Monthly Archives: October, 2010

My Deer Sanctuary

Today is a lovely sunny day, most welcome after all our rain, and so after getting to watch a spider and a slug while showering in the sunshine, I decided it was a good day to pick up dog poop.  Aside from the obvious benefits found in this occupation, I was thrilled to discover, as I approached the ravine area in my backyard, a lovely doe and her fawn.  The dogs didn’t notice, so after getting them inside the house, I got my camera with telephoto lens and snapped some photos.  I’m posting my favorite here, but I posted all eight of them on my website photo of the day page, the link to which is at the top of this page for those who might enjoy more photos.  This certainly was a magnificent reward for doing a necessary chore!

Guru Wisdom

Look what happens when I don’t post for a couple days–I’ve now done three posts today.  But one of the sites I follow, Daily Cup of Tao,  posted this today and it really hit the mark with me.  I hope you enjoy it!

The highest guru lives within. All other gurus are compared to this inner guru and in time the inner guru realizes its perfection.
So there is room for the imperfect guru. Room for all imperfection, all error, all the trials that may come your way – they are all encouraging the inner guru to realize its perfection. 
I and my imperfect guru will now find lunch and then get back to warping my loom.  Namaste!

Words of Wisdom

I found the following quote from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao Te Ching and I thought it fit both my mood and my existential thoughts lately, so I wanted to share it.  Now if I could just remember this at times of stress it would be wonderful!

Chapter 29
   Do you want to improve the world?
I don’t think it can be done.
The world is sacred.
It can’t be improved.
If you tamper with it, you’ll ruin it.
If you treat it like an object, you’ll lose it.
There is a time for being ahead,
a time for being behind;
a time for being in motion,
a time for being at rest;
a time for being vigorous,
a time for being exhausted;
a time for being safe,
a time for being in danger.
The master sees things as they are,
without trying to control them.
She lets them go their own way,
and resides at the center of the circle.

Justifying One’s Life

Ok, another existential question.  Does one’s life need to be justified and if so, do we justify our existence by what we do or simply by our very being?  This past month or two have been difficult for a variety of health reasons, each relatively minor on their own, but which have combined to leave me in a state of near exhaustion at the moment.  But in spite of that, I have labored on with my quilting, which I do really, really enjoy, to make portable hug quilts (see the link at the top of this blog page if you want to view photos of them) for those in need.  And in fact, I have a request list from Vashon Youth and Family Services for 19 quilts which I know I need to get on with as winter is fast approaching.  However, the last few days since my second cataract surgery I have been particularly exhausted, and so I’ve not laid out the next group of three quilts yet.  Yesterday, in fact, I decided to warp my loom.  Back in mid-August I’d downsized my loom when the lady who’d originally owned my first loom (an 8 shaft) had seller’s regret.  Truth be known, I am primarily a quilter, especially since I have a lot of charitable outlets for my quilts, and only secondarily a weaver (I’m also very new to that art form), and the 8 shaft loom was too large for my over-crowded living room in the first place, and too overwhelming for a new weaver in the second, so I was very happy to do a swap where I let the original owner have her 8 shaft loom back and I got a smaller 4 shaft loom instead.  I even had yarn already to wound to put on the loom, pink cotton for hand towels for me, but with all my quilting, the loom still hadn’t been used over 2 months later.  All that changed yesterday when I decided I didn’t feel up to the rigors of laying out more quilts, but that I could sit quietly at my loom (named Charlotte for Charlotte’s Web) and begin warping her.  I could take my time, and no decisions were necessary, and I could just relax and enjoy the feel of the yarn, etc.

However, I still have the 19 quilt requests on my board.  Part of me worries that I’m not justifying my existence in this world since I’m not doing anything which is productive for others.  But a large part of me is just plain tired.  I suspect that as with most things, it is a matter of balance.  Taking time to nurture myself is a good thing.  Making something for myself isn’t without merit.  As long as I find a balance, as I know I shall as I recover my health, between doing for myself and doing for others, I suspect it is all ok.  So for now, instead of doing at a frantic pace, I shall when I can, just be, in this case, just be a quiet weaver.  Of course, I will still tutor my student later this morning and then teach an SAT prep class at the library tomorrow, but otherwise, I shall try to listen to my body, slow my pace, and just take time to be kind to me and hopefully regain my strength.

Cataract Surgery

Well, I do rather feel as if I’ve been put through the wringer, but my second cataract surgery, right eye this time, went well, and my vision is definitely much improved.  I didn’t sleep well last night, and then got up at 4AM to get ready.  My good friend Blythe picked me up at 6:30 for a 7AM ferry ride to Tacoma, and we were at Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute at 7:50 for my 8:30 surgery.  I was the second surgery of the day and it took 13 minutes–I had a different surgeon who takes a longer time, but that was fine with me.  He said he also did some extra polishing so that I might not get the secondary cataract, or at least not so quickly.  We were on our way back to the ferry before 9:30, and I was home just ahead of 10:30.  By noon I could take the tape off my eye, and at first it was all really disorienting as I not only had double vision, but one of the images was rotated about 45 degrees, making things really like something out of Alice in Wonderland!  But by 2PM my vision was actually very good indeed.  I do have the astigmatism issues, but my distance vision is great, and I’m finding that I need less power in my mid-range and reading cheaters.  Blythe picked me up again just after 2PM so I could be one of the witnesses for her re-done will, but otherwise, I’ve just sat in my recliner, to Sasha’s great joy!  I am really wiped out and I know I’ll be in bed early tonight!  But I suspect I’ll be better by tomorrow and that my recovery will go smoothly.

I Heard A Pinecone Fall!

I’ve written before about the joys of my outside shower, but this morning was another idyllic moment.  My friends have commented that they can understand showering outside on lovely summer days, but that winter would be another thing!  Well, this morning it was 45 degrees, with both rain and strong winds and it was quite wonderful.  I was out in my hot shower surrounded by rain, watching the majestic fir trees swaying when I heard a pinecone fall!  I’m not sure I’ve ever heard that before–I am definitely not an outdoors type, so my pleasure in showering outside is amazing.  It was just a miraculous moment!  Then I saw several small birds flying upwind from branch to branch and that was wonderful as well.  I did my yoga tree pose in the shower, standing still and tall and I hope very tree-like, but not swaying as the actual trees were doing as I figured that wouldn’t be too safe!  And I wiped pine needles off my shower gel before opening it.  All in all, it was a fantastic way to start my day and my week.

Extinction Continued

This morning, as I was reading the blogs I follow I came across a quote from a podcast done by Scientific American: Biodiversity. The word can’t help but fail to do justice to the myriad species of plants and animals, the fecundity of the natural world, the complex web of life. As a word, it’s easy to ignore.  But inattention equals extinction. Earth is experiencing its sixth mass extinction event, species winking out of existence before we even know them. And it is a mass extinction entirely caused by the relentless expansion of human habitat and agriculture, as well as human domination of the natural systems–such as the climate–that make life possible.

Then, as I continued reading in Google Reader, I came across another entry, this time from Tao Wow which states that: Suffering is a man made disease and it is a choice to live with it or not. If we did not look to alter the world (which we can never do) and instead look to alter our own viewpoint (which is easy) we can then each move to live with an appreciation of the magic and wonder that brings about this life. That is the only change that can actually come about: To change focus and reaffirm the world as wonder and not horror. When we escape compassion and dispassion and move to direct awe of being then we are not perpetuating the churn of greed, desire and poverty but all sharing the one thing that is infinite and absolutely equal amongst us all – Tao.
So what’s a person to do?  Do I get upset by what our species is doing to the planet and all the other species?  Do I see this as horror?  Or do I move to “live with an appreciation of the magic and wonder that brings about this life,” no matter how short that life may be?  I’m not sure, and I don’t know if I can redirect my viewpoint (which the author of the second quote says is easy) to the awe of being.  I’ve always been a “fixer,” who tried to find a solution to each and every problem, whether it was my problem or a friend’s or a community’s, etc.  Now, I’m beginning to realize that my fixes were not always helpful or even necessary and that the fixes I was so attached to frequently did more harm than good.  But I have a very strong sense of justice, and it is very hard to see the myriad injustices in our classist society and not want to try to fix the problems.  I suspect, deep down, that the writer of Tao Wow is correct–we can never alter the world, but I’d like to think that by being the change I want to see in the world that maybe I can influence the small corner I live in.  By being the change rather than trying to force the change, or fix the rest of the world, maybe, just maybe, I’ll make a small difference.


I’m sure it is the time of year as we are now into the season of quieting down and reflection, and I’m sure it is my exhaustion from my low energy levels combined with my increased schedule since the school year does not model Mother Nature, and probably it is also the blasted elections, but I’ve been pondering a lot lately about the nature of the universe, for lack of a better term.  What is the point of life?  We are born of the earth and return to the earth and what about the time in between.  I’m sure my spider is not pondering on the nature of her spinning and why she makes webs, but then I’ve always been one to think about existential type questions.  Soon I’ll do a post on personality types as I realize that it isn’t just the spider who doesn’t ask existential questions–most people don’t either.

Anyway, back to the topic.  It is the nature of the universe to change.  Life is constantly in a state of transition, as the changing seasons remind us.  And extinction is part of that process, whether it is the extinction of a life, a species, or I guess even a planet.  But why is ours the only species which seems absolutely determined not only to cause its own extinction, but the extinction of everything else on the planet and indeed the planet itself?  Other species have become extinct during the evolution of our planet and the life on it.  Before there were humans, the dinosaurs, for instance, became extinct for reasons which are still unclear or debated at least, but other life survived and evolved.  Homo sapiens seem to be the only known species which thinks it has a right (and many would say a “god-given” right) to rape, pillage, and plunder this planet, destroying any who might get in its way, taking whatever it wants with total disregard for any other life form, since obviously our species is the most intelligent, the most deserving, etc.

Now, of course, not all of us believe this.  But it is becoming more and more apparent that the majority attitude, especially of the first world nations, has in all likelihood already doomed this planet.  Personally, I am trying to live a gentler life, a more respectful life, and to “be the change that I want to see,” but at least in my current frame of mind, I’m wondering if it isn’t all too little too late.  But there is an entire universe, and the individual doesn’t really exist as we are all part of the cosmos, the larger picture, and maybe that is true even of our species and our planet.  So I shall muddle onwards, trying to stay present and mindful, and meanwhile, it is time to give my dog Chauncey his weekly bath in my outside shower in the rain, and so starts another day.

Spider Web

As I was looking out my window this morning I was captivated by a lovely spider web!  What skill it must take to make such a thing of beauty!  I actually then noticed three more in my yard, but they weren’t in good spots to be photographed.  However I did manage to get a couple nice shots of the first one I saw and I’ve posted those photos on my photo of the day page.  As I was thinking about this lovely start to my day I also pondered a post from dailycupoftao where the author states: The most advanced alien life, say a dolphin, lion, garden shrub, bacteria, fly, rat; all are actually as well advanced as every other. Only the human, feeling advanced with its tools, is in folly due to the wish to explain itself, where every other just is. I thought just how true that is and that the beauty of the spider is that the spider is just being, not trying to explain anything, not figuring that it is somehow better than every other species on the planet, not doing anything to justify itself.  The spider just is and how wondrous that is!

Trials of Living Alone

I live alone (well, with 2 dogs and 3 cats, so not really) and there are times when I can get myself into trouble trying to do something by myself because I don’t have a large support group in the first place, since I’m relatively new to the island, and because I don’t ask for help easily–I give it, but don’t necessarily receive it well.  Anyway, that is one reason why I’ve been so very grateful to my friend Blythe for her most generous offer to take me to my cataract surgeries.  The first surgery went along just fine and we were scheduled to do it again next Tuesday.  However, Blythe’s husband was just diagnosed with lung cancer and he has to have a biopsy next Tuesday.  Obviously she’s had to cancel as my ride and now I’m left to find another way to my surgery.  I’m sure it will all work out just fine and I do have some options to pursue, but it certainly reminds me of the issues of living alone with no family close by.  I know that the longer I live on Vashon the more family I will make for myself, but I have to admit it can be scary.  However, as I was writing this blog post, my friend Blythe called and it seems her husband’s biopsy has been postponed until Wednesday because he’s on blood thinner, and she is actually eager to take me on Tuesday after all, so everything is back to normal, or as normal as things can be.  And I am very grateful to have such a good friend, and I shall keep her and her husband in my thoughts as they proceed on their paths.