Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Southern Hospitality - liquified.

Wednesday,  June 24

An interesting week.  Have been practicing a lot of yoga.  But then, when you're living in a yoga studio, and there's 44 classes a week to choose from, you are pretty much guaranteed to practice a lot of yoga.  Between that and the intense humidity outside, I got myself pretty dehydrated, and so a few days ago decided the best solution was a hearty piece of beef.  I love beef.  I know a lot of yogis are vegetarians, and I totally respect that, but my body needs cow flesh every now and then.  That sounds gross, but call it what it is, and then there are no deceptions.  
Friends at the front desk (and I have to say, EVERY person here at BY Houston has become a friend - they are wonderful) recommended the Houston's restaurant right down the street.  Have never been before, even though I can picture the Houston's in San Francisco on the Embarcadero.  As a sola diner, I decided on the bar so as not to take up a full table or booth at the busy restaurant.  Brought a book to keep me occupied while I waited for my prime rib (that wasn't cheap by the way), but opted for the more hip and functional iPhone.  Sent a few messages, checked facebook, looked for movies in the area.  Then my meal arrived.  I put the machine down and gazed at a beautiful piece of meat and some lovely cous cous.  Immediately before I could even pick up my utensils, the drunken fool on the nearby stool started to comment on my meal.  "that cow's gonna kick you, it's so rare" was one of the milder statements.  I tried to be nice, but after a while it was getting ridiculous - when he sloppily told me he needed some private stretching lessons, I quickly finished my meal and left.  Grrrrr.  

That scenario has been bothering me for several days, I'm not quite sure why.  Perhaps because it was a blatant reminder that I dine alone (and really do prefer intelligent companionship), perhaps because I saved up to have a great meal and by not telling the guy to bug off, it was ruined, perhaps because the contrast of this drunken fool to the wonderful people I've experienced lately was so great.  In any event, I will take from it the lesson to tell the universe what I will and what I will not allow into my life.  And what I deserve is certainly a great deal better than that experience.  

Have visited some really great places in Houston.  Yesterday I visited the museums and got to see a terrific presentation on diamonds - although they showed some really stunning jewelry, 
I was most interested in the science of the rock - and how the electrons line up in a way that makes them special.  Also got to see the terra-cotta warriors from China.  Wow - they were really
 amazing - and to think they were created more than 2,000 years ago.  

Also took a stroll around Rice University.  My friend Keith (an alum) said his statue was on campus, but I found only one, and it was definitely not him.  Beautiful old buildings and stately trees lined the roads, and really YOUNG students!  How does that happen?  They seem to get younger every year.

Last night Liana and I went to see "The Hangover."  We laughed nonstop for nearly 2 hours and man, I needed it.  Yes, it's raunchy, but it is really funny.  There's one part where someone calls someone else and "asshole" with a very strong accent.  Reminded me of another situation years ago.  I hope someone else remembers too.

This afternoon Liana and I are driving up to The Woodlands to visit the Bikram studio there.  Karen Waxler from my training will be teaching the 6:30 class, and I understand it's an amazing studio.  Looking forward to seeing both.  

Okay, time to go.  

Sending love to all.  

UPDATE:  Friday, June 26

Got to drive up to The Woodlands and see the studio up there.  Wow -- it is VERY fancy, maybe a little more fancy than you need in a Bikram yoga studio, and Karen did a great job.  Excellent dialogue.  She inspired me to get even more and more and more down verbatim.  It was a great trip and Liana was fun to travel with.  

Attention All Certified Bikram Instructors

Diane Ducharme Posture Clinic
Saturday,  August 15  Teacher Only Seminar!!
10am CLASS    NOON to 3ish SEMINAR
 hosted by Bikram Yoga Auburn MA
On Saturday 8/15 Diane Ducharme is giving a seminar for all Bikram Yoga Teachers.

Topics discussed will include the Pregnancy Series and HOW to teach it.  Also, how to best help students (the right way!) that have physical limitations.

What a great opportunity for teachers, new and experienced,
to get together, share ideas and make sure our students get
the best, most up to date information available.

Teachers are invited to take the 10am class (Diane is teaching) and the clinic will begin at noon.  


We ask that you bring a food or drink instead for a pot luck after the clinic.

Please RSVP to:  Linda Hewins at
as soon as possible.  We need a head count and and inventory of the munchies.

Thanks so much and hope to see you all soon.!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Deep in the Heart of Texas!

June 19, 2009

I woke up this morning with a wicked headache. Felt like a hangover, but I had one beer with dinner two nights ago. I know yoga makes you pure, but believe me, there’s no way I’m that pure. Thought I had a head cold, but Liana nailed it – I am dehydrated. Had a big glass of orange juice and eggs for breakfast, but I need to up the fluids even more. To put it bluntly – it’s fuckin’ hot and humid here in Houston.

Arrived at Joani and Mike’s South Blvd. studio a week ago. 
This place is amazing. They offer 44 classes a week at this studio and 34 at their Fountain View studio 
– it’s like a yoga factory here! And every class – even the 8:15 classes - are packed – the 4:30 classes have with more than 70 people! They do not offer an introductory offer and they don’t need it. They are compassionate and encouraging, strong and supportive, and they have fun here. It’s a really nice studio. 

Before and after each class, the instructor takes time to greet each student and answer any questions, provide feedback if needed and just encourage. They have a staff to work the desk, which is really smart, and the instructor’s first priority is the student, then they help out at the desk.

They’ve allowed me to teach a few classes at the Fountain View studio, and I’ve really enjoyed it. Haven’t taught much at all lately (only once in the last month) so it’s been an interesting experience. They are very dialogue driven here, and in prep for going to visit Diane Ducharme, I’m re-learning the entire dialogue again anyway, so that’s not too much of a problem – it’s coming out fairly well. Except for last night’s “come to the top of your towel for camel toes.” I laughed and then everyone else laughed and then we all laughed so hard we barely made it through the first set and then we just kept going. It was a fun class and I was happy that everyone said they enjoyed it at the end.

Joani has a series of articles in which she talks about how the hatha (physical) yoga offers the opportunity to also practice Raja yoga. Raja yoga is “best understood as the science of mental discipline and it is another aspect of Bikram yoga.” She goes on in the article about how moving together, holding still between postures, avoiding the wiping, etc helps to build mental discipline and allows us to control our “screw loose brains” as Bikram says instead of letting it control us. Last night I was given the opportunity to pick up another class, and it went well also (avoided the camel slip up), but I noticed that I was starting to get a little sloppy with the dialogue. I started to interject some of my own words and got a few things out of order. And it occurred to me that knowing the dialogue and having the DISCIPLINE to use it just as it is, is a form of Raja yoga. It us having control over the mind and the ego to use the formula just as it’s prescribed. That little insight is going to help me to be better at dialogue as I go forward.

I like Houston. It’s a really big city and I haven’t seen much of it, but this particular neighborhood, located near Rice University, is beautiful. The homes are so diverse! There are little cape cods, adobe houses, big modern glass and metal boxes and very proper brick homes. And that’s just in the first few blocks. A little farther down the road and there are beautiful estates! Stunning!!! I’ll get photos of those later – it’s too friggin hot and muggy to walk that far except for early in the morning.

Liana, who's from Minneapolis but is now based here, but living in one of the studio's guest bedrooms until she can afford a car and then an apartment, and I went to Galveston a few days ago. Strange place that by no means has recovered from Ike last year. We drove by a house on stilts near the ocean with the back wall that was gone.  Inside you could see the bed, TV and all the other accessories that you’d find in a bedroom (well, not all) but there was no wall. It was so strange. We walked along the water for a while and while Higbee played in the water, chased birds, and generally had a great time, we picked up pieces of glass. We avoided the biohazards though. There were a few of those. The town felt sort of dead, but even in the places that seemed fairly unscathed, we couldn’t figure out why. Then we realized – all the beautiful oak trees were leafless! We found out later that the tidal surge brought in so much salt water, it killed off most of the live oak trees in the city. Dead live oaks. The entire city had a vibe of deadness and it was because of the trees. It was such a eerie feeling. Didn’t like it. But we did go on a tour of a beautiful mansion and that was interesting and fun, and then headed back home.

When I got here, I was planning to stay, as usual, in an RV park, but Joani and Mike offered to let me set up camp in the back of their studio on South. When Mike met Higbee, though, he told me to come inside and take one of the two guest bedrooms they have here. He would not let his own dogs outside, Higbee should come in - and me too.  So we are living indoors in air conditioning, and I am very grateful. We would both be suffering quite a bit out there.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

San Antonio Doesn't Disappoint

Seriously, I really like it here. The KOA campground is just the start of this very nice place. Higbee and I strolled along the entire Riverwalk, saw the Alamo (that’s an interesting story - I have a companion dog and apparently I look like I NEED a companion dog) and we visited the San Antonio Museum of Art (which is inside the old defunct Lone Star Brewery – how cool is that) and the Witte museum park. The architecture here is much different than I expected – I thought it would be all adobe structures, and there is some of that, but there’s also a lot of craftsman homes, brick and other architectural styles. And the price per square foot is quite a bit less than $200 for homes in the most tony part of town.  Compared to California, that's really a bargain.  I gotta say it again, I really like it here!

Lisa and Steve, who own the two San Antonio Bikram Studios, are absolutely fabulous. They have terrific, positive energy, two really beautiful studios, a fabulous staff (including 3 people from our training – shout out to Casey, Carlos and Jill), and a very loyal following. I’ve practiced with people suffering from fibromyalgia, amputees, and spasms and they are all really great yogis. Lisa gave me some guidance on my practice yesterday, and this afternoon in Jill’s class (which was great BTW) I implemented her recommendations, and got good results! 
I met this morning with Lisa and Steve, and they answered a ton of questions about how they operate the studio, about the dynamics of having two studios, about partnerships, and so many other questions. They spent more than 90 minutes with me, and I consider it a GREAT gift. I will be a better teacher and a better studio owner as a result of this stop.   

Oh, my thesis (and yes, I’ve made more progress while here) is on the relationship between communication and Bass and Avolio’s full range leadership theory. I argue that although the theory describes the behaviors that lead to one of three leadership styles, it is incomplete because it doesn’t describe the communication skills that are necessary in order to demonstrate those behaviors. I will include a survey, and I’ll ask anyone who reads this (and has or has had a boss) to help out and compete the survey. 

Tomorrow, it’s on to Houston. 

Friday, June 5, 2009

San Ahhhhntonio

If San Antonio is anything like this KOA campground, then this is certainly a place I could live.  It's green here, lush, lots of beautiful trees, lively fauna including small diapered children who have no fear of Higbee! 

So I left Bisbee two days ago and drove up state highway 80.   At one point, I noticed I had no signal on the phone, but I also noticed the clocks were wonky.  Then I looked around and noticed there was not one living thing (besides Higbee) in the area.  Nothing, no one.  I pulled the car over, went to the bathroom on the side of the road (which historically ALWAYS draws a person or two no matter where I am - even in the middle of the woods) and then walked around and nothing, nada soul.  Here are the photos I took looking north and south from the middle of the highway.  

The plan was to spend the night in Las Cruces NM, but I wasn't tired, so I decided to keep driving to take some miles off of the next day's drive.  Could see the lights of Mexico as I drove along Hwy 10, it was a bit strange knowing an arbitrary line kept people in one place.  Went all the way to Van Horne, TX - drove through 3 time zones that day.  Found a reliable Motel 6 - Tom Bodett might sound hokey, but you can depend on a clean, inexpensive and dog-friendly place with Motel 6.  As a sola traveler, I do appreciate the reliability of the chain.  
Got into the room and for the first time in a week or so I was able to get a close look in a well-lit mirror -- OH MY GOD - what I thought was tan was actually a finely embedded layer of dirt, and my face was so dry, I had flakes of dry dead skin on my cheeks!!  A good scrub took care of the problem, and continued driving the next day helped to ensure no more super dryness.

Found Boracho station - I'm sure that place was named by someone's angry wife!  (Borracho = drunk in Spanish)  

While tooling along hwy 10 (which has a speed limit of 80 btw - never saw that before!), A trucker had pulled off the side of the road.  He came out of the cab, grabbed the handles and then missed the first step and lost his balance.  It was like a slow-motion movie.  He let go of the handles and peeled off the cab and fell right on his back in the middle of the highway.  Meanwhile I was barreling up on him (at 75 mph - I respect the law), and had to swerve to miss driving over his head.  I did crush his glasses - hope they weren't his only pair of seeing eye glasses - but in any event, I'm pretty sure he wasn't going to be driving very far - that fall looked like it HURT bad!!!  It took me a while to straighten out the swerving camper in the back.  I'm damn lucky I didn't crush that guy's skull, and not roll the friggin camper.  

From that point forward, a rather uneventful trip to San Antonio - and this beautiful place.  I paid for a week - figure that Lisa Ingle won't be available until after the weekend, and I can use the time in between to work on the thesis.  It's shady and not dusty here - very conducive to intellectual work......or maybe a walk with the dog.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Adios Arizona!!

Today’s it for Arizona. Yesterday, I went to Tombstone, and man I had been warned, but I was a little overwhelmed by the fact that you have to pay for EVERYTHING you do there! Well, that’s not entirely true – you can walk into the multiple shops and bars (which do have beautiful barfronts) for free. Paid to go to the bathroom, paid to see the OK corral, paid for a goofy diorama/movie voiced over by Vincent Price. The best part was that almost all the storekeepers put water out for the dogs. Very nice. All in all, it was just fine and I’m glad I went. But it doesn’t hold a candle to Old Sac.

Have spent the last two evenings talking with the very kind, interesting and humorous ladies at the dog park section of the RV park. They laugh so heartedly, it’s a real pleasure to spend time with them. Also learned a lot about the bountiful fauna in the area – the hummingbirds, havalenas, bunnies, nighthawks, cranes, bats and a bunch of other birds whose name I can’t remember. This area is a stop over in the great north/south migration route and at certain times of the year, there are a gazillion birds around! There’s a lot right now, but I think these are the year-rounders. 
Not so psyched about the work to break down the camper, but it shouldn’t take long. Looking forward to getting out of this dust. Both Higbee and I are going to get cleaned up before we hit the road. Then it’s on to Las Cruces.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bisbee, Arizona

Left Phoenix and went south past Tucson (shout out to Mary Bird and awesome memories of Tucson) and on to Bisbee.  It's a pretty dry road - saw some intense dust funnels and a mountain that looked like Mordor.  
Arrived at the Double Adobe around 6:30, and it was after dark by the time I was set up.  Was starving though, so went into town and enjoyed a steak at the Copper Queen hotel.  Not so keen on eating alone in a nice restaurant, but I was willing to do it to get some protein.  And I got a nice glass of wine to go with it, so that wasn't so bad.  

Yesterday, I woke up and looked out the window of the popup only to find a few animals looking back!  At first I thought they were deer, but once my sleepy eyes cleared, I realized that on the other side of the fence there were goats!!  They've been pretty friendly and aren't afraid of Higbee at all.  I've been feeding them carrots and salad, and they eagerly take it, but they also butt their buddies pretty hard, so I won't be visiting them on the other side of the fence.  

Cleaned up and drove about an hour away to visit the Kartchner Caverns.  The caverns were discovered in the mid '70s, but were kept a secret until the state agreed to make it a park and preserve it as a living cave.  It opened up to the public about 20 years later.  Wow - breathtaking place - I've been to the Colossal cave (another shout out to Mary Bird) and to the caves in Gibraltar (shout out to Nick), and both were amazing, but these caves were still growing and as a result, were truly spectacular.  I'm really impressed with the way the place has been designed to stay alive and also to allow visitors to see this underground wonder.  I was told that the shape of the hills and the ocotillo plants are hints that there are caves below, and since this area was mined quite extensively, there are many other caverns in the area that have unfortunately been mined and filled in with the leftover diggings from other mines.   Shame.  

On the drive, I saw at least 20 law enforcement vehicles or roadblocks-- between border patrol, highway patrol, sheriffs and other lawmen, I don't think  you could illegally fart around here - but I guess that's not entirely true - when I was walking Higbee off leash outside the campsite yesterday, I realized that she might come across a rattler or other nasty bitey thing, so I leashed her up and brought her back.  But there are mammals out there too -  a few weeks ago, someone's dog treed an immigrant!  I guess he got to go back.  Can't imagine how anyone gets past all these guys -- the Mexicans (and central and south Americans) must be pretty smart and pretty sneaky -- and probably pretty desperate.  Don't want to think too hard about that one.  

At 5300 feet altitude, the weather up here has been pretty nice - breezy and temps around the '80s, but man - is it dry!!  I can literally feel (and unfortunately see) my skin shriveling up and even though I'm drinking plenty of water and coconut water (shout out Sunny) and even eating fish oil tablets, I'm absolutely dried out.   Couldn't live here.  Nope.  

Today, after a bit of a rough morning, Higbee and I went into Bisbee and explored town.  It's a cute place, reminds me a lot of the gold country towns along hwy 49 in California - Same era construction in the side of hills, same type of saloons, same kind of shops, only the gold country towns are, in my opinion, a lot prettier - I just prefer oaks to cacti.   Bisbee has an interesting community to it.  There are old long haired guys who look like they just stepped into this century from the 1850's, and there are Grateful Dead followers, wealthy retirees, new age crystal users, and really poor people.  It's also down season, so this may not be representative of the winter population.  Seems to me though, that the town is drying up too - lots of the shops are closing.  

I have found, though, that the people here in both the RV camp and in town, are very very kind.  I've talked to a lot of folks and here in the campsite, nearly all of the residents have come by to say hi and comment on how beautiful Higbee is.  She needs a bath.  I need a bath - in warm oil.  I feel very welcome here, but I'll be glad to move on in a day or so.

Tomorrow is Tombstone and then it's onward to New Mexico.