Friday, December 29, 2006

With a Moo Moo here and a MU無 MU 無 there

One of my favorite stories that Thây (Thich Nhat Hanh) tells is the one about "cow releasing".
It goes something like this:

It was the rainy season. The Buddha and his followers were in the forest at Vaisali, seated at the base of a great tree. The Buddha was about to give a teaching (a dharma talk) to his monks. They had just finished their midday meal. Long slants of sunlight shone through the grove of tall mossy trees.

Suddenly, a farmer came running through the forest, shouting. As the man approached the sangha, he cried: "Have you seen my herd of cows? Have you seen my cows?" Frantically, he explained his troubles: "First, my entire sesame crop was eaten by caterpillars and now my cows have run off! I must be the most pathetic man on earth; I should just kill myself." The Buddha replied: "No, we have not seen your cows." Pointing in a different direction, the Buddha suggested that he try looking there. The farmer ran off, hurriedly searching here and there and yelling: "Have you seen my cows? Have you seen my cows?" After the farmer left, the Buddha turned to his bhiksus (monks), smiling. He said: "Bhiksus, do you realize that you are the happiest, freest people on the earth? You have no cows to lose."

I like Thây's commentary on this story. He says that it's time to practice the art of "cow releasing" when we have too many projects, when we are pulled this way and that, and when we become frantic over a lost object. "Cow releasing" "...helps us to let go of our cows, the cows of our mind and cows we have gathered around us" (p. 27; The Blooming of a Lotus: Guided Meditation Exercises for Healing and Transformation).

* * * * * * *

A few days ago, I had an opportunity to release a couple of cows. I had placed my now unused bionic arm brace on a closet shelf along with my starter sling (a flimsy piece of nylon made in Mexico that cost $60 in the hospital!) and the fuzzy padded sling strap that came with the brace. I'd worn the brace for about 2 months recently after falling off my bicycle. Now, I no longer needed the brace. So, I put it on a shelf where it took up space. I wasn't sure what to do with it. The fact that the brace cost about $120 and that it had that special flying dial made me think twice about discarding it. But, seeing the brace there whenever I opened the closet, I began to think that having it around might create a future situation in which I would have to wear it again. On the other hand, if I saved the brace, I'd have one handy in case I needed it. Thus, my thoughts went 'round, ad nauseum. My acquisitive mind wanted to grasp, hold on to, and not let go of this thing that no longer served me. Before falling off my bike, I never thought of falling. I didn't observe thoughts of falling off my bicycle, of brace wearing, or of broken limbs. Since my fall, these thoughts occasionally appear for brief moments, usually while riding. I gently acknowledge these fears and they quietly disappear. In the end, I decided that keeping the brace for a later date--just in case--is like waiting for something to happen, and contributes to its creation. So, I released that cow. I donated the brace to Casa de Los Niños along with a few articles of clothing I no longer wear. Someone else who needs the brace will make use of it (and might even discover the magic dial). I'm through with it; my arm is healed. I let it go with a "moo-oo" and a MU 無 .... either is right.

MU 無 from the Japanese (derived from the Chinese) is a term used in Zen which roughly means no-mind, nothinglessness, or nothing.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

teapot no. 5 - Chinese Tearoom

Fountain pen ink and Lyra Rembrandt polycolor colored pencils in a Moleskine Volant journal.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

100 more teapots!

Teapot no. 4 tea land

Teapot no. 3

Teapot no. 2

Teapot no. 1

* * * * * * *

It's official. I have embarked on another 100 teapots. I had thought to do 100 architectural structures, 100 mandalas, 100 different cactuses, or maybe 100 humans.... However, my natural inclination leads me again and again to enjoy breathing and being over a cup of tea. I enjoy the preparation of tea, the color and form of the teapots, the tea releasing its full flavor in the proper temperature water. If you practice anything deeply, you can know everything, touch everything. A good tea host in the Japanese tea ceremony, for example, invites the guest(s) to share a moment of peace over a bowl of freshly whisked green tea. Discussion in the tearoom may include poetic or stylistic elements of the calligraphed poem hung in the tokonoma (special tearoom altar), admiration of the seasonal chabana (floral arrangement), the glaze, shape, and style of teabowl, as well as discussion of the potter, the poet/calligrapher of the poem, and other bits of history. A tea host must know history, poetry, brush calligraphy styles, pottery, chabana, and be fluid and fluent in the art of tea. I'm not a tea host of the type I just described, though I've had the opportunity to host Japanese tea and be an invited guest in an authentic japanese tearoom.

I enjoy simple tea. I like taking the time to prepare my tea in small teapots: Japanese green teas, Chinese and Taiwanese oolongs, green, white, and yellow teas, pu-erhs, and Indian teas. Making tea slowly, I really taste the tea, my surroundings, my companions, and my breath.

All this to say, there are mandalas in teapots. And, some teapots are little architectural wonders. So, here are the first four of my second set of 100 Teapots.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Yuki barked!

Yuki barked this morning to be let out. Two good things--that he has energy to bark and wanted to go outside! He fell over when he barked, but no matter--Yuki barked. Yay, Yuki !!!!!

In the midst of chaos

Monday, December 18, 2006

More on Yuki

Hello from Yukiland, where I've been for the past 10 days. Yuki voluntarily moved out of his orange healing tent with the lavendar towel (I'm told dogs don't see colors, though). Yuki seems to be feeling much, much better. He lifts his head on occasion and smiles. My friends/neighbors Estelle & Joe gave us some cooked liver that Yuki really liked. We went for a short walk yesterday, down the easement road and almost one full block before he wanted to go back. I have to coax Yuki to go out as his vestibular disease makes it different for him to walk now. He pulls to the left and circles around sometimes, but he's not collapsing as he was prior to receiving treatment and medicines. He's actually pooped twice now (I'm sure you wanted to know this detail), helped by eating the liver pieces, and his vomiting has stopped. No barking yet. Besides the obvious head tilt and pulling to one side when he walks, Yuki's lack of barking is another wellness indicator. I hope all he needs is to adjust to his condition and/or as he heals that his strength will grow and his voice will return.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Yuki update: Yuki's healing tent

Yuki seems a little better today. He ate about two tablespoons of chopped chicken and drank a little water. He still wants to be inside sleeping and doesn't move much or bark at all. He does not want to walk around inside or outside. I'm hoping he'll improve even more. The blood test results were negative for valley fever and tick fever and all his organ functions are normal. The veterinarian said it may be simply "old age vestibular disease" which may or may not improve with time. Yuki certainly has a lot of loving friends who care about him (and me and Jesse). Thank you for your kind emails and healing wishes/energy!

My new art venture has launched!

These are the preliminary photographs of my boxed sets of greeting cards and prints. I have begun to sell these cards and prints. Both prints and cards are reproductions of my original watercolors from the 100 Teapot series. Both the print paper and the cards & envelopes are of fine ivory cardstock, very smooth, like hot pressed watercolor paper. The prints are 12 x 14 inches with an image size of 8 x 10, the paper has four deckled edges, and they come in limited editions of 150, signed and numbered by the artist (me!). The cards come 8 in a box with 8 envelopes (2 each of 4 paintings) and there are 3 completely different boxed card sets. They come in a clear plastic box with a gold cord.

Anyone reading this who may be interested in more information on how to obtain these beautiful cards and prints, please contact me at this email address:

I plan to have a dedicated website devoted to my art venture in the near future.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


Yuki is not well. He is barely walking and when he does walk he stumbles, walking around as if he is drunk, collapsing on his right side. Not eating, not drinking. Not barking. The diarhhea started Friday night, then vomiting on Saturday. I'll take him to a veterinarian tomorrow. Poor Yuki. Please bark, Yuki. If you have it in you....

This is what we looked like today, as I worked at home. Jesse on her table, Yuki at my feet.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Drawing again--Yay!!

I drew this with a cheap, leaky Schaeffer fountain pen in a homemade journal. Since my arm has been healing I have not been drawing very much. Now that it is pretty much all healed and feeling great, I am relearning how to see/draw.