Tuesday, July 31, 2007


It's cold, days and days of thick cool fog, just sitting over Monterey. Where is that sun hiding. 58 degrees in my house. Time to light a fire or turn on the heater. What kind of summer is this?

Finished reading THE ATTACK, this weekend. Our book group selection. It's a thriller, fast moving , lots of action and basically presents a despairing world of suicide bombers and hopeless prospects of peace in the Middle East. Even so I sat curled on my couch under warm blankets and kept reading. Maybe if the sun was out I would have not succumb to such a gloomy view of the world.

After finishing the book I took a walk downtown, took clippings of various lavender and rock rose bushes and potted them. Maybe in the Fall I will have a bunch of new plants for my dry grassy garden.

Monday, July 30, 2007


Walking the long corridors of the hospital today I saw through the window that the terrace Roses were blooming, huge perfect roses in every color. I breathed in the roses and took that calmness into the rooms I entered.

Then this evening I went to a friend's Akido demonstration for his black belt, 21 years of practice. In the bright white room there were many bouquets of flowers, blues, pinks, yellows. In the midst of calm combat, sounds of feet moving and bodies, hands smacking the floor and the patient flowers. Life isn't so bad after all.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

chinese restaurant

Last evening before dark I looked out the window of Full Moon Chinese Restaurant at the tall building across the street. Pigeons were standing sideways on a high narrow ledge that reached over the width of the building, 30 or 40 of them. Standing still, each separate from the other as if on guard, all facing the same direction. Maybe they were doing meditation. I have never noticed still pigeons before, not jumping around, bobbing their heads, approaching each other and moving away. Today when I go for my walk I will look up to see if they are still there.

Friday, July 27, 2007


I took a late afternoon walk on the wharf today, walking through sunlight and fog. Clusters of men stood at the rail with their fishing poles and white buckets containing dying wiggling sardines. Looking into the ocean I couldn't see through the opague reflective waters.
The men were excited, drinking bear, telling stories, holding their dogs on long ropes. I walked around them, not drawing attention to myself. There were no women on the wharf this afternoon. Is it dangerous, I don't know. Later on the shore trail there were crowds of families moving around, tourists coming for the weekend. I walked back to my car and drove home satisfied that I had completed my daily walk.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

kids playing

For the last two afternoons I have taken care of my two young grandchildren. Our street now has a collection of young boys who race around on scooters and bikes yelling and singing. the kids are learning about neighborhoods. It's safe here, they can go to different houses and yards without a play date being set up. They tell stories, beg for candy, squirt water bottles at each other, create club houses, oblivious of the adults. It's as if we are invisible to them. Some of the adults meet at the edge of the street and watch in wonder at the vitality of these kids. We hold our breaths until the exciting play becomes too much and hungry crying kids have to come home. It's hard to tell when enough is enough.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Does the land remember me?

I've just finished reading Aziz Shihab's memoir of Palestine. Aziz is the father of Naomi Shihab Nye, one of my favorite writers. this is a wonderful book. Ordinarily I am uncomfortable reading books by parents and children as if I have a special loyalty to the first author I have read, whether it's the parent or the child. It's good to break through this barrier although I left the book on my table for several weeks and avoided opening it.

When I did start I could tell immediately that it was not only well written but interesting. I don't know what the solution is to the Middle East but I do sense that the more we learn the more likely we will be able to contribute to a peaceful settlement. Thank you Aziz Shihab for giving us this book.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

36 hour rest cure

Some days are impossible, the fog is thick the thoughts oppressive. It's time for the thirty six hour rest cure. take to your bed, read, nap, eat, don't answer the phone, the door, the mail. It's rest cure time. Give yourself enough space so that all the broken pieces knit together and you are whole again. You don't need to have a cold or a headache or the flu, you just need to huddle under the blankets.

We started this when I worked at the welfare department and the suffering of life becames too much. Now it's only occasionally that the rest cure seems to be important.

Monday, July 23, 2007


This morning at 6:30 am at the Cherry Center I carefully tightened several knobs on the cupboards, wooden knobs that are attached to a screw. These knobs loosen and then fall off. My self appointed job is to twist them tight. So every time I come to the Cherry Center I check the many knobs and tighten those needing a twist. Actually I think my job is to notice the loose knobs, tightening is extra.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Earthbound farms

For days I have been fretting over Saturday's lunch and harvest walk, a benefit for our Zen Center. Every year I do this and it doesn't help nor can I stop it. Fret, fret, worry worry.

In fact Saturday was perfect, friends, strangers, good food, conversation, sun, cool breeze, mountains, fields. When I stop and take a breath, here I am in this beautiful valley with everything conspiring to show me how silly it is to worry. I hope I remember next year.

I finished DISCO FOR THE DEPARTED by Colin Cotterill, a mystery story set in Laos in the 70's. Good enough writing so I kept at it and in the end felt satisfied with how the story moved. I recommend it to people who are in the midst of needing mystery stories to survive.

Friday, July 20, 2007

peeling the onion

So I finished reading Gunter Grass's memoir of growing up in Nazi Germany. I had read his novels and was intriqued with looking at his experience in war torn Germany. He presented his material through the lenses of his present day eyes. He's clear that he doesn't remember lots of things and that some stories he has told so many times that he no longer knows what is true. He is honest about his teen age shallowness and angst. I was quite moved by his book. I know that history is told by the winners and yet the loosers also have something to say. I am most impressed that he survived and found a way to have a life. Thank you Gunter Grass.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


There are strong gusts of wind battering my House and the trees outside. a neighbor and I stand on the road, keeping an eye on the kids, talking about the weather. Is this global warming? We will recognize it when it comes? We both want Al Gore to run for president. Maybe he can save us.

The wooden gate slams back and forth. I need to fix all the loose parts of the house. I am not prepared and yet the day is beautiful, the sky is a deep blue.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

I took a morning walk this morning. The ocean water was clear and I could see hundreds of star fish scattered along the sandy bottom, they move so slowly that my eye can't see the movement. I wonder if we move so fast that we become invisible to them.

It's the middle of July, the middle of tourist season and yet most of the restaurants were empty, no one around. Bay Books and the coffee house are closed. I wonder if we are in some sort of economic decline but we are moving so slowly that no one is seeing it. Warm day, clouds gathering as if rain storms were coming. I'm feeling sad today, not sure why.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Case 78, Book of Serenity

Case 78 Yunmen's sesame cake

Seeking the price throughout heavens, paying it all over the earth; a hundred plans, traveling in search, is all an embarrassment. Is there anyone who knows when to advance and when to retreat, what is admissible and what is blameworthy?

A monk asked Yunmen, "What is talk transcending the buddhas and ancestors?

Yunmen said, "Sesame cake."

A group of us meet biweekly to study classical koan literature at lunch time. This is our current challenge.

I spent the day waiting, an orange alert light on my dashboard and I took my car into the garage. Several phone calls and still no answer what it is. I walked home and have been carrying my phone around waiting for the definitive call. It's seems that the computer in my car is saying disaster and yet there are no symptoms. I think the computer is broken, Kevin the mechanic, thinks it's the engine. I don't know what the car thinks. I am committed to having a safe car to drive so I am deferring to his judgement. I'm not sure I will have a car for tonight. Maybe I need to read the koan again.

Monday, July 16, 2007

elephants swimming

I've been watching BBC's Planet Earth nature series, thanks netflix. The first episode shows elephants swimming, seen through an underwater camera in Africa. They swim totally submerged holding their trunks up out of the water to breath. It is breathtaking to watch these elephant families swim together.

I am watching this series to avoid looking at the news, the suicide bombing, the weeping women, the dead bodies. I can't stand it any more. Let me watch the animals chase and eat each other. In this series I don't know whether to root for the lion who has to feed her cubs or the baby zebras. Too many choices.

My sink works but the dirty dishes haven't moved.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Oh no. I forgot to write on my blog yesterday. The day just slipped by. The oak moths are gone, the blue herons' nests are empty, the sea lions have travelled to Mexico, but the tourists are here, so are the song birds, the gulls, morning doves, blue jays, wood peckers, crows.

We had a half day meditation sitting yesterday in the morning with six people. I spent most of the time calming the mind that was busy remembering past hurts, planning for the future and listening to the birds.

Kitchen sink is still plugged up. Dirty dishes are stacked on the counter. The plumber promised he would return with the right equipment Monday morning.

Friday, July 13, 2007

broken sink

night my kitchen sink started backing up. I called the plumbing company and a plumber came in the afternoon, an older man who was sweating a lot and did not have the right equipment. But he struggled and swore at the pipes, he borrowed stuff from me and in the end couldn't fix it. By the time he left he was covered with dirty pipe water from the pipe he had opened. Monday morning, he said, he would be back and do it right. I don't know, should I trust this.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

If you happened to be passing through the lobby of Century Cinemas yesterday you might have noticed an old woman and two young children sloughing at a cafe table, looking bored.

We came to see RATATOUILLE which I thought started at 2 but didn't start until 3, so we were stuck waiting.

I suggested that we pretend that we are waiting in an airport before going to Hawaii. This got old quickly. I started counting the number of tattoos I could see on people passing through, there was long lines for the new Harry Potter film. I saw 35 tattoos on various limbs.

The boy (7) checked the floor for any dropped money. He saw one man drop some coins but picked them back up before the boy could snatch them.

The girl (5) explored new ways of using a straw to blow objects across the room.. The boy asked 33 times if it was time yet. I put my watch on the table so he could see for himself how slow time moved.

The girl spilt her water on the marble topped table and we played with the puddles. We tried to make a paper airplane with a slick colored flier that promoted saving the earth. The plane was too heavy to fly. We ate a whole bag of popcorn and the girl kept asking for more food, ice cream please, coke, please, more popcorn. She was polite in her demanding voice.

Finally it was time and we abandoned our table to the janitor who had been lurking nearby, and found our seats. The movie was wonderful.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

79 th page

A friend told me that her mother, who is a vociferous mystery book reader, marks the 79 page of each book she has read from the library to avoid taking home books that she has already read.

I am still reading mystery novels regularly but I haven't started marking the pages.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I’ve just finished reading the very serious and very compelling mystery story THE THIRTEENTH JUROR by John T. Lescroart. I borrowed this old battered book from the local library. 14 years old and the yellowed pages are falling out. I find pencil marks making minor typo corrections all through the pages. I break out laughing in the middle of intense scenes as this unknown reader carefully circles comma, apostrophes, crosses out names and writes in the correct name. Who is this person who is correcting this book. Who are you, this ghost in the book. I never notice typos when I am reading. My mind must slide over mistakes. There is someone out there with a pencil who is trying to make the world safe for the rest of the readers.

Monday, July 9, 2007


I gave two plants to my front yard last week, plants that I had grown over the last year from clippings. I placed them in the midst of dried grasses and new weedy plants just starting up. I only thought for ½ second that I should weed first but, since I haven’t successfully weeded in many years, I went forward, dug a shallow hole and plopped them in, wishing them luck in their competition for space. If they do grow, they will be big and colorful and maybe scare the weeds away. I do water them faithfully every other day, to give them a fighting chance.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Last night I went to see EVENING with my friend Madeline at the Del Monte Center. The movie was a great soft movie about growing old and dying and of course the theater had a bunch of us older folks, but not any of the younger folks. Outside in the lobby there were crowds of young people, kids, families, couples waiting to see the newest adventure movies and the cartoon movies. We kept to the edges of the crowd as we found our way to the half empty theater for our movie. I have to say I enjoyed the movie so that does definitely puts me in the realm of the older viewer. in case At the Osio theater the differences of age not so noticeable. We went to Whole foods afterwards and ate dinner.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Two young neighborhood boys laying in center of the street, not moving. I stop my car and they jump up and laugh. Pretty scary. I drive down the block to my house. The mother comes out and yells at them.

"Does the Blue Jay have Buddha nature?"

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

twenty dog parade

Fourth of July parade, I leave the house early to reserve a curb for my family to watch the parade. I have the exact spot picked out near the end of the street in the shade, one of the least desirable places along the route. I sit for an hour reading a mystery story as the street fills up slowly with families. Finally they all come. We huddle under blankets trying to stay warm.

We count the number of dogs in the parade, this is a twenty dog parade, much lower then last year. Near the end one of the dogs spooks a horse causing some excitement. I have come to every parade for the last many years, sometimes by myself, but now with my son's family. It's late afternoon and the fog is rolling back in and the fireworks won't be so visible tonight.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007


Tuesday night, zendo night. At the end of the evening my robes are damp, warm evening. While Robert was giving his talk I looked up though the skylight and saw the pine limbs illuminated up by the setting sun. such beauty.

The whole world is vast and deep, why do we put on our robes when the bell rings. Robert, what is the answer to this question.

Monday, July 2, 2007

the moon

A warm dusk, no wind, no fog, just the balmy evening arising. the last couple of days the daytime moon has been visible in the morning sky. Last night I woke in the middle of the night and saw the stars through the window above my bed. So much space.
Today I talked and talked, now I crave silence. No more talking for awhile.

Sunday, July 1, 2007


I read the New Yorker's damning review. Tasha and Jane invited me to go with them so I did. I went with low expectations, since I love the New Yorker. I am completely, blindly loyal to the New Yorker.

Sicko was a treat, it presented the American Medical insurance system and how it harms people. Yes, I agree. Michael Moore did a good job in encouraging people to look at what we are doing. Can we provide universal medical for our residents as other industrialized countries have? Can we actually live with our present system? Can we change it? Important questions.