Thursday, September 29, 2011

What's The Point?

I received an email this morning in which the person made the comment:

"Find it interesting how you have connected, for a lack of a better word, spirituality and business. I’ve always thought that was an interesting approach."

Problem is, i'm not sure how to approach a response to that without writing for several hours — and boring everyone to death in the meantime. And the response certainly isn't directed to my friend alone because it applies to a great many people. IMO. Or, IMHO?

In short (that's always the best way to start, i find, because you lose the fewest number of readers), i don't really connect business and spirituality. At least not any more than i connect politics and spirituality, housework and spirituality, taking out the trash and spirituality, going to the bathroom and spirituality, or any other subject and spirituality.

If spirituality is just another compartment in your life, separate and isolated from the other compartments, like school, work, sports, physical fitness, and your social life, then say what you will, but you ... you...

I don't know what i want to say here. You aren't really practicing? Or, you only have a partial practice? The first sounds too harsh, but the later sounds like it's letting you off the hook too easily.

The purpose of Buddhism isn't to teach you how to chant a set of scriptures, how to perform a set of rituals, or how to sit rock solid zazen. It's not even to teach you how to be a good person, a friend to all, caring, or loving. The purpose of Buddhism isn't to teach you anything. If you are learning something and think that is the point, then you are missing the ultimate point.

Buddhism's purpose is nothing other than to open your eyes to Life, as it really is. To reality and your place in it; to your connection to it. It is nothing other than that. Nothing more. Nothing less. Buddhism isn't concerned with your brain, but with your life; every aspect, every corner, every nook and cranny.

If you want to say you practice Buddhism then you need to understand that you are talking about practicing in every area of your life, every situation you ever find yourself in, every day, every minute, every second, every life. There is no down time where you can say you aren't practicing. If there is, you only have a partial practice.

When you get up in the morning, what is your attitude? Are you aware of it? Working to improve it?

When you eat breakfast, are you aware that you are eating or are you formulating your plan for that meeting later in the morning?

When you are brushing your teeth, are you doing that or day dreaming?

During the commute to work, are you there, in the car/bus/train, or are you millions of miles away on vacation, or back home reliving a fight?

At the office, do you participate in the local gossip? Do you snip and bite at the person down the hall that you have decided doesn't treat you well enough while offering smiles and praise to the friend who shares your interests?

When crisis hits, do you fall off the cliff of worry, panic, and self-denegration or do you calmly deal with it to the best of your ability, offering and taking advice as necessary to solve the problem?

Are there Republicans/Democrats in your group of friends? When they start praising their pet policy and condemning non-believers, do you go from smile to anger in a half a millisecond? Do you respond in anger with name-calling attached or do you simply say you can't agree and offer your reasons, all the while acknowledging that their opinion is as valid as yours?

As the hour approaches when you hope to get that sales contract signed, do you decide to do and say whatever it takes to get it done even though it's not really in the best interest of the client, or do both you and the client know that if they sign it it is because it is best for both parties, it is win-win?

When the janitor comes into your office late in the day, do you absently point across the room and say "garbage can's over there," as you keep working, or do you stop, recognize his/her existence and ask how their day has been? Do you even know anything about the life of the person who empties your garbage can?

Do you absolutely hate to lose in the local softball game? Or come in behind your friend during your afternoon jog? Is competition and winning/losing what sports is about or is the game and the camaraderie what really matters?

You see where i'm going with this? I don't separate my Buddhism from any other aspect of my life. It's impossible because Buddhism is my way of life. When i think about business it is through a Buddhist viewpoint. When i think about politics, science, religion, health, or any other topic, it is through Buddhist eyes.

Buddhism isn't what you do on you zafu each morning. Buddhism isn't what you do at that weekend retreat or week-long sesshin. Buddhism is what you do. Period. Everywhere. All the time. With everybody you meet. In every situation, alone or with others.

Why? Because the purpose of studying Buddhism is to see that everywhere is your life. Everyone is your life. Every situation is your life. Everything is your life. But, i'll write more about that in another post. Maybe now is the time to write something about what i posted long ago regarding Dōgen's comment about seeing Everyday Mind throughout the entire world.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Into What?

Steaming cup of tea
Soft rays of a new day's sun
Melting into it

Managing Our Lives

I know this leap seems a bit odd, but bear with me for just a minute. I was reading Peter Drucker's Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices this morning (like i do every Monday morning, because that's what my schedule tells me i have to do on Monday mornings), and ran across this bit of advice:

"The second administrative task [of management] is to bring the business all the time a little closer to the full realization of its potential. Even the most successful business works at a low coefficient of performance as measured against its potential—the economic results that could be obtained were efforts and resources marshaled to produce the maximum yield they are inherently capable of.

"This task is not innovation; it actually takes the business as it is today and asks, What is its theoretical optimum? What inhibits attainment thereof? Where (in other words) are the limiting and restraining factors that hold back the business and deprive it of the full return on its resources and efforts?

"One basic approach—offered here by way of illustration only—is to ask the question What relatively minor changes in product, technology, process, market, and so on, would significantly improve or alter the economic characteristics and results of this business?"

That, in a nutshell, is how i see my practice and how i live my life. It's just a little surprising to see it written in a book on business. I may be a professional failure, but that doesn't make the theories any less correct and pertinent.

Our "business," if you will, is living our lives. The product we produce is the life we live — not the life we want to live or the life we hope to live; not even the life we try and project for others to see, but the actual life we live in all its glory, disarray, and messiness.

The "technology" is what we use to live that life. I have a home practice, with some amount of bells, zafus, statues, etc. Others chose more advanced technologies and practice at Zen Centers and monasteries. Others opt for the highest technology available and actually take vows and become monastics.

The "process" is how we employ the technology we have chosen and how we implement its capabilities into our daily lives.

The "market" is two-fold: our selves and our lives, of course, but also the rest of "everything." Not just all other sentient beings, but the environment, society, culture, etc.

Our jobs, as the only possible managers of our lives, is to "bring the business" of living our lives "all the time a little closer to the full realization of its potential."

That is it! As Drucker points out, this does not necessarily (or usually) entail innovation. It is a constant awareness of where we are, what we are doing, and how we are doing it, keeping our minds open to finding those minor changes that would change the way we live in such a way that we expand that little bit more into our fullest potential.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Hired someone to seal/waterproof my 125 year old limestone foundation last week. There was one catch, though — in order to get a price i could afford i had to do the excavating. Approximately 100 feet of trench along two walls. 7'-8' deep along the back wall and the same at the top of the side wall, then sloping down from there. About 30" wide. Let me tell you, this is brutal work. One week down and i expect to finish by the end of next week.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Robbed In Broad Daylight

"[A]ll questions are silly and so are all answers. Questions come out of the mind like leaves come out of the trees. Questions are part of the mind that has to be dropped; questions keep the mind nourished.

"A question is really a search for food. The answer is the food. The question is a groping: the mind is feeling hungry, it wants to be strengthened, it wants to be fed, it searches for food. Wherever it can find something satisfying... any answer that makes the mind knowledgeable, that gives the mind the feeling 'Now I know,' functions as a food. And the mind can go on and on asking, collecting answers, becoming knowledgeable. The more knowledgeable the mind is, the more difficult it is to drop it. And it has to be dropped, because unless questioning ceases in you, you will never be silent. Unless questioning disappears totally, you will not find that space, that serenity, that stillness, which can make you aware of who you are, and of what this reality is. Remember, reality is never going to come to you in the form of an answer. It has never happened that way, it is not going to happen that way. It CAN'T happen that way, it is not in the nature of things. Reality comes to you when there is no question left; reality comes to an unquestioning state of awareness.

"So the first thing to be remembered is: all questions are silly, and all answers are too. Then you will be a little puzzled -- why do I go on answering your questions? If you look deep down into my answers you will see that they are not answers. They don't nourish your mind, they destroy your mind, they shatter you. They are meant to be shocks. The purpose of my answering is to hammer your mind -- it is hammering, it is not answering. In the beginning, when you come here for the first time and you don't understand me and my purpose, you may think that I am answering you. The longer you are here, the deeper you become attuned with me, the more you know that my answering is not to give you answers. It is not to make you more knowledgeable -- just the opposite. It is to take your knowledge away, to make you unknowledgeable, to make you ignorant -- ignorant again, innocent again -- so that questioning disappears.

"And when there is no questioning, there is a totally new quality to your consciousness. That quality is called wonder. Wondering is not questioning, it is feeling mystified by existence. Questioning is an effort to demystify existence; it is an effort not to accept the mystery of life. Hence we reduce every mystery to a question. The question means the mystery is only a problem to be solved, and once solved, there will be no mystery. My effort in answering you is not to demystify existence but to mystify it more. Hence my contradictions. I cannot be consistent, I am not answering you. I cannot be consistent, because I am not here to make you more knowledgeable. If I am consistent, you will have a body of knowledge -- very satisfying to the mind, nourishing, strengthening, gratifying. I am deliberately inconsistent, contradictory, so that you cannot make any body of knowledge out of me. So if one day you start gathering something, another day I take it away. I don't allow you to gather anything. Sooner or later, you are bound to be awakened to the fact that something totally different is transpiring here. It is not that I am giving you some dogma to be believed in, some philosophy to be lived by, no, not at all. I am utterly destructive, I am taking everything away from you.

"Slowly slowly your mind will stop questioning. What is the point? When no answer answers, then what is the point? And the day you stop questioning is a day of great rejoicing, because then wondering starts. You have moved into a totally new dimension; you are again a child."

The Book of Wisdom

Friday, September 23, 2011

Visiting The Bank

From the book, The Magic of Thinking Big:

Your mind is very much like a bank. Every day you make thought deposits in your "mind bank." These thought deposits grow and become your memory. When you settle down to think or when you face a problem, in effect you say to your memory bank, "What do I already know about this?"

Your memory bank automatically answers and supplies you with bits of information relating to this situation that you deposited on previous occasions. Your memory, then is the basic supplier of raw material for your new thought.

The teller in your memory bank is tremendously reliable. He never crosses you up. If you approach him and say, "Mr. Teller, let me withdraw some thoughts I deposited in the past proving I'm inferior to just about everybody else," he'll say, "Certainly sir. Recall how you failed two times previously when you tried this? Recall what your sixth-grade teacher told you about your inability to accomplish things...Recall what you overheard some fellow workers saying about you...Recall..."

And on and on Mr. Teller goes, digging out of your brain thought after thought that proves you are inadequate.

But suppose you visit your memory teller with this request: "Mr. Teller, I face a difficult decision. Can you supply me with any thoughts which will give me reassurance?"

And again, Mr. Teller says, "Certainly, sir," but this time he delivers thoughts you deposited earlier that say you can succeed. "Recall the excellent job you did in a similar situation before...Recall how much confidence Mr. Smith placed in you...Recall what your good friends said about you...Recall..."

Mr. Teller, perfectly responsive, lets you withdraw the thought deposits you want to withdraw. After all, it is your bank.

The Magic of Thinking Big
David Schwartz

As he goes on to say after this, the remedy is to always, always, always a) deposit only positive thoughts in your memory bank, and b) withdraw only positive thoughts from your memory bank. Always!

More importantly, though, and having a much broader application to our lives, i think, is the idea that "Your memory, then is the basic supplier of raw material for your new thought."

You may think that you are thinking new thoughts, coming up with new ideas, investigating new territory... but the supplier of a great portion of the supporting thoughts and ideas of your thinking is coming from past thoughts, memories of past experiences, and the results as you perceived them.

Change your focus and you change your life.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Road Construction Workers Needed

The street in front of my house is being repaved this week and it is a marvelous thing to watch.

The first step came when all realized that the old road just wasn't working anymore. Sure, it was functional and sufficed for going about our daily lives, but it caused immense amounts of suffering. While there were no holes that would swallow elephants, the entire road was littered with potholes and cracks that caused you to trip and stumble as you went along. Even worse, in some respects, were the constant mind games as you spent most of your time looking out for the problem areas — that you knew were there and so desperately wanted to avoid — knowing the grief they would invoke.

One of the marvelous things about the process is the teamwork involved. Hundreds of people are involved in the process, each with their own specific job to do and as long as each person does their job, the process flows smoothly and seamlessly. Of course, small, unexpected problems do pop up, but it seems that they have small teams set up that can, on a moments notice, rush in to make the repairs, iron out the wrinkles, and smooth tempers. This isn't the job of one person or just a few; this is a major undertaking.

The first step was to strip off all the old beliefs asphalt that was known to be causing the problems. It's not an easy process by any means, but tools have been developed over the years that allow you to remove even them hardest set problem areas.

The old asphalt is stripped right down to the base layer, right down to the ground. That is then thoroughly investigated with teams walking back and forth looking for any signs of weakness where future problems could once again spring up. Areas that need support are given the time and effort needed to stabilize them. Nothing is hurried — this is a process that takes time.

Once the team is convinced that the underlying base is solid everywhere, once everyone believes it can and will support those that choose to travel on it, the rebuilding process begins. There is no guess work here, years of investigation, years of trial and error, years of practical implementation have shown us the best mixture of asphalt to use as a replacement for the old.

Not too hard and brittle, not too soft and supple. Not too easily susceptible to heat, not too susceptible to cold. Can deal with those that carry heavy, hard to manage loads as well as those that pass by with little trace. Can as easily hold up to raging storms that float by unexpectedly as it does to cool spring days with pleasant breezes.

The asphalt can make our lives miserable if it isn't tended to and repaired as necessary. Our job is to keep an eye on it and look for those places that make our lives unnecessarily difficult. What sense does it make to live in a world of pot-holed asphalt and broken roads when with just a little effort we can get it repaired and everyone benefits?

On paper, this process sounds simple: strip off the problems and repave with a new road that both supports us and encourages us to get out and interact with others. In fact, though, it takes immense amounts of work and the support of a great many people to get it done.

The results, the new road we travel, makes all the effort well worth the time and money we need to invest.

Monday, September 19, 2011


Oh boy, did i ever step on toes yesterday. It wasn't an hour after yesterday's post when i heard Dave storming up the stairs yelling "Lao. Lao. You up there? We've got to talk." He didn't sound all that happy.

I won't go into specifics, but the conversation started along these lines:

Lao, i just don't get you. You say you love the henro trail. You say it's an amazing experience. You say it can change people's lives. Yet, you're asking me to be a zombie when i walk it. How can a zombie experience the henro trail?

When did i ever say that you should walk like a zombie?

In that last post. You said to constantly focus on nothing more than the "ceaseless practice of the present" during the entire walk. If i do that, i won't see anything, won't hear anything, won't experience anything. I'll be a walking zombie.

And it went downhill from there, for a while.

Now i know that the rest of you aren't idiots like Dave is, but just in case there is some confusion, i want to make it clear that everything he said last night is utter BS. That's not at all what i meant.

As i pointed out to Dave, being mindful during meditation doesn't mean zoning out, pulling into your head and completely blocking out all perceptions of everything external. Not at all. In fact, it's just the opposite.

Being mindful means being completely open; accepting any and all perceptions that arrive, as they arrive, and letting them pass by, untouched, unanalyzed, uncompartmentalized, without definition and without judgement.

A bird chirps outside and you simply note a noise and let the thought pass by. You don't go to the next step of 'a cardinal,' in the tree on the south side of the house,' or 'i wonder if it is the same bird as this morning.' Simply let the noise pass by like a leaf on a stream.

Clouds float by overhead causing a shadow to sweep across the room. Note the change in light and let the thought pass by untouched. No, 'oh, is it supposed to rain?,' or 'must have been a small cloud,' or even 'cloud.' Just note the change in light and let it move on.

When i say 'note the noise,' or 'note the change in color,' i don't even mean to mentally say anything like "ah, there's a perception." All i mean is, when a thought related to a new perception arises, as it usually will, simply let it pass through your consciousness untouched. Let it come and let it go. Just continue to Be.

And you can do the same thing when you walk. Every second of the walk will produce countless new perceptions as new sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and tactile sensations interact with your body. Unless it happens to be appropriate at that particular time, simply let each perception pass by without thought. Accept them, but don't stop them and focus on them. Let them float into awareness and right back out.

That doesn't make you a zombie, in fact, quite the opposite — if you don't divert your attention to focus on one particular perception, you allow yourself to expand into all perceptions. You miss much less of the experience if you don't grasp onto any one particular aspect of it. Being present doesn't mean being blind, deaf, and dumb, it means being unaffected.

That's what i call the static aspect of being present. There is also a dynamic aspect that comes into play as you intentionally choose to interact with the world — when you choose to talk to someone, or choose to marvel at the beauty of the scenery, or the deliciousness of a particular taste, or the complete oddity of some weird aspect of your experience at that moment.

In these cases, as well, you can learn to function in the present. When you meet someone, listen with your entire being; don't try to second guess their meaning, or some benefit you may receive. Don't try and formulate your answer while they are still talking. When that piece of sushi tastes incredibly good, don't start comparing it to your local shop back home, don't start wondering how much wasabi the chef put on it. Just revel in the taste and enjoy it.

Part of your henro will be spent in the static aspect of mindfulness; controlling that monkey mind as it tries to swing from all the new branches it is being exposed to as you walk. Another part of your henro, though, will be completely dynamic; noticing, interacting, responding, accepting, giving, and more.

Both of these can be done while living nowhere other than 'the present.'

This morning i watched a sparrow outside my window fly into the front yard and settle on a Russian Sage plant. As it settled, the branch sank and wobbled under its weight. Fluttering its wings, the sparrow didn't panic, but allowed the branch to settle at its own pace until an equilibrium had been reached, where the branch no longer wobbled and the sparrow felt safe where it was.

It could just as easily have settled on top of the torii standing nearby, but it chose the sage for reasons unknown. The torii is stable and non-moving; landing there would have eliminated those few moments of uncertainty in whether or not the Sage was going to support it's weight. But the sparrow chose the Sage. Why, i don't know — maybe because of the intense purple color or because of the intoxicating smell.

For whatever reason, the sparrow accepted the temporary uncertainty, confident that as long as it stayed present, if the experience didn't play out as expected it could move on to another option easily.

That's what i'm asking you to do on the henro trail. Don't spend your days sitting on the torii, always safe in the thoughts and habits that make up your normal life back home, and in which you feel completely secure. Seek out that Sage, those new, uncertain, colorful and intoxicating experiences where you're not sure how they will turn out. Where you will wobble and feel unsure as the experience begins to unfold.

By approaching these experiences only in the present, though, you can know when the wobbling is too much and when it might be appropriate to simply move on to another branch. The key is to approach the experience with a mind firmly fixed in the present moment, and nowhere else.

Nothing about this approach implies living like a zombie. Nothing.

Now, i wonder how long it will take Dave to come storming upstairs this time..... :-)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

What Is A Henro?

I know i'll step on some toes with this post because there are a lot of people who have walked the henro trail on Shikoku and, therefore, call themselves "henro" even though i would say they are only tourists. If you are one of those people, this is not meant as a disparaging put-down; nor a judgement of the value of your walk as compared to mine. It is only my thoughts on the difference between these two groups of walkers: henro & tourists.

The easy way to start is to say what a henro is not. As long as you think that the goal of this walk is to visit each of the 88 (108) temples, you are a tourist. As long as you think that the goal has anything to do with the "form" of the pilgrimage, you are not a henro.

You become a henro only when you see that the goal is found in the "emptiness" of the pilgrimage, in what is not there, what can not be grasped and held onto, what can not be seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched. Only when you understand that each step on the path, by itself, is the goal do you become a henro. When you realize that the goal is nothing more than to take each step, one after another, with no further thoughts of attainment, then and only then, does the tourist disappear and the henro arrives on the scene.

Each step is the goal and the goal is each step. These are equivalent. Not the same, but not different. Just as form and emptiness. Just as life and death. Just as words and silence.

Malcolm Bosse in his novel The Warlord, made it very clear when he had one of his characters point out that:

Whoever or whatever it is that gives such things gives us our essence at birth.
That essence then begins to unfold.
To watch it unfold is to live.
To watch it unfold with confidence and good humor is to follow the Way.

It's hard to improve on that. As you take your first steps away from Temple One, an experience of the henro trail begins to unfold. To watch it unfold as you walk is to live. To watch it without judgement, without desire, without preference for one or another kind of experience, letting it unfold as it will ... with confidence and good humor ... is to follow the Way.

Lao Tsu also talked about this distinction when, in the 11th chapter of the Tao Te Ching, he says:

Thirty spokes share the wheel's hub;
It is the center hole that makes it useful.

Shape clay into a vessel;
It is the space within that makes it useful.

Cut doors and windows for a room;
It is the holes which make it useful.

Therefore benefit comes from what is there;
Usefulness from what is not there.

All maps of the pilgrimage show 88 (108) temples, 4 prefectures, thousands of mile/kilometer markers. Focusing on these material way-points will bring you benefit: health benefits, psychologoial benefits, maybe even spiritual benefits. But none of this is what makes the henro trail useful.

Lao Tsu tries to point to the usefulness as he continues into the 14th chapter.

Look, it cannot be seen — it is beyond form.
Listen, it cannot be heard — it is beyond sound.
Grasp, it cannot be held — it is intangible.
These three are indefinable;
Therefore they are joined in one.

From above it is not bright;
From below it is not dark:
An unbroken thread beyond description.
It returns to nothingness.
The form of the formless,
The image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable and beyond imagination.

Stand before it and there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the ancient Tao,
Move with the present.

Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao.

The usefulness of the henro trail is it's unending willingness to point the henro towards what the above words are trying to show us. Standing at the sanmon of Temple One, there is no beginning. Follow the henro trail and there is no end. Stay with each step, one at a time; never stray. Move with the present. This is the essence of the henro.

In the Ceaseless Practice chapter of his Shōbōgenzō, Dōgen says: "Ceaseless practice which manifests ceaseless practice is nothing other than ceaseless practice of the present. Ceaseless practice of the present is not the ceaseless practice of the original self, nor does it come and go, exit and enter. 'In the present' does not mean 'existing prior to ceaseless practice.' It refers to the time ceaseless practice emerges. Therefore, that is why the ceaseless practice of one day is the seed of all the Buddhas. Through ceaseless practice, all Buddhas are manifest and their ceaseless practice occurs."

Being a true henro means dedicating each step of the walk to nothing more than an investigation of this "ceaseless practice of the present."

Of course, having said all of that, you'll know you are a henro when you know that there really is no goal in this walk — there is only being and walking. What will come will come. What will go will go. What will occur will occur. As a henro, you understand that your only responsibility is to accept, and move on. One step at a time.

Dangerous Construction Practices

Constructing your life
Looking for something to build
First nail and you're lost

It's very simple
Build it and it's of no use
It's not like something

Friday, September 16, 2011

Internal Stillness

I could listen to Francis Lucille teach forever...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bad Drivers

A very interesting ride to the grocery store this morning.

On the way there, the car behind me obviously didn't think that my driving the speed limit was near fast enough. At times I doubt you could have slid a piece of paper between my back bumper and his front bumper. It drove me nuts, but I laughed at him and tried to ignore it.

On the way home, the car in front of me for a while obviously didn't think that the speed limit was the proper speed for that road, opting for 30 mph instead of the posted 40. It drove me nuts, but all I could do is laugh and try to ignore it.

Then it hit me: slower than I wanted to drive = bad driving; faster than I wanted to drive = bad driving. In other words, if life didn't conform to my wishes and expectations then life was wrong, not me.

That's when I started laughing at myself. How entirely bogus. How completely ridiculous. I don't believe that nonsense, so why was I being stupid?

Thanks, life, for today's lesson.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

No Dogs Don't Die

That dog Mu was dead
Before it became famous
It was everywhere

Mergers & Acquisitions

Found this to be very interesting bicycling news: RadioShack & Leopard-Trek are merging teams.

Some of the funnier comments i've read about the merger are the complaints that Levi Leipheimer isn't included in the new team. Seems that he opted to leave and join the also newly-merged Omega-Pharma/Quickstep team; there is too much competing talent for him to be considered a leader if he had stayed with Radio-Shack/Leopard-Trek.

What i find humorous is that Levi would be considered a "leader" on any team competing at the Grand Tours. He's a good rider, don't get me wrong, but he is not good enough to be the leader and have a team built around him in support of GC wins — except for races here in the US.

Building a team around Levi would be like BMC building a team around George Hincapie. I love George, highly respect him and his talent, but he is a leader of the support group, the riders supporting the GC contenders, not the person expected to win the race. Levi is exactly the same.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Good Fortune

Went to the local Home Depot this afternoon to get some parts to do a job at my sister's house. Imagine my surprise to find a Yoshino cherry blossom tree sitting by the front door on sale for $27. It's about 7' tall now, but will grow to about 30' tall and 30' in diameter, slightly smaller than the Shidarezakura (weeping cherry blossom tree) that is already in my front yard.

The Yoshino is now sitting in my front yard and will be planted in the morning.