By Margie Sampson
Before I was on staff at BMIMC, I used to hear ‘Winter Recess’ and think of it as a cosy time, maybe staff roasting chestnuts around an open fire, blankets, pink cheeks- a time for contemplation and regrouping, while outside, the grounds were still and white with frost.
Well, the BMIMC grounds ARE still and white with frost, but otherwise the centre has been a hive of activity over this winter break. After the one month retreat with Sayadaw U Vivekananda came to a close, the house was stripped of all of its furnishings preparatory to the carpet being pulled up. Our Vesak Appeal this year raised money to re-carpet Sasana House, where the carpet was becoming threadbare in high traffic areas and thoroughly munched by carpet beetles in the teacher’s sunroom. The original carpet was laid in the late 1980s/ early 1990s (by our collective reckoning), and had served well over 20 + years. Daniel put in a super effort with Bugs to move all the furniture out and then pull up the carpet exposing some lovely floorboards, which, unfortunately due to the cold, will have to stay hidden. A beautiful pure wool new Berber carpet was laid ( it matches the old one in quality, so we know it will last just as long!) with extra thick underlay for better insulation and reduced heating costs. Yogis mindfully walking through the house now will note how very bouncy it is…. ‘noting springy, noting woolly….’…. Moving all of the furniture, the office and the linen cupboard also gave us an excellent opportunity for some spring…(well, mid-winter) cleaning and re-organising. Funds kindly donated for Vesak have covered half the cost thus far, with the rest coming from the Centre’s building fund from previous Yogi donations. Saddhu Saddhu Saddhu.
Other fun winter activities have been the continuing re-stumping of the staff verandah, which on inspection had been laid down with no foundations on bushrocks, and had rotting crossbeams and had dropped so much so that we could see daylight peeking under the wall in verandah room 1! Daniel, our wonder handyman and jack-of-all-trades has put in new brick foundations, dug proper drainage and replaced some of the floor timbers. The wall along the teacher’s sun-room has had damp issues for a long time, so Daniel & Bugs have also dug a trench alongside that wall, laid geo-textile and filled the trench with gravel, so water will flow away from the wall and down under the house.
It’s been a messy, clay-ey job in quite low temperatures, slowed by inclement weather – however, the winter recess works perfectly for infrastructure projects like these before we ramp up again for the retreat ‘season’ in the second half of the year.
With grateful thanks to our hard workers onsite and the generosity of BMIMC donors.
Margie Sampson is the BMIMC Resident Centre Manager