Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Garlic Breath

Garlic:  (also known as allium sativum)  a species in the onion family.  Used throughout history for both culinary and medicinal purposes.  Claims to help everything from high cholesterol to the common cold.  ~ Wikipedia

Whenever Zen Master discovers a “cure-all,” something that he truly believes will keep us from sickness while keeping our insides nice and shiny, he’s all about it.  He becomes a PITA.

PITA = Pain in the A**

One recent day, I walked into the kitchen and found Zen Master and Zen Mum munching on their lunch.  They’ve become a bit more health conscious so I wasn’t surprised to see that their lunch made up of slices of red tomatoes, green zucchini, green celery, orange carrots, green peppers, and a dollop of ranch dressing.

And a couple pieces of raw garlic.

Which Zen Master was chomping on, his face red and tears dripping from his eyes.

“What’s the matter with you?”  I asked him as I rushed up to the table.  “What happened?”

Zen Master looked at me in astonishment.  “Wha?  Wha?”

“Why are you crying?”

Zen Master started laughing as he continued to cry.  “I’m eating this garlic.”  He pointed at the half-eaten piece on his plate.  “Do you know how hot it is?  When you bite into it, it kicks you in the mouth.”

He picked it up and held it out to me.  “Here, try it.”

I just stared at him.

“Why in the world would I want a kick in the mouth?  And why in the world would I want garlic breath?”

“You need more vegetables.  It’s healthy for you.”

Zen Mum nodded as she continued to chomp on her veggie platter.

Zen Master pointed at Zen Mum.  “We’ve been eating like this for a whole week now and I think the garlic’s helped Zen Mum with her allergies.”

Zen Mum nodded as she continued to chomp on her veggie platter.

“So does Claritin.”  I said.  “And it doesn’t make me stink with garlic.”

“Bah!”  Zen Master glared at me.  “All those pills!  You need to go natural and eat more greens.  I’m telling you that the garlic does help!”

“How about if I just make some garlic bread?”

“Bah!  Garlic bread!  Try some raw garlic!”

Damn if I didn’t eat it.

I drowned that piece of raw garlic in Ranch dressing, popped it into my mouth, gasped when it gave me a fiery kick, and now I stink of damn garlic.

And I did this for a whole week.

I’m no doctor, but my allergies are still here, dust still throws me into sneezing fits and I still go through boxes of tissue like it’s running out of business.

But the difference is that I was a walking garlic bulb because I stank of garlic.

I reeked.

The things I do for Zen Master.

Thank goodness he’s moved off the raw garlic.  He got tired of the fiery kicks in his mouth.

I wonder if I was especially fragrant last week while working out at the gym?

Oh well.

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Took Myself to the Gym

So I finally did it. 

I finally took myself to the gym this week.


Considering the fact that it has been three months since I’ve gone, that’s not too bad. 

Except for the part where I can’t lift my arms.

Let me start from the beginning.

Faithful readers will know that I have two gyms that I go to regularly.  Except for the two gyms and regularly, everything else is true.  Some time ago I ended my membership to my gym at work because it became too much.  Then recently I ended my membership at my favorite evening gym because I’m an old hag now and I can’t handle the intensity of the workouts. 

Because I’m an old hag now, I enrolled into a larger gym that offered more low impact workouts.  And I made up my mind to just go.

Just do it, like Nike says.

That was my motivation when I was younger.  Just do it.

My motivation now? 

I’m not getting any younger, my skin’s beginning to sag in obvious places, and my butt is hanging.

Enough said.

So I took myself to the gym this week and the first class I jumped into was Body Pump.

I love Body Pump.

It involves weight-lifting, music and plenty of squats.

Before class:  me in my sweats and a baggy gray T-shirt and high on adrenaline.  I’m psyched and thinking Yeah, finally back in the gym.  I’m gonna work out and get my baggy butt in gear.  I’m gonna be boot-ilicious real soon.  I’m gonna be cut and fine and prime.

After class:  Sweat-drenched and stinking, thinking OhmigoodnessIcantfeelmyarmsgetmeouttahereImfortyyearsoldIcantdothiscrap.

Dragged myself home and couldn’t lift my arms for the rest of the week. 

And they call this good pain?

What did I do next, with my aching arms and sore thighs?

I went back the next day and met Zumba.

To be continued.

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A Conversation with Myself

So I’m in the middle of having a very private conversation…with myself.

Self:  So don’t you think you should start going back to the gym?

Me:  I’m just too exhausted when I get home nowadays that I just don’t have the energy to do it right now.

Self:  You’re nothing but a big excuse, you know that?

Me:  (feeling guilty)  But it’s true!  Not the excuse part, but me being exhausted!  I’ll get back on the wagon soon!

Self:  You’re all talk and no action, Sally.  You should be ashamed of yourself!  You’ve let yourself go for months now and you’re indulging on guilty pleasures that you would’ve never considered when you were all-about-the-exercise before!  You used to be a gym nut! 

Me:  ummm…speaking of nuts…

Self:  Well?  What do you have to say for yourself?

Me:  Let me think about it over a nice slice of banana nut bread that I just made.

So who won?

The banana nut bread or Self?

Self or the banana nut bread?

Bread:  100

Self:  -100

Because there’s no more bread in the house and yes, I’m going back to the gym this week carrying that banana nut bread on my butt.

Thanks for asking.

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Walk around the Neighborhood

For the first time this year, we went out for a walk around the neighborhood.

The sky was blue and clear, the sun bright and warm and everything just seemed to beckon us out for a stroll.  But because it’s still not yet Spring and still a bit of Winter, Zen Master, Zen Mum and I bundled up in thick sweats and jackets and padded outside for that breath of fresh young spring air.

Zen Master wrapped his blue scarf around his neck for extra measure.

“You should wear yours.”  He said to me as he watched me put my red scarf back on the closet hanger.  “It’s not that warm.”

“It’s supposed to be 60 degrees today.”  I said.

“Yeah.”  Zen Mum concurred.

“It’s easy catch-cold weather.”  Zen Master reminded us.  “Spring isn’t really here yet.”

“Should be okay.”  I said as we stepped outside.

So altogether, we set out on our walk.  This is very good, very exciting because this is the start of our family walking again, exercise that we definitely need after being so cooped up for the winter. 

As we turn the first corner at the end of our street, I hear Zen Mum already puffing.  Peeking over at her, I see her round face slightly flushed and pink.

She looked at me.  “I’m already sweating.”

“We just started.  How are you already sweating?”

But she was too busy concentrating on breathing that she didn’t answer me.

The wind had a cold bite to it and before long, I started shivering.  Although I was pretty well wrapped up in my winter jacket, I felt the cold wind going down my neck.  I’m used to having my scarf around my neck and this was the first time I walked out of the house without it.

But after that conversation about the scarf, I was debating with myself if I should get it.  I really didn’t want to eat crow and have Zen Master gloat and preen.

Should I get my scarf? 

Or should I man up and soldier on in the face of that cold wind?

Should I get my scarf and wrap my neck up and keep it warm?

Or should I just walk faster, get the blood moving and just leave Zen Master and Zen Mum in the dust of my power-walk?

By the time we reached the second corner of the block, I decided, “I’m going back and getting my scarf.”

“Well, I don’t have to get mine.”  Zen Master called out from behind us, as he was meandering along.  “I’m nice and warm.”

“I want mine.”  Zen Mum said.  “Can you go get mine too?”

So we trudged back to the house and got those damn scarves.

Setting back out again, we finally made it up to the end of the street, the same street from where we began our family walk, and we just stopped.

Zen Mum was soaked with sweat under her jacket hood and pink scarf.  Zen Master was flushed a bit pink.  I was perspiring and had to pull my hood up over my head.

We fought the wind and the wind won.

Exercise is over-rated.

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A Simple Bob

When it comes to haircuts, I don’t have a regular schedule of when I get it done.  My barometer is when it drives me nuts, then I go get it cut. 

I’m quite a simple person, very low-maintenance, if I do say so myself.

One recent evening, I walked into the house after getting a haircut.  Zen Mum took one look at me and declared “I want my hair cut too!”

Her schedule, on the other hand, is whenever I get one.

Because I’m her hair stylist.

Okay, so long story.  My favorite haircut is a simple bob.  Simple and low-maintenance.

Like me.

Just in case you forgot.

After so many years of getting it done, I started paying attention to how people cut my hair.  And I tried it out on Zen Mum one day, many many years ago.  You know, just to see if I could do it.

It was a real vote of confidence when Zen Mum didn’t cringe at me coming at her with scissors.

And now I’m the only person who touches her hair.

Yep, besides being simple and low-maintenance, I’m also free.

Luckily, I don’t have to worry about Zen Master’s hair since, you know, he’s bald.

“I am not bald.”  Zen Master corrects.  “I shave my head.  There’s a difference.”

Okay, fine.

But I don’t have to worry about trimming his hair.

So what did I just do for Zen Mum this week?

Yup, she loves bobs too.

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Blame it on the rain

“How long has it been since you worked out?”  I asked Zen Mum last night as I was brushing my teeth, getting ready for bed. 

She gave me a blank stare.

“Ho-kay,”  I said as I pat her on her shoulder.  “We’re going to do some in the morning when we wake up.”

But it was only a few minutes later when I felt something shaking me awake.

I opened one eye and saw Zen Mum leaning over me. 

“We’re exercising before breakfast, right?”  She asked. 

“Yeah,”  I said as I turned over and got ready to go back to sleep.  “In the morning.”

But I felt her shake my shoulder again.

“It’s morning already.”

“Wha?”  I snorted as I looked at her, now with both eyes opened. 

“Do you want to exercise or not?”

And then I happened to notice that morning light was streaming through my window.  I shuffled over to the window and peeked out.  The morning sky was gray and overcast, and it was raining!  I watched and listened to the soft, steady drip-drip of rain against my window.

But how can it possibly be morning already?

Then I heard Zen Mum in the living room, popping in her exercise DVD into the player and getting busy.

It’s been over two months since I went to the gym.  Where’s my motivation?  Where did it go?

I used to be so gung-ho about exercising, being so dedicated.  Where had that wind gone? 

But more importantly…

Where’s my coffee?

I’m gonna blame it on the rain, just like Milli Vanilli. 

Yeah, that’s it.

That’s the ticket.

So later, Zen Mum came into the kitchen, flushed and wide awake.  I was sitting at the table with Zen Master, sipping my yummy hot cup of excellent coffee.

She came up and promptly poked me in my soft round tummy.


I love my family. 

Who in the world would be unafraid of voicing such constructive criticism to me when I really do need to hear it?

Even though I really don’t want to hear it.

God bless Zen Mum.

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Phalaenopsis Orchid

Remember this little beauty?

My beautiful gift that someone gave to me for Christmas?

This wonderful Phalaenopsis Orchid.

It went full bloom.

And the instruction manual that came with it said that it usually lasts a couple of months. 

Well, this is what I have to say.

Phooey at the instructions!  I spit at the instructions for it know not what it say!

I laughed at those instructions, because Zen Master and I have green thumbs, and between the two of us, this beauty shall live beyond those miserly couple of months. 

It shall live and bloom for us always!

So sayeth Sally in the Zen!



Here she is.

Can we say bald chicken?

Yes, that one bloom at the top right of the picture is drooping.  In a little bit, that droopy bloom shall breathe its last gasp and fall off.

It couldn’t have been its exposure to direct sunlight, when the instructions clearly said that it can’t be exposed to direct sunlight.


And it couldn’t have been its daily watering, when the instructions clearly said that it should be thoroughly watered and not watered again until nearly dry, but not until bone dry.


Let me just state for the record that it’s not my fault.

Because it’s not.

The instructions did say that it normally lasts a couple of months.  And it has been a couple of months.

So it’s, um, right on schedule.

“It’s going to be completely bald soon!”  Zen Mum wails each time she steps into her bedroom and catches sight of the orchid.

Yup, that’ll be a sight to behold when that happens.

Morale of this lesson:  find another orchid.

The End.

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Cultural Faux Paus

Zen Master saw an ad for shad fish, which was on sale this week at a local supermarket that dubbed itself an “international” grocery store. 

Delicious shad on sale?

Of course we went!

While there, we wandered all around.  I pushed the shopping cart up the Korean aisle, down the Mexican foodstuff, and then across the Asian section.

Then I came across this little fella on the way out.

The entire packaging was in German.  It also said Frankfurt and I was impressed!

I have a chocolatey treat from Germany!

Which got me pondering on the way home.

I don’t really know anything about Germany.

So I went home and went on a virtual visit to Frankfurt, Germany.

While munching on my Hanuta, I glided over to the Cathedral.

While chomping on the sweet wafer, I perused the Archaeological Garden.

And at last, while I was licking the chocolate off my fingers, I gazed at the Fountain of Justice.

I love the Internet.

How else can I go visit Frankfurt without having to step on to a plane?

Then I went in search of Hanuta

And Hello!

It’s not a German-made candy!

It’s made in Italy!

According to International-Chocolates, Ferrero SpA is an Italian candy manufacturer that makes Hanuta Chocolate for the German market.

Hold the phone!

Talk about an cultural faux paus!

I hope I didn’t start an international incident!

Let me go get a nice glass of cold milk and call it a truce.

The things I do for world peace.


Note:  Hanuta Chocolate and Ferrero SpA don’t know me from Adam.  I’m not getting one penny from them for writing this, although I wouldn’t say no to an all-expense paid trip to Frankfurt if I was offered it.  Just so we’re clear.

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