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February, 2009: 3 8 17 23 25

2/3/09-Tues.-Am up in Waco again, visiting with Mom, Joel, Ernie, Caroline, Horace, Leila, and Keith. It's Ernie's belated birthday celebration. He and Caroline are getting ready to move to Honduras for a year's stay. Both will be doing volunteer work with a school for the deaf there. Ernie will likely also be doing projects with some other non-profits in that country.

There is some frustration in the air this evening since Ernie and Caroline have been wanting to present a slide show of pictures from recent times in Honduras, as they were there just last month. However, even with Caroline, Joel, and Horace working on it separately and together, there has been no success getting the pictures from a laptop to either Mom's big-screen TV and/or a sheet draped over it.

Later.-The slideshow was at last presented, with lots of interesting photos from Honduras or from a birthday party that William and Carolyn (Caroline being there too) gave Ernie.

2/8/09-Sun.-Have just completed a weekend meditation workshop sponsored by my south Austin meditation group. I attended the same type retreat last April. The combination of these workshops, at least once a year, my extra meditation on long solo trips (as to Taos last fall), plus weekly group sitting is helpful for the more regular meditation practice I do. The philosophy of this group and teacher is derived from Buddhist and Zen traditions. It is not as free of ritual or reference to some ancient or hypothetical divine authority as I would prefer - since I would only be comfortable, I think, with no such baggage - but it comes the closest to this ideal I have been able to find.

By simply attending to my meditation method yesterday, I experienced a deeper level of relaxation, equanimity, and well, joyful energy than I have for months. By this morning, though, it seemed to have dissipated and was even replaced in part by a mood of almost cynical defiance, as in "Yeah. Right!" This was accompanied by skepticism and even a bit of anger.

I think I was mad at myself for having gone overboard last night. For instance, in my immoderate enthusiasm, I presumed I had great insight into a friend's complicated dream, but reality set in there quickly enough, and then I grew sad both at my flippant arrogance and at having analyzed it incorrectly. By this evening, I am feeling depression, perhaps in part because all the immediate stimulus for my being "up" before is now gone. Thus, in less than 24 hours, I've gone through quite a succession of "high" and "low" emotions, unfortunately a not uncommon effect for me of intensive meditation efforts. For better or worse, no real harm has been done, my ego has received painful lessons, I have gained a few new insights, and I am perhaps just a bit improved in my meditation habits.

One possibly significant new understanding came from meeting yesterday with the meditation teacher. She advised that it is a mistake to have the concept of the practice as involving a separate observer, outside the activities in which one is engaged. Rather there is first to be a foundation of concentrated practice, focusing on the sensations of breath, sounds, bodily perceptions otherwise, or on the thinking or feeling distractions to those perceptions as they naturally arise, after which the attention is returned again and again to a focus. Then, in the context of this "simple" ongoing routine or foundation, one is to be more fully engaged in all other aspects of ordinary life. A useful reminder, to reflect on often during one's meditation regimen: "I am responsible for my own practice."

Meanwhile, once again, after perhaps a dozen times over the last 4-5 months, Frances and I are eager for but not very hopeful of receiving a good rain shower tonight. Our central TX drought is terribly severe and has been continuing for a considerable time. We are supposed to have a 50% chance of precipitation through the hours of darkness. However, lately we seem to require a 100% chance and the appearance of drops actually falling before any true wet weather can be celebrated.

2/17/09-Tues.-A drizzly, cool day here in Austin today. Last week, we finally got about an inch and a half of rain, and things have not dried out much since.

This morning, I was up till nearly 3 A.M. researching value stocks and writing an entry for Investor's Journal. I was also up about 7:30 this morning, so am tired.

Yesterday evening, I jogged around the house with Puff for a few minutes. But afterward I had a coughing fit, as if some liquid had gone down the windpipe or I were having an asthma attack. It lasted close to an hour. I drank some tea with honey, which seemed to help.

I sent off a book group meeting reminder and got some investing details taken care of early today, did my morning ablutions, etc., then took the dog with me when I went for a cheap haircut, next over to Chick-fil-A for a free breakfast (with a coupon), on to Wal-Mart for a bit of essential shopping, and finally to the bank before heading back home for a badly needed nap.

My dream group friend, Janet (who had moved to NYC to be with her fiancé last year) and I had been corresponding a lot lately about each other's dreams. Last week, she ignored some of my comments about a dream of hers till after I had sent a second, more detailed interpretation, altogether spending 2-3 hours on it. She still did not reply till late the following day and let me know she had been busy since early that morning but had actually not needed anything else on it since my initial, off-the-top-of-my-head analysis. So, I sent her an e-mail asking that, if it happens that way again, she send a note to let me know so I could drop it and not waste any more time trying to get more out of the dream. No reply. I am depressed, thinking the friendship may have meant so little to her that my one comment would have pissed her off. If indeed the relationship is that fragile, good riddance, but I still feel badly.

The acid reflux seems about as bad a nuisance as ever. An ongoing frustration. I suppose I shall need to give up all forms of spiciness, caffeine, or alcohol to hopefully get it under better control. These had already been greatly reduced, but evidently there is little or no tolerance for them. It is hard to do without them entirely, especially things like hot salsa or even decaffeinated coffee, particularly when the daily schedule means I am often fighting fatigue.

Mary's mom died this just past Valentine's Day, but was 90, and it was not unexpected. Janie and Andy, my sister-in-law and brother, fly out to Honduras today, planning to spend a year working with a church mission deaf school there.

2/23/09-Mon.-Janet and I are back in easy communications with one another, and there has been no further comment about my earlier small dissent. In the last several days, she has interpreted one of my dreams and I one of hers, both analyses quite helpful.

Late last week, Fran and I put out another set of family newsletters. No big deal, but it kept us so busy that the night of 2/20-2/21 I stayed up till about 5 A.M. getting my part of it finished.

This morning I had a couple dreams in which previously dry areas were now very humid or had expanses of standing water along with slow streams. By coincidence, a few hours later, our kitchen faucet began to gush with a leak which I could not stop competely, narrowing it finally only to a slow stream. I had to close off the flow from under the sink, and we shall need to get a plumber to replace the faucet. It seems to have a worn out gasket.

2/25/09-Wed.-Yesterday was a small window into hell as I oversaw the plumbing remedies for a badly leaking kitchen faucet, the problem having developed the day before, and also had the handyman try to fix a pesky problem with the tub in my bathroom dripping continuously over the last year or so. He fixed the latter difficulty, but dripping continued afterward, much to my frustration and anxiety (that we had been ripped off). However, all worked out well. The dripping was far less than before and stopped after only about a tablespoon of water had dripped out following the last faucet use. Fran even pitched in, clearing a sink drain in that bathroom which has been partially blocked for a long time. The new kitchen faucet looks great, works well, and is an improvement over the one that came with the house. The cost of the repairs was quite reasonable, and we now have a good contact for necessary future fix-it projects.

Have reconsidered participation in the dream groups and likely will be returning to their meetings, consistent with recent dreaming and Janet's interpretations.

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