Open from 2-6 pm today
729 Park (Park and Mill) , SLO
In less than two weeks Tom and I will pack up our old station wagon and head east on our farewell tour, traveling slowly across the US visiting friends and family. Even though our grown kids rented a truck and filled it with family furniture, art, and almost all the potted plants, our little house in San Luis is still filled with beautiful things that need new homes.
With the time so limited and all those years of running the shop at Mama Ganache behind me, I’ve decided to create a moving sale store in the living room of our little house.
It’ll be open whenever one of us is at home, partly by schedule, partly by serendipity. Every day, as I continue to sort and pack, I’ll put more items out.
I’ll post the schedule here, on Facebook, Instagram , and on Nextdoor.
At the beginning the store will have smaller items in it: folk art, art supplies, kitchen things. As the end comes near, we’ll sell the furniture.
Letting go of so many things is easier than I expected. A sensation of lightness goes right through me as I walk through the increasingly empty rooms of our little house.
When did I last use all those beautiful rubber stamps? I remember exactly where the pot with the frog on top went in our big house, but it never had a good place in the little one. Surely someone else will love it as much as I did.
I wish we could take all the art! The signed and framed prints, handmade pottery, and charming folk art pieces are the hardest for me to part with.
Tom feels the same about the cookware he’s leaving behind.
It pains me not to take along everything that was given to us as gifts over the years.
Please come by to see which of these loved objects might find a new home with you.
The moving sale store is at our house:
729 Park St. (Park and Mill), SLO
Wed-Thurs-Fri, June 20- 22: 2-6 pm
Sat, June 23: 10am – 6pm
Sun, June 24: 10am – 3 pm
Mon- Fri, June 25-29: 10am – 6 pm
I hope to see many of you this week or next. Take this as one more opportunity to say good-bye!
July 14, 1937 – June 2, 2018
The Bodhisattvas, they walk among us,
and sometimes we lend ourselves and they become us.
The hand of spirit is the hand you raise
when you weave the strands of your nights and days.
Charlo Vogt, Weave your Reality
Bobbe Scott was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever known.
She was radiant, she was impossibly energetic, she faced life with endless grace. Her laugh was contagious, her smile delightful, and she was always beautifully dressed, right down to the rings on her arthritis-gnarled, stubby fingers. Bobbe’s eulogies should overflow with admiration for the many ways she dealt with that arthritis.
Bobbe was wise and funny, as all the best Buddhists are. She loved life and the arts, Los Angeles and New York. She was perpetually of service to others, and graciously asked for and received the care of others when necessary. When I sat in a room in meditation with Bobbe, I would be drawn to a level of serenity that I rarely reach on my own.
Bobbe was a dear, dear friend and mentor to me, precious beyond words. She made me feel deeply known and profoundly loved. Our relationship was intimate and authentic.
And I am one of many people who feel this way. Bobbe loved us all.
In my notes from one of the One Year to Live classes Bobbe taught at SLO hospice, I found this page. It’s from the session on end-of-life paperwork, during which we discussed assisted dying.
“If I can’t enjoy a good meal, if I can’t remember what I ate yesterday, if I can’t get to the Palm Theatre, put me out.”
The next year, she put it more simply, “If I’m more disabled than I am now, that’ll be it.”
And she chose to leave as gracefully as she lived.
The current state of the pallet.
We’re experimenting with what to take and what to leave behind, and piling up various configurations of it on the driveway. Pretty soon we’ll have a good enough idea of how and what will fit and the pile will move indoors.
Since my project is called Two Suitcases, I took the idea of moving to France with two suitcases pretty seriously. Well, with two suitcases apiece. Eventually it came to me that, though it would offer me to opportunity to partially replicate my parents’ arrival in the same part of the world in 1940, it was a thoroughly romantic – and therefore impractical – notion. We shifted our thinking to shipping one pallet of boxes.
Right now the boxes making the cut contain: the library I’ve collected to use as background material for Two Suitcases, a few boxes of my papers and other books, some of Tom’s papers and books, framed photos of the family, art, kitchen things, winter clothes, and some items to make our new home feel like our old one. Carpets, my computer, Tom’s keyboard, and more art will be shipped separately.
Most of my days are filled with sorting and packing. This box has our favorite mugs at the bottom, some delicate pieces of art and glass in the middle, and at the top, some of the birds that lived in our houseplants or flew around the ceilings in our home here.
At its center, packed very carefully, is the crystal bell my father bought my mother with his first paycheck in 1943, less than a year after they arrived in Philadelphia. He always said he bought it to remind her of what is important.
Our journey to Cordes-sur-Ciel began as an open-ended exploration about a year ago when I realized I could get dual Austrian-American citizenship, EU citizenship, opening the possibility of living anywhere in the European Union.
At first Tom and I imagined we would go to Luçon, the small city on the Atlantic coast of France, near to my guru family at Centre Tripoura. We’ve been going to visit them since the 80’s. But when I heard the mayor of Luçon say that his main vision for the town was to keep it French, I began looking elsewhere.
We considered Montauban next. My parents were there for a few months in 1940, after the exodus from Paris. Through the collaborative efforts the Austrian Social Democratic Party, the Philadelphia Quakers, and the French Resistance, they went into hiding nearby for two and a half years. Then, sponsored by the Quakers, they came to Philadelphia where I was born. I thought we would take a furnished apartment in Montauban for a few months, do some research on that very interesting collaboration, and then move on. We found a lovely apartment in Montauban right away, but it was only available for a full year, September to September, longer than we wanted to spend there. In the end, Montauban didn’t call us.
As luck would have it, we had one night with no place to sleep scheduled, so we stayed at Le Secret du Chat, on the same street as the house. The proprietors there were able to answer so many questions!
Tree of Life by Lee Lawson
For a panel discussion recently, I was asked to share the advice I would give young women on embracing their inner goddess. This is my response:
I am convinced that on August 21, 2017, at 10:15 in the morning California time, the balance between god-energy and goddess-energy tipped toward the goddess.
In preparation for the shift, our culture has been teetering between a Father-in-the-Sky-centered mythology to a mythology centered on ourselves, leaving out divinity altogether. Neither of those myths holds up anymore. The myth of the goddess, on the other hand, is gaining power.
Unlike God-with-a capital-G, of whom there is only one in the dominant monotheistic view, the goddess manifests in infinite ways. She is the spark in everything that makes it unique.
The goddess shows up when we value the present moment, when we value what we have over what we wish we had. As the future becomes less dependable, the present gains value. Now, more and more people will recognize the magic in the myriad of small things. The goddess hides in the ordinary. The dove is in the stone, as my teacher Alice O. Howell would say.
As the times get harder – hurricanes, floods, droughts, earthquakes – and the loss of material goods and comfort becomes more widespread, a value shift always happens. It was palpable in the days following the fall of the Twin Towers. It happened in Houston after Harvey hit. It happens whenever there’s a disaster. At least for a little while, people begin to see the value of working together, of helping one another, of contributing to the good of the whole. We are all in this together, after all.
Embracing your inner goddess means finding that in yourself that only you can do, the unique way you that you alone can serve the greater good. That’s your purpose here on earth. That’s when God-with-a-capital-G becomes good-with-a-small-g, and the goddess in you recognizes herself everywhere.
An extraordinary dream came to me about a week ago. It was so bright and clear that it woke me completely, though it was three or four in the morning. Knowing that it would take a good while to fall asleep once the solid world had returned so fully, I did what I’ve been doing when I’m awake at night lately: I try to use my time well. Usually I repeat mantras or do breathing exercises. This dream, however, demanded my full attention. I went over and over it in my mind, sinking into its details.
In the morning, when the dream was fresh on my mind, I shared it with Tom, and I wrote it down in a note to a friend.
This is how I remember it now.
I am walking across a parking lot with my hand in my mother’s; we are going shopping in a department store. The store is a large windowless concrete building with two parts joined at the center but skewed, the lower half on the left and the higher one on the right.We enter by a door at the middle.
Still holding hands, my mother and I take the escalator downstairs to find some pajamas for me. The pajamas are easy to find, but I have grown, and need to try them on.
“Where is the changing room?” I ask someone. I am an adult now and my mother is gone.
There is no changing room on this floor, I’m told. I should look upstairs.
I climb the stairs to the upper level, but there’s no changing room there either. Someone tells me there’s an in-between floor that I missed. The changing room is there.
Halfway down the stairs I find an unfinished concrete room without windows, empty except for a guard in a brown uniform sitting at a wooden desk. I go to him and ask about the changing room.
“It’s there,” he points behind me. I turn to see a doorway opening onto a beautiful meadow, bright blue sky, clear sunshine. On the other side of the meadow is a long, single-story, concrete building.
Once through the doorway, I find myself on walkway that runs along the side of the building. It is bounded by a wall, perhaps two feet high. After a moment’s hesitation, I climb onto the wall, pajamas tucked under my arm crackling in their cellophane wrapping, and jump down four or so feet onto the soft grass. Thrilled to be in the meadow, I run joyfully across it, a child again.
When I reach the second building and go in, I see it is a nursing home. I walk down the hall to my left until I find an open door.
In the room, a young black woman is tending a very old woman sitting in a chair.
“Where is the changing room?” I ask. The young woman asks me to wait and leaves the room.
I sit with the ancient woman. She doesn’t speak. We communicate through the eyes.
When the young woman reappears, she is carrying a white blanket. You can put this over your head and change under it, she explains. I go into the corridor and do as she suggests.
Under the blanket, I open the package and discover that the pajamas as perfect. A lovely shade of pink, the top is floor-length, soft and delicate, full of grace. The front is exquisitely embroidered, and the pants are billowy silk, pulled tight at the ankle.
I am in awe, and beginning to come out from under the blanket when it is pulled off from above. As I step out to spin around, to feel the wonderful garment swirl around me, I see that it is the guard from the middle floor taking off the blanket. On his uniform I can read the words Child Protective Services.
I wake up, stunned.
I’m not afraid anymore. I am protected.
I found the changing room.
Ganesh Baba used to say that. Such a delightful aphorism – so full of broad and deep meaning.
To me, it means wherever you are is exactly the right place for you to be. The central secret is at your center. The treasure is buried in your own garden.
We didn’t move. Tom and I are still living in the same house, and working at the same business, Mama Ganache. The house, in my mind all ready to be someone else’s, wanted to be ours a little longer. Everything seemed to be in place, and I’d done all kinds of symbolic, metaphoric, ritual, and inner work around letting go—I even led the session called “Letting Go” in a Year-to-Live class I co-teach—but the fates had it that we’re here, at home again.
It’s a fortunate thing, although fraught with difficulties and very hard work. This house is filled with light and beauty. And now it’s clean and repaired! What a gift!
During the weeks the house was on the market and the first few after, I was tired and depressed and sick. Not all at once. Yeah, all at once.
Still, underneath all that physical, biological and psychological stress, I managed to retain a small, frequently imperceptible, sense that everything was going to be alright. It’s true I was wearing my little ceramic disk that says THIS TOO SHALL PASS, which always helps, but it was the way life itself unfolded that gave me the message most profoundly.
The very moment Tom and I decided that we would stay here, a text arrived from a friend, who had another friend, who was in need of a furnished room or two. Our new housemate moved in an hour later. Best housemate we’ve ever had. It would have been enough.
Events had almost inevitably been turns for the worse over the weeks before that. Things broke down, big things, the water heater, the sewage pump, the washer, all within a short time. The toilet overflowed and needed to be replaced when Airbnb guests were here. Everything took forever and cost too much. Then, in a flash, a helpful, upbeat, mature, and kind housemate moves in.
A week later, Mama Ganache lost both of its weekday shop employees at the same time, and it became clear to me that I should step back into the business. So here I am, Mama Ganache again.
I spent the last month on a new website: mama-ganache.com. I set up a chocolate club and free delivery service to hospitals and nursing homes. Tom and I are hosting two weekly events at the shop, a tea on Sundays, and a conversation on Thursday afternoons. We’re hosting two parties a month, Art after Dark on first Fridays, and the chocolate club pick-up party on second Fridays. I’ve been crazy busy.
In the middle of all that, Eva came on Thursday last week. She and I already have a long relationship with hummingbirds, so I knew the hummingbird who flew into the living room just before Luana dropped her off, had some message for me.
It was another rufous hummingbird, West Coast parallel to the ruby-throated hummingbird. It was trying frantically to fly out of the window above the dog’s bed. Lily Bear thought it was very exciting indeed, but she backed off when I asked her to. Almost immediately the bird fell, stunned, onto the window sill. When I tried to lift it up gently, it awoke and dashed into the upper corner of the window again. In my hand were three tiny hummingbird feathers.
As I stared at them, astonished, the bird fell again, very nearly into my open hands. This time I could lift it and carry it outdoors. I put it in a flower box and went to get a succulent leaf to make a sun shield for it.
When I came back with the leaf, the hummingbird looked at me with one eye and took off, circling around once and then landing high in the oak tree.
The feathers must have slid out of my hand when I put the bird in the flower box.
I picked them up and put them in a special box. Hummingbird feathers, so tiny, so exquisite. Extraordinary.
These are hard times. The large, slow-moving astrological configuration (Uranus/Pluto) that’s been putting so many obstacles, small and large, in my path, will affect us all in one way or another. But surely something bigger is afoot, or, perhaps I should say, in the air.