Ithaca Zen Center
Last April, when I visited Susan Heldfond
and Theo Saunders in Los Angeles, his daughter, Laria,
came by one day with her wedding gown and a close friend
who would be her bridesmaid in October. Catherine Shaddix
teaches yoga at the Ithaca Zen Center. She bought a copy
of my book, and she invited me to visit the Center on my
way to the East Coast. David and Marcia Radin, the owners
of the Center, had assented by email that we were welcome.
August 22, 2000. Bernie and I bid
farewell to the Ho Hum Motel, but not before breakfasting
at the picnic tables on the lawn in front to the sound of
hundreds of tree frogs.
The Ho Hum Motel in Ashtabula, Ohio
On our way out of town, a collection of
horse-drawn carriages demanded that Bernie turn the van
around and investigate. "I've been in the antique
business all my life, and I never see these for sale!"
she exclaimed, dancing around them in wonder.
Kathy and her grandson, Warren, came
out of the house to shmooze.
Carriages are plentiful in these parts because the Amish
still use them.
Kathy also had a couple of old hand plows and an
assortment of metal wheels.
Ashtabula lies fifteen miles west of
the Pennsylvania state line, and Pennsylvania is only
forty miles across at Lake Erie. Just after passing the
town of Erie, we turned south
on Highway 17, and passed through the rolling hills of
northwestern New York state.
We passed Lake Chautauqua...
...at the south end of which lies
Jamestown, whose downtown area
contained some well-preserved Victorian buildings, but
itself most on being the birthplace of Lucille Ball. We
noticed a theatre
named in her honor, and even Jo Ann's Cafe, where we
displayed a portrait of her on the wall above the
The Allegeny River parallels Highway 17
between Jamestown and Corning,
a town named for the glass cookware manufacturer
I wish we'd had time to stop for the Corning Museum of
I am glad we did not miss a single moment of daylight we
enjoyed at the Zen Center.
The mail box on Lieb Road of the Ithaca
First view of the Center from the
Catherine introduced us to her partner,
Larry Gallagher, a long time Zen
practicioner, gifted flautist, guitarist, singer, cook
and gardener blessed with a
classical education. They live at the Center as the only
full time staff members.
We happily unloaded our various effects
into one of the cabins used by
participants in the the retreats, one of which will begin
The Center specialized in retreats combining twice daily
Zen meditation with
detoxification using a diet of raw foods, plus colonics,
movement, yoga, and massage.
Marcia Radin's experience at Dr. Ann
Wigmore's healing center
inspired her to offer raw food cleansing programs in
addition to the
Zen practices taught by her husband, David, at the Center.
Marcia also teaches cognitive kinesiology, "a series
of exercises that enable
a person to safely explore the range of motion of the
The retreats also offer classes in raw food preparation,
natural beauty care, and preventative medicine.
Serge Bluds (in black), a documentary
film maker recently moved to Ithaca from
New York City, was visiting his buddy, David Radin, when
we arrived. Serge says
he has attended a retreat, but "is not cured yet."
The lot of us sat outdoors and
exchanged profound, joyous and bizarre stories until
Main house and some of the guest cabins
View of the pond from the wood heated
We are expected to jump in when hot from the sauna.
When Bernie looked dubious at this information,
Catherine said "You can't miss that part--it's the
A flower covered island in the pond,
accessable by curved wooden bridge.
A lotus pond in the Center's garden
The neatly tended and abundant organic
garden provides vegetables
and herbs for retreats, for residents, and for friends in
Serge had come by for a renewal of his zucchini supply.
Onions drying on a screen door
Catherine gathers produce for tonight's
We all found out how extremely well Larry cooks that
The French lentil/ginger/chipotle soup amazed me.
I was even more surprised to hear him play jazz chord
and sing wonderful standards after dinner. Catherine and
sang along, and I shared a few pieces of my own.
Behold the evening's green salad, made
completely of Zen garden produce,
resplendant with nasturtium blossoms, and accompanied by
containing fresh herbs, olive oil, garlic, and balsamic