Saturday, May 13, 2017

Joan Casey: Some Wonderful Reflections

The Whatcom Land Trust has been a favorite activity for Joan Casey for years. Recently, they have helped me find the Jade Stone (Olivine) Bench, obtain permission to place it at the Pt. Whitehorn Marine Reserve, and installed it.

Here's two photos I took today from Point Whitehorn Park, at the end just before the walk down to the beach.
Pt. Whitehorn Marine Reserve
Joan's Bench at Point Whitehorn
Inscription etched into left side:

So beautiful...
Joan Casey

View from Joan's Bench - The Salish Sea
-------The following was written a few days ago early in the morning with a mystical scene capturing my attention----

The predawn stillness is reverential in nature, with the almost full moon setting slowly in the west. 

A mist layer permeates the sky above bay and isles, both near and far.

Soon it will be gone...

Beautiful in every aspect except one; impermanence.

Ah, impermanence, an elegant cruelty; but don’t worry there will be another moment, then another; every one impermanent in their very uniqueness!

This reverie reminds of my first glimpse at one, Miss Joan Casey, arriving breathlessly at a carpool across a crowded parking lot.

That’s not as romantic as across a crowded room, but it will have to do.

Her main expression, observable at a distance, was one of pure exhilaration at being at that place and time, anticipating a wonderful walk in nature with friends.

What a very apparent joy she must have felt to elicit that aura of lightness of spirit!

Anyway, it certainly caught my eye and became the beginning of the long journey we happily took together.

Now, Joan isn’t physically around any more, but her presence remains, not so much as a protest to the whole idea of impermanence, but the expectation of ever-appearing new experiences.

As our love grew over the miles we hiked, there was always room for another adventure, then another, and another.

And, you know what; it’s still happening!!

That was how Joan was, constantly on the lookout for another wonderful experience! 

And you know, that kind of wonderful expectation was bound to succeed, as it did, over and over again.

Now on the eve of what might have been Joan’s 76th birthday, I am again experiencing great joy in having known her and recalling that moment.

The memories we shared do have a way of sticking with you…
One such memory comes to mind of the time we walked the 95-mile West Highland Way in Scotland;

I made up a silly marching song as we walked along in misty cold, seeking to raise spirits, which it did.

It went like this, to the tune of “Oh Britannia”:

Oh, the Deebit, 
The Deebit walks with me
Oh, the little Deebit walks with me.

Oh, the Lambit,
The Lambit is so fine,
Oh, the little Lambit’s love is mine.

Oh, the Joanie,
The Joanie is my wife.
Oh, the little Joanie lights my life.

Note: since Joan had 2 dimples when she smiled, I called them Deebit and Lambit

Now that’s written, as the sun is rising….

The duty crow has already begun its futile dive-bombing attempts at making the gulls leave his roof.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Phase 2: A Love Story That Will Never End

Today I cried, but only after reflecting again upon the most wonderful experience in my life, 32+ years with Joan Casey.

I’d like to think that these were tears of joy, but they were also mixed with tears of sadness and loss.

How could they not be so?
I am after all, human.
Sometimes very human.
One day I will perhaps become less human, but until that time, why not cry when I feel the need?
Little boys are taught not to cry, but I haven’t learned that very well.
Now that I’m an old guy, who cares? 

I cried today after another insightful reflection, about who Joan & I were and what made us so attracted and devoted to each other.

Both of us had relatively comfortable lives and fairly strict upbringing, which proved to be both blessing and curse.
Blessing, because we were healthy, obtained good educations, had solid values and were good with other people.
Curse, because we almost expected life to be on cruise control, that all we ever needed would be provided, that troubles and misfortunes were for other people.
How wrong we were!

While neither us suffered from real hardship or deprivation, we did have individual challenges that involved issues like trust, acceptance of the lives we had, and issues of what constituted love.
I suspect anyone would experience such confrontations in life, but only some might have them be a cause of despair and deep questioning of beliefs and faith. 

Each, in our way, had experienced the urge to do something different, live in another place, enjoy adventure and the companionship and love everyone wants.
And, each in our own way, dealt with these desires only after suffering some real ruts and bumps in the road of life.
Time does heal wounds, but lessons to be learned also require time to digest and figure out how to use.

Both Joan and I had reached similar places in our lives, when we were open to interaction and change of the most profound kind.
We were fortunate to meet under circumstances so conducive to friendship.
We had each gone through disappointing relationships that soured our appetites for more of the same.
Something we had lacked was the main culprit, although unsaid at the time.

Nevertheless, we were ripe for a positive change, and when we met a mutual attraction was triggered, slow at first but maturing quickly into real love - and healthy respect from where we had been.
About 2 months later, we were writing each other love letters, a really old-fashioned thing to do!
But, we were both somewhat old-fashioned and didn’t care about much except getting to know each other better; something we never ceased to do.

Being bruised and cautious does slow down relationships, but ours progressed steadily. Nine months later, Joan invited me to live in her house; something I did willingly, to be closer to her more often.
Soon after, I asked her to marry me.
She didn’t say no, but did want more time to consider the proposal.
We continued to enjoy all sorts of outdoor activities and learning experiences.

Five years later, we were still considering my proposal when a job opportunity came, requiring a move to Bellingham.
Joan could see the opportunity was a good one, and we agreed to go together - after getting married!
Wow, Joan’s first marriage at age 49 was such a joyous occasion I couldn’t believe it!
We moved and bought her dream house together, where we lived for 26 happy years, while again enjoying all kinds of activities, friends and memories. 

After such an extended time of happiness, Joan died, unexpectedly on our way home from San Francisco, where she had just completed the renovation of her ‘little old lady’ home. What a shock!
She was in hospital in Redding, CA for 3 weeks before she passed from this life.
We alternately felt encouraged at her recovery prospects and saddened by her serious condition, which prevented her from being moved.

Although we had discussed end-of-life issues, neither of us was ready for what happened - me least of all.
The day before Joan passed was awful, except one Vajra Sister, Nora, was there to comfort her and assist with the Buddhist practices for which Joan strongly wished.
Even though she was minimally conscious, I remained hopeful that a miracle would manifest and make Joan well again. 

At her bedside, I held her hand; something we often did.
Then, late at night, I went to rest.
At 4 AM, the phone rang and the nurse said I ought to come to Joan’s side; her vital signs were dropping and were was little hope she might improve.
I was there in minutes, holding her hand, lightly rubbing her head and whispering sweet nothings meant to comfort her.
I believe this reached her consciousness, before I gave the signal to stop the intubation on the nurses advice. 

Joan descended peacefully, with very little physical movement, then slowly a peaceful smile appeared on her face.
I will never forget that moment, torn between grief and prayers for her joyful passage into the bardo of dying.
Then, very quickly, it was over.

Almost automatically, I sprang into action; so many things to do and attend to - it was almost overwhelming!
But, I needed to do it, to honor Joan, to set the necessary legalities in motion.
So much to do, so little time.
Then, it occurred to me this was a metaphor to life; our rushing around was always to meet some deadline - real or imagined. 

That is when I calmed down enough to truly honor Joan, her delightful spirit, always good aspirations, and wonderful smile, all stamped indelibly in my consciousness.

I am so thankful for the inspiration Missus Joan gave me, to go on strongly and determinedly, to do all the good I can - and no harm!
That has kept me going so far, and perhaps much longer than I expected. 

But, today I am writing this in preparation to posting it at 9 AM tomorrow, to mark the first anniversary of my Dear Joan’s passing.
May her spirit endure forever!
I love her still…and always will…

Monday, February 20, 2017

WYSIWYG: tRump Revealed

After weeks of misery, shock & awe at facing the sorry reality of our latest Presidential Election, I at last found -at the bottom of my glass- a very toxic revelation. Empty. 
So, I had another in hopes that my mood might brighten right here, right now, in my own private Institute for Institute for Attitudinal Adjustment. That didn’t work either.

So, after a wee nap, I awoke with the ANSWER! Nothing weird like a vision, but simply cold, hard facts -not of the Alternate Variety. 
What You See Is What You Get
That’s right, WYSIWYG. So clear, so simple, it clears up everything! What took me so long? 

Hell, what took everyone so long! Even those stupids who voted for this 't'-creature, and those who didn’t vote at all, and those thought their vote was worth wasting by voting for someone NOT HILLARY. 
I’d better have another drink now, sorry. 
I’ll be quick. 
There, that’s better. 
Others may feel cheated by this short unnecessary delay, but get over it, neither you or I are likely to feel better in the morning…

Anyway, what was revealed to me was this: 
tRump never gave us any good reason to vote for him, except wishful thinking. 
He never spelled out any plan except in the most general, hazy way. 
He refused to answer any normal questions.
Neither the Press, nor his fellow candidates were able to penetrate his deviousness.
He bullied and intimidated his supposedly R competition, until they all dropped out, victims of poll tea-leaves reading, plus an epidemic of weak spines, fear and disgust. 
He still defies releasing something as American as Tax Returns, unlike Warren Buffett, et al. He claims the ‘unfairness’ of his releasing tax information because he is involved in ‘litigation’ 
-Huh? That ought to be a red flag, doncha think? Besides, the man is just plain litigious , with something like 3500 lawsuits reported.

Bottom line is ’t’ ain’t gonna change, unless he’s forced to. 

His colleagues have so far been too chicken to really press the issue, so partisan is their view that they hope he will become the ‘tip of the spear’ for pushing through selective legislation, or repeals thereof, that they want to impose on the rest of us. 

Until it proves too hot for the R’s to handle, they won’t do much about it, except the usual jawboning and posturing so typical of groups who operate as a block, desiring so mightily to stay in power. 

Unless, their rather high tolerance for shame is reached, ’t’ is their man, despite the chaos he causes daily. 

When that trigger point is reached, they will turn on ’t’ with a vengeance, and it won’t be pretty! 

The World will be treated to a spectacle it won’t forget, and hopefully not of the violent type. 

So, its up to you, Congress, to get this right -it’s not a PARTISAN issue!

Question is, what will it take to turn up the heat quickly enough so that the frog knows it’s being boiled?

Likely, that may be the Russian Connection which is NOT going away. 
If that is the trigger that impeaches ’t’, then so be it. 
But please let it happen sooner than later! 

Then, we get to figure out What Mr Pence brings to the Off-White House. 
Plus, all the excitement of finger pointing and scrambling for power seats.

I’ve already seen too much of this movie, which unfortunately, cannot be un-seen! 

So, go ahead little ’t’ and make my day; screw up just enough -but not too much- to flush that throne you’re trying to sit on. 

Go back to where you belong! 

Air Wick, anyone?
Maybe Fabreze…

Saturday, January 14, 2017

A Day to Remember: January 14, 1984

Thirty three years ago today, I met Joan Casey, who became my dear butterfly...
We went on a long hike at Point Reyes National Seashore, and until April 12, 2016, we have hiked many, many miles together!

Despite the sadness of Missus Joan's sudden passing, the joy we shared during our life together certainly outweighs the pain of me missing her physical presence.

I will always have the precious memory of her, her zest for life, and the love we shared.

Here are a few photos that recollect moments our journey together:
Trails & Picnics - 2 Favorites!
Our Camping Home
We never regretted living at 1015 Toledo!
At Ash Lawn - James Monroe's Home (2011)
Joan's iPad, a gift that kept on giving!
UVA President's Home (2011)

Chincoteague Birding
Joan with Bud & Juanita McCormick
J & J - Dingle, Ireland
Joan on Patio @ 291 Surrey
Giddy Gato - Our Wonderful Cat
J&J with John's son Tom, Sister Mary & Richard - Tullahoma, TN
Missus Joan @ Moose Lodge - ca 1998

J&J with Mr Jefferson - 2011

Clowns Lily & Big Red

Hiking at Mt Baker - our backyard!

Joan & John - June 17, 1990

Monday, December 26, 2016

Holiday Doldrums: Integration with Reality

I've been lazing-ass around since returning last Thursday from points South, but I'll get over it soon.
Picked up sniffles and wee cough that are now going away without infecting anybody else, I hope.
Lots of rest, warmth and liquids -all kinds- have helped; now to answer the mail that accumulated will require all the attention that I worked so hard to minimize during my meditative retreat.
Guess that's called 'integration', or applying calm to the material world.

So, if identifying a problem is half of its solution, I should only need a few more lines...
The drive home was longish, but it mostly broke into bite-sized chunks, since I came late to the realization that the journey is just as important as the destination. That's something Joan knew since birth I believe.

Picking up from where I left off in Dec blog; all the visitations planned were enjoyed, plus an additional one! Vitaly Kolesnikov, Irina and their 4 kids were in Sacramento visiting his Pop & Mom, so I went by Tuesday AM for a reunion and the picture below:
Front: Mama Yelena, Papa Fedor, Mr John
Rear: Dina, Leah, Irina, Andre, Vitaly, Tanya
Missing: 16 other children of Papa & Mama K!
After having a great dinner with Tom & Peggy at the historic Jacksonville Inn, near their new home, I drove to Eugene, OR for rest before returning to good 'ole Bham. In-route, I was extraordinarily lucky  in dodging potentially dire storm warnings and pulling into the garage just prior to more snow on Thursday afternoon.

Then, I crashed. I'm still semi-crashed, but satisfied about meeting many friends and getting 'stuff' done. Haven't left the building since arriving, except for rounds of electronic volleys in all directions.
Actually opened the mail, not answered it mind you!
Now, Christmas has passed, along with my son, Tom's, birthday and mine, without watching a single minute of football - or the news. Silence has been golden! I'm thinking I prefer no sound to the types of sounds that now pollute our space.

Silence ought to help me in coming to grips with the so-called 'reality' situations in which we find ourselves these days.
But, so much for ranting about silence; after all, if you rant about it that requires interrupting silence!

My wish is that 2017 is a better year than many of us expect! 
It's just that simple; don't enter a 'reality' you can't deal with in equanimity.

Here's hoping we all experience the type of simple, basic meditation we need, know how to do, and that brings peace to the world as we know it....

Friday, December 16, 2016

Holiday Greetings!

As 2016 draws to a close, many reflections and thoughts arise in a grand mixture of joy, sadness, hope and some concerns. So much has happened, much of it unexpected and troubling, yet my predominant state of mind remains hopeful and at peace. And, that is the way I want it to be until the end comes, whenever it will... I do believe that is what Missus Joan prefers, and so do I.

Since I've begun receiving Christmas letters from friends and family, it must be time to respond in kind, now that over two months have elapsed since my posting which summarized my activities for the 6-months prior period.

At this moment, I am in Joan's house in San Francisco, where our friends Ilya & Rina Kolesnikov and their family have recently moved in at my invitation. Missus Joan's direction was to have them occupy her home as long as they wish. That's happening, despite the fact that Probate and transfer to my name won't happen until early 2017.
The Holiday Season has already been made real in the neighborhood, as evidenced by several dinners with neighbors, colorful lights and decorations and carols being sung - just what Joan would have wanted!

I've been in California since driving down in my new Honda CRV just before Thanksgiving.
Weather has been good except for a few days of needed rain.
My 10-day Retreat with the RIGPA Fellowship in Ventura was wonderful, as I rejoined the study of Buddhist teachings while meeting many old friends.
This has inspired me to continue learning mindfulness, regularly and peacefully.

After the Retreat, I met with my paternal 1st Cousin Robin McCarthy in Woodland Hills for the first time in 64 years! Can you believe it? Of course, I had communicated with her by phone and e-mail, but not in person all that time.
At 17 months younger than me, Robin remains at her professional fighting weight of 92 lbs on a 5' 2.5" frame! BTW, she was a world class ice skater, who with her husband and partner starred in Ice Capades, Holiday on Ice, and various Hollywood productions - a true celebrity.
While her current husband is seriously incapacitated, her main companion is Sunday, a feisty little Rescue dog, part West Highland Terrier, part Poodle, part Chihuahua. What a treat to spend time with Cousin Robin!

While in Southern California, I swung by Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage to meet Joan's Cousin Clifford McCormick and his wife of 68 years, the wonderful Juanita.
They are both 91 and planning next year to move East to be closer to their 7 children + umpteen grand kids.
What great friends they were to Joan; inviting her to family functions, reunions and the like!

Coming back to San Francisco, I was able to take care of business; visit with Lawyer re Probate; visits to the Sausalito Presbyterian Church; minister; friend Paul Meade at VA Hospital; California Alpine Club on Mt Tamalpais; San Francisco Parks Alliance; Fromm Institute of Life-Long Learning at San Francisco University.

Five Memorial Benches were donated in Joan's Memory -count 'em 5- each with a different inscription. Glen Canyon Park [2 blocks from Joan's home], Golden Gate Park [Concert Concourse between DeYoung Museum and CA Academy of Science], CA Alpine Club Lodge [close to Mt Tam], SPC [outside front entrance to Church], Fromm Institute [outside concourse/patio].

These 5 memorial benches will supplement the three I have already donated in Bellingham; Point Whitehorn Overlook above the Beach [Whatcom County Parks]; and 2 for Bellingham Parks & Recreation Dept- [locations to be determined].
Truly, future Missus Joans will find places to sit in many of her favorite places!

This weekend marks both my son's and my birthdays; Tom the 17th; mine the eighteenth.
RIGPA in SF will have a meditation on 12/18, after which I will begin my return to Bellingham, by way of Sacramento, Jacksonville, OR, then on North.
In the Sacramento Area I will visit friends Sherri & Peter Brown, Nancy Carleton -maternal 1st Cousin, and Lynn & Carol Stradley - very good friends since 1970.
Then, to Jacksonville, OR, where good friends Tom Pratum & Peggy Leviton have recently relocated. Thence, to home - Lord willing and the ice permitting!

That's it for now, unless something happens quickly of note.
So, please enjoy this Holy Holiday in safety and Happiness!


Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A Reverse 9/11; 11/9 What we've done to ourselves: A Poisonous Dark Day for America

The cause of human suffering, as explained in Buddhist terms, are greed, anger and ignorance. 
These negative traits and fundamental evils are called the Three Poisons, because they are dangerous toxins in our lives. 
These poisons fill our lives with suffering, and unhappiness.
A cockerel, snake and a pig represent what are often referred to as The Three Poisons
The cockerel is greed, the snake is hatred and the pig is ignorance
I believe this Election was won largely based upon negative emotions, including a large dose of apathy on the part of many who ought to be ashamed they let this happen, and doubly ashamed of letting Trump get away with a campaign based upon ignorance, fear and greed. 

Unfortunately, it may take a long time for America to recover from this gross lack of collective wisdom. But, let's hope we do without bringing on more grief than we -and the world - can handle.

It is well known that emotional appeals have a time advantage over more rational arguments. We can see this demonstrated everyday. Maybe it would be helpful to examine this simple phenomenon from an ancient perspective, including the Greek Philosophers and Buddhist Scholars.

Emotion, in everyday speech, is any relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity and a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.

Destructive emotions and Their Antidotes

Greed/Attachment - Generosity

Anger/Aversion - Compassion

Ignorance - Wisdom

Several years ago, when I was just starting to study Buddhist philosophy, I learned about these negative traits and fundamental evils that are called the three poisons. 

Fortunately, I also learned these also have antidotes; meaning if we are aware of the causes of the Three Poisons, we can counter them with three effective cures, but first, we must become aware!
Sometimes pride and jealousy are added, with pride being a combination of ignorance and attachment, and jealousy a combination of attachment and aggression.

Plutchik's Wheel of EmotionsRobert Plutchik's theory says that the eight basic emotions are:

  • Fear → feeling afraid. Other words are terror (strong fear), shock, phobia
  • Anger → feeling angry. A stronger word for anger is rage.
  • Sadness → feeling sad. Other words are sorrow, grief (a stronger feeling, for example when someone has died) or depression (feeling sad for a long time). Some people think depression is a different emotion.
  • Joy → feeling happy. Other words are happiness, gladness.
  • Disgust → feeling something is wrong or dirty
  • Trust → a positive emotion; admiration is stronger; acceptance is weaker
  • Anticipation → in the sense of looking forward positively to something which is going to happen. Expectation is more neutral.
  • Surprise → how one feels when something unexpected happens
  • Shame, opposite confidence (shame: how one feels about one's past bad actions or thoughts; shamelessness: one does not feel shame, but others think one should.)
  • Kindness (benevolence), opposite cruelty (kindness: when people are good to other people)
  • Pity (when people feel sorry for other people)
  • Indignation (feeling angry because something is not fair, such as undeserved bad fortune)
  • Envy, jealous (pain when people have something that one wishes for oneself)
  • Love, a strong emotion of attachment one feels for someone else. Ranges to family, pets, friends, boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband.
Emotions are what drive us and what drive us astray. You cannot persuade without understanding them well.

This leaves us with four "basic" emotions, according to another study: happy, sad, afraid/surprised, and angry/disgusted. 

It is common to think that emotions interfere with rational thinking. 
Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions. 
Modern dual-systems models of judgment and decision-making are Platonic in the sense that they endorse the antagonism between reason and emotion.

We are persuaded by reason, but we are moved by emotion. Several studies conclude that up to 90 percent of the decisions we make are based on emotion.

Unfortunately, this seems all too true regarding the American public's selection of Trump as the most important elected official in the world!
God help us, and may God save the United States of America from the dangers of hate, greed and ignorance.

That is my fervent wish for us all, and the World....