Sunday, June 29, 2014

It's a Big Apple

As I was paying the admission fee at the Morgan Library on Friday, a bus stopped at a light in front of the museum. The woman behind the desk glanced at the bus, made a face. I said, "Is something wrong?" The question was a mistake. When I asked, she immediately launched into a huge diatribe against her health insurance company, whose ad was on the side of the bus. She went on and on, maybe for 2 or 3 minutes, which is really a long time when all you want to do is get your little pin and go see some paintings.

Afterwards, I thought, That would never happen in Paris. Holy cow, no. But oh so New York. I had a friend who told me about a man who bumped into her as he was leaving and she was entering a store. It was a hot, oppressive August day in NYC. This was back in the 70s or maybe 80s. She was a New Yorker, she told him to fuck off. He said, "Well, ya know what? FUCK YOU!" And thus they began a contest of fuck your aunt fuck your uncle, etc. etc. At some point during the exchange, my friend suddenly realized it was Paul Newman she was swearing at.

As a New Yorker, you have to save face. The exchange dwindled off. They walked away from each other. Oh my, what a New York story. Can you imagine?

What I love about New York is that the city expresses itself. The people express themselves, the animals, even the buildings talk talk talk. It is a crazy city, a fabulous city. I love New York.

I am never lost in Manhattan. I feel oriented and comfortable, even while being completely overwhelmed. It is exhilarating, the island of intoxications, as the Algonquins used to say.

I was there Friday to meet up with an old friend from my SF days and also to coincide with an old blog friend who I had yet to meet in person.

It was a beautiful summer day, hot but not too hot because of a sweet breeze. It wasn't too humid yet. It was a glorious day. The meeting with my old blog friend was gold dusted for sure. She arrived at the end of the island, I came in to Penn Station. Both of us made our way to the fabulous High Line. She walked north, I walked south. We kept texting each other, met somewhere in the middle. It was very fun and so New York. It was cinematic. New York is cinematic.

I saw a fabulous show at the Morgan, after the woman at the front desk had had her say. I tried to walk a labyrinth at Marble Collegiate Church, but it wasn't open. I walked all around the Flatiron building, taking a dozen pictures at least.

The Empire State Building looked pink in the afternoon sun. I walked over to Grand Central Station, had cocktails in an au courant bar there. Then it was back to Penn Station.

After the first book, when Dorothy wants to go to Oz, she goes into her room at a certain hour and makes a secret hand signal whereupon she's whisked off to the Emerald City. Getting on the train and going up to Manhattan for a day feels like a visit to the land of Oz. It is so vivifying!

A couple of things I brought to my blog friend. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Love

The entire time I lived in California, I missed thunderstorms. I'm thinking about it this morning because a doozy of a storm traveled through DC last night. Oh the sizzling blue purple of lightning, the cracks, booms and long drum rolls of thunder, the pounding rain - love, love, love.

Weather is, in my opinion, the emotional body of the earth. Just as with emotion, everything is going on all at once. It was stormy here, but elsewhere on this complicated planet it was dry, cold, peaceful, windy and stormy in other ways. Weather is crazy. Weather makes sense to me. Hmmm.

Weather is my boyfriend. We get along sometimes, sometimes we fight. We fought all winter long which might be why, even though it has been rather hot already this summer in DC, I have not been in a mood to complain. I think I'm like this to some extent every summer. I enjoy a sweaty trudge through the waves of humidity and heat. Those walks are a great test of fortitude. I'm not an idiot, by the way - I always have a bottle of water and when I get overheated, I seek shelter, drink iced tea, cool down for awhile. After a sweaty walk, I enter the calm and cool of the chateau, sip a cool glass of water, take a shower, and next: a cold beer. Ahhh. Nothing in this world is as good as the shower and cold beer after a walk in summer heat. Nothing. Believe me.

The honeymoon ends in July, usually. I begin to dread the heat. I get out early, then spend the rest of the day binge watching some stupid tv, railing against the heat from my air conditioned space, longing for fall. I wonder how long my love affair with summer will last this year? I can't imagine I'll still be singing its praises in August, but who knows? Last winter was cold. I'm still getting over it.

I'm going to New York tomorrow, just for the day. I'll be meeting an old blog friend, then a bit later will connect with an old friend from my San Francisco days. I'm going to walk the High Line (the weather is supposed to be great tomorrow). Then I'm going to the Morgan Library to see a show featuring the symbolism of trees in romantic paintings, after which we'll walk the labyrinth at Marble Collegiate church. Then we will seek refreshment, after which I'll get back on the train, sleep in my own bed tomorrow night.

A dip into NYC is always enough for me. I am easily overwhelmed.

It'll be good to get out of the DC bubble for a little while in spite of how happy I am with the city and the season. A day in New York is always vivifying, like a thunderstorm. I will take pictures.

Happy Thursday. Shalom.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

This 'n that

I didn't plan to go for a long walk today. I meant only to go to the bank, run a couple of errands. But it was a beautiful summer day with a nice breeze, not too hot, and I didn't have to work. Before I knew what was happening I found myself wandering around the mall, popping in and out of the museums, checking out the scene at the Folklife Festival which will open tomorrow.

This is the kind of summer I hope for, full of lazy wandering, lots of pictures, inspiration. It seems proper that I should avoid all projects. I tried - and failed - to paint my bookshelf. I am not handy, what was I thinking? Someone else is going to have to do it for me - I'll pay them of course.

I also ordered a tiny bistro set to put out on the terrace. It arrived today - oh. It's a very bilious green, not the nice soft green in the picture. At first I thought I should return it, then I thought I might paint it - BAD IDEA, given the epic fail with the book case - and at last I thought to myself, Maybe I'll get used to it. 


I've got a post about dragons rolling around in my head, one about healthy boundaries for the Chateau Seven blog. So far they are only rolling around. They are not fully formed. So be it. What's the rush?

Summer is here and the livin' is easy.


Monday, June 23, 2014

Big Daddy

Big Daddy. The day I tried to water the garden we had our worst fight. I even showered him a few times. Afterwards he complained for an hour. It was only afterwards that I wondered if the garden hose looked like a snake to him. He must have been terrified. This pic is from that episode. After that, I used the watering can without incident. I mean, he didn't dive bomb me.

Hey, where did all the days go since the last time I posted here? Swallowed by the dragons? Drowned in the light of summer solstice? Frittered away? Refracted? Who knows? I used to be such a regular, reliable blogger. Hmm.

Solstice has passed and as usual, I feel relief. I look forward to the slow unwinding of the light. At this time of year there's too much light for yours truly. It's always the case, though this year has been a doozie. I was already so light filled from my trip to Paris that the long days of solstice put me over the top. I'm overfull of light, like a coffee cup that's too full but then you pour in cream anyway, knowing it will spill. I'm spilling light these days. It's quite a sensation! Though exhilarating, it's not comfortable. Fortunately it will not last forever.

I'm not complaining, by the way.

Life at the chateau has been exciting of late due to a family of mockingbirds who nested in the holly bush in front of the house. The daddy mock has figured prominently in the story of my days, at first dive bombing me every time I passed the nest - which is every time I come or go from the house. He and I, over time and strictly by necessity, eventually formed a relationship of slightly uneasy, mutual tolerance. We accepted one another as part of the landscape, begrudgingly.

One of Big Daddy's favorite perches, atop the weeping spruce.

The birds have fledged and though still hanging around, they are venturing further afield every day.  I will not miss being scolded by Big Daddy but I appreciate his teachings about fierceness and loyalty, about the hard work involved in creating a family. I'll be thinking about this episode for a long time.

Mockingbirds, rainbows, Sir Isaac Newton and an abundance of light. That was my solstice.


Iphone pic from last night. Terrible quality but it conveys his temperament.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Rainbow Connection

Solstice is almost here. The light has arrived, I tell you. The abundance of light at this time of year can be disconcerting, at least for me. How do Icelanders handle their solstices? It would be hard on me.

I've been thinking about Sir Isaac Newton, someone who thought a lot about light, who channeled the laws of physics while hiding out in a cottage, trying (and succeeding) to avoid the Black Death or whatever hideous plague was going around then. He took with him a book of 600 blank pages, a very precious and unusual thing during the 17th century, expensive as hell if you could even find one to buy. He holed up at the cottage, poked himself in the eye, watched Brother Sun, did a lot of thinking. He was a really weird guy. He also made all his own tools and prisms. No doubt he did some great thinking while making his tools. Then he wrote. Much of what he wrote is still considered rock solid in the world of science. He was a real mystic.

Sometimes I like to plow through his writings - just a little bit, just a peek here and there. Reading too much of it makes my eyes cross, but the bits that come through reveal his genius.

I shall without further ceremony acquaint you, that in the beginning of the Year 1666, (at which time I applied my self to the grinding of Optick glasses of other figures than Spherical,) I procured me a Triangular glass-prisms, to try therewith the celebrated Phaenomena of Colours. And in order thereto having darkened my chamber, and made a small hole in my window-shuts, to let in a convenient quantity of the Suns light, I placed my Prisme at his entrance, that it might be thereby refracted to the opposite wall. It was at first a very pleasing divertissement, to view the vivid and intense colous produced thereby.

Did people think like that back then, with herewiths and therebys? Or was it just the style of writing?

I'm coinciding with rainbows right and left since returning from Paris. If it had been just once or twice, I probably wouldn't think much about it. It is solstice, there is a lot of light and a lot of glass in my environment, hence the refractions are abundant. I notice and enjoy the Phaenomena of Colours, but I can't remember coinciding with them as frequently in the past. Everywhere I go, it seems, I am stepping into a rainbow. This is a shift from the usual pattern, hence I'm paying attention. I have no doubt that the rainbow connection is auspicious. What could ever be wrong with rainbows?

The encounters have been like scenes from a movie. One day, standing in line at the coffee shop, a woman behind me in line said, I hope this doesn't sound weird. A rainbow is tapping you on the shoulder. Indeed I was standing in the perfect spot, at the perfect time of day, at the perfect time of year, so that the Suns light forthwith refracted through a window Prisme, creating a very pleasing divertissement, the Phaenomena of Colours, that without further ceremony fell therewith on my shoulder. It was one of those you-can't-make-it-up moments, in particular because it's not normal behavior in DC to tell a stranger a rainbow is tapping them on the shoulder.

A rainbow tapped me on the shoulder? C'mon.

A couple of weeks before Solstice, the sun moves far enough north to shine through my kitchen window for a few minutes in the late afternoon, filling my kitchen with rainbows. Oh that Phaenomena of Colours!

I liked the idea of a selfie with the rainbows, had no idea that it would come out as if someone had placed a hand on my forehead. It's a left hand, gently making contact. Is it a Vulcan mind meld? It looks like a magical blessing to me.

The rainbows are blessing me and probably giving me a lot of great information. I wonder what they're teaching me. Do you know?

Friday, June 13, 2014


Taken a week ago.

Often when I talk about astrology, the people around me make that face, you know - that face that says, "I don't believe in that." As I've gotten older, more confidant, and bolder, I've taken to asking the person making the face, How much do you know about astrology? Inevitably they have to admit they know little or nothing about it, which does not keep them from sneering at me. I'm sure there are exceptions, people who have studied astrology but still reject it, though I haven't met any of them.

Astronomy and astrology used to be one and the same, until the bloody Age of Enlightment, when they went their separate ways. I believe both the art of astrology and the science of astronomy suffered from the split. Neither is whole any longer. It's a shame.

Today is the full moon, aligned with the galactic center. Astrologers have only just begun to think about a language to describe the impact of this kind of alignment since it hasn't been that long that we even knew where the galactic center was. Astronomers are trying to imagine what it's like at the center of the whirling spiral of galaxies. They imagine a huge black hole in there. Wow! Now that we know where it is, both astronomers and astrologers wish to understand it.

Astronomers seek to understand the mechanics of the galactic center, the physics of it. Astrology involves poetry. We astrologers seek a language to describe the impact. As always, that language is elusive.

The Friday the 13th part of today is, of course, completely human-made. The idea of Friday the 13th flutters through most American minds one way or another (whether we think it's lucky or unlucky, I mean.) It's an auspicious day for me since I was born on Friday the 13th.

Friday the 13th, though human-invented, packs a wallop. Full moons, by virtue of their appearance, as well as the way they tug on us, always magnify the energy. Yes, they tug on us, just as they push and pull the tides. We aren't as large as the oceans, of course, but we feel it, we surely do.

A full moon lined up with the galactic center must certainly up the ante in some way.

I'm feeling it, definitely. There's a sharpness to my energy I don't normally sense. I walked a lot faster this morning than I usually do. My eyes were darting about, rather than gazing contemplatively. I felt more like a bird than a woman. Oh man, the moon makes me nuts!

Looking forward to working today; it'll be good to have somewhere to focus the abundance of light and energy. Trying to take it easy today, a challenge.

My mantra: Shalom.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Nothing fancy

I had a great day today, a fun day. I didn't think much about my ancestors, did not grieve or worry about anything.

Before it got too hot, I walked down to the Capitol, then hung out for awhile at the Botanic Gardens. There was a nice breeze and I was wearing my new hat which has an enormous brim. I feel sheltered by that hat. It's an excellent hat.

I took a bunch of pictures, my favorite thing. When it got too hot, I took the Metro home.

This afternoon I worked on clients, another favorite thing.

Right now I'm drinking a Tanqueray martini, watching a big storm roll in. Looks like it's going to be a toad strangler, as we used to say in the midwest.

I'm cozy and cool in my nest at the base of the chateau. I cooked yesterday (from the Jerusalem cookbook, a spicy carrot salad and lemony leek meatballs) so after my martini, I'll only have to throw together a green salad, warm up a couple of meatballs, et voila! Dinner. I'll watch a movie or stream some kind of stupid TV, go to bed early.

This is the kind of day I hope to enjoy all summer long, a day of modest ambitions, simple pleasures, good work, delicious food and tasty intoxication.

Life is good and I am grateful. Shalom.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Blood is thicker than water

At the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris.

It began when I was brought into the blood of Mongolian shamanism. As part of the ritual, I was asked to talk about my ancestors. At the time I knew barely anything. I was even a little hazy on the first names of my grandparents, knew very few of their stories. I had a general sense but did not hold the history.

This is common for Americans. We are such a young country; all of us are immigrants. I've heard people say it isn't such a big deal not to know our family trees. Because we don't know the land and stories of our ancestors, we can begin anew, recreate ourselves in any way we can imagine. Our history does not limit us. It's an interesting point.

It took me a couple of minutes to tell my initiator what I knew about my ancestors. After I stopped talking, she looked expectantly at me, waiting for more. But I had no more to tell her. She didn't even blink. After that she told me about her ancestors, going back to 1300!

Well. I was appalled at my ignorance. Suddenly curious, I found out as much as I could from my siblings, one of whom had done a big chunk of genealogy work. On my father's side, the trail went cold with the Holocaust. We knew or guessed that some of our people died in that awful storm, though what my father talked about, when he talked about his family, was persecution under the Czar.

I didn't know that I would ever learn anything further about my ancestors, but suddenly, after that initiation, I wanted to know. I wanted to come into the blood of my family. I wanted my ancestry to be real, not just a story about the Czar, not just pictures of other people's suffering in the Holocaust. It was at that time that I began to "talk" to this branch of the family. I asked them to tell me their stories, even though I didn't know the particulars. They're still family, I figured, even though I didn't know their names or their stories. They were real people.

I wrote them letters that I mailed to myself, I actively imagined what they might have been like, how their lives might have been. I thought about looking into the Holocaust chapter of their lives but was so overwhelmed at the prospect, I didn't know where to begin. So I talked to them, straight from the heart. I wanted to make a connection. I put it out there. That is how the ancestor work began.

One of the projects I undertook at that time was the creation of a coat of arms. I made it up of course. I drew it hundreds of times. Every version was slightly different. I have a whole book of drawings. This one is dated 7-15-02.

The shape is both a heart and a shield. At the center is the world axis and a symbolic reference to the four elements, directions and seasons. At the time I designed this, I was heavily into the study of the Masons who designed DC, hence the pyramid and eyeball. The star above represents the soul and divine guidance. The heart represents connection and love, the shape on the left is meant to convey the eternal connection of the generations. Of course there's a motto, too - coats of arms always have mottos. Mine was: Good Health, Splendor and Grace.

Jews don't have coats of arms as far as I know, but I loved my design. For me it was my way of saying I wished to be part of the larger context, I wished to join the lineage of my family.

This is the Coat of Arms of the city of Kremenets, the city closest to my family's shtetl. Very cool. That dragon is going down.

It was a couple of years later that I was called all of a sudden to teach witch camp in England. That's when I decided to go see my Aunt Edie in Paris. She died a few months later, so my timing was rather spot on. I figure the ancestors were whispering in my ear by that time, even though I wasn't always conscious of it yet.

I wrote about that trip to Paris. Here's a link to that post.

When I took on this work with the ancestors, I was very idealistic about it. I imagined that only the wisest, kindest, most fabulous ancestors would speak to me. Could I have known that the ancestors most sorely in need of healing would come? Maybe. In 2002, I was just beginning the process of taking back my soul's purpose as healer. I didn't put two and two together at the time. But now I get it - of course the souls who need healing responded when I asked to be connected. Of course. For heaven's sake. If you were stuck in the horrific echo of the Holocaust, wouldn't you swim towards good health, splendor and grace? I would. I surely would.

It's a big job, this ancestor work. I feel lonely within it. Some people think I'm making it up, which, of course they would since this is 21st century Washington DC. Others understand that what I'm involved in is classic human behavior. Humans have always worshipped and honored the ancestors. Lineage looms large for homo sapiens.

As a young woman I did everything I could to escape my family. I had it all backwards, oh my I surely did. In recent years I've rejoined my living family with enthusiasm, even gusto. I've been welcomed back with open arms. This is what the ancestors wish for, an open-armed welcome.

I'm trying, dear ancestors, I really am. I asked sincerely for this connection and honor your vigorous response.

Rather than reliving your pain over and over, will you come forward in time, please, and check out the good health, splendor and grace of the lives of our clan? Please? Our tribe is flourishing! You need not suffer from the old wounds any longer. Come join our party, yes? I say yes. How do you say yes in Yiddish?
Just say  יאָ.

Yes! The Holocaust is over. We must rise from its ashes. Shalom.

This is not my family. It's the Strauber family in the shtetl of Potok, in Poland, 1935. I've yet to find any pictures of the Melikiers, but this is close enough for jazz.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Back to Reality

What is reality anyway? I've always wondered.

Whatever it is, I'm back from my lovely Reiki week reverie. It was a soft landing, I'm happy to report, a relief. What goes up, must come down, it's a law of nature. Sometimes I come down in a crash 'n burn fashion, sometimes more gracefully. This time: graceful. Next time? Who knows.

Midsummer has arrived in DC. The air is languid, but not yet hideously hot. The magnolias are blooming (see above). The pollen orgy is winding down. Now heat and humidity will settle over the landscape. After last winter, I almost look forward to it.

My only goal for the summer is to enjoy myself, to live my life. I will not take on any big projects nor cultivate ambitions to do anything big. I'm going to live my life this summer. Hoping the livin' is easy.

I'll cook and have friends over for dinner, sit at the Matchbox bar, see clients. I might get out of town to go up to my friend's cabin in W. Virginia, or maybe go to the beach for a couple of days. Other than that, I'll be in town, hanging out, walking around, taking pictures.

Life is good. Reality is good. I have no complaints.


Saturday, June 7, 2014


On the grounds of the Capitol, clover is in bloom.

Report from Washington DC: life is good.

I taught Reiki this week, always a good experience though there was something extra special about this week's class. The person I was teaching is perfectly suited to the art, already well versed in the language of energy, and pure of heart. I looked forward to the sessions, learned so much. What is better than work well done? It is the most satisfying experience for me.

Inspired by the teaching, my work with massage clients was focused and harmonious. And the synchronicities were abundant. Just as I was thinking of someone, they texted. Questions that popped up as I walked around (in the splendid weather) were immediately addressed. For instance I was thinking about long distance Reiki when I ran into a neighbor who asked if I could send long distance Reiki to someone in need. It was instantaneous. What an auspicious week.

Yesterday I was standing in line at the coffee shop, thinking about my soul retrieval at the Eiffel Tower, about how the clouds parted, after which light travelled down the tower, re-entered my being. I was thinking about my motto of the last couple of years: Let there be light, how I went to the City of Light and the light arrived. It surely did.

I photographed my soul retrieval. The ultimate selfie.

Just then, a woman standing behind me in line said, "I hope this doesn't sound weird - a rainbow just tapped you on the shoulder." She pointed to a strip of refracted light that was indeed touching my shoulder. It was exactly the right time of day and I was standing exactly in the right spot to make contact with the rainbow. AND there was someone in line behind me who felt compelled to tell me. This is not a normal thing to do in Washington DC, I should say. Extraordinary.

That was my week. A fabulous week. All is well in DC. Shalom.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The time traveler

I thought for sure I could guess at least most of the 10 oldest cities on earth, but I was so wrong! I'm Eurocentric, for sure. Most of the oldest, consistently inhabited cities are in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey and Iraq. Of course!

Paris did not appear in the top 10 at any site I googled. Nevertheless, it's old.

One of the places I'm sorry I missed seeing while I was there is the Musee Carnavalet. There are artifacts there from settlements on the Ile that date back 10,000 years. People have been on and off that island in that ancient river for a long time. Consistent settlement goes back somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 years.

Paris reminded me of Varanasi in so many ways. Both cities are ancient, have a very powerful spiritual vibration and history. Both cities feel vortextual, as if they are very slowly spinning, kind of like a revolving restaurant. I've never gotten so turned around as in Paris and Varanasi. It's interesting. I assumed Paris would feel more like Rome but it didn't, at least not to me.

The U.S. is such a young country. Our oldest cities go back a few hundred years which is really nothing. In Paris, I kept thinking about how short our human lives are. It took several lifetimes to complete Notre Dame, can you imagine? You could have lived a very long life and only seen it under construction. Boggles my American mind.

I'm happy to put Paris somewhat behind me. Of course I'm still thinking about it - I'll be doing that for a long time. By "behind me" I mean I've felt normal now for awhile. The energy is settling. I'm relaxing. This is a good thing.

As for the ongoing ancestor work, instead of going back in time to feel their pain and listen to their incessant griping, I'm encouraging them to check out the wonders of the lives of my siblings, nieces, nephews, and grand nephews and grand nieces. Another grand nephew was born yesterday. Mom and son are healthy and happy. Our tribe is fruitful.

The history of Paris includes a lot of ups and downs. The city has been sacked, burned, abandoned, conquered - so many times! There have been kings, queens, presidents - even an emperor. There was a war that lasted 100 years. Can you imagine? Heads have rolled in that city, I tell you. And yet the soul of Paris rises from eras of chaos, always more beautiful, magnetic, graceful and alluring than before.

The Holocaust is over, grandmothers, aunts, grandfathers, uncles. We must rise from its ashes. If Paris can do it, you can do it. C'mon ancestors - c'mon!