Tag Archive | equanimity

Disappointment

This was certainly not a disappointing way to wake up! I was lolling in bed when I saw this enormous white beast gobbling up the mountains at a fast clip. I could hardly jump up quick enough. I’m grateful for the fascinating sight, and all the moisture in the snow-sleet-rain storm that followed this throughout the day. I’ve checked the Cloud Appreciation Society library to try to identify this cloud but can’t quite fit it into any of the categories. They don’t have “Freight Train” listed, nor “Godzilla.”

I picked the sleetiest part of the day to drive the garbage up, but was rewarded with this soft scene on the way back down. Most of the day was not a disappointment. I’m grateful that my appointment in town was today and not tomorrow because at least the roads were warm and wet as I drove to deposit my ballot in the dropbox in one town, and then on to PT in the next town; I’m grateful for the ongoing education I’m getting about cardiopulmonary fitness and how to get there. I found myself in the right place at the right time, and with just the right hankering, to pick up some Thai food from a place that came highly recommended, so I stopped there for the first time. I ordered egg rolls, cheese rolls which I’d never heard of, and Pad Thai. I was surprised to find that this food ranked right up there with the worst Thai food I’ve ever eaten. The egg rolls had hardly any filling, and beneath the crispy exterior were doughy; same with the cheese rolls, though the cheese filling was the tastiest part of the whole meal. The dipping sauce was thin and vaguely fishy tasting. Regarding the Pad Thai, I would think a Mild described as “the least spicy” would at least have some flavor! Any flavor at all! The noodles were tough and chewy, and the toppings included a few pale shreds of something that could have been anything but certainly weren’t bean sprouts, while the quarter teaspoon of chopped peanuts were so finely ground they disappeared. Ah well!

I’m grateful for this disappointment. For one thing, I don’t have to pass the place again with my mouth watering, wondering, wanting to stop but not making time; for another, it proves the mindfulness point that reality is subjective and relational rather than intrinsic to any situation, event, encounter, or food outlet. I’d heard such good things; clearly some people like the food. Maybe it was just a bad day in the kitchen. Maybe the host was annoyed that I asked where the chicken came from and opted for tofu when told it was “just regular chicken, not organic or anything.” Maybe my taste buds and preferences have gotten spoiled after years of cooking gourmet food just the way I like it. I threw in a spoonful of Hoisin sauce to make half the dish palatable, and tossed the other half in the compost. It was worth the price for the lesson.

Chicken Soup

I’m grateful on this cold rainy day for the ingredients and ability to make chicken soup; for the stove and fuel to heat the burner and for the pot; for the fragrance wafting through the house; and for a friend to share the soup with.

Equanimity

I’m grateful for equanimity. I’ll leave it at that today. I feel tired and uninspired after a lovely day, and that’s okay. There’s a lot undone in the kitchen and in the garden, several loads of laundry to put away, paperwork on the desk, tall drying grasses to be mowed, and it’s okay that I spent time today chatting with a couple of friends, reading, and practicing breathing, instead of getting anything else done. This is how it is right now.

I also enjoyed watching Wren watch the Old Doe’s fawn for awhile. The doe had parked her fawn in the tortoise round pen for a nap while she foraged out in the woods. We startled the fawn when we came outside to make a phone call, and it hopped out of the pen and wandered down toward the pond. Awhile later the Old Doe came back in the yard and the fawn joined her as they browsed on the wild butterfly bush. Wren and the fawn watched each other with friendly curiosity–another quality I’m grateful for wherever it shows up.

There’s a great essay in Lion’s Roar by Sharon Salzberg about equanimity, in which she says:

“The kind of balance I’m talking about is not a measurement of how much time you spend doing one thing and then another, trying to create equality between them. Instead, it has to do with having perspective on life, and the effort you’re putting out, and the changes you’re going through. We establish this sense of balance within. It demands of us wisdom, and it gives us a growing sense of peace.”

~ Sharon Salzberg

Erosion

Little erosion…
Medium erosion…
Big erosion…

I’m grateful for erosion. Without it, we wouldn’t have canyons. Imagine that. None of the drama, beauty, adventure; no more of the unique habitats, microclimates, and endemic creatures of canyons… like the adorable canyon wren with its unmistakable song (be sure to click ‘Listen’ in the link). No Grand Canyon, no Black Canyon of the Gunnison (pictured above), none of the other fabulous canyons around the world. Not that I’m a huge fan, and not that it will be feasible for much longer, but no hydropower dams which admittedly provide electricity and irrigation water to a lot of humans… Besides forming landscapes, erosion can also benefit the planet by distributing nutrients…

I realize that I’m in over my head, because as I search the internets for benefits of erosion, I find a 10:1 ratio of articles about “why erosion is bad and benefits of erosion control”: Not many specifics about why it’s good. It depends on your point of view, I guess. For certain, erosion doesn’t play nice with human efforts to control the environment, and the more intensely we have tried to shape the planet to our will, the more we have decided that erosion is a problem to be reckoned with rather than accepting it as a natural force of evolution. So I’m gonna be grateful for it anyway, because of canyons.

A peppertastrophe today as a result of yesterday’s deluge, perhaps. The main trunk of the huge, healthy scorpion pepper broke! None of the peppers have entered their final ripening stage, and they won’t ripen off the plant until a certain trigger point is reached with the perfect combination of daylight and temperature. I’m grateful for equanimity and ingenuity. I was disappointed but shattered as I might have been a few years ago, and immediately set about trying to salvage what I could.
After a few efforts to stabilize the plant in water I was grateful to find the perfect rock to hold it in a bowl. I’ll figure out something more stable and permanent tomorrow if it doesn’t drop dead, and try to limp it along hydroponically for a few more weeks until the peppers start to turn yellow.
And in kitchen successes, yesterday’s dilly beans above, and today’s bread and butter pickles below. I’m grateful for another precious day alive in this beautiful world.

Sleeping Bees

I was grateful this morning to wander the woods without incident with my intrepid little companions. I knew there was a recent lion kill not far from the house. I smelled death after we left the gate, and last night I had seen turkey vultures perched in the trees just beyond. This morning there was another one airing its wings due east of the house.

We finally went in search of it this evening. Just before dusk I realized I hadn’t seen Biko at all yesterday or today, so we had to hunt for him. He was tucked into one of his usual spots under a large rabbitbrush down by the pond, which was a relief. We couldn’t find him last night before lightning and thunder drove us inside. I decided we’d brave the wilds too, just so I’d know if the kill was my old doe, who I haven’t seen for a few days either. It was not, but I’ll spare you the photo. It was a large fawn, maybe one of her twins, maybe someone else’s. But the proximity of death and the lion’s habit of returning to a kill for several days afterward might be deterring the old doe from her daily visits.

I was grateful again today for Marc at Montrose Sewing Machine Repair. He’s been my rock through this Pfaff pedal puzzle for the past few weeks. This guy doesn’t even know me, and he’s gone way out of his way to make sure I’m able to work on my tropical drapes. First, he located what he thought was the right part at an online store. Turns out it wasn’t exactly the right part, and for the past week we’ve been trying to troubleshoot how to solve this dilemma. Hours back and forth texting pictures, videos, part numbers, and suggestions. He has extended himself above and beyond what I can imagine anyone else doing, with patience and good cheer.

Today, after concluding that the correct part is apparently no longer being manufactured, we considered some other options. One of them involved me taking apart the old pedal to see if he could maybe fix that. His reply to the above photo was “Aww man, they hardwired it!” Another option he came up with was to buy an old one on eBay. I’ll muddle along with the wrong plug wedged in until he can get and vet the eBay buy, and then see if I can return the bad part to the online store. If not, I’ll make it work, and Marc will have the right part when the next hapless Pfaff maiden needs one. I’m grateful for the kindness of strangers.

I’m grateful today to see the first paprika pepper turning red; and for another harvest of string beans; and for the tiny purple jigsaw peppers.

I diced one this evening and cooked it in an impromptu eggplant casserole. I roasted thinly sliced eggplants and some garlic cloves in the oven, while sautéing onions, a Blot pepper, and a jigsaw pepper in bacon grease. When the onions were caramelized I added some plain tomato sauce from last year’s pantry stash, and cooked it down until it was a thick, deep red. Then I layered eggplant rounds, sauce, and cheese three times, and topped with cheese and buttery breadcrumbs before baking for 25 minutes. Grateful for this Amy-inspired creation. It was delicious!

I was grateful at twilight to spy this adorable bed of sleeping bees. There’s a native species specific to sunflowers, genus Svastra. I’ve photographed one or two at a time in daylight foraging on the native sunflowers, but this surprised me as I returned from the compost bin and noticed a strange texture at the bottom of the center disk. Closer inspection revealed this delightful “bee snuggle.” And now I’m going to take my own little busy bee up to bed and go to sleep, for which I’m also very grateful.

Opportunity

I had several opportunities today to be my best self. I took them all, gratefully! Living in solitude, I don’t get a chance every day to do something kind or helpful for someone else. So much of my mindfulness is all in my head. But today was a day full of happy, healthy connections. One of these was a Bonus Boyz Lunch. Yesterday’s savory squash blossoms cooked pretty well: I let them thaw for about an hour, but think it would have been better to fry them straight out of the freezer. I stuffed today’s blossoms with a surprise sweet mix: ricotta, confectioner sugar, and chopped basil. They complimented each other on the plate.

A cheese, bean, and chicken burrito anchored the lunch, with guacamole, salsa, and sour cream; squash blossoms; and beans sautéed with generous sprinklings of two Penzeys spice blends. We didn’t really need dessert, but I tried to make ‘dalgona,’ a whipped coffee that should have turned out like a pudding. It failed miserably, so I poured some into bowls and topped with chocolate ice cream, and they were happy. We were all happy. It was another opportunity, for equanimity, for making the best of a bad situation.

As I write, there is a grasshopper crawling around on the orchid in front of me. She’s a female ready to lay eggs. I just can’t bring myself to kill her, or throw her to Wren, nor can I toss her outside where I’m sure she’ll spawn dozens more. Without the Phoebe families of the past few years, the garden is dangerously deep in grasshoppers. I’ve noticed a dearth of birds of all kinds in recent weeks, and I’m not the only one in the area bemoaning the uncanny silence. Where have all the birds gone? Higher ground? When I use the new Sound ID feature of the wonderful Merlin Bird ID app, I record more overhead jets than bird calls. Mostly I’ve recorded magpies, jays, and the two common hummingbird species. I’m grateful for the opportunity this app gives me to identify and log birds in my pocket computer, and for the few new birds I’ve heard, including the Ash-throated Flycatcher, and the Western Wood Peewee.

Finding Lost Things

The flip side of the medallion has the same bear claw design with a pink stone as the earring on the right. I wore this set a lot before I lost the special hooks. Coming across them the other day brought back warm memories of my mother, and I wanted to wear them again. I’m grateful for the memories that reside in material things.

I’m grateful today for one of those precious moments of finding lost things. I have these silver earrings that my mother bought me many years ago when we went to Canyon de Chelly. I chose them, along with a medallion, from a gorgeous selection offered by the Navajo artist on site. They’re reversible. I hadn’t worn them for a long time because I lost the special hooks that allowed easy (and secure) flipping. I put them away for years, but came across the box the other day and realized I could just put them on regular hooks and not reverse them. But I tried to be clever, and leave a little gap in the bottom loop, so I could flip them without needing pliers to open the loop. Within a few hours I had lost one. I’d been outside watering, folding laundry, in the bathroom cleaning, in the kitchen doing dishes, gardening… and glanced in the mirror as I washed my hands… I was grateful for equanimity.

This is why we can’t have nice things, I thought with a sad chuckle. I remained calm, and considered the most likely scenario where my ear could have gotten jostled enough to knock the ornament off the loop: When Wren leapt up in my lap and nuzzled my ears, as she does a dozen times a day. I carefully pulled the blanket off the recliner seat and shook it, then I bent to reach along the cushion, when my eye caught a glint in the seat back. There was the lost jewel wedged between the head and the back cushions! A lucky find.

Just for fun I made the mythical $250 cookie recipe again, this time with all the right ingredients. Grating a four ounce Hershey bar on a microplane was the most tedious part. Otherwise it’s a pretty straightforward chocolate chip cookie recipe. I sprinkled in a little cinnamon for good measure, and pulled out the Demerara sugar to press some into the tops before baking; but then I remembered Amy’s tip, and used flaky sea salt instead, dipping my fingers first into a small bowl of salt then pressing the cookies lightly to flatten a bit.

I was grateful I had one cup of coffee left to enjoy when the cookies came out of the oven. I gave most of them away today, but have some dough leftover to bake another batch for lunch tomorrow.

That apricot harvest? The whole single bowl full, minus the four or five that I ate… I turned it into a single pint of jam this afternoon. Not enough to even bother canning, but it should last into winter in the fridge if I indulge sparingly. It really puts things in perspective: there have been years that I’ve canned two dozen half pints, plenty to last me all year and give a bunch as Christmas presents. There were so many blossoms on the tree this spring, but three hard freezes in a row decimated the harvest. I’m grateful that the professional orchards didn’t get hit so hard.

Little dog napping on clean sheets before I had a chance to fold them.

Equanimity

I’m grateful for this embodied example of equanimity, my old scarred doe. She’s been browsing in my yarden for a month, and this is at least the fourth summer she’s done so. She has a fawn somewhere (or two). She is comfortable enough with me and the pets to lie down and rest inside the fence. She watched calmly as I turned on the outdoor spigot, and was still there an hour later when I turned it off. She is okay with what is.
I’m grateful for this slim apricot harvest, all I’m likely to get this year. There were twice as many on the tree, but when they finally looked ripe enough to pick (and they’re still not quite ripe) I was too late: at least this many more have already been pecked by birds or gnawed by someone else. I’ll leave those on the tree, and as they fall off the old doe or Biko will enjoy what’s left of them. Equanimity also means recognizing that all lives have equal value, and sharing garden bounty with an open heart.

I finally had the energy this afternoon to tackle a sewing project. I went upstairs to choose among several I’ve had lined up for years, and decided the best and easiest would be to make curtains out of this ancient dress. I’ve had it since 1979, and it was almost a hundred years old when I got it, pulled from a trunk of treasures that was left to my grandmother by a friend who died. I wore the dress once to a costume party in college, and never could bear to part with it, thinking (once I accepted that I’d never fit into it again) that one day I’d make the antique fabric into a modern dress. Recently, though, I decided to reverse Scarlett’s strategy and turn the gown into drapes. There are a few small tears in both layers of fabric, it is so old it’s quite friable. Thrilled with my resolve and motivation, I took the dress apart and cut the skirt into two pieces, lining and all, which was just enough to make curtains for two east and west windows upstairs. This heatwave has me wanting to cover all the windows during the day.

I had never noticed the interior bodice ribbon with the name and address on it. A quick online search revealed that there is still a high end clothier called Frame with stores from LA to Aspen to London, and of course in New York. The address 391 5th Avenue appears to be a real estate office now. Frame clothing today includes a lot of ripped denim garments selling for hundreds of dollars. I’m eager to trace the history and discover if it’s a straight line from this 1880-1890s gown to the current couture.

I pulled out my Pfaff sewing machine that I haven’t used in four years, dusted it off, set it up, plugged it in, turned it on, and… nothing. Thwarted! After a couple of hours of patient troubleshooting and a few phone calls, first to my sewing guru and then to her sewing guru, and then to Montrose Sewing Machine Repair in Montrose, Marc and I concluded that the problem must be the foot pedal.

“Could it have been dropped sometime?” he asked. Duh. Dropped, smushed, anything’s possible, and also jammed into a basket in a plastic bag–who could have guessed it was so fragile? He very kindly located a replacement pedal for me online, and even though it cost as much as my baguette baker, it was still far less expensive than a new machine, so I ordered it. I have many draperies to complete this summer! And perhaps a few dresses, as well. I’m grateful for the one friend and two strangers who generously offered advice, reminding me that I am not self-sufficient and am indeed interdependent with and dependent upon others. I’m grateful to have developed the mindfulness skill of Equanimity so that I could accept this situation without frustration and aggravation, gracefully relinquish attachment to making curtains today, wait patiently for the new pedal to arrive next week, and turn my attention to other things.

Another Whole Day

I’m grateful to have been mindful of and attentive to another whole day, sunup to sundown and beyond.

I’m grateful to Sandra for being curious about my dream, and spurring me to analyze it a little more rather than just forget it. The live mammals that so horrified me were a rare (imaginary) catlike species from Africa who had been caught by a local hunter I know; they were essentially skinned white, their flattened heads and strongly slanted eyes even more noticeable without their fur. This speaks to me of a couple of undercurrent sorrows I hold at bay most of the time with gratitude for the moments in this precious life, since there’s not much else I can do. (Don’t misinterpret: I do what I can, but it’s not much.) Honoring our pain for the world means recognizing this Sixth Extinction we are in the midst of, as a headline today highlights; and also holding awareness that as we exploit species for food or whatever else our greed desires, we will continue to unleash more and more spillover infections like the current pandemic.

Meanwhile, on the home front, there is so much to be grateful for. I woke up alive, for one thing. The house had cooled overnight and I shut all the windows to keep the cool in all day as the temperature rose to 95℉ outside. I’m grateful for a meaningful meeting with graduates of the Mindfulness Foundations Course that I’ve been teaching, and for right livelihood. I’m grateful there’s water for the peach tree. And for me. I’m grateful for bright spots in the kitchen like this new little pot for a single serving of soup, or for melting butter; grateful for popcorn. And for a frozen banana bread scone which heated up beautifully in just ten minutes in the oven this morning…

…and grateful for the perfect scone-sized plate which I chose because it makes me so happy, no matter what I serve on it, to get to the bottom and see the little wedge of Brie. Who designed this plate, and why? What possessed anyone to think that this simple illustration would sell a plate? But it did, to Amy, for me, and it delighted me when I opened the gift, and delights me to this day years later, just to see that little brie and think of Amy, and of all the evenings over five decades when we sat together once in a blue moon eating Brie and bread. I’m grateful for this simple symbol of friendship so loaded with meaning, especially when it’s empty.

I’m grateful for a simple dinner salad, and once again grateful for Janis who taught me thirty years ago to throw anything and everything into a salad; grateful a conversation with her this evening prompted me to scavenge in the fridge for what I could add to some lettuce and dressing to make an interesting meal: cashews, broccoli, leftover beans, carrots, feta, leftover chopped pecans…
Grateful for the fragrance of new mown hay, even though it makes me sneeze, and for gorgeous clouds.

And I’m grateful there wasn’t more fallout from an intimate predator/prey interaction this evening, right after the hour I spent practicing patience and equanimity on tech support, and before our soothing walk to watch the sun set. Wren was minding her own business, nosing about in a flower bed, when Topaz got up and stalked her. How cute, I thought, she finally wants to play. She lunged, Wren ran, she lunged again, Wren ran farther, and then Topaz went after her in earnest. It looked a lot like this. Or this. But really more like the first one: she grabbed Wren’s flanks just like a lion would, and left a hole on each hip before I broke it up. There was hissing, screaming, growling. It’s not like dogs, I think, where you let them sort it out a bit and only break it up if you need to. Wren was outmatched in terms of weapons, or might have killed Topaz if she’d really fought back. I wasn’t willing to risk it. So…maybe they won’t end up cuddling in front of the woodstove this winter. But there’s still time! Hope springs eternal. I’ll get a squirt bottle loaded just in case.