Neg Year’s volunteering: 2013-12-28

I arrived shortly after noon today.  The sky was heavily overcast, and the temperature mild, around 45F.
I paid proper respects, and then knocked at the front door.  Rev. Barrish was pleased to see me, as was another volunteer, Steve.  I was given a key to Kaikan, their guest lodge.  Rev. Barrish told me I have a room of my own, which is unexpected and pleasant.

The room is small – 8′ x 10’ish – and has a twin mattress, with bedding, a small dresser, a tiny desk, and a stool. Like all the rooms in Kaikan, it has sliding doors. (Ordinary ones like many American closets.) It also has tatami mats, which raise the floor a bit, are nice to walk on, are warmer than the laminate flooring, and have a pleasant, mildly grassy scent. First time I have been around them much. I like them. The whole room is nice.
I hiked up to Kaikan, where I met Jim, another volunteer.  I put my things in the room with my name on it, and went to talk to Jim.  We chatted while he fixed himself lunch, and Steve came in and mentioned there would be people in for ceremonies from 1:30pm until 3:30pm.
I went down and found out what needed doing.
I met Austin, another volunteer.  It only took me a little while to remember him from last year.
We moved firewood.
We repaired the low railings on the driveway.
We raked the drive to the shrine.
We cleaned up a giant pile of old branches and leaves.
At about 4:30pm, two things happened.  It got dark, and I ran out of steam.  We were done enough.
I’ll mention here the slightly odd feeling I get when working outside at the shrine.  Not only are the Kami watching, but there are visitors coming.  They are there for a spiritual moment, and here’s a guy with a rake or a saw.  It just feels odd.
I headed to Kaikan, and took a brief shower.  I had mud and twigs in my hair, and the shower was free.  Just as I was finished, Steve said folks were headed out to dinner, would I like to come?  Yes!  We piled into the Shrine’s van and drove off into a night that had become quite foggy.
We had dinner at the Lynnwood Whole Foods, of all places.  It was good, and nice to talk to the Barrishes, Steve, and Jim.
Back at Kaikan, we went inside to call it an evening.  I read, wrote this post, charged my hungry devices, and went to bed early.

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