In December 1997 there was a terrible flood in Laguna Canyon and Kali Mandir was hit by four feet of mud and water. Fortunately, the day before, Rose had insisted on having all the doors boarded up, so only a minimal amount entered the house. Still, Usha needed to evacuate to higher ground, and as she stood across the street, watching the devastation, she felt terrible for having brought Ma to such a dangerous place. At that very moment, she noticed something rise up from the flood waters, right at her feet. It was a rudraksha mala. Taking it as a sign from Ma, she tossed into the flood waters the thoughts of moving and started japam with this mala. On two other occasions, when discussion of moving came up, immediately a sign appeared, seeming to indicate that she should stay: once, a fossilized Lakshmi conch came out of the earth in Ma’s garden; another time, a snake came up to a holy tree in the garden and stopped at a picture of Kali and Sri Ramakrishna that sat at the base of the tree. The snake then coiled itself around the picture and remained poised over it in a classic cobra pose. When Swami Bhajanananda graduated from UC Berkeley, he moved into a tent under this tree, which is now the location of the outdoor Shiva Lingam under the Manasa Devi tree.
Shortly after the annual Kali Puja festival in 2001, Rose came by one Saturday and gave Usha a one-week ultimatum: come up with $500,000 to purchase the house, or she would evict her and put the house up for sale for $650,000. No matter how the figures were massaged, only half the down payment was available. Stressful days passed. Then a Tantric holy man showed up at Kali Mandir on Thursday morning after Ma’s daily puja. “I heard of your predicament,” he said. “I know a mantra. When I chant it, Ma comes and fixes the problem.” He sat down with the harmonium and started to chant in a tune both melodic and haunting. Everything was forgotten. Tears of joy rolled down the cheeks. On Friday—one day before the deadline—a devotee called and pledged the remainder of the down payment. Ma Kali always comes through, but sometimes She makes us wait until the last moment before She saves us.