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Comments from Insight Timer From when I Started Writing them Down (Spring 2019?) until August 1, 2020

Good morning. Beautiful day. Will take Tashi to share at The poets’ bench in Balboa Park today. This week we admired the flowers on a small section of the Pacific Crest Trail

 

Sun between showers
Hummingbird flashes purple
Once more dark prevails

Yesterday there was a rainbow next to my alter. Morning light and the glass doors of a cabinet. Serendipitous morning beauty.Today, a little haze. Garden, a muted watercolor. Prayer flags unmoving . Today I will reward Tashi and me with a trip to Fiesta Island where she can run and I can stretch my legs and feel the sea, reward for writing last night after a dry spell. Then, perhaps, tonight I’ll write again, with gratitude.

The California poppies have sprung up in the paths and will get to stay because they’re delightful. Red mallow, Mountain lilac, Encelia, other natives are blooming and the garden is full of finches, towhees, a couple wrens, and of course, the hummers. Think I will sit a bit longer and enjoy the scent of orange blossoms.

Yesterday was in the 80s. I took Tashi with me to the poetry bench in Balboa park and she was a good sport sitting around as folks read their poetry. Today I will take her to Fiesta island to make up for it.

4/3/2019

Unpredicted rain
Prayer flags send drops to the deck
Buddha sits serene

Damp after the rain
Tashi  sticks her head out door
Returns to warm bed

Ahhhhh. Enjoy the beauty. My rebellious poppies are blooming in the paths, not where they were sown. Birds serenaded my sit today

Rebellious poppies
Bloom on my garden path
not where they were sown

Time to meditate
Birds line up at the feeder
Strip prayer flags for nests

Sun’s bright energy
Highlights my garden below
Rain becomes flowers

Good earth dressed in spring
Butterflies dance to birdsong
Towhee tugs at string

4/21/19 (Easter) bombings in Sri Lanka churches and hotels 

Cold and blustery
Across world, death in churches
Our Mother Earth grieves

Yet in this morning
The hummer sips her nectar
Flowers bloom their hope

***

Baby finch parents
Start children on life of crime
Steal oriole’s jam

Ten word:

Crosses, bombs
Can we love
Our holy places
Respect others?

Embraced by the moon
Fluffy owlets’ golden eyes
Silent mom with mouse

Trying to get home
I stop to look at the sky
I’m already there

Become whole again
Each broken piece a lesson
In finding oneness

Wet, not really rain
Walk outside, scent of white sage
Cool May gray morning

5/10/19

Woke to bright sunlight
Settled in to meditate
Now dark clouds, wet deck

5/12/19. Mother’s Day 

Birds gathering food
Tiny baby wings flutter
Heart full memories 

Ten word poem

Day of memory
Tiny beings
Now parents
Circle of love

5/15/19

Monkey-mind morning
Thoughts ricochet off the walls
Dog dreams by window

5/16/19

We wait for the rain
Sit on the edge of the now
Shoes sit by the door

5/20/19 ( 10 word poem)

Wind whipped clouds
Sun struggles
Breaks out
Lights  luminous hummingbird

6/9/19

The morning is gray and soft, yet monkey mind found a way to bounce. 

7/13/19

Back from road trip to Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and California with Tashi. Grand kids and grand dogs in Colorado, Ghost Ranch and memories of Mom in New Mexico. Sacred places. Places of time. Mesas. Wildflowers. The road. 

7/16/19

Cool fog. Tattered prayer flags. Baby hawks try out their screams. 

8/26/19

Hummingbird at the feeder. Warm morning before the heat sets in. Last night, sunflower seed heads silhouetted against fiery sunset.

9/26/18

Just returned from driving to Denver, flying with my daughter to Tuscany and Umbria, driving back through Utah. The last night jolted me back to reality. Never try to save money by staying at a run down casino on the outskirts of Vegas. Now amid the detritus of the trip, I sit. Buddha has acquired dead leaves and dust but still sits serenely on the deck. My mind flicks back to Tuscan fields, stone monoliths. I sigh. Laundry awaits.

October 20

And today it will be October fire season hot. There is a tension and holding of breath. I stare out my window at tattered prayer flags and the Banyan tree that arrived mail order as a three inch seedling and is now over two feet beside meditating Buddha. Humming bird sips and chases the others. Fall is here. My bare feet are cold on the floor and the warm wool shawl comforts until the day warms. 

November 15, 2019

A little foggy after early morning sun. A slight chill. Southern California is attempting to say autumn

November 16, 2016

Dog’s bark summons me to the window. Two morning Monarchs dance upwards from the manzanita. Two teenage girls walk ahead of old woman with cane around our cul-de-sac. Oh I hope they saw the Monarchs, too. 

November 30, 2019

More rain than I’m used to, but we need it. Yard is green with fresh rain and a smaller species of hummingbird sits in the Baja Fairy Duster in the front yard. Dog sighs. Her walk today was too short. 

December 7

Today the only thing that would entice Tashi to go into the backyard (more than 9 hours since she was outside) was for me to put on full rain regalia and go downstairs with her during a break in the rain. I puttered, pulling a few weeds and planting a few succulents and soon realized she was back in the house. Sighhh. At least we walked Fiesta Island yesterday. Now, after meditation, the Buddha on my porch is meditating in the rain and I must rise and do the laundry. 

12/24/19

First glimpse after meditating:  Buddha sits on the wet deck by the living pine tree decorated by sunlit drops from last night’s rain. The house finches dominate the feeders, then startle and fly.  Bright yellow goldfinches swoop in to take their place. Napoleon hummingbird scolds and chases rivals from two feeders. The prayers flags hang heavy and tattered. I rise, ready to meet the day. 

12/25/19

Happy season of holidays, my meditation friend!

1/3/20

Sometimes I ease gratefully into meditation. Sometimes I get caught in monkey mind until I tell myself to untighten my shoulders, smile, go back to my breath. Sometime, as I did today, I find myself repeating: smile, shoulders, breath. Sometimes I ease gracefully, gratefully into meditation sometimes I do not.  That, too, is my practice. 

2/15/2020

Today I must rise from the heaviness of lethargy and write to make a hole in the dark. Thanks for meditating with me.

2/16/2020

Yesterday a Monarch bright with the newness of her emergence. A green chrysalis with a crown of gold perhaps nurturing her mate. Winter in San Diego. Will I, too, find courage to escape Into the sun?

2/22/2020

Have missed a day here and there, but mostly still sit daily. Thank you for noticing. Today I am running to a weaving class in the desert. Thank you for the energy. I need it. Have a day of sunshine and beautiful clouds.

Be safe. Be well. Be snug and emerge with an incredible lightness, stronger for your ordeal.

That said, do not take it lightly. Do you have chicken soup friends? ( this coming from a vegetarian). If you have shortness of breath, get thee to a physician. Ok. I will stop being grandma.

3/15/2020

I am hunkering down, plenty of stuff in the cupboard, a pen and an empty page that seems to remain empty. The orioles have returned and many more hummingbirds. A tiny cottontail in the front yard. My wise facade is evaporating as I obsess on Facebook, but I see the evil corporations becoming the overlords and can only hope  the small band of youth has divine slingshots. 

3/27 /2020.

Day 19:  Tashi (dog) and I are riding it out. I am fortunate to have a garden with fruit trees and have planted vegetables if it becomes a long haul. Showers last night, golden sun today. Be safe; be well. I watched a monarch caterpillar create its chrysalis in a beautiful succulent so am checking its progress daily. Sending safe virtual hugs, Barb

April 3, 2020

Today I will do Zumba on zoom with daughter-in-law and hope my grandkids photobomb. Tonight a Wonderful Jewish friend has invited me to a virtual shabbos. In between will be in between. May bitter fuel turn to oranges and honey. May you take a moment to see spring arriving all around you.

4/20/20

I think a lizard got the chrysalis—nature in action. This morning is cool and damp, but I filled the bird feeders yesterday and the morning is full of birdsong. Thanks for meditating with me. 

4/21/2020

Circle of life. I think a lizard got my emerging Monarch. Today a bunny stood on a rock in my front yard and peered in at Tashi who was barking crazily. I feel lighter today. Turned in taxes at Postoffice. First time out in public. Back to my hermitage.

5/15/2020

Meditated on the deck. Bird song. Hummingbirds. Orioles rattle. Wrapped in my Tibetan soft wool, I am grateful for the day. 

5/24/2020

Today is day 77 of my self isolation and my granddaughter’s birthday. I bought her what she wanted, a Polaroid camera in line green. Her brother got a Bugatti model unbirthday present. My son’s family came over yesterday and we sat in the backyard in our masks and watched the Monarch butterflies. Today I must plant more milkweed as I counted over 30 caterpillars in the yard last night. The days are beautiful and my dog, Tashi, lets me hug her. 

May ( 2018 came up)  
Wet, not really rain
Walk outside, scent of white sage
Cool May gray morning

May 31, 2020

Today is cool. Birdsong comes in through the one open window. The tattered prayer flags lift slightly. Now a hummingbird arrives, checks around him for rivals, perches and drinks from the feeder. I am loathe to rise from my seat, but I will amble to the front window and peer out with Tashi at the white sage and globe mallow, Queen Jacaranda in her purple cloak over a purple carpet, the Monarchs and lizards, tiny bush tits and warblers. 

6/4/2020

Birdsongs in cool fog of morning and mourning for our world. May love overcome hate.

6/10/2020

It will be hot today. Windows open in early morning to be shaded over as heat creeps in. Tashi sits on an outdoor chair. Goldfinches cover the thistle feeder. Orioles made short work of the grape jelly. Today I found half an eggshell below the swallow nest. Nestlings must be growing. 

Thank you. Glad to have meditation friends during these times. Hunkered down for 95 days. 

June 14, 2020

Cool with lots of birdsong and Monarchs today. Tashi insisted we walk the backyard together. This morning she jumped on the bed to comfort me. Thanks for meditating with me.

My favorite birds change daily. I love the little goldfinches, especially the young ones who flutter their wings and insist on being fed as they sit on the feeder. The hooded orioles come for the grape jelly and they are deep yellow and black and very shy. In the undergrowth I have fluffy brown towhees. The hummingbirds are a bit too belligerent but they sparkle. Even their poop is gold. Then there are the little brown bush tots who come for the sage seed. And the wren I’ve seen once or twice in the front yard. We have bluebirds in the neighborhood but I rarely see them. When I am at retreats, the blue jays sit on my head and eat out of my hands and, unlike my neighbors, I see the crows as wise friend

6/20/2020

Today,  74 years on this earth. More and more I hurt when it hurts and sing when it sings.

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6/21/2020. Yesterday my wonderful son put on a hazmat- type suit so I could get my first hug in over 100 days. ? We also had ice cream on opposite ends of an 8 foot table. 

6/25/2020

Today Tashi’s  incessant barks caused me to pause my meditation with five minutes left. Through our front window Tashi and I watched a mother and two children begin their silly walks in front of our house where the sign said “ Commence Silly Walking.”  What makes a grin feel so good? Or what makes someone feel so good they can’t stop grinning through the rest of meditation? ( Google: Ministry of silly walks)

7/14/2020

Today my WeCroak app had a quote that said something like “ every day I wake up not dead is a good day”. Before I started meditating, I filled the jelly feeder for the orioles and made sure the thistlefood was full for the finches and the nectar for the hummers. So far, the wind is blowing the right way so the smoke from the burning ship is not filling the house. The morning is cool.  My little Bodhi tree has fresh new leaves. 

7/16/2020

Today an awkward oriole in full male color, missed a too little branch by the vegetable garden, looked around to see who noticed and flew into the Palo Verde tree where he became invisible. I think my baby orioles have become adolescents. 

August 1, 2020

Today I meditated on the deck amid calls of hummingbirds, goldfinches, and orioles. No early zoom meetings, I had awakened gradually this morning, aware of cool sheets and pillows. Tashi jumped on the bed and I lazily stroked her ears. Now I sit, my Tibetan blanket snug against a cool breeze, not yet willing to go back in the house to start my day

 

 

Covid Calling

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Upaya Zen Center, Santa Fe, New Mexico

I hang up the phone. No, I push the button to disconnect from a WhatsApp-face-to-face chat with my energetic, New-York-pushy friend, Janice. She has issued a demand that I write and she will check back with me at five pm.

It is after one pm, day fourteen of my hunker down.  This should be a perfect time for a writer to write, right?

I don’t write.

I have become one with the reclined seat of my plain brown-cloth couch, one with the iPhone, scrolling, liking, reposting, anything to think about anything but this plague. Except I think of it continually.  I make dark jokes, post dark memes, laugh with Randy Rainbow’s social distancing, make fun of our ineffectual president, growl at the woman on Facebook filling her truck with huge cardboard boxes of toilet paper from a small rural store.  She  proudly proclaims herself a Trump fan as she yells ‘fuck you’ at the person using a cell phone to record her, a person who will not be able to buy toilet paper for herself and her family but who will get a million likes on Facebook.

I have tried to write for fourteen days and only succeeded in writing one small story to a prompt on Zoom for my now-on-line Thursday Writers group.  A week ago, I didn’t know what Zoom was.  Now I have used it to talk to friends and strangers on my phone or desktop computer at least six times—my memoir group, my daughter-in-law’s Zumba class in her living room, where my grandkids photo-bomb as I attempt to follow without all the leaps and jumps.

I am still tired, but I keep moving, even as the couch calls.

Last night, a post on Facebook from a group of poets I didn’t know in the flesh posted a practice Zoom in preparation for an on-line poetry reading and I tuned in.  There were six of us, they all knew each other, but graciously allowed me to read a poem.  It was probably a downer for them—fear, dementia, death—not exactly the upbeat stuff we need during this time of Covid.

As I relinquish my warm seat on the couch, I panic once again. I have been sitting still, but I feel out of breath, my heart squeezing blood faster, panic attack. Do I imagine I am lightheaded?  I start some tea, run to the bathroom so I won’t be interrupted later, check to be sure I fed the dog, stare at the hummingbirds and orioles outside the back window and the monarch butterflies out the front. I switch on the computer, walk back to the kitchen for the tea, sit down.  My fingers are cold, stiff, achy, but I write, “I hang up the phone.”  Now the dog barks and my chair scrapes the floor as I rush to check for deliveries.  No, just a couple teenagers walking their dog. I wonder if they walk their dog in their pajamas as I do.  No one knows we do if we put on a jacket and shoes.

Back at the computer, I decide my phone needs charging and plug it in. By now my tea is lukewarm. I realize I forgot to add lemon but stop in a mid-reflex jump to flee to the kitchen.  What the hell is this?  I hug myself, hands on opposite shoulders and realize it is a common impulse now. When did I start doing that?  Am I providing my own human touch?  It’s not exactly a warm hug. Besides, I do get some other tactile comfort. Tashi snuggles against me at night and during the day I feel content as my fingers sink into the soft deep fur around her neck or between her Yoda ears.

I think about the Covid-19 virus, how it has changed me, us, how it has uncovered the fear of death I thought I had overcome.

Ten years agoI watched my husband die.  He had Parkinson’s Disease, but his death was from pneumonia.  I have heard pneumonia is like the torture waterboarding, panic, lungs filling up, no room for breath. I block the scene from his hospital room from my mind

I remember late April of 2009.  My husband was still alive, his father was still alive, my mother was still alive, her husband was still alive, my best friend was still alive, my old dog was still alive. My father had died gently, calmly, lucidly two years before and his death was my pattern for what death would be like.  I could live with that.

Back to that April eleven years ago.  Spring had brought softness and delicious scents to the yard.  The Jacaranda that provides my purple rain was just beginning to bloom, the hummingbirds were briefly sharing the feeders they fought over the rest of the year, lavender blossoms hosted bees and butterflies, the weeds would have to be dealt with, but for now they only added to the green chloro-phylled world. I would be attending a meeting of premedical advisors in Santa Fe, New Mexico, my parents’ childhood state.  I had a caregiver for my husband.  I would travel to Upaya Zen Monastery, spend a couple days in quiet meditation, then go to the meeting where creative professors from the University of New Mexico would be teaching a few workshops that were not directly related to guiding undergrads towards medical school.  Then, back to the Monastery to use as a home base for trips to Taos, Chama, and to discover my mother’s roots in the tiny town of Dulce in Northern New Mexico.  I looked forward to a break from my husband’s care and to return refreshed and ready to instill my newly acquired wisdom in my future doctors and dentists at the university.

Two nights before I was supposed to leave, Mom’s husband, my small, but energetic stepfather, Dick, called.  He and Mom had been out dancing and Mom had fallen and broken her hip.  The ambulance had taken them to a well-respected hospital, but the ER was full because of the H1N1 flu epidemic so they had been rerouted to one that was not as well respected. Now, five hours later, Mom was resting in the hospital bed and he finally remembered to call me.  The nurses had brought him a reclining chair and he would sleep there.  I would have to wait until the next morning to visit.  I called my brother who would come after school the next day on the start of his vacation as a teacher on year-round school.

Mom was confused when I visited, but the doctors assured me it was just the pain medicines.  My brother Bill and Dick and I had to take turns visiting her tiny rooms and I was surprised that the surgeon would be doing her hip replacement that night.  When it was my turn to be out in the hall, I watched nurses and physicians in full masks and gloves carefully enter the closed door next to Mom’s room and wondered if they were the same nurses who came to Mom.  When Bill and Dick assured me they could handle everything and I should go to my conference, I rescheduled my motel in Flagstaff and the monastery in Santa Fe for a day later so I could stay until after the surgery.

That night I stood by Mom’s bed with Dick during her preop.  Mom was still fuzzy-headed and proclaimed with delight that the nurses had donned their blue head coverings to celebrate her birthday.  Dick looked tired but laughed and joked with her.  When she was back in her room, I tiptoed out, confident she was in good hands and I looked forward to my drive to New Mexico.

There is something about New Mexico that pulls me.  I was born there and have only been back a few times, yet the dry air, the mesas, red, black, and stark white rocks, juniper, pinon pines and sudden storms welcome me.  There is peace in the deepest blue of the sky. Clouds are whiter, more massive, and more alive than they are anyplace else.  New Mexico is a prehistoric shaman and I must pay homage. New Mexico is Georgia O’Keefe and D.H Lawrence, and my grandfather’s secrets.  In Dulce, New Mexico, my conference over, I met an ancient Jicarilla Apache woman who jumped in my tiny Honda and piloted me on rutted dirt roads to Horse Lake, Apache summer sporting grounds, bald eagles dancing above a lightening-ravaged pine. In New Mexico I was suspended without time.

Until I wasn’t.  My brother Bill called to say my mother had been moved to a convalescent home, that Dick had slept on the floor by her bed, and now he was sick and had to stay away from her. Dick had driven himself to the Emergency room at the hospital closest to their rural cottage on a Monday but had been told he did not have H1N1 and was sent home.

“Did you notify Dick’s family?” I asked

“No, I didn’t think of it.”

“Well, dammit, call them.”

It’s usually Bill who yells out in anger, but being wrenched out of a reverie, I felt an almost physical pain from the wrenching as I filled my car with gas and headed west. I would normally stop to admire the stark beauty of the mystic rock formations along the highway and the plants and animals that share their land, but with my car loaded with chips and drinks from the gas station, I watched for cops and drove as fast as I could.

By the time I got home, Dick had gone to the local family doctor on Wednesday and loaded up on antibiotics, but he was still alone and I knew Bill and I needed to concentrate on Mom who still seemed confused and did not react to the pictures on my laptop of her beloved New Mexico.  I called one of Dick’s sons who promised to come on the weekend, and I surprised myself when I told him he better “get the hell down here, now.”  The next day, Thursday, Dick’s son drove him back to the ER, but he was already shutting down. They kept him alive long enough for us to bring Mom from the nursing home to ICU.  I don’t know if she knew why she was there or if she recognized the person in front of her with tubes sticking out of his body, but we told her to say goodbye and she did.

Dick died two weeks after Mom broke her hip. Dick’s doctor told me later, Dick probably died from H1N1, but the hospitals were trying to keep the numbers low.  His death certificate read, “natural causes.” He was eight years older than I am today.

Covid-19 strikes the oldest the hardest. I sit at home alone, isolated with my dog and remember Dick in the ICU, the tubes, the sounds of a machine breathing for him. I wonder if his death was like waterboard torture.  I don’t know why I didn’t fear H1N1 then, but I fear Covid-19 now.  Perhaps I have become more aware of death as it whispers its coming in my dull ears, hints of its nearness in my blurred vision, my aching hands. Or perhaps I can only acknowledge a certain number of deaths before I can no longer bear its inevitability, its hideous expressions, its finality.  Perhaps I harbor a superstition that if I don’t write, don’t get out what I need to say, I can’t die.

I stay at home, hug the dog, wash my hands and wonder how spring and death can arrive together holding hands.

 

Thursday, April 2, 2020–Day 25 of Hunkering Down

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     After twenty-five days of sheltering at home, I wake as usual, when light crawls in around the draped sliding-glass door.  Half-asleep, I remember the trip to Penny’s, probably thirty years ago, to buy those drapes with my now late husband. I close my eyes and recall the compromise he sold me: by buying a set that included the same pattern on everything, sheets, shams, towels, even a strip of wallpaper along the ceiling, we could conclude the trip quicker and get out of there.  We often conducted these reversed-gender-stereotype trips this way as he loved to shop and I hated it, but it was our new home and we had agreed to make decorating decisions together.
     I doze again briefly until my left hand under the pillow moves in a dream and conducts a scratchy rumble to my good ear I cannot ignore. On the foot of the bed, Tashi sighs.  Sometime during the night, she has joined me and now sleeps upside down, four legs in the air.  One ear pops up as I reach for my cell phone.  As I contemplate my morning ritual, I wonder how I can be so compulsive in some ways and so uncaring in others.  The morning ritual must be completed, but two loads of laundry sit in the baskets below the bed and implore me for days to hang or fold them.  When I can find no other excuse for my inconsistencies, I pull up the old Gemini ruse—compulsive but disorderly, introverted extrovert, the one who loves to garden, write, read, but who never seems to find the time to pull the weeds that grow among the flourishing pea vines, to read the books piled precipitously next to the bed, to observe the admonishment to WRITE DAMMIT on my daily calendar.
     I swipe the Sleep Cycle app up to reveal three faces: sad, neutral, happy, and to my surprise I poke the happy face.  I’ve probably done that five times in the last ten years.  Usually I press neutral with the occasional sad face when I am sick or sick at heart. Now the app demands I press my finger against the camera light as it checks my pulse, around fifty-five, pretty consistent.  I click on the long list of factors that might be relevant to sleep that the app correlates for me.  I’ve indicated most of them last night:  four ounces of wine, my usual herbs, no late events.  I turn to the morning ones: stomach acid, no; night sweats, heart racing and sense of foreboding, yes.  So why did I punch the happy face today—perhaps a happy dream just before I woke up or maybe my view of upside down Tashi as I awoke?
     Next I record the hours slept from my sleep app into the Heart Study app.  I’ve slept more lately, sometimes over nine hours, since I don’t have to go anywhere, but last night I read late after setting and the sleep app is all-knowing so it recorded only seven hours and fifty-six minutes. The Heart Study app wants to know if I did any exercise not recorded by my electronic devices and since I did Zumba on Zoom with my daughter-in-law from her living room with the grandkids delightfully photobombing yesterday, I add forty-five minutes of dance–moderate. (I don’t jump with these bones and hips.)
     Now I turn to the Pulse-Oximeter, also an app, again place my finger over the light on my phone.  It bombs the first time, and I try again. Good, ninety-nine.  It went down to ninety-four earlier in the week until I returned to putting eucalyptus oil in the diffuser.
     I feel guilty keeping Tashi inside so long.  I look over as one eye looks back, her feet come down, she rolls over, another look, turns around three times and sticks her backside toward me.  I notice dog hair collecting on the gold comforter. I guess I need to run it in the washer sanitary cycle, again.  Maybe tomorrow?
     I read poetry and essays from Vox Populi in my email and post them on Facebook.  This morning it appears I am already friends of the poet, so I send her a private message with my appreciation.  The essayist does not appear when I search for her name.  Then I post another poem, this time from Rattle, and delete the one that bores me from Paris Review.
     My bladder is beginning to taunt me, but I check out The Guardian, and post an article on Covid in Italy.  I was there in October, no Covid-19, just sharing sun and cypress and vineyards with my daughter.  I wonder about the woman who taught us to cook in her country garlic-scented kitchen and fed us by the garden with home-grown tomatoes. I worry about the winemakers and olive oil pressers, the folks at the farm with the truffle-sniffing dogs and the huge white dogs that tended the sheep.   My daughter loved those dogs and became almost as upset as if it were her children she must leave behind on those green hills.  I picture the lazy pig who slept under the barbeque and the cellar with cheeses and olives and almost drift off again.
     I return to the phone, delete political ads and emails from organizations I left behind when I retired but am loath to sever that final connection.  Now I check the clock and roll reluctantly out from under the dog-furred comforter.  I run to relieve my bladder as Tashi jumps onto the wood floor.  It’s a high bed and I hear her come down hard, but I haven’t been able to get her to jump out on the other side on the rarely used dog bed or Mom’s small pink Chinese rug.  In the family room, I open Tashi’s doggie door and she slowly walks out, pauses at the top of the stairs as a flash of scarlet and green hummingbird divebombs and chastises her in its loud high voice.  The finches ignore her, the hooded oriole takes off from the jelly feeder. She finally, reluctantly, saunters down the stairs.
     Why do I feel so guilty in the morning, lying in bed with the phone instead of letting her out? If it is raining, she won’t go out at all unless I become Paddington Bear in my London Fog raincoat and hat and walk with her downstairs. Then I stand at the bottom, block the stairs, dripping and cold until I’m sure she has done her business.  I have only to stand aside and she suddenly has the energy of a pup as she darts past me into the doggie door to the hall to dry off on the Tibetan rugs.
     The morning is moving forward and I reduce the Insight Timer app from thirty minutes to ten, sit on the straight backed dining room chair in front of my altar (I gave up sitting cross-legged on a cushion years ago), black pillow in the small of my back, Tibetan wool shawl with the red, not the purple side out, listen to the bell that ends the twenty-second countdown to start.  I breathe in and out and count one in my head, in and out, two… I make it to ten and start over.  I notice my shoulders are tight, relax them, smile, start counting at one because I’ve lost track, mull over some memory fragment, find myself at seventeen in my count and start over at one once more. Shoulders, smile, thoughts, recognize them, let them go, count.
     Deep sonorous electronic singing bowls ring three times to end the session.  I bow to Avalokiteshvara on my altar, the large Triton’s Trumpet seashell, the silver tipped conch, the prayer wheel, unlit incense, Terra, sword-bearing Manjushri, bald, childlike Jizo, rocks and trinkets from my trip to Tibet.
     On my app, meditation friends from all over the world appear.  I’ve met only two in person:  John, the physician from north county whose home used to provide a monthly meditation amid the lemon and orange trees, and a Buddhist monk from South Pasadena who once walked Fiesta Island with Tashi and me when he came to San Diego to visit the Zen Centers.
     Then there is Chuck whose avatar is a picture of him riding a plush pink unicorn in the freezer section of the supermarket.  He has a red beard and I have recently learned he is a contractor in San Diego. He always writes hopefully and poetically when he thanks me for meditating with him and I look forward to his upbeat, far-out comments.
      Then there is my friend in Phoenix who quotes Rumi, the guru from Florida, the veterinarian in Northern California with the blind dog.  They are why I keep going back to meditation even when the flesh and spirit are weak.
      After meditation, I make my morning sludge with various non-psychedelic mushrooms, herbs, cocoa powder, turmeric, pepper, ginger, cinnamon, honey, hot water.  The cocoa covers all of the taste and sometimes I add coconut milk.   A few days ago I finally scored eggs from my CSA delivery just before I ran out, so I crack two into the pan. They are so small I wonder if they are from Banty chickens.  The first day I opened the cartoon, two days after they were delivered, one egg was missing, perhaps related to the smashed shell and yolk on my porch.  I had looked up in the eaves several times trying to find the nest that had suffered such a casualty.  The missing egg caused me to look through the other three dozen where I located three cracked ones and ground them down the garbage disposal.  I’m not taking chances when food poisoning could take me to the Covid-packed ER.
     I walk outside to take a picture of the Monarch chrysalis in my aeonium.  It is still St. Patrick green, but it has been longer than ten days and I wonder if the rain and cold weather are holding it back.  The longer it stays there, close to the ground, the greater chance another two, four, six, or eight-legged beast might find it.
     As I take vitamins and sip my sludge, Tashi announces a delivery truck. I instruct the unmasked driver to place the packages on the step, wait until he leaves, spray them with my only can of Lysol, coat my hands with sanitizer to hold the scissors to cut the cardboard, spray the contents, place the boxes outside to the left of the steps, leave the contents inside the doorway with other assorted supplements, gluten-free flours, and some plastic thingamajiggers that are supposed to collect dog hair in the dryer.  Then I will wait a few days before I put them away.
     I fall into Facebook and the day disappears.  After dinner, I pour exactly four ounces of red wine and call a poet friend on Facebook Messenger who pours herself a not-so-measured glass of white.  She shows me the effects button at the bottom of my screen and we end up wearing bunny ears and cool hats or looking like aliens and giggling.  I haven’t done anything so deliciously idiotic for forty-five years and it feels soooooo fine.
     Then the carbon monoxide alert goes off, so I end the call and replace the battery and the alarm goes off again. After I open windows and doors to the cold, I call SDG&E.  The guy on the phone quizzes me excessively on whether I have been sick or exposed to the virus, so I quiz him just as excessively on what his service person will do to protect my health.  He tells me to unlock the door now in case I pass out since they do not want to have to break down my door. The service person arrives quickly in gloves and mask and tells me if I were sick he would have to be accompanied by a supervisor with both of them in hazmat suits.  I stifle any coughs from my allergies as he checks the fireplace, the stove, the heater, the water heater, the dryer.  Everything is fine and, of course, the carbon monoxide meter stays off.
     After he leaves around 9:30 pm, I am restless, so I spend more time on Facebook and don’t prepare for bed until almost 11:00.  I have just brushed my teeth when Tashi barks urgently and the Ring Doorbell and Alexa tell me “there is motion at the front door.”  I peer through the glass by the door and find myself eyeball-to-eyeball with a wild-eyed man, dark full beard, what looks like a headband, a large quilt over his shoulders. When he sees me, he backs off and I notice to my horror, that the door is still unlocked for the SDG&E man.  I lock it quickly and stare out the window again as he makes a big display of looking around. He appears to suddenly see the empty boxes waiting to de-virus in the morning sun, and points to one as if to ask for it.  I nod, he leaves, and I turn off the porch light I had left on earlier.  I check the video on my phone taken by the camera on my Ring Doorbell and relive the moment again. My late-night visitor looks high, but I decide not to call the cops.  Now that my door is locked, I worry about how the cops might handle him. I almost change my mind as he leaves.  When the quilt slips off his shoulders it reveals something long and black (a crowbar? a gun?).
     The next morning, I will send the video to my neighbors who chastise me for not calling the cops. They will find the box from my house discarded two doors down. They won’t understand why I didn’t call the police, so I’ll just say I was too nervous.  Then one of them will send the video to the Neighborhood Watch and tells me to call the cops now.  I do, but am chewed out for calling late since now they can’t do anything.  Later someone writes on the neighborhood watch app that the man’s name is Sean.  Evidently, his parents used to live in the neighborhood but died and he scouts for deliveries and takes items from construction sites.  He’s been arrested several times and is a source of much discussion in our residential, usually-no-homeless-people neighborhood.  I will decide from now on to double check the lock on the door.
     But tonight, it is even later, my restlessness more rampant.  I check Facebook again where someone posts a link to a movie of Poe’s Mask of the Red Death.

I click on it.

 

What I Fear Most

What I fear most
is a lack of collaboration
mind, body,
spirit, if it exists,
bowing out at different times

Dad did it right
sang to me
the day before he died
mind still clear
walked and talked
and only lay down
to give us a heads up
it was time to say
so long

I fear being unable to
walk or talk
when my mind is sharp
unable to say,
I love you
Take care of each other
Feed the dog
Think I’ll die now

Or worse
fogged forgetfulness
to grieve my missing mind
not knowing if the person who says
“I love you, Mom,” is really my child
or an imposter
To strike out in anger and frustration
at visitors who don’t want to be there
or the caregiver who changes my diaper

I fear wanting to die and being kept alive
I fear lingering until friends and family
hate themselves for contemplating murder
I fear there will be no compassionate partner
to pull the plug

What I fear most
is a lack of collaboration.

 

First published in Chachalaca Review

 

He Called Them Animals

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Black dog
wiggles her feet in the air
snuggles her nose
against my naked arm
soft animal with kind brown eyes

Halloween hued butterflies
whirl and rise
animals whose beauty
enchants my eyes

His obscene mouth
calls humans animals
belittles both
provides permission
for the mean kick
permission to regard

person as pest

alien

other

black

brown

immigrant

woman

trans

Palestinian

Jew

 

me

you

 

Published in San Diego Poetry Annual 2018-19

 

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5/16/19 Haiku

We wait for the rain

Sit on the edge of the now

Shoes sit by the door

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4/21/19 (Easter) Bombings in Sri Lanka

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Cold and blustery
Across world, death in churches
Our Mother Earth grieves

Yet in this morning
The hummer sips her nectar
Flowers bloom their hope

Those Awful Pink Dresses in the 50s (Am I Blue?)

(Image: Louisiana Zombie Afternoon, by Jenn Zed (UK) 2018)

Pistol packin’ mama
smoking’ dad
dressed you in pink taffeta
confined
behind
glass
trite knickknack
in their curio cabinet
don’t be like us
be pure, be pink, be perfect

When life’s earthquake
breaks you apart
but all you knew
becomes the glue
who ya gonna emulate,
learn to hate?
It’s too late
fated
to be
what they created
don’t be upset, statuette
Am I blue?
you’d be, too.

Accepted and posted On Line by Ekphrastic Review

#OctPoWriMo 2018 Day 31–Endless?

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My altar: Eclectic is my middle name. Karma? Heaven? Nothing? Remembrance for a short time?

 

Endless?

All that stands beneath the sky

will someday wither, fade, and die

so let us hold this life so dear

and seek adventure without fear

love and laugh and banish sorrow

it all will be a dream tomorrow

Although I know they’ll come an end

to your life, and mine, my friend

perhaps a bit of my bad rhyme

will be remembered over time

or cause a thought to rise again

from some young wiser poet’s pen

Prompt: Endless

#OctPoWriMo 2018 Day 30–Dancing on the Moon

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Dancing on the Moon

Do you see me
dancing on the moon?
That slight young girl
long hair whirling
lithe body, leaping, turning
full of mysterious magic
for a brief moment
sure of herself in the world?

See the deep blue night
that empty beach
iridescent waves?

She sings Mr. Tambourine Man
reaches to touch the diamond sky
bare feet
circus sand
life’s swirling ship
not yet tested by storms

Do you see me?

Not these wrinkled
knobby hands, aching bones
Not the crone of the broken mirror
of the unsure step

Do you see me
Dancing on the moon?

 

Prompt: Dancing on the Moon