Friday, January 14, 2022


In the creating the two native habitats in previous homes I was a stickler for using only natives: a purest attitude, so to speak, of only natives. Since living in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and falling in love with some of the natives in that part of our country, my stance of having an unadulterated garden of natives has now been relaxed. I so miss living in Santa Fe, so to abate some of the grief I am bringing some of Santa Fe to my gardens here in Cotati.

In the 1980's when visiting Apple Valley, California, I saw a Desert Willow in bloom. I fell in love with the gorgeous flowers. This tree is native to the desert Southwest so many thrived in the Santa Fe area where we lived. Plants of the Southwest had these in 5 gallon containers. I bought and planted two; one was planted just outside of our 1950's Stamm home's sliding backdoor. 

September 06, 2020
The Desert Willow "bush"
planted outside
our sliding backdoor. 

Close up the flowers.
This is a cultivar.

December 30, 2020 Desert Willow pruned to be a tree.

The second one was planted outside of the double black wrought iron gate near the adobe wall. These trees grow pretty quickly so after the first year, there were flowers. I have planted two on the West side of our house here in Cotati. These two were much smaller than those purchased at the Plants of the Southwest so I am not holding my breath for the glorious blooms!

Picture taken on May 29, 2018, at the
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico.
These native tree blossoms are paler.
The flowers on the tree planted outside 
of the wrought iron gate are this color. 
Notice the seed pods, so like that of the Catalpa tree

The other nonnative plant now flourishing in the back yard near the finch feeder is Rocky Mountain Penstemons. I planted about a dozen of them in our front yard in Santa Fe. In the Fall the tall seed stocks were covered with goldfinches hoping up and down the seed stocks scarfing up all the tiny black seeds. Since we have a plethora of goldfinches coming to their feeder filled with nyger seeds, I thought they might delight in  penstemon seeds too? 

Rocky Mountain (Penstemon strictus)


Chocolate Flower (Berlandiera lyrata)

pictured above flowering in June of 2020 at
the San Felipe Circle native habitat. 

I have seeds on order from Plants of the Southwest. I plan to germinate a few of the seeds so I can grow these Chocolate Flowers. Yes indeed the flowers smell like chocolate.

Since Dwight enjoys Japanese maples and one is growing in our front, I decided to leave it. During the Winter months it is especially wonderful to look out and see the stunning red branches. These made a stunning backdrop for holiday lights and straw ornaments tied on with red yard.

The tall, and I mean tall, hedge (pictured above) along the Eastern side of our back patio blocks people living in the apartments next door from seeing into our back yard and library. My intention when we moved in was to remove this hedge. Friends who visit and sat at our patio table for meals vociferously voiced, "leave it." So leave it I have. I am now grateful that I listened to such sage advice.

All the while I garden I frequently 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Helpful Perspective

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

A New Year: 2022

 Prayer for the New Year: Roshi Joan Halifax

May we realize that this earth is sacred and live accordingly.
May the suffering arising from oppression, hatred, and fear be righted and remedied.
May all those in the grips of insecurity be released to the safety of understanding.
May those weighed down by grief be given over to compassion.
May those lost in delusion find relief in the path of wisdom.
May all wounds to forests, rivers, deserts, oceans, all wounds to the earth be witnessed and healed through our right action.
May we work for the ending of suffering from consumerism, the climate catastrophe, war, economic disparity, racism, sexual violence, and the abuse of children. 
May those in refugee camps and prisons find their way home, with our support. 
May those who are alone or abandoned by friends and family, and those who are unsheltered find a safe and loving harbor in community. 
May we give ourselves time for practice with each other and in the solitudes, to be taught by sangha and by silence, so that we have the courage and equanimity to be a source of love and wisdom for all beings.
May we all have the health, wisdom, and energy to serve in the years ahead. 
May all awaken and awaken others.

And may each and everyone of us as we enter this new year (where???? did 2021 go???) partake throughout the year in a frequent cleansing

Great Message


An East Coast friend forwarded this to me a few days ago. I thought "marvelous"!
So I want to share with all of you through a blog post.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Nature's Ornaments

"It is our quiet time.

We do not speak, because the voices are within us.

It is our quiet time.

We do not walk, because the earth is all within us.

It is our quiet time.

 We do not dance, because the music has lifted us 

to a place where the spirit is.

It is our quiet time. 

We rest with all of nature.

We wake when the seven sisters wake.

We greet them in the sky over the opening of the kiva.”

            NANCY WOODS

Although I am not a fan of persimmons to eat, I am ever so pleased by these "nature's ornaments" adorning bare trees. They are as beautiful, perhaps more so, than any holiday ornaments created by humans. Walking about our neighborhood one notices these trees with her stunning luscious orange ornaments. How could one not?

Winter Solstice greetings to each of you wondrous BEings as we negotiate, once again burgeoning COVID-19 cases. The culprit this time is the highly contagious Omicron variant of the virus. 

We all are asking how to celebrate the holidays in the safest way possible. I hear of so many cancelling previously made plans to fly for gathering with distant family members and friends, and questioning when will each and every one of us be free to resume our once previously familiar lives. From my perspective I am highly doubtful that will happen any time soon, if ever. 

Sporting events as well as other events happening in big spaces are either having the number of attendees radically decreased or events halted altogether. The Warriors, my very favorite basketball team ever, recently sent home their top players to avoid a possible detainment in Canada related to COVID. WHEW! The entire team is now back together in San Francisco. They are ready to play in their own Arena for two games before hitting the road again. 

The predictions are that the virus will hang around well into 2024. 

Me . . . I think each of us individually might as well figure out how to live as safely as possible with this virus. And now "at this quiet time" go inward for rest. ZOOM for family and friend connections if one want to BE with others. If one is with others, wear double masks and social distance. Where have we heard this before?

And perhaps the singularly most valuable tool is frequently engaging in a whole hearted belly

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Joy Filled Winter Solstice

'"Always maintain only a joyful mind.
—Lojong Slogan 21

Shasta seems to generally "maintain . . . a joyful mind."

The Winter Solstice is quickly approaching. It is also know as Yule and is the astronomical first day of Winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

"Light is Returning" by Starhawk:

"The Darkest Night Approaches

Solstice, Yule: the longest night and shortest day approaches. We have entered into the darkness, but just as it grows to its greatest extent, the light is reborn. This is a time to celebrate all that warms us and gives us hope. There is much reason to hope and celebrate, as well as so many reasons to feel pain right now.

These are times of extremes, but Solstice reminds us that the greatest darkness contains the seed of light—as, on the opposite pole of the year, the triumph of light begins the descent toward the dark.

The world is dynamic, not static; the wheel is ever-turning."

It is the time of the year to naturally go inward. The Winter Solstice is also an opportunity to joyfully celebrate. 

Dwight and I joyfully decorating
the Japanese maple tree that
has shed her leaves, leaving
bare red branches which invite
holiday decorations and lights.
Leigh, who was here visiting from
Seattle, and Dwight put up
lights. Above, we are hanging
the straw ornaments I purchased 
on the San Antonio, Texas,
Riverwalk when my parents
were visiting from Iowa.

One way to begin this season is to turn one's attention to his/her body. The below practice of turning the mind toward the body by Joan Halifax is one way of doing so. 

"Turning the Mind toward the Body

Breathe deeply into your belly, letting your body feel open and safe.

Now bring your attention to your scalp.

As thoughts arise, just let them be.

Move your attention to your temples and forehead.

As you breathe in, let your temples and forehead feel open and soft.

Breathe into your eyes and let them soften.

As you breathe out, let go of all hardness in and around your eyes.

Bring awareness to your ears.

Breathing in fully, open your ears.

Exhaling, feel grateful for being able to listen and bear witness.

Bring your awareness to your mouth. 

On your inhalation bring a slight smile to your mouth.

On your exhalation feel yourself letting go of any tension in your face.

Gently move your awareness to your throat and neck.

Breathe into your neck and throat and breathe out gratitude.

With your awareness on your shoulders, breathe into your shoulders, letting go of any burdens you might be carrying.

Let your awareness be in your arms and hands.

There is nothing that you need to hold on to.

Shift your awareness to your spine, letting it stretch with your inbreath.

Feel the strength of your spine on your outbreath.

Bring your attention to your chest and lungs.

Breathe deeply into your lungs.

Now breathe into your heart and be aware of any tightness in and around your heart.

Feel your heart open, as it trusts your attention and your breath.

Bring your attention to your stomach, bowels, bladder, and reproductive organs.

Give your entire pelvic area a feeling of space and ease.

Be aware of your legs.

Breathe into your legs as you settle your attention into them.

Breathing out, let your legs soften.

Breathe into your feet, aware of any tension in your feet.

To complete this practice, slowly, gently, and smoothly bring your awareness from your feet to your legs; to your pelvic area; to your chest, heart, and lungs; to your spine; to your shoulders, arms, and hands; to your neck; to your face; to the top of your head.

Breathe in and out smoothly as your awareness travels up and through your body.

When you have reached the top of your head, return your awareness to your breath, then let it gently spread to your whole body.

Take a few moments to relax with an open and quiet mind."

                                                                                    Roshi Joan Halifax

In the distant past, while attending gi gong practice in San Francisco, we also engaged in this movement to shift our attention from outward directed to inward. Cathie's teachers, Charlotte and Da-Jin Sun, now reside at their Daoist hermitage located in Moscow,Idaho. We are exceptionally grateful to them for our two month long, life changing trips to China with them.

Sunrise at Bosque del Apache viewing the take off of the Sandhill Cranes
in search of food throughout the Middle Rio Grande Valley.

Another way to celebrate with joy is to venture out into the wilds. Here we can often experience the joy of other living BEings. Above is a picture we took when doing so while living in New Mexico. At Bosque del Apache, a National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, New Mexico, one can feast one's eyes on upon thousands of Sandhill Cranes who spend their nights in the water to protect themselves from predators. Before our extended (almost 4 years) "vacation" in Santa Fe, we had gone to the Central Valley in California to view the Sandhill Cranes. While seeing the cranes was exciting, the setting was not nearly as spectacular as that near San Antonio. I feel immense joy just remembering the outing with my husband and I and Shasta, who of course had to stay in the car so not to scare the resting birds.

This year, as had been our tradition before living in Santa Fe, we went into  the National Forest North of Bridgeport, California on our return home trip, to cut our Yule tree and a small one for Auntie T as well. The picture above shows Dwight securing the trees on the roof rack as Shasta enjoys the smells of the high Sierra Mountains desert.

Our small by previous standards but gorgeous Pinyon Pine is decorated as you can see in the night time picture below. The tree's luscious smell wafts through our home . . . delicious for many senses!

And may we all find time to rest for deep rejuvenation for each and everyone of us. Shasta is such a good model of resting as the picture of her below in her doorless crate demonstrates:

As we all frequently get caught up in the dither of the holiday season, may we take time for a cleansing of our emotions with a 

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Mono Lake

Sad, sad, sad; overwhelmed with sadness as we drove along Highway 50 East of Placerville where the Caldor fire, the 15th largest in the state of California, raged this summer past. Seeing all of the old, old, old trees burned was just heart wrenchingly devastating.  The travel through the area is slow as crews are cleaning up and logging trees, so ample opportunity to BE with the ravaging of the landscape. 

In spite of the delays on Highway 50 we arrived in Bridgeport, the home of the stately county courthouse where we were married.

Much of the town is now shuttered. 
The effects of the sequestering during the pandemic? Or houses and businesses have just been forever vacated? Or just shut down for the Winter? Luckily the library is open and we were free to check out books which we did. It is so much easier to find the best reads here than within the Sonoma County library system where, of course, the demand is far greater.

The view of Mono Lake 
hiking the trail from South Lee Vining
to the Visitors' Center.

Another view of Mono Lake
hiking along Lee Vining Creek
towards the Visitors' Center.

Lee Vining Creek
which has so much less water
than usual because of the
severe drought.
We noticed many of the older
and larger sagebrush
are dying from the severe drought.

Mono Lake Committee mission statement: "The Mono Lake Committee is a non-profit citizens' group dedicated to protecting and restoring the Mono Basin ecosystem, educating the public about Mono Lake and the impacts on the environment of excessive water use, and promoting cooperative solutions that protect Mono Lake and meet real water needs without transferring environmental problems to other areas."  

We delight in donating to this endeavor, which is close to our hearts, that does such stellar work safe guarding this treasure, Mono Lake .                                                                                                        

Hiking from Doc & Al's Resort

to amidst the aspen trees

and up into the Ponderosa pines
looking Southward towards the
Sawtooth Mountains.
On Shasta's way back to Stella, our Prius,
she found a deer bone which was
pretty fresh and cracked, probably
gifted to her by a Mountain Lion.
As she pick up the bone, she thought "a very tasty treat."

Returning to Stella with Shasta carrying her treasure.

The rock pile in Lundy Canyon where we have 
culled gorgeous rocks for our gardens.

Shasta checking out all of the good smells
while we search for just the "perfect" rocks to place in our Cotati garden.

The view towards the Sierras
from the rock pile.

The beaver dam and beaver on the Walker River,
which meanders along side of the 
Walker River Lodge
where we stayed in Bridgeport for the last time.

A beaver swimming 
in the river just below their dam.

The sign on the West side of 
LeeVining Creek.
We love hiking along the road
parallel to Mono Lake.

Shasta enjoying running along the road away from Lee Vining Creek.
She had such a great time with her freedom from a leash.
She is us
ually a good dog to come when called. 
If she does not respond, a treat will bring her running.

The North view of Mono Lake
taken from the end of the 
boardwalk from the County Park

Shasta, with visible tufa in the background, 
on the boardwalk in the
Mono Lake Tufa State Natural Reserve 
County Park
where over the many years we have
spent time in Cathie's most favorite place (Mono Lake)
on Mother Earth.

Our week long respite from our arduous year past of relocating from Santa Fe and back to Sonoma County, California, was topped off with a familiar event. On our way home we ventured out into the National Forest to the North of Bridgeport. 

Here in this stunning beauty depicted above, we cut a Pinyon pine for our annual holiday tree; markedly smaller than any previous. We also, as is our tradition, cut a small one for Shasta's Auntie T which she already picked up and transported to her home in Point Reyes Station.

As we settle back into our Cotati home preparing for the holiday season please join us in a hardy