Sally in the Zen

Confessions of a Befuddled Zen Buddhist

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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Korean Soap Opera

One recent evening, I walked through the door and found Zen Master and Zen Mum sitting on the couch, their eyes glued to the TV.

I peeked at the screen and saw that they were watching, again, their most favorite Korean soap opera.

Unfortuntely there’s no English translation for the show, so I can’t even begin to tell you the name of it.  But I can certainly show you.

The name of this Korean show is the name of the lady on the cover of the DVD set.  The story was about the lady who was a cook in the Imperial Palace and due to political intrigue, got her butt kicked out and after some time, came back as a medically trained doctor to assume a closer position to the King and the Queen.  In the end, bad guys go to jail, good guys rule and she marries her true love.

The guy on the cover of the DVD is her true love.

Now although this drama is a Korean-based story, the marvel that is technology provided Mandarin translation on the DVD.

So Zen Master and Zen Mum can watch it to their hearts’ content.

Which they have, many, many, many times.

I lost count how many times they’ve watched that show.

“You’re watching this again?”  I asked them.

“It’s a great movie.”  said Zen Mum.

“It’s not a movie.”  I said.  “It’s a soap opera.  I thought you don’t like soap opera.”

“It’s not a soap opera.”  Zen Master said, sniffing delicately.  “It’s a great movie with many chapters.”

“Isn’t that what a soap opera is?”  I asked.

But the cool thing about this movie/soap opera is the cooking scenes.  The movie actually used an authentic Korean chef to train the actors to cook convincingly on the show.

And Zen Master and Zen Mum actually learned new ingredients and new ways of enhancing flavors in some dishes. 

Zen Mum started crumbling toasted seaweed on our fried rice dishes now, which actually made it quite tasty.

Zen Master last year started experimenting with some Chinese melons as soup base, which he perfected now.

All this from a soap opera.

Now, if only it had English translation on it, then I can finally jump on the bandwagon.

Oh well.

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Milk Kick

Zen Master, Zen Mum and I don’t really have a favorite supermarket.  We tend to go visit and wander around everywhere because, you know, it has food.  Rows and rows of colorful, bright, fragrant edibles!

And very pretty, fragrant flowers.



With Zen Master now into his milk kick, with his two big glasses of milk a day, he’s starting to pay attention to other things in the world of dairy.

Like organic.

“Is it really organic?”  He asked as he slid his glasses on and peered closer at the sign that says ORGANIC milk.  “How do we really know if it’s organic?”

I shrugged.  “Maybe that’s why they put that ORGANIC sticker on it.”

But Zen Master persisted.  “But is it really organic?”

“Why don’t we keep the receipt, just in case?”  I suggested.  “Try it out and if you’re happy with it, I bet they’ll give us back our money.  No big deal.”

Zen Mum peeked into the grocery cart.  “Isn’t milk…milk?

Excellent question.

Inquiring minds want to know.

So as soon as we got home, Zen Master broke into the milk and poured himself a full cup of the organic milk.

Zen Mum and I crowded around Zen Master, waiting for him to stop pondering and musing and just spit it out.

But rather than waiting for his verdict, I grabbed a mug and sampled some for myself.

It was cool, quite refreshing.

It was smooth and quite creamy.

It was..milk.

And I promptly got the runs.

Yes, my name is Sally and I forgot that I’m a little lactose-intolerant.

Oh well.

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Crow like a Rooster

Zen Master is always telling me stories of his childhood, growing up on a farm in rural China.  He would tell me about the chickens in his yard, his pet goose playing with his pet cat and his pet dog.  He would relive for me moments of time from his memories of his home.

So, a few years ago, I brought home two small black travel alarm clocks, one for Zen Master and one for Zen Mum.

Because these cute little things could be set up to coo-coo like a cuckoo clock or crow like a rooster.

Kinda like this little guy.

I mean, how cute is that?

“I haven’t heard a rooster crow since China!”  Zen Master replied as he watched me fiddle with the programming on the alarm clock.  “Are you sure it sounds like a rooster?”

Always a doubting Thomas, Zen Master.

But he took to the alarm clock as soon as that darn thing crowed.

So I programmed both alarm clocks to crow.

How cute would that be, to have two roosters crowing in the morning?


Okay, now that we’ve had them for a number of years, I can say…

…they’re not that damn cute anymore.

What the heck was I thinking?

Every morning those darn roosters shriek and I want to kill them!

I want to throw my shoe at them and make them shut up!

There’s actually no volume control and I know that my neighbors can hear them!

When you don’t push the snooze button on them right away, those damn roosters would crow louder and faster!


“Don’t even think about it.”  Zen Master warns me whenever he sees that gleam in my eye.  “Those are my roosters.”

“They’re alarm clocks, not a roosters.”

“I like them, so keep your paws off my roosters.”

Yeah, now I think twice whenever I come across something “cute”.

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Roquefort Blue Cheese

The first cheese that Zen Master ever encountered in his youth in China was blue cheese.

“It stank!”  He recalled when a friend shared it with him.  “It was like stinky socks!  Why in the world would anyone eat this stuff?!”

Because he wanted to know what it tasted like, he tried it.

And promptly gagged and threw up.

This is one of his most vivid memories from his younger years.  And every time we go grocery shopping, when we pass the Cheese section, he would always peek at all the wonderful assortment of cheeses and point out always the blue cheeses.

So while we were shopping at Trader Joe’s over the weekend, Zen Master, Zen Mum and I picked up the Roquefort Blue Cheese.

OMG!!  The MOLD!  The MOLD!

Would you LOOK at that MOLD?!

“That’s nothing!”  Zen Master said as he eyed it before taking a deep whiff of it.  “The one I had was moldier and smellier!”

The SMELL!!  OMG, the STENCH!!

OMG!!  The TASTE!!


It was pretty damn tasty!

Me:  UMMM….YUMMM…..SLURP…..DROOL…..must…have…more…moldy…cheese….

Zen Master:  SLURP…UMMMMMHUNMMUUM…..good…cheese....

Zen Mum:  YUCK!!…ACK!!…GAG!!…BLAH!…disgusting

And I flew over to rescue those precious, precious moldy morsels from her plate before she could chuck them in the trash.


Who would have thought that something made out of raw sheep milk in a limestone cave would be so damn tasty?

According to Wikipedia:  “Before Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, it was common in country districts for shepherds to apply this cheese to wounds in order to avoid gangrene.

Um, eewww.

Ok.  I think that’s enough information about Roquefort Blue Cheese for me.

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Red T-Shirt

“Do we have a red T-shirt anywhere?”  Zen Master asked dourly, as he wandered from my closet to his closet, and then into Zen Mum’s closet.

“I think we have a red T-shirt somewhere.”  I watched as he came out of the closet and started rummaging through his drawers.  “What do you need a red shirt for?”

Zen Master doesn’t wear red.

“I have to wear something red to work for Valentine’s Day.”  His words were muffled as he went down on hands and knees and peeked under the bed to pull out a drawer from underneath.  “Nonsense.  Nothing but a bunch of hooey.”

“Aw, isn’t that cute?”  Zen Master was the only male in the all-women kitchen crew at the public school that he worked in. 

“No,”  he snarked as he finished going through the drawer and stuck it back underneath the bed.  “This is complete crap!  Valentine’s Day should be for other people.  Why do I have to wear red?  I don’t even like red!”

“Well, it’ll match your face right now.”  I murmured and got an evil glare from him.

“Here’s my shirt that you can wear.”  Zen Mum came in, holding up her burgurdy T-shirt.  “I don’t have to wear red.”

Zen Mum’s burgurdy T-shirt:  an item from Sears for a few bucks.

Zen Master wearing Zen Mum’s clothing on Valentine’s Day:  PRICELESS.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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