Tag Archives: PostADay2012

For the Birds?

Apparently, many people were upset after reading William J Broad’s article
How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body, in last Sunday’s New York Times Magazine. I missed the original article, but saw enough headlines by the end of the week that I decided I needed to read it. After all, what if I was missing out on something valuable, if for no other reason than to keep me from not returning to yoga classes. Even though I haven’t been in — ummm….let’s see…three years?

When I started yoga a few years ago, I initially thought that it could help me recover from a serious foot injury that had left me in an orthoboot — something more akin to a 5 pound metal bucket than a boot — for five months and needing a cane to keep my balance when walking. I think I secretly held out hope that I might also recover my 19-year-old self — or at least her body — that took Yoga for PE credit in college, and then continued to go to the class twice a week the following semester, even missing out on dinner and the dorm community’s ritual of watching M*A*S*H reruns before the evening news, because there were a few cute and seemingly cool guys in the class. Turns out one was a real stoner and the other two were there to pick up cool, cute girls — cool, cute girls who were not me. The yoga helped for a while, but mostly just the tree pose which my physical therapist had also shown me without calling it “Tree” and without telling me to envision my chakras while standing like a tree. Months after standing in tree pose in my office during lengthy conference calls, my foot began to feel like its old self and I began to believe that dreams of wearing fashionable heels again in the future might really come true.

But I didn’t keep attending yoga classes. I stopped going when my instructor recommended that I seek treatment from an “alternative holistic” who would do some sort of non-invasive bloodletting of my foot while drinking tea. I really wanted to tell her about how I had had a Lisfranc injury which didn’t happen too often but, interestingly — at least to me — was named after Napoleon’s gynecologist. I thought this was a funny oddity. Napoleon’s gynecologist that is, not the injury. Ms. Yogi just sniffed about the medical establishment. I asked her if she had a cold. I don’t think that she missed me. I never found out if the holistic practitioner drank the tea or if I would.

Several weeks ago, another blogger pointed me towards this article by Sarah Miller Why Yoga Can Be So Irritating, Although You Should Go Anyway in The Awl. I laughed so hard I almost choked on my coffee. Instead I spit it through my nose. I’ll get some good stretches in when I get around to scrubbing the coffee stains off the wall. Good thing I wasn’t doing a head stand at the time. I recognize most of these yoga class-related issues. But, in fairness, I should point you to Miller’s follow-up (also in The Awl) to the NYT article: Six Reasons to Ignore the New York Times Yoga Article

Despite this, I am considering returning to a yoga class. I can’t say whether it is good or bad for you. Like most things, you should know your limits — and it shouldn’t take the wisdom of an advanced yogi to know them. Chances are, if you want to scream in pain or giggle uncontrollably, you probably aren’t in the right place to do a specific pose. If you must find an excuse, be sure to tell the class that you aren’t in the right place — then ignore their hugs and well-wishes that you make your peace with the pose.

My limits, as far as I can tell, involve being careful that my lunch doesn’t make an expelling noise while doing downward facing dog. And finding a place in the classroom where I won’t be downwind of others with the same issue. Or learning to really relax during the relaxation at the end of class, rather than being so concerned that I might fall asleep and begin to snore. And finding the place in room with the best access to the air conditioning. Along with no mention of alternative wacko bloodletting practitioners, if I could have these things, I think I could do yoga classes again.

On the other hand, though, I look around and wonder if yoga isn’t just for the birds:

What's the name of this asana?

Photo Friday: Cloudy

This week’s Photo Friday challenge: Cloudy

Beach, Late Cloudy Afternoon

Sunset Behind Clouds

You can check out other Photo Friday entries here.

What’s on the beach today?

Beach Catch

Not everything on the beach is pretty — crushed coke cans, cigarette butts, the fat naked guy who thought that the mangroves provided his own secluded beach au natural, starfish trying to scoot back into the salty brine, dead fish. Sometimes it is sobering to think that every shell on the beach once housed a marine animal.

Even the things that are pretty can have hidden dangers:

Anemones are not everybody's friend.

All amazing to me!

2 shots tell a story

What are they looking at?


Moon and Starfish

Philosophy begins in wonder ~ Plato

Sponges grow in the ocean. That just kills me. I wonder how much deeper the ocean would be if that didn’t happen. ~ Steven Wright

It was still dark outside when my alarm sounded this morning. Usually, when on vacation, I don’t use the alarm unless I have a plane to catch. Today, though, I wanted to catch the full moon setting, the low tide, and sunrise, just before 7 am.

The sky was just beginning to lighten when I walked out on the beach, wondering if my fleece jacket would be warm enough. The moon was glowing in the northwestern sky, looking like a giant Japanese lantern hanging over Sanibel. In Colonial America, the January moon was called the Winter Moon; the Cherokees called it the Cold Moon; the Celts, the Quiet Moon; and the English referred to it as the Wolf Moon. On a subtropical beach, just before a warm winter day, only the Celts seemed to have captured this particular January moon.

January Full Moon: Cold, Quiet, Wolf

I turned towards the south and headed towards the shoreline. The tide would still be moving out for another 20 minutes. The shorebirds had positioned themselves at the very edge of the water; the little squeaky sandpipers running when a wave reached back towards the sand; the larger terns merely lifting one webbed foot as if they couldn’t be bothered. Some of the more industrious birds bobbed for fish or cracked open shells. The less energetic ones merely lowered their heads into the surf, as if they had already had their fill at the morning tidepool buffet.

Cockles: Not a Hard Shell to Crack

As I walked gently through the blubbery sand, I looked at all of the creatures left behind by the retreating waves. I don’t know how they survive, or even if. Are the ones that are exposed by the tide the ones who are living their last moments? Or will they be rescued when the tide pushes back towards the beach, the water trying to reclaim its rightful inheritance and dominion over the planet? I am witness to the struggle near my feet: a starfish has left tracks in the sand; a whelk seems destined for someone’s shell collection — why I think would anyone want one of these? how out-of-place would it be sitting on a shelf or in a basket, bereft of sand and salt and the smell of the sea? — when the shell’s inhabitant extends itself out. A quiet wave washes in and removes more sand from beneath the shell. The mollusk continues to show itself. Suddenly I realize that it is righting itself, repositioning in order to burrow further down into the wet sand. I turn it over with my foot to look at it once again, but immediately feel guilty for doing so. I pick it up and loft it towards the sea. You’ll live to swim another day I think, and then wonder, noticing that the beach is beginning to be populated with walkers and bikers, if I said the words aloud. Later, when reading about the sea creatures I photographed, I learned that the word whelk may have come from the Proto-Indo-European root for “turn or revolve”. It is as fitting, I decide, as calling them gastropods, the larger classification of this sea snail. I wonder about that word too, and the very idea of a “stomach-foot”: is it the ultimate in efficient design to have one appendix to capture your prey, to eat and to move?

Star paths

Left by the tide

Not Quite High and Dry

Turn, Turn, Turn

I didn’t wander too far down the beach before the sun started to rise. I now had more light to shoot, but the bright, rising sun, still low on the horizon brings other photographic challenges. I turned to head the other direction. Although I knew the time of moonset, it surprised me that the moon had retreated so quickly. I see a few more interesting creatures, mostly sea anemones and heart cockles. I click away, happy that the sun is bouncing off of the pearly nacre, in awe of what marvelous mysteries the sea has deposited at my feet this morning.

Shiny Sand Scoop

Nature is so powerful, so strong. Capturing its essence is not easy – your work becomes a dance with light and the weather. It takes you to a place within yourself. ~Annie Leibovitz

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin. ~ William Shakespeare

Sunday Quote (2012 Week 2)

POTD [Picture of the Day]

Gifts from the Sea?

Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you everywhere. ~ Albert Einstein

Current Reading

In a sense, poems are not even fair. For instance, they do not always assert what they mean. And the same for pictures. A reader must get meaning through an action, through an act of response. And there are endless combinations of irony possible, and reversals, and second thoughts, and adjustments. Images and words put near each other begin to interact. What a poem says, it keeps on saying, with variations, to any being who keeps on saying and judging too, in his own way.

“Introduction to ‘Since Feeling is First'”, reprinted in Writing the Australian Crawl: Views on the Writer’s Vocation by William Stafford

This, of course, reminds me of Emily Dickenson’s “Tell the truth, but tell is slant”:

All truth must dazzle gradually/Or every man be blind

Once I thought of that, my mind went wandering, tossing this idea about. It isn’t coincidence that I used the word tossing, as Stafford wrote about bouncing ideas — and poems — off of backboards! I look forward to reading more essays in this collection; when I start up again, I’ll be on page 9!

Welcome to the Sunshine State


First entry of the year for PhotoFriday. This week’s challenge: Day’s End

The Lengthening of the Day

Nature is painting for us…day after day … pictures of infinite beauty ~ John Ruskin

Taken around 4:30 pm, from the car, traveling south on I-75 in SW Georgia.

Also considered, because more reflective of the end of this day:

Hotel Interchange

Traveler's Rest

Early Morning Light

From my desk through the window to imagination

what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east,

What a horse!

I wrote previously how I loved the stage production of War Horse. My husband had wanted to go see it last April, and, after he described it to me — young boy goes into the battlefield looking for his horse, which is portrayed on stage with puppets — I thought I was quite clever in my one-word response: Neigh!. But, T really wanted to see it, so, in advance of another trip to the Big Apple, without telling me, he purchased tickets. “It won the Tony!” he explained. “You shouldn’t prejudge it.”

So, reluctantly, I went. At dinner beforehand and during our walk to Lincoln Center, I tried out every horsey joke I could think of. When they failed, I suggested that if one wanted puppets, we could probably still get tickets for that evening’s performance of Avenue Q, which we knew was funny. After all, who couldn’t use a little bit of bawdy Muppets? A horse in war? That was a different story — one that didn’t sound either entertaining or thought-provoking. It was a beautiful evening in August and there were bunches of happy people around Lincoln Center. I considered for a moment if I could just sit outside for a few hours while T and our friend saw the play, but sometimes choices like that don’t aid in the mood of a trip.

At intermission, as we stepped into the lobby to get a drink, T asked if someone had a gun to put down that horse and put us out of our misery. “What?” I exclaimed. “How can you not like this? It’s wonderful!” And so it goes sometimes when we have expectations and they are shattered. I found the play to be emotional, the music and the use of images projected behind the stage to be evocative, and the themes of war and loyalty to be engaging. My husband saw none of that; he thought it was simply a love story about a boy and his pet horse. And he hated the puppetry. While the puppetry at first was a bit jarring — I didn’t think that I could get around the fact that there were four men operating a huge skeletal frame reminiscent of a horse — I quickly lost my interest in the mechanics of the puppet and saw it as a character in the play.

Since our enjoyment of the play was so different, War Horse became for a while a household joke. Even before I knew that there was to be a movie made of the play (which was based on a book), I joked at the occurrence of minor wrongdoings, that recompense could only be made by sitting through a movie version of War Horse. I was watching movie trailers in September when I saw the first promotion. I had a fit of giggles at how sappy it was and had a difficult time quieting down when the feature began. Later, I tried to explain to my friends what was so funny. The trailer, however, had already been forgotten.

Was the play really sappy and sentimental as my husband thought it was? Two months later, I still found that the idea of how the nature of war changed when barbed wire, tanks, and automated weapons quickly made the cavalry and their swords obsolete resonated with me. Earlier in the summer, in an antique shop, I had come across a book of photographs from a pictorial magazine about the war, published just a few months after the Treaty of Versailles had been signed. While that book did not go into much detail about this dawn of a mechanized, sophisticated and modern warfare, looking back nearly 90 years later, it is evident in the pages.

I remained eager to see the Steven Spielberg movie adaptation of War Horse even though I was skeptical from the treacly trailer. Without saying which movie, I asked my son who is still home on his holiday visit, if he wanted to go see a movie. He eagerly said “sure” before I told him that there was only one movie I had in mind. He knew he had been tricked, but I told him that if it was really bad, he could tease me mercilessly for dragging him along. “I’ll go,” he said, “but you’re buying the tickets!”

I laughed from nearly the first frame. In the play, there is a goose puppet that represents the farm life of Albert and his family. In the movie, the goose is there too, but it is an irritant and played for laughs. I really didn’t understand its purpose, although the audience seemed to respond to it. The goose was a pain, but he didn’t like the dastardly landlord either. “It’s going to be a long movie,” I thought and was glad that I hadn’t worn my watch. But, soon the action was underway. Albert loves his horse and his mother, he struggles to train the horse to help save the farm … yada yada yada… fill in the blanks in any story you’ve already heard a thousand times about a poor family on a hard scrap English farm.

Eventually the action shifts to the war, and the horse is sold against the boys wishes. The farm is saved, but Joey the horse is lost. Except there was another 1:45 left. You can fill in the blanks in this part too; I don’t need to give any spoilers.

Some of the action is different from the play. I don’t think that it either adds to or detracts from the movie. Spielberg is good at filming scenery that, despite the beautiful cinematic effects, leaves no doubt in the viewer’s mind that War is Hell. Those scenes don’t disappoint. Unlike the movie, the play shows officers on both sides who were at odds with killing and who were afraid to die. The characters are a bit more stereotypic in the movie, although it doesn’t stoop so low as to portray “the evil Hun”. Instead, it is a difference between the infantry and the leaders on both sides. Regardless of which side of enemy lines the horse is — and our horse Joey is befriended and used by English, French and Germans — the horse is recognized as a beautiful horse and all of his caretakers fall in love with him. The anthropomorphizing of the horses is a bit overdone. Joey doesn’t want to leave his mother, Albert, a horse he friends and, as the storyline suggests, whose life he saves. Joey nuzzles his caretakers, protects his charges, sits beside a dying companion (horse, not man). I try not to be too jaded, but while the rest of the theatre audience was sniffling, I was suppressing giggles.

The idea of barbed wire and the obsolescence of the horse cavalry is still present in the movie, but it is a faint echo of the major theme of the play. In the play, because it is the stage, the representational quality of the drama, told in episodic tales, works to present a whole while underscoring the themes of loyalty, family, and the evil of war. In a movie, because of its more realistic nature, those episodes seem choppy, contrived, and overdone. How many things can happen to one damn lucky horse that nobody is betting on?

Still, for a movie that is intended as a family event for parents, kids and grandma, War Horse is not a bad choice. At 2 hr 24 minutes, it is a bit long. The battle scenes are well done and there is violence, but nothing graphic and gory. Bottom line: beautiful cinematography; overdone plot, just long enough to make some bored and fidgety.

The biggest surprise of my trip to the movie this afternoon? As the credits were rolling, my son said: “Much better than I expected. I actually liked it!”. So maybe you don’t want to go by my opinion, at all!

POTD (Picture of the Day)

Fiery Morning Horizon

Nothing to do with the movie. I’m sure that I could do much more with this picture in post processing, but that isn’t happening tonight! I like this photo for two reasons: the colors (captured exactly as I saw them this morning!) and because the sunrise so obscures the horizon line that it looks like it is rising over a large body of water. Alas, it is only over pavement and a small tree-lined creek. Pretty, but no sea.