Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Ino's Life

It is of course always a little hard to re-adjust to the normal schedule after a fairly long break. For a month before Christmas I was awake well before the wake-up bell every morning; now I am being dragged from deep dreams by my alarm. People are still away on their vacations, so the morning schedule has been a bit sparsely attended, and my zazen somewhat drowsy.
Getting back into the flow of work has been a little tough too. After the day-long meeting on Tuesday, there was the usual staff meeting through the morning yesterday, and I had a lot of admin to take care of - setting up a chiden training, revising the doanryo, setting out the oryoki serving crews for the month, mailing out request for people to cover zazen instruction and the beginners' sittings, and tabulating the responses.
What did I do today? First of all I cleaned the ino's office from top to bottom - it hadn't been on the list of places to get cleaned before the New Year, and it had been a bit of a dumping ground during interim. Having done that, I then trashed the place again by unpacking all the incense from our order to Japan, which arrived right before Christmas. There were roughly two thousand boxes of incense, a mixture of short and long, and I wanted to make sure that they had all been delivered, and then I needed to divide them into five piles - for the temple supplies and bookstores here and at Green Gulch, and for a stock that we distribute to emerging sanghas. It made me glad that Kathy decided Tassajara has sufficient from previous years, and did not add to the total. It turned out that we were shorted about a hundred boxes of each, so now I need to figure out who I can approach to explain the situation in Japanese to the manufacturer - actually I have a good idea who I am going to ask, but I feel I need to be diplomatic in my approach. Having divvied up and re-boxed everything according to its destination, I set off in the Zenmobile to collect some candles.
When I was tenzo, I used to love my periodic visits to Economy Restaurant Supply, down at the bottom of Potrero Hill. It was the kind of place that I never would have gone near were it not for being tenzo, but I really enjoyed wandering round this huge warehouse full of familiar kitchen implements - it was easy to see where most of our supplies had come from over the years  - picking up new hot pads, salad spinners, glass plates, whatever was needed. The best part of it was the always impeccable customer service, which really lifted me each visit. Once or twice, I even went by bike, when I knew I was only picking up small things. The ino equivalent to this is Kaufer's Religious Supplies, another, more hushed, warehouse, way out at the back of Potrero Hill, in the midst of some very poorly paved roads. I have ventured out here by bike a few times, to pick up candles - most of the rest of the store is devoted to Christian vestments and other paraphernalia which we have no use for, but which are curiously fascinating to inspect. Today, I reluctantly took the car, not for convenience or speed, but because I rightly judged that two dozen 12" x 2" beeswax candles would be a bit of a shlep on the way back.
I did get time for a break and a bath before taking on the afternoon session in the zendo. After dinner, I managed to convey the essence of chidening - cleaning and taking care of the altars -  to four people out of the eight who need to be trained, before going back to the zendo to look after the Thursday evening group. Susan has been running this recently, but she has gone off to do the Green Gulch Intensive, and Diana, who had previously been on that seat, was unavailable. I tried emailing a few other practice leaders to see if they wanted to take on this opportunity for the rest of the month, and was saddened not to get a single response, not even a 'no, sorry'. It was nice to get to sit some more, and we had a small and quite new group of people, almost all of whom came upstairs afterwards for a cup of tea and a wide-ranging discussion that kept me on my toes, until I realised it was getting towards bedtime. Tomorrow is going to be a full day as well...

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