Sunday, April 28, 2019

Sorrel Soup

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Sorrel is ready to harvest. I do love perennial vegetables, especially something such as sorrel that surprises me. What are those big green leaves? They are ready to make into soup! Tonight!

Sorrel has a strong lemon-y taste, so this evening i'm using broth and adding some leftover chicken.

Perennial wisdom is also good, year after year. That's the kernel of truth that is true in all religions, despite seeming differences.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Agapanthus Blooms

Last fall, my friend Barbara gave me 3 agapanthus plants. Her agapanthus is now blooming for the first time in years.

I could be envious. Hers are blooming, and mine are not. Wanh!

Or i could practice appreciative joy--the appreciation for someone else's good fortune. May her good fortune continue.

Agapanthus comes from the Greek word agape meaning unconditional love and the Greek word anthus meaning flower.

There's no better time to practice unconditional love than with a good friend whose agapanthus is finally blooming.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Buying Birdhouses

I went on a birdhouse buying binge four years ago, and hung birdhouses in the woods around my yard. Now those houses look rather dilapidated. However, my sweetie is making slumlord repairs, trying to re-attach the floor to two of the houses and close up the gap in the roof on another.

What self-respecting bird would choose that lovely birch bark house that is full of cracks? I saw a bluebird pair inspecting it in March. ("It's the wrong location!" i wanted to shout through the window.) Today a chickadee couple is considering it.


  • All birdhouses are impermanent. 
  • All nests are impermanent. 
  • All fledglings are impermanent. 
  • All birds are impermanent.
  • All birdsongs are impermanent.

But in the moment, each one is beautiful.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Hoe Your Own Row

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This morning in meditation group, one friend told us about her closest friend who is stopping medications for MS in favor of an all-natural diet approach. Since one person in our group is married to a person who has MS, we began venting our opinions. We felt we could do this with our close friend and neighbor, though we do not feel free to vent our opinions to acquaintances. We have to remember to "hoe our own row." In other words, mind our own business.
When i start minding someone else's business, i take on additional stress and distress. Why on earth would i want to do that? I may think i'm doing it out of love, but is love that stressful? Really?
Chances are i'm having an opinion because i'm attached to the outcome or attached to the person.
It's so much simpler and easier to hoe my own row, and just allow you to hoe yours--even though they may look completely different.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Tea Cup and Saucer

At the church bazaar last weekend, i bought a unique garden ornament--a cute teacup-and-saucer affixed to the top of a garden stake. Supposedly, the saucer is a bird bath, and the cup can hold bird seed. 

That might happen in a tame and civilized garden. Here, however, I can too easily imagine a squirrel jumping up to devour the bird seed and bringing the whole thing crashing down. I'll just let rainwater collect in the saucer and see if any birds partake of it.

How often am i seduced by a cute idea? And it's a beautiful garden ornament. Very unique. Oh, can i rationalize my purchase.

How often am i seduced into unskillful action or unwise speech? Oh, just this little bit won't hurt, i think.

It's cute. It makes sense in the moment.

Only later do i shake my head. What was i thinking?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Robin Reflection

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This morning during meditation i heard a robin repeatedly throwing himself at the kitchen window. This happens every spring during mating season as the robin sees his reflection in the glass and tries to scare off the "other" bird.

People do this all the time, every day, but it's hidden under the psychological defense called "projection." We "see" ourselves--our actions, our behavior, our mental thoughts--in the outside world, and if we have not been acting wholesomely, we pin our own unease on the other person.

For instance, if i can't find the keys to my car, i often think Bill! and blame him for my missing keys. They are lost, and i'm sure I didn't lose them. Then i find them in my coat pocket.

One of my recent discoveries was a judgment i was laying at the feet of a couple who were pillars of the church i used to attend. What hypocrites! i used to think. I believed this thought for decades. Last week, i reexamined this thought and the situation that gave rise to it. In my mind's eye, i saw myself acting hypocritically--shaking their hands, passing the peace to them, and smiling while thinking They are such hypocrits. I was the one who was a hypocrit in that situation: I didn't want to shake their hands; I did not want to pass the peace to them; and my smile was forced. They were simply a mirror for my own internal thoughts and emotions.

Oh, it is way past time to let that old, old grudge sink into the love and peace that they were sending my way. It's time to send them some love and peace, even though they are both deceased. It's time to send that girl Cheryl some love for her innocence and her misguided projections. It's time to make amends to her.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Hanging by Her Fingernails

This morning, i looked out the kitchen window to see a big, fat gray squirrel squirming on the squirrel-proof bird feeder. Aha! i thought. I'm going to give that squirrel a good scare.

I quietly opened the door, but the squirrel didn't run away. I walked right up to the bird feeder, and still the squirrel squirmed--and cried. Then i saw that it had one finger caught in the bird feeder. Every time she moved, her finger caused her more pain.

I got a screwdriver and put on leather work gloves. I faced the squirrel who quieted down and stared at me. Was she ready to meet her Maker? Or could she feel my good intentions? I pried the feeding gate off the bird feeder. Still, the squirrel was stuck, hanging by one fingernail.

I peered more closely to see the cause of the problem. Then, suddenly, she was free, and she bounded off.

We too are caught in the pain of stress and distress. We try to think our way through our problem, get caught in the story, and only cause ourselves more distress.

Even when we have the tool for our release close at hand, our little hands are still grasping for something we desire.

Then we drop the desire and are free. Free to live our own wild and precious life.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Firth of Forth

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I suppose it had to happen while we are in Scotland. We spent the night at a lodge on a golf course--not my usual milieu, but Scotland is the home of golf, so when in Scotland....

The stunning view looks across the golf course and across to the Firth of Forth to the Fife peninsula beyond. Translated into American English, "Firth of Forth" means the inlet where the Forth River flows into the North Sea. I can see cargo ships in the distance cruising in and out of Edinburgh.

I've been asking the lodge staff about other Scottish-English words i'm not familiar with. We are staying at the Craigielaw Lodge. What does "law" mean in this context? One archaic meaning of "law" is "low," which makes sense as the low land of the Craigielaw Estate.

We hear many words in Scottish English that i've never heard in American English. What???

When we start meditating, we become more familiar with words we may have had only passing acquaintance with. "Equanimity" is one. Several people have asked me what that means, as if they've never heard the word before. Once we experience equanimity in meditation, we have a visceral sense of what the word means. Calm, yes. Tranquil, yes. Balanced, yes. But there's an emotion that cannot be put into words. We say "equanimity," and know, really know what we are talking about.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Beech Hedge

Here in England and Scotland, we often see beech hedges--an inventive way to make use of those copper-y beech leaves that don't fall off until the very end of April. A beech hedge can be one "wall" of a garden "room."

The idea of a beech hedge is particularly attractive to me since i live in the woods, which is full of beech saplings. I recently heard the state archaeologist give a talk, and he said that 6,000 years ago, just after the Ice Age, beech made up 36 percent of the forest in Vermont. My guess is that it still does.

My neighbor, who lived in England 40 years ago, is trying to create a beech hedge to keep the deer out.

How do you create a protective hedge so that the positive qualities you wish to grow will actually grow? For instance, it's difficult to listen to the news and cultivate happiness at the same time. The news gives us many opportunities to practice compassion, but i often get stuck in ain't-it-awful or some other form of aversion. Aversion is a mental weed that i do not want to propagate.

My "hedge" means i don't read or listen to the news very much--maybe 5 minutes a day reading the headlines in our town newspaper. It's amazing how much i absorb through osmosis.

Here in the U.K., the news has been interminably of Brexit for the past two years. People are good and tired of that "news," which could just as well be called "olds."

It's time to build a hedge around your precious time, your precious life.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Giant Hellebores

At the Lindisfarne Gospel Garden on Holy Island, way up in the northeast corner of England, the hellebores were gigantic.

So this is what hellebores can look like when they are in a perfect climate--cool and damp and just barely freezing in winter.

Our meditation practice can bloom profusely when we get serious about our personal meditation climate. Yes, "cool and damp" may sound unattractive to our friends, but we know that cooling down the demands of the world and damping down our social media time can be its own reward.

In fact, there's a new acronym now: JOMO--the Joy Of Missing Out. Missing out on the ups and downs of the lives of our acquaintances; missing out on the daily news; missing out on social media--all this missing out gives us time and space and heart to practice joy.

And feel the wonder of giant hellebores.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Poison as a Remedy

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Monkshood -- Aconitum
Since i was coming down with a cold, which several other people in our tour group had already had, the tour leader gave me a homeopathic remedy--Hyland's Cold Tablets with Zinc. I dissolved 2 little tablets under my tongue. First, they dried out my mouth, then they dried out the drip, drip, drip.

I was surprised to read on the label Aconitum and Gelsemium--both of which are poisonous. Aconitum is monkshood, and Gelsemium comes from the Italian word for jasmine, also called jessamine in the southern states.

It's surprising that small doses of poison actually act as a remedy. Radiation and chemotherapy spring to mind as modern-day examples of poisons used to heal people.

In our daily lives, too much stress may finally lead us to the decision to simplify our lives. We eventually decide we would rather be happy than stressed; we prefer a peaceful mind to a stressful mind.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019


Walking through a London park, i saw dandelions hiding among perennial sage. The cheery yellow flowers made me smile, and when i looked more closely the little bee made me smile even more.

What is it that you want to pollinate in your life? Cheerfulness? Or stinging comments? What do you want more of in your life?

I keep angling toward happiness. My particular flavor tends to feel more like cheerfulness. How does happiness feel to you?