…a falcon, or a storm, or a great song


I Live My Life

by Rainer Maria Rilke

I live my life in growing orbits,
Which move out over the things of the world.
Perhaps, I can never achieve the last,
But that will be my attempt.


I am circling around God, around the ancient tower,
And I have been circling for a thousand years,
And I still don’t know if I am a falcon, or a storm,
Or a great song.

translated by Robert Bly


Wine Tea Chocolate + Family and Friends = A Very Good Thing

I just returned from an amazing evening at the lovely Wine Tea Chocolate cafe in Fremont. My friend, I will call her Mimi, organized a get-together there so that her friends could meet her identical twin sister who is visiting. Her twin sister’s 11-year old son and 15-year old daughter, both charming people, were also at the gathering.

This may seem like it was an ordinary event. But, no. It was not ordinary.

About forty years ago, Mimi’s biological mother, who was struggling through difficult times in an East Asian country roiling with political and economic turmoil, reluctantly, with a very heavy heart, gave her to an orphanage when she was just a few months old.  An American couple living in California soon adopted Mimi.

Mimi grew up with her adoptive parents and their other children in a loving household. She was aware that she was adopted, but did not feel compelled to find out about her origins.

Today Mimi is well educated and has a successful business in Seattle. Her nature is open, honest, loving, compassionate, smart, humble, and visionary. She defines the term “drop-dead gorgeous.” I would say she is doing an exceptional job at living life.

Though Mimi had not considered looking for her biological family, they thought about looking for her and took action.  About a year ago, she received a letter from them–they had traced her through the agency that handled the adoption. That contact was astounding for many reasons—one of which was that Mimi learned that she was born with an identical twin!

The details of this extraordinary story are for Mimi and her sister and other family members to tell.  I will say that after corresponding for a few months, Mimi traveled across the oceans to meet her biological family, including her mother, her identical twin, and siblings.  Her father unfortunately had passed away in the recent past.

Her biological mother had remained heartbroken over the decades about the circumstance and want that compelled her to give up Mimi so long ago. She had worried through the years, as only a mother can worry: Is my baby safe? Did a loving family adopt her? Where is she now? Is she happy, healthy, alive?

Upon meeting her mother, Mimi assured her that she had been loved and cared for as a family member by people who raised her as their own. She told her mother that she had only great compassion for her, knowing how difficult the times were and how wrenching the decision to give her up had been.  She expressed love and gratitude to her for bringing her into the world and for doing the best she could in dire times.

This chain of events led to Mimi’s identical twin traveling to California and Seattle with her family to learn about Mimi’s life firsthand. Mimi invited friends to gather at the coffee shop to meet her sister and her children. (Her twin’s husband had to return to work, so was not present at the event.)

When I met her, Mimi’s sister’s kindness, sincerity, and caring easily overrode the language barrier.  Not only did she look pretty much exactly like Mimi, she emanated a familiar feeling of fundamental goodness.

I took photos at the event.  The camera caught beautiful smiles and twinkling eyes, some with tears. Everyone looks very, very good.

As I write this post, I realize that this is the second truly meaningful and memorable adoption-related event that I have attended in the past few weeks. How fortunateI I am to experience “family” in such expansive, celebratory ways

How apt that we gathered at a place called Wine Tea Chocolate–add friends and family to the mix and you have something truly extraordinary.

The Peace of Wild Things

Photo: http://downloads.xdesktopwallpapers.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Wood-Duck-Drake-in-Marsh.jpg
The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

Prepping for the TPLO

TPLO instruction sheet provided by the vet.

The vet provided informative background information.

So, back to the subject of my dog Luna and her TPLO (Tibial Plateau Leveling Osteotomy) surgery performed on July 26, 2012. I hoped the procedure would return function to her right rear leg, which had a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament.  Luna had become a three-legged dog, holding her injured leg in the air as she hobbled about.  Hopefully the surgery would render her a four-legged once again.

Deciding to do the surgery was a step-by-step process of my finding answers to basic questions such as, “Can I afford this? (The estimated cost for the procedure: $3700 to $4100. Follow-up x-rays: $275 to $325. Perhaps rehabilitation fees, too.) How will I pay? Will this surgery truly help my 10 year-old doggie? How much will she suffer afterward? Do I have the ‘bandwidth’ to nurture her during her recovery immediately after the surgery and for the next six to eight weeks of healing? Can I find a top-notch, experienced surgeon and first-rate surgical facility?” And, the “the clincher”: “What does Luna want to do?”

I spent a few weeks working through these questions. I dragged my feet a bit, hoping against all the odds that Luna’s leg would heal on its own. It did not.

Screen Shot 2013-01-04 at 12.34.10 AM

Menu from the vet’s excellent website.

I set up an appointment for a surgical consultation, which included the surgeon reviewing Luna’s x-rays on a light box, observing her walk, and covering all of the details related to the surgery, including preparing my house for her recovery,  “prep-ing” her for the surgery, picking her up after the surgery, and then managing her recovery.  He said that Luna was an excellent candidate for a TPLO and that it could improve her quality of life. (The links are to the vet’s website, which I studied carefully.)


Luna tries out a rug.

He also mentioned that she needed to lose weight. He was correct, of course. But I had no idea at the time exactly how serious her weight problem was and just how it would impact her recovery.

As suggested, I bought area rugs and laid them on the kitchen and dining room floors, the rooms that she would be confined to for weeks during recovery.  The rugs would prevent her from slipping on bare floors. I bought “baby gates” at GoodWill to limit her travels about the house. I arranged to take a few days off work so that I could be with her during the days immediately after the surgery.


Luna seemed “tuned in” and aware that something big was going to happen.

And, my final step in the process was to search the web for and to check out books from the library about communicating with animals.  I talked out loud with Luna and also tried my version of telepathy with her.  I’m not sure how successful I was… All I can say is that despite her painful leg and her limited mobility, Luna seemed energetic, alert, engaged, and connected with me. She seemed “up for it.”

So, no food after midnight the night before the surgery. Allow her to pee and poop in the morning. Deliver her to the clinic between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. And then start envisioning a smooth procedure and a good outcome. (The last being my idea, not the vet’s suggestion.)

Thus began what would become a completely absorbing experience.