Under the Bodhi Tree and Serendipity

Good morning! My daily inbox treat from Tricycle magazine recently featured a promotion for a wonderful new children’s book called Under the Bodhi Tree, and this video of the book is narrated beautifully. The voice of Kriste Peoples is perfect for the text. The book gives a lyrical account of the awakening of Siddhartha Gautama.

Now that we’re more or less settled after the move, after just two weeks, I’m beginning to emerge from the state of intensity in which we’ve lived since June when we headed north to sell the house. It was a frenzy of decluttering, packing, making various arrangements and so forth. I even sold my Prius I had kept up there. The one big thing I forgot to do was have the satellite radio activated on my Florida car. It worked fine until Thursday when it shut down. Turns out there was a freebie period going on, and then it ended. So while we were parked in the Aldi lot before doing some food shopping, we called in and after a lengthy call got it reinstated.

We experienced an amazing confluence of kindness, generosity and serendipity over the last three and a half months. A friend and a cousin helped us empty the attic and sort the contents. We gave them art and lovely smaller things in gratitude. A neighbor came by to say goodbye and graciously took away the remaining contents of my refrigerator plus a wrought iron cupcake rack I was planning to leave behind. Despite a slow real estate market the wonderful realtor we chose did an amazing job and had us under contract in just over a week after the listing went live online. We sold some old jewelry and silver items we never used for just what the movers charged. We sent down 37 boxes of personal treasures and needs and a lot of original art. A main concern of mine was where I would put everything once it arrived. We sold the house fully furnished and equipped, so my lovely china closet stayed behind. My husband also needed a desk for his iMac, so we’d been visiting furniture and consignment stores this past week.

We found a stunning solid hardwood china cabinet at a consignment store. It had been sitting there for months so our lower offer was accepted, and we got it delivered yesterday. Now I have shelves awaiting my mother’s Blue Quail china and other much loved things. Right now it holds my butterfly tea set, some Fiesta pieces and a cast iron Dutch oven, just to fill the shelves for now. It’s 8 feet tall and beautifully made. It reminds me of an antique store window on the Rue Royale in the French Quarter.

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The heavy Murano Glass bowl on the top shelf was lovingly carried back from Italy by my mother in 1955 who held it on her lap on the plane. I have carried it everywhere I’ve lived since she died over 13 years ago. I stashed it in a big duffel bag well padded with clothing to bring it down to Florida two weeks ago. Spot the Buddha on the second shelf? I rescue any that I find and can afford (I once found one in an antique store in the Village that was very old and selling for $13,000. I didn’t take that one!) in thrift stores and antique places. This Buddha is a glass tealight candle holder.

Once we found this lovely piece, we redoubled our efforts to find the office furniture my husband needs. Everything we found was either too large for the space or two small for the iMac. We even found an office armoire of beautiful wood with all the bells and whistles, but it was very expensive and he didn’t love it. We looked online and mulled over many options. At last we found a number of suitable desks on Joss and Main (a Wayfair site) and chose a nice, simple one with a keyboard drawer that was inexpensive and looks easy to assemble. We’ll have it and the chair we chose by the end of the week. Easy peasy!

That’s it for now. It feels good to be blogging more regularly. Life changes, but there will always be interesting things to find and share.

Namasté

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How do you know when to change things? By Ajahn Sumedho

Buddha, 3rd century
Pakistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province,
Schist; H. 36 1/2 in. (92.7 cm); W. 11 in. (27.9 cm); D. 5 1/2 in. (14 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Purchase, Denise and Andrew Saul Gift, in honor of Maxwell K. Hearn, 2014 (2014.188)
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/646117

This interview with Ajahn Sumedho offers some wonderful insights into action vs. inaction, spontaneity vs. impulsivity, ego vs. awakened-ness. Please click on the link below to read the rest.

Q: Sometimes it might be a good idea to change things and sometimes it might not. How do you know when to change things?

A: Well, as you begin to trust in that way of accepting things as they are, then your own intuitive sense will guide you. It doesn’t mean to just put up with unpleasant things as a practice, but at this moment now, whatever way it is, it can only be this way. This is just a fact. Right now whatever we are feeling or whatever is around us is the only way it can be at this moment; it’s like this; this is the way it is. In that accepting and allowing, you will have a much clearer sense of what to do—whether you can change it or not, whether it needs to be changed. This is a way of working intuitively rather than from ideas about what you think should be. 

 

Source: How do you know when to change things? By Ajahn Sumedho

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 30

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Photo courtesy of Julia Webb, flickr.com

This is Week 30 of my chronicle of changing times, except I’m not really doing that, just offering a brief general observation, followed by interesting diversions to edify my readers, as they have edified me.

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Sylvia Boorstein, photo from onbeing.org

This week’s observation: as we are stunned by the “fire and fury” and “locked and loaded” off the cuff blurts spewed Eastward and globally to our collective potential peril, it helped me to read what Karl Duffy posted this morning on his daily Mindful Balance blog, a quote from esteemed Buddhist teacher and psychologist, Sylvia Boorstein, starting with this:

The line from the Dhammapada, a compilation of sayings attributed to the Buddha, that seems the best expression of wisdom, is: “Anyone who understands impermanence, ceases to be contentious.”

Impermanence means that whatever is going on right now will change, for better or for worse or in some other way we cannot foresee. So being freaked out by the crazy machinations of any world leader, East or West, is a waste of the limited precious moments of this life. Click on the link above and read what Sylvia Boorstein says about it.

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Having a home to call one’s own, be it transitional, rented or owned, is deemed essential to a healthy life. If you have land you can use, even if you don’t own that land, this house can be brought to the site and “built” in under 10 minutes. The company, Ten Fold Engineering maintains that a foundation is not required, just stable ground, and when the structure is towed away, it need leave no trace. The structure can even be completely off the grid. While not available for most of us yet, it’s an example of what can be done. The structures can be stacked and connected to form multiunit dwellings.

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Photo from calfinder.com

Homelessness is a serious problem in the United States. Over half a million individuals were counted as homeless in 2015, as this site details. They do report that the number of homeless people has declined, although my working in New York suggested otherwise. For more modest examples of housing one can build out of materials often seen as “trash” check out Calfinder, the videos here or Relax Shacks for plans and tons more information.

Another challenge can be having a home but no longer having access to one’s usual faculties if dementia robs one of speech. But, it’s not always as gone as it seems.

Let’s just remember, we are only one call away for someone who needs us, as Charlie Puth sings. Let us hope that they remember, too.

Check out this video on YouTube:

 

Namasté

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A to Z Challenge: F is for Ferns

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Here in Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania we have several kinds of ferns. 

Made with Repix (http://repix.it)

Sensitive Fern

The large leafed fern above is called a sensitive fern, or Onoclea sensibilis. Some variations have finer fronds. The name comes from early American settlers who noticed that frost quickly killed them. It is also sometimes referred to as the bead fern.

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New York Fern

Around my garden Buddha are fine examples of the New York Fern or Thelypteris novoboracensis. The orange flower to the right of the statue is called Spotted Touch Me Not, or Impatiens capensis, also called orange jewelweed. Below is a large roadside expanse of New York Ferns.

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Pocono Pines features shady lanes and roadways, thanks to the tall pines and lush deciduous forests up here. Ferns love and thrive in shade and in damp and swampy soil, so our woods and roadsides that are crisscrossed by streams and runoffs are filled with them.

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Inspired by my WordPress friend Ruth, I decided to take the A to Z Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. In the 2010 Census, the population was 1,409 persons. We have one gas station, an art gallery/gift store with wonderful artisan wares, a magisterial court office, an ice cream stand, a pizza place, a family restaurant, one bank, several real estate offices, a US post office, a produce stand, an elementary school, a public library, several residential developments, and a number of other businesses. We are located in the Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, about 35 miles from New Jersey and two hours from New York City. We have two lakes and are 1,805 feet above sea level

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 18

 

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Week 18, and each day this week seems to have brought one Breaking News story after another. What do we do with the parry and thrust, the he said-he said, the weird, the loony, the scary and the unbelievable?  To paraphrase Bette Davis in “All About Eve”: Fasten your seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy fight.

So of course we need our diversions. Here goes. Mother Jones magazine says that we are turning to comfort foods to salve our fears and quell our anxieties.

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Some turn to Pinterest to ogle food porn, those succulent photos of cheesy macaroni casseroles, pans of iced cinnamon rolls, plates of pretty cookies, pots of spicy chili, and recipes for every imaginable ethnic cuisine or dietary plan, and every way to cheat you could possibly want. If you want to enjoy a meal and not go crazy off the dietary deep end, it helps to search “healthy smoothies” or “salads” or your desired way of eating, be it vegan, paleo, low-carb, plant-based, high-protein or what have you. Then the food porn is at least in your wheelhouse. Hmm, sorry for the mixed metaphor 🤔.

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It is during times like these when mind-fulness, focus on the experience of the here and now, is crucial. The projection into the future doom and gloom, the downfall of our democratic civilization, the climate meltdown of our planet home, a nuclear holocaust, and all the other scary prospects that the future might hold if this or that happens, is a kind of mental exercise that only brings suffering. We have enough suffering, or dukkha, in our lives as it is. The Buddha said that dukkha–suffering, is the First Noble Truth. So to learn to stay focused, meditation is a great help.

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Helping others can help lift us from a potential pit of despair. Suffering may be unavoidable, but it brings good karma to help alleviate it whenever we can. A dear friend of mine and his wife are helping to bring water to an arid part of Africa, a location where women and children have to carry heavy containers of water on their heads up hills just to cook and wash. If you would like to help the Abonse Pipeborne Water Project, they have a GoFundMe campaign on right now.

This week’s musical diversion comes to us from 1962 when cellist Yo Yo Ma performed for President and Mrs. John F. Kennedy and President Eisenhower after having been discovered by famed cellist Pablo Casals. His older sister played the piano to accompany this precocious 7-year-old boy’s amazing performance.

Namasté

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Daruma or Bodhidharma: Early Zen Master

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This craggy early Zen Master, known as Daruma in Japan and Bodhidarma elsewhere in the Buddhist world, has been immortalized by Zen scholar Hakuin.

Learn more about the gifted monastic artist who painted Daruma and other Buddhist figures many times during his 15 years of artistic expression in this post at Buddhism Now https://buddhismnow.com/2016/05/01/the-sound-of-one-hand-paintings-and-calligraphy-by-zen-master-hakuin/

In the accompanying video at Buddhism Now and produced by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), curator Rob Singer gives the background and context of the artist Hakuin.

Namasté

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Savoring the Bounty of Summer

This has been an interesting summer here on the Pocono Plateau of northeastern Pennsylvania. The first few weekends were washouts, dashing hopes for long awaited tennis events and swimming plans. The woods became more dense with lush leafy growth of shrubs and trees. I have read this is due to higher levels of carbon dioxide produced by warmer climate. In previous summers one could see through the trees in the back yard to streetlights beyond but not so this year.

Our garden Buddha sits atop the remains of an old stone foundation wall, and it has been necessary to cut back the berry canes and other shrubs around it several times this year.

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We also have seen no fireflies here or in New York this summer. I haven’t seen any news stories to address this in 2015, but apparently light pollution is a major factor. When the night is bright, fireflies fail to see one another in their usual mating courtship and therefore produce no offspring the following year.

In addition to the lush vegetation we see all around us, our small plot in the community garden is a tangle of tomato abundance and exuberant Italian parsley and fragrant basil. The parsley is an essential for summer green smoothies, offset nicely by ginger root, fruit and other healthy additions, depending on one’s tastes and what is available. We’ve made piña colada mojito smoothies, minus the spirits but tangy and delicious all the same.

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These Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes are ready to pick when the bottom is purply-red and the top still green, and frequently cracked as well.

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Sliced, these Cherokee Purple heirloom tomatoes are dark red with a purple tinge. They are delicious!

Savoring summer’s bounty has been a very happy experience this year, as has casting our meditative eyes on our lovely Buddha, surrounded by the lush woodsy growth, ferns, clover and the potted begonia that has flourished without any care as it celebrates its honored place.

A lotus for you,

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