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44. WHAT TO DO?

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THE METER IS RUNNING
After becoming acquainted with my Russian Hill neighborhood and beginning to 'climatize' myself to city life, 'the meter was running.'  I had a great apartment but no income.  I needed to find a way to support myself.

I come from a family of teachers: my dad was a teacher as was my mom.  My brother was a professor and my sister-in-law had been a junior high teacher.  Even several of my cousins were teachers.  But, oddly, I had never thought of being a teacher and hadn't been comfortable when I had attempted to do so.

So, I arrived in the city determined not to teach.  I was desperate to find a job that wasn't repugnant to me.

'PLAN A'
I did have an inkling of a plan.  The city is a place of commerce and I thought maybe that's where my future lie.  As a graduate student and when I was teaching at Happy Valley, I experimented with woodworking and building very simple furniture... 


The idea had been to keep the design simple and fu…

43. RAW MATERIAL

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INTO THE UNKNOWN

I had come to a dead-end in Ojai.  I was naive and inexperienced.  In the summer of 1973, I packed up and moved to San Francisco.  As a 28-year-old, I had much catching up to do.
I arrived in the city as a blank slate...with no 'game plan', no place to live, and no job prospects.

I had only one immediate thought in mind...to find someplace to live.  And as I knew nothing of San Francisco neighborhoods and districts, I had no idea of where to begin to look.  But I did have help in the person of one friend...and that was enough...


ALAIN

Alain had moved to 'The City' three years before---after leaving Jon and I at our little ashram in Meiners Oaks.  He was giving lectures on spiritual life, teaching music and piano, as well as beginning a practice in homeopathy.

Being cosmopolitan, Alain was city-savvy in general, and San Francisco-savvy in particular.  His knowledge was an incredible resource: he knew good shops and businesses throughout the city---like great …

42. 'You MUST move to a city! ...ANY city!'

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GINA AND GEORGE
Among the lay teachers with whom I became friends, a social studies teacher named Gina became closest.  She and her husband, George, lived not far from where I lived in Meiners Oaks, in a little cottage near the highway from Ventura.  It was decorated with tons of macrame holding hanging plants and other standard 1960s-70s hippie decor.  They occasionally would invite me over for dinner and conversation.  
Gina was plump, short, round...and congenial.  George was thin, tall, angular...and aloof.  He parted his dark hair in the middle and pulled it back into a ponytail.  George was odd.  He said he was a writer but I never saw anything he wrote.  I don't know what he did, if anything, to make a living.  He was a great conversationalist.  He liked being the devil's advocate; his conversations were off-the-wall and full of the unexpected.  We three could go on well into the night discussing just about anything that came to mind.


TRIBUTE TO 'SHANGRI-LA'
In 1971…

41. 'SOMMELIER-ING' AT THE RANCH HOUSE

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THE RANCH HOUSE RESTAURANT
I was still scraping for cash and my friend Alan Hooker hired me as a wine steward at his magical and unique restaurant, The Ranch House.  This was particularly handy since it was only a couple of blocks from where I lived.  I simply walked over to work in the afternoons and evenings.

Other than fretting and sweating about properly decanting and pouring $250 (in 1972!) split bottles of 1959 Chateau Lafite Rothschild to the demanding rich and celebrities, it was an ideal job.

THE RANCH HOUSE 'CLAN'
The Ranch House was like family...with Alan and Helen Hooker the patriarch and matriarch of the clan.  They were transplanted Midwesterners...Alan had been a jazz musician, then a baker, and Helen had been a school teacher.  Both were drawn to Ojai to be near Krishnamurti. The Ranch House started as a kind of spiritual boarding house for attendees gathering to hear Krishnamurti's talks.   Alan and Helen prepared and served them wholesome meals.

Preparing m…

40. BACK TO TEACHING...again

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ALAIN'S 'PUSH'
Even having had a teaching assistantship in graduate school and having taught at Happy Valley School, I never felt comfortable teaching.  It had always been 'a fish out of water' sensation.  But I did feel I might have something to offer others in some capacity.
I had talked about these things with Alain, my mentor, when we lived in our 'ashram' together with Jon.  Alain suggested that I become a teacher; he seemed to feel it was my calling...but I wasn't at all comfortable with the notion. 
I didn't have a deep interest in it at this point, nor did I feel ready to begin.  Any time he would mention it I got cold feet.  I felt incredibly ill-prepared to take on the task.  Alain said there would never be a time I would 'feel ready'...'Just dive in!  You'll be a splendid teacher.'  Hmmm...?

GETTING MY FEET WET

I was getting to know the community...as well as those who were interested in the arts.  I had a small show of…

39. OUR CAMPING SAGA TO OREGON AND BACK, PART 3

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THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE
The Gorge and the scenic Columbia River Highway was incredible...beautiful vistas, verdant forests, and, it seemed, scores of waterfalls along the highway.  I, of course, stopped and got out every quarter of a mile along the way while the other two indulged me...


We found a camping spot along the way.


OREGON'S GIANT KILLER MOSQUITOS
In the campground, we came upon Oregon's ferocious, giant killer mosquitos.  These were the most determined, meanest mosquitos that any of the three of us had ever encountered.  They were black and white striped...like criminals.

Safely screened inside, we could hear them frantically buzzing over our heads, and see them knawing at our tents...desperate to get in for supper.   We helplessly watched their stingers penetrating the fabric.

After we set up camp, those criminals confined us to our tents for the rest of the day and night.  Every time we ventured outside, we were attacked by a swarm of hungry, blood-suckers.  We had …

38. OUR CAMPING SAGA TO OREGON AND BACK, PART 2

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UP THE COAST
From Monterey, we drove along Highway One above San Francisco and stayed in a little campground near Jenner, where the Russian River meets the Pacific.  From there, we drove to Mendocino, but when got there we could find no place to camp.  We just kept going until we found a dirt road along the highway that seemed to go nowhere.  We decided to go up it and set up camp for the night.

THE ATTACK OF 'WILD BOARS'...and other varmints

We each got our tents set up and readied ourselves to sleep.  We set up camp above a creek from which we could hear friendly gurgles.  In the middle of the night, however, we were awakened by violent splashing and the hollow clatter and clacking of river stones down in the creek...then the screeches of angry, or rabid, creatures fighting.  It sounded like a pack of wild boars and they seemed to be heading our way.  I jumped out of my tent and locked myself in Sue's station wagon.
Soon after, Sue and Richard came frantically banging on …