On September 12, 2020, Carol Barker died in a Denver, CO, Hospice Center, of bowel cancer. Carol had been a member of the Santa Barbara Priory, and then of Pine Mtn. Temple, while she lived in California and some of our older members may well remember her bright and courageous presence. Even when she moved out of state she remained in regular correspondence with Rev. Phoebe and supported the temple. Last year her youngest son Marvin fell ill with cancer, and he died in April, 2020. Carol became ill soon after that, and recently Rev. Phoebe spoke with her on the phone once a week. She is survived by her other two adopted children, Cyrus and Jane, and we offer our condolences to both of them. We held a funeral service for Carol on October, her ashes were scattered in the hills on her request.
With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic era, life certainly has changed for the two monks of Pine Mountain Temple, as it has for everyone else. For a while we had almost no visitors; with the easing of restrictions, we’ve started to have overnight guests again, only now with some guidelines in place to minimize the potential to spread illness. Our Sunday routine (see p. 3) has worked quite well, and we’ve had a number of day visitors on Sundays for two periods of meditation and a Dharma Talk. During the week life goes on pretty much as it always has, given that the temple is a big place and needs constant care and maintenance. Needless to say, we are aging, and so the day-to-day challenge of maintaining the temple slowly increases over the course of time. The day will come when we will have to decide whether we can continue for much longer, but until that day arrives, we both love the land, the animals, the wildlife, the quiet and our countless blessings so much that we hope to stay as long as possible.
The County of Ventura, meanwhile, hasn’t moved on our renewal application for an extension of our conditional use permit. The pandemic threw their internal workings for a loop; we were assigned a new case worker who essentially started over from scratch. We’ve been told the application will go through, but at this point we continue to wait to see when and how that might happen.
Our tiny garden has produced a steady flow of zucchini, tomatoes, chard and arugula since about the middle of summer. Rev. Phoebe also harvested a large bowl of ripe grapes, which hasn’t happened in years because birds or coyotes normally get them before we do. There will be some leeks this winter.
Rev. Phoebe painted all the decks this summer, a large undertaking, which was facilitated by Jack Collings, who loaned us his pressure washer. This amazing tool makes removing the old paint and prepping the wood comparatively easy. Rev. Phoebe used a roller instead of a brush this time, so all-in-all the job was not as hard as it used to be.
Thanks to Dorothy Scovil and Karen Hillman, who stayed at the temple and looked after things for over two weeks during August, Revs. Phoebe and Seikai were able to take a break and go camping. We spent some time in Mammoth Lakes, CA—luckily before the fire season hit that area—and then continued into Nevada. We both love the huge, open spaces and mountain ranges, one after the other, of the Great Basin. The day we re-entered California, arriving in Bishop, we were greeted by thunderstorms, which where happening all over the state, starting fires as they went. Most of those fires are still burning a month later, but none of them are near the temple, which is a great blessing in itself.