Humanity, Or, Saturday Morning at 8:58am


This is one of those moments when I don’t think I have an apolitical Saturday post in me.

I could tell you that a Monarch finally visited my milkweed patch. I was thrilled, yes, but given the other events of this week in America I can’t do butterflies this morning.

Let me leave you with a thought. An American I know who is married to a Swede and lives in Sweden told me there Southern Europeans aren’t considered “white.”

What does that tell us? What then is “white?” What does this mean for the idea of “white” in America? Why is there “white?”

You guys are smart. I’m not going to belabor the obvious. Maybe this will surprise you, as it did me, maybe it will clear your eyes as it did mine. Or maybe you already understood.

There is so much difficult work to be done, but on Saturday morning let’s allow ourselves to believe it’ll be easy. Consider the idea of humanity, and what it means to be humane.

Two Weeks In Scotland And England With My Adult Son: Part 2, England


England

Actually let’s finish up Scotland. Because when you and I last spoke, my son and I hadn’t yet departed. Guess what happened when we tried to check in at the Edinburgh airport? Cancelled plane. Minxish conveyances!

We had had tickets to Gatwick, final destination Brighton. Due to “an incident on the Gatwick runway,” and resultant shutdown of afternoon flights, British Airways had rebooked us to Heathrow. It’s only an hour from Gatwick to Brighton but Heathrow meant an hour+ ride into London and then another hour+ down to Brighton. Sigh.

My son did an excellent job of talking me down. As did the Xanax I take to cope with fear of flying. We got where we were going.

Hint: Travel with calming people and substances.

Brighton

Why Brighton, you might ask? Why not Bath, for more Georgian townhouses? Or Stonehenge, for the ultimate standing stones? I’ve got online buddies in Brighton and was dying to meet their children and understand where they lived.

So, Tuesday morning we woke up here, at an airbnb in Brighton’s “Lanes” neighborhood. Alleys, cobblestones, and walled gardens. With palms.

The house was wonderful, and the host a real gem (who even subsequently mailed me the clothes I left there, no fuss no muss). Loud nocturnal seagulls were our only complaint, but, earplugs were provided in a basket next to the bed. Very considerate.

We spent midday with Laura of baby, picture this (I’ve written about her and her photography before), and her beyond cute daughter, picnicking in the Brighton Palace Gardens.

Then my son and I walked down to the sea. I had visited Brighton once as an 11-year old, only to accuse my parents of lying to me by calling the seaside slope of rocks a “beach.” Brighton then was populated by English pensioners, now it reminds me of some Californian coastal towns. The pensioners remain, but they’ve joined forces with London commuters, artists, and flocks of European high-schoolers on summer courses.

Resulting in, for example, a guy dressed in a zebra costume playing the keyboard to throngs of unbothered passers-by.

Hint: Visit your online friends where they live and let them show you the sights.

Time to go back to the flat. We walked through the North Laines district. So good.

Fortuitously, the district is full of small jewelry stores. We bought my son an earring. The one he wore had been giving him trouble, and what with my own metal allergies I was determined to find him something in high-carat gold or platinum. We wandered in and out of small stores until we met a jeweler with loose stones he would set to order. My son chose an oval garnet  to set in white gold, the slight discord of a brown-red stone against the setting perfect for him. One of those moments where you believe that the universe knows and cares.

Hint: Shop in Brighton instead of London, you may find more original goods.

And then we met Laura, and my other friend Cate, and their families, for dinner. While we have a long time online friendship absolutely real in its own way,  there’s no denying that real life meetings deepen connection..

Photo by my accommodating son.

All those cute children. Sigh.

London

Wednesday morning my son and I took a train up to London, botching our our first attempt because in our plane-cancelled fog we’d bought incorrect return tickets. Minxes.

We walked the streets the day we arrived because, London. Some places familiar,

and some new, at least to me. I can’t believe I’d never been to London’s Chinatown before.

But in the end, the real joy of this visit to London was our Museum Thursday.

I confess, I don’t really like museums. I know. I find all that walking and stopping uncomfortable –my sister coined the term “Museum back” – and I’m prone to visual overload. But my son is a huge fan. So I spent Wednesday evening in our hotel reviewing exhibitions and researching places mentioned on social media.

Thursday morning we ate a no-fuss breakfast at the hotel’s club lounge, and set off. On foot. First stop, the Tate Britain.

Tate Britain, Queer British Art 1861-1967

I found it moving, almost painful, to be reminded of how dangerous LBGT life used to be, and not so long ago. My son, I think, experienced the exhibition more immediately, enjoying the journals and sketchbooks, the intimate look at people across a century. Either way, it was a beautiful show and much recommended.

Vernon Lee 1881 John Singer Sargent 1856-1925 Bequeathed by Miss Vernon Lee through Miss Cooper Willis 1935

Mr. Sargent participated.

via The Upcoming

Somerset House, Perfume

My son is a scent hobbyist, not so much in the wearing or the making, but in enjoyment. Fortuitously, again, thank you universe, Somerset House had put on a really well-done interactive exhibition of various scents through history. From a display of classic perfume bottles,

to smell and ponder stations. That little white triangle is full of a perfume – unnamed. You sniff, and look,

then fill out a card like this. Ten stations in all. Fascinating.

via Wallpaper

Sir John Soane’s House/Museum

I remembered that Reggie and Boy Darling had visited Sir John’s place in 2016, and wanted to take a look.

via The Londonist

Sir John actually lived here. Whoa nelly. Curiosities ‘R Us. Perfect in contrast to what came next.

National Gallery

Finally, almost as a matter of course, we headed to the National Gallery. On arrival, we found this tapestry. Designed by Chris Ofili, who happens to be one of my son’s favorite artists, and woven in Edinburgh by a studio my friend Cara knows.

via Time Out

If you’ve got a minute, watch this short video on the process of creation.

But really, the piece needs to be seen in person. It’s enormous; for context, here you see it hanging on a double height wall.

via BBC

Made me want to sing.

Hint: Feel no shame if you decide to dash in and out of the world’s great museums, seeing only what you choose.

And that was that. Back to New York the next morning, this time our Delta flight a Virgin Airlines Upper Class. I will only say that we declined the option to have “my driver” drop us off at a private entrance, taking Uber to the standard entrance instead. The Upper Class lounge is fantastic – again, look for those companion-fly-free-or-half-price business fares, they come with a lot of perks.

The New And The Familiar

I’ve been thinking since we returned.

While we experienced the best of New Place Travel in Scotland – an eyes-wide reaction to the never seen before – our trip to London reminded me there’s joy in the familiar. In new places, we travel broadly, watching new patterns assemble themselves out of raw experience. In the familiar, we travel deeply, instinctually, trenching the details of patterns we knew but not so well.

Lodging and Mealing

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The Real True Circadian Rhythm Of One Retired Middle-Aged Woman, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:11am


Retirement is teaching me about my self, absent structure. Some lessons are grandly philosophical. “Where do I end and the world begin?”

Some not so much. What are my circadian rhythms, for example, when I don’t have to be much of anywhere if I don’t really want to?

  • Very early morning: Wake up. Isn’t life grand? So happy I have white walls. Gee whiz my down pillows are awesome.
  • Early morning: Have breakfast at the kitchen counter and read the Internet. Ah, the tea, toast, and peanut butter + chocolate hazelnut butter I have been looking forward to since last night. There is no reason to ever change this meal.
  • Late early morning: Move to the sofa. Time to write. Type type type type type procrastinate type type type get distracted type type type come on Lisa persevere. If brain refuses to generate quality prose, handle administrative tasks instead. Type type type.
  • Mid-to-late-morning: Cease typing. That’s it, I can’t stand it any more! Burst out of the cocoon of self-discipline and do something physical. Transplant burned hydrangea. Clean the bathroom. Go to yoga. Move.
  • Late morning/midday. Besieged by hunger, eat a big lunch. Feel satiated.
  • Late morning/midday five minutes after finishing lunch. Complete exhaustion. Rest. Stave off rising anxiety with whatever television series I’m currently watching.
  • Early afternoon. Still resting. Why is the world so vast? What means anything? Do I matter at all? And why didn’t I get more done?
  • Mid-afternoon. Oh I guess someone has to make dinner. Lay out ingredients and stare at them. Alternatively, get in the car and go visit my mother. Either way, meaning has been located. Perform the chores of care and support.
  • Late afternoon. More progress on dinner. Alternatively, say goodbye to Mom and go to Whole Foods. Funny, what happened to anxiety? Oh never mind, no time for that now.
  • Very late afternoon. More progress on dinner. Dinner prep is kind of episodic, given that it must begin in the depths of my circadian despair. Just looking at a radish and a carrot lying together on a cutting board cheers me up.
  • Early evening. Husband comes home! Joy restored! Also must hurry to finish making dinner! Chop all the things very quickly!
  • Mid-evening. Eat. Sigh.
  • Later evening. A little more television.
  • Later evening yet. Hooray, burst of energy! Bustle about tidying, preparing! Write a To Do list for tomorrow!
  • Later evening but still not late by any measure. Get into bed. The walls are still white. The pillows still soft. So lucky to be here.

In brief, if you would like any of value from me, send an email at 6am and I will do my best.

Have a wonderful weekend, and may your circadian nadir be short and shallow.

 

Two Weeks In Scotland And England With My Adult Son, Part 1: Scotland


I’ve recently returned from two weeks travel with my adult son in Scotland and England. Having drafted this post and watched it get longer and longer, I’ll publish in two parts. Scotland below, England to follow as soon as I can manage. I’ve bolded each day, like this, because if it’s hard for me to remember and track what we did I can only imagine how confusing it might be for you. Tally-ho!

Traveling in Edinburgh at 60

Edinburgh. You have to stop and stare and breathe a lot. Photo by my son.

Scotland was a revelation. That legendary land of dour people, terrible food, and worse weather? It doesn’t exist. Well, the weather is real. But the people are lovely, warm, funny, personal. The food is incredible – especially all the seafood. Even the rain, at least on our visit, was light and intermittent enough to allow for a lot of walking about.

So. We landed in Glasgow, on a Monday morning. It’s a funny little airport. The floor is covered with some kind of laminate to look like rocks, the walls by a photo mural of trees. Hint: If you have an American Express Platinum card you can find really great deals on business class. Companions fly half price, and then you can both lie down and sleep your way across the seas.

Glasgow feels like a funny little city itself – although, as the residents hasten to explain, in fact it’s pretty big. But the city spreads out, across neighborhoods, and feels sparse. Some of the architecture is beautiful, but a lot is very simple. Fitting for the city’s history of merchant traders.

A modern day merchant.

That first afternoon we walked to the Botanic Gardens and Kibble Palace (a quirky and worthwhile greenhouse conservatory), the University, and the West End. All quirky, now that I think about it. Glasgow feels like a place where people are engaged in projects and you are catching glimpses but nothing’s on display.

On Tuesday we took a train out to Stirling, to see the castle. Because, Scotland.

History in stone. My favorite parts were the garden, and a choir singing modern pieces in the Great Hall. Hint: Stirling’s royal structure is WAY less crowded than Edinburgh’s, so if you want to castle in relative quiet, this is it.

When we got back from the castle we walked up to Glasgow Cathedral and the Necropolis. If you like a nice cathedral, with pews ornamented with the coats of arms of leading merchant families, and cemeteries where many of the interred are named Alexander, this is it. Again, quirky. Intimate.

We stayed at the Glasgow Marriott, because, Starwood points. Perfectly nice building, exceptionally nice staff. (I’ve listed all the accommodation and restaurant links at the end of the post).

Wednesday we made our way north to the Isle of Skye, to catch an evening ferry.

However, before we got to island skies and the personalities of granite, we had to rent a car. This was not fun. Confusion between Amex Platinum and Hertz, to say nothing of Hertz giving us an enormous SUV when we had asked for something teeny. The bonny banks of Loch Lomond are nae sae bonny when the effort of gripping a steering wheel blurs your vision.

Scotland’s A82 does not suffer large autos gladly.

Hint: Confirm everything about your rental before you leave, including the degree to which your credit card covers your insurance, and the size of your automobile.

But oh the higher Western Highlands are something. I took no photos, perhaps because that death-avoiding grip froze my hands, but believe me Glen Coe is one of the most beautiful places on this green earth. Also the greenest. Although I know my father’s family’s roots are in the Scottish Lowlands, there’s a river here called the Carnoch, and in my imagination, when the sun shone my ancestors lay on their backs on these hillsides and ignored their hunger for the sky.

We did finally manage to muscle our way to the Isle of Skye, and the Caledonia Mac ferry in the port of Uig. Unfamiliar with the process, I asked the ticket taker when the boat would leave. “The petrol tank needs filling,” he said. I, American, was bewildered. I’d asked a clear question. “But,” I said, “When do you think the boat will leave?” “That I canna tell ye,” he said. Off he walked, turning back to grin as though I were the funniest thing in the world. We left on time.

Hint: Do not hurry through the Highlands.

Mackerel skies and a slate-blue sea delivered us to Lochmaddy, from whence we drove to Langass Lodge, on the west side of North Uist in the outer Hebrides. The hotel is splendid. My room was teeny, and cosy, and beautifully tartaned in tones of heather and bracken. You know how when you travel you suddenly covet furnishings you’ve never wanted before?

The summer sunsets out my window, well, well, well.

And, five minutes walk through the gate and up a path, stand the archeological artifacts known simply as “standing stones.” Surrounded by ferns that grow as tarweed and thistles do in my back yard. Prehistoric mankind, kept company by prehistoric fronds.

We spent the following day, Thursday, with my friend Cara and her family. They live on North Uist, and were the primary reason we decided to travel so far. Although, to be honest, my son and I both love remote. The day began in drizzle, but just as we wandered onto a white sand beach the sun broke through. My son played tag with 7-year old twin girls. Cara and I sat, and talked, and were happy to be friends.

Family photography in the Hebrides

Photo by Cara, of Bird and Bear. I love how she caught this moment like a dance. Hint: Hire her to photograph your family.

That night we had the most amazing seafood dinner ever, at a local pub. Again, a trip to Scotland would be worthwhile if only for the food.

On Friday, my son and I drove around to other landmarks on both North and South Uist. Stones and history. We happened into a local cafe, where as it happened, a group had come from a funeral. Everyone wore black. Two grown brothers shook hands with the guests. A couple who looked to be the mother and father, older, sat sad, at a corner table. We ate chips and drank tea. I felt the privilege of travel keenly.

Time came to take the ferry back to Skye. Chilly evening, wind, marine air, exhilaration.

(Wearing Barbour, Madewell jeans, Aquatalia boots, a new scarf. Because I knew I’d bring mostly black, white, gray, and brown clothes, and would be need both black and brown shoes, I bought two new scarves for the trip to give my neutrals more depth. This one, gray and white bleach print on cotton, on sale at Farfetch.)

The ferry was late. Someone kept me company. Well-scarfed himself.

The whole trip reminded me of when he was a boy playing soccer and I ferried him to and from his games. Time spent looking forward from vehicles, talking, pausing, talking, pausing. Of course I can still see him under the beard.

Since we were arriving late night in Uig, we had booked a hotel room in nearby Portree. The front desk staff at the Rosedale Hotel very kindly stayed up until midnight to let us in, and we awoke on Saturday morning to this harbor view. Hey you, you who chose to paint that house pink, can I be your best friend?

Breakfast – more smoked salmon in my case, oatmeal for my son – and back in the car. We had planned to drive east to Inverness, and then south to Edinburgh, but it became clear to me that I wasn’t up to navigating our galumph of an SUV for a final 3.5 hour leg. So we ditched the car at the Inverness airport Hertz, snagged a lift back to the city, and hopped on a train. The van driver answered our questions, unironically, “Aye.”

Phew.

Hint: Trains are awesome.

Edinburgh

As everyone besides me probably already knew, Edinburgh is gorgeous. The Old Town all cobbles and castles, the New Town (funny use of the term “New”  to a Californian), graceful Georgian townhouses. Lined up in crescents, occasionally. We stayed at an Airbnb flat – my first time using the service. The stripped wood doors and floors like works of art.

As we were in Leith, about 20 minutes walk from the center of the city, walk we did, on the evening of our arrival, to the best gay pub in the city. The Regent Bar. Welcoming as heck, for a young man and his mother. (Hint: 10:30pm is too late to get dinner at most pubs.) Then, as their kitchen was closed by the time we arrived, we walked back through the city to a Chinese take-out and home to the flat.

To wake up and walk all day Sunday.

If you love architecture, and striking views, you have to go to Edinburgh. The place exemplifies design, from simple doors on simple houses, to its Castle, which can be seen from city streets, high on a hill. Striking views that inform your experience at every turn.

For some reason, Edinburgh also has particularly good vintage shops. My son found wonderful stuff.

I didn’t shop. I did test out the premise that one can wear sneakers even in an elegant city. My son took my picture unaware, as I leaned against a wall to check restaurant listings.

Sneaker verdict: Yes, marginally acceptable, as long as one embraces one’s Artsy Cousin. With help from that intentionally neutral color scheme: new brown and black scarf from Uncommon Goods. Truly comfortable shoes from Ecco. Oak NY dress, UNIQLO down jacket, Bottega Veneta messenger bag (black & sage available now), Ray-Ban aviators.

That phone check led us here. The best meal of our trip. I thought of Janet and her blog also named The Gardner’s Cottage. I think she’d like the restaurant. Quirky, intimate, elegant. The Scottish way, it seems.

We did more wandering Monday. In fact we did more than wander; in the morning we hiked up into the park hills for a view of the city and back down through a wide meadow. That afternoon we took a bus to the airport from the train station. On to England.

Goodbye Scotland, I can’t wait to come back. Hint: Next time I’ll sacrifice suitcase space and bring light hiking boots. The scenery both demands and rewards. But I wouldn’t have changed a thing on this trip. Even the mistakes were part of it all.

My Dream Western Scottish Highlands And Islands Vacation, For The Next Trip

I’ve already started noodling a return. Do you do that? This isn’t the thing where you learn from misery, it’s when you’ve loved a place and a trip so much you want to dive deeper.

Based on our experience, and my dreams, it’d go something like this.

  • Land in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a fancy small city, which lends itself to visions of aristocracy. It’d be fun to emerge from one of those glorious Georgian townhouses every morning, and sleep cosseted, albeit jet-lagged, in your first evening. Here, perhaps. But if you really prefer a big hotel and want to be dead center of the action, we peeked into the Balmoral and it was pretty awesome. (Stay 2-3 nights).
  • Take a train to Inverness, pick up your car at the train station (Hertz lets you arrange pickups there although the office is out at the airport), drive through the Highlands, maybe at a lodge, or a castle or a fancy cottage (2 nights). This would be a flexible leg. If you’re dying to see Loch Ness (I am not), stay in Inverness for one night. If you want nothing more than green Highlands, spend both nights in the countryside. And, if you can’t bear the thought of driving on the left-side of the road, and it is hard, take a train and arrange transport to your hotels from the stations.
  • Finish this Highland drive/train journey in the Isle of Skye. If you’re still carless, rent a car in Kyle of Lochalsh, explore the Isle, stay in Portree as we did or up at this amazing-looking place (1 night). BTW, I found driving on small roads easier than on the small highways, where everyone speeds right at you.
  • Take a car ferry to the Outer Hebrides, from Uig. Visit your choice of Outer Hebrides islands. I vote for North Uist, because beaches and few crowds, and Lewis, for these standing stones, because standing stones. Return to the mainland several days later, this time further north, from Stornaway to Ullapool. (2-3 nights at places in North Uist and Lewis).
  • Drop off your rental car back in Lochalsh and hire a driver to take you down to Glen Coe. (This is a fantasy trip. If it becomes real, take a train to Fort William and talk to your hotel about local transport.) Stay near Glencoe simply, or here, fancy, and hike this extraordinarily beautiful area (2-3 nights).
  • Be driven (or take the train via Fort William) down to Glasgow. (Can you tell the road around Loch Lomond scarred me?) Stay in a Glasgow airbnb because it’s a very homey city, where people live and work visibly, and you should live like the locals (1-2 nights). This one seems quite Glaswegian to me.  Fly out next day.

Resources For The Trip We Actually Took

Hotels

  1. Glasgow Marriott in Glasgow
  2. Langass Lodge on North Uist
  3. Rosedale Hotel in Portree on Isle of Skye
  4. Henry’s Flat in Edinburgh (my airbnb referral link. If you use it I think I get some kind of credit?)

Notable Meals and/or Pub Vists

  1. Dinner at Two Fat Ladies in Glasgow
  2. Dinner at The Ubiquitous Chip in Glasgow
  3. Lunch at the Glencoe Gathering in Glencoe
  4. Dinner at Westford Inn on North Uist (pub with seafood platter for days)
  5. Dinner at Hamersay House on North Uist
  6. Drinks at Regent Bar in Edinburgh
  7. Dinner at The Gardener’s Cottage in Edinburgh

England post coming up as soon as I can manage;).

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Late Summer Fritillaries In Loops And Circles, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:43am


Well hello August.

It’s late summer. Not at all fall. But here in Northern California the sun seems to sigh, “Never mind.” It’s still hot, it will be hot for a few more weeks, maybe even months. But everything radiates less.

However, in the Bay Area it’s also butterfly time. In anticipation, I’ve planted a passiflora, or Passionflower vine, I’ve grown a thistle up over my head, I’ve cleaned orange aphids off milkweed plans, with my fingers. That’s better done in gloves. Now I wait.

The butterflies, if they come, are few and mostly solo. A Gulf Fritillary, whom I hope will have laid eggs on the passiflora. A Common Buckeye, pausing to rest on my lawn, wings open, wings shut. A few teeny moth-like Skippers of various sorts, in the dregs of the lavender out front. I am again hoping for a Monarch, having cleaned up those milkweeds as best I could. Rather like dusting the front parlor for guests.

Of course I don’t have a parlor.

If they come, the butterflies, they arrive in mid-afternoon, just as the sky makes one final attempt at a July blue. I keep watch through my kitchen window as I put ingredients out to make dinner. And then I see the Fritillary’s orange wings, flapping, as it loops and circles across the tall abelia hedge.

And I mean upper-case T tall, i.e. 12 feet. The Fritillary has to fly quite high. Beautiful, the orange wings against a blue sky, tired though that sky may be.

So if August here feels like the day after a party – paper plates on the ground, balloons deflating in the trees – butterflies are maybe the guests who stayed. The good guests who help tidy up and make you laugh, even about your own bad jokes the night before.

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Summer Break


In honor of summer, that blue-eyed 40-year old dancing under a pergola who throws back her head to feel her hair on her shoulders, I’m taking a few weeks off.

See you in August, I wish you all possible fun under the sun.

Regrouping And Reconnecting In Napa Valley


Sunday morning I realized I had completely forgotten to publish anything the day before. That’s the first time I’ve skipped a Saturday post, unaware. Why?

A family gathering!

Last weekend many of us went back up to the spot now re-branded as the Carneros Resort and Spa. My husband and I had been several times when it was the Carneros Inn. This time we took my father, my stepmother, all my siblings and most of their children too. My kids, sadly and happily, were both busy being grownups. Next time we will make sure they can come too.

We rented two houses. With courtyards full of vegetation, dining tables, sun umbrellas and arbors.

And a rooftop seating areas with vistas.

Also great kitchens and eating spaces.

This area overflowed very easily into the courtyard, which thoughtfully featured a stone table under wisteria. Perfect for the eating of grilled substances and the shucking and consumption of corn on the cob.

I have to show you this imposing bathroom. There was a second sink, have no fear.

On this visit we avoided the Hillside pool (you can see it here in this previous post, and this one. Oh, and this one.) We did spend lots of time at the family pool, however. Ordered lunch at the snacks window. That, in my book, is the greatest luxury.

Although the rebrand has changed the feel of Carneros (more glam, fewer locals at the bar, less gravel, more pavement), the vineyard hills haven’t gone anywhere.

The dinners at Farm are still creative and delicious, especially eaten outside bordering a game yard, where small and medium children play bocce ball and beanbag toss. There’s pork belly under them thar nasturtiums.

Paths still walk you through fig and pear trees, past gaura and roses and succulents.

I am grateful.

Watching my 10-year old nephew reading to the 4-year old. Overhearing my nieces at table, teenagers with phones and still for all that girls. Sitting at dusk with my sisters, just chatting as the light grew both weaker and stronger at once. Waving my brother off on a bicycle ride. Walking slowly with my father and stepmother. My dearly, dearly beloved husband.

It is an extraordinary privilege to be able to draw family together in a beautiful place and I no longer take these things for granted.

 

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How To Start A Yoga Practice Without Feeling Either Inept Or Overly Annoyed


I’ve found that yoga is the best possible thing for this 60+ year old body. And soul, for that matter.

I know this isn’t true for everyone. I believe those who say they have tried yoga and don’t like it, because I’ve tried running, and it’s similarly not for me. But I’ve also heard from others who have given it a shot and find it confusing. So this is for the beginners. A couple of approaches to laying a teeny introductory foundation.

Which, in retrospect, would have been useful when I was starting out.

I’ve included:

  1. A list of 7 basic poses, links to the associated Yoga Journal posts for an expert description.
  2. Two wholly amateur short videos of yours truly doing the 7 poses, complete with commentary. I speak into a yoga mat only once.
  3. A link to a recommended 50-minute video Yoga for Beginners session.
  4. Suggestions for simple clothing and mats.

Once you’ve prepared yourself with one or several of these introductions, next steps should be easier. Introverts can subscribe to a good online yoga service and practice at home. Extroverts can find a studio and a class they like. (BTW, finding the right studio is important. Make sure they offer beginning classes. And then take 2-3 of these from different teachers until you find yours. It’s really not one size fits all with yoga and teachers.)

7 Yoga Poses To Get You Started (And To Keep Reviewing, I’ve Learned A Lot By Following These Links Just This Week;))

  1. Cat Cow and Tabletop
  2. Child’s Pose
  3. Down Dog
  4. Warrior One
  5. Warrior Two
  6. Triangle
  7. Tadasana

These are by no means all you might be asked to do in your first class, but I hope that with this foundation the teacher can talk you through any other poses or variations.

The 7 Basic Poses As Shown In 2 Short Videos By A 60-Year Woman Of Cheerful But Irritable And Impatient Disposition

Me, doing and talking about the 7 poses. I am not perfect, not even always very good, but I thought these might help anyone who would be comforted or encouraged by my total amateur practice and surprising lack of shame. The rest of you are more than welcome to stay for the amusement. I’ll pause for popcorn acquisition.

First, 3 minutes on the floor. Note: parts of my body will leave the frame. See impatient disposition.

Yoga Floor Moves from LPC on Vimeo.

And 4.5 minutes of standing poses. You will notice that I was a dope and stood in front of a small table desk so you can’t really see my hips but hey, just as well, since you should really look at the Yoga Journal links to see this done right.

You will also  that this video is blurry. I have no idea why.

If you’d like to take a step past watching my routine, Adrienne’s online classes have been recommended. This one below is specifically targeted at beginners.

Yoga Class By Someone Who Knows What They Are Doing

Yoga For Beginners – The Basics

 Yoga Clothes For All Of Us That We Can Also Wear To Visit Our Mothers And To The Grocery Store

And finally, if you’ve decided you’re game to start practicing regularly, you should get yourself a mat. Studios rent them, but I find those are usually too thin or too slippery. I’ve had one Manduka and one from Gaiam, I’ve liked them both.

You’re also going to want comfortable clothes. I like the Athleta brand myself. Simple. I wear capris for the most part, but occasionally bootleg if it’s cold or I have to go somewhere afterwards and I feel capris might be too casual. Covering my ankles in black technical fabric counts as formality. Go figure. Note: High waisted pants with a very wide waistband are key.

I don’t need much bust support, so for tops I wear either:

  1. A long cotton tank with light-weight sports bra. Make sure the tank is long enough and stretchy enough to stay on your hips when you bend down.
  2. Two athletic tanks on top of each other.
  3. A yoga tank with built in bra. Here, I stay away from complicated. Each additional strap or cutout just offers one more opportunity to put your head into an armhole.
  4. Athleta brand for modesty
  5. Sandals as often as possible. You have to take your shoes off to go into the studio, might as well Athleta brand.

And there you have it, my friends, multiple aids to starting a yoga practice. Prose, photos, a short class, and me not minding making of a fool of myself because I am so happy to share. Also, these videos pointed out areas for my own improvement, so thank you!

Namaste. Which, means, approximately, as I understand it, welcome, and I honor you as part of the divine.

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Other People’s Good Words, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:29am


Right now I like what other people are writing so much that I think I’ll stay quiet and post their links.

Have a very nice weekend.

Just realized that I haven’t got the stomach for political discourse here today. Have edited my post accordingly.

The Salubrious Effect Of Someone Else’s Friendly Eyes And Someone Else’s Stories


Here’s an excellent Vancouver wall!

Oh, and I’m wearing a cheap old black trench, brown Bottega Veneta messenger, a new pair of cropped black Vince pants (cuffed! 60% off on sale!), tiger-printed Gucci slides, gold hoops, and a vintage silk Ferragamo blouse that was an early birthday present from my son.

He bought it on eBay. I have never before worn vintage, unless we count those pieces I bought myself 15 years ago. My son thought the big cats on the blouse, and its coloring, would go well with my shoes.

How right he was.

Photo credit, BTW, to the ineffable Susan at Une Femme.

Evolving That Personal Style With A Little Help From Your Friends

At first, developing a strong personal style requires that we ignore other people’s voices, whether in reality or our minds. We stop listening to anything like, “Your hips are too big, your hips are too small, you aren’t pretty enough, you are too pretty, stop showing off, start showing your face.”

But once we’ve shut down the mean, opening ourselves to friendly lenses and voices can be fun. Edifying, even.

Remember when Susan and I dressed each other for parallel blog posts? OK, so I didn’t ditch my pencil skirts and pumps directly, but I edge towards Carine Roitfeld incrementally. More recently, albeit less dramatically, Susan gave me a thumbs up on the brown bag with black trench at top, as it picked up my tiger-printed slides. As you can see from the splash of red above, she knows bag colors.

This trip to Vancouver introduced me to another a brilliant style influence. Meet Mel, of Bag And A Beret. If you haven’t already, of course.

Mel of Bag and A Beret Wearing Sky Blue Bomber Jacket

I’m spotlighting one of her tomboy outfits here, but as you can see here, and here, she’s a chameleon. And an Instagram star.

Mel took me and Susan on an Alice in Wonderland tour of Holt Renfrew. Dolce and Gabbana as the Mad Hatter. Victoria Beckham, Queen of Hearts. Fabulous. I tried on a sweater. By Miu Miu if I remember? (Nope. Susan corrected me, it’s Marni. And was on sale for half price.) Colors classic and primary. East Coast heritage, through a Milan lens.

Mel took a couple of photos.

Another way to see oneself.

In the end the sweater didn’t quite fit. But the lesson on Transmuting Preppy to Intellectual Rocker – as Mel described my style – did.

Back To Earth, With Traces Of Wonderland

This trip also reminded me of how nice a trench can look (fits broad shoulders really well), even when it’s not raining.

Inexpensive Trenches In Multiple Colors And Slides To Go With

If you’d like to try your own hand at eBay-ing vintage Italian pieces, here are a few to consider. BTW, I was terrified of odor – and when my blouse arrived it did smell at first of perfume and cigarettes. Bleh. But, I patted it down with vodka a couple of times, aired it outside my closet, and it’s completely fine. Ferragamo isn’t Gucci or D&G; you’ll find their vintage gives you Italian sprezzatura for less.

Vintage Silk Ferragamo Blouses On eBay

How about a shoe print?

Or purple stripes and butterflies?

This one has a lion AND a tiger.

 

Thanks to everyone who urges us, with affection, to try something new. To step on out.

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