June 2011

A calm and quiet month in Costa Rica, enjoying delicious food in many locations, including Delicia, which not only offered sumptuous portions of toothsome Chinese vegan dishes, but also high mountain Taiwanese tea, properly prepared & served by proprietress Isabel Lin. You may be able to reach her (in Spanish) on the restaurant’s landline (2228-8807), but since she is trying to move her establishment to a new location, you may need to phone her mobile = (8837-8642).

The weekly organic market in San Jose is a centralized locale for tasty treats, as also didjeridoos made of bamboo (and other woods), produced by Raphael Pertuzio.

When not hiking or meditating I could often be found sitting & studying Spanish, or recumbent, reading. I got through (and enjoyed) A Canticle for Liebowitz, The Razor’s Edge, and Magister Ludi, and made my way through the first third (or thereabouts) of Sacred Games, which is (at least for me) a real pleasure, a true Bombay book.

Two (virtual) black-edged notices also reached me this month, announcing the deaths of Petra Hartt & Dina Liebowitz. I had known Petra, a native of the Netherlands but long-time resident of Vancouver, BC, for nigh onto two decades; she was felled by the chronic auto-immune condition that eventually caused her to end her career as a music teacher. A friend who attended her memorial described it as “moving and warming” and commented on it thus: “Verging on the maudlin and myth-making at times, but brought back to reality and laughter with her neighbour who described in hilarious detail her habits of getting people to do things she wanted done, while presenting it as something that was for their own good.” Vaarwel, Petra!

I first met Dina, whom I knew for nearly a quarter-century, at a herbal “gathering” at which I was speaking. During the ensuing years her dedication to exploring all manner of “alternative” forms of healing and healthy living caused our paths to repeatedly cross, in various US states as well as in India. Though short in stature, she was a smart, and in many ways formidable, woman, felled at age 45 by ovarian cancer, though the precipitating cause of her passing was the attempt she made to ameliorate her condition by submitting to a water-only fast at a facility that is said to specialize in such procedures[http://fasting.ms11.net]. She went to Ohio despite concerns voiced by her family and several friends (including me) that depriving her body of food would weaken her at a time when what she most required was adequate sustenance, for she had been assured that her vital signs would be monitored carefully to ensure that she was still fit to fast. In practice, this meant only that her blood pressure was checked twice a day. After 18 days there, when she had become so weak that she couldn’t even stand, she checked herself into a hospital, but the nutritional deprivation her organism had lost the ability to nourish itself, and it was to cachexia that she ultimately succumbed. Ironic, sad, and infuriating that it should be her faith in “natural” healing methods that, improperly applied, should have ended her life. She will be missed.

Last Modified on July 20, 2015
this article June 2011