parting with roy

 Parents, Reflection  Comments Off on parting with roy
Feb 052014

An era is coming to an end, my faithful steed Roy is going to a new owner. When Jen and I bought Mz. Parker last year, I knew it had to happen, and now it’s time. I’m just feeling the whole shift.

As usual with my posts, there is a story in the background. Nancy’s-brother’s-wife’s-father was a delightful man named Roy Kristensen, a guy born and raised and lived his whole life in Sonoma County. Roy was in his 70’s when I met him some ten years ago, and he worked part time doing small construction jobs and fixing things for folks, I suspect mostly because he loved it. In 2006, a friend of his decided to sell his full-size pickup truck, and Roy very happily bought it, this 1994 Ford F150 just as you see it here. As far as I can tell, it was his pride and joy. Then in 2007, Roy passed away quite suddenly from a stroke.

All of us were deeply impacted by the loss of Roy, a cheerful and engaging man, the kind of guy who always had a twinkle in his eye and a funny story to share. Very knowledgeable about Sonoma history and active in the community, he was born in Two Rock, and I would wager that no one who ever reads this blog will know someone else born there. Hell, most of us barely know where it is. Roy and I talked for hours about the train routes running through Marin and Sonoma, and in fact one of the main routes ran right across the front of my property, cutting through the hill and creating the steep slope that my house is built into. Everyone in the family loved this man, and I miss him still.

Some months after he passed, his family decided to sell this truck just at the time when Nancy and I needed a bigger truck for our house construction. So we bought it, and promptly named it Roy. Roy is a construction truck through and through, with a bed liner, camper shell and lumber rack. The motor is a very well-developed and proven design, a 300-cubic-inch straight six that is smooth and burns no oil after 224,000 miles. There are some dents and scratches, the front fender has been bent down a bit on the left side, but all three of us who have owned him have cared for him well, and the drivetrain and body are solid. No one ever dumped 3000 pounds of rocks into the bed, sagging the frame. No one ever skipped oil changes. It’s hard to find a 20-year-old truck that looks this good and works this well.

So it’s time to let him go, as I no longer need a full-sized truck. I’m contemplating the shift, looking at this as a dream through Jungian eyes. This is a change of vehicles. While building my house, and tending to Nancy and then myself after she was gone, I’ve needed a lot of capacity. Here it is, reflected back, a big sturdy reliable masculine vehicle that has carried cords of wood, a ton of custom-milled cedar siding, stacks of 4×8 plywood, a BMW M3 motor, every piece of furniture and every appliance that is in my home, all my mother’s belongings, forty tons of trash from the construction site of my house, concrete, tile, mortar, Jen’s furniture from her retreat space in Monte Rio…I can hardly remember all the wonderful loads of *stuff* that Roy has moved for me and for us, friends and family. Such capacity I have had, in his form.

I posted him for sale on Craigslist, shared the event on Facebook, and voilá, a friend from the past, an architect renovating a house, needs a construction truck. It’s so serendipitous, we are both startled and delighted. We’re meeting tomorrow, and I expect that she will take him into the next chapter of his life.

Adieu, Roy. But you will keep the tape measure that Nancy kept aboard you, and the fire extinguisher I kept aboard you. If you know about the Enneagram, and know that Nancy was a One and I am a Six, you will smile as you read this.

unjunking the news

 Geek  Comments Off on unjunking the news
Feb 032014


Exploring some of my Buddhist connections this evening, I delighted upon the Facebook page for the king of Bhutan, His Royal Highness Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuk. And I immediately found out that one of the dzongs (‘fortress monasteries’) in Bhutan burned almost to the ground in 2012. I had no idea, even though I visited this place ten years ago. What a shock.


This photo from 2004 shows me blissfully unaware that the site will be gone in eight years. I’m as connected to the internet as anyone, an avid reader of news and tracker of things financial and spiritual and political. I read The Economist, I read other news sources from Europe. And I missed this. If you don’t already know, Bhutan was historically rather feudal, with the country broken into (I think) seven regions each ruled by a dzong until peacefully united under the Wangchuks some 110 years ago. This is one of the most important and largest buildings in the country, and it’s mostly wiped out. A World Trade Center loss for Bhutan. How did I not hear of it?

Here is an image of a prayer ceremony carried out a few days ago, on the site. Just look at the ruins. (And admire how these delightful people bring ritual to heal a wound, and create the possibility of reconstruction!)


It seems like third-world news is hard to find in our modern news streams. I certainly know this, it’s hard to find out details about massacres in Sudan, or Syria, or the latest clashes in Anwar Pradesh or the hinterlands of Pakistan. How many fields of poppies are planted in Afghanistan, how are the raw morphine sales funding the Taliban? What is really going on out there? What sources of news actually tell me things I want to know?

(And how much do I really want to know? We are culturally and historically evolved to live in villages, and until 150 years ago, mostly only knew of local events. I’m not sure it’s healthy to be aware of all the disastrous things happening every day all over the world. I really want to be selective, and receive a balance of positive and negative information.)

The Economist is a pretty good place to start. The writing is thoughtful, and topics are discussed with some depth and understanding and insight. It’s based in the UK, so the journalism is anything but sensational, and they tackle tough questions. Apparently CNN International is a good source too, on the strength of this single article about the fire. I’m going to start reading it more.

It’s ironic and telling that Facebook is actually quite a good news source, if you are selective in the pages you follow. King Wangchuk’s page is a wonderful find for me, as I love the country of Bhutan and want to keep current with events there. I get some information by following HH The Dalai Lama, the Karmapa, and Kalu Rinpoché on Facebook – but the news is generally much more specific about their activities, not so much about world events. Blogs by some of my acquaintances are very good; I read insightful commentary by Jane Brunette, Steve Stern and others. Then there is fun stuff like local blogger Alex Castle, Laura Silverman (who I mentioned a few weeks ago), Jessie Wood (Lama Palden’s daughter)…

I digress. Perhaps I’m saying that I like to find curated news sources, and they often slide into more personal commentary – which I enjoy – but does not inform in the way I seek. The Huffington Post had promise, but is now so bloated with opinionated and sensationalistic junk that it’s hard to find the gems.

Have you got recommendations? Please add a comment or shoot me a note if you have a source for national and/or international news with thoughtful, balanced commentary!

a pleasure of faith

 Nancy, Reflection  Comments Off on a pleasure of faith
Feb 012014


I had a heart-opening, delightful and perfect moment this morning, one that I’m sure I will relish for a long time. I found the missing candle holder.

On some level we all live amidst chaos, and I often feel like I have an extra dose of it because I am sorting through boxes and boxes of stuff that belonged to Nancy, my mother, my stepfathers, and some from grandparents as well. As these people have fallen away from my life, I’ve ended up with all the material goods, some treasures, a lot of junk. I tackle it a little at a time, perhaps a box each weekend, and little by little my garages are emptying. It is such a long process, it’s taken a lot of fortitude to keep going. This morning, I dove into a box of Nancy’s that came from under her father’s house last spring, a box that she threw down there more than twenty years ago, with books and junk from her life in LA long before I met her. There is a Kodak camera with film in it, and I wonder about the five ancient photos locked inside on a partial roll of film. There is a dead telephone, more architecture and design books, and a copy of “The Bridges of Madison County” with a photo of her dad from WW II, and a photo of her somewhere in Asia, sometime in the ’90’s, with a Buddha. And Holy Grail of Grails, tucked in a corner of the box next to the phone, coated in a layer of grime and cardboard dust, there is The Candle Holder. The Candle Holder I Knew I Would Find One Day.

wpid-DickandbuddieswithP40-2014-02-1-11-01.jpeg wpid-Withabuddhasometimearound1998-2014-02-1-11-01.jpeg

The back story is that I encountered one of these, a lovely 2-inch cube of rough glass, almost two years ago. I remember looking at it, holding it, loving it’s beauty and heft and utility and symmetry, and knowing in my heart that it had a mate somewhere in the universe. Nancy had a habit of tossing stuff into random corners – she was a walking embodiment of the Second Law of Thermodynamics in her personal life – so I carefully tucked it away in a cabinet with other candle and incense holders, with the strange certainty that I would find it’s partner. (Nancy would never have bought just one, unless it was a unique item.)

So the thrill of discovery was long-anticipated, completely surprising, and has dropped me into this reverie that you have joined. What is that moment, that thrill, that joy and satisfaction when I pulled this thing out of a small morass of dusty junk?

My first cut comes from my ego, who cheerfully gloats “I knew I would find it!” But there is feeling underneath, something about holding an intention for years, and feeling it come to fruition. I have a deep desire to create perfection in my own ways, making things neat and aligned and symmetrical, so some primordial part of me is gratified by the joining of long separated mates. Ah, there they sit, together again, just as they were always intended to be. There. Now I’m getting closer to the fountain of joy inside.

I’m feeling our separation again. In fact, I’m feeling how life is full of splitting apart and coming together. I kiss Jen goodbye as we go off to work, and kiss her hello as we greet each other after hours or days apart. Divergence creates the possibility of joy and union in the future. My loss of Nancy creates the possibility of reunification. Incarnation into human form creates the possibility of divine union in the future. Perhaps I can feel how we are never really separated, just displaced in space and time.

Or perhaps I’m just happy to have a matched pair of beautiful, well designed candle holders. Whatever, it is, I love them.