Larry James

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My Dad passed away on May 28th. Grief has become my new bed fellow. He grips me at night, repeating scenes of horrifying sadness, whispering memories of words said and unsaid during the final moments of my father’s life. He urges me to live each day to the fullest. He tells me there is no time for sleep. There is only time to reach into this crazy human existence and grab onto anything and everything that will bring me joy, or, at minimum, numb the intensity of his presence. He forces me to live in a way where I push myself to feel more alive than I did before he came along. Life must be something other than wandering around wearing this heavy cloak of sadness. I must go fully into the moment, this VERY moment, and truly live it.

I know now, three months later, that grief will be with me for a long time. I cannot attach deadlines or make a goal sheet of how I will slowly ween myself from him. There are no rules to anything now. Everything that made sense before no longer does.

I am humbled in a way I never imagined, and for that, I am grateful.

Some of you that are reading this did not know my father. Many of you heard me read this eulogy at his funeral. I guess I just want to throw it out there, to see the words here on this site I have ignored for most of this year. Sending peace, love and comfort into your heart. Let your light shine, beautiful humans. Life is short and long, mysterious and bold…..LIVE IT.

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Eulogy for Larry James Yoh

My dad has never been perfect, but he has been perfect for me. If there is one word that describes my dad in all aspects of his life it is devotion. He lived his life as a devoted husband, father and employee. When I think about devotion, I see it as the epitome of love. My dad wasn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and honestly, most men aren’t, but he was devoted to his family and his work. Other than going out on a wrecker call, he was there every night to say, “Good night. Love you. See you in the morning.” each time I began my trudge up the stairs to bed when I was growing up. And I mean EVERY NIGHT, without fail. Even on those nights when I was upset with him and stomped up the stairs as loudly as I could.

He was both unbelievably strong and unbelievably humble. A man who believed in honesty above ego. The value of hard work never had to be explained to him.

Those of you who know him, know that he was on the shy side. He tended to be pretty quiet, but I think anyone with three girls and a wife at home would probably act the same.

He wasn’t one to toot his own horn, but he would raise his hand for anyone in need. Many of you in this room benefited from his expertise with car repair, construction and really just about anything needing muscle and WD40. He probably didn’t say much when he was with you. He tended to be focused on getting the job at hand done, but the finished, perfect fruit of his labor was his greatest expression of his love and caring for each of you. When I was growing up, if my dad wasn’t moving, he was sleeping. And he didn’t sleep much.

He wasn’t always hugs and kisses, but he was always, ALWAYS there. Though he challenged me to grow in the direction he wanted me to, he loved me during those times that I didn’t.

He and my mom created a family that gave me my best friends. I don’t know how one could ever say an appropriate thank you for that, but thank you mom and dad for that gift. Having Troy, Denise and Josie in my life has blessed me many times over.

Ted Hughes said:

“The only calibration that counts is how much heart people invest, how much they ignore their fears of being hurt or caught out or humiliated. And the only thing people regret is that they didn’t live boldly enough, that they didn’t invest enough heart, didn’t love enough. Nothing else really counts at all.”

Well, you did it, Dad. You invested your heart and you lived a bold life. I hope you can feel the love here that has been created from your devotion and caring.

My dad would often say “Keep the Faith.” And I say that to all of you now. You never know what is coming down the pike, what challenges you might face, but like Larry did: excercise humility, embrace devotion and keep the faith.

And, if all else fails, spray it down with WD40.

Good night, Dad. I love you. I’ll see you on the other side. Until then, I’ll be sure to check the oil.

Sun’s out. Guns out. Loveland Gun Show, Colorado

sun's out. guns out.

Like many of us, my love is prone to periods of obsession. He recently went through a massive dirt bike phase. During this particular phase, he spent hours online looking at dirt bikes for sale on craigslist. He procured the phone numbers for people in town who owned dirt bikes, people he did not know. He called them, introduced himself and asked their advice about buying one.

Eventually, he bought a dirt bike. Because of his research, he felt that he bought THE dirt bike for him. He also bought a myriad of protective gear. He rode the bike a lot. In fact, he rode it until he broke his thumb. Once he is healed, I’m sure he’ll be riding it again.

J took his dirt bike with us during our time in the Southwest this winter. Some days, he would ride for hundreds of miles. I would write on my laptop in the camper, trail run or roll my yoga mat onto the desert floor to practice and meditate. We camped on national forest land. We didn’t see too many people, mostly hunters or other off-roaders out for the weekend.

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As time went on, J became increasingly worried about leaving me alone in the camper, until, one day, he came home with a small shotgun.

kaci with shotgunI was, and still am, unsure about how I feel about using a gun for protection. I grew up in rural Ohio, so guns are not a mystery to me. I have fired off several types of guns for recreation, but have not handled one in years. I currently spend a lot of time trying to grow my compassion and sense of ahimsa, or non-harm. Shooting a gun doesn’t really fit into all of that.

What began as an interest in personal protection sprouted into a full blown obsession for J. Soon he was reading websites written by and for “preppers.” Preppers are people who are preparing for the end of the world, or the zombie apocalypse or whatever one might call it when resources are scarce and shit hits the fan. Preppers express themselves in many ways. The main emphasis seems to be to become self-sufficient, so a typical prepper is interested in topics such as learning to garden, do-it-yourself sutures and assault rifles.

J’s interest in prepping prompted him to invite me to the Loveland Gun Show. This is not a place I expected to find myself, nor is it my idea of a good “date day.” However, I thought it might be interesting, and J really wanted to check it out.

As we pulled into the parking lot, I drove past a skinny man with a mustache, aviators and a camo jacket holding some sort of assault rifle. Spotting this man created an expression on my face that stayed with me for most of the gun show. It looked like this:

kaci gun show face

I stopped by a booth that featured several handguns and rifles. I picked up an inexpensive Smith & Wesson 9 mm handgun.

“That’s the perfect gun for a woman your size,” the younger man of the two men hosting the both said. He was in his early 50’s with brown eyes, grey hair and a round belly that jutted through his suspenders and over his jeans.

“Oh, I don’t really know much about guns,” I replied.

“Well, Smith & Wesson is a good brand, and that price point is right in the sweet spot for most folks purchasing their first handgun. I see your left-handed. This gun works for you because it doesn’t have a safety. Most guns in the $400-$600 range have a safety made only for right-handers.”

“Yeah, that’s the one for you, darling,” the older man running the booth interjected. This guy appeared to be in his late 60s, thin with sparse white hair and blue eyes that were clouded with what I would guess to be either whiskey or a plethora of prescription pills.

“Um, I am not sure I need a gun, especially one without a safety,” I replied as I softly put the gun back on the table.

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“That’s the kind the army uses, honey. Most of the time the safety just gets in the way. If you are in an emergency, you need to react quick, and a safety may cause the split second difference that means life or death,” the older man fired back.

“He’s right, you know. Most people who get killed during a home invasion do so because they are messing with the safety instead of firing the gun,” the younger man replied.

“Seems like most of the guns on the table have safeties,” I mumbled, taken aback by the strong tones in their voices. I felt threatened, and, honestly, most of the guns on the table did have safeties.

“Now listen here. A lot of people are scared of guns, but that is because they don’t know how to use them. You think back to when you were a little girl. When your mama first brought out the vacuum, I’m sure you were scared to turn it on. You might have thought it could hurt you, or even kill you. Maybe for you it was the blender, or the washing machine. I’ll bet you aren’t scared of any of those things now because you know how to use them” the younger man said.

I didn’t really know what to say here. I actually don’t spend a lot of time vacuuming. If I had a gun, I might actually spend more time firing it off than firing up the Kirby. Part of me wanted to laugh, because I knew I was getting the sales pitch designed for “the lil’ lady,” part of me wanted to open a business and sell guns to women because this market must be a grossly underserved and part of me just wanted to run away.

“Grocery store closes for three days. That’s when the killing starts,” the older man said.

Now my face looked like this:

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In the end, after a stunned silence, I just walked away, all of the way away to my car. I still don’t know how I feel about this ordeal. Before I picked up that 9 mm, I hadn’t seriously considered purchasing a gun. Now that I know that people like that guy are stockpiling them, I might do the same.

In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: The only thing to fear is fear itself.  Well, that, and maybe that old dude.

A Golden Home: Estes Park, CO

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(For Amelia Josephine Burr)

by Joyce Kilmer

The road is wide and the stars are out
And the breath of the night is sweet,
And this is the time when wanderlust should seize upon my feet.
But I’m glad to turn from the open road and the starlight on my face,
And to leave the splendour of out-of-doors for a human dwelling place.

I never have seen a vagabond who really liked to roam
All up and down the streets of the world and not to have a home:
The tramp who slept in your barn last night and left at break of day
Will wander only until he finds another place to stay.

A gypsy-man will sleep in his cart with canvas overhead;
Or else he’ll go into his tent when it is time for bed.
He’ll sit on the grass and take his ease so long as the sun is high,
But when it is dark he wants a roof to keep away the sky.

If you call a gypsy a vagabond, I think you do him wrong,
For he never goes a-travelling but he takes his home along.
And the only reason a road is good, as every wanderer knows,
Is just because of the homes, the homes, the homes to which it goes.

They say that life is a highway and its milestones are the years,
And now and then there’s a toll-gate where you buy your way with tears.
It’s a rough road and a steep road and it stretches broad and far,
But at last it leads to a golden Town where golden Houses are.

With gratitude to the mountains, lakes and my family of friends in Estes Park.

heart rock

 

Top 5 Travel Tips from a Wayfaring Aficionado

My nephew, Riley, is getting ready to take his first international trip.  He is part of a team going to Rwanda to study biodiversity.  He’s a 20-year-old sophomore at Case Western University.  Yeah, he’s pretty smart.

As Riley prepares for his trip, I began thinking about some of the experiences I have had traveling over the last few years.  I wanted to tell him about some things I have learned on the road, but not in a way that seemed condescending because he can probably school me on most things.  And, I don’t want to make my trip his trip.  So, hey there Riley, this one is for you.  Have your own trip, but maybe read this first.

Top 5 Travel Tips from a Wayfaring Aficionado

1.  You never have to give your passport to anyone. Hoteliers will often tell you that they must hold your passport during your stay.  Um, no, they do not, and I strongly advise you not to give it to them.   They may give it to their uncle, who will take it to his house which is “many kilometers away”,to put in his “safe”, and then not be able to return it to you when you must leave because your train out of town departs in 30 minutes.  Obviously, I speak from experience (Goa, India).

The hotelier wants your passport in case you do not pay for your stay.  Offer your hotelier cash accompanied by a photocopy of your passport.  This course of action has worked for me every time.  It has not worked on the first offer, but in the end, I have a 100% success rate with this method.

Car and scooter rental shops also expect your passport as a rental deposit.  In Thailand, I watched a couple get charged three times the amount of their one-day scooter rental for “damages” to their vehicle that they adamantly claimed they did not create.  The next day, I watched a family of four go through the same scam.  Unfortunately, everyone gave the company their passport, and everyone had to pay to get them back.

Vehicle rental shops can be tough.  A photocopy of your passport accompanied by an expired credit card usually does the trick.  Pay cash for the rental.

International Driving Permits are great documents to secure before you go abroad.  If you do not feel comfortable using a photocopy of your passport, get this document.  Leave it behind if there is a dispute.  You can get one for $15 at AAA office nationwide.  You need two passport photos for each license.  You may want to get a few.

2.  Scan important documents into Google Docs.  Important documents include: a copy of your passport, immunization records and travel itinerary.   You may also want to upload a copy of your bank statement and credit card statement (with account numbers blacked out).  If there is any problem with your visa, you need to extend your visa, or you decide to visit another country that requires a visa, you may need to have financial statements that prove you have access to a set amount of money.

3.  If you get sick, try to be your own doctor.  The degree to which you must be your own doctor depends on where you are traveling.  If you have access to a hygienic clinic with medical supplies, kudos.  If not, you might find it easier to access Google.  When my boyfriend and I got horrendously sick while visiting a remote village in India, it seemed like a good idea to get online and try to figure out what was wrong with us ourselves.  In most countries, you can go to the pharmacy and get what you need without a prescription   Seriously, know thyself.  If you need medical attention, go for it.  Just be aware of the type of service you might receive.  Remember how you wanted to “have an adventure”?  Well, this is part of it.  Don’t lose your head.  Even if you feel like you are going to die, you are going to be fine.

If you have health insurance in the States, you may want to fill all those scripts your doctor will write you before you go.  If you do not, make a concise list of what you need, and purchase it at the pharmacy when you arrive.

4.  Watch out for the creeps.  I am woman.  I carry a vagina.  I might garner a little more attention than those who let it dangle.  I’m not sure, but I can tell you that I have been followed in Italy, Greece, India, Croatia, Slovenia, Argentina and various places in the United States.  I mostly suppose that people are just curious.  However, I also do not want to find out.

If you are in a city, glance into storefront windows, and look at your reflection to monitor the people behind you.  If you think you are being followed duck into a shop.

If everyone carries a machete where you are traveling, you may want one too.  It will make you feel better.

5.  If you get new gear for your trip, put all of it on and roll in the mud for a while.  Do not put a Canadian flag on your backpack.  Your fellow Americans do not need all of the cool American backpackers being taken for Canadians.  We need you to be one of us.

 

 

Five Months in Hawaii: Photo Compilation of My Favorite Moments

Over the last year, I have had the privilege of spending 5 months on the Big Island of Hawaii. I can see why the television series Lost was filmed there. The story line of castaways, the Others, the Dharma Initiative, mysterious threats and mystical forces are actually not that far off base. The mana, aloha and alchemy of the Big Island still blow my mind.  Not to get too hokey pokey, but I experienced copious amounts of synchronicity.

This post is a photo compilation of some of my favorite moments….

J and I landed in Hawaii in January 2012. We bought a Hawaii Telecom van, Big Bertha, for $800 just days before it was headed to the scrapyard. We fixed a couple of things, and J converted it to a camping van.

J & Kaci at the dealership OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Kaci Cooking in the Van

We cruised to Volcanoes National Park. We visited at sunrise to see the glow from the Halema’uma’u Crater.

Halema'uma'u Crater

Next, we explored the Puna District, Hilo and the Hamakua Coast. Our favorites were the soaking in the warm Queen’s Bath in Pahoa, eating fresh poke at Suisan Fish Market in Hilo and camping at Lapahoehoe on the Hamakua Coast. J got pretty good at climbing trees, and we added fresh coconut, avocado, banana, tangerine and mango to our diet.

Suisan Fish Market Puna Coast Turtle!!! Puna Coast OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA J Tree Climbing Coconut Tree Queen's Bath Queen's Bath Queen's Bath Sunrise at Lapahoehoe Banyan in Lapahoehoe

On Valentine’s Day of 2012, I swam with wild dolphins, and we went spear fishing (by we, I mean J).

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Next, we found lovely Hawi.  Our first night in town we saw John Keawe play at the Bamboo, and met the Keeper of the Aloha.  The next day, we went to the farmer’s market under the banyan tree.North Kohala quickly became the part of the island we loved most.

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Pololu Valley, located in North Kohala, became one of our favorite hangouts.

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A friend took us to the place King Kamehameha was hidden when he was a child. The kahunas (wise elders) prophesied that a great king would be born to unite all of the islands.  Electrical storms and strange lights appeared in the Hawaiian sky the night of Kamehameha’s birth.  He was thought to be the One, and was hidden from the world shortly after his birth.

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During our last couple of weeks on the island, we sold Big Bertha and holed up on a 10 acre ginger farm just outside of Hilo.  I lived with 4 guys, which was interesting.  We got there while the bananas, tangerines and papayas were ripe.

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J and I managed to spend two of our traveling seasons visiting Hawaii.  Big Bertha provided us shelter, and the island provided us with a lot of food.  I am not sure when I will visit her again. The island is a peaceful, warm place to spend the winter, but Polynesian Paralysis can quickly set in. Regardless of when I see her next, I will remember her fondly.

Namaste and Blessings.

Devotion: Guest Blog Post for Hanuman Yoga & Music Festival 2013

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What are you devoted to?  Consciously or not, we all devote our precious time and energy to something.  You can view my guest post on this subject here:

The Essence of Devotion

Hanuman Yoga & Music Festival is held in lovely Boulder, CO. This year’s lineup includes some of my personal favs such as Richard Freeman, Tiffany Cruikshank and Kathryn Budig.  Early bird tickets are available until March 1st:

Hanuman Festival 2013

Join me in raising the vibration!!!

Link

So Long, and Thanks for all the Bananas: Recovering Yogi

Created by Vanessa Fiola.  Recovering Yogi

Created by Vanessa Fiola
Recovering Yogi

Well folks, I left the Vipassana meditation retreat early.  In the words of the great Kenny Rogers:

You gotta know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, know when to walk away…..

I wrote a post for Recovering Yogi about my experience.  Check it out:

http://recoveringyogi.com/so-long-and-thanks-for-all-the-bananas/