Sunday, July 29, 2007

Horse Back Riding -Sunday

Allie had asked me if I wanted to come riding with her and a friend Lisa and her daughter Annabel. We drove from Allie's house in my car to the parking lot, of the Double D Ranch, where the trail was to begin. My horse was called Travis and I was pleasantly surprised by how friendly and happy all of the horses seemed to be. All looked well fed, and interested in each other and what was going on. Phil, the owner was a horse whisperer type - sparkling blue eyes and wild white hair under a cowboy hat. I'm always a little nervous when it comes to riding but these horses were great. They were all well used to carrying non rider passengers and were very steady and happy to ride together as a team.
I had been told that Travis could be a little lazy and he certainly was at the start of the ride. Our MO was to walk at a snails pace until the horse in front was around 50 ft away, I'd ask him to trot, after a few nudges, grudgingly he'd oblige and we'd catch up with everyone. Actually as we got further into the ride, I think he got to like having me on his back a little more and we had some quite animated catch ups. On one of more energetic spurts i asked him to canter - but HELL NO was Travis' reply. Then we hit a nasty spot were there must have been a bees nest. A few of the horses got stung and bucked. Travis must have gotten stung and he started to kick his fellow equines. Unfortunately non of the victim's riders were able to get their horses past us quickly enough. I did try to force Travis' butt away from the other horses, but as there was another horse in front of us we were a little boxed in and there was nowhere for me to send him out of harms way. Ultimately, Travis and I were demoted to the rear.
Things calmed down until we nearly took out two small boys on bikes. Then the group who'd cantered ahead rode up behind us which made Travis jump out of his skin. I have a feeling he might have hurt himself when he kicked one of the other horses, because he was definitely spooked by anything getting behind him on the ride after that. The lady who lead the ride I think was named Nancy. I really enjoyed the experience and would like to go out with them again in the fall. I think it will do me the world of good to get comfortable cantering/ galloping with this group.
We passed some really cool waterfalls and homes , all of which made me think that if I could not live by the ocean , forest land with trails and bubbling streams would be an acceptable second best. Having braved a very scary yellow butterfly, Travis heaved a sigh of relief when we finally made it back to the parking lot. My legs were so weak I could barely swing them out of the saddle. I feel tomorrow will be painful. Allie did really well - cantered and did a nice rising trot.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Wonderful Ganesh  from the 12th century, Halebid, KarnatakaOne of the guys, who I work with, Sanjiv, is Indian and Hindu, a religion that I find intriguing. He returned from a trip to India this Wednesday and presented me with a carving of the Hindu god Ganesh. Ganesha is said to create the faith to remove all obstacles and Hindu’s worship and invoke the name of Ganesh before undertaking any venture or move. He tends to be placed prominently in a new home.

Significance of the Ganesha Form
Ganesha's head symbolizes the Atman or the soul, which is the ultimate supreme reality of human existence, and his human body signifies Maya or the earthly existence of human beings. The elephant head denotes wisdom and its trunk represents Om, the sound symbol of cosmic reality. In his upper right hand Ganesh holds a goad, which helps him propel mankind forward on the eternal path and remove obstacles from the way. The noose in Ganesha's left hand is a gentle implement to capture all difficulties. The broken tusk that Ganesha holds like a pen in his lower right hand is a symbol of sacrifice, which he broke for writing the Mahabharata. The rosary in his other hand suggests that the pursuit of knowledge should be continuous. The laddoo (sweet) he holds in his trunk indicates that one must discover the sweetness of the Atman. His fan-like ears convey that he is all ears to our petition. The snake that runs round his waist represents energy in all forms. And he is humble enough to ride the lowest of creatures, a mouse.

How Ganesha Got His Head
The story of the birth of this zoomorphic deity, as depicted in the Shiva Purana, goes like this: Once goddess Parvati, while bathing, created a boy out of the dirt of her body and assigned him the task of guarding the entrance to her bathroom. When Shiva, her husband returned, he was surprised to find a stranger denying him access, and struck off the boy's head in rage. Parvati broke down in utter grief and to soothe her, Shiva sent out his squad (gana) to fetch the head of any sleeping being who was facing the north. The company found a sleeping elephant and brought back its severed head, which was then attached to the body of the boy. Shiva restored its life and made him the leader (pati) of his troops. Hence his name 'Ganapati'.

From "Illusions - The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah"

"Once there lived a village of creatures along the bottom of a great crystal river. The current of the river swept silently over them all- young and old, rich and poor, good and evil, the current going its own way, knowing only its crystal self.
Each creature in its own manner clung tightly to the twigs and rocks of the river bottom, for clinging was their only way of life, and resisting the current what each had learned from birth.
But one creature said 'I am tired of clinging. Though I cannot see it with my eyes I trust that the current knows where it is going. I shall let go, and let it take me where it will. Clinging, I shall die of boredom!'
The other creatures said , 'Fool! Let go and that current you worship will throw you tumbled and smashed across the rocks, and you will die quicker than boredom!'.
But the one heeded them not, and taking a breath did let go, and at once was tumbled and smashed by the current accross the rocks.
Yet in time, as the creature refused to cling again, the current lifted him free from the bottom, and he was bruised and hurt no more.
And the creatures downstream to whom he was a stranger, cried, 'see a miracle! A creature like ourselves, yet he flies!'
And the one carried in the current said 'The river delights to lift us free if only we dare to let go. Our true work is this voyage, this adventure.'...
.....In the path of our happiness shall we find the learning for which we have chosen this lifetime.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Saturday Night At the Beach

Carey and I had plans to have an easygoing evening of a few drinks dinner and then bed early so that we could enjoy the beach on Sunday. Unfortunately as is the way with such plans – all caution flew to the wind and we ended up getting trashed and being altogether immature. It was fun – but the downside was a bit of a painful hangover on my actual birthday. Highlight of this day was the usual Sunday dinner at Zack’s with Jeff (Cat was off in DC/ Cape May with her nieces).

Saturday Diving at Dutch Springs

Diving with Hans was great. I dove in my wet suit so I could easily reach my valves and perform the required drills. I’m buying a new dry suit as one of the problems I have is that my old suit is too short in the body to allow my arms enough reach to get my hands on my valves. I practiced lost mask, moving my sling bottle around (fixed ‘D’ rings make this so easy). Hans dives on a rebreather and so we were able to practice the out of air drills I’d do with Charlie – who also dives rebreather. I’d never really seen a rebreather in action either. It’s weird to see someone diving with no bubbles. Hans spent time working on his buoyancy. I watched him working at keeping his buoyancy level during the slow gradual ascents we made throughout our dive. He did pretty well but I think the dive was a useful practice for him too. Last stop on the dive was a student platform where I practiced responding to the actual drills Charlie uses on his training dives. All went well and I felt very relieved. Hans gave me some good feedback and some nuggets from his instructor which I liked.

Jeff Bollinger (long time friend and dive buddy) was at the quarry teaching an Advanced Open Water class and Michele Carvale (another close dive based friend) was teaching Open Water, with her new man, Bill, assisting her. Pat Iapicca, the original owner of Hoboken Dive Center , was there with his two sons (one taking OW the other taking AOW). It was kind of nice being there and not teaching for a change. It reminded me of how much of a breeze assisting as a Dive Master had been, without the responsibilities/ stresses of instructing. Did a final dive with Michele’s class and worked just on valve management. Michele threw some well needed compliments in my direction and added that her dry suit (DUI as is the one I have on order) is as easy to work in as her wet suit, so I can’t wait to get mine.

Advanced Nitrox

Advanced Nitrox

Well this weekend started with a Friday night class at Charlie Fertion’s house. I’m taking an Advanced Nitrox Diving certification – which is proving to be very challenging on many levels. Anyone who knows me well can attest to my lack of mathematical prowess. I have developed into a fairly disciplined student though, and devoted many hours to getting my head around the math and formula’s of decompression dive planning. I can now say that I am comfortable planning a deco dive. Sadly, this was to the detriment of my spending time planning the practicalities of a deco dive, with all new equipment, and filled with skills. This resulted in a colossal clusterfu*k of a dive with Charlie on my first time out. The dive was followed by a critical evaluation, which was very difficult for me to handle - a feeling akin to failing my first (and second) driving tests. I take criticism far too much to heart and it’s been challenging to stand back and view the critique in the way it was intended. Also very frustrating, because I know this type of diving is within my capability. Class was concentrated around execution of skills which was great because I had arranged to dive on Saturday with Hans Kaspersetz (Allie’s husband) at Dutch Springs to practice drills.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Finger printed

The image “” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.So I am now officially Alien #0560**594. Sat with around 120 people - some looking a LITTLE nervous from 2-3.30pm at CIS Newark before being photographed, fingerprinted and logged. The next step is the naturalization test.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dinner At Cat's House

Lovely dinner at Cat's house. Allie, Hans, Jeff, Beth, Cat's Nieces, her friend Cathy from school, her daughter - Allie, neighbors. Champagne, Birthday cake. Lovely night with my favorite friends.

Hans and Allie bought me a leather journal "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page" and a fridge magnet "Leap and the net will appear". I think they are trying to tell me something:) I will write all of the things that aren't fit for public consumption in the journal!! No pictures because I forgot to pick up my camera.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Lennox MA July14/15 2006

I'd planned to return to Lennox, MA since a trip there with my parents in 2005. This weekend I'd arranged a trip with two of my friends from New Jersey, Catherine Holtz and Allie Gaddy - both kindred spirits. We arrived late Friday night and after a deep, albeit brief, philosophical debate on the contents of 'People' and 'Hello' magazines we turned in for the night. We woke early Saturday and were surprised at how crisp the air was in comparison to the sticky heat of NYC in July. Allie and I decided to go for a run. Cat was to power walk behind us. Conversation soon faded as we headed up the first hill! Thankfully Allie runs at a pace as slow as mine - which is truly rare. The air was fresh and filled with the smell of woodland. Bird song made us feel very relaxed. We did come across a ferocious wild brown bare, who turned out to be a man stooping to pick up his Saturday paper. We doubled back after 15 minutes. We passed Cat pretty quickly as her power walk speed fell only slightly short of our running pace. It was agreed that Cat would head on and we'd pick her up in the car. Well - what a fiasco ensued. We jumped into Cats car and followed the road we'd expected Cat to take - no sign of her. So we doubled back, tried an alternate route and then made our way back to the original parking spot. By this point Allie and I had become convinced that Cat had been kidnapped. Our main suspect was a shifty character we'd seen earlier on our run, who'd looked very sheepish when we'd said good morning and undoubtedly had been up to no good in the trunk of his car (midnight blue Toyota 4 Runner). Having alerted a passing police officer of our plight and stopping several early morning strollers for questioning, we eventually found Cat around 10 miles down the road. Very relieved, we decided black bears and kidnappings had left us very hungry so we showered and went into Lennox for breakfast. We ate in a fantastic little cafe named 'Carols'. The walls were blue and covered in painted white clouds. There was an intuitive medium offering readings and we all decided to give it a go. Her name was Vicki Baird ( I've been preoccupied with thoughts of leaving my stressful office job in Manhattan for a more simple life in Mexico. Learning a new language, teaching scuba, meeting more free spirited people. I feel my spirit is stagnating in commercial NYC, and that I'm ready for a new adventure. BUT then I'm scared of change and very attached to my little apartment, fantastic group of friends and the financial security my job gives me. Vicki professed to be able to communicate with spirit guides, and view what she describes as video type images of her subject's future. Whether or not this was true I cant say, but she was a very warm and intuitive person. I'd once been told by a psychic that I had a black spirit attached to me and that this was the reason I'd befallen such foul luck in love. Vicki was cross about this. She said that the lady I'd encountered had probably had some kind of gift but that the darkness she sensed around me was of quite a different nature. She told me that I had the gift of seeing people's feelings (which is very true), and that I often ended up being darkened by other people's troubles. She saw that I'd recently been trying hard to distance myself from the urge to take responsibility for the way others were feeling (true, true...). She suggested I should imagine a white light around me when I am around bleak people. This I will try. Vicki also told me that I was more at home in nature. She saw that I was artistic and asked me about photography. Apparently she saw my fame resting in this field. Her view was that a move to Mexico was almost necessary for me to make. My spirit guides are apparently so numerous as to represent a throng behind me. Three were dominant; a man, who bizarly water ski's, is the guide who is most dominant when I am close to nature. There is also a lady dressed in Victorian clothes - either a spiritual or physical ancestor. I asked about my grandmother and was told she was happy to be free. A free spirit who'd not been able to be free in her life and fully behind my planned move. A fair assessment. Cat and Allie had similarly pleasing experiences.
After breakfast we shopped for our picnic din
ner and bought sushi for lunch. We ate on the grass behind the theater where we were to see a Midsummer Night's Dream.
We had a glass of red wine and pondered our readings, I read a little. The play was good fun, although I find actors the strangest folk. After the play we headed to Tanglewood and set up to watched Andre Previn conducting Mozart's Symphony No. 29, Haydn's Cello Concerto No.1 in C and Ravel's Sheherazade. A good red Shiraz with cheese, bread, olives and hummus. Champagne and fruit to follow. The evening got off to a sophisticated start, but quickly proceedings took a downward turn, when we decided to imagine the conductor's sexual antics in terms of his conducting style. Very juvenile and nothing at all to do with me:)
By the time Ravel was underway we three had fallen into a deep sleep.
The next day we returned to Carol's and this time decided to each spend 30 minutes with Sheilaa Hite ( I had another great reading. This time based on Tarot cards and a palm reading. I was told that I had an old spirit and the hard time I'd had in relationships had been to do with the settling of old karma. I had been a seer in past lives. There was a great connection, for me, with the Ocean. Sheilaa also urged me to go to Mexico. She too saw photography and writing in my future. She said love was on the cards but that I had more to learn about myself first. I had a few years to go, although the lovers were entwined in the ocean. My future looked safe financially, people warmed to me, she said because of this gift I have of seeing people and would want to help me and give me things. My spirit was on a journey and would only stagnate in an office. I needed to move to grow. She urged me to move as soon as possible. Felt very inspired after breakfast and settled under a wise old tree with a glass of white wine and pondered life and my future while waiting for Allie and Cat.