Monday, May 29, 2017

Petunia Night Sky

I fell in love with Petunia Night Sky as soon as i saw it in someone else's wagon at the nursery. Even though a single plant cost $5.95, i plopped one in my wagon too.

I lead a loving-kindness meditation called Breath In Peace and Breath Out Love. The initial instruction is "Breathe in peace from wherever you think peace resides: a still mountain lake, a meadow filled with wild flowers, the trees in the forest, or the night sky with the moon and the stars."

I imagine peace in the night sky. Breathing in peace, i breathe out love. Petunia Night Sky reminds me.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Is Sumac Really a Weed Tree?

In the past month, 3 people have said to me, "Sumac is a weed tree. I've got to get rid of it."

Sumac is a weed tree? Sez who?

Sumac has many wonderful benefits:
  • It has beautiful red, yellow, green foliage in the fall.
  • The sumac staghorns provide food for birds all winter long.
  • The 12-foot tall sumac provides a nice intermediary between the 3-foot tall garden and the 60-foot trees in the woods.
  • Sumacs have an interesting airy architecture. They are a nice background tree.

Yes, sumacs sucker, but around here, i seldom see vast stands of sumac. Mostly, i see small patches.

A weed is something growing where you don't want it, but are you really going to plant a garden in the place where the sumacs are? They are usually growing in a waste place, a place no one has paid attention to for quite a while. Are you the one who is going to roll up her sleeves and pay a lot of attention to that area? Really?

Saying what everyone else says might be true. Or it might not. Investigate for yourself. Inquire deeply into what is true for you.

Investigation is the second factor of enlightenment. We look deeply into the delusion that is all around us, and call it by its true name: Delusion.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Landscape Fabric

While transplanting yesterday, i dug up a piece of landscape fabric. Oh yeah. 15 years ago, there was a path here. I put down landscape fabric so weeds wouldn't grow in the path. Now the path is 3 feet farther downhill.

Landscape fabric is for gardeners who don't garden. Landscape fabric is trying ever so hard to make the garden stay the same--just as it is today. But guess what! The garden moves. The garden moves so incrementally, you don't notice it. My yard has a slight incline, and the dirt moves downhill ever so slowly.

If you're never going to move a single plant, never going to divide an overgrown plant, never going to dig in your garden, then you might consider landscape fabric. But, really, what's the purpose of landscape fabric, or black plastic? I'm betting you want to keep the weeds down. If you want to keep the weeds down, mulch! Mulch is very pretty, and you can dig around in it all you want.

Friday, May 26, 2017

The Catbird Seat

The catbird seems to be my totem animal this spring. I'm not that familiar with catbirds, but one is often within about 8 feet of me as i'm gardening. I can just sit on the ground and listen to it sing its double phrase song. I wish i could speak as many languages as the catbird! (Or the mockingbird or the thrasher, to which it is related.)

But maybe it's not languages per se that the catbird represents. Maybe i am learning to read people more easily, and not take what they say personally.

My meditation teacher, who had a spontaneous awakening experience when he was 30, says that awakenings enable the person to "see through" people who are less proficient on the spiritual path. No judgment here. Simply an "Oh," which leads to compassion for that other person's suffering and an equanimity of accepting things as they are in the moment.

I'm not making any claims about my own awakening. Once in a while i feel awake for a few seconds, but mostly, i'm muddling along with everyone else.

The catbird is sitting pretty, and i am pretty happy to be graced with its song.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eggshell Water

89-year-old Margot is watering her hibiscus with eggshell water, and it has the biggest, most beautiful blooms ever. "I have an egg for breakfast every morning," she says, "so collecting the eggshells is easy."

Eggshell water? Put 3 eggshells in a glass, and smoosh to smithereens. Cover with 2 cups of boiling water and let it sit all day. This leaches the calcium and other minerals out of the eggshells and into the water.

Water your houseplants the following morning, and let me know what your results are. You can even drink the (taste-free) eggshell water.

The reason we take calcium is that ever so slowly, minerals are leaching out of our bodies. Without even noticing, our bones are becoming porous. Earth elements are invisibly returning to earth, even while we think we are our same old selves. Ha!

We can replenish ourselves--or our plants--with eggshell water or some other form of calcium. It's a temporary fix that works for years, hopefully decades. But eventually, our own bodies will be broken eggshells headed for the compost pile.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Big Purple Balls

 My grandmother had flower beds all the way around the brick ranch house that she and my grandfather moved into in 1955. Every Saturday, while mother went grocery shopping, we kids stayed at Nonnie's, and she gave us a tour around her flower bed. Very boring for this teenager, but I now take pleasure in what pleased her. One of her unusual specimens was 3 alliums that bloomed with a big purple ball on a three-foot-tall bare stalk.
My purple allium balls are blooming this week—very eye-catching as they stand naked above everything else that's going on in the flower bed.

The tall things, the big things get our attention in life because they are so remarkable and give us so much pleasure.

Can we continue to pay attention as the remarkable thing fades and becomes ugly? Can we notice that all things are impermanent? My grandmother's garden—long gone.
Allium comes, and allium goes. And so do we.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Blame Game

My morning meditation group is reading a book on forgiveness. Yesterday we read a chapter on The Blame Game, which i think i would like to memorize. Then yesterday afternoon, as i was teaching meditation at the county jail, one of my students talked about her relationship with another woman inmate, and how they were just playing a hurtful blame game with each other.

The blame game starts with you-statements. This is a way of throwing a hot potato at someone. Usually, the other person will throw it right back at you with another you-statement, and then the two of you are off to the races.

It takes extreme mindfulness to hold on to the hot potato and notice that it is hot and burning and that you feel angry or frustrated and that you want to say whatever is on the tip of your tongue. Stop. Stop and notice all those pains. Count to 10. Give yourself a moment to cool down. Try to drop the hot potato. Keep trying to let go of that hot-hot-hot potato.

Of course your feelings hurt. That is your pain. Notice that "they" did not cause your pain. You are causing your own pain by holding on to a painful idea. They condemned you. So what?

It's time for you to make a change. A change of habit. Probably a change in relationship. The pain will cease. But only when you stop resisting it.

The Blame Game is a game you are sure to lose. So stop playing it.