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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

spring springing

front walk spring 1 Spring done sprung. At least at my house — witness dogwoods, Japanese maple, my mother’s azaleas. I am sooo ready.

The azaleas, as noted, came from my mother’s home, before she moved in with my sister. They weren’t the colour I would have chosen — although I love the Hershey red, now — but they were Mother’s, and each spring they remind me of her. Of the gardening I learned from the women in my family. And also that when I transplanted these azaleas, I ended up with heat exhaustion. Seriously. Hot June weather, BIG azaleas (probably 8-10 years old, even then). Dumb gardener.

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My life is sooo like that: tackle a project with great enthusiasm, and watch it (NOT me) triumph. I can’t remember how many times over the years I’ve jumped into something only to whack myself HARD uppaside of reality…

pinewood derby car

photo the author

It doesn’t seem to have taught me much about jumping, although most times I do learn about whatever whacked me. As in: it’s probably a good idea to drink a LOT of water when you’re outside working hard, and it’s a 100˚ humid Okie day. Or, no; I’m not able to lay paving w/ only the help of a 10-year-old and a 6-year-old. And don’t forget: there’s a LOT of sanding to get a Cub Scout Pinewood Derby car ready for paint. And there’s the graphite that someone probably should have mentioned. I don’t think either boy ever won anything until their father returned from overseas! (Not to mention that most folks did NOT glue the weights to the top of the car.)

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Still, I’d rather be a jumper than the kind of person who never tries. I think. :) I’m still prone to that leap of faith — and I guess, all things considered, it’s a faith in both the universe and myself. It’s probably not going away any time soon: it’s been my MO since I was a kid. Even though I was only 9 at the time, I remember taking a lamp apart, put it back together, and then plugging it in. It didn’t blow up. Later, I rented and drove a motorcycle. I did get terrible motorcycle burns, AND gravel rash from dumping it, but I survived. And still later? I gave it a tune-up from the manual. And then there’s the time I stuck my hand in a killer whale’s mouth…

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via Google

via Google

That kind of (blind?) faith is still mine — although age has tamed it ever so slightly. Now it’s more agreeing to be on a board when I know nothing about boards, or how they operate. :) But I don’t think I want my faith domesticated, that wild urge to just do it! I’ve learned to accept the rolled eyes when I pass out from heat prostration, the quiet silence when I turn up with weights glued to the top of the car (they’re supposed to be underneath, just FYI). And even though I still hate having my learning curve public knowledge (as an old friend & mentor once teased me), I’m learned that learning is about failure, as much as success. As one of the board members told me just yesterday: it’s not screwing up, Britt; it’s learning.

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If you don’t know how something works, ask. You learn that way, even if it’s unnerving to feel like the ignorant one in the room. Chances are, someone else doesn’t know it well, either. And my friendly board member also noted that sometimes new and ‘ignorant’ is good: you may have new perspectives, new ideas, that actually rejuvenate and make things better.

So I guess my faith isn’t blind so much as large. :) And that’s good, isn’t it? To have limitless faith? Even if sometimes it means you do it kind of…wrong? After all, the azaleas bloomed anyway. As they do every year. And that’s enough for today.

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rain, rain

rain

via Wikicommons

It’s raining. The gardener in me is happy, but the sun-loving reptile? Not so much.

Most things are like this, I suspect — good news/bad news. And not even ‘bad’ news. Just inconvenient, or gloomy, or … dampening. :)

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Lately, whenever I sit down to write, or even think about writing, I bump up against attachment. Upādāna is the Sanskrit and Pāli word: “clinging,” “attachment” or “grasping”, although the literal meaning is “fuel.” And that’s pretty much what attachment is: fuel for the wrong kind of fire.

rainy window pane

via Google

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Today, I’ve already written in my gratitude journal, trying to overcome the sense of grey cobwebs clinging to me. I’m a total sunbird — seasonal affective disorder is no joke to me. Even though these misty days are beautiful, in their own way. Which is what I’m trying to focus on, letting go of my attachment to cool sunny days. :)

So I’m getting ready to feed the birds, which always makes me happy. And I’ve mailed a bright red envelope with a card thanking my elder son & daughter-in-law for a wonderful visit. Plus I made my husband a HUGE breakfast — chicken sausage, eggs, toast w/ slatherings of butter & jam. Not to mention this post, and cleaning off my desk, and all the things you can do to move through Upādāna.

In other words? I’m working on happy. And will settle (happily) for content.

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reflections on mortality

Hieronymus Bosch

Hieronymus Bosch

Nothing like a nervous day at the doc’s to make you realise your life is very good. Not that I needed reminding… But it still serves as a bit of a wake-up call. You know: what the heck are you whining about?? :)

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The eye that was giving me fits is just aging, as I am. And it’s unlikely it’s more than that, although I donated blood in the interest of precise science to make sure.

Still, nothing like weird stuff w/ the eyes to make a reader/ writer totally paranoid… :)

And to remind me: life is not a sure thing. Nor is health, or other things I tend to take for granted.  No matter how I try not to, it’s easy to become comfortable.

But the basic premise of Buddhism is change — and our discomfort with that. Attachment. And boy, am I attached to my eyes!

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So here’s my advice to you: use your eyes today. Take notice of spring, all around you (even in Florida & California!). If you don’t have dogwood, do you have jacaranda, with its lush purple blossoms? Or lilac? Are the trees dropping catkins for you? (My driveway is furry!) What about that clear blue sky? Or the silver grey of rain?

Don’t take it for granted, folks. It’s not a given. Not much is.

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you don’t always get what you want…

photo the author

photo the author

I’m raising bees! Today I went outside to check on them, and the brilliant blue/ green/ yellow & black of their bodies glittered as the females laid multiple eggs in the tubes of my mason bee house. The newer one is almost full, and even last year’s (carefully cleaned out for another year’s use) is filling up.

This is such good news. Bees are dying, and it breaks my heart.

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Surely there’s almost no one who hasn’t heard the dire plight of bees, and what it means for so many American foods (and farmers, not to mention the two billion dollars beekeeping adds to the economy).

For years, I’ve wanted a beehive (actually, make that plural). A couple, at least, of the beautiful hives that Dadant sells — with a copper roof, and on a cedar footing. I’ve been reading bee books — and lurking on the Northeastern Beekeepers of Oklahoma Association listserv (NEOBA) — for years.The beekeeper listserv is the best followup class in beekeeping you could ask for. I know this, because I took exactly 1/2 of the class NEOBA teaches; family matters intervened… :(

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courtesy Google

courtesy Google

But it’s not the right time — and who knows when it will be? — to invest the $500+ needed to set up in bees. It’s not a cheap hobby, although it’s a fascinating one, w/ a history as old as human beings. There are cave drawings thousandsof years old, showing  bee robbers scaling cliffs with baskets to glean honey, much like the Nepali bee robbers do to this day.

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So a couple of Christmases ago, one of my sisters bought me a mason (carpenter) bee house. It’s basically a gourd-shaped piece of wood,backed w/ woven basketry, filled w/ small bamboo tubes. Inside each tube, a female mason bee lays multiple eggs — males first, then females. The females hatch first, then wait for the males to hatch. And then there’s the mating dance. :)

photography by Andrew Newey, for The Guardian

photography by Andrew Newey, for The Guardian

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Mason bees, unlike honey bees, don’t live in colonies, or produce honey for us. In other words, you can’t domesticate them. But they do provide pollination, and they’re every bit as interesting. Just different.

So despite not having a beautiful hive or two,I do have two mason bee apartment houses! And they’re filling up, even as I write. Somehow, this seems a metaphor for much of my life these days: learning to let go of what I thought I wanted, to appreciate the amazing world in front of me.

 

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