Never take this for granted

December 16th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADaylight shreds through the clouds beyond the lagoon. For once, so rare, no rain. A clear cold morning, and today  Geshe Yongdong is giving a teaching on Quadra Island. It is a perfect day for a ride, and yet my grumpy mind finds resistance. My lower back stiff, my bed still warm. It is Sunday.

But then I dress and drink my coffee, stuff some snacks in my bag. Heading out I am creaky and slow. The thought of my warm bed lingers. But then I break out of the woods, hit the sweep of pavement, opening sky. Mist hangs low on the fields, shards of sunshine on Gunflint Lake. Swing onto Gorge Harbour Road toward the ferry on the roller-coaster ride, not a car to be seen. My lungs squeeze in and out, mind and body clear as I jet snot from each nostril. The trees so tall on each side of the road, I sing out to the sky, oh let me remember please don’t let me forget! The absolute miracle of my working knees, my pumping heart. The fact that I can. My prayer, thank god, I can do this.

The drop down  to the ferry lands me flushed, high with arrival. I wheel the bike onboard and greet my neighbours, then kick back for 45 minutes   as the snowy peaks of the inlet glide by. On Quadra I pump steady uphill to the Community Hall and sink onto a cushion. GesheLa arrives beaming. When the teaching is over I bow, climb back on my bike, and coast back down to Heriot Bay. A stormy jumble of logs in the harbour. My sandwich tastes like heaven. I’m back on the sea.

It is the last leg of the journey and my body is weary. Twenty more kms to ride, up and down, up and down. I weave tiny switchbacks on the steepest hills, sucking momentum from the small figure-eights. Now, and again I just get off and push. Too wiped to pedal. Night falls. An owl gazes down from the wires. I round the final horseshoe onto the dirt of Lagoon Road, up down and around one last push, the lights of the farm come into view, and I’m home.

I am tired but not hurting. Muscles pulsing with blood. Hungry, thirsty, alive. Never take this for granted.  May I do this, while I can.

Little lemon tree

November 19th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe little lemon tree is crying again. Infested with scale, it weeps sticky tears.

On homecoming to Vancouver I find the little tree in sorry state. Once again I apologize for my absence and neglect, and set to tending her. I borrow pruning shears from my neighbour, kneel before the little tree, and amputate the most crusted branches, knowing new ones will sprout at the stumps. Then I set to work with rag and dish soap, gently cleaning  each leaf and stem. It takes a couple of hours but when I am done she stands shiny and straight.  I scratch a glossy leaf with my nail and the clean tang of citrus fills my nose.

Pablo planted this tree from a seed oh so many years ago. He gave it to me when he went away. When I clean the the little lemon tree I think of beautiful Pablo and his sticky tears.

I’m in the soup

November 5th, 2014

rainy-lake-and-islandRain drums on the roof of my bus, waves pound the rocks below. Into the darkness and back to the light, I commit, to this. I commit to this slippery grey stone in the Salish Sea, which will be my home through this winter. I am stoked, intrigued, and a little terrified.

I have taken a job as part-time Marketing Assistant at Hollyhock, until May, and who knows from there. I was hesitant, because the word ‘marketing’ kind of makes my skin crawl. But mostly it  will be graphic design, writing copy, and connecting people up – more or less what i like to do, and do well. I know it really grounds me to have some kind of a job, to give a semblance of structure to my time. I respect Hollyhock and think the work will be fun. And of course it will pay the rent, which on Cortes Island, is pretty cheap.

And then so, what will I do, through all these bleak rainy days? Bike through the puddles. Walk in the forest in the rain. Knit. Write. Incubate my Project, which is kicking to be born. Get movies and books from the library. Practice, practice, practice.

It feels like walking through the zendo door on that first day of sesshin. The hours and days stretch before me like a long dark tunnel. I know it will be uncomfortable. I know I will have doubts and fears. I know there will be mornings when I can’t remember why I am here or what I am doing, and I know I will sometimes feel very alone. I know I will make it through to the spring. That, or be eaten by mold or slugs in the attempt. Huzzah!

WhatEVER!!!

October 31st, 2014

Rooster-crowingScreaming down Seaford Road on my bike in the bucketing rain, i rocket round the tight horseshoe curve to Lagoon Road, crowing, WhatEVER!!!! WhatEVER!!! at the top of my lungs. With no one to hear me, not a single car, just grey fog, and rain. Rain, rain, and more rain. Aw hell, let it rain, bring it on—WhatEVER!!!

After weeks of wiffling and waffling and riding my edge, chewing on my arm, late last night I reached the point of whatEVER! An explosive release, into the big question mark. So I stay. So I go. So I have a lover, so I sleep alone. So I rise, I fall, I succeed, I fail. I take this job. I take that job. I take no jobs. Give it up. WhatEVER!!!

Not the whatever of the shoulder shrug, not the whatever of the sullen child, but the WHATEVER of surrender, head back, arms thrown wide. The roosters scream it, long before dawn. The sun is coming, the sun is coming! Will there be corn, will there be hens, will there be the soup pot, will there be rain? Who knows, who fucking cares?! The sun is coming, the sun is coming! WAKE UP! WhatEVER!!!

the binding of baskets and nets

October 23rd, 2014

49a9d142677e4_63192bRealize the fundamental point, free from the binding of nets and baskets.
Eihei Dogen Zenji, Recommending Zazen to All People

Just do it! called Nike, of glory and speed. With a flash of white sneakers running into the night.

Do i gotta? I plead, left to pout in the dust, do i gotta, do i haveta, for what reason and rhyme? Echo of her laugh on the wind as she flies. Just do it, just do it, just do it. Just do.

But oh! the nets and the baskets, the boxes and bags. Where is my basket and what is my box? Definiton, limitation, punishment, reward. Security, freedom, a trap and a home. To catch and to hold and to carry and keep. Where is the reason and what is the point?

And what about fame then, and money, and love? If there’s nothing to grasp for, and nothing to hold? Don’t ask what the point is. Just do it. Because. Of the basket of air and the net, full of holes.

On the radio

October 20th, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMy home entertainment system is a little silver plastic box. It runs on two double-A’s and works best on its back with the antenna pointed south-west. I used to get 3 channels before the recent round of CBC budget cuts, but Radio 2 no longer broadcasts through the old-skool airwaves so now I get two channels: CBC Radio 1 Victoria, and Cortes Community Radio. I don’t have wi-fi so my home entertainment is always fresh, weird, and live.

Romina has officially resigned from the CBC, she says it drives her nuts. She has unplugged her radio and put it on the high shelf. She’s all podcast now. And I know CBC is often no better than the rest. The faux-news, the cute animal stories, the general dumbness makes my eyes roll up into my head. Read the rest of this entry »

Should i STAY or should i GO?

October 17th, 2014

sail awayShould i stay or should i go now, should i stay or should i go now…if i go there will be trouble … if i stay there will be double…so c’mon and let me know …  …  … should i STAY or should i GO?
– The Clash

STAY! like a well trained dog, I can hear the command. I stay, just long enough to suss out the situation. But then like a wild dog off i go—i run off the heel, fail to stay in step. Off i go again running after the next squirrel or car or thrown stick. I go, and there is always trouble—but always reward. There is the rush, the thrill of the chase, the wonder of new roads to run and strange new smells, sights and sounds. Read the rest of this entry »

Polygamy and the question of Bountiful

October 9th, 2014

5-10-16bountifulBountiful is in the news today. Again.

Bountiful is a ‘breakaway Mormon’ community near Creston, B.C. It has been an object of controversy and fascination for many years due to the tolerated practice of ‘polygamy’ under its leader,  Winston Blackmore. The whole thing has me totally stumped.

First, to get this perfectly clear: there is more going on at Bountiful than simply ‘polygamy’, and it’s not good. There are allegations of kidnapping, of smuggling yound women over the border as child brides, and of forced marriages. Read the rest of this entry »


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