Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Been back a while. Boy o boy, kicked my ass. The mountains were beautiful. Lake Chelan is the deepest lake in the country and about 60 miles long, glacier carved and fed so it was cold. Yes, I went swimming. Once. VERY COLD but so clear, could see the bottom. We did trail work everyday, hiking in 3 1/2 miles to the site and 3 1/2 miles out. My feet hurt, My legs hurt, my back and arms, well you get the picture. We ate massive amounts of carbs. 

Anxiety is my new friend. Well, she's actually been there forever but newly expressed. Not fun. Waves of anxiety from outta nowhere then...nothing. It's annoying, to say the least. 

All my clothes feel tight. I lost 10 pounds over the last few years but I think it's all back. Who cares? I do. I hate wearing clothes at all and when they feel tight, I get grumpy.  Again I say, who cares?

Fired off another paper to chaplaincy today. This one about the precepts. The book, Being Upright by Reb Anderson was excellent. I massively underlined and highlighted. May have to read it again.  What are the precepts you may ask. They are a guide for living with heart and skillfulness, y'know do no harm-which is impossible BTW.

Last night I had dinner with one of my dear gay boyfriends. We were talking about series we love and we drifted into talking about The L Word, a silly Hollywood style lesbian soapy series. I disparaged the series because it was SO unrealistic. Fancy beautiful model type women with their dramas and the like. Yuck, hardly real. But I loved Queer as Folk, gay men all the time (in Pittsburg, surely NOT a gay mecca) who were being, ahem, very sexually active a lot. A lot. Anyway.  

And I learned this: he LOVED The L Word and hated Queer as Folk because of the representation of gay men being indiscriminately sexual with whomever. All the time. Ok, fair enough. On the other hand, the women talked to each other and cared about their relationships. 

So. this morning on my swim with Clark, my main gay boyfriend, I inquired about the two series (as a scientific experiment) and he SAID THE SAME THING. 

Then I asked Kenny, my gay boyfriend neighbor, and he LIKED Queer as Folk and never heard of The L Word and wouldn't watch it when I told him what is was about. 

So there you have it -2:1. I have my new friend JR, the millennial in the sample size to ask. He's probably never heard of either series. I will get back to you about this. 

I mean what does it all signify? Absolutely nothing, I'm sure. Except that life is a great mystery.


"To live in this world you must be able to do three things,

Love what is mortal, hold it against your bones as if your life depended on it

and when the time comes to let it go, let it go."

                                                                             -Mary Oliver


A grasshopper walked into a bar and the bartender said, "Hey, we have a drink named after you!"

The grasshopper relied, "You have a drink named Steve?"

Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Here is an example of a rakusu, a Zen bib that we hand sew. Hope that helps. 


https://tricycle.org/magazine/buddhas-robe/ 


When I get back from the mountains, I will tell you all about it.

This morning I got up at 5:40 AM and went to the lake for a swim with Allison. In the water, we watched a gorgeous sunrise. I came home, picked all the grapes and prepped them for jelly. Then I made a blueberry pie. 

I offer each of you a big slice. 

Monday, September 05, 2022

 Dear friends-

I am frankly stalling. I leave for my mountain trail building week on Friday. The grapes are all ripe at once, of course and I have to pick and prepare them for ?? jelly?? when I get back from the mountains. I've been harvesting thyme, drying it and grinding it up for use. And I promised a blueberry pie to friends before Thursday. My rakusa is coming along (all hand sewing, mind you) and I have to write a paper or two before I leave. Ghaaa. 

Anxiety rising in this moment. After writing to throw myself into my darling lake. Fixes everything. 

Wedding plans coming along. Diane is the queen of organizing, unlike me. Well, I managed to get in an application for a spot on the lake, a bath house with a nice little beach. 

Eden will do food, no music except for Clark singing. Very simple please. Our rings came and they're very pretty. 

After we say 'I do', everyone can go for a swim. I know I will. 

I can feel the plant world withdrawing into themselves as fall approaches. Can't you? 

                  

                        Woods                  by Louise Bozan

I part the out thrusting branches and come in beneath

the blessed and blessing trees

Though I am silent

there is singing around me

Though I am dark

there is vision around me

Though I am heavy

there is flight around me

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Dean Young has died-RIP dear poet

 

Delphiniums in a Window Box
by Dean Young

Every sunrise, sometimes strangers’ eyes.
Not necessarily swans, even crows,
even the evening fusillade of bats.
That place where the creek goes underground,
how many weeks before I see you again?
Stacks of books, every page, character’s
rage and poet’s strange contraption
of syntax and song, every song
even when there isn’t one.
Every thistle, splinter, butterfly
over the drainage ditches. Every stray.
Did you see the meteor shower?
Every question, conversation
even with almost nothing, cricket, cloud,
because of you I’m talking to crickets, clouds,
confiding in a cat. Everyone says
Come to your senses, and I do, of you.
Every touch electric, every taste you,
every smell, even burning sugar, every
cry and laugh. Toothpicked samples
at the farmer’s market, every melon,
plum, I come undone, undone.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

Well, dear ones. I have finished my 10 day retreat/training with Upaya, the Zen Center and boy howdy, I'm still recovering. 12 hour days on zoom is gross. I will remind myself that I am immensely grateful that I have the time and money to do this program at all. But sheesh. Getting up at  4:45 to meditate and then we're off to the races with more sits and walking and some breaks when I ran down to the lake and threw myself in.

Now I have to write eleventy hundred papers, read more books, finish my rakasu, make an ancestral lineage chart X 3 on mulberry paper, do more volunteer hours and make three more field trips. No problem. Most of this by the end of December. 

I gardened this morning before the heat, watered everything and contemplated which plants are truly dead and which ones I need to prune. I know nothing about pruning. Nothing. I'm averse to it but if this garden of mine doesn't get room to breathe, they will have to hack through the underbrush to find my front door. 

In two weeks I go to Holden Village to be on a trail building 'vacation' with Washington Trails Association. We're gonna stay in a Lutheran camp and move out from there every day. No tent camping, hooray! And there's a sauna. After the first 7 hour day, I will probably need to be carried back to base but there is another old queer who is going and we can keep each other company in our oldness. 

Don't know if I've said this here but I've been exploring my 'identity'. For a long time there were a few choices: to be lesbian and be butch or femme. Definitely on the femme side. But now there are a plethora of choices and the lesbian never really 'fit'. Vacillating between non-binary and gender queer. I was using non-binary but have settled on gender queer. A better moniker for me. Even though ultimately there is no gender or labels or whatever. 

Our wedding rings came while I was on retreat. Have to investigate whether it is more advantageous to be unofficially married for tax reasons. Must ask my tax guy. Regardless, next July it is. With a party and family and friends. I just hope it isn't a terribly hot day...

Ok, I must get back to the business of writing a paper I started this morning. I will reward myself with  a swim.

Much everlasting love

Sunday, August 07, 2022

 

There I am. Without swimming I'm done for. I hope they can lower me into the water when I'm too old to get there on my own.


Friday, August 05, 2022

 Dear friends-


I did it. I swam from Martha Washington to Seward Park with Robb on a paddle board beside me. I alternated between anxiety, fear, elation and calm. The water was mostly calm with some wavy bits. I found myself grinning the closer and closer I got to the shoreline. It's about 1/2 mile, I guess. No soreness the next day either. I am officially a badass. 


Now next challenge...swim a longer distance, right?

Sweet young Nik came over and tiled my backsplash in 2 days. Beautiful. However getting the outlets back into the spaces he left has presented a challenge for me to solve. Ah well. 

Starting a mindfulness based childbirth class tonight, goes all weekend. Unfortunately the blue angels (yuck, nothing about them is angelic) will be overhead. They are 30 BILLION dollars fighter jets that do formations in the sky directly over our neighborhood. They are incredibly LOUD and scary. This happens every year.

Just visited an Olmstead park in my old neighborhood. The Volunteer coordinator contacted me because I'm looking for volunteer hours for chaplaincy. And she wants me to initiate sitting/walking meditations (!) among the greenhouses and the gorgeous trees, some of which are more than 100 years old. There's even a gigantic sequoia on the grounds. I am screaming, I'm so excited. What she/they want is exactly what I want to be doing. The one catch is making $$ for the park, after a two year shut down, they're pretty broke. I can ask for dana donations. I of course, require no $$. We also talked about bringing in folks who need to rest their anxious/fearful minds and hearts from the current fuckery, to allow them to rest and give and get love from the trees. The conservatory is gorgeous too and we walked through the back lot where the maturing plants are. 

Well, time for a swim in my big momma lake. Sooooo grateful she is so near by. 

Pema Chodron, in the new edition of When Things Fall Apart, reminds us the this moment is the path, just this moment with its' misery, joy, confusion, anger and peace. The only path we're on. This living moment. 

May we all walk with awareness in this present and precious moment. 

Much big love. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2022

 It's summer hot here today and I'm volunteering at Kubota gardens, one of my favorite places. It's normal hot here today, unlike other parts of the country. 

Pulling weeds is what I can do. Following the news is painful so I avoid it. The NYT is my source, already a week old. I read once that a man in the outback of Alaska came into town once a year for supplies and he was given the daily papers from the previous year, all the news that was a year old. He started with January one and went through each day with a year old paper. How would that be? Knowing what happened the year before, thinking about it with no recourse to fret about it (well, I suppose you could) but it was all in the past. I don't think I could read the daily paper from 2021 without breaking down. Or maybe I'd just stick to the crosswords and Wordle and what the celebrities are up to. You know, Spanks and designer clothes and the Oscars. Really important stuff. 

My AC is a beautiful thing. 

Well, I better go get my gardening jam on. A hat. Sunscreen. Sandals. I already have my bathing suit on for later. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Dear ones,

I have been working to figure out how/what the hell am I doing with chaplaincy, whatever that might be. 

I have thought I'd be helping traumatized healthcare workers who have witnessed terrible things at their jobs. Where is the respite for us???

But.

As I go through this journey I have discovered that I am being pulled toward my non-human friends. All of the Earth. Her trees and frogs and birds and rocks and waterfalls and more trees. Diane and I did a hike called Lake 22 up by Granite Falls, north of Seattle. 

It was spectacular. And hard. The old growth trees were the largest old growth I've even seen in the PNW.  Trail ended at a snow fed alpine lake. We scrambled over rocks and sweated and ate our peanut butter sandwiches. There were so many trees, so many beautiful trees. I told Diane I wanted to do my chaplaincy right there, among those old women. 

Haven't we always loved the Earth? As children we discovered the smells and sounds and creatures as we lay on our stomachs watching the most minute bugs and snails and the occasional garter snake. I would crawl under the bushes in my yard and construct tiny houses for the fairies who lived there. I climbed trees just to sit there and look out at the world. 

I told my teacher that I felt loving the Earth was somehow less important than ministering to humans. She gently reminded me that we are not separate from all of life, that we are inextricably bound to Her body, fed from Her body, one day to return to her body. 

Well, of course. 

So how do I enter into an intimacy with the Earth herself? I know and I don't know. 

She is our mother and we are all her children. How could I have forgotten? 

I'm being called home.  Home.

Saturday, July 09, 2022

 Here I admit things I don't anywhere else. I guess I'm willing to be embarrassed in a post. 

I have watched Young Royals twenty eleven thousand times. It's beautiful and heartbreaking and sexy and troubling. The acting is gorgeous. Season two can't come soon enough. Like HeartStoppers. Jeezus, adolescence. As the art teacher in HeartStoppers says, "Being a teenager is terrible."

Rachel, a buddy in my chaplaincy program texted me this:

"I'm just gonna watch teen television, work at a cemetery and pretend the world doesn't exist." My sentiments exactly, well maybe not the cemetery part (part of her volunteer hours). 

I still cry so often. Am I depressed? Scared? Overwhelmed? All of it? Boris Johnson is gone and that's good. 

In an hour I go pick up Diane (AKA Jolene, my preferred nickname for her as she is from the south). We'll hold hands in the car, I'll cry some more, we'll walk the dog and then we'll go to the spa for soaks and massages and Korean food in their little cafe. Then we'll come back to my house and we will just be together. I can hug her and she can hug me. We'll talk and laugh and get serious about trust and love. I don't know how to do any of this and I'm not sure I ever did. Me and the teens being all awkward and clumsy and weird as we try to figure it out. 

GAWD. 

For fucksake I'm OLD. 

Love you all. 



Wednesday, July 06, 2022

 Dare I write this? December 3rd, 2022.

We're gonna get married. OMG. I know I thought I would marry someone back in 2017 and that was a HUGE mistake.  And I didn't marry her. This is not a mistake. Diane;  funny, talkative, quirky, thoughtful, tender, trustworthy and lovable, this person who I have loved forever. So much history, so much water under the bridge.

We needed to grow up, deal with our shit and land (in our 70's!) with our open hearts. 

If we lose our constitutional right to marry, we'll be ok in Washington State. Jeezus.

Because of Roe, I'm coming out all over again. At this age, I'm invisible anyway. So I'm owning it and letting people know. This is what a queer person looks like. We're everywhere. As I have made my way through many documentaries about queers and trans folk, the damage it has done to people who can't come out or the people who do or can't hide who they are who have been shamed and shunned and beat up and killed, I have to show up for them. Maybe I posted this before but I'll keep saying this. 

May we all be free from fear and hate. May we all live lives of beauty and peace.

Tonight we go dancing together. In a candle lit room with gorgeous music. Every day, every minute is precious.

 

Friday, July 01, 2022

 

 Let Them Not Say

 - 1953-

Let them not say:   we did not see it.
We saw.

Let them not say:   we did not hear it.
We heard.

Let them not say:     they did not taste it.
We ate, we trembled.

Let them not say:   it was not spoken, not written.
We spoke,
we witnessed with voices and hands.

Let them not say:     they did nothing.
We did not-enough.

Let them say, as they must say something: 

A kerosene beauty.
It burned.

Let them say we warmed ourselves by it,
read by its light, praised,
and it burned.

Friday, June 24, 2022

 Today at the pool, a young pregnant woman asked how I was. I replied that it wasn't my best day. She teared up and said she was worried about her daughter who will be born in September. I cried with her as she said, "And I'm gay".

I worry about my trans friends and my queer friends. And all the women who will have to carry unwanted pregnancies or who will attempt to miscarry and hurt or kill themselves. I worry about the poor and marginalized. 

Dangerous times. United States we are not.

We are not. 

Thursday, June 23, 2022

 Dear friends-


$125.35-------Current student loan balance

                                                          PAID IN FULL

I graduated in 2002, yep, twenty years ago. 


Time for a small celebration. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

 My dears,

I'm back from the wilds of California (and many driving hours and $$$ gas money) to spend time with my family, well, parts of my family. My grandson is lovely and wonderful and my heart bursts with pride to spend time with him. He's polite and funny and nice to everyone. His girlfriend came (wearing braces) and they are traveling to Greece with her family this summer and then they have agreed to part ways as love interests because they want to explore others and themselves. What teenagers are so deliberate and thoughtful? He even asked if I minded that he drank a beer??? I reminded him of my family hx of alcoholism and the evils of alcohol in general. But I was so impressed that he ASKED ME. Of course he can have a beer, dearest boy. There were more adults around than kids and we were in the middle of nowhere. He's a sensible guy and I can't explain how much I love him. 

My old girlfriend came too. Last minute she called and we arranged for her to fly to Sacramento where I would pick her up...it was wild, added miles and time to my drive but I didn't mind. We'll see each other again in October...and December...and February. Be still, my heart. We talked endlessly and laughed and held  each other and kissed. At our ages, honestly. Her kisses still make my toes curl. And that's all we did.

I have been reflecting on all of this rekindling and I have realized some things. 

My mindfulness and meditation practice is affected by some excitement and distraction. I'm noticing and tending to these feelings with curiosity and tenderness. 

When I came out many years ago, she was the first person  I fell deeply in love with. Deeply. In. Love. We had so much to work on and over the years, we have. She's still the same and she's totally different. Just like me. I  have released her over and over, with anger, resignation, sorrow, all the ways. 

Now I have no expectations. We may visit each other 4-5 times a year and live on opposite sides of the country. Maybe we'll live together again one day. I don't know. Before, everything felt so important, so imperative. Now, I'm ok alone and I'm ok with her. Both ways are satisfying and peaceful. 

Back in Seattle, one of the midwives has covid (natch), so I'm on call today, tomorrow and Saturday. I really hope I can go to Pride on Sunday. This year feels so important to show up. 

Before our rights are taken away. When I think of my beloveds who are queer and trans and non-binary, I feel so much sadness and fear. Losing Roe, what's next. So I will go downtown and cheer and yell for all the drag queens and muscle boys and marching bands and dykes on bikes and all of us in our variety and glory. I will remember the ones we lost along the way; to AIDS and hate crimes, addiction and suicides. 

Living with this undefended heart is so hard-to just let the pain and sorrow in, to feel it, to tend to it, without hatred and anger. 

I will be there  for Tommy and James and Jim and Crazy Thunder and Clark and Paul and Chase and Richard and Kenny and Alison and Hazel and Micha and Diane and Robin and Gina  and Michi and Holly and Judith and Hazel and Raven and so many others, for all of us who came out.







Saturday, June 11, 2022

Me and Clark saw/heard/experienced this musician and I must say my wee mind was     BLOWN    by gale force winds. There were pianos and strings and a drummer and they're from Iceland which might be in another galaxy. This group had been cancelled twice in Seattle over the last few years because of, you know, and they were so GRATEFUL to be performing in front of a live audience. 

Clark and I cried and gasped and held hands. I'll send another clip of them. Absolutely phenomenal.  

Ólafur Arnalds - Zero

Wednesday, June 01, 2022

Dear friends-

It has been a rough week. Today feeling better, some better. The sorrow of the world bears down. We are in this together, of that I am sure. And all I know is to love family, friends and strangers alike. Especially the strangers, the most desperate among us. I can't call those that pull the trigger monster. They are someone's child, baby, relative. I recently read that adolescent gunmen are suicidal and wanting to die. They just take others with them and cause untold suffering. But deranged? Sure. But they are someone's kid too.  If we can find a label, then we've 'solved' the problem, contained. That's not how it works. 

We're in a world out of balance. Guns ARE the problem. When will it end? When? And how do we continue to love the world anyway we can? 

Thursday, May 26, 2022

 There is nothing to say right now. I was in ignorance on Tuesday until I wasn't.

How do we bear the most terrible news? We are the mother of the boy with the gun. We are the mother of the dead child on a classroom floor. We are the law enforcement person who rescues their child but not others from the deadly building. We are the governor saying words that don't make sense, that continue to harm. 


And that's all I have. I do not understand my fellow humans. 



Tuesday, May 24, 2022

 Dear friends

Warm and overcast. 

My mind a muddle and my emotions are churning. I'm letting love in again and I don't mean universal, ever expanding love for all beings. I mean love for a particular person. Someone I've known for a long time. And I'm twitterpated. Seriously. I think 'those' feelings have been in the deep freeze for a long time and then the pandemic and all the things. 

Mostly I've been FINE with isolation and quiet. And my practice. I am certainly see how romantic love messes everything up, rearranges everything. As Ronny so famously said in Moonstruck, 

"Loretta, I love you. Not like they told you love is, and I didn't know this either, but love don't make things nice - it ruins everything. It breaks your heart."

So there you have it. I will say no more. To touch into this too deeply, maybe it will go away. For the time being, I'm doing all the usual things; swimming, dog stuff, laundry, gardening. And allowing my heart to open (and break).

Two deep breaths, darlings. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Ólafur Arnalds with friends


Clark and I are going to see them next week!!!

Nancy and I went to The Marriage of Figaro on Saturday. What a blast. I feel semi-normal going to see things. Of course we were masked. 

Music is essential. 

Much love

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

 Dear friends-

Today Diane and I hiked Oyster Dome in Bellingham, about 1 1/2 hours from Seattle. Sunny day, about 5 miles, incredible view at the top of the Sound dotted with islands. However, we, um, took the wrong trail back to the car and ended up WAAAAAYYYY far from the car. So. 

As we neared the road we were not supposed to be on at the end of our hike, and realizing we were lost, a young man ***Johnny*** was just ahead of us and I asked, "would you be willing to drive us to our car?" Without hesitation, he said yes. 


Our angel with the beautiful blue eyes from Ketchikan who is currently working in a nursing home. 

Thank you Johnny. We ended up hiking 8 + miles on our old legs. But the view 


was pretty spectacular. And you saved our bacon. We love you forever. 

Saturday, May 07, 2022

Dear friends-

Studying with Roshi Joan this weekend and just weeping a lot. You know, the kind where the tears just leak out. There are too many things to list so I won't. I know you know.

A bit ago, I got a message from DoorDash telling me my delivery would be a bit late????? I responded that I had't ordered anything from them??? and perhaps they had the wrong number. A while later, a young guy came to my gate with a large vase of flowers from my daughter for mother's day. Ha! He apologized for spoiling the surprise. I was so flummoxed I didn't tip him. Oops.  

Saw an old woman wearing a pussy hat when I walked the dog. It's that time again. Will be writing letters to strangers again to get out the vote. 

We are in the grip of Mordor, I'm afraid. 

I'm angry and sad. 

Meanwhile the garden continues to be extravagantly gorgeous. Nature don't care what we stoopid humans get up to. Still no hummingbirds. I'm worried about them. 

While practicing a death meditation, Felix came in and breathed loudly and fragrantly in my face. He just doesn't let me get too serious. Because he's a goof.

Much love, comrades. Keep up the good fight and love one another fiercely. 

Beth

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Dear friends-

While at the pool today, I hopped into the water just before the swimmer in the other lane got to the wall. Thinking that she was swimming slowly, I'd have time to get ahead of her (always a jostle in the pool with multiple swimmers in a lane). Well, she zoomed by me in the water in time to yell at me at the other end of the lane. I was 'very rude', cutting in front of her. I apologized profusely but she harrumphed off. So I spend the next 20 minutes feeling like a shithead, I mean, how could I be so thoughtless etc. I waited to be sure she'd be gone from the locker room and I got into the hot tub when my fav life guard came over and told me he saw everything. I did nothing wrong. He almost spoke to her but didn't want to rile things up. 

Whew! Tempest in a teapot! 

I think we don't know how to be around people anymore. I surely don't. My feelings are so easily hurt. As my parents always said, I'm too sensitive (whatever that means). 

Anyway, spring here is cold, wet and beautiful. I've planted a tree peony and more azaleas. The apple trees are covered with blossoms and the dogwood is blooming too. I saw one of the cold water swimmers at the pool and she swims year round. She says the water is getting close to being 50 degrees. People, that's too effing cold. 


 My brother rescuing ducklings from a storm drain in Peasant Hills California. He says the mother duck was walking round and round with her 2 babies and when he looked in, there were about 10 ducklings trapped. He moved the grate and plucked them out. My brother the hero. Our father would have done the same thing. 

Haven't seen any babies yet at the lake but two of my three birdhouses have tenants. Chickadees. 

Love to you all. 

Sunday, April 24, 2022

 Today is my death day. One year ago, I started a One Year To Live study and here we are. Next week we are born again. This morning I opened this message from my older daughter and sat crying in the food co-op.


Happy death day mama. 

I’m so glad you will be reborn today xoxoxo


Epitaph  - By Merrit Malloy


When I die

Give what’s left of me away

To children

And old men that wait to die.

And if you need to cry,

Cry for your brother

Walking the street beside you.


And when you need me,

Put your arms

Around anyone

And give them

What you need to give to me.


I want to leave you something,

Something better

Than words

Or sounds.

Look for me

In the people I’ve known

Or loved,

And if you cannot give me away,

At least let me live on in your eyes

And not your mind.


You can love me most

By letting

Hands touch hands,

By letting bodies touch bodies,

And by letting go

Of children

That need to be free.


Love doesn’t die,

People do.

So, when all that’s left of me

Is love,

Give me away.

Saturday, April 16, 2022

 Still unseasonably cold here but the flowers persist. I haven't seen any hummingbirds at all. Wonder where they are. 

Going to work in the greenbelt this morning. We'll be clearing blackberries and ivy. There's a downed tree over the trail, don't know how that will be resolved. There's an abandoned (I think) homeless encampment too so that will be an issue. I walk through the greenbelt all the time so it's time to give back.

Been very busy with clinic. One of the midwives got sick so I stepped in, went to a birth, have done a bunch of home visits and worked an extra day of clinic. It's fun to be with my clinic 'family.' I don't know any other folks who are so funny and cynical and caring, all at the same time. I am reminded that I spend so much time in silence, being in a noisy clinic full of yelling kids  and pregnant women is quite an adjustment. I'm also reminded that the midwives and the office manager are my friends. I care about them and their lives. 

The kaffer lily is blooming, always does around Easter time. As I write this, I looked up the definition of 'kaffir' and found that it is an 'extremely offensive word for a Black South African.' Great. Well, let's give it a new name, k? Any suggestions? 


It has a nice fragrance. BTW, I've had this plant since 1976. Got it as a wedding present.

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

 It snowed (!), then hailed and rained and then the sun came out. The garden is gorgeous right now.

And this is just one tree flouncing her flounces.

Waiting on mothers at the brink of labor. Tomorrow Clark and I will eat delicious food, wear blue hats and watch Moonstruck with Cher and Nicholas Cage. It's pretty much a perfect movie. Because 1) Cher and 2) demented Nicholas. And NYC and the script and accents and the whole thing. 

It always helps to walk around in my neighborhood. There's the vicious doberman where we cross the street so he and Felix don't have a snarling dog argument. There's the fish market with crabs piled on top of each other in tanks. As much as I love crab, I just can't seem to eat them anymore. There's the neighbor with the wild assortment of ceramic elves, frogs, sheep, the baby Jeezus etc. as a tableaux. There's the woman with the beautiful garden and the view of the lake. 

I was thinking about Elizabeth's Sophie today. I met her in LA. The famous Sophie. She radiates love. I don't know how to explain it. She is present in ways most of us aren't. 

The chickadees and juncos are feasting on the seed I spread out for them just now. I haven't seen the hummingbirds lately. Maybe they're tending to their families. 

I just finished a book called The Chimpanzee Whisperer: A Life of Love and Loss, Compassion and Conservation. It's about a Hutu man from Burundi who survived the war and found himself caring for chimps in protected reserves in spite of his third grade education. Because of his great heart and kindness towards the primates most closely linked to homo sapiens he has traveled the world and spoken at the UN and met (of course) Jane Goodall. Oh, and he has bunch of kids, both his and adopted. He is everything Putin and Bezos and half the congress are not. He's a mensch. A good person. 

The thing is, when the Dalai Lama meets anyone and I mean anyone, he treats them as his friend. I'm just not there. 

The last retreat I attended was a deep dive. There were over 200 people on the retreat. I like to think there are many of us who are doing their best to be ethical and kind and generous. Every one of us counts. 


Thursday, April 07, 2022

 Two things happened today that made me cry.

1.  The first Black woman was confirmed to the Supreme Court.

2.   The hot tub at the pool opened. 


Both are occasions for radiant joy, 

Sunday, April 03, 2022

 On another retreat. With 

this guy.

He's German, multiple PhDs, many books, many languages including Chinese and Pali. His books are dense and in person he's funny, kind and wise. I'm enjoying spending time with him and the class of 200+ people on Zoom. 

Spring is well and truly here. The magnolia tree down the street is ridiculously gorgeous. Massive. Covered with flowers. Tiny lettuce and spinach greens poking up through the dirt. 

Much love and kindness radiating all around, dear ones.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

Keith Urban performs "Higher Love" | One World: Together at Home


I told my child I've been listening to Keith Urban and she said, oh mom, NO. I told her I'm officially an elder and I can listen to whatever the fuck I want. 

It's Sunday and pissing rain. The dog is a muddy mess. 


Just out of my recent retreat...


May we realize that this earth is sacred and live accordingly.

May the suffering arising from oppression, hatred, and fear be righted and remedied.

May all those in the grips of insecurity be released to the safety of understanding.

May those weighed down by grief be given over to compassion.

May those lost in delusion find relief in the path of wisdom.

May all wounds to forest, rivers, deserts, oceans, all wounds to the earth be witnessed and healed through our right action.

May we work for the ending of suffering from consumerism, the climate catastrophe, war, economic disparity, racism, sexual violence, and the abuse of children.

May those in refugee camps and prisons find their way home, with our support.

May those who are alone or abandoned by friends and family, and those who are unsheltered find a safe and loving harbor in community.

May we have deep time in practice with each other and in the solitudes, to be taught by sangha and by silence, so that we have the courage and equanimity to be a source of love and wisdom for all beings.

May we all have the health, wisdom and energy to serve in the years ahead.

May all awaken and awaken others.

Roshi Joan Halifax

Thursday, March 17, 2022

 Dear friends-

I am now functioning after my first week of chaplaincy training and boy howdy. It was so intense to be in that container (as they say) for 5 days. Partly I was having trouble keeping up with note taking and the language. My practice is Vipassana and the training is coming from Soto Zen with all sorts of other things thrown in (systems theory anyone?) So to say I was running in place would be putting it mildly. Well they warned us. By language I mean the expressions and buzz words which weren't familiar to me. Kinda like learning a new language where I have some understanding and can make the mental leaps. I was so tired each night...

I have already let go of a few commitments. I just won't have the time. Plus I have papers to write. I'm sitting here procrastinating because I partially wrote one paper yesterday and need to finish it before tomorrow night when I go back into retreat for the weekend. 

Roshi Joan Halifax is remarkable and wise and tough and loving. Even though she's in her early 80's, she was present for most of the classes and she taught a few of them. 

Now I have to figure out how to use Slack, an online platform for groups (ug) and record all my various meetings, classes, book reviews, etc etc for the year. I bought a paper year calendar that is folded up on my desk because using the calendar in my phone just isn't useful. If I survive this year, there's another year and a big paper to write. My Dharma teacher and friend reminded me to stay in the moment and don't future trip. Sorry, can't help it. 

BTW-ever notice how some words we use came right from the hippies and the 60's? Tripping and freaking out, for example. 

Also BTW-I finished Michael Pollan's latest book, Your Mind on Plants and I wrote him a little email thanking him for his work and his obvious concern for the earth and us. And he wrote back!! How cool (60's reference or maybe the beats/jazz?) is that???

Love you all forever.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Thursday, March 03, 2022

Watch a Breathtaking Monarch Butterfly Swarm

 Today I was in the Apple store at the SouthCenter mall (don't ask) and one of the clerks, a young man, had a kaleidoscope of butterflies tattooed on his forearm. (Yes, a bunch of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope.) 

Lovely. A young man beautiful enough to have visible butterflies. There are so many lives worth honoring.  

Monday, February 28, 2022

 I don't understand what is happening in the world right now. A friend of my daughters is thinking about going to Ukraine to fight with the Ukrainians. He has no military experience. None. 

Gawd.

In other news, we saw a coyote in the back yard this morning. No wonder Felix was barking.


Monday, February 21, 2022

Remembering Paul Farmer, a giant in the world of public health

 Dear friends-

On Thursday my grandson flies up here BY HIMSELF.  I have that darling boy for 24 hours before his mother arrives. I am hoping to get into some trouble before she gets here. I'm not sure what kind but we'll think of something. Maybe we'll go to Tiger Mountain or even Mt Rainier. So sorry I have a bum leg and am hobbling around. Maybe I'll just take drugs and be out of pain for the day. Not the wisest course of action. We could just lie around and eat cookies and brownies and grandma's granola. And play with Felix. And talk about stuff. I'm still thinking about his Xbox and Grand Theft Auto which he put me in charge of so he could pee. He gave me the controls and I managed to crash into trees, other cars, cliffs and I even became airborne which is when I lost the driver. She just sort of fell out of the car and met her untimely end. If any of you have tried XBOX, I wish you luck. When Milo returned to the scene of the carnage, he managed to acquire another vehicle by stealing it and then he proceeded to run red lights and in general break the law in all kinds of ways. We laughed so much. 

I begin more trainings soon. The chaplaincy program is coming right up and I just got the syllabus. Uh-oh. It's many pages and much studying. There must be 100 books listed. Fortunately we only have to do 8 book reports. The final project is 30 pages plus footnotes. Not to mention 100 hours of volunteer work. I'm already doing mucho volunteer stuff but I don't know if any of it counts. Plus I'm not 'supervised'. I might look into 'death doula' work at the local hospital. There's probably a training I'll have to do. How will I fit all this in? I have so much unstructured time right now. I think that's about to end. 

Ah well. 

There is blue sky out there and Felix is staring at me as usual. It's gonna get cold here pretty soon. Hopefully no snow. 

May we all be safe and warm and happy.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

 

Dear friends-

My brother Dirk called on Valentine's Day to tell me Dave had died. He was our older brother, the first to get out and go far away. My parents told him his biological mother was dead. He was 5 years old. When he became an adult, he found out that had been a lie and he searched and found her in Florida. They had an adult relationship until she passed away. 

Who does that sort of thing?

There is so much more I could say about his young life but I won't. It was hard. He was treated with much cruelty. I adored him. He was in high school and I thought he was an Adonis. I'm sure he was, now that I think about it. 

He was in a memory care facility. For the past year and a half, he no longer recognized his wife of 57 years. She sounded relieved. She said he had been a good father and a good husband, a good provider. 

We all knew he hated our parents, probably until he died. Maybe he was able to let it all go so he could go too. 

I hope he is free now from his pain and suffering. He had love, he had joy. He built a life in spite of the cruelty he endured. 

Bless you Dave,

Love, 

Beth

Friday, February 11, 2022

 Dear ones-

Life has gotten busy. Lots of sitting practice, chaplaincy starting in a month, my family coming to town for my birthday (hooray!), groups I facilitate, whew. 

And my dear Sara's mother died so she was in Texas dealing with everything and we were catching babies and seeing mommas in the clinic and I'm about to take three days of call, oh boy. 

Makes me think I should finally retire...how long will I say that, I wonder?

Spring is starting to spring here. Daffs, crocuses, buds on the daphne and Japanese maple. The lake is only 40 degrees so no swimming yet although I know Clark is watching the temps closely. I can hardly imagine squashing into my wetsuit and getting into water so cold my hands freeze. 

Fridays at the pool they turn on the water slide for the last 10 minutes of our lap swim. All us old, infirm etc folks climb up the long ladder and jet on down  with much squealing and yelping. Very satisfying. 

Well, I must go and find a reading for the meditation tonight. 

May you all be well and safe and filled with joy.

Monday, January 31, 2022

 Dear friends-

I have a new tenant. Her name is Emily and she is a partner in the midwifery practice. She's young and bright and full of energy. She remembers way more than I ever will. Or could. Our 'boss' Sara has left for Texas to disconnect her mother from life support. We are scrambling to figure out the call schedule and the patient shuffle. Poor Sara. Such a heavy burden. Her mother was her guiding light. Her mother and I are the same age. It's so interesting to contemplate, our demise. When? And how? 

Dealing with some aches and pains which have not kept me from the swimming pool, thank the baby Jesus. I have visited a nice young PT who has me doing exercises with stretchy things. Humbling. The aging body and mind. 

I'm wondering if there is a person or persons who could advise me about heating this old house. The gas furnace is looking geriatric and only heats the front of the house, the living room and kitchen. The back of the house has electric wall heaters that are mostly inadequate. I have solar panels and could have some monstrous healing system back there because my electric bill is nominal. I wear my coat in the house and heat my bed with a mattress warmer (yummy). Still I feel very 17th century with bundling up in the house. Judith lives on a houseboat and that's cold! She's always got her down coat on. 

I'm grateful for the cold. Especially when I think about the dreadful heat we had last year and will again.

My children and grandchild are visiting for my birthday in February. I am beyond happy about that. I have traveled back and forth to California numerous times and now it's their turn to visit me. The only thing I want to do besides cook and eat and hang out is go to the Korean spa for a few hours to get scrubbed and massaged and soaked. And eat Korean waffles roll-ups (divine). 

This might be an appalling post but such is my life. 

Last week:




 

Monday, January 24, 2022

 Dear friends-

Thich Nhat Hanh died on the 22nd, in his home temple in Vietnam where he became a monk at 16. He was 95 and had had a stroke in 2014. Photos of him being greeted at the entrance to the temple, a small old man in a wheelchair who could no longer speak, were beautiful and bright. I'm sure he was tended to around the clock as a revered and beloved teacher. His nickname, Thuy, meant teacher. 

I have been crying a lot. It surprised me, the depth of my grief. And then I recall what my life looked like when I stumbled into a small dark room where people were meditating. I was so sad and vulnerable and fragile. It was 1995 and I was involved in a lawsuit a family had brought against me and my partner for a baby who was damaged. It doesn't matter the details now. We were released from the suit after two horrible years of lawyers and depositions and endless paperwork. But my/our world collapsed. Every day was full of dread and fear. Would I lose my falling-down house I had just bought? Would I ever work again? As they say in Buddhism, the eight worldly winds were blowing from every direction, knocking me down over and over. 

The small dark room held a community of people who were following the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk who had opposed the Vietnam war and had been expelled from his country. He was a friend to Dr King. He established centers all over the world to teach mindfulness and meditation,  to bring peace and happiness to others. His message was one of engaged Buddhism. 

In that dark room, I finally breathed fully for the first time in what felt like months. I didn't have to tell my story, I could just be. I went week after week, involving myself in the community. We eventually bought a house that we turned into a Dharma hall. Our teacher, trained by Thuy, came from her rural home to offer retreats and Dharma talks. 

I remember how silly I was, how I wince at the ways I misbehaved, not fully understanding the gift I had been given, to begin to comprehend my tangled thinking, my reactivity and the ways that I was contributing to my own suffering. 

Almost 27 years later, I can fully grieve for the little monk who worked tirelessly to bring gentleness and love to all of us, to teach us to love ourselves without reservation. 

"Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for the cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There's no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death.

I will continue, always."

May all beings be at peace. May all beings be free from their suffering.


Sunday, January 16, 2022

Free write with Betsy

 The question was, "What is worth saving?"


Compassion is worth saving, for myself, for others, for the small and large lives all around. When I think of the exhortation to preserve life, not to kill, I am confronted daily with what that means. Does that mean the ants that are already appearing by the back door, making their trails to the kitchen where there are crumbs, drips of honey, errant bits of onion and broccoli from dinner. They like honey best, always looking for sugar. I am too, always seeking sweetness among the troubles of a life.

Ants have a queen somewhere. I envision her on a tiny antish throne, her loyal, inexhaustible subjects working tirelessly and selflessly to bring her the fruits of their industry. Do ants have a soul? The theological pundits would probably say not. But what do they know. The engine of an ant, the spark that animates them also animates us. I'm not sure about the soul thing? Does having a soul put us on a hierarchy of importance? To whom?I recently heard a talk about the father, son and holy ghost. The holy ghost mystifies me, always has. Then there's the triple goddess, the three faces of women, the triple jewel and so on. 

But back to the recommendation to not take life. This winter my house has hosted a plethora of tiny winged bugs. I couldn't figure out their generation. What was the point of origination? Not the compost bucket. Not a dead critter the cat brought in. (Reminds me of the dead robin under my bed but that's a story for another time.) These wee beings were on the window sills, on the bathroom mirror, by the stove. And they were fragile. I could take out a legion of them with one swipe of my sponge. 

Here's the dilemma. I am taking life, their life. They may have families, a culture (music, literature?), a purpose in the grand wed of life. And are they less important than polar bears, or orcas, or trees? Do I let them be, to live and die as we all do, as we all must?  

Saturday, January 08, 2022

 This morning very early I awoke and baked a little squash, made two breakfast burritos with egg and beans and cheese and spinach, threw in some yogurts and a loaf of homemade bread and a jar of apple butter and went down to the public market and saw the monk standing with his begging bowl. I bowed to him and gave him all the food and he sang a prayer of gratitude and wonder. 

I told him when I am cooking for him,  I do it as mindfully as I can. I remember I am cooking and serving the Buddha, as the example for us all to fully awaken from our dream of life. He is the stand-in for our purest desire to be better people, to help and serve and be kind whenever we can. I told him all that. He reminded me that there are bad monks and I'm sure there are because we're all human and we are capable of terrible things. It takes courage to show up every day and be a good person, not an asshole person. I have some ways to go because of anger and sadness and disappointment but it's always good to make an effort. 

It is very early in the morning to go meet the little monk. It's almost like this secret and weird thing I am doing. It's part of my spiritual practice. 

I was very happy to see he was wearing actual shoes in the rain. He reminded me that in Asia, the monks go for alms in their bare feet. Quite impractical in the PNW, indeed. 

Much love.

Saturday, January 01, 2022

 



Felix and I visited Kubota's garden yesterday, 20 acres of gorgeous Japanese landscaping that is 100 years old. 

Happy New Year everyone. 


Like ants we are happy

As long as we carry a load bigger than ourselves.

                                                              -Rumi