The Theosophical Society in America

President's Diary

September - October 2004

Betty Bland

Rainy days and Mondays showed up regularly during spring at Olcott, but they did not get us down. In fact we were blessed with a glorious array of flowers and generally cooler weather. It was mid- to late June before we began to seriously consider our air conditioning strategies. We have been greatly helped by the recent installation of a new system for the auditorium, which is somewhat quieter, distributes air more evenly, and will provide better cooling for our long-suffering speakers who have had to endure the hot lights up on the stage.Arriving with the spring flowers were three baby horned owls.

Having tried their wings a little early, they alighted in the lower branches of a nearby tree and for several days were stuck there for all to admire. Although their fluffy baby feathers were still quite prominent, they were as large as good-sized housecats.

John Algeo, Maria Parisen, Tony Lysy, and Sue Wright were the stellar cast for our spring Olcott School, "Though I Speak with the Tongues of Men and of Angels." Our participants enjoyed each other’s company, the presentations, the food and fellowship, and the baby owls.

As soon as the Olcott School ended, I went with several of our staff to Joy Mills’s invitational workshop on the Mahatma Letters at Krotona School. The rather obscure "Cosmological Notes" came alive, both from Joy’s teaching and from the outstanding workshop presentations by participants who were there from a number of countries. During the weeklong session, Joy was honored by the planting of two ginkgo trees.

Immediately following the classes at Krotona, I traveled around southern California giving talks and visiting the Whittier and West Los Angeles Study Centers, as well as Long Beach Lodge. The loveliness of the jacaranda trees in their full, wisteria-like purple blooms was surpassed only by the beauty of the hospitality of the Bonnells and each of the groups. I was additionally blessed with a special opportunity to meet with Rob McOwen and Phyllis Ryan from the United Lodge of Theosophy, a sister organization. It is so helpful to put faces with those "faceless names" so that we can develop closer relationships and cooperative attitudes.

Then, at the end of May, my daughter and her husband convinced David and me to join them in the mountains for the Annual Bluegrass Festival in Clintwood, Virginia. We stayed about thirty minutes away in Coleville in a hundred-year-old cabin that had once been a one-room schoolhouse. The isolated area and curvy mountain roads took us back to a different era—not to mention the music by Dr. Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys. Gillian Welch with David Rawlings, and Patty Loveless were among the better-known names there. And the pickin’ was good.

June brought the Book Expo America (BEA) to Chicago, an assembly of most serious publishers. Our TPH staff gathered much useful information from the workshops and from networking with other publishers. The BEA generated lots of enthusiasm among our staff, who are working hard to transform TPH into a more effective competitor in the marketplace for books of our genre.

The Young Theosophists had a "garden party" workday coordinated by Kathy Maras, a part-time employee of the Quest Book Shop, to weed and mulch the Book Shop’s sadly neglected, but lovely, little garden. As is true of most such projects, it was far more work than we had anticipated. However, we did a good job and everyone has been enjoying the results of our labors. (I do not claim to be a Young Theosophist, but David and I have served as hosts for their monthly meetings at our house, and we try to encourage the development of the group.)

Also in June, we were pleased to have Joy Mills visiting at Olcott for a week of taping sessions with Steve Schweizer and Tony Lysy to prepare additional video clips for our e-Learning courses. They conducted the sessions in an interview format, addressing The Mahatma Letters and several other topics that will be used in the unfolding curriculum developed by the Education Department under the direction of David Bruce.

The end of June brought a surprise benefit for the Theosophical Society. The International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS), which was holding its annual conference in Chicago, was left with an emergency cancellation by its keynote speaker. Because TSA has some cross-connections with IANDS, I was invited to fill in. The audience was enthusiastic, and many people wanted more information about TSA and our upcoming Kern Lecture in September with Dr. Ian Stevenson. It was a great opportunity to make new friends.

Soon thereafter, David was unexpectedly called out of town by his mother’s health problems, so it has been more difficult to orchestrate the landscaping at our house. Yet, things have a way of resolving, and it is all looking great. Now if those rains that came in May would just make a timely reappearance, we should be in great shape—or at least our yard should be.

Olcott School