Orlando (The Marmalade Cat)

Looking for a home….
Still looking for a home….
Free and noble spirit – glad of a meal.

My parents had a succession of ginger cats, all strays. The last one they called Olly after Orlando The Marmalade Cat who featured in a series of children’s books. I see that Orlando Went To The Moon and then in another book Orlando Becomes A Doctor! Cute.

This cat made his move this afternoon. As I pulled up after being away over night the fur-ball ginger was pacing the wall outside of the house where I am staying. He, and ginger cats are generally male, jumped onto the car as I came to a full stop. Sooo cute. But unfortunately I can’t take on a cat, as much as I’d like to.

The story goes that he lived across the road and when his people moved he wouldn’t. He just kept on finding his way back to his known home area. Animals are just amazing at navigating their way back to where they regard as home, often traveling huge distances.

Ginger looks fit and well though. The new house owner is probably feeding him. Probably half the neighbouhood is feeding him! You have to like them don’t you. Love ’em really. I think it is their free spirit and them being their own cat, so to speak, that makes felines so very attractive.

The Creative Process

Allendale FORGE Studios

I just do not know where to start. Perhaps that’s just how it always is with the creative process. Creativity? Is that for special artistic people? People with talent who draw or shape or paint or decorate cakes and the like? I think not.

There are those who make a living by their artistic endeavours. But we all know it is not easy for them. But is it a them? Are we not all in the process of translating our ideas, transforming our vision, into plastic form. Or in some way making manifest that which weaves and twists and turns within us asking for, or even demanding, expression. And then we give birth. It could be a knitted tea cozy or a design for a modern office block. Or a meal, a poem, a one year family trip around the world. But we all know it is not easy for anybody. There are twists and turns along the way. That cozy can turn into a hat! Or a cat bed. The long distance walk transform into – leading guided tours in ones neighbourhood, perhaps.

So when I was in Allendale the other day I was especially glad, excited to be honest, to walk into the recently opened Allendale FORGE Studios and be shown around by the woman who worked to make her vision, this building and all the potential it contains, manifest. From Pebbles Gallery and Art Cafe to the recently opened purpose built Allendale FORGE Studios. It has not been easy I know.

We had met back in 2007, she served hot chocolate – with frills – at Pebbles! Over the years I’ve supped tea and fingered the textile art, listened to talk about finding matched funding, applications for grants, the youth project. I remember a sound studio being mentioned AND I remember mention of Local Radio. Now I’ve walked around the sound studio and no doubt in no time local people will be beaming out their own local radio broadcasts. Hurrah! It will not be easy.


People often ask about creative expression and where that sits in terms of Buddhism. It sits just as well as anything else as far as I can see, given due Preceptual consideration. The significant matter, as with everything we get up to, is what’s going on inside. What is ones relationship to the activity. Making great things, putting on great performances, can quite easily cause one to be great in ones own head. Obviously one can enjoy a sense of natural pride in achievement, find deep pleasure in fingering the recently published book for example. But Become great in ones own head? Hum. Not, I think.

I observe when the creative process works well it’s marked by a strong and clear expression of generosity. Of an open-handed giving whose hands remain open. That is what I have seen all these years in Amanda. I’m inspired.

To Absent Friends

When a stand of trees are cut down, they are absent. When a stone wall falls, it is absent. There is a hole where once they were. Not quite like a death, but close.

Yesterday I had the great pleasure of meeting with my two cousins. They are my closest living relatives. It turned out we had never been together in the same place before. One had been absent when two had met. But, for all that, it didn’t seem odd or strange to be all together. We fell into easy reminiscing about our respective parents. Now all dead.

Talking on we realized that there were most likely absent/unknown relatives aplenty. In Canada. And in America too. I now sit and imagine a stand of relatives. And friends. Not dead, just a hole where they might be. Unknowing of one another.

Absent/unknown relatives. Lost touch with. Gone away to a new life. Perhaps absent animal friends too. Ones that just got lost. Ran away. Went away. Never came back.

Here’s to absent friends. And relatives too.

Out After Dark

There is a general understanding, perhaps in the East anyway, that monks are back in the monastery by night fall. That certainly makes sense for safety reasons alone. My mind can run riot on the possible dangers of being out after dark. Tigers, holes in the road, robbers, run away ox carts! Even with relatively safe streets and good lighting I tend not to be out walking at night. Of course there are times when I’ll be driving late into the night but that’s a different thing.

What’s that? I started. Seeing in the gathering gloom something sticking up on the side of the road. No worries Rev. Mugo, it’s just a telephone pole. My female walking companion responded. As we walked and talked the moon, possibly a full one, rose ponderously from behind the hillside like a giant balloon. But we had to turn around and head home, regretfully turning our backs on the moons yellow glow. It illuminated our way as we chatted on. When people ask to talk informally I like to walk and talk with them. If they are up for that. Four walks and talks today has left me a tad achy.

We carried our own yellow glow in the form of yellow reflective vests and arm bands. There are generally few cars on the lane below the monastery. Then out of the blue a car zoomed up, coming to an abrupt halt in front of us. Uh Oh! Out after dark, not a good thing. I thought. But it was nothing just a couple of chaps, seeing our reflective gear, asking if we were Marshals for the car rally! Later in meditation we heard a few cars zooming by.

A monastery or place of practice such as a small temple or as we call them priories are representative of going within, sitting meditation. There we are gathered together or alone at home, sitting within the velvety darkness of meditation after the light of day is done. The light of activity gives way to reflective night. So the dark of night is calling us home. To our sitting place.

Of course one would not be out after dark! Lurking lions and tigers or no.

Change Of Pace

One way and another I have been going at it quite consistently for the last couple of week. Good times. People coming individually and in groups to visit and enjoy the countryside. All the same when I arrived at Throssel a couple of days ago for a weeks stay I was dead beat. It took a trip to the dentist, always a stressful event, to finally realize that some extended horizontal was needed. Rested now.

Not everybody is able to take time out from their lives. Often this only comes when ones health makes resting non optional. A sad state of affairs, sad yet true for the majority of people. I was told yesterday that being tired is a signal that rest is needed. Animals do that. I guess accumulated fatigue has far reaching mental and physical consequences. This is all by way of reminding myself of the wisdom of sitting down and doing nothing very much, even if for five or ten minutes.

Traveling as a passenger in trains and planes and cars are all sitting down events. How I loved to travel by train. Suspended between where I’d come from and where I was going to. A time to contemplate while gazing out of the window. A time set apart to allow the mind to roam pleasantly.

This post is really setting the scene for this video sent by Julius. It’s a reminder to smile at our own habits of keeping-on-walking when resting is possible, and preferable.

From The London Underground Blog