Monday, April 30, 2018

Sweet Daphne

Sweet-smelling daphne mezereum is blooming. It's a small shrub with small flowers, but if you stand close to admire it, you can smell the heavenly fragrance of daphne.

I first saw daphne mezereum growing in the middle of a stone wall when i was on a day-long walkabout, prior to doing a 3-day Vision Quest one April. I was gathering found objects for my Quest, and, although i couldn't take the daphne with me, that memory has stayed with me through the decades. When my gardening friend Ruth asked me if i wanted a daphne, of course i said Yes!

Such is the generosity of Nature. Such is the generosity of friends.

Sunday, April 29, 2018

New Compost Bin At Long Last

I finally did a project yesterday, which had been waiting for 8 months. I rebuilt one of my three compost bins. Two compost bins were full of last fall's garden detritus. I use a third bin as compost for potting up plants i've divided from the garden. But that bin was completely empty. The pallets that make the bin were burned in the winter solstice bonfire.

Finally. Finally, i stopped procrastinating and went looking for pallets. This was the unpleasant task i dreaded. My usual sources of pallets had dried up, so now what?

As an introvert, i avoid making phone calls, except in those moments when i just pick up the phone and do it. I had managed to not drive the truck to town to scout out possible pallet sources; I'd rather drive my car to town.

So many avoidance strategies. Such a long line of unpleasant thoughts: need new bin; don't know where to find pallets; don't want to call and ask; don't want to take the time; don't want to stop and ask.

And then the day came. Someone told me where to find pallets. I drove there. I asked. I loaded up my truck. As simple as that.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Lonesome Dove

Image result for one legged dove
Our lonesome, one-legged dove survived the winter and visits us often every day. She's not only single-legged, she's a single female--she doesn't have a mate--which is unusual for mourning doves. Perhaps she's in mourning?

If she's lonely, she seems to have adopted us. She spends long minutes, sitting on the railing of our deck, not eating sunflower seeds, just cogitating her dove-y thoughts.

Feeling alone is one of our basic human emotions. It manifests in various flavors, such as I don't belong... or I feel left out.

On the one hand, we all belong to the human race. And on the other hand, since it's all emptiness, there's nothing and no one to belong to.

So the next time you feel like a lonesome dove yourself, remember this poem by Kahlil Gibran.

On Children
 Kahlil Gibran

Your children are not your children.

They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Q-tip Flowers

During these rainy, overcast days, white bloodroot flowers are staying curled up, poking up from their curled up leaves. One friend thinks they look like Q-tips.

The bloodroot flowers are protecting themselves from the elements, and, i suspect, so do many of us. Some of us (many of us?) protect ourselves from the slings and arrows of daily life with our own individual style of armor. For some, it's the quick wit; for others, zinging opinions and judgments. Still others just don't come out of their shell, and act like professional wallflowers.

Loving-kindness to the rescue! Friendliness toward ourselves provides sufficient warmth to begin to open to others. Say a few words of kindness toward yourself right now.

When the sun comes out from behind the clouds, the bloodroot flowers open.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

April Showering

Siberian Squill
It's April showering out there in the garden right now. The May flowers are arriving daily as i notice early delivery on blooming daffodils, bloodroot, and hyacinth. Spring is truly sprung.

And how do we shower ourselves with kindness and patience?

Spring starts with the little bulbs blooming--snowdrops, cobalt blue squill, dainty white and light blue striped pushkinia.

We start with little doses of wishing well for ourselves.
May i abide in the well-being of the garden.
We befriend ourselves, just like we befriend our flowers.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Basket Desire

While i was at the food co-op, i bought a beautiful basket from Ghana. My rationale was that i need another harvest basket. Sometimes, my regular harvest basket is too small. Well, this basket is even smaller. Don't ask how this makes sense to me. Maybe it's just that this new basket is pretty.

Desire. I see something pleasant. Very pleasant. It sort of coincides with a previous desire for another harvest basket. This one doesn't fill the bill. I already have a too-small harvest basket for occasional use.

Desire deludes me into thinking / feeling I need that.

Here i am, trying to prune down my possessions, yet another new thing sneaks into the house under the guise of being beautiful and sort of what i was looking for (but not quite).

Desire. It feels so delicious. But then, second thoughts are so stressful.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Spring Revolution

A revolution has happened. A week ago today, we were home-bound by snow and sleet and freezing rain. Today, the sun is shining, and the daffodils are blooming. Birds and squirrels are chasing each other.

On Friday, my 95-year-old hospice client woke up to a day like any other. She fell twice during the morning, and by noon was living in a nursing home.

Change. Change is the only thing that is constant.

There's only this moment--this ever-changing moment.

Live it.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Sowing Alyssum

Today, i strolled along my walkways and garden steps, sowing tiny
alyssum seeds as i went.

Strewing the seeds is so much easier than any of the alternatives--buying the plants or growing the teeny-tiny plants myself. These seeds will be blooming by the second week of June.

Now is the time to plant the seeds of your intentions. One meditation teacher practices the paramis every day (generosity, integrity, renunciation, wisdom, energy, patience, truthfulness, resolve, loving-kindness, and equanimity). Whew! That's quite a list.

Another teacher friend focuses on the five precepts a.k.a integrity (do no harm, take nothing that is not freely given, speak truthfully and helpfully, use sexual energy wisely, and keep the mind clear from intoxicants).

Choose your own list--which might be just one quality. Loving-kindness is always a good place to start.

Sow that beautiful quality and watch it grow in your life.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Pink Cereus

My pink cereus is blooming. The flower is very similar, though much smaller, than a night-blooming cereus. And the pink cereus flower lasts for several days instead of just a few hours.

Notice how the mind compares one cereus to another, one person to another, one situation to another. While this comparison is very handy for categorizing--families of flowers, for instance--it is not so kind when we compare our meditation practice to someone else's or compare our yoga pose to someone else's. This tendency to compare hooks up with the Negativity Bias (The mind is like Velcro for the negative, and like Teflon for the positive.), and creates an icky stew of unworthiness and self-hatred.

Focus on the positive for 30 seconds. Let your eyes rest on a blooming flower. Relax. And smile.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Walking Bear Foot

Somebody has been walking barefoot on our dirt driveway. Since snow is still clumped around the edges, it wasn't me.

A bear roams in the woods around our neighborhood. He was at the neighbors, half-a-mile away, day before yesterday, wrecking their composter.

"Why doesn't the bear eat your compost?" my neighbor asked.

"Well, it's full of leaves and garden detritus," i said. "And the kitchen scraps are all mixed in with that."

If we don't inadvertently feed the bear--our neighborhood bear or the bear-of-a-problem in our mind--it won't wreak havoc with our (empty) bird feeders, our leafy compost piles, or our calmed mind.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Summer Tires

'Tis the season to change winter tires for summer tires. I took the risk yesterday, had my tires changed, and veered home through the snow/sleet/slush. Very exciting driving.

One of my neighbors has already switched to his Crocs summer footwear despite the snow. He's already wearing his summer "tires," which makes for very exciting walking downhill on the snow-ice.

Sometimes, the seasons change faster than we do. Sometimes, the weather changes faster than we are prepared for. Sometimes we change faster than our friends do.

Change. By tomorrow, the snow will be mostly melted, and it will be time for summer footwear--again.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Turkey Tracks

With 3 inches of snow-sleet-slush on the ground, i saw turkey tracks in our driveway, just inches from the garage door. Their arrow-shaped tracks seemed to be giving me directions, but, which way?

In March, i was at a 10-day retreat. The teacher offered us different instructions with every sit. "But you only need one practice," he said. "If the other practices don't work for you, do not, repeat, do not take that as a sign of your ineptitude. Do not take that as a sign of your unworthiness." In other words, you are not a turkey, no matter what your inner judge tells you.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Last Chance to Plant Poppies

Due to yesterday's wintry mix, there's one inch of snow on the ground. So-called snow. It's more like tiny round pellets of ice. But i don't have time to quibble because today, this morning is my last chance to sow poppy seeds.

Poppy seeds like it cold. I couldn't understand why my poppy seeds barely germinated until a gardening friend told me to sow poppy seeds on top of the last snow.

When is the "last snow"? Who knows?

And who knows when our own "last snow" might be. I have a new app on my phone, We Croak, which reminds 5 times a day that i am going to die. The We Croak website says, "Find happiness by contemplating your mortality."

I'm going to contemplate happiness by strapping on my yak-trax and throwing some poppy seeds around on top of the snow.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Wintry Mix

Virginia Weather: 'Wintry Mix' Could Impact Thursday Morning CommuteIt's precipitating a wintry mix today--snow, sleet, freezing rain. The temperature hovers right around freezing. Here it's 31 degrees, but three miles south, it's 33 degrees. The earth has warmed just enough to melt the snowflakes, but the snow accumulates on my car. A glaze of ice covers sidewalks and steps.

We are in the transition zone between rain and ice, freezing and not freezing.

In fact, we are always in a transition zone from one thing to another. We think that people, places, and things have hard edges, but quite often, things are morphing. Like the weather today. A time when it's neither this nor that. More likely, it's this and that. Uncertainty and instability prevail. Take a close look to notice the ever-changing change.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Heather is in Bloom

I'm at a writing retreat this weekend at a New Hampshire farm B&B, facilitated by local editor Heather and writer Rebecca. Our group of 7 women writes from 9 in the morning until 9 at night. During our breaks we can wander around the gardens and through the nearby fields and forest.

Heather is blooming here in the full sun sloping field--just the right habitat for heather--the proper habitat, which i don't have at my house.

I'm also in the right habitat for writing, for following through with some writing projects, and for talking about writing with other writers.

I'm also in the right habitat for keeping my 6:00 a.m. date on Skype to meditate for an hour every morning with a Dharma friend. At that hour, the B&B is quiet, and i can find a quiet nook to sit comfortably in.

Writing, meditating, spending time outdoors--this weekend, i'm living according to my intentions, and feel deeply satisfied.

Friday, April 13, 2018

The Goldfinches are Gold

Image result for goldfinchThe goldfinches just turned yellow while i wasn't looking. Last week, they were dressed in olive drab. This week, the males are decked out in their finest yellow.

Change is happening all around us. We are hard-wired to notice potential threats. Meanwhile, a raft of changes happens under the radar. Like the goldfinches turning gold.

This lovely change brings happiness in many ways.

  • the color is brilliant
  • the change means spring!
  • the goldfinches are flocking
  • the goldfinches are singing

Open your heart to unnoticed happiness.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Joy is Contagious

Last night, my church organist sweetie gave a pot of hyacinths to the pastor. Her face lit up with joy. "She looked beautiful," he said.

This beauty, this joy is the result of generosity. My husband was generous. The pastor's conveyed her gratitude with a beaming smile. She felt joy; my sweetie felt joy. And when he told me the story, i felt joy.

Joy is contagious.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Head in the Sand

After a month of retreat in the sunny South, i'm home. I've finally brought indoors pots of forced hyacinths, which are beginning to bloom.

One bulb in one pot of hyacinths had buried its head in the dirt and was growing into and under the soil. I pried its pale, pale green leaves out of the dirt this morning.

We too sometimes bury our heads in the sand. We don't want to look. We don't want to see. We don't want to acknowledge the truth of the present moment.

The Buddha recommends 5 Daily Reflections to help us work against this tendency to not want to acknowledge true life.

  • I am of the nature to grow old. Aging is unavoidable.
  • I am of the nature to become ill. Sickness is unavoidable.
  • I am of the nature to die. Death is inevitable.
  • Everything i cherish will change and vanish.
  • Karma is the only thing i own.
Some of my friends turn up their noses at these seemingly unpleasant thoughts. But i'm trying to pry my own head out of the sand to see and acknowledge the beautiful life all around me.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Ode to Joy

A symphony of goldfinches was singing from the pine tree tops this morning. A gray day of sprinkling rain, yet the finches sang joyfully, despite the outer conditions.

Where do we find our joy--despite outer conditions of aging, illness, or things not going according to plan?