Friday, February 01, 2008

Two Days With A Friend

It snowed some more at my house. This is my view to the southwest.

I waited until the weather reports gave me permission to leave my hill. There was a good deal of snow along the route and roads didn't improve until reaching the Valley. Interstate 5 was clear though, and the rest of the journey was a breeze. Jeremy and I had planned this time together for some weeks and I really wasn't up to suffering a disappointment. The plan was for us to meet at the Abbey and then we would head up to the hills, to the Milk Ranch on the Abiqua. I am about to lay down some tracks in the freshly laid blanket.

In about 2 1/2 hours, I was at my destination. The first time I saw this sign was in July of 1972. My vocation director, Larry McGovern, was scoping out an alternative seminary to St. Patrick's in Mtn. View, CA. I returned in September to begin what would wind up being over a nine year relationship with students, staff and an introduction to a phenomenon I had never yet heard about: Monasticism.

I left the scorching heat of the San Joaquin Valley on that July day in 1972 and landed at the Portland International Airport where it was cool and misting. In July. Yes. Father Adrian, the assistant Dean of Studies and Father Anselm, the prior of the monastery at the time, were there to meet me. Anselm would become Abbot not long after our first meeting. The new bell tower is last year's addition and smacks of all the beautiful towers I saw in Italy. After a quick tour of the new digs, Jeremy and I headed for the hills.

This is St. Anselm's Hall. It housed a high school on the third floor and us undergrads on the second. The first floor was administration and classrooms. My Greek class was comprised of me, Steve Obersinner and Father Gregory. That's it. The larger classes were stuffed with upwards of a dozen students. I felt lost in those large classes.

Along the way to the Milk Ranch, I snapped this shot of one of the many hopyards that border the Abbey's edges.

This is the place. On the walls of the house are pictures of some of the monks who worked the farm around the early 1900s.

I cooked dinner and we supped well on pasta and sliced tomatoes and red onions in balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

I brought Big Night. Jeremy had not seen it. Here I am spying on Stanley Tucci and Isabella Rossallini after a sordid romp behind Mini Driver's back. Those Italians!

The last time I had been at the Milk Ranch was as a monk of Mt. Angel. They still had two of my pots. I was touched. Inside this one was a used dryer sheet. Not having remembered putting it in there, I removed it.

My signature at the time.

We rose none too early and I prepared a frittata, coffee and toast for breakfast. My mother and father and grandparents would slide the frittata out of the pan and onto a plate to be then inverted in the pan for finishing the top. One day I just said heck with it and tried an idea that I now see routinely demonstrated on Food Network: You slide the pan under the broiler to finish it off. Lots easier and the surface looks so beautiful. We prayed Divine Office at the table after eating and later celebrated Mass in the small downstairs bedroom converted into a chapel. It was easy to fall into the role of acolyte again. And it felt good. This day marked one month to the day that Jeremy's father, Dick Driscoll died. We celebrated Month's Mind with Dick very much in mind. I knew Dick well and loved his every wrinkle of being. A funny, funny man who would call out from the bathroom nearly every morning after waking, "Oh my God, it happened again! I got better looking while I slept." Me, he referred to as "The Little Devil" and Jeremy said that Dick often asked what his son had heard lately from The Little Devil.

Here's a shot of The Little Devil at table with Dick Driscoll's son.

I took this picture with my new picturer, and I love it.

We were sort of hoping we'd get snowed in.

We were somehow able to plow our way out and we returned to The Hill. This is the monastery's laundry building. Novices get to do the laundry for the entire house and it is in this room that I spent my first year as a monk after changing my affiliation from the Diocese of Stockton to the monastery of Mt. Angel Abbey. My bishop was not too happy. I really didn't understand that. Vocations aren't from whim, you know.

Jeremy and I then walked back to St. Joseph's Hall where Brother Claude Lane has his studio. As we approached, Claude was writing an icon.

In Claude's studio is this piece which we all three collectively named, "Jesu Sub Tavala" or "Jesus Under The Table." We decided that Jesu Sub Tavala would be the Patron Saint of all those who labored for cash without paying taxes. Hey, someone's gotta support those folks.

Speaking of working under the table, Claude proudly displays his new shipment of "Community Coffee" which comes from another Benedictine house which may or may not be reporting their income from bean sales. Being not so sure, I don't want to burn their name, but the fact that they put chickory in their blend, can narrow it down from there. Claude and I were trying to explain to Jeremy the importance of Scarlett Johannson to film. You can see the edge of her IMDB filmography on the computer screen. We kept trying to describe Lost In Translation, but trying to describe Scarlett Johannson to a brilliant theologian is like trying to describe chickory in coffee to a tea drinker. Or something like that. A rare serious pose from Claude, you can see just how firmly he feels about that coffee and chickory. So do I. And I am not smiling as I say so.

Here Claude is basically saying he has no idea why his icons are so unbelievably, utterly beautiful. Okay, he didn't really say that, but they are. So is he. Not to mention being one of the funniest persons I have ever met. Claude introduced me to Mississippi John Hurt and Bo Carter and the Mississippi Sheiks. No one has heard of the latter. When Jeremy and I arrived, the former was playing on the stereo. Okay, he knew we were coming, but it was fitting.

If Claude cared to leave a comment, he could explain all that's going on in this icon he wrote, "The Giving Of The Rule." It was done for a Carmelite house. That little flower growing there means something. Claude said what it meant. But I am old now and cannot remember.

Here we are.

And there's the former Brother Gawpo, front row center.


At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 4:53:00 AM PST , Blogger Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

What a pleasant way to wake up on a Saturday morn! You leave NOTHING to our imaginations. It is like we are walking beside you brother Po!
You know, the frittata story held my attention long after the sentence had lingered in the mind, with me going over all frittata alternatives and eventually digressing that yes, your idea had to be the best. Broiler.
Your sense of humour is by far so subtle and highly intelligent it blows my mind. Write a book. Not just a blog, a book. Get on it. Now. Go. And I am not smiling when I say that.
I can almost see your face as you remove the dryer sheet from the piece of pottery. Priceless.
I agreed wholeheartedly about vocations, you are right, they are not whims, and those who allow themselves to be disappointed or angry at anothers vocations, needs a vacation.
Sending you much love, and I hope you enjoyed the storm as much as I did. I may go purchase some snow shoes, as right now I am sinking up to the knee as I walk next door for my morning coffee.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 4:55:00 AM PST , Blogger Gillian @ Indigo Blue said...

MIght I also add what a delightful little devil you looked, front row center. Viccance will go nuts for this photo. How cute are you?????

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 5:18:00 AM PST , Blogger Katie McKenna said...

I enjoyed your sharing , loved all the pictures as well as the tale. thank you.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 5:50:00 AM PST , Blogger Nessa said...

So wonderful and beautiful, Gawpy. I always wanted to be monk, but something, I can't quite remember now what, prevented it.

The icons are amazing.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 6:41:00 AM PST , Blogger somewhere joe said...

Good Gravy, Marie! With a face like that no monastery in the would could have held you for long. Unless, by papal edict, you were held under house arrest to model for Michelangelo Caravaggio.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 8:55:00 AM PST , Blogger Pam Aries said...

WEll.I'll be darn! I learned a whole lot about you today! The photos are wonderful. I agree with all Gillian had to say...heh heh..She is my Canadian sidekick!..I guess when I move to Oregon..I better put snow tires on the old VDUB bus!

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:00:00 AM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

Dear BLEUX: Yes. I see you there. Standing there: Right hand on hip, left elbow tucked, forefinger bouncing, right eye winked, left one in a squint, lips pursed, left foot tapping out dah-di-di-dit, dah-dah-dah, dah-dah-dah, dah-di-dah. And all of it--even the body language--in Jewish Motherese. Bubula copies. Bubula digs the love.

And I love this side-by-side walk we all take here in B-land. It is in many ways salvific for me, though you wouldn't want to gauge that by frequency of postings.

Just make sure the pan has a handle that won't burn. But you know that. My fave is the 12" castiron skillet I use for the dozen-egger, along with broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and zucchini, all slightly steamed off "just so" ahead of time. Clue: tons of freshly grated Romano whipped into the eggs or it will burn under the Gawpo finishing technique. Even so, enough will be available to lend to the lovely brown. Now make it poof like a souffle, Girlfren.

Snowshoes are in order this very morn. I am in Dutch with Cindra as her forecast said snow and mine said, "Don't worry about it." Well, it's white out there. I hope she doesn't log on from the hotel, cuz she's here in town. It's falling off the trees like meat off chicken after 8 hours in a crock pot, so I'm sure she'll be fine. (gulp...)

Dear BLEUX: Yes, our beloved Viccance is a sucker for old photos and we know this. This will be a welcome tickle. And I am so happy you could see it. I share with my favorite peeps.

La KATIE: Speaking of sharing, you are at the top of the heap with your lovely pics and poems, my Dear. Glad you liked.

NESSIE: Gawpy seems to recall that, at the time, we were full. I should have sent you a wire when I left. I hear my replacement prays all too much and they were hoping for something lighter. Dang. Oh well. Next life? (D'oh! That was so un-R.C. of me.)

JEAUX: Yes, I am afraid my Sicilian ancestors have invaded my body and snatched all but the mouth. That is actually what one of my classmates said to me at the 30th. "Well, yeah. The mouth looks the same." Knowing the power structure, I am certain the Abbot would have felt compelled to release me to the Papal wishes and I would have been sitting there, tacked to a ceiling in a pose for Michelangelo or getting knocked from a horse and falling on the ground, over and over and over, for Caravaggio. Posing for masters has to be a tough gig. You could still do it, Man. Oh yeah, you could.

PAMMERS: More than happy to share with such fineness. Get the studs on them tires, Honey. Cuz it's cold outside---and white---once again! Snow is actually rather rare in this clime. We just got a heavier share this year. You won't be bothered much, but will be a very short drive away from snow in the Mt. Hood area when you get here. So GET here, already!!!

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:46:00 AM PST , Blogger lime said...

it sounds like an absolutely wonderful time you and jeremy had, quiet, laid back, fun, reminiscing. i am sorry for his loss of his father and i hope the weekend was especially helpful and healing for him.

laughing at you getting lost in a class of a dozen!

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:49:00 AM PST , Blogger Van Dykes said...

Oh lordy, you were a handsome rogue, Mr. Gawpo. Gorgeous, even. I loved reading this - it was nice to go on this trip with you.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:55:00 AM PST , Anonymous quilly said...

Gawpo -- what a wonderful visit! Thanks for letting us share. I once had the privilege of staying at St. Andrew's Abbey in Valyermo, California. As I pulled off the main road and on to the Monastery grounds there was a sign that read, "Leave your cares at the gate." And as I passed through the gate and over the cattle guard, I knew I had driven into the presence of God. It isn't a feeling one can describe, but I am certain you know what I mean. I often get that same feeling whwn I walk into a church that's been around awhile and has a long history with God.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 12:32:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

LIMERS: You are, as Bazza would say, Spot On. Month's Mind came in handy and it was an honor to be able to celebrate the memory of Dick Driscoll together on that day.

SARAH: Why thank you, Ma'ame. Right nice of you to say so. I got my mother's looks when I was younger, my father's now that I am older. True story. Ha! Glad you could come along on the trip.

QUILLY: Well guess what, dear. Prior to entering the monastery at Mt. Angel, I did what's called an observership at Valyermo. Two of the Mt. Angel monks had parted company and fled to what they felt was a more contemplative setting. It's all what you do with you day, I found out. Nothing different except the Joshua trees. Both the monks later left St. Andrew's and fled to the south, to Christ In The Desert monastery. Now THAT sucker is remotely located, but as are all Benedictine houses, very much active in the apostolate for guests. I went there as well, just prior to observing at Valyermo. At the time I was there, a monk who had been one of Thomas Merton's novices offered me a position. You know, for try-outs. I have always wondered what that would have been like. I loved it there and want to return some day.

By the way, thank you, Quills. I had forgotten completely about the cattle guard. A line of demarcation to be sure. Did you happen to come away with any of Fr. Maur's pottery tiles?

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 3:02:00 PM PST , Anonymous Brooke said...

Thank you so much, G, for the glimpses into your most interesting life that you share with us. I, for one, appreciate it. But you know our family... we're a family of sharers! Great pictures, of course. And what a wonderfully fun and relaxing visit with a dear old friend. Take care and keep sharing more with us!

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 4:22:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

BWOOKIE: When you come, I will make us a pizza. Made one this morning and it's tuh DIE for, Sweet Hawt. Great ready to share. xo, G

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 8:27:00 PM PST , Blogger Claire said...

It's unbelievable to me that you haven't been snatched up by some hottie. You even cook! Oh lordy, lord... well your blog was a nice distraction for me today. I am grieving over the loss of my beloved old friend, Toby. A fine, hairy fellow he was, who now helps guard heaven.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 10:55:00 PM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

Oh, CLAIRE: Yeah. What gives? Can't say I'm really puttin' myself out there, though. And this being the rural scene that it is makes it even more difficult. Yeah, it would be nice to couple. I can count on both hand and both feet who will be at Mass tomorrow. Urban church has its advantages. So do urban social scenes. Neither exist within an hour's drive. Sigh....

I miss my Rhonda girl. She is no doubt chasing the ball with Toby. My friend Julie has a Toby. Yellow lab. I call him Tony. Doesn't even notice. Just want me to throw that ball. I hate when their lives give out. Are they just not the best people in the whole wide world, Claire? Sigh again....

Happy to distract you, Dear.

At Saturday, February 2, 2008 at 11:19:00 PM PST , Anonymous Brooke said...

Pizza? Oh, you're on! I can share well, I promise.

At Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 7:16:00 AM PST , Blogger mindy said...

i love that post. you were such a cutie then...(and still are)...dare i ask what is chickory?? and i had a feeling that was the moon in the previous post. really, i'm smart. i am. :)

At Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 11:45:00 AM PST , Blogger Gawpo said...

BWOOKIE: Cooking another one today. Dough is rising.

MINDANCE: Chickory is some weird weed that you southerners put in coffee for some reason. There used to be an instant coffee that had it. Can't remember what it was called though. You can definitely taste it in any cup of joe in New Orleans.

What a wild moonset, huh? Did you ever go to ? Do eeet!

At Sunday, February 3, 2008 at 8:01:00 PM PST , Blogger Cheesy said...

Mt. Angel=Oktoberfest!
Pass me a snasage!
Lovely post m'dear~~

At Monday, February 4, 2008 at 9:08:00 AM PST , Blogger AnnieElf said...

Can't wait to read this. I'll be back later. Meeting calling. Just as a by the way - Quanah plans to start taking classes there when he is settled - perhaps in the Fall. I'm happy. More about that later too.

At Monday, February 4, 2008 at 11:39:00 AM PST , Blogger mindy said...

i just went to kenrockwell...and wow.. i love the colors! and i read that no enhancement was done.. so, i can do this too.. texas does have some beautiful sunsets!! i will definately go back and read more. it's very helpful! thanks!

At Monday, February 4, 2008 at 4:49:00 PM PST , Blogger AnnieElf said...

Dear Jeremy, This post is a very touching blend of past and present. Thank you for introducing us to what WAS and to Claude's beautiful art work. And - weren't you just the total cutie in your class picture? Peace, Annie


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