Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Bear in the Neighborhood
After 30 years, a bear found and destroyed my neighbor's black plastic compost bin. We found 3 piles of bear scat here in our yard, but our open compost pile was not touched. Another neighbor saw a bear as she was taking a walk in the woods around dusk--a small bear, she said.

As cute as they are, we are talking about a life and death situation--for the bear. If a bear becomes habituated to people food, then the game warden will remove it.

If we become habituated to unskillful actions, then we too are talking about a life and death situation: our own. These habits--good ones or bad ones--are called karma. I'm not asking you to "believe" in karma. I'm asking you to look at karma, at your own habits very directly, with clear seeing.

Many of our habits are quite ordinary: brushing our teeth or driving a car. Many of our habits are skillful--anytime our heart reaches out to someone in need, anytime we do a good deed. And some of our habits are unskillful: you already know what yours are.

It's time to clean up our act--even though our friends may continue to practice unskillful acts of drinking a bit too much, expressing hurtful opinions. We clean up our act because, really, it's our life at stake here.

And it looks like i better clean up my compost act too.

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Flower Fairy

Linda, who owns the Cottage Hair Studio, welcomes her customers with a flower garden beside the front door to the Cottage. She has a flower fairy who takes care of the flowerbeds, perking them up with colorful annuals. Linda smiles every day when she walks in to work, and every lunch, when she sits out on the front porch.

Whether or not we believe in fairies, devas, or guardian angels, sometimes we ourselves can be helpful to others. The path of service is an act of compassion.

Linda pays her flower fairy, but sometimes we serve others for the sheer joy of it. I'm serving vegetables from the garden--squash, cucumbers, and tomatoes--giving them away to anyone whom i see. 

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Compost Camouflage

My compost bins are camouflaged with morning glory vines, just as i had been hoping for. In fact, the compost bin is so well camouflaged (okay, you can call it overgrown), that a guest could not see it even though it was literally right in front of her eyes and right beside where her car was parked.

Our life is overgrown with clinging vines of attachment. We are so distracted by the beauty (of the morning glories) or so repelled (by the weediness of the overgrown-ness), or just plain oblivious (What? Where's the compost pile?), that we fail to notice the Life that's right in front of our eyes.

Relax. Breathe. What does it feel like to be alive?

Monday, August 25, 2014

Tomato Sandwich

Ripe tomatoes. Tomatoes that actually taste like tomatoes. Juicy red, red tomatoes.

The tomato harvest is coming in, so every day, i have a tomato sandwich for breakfast, and maybe one for lunch as well. One slice of toasted multi-grain bread, Hellman's mayonnaise (which i still love), sliced tomatoes that are salted and peppered. The bread is just a conveyor of the tomato to my mouth. The bread is just an excuse to eat tomatoes. How many tomatoes can i pile on one piece of toast? How much summer can i eat?

What do we want to consume for the harvest of our lives?

A friend who is politically right of center is infuriated by Democratic women politicians. He hates them all. Do we think we can hate free-of-charge? Do we think we can hate some people, and, when it comes time to meet our maker, that He'll understand and let us off scot-free? Do we think we can hate some people and only love the people we want to love? If we hate our enemies, how are we any different than them, really?

If we sow hatred now, we will reap hatred--now or later. Contemplate this now. Before it's too late.

It's a tall order, but it's up to us to love the people who hate, especially our good friends and relatives, with whom we may disagree on some subjects, like religion or politics.

We want to harvest those big juicy tomatoes, not throw them in the face of someone we disagree with.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Garlic Generosity

The garlic harvest is in: 200 heads of big fat garlic cloves. (I get these great results with stiff-neck garlic, not with soft-neck.) So, perhaps you can imagine why i had about 40 heads of garlic left over from last year.

By this time, the old garlic are so easy to peel. The papery skin falls right off of each clove. But, the cloves are beginning to dry out and look a little aged (sort of like moi). Still, they are good for throwing into sauces or sautees where they pretty much disappear.

In the past, i have peeled my excess garlic cloves and stored them in olive oil. But i am so rich in fresh garlic that i don't get around to using the olive-oiled garlic. So it's time to give them away. I take them with me to every meeting and class i go to (yoga, writing, trapeze), and it's not long before last year's garlic have gone to other women's kitchens.

Now i can start giving away some of this year's harvest as a hostess present every time i go visit friends.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fragrant Phlox

Last evening, i gave a Dharma talk at Northampton Insight, and Susan, the facilitator, brought me a bouquet of phlox from her garden. By the end of the 2 hours, the fragrance of the phlox drifted lightly in the room, and several people came for a closer look-see and a closer sniff-smell.

Although my talk was about our immortality projects, one of the questions took us on a delightful detour into generosity.

A wonderful Chinese Proverb says, The scent of a rose always lingers on the hand of the giver. We could also say: The scent of generosity always lingers on the hand of the giver.

Right now, the fragrance of phlox is lingering in my kitchen, thanks to Susan.