Your Weekly Diversion, Week 40


It’s week 40. I’m having technical difficulties with WordPress today, so I’m not sure how far I will get. 

We’ve just recently returned to Southwest Florida. There are signs of Irma everywhere. Blue tarps, stacks and piles of trees and branches and other debris by the sides of nearly every street. The big multiplex movie theater still hasn’t reopened due to hurricane damage. Our neighbors who remained here all summer have told us of sandbagging lanais, about the fallen magnolia trees (only a few remain out of scores across the lake), now just stumps, and the six foot piles of  debris including the contents of refrigerators and freezers, thanks to the electricity being off for more than four days. They’ve told us the smell of all that garbage and debris was extremely disgusting. Many people are still awaiting insurance money, if they were lucky enough to have insurance coverage, and if they have it, it’s hard to find available skilled people to do the work. Because of all this, we feel extremely fortunate to find our home intact, dry and undamaged. Well,  it wasn’t exactly undamaged. The AC wasn’t working, nor were our cable, internet and phone. When I went to do a load of laundry, I found out half the laundry room wiring was fried. Thankfully, good people came and helped us, and all these problems have been resolved. The food in our refrigerator and freezer were discarded by the man who watches our place and got it ready for Irma’s arrival. So between repairs and replenishing our staples, hundred of dollars have flown from our wallets, and that’s life. People have urged us to notify our insurance company of all these expenses, but I doubt they’ll exceed our deductible. And all we need to do to keep this all in perspective is remember what our American brothers and sisters are suffering in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Millions remain without adequate food, water, shelter, and power. 

These are my diversions carefully curated for you this week, despite being on the road and staying in pet-friendly hotels, and coming home to big problems.

Graphic courtesy of Creative Commons – vaXine

Magic mushrooms, specifically the psilocybin they contain, are helping people suffering from severe depression that has been resistant to all conventional treatments. And more than that, it appears that this chemical actually helps “reset” the brain. Wow!

It’s been a great time here for the birds. The floodwaters washed fish into areas where they wouldn’t ordinarily be found, such as retention ponds and catchment basins, and when the waters receded, the fish remained. Right up the street from us, where the woods meet the sidewalk, is just such a place. This small, squarish retention pond is lined with rocks, and surrounded by tall pines, squat palms and shrubs. And high in the trees roost a large flock of wood storks, huge birds with wingspans of about 5 feet and long down-curving beaks with which they fish. It’s estimated that there are fewer than 6,000 wood storks are left in the US, as fishing areas such as ours diminish and are replaced by development. So we feel very lucky to have up to 30 of these majestic birds perching on our roof, flying overhead, and roosting in the trees. I took these photos today while we were taking a walk around the lake. The first photo is of a bald eagle that a noisy flock of great egrets drove from our lake when he attempted to fish there. He was far more beautiful than my iPhone photo shows.


The second photo shows the woodsy retention pond surrounded by great egrets, the white birds with yellow beaks, and wood storks. Both species stand about four feet tall. The feeding frenzy marked by all the croaks and clacks gives new meaning to shooting fish in a barrel.

IMAGE: DIGITAL GREENHOUSE/PARTY/WEBSITE


Currently in Tokyo an unusual exhibit is drawing a lot of attention at night. Mostly an ordinary greenhouse by day, this one plays music and gives a colorful light display when the plants are gently touched. Each vegetable plays a different note. Together the sound is amazing. Check it out!

❤️ And this week someone very special and dear to us popped up, out of the blue, and brought us a happy surprise. You know who you are. ❤️

Last night when I first wrote this post and published it I was too tired to add a musical number, but this morning it came to me that “Turn, Turn, Turn” by the Byrds would be just the thing. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven.

                                                                                           Namasté 


Your Weekly Diversion, Weekly 37



Now we find ourselves at Week 37. It’s been quite a challenge for the planet and for human kind. My mom’s 92 year old baby sister just fell and broke her pelvis. We are all praying for her healing and return to the active life she loves. Then my cousin finally got down to her home in Florida only to find leaks and other damage. Another cousin found that her Florida art gallery and museum and all the contents survived undamaged, although trees and plants on the grounds were devastated. Friends with property and family in Puerto Rico are anxious about their wellbeing. And then there’s the political circus with its twirling and gesticulating, gyrating and posturing, bellowing and sanctifying its innocence in the face of a blunt reality that begs to differ.

Painting  by Yukon artist Natalie Parenteau

Do you smudge? If not, here’s why you might want to start. Science backs up the belief many share that smudging is good for our health and can be good for the air we breathe. I do it in the office between clients sometimes, especially if the vibe has been especially intense or just to give me a lift. The wonderful work of Canadian artist Natalie Parenteau as seen above can be found here.

The colorful seaside neighborhood of La Perla in Puerto Rico inspired singer Luis Fonsi to write and perform his iconic “Despacito”. Before you get to enjoy the video make earlier this summer, here’s how La Perla looks after Hurricane Maria, in a sobering video clip.

Now, the joyous “before” to remind us all how much work will need to be done for the people of Puerto Rico and this pastel paradise to be restored to gain. “Despacito”:

                                                            Namasté

A to Z Challenge: B is for Bluets

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

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!

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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Milkweed in October

All photos mine, taken with iPhone 6.

All photos mine, taken with iPhone 6.

Autumn has descended upon us virtually overnight with her reds and yellows, browns and orange leaves among the green. The garden is on its last legs, the tomatoes picked and sitting on the windowsill to ripen. Only the exuberant parsley and leggy basil remain. I’ve filled jars with both to enjoy their green abundance and aroma, and to make picking a few leaves here and there a breeze.

On my way back from our community garden the other day I came upon a field of milkweed, their snowy fluff catching my eye among the greens and autumn colors.

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I knew little about milkweed (Asclepius syriaca), mostly that the sap of the immature pod is white and milky in appearance. I just referred to Wikipedia on the subject and read that monarch butterfly larvae feed solely on milkweed and therefore monarch populations in a given area depend upon the abundance of milkweed plants within it. The silky floss is so soft to the touch, even with the flat brown seeds to which it is attached. As I approached the field, I saw bits of fluff in the air.

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Up here on the Pocono Plateau milkweed is ubiquitous, on the roadsides and in fields. The ones pictured here grow along a leachfield for the community’s water management. And now I know why several varieties of monarchs are so abundant here as well!

How interesting it is to me that humans have found little use for these plants, despite considerable effort to eat the green pod, use the sap or exploit their floss and wood fibers for industry. The Wikipedia article says that Euell Gibbons found a way to eat them and that native Americans have used their fiber for textiles.

The miracle of nature is so present here in this amazing plant. A particular species of insect, the monarch butterfly, relies on this particular plant family for its survival. The flowers are pollinated by a variety of insects, and when the dried pods split open the wind catches and elevates the fluff and makes sure the seeds scatter far and wide.

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Mindfulness practice trains us to see and explore all that we encounter for its purpose and intent. We do not always understand what we see, but as nature unfolds before us and we are fortunate enough to learn about it, the world makes more sense to us. The milkweed, a plant of no remarkable beauty until fall, with its knobby pods, serves a vital role in the ecology of our planet. Having met and savored its beauty up close this week, I will never take it for granted in same way again.

Namasté

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Enjoying The Great Outdoors

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Green, cool, wet, shady, lush plants, all these qualities soothe our souls. We need to get out into nature when we can to refresh ourselves. Maybe we can’t get out there to see it everyday, so looking at photographs can refresh us. Taking photos and printing them out is another way to bring nature into your life.

Creating a natural outdoor space at home can be amazing, if we are lucky enough to have the space and the means. Here are some ideas on ways to create an oasis in your own world.

Outdoor Chill Zones

 

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Namaste

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