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“Your real duty is to go away from the community to find your bliss.” – Joseph Campbell
27 June 2016

Shorn!

By: Jon Katz
Shorn!

Shorn!

Our sheep were much relieved to be shorn this weekend at the Open House, they were carrying a lot of wool around in the heat.  Jim McRae came to the farm from Rutland and gave a great talk about the art of shearing. Red was present for the shearing, but the sheep are still a bit confused. When they are shorn, they often don't recognized one another and do a lot of talking until they get re-acquainted.

Posted in General
26 June 2016

Thank You. Another Open House. On To October

By: Jon Katz
On To October

On To October

Our ninth Open House ended today, it was very special to us, we thought it was, as much as any Open House, precisely what we intended and hoped for – a sharing of our lives, a celebration of our work, a festival of encouragement for the idea of creativity.

Sundays are always the quietest days of our Open Houses, and we relish the quiet and intimacy and chance to talk to people. The morning began quietly, I wasn't sure anyone would come, but built up steadily through the afternoon. I believe the weekend drew between six and seven hundred people.

Maria sold a lot of art,  hers and others. The artists came and talked to people, the dogs herded sheep (Fate in her unique way), the donkeys and pony preemed for visitors and accepted many carrots. I am tired and soon will go to sleep,I want to write more about the Open House tomorrow.

Soon, we will begin planning for our October Open House, to be held on Columbus Day Weekend. We have to think about a theme for that weekend, that is traditionally the biggest and busiest. We experienced a  great deal of love, affirmation and support this weekend, it left both of us a little stunned, yet exhilarated. I have to think about it a bit.

I am grateful to the people who came and who followed the Open  House online. I so appreciate the many good words and thoughts. People generously donated to donation box we put out, we will cover all of the costs of hosting the Open House.

Maria did an amazing job selecting and curating the art at the farm, and at our Open Houses, people still very much want to hear poetry read. We obliged. More tomorrow, my fingers are going to sleep.

Posted in General

Portrait, Ron Dotson: Loving A Once A Year Friend

By: Jon Katz
The Once-A-Year Friend

The Once-A-Year Friend

Later in life, I believe I am finally able and open to making real friends. Friends I love and trust and value. Friends who are empathetic and value loyalty. Friends that are nourishing and affirming.

I know the barest outlines of Ron Dotson's life, but he is very important to me. I see him once a year, and sometimes not even that. He is not much into e-mailing or texting. I know he is a Vietnam Vet, a marine grievously injured in that  war. I know that after the war he devoted his life to caring for people and helping them, he is an elder, part of a church ministry in Ohio, he helps a lot of people.

Last year, he came up to Cambridge to camp out near Bedlam Farm with his son, I haven't seen or heard from his since until he showed up Saturday at the Open House. He is shy and eager to not be intrusive. He never is or could be.

Ron has a gentleness and compassion about him, he is easy to trust and to talk to, a good listener.

Although we rarely speak or see one another, I feel especially close to him, as if he were a brother. And yet we are very different in many ways, or so I assume. Friendship is curious that way, sometimes you never really know what connects one person to another. Faith is like that also, I am drawn to faith, and Ron is imbued with faith.

Ron is a highly intelligent and intuitive, I get the sense he grasps me well, the good and the bad, and accepts me fully. Perhaps that is part of his ministry. This week, we will do what we always do and have lunch at the Round House. Then he will disappear  for another year, off to do good.

He never complains or speaks in anger and judgment. He seems to be all about good. I know that Ron is an elder in the Hope Church outside of Cincinnati:

"We are a gathering of sinners rescued by God’s PURSUING LOVE," says the church website, " growing to love God, one another, and anyone God sends across our path! We are a work in progress. So join us, grow with us, and help us become all that God intends!"

It's odd, for a man born Jewish turned Quaker, now somewhat lapsed in both faiths, to connect with a sinner, although I am surely one, but Ron lives his Christian faith, he doesn't just talk it as so many hypocrites do.  He is always there for people, he knows what it means to suffer, something so many of our political leaders have forgotten how to do.

If I were ever in trouble, he is one of the very first person I would reach out to.  And he would come. I am sorry to say I have had many friends for whom that is not the case. Ron has seen a lot of things human beings should not have to see.

  Some friendships, I am learning, are not about how often one sees each other and talks. They are spiritual, mystical,  they are about connect, a mystical and indefinable thing. If you are open to them, they will occur, I think. I have had much trouble in my life making friends and trusting friends, that is beginning to change.
I think Ron Dotson may be a kind of angel, risen from pain and conflict to spread love and comfort. I am ready to give and accept both.
Posted in General

Portrait: Helen Golden, A Friend

By: Jon Katz
Helen Golden

Helen Golden

I am very fond of Helen Golden, even though I know very little about here. One day I hope to sit down with her and learn more. She lives in New Jersey, she had read most of my books and almost all of my blog, so she knows much about my life and accepts it, the good and the bad.

I sense she has had a lot of experience with life, good and bad, she seems sensitive and  especially loving to me. She comes to every Open House, and sometimes I run into her at the Round House Cafe. She makes it a point not to speak to me – she would say "bother me" – unless I invite her to come and talk.

I tell her that we  have moved past that, Helen is now like family, we hug each other and are always glad to see one another. When she comes to the farm, she loves to see the donkeys and watch the dogs, and she says there is something about the place that is calming and uplifting to her. She says the nicest thing about my blog, and also about Maria and her blog and her art.

My guess is she is a working class person who has worked hard all of her life and still does. As I said, even though we see one another several times a year, and it is always a pleasure, I know nothing concrete about her. We have never had the time to really talk to one another, Open Houses are frantic and filled with people and activity. I tend to like the Open Houses in June because there is more time to talk to people.

She always comes up with a friend, they spend the day and sometimes stay over at a local B& B. I have the sense that she is not married, and sometimes, I think I see some sadness in her eyes.

A writer's life is curious, because a lot of people know something about me, but I never feel I know a lot about them. There is never enough time or space to do that. I think Bedlam Farm is important to Helen,  perhaps in ways I do not yet fully understand.

People often assume I am too busy to want to know about their lives, but I always want to know about their lives. Helen Golden is important, I wanted to give her a signed copy of "Dancing Dogs," and Maria wanted to give her a potholder. She was shocked.

It was our way of thanking and acknowledging her, because although she may not know it, she is as important to us as we may be to her.

Posted in General

Portrait: Kelly Nolan At The Bog

By: Jon Katz
Kelly Nolan At The Bog

Kelly Nolan At The Bog

It was quiet at the Bog Sunday night, a good place to decompress with friends after the Open House, an almost perfect weekend celebrating our lives, and the art of rural life. Kelly actually had time to chat – she has a new dog about to give birth to eight puppies. We asked her how she manages to take such good care of the restaurant, filled with people at tables, at the bar, and keep her grace and smile.

She said she puts her head down, moves from table to kitchen to bar and looks up once in awhile to ask "are they all still here?" It all works out. A good lesson for life, I think. Kelly is inspiring me to do more portraits, she is my favorite photographic subject. For the first time, I want to do a show in Cambridge of portraits of people in my town, I want to call it "Portraits Of Cambridge."

Posted in General