After a rollicking good time with the John Dough Boys, I went up to Wolf Creek to spend time with my friend Bill, aka William Kotke. Bill is also an author who has done the book tour thing before, so he had lots of good pointers on how to book venues and set up my schedule. I spent two nights up at his place out in the woods, and we enjoyed some good conversation as we sat by the wood stove and looked out at the field and forest beyond, green with winter rains. The quail frequently came out of their blackberry bush nests and pecked the ground for seeds that Bill leaves out for them, and the hummingbirds were also active, having recently made their way back up from the south.
The afternoon that I arrived, Bill put on a huge spread for lunch, and our friend Richard came over, bringing his new lady friend Priscilla. We were also joined by another one of Bill’s friends, Marcia, whom I had never met, though I knew her daughter Heidi from back in my days living in Glendale. It was a wonderful day, and the food was excellent. After the meal, we took a tour of the garden, which was doing quite well in the early spring. Not a whole lot of fruits, but plenty of herbs, greens, and onions.
It was also good to see Pelos, an old friend from Gateway who now lives with Richard. Pelos is a German Shepard Akido mix, who was first brought up to us by our friend Kodiak, who moved to China with his wife and couldn't take the old fella along. So he moved in with us at Gateway, where he became something of a mascot of our localization group. Such a good natured dog, he was, who always loved to go running up the hill with us whenever we took the pug out, to check on the ganja grow or cut firewood. When Jerry died, Richard took Pelos out to his farm, and Pelos is thriving there with him, happy to go along whenever Richard goes anywhere.
On my second day in town, we had a full schedule of social calls. First, we went to breakfast with our friends Victoria and Karen, whom I hadn’t seen in some time, since before I left Oregon last year. It was great catching up with them. Afterwards we first visited our fiend Carol, who now lives in Wolf Creek. She was doing well, and she asked me when the sequel to The Branderly Agenda (one of my books) will be coming out. I didn’t even know she had read it. I’ve got the sequel about halfway done, though I’ve been working on other projectsand haven’t gotten into that one lately. In truth, I’ve got about three books which are not too far from being done, which I plan to publish in the next few years, but currently I have no time. It was good seeing Carol, and her dog Sally, though we couldn’t stay long.
We were off to Glendale next, to see Cass, who is quite the character. The story of his work in Glendale is epic, worth a book unto itself. He’s had a long running battle with the Glendale City Council, though lately that drama has been overshadowed by a new development. Some gangsters from LA have recently moved to Glendale, causing all sorts of commotion, selling crack or meth, roughing up sixteen year old girls (in pubic) who owe them money, and luring married women away from their families by getting them hooked on drugs.
Needless to say, these fellas aren’t popular with the locals, and there have already been several incidents of armed confrontations. (No bodies yet, but it’s only a matter of time.) Cass said he was drawn into the conflict when some girl who is affiliated with the new gang in town yelled out that he grabbed her butt while they were in a crowd. Cass refuted it, of course, but this made him an enemy of the leader of this gang, and now a bunch of vatos go cruising by the old motel that he runs regularly, open carrying and looking menacing.
Poor Cass, peaceful hippie though he is, has to be armed now whenever he goes out. He showed us an old Volvo of his that was sabotaged so that it caught fire while he was driving it. We used to live in Glendale, and my wife Laura didn’t even like it then. I’m sure thankful that we’re not there to be witnessing all of this.
We also stopped in to see Rajan, who lived up at Gateway Gardens for a time while I was working there. She was doing quite well. Her place was like a little sanctuary in the midst of all the Glendale madness, with art, tapestries, and other colorful decorations. She is now running the thrift store that Cass owns, and she said she’s been getting into making art again. She’s a talented artist, and I was blown away by her latest pencil sketch, which looked like a photograph. Wish I had taken a picture of it!
Next stop was Gateway Gardens, which is now Mahatma's (Jerry’s grandson) house. Only Mahatma wasn’t around. We talked briefly with some of the other folks living up there, but Bill didn’t want to get out, having been bitten by a pit bull that lives there the last time he visited.
Then we went to visit Dan and Kristen, who live right down the hill, but Dan was the only one home. It was good catching up with him. They have a really nice place, literally one house down from Jerry’s old place, though they aren’t on great terms with the new residents up at Gateway. First of all, Kristen’s ex-husband is living in the barn there, and secondly, somebody up there shot their dog when he went up to visit. Thankfully, he lived.
After seeing Dan, we went out to Azalea to see if we could track down Andre, Lenny, or Peter. They all live at Peter's place, on some acreage on Cow Creek, a beautiful spot with tons of potential, though too few hands available to work it. Things looked about the same as the last time I visited, though quieter, with everybody gone. At first we thought no one was around, but eventually Peter came out and we chatted with him a while. It was a nice time.
I stayed one more night with Bill, and then the next day we headed in to Ashland, where we hoped to hit up the Jackson Wellsprings (hot springs), but we got too late of a start, so we went to eat at the co-op instead. I had a meeting to attend early that afternoon, so Bill dropped me off there and we said goodbye.
I am a board member for the Southern Oregon Permaculture Institute, a recently created non-profit affiliated with Chuck Burr, an Ashland area permaculture teacher who wanted to focus on other things, so he created a non-profit to continue running his teaching program. I had arranged to stay next with Larry Korn, who is also on the board, and who lives in Ashland. He was kind enough to offer me a room in his home, so I just dropped off all my stuff in his car before the meeting. Also at the meeting was Karen, one of my permaculture teachers, and Gene, who I met during my Permaculture Design Certification class, back in 2010. The meeting was good, though it seemed like we didn’t have enough time to cover everything. SOPI will be doing a PDC class this summer, so we discussed that, along with other plans for the newly established institution. Lots of potential, and thinking about all that we could do with a permaculture non-profit got me thinking about living in Southern Oregon again, though it will be at least a few years before that’s a possibility again.
I realized recently that I left my readers hanging, regarding the situation with my family down in Mexico. I left them down there in Puerto Vallarta during my tour, and the last I mentioned it, they still had not found a place to live. Fortunately, that was all settled, shortly after I got back to the States. They were staying in a vacation rental home we found on Airbnb when I left, and then Laura made a deal with the owner for them to stay for the next three months. She liked the location and the price was right, so we went for it. The girls are having a good time down there, making friends and connecting with the community there, so that’s a blessing. I sure miss them, though I am also having a good time, romping around with great agility, being alone.
I had a wonderful stay in Ashland at Larry’s house, which will have to wait for the next article. I’m about to be visiting new cities every day, as soon as my tour officially begins. So stay tuned for much more! I’ll be visiting ecovillages, touring permaculture projects, meeting with anarchists and agorists, and visiting historical sites and places of natural beauty in the eastern US and Canada. I have no idea how I’m going to find time to write articles for all that I see and do, but I’ll do my best!