Tuesday, December 28, 2021

 We have 6? 7? inches of snow here. Yes we do. And freezing temperatures. On Friday I had a sore throat and so I went on the hunt for a covid test. Ha! You try it, the day before xmas. I went from one site to another, to no avail. I finally found a test (for $250!!) by the airport. All the other cars in the parking lot were Mercedes and Teslas. And me in the Honda. 

Now I just have a wicked cold but no covid. Kenny is positive for covid but he's holding up. We check in each morning. I went to the store yesterday bundled up to the eyes because I was out of everything and a couple was standing outside the store laden with bags. They asked if I'd lend them my phone as Uber wasn't picking up. I declined then thought what the heck and asked where they needed to go. Not far away at all. So I drove them home to their kids. They gave me a twenty which I refused but they insisted. Insisted. 

I've lost touch with reality, honestly. I'm all snotty and fuzzy-headed. I let the dog out and he tracks snow through the entire house. I'm trying to work but it seems impossible. I've canceled Teen Feed for this Friday. Too many cancellations and covid is raging and it's 23 degrees here. No one should be driving anywhere. The TF staff was very gracious. We're on again for April. Kellie already bought 3 hams and she thinks she'll just drop them off at the church. I can't even think about kids outside in this weather. It's criminal. Unconscionable. While I sit here in my warm house. 

The hummingbird feeders froze and one broke in two. I bring them in at night so they can thaw out and then hang them out again in the morning. I'm gonna spread more bird seed outside for the chickadees and juncos and crows. Heck, whoever needs some food. 

It's supposed to snow again on Thursday. By then I will be well enough to get my skis out so I can tour the neighborhood. 

I might be losing my mind a little bit. Hopefully only the parts I no longer need. 

Thursday, December 23, 2021

 Charles Dickens describes Scrooge as "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint,... secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster."

I so love this description of Scrooge as I ready myself for the umpteenth viewing of the glorious black and white version of A Christmas Carol with Alistair Sim in the lead role. His delight in finding that he's not dead (yet) is such a transcendent scene. 

Have I ever been a Scrooge? Surely I have as a human on this earth. We all have. And some of us have had the great good fortune to be able to serve and care for others. It is in giving and receiving that our hearts open and expand. 

My neighbor told me today how much money she makes. It was rather a lot and I instantly thought that money can certainly ease life. But more and more money is just...numbers as an old girlfriend used to say. 

I have a house to live in, a furnace that works, warm clothes and plenty of food. Lucky. I am lucky.

I met Ajahn Kovilo, a young monk, down at the market yesterday morning very early. He walks there during the week with his begging bowl, a big metal bowl covered with a brown cloth. I brought warm rice and veggies and chocolate to give him. He eats once a day before noon. This is part of his practice. I parked my car and walked along in the dark and cold morning. I had knitted him a hat to keep his bald head warm. (Temps here are going down below freezing). As I walked along, I saw folks under sleeping bags on the sidewalk. There were few people out. As I hit the corner of the market, the smells of cinnamon, smoked meats, coffee and spices filled the air. I waited for him to appear and down the sidewalk he came, in his cedar colored robes. He was unhurried, socks and flip flops on his feet. Seeing him there was almost like an apparition. In Asia, monks and nuns are everywhere. Here in the US, not so much. Cultures, worlds, centuries collided. 

I'll go again next week. 

Over my desk is a photo of my cousin and her young son. They are both gone, to homelessness, mental illness and suicide. My brother is next to them. He too is gone. Then there is Allison Streeter, a block of a woman who swam the English Channel to France and back THREE  times. My grandson is there, as a baby and a high school grad. 

Where am I going with all this? Not sure. 

Why are we here? To love Keith Richard, to make art, to care for our loved ones. To be kind. In spite of or because of. To be kind. To wake up, like Scrooge, on any morning, and realize we're finite and what we do, how we live, matters. 

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Monday, December 20, 2021

 Dear Friends-

The rain is raining all around. 

It falls on fields and trees.

It's raining on umbrellas here.

And on the ships at sea.

                                Robert Lewis Stevenson

For days and days and days and filling the mountains with snow. Yesterday was sunny and we all went out dazzled by the brightness and the blue sky. Last night just off a full moon inside a wide ring. So much crazy weather and loss of life everywhere but here the gray and wet so familiar. The old Seattle with puddles and streams and rivers of water over the roadways.

As the year ends, ready for a few more busy clinic days. Before work, I will be going down to Pike Market, a busy market on the edge of Puget Sound to offer alms to a young monk I have met a few times. He travels to Seattle by ferry very early to stand in the market with his bowl and his robes. He and another monk are offering weekly Dharma talks to the community and their aspiration is to find land on which to provide a Thai forest refuge for themselves, other monastics (including women) and the lay community. I have sat with them twice. They are both Westerners who trained in Thailand and returned here to build a community in the PNW.Very exciting. 

Oh, offering alms means I will bring a lot of prepared food as he eats once a day...I remember well the daily meal we had when I was in Burma. 

After feeling purposeless for so long and with the winding down of my health care life, I am energized by the thought of starting my chaplaincy studies and engaging with this new community. The monks are so sweet. One if them graduated from college in 2012! so he's what? 30? Beyond their teaching, their earnestness has really touched me. Their desire to live the way the Buddha did but in the West is so touching and so...crazy. In the East, monks and nuns are everywhere and the community takes care of them, feeding and clothing them. In exchange, they offer the teachings freely. I guess most faiths have this component. Buddhist monastics are not able to handle money, drive, cook, etc. They rely on the community for everything. Transplant that to the West. I can only imagine a lone monk in ocher robes standing in the market with the tourists and the regulars swirling around them. 

Just had a dinner with a few friends and it was so joyful. We laughed so much we cried. As the virus may shut us away again, it was delightful to spend an evening with beloved people. 

What, you may ask, is this? Eden is in S Africa supporting a group of women who are walking a labyrinth for seven hours for seven days chanting a mantra, oh and painted red. On seven continents. It's an art/environmental/justice piece and Eden is cooking and supporting the project. And she's not my hippie child. The other one is. 

I continue to be amazed by my children.

Love to you all in the dark and rainy season. 

Monday, December 13, 2021


I've been accepted into the chaplaincy program and I mistakenly paid for the entire first year. Oops. I fortunately had enough money in my account to cover it. In March I'll be attending the first retreat and meeting my fellow classmates. 

In the meantime, I better take in all the movies and read all the fiction books and go for all the hikes and see all the friends that I won't see for two years. 


I got a rejection letter from The Sun today. And you know what. The short story I sent them was just fine and well written. My old writing teacher would always say, "Believe in your work, love your work." She's right. 

Carry on, dear friends. Make your art. Make your beautiful art. I'll go learn how to be a chaplain. 


Friday, December 03, 2021

 Dear friends-

Well, I've applied the the Buddhist chaplaincy program and waiting to hear if I get in...talked with my friend Rachel about one of the questions and now I have doubts about how I answered. 

This is called....*anxiety from being inside for two years*.  It is not mindfulness or calm or peace or any of those words. Jeezus. 

Another friend and I met for lunch and we went to a cathedral nearby to look at the stained glass and the Mary statues. Both were beautiful. Yes, it was a Catholic church and boy they have some pretty real estate. I reminded myself that the church ripped off pre-christian cultures and appropriated seasonal change festivals and Earth mother images to get the peasants to come along. Oh, and they burned a bunch of people, mostly women, for being witches. There's that. We won't even mention pedophile priests. 

I have been thinking about organized religion in general these days. The creation of false divisions among people has caused unimaginable suffering. Depending on what we believe, we are either friend or foe. And therefore worthy of clobbering. Listening to a news report about Northern Ireland and the new rise of Sinn Fein, I'm reminded of the conflict between the Catholics and the Protestants in that part of the world. 

Even Buddhists. All religion is populated with human beings. And we are fallible, especially the ones who claim to have inside information or direct lines to some supernatural being. So many charlatans over so many years. And we follow them, hoping for redemption or an answer to our sorrow or some kind of certainty. 

What is it about us, that we long for a belief system so we don't have to think for ourselves. We don't have to face our own aging, sickness and death. I don't mean to be morbid here, just realistic. When I met the boy in the boat on Ganges across from the burning ghats, I understood that we humans can have vastly different ideas about our own mortality. For some of us, it's the promise of heaven. For others it's reincarnation that keeps us going. Sin, unskillful actions, commandments or precepts, all are exhortations to behave, in one way or another. 

There is also the opportunity to be kind, respectful and loving. Because it is who we are. We are the worst and we're the best. Just as we can understand how others can kill and revile and do hateful things, we can also choose a different way. Eden and I were talking about the show, "Call the Midwife", running for many seasons on BBC. She asked why we love it so. We have watched it together, tears leaking from our eyes. I realized it's because the characters; the young midwives and the nuns, are kind. They are working with poor women and their babies and they get entangled in the families and the community. They show up, caring beyond their duties as medical folks. We can all think of people like them. We are people like them, maybe not all the time, but we know what it means to be kind to others, just because it is the right thing to do.

Ok, I put a coat on the dog. He was shivering on the back porch and it's time for a long walk. He feels humiliated wearing a plaid blanket on his back. Silly Felix. 

May all be warm and safe.