Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Celtic Knot

At Dublin Castle, we visited the Dubh Linn gardens, which double as a helicopter landing pad. The Celtic knot is unmistakable from the sky for landing visiting dignitaries.

While Celtic knots are beautiful, they are also knotty. This knot is best seen from a high point, an overview. When you're walking at ground level, you don't realize the tangle you're in.

We often don't realize how the enticements of life entangle us. Desire can feel delicious. Anger can feel so wonderfully self-righteous. Delusion is beautifully dreamy. We meander through life, entangling ourselves, and then wondering just how we got ourselves tied up in knots over some person or situation.

Wisdom is the high point from which we can see the overview. Oh.....

The name of the game is disentangling. Even though the knot is fun and beautiful, freedom lies outside the tangle.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Snake's Tongue

Our hotel room in Dublin, Ireland has a sansevieria plant on a table near the window. Commonly called snake tongue, this plant is undemanding and very easy to keep alive.

In these days, when hateful speech so easily flies off the tongues of those around us and various media personalities, it's good to remember to keep our own tongues in check with Wise Speech. Using our tongues and our words skillfully is not an easy assignment.

In the days after the election, i decided to listen, really listen to someone who voted differently than i did. She went on a 30-minute rant, while my sweetie and i kept our mouths shut. I had asked for a different point of view, and i got it! I could feel in my body, how good the rant was feeling to her in the moment--very fizzy and charged with adrenalin.

After she left for an appointment, i told my sweetie, "That hatred felt great in the moment, but she's going to feel ashamed of herself for the rest of the day." Sure enough, when we saw her that evening, she tried to make amends, which we graciously accepted. "You have one news source," my husband said, "and we have other news sources."

In the days ahead, we are going to be called on to speak truthfully, straight-forwardly, and kindly. That's a difficult recipe to follow.
But when anger and hatred is so easy to grow and so seductive, it's time for us to put our nerves between our teeth, and hold our own sharp snake-like tongue.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Shining Brightly

Here is a contemplation of Empathetic Joy from Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an organization that cultivates compassionate social action.

I notice and delight in the happiness of others--
from the bright, beaming smile of a child,
to youth and elders rising up, incandescent,
for Black lives, gender justice, immigrant rights, queer love,
sacred Earth,
and more.

I shine brightest when others shine too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Winds of Loving-Kindness

Here's a lovely loving-kindness meditation from Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an organization that cultivates compassionate social action.

I send goodwill everywhere on the winds:
to myself, my loved ones, community,
and maybe even my enemies,
while compassionately confronting oppression
with all my heart.

May the winds of loving-kindness fill my sails as I work to better this world.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Dark Rich Soil of Compassion

Here's a compassion contemplation from Buddhist Peace Fellowship, an organization that cultivates compassionate social action.

Knowing that we are interconnected,
I open my heart to the suffering of others.
In the rich, dark soil of compassion,
I nurture deep roots of solidarity,
finding those tender, alive places
where our struggles interweave.

From rootedness i grow toward peace, justice, and collective liberation.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The Orchid Whisperer

Claire calls herself an orchid whisperer. Ever since a friend gave her an orchid a few years ago, and then another friend gave her another orchid, Claire has had ever-blooming success with her orchids.

My comparing mind jumps in and thinks about how pathetic my own orchid looks. That's orchid singular, since the other one died.

The comparing mind judges good/bad, right/wrong, up/down, right/left, which often leaves us in the one-down positions struggling to regain our one-upsmanship. What a useless waste of mental energy.

We could just whisper kindly and gently to ourselves, "There, there, my dear. Your orchid died. All conditioned things are impermanent. And your orchid did not have the right conditions to live." Sigh.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Nothing Special

I've de-Christmased our little hemlock Christmas tree. After i took off its one strand of lights, i stuck the bare little tree in a snow drift near the front door.  Instant landscaping! That waving branch of green looks pretty good in the snow.

For a couple of weeks, that little tree was a "somebody." A somebody that many people noticed and commented on. Now that little tree has become a nobody--nothing special, very ordinary.

Oh, how we ourselves yearn to be a somebody--perhaps a big somebody or perhaps "only" a somebody to someone. And all along we are actually nobodies. Not the depressing sort of nobody that we might look down our nose at. Just an ordinary nobody of a tree--nothing special and of no importance--as we take our place in the family of humankind.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Tulip Bulbs in Pots

On my birthday, 2 weeks ago, i admitted my guilty pleasure to you--buying tulip bulbs to force in pots in the garage. Well, what with one thing and then another, including a tiny post-election depression, those tulip bulbs were still sitting in their bags. Until today.

Today, i'm potting up tulip bulbs as fast as i can. So far, i have 16 pots. And i am feeling happy. Potting tulips is definitely the remedy for draggy spirits.

Next March, when the tulips are blooming in their pots on the front step, i'll be very happy about this birthday/Christmas present to myself.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Flowing with Equanimity

I received a mailing from the Buddhist Peace Fellowship with a lovely brochure about the Four Immeasurables--loving-kindness, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. The brochure relates each of these divine emotions to one of the four elements.

Equanimity, for instance, is associated with the water element.

Flowing in a wide stream of bold, beautiful social movements throughout space and time, 
i know i am not alone. 
Seeing the truth of impermanence, 
i recall that nothing lasts forever.

From this place of balance,
I use my gifts to take action
for what I believe is right.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Longest Night

In high school, i wrote a paper about Stonehenge. And i visited it a month after i graduated from college, back before it was a tourist destination. The last time i was there, we arrived at 6:00 p.m., just after the gates had closed. Nevertheless, as i walked toward the chain-link fence, i began to cry. That's how happy i was to see Stonehenge, even from a distance.

So, perhaps it's not surprising that i hosted my 30th winter solstice bonfire last evening. I love celebrating these ceremonies that observe the cycles of the earth.

If we stop to notice, our bodies are in tune with the tides, in sync with sunrise and sunset, on the same wavelength with light and dark. Our bodies are earth, water, air, and fire.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

18-Year-Old Geraniums

My neighbor had the same geraniums on her window sill, in the same pots, for 18 years! She did this by giving her geranium plants a haircut every fall, cutting them all the way down to ground level.

Geraniums are prone to get leggy and woody. Cutting them back, way back, keeps fresh green growth coming.

We can clutter our lives up with too much stuff. Sometimes, it's good to have a thorough house-cleaning.

Clean out a drawer today. Or one shelf. Don't wait to find the perfect person to give it to. Send it along to your favorite thrift store. (Mine is the hospice shop.) Someone you don't even know will love your treasure.

Freshen up your life with the random act of kindness of giving your stuff away.Your geraniums love it, and you will too.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Things Change Unexpectedly

The snowplow has been doing my gardening for me--again. While plowing my driveway last week, the plow nicked some epimedium out of the edge and tossed it into a snowbank.

Ah yes. Things change. Unexpectedly. Sigh. That sigh is the grief of letting go. Even letting go of something as small as epimedium.

I wanted epimedium (barrenwort) as an edging along my driveway, but now there's a dent in my plans.

An 85-year-old friend left me a phone message last Wednesday; her daughter found her in bed the next morning, unresponsive due to a stroke.

Things change. And we mourn that change.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Bound Up Poinsettia

I gave a talk recently about caring for your holiday houseplants. I took in a recently purchased poinsettia, and pulled it out of its pot. The pot was still full of soil. The roots were bound in the one-inch peat pot that the poinsettia had been started in.

In the past 2 days, i've talked with 2 women, who recently told a man in their life (friendly ex-husband; father) to stop ladling out the criticism. Each woman said, "I am not going to take this any more."

One woman feels that her standing up (for the first time in this relationship) is a direct result of the recent election. She, as a woman, is not going to take it from this man any longer.

As women, we have been trained to be bound. For Chinese women, it was bound feet. For women in the last century, it was corsets and girdles. Nowadays, women bind themselves with an image of the perfect body, which, of course, is impossible to achieve.

The Metta Sutta directs us to be "straight-forward and gentle in speech." So many women have accented the gentle that they have lost straight-forwardness. If there can be tough love, how about tough gentleness? Tough kindness?

By calling their dear men out, these women are both moving toward truer-to-themselves relationship.

Unbind your tongue, woman, in the name of kindness.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Birthday Trowel

My sister gave me a trowel for my birthday. Since it has a purple handle, it was love at first sight. This birthday trowel also has a narrow blade, which i love. I'm not sure why i prefer a narrow trowel; perhaps it feels more precise.

I'd like to go use my birthday trowel right now, but the ground is frozen solid since it was -4 degrees F. this morning. So i'll have to wait for spring. I'll have to practice patience. Patience aids us in not succumbing to fear, discouragement, and doubt, of which there is plenty nowadays.

If you are going to take up only one practice, let it be patience.

I patiently await the coming of spring.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Kale Icicles

At 16 degrees F., i break kale leaves off the plant like icicles. It really is time to harvest the kale--wearing mittens.

Kale salad, kale chips, kale smoothies, kale stir-fry. Kale is good for you, but how much kale can you eat in one day?

Meditation is good for you, but much meditation can you do in one day? Maybe not that much. After all, life calls.

Mindfulness is good for you, and you can do that every minute of the day. As U Tejaniya, a Burmese monk, says, "Relaxed and relentless." That's the key to good mental health.

And kale is good nutrition of the health of our physical body.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Hemlock Christmas Tree

Since we are leaving for vacation the day after Christmas, i wanted a little tabletop Christmas tree. By the time we got around to buying one, we looked at each other and said "$35?" "Nah."

We live in the woods with lots of evergreens--white pines and hemlocks. When i was single, throughout my 20s and 30s, i used to take my saw into the woods and cut down a sort-of-full little hemlock. "How about a hemlock?" i asked Bill. To my surprise, he agreed.

We found our woodsy hemlock (read: thin) and now we have this 3-foot tall "branch" sitting on a table. "It's a real Charlie Brown tree," says Bill. I admit. It is a pathetic looking Christmas tree.

We may judge our meditation efforts as being rather pathetic. Still, a 3-minute meditation is a meditation. A minute of loving-kindness is a minute of wholesomeness.

Even a  little Christmas tree can bring light into my life. Even a little mindfulness, a little kindness can light up your life.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Rose Petals

I took the wilted rose out of my birthday bouquet. The bouquet of mums and a fragrant star-gazer lily still looks beautiful even though it's missing a member.

Isn't this the mystery of death? Life goes on even though we feel a loss, an emptiness. Wait a minute! we may want to scream. My loved one is gone! Don't you see? Can't you pause for a minute? Here you are going on, as if nothing has happened. But something important has happened. My loved one is missing. S/he isn't here anymore. I'm crying. We should all be crying.

Life rolls on, just as it always has.We took our refuge in the seeming unchangingness of our loved one.  But, alas, they were changing too all along. Everything is changing, and i'm not ready. Stop. Stop. I want what was. I don't want what is.

Change. Impermanence. The impermanence of the rose. The impermanence of each and every one of us.

I placed the wilted rose petals in a bowl. Their brief fragrance infuses my breath. Lovely.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wilting Rose

My sweetie gave me a bouquet of flowers for my birthday last week. Already the rose is wilting and drooping.

Another reminder. Everything changes.

As Mary Oliver writes:
Doesn't everything die,
at last
and too soon?

Oh, do you have to go so soon?

Too soon for me, but maybe not for the rose, which is unwinding according to the conditions of its life.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Diamond Frost in Hawai'i

While standing outside my B&B in Maui last month, i admired an 8-foot tall shrub with white lacy flowers that looked sort of familiar. The name clicked the next day. Diamond Frost euphorbia--an 8-inch tall annual that i use as an edging plant. I also like to winter it over because of the constant bloom of those white lacy flowers.

I broke off a familiarly-shaped leaf to confirm my suspicions, and the stem bled a milky white sap. Yep. Euphorbia--with a two-inch thick trunk. How many years old is this shrub? Much, much older than my little plants in flowerpots on the front step.

When we place our minds in the right conditions, our mind will bloom profusely. That's what happened to me while i was on retreat in Maui.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Really Big Pine Cones

When we were traveling in northern, northern California and southern Oregon last summer, i stopped on the roadside and picked up some pine cones. Really big pine cones that were 16 inches long! These are the cones of the sugar pine.

My women's group has an annual wreath making party, so i took my bag of sugar pine cones and big fat Jeffrey pine cones to give to my dear women friends.

One sugar pine cone remained. I brought it home and spray-painted it with silver glitter. Add one bow and some Christmas balls, and voila! A centerpiece, which i gave to my step-daughter's family as a Christmas present, since we've already had our Christmas with them.

The joy of giving. And i especially love giving homemade gifts, made with love.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Laying Down Tracks

It snowed a couple of days ago, and i rushed out of the house before i shoveled the front step. A day later, my footprint is frozen in place.

This trace of yesterday's step is a good description of karma. We are laying down the tracks for our neural networks all the time. Listen to the news, feel afraid or angry, and thereby build the habit of fear or anger. Feel grateful for the blessings of your life today--beautiful snow, for instance. Spend 30 seconds enjoying the snow and begin to build the habit of joy and happiness.

What track, what trace do you want to leave behind for tomorrow? And the day after that? And the year after that?

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Mums Still Blooming

My neighbor's mums are still blooming beautifully on her front porch. My mums are long since dead and thrown onto the compost pile.

Some of us live a long time and outlast others of our generation. My 94-year-old hospice client complains that she only has one friend remaining--her beautician who lives 3 hours away in the town they both grew up in.

These beautiful mums still bloom.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Tropical Plants in the Tropics

My sweetie and i are vacationing in Hawai'i for a week. Croton, ginger, and bird of paradise are growing right outside the door of the condo we are renting for a few days.

Oh, how i love to see these "houseplants" in their native setting. They look so happy and vigorous. I used to aspire to growing these tropical plants at home, but now the sight of tropical plants in the tropics is enough to make me want to stop growing these plants at home. Their cousins in the North Country--at least in my solarium--are pale and leggy by comparison.

We are at our best when we put ourselves in the proper environment to grow the beautiful qualities of mind we want to grow. Sometimes that means not listening to the news.

Or, if we decide to listen to the news, take it in teaspoonsful and antidote any negativity with 5 teaspoons of goodness.

This week, the good i am focusing on is being on vacation with my sweetie and luxuriating in the tropical foliage i love.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Blooming Late in the Season

Today i walked through the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden in Portland Oregon with a 91-year-old friend. It's November and rhododendrons are blooming.

I also saw snowdrops and cyclamen.  Throughout the day, i have seen nasturtium, dandelions, chickory, and herb robert. No matter the lateness of the season, some few flowers are beautifully in bloom.

So it is with us. Some of us are still blooming into our 90s. Our friends and relatives have faded and withered away. We alone have somehow survived to enjoy life. This life. Despite feeling rather alone and lonely.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Late Harvest

photo from
We are leaving for vacation tomorrow, which means giving all the vegetables in the refrigerator away. Finding a home for the red peppers was easy. I sun-dried one rack of Sungold cherry tomatoes. I decided to keep my 6 red cabbage, ranging in size from small to smallest.

In order not to have any leftovers, i cooked up the smallest cabbage tonight with some homegrown onions and the only remaining apple. Delicious.

When it comes to the end of our own season, we will be harvesting the mind we've been training all these years. The untrained mind may be unpredictable. The trained mind, the mind accustomed to mindfulness, has a much better chance of viewing the ending of the season of the life more calmly.

The seasons change.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Someone's Been Eating My Parsley

Someone's been eating my parsley. Harrumph.

I went out with clippers to cut my parsley harvest and make delicious parsley pesto, but all i have is a few sprigs. Who's been eating it? Deer? Groundhogs? Squirrels?

Wah! I wanted parsley, but i didn't get it.

The Buddha warns us about being separated from that which we love. This is one form of dukkha, also called stress or suffering. Or one teacher translates it as "Bummer!"

I'm bummed out that "my" parsley has disappeared. Oh, right. This is what happens when we are attached to results.

One result is no parsley pesto.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Goodbye Kwanzan Cherry

My sweetie bought a Kwanzan cherry tree for me for Mother's Day about 20 years ago. Our lawn was really too shady for it, so it limped along, performing beautifully one year, then not again for several years. This summer, several branches died. Last week, my sweetie cut it down.

I actually feel relieved to have that space open up to plain grass. Now there's space. Ahhh.

This is the feeling i had when my father died many years ago. The mighty oak in the forest had fallen, and now there was enough sunlight for my spindly little tree to grow up, up toward the sun. Suddenly, i saw the expectations he had had of me. Suddenly, i felt the weight of those expectations, which fell from me effortlessly. Now i had room to breathe.

We all carry unacknowledged expectations--from parents, spouse, family, and friends. Under the rah-rah of "our family!" lies a unique and authentic heart. Yours.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Departing Garden

27 degrees this morning. This hard frost is the death knell for geraniums and chard. Petunias and parsley limp along. Broccoli, kale, and cabbage still live.

Halloween is the hallowed evening before All Saints Day (November 1), before the day of the dead, El dia de los muertos.

While Mexico celebrates with the departed spirits of dear ones and family members, i mourn the loss of my departing garden.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

It's Snowing

It's snowing. I kid you not.

The first killing frost last night, and winter has begun. Whaaaa....???

Wait a minute. I still have garlic to plant, lime to spread on garden beds, kayaks to store away, and a dozen other change-of-season tasks. Suddenly, it's time to put up Christmas lights? And it's not even Halloween yet!

A friend emails me that her brother who has outlived his cancer diagnosis by 2 years now has cancer metastasized to the brain. The doctors say he has maybe a month to live.

We have a day to live. This day. Don't resist it. Go jump around in the snow now.

Birds' Nests

Now that the leaves have fallen off the trees, i am suddenly seeing birds' nests. All at once, the nests are in plain sight. That means i've been walking by them all summer and never even noticed.

This "not-noticing" is an aspect of delusion, which is one of the 3 roots of stress and suffering. Mindfulness is all about noticing--noticing the foreground and noticing the background.

When we don't notice our life, we are running on automatic pilot. We proceed based on our assumptions, which usually works out well enough for us.

But the unexpected always happens eventually, and then we are shocked by the change. Living on automatic pilot is so much more comfortable than actually noticing moment-to-moment change.

Change. The season has changed. The tree leaves have changed. The weather has changed. We are changing.

And birds are flying south.
The long strands are shreds of plastic.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Change of Life. Change of Season.

Suddenly, the trees are bare. Two days ago, the maples still wore their red and yellow leaves. Then a tremendous wind blew through, ripping everything to shreds. The bare trees look unlovely now. Change of life; change of season.

When we women go through the change of life, our beauty leaves, and people (men, in particular) no longer look at us or even see us. They look right through us.

But suddenly we can see clearly. All those decades we were at the mercy of our hormones. It turns out, that's not who we really are.

Now that the trees have lost their leaves, i can see so much farther into the woods.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Two Months Worth of Tomatoes

Cherry Tomatoes from One Plant
Frost is coming so i'm harvesting the very last of the cherry tomatoes--from one plant. This is the single plant that i blogged about on September 17. It turned into a jungle as it clambered down a stone wall. (Think: heat!)

What abundance! That's 2 gallons of tomatoes from one plant--in October! I smell like tomato leaves.

We are a month away from Thanksgiving, but i am feeling very grateful for this overflowing harvest.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Exercises for the Gardening Back

My precious gardening back went out last spring when i was in handstand class at the circus school. My back (my sacro-iliac joint, to be specific) had been sending me warning signals for a couple of months. It turned out my problem was too much bending forward.

The physical therapist now has me doing lots of back bends. When i go to yoga class, i don't do any of the bend-forward positions (cat-cow, downward-facing dog, happy baby, etc.) I only do back bends, like upward-facing dog, sphinx, cobra, bridge, fish, and camel.

The ache in my back is very minimal now, but the physical therapist assures me it can be totally zeroed out. At my last appointment, she asked what my pain level was, on a scale of zero to ten. "It's not really pain," i said. "It's a twinge. Maybe about point five." Then she asked me to do upward-facing dog. She asked about pain level again. "Oh, maybe point three," i said.

That's when i noticed that the exercises do make a difference. This is the effect of mindfulness--noticing even these minute changes.

I'm a very haphazard exerciser. Oh, the exercises don't make that much difference, i think to myself. But now, i see/feel that even the tiny difference from .5 to .3 is a difference.Mindfulness of this tiny improvement gives me more confidence in my exercises.

Mindfulness of the tiny improvement meditation makes in our life gives us more faith in the value of meditation.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Feather Red Mustard

A couple of years ago, i bought Feather Red Mustard, more for its decorative qualities than for culinary purposes. To my delight it has reseeded itself again and again. I had one crop last spring. Now that the weather is cool, i have another crop.

Since color in the fall garden is fading, these burgundy red leaves add a welcome dash of color to my herb garden. And the featheriness of the leaves adds interest.

Even in the autumn of our lives, when we've lost the pzazz we once had, when our looks have faded, when our bodies become feather-light and fragile, we can still  offer a dash of color to the world around us--through our good deeds and open-heartedness.

Changing Seasons, Changing Tastes

It's fascinating how my tastebuds change with the seasons. Even though i have ripe garden tomatoes sitting on the window sill, i don't get around to eating them. I'm hungry for winter squash and kale. I'm done with fresh corn, even though it's still available at the nearby farm stand.

When we are young, we think we are our hormones. Oh, how sexy we think we are. But then, the sexy season changes, and i'm not hungry for sex any more. In middle age, we are so smart and know-it-all, but then the career season changes, and we look at middle-aged people and smile. We are married, and we think we are such a strong, dynamic couple, but then one dies, and suddenly we see that what we thought was "me" was really "us."

Seasons change. Our tastes change. Our very selves change. So who are we? Really?

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Pumpkin Seedlings

Two pumpkins rotted before i could pick them. I was thinking, Oh, boy. Pumpkins will grow right here next year. But they are growing right now.

Pumpkin seedlings in October? This does not augur a good outcome since frost is due next week.

Our rotten old experience sometimes composts in amazing ways. Like growing something new and beautiful.

Nevertheless, nothing survives. Impermanence comes sooner or later. In this case: sooner. Much too soon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016


I bought some flowering kale at the farm & garden stand. Even though i'm not a frilly type person, i love the kale's feathery foliage.

Each one cost $5, and i know their lifespan will be about 6 weeks, through the month of November. At the first snowfall, it's bye-bye kale.

At the same time, i bought a few pots of perennials for $5 each. Even though they were the same price, I consider the kale to be expensive, and the perennials to be a deal. The kale will live for 6 weeks. With luck, the perennials will live for many years.

I tend to spend my spiritual dollars for retreats in which i have to do the work. Insights of perennial wisdom come to me, drop by drop.

Other friends like to go to big name weekend workshops. The showy, big names talk; we listen and nod our heads. But what sticks? How long do we derive benefit?

Sometimes, i like to go with my friends to the big name weekends. But mostly, i prefer the solitude of a calm mind suddenly seeing a perennial truth. That's something i don't forget.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Monarch Hanging Out in the Garden

While pulling dead morning glories off the garden fence, i happened to see a monarch butterfly resting on a vine. I tiptoed away to the compost pile, laden with dead vines, but did not return to that area to do any more pulling and yanking.

When a beautiful mind state happens to arise, it's good to first of all notice it. Despite the tossing and turning of the mind, suddenly the mind is calm or peaceful or infused with love.

We sit with that beauty as long as we can pay attention.

And then it flutters away.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A Flock of Ladybugs

Ladybugs are flocking in the air this warm autumn day. One alights on my body every minute or two, stays a few seconds, and then takes off again. Open the door to go outdoors and a ladybug or two fly into the house.

Ladybugs are beneficial insects because they eat aphids and scale, which seem to show up on my houseplants about mid-winter.

What if we developed our own beneficial qualities? Which ones would you choose? My top 3 are patience, kindness, and skillful speech.  Generosity, compassion, voluntary simplicity, calmness, tolerance, gratitude, joy are other possibilities.

Let's develop a beneficial quality and watch it "eat up" frustration, annoyance, bother, anticipation, or desire--whatever the "pest" in your mind might be.

Today, the air is thick with ladybugs.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Wild Asters

Wild asters have sown themselves in my flowerbeds, looking like a lavender mist over the ground. The wild asters are small-flowered and rather puny, but en mass, they are beautiful. And, at this time of year, any color at all is welcome.

I could consider wild asters to be a weed. After all, they grow on the roadside, and they're not spectacular.

But at this season of life, I am simply grateful for the favors that nature bestows on me. Like a purple mist in the garden.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Broccoli in a Bag

I emailed my 10 neighbors asking if they wanted some broccoli. Two said "yes," and one came over to pick it up. I wasn't home, so they raided my refrigerator, and took a bag of broccoli home with them.

Now that's what i call making-yourself-at-home. That feels so family. So friendly.

Love that looks like broccoli.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Broccoli in Bloom

The problem with having 40 broccoli plants is that i have a lot of broccoli in bloom. It's beautiful. I harvested several of the yellow brocco-flowers for a bouquet on the kitchen table. Of course, the kitchen now smells like broccoli!

My sweetie, who loves broccoli, is sick of broccoli. He's frozen 2 dozen bags of broccoli for the winter. Too much of a good thing is. . . a bad thing. Not "bad," really. It's just another flavor of stress and suffering. (dukkha)

Broccoli-flavored stress.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Burning Bush vs. Sumac

Leaves are turning red and yellow and orange. One of the reddest reds (besides sugar maples) is the invasive shrub burning bush. I can talk myself blue in the face trying to convince people to rip out the burning bush in their yard because it's reseeding itself all over the woods.

"But i love burning bush," they say. Or, "I'll keep an eye on it." Ha!

Meanwhile, native sumac turns brilliant red, orange, yellow, and purple (!) with a tinge of green. I like the calming airiness and regularity of sumac leaves.

But sumac has a bad reputation as a weed tree. I like it because it's an intermediate tree, forming a background to a flower garden and a step up toward the tall woods trees. No matter how i sing the praises of sumac, i cannot rehabilitate its reputation among my friends.

"I want to chop it all down," they say.

The bad boy wins, and the beautiful native loses.

The bad boy can seem very glamorous, but we delude ourselves if we think we or he can get away with something.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Foggy Mornings

These autumn days dawn foggy as Mother Earth loses her heat to air. Last night i sat vigil for a 94-year-old woman who is losing her body heat. Her life energy is slowly leaking away, and she must have had plenty because she had 15 children, four of whom have died before her.

"Everything dies at last.
And too soon."

Summer dying into fall.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sharing Butternut Squash

Last night at 8:00, i went down to my neighbor who has chickens to get a couple of eggs so i could make scones this morning. In her garage sat 2 dozen butternut squashes. Wow! We are ready for winter. I have a dozen butternuts myself.

It's time to share the harvest of the garden. Or of the chickens.

So, this morning i made pumpkin scones, with cranberries, to take to my writing group.

Sharing squash. Sharing eggs. Sharing scones.
Share your life. It feels delicious.