Thursday, January 17, 2008


I have renamed my kitty Padme. It sanskrit for lotus, and she is my little lotus. (It's not a Star Wars reference, at least that's not what I had in mind. Take it however you want though. :-p) This lotus is still a bit in the muck though, as she has been sick for as long as I've had her. Without divulging all the fun details, I can just say I can now better understand the new mother who gets frantic every time her kid sneezes. I took her in for an inpromptu check at the vet today, and was assured this is just the sick taking it's normal course. *sigh*

I did at least spy her getting into her food bowl a moment ago...since I haven't seen her eat for a while, that is a good sign.

Monday, January 14, 2008

My new kitty

I found Sue at a Feeder's Supply over the weekend, and brought her home yesterday. Been thinking about getting a furry roommate for a couple months now, and now I've gone and done it.

Fearlessly exploring every bit of the apartment, Sue leaves no laundry basket unturned.

More cutesy video.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


Yep, just what I thought.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: The West

Your accent is the lowest common denominator of American speech. Unless you're a SoCal surfer, no one thinks you have an accent. And really, you may not even be from the West at all, you could easily be from Florida or one of those big Southern cities like Dallas or Atlanta.

The Midland
The South
North Central
The Inland North
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

Monday, January 07, 2008


I'm a Balanced Yogi!

A Balanced Yogi

You love your friends unconditionally and accept them for who they are no
matter what their yoga style preference, religious beliefs, or spending habits.
You focus on the good in people and would never try to change them. Almost
everyone feels comfortable in your presence. You live your yoga. You are an
inspiration to yoga students everywhere!

Take the Yoga Journal Yoga Snob Quiz!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

My first Buddhist Retreat

A thought arises
Just a ripple in my mind.
Who dropped the pebble?

-A haiku that came to me during a sitting meditation at the retreat.

About a month ago, a regular member of my Sangha that meets on Sunday mornings announced that there was going to be a Vipassana retreat over New Year's weekend. It sounded interesting to me, so I took one of the registration forms he had, and looked up the website for the group that was sponsoring the retreat. So, after giving it a week's worth of thought and making sure I could get New Year's Eve off (New Year's Day is a paid holiday anyway) I filled out the registration form and sent in my payment.

The retreat lasted from Friday evening until Tuesday noon. I don't know what I expected, but I did not know what I was getting into. I had slight misgivings on the first day when I told someone it was my first retreat, and they said this one was a bit long for a first timer. For one thing, it was a silent retreat. I didn't mind the silence, but what made it really strange was the minimal contact we had with each other (There were about 20 participants.) The basic rules of etiquette were to be silent and stay out of each other's way--no eye contact either (not that this was enforced or anything, but everyone pretty much abided by it.) So pretty much we just stood back and gave each other lots of space.

From Saturday to Monday this was the schedule:
6:30 am: Wake Up
7:00 am: Sitting Meditation (We all meditated in one big room upstairs in the building I was sleeping in.)
8:00 am: Breakfast (The food was excellent.)
9:30 am: Teaching and Sitting Meditation
10:30 am: Walking Meditation
11:00 am: Sitting Meditation
12:00: Lunch
2:00 pm: Sitting Meditation
2:45: Walking Meditation
3:15: Sitting
4:00: Walking
4:30: Sitting
5:30: Supper
7:00: Sitting Meditation
7:45: Walking Meditation
8:15: Sitting Meditation
8:45: Dharma Talk
9:30: Sleep

Now, beings as I've never been in a sitting meditation longer than about 30 minutes, this schedule was quite a challenge for me. In fact, Saturday was absolutely miserable! I could never sit still for 45 minutes at a time and really got a lot of experimenting done with meditation postures. I'm quite certain I made a lot of noise. And on top of that, I had a cold with a runny nose, so I was needing to blow my nose about every 10 minutes at least. I think in every single sit I spent probably the last 10 minutes just wondering when she was finally going to ring that bell. By the end of the day I would be totally spend and irritated, but then there would finally be the Dharma talk at the end, and that would inspire me with enough courage to face the next 7:00 am sit.

Fortunately things improved a bit after the first full day. To the very end of the retreat I still could not sit still a whole 45 minutes, but I did start sitting still for longer periods of time, learned a few sitting postures that were tolerable to me for long periods and learned how to meditate in a chair from time to time. On Monday I was able to maintain a meditative frame of mind though the first two sets of sitting and walking sessions before dinner, though my concentration was pretty always well spent by the third sit in a row. I learned a lot of resisting the craving to move or just give up and go back to my room, and I learned a bit about where my mind goes when it does start to wander. Not bad for a fledgling meditator.

I also learned a lot about perception. There was a woman in the meditation room that I'd imagined looked at me crossly because I was making too much noise. Because I did tend to shuffle around quite a bit--especially on Saturday. But this morning after the closing when everyone started talking again she was just as talkative and friendly towards me as anyone else. It's amazing how your mind can convince you that you know what is going on inside someone else's mind. Actually I realised quite clearly that I did NOT know what she was thinking, but that did not stop that idea from popping up in my mind repeatedly. I told this to the teacher at the retreat when I had an interview with her, and she told me that there are several instances where people get odd ideas about other people at a retreat such as this. In fact, she knew someone at a different who had become convinced that one of the other meditators had fallen in love with her. Erroneously, I presume. :p

The friend that I rode to the retreat with has a way with words about these things . . . : "The difference between the summer and the winter retreats is that the summer retreats are hot, painful, and boring but the winter retreats are cold, painful, and boring." Bit of a wry sense of humor there. But he goes every New Year's and at other times as well. So he can't think it's all that bad. :)

It was quite the experience. Maybe next year I'll try it again.