Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Taking Refuge...

This fall, I will take my Refuge Vows. This vow will be an expression of my freedom. Freedom as a refugee, I can let go of my attachment to basic security--which is actually illusory; there is really no basis of security in one's life. Willingly suspended in no-man's land (no-woman's land) in which the only thing to do is for me to relate to the Dharma and with myself.

This vow is also intended to be a proclamation of my 'one-pointedness'; an allegiance to my sense of discipline, ethics and spiritual path. A heartfelt yes to my Basic Goodness. I am freed from having to be a heroine to a personal success story. This has me planting my stick in the ground and stopping in my tracks, the shopping in the spiritual marketplace for what I believe in. No more sidetracks, no exits. I have chosen the Buddhist path.

There will be no more scapegoats; blaming people, places, and things, for the problems I encounter. No more collapsing into a belief of helplessness whereby I would normally hand my problems over to someone or something else. Being virtually groundless, I can entertain the problems I will most assuredly encounter, as now a reference point from which to continue to practice moving along my boddhisattva path. Somehow, ironically, this affords me a way to relate to my being lost, confused but simultaneously more tenderhearted and open. Maitri-self compassion- will be my internal compass. I am welcoming the Hinayana approach--the narrow path of simplicity and boredom.

I have spent so much of my life caught up in 'dramas'...boredom is such a welcome relief to all the drama-energy I expended or whipped up to make my life tolerable or supposedly meaningful. There seems to be a sensibility and simplicity in working with the sacredness, richness and ordinary magic of my human experience. I am a slippery fish but I am no longer calling on a bigger net than myself for salvation. By this, I do not mean salvation like that of individuals being saved from their sins, their lives and their choices. Rather, I am being saved from a life of never growing up or taking full responsibility for my words or deeds.

I have no desire to go into 'lifetime retreat' or retreat from, I am committed to being wholeheartedly engaged with what crosses my path as I participate in it fully. Fully a part of the everyday ordinariness of walking planet earth. Embracing ordinariness is a far cry from where I began with believing that to not live an extraordinary life or be an extraordinary person, I was somehow betraying my purpose. Fortifying my ego with thoughts of the extraordinary served its purpose: I learned that my extraordinary efforts to maintain myself as "different from", "better than" was not only impossible but ultimately, arrogant, selfish, and isolating.

This decision to take refuge, has been a long time in coming. I have not entered into it naively or haphazardly. There will be no beatific sound track to my life after the Vow. There will be the great unknown, roads less traveled and a heart that beats with both trepidation and solace. Whatever will be, will be and I vow to take refuge in it.

Gracie Garp

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


One of my most beloved friends, David, has the same compunction
and passion for 'reading' dictionaries, as I do.

This particular literary habit began early in my life. Of course, it has served me well as I have an unusually broad vocabulary and am a formidable Scrabble opponent. Once in a while, someone will come across a word that I do not know or have not utilized in years. David shared with me the word: canoodle. At first, I thought this was a noun, like noodlehead but in fact it is a verb...I will let you have the delightful experience of visiting your nearest unabridged dictionary and see the definition for yourself. Suffice it to say, I wish you all the abundant canoodling that you would ever want or need.

As an aside, since I thought I could feature other writers on my own blog, I wanted to submit for your enjoyment another (contemporary) poet's piece called: True Religion

True Religion

Christianity says: God's a man.
David says: Where is he?
The true religion would say, he'll come to you, sinner,
be careful what you ask for.
Christianity says: Sorry, die to meet him.

Islam says: God is great.
David says: I know!
The true religion would say, fine.
Islam says: Say it again.

The Buddhist says: I'm not me.
David says: I'm not you either.
The true religion would say, your born mate lives.
Buddhism says: Vanity begone.

The Hindu religion says: Owe my god.
David says: I can't pay.
The true religion would say, mercy is not strained.
India says:
When you thirst family first
burst nursed stranger cursed.

Judaism, once upon a time the true religion, now says: There's one God.
David says: Let him make another.
True religion says: God is one.

For respect of rights I AM tried on earth to
make the effects of my life one with my flesh.

O my God
I AM show
me myself
great to know.

Monday, April 19, 2010

You Are What You Eat....

I have heard it said that you can tell a lot about an individual by the contents of their refrigerator. Some time take a moment to peruse your own frig and see what it may say about you. Better yet, take a look at a friend or family members frig and see if its contents don't reveal something about them that you did or did not are what you eat. I had the good fortune of having my dear friend, Turtle, do an inventory of my frig. This inventory was not planned so as to not think I stocked something to contrive a dishonest 'snapshot' of its full contents.
**You could also approach this list like a short (yet to be written) culinary-novella of my life in the kitchen:


Freezer: Goose Point Pacific Oysters, Organic Asparagus, Olivieri Cannalloni, Collossal Cooked Shrimp, Organic Artichoke Tops, Organic Angus Beef Burgers, La Concha Cotija Grated Cheese, Pork Roast, Organic Chicken Livers, Nestle's Turtle Cookies, Pork Tenderloin, Puff Pastry Shells, Crab cakes, Edamame, Organic Chicken Patties, Pork Ribs, Ben and Jerry Ice Cream, Athens Filo Dough, Belly-Tuna Filet, Astor Chocolate Liquer Cups.

Refrigerator: Roland Large Capers, Papa Christo's Tahini Salad Dressing, Seafood Sauce, Melle Dijon Mustard, Homemade Chili Sauce, Mediterranean Organic Sun-Dried Tomatoes, New England Cranberry Pepper Jelly, Danish Raspberry Preserves, Krinos Taramosalata Caviar Spread, Santini Fancy Pesto, Thai Red Curry Sauce, Rothschild Onion Horseradish Dip, Executive Chef Roasted Garlic, Claussen Kosher Dills, Claussen Sauerkraut, Minced Garlic, Rice Vegan Cheddar Cheese, Christopher Ranch Organic Whole Garlic, Flax Oil, American Cheese, Red Palm Oil, Grapefruit juice, Pear Juice, Club Soda, Pomegranate juice, Italian Pork Sausage, Butter, Stone Ground Whole Wheat Bread, Rothschild Fiery Raspberry Salsa, Pie crusts, Whipped Cream Cheese, Salemville Amish Bleu Cheese, Plum Sauce, Patak's Curry Paste, Fisher & Williams Raspberry Chipolte Sauce, Chantaine Mixed Berry Preserve, Hollywood Safflower Mayo, Heinz Organic Ketchup, Beaver Cream Horseradish, Bel Aria Black Olive Paste, Italia in Tavola Garlic Paste, Organic Sesame Tahini, Fire Mountain Red Cherry Syrup, Raw Hazelnuts, Sour Cream, Napa Valley Wasabi Sake Mustard, Tanqueray Pimento Olives, Tanqueray Lime Olives, Sadaf Sundried Olives, Half n Half, Mezzetta Calamata Olives, Cavi-Art Seaweed Caviar, Presidente Feta, Bella Cucina Tomato Pesto, LuLu Saffron & Garlic Rouille, Wild Oaks Eggplant Caponata, Wine, Beer, Champagne, Justin's Organic Almond Butter, Pine Nuts, Jarro-Dophilus, Imported Pecorino Cheese, Jarlsberg, Chevre, BellaVitano Cheese, Le Petite Dejeuner Brie, Cod Liver Oil, Phillip's Crabmeat, La Recca Anchovies in Olive oil.


Gracie Garp

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Piece for Justin...

July 9, 2006


You were once
the child
steering your own
river boat

Peter and the Wolf
chased you
along the river's
deep imagination

The oars of
frought with
your being
handed a
family's sadly
leaky boat

The college years
when you
were not
the necessary weight
of a
deeply broken heart
Julia and Marco
the river's surface
One taken
by life
by death

Your present
Van Gogh
of the thrill
and passion
of floating
the river's edge
no guarantees

Row, row
row your boat
gently down the
Your heart's bouyancy
will sail you
into all
the days of your life


Saturday, April 17, 2010

More "Wild Mind" Prose....

July 2006

Suffer Supper

The madman from
marking time
while waiting for
the paint
to dry

The bell of the ball
a green toad
under her dress

pay homage
to your
elephant sized

The suffer supper
is cooked
and waiting

Sing Louder

Cradled babies
addled adults
to task

The forever
loud enough
for the
very frightened
to hear

The Falling Out

Too many
easter bunnies
fell out of
her basket

Not enough
in the
reindeer's lair

Go home
the holidays
are over


Friday, April 16, 2010

The Bird Shit Blessing....

For what it is worth, two night ago while reading on my outdoor patio a bird shit on my head....I sent an email to the Tribe that I considered it a blessing of sorts: an ample closure to my sweet time living for the last two years in the Bilbo Hut; a visceral send-off to my new abode and,or, at least a good reminder to not get too heady about my recent good fortune and forget that some of my Dear Ones are still in the midst of the the throws of life meting out different kinds of shitty lessons. Of which, I believe, it is still possible to grow from with a modicum of believing that all things happen (or not) for the good of those who embrace their Basic Goodness.

For any of you getting shad on in this lifetime, I got some very interesting (and heretofore unknown) information on the different notions of what it portends to have a bird shit on your head. For your perusal and aviary-shit edification:

Taylor wrote: "In the Greek culture, a bird shitting on your head is good luck of the massive kind."

Cyn wrote: "It is a very good omen. When bird droppings land on your head many people believe this to be a major sign of wealth coming from heaven. Hence,although it is really yucky and a major inconvenience, when something like this happens to you, take comfort in the fact that this is described as good luck being just around the corner. In fact, most things associated with birds tend to spell good fortune, such as when birds fly to your home and begin making nests in and around your house. While bats bring abundance, birds bring good news and opportunities. Birds are also said to be powerful protectors and guardians. Even crows are said to be messengers of the Gods. So, welcome birds with open arms."

Darel (my dear satirist) wrote: "There must be a tribe somewhere that considers this a great omen. It is a sign of a Grand Stroke of Fortune that will soon be manifested. It is given only to Chosen Ones who have been selected by vote on Mount Olympus. You have been selected for your wisdom, kindness, charity, chastity, purity of thought and love for others. Graded on the aggregate: If you're deficient in any of those areas, your score in the others might carry you."

Apparently, this moment was fortuitous...I wish you all many bird droppings on your beloved heads.

Gracie Garp

Thursday, April 15, 2010


In the spirit of 'wild mind' writing sessions ( thank you Natalie Goldberg) I wanted to post some of my varied prose:

Intelligent Doubt

Make no
about it

Stand up
stick straight

When hatred
your path
blow kisses
her back

Stop loathing
in her
she may
be looking for
one moment
her mind


in the zoo
hold flashlights
late at night
the zebras
on the way
out of
their tight


in pairs

Two children
two lullabies
two wings
two chances
two poems
two deaths
two resurrections


Monday, April 12, 2010

The Dharma of Moving....(Part Two)

The 1920's bungalow sits on the corner of 5th and Concord. I had driven by it by 'accident' when I attempted to find my way back out to a main thoroughfare from Concord that is cut off by the Boulder Creek. The For Rent sign didn't seem possible as I had been faithfully combing Craig's List for all rentals in Boulder. Nowadays, virtually no one still just posts a For Rent sign on their front lawn.

I scan the surrounding homes, there are no plastic pink flamingos in sight....surely, this property has already been seen by multitudes of potential renters. Surely, they have garnered a stack-full of applications and are no longer needing yet one more person to show the rental to. I breathe in my excitement and breathe out the temptation to feel an urgency to have been the first in line to get a crack at being 'chosen' to live there.

This is where the rubber meets the road in my desire to use letting go of outcomes as a 'practice' to trusting what will be, will be. Amazingly, I relax. I do not imagine the best or the worst of outcomes. I calmly place the phone call to the landlords to set up a showing.

Three days later, I am scheduled for the showing. Unimagined, I am the first of potential renters to get a look inside. There will be six other showings after I leave. Kay and Ken (the landlords) meet me at 10am and open the door to what looks and feels to be my 'dream' abode. It only takes me moments to envision myself in this beautiful space.

The landlords and I chat, exchange polite conversation. Kay looks extremely familiar but I don't inquire as to where I may know her from. I give them my application, my references from past landlords and they let me know that they will be showing the property for the rest of the day and will get back to me in the next few days with their decision.

I spend those days riding the waves of anxiety (breathing it in and breathing it out). Will I be chosen? Will they believe my stellar references? Fortunately, the bigger the desire for something is, the greater the opportunity to practice letting go of the desire. I have no pets. They do not know that I always leave a property more beautiful than how I found it. I always pay my rent on time. But there are other things landlords look for...and those things I do not know or have any control over.

Two days pass. I am in the midst of doing my weekly flower arrangements for my home. The seven flower vases are standing sentinel on the kitchen counter waiting to be filled and fawned over by my enormous joy of welcoming their presence into the rooms where they will be lovingly placed. The phone rings. It is Kay. "You won't believe this", she says and I notice that I begin to imagine the worst case scenario... I am bracing myself to fail in my attempt to let go of my expectations of 'getting what I want.' I imagine her saying that the place burned down or the present tenant has decided to stay.

Instead, Kay explains that she saw my present landlord's name on my application and had realized that years ago she spent time in my current home taking care of (hospice style) the dying of both of his parents. The mother dying first (in my now dining room) and the father a year later (from a broken heart) in my bedroom. On the in breath,I am struck with the enormity of having lived for two years on 'sacred ground.' On the out breath, I am struck with the remembrance of where I know her from.

I had four months previously joined a bevy of Dear Ones (hospice style) to help bathe, feed, sing, laugh, cry and love our friend, Trep, on her journey to the 'other side.' Kay had albeit, only once, come to our hospice sanctuary to oversee any pain management that Trep may need. Nothing in 'life', that I had wagered my acceptance on (the ability to afford the rent, the glowing references of past landlords, the coveted good credit score) had informed her and helped her come to her decision. Rather, it was something in the 'deathing' process that connected us both.

There it was again...the interconnectedness of all the threads of our lives, the five degrees of separation that can never quite be separated. The 'in the moment truth' that I need not attempt to do or prove anything....I only need to keep showing up, keep authentically attending to whatever pulls me, keep not keeping score and double-checking my intentions. Just being, just being me was the only requirement to let life unfold in the way it will.

Another 'holy encounter.' Another simple reminder that the unknown is so much more delightful than any known components that I foolishly believe will cement my understanding of how things 'should' work in the world. I will not live forever in this newfound bungalow. I will not live forever on this earthly plane. I will, however, be given a lifetime of opportunity to learn what I have not knowingly chosen to learn, love what I presumed was unloveable, live where I never thought possible (for better or worse) and realize that the Dharma of Moving is just the same as the Dharma of Living: you just stay present, show up and just be with whatever arises on your path be it a bungalow, a plastic pink flamingo, a birth, a death; in the world of non-duality they are all the same thing just disguised with different faces.

Hmmm....after all these years, I think I finally understand what the Beatle's meant when they sang..."I am the Eggman, I am the Eggman, I am the Walrus.": I am the Eggman and the Walrus. I am the plastic pink flamingo and the Crystal vase. I am the chateau and the dilapidated mobile home. I am all these things and none of these things. I am in a constant state of flux, groundless progression, not solid, emptiness of form (unless I fall under the spell of concretizing my experience and put a hard and fast label on it to somehow think the false security of 'knowing' what it is or means will make me think I am safe from another reality than my own), one with the winds of change--embodied impermanence.

When Ken and Kay come to my home for me to sign the lease, I am mindful of the natural interconnectedness of my spiritual practice, living and dying, changing residences and simply living one inhale and one exhale at a time.

Gracie Garp

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Dancing in the Kitchen....

Oh, the kitchen. The Mystery School of schools. The magnetic pull of its domain. No matter how large of a home I inhabited, any family or friends would find themselves drawn to it like no other room in the house.

Oh, the refrigerator. Shelves of ingredients that to the uninspired or dispassionate cook could seem meaningless, becomes for me a university of choices from which to choose all manner of supposed haphazard ingredients into concocting an un-reciped meal to rival the well-schooled chefs of the world.

Oh,the left-overs. Some of the best unforseen ingredients that could be thrown in to make something possibly mundane, now transformed in its ability to add what would not normally be added, and tastes not traditionally thought could be mixed.

Oh, the pantry. A Narnia-like cupboard of supposed innocuous cans and boxes that seem to be relegated to just the necessities devoid of any magic. When scanned with the eyes of the ordinary looking to become a part of the extraordinary,they can be the mainstay or the bedrock of unimagined culinary delights.

Periodically, I would be cooking away and call the children into the kitchen. While something was simmering or baking, I would shout out: "Dancing in the kitchen!" Justin, Taylor and I would all break into the most glorious of free-dance moves. Oh, the honoring of the varied ingredients making friends with each other, celebrating the variety of what they each contributed. I would be calling out: "Let them mix and mingle! Let them celebrate the joy of their unique offerings!" If more than the children and myself were home for this 'incantation', to the virgin-eyed visitor, this type of ritual could have been tantamount to a witch's cauldron's chant of 'bubble bubble toil and trouble....' To the children and any dinner guests (of which had previously eaten the 'brew' of my former dinners) this was the call to arms, the quasi-calm before the storm of devouring whatever found its way to their possibly tulip garnished, bougainvillaea strewn and decorated plates.

Jitterbugging, rock n' rolling, and waltzing maneuvers to encourage the alchemy of the potion of delights. The sacredness of the willy-nilly mixing of heretofore unheard of combinations of flavors. The reckless abandon of trusting the Muses of Mayhem-Cuisine to do their magic. The unabashed regaling of praises to the Goddesses and Ancestors of the Butter King, the Princes of Pasta, the Courtesans of Creme.

Pushing back the chairs from the table, sated and full bellied we freely sigh or groan at the fullness of it all...the communion of dinner saints, the grateful devourers of Mother Nature's bounty; the afterglow of Dancing in the Kitchen.

Gracie Garp