Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Springtime at the Hermitage

wild douglas irises on the saddle

As the forest gradually dries out and warms up, among a profusion of wildflowers, there is a harmonious and well-practicing community of monastic women, not overburdened with projects, not putting very much burden on our friends, engaged with meditation and study, and working steadily to prepare for our 2011 Vassatime retreat.

Four women are now living on the land: Ayya Sobhana and Samaneri Marajina stayed throughout the rainy winter, and Anagarika Gwyn recently joined our community. Upasika Jackie has done great service as Financial Steward. She arrived first of April and will be departing end of May.

For the 2011 Vassatime Retreat, we expect Ayya Tathaaloka, Ayya Sobhana, Ven. Adhimutta, Ven. Suvijjana, Ven. Phalanyani, Sr. Marajina, Sr. Nibbida, Anagarika Gwyn, and several lay residents. Ajahn Bhikkhuni Thanasanti may be regularly visiting although not resident; and Ajahn Srs. Anandabodhi and Santacitta will be regularly visiting from their residence at Aloka Vihara.

There is room for one more lay woman who is comfortable with tenting and wishes to stay for a month or more, starting any time from June 1.

Kitchen trailer delivered and installed:

Our new used kitchen trailer has been delivered, leveled, and connected to propane, so there is a beautiful, functional kitchen. It is a great comfort to the cooks and all of our residents to have such a clean, tidy and nice looking space.

***Over the past few weeks, all the foodstuffs and kitchen gear were lovingly cleaned and reorganized into the new space. The mouse-proof pantry shed is moved to a more convenient location, with more shelving installed.

***Brian W. will build a deep cabinet and laminate counter, converting a the trailers living room into expanded work-space.

***There is only one last glitch to solve in order for the trailer's hot water and second refrigerator to work without blowing electric fuses. When that is done, we will have two refrigerators, hot water, hot shower, electric lights, and forced air heat ... all from a combination of propane and electricity. We are seeking a volunteer or inexpensive worker to make a house-call fix on the trailer's electric system. This should be someone familiar with DC electricity such as automotive or RV electric.

*** Over $3,000 in donations have been received, and another $3,000 pledged. This leaves $3,500 still needed to repay the cost of this trailer. Funds were "loaned" by the Dhammadharini Board, from assets that are Board-designated for other purposes.

Progress on Micro-hydro project:

Brian Fullner has done a physical survey of our creek, mapping the latitude, longitude and altitude of several waypoints. He is working on a report for the micro-hydro project. This information is key to getting a realistic expert bid for the project.

Road Work:

We have had gravel laid on several of the muddiest and most eroded parts of our road, and widened an area near the green bridge where a small landslide made it difficult to maneuver the trailers in and out. In addition, the extremely rocky and steep ascent from the green bridge up to the saddle was rocked and graded last fall. It's now in excellent condition. There is still a need for more road work. The construction work at the Hermitage during the rainy months has contributed to wear and tear on the entire road, from Jill's front gate up to the green bridge. If funds are donated we think it proper to take care of a few more rough or muddy patches.

Kutis and Laundry Shed:

Thanks to many generous donors of the 2010 Vassatime retreat, we were able to to put up three new kutis and a laundry shed. The quality, speed and honesty of our contractor Rubisel Ventura have made it possible to accomplish a great deal with a small budget. Now that the weather is dry, we are staining decks, varnishing inside floors, and feel confident that the painting can be done before Vassa (See below about work days). Skilled help needed: a volunteer carpenter to install click panel type flooring in two kutis; and a plumber to set up two utility tubs and a shower.

Meal Dana:

mindfulness at work
Considering the cost of gas and difficulty in driving to our Hermitage, Sr. Marajina and lay visitors have cheerfully prepared our meals from grocery dana and the Hermitage stores. During the winter, the Ratnabharathi and Senanayake families and Dominic Mc. provided meals. More recently June N. has been helping with local grocery shopping. She has been visiting regularly to look over what is needed. Also, we have received a carton of fresh-picked organic veggies from a the Bloomfield Farms in Petaluma. Farmer Michael Collins has been generous, flexible and cooperative to meet our needs. This subscription is now used up. If anyone is interested in helping with the food requisite, but unable to bring dana in person, they may assist with June's project or with the organic farm subscription.


Jackie M. is working on a procedures handbook for the Hermitage Financial Steward, so that shopping and money matters will be consistently and properly handled. Jackie was instrumental in shopping for our kitchen trailer and many other logistical matters. Also, kudos to Martha C. who has willingly filled in on several occasions as our temporary Financial Steward. After Jackie departs at the end of May, Anagarika Gwyn Waterfield will be our Financial Steward.

Work Weekend, June 18 and 19:

We would like to organize a work weekend for kuti painting on June 18 and 19. Rain-dates June 25 and 26 Volunteers could come for day visits on Saturday OR Sunday. The primary task is painting Kutis. We already have the tools and supplies on hand, so the organizational work is simple: Just getting the word out to our friends and communities, including some of the area sanghas; and organizing the pot-luck meal. If some of the volunteers want to stay overnight, we suggest they sleep in the yurt or camp out on the lower landing. If you can participate or help us publicize this work weekend with your local sangha, please contact awakeningforest [at] gmail.com

wild azalea
The weather recently has been extremely pleasant, with abundant wild flowers, a walkable creek, and blue skies for days on end. if you would like to visit for a personal retreat or to help with chores, you are welcome. We try to keep Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday as very quiet days for seclusion and meditation. Thursday through Sunday, we focus on projects.

With metta and appreciation for your help and good wishes,
Aranya Bodhi Sangha