Saturday, October 31, 2009

Where I Didn’t Go

I never went to India. I almost had the opportunity once in the early seventies. I had been dressing in a sari around the house for years, had a blue bindi on my forehead, and read the Bhagavad Gita every morning after my yoga and meditation time.

I envisioned the India of my dreams: the temples; the yogis on the banks of the Ganges, burning off my karma in their fires of sacrifice and renunciation; the incense flowing with the changes as petitions to the multi-faced gods of that system. I thought that was the truer me, and I wanted to explore those streets, that country’s people.

I never went. To this day, my sister will ask me, “Didn’t you go to India years ago?”
And I’ll reply, as I always do, “No.”

I was engrossed with two kids and a marriage that was shaky at best. I never did get on a plane, for $464. round trip, and fly across the great waters to land in a teeming city of India.

I stayed home and raised my sons, lighting the incense made in that country, wearing my imported purple sari and doing the sun salutation every morning, facing east. I knew as I looked out at the Atlantic through those sliding glass doors, that the great Motherland of my dreaming, was on the other side. But it has not been for me to visit there in this life, yet.


Thursday, October 29, 2009


I had a very busy day; one of those days where you know starting out that you have way too many things on your list but decide to go for it anyway. And then it works! I had several assignments up in the Estes Park area of Colorado, about an hour away from my office, plus a dozen pictures to take in that surrounding vicinity. Appointment by appointment, picture by picture, my schedule was ticking down like clockwork. I love it when every thing falls into place like that. I was doing so well that I even treated myself to the Starbuck’s Mocha Frappuccino that I lust after.

I made it down the mountain in plenty of time to make a deposit at my credit union. I walked up to the cashier’s window and was chatting it up with the woman when I felt a scratch on my middle finger. Absent mindedly I reached down and swiveled the diamond ring that I wear on my right hand. It is a gorgeous ring that my former boyfriend (and dear soul) had given to me years ago for my birthday. I glanced down and all the air left my body in one whoosh. The solitaire diamond was gone and the empty prongs had scratched my middle finger. The woman across the counter shrieked, “Oh my God, you’ve lost your setting.” Instant memories of how I had felt the same irritation several times during the day, and without looking had set the face of my ring to an upright position, flashed across my brain screen. I had no idea how long it had been missing. The teller said reassuringly, “check your car, it could be right there.” My diamond was gone.

I managed to get to the car before I started crying. Driving home sobbing and moaning, I was dimly aware at one point of a man in a tall pick-up truck looking at me with a worried expression on his face. I ignored him and drove through my grief. I called my girlfriend and told her what had happened, hoping that some one else’s voice would help me wrap my mind around this situation. Once at home I got down on my hands and knees and started searching the seats and floor board of the car. My soul flipped for joy once as my fingers came up with a small piece of glass, but it was a left over remnant of the hail smashed windshield from three months ago. Deep in my heart I “knew” it wasn’t there.

I transferred the rest of my things from the car to the house. I tried to tell myself it was only a ring and thought about friends and family who were bravely facing far worse scenarios than this. I suddenly had the impulse to empty my pockets. I have been carrying around several small stones with different healing properties that I had been gifted with in Yellowstone. I pulled them all out and nothing. I almost started to cry again. I stuck my hand deep in my pocket once more and felt something tiny and hard, way too small to be what I was looking for. There it was, in my hand, a sparkling diamond. It was so much smaller than I thought it would be. I was again overwhelmed, but this time by my tremendous good fortune. I made a cup of tea to soothe my throat and nerves and lay on the couch. To the Angels of boyfriends, diamonds and birthday presents, “Thank you!”

* annette

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow globe

without electricity and snow piling up
two feet - so far
I remember the power of heat
the potency of having light with the flip of a finger
and hot water

layers of clothing replace heat
for a little while
shoveling helps generate heat
for a little while too
neighbor kids are priceless
in their youth and available strength

candles bring light before and after the snow-muted
sun seeps through
luckily those candles bring something else
into the cold reaching through the windows and walls
they too reach out with soft illumination

reminding me of a quiet place that knows
“this too shall pass”
that sees it is okay to have your world turned upside down
like the small snow-globe glass worlds I was given
as a child from my grandmother.

You shake or turn it upside down and the snow
falls all around-a lot like my world today
maybe the spirits know something and
shook this mountain and our home upside down
and snow is falling all around


Monday, October 26, 2009

Poem- Slow Dance with an Aspen Tree

Wind is the music,
Gentian, the aphrodesiac.
Leg against leg
Leaves whisper in my Ear.
The masculine roughness of your bark against my face.
My sap rises, even though it is Fall.

-by Terra Rafael

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hugh Michael Rose’s Birth

The day was icy cold, just one week into January, and the snow was starting to grace us with a white blanket of fluff. It was a Friday and that night was the opening gathering of a weekend workshop with Alan Chadwick, a biodynamic gardener and Shakespearian actor from England. He had started a Rudolf Steiner based community in California, Covelo, that was quite well known for its teaching of this synergistic way of gardening.

We had been living at Claymont, the Gurdjieff School and community in West Virginia, for a couple of years. Our room was situated on the second floor of the large Washingtonian mansion that overlooked the rolling hills and woods of the Panhandle. There were about seven bedrooms on the same floor. Ours was the biggest, because we already had a child. Suryananda was two and a half. We even had our own bathroom. What luxury!

I was feeling a bit out of sorts when Hugh, my husband announced to me that he was going to go to a movie that night with an friend, who had arrived from out of town for a visit. I didn’t know why I wanted him to stay home, I just did. After all, our baby wasn’t due for a couple of weeks yet.

Well, off they went on that icy night to Frederick, Maryland, a good forty-five minutes away. Surya had eaten dinner with another family who lived in a side cottage of the Mansion. I ate in the main dining room and after dinner got up to wash my dishes. Then, I coughed. A warm trickle started down my leg.

“Oh no, I am peeing myself”, I thought as I ran up to my bathroom. But it didn’t stop. I knew that my water had broken. As contractions started, I went in search of someone to help me, but everyone had gone down to the Ballroom, on the main floor, to begin the lecture for the workshop. I ran from room to room, until I found a lone soul writing in his room.

“Go; get Deborah out of the lecture!” I demanded. She was a nurse. I knew that my midwife was very far away and the contractions were coming on strong. She brought another friend with her up to my room. We set up the bed. Jack went to call Hugh out of the movie to get back on the double. How like Surya’s birth in India it was, only this labor was progressing very fast.

I felt that I had to push, but Hugh hadn’t returned and I really wanted him to be there. I started to blow so that I wouldn’t bear down. Suddenly, he burst into the room and, of all things, I said, “Don’t touch me if you’re cold”. I was pissed that he had gone and that I didn’t have enough self-confidence to trust my intuition to ask him not to. I had taken a back seat to “King Kong”.

There was no need to hold back any longer and with two pushes, the baby crowned. I screamed with the intensity and it was heard in the ballroom. At that very moment, Alan Chadwick was explaining that the emergence of a seed from the ground was the same as a baby being born; that all the forces of the Universe were aligned for that unique moment. Of course, no one even knew that I was in labor.

My baby slid out, the cord was cut, and he was handed to Hugh. I was thrilled that he was a boy. I had been waiting for Hugh Michael to come into my life for several years. There he was, swaddled and held by his father over in the rocking chair. As I took him and brought him to my breast, my thought was, “At last you are here”.

Prema Rose

Saturday, October 24, 2009

How the Holidays Are Different Than When I Was a Child

On Christmas Eve, my father, younger sister Kathy, and I carried our Christmas tree through the snow-covered streets of the Bronx (N.Y.). My dad carried the heavy end.

When we arrived at our apartment, he would put the string of lights on it after he had secured it into a tree stand. He would have tested the individual bulbs earlier in the day.

My mother had already unpacked our ornaments and we began to hang them on the branches.

Our method of applying tinsel was to lightly toss it on to the branches, covering as much of the tree in glittering silver light as possible. We did it the same way every year until we moved out of the city, when I was a teenager.

Now, having raised my own children, I’ve changed things a bit. On their own, they wanted to do things differently. I still insisted we set the tree up on Christmas Eve, even though they wanted to purchase it and adorn it weeks ahead of time.

Christmas Eve present-opening was a new concept for me, so we all picked one gift for that evening and the rest were left for Christmas morning.

Advertising Christmas which used to begin in December, was moved back to the day after Thanksgiving, and now I notice the glitter, bells and lights coming out as soon as the ghosts and pumpkins of Halloween have been put aside.

It was just such a simpler time.


Friday, October 23, 2009

The Masterpiece Monster

I’ve gotten over trying to write a masterpiece each time I sit down at my desk. For a long time I wouldn’t write at all, afraid of what might come out on a blank page. It didn’t help to have the Masterpiece Monster snoozing under my desk 24/7.

The Masterpiece Monster was hairy and uncombed with large jagged teeth that would sink into my arm preventing me from putting words to paper. I’d freeze up with fear. My good sense of self would fly out the window and I’d spend long moments believing the unhelpful hints the Monster would roar at me. “You can’t write about that! It won’t be good enough! You are not a writer!”

She was difficult and wild. Untamable. She had all sorts of tricks up her sleeve like insisting that the kitchen needed cleaning, or reciting all the undone chores, and necessary errands. I didn’t like her but knew of no way to get rid of her. We’d been together for so long it was hard to say good-bye.

One day I fooled her. I took my writing outside under a tree. I began going to coffee shops to write, I'd write in bed before going to sleep. I took my journal on airplanes, and, as everyone knows, monsters are afraid of flying. I didn’t actually avoid going to my desk but I found happier places to explore my new craft.

I don’t remember saying an formal farewell but I began to notice when I did sit down at my desk that the monster was not as vocal, her hair not as hairy, and her teeth not as sharp. She took up less space.

Then one day there was only a dust bunny where she had lived.

Just a little puff.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Wisconsin ~ Part 2

... more thoughts on my first trip to Madison.

3) No one in Wisconsin wears sunglasses. When you walk into the convenience store connected to the gas station, there are no tall racks of eye wear beside the check out counter. Curious now, I found myself taking a silent poll as we drove down the highway in the middle of the day. Not one of the drivers was wearing sunglasses. I often had mine setting on top of my head, actually using them more as a head band to keep the hair out my eyes. But habits are hard to break, and when I get in the car, I grab my sunglasses. Heck, in Colorado we practically sleep in our sunglasses!!!!

4) And last but not least, another startling realization. The state “smell” for Wisconsin must be “scent of orange”. I first noticed it as we toured the House on a Rock in Spring Greens. Several times as I walked through this amazingly whimsical architecture, I was misted by a scent of orange. It struck me as really odd. Later that evening we had dinner at a nice Chinese restaurant and as I visited the lady’s room, I was again engulfed in the citrus. Although it was the second time in one day, it made more sense in this situation.
The next day we walked the streets of downtown Madison, toured the Civic Center designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and explored the newly and beautifully renovated State Capitol building. I should not have been surprised as I walked into the sumptuous Lady’s room only to once again sniff the orange.
What was I expecting after all, the essence of cheddar? Yes, I guess I was.

* annette

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

One Quiet Day

From where I sit
through glass door and windows I look
at a white wonderland world

It feeds back to my eyes
purity, loftiness and
dreams of a quiet and still earth

The snow piles up
along with thoughts of
how to spend this one quiet day

Only the wild turkey visits
to forage through layers of ice and snow
finding bird seed, now buried

His beak, the perfect instrument
for this job
and for making pathways

the brave woodpecker
to eat what is uncovered

What wild beak
will peck through my thoughts
on this one quiet day


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Mint Omelette

Several years ago in Abiquiu, N.M., I taught an all-day yoga and Jin Shin Jyutsu class. Since everyone was coming from a distance to attend the class, I suggested a pot luck lunch. They all brought something delicious, but there was one contribution I particularly remember well and still taste in my memory.

One of the participants, Jean, a Frenchman, brought a cold mint omelet. I thought, a COLD MINT OMELET! Sitting around all morning, it couldn’t be good by lunch time.

Well, I am telling you now, that that was one of the best omelets I’ve ever tasted. Maybe it wouldn’t be so good when the weather is cooler, but for a hot summer day, it was perfect. The truth of the matter is we really wanted more, it was that good. No cheese involved, just mint. I don’t even remember if it was spearmint or peppermint, and eggs, a little seasoning.

Experiment, try it out. You may even find another herb you like better. But it’s hard to beat mint for summertime cooling. And to think an omelet can have a longer life than we ever imagined.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Journey to Support & Nourishment

As I approach the home of the Great Midwife I notice that this time she lives where my beloved Grandmother lived, a sturdy country house in Wisconsin. I have spent many happy times there. I see the familiar yard edged with flowers and fruit trees, with ample room to play and relax.

Grandma Johnson comes out of the door, dressed in her usual house dress and apron. Her large hug envelopes me. The rose bush next to us tinges the air with its fragrance. She says,” You’re just in time for lunch.” She leads me into the place I know so well. The kitchen is full of familiar foods. She cooks me a grilled cheese sandwich—one of my comfort foods. The melted butter smell gets my mouth to watering, as she places the sandwich in front of me. Then she gives me a bowl of homemade chicken vegetable soup. I feel relaxed and ready to eat. She sits across from me at the table and we pause a moment in silent prayer. We’re thankful for this food and all who brought it to us. We eat in silence except for our murmurs of appreciation.

After we eat we clean up the kitchen together, chatting and catching up. Grandma suggests we go into the living room where she sits down at the piano and plays some old songs for me- “K-K-K-Katie, Beautiful Katie", "The Old Rugged Cross”, "Mares eat oats & does eat oats & little lambs eat ivy". We sing together. When it’s time to go, I sing her a song.
“ Grandma this is for you.
Sacred ancestors hear my song. Make my way sacred, fill me with beauty.
Sacred ancestors hear my song. Make my way sacred fill me with beauty.
Fill me with beauty, that I may bring others beauty. Fill me with beauty, that I may bring others beauty.”

-Terra Rafael

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Daddy Long Legs

I gargle every morning with salt water as part of my morning ablutions. As I lift my head to allow the water to pool in the back of my throat, I become aware of the warm upper corner of my bathroom ceiling. It is sloped on a fairly steep rake, so that the highest corner is above the sink where I stand. There, hanging out most mornings, is a daddy long legs. I greet him and wonder at the patience he has to await his prey for breakfast. I conjecture that he has an interesting life for a daddy long legs.

Occasionally, he will venture from his corner to explore farther down the ceiling. How did he get there? He never appears to be moving. One morning, a fly was caught in an invisible strand of this web. He was still alive. I thought about knocking him down and saving him from being that day’s meal. However, I decided that this was exactly what my friend with the long legs needed and had prepared for during the night and who was I to disturb the natural order of this tiny universe. He was gone by the following morning’s gargle.

Another morning, there was another slightly smaller daddy long legs in the high upper corner hanging out with my friend. I surmised that it might be a mommy long legs or maybe even a baby long legs. Had they been up there all night long? It must have been a one-night’s-stand for she was never seen again.

I really don’t spend much time on these ruminations every morning. They last as long as the gargle. I am beginning to look forward to checking in with him to see if he has any surprises for me. One can find entertainment in the most unlikely of circumstances.

Prema Rose

Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Field Report

I’m out on the limb of a large oak tree. Down on the ground, is a large red barn that houses all the farm equipment to make things happen on this piece of land.

In another direction, is a farmhouse where I live these days. Assorted dogs and cats accompany me in whatever chores I’m engaged in.

Yet today I’m on this limb. I’m wondering how far out I can go before I need to pay extra attention to my mortality. Is it one or two more steps, or am I good for a longer distance.

The sky is blue, the sun is shining. Storm clouds gather in the distance. The land needs rain and has called up the moisture. I will have to deal with getting back to the trunk and down to the ground, before the storm clouds burst overhead.

I know that sometimes I can direct the show, like remaining in the tree on this limb for weeks at a time. I also know that something larger than me, some days, calls the shots and I have to accommodate that, like getting down before the cloudburst.

But for right now at least, I can dangle my legs over the side of this branch, nuzzle the still-green oak leaves alongside me, and breathe deeply of where I am at with my life.

Sooner rather than later, I will make a move. But right now, I just breathe.


Friday, October 16, 2009


I learned to drink coffee early in my life. In the bitter cold mornings of winter Mother would give me a cup hot from the tap of Nestles Instant Coffee. She seemed to think there was something in coffee that was good for children. Or, maybe it was her way of getting us to the bus on time.

A truly wonderful thing about coffee is that you can find it nearly everywhere in the world. Some cultures treat it like a sacred herb and brew it with reverence. Other subcultures make it and drink it with no thought to taste. Just something to wake up to, like the Midwestern percolated watered down stuff from the sixties. I like to think we have moved beyond the percolator. Maybe it will turn up as a relic in a museum in some future era when archeologists will have spend years trying to understand its significance.

I was treated to lovely coffee in Indonesia while waiting for my daughter to recover from an illness. In a café near the hospital I was given cups of thick soft brown velvet liquid. I savored it slowly letting it put me into a happy mood. At the bottom of the cup there would be about a half inch of rich moist sediment. I would spoon it up and eat it like pudding. Drinking coffee in that café took away the worry and tension of that time. When I left I asked the proprietor for some of his coffee to take home. I was given a brown bag that smelled wonderful but I was unable to replicate it. Perhaps it needed the special air of Indonesia.

Just this week while visiting my nephew in NYC I drank a little slice of heaven at 7:30 am at Grumpy’s café in Chelsea. I could smell the aroma of Grumpy’s long before we opened the door. My mouth was watering as I was handed a warm mug. We walked outside into the golden autumn crispness to drink it. At my first sip the world just slipped away. I had visions of flying away on a magic carpet into “A Thousand and One Nights” on the Arabian desert in a sultan’s tent with belly dancers, camels and a night lit with a million stars. New Yorkers know their coffee.

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A few thoughts on my first trip to Madison.

1) There is not cheese everywhere. I am surprised about that. On my flight to Milwaukee, my seat mate was heading to a “Dairy Expo” in Madison. He had a cow on his shirt but I didn’t really pick up on that until he told me that he was a dairy farmer from California, and twisted in his seat to show me again his bovine decal. Our plane pitched rather violently a couple of times in the wind as we took off, he said he was glad that he didn’t throw up. I whole heartedly seconded that emotion!!
But back to cheese ~ or lack thereof. We finally found a cheese shop on State Street as we strolled the down town area of Madison. One shop! And they had only one little tray of cheddar cheese cut up to sample, so I sampled it four times. It was okay. We bought some cheese to go on our chili mac’s, as we had just discovered a shared Midwestern passion. We both loved and now miss our favorite hamburger joint, Steak & Shake, and it’s famous chili mac! Yum!!!

2) I am two days into my trip and the weather so far has been raining or “just about to rain”. I did cast a shadow this morning when I stepped outside but the little window of blue sky didn’t last long. As we take off every day to explore the joys of Wisconsin I feel a kinship with the rolling hills and small farms with large barns. Although the leaves are just beginning to move into their fall fashion colors, it is still green and beautiful and reminds me a lot of southern Missouri. Hummm, green rolling hills and chili mac’s, I really am feeling kind of home sick for my home state.

* annette

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Say No

Reading an article from a Canadian newspaper, the Vancouver Sun, where the Irish Noble peace laureate, Mairead Maguire, had been interviewed, I was impacted by her words. She was awarded her prize for her work in ending the fighting in Northern Ireland. No small feat. One quote “ We must create the idea that to even think of war is horrific” struck a cord in me. This makes all kinds of sense. Why is this not the dominant idea? Is what has happened an ongoing numbing inside of us that accepts - war is part of life? It’s been around so long we think it’s normal instead of “horrific.”

She compared it to the perception about smoking and how in a relatively short time smokers went from being “cool to being pariahs.” That with education, perceptions, like the one on smoking, long held can change. Not surprisingly one of the main obstacles in the perception of peace vs war is TV and its far-reaching influence. The amount of violence that a child is exposed to continues to grow exponentially. Research has shown that of “acts of physical violence increased by 378 per cent, over the eight years between 1993 and 2001” with children witnessing an average of “40 violent acts per hour.” That is frightening. What role does this play in delaying peace to some future possibility?

Another quote from the article rang true , “We have to start to disarm our own minds and look at the fact that there are always alternatives to violence.” This seems so obvious but somehow we overlook what is right in front of us. We think we’ve always settled differences this way so we always will. We have normalized war. Ms. Maguire is among good company with other noble laureates and those advocating that unless citizens have a chance to voice a vote - no country should not be allowed to go to war. Sounds fair to me. We seem to have forgotten that it is the people that are paying for war. I wonder if it was clearly delineated in our taxes….”and this much of your earnings are being paid to the military” if it would help us see our part. We have often detached ourselves while we send our men off to far away places. There is craziness about it when I think about it.

In my own life things have mellowed. It’s not to say I never get angry but I have much less of a tendency to want to make a scene. I want peace now. It wasn’t always that way. Like the famous line from the Nez Pearce Indian, Chief Joseph, who after years of fighting said “I will fight no more forever”, such simple words with a power to strike at the heart of the situation. Someone has to be the first to say No. Which brings me to the title of the article in the Vancouver Sun that caught my eye in the first place: “If We Want Peace, We’re Going to Have to Learn to say No.” That would be no to war. Any war. All war. There is always another alternative.

We have to remember that.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Soothing Foods

I lay reading Autobiography of a Yogi by flashlight, in my tent. Four a.m. would come soon enough, but I held on to the words of this engrossing book. Class started at 4:30 with cleansing practices, pranayama and meditation.

By the time breakfast rolled around, I was ready. We walked down to the main building housing the dining hall, the sanctuary/auditorium, administrative offices and an inn. Almost every morning there was a thick cloud bank below us. When the clouds cleared there was usually a view of the Pacific Ocean. A lovely place to spend my yoga teachers’ training, on the mountain above Santa Cruz. I loved being outdoors in a tent, having my meals prepared for me and spending most of my time in devotional practices, study and learning and expanding on yoga postures. Yoga theory was the most emphasized. So reading Yogananda helped bring understanding into my tent and heart.

The first morning I stood in line for breakfast I handed over my plate to be filled. It was given back to me partially filled with a golden-yellow mixture. What could this be? I wondered. Khichari, I was told. A mixture of lentils, rice, spices and lots of ghee. Ayurvedic cooking uses ghee as a basic and healing ingredient. Clarifying butter is easier to digest, aiding in absorption of our nutrients more than regular butter does. Khichari, which has many different spellings, with its wonderful aromatic combinations, has become a comfort food. It can be made into a vegetable stew, using different spices and vegetables depending on our condition. A stew may strengthen our lungs, our digestive system, it can be warming or cooling, or for our livers, all very individualized. My digestive system has certainly been grateful for introducing this form of healthy Indian cooking into my life. My first khichari, now it’s on to the spicy, sweet chai, a treat for having started the day before dawn.


Monday, October 12, 2009

Poem- Warm Autumn Moment

This warm autumn moment
crisp, sunny, dried leaves chacha to the song of the breeze.
The sky burns bluely.
This warm autumn moment
a boy asks why people gather.
He asks if they discovered gold.
This warm autumn moment
the leaves are the gold,
the boy is the sky,
& I am the chacha to the song
of the breeze.

-Terra Rafael

Sunday, October 11, 2009


I had never really wanted to have children. I had never spent much time with them and, frankly, didn’t want to. I was an actress, full of myself and my career. However, life has a way of turning things around and up-side-down.

The first inkling that this part of my journey would be forever changed, began when I was living on the island of Ibiza, Spain. I had an art gallery in the two thousand year old town. I was working on the cartoon book that would eventually become the animated film, and I was immersed in my spiritual studies. Someone gave me a small booklet written by the Divine Mother, Mira, who had taken over the running of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram in Pondecherry , India. She had envisioned and commenced the building of an international community named Auroville. This was to be a place without borders, dedicated to the children of the future who were taking birth.

These children are to usher in a time of higher consciousness, which will change the cellular structure and DNA of the human race. Sri Aurobindo and Mother termed it, “The decent of the Supramental”. Now, we know these children to be the Indigo and Crystal children.

The booklet was one in a series of publications which were printed quarterly. They were all entitled, “…. = One”. This particular one was, “Child = One” My whole thought paradigm was shattered. Gone were the worn out refrains of, “How can I bring children into this miserable existence?” Instead, I felt charged with a mission to engage the creative dance of life into manifestation by intentionally channeling the spirit of my child to be born in Auroville.

Perhaps this was my biological clock going off with loud alarms, but for me it was an earth shattering revelation. The most amazing creative act that I could possibly achieve was to consciously birth a child. Later, I was told that Mother pulled that publication, saying that the world wasn’t ready for it. For me, it rocked my world.

It was a circuitous route to India, stopping for a year in England while we went to the Gurdjieff school, and then traveling overland across Europe and the Mid-East for six months. All the while, I had the presence of my emerging child with me, nurturing me and me nurturing her. Actually, I had been told in Spain that I would have a Leo boy. We got pregnant in Greece on the way. It was November, so I would be due in late July. Yes, a Leo boy!

I had heard stories of the awful birthing practices in the hospitals in Europe and the West. I wanted none of it. I would have a midwife and home birth, as natural as I could get.

Finally arriving in Auroville, after many adventures on the way, Hugh and I began to build our nest. I started prenatal care with an English midwife and was deliriously happy. In an unfortunate turn of events, I got a bad case of dysentery in my seventh month and began to lose a lot of weight. I was very weak when I went into labor, three weeks early. Oh, my! We were in Cancer.

Suryananda was born breech, fully aware and looking around. It was the most beautiful birth! I had actually had a dream a couple of weeks before that the baby was a girl and there she was, so beautiful, luminescent, and a tiny five pounds.

My life as a mother had begun. With her birth, came so many lessons and understandings, and a desire to share what I had learned with other birthing families. When Hugh Michael was born, I knew that I wanted to be a midwife. How would that be possible? All I knew in my life was my work in the theater and my spiritual work.

As fate would have it, I was led serendipitously to my career as a midwife in Boulder, Colorado. I had two more children, Mira and Noah. I practiced for twenty-five years and helped mothers deliver over 850 babies. Now, I have retired and my children have grown. I have four grandchildren and I have taken care of many other children. It is amazing to think that, so many years ago, I had no wish for children in my life. I am blessed with an abundance of them.

Prema Rose

Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Waking Dream

I am slogging through the muddy bogs of Ireland. Above me, crows circle and caw. I hear the ocean sounds far in the distance and I wonder how I got here. Was it really all this simple? I didn’t need to get on an airplane and fly all this way, set up lodging and transportation, put debt on my credit car. All I needed to do was pick up my pen and let my imagination take me to a spot on the planet that my heart had been dreaming about.

I pull on sucking foot out of the bog and place it on grassy, firm soil, and hoist myself clear. Around me, spreading to the surrounding hills, is green grass and small stone-wall enclosures dotting the landscapes. Small flocks of sheep inhabit these stone pens and sound content as I look beyond them to the clouds building overhead. I think I’m going to need shelter soon, so I begin the trek, mud-caked wellies encasing my feet as I head for a thatch-roofed cottage within sight.

As I approach the garden area, a border-collie type dog rushes to greet me and lick the hand I outstretch to pet her head. From within the doorway comes the aroma of baking bread. As I get closer to that doorway, a middle aged woman appears, dressed simply in a sweater and skirt, with a kerchief tied around her graying hair.

“Have a spot of tea with me?” she asks, gesturing me into the cottage.

The room I enter is small and warm, delightful smells enveloping me, and steam is rising from a kettle on the stove.

I sit down at the table in front of an empty cup and wait.


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Dancing with Horses.

Dancing with your Horse was the name of the clinic. Our instructor, Cindy Loader, is a level three graduate of the Parelli program who also happens to be a belly dancer. How fun is that? The price was right and I signed up. The day of the clinic the sky was low and threatened rain, and I wondered for a moment what in the heck I was doing? There was a really good chance that I wouldn’t know a single person there and it could easily be a cold, wet experience to boot. I fixed a cup of coffee for the road, loaded my beautiful horse into the trailer and off we went, almost ready for a new experience.

The focus of the clinic was to get in rhythm with your horse. Cindy said, if you can’t get in rhythm with your horse, you cannot expect them to get in touch with you. Although it is important for the human to be the leader, we could invite our partner to dance with us instead of feeling like we are making them bend to our will. Wouldn’t it be awesome if our horse was participating because they wanted to be with us? Another way I am reminded that Respect is a two way street.

On the ground, we led our horses around the arena, matching their footfalls. Her left foot moves forward and I step out with my left, right foot, left foot hesitates, right foot. The clinic participants came in as many shapes and sizes as the horses, and the noise level dropped as we all concentrated on getting in sync with our long legged partners. Horses communicate with body language; they are always aware of each others proximity and mood. I sense that Lakota is curious about this new game, her ears and eyes let me know that she is paying attention. After a few rounds at a walk we added new elements to our dance, turning and returning to the rail, and attempting to stop in sync without any cues form the lead line. And then we threw the lead lines over the horses back and tried to do the same routine with out holding on to them at all.

I found myself grabbing Lakota’s halter and placing her back where I intended her to be. Cindy caught me in the act and corrected me, inviting me to find a new way to communicate with Lakota without touching her. I got a little frustrated and saw my type “A” personality in clear perspective, my need to control the situation, doing what I always do, trying to make it look right ... totally forgetting that the clinic was called “Dancing with your Horse” ~ not ~ “How to do Relate to your Horse as you Always Have, You Big Bully”.

I asked for help. Cindy showed me several ways to accomplish what I was trying to do in a more respectful manner. Lakota responded willingly, she was paying attention. She was ready to get with the new program and play this game! Taking a few deep breaths I relaxed, put a smile on my face and stepped forward in a new way. I liked it. Lakota liked it. We were partners and I was leading the dance. It didn’t always look pretty but that would come with practice.

Stepping it up a notch, Cindy told us our next challenge. One by one, each of the participants took the halters off their horse as we applied our new skills to see if we could keep our horses tuned in to us, as they were actually free to go wherever they wanted. All of the sudden the small corral we were all in seemed so much bigger! Let me just say that some dance steps looked better than others and leave it at that. We all gained knowledge from each others mistakes and learned as we laughed; knowing that each one of us was going to have to play our way through this new experience.

Back at home I have been practicing with my very patient horse, the new ideas that I brought home from the clinic. But the light bulb went off this morning. What if I applied these techniques to my two legged relationships? What if I made a more conscious effort to get in rhythm with my human partners? My limited experience on the ballroom dance floor has illuminated a lack of communication, learning to follow instead of taking the lead is a challenge. I do feel like I have worked on my overwhelming need to control, enrolling year after year in Control Issues 101, and yet just a few minutes with my horse showed me how much more I still need to learn. She, by the way, is a great dancer!!

* annette

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Come Alive

Don't ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

A quote by Howard Thurman

I read the above this morning and headed out to my garden. It’s a very warm late September day, maybe the last one that will allow me to be out here comfortably in shorts and tee. I “should” be resting given the bug I’m, on day five, working out of my lungs and body. But the warmth, light breeze and my cat’s contentment in being out with me keep me from retreating in. I was transplanting to fill in some spaces in the part of the rock wall I built this summer. I hadn’t gotten any plants in the last twenty feet or so. So I take pieces of plants, hopefully willing to resettle at this late date, from the earlier rock wall I built a couple of years ago. This bare section has a particularly steep angle with more rock on rock and less dirt in between for plants to grow, than the other part of the wall with a gentler angle.

As I placed a small piece of a vine-like plant into a crevice I hear “Are you sure I can make it here?”

And with full confidence an answer appeared as clearly as the question posed “Yes, you will make it here. You see not every plant is capable of growing in such tight conditions. You have the strength and wisdom to reach past those two rocks and send out shoots to nourish yourself. You would have to be a very special little plant to get picked for the job. Not every plant is up for this. Besides you have no idea how many others will be impressed and helped by your resolve and fortitude. What you will achieve with what you were given will far outseed all expectations.”

“Well alright, if you say so.” “But honestly two rocks? And you want me to be productive and impress too!”

“You have no idea how many others you will affect. It will be hard to see, most of the time, from your vantage point. But I promise you will survive and live long enough to do what you are planted for. You have to trust life.”

“Honestly, it looks like a pretty dim situation. Those are two tough looking rocks; I don’t see much give there, no less any room for me. Are you sure?”

“Sure as can be. And you’ll be surprised by what you can do and what comes along the way.”

“Okay then, I’ll do my best. But you better give me some support.”

“You got it.”

And so a conversation between the little plant and Being of all Plants took place as the little one snuggled in-between two rocks to settle into a life of much fruitfulness, beauty and kindness. Not always easily but with much grace and laughter. But most importantly the little plant found what made her come alive and that is what the world needs.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A Kitchen

In l975 my mother-in-law from the south was moving in with us for the summers. Our two teenage daughters were growing and taking up much more space. At the suggestion of Aunt Cile, my husband’s aunt, “why not take a jar of homemade plum jam up to Mrs. Perkins, in the next block, to let her know you are interested in buying her house when she retires”. We had heard rumors. And, this she did in the following year, the jam proved beneficial.

It was a five bedroom rambling two-story that needed remodeling back into a single family home. I began on the downstairs kitchen, creating the closest I’ve come to a dream kitchen. First, we exposed two of the double-brick walls, keeping the old solidly build wood cabinets, painting them a white enamel for easy cleaning, using black hinges and handles. A deep, dark red sink with a brass goose-necked faucet was ideal for washing anything, plus canning easily. One of my prizes I found was an old Chambers gas stove from the 1930s for $125. This came from the old Pine Street grocery store at the corner of Pine and Folsom, I am sure few remember this store. It had a griddle, which rolled up exposing the broiler underneath, very strongly built, all clad in stainless steel and white enamel. A warming shelf on top, with a cover for the entire stove, which was rarely used.

There was too much cooking action to keep it covered.

Another part of this kitchen that was loved by all was the breakfast nook. These are almost impossible to find anymore. It was build in an arched alcove with simply carved high benches and a wonderful solid table, two of the pieces which were moveable. Many good times were spent eating and sharing intimacies in this cozy space.

Much to our dismay, we were saddened to learn later owners eventually scraped the nook for a more open space. Maybe there wasn’t as much a need for that kind of warmth and togetherness anymore. Or each generation finds it in their own ways. Just as long as we keep gathering together in our intimate cozy places for sharing our love of food.

Patricia Jordan

Monday, October 5, 2009

Poem - I shroud myself

I shroud myself--
With bright sun light
With noisy wave crash
With damp sand
With sea breeze
With icy pacific--
Seeking decay of that which is dead in me
And revival of the me who walks in harmony.

--Terra Rafael

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I am as close as
My own breath
Breathing me into existence,
Moment by moment.

Stay with me now.
I am your lover
Giving you my all,
Now and forever.

Prema Rose

Saturday, October 3, 2009


Some people have no secrets, no real private parts of themselves they don't reveal to others. Yet there are others who travel alone a lot of their lives. They may have spouses, friends, children and lovers, parents...yet their walk is solitary. In those deeper moments, in those deeper places, where no one accompanies them, they keep to themselves. They may look for a kindred spirit, and if they are lucky, they may find one or two in a lifetime. This is also rare.
Does one choose this type of life or does the life choose them?


Friday, October 2, 2009

Every Once in a While

Every once in a while, maybe once in a whole lifetime, you come upon an un-livable relationship. It may be a friend, a family member, a spouse, a child… often it is a family member and you feel you cannot slam the door completely for the sake of others. So you let it go on year after year.


Looking back you realize you have poured massive amounts of your life’s blood into the relationship. It has been your choice. It is always your choice. You worked years, decades, and eons to make it workable. You do it because you believe in truth and honesty. Your mistake is in believing that everyone is looking for truth and honesty.


 Over time you found yourself standing on your head, turning summersaults, dancing in circles all in the name of this relationship. You soldiered on brave, courageous and incredibly stupid letting things fly on by. Things you knew you should not but in the name of relationship (yet, again) you did. You longed to believed the lies because you wanted this person to turn it around, get a brain, make a step in the right direction… Over and over again you put up with the garbage rather than take it to the dump because maybe, just maybe, this time…  what?


It got old, it ran its course, things cooled off and you found yourself thinking, okay, give it one more go. Maybe this time… Then there you are in the flick of a butterfly’s wing back in the destructive game and you are not winning. You are never going to win this game that has no end.


The relationship is sinister and evil. It is an addiction: alcohol, drugs, disease, mental illness, all of these rolled into one sweet package. It does not care about you or all your years of trying. Not one teeny tiny bit. Zip. Nada. Nunca. Nothing. The addiction will always win if you continue on.


You are fighting for the righteous, for the best in people. The dragon is out there to be slain so you get up every morning of every day. You know that you can be the absolute best person possible if you just leap up and do heroic acts every single day, after day, after day. And so you do.


If this essay seems overly repeated, boring and a little uncomfortable you are right. Couldn’t be more right… almost funny, huh? Not really.


Will you ever give it up? Do it for your sanity. Give it up. It will never work. Let her go gently into that good night. And, may she rest in peace.







Thursday, October 1, 2009

Barely Autumn Saturday

It is Saturday afternoon; after a string of cold dreary days, it is a drop dead gorgeous warm and sunny day. I have appraisal work to set at my computer and work up; things that have to be delivered before I can travel to Wisconsin in a few days, but I cannot stay inside. I make peace with that calling and surrender to the beautiful day. A girlfriend drove over in the late morning and we went to the Sugarbeet Festival. It was small and rural and charming. They had food, live bands, a tractor pull, and the local farmers who own the sugar beet co-op had information booths. I was surprised and pleased to see how many products contain sugar from our local harvest. I asked one of the women and she said that if the package does not say “from cane” then it is made with sugar beets. I will pay more attention, no offence Hawaii.

Back at home, I tried to start my push mower to no avail. A couple dropped by to talk about boarding horses, a mare and a three month old filly. That would be fun I think. They were nice folks and my place is within their search range. As they left I went over and my riding mower started right up, thankfully. I am hoping to mow my lawn for the last time this season and I had wanted to use the push mower ~ it is a crisper cut and I can get in places that I cannot get with my rider. But I putted around and did a pretty good job; mowing the lawn puts me into that alpha state of mind, kind of like meditating and I relax into it. I drove the mower into the shed and got out my weed eater to clean up the edges but I could not get it started either. I allowed myself to daydream for a few minutes on how awesome it would be to have a fellow who could help me with this aspect of my sweet life on this little farm. And it will be…...

I went inside and drank a glass of water and slid on a pair of old jeans. Outside, I called to my sweet horse and she came to see what I was doing. We played for a while, a new technique we learned a few weeks ago at an all day clinic. I climbed on bareback and rode around the property for a while, enjoying the warmth of the sun, the warmth of her body, and the warmth that spread from my heart to the rest of the universe. Did you feel it?

I led Lakota over to a place in the yard that I could not get to with my mower. The grass was tall and lush and I thought she might like it. I went inside to get a drink and my pruning shears. As my horse finished “mowing” my yard, I pruned the brown seed heads off my lilac bushes and sipped my drink.
The sun is sinking towards the mountains ~ my view from here is spectacular.
In this moment, I have everything that I need.

* annette