Sunday, September 30, 2007

In the Valley of Elah

Went with friends to see the movie, In the Valley of Elah this afternoon. A powerful unrelenting sad movie and it seemed so strange to walk out into the sunlight at the end.

The effects of the Irag war continue into the lives of the returning troops, families and communities.

All familiar to me from the Vietnam war era.

After our two rains storms, little bits of green are appearing on the ground and in the bare oak trees.

I recommend this movie.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sitting in the art gallery all day listening to the koan speaker.

The whole world is medicine so what am I?

Slowing I watched a table size rectangle of sunlight move across the room wilting everything in it's heat. The elephant in the room. People shifted, moved as the light moved closer to their cushion.

And still we stayed, listened. learned.

Robert prepared a luscious lunch, a breeze came up to cool the room.

I have no complaints at all.

Friday, September 28, 2007

My heart goes out to the people of Burma. I am so moved by the monks and nuns leading the non violent demonstrations. Non violent on their side, the government is reacting with violence. I wonder if I would have the courage to demonstrate as they are doing.

Took a morning walk by the waterfront this morning. Cool fog. Opaque rumbled water. Migrating birds. A group of men getting ready to unload the fish from the big boat tied to the dock. Tourists with cameras waiting patiently as the equipment is pulled into place. I hadn't walked here for a week and am glad to be back on the path.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

I had lunch with some old social workers today. We had worked together for many years at the local welfare department and now we are retired. Some of us (not me) are in our 80's. I played the role of the mouthy rebellious kid in that office and I seem to continue in that role.

The group meets monthly at quiet restaurants. Their favorite places are golf course restaurants. So we met at the Bayonet golf course grill. We were such a contrast to the vigorous middle aged men golfers. The older social workers used their walkers and canes to get to the table.

Memories of the intense times we had together came up and I was happy to be present. I am not sure I can go every month.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

This morning I accidentally burnt the almonds while preparing breakfast. I was out of the kitchen and I smelled the crisp almonds and didn't think anything of it.

Back in the kitchen I saw smoke coming from the pan. I opened the back door and took the pan outside.

The fire alarm started pulsing shrieks. I was surprised it still worked. I figured it would stop as the smoke cleared and I put together my breakfast.

Then I heard the loud family behind me yelling fire. One voice screamed several times the fire alarm is going. The alarm stopped and I closed the door.

I then went to my bedroom chair to eat breakfast and read the paper. Life is good, even the burnt almonds.

Monday, September 24, 2007

I went to the huge Safeways in Carmel this morning after zazen. I needed to pick up a birthday for the girl Katie. She's six now.

This store is so large that I can easily get lost and at 8 in the morning it is mostly empty. I have to side step the demons that lurk in my mind to actually shop there.

I bought a raspberry chocolate cake and left, glad to escape outside. How does it stay in business.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

met my friend Patrick in Moss Landing for brunch this morning and then took a leisurely walk around the marina and over the sand bar to the beach.

We talked and walked for hours stopping only to see the migrating bird, the lines of low flying pelicans, sea otters and dolphins.

What a perfect morning. Why don't I do this more often.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

rainy day and I wanted to go to the movies in the afternoon. So I bit the bullet and went by myself to see THE INTERVIEW at the Osio in Monterey.

My daughter Jojo was the still photographer for the movie. At first I was the only person in the theater. Just before the movie started several other individual people came in.

The movie was intense and interesting. I am encouraged to go to the movies again by myself. My preference is to find a movie buddy to go to the movies with me.

Friday, September 21, 2007

I'm such a wimp. I went to a new Super Cuts. A young woman with straight black hair, lots of dangling silver jewelry, got my number.

So what do you want?
My hair cut.
So how much styling are you willing to do?
What's Styling?
bangs? long in back? short on top?

More questions. I smiled.

She just started to cut. Showed me how to style my hair. Just blow dry against the roots.

When I left and looked in the mirror I was still shaggy and unkempt.

If I avoid mirrors and Friends I will be OK.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

After early morning zazen at the Cherry Center in Carmel we drive to Chez Christine about five blocks away for coffee and conversation.

Driving downhill on 4th st. Through the pine trees I catch a glimpse of Point Lobos jutting out into Carmel Bay. It is breath taking to see this green jeweled peninsula sitting in the midst of the blue ocean and the morning sky.

I should stop and take it all in. It flashes by me and then is gone and I go on for my coffee. Deep beauty, fantastic view and I move on.

On the way home I spot a visiting Blue Heron standing in the abandoned nest high in another pine tree.

If I were walking I would have a chance to really experience what I was just glimpsing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

What to do about my hair. My friend whispers to me, Isn't it time to cut your hair? Yes of course, it has grown raggedy and unkempt. Yes, yes and yet I don't go to the hair cutter today event though it is on the top of my list.

Usually when I go I say, make me look normal, this is the best instructions I have, but normal for what, a Zen priest? an older woman? a grandmother? what is normal?

The hair cutter is middle aged with dyed, curled, back brushed hair. Maybe she thinks that is normal.

I get lost in the confusion and power of words and then don't do anything.

Maybe next week.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

There is something wonderful about going to my bank. First of all money keeps coming to my account from Social Security. I don't have to do anything about it, it just fills up the slot assigned to me every month.

My bank believes in the pleasure principle, not only do they give out paper money they also give you fresh popped, buttered, salted popcorn to each customer. They want me to be happy and I am happy as I fill my mouth with the popcorn. Thank you bank.

Monday, September 17, 2007

How long is a mile. Yesterday a friend and I were taking a mile walk to the beach in Big Sur. We had just eaten a large brunch at Nepenthe.

The sign said one mile to the beach so we started out, dragging our full tummies with us. The dry hot path through the fields went on forever. We kept saying how long is a mile.

Finally we rounded a bend and there was the Pacific Ocean pounding on the rocky shore. Se sat and watched surfers, waves, a few people eating their picnic lunch. The mile back was a piece of cake.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

What I saw today:
a flock of tiny birds jumping around the bare oak tree, eating something I couldn't see.

A row of flame trees on Grand Ave. in Pacific Grove while I was looking for the perfect bear claw.

The sunlight moving slowly across the wooden floor as I listen to Robert talk about the Heart Sutra.

Sitting in Diffendorf park in Carmel with my sandwich talking to a friend. I remembered when this quiet subdued park in the middle of a wealthy town was over run with hippies protesting the Vietnam war. The city was so angry that they made it illegal to sit on the lawn. Today people were sitting on the lawn. I guess the law has been changed.

Friday, September 14, 2007

For five nights we have had night aerial spraying to stop the spread of the apple brown moth. Airplanes fly over our houses spraying an untested chemical over us all.

The papers and the government officials say don't worry, it is safe but untested, besides we local people have no choice in this matter.

My neighbors moved with their children out of the area during this time. I don't know what to think. I am just not very trusting in these matters and yet feel helpless in stopping them.

It's over now and the kids are returning to our street.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

All day I have been waiting, waiting for the plumber to come, waiting for the phone call apologizing for the failure to come, waiting for a new New Yorker, waiting for a friend to come by so I can apologize for my angry behavior, waiting for the kids to get out of school.

Warm soft Fall day, birds sing, the high school kids a block away celebrate the day with loud lunch music.

Sometimes it seems my whole life is centered on waiting.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Yesterday I was driving on Reservation road at rush hour. I saw a woman sitting on a chair holding an American flag in one hand and a hand painted sign before her face, with her other hand.

The sign said "remember 911".

Traffic was heavy and the image went by quickly. I thought of her during the rest of my drive wondering what her story was.

This morning at 6am I heard the distant shouts of soldiers running in formation and then at 7, taps played.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

This morning I set out to buy the perfect Bear Claw at Pavels in Pacific Grove, and sit down and write. I was feeling particularly inspired. At the Bakery I realized that I didn't have my reading glasses. Rats. I drove to the drug store and got lost in the various aisles and displays until I found the familiar reading glasses, cheap, plastic, number 2.5.

I went to Lovers Point to sit in the fog and watch the lustful sea gulls connive to snatch away the perfect bear claw. I yelled and waved a newspaper at them . They were troopers unwilling to concede an inch.

Finally went to coffee house where I could write.

Monday, September 10, 2007

The book group is coming tonight and I am stricken with dirty eyes. everything I see looks dirty, messy. worn, ugly.

How has this happened that I have let my house go to the dogs? these thoughts arise and I remember these are my friends.

My mind is just playing a trick on me. I have cooked Beef straganoff, a 1950's dish that I can't remember how to spell. and the table is set. It's not so bad after all.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

wall calendar

I look across the room to the wall calendar to see what is today's date. I want to know the correct number.

The numbers attached to the days have begun to slip as each day disappears into the next. I can't see the number clearly, I guess it is a single digit, it must be 9 not 10. September 9, 2007.

This morning is cool, overcast, birds calling, chirping. I'm aware of a persistent multi toned busing in my ears from deep in my head.

Life is good.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


I went to bed at a reasonable time but I didn't fall asleep.
I lay in bed for two hours, eyes half opened, body restless.

Now how do you do this? How does one disappear and
wake up rested in the morning?

There is some special pass word, some formula that I had forgotten.

So I got up , drank some milk, ate chips, and read a book for a long time. Back to bed and now I don't remember what happened next. The sleep door must have opened. It is morning.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Down the Nile

I am finishing a travel book by Rosemary Mahoney, DOWN THE NILE, Alone in a fisherman's skiff. She actually only spends six days rowing down the river.

The story she tells is of the difficulties she has as a single woman in buying a boat and rowing by herself on the river. Women are not seen as capable by the Egyptian men.

But she succeeds and I am applauding her for courage and fortitude even though I do not want to row by myself down the Nile. I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

wine bottles

On the corner lot of my neighborhood, a woman in dark clothing has been planting empty wine bottles in a row around her house. This project has been going on forever, each year more and more bottles are dug in with the bottles tops buried in the dirt leaving the thick part of the bottle sticking up.

When the wild grasses are high they are hard to see but as the grasses dry up the bottles are once again visible. None of us have asked her what she is doing, we just spend time creating stories about this bizarre garden.

The husband places no trespassing signs around the property to keep the high school kids away.

Maybe it is time to ask, although we haven't asked for many years. Maybe we have missed the right time to ask.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007


hot weather is back and the sky is filling up with smoke. the hot sun shines orange and pink on my living room rug. A wild fire 50 miles from here is out of control. I sit watching the images on the TV screen with wonder and fear. the dusk sky will be beautiful to night.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

After working several hours at the hospital I came home and found a blue jay desperate to get out of my bedroom. The window was open and he was smashing into an unopened part of the window. So close to the opening, doing the same thing over and over again. I brought a broom into the bedroom and pushed him to the side and voila he flew out without a single good bye.

Monday, September 3, 2007


Woke up to a cool room. The heat wave has broken. Long walk on the waterfront. This time I mostly noticed the trash, garbage, litter all along the beach and the wharf. I know it is a three day weekend. I know I should be grateful that tourists are coming and spending their money in my town. But the trash, can't they pick up after themselves. Who are these people? Who do they think clean up after them? Gulls and pigeons were enjoying rooting in the wet garbage. I have to get my sense of proportion back.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

slow day

lazy day, took early morning walk downtown before the heat started up again. five loads of laundry, food shopping, putting stuff away, made lunch and then I spent the afternoon on the couch reading a novel.

Surely there is something important that I should be doing. I check my email, call friends but nothing come us but the slow lazy book on the couch.

I surrender to the book and the day disappears. Too hot to do anything else.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

big eared stone man

I'm sitting in the Heart Sutra Class, restless, looking around. I am sitting next to a three foot granite statue by the fireplace, a smiling man with a big belly. He is happy. He is fat and bald with big ears. Why is he happy? Words flow around us, leaving no trace. I want to escape with the big eared stone man.