SSMS: November 2009



Daylight savings goes away today. It is sunny after a morning of clouds scuttling by. A window is open and I hear some piano music Dave has on the stereo in the shop – distant sound.

I begin and I don’t know that I have begun – nothing planned. I walk to the window then I back up to where I “began” and my arms reach to the side, flicking something away. I repeat the pathway and am curious as to how to keep lively something I had already done. Many gestures follow that I don’t remember, just the diagonal paths that seem to keep re-emerging. I go to the floor in the sun panel where I wait, then brush my arms, roll a bit, spiral around, my forearms on the floor supporting my head, shoulders and upper torso. I rest and am done.

My second piece starts off. I step into the sun panel and wait. I notice a dialogue in my head. It is a narration of what is happening: I am watching, listening, sensing; watching the birds at the feeders; watching the stream in the woods, revealed for the first time since the leaves opened in the spring; watching the beech leaves, crinkled, curled, copper shivering in the breeze; watching these two marvelous bugs crawling up the window; hearing the cluster flies buzzing; the breeze; the music from the shop; sensing my weight on the soles of my feet, the holding in my shins.
I step forward, leading with my left. I wait. I narrate. I step forward again and notice that my inclination is to lead with the left. I turn my head, a pathway of head turning. My left hand raises and lowers. I rise into releve and wait. My arms come up to join, out to the side, palms up to the sky, elbows relaxed. I wait. I am done, and so grateful for these explorations with you.


Visiting with friends in Vermont.


I am using a C.D. I haven’t used before entitled The Spirit of ALASKA. I don’t even know where it came from and the music is rather bland. The titles are better and with these pictures in my mind I happily move my body, not effortlessly but pleasantly enough. I did not take notes so can’t remember much other than the above.




Sunny, 50+ degrees, cluster flies out in force. These past few weeks there has been a hatch of pale moths. We see them mostly in the late afternoon/dusk.

As I lie in the panel of sun, waiting for inspiration, feet facing west, one moth flutters by. It is a companion for my dance that begins with a roll to my tummy and forearms where I wait, inhabiting the 7 month old body. Up go my hips and I am on my feet, with angular, east Indian feet and hand gestures – where do they come from?? My pants are swinging around my legs. Helen Mirra and her contemplative, backyard, toolbox music accompanies my explorations that are long, strung together sentences with no period. At one point, she has a beat that is rather undulating and encourages me to make larger, more expansive and traveling phrases. I smile and follow the desire, but not for long as my hip complains. It cannot keep up with the desire.


Ah, back to movement practice. I wake at 4:30 am, gradually getting used to west coast time. I notice no rain and entertain going outside.  I wait until the light grows and head outdoors. I need to move at a faster pace as it is colder than I had imagined.

The boats in Crescent Harbor are quiet and resting after a week of high winds and stormy seas. I don’t see much movement in the water…whales are heading south to Hawaii and Mexico. A few hang around all year but the majority leave. I stop to do a dance of gratitude to the whales as they leave us, and to the eagles even though they left some time ago. The ravens are near, looking for food scraps.

I walk over the bridge, lengthening my stride. My toes are cold. I contemplate going home, but decide to continue. A seaplane takes off. Such noise and water disturbance!
Sitka is an important sanctuary and learning ground for me right now. I take in all that I can as I practice this mindful walking, in the moment, with the movement of my pelvis, arms, legs, eyes, head…


This weekend has been the end of the annual Balloon Festival, the morning skies filled with them and in the evening they are tethered along Main street. What seems like the whole population of Page walks up and down the street with their children and dogs.

On Sunday, I look out the window and there is one of the beauties hovering over my little house!  My first dance is inspired by the memory of the balloon trip I took two years ago.

After that, I start improvising some little phrases to be used as a welcoming dance for my 95th birthday. Next week, I will be in Salt Lake City so will probably miss SSMS but will be thinking of you.




It is foggy, warm, damp, having rained all day and into the night yesterday.  We had a crisis with Phoebe the dog yesterday which brought me right to the edge of looking at death, chanting “Phoebe will die, I will die, Oscar will die, Dave will die, Sammy will die”, trying to find some level of comfort in that absolute fact.

I light the candelabra, bringing you two into the room with me and put on Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians. Oh how I love this music, how it seeps into my bones and muscles and organs quickly, immediately. Little twitches come and go. I advance into the room with eyes open, little jiggling steps, pulsing as arms do the flourishes. At first, my pathways are in lines and angles while the gestures are more circular. I close my eyes. I reach further inside and embrace this music and this body. At one point, I am moving backwards, reaching with my leg, balancing for a bit on the standing one. Reminds me of something. Then I allow the arms to get bigger and more encompassing, pulling into me all the feelings that I can. Eyes closed. My heart gets so full. I am so moved by this music.  I dance for 35 minutes, quite happily.


It is a glorious snowy morning. I love it.

I decided to dance rowdily to David Byrne music, then opera, amazing and unfamiliar. Arms circling wildly, lower half of body doing quick little steps…then head tosses. Weight transfers across the room.  I like opera…freeing somehow. I wonder what movement you two are doing…serious, funny, profound, dramatic? I pick up Taxi the cat and we glide across the room, in and out of any open space we can find. Just as I begin to judge myself and my frivolity, on comes David Byrne again, so energetic, humorous, serious, and entertaining. This is me today. May we always move with grace, humility and humor.


Health problems make Yvonne unable to continue. She has suffered another stroke and can no longer use her computer.




Sunny, 50 degrees outside.

I start lying in the sun panel, stretched out long, heels to the south. I wait. Thoughts come and go. My forearms rise up, circle around and back down again, slow motion propeller gesture. More thoughts come and go. I see tarin’s hands and I miss her. On the 5th will be her birthday. She would have been 69. More little gestures of arms rise and fall. I remain stretched out until my psoas starts to shriek. I fold into CRP and wait.

I am standing in the sun, eyes closed. My parallel arms swing back on a diagonal. The forward swing accompanies a parallel jump. This is a repeating motif throughout. Also my arms open wide with right hand cupped and left hand splayed and palm down. My knees bent and my upper torso swings pendulum-like, side to side. Eventually, the arms come together with right cupped under the left. This repeats 4 times in the phrase. About 2/3rds of the way through, my eyes open and notice the difference in intension and attention when the sight is added.


Computer problems. Lost documents.




The sun is melting the little bit of snow we got two nights ago.

I put on Lois Svard playing Robert Ashley’s Van Cao’s Meditation – a piano piece with limited notes and range with long pauses. It lasts 38 minutes. I am curious how long I can take getting across the room and how long my interest sustains, is committed. I begin with small steps and a gestural language with the arms. I allow myself a few large reaching steps but most of them take me backwards. There is a motif of brushing away something with my hand. I vacillate between eyes closed and eyes open, allowing my attention to play with both out and in.

I go down to the floor and rest for a while on my back and wait. After what feels like a long time, I roll towards the window seats, deliberately, until I am up against the wood. I push off to my fingertips, then to hands and knees. I get involved in my left hand and how it has to be on its knuckles because of bone spur on the scaffoid. I take the hand up with the other and look through the crook of the little finger and thumb, spread it out, put it back on the floor deliberately with fingers facing back. It is a strain that I move out of, up to my feet and finish with the same small walking and gestural arm/hand language as I began.


I woke up in the middle of Thanksgiving night with horrible stabbing pains in my upper digestive area…below the heart.  I have experienced them 4 times now since arriving here in Sitka. I thought it was gas and would just work through the pain. The pains were so strong this time I asked our doc and she said sounds like a gall bladder attack!  Until I can get a legit diagnosis, I will use diet to moderate and monitor. The aftermath of the pain has been tiredness and lethargy.

This morning I woke up at 3:30 and did a sitting practice, then pondered the incredible wind/rain storm we are having. Then at 5, I went back to bed and slept till 10:30. Here I am a little late.

I start with another sitting practice with the intention of going in to the body with curiosity about the dialogue it is having with me; how much more different then the past 2 weeks of dancing to rock and roll music. I am in CRP and explore my liver and gall bladder. I use my breath to massage it.

Next, my thoughts go to you, Hannah, standing in parallel in a ray of light.  I begin upper body dances with my arms and stretching sideways, upper back hanging, stretching the sides, back and front of my torso.  It feels so good to expand this territory of my body. The movement of the arms and torso initiate my legs moving around in the space. I am tossing the body around and being aware of the weight of the organs, allowing them to balance and align themselves.  My body memory takes over and I began my old modern warm up: roll down, plie, come up, plie, over and up, release, rebound.  Do this in 2nd to parallel to find myself back to the beginning position standing tall, rising the sternum and feeling connected to the earth on this Sitka day.