Monday, December 31, 2007

Just beyond Lovers Point in Pacific Grove, hordes of gulls are massing as if ready for a war protest. Millions of them on the water, circling in the air, mixed with a few pelicans.

Crowds of people stand at the shore watching, waiting for what? The grand finale? I drive slowly and almost hit the car in front who has stopped to make a left turn.

The water is choppy, huge waves are crashing on the rocks. A cold wind is blowing.

Happy New Year.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Last minute shopping at the Monterey Whole Foods before the cousins come. I've been doing last minute shopping for days and now I think this is the end. They are due to arrive at noon and will need lunch.

As I take my bag of food to my car I am quickly annoyed that I have to return the shopping cart to the front of the store. There are no convenient places to drop off the cart by my car.

Whole Foods is so expensive shouldn't they help with the cart. I am working myself up to a big funk as I put the bags in the backseat of my car and walk back to the store.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? I think I am annoyed with the Whole food prices and with my desiring their gorgeous foods.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Large globs of bird poop are oozing over the window and door handle of my car. I look up at the pine tree to try to spot the bird but I don't find it.

On the side of the street is an slow water leak. A steady stream of water has been flowing for the last couple of weeks. An orange plastic cone sits near this leak.

I finished reading FLORENANA, a German Woman's pilgrimage to the Galapagos in the 1930's by Margret Wittmer. Very satisfying book.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The 6year old girl is madly jumping and dancing on the mattress that I have just moved to the meditation room. Music of the Nutcracker suite is filling the room.

The 7 year old boy is making stuff with his worm making science kit on the kitchen table, spilling liquids as he creates concoctions.

I'm trying to create order in this chaos and laughter.

The cousins are coming, I shout, but no one listens.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Finally I went to a late afternoon movie where most of the audience were not old. JUNO. The theater was full of all ages including teenagers. I loved it.

In the morning I had to be out of my house for several hours so my house could be cleaned. Spent time at Lover's point shivering in the cold wind.

Triangular shaped seal noses floated in the rough waters waiting for the tide to recede and expose their favorite rocks.

Two skin divers and six harbor seals were floating in the harbor.

A solitary white egret hovered in the lee of a rock island covered with gulls.

A solitary boat with the sails down was circling a buoy off the point.

My house is clean and I saw a wonderful movie. Hurray.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

We go to Nepenthe in Big Sur for our Christmas lunch. The adults are enchanted with the huge vistas of the ocean and the mountains. The kids focus on the color crayons. The seven year old car sick boy falls asleep on the bench by the table. We cover him with our jackets. The six year old princess talks and colors and eats a hot dog.

We tell stories to each other about our lives and dreams. We feel so grateful to have each other today.

We enter the gift store as if it was a museum, we can look and touch but we're not buying anything. The store is filled with color and flash, toys, books, soaps, candles, drums, cloths. Scents, sounds, colors, movements are beguiling.

We want everything, we want the atmosphere of the store to magically be recreated in our homes.

We leave with empty hands feeling strangely satisfied.

Monday, December 24, 2007

(Picture - Wayne Thiebaud)

I drag the garbage bins to the street for the Tuesday pick up and quickly load them up with newspapers and trash. Later I realize that perhaps they will not be picked tomorrow, Christmas day. Duh!

At lunch I watch waves of pelicans flying over the shore. Groups of 10 to 20 slowly moving their wings as they glide past. The day is warmer.

Two blue herons are now standing together in one old nest in the gully

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Last evening as I was sitting in the living room reading I noticed that my nose was cold. I tried to warm it with my hands and then the book was blocked. Cold nose or continue reading? I opted for the cold nose.

I woke int he middle of the night with the moon spotlighting my bed. Way too light for me to sleep. I twisted and stretched until the earth moved my bed into the shade.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

(picture-Charles Rollo Peters)

Most of the time I don't even see the century old gnarled pine tree by my front door. I rush by to get into my car, to pick up mail, to take out garbage. Today I stopped and looked, really looked and was grateful for it's presence.

I drove to Pacific Grove for a perfect bear claw and coffee and a warm spot in this cold day. I ran into a friend and we agreed to go to the movies this afternoon to see ATONEMENT and sit in another warm building.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Met a friend this morning to write at our local congregate heating site, The Works Coffee House. It was frosty outside. I am looking for warm places in the morning so I don't have to heat my drafty house.

In the hospital parking lot most cars are clean and unmarked even though we are in the middle of a war and an election.

I did see one "We are making enemies faster then we can kill them."

I put my shoes on my head and walked away.

(picture-David Hockney)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

I pick up the mail at the post office at 6:30 am on my way to the zendo. My eyes immediately find the right box, in the midst of rows and columns of boxes. It's dark and the building echos my squeaky footsteps.

On the way out I buy the NYT and pickup the Coast weekly to see what new movies are coming into town on Friday.

The rain is coming down and my fleece jacket gets wet. I don't own an umbrella. I am not sure why.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I park near the Paris Bakery to meet with my friend. Actually I over park in the hour parking space. I over park by three hours and still I didn't get a parking ticket or even a mark on my tires.

A miracle.

Outside my kitchen window are two nasturtium plants grown from seeds I appropriated from a garden on the waterfront.

Today on my walk I am looking for more seeds but instead run into old friends I hadn't seen for years.

The sun is out after days of rain.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

For the fourth time I trip on my unpacked open suitcase. I just don't want to admit that I am back home.

Rain falling, creating puddles in my driveway.

A friend and I eat breakfast at Rosine's in downtown Monterey. Here there is Christmas trees, lights, decorations. We wish Buddhism was so colorful.

The garbage cans are emptied even in the rain.

Monday, December 17, 2007

I arrive early to set up the zendo for 7am sitting this morning. Turn on the heater, set up the altar, light the candle and the incense, lower the lights.

I ring the bell three times.

Ten minutes later another person enters and joins me for meditation.

We sit and then chant and put everything away.

On the way home I notice two blue herons standing on top of the pine trees in the gully by my house.

All is well.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

I'm back, limping out of my car as I try to get all my body parts to work after being crammed into my car for many hours.

The visit with my two sisters and one brother, and two spouses went well. We mostly remembered that we were adults, more then adults, seniors. We ate, read, endlessly talked, walked, slept.

One conversation that kept circling the room was about upcoming and past travels. I sometimes felt that maybe I had been adopted since traveling for the sake of traveling doesn't appeal to me. But they each look and sound like me so I am glad to know that I belong to this tribe of siblings and spouses.

Friday, December 14, 2007

On my way to Bolinas for a weekend visit with my siblings. I have packed up the car with supplies that will take me through the city and up the mountain and down to the sea.

Although it may only take a couple of hours I am prepared to survive for months, or at least weeks.

I wonder what I have forgotten.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

At the beach late in the afternoon I saw an older woman with two preschool boys and several bags of bread. They were tearing pieces and throwing them on the sand for the clustering sea gulls. The gulls moved closer and then backed away as the little boys carefully tore the bread and then tossed it several feet away.

In the background several men were hitting a ball over a net.

Two guys were dragging a catamaran into the surf.

It was a good afternoon for a walk.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Met with a friend at ZiZi's,cafe that has replaced Bay Books. ZiZi's includes a ultra modern chrome and glass coffee house also a health spa and a women's clothing shop.

We drank hot chocolate. Rick read excerpts of his daily journal to me. It was vibrant and alive. I became self conscious about reading mine. I have fallen into slacker habits with my journal writing. I'm encouraged to do more.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I talked Sunday night on Buddhism to an Interfaith Study group. The assignment was to tell about a Zen teaching that was meaningful to me. The assignment was not to do an overview of the tradition.

I spoke on the koan Nansuan Kills the Cat. However the participants wanted to know more about Buddhism and Zen then about the koan.

I spoke, answered questions and had intense conversations and in the end I could not remember a thing I said. The short term memory was just not working.

People thanked me and were kind so I guess I said something interesting. Maybe that's why talks are recorded so one can hear what one has said.

This talk is gone forever.

Monday, December 10, 2007

We stood outside the Temple, 15 minutes early for the study group. It was dark and cold. Where was the person to open the door? Finally we went to the front door and pushed and it opened setting off a horrendous screech, the alarm.

We looked at each other, what do we do now. We closed the door and moved towards the parking lot, shivering in the cold. We waited and waited endlessly discussing whether we should go in with our fingers in our ears.

Would it be better for the police to find us outside or inside. No brainer, we stayed outside.

The Rabbi zipped up in his sports car, jumped out, and turned off the alarm. He called the security service and whispered the magic pass word. He wanted to know the details and it was clear that somebody, not us was in trouble.

The rest of the evening was wonderful, full of kind and thoughtful people and conversation.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Storm is over but still it is mighty cold. Had a zen sewing group at my house this morning at 8am. The heater had been on for two hours but still it was 59 degrees in the living room. We wore our jackets while we sewed.

But now in the afternoon the sun is steaming into the living room warming my body. It feels so good to be warm again. I lie on the couch reading my second mystery story as I cough and blow my nose. It is good to be alive.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Quiet day as I struggle with this cold. Sat in the sun on my front stoop for half an hour this afternoon reading a mystery story.

It's amazing how comforting it is to read mystery stories when I feel sick. I have a stack of serious books next to my bed but what I really want is the comfort of a story that confronts the chaos of the times and resolves it.

Also I ate some of my brother's gift box of Godiva chocolate.


Friday, December 7, 2007

I have a cold and I feel like a baby, lying in bed staying warm. My telephone has been on and off, hasn't quite worked right. Feels like it is being jammed by some outside activity.

Since this is a military town I immediately think it's some secret military experiment. Just up the street, the local elementary school has been turned into a secret military school to study terrorism.

This morning my phone now works.

A huge wind storm blew in last night. When I went outside to pick up the morning paper my three aluminum chairs had been swept off the porch.

back to bed now.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

It was just the next thing to do today. A clinic appointment for bone density and mammogram.

I asked the technicians questions about the amount of radiation exposure. I am nervous about reaching that tipping point in radiation exposure.

My eyes filled with tears and I fought to hide them in this conversation. I tried to describe my radiation treatment 6 years ago in neutral tones, to match their voice. I knew I was sounding like a cry baby.

Maybe there is no way one can be neutral about a past painful experience.

I had the tests, maybe for the last time.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

so where are all the bumper stickers on cars now. I walked through the Hospital parking lot and didn't see any, I did see one Obama sticker in a back window and a few yellow ribbons to support our troops.

We vote in two months, we have endless TV coverage but have we given up on taking a stand on our bumpers?

Maybe the cars no longer have identifiable bumpers. The new bumpers blend in with the car.

I saw several old cars and trucks with silver bumpers but even these cars were nude.

I miss bumper humor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

I overheard at the store a woman say she had no money because the satellite was down. And then at the gas station, I had to pay in cash because the satellite was down. I asked the clerk where the satellite had gone and he gave me a puzzled look. He pointed to the sky and said to me in broken English, It's down, it's down.

I went to the bank and got money just in case we were headed for some emergency.

Is the satellite being down some harbinger of what?


Monday, December 3, 2007

Met a friend in the early evening at the elegant East Village Lounge, soft world fusion music, low lights and most of the tables occupied by single individuals in rapt attention to their open lap top computers, their faces bathed in the light from their screens. The silence was broken by the occasional cell phone one sided conversation.

My friend and I met to talk and to write.

It felt like we were in a science fiction world.

This morning a single heron stood in the old nest in the tall pine tree. I look every day as I drive past the gully.


Saturday, December 1, 2007

I went to my favorite pottery store the first day of the annual sale. The store was filled with potters who were anxious to sell their wares. I was the only customer.

While I was carefully looking, several of them asked if they could help me, did I want to talk to the potter who made the pottery. I kept saying no and backing away.

Finally I said to the fourth person who came up to me: I AM A SHY SHOPPER, IT IS BEST NOT TO TALK TO ME.

Oh, sorry, sorry. No one else approached me.

I bought two pieces and was very happy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Finally, at last, after eons of time the new Trader Joe's opened today in downtown Monterey. We all have been waiting.

The city had an opening ceremony at 8:30 this morning and this afternoon when I walked to the store I realized that once again the parking lot was filled with cars maneuvering to get the elusive parking space.

Perhaps T. J's is really owned by an auto body repair consortium and is designed to increase business.

Maybe selling cheap apples and flowers is not the point.


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Driving by El Estero lake this afternoon I saw a large group of Canadian geese poking through the grass. I looked a second time and realized there were also many small fluffy babies imitating the adults. More Canadian Geese.

They live here year round, crowding the parks with their presence and their poop.

I love how they look and wish they could be welcomed into our community but they are considered pests and many people want them to start migrating again. They need to return to the Arctic where they belong.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This morning I attempted to print out the labels and it worked, the names were lined up on the label page. I don't know what I did right this time.

Last night I had planned to go to the movies with friends but as the time got closer I didn't feel I could go. I flaked out and went to bed early and slept well.

I printed, folded, stamped and labeled 120 fliers to send out tomorrow, only three days late, but hey, they are done and I am going to bed early again tonight.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I was flooded with rage today as I tried to make my printer print the labels I needed. Over and over again I push the same print button and the same misaligned page emerged. The printer would not bow to my will and I could not see the reality of the situation.

Hours later, when I had calmed down I could laugh a bit about this rage. Where does it live in my body?

Tomorrow I will try again or maybe I will just address the many envelops by hand.


Monday, November 26, 2007

On the Hopkins marine station beach, scores of glistening harbor seals have pulled themselves onto the sand. You can see them through the chain link fence along the PG trail. I want to think they are females giving birth but I couldn't quite tell. There were some small ones and some large ones. A few were playing in the waves and the rest above the tide line.

I walked along the trail avoiding dogs on leashes, watching for Winter birds arriving from the north.

It was a beautiful day and yet my mind was restless trying to create a story accounting for the harbor seals on the beach.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Sitting in a room full of people. The words brush past me and my eyes are watching the trees outside. Little boys are climbing a tree yelling dares to each other.

I breathe in and out.

Some days I just don't want to listen to anyone.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

I was too early to meet with a friend in Santa Cruz. I took a walk in a neighborhood of old stately and rundown houses.

At first my body was stiff from the drive and then I loosened up and could look closely at each wonderful house.

Something about looking at homes is refreshing and endlessly interesting. I no longer wish I could live there, it's more a curiosity about the lives in each house.

Feeling satisfied I went to meet my friend.

Friday, November 23, 2007

The post card made it sound so easy, just call the 800 number and expand your cable choices. OK. today the cable man came. He had the wrong box. Just go to the office and pick up the right one. He didn't know where the comcast office was. I found the address and drove there. The sign for the office was the tiniest I had ever seen.

Picked up new free converted box. Spent several hours trying to make it work and now I have no cable TV.


I will try again tomorrow and the next day and the day after that.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I'm with the crowds of shoppers at Whole Foods looking for a dungeness crab. We are not having Thanksgiving today, we are having my son's 42 birthday and all he wants is fresh crab. So why are the other people here shopping on this Thanksgiving day. Why did I think I would be the only one.

We forgot to pick up the crab yesterday.

We're celebrating Thanksgiving on Saturday. Don't ask.

The clerk says that the Friday after Thanksgiving is the biggest shopping day of the year for Whole Foods. Don't people have leftovers.

Happy Thanksgiving and happy birthday.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

crisp cool day. My friend and I went to the Monterey Museum of Art to look at an art instillation. The artist had hung 500 hundred paper cones individually from a two story tall ceiling by thread. At first I couldn't see the subtle movement of the cones in the air but as we looked the cone, threads, shadows came alive. We were both quite moved by this art.

Then we went to Lou Lou on the Wharf for lunch. We learned that neither of us are bothered by collection of flies in the restaurant. This four table fishing shack cafe half way down the wharf was perfect. We ate fish and french fires, and watched the activity on the wharf. The waitress held her 8 month baby as she took our orders and served us.

Good day.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

I rushed out of the house for an appointment in Santa Cruz this morning. I almost missed the flattened tire on the drivers side. UGH , I got out my AAA card and called for road service.

I had been meaning to get new tires, yes I had but it takes time and I have been in a hurry but now I had to slow down.

Hours later and hundreds of dollars I had my new tires, deeply grooved and shinny, looking better then the 9 year old warn car body.

I feel safe and snug riding on these shinny new tires.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I sat in the small clinic treatment room waiting for my doctor to show up. Into the room came the sound of not seen babies screaming, yelling, gagging, louder, more intense. I tried to read but was distracted by the waves of sound.

So is this worse then dogs barking at night? a neighbor's loud rap music? My body began to tense up. Someone should help these babies, protect them from uniformed people with needles, with cold instruments, with what? What are they doing to these babies?

Finally my doctor came in sheepishly, vaccine day! Hard to listen to huh? Yep, hard to listen to.

When I left I saw a toddler hiding behind a chair in the lobby. Finally two big men came to round him up, herd him into the shot room. The mother was cringing.

It is always so exciting to go to the county clinic to see my doctor.

I would have screamed when I received my flu shot but I thought I should set a good example for those babies.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

All week I have been looking forward to going to my friend's new house for their house warming party. They build a three story home near Carmel Beach. The house glittered with candles, chandeliers , lit fireplaces, clean windows, designer paint colors, antiques, music.

I went in and became embarrassingly shy. It all looked so festive from outside.

I ate snacks, drank wine, listened to conversations about antiques, opera, silver plate vs silver.

After awhile I left and stood outside looking back into this wonderful house. I'm glad that I came and I am glad that I left.

I remember that I like to be with friends in small groups. So next time I will suggest we go out for lunch where we can talk together.

I hope I remember.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Early this morning an ambulance pulled up outside my bedroom window. Several young uniformed people were milling about looking for the key to the house. The house belongs to a 95 year old neighbor who goes to her daughter's house every weekend. They found a key and went in. Later I saw a stretcher with my neighbor on it. alive.

For years she tells us that she is ready to die but nothing happens.

My other neighbor is a 94 year old man with several older children. They frequently are yelling and cussing at each other in the back yard.

My fear is getting old and then older and then older and never dying. Become frail and frailer.

I got to think about this today during our day sitting in the small Zendo. My usual answers have dried up.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Went to the post office before noon and bought a bunch of first class stamps.

Then I went to the movies with a friend to see I'LL BELIEVE YOU, a quirky sci fi movie at the Osio. There were 4 of us in the empty theater and we all thought it was great.

Back home I looked at the stamps and realized that the clerk had made a mistake. First class stamps for 41 cents, no way.

I got back into my car and went back to the post office with the suspicious stamps. Before I could make a fool of myself I saw a sign saying first class stamps were 41 cents. Why did I think they were 47 cents. Early signs of dementia I'm afraid.

I went home and put the stamps in my drawer. Or maybe the alien from the movie got to me.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Somebody is not paying attention. The sea lions are sneaking on to the docks in the inner harbor. First one comes on and then all his friends and enemies jump up. This afternoon there were only four but in my mind's eye I saw the whole wharf sinking.

Boats and piers all have temporary protective walls to keep these visitors off. Sometimes it works and sometimes the sea lions outwit the humans.

Several years ago I saw several boats slowly sink under the weight of innumerable sea lions.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I had a half hour between places I needed to be. I sat in my car, windows down on the cliff overlooking Carmel Beach. Sat and read, smelled the air, watched owners take their dogs for walks, crows cawing, and diving. Large waves crashing on the sand.

I though about getting out of my car and taking a walk but I didn't.

It sometimes feels like my car and I are one.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

For a long time I have been getting notices from my cable company saying that they are going digital.

So what. I don't care.

But then I lost a channel, the Book channel.

So I called the phone number and have agreed to a package of programs and a digital receiver at the end of the month.

The rates are low now but will dramatically increase in 6 months. The American way of doing business.

I am going to have HBO for free for a whole year.

Something to watch on these dark evenings.

Monday, November 12, 2007

On the beach by the wharf this morning I saw a shirtless bulky man wrestle with a large salmon. He had wrapped it in his shirt and was teasing his barking dog. The fish kept arching and twisting. A group of men were cheering him on from the wharf.

In the distance was a flock of comerants preening and splashing in the water. The sky was blue and the water still.

In the afternoon driving by Berg's motel at Lover's Point, a convention of gulls and pigeons rested wing to wing on the slanted roof. I wonder if the visitors could hear these birds above their heads.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

from 7:30 to 3pm I was in meetings, sitting on chairs, listening attentively until all I wanted to do was escape.

A strong wind came up last night and now the day is clear but I was inside listening and taking notes.

Now the time is my own and I don't quite know what to do with myself. Too much time, too little time. It never just enough. Except sometimes it's perfect and I am surprised and pleased.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

An unexpected sunny day, balmy. Unexpected after days of thick cold fog.

On the wharf the "San Giovanni" fishing boat is being unloaded. Italian men standing around directing the basket of fish into the shredded ice containers.

Winter birds are here.

Crowds of people, families, friends spilling out of the downtown restaurants waiting for their turn at breakfast.

November in Monterey. I would like to come here to visit except I am already here.

Friday, November 9, 2007

A friend said that silence in Japan is peaceful and full of beauty. Silence in Christianity is the absence of God and thus is filled with grief and despair.

Certainly my attraction to Zen is silence of beauty and fullness.