Friday, July 8, 2016

My week in photos

 Sunset from the deck in Napa early in the visit. Tonight should be even better, as there are nice horizontal clouds out there.

First view of the house after a long, steep driveway (my car has to go in low gear to get up it!). It's kind of hidden in the trees and the beauty of its design, wrapping around the rock outcropping and blending into its surroundings. But an awesome sight at this point. That wing on the right is the guest wing, with my room at the very end, jutting from the rest. To the far left is the big front deck, where I spend most of my time, reading or staring at the scenery.

All rooftops are planted with native flora of some kind. This is the guest wing, where I'm staying, with its lovely view toward San Francisco, which I could actually see this afternoon from the deck! Clearly identifiable - the big Bank of America building on its hill, and lots of other skyscrapers in appropriate places plus a hug, ugly thing called Sutro Tower that is unmistakable. I finally convinced myself that I was seeing something else, but my friend wrote from Berlin that yes, I probably did see all this because it is all visible on clear days. It was really awesome, for me. Couldn't stop looking.
One of a contingent of 3 monks from Abhayagiri Monastery in Ukiah, offering their help and support for some painting in the new meditation room at the new Dhammadharini Monastery. This is an awesome clay paint, second coat, which is going to be beautiful. Dry color is the lighter color.

 A couple of bhikkhunis taking a break from painting in the side yard.

Another monk working on the high window, also in the meditation room. This back wall is yet unpainted, will also be clay paint but a slightly darker color than the other walls.

My awesome ride for the week. A new Prius that was a wonder to drive. I kind of wanted to bring it home with me, but didn't think the bhikkhunis would be willing to trade.

This beautiful wall hanging was hand-painted on fabric, then edged and backed with fabric, by one of the Abhayagiri monks and presented to Dhammadharini as a gift.

Close up of the painted portion. What a beautiful and appropriate gift from the monks to show their support for the women's new monastery.

Another thing I fell in love with was a new Canon Rebel camera that had been recently donated. That is what took this awesome photo in the back yard of the vihara one morning. l-r, Adhimutta Bhikkhuni from New Zealand, Sobhana Theri, Prioriess;  Sudhamma Theri, visiting from North Carolina;  Suvijjana Bhikkhuni, resident; Dhira Bhikkhuni, from Germany.  Missing is our abbess, Ayya Tathaaloka and the young samaneri (a nun who isn't fully ordained) who was at the hermitage. When you consider that there are only 10-12 bhikkhunis residing in this country, to have seven in one place is just awesome. I've certainly never seen that many at one place at one time.
It was quite a week, and it's not over yet. I was supposed to return to Eugene on Thursday, but it's now Friday and I just returned to Napa after a few days at the monastery. My plan had been to drive over there (in Sonoma County) on three days to help them out. Second morning I showed up and the lay person who had been doing the cooking and driving had not shown up that morning, and they couldn't reach her by phone. She had been living at the new monastery location, while the bhikkhunis were all at the existing vihara that night. I quickly prepared and served them some breakfast, drove them to the new place and found that the lay person had fled, lock stock and barrel. Probably the previous day, after she was left alone there in the afternoon. She left a brief note that didn't say much. I (and the others) knew she was stressed with the work and had been before I arrived.  That's why they'd asked that I work with her in the kitchen, help her learn the ropes and make the work easier for her. I think it was too little, too late. It's hard job, without doubt. I've been stressed at times too, learning to do it.

So -- I went home that night, packed a bag, drove over and moved into the new monastery for a couple of days, doing all the cooking and transporting between the two locations. Lots of driving, but then, I was driving that sweet new Prius and was transporting some awesome women from around the world, so it was pretty cool. Tiring, yes. But cool. I slept well.

Today, more people were arriving and they are in good hands for awhile, so I returned to the lap of luxury this afternoon to rest up (read: be lazy) for a couple of days before heading back to rainy Eugene on Monday. I am so glad I was there, not glad that the woman felt compelled to leave but glad I was able to fill in for a few days. They give back far more than I give them. Always.

The sun is about to set. Good night, all.

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