Settling Into Portland, Maine

Yeah, I really love that dog – face licks, though, I try to avoid.

We’re all settling into Portland, ME. Enjoying the new town and all the lush foliage, wild roses, and many blooming things. Oh, and biking along the Back Cove and Casco Bay – just wonderful.

Despite what Midwesterners think about the East, people here have been warm and welcoming. It’s common for people that we meet on the path to smile and say, “Hi.” The local dharma community too has been welcoming and encouraging, including and especially the folks at the place we’ve found to share space for practice – more on that when it’s a done deal.

Transitions, of course, have bumps and moments of excitement and confusion as well. In fact, yesterday, I was in the bathroom (in full stream) and heard the backdoor open and someone call, “Hello!” Immediately followed by various dog and person noises. I ran out of the bathroom and found Bodhi growling at an unknown woman pinned between the storm door and the kitchen wall. Apparently she mistook our apartment for the one upstairs and just walked in.

I had been thinking of posting this old case on the backdoor but hadn’t gotten to it yet:

“Zihu set up a sign on his outside gate; on the sign were words saying,

‘Zihu has a dog: above, he takes people’s heads; in the middle, he takes people’s loins; below, he takes people’s legs. If you stop to talk to him, you’ll lose your body and life.’

“Whenever Zihu saw a newcomer, he would immediately shout and say, ‘Watch out for the dog!’

As soon as the monk turned his head, Zihu would immediately return to the abbot’s room.”

Might not have helped.

But I digress.

There are a few endearing oddities to the local culture. The way they do garbage in Portland – putting trash in special blue plastic bags issued by the city (at $1 a piece or $2 for a slightly larger size), sealing them up with also special-issued twist ties,  and placing them on the curb (no standardized trash cans) makes me wonder about the toilet training of those who designed the system. How we deal with waste has long been something I notice, inspired I suppose the old Patti Smith line, “The transformation of waste is perhaps the oldest preoccupation of man (click here for the whole thing).”

Mainers also are really into vanity plates. Tetsugan has been teasing me that I should get ROSHI but I’m way too humble – really, I’m even more humble than James Ford (I did check though and ROSHI is available).

Here’s how it’d look:





And here’s one of my hinky favorites:







Then there’s yoga (especially downward dog) on paddle boards in Casco Bay (you might need to click on this one to appreciate it fully):







And, wow, wish you’d a seen the cat this hair ball came out of!










And finally, there’s a restaurant in Old Port that also shares my name:



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