Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Woman Attacked by Pure Evil at Isolated Farm

I do not watch horror movies because the scariest scenes stay with me in living technicolor surround sound detail. The gruesome scenes can instantly flare to life in my imagination as I am walking to the barn in the dark, or getting something out the truck in the dark, or sitting home alone on a dark, stormy night, when the electrical service invariably fails. If I allow it, my imagination will instantly reconstruct the terror I experienced overhearing a scary television program my mother was watching when I was ten. And let me just say, that has been a long while ago - the edge should have been off!

In the best horror movie tradition, something evil is stalking me here at Spirit Creek Farm.... something I can not see, only hear its diabolical footsteps tracking me on the path from the barn. If I stop, its stealthy footsteps stop, too. When I look around, all appears normal.

This very evening, the evil presence was once again shadowing me. It is getting so bold as to stalk me in broad daylight. Though the ground was covered with snow on Sunday morning, the sunlight and the warm south wind Monday dried the leaves on the ground and they have regained their telltale rustling. As I was returning to the house after chores, rapidly approaching footsteps through the leaves alerted me to the presence. I casually stopped, all senses tense. As I slowly turned around, hoping to catch a glimpse, I saw nothing but the chickens innocently scratching happily beneath the trees.

I turned once again for the house and the steps once again rapidly approached! I spun around to face the attacker and came face to face with pure evil - Elvis, the Belgium D'Uccle rooster - all sixteen ounces of his black and soulless being, stalking me from behind, his beady eyes fastened hatefully upon me. His little evil rooster feet, those scaly talons from hell, rustling the leaves, striking terror in my soul.

No longer shall he be called Elvis, for his name is Evil.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Sailor Writes Home

My aunt recently sent two packages of photos and keepsakes that had belonged to my grandma. In those packages was a treasure beyond price: letters written by my father!

They are the letters he sent home to his mother when he was in the Navy. The glimpse into 1946 alone is wonderful, but the tiny window into my father is the true value.

I have a wealth of memories of my father but I was nine when he died in a tragic accident. I have only ever known him as my daddy and never had the chance to know the man. I have gleaned all the information I could from those who knew him best and knew him the longest but nothing can take the place of getting to know your parent as an adult. A dozen letters written at the tender age of eighteen is apparently as close as I will ever get in this lifetime.

The first thing that struck me was the lack of complaining in any of the letters. I know my father quit high school to join the Navy. I never got an inkling of trouble associated with that decision, so maybe my father had a head strong idea that he was through with school and wanted to see the world. (Strong personalities tend to run in our family!) I assume Grandma and Grandpa tried to talk him out of leaving school. After going against his parents' best advice, a head strong young man is NOT going to write home complaining about the Navy.

On the other hand, people had just been through a depression and a world war. No one was inclined toward petty complaining. None of my grandparents complained. They held opinions but they simply did not waste their time or energy over things they could not control. In my grandmother's home in particular there would never have been much whining or self pity. You just got on with the good things and the rest simply slipped into the past.

Grandma instilled in all of her children a strong sense of self, and that comes through in my father's letters. His comments on some of the events and behaviors he witnessed shows that he was no one's fool, even at the tender age of eighteen.

I might not have all the facts straight in this story but my grandparents did not know that my father, and his younger brother Dee, could swim. As very young boys they went missing. Grandpa found them swimming like little tadpoles in very deep water. In the letters, my father mentions the swimming tests he had to pass as a sailor. No brag, just fact. "Some could not make it but it was no trouble for me." The ocean presented no challenge to a young man who grew up swimming in Kansas rivers.

My father continually asked for news about his brother and his best friend. Homesickness was never mentioned, but there was a one-time request for Grandma, Grandpa and Dee to have a photo taken together and sent to him. That tugged at my heart strings a little.

There was the good news of Grandma's pregnancy - which turned out to be none other than Superman, my future Uncle Jerry. There were many references to Patty, my father's little sister. There were questions about the corn and wheat crops and for news from home. There were discussions about cars, of course. Any young American man is going to want a good car!

There was a mention of a young lady my father had met about the time he left for the Navy. She and my father wrote to one another for some time, until he met my mother. I could have been born to a different set of parents, apparently. Good ol' Mom won out and I have to say, she wrote much better letters than the young lady from Wichita. I know this because before Mom died she sent a box of things home with me. In those boxes were all the letters sent to my father when he was in the Navy. I read the young lady's letters and my mother's letters. Mom was a far better writer. The other lady was very nice but BORING - at least in her letters. As I mentioned earlier, Pop was no one's fool even at that tender age.

People were decent to one another in 1946. Young men and women were self-reliant and polite and always on the up and up. There was not one molecule of impropriety in any of those letters. (How did this apple fall so darned far from the tree, I wonder? My guess is that it was The Sixties.)

Grandma must have insisted that Dee and Grandpa write to my father. In one of his letters my father asked Grandma to thank Grandpa for the letter - and to ask if Grandpa hurt himself writing it. I laughed about that. My grandfather was a quiet man and never had a lot to say. Grandma took up the slack for him. I have the letter Grandpa wrote and I can attest that he did NOT hurt himself writing it - maybe one hundred words in all.

My father was stationed on the USS Furse DD-882, a new Navy destroyer. Several times he mentions the upcoming A bomb tests to be conducted at Bikini Atoll. Turns out it was a big, fat, anticlimactic event for at least one sailor from Kansas. "We were twenty miles away from the Bomb, and all we could see was the smoke, and we heard the report of it, too. It sounded like a shot gun a long way off. You will see more than we did in the newspapers, I imagine."

My father mentioned a second test which was supposed to be much worse than the first, but the letters stop. So, I do not know if he was more impressed after the second test. We know now that all those men on those ships were the government's guinea pigs - all hands ordered on deck with no protection whatsoever from the light, blast, or the fall out. Perhaps my father's early death saved him from some horrible cancer or disease caused by that exposure had he lived a much longer life. No way to know.

I was delighted to hear from my father after all these years. I have my memories of course, but there were so few things left after his death to hang on to, to physically hold. My heart has long since healed from losing him so early in life but there has always been an open space where he belonged, an emptiness that will only be filled when I see him again. I have been missing him for many decades now. My brother Randy has fewer memories than I have. Our youngest brother Mark has no conscious memories of our father whatsoever, only second hand memories and second hand stories. These letters are just one more chance.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Random Memory

One Friday night after work I was in line at the bank, sitting in the worst car I ever owned, a 1971 Chevy Vega. The little four cylinder engine was clack-a-lacking away as the line inched forward in the heat and exhaust fumes.

A drunk guy came up to me and said "Excuse me. You need some Rislone for that engine." I did not know what to say to him. He was not threatening in anyway, but how many times are we going to take advice from strangers, advice from drunk strangers, advice from drunk strangers about our cars that are only running by some miracle of seventh heaven in the first place?

Apparently, my blank stare made him self conscious. He straightened himself as best he could and said "I know I don't look like it, but I am a mechanic."

He described in great detail what a bottle of Rislone looked like, where I could get it and what it would do for the knocking in the engine. I can not recall now if I took his advice. I doubt if I did. But, I have always remembered he said, "I know I don't look like it, but ..." It is as good an excuse as any for just about everything in life.

How many times in our lives when we have been whipped, defeated, broken hearted, disappointed, despairing, wounded, discouraged (well, you get the idea) and felt like saying: "I know I don't look like it, but I am usually much smarter than this."

"I know I don't look like it, but I am a good mother," I wanted to say when my hyperactive, attention deficit, five year old son ran down the aisles in the book store.

"I know I don't look like it, but I am a nice person," I wanted to say when I was handcuffed and hauled to jail after telling a policeman to *bleep* off.

"I know I don't look like it, but I am someone who does the best I can all the time, even when I know my best is not good enough."

That is my story and I am sticking with it.

One good thing about that Vega - the universe finally took pity on me and sent a tornado to hurl it through the dining room wall at my boyfriend's house. Buh bye!

95% Good News for Lee Hetzler

Great good news! The Army has decided that Sgt. Lee Hetzler can take his terminal leave, which means it is likely that he will not be called back for another tour. Of course, this is the Army we are talking about, so until all those papers are signed and he is firmly back in civilian life, we have to leave that 5% out there on the proverbial table.

The day after I posted about stop-loss, the government announced it was scaling back the numbers of troops retained in that practice. In true bureaucratic fashion, it is not going to do away with it altogether, and it is giving the Army a full two years to dial it down. But, the more men and women allowed to leave on their ETS (end of term of service) date the better.

I am going to continue to write and harass Pat Roberts about that stop-loss policy. There is a lot of controversy over it, and it seems to me that it has been abused by the government since the Gulf war. Rather than work to make sure troop levels are at an adequate level, it is easier to prevent soldiers from leaving. It is no longer an all volunteer Army at that point.

Of course, after I found this video of military life, it actually looks like fun to be in the military, so not sure why Lee wants to leave?!


Post script: It was Iraq where the Army was wanting to send Sgt. Lee Hetzler, not Afghanistan. My journalistic integrity is at stake here.....

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Meanest Person in the World

I gave away my three Cochin roosters. I miss those characters. They were the life of the chicken pen. But, the little hens do NOT miss them. Their feathers are growing back. They are gaining weight. They can move freely about their day without the constant sexual assaults. I owe them a big, big apology for waiting so long to get rid of the roosters. I was mean to keep so many roosters with so few hens - one to one ratio.

Elvis is the remaining rooster. He is a different breed. The Cochin roosters were gentlemen, not fighting with one another, calling the hens with their rolling cluck and ritual pecking of food. They also performed a little dance, warning everyone and everything of an impending attack. I always thought they acted like English butlers, "Beg your pardon, Madame. Look here, I will soon be flying at your legs if you do not back away."

The three of them formed a defensive V, with Big Man at the apex and his two seconds on either side. They were so brave until it was clear they would lose the war, then they turned and ran squawking in great alarm and panic, warning, "Run, run for your bloody lives!"

Elvis has none of that English butler polish about him. He is down right mean. He has three times attacked the back of my head, flying at me when I turn my back - for no reason, I might add! That may be very smart strategy for a rooster that weighs only one pound, but it is not very sporting of him.

He and I do not like one another at all. The thrill is off for both of us. He does not have a warning dance like the Cochins. He faces me directly, lowers his head, spreads his wings, fluffs his neck feathers and prepares for mortal combat. The third time he jumped on my head, I sent him flying across the pen at the end of my foot. I did not kick him but lifted him with the toe of my boot and launched him across the pen. I still felt like the meanest person in the world. After all, I outweigh him by.... well, by a LOT.

At one time, I could maintain my dominance over the roosters by throwing the plastic feed cup at them, or chasing them around the pen. The older they got, the less that worked. All four of the roosters began attacking me at the same time. They never hurt me, but who needs that complication at home when I am surrounded by a multitude of chicken heads at work?!

Now, before I go into the pen, I take a long stick and force Elvis off the roof of the coop so he can not so easily fly at my head. That does nothing for the peace process. When I lean down to fill the feeder, he threatens me. I always have to be on my guard against a little bird just a bit larger than a pigeon! It does nothing for my already flagging self-esteem.

I think I am going to have to be really mean and evict Elvis to another chicken yard. He was utterly dominated by the Cochins and I think he still believes they are going to suddenly reappear to put him in his place. The hens do not seem to pay him any mind yet. In fact, the only creature he scares at all is me, the meanest person in the world.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Luck of the Irish

Stop-Loss. That is the Army's term for preventing soldiers who have honorably served in George W. Bush's Iraq war from leaving the Army on time. It means they are sent back into combat rather than being discharged and free to go about their lives. Some have been caught in stop-loss and returned to combat tours as many as four times.

Last summer, I had the chance to meet some of my daughter's military friends. Robert and Jason are in Iraq right now, likely driving patrol even as I write. A third friend, Sgt. Lee Hetzler, has already served two tours of combat, in Iraq and in Afghanistan. He is currently stationed at Ft. Riley, and set to leave the Army in April. He has honorably served over seven years.

Lee is one of the finest young men I have met. He rides a Harley Super Glide, so of course that proves what a truly discerning guy he is! Lee is one of those soldiers we all have in mind when we think of the best our military has to offer. He is simply a nice human being. He is funny, polite, easy going, an excellent soldier, and a good-looking American guy. Any one would be proud to call him a son. He carries himself well and possesses a particular sort of humility, a stillness, I have seen in men who have been in war.

The first time I met Lee, the exact day of his pending discharge from the Army came into the conversation. Every soldier I have ever met knew the day he was to be discharged from the Army, and knew exactly how many days left until THAT day arrived. It is not that they hate the Army. It is that their lives do not belong to them as long as they are in the Army. They anxiously await the return of their freedom, the return to their own lives.

The first time I met Lee, he also mentioned being caught in stop-loss as his discharge date was drawing near. He and the other soldiers discussed it. They all understood.

It is not yet certain, but it looks as if Lee will be sent to Afghanistan rather than discharged in April. It looks as if he is going to be caught in stop-loss. It is another hard experience the Army hands out to its soldiers along with all the other hard experiences. It is merely a numbers game the military plays and there is no room for human hearts in those games.

I hope Lee does not have to return to Afghanistan. I hope he gets to go home to California, to ride his Harley wherever and whenever he wants. Sunday, I called and emailed Senator Pat Roberts' office about Lee. A woman from the Senator's Topeka office left a message last night:

"This is Gilda from Senator Robert's Topeka office. I am calling in reference to a phone call about Sgt Lee Hetzler. Please call me at 785-295-2745. Thank you."

I called Gilda today. I asked if Pat Roberts can do anything to prevent Sgt Lee Hetzler from returning to Afghanistan for another tour rather than leaving the Army and going home. She did not give me any hope except to say they could "look into it". She said Lee would have to be the one to ask their office to look into it, anyway.

There is another man who can be sent to war in Lee's place, a man who once missed his chance to serve honorably. George W. Bush recently came into some free time. He can take Lee's place.

May the luck of the Irish bless Lee, and Jason and Robert, and Wade and Ken, and all the men and women who have served, and are serving, our country.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Reincarnation Blues

A typical sunrise, on the way to the barn...

Some people are convinced that they know what is going to happen to them when they die. They are convinced they know exactly what is expected of them as they live their lives. There have been periods of time in my life when I have convinced myself of such matters but mostly I realize that I simply do not know.

I have read hundreds and hundreds of books in my life, including the Christian Bible. I began reading the Old Testament about age eight, and those old stories scared me spitless. I skipped over the most boring parts but I gave it a darned good effort, for a child. I had questions I needed answered!

I felt better when I read Mathew, Mark, Luke and John. Aside from absorbing that the man Jesus loved others beyond my imagining, and healed them from an infinite depth of heart, the New Testament also brought up as many scary questions as the Old Testament. Why would anyone kill a man like Jesus? It broke my heart.

Eventually I realized the Bible must be read with the historical context in mind, but it still did not answer my questions.

Thankfully, my parents never interfered in that aspect of my life. I was never force-fed any dogma. Amazingly enough, reading Ray Bradbury early on seemed to influence my thinking more than the Bible. I still fondly recall the innocence with which I read all of Bradbury's glowing, poetic stories. I did not always consciously "get" the stories, being a rather pragmatic thinker, but his ideas went deep.

I am not a well educated person. I never read any of the heavy philosophers, nor many of the classics. As a teenager, I waded through Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov. I
was depressed for weeks after reading each book. It was so depressing that I have never tried to read any of his work again. I sadly report that I do not believe I "got" any of it.

By the time I got to college, I was reading Kurt Vonnegut, the Lord of the Rings, Frank Herbert's Dune trilogy, and all of Richard Brautigan's books, my favorite being "A Confederate General from Big Sur". I read all of Hemingway and some of F. Scott Fitzgerald. I read T. S. Elliot and Walt Whitman.

The author that truly lit a fire for me was the infamous Carlos Castaneda. He continues to be a controversial figure, and all of his work is under a cloud of doubt and suspicion. I devoured each of his books, read them repeatedly, and accepted everything in them as fact. Everything resonated with me. I once finished a Castaneda book and excitedly ran to my husband, waving the book in his face, "I knew there was more to life. I just knew it!" My husband had been raised in a seriously Catholic home, and he was absolutely appalled. But, it was Castaneda and his adventures with Don Juan - the sorcerers, witches, dreamers and stalkers, and their ancient Toltec philosophies that truly opened my mind. Don Juan was quoted as saying "When death comes, it is nothing. It could be the period in one of your books." Somehow, I knew exactly what that meant. It was terrifying, unbelievably sad and absolutely energizing. It was an explanation of death that I could understand viscerally.

Castaneda was the first of many such authors. Right or wrong, frauds or not, who genuinely knows? I read them all and my mind opened to the possibilities. Castaneda apparently influenced an entire generation of intellectuals and scholars. I found Alberto Villoldo on a remaindered table for $1. He is similar to Castaneda, but Villoldo's path led him back to "respectable" American academia. He looked for ways to incorporate the ancient sorcerer's knowledge into the modern world of psychiatry, education, and health.

There are others I have read and reread. Ken Carey's books are likely as strange and beautiful and mind-expanding as anything I have ever read.
Doug Boyd, whose work was for some time associated with the famous Menninger clinic, wrote of real people: Mad Bear Anderson, a Tuscarora Medicine Man; the famous Rolling Thunder, a Cherokee/Shoshone Medicine Man; a genuine Swami. Boyd founded the Cross Cultural Studies Program/Flint Hills Wisdom Keepers. The annual conference continues in Council Grove, Kansas, though Doug Boyd is deceased.

Thanks to the New Age, I have had access to many books over the last thirty years dealing with a variety of subjects: near death, reincarnation, expanded consciousness, ghosts, paranormal, UFO's - the list goes on. In the last ten years I have read many layman's books on the theory of relativity, string theory, M theory. I do not pretend I understand any of the theories, but the attempt is fun.

Coupled with all the reading, life has taught me a thing or two, as well. I still have my questions. We all have basically the same questions: why am I here? What is death? Why is it that we can not recall this supposed prior spiritual existence? If we reincarnate, would we not all eventually recall some common themes from that "other" existence? Why would there not be some collective subconscious memory to illuminate and inform all human beings, and give their creation myths some commonality? Why do human beings fight religious wars? What process is it that makes humans so certain of "their god" that they go to war, or commit acts of terrorism, or put people to death, or shun others who do not believe the same? Why do humans starve, rape and kill one another? Why do some people die horrible deaths? Why do some get away with murder? I do not know.

I have never been visited by a dead loved one. No one has ever come back and told me not to worry. When I was nine, my father died unexpectedly. In the days after his death, when I could sleep, I would fall into a deep, healing sleep. Sometimes my father was in those dreams, and sometimes I was in a place of comfort and peace. As I would begin to wake, I would struggle mightily to remain in that place because coming awake was returning to emotional agony and suffering. For a long time, those dreams helped me believe that my father still existed. But now I think they were simply my mind trying to cope with an overwhelming loss.

I was at my mother's bedside when she died. She suffered for many years with emphysema but she died from a fall in the hospital, suffering a mighty blow to her head. The instant her spirit slipped from that ruined body, I felt the room fill with joy. I got the distinct impression that her overwhelming thought was "That was not difficult. What was I worried about?" Also, something rock solid and tangible came into my mind: the absolute certainty that my mother still existed. Any psychology student would say I was in denial. But it did not feel like denial. It felt like the truth.

Yet, I have never seen nor heard from either of my parents in a three dimensional, five senses manner since their respective deaths. When I was a little girl, and loved the Jesus taught in Sunday school, he never appeared in my life, no matter how hard I prayed to him. Eventually he simply became like Santa Claus: a fairy tale.

Some time ago it dawned on me that perhaps the answer to my questions were not to be found in books, nor study. The answers are to come from my own mind and from my own life. It began one day when I was considering the pyramids. For thousands of years, the Egyptian culture built the most astounding structures the world has ever known out of nothing but stone, using methods we can not duplicate today. They thought they knew. They were so certain, their entire society was focused on building the pyramids - for centuries! If anyone thinks they know the answers to life's biggest questions, I have to refer them to the Egyptian pyramids. Are you so sure that you would force an entire civilization to build a pyramid just to entomb your crazy king in it?

My questions are too simple for the infinite universe and beyond. My questions are simply "baby talk" in a universe that defies imagination. I am too simple-minded to even know what questions truly matter, but I can not be anything other than a human being. Perhaps Popeye, that old cartoon character, gave me the answer on Saturday mornings long ago: "I yam what I yam!"

The last fifteen years or so, I have been going into prayer lodge with my Indian friends. I sit on the ground, in the dark, in the heat, singing those old songs, and sweating back onto the earth some of the water that allows me to live. The Indians say that is all we truly have to give back to our Creator, for all else belongs to Him. Sitting on the earth makes my prayers humble and clear. Sitting in the heat, I can not escape myself. Crammed in the dark with others, even some people I do not like, we become transparent and it is easy to love one another, easy to remember that we are merely human beings.

It is just one way. There are infinite ways to make sense of this life. Now, when I pray, I simply pray to the most high, the most sacred, to whomever is responsible for me being here. Because I simply do not know how I got here, or why I am here, or where I am going when I leave. Maybe I simply cease to exist. Or maybe I will reincarnate. That made a lot of sense to me for awhile, and conveniently explained why I was born knowing all about the terrible injustice done to the Indians. It was an explanation of why I love the prairie and mourn its demise with such a soul-felt grief. It explained why hearing the drums at a powwow moves me to tears. I have no other explanation for it. A lot of Indians make fun of people like me, saying we are of the Wannabe Tribe. I take no offense because I agree. I wannabe an Indian! But, I do not know why.

I guess when it gets right down to it, I do not know very much at all. I am no closer to finding the answers to my questions than I was when I was a little girl reading those scary Old Testament books. I have at least deduced one truth, and I am fairly certain of this one. Free will is the single greatest gift of this universe. Apparently we can do anything, believe anything, say anything whatsoever we can imagine to do, say or believe. Interfering in another's free will is tricky business. Perhaps the Creator has given us free will in order to teach us how to choose wisely.

I read one time about a man who lived by the sea. As a daily ritual he would stand in silent witness each evening as the sun slipped below the horizon, usually amid spectacular colors and cloudscapes. He eventually noticed that the rabbits living on the hillside below also paused each evening in those silent, mysterious moments of sunset, enjoying the beauty, too. Even the gentle, simple rabbit wonders. I always feel a kinship with those rabbits. I know exactly how they feel.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fare Thee Well, Three Musketeers

It is a sad day in Pecklandia. The three Partridge Cochin roosters were taken to a new home yesterday. With four hens and four roosters, there has been far too many boys out there in the chicken yard. While the Cochin roosters were gentlemanly, as far as rooster society goes, they were so much larger than the D'Uccle hens that it was just too much for the little hens. I took pity on them.

I caught Big Man, Sweetie Peep, and Hawk Wing, and put them in the same little cage they grew up in all together. I did not know if they would tolerate being so close to one another, but they settled down and rode all the way to Shawnee County as the perfect traveling companions. They have always been kind to one another, not pecking or fighting, only doing their little stylized side-stomping ritual if they accidentally got too close to each other. I hope that being flock mates - brothers, really - they will look out for one another in their new home, and not be too lonesome for their flock. I was going to take Elvis too, but he never fit in with the big boys. And since all the ladies at the new home are full sized hens, poor little Elvis would likely be picked on there by everyone.

One by one, I took each little rooster out of the cage, scratched his neck, and rubbed his comb in farewell. I will certainly miss those guys. I believe they went to a very good home. The roos' new caretaker said last week a coyote with a damaged paw came onto her back deck and laid down. Her uncle is in charge of a nature rehabilitation center, and he came for the coyote. A wild coyote coming right up to her home, where two big labs live... well, that was an auspicious enough sign for me.

But I will still miss those three little roosters.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Waiting For the Mother Ship

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away, there lived an old hippie man known to many free thinkers, wastrels, scoundrels and characters of assorted and sordid pasts, and those of shady associations. He and his partner were infamous local characters and were known to throw spectacular parties that sometimes achieved legendary status.

The old hippie and his partner were young men in The Sixties. They were living on the west coast when LSD and the psychedelic era was born. They were in San Francisco when it was legal to pay $5 for a psychedelic bus tour of the city. A person received a dose of LSD and a guided bus tour of the city's best sites, a two-for-one trip, so to speak. There were no laws against LSD at that time.

The two survived the sixties separately and became business partners in the seventies by some twist of fate. They sometimes threw monumental parties at their Kansas farm that were likely pale shadows of parties they had known back in their west coast days. At one such farm party, during the course of the evening, the old hippie ingested a prodigious amount of LSD.

He was a short and stocky man with a balding head and a barrel chest. What was left of his hair was blond and curly, wisping away from his scalp like wiry smoke. He easily reminded people of a crabby hobbit, or a slightly menacing Santa Claus. He was also an inherently funny human being.

During the course of his arguably most famous party, the old hippie ran through his house dressed only in a vest, carrying a cane, rushing to a high and formal meeting to which only he had been summoned. He was found perched in a second story window, hooting like an owl. He was convinced to remove himself from the window and to get dressed. But you cannot hold an old hippie back.  At some point he had disappeared from the general area of the party and his partner went looking for him. Eventually the old hippie was found behind the house in a newly plowed field. In a focused and highly efficient manner, using the arm signals known to flight crews the world over, the old hippie was carefully waving in the mother ship to the dark Kansas field.

That party became local legend.