Saturday, June 30, 2012

She lives!

Last night was the first time I actually felt the effects of the heat -- it stayed at 105 until well into the evening, around 8pm, I guess. Matters weren't helped when I turned on the broiler about that same time for a half hour to roast some red bell peppers to take to our meditation group luncheon tomorrow, although my feeling was that it had reached a point inside where a little more heat didn't matter.  I'd had the wet cloth out to cool the skin long before that. The temp in the kitchen hit almost 90, which was a bit much.

However, this morning the kitchen is down to 70 and may go lower, since there's another hour or so of cool air to be drawn inside by the fans. It's times like this when I wish we had a nice multiplex theater in town -- a good place to sit and cool off. Our local theater is nearby and no doubt cool, but they only open in the evenings for one show, and the choices are limited, and generally not of interest to me. And as much as I dislike shopping, and malls, even an indoor mall would be welcome. As it is, my choices are somewhat limited to Walmart and Home Depot, and I can't see wandering around either for longer than it takes to get whatever I absolutely need -- and I got that yesterday.

Let's face it, my minimal discomfort is nothing, in comparison to wildfires and storms and extended heat for people who can't escape it at all. And it will pass.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Staying inside where it's cool

I gotta say, I'm proud of my night air cooling system. At 4pm, the thermometer on my back porch (which faces east and is totally shaded most of the day) reads about 104. The one in my kitchen reads 80. That's not bad, folks! I expect the living room is a tad warmer, because it faces west and is getting the brunt of the sun right now, but with the ceiling fan going, it feels quite comfortable. Last night the kitchen crept up to 85 by 8:30 or 9pm, but by then it was time to open the windows, turn on the exhaust fans and let the fresh air in. I do that when the inside/outside temps reach about the same number.

This system worked fairly well last year, but is working much better this year and I have to guess that the reason is because this year I actually have the arm strength to close my kitchen window every morning, and raise it in the evening, along with the other windows in the house. That hasn't been the case before. In fact, it was climbing onto a chair so I could reach and open that window that led to me losing my balance, falling on the open oven door, and costing myself some $$ in repairs. I expect that a good bit of warm air got inside with it open.

It's good to see that my work at the gym in Rome and now at Curves is actually doing some good. I've even begun to use some of the leg machines -- lightly and cautiously, but that muscle has clearly regained much of the mass that was cut out, and the skin seems quite resilient, so I think it's safe. I'm ready to get those stitches out -- wish I didn't have to wait until Tuesday.

We can all give thanks that the humidity is low -- really low, like in the teens or twenties. That makes life a lot more comfortable. We're looking at similar temps tomorrow, then depending upon which forecast I look at we can expect more of the same for the next few days, or a slight lowering (down to 97) by Sunday. Not sure a few degrees either way makes much difference, but it sounds better.

The temps in Jenner this week, and forecast on into next week, have been averaging 85 with nights in the 50s. Not bad. Not bad at all. I'll need the sweats for the cool evenings and mornings, and cooler things for the rest of the time. And with the coastal fog, just how long the cool sticks around on any given day is totally unpredictable.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Heat wave coming

As bizarre as it seems -- considering it's due to hit 99 degrees here today -- I'm freezing! And this is the second day in a row. My 'night air' cooling system is working so great that it's just plain too cool in the early mornings. Last I looked, it was about 62 in my kitchen, probably a little lower here in the living area. Even with sweats on, that's not comfortable. Especially with both the ceiling fan and a window exhaust fan blowing that cool air around, and on me.

Still, it's hard to complain about it. This keeps the house cool all day -- in fact, yesterday it didn't even reach 80 in my kitchen, despite a high of 95 or so outside. This is a good thing.

I actually sat outside on the back porch for awhile yesterday, in the shade, just to warm up! I also know that won't last, since the next few days are due to be in the 100 range, with warmer nights. I take full advantage of these cooler nights, even while I complain about it (tongue-in-cheek).

Now, it's back under the blanket for me!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Walking the path as best I can

Since I've been unemployed (or 'retired' as we might say, nicely) I've opted to make the transition from eating three meals per day to only two, following the Buddhist tradition. That means breakfast and lunch, but no solid food after lunch.

It was a little harder to do when I was working, and frankly, I found that what I really needed to make the transition was a new mind-set. I've eaten this way at Bhavana and other Buddhist centers and it's not a problem for me. The problem was in retraining my mind to the idea of cooking and eating my main meal of the day for lunch, rather than dinner.

But, like all things, the mind can be trained for this. By now, it's become second-nature and I've found many good points. Most notably, with the onset of the heat of a Georgia summer, I can cook in the early part of the day while the kitchen is cool. Last summer and the previous summer as well, I found that despite a plethora of wonderful veggies in the garden, the last thing I wanted to do late in the after noon when the house is at its hottest is cook. So much of what I grew went to waste. Secondly, it's kind of nice to not have to think about what to eat three times per day. Even better not to have to cook it. So, this has become my new norm, and I like it.

Not that I'm a purist, because I'm not vegetarian, as most Buddhists are. Thus the ground beef (natural and hormone-free) in the above photo. Other than the beef, everything in that photo came from my garden: fennel, onions, garlic, romaine lettuce, basil, rosemary, thyme, and lemon thyme. Yum. Most meals are more interesting than this, but just in the past few days, as the temps have risen, the romaine has turned bitter and isn't as tasty for salads any longer. It's still filled with nutrition, however. And since I've never been fond of ground beef (I can't afford the premium beef in any form but ground), a good one-pot meal was in order. You do what you can with what you've got.

Right now, with the body needing to heal the insult from the doc and grow lots of new tissue, I'm really opting for serious amounts of animal protein, since these are the best building blocks for such things. At other times, I depend less on animal proteins and am content with beans and lentils and such. I'll get nothing else, of course, at Aranya Bodhi, the Goenka Center and Bhavana, and I'm good with that.

I'm also not a purist because sometimes I have a bit of home-made almond butter in the evening, for a hit of protein and healthy fats, or a glass of milk, which I believe is OK, since it's liquid and not solid food. Yesterday I baked a tiny blueberry cobbler. There may be some home-made ice cream in my future later today, if the mood strikes. Each day around 5pm when the heat is worst, I long for something frozen and cool. Yeah, it's a craving, but nobody said I was perfect. I'm just walking the path as best I can. I have not reached the farther shore.

Friday, June 22, 2012

A tear-jerker from John Grisham

I haven't read a John Grisham book for many years, way back when he first started writing. Not sure why I haven't read more, but there you have it.  I saw this one at the library yesterday and (in a small library with a dearth of new books) decided to read it.

It's the story of two fictional baseball players in 1973, one playing for the Cubs, the other for the Mets. As you would expect from Grisham, the story is well-written and moves quickly. What I wouldn't expect from him is a story that touched me so much. Toward the end, tears threatened more than once. And that's unusual for me.  It's a serious study of baseball, with lots of baseball stats and game talk and such, and if this kind of thing bugs you, read it anyway. I don't think you'll be sorry.

I sure wasn't!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

A big and welcome surprise

Took advantage of a chance to get out of town for awhile today. I've been needing an inexpensive white top to wear to various Buddhist centers while I'm in California, and for me right now, cheap means Goodwill. There's a good one in a town about 40 miles from here, where I've found good bargains before. Thankfully, I'd arranged to meet my cousin for lunch, since it's not all that far from where she works, because Goodwill had absolutely nothing that would work. As it was, the trip wasn't wasted. Had a good lunch, a good visit with Susie, made my way back home. Looks like I'm going to have to just settle for a plain white T-shirt, which my Thai friend told me would be perfectly acceptable at the Thai Buddhist center we're supposed to visit.

And, just after I arrived I got an email from Bhavana telling me that my application for residency has been approved! I wasn't expecting to hear from them for weeks, so this was a big and welcome surprise. I'm planning to go from Around Sept 24 through around October 30, which is about 5 weeks. I chose those dates because it coincides with a big celebration they're having the weekend of October 6-7 (it's Bhante G's 85th birthday and the 30th anniversary of the Bhavana Society itself plus an annual holiday), and I wanted to be there for that, if possible. I'm looking forward to the ceremonies around the entire weekend, not to mention some lovely Sri Lankan food that will be brought as offerings to the Monastery. I've been lucky enough to be there when some of that is offered, and it's really good. There's also a retreat that will take place while I'm there, on Metta, and I'll probably be able to sit in on some of that. I like the early morning hours -- in the hall around 5am while it's quiet and almost empty -- and I should be able to do that every day, since whatever work assignments I'll have won't begin that early.

I'll be home from Jesup for maybe 10 days before leaving for West Virginia. Plenty of time to do laundry and repack. So, after being forced to rest up for these few weeks, I'm going to be pretty busy from early July through October.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A drive through the low country?

After I left Atlanta in 1996 and headed west for 15 years, the one thing I always regretted, in the back of my mind, was that I never made it to Charleston, SC.  Never made it to Savannah, for that matter, but it's Charleston that's drawn me.  And, over the intervening years two of my favorite writers, Anne Rivers Siddons and Pat Conroy, wrote many wonderful books set in that area, honing my appetite even more. For a good while, I actually thought about moving to that area instead of Cedartown. I just finished another book set in Charleston, and found the draw to be as strong as ever, particularly in light of the thought that if I leave Georgia for the west coast next spring, any return to this part of the world is unlikely. I don't want to look back with regret again.

I'm going to be in Jesup, Georgia for three weeks, from late August to mid-September. That's not far from Savannah. With the help of Google maps and directions (with the mileage and driving time), I've got a real itch to take another day or so and drive up that way. Just 3 hours of driving time, from Jesup to Charleston. Finding an affordable place to stay overnight would be the real problem, of course, but wouldn't it be worth it? Just for a drive through the low country, Beaufort and its surrounding area, and a brief visit to Charleston? Just to say I've seen it? I'm tending to think that it would be well worth it, but being me, I'll leave the decision until closer to the time I leave for south Georgia. Still it's one of those ideas that, once imbedded in the mind, doesn't want to go away.

Not much else going on. Tired of sitting around!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Garden Life and Gleanings

I did mention that I was bored? Thus the urge and follow-through to pop out the camera and take a few photos. If I needed a reminder that I should be careful with the leg, I got it when I stooped down to take the garlic photo. Stretched skin, pulling at 12 stitches. Owee. Stings like stink!

Although the camera doesn't capture it well, I truly love sitting on my back porch and watching this view -- the flowers, the insects, the birds, all of it. I've trimmed that tomato plant a couple of times, fairly severely, but it doesn't seem to slow down much. Blueberries are ripening under the wooden frame and bird net. Basil requires constant cutting back (although the friends with whom I share that largesse don't complain).
The close up shows a little better why I enjoy the view -- love all the flowers that are growing in the perennial patch!

A few of the slower-drying onions sitting on my kitchen table, continuing to dry for storage. They are so good!
Some of the garlic that's drying in my bedroom -- and drying quite well. I'll leave it right where it is until I go to California, then I'll probably trim it up and store it in the refrigerator. It's pretty good, too!

So that's my day, such as it is. I must say once again, we are having stupendous weather for June in the deep south. Temps have been in the mid-80's, dry, and we've been blessed with afternoon clouds that come and go but do keep the temps down and the heat from the house. Cool nights cap it off perfectly. And we have at least another week or so of this forecast!

Of course, I'll be in muggy, buggy south Georgia beginning late August for 3 weeks, so even if I manage to miss unpleasant weather here, it'll get me. And that's OK. 

I sit a lot

Mornin' y'all. And a fine, cool, quiet morning it is. Birds have begun to sing, but the neighborhood is blessedly quiet this early. Unlike the evenings (and late into the night last night) when the kids are screaming and the neighbor across the street is yelling about one thing or another.

The leg is doing just fine, but I gotta tell you, it's only day three and already I'm frustrated beyond belief. I'm not built for sitting around so much of the time. For being so inactive. I don't want to push it, because I simply don't have time to deal with any problems that might arise from overuse. The stitches come out July 3, I head for California July 5, and that's that. It has to heal.

This thing, and the big hole that's left, is smack in the middle of the big muscle that runs up the outside of the shin. This particular muscle is fairly well-developed in my legs, largely from years of cycling and general exercise. It may well be the strongest muscle in my body. And, it's used for everything -- flexes when you flex the ankle, which we do when we walk and when I squat down to work in the garden, for example, and more often than you'd realize until it becomes an object of focus like this. I need to use it as little as possible for the time being. So, I sit a lot. Or lie down a lot. My eyes glaze over from reading after awhile. Not much to watch from TV land or on Netflix. In fact, it's amazing how little there is to watch on Netflix! When you narrow down what I've already seen, and winnow out the junk I don't care to see, all that's left is a few (very few) films I haven't seen, mostly old ones, and a bunch that I don't mind seeing again. Certainly won't be worth keeping the thing going once this one-month free trial is over.

So -- that's it from boredom land. At least the weather is good! Warm dry days, cool nights. Pretty good for June in the deep south.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

They got the whole thing

The doc literally took his 'pound of flesh' this morning. Well, maybe not really a pound, but he cut out a big chunk of it.  Not that I watched. I closed my eyes from the moment he sat down on his stool until they'd been stitching me back up long enough that I thought it was safe to look. And it was. The only way I could tell how much he cut out was the big depression underneath the line of stitches. Not to mention the length of the incision. She'd finished with the inside stitches and was starting the outside ones, stretching the skin and hoping the stitches will hold until it heals. I'm under strict orders to keep off my feet and keep this leg elevated for at least a couple of days, and then I can't do much more for the next 3 weeks, until the stitches come out. So much for Curves, although I can do upper body work, as long as I drive the 3 blocks instead of walking.

But what the heck. It's a good excuse to plop on the sofa with the leg up, reading or watching movies or TV shows. Not that I'll be content with that for long.  I may have to suck up my irritation at Netflix and re-join, so I'll have more to keep me occupied. Or not. I'm still nursing that particular grudge.

Anyway, for any of you out there who care, it does look as if I'll live to see another day, and despite the fact that it only took him 30 seconds or so to do the actual excision, I'm confident that they got the whole thing. These particular skin cancer types are not overly dangerous unless they've been ignored for a long time, and this one was brand new.

Guess I'd better get back to that elevated leg position.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stress, weight gain and cortisol

I can't remember when I last had a life that I thought wasn't stressful. That's not a complaint -- it's just what is. Even now, 'retired' and without job stress, life is filled with money stress (or, lack-of-money stress), which for me is the worst kind of stress. Fortunately, it's fairly minor because I do have the social security and Medicare cushions, and savings.

Thankfully, I no longer have the daily 'hate the job' stress that I've had for countless years. I don't have to face angry bosses or angry customers or anything of the sort. And that's kind of where I'm going with all this, because while I'm still very much learning to relax, to let go of stress and tension and anxiety and all that ugly stuff, I'm seeing that perhaps something I've heard for years may be true, and that's the stress/cortisol/weight gain issue.

Cortisol is a hormone secreted largely due to stress -- helps the body with the old fight or flight syndrome, as adrenaline does. Excess adrenaline has its own issues within the body, but excess cortisol is known to cause weight gain, particularly belly fat in women. Who's to say that any one thing, even cortisol, has affected the weight issues I've had for 10 years or so, but I'm seeing clearly that now that the big stressors are gone, the weight is coming off. Granted, I'm eating less, foregoing non-necessary foods that taste good but aren't good for us, in favor of nutrition, but for the most part I've always done this. And I've been on similar restricted diet regimens in the past, even as recently as last March, without significant success. And I've certainly exercised as much in the past as I'm doing nowadays with my daily 30 minutes at Curves. But the weight is coming off. I guess the oddest thing is that I haven't made any effort to lose weight, but it's going, so there must be a reason.

On the other hand, the belly fat started coming on when I quit my job in Eugene and moved to Brookings, where life wasn't overly stressful and where I had tons of exercise, hiking the coastal beaches and trails and redwood forests. That kind of blows the cortisol/stress issue, but perhaps not. There was more money stress then, certainly, and I probably drank more coffee then. Coffee (caffeinated or decaf) stimulates cortisol and I've been urged not to drink it. But, coffee simply makes me feel better after drinking it, so I have one lovely cup each morning and let it go at that. The second cup is never as good as the first, anyway.

I can't help but conclude that stress has played a big part in this weight gain, and now loss, and I'm curious to see how low it will go before it levels out. I'm happy with every pound that goes, but I'd be even happier if I can manage to lose another 25.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Life's Purpose

Do you have a purpose in life? Is it something you can recognize? Something that impels you forward day after day?  For most people, I expect that purpose is family. For others, it may be their religion. For some, it's greed and climbing the corporate ladder to make more money to buy more things. Beyond that, I suppose there are a myriad of reasons that people get up every day and do whatever life demands of them.

I've never really had anything I could call a purpose in life. I got up and went to work everyday because I had to, if I didn't want to live on the streets. Beyond that, everything was empty. My two month bicycle ride through the Colorado Rockies when I hit 40 was a search for a purpose, although I didn't truly realize that at the time. Looking back, it's pretty clear.

That's not to say that there hasn't been any fun, any pleasure, in life for me. I had some good years in San Francisco, sailing. I had some good years in the Napa Valley. The bicycle trip was fabulous. There were plenty of good years in Atlanta, hiking/backpacking/maintaining with the Georgia Appalachian Trail Club. There's been something good about every place I've lived, everything I've done. Lots of fun rewards, but still, no purpose.

Now that I'm retired (or unemployed, however you want to look at it) I'm really seeing that lack of purpose. I may be old, but I'm not feeble. It's not enough for me to watch TV (if I had a TV), or read, or putter in the garden, or walk around town. Or sit on the front porch and watch people. All of this became abundantly clear to me this morning. Sometimes I'm a bit dense. I don't always see the signs or put thoughts and feelings together with other thoughts and feelings so that they become clear, but eventually they'll all become strong enough that I can't miss it. That's what happened this morning.

My drive to tread the path of Buddhism is my purpose. I've been pushed along that path for years, particularly in the last year and a half after some life-changing moments brought about through deep meditation. In the last week or so I've decided that since I can't leave here until next spring, the best I can do is spend as much time as possible at a Buddhist center, studying and meditating. I didn't recognize that as a purpose until this morning, and yet it so clearly is what drives me these days. So -- unless fate intervenes I will spend the two weeks at Aranya Bodhi in July. Then in August I'll drive down to south Georgia to the Southeast Vipassana Center, where I'll sit a 10-day course then stay on to serve (work in the kitchen) a slightly shorter advanced course that I would not otherwise be qualified to attend. That'll take about three weeks. And although I swore I wouldn't do it, I'm even thinking of returning to Bhavana for the year-end retreats. That'll depend upon weather at the time, since the prospect of snow stressed me quite a bit last year.

After that, I'll just sit and prepare for whatever becomes right for me to do next spring. Will it be Aranya Bodhi? It could be Bhavana, or if I become really adventuresome it could be a Buddhist center somewhere in southeast Asia -- Thailand or Malaysia, for example. Not sure I'm up for that at this age, but one never knows. And it's way too soon to tell. Many things will change between now and then. Wherever it is, it won't be someplace where I'll be alone. I seem to have programmed my life to this point so that I am essentially alone wherever I go, even though I've wanted companionship. I haven't put myself into places where I'm likely to meet people to hang with -- particularly here. Nor am I particularly good at meeting people, trying to establish friendships. What I seek at this point, and what I've been seeking for 6 or 7 years, is dwelling in a Buddhist community among like-minded people who understand this important aspect of my life. It's not all that matters to me in this life, but it's probably what matters most. I just haven't found the right place yet. I'm hoping Aranya Bodhi will be that place, but if not, I'll keep looking until I find something.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Stuff and Nonsense

Interesting day today -- in a way. In another way, if I can call this 'interesting' maybe I really do need to spice up my life a bit.

The route to the dentist took me over the old 'back way' to the job I had for a couple of years in Rome, and I was shocked to realize just how much tension arose in me just by being near the place. I actually made a detour to avoid going past it. Used to get that tension every morning I drove over there, and I guess the memories are still strong.

The dentist was different. Not a glitzy place, by any means. Kind of the opposite, really. Older, a bit shabby here and there, but people were friendly and seemed capable. Got a full set of x-rays and there was nothing -- nada, zero, zilch -- wrong. That's good, but doesn't explain the aching mouth. I'm beginning to wonder if it's tension and anxiety -- causing me to clench my teeth even when I don't think I'm doing it. Have begun some serious awareness of this, working to release tension.  And yes, I have been tense and I've been aware of it.  Hard to miss -- it's pretty strong!

I can't say I actually liked the dentist from a personal point of view -- but I'm not sure that really matters. The hygienist was nice, and she's about the only one I'll have much contact with. And they are one of the few in this area that take my medicare supplement health insurance, so I have to be grateful they are there. I need to return for cleaning, opted to schedule it for next Wednesday after my skin cancer excision. Might as well get it all over with in one morning, and that makes one less trip to Rome.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


It's a good thing I don't have to deal with going to a job right now! I don't know where I'd find the time to squeeze it in.

The plumber came back today, to replace the rest of the old galvanized under the house so I shouldn't have any further water leaks. So, that's done. I noticed a bit of insulation knocked down, so will need to get somebody to go under there at some point to put it back.

Dental appointment tomorrow, one of at least two, I would imagine. And, finally got the results of the skin biopsy from a couple of weeks ago, and it's a squamous cell cancer, which I will go back and have excised next Wednesday. That should be fun. Fortunately, caught early so shouldn't prove to be a future problem. Then there'll be another visit to have stitches removed. And then, it's off to California. Busy! For an old retired woman, that is.

Other than that -- not much of interest going on. Whether or not the above is of interest is debatable, but I felt the need to share, so there you have it. 

Monday, June 4, 2012


I'd forgotten just how strong the garlic smell is when I bring it indoors to cure. I guess I thought a few days on the back porch would lessen the odor -- and perhaps it did.  I brought it indoors this morning before I left for Curves, and when I got home a short while later, the smell was strong! But, I like garlic and I don't mind the smell of it, and it does lessen with time. And, the windows are open at night, which will draw some of it out. Right now, we've got an nice steady rain that's due to last for awhile, so windows are closed and the de-humidifier is humming away. It does a really good job -- keeps it comfortable in here. Will also help the garlic to dry out.

Doesn't look like quite as much as last year. Probably because I've been pulling it and using it for a few months now. It'll be enough.

Guess this is gonna be my week to get things done. Called the plumber, and he's going to do the work under the house. He's such a good person -- one thing I'll miss about living here is the overwhelming preponderance of really good people who live in this town. We may not agree politically or in matters of religion, but I don't think you'll ever find a place with such a high percentage of good folks. Possibly because it's rather an insular community and most of them are related in one way or another. Whatever the reason, the town has a lot of good people living in it.

And, I broke down and called a dentist in Rome to get a checkup. Got a couple of teeth that are getting a tad sensitive, and I need to get that checked. My insurance covers very little of it -- but at least it covers some, and I'll have to be sure he does only what's really necessary for the rest of it. I don't think there's anything serious anywhere.

So that's how my week is shaping up. And it's just begun!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

I can do this

What, you ask? Live on my social security, that's what. And I can't tell you how good it feels to finally be certain of that fact. Particularly since I received word yesterday that my unemployment claim had been denied. I wasn't surprised at that -- always thought it was a longshot anyway. Still, the finality of it necessitated another serious look at my costs vs. income.  Working with my actual expenses on Quicken for the month of May, deducting certain one-time expenses, averaging other expenses, it pretty much breaks even. And that's all I can ask. I have savings to cover things that might pop up -- such as more plumbing that has to be done before I can comfortably go to California without worrying about an expensive water leak.

I've been living cheaply for the past few weeks, and haven't found it particularly onerous. Yes, I've cut down on my food costs, but that can't help but be good for me and may even help me to lose the excess fat on my body. I bought many things that fell into the 'want' category, rather than the 'need' category -- chocolate, other munchies, Peet's Coffee (twice the price of Seattle's Best, which is also a fine coffee). Simplify is the key word. And it hasn't bothered me in the least. I haven't felt hungry or deprived. How can I feel deprived when it costs so little to produce a delicious pasta, for example, right out of the garden and cupboard?

Gasoline cost was an estimate that I believe is too high -- because I haven't yet spent a full month that didn't entail commuting to Rome. I walk almost everywhere. The car sits most of the time.

Yes, I'll have some extra costs coming with the trip to California -- mostly parking the car in Atlanta and transportation to/from Sonoma/Napa and the San Francisco Airport. Everything else will be cost-free.

As a side benefit that also will save $$, I've signed up for a 10-day retreat at the Goenka Buddhist retreat center in south Georgia for late August. I began my meditation at the same retreat in Washington state over 7 years ago. After this retreat, I may opt to spend extended periods down there, depending upon their needs, functioning as a server/kitchen help during retreats. Cost-free, satisfying, a good way to spend time and beneficial in a Buddhist sense. I've been wanting to do another 10-day since my retreat at Bhavana in December, where I finally began to 'get' what Goenka is teaching. I think that I might benefit greatly, now that I understand more about the subject. As a rank beginner at the first one, I understood none of the terminology, hated every last day I was there until the last couple (because it's unbelievable difficult the first time), and basically forced myself to live with the suffering and stay until it was over. A mind/body torture that was, in the end, worth all the suffering.

So -- peace is upon me. I can relax, and enjoy this forced retirement. And there's nothing bad about that.