Tag Archives: Lao Tzu

One balmy day was all I needed.

We came out of church last Friday evening and the wind was blowing warm. It was the softest… Blow and blow it did through the night, knocking down leaves and branches and clumps of mistletoe, banging my garden gate.

Saturday morning I walked on the bike path and it was the happiest, friendliest neighborhood walk I’ve experienced in two years. Many many people and no masks, so you could take in their smiles and their open faces turning this way and that to say “Good morning!” to everyone… Whole families on bicycles and dozens of dogs on leashes. I’m sure that in all my decades of walking that route people have never before been that happy in an outward direction.


When I got home from my walk, and was not driven indoors by any sort of chill, I wandered the back yard and saw that the manzanita buds are out. My row of Stir-Fry Mix greens needed thinning, and because of the sun shining and all, I did it then and there. I took the thinnings in and washed them immediately in the sink. Springtime energy in January!

Recently I had the only tree on my property trimmed to please the neighbors, over whose back yard most of the tree’s mass hangs threateningly. It is a tall Canary Island Pine and my late husband and I have resisted several times outside pressure to just cut it down. I tried to take a flattering picture but there is no way to do that, because it is a gangly thing.

Our book group chose Silas Marner to read over the next four weeks. I could not find my old paperback that I last read probably 15-20 years ago, but tucked behind the trim of the bookcase I found this smallish volume:

It was my grandmother’s school book! She was probably reading it in about 1910 in Winona Lake, Indiana where she grew up. I did not remember seeing it before, though I am sure I was the one who put it on the shelf, who knows when. There are quite a few pages with her notes like this:

I had been reluctant to commit to reading with the group this month, but now that I have found this copy of Silas I can’t resist reading along with my grandmother.

I have eaten half of the greens, chopped into a pot of tomato soup this afternoon. The balmy weather lasted one day, and now we are back to January. But that blessed day snapped me out of the endurance mode into expectation.  I have a nice fire going in the stove and wonderful books to read as I sit by it.

I haven’t been accomplishing very much this month if one looks at my to-do lists. But maybe the important things are not listed there. I’ve been trying not to get caught up in things that I don’t really care about… so here is a good quote, to help me end my post:

“Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.”

– Lao Tzu

A good traveler has no fixed plans.

gl11-img_3532crpThe cold mornings hit this week, but the fog always lifts in time for a walk under blue skies. On one of  those days, I was only warm for the hour when I was walking down the path with the sun on my back.

Always something different to see, and why should I be surprised? But I always am! I saw two plants I didn’t know yesterday; maybe one of my readers can help me identify them.img_3566

What seems to be a lily in the seed-forming stage.gl11-img_3567

And a bush with fuzzy seeds.



I was so relaxed, I dinked around and took forever to get home (to the house with not enough windows). I even sat on this bench for a while and noticed things. The last time I enjoyed the view from that spot I was with my late husband, almost two years ago. Normally on my walks now, I just walk.


Back in my own yard, blooms hang on to the newly-planted echinacea. This week I set out Iceland poppies, and will soon put up more trellising for the various peas. I’m trying to get things in order here before I leave next week on a trip across the country. There is so much to do I shouldn’t really take the time to compose blog posts, but that strategy seems to work about as well as if I would stop eating for lack of time.

So far I don’t feel anxious about the deadline by which all my preparations must be made, before my departure. Maybe that’s because I still have a few days, and they aren’t packed with other activities to work around. I bought new luggage for this trip, not only practical, but fun. That’s a first-time experience already.  🙂

“Money spent on good-quality gear is always money well spent.”
-Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon’s Mines

Before I get on the plane I’ll try to share specifics about this upcoming journey. I read some of my old blog posts yesterday to find out to what degree I’ve already repeated myself in my past travelogues. Often I have a hard time relating to the author of the articles, and I think to myself, “That girl has eaten way too much dark chocolate!” When I am on an expedition farther than my own neighborhood with its familiar insects and flowers, my brain starts playing Beethoven symphonies instead of Chopin nocturnes.


Much of the inspiring travel writing out there appeals to the me that once was, in the most energetic and healthy time of life — but when I actually lived in that era and body I was involved in much more thrilling and satisfying work than wandering to and fro among strangers. I was a young wife and mother, and that experience was adventurous to the max, requiring all of my resources and spunk.

People write as though you haven’t really traveled unless you go with no itinerary and no destination, to be surrounded by strangers – whom you would, of course, find to be kind. I do have experience traveling alone among strangers whose language I didn’t know, and they weren’t all careful of my welfare. In the decades since, in the interest of preserving the health and enjoyment of my family, I have focused on thoroughly preparing for journeys. It won’t prevent unexpected events, things “going wrong,” we hope in ultimately harmless ways, and ideally making for good stories to tell. Adventure is a relative concept, I suppose.

I am not averse to meeting new people on my travels, but mostly I hit the road or climb on the plane with the goal of seeing a familiar face at the end of my trip. I have the goal, but don’t hold on to it too tightly. Anything can happen, and long before I take my seat on the airplane I give myself into the care of many people who are capable of goofing up. When I get to my destination I will let my hosts take care of me and determine my schedule.

I can’t travel anywhere that God isn’t.  Maybe that is the main reason why every morning my brain will be excited and my heart will be at peace, and I will feel like an adventurer.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  -Lao Tzu