Tuesday, April 29, 2014

One the road again -- almost

Well, wouldn't you know that my next-to-last night in Georgia was spent in my most favorite way: waiting for the tornadoes to hit. Once again, this area was spared. A big thunder boomer shook the house around 3 or 4 am, a few later rumbles, but that was it. At the moment there's just rain, and after that the radar shows clear. Unfortunately, they are still saying that another storm is coming up after this one, although it sure doesn't show up on the radar. On the other hand, this one didn't show up on the radar until late afternoon yesterday. Aside from not sleeping overly well, all is well here.

The house is almost empty. I loaded the trunk yesterday (partly because I had bad thoughts about having to do it in the rain, and partly because I'm paranoid about leaving the house overnight tonight when people in this neighborhood know I'm moving and might think I'm gone and try to break in). I've said before, it's a dicey neighborhood, although most residents are good people. There's always a few you can't trust.

So -- today I need to finish packing (had to wait through breakfast today, to use the coffeemaker and the blender for my morning smoothie). Also have to dismantle my 'bed' -- deflate the air mattress, roll up the sleeping bag, etc., and get those into their shipping box. Later in the day I'll have to disconnect the computer, take the modems back to Charter (they say I've had them long enough to pay for them, but last time I disconnected from Charter they told me the same thing and I returned them anyway -- the person who gave me the receipt for them told me it was a good thing I'd returned them because otherwise I'd have been charged for them, so I'm not taking any chances. Don't need them anyway).

I can check into the motel in Bremen at 3pm so I plan to do that, and have a much more comfortable place to chill out until it's time to leave for the airport. Tomorrow morning we'll come here, take the rest of the furnishings to the neighbor next door, load the rest of the stuff into the car, and head west. You probably won't hear from me for a couple of days -- on the road somewhere.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


If this isn't cute, I don't know what is. The first of the Red Tail Hawks eggs hatched in the wee small hours, and mama hasn't been willing to give us much more than a glimpse. Even this was a short-lived view, but one quick viewer captured it and tweeted it. Another egg is in the process of hatching. This little one hasn't been fed yet, and when that happens, we'll all get a better look. For those of you who don't know: you can watch them here.

The little fellow finally got some food, the fell over onto it's back. Notice the tiny little feet, and the belly. And on the right, the last egg over, you can see another fuzz ball, which is the second one fighting its way out of the shell. Soon we'll have two bobbleheaded fuzzballs, and probably not too long afterwards, three. Super cute.

A little later -- the second is finding great success in working its way out of the shell. E1 (first hatched) seems to want more food.  Right after this Big Red (mom) rolled the hatching egg and sat back on top of all of them, which may have put a crimp in E2's style.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Three more days.

I'm a patient person, for the most part. I've patiently waited out the last 6 months here, waiting for spring so I could fold up my tent and leave. I've patiently (for the most part) traveled through the mire and mud of selling my belongings, mostly through Craig's List. I've patiently (more or less) used a lawn chair for my only seating for well over a month now. I'm patiently sleeping on an air mattress on the floor. I'm patiently living without a real way to cook food. Patiently waiting for the next step to arrive. But, I think in the next few days that patience is going to be tried even further and frankly, for the past few days I've felt on the losing end of the whole patience thing.

The good news is that we're down to THREE more days. How hard is it to be patient for three days, you ask? Ordinarily, not at all hard. Until you add 6 months onto those three days. And keep taking away what comforts remain. And add a new bunch of screaming kids at the rental house next door into the picture. Starting today, I'm moving my car into the back yard behind the house, because last night the bicycles were edging far too close to it. Behind the house seems to be the only safe place.

Today, my dryer is supposedly going. Tomorrow, the refrigerator, washer, the only table and lamp left in the living room. Somebody inquired yesterday about the desk/table my computer sits on, but for better or worse, I never heard back from them. Frankly, I'm happy to keep it and give it away at the end.

But hey, I'll still have the lawn chair, a clip-on desk light that'll fit somewhere and give some light to the darkness here when need be. And I'll have a cooler and a microwave and my coffee maker and blender. What more can I ask?

The impatience is showing in crabbiness. I'm sleeping really well -- not sure why, but it may well be that air mattress. I inflated it to a softness that's kind of like a waterbed and I've slept through the night for 4 or 5 nights in a row, so there's no reason I should be tired and cranky.

I think it's all just catching up with me. I'm ready to go. I'm ready for a return to some creature comforts (the summer in the redwoods is going to feel luxurious after this!). I'm ready to pack the car, drop a few boxes at Greyhound en route, and hit the road northwest.


Thursday, April 24, 2014


I should have posted this before, because it's such a great souvenir of my last trip to Bhavana with the two Bhikkhunis (nuns). That's yours truly on the left, Bhante Gunarantana in the middle, Ayya Sudhamma, and Ayya Sobhana. Not the kind of opportunity I'd have had as just a lay visitor -- Ayya Sobhana was behind this one!

This last week is winding down.  Only FIVE days left until my friend arrives from Eugene. The next day, we leave for Oregon. Things still clutter the house, but mostly they are things I want and need for the next few days -- the desk, a lamp and table, refrigerator, washer/dryer, and heater. Most of them have a home awaiting, the rest will go to Goodwill. Now, I get to finish up final details. Today I'm having lunch with an elderly cousin. Tomorrow I need to go to Rome to get the car serviced, my haircut, and a final recycling run. Little things. Mostly, just waiting.

Yesterday I drove into Atlanta to have lunch with a couple who I know through the monthly half-day meditation retreats I attend. I've always known they were a really special pair -- together and individually -- but of necessity our conversations in the past have been of short duration. In the two hours yesterday we all got to know one another better, which makes it even harder to leave them behind. I think they'll come visit -- sure hope so! Alan gave me a lovely book that I can't wait to read, Breakfast with Buddha, and Julie gave me one of the most precious gifts I've ever received in my entire life. I knew there was something she wanted me to take with me -- that was the original point of the lunch -- but when she pulled a beautiful paisley stole from her bag my mouth dropped open, and her words brought tears. She said she could have bought something new for me, but she wanted me to have something of hers that she loved, so that every time I wrap it around me to ward off chills in meditation rooms (or elsewhere) I would know that there is somebody somewhere who loves me. If that's not special, I don't know what is. The stole is exquisite -- but the words are priceless.

Not much to say after that. 

Friday, April 11, 2014

The rest of the story....

First of all, I have to say how good it feels to be home for a few weeks! The travels were all lovely, but still -- there's no place like home, even if that home is a ramshackle mill house whose better days are far in the past.

So -- to the story. The day had begun with a constant downpour as I drove from Greenville to Charlotte in the morning darkness, trying to see the very pale white lane stripes so I'd know where to go. The downpour continued on and off the rest of the morning, and that's probably a good thing because I think rain is part of what made this story have a happy (or at least, happier) ending. Traffic was moving more slowly.

We left Charlotte driving north on Interstate 77. Just before the exit to Troutman, NC (about 35 miles) I noticed the car ahead of me in the right lane (only two lanes) suddenly slow, then pull to the shoulder and stop. There was no traffic ahead of this car, so not understanding why it had pulled over, I slowed, then the traffic in the left lane stopped. Again, no traffic on the pavement within sight ahead, in either lane, so I also slowed. Then -- we saw this huge longhorn cow down on the pavement, mostly in the left lane but straddling both. She (it?) was struggling to stand up and was just inches in front of the bumper of a huge semi-rig. It was a horrible sight to see, not knowing what had happened, assuming the semi had hit the cow (and what was she doing on a fenced off interstate in the first place?).

I was driving two bhikkunis (Buddhist nuns) to a monastery in WV. They immediately began chanting something in Pali for the benefit of the animal. Then, one of them said, "I'm getting out", and both got out to go and protect the cow from further injury by autos. My heart fell into my gut as I watched them do this, but there would be no way to stop them. Buddhists protect all animal life, even longhorn cows on the interstate.

I pulled up behind the first car that had stopped. The cow eventually got to her feet and stood dazed at first. The nuns spoke briefly to the woman in the first car, hollered at me to call 911, then went back to the cow, which fortunately was of a kind and gentle nature and not intent upon harming them. The cow started ambling down the fast lane, with the two nuns following as its protectors. I don't care what your religious views are, nobody is going to run down a pair of orange-robed Buddhist monastics. They are very visible, if nothing else!

I didn't call 911 because I saw that the first woman was already doing so. I got out of the car to double check with her. She told me that the cow fell out of the back of a big truck as it was driving down the freeway. The back door of the truck was open, and the poor creature simply fell out. She was not hit by the truck, or anything else (one of the nuns later told me that the truck was about 12" from the cow). Since I didn't witness it, I can only assume that the truck carrying the cows was at the tail end of a group of cars that had a long clear space behind them. Remember, I couldn't see any vehicles ahead and we had a good long view. This gave the alert trucker time to stop, and the woman ahead of me slowed the other lane. Again, traffic was moving at less than normal freeway speeds because of the rain.

So, I stood with this woman and we watched the bhikkhunis get further and further away from us, leading the now lengthy parade of vehicles behind them. The cow wandered from one side of the road to the other. My heart was still in my gut somewhere, hoping that whatever protection those two women had would stay strong. Eventually, the cow wandered off onto the grassy shoulder on the right, and we moved our cars up the shoulder to that point. Hence the photo above. A few other people randomly stopped to help. I saw a man far ahead get out of a truck at one point, and there seems to be a man in the above photo. The men eventually went on their way, but two other women stopped (one shown above in green jacket) and stayed until it was over, helping.

So -- after the episode on the grass, traffic was again moving but very slowly and cautiously, and the cow decided to head to the grassy median between the north and southbound lanes of the freeway. There was fencing on both sides, but it had gaps and there was the fear that it would escape through onto the southbound lanes through a gap and that would have been the end of the cow as well as possibly some cars and humans.

Between the four women they more or less cornered the cow near a fence on our side. About that time the troopers arrived, smiling. I moved my car up to a gap in the traffic so they could get up the shoulder closer to the action.

So here they are. Troopers had rope in hand, cautiously took a moment to decide how best to get it over those deadly horns and around the animal's neck. Notice one bhikkhuni spreading her arms, using her robes to help keep the cow where she was.

Cow is safely secured and the other end of the rope being tied to the fence by the trooper. So glad this was a calm-natured cow!  She (it?) didn't appear to be hurt, other than some skinned spots on her bony haunches where she hit the pavement. Happy story until this point -- but I'm sure that she was being transported to a slaughterhouse and eventually arrived at that fate.

With the cow secured, the troopers stopped traffic so all four women could safely cross the interstate back to their vehicles. One of the bhikkhunis told the story to a supporter in Charlotte, who called the troopers office and found that a private truck had come and loaded the cow safely.

As the driver, and feeling very responsible for these two women, I breathed a sigh of relief and fervently hoped that this was the only highway incident we'd encounter for the rest of the trip. Fortunately, it was. But it was a tense 15-20 minutes!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


I'm at a very nice EconoLodge in Greenville, SC tonight, heading back home tomorrow. Been a fabulous, and eventful, journey. Not going into details -- I'm tired, people! -- but here's a photo to whet your appetite for a really, really good story!

Shocked this didn't make Twitter -- really! Notice the longhorn cow, the state troopers, and the robes of a Buddhist nun. And remember, I was driving two Buddhist nuns to a monastery!

Think that one over. I'll be back at you later.  :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

The grouch returns

Spectacular waterfall in the forests of North Carolina
Gosh, it's so nice to be home. I say that with great big tongue in cheek because it's never nice to be welcomed by a fast-encroaching line of thunderstorms full of possible tornadoes. Oh, boy. I can't get out of tornado alley fast enough -- just a few more weeks.

If that sounds grouchy, it's because I am. Got home just before midnight, to bed around 1am (too wired after all that driving to go right to bed), didn't sleep for an hour or so and it was fitful for the few hours of opportunity. Got up around 5:30 because I was clearly wide awake and not going back to sleep. So yes, I'm grouchy and groggy.

Helluva weather week in Hot Springs, NC.  The first morning of the retreat we woke up to snow! I walked out around 6:45am to walk to the meditation hall and it was like stepping into another dimension -- a winter wonderland of the kind I've never really seen. There was just enough daylight to see the property, see every tree limb and twig and every fence rail, rooftop, stair rail and other possible surface topped with a couple of inches of fresh snow. Absolutely beautiful beyond words. I wasn't able to get a photo -- didn't want to run back and get the camera, then be late to meditation. It would not have looked good to walk into the hall late and toting a camera. So I had to be content with the memory.

That day turned sunny, but brisk, and the snow melted fairly quickly.  Then, a few days of warm sunshine, shirtsleeve weather in the 70s. Then, yesterday morning we awoke to rain, which turned to thunderstorms during early meditation and the hail at just the exact moment we had to leave the hall to walk back to the lodge for breakfast! Didn't last long, but gave us a very slippery surface to walk on until we got down the wooden stairs to the gravel. And then, another warm, sunny day. Crazy!

So -- have a couple of errands to run this morning, then plan to just veg out in front of the computer and catch up with some tv shows I've missed this past week. Or something. Because Sunday, I have to turn around and do it all again -- albeit to a different place. About 660 miles on this trip -- probably double that on the one that's upcoming. But indeed, I'm looking forward to it.