Sunday, May 28, 2006
Though we had a great day yesterday, and got a lot done, we weren't ready to rest and relax...the sun was out and the skies were clear so we got together in our work duds again this morning. As always, we start the day with auspicious prayers, devoting our work towards the enlightenment of all beings...
We wrapped up much later than anticipated (not too shocking actually) but we were able to get Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje completed!
This Stupa may look small, but it has been a potent force. This Stupa was where this particular renovation project began, a few years back, when I was asked to take a digital photo of it for some folks in Arizona. At that time it was in such horrible condition I knew my destiny was changed instantly. There was no way I could leave it the way it was, and once seeing how it had fallen into neglect, I also knew I had to check out all the Stupas on the property...the rest is documented on this blog!
As always, we'll end with the invitation that you come out and experience these amazing structures for yourself. They exist for no other reason than to bring benefit to beings, no matter who or what you are (insects, creepy crawlies, same difference....the Stupas are unconditional in their generosity).
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Today we had a solid crew show up, so we decided to go for it and work on repairs in the gau chamber! That involves removing the statue (which weighs probably 100 lbs). No small task from that height with that footing...but we tried to address it with this...
Well, here we go! Our first test of the new system we came up with for removing the Guru from the gau chamber (we placed him on the lower steps while we worked, so he would not be separated from the Stupa). We built this chair last Tuesday, and here we have it in action. By having it run along the ladder we reduce the impact of gravity, and using the pulley we are able to distribute the weight so more people can help. It isn't easy, but it worked! Not many photos of the process though, as all hands were needed!
The whole reason we needed to remove the statue from the chamber was to complete repairs inside there. Mikki looks it over here checking to make sure we've covered it all. Next week, we'll be coating that interior with some rubberized roofing paint, to seal it from moisture coming in through the concrete. That, combined with our new mounting system for the plexi, should create a pretty moisture tight chamber for the Lama!
Well...you can see it actually did work! Guru Rinpoche is back in his chamber safe and sound! It did take 6 people to work the system, but the load was spread amongst us, rather than on one or two folks. With repairs well under way on the Enlightenment Stupa we were ready to have some lunch...
In case you were wondering how it "works", these are the guide rails we put on the back of the chair to help keep it on the ladder. For those of us who designed and built this, it was quite reassuring to see it did indeed work...now all we have to do is figure out how to make brakes!
Though many folks helped out today (Gabriel's two daughters as well as Lisa's daughter did the prime coat on the lower parts of this Stupa!), I was so busy working along side them I didn't take so many pictures. But, here's a glimpse of Ngagpa Yeshe Dorje after one coat of gold (two on the bumpa and spire). The weather finally broke for us, temps are warm enough and conditions dry enough we kept working late into the evening---not wanting to waste such a precious opportunity. We'll be back out tomorrow to finish this Stupa! Of course, there's always a lot going on out here, whether you want to walk the quiet walking paths across the street or join in the classes and prayer in the temple...or jump in and get dirty with us! It is our sincere hope you'll come see some of this for yourself...it here for you, whatever your faith, anytime!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
It's been a busy few days on the Stupas! Norbu, who is working almost every day now (for a living) in preparation for retreat this summer, was able to join us on Monday, so we all set our minds to taking advantage of the now rare opportunity for us all to work together. We persevered all day and into the early evening, leaving us all exhausted but peaceful at heart...
Our original plan was to find a diamond coated router bit for this job. The idea of a secure guide appealed to us all. But we all showed up on Monday fired up and tired of the obstacles, so we did what we do best, we used what we had and went for it. Norbu did the lion's share of the work, but we all took turns cutting the channel out with our grinder!
Here's a closer look at what we're trying to do...I'm not construction gal (despite what it might look like on this blog) so I don't have a proper name for this. But we cut a channel into the face of the gau, so the plexi could fit flush with the face of the gau, rather than on top of the face. This will not only allow for a tighter seal, but will prevent the degredation of the paint behind the plexi that occurs when the water builds up behind it...
After getting the channel cut, Norbu was so excited by how good it looked he insisted we trim the plexi to fit---TODAY (which now was two days ago). He wanted to try using our grinder (probably the single most useful tool we have in our whole collection!) to cut the plexi---and it worked like a dream!
While Norbu smoothed out the new channel we carved into the Stupa, Lisa worked on cutting some blocks we could use as brackets to hold the plexi in. Our model for this whole overhaul is the Long Life Stupa, which was built after this one. The Long Life Stupa gau was so remarkably dry and intact, no bugs, no condensation, we realized that system was far superior to what we have been struggling with here at the Enlightenment Stupa. They used blocks of plexi as their brackets (since it is clear it is less distracting) but we didn't have any, so as usual, we grabbed what we had on hand for now. We'll eventually convert over the plexi, but we think with some paint, the wood blocks will be serviceable for a while. We also decided to mount them to the Stupa using JB Weld, our adhesive of choice out here, rather than screws or nails. We noticed when we removed the wood frames from inside the chamber that the nails had caused spiderweb like cracks in the concrete. The adhesive gives a good hard bond, and with our handy grinder we can cut them off whenever we need to replace them.
It may not look different to you all, but to us, it's an awesome sight. Here we mount the trimmed plexi into it's new location, now inset from the face of the gau. It will allow a completely sealed chamber once we caulk it in place, and will prevent damage to the paint on the gau caused by water sitting between the plexi and the paint (you can see what happened when we removed the plexi). It is the most challenging step in this overhaul, and we're glad to have it behind us. Of course, we still have work to do...the entire interior chamber must be repaired and prepped for paint (we're going to apply a rubberized roofing paint to the interior to seal it from the moisture penetrating the concrete). Once that's done though, we think we'll have the moisture issue under control in there (finally!). After we finished this, we moved inside the temple and did a tsog offering ceremony, hence, I was home too late to post anything. And then yesterday, well...I met Pema for another long day of work...so you're getting a few days worth of updates here!
Pema has started a new job, and thus now has some days off during the week once in a while...so he joined me yesterday to do some Stupa work! He brought one of his many reptiles (his goal is to get every one of them around the Stupa eventually). An Australian skink who could tolerate the still slightly chilly temps.
Our goal for the day (yesterday) was to build a "carriage" for Guru Rinpoche, the statue in the Enlightenment Stupa. It was clear to us last Saturday that we would need to work for several days on the interior chamber of the gau (where Guru Rinpoche lives) and that would entail removing him each time (he MUST stay with the Stupa). At approximately 100 lbs, on the edge of the Stupa steps, that's not an easy task. So we pondered and brainstormed an option...building a chair-like platform with runner on the back which could be used to track along the ladder, so we could use a pulley and some guide ropes to lower the Guru, securely strapped into his seat, down the ladder safely. It still involves getting him into the seat, but it's a functional option relative to others (if you'll recall last year, Chuck, a sangha member, hefted the Guru up the ladder on his belly!). It took the entire day to come up with a concept, gather supplies, and then dig into the construction of it...but we did it!
Well, you can see Ashby was thrilled to help build! Unfortunately, as the day drew on I was so obsessed with getting the thing built I forgot to take pictures. We did finish it, as the sun was setting. Hopefully we'll be able to give it a test run on Saturday! The weather is finally warming...so we're gearing up for finally completing the renovations started last year!
We've seen many visitors come through while we worked, and hope you too will come out and enjoy this amazing place. The temple is open 24 hours a day, open to anyone. The Stupas and Peace Park are also here for anyone who wishes to explore them. Whether you believe in such things as blessings or not, there is plenty here to enjoy!
Saturday, May 20, 2006
I had a late night prayer shift, so slept in a while, and Lisa has her children's sports events to go to, so we got a late start today. Pema didn't want to waste any part of his day to be out here though, so he spent the morning scrubbing and scraping the bottom steps. Believe it or not they look really clean compared to before! And we have a clear view of where repairs failed.