28 June

Retreat: Red’s Magic

by Jon Katz
Red’s Magic

Red spreads his magic wherever he goes, he has adopted these kids, refugees from RISSE, the refugee and immigrant center in Albany. They are on a two-and-a-half day retreat at the Pompanuck Farm Institute, made possible by the Army Of Good. They love Red, look for him, touch him and sit with him.

Many of these children have never seen a dog, or left their dogs behind. They are all animal lovers. We left Gus and Fate home tonight, didn’t wish to wear them out. We are all returning in the morning.

28 June

Music Session For the Refugee Kids Retreat (Loud). Thursday, Last Day.

by Jon Katz
It was Loud

Gordon McQuerry, a local musician, and his friend Justin and the refugee kids rocked the pastoral Pompanuck Farm Retreat today, Gordon and a friend came to teach music and sound, he brought a full music studio with him, and they sand and drummed (he set up a drumming circle, paradise for teenage kids).

Gordon was wonderful with these kids, so was Justin, they ended up having lunch with us and coming back in the evening to oversee a game of Capture The Flag.

He thought them some notes,  how to use a microphone, how to get the most out of a drum. He gave them ideas about careers in music and they all sang some rap and rock and roll.

These children were going all day – hiking, swimming, playing soccer, tag, singing. Mandy Meyer-hill , a massage therapist and healer in my town, came by to show them muscle-stretching exercises and breathing to help with stress.

I don’t know how anybody was standing. I am barely standing.

When we left a fine pizza dinner at Pompanuck around 9, the kids were still going. Some other teachers came to help Ali, and he got to take a nap. I’ll be honest, I couldn’t make it through another fireside story session. I’m going in the morning – this is their last day – and will do a story-telling workshop if there’s time.

I loved having my community behind me for this retreat, they really came out in support of the kids.

I’ve set up a Children’s Refugee Fund to help these children acclimate to America, to get some tutoring if they need it, to take one day trips to the beach and parks in the summer, to get some spiffy soccer uniforms, to celebrate birthdays and special event so they can stay together in their very powerful and supportive community.

I’m going to try to negotiate an arrangement with Pompanuck for the children to come on Saturdays three or for times this summer – just for the day. We’ll see what happens.

They love this place, I can see it, they feel free and safe there, hour by hour, I see them opening up. Tonight, after dinner, I told stories of my farm and dogs for a half-hour or so, I am connecting with these kids, they are open and loving and bright. It took a while.

I’ve opened a special bank account to collect donations for these children, so I can separate them from my stuff and account for all of the money.I’m calling the account the Children’s Refugee Fund, and I hope the Army Of Good takes to it, because this is a good and worthy cause. A little bit of money goes a long way with them.

If you wish to donate to my project, you contribute by writing to my post office box, Jon Katz, P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. You can also contribute via Paypal, Friends and Family, my ID is jon@bedlamfarm.com.

Thanks. More later. I am struggling to keep from nodding off. Tomorrow is the last day of the retreat, the kids will be  leaving after lunch and clean-up and a final circle. I miss them already. The dogs will certainly miss them.

28 June

Gus’s Travels: A First Week Unlike Any Other

by Jon Katz
Gus’s Travels

Gus has had a first week unlike any other first  week. He has been all over time, been hugged by hundreds of people, ran around the refugee retreat at Pompanuck until he crawled into his crate for rest. He seems to be housebroken – two small accidents during the week (due to our distractions), he rides in the car, runs into his crate, sleeps through the night, has not caused a minute of sleeplessness, does not complain when left alone.

Gus has been socialized beyond the experience of any dog I have ever had or known, and has begun his work as a therapy dog at the Mansion Assisted Care Facility, where he has made two very joyous visits.

He adores Red and follows him around, he and Fate are still wary of one another – Fate steals his toys and keeps hers guarded under the dining room table. Red is a generous spirit, Fate not so much.

We took him to the retreat with a bunch of hyper-active teenagers the last few days and he had a  blast running around them, going over to a towel to sleep when he was tired. He is a curious and loving spirit, and we are delighted to have him. The vet say she is in perfect health and asks that we keep him away from other dogs and most people for another five or six weeks. She admits he will not be kept away from people, but we are keeping him away from other dogs.

I’ve been compiling some training tips I want to share with people, and I’ll do that later this week, once the retreat is over. Gus is a rock star on the Internet, for sure. I am focusing my next book on him, it will be called: “Gus And The Small And Big Lessons Of Bedlam Farm.”

28 June

My Anniversary Gift: Kali-Ma, A Goddess I Love

by Jon Katz
Kali-Ma

Kali-Ma is one of the most popular Hindu goddesses in Kolkata, India, where Maria visited earlier this year.

She is the goddess of creation, preservation and destruction. She is perhaps the most complex of goddesses, feared by many for her bloodthirsty rampages (see the former lover’s heads, which hang around her neck.) She has many meanings.

She is the archetype of the birth-death spirit, the Gods intervened as she was devouring her consort’s entrails and she became a Mother and Protector figure. I admit I find her both admirable and disturbing and erotic, which says something about me, I suppose.

Kali-Ma is known as Mother-Kali in India, she is the shatterer of illusions, she represents to me the great dichotomy of all humanity, we are capable of such good, and such evil, both seem to reside in all of us. So many people are willing to hate, so many people are eager to do good, given the chance.

Even though Kali-Ma went on murderous rampages, she ended in a good place, she is protector of human beings, and this statue Maria bought me for our seventh wedding anniversary just arrived. I’m putting it on my desk next to my muse. Kali is seen alternately as the life-giver, preserver and destroyer.

She seems to embody the tortured schizophrenia of the human condition. I am happy to have her on my desk. She will inspire me and perhaps devour me if I don’t get to work on my book.

28 June

Angioo

by Jon Katz
A Proud Refugee Spirit

Angioo is a fiercely individualistic refugee from Southeast Asai, he wears red robes and hoods, he stands out. I challenged him to thumb wrestle, and he tickled me in the armpit and made me lose. He walked past me at dusk on the way to the campfire, I thought he had a great presence.

He is a spirit child, it is a pleasure to know him. I’m off to the retreat now, I will keep you posted.

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