Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

A Sentimental Fool

Riddle me this.

What is bright, golden white, something that I crave with a fiery passion of a supernova that leaves a scorcher of intense color?

Why, the beach, of course!


There’s absolutely something about the the warm sand and the cold ocean under my feet that leave me speechless in awe.  The salty air.  The ocean wind, the mouthwatering smell of greasy broadwalk fries and grilled onions wafting on it. 


I can honest-to-goodness almost smell those onions!






Ok, I’m finished now.



Zen Master, Zen Mum and I recently spent a glorious week at Rehoboth Beach, DE.

It was wonderful.

On the morning of our last day, Zen Master and I woke up at 5:00 AM to catch the sunrise.  When I asked Zen Mum if she wanted to join us, she just grunted at me before rolling over and falling back to sleep. 

Call me a romantic sentimental fool, but I just wanted to breathe in the morning salt air and witness a sunrise on our last day at the beach.  Zen Master certainly thought so.

Until he started walking the broadwalk with me that early morning.

We didn’t speak much.  We just meandered in the cool morning air, listening to the sea gulls screeching, the ocean waves crashing. 

It was relatively empty, except for the occasional jogger or power-walker.

It was lovely. 

So after strolling up and down the broadwalk, it finally was time for the brilliant sunrise.

According to the weather almanac, it was supposed to rise at 5:58 AM. 

And was it brilliant?

Did we witness the fiery ball of golden nature?!

Was the sky blazing with phoenix fire?

Uh, nope.

Not this morning.

C’est la vie.

“This is the first time that I’ve seen a sunrise at the beach.” Zen Master said.

“Really?”  I asked.  Although it really was quite overcast and nary a hint of orange sunlight.  We watched as the skies lightened.

“Since I’ve been in the United States.”  He murmured.  “The last time I saw a sunrise was when I was still in China.”

That was food for thought, really, because he’s been in the US for over forty years. 

To be a witness to a first for my Dad.

Yes, I am a sentimental fool.

And I thank Grace for allowing me to give that to my Zen Master.

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Easter Sunday

Zen Master looked at me with distress. 

“We have to go back to work tomorrow!”  He wailed loudly.

Zen Mum nodded.  “Sucks.”

Yes, my friends, Spring Break 2011 is finally over and the kids are upset.

Spring Break 2011 was a staycation for them, puttering around town and just staying local.

Some time ago, while Zen Master was waiting to pick Zen Mum up from work, he observed a track and field down the hill.  And decided to see if they could use it during their vacation.

Which they did throughout the week, when it wasn’t raining.

So where were we on that beautiful and warm Easter Sunday morning?

Yup, we were trekking all around that track.

After one lap, I stepped it up and mixed in light jogging and power-walking, and when I saw the concrete stairs leading up from the field, I powered up the stairs until I reached the top, huffing and puffing as if I just ran a marathon.  And when I finally caught my breath, I jumped up and punched the air with my fists, hooting and hollering like Rocky.

Because I made it up there without passing out!

Mount McKinley, here I come!

Uh, not.


When I caught up with Zen Master and Zen Mum, they were sweating and red-faced. 

And grinning like fools.

“This is better than walking around the neighborhood.”  Zen Master stated as a matter-of-factly. 

“How you figure?”  I asked.

“No pollution from cars driving by.”

Hm.  Never thought about that.

So for an entire hour, we trekked around that track, panting and gasping for breath, puffing with other like-minded people who wanted nothing but a good run.

Zen Master counted twelve laps when we finally called it quits.

Let me state for the record that I am a Zumba fan, shaking body parts that cry in protest. 

I am all about Step Class, stumping and jumping like nobody’s business.

And I live and breathe Body Pump, for I vow to get myself a JLo butt.

I am an athlete who gets ragged but bounces back with always my second wind.

Okay, so I’m using the word athlete quite liberally and loosely.

So when we finally got home, what did I do?

I washed up and went straight to bed.

The kids actually puttered me out.

And my bed never felt so good.

The End.

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Windshield Wiper

“We have to get a wiper.”  Zen Master said one day as we were driving home from the grocery store.  “My wiper is broken.”

“Your windshield wiper?”  I frowned at him.  “How did you break your windshield wiper?”

“When we had that snow storm last winter.  I was scraping the ice off the windshield and pulled the wiper up.  It was frozen to the glass and the rubber ripped off.”

“That’s smart.”  I said.  “Good going.”

Zen Master gave me his evil eye as he slouched deeper into the passenger seat.  “Stuff happens, you know.”

So we went to the auto parts store and bought the replacement blade for only the driver side.  The cashier offered to help us replace it on the car but I refused because I knew how to do it.  I had to replace my own some time ago and I vaguely remembered how to do it.


“You sure you know what to do?”  Zen Master asked as he watched me pop out the new wiper out of the box.  “We can go back and get that guy to do it.”

“I know how to do it.”  I reassured him.  “We just need to flip something or squeeze something and the old one will pop right out.  Piece of cake.”

But he eyed me with doubt.

So much for a vote of confidence.

He was holding the replacement blade, watching me fiddle with the old one.  I was twisting, squeezing, pinching, wriggling it until it finally came out.  See, I knew what I was doing.  I gave Zen Master a smirk but he still looked at me as if he was ready to bolt back into the store and drag that poor guy out by his hair.

I took the new one and it was a bit trickier but I managed to snap it on in quick time. 

I threw my arms up in triumph! 

I don’t no stinkin’ help!

Now I was ready to rebuild a car engine! 

Zen Master clambered into the driver’s seat.  “I want to see if it works.”

Then he started the engine and a moment later, we watched as water squirted the windshield and the wipers started wiping.  After a couple of swishes of the blade, Zen Master looked at me happily.  “It works!  It works!”

It really doesn’t take much to make my Zen Master happy.

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Spring Break

“Guess who’s on vacation this week?”  Zen Mum smirked smirked at me from the sofa where she and Zen Master were lounging.  “Guess who don’t have to work this week?”

Then both she and Zen Master jumped to their feet and started twitching and shaking body parts that really shouldn’t be moving at all. 

This officially marks the kids out of school for Spring Break.

Kids = Zen Master and Zen Mum.

Who else would I be talking about?

Who needs kids when I have two of them thumping and bouncing in front of me?

At least I don’t have to worry about them too too much.

I don’t have to worry that they will be binge-drinking or chain-smoking with their friends. 

I can’t tell you what a load off my mind that is.

I don’t have to worry that they will charge up the credit cards with frivolous purchases or zoom around Baltimore, street-racing in their Rav4.

Nope, don’t have to worry about that this year.

And I really don’t have to worry that they will abuse the Internet and post strange pictures of themselves on the Web.

Can’t tell you what a relief that is!

They’re pretty reliable, trustworthy kids, all in all.

Wouldn’t trade them in for the world.

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Auntie Sally

When the photo was sent to my phone, I looked at it at all angles.  No matter how I turned my phone left or right, the black and white photo was still fuzzy and weird.

What the heck is it?

David:  It’s an ultrasound of the baby.

Me:  Baby?

David and Evelyn are expecting their first baby!

My brother David is going to be a daddy.

Which will make me a first time auntie.

Aunt Sally.

Auntie Sally.

Has a nice ring to it.

Auntie Sally, I don’t care what anyone says, you’re the bestest auntie in the whole wide world!

Uh, thanks.  I think.

Auntie Sally, you’re the BOMB.

You better believe it, kid.  But I’m still not buying you that iPhone.

Kid, wait til you get a load of us.

To be continued.

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Burger Boy

“How was your day?”  I asked Zen Mum during dinner one recent evening. 

“Same old, same old.”  Zen Mum mumbled with her mouth full of food.  This is her standard line when it comes to work.  Not much variety working in the cafeteria of a public school.

Except this one day long time ago when I had to rush to pick her up because it was rumored that a gang fight was going to break out immediately after the final bell.

“How about you?”  I turned to Zen Master.  “How was your day?”

Zen Master is the only man in his school kitchen and the bunch of ladies that he sees everyday usually keeps him on his toes.  Because his strong work ethics dictate his doing good work in the most efficient and effective way, he’s quite industrious all around the kitchen.  He would zoom around the cafeteria, set up his station, serve food to the kids, clean up his station, zip all around the kitchen and help others out.  Lately he’s been helping out a couple of ladies ready the chicken patty sandwiches and cheeseburgers.  There would be hundreds of sandwiches and burgers that needed to be put together.

But his standard line would be:  Same Sh**.

Except this night.

As I directed my question to him, he immediately scowled into his rice bowl. 

“What happened today?”

“I was helping out with the burgers today.”  He said as he poked his chopsticks into a piece of chicken. 

“Yeah, so?”

“Do you know what they call me now?”  He stuffed the chicken into his mouth and chewed and chewed.

I knew it was a rhetorical question so I didn’t say anything but continued to look at him.

I was still waiting for him to swallow that darn piece of chicken.

When he finally did, he declared with indignation, “Burger Boy!”

“They call you Burger Boy?”  I asked blankly.  “The cafeteria ladies call you Burger Boy?”

He glared at me, his cheeks hot with embarrassment and irritation.

I’m sorry but I need to confess something.

I was on the floor, crying, hot tears streaming down my face, I was laughing so hard. 

I almost wet my pants, it was so funny!

“It’s not funny!”  Zen Master shouted at me, which just made me holler louder.  He looked at Zen Mum.  “She’s laughing at me!”

I wiped the tears off my face with my fingers.  “I’m not laughing at you, Zen Master.  I’m laughing with you.” 

Then I paused for a second as he continued to cast his evil eye at me.  “Nope, nope, sorry, I’m laughing at you this time.  Burger boy.”  And I burst out laughing in his face again.

He didn’t speak to me for the rest of the dinner.

Sorry, but it was worth it.

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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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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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