Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sharon Temple

The Sharon Temple, in what is now the town of East Gwillimbury, north of Toronto.
For many years, before he was old enough to drive himself, I used to drive up through Sharon/Hope/East Gwillimbury, to pick up or visit with my son, who lived with his father near Barrie. Each time I drove by the Sharon Temple, I would crane my neck for a glimpse of it as I passed, vowing to stop and properly look around someday.
Fairly regularly, sites of interest within day-trip distance of Toronto have been featured in the weekend newspapers. The Sharon Temple has come up often during the years and for some reason, it has some particular ability to pique my curiosity. Someday, I thought, someday it would be a nice place to visit.
Someday has not come yet! Last Tuesday, the impulse to stop hit me again as I was driving my friend N. back to the airport in Buffalo. A small detour brought us to the temple, but I was disappointed to find it closed for the season.

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007


I'm reading Start Where You Are, A Guide to Compassionate Living, by Pema Chödrön. As the last few days have been a little sad for me, coloured by some of life's disappointments, I was struck again by the synchronicity of books that fall into my hands.

Using the lojong teachings to see how we can use our difficulties and problems to awaken our hearts, Chödrön stresses repeatedly throughout this little book, that it is unconditional compassion for ourselves that leads naturally to unconditional compassion for others. By starting where we are, in the middle of whatever frustrations and difficulties of our lives right now, especially in those situations where we might prefer to blame, criticize or ignore, we can use the lojong teachings to relate to ourselves and others with an open heart and an open mind, allowing ourselves the space, softness and compassion to relax. In emphasizing the enormous space in which we live our everyday lives, the sense of separation, solidity and isolation is revealed as a painful misunderstanding that keeps us from realizing our kinship with all beings, everywhere.

As I have been reading along, I have been laughing at myself quite a bit, how often I take an idea, a teaching, and resolve to do this or that in a new way, my stream of thoughts solidifying "into a heavy story line" that seems to be taking me elsewhere, only to have Chödrön gently remind me to label that "thinking". "The absolute quality of bodhichitta can never be pinned down. If you can talk about it, that's not it.....Whenever you come up with a solid conclusion, let the rug be pulled out....At this point, for most of us, our thoughts are very tied up with our identity, with our sense of problem and our sense of how things are....Use the labeling and use it with great gentleness as a way to touch those solid dramas and acknowledge that you just made them all up with this conversation you're having with yourself."

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Monday, January 29, 2007

snowy day patterns

Below are random pictures taken on the last day of my friend N.'s visit. A certain repetitive type of pattern can often be so pleasing to me.

The lazy cedar rail fence at the bottom of my garden.

Deadfalls cut into firewood, the neatly stacked logs have a lovely rhythm to them.

An inviting peek into a rose garden hidden by the snow, through painted wrought iron gates in a tall cedar hedge.

Snow embroidering the top of an arbour outside the Sturgeon Point church.

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It's that time of year. The cold weather has finally arrived and the snow blankets the garden. On the loop that I run, which takes me around Sturgeon Point, I get to peek into some of the lovely gardens of "millionaire row" where I enjoy this garden ornament, one of a pair at the top of the steps that lead to a lovely cottage that seems to breathe out an aura of stories, design, history and beauty.

The seed catalogues are arriving and I'm beginning to make long dreamy lists of things I'd like to grow in my garden this coming summer. I really do think that without this quiet season of whiteness, like a blank page upon which to doodle out design ideas and planting schemes, my gardening life would be quite different indeed. I know I'd miss the doodling, even though my schemes so often go astray into my bewildering piles of saved paper. But without my doodles to refer to, I'd have no sense of order at all, nothing to help me set some priorities on every pretty thing I'm sure I want from the garden and seed catalogues!

It doesn't matter at all that my systems for organizing my paper don't work too well. I can spend hours poring over old design ideas I've had, reworking them, tweaking them and making those "want" lists, full of the plants that fill me with lust. This usually means I have created many more bits and pieces of paper that I try -- not too successfully -- to file in some orderly way! The favorite pieces of paper get copied so that it's a copy, not the original, that gets folded, unfolded, dirtied and stained as I shop, mark out new beds, plant and play in the garden as soon as weather will allow.

That sounds more organized than I actually am, as I have many versions of the same idea on scraps of paper, some dated, some not, some labelled as a first or second or third draft, some not, some intended for a particular spot in houses I lived in long ago, some a more generalized idea that I may translate into something for a specific spot in this garden...oh dear. I'm not organized at all! It is, I admit it, a very intuitive, daydreaming method which will keep me happy for hours but is doubtful as to effectiveness!

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back at last

Thanks to the blogger support team, I am finally able to post again here. It was something I didn't realize I'd miss as much as I did, until I was unable to for the last month or so. Maybe I should celebrate somehow, or maybe I should examine why it has become such an important part of my life. Am I a blogging addict?

Really, I don't care if I'm addicted. It is something I enjoy doing and perhaps as far as addictions go, it is relatively harmless -- unless I'm embarrassing my friends and family by my "public" ruminations! I do try not to do that, although I fondly think that my revelations about my family and friends usually involves only my gratitude for what they mean to me in my life. If I ridicule or embarrass anyone, I hope it's only myself!

I'm sometimes amazed at how silly my life can get and well... maybe others find some relief in hearing about the chaos and hilarity that always keep my life interesting.

But mostly, I walk around in awed bemusement that I'm looking out at a sparkling necklace of ice crystals, for example, flung carelessly along the edge of the snow-icing that curls generously over the roof of the greenhouse, blinding as the reflected sun sparkles off the snowflakes, or thrilled as the shadow of the red-tailed hawk flits across the snow in the yard and the squirrel-robbers of my bird-feeders disappear into the trees.

The stories that unfold go largely untold. A walk becomes a mystery of a myriad clues, tracks in the snow, a depression in the snow tinged with blood, a stray feather, a small fluff of fur. Bark has been stripped by some critter from many of the branches of the crab-apple trees along the drive. I think of Don's theory that male squirrels are marking their territory.

My dog barks and hesitates at the door when I open it for her to go out, not rushing into anything, sniffing cautiously, looking before she steps outside. I'm impatient as I hold the door open for her in the sub-zero weather as I imagine waves of my expensively heated indoor air pouring outdoors in waste. I nudge her butt with my foot. Hurry up. The moon rising over the orchard to the east of the house silently climbs higher into the evening sky.

I don't know why I want to write about it. But there you are. Here's my blog where I try to capture some of it.

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