Sitting inside with my hat on

October 19, 2010 § Leave a comment

Inside my shoes my feet are sweating.

My socks have turned to grainy warm mud against my skin. Disgusting and yet strangely satisfying.
Earlier, back on the scythian chariot shearing the flowers from the capeweed infiltrating the oval. The vegetable patch and chook pen was wild.. The grass has been on steroids of springtime, water and chocolate compost soil. Its alive with worms.   It had to be cut as its time the snakes were out and its time we got the chickens out and the seedlings in.
I’ve still got my hat on, sitting inside in the silence. Tomorrow, I’ll do some more spraying in the morning. The weeds are taking over. Like triffids – they’re on the march. Tomorrow,another day, another day closer to Myanmar.


Valley Panorama

September 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

P8240107_stitch, originally uploaded by Ben O’Loughlin.

First successful panorama using Microsoft ICE. The panorama is a stitching of nine of ten photos. The original ten photos represent about 330 degrees of view, this is approx 300 degrees of view. From the left, in the distance is Mt Foster, St Paul’s Dome and on the right hand side of the photo is the flood plains going down to the South Esk River. The lake in the foreground is man-made and is fed by the Rostrevor Rivulet and it flows via a spillway when in flood.

Chicken Soup

September 2, 2010 § 1 Comment

Last night after meditation I arrived back in the main activity building looking for some human contact after news of James’ passing and then a session on the cushion.  After 9PM the students had been sent to their hostels to retire for the night and it is usually the time when staff get together to be amongst themselves – even if to discuss the children.  Last night, my colleagues were visibly excited.  Dressed in their black puffy-jackets with knives and torch in tow, they set off in the dark. They were going to despatch a couple of roosters in the chicken pen.  Killing vermin, let alone livestock is one of those things the staff know I won’t do.  Its called a fundamental value or something like that.  In their excitement they seemed  like kids embarking on a naughty adventure that we’re all pretending we know nothing about.

There were three roosters among the chooks.  The chickens are cute and the roosters not at all aggressiveWhen I was here on my own they would run to meet me in my car on my return from Campbell Town or beyond.  They were so tame that they would gather around my feet when I brought them their food and I could handle and stroke them without much fuss.  

Chicken enclosure

Chickens getting cold feet on frosty grass

I think one rooster who was doing all the fucking met his end at the end of a knife last night.  Whenever I was in the pen, one of them would jump the hens and within a couple of seconds, it was all over.  The chicken waddling away and adjusting its feathers as it went in search for food and a few moments alone.

Gary, a white bird and last remaining rooster seemed quite distressed this morning,.  Crowing and carrying on, locked in his hen-house.  Then there was blood down the side of one of the compost bins and feathers strewn about its base.  The request came through for chicken soup.  And in his excitement, Steve told me of plans to keep bush turkeys as well.  Fortunately, the roosters had been dressed and were prepared for cooking. Under all those feathers, they were tiny little things, bare and cold on a tray in the commercial refrigerator.

Sometime ago I put them in a big pot with carrots and onions and a mash-up of herbs and spices and there they’ve been for four hours.  Steve will probalby divide the soup amongst his staff tomorrow on return to town.

Dinner is already prepared.  Four boneless legs of lamb in oven bags with garlic and rosemary with roast vegetables and I’ll do peas and steamed carrots later.  The aromas should be now drawing people closer to the kitchen in expectation.

Outside, its beautiful.  Only the second day of Spring and its a corker of a day.  A pearler!  The kids had turns at practicing capsizing in the canoe and Madie and I played at being judges, ranking them on execution and presentation.  A craic-up!  In between things, I’ve managed to lay a thousand watercress seeds in a bed of seed raising culture, adding to the borlotti beans, sweet corn and peas I did earlier.

But after the last few days, I am missing home.

Vale James

September 1, 2010 § 2 Comments

James, I hear you breathed his last sometime today.  I found out about an hour ago when I checked your facebook site for updates.  Hoping against reason that you would find your way home.  Your beloved posted a note a few minutes earlier saying the doctors were harvesting your organs.

A few weeks ago you said ‘thank you for being you’.  It was during that time I was swept up by that rising tide of gratitude, for my usual list of recipients including my dear Dhamma-friends.  You were in there mate.

Our thoughts are with you and your beautiful young family.  Wherever you go my friend, may the Dhamma be your constant companion.  I hope to see you again one day, somewhere down the path.

For James

August 31, 2010 § 1 Comment

Earlier this evening we heard the sad and shocking news that James is fighting for his life. He had been found at work unconscious and is now in intensive care at a hospital in Anchorage with a massive brain haemmorage.
James, (JCSuperstar) has been an inspiration and friend to many on Dhamma Wheel, where he has managed the Sutta study group for longer than I can recall, and more recently took up the global moderator role after I stepped down.
As a moderator, he had a real gentle touch.
Mate, I hope you pull through. Though I hope you excuse me if the grief gets the better of me. Nearly ten years ago, I watched my brother’s vital signs fall off the edge of the world while I was with him. I wish for you to make a full recovery and be returned to your wife and young family. But whatever happens James, you are in my thoughts, you and your family have my metta, and my merits.

Five to Seven

August 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

Ages ago, they came for the soup and tomorrow night’s dinner.  I gave them lunch, we packed the trailer and they left.

They left me here alone, my solitude punctuated by the bus driver and his friend who came for coffee before heading back.

The hours have slipped away like a gentle undertow.  The movement perceptible but only just. 

The silence is like silk. 

In a little while, possums will stir and bang about on my roof and the warren under the flat will come alive with rabbits.

Now its time to sit before it’s too late.  Tomorrow at 5AM, I am up early to make my way down to Mt Dromedary to sit and attend the Trust.

Time now to listen to U Ba Khin chant the Tikapatthana.

Baking day

August 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

P8190036, originally uploaded by Ben O’Loughlin.

Approximately 1PM

A day of baking in preparation for the hordes. Two large trays of dairy-free muesli slice (80 large pieces), and four mini-loaves of an egg-free variety. Also baked chocolate hedgehog (40 large pieces), two massive chocolate cakes and have started the spicy Turkish red-lentil soup. Still waiting for the bread to prove.
It was good to be inside playing a Bob Dylan marathon on the ipod while outside the wind and rain howled around the doors. Snow today down to 400m. While I can’t see it from here, just north of us Ben Lomond was blanketed with a fresh blast.
I’m knackered now, just about to start the final leg of in the kitchen before I return to the cushion.