April 30, 2010

Airship Ventures -- Best Birthday Present Ever!

For E's 30th birthday, we went on a trip on our local Zeppelin.

It was easily an order of magnitude cooler than I expected (and he was thrilled).

The view of any part of the beautiful state of California from 1,000 - 2,000 ft. above is not to be discounted. There were several points during the trip where I was speechless with appreciation for just how gorgeous our state is.

It didn't hurt that we had the airship to ourselves:


(Apparently, these flights are usually booked full, but we lucked out and were treated like a private charter, with 2 pilots and a flight attendant).

Of course, I wouldn't stop working, even though it was E's birthday, so finally, he threatened to throw me out:


Once I understood the importance of the situation, we were able to calmly appreciate the beauty of highway 1:


The Pacific Ocean:


And the size of the ship against the backdrop of the military base where we landed:


I would do it again in a heartbeat.

There are 3 functional Zeppelins in the world. Our trip was piloted by the only female Zeppelin captain in the world, Captain Kate (with back-up from Captain Jim):



If you are looking for an awesome California experience, I cannot recommend them enough. Also, their sister-company in Germany is booked solid 6 months in advance. I suspect, based on the names they dropped about previous passengers that the Californian ship (EUREKA!) is not that far behind.

So, if this is the type of thing that is interesting to you. E and I recommend you go now. It was awesome.
Linguistic Milestone

Apparently, my Spanish is finally good enough that the staff at our local Mexican joint feel free to speak with me entirely in Spanish. It's been a long time coming.

Tonight, one of the servers greeted me with a pat on the shoulder:

Hola. Amiga. Estas muy bonita! Estas esperando bebe, non?

Culturally, this is not something this server would ever say to an English-only customer.

So, I was flattered.

But also, it would appear that I'm not the only one who has noticed the 5 extra pounds I'm carrying...

Good Times.

April 27, 2010


It turns out, I still work weekends.


Early mornings.

Who knew? I thought when I quit the law firm, by default, I'd bought myself a year or two of lull. You know, time to build up the practice.

I can't complain about being wrong. My practice is busier than I dreamed it would be, and so much earlier than I expected.

But, wow. Unbeknownst to me, I am learning that I secretly dreamed of and pre-enjoyed weekends and mornings and evenings and relaxation.

I'm only now realizing how strong those dreams were while I mourn their loss. This weekend, E and I took a 3 day weekend away. I worked Saturday AM but managed, through guilty herculean efforts, to avoid the computer the entire time until Monday evening. In exchange for that privilege, I had to send many emails from my phone apologizing, promising responses, and fretting about my failure to set an appropriate out-of-office message.

Today, I didn't fit in my run. I woke early, but instead of running, I worked. All day, I cranked away on legal stuff, with "breaks" for networking and meeting with the bookkeeper (Who laughed at my receipts from my first month vis-a-vis my initial estimate of my annual collections -- It would appear I was a bit too conservative...).

As E pointed out, I am personally experiencing the hyper-growth shock that many of my successful startups have experienced. I will need to hire soon. The whole experience is very educational. And I am thankful.

April 22, 2010

It Gets Harder

Yoga is unlike any *sport* I've ever done.

I've had a pseduo-regular yoga practice for about 10 years. And a pseudo-zen philsophical practice for a little less than 20 years.

In the last 3 years or so, I've tried to step up my commitment to yoga and combine it with my zen practice as well. Recently, as a result of starting my own law practice (I'm practicing quite a bit these days!) and managing my own schedule, I've been able to return to a regular studio-based yoga practice -- which is awesome.

The thing about Yoga that is completely different from any other regular physical activity in which I've engaged is that the longer I practice, the more difficult it becomes.

Not in a bad way.

Quite the opposite.

It's just that with every additional day of practice, I learn more things I can focus on, pay attention to, and isolate in each pose.

As a result, I now find even the most basic class to be very difficult.

When I started, I only sought out advanced classes because it was the only way I could exhaust myself into a state of relaxation. Now, I can take an hour long class for people who have never done yoga that allows for many rest breaks and never deviates from the basic fundamental poses and I'll still find it challenging and rewarding. In fact, sometimes I find myself dripping with sweat in these basic classes even more than in a more advance class, as a result of breathing deep yoga breaths, paying attention to where my mind is, where my eyes are focused, and what the various muscle groups are doing because they hold the poses for so long while allowing the new students to get used to them.

Today, I've found that no matter what type of class I take, if I go to the studio, by the finishing sequence I'm always exhausted and relaxed.

I find it very comforting to realize that this is a practice that I will be able to have for the rest of my life. The well-rounded combination of a mental, spiritual, and physical practice means that even when I am very old or sick I will be able to find some aspect of the practice to challenge me.

I am grateful.

April 19, 2010

Fruits to Come

Sunday, after a fairly hard-core 9 miles with E2, I came home to garden obsessively alongside E, who built yet another garden box for our yard.

After 8+ hours of labor, we're done (more or less) with the summer garden planting.

Pictures will show up on Tech Law Garden once they are available, but in the meantime, let's celebrate that there are very few things in the world more exhausting than manually turning, shoveling, moving, and amending soil.

In other news, I expect to sleep well this week, and, I think this year's garden may be the best one yet!

April 18, 2010

Big Monday

A law suit that was filed by a student group when I was a law student is making its way to the United States Supreme Court for oral arguments tomorrow.

The law -- she is slow, at times. As a student, I had thought this was a cut and dried issue. As a lawyer, several years later, I laugh at my confidence back then. I now know that this issue was a fight waiting to happen, and that anyone with the resources to fight it could have taken the opportunity (as the CLS did) to make it a long, difficult, resource-intensive argument, no matter what the outcome.

It's times like these that I wish I lived in Washington DC. I'd love to be in the courtroom tomorrow and hearing the arguments in person. Some day I'll cross that todo off the list...

April 14, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower with Bacon, Baby Carrots, Leeks, Mustard, and Bread Crumbs

This recipe is currently winning the 2010 unofficial home-based contest for unexpected awesome (and it puts some of the last of the Spring Harvest to use).


-1/4 lb bacon, chopped into 1 inch strips
-2 Leeks, chopped into 1 cm rounds
-1 head cauliflower, chopped into florets of 1 inch X 1 inch X 0.25 inch
-2 T fancy German non-sweet mustard (pick your favorite mustard from a talented friend, if you can)
-1/2 lb. miniature carrots from the garden
-2 C. bread crumbs
-fancy salt flakes (pick your poison)

-Pre-heat oven to 450F.

1. Chop leeks and cauliflower. Scatter throughout pan. Place dry in oven.

2. Sauteé bacon on medium. Cover to preserve liquid in addition to grease. Add chopped leeks after bacon has started to release grease. Add mustard, stir. Cover.

3. Once leeks are completely translucent, layer bacon, leeks, mustard, etc. over slightly browned cauliflower. Return, uncovered, to oven for 20 minutes.

4. Stir all layers to ensure even coating of bacon grease and any other spices that have been added to you taste. Layer baby carrots, salt flakes, bread crumbs, and a sprinkling of olive oil on top. Return to oven for 20 minutes.

5. Remove from oven and serve immediately. Add black pepper and salt flakes for texture to taste.

April 8, 2010

My Patron Saint: Santa Chiara di Asisi

When I lived in Italy, my language school took weekend cultural excursions every week. And, one weekend, we went to Assisi.

Ordinarily, I paid the fee and visited the relics wherever we went.

But in Assisi, I was overwhelmed by the number of Catholic nuns, many of whom hailed from very poor countries and had saved for years for the privilege of visiting Saint Claire. It just felt wrong for me to get in line with them and try to appreciate the holiness and wonder attributable to her relics when they considered their visit a pilgrimage and mine was a stroke of luck due to a bus that brought me there through no planning or forethought of my own.

Years later, I was sworn in as an attorney at the California Mission of Santa Clara. At the time, I was thankful, emotional, and asked for a blessing on my future career, but I paid no heed to the role of Santa Clara in that day, other than to note that it was the name of the location where the big emotional event occurred.

Today, I found myself back at the Church with time to spare before an event sponsored by the affiliated law school. Much to my surprise, I was compelled to go in, to breathe and cross myself with holy water, to kneel (with my laptop at my side) and say a prayer of thanks for the career blessings I am currently experiencing, and just generally, to say thanks and ask for blessings for life, and love, and the opportunity to grow in the face of everything I've been given, and all of the things that one feels thankful for when in a spontaneous spiritual state.

I left, emotionally buoyant -- as if my trip into the Church was something that was fundamentally correct -- pleased with myself that I had taken the time to do it (an amusing feeling for a self-proclaimed buddhist to feel while walking out of a Catholic Church after performing a Catholic ritual).

And then, on my way out, as I walked to my event, I saw the placard explaining that Mission Santa Clara was the first Californian Mission dedicated to a female saint. All of a sudden, the unexplained reverence and connection I felt in this place felt even more right. I am deeply Californian. My family worked this land for five generations to earn me the right to become a college educated female who didn't have to work the land. And yet, my hobby is the garden. I have found that I am inexorably connected to the land.

The Missions of California are such a part of the story of the California land that it makes sense that I, as a Californian, would feel connected to them. And, to feel a stronger connection to the first female-dedicated mission, well, duh, as a female, that makes sense. But, today, after reading the placard explaining that Mission Santa Clara was the first Mission dedicated to a woman, I finally remembered that I had seen first hand, in her burial grounds, the reverence that Santa Chiara can invoke. And, I recalled that I had so much respect and awe for the love that she invoked, that I abstained in favor of the pilgrims.

So, tonight, I am feeling an indescribable sense of awe for the circle of life and our experiences and how they can weave together to create a wholeness we could not have imagined. Through no planning of my own, I visited her burial grounds long before I knew her Mission would be a part of my career. Upon my return to the US, I opted to live down the street (the El Camino Real) from her Mission. At the beginning of my career, I unknowingly asked for blessings in my career and thanked the powers that be for my luck in a house of worship built in her name. And today, again, when I felt grateful, I walked into that same house of worship and performed ceremonies I haven't felt the need to perform since the last Catholic wedding I attended.

I guess she is my patron saint.

What a great thing to learn.

April 6, 2010

Losing Your Balance is Contagious

Last night, during our home Yoga practice, E and I both started wobbling in tree pose. Soon enough we were both wobbling more and more and finally, we both fell.

E commented:

Unbalance is contagious

And, in that wacky mind-state that yoga can sometimes produce, I thought

That is true.

Yoga teaches us to focus on our own breath, to maintain our inner calm, and to stay with the yin and yang of our own breath in the midst of the chaos that our mind thinks our body or the outside world is throwing at us.

But, if you are anything like me, you find that it is much easier to focus on your own breath when you are in a room full of other people practicing intently, focusing on their own breath as well, insulated from the madness outside the yoga sanctuary.

Several of my yoga instructors have talked about taking your yoga practice with you, outside the studio, into every day life. And no doubt, that is the ultimate goal -- to breathe and have perspective so you can be calm and peaceful while moving throughout the storm of everyday life.

But, I've also heard many instructors talk about the importance of regularly coming to a class. The importance of giving yourself a supportive community, an instructor, and a space where you feel immediately calm -- where you can focus and breathe and increase the strength of your practice.

E's comment made me realize that these two goals -- 1) to take your yoga practice with you into the chaos; and 2) to seek a supportive peaceful environment where you can deepen your practice -- are not at odds.

Just as unbalance in the yoga studio is contagious, so it is in real life. So yes we can seek to bring our balanced perspective and life with us wherever we go and with whomever we interact. But, it is important to recognize that while we are developing our sense of balance, we need to be mindful of our environment -- we will find it easier to be balanced in a supportive peaceful environment (with supportive, peaceful people). Similarly, we may need to limit our time in unsupportive, chaotic environments if we find that we are "catching" the unbalanced energy that often exists there.

Alright, that's enough new age hippy crap for now.

April 3, 2010

The Glory of the Unscheduled

This weekend, for the first time in about 6 months, after 5:30 PM on Friday, I had no obligations scheduled until Monday at 9:30 AM.

Sure, E2 and P may stop by on their way through town on Sunday and we may need to celebrate their engagement properly and ooh and ahh over the ring in person, but that's just a maybe and if they don't have time or we aren't here, no big deal.

In short, I can't believe how relaxed I feel. It is a glorious, wonderful feeling. And how have I used this time, you may ask?

Just perfectly, so far!

First, on Friday night, I spoke to R on the phone, uninterrupted for almost 2 hours.

Saturday morning, after waking to ensure brother was in good hands, I cleaned out my email box, cleaned the kitchen a wee bit and headed out for a solid 8.5+ mile run. It was slow, but steady, and not so slow as to be anything other than an obvious step on the return to my former (pre-sciatica) fitness level.

This afternoon? Impromptu lunch with friends followed by lots of todo list crossing off, gardening, and garden planning.

Tonight? Another impromptu meal with friends at a local izakaya (I love living in such an immigrant rich community).

And tomorrow? Perhaps some yoga with B, perhaps not. But definitely a medium/short run and catch up session with B before lunch. Brother, E and I had planned to head to the local farmer's market to shop and plan the week's menu and eat brunch, but given the predicted rain -- it'll likely be just me quickly raiding the farmer's market stalls and a mellow afternoon at home doing more work and personal chores.

Basically, I'm elated to be living such a normal (impossible to be late because there's nothing scheduled) life this weekend.

It has been entirely too long.