Before winter sets in

Many sit in a loose ring on the grass, while others drum, dance, or strum on guitars. The thrumming itself evokes an awareness of Tribe in a glimmer of an alternative American Revolution based on Peace, Love, and Equality. For DL, his guardian angel Nita, and the other inhabitants of one ramshackle farm, that beat leads to a summer of mountain lakes and partying before winter unmasks core differences that threaten to splinter their household. What some uncover in the upheaval opens into delight, growing purpose, and wisdom the following summer. To say nothing of a lifetime of questioning and bittersweet memories.

That night, Jabez showed up with a full painful beard. Irma was the first to notice when Jabez whimpered into the house. “Wow, that dog’s got some really wicked thorns in his nose.”

“Lemme see,” Mylin coaxed in a fatherly voice. “Come on, Jabez, be a good dog. That’s nice. Uh-oh, that’s not so nice.” He turned to explain. “I thought at first they might be black locust thorns, from the trees down below us. But they’re not. This is gonna be rough; we got porcupine quills. Gimme a pair of pliers, will you, DL?”

Black locust thorns would have been bad enough. DL knew they can puncture tractor tires. Porcupine quills, with their fishhook barbs, were entirely novel to him. While Irma and DL sought to calm Jabez, Mylin expertly plucked each barbed spine from the large puppy’s nose and mouth. Jabez cried, squirmed, backed away, listed, whined, whimpered, and kept bleeding.

Then Rusty arrived, scratched his head, and reflected. “You know, we haven’t seen Rudy for a while. Maybe he’s trying to hump that porcupine!”

~*~

To learn more about my Hippie Drum novel, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Hippie Drum

Hard life, no shortcuts

Living in an ashram is hard work in more ways than one. But the effort has led to lifelong blessings for which there are no shortcuts. Ashram shows how it happens.

Bhyragai_-_Vairagya_-.Swami pauses. “The next four months are crucial to the future of this ashram – to the future of yoga in America, for that matter. More will be demanded of us – and given to us – than we’ve ever thought possible. But we must be ready and we must be strong. Veda, we can’t have any slackers. There are no excuses.”

They tell her she must choose. Does she resolve to stay? Or would she rather leave?

“You haven’t understood a thing,” Swami says. “Do you think we can’t do without you? We need you, we love you, but not for your talents. For you.” She takes Veda’s hand, turns it palm up. “You’re going to be great, once you decide just what it is you want to do.”

~*~

To learn more about my novel Ashram, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Ashram

Shades of utopia

Listen to its inner beat and you’ll find it’s about much more than long hair, marijuana use, or war resistance. Sometimes it’s a basic search for the ecstasy of love, as DL’s bittersweet sojourn delivers. And sometimes it’s their overlapping circles of comrades. Meet some of the kids who rent a ramshackle farm together, and some of their friends who don’t. Rejecting the social norms of their parents, they set off in pursuit of a more utopian society or, at the least, personal freedom. Everyone jumps into the swirl with personal expectations, and with outlooks ranging from idealistic to cynical, but what they do disturbs the world. There’s comedy, theatrics, color, and even disillusionment. We now call it the hippie movement. Hippie Drum relives its unforgettable dance and calling.

Melanie Safka on the Mr. Softee" free stage at the Powder Ridge Rock Festival in Connecticut, August 1970. Photo by Armandd via Wikimedia Commons.
Melanie Safka on the Mr. Softee” free stage at the Powder Ridge Rock Festival in Connecticut, August 1970. Photo by Armandd via Wikimedia Commons.

As my story goes:

When he developed his film, he realized he had caught little of the unconventional beauty he remembered. But what he had on film suggested much more to come. Next to Ramona’s steamy convergence of earthy import, the roommate Suzanne appeared spectral and insignificant. With her lithe body, long neck, flaxen hair, ivory skin, and round eyes, she normally would have been the center of DL’s photographic focus, or at least an aesthetic counterpoint to Ramona’s tangy imprint.

While the two females formed exquisite, complementary opposites, it was Ramona’s gravity that allowed a moon like Suzanne to orbit – one DL already felt tugging at himself. Like the moon, Suzanne had ways of disappearing in the night, if she so chose.

~*~

To learn more about my Hippie Drum novel, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Hippie Drum

The monastic aspiration

I’ve often been asked what living on the ashram was like or even simply why we gave up our secular lives to do it.

I’ve also found in conversations with others who have lived in similar monastic households – Buddhist, Sufi, Christian, as well as yogi – how much our experiences and ensuing lessons overlap.

This, then, is that story told through a single day’s adventures on a mountain farm run by a woman swami. Om Shanti!

512px-1._Pooruck_Pranaiyam_-Puraka_pranayama-._2._Kumbuck_-Kumbhaka-._3._Raichuck_-Recaka-.As soon as they finish the breathing exercises, Swami lays down the law: “From now on, I want you to greet everyone with reverence. Hands together, a bow. Namaste. Got that? No one is to sit in bunches and talk and whisper. We are one body, anything that is said can be shared with all. And I want silence at every meal – total silence at other times, too, except for the guests, as needed. You’re to walk in the building on tiptoe – close doors, cupboards, and windows without a sound. This will require total concentration. Uma and Arjuna sound like elephants going up and down the stairs. Not a sound! Understand? Rudra, you’re responsible for relating all of this to Uma. Got that?”

~*~

To learn more about my novel Ashram, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Ashram

More than the sound

My book is a drum. Its story, the sound. It’s an invitation to join with DL and his guardian angel, Nita, in their unfolding dance both on the ramshackle farm they share with a circle of hippies and in their straight workplace. All followed by a lifetime of questioning and bittersweet memories.

This cornfield at Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Freehold, New Jersey, has the right feel for the events in my novel. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.
This cornfield at Monmouth Battlefield State Park in Freehold, New Jersey, has the right feel for the events in my novel. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

Folks finally discovered the joy of feasting together. Perhaps it was a matter of strength in numbers. Perhaps it had to do with a new option regarding where to place a spread; there was a choice of the newly claimed Campsite out back or else they could hold off the daily poker game long enough to transform the dining room into, well, a dining room. So it went from a chicken feast one afternoon, an uncommonly solemn affair, what, considering all of the butchering and defeathering beforehand, all overseen by Mylin, to a pasta repast the next, part of his strategy for overcoming a lot of hostile feelings ranging from dirty dishes jamming the sink to toilet paper missing from the roll.

~*~

To learn more about my Hippie Drum novel, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Hippie Drum

A living laboratory

In rejecting the lifestyles and goals of their parents, many in the hippie movement turned to Eastern spiritual teachers. Yogis, Buddhists, Sufis, and others popped up around the country, often gathering into newly established households of daily study and practice.

In the tradition of yoga, these were called ashrams – not quite a commune, not quite a monastery, but rather a living laboratory that could be full of unexpected, even comic, encounters.

The novel Ashram presents a day in the life of one set on a subsistence farm in the mountains. Are they renegades or simply unorthodox? Their life-changing lessons aren’t always predictable.

Arjuna_gifted_Arrow_of_Fire_to_GandarvaThe construction chief seems to harbor a grudging admiration for what’s happening at the ashram, even if he’s seldom paid on time. Whenever he can swing it, he hires Rudy, Vajra, or another yogi – at times, several – to assist on jobs elsewhere. But abstaining from booze and meat is beyond his comprehension. “You can’t live on air,” he says, feeding the yogis eggs and toast when they drive by to pick him up. Then he tries slipping them some bacon. And he never stops trying to get them to make the rounds of bars with him when he campaigns for county commissioner. Even though he never spends a dime on advertising, he returns to office by record margins.

~*~

To learn more about my novel Ashram, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Ashram