A Fiesta

In cleaning out clutter, I’m with Einstein’s formula equating mass and energy.  I’m noticing how light is both particle and wave.  We create the cement.

In the living room of this house is a floor to ceiling wall of books and I have bookcases in two other rooms.  A few years ago, I gave away around 1000 books and though I’ve also given away book shelves, there are still masses of books.  Might I convert the space to energy?

I see the challenge of not perceiving each shelf as a block of books, an organization of beauty  and completeness.  It’s as though they’ve been crammed together for so long, they’ve grown together, bonded, and they don’t want to separate.  I feel like I’m separating flower bulbs, offering them a new place to grow and spread, and I feel resistance.

Since it’s my perception, what am I resisting, and why?  Perhaps I see it as another pulling me forward to death, a comment on my passage.   I feel myself lifting my oars from the water, allowing an evolving transport from river to sea.

I come to these words from Eduardo Galeano, in Walking Words.

The Church says: The body is a sin.

Science says: The body is a machine.

Advertising says: The body is a business.

The body says: I am a fiesta.

With joy in transition, I celebrate the fiesta I am.

Cleaning out will lead to an organization that coheres as I let go.

Spring

Yesterday I was sitting outside on the deck, tilting my head back to swallow the sun, when I first heard, and then saw, her.

My small wren friend was hopping on the rail of the deck, then, bending to check the spider webs hanging between the rails.  When I read that wrens eat spiders, I stopped sweeping the webs away, though I understand that clarity is good feng shui, and now, I see her hop, hop, hopping along, bending over to check each web for a treat. 

She reminds me to breathe more deeply, to see more clearly, to honor clarity with the webs that twine.

She leaves her nest when I come out

Young redwood and old

Life

I’m reading a friend’s book, Sara Bragin’s The Living in Her Dying.  It’s about the time she spent with her mother as her mother was transitioning. It shows how much we need an advocate at such a time, and the learning that occurs when we show up to be with the loss of the womb in which we came.

The end of life process is with me these days as I feel the approach of a change over which I may not have control.

Last night I had one of those experiences that takes one out of their body and into awareness of so much more.  My cat Tiger is getting older, and needing body warmth, comfort, and support sleeps snuggled in with us at night.  When I got into bed last night, he came over with a look that lit the room, that was more than his huge eyes.  I felt the gift of this livingness, this gift of being in a body for a time.

I was reminded of Thomas Merton’s words about being on a street corner, and …

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world. . . . 

This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud. . . . I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now that I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.

Then it was as if I suddenly saw the secret beauty of their hearts, the depths of their hearts where neither sin nor desire nor self-knowledge can reach, the core of their reality, the person that each one is in God’s eyes. If only they could all see themselves as they really are. If only we could see each other that way all the time. There would be no more war, no more hatred, no more cruelty, no more greed. . . . But this cannot be seen, only believed and ‘understood’ by a peculiar gift.”

He uses the word God.  I might use the word Spirit or Light or Grace but the feeling and knowing, believing and honoring – that is the gift.

What’s happening in Ukraine is with us all.  We are united in this.  We feel the attacks; we share the fear and yet Tiger gave me such an invitation with his eyes, and way of being.  I wake as light, flowing light, light that is both particle and wave as am I.  

Tiger
A Portion of Our Yard
Serenity
And the wind chimes

Flow and Glow

Ebi and Ginger, two rescue greyhounds,  were with us on our trip to Palm Springs. There’s nothing like being greeted as though you are the most amazing person in the world even if it’s just that morning comes and you’re there.

On our return, our cat needed to go to the Cat Spa.  He’s older now and his fur mats in a way we can’t comb through so I sat and talked with a lovely woman as Tiger was outwardly pampered though he didn’t seem to recognize it, but then, he calmed and now he’s happy to be home and freshly groomed.

Life – 

My son attended a funeral on Thursday.  It was done in the traditional Chinese way.  He appreciated the ceremony, the ritual, and suggested he might want some of that when I go.  I’ve said I want simplicity, a scattering of ashes in nature, no ceremony at all.  He pointed out that I won’t be here, which is true, so this morning I’m with how to satisfy us both which even as I type this sounds ridiculous and I laugh both inside and out.  I’m tickled by this odd need to control even when I’m entering and merging with other streams.  

Ebi and Ginger
Tiger
View from the overlook at Joshua Tree

Return

We’re home, after a journey on back roads down, across, and up a huge swath of CA, a state so beautiful, vast, and varied that enchantment expands. The complexity of the landscape helps to explain the variety of perspectives, opinions, and conclusions in this exquisite and complex state.

We return to flowering plum trees, singing birds, buzzing bees, and continuing sunshine.

Morning in Palm Springs
The Sacred Land of Joshua Tree
A Sense of Scale
Keys View: The Coachella Valley, San Andreas Fault, Santa Rosa mountains and the Salton Sea
Amazing Rock Formations

Peek Through
Cholla Cactus Garden in Joshua Tree
Sun Shining Through
11:30 AM looking up in Palm Springs

Balancing

This morning I was outside with the stars.  I rose on starlight.

I’m reading The Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden KeefeIt was a book group choice and I was hesitant, but wow.   Thumbs and toes way up.  I can’t stop.  It’s a drama that will keep you entranced as you see how power, money, and lies manipulate and corrupt.  It looks at the Sackler family and their founding of Purdue Pharma and the lies they tell as they hire lawyers to cover up what they do.

This is a taste of how they buy politicians.

“Shortly after Rudolph Giulani stepped down from his position as mayor of New York City, he went into business as a consultant, and one of his first two clients was Purdue. When he entered the private sector, Giuliani was looking to make a lot of money quickly.  In 2001, he had a net worth of $1 million; five years later, he would report $17 million in income and some $50 million in assets.  For Purdue, which was working hard to frame OxyContin abuse as a law enforcement problem, rather than an issue which might implicate the drug itself or the way it was marketed, the former prosecutor who had led New York City after the 9/11 attacks would make an ideal fixer. In Michael Friedman’s view, Giuliani was “uniquely qualified” to help the company.”

And help he did.

Because I often feel our government could move a little more quickly to address obvious wrongs I’m with these words of Auguste Rodin: 

Patience is also a form of action.

I’m also with today’s report from Robert Hubbell:

  • Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than any other president did during their first year.
  • Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than Trump created in 4 years—because the economy lost 2.9 million jobs during Trump’s tenure.
  • Biden created more jobs in his first year in office than Trump created his first three years in office (before the pandemic recession).

https://roberthubbell.substack.com/p/the-biden-economic-boom

Our New Gate

A Gift

 Today I hear romping in the yard below.  I look over the side of the deck, and seeing a deer, grab my phone, and trot downstairs – not just one deer – six.  Six – a gift shared.

The quieter you become, the more you can hear.

Ram Dass

Passage

The fog is in and outside my home I see the redwood tree and the oak but other than that, I’m gently tucked.  I hear the fog horn and the cackling caws of crows.

Lately, friends have lost their mothers and I find myself remembering back to my own mother’s passing February 18, 2005.

Loss of mother is loss of the womb in which we were conceived and nurtured.  When mother goes, we’re dropped into, or perhaps opened into, a larger womb, and still there is the pain of squeezing through that canal and trusting the opening out.

After she died, I went each week to Pierce Point, a piece of land in Pt. Reyes that divides Tomales Bay and the ocean. Tomales Bay divides two tectonic plates so one can be on the plate carrying Los Angeles north, or the other.  For me, it is the place to be when someone I love dies.

And then like that, the fog clears – the moon a slice in the sky – a stanza – a poem

pierce point   

mother dies 

I cross to this land mass
each week
wanting connection 
with the other side
I feel her here with the Tule Elk -
Tomales Bay -  ocean waves - 
her death a gentle quake-
birds sang as she died
quivering
as she passed -

With the passing of Thich Nhat Hanh, I’m aware of the portal between life and death as though yes the plates slide open for us to see.  I’m with his poem “Call Me By My True Names”.  May the cultivation of compassion and empathy be our guides.

The fog clears
And clears

And clears

Original Face

My first blog was a sharing and exploration of my journey through breast cancer treatment in 2005 and 2006.  The book Breast Strokes came from the blog.

My second book was about the relationship between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, a complex one for sure, as each of us is complex and when we have two women loving the same man, a man perceived differently by each, understanding and compassion come to the fore.    

The third book, and the initial reason for this blog was my journey to Nepal in 1993 when I was 43.  I wrote it without the journals I so meticulously kept while there, so I relied on memory, but sometime this year I discovered the journals, carefully wrapped and tucked away.  I kept saying I’d go back through them, but then, there was always something “more important” to do but today,  New Year’s resolutions connected to hands connected to heart, I step back into the trip.  

My New Year’s intention is to post every day, and part of that will be a sharing of what I discover as I go back through journals from 27 years ago.  Today, I realized that the theme of the book, Airing Out the Fairy Tale, and my life, and possibly yours, relates to the Zen koan, “Show me your original face before you were born.”

Vicki, Celeste, and I went to Nepal on a spiritual quest.  We stayed in Kathmandu at 5000 feet to prepare.  We flew into Lukla at 9000 feet, and from there we walked down to acclimate before we continued back up.  

Today I’m reading of standing in line in Kathmandu on October 3, 1993, and it’s not really a line, but instead a cacophony of people anxious to get trekking permits.  I saw that all those around us were young, and yet I felt young even though I was 43.  Not intimated by age, I wrote, “Our spirits are high and so high we will go.”

Now, reflecting, I feel I touched my “original face” in Nepal. I was given the gift of understanding, a visceral immersion, elemental and original.   It is said that all souls circle around Mount Everest, Sagarmatha in Sanskrit, and Chomolungma to the Tibetans, when they pass. My mother-in-law passed away when I was there, and now, this beginning of a new year, I honor those who’ve passed even as I release.

Peace resides with the Tides!

Elaine Chan-Scherer’s photo of the sunset last night at low tide – Ocean Beach

Mother Trees

When I was young, I had a tree, a nest into which I climbed.

I resonate to these words of Richard Powers from The Overstory.

The judge asks, “Young, straight, faster-growing trees aren’t better than older, rotting trees?” “Better for us. Not for the forest.”

She describes how a rotting log is home to orders of magnitude more living tissue than the living tree. “I sometimes wonder whether a tree’s real task on Earth isn’t to bulk itself up in preparation to lying dead on the forest floor for a long time.” The judge asks what living things might need a dead tree. “Name your family. Your order. Birds, mammals, other plants. Tens of thousands of invertebrates. Three-quarters of the region’s amphibians need them. Almost all the reptiles. Animals that keep down the pests that kill other trees. A dead tree is an infinite hotel.” She tells him about the ambrosia beetle. The alcohol of rotting wood summons it. It moves into the log and excavates. Through its tunnel systems, it plants bits of fungus that it brought in with it, on a special formation on its head. The fungus eats the wood; the beetle eats the fungus. “Beetles are farming the log?” “They farm. Without subsidies. Unless you count the log.” “And those species that depend on rotting logs and snags: are any of them endangered?” She tells him: everything depends on everything else. There’s a kind of vole that needs old forest. It eats mushrooms that grow on rotting logs and excretes spores somewhere else. No rotting logs, no mushrooms; no mushrooms, no vole; no vole, no spreading fungus; no spreading fungus, no new trees. “Do you believe we can save these species by keeping fragments of older forest intact?” She thinks before answering. “No. Not fragments. Large forests live and breathe. They develop complex behaviors. Small fragments aren’t as resilient or as rich. The pieces must be large, for large creatures to live in them.”

Trees and Puddles
Celebrate the nature we are – our Interdependence