Monday, June 29, 2009

A note from the top of the world

I got a postcard from a friend of mine.  A note from the top of the world. She is in Barrow. Alaska. Wow!  What an amazing place. Literally on top of the world.  71° 17′ 33″ N, 156° 47′ 18″ W   

Here's where you can see the freezing summer fog, lol.

I'm enjoying the warmth of a San Diego summer evening, she has 3 degrees below freezing right now.  That's their Idea of high summer, LOL. 

We met several years ago at FNCC (Florida Nature and Culture Center, just outside Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.  FNCC is a Buddhist conference center.  It is so great.  I have always determined to go once a year, and so far I have, even twice a couple of times.  This year is a big challenge.  As Nichiren said,  "Still I am not discouraged."   I'm planning to go in December.  Logic says no, but I'm saying yes. And chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo and making every possible cause to change my destiny.

Anyway, I met T. there, and we have kept in touch ever since.  She is a nurse who travels under contract to places that need her, and they tend to be extreme.  A very hot, dusty corner of Arizona or Nevada, a very cold spot in Alaska.  She has been to Alaska many times and loves it there.  Loves to fish in the fishing derby.  One time she caught a halibut that weighed twice what she does and the picture made it into a fishing magazine.

Hi, Honey!  Keep warm!  Catch lotsa big fish!!  December at FNCC will be nice and warm, hint, hint.

I've been thinking about  "Still I am not discouraged."  I told my  friend Judy this story and she asked me to blog about this.  Now,  I have to do this by teling the story.   Let's see if I can make it a short version.... 

In the late eighties I was going through a difficult divorce from my sadly mentally ill ex.   He was so out of control you can't even imagine.  It was especially sad because he was hurting our children real bad and had no idea that he was doing that.  Stalking us and various other nonsense.   Anyway, it amused him to tell the IRS that I was working in his business and had stolen a quarter of a million dollars from his business and that's why he was in arrears in paying taxes.  All a bunch of big lies.  I had nothing to do with any of that.  The business was defunct and all rights to it had been given to him in the divorce.  I had not worked in it in years.  I did not take a dime.  They believed him, however.   It was December 21st.  They siezed my bank accounts and my paycheck.  Then the IRS agent was not returning my calls to ask him why.   I called an attorney who specializes in IRS matters, and told his answering machine my problem, including my name and social security number and that I wanted to hire him, but he also was not returning my calls.  I was at my wit's end.  I had $20 and 2 quarters to my name.   My 2 kids expected something under the tree for Christmas, and I could not even pay the rent.

I was at  work, the plant was empty as everyone had taken off for the holidays already.  I was sitting at my desk trying to enter purchase order data into the computer, but I was mostly crying.  I decided I needed to do something to stop the crying, so I got up and walked to the back of the plant where there was a ladies' room I was sure would be empty.  I washed my face and rallied my courage.  I began chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo standing there in the pink tile palace, chanting along with the humming of some automated machinery in the empty plant.   I decided that hunger was not helping, if all else fails, try chocolate, right?  So I headed to the break room to buy a candy bar.  As I walked to the break room I was chanting under my breath and decided that I needed a small, immediate benefit, please.  Something to show me I was on the right track and keep me encouraged.  After all, Courage is life's most precious commodity.  If we humans have courage, we keep on fighting against impossible odds until we win.  Without courage, we give up on the easy stuff and are defeated.  Human nature. 

So I put my 2 quarters into the candy machine and 2 candy bars came out.  I started laughing so hard I had to sit down.  That second candy bar was pretty cheap encouragement.  I howled with laughter.  It was enough and my life condition lifted.  I laughed and chanted appreciation.  As I walked out of the break room to return to my desk, I nearly tripped over the automated floor cleaning robot that normally cruised the plant, aimlessly cleaning floors and bouncing off walls to clean in a new direction.  Roomba's industrial grandfather.  Emblazoned on its side was it's name, which is the name of a hard-working Japanese protective diety, it even appears in one of the corners of the Gohonzon as a wheel rolling king.  I laughed again.  "I see, the protective forces of the universe are working hard, out of my sight, to protect me.  If I can manage not to trip over them, I will be fine."  As I returned to my desk, it was the IRS attorney calling.  The reason he did not call me back sooner was that there was only one day of court time to spare before things shut down for the holidays, so he dashed straight to court and had been working on my behalf all day.  We had a date set for later in January to meet with the IRS and in the meanwhile they had released my bank accounts and my paycheck.  He had just faxed the release to my company's HR folks and they would see it in the morning.  Later in January we got it all straightened out.   Many years later Bill Clinton changed the law so that innocent former spouces can't be attacked this way any more.  Thank you, Bill.   "Still I am not discouraged."

Here's a picture of Peter's Father's Day socks.  The ones that I did on the cruise with Heather.

Nathan's great grandma on hs father's side at the Long Beach Harbour (by the Queen Mary) on Father's Day.

Good night,

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