6 August 2017

Ed Gulley And The Tin Man 2

Tin Man 2

Ed Gulley has one of those creative minds that is never still, and since he never threw anything away in his life, he has plenty of tools and parts and artifacts to work with. In the Spring we bought his first quite wonderful Tin Man creation, he sits proudly on our front lawn.

I know how competitive Ed is,  even about something he has made himself and sold, and he went right to work building a better Tin Man. He hays and milks all day, and sneaks off to his workshop every night, just like Dr. Frankenstein in his lab. No one ever knows what is going to come out of there.

I'm not prepared to say Ed's Tin Man 2 is better, but it is pretty damn good. Tin Man 2 graces the front lawn of Bejosh Farm, and he has gone to work building a Cowardly Lion and The Scarecrow, all inspired by the Wizard Of Oz, a movie that Ed loves. He plans to finish all three in time for the Washington County far, which opens in several weeks. It will be displayed in the Bejosh Farm cow exhibit in one of the cow barns.

I doubt anyone there has seen anything like it. I haven't.

It is my experience that when Ed says he is going to do something it will happen. I will definitely be at the County Fair. Ed plans to sell the Tin Man, the Cowardly Lion, and the Scarecrow after the fair. This could be his  great work, both as an artist and a farmer, all three works are made of farm parts and old farm tools and implements.

Check out his life and work at the Bejosh Farm Journal, his extremely popular blog.

Posted in General

Life In The Mansion: Connie’s Journey: A Hospital Visit

Connie's Journey

A week ago, Connie experienced back pain so severe, she was taken to the hospital by ambulance,  where she has been ever since. She is being treated for a fractured vertebrae and other complications. If she can eat well and walk again, she will go to a nursing home in Saratoga Springs for rehab and physical therapy.

She has experienced severe back pain for some weeks, and the hospital is trying to help. Red and Maria came with me.

We spent about 45 minutes visiting Connie, and she asks to be remembered to all of the people who have been writing her, and especially to the Mansion residents and staff. She misses them all and hopes she can return.

She doesn't know how long she will be there, and while she hopes to return to the Mansion, she doesn't know for sure if that will be possible right now. Neither do her doctors.

She agreed to be photographed and asked for news of the Mansion. She was very happy see Red, and brightened considerably, he maneuvered his way over some tubes and wires to get close to her. I asked Connie if there was anything she needed, and she said she would love to get some little Word Search Puzzle Books, it is difficult for her to focus much on anything else right now.

I asked if she would like to receive letters and she said she would, you can write to her or send her some of those books:  c/o Constance Martell, Saratoga Hospital,  Room 340, 211 Church Street, Saratoga, Springs, N.Y., 12866. She and Maria had a long talk about her health and outlook.

Connie has become important to me, to Maria, to Red. Red often sits by her feet at the Mansion, and Connie loves to talk with him and be with them, their spirits have connected with one another. Connie was one of the first residents of the Mansion I came to know  well, and people all over the country have sent her yarn and knitting tools and books, this has altered her time at the Mansion and, I think, her life.

We did a lot of good work with Connie, and plan to do more. We got an air conditioner for her room, a Kindle fire, antique knitting needles, books and magazines, patterns and sketches. Her room if filled with your gifts and kindness. She has gotten thousands of letters from all over the country and some of the world.

She and Maria have become good friends, and are planning a number of fiber projects to do together. We hope she heals, and comes back to the Mansion soon.

I do not know how long Connie will be in the hospital, or when she will be transferred to the Wesley Senior Rehabilitation Center, also in Saragota or what other treatments she might need. Now, she is in Saratoga Hospital. She has not yet been transferred to Wesley.

To stay at the Mansion, residents must be mobile and self-sufficient, it is an assisted care facility, not a nursing home.

I need to confine my work with Red and Gus to the residents of the Mansion, it is very important to me to stay focused on that, and as a general rule, I don't follow people who leave the Mansion.  That would be chaotic and exhausting and would cause my work to unravel. I think many of you understand that to do this work – or to love and know the people we meet in this work – requires balance and focus and boundaries.

We can fill in some holes, we can't change reality.

I will not be updating Connie's condition unless she asks me too, feel free to send her letters, photos and cards, and if possible, those little Word Search books, I know she would appreciate them. If she leaves the hospital I will relay that if she gives me permission.

That is entirely up to her.

The people in the Mansion are older and frail, otherwise they wouldn't be there. There are frequent trips to the hospital, sometimes to nursing homes. Sometimes people return, and sometimes they don't.

There is a constant movement of people in and out of the Mansion. Everyone deals with this in their own way, and I have learned to stay bounded and focused and to know what I can do and can't do. I tell myself to think small and stay small.  Hopefully, Connie will return to the Mansion soon. She says if it is God's will, it will happen. Good enough for me.

Godspeed Connie, and get well if you can. So many of us have come to love and admire your courage and honesty and creativity. It is always a great pleasure to help you and encourage you.

We will stay in touch with Connie and see her from time to time, if we can, and if it is appropriate.

Posted in General

Birthday Week: My Present

My Present

My birthday is Tuesday, two days away and Maria announced her birthday present for me, and it is a very sweet one, it makes me very happy. She's taking me to the Saratoga Raceway on Tuesday, we'll have  lunch, and bet on some races.

Some of you know that  racetracks were a critical element in my youth and development, I spent several years earning a living betting on the horses, up and down the coast from Saratoga to Hialeah. I went to some beautiful tracks and some dumpy ones and learned how to bet intelligently and wisely.

I didn't get rich, but I did all right, which in that line of work, is great. I love the rituals of the track. I'll get the racing Telegraph today and Monday and study it, then buy some tout sheets at the track and after lunch, I'll spend an hour getting prepared, reading my research, going to the Paddock to eyeball the horses and see who looks ready to run and win.

Maria has gotten into this, and last time, she won three races in a row. She does the research but mostly follows her gut. The Saratoga track still has a lot of its style and glamour, they haven't gotten rid of all of it yet. So I'm very excited, this is the perfect birthday gift for me, I'm going online today to start reading up on the horses.

It's the perfect birthday present for me, I love racetracks and I love placing smart bets. I like being lucky too.

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A Farm Dog, A Circus Dog?

A Circus Dog?

I was determined from the first to let Gus be a dog, not a stuffed animal, and so brought him out daily into the pasture. Apart from getting run over by a rampaging flock of sheep, he has had a fine time out there, he loves the donkeys, especially Fanny, who seems to love him back.

Bedlam Farm aspires to be a Peaceable Kingdom, and we are lucky to have animals who are good to one another. This morning, on one of her creative impulses, Maria picked Gus up and put him on Fanny's back while she graced. Gus was quite comfortable up on Fanny's back, and so was she. He sat up there like the King of the Hill and surveyed his kingdom, then we took him off, although his balance is quite good.

I love this on many levels. He reminds me a bit of the famous small dog, a Chihuahua named Knucklehead who was part of the act of Lou Jacobs, RIngling Bros. iconic and much loved star clown for many years. Knucklhead rode around in a tiny cart and sometimes rode on the backs of circus animals.

A whole new show for our Open House this October, now people can see Gus riding on Lulu. When I fire wrote this, I meant it as a joke. Now, I'm not so sure.

Gus is already a great farm dog, but there are new horizons to conquer.

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The RISSE Soccer Team Goes To See Spiderman

The RISSE Soccer Team Goes To Spiderman

I had this impulse two weeks ago to treat the RISSE soccer team to go and see the new Spiderman. They have been working hard and practicing hard, and winning some games.

The megaplexes close to where they live are not cheap, they never get to see movies in theaters. I did some research, checked out the price and gave a check for all of it to RISSE, the refugee and immigrant support center, so it  could be an official activity and they could use the big RISSE van to get there.

I didn't feel comfortable asking people for money for that, so I decided to give this gift myself. I like to contribute also, not just use other people's money.  I think this turned out to be the perfect gift, a morale booster but also an introduction to a part of American culture that I personally love – movies on a big screen.

I was a bit surprised myself at what it costs to send 14 kids to the movies and get them drinks and popcorn. I don't think even the Army of Good could pay for a trip to Yankee Stadium for the soccer team, one of my fantasies. Maybe I'll check it out.

It was worth it,  Ali, (Ahmad Abdullah Mohammed), who drove them and accompanied them, said they love the movie and loved the popcorn too. These are really great kids, and it is such a pleasure to know them and see their profound connection to Ali and to one another.

Refugees often feel isolated and alienated in a new country, all of their social and cultural references are gone. They turn to one another for support and connection and community until they acclimate and enter the mainstream. These people are important to one another, and Ali has done a heroic job of keeping them together, and out of trouble, and on a solid path to assimilation.

The kids often tell me they love Ali, they can't imagine life without him. Last week, I gave $900 to RISSE, this money comes from many of you as well as me for new soccer uniforms, sound great and will have the letters "Bedlam Farm Warriors" (their choice of name, over my objections) on the front and "RISSE" on the back.

They are trying to get an image of Red on the jerseys as well. Thanks for your help, it felt so good to think of the soccer team at the movies, seeing Spiderman, which I saw a couple of weeks ago and liked a lot. Can't wait to talk to them about it. They are all coming to the farm again in a few weeks.

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