When my wife, Julia, was living with the trials, pains and indignities of stage 4 metastatic breast cancer Blanche Hartman included her in a daily Buddhist chant for well being. Julia and I both took comfort in that, and I thank Blanche for her care. Years before, when I was a college student at UC Davis I visited Blanche Hartman at Zen Center and she took time to talk with me about Buddhist practice. Blanche Hartman has been a Buddhist teacher to any number of people, and she has been a scientist, and she is a feminist, and she is all kinds of things because she has lived a rich life, but I always think of her first as Mitzi’s mother. I met Blanche in 1974 when she and her husband, Lou, were working at Tassajara and lived with Mitzi in the old, white ranch house in Jamesburg in upper Carmel Valley, right where the road turns to dirt. I grew up near Jamesburg too, so it wasn’t long before I met Mitzi on the schoolbus and began making my way over to the Hartman’s house on the weekends to visit their daughter. One winter morning I gathered a big bag of puff ball mushrooms as a gift for Mitzi, and Blanche showed me how to slice them in half and verify that they were, in fact, edible puffballs, and not some toxic doppleganger mushroom. We made an omlette and it was good, or at least we didn’t die. Another day I showed up to discover that Blanche had prepared an approxomation of a classic Japanese Tea ceremony and she presided over it for the two of us. I was touched then by the gesture, and I still am today. Blanche has always been welcoming, smart, and kind. Thank you.
Part Two of a two-part report on Tova's visit to Branching Streams Zen Centers in the Northwest.