I did it. I crossed the boundary from modern to ancient. I went to an acupuncturist. I never thought I’d do it. Western medicine is losing its hold on me. It’s becoming more about scare tactics and meds than medical practitioners that can think outside the box. My arthritic toes needed help and my choices were orthopedic shoes that looked like army tanks or surgery. So I opted for the Chinese way.
On the recommendation of a friend, I went to see Dr. Chen. He’s a mild-mannered man with an accent. He showed me the needles he was planning to use and how he was going to treat my feet. I swallowed hard. He stuck the needles in every toe. It didn’t hurt. My feet looked like pin cushions. He left me lying on the table with my feet under heat lamps while he checked on other patients.
On subsequent visits the sticking of needles routine hurt. “That’s because circulation is returning,” Dr. Chen said with a smile. I didn’t know my circulation had departed. Now that it’s back, I’m wondering if it’s going to stay. Alf calls this foot therapy. That I’m working through my regret at not having pursued a dance career.
I need another three sessions according to Dr. Chen. Then I can retrieve my ballet shoes from the closet and soar.
Calvin says, “What happened to soaking your feet in warm sudsy water in front of a crackling fire? That’s what the ancients used to do.”
Have you noticed the crazy stuff that happens to people around the holidays? Why don’t these things happen other times of the year?
A friend called to tell me she ended up in the ER on Thanksgiving day, doubled over in pain and unable to breathe from an allergic reaction to eating a nut. She knew she was allergic, but she ate it anyway. Does insanity come over us this time of year?
A gregarious, fun-loving, life-of-the-party friend spent Thanksgiving alone. “That’s okay, I’ve had millions of Thanksgivings,” she said non-nonchalantly.
My neighbor’s youngest daughter chose to stay away from the family so she could finish her research paper for school. My neighbor was hurt and lamented the fact her entire family was not present around the table. These are adult children, with lives of their own.
The people I know with kids demand that their children show up for the holidays, no matter how old they are. I find that strange. They say they want their children to grow up, make a life for themselves and build careers, have children of their own, live happy lives. But then holiday time rolls around and the demand to appear over turkey or Christmas caroling becomes law. And the drama that ensues if the law isn’t obeyed is brutal. It takes a year to recover from it.
I think we make holiday time into more than what it should be – a reason to be with friends and family and be cozy with one another. It doesn’t have to be with every relative you have, or every one of your friends since kindergarten. Sometimes it’s with a friend who knows and understands you better than your sister or brother, or your distant relative thirteen times removed who is grateful you remembered her and she brings that joy to the party.
Calvin says, “Do what I do. Everyday is a holiday, a reason to suck on a bone, get your tummy rubbed, and snore under a fleece blanket.”
It’s coming to that time of the year where I peer into lobbies and storefronts for Christmas decorations on my walk to the office. These are the companies with money and they spare no expense with the decor. What makes it so striking is inside you’re in fairyland, or more precisely, Santa’s attic with his elves, gawking at 10-foot trees dripping in gold and sparkles, with beautifully wrapped red and gold presents amidst the poinsettias, and soft holiday music in the background. I know because I go in and take pictures. But outside on the dirty sidewalk you’re stepping over sleeping bodies of the homeless. The contrast takes my breath away. I wonder how many see it as they rush to their buildings clutching their peppermint mochas and early morning podcasts stuck to their ears.
I’ve noticed a woman who scoops up one of these homeless men. He sits on the street with a teddy bear. He has long grey, bushy hair and is usually reading a book. She takes him to the corner store and lets him pull down whatever he wants from the shelves. It’s usually chips, candies, coffee. I don’t know how often she does it, but she’s my hero. I know this because I’m in the same store. May her tribe increase.
I’m thinking of ways to help these people too, especially when the temperatures drop and the streets thin out because people are on vacation for the holidays.
Calvin says, “I have an idea. Send out a brigade of volunteers with their therapy dogs to give hugs and kisses. That would be a gift.”
I stood on the platform before the sun came up, waiting for the train. I looked up and saw a V formation of six pelicans. They were way off course. They belonged near the ocean, not this far inland. I concluded their GPS got muddled and they ended up at the subway station instead. Maybe they were going to go home that way. Once in San Francisco the way to the ocean was much closer. They could hop on the cable car and be at the wharf in minutes to the delight of all the tourists.
They continued to make several loops around the station in silence. Pelicans don’t honk like geese. They’re the introverts of the sky.
I kept following them with my eyes, wondering where they would touch down. All the station had to offer was a large cement parking lot, and miles of train tracks with a dangerous third rail that could kill you. I had visions of charred pelican and burned feathers. Not a pretty sight. Landing on cement wouldn’t be much prettier either. That would be a rough landing with scraped feet.
I thought of calling the firefighters to come rescue them. To pull their ladders into the sky and bring each one down to safety. But that wouldn’t work. They’d think me a crazy woman. I don’t know why. They’ve rescued a few of my cats up a tree.
Then just before the train arrived I saw them change course, come in lower and disappear behind a line of trees to the quacking of ducks at a nearby pond. Those ducks gave them their landing coordinates and saved me from a morning of drama.
Calvin says, “You should have called. I would have positioned myself in the middle of the parking lot and howled them down.”
There are three Indian families that live across the street from us. They have elementary school age children. At night they come out of their houses and talk with loud voices. It sounds like a party with everyone speaking at once. A friend of mine who visited India for the first time said, “It’s so noisy here, day and night, I can’t think.” The funny thing is they don’t talk to each other. It’s as if invisible walls were wrapped around each house with a no trespass sign. I don’t know why because they don’t talk to me either. It’s a shame because one of them has a prolific tangerine tree in their backyard and I’d like some.
On the other hand, my neighbors to the right have been friends for years. They have fig trees. Anybody with a fig tree is my best friend for life. As a child, my grandparent’s fig trees were my daily treat. At nap time, I’d climb out the bedroom window with a chair and gobble figs until I couldn’t breathe. My neighbors give me their crop in exchange for my lemons and oranges. To the left of me, there’s not even a hello from the front door. It’s just as well. She has no fruit trees. Two doors down a Portuguese family lives with Sunshine, the American short-hair cat, Nigel, the chihuahua, nameless chickens, and a persimmon tree that is so beautiful it takes my breath away. Every year we receive a box full of those beauties at our doorstep. Across the street from them is a family with teenagers and their revved-up cars that go zoom at midnight, sending me to the ceiling and back. In the front of their house they have an avocado tree. I’ve been tempted to snag a few as a consolation prize for putting up with their noise.
Calvin says, “Lucky you. Sunshine and Nigel bring me nothing but turds.”
Thursday night is when all the things that go boo in the night come out. In my neighborhood, that means lots of kids in intergalactic costumes with their parents peering out from our bushes so as not to look like hovering parents, which they are of course, which is a good thing these days, and especially on Halloween night.
I lock Calvin up in his crate and away from the front door, otherwise he’d swoosh out and sniff the kids to death. He doesn’t like it one bit. He feels it’s his night too. But I can’t trust him to behave himself like a decent beagle that he sometimes can be, but not on this night.
Of all the things that spook me on this night are:
- why this country has embraced this “holiday” that isn’t a holiday
- resorting to this in order to get free candy
- skeletons sitting in the passenger areas at the airport
- substituting harvest festivals for Halloween in religious settings – what’s the difference? The candy is the same
- Alf retrieving his favorite candy and hiding it in a pumpkin jar
- Calvin howling his head off and making the kids think we’re killing him
Calvin says, “You are killing me with this lock-down, and you don’t even toss me a Snickers bar, my favorite.”
California doesn’t have trees that change color in the fall. Evergreens seem to be the look most often when you’re driving. I don’t know why. It’s a pity really. I have to cross the border into Oregon to see them. Those Oregonians planted lots of maples and they reap a riot of color in October. It’s so beautiful it takes your breath away. I can’t imagine what Canada looks like this time of year. The East Coasters got the right idea, they too have these beauties. Here are three from Oregon. Calvin says, “A tree is a tree. As long as it’s upright, it works for me.”