Sunday, March 19, 2017

Weekend intensive

These past few months I have been focusing on my home practice. Well, maybe 'home' isn't quite the right word, as I also carried my yoga mat and block to Hawaii, enjoying the ocean view and sun and breeze as part of my morning ritual.

This weekend intensive with Marlene at YCT was rejuvenating, and I was reminded once again of the privilege to have such a seasoned teacher's voice as a guide, bringing new perspectives to even the simplest of poses. Observing the shape of the legs and then using straps to straighten them to sit in dondasana for 5 minutes, and then seeing what awareness that brings to tadasana. In a workshop I usually surprise myself by being able to do something I didn't think possible: this time I managed to do a backbend, walking my hands down the wall right to the floor. Haven't done that in ages!

Although I am careful not to repeat the same sequences day after day, having a good teacher takes me out of familiar territory. I hear an instruction in a new way, or there is a pose I haven't done in awhile, and am reminded to bring it back into rotation.

I have made up some 'wild cards' to incorporate it into my mornings, cutting up old watercolours and writing some words: "uttanasana with your back against the wall,"  "Tadasana: standing, inverted and lying," "Be present," "palms flat against the wall," "Parivrtta Trikonasana " and "Ustrasana." Nudges to keep practice fresh.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Spring Forward - March Full Moon

We spent the weekend in Greely, Ontario and Chelsea, Quebec. After dinner, we watched the moon rise between branches of a forest, lots of snow reflecting moon shadow. A beautiful night, but too cold to venture outside, so we stayed in by the fire, enjoying the company of old friends. Now, back home, watching the moon rise over the neighbour's house. It is almost 8:30, darkness quickening.
This glow in the dark moon clock is made up of authentic lunar images taken in Western France by astronomy photographer Norbert. If it hung on my wall, I would turn it ahead by an hour today and wonder why we persist in daylight savings time. 

It doesn't hang on my wall, but I'm tempted to order it, and Amazon promises it would be here by March 14...

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Book Keeping

I like recording the books and authors I've read, and I'm not the only one! Several friends I know record their choices in hard cover books and others use virtual communities. Personally I've used Google Books, and My Library Thing, but mostly I've been using this blog. Sometimes I rate the books, sometimes pull quotes, sometimes share personal reflections of the learning or insights the books have brought.

Instead of listing books here in my blog, I'm going to give Good Reads a try as a way of tracking, see how it goes for 2017.

My book shelf includes the books I've read so far in 2017.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Hawaii Itinerary

We covered a lot of miles on our Hawaii trip, circumnavigating four islands on our drives and getting a birds-eye view from the air during Island hops. Each island is so different from the other, with vast differences within each. Elevation, wind direction, and age of the volcanic eruptions all make a huge impact on how much rain will fall, sun will shine, and plants will grow. 

The longer the Hawaiian place name,  the more it becomes a mist in my memory. Even now as I'm writing them down, any name more than three syllables evaporates. Complicating matters are the place names that appear on multiple islands and maps that identify the same geography with different names.

So before the words disappear like invisible ink, here is a quick overview of our itinerary over the three weeks.

HAWAII ISLAND Makalani Oceanview Cottage Pu'uhonua o'Honaunau (Place of Refuge) National Historic Park  Kealakekua Bay, Ho'okena Beach State Park,  Pebble Beach, Mahai’ula Bay, Green Sands BeachSouth Point, Kona Coffee/Greenwell Farms Stained Glass Cottage Volcanos National Park HILO Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden Kanile’a Ukulele Kaimu Bay MAUI Hana Cabana Road to Hana Waianapanapa State Park, Oheo Gulch, Seven Sacred Pools, Charles Lindburgh’s grave (Palapala Hoomau Congregational Church), Red Sands Beach, Hana town beach Moana Lani B&B-Lil Grass Shack Old Lahaina Town Feast at Lele Ka’anapali, Mokolea Point, Kapalua, Front Street Beach, Napali Beach,WHALE-WATCHING JoDo Mission OAHU Courtyard by Mariott Oahu Northshore Sunset Beach, Waimea Beach Park, Kaena  Point, Pupkea, Kailua, Haleiwa, Bonzai Pipeline Waimea Arboretum and Botanical Garden Iolani Palace KAUI Zen Root Maloaa Bay, Ke’e Beach Park, Tunnels, Wailua River, Princeville, Fern Grotto, Makana Mountain Kilauea Lighthouse  Jo2 Restaurant Waimea Plantation Cottages Driftwood Beach, Poipu Beach, Waimea, Hanapepe Kaui Coffee Waimea Canyon Allerton National Tropical Botanical Garden

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Kaui, Allerton Gardens

Moreton Bay fig trees in
Kauai's Allerton Garden
While in Kaui, we visited Allerton Gardens. This garden is one of five overseen by the National Tropical Botanical Gardens trust (NTBG). The only way to view them is to take a guided tour, which is a good thing. Many of the plant specimens here are imperilled and visitors to gardens are prone to taking seedlings and seeds home in pockets. Limiting visitors controls the volume of people traipsing through the space.  The guided tour also means, if you have a good guide, that you get to hear a bit of the backstory about the place. 

It was our guide's first tour, and he did a great job of telling stories without dropping Latin plant names.

The gardens were originally created by Robert Allerton and John Gregg Allerton, lifelong companions.
On March 4, 1960, Robert Allerton became a father. He was 86 at the time and his newly adopted son, John Wyatt Gregg, was 60. They had met 38 years previously at a "Father-Son" fraternity banquet at the University of Illinois where the single and childless Allerton, 49, had been invited by a friend to stand in as a "father" to a then 22 year-old Gregg, who was an orphan. Interviewed in the 1980s, Gregg explained: "Robert Allerton was invited over there for lunch for a football game and he didn't have a son and I didn't have a father so we were paired off and lived happily ever after. Historical Perspectives on Kinship
Robert Allerton was the artist and John Gregg Allerton was the architect. Together, their combined talents designed a unique garden concept of linked outdoor rooms. They would invite guests for dinner and feast in the moonlit garden. Visitors would be invited to choose costumes to suit their mood from a vast wardrobe. It sounds like the Allerton's knew how to entertain.

The Thanksgiving Room, where they often held their dinner parties, isn't named after the American holiday, but because Allerton was grateful he had not committed suicide earlier in his life, at a point of deep despair. Persevering had meant he lived to share the gardens with friends to an old age.

The Mermaid Room has a fountain that beats 52 times per minute. Just sitting there quietly is lovely meditation, as the fountain is timed to beat at the pace of the human heart at rest. Another area is planted with clumps of golden bamboo that tower overhead, making beautiful music on a windy day. Fountains and statuary adorn the landscape throughout. The gardens were ahead of their time and influenced landscape architecture for decades to come. 

Today the estate is maintained by NTBG and people can sign up for the tours, but it's also been the site of several films, including Jurassic Park and Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Research is underway here and at the McBride Gardens to study the potential of plants as healing pharmaceuticals and food sources. We saw a  seeded form of Breadfruit known as 'breadnut' that is grown for its nutritious, tasty seeds which contain 13-20% protein, 6-29% fat, and are a good source of potassium, calcium, and niacin. Seeds are boiled, roasted, or ground into meal or flour. This superfood is highly nutritious and has the potential to feed the world's hungry. NTBG is helping to study, propagate, and deliver breadnut plugs for planting to feed the hungry in Zambia, Costa Rica, Ghana and Nicaragua.

Just spending three hours here I could breathe easier - all the oxygen and the calming effects of the plants. Definitely one of the highlights of our Hawaii trip!