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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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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Zucchini Bites

Since it’s been awhile that we’ve had zucchini bites, Zen Mum started craving for some.

When I make it, it’s just dipping it into an egg wash and rolling it around a dry mix of panko and seasoned bread crumbs.  Then I drop them into the fryer for a few minutes until soft.  Serve hot and with marinara sauce.


But Zen Mum saw a healthier version of zucchini bites on Maryland Public Television.  It was baked, rather than fried.

Defeats the whole point to me, because everything fried is always quite yummy.

But baked?

So she whipped up a batch with her own recipe.  Instead of egg wash, she threw together mayo and mustard, dipped the zucchini bites into it and then coated them with straight-up panko.  Baked it for a few minutes until soft and served hot.


I only gorged on them.

Okay, so baked beat the pants off fried in this round. 

I’m tall enough to admit when I made a mistake. 

As my punishment, I’ll have to finish off the rest of the zucchini bites.

Tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Happy Friday!

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Break for food

I’m working on my laptop in the living room, and I take a break.  So I go into the kitchen to brew some tea.

But I hear tap-tap-tap.


I stop what I’m doing, the tea kettle still in my hand and I strain to listen for that strange sound again.

Tap-tap-tap.  Tap-tap-tap.

Then I sigh, because it sounds like Zen Mum jumped on to my laptop and started a game of Spider Solitarie.

I think Zen Mum is addicted to Spider Solitaire.

I could be wrong.

But I really don’t think so.

I set the tea kettle on the fire and peek into the living room and I see . . .

. . . Zen Mum happily tap-tap-tapping away on my laptop.

Me:  I’m not finished with the laptop.

Zen Mum: (her face squinting with concentration)  I’m almost finished.

Me:  How about you pop in your exercise video?  By the time you finish your exercise, I should be finished with the computer.

Zen Mum:  No.

Me:  When was the last time you did your aerobics?

Zen Mum:  No.

And I watch as she finishes her one game and start a new one.

Me:  Okay, how about you step away from the computer with both hands up?

Zen Mum:  I’m almost finished.

Drastic times call for drastic measures so I shuffle into the kitchen.  A few minutes later, I emerge with a small plate of Rosemary and Olive Oil Triscuits with sharp white cheddar cheese. 

I crunch loudly on the tasty Triscuit and Zen Mum’s head jerk up from the laptop. 

Zen Mum:  (holding her hands up to me)  Gimme.

Me:  mmmhhhmmmm…tasty….

Zen Mum:  (more emphatic now, her hands waving at me):  Gimme!

Me:  If you want some, you’ll have to eat it in the kitchen. 

I slowly back away toward the kitchen, munching now on a piece of cheese.  Zen Mum springs to her feet and chases after me.

The things I have to do to get my laptop back.

And the sad thing is, that food trick works on me!

I, too, break for food.

It runs in the family.

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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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