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Am I Blue?


Ella Fitzgerald sang:

“Am I blue?
Am I blue?
Ain’t these tears, in these eyes telling you?”


Yes, I am feeling slightly blue. Winter starts to get rather long in Wisconsin when it is -9F outside. On the other hand, I am going to be leaving on a jet plane in just a few weeks. Destination: Bali. Thinking about that puts me in a totally different frame of mind about blue!

2See that boy in the blue shorts? He is making salt – the salt farm is between the Bali Sea and the Sea Communities Compound in Les Village. Sea salt contains about 80 mineral elements that the body needs. Ordinary table salt that is bought in the super market has been stripped of it’s companion elements and contains additives such as aluminum silicate to keep it powdery. Unrefined sea salt is a great choice of salt for flavor…

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The Holy Spirit Snatch

My friend Amanda has a favorite line she says often, and with gusto: “The universe conspires!” I do believe it does, if you look closely enough, you will see it. Don’t make any rash pronouncements about how and why things happen. If you are open-minded enough to let one step lead to the next: to simply let things and events and twisting turns in the path ‘happen’ as they will, you will notice the universe conspiring!

Something occurred last week that came as a total surprise to me. Was it my subconscious working behind the curtain, unbeknownst to me? Maybe. Or, quite possibly, it was what Anne Lamott calls “The Holy Spirit Snatch.” Lamott, one of my favorite writers, is a person I would probably label as “religious.” She refers not only to her spirituality on a regular basis, but also to events that occurred while teaching Sunday school, or something her minister said, or words pronounced by Jesus. I am in no way religious, but I would certainly call myself spiritual. So I know what she is talking about when she says an event occurred by way of the Holy Spirit Snatch: something grabs you and sends you hurtling down a new path that you didn’t even know existed a minute ago.

I was supposed to go to the Dominican Republic in April to begin dive master training. I received my certification as a rescue diver from this particular dive shop/instruction center in January. I had made arrangements to continue for a week in April and then again for four more weeks over the summe,r to achieve the next certification.  When I got there in January, I found I didn’t like the safety protocol of the program. I didn’t like the town where it was located. Republica Dominicana was beautiful, but I didn’t want to go back. It took me a few weeks to come to the decision, but one night I sat down and cancelled my flight, which had already been booked a few weeks earlier.

Then, I set it all aside. I would think about where to go on another day.

Over the next couple weeks, I sort of thought about it, in a very abstract way. I thought about diving in Mexico, but I had already made a plan to complete the dive master certification in July with a shop I was familiar with and respected there. I thought about all the beautiful places to dive that I hadn’t been to yet: Seychelles, Fuji, Australia…..

Then, along came the Holy Spirit Snatch. I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye, and looked that way quickly, but there was nothing there. When I turned back, I had clicked the button on the computer that read: “purchase” and I realized I had a plane ticket in April for Bali. I really don’t know how else to explain it.

And it felt right. It didn’t feel risky. It didn’t feel irresponsible. It didn’t feel ill considered. Even though you could say it was all of those things! Pondering risk at that moment, I reminded myself that taking a risk actually opens you up to a world of possibilities you have yet to consider. Something new.  Something fomenting. And, as Neil Gaiman says, “If you dare nothing, then when the day is over, nothing is all you will have gained.”

So off I go.


The Bali Sea


When leaving home for a distant place became less about brawn, women finally had the opportunity to venture out on their own. No longer were we stuck at home, waiting for our men to return and tell us stories about lands far away and people so different it was difficult to imagine what their lives were like.

Now, even a lone woman traveler is not unusual, though we still have certain limitations that men don’t have. Care does have to be taken with our personal, physical safety; certain places and situations avoided. But overall, thankfully, it is a big wide world open to us.

J. Kottler, in Travel That Can Change Your Life, stated: “… travel is an altered state of consciousness… transporting you not only to another place, but another dimension…”

A Short Visit in Los Angeles – A Reflection on Walking

As I walked up Beverly Boulevard this morning, I learned I was something of an oddity. Nobody walks in L.A. The shops and other places of business are one story, or rarely, two stories. Neighborhoods stretch out for miles and miles. The residents here drive wherever they have to go. Valet parking is available at restaurants and clubs, sometimes free and sometimes at great cost. Cars dive into open parking spots, as if they have found gold.

There are, however, the invisible walkers. Like ghost ships on a foggy night, the homeless shuffle the sidewalks, pushing their laden grocery carts in front of them. Each seem to be following their self specific round from one spot to the next, on auto pilot. The carts are mounded with home. Sheets of cardboard, ratty blankets rank and brown with dirt, bottles of water, overcoats over the top, tied down with belts or rope. A doorway, an open alley, a crawl space next to a garbage scow; all destinations. Only someone new to town, like me, seems to see them. They don’t make eye contact, they don’t ask for money. They sit, lay, or shuffle.

The drivers in cars see me, however. I am the lone person, apparently walking with purpose, along the sidewalk. Cars wait when I step into the crosswalk, to allow me to reach the far curb before they turn. So unused to people in a crosswalk, they don’t know how to judge the amount of time needed for me to cross. They could turn in front of me three times before I arrive at the point of walking in front of their car!

Now and then I did come across another soul, apparently walking with purpose, like  me. I learned, however, that some of these walkers were actually not like me, either.

A woman in a fashionable outfit, neat and clean, swinging her phone in one hand, walked twenty paces ahead of me mid morning. I noticed her only because we were both walking alone on the long stretch of sidewalk. Suddenly she stopped and spun, waiting for me to come abreast. I smiled, about to say good morning, when she pointed at me and began to chastise me, “…walking there…talk about me…. you have issues…” She then waved me past her. When I was two or three paces ahead, I heard the angry slap of her sandals on the pavement. She quickly overtook and subsequently passed me, shaking her head.

At the next crosswalk I waited through an extra light so she could move away well in front of me. I don’t know: maybe she didn’t want to share her sidewalk with me.

Before My Rebirth

The Liquid Sparkled
Edmund Dulac
from The Little Mermaid

The thin grass strings of the ghost net were wrapped securely around my right wrist. As soon as I realized what had happened, I began to struggle. That only pulled the net tighter. The lines had been woven strong to entrap the mahi mahi. The knife had dropped from my belt when I swam down to grab the immense oyster lying on the sand. The huge mollusk was under the net that I hadn’t noticed in my eagerness. It was the size of both of my hands spread out, and I could picture the pearl in the middle, as big as my thumb. In the center of that luminous pearl, a tiny grain of sand. This, my last pearl, had quickened my karma.

My knife lay next to a magnificent, lavender sponge.  Too far, I couldn’t even reach it with my foot. The needlefish nosing around it was of no danger to me now. I settled gently next to a huge fan coral that waved gracefully in the current.  A few small blue tang paused next to me.  Blue body, yellow fins, dark faces peering inquisitively. The school grew larger and encircled me. My wake.

Letting the last of the air out of my lungs, I watched the small silvery bubbles’ rushing and jostling ascent to the surface and the sun that wavered far above.  When I inhaled again, the water felt familiar in my lungs. I was back in my mother’s womb: part of the sea, the coral, and the tangs dancing around me. I found their dance and embraced it.