Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lovely Jasmine Tea

I'm drinking a cup of jasmine tea as i write. I love the smell of the jasmine as much as the taste of the green tea. But then i wonder why i do not like Earl Grey, which is black tea infused with bergamot (which is not bee balm but a bergamot orange).

Jasmine tea is pleasant.
Earl Grey unpleasant.

Perhaps you find Earl Grey pleasant and jasmine tea unpleasant.

No matter. We actually don't have a choice about this perception. It simply occurs. Pleasant or unpleasant. Then we have a choice whether to simply let it be--a sense perception arising and just as quickly ceasing. Or whether to believe our perception and make it into a view, an opinion.

Views. Opinions. Judgments. There be dragons. And suffering.

Much safer to simply notice pleasant and let it go.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Don't Supersize My Cyclamen

Today i bought 2 little pots of cyclamen for the holidays. Little because cyclamen doesn't last that long for me. I have tried to keep them for next winter, and succeeded, but they were really looking quite elderly by their second Christmas.

Being a bit thrifty, i opted for small as opposed to large. Truthfully, the small pot gives me as much happiness as the larger pot. I don't need to super-size my cyclamen.

A line from the metta sutta says
Contented and easily satisfied,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.

I can be content with a small cyclamen. I can be easily satisfied with this small cyclamen. And yes, call me frugal--an unpopular word. I might prefer thrifty. Not stingy. Simply opting for the simple cyclamen, the small one.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Birdhouse Gourds

I grew birdhouse gourds this past summer. In October, i put the fun, pale green gourds on my front step. In November, they are turning tan, so i'm bringing them indoors to dry out. By January, i should hear the seeds rattling around inside, and that's when i can begin creating actual birdhouses.

When our own bodies dry out and begin to rattle (creaky joints, clicking knees, cracking necks), the green and growing part of our lives has passed, but we still have a lot of "use" remaining. We have even more room in our hearts for the problems of the world, and more elasticity for the problems of those we love.

I like thinking about little birdies living in the heart of these birdhouse gourds.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Forcing Paperwhites

Yesterday, i gave a gardening talk on forcing holiday bulbs--paperwhites, amaryllis, hyacinths, and tulips. I brought bulbs and vases so people could create their own containers and take them home. Even though we are full-grown, mature adults, it's still fun to come home from class with something we've created.

I had some leftover bulbs, so i created my own containers of paperwhites this morning and set them on a cool windowsill.

I may think i am creating something, but really i am simply taking raw materials and putting them together. Bulbs, vases, marble chips--all come from the earth. The glass vase is make of the element silica; the marble chips are a form of calcium; the bulbs are a softer form of elements.

And every bit of it recycled and recycling. The bulbs will go into the compost in January, to become dirt by spring. I keep using the same marble chips year after year, but they too will erode after some centuries. And the glass vase will break when it breaks.

All so temporary. All so beautiful.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Sumac Staghorns

Speaking of Rhus, today i drove by a big patch of staghorn sumac, brilliantly red in the gleaming low sun.

Coincidentally, i bought a pint of staghorn "berries" to make tea at the Farmers Market in September. Recently, i decided to add sumac to my daily green tea. Delicious, herbal, and it might even be a remedy. A few years ago, i made sumac staghorn tea because it is high in vitamin C. Now i'm trying it as an anti-itch potion.

Right now, i view sumac as healing; i used to think it was a weed tree. This type of either/or thinking blinds us to one side or the other. The answer is both/and--a place where the mind does not rest comfortably. Both? Both.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Homeopathic Remedy

After trying every anti-itch salve in the house for my poison ivy, my acupuncturist told me about the homeopathic remedy Rhus Tox. Rhus is sumac and toxicodendron is poison ivy, so i'm not sure exactly what is actually in Rhus Toxicodendron, but i can tell you this: It works. Itches went from front-row fiery to distant pings. How tiny sugar pills can do that remains a mystery to me.

Mindfulness can have that effect. We sit down with worry, anxiety, or sadness. We begin to watch our breath or sensations in the body. If we can keep our attention circling around or near our meditation object, those dark thoughts become like scattered clouds in the sky with periods of sunshine. We recall some sweetness in our lives--gratitude, love, or kindness--and taste that tiny taste.


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Fiery Sky

The sky is on fire this morning, perhaps warning of us of.... What? Weather, yes, but something else?

The Buddha encouraged us to meditate as if our hair is on fire. Life is short. Too short.Meditate right now, right where you are sitting. Take a 3-breath trip into mindfulness.