Archive for the ‘adventures’ Category

Wombat goes to Camp

Sunday, March 17th, 2013

I spent the first week of March at yoga camp. It really was like camp. I was a little nervous to meet everyone — I only “knew” two of the people, who I had met previously in the cybershala. And it turned out to be such a lovely group of people and everyone got along swimmingly. It was a great mix of personalities, each with a warm heart.

It was interesting to be dropped into a new group of people with time to reflect on how you behave in a new group. When I meet new people, I tend to be performative at first and, even in a ‘we’re all here for the yoga’ setting, I have a difficult time leaving my academic identity behind. And some of that is ok– I am nerdy and excited about science and critters and stuff– but some of that comes from the desire for status or approval. It is funny that I try to seek approval that way, since know-it-all-ness (when not from sheer enthusiasm) can be so off-putting. Tim, clearly used to dealing with over-educated people, called me out on this with gentle humor, allowing me to see and abandon that dynamic. In any case, the performative stuff subsided by day 2 or so, and it was fun to hang out, expectation-free.

I stayed with three others in The Big Palapa, an three-walled room of eight mosquito-net draped single beds and two bathrooms, and it did, occasionally, have the feel of a sleep-over. I have lived alone for the past seven years, and I do wonder how that has warped me — it was nice to have company for a week.

There were a few small adventures — kayaking with Jade to a nearby beach to go snorkeling; rock-hopping on the beach, which always makes me feel alive; and surfing at the local point break, resulting in few nice rides (and cut up feet). And there was some fun bird-watching on the beach with Clare, where we saw Snowy Egrets, Whimbrels, lots of diving Brown Pelicans, Black-Necked Stilts, perhaps a Willet, a Golden-Fronted Woodpecker, a Bananaquit, and a large raptor that was not a Crested Caracara (much to my disappointment) but was probably a juvenile Common Blackhawk. But there were also just a lot of leisurely meals (the food was very fresh and tasty) and reading and talking on the beach.

In my every day life, opportunities to connect with new people are few, so that little thrill of meeting someone you click with is a rarity. For me, this was a week suffused with that thrill, and that was both incredibly pleasant and morale boosting.


Wednesday, March 6th, 2013



Underwater wombat

Tuesday, December 11th, 2012

Occasionally, this time of year, a high-pressure system stalls and the  tradewinds hold their breath.  By Thursday, when deadlines were passed, the mares’ tail cirrus clouds that I learned about in ninth grade earth science class hinted that the system would be moving soon.   But the weather held as we headed out of the Bay. Not much wind, but there are still rollers, so Jason drove the Whaler gently, like the considerate captain he is, and we made it to the offshore rocks. Our little crew of five divers (four female doctoral students and me — yes, marine biology will soon lose its prestige with its over-representation of women in the junior ranks, not to mention all the giggling) out for a ‘proficiency’ dive.

On our second dive, we entered a large cavern. The entrance to the cavern was in shadow, and it got darker as we went further back. Colors turned to gray-scale. Waves, sometimes gently, sometimes roughly, rocking you in the water. One got a little woozy from the motion and lack of contrast.

After we surfaced, the woozy one barfed and looked miserable. (Quid pro quo from a dive we did last summer where I was the one barfing). I surprised myself a little when the old dive instructor kicked in, and I told her to relax and briskly towed her back to the boat. She would have been fine, of course, but nausea can make fools of us all. I’ve been feeling weak and old, so it was nice to be superwoman again, if trivially and briefly.


Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

July 24, 2012

Morning on the isthmus between Mid Moll and South Moll Islands. There is good beachcombing here and relatives of my dissertation crabs.

After he made his suggestion, a butterfly caught the light, fish erupted from the water, and two dolphins surfaced nearshore.

I thought it was a good idea, too.

Feedin’ Leeches

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

July 15, 2012
Pete told us that, despite what we may have read, there was nothing in the rainforest that could hurt us. There were wait-a-while vines with curved hooks that would snag you if you weren’t careful– but these are easy to see if you are paying attention. And it’s ok to grab onto trees and vines to steady yourself over a muddy spot or stream crossing, but don’t grab the lawyer cane with its dense possum-deterring spines that protect its growing tips. He also gave us step by step instructions for testing the edibility of forest fruits (First, rub a little on your inner wrist and wait 20 mins. If no ill effect, then run some on the mucous membrane of your lip. Wait another 20 minutes. Still no problem? Chew a little and spit it out. Wait another 20 minutes. Don’t feel sick yet? Swallow a small piece. Wait three hours. Still ok? Good to go). And he told us that feeding leeches is good karma — the leech won’t need to feed again for a year!– so, if you get one, just wait until it drops off. Especially if it’s on your eyeball. In that case, definitely don’t pull it off because it can damage your cornea. We laughed and didn’t get any leeches on our walk with Pete. And Pete took us to a lovely swimming hole, turned our tongues blue chewing small (edible!) fruits from a tree, and showed us a creeping beach vine (a succulent Convolvulus) with sap that had a topical analgesic for H’s bug bites.

Sunday afternoon, after some beach combing, we decided to hike the lower part of the Manjal Jimalji rainforest trail. The trail took us through a sea of waist-high ferns, then along and across a stream, and steeply up into the vining, twining, epiphyte-rich forest. The trail turned left over a log, and got a bit muddled. As we looked for the right path, a man crashed down the trail right up to us, startling himself. He had an urgent look in his eyes: How far to the stream?  I gotta get these fuckin’ leeches off me. His legs were bloody. They had started early and reached the top, but there was no view with all the cloud cover.  You’ll see Christine behind me… And he crashed on down the trail. A few minutes later we did see Christine. You’re not going to the top now, are you? No, we explained, just hiking this lower bit. Good. And don’t worry – the leeches don’t start until higher. And she continued down the trail.

We continued up another steep section of trail and paused at the top. That’s when I found the leech firmly attached to my ankle. A moment of revulsion. But Pete said good luck for me, right? Oh! There’s another moving on my foot. Quick get it! Oh! there’s one burrowing through Henry’s sock! Then we see them:  leeches rearing their heads out of the leaf litter, waving around, and inch-worming towards our warm and carbon-dioxide emitting bodies.  Gah! Must keep moving! The light is getting low, so we head back down the trail, no stopping to chat or the leeches rear up and crawl our way.   Back at the stream, relief. We rinse our feet and inspect ourselves. My now-engorged ankle leech falls off.  H has the unpleasant revelation of a leech on his bits, luckily it has not yet attached and is easily removed. As I sit on a streamside rock putting my shoes back on– gah! — more leechy friends wave toward us from the streamside rocks. Get moving!

Back at the car, a thorough inspection reveals another leechy friend on the back of my knee. I cover it with a plastic cup while we drive to dinner in Port Douglas. Leechie falls off before dinner, and now I have Leechie in a small yogurt container.

I’m not sure what to do with Leechie. For now, our new pet is traveling with us.

In the Land of Wombats

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

July 2, 2012 (written by H because I was beside myself)

WOMBATS! Trundling in the wild! Munching on the grass! Rubbing against the trees! Shake-shake-shaking! Squee!!!

Short legged juggernauts of cuteness! Tiny little tail, huge burrows! Squarish poo… Everywhere!!!

A little smelly. Wombat hygiene is questionable. But so many redeeming characteristics! I followed one around through the grass and around trees and up the hill side. I didn’t pet him, but I think I could have — he walked very close by on his way to the hill. Eeeeeeeeeeee!!!


Manly: frogs at sunset

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

June 29, 2012

As usual, the sun was setting as we were out for a hike. A few boobies were hunting, dive bombing for dinner near the cliffs We continued, quickening our pace through the chapparal-like scrubland. Yellow flycatchers darted for bugs from their perches. A shallow pond had formed in a sandstone clearing to the left of the path. It’s dusk now, and as we walk into the clearing we are surrounded by a frog chorus. The chorus is stereophonic but recedes as you approach. The sound comes to you. No grasping. Indeed, for all for the choristers, we didn’t see a single one. Continuing our darkening walk on a boardwalk through close eucalypts and unfamiliar bird songs, we skirted Little Penguin beach and the old coal works and made our way back to the ferry.

Heading to Wombat Country

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

June 20, 2012 (backlog of posts from iPad app trouble)

In a week, this wombat heads to wombat country for some adventure and a conference. Right now, preparing for the conference is putting a damper on preparing for the adventure. A big, heavy, wet damper.

Nonetheless, I hope to post photos of real wombats here soon.

Busted Peacock

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

A little excitement in the yoga room today. My second-to-last pose in second is Mayurasana. I usually hop back to legs-straight and elbows in belly and then try (unsuccessfully) to straighten/strengthen my legs until my toes lift off the ground – today they felt pretty light.  I tried the pose a second time and entered with legs frog-like and off the ground.  Then I tried to extend them.  I think they were close to straight when….


right on my chinny chin chin on the wood floor in front of my mat.

Having done this once before, I expected a bruise. What I didn’t expect was blood.  Gah!  I think it was less  traumatic for me than for everyone else to have me bleeding all over — at least I couldn’t *see* my busted open chin. My teacher asked one of the other practitioners who is an MD to take a look, and she confirmed his initial judgement — I would need a few stitches.   So, with much kindness, they bandaged me up (it stopped bleeding pretty quickly), and I headed over to the ER.  Happily, 8:30 Easter Sunday morning is a slow time in the ER:  I got my four stitches, amused the ER staff with the story, and was home by 10:30.

I guess William Broad is right — yoga sent me to the ER!  Ha!  Although, right now, my tetanus-booster-shot arm is more sore than my chin.

I think I’ll let my chin heal before fanning my tail feathers again.  Might have to skip Kurmasana for a while, too…

Just a Sunday

Sunday, April 10th, 2011

Well, it’s been a while since I posted here, and my last post still makes me sad.

Just a Sunday today: practice, blueberry coffee cake, laundry, produce shopping in chinatown, a few errands, big salad at 4pm that I suppose will count for lunch and dinner (esp with the two helpings of coffee cake…).

I practiced this morning through dwi padi shirshasana, although on Friday, CL threatened that the yoganidrasana and titibasana would be forthcoming this week.  Just when I was getting the hang of things!  Some interesting goings-on in the body, though.  I’ve found the lift in kapo, so that I can get half-way up my feet without assistance now.  And finding that lift (from hollowing the belly, rotating the thighs inward — perhaps this is the elusive nutation of the sacrum?) also changes the preceding backbends.  In other backbend changes, CL went around a couple weeks ago tucking in chins in backbends: my! what a great idea!  With all these interesting changes, my practice is full of effort right now.  From danurasana through the LBHs, it’s focused and a bit fierce; I’ll need to find some softness in there if I’m going to make it through the titibasanas.  Kapo is getting less exhausting and scary, but bakasana B?  Still catching my breath after the two twists.

On Friday, I participated in a benefit event (A Prayer for Japan), which was my first experience with large numbers of sun salutations – an order of magnitude more than usual.  One of the neat things was that we were accompanied by Kenny Endo, an improvisational taiko drummer (and he and an amazing ukulele player, Jake Shimabukuro, performed a concert afterwards).  I have mixed feelings about events like this, but the experience of doing 108 sun salutations was very interesting.  I don’t think my spine has every felt so fluid.  I was surprised that I didn’t get tired.  I worried that my form would deteriorate and that I might tweak my shoulders, but that didn’t happen.  Perhaps to help prevent this, the style of sun salute was varied for each set of 27 as the count switched among 4 teachers from the sponsoring studios: only the first set by CL was the traditional ashtanga suryanamaskara A.  I don’t participate in the “yoga community” much, aside from chatting after class with a few shala-mates, so this was a nice experience in that way, too.  As for my mixed feelings about these kinds of events, I suppose there are many.  First, there is a monetary part:  this is the tiniest token, and I’m not even sure that these kinds of donations are appropriate for a first-world disaster.  Certainly, inter-governmental assistance providing helicopters, search and rescue teams, generators, etc is all totally appropriate and critical.  But $10-20k to a wealthy country?  This simply can’t go very far — $15k doesn’t buy in Japan what it does in Haiti.  But putting money aside, we are sending our prayers to Japan.  Thus, the 108 sun salutations. And here’s where my skepticism kicks in: I enjoyed doing the 108 sun salutations and I did them with a sincere heart, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t do a thing for folks in Japan.  This leads me to the conclusion that this event really isn’t for the Japanese tsunami victims, it’s for us, the participants.  It’s to assuage our sense of powerlessness, to reinforce our own community, and to do something fun in the name of meaningfulness.  And it was fun: the performances were great, the donated food was great, the community showing was great.  But there is also something a bit voyeuristic about it.  I certainly acknowledge the special relationship between Hawaii and Japan, but this is a tragedy thousands of miles away and, somehow, we want to participate in it.  This strikes me as both compassionate and voyeuristic.

Well, there are many more things to say — H was here for the month of March, and we had several adventures!  A ride up and down Haleakala, a hike over the Ko’olau range, and backpacking on Mauna Loa.  All great!  For now, though, I’ll just post a few photos.