six word story no. 168

Still funny after all these years.

Brought to you with a wicked sense of humor and a touch of blues by Journaling as Sacred Practice: An Act of Extreme Bravery. Available now on Amazon.

this drought is no joke

gold fame

::REVIEW::

For anyone who has watched firestorms devour entire towns; who has watched farmland wither and die for want of water, who has wondered if our current lack of water is not just temporary, but indeed the Mother of All Droughts, Claire Vaye Watkins’ debut novel, Gold Fame Citrus is familiar territory.

In a hazy future, LA-born Luz lives in  “Laurelless Canyon” with her boyfriend Ray. They are squatters in a once-famous starlet’s once-elegant house where Luz spends her days dressing up in discarded ball gowns. Ray makes lists, scavenges for  gasoline, food, anything worth trading for something else.

“Your people came here looking for something better,” Ray tells Luz. “Gold, fame, citrus. Mirage. They were feckless, yeah? Schemers. That’s why no one wants them now. Mojavs.”

In Vaye Watkin’s future, California is a wasteland. The rivers are dry and the underground aquifers are dust. The sun blazes and when it does rain the air is so hot the water evaporates before it reaches the ground. The state is dry as death and anyone with any money at all has long since abandoned it.

Vaye Watkins’ prose is powerful, and her narrative true. The story is as real as it is terrifying, because in a place where water has become mythic, geography is all that’s left.

“They ate crackers and ration cola and told stories about the mountains, the valley, the canyon and the beach. The whole debris scene. Because they’d vowed to never talk about the gone water, they spoke instead of earth that moved like water.”

One night, Luz and Ray go down to the bonfires, a place where the climate refugees gather to drink, dance, forget. Down among the drifters and the druggies, the drinkers and the plain dangerous, Luz finds a strange toddler who whispers in her ear that her name is Ig, and she says “Don’t tell anyone. Don’t tell, okay?” The child appears to belong to a clutch of grifters, or to no one at all. Driven by instinct she doesn’t understand, Luz picks up the child and tells Ray they’re taking her home.

Luz and her family escape Los Angeles, heading east, seeking a place more hospitable, somewhere safer, somewhere with water. Their car breaks down in the midst of a borderless sand dune so vast it spreads and grows with all the desiccated bits of earth and stone and mountain that was once the Central Valley.

They join a band of misfits led by an enigmatic leader who is either a visionary or a madman, or both. The collective lives on the edges of the dune, surviving somehow as an outpost of civilization, moving their temporary desert city as the sand shifts and threatens to swallow them alive.

Gold Fame Citrus is a complex story of connection and belonging, of outcasts and survivors, of climate change to the extreme, and about the very small scrap of nature that humanity manages to cling to, in the most adverse conditions. Part science-fiction, part cautionary parable, it is a book worth reading if ecology means anything at all in the future of the West.

Cynthia Gregory is an award-winning author who lives and writes in the Bay Area with her rescue pup, Winston The Wonder Dog. Her new book, An Inspired Journal: the Art & Soul of Creative Nonfiction, on Green Tara Press, will be available in 2016.

Bring the Spa Home

 

Persephone

Winter is the time when we turn inward, stay indoors, feather our nest. This morning I was enjoying the amber morning light and feeling a little witchy, and a little under the weather, so I whipped up an at-home spa treatment to help loosen a stubborn chest cold. My little alchemical brew worked so well, I had to share it here.

When you can’t get away to a “traditional” spa, there’s no reason you can’t transform your bath into a luxurious spa with a little aromatherapy magic! Try this little goddess-girl two-step alchemy to chase away the winter blahs.

First, make a cold-care chest balm to slather on before bed, bath, or shower time. It’s pretty potent, and that’s the idea, so you won’t want to take this treatment before heading off to the grocery or office holiday party.

Step One.  THE BLEND:

  • ½ cup organic coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon jojoba oil (optional)
  • 30 drops organic peppermint essential oil
  • 20 drops eucalyptus essential oil
  • Dash cayenne pepper, if desired

Heat the coconut oil to soften and ease the blending process. Combine all ingredients to form a smooth paste. The peppermint and eucalyptus oils lend cooling high notes to the recipe, which will help open airways and ease breathing. Pepper adds a little heat. Jojoba will make the blend more creamy, but the recipe works as well without it. Mix all ingredients and then pour into a jar for storage. This yummy, bright, cold-care chest poultice is guaranteed to chase away any lingering winter blahs!

Step Two.  THE BATH:

To make an amazing spa treatment, draw a hot bath. Add 2 cups Epsom salts to the water. Light a candle if you feel like channeling your inner priestess. Add some music to lend atmosphere. Set an intention for a healing bath. Add unscented bubble solution to the water if you are fond of a little froth. Add 10 drops peppermint oil to the water. Rub a little of the cold-care poultice on your chest before slipping into the peppermint-scented bath. Breathe deeply. Let the essential oils do their magic. While the Epsom salts draw toxins out of your body, notice how the cool peppermint contrasts with the hot water. Imagine healing whatever ails you. Go to your happy place and stay there until the water begins to lose its heat. Drain the bath, then shower off. Afterward, apply your favorite body lotion and savor the sensations of cool and warm that will continue for 30 minutes of more. Repeat as desired.

There you have it. You just brought the spa, home. If you give this recipe for bliss a try, let us know how it goes!

 Yours Sincerely,

The Girls at Seph’s Salon

 

(Fair warning:  Be a smart goddess. Do NOT touch your eyes with any of these blends on your hands. Do NOT apply undiluted essential oils directly to your skin. When in doubt, test on a small area on the inside of your arm.)

 

 

 

 

leaping dogs

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have the best commute in the world. I travel nearly daily from Napa Valley through Sonoma County to Marin County, CA. There are spectacular views of the upper San Francisco Bay wetlands, across the lush Carneros region with vineyards for miles, the coastal Mayacamas Range, Mt. Tamalpias, and Mt. Diabo. As pretty goes, it’s off the charts.  The only other commute I’ve had to match it was 20 years ago along the Pacific Coast Highway from Long Beach to Newport Beach, with the blue Pacific practically at my fingertips.

I started a new commute three weeks ago. I had just come off a lovely, lazy summer vacation. I was about as Zen as I’ve been in years after spending four months meditating daily, taking long walks, adopting a puppy, and generally finding ways to revel in happy.  Weirdly, the day I suited back up and started commuting to work, I stepped right into the old habit of taking myself Very Seriously. I drove fast. I cursed red lights. I started driving like a maniac on the devil’s raceway. It’s embarrassing to admit, but every other driver on the road was either a) stupid, b) blind, c) ignorant of my supreme mission to arrive at my very important place in the world. I couldn’t get where I needed to fast enough, or efficiently enough.

And then, gratefully, before I got too out of control and gave myself an aneurism, I recieved a cosmic thump on the head. I was driving to work one morning last week, raging against every slow driver between me and the Golden Gate Bridge. The line of traffic was (finally!) moving swiftly along, we had gotten a green light through a three-way intersection near an abandoned dairy in Sonoma and were picking up speed for an uphill climb. Suddenly, out of the overgrown bushes of the ghost dairy on my right, a beautiful golden coyote darted toward the far side of the road and to my horror, leapt straight into the grill of the car in front of me. There was not time for the driver to even slow, much less react. Impact was a foregone conclusion. I watched, horrified, as time slowed and the scene played itself out.

The driver did not stop. Traffic did not stop. We swerved and eddied around the carnage, but we did not stop. I reached for my phone and made a lifeline call. I called B, my friend, crying and shuddering. “Pull over,” she said. As soon as I could, I did. I did not see anyone else pull over. Bless her, B helped me through those first few minutes, until I could breathe and continue driving.

Later that day, I called her and we talked. “Coyote is known as the trickster in Native American legend,” I told her. “It wasn’t funny.”

“There, there,” she said to me, “There, there.”

I know enough about stuff to know that seminal events like my catastrophic commute are never about what they seem to be about. They are always about something deeper.  That night, while on the phone with B, I sat at my computer and did a Google search for “coyote totem.”  The page I found said that the message from Coyote is “to not take things too seriously, to remember to have fun.”  I was stunned. I looked at my behavior leading up to the incident of the commuter coyote, and I was indeed taking the world waaaay to seriously. It was as if the spirit of Coyote had orchestrated the whole show just to get my attention, as if to say, “Really? REALLY?”

Since that awful day in Sonoma, something has shifted in me. I’ve decided that ten minutes one way or the other doesn’t matter. Slow cars don’t matter. Rude drivers don’t matter. What matters is how in-tune I am with my soul, and nothing is important enough get in the way of that.  Period. I show up for my commute, and whatever happens, happens. Sluggish cars, silly drivers, et al.

A side benefit of my tragedy/epiphany is that I have been dumbstruck by my travels. I am lucky enough to get to traverse some of the most beautiful natural scenery on the Pacific coast. It is lush and dreamy and fecund in a hundred ways. It is splashed by farm ponds that turn silver and reflect the rising winter sunrise. It is dotted with working barns that have withstood wind and rain and sun. My route is part of the original El Camino Real, the path driven by faith, one that Padre Junipero Serra took through Alta California more than two hundred years ago to bring God to a wild land. I didn’t see that before. In my rush to be important, I had ignored this amazingly beautiful place. Coyote, in his wily wisdom, knew that, and brought it to my attention in a way that was impossible to ignore.  

So now, I am reminded of Ram Das’ famous admonition: Be Here Now.  Thankfully, I am. Here. Now. And the view is amazing.

relax, baby!

peac of mind

One of the greatest gifts you get from yoga is that it gives you permission to relax, to really really let everything go as you sink into a yummy pool of bliss. What’s not to love! At the gym where I practice yoga we end our sessions with a sweet period of savasna. Most times, I grab a towel to drape over my eyes because I can’t truly relax under florescent lights. What could be better than relaxing after a healthy workout. . .unless it’s being bathed in the sweet fragrance of lavender blossoms?

Our friends at Oregon Plum Brand have developed an aromatherapy eye pillow filled with a blend of lavender and flax seeds and are offering it for a limited time to our WordPress friends. Be one of the first 25 people to order an Oregon Plum all-natural lavender eye pillow, and get a deep discount on your purchase!  Bonus: these make a great gift — get a jump on your holiday shopping and give the gift of relaxation.  Click here to order.

Namaste!

2OPpillo

 

write now

journaling It was the most amazing, powerful, insightful, fabulous Yoga and Creative Journaling Workshop for Women, well, ever! We got your Crow, your Eagle, your Down Dog. Plus, we got your expository writing to not only knock off any proverbial socks, but to actually take you to that place you’ve always wanted to go but didn’t quite know the way. Yeah, it was like that.  And just to prove it, here is a little creative journaling sample:  I

n my tribe I am  loved, appreciated, and seen. There is no apology no room for shame, for what-ifs, if-onlys, no be seen not heards. This is a party palace, baby! This is where I am the celebrated and the celebration. I am the fireworks and the parade! But wait —  is this the same as hunkering down with syrupy sychophants? Oh, no my dear. My tribe both supports me and calls me on my philosophical slight of hand, my fancy emotional tap-dancy work. My tribe loves music and animals and sustainable living. It appreciates beauty, even the most imperfect beauty. This is a tribe of passion and compassion. This tribe has good taste and isn’t afraid to use it. Oh, Tribe of my dreams, I would climb into your mouth and sleep in the shadow of your teeth. I would brush your hair 100 strokes before tucking you in for the night. I would make you hot chocolate from scratch with baby marshmallows for breakfast and I would cut all the crusts off of every piece of toast in the world for you. My tribe speaks like a Windigo from Love Medicine. My tribe has eyes so deep you could drown in them. Namaste, peeps! — Cynthia G.