Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

Letter to Benny: Honorary Godmother

Honorary Godmother:  someone who buys premium gifts for Godson.

My dear Benny.

My beautiful nephew.

Guess who is your honorary Godmama? 

Guess who is the lucky Auntie who gets to dote on you with love and kisses and plenty of sweets before returning you to your parents?

Guess who is in utter fascination with all things baby Benny?

Your Auntie Sally is who!

Your Auntie/Honorary Godmother is who!

And I didn’t come alone.

We would’ve been here sooner to meet you if it wasn’t for the 4-week head-cold/allergy-sickness-meds-could-not-get-rid-of-and-what-also-stumped-the-doctors illness that your Auntie suffered through.

Never mind the fact that because it took us an extra month to finally see you that our gift of baby onesies became muscle shirts, you having outgrown them already. 

Note to self:  next time we buy onesies, get 6-9 months instead of 3-6 months.  Muscle shirts quite unattractive on Benny, no matter how cute he truly is.

Guess who will be thinking of you each and every day with love from afar?

And guess who had the most profound paradigm shift of all things children when she finally, finally held you in her arms?

Just your Auntie Sally in the Zen who has never held a baby in her arms.

Until you.


Auntie & Honorary Godmother Sally in the Zen.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Letter to Benny: Places To Go, Things to See

My dear Benny.

Lately I’ve been thinking about places that I’m going to take you, to see things that will make your eyes bright with wonder.

Benny:  Like where, Auntie Sally?

Me:  Like the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in DC.  You’ll see things that can fly through the air and into space.  Space exploration is truly something to see.

Benny:  But Auntie Sally, I can do space travel with Star Trek.  Armageddon with Bruce Willis isn’t too bad either.

Uh, but wasn’t that movie rated PG-13? 

Me:  Uh…well…ok.  How about we explore the bottom of the ocean with the National Aquarium in Baltimore?  We can see stingrays and scary sharks!

Benny:  But Auntie Sally, I’ve seen scary sharks in Finding Nemo.  The clown fish is my favorite!

Hm.  This is harder than I thought.

Me:  Well, in that case, we’re going to have to visit the National Museum of Natural History!  Wait until you see the dinosaurs there!

Benny:  But Auntie Sally, Jurassic Park is on IMAX.  The T-Rex is awesome!  It sure can run fast!

Must.  Practice.  Patience.

Must.  Remember.  I.  Am.  Peace.  Loving.  Buddhist.

I’m not going to be trumped by a month-old smart aleck kiddie.

Me:  Okay, how about…

Benny:  Oh, and Journey to the Center of the Earth with Brendan Fraser is great too, Auntie Sally.  You should see it!

OMG, did this kid just steal my thunder

Being an auntie is going to be tougher than I thought.   But with a nephew like this, I’ve got game.


Smartie Pamper-pants Benny


Technorati Tags: , ,

Unprecedented Events – Part 4

Click here for Part Three:


Mounds and mounds of thick toilet paper – check.

Mountains of turkey burger in the frig – check.

Multiple packs of fresh Duracell batteries – check.

Two hurricane oil lamps – check.

Ready for Hurricane Irene – check check.

Bring it on, Baby!

We’re soo ready for you! 

So when she blew into town, it was early Sunday morning, a couple of hours after midnight, and we were asleep.  The billowing winds tore up the trees outside our windows, whipping them an inch of their leaves.

And I sat up in bed in the middle of this, scratching a burning itch on my left hand.  And just in time to hear a BOOM before the entire house shook into absolute silence.

And that was just great.

Now we’re living back in the Stone Ages.  No electricity.  No TV.  No hot water. 

And no electricity for our electric stove for cooking our mountains of turkey burger.  It didn’t occur to me — until that moment — that we were quite stocked up with fresh food sitting in our frig and not one can of food in the cabinets.

Not.  A.  One.


Me:  How come we didn’t stock up on canned goods?  Why did we buy fresh food that we can’t cook without electricity?

Zen Master:  Because I don’t do canned food.

Zen Mum:  But that’s what people do in an emergency.  They buy canned food.

Zen Master:  I’m not people.

So how long were we in the Dark Ages?  What did we do for food?

Excellent questions.

We were without electricity for three whole bloody days.  Our only source of light was the hurricane oil lamps, which Zen Master regularly snarked at us to be careful with, the glass containers tops being quite fragile. 

Which he himself promptly dropped and shattered on Day Two.

Good job, Zen Master.  Way to go.

As for food, as soon as it was light out that very morning on Sunday, we left the cave for civilization.  Strange how these things go, because we passed blocks of houses in a similar situation while another block would be just fine. 

The supermarket was just fine, and opened for business.  What’s up with that?

After promptly filling up on a hearty breakfast, we bought a portable gas stove, powered by cans of propane gas. 

And this little fella made things just fine.

Surprisingly, thankfully, we suffered no food spoilage.  Something about the frig being a natural vacuum of cold air, and not opening it too often keeping it cold.  But we did get a couple bags of ice for the extreme perishables, dumping the ice into our ice cooler and packing our delicates in it.

All in all, we did alright. 

We had fire, we had hot food, we had hot water. 

And in the morning of the third day, the electricity finally came back up. 

Hallelujah!  WOO HOO!

FINALLY!  After a freaking earthquake and then this mess of a hurricane, we can finally go back to normal!  I mean, I’m tired and I just want to chill out and do absolutely nothing now.

Is that so much to ask?

I guess it was, because we realized then that I was now having a problem of very different nature.


Technorati Tags: ,

A Letter to Benny: Visionary

My dear Benny.

I marvel that you’re here. 

That you have graced us with your presence in this particular point in our lives, in this particular day and age. 

Since your arrival, I’ve found myself thinking about something that I never truly thought about. 

I’ve found myself thinking about time.

By the time you are able to read your auntie’s blog, a number of years will have passed.  If I am truly blessed, I will have ample amounts of time to spend with you, teaching you the essentials that only an auntie can teach.

Like making you understand and truly comprehend that dark chocolate is really, really good for your health.

Like doing the Electric Slide without having your Pampers riding up into delicate parts.

Like looking up at the clear night sky and wishing upon that one bright and brillant star.

Yes, you’ve got me thinking about time.  My living years will become your history.  My current events will be but stories to you.  I understand that now.  Never really thought about that. 

Until now.

If you’ll indulge me for a few moments, I want to tell you about the day you were born.  Thanks to the Internet and remarkable technology, I met you for the very first time, online.  I was able to see you all waddled up in a baby blanket with your tiny fragile head capped with a baby head cozy.

You took my breath away.

You see, the person who made it possible for me to see you passed on this week. 

His name was Steve Jobs.

He died this past Wednesday at the young age of 56.  People say that he was a visionary who changed our world.

And they are right.

Just as I marvel at how you are here with us today, I marvel that I am living through a profound moment that is passing into history right before my own eyes. 

I am truly blessed to have lived in the same lifetime as this visionary.

When you’re older, you’ll learn about Shakespeare, Monet, and Einstein.  And Jobs.  You’ll learn on technology that was created by him, use products that were made by him, and grow into a remarkable man for it.

But at the moment, it is I who am better for it, for with it, I met you, my dear Benny.


Auntie Sally in the Zen

Thank you Steve Jobs.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Unprecedented Events – Part 3

Click here for Part Two:


As far as unprecedented events went, going through an earthquake is definitely on our short list. 

So was waiting for its aftershock.

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I were glued to our TV, watching the news rehash, repeat and restate all things about the historic earthquake.  According to Wikipedia, the last time my area had an earthquake was in 1897, also with a similar magnitude of 5.8 or 5.9.

That’s not exactly reassuring.

According to most of the news, we were in dire straits with the aftershock.  The magnitude could be stronger.  The magnitude could be greater.  The magnitude could be significant.

But no matter the magnitude, what in the world else can one do, other than buckle down and ride it out?

Or in our case, sleep through it.

The one everyone was waiting for came on Thursday, August 25th, 2011 in the wee hours of the morning.  A 4.5 magnitude aftershock.

We didn’t feel a thing and slept right through it.

If we didn’t have another earthquake in another 114 years, why, that would be just fine by us.

The worst was over.

Now we can finally get on with our lives.  A bit of normalcy after all that rocking and rolling would be just great.  It was almost the weekend and we were just so ready to chill out from such a crazy week.

Except, Hurricane Irene was en route.

According to Wikipedia, Hurricane Irene was the first major hurricane of the season. 

And a first for Zen Master, Zen Mum and myself as we’ve never had the privilege of riding out a hurricane.  I mean, lest I need to remind you, we do live in Maryland and these things just don’t happen.

Until now.


Technorati Tags: ,

Unprecedented Events – Part 2

Click here for Part One.


We believe that animals are quite intuitive to the goings-on in the world. If only we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear what they have to say.

48 hours later – Tuesday, August 23, 2011:

I was at work when the earthquake hit.  My first.  Ever.

I was on the phone when the woman on the other end started screaming that her building was shaking.  As soon as she said that, the floor underneath my own feet shook.  It started out slowly but gained in strength until I actually felt as if the building was rolling on a wave. 

A wave on Terra Firma!


I was caught in an earthquake!

Later I would find out that the East Coast suffered a 5.8 earthquake, originating from Mineral, Virginia.  But at the moment, I was living through my first earthquake and my first thought was to call Zen Master and Zen Mum.

And the phone just rang and rang.

Strangely enough, although the cell phones weren’t working, I finally got through to them by land-line. 

Zen Master had been in the kitchen, reading his Chinese newspaper.  Zen Mum was in the living room, watching TV.  When the earthquake struck, the house trembled.  Thinking that a neighbor was getting carried away with renovations, Zen Master didn’t pay it any mind until things started falling off the table.

And that was when he jumped up and raced to the living room to get Zen Mum. 

However, she didn’t move from the sofa. 

“What was that?”  she asked as she watched Zen Master race into the room. 

“Earthquake!  Earthquake!”  He grabbed her by the hand and dragged her to her feet.  “We got to go!”

And they stumbled out into the street, joining neighbors who had reacted faster and were already outside.

I thank God that they were all right.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t thinking to get out of my building. 

I actually stayed.

I don’t know why I did that.  Maybe because I was in denial, because there wasn’t supposed to be earthquakes here.  I live in Maryland, for goodness sake!

Maybe it was because I believed that I was not in harm’s way.

Maybe it was because it couldn’t possibly happen to me.

When all was said and done, I did what any sane person who survived her first earthquake would do.

I went to Happy Hour and devoured an order of Truffle French Fries.

Later that same evening, finally safe and sound at home with Zen Master and Zen Mum, I stood by my bedroom window and finally heard them.

The crickets were chirping loudly. 

The evening sounds of their song, Nature’s night music had returned.

Where had they been?


Technorati Tags: , ,

Unprecedented Events – Part 1

Sunday, August 21st, 2011:

It all started with one seemingly innocent statement.

“It’s so quiet.”  Zen Master muttered with a slight frown.  He said this a moment after we left the house, but I wasn’t really paying attention.

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I were out and about, doing our usual nothings on a bright, sunny Sunday.

In the midst of our power-walking around the high school track, Zen Master glanced around the trees and remarked again about the quiet. 

While we were grocery shopping, while I was lugging bags of foodstuff out of the shopping cart into the car trunk, Zen Master looked up at the blue sky and mumbled . 

While we were window-shopping around the mall, again as we stepped out into the parking lot to go home, Zen Master tilted his head towards the sky and paused.

This was happening all day long.  It wasn’t until we finally came home that I finally bit the bullet and asked.

“What’s so quiet?”  I watched him look back up at the sky and glance around for something.  “You’ve been acting funny all day.  Are you okay?”

“There’s no birds.”  Zen Master  remarked.  “There hasn’t been any birdsong all day.  No crickets singing.  No anything.”

That was when I became aware of his observation.  There was no sound.  No wind.  No birds.  No crickets. 


“I wonder where all the birds went.”  Zen Master murmured.  “It’s just so strange.  I wonder what’s going on.”

This reminded me of the Chinese folklore that he loved to tell me about once in a while.  The condensed version was that on the 7th day of the 7th month of each year, all the birds would disappear and there would be utter silence across the land.  They all were helping the children of a Goddess visit their immortal mother in only that one day out of the entire year.

I’ll tell you about it sometime.

But that Sunday was like a page out of that Chinese folklore.

Except it wasn’t the 7th day of the 7th month of the year.


Technorati Tags: ,

Match-Made – Conclusion

Click here for last chapter:  Part Three.


Match-Make #3:

Years had passed since the last episode of attempted match-making.  So when Zen Master approached me with another candidate, I was actually surprised.  I had thought that we were finished but good.

“Why are you humoring this guy?”  I was referring to his friend.  He had called Zen Master about a fella who was looking for a wife.  And the fella was already in the United States, so he wasn’t looking for anything but a mate. 

“Because Zen Mum and I have spoken about this, and we would really like you to meet him.”  Zen Master spoke quietly and without reservation.  “We won’t always be here and we would like you to not be alone.”

I sighed, because whenever Zen Master gets in these moods, who am I to say no? 

“What does he do?”  I asked with resignation.  “Where does he live?”

The answers:  he owned a restaurant and lived here in Maryland.

Okay, let’s stop right here for a moment. 

This was the first time that I had a restaurant owner sent my way, and I wasn’t about to look a gift horse in the mouth.  I HEART FOOD.

But I wasn’t about to lose all self-respect either.

So Zen Master and I decided to pose as customers and eat at his restaurant.  What better way to kill two birds with one stone?

The outcome?  We went, ate his food offerings, and checked him out surreptitiously.

Sorry to say, folks, but he didn’t blow my hair back.  Or Zen Master’s.  His restaurant was ok, the food a bit bland, and him?  I’m sure he’s a fine person but he was dull.  He didn’t engage in conversation with his customers, his demeanor was stiff and he never once cracked a smile. 

How could I ever be with a person who didn’t crack a smile?  And why would I?

Ah, well.  Here’s to always hoping for the best.

Technorati Tags: ,