Archive for June, 2010



Derek called yesterday, and the spirit in his voice gave me such a lift. He sounded so happy, positive, and energetic.

His voice was almost exultant as he described the insights, plans, and accomplishments gleaned from his church’s youth leadership program to which he is presently devoting his full time. He told me of the other kids in the program, of camping trips to Tennessee and North Carolina and, more important, his own personal journey of integrating and reconciling his past through a powerful vision for his future.

In his soft drawl he spoke with a perfect and most likeable blend of gratitude, pride, and humility.

I hope you can appreciate how deeply his happiness and success affects me. I was so often on the receiving end of pessimistic and hateful predictions that I would be murdered in my bed by taking him into my household and family. These comments never made me doubt Derek’s goodness nor potential, only the humanity of those who seemed to take such pleasure in their dire and nasty warnings. Now I feel so completely and deliciously vindicated.

But more than that, I am excited by this wave Derek is riding and by the vicarious thrill available to me as his friend and Yoda. (“You are Yoda to my Skywalker,” he once told me—one of the most satisfying moments of my life.)

Derek will arrive here by road in about a month with Lisa and Mack Alton. Lisa is the founder and co-trustee with me of the King Brothers Trust. She is a “green” architect and Mack is a builder, and I am hopeful they will fall in love with Estrella Vista as much as Derek has.

Derek suggested that his friend Drew would like to come, too, if Drew can work out the scheduling with his job. Derek and Drew became good friends in prison—they looked out for one another and covered one another’s backs—and they’re supporting one another now that they’re making their ways outside the gates.

If Drew is motivated to come here, I will encourage it. Derek is an excellent judge of character and ability, and I trust him implicitly to bring us people whose energy and spirit will be an addition to our shared vision for Estrella Vista and not a drain. Estrella Vista is a permanent home base for Derek, and he is a collaborator and heir of whatever we create here.

As will be all the young people in my family… Henry, Paco, Sarah, Paul, Allison, etc… as well as the new boy whose potential adoption is the object of my weekly visits to Alpine (and whose photo is still posted in the gallery of available hard-to-place kids—so I still haven’t lost my race against time!).

It will be a remarkable and joyous homecoming.


talks with animals

From his readings of sacred texts and mythology, Paul sees evidence that humans could communicate with animals in the distant mists of time. Not just a few saints and sages, but everyone. Like children growing out of their ability to remember past lives, the human race eventually lost this ability as it developed in ways that separated us from nature.

Yet there is among us a small number of individuals who retain this ability today, and I discovered one such person last week while searching for images of Edward Hicks’ paintings of “The Peaceable Kingdom.”

I pay attention to unexpected coincidences and clues because they are evidence of what I understand as Divine Guidance.

They keep one on the particular path the Universe intends.

Years ago I was mentored by an old man who had given over his whole life to following the Guidance of God with absolute obedience, even when his own instincts gave him pause. My mentor’s path led him into lifelong filial relationships with the Edison, Ford, Firestone, and Lindbergh families, as well as many other notable and ordinary individuals and their clans. He said he never sought out these famous people—they were attracted to him. He said that without having given himself over to obeying the Guidance he received, none of these friendships would have ever come to be. He told me his life proved to him that God has a greater plan for us than we ourselves can ever imagine. You just have to still your mind and listen for the Voice which is already and always there.

I had been thinking for some time about how we should relate to animals here at Estrella Vista if our goal is to live in harmony with nature. I had come to the conclusion that in our relations with animals, as with children and all other human beings, it is essential to accept the basic nature of the Other as divine and good as it is. It is always a mistake to, say, marry a spouse and then proceed to try to change him, or take on a student and disregard that individual’s unique gifts and interests and proceed to shoehorn her into a mold. We should instead be serving them and shaping around them.

Recognizing the divinity and rightness in Others and serving that divinity is central to our philosophies of “hospitality” and “family,” and I have lately come to believe this must also extend to the animals we live with here. I have always resisted the arrogance of calling myself a “pet owner,” and have preferred to frame these relationships as “co-habitation.” Yet now I am thinking that maybe even this frame is too limiting, because it does not suggest a core spiritual component.

So it is against this background that I attached significance to the clue when, beneath the heading “Peaceable Kingdom” I read, “Cindy Wenger has been communicating with animals for many years and is one of today’s leading animal communicators.”

I called Cindy and we talked for a while. I researched her website and those of other people in her field—about a dozen practitioners in this country alone—who act as communication “interpreters” between animals and people.

Researchers have been studying intra-and inter-species communication for years.  According to Betty Lewis, another interspecies animal communicator, “studies range from trying to interpret whale calls to teaching sign language to chimpanzees, but the fundamental, most basic type of communication, common to all species including humans, is telepathy.”

Telepathy, she says, is defined as the transfer of pictures, thoughts and feelings using mental energy. “This is how geese know when to change leads in their flying formation or how your dog knows when you’re going to the refrigerator.  Have you ever noticed that the cat who always comes home for breakfast stays away on the day of his veterinary appointment?”  These animals, she explains, are simply focusing or tapping into the thought processes of another.

So I asked Cindy if she would mediate a communication session between Otto and me. I prepared a list of questions which would test her and others’ claims of telepathy and reveal information of which Cindy could have no prior knowledge, but known to Otto and me. I prepared a list of questions which might give me insight to the intensity and duration of our relationship from Otto’s perspective.

Before I could ask a single question, Cindy accurately described Otto’s personality as “brave, bold, and loyal—very loyal—but laid-back.” She said she had telepathically connected with Otto a few minutes before our scheduled call and asked him if it was alright for her to serve as an interpreter.

She told me Otto had told her we had been together in previous lives, once in medieval times when he had been a black Friesian horse and I a knight and we constantly traveled together on “treasure hunts.” (Animals can remember their past lives, Cindy said, even if humans do not.)

It immediately struck me that this same “treasure hunt” pattern had been repeated in my Gump years when Otto and I traveled together on our quests in the BMW M Roadster, which was also black. Cindy hadn’t known that.

Then I began asking my questions about Otto’s health, memories of places we’d lived together, and why we had been put together again in this life (Answer: “To complete the hunt!”).

I learned details about his health including the time his hips gave out and he called for me, and the time last year when he was bitten by the snake. I learned that his sessions in Paul’s hyperbaric chamber really do give him more energy. Cindy said Otto thinks about God all the time because he perceives the divinity in everything everywhere all the time. I learned that of the five homes we shared in Marathon, the house on Iron Mountain Road was his favorite (it was Paul’s favorite, too). I learned that he misses our friend Genevieve from Minneapolis.

Skeptics may say I am the victim of a hoax, but so many things Cindy said rang too true to have been lucky guesses. I was convinced enough to have resolved that I will continue this line of investigation as a way of understanding some of the deepest things in life and to better understand living in harmony with nature and animals.

You may wish to look into this subject before deciding for yourself. Check out Cindy’s websites at and

I’ll keep looking into it as well, and will report what I learn.


too quiet in pa

Since the appeal of Judge Motto’s decision to try 12-year-old Jordan Brown as an adult was filed, things have apparently been too quiet for some people.

So true to form, Kenzie’s parents have been stirring the pot—or their cauldron, I should say. Last week they attended a meeting of the Lawrence County Commissioners to ask why Jordan is being housed in an Erie youth facility where he is being treated humanely at a cost to the county and state of $239.34 a day and being allowed “privileges” such as daily visits from his father and the ability to play checkers with the staff. They want to see Jordan moved to the county jail where he would be housed with violent adults at a lower cost to upstanding taxpayers like themselves.

If this story were happening seventy years ago in the South and Jordan were black, he would already be swinging from a tree if the Houks had their way. Every story of injustice must have its Ewell Family, and in this case the Houk Family is it.

One of the commissioners answered the Houks saying that the judiciary is independent and said: “We can’t issue any edict about operation of the court system. We only fund it.” But don’t you think the Houks already knew this before they went to the meeting? Yet it was as good a publicity stunt as all their others.

Of course, if the newspaper story I have just read is a full description of the proceedings (, no one stated the obvious: that Jordan is presumed innocent unless proved guilty. Before a trial the state can only detain Jordan, not punish him—though I’d guess Jordan believes he is presently being punished for something he didn’t do.

Nor did anyone say that in the case of juveniles, the state has a responsibility to treat them as children and not small adults. Children and adults do not think and behave the same. Only ignorant and cruel people do not accept this reality. Decent people all over the world are dismayed by this story and what it says about the human condition and American justice.

And nobody, of course, stated that Jordan is being held on the thinnest of evidence gathered through a laughably incompetent and dishonest police investigation, and interpreted by a former prosecutor with political considerations in mind. The police have forensic evidence of a handgun shot to Kenzie’s head and yet make the misleading claim that it is a shotgun wound. The police didn’t even process the crime scene for fingerprints. They probably coerced Jordan’s younger sister into making a false statement incriminating Jordan and colluded with or manipulated the victim’s family to see that Jordan was convicted in the media before his case ever went to trial.

And nobody but nobody dared ask what kind of people these are upon whose vicious accusations and assertions the police and prosecution are relying.

Here is a curious and significant thing I have observed over many months. On Jordan’s website at and in this Diary, it has been disclosed that Kenzie had been engaged in a bitter child support and paternity battle with a former boyfriend who is the more likely killer or had one of his unsavory friends do it. At one time Kenzie apparently felt threatened enough to take out protection orders against him—maybe after one of his several death threats.

After paying Kenzie for the support of a child he was told was his, the boyfriend ultimately learned through DNA testing that the child was not his after all. Put yourself in his shoes. Don’t you think you’d be a little ticked off, especially if your former girlfriend had already taken up with and was engaged to another man?

Yet about all this, the silence from Lawrence County has been deafening.

No one is talking about it, and for the Houks thankfully so, because no one but me is openly asking the obvious question: What kind of upbringing did this young woman have that she would not know the paternity of her own child, or if she did know, that she would scapegoat and saddle an “innocent” man with the responsibility?

Is the same thing happening now, but this time being choreographed by Mother Deb, a past master of the art and all dressed up in her Sunday best? It is more plausible, really, than the “Addams Family Kid” theory of the crime which has been sold to the credulous media.

I’ll bet if someone went digging into this family’s background, it would be found that they’re not all they crack themselves up to be.

Then maybe it would not be so quiet in Pennsylvania.

On a lighter note…

Please don’t send me angry messages if you don’t approve. I figured it was either him or me, and the ugliness and stench of Otto’s snakebite wound is still fresh in my memory.

I went out to the coop yesterday to feed and water the roosters. We have an old concrete block propped against the gate to keep it closed. I lifted it and, to my great alarm and astonishment, beheld a three-foot-long rattlesnake coiled where the concrete block had been.

Rattlesnakes are welcome anywhere on the property except near our animals or the house, and this guy had broken the rules. He raised his head as if to strike. I had the perfect weapon—the concrete block—in my hands, took aim, and threw it. The snake was not killed, but wounded and immobilized under the weight.

I returned to the house to fetch a long trenching spade, with which I beheaded the snake and put him out of his misery. I cut off the tail to send to Benny, and left the snake’s writhing body for the roosters to eat.

Now we’ll see if it is true that roosters and chickens will eat anything.


They won’t.


numbers man

The process in things—the patterns in and of change, especially—fascinate me.

I have never been a numbers man, though, if the meaning of that term is epitomized by the work that accountants and bone-headed bosses do. “We made an X-percent profit last quarter,” just doesn’t excite me as much as a statement like, “By correlating X and Y and tweaking Y we doubled our profits.”

I’m all for measurement, as long as it is not just for its own sake, but for performance improvement. Identifying trends in the numbers and being able to attach numerated results to specific activities and conditions—analysis of the whys, whats and hows, the meaning and interrelationships of things—now that is something that can really wind me up.

I had planned to write something today about a gifted Pennsylvania woman who communicates with animals, but it will have to wait until tomorrow or the next day because I am so wound up, so curious, about what happened yesterday (and is continuing to happen this morning). Maybe you can help me out.

Yesterday the Diary had more visitors than any other single day since I began posting entries in early January. More days, even, than when ABC’s Good Morning America and a couple other big media players ran stories about Jordan Brown and 250-300 people began visiting regularly while Jordan’s story heated up for a while. Until yesterday, that was the high water mark.

All day long I saw the numbers climb and climb because of John Wells’ posting of a story and link on his blogsite. By early afternoon over a thousand visitors had clicked in, and all I could think was, “Jeezus, how many people must be visiting John’s site if this many people are coming here?!”

According to the end-of-day tally, over 1,600 people visited yesterday. When I called John to thank him for linking so many people to the Diary, he didn’t know what I was talking about. According to his tracking software (and verified by mine), fewer than 350 people had clicked over from his site to mine. Obviously something else was (and is) going on. Those 300-some crossover visitors obviously told a lot of other people about this site and they in turn told others. It’s been going “viral.”

Now the numbers are gratifying, but I’d like to know what they mean and why they’re materializing.

One guy who follows John’s blog wrote to me from Florida, saying, “Well thanks to you I have gotten very little done today. I started reading, then decided to backtrack and start at the beginning of your entries for 2010. I must say I am intrigued with your writings and find myself agreeing with a lot of your views, especially when it comes to our present day state of affairs with society, government, and the demise of them.

”What grabbed my attention was your June 22nd post, ‘End of the Road.’ My (32-year-old son and I) were talking and he expressed the same views, almost word-for-word as Paco and Conor. I forwarded your entry to him and his response was: ‘WOW, where did you get this?’”

He closed his e-mail asking me to tell him more about The Runic Compass, and I agreed that I would.

This kind of information is very helpful to me, and I’d like to know what specific posts most grab your attention. Whether you are a new or old visitor, please consider leaving comments whenever (or if ever) the spirit moves you. I pore over each and every one to see what ideas happen to strike a chord among visitors.

And yes, if something does grab your attention, please share it with your friends and family. What I am already discovering is that like-minded, functioning communities have a way of growing around issues and ideas. For example, there is a visitor in Germany named Wolfgang who monitors the court docket in Pennsylvania for Jordan’s case and alerts me to additions and changes. From Germany, for gosh sakes! Wolfgang and I have had some wonderful conversations about all kinds of things which have nothing to do with our first reason for being in contact, which is Jordan’s wrongful treatment by Pennsylvania authorities.

If I can provide an hospitable space for visitors interested in the same issues and ideas I wish to explore, it is a pleasure and privilege to do so. It will be so much easier and more pleasurable with the help of your feedback.

Thank you for keeping me in your loop via your comments.


the “grub shack” cure

Yesterday’s ice cream therapy was just what the doctor ordered. I felt a little like an alcoholic at a bar slamming down shots as I ran through almost all of Eva’s stock of chocolate ice cream.

(“She’ll make more tonight,” Jerry reassured me. “If you don’t have chocolate, you’re out of ice cream.”)

The nicest and most unexpected thing that happened at the Grub Shack is I talked with a really cool new girl who moved out here from Los Angeles about four or five months ago. Her name is Carmen, and she is cool because she is so intelligent and apparently fearless… and, oh yes, very attractive, too.

Carmen is taking a two-year hiatus from her career as a high school English and American history teacher to figure out what she wants to do with her life. She is probably around thirty years old and obviously too talented for public education. “My students were lucky to have had me as their teacher,” she said without a hint of boastfulness or hubris. I believed her.

She said working as a teacher in California’s largest school district was frustrating and unfulfilling for her. She enjoyed her students but not the mindless bureaucracy which seemed bent on defeating the purpose of education—at least by her lights.

“But they’re getting exactly the result they want,” I said. I told her about John Taylor Gatto, a New York city and state “teacher of the year” who has repudiated compulsory public education, and has shown through the history of its development, that schooling in America is based on the 19th century Prussian model of education which was designed to turn out obedient and compliant soldiers and public officials who cannot and will not think for themselves. Carmen even knew the title of one of Gatto’s books, Dumbing Us Down. Like I said: she’s a bright bulb.

This is someone I want to have as a friend, I thought, and I invited her to join Val and me for our next movie night on Sunday. She didn’t say yes or no, just maybe. “Will you call me tomorrow and remind me?” she asked. I know she’s probably asking around town first to first make sure I’m not a creepy old guy trying to get her onto my remote property for evil deeds (girls can’t be too careful these days).

I bought Carmen dessert—the very last scoops of chocolate—after she finished inhaling her Grub Shack burger. When she left and there was no more chocolate (only “butter brickel,” whatever that is) I decided not to drive into town, bought three bags of ice, and returned home where I read one paragraph of a James Hilton novel, and fell asleep.

When I awoke two hours later, a refreshing breeze was blowing through the window next to my bed and flapping the flags surrounding my sleeping loft. It was a happy way to return to the waking world.

I’d just sat down the computer when a white pickup rumbled into the driveway. There were red “Field Lab” signs on the door. John Wells was surprising me with a visit. That comment in Wednesday’s posting that everybody but me was wearing “Field Lab” t-shirts had really gotten to him. He had endured our miserable road to get me into one of his t-shirts and take a picture to prove it.

“But John, you know the only reason I won’t wear one is because they have polyester in them,” I reminded him.

“Yeah, but only 10 percent,” he protested, and then switched the subject to the high-tech fabric paint he uses to print each shirt by hand.

“Oh, what the hell,” I said and posed for his damned picture, which is posted today at You have to admire the guy’s relentless energy, building his “brand” one person at a time.

John also posted a link from his blog to the Diary, and not to suggest your readership has been insignificant, but today’s spike in traffic has flatlined all the ups and downs I have been monitoring and charting in detail for the last several weeks. Until now, someone has literally had to have died and some poor kid has had to have been in the slammer for this much traffic to find its way to the Diary.

I like this better and laughed out loud. It’s more in keeping with the Peaceable Kingdom I wish to see.


moody me

Today I am just not in the mood to write, yet write I must. When I decided to launch this site, it was part of the deal that I would exercise the self discipline to write something every day about whatever is on my mind. I call myself a writer, after all.

Even when the days are blazing hot and accomplishing much of anything real is impossible, if I manage to get a few paragraphs down, I can still look back on each day as having been productive.

But today feels different. I am resigned to just call the game and declare the day a waste. I have to run down to town for some ice and a little food. Maybe I’ll watch a movie. Maybe I’ll read a book. But one thing I won’t do is prattle on about nothing.

Hell, there’s home made chocolate ice cream waiting at the Grub Shack. That’s a whole lot better than nothing.


peaceable kingdom

Last night I looked down at my feet, where Sadie was sleeping beneath the desk with the two kittens. The peaceful scene of dogs and cats happily sleeping together, living together, eating out of the same food bowl at the same time, playing together, got me to thinking about the art of Edward Hicks (1780–1849), a Quaker preacher, artist, and sign painter who made his living decorating carriages, furniture, and household items.

Hicks is best known for a succession of paintings depicting the theme of The Peaceable Kingdom, of which he did sixty-one versions. These paintings represent the messianic prophecy of Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Hicks derived the composition, a popular nineteenth-century Bible illustration, from an engraving after a drawing by the English artist Richard Westall. The theme of a peaceable community of animals, with predators in repose with their prey, was one often used at the time as a political metaphor, and was adapted by Hicks himself to show the theme of peace.

I have thought of Hicks’ images often as I’ve observed our animals interacting at Estrella Vista and wonder to what degree we are responsible for their happiness. I’ve begun researching this question and have already turned up some fascinating information which I will share with you as I learn more.

In the meantime, enjoy these iconic images which are a reminder of an ideal we are pursuing here.



This posting is so overdue considering that John Wells was my first new friend out here. John was my first visitor and dinner guest at Estrella Vista a few days after we moved in. He delivers sun-baked cookies every Christmas. Whenever our paths cross at the Grub Shack, he is my lunch partner.

John is director of the Southwest Texas Alternative Energy and Sustainable Living Field Laboratory, a one-man enterprise in which John is the chief researcher and sole guinea pig. The title sounds grand, and John has impressive business cards and has everybody around here but me wearing “Field Lab” t-shirts, but the fact is, The Field Lab is mainly a cow, John, and a figment of his sly sense of humor.

John is an artist and former New York City fashion photographer who found his way out to West Texas about three years ago, initially drawn here by Abe’s and Josie’s website which chronicled their off-the-grid experiences (

He bought a large parcel of land about eight miles from our place and lives there alone with a pet Longhorn cow named Benita (immortalized on this postage stamp) whom he coddles and spoils like a pretty girlfriend, all the while designing, creating, and perfecting brilliant technology systems for sustainable, off-the-grid living. He has put up a small house, windmills and solar collectors, solar hot water systems, a solar oven, etc., etc., all of it beautifully conceived and crafted.

John has a blogsite of his own at, the success of which certainly dwarfs mine and probably Abe’s and Josie’s site and anyone else’s out here, as well. I love John and admire everything he’s doing, but to tell you the truth, I am challenged whenever I visit his blog because it makes me feel like such a slug. John is always working, whereas I am more, um, relaxed. Visiting his site usually leaves me exhausted just thinking about all the effort he expends. Reading John’s blog is like doing isometric exercises.

Please give yourself a workout and visit John’s blog. You might even enjoy it enough to order a t-shirt.


end of the road

I must have spent more than eight hours on the phone yesterday talking with only two people: Paco and Paul’s brother Conor. I have trouble remembering which conversation was which, the content and opinions were so much alike. It should have been a single conference call. A good time would have been had by all.

The thing I find so remarkable is that these two young men, both creatives—one in his late thirties and the other in his late twenties—has each in his own way come to the same conclusion: that our old way of life has come to an end and we are on the threshold of a period of revolutionary, disruptive change. One is ready for it, one is not, but both are resigned to it and looking for opportunity in the change.

Both are convinced that the game is rigged, that no government at any level exists for any reason but the enslavement and exploitation of the people, and that there are no reasons but coercion and self-interest to ever comply with government in any way. They see that the whole political, economic, and legal system we have now is unsustainable. They believe it is falling apart before our eyes. They say their friends believe the same in varying degrees.

There is a quickening sentiment in the air favoring radical change. There is growing disregard for authority which has undermined its worthiness by its own actions. The young do not trust their elders to do the right thing; they expect them to do wrong.

Are Paco and Conor representative of a trend of thinking within a whole cohort of young people, or a reflection of the kinds of personalities with whom I most enjoy spending my time? I think it is more a case of the former than the latter.

Informed opinion among the young has reached a tipping point. Authority does not impress them. Authority, they say, has perpetrated gigantic, endemic, and persistent fraud. They know power and authority rely on their followership and compliance, and they’re not going along or following anymore (if they ever did, which I doubt).

Both these guys are “failed products” of our schools. The schools never did succeed in extinguishing their creativity and independence nor in breaking their spirit. They are self-directed, energetic, brilliant people with much to contribute.

They’ll do it their way, though. These are no lemmings. They are disenfranchised by the system and the status quo, and disdainfully dismissive of it.

They and others like them are our greatest hope.


summer solstice

It will probably give you some insight to my psyche when I tell you that whereas I observe the summer solstice, I have never celebrated it. The winter solstice is my day for celebrating the great turning of the year from darkness to light, a metaphorical day of renewed hope. But the summer solstice?

If I were one of those folks who live mainly in the here-and-now, maybe the summer solstice would be my day. But I habitually project so much and am always anticipating what’s next.

So what’s next in the days following this?

Shorter days and longer nights and—after enough of them—days dominated by dark and cold.

(And here I go again, bringing myself down on a perfectly lovely day which should more rightly be a cause for joy. It is a sunny and balmy day outside, the so-called First Day of Summer, but I am already shivering inside.)

If only I were living more in the moment! Instead, I am wasting the potential of this day thinking of things to come someday, things not yet real, yet foreboding and alive in my imagination.

I must remind myself that this day is the reward and fulfillment of the winter solstice’s promise and that in the wholeness of things it diminishes the significance of the winter solstice if I do not actualize today’s potential.

Yeah, that’s the point:

Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today
And don’t worry ’bout tomorrow, hey, hey, hey
Sha-la-la-la-la-la, live for today.

Hear the Grass Roots perform their 1967 summer hit.



PS: The 2010 summer solstice actually occured last night at 9:48 EDT.