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Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart Archives

cat helpers

This is my cat Hector, trying to help me think. He’s good at this — I don’t actually think, but he does help. Which I suppose is something. As even my flaky horoscope noted the other day, I’ve been needing […]

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wanted: the perfect house to become a home

This is the house I identify with childhood, on the left side of this giant ‘duplex,’ with the giant screened porches upstairs. It’s a villa, with a postage-stamp yard, from when my family lived in ViệtNam. This house — so Eurasian, […]

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cultural burdens, with homage to Carol Emarthle-Douglas

This may be the most moving piece of art I’ve seen in many many months. When it came across my FB feed today (via Indian Country), I caught my breath. I grew up in “Indian Country,” which is what too many […]

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silver linings

For those d’un certain âge, the Rolling Stones said it best: You can’t always get what you want/But if you try sometimes you just might find/You get what you need. In other words? The whole silver lining thingie. Because the problem […]

the impulse to art

This, my friends, is art. And better than anything else I can think of, it demonstrates our deep-set need to create beauty. The Dalai Lama says that any profession  – every profession – will be a calling to 1/3 of […]

cleaning house, reprised

As we come closer to moving — even though we no longer have a house under contract, nor do we know when we’ll find one! — I’m getting ever more serious about ‘cleaning house.’ Which means that we emptied the storage unit. […]

laundry and blackberry pie

This is my reward for a gruelling two weeks spent with the family my mother-in-law into a new, more secure  Alzheimer’s facility. It’s the break from the laundry fallout, as well. Since we’re all of Mom’s family who live near her, […]

introductions

Recently I mentioned in a Facebook thread that I was interested in the Quaker meeting in my hometown. I’ve always been drawn to Quaker beliefs, ever since I read about Benjamin Franklin. Later, it was attending meetings with my sister-in-law. […]

love and marriage

Today would be my parents’ 68th wedding anniversary. I think… They were married after the war — mother a beautiful divorcée, working in my father the captain’s recruiting office. Well in to a tumultuous marriage, they divorced. Then remarried each […]

summer, and the greying of hours

The thing about summer sky is that it’s inimitable. Spring sky has a pale, watercolour to it: blue is creeping out from under its drab winter coverlet, needing light. Autumn? It’s the sky that ‘lambent’ was invented for — light as […]

tea parties (for no reason)…

We all know how I L❤️VE tea parties. But today’s post is to remind you just why you may want to have a tea party, or comparable celebration. Because today. Seriously — life is worth celebrating, even when it feels like […]

when people you love hurt

I have never known what to do when people I love hurt. Whether it’s physical, mental, or spiritual, all I know how to do is hug, soothe, and cook. I prescribe what works for me: flowers, tea, chocolate. Cookies. Time […]

unexpected treasures

This is a bat house. While this one isn’t the one currently in my garage, awaiting its move to Virginia, it looks much like ours will look in a few years: well-used, I hope. As my beloved sorts through the […]

making friends with (at?) work

Because of the upcoming move, I’ve scaled back on many activities I love, including several non-profits. Friday, the head of one I particularly enjoy asked if I was free for lunch. Sure! I responded — she doesn’t get to Tulsa that […]

temper temper

I’m probably going to get a LOT of pushback on this, but at least in my family, men have worse tempers than the rest of us. And they don’t believe it! Sheesh. Give a guy a cold, a fever, too […]

moving toward light: opening up and letting go

Photographers have a term for when there’s not light to shoot a picture. It’s called ‘opening up': you increase the aperture — the hole through which you shoot the picture — to allow more light in. Otherwise, you get a dark […]

dog days

The heat index lately has been in triple digits: 105º, 108º, even 118º! Hot, in other words. Coming from beach breezes, a pool, and a glorious beach, it’s been a hard re-entry. But today, driving up from errands I didn’t […]

island time

This is a liveoak, one of my favourite trees. Because they wear their age gracefully — their gnarled branches reaching out to passersby, beckoning with welcome. Battery Park in Charleston is full of them. Even Hurrican Hugo couldn’t kill them […]

rainy days and Mondays

This is the view from the balcony, as I write. A study in silver, grey, moss & a blued-white. Beach grass, beach umbrellas, and beach birds. The pelicans that usually circle in front of & above the condos that fringe […]

this moment, this memory

There are moments that you recognise — even as they are happening — are perfect. You breathe as deeply as possible (especially if you’re a Buddhist!), because nothing lasts. And certainly not perfect moments. This is a picture of one […]

orchid lessons

Warning: this is another of those metaphors that seems profound to me. But may not to anyone else… 😉 As my beloved points out, they don’t work for him. Because today, as I watered my orchid terrarium, I noticed: there […]

Ramadan, and the wounding of blessings

I love the idea of Ramadan, as I’ve written before. I like the idea of doing without (although I am nooo good at it!), to remind us of our many blessings. I use that term w/ some trepidation, as most […]

celebrating what’s right

For some reason, if you’re not unconditionally in love with America, you’re not considered patriotic. In fact, I’ve been accused (more than once) of being anti-American. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. In the same way that those who […]

grumpy days

In case you’re wondering? I have no magic cure for grouchy days. Those days when every chore you have to do looms like Everest, and even the things that normally bring you pleasure seem a pain in the neck. You […]

secrets, closets, and religious judgment

I have a dear friend who is, almost certainly, gay. We never discuss this — sexual behaviour isn’t a normal topic of conversation in most friendships! I worry that my friend has no partner, that my friend’s church and community […]

a surefire cure for the blues

Carrots?? Carrots cure the blues?? Welllll, not exactly… But a trip to the Farmer’s Market, a cast iron skillet, and an hour+ of prep time will. For sure. 😉 Dinner tonight is blues food — not the kind where you’re […]

home again, home again…or, the quilt vs bad fondue

So after two afternoons of rental cars, two days of airplanes, and a packed day of looking at a house, we’re home. And boy — home seldom looked so ambivalent… Glad to be here? Absolutely — the sheets are clean, […]

transplanting

Today, as I listened to the housing inspector recite the (very small) flaws our new house has, I thought about change. About moving, about uprooting, about transplanting. My garden is full of transplants — the azaleas from my mother’s, the […]

be here. now.

It’s taken 30 years, but I finally get Ram Dass’s message: Be here now. For me? It’s be here. now. And that period makes for the emphasis I need to remember. Today I woke up wishing I could just already […]

when will we ever learn?

During the Việtnam War, there was a popular folk song covered by several artists ~  Where Have All the Flowers Gone? Written by Pete Seeger as an anti-war song, it continues to be one of my favourite anti-violence statements. Yes, it’s about […]

yearly checkups

Friday is my annual physical exam. I don’t particularly enjoy it — although I like my doctor. It’s something one does, to be sure you’re okay overall. Preventive maintenance. So I have to get up abominably early, w/ NO caffeine […]

the people my pets are

My animals are far better people than I am. And they’re certainly better Buddhists. They love me no matter my mood, whether I forgot to feed them, whether I feel like messing with them or petting them (sometimes I feel […]

writing, reflecting, old & new friends

I just spent the BEST weekend: writing poetry, visiting w/ one of my most beloved writing communities. This is one of my very favourite weekends of my writing year. I get to immerse myself in talking about writing. I write; […]

time passes, and then there’s change

One of my favourite musical groups is Playing for Change, a social action movement w/ music as its platform. When I’m blue — not infrequently these days, as I cull tangible memories (‘stuff’ to the uninitiated) — I listen to […]

what’s on your bulletin board?

While I was sitting at my desk thinking about what to write about, I found myself staring at my bulletin board. Realising that it’s a kind of window into what I value. It took a long time for me to […]

way closes, way opens

Today, despite my many gifts, blessings, my happy life, et al., I was feeling a tad sorry for myself. Nothing major, I assure you. Just moving blues. I’ve spent years establishing myself in my hometown as a writer, a credible […]

you and me and the dirt and the ocean and all the rest of it

This spider web is a snapshot of how I see my life. Which I guess makes me the spider, at the centre…? Not my favourite self-image! But nonetheless more accurate than not. A spider builds her web, however — she […]

guns in schools, and the American West

This disturbing woodcut is brought to you by the talented Dr. Mark Sisson, art professor at Oklahoma State University. He offered it to help make a desperately misunderstood point. Our state — like many others — is debating allowing guns […]

blogs, journals, and processing

As part of a lawsuit I’m involved with, I was asked to see if I had taken any notes concerning the event under question. Because I keep a journal, which travels with me almost everywhere. In the 30+ years I’ve […]

afterwards, the laundry

So here I am: excited, frightened, happy, sad. In other words? Life as usual, but on steroids. WE HAVE A NEW HOUSE! And it’s by my beloved grandson (and his parents)! On a half-acre lot, with beautiful trees, and a […]

#myAmtrakWritingRetreat reprised

I am now an official, seasoned Amtrak traveller: I have taken a coffin-shower bath. This is it: big enough to stand up   in, and w/ surprisingly good pressure. Considering I on this next leg from Chicago to Fort Worth for 24 […]

chocolate, and my own #AmtrakWritingRetreat

The first leg of my 2+ days on the train. Despite getting up at 4 in the morning (& not sleeping well before that!), I couldn’t sleep on this first 4-hour trip. Too excited. Instead, I looked out the window, […]

more on the home front ~

Today was ‘look at houses’ day. Funny how pictures bear so little resemblance to the real thing. When I taught, I used to give my students postcards from a local museum prior to a field trip. They were to write […]

hunting for home

Looking for a house is hard. Looking while recognising that this will be your long-term home — not a rental, not a summer vacation — is even harder. You find yourself confronting unspoken pre-reqs. And sometimes, unfortunately, even the happiest […]

living through the unexpected (with equanimity?)

 This is how we spent two hours Friday: lined up to cross the French Broad River bridge. TWICE. (I’ve been calling it the French Bread River Basin since then; it is neither broad nor bread, but certainly it’s worth poking fun […]

road trips

You see differently when you’re on the road. Something about the ribbon of highway before you, the enclosed space of the car, the forced closeness and the expanse of sky and road. It’s a kind of magic. Greater writers than […]

the right thing (even though…)

This is the 2nd baby rabbit that Sophie-the-13-year-old-cat has brought in to us. Unfortunately, the 1st one didn’t survive the experience . (We won’t go in to the gruesome way it ended up, and it wasn’t really the cat’s fault…) […]

rain, petrichor, and pluviophiles

We’ve had 7 inches of rain this past week. Other parts of Oklahoma have had a foot or more. When I went to the Farmer’s Market this week, the radishes looked more like scarlet beets, they were so huge! The […]

simplify

 I’m enamoured of tiny houses. My dream is that I will someday be able to fit my entire belongings into 1/s of a tiny house, w/ my beloved paring his down, as well. Every thing we own would be a […]

the magic of seeds…

Seeds are a GREAT metaphor. Unlike gardens… Well, maybe gardens work for some folks, but they don’t work for me when people use them to talk about multiculturalism. Hello, I GARDEN. At a verrry prestigious fellowship I once received, I […]

what feeds you?

This is a miracle tortoise. I’m not exaggerating: it survived THIRTY YEARS in a locked storeroom. With no water (so far as anyone could tell), and no ‘real’ food. Given, a vet told the family (who were totally blown away […]

my own Amtrak writing retreat

Everyone who knows me even slightly knows I adore trains.  They’re my favourite way to travel. Because a) you don’t get airsick (or carsick). And b) you can just sit…and write. It’s this tiny world where all that exists are you, the […]

gifts that need no wrapping

I have had the best day EVER. Full of FB messages, notes, a poem, gifts… I may be the luckiest of women. First? Both my wonderful sons called. Even from far-off Kuala Lumpur, younger son stayed up late to call […]

mothers of the heart, or, what it means to ‘mother’

In honour of tomorrow’s ‘Mother’s Day,’ let’s think about what mothering is. Because it isn’t as simple as biology. It isn’t who you share genes with, or who birthed whom. No, it’s who’s there for you, who believes in you, who […]

jumping in

When we were trying to decide whether to have a second child — considering expen$e$, time, care needs — my beloved mother-in-law said something I’ve taken to heart in many other decisions: one takes all your time; two can’t do […]

reward, benefits, and roses

This is what I’m focusing on right now. NOT my aching back (from weeding all yesterday morning.) NOT the front beds, still to be done. NOT the sad meeting with a lawyer today, and the overwhelming feeling I have that […]

talking, listening, and pretending to engage

Yesterday I spent far more time than I’m comfortable confessing on the FB wall of a colleague (& friend). It was a discussion (as many are these days) about Baltimore. My friend had posted a piece by a young woman […]

planting my own Farmer’s Market

Like I do most Saturdays, I spent the early morning hours yesterday at the Farmer’s Market. The gay profusion in my driver’s seat is two bouquets (one wildflowers — Indian paintbrush! — the other a more conventional spring mix of […]

bees, and the persistence of hope

The bee house is up! As a beekeep wannabe from waaaay back (decades — really), I can’t begin to say how happy I am. My beloved bought me a native bee house (not honey bees, more on this later) for […]

passion vs anger, and poetry to bank the wrong fires

While I’m passionate about many things (politics, tea, food, books, poetry…), I usually only get really angry about a few things. The main one is mean people. I know: ‘mean girls.’ But seriously? If you’re mean to my friends or […]

the dark threads, reprised

I have a copy of this tapestry, one of my favourites. The idea that women made this — centuries ago — that they sat together for probably a decade (1495-1505), creating this thing of such intricate loveliness, among them? I’m […]

hope’s feathers

Just a poem today, as I wrestle with a body intent on discomfort. Which leads to thoughts of mortality, of course. And the grateful realisation that I’m basically pretty healthy. Not so my aging mother-in-law, who drifts through twilight days […]

sick leave, or, big sky mind

Food poisoning is the pits. Actually, I can’t think of a publicly permissible word that truly describes the experience. Suffice to say? Horrible. It sneaks up on you, after what seemed like a normal meal, and suddenly you’re sicker than […]

in praise of fathers, or, Happy Birthday, Daddy

Today is my father’s birthday. He would be so old: 98. He’s been gone more than 20 years, and I still miss him. In my memory, this is how I always see him — beside the spotless blue&white Buick, tall […]

anticipation

Sometimes I think what I love best about vacations is the anticipation. The planning, the tour guides, cruising websites, learning all I can about where we’re going. Last night we confirmed our family vacation this summer. My beloved, my elder […]

poetry as mentor

So by now everyone knows it’s National Poetry Month. And I’m also writing poetry daily, as NPM coincides w/ National Poetry WRITING Month (NaPoWriMo). It’s a very happy month for me. Today’s poem is by a poet who has been […]

what poets do

I’m always trying to explain to people ‘why poetry?’ But today I found a poem that says it far better than I can, and by one of my favourite poets ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti. One of the fathers of the Beat […]

day 15 of National Poetry Month

Yes, it’s tax day. But it’s also the mid-point of National Poetry Month! Whoohoo! Today, I thought I’d share with you some gems — haiku. It’s a form considered (too often) for children much of the time, as it’s easy […]

keeping bees…

One of my grandson’s earlier words was Bee! My phone wallpaper is a bee, and there are bees on my jewellery, on cups, on various elements of my life. I love bees. This will come as no surprise to anyone who […]

the intersection of then and now

I’ve had a lot of different jobs in my life, as have many people. But I’ve also had several ‘careers': jobs where you invest time & education to advance, to become better at what you do. Where the work becomes […]

catching up on poetry

Each day of this month I’m writing poetry. (You ought to try it — really. It’s a LOT more fun when you aren’t being graded!) I’m also reading poetry daily — my own, that of others. And whenever April comes, […]

birthdays, FaceBook, and gifts of love

Today was my birthday. And it’s been one of my nicest yet. My family rolls their eyes when I say this, reminding me I always love my birthday. Which is true. But today was a bit different, even so. And […]

slow, steady, and all that jazz…

Hector (our ‘new’ cat) came downstairs! And it’s only taken a scant 6 months! Seriously — I was wondering if we would always have an ‘upstairs’ cat. He has shown very little interest in exploring downstairs. At least, not while we’re […]

“and if I love myself enough, loving you won’t be so rough”

The quote comes from an old ’70s song; I forget the artist (sorry!). I always liked the sentiment — it’s so very hard to love anyone else if you can’t stand your own self. And trusting yourself? Even harder. How […]

National Poetry Month, and so what?

It’s no secret that I adore National Poetry Month. For one entire month, I’m not a nerd: I’m in tune! I can post poetry to my FB. I can talk poetry to strangers. I can confess I love it! This is no […]

farmers’ market, family, and magic

Today was the FIRST DAY of Farmers Market! Always a kind of holiday for me: the return of a Saturday ritual. I get up, throw on clothes, hop in my car, and drive to midtown. I don’t worry about my […]

inside/outside: it’s that ageing thing, again

  When I was about the age of the picture, I asked my grandmother (who was probably 10 years older than I am now) how it felt to get old.  She laughed ruefully & shook her head. I look in the […]

the Zen of whatever

I love to cook. At least most of the time. And when I’m happiest doing it — making something I like to eat, w/out a deadline or people I worry won’t like it — cooking feels much like meditation. So […]

spring, and the promise of a fresh start

Today when I filled bird feeders, I looked out over the yard. Everywhere there’s the flush of rose & pink, and the backdrop of pale green that only comes in spring. Once I had the sunflower tray filled, the fat […]

the Beatitudes, Buddhism, and living a good life

A discussion on my FB page began w/ my heartfelt anger at recent attempts (many successful) to discriminate against gay & trangender men & women. An old friend & former colleague pointed out that most Christians (at least here in […]

pets vs kids, and what we spend our money on…

My dogs are pretty indulged. Even (dare I confess?) spoiled. They have soft little beds in their kennels, fleecy things I wash regularly, and replace when the dogs chew holes in them. There is an American-made brand of good dog […]

the family you have, the family you choose

I am very lucky: I have a relatively large network of family. Three sisters, a brother-in-law who’s great, lots of nieces & nephews, even two aunts still living. I also have a large family-of-the-heart: BFFs, ersatz brothers, cousins, and just […]

quilts, teapots, and living day by day

As I often do when I’m worried or beset by whatever, I cleaned out a closet the other day. And rediscovered things I’d forgotten: a quilt my mother made me when I married; a quilt my sister quilted from a […]

a shadow of the past

I’ve looked everywhere to find the photographer/ artist who made this picture. It would be wonderful to thank him/her, because I love it. And I live it, although I’m not quite as old as the woman in the picture. But I’m […]

foundations, serendipity, and amaryllis

I never intended to know a boatload about amaryllis. Nor did I anticipate I would become a refugee camp for them: taking them in after holidays, nurturing them to health, then finding homes for them. Even w/ all the many I’ve […]

names and milestones

Years have names, although we usually don’t think of them that way. And this will be the year of my beloved’s ill health. Something there is in us that feels helpless when the people we love are hurting. And double pneumonia […]

life’s windows and thresholds

This past year — heck, this past couple of months! — has been full of transitions. Passages, they once were called. But there are few markers for so many of life’s changes. Aging, for instance, doesn’t have a ceremony, a […]

Sisyphus, and starting again

I have no clue why it’s so hard to do what’s good for us. Take exercise. Or meditation. Or eating right. Or cutting back on caffeine. Or just being nicer to folks you think must a few watts shy of […]

consider the Okies, how they defy description…

This is my favourite Okie, Will Rogers. A true Renaissance man, Will Rogers was more than 1/4 Cherokee, something a lot of anti-brown Okies conveniently forget. He was also a die-hard liberal, however gently clothed his principles were in wit […]

pizza: cold or hot, and engaged Buddhism vs intolerance

We had pizza for dinner last night. So today — as most pizza eaters know — was ‘leftover pizza’ day. Here’s the deal: my beloved must heat his. I eat it hot the first night, cold after. I actually like cold pizza! […]

the importance of being artists

This is a love song to the power of the arts. It’s also a bit of a book review — in praise of a book so strong it will shatter your preconcieved notions and crack your heart open like an […]

snowy days

Today my son & DIL’s back yard is snuggled in under a white blanket of new snow. Actually, the new inches are layered over the previous feet. This is the Blue Ridge Mountains, and snow is part of winter. And […]

the pain we bring to others

There are days we will hurt people. Days when our thoughtless actions will crack through the protective shells we all wear to get us through our lives. There are times when some thoughtless action — with no ill intent behind […]

contrasts and contradictions (or not…)

See the snow outside? It’s inches — nothing for Boston (they should be so lucky!), but a big deal for Oklahoma. And more to come, the weather folks predict.  A cardinal is on one feeder, a vivid splash of colour […]

a long long time ago, or, updating our moral software

  This used to be the way America looked at women voting. And to be honest, some of these jokes are still around. But for the vast majority of Americans, we accept that women have the right to vote. Even though […]

the vulnerability of grace

This is a post about sharing. About a man who has inspired me for a long time, and his impending loss. It’s about intelligence, wit, and vulnerability. And the irreplaceable magic of those braided qualities. It’s about making a good life, […]

lists, writing, and cleaning the mind’s house

  Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve visualised my mind as an old house. And lately it seems more like a house that needs a LOT of TLC — re: it’s  kind of a mess. So when the […]

oh RATS, or, rescue and repatriation and compassion

This is Rattus norvegicus, the common brown rat. It’s the same rat many lab rats are bred from, and it’s SMART. Also, not so nice to have as a wild resident. As in: living in your laundry room. Even if […]

unintentionally clueless…

I hurt someone’s feelings today. Hurt them completely unintentionally, but still deeply. Reminded a man of ways in which the world may see him, even though I don’t believe I do. And even though I apologised — heartfelt, humbly, and more […]

different strokes (and notes)

For Valentine’s Day, I bought my beloved an early present, before I left town. Seriously — he loves music, and with his busted up knees, it’s sometimes a royal pain to get up & change the music. So, I bought […]

Parinirvana Day (thoughts on death and dying)

When I was very young, I was afraid the people I loved — mostly my old ladies — would die. And their deaths were important only as they impacted me (remember, I was a child). I would lose them.  And […]

engaged Buddhism and other people’s dirt

These are the brooms I grew up with: grasses tied together by hand, swept carefully over wooden floors. I still love them, although I have no idea where you’d find them now. I suspect I’d sweep more often if I […]

chicken soup, roast beef and ginger scones

No, I didn’t make ginger scones to go w/ the roast beef. That would just be…odd. Obviously, none of the three go…together. That’s not the point, is it? I made the chicken soup yesterday. Since we didn’t have baking powder, […]

the little things we do can be BIG to someone else

Today was a Starbucks day. I realise that Starbucks isn’t everyone’s fave. It’s not local (but it employs a LOT of locals!), and it’s not trendy. Still, I like Starbucks. They’re always (well, almost always) nice to me, and I […]

Happy Birthday, Mom

When I count the many elements of my life for which I’m grateful, my mother-in-law (and father-in-law) are BIG. I recognise that many women don’t even like their mother-in-laws, much less love them like a 2nd mother. Not me. For […]

getting the humanities out to the humans

If you’re not realllllly sure what the humanities are, you’re in good company. When I tell folks I work w/ the state Humanities Council, they look almost as uneasy as when I tell them I write poetry (I don’t confess to […]

choosing happy

Someone in my family — probably either Aunt Bonnie or Grandmother Britton — used to say that you choose to be happy. Each morning, she told me, you make that choice. It’s a decision. So today? I’m choosing a happy […]

some periods you just breathe through…

At times like this, I don’t know what I’d do w/out tonglen. When I’m grieving for a loved one’s unhappiness, or breathing through my own, I remember: all over the world there is suffering. I know – how hokey is that? […]

the fragrance of peaches

I wish I could send out, over the ethernet, the fragrance of the peach tea I made today. I wish there was a way to bottle the steam spiralling from the cup, comforting on a worrying day. Often when I […]

with a little help from friends

You know that saying ‘it takes a village’? Well, it does. For any endeavour worth remembering, it takes collaboration. Varied viewpoints, multiple hands, and a LOT of coordination. Witness my niece’s shower. While I reap the accolades of my niece’s showers, […]

talking to strangers

I know, your mother told you not to. But now you’re a grown-up, and I beg you to reconsider. You’re sooo missing out! Yesterday I had the loveliest conversation with two strangers — two of the many I meet daily. […]

more on time (and acceptance)

I was thinking today about how much I dislike meditating. Not the actual act, but the resistance I have to just doing it. KNOWING that sometime during the day, I should take out the time to sit down and breathe. […]

the journey (taking the time)…

All week I’ve been on a journey. Well, you  might call it ‘preparing.’ But to me, it’s a journey towards Saturday. Begun (thank you, flu) a full week later than it should have started. Saturday is my niece’s shower, which […]

religious extremism, and standing against it

Lately, with the Charlie Hebdo murders, and the massive French protests of extremist Muslims, there’s been a great deal of discussion of religious extremism. No single religion has a monopoly: there are many white Christians who advocate the genocide of […]

happy is as happy…thinks?

When I saw this FaceBook meme, it resonated for me like a crystal goblet in an opera. Darn near shattered, in fact. Seriously? This has been a very rough week. Dear friends battling unknown medical conditions, family with crises, and […]

the family tree

Last weekend was family central. There are times when family seems a chore (we all have those moments!), but this weekend could not have been smoother, or more fun. Everyone in town made it, to celebrate my 3rd sister, who […]

taking time (by the throat, if necessary)

It hasn’t been a hectic day, but it’s had its moments. Lots of email catch-up, including depressing stuff like querying publishers who should  have LOVED my work, and snapped it up months ago! Sigh. There’s also the ongoing sloggery of […]

that was then…

I grew up overseas, which I’ve probably mentioned somewhere. The important thing to know about growing up overseas is that it marks you. The places you love aren’t (usually) places you can return to. And long years may go by […]

stopping while you’re ahead

My knees hurt. They join my poor arthritic hands (which look more like I remember my grandmother’s than my mother’s…). I’m cleaning up for family visiting this weekend, and I overdid. I do that a lot. And I suspect you […]

more on mastery, failure, and play

Lately my grandmothers — well, all my old ladies — have been whispering platitudes to me as I sleep. Yesterday’s was practice makes perfect. Today’s is if at first you don’t succeed… You know the rest! And yet… There’s a great deal […]

mastery, creativity, and letting go

Recently I read a piece on integration of skills. (And yep, I read that kind of stuff…) It was taking the Malcolm Gladwell approach — that you need a heckuvva long time doing something before you master it. Gladwell’s assertion is […]

Oklahoma: a Middle Path relationship

I’m a native Okie. Most of the time, I’m very proud of my 2nd generation roots — not common for many Okies, many of whom have moved here during various oil booms, or for school, or whatever. My grandparents weren’t […]

schedule (and value?) conflicts

So here it is the 1st week of January, and already I have…schedule conflicts??? I’m retired, for pete’s sake! How can I have THREE happening on the same weekend next JUNE?? But I DO. And each of them dear to me, […]

borders and threshold spaces

New Year’s Day is an odd construct: the year ‘begins,’ although we know that one day is much like another. Change is almost always far more gradual than 1 nanosecond. And yet, constructs have great power. This fence marks borders […]

resolved….

I ‘borrowed’ my New Year’s Resolutions. The inestimable Pema Chodron wrote them up, in her book ‘The Places That Scare You.’ I’m going to try to live up to them. I thought you might like to see what they are, […]

to everything, there is a season

  My DIL is packing for the trip early tomorow morning that will put her, my son, and my beloved grandson on a plane back ‘home’ to Blacksburg. The idyllic days I’ve spent tickling, hugging, feeding, holding, and inhaling my […]

let it snow, or, giving back

I’m hoping you can see all the cardinals in the tree off the deck. Since today is the day my entire extended family is getting together to celebrate Familial Festivus (Christmas/ Hannukah/ Solstice), it feels very much like a white […]

Warm wishes for a wonderful holiday celebration, and peace on earth, good will to ALL!

parenting as practice, or, mother as social justice warrior

As a child, I watched the monks come to the house each morning, as the sun rose in the sky. Sometimes the clouds were the same saffron color as the monks’ robes. The monks would pass their wooden begging bowls […]

taking joy in others’ joy (or, how did you escape acrophobia??)

Our younger son phoned home! Since he’s halfway around the world (literally — 14 hours ahead of us here), this reassures his mother, who — as he notes) worries… Please understand that I understand how pointless it is to worry about an intelligent, grown […]

three things (among many) I love about this season

1. Music One of the best things about the holiday season is the music. I have a Spotify Christmas music playlist of almost 500 songs. And there are even more on my iPad! So that would be the first totally […]

the other side

You will notice, if you look at the picture, a dearth of men. There are the outlaws, w/ the exception of grandchildren, and a cousin. That’s it. Mine is a family of women, mostly. We talk about ‘the aunts’ — […]

it doesn’t have to be perfect (the enemy of good)

  Last night’s dinner was brought to you by some obscure soup company. Canned clam chowder, w/ the addition of cracked pepper & white corn. YUM! Served w/ water crackers, & a side of tabbouleh I made a couple of days ago. What […]

of waiting, and childhood impatience

As I wrap presents, write out menus, email to find out who’s bringing what to the holiday feast, I can’t help but think of my mother. She was NOT organised, nor was she an organiser. Tell her what to do, […]

love (and happiness) like ribbon

Love is, I think, like ribbon. It’s beautiful, for one thing (I adore pretty ribbon!). But it tangles, gets easily wrinkled and needs care to last. At the holidays, when I’m going through SKEINS of it, I find myself thinking […]

the curse of the holiday meltdown

All the ornaments are on the tree. The newest riff on the family tabbouleh is chilling, waiting for us to taste-test it after the flavours meld. The three packages needing mailing — well, the ones that have arrived total three; […]

patience

It’s been four weeks since our new cat Hector came to live with us. During that scant month, he’s made himself more (or less…) at home upstairs. But he still won’t come downstairs. And he won’t engage at all if […]

Christmas, Yule, Bodhi Day…trimming the family tree

This is a relatively undecorated tree, at least at my house. All it’s wearing is the equivalent of good foundation garments, in girl-speak: a zillion lights (2100, to be exact!), a spire, and crystal garland. And all last night I […]

everyday life and practice: the laundry, the litter box(es), the lawn…

Today is chore day, Sunday or not. I spent yesterday happily doing holiday shopping and visiting w/ my sister & niece. So today? Bright & early, following a Skype call to Younger Son, my beloved & I were off to […]

getting in the holiday spirit

I spent this afternoon doing holiday things w/ my sister and my niece, her daughter. We went to the annual ‘Carols & Crumpets’ at our local garden centre, where there were all kinds of plants, crafts, and edible goodies to […]

lists, hierarchies, and checking things off

What would we do without lists?? I have a journal — AKA a book of lists — Evernote on my phone & iPad, Dropbox so other folks can send me MUTUAL lists, and I’m STILL writing them on paper scraps, […]

day #30 in a month of Thanksgiving: one thing leads to another

Today is the last day of Thanksgiving month, although I’ll continue to keep my gratitude journal. While this past month has been public, I’ve kept a gratitude journal for years now.  It’s too rewarding a habit to give up now! What […]

day #28 in a month of Thanksgiving: it’s the happily ever after thing…

Today I’m very grateful for all the little things my beloved does, every day. Things ranging from getting up to take the dogs out when they howl at 2 a.m. (maybe that’s a big thing…), to running to the store […]

day 26 in a month of Thanksgiving: cranberries, turkey, and pie…oh my!

The pies are cooking for tomorrow. All the house smells of butter crust and pumpkin filling. In the 2nd fridge there’s a medium-sized turkey, with a ham still to be picked up. I’m fielding calls regarding what else folks should […]

day 25 of Thanksgiving month: gratitude in the wake of #Ferguson

Today, in the wake of Ferguson, my beginner’s heart is breaking. There seems so very little to be grateful for. I wasn’t even going to write. And then I thought — there is one sad, terrible thing for which I […]

day 24 of Thanksgiving month: getting ready (or not…)

I’m not at the ‘in the pie pan’ stage yet, but I did make the dough today. My family is BIG on pie, and especially at Thanksgiving. (Countdown: 3-2-1…) I think my beloved could eat an entire pie by himself, […]

day 23 of Thanksgiving month: soundtracks

The other day I wrote about how much I love music, how it’s one of my everyday gratitudes. Which set me to thinking: what would my life’s soundtrack be? What would I like to exit to? You have to realise: I […]

day 22 of Thanksgiving month: the kindness of strangers

Today’s gratitude is slightly abashed. I’m grateful for kindness — even my own, actually. And abashed that it’s noticed so…noticeably…? Because if just joking w/ the Starbuck’s barista, and teasing her about breathing, nets me a heartfelt hand-hold and a […]

day 21 of Thanksgiving month

Today a very simple gratitude, but profound. Music. That ineffable language writers have tried to capture for centuries. Working to replicate its nuance, the way it creates dancing in the bones, melancholy in the heart. I’m crazy about music. A […]

day #20 of Thanksgiving month

 It’s an older picture, but still appropriate for today’s post. Because here’s my gratitude today: my grandson recognizes me! Before you think I’ve totally lost my marbles, let me explain. My grandson is only 18 months old next week. I […]

day #17 of Thanksgiving: drive, she said

Americans take our ability to drive ourselves wherever for granted. I’m probably the only person I know who didn’t drive until in my 20s. Yes, I ‘learned’ to drive. Took the test at 16 (the legal age when I was […]

day of Thanksgiving #16: tech support (and privilege)

My computer has been wonky for weeks. By wonky, read: slooow, hanging, programs crashing. A pain, in other words. Enter tech support, AKA my beloved. Who often can merely walk into the room and broken electronics start working. I’m NOT […]

day of Thanksgiving #15

Central heat. That’s today’s gratitude. Now, some folks may think that’s NOT an everyday kind of thing to be grateful for. But that’s my point — we use it every day in winter (those of us who are lucky enough […]

day of Thanksgiving lucky number 13: broccoli (and Aunt Bonnie)

I owe today to my Great-Aunt Bonnie. While she didn’t exactly teach me to cook, she certainly had a big part in teaching me to love food. I can’t remember a single meal she prepared (and there were many) that […]

day of Thanksgiving #12: temper, temper

It may not seem like an everyday gratitude, but it is, if you think about it. Anger, I mean. It’s useful as both a gauge and a valve, obviously — letting you know when things are past your comfort zone. […]

month of Thanksgiving #11: tea and chocolate

This was my dessert today, which is just the kind of ordinary gratitude I love. BUT… It also was FREE! Another everyday gratitude. AND it was eaten across the table from my smart, funny, pregnant niece (to distinguish her from […]

month of Thanksgiving #10 — a good book is bliss

As I’ve said as recently as this week, and just in general, reading is a big deal to me. So maybe that’s a big gratitude. But one book? That’s surely small enough to make the everyday list. I just finished […]

month of Thanksgiving #8: the New Yorker and its companions

I adore the New Yorker. Even when the stack of unread ones that accumulates from time to time reproaches me. Currently I’m reading (still) the Food Issue. MY FAVOURITE! Reading about food is almost as much as eating it. Seriously: […]

month of Thanksgiving #7: the cat formerly known as Hektor

This is Hector (formerly w/ a ‘k’, now w/ a ‘c’ to indicate he’s MINE). He used to belong to my sister. My sister has the landlady from … well, very hot climes. And said landlady, DESPITE my sister paying […]

month of Thanksgiving #6 (short but sweet)

Today was/ continues to be one of those blah days when good things happen, but you don’t always see them at first. Or, you don’t even have the energy to acknowledge them (how sad is  THAT?). So my gratitude is […]

giving thanks #3

Today’s gratitude is brought to you by coffee, that magical drink of ages. You know, the one that also may have fueled the Enlightenment? This is what great coffee looks like — it brews up thick, and rich, w/ lots […]

gratitude’s month

I love autumn. Especially November, for some reason. Maybe it’s years of living where fall was an illusion in a textbook featuring an American family that didn’t really exist. In Thailand, we often swam on Christmas. November was no cooler. […]

in praise of autumn colour and light

As a kid, summer was my favourite season. Then spring, as I grew into adulthood. Now, as I age further, it’s autumn. It’s the only season we have two names for: autumn, and fall, to commemorate the incredible palette of […]

looking for Hallowe’en

We bought my grandson’s first ‘real’ Hallowe’en costume this year — a teddy bear. At least, I thought it was a teddy bear. Except that my incredibly crafty son & DIL made it into a (wait for it…) EWOK! How cool […]

a bardo for Richard

My friend Richard died this week. Tuesday, to be precise. And in light of that precision, he was really my sister’s friend, at least at first. But because we ended up talking across her FB page, we became friends too. […]

vernacular scholars, pointy-heads, and regular folks: a tale of bewilderment ~

This is a story about what happens (far too often) when you have a PhD, or at least when folks find out you have a PhD (and I rarely confess to this!). It’s the sad story of a culture where […]

autumn roses, a metaphor

In the spring, when my roses begin to bloom, it’s wonderful: it means winter is over! And I’m always ready. But to be honest? The fall roses are more lovely. They’re more fragrant, more vivid in colour, just overall more […]

a happy birthday for my beloved

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that my beloved broke his ankle about 6 weeks ago. He was unable to walk these past weeks, since the accident and the surgery. Noooo load-bearing on that foot, the doc said. […]

the healing comfort of quiet

When it’s noisy, I can’t think. My mother used to say — I can’t hear myself think!! Now, these many years later, I get it. When the dogs are barking (frequent!), and the phone is ringing, and someone (or 2 […]

sitting with suffering

“Instead of asking ourselves, “How can I find security and happiness?” we could ask ourselves, “Can I touch the center of my pain? Can I sit with suffering, both yours and mine, without trying to make it go away? Can […]

the rock of the multiplication, and feeding the hungry

If I were a Christian, I would be a member of a small church. A very small church indeed, in Tabgha, a small village on the Sea of Galilee. The Church of the Multiplication, where the miracle of the loaves […]

ch-ch-changes

Ben Franklin is on record as having said, “When you are finished changing, you’re finished.” I LOVE that. And I heartily agree, although I confess: there are all kinds of change I resist fiercely. I don’t like ANY  kind of changes […]

rainfall and intimations of moving

Although I love rain (honest), I don’t think about it a lot. Truth is, I take rain for granted. The drought in California is real for me, but it doesn’t come to mind when it rains. At least not usually. […]

buckwheat cornbread and learning

In my family, there are certain things you don’t eat w/out cornbread. It’s just not done. These would include: any kind of beans (but especially bean soup), almost any kind of soup (but especially chicken noodle or potato-based chowders), and […]

useful, beautiful, monsters

I confess to a love of horoscopes. At heart, I’m still the animist kid I’ve always been: all things have spirits, and all things will tell you stories. If you can understand them, they will tell you of your future. […]

moody weather

What colour is a bad mood? Not blue — I’m not sad. Not red — I’m not angry, really. Not purple — I’m not depressed. I googled ‘bad mood,’ for images (free to use!) of ‘bad mood.’ And this is […]

recognising change and transformation

Sometimes we forget we’ve changed. Sometimes all we see is the old photo, out of date, blurred by time. But still razor-sharp in our mind’s eye. Once, the story goes, there was a caterpillar. Who was bright green, ate stinky […]

dream big, think hard: for #Ferguson

Sometimes, when I wake up in the small hours of the night (as I often do), I lay there thinking. Last night, I was thinking in part about how lucky I am in my two sons. How proud of them […]

fire, clouds, linings, and all that stuff

Fire destroys. Especially in parks. And yet, it can have consequences beyond the immediate destruction, even the resultants deaths. This is a picture of the inferno that blazed on the Rim vista point, in the Stanislaus National Forest. It cost […]

ritual and meditation

Genuine, heartfelt ritual helps us reconnect with power and vision as well as with the sadness and pain of the human condition. When the power and vision come together, there’s some sense of doing things properly for their own sake. […]

love and mirroring, or, we are not our faults

I’m not (I think…?) a needy person, someone who seeks love and affirmation for everything s/he does. What I do like is when I can just love folks. My folks, of course — not as good w/ the whole hoi […]

throwback Thursday (the anniversary version)

Once upon a time (and it was a very long time ago) there were a very young man and a very young woman. They fell in love & eventually (much to their parents’ delight) married. They didn’t know any ministers […]

life is complicated…

Sometimes I wish life was less … nuanced. Complicated, in other words. I wish I didn’t feel I have to vote w/ my $$ when companies aren’t ethical. Since $$ are all many US corporations seem to value, I’ve started […]

Mondays

Poor Monday. Even after retirement, it remains the ugly dog you’d like to love, but somehow can’t. Too many memories of weekends spent catching up, and Monday showing up waaay too early. Today’s a lovely day — cool morning, crisp. […]

more wonderings about (today’s) Puritans, and a broken education system

Today I was thinking — again — about the similarities between contemporary conservative Christianity (at least in everyday life) and historical Puritanism. Several of us were discussing the sad state of Oklahoma’s schools. One mentioned that she has 30 (yes, […]

measuring up

Rarely do I feel inadequate, like I don’t measure up. If that sounds overly confident, I don’t mean to. It’s just that I don’t normally spend a lot of time comparing myself to others. From a very early age I […]

letting go, or, what teaching teaches

You know that old joke about giving a party and nobody comes? Well, for presenters, it’s a truism. I’ve given workshops w/ only one person (and she left early!). Last night, however, was a new one, even for me. An […]

afternoon break

I should be working on the presentation I’m giving in…oh, 3 hours. I should be figuring out what to fix for dinner before I go. I should… I should. Instead, tea break. A cup of good ol’ house tea — […]

health, gadgets, and technology

I am NOT good at the boredom of keeping healthy. I blew my knees running. My joint replacement put paid to treadmilling. I hate my recumbent bike (and no, I don’t know why, except that it’s boring). So cardio is […]

adventures and distances

We’re big on adventures in my family. My beloved enlisted in the Marines during Việt Nam because he wanted to see what it was like. (My mother-in-law — loopy about many things — STILL goes ballistic if you mention this.) We […]

small signs from the universe

I believe in signs. I believe that the universe — some might say god, I probably wouldn’t — talks to you. Where I last worked FT, the joke on the 4th floor (where I officed) was Britton believes the universe […]

a nice hot cuppa

It’s chilly outside — down 49 degrees tonight! And life is chaotic, as we adapt to a downstairs bed for my beloved, a dining table ‘office,’ and all the other accoutrements of a busted ankle. So here’s what you do […]

interconnection and the web (of support)

Can you say trimalleolar ankle fracture, three times, FAST? As I said the other day, it means all three bones in your ankle fractured. Broke, busted. And a big OUCH. My poor husband. Today his right ankle looks like the […]

hands and feet and time

Time. Time to talk, time to laugh, time to share food. Time to poke fun at those you love, time to remember. Time and sisters. This past week I spent days in Dallas (actually McKinney) w/ one of my three […]

time (outside) with family

Today I joined my sister, brother-in-law and sister -in-heart for walk through the Dallas Arboretum. This is a picture of the Fern Dell, not far in from the entrance. Liz — my sister’s best friend — used her membership to […]

generousity

My horoscope this week (and yes — I do read it!) says I should be generous w/ friends & family. Give! it says. Both gifts & compassion. How fun is that! So — I bought my sister a trinket as […]

taking care of the heart’s chariot

The heart rides around in a body. Consider the mind the charioteer. I’m not always a good caretaker of my chariot, this body I run around in. I do better some weeks than others, but I still don’t rock this […]

thunderheads, and big sky mind

Some days it’s harder than usual to calm. To remember that the mind is really just a space where thoughts (& feelings) come & go. But this is the basis of my wisdom tradition, and I know it’s true. So […]

What did George Fox say? or, the Quakers vs. the Puritans

I’ve been thinking a lot lately, trying to make sense out of the craziness rampant in too many American city police departments. The newest idiocy is the story of a St. Paul, Minnesota man who was, basically, tased for sitting […]

FaceBook memes and gratitude

Right now on FB, my youngest sister has tagged the three of us other sisters to do the ‘gratitude challenge.’ In which for five days, you have to come up w/ three things a day for which you’re grateful. Just […]

Previous Posts

cat helpers
This is my cat Hector, trying to help me think. He's good at this -- I don't actually think, but he does help. Which I suppose is something. As even my ...

posted 7:44:06pm Sep. 02, 2015 | read full post »

wanted: the perfect house to become a home
This is the house I identify with childhood, on the left side of this giant 'duplex,' with the giant screened porches upstairs. It's a villa, with a ...

posted 3:01:12pm Aug. 30, 2015 | read full post »

cultural burdens, with homage to Carol Emarthle-Douglas
This may be the most moving piece of art I've seen in many many months. When it came across my FB ...

posted 5:48:11pm Aug. 26, 2015 | read full post »

silver linings
For those d'un certain âge, the Rolling Stones said it best: You can't always get what you want/But if you try sometimes you just might find/You get what ...

posted 6:20:17pm Aug. 24, 2015 | read full post »

the impulse to art
This, my friends, is art. And better than anything else I can think of, it demonstrates our deep-set need to create beauty. The Dalai Lama ...

posted 9:41:23pm Aug. 20, 2015 | read full post »

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