I took the plunge and reserved 9 days at a cottage I found on AirBnB a few blocks from the Delaware Bay beach in North Cape May. I wanted to go there alone and do a self-meditation retreat for a week. Michael would come down for a few days at the end. It sounded like it would work, but I spent most of December planning what food and cleaning supplies I would bring with me to make it feel safe in the midst of COVID. Finally, the day of departure arrived and I went to the market first thing and grabbed a weeks-worth of simple meals, loaded up the car, and drove the easy two and a quarter hour trip to Cape May. The host had told me that the house would be cleaned on Monday and then sit empty for three days before I arrived on Friday. That seemed pretty safe. Even so, I wiped down all door handles and light switches with Lysol and washed my hands before I unpacked and settled in. The cottage was adorable, with surf and sand decorations including crabs and octopi. The kitchen was perfectly functional and the sun coming in the windows filled my heart with warmth and joy. The neighborhood was very quiet and peaceful and the beach, really only two blocks away, was magnificent.
My 60th birthday trip to Greece was definitely not happening this summer. Thank goodness we hadn’t paid any money for it before the world shut down. Instead, we stayed home, safely enclosed by our fence, and had a lovely summer. Louie was the happiest dog in the world as he ran free in the back yard with his humans constantly home. The wildlife was plentiful as well, including turtles, a groundhog, and a hawk’s nest at the very top of one of the huge pine trees near the house. The three babies were awe inspiring to watch as they grew and explored our back yard all through June and July.
Emily did a two-week quarantine, got a negative COVID test, and came to stay with us for three weeks in June, and then again for seven weeks in August and September. She brought her two kitties, Buster and Moon, and we all laughed a lot watching Louie adjust to his new roommates. Emily and I did zoom yoga classes on the deck, went on long bike rides, and cooked amazing meals together.
Just as I was pulling out of my driveway for the five-hour trip to Barre, MA and ten days at Forest Refuge, the oil change light blinked on my dashboard. Oh, no… I remembered there was some warning light flashing as I drove to FR in January of 2015 just when my mom found out that she had leukemia and her doctor suggested hospice. That was certainly a strange time to be on retreat. This time I knew I could easily take care of the oil change when I came home, but I had a sinking feeling that the warning light did not bode well.
It was spring break at Princeton and I had arranged to spend 10 days at Forest Refuge in Barre. Michael was back to teaching and conducting in the second semester. He had also been in sinus rhythm for several weeks after his third cardioversion, and was significantly happier than he had been all fall. He is still not back to full energy or physical mobility, and he still enjoys his afternoon naps. This may well be the new normal for him at almost 70 years old. He assured me he would be able to handle things at home with Louie while I was gone. Continue reading →
Last September I had to cancel ten days at Forest Refuge so I could be with Michael as we waited for more test results. Luckily the MRI showed that a suspicious something was nothing, and I rebooked my retreat for spring break. Too bad that was exactly when Michael would receive his honorary membership at the Royal Conservatory of Music in London from their president, HRH the Prince of Wales. Continue reading →
I was so proud of Solène after she sang Barber’s “Knoxville Summer of 1915” with the Princeton University Orchestra on their March concerts. We had worked on it a lot last fall in preparation for the concerto competition. I loved teaching the piece to such a sensitive and talented singer, sharing all my favorite moments of interpretation and expression. It was actually good vocal practice for Solène as well, focusing on the simple, sweet, childlike quality of the music and text, learning not to overload her voice and do more with less. Continue reading →
So after a few weeks of good health for all, and the promise of a relaxing summer, it all started again. Michael had an appointment the first week of June with his breast surgeon for a 12-month check-up. The day before he went, he felt a teeny, tiny something in the area of his mastectomy. But there was no more breast tissue there. What could it be? Probably nothing, said Rachel, the breast specialist, but we’ll do a sonogram just to be sure. Humm, the sonogram looked a bit suspicious, so we should do a biopsy, just to rule out, you know, anything bad. Continue reading →
I just got back from the cardiologist and passed my echo and stress test with flying colors. So this tale has a happy ending – now for the story itself: I had signed up for the April monastic retreat at IMS, but was on a long waiting list after the lottery. I also signed up for the May retreat with Kamala Masters, Debra Ratner and Mark Nunberg and figured if I got into the earlier one I could transfer my registration. Continue reading →
It was shortly after the election last November when I was reading Buddha Dharma Magazine that I saw an add for a Meditation and Well Being Study at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. My initial intention was to do something positive that would be of help to others in the face of the devastation and helplessness everyone was feeling in reaction to the election. So I embarked on a very long process of application and vetting for the study. Continue reading →
It was spring break at Princeton and I arranged to spend 11 days at Forest Refuge. It had been a pretty mild winter so far and I had no weather trouble driving up to Barre where the ground was bare (no snow as in this picture). The temperature was moderate, with cold mornings, when I loved walking out on the beautiful deck after breakfast, and warmer afternoons for crunching through the dead leaves in the woods. Continue reading →