We've all just been on the mixed European Order weekend in Norfolk. There were over 400 Order Members, and the highlight was a short talk from Bhante who was there partly so we could all celebrate his 85th birthday together .
He had a large cake and card and we all sang a rousing happy birthday to him (the picture is of him cutting his cake with Dhammadinna). Three people rejoiced in his merits and spoke about what an effect he's had on their lives, which was both moving and at times very funny. One story was of a Dharmacharini many years ago asking him if he were alone on a desert island with a rabbit would he eat it, and he replied 'yes', so she asked if she was the only one on the island with him would he eat her and again he replied 'yes'. She then declared she was consequently going to get a book on self defence, which Bhante countered with the fact he was going to get one on cookery!! It was good to see him looking so well and enjoying himself.
We're starting to make some changes to Tiratanaloka, such as new energy efficient lights in the library, double glazing to help with insulation and heating costs, and a garden tool shed to create more space in the greenhouse. We've our annual work retreat in October, which has booked out, which is when the major painting work tends to be tackled, as well as changes to the garden. It's great to see the place being up-graded and kept in good condition for future generations of women, both those coming here for their ordination training and those women who end up living and working here. Unfortunately we've had to let go of the idea of a ground source heating pump as it turns out it won't work efficiently enough in this building, so Vajrasakhi is going to look at the possibility of solar panels to at least lessen our dependence on gas and oil heating.
We're planning on getting our programme for 2011 out next month, but just to let you know we do have an Ethics to Insight retreat on 15 - 29 January and a Transcendental Principle (level 2) retreat, for women who have already done it, on 18 - 27 February. We're taking bookings for these already. We'll take bookings for all other retreats once the programme is out. If you want to come on either of the two mentioned then book with the office.