Allen Ginsberg wrote that the three lines of haiku ‘make the mind leap”.  A good one lets the mind experience “a small sensation of space which is nothing less than God”.

Natalie Goldberg says a photo can do the same.  

A loving project can do that too.  Here’s an inspirational story on saving Monarch butterflies.


The kitchen is completed to where I can bring dishes back in from the garage to the house.  Because they are so precious and delicate, my grandmother’s dishes sit in a heavy box on top of other boxes.  They are labeled “fragile”.

The box is too heavy to lift, so I take out cup after cup, and carry each one up five steps, unwrap it, and go back down for another.   I feel it as a pilgrimage, not as strenuous as walking The Camino de Santiago, but still each step mindful as I carry and cherish my grandmother’s dishes.  She passed away when I was 13, and my mother gave them to me when I was married at 21.

Now, I learn they are worthless to others, that they can’t even be given away.  The suggestion is to use them now, so they might as well go into the dishwasher, though it could risk their rims of gold. Instead I  think of the beauty and mindfulness in hand-washing them, the caress and connection between present and past, the cleansing and renewing of ancestral memory.

I wash them by hand and place them in a sacred place, cup by cup, plate by plate, breath by breath, step by step.  


Sunday Morning

It’s raining, an invitation to stay in bed and listen, look, contemplate, and feel.  I feel the breath, the movement through me, an exploration merging in and out.  

Pema Chodron’s words are a pond within me.

You are the sky.  Everything else is just the weather.

Afternoon circles at the marsh where the plants are brown when the hills are green

And there’s Br. Curtis Almquist:

If you’re not in touch with the mysterious majesty of life, look again. It’s just as mysterious as you thought it was as a child.  

Licen on variegated rock
Rock on rock
Golden Slippers in the afternoon exploring the marsh grass

St. Patrick’s Day

Today we’re supposed to wear green because it makes us invisible to  Leprechauns who like to pinch anyone they can see.  

My interest today is in the throat.  I was surprised when before my cataract surgery, the anesthesiologist looked into my mouth to see if my throat was flexible enough to be intubated if something went wrong.  He was pleased to see it was supple and open.  It seems many people are so tense before surgery it’s tight and closed.

Since my time on the houseboat which was filled with watching marsh birds, especially the herons and egrets, I’ve been even more aware of my throat, especially the indoor corridor.  We might have awareness of the outside as it connects torso and head, but there is also this beautiful living inside that it’s fun to notice and play with.  How open is it? How silky? How curious to bend?

Today, in addition to awareness of green, I offer photos of birds with beautiful, sinuous, flexible in and out throats.

Egret with head pulled in for observational warmth
Low tide look for food
Ready to launch
Heron bends to groom
Pure Grace


What is seeing? What do we see? Where do we focus ?

With my post-surgery enhancement of seeing, my brain is busy integrating this new world. All senses are affected. I smell and hear better, touch more deeply into enchantment, discernment, layers. I’m tasting my world. I feel part of this world as though I, too, am being tasted, smelled, touched, heard, seen.

I close my eyes to refresh and honor healing as I need to remember not to lift anything over 20 pounds, and not to bend below the waist, and not to let water near my eyes. Presence is requested and required.

Where does the orchid design to land in me?
Lips part in response
A tree blown down in the storm opens to transform


When I left the house on Monday to have cataract and lens replacement surgery on Tuesday, I saw a Great Blue Heron standing in front of my neighbor’s full-size playhouse.  I took a photo and it looks like the Heron is bigger than the house.  I saw it as a good omen for my surgery.

Home for a Heron

The ophthalmologist was clear this experience would be different than the one two weeks ago because it was a different surgery and the brain is complex in its processing.  I agree.  Today is again a recovery day.

What makes me laugh though is this article on penguins having my same surgery.  I asked the ophthalmologist about it and she said vets have done cataract surgery for many types of animals and even big fish.  Who knew?

The aging penguins with their “new” eyes became more active and exploratory, so I’ll see what happens to me.  I feel like I’m emerging from a tunnel wondering what the changing combinations and layers of light and dark bring now and now and now.  


The marsh in Larkspur yesterday
A Territorial spat
Mt. Tam emerges yesterday afternoon
The Larkspur ferry arrives for the evening
A curious seal face
A head arises – Canadian Goose is here

Protect the Marsh

This exquisite duck couple kept swimming, then, walking toward me as though to say protect this precious environment, this buffer zone, these oxygen producers that nourish your lungs.

Beauty and companionship afloat

Wake up!

See us! We’re here in the marsh and reeds!

Bird Friends

Today I’m reflecting on the birds I’ve met this last month and a half. Going through photos, I’m honoring the words of Martin Aylward:

If we can rest into being here and do nothing, then plenty can happen. 

Landing on a rainy February 27 low tide day
Here we all are
And now we are five
And there is grace
Strolling about each in their own direction
Golden slippers in mud as drops fall and feathers flair with a different time and place

Opening Our View

It’s raining.  As I wait for an appointment, I’m intrigued with the drops as they slide down the windshield of the car.  I’m not only seeing better but I’m hearing better too.  It’s about awareness  and sensitivity, about connecting. 

I’m now approved for surgery on my left eye.  Each eye has been a sturdy soldier in this process, and I’m excited as my vision continues to open, expand, and define.

I’m also seeing and appreciating how our inner vision is connected to how we bring the world in, relates to what we may have been taught about how to influence, and receive. 

I continue to read Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Lyndon Johnson and The American Dream.  

It’s shocking to realize how Johnson’s perception and how he’d been raised led to an inability to see that the Vietnamese people had their own culture and viewpoint.  His plan was to impose our views on them, to make them in “our image”, as we attempted to do with the Native people of this country.

Americans didn’t realize that the war in Vietnam was an ideological struggle, a social revolution – the Vietnamese were interested in unanimity, not plurality – their culture embodied the moral principles of Confucius – they believed in finding the one true way of life –  in Vietnam, morality, politics, and society were inextricably joined.

For Johnson and his top advisors the “war was a revolutionary war, which promised to affect not only the political system but the entire structure of Vietnamese society – its ethos, its customs, its religious expression.”

Johnson looked upon the “Vietnamese wish to remain in the village of their birth as a confinement of the spirit; he saw their traditional customs as impositions; he viewed their sacralization of the past as an obstacle to the secular pragmatism needed for progress.  Looking upon a system of individual competition as if it were a beneficent aspect of natural order, atomistic in his view of social relations, Johnson could not envisage a society in which the individual was an aspect of a more comprehensive organism.  No word in the Vietnamese language corresponded exactly to the personal pronoun “I”. Individualism was seen as selfish and immoral. The traditional Vietnamese has no existence outside his community.”

I’m reminded of when I went to Nepal in 1993. At the time, there was no word in their language for thank you.  It took me awhile to understand the beauty in that, the ease in offering and reception without competition, judgement, or division.

One didn’t clap at a performance because there was no separation between the performer and the audience. Art was sacred, religion, as was all life.

“Although Vietnam was ten thousand miles away, the psychic distance was far greater. So powerful was the American conception of individualism that it resisted even the barest consciousness that another society might conceive of freedom in precisely the opposite terms, viewing exaltation of the independent person as the denial of freedom, not its fulfillment. Endowed with the assumption that the desire for private property was a universal impulse, Johnson found it difficult to believe that in Vietnam private property did not really exist: the father was less an owner than a trustee of the land to be passed on to his children; to the Vietnamese, the land itself, not the individual ownership of it, was the indispensable element.”

These last few weeks I’ve been immersed in the lives of birds and tides. Now my vision is changed by surgery. How do I, and we as individuals and nations honor our own gifts within this world of Interdependence we share?

Great Blue Heron at low tide in the marsh

Balance and Harmony

I continue to read Lyndon Johnson and the American Dream by Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Lyndon Johnson wanted to provide education and medical care to all, but he also knew if he let the Communists take over South Vietnam, he would be seen as a coward and the nation as an appeaser and then we couldn’t accomplish anything for anyone around the globe.  He believed, as did my father at the time, in the Domino Theory, that if we’d stepped in sooner, we might not have had to fight World War II.  

My father died before he might have changed his mind on that, but being a pilot of a B-17, he certainly knew what it was to be in a war. After innumerable missions, his plane was shot down on the border of Austria and Germany. After parachuting out and being captured, he was placed in a prisoner of war camp. He never judged the guards. They were all caught up in something bigger than themselves.

Johnson said, “Oh, I could see it coming all right. History provided too many cases where the sound of the bugle put an immediate end to the hopes and dreams of the best reformers: the Spanish-American War drowned the populist spirit; World War I ended Woodrow Wilson’s New Freedom; World War II brought the New Deal to a close. Once the war began, then all those conservatives in the Congress would use it as a weapon against the Great Society.”

He goes on to state his suspicion of the military, of “how they’re always so narrow in their appraisal of everything”.  Of course, Eisenhower who knew the military inside experience warned of the “military-industrial complex” 

On January 17, 1961, in his farewell address of less than ten minutes, President Dwight Eisenhower warned against the establishment of a “military-industrial complex.”  It’s worth reading the transcript here.  Yes, we need defense, and we need oversight and balance too.


I’ve stayed away from politics as much as is possible these last six weeks, but now I feel stepping stones emerging.  May we balance on appreciation of this world we share.

What bubbles up now
Coming and Going, Near and Far – an easy crossing of paths – space and balance for all
with ease, we pass
Harmony – space near and far