Category Archives: Family

A Fowl Uplift

For the past several months life has felt drab, dull, uninspired . . . honestly just not very fun.  Today, unexpectedly, my spirits have been slightly lifted albeit from a rather humble  meeting with . . . chickens.  The living, clucking, pecking kind that offer eggs in exchange for food scraps (now there’s a good a deal).

Pedaling our bikes to a community supported urban-farming venture in our Sellwood neighborhood Alistair and I met  farm manager Nikki.  As we were nearing the end of our riverhouse tour and preparing to mount our bikes I stopped to admire Buffy and her girlfriend; two beautiful full grown fowl. “Ever since I was a little girl I’ve always wanted to raise chickens” I sighed and Nikki smiled . . . you just never now when you’re going to meet a kindred spirit.

We decided to buy a half share membership with riverhouse farm, exchange mutually supportive expertise’s and hand raise four baby chicks for three months, just old enough to live on the farm. I just got a whole lot more popular with my grandkids.

With the promise of fresh produce in the belly and warm-fuzzies in the hand, whose spirit wouldn’t rise?

Good thing she doesn’t raise goats.

Western Resolution meets Eastern Resolve

Resolve, according to Mirriam Webster is an act of determination; synonym is courage.
Courage: from Anglo-French curage, from coer heart, from Latin cormore at Heart: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Heart: the emotional or moral as distinguished from the intellectual nature: as
a: Generous disposition: Compassion (a leader with heart)
b: Love, Affection (won her heart)
c: Courage, Ardor (never lost heart).

As I listen to friends and family making their New-Years Resolutions I’m encouraged to re-establish my own (and much in process) resolve. Like Calvin to Hobbes I’ve found help from wiser folks than myself. Ahhhh the web, how do I thank thee?

Resolve or Determination as a Western habit is most often emphasized during the season of the New Year . . . speaking from my own experience, my Western mind-set can barely manage even this much frequency. Ah but take heart,  is also one of the Ten Perfections listed in the Pali Canon, the scriptures of the Theravadin teachings. In the Pali language the perfection of resolve/determination is “Adhitthana Parami”.

Ajahn Sucitto and Ajahn Thanissaro both offer guidance when exploring or undertaking these virtues. They describe in detail how Adhitthana is nurtured and applied. Given that a study shows a pathetic 12% likelihood of success rate for new resolutions to last even one year, it seems most of us could use a bit of help from our friends . . . might as well listen to some wise ones.

Ajahn Sucitto’s mp3 Dhamma talk “Adhitthana Parami

Ajahn Thanisarro’s study guide on “The Ten Perfections

Cheers to keeping your New or Old resolutions! And just for fun, here’s a hint to my re-Newed Years resolution: (not a pretty picture but certainly familiar.


Click here to enlarge Comic Strip

Dancing with the Tyrant

“It was Christmas and the foreign monks had decided to celebrate it. They invited some laypeople as well as Ajahn Chah to join them. The laypeople were generally upset and skeptical. Why, they asked, were Buddhists celebrating Christmas? Ajahn Chah then gave a talk on religion in which he said, “As far as I understand, Christianity teaches people to do good and avoid evil, just as Buddhism does, so what is the problem? However, if people are upset by the idea of celebrating Christmas, that can be easily remedied. We won’t call it Christmas. Let’s call it ‘Christ-Buddhamas’. Anything that inspires us to see what is true and do what is good is proper practice. You may call it any name you like.”

My husband Alistair and I were meant to fly out of Portland today, heading to his family’s home in the highlands of Scotland. Like thousands of other Holiday travelers we fell victim to the “Snow Storm of the Century” (which by the way is the second one this decade). So we spent the day dancing with the winter tyrant who, it seems, had much to offer once preferences were put to rest.

To Play or Not to Play

Three year old Natalie loves to paint. She explores colors and forms as readily as surfaces, bringing her body into play as she paints. She inspires me to reclaim my studio-now-storage space so I might join her in the fun.

On the Fourth of July Natalie joined Alistair and I at a kids Alms offering for Laung Por Sumedho and Ajahn Panyasaro at our Buddhist center. Before leaving the house we searched around for wee gifts to offer the monks. Alistair picked flowers from our garden, I picked out some incense from Thailand and Natalie choose fairies (unused candles in the shape of little girl angles I had set on the childrens dinner plates last Christmas). We tucked the wee presents into envelopes she deemed pretty enough to carry the fairies in and headed off down the street.

The Alms were offered, gifts were received and Blessings rained. Its been months since I’ve had such a light hearted feeling when at the center, where too my studio is housed. Nothing like youthful aplomb to lightened the heart of a ‘responsible adult’ and bring body into play once again.

Learning to Walk

The video at the bottom of this post reflects (according to moi) the best of worldly family. To be born challenged as the son documented here is, into a family with a father such as he has certainly demonstrates one of good kamma, one of good worldly fortune.

Taking a second look I’m motivated by its message in an unexpected way. What will the son do should his father pass away before him? Perhaps another would step in to take his fathers place though its not very likely, and the son will certainly never be able to do on his own what he can do with his dad.

The question arose for me after Ajahn Pasanno was ‘thought’ to have the first of possibly a series of strokes (now believed to of been a one time event). What would I do should he pass away before me? Would I be able to apply his teachings and guidance without ever having contact with him again? Unlike the gentleman in the video I can learn to walk on my own and must take advantage of teachers presence to the fullest while their still alive so that when they (or myself) pass along I can remain moving forward in Dhamma.

Click HERE to view video