We wanted to let you know about all the work that's been going on at Vijayaloka of late, and also let you know about opportunities to get involved and to enjoy being amongst friends in this beautiful weather at the bushland retreat centre.
Recently we had a Working With Nature Retreat out at Vijayaloka. It was a wonderful weekend – between 20-25 of us including 5 kids (raring to go) spent the weekend together. As we have found previously this type of retreat attracts new people so we had a mix of introductory dharma activities and enjoyed getting to know each other while doing the things each of us enjoyed for the benefit of others. The wonderful winter sunshine made the time seem mythic.
Here's a mini-update and glimpse of what we got up to:
When we started the dam was full of a large fallen tree as well as years of vetetation off-cuts: Not only a bit of a fire hazard but also pretty ugly. So we burnt all the vegetation (fun) and chainsawed up the big tree (thanks to Phillipe’s chainsaw skills!) for firewood.
As the fire was burning nice and hot we chopped down two coral trees which have long been on the list to remove. One from the area often used for camping and one from the compost area beyond the garage. It was great to dispose of the pesky trees - which tend to regrow from any debris left - by burning them immediately. We also moved a lot of old rotting timber from the compost area.
We emptied a few of the full compost bins and really tidied up the area. The opportunities for gardening are huge now that the ground is clear and sunshine abundant.
Brave Bodhisattva souls indeed took on the craft storage room!
Everything was pulled out – in addition to the mouse (or worse) nests in the corners and in bags of material - the dust was phenomenal.
Going by the amount of stuff that came out, the craft room may well be a tardis – much bigger on the inside than it appears from outside!
A new donated corner shelf unit (thanks Anita) was erected and existing storage rejigged. Lots was thrown out and stacks reorganised and placed into new storage boxes. The smoke alarms in all the rooms were changed and we did a purge of dead pillows - and replaced them with new ones.
Lots of cleaning and organising was focussed on the kitchen to make it the best it can be! We steam-mopped the floor and fixed the pesky hole in the lino near the sink. We rationalised the under-bench saucepan and serving collection. Handwashing facilities and signage was upgraded so there is no doubt that everyone in the kitchen should be washing their hands often!
Recently the freezer chest has ceased to work so a new one was purchased. A steam mop for the kitchen has been put on the shopping list – the one we had a loan of did such a good job!
We measured the shrine room for new carpet and did preliminary inspections in the dining room with a view to lifting the old carpet squares and sanding the floor to expose the floorboards.
We discussed again the plan to remove the caravan, as it's under-utilised and a bit ugly. The work on the weekend really revealed what a beautitful space we could create in this part of the property. Visions for a stupa are taking shape as well as enhanced camping and contemplation spaces.
Its all ahead of us!
Signing-off and invitation
It was a pleasure to spend time with sangha members and people new to the sangha and see the kids having such fun together in the fresh air.
I think everyone who attended would be looking forward to the next Working With Nature Retreat – which by the way is the October Long Weekend!
You can check it out, and book, here: Working with Nature Retreat, 29 Sep- 2 Oct.
Currently the plans for that weekend include some big jobs. Moving earth around with a bulldozer to create a flat camping area, creating a fire trail for the RFS, and moving some piles of debris. Taking the carpet out of the shrine room to enable laying of a new carpet. Getting the garden ready for the growing season, and building a fire to burn wood (weather permitting). Besides the fact that we need help, it will be fun to be part of some big changes. So please make a plan to join us!
It’s a great opportunity not only to enjoy yourself but also to put some much needed effort into keeping Vijayaloka looking its best – for everyone. There’s so much opportunity to apply your skills so please – come along and add your ideas and energy to creating the best Vijayaloka possible!
Lastly.. the silky oak at Vijayaloka is looking straggly and a bit sad. A horticulturalist said it was nearing the end of its life. There is no plan yet but just so there's no surprises...it might have to go....
Gillian & Ratnajyoti