Moving to Santa Paula
We made the move! Everything we wanted to keep was loaded up into cars and moving vans and hauled from the Ozena Valley to Santa Paula on January 29th. Two trucks and five guys from Meathead Movers did the heavy lifting. Several people donated their time and energy to haul some of the more fragile things over the mountains. The house had been tented for termites earlier in the week, and moving day, Saturday, was chaotic but successful. Many of our neighbors stopped by to welcome us; they were happy to see the unoccupied house get new residents and that by all appearances we had the drive and energy to fix the place up. One of the great things about moving to this neighborhood has been how friendly people are, and in the town of Santa Paula generally. Both monks soon fell ill, Rev. Phoebe with pneumonia and Rev. Seikai with stomach flu. Rev. Phoebe spent a day in the hospital, which fortunately is nearby, but then had to fight off the stomach flu as well.
It was a trying first couple of weeks. Meanwhile, we hired Tim Grant of Superior Masonry to come and replace the rotting stairway on the west side of the house. Tim and his two men hired another crew to pour the concrete once they had the forms ready, and those guys did a truly excellent job.
As Rev. Seikai wrote in the last newsletter, our new temple building has flaws, lots of them. One by one we have been addressing them and if possible, fixing what needs fixing. One of the more dramatic flaws was a hole in the side of the house which had rotted out where there was wood against wood—steps up against siding. Copper pipes and wiring to the air conditioning unit had to be rerouted and the side of the house repaired with concrete blocks. The whole process of step reconstruction took over three weeks but had an immediate impact on the appearance of the temple. Five garden terraces were created alongside the steps which have since been planted with flowers and vegetables.
Next up was the meditation room carpet. The old carpet was pulled out and the new one installed by one guy in less than one day. Again, the result was an immediate improvement, with the new bluish carpet giving the room a much softer, soothing feel. Everyone who has visited has said they love it.
Our kitchen and common room needed painting, the old paint being a depressing shade of pea soup green. We hired men to do that job, and again it was done it a day, and again the results were very uplifting. It took three coats to cover the old gloom. Rev. Phoebe then took on the job of painting all the other rooms as a cost-saving measure, and one by one has done the entire job. All the rooms and the hallway in the lower level of the house have been painted and brightened.
Rev. Master Haryo, who is the head of the Order of Buddhist Contemplatives, came for a ten-day visit in the first half of March. With all of the travel restriction attendant to the Covid Era, he has been unable to visit temples of the order as often as he used to, and he said that this was the first temple visit he had made in two years. Rev. Master Haryo gave a Dharma talk on March 13, which marked the first event of any kind we held at the new temple.
Rev. Haryo is a wizard with all things electronic, and while he was here he wired in a number of things, including a 240V outlet in the garage for the table saw, and overhead lights in Rev. Seikai’s room, which will illumine the future sewing area. We were grateful for his contributions to helping the temple get started.
Getting the old carpet pulled out of the lower level and new flooring put in place was a job that had to wait for all conditions to ripen. Our initial contract with a big box store fell apart; they could not get our phone number right. Then we contacted a local flooring crew that ultimately did the job, but it took over a month to get the vinyl flooring from the manufacturer. When they set to work they had to level off our uneven floors, and then discovered water damage to the plywood in two rooms. With that fixed, the job was finally finished in the fourth week of March, to our great relief. Revs. Phoebe & Seikai at that point felt, for the first time, that the house and the temple were truly ours.
We’ve made a lot of progress on our list of maintenance jobs and upgrades, but there are several that remain. That list includes:
- Rain gutters, most of which have either fallen apart or need replacement. This job should happen this spring as soon as it can be arranged with a local company that has made us a reasonable estimate.
- Pond maintenance. The pond in the back yard holds water but the pipes from the pond to the top of the waterfall are plugged. We will have to find a way to get them flushed out and the pond pump plumbed in so that the water feature can again be operable.
- A broken sewer line. Cameras have been sent down our sewer line three times, and it has become evident that there is a crack in a clay sewer line in our back yard. We had tree roots blasted out of it with a “hydro jet” by a roto-rooter company. A city employee came and his map showed that the city’s sewer line starts literally a few yards past the crack, meaning that we will have to bear the responsibility for getting it fixed. Of course, it won’t be cheap as the line is from six to eight feet below the surface, and you cannot get equipment back there. We asked for and received donations which should pay for this project.
- Window upgrades. The windows, probably the original ones installed in 1985, are weathered and not in very good condition. Several of the screens are missing or damaged. At some point when we can afford it and there is nothing more urgent, we’ll need to tackle the window job.
- Rebuild the automatic garden watering system. Rev. Seikai has done this for many years, so although it will be a complete rebuild, it should not be too difficult an undertaking.
On the bright side, everything works. We have water, gas, electricity, internet and phone service, roofs that do not leak, new floors in much of the house and a beautiful meditation room. The front garden has sprung back to life after years of neglect, and we have an abundance of spring flowers. The solar system works, and produces more power than we use, meaning that, potentially, we will be eligible for a rebate at the end of the year. Rev. Seikai is slowly fitting out the garage as a workshop; Rev. Phoebe has a work bench and more will be built; the washing machine was replaced so now both laundry machines work.
We’re grateful for the on-going support of everyone who cares about Pine Mountain Temple and helps in some way to keep it alive. All the help and encouragement we received during the moving process was very much appreciated. Although it was sad to leave the old temple and its beautiful surroundings after so many years of care, love and attention, we are happy in our new place and will do the same thing here that we did in the Ozena Valley.