Saturday, November 09, 2019



Attended a climate justice workshop this morning where we were encouraged to grieve the loss of so many things. Mine were the polar bears...wept through the morning with a bunch of strangers. A lot of parents fearful for their children. Felt so tired now so watching these young women in Nepal was enough to bring some comfort in. We do what we can...

Truly dark by 5 PM now. 

Thursday, November 07, 2019

Well, waiting for the chimney sweep. My living room still smells like smoke after my one fire in the fireplace this fall. And they give me a 'range' when the person will show up. **sigh**

Maya and I are beginning to plan for my 70th birthday. How? Did? I? Get? Here? Time passes and one day you're getting your hair cut and noticing the jowls exactly like your mother you have hanging off your face.

We are looking at the Oregon coast so most can drive here. After the (never ending) fires in California, I am wanting most guests to be able to drive. My sister lives to hell and gone on the East Coast and Katrina lives in upstate NY so there's no hope for it but they both want to come. We're looking at way big houses near/on the beach with a hot tub and a game room for the teenagers and enough beds for most everyone. All my co-dependent tendencies are coming out with worrying about who will have to stay nearby and who can bunk together and on and on. And trusting that my brother won't say anything awkward to my trans friend. And who is vegan or vegetarian or paleo or wheat/gluten/nut etc sensitive.

My sister and Katrina will fly into Seattle and we'll drive down in my very small car...I'm getting ahead of myself.

My dear daughter is SO levelheaded. And diplomatic. Where the hell does she get it? Certainly not from me. I just can't seem to handle these family sort of things. I worry about everything. But lordy, these are people who want to celebrate with me and they are all wonderful even if they don't know each other.

I am hoping we can do a 'bad poetry' night. I'll encourage everyone to bring bad poetry-either Rod McKuen or Jewel or their own high school or college attempts. Self consciousness is an important ingredient, of course. I have a few books called Bad Poetry or Very Bad Poetry and one poem is called "The Queen of Cheese". It's,  um, very special.

Ok, so now i can officially call the chimney sweep place to find out if they're even coming.

Monday, October 28, 2019

The apocalypse

Maya in San Rafael texted that they're in the dark. She's got cat carriers, water, flashlights, extra clothes, food and a  small generator in her car. School is closed. She can't go to work because the doors are opened by a combination lock. They can light their stove but all the gas pumps are dark.

Eden in LA is ok. Haven't heard from my brother.

And here in the NW it looks like this:

Got nothing to say about  current events. Oil has contributed to global warming which causes the droughts and crazy weather patterns and hence fires and destruction. 


This child spoke truth to power.

My friend Micha figured out how much fossil fuel it took to fly her to Greece and back. She was appalled. She wants to make art that doesn't include electronics because of components made with harmful chemicals and minerals. I suggested rocks and fallen trees and leaves. Stonehenge has lasted for a while and doesn't pollute, as far as I know. 

California is burning and al Baghdadi is dead

My daughter empties her fridge
no power in San Rafael
no school tomorrow
no work because the door combination is hard wired
gas pumps are dark

she has a plan
two cat carriers
a generator
water
a flashlight
the freeway is nearby

a man I know
taught to track and kill a deer
by his uncle on the rez
took his first when he was 14
still a boy

when he got back to the house
he danced and laughed
proud of himself
his uncle slapped him
hard

never rejoice when you take a life
the deer offered herself to you
so you might have food for the winter

today while men in a room watched
hundreds of miles from the tunnel filled with
dogs and soldiers
a man took his life and the lives of three children

our president described in great detail
'crying, screaming, cowardly'
'body parts identified by DNA'
'great' 'very bad' ' hatred'

where is uncle to slap him
teach him to take life, any life
is not honorable
no matter how necessary it may seem

we are all capable of murder
in our hearts
this will not stop ill will
this will not stop the illness of greed

my daughter lights candles
in her living room
her son is a few blocks away with his girlfriend
if they need to leave
they are ready

as she texted me-
“We're here in the dark,
waiting for the apocalypse.”




Thursday, October 17, 2019

Felix has been groomed within an inch of his life. He has the pouffy tail and ears of a 'real' poodle. He doesn't seem to mind however. Dogs are very unselfconscious.

I hung a very large painting I did on the wall of the living room. I sincerely hope it doesn't fall down and scare the bejeezus out of me and the animals.

It's dark and rainy and cold here. The leaves are glorious.

I wonder how much more life I have. Rep Elijah Cummings was only 68, why a young man! And such a splendid man he was. I/we will miss him so much.

I tried to eliminate some ground wasps that are swarming by my front door. I felt so guilty. But they're still there. ***sigh***.

Craig is a man in my tai chi group. His form is beautiful, as is he. I told him I admired his form (meanwhile I stumble through the moves) and now he is (I think) flirting with me. Oh dear. I haven't had to tell a man I don't roll that way for years. He made one kinda homophobic comment and I didn't correct him... Anyway, I have no skills anymore. Not for flirting or deflecting flirting. It's a nice thing about being, er, older. He IS attractive. I did say I admired his form (and his hands and long legs). Oh dear. This shall amount to nothing, children.

I find it a bit annoying when friends lament my singledom. It's really ok, honest. Sure, I talk to myself. I can be a bit dotty. But I'm fine. I consult myself when I want to do things. And usually I am quite reasonable.

I love this season of cold and dark. Always have.

May all beings be warm and safe.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Trader Joe's is fecking evil. There is chocolate and sweet stuff ALL OVER THE STORE, not in just one area. It's everywhere, lurking when you least expect it.

Ok, I have poor impulse control. And I bought some peanut butter cups. And they are delicious.

At least my women were here tonight to meditate so I gave them some. But I ate way too many. Way, Too. Many.

Felix got a bath yesterday because they groomer was sick. I trapped him in the bathroom, got a  stool to put in the shower, took the shower head off the hook and washed the sad dog. He sat in the dining room, shivering. It wasn't THAT cold.  Anyway, as soon as I said the magic word (walk/hike/outside), he leapt into the air, all troubles forgotten.

Haircut next week.

The momma I was waiting on had a c/section. Unfortunately. I go see her tomorrow. Her kiddo is lovely. Too many surgeries to have babies. Not right. But in her case, necessary.

***sigh***

Good night, darlings

PS. Renee Zellweger is pretty darn good in "Judy". Just be ready for a tragic story. 

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Waiting on a momma who called with ruptured membranes this morning. Waiting for the window cleaner person to arrive. What to do with the dog? Don't have an answer for that one right now. Felix is a shaggy, dirty mess and he has a date with the groomer tomorrow. Thank the lawd.

Amy is the name of the window person. She has been here once before and I will do better this time. She ( I think she prefers the pronoun she) arrived in a house dress (is that even a thing anymore?), a scarf on her head and a deep voice. Uh, I was not skillful, called her 'sir' a few times. Nope, don't think she is a sir but maybe she/he is a cross dresser and not trans but how to ask????

My friend Micha would just encourage me to ask her. Micha is a trans woman, or as she says, 'I'm just a WOMAN.' She is now happily in a lesbian relationship with someone who matches her in wisdom, smarts and wonderfulness. Did I say she's a professor at UCSC with a double PhD in gaming, virtual reality and computer programming? And she's an artist with an international following. She's wicked smart. And I love her. She has introduced me as her mother, so there's that. I'm so proud.

In spite of the hatred we don't have to sink down.

I am enjoying the impeachment brouhaha much more than is seemly. Arrests! Nonsensical pronouncements from the VP! Giuliani! etc.

The cold has arrived. And I have solar panels which will provide free heat, yay!!! Maybe this winter I won't be huddled up in a blanket in front of the fireplace with the cat around my neck.

Happy to be going to a birth. Haven't been to a birth for many months... It's like riding a bike. You never forget how. And this momma was at her friend's birth a few years ago. I was the midwife so she remembered me  and came into care with us. May the circle be unbroken..

Friday, October 04, 2019

Hear me out. Last Sunday I attended a Christian church service. They are graciously hosting my Buddhist sit and a Buddhist recovery meeting, all without cost (or very little cost). The church is beautiful, large windows, raised beds of flowers and veggies outside, a new mom pastor who led the service with a baby on her hip.

It's a small congregation, mostly older folks, a few younger people. They are politically active and their message is love your neighbor. I went because they were cleaning up the grounds around the church and on the street, including the parking circle. All were looking rather neglected. And I wanted to help out, to give back.

So I went to the service. I had a visceral reaction sitting there among the God talk and the Bible verses and the singing. It wasn't aversion exactly. It was more like a feeling of wrongness, like I shouldn't be there as an unbeliever. I definitely didn't take communion.

What's so different about my Buddhist practice from theirs. They have formed a family of sorts as I have with my Buddhist friends. They have stories that they read which are fantastical, I know they are metaphors but some folks believe them, especially kids. And there are Buddhist stories that are just as unrealistic.

So it comes down to the idea that we're sinners and we call on something outside ourselves to be cleansed which I just can't buy. Our original self is the world, we just have forgotten that we're part of everything and everyone. And we ARE that already. We don't need an intermediary to fix us or remove our sins or whatever.

I mean. They're good Christians. They pray for one another. They try to do good works in the world. They're not filled with hate. They're accepting of difference. They're the faith of my ancestors.

Cultural appropriation? Am I guilty of this? I don't know.   

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rachel and I drove from Denver to Seattle in three days. Wyoming and Montana are gorgeous. And the speed limit is 80, people. However, at a gas station stop in Wyoming, the sign on the door read, "Welcome to Wyoming. We all carry guns here".  Gulp.

We saw buffalo, antelope and a (dead) mountain lion in the road. We stayed in Spokane on our last night and the city has built the prettiest sculpture park around the river that runs through the center of town. We read to each other, played music, ate junk food and went to bed after sitting in the hotel  hot tub. Plus, I met her mother and her brothers. Somehow, when you meet the family, it rounds  out what you know about someone. While we were driving, my brother called so I put him on speaker phone and she got to 'meet' him too.

We were driving a newish car that she has inherited from her grandma who died recently. And this grandma was a hoarder, oh dear. I even got a handmade quilt that came from a stack in the basement.

My daughter recently sent me a few quilts  I made years ago. They are not exactly tattered, just well worn. I don't think they're worth fixing. She also sent me the christening gown my mother put each of us in when we were baptized.
The lace is  handmade and soooo tiny. Nope, beyond me. 

Fall is here, the days are shorter and darker. Rain has arrived. Births and deaths, all in the great cycle of life, as Maude from Harold and Maude would say. 


Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Sunday, September 01, 2019

Dears-I'm back. I drove straight through, a 12 hour drive. I had thought I'd stop somewhere overnight, take a SHOWER and collapse into bed but I thought about MY bed and hot tub and pushed on.

It was amazing. It was hotter than hell. It was dusty as hell, with the wind whipping the dust into white-outs. The art was spectacular. The nakedness was, well, naked. I saw more dicks than I cared to see. Well, I do like the ladies better anyway. And I saw a lot of naked ladies too. Oh and public sex, or so I'm told.

I saw steam punk, hippy, random clothing. I rode a very heavy bicycle covered with fairy lights. Traveling around at night was magical-music, art cars, neon lights on the art, fire dancers, acrobats, etc etc. Too much to explain. Really. I didn't take many pictures but here's a sample:
That last photo is made entirely of cans, lids and plastic bottles. It clanked when the wind blew. Awesome.

I left before the man burned. I was done. I was filthy and sweaty and cranky. There was an ocean of alcohol and drugs which I did not partake of. I thought about it for a hot minute bu decided to eat well and go to bed at 10. Which I did every night. I got up early, made tea and went to the dance tent and danced my ass off. I drank lots of water.

Already I'm planning for next year (why, you ask). Because I learned many things about being comfortable. My kid had a magnificent set-up, tent with 'rooms', a real bed, a wooden floor, a dresser!!, multiple baskets for stuff, a real kitchen, a chaise lounge with a big sheepskin... I could go on and on. And shade. Big shade. We hung out. We made friends with our neighbors. I gave away blackberry jam. Some folks are minimalists. But I need some comforts. Even a bucket bath would have been heaven.

And by the way. Can we talk hair? When you don't wash your hair for 5 days, it turns into a type of helmet glued together with playa dust and sweat and occasional food. I couldn't get my fingers through it. It was special. I now understand why folks get their hair braided and they just leave it.

So I'm back and missing burning man. I don't even know why. It's so extreme and weird and wonderful.

I'll post more pictures when my kid gets home and send me some.

BTW. I went to the car wash today with my filthy dust and dead bug covered car and when I drove in, the guy said, 'what the fuck!' then he said he'd get their specialist. I laughed so hard I cried.
Here's the dash. It's usually black...

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Today I  leave for Burning Man. I have an alarming amount of stuff piled up in my living room and it's all supposed to fit into my wee car plus a passenger with her meager (she tells me) belongings. Plus tying the bike to the new bike rack. Plus a 13+ hour drive to the effing desert where it will be a) very hot b) dry and dusty and c) inhospitable to most all life. Plus Felix decided to get diarrhea yesterday twice, poor guy, so I made him a giant container of rice and ground chicken which he LOVES, to take to Randy's house.

My animals know when I'm going on a trip. Felix gets morose and wants to be near me. Lola disappears. They always get good care while I'm away. Otherwise I couldn't feel released.

The garden is watered. The house swept and dusted, a thankless task. My Burning Man hat is complete with twinkly lights.

Anxiety is better. I asked a friend why I've been feeling so anxious about this trip-I prevaricated about everything; the long drive, my stranger passenger, the heat, food, stuff to bring, finding my daughter among 70,000 dusty participants, getting there after dark, etc, etc. He said, "Cuz you're old."

Oh. 

He said we get more anxious as we age. Is that true? I certainly don't trust my knees like I used to. I worry about money (well, that's not new). 

I'm leaving my computer at home. My phone will probably die while I'm there because there is no way to recharge it. Besides signals are spotty on the playa. I hope to get some photos. I will be able to charge it up on the ride home. 

For now, I'm gonna meditate, have some breakfast and continue to contemplate the tight packing situation. Then off I go to Portland to pick up Lisa, my passenger, who will help with gas and driving. And we're stopping about half-way there to spend the night at the Shady Inn Motel-no not the Bates Motel!, a cheap-o place just off I-5. Then on until morning....

Burning Man, here we come.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

I just sat down. I danced this morning :-), walked the dog and picked up windfall apples in the park, a bunch of them. I also picked 6 cups of blackberries.

Then-more blackberry jam, apple sauce and a blackberry apple pie.

And there are more apples in the fridge, for another day, lordy.

I intend to take a shower today as I sweated mightily at dance but why?

The kitchen counter is stacked with jars of jam and sauce. The dish washer is running.

My body is so sore, my bones are sore. I could lie down and not get up until tomorrow but there will be women here in a bit to meditate together.

I listened to a TED talk about joy and play. I dance and I just started a tai chi class (!). Three days a week, two of those days outside in the beautiful Kubota gardens


http://www.kubotagarden.org/about-us/history/

The gardener was interned during WWII but returned to the garden and continued his work.

The other students are mostly older folks. The teacher calls out the moves, " white crane spreads its wings' and 'parts the horse's manes" while I do my best to follow along. The classes are free or $2, so sweet.

Today is  Eid al-Adha and down the street from my house, the park and the streets were overflowing with Muslims, the men and women in long flowing robes, little children running around. I worried, to see them all together but there were no incidents. Thursday a young woman confronted the landlord for the building where ICE is located in Seattle.

I'm making a pie and jam. I give jam away to my neighbors. I worry about my non English speaking neighbors. Their son assures me they are safe and citizens. They are old and grandparents.

Edward Espe Brown is my new hero. And he will be here in September. You bet I'll go see him.

https://www.audiodharma.org/teacher/27/

Go ahead, give him a listen. He laughs all through his talk. That's where I want to go, laughing at myself in the most loving way.

The pie smells done. I better go check.


Monday, August 05, 2019

I'm going to Burning Man. Spoke to a gal in Portland who needs a ride and has a vehicle pass so I'm set. Now it's about collecting gear and wondering if I really am crazy. Supposed to be dusty, very dusty this year. Have ordered goggles and a face mask. Need a bike rack.

But really, have no sparkly clothes. I might just wind myself with fairy lights and call it good.

I just saw a post on their facebook page for smuggling in drugs. Glass butt plugs. Ah, no. Even if I were bringing drugs, which I'm definitely not, putting a glass plug in my butt sounds like a recipe for disaster.

Oh these kids today.

No drugs and no alcohol either. No way. I just hope it isn't a dust storm for 4 days...

In the meantime, I just put up 30 jars of blackberry jam. Blackberries are free everywhere in Seattle.
Free is a great thing.

Monday, July 29, 2019

I don't know why I'm going to Burning Man. It's been the most stressful experience ever. I now have a ticket but no ticket to park my car....I think I registered for the sale for parking tickets but I'm not sure and my computer is no help. Anyway, my last experience with purchasing a ticket was entirely awful after sitting there for 2 hours watching the little wheel go round and round and then the site crashed.

Sheesh. And now I've spent real money on a ticket and a bike to ride around on. I won't believe I'm actually attending until I'm actually there. And my car needs struts, whatever that is, and I should probably get them fixed before I go.

Whine, whine, whine.

However, I made granola today and I'm waiting for bread to come out of the oven. I'm having bread and fake butter for dinner. I promised Felix we would go swim/walk and it might be dark before we get there but, lordy, I need to go de-stress.

There are two rough looking guys down the street who are cleaning out a house so the owner can sell it. They are missing teeth and they have ropey arms, the kind of guys who have worked hard, been homeless a bit, spent a lot of time outside using their bodies. I've hired them to mow down the effing blackberries, nettles, horse tail, etc behind my house. It's a massive steep hill but they're willing to give it a go. They're even willing to cut down the laurel which will spring up in no time. They're very sweet. They witnessed the pit bull attack yesterday and one of them even hugged me.

I could be where they are, except for some luck.

Bless them.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Felix and I narrowly missed a pit bull attack this morning. He ran out at Felix with fierce barking and many teeth. I screamed and the neighbors came running. The guy who was the owner showed up with a big stick, yelling at the dog and got him away from Felix. Felix was completely unperturbed and uninjured. Sheesh. My heart was pounding.

Recently bought a book by Edward Espe Brown called 'Most Important Point'. He's the Tassahara Bread Book guy. I've used that book since the 70's and I still do.

Here's one of my 'babies' Hazel making her first loaf of bread. XXXX She asked if I'd show her and so I did.

Anyway, the book is beautiful and I've downloaded a few of his dharma talks. He laughs all through them because he finds himself so funny and human and humble and full of faults and mistakes. He's not the slightest bit spiritual or 'Buddhist' or anything. Even if he is a Zen priest. He's just a real person.

Well, time to sit with my friends.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Some of my favorite people about to engage in a snowball fight at Mt Lassen in California. The teenage boys did a lot of shrieking and belching. Because they are kinda gross. Ah, hormones.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Off to Manton, California tomorrow. Unaccountably nervous. Me and Felix. He needs heartworm medicine which the vet today didn't have... there's a Costco on the way to the lodge so we'll be stopping there to fill the prescription. This trip has been very costly, between the car shite and the dog so I better enjoy myself!

AND I got a ticket to Burning Man which is a scant month away, another road trip and I have to get it together with clothes and food and a crappy bike to ride around on the playa. As soon as I return from Manton, I'll start planning that trip. Sheesh.

O the trials of this first world person!!

The day I return from Manton, I'm teaching the Dharma for a friend in the evening. The topic is translated as suffering or dissatisfaction. And tanha which means 'thirst'. Thirst for things to be different or things to stay the same. Meanwhile the neighbors are making a terrific racket with a power washer and a hummingbird is at the feeder.

I've lost 7 pounds without trying. Or rather without weighing myself at all for a while. I'm eating so much less. The last retreat reset some kind of inner clock.

So I'll take some Dharma books with me and my computer and write something about dukkha (suffering), rehearse it and then speak without notes. That's how I roll.

Friday, July 12, 2019


Snake

a loop of cold lightening
hangs from the lowest branch
as she looks up into the dark
coiling and uncoiling
she lifts her airless body skyward

at the top
a mother bird scatters
chirps anxiously from a nearby tree
chirps chirps chirps
into the silence

at first I thought to stop this story
from going forward
snake unhinging her jaws
to consume an egg
or a chick

I would get a stick
lift the snake away from the nest
restore my version of order
kindness

what of the snake and her children
she is doing what she does
to survive
find the pulsing life

dragonflies
baby birds
frogs

who decides who lives
who dies
what is the right answer
is there a right answer

do you love the snake too?

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Well, I did it. I borrowed money from a credit union who underwrites loans for solar panels and installation and they're gonna be here in September to install. My neighbor gave me permission to top his (ug) arbor vitae 5 feet. I mean, really, they are so tall they are growing higher than the roof line.

Then I'll have a low-interest loan payment for the next ten years, if I live that long.

And I've done my bit for global warming.

AND

My car is getting fixed all up and shite, I'm spending money like I have some. New tires, air filter, new battery, oil change etc. And I need new struts soon (whaaaaa) but I'm saving $ (?) by not flying to California. Maybe. It's the annual Mount Lassen/Manton trip and I'm bringing Felix this time. Me and the dog in my wee car. We're camping a few nights. I hope his nerves don't keep him up and woofing all night. We remember the CBD fiasco so I won't be trying that again. He'll have a blast once we get there, kids to play with and the pond to swim in.

But. I went to a new shop (to me) called Revolution Repair owned and operated by gender fluid folks. Trans men and women, old fashioned lesbians and the like. It was glorious after my time with the dealership shop. They took all day but they were so nice and thorough and did extra stuff like sprayed peppermint oil on my engine to deter rodents. I'm going back there, for sure.

Speaking of rodents, my tenant and I have seen GIANT rats in the garden and they are digging giant holes. Sigh. So Joey, the fabulous girlfriend of my tenant, is buying traps that electrocute them, not so Buddhist, I know. But ew.

Ok, I just saw a tiny bug crawling around INSIDE my computer screen. I think it might be the beginning of the end when the bugs and rats and blackberries take over and humankind becomes piles of bleached bones.

My 'roommate' returns from a conference today. She has three more weeks here and then she returns to New Orleans. And my house will be all mine again.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

Today was busy with meetings and meetings and a gathering at my house to discuss (what else?) the dharma which means the way things are, the law of the universe, the teachings of the Buddha. I actually had a realization this week with a definition of dependent co-arising. I won't try to describe here but it helped to understand a bit more the relationship between our actions and their long range ramifications.

In simple terms, we effect our world by how we move through our world. Anger begets anger. Kindness begets kindness. We may not see the immediate results but it is there.

I recently saw a documentary called 'The Biggest Little Farm' which was filmed over 7-8 years on a 200 acre piece of property outside LA, in the midst of their terrible drought. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UfDTM4JxHl8 The young people involved brought the land back from the desert by learning (sometimes) hard lessons about the nature of life. Pests, predators, ill animals, all came into play as they learned the balance of nature; brutal, exacting and persistent. They fed the soil and in return, the soil fed them, literally. Without pesticides, without shooting the coyotes (!), holding their anger, frustration and sorrow for the way things are.

We humans are too made of the elements and as we forget that, we perish. As I sit here in my little house, I look out at the trees and the bird feeders and the holes in the lettuce leaves and I think about the way I want everything to look, to be and I'll never be rid of the bamboo in my side yard or the blackberries that threaten to climb into my garden from the greenbelt. That plant is hardy! I do appreciate the berries for making jam but they prick and bite so care is always important.

In a few weeks, I'll be driving through the drought affected California scrub. It is a wonder to see what does live in a dried out area. One of the things the movie makers did was install an infrared camera on the perimeter of their property to try to figure out what was out there beyond their fences. Coyotes, raccoons, cougars, a badger, a weasel, owls, all sorts of nocturnal critters invisible in the daytime. So much to wonder at, what we don't see. The wide world is still full of magic.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

I met a friend yesterday for a dog walk and a Dharma chat. The Buddha encouraged his followers to hang out with Kalyanamita- literally spiritual friends. When I hike with Holly, we talk about the meaning of co-arising or causes and conditions. Rachel is on a journey of discovery which includes her study of deep trauma, Judith has a steady sitting practice and holds her own pain with grace. I am so grateful for these friends who are studying and probing and questioning the causes and remedies for suffering.

I feel that those of you who read here are also deeply practicing and deeply living your lives; with your passions and disappointments and thoughtful investigations into the nature of existence, all existence.

The babies flow on and on. Parents do the best they can to raise their children with the least amount of harm. I remind myself that most of us do a pretty good job. The news cycle is full of aberrant parenting because the good parents aren't 'news'. My neighbors are raising their twin girls with the grandparents living next door. They have learned to ride their bikes under their grandmother's watchful eye. She tells me 'bonita, bonita' when she watches me water my garden. Their little white dog runs from house to house.

When we were done with our walk, Glenn asked if I wanted to meditate in the park. We found a place surrounded by flowers and sat on the grass. Eventually it began to rain, very softly. I could feel the drops in my hair and on my skin. As first I thought we should move or stop but I remembered that the Buddha instructed his followers find a quiet place, sit under a tree and meditate. We could hear children playing in the playground and there was some large machinery nearby but we continued to sit, the rain gently blessing us.

Right now the house is still. The dog is at my feet, the cat is lying in a patch of sunlight. Gratitude flows through me.



Monday, June 24, 2019

Dears-

The weather here is beautiful, cool and sunny. I'm in a funk but this morning I went into my studio and threw some colors on canvas. Now the long awaited dog walk and a trip to the pea patch to weed and water and harvest.

A few nights ago I went to a reading by Ocean Vuong for his new book, "On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous." I'm still in a state of wonderment. I have his book of poetry, "Night Sky With Exit Wounds" after encountering his work in the NYT. I taped them to my kitchen wall. You know when you read something that makes the landscape tip and suddenly the trees and sky are unfamiliar and you've entered a new reality? His work and his Q and A after he read!!! Please look for him on youtube.
My silent retreat was transformative. Sitting with nuns who have given their lives to the study of the Dharma, how to explain the warmth and kindness of their regard for all of us? I'm still mining the work I did in that week. It's taken me a while to 'come back' or maybe I've stepped over a threshold into some new understanding.

My little cat just caught and ate a spider while I was sitting here.

Being with the mystery today.

Monday, June 03, 2019

Garden bounty. The lettuce has slugs and the strawberries are sour but they grew in my pea patch and I'm grateful. Going on a week of a rotten cold with an impressive cough but going to work tomorrow in spite of it all. Taking cough syrup and throat lozenges and if it gets too bad, a percocet to keep the cough away. On Friday I leave for a week in the forest to sit with the Vipassana nuns.  I offered a ride to someone on the ride board and when I said 'the nuns' retreat' she said, 'whaa?' Oh dear. well, we'll have a few hours to chat on the way there.

In the West we don't really understand the concept of monastic life...well the Catholics have monks and nuns but in the East, the monastic community is an integral part of everyday life. You see robed men and women everywhere, in the open air markets and walking on the streets. And they go on alms rounds with their bowls. Every household supports the monastic community with food, shelter, clothing and medicine. In return, the monks and nuns offer the teaching of the Buddha freely, all who ask. It's a major renunciation, leaving everything behind to live in a monastery and be dependent on the generosity of the surrounding community. A tradition that has been going on for more than 2600 years. Unfortunately, the wealth is not equally distributed. Nuns are more often neglected and will disrobe because they are unsupported. In the West it is even more dire. There are a few nun communities on the West coast with women who grew disenchanted with the obvious misogyny of Eastern monasteries and have planted themselves in small communities in California. We who live out here have the benefit of their deep practice and humility. I've had the good fortune to sit with a number of remarkable women over the years and this retreat will be no exception.

It's just too bad that the larger community is largely unaware of the plight of Western (and Eastern) nuns. The patriarchy is a mean and powerful bastard. 

So the young woman I am picking up Friday morning to drive to the retreat will be 'treated' to a lecture. Or maybe I've gotten my righteous indignation out of my system and we will have a quiet discussion of the nuns' situation...

The teachings from these gentle, wise women is truly a rare privilege. Let's hope I'm not still hacking and snorting with this everlovin' cold.


Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial day redux

At the Un-National Monument along the Canadian Border

This is the field where the battle did not happen,
where the unknown soldier did not die.
This is the field where grass joined hands,
where no monument stands,
and the only heroic thing is the sky.

Birds fly here without any sound,
unfolding their wings across the open.
No people killed—or were killed—on this ground
hallowed by neglect and an air so tame
that people celebrate it by forgetting its name.


William Stafford was a poet who spent time in prison for his pacifism during the second world war. He wrote a poem every day, even the day he died. When asked if a poem he had written didn't rise to his standards he said, "I just lower my standards." He was a mentor and friend to Naomi Shihab Nye. When I stood with Women in Black in downtown Seattle during the Gulf war, I held a photo of Stafford. 

Friday, May 24, 2019

Not waxing rapsodic

Ok. So.

Annie, who doesn't hike, suggested for out last day together that we go for a hike. I'm game, you know me, a regular hiking fool.

I carry the 10 essentials (thanks for asking-whistle, compass, space blanket, waterproof matches, extra clothes, sunscreen and sunglasses, map, firestarter and first aid kit) in my hiking backpack. Extra water is important too. I'd add to that, protection from bugs-stay tuned. Of course, I'm 3000 miles away from my trusty backpack. 

We drive to east Jesus, way up in the North country, almost Canada, passing beautiful lakes and creeks and occasional fishermen/women. Arriving at the trailhead, there were quite a few flies and I turned to Annie and said, 'bug spray' and she said, 'nope.'

Ahhh so we started out gayly enough but these bastards:
began tormenting us by swarming and landing on our faces, necks, hands and anywhere else they could bite us. We were sweating and swatting and at one point I felt something warm on my face and it was blood. And no 10 essentials. We prevailed and ended up coming back down the trail on our butts because it was so slippery and wet. No matter. The insects were merciless. At the trailhead we lost our minds and COULDN'T LOCATE THE EFFING CAR. We went down road after road, becoming more and more disoriented. When I had one bar on my phone I called 911 and got a ranger. Thanks to the lawd for GPS tracking. He got us out of biting insect hell but I gotta say, I have the worst bites on my hands and the back of my neck. I couldn't sleep that night because every time I closed my eyes, I saw swarms of horrible flies. 

My sister doesn't hike so she doesn't know about flies between May and July when everyone sits around on their screened-in porches and watches the sunset.

I'm still scratching.

As a Buddhist, I revere life. Most of the time.  But I'll certainly squash a black fly in a heart beat. They are tiny dicks. 

Monday, May 20, 2019

The North Country

Me and Katrina, my oldest friend. We were young mothers together back in the 70's. Her son Jared just opened a restaurant in town (delish!) and Katrina and I didn't have enough time together. Not at all. We didn't even get to the 'what happened to so and so' before I had to leave for the northernmost point in New York State to visit Anne, my sister. Gotta come back. 
The Raquette River in Potsdam. Just off there was a dinky farmer's market with three youngsters playing their fiddles.
The Episcopalian Church on the banks of the river. 
The (very white) momma and her baby.
The view from my sister's back porch. There are orioles at the bird feeder, peepers as night, bird song all day. During the night there was thunder, lightening and rain. The moon came out brilliant and round behind the clouds for a few minutes. During the day we went to the Birchbark Bookstore back in the woods. The fellow there has a series of linked rooms, more like a labyrinth really, crammed with used books. At first they're alphabetized in sections but the farther back you go, it's more helter skelter. The shelves are all nailed to birth bark trunks. Wow. And he has an outhouse. 

There are Amish farmers here, in their horse drawn buggies by the side of the road. There are wild turkeys and deer. Deep wet woods from tons of rain. Lots of bugs.

Today we're planting starts, going to the gym (complete with country music!) and hiking? kayaking? We stayed up watching Iliza Shlesinger on Netflix and falling off the couch laughing.

Tomorrow we'll cross the border into Canada across the St Lawrence-told you she's far north. We're gonna walk the canal, visit the National Gallery of Canada and have high tea at the Chateau Laurier-fancy!!!

I grew up in this State, south from here in Syracuse where Katrina and I met. I am feeling nostalgic as we drive through the little towns here, the clusters of beautiful old homes, many build of limestone and brick, with add-on screened-in porches, gingerbread curlicues, some in good shape and many in disrepair. According to Annie, the folks around are quite poor. Small farmers can't make a go of it and are working at convenience stores and gas stations to make ends meet. The winters are brutal with lots of snow and gray skies. Very cold. I remember when spring arrived when I was a kid. Suddenly, it seemed, the air smelled of mud and there were buds on the trees and trillium at the edges of the forested areas. Here there are clumps of trillium everywhere. Along the river where Annie lives are small homes and mostly elderly folk. Annie knows everyone and watches out for people, the next door neighbors, the recently widowed gal she stopped to talk to yesterday.

When I think of Seattle, I feel the burden of the masses of people who live there, the masses of folks who are crowding the highways and jostling for affordable housing. I feel the burden on the land and water, the greedy reach for luxury and comfort and the suffering of the natural world that is being pushed out by massive housing construction everywhere. It's quite a contrast.

Here, the wind up clock is ticking and one of the cats is snoring. Sparky has a bit of a weight problem but we're working on it.

The day begins with red wing blackbirds in the reeds, calling to one another.


Thursday, May 09, 2019

Dance

This is Clark, surely one of the most magical people I know. He disappeared for 2 years and then, poof! appeared again with green scarfie things to twirl around while dancing. He sings and makes altars. I love him sooooo much.

Sometimes there are people who you are so grateful to have met. You love them right away and you take them back no matter what kinda trouble they've gotten themselves into. That's Clark. No matter what. You love them while they're trying to learn how to love themselves.

You just love them through everything.

Monday, May 06, 2019

I know you are wondering what is going on here. The family is burning the cord to seal it, twisting and burning. The baby is on the momma under the pan. Quite effective. I saw it the next day.

Then there's the family with a goat who sleeps on a dog bed in their room.

I tell you. As long as I live, I will not have seen everything as in: "I've seen everything..."

Enjoy the day. It is beautiful here. I attacked the laurel and whacked it WAY back. It likes that treatment. It is plotting to come back even stronger than before. I can hear the leaves and trunks whispering even from here.

If you are wondering what exactly the cauliflower pizza crust from TJs tastes like, I will tell you. It tastes like a soggy saltine cracker mash which has been formed into a pancake and after it's cooked, the edges are slightly crispy. A delivery method for sauce, fake sausage and cheese. Not an incomparable NY style thin crust made of WHEAT. Nope. There are some things that just can't be substituted.

If you  haven't watched the Netflix Knock Down The House, please help yourself. Four women, running for Congress, including the sparkling AOC. All of them deserved to win, only one did. But bless them for trying and for showing us what courage and vulnerability looks like.

To facilitate a Alateen meeting tonight. Another group of awesome people.

Thursday, May 02, 2019

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypHZbtqSU48

Go. Now.

See this movie, produced by Spike Lee. It will heal you and give you hope.

My friend Nancy and I went tonight and the theatre was full of church going folks who hollered and clapped and 'um-hum'd' and when we left our feet did not touch the ground. And Nancy said this is the medicine that drives out the poison. And she's right.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Such good fortune to be close to this beautiful urban forest. Where Felix and I go almost every day. Someone in labor tonight and I'll be getting a call so better go to bed. Saw babies and pregnant mommas all day. Tired, very tired. 

Friday, April 26, 2019

For being so wee, hummingbirds are pretty fierce. They don't share at the feeder and they 'chirp' very loudly at one another to move aside.

In spite of that, their flashing magenta and green startle my heart.



Time to visit my pea patch. At least there is no roaming chicken to dig and eat my starts.

 
Love after love 
The time will come
When, with elation,
You will greet yourself arriving
At your own door, in your own mirror,
And each will smile at the other's welcome,
 
And say, sit here, Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
To itself, to the stranger who has loved you
 
All your life, whom you ignored
For another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,
 
The photographs, the desperate notes,
Peel your image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

                                      Derek Walcott

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Posted: 17 Apr 2019 12:00 AM PDT
Michael Lavers
WILL EXULT OVER YOU WITH LOUD SINGING
That’s my dad, I say, pointing to the man in the photograph
with thin grey hair reflecting river-light.
And that’s my mom. My arch of nose, my chin.
I’m talking to my children, talking the way I do
about things that are not lost, that are still here,
knowing that it’s no use, that time and decay
do not obey language; that the dumb flesh of a tree,
for instance, doesn’t care about Samantha,
which word my son, ten years from now,
will carve into it;
doesn’t distinguish between the pain of his love for her,
and any old pain: woodpecker, beetle, axe, frost, flame.
* * *
Once, when I said she could not play
with a dead mouse, my daughter wailed so loud
I thought she might break.
This was in Great Falls, next to a riverbank
wafted with small blue moths. We’d strayed
from the playground near an overpass where people
seemed to be sleeping or hovering around fires.
She yelled Mine, astounding even herself, as if at the end
of the scream she thought there might be nothing left,
nothing of her,
nothing to listen to in this world.
* * *
The sad mechanic exercise …
—Tennyson
My mother was finishing a master’s degree
in psychiatric nursing, writing a thesis
on gambling addiction, on people who wear diapers
so they can stay at slot machines for hours,
even days,
and when we asked her if we should try
to get the last course waived and the degree granted
before it was too late, she said nothing,
as if keeping new and hidden counsel
with herself, or with someone not present.
And my father,
dead ten years later of a heart attack
in the bathroom of a movie theatre—the ticket-taker
panting out that sad mechanic CPR—he must have felt
a terrible silence growing inside him, or a noise
too loud to hear, the crashing stillness after
a long inertia, the indifference
of that small wet machine suddenly reluctant to bear
for one more second
the weight of his body. As if the soul
at the end of a long journey
finally stepped through a door and put down its luggage.
Thinking, maybe, if he listened hard enough
he could make out
why stars had lost their willingness to dazzle,
or where they were going—through what dark nimbus
or invisible crack—and why without him,
why so fast.
* * *
Once as a child I drove a hammer’s claw into
the trunk of one of the small maples
lining our driveway,
peeling bark away in strips as thick as fingers
to the underflesh, the soft wet honey-gold,
tinted a bit off-pink, off-green.
It was like being, or imagining that I could be,
everywhere at once, light
right there in the palm of my hand,
made still and, well,
mine,
in ruins. Light’s unsingable psalm,
a thing outside
our sad economy of come and go.
A brief end to stagnation, briefly glimpsed.
My father was angry, but mostly bewildered.
He stared for a while, then said only
that the hammer wasn’t mine to take, and that the tree
wasn’t mine to do whatever I thought I was doing to it.
And what are you doing to it, he said, and I said
I don’t know.
* * *
Poor flesh, love says, baring her teeth.
Poor agitation of heat, of stars, shaking and far away.
Van Gogh in the final letter to his brother Theo:
Well, my own work,
I am risking my life for it and my reason
has half foundered because of it—that’s all right.
It’s true no metaphor can save us, store us
like gravel in the cheek of Hallelujah Creek,
Creek of Unclottable Light.
But that’s alright.
Why not exist, at least for each other,
in love and thickly streaked and made to end,
believing if not everything at least
one of the minor prophets, maybe,
Zephaniah: he will rejoice over you with gladness;
he will quiet you by his love;
he will exult over you with loud singing.
* * *
That’s my mom I say to my kids,
that look she has like mine, of somebody enduring
happiness, expecting grief. And that, I say,
is her diploma, framed and hanging on the wall.
This is your breakfast, bananas and toast and jam,
our one life, ours in the only sense
that matters, something that we make … make what?
Come forth, I think,
like stars, all flicker and distance, prodigal and dim,
but not so dim that if they vanished
we would not weep every night,
or stop trying, though we knew we couldn’t,
to describe them,
to remember.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Dears,

Just streamed a Netflix series called 'Special', written and acted by a gay man with CP. It's wonderful and funny and poignant and all that.

Did I say funny? And gay sex and swearing...

Each episode is only 15 minutes and I can tell you, it'll leave you wanting more.

More please, Ryan O'Connell.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

About to take the dog out for our daily walk. Danced with wild abandon last night and today I feel...fine. Hard to get up from my cushion after meditating but hey, still moving.

I told my friend Ryan last night that I'd totally date him if I were much younger and straight. He laughed, thanked me and we danced together on the floor, rolling around. There was one guy last night who wore very tight black shorts and a shirt. Last night he took off his shirt (um, eww) and wriggled in front of the mirror for an hour. I was chastising myself for being so judgmental but really I was having the age old argument with myself that women don't do that in public but men can. Harumph.

Feeling lonely lately. I so cherish my solitude and quiet. Often I don't listen to music unless I'm playing the piano. Just incidental sounds from airplanes, the washing machine, occasional barks from the dog.

But.

Loneliness creeps in and  I feel a well of sadness that lives in my psyche. I've been investigating it and finding the same dichotomy: needing significant time alone and wanting companionship. Friends are great. My various communities are nurturing. The Dharma reminds me that we're never really alone...but there is it. Loneliness washes over me. I so relate to other elders who populate the hot tub at my local pool, their need to talk, to relate, to be touched by the hot water. Indeed, it's a regular social whirl over there. Folks come just to sit in the tub. They don't even get in the pool.

So I sit with my lonely self. I don't usually descend into self pity. I continue to dive underneath the feelings to see what's there. And from there I can find comfort for those feelings, that abandoned child, girl, and woman who finally has the luxury of time. I say that because I think I spent years trying to get here, with working, raising children, having intimate relationships. I was always reaching for....myself. Now here I am.

As a line in a book I am reading right now has said, "Who am I?'

Who indeed.

Friday, April 05, 2019

I sponsor two young women in Alanon. Alanon is a program for family and friends of alcoholics and addicts. And in my case, mental illness and suicide. You who read here know some of this.
Today one of my sponsees called to tell me that she resisted stealing a pack of printer paper from her son's school which led to a long discussion of honesty.

There is the precept in Buddhism which says that we 'undertake the precept to refrain from taking that which is not freely offered.'

Ah yes. The small and the large. We concluded that honesty can be tied to happiness. I once went to a big box store for gardening stuff and realized that I hadn't paid for a pair of clippers, about 7 bucks. I went back into the store with the clippers and paid for them. The clerk was surprised and said the store wouldn't have even known.

I would have known. A far cry from my youth when stealing was some kind of subversive act. And perhaps the clerk thought about the woman who came in and paid for a pair of clippers because she was honest..at least that day.

More difficult are interactions with others. Do I steal time and attention from my friends? Do I hijack conversations by calling attention to myself?

I think about the times I've been robbed. While I work to forgive the thieves and to let go of the objects they've stolen, I'm also aware of the vast economic disparities that creates desperation.

I think about the times I've lied, exaggerated, and obfuscated. Honesty encompasses all of life, it seems. To say what we mean, to speak plainly, but with kindness, timeliness, and humility. How often do I watch my mouth so what I say is not going to hurt others?

Honesty feels positively old fashioned.

Listening to Mozart's Requiem right now. May spring bless us all.