Monday, December 24, 2007


This was posted by a member of my on-line Sangha... I thought it would be good to share it.

Buddhism at Christmastime
An Essay by George Boeree
When people find out that I'm a Buddhist, they always have these cute little questions like, "Do you celebrate Christmas?" Well, I've always loved Christmas a lot, so the question kinda throws me every time.
First, they make the mistake of assuming that Christmas is a purely Christian holiday, and of course it's not: It has roots in the winter solstice celebration common to northern people, and many other roots. Christmas trees, holly branches, mistletoe, candles, feasts, gift-giving -- all are older than Christmas "proper."
Some will point out "it IS called Christmas, you know!" I (playfully!) point out that Easter is named after Eostre, goddess of the dawn (the east)! I do get some pretty dirty looks.
Santa Claus is a particular favorite of mine. He derives from the Christian Saint Nicholas, of course, but he's slowly become a more archetypal creature. It strikes me that he bears an uncanny resemblance to Pu Tai (Hotei in Japanese), the cheerful fat monk with the big hemp sack full of gifts for children. He is considered to be an incarnation of Maitreya, the future Buddha.
I have a little statue of him on a table next to my favorite chair, and he smiles at the various Santas on my Christmas tree -- and they smile back!
Some people ask me why I let my kids believe in Santa, only to disillusion them later. But I think Santa is actually for the adults, teaching us unselfish, anonymous generosity!
Even the nativity is a wonderful story. I see it more as myth than reality (the same way I view most Buddhist stories) but it touches me anyway. Beyond all the centuries of accumulated superstition, Jesus seems to have been another enlightened being, serving a different people in a different time.
The nativity story is like a parable that illustrates the wisdom of such expressions as "the meek shall inherit the earth." That's always sounded so "Buddhist" to me -- I wonder if there is a parallel in the sutras?
Mary particularly touches me (though, raised a Protestant, I was taught not to "over-value" her like Catholics do!). She has a nice counterpoint in Kuan Yin (Kwannon, or Avalokiteshwara) in his/her feminine aspect: She, too, hears the sorrows of the world. Buddhism, like Christianity, comes out of a male-dominated culture, and both need that feminine touch!
Really, what could be more "Buddhist" than a holiday that celebrates giving, compassion, and human warmth! Here's a little "present" for you, a quote from a 16th century Italian monk:
I salute you!
There is nothing I can give you which you have not;
but there is much, that, while I cannot give, you can take.
No heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today.
Take Heaven.
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present instant.
Take Peace.
The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
Take Joy.
And so, at this Christmas time, I greet you, with the prayer that for you, now and forever, the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
--Fra Giovanni, 1513
Quoted in Tasha Tudor's "Take Joy! The Tasha Tudor Christmas Book" (Cleveland: Collins World, 1966).
Have a Merry Christmas, all of you, and a Happy New Year!
An e-mail essay by George Boeree
Visit George's Home Page.
Discuss this lesson in the Buddhist Reading Room forums!

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Yes, contrary to the rumors, I am still here... slowly hobbling along. Welcome to winter... Happy Solstice, and all that good stuff. Look on the bright side - the days will now become longer. Soon we will see the tops of the daffodils poking their little green heads out of the dirt.

I would like to share with you all my current favorite webcam. As some of you remember, I used to live in Maine. I could never decide which was my favorite light house, Pemaquid or Portland Head. ANd then there is Goat Island and Bass and... yeah, I love lighthouses. They are right up there with fog horns and bell bouys. I have a bell bouy bell hanging in the back yard. I will have to see if I can find a picture of it. AH, yes, I found it! It was taken last year in our snow storm... Anyway, I am rambling this morning - this is my Solstice Card to you all. And here is the link to check out the light house as the weather changes.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


SIGH... Thanks to my ever vigilant readers.... let me add this to the previous BERRY INTERESTING post. First, I have been real impressed with the quantity of berries this year because we have had quite a drought. I believe I mentioned that in a post about the quantity of blooms on the camellias, but meant to mention it on the BERRY post, too. Thanks for reminding me, Frank (another observant neighbor!)

Second, it took me all day to get that post done. Blogger took 40 minutes to decide to tell me the picture was posted only to click on done and find a tiny box with an x in it - ie - no picture. Finally, having most of but not all my berry pictures on there - I just gave up and realized -
Third, I had not identified the bushes. sigh. Maybe it is the pain medicine, maybe it is the pain - I dunno - but the brain is not up to snuff these past few days. Maybe it is the frustration of not being able to walk and I am not "bouncing" back like I think I should. Whatever... The plants are, from top to bottom: American Holly (female), Nandina, Pyracantha, and Pyracantha (firethorn), Ligustrum, Beautyberry Bush (Callicarpa Americana), and Poke berry or Poke weed minus the berries! They had already been eaten. But dontcha love the color of the leftovers????
If I have something wrong or left something out, I am sure one of you will set me straight! Thanks for reading, looking, and checking up on me!
Now could I get one of you guys to fill me birdfeeders for me????

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Old wives tales say when we have loads of berries, we are going to have a BAD winter. Well, I have a feeling it is definitely going to be an interesting winter... it was in the 70's on Monday, 50's yesterday, 70's again today and they are predicting snow for Sunday. A week or so ago, I noticed how many berries were everywhere - so many more than usual, it seemed... so I thought I would share the bounty with you!

Here the berries are gone... but look at the beauty of the stem they left behind! What color! I hope you enjoyed these pictures berry much!

Saturday, December 01, 2007


This post was not up even one hour when a neighbor asked me why Yule Tide was not included, that they thought it was especially beautiful this year, also. So I put on my jacket and hobbled out front with my camera. Ta Da! - Yule Tide..... or at least part of it. Yule Tide is over 10 feet tall.

Gee, ya can't get away with nothin'!


I hope you are not tired of my camellias yet, but even I am amazed!
We have had quite a drought this year like so many of you all... so I am absolutely amazed at the blooms on the fall camellias -I really expected bare bushes this year - but instead, I have had more blooms this year than I can remember.
This bush is 8 feet wide and over 8 feet tall! Notice how the branches are bending due to the weight of all the blooms? The ground is covered with dead petals.
These camellias have been hit by 2 heavy frosts, you can see the dead blooms on Ice Angel and all the petals on the ground from finished flowers on Spice Lady. There are more buds left to open! And the bushes are busy with bees when it warms up to about 50 degrees.
The trees and bushes that have berries are overloaded, too. Maybe they liked the drought???? Maybe it is a survival thing? I'll save those pictures for the next post.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Two summers ago I had to do something drastic... I had to cut back my precious 20 year old croton. It had been given to me by a dear friend, now gone for many years. The croton was a reminder of her and the wonderful summers we spent in the Caribbean together, especially at Montserrat, now also partially gone, buried under tons and tons of volcanic ash. The croton was well over 8 feet tall and could not be brought back into the house - it just would not fit. I considered building another room on for it, but it would soon out grow that, so I took the cheaper route, I took a knife to it. I cut off the top 4 feet of the plant. Oh, I swear it hurt me as much or maybe more than the croton! I put the top in an orange juice bottle in water and watched as it dropped another leaf each week until there were only 3 leaves left. Then the miracle happened, the 3 remaining leaves stood back up and in a week there were roots and baby leaves coming from the dead looking old stem. Then, the other day, I noticed something strange on top of the new (and by now potted) plant. Since none of my friends have ever seen a croton bloom, I will take up a bit of cyberspace to show the flowers on the baby croton and the mama plant, now back up to 7 feet tall in less than 2 years.

Friday, November 23, 2007



Thanksgiving Day was an awesomely warm and beautiful day. In the morning, the leaves were at their peak. Everything seemed extra beautiful. I was so grateful to be able to see all that beauty, to see all the colors and to be able to walk out in the beauty and take pictures to share with you. Look at these camellias! Someone emailed me and asked me about the redbud leaves. They are about the same size as my hand.
I love finding the little surprises, Don't you? Like this touch of bright color in the middle of the jungle out back. Or the color combinations of the
Birch, spruce and Maple. All this gold is on the ground this morning. We had a bit of rain overnight and 40 mph winds.
I hope you had a beautiful day, too.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Fall has finally arrived here on Possum Lane. For the last couple of days, the colors have been brilliant, or at least as brilliant as they get here. No, we never get the awesome reds of the maples up north and the bright yellows and oranges appear only sporadically here and there, but that makes them such a nice surprise when they do happen! A few trees lost their leaves a couple weeks ago so there are only a few leaves left on the biggest dogwood out back. This is from a week ago. The redbud is down to a few dozen big pale yellow-green hearts. The berries are “reddenin’ up for the winter.”
All the early fall camellias are in full bloom now, even Yule Tide has started to bloom though it seems a bit early. The frost got the coleus last week and the Strobilanthes next to St Francis has turned black. The Strobilanthes with the sweet potato leaves next to the carport (last post) is still beautiful, but who knows for how much longer.
It was in the mid 60s Thursday morning and calm. I went out to feed the cats wearing only a shirt (and jeans!) It was 65 and calm at 10 AM, but 52 at 10:30 with a good rain falling and winds between 20 and 30, gusts at 42 mph. Wow! By noon, the winds were clocked at over 60 mph at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and restrictions went up. As I was feeding Spook and Punkin, a big flock of Snows went over. If you watch carefully, you can learn the difference in Snow Geese and Canada Geese by looking at their formation when they fly. Then there are Brants – the sloppiest formation of all! If you get good at it, you can even learn which is which by the sound as they talk to each other as they fly along. Did you ever wonder what they are saying? Are they coaching the youngsters? Encouraging the old timers? Or are they pointing out the featherless bipeds on the ground and commenting on the plight of the earth-bound? Do they have someone who keeps track of the ponds and marshes along the way or which fields have corn that hasn’t been plowed under yet? Do they notice the tender wheat just coming up? Oh, that might be good for a snack!
As I looked up to see how many geese were flying over, I noticed the colors had changed drastically since yesterday. I grabbed my camera and walker and headed out to get a pic or two before the coming storm blew all the leaves off the trees. The brightest reds out there were poison ivy leaves going up a tree at the edge of the woods. I really did not have the energy to try to get out there, but it was a pretty red. I guess I will have to settle for this bush out front.
The Adirondack chairs are covered, the grill is in on the carport. I am starting to fill more birdfeeders each week as the winter crowd starts to settle in. the “butter butts” have moved on (Myrtle warblers,) and the winter robins have moved in.
Wednesday, as I sat on my walker in the sun enjoying the last of the 70 degree weather we will have for a while, one of my nuthatches sat in the bayberry bush and sang and sang. I was amazed at the range of songs that little fellow had. I had never paid much attention to their song before or I did not know who was doing all the singing.
The squirrels are planting pecans in my yard. My only pecan tree is just about 12 feet tall, much too small to produce any pecans, but I have pecans all over the place. Well, OK, so maybe I saw a dozen here and there, but still, that’s a lot for not having any pecan trees. I kept hearing a strange sound, one I was not sure about. It went on and on. I tried to move as quietly as I could to see who it was. The squirrel with a pecan in his mouth was probably saying some unkind things to Punkin who was on the ground ignoring him but watching the sparrows as they kicked up the leaves at the edge of the yard.
Ah, the sights and sounds of autumn. I think I enjoy it more than Springtime!

Monday, November 05, 2007


The past couple of weeks have been hectic, if you don’t mind an understatement. But then, compared to what some of the others around me have been going thru, I guess it hasn’t been bad, unless you are a cat or a flea. We put the cats in the kennel to be “defleaed,” took ourselves to Rehoboth to the outlets (LLBEAN!!! YEAH!!!!) having set off flea bombs in the house before we left. Having a cat with serious allergies, we then had to scrub and clean every surface he might step on when he came home. Spring house cleaning in the fall! They say the fleas have been so extraordinarily bad this year because of the drought and I believe that is so. We do seem to have flea problems during the dry years. So, having to do serious cleaning inside meant ignoring the outside chores, sigh. Soooo, the last few days have been spent trying to get many of the yard jobs done and finish getting all the house plants in as it has gotten down to the upper 30s. The croton and tropical plants have been in for a month or more as they can’t take temps below 50. Saturday I got the greenhouse cleaned out and finished putting in the geraniums, aloe and some cuttings. The greenhouse is tiny, so that means climbing on my hands and knees to reach the back of it, but it gives me flowers all winter when the weather does a number on the camellias or pansies outside.
This is Fino’s grave – World’s Best Cat – I had her for 21 years.
I keep pansies on her grave all the time. She is buried in the center of my Prayer Circle. The rocks around the grinding stone (for my ancestors) and shells are from friends who wanted to be remembered in the Prayer Circle. There are also some marbles in there, placed by some of my real young friends. Since stones are not naturally found here on the shore, some people bring shells.
Soon I will be doing my morning meditations in the house. Spook will have to do his all alone. The Buddhas have been enjoying the fall azaleas. I tried to take some pictures yesterday before we got any frost. Good thing I did as I can’t walk very well today. But, then, that will give me the time to sit here at the computer and finally get something on here, right?

Have you ever grown sweet potatoes as an ornamental plant, just for its beauty? A friend gave me this one in a pot of Persian Shield (Strobilanthes.) It has grown along the edge of the carport. I think it looks so cool.
The fall camellias are looking great. Some of the bushes are now over 10 feet tall. They look pretty good with the impatiens. I am so grateful for the beauty around me… I know I don’t have the mountains, hills, rivers and waterfalls down here, but I do have flowers that I could not have up there.

I do want to thank all of you who emailed me to see if I was all right. It is nice to be missed. I did try to keep up with many of your blogs, but half the time I could not get on to leave a comment, or someone was having a crisis and I had to go (see sentence 2.) It has been a hard couple of weeks physically and emotionally, but if we can’t be there for our friends in their times of need, who will be there for us? Enjoy the beauty of my flowers…

Thursday, October 18, 2007


The cooler days of fall are here. No, they are not cold, but the air conditioner is at rest, plug is pulled, breaker switch box turned off. That, of course, means yard work time. Groan! Actually, I love working in the yard – I just don’t know how to pace myself as well as I should. I got another 2 tons of mulch dumped out front the other day, and I am grateful, but it is a chore for me to move it all. I am also grateful for the little tractor and wagon as I would never be able to walk all that much mulch to the places that need it.

I have another wagon – the best $50 I ever spent, though that was years ago – 15 at least. I often sit on it to do my weeding, but it has been known to tip over when I get too close to the edge. It will carry 3 flats of pansies, gardening tools, gloves, water bottle, you name it, any place I need those things and then give me a place to sit! The new ones cost a bit more and are 1/3 the size of my wagon. ONE THIRD! I saw them unloading a couple cartons at the Garden Center the other day with the words AMES PLANTER WAGON on the big box – the box was the size of my wagon and I got all excited. I thought it would be great to have a new one, the old one is, well, feeling its age… Can you imagine my dismay when the girl cut the box open and there were three wagons in that box instead of one? That was when I headed up to the John Deere place and bought a BIG wagon to go behind the tractor/mower I got from them this summer. The old wagon can carry some heavy loads. It helped me move my new Buddha I got for my birthday from my van to its current resting place until I figure how to get some rocks to give it a better place in the woods. We don’t have rocks here. I have had to bring all my rocks down from Pennsylvania. This is one of the stone walls up back behind our house in PA.
It will seem very strange to buy a pile of rocks and pay someone to bring them to my house. The Old Buddha still sits out back. I will probably have to move him next year as his stump is really deteriorating quickly.
Anyway, I over did the wood chip/mulch shoveling and planted 8 flats of pansies all in one day. Not real smart. So I am finishing the weeding and planting from the walker.
It, too, has a seat. And wheels, and seems to be pretty tough. It hasn’t dumped me yet. I have learned to use it when I watrer the garden rather than stand for an hour or two. That has been a big help tho it probably looks a little silly from the street! Well, who cares?!?!