Posts Tagged ‘water’

I dedicate my respect of water  to my German „Oma“ (technically my great aunt, but I didn’t know the difference for well over a decade). I have a particularly keen sense of the value of water. Particularly HOT water. As a thrifty Swabian, my Oma made it very clear that those long, languorous, hot and steamy bubble baths were not an option in her tightly run household. A daily hot shower was not an option. And washing your hair every day was positively out of the question.

Luckily for me, the (cold) room she allowed us to stay in had a small sink. This sort of thing was a typical architectural oddity in Germany – and much of Europe – at the time. You see it in movies where the bed is lice-infested, wallpaper peeling off the walls and a filthy community toilet where the last guy on not only smokes but burps and farts his was down the hall. Swabians being particularly tidy, there were no lice, the wallpaper was doing okay and the cleanliness of the family toilet (downstairs and through a door that was sometimes locked) was okay. The water that came out of the faucet on the little sink was – never to be forgotten – ice ice cold.

Forget bungee jumping, snowboarding on wild slopes off the beaten path: wash your hair (upside down) in ice water There’s nothing like it for a truly tingly head rush. This indescribable experience may, on the flip side, bring you numerous compliments on shiny hair. This was the case for me that summer.

Every bath I have taken since, every shower, every time I brush my teeth … I say prayers of thanks for this glorious stuff coming out of the faucet. For the physical property of it being hot – a heat I love making so high and tangy that I can get the full rush of the other extreme. My (only) heirloom from Oma.

What has compounded my respect of water as an adult is the bitter lack of it elsewhere. The breathtakingly respectless, wasteful use of water in my homeland. The three showers a day, gallon-filled toilet bowls, golf courses in Arizona, Las Vegas in its entireity and dozens of other things, the looming devastation of fracking not to be forgotten …

There it is: simple, humble adoration of something so beautiful, fragile, powerful, precious. That begins simply and humbly, like today, with tiny droplets forming on leaves and windowpanes.


One of the most sensual things I have ever done needs a new word to describe it. When I was a kid, we called it “skinny-dipping”. But that’s no longer appropriate, since there’s rarely a skinny person anywhere in sight, and a “dip” implies it’s in and out and rather risqué all the while. This is not the case. It’s a small peninsula in a lake full of people doing the same thing: lying on various mats, blankets, towels, with assorted paraphernalia, stark naked. Occasionally taking a swim. Having a cigarette. Reading. Sunning various sides and flipping from time to time. Adjusting their sun umbrellas as the sun moves. And watching everyone else around them.

I’m old enough not to care much if I’m being appraised while naked. There’s a discreet rule that everyone more or less adheres to: no staring. Eyes flit around but rarely meet. You steal glances at particularly interesting pieces of flesh quickly and furtively. The one situation where it seems appropriate to take longer, more direct looks is when people get into or out of the water or get up to get dressed or arrive and undress.

The entire situation is sensual. Meeting the elements, the air, the heat, the water, the grass and the occasional ant or two with your entire length and folds of skin is a wondrous thing. Absorbing everyone else around you doing the same thing, being so different yet so close to you, in an exquisite long-distance intimacy… truly awesome.

I enter the water gradually. No one will ever convince me that doing it any other way is “better” (men seems to like the idea of plunging, preferably head first, into water considerably colder than bike-ride heated bodies). When I think about it, my preferred pattern of sexuality is similar. Not to be rushed into anything here. And why? Ankles, then knees, thighs. Slowly fingering my way with my toes on the slimy, stony lake bottom. When the coolness hits the perineum, I let out tell-tale breaths, gasps of temperature transition. I cannot help this, and it pretty much continues, if not escalate, while tediously working my way up to the belly, solar plexus, heart. Once the nipples tickle the water, I’m usually okay. From there, it’s sink in. And go. First with a bit of old person, head-stay-dry breaststroke until I feel the moment where the water beckons like a lover to let just go. I turn on my back and relish my best discipline: the backstroke. My goal is the little string of buoys, big yellow balls with little white balls between them, all on a very long rope stretching from coast to coast. On this particular day, I seem to be racing the ominous clouds going in the same direction - obviously the day’s outing isn’t going to be a leisurely one. I reach the rope and glide it between big toe and the next to hang onto my algae soaked flipflop, balancing my way along, arms outstretched. It’s a wonderful chance for a breather and to get a look around, to sink deeper into the fluid hugging me tightly and release more, more, more. Letting go of the rope is always a tiny, sad moment, so I do a bit of floating, twisting, turning, playing. My body is a natural floater and I could stay that way effortlessly for what seems to be forever, making the idea of lying on an inflatable mattress – for many pass me left and right – slightly absurd. And no amount of plastic sticking to skin can ever be seen as good, as sweet, as deliriously encompassing as just lying on water, feeling every little ripple (and bigger ripples), listening, letting go, moving gently with the entire mass – as part of it.

As I slowly paddle/stroke my way back to shore, I am utterly taken by the sight of a young couple entering the water. She is an amazing beauty and he fades at first in her light. Reddish hair in a PR-person sort of short bob, her skin is immaculate and truly radiantly white. She has perfect, perky, anti-gravitational breasts that she coyly covers with a towel that looks like she must have inherited from her grandmother. Striped and oldish, it’s peculiarly unfitting to the rest of what she exudes. Both of them are ridiculously thin but still not what I would define as skinny; they are true peninsula eye-candy with fashionably hairless pubes. As I get closer (though far enough away to be able to stare without being obvious about it), I see there is an obvious age difference between the two of them, he being younger, if perhaps not by much. He late twenties to her mid-thirties, hard to say. She was protesting. The slime on the stones was too much for her. She was not going in farther than her calves. This gave everyone around the satisfaction of being able to look at her longer. He was playfully encouraging her to go deeper. She wasn’t having any of it. And then, I noticed a glint. On the tip of his penis, there was … well … something silver. The idea of a pierced penis makes me shudder. I can’t get my head around it. But then, I can’t understand most piercings. Or tattoos. I tried not to look too intently but the pull is awful. In my mind’s eye, I could envision swimming up to him to inspect it – up-close. Instead, I opted for pulling myself out of the water as quickly as possibly. By the time I padded onto shore, they were in an embrace, kissing like the fresh lovers they certainly were. I wondered (as any curious girl would) how his cold metal tip must feel inside. If it hurt him. Or helped him. How long it took her to like it. If she did. And why.

The next day, not a cloud in the sky, the perfect contrast to the porcelain princess marched past my flat little fortress: a proud old woman I would guess to be somewhere over 60. Her flesh literally hung off her bones, she was covered head-to-toe with wrinkles but her skin was as dark as any Caucasian could possibly ever become. I suspect she’s among the daily retiree crowd who play cards and casually talk about life and politics while spread-legged on their little chairs, some fully manicured, some big old hairy beasts, all having an excellent, peaceful time of it.

The beauty of the elements, these people, each and every one of them majestic and beautiful, the energy, the let-go flow and genuine air of “the world is okay today” is intriguing, intoxicating. An experience to relish – and repeat.


If you could somehow chart the nutritional years of your life, what would it look like? Would there be a continual line for meat consumption? Or would it peak here and there? What about fruits and vegetables? Would there only be small spurts or big bars? Milk and milk products? Grains? Beans? And how specific would this get? Should there be a line for cookies in general or cookies, Oreos; cookies, holiday, sugar? Where would chocolate be? Pralines vs. banal KitKat bars? And sodas, juice, wine, shots of Baileys with ice? It could get complicated.

My life would – I would like to think, anyway – have lots of good statistics. Years of absolutely rock-solid vegetarianism, even dabbling as far as veganism. (My kielbasa-infested childhood years had to be offset somehow!) Yet there are plenty of loopholes and sad dips into not-so-great eating behavior. The hardest thing to achieve in my life has been any sort of regularity. 

I’m onto this today – albeit indirectly - because of Obama’s inspiring speech the other day. His bold steps and plans to go where the nation (world?) patently needs to go sent shivers up and down my spine. One of the major obstacles to the success of his plans is health care. Something that concerns, needless to say, every human being, not just Americans. The issue is, however, as complicated and diverse as the human condition in general. 

If one could take a big step backward, and try to first get a grip on the developments in medicine in our day, we can rightly and proudly say we have come quite far. The thing that begins to murk up the picture has something in common with the trouble in the financial markets: greed. Greed across the board, across all markets and industries. (Just in case this wasn’t clear, this includes insurers, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, etc.) The entire world could have enough fresh water and high-quality, safe food if we had our priorities straight. If individuals and businesses were responsible in the Obama sense of the word. Lake Erie would not have been a chemical dump and biologically dead by the time I was seven years old. Erin Brockovich would never have had reason to work up a sweat at Masry & Vititoe. No one would have to worry about peanut butter. This list goes on and on and on…

Preventative medicine is, in my eyes, primarily: clean water; decent and sanely grown/produced, non-toxic, hormone and antibiotic-free, unprocessed food; clean air; clean spaces to live, work, play and move around in that aren’t toxic; consumer products that are in no way toxic (take synthetic fibers as one significant example), personal transportation that isn’t inundated with toxins (it’s not just the tailpipe that spits out toxins, the dashboard, seats and interior are emitting unseen gases, too) - and so on. The list is too long and I get too sad thinking about my own experience with toxins and poisons.

Getting all bases covered seems almost too much to ask for. Surely one has to find this fact shocking. These are the sorts of things governments must regulate and control because corporations, let alone with their goals and interests, simply have not been responsible (with singular, laudable exceptions) in the past. If that were the case, many things would be different on the planet. They have acted as if they are not human, don’t have children, will never have to worry about cancer. Or dementia, or other debilitating diseases. I have hope that this will change. It may take another hundred years, time for seeds of initiative now being planted to blossom and several leaders more that have the same strong, just, human backbone Obama is so wonderfully exemplifying.

The one choice a person can make, day in, day out, on a personal level – and a powerful statement indeed – is the answer to “What’s for dinner?” Making it more of this is, in my experience, a good start:




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