Beginner's Mind

"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's there are few." - Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi

Thursday, July 24, 2003

I may have mentioned I suffer from migraines. Technically, they are "chronic migraine headaches" in that they occur nearly every day. To get an idea of what these are like (for you blessed people who never suffer from them), go out and find a bench vise big enough to hold your head. Do not mount it to a bench, just turn it upside-down over your head and start closing the vice. When you finally are experiencing about as much pain as you can stand, close the vice another half-turn. Now, go about your business, wearing the vise everywhere you go. Can you feel the muscles in your neck begin to tighten? Starting to feel the burn in your shoulders? we have something in common.

You hear the phrase about not wishing something on your worst enemy. I didn't know what that really meant until I started to have daily headaches. But I do now, and there is nobody I know I would wish this upon. It's just too horrible. I frequently meet people who suffer migraines (a few of them chronic, like me) and there's a kind of connection between migrainers, not that much different than that which binds Harley Hoggers.

A pair (or group) of migrainers get together and trade info on what has worked, and what has not; which doctors are better at treating the pain; recipes for various dishes (some migraines have a food component that brings them on...most commonly red wine or food that has sulfites...for me, it is vinegar of any type); over-the-counter remedies; books, music and things to help soothe the pain. It is very helpful to know you are not alone.

Friday, July 04, 2003

Today is the 227th birthday of our nation. Wow, that's a long time, as far as governments go, though I'm sure that there are others that are older.

Here in New England, we still have town meetings the first Tuesday of March. I've heard it is traditional to shave your beard on Town Meeting Day, but I've kept mine and, to be honest, it isn't that much warmer that early in March. However, usually the sugaring season is just beginning, so maybe my memory is discombobulated.

At Town Meeting, we usually spend most of our time approving the budget. In Richmond, it has been my experience that the school budget gets little debate. I think that is because the lion's share of the expense is thrust upon us by the way the school system is built. In any event, the school budget gets little debate.

The town budget, however, is scrutinized with a fine-tooth comb. Quite a few of the expeditures are chosen for discussion, some of them as slight as a few thousand dollars (out of a multi-million dollar budget). Some things are struck or reduced, the voting being done by everyone in the room who is a resident.

After the town budget comes the resolutions. In Richmond, these are usually pretty tame, and involve hiring of additional personnel or giving special recognition for various good deeds that have been done in the past year.

We are usually done in time for lunch, which is provided by the local Grange.

However, in some towns, the meeting goes on into the afternoon, debating various resolutions that usually have little to do with town governance. For example, a popular one is the unilateral dismantling of our nuclear arsenal. There aren't any nukes anywhere in Vermont (at least, not weapons) but somehow this gets on the agenda every so often.

Another one that comes up lately is the repeal of the civil unions law. Again, the town can't do much about it, but it allows part of the community to get its voice heard.

Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Something idylic today.

Each spring we celebrate when the summer birds arrive at our feeders. Especially welcome is the Evening grosbeak (not really a grosbeak, actually a finch on steroids, check out This morning I noticed the young of the year for the first time, out for a family breakfast. The young start getting some of the adult plumage, but by and large they look like animated Beany-babies. The parents (today I only saw the male doing this) get a craw full of seeds, then fly up to the young waiting in the tree, where the seed is regurgitated into the young's mouth. It's quite fun watching these yellow fellows.