When I was a guest cook at Tassajara in 2007 we would ask for student volunteers at work circle to help us “serve up” the guest dinner. Sometimes it was hard to get help because this would be an extra hour of work at the end of the day, and students were tired. On one occasion I asked for help… and there was no response. “Please…we really need your help,” I pleaded. Blanche, who was there for the week to help students with robe sewing, leaned forward. “I’ll help,” she said, her eyebrows pressed and her voice taking a tone that conveyed, “Hey, don’t worry… of course I’ll help.” When it came time to serve up the guest meal, we had more help than we needed. Blanche’s example had given energy to a handful of student volunteers.
Blanche sent the following note and photo to her friends on her 80th birthday.
A picture of Blanche from 2012. I asked if I could take a photo of her for Susan (Rice), and took this very sweet shot of her.
tea w/ Hojo-san
On the occasion of my 30th birthday – I trudged over to City Center for morning zazen from Acceptance Place, a rehab halfway house in the outer mission.
I was really surprised when Blanche-sama tapped me on the shoulder and said “Dokusan.”
Settled across from her, I told her it was my 30th. She jumped up, went into her and Lou’s place, and came back with chocolate covered strawberries. After we talked for a bit, she offered me a Jan Chozen Bays Jizo statue.
A few years back, I reminded her of the occasion and told her I had given the Jizo statue to my in-laws. I sent it to them when my husband’s cousin lost her premature girl. Later, when I visited – they immediately pointed out the statue in the top center of a glass case. The second pregnancy was held to term, a boy – they were very happy.
The pause in the conversation reminded me of an earlier car ride with Blanche along Webster. NPR was talking about shady practices behind there being more boys than girls in China. I exclaimed, “all the more girls for me to adopt.” A withering look stopped the conversation.