Monday, October 04, 2010

You Can Learn Something New Every Day

Near Tulsa is a place called the "Forest of Peace."  It used to be the Osage Monastery but the sisters retired.  For years it was an "ashram" - Roman Catholic with an Asian twist.  One goes there for a retreat.  There are cabins and a main building with a chapel.  Everyone eats together - vegetarian.  There are "services" three or four times a day -an hour of meditation and some Buddhist hymns.  It's situated in the middle of a forest.  You park your car in beween trees. 

I've gone there off and on for about 27 years and I just love it even though I'm not catholic.  My friend, Mary, who is Catholic, goes there for Mass on Sundays as well as going there on retreat.  She invited me to go with her for a special evening of music and food last night.  An awesome evening it was - the two singers (jazz) who performed in the chapel, had their own unusual style - every song was arranged in a minor key and the instruments came from garage sales - accordion, mandolin, xylophone, etc.  Incredibly lovely.  I loved the crowd too.  There were a couple of young families with kids of different races than the parents.  Since that's how my family looks and I rarely see any families like mine, I loved it.  Plus everyone was nice to everyone else - not always the case in a crowd.  I saw my massage therapist and a man who was in one of my classes.  I thought, "This is a group I could hang out with and be comfortable."

I went to bed early and slept like a baby in my little bare cabin.  When I got dressed and went to the main building in the morning, my friend, Mary, was talking to a visiting priest named Father John.  He is very old and very wise.  He told us a story about a hitchhiking hobo he picked once upon a time.  The guy was young - in his 20s - and had gone to school at Yale.  At some point he decided to become a professional hobo and drop out of society.  He had been doing this successfully for several years.  He shared his secrets with the priest - I guess because priest are supposed to keep secrets. 

Now here's the part where I learned something useful.  If I ever become a bag lady, I will need to know this stuff.  How do you get a free cup of coffee?  Go to a little neighborhood diner (chain restaurants don't work).  If coffee is 50 cents, put a quarter on the counter and ask for half a cup.  They will give you a full cup for free.  If you want a free meal, order and pay for a cup of coffee.  Strike up a conversation with the cook and tell him/her that you're broke but if he/she drops anything on the floor, instead of throwing it out, put it on a plate and you'll eat it.  They'll give you a free meal.  Hitching or riding the rails will get you where you want to go but if you want a little higher class transportation, go to the airport and go to the area where the private planes are.  Strike up a conversation and ask if you can ride along to wherever they're going.  (It costs them nothing since they're going there anyway.)    Most of the time they will say yes.  So, food and transportation are taken care of but where will you sleep?  The best places are hospitals, he said.  There's usually an empty gurney in emergency rooms they will let you use.  Cool!  Beats homeless shelters and doorways over grates!

Learn something useful every day

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