Saturday, November 17, 2018

Deer in the Yard

It's snowing today, and a beautiful buck visited my garden.

What a collision of thoughts and feelings!

  • Bambi!
  • deer ticks
  • So beautiful.
  • Lyme disease
  • Wow! A deer!
  • Is he eating my garden?
  • Way too many deer in the neighborhood
  • It's hunting season.
  • He knows he's safe in our yard.

All these thoughts cause a variety of emotions: happiness, irritation, anger (at the ticks), fear (at Lyme disease), anxiety, desire for him to stick around, sadness when he leaves.

It's not that one thought or one feeling is right and the other(s) is wrong. The challenge is to feel them all and keep breathing.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Who is Freeloading?

My sweetie is training the chickadees to eat sunflower seeds out of his hand. This has the side effect of the chickadees eating out of my hand too. Such joy!

We give the chickadees a handout. Why is it so much easier to give them some food than it is to give to the panhandlers in town?

A friend who works with the homeless says she never gives money, but she might offer a snack of some sort. Sometimes, i buy an extra bag of chips so that i can give it to a panhandler near the grocery store. I also quiz him on whether he's had lunch at the church. Two churches in town offer lunches 5 days a week. The Overnight Shelter offers supper 7 nights a week.

Freeloaders irritate us. Freeloading goes against the grain. How do we distinguish between freeloading and genuine need?

We are confident that the chickadees are not freeloading. If we didn't have an opinion about the panhandlers, we wouldn't be stressed by thoughts such as They're freeloading. He should get a job. Get away from me!

We are the ones who are uncomfortable, yet we blame our discomfort on "them."
When we feel joy, we "blame" our joy on them--the chickadees.

Can i treat the next panhandler as a chickadee, give him a little bit to eat, and feel the joy of my generosity?

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Tetanus Shot

Image result for tetanus for gardeners
I went to the doctor for my annual physical exam and received a tetanus shot. It's a good idea for gardeners to get a tetanus booster every 10 years, since 30 percent of tetanus injuries occur in the yard and garden and another 25 percent occur somewhere else outdoors. There's enough rusty garden paraphernalia around my property, and occasional manure too, that a tetanus shot seems like a good idea to me.

Of course, some people don't believe in vaccinations or suspect them of harboring some danger. Yes, there is a minuscule risk. On the other hand, when i hear about a 3-year-old child dying of tetanus because his parents didn't believe in the vaccinations, well, i feel very sad.

How can we inoculate ourselves against the vagaries of life? Can we feel happiness despite conditions?

Contemplate this chant today:
All things are impermanent.
They arise and they pass away.
To live in harmony with this truth
brings great happiness.

How can it be that looking, deeply, at arising and passing away brings us happiness?

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

The Few Remaining Leaves

Related image
Leaves have mostly fallen off the trees, with a few exceptions:

  • oak leaves are still clinging to their branches, but should fall any day.
  • beech leaves stay on trees all winter until the end of April
  • buckthorn leaves are just now turning yellow.

Oh, that rascal buckthorn--an invasive shrubby tree with tasty berries. But those berries are like eating chocolate Ex-Lax. After all, buckthorn's Latin name is cathartica.

Now is an excellent time to take a walk in the woods or along the roadside and play I Spy with yourself. You can easily find those buckthorn culprits, and pull them out.

Stress is like the buckthorn--hiding in plain view, even seeming to be tasty. But beware! Those tasty pleasant people or experiences or situations can be stress in disguise. We so easily focus on the pleasant, it can be difficult to even see the unpleasant.

Every pleasant thing comes to an end--friends fade away, relationships end, homes are sold, children grow up and move away. Each beautiful thing turns into stress.

If we can recognize those culprit stresses, we can rise above the pleasant--unpleasant dichotomy, enjoying the pleasant, but not clinging to it; noticing the unpleasant and not wishing for anything different.

The buckthorn are turning yellow in the woods. Can i pull them with equanimity?

Monday, November 12, 2018

Homemade Suet for the Birds

Image result for suet feeder
I fry bacon once or twice a year--maybe in deep tomato season for a BLT sandwich. What to do with all that bacon grease?

My mother used to cook with bacon grease, but that's not politically correct any more. 50% of bacon grease is the good-for-you unsaturated fat, but another 40% is the bad-for-you saturated fat.

Last summer, i poured my extra bacon grease into a half-pint plastic container filled with shelled sunflower seeds. Then i put it in the freezer, where i just re-discovered it. Time to get out the suet feeder! The chickadees and nuthatches are loving this homemade suet.

Our meditation practice is a homemade project. What's the delicious recipe that works for you?

Right now, i Skype at 6 a.m. with a woman i met at a meditation retreat last year. Then i meditate with my neighbors at 8 a.m. for 20 minutes. Right now, i'm teaching 2 or 3 meditation classes a week, and i sit at our local meditation center about once a week.

Just like the chickadees, i keep coming back to meditation.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Bread of Flowers

When i saw Le Pain des Fleurs at the food coop, well, i just had to try it. The Bread of Flowers--that sounds like the staff of life for gardeners.

I'm always looking for a non-gluten alternative because wheat makes me sleepy. If i succumb to home-baked bread or delicious pizza, 2 hours later, i just have to take a quick nap.

This is the way of craving. We grasp something (whatever it may be) out of habit or because it's pleasant. Later on, we pay the price of that desire.

I don't want to sleep through my life. I want to wake up to my life. It's the one and only life i have.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Clean Out Birdhouses Now

Image result for bluebird house
It's time to clean out your birdhouses. Yes, it's a bit counter-intuitive. You might think that birds would use nests to keep warm in the winter. No, they don't. Nests are for nesting in the spring. During the winter, birds are looking for places to roost, perhaps with others of their own kind. So clean those old nests out of the birdhouses now.

I'm always surprised to see bluebirds checking out my bluebird houses in March. Wait a minute! It's not even spring yet. I haven't done my spring cleaning and cleaned out the bluebird house. By the time i get around to it, later that day, or the next day, or the next week, Mrs. Bluebird has made her decision. She likes a nice clean house. That's the reason we want to clean out our birdhouses right now, while we are thinking about it and while we don't have much else to do in the garden.

Now is also a good time to clean out our own house. Time to let stuff go. Time to downsize. Time to give away stuff we haven't used in how many years?

Everything we cherish will change and vanish. Sometimes we make it vanish on purpose. Give away the too-small clothes. Pass some of those heirlooms on to the next generation.

Then the bluebirds of happiness will be much more likely to stick around.