death date not cut


I discovered the death date not cut phrase on a web site that acts as an online roll call of the sleepy inhabitants of a small country cemetery near the town where I was born.

And in fact, this bracketed set of words sits ominously next to the name of my 101 year-old grandmother who has not yet shuffled off this mortal coil and who still eats, yawns, argues and wonders what it is all about.

And, on this master list, her name sits under the name of her husband, my grandfather, who took up permanent residence in that cemetery more than 30 years ago when his Parkinson’s made the move necessary.

So, with her name and birth date already etched in, her unfinished headstone awaits the day when all her eating, yawning, arguing and wondering are done.  But that day is still unknown. For her and for us.

Our death date has not yet been cut either.  Until it is, how will we attend to our doing and non-doing? Sleeping and waking? Noticing, acknowledging and self-medicating? Reacting and responding? Loving and living from fear? Choosing and accepting?

How will we live while the engraver naps?




how to know if you’re a bot

Something you did just made us think you might be a bot.

This was part of surprising note that popped up in a window as I was attempting to log into a web site I use regularly. And even though it was simply a case of this site’s computer system set to automatically detect odd activity of potential cyber-bots, for a split second, I was slightly offended. What could I have possibly done that was so odd to make them think I was a bot?   If they knew me, they’d know that I am so technologically-challenged that spamming still means getting creative with that weird canned mystery meat to me.



After I got over myself, I thought it might actually be cool to be a bot every now and again. Wired for one task. Equipped with the precise tools to accomplish that task. And an unswerving, determined march to the finish line with sweet clarity.  As a bot there would be no question about the meaning of the path, the choice of a particular route or the estimated time of arrival at the destination. No emotional or energetic obstacles or distractions that cause wondering or wandering. Efficient. Masterful. Simple.

But not being a bot means being awake.  Intentionally embracing the inefficiency of all those emotional and energetic obstacles on the messy path to mastery. And maybe it means occasionally, while still awake, consciously shelving some of the messy distractions to provide some much needed rest and clarity.  And the fluid flexibility to be both.

To be bot or not to be bot. That is the question.


me, me, me & mussolini


At the onset of my novel-worthy summer by the lake, no one could have predicted that the long-awaited moments of rejuvenation and blissful solitude would have included entertaining Mussolini.

No, not the actual dictator.  Not even his ghost.  My Mussolini is almost as dark as old Benito though.  But without the whimsy.  My beach-house fascist is a pillaging black squirrel who I felt compelled to name immediately when I stepped out onto the porch one day.


Black squirrel


This bold forager devoured most of my beautiful porch plants without so much as a friendly introduction or welcome to the neighbourhood.  What was to be my rich, green summer sanctuary now was a mess of empty planters and sad, wilted leaves left to die on the ground beside their former beds.  It was a botanical massacre.

I can certainly see why he was drawn to the tender trails of sweet watercress that were flourishing in my herb garden.  But I was not prepared to see my vibrant, two-year old passion vine reduced to a few leaves lifelessly dangling on the two single vines left.  Only two days before, two of the unique purple passion flowers had bloomed confidently and a third one was pregnant with blossoming potential.



My first slump-shouldered reaction was a resigned disappointment but that, more quickly than I’d like to admit, turned into me looking around for something akin to a BB gun.  This was followed by many words definitely not suitable for the Family Channel as I cleaned up the mess.

To protect the remaining few plants, I’d heard that coffee grounds on the soil around plants will keep squirrels from digging so I tried that first.  And, as option two, I filled a squirt bottle with water and set the nozzle to the stream position. After a few wet encounters with my furry Mussolini that involved me sitting on my porch with a coffee in one hand and the squirt bottle in the other, his visits have magically stopped.

To be fair, the squirrel could have no way of knowing that I had nurtured that passion vine through a long winter of less-than-optimal sun conditions and it had just begun to recover nicely.  And that I intentionally brought the plant with me to my summer getaway so I could enjoy it in its period of abundant growth and fullness.  He could have no idea that the plant reminded me daily of the beauty and natural power of patient resilience.

I guess I’d become attached.  Just counting the number of times I used “my” in the re-telling of this story tells me that my sub-conscious attachments are flung far and wide.  My summer by the lake. My porch. My passion vine. Even my Mussolini.  How much rest could I really get this summer if I’m holding on so tightly to everything around me?

After finding more remnants of my former plants protruding from under a wooden box at the side of the porch, it turns out that the pillaging had purpose.  And that Benito is likely a Benita.

With both of us nesting, each in our own way, perhaps we can learn to accept each other for who we are and where we’re coming from.  Both doing what we’re wired to do.

Live and let live.  With a squirt bottle still firmly in hand!