Wednesday, December 24, 2008

What you don't expect...

Everyone has been looking to the skies for signs of impending danger. Rain, snow, wind.

And so, on Sunday the earth moved to remind us that it too can cause problems. The houses in Jamesburg shook noticeably with this earthquake.

Friday, December 12, 2008


If you want to follow along at home, click on the picture to see an enlarged image.

Including the dharma talk and meals that's nine and a half hours of sitting. An hour of kinhin. Over two hours of free time for bathing and whatever. And 40 minutes sauntering towards your seat after the densho bell is struck.

Grading problems

Driving up the road from Tassajara on Monday afternoon I found an unusual roadblock just below Lime Point. One of Monterey County's graders was stuck with its back wheels off the road where they had removed burnt supports. I turned around and went back down the hill for a bath and a hot drink.

Grader stuck near Lime Point
A couple of hours later I tried to drive out again and found that attempts to drag the grader out of the hole were just starting. With each attempt the grader tilted further towards the steep drop without moving back towards the road. As darkness fell it became obvious that the grader would stay stuck overnight until a crane could be driven to pick the grader up and lift it back onto the road.

Trying to drag grader free
After they'd moved the tow-truck out of the way there was just enough space to squeeze the car between the workings and the cliff wall. I left the road crew working to clean up the site at the end of a very long day, and with a drive back to Salinas still ahead of them.

One of the sites where the road crew have removed burnt supports.


Ginger relaxing

Friday, December 5, 2008


While City Center and Green Gulch are in sesshin Tassajara continues with the normal daily schedule. Yesterday was a personal day with pizza dinner, today the wake-up bell rang at the usual 3.50am.

The 7-day Rohatsu sesshin starts on Tuesday, the day after the 8th. In what is becoming a common practice, several fresh faces will be joining the residents for this sesshin - to receive an invitation you must have close links with an Abbot.

Then the practice period will be almost over. A day off. The Shuso ceremony. A packing day. And finally, the goodbyes.

The winter practice period, lead by Abbot Steve Stucky, starts on January 3rd.

The Third Cat

Concerned about the possibility of large mudslides and debris flows closing the road, Zen Center bought a second-hand Bobcat at the start of the practice period. Shortly thereafter it blew one of the hydraulic seals and had to go back to Bakersfield to be fixed.

A few days after arriving back at Tassajara the seal blew again and the Bobcat had to be abandoned on the road.

We've now exchanged this machine for another which was driven into Tassajara on Wednesday, a drive that took about 5 hours. The driver passed the time listening to Joseph Campbell and Willie Nelson.

The two kittens are now well on the way to being cats. Boy Cat is a total love machine, happy to sit on my lap purring heavily while I watched the early morning coffee drinkers ghost around the courtyard. Girl Cat is more self-reliant, to the dismay of some residents, and keeps herself amused.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


Some of the practice period students are still regularly using the swimming pool.

The pool is particularly vulnerable to falling rocks even now. When I was taking these pictures there was a small slide, most of which was caught by the fence. One rock the size of a football picked up enough energy bouncing down the hillside that it sailed over the fence into the pool.

After the recent light rains this small slide reached the top of the sandbags which meant some heavy digging for the shop and general labour crews to remove the debris.