The Work

So it occurred to me that I subtitled this blog ‘Adventures in Facilities Management’ and have spent very little time talking about the work I do. It’s all been movies and beach outings, head shavings and whining about missing Chicago. Where’s the work? What is it that I do all day?



Trap squirrels. And mice. Every few weeks a couple of squirrels figure out how to either get into the ceiling right above the shrine room at exactly 8:30am or chase each other all over the roof of the shrine room. Again, exactly at 8:30am. When we are sitting in meditation. If they are just on the roof, we’ve been letting them go but Yarne is coming up (7 week closed retreat) and 12 outside folks are coming, not to mention Pema Chodron so the squirrels and mice all got relocated to an abandoned house down the way. I leave them with a generous portion of peanut butter toast and wish them luck.

There’s a lot of moving furniture around, unclogging toilets, insulating windows, along with lawn care, tree trimming, and snow shoveling. There’s also a lot of phone calls to electricians, plumbers and heating guys about why the heat, water, pump, hot water won’t work. Most of the aforementioned jobs had to be done at one of our cabins recently, the cabin reserved for Rinpoches, Pema Chodron, Acharyas and other muckety-mucks.

Pema Chodron's crawlspace

Pema Chodron’s crawlspace

Here’s the crawlspace of Lotus Cabin! Along with everything else, we covered the crawlspace with plastic and 2 inches of gravel, which equaled about 5 tons. The truck delivered it about 60 yards away from the house so it was wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow through a tiny opening while Chodzin (fka Meir Steinmetz) crouched down there and spread it around.

Burning things features prominently in my work too. We have Lhasangs for various occasions like the equinox-es and solstices. I have hogged the honor of getting up early, making a flask of coffee and building a tremendous fire before dawn



and then finishing burning the left over wood through breakfast (I don’t miss a meal, don’t worry). We also have had about 10 trees fall and have cut them up, dragged them to a fire pit and burned most of it away. So far, about every two months, one day’s work is burning stuff. It’s not a bad way to spend a work day.

Fixing up, cleaning and doing general maintenance on the retreat cabins (as well as moving furniture in and out of them ) is a regular chore. We have two really small cabins, basically one room with a kitchenette for solitary retreats. A new countertop went into one called Longevity which made everything else look super crap in comparison. For example, it has a wood stove and to prevent things from burning, they had surrounded it with sheet metal. It was ugly.

Longevity cabin

Longevity cabin

Luckily we had to take it down because we were drywalling behind it so instead of putting it back up, I collected some stone from the mountain and did this instead. Then the linoleum floor in the kitchen looked bad so we put in pergo. And then I had to put a tchotchke shelf in because that’s what I do. Voila, nice looking retreat cabin. (currently available for renting!)

That about sums it up. There are 13 buildings on this land and they all need something, sometimes every day. Sometimes it actually gets fixed too.



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