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34. THE MAGIC PEN...and 'the beginning of a beautiful friendship'

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THE MAGIC PEN


It happened that everything changed one day when I dropped into the local Ojai Village Drug store and surveyed a shiny glass counter case full of pens.  My eye landed on a fancy box with a beautiful blue fountain pen inside!  It was a Sheaffer Snorkel pen (so named because it had a retractable metal snorkel in the nib through which the pen could be filled with ink).

It was one of the most beautiful pens I'd ever seen...and it was glistening in a delectable rich blue with which I could not do without...and the fact that it was a fountain pen in an age of ballpoints made it all the more enticing.


And the drug store itself was of a different era and definitely in a different time zone...the Twilight Zone.  To give you an idea of how fast merchandise moved in this display case...this pen was brand new...but Sheaffer had stopped manufacturing the model ten years before.  It had been waiting for years for me to come in and find it!

The pen was a classic
With just a twist …

33. THE INCOMPARABLE BEATRICE WOOD, PART 2

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THE 'MAMA OF DADA'
Beatrice was sharp, quirky, and interesting...fun to be around and, consequently, people naturally were drawn to her.

Beatrice was known to many as 'Beato'.  She took that name after her close friend Rosalind Rajagopal’s daughter, Radha, was unable to pronounce ‘Beatrice’ and so, called her ‘Beato.’  Beatrice began signing her work that way and it stuck...



I never once called her 'Beato'.  Perhaps it was partly out of respect, but I always preferred to address her by her given name, 'Beatrice.'  To me, that name fit her perfectly.  And she always signed her letters to me...'Beatrice'.

Beatrice had a wonderful shaded garden with a koi pond.  She had chaise lounges, chairs, and umbrellas in several sheltered areas that visitors could languish in if they chose...though Beatrice herself never seemed to.  I enjoyed going into the garden and doing pen & ink drawings of it.



(left photo) To the right of Marcel Duchamp, the edge of …

32. ODD JOBS...AND THE INCOMPARABLE BEATRICE WOOD, PART 1

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These were golden times.  Left to myself, my days were my own.  I studied, relaxed, and took many walks.  I went up into the nearby hills to lie in the warm sun when it wasn't too hot.


ODD JOBS
Though my situation required very little income in order to live, I did need a minimum to get bare necessities as well as what little luxuries I might want.  And so, I took on various small odd jobs.  And they happened to be interesting.

My first job was just in the evenings...I sold and collected tickets as well as took care of the snack bar and anything else that needed doing at our local cinema, The Glasgow Playhouse.  That also allowed me to see movies for free.  The job left my days free to do my editing work and study.


Later on, I took on a job helping a local craftsman, Roy Patton, paint faux wood grain on metal garage doors as well as do detailed cabinet painting in enamel.  Roy was a local fixture and a superb, sought-after craftsman.

He had begun a career in the 1930s carving amazin…

31. AN ASHRAM OF TWO, and then...

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THREE MINUS ONE
Alain was cosmopolitan; at heart, he was a city person.  For Jon and me, our life in the little hamlet of Meiners Oaks was perfect because we could live inexpensively, organizing our lives as we wanted, and yet fulfill our draft obligations.  Jon had six months left of his service and I had a year.

Meanwhile, Alain was getting restless.  He wanted to move on, doing what he felt he was called to do.  His time with us was a hiatus in the flow of a life that was more established than ours, and the village environment was too confining and limited for his spirit.   He left Meiners Oaks to settle in San Francisco and carry on.


NOT EXACTLY THE BOLSHOI
After Alain left, Jon and I continued our editing duties with the Theosophical ecological newsletter.  We had our independent studies and did various odd jobs to get by financially.  Alain was the glue that had held us all together.  With him gone, the two of us didn't have as much in common and, consequently, did not share a…

30. THE RUDIMENTS OF BEING CIVILIZED

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ALAIN'S MENTORING
Alain was concise and articulate as well a playful and funny.  He took great pleasure in lightly teasing me...and I always was game for it.  I could see its truth as well as its humor.  He was a natural teacher and mentor at heart, and when the three of us created our little ashram it was natural that he would mentor me.

Though I had a university education, even a graduate degree; though I had some skills in art and music; and though I could write and articulate my ideas, none of that was enough.  There was an emptiness I felt...something was missing...I wanted my life to blossom and flower.

I was determined to lead a quality life...a life of goodness rather than selfishness, to pursue excellence rather than material pleasure, and to create and surround myself with beauty...however humble.

But where to begin...?


THE RUDIMENTS OF BEING CIVILIZED
I told Alain of my dilemma.  This percolated between us for some time...days, weeks...I don't remember.  He said he w…

29. A PURPOSE IN COMMON

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MAKING THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE
The three of us shared a common spiritual bond.  We shared a common vision of creating a more compassionate, sane, and intelligent world...a world of beauty.  And we felt a personal responsibility in doing so.
We were focused on leading well-rounded, integrated, and healthy lives, and by doing so, creating a better world.  That was what our ashram was about.

Our shared experience with Krishnamurti and his insight certainly was an impetus for this bond.
Alain...being older, more mature, and more experienced...focused on sharing with others, through teaching, writing, and giving talks, the knowledge, skills, and wisdom he had gained.  Jon and I were young and callow...studying, learning, and developing...searching for the knowledge and skills we would need to make a difference, and finding our place in life.

Alain was a mentor and an example...

ALAIN
Alain had a clipped British accent...more accurately, a South African accent which had a very distinctive i…