With my new phone in hand, everything I do is fun, fun, fun because everything I do is a photo opportunity!
Even though I haven’t really learned the ins-and-outs of the camera yet, and even though the new phone is just enough bigger
than the old phone that I’m really clumsy with its controls.
Manual dexterity has never been one of my talents.
Yesterday, I worked with the lamas on past/present/future. Also on Thanksgiving.
My goal with the lamas has never been to teach them grammar but to make a kind of safe space where they wouldn’t feel embarrassed babbling in English.
It’s working with Norbu! But, of course, Norbu has more incentive to learn English: He’s the administrator in charge of running the place.
Norbu was born in the Dharamashala. He’s much better adapted to life in the secular world.
Tsering was born in Tibet—in fact, in the same province outside Lhasa that Lobsang was born in, though I can’t for the life of me remember the actual name
of that province. It’s the province from which all those women warriors clad in lapis lazuli and medieval armor rode out to confront the Chinese when the Chinese first invaded.
Tsering is having a rather tough time of it. Diaspora is all he’s ever known.
A lot of my nonstop buffoonery and goofing during my English lessons is expressly designed to get Tsering to crack a smile.
They asked me to stay for lunch, so I did. I was curious about daily life in the monastery. And I’m here to report monks are just as annoying as people in “real” life. In fact, I wondered whether that might be one of the factors behind Tsering’s obvious reluctance to learn English. I mean, granted: American English is
a very hard language to learn being a kind of linguistic jambalaya, balancing the tongues of every invader who ever set foot in the British Isles with a frothy white meringue topping of purely American slang and usage.
But I dunno.
Tsering speaks Tibetan, Hindi, and Nepali fluently, plus a couple of dialects from places in the Himalayans that used to be countries but aren’t anymore. (Mustang!) So, he obviously has an aptitude for language.
And he seems really blocked on English.
Maybe that block serves a functional purpose. ‘Cause I gotta say, if I had to interact with those American- and Brit-born monks on a regular basis, I’d take a vow of silence.
After lunch at the monastery, I went to the mall.
With my new camera and a couple of photo filters, the mall was creepier and more soul sucking than ever!
And practically empty, which does not speak well for the future of bricks-and-mortar retail in America, although granted: This was two o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon, and Wednesday is traditionally the worst retail day.
I was particularly captivated by the candy display at the Tar-Jay checkout stand. Another one of those situations where all the color in a grey universe seemed to be pooled into one small space:
Plus I kept wondering why it’s commodifiable art when Wayne Thiebaud does it but fungible kitsch when I do it.
In the evening, I went to the seasonal wrap-up meeting for the garden. We have $3,000 in our kitty.
There was a heated argument about homeless people
who steal our tomatoes!!!!! Should we install a high-tech security system? Maybe we should electrify the fence!
I think the total number of tomatoes that disappeared from the garden throughout the summer was maybe 20.
And I’m not sure they weren’t stolen by other gardeners whose tomatoes hadn’t come in yet.
The garden is
rather remote, and there were one or two times, working into the late afternoon, where I did feel a little… vulnerable
Like if the ghost of one of those ruthless Livingston robber barons suddenly materialized besides me, there would be absolutely no way I could fight it off.
I’m sensitive to safety issues. If the Garden Council wants to put in a lock because people feel nervous about being alone there, that’s okay with me.
But to ward off imaginary homeless people
? Because I can assure you, there are no vast hoards of shopping-cart-pushing homeless people
in the quaint and scenic town of Hyde Park.
“Maybe we could install a simple lock on the gate and then plant a few tomato plants and a couple of rows of lettuce out front where some of the ornamental flowers are now," I said. "So people can forage.”
“Absolutely not!” said the woman who was leading the charge against the imaginary homeless people. “If they want food, they can go to the food pantry like everyone else.”
“But the thing is that a lot of homeless people prefer to stay outside the institutional safety nets,” I said. “And maybe they’re hungry today
, and the food pantry doesn’t open till tomorrow
“That is not my problem,” the woman snapped. “If you give in to them, you’re just encouraging them.”
“You know, in pre-industrial England, there was this custom known as gleaning
,” I said pleasantly. “The poor would take the leftover crops after farmers had harvested. Eventually, the farmers actually started planting small bits of land with crops expressly for the poor. It’s a practice with roots in the Old Testament. Pre-dates capitalism!”
But the woman’s mouth was set in this sour sneer, and the expression on the face of the husband sitting meekly beside her left me in no doubt that this was a woman who was prepared to draw blood to get her own way.
I'd never once seen this woman in the garden, by the way. Though I saw her husband there all the time. And his plot was probably the nicest one there.
I pick my battles strategically.
So, no gleaning in next year's garden.
And now back to the fabulous and fascinating world of robo-financial advisors
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