Saturday, August 29, 2015

A Week in my Old Room

This week I'm visiting Sandhill Farm, the community I helped start in 1974 and was a member of until last summer.

As it happens, I'm staying in my old room, which has now been converted to a sewing space, making it an interesting mix of the familiar and the strange. My welcome here has been warm, and I've enjoyed a number of conversations on the front porch (Sandhill's favorite fair weather hangout spot).

In addition to treading water with email (the flood of which never stops), my visit is a potpourri of my many familiar things:

o  Playing duplicate bridge
The first night I was back I drove into Kirksville and played in the regular Wed evening duplicate game. I hadn't played since I was last in town (early June), but card playing is a lot like riding a bicycle, and my partner and I finished in a tie for first.

o  Preparing my divorce paperwork
Thursday I spent the morning with Ma'ikwe, going over our no-fault DIY divorce settlement. We now have a notarized document that we've both signed and I'll drop it off at the Circuit Court on Wednesday when I go into our county seat to pick up a rental car for the next leg of my fall odyssey.

While we were able to work everything out with minimal hassle, I can't focus on the failure of our marriage without invoking a cloud of sadness.

o  Making frames for María's ritual prints
One of the first things María told me about when I moved into her and Joe's house in June was that she was planning a major ritual for her birthday, Oct 3. As part of her shamanic training she'll be conducting a doming ceremony, which will help protect her home from inappropriate spirits (I don't think alcohol counts), maintaining the house as a sanctuary.

An aspect of this is installing eight pieces of original art that draw upon different spiritual traditions, to be affixed according the eight cardinal points of the compass. She had the art in hand, but needed to have it framed. After volunteering on the spot to do that for her, I quickly realized that I had no idea where in Chapel Hill I was going to get access to the woodworking equipment that I'd need. Then it occurred to me that I could do the job at Sandhill, where everything I needed was in one place, and I was familiar with all the tools.

So here I am, making eight 10.5"x13.5" frames out of walnut. I started Wednesday with raw lumber that had been air dried, and have now planed it, ripped it, shaped it with a router, beveled it with a table saw, put in a rabbet joint with a table saw, cut a joining dado with a radial arm saw, and sanded the pieces. Tomorrow I'll start gluing up, so that I can get everything assembled and oiled in time to drive the finished products east with me this coming Wednesday.

Though I'll be working with a community in Colorado Springs on María's brithday, my spirit will be thoroughly commingled with all eight pieces of art.

o  Visiting friends
As you might imagine there are plenty of people in the tri-communities of Rutledge that it's a pleasure to see while I'm in town. I've already been over to DR twice and will go again tomorrow, mainly to participate in Men's Group, which meets every Sunday at 7:30 pm until we're done.

o  Making tomatillo salsa
Monday I have a date with Frankie (a new Sandhill member and former intern) to process three five-gallon buckets of tomatillos—all of which go into making salsa, using a recipe that I pioneered years ago working off the advice of a Latina intern we had one summer, who passed along the secret of her Grandma Gutierrez: roast everything.

As food processing used to be one of my main jobs at Sandhill, it'll be fun to be back in the kitchen putting a little of the summer into jars (a la Greg Brown's grandma).

o  Cleaning out the old FIC Trailer
Last, I'll be devoting most of Tuesday to walking through the old FIC trailer, sorting stuff to be recycled from stuff to be archived. On a space available basis, I'll load the car with archive materials to be dropped off at the Center for Communal Studies, which is located on the campus of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville—which I'll be driving right by on my way to the Twin Oaks Communities Conference.

• • •
So it's being a week filled with conversation, memories, and good work. I even have time for a little reading.

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