Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Dec 2021

 

Adventure re-defined...

I’m so lucky
To have adventurous friends.
You’ve heard about Susan before.
In addition to travelling the globe,
Trekking to Mt. Everest base camp…
She also takes amazing photographs.

Tim has walked El Camino—twice!
And he even wrote a book about it.
And he also takes wondrous photographs.

Peter's photos of his trip to China
And Kate's photos of her trips to Galapagos
And to Scotland's Isles of Skye and Lewis
Are simply reinforcements to
Their every-day adventures.

This month, let me introduce you
To adventurer Beatriz Yuste,
Proofreader par excellence,
Actress, writer, producer... and serious trekker.

She's hiked the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu 20 times.
That’s her foot atop Angels Landing
In Mt. Zion National Park in Utah.

My own adventures have
Led me to travel about Mexico
Via trains and buses for 6 months...
Up pyramids and along beaches
With a 2-year-old version of Peter in tow…
Then to move to Sydney, Australia
For 4 years… then to Vancouver
And Toronto for the last 45 years.
Not trekking, but Vancouver
Did involve some glorious hiking
And Toronto continues to
Delight with its ever-growing skyline
And green ravines.

My adventures these days
Involve trekking on the sidewalks
Along the edge of Riverdale Park
With the aid of a walker.
My photos are blurry.
Well, my world is blurry…
But I try to make the best use of the blurs.

I hereby announce that I expect
My world to become clearer again
After cataract surgery
The end of February.
I’m in hopes the photos will
Re-discover their clarity, too.

We all are always defining
And re-defining
Our own adventures.
Maybe even putting
Museum-type labels
On them to revisit
Again and again
In photos and in memories.

Our own adventures…
Our own observations…
Are transformed
Into our own museums
By our own acts of will.
I thank Susan and Tim and Beatriz…
Along with the rest of you
For sharing your adventures
With me…
And letting me share
Them with evryone else

....
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Nov 2021

 


Ocean liners all aligned...

Cruise ships all lined up…
Like us, they started waiting
In March of last year.
These liners
All aligned themselves
Off the coast of Barbados.
Holding their breaths
Like the rest of us.
Skeleton crews kept them
Afloat.
Supplies came to them
From Bajans
Via touchless deliveries
Much like my own
Instacart groceries.
Mine, tho, always arrive with
Less fanfare.

I don’t mean
Yelling and screaming,
But I do imagine there was
Some waving and tooting, at least.
Don’t you?

With vaccines
Bajans again welcomed
Tourists to their shores
In June of this year.
I saw one picture
Recently
Of a party
With music and dancing
On the dock
Welcoming passengers alighting
From a new cruise liner.

Made me think
That Cineplex could
Have welcomed me
To the screening of Dune
With some waving and tooting
And dancing.

I’m not complaining,
Mind you.
I’m quietly celebrating
Little normalacies
Almost daily.
Maybe I could be
Dancing more.
Maybe we all could be
Dancing more?
Just to celebrate
That we’re not in line
Everywhere
Anymore.
...
Thank you, Peter, for the image.
I waited for these more hopeful times
To show it off.

...

Have a great Mo/November
And
Be sure to remember
While you're remembering
On the eleventh:
Vonnegut
Et al.
His birthday
And pleas
For humanity.

...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Oct 2021


 

In downtown Toronto
...a high-rise balcony cosmo
......keeps reaching for the sky
.........and for
...the distant autumn sun...
it's last call.
 


Thenk you to Dennis for this image.
His flowers. His balcony. His words.
I need say no more.

...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Sept 2021

 

Sweet harvesting begins...

And what comes next?
My dad and mom and I never liked figs,
But we had a lovely fig tree
In the back yard of our
San Antonio home.
And that tree was a major producer.
We gave our figs to our neighbour…
Then one year Mrs. Cowan
Returned them in the form of
Preserves!
We were instantly hooked…
And from that day, poor Mrs. Cowan’s
Annual supply of figs
Dwindled drastically.

Those memories came flooding back
When I saw this luscious image
From my friend Terri Reid on Vancouver Island,
Where she's a part of the Nanoose Bay Studio Tour.
She says these figs are the Desert King variety.
Now, of course, I’m wondering what variety
Our San Antonio tree was…
Or maybe…
Still is.

Alas,
I don’t have Mrs. Cowan’s recipe,
But Google has provided
A myriad of alternatives.
Along with recipes for DIY Fig Newtons!!!
And Eataly recommends
An apertivo board
With prosciutto, Italian crackers,
And ripe figs.

Of course, you know from last month
This bowl of figs very nicely
Adds my fave accent
To my teal kitchen.
Seems some figs are purple, too.
And as Eugene Delacroix described,
“The sea, a dark greenish blue like a fig.”


Like a fig.

...
If this isn't nice, what is?
              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Friday, July 30, 2021

August 2021

 


Things That Match My Kitchen...

It started with my clothes,
Then branched out into
My graphic designs…
And eventually a room in my house.
I was travelling while
Painters did my bidding.
Peter phoned and raised an alarm,
“Mum they’re painting
Your dining room the colour
Of gel toothpaste!”

I guess it was…
Maybe I should fall
In love with gel toothpaste, too!
Of course, it was just the walls.
Ceiling and woodwork
Remained a pure bright white…
And a row of pre-Ikea
White bookshelves
Spanned the wall
Below the white-framed window.
And the tablecloth
Was was a dusty shade
Of gel toothpaste.

Any art I hung on those walls
Sang in ways I’d never known.
Some call it turquoise…
But I call it Bright Teal.
It sings.
It zings.
It brings it’s song
To whatever hangs on it.

I love it.

I’ve used it for accents
And for great swaths.
I’ve used it with orange.
But mostly I’ve used it
With lime green.
That’s my favourite pairing.
Today in this apartment
I’ve got bright teal
Curtains spanning
Walls of windows
In both living room
And bedroom…
And a row of Ikea Kallax Bookshelves
In now-discontinued deep turquoise
March along one wall…
And my kitchen boasts
Walls and cabinets
In My Bright Teal…
With a backsplash
Of a paler aqua shade
In faux glass tiles.
I have bright teal
Throw pillows…
Balcony table and chairs…
Bedspread…
And even a Yeti tumbler
For my summer iced tea.
+
Kate and David recently
Travelled out west
Where they stayed in LA
Across the street from
This house…
And this car.
Of course she sent the pic.
And of course, I want it
Because it matches my kitchen.



...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

July 2021

 

As above, so below...

In Toronto,
We often just
Finesse Spring altogether
And jump directly
From icy winters
To sweltering summers.
Of course, we have
Smatterings of April showers
And May flowers
And even bright green
June sprouts...
But we can't count on
Anything but
Hope does
Spring eternal.
July, then, brings us
Full-on heat waves
With high temps
And even higher humidity surges.
...
In the Yukon, though,
The seasons seem to look
More like actual
Seasons.
Seasons of our dreams?
...
This month's calendar image
Is courtesy of
My grandson Lucas
Who's spending this summer
In and around Whitehorse.
He's showing us
Seasonal transitioning
Near Carcross...
Originally known as Caribou Crossing.
Ice is melting in waters
That echo clarity of skies
All with back-pinning
Of majestic snow-dipped mountains.
No-o-o-o sweltering!
...
Just visually poetic reminder
Of ancient texts
That teach
Infinite connection
Between heavens
And Earth, herself...
Between aspiration
And mundane...
Between gods
And men.
...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

June 2021

 

Hey! June! Over here...
     on the sunny side of the street!

Let’s say it’s a beautiful sunny day.
You’re walking along the sidewalk
On the shady side of the Danforth.
You walk and you glance
To the other side of the street… where
You see me.
Quelle surprise!
Bette’s tap dancing
On the sunny side of the street!
You shout, “Hey! Bette!”

And in that instant
You call forth all that you know
About me.
You give focus to all that
I know about me…
And to all that we know
About me together!
The word, “Hey!” gets
My attention
And all that I know about
Being Bette
Now focuses on you.
It’s like a reflection
Of my being onto yours.

That’s nice, of course,
Because we’re friends
And when I see your
Smiling face I’m reminded
Of all I know about you.
In that instant, then,
The complete you and
The complete me
Are in absolute harmony.

You decide to come over
To the sunny side
And we hang out with
A nice cup of coffee
At a sidewalk cafe.
Our nice chat
Is underscored by
That same total harmony
That we can see in each other’s eyes…
That we can feel in each other’s hearts…
That we can hear in each other’s souls.

It’s not intense.
It’s like the sun playing
With the clouds...
But always there.
Firm and resolute.

We know this kind of friendship.
We affirm ourselves with these
Interchanges… these exchanges…
These soul gatherings.
...
But what if there were a way
To call out our own
Highest potential for each day?
For each moment?
For each breath?
With the same intensity...
With the same force.

The historical Buddha,
Shakyamuni aka Siddartha,
Almost three thousand years ago,
Taught that those moments
Of compassion and happiness
Live always within every cell
Of every person’s life force.
Yes.
Everybody’s got their own Buddha nature.
He taught about it in his final teaching
Known as the Lotus Sutra.
Everybody’s got a Buddha nature.
It is essential and unequivocal
Compassion and happiness.
Yes.
Everybody’s got IT.

But it wasn’t until 13th Century Japan
That a monk named Nichiren taught
Us how to tap into IT whenever we want.
Nichiren taught us to say, “Hey! Buddha nature!”
Just by saying the name of the Lotus Sutra…
We call forth all that is contained within it
And all the intentions infused within it
So long ago.
And we call it into our lives
Here and now.

In Nichiren’s Japanese,
That name is Myoho Renge Kyo
Then,
Instead of “Hey!”
We announce our vow of intention…
“Namu”
But shortened to “Nam” because
That’s something they do in Japan sometimes.
So, this:
Nam myoho renge kyo.

We chant this daily morning and evening
To polish our own Buddha nature
Like a mirror to reflect
Our best potential self into
Our daily lives
While we’re busy
Living our daily lives.
And reflecting onto the world
Around us.
We change...
So changes the world.

Nichiren also taught us
To recite a small portion
Of the Lotus Sutra each
Morning and evening
To underscore our awareness
And our resolve.
So we chant
Nam myoho renge kyo
And we recite
A little of the Lotus Sutra
Twice each day
In a language we don’t understand
But with an intention we do understand:
To call out...
To activate…
To live
Our highest potential…
Our Buddha nature
In compassion and happiness.
...
I want to thank the Beaches District
Women's Group
Of Soka Gakkai Canada,
For sharing their heartfelt experiences
With practicing Nichiren's Buddhism
At Sunday's gathering.
We don't call IT a belief...
Although, we do learn to believe
And trust.
It's something we do.
We call it a practice.
And we do it twice a day.
Here's what chanting
Sounds like.
If you want to learn more
About SGI, you can start here.
Download the PDFs on that page.
I actually designed the booklet called
Buddhism: A Philosophy for Living
Or
You can always ask me.
I've been changing for over 37 years
And I'm not out of breath yet.

...
If this isn't nice, what is?

              ~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course