A to Z Challenge: B is for Bluets

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B is for bluets. These bluets are tiny, pale, four-lobed flowers that come up in the spring. The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin tells us that these flowers grow in part shade in small patches, as these are. They are perennials, of the madder family, Rubiaceae. The Latin name is Houstonia caerulea, and they are also known as azure bluets and as Quaker ladies (it is thought because of their pale, purplish blue, reminiscent of the color of the hats Quaker ladies were often seen to wear).

Bluets bloom in spring and early summer in the US from Georgia to Maine and in eastern Canada. They can be sown by seed and cultivated, and are often featured in rock gardens. I found these tiny bluets in the grassy verge by the road to our lake in a patch of dappled sun. Their fragile beauty is a reminder of the nature of impermanence to which we are all subject. Savoring moments of joy in our day helps us stay in the now and have gratitude for the life force within us.

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I decided to take the A to Z Photo Challenge around my little town of Pocono Pines, Pennsylvania. We’ve had a home here for over 10 years, and taking this challenge is offering me the opportunity to get to know it even better than I have. I hope you will enjoy this photo journey as much as I do!

Your Weekly Diversion, Week 17

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Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

It’s hard to know where to begin this week. One’s consciousness can feel quite numbed and befuddled by current events, a sort of tennis match of Here! No, here! Head on swivel, rooting for the good guys, and annoyed, appalled by others.

Boy, do we need some diversions! I wish they all were more cheerful ones, but here’s what I have.

In a session this week a client and I discussed our concerns for the environment. I mentioned the Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch. Because this was unfamiliar to my client, I pulled up some images on my iPad and we discussed this (literally) growing phenomenon. Do you know about it? These images tell the tale.

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Image used with gratitude to h2odistributors.com

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Gyre illustration by Jacob Magraw-Mickelson

So what can we do? I’m sure you know the drill: Return – Reuse – Recycle. Try to do it with every bit of plastic that enters the home, not easy to do, and I have to say I still throw out cat litter in old plastic bags, and have other similar behaviors. But I believe it helps us to learn and know the consequences of our carelessness. We make regular trips to a recycling center in Pennsylvania, saving our items in big blue IKEA bags in the garage, because in our county recycling is still optional. In Florida our recycling is collected weekly at the curb by the county. We try to use and reuse every bag and container that makes it into our house before we recycle what we can. We take the plastic rings from 6-packs of seltzer and cut them so they can’t end up around a seal’s snout or turtle’s shell. I’m no paragon of environmental activism, but I try and I know you probably do as well. Just Google “pacific garbage gyre” and select “images”. What you see will sober the most profligate among us. Hopefully.

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Image courtesy of Hazelden Betty Ford 

An original manuscript of the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book is coming up for auction, as this story in the New Yorker details. As a friend of Bill W, I found it quite informative. I’d wager that the Big Book has saved more lives and brought more into a state of spiritual awakening than all the finger wagging and booze-shaming ever did.

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Photo from Design Boom

I’d like to end on a note of serenity and beauty.  I found images of a new Buddhist shrine in China inspiring, and you can read the story here.

And here’s a little something from me to you (words from the book Making Space: Creating a Home Meditation Practice by Thich Nhat Hanh):

 

Namasté

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Photo Challenge: Surprise! Airboats in Pennsylvania?

 

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What? An airboat on Interstate 380 in northeastern Pennsylvania? I followed this one on my way to work today.

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As I passed I saw it belongs to Natureworks Clear Water Associates. Their website gives a lot of information as to what they do, from monitoring and addressing invasive plant species in ponds and waterways to stocking fish. They serve a large geographic area. This is not intended to be a promotion, just a source of information,

Having just left Florida, I saw many airboats, although none I saw were red. It’s interesting to me to know they use them up north, too.

Namasté

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For the Daily Post

 

Practice of Metta and the English Problem, by John Aske

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Photo from Buddhism Now post of 5/3/17

I just read this interesting article from Buddhism Now. It seems that resistance to experiencing or acknowledging having truly loving feelings toward the self might also be an American problem, or perhaps simply a Western problem. But I suspect that cultivating Metta, or loving kindness, toward the self is quite difficult for many of us living human beings. What is especially wonderful about John Aske’s very British difficulty with Metta, is how he used his successful conduit into Metta to address and eliminate his depression!

Read on to enjoy this most Buddhist perspective on a most ubiquitous Western malady, by clicking on the link below.

Source: Practice of metta and the English Problem, by John Aske

Namasté 

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 14

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On this, week 14, I’ve been on the move, literally. So I will just share the diversions as best I can.

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Detroit Michigan Map Art Print by The Mighty Mitten, themightymitten.com

 

As you no doubt are aware, the iconic birthplace of the US auto industry, Detroit, Michigan has suffered a drastic and prolonged economic downturn that has led to a real estate crash and outmigration. So this story from the Guardian really is good news!

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Spring is here and therefore it’s getting close to garden planting time up north. I still have a lot of the heirloom seeds I bought last year so I’m going to see how they do. Some people order seed catalogs and pore over them during the winter. Others think about tactics. If the idea of making trellises for tomatoes and beans and other climbers instead of buying tomato cages and bright green bamboo sticks from a big box store appeals to you, try this.

And here is your toe tapper for this week. It’s a doozie and I enjoyed it even more than the original Freddie Mercury composition we loved as Queen performed it.

Namasté

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 13

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Welcome to Week 13. My focus has been a lot closer to home this week. Somehow it just feels better that way. We are preparing to migrate north. Here are the best photos I took this week.

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Steve and Tex, a Biblical Naples sunset, Daisy and the Easter Bunny, flowers peeking through a box hedge, and our blooming magnolia.

We’re having a drought here now and the fire risk is very high. The lake’s water level is lower than we’ve seen during this season. We hear it’s supposed to begin raining nearly daily soon, and it sure seems like a good thing! When the wind blows across Florida from the east, we smell smoke and find little bits of ash on our cars. Right now the culprit is the Cowbell Fire near Alligator Alley. It’s over 30 miles away from us now, but sometimes we can see a column of brown smoke in the air. Hundreds of fire fighters and their equipment and other resources are battling the spreading blaze.

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Okay, take a deep breath and calm down. Hey, guess what? Research now validates what we who meditate have known forever: deep breathing is the best way to calm down. UPDATE: Wow, since I posted this, I just learned that my friend and fellow blogger Joan Rothchild Hardin had written an extensive post on the breath.

As we prepare to hit the road in a few days, let’s hope it’s not a hard road.

Yes, indeed, sweet young singers Lennon and Maisy help us pray that Hard Times Come No More.

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Community & Friendship’s Delight

Are you a member of a community? We belong to several and are very grateful for them. Quincy Square, Pinecrest, Friends of Bill W, and more. Here is a glimpse into a wonderful, warm, community I would love to join, if I were close by. But then, perhaps I already am….

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delighted sitting Buddhas ~d nelson

Dear WordPress Community, and Friends on the path,

So easily mind goes here, then goes there.
The mind can go in a thousand directions
including thinking that it’s alone.
But, with mindfulness, concentration & insight
we can remember the path upon which we’re stepping.
On this path are also countless beings supporting us,
at this moment, some of them are of the human-type.

delightfully recycling, together in Deer Park

I’m reminded of so many elders and others
who are isolated and feeling lonely right now.
They wish so much to be with other human beings.
I’ve had these feelings arise, myself
and I’m only almost an elder.
Perhaps you’ve longed for human companionship, also.

delightful flower

I’m offering a bow of gratitude for all the friends who came
joyfully together on retreat with me recently.
It felt very comforting, connected and safe to be vulnerable…

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 12

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Graphic courtesy of Men’s Health magazine 

It’s week 12 of this weekly post, roughly corresponding with the recent change in leadership in the US. You won’t read specifics from me here by design, but the news is filled with the details. All I can say is, please choose your information sources wisely. There are extreme sites out there that conflate and contort reality to suit their base. Enough said.

Here’s your first diversion: I love those colorful veggie numbers above, and when I found the source, Men’s Health magazine, I read the piece. The idea is to have a 12-hour break between the last bite of one day and the first bite of the next. So if you had a dish of ice cream at 9pm, you would wait until 9am to have the next day’s breakfast. They cite research and recommend limiting eating to an 8-hour window.

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Buddha’s Diet, from Running Press

Buddha’s Diet by Tara Cottrell and Dan Zigmond recommends much the same eating window. While Buddhist monastics typically limit eating between dawn and noon, this book advises to limit eating to nine hours, and to do so mindfully and healthfully, but there are no lists of must-eats and must-nots. I have been following its guidelines now for several weeks and find it easy to do and beneficial in a number of ways. The morning does feel like a fast. Before that first meal, I drink decaf black coffee, decaf tea, seltzer and plain water, as much as I can, to stay hydrated. I do have caffeinated coffee if I really need it, but most of experts I’ve read say we’re better off without it. Plus, it dehydrates.

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Photo courtesy of National Geographic 

Is laughter really the best medicine as the Reader’s Digest always said? Could be. Author and former Saturday Review editor Norman Cousins reportedly cured himself of a serious illness by deliberate laughter, having Marx Brothers movies brought into his hospital room and giving in to deep belly laughs. There’s a lot out there on the subject, so Google it yourself. Now, enjoy reading about the mischievous Kea parrots of New Zealand who love to laugh. The second video on the page shows their playful resourcefulness. Good for a chuckle, too.

And for your listening pleasure, here is Angel Olsen with “Never Be Mine.”

 

Namasté 

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Your Weekly Diversion, Week 11

 

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And here we are at the end of another week. I write this week’s post from Washington DC, where I have been attending a fantastic professional conference focusing on the psychotherapeutic treatment of trauma. Having enjoyed countless conversations with colleagues whom I’ve known now for decades and many of whom I consider among my closest friends, it seems these times in which we find ourselves are quite traumatic for most of us, domestically and internationally as well. Being so near the epicenter of the seismic shift only adds a measure of intensity to it all.

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On the brighter side, the cherry blossoms are in full flower, and the trees are greening up with the beginnings of leaves.

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Speaking of trees, this less-invasive wind turbine does away with the huge and often dangerous blades to more closely approximate actual leaves. Each “leaf” rotates vertically, and a whole tree can power an electric car for over 10,000 miles a year.

Sea Of Springtime Wildflowers Spreads Across Southern California

Maybe this is because it is spring at last, but I am perseverating on the botanical today.  The heavy snowfall and abundant rains in California have produced the most spectacular wild flowers in recent memory. The story and video at the link attest to this colorful affirmation of renewal.

Given the botanical theme, I feel drawn towards a song from my California adolescence. May you enjoy it, too!

Namasté

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