Friday, January 15, 2021

Faith and Courage

View from my Room

“Faith is the courage to live your life as if everything that happens does so for your highest good and learning. Like it or not.”


Can I Choose Happiness

Ragle Park
Sebastopol, California

“If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you.”

– Lao Tzu

I started the day off earlier. First stop. The French Bakery in Sebastopol. Coffee and a Croissant. Second Stop. Ragle Park. There is a park bench that Scott and I shared after our hikes. I had a nudge to visit this area and sit at this bench.
When I got to the park, I walked the dirt trail to the bench. In the coffee colored wet grassy valley below, I noticed three kites hunting in the area. Kites are a white-grey ghost like hawk with black markings. The birds seem to flutter as they tread the air in a spot above their hunting area waiting to swoop down on their prey. A frog or a lizard, a small bird or large insect who makes the tragic mistake of being seen at the wrong time, which happens to be the perfect opportunity for the Kite.
The kites were too high up for me to get a good photo. I watched them hunt, swoop, and rest in a tall tree as I looked around for other animals, maybe a colorful mushroom, or plant to photograph. I didn't find much in the short half hour I was there. What I did find, was a sense of peace. 
I listened to the birds chirp and sing. I watched a runner with his curly coated dog beside him take on the trail leading further into the park. I watched a man in his walker push himself to bend and tie a branch of a tree that needed help in the cultivated memorial garden. Scrub jays flew low and long across the small valley as tiny wisps of clouds melted into the baby blue sky. 
I talked to Scott, asking for his advice on taking photos, hearing within to "be patient, walk, and wait for it." 
The kites flew further passed the valley to continue with their hunting activity, I found a tree stump bathed in morning light, and watched the valley for signs of life. I walked the red dirt paths through the fields finding my way back to the car with a couple of photos for the blog, nothing I had initially wanted to take photos of, which I am finding is not really the point right now of carrying this beautiful gift around my neck, this camera that is bringing me back to life, towards the edges of a sense of happiness, to feeling closer to Scott.  To a knowing deep inside that by my actions, one foot in front of another will lead me forward to a sense of happiness closer to within my reach.

A New Understanding

Interior Chinatown
by Charles Yu

I expanded my reading choices by picking Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu. I am not too familiar with reading satire.  

I am happy with my choice and I have a better understanding of Hollywood stereotypes and the Chinese Immigrant experience. 

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu opened my eyes to experiences I haven't lived.  This is the best kind of book. I have gained a new kind of empathy.  Interior Chinatown is my next book giveaway. The first reader of this blog who emails me will receive the book.  Please mention the name of the book in your email so I know which giveaway it is. Good luck:)


Walking the Past

Sebastopol, California

Towards the end of yesterday's walk in the city park, I searched for the labyrinth. The same labyrinth, I had walked many years ago during a creative visioning workshop I attended. In the workshop, we spent hours cutting pictures out of stacks of magazines to arrange a collage for our vision. After arranging the pieces, we glued them onto a poster board to take home. I remember my collage had a tiger along with beach scenes, probably of Hawaii. During the afternoon of the day long workshop, beginning at the outside of the circle, we walked our vision along the labyrinth. I remember walking, losing myself in a deep meditation, following my feet around the swirling path until I reached the middle of the circle.

Yesterday, I found the middle of the labyrinth near the community building, the painted stones and words were covered in faded orange fallen leaves. Nearby, two robins flew back and forth landing on a large rock near a bench overlooking the small city park. On the street facing the park, a row of at least twenty beat up RVs, old school buses, passenger vans, and cars with the backseats pulled out for makeshift beds formed a caravan. The parked vehicles, all with their windows covered in pieces of curtain, fabric and magnetic felt boards. One young woman in her thirties was folding her laundry, placing it neatly back in her car trunk. 

Last time, I checked, the affordable housing list was an 8-10 year wait. The not so lucky "displaced" residents, the locals who cannot afford a vehicle to sleep in,  set up tent camps in the interior of the city park, in the mud, near the fence line of the dairy pastures I posted a photo of on yesterday's blog. 

I am thinking, I would be a more honest photographer if I started taking photos of our wildlife along with what else is happening under the trees and near the water lines of our community here in one of the wealthiest places in the world. I don't want to invade people's privacy by taking photos of their encampments. If I can do it with respect, the same kind of respect I treat our nature and animals, then, I will forge ahead with my camera and writing. With Scott, I did sleep in a tent and a van during the summer for over three months, we were displaced, but we were not destitute. So I cannot understand completely, the experience of what I am seeing. I can only try to understand it as much as possible. It might take going out of my comfort zone to begin a conversation with our local residents who are forced to live this way without a clean water source or clean public bathrooms and showers due to our incompetence as a whole community coming together to find a workable solution or there may be some people in the encampments who are choosing to live "outside of the system", which I understand. In my own way, I am trying to live as much "out of the system" as possible, as well.

During our walk, yesterday, I did greet an older woman who was in her early to mid eighties walking her old dog on a leash. She apologized for not wearing a mask as she passed me by. I could tell she was tired and I could tell she lived in one of the tents or I pray one of the beat up rvs which would be more comfortable. I stopped and told her "not to worry about the mask". I was wearing mine. I inquired about her dog. With a weariness, she answered "the dog was very old" and continued her way along the muddy path following one of the lagoons.


Thursday, January 14, 2021

Cows are Good

Holstein Dairy Cows
Sebastopol, California

My first outing with my new camera was a tad bit ambitious. Half way to the laguna, I realized I forgot to bring the park pass. So we ended up going to the city park following a muddy trail that I hoped would lead over a bridge to the wetlands. The trail did not cross the water, it dead ended into it

Dead End: Wrong side of the Laguna

I consider the jaunt around the city park trail surrounded by winter green pastures speckled with black and white cows, and homeless encampments dug into the mud semi hidden behind brush a success. I turned my camera on, pushed buttons, practiced the zoom, and what really mattered in the big picture of things is, it got me outside and out of my sadness. That is huge. 

Truly a successful excursion.

I did try to take photos of the bright banana yellow goldfinches while they tweeted away high up in the barren trees. As soon as I almost had a good opportunity to take the photo, someone would walk by with a loose dog, or a pack of teenagers mask less would rumble by. The birds tried to be cooperative by flying back and forth between the trees, but no luck this time. It was beautiful to hear them chatter. A couple of hawks circled above and a vulture made a quick appearance. Too far up in the sky for the zoom.

I ordered a couple of memory cards for the camera. And two Northern California field guides, one for wild birds, the other for identifying wild plants. It would be nice to have one for Fungi/Mushrooms too. 

It feels so good to get lost in nature again. 


Pay Attention to the Good

Our Portland Pet Sit Kitty

Today, my task is to pay attention to the good. Well. Really, everyday, in every moment, it is a good thing to pay attention to the good.

Yesterday, a large package landed. It was carefully wrapped, protected and sealed. It took a while for me to break it open. Inside, I found a fancy, expensive camera with a zoom lens, a camera bag, and extra batteries. It was a gift. A very generous gift from one of my blog readers. 

I was overwhelmed, and excited for the first time in a long time. I took the camera out, turned it on, and played with it for a bit. Then. I held the camera in my lap and cried. Tears streamed down my face. I thought, Scott would have loved this camera. He loved photography. He used to own expensive cameras before I met him. During our time together, he used his phone to take photos. Only his phone. With tears rolling down my face, I whispered to him "I wish I could give you this camera". 

Within moments of saying this out loud. I felt peace. I felt Scott with me. I felt good about the camera and happy that taking photos is something we can still share.

Later today, my sister is picking me up. There is a Laguna, not too far away. It is a wonderland of a preserve. Hundreds of species of animals live there including herons, hawks, fox, mountain lion, otters, and eagles. I don't know what we will find today.

The Laguna will be an inviting mystery and I am open to receiving whatever it gives us today. Today, I am paying attention to the good and hopefully I will bring a few good photos back to share with you.


Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Letting Go of Disturbance

Near Annadel State Park
Santa Rosa, California

"The disturbance of the soul cannot be ended nor true joy created
either by the possession of the greatest wealth or
by honour and respect in the eyes of the mob
or by anything else that is associated with
causes of unlimited desire."

400 BC


Small Dreams

Sausalito Northern, California "We dream to give ourselves hope. To stop dreaming-well, that's like saying  you can never change yo...