Monday, January 25, 2010

The weekend was full, to say the least. Lucy and I were out the door early on Saturday so that she could be at her first chess tournament of the year. It was held at the Spence School, a very fancy, private, all-girls school on the Upper East Side. As her coach says, it is a very civilized tournament. A nice way to get back into the craziness of chess tournaments. Lucy came in 7th in her division (she lost her tie-breaker game or she would have been 4th - not exactly sure how that all worked out but it did). Congratulations Lucy!

I had only a little time to absorb the white glove world of the Spence School, however, because I had to get myself to Wave Hill for a Saturday of spinning, carding and talking. It was great. Two experienced spinners showed up - one with her wheel - and they dived right in. I have both my wheels there so we had three wheels going at one point. Then everyone got into carding and I have a stack of batts to spin up tomorrow. Everyone was learning and busy and having a great time. Even Helen showed up. If some natural disaster had struck Wave Hill at that moment, the knitting and spinning world would have been much the poorer.

Here are a few of the skeins that walked out the door:

Some indigo dyed wool and corn fibre blended with some natural grey wool as well as some cochineal and orange peel dyed merino, along with some odds and ends.
Mostly cochineal and orange peel dyed wools - merino and mohair.

Mostly cochineal with some of the natural grey wool.

This one was a real crowd pleaser for all its subtleties. It is a blend of white and orange peel dyed merino and tea dyed mohair. Lovely!

This was our "Valentine" skein - lots of cochineal dyed merino blended with sari silk and white merino. I didn't spin this one - it was carded and spun by one of the visiting experts whose name I think is Caroline. IN any case, she goes by Miucat on ravelry. Look her up!

It was such fun. And I am enjoying how the art staff are getting into the act - teaching people to card and spindle spin and talking to people about the dyeing process. There is something about this whole thing that touches a nerve for many people and therein lies the art.

Yet even then I could not spend a lot of time reflecting on human nature and its affinity for wool. I got into our car and drove from Wave Hill up to the Zen Mountain Monastery, where I had an appointment on Sunday to meet with their Guardian Council. To say that Dan has had a field day with this name is an understatement. For weeks he has been going around the house saying "The Guardian Council" in his best sci-fi, alien leader voice. No worries about feeling self-important in our household.

This meeting was an important and (almost) last step in officially becoming a student of the Mountains and Rivers Order and officially asking Shugen Sensei to be my teacher. They have deliberately set up "barrier gates" for people so that those wanting to become students really have to work out quite a bit before committing. At first glance it might seem overly fussy or even elitist but in reality it is quite a good thing. It is a mutual relationship of giving and receiving and it is smart to take steps to ensure that everyone is ready for it.

Meeting the Guardian Council was rather intimidating, and I think it is supposed to be. They asked some very basic but very big questions such as "why do you practice Zen?" and I had to answer as articulately as I could without fainting or crying or worse. I have no idea how long we spoke, probably only about 10 minutes, but in the end I passed through the gate and was welcomed as a student.

It was a moment of huge relief and happiness for me. Now I will have to spend a day sitting zazen, which is called Tangaryo, and then enter the Zendo and ask the Sangha for support of my practice. I have been present as a sangha member for this and it is quite moving.

Then it was back in the car and a slightly icy ride home, where Dan had purchased celebratory cupcakes and we all cheered for a great weekend.


island sweet said...

congratulations robyn!!!

OfTroy said...

Cup cakes! any endeavor that includes cup cakes has got to be special!

Perhaps you could reflect for a while on synaesthetics of sweet foods and other pleasurable activities! Is enlightenment, (or doing well at chess, or getting older)enough? or does it require a tangible sweet reward?
(and are the cupcakes the carrot (encouraging us forward) or the stick?

Oh wait, they can't be the stick!