- Classical Acupuncture & Blazing Valley String Band

Other Writings

Here are some other, non-acupuncture-related items for your reading pleasure.

Two couples have asked me (!!) to write and perform their wedding ceremonies, I'm proud to say. The names have been changed to protect ....

Wedding Ceremony the First

Hello, family, and friends and welcome to Abby and Steve's wedding. We're going to start with a love poem.

My heart opens like a flower when it's with you.
In fact, every one of my molecules shouts "Liberte!"
at the renewed presence of yours
like delirious French villagers
anointing American helmets
with roses and champagne.

How do you do that?
I mean reach right through the sulfurous flames
to encircle me with the cooling light
of your liquid blue-green peace.

Love is such a risky thing.
It's bungee-jumping into the abyss of everything
and nothing.
Better to live in a world of known corners
under a beige sky
than to face that final moment of falling away,
I think.
At least it would be safer.

And yet ... I would miss the stars glinting like ice crystals
in the vaulted Taj Mahal
of our commingled synapses,
the rustle of leaves
in the failing light,
lush, cool, generous and unfailing,
the darkness that opens
when I hear you breathing near me
every night.

Love, ah love.
It's the space between us
and the space between every atom,
it's the ending and the beginning,
the serpent of life eating its tail,
the spiral of light that leads us inward, ever inward,
to every truth.

Spirituality is about interconnectedness. This is to say that we each create our own realities, but we don't do it alone. We have help, lots and lots of help. For the past eleven years, these two people - Abby and Steve - have been doing this consciously and in their own unique Abby-and-Steve way - creating a reality together. Because spirituality is about interconnectedness, this also means that every single moment is the intersection of many different energies. This moment right here, right now -- this moment is the intersection of many different things: The love of Steve for Abby; the love of Abby for Steve; the entity that is their relationship which they've nurtured and to which they've given themselves through the last eleven years; the love and affection that we have for them; the love and affection they have for us; the reality of who they are as people and their own unique resonance and stories; the reality of who we are as people and our own unique and individual resonances and stories; the beautiful home that they've created here and filled with their dreams and with all the minutiae of living; their amazing studio which they've created and which has taken on a life of its own as a vortex of creativity; the earth and the rock beneath our feet which at this very moment is supporting and nurturing us; the air in which we're bathed which is sustaining us and to which we're contributing with every single breath; the lives of all the other creatures who live here, who run and fly and burrow here - the owls and the mice, the birds and the earthworms, the trees and the grasses; and all of their movements and needs and perspectives, their ownunique resonances and stories. This is the moment when the home that is the relationship of these two people - for who they are to each other is a home - takes on a new dimension, this is the moment when Abby and Steve expand the reality of their relationship as they become part of the structure known as marriage.

Relationships are inherently spiritual because it's through them that we allow ourselves to acknowledge the reality of our own existence: That we're not alone and separate but part of a plurality, one voice in a vast choir of connection. I think that the two of you have shown through the past many years your willingness to do what it takes to feed the fires of love - to go beyond yourselves when that's what was needed, to think about what you needed individually when that's what was needed, and to allow yourselves the pleasure of each other -- which is always needed. My wish for you is that, as you go forward from this moment on, you will be nourished and sustained by the coziness of marriage and that your relationship will be deepened by it. For that's what this wedding is: a celebration of your connection to each other and a moment when you enter into a new kind of connection to everyone else.

Each year, like each person, has its own unique energetic resonance. In the language of Chinese medicine, this year resonates with the energy of the metal element. It's kind of wonderful to me that you've chosen to get married during this particular year, this year of richness and riches, this year of diamonds and emeralds and gold, of the solidity and reliability of rock, this year of the sky and clouds and air, this year of the harvest. It's wonderful to me because your marriage seems in some way to be a harvest, to be a gathering to yourselves of all the riches of the past eleven years together, years of happiness and struggle, years of being there for each other and with each other, years of delighting in each other's dreams and supporting each other in pursuing them. And my other wish is that, at those moments in the future - because there will be those moments - when things are tough, this moment in time, this beautiful wedding with all of us in attendance -- animal, vegetable, mineral and wave-form -- this event through which you celebrate a devotion to each other that you've reaffirmed every day for more than a decade, this act through which you plug into the matrix of humanity and society in a new and different way --- my wish is that, at those times of struggle, this moment and this day that's full to bursting with so much joy and life and good wishes will act as a happy, lightfilled message to your future selves.

One of the supreme expressions of the metal element is the diamond, the diamond whose brilliance comes from the way the light that enters it bounces off the walls of its tiny angled rooms. I think of this day as that diamond and all the love that is here today as the light which makes this gemstone so precious to us. This day is a precious day. Your relationship is a precious one. The music we're all making here right now - and all the fun we're going to have together very very soon - is precious.

Wedding Ceremony the Second

I'll start with a little poetry from e.e. cummings:

i thank You God for most this amazing day:
for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes.

P and N met 13 years ago. Bells rang and a light went on, but the timing wasn’t right. Not only that, but geography was against them, too. Last year, time and geography funneled them into each other’s arms. The bell once again sounded and the light went on. They decided that they wanted to marry and that they wanted to do it here, in this garden of roses on this summer’s morning with you, their loved ones, in atten- dance. So thank you all for coming and for adding your own unique presence to this wonderful event.

Each year, like each person, has its own personality, and this year is a year of creation and growth and luminous new beginnings. So in some ways, they couldn’t have picked a more appropriate year in which to wed, for marriage itself is both a new beginning and a creation. The new beginnings part needs no explana- tion. But what about the creativity? What does marriage have to do with creativity? Marriage is the creation of a container big enough and strong enough to hold everything that the relationship is while at the same time holding everything that each person is as an individual. But marriage is also a crucible: add P, add N, place in the fiery oven of love and you have something bigger and even more beautiful than the sum of its parts.
Read more ...


Within the last few years, I lost two friends: Stephen Stabler and Ladis Kapka. I was honored to be the one asked to deliver their eulogies


I first met Steve in 1978. But before I met him, I heard a little story about him from Sue about their first night together. It was 1968 and so Steve was 21. Before they went to sleep, Sue told me, Steve picked up the clock and set it. At first, this seemed more like a non-story than a story because, OK, this guy set the clock. That seems pretty ordinary. You look at your watch and then you set the clock. Or you call time (this was a long time ago) and then you set the clock accordingly.  Or you estimate the time and then you set it. But, no, Sue persisted, he just knew what time it was. He knew exactly what time it was. And then he set the clock.

OK, now. That is different. (read more)


The first time I met Ladis was in the early 1990s. We were both taking a class at the Temple of Living Prayer, pursuing a spiritual pathway of self-teaching and compassion. The name of the class, what we were learning and the reason that we’d split up into groups - all these things have dissolved and become part of the indistinguishable fabric of the past; the only thing that remains, the only thing that has withstood the test of time is the fact that Ladis laughed and that it made me feel good. That and the fact that what he was laughing at was my use of the word “snotty”. I was talking to the group he and I’d found ourselves in and in trying to make a point, I used the word in what I thought - and hoped! - was a clever and humorous way. Now the Temple of Living Prayer was many wonderful and sparkling things, but interpersonally - not so much. It wasn’t a place where social intercourse flowed freely and warmly, and so, even though it seems minute and insignificant, it must have actually been very important for me to have remembered this all these years later. Ladis saved me from embarrassment, from feeling alone, from falling flat on my metaphorical face with his beautiful, generous laugh. He laughed and it made me feel great - clever and witty and fabulous. Included. In Chinese medicine, joy and laughter are expressions of the Fire element and Fire is about relationships and connectedness. So, that day, Ladis gave me a little shower of Fire and all was right with the world. (read more)

In 2002, when the two matriarchs of both sides of my family were in the process of dying, I wrote the following poem which pretty much encapsulated my experience of death.
Death Walked In

Death walked into the house tonight, hitched up his trousers and sat down.
Everything was quiet for a time as we watched him
and he watched us.

He wore a top-hat, a gray one, and his morning-coat was gray, too.
I thought I saw a little bird on his shoulder. But then I wasn't sure.

Death yawned and leaned back in his chair; the minutes ticked by
as we waited politely for him to leave.
"I'm not going anywhere, you know,"
he said, reading our minds.
He crossed his gray-trousered legs and rubbed his tired face.

In the morning, we passed him on the way to the kitchen,
snoring lightly in his chair at the foot of the stairs.
It felt odd to have a guest in the house and we tiptoed by, trying not to wake him,
but he followed us into the kitchen anyway.
"I'm not leaving," he told us as we buttered the toast.

Death took something out of his pocket: cards with bright figures and symbols.
He turned one over and looked at us.
"It will be all right, you know," he said.

When the toast was done, we walked outside.
The light was starting to expand the sky.
We held hands on the dew-dampened grass
as Death stood behind us
and we all watched the sun come up over the trees.

On the summer solstice a few years ago, we were in Southern California and had a magical-mystery-tour experience.
Culture Vultures on the Loose:
The Getty, 2009

The mother ship is calling to me,
calling and calling and calling

and calling.

I must go up there
I must be up, up up
looking down.
Bob makes it happen.
(Notice how Bob is always the hero of my stories? That’s because he is heroic.)
We throw - OK, place gently - rice into a container
add broccoli - YAY! amazing, broccoli is already cooked! YAY!
We call Tony’s in MDR,
they have swordfish.
YAY!! (“Of course” Bob says.  Well, some things change.)
We bomb over there.
I run in with MINUTES TO SPARE.
It seems funny to be a woman alone walking into a bar,
have to get the bartender to read the receipt to me, it’s so dark and I forgot my stupid glasses.
Bob materializes at my elbow and the beautiful illusion of brilliant excited urgency shatters like a thin sheet of ice.
“Hi.” he seems very relaxed.
The minutes stretch themselves and yawn happily.

But now we’re BOMBING UP THE FREEWAY “it’s going to be a beautiful drive” he’d said and IT WAS
so beautiful
the freeway streaming into the heart of the mountain
the mountain opening and receiving us
pulling us in with its magnetic magical powers
we ride the tram with lots and lots and LOTS of tramgoers, mostly young and hip and coupled or singles
nonchalant in their beautiful clothing
their beautiful bodies
two single women start talking to each other
the mood is relaxed and happy, the trammers lounging attractively in their seats or against or from various tram poles, talking about LA stuff, films and production studios and music
there’s a series of indie band concerts, I find out, all through the summer, which explains the hordes of people streaming up the mountain to the plaza of the clouds at 8 o’clock when they close at 9

i thought WE were the only ones who did that

when we get there the place is thronged with people, happy joyous people strolling and standing and listening and looking, people decorating every high spot on the buildings with their joyousness and attentiveness like ornaments on a tree of life
i touch a rock as we walk along the stream - everything here is in the service of art including the water and the rocks and the plants - and feel the spirit of the living rock flowing into me
or maybe i just feel me
i don’t care, i’m going with the former
“i feel like this rock is my brother” i tell Bob
i am the missing piece that has just been clicked into the puzzle
we can see the city below, the night is filled with lights, stationary lights, moving lights
lights streaming white and red, the arteries of the city
we stroll around and around and through and amongst the plants along the gravelly pathways, marveling at the fifty foot umbrellas red at the top with bougainvillea bouffants; people in wicker chairs under them, conversing and smoking and being cool and i love them

the minutes pass and pass and my need to be here, my urgent pressing I NEEd TO BE THERE starts to dissolve, to wane; the big springy spiral of need starts to relax and straighten out it loosens
Bobby says, I could just sit here and eat, but I’m ready to flow away I’ve been filled I’ve clicked into place and felt the streaming love of solstice time flowing through me and now I’m ready to go, to flow down the mountainside
i love these hills, with their pubic hair of sage and scrub, sitting there so lovely with makeup perfectly applied
so we walk and walk and walk down along the path not waiting for the tram with the young people
we pass the snailesque ones
a single girl-woman passes us and sympathetic words come out of Bob’s mouth a woman alone walking jacket pulled tight around her head down she must feel uncomfortable he says she looked angry say i

we find our rental car at Palm 3 just where we left it we also find the keys - hooRAYYYYY - the car magically opens with the magic key
We arrange ourselves along the seats and start to eat.
In 2003, we had a life-changing trip to Yellowstone National Park. We stayed in the town of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Shenanigans ensued.

June 14 A scene from the movie, “The Vacation”: Bob and Debbie hunt for beautiful, quiet lodging in a natural setting. Bob fantasizes about something out of “Shane”, a tiny rustic cabin looking out over the majestic Grand Tetons; but in driving through Jackson Hole, they come upon something else: The Inn on the Creek. “Perfect!” they shout in unison, faces aglow. For the feng shui, as Bob has noted, is just plain wrong at the Parkway where they’re staying. Its bathroom window looks out into a hallway (huh?) and the room is basically a breezeway with two doors at either end, which, as we all know, just lets all the good stuff run right out. Not only that, the building itself faces a nice little park but - and this is hard to figure - none of the windows do. No. All the windows give lovely, unobstructed views of the cement staircase or, even better, the picture windows of other rooms. The Inn on the Creek, however, not only has ... (read more)