I've been a stalwart of this Men's Group for many years now, although I was not present at its inception.

When I moved back to Portland and sought friendship, twas the regional Gathering of Western Young Friends to which I felt attracted. Such beautiful people (Pan, Kate...). I still think so.

However by now, in my late fifties, versus late twenties, I've shifted gears, and it's with these old farts and geezers, half of us dead, that I hang out with at Big Bear Camp, once a year.

This weekend, for me, was a lot about being a tourist in my home state of Oregon. As a person born in Chicago, with memories mostly starting here, but away overseas from 3rd grade until well after college (overseas includes New Jersey, Cairo, Rome, Manila and more, not necessarily in that order), I'm not nearly as familiar with the territory as some of these other Quaker men.

Their knowledge of history, geography, ethno-botany, far exceeds mine. Wesley's lunch, a detailed introduction to local foods, from olive oil to salmon to hazelnut and stinging nettle pesto, was a total eye opener.

Much of the time, I had my head in a book, a peek into the Castaneda family by the widow.  She's no slouch as a writer and as "something else" (between outright lie and factual truth) I'd circle "encryption" (in itself a full spectrum). A Magical Journey with Carlos Castaneda, by Margaret Runyan Castaneda (Millenia Press, Victoria BC, 1997).

One wishes to tell a story, but not lay it all bare, as it's not a confession or admission of anything.  Do we always assume the anonymous reader is entitled to unearned access?  From innocence, one may play with the truth in order to share a deeper truth.  Is that true?  People do encrypt, as well as obfuscate and confabulate.

I'd set a goal ahead of time to out myself more explicitly this time, rogue that I am, as practicing Subgenius and Pastafarian, as well as Quaker.

In closing worship, I expressed gratitude for being a spaghetti strand (scenario) in partially overlapping scenario Universe (spaghetti ball).  "Ra-men" quipped one of the elders.

Somewhere around Munroe, Joe and I, not driving, reconnected to the grid. Within minutes, I was babbling in the back seat regarding the issues some were having on Forum 206 with Gulen schools, charter schools run by a Sufi sect, even more controversial in Turkey.

Joe started  telling us everything we needed to know about zirconium.

Our driver was amazed at how Cyberia makes easy the asking of all questions, like some Delphic oracle. Just ask Her.

One of my other readings this weekend was The Gift: Poems by Hafiz The Great Sufi Master, translations by Daniel Ladinsky (Penguin Compass, 1999).

We're not all as old as I'm making out, with some definitely younger, and others bordering on ageless. Check our outreach listserv for more insights into our subculture.  Maybe you'd like to join us some year? Watch for the flyer.

March 12 or close thereto is when we meet, the week before St. Patrick's Day, at the very beginning of Spring in these parts (snow fell in the area as recently as a week ago).

As always, we devoted considerable time to reminiscing, and thinking of men who couldn't make it this year. We also focused our attention on people undergoing procedures. Marty in particular was on our minds. He'd just blogged what it was like undergoing brain surgery.

Our group includes both war veterans and conscientious objectors, and descendants thereof. We talked and thought about war a lot, and how best to forestall outward, in favor of inward, struggles.  What good news might we share? These are perennial Quaker queries.

I yakked about my "Truckistan Project" a form of science fiction I'm nurturing to move in the direction of reality. Some call this process "investment banking" I pointed out.  Truckers of the world exchange routes, for academic credit (the program is about more than hauling loads).

Wes went to seminary school in Boston, was a Quaker pastor, lived in Hawaii for many years. He seems the quintessential indigenous Oregonian to me. He knew the mussels were plentiful thanks to the starfish die off, but maybe the latter were coming back?  As it is, we enjoyed the mussels he'd hand picked, his allotted portion.

His folks were of the Gurneyite persuasion, whereas many of us North Pacific Yearly Meeting types would brand ourselves refugees from that branch. The Bean family escaped Iowa Yearly Meeting to found College Park Association in California.  Our Willamette Quakers grew from Beanite roots in many ways.

Another topic of discussion were some of the controversies engaging the attention of other branches of Friends. Northwest Yearly Meeting is different from ours. That doesn't mean we don't track or care about their internal debates.

I'm not the expert though.  In gatherings such as this I'm more taking mental notes as the observing ethnographer.  Many elders have a stronger grasp of specific narratives. I chime in with jigsaw puzzle pieces, hoping to find out where they go.

I had the little yurt to myself. Having soaked my socks through, I decided to dry them on the wood stove, a stupid mistake, as they charred and set off the smoke alarm. I confessed to camp management that some "sock juice" remained on the burner. Hal assured me he could burn it off.

Hal really enjoyed getting my multi-national life story this time and by the end was telling Tonia we were a CIA family. I appreciate where he was coming from on that, however as good Quakers, we never aspired to proselytize for the USG in that way.  Dad was freelance, a planner, mom an activist. My parents did get to meet the Applewhites that time.

I don't think I left anything behind this year.

Once back in Portland, I was eager to lookup Glenn and have a beer, our WQM Men's Group being alcohol free by tradition. He'd scored more Good Will finds (where he scours for books).

A proto-Phoenician civilization connected South America to Crete.  You had to know the wind currents.  Many did (relatively few, but enough to crew whatever ships).

I could picture Bucky Fuller reading this stuff in the 1960s, when it first came out, and weaving it into Critical Path, his unique mytho-poetic (encrypted?) version of world history (in some sections).

Bucky was as much an exile as Castaneda in some ways, a pariah, somewhat given a bad name by psychedelic culture. I write more about that elsewhere.

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