Monday, June 1, 2020

A Disabled Goldfinch

Art Lander's Outdoors: The American Goldfinch, male turns bright ...A disabled male goldfinch comes to eat sunflower seeds at our bird feeder every day. I'm pretty sure he's blind in his left eye because he doesn't startle when i move, stand up, leave the deck, and go into the house. He simply continues eating seeds. He often misses the seeds on the railing and has to make 2 or 3 attempts to get the seed into his beak.

This goldfinch has Groucho Marx black eyebrows, and his left eye seems to be squinted closed. He flies in a quick swooping pattern and hovers like a hummingbird just before he lands. My theory is that he doesn't have depth perception. There's a lot of fluttering going on as he comes in for a landing.

Although we put out a handful of seeds on the railing several times a day, we keep about a quarter cup of seeds in the bird feeder for the hours we aren't near the deck. Our goldfinch's favorite position is to grab a few seeds from the bird feeder. Then while he's balancing with one food on the perch and one foot on the feeder, he takes a power nap. His head sags; his body relaxes. I can see him breathing. He wakes up about two seconds later as another bird does a fly-by.

Today, when i came into the kitchen after gardening, the goldfinch knocked at the kitchen window 4 times. He sort of bounced off the window, not knocking himself out like birds do when they run into the window by accident.

I went out to the deck. There were no seeds on the railing and no seeds in the bird feeder. 

That disabled goldfinch is no birdbrain. He knew how to get my attention in order to get his supper.

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Vain Cowbird

Brown-headed Cowbird | Bird Gallery | Houston AudubonA cowbird has taken up residence near our deck. He loves to sit on the back of a chair and gaze at himself in the window. When we moved the chairs away from the window, he scooted around to the front porch where i have a glass gazing globe, filled with fairy lights, in a ceramic flowerpot. He gazes at himself in the gazing globe. How appropriate! That bird loves gazing at himself. What a vain guy.
Looking at ourselves in a mirror is one way we affirm that, yes, we do exist. If we had no mirrors, we would have no proof that we are separate from the world we experience. 
The Buddha's most difficult teaching is not-self. The ego's mind cannot understand this, so we may as well stop trying. Once in a while, especially on retreat, a glimpse arises. It's surprising. But once you've seen it, you can't unsee it.
Meanwhile, the cowbird looks and looks and looks at himself.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Early Bird, Late Bird

Northern cardinals are at their noisiest in spring | Star TribuneA cardinal swoops onto the railing of the deck before the sun rises. He's the early bird, the earliest bird to come for a breakfast of sunflower hearts. Soon, chickadees and goldfinches swarm the railing, which we keep well supplied with sunflower hearts. The chickadees eat from our hands; the goldfinches fly off in a flock as soon as we open the deck door. The cardinal does a fly-by, but will not land if we are anywhere to be seen. Instead, he perches in a nearby apple tree, perhaps hiding from us, though we can see him perfectly well.

Cardinals are shelf-feeders, not perching feeders, so occasionally I see him coming in for a landing, but, changing course at the last moment, he continues on down to the ground below our second story deck, where cast-off seeds are hiding in the grass.

After sunset, as the bird chorus quiets into the dusk, the cardinal makes a final visit to eat whatever remains on the railing. Quiet, alone, not bothered by or competing with anyone else.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

When the Robin Comes Bobbin'

Why two American Robins would sit on eggs in one nest - BirdWatchingLast fall, Bill cut down the climbing hydrangea that was crawling up the front of house and threatening to devour our metal roof. Its roots and tendrils had snuck into the cracks between the boards and battens of the siding, into the cracks under the eaves, and between the eaves and the roof.

Every spring a robin nested somewhere in that hydrangea tangle near our open bedroom window, and Bill, who likes to sleep late, would be awakened by the whinneying of the robin and its cheer-up-cheer-ly song. Bill was not cheered by this unwanted wake-up call.

This year, a robin is nesting in the euonymous climber on the other front corner of the house. I walk past it many times a day and hear the cheep-cheep of little birdies. I see one robin and another strolling through the flowers of my flowerbeds, successfully hunting worms, then flying three or six feet to the nest. 

Sometimes I wish I lived that close to my grocery store.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Tulip Surprise

Tulips surprise me every year. I buy them half price after Thanksgiving and force them in pots in the garage. By early March, their green shoots poke up out of the dirt, and I bring them indoors to warm up. As soon as one blooms, I take it and its pot full of sister tulips outdoors to the front step. Soon, a dozen pots of tulips decorate the front door.

Left in the refrigerator of outdoors, the potted tulips bloom for about three weeks, though this year, they held their color for nearly six weeks. Then I dig a hole in a flowerbed and plop the spent tulips into it.

A year later, a few tulips survive and surprise me. The chipmunks did not eat the tulip bulbs. It feels like a miracle, and I am grateful.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Day 44 by Guest Blogger Ellen Pratt

Goose Pond Swimming - Free photo on Pixabay
Day 44 of Vermont’s stay-at-home order and my life has taken on a dreamy quality, a feeling of being suspended in time and space. The minutes blend together into hours, the hours into days. I no longer need to check the time and I rarely look at my calendar as there are so few obligations now.  My life has shrunk to a five square mile Eden that I can reach on foot from my front door.   

I’m reveling in this new life. There’s a pervasive calm and a feeling of boundarylessness between me and my small world.  There’s no bracing against the sharp, early spring air, no automatically reaching for a coat when I leave the house for my daily walk. I stuff my scarf into my pocket, preferring to feel the wind against my face and neck. 

When I walk in the woods I am the stillness and the world is entering me. The tall oak and locust trees I once saw as foreboding now stand as serene sentinels granting me entry into their mystical palace.  I hike the hemlock ledge trail, climbing through the brown, dry, deciduous forest to the highest elevation in the neighborhood, a verdant world where moss-carpeted trails blend into moss-covered boulders sprouting miniature, feathery ferns. The lacy, emerald hemlock branches screen the cerulean sky, and a small, orange moth floats on a sunbeam and dances before me.

I’m captivated by the diversity of birdsong washing over me as I spend hours in the backyard lounge chair.  I’m as thrilled by this as by Yoyo Ma’s cello I listen to while making dinner.  If life doesn’t return to its pre-pandemic state I’ll never again want for anything as long as I have the birds and the music. 

I watch the fat female robin nesting in the eve of the woodshed. The chicks must be newborn for she hasn’t moved in a few days and her partner is busily delivering her meals and feeding her. I’ve spied on him through my field-glasses, hopping through the grass and cocking his head, aiming his one eye down and then stabbing his fierce beak to nab the prey. The worm looks impossibly fat through the binoculars and I almost think it’s a snake. The robin swallows it in one gulp.  Later I see him dangling a short, skinny worm in his beak to bring to his mate during her vigil. 

I notice the budding, origami leaves of the lilac unfolding each day. And the modest trillium in the woods, all dressed up and no place to go. My husband brings into the house a few flowering peach tree  branches that he pruned from the tree out back. He carefully trims the stems and gives them center stage on the cold wood stove in the front room.

At night I walk down the dark road, open to the mystery that has been revealing itself to me lately as I’ve opened to it.  I hear a soft flapping above me and look up to see a lone Canada Goose flying low,  just above the stand of pine trees at the edge of the road.  The moon is full and encircled by a hazy halo.  Down by the pond, where the goose has landed, the wood frogs are croaking their riotous anthem to the brilliant stars overhead. 

Friday, May 8, 2020

Red Tulips

red tulips open in the sun in spring at Phipps Conservatory in ...

Red Tulips

by Denise Levertov
Red tulips
living into their death
flushed with a wild blue
becoming wings
ears of the wind
jackrabbits rolling their eyes
west wind shaking the loose pane
some petals fall
with that sound one
listens for.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Soporific Lettuce

Beatrix Potter wrote that the effect of eating too much lettuce is soporific, and so the Flopsy bunnies all fell asleep under a lettuce plant.

Indeed, the white milky sap of a lettuce plant, especially wild lettuce, does have a slight sleepifying effect.

What are your soporifics? Pills? TV? Reading?

One of my soporifics is wheat. Wheat makes me sleepy. Two hours after a piece of toast, i feel like i need a nap. Therefore, i don't eat bread or pasta products on retreat. I renounce that delicious bread that the retreat center serves with the soup dinner.

There's a time and place for inducing sleep, but during meditation, sleepiness and laziness (aka sloth and torpor) is a hindrance.

We are on the path toward awakening. Therefore we need to be awake for our meditation. Wake up!

Then eat some lettuce before bedtime.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Trapping a Groundhog

A groundhog has conveniently dug a hole near my sorrel. Well, it's no longer "my" sorrel. It's gone. Nibbled right down to the ground.

Often when i happen to look out the kitchen window, i see the groundhog standing right next to the hav-a-heart trap sitting right beside her hole. I see her going in and out of her home, carrying nesting material in. I think she's using last year's bee balm, which must be very fragrant.

Since i don't have cantaloupe or watermelon, which the Hav-a-Heart website recommends for groundhogs, i've been trying apple pieces, bananas, and green beans. No luck yet.

Sometimes our troublesome states of mind are equally elusive. One friend is giving me the cold shoulder. I don't know exactly why, but i can guess. I hate the feeling of being shunned. "Don't contact me," she texted me.

The next morning in meditation, i realized that "Don't contact me" is one way of saying "Don't touch me," and in these times of virus, not-touching makes a lot of sense. Okay, i sighed to myself, I won't touch you with texts or emails or even letters of apology or asking for forgiveness. I understand that she doesn't feel safe with me.

But why do i continue having a hard time letting go of this story?

I just can't trap that groundhog yet.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

A Tu-lip Kiss

Yesterday i delivered 4 pots of tulips to friends.

One friend has a terminal illness and is jumping through the medical hoops so he can take "the pill" if he so desires--probably within the next 2 months. One pot of tulips to my masseuse. Oh, i could really use a massage about now. I stopped by to visit an extrovert couple who love company. We sat outdoors on their deck, about 10 feet apart. And the last one to a neighbor.

I've never been good at "dropping by" anyone's home, but yesterday i had the time to go out of my way and meander home. It didn't really take that long to stop and deliver some flowery cheer and exchange a few words--from a distance. I rather like this slowed-down pace.

The tulips have to serve as my virtual hug and kiss on the cheek.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Daffodil leaves are popping up through the snow. We are in the midst of winter-spring. Or is that spring-winter?

This is one of the problems with concepts and categories. We think "spring" means spring and "winter" means winter. Meanwhile, each day is full of changes. Sun, snow, rain, ice, and a new word my sister discovered "graupel," which means a soft, snowy hail.

Change. Every day the weather changes. Maybe we need 31 different words for each day in March to describe various combinations of conditions? Even then, dissatisfaction would creep in because spring or winter or the in-between doesn't look like it's "supposed to."

Keep your eye on the change. It's a deep teaching.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

My Tulips are Blooming

The tulips i forced in pots and brought indoors are starting to bloom. So outdoors they go, because they will last longer in the refrigerator weather out there.

The bulbs, which have been hiding out in the gloom of the garage for 4 months, are out in the open air. I think that's a good sign for me, who has been quarantined at home for less than 2 weeks.

Today i was out in a neighbor's woods, cutting down saplings with a friend. We stayed at least 6 feet apart from each other's saws. We are clearing the understory to allow more light and air.

That's what we all need: more light and more air.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Wonderful World of White

A wonderful world of white awaited me this morning. Beautiful, soft, and quiet. Sort of like meditation on a good day.

The world slows down to a whisper. Am i bored? Not much. Do i feel the impulse to move? Not really.

When the mind is dissatisfied, the body wants to move to escape that dissatisfaction. Or the mind throws up an entire stockade of thoughts--another escape.

Can i be satisfied with this wonderful world of white?

Monday, March 23, 2020

If All Else Fails....

Diana's Garden
Plant yourself a garden. Today. No flowers? No problem. Choose a flower pot and just start sticking pretty things in it. Fake flowers are fine. Use what you have, and be creative.

Cheer yourself up. Let yourself smile. Pretend like you are 6 years old and have a good time.

Then quietly check in with your mood. How do you feel? Pleasant? Or unpleasant?

My Dharma friend, Diana's garden definitely makes me smile.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Cold Last Night

Last night, the temperature here dropped to 21 degrees, so yesterday afternoon, i brought many of my potted tulips indoors. Now, i'm waiting for them to bloom in another week or two.

My sweetie and i are also waiting to see if the virus "blooms" in us. We flew home a week ago. Yes? Or no? The answer is "Don't know."

Consider how many thousands of things we don't know.
What am i eating for lunch? Don't know.
When will i take a nap? Don't know.
Where will i take a walk today? Don't know.

Those little don't-knows don't bother my mind. But then the mind latches on to one don't-know and keeps touching it like worry beads.

I open to not knowing.

Can you say that and feel it?

I am not willing to open to not knowing, because....

List whatever comes to mind. No judgment. Just listen to your list.

Infinite Not Knowing.

How does that feel?

Even the tulips do not know when they will bloom.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Hellebore is Blooming

Image result for "hellebore niger"
Hellebore niger, also called Christmas rose, is blooming now. I much prefer niger to the usual Hellebore orientalis, which blooms later. The "Christmas rose" can be found at my food co-op in December, but in the spring i can't find it anywhere.

The niger blossoms face out as opposed to the facing-down flowers of orientalis. Perhaps orientalis is shy? Perhaps it doesn't want to look me straight in the eye?

When we gaze into someone's eyes for several seconds, we receive a burst of oxytocin--the bonding hormone. As a result, we feel warm and friendly and maybe even love for the other.

Try gazing at a dear one for a few seconds longer than usual. Or be really daring and gaze at someone you don't know very well. How does that feel?

When Hellebore niger blooms so early in the sprint, it's a sight for sore eyes.

Hellebore orientalis

Friday, March 20, 2020

The Snowplow Does Some Transplanting for Me

A big pile of driveway dirt and gravel sits at the end of the snowplow's run.  Two coral bells lie loose in the pile. That snowplow! It did some gardening for me this winter and transplanted those heuchera in a driveway terminal moraine* of sand and rocks.

Hmmm. I wonder where those heuchera are supposed to be. I guess they are supposed to be where they are. My gardener's mind just had different plans for these plants.

See how easily stress creeps in? I want something different than what is.

Do i want to rake the moraine back onto the driveway? No.
Do i want to transplant the heuchera? No. But yes, of course, i will.

Every "no" is stressful.

Do i want to be quarantined at home?

What a great opportunity to be out in the garden every day.

*A terminal moraine is the pile of of rocks bulldozed by a glacier at the furthest reach of the ice. A moraine is revealed as the glacier melts back.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Sunny and Warm

53 degrees and the sun is shining. I brought the deck chairs up from the basement so i could have lunch on the deck in my shirt sleeves and barefoot.

Oh, spring! I love you. Even though it's still March. Even though it will be another month before i take the snow tires off my car. Another 4 weeks before i store the snow shovel back in the garage.

Everything changes. Especially the weather. Especially in March.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Tulips in Flowerpots

In December, i planted tulip bulbs in flowerpots and set them in the garage. Now, they are six inches tall, so i'm bringing some inside to hurry up their blooms. The others are sitting in the waiting room of the front step.

Some of us bloom early, some late. Some of us zoom through school and hurry into adulthood. Some of us lag behind. Some careers take off, and some don't. Some bodies die faster than others.

Patience is the name of the game. Trust that Life (or whatever you may call it) is taking care of us.

Even the outdoor tulips will bloom eventually.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

No Potatoes

After 10 days away, we returned from vacation and stopped at the food co-op to stock up on supplies. No potatoes. No onions either.

This is where my personal "victory" garden comes in handy.  I have six meals of last summer's potatoes stored in my basement. Right outside the back door, the Egyptian onions are sprouting green. I can eat out of my garden, right now.

Mindfulness is never far away. Mindfulness brings us right into the present moment where peace lives. Yes, peace in this present moment. Right now.

Feel this moment. Don't fry your mind by lolly-gagging in the future. Come right back here to this present  moment. My moment is fine. How about yours?

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Breakfast with a Heron

Our 3-star hotel sits in front of a marina, so last night and this morning, i took a beach chair out of the trunk, so i could sit and watch the water while i ate a warmed-over breakfast (last night's dinner). Just below me a heron waded in the water, as if she didn't even see me.

She was eating her breakfast too, poking her bill into the sand, grabbing something-or-other, and gulp-gulp, swallowing down her long throat.

Just think of all the emotions we swallow every day. We swallow our feelings because we are adults--we are not children who freely express every little emotional cloud that blows through their small bodies.

As adults we swallow our feelings, and there they lodge, stuck in the body. Sometimes, you can literally read another person's emotions by the (somatic) complaint/illness in their body. For instance, my sweetie's back used to go out every time i left home for a week. "You're mad at me," i would tell him. He denied it for several years until a male friend told him that a lot of lower back problems are caused by stuffed anger. That's when my sweetie looked inside and said, "Yes, i get mad at you when you abandon me for a week." After that, his back didn't go out again for 20 years.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Azaleas Mirrored

The azalea bouquet in our hotel lobby sits on a mirrored table. I'm tempted to simply gaze at the beautiful reflection.

We often focus on the reflection rather than noticing the mirror, the screen of awareness behind/around the object that grabs our attention.

Awareness is all around us. It's invisible and difficult to notice. Yet awareness is alive. Awareness says Yes to everything.

Sunday, March 8, 2020


We are taking a break from mud season in the North Country by taking a vacation in the Florida panhandle where camellias are blooming. Delicate camellias are short-lived; they quickly turn brown and pass away. Yet while they live, i can't take my eyes off them. So lovely. So young. So full of promise.

A 38-year-old friend has been diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She is opting for wholistic treatment, and she is extremely clear about this. She has two young children. She bought an old house a couple of years ago and has refurbished it. So lovely. So young. So full of promise.

Sunday, March 1, 2020

Blue Orchid

My neighbor and i went to the Temple Forest Monastery yesterday morning.

Since monastics are not allowed to cook for themselves, they rely on the generosity of the community to provide the meals. 5 kitchen volunteers cooked up sufficient food for 25 people. On the table were Thai curries and dragonfruit.

The monastics ate first; then it was time for the lay people to walk around the buffet table.

The 11 monks are on their annual 3-month retreat. Nevertheless, we had a sweet conversation with Ajahn Chaganando after lunch. My neighbor took a bag of apples as her offering; i took a bag full of various tick repellents. The monks live in tiny cabins out in the New England forest, which is rife with deer ticks.

I admired the orchids on the altar, and couldn't take my eyes off the blue and purple orchid.

Generosity goes round and round. I give; they give; you give.

Thank you dear reader.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Tick Season Has Arrived

Image result for deer tick
The nymph on the right is about as big as a period. Period.

I hate to mention it, but it's above 28 degrees outdoors. The snow is still on the ground, and the temperatures in recent days have reached a high of 50. So pleasant.

Now for the bad news: Tick season has begun. Yes, ticks like it cool. They creep into action at around 28 degrees.

It's easy to think that snow = cold = ticks are still asleep. But the snow is no protection. The snow lulls us into a false sense of security.

It's time to spray all my clothes with permethrin. Or send them off and let Insect Shield do it for $8 a piece.

We protect our bodies. How do we protect our minds?

Protect your mind by practicing loving-kindness. You don't have to start with loving-kindness toward ticks. Start with someone easy--such as your dog or cat. Protect them from ticks, and thereby protect them from smuggling ticks into your house. Protect yourself and love your pet.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Love Flower

Agapanthus is blooming in my solarium. A friend gave me 3 pots of agapanthus 3 years ago. One bloomed last summer. Now the other two are blooming.

I love its delicate blue flowers on a tall stem. "Love" is part of its name--agape. The love flower (agape + anthos) reminds us to open our heart. It's easy to begin with a flower. Gaze at it for five minutes, ten, half an hour, and feel the joy as the mind quiets to reveal love is all around us, all the time.

I love the friend who gave me this love flower.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sweet and Sour

Image result for sugar on snow pickle
Hot maple syrup poured over snow
so it becomes like taffy.
Served with a dill pickle.
Did i tell you that the sugar-on-snow church dinners include a dill pickle with the maple syrup drizzled on the snow? Sweet and sour, New England style. Sweet and sour--like life.

The 8 Vicissitudes sum up sweet-and-sour perfectly.

Gain and loss,
Pleasure and pain,
Praise and blame,
Fame and disrepute

come and go like the wind.

Stand like a great tree 
in the midst of them all.

As much as we only want the sweet of life, the sour is often served up soon thereafter.

When i am praised, i don't take it seriously, because i can guess what's coming down the pike--today, next week, or next year. Blame. Ouch!

Take the sweet and sour together, and you have the whole world.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Drilling for Maple Sap

Image result for drill maple trees sap
The drills were out today--drilling holes in maple trees to tap them for sap. Oh, boy. I know what that means: fresh, hot maple syrup coming my way very soon. Maple syrup church dinners with hot syrup poured on snow. Oh, my. I'm melting just imagining it.

But first: 40 gallons of sap boils down to 1 gallon of syrup. Sort of like our life. 40 years of experience boils down to a small amount of wisdom. Now i know better than to....  Now i know when to shut my mouth. "Life is short" and other pithy sayings.

Wisdom. Isn't that what we really want? Peace and wisdom.

Drill past superficial appearances. Drill down into your base of love and kindness. That's where the sweetness is.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Red-Twig Dogwood

Image result for red twig dogwood snow

Red-twig dogwood (Cornus sericea) is especially beautiful in the winter when its red twigs stand out against the white snow. My red-twig has variegated leaves, which make it interesting all summer long. The dogwood flowers do not look like dogwood flowers; instead, they look like an umbrella cluster of small white flowers.

I have to prune it back to the ground every two or three years in order to obtain the bright red young growth. Old branches are thick and brown, sort of like old people.

Ah, the beauty of youth.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Half-Price Roses

On Valentine's Day, my sweetie had knee surgery, so 3 days later, when he drove to town for physical therapy, he brought home a bouquet of red roses.

"Happy Valentines Day," he hugged me. "The roses were half price."

That's my McSweetie--scotch with his dollars. Sometimes, he's a thrifty Scotsman; sometimes he's frugal. Sometimes, he's just plain stingy.

Generosity is the antidote to stinginess.

My McSweetie was generous to me: red roses for Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Pileated Woodpecker

Image result for pileated woodpecker
A pileated woodpecker is visiting our maple tree. Again. She was here last winter and left foot-long holes in one of the big branches. A living branch. The one next to it was dead. But i have to trust that the woodpecker knows her business. She knows where to find carpenter ants.

So it is with our bodies. My body looks healthy, feels healthy, and then the doctor finds something and cuts it out.

Maybe the pileated woodpecker is a tree surgeon?

Photo courtesty of

Monday, February 17, 2020

Old Potatoes

All my red potatoes have sprouted down in the basement, even though i covered them with a towel to keep them in the dark.

Planting season is 3 months away, so i won't keep them for seed potatoes--although that idea is quite enticing.

Instead, i'm cutting off the sprouts and grating up those wrinkled red skins to make hash brown potatoes. Yes, the skins are wrinkled. They look old. The potatoes are not pretty, but they still are a vegetable contributing to my well-being.

We get old and wrinkled too. We sprout hairs in unexpected places. We sprout brown spots in unwanted places. But we are still good for something.

An old person eating old potatoes. Why not?

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Frozen North

Image result for sun shining blue sky frozen

It is C-O-L-D here in the North Country. Freezing. Below freezing. Way below freezing. Frozen. Frozen hard.

And the sky is blue. The sun is shining. It's a beautiful day.

The house was cold when i got up this morning, but 5 hours later, it's tropical in here thanks to passive solar sunshine.

Just when i want to categorize something (or someone), i see that the opposite is also true at the same time. Cold AND hot. Inside AND outside.

Identity is a peculiar thing. It keeps changing. Just like everything else.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Blooming Paperwhites

On New Year's weekend, a Dharma friend came to our guest cottage for a self-retreat. He gifted me with a narcissus bulb, which is blooming now.

I offer him a gift. He offers me a gift. Generosity all around.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Happy Heart Day

I love going to the Kids' Craft Fair in early December to buy handmade gifts from kids. A scarf from a 10-year-old knitter, cardinal cards from a 9-year-old artist, votive candles from an 8-year-old.

I bought a few sunflower seed hearts specifically for Valentine's Day. The seeds are glued together with gelatin, which dries clear and invisible.

I'm wishing a Happy Heart Day to the birds who visit our bird feeder. Generosity makes my heart feel happy.

And a Happy Heart Day to you too, dear reader.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Ceramic Birdhouse

While i was at the hospice thrift store, i found a ceramic birdhouse. I bought it for $3. It's cute with painted flowers and butterflies. But ceramic?

For now, it's decorating my solarium. In the spring, i'll take it out to the front step with the flowerpots. I do wonder how it will look hanging from a tree.

The ceramic birdhouse has two drainage holes in the bottom. That's good. But how am i going to clean it out next fall?

The entrance hole is big, so maybe a mid-sized bird will make a home in it. Little birds would be at the mercy of big bird (or squirrel) intruders.

Some things look good, look beautiful, but turn out to be useless.

A lot of the things we decorate our lives with turn out to be clutter.

Maybe the ceramic birdhouse will turn out to be clutter too, and i'll clean it up and give it back to the hospice thrift store so they can sell it to someone else.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Tulip Bouquet

When we returned home from our Caribbean vacation, we found a bouquet of tulips in the kitchen from our house-sitter. What a lovely and generous gift.

The house was warm and clean. Tulips on the table. Welcome home!

How would it feel to welcome every event? Welcome snow. Welcome slippery roads. Welcome seeing. Welcome hearing. Welcome feeling. Welcome thoughts.

Welcoming everything is another way to come home to our true self.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Searching for Hyacinth Forcing Vases

I often cruise through our local hospice thrift shop. I'm always looking for hyacinth forcing vases. Wine decanters work perfectly with a narrow neck to hold the bulb and nearly a quart of water to see the swirl of white roots.

Right now, my basement has 50 vases of hyacinths getting ready to bloom. Today, i gave away 3, so, yes, i'm already preparing for next year's batch. I never have quite enough forcing vases.

I love his win-win-win of shopping at the hospice thrift store. I get to support an organization i love; i buy forcing vases; and they are inexpensive--sometimes just 25 cents, sometimes a dollar.

So when i'm giving away hyacinths i can freely offer the vase as well.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Bowing Birch Trees

The last ice storm bent birch saplings to the ground. Those birch trees can touch their fingers to their toes.

The trees surrender to the weight of ice. Can we surrender to Life? Let go of our need to control things? Let Life take us where it will.

Sometimes, we just have to bow down of Life. Not my will, but thine.

The birch trees are beautiful.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Purple Heart

Purple heart (Tradescantia pallida) grows in masses here in the Caribbean. I love to take cuttings of it at home because it roots easily in water. Using it for a massed planting in my flowerbeds always brings comments. "What are those purple leaves?"

Those purple leaves are related to spiderwort.

In this election year, as we become acutely aware of so-called "red" and "blue," we might unstick our minds from that concept and realize that everyone of us had red blood in our arteries and blue blood in our veins. In one sense, our hearts are "purple."

Loving what is, even when it is difficult.

Friday, January 31, 2020


Jasmine grows wild here in the Caribbean. Small white flowers beckon me from the roadside. Ahhh. The heady, sweet fragrance of jasmine--one of my favorites.

Jasmine's named is derived from an Arabic word meaning "gift of God." What are we doing with our god-given gifts? What am i doing with my God-given gifts individually? And what are we as a society doing with the gifts that God (or Nature) has given us?

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Houseplants in the Tropics

The very small garden (4' x 4') at our vacation condo's front door is crowded with plants that i have in my solarium at home. Banana tree, variegated scheffilera, agave.

Here in their native habitat in the tropics, they thrive and look lush. My houseplants at home--banana tree, plain green scheffilara--look pathetic in comparison.

During their summer vacation outdoors, my houseplants perk up and look lush. Then i bring them in doors and they start to decline and look piqued.

I have houseplants in the first place for the joy they bring me. Ahhh. Green and growing plants. Some, like geraniums, with flowers.

When the mind compares my housebound North Country plants to the tropics, i and my houseplants always lose.

The comparing mind can't help but compare. That is its main job. And the comparison? Useless. Really useless.

I'm sinking into the beauty of what is. Right here. Right now.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Blue Sky

We are on vacation in the Caribbean, expecting sunshine every day. Yet a few days have been overcast with sprinkles or easy tropical rain. By afternoon, the clouds clear and the sun is shining in the blue sky again.

The Blue Sky vine (Thunbergia) is a lovely familiar tropical vine whose periwinkle flowers drop on the ground.

Rain falls. Flowers fall. It's all impermanent. Things change. The weather changes. Flowers change. Yesterday the blue vine flowers were fresh and lovely. Today they are old and brown.

I'm enjoying the blue sky here in the Caribbean.

Monday, January 27, 2020

No-see-ums on the Beach

Every evening on vacation, we walk down to the beach to watch the sunset and marvel at the colors.

Just then, no-see-ums come out and start to crawl on my skin--one on my arm, another on my toe. Annoying. They're not quite itchy, but they will be if i scratch the itch. If i can bear to let the itch just itch, then i won't be scratching the same bite for the next 4 days.

This is how it is when we try to break a habit. Oh, it's so enticing to just do that same thing again. Scratch that itch. A moment of relief. Then the itch starts again. This is the price i have to pay for succumbing.

The beach is so beautiful at sunset.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Caribbean Milkweed

Here in the Caribbean, they grow BIG milkweed--about six feet tall with leaves as big as my hand. The purple-and-white star flowers are about an inch across, which is big for a milkweed.

Interesting that this toxic plant is named after the Greek god of medicine--Asclepius.

Sometimes we take a little bit of poison for a cure or as a prevention. Radiation and chemotherapy for instance. Or the blood thinner Coumadin, which is rat poison.

Several of my friends who have refused radiation have since sailed out into the ocean of life and death. Sometimes, Nature simply takes it course.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Beautiful Bougainvillea

Miracle! Suddenly, we are in Caribbean. Going barefoot. Wearing shorts. Beautiful bougainvillea outside our bedroom window and draping over the patio below.

A couple of days ago, i was surrounded by snow and ice. The temperature was in the single digits. I kept chucking wood into the woodstove.

Change. All sorts of change--weather, clothing, location. Only one thing is changeless: can you notice the invisible Presence of the wordless? The screen upon which this entire play of life is projected. That which is with you all the time--closer than close.