Saturday, October 31, 2020



When i saw a skeleton at the hardware store, i bought it. It now stands at the corner of my driveway and the road, greeting visitors.

The Buddha recommended 5 daily recollections, one of which is "I am of the nature to die. Death is unavoidable."

These Days of the Dead, preceded by All Hallow's Evening (Hallow E'en), are an excellent time to bring this remembrance to mind. Perhaps several times today and tomorrow.

All around us, people are sick and dying from COVID. Just like them, i am of the nature to become sick and die.

Our challenge is to have compassion for the suffering of others and for ourself. This is not a time to say, "Well, they were old anyway, so it doesn't really matter if they die." Put yourself in their shoes; put yourself in their bare feet. Walking on cold ground. Walking toward a grave. Put yourself in their bones. Put yourself in their skeleton.

Practice compassion.

Friday, October 30, 2020

Fuzzy Fingers of Fungus


Fuzzy white fingers of fungus are growing out of a birch log in my wood stack. Aaagh! They're coming to get me!

Part of the fun of Halloween is the thrill of fear that doesn't last too long. Feel the fear of fuzzy fingers growing out of a log.... Coming to get me! Aaaagghhh. (But not really. :) Ha. Ha.

Often, fear is no laughing matter. Fear lodges in our muscles and organs. Fear lodges in our minds, and our neural pathways keep running over the same ruts.

The antidote to fear is friendliness. Loving-friendliness to our self, first of all. And then, if and when we can, to the scary thing. Start with the easy stuff.

I'm feeling loving-friendliness toward white fuzzy fingers of fungus.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Canning Tomatoes

 I thought i was done with canning. No more canning tomatoes. But during these COVID months, what else do i have to do except grow tomatoes and can them?

My sweetie was told that tomatoes flare his eczema, so i limited my tomato plants to 2 sungolds. Then a friend gave me 2 Roma plants, so, of course, i planted them. As i mentioned a couple of days ago, 50 green tomatoes are slowly turning orange and losing their garden-fresh taste, so i made tomato sauce. I pour the tomato juice off the sauce because (1) i don't like watery tomato sauce and (2) i use the tomato juice (tomato broth is more apt) in making winter soups or Spanish rice.

The boiling water bath does take time to heat up. All that work for 4½ pints of tomato sauce.  And the tomato sauce is just for me.

That's what some people say about meditation: All that work, and it's just for you. Isn't that navel-gazing selfish?

Finding peace of mind ripples out to our family and friends. Practicing kindness establishes a habit of kindness, and the world--our neighbors, our community--need a lot of kindness right now.

Be a light for your world. Feed yourself some peace in meditation, and see what happens.

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Love Doesn't Care

 I have a cauliflower in my garden! You may object to the black and brown spots on it, but listen to my thrill. I have a cauliflower! How many times have i planted cauliflower to harvest exactly zero?

It's true i have one and only one cauliflower, and i love it, no matter what it looks like, no matter that the slugs ate the north side of it. They left the rest for me.

Love doesn't care what the beloved looks like--old or young, short or tall. Love only loves.

The world judges. "Oh, your cauliflower has spots." "Oh, your cauliflower is not perfectly round."

Love doesn't care. Love only loves.

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Not So Red Tomatoes

I harvested 50 green Italian tomatoes before the first frost two weeks ago. I've been waiting for them to redden and eating the reddest one every day. But lately, well, they aren't all that red; they are a yellowish-red. I guess that means orange. And they are starting to taste like mushy store-bought tomatoes. They've lost their fresh-from-the-garden flavor.

This is what happens when we drift away from direct experience of our meditation object. The object (the breath, the body, metta) becomes mushy, not as clear, and not as delicious.

The tomatoes will never regain their true tomato-y-ness, so i'm making sauce out of them.

But we can freshen up our attention. Straight up our posture. Take a few deep breaths to energize the body. Become interested in something or other. Investigate. One of my favorite investigations is how dullness works.

I'm going to make sauce out of dullness yet!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Ladybugs in the House


While i was on retreat last week in our guest cottage, i noticed lady bugs clumped in the corners of the living room above the windows. I had just vowed not to harm any living being for 10 days, and there were dozens of ladybugs sharing my retreat space. Oh, how i wanted to get out the vacuum cleaner and suck them up.

Now, now Cheryl. That's not a very kind or harmless thing to do.

I took a deep breath and got the broom and dustpan. I could knock the ladybugs down with the broom, sweep them into the dustpan, and then throw them into the garden.

There. It wasn't so hard to be kind, after all.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Turnip Soup

I harvested a very large turnip. Since there was no way to hack into it, i put it in my stewpot and boiled it for an hour till it was tender. What do you do with turnips anyway?

I divided this one into 3 parts. I mashed one-third of it; i diced a third; and i stored the other (cooked) third in the refrigerator, awaiting further inspiration.

Since i didn't grow up with turnips on the supper table, i always feel at a loss about how to cook them. But two years ago, i had a glorious turnip soup for my birthday at a fancy restaurant. I've been salivating for turnip soup ever since.

But what to do and how to do it?

Doubt is a serious affliction on our spiritual path. Doubt can prevent us from even getting started at all. I could leave the turnips in the garden all winter just because i don't know how to harvest them or cook them.

So step aside doubt. Let's figure out what to do with a turnip. First, i bought some heavy cream. Any creamy soup is improved by real cream. I put a quart of mashed turnip in a saucepan, added half a cup of cream, and a cup of chicken broth. I used my immersion blender, then added garlic salt and thyme. Oh, my. Turnip soup is delicious.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Pine Cones

It's a prolific year for pine cones, and i'm collecting bags full of them. A pine cone or two makes starting a fire in the wood stove easy; pine cones are almost as good kindling as fat sticks.

In these political days, it's easy to light the fire of righteousness. What's the matter with those people? Why can't they see things the way i see them?

But the fires of anger, worry, discontent, and even disgust are not dowsed by fighting fire with fire. The fire of fear burns hot. We are afraid of the other side, and they are afraid of us.

The Buddha said: Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.

We might say: Anger never ceases by more anger, but is healed by kindness alone.

Let's kindle kindness. Let's take the high road and extinguish our own internal fires of fear. 


Wednesday, October 7, 2020

The Wind


Just before the rain, the wind  blows beautifully. A cool warm wind. I lie in the hammock and watch clouds skid across the sky. 

It's heaven out near the vegetable garden, surrounded by red- and yellow-leaved trees. I'm wearing long sleeves, but the temperature is just right. 

The wind blows the Cheryl-ness out of me until i can feel the clouds skating across the sky also skating through my chest. It's wonderfully wild in the great outdoors.

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

BLT in a Bowl

I planted only 3 tomato plants because my sweetie is allergic to tomatoes. Nevertheless, i now have a lot of tomatoes to eat. Some days, i eat fresh tomatoes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

One of my favorite ways to eat tomatoes is a BLT sandwich, but who has time to fry bacon? So i buy bacon bits--fake bacon bits from the co-op or real bacon bits from the supermarket. I try to avoid gluten, so i now eat a BLT bowl. And truth be told, i don't have lettuce, so it's just diced tomatoes, bacon bits, and a dollop of mayonnaise.

Oh, how that recipe for BLT has changed over the years. I grew up with Wonder Bread and Miracle Whip. I used to eat mayonnaise (Miracle Whip) sandwiches after school.

In my 20s i converted to whole wheat bread, and in my 30s to "real" mayonnaise, Hellman's or Best on the West Coast. In my 60s, i started drifting away from bread.

I still call it BLT even though it barely resembles its former self. And come to think of it, i still call me "I," even though i barely resemble my former self.

Is a BLT in a bowl still a BLT?

Am I still I?

Monday, October 5, 2020

Big Move

The big move is happening. The seasons are changing. Potatoes and winter squash have been drying in the woodshed, along with the gladiolus corms. Now it's time for everything to move to the basement, so that the wood can start coming into the woodshed.

Onions and garlic are already in the basement, but i have to shuffle them around to make room for incoming vegetables. I need more shelf space.

They say that wood warms you twice: once when you stack it and once when you burn it. Potatoes and squash aren't nearly as heavy, but there's a lot of up and down on the basement stairs. Good exercise!

Change. It's the only thing that's constant.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Harvesting Hemp


A friend gave me 2 hemp plants in June, which grew to be six feet tall and 2 feet wide. So what can i do with hemp? Other than make rope. I would like to harvest some hemp seed, but all i have are buds and flowers.

For now, it's cut and drying in the shed.

Here i am, face to face with don't-know mind. I don't know what to do with hemp, and i don't know what to write about it.

I much prefer knowing what to do, knowing something, knowing anything! But that kind of knowing is not available right now.

So i settle into don't-know and feel how it feels in my body. Uncomfortable. A slight tension impels me forward to wanting. Wanting to know. Wanting to find out.

In the meantime, i have to be satisfied with "Don't know."