Saturday, June 30, 2007


In a burst of excitement a friend and I agree to do art this summer. On my morning walk I decide to draw donuts sitting on a plate at my house. So I buy a chocolate glazed and a crumb donut and bring them home. I pour a glass of milk and start reading the newspaper and before I remember that I am going to draw these donuts they are eaten.

Just like that.

And now I am looking around the house trying to decide what I will actually draw or maybe tomorrow I can buy more donuts. Or maybe I can draw one of the crows hanging around my driveway, I can't eat them accidentally

Friday, June 29, 2007


What I notice on my afternoon walk today is that everyone is smiling, and I realize that I am smiling too. Afternoon sun after weeks of fog, breeze, families on the beach, cars backed up on Del Monte Ave, waiting to come and go.
I see two pelicans flying low over the water, finally they start returning to the harbor, another reason to smile.
In the boat harbor millions of tiny newly hatched fish are swimming in the oily thick water. Even cigarette butts and soda cans are smiling.
I forget sadness and sore knees.
This week I received a bunch of gourmet gift chocolate for my birthday. I mean a whole lot, more then I could eat. I have been busy sharing with my friends. I tell a friend how pleased I am to have these gifts. She suggests that maybe somebody is trying to kill me. With chocolate? UMMMM, I don't think so.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

How can I resist such a cute face. Driving to lunch I had to stop my car on Canyon Del Rey because a family of Canadian geese started crossing the street. They didn't look either way, they just moved forward across four lanes of traffic. We all stopped, no one honked or gave the finger. The city official are trying to control the population of Canadian geese, deer, raccoons, pigeons and gulls. So far the humans are not winning and the animals are fearless in claiming their space. They are cute but I am not inviting any of them into my guest room.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Paris Bakery

This morning as I was standing in line at the Paris Bakery a stylish old woman with coiffed reddish hair turned to me and said are you a Dougherty. I said yes and she said I went to San Carlos school with Peggy. Are you the nun sister. No, You're not the doctor, right? my brother is the doctor. So who are you and I said I am Kathleen and she said, umm. She was talking to me and to the bakery clerk at the same time so it was confusing. I am astounded that any family resemblance can be found in this 67 year old body.

Who are these people who can look at me and immediately know lots of true and not true information about my family's life 60 years ago. I have lived here for most of my life, raised my children, had a long government career and still a stranger will come up to me and say I was a grammar school friend of your sister Peggy, Peggy who left Monterey over 45 years ago. Peggy was well loved by her school friends. Well, I love Peggy also and I love my brother and other sister also. I never know what to make of all of this.

I've started reading Ryszard Kapuscinski's last book TRAVELS WITH HERODOTUS and am loving it. He has been one of my favorite writers and I was sorry to hear he died last year.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

dark emotions

I woke in the morning with an intense memory of a time
I was filled with shame and anger, the exact scene
playing out in mind. It took some time for me to come out of it and see that it was all a memory. I was actually alive in my bed. My body carried traces of the emotions for most of the morning. Life is good today, but these memories of intense emotion surface unexpectedly pulling me back into the past. We are all such strange creatures.

The picture of dark lines comes from a class I took where we had to make practice lines on paper. I've had it on my wall for years and now am seeing it with new eyes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

marching troops

Sitting outside on my front step in the late afternoon, I begin to hear the rhythmic shouts of soldiers as they march, training soldiers at the Defense Language School a half a mile away. Several times a day I hear the amplified buggle call, at 7am, 5pm and 10pm, controlling the day for the troops and for the town. However the millions of oak moths that are frantically circling the trees are unimpressed with the shouts. The baby herons are grown and fly out to find their own fish to eat, coming back in the evening to sit on the limbs of the tall pine trees.
I am loving FOUR SEASONS IN ROME by Anthony Doerr. A memoir of a year spent in Rome by a young author, his wife and his infant twin boys. Doerr describes his life with such humor and depth that I am sorry that I will soon finish it.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

chaplain work

This morning I went to the local hospital to do chaplain work. Our hospital has recently completed a massive expansion including a three story waterfall and a newly planted forest. It all seemed excessive to me. Today I saw a patient hooked up to various IV's connected to a pole, sitting in the sun with her friend by the waterfall. Yes, It all seems perfect after all. There was something incredibly sweet about the whole scene.

my 5 year old granddaughter drew this picture of her hand on Thursday.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Drove to Redwood City for a Buddhist workshop with two well known teachers. 9am to 5pm. much too long, too many words, too many concepts. I left mid afternoon. Drivng back to Monterey I thought of the questions that I really wanted to know, what is your life like? How do you support yourself? How has Buddhist practice effected your life? What is the biggest difficulty that you face? What did you eat for breakfast? Who do you love? Who should you love but don't? These are real questions rather then ideas about what the Buddha really said. I want to know how people really live, this to me is intimacy. And yet they both were friendly and kind but too many meaningless words. I feel sort of disappointed with myself that I couldn't quite get what they were talking about.

Friday, June 22, 2007

I went to Circuit City this morning to have a new radio and CD player installed This involved picking out a model, paying for it, standing in line to pick it up, only to be told they couldn't find my model, going back, looking at other models, accepting the recommendations of the young frustrated clerk and then paying and picking it up and returning to have it installed. I didn't want to wait in the loud flashing store so I had brought my old rusting beach chair. I took it out and set it up by the shady side of the building to wait the 45 minutes. I read, watched buses come and go, and a few runners and bicycists came by. I listened to a Bruce Springsteen's album on the way home. Am I happy, not quite but the cd player is an improvement. I am driving to Redwood City tomorrow for a workshop and I will bring some fo my favorite CD's.

I would love to go the movies tonight but all my friends either have moved away or on vacation or busy.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Went to foggy Point Lobos this morning to check on the nesting birds. Saw thousands of comorants, gulls, pelicans and night herons and all their chick demaning to be fed, walking close ot cliff edges, being silly and lovable. This is a picture of the beach next to Bird Island. I wish I had something wise to say but I just feel grateful for so much life around me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


I have succumb to the allure of reading mystery stories. I used to read them all the time but stopped for years, now here I am finishing my second mystery story, planning on getting more at the library. The two that I have read this week are MAISIE DOBBS , by Jacequeline Winspear and SUFFER THE LITTLE CHILDREN by Donna Leon. I am looking for recommendations for more until this craze is over. I don't know why I am doing this unless it is because of my 67th birthday today.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

car obsession

I’ve been obsessed with buying a new car this last year, a Honda Element. I see them on the road and think, yes that is what I want. They cost about $20,000.
I go through a full cycle of planning, thinking, I need a new car, no my car is fine, back and forth. This morning I asked myself why do I want a new car and the only reason I can find is that I really want a CD player in my car so I can choose which music to listen to.
So Today I am going to buy a $100 CD player for my old car. Yes, maybe this will free me from the painful desire to buy a new Car.

A buffalo passes through a window

Koan study group, meets byweekly
The next koan we are studying is in the Gateless Barrier, case number 38.
Gaso said, “to give an example, its like a buffalo passing through a window. Its head, horns, and four legs have all passed through. Why is it that its tail cannot?”

Monday, June 18, 2007

I'm afraid of dogs

Several times a month I meet with my friend Dina and write together. Here is one of my writings from our last time together.

Yesterday at the café, warm sunny morning, a couple sat outside by the front door, two big dogs on long leaches stood in front of the open door. Standing away from the front door, I said to the older man, I’m afraid of Dogs. He wanted to argue with me while his dogs continued to block my way, demanding some price from me, a pat on the head, a treat, a kick, something. His owner smiling. I said again, I’m afraid of dogs, could you move them so I can enter the café. He called his dogs to his chair and I walked in and the dogs moved back to his place blocking the door.
I am afraid of dogs and dogs seem to know this and push me, their owners think it’s cute that a grown up can be so silly, stupid. They say, Don’t you know this is a friendly dog, he wouldn’t hurt a flea. I want to say, did it have a lobotomy? But I stick to my pat phrase, I am afraid of dogs.. I’m not saying anything is wrong with dogs or dog lovers, I’m admitting my own defeat, my fear of dogs.
I personally believe it is reasonable to have this opinion, I have been chased and bitten by dogs, I’ve seen people mauled by dogs. I am wary of lots of things but it is only dog owners who feel they have a right to laugh at me. Oh this is getting painful to write about. I don’t like being mocked. I would like to like dogs.
I owned a family dog once who bit people, sweet loving dog and then he would lunge at a neighborhood kid, unpredictable and dangerous, sweet and loving, all together. Maybe I will get a t-shirt with the slogan I’m afraid of dogs so I no longer have to say it, I can just point and grunt. Maybe.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Rethinking Thin

John Tarrant’s koan
In the sea
Ten thousand feet down
There’s a single stone
I’ll pick it up without wetting my hands.

RETHINKING THIN, the new science of weight loss and the myths and realities of obesity by Gina Kolata.
I’ve just finished reading this book. Kolata is a New York Times Science writer looking at the scientific issues around obesity. She writes about our cultural imperative to demonize fat people as morally lax and unhealthy and the scientific studies of how people actually gain and loose weight and how obesity is related to biological processes around hunger and satiety rather then free will and determination. It’s refreshing to move from fat hatred to a neutral examination of what is going on. This is a book I can recommend.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

waterfront walk

“Are you afraid of this happiness?” A Joan Sutherland koan from last weekend’s workshop.

Late afternoon walk downtown by waterfront. Fog begins to pour over the ridge. Sinister clusters of brown jellyfish huddle near the wharf. Millions of them. There weren’t here two days ago when I took this same walk, now it would be scary to swim here. An ocean scientist told me that the jelly fish will out last all the creatures in the ocean. If we keep destroying our fish we will have to learn to eat jelly fish. Gusts of wind whip up whirlwinds of sand, chasing the tourists who think it should be warm at the beach. A worker throws fish bones over the side of the wharf stiring up the competition between the gulls and the sea lions. Young families push strollers along the pathway. This is the beginning of a summer weekend.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Twice this week I have nicked my hands with a metal object, my mail box lid and the newspaper stand, gouging out a chunk of skin. I check my hand every day watching the skin repair the damage, covering the holes with temporary scabs until the hidden structures are rebuilt and stick together. I wish I was so smart.

I am excited about starting a blog focused on my ordinary life in my hometown. I have difficulty in talking about my life on the telephone or by email and sometimes in person. What is my life about? What does it mean to be a human being?

At dawn I drove to the Zendo, passing the pine trees in the gulley where blue herons are nesting. 10 babies and 6 adults, except the babies are now big, squawking for food. Soon they will be forced to find there own food. The parents will sit further away from the nest forcing these gangling loud birds to jump out of the nest and fly. This is the true 100 foot pole.