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Master Plan June 6, 2016

Fourteen month ago (aka: April 2015, about two months into my recovery from death) I contrived a ‘master plan’ with a multi-prong purpose. Aside from the obvious of getting my affairs in order, I set my sights on recreating my life; making my surroundings most amenable to me; doing things I always wanted (but never had time) to do.

Thus the necessity to ‘clear the decks’, take stock, and renegotiate (with myself) what is ‘important’ to me… and what is not. Which, as I have pursued various means of ‘downsizing’, has provoked me to ponder the proverbial question: “What’s it all about?”

Why do we ‘do’ whatever we do? What makes one thing more interesting or important or worthwhile than another? And what it all comes down to for me is that once you have the comfort of a decent place to live and the security of knowing that you may reside there for as long as you wish and will always have sufficient nourishment, the only thing that makes anything truly worthwhile is feeling the warm-fuzzies that flow from convivial companionship.

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Front entrance to the artisan workshop and gallery that my daughter and I put together so we could ‘yard sale’ our trash & treasure .

And for these last many months I have had the joy of working with my youngest daughter on a (HUGE) project: to de-clutter, reorganize and convert my backyard garage (pictured above) into the artisan workshop and gallery I’ve dreamed of since the day we moved to this household a decade ago.

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Our yard sales have become popular with our neighbors who often consign clothing, books, and housewares to our yard sale.

We closed the shop over the winter, but reopened this past Sunday (June 5, 2016).

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Our newly reorganized yard sale shop.

Though I know it may not look like it, the way we now have things set up, the left side of the above area now rather easily converts to 8′ x 12′ artisan workshop with workbench including table saw (not pictured) which are along the left wall, behind the hanging clothes.

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Fancy dishware, athletic bags, home furnishings, hair curlers, school desks and gift baskets are among the ever-changing processional of oddities, goodies, and collectibles that parade through our gallery.

My daughter has dubbed the shop “Shaundeli” — and you can see more of the stuff we offer on our Facebook Page. We are planning now for the 4th of July weekend and invite you to come by for a visit and maybe to join us in a game of horsehoes…!!!

Because, like I said, it’s really all and only about the warm-fuzzies… <smile>

Anyway, the following pic is of the completed dinette-booth I created in the mid-cabin of my RV, which I initially set-up about 3 weeks ago save for the detailing, ie: since then I have fabricated and installed a ‘trim & support’ edge for the clear plastic tabletop, covered the (ugly green) cooler with a fabric skirt (which you cannot see in the pic), added a decorative (but durable) cover to the seat cushion, and topped it all off with a nifty decorative pillow.

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My mid-cabin dinette.

So… it looks like I am ready for lunch on the road…!!! Now, to figure out just where I want to go…

Anyway, my Japan Chronicles shall continue next time with our visit to Hasedera Temple..(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

 

 

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Japan Chronicles: The Great Buddha May 28, 2016

Filed under: EDITORIAL,EN ROUTE,GOD,JAPAN CHRONICLES — gozarks @ 2:57 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I took over a hundred pics of the gardens, statuary and structures that are the Hasedera Temple and the Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple, both of which are in the port town of Kamakura, population 175,000, which is about 6 miles (as the crow flies) north west of Yokosuka, where we stayed with my youngest son.

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Kamakura, home to many Buddhist temples and gardens, is (as best I remember) about an hour’s commuter train-ride from Yokosuka.

Our day touring the temples started with a walk along Blue Street to the train station, about which I must say that Japan’s public transportation system is highly efficient, clean, modern and provided my introduction to ‘heated toilet seats’…!!!

It also provided very easy access to all the places we visited, fairly inexpensively.

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One of the few times on public transport that we were able to sit together… and as you can see, we were all elated with the experience <lol>!!!

The down side, however, is that the physical capacity (ie: available seating) on trains and busses is routinely filled beyond the max, thus making for (shoulder-to-shoulder) standing room only… which is especially challenging when ‘trying’ to stay together as a group –and/or- carrying several bags of groceries or luggage.

Thus to a Michigan girl like me, born and raised in the land of FoMoCo, there will never be anything quite as comfortable and convenient as my own private automobile… Unless <ahem> it is my own private RV… <smile>… but I digress.

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The Great Buddha is nearly 40 ft. tall and weighs roughly 121 tons.

The courtyard surrounding The Great Buddha – a national treasure cast in copper by priestly fundraising efforts and anonymous artisan hands back in 1252 – is open for visitors to stroll at their leisure. Formally known as ‘The Seated Buddha Amida Noyorai’ and also by the familiar name Daibutusu, The Great Buddha is the principle deity of the Kotoku-in Temple.

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The child standing at the base of The Great Buddha gives you some idea of the grand scale of this magnificent work of art.

As much now (if not more?) a cultural (tourist) attraction as a pilgrimage and worship site, visitors of various denominations bask in the sublime poise of ancient arte-factual antiquity, dappled like a stone-hewn canvas with colorful bursts of fragrant blossoms and lush greenery.

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Beauty, simplicity, endurance hewn of stone.

When first built, The Great Buddha was enshrined in a hall, but over the course of a few hundred years the building was damaged and ultimately destroyed by two typhoons and an earthquake. Since 1498 The Great Buddha sits in the open-air Kotoku-in Temple, visited by vast numbers of Buddhists of all sects from around the world and all over Japan who come to pay their respects and invoke the wisdom taught by the Jodo Sect of the Kotoku-in Temple: “To liberate all beings.”

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The courtyard is awash with glorious blossoms.

According to Jodo teaching, one only needs to chant the phrase “Namu Amida Butsu” (I take refuge in Amitabha Buddha) to be liberated from the karmic wheel of ‘good vs evil’ and reborn in the ‘pure’ land, aka: Nirvana. Aka: Happiness.

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Tucked back in a side-pocket of the courtyard: this old well with a bamboo cover, strung together (I imagine) much as such would have been ‘way back when.’

All of which (and the following several photos) I’ll leave you with this time around, noting that of the hundred pics initially mentioned, today I managed to go through about a third of them, selected those that I wanted to use, set-up and photographed the last image you’ll see below, then cropped, resized, color- and contrast-corrected, resolution-optimized, uploaded and published the batch…

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Have you ever seen a tree-crutch quite like this…???

Also noting that, obviously, I have yet to travelogue the photos from Hasedera Temple (which shall be forthcoming next time around) and all the while reflecting on the ‘sacred truth’ of Buddhism as nicely articulated by Debra Maxwell in a comment posted to this Youtube of the Buddhist “Heart Sutra” Chant

“To know the truth of life, to make your life a meditation, you don’t need to shave your head, go to a cave or chant.”

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Many who entered the temple washed their hands with water dipped from a ceremonial cleansing station.

As I would say, just think of every breath, thought and action of your life as ‘sacred’ <smile>… Mainly because you are and thus it is… (((hugs))) ~Christine

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The ornate dragon cast in the stately work of art speaks to the Mystic Law and Celestial Magic of Enlightened Devas in Nirvana.

 

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The pronounced circle in the center of The Great Buddha’s forehead is representative of an enlightened being’s ‘third eye’ which sees through the superficiality of matter to the heart of the invisible from which pure love, sublime peace and blissful pleasure emanate.

 

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I got this key-chain with the tiny bell on it (symbol of Buddha’s voice which sustains the order of the universe by powers that come from within the devotee’s own life) at the gift shop on the grounds of The Great Buddha Kotoku-in Temple. Also got the ‘smudge stick’ there and, of course, the admission ticket. The sweet elephant change-purse came from a shop along the way from one temple to another in Kamakura.

 

 

Japan Chronicles: Homecoming May 2, 2016

Some of the best advice I ever got was “Start with the End in Mind.” It came, as I recall, from a management training program I attended back in the 1970’s. And, truth be told, to fully appreciate the reality of my present moment, we would have to go back that far and stroll through what all I’ve experienced since (and even prior to) then… and you would also have to be sitting next to me right now, in my bedroom, ensconced through big-window glory by a lush variegation of sun-dappled forest green with the lighthearted hymn of my tiny brook babbling in the background.

ASIDE: Did you know that, as new historians (an oxymoron?) now tell it, the first published author and also the first known person to utilize the phrase “I am” in print – which was a total linguistic anomaly at that time – was a woman. A high priestess, to be exact, who wielded more political clout in her day than did Karl Rove during GW’s administration. But don’t take my word for it… have a gander at “The Ascent of Woman” the next time you Netflix.

Back to the moment, at least for me (as I write), this space/time of here-in-now is pretty-damn perfect: I sit in my grandmother’s old rocking chair (that I reupholstered a few months back), tiny laptop (atop an old – 1930’s? – folding table) at my fingertips, immersed in the stunning beauty of nature, surrounded by an array of (what to me are) interesting, comfortable and somewhat unique accouterments of daily life, sipping fresh coffee (laced with just a touch of Irish Cream <smile>), fresh off a two week sojourn in Japan.

RANDOM NOTE: Add imaginary echo here, in a child-like girlish voice to replicate the lilt of my youngest daughter, Shawna, who is nearing 23, repeating the word as a cadenced mantra — “Japan… Japan, Japan, Japan… J-a-p-a-n” – which grew with daily intensity as we packed and prepared for the trip.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together in our 'trip of a lifetime' family vacation in Japan.

Adam (29), Josh (24), Shalom (27) and Shawna (22), siblings together on our family vacation in Japan.

And the two glorious weeks that we were together there, on a family-outing ‘trip of a lifetime’ were by even my most self-indulgent standards, saturated with decadent luxuries that gave great gobs of simple-pleasures to all involved. Truly amazing on so many levels, rippling through every dimension of life, and for which I am deeply thankful and tremendously appreciative of the good will and generosity of my children, without whom I would not have been able to make this trip… and who (for the most part <smile>) treated me like a queen and endured my persnickety ways with loving good grace and aplomb…

Thank you Adam, Shalom, Josh and Shawna for everything that each of you did to make our time together in Japan so phenomenally enjoyable. And thank you Patty (my eldest)… though you could not join us in Japan, we know you were with us in spirit…

Breakfast, prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son's apartment.

Breakfast — scrambled eggs with two kinds of tiny mushrooms and cheese and garnished with fresh (celery-like) greens, accompanied by pan-fried potatoes and onions and a warm buttered roll — prepared by my darling daughters and served al fresco to me on the back porch of my youngest son’s apartment as I did my morning computering.

Tales about all of which – from the nightmare of our flight getting there, to our day touring Buddhist temples and including the gastronomical and shopping delights we encountered along our way, I shall relate in dazzling detail  with more splendid photos in coming weeks… <grin>.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were in a 9-story shopping and food mall on in Yokosuka.

Posters are everywhere in the city. These were just a few of those that bedecked the hallways of a 9-story shopping and food mall in Yokosuka.

Right now, however, carrying forward the present moment and having elucidated the background harmony which carries the happy tune of my life, perhaps and hopefully you have sensed a glimmer of the awes and wonders that resonate in my little universe… the place where I live… the space where I make my home. And the profound joy that I feel just sitting here, absorbing the moment… super-saturated with the activity of simply being alive. Feeling so tremendously gratified to have — oh, so many years ago — started raising my family with the their successful adulthood clearly in mind.

Anyway, in the scope of my continuing present moments, I see some yard-work in my immediate future.

NOTE: It is phenomenally good to be home.

My youngest son, Josh, with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh's honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us...!!! More about this as my Japan Chronicles unfold...!!! His superiors were VERY complimentary of Josh and also very appreciative that we (his family members) were present for the ceremony because it is such a rarity to have a sailor's kin present for such events. We each were given an official Certificate of Appreciation from the Navy, signed by the Captain of his ship, to thank us for our support of Josh's service to the Navy. And the officers, senior enlisted crew members and his peers were all HUGELY complimentary of Josh... saying to me personally what an outstanding person he is, how great he is to work with and how appreciative they are of having him around.

My youngest son, Josh (front row, 4th from the right), with some of his shipmates and friends, who assembled in Josh’s honor at a local park (in the background is the retired Japanese battleship Mikasa, now a tourist attraction) for his Honorable Discharge and Reenlistment Ceremony, which he was totally secretive about and came as a complete surprise to the rest of us…!!! More about this and lots more good news next time, as my Japan Chronicles unfold…!!!

(((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Sunshine March 15, 2016

So-o-o-o… landscaping skies returned today <smile>… and greeted my freshly manicured front entry…

The sidewalk to my front door.

The sidewalk to my front door.

Next on my list here, I’d like to paint the front steps. At one time they were covered with indoor/outdoor carpeting, but it was old and ugly and a couple of years ago I pulled it up and have been wanting to do something with the steps ever since, but just didn’t know what. Now that we have decided to get a new roof, I have decided that I will match the color of the front steps to it — after it is installed.

This is my 'utility yard'... it's to the west of my house.

This is my ‘utility yard’… it’s to the west of my house.

My ‘utility yard’ — so named because the door to my laundry room (around the corner) opens onto it, there is a clothes line strung above central green patch, and it is where we will eventually have a propane tank installed when we replace the electric range with gas — is a good example of how my wildflower gardens and meandering paths come together to create less maintenance work. The leaf-mulched areas in the  foreground and background the of the pic are flowerbeds and take advantage of seasonal leaf-fall (of which there is a lot) by using it in the area where it naturally occurs as mulch for beds within that area… thus eliminating the need to transport it someplace else… and reducing the area to be raked and mowed by 75%.

The ground around this downspout was low.

The ground around this downspout was low.

As you can see in the pic above, the area where water runs-off from this downspout had eroded, leaving a low spot. Not good. Water must flow AWAY from the foundation <grin>… And so my ‘big’ project today was to build-up the ground and reinstall the run-off stones.

Same area after a bit of TLC.

Same area after a bit of TLC. No more low spot. Happy run-off…!!!

Also, though I have no pics of it, my darling daughter Shawna and I were, over the weekend, able to get the potable water system in “Louise” de-winterized and working fine. Ah-h-h-h-h… a few more small steps toward being ready for road-tripping this summer…!!! (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

 

Maiden Voyage: Lift off. October 2, 2015

My first excursion in Louise was like cruising the universe on a rogue moon.

Having quantum-leaped free from the gravitational jurisdiction of my native solar system, Friday last I set course for St Louis and the flux was on <smile>.

Aiming to be off the launchpad between 8am and 9am, completing the pre-escape checklist took a bit longer than anticipated, partly because I kept thinking of specialty tools that would make life more comfortable at all of the little stops along the way.

The item last grabbed at 10am as I shared mega-hugs with eldest son, Adam, was our family’s old campfire-soot-stained 8-cup percolator.

“You know, that wouldn’t be here for you to take if I hadn’t rescued it from Sassafras,” he chided.

I smiled at him, over my shoulder, reflecting backward with uber warm-fuzzies on the last time the percolator was used, on a family camping trip, fifteen years ago, to a nook in a cranny of the Ozark Mountains that we named SassafrasWilds.

Then finally, with the turn of a key and the engine purring like a quick-witted tiger on the prowl, five years of hoping, dreaming, wishing and navigating through the passage of my off-springs’s young-adulthood and my liberating emancipation from the work-a-day world to that stage of life we call ‘retirement’, I was cruising.

Wow… What a hoot!!!

Time of arrival at friend Vicki’s abode, where I was to backyard boondock for a couple of nights and which the google-gods calculated to be 346 miles north-northeast of my start, was estimated at 3pm to 4pm.

In fact, according to Louise’s instrument panel, we logged 354 miles portal-to-portal, with no digression from route. And for those (like me) who care about such things, Louise got just a hair over 13mpg on this first leg of our journey, which was all on U.S. Hwy. or Interstate with many long and sometimes steep grades.

Coupled with my penchant to ‘take things slow and easy’ (average speed was 60-ish) and my self-awarded liberty to stop whenever the spirit so moves me, actual travel time was 10 hours… which included 1 stop to check tire pressure and fuel-up right after leaving home, and one to refuel along the way, plus several to just to get out of the driver’s seat, have a snack, stretch my legs and take a potty break.

Truly, for me, an enchanted way to travel.

Chumming with Vicki – who I met at a conference which she coordinated in 2011 — was grand. Our friendship was seeded by our respective independent advocacy work on issues pertinent to social justice, professional accountability, individual equality, civic well-being and family health — my personal role in which has mainly been that of journalist: reporting on programs, events and activities being forwarded by various organizations that, in my cultured opinion, deserve to make print, and sometimes volunteering as the communications director or public relations person with organizations that are doing what I see as critical work in the fostering of healthy, happy, vibrant communities.

In this instance, my test-run with Louise included piggybacking my penchant for advocacy with my desire to travel and visit family and friends. To find out, experientially, how capable I am to maintain the pace requisite multiple consecutive days on the road, including the doing of routine operations (like dumping the tanks and hooking-up shore power) plus the daily housekeeping of my mobile mini-mansion, while at the same time driving upto to 300 miles a day -and- doing the things that I actually want to do.

Thus for two days Vicki and I dug into the subject matter of the organization she now serves as president: Women Against Registry, aka: WAR.

Our first task was to draft some written copy for new brochure to succinctly articulate the organization’s purpose which, in a nutshell, is to insist that society look at and do something about the harm being done to whole families and most especially to young children, by laws that were – with the best of intentions – intended to protect everyone.

A tenet I personally find to be too true in too many aspects of our great nation’s justice system today.

Thus a good measure of the time that Vicki and I shared – reaching back to include several months of email correspondence — was given to detailing plans for an envisioned conference that we’ve lovingly dubbed JAKE, which stands for Justice, Accountability, Knowledge, Equality… and which to us, sorta says all of everything about what we want life to be all about for everyone, all of the time… just and fair, with each of us accountable for our own actions being grounded in an understanding of the complex dynamics of social interaction and thus resonant with the quality of respect amplified by the tenet, “Do unto others what you would have others do unto you.”

So, there you have it… <smile> Phase one of my weeklong test run went great. Louise operated fabulously well on self-contained systems from Friday morning through early Monday afternoon, when I checked in for our first night together in a real RV park… my experience of which will I shall elaborate upon soon….

Until next time, (choose to) be the peace, love and joy that makes the world a friendlier, happier, healthier place for everyone… especially yourself… because you (and all of us) deserve it. (((hugs))) ~Christine

 

Note to guys June 14, 2012

It is not okay, in terms of ‘guy talk’, to accuse someone you (supposedly) care about of ‘bitching at you’…. unless she actually did, in which case you would be well advised to abandon the relationship because, to be brutally honest, the only ‘relationship’ that exists is a disabling co-dependency.

People who have respect for each other — which is the only bedrock upon which true affection may be built — do not say things like this to or about each other, especially not behind each other’s backs. And yes, dear ladies, this goes for you too. 

People who have respect for each other do not accuse each other of being ‘insane’, because people who have true affection for each other actually listen to what the other person is saying and hear it with an intent to plainly understand and a heart-felt desire to get to know what makes the other person tick; what ‘lights their fire’ (intellectually speaking); what rankles them -and- what they enjoy, ie: how they wish to be treated; what they adore.

People who have respect for each other do not accuse, infer, imply or proclaim to uninvolved ‘third parties’ that the person they (supposedly) love is a liar or a failure or is somehow the sole and perpetual fault of every problem that has ever befallen the accuser.

People who have respect for each other don’t shift blame or point fingers but look first to re-mediate their own personal shortcomings at no one’s expense save their own, and then to reach out with affection to explore how differences may be amicably, collaborative, cooperatively and beneficially resolved.

And people who have respect for themselves, who do truly love others, who strive to bring honor, grace and dignity to all that they touch and every life that shares reality with them, when they encounter people who routinely violate the covenants set-forth above, are not worth bothering about and deserve to be told plainly that such conduct is intolerable and thus hence forth you will be ignoring them out of the space-time continuum known as your life… (((hugs)))

 

enemies February 23, 2012

 The following came to my Inbox compliments of Simon Black, author of Soverign Man, who (if you take what he says at face value) makes a good living out of telling people what’s wrong with government, the economy, health care, the media, banking and finance, foreign policy, etc., etc., and so on… and then selling them his version of ‘the answer’.

Please, do observe:

The war you won’t hear about in the media

There’s a war going on that you’ll never hear about on the nightly news.

This war poses, by far, the largest immediate threat to you, your family and your future well-being.

And provided you take no action to protect yourself, this war could very well alter the quality of your life forever.

But this war is not being fought against some unseen enemy on the far side of the globe.

This war, dear reader, is being fought against you.

You are the enemy.

Your way of life is the enemy. And your belief in your freedom to live that life as you see fit is in the cross hairs of a government desperate to maintain the status quo.

Your freedom is being destroyed. But it’s happening slowly so as not to stir the masses hypnotized by their TV and video game lifestyle.

During the collapse of an empire, freedom doesn’t disappear in a blink. As we can all see by the events around us, it disappears very slowly. Little by little, laws are enacted that remove it.

One day, there’s nothing left.

That’s the point at which people will wake up and start to freak out.

The goal of this message is to make sure YOU are not one of those people.

[sales pitch removed]

To your sovereign freedom,

Simon Black

Word-crafted rhetoric, homed to an invisibly transparent purpose, parsed with precision pronouncements all pitching to do one job: Sell a product.

Simon has something he wants you (anybody, somebody) to purchase. He wants to trade something he has for something you’ve got. 

His singularity is motivating you to ‘buy’ and he is using every manner of logic and persuasive (gravitational) cunning to pull you across his event horizon, punctuating each participle to stress every adverb that will help close the deal. 

Such is the distilled essence of all that we call ‘capitolism’, which — some would say — is the backbone of healthy free-market economies and the bedrock of global prosperity and peace. So, we wonder, why does Simon chronically tell us ‘how bad things are’ and blast us with info about why things are not working, and then offer to ‘sell’ us his ready-made solution for precluding such woes lest they befall us, ‘the enemy’, ourselves. 

That is, if Simon really does have a solution — a better way of doing things than free-market exchange — why isn’t he giving (yes giving) all of us a free lesson in the subject-matter. Why isn’t he — having (supposedly) found ‘the way to a better life’ — explaining this passage, step-by-step; handing out ‘maps’ out of the goodness of his heart? 

Does it matter…???

What do you think… Lemme know. 

“America: Love it or fix it…”

(((hugs)))