Meditation Garden — Inspirations

January 7th, 2011

meditation garden from

Because of their abilities to heal, sacred landscapes provide inspiration for the design of gardens in therapeutic health-care environments. Gardens designed for contemplation and healing are likely to be most effective and responsive to the needs of its users when the elements of the sacred landscape are applied. The following design elements constitute such a landscape:

Being of favorable context -
it is sited to take advantage of positive attributes,
and mitigate negative effects
receiving auspicious life-forces
given by the earth, sun and moon;
It is contained – a distinctive form in space,
a distinct space surrounded by form;
It is coherent – clearly defined and ordered
to help things make sense;
It is composed – enabling one to pay attention;
It has clarity – made simple in format
to help develop concentration and insight.
It is an artistic expression of contemplation -
quiet and light inside,
enabling one to listen to the heart sing.

Being of favorable context, the sacred landscape is located in an auspicious setting. It mitigates potentially negative effects, and takes advantage of the environmental attributes of its location, gifts offered by the earth, waters and skies, the sun, moon and stars.

“At a true site…there is a touch of magic and light.
How so, magic?
Here the breath gathers and the essence collects.
Light shines in the middle and magic goes out on all sides.
Try to understand!
It is hard to describe!”

So, I’m thinking of turning an available space in my back yard into a meditation garden… anyone have interesting inspirations, ideas for what should go into a meditation garden space, etc? I’m thinking California natives for the plants, and looking for good ideas for seating, lighting, arranging the space, etc… all thoughts, ideas, comments, photos of nice spaces, etc welcome!

You Learn

December 2nd, 2010

You Learn

You learn.

After a while you learn the subtle difference

between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

and you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning

and company doesn’t mean security.

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts

and presents aren’t promises,

and you begin to accept your defeats

with your head up and your eyes open

with the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,

and you learn to build all your roads on today

because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans

and futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.

After a while you learn

that even sunshine burns if you get too much.

So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,

instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure.

That you really are strong.

And you really do have worth.

And you learn. And learn.

With every good-bye you learn.

- Jorge Luis Borges

via whiskey river.

Hecate: Why I Garden

April 25th, 2010

My new blog will be called, “What Hecate Said.” ;^)


My garden does for me what Ram Dass’ book did for so many of my generation: My garden calls to me to Be Here Now. I can be thinking of work, family issues, politics, the frustrations of Living While Female in the Patriarchy, and then go out to sit with the maple, and the ostrich ferns, and the Japanese Temple Pines and, all of a sudden, a few hours have passed, I’m completely at peace, and I’ve engaged in a spiritual practice as old as womankind. I can go out to weed the herb bed and the containers of mint, and bergamot, and lemon grass, and, somehow, I come away feeling as if I’ve wreaked at least a bit of order (such as it is) in this tiny corner of a universe constantly balancing between mad, creative, chaos and lovely, secure, order. I can walk around and smell the lilacs, the just-about-to-bloom sage, the tarragon (“dragon’s wort” to my witchy mind), and the French thyme, and come inside high as a kite, as mad as any worshiper of Dionysus, intoxicated by the simple over-stimultion of the connection between the cells on the inside of my nose and the neurons in my brain.

And, so, I am a gardener.

May it, if you wish it, be so for you.

via Hecate: Why I Garden.

Digging Deep: Creativity

February 8th, 2010

A lot of us still think that in order to be creative we need to pen a great piece of fiction, compose a symphony, build a skyscraper or design magical gardens. This isn’t true. Creativity is not restricted to being specifically creative in terms of one area of expertise or talent. The ultimate goal is not to be more creative, but to learn how to live creatively. Simply put, it is much less about what you do with your life; rather, it is how you go about doing it.

Living creatively means approaching each moment as a new opportunity. It’s about exploring, trusting your instincts, and owning and expressing your unique style. It means being true to your needs, experimenting, taking risks, staying flexible, and not always having to rush to conclusion. A person living creatively is always pushing towards new growth, as the psychologist Rollo May says, not without fear, but in spite of it.

via Digging Deep: Creativity.


February 5th, 2010

A person with true self-acceptance is “a person with full awareness of self in body, mind and spirit. This person’s center of consciousness (Hsing – “Heart Flower”) is in full bloom, ready to receive power from above, openly relating to and being reflected by others.”

“Find the seed at the bottom of your heart and bring forth a flower.” — Shigenori Kameoka

“To see a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower Hold infinity in the palms of your hand and eternity in an hour.” — William Blake

“Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers, but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms.” — Ikkyu Sojun

“Remember to be gentle with yourself and others. We are all children of chance and none can say why some fields will blossom while others lay brown beneath the August sun. Care for those around you. Look past your differences. Their dreams are no less than yours, their choices no more easily made. And give, give in any way you can, of whatever you possess. To give is to love. To withhold is to wither. Care less for your harvest than for how it is shared and your life will have meaning and your heart will have peace.” — Kent Nerburn

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

“If, instead of a gem, or even a flower, we should cast the gift of a loving thought into the heart of a friend, that would be giving as the angels give” — George MacDonald

Loving thoughts to all today… with thoughts of spring coming soon…

Saying Goodbye to a Tree

January 30th, 2010

This time around, we are the tree-killers. Sadly our big ash got too big and was threatening to take out the entire yard, so we decided it was time to take it out. The tree-trimmer was glad for the work, the woodworkers are glad for the wood, which they pronounced wonderful and promised to make wonderful bowls from, one of which I hope to see in about nine months or so when they wood cures. Others will be glad for the firewood, the garden will be glad for the sunlight.

But, I am sad today, to have to say goodbye to a friend….

Winter Solstice

December 21st, 2009

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”
- Barbara Winkler

“Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
The music of many leaves,
Which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life.”
- Krishnamurti

“Still in bloom–
California flowers dance
to winter song”
- Victor P. Gendrano

Sonnet at the Winter Solstice

This solstice is the return of the light
At which the sun stands still then to decide
That each succeeding day be made more bright
Although it takes until the other one
A moment at a time and day by day
The summer solstice greets winter’s work done
And pauses then to turn the other way

The yin and the yang of the year elide
And I am reminded of you somehow
Written in my heart and the sky above
As both winter and summer solstice now
Become two eyes in the face of my love

Another year the sun has smiled its way
Two eyes in the face of my love dawn day

– Steven Curtis Lance


October 8th, 2009

“If you do not understand my silence, you will not understand my words.”

Lots going on internally, and a new fall garden in the works. Just not a lot of writing going on…

Visit the facebook page for daily idiocies, or the google share page.

Spiraling Up

June 24th, 2009

DNA, Robert Finkbeiner

Three subtle energy currents:
Twin helixes around a jade pillar.
This glowing presence
Is the force of life itself.

Deep in meditation, it is possible to become aware of the life-force itself. You can see it if you learn how to look within. To describe it as electricity, or power, or light, or consciousness is all somewhat correct. But such descriptions are inadequate. You have to see it for yourself. You have to feel it for yourself. You have to know it for yourself.

To be in its presence is like being in front of something primeval, basic, mysterious, shamanistic, and profound. To be in its presence makes all references mute and all senses slack, leaving only deep awe. One is drawn to it in utter fascination. It is the mighty flame to our moth-like consciousness.

This column of energy that coils around itself holds all the stages of our growth. It is our soul; it is the force that animates us and gives us awareness. If you want to engage your life completely, it is essential for you to come to terms with this inner power. Once you harmonize with it you can blend with the dynamics of being human.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

“Oh soul,
you worry too much.
You have seen your own strength.
You have seen your own beauty.
You have seen your golden wings.
Of anything less,
why do you worry?
You are in truth
the soul, of the soul, of the soul.”

Jalal ad-Din Rumi

A helix, sometimes also called a coil, is a curve for which the tangent makes a constant angle with a fixed line. The shortest path between two points on a cylinder (one not directly above the other) is a fractional turn of a helix, as can be seen by cutting the cylinder along one of its sides, flattening it out, and noting that a straight line connecting the points becomes helical upon re-wrapping (Steinhaus 1999, p. 229). It is for this reason that squirrels chasing one another up and around tree trunks follow helical paths. — Eric Weisstein, Mathworld

I think the extraordinary success of the double helix sprang largely from the fact that it’s such a simple geometric shape. The helix struck a responsive chord in so many people because it suggested that the secret of life is something you can look at. Looking at it, you see properties which otherwise would have been totally incoherent if you didn’t have a geometric shape to hang it on. –Benoit Mandlebrot

“What is art,
But life upon the larger scale, the higher,
When, graduating up in a spiral line
Of still expanding and ascending gyres,
It pushes toward the intense significance
Of all things, hungry for the Infinite?
Art’s life, — and where we live, we suffer and toil.”
Elizabeth Barrett Browning

People often talk about their spiritual growth as a spiral. Karen Armstrong’s recent autobiography is called “The Spiral Staircase“. Very few people find their spirituality is a straightforward process, if they are determined to really find something more than what western society gives us as religion, or what Eastern mysticism gives us as chants and mantras.

For me, the spiritual growth has come in strange ways and from strange places, and I think that is how authentic spiritual growth progresses, from within, as we turn through the limits of our own being and try to become more. We find ourselves turning again and again within the limited space of ourselves, and finally realize that there is an enormous amount of space outside of ourselves. We then create mobius strips and Klein bottles, trying to bring this outside space within ourselves, an impossible task at first. We see the beautiful poetry of Rumi as he struggles with spirituality, the magnificent stories and tales of mythology, religion, and literature, all trying to move in these same paths.

And then one day, a small hummingbird sits in front of your nose, flapping its wings, and looks at you curiously, or you gaze into a flower and finally really see it, or someone says something that catches your ear and your mind at just the right moment, or a quiet meditation brings you to the place within yourself that just knows, simply knows, and you smile. You get it. You get that Mona Lisa smile on your face and just — become yourself.

And it happens over and over. We find ourselves, we lose ourselves, we find ourselves again, at another place on the spiral. The helixes divide, and come back together. And life goes on.

Wascally Wabbit!

June 22nd, 2009

There is a bunny in my garden! It is small enough to fit through the 2 by 2 inch grid fence. I’ve chased it out a couple times now but I’m sure it will be back again.

Sigh. Never had bunnies in the yard before. Usually they are afraid of the dogs and the cat, but I guess this one is very brave or very stupid. Well, not stupid enough for me to catch yet…

Summer Solstice

June 21st, 2009

Summer Solstice at the ancient observatory of Stonehenge.

Chinese astronomers determine the summer solstice

Solstice comes from the Latin (sol, sun; sistit, stands). For several days before and after each solstice, the sun appears to stand still in the sky—that is, its noontime elevation does not seem to change.

When the true light appears,
The entire planet turns to face it.

The summer solstice is the time of greatest light. It is a day of enormous power. The whole planet is turned fully to the brilliance of the sun.

This great culmination is not static or permanent. Indeed, solstice as a time of culmination is only a barely perceptible point. The sun appears to stand still. Its diurnal motion seems to nearly cease. Yesterday, it was still reaching this point; tomorrow, it will begin a new phase of its cycle.

Those who follow Tao celebrate this day to remind themselves of the cycles of existence. They remember that all cycles have a left and a right, an up side and a down side, a zenith and a nadir. Today, day far surpasses night, and yet night will gradually begin to reassert itself. All of life is cycles. All of life is balance.

So celebrate, but be not proud. For whenever you celebrate high achievement, the antithesis is also approaching. Likewise, in misfortune, be not sad. For whenever you mourn in grief, the antithesis is also approaching. Those who know how to reach the peak of any cycle and remain glorious are the wisest of all.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

And a Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads. My husband’s present is getting away from us all for the day. Not for good reasons, unfortunately, he’s off to a friend’s brother’s funeral in Phoenix.

I’ve always celebrated the Winter Solstice more than the Summer Solstice — I’m happier for the end of darkness than for the day the light begins to decline again. We haven’t seen that much of the sun here this year, though — even yesterday it was cloudy and barely hit 70. Today the sun is out shining and we’ll maybe see 80. These cool days are getting to me — I need some heat. I’m sure as soon as it does get warm I’ll be complaining about it, though.

But my poor tomatoes are half-shriveled things and the peppers look stunted. They need some light and heat to take off and do well. I’ve planted a few more tomatoes just to replace the ones that have just given up this year. My yellow pear is the only one that is really doing well. So we’ll be buried in yellow pears, at least. I have a couple brandywines that have popped up on their own, and as soon as they get big enough we’ll have a good haul from them.

Jardin du Luxembourg

June 1st, 2009


“Fountain of the Observatory”, also known as the “Fontaine des Quatre-du-Parties-World” or the “Carpeaux Fountain”, for its sculptures by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux . It was installed as part of the development of the Avenue de l’Observatoire by Gabriel Davioud in 1867.

After we got our Berthillon glaces at the lovely little cafe, we walked on up the boulevard towards the Jardin du Luxembourg. The Fountain is the first thing you see as you enter the garden from the south. The sculptures are magnificent, as are so many of the sculptures around the city — one of the things that I found most beautiful in Paris, with so much art everywhere.



In the large garden itself, there are so many people playing, lounging, walking, playing tennis, children on the playground equipment, walking, eating, shooting wedding photos, or riding bikes with dogs in their baskets. We met this ex-pat with his dog “Yoyo’”, I kept calling the dog Toto for obvious reasons.



This was the couple having their wedding photos done. The ex-pat and I and several others were also taking their picture as well as their photographer.


So this was just the start of our first afternoon in Paris — wandering around this beautiful garden, seeing how the real Parisians live their lives and enjoying it the way they do. Paris is full of these wonderful parks, this one being the biggest and one of the most beautiful. There are more Jardin de Luxembourg photos in the gallery pages.


May 16th, 2009

It occurred to me as I read this today that I have actually done all these things… how strange…
although I would also add the affection of dogs, cats and other small creatures into the mix…

“To have laughed often and much;
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children;
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends;
To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others;
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition;
To know that one life has breathed easier because you have lived;
This is to have succeeded.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

via Cabinet of Wonders (love this post today, go read, please!)

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.”
– Albert Einstein

“There is only one success –to be able to spend your life in your own way.”
– Christopher Morley

“You are forgiven for your happiness and your successes only if you generously consent to share them.”
– Albert Camus

“What is success? It is a toy balloon among children armed with pins.” — Gene Fowler

“I dread success. To have succeeded is to have finished one’s business on earth, like the male spider, who is killed by the female the moment he has succeeded in courtship. I like a state of continual becoming, with a goal in front and not behind.” — George Bernard Shaw

“Success has made failures of many men.” — Cindy Adams

“The moral flabbiness born of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That – with the squalid interpretation put on the word success – is our national disease.” — William James

“How can they say my life is not a success? Have I not for more than sixty years got enough to eat and escaped being eaten?” — Logan Smith

Brushfire Season

May 8th, 2009



Sadly, brushfire season begins with a vengeance this year in Santa Barbara. I’ve walked the gorgeous gardens in the Botanical Garden and there are so many beautiful homes around there — this is a sad loss.
With water cuts throughout SoCal this year as well, there’s going to be a lot of dry fuel waiting to go up. It could be a very bad year for brushfires.

Officials at the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden in Mission Canyon had big plans for the century-old Gane House, the Craftsman-style home the garden purchased many years ago. They wanted to seek historic landmark status for the building, which was named after the original family that owned it. It was to be restored and become their administrative center.

Last night flames engulfed the two-story building, leaving little more than three brick chimneys standing.

“Obviously we’re very heartbroken. It’s a large, large loss for us,” said Nancy Johnson, the garden’s vice president of marketing and government relations. “We were hoping to restore it to its grandeur.”

Lost inside were all the gardening tools, horticultural materials, the metal shop that made tags to identify plants, overstock of books published by the garden, and the office contents and computers of the head gardener and facilities maintenance man. Biofuel gardening trucks parked outside also appear to have been destroyed.

The home and garage of Edward L. Schneider, the garden director, also burned to the ground, Johnson said. In addition, they lost a building used to propagate plants and a deck over Mission Creek.

Johnson said firefighters “made a valiant effort to save our other buildings,” including the herbarium, the library and library annex and the rare book room. “They really worked hard yesterday to save those buildings so we’re really appreciative of that.”

She also said the garden was saved by a decision last year to spend between $300,000 and $400,000 on six hydrants. “The firefighters told us that had those hydrants not been installed, they couldn’t have saved the other buildings,” she said.

Part-time crusader

April 21st, 2009

“Sentiment without action…is the ruin of the soul” — Edward Abbey

“Do not burn yourselves out. Be as I am — a reluctant enthusiast, a part-time crusader, a half-hearted fanatic. Save the other half of yourselves and your lives for pleasure and adventure. It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it. While you can. While it’s still here.

So get out there and hunt and fish and mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, encounter the grizz, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for awhile and contemplate the precious stillness, that lovely, mysterious and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies — You will outlive the bastards.” — Edward Abbey

“Nature is self-organizing and resilient but, like any problem solver, needs options — lots and lots of players, from microbes to whales. The more potential options are available, the more likely new relationships can emerge to succeed or men those that have been disrupted and broken, and the more resilient a stressed ecosystem is likely to be.”

“Aldo Leopold…observed that the key to healing broken habitats was to save as many of the parts as possible. The processes that create and shape diversity — fires and floods, for example — are also important. An ecosystem that is shaped by occasional fires must be big enough to replace species that are lost to fires where they occur, or its diversity is vulnerable and temporary, perched on the edge of inevitable decline.” –Chip Ward, “Hope’s Horizon”

Sustainable Urban Landscape Conference

March 13th, 2009

Been at the Sustainable Urban Landscape Conference the last couple of days. Posted lots of links here at Native Growers.

Unfortunately forgot to take my blood pressure medicine this morning, so was really dragging all day and am very tired now…. so not posting much else right now.

Reflecting Seasons

March 4th, 2009


Native plants “spring” to life in early winter during the winter rains, with flowering periods starting at that time and running throughout spring. As things heat up in the summer, some of the local natives, those that are not evergreen, go dormant, which some people consider a disadvantage.

In one sense, this opposition to natives may simply be a matter of personal taste. There are also people for whom the whole process of dormancy can look beautiful. For example, the leaves of the Black Sage (Saliva melifera) begin to brown in June after the plant has finished flowering. Some of the leaves fall off right away, others remain for different lengths of time. This leads to beautiful contrasts between the ones that are still dark green on the top sides, the bottom sides of others that are light green, and those leaves that are turning different shades of brown.

There are also ways in which opposition to dormancy may be more than simply a matter of taste. On a conceptual level, it is strange that so many people are unfamiliar with the idea of summer dormancy, even people who were born and grew up in California. To me, this fact demonstrates the extent to which imported horticultural standards dominate or condition our expectations of what a garden should be, and even of what nature should be. What seems even stranger to me is that in the East the concept of dormancy is accepted, and even appreciated during the winter. However, this tolerance for dormancy was not imported alongside the Eastern lawn-based traditions.

Whatever the cause, we seem to have learned to expect plants and lawns to behave as if we lived in New Hampshire, or Georgia, or as if we were in the tropics and San Diego were a Hawaiian island and not a desert climate. Whatever the causes, to fulfill these expectations and ideals we certainly water the heck out of our yards throughout the summer to attain them.

I suspect that underlying the adoption of these foreign horticultural standards is the sentiment that seasons just get in the way. People want their gardens to reflect a constancy and uniformity that defies nature. Because of the mildness of our climate it has been possible to achieve this ideal, but we are slowly coming to realize the extent of the costs of this sentiment, and that it leads to waste on a very large scale.

Besides the incredible waste of resources, I believe that the most unfortunate result of the horticultural ideal of making our gardens look the same year round is a growing disconnect between people and the nature that surrounds them. It is not hard to see how this disconnect has lead to damaging consequences for the environment.

Were we to learn to value the concept that each region should reflect its own character, there would be less problems with invasives. One step in this process is to plant a native garden. Very simply, by planting natives you decrease the number of invasives that are planted. Hopefully, helping our neighbors become familiar with natives in this way will lead them to do the same, and the use of invasives could really decline.

To me, it is a dynamic prospect that using local natives not only helps conserve resources but can also strengthen the image of San Diego as having its own identity, and that this in turn could help inspire people to preserve the natural environs that we have outside of the garden domain.

Of course, one downside of expressing individuality in this way is that planting a native garden goes against a strong current of traditional horticultural conditioning. That is, going native would seem to put one directly at odds with a blind, powerful force in the world that makes money by perpetrating and maintaining a dead-end horticultural direction.

Fortunately going native is not as scary as this sounds. All the drama one may feel associated with such a change in direction dissipates quite easily from the simple act of placing a young native plant in the earth and watching it grow. How refreshing that such a simple action can undo years of misdirection.

By rights we shouldn’t even be here

March 3rd, 2009

“It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they are. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think Mr. Frodo I do understand, I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding onto something.”

“What are we holding onto Sam?”

“That there’s some good in this world Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

– Sam’s speech at the end of The Two Towers.

If I have even just a little sense,
I will walk on the main road and my only fear will be of straying from it.
Keeping to the main road is easy,
But people love to be sidetracked.

When the court is arrayed in splendor,
The fields are full of weeds,
And the granaries are bare.
Some wear gorgeous clothes,
Carry sharp swords,
And indulge themselves with food and drink;
They have more possessions than they can use.
They are robber barons.
This is certainly not the way of Tao.

Tao Te Ching, 53


The first step for establishing a successful native garden is to get rid of weeds. While this is analogous to traditional gardening practices, it differs in that weeds, or unwanted/ harmful plants, will be defined a bit more broadly than is usual.

The definition of weeds used here will be all plants whose maintenance interferes with maintaining healthy soil conditions for natives. These will include:

a) Plants that require a lot of water and nutrients for quick growth, and thus are very competitive with native plants for these resources,
b) Plants that typically grow fast and that can crowd out the native plants, which take longer to develop,
c) Plants that do not connect or do not contribute to the mycorrhizal grid, and thus compete for resources without giving anything back to the community, and
d) Plants whose maintenance adversely affects the nature of the soil from the point of view of what benefits the fungal network, and thus the plant community in the long run.

Thus, from the standpoint of a native garden, the term weed will not only include traditional weeds, but also annual exotic garden plants, many perennial exotics, and lawns, since the maintenance of these alien species moves the nature of the soil away from supporting the fungal species that natives require. In short, the soil conditions which support imported, water-loving garden plants can inhibit the growth of a mycorrhizal fungal network.

All (repost from 2004)

February 18th, 2009

Jin. All, exhausted, completely, entirely, end. At the bottom of the symbol for all is an elevated dish or vessel. Above it, a hand is shown with a lid to the vessel. Nothing more is to be put in, so the task is complete and at an end.

Always complete your actions.

When you do something, don’t hold back. Shoot it all, go for it all. Don’t wait for “a better time,” because the better times are built on what you do today. Don’t be selfish with your skills, because the skills of tomorrow are built upon the performances of today.

It’s so tempting to say, “I’ll keep it for myself and build it up to something really big later.” Only later never comes. By waiting too long, the end catches up with you. You willl then be covered like the lid in Jin, ans you will never have had a chance to act.

To be with Tao is to live a creative life. To live a creative life always means that you express who you are. And expression is never helped by suppression. Expression always benefits from coming out. Then more inspiration will come from that source.

When you act, act completely. Follow through. Do everything that has to be done. Be like the fire that burns completely clean: only from that pure stage can you then take the next step.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao


One of the things that bothers me the most about my husband is he rarely finishes things. He will do about 90% of the task, then leave the rest. Tihs is far better than when I used to call him “Mr. 80 percent” though. (I was a meaner person then). A lot of the time it is not finishing up or cleaning up or putting tools away. The reason it bothers me is because it is one of the things that bothers me most in myself, of course. I remember to finish fully when I’m aware of it, but when I’m tired or not feeling well I tend to just leave things undone.

My dad always talked about what he would do when he retired — build a workshop and do woodworking and such. Except he never got to retire, he died of cancer before ever getting the chance. My mom used to talk about selling the house and living in a small apartment, maybe in Hawaii, but never did. She passed away in the same house, leaving me all the mess of the house and her papers and finances to clean up, and matters unsettled for my disabled sister and nephew. It’s been a year now and I’m still dealing with this mess of her estate. I’ve pretty much vowed not to do this to my own children.

I think it is hard for people to fully finish things or give their all to a task because they figure there will always be time to do things later. “Never enough time to do it right, always time to do it later” seems to be our motto. No wonder we admire fine craftsmanship so much — as long as others do the hard work.

I see this a lot right now in our disposable culture — people get something cheap because if it doesn’t work or breaks, they can always get another one. There isn’t the appreciation of fine work anymore. I recently spent my time to repaint several plastic chairs (yes, you can get paint for plastic) rather than buy new ones, because I wanted a certain color and I wanted to save the faded, scratched chairs. It would have been easy to just buy new chairs, but they wouldn’t have been the color I wanted and it would have been wasteful.

We value stuff over time, then complain because we spend all our time working to get cheap stuff we don’t even appreciate or enjoy. It seems crazy, but that is what Americans value. And then don’t understand when someone doesn’t want to buy into this culture, doesn’t want the bigger house or fancier car, but perhaps a smaller, more personal house and older car. People admire my garden, but don’t want to take the time to create one of their own. Little do they know it hardly takes any time at all, because they simply don’t want to find out. They don’t want to invest in learning what plants work well in their area and then plant those that take little maintenance, They would rather get what looks pretty now, and then complain about maintaining it later.

I spend a lot of time to do the things I do. It’s just that I look at that time as an investment, to make time for myself later to do other things. Not when I retire, or when I’m older, but when I want to do something else. Or, as W. S. Gilbert said, and the quote on my board here reminds me, “I do nothing in particular, but I do it very well!”

Kale with Garlic and Bacon

January 31st, 2009


Made this for lunch today and it was pretty good — I added some red onions while cooking it, and then some feta cheese after it was cooked, and then it was delicious!

I’m looking for other kale recipes, if you know any, since I have a garden full of it right now. My son tried adding some teriyaki sauce to this, and he liked that. But it was a bit too salty that way, he said.

Gardening in SoCal is weird — we also picked lettuce, chard,  a few grape tomatoes, apples, snow peas, and peppers today. Seasons? We just don’t have them like anywhere else… it’s mostly a mediterranean climate , but with so many climate zones it’s just ridiculous. The Western Garden Book list 24 different zones, and I think I have about 7 or 8 of them just in my little yard.

Kale with Garlic and Bacon

Shredding the kale allows you to cook it for a shorter period of time, so it retains an appealingly bright color and is gentler in flavor than if it had been slow-cooked.

Yield: Makes 8 servings
Active Time: 50 min
Total Time: 1 hr


2 1/2 pounds kale (about 4 bunches), tough stems and center ribs cut off and discarded
10 bacon slices (1/2 pounds), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 cups water


Stack a few kale leaves and roll lengthwise into a cigar shape. Cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide strips with a sharp knife. Repeat with remaining leaves.

Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook garlic in remaining fat over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale (pot will be full) and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Toss with bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Cook bacon in a wide 6- to 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, then transfer with a slotted spoon to paper towels to drain. Pour off and discard all but 3 tablespoons fat from pot, then cook garlic in remaining fat over moderately low heat, stirring, until pale golden, about 30 seconds. Add kale (pot will be full) and cook, turning with tongs, until wilted and bright green, about 1 minute. Add water and simmer, partially covered, until just tender, 6 to 10 minutes. Toss with bacon and salt and pepper to taste.

Cooks’ note:

Large kale leaves are easier to cut in the manner described in this recipe. If all you can find are small leaves, just coarsely chop them.

via Kale with Garlic and Bacon Recipe at