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cjmarbutt's Journal

Friday, March 28, 2014


The cancer was found in early February.  Dad has renal cell carcinoma which has infilitrated his bones.  Last Sunday he had a spontaneous fracture of his femur.  His surgery was Tuesday and he has post op delirium which the medical team has tried to dismiss as pre-existing dementia.  The truth is he had no pre-existing dementia.

This all hit in the middle of kitchen renovation.  For the first time in my life I have a kitchen appliance new enough that it warrants reading the owning manual.  Nevertheless we have spent the better part of a month which seems like years eating off of a camp stove; there is a cookbook called Vegan Unplugged that I recommend to anyone in this situation.  Eating has revolved around can goods and whatever can be made with boiling water--- can we say instant grits, minute rice and couscous? New kitchen should be functional in a week or two which means it will probably be three.

Looking back I am amazed at how time passes and every time I update this journal I tell myself I am going to start updating it more regularly. We will see.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

8:29PM - A Short Talk for Church

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

7:35PM - Thanksgiving Week

Thanksgiving week was a blur.  Monday morning we got the message that an old family friend died from cancer.  Monday evening we got the call that William's sister was in critical condition and we made the three hour trek to North Georgia.


Tuesday night, after arriving back home, we got the call she had passed.  Thursday was Thanksgiving.  Mom, Dad, Ashley and Emir came over.


Friday was another trip to Georgia for the funeral.  Sunday was service at the UU and I had to stop to think if Mom came down for Thanksgiving out if I went up and was it Sunday or still Saturday.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Bought Emir a gizmo a couple of weekends back that is loaded with old video games, hundreds or more of 'em.  No fixed, unchanging self... I suck at Galaga, Arkanoid and all my other favorite childhood arcade games.  Out of practice doesn't begin to cover it.  What happened to the teenager who invested in the local arcade like it was a form of higher education?   Does this mean that given enough time I could also forget how to ride a bicycle or have sex? Seems likely.

Yesterday was another homecoming at Buddha Heart Village.  The place means more to me every year.  Best explanation of the fifth precept ever: I assure you, we are stupid enough without adding alcohol.

In other news, daylight savings time actually makes sense to me now.  It keeps sunrise between roughly 5:00 AM and 8:00 AM for most of us.   The more northerly latitudes are exceptions to the rule.  Without adjusting the clock, sunrise in the summer would be about 4:30 AM in June while just across the time zone, in late December sunrise comes at 7:50 AM which means if you don't drop that hour of daylight savings time, you won't be seeing sun up until nearly 9 AM.

Thursday, November 3, 2011


Today was my first day of picking Ashley's I-don't-know-what-to-call-him-just-yet's brain.  He might be a son-in-law soon or maybe already.  Anyway he's from Benin.  Helping me review my old high school French.  The only French language book I can find is eighty years old.  At best my French will be more or less correct but almost a century out of date.  I am more likely to learn the words for ink and inkstand than, say, computer or calculator.

But in the mean time I trying to help him on his English which is serviceable in a Mr. Ecko sort of way.

Monday, October 31, 2011

9:21PM - Happy Halloween

Halloween is Celtic New Years.  I still find I like starting the year this time, seeing the new beginning when every thing looks dead and skeletal, more or less.  My resolution is to update the LJ on a regular basis.


It helps that I quit my outside job.  I am back home now and just plain old self employed.  Second, I found the LJ ap for my phone.


Between voiced to text and swype, I shudder to think of the world of perpetual typos this opens up... Or as voice to text wrote, perpetual tacos.

Posted via LiveJournal app for Android.

Friday, July 1, 2011


My second cousin was in a parking lot near a motel when he was confronted by two police officers on accusations of public intoxication.  Things escalated and what should have been a routine line of questioning ended with my cousin being tazed twice, falling off of a ten foot embankment and being paralyzed from the chest down without the use of his fingers.  This was over last weekend.  His alcohol level was below the legal limit.

Pema Chodron talks about shenpa, what hooks us, that preverbal response that arises from anger, lust and all those fine human emotions.  I realize that one of my big ones is the feeling of being helpless.  Nothing is a bigger threat to my nembutsu practice than wanting that perfect mantra that will make everything alright.  Of course that mantra doesn't exist and at the risk of being cynical, if prayer healed that easily there would be no disease or injury anywhere in the world.

That doesn't mean I have chanted the Medicine Buddha's mantra for him, probably should have stuck with the nembutsu.  I am amazed at how this impacted my inner landscape though.  Academically I know these things are part of the Saha World and there is no way around them but faced with the reality there is the temptation to start looking for the loopholes.

12:36PM - Writer's Block: Part deux

Which movie sequel do you like better than the first, and why?

X 2.  The first X-Men movie felt too by the numbers and not that well thought out.  Last Stand was bad and after that the franchise just totally crashed and burned for me personally.  For one brief moment there in X 2 though, there was reason for hope.

Monday, May 30, 2011


Have you ever wanted to try a recipe because it's like thousands of years old? Finally making kykeon.  Homer describes it as containing barley, water, honey, herbs and goat cheese.  For herbs I am using thyme which is traditional and the goat cheese is getting subbed out with kefir starter.  The taste should be unique to put it mildly but catch I think is that it would have been cultured from yeast and/or bacteria in the goat cheese.  I am almost certain the Greeks didn't have refrigerators or pasteurization.

Memorial Day has been a whirlwind of brief visits and a day spent pool side.

This month, however, Dad had four bypasses, mitrovalve repair and a pacemaker installed.  His owner manual is now officially more extensive than his car's.  It was touch and go and back and forth for the first week but he improved.  Every worst case scenario the doctor prepared us for failed to materialized.  It will not be a Spring any of us will forget soon.

Some of my aunts and an uncle were amazed that their children knew about all of this before they did.  It's called Facebook. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Sunday, I am on the mend from laryngitis, barely back in the land of the vocal.  I made homemade mango lasi and a basil/spinach/oregano pizza.  My last batch of kefir is getting low and I will have to put more on tonight or tomorrow.  The idea of having milk setting on the table overnight in a jar is not part of our cultural norm and William seems to think it will crawl out of said jar and strangle one of us in our sleep, probably me.  Life is in short ordinary.

However I have been to heaven and hell this week and they looked amazingly similar, the corridor of a hospital in Rome, Ga.  Dad had open heart surgery, four bypasses and a valve repair.  We could only visit two at a time and Mom went ahead of the rest of us.  So I walked alone down a hallway, every medical horror story I had ever heard or lived through playing fresh in my mind.  The doctor had already told us Dad's heart had taken a lot of damage and the outcome was uncertain.  Mom had went this way before me but I didn't know her current state.  For a moment I was in the Great Unknown.

Then I found my parents.  Dad was sedated, still on a respirator, but his vitals were good.  Within 24 hours he was awake and talking, albeit hoarsely.  Every worst case scenario had been avoided.  Walking down that same corridor the next morning I knew I was one of the lucky ones but in the little waiting area off to one side another family was crying... Their son/father/husband had died.

This is why I don't believe in prayer as a remedy for these situations--- God would have to be what? Cruel? Forgetful? Fickle? Why should I be among the lucky ones and not them? If we can only remember that there is no "your karma" or  "my karma", only "our karma", I think karma is a better explanation.  Maybe the Christian God is a personification of karma.  Two of his attributes, as the creator of the world and the one who punishes wrongdoing, are attributed to karma in the Buddhist worldview.

Friday night we got home.  Saturday I realized how sick I was.  Me mostly quiet for 24 hours.  Doesn't happen often.


Current mood: grateful

12:15PM - Writer's Block: Say goodbye to Kansas, Dorothy

If you woke up surrounded by doctors who told you that you'd been in a medical experiment since birth and that your entire life had been a dream, how do you think you'd react?

My first response: "Well, that explains a lot."

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Lazy day.  Emir is with Ashes and I slept until seven.  Considering Wednesday, rest will be good.  Tornado passed about four or five miles north of us.  Impressive sight though at the time I didn't realize what I was looking at.  All of our friends are okay.  Some folks weren't so lucky.  It took out a couple of buildings on the way to Dadeville and a heap of trees just pass the funeral home/crematorium.   At the time I contemplated the real possibility of my death; I wonder if the three hundred plus who actually did had time to do the same. 

On a global scale this is nothing compared to the earthquake in Japan.  Yet on a personal level it's all the same.  Life is truly disposed toward suffering.  Our family and friends are not replaceable commodities.  That kind of loss stays with you for a lifetime even if you learn to live with it.

Friday, April 29, 2011


When I started downsizing ego, I realized ego was everywhere.



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Saturday, April 23, 2011


Shan Tao's five correct practices are: 1.) Recitation of the Pure Land Sutras, 2.) Contemplation of Amida and his Pure Land, 3.) Wholeheartedly worshiping Amida, 4.) Recitation of the name (the nembutsu), 5.) and making offerings to Amida.

What if we offer all our discursive thinking to Amida Buddha? All of our nastiness and pettiness and the myriad of vices we carry around with us everyday?

Then there are miscellaneous practices. The Diamond Sutra, for example, is a part of my life. It was a gift given by my Chinese Buddhist friends and even as they support my practice they affect it. Officially the Jodo Shu can define the Diamond Sutra as a text belonging to self power approach but what if I recite it as an offering to Amida Buddha as well?

It is said the King Ashoka in a previous life as a small boy offered the Buddha a few grains of sand yet for the sincerity of his gift he became the king of a great nation.

Current mood: contemplative

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Still adjusting to the sheer normalcy of life. Up at 5:00 AM to an old Bob Dylan song, on the road by 5:15 AM. Around 10:00AM head home. Mind the paint business for about four hours. Chant/meditate, watch TV, go to bed around 9PM unless its Monday in which case stay up a little late to watch vampires, drag queens, werewolves and ghosts--- AKA Being Human and Rupaul's Drag Race. I am team Shangela though I can live with Raja winning. Rinse and repeat five days in a row.

William meanwhile is building a pavilion in our backyard. It's going to a be an outdoor kitchen as well which is nice since we will be remodeling our indoor one next summer and will need somewhere to cook. There is also a persistent vibe that the post office is going to be closed:


The local school is also getting cut. Basically by next year our entire infrastructure will consist of town water and a few paved road unless you count Charter. Progress, folks, is in the opposite direction.

Current mood: good

Thursday, April 7, 2011


Kathy died. She was an old friend from when we lived up on the river. I remember when her youngest kid was still in diapers and now she's married. We floated down more than one river together and William and I went to her mother's funeral many years ago. On the morning of March 31st she went to the hospital with shortness of breath and by that afternoon, she died.

Her blood sugar and pressure had been elevated that morning. There are no more explanations than that. She was 46. At her funeral I read the Metta Sutta which, given Kathy's temperament as one of the most out going, nonjudgmental and deeply caring person, fit her so aptly.

We all create meta-narratives about how life is suppose to work. It is the old or the chronically sick who die, and someone we don't know, and especially not ourselves. Of course reality doesn't work that way and that is why we need to keep our meta-narratives at arm length, lest we get broadsided by reality-as-it-is.

At almost the same time, I was transitioning into my new part time job. I am now working 6:00 AM to 10:00 AM, Monday through Friday. Same retail giant as before. My job is inventory related--- when customers get something and discover at the register, it rings up at a different price than what's it advertised on the shelf, it's my job to fix it. Plus, thanks to my little contribution, any employee can find anything in the store, quickly, painlessly, theoretically.

Monday, March 28, 2011


Namo Bhagavate Amitabhaya Tathagataya Arhate Samyak Sambuddhaya. Its not a mantra but an expanded nembutsu in Sanskrit.

Namo, Praise to

Bhagavate, The Wold Honored One

Amitabhaya, Infinite Light

Tathagataya, Coming from reality-as-it-is

Arhate, Worthy of Offering/ Conqueror of Angry Passions

Samyak Sambuddhaya, completely and perfectly awakened one.

I gave it to my monkey mind to play with. The syallables gave numbers. Monkey Mind's favoite play thing.

Namo, Two Venerable Buddhas, Shakyamuni and Amida

Bhagavate, Four Noble Truths

Amitabhaya, Five Heavenly Precepts

Tathagataya Arhate, Eight fold Noble Path

Samyak Sambuddhaya, Six Paramitas.

Worked better than a banana.

Current mood: amused

Friday, March 11, 2011


Cassava bread has arrived in our world. Thank Gods for the influx of Latino culture. I figured out that my juicer will remove the juice and with a little squeezing, I can do in less than an hour what it takes a Central American native two days to accomplish... produce fresh cassava flour sans the toxins. Well, I guess sans the toxins. I haven't killed myself yet.

My work schedule away from home is changing yet again. I will be working from 6:00AM to 10:00AM. Yes, I wanted to inflict this upon myself. Gives me plenty of time at home and the paint business. Also I will be off from 10AM Friday through the weekend.

Still a little sleepy. Was up most of the night watching the news in Japan unfold. 8.9, cannot even imagine it.

In other news, no good deed goes unpunished. Feed the birds and they (repeatedly) poop on my car.

Current mood: sleepy

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


An open minded co-worker and myself started this conversation. Thought I would finish it on here.

I believe in a Source of Benevolence. I don't think it matters what we call it, Amida, Goddess, God, Allah, the Supreme Being or what have you. Pronouns are also superfluous though we have used 'he' long enough that you would swear the Infinite has a penis. I like the name Amida--- it literally means the Immeasurable and names make it easier to talk to someone, or something.

This Benevolent Source doesn't have to be all powerful or the first cause or the creator. These IMHO are projections that come from us. Ancient cultures are well known to have crafted their gods in their own image, as Xenophanes famously observed, saying, “But if cattle and horses or lions had hands, or were able to draw with their hands and do the work that men can do, horses would draw the forms of the gods like horses, and cattle like cattle, and they would make their bodies such as they each had themselves.”

We are no different. Valuing power, we create an omnipotent God. Valuing compassion, we create a Loving God... or Buddha. Really the only problem I have with the G word is it vagueness. Its definition has changed so much in the history of the English language that I had just as soon drop it's use for the most part. Amida works for me.

What happens when you die? You are loved, completely and unconditionally, as in fact you were loved in life. This is for me the realization of Other Power, of Amida, which removes the fear, greed and hatred which leads to suffering. This is birth in the presence of Amida, that is to say into the Pure Land of Utmost Happiness.

Current mood: content

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