Wednesday, July 26, 2006

July 26th....Heading for Retreat....

Though we'll be at retreat for a few weeks, things back home in Poolesville will be hoppin'! This weekend marks another major holiday on the Tibetan Buddhist calendar. There will be practices and celebrations all day! Preparations for the upcoming visits from our own teacher, Jetsunma, and her root teacher, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche will continue as well.

If you want to know more about His Holiness Penor Rinpoche you can visit the Palyul website here

If you are interested in learning more about our teacher here at KPC Maryland, you can read about her

There will be teachings and empowerments offered by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche at the end of August in Maryland, so if you've had even a passing interest in learning more about the Buddhist tradition this would be a great time to plan a visit!

Of course, there is no need to be Buddhist, or even be interested in Buddhism to visit the Stupas! We've worked hard to leave the Stupas in reasonable repair, so you can enjoy them any time! I may post a cameraphone photo from retreat once or twice over the next two weeks, but this will be my last sitting infront of a full fledged computer for a while. : ) Know that even as our Stupa folk spend time learning to deepen in our practices, the Stupas themselves are always offering you blessings. It is our hope you will take some time and see them for yourselves! Posted by Picasa

Saturday, July 22, 2006

July 22nd...Devotion...

It's been a while since I posted...sorry. It's been a week of focused effort. Our Lama, Jetsunma Ahkon Lhamo, is planning to return to Maryland the second week of August. Lisa and I are each going on retreat until then, leaving next week! Yikes! This is the park devoted to our teacher's long life, so we really didn't want to leave it in such a partially done state. So this image is from Tuesday. I started the detailed painting, by priming. I killed one of Lisa's expensive artist brushes (it worked well, but the primer was just to thick and the heat baked the bristles together...sorry man). Posted by Picasa

I left Auspicious Manifold Doorways looking like this on Tuesday. The spires were all primed, and everything else I could prime was. You can see we still hadn't mounted the final relief here, and one other Stupa was in the same state. Whew! With retreat approaching, I had hoped to get farther. I worked on Friday all day as well, so diligently that I forgot to take pictures! Lisa met me in the evening after work, and we were able to mount the final reliefs and get some of the final detail colors going... Posted by Picasa

This is what it looked like when we started work today... Posted by Picasa

As a reference point, here's the Auspicious Manifold Doorways Stupa at the start of the day today. Lisa and I met at 7 am. Our original thought was we would avoid the heat of the day...but as it turned out we needed every minute just to get the small Stupas finished before we each head to retreat this week! We're both attending retreat in upstate New York at the Palyul Retreat Center. We'll both be back the second week of August...but today we wanted to get these small Stupas ready in case a landscaping fairy comes along while we're gone to place fill dirt and re-plant around them! Posted by Picasa

Not many "working" shots today. Lots to do, and despite the burning heat of the afternoon, we had to keep time for photos.... Posted by Picasa

So here's a look at the finished renovation of the Auspicious Manifold Doorways Stupa!  Posted by Picasa

Here's a closer look at it...the sun was bright and harsh, making a good shot difficult, but work wasn't finished, and clouds were forming, so no time to wait for better conditions... Posted by Picasa

Sorry if I'm posting lots of these shots, but we were thrilled to have them all finished! Posted by Picasa

Here you can see the kind of detail work that took us all day. The burgundy and gold we used both took multiple coats to cover, and we used small artist type brushes most of the day.  Posted by Picasa

We ended up caught in a downpour about 30 minutes after I took this shot. We're both hoping that rain didn't compromise our work today...but the paint seemed dry...

Our last day for Stupa work before heading to retreat this week, we persevered until the elements intervened. We did succeed, however, in getting all the small Stupas completely painted!!!

This is a poor shot, but the sun was behind the Stupas so I used my hat to reduce flare in the lens, but alas, cameras aren't able to record what we saw. It does, however, give you a glimpse of the Stupa Park in a state approaching complete! We hope you'll brave the heat one day soon and come see them for yourself! They bring blessings to all who see them, whether you like them or not, whether you have any idea what they are or not. They exist for no other reason, than to help bring happiness and peace to all who encounter them. They are here for you, whoever you are! Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 14, 2006

July 14th...Compassion

This is a photo by Eugene Smith (copyrighted by his heirs, you can find that info here: Part of Buddhist practice, the motivation, is the recognition of suffering. Youth (even the post 40 era), can lack a real experience of that. Even as a nurse, it is easy to put a distance between my own life and the reality I see every day. I find images like this inspiring. The mother's compassion, even in the face of horrific illness (the children of this fishing village were disfigured by mercury poisoning, a result of toxic waste being dumped into the ocean near their village). I share the above image as it illustrates to me unconditional love, compassion, and tender caring. The woman is not absorbed in the horror of the situation, she is instead focused on bringing comfort to the suffering. It reflects one of the qualities to which I aspire as a practitioner. The Stupas offer such unconditioned kindness, they don't care who or what you are, they offer their blessings without judgment or restraint.

We turned our attention away from Stupas today, so no photos. We began the demolishing of the studio, a room at the temple once used to record music. It flooded with the heavy rains a few weeks back, and with our teacher returning, and wanting to again record, we decided to put our effort towards helping clear out the debris. I work this weekend, but my Stupa Pal Lisa will be doing dump runs (trailer memories coming back to us!). : )

Even if we aren't out there for a few days, we still hope you'll come out and enjoy the Stupas. They are here for you, and all beings, offering their blessings unconditionally!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

July 12th...Cloudy skies and back up plans...

Today loading the truck was relatively simple (once you remember everything you need!). My goals for the day included painting, however far I could get but starting with finishing areas of gold where the paint failed from last year. I also had items like caulk, putty knives, and a display Ashby had made for the Stupa Park, just in case it rained. A wise Stupa gal always has layered plans, for when things change.... Posted by Picasa

I headed out to start painting! It was a solo effort today, so no shots of anyone working, but work did occur! Posted by Picasa

A rain shower finally ended the painting, so I turned my attention to this....weeds....lots of them. I'd started on this last Sunday, following behind Steve who'd started with a weed whacker Saturday. But they were really overgrown. I used the old fashioned method, yanking them one by one by hand.  Posted by Picasa

So here's a look after wrestling with weeds all afternoon. The Stupas that had been prepped were now coated with the gold, and I managed to scrape and sand the remaining small Stupas so I can work on priming and painting them gold tomorrow! Let's hope the weather cooperates!  Posted by Picasa

Another rainy weather job was mounting the display. We've found that many visitors read the one by the Enightenment Stupa, and will be placing one at each of the major Stupas!  Posted by Picasa

Though the clouds hung heavily all day, and thunder rumbled in the distance the whole time I was out there, all that happened was a short, gentle shower. Hopefully I'll be painting under less threatening skies tomorrow! Slowly, slowly we're recovering the Stupa Park from yet another state of disrepair. The Stupas themselves are into the final phases of painting, but the work on the grounds has just gotten started. The grass is cut though, and many of the weeds now pulled, so it's worth coming out to see!  Posted by Picasa

Sunday, July 09, 2006

July 9th...Weekend Round-up...

Friday I spent the afternoon addressing a problem with our offering box by the Enlightenment Stupa. Every now and then someone would come along an pop the lid off of it to steal the contents (not very good karma, but they probably don't know anything about that). We collect the offerings from there several times a week, but sometimes it happens anyway. The end result is our locking mechanism broke (from being jammed one too many times). Here are the tools I assembled for the job. A metal strip (pretty strong), a padlock, and our handy grinder! Here are some shots of the functional concept... Posted by Picasa

So here's a quick overview of the current solution. We'll see if it is effective. A metal strip was cut and bent to hold down the lid of the box, with a hole over the area where the previous lock had been. A bolt runs down through a hole in the strip to another metal piece inside the box, held on by a nut that can only be accessed once the strip is pulled up (prevents the strip from being pried up). Posted by Picasa

The metal strip goes down through the box, through a slit in the bottom, where there's a padlock, preventing anyone from being able to pull up on it or pop the top of the box up. At least not without a lot of effort... Posted by Picasa

Here's the lock, under the box. It's a little more complex than the standard locking device, but much more sturdy. So we'll see how it goes! Posted by Picasa

I took this shot of some of our temple cats because I couldn't resist. We have an ever growing population of them at the temple (recent additions seem to be house cats abandoned by their owners on our property---they know we won't kill them).  Posted by Picasa

Saturday our plan was to spend the morning hours on the Enlightenment Stupa finishing up, and then head to the Stupa Park. Yes, it is me that keeps making these plans...I admit it... Posted by Picasa

Here Lisa uses the last of our fancy paint (potassium silicate) to cover all the repairs we'd done, and any areas that looked dull. Posted by Picasa

After placing new desiccant, drilling holes in our new plexi, we finally caulked the gau of the Enlightenment Stupa! We placed the brocade front Mom sewed (thanks Mom!) which helped reduce the abundance of red in there, and on Friday evening, we polished the statue. So finally the Guru is in a clean, secure place (we hope....we've gone to a lot of trouble to try and keep that chamber free of excess moisture!) Posted by Picasa