Sunday, July 29, 2018

Fennel Seeds

Image result for fennel
My neighbor has 7-foot tall fennel plants. When she first said "fennel," i thought she was talking Florence fennel, the bulb of which can be eaten like a vegetable--roasted or in salad. But no, she was talking about an ordinary fennel plant, a perennial (Foeniculum vulgare).

"Well, you could use the seeds," i said.

We looked at each other. She's a busy woman. I'm a busy woman. As much as we would love to pretend that we are farmers or bakers, neither one of us has that kind of time.

"I'm going to dig it out," she said.

One line of the Loving-Kindness sutta says,
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.

Just imagine being "unburdened" by the duties of the garden and subsisting on very little.

My neighbor is unburdening herself of several giant fennel plants.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Sulphur Cosmos

Related image
My neighbor has yellow cosmos growing in her garden.

“But Cosmos is pink or white, not yellow.” her friends tell her.

Sure enough, she has yellow cosmos. Sulphur cosmos—a beautiful, rich yellow-orange cosmos.

Sometimes, we express tough love by saying No. Our friends may judge us, “Well, that’s not loving. That’s not right. That doesn’t feel good. Love is soft pink or pure white. Love is not cautious amber yellow.” But sometimes, saying no is more loving than saying yes. Consider the families of wheedling addicts. No can be heart-breaking, but Yes winds up extending the heartbreak into months and years.

Sometimes Yes or Love looks like Sulphur cosmos

Friday, July 27, 2018

Hand Held Hummingbird Feeder

I recently found hand-held hummingbird feeders at the farm & garden store. Even though we have a regular-size hummingbird feeder, i put these dots, as they are called, beside my knee  every morning when i meditate on the deck.

This morning the hummingbird zoomed around me, fed at the regular feeder, then came for a few sips at the dot beside my knee. Then it sat on the wire around the edge of the deck and caught its breath--about 2 feet away from me.

I feel the thrill of sitting so close to this tiny bundle of life, the thrill of joy. What does joy feel like? Explore that thrill, and notice exactly where you feel it.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

No Slouching

Amaranthus lying down and gossiping with Veronica.
Due to the recent heavy rains, many flowers in the garden are lying down on the job. Two stalks of hollyhocks are lying flat on the ground while 5 sister stalks remain upright.

One line of the Loving-Kindness Sutta says,
Let them be able and upright.

We want to sit upright in our meditation--whether that's in a chair or on a cushion. No slouching.

We want to act in an upright manner in all our dealings with other people. We want to be honest and just. We want to be in accord with what is right. We aspire to be an upstanding citizen in our community--no low or crooked behavior.

Even when the storms of life conspire to beat us down, we do our best to remain upright.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Broken Sunflowers

Related imageSomeone has been rummaging around in my sunflower patch, resulting in several broken stems.The breaks in the stems seem high for deer. Do squirrels run up to the stalks and.... Do what? The flowers are just now blooming; they haven't gone to seed.

I'm cutting the broken stems and now have several lovely sunflower bouquets sitting in the kitchen.

Sometimes, even though we are growing lovely qualities of thoughtfulness, generosity, and kindness, we are met with resistance, hurt, irritation, even anger.

It's hard not to "catch" the other person's frustration or blame. Our challenge is to have an appropriate response--of kindness, despite feeling at odds. Responding with kindness alongside the broken beauty that we had intended.

After the hurt, we can still gather a bouquet and offer it--to ourselves, to the other person, or any other person, in generosity.

Monday, July 23, 2018

10-Foot Tall Mullein

That tall candelabra mullein i mentioned last month is now almost 10 feet tall. It's so tall, it's peeking into our second story kitchen window. And as you notice, it's twice as tall as i am.

I did not plant the yellow mullein there. I did plant the white mulleins (only 5 feet tall) nearby.

Mullein has always liked to grow in this spot. In fact, i have a photo of my naked sweetie posing as Adam, using a soft, furry mullein leaf as his fig leaf (see photo below--on this blog) 27 years ago.

Since mullein likes to grow in this little patio garden, I like mullein to grow there. This is called "accepting the things you cannot change," which leads to serenity with the way things are.

I love mullein.

My sweetie in 1991

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Minced Garlic

Next week, garlic will be ready to harvest, and i have 35 heads of garlic from last year still in storage. What to do? Make minced garlic.

I put a quart of (peeled) garlic cloves into the food processor, added olive oil, and let it whir for 30 seconds.

So, yes, the thought of too much garlic was unpleasant.
The thought of peeling 35 heads of garlic (= 150 cloves) was unpleasant.
The thought of having minced garlic in a jar in the refrigerator throughout the winter was, however, pleasant.

Peeling garlic is one example of prioritizing intention over mood. My mood would almost never be right for peeling that much garlic. I have to galvanize my intention.

The same holds true in meditation. Just sitting down to meditation often requires privileging intention over mood. Mood might say, "Later." Intention says "Now."

This Sunday morning, while my sweetie was eating his leisurely breakfast, i gathered my intention and stood at the sink for half an hour and peeled and peeled. His company was pleasant. Listening to classical music was pleasant. And putting the final product of minced garlic into a glass quart jar was very pleasant. Mission accomplished!

Friday, July 20, 2018

Butterfly Heaven

Image result for yellow swallowtailIt's butterfly heaven out there in the flower garden. I'm not sure why this year is different, but five kinds of butterflies flit around the milkweed. The most showy is the yellow swallowtail, but other, browner butterflies are carousing among the flowers.

One of the primary qualities of heaven is joy. Another is serenity. These beautiful qualities are 2 of the seven factors of awakening.

Wake up to the beauty all around you. Wake up to joy. Wake up to serenity. And in turn, these qualities will wake you up to even deeper joy and serenity.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Goldfinch on Yellow Mullein

Image result for goldfinch on mulleinThis morning, while meditating on the deck, i opened my eyes to see a goldfinch perched on top of a 6-foot tall mullein.

When i say "mullein," you are probably thinking Isn't that a roadside weed? 

Even weeds can have beautiful cousins.  The mullein in my garden has yellow flowers that are an inch in diameter. It’s a cadelbra mullein so it doesn’t have just a single stalk of flowers but has several branching offshoots.

The advantage to our weedy thoughts is that they form the basis for our compassion. We know how it feels to lose a loved one, to be surprised by a scary disease, to rail against divorce. So when a friend or acquaintance pours out their suffering, we can sit still with them, and say “Yes.” Not yes that we agree with their stressful thoughts, but yes to the sound of suffering, yes to the feel of fury, yes to the pain of the body.

We ourselves know the stress of those weedy thoughts and can offer the comfort of our presence.