Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Way of Life

by Lao Tzu

My own phrasing, based on two or three dozen translations from the Chinese. I continue to add verses to the BOTTOM of this post, so if you have read verse one, verses 2, 3, 4 etc. follow below it. Otherwise the verses would be in backwards order, which for some reason disturbs me profoundly. DG


Existence is beyond our ability to explain,
No language does justice to it.
To begin with no one even tried,
But since we are,
We have to explain ourselves.
Whether you view it with the objectivity of science,
Or the raw passion of one newly in love,
The universe is precisely the same.
Only the viewpoints differ.
If we have to give it a name
Call it The Great Mystery,
And from that Mystery arises all things.


When you decide something is beautiful,
You must think something else ugly.
Judging one person respectable,
You assume others unworthy.
Birth and death, though part of the same cycle,
Seem poised as opposites.
Difficult and easy are measures of effort,
Long and short measure distance,
High and low describe relationship;
But since it is the varying tones which create music,
And what is will soon be what was,
The rational person
Considers the circumstances
And remains flexible.
Takes the day as it comes,
As something to use, not to fret away.
To hold but not to grasp,
To accept with simplicity.
If you remain humble
You can't be humiliated.


If you heap praise and glory on a few
The work of the common man seems pointless.
Determine a man's worth by his display of wealth,
And you encourage envy and theft.
A wise society encourages compassion,
Eliminates hunger,
Teaches quiet self-reliance,
Creating such stability that cunning meddlers cannot corrupt it.
Without being forced or persuaded, people do the right thing.


Mystery with no beginning,
Was the beginning of everything.
The parent of the universe,

It wears out mountain ranges,
Outlasts agony,
Watches the seasons wax and wane,
Lays the wind.
Like an unfailing spring it flows.
But how it began,
Is unfathomable.


Life doesn't take sides,
It gives birth to both good and evil
A wise person doesn't take sides
Recognizing good and evil in everyone

The universe is like a bellows,
Appearing empty but ever full.
The more it yields the more it holds.
The more you try to explain it,
The less you understand.
A wise person learns from life,
And is never bewildered.


Existence is a spring on a rockface,
Its source hidden, yet inexhaustible:
Welling up from the root of the world,
Draw upon it; it will not run dry.


Existence endures,
because it has no agenda.

The wise person is content,
because they meet life as it is,
And put themselves neither first nor last.


Water is an excellent example,
It benefits all, while always seeking the lowest level.

A house may be placed in the best location,
The mind may be kept quiet,
Associations chosen for their virtue,
Government for its ability to maintain peace and stability,
Actions must be taken at the appropriate time.

It takes two to maintain a quarrel.
It's hard to find fault with a peaceable man.


Overfill a cup and it is easily spilled,
Over-temper a sword and it shatters at the first blow.
Fill your house with treasure and it is easily carried away by thieves,
Boast of your accomplishments and others will find you insufferable,
Do your work well and let others acclaim you.


Embracing simplicity, you are more focused,
Breathing gently, you are revitalized,
Clearing your mind, you become wise,
Nurturing your children, you learn fairness,
Opening your heart to others, you are welcomed,
Accepting others as they are, you embrace Life itself.

Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without obligation,
Results in harmony.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Plan, As it Stands

This is the time of year when my fantasies run to the wild and exotic. Maybe it's just the boredom of long, cold winter nights and short, grey days. But as I walk "The Moo" around I note that tulip spears are emerging (into still freezing temperatures), chickweed flowers are starting to open into starbursts of white, and the trees are beginning to fatten with buds. The finch and junco males are beginning to display and sing, courting irritated females whose only thought is peanut-butter-coated- birdseed. They aren't thinking sex yet, but the boys are eager and they trill and do the boogie-woogie "Ain't I cute?" dance any time they can corner a female.

I walk around and look at everyone else's places. Most permanent residents here have decks, but I've felt that a deck would cut off my view of the sky and the trees overhead, diminish light levels inside, and eliminate my already small garden patch. I've reconsidered. A six-foot wide deck wouldn't impede on my planting area. If we put on a transparent coroplast roof it wouldn't reduce the light level too drastically, though there's nothing that can be done about losing the sky view. A deck would give us much needed storage area, and a place for the cat to run and exercise, other than bouncing off the walls inside. We could have an outside table and chairs, I could hang plants out of the cat's reach.... I have been convinced.

So plans have been laid for the building of a deck in mid-April. Ian and Zak have said they will come and build it. Ian is extremely good at any mechanical and spent a summer working for a deck-building company back when he was 18 or 19, so he has an excellent working grasp of carpentry, and Zak, well Zak is much like my Dad. He can do anything he puts his mind to. I figure three days and they can have it done.

And I sit and think about the garden itself - and thumb my now coverless - and raggy-edged seed and plant catalogues. I'm going to try some new gardening techniques as well as adding the ferns I wanted so badly last year and couldn't find. This year I have found a couple of sources and will order a variety of ferns. Then I'm going to try something I've longed to do for years, but never had the climate for. FIG TREES.

When we lived in Houston we had two large old fig trees (and 11 huge pecan trees) in our back garden. The fig trees produced two crops a year in such quantities that every Tuesday in late spring and fall we took several brown paper grocery bags full of ripe figs to the food bank. Last summer I found ripe fresh figs in the market ONCE and the tray of four small figs cost $5.00.

Figs grow quite well in containers, and while they need protection in the winter, that is just a matter of wrapping the dormant tree and pot and putting it in a sheltered place. We're even talking about buying a couple of dwarf blueberry bushes which can be grown in a container.

We have one of those quick assembly double-walled half-height "sheds", which is inconvenient for storage. We have decided we can drill holes in the backs of each of the panels and put in that expanding foam insulation. This will turn it into an insulated space, and with the addition of a 15 watt bulb on days when it's -15 or below, it would be a perfect home for overwintering container plants - like figs. In the summer it can be disassembled and put under the trailer.

Well, these are the dreams of a slightly creaky Buddhist in late February in the still-frozen north. In the swath of brown leaves that covers my garden now the juncos continue pecking at the peanut butter and birdseed mix we've provided. Occasionally there's a bit of courtship. The cat next door watches the birds from his window perch on the back of the sofa, cleverly concealing himself in the drapery. not very well LOL We move toward spring.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Friends Can Be Very Different

You know, your friends need not be carbon copies of you. Sometimes it does a body good to stretch a little and accept others as we find them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Well, it is Canada, and February, but I've had enough already!

Then, while surfing YouTube I fell on this. I love the song but never knew its origins. Apparently it is from an animated British Christmas film called, "The Snowman". The animation is reminiscent of Tin-Tin. They fly over the Sussex Downs, the Royal Pavilion and the amusement park on the Brighton Pier. Now I am all cheered up, and will look out the window at the falling snow with a cheerier face. Hey! The sun has come out! BONUS!

We're walking in the air
We're floating in the moonlit sky
The people far below are sleeping as we fly

I'm holding very tight
I'm riding in the midnight blue
I'm finding I can fly so high above with you

Far across the world
The villages go by like dreams
The rivers and the hills
The forests and the streams

Children gaze open mouthed
Taken by surprise
Nobody down below believes their eyes

We're surfing in the air
We're swimming in the frozen sky
We're drifting over icy
Mountain floating by

Suddenly swooping low on an ocean deep
Arousing of a mighty monster from its sleep

We're walking in the air
We're dancing in the midnight sky
And everyone who sees us greets us as we fly

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

At 10 Times her Age I Still Can't Carry a Tune!

Six-year-old Connie Talbot, singing one of John Lennon's idealistic songs. We'd be better off if we all dreamed John's dream.