, promote health and fitness, as they learn a powerful tool for living a balanced life. Unlike other sports that often deplete, this discipline energizes the body and mind creating a sense of balance and calm that a lifetime yoga practice can instill.

Founder of the United States Yoga Federation, Rajashree Choudhury (above) of Yoga College of India, was on hand to lend her enthusiasm and support to all the participants. The final competition takes place in Los Angeles each February.

I took several hundred pictures at the event. Once I sort through them all, I'll post an album online so everyone can see what happened. Come back to this posting in a couple of days to link to that album. The link I just added tonight 11/1/09 will bring you to one of six albums from the event that are posted on my mobilme account. Once you've got entrance to that album you should be able to click on the other five if you want to see more. Above is Allie Foy from Bikram Yoga Concord, Concord NH.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Car free in Boston and environs . . . almost

Last Friday night my Nissan Sentra 2000 began to gasp and shake. The engine light flickered on and off and within a few minutes a burning smell wafted up to my nostrils. I parked the car to abandon it for the weekend until I could get it towed yesterday morning. Shades of past auto-neglect returned— that cracked block on the Dodge Dart because of no oil, and again on Blue Heinrich, my used Mercedes Benz deisel, that conferred vehicular status for a short period of my life until, that, too, died from lack of oil. I was already assuming that I would join the ranks of those car free in Boston citizens and returned, at least for the weekend and into Monday, to the public transportation system.

Yesterday I made my way on the Rockport commuter line to visit a friend. The round trip train ticket (Sr. price) was $7.35 and to my great surprise the ride included free WiFi.....OMG, how cool is that! The picture above is one of many I took through the window with my digital camera and transferred them immediately to my computer and was able to send some of the images to friends, all the while, never having to look at the speedometer to make sure I wasn't violating something or putting my life at risk.

The good/bad news from my loyal mechanic is that the car had some kind of ignition problem. There was plenty of oil and for now, I won't be car free in Boston, though I plan to use it less and less and may just make my weekly pilgrimage to Gloucester a mini vacation from the auto highway and ride instead an electronic one.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Not-so-daily blog . . .

I've changed my signature that appears on the bottom of all my emails. Part of the signature used to have this blog address, implying that it's a daily blog, but time and truth have surfaced. Now the blog address is prefaced by the words: not-so-daily. Some days I may even post twice, but then a week or 10 days might go by with nothing new. The busier I'm getting in this fall season, I'm finding that my walks are getting shorter and the zip that went into thinking of my blog first as my entry point into the day's creative action is changing. My latest foray into the land of inventing something out of nothing is songwriting. Now I've been listening to music and especially lyrics for years, but once I finished my behemoth novel FLORIANA a few months ago, I'm gravitating to shorter pieces of writing. Through a set of serendipidous connections, I've been immersed in songwriting for the first time and sometime in the not-too-distant future may actually make my way onto a stage to bark at the audience in whatever voice comes out. But let me tell you, short doesn't mean easy. The form of songwriting is full of craft traps that force you to express complex thoughts in simple language with the fewest amount of words. Call me a Jill of all trades, but I do love/hate being a beginner. Every time I learn something new I am a beginner and in this genre I'm at the lowest rung, but there's a kind of joy and ease in that. No expectations. I'm just doing it for the pure joy of it. Which brings me to a quote I've wanted to share with you for weeks now. It was on someone's office bulletin board and I copied it down so that I would never forget it. And today's the day I want to share it with you. It's by G. K. Chesterton. Not sure who he was, but he said,
A man must love a thing very much if he not only practices it without any hope of fame and money but even practices it without any hope of doing it well.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Classic Rock at the Lowell Auditorium . . .

I want to know what love is, I want you to show me . . . Hot blooded! . . . Cold as Ice . . . Urgent . . . I've been waiting for a girl like you to come into my life . . . It wasn't until my son Michael (pictured above on the keyboard from last night's concert in the Lowell Auditorium) began to tour with the band FOREIGNER, that I realized those classic rock lyrics from my past, had been created this 80s band, the only original member of which is Mick Jones (the original "foreigner" of the group). Most of their classic rock tunes appeal to all of our sturm and drang relationship woes and ecstasies, so when we hear them years later, they still pull at our fantasies and heartbreak, two aspects of the human condition that never change.

Wikepedia says Sturm und Drang (the conventional translation is "Storm and Stress"; a more literal translation, however, might be storm and urge, storm and longing, storm and drive or storm and impulse) is the name of a movement in German literature and music taking place from the late 1760s through the early 1780s in which individual subjectivity and, in particular, extremes of emotion were given free expression in response to the confines of rationalism imposed by the Enlightenment and associated aesthetic movements."

The concert at the Lowell Memorial Auditorium evoked all of those emotions. The crowd stood all evening swaying and singing along, each of us with our own personal history, reliving the music and all the sturm and drang attached to it— past and present.

If you'd like to see more pictures from the concert, click here and it will connect you to an album I've placed on mobile me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Who needs Maine when you can ride the Blue Line train?

Looking at this tranquil bay you would never expect that it is just a few minutes' walk from the Orient Heights stop on the Blue Line. Secrets abound in East Boston, Winthrop, and the cozy little quiet neighborhoods with triple decker houses whose porches spill out onto scenes like this. Although I saw several planes take off and land across the bay at Logan Airport, I heard no disturbing sounds. Not only the home of Boston's best pizza joint— Santarpio's, East Boston has one of the most exquisite views of the Boston skyline from Piers Park which you can easily reach from the Maverick Blue Line stop.

Instead of heading back to Boston the way we came, my friend and I did something very spontaneous when we got back to the Orient Heights T stop after our walk. In the spirit of exploring unknown places as I often have when traveling in Europe, I convinced my companion to jump on a Revere Bus Line bus that was waiting at the Orient Heights T stop just to see where it might take us rather than getting back on the Blue Line. Our bus driver, Riccardo, lives in Winthrop so he served as a guide answering all our questions as the bus went to its final destination: the entrance to a five mile trail that encircles the tip of Winthrop known as Deer Island— absolutely a trip I want to take in the future. I'll pack a lunch, put on my walking shoes and explore. By the time we found that spot, it was getting cold and windy, the light was fading so we stayed on the bus as it brought us back to Orient Heights. Deer Island would be a bookmark for the future, and hopefully, the near future—before the first snow.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Future wave . . .Flexi-Pave

Yesterday as I walked along Boylston Street, new trees appeared where there had been none. Rectangles carved out of the existing sidewalks days before were now homes to these delicate trees. Surrounding the base of each tree a layer of some kind of paving was being placed. When I asked the worker who was applying the surface if he thought the trees would survive the onslaught of winter, he said, "I don't know anything about the trees, I just put this stuff in around them."

It turns out that "this stuff" was a formula developed by a company in Florida that recycles tires.
This "paving" which sets up to a solid surface in 24 hours acts as a drainage material that allows the trees to breath underneath the solid surface. The worker told me that this Flexi-Pave was the wave of the future and that I'd be seeing lots and lots more of it. A trip to the Flexi-Pave web site told me lots more.

Here's a direct quote from the website: "The paving project comes out of a Duke Markets and Management Capstone course in which 12 Duke students consulted with Clearwater, Fla.,-based KB Industries (KBI). KBI Flexi-Pave manages stormwater runoff, and its largest ingredient (by volume) is recycled tires. The students and their professor, Sam Veraldi, helped to set up the installation on campus. By using recycled tires, the material helps reduce the disposal of tires in global landfills and incinerators while improving the management of stormwater runoff, one of the major issues facing urban areas today. Eliminating stormwater runoff is important to reduce flooding, prevent erosion, protect our environment and control water quality."

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Fall gold . . . what we see, what we are

On this morning's walk I noticed the random pattern of those maple "helicopters" crowded together with golden leaves and the words, "fall gold" came to me. An apt metaphor for this time of life in my sixties on a day when I'm feeling energetic, hopeful, and strong......knowing full well that it's not a lasting condition and that the ravages of time and gravity are catching up.

That's why I've decided to enjoy the moment, let the fall gold glimmer before my eyes and through my thighs as I walk around the city. I'm also beginning to hatch a scheme (one of my original sayings, "where there's a dream, there's a scheme") to find my way across the Atlantic again in 2010 to return to some of my favorite places, especially in Italy, but also to parts unknown. The ideal departure month is going to be May after the Somerville open studios sale at which I hope to sell a whole new collection of 2-d and 3-d collages I'll be creating from remnants of my earlier travels.

So stay posted about this master plan that is evolving and hope for my sake that the fall gold I'm enjoying right now will carry me forward to make this dream a reality.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Binky on the mound . . .

. . .mound of clothes, that is. After seeing Capitalism: A Love Story, by Michael Moore at the Kendall, I decided to walk a couple of blocks from the theatre to enhance my continuing, and most recent frugality as I passed through the doors of The Garment District. I'd been there years ago when I lived in Cambridge, but I'd never stopped at the "Dollar-a-Pound" mound where thousands of clothes are tossed every day to be purchased by the pound. Actually, one of my very favorite designer jackets was plucked from such a pile by a close friend who said she could see me in it the moment she saw it. It cost her 50 cents.

At the sight of the mound, I felt a bit squeamish about dropping to my knees to explore what treasures might be hidden below. I checked my bag at the front desk (that's when I met Binky) and dove onto the mound to dig. I found a few small items and a sweet vest for my friend—the same one who bought me the jacket a year ago. I'm going to wash everything first even though each piece of clothing seemed quite clean. Binky tells me that the pile changes every day and that on Saturday it's at its peak. After the dollar-a-pound (it's actually now $1.50 a pound) dive, I stood up and climbed to the second floor to explore some vintage clothes, shoes, and begin my research for a winter coat.

The Garment District will buy some of your clothes outright. You can bring them by appointment or bring them there on Wednesday and Thursday evenings from 4:30 to 7:30. I've got a huge amount of things I just don't wear any longer, so I'm going fill bags and bring them over there in a few days before the rush for Halloween costumes prevents any new acquisitions. Away from the Dollar-a-Pound mound, other corners of the Garment District are crawling with masks, sequins, and every imaginable disguise for the coming holiday.

And speaking of Halloween and all its symbols, I had to include this shot of the heart-stopping full moon I saw on my walk back to Boston from Cambridge across the Mass Ave bridge. This shot doesn't even come close to the power of the moon's glow that pulled me toward it with a magnetism only equaled when one gazes into the eyes of a newly beloved and groin magnets begin to exert their tremendous force.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Some more Aesthetics of Decay . . .

My friend Nancy and I found this century-old brick building that faces onto the channel that touches Charlestown on one side and the edge of the North end on the other side. Atop the building was what appeared to be a developer's banner with the name Love Channel Wharf or something like that. Sorry I can't remember it, but the building was surely weeping from its abandonment and neglect in spite of its location so close to North Station. And very much in need of some serious love. I took these few photos on Friday to give you a sense of grief about this building's plight. If I were independently wealthy or were connected to someone who was, I would, in a heartbeat, push to turn this behemoth structure into artist/writer studio residences and would claim my spot on the top floor.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Where are my gloves?

Yes, it is October One and on my early morning walk, the Charles River blew me its announcement that the long New England winter is on its way. I've been too busy contemplating my navel to actually write a blog about it the last few days so my photos have been in limbo in my iPhoto drawer and may never find their rightful (logical) place in a blog posting. Before this morning's walk I had thought about the headline: "Green: elixr vs. poison" or something along those lines for the photos below. Today's color was anything but green as you can see by my view of the city from the Mass Ave. bridge. It was silver, icy gray. I couldn't photograph the chill for you, especially for my readers in LA. But trust me, I came back rubbing my hands together as I searched for a pair of matching gloves and a hat for my head. Is summer really dead?

Green: Elixir vs. Poison

Clearly an elixir for health, this cocktail of seaweed salad from Typhoon, an Asian fusion restaurant on Boylston Street is the kind of green that saves lives, while the one below, a forgotten corner of the Muddy River where trash is rotting in stagnant green slime we see the poisonous view of the same color. Click on the pictures and you'll see more details.