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ZC Stories

Could be a lot go here. Not much yet. Tassajara Stories will be collected here, but also city and farm. Of course there are a lot all over cuke that can be linked to from here in time. - dc



8-05-14 - About thirteen years ago was driving a friend named Judy around Marin and Sonoma. After Green Gulch Farm we dropped by Peter and Wendy's in Muir Beach. My friend said that I'd been introducing her to the Buddhist scene in the North Bay and asked Peter if he had any advice. "Yeah," he said. "Beware of teachers." - DC

The Summer of 74 - Danny Parker

Cannabis Cookie Freak-out at Tassajara - by Loring Palmer

by Leland Smithson

          Zen Moires

          Spinoffs & Spin Backs

DC and fox at Tass

Dealing with Rowdy Guys at Tassajara

David Schneider Green Gulch Memories

Green Gulch First Visit - Barrie Mason remembers

A History of Green Gulch Farm by Mick Sopko

4-28-14 - Gomashio, sesame salt, at Tassajara

8-06-14 - Alan Marlow's Great Moment - Tassajara


11-05-14 - Bulgarian Salt Loaf - a Tassajara Story - DC

Mike Daft was cook for lunch, practice period, Tassajara early, 67 I think. He'd made the bread for lunch having come in before morning zazen to start the process. We cut some steaming slices straight out of the Wolf oven. Awful. He realized he'd put in cups of salt instead of tablespoons. The zazen period was just ending. Noon service would start in a minute. It was time to serve up and be ready to hit the lunch han and bring the serving pots and baskets out to the back table as black and grey-robed students took their seats, sat on their zafu in the zendo. Mike wondered if he should announce that lunch would be served without that course. There was no alternative. There were three bowls to fill. It had to be served. Annon* was on the lunch crew that day. He had a suggestion. Mike thought then nodded. In the silence of the zendo, after the first part of the meal chant but before the servers walked down the isles, Mike bravely announced, "Today's lunch features Bulgarian Salt Loaf." Later there were no complaints. Bulgarian Salt Loaf was, however, never served again.


* Annon is a particular person who does not wish to have his name used. We've got a few more stories from him.


11-08-14 - Learning to Unplug - A Green Gulch Story - In 1973 I was living at Green Gulch and, when I wasn't needed as Richard Baker's jisha, attendant, was working on converting a bull pen into a home where Dianne Goldschlag and soon to come baby and I would move. Ken Sawyer was converting the adjoining bull pen into a home for him, Elizabeth, and their soon to arrive baby. We'd acquired a massive table saw with a 17" blade set in a thick steel plate, a powerful motor beneath. I think it might have come from Michael Sawyer (rip). When the switch was hit, in an instant that motor turned the blade from sitting zero to a high pitch whirring blur of fierce slicing spin. Periodically I'd sharpen a blade on the saw, filing the leading edge of each tooth. To do this the blade had to be held stationary. I'd do that by placing a short piece of scrap wood on the table that the lowest visible tooth would dig into and holding the blade firmly with my left hand. As a standard precaution, all power tools are to be unplugged while working on them. I usually did that, but sometimes I'd forget cause I was distracted or in a hurry. One day I was ripping some 12 by 12 posts into small dimensions to be used in constructing windows. I loved that dark purple old virgin redwood, much denser and stronger than the new growth available at lumberyards. I kept the blade extra sharp for that job and stopped periodically to touch it up, quickly filing each tooth with my right hand with the left holding the blade firmly, not slowing down the process by using the wood piece or by unplugging. I'd just sharpened the blade when Marc Alexander walked into the shop to ask me a question. While I was answering him, suddenly that table saw spontaneously turned on shaking the table with explosive force as the blade burst into its deafening high RPM whine. We jerked our heads to see that inanimate object acting autonomously. I tried to turn it off. The switch was off. Had to unplug it. Marc was perplexed then nodded. "A short," he said. I was ashen, struck with the image of my hand gripping that blade moments before and vowed never again to work on an electric contraption without unplugging it.


11-09-14 - One day at Tassajara Howie Klein was standing on the bridge by the dining room gazing out toward the creek. I walked up and said, "Nice view," we should take a picture of it. "Yeah," he replied, "Have to come back and see it sometime." - DC


11-14-14 - Sometimes it seemed as if how long a person stayed was in inverse proportion to how determined they were when they arrived.

Back in 70 I was visiting the City Center from Tassajara and was hanging out in the entranceway with Bob Halpern who'd been given the task of greeter, a role that didn't exist before or after his stint. I enjoyed watching him relate to those who came to knock on the door. Sometimes I'd marvel at his ability to make someone feel welcome and others I'd cringe at the way he'd toy with people's assumptions. One memory in particular sticks in mind. The doorbell rang. I answered it. A guy with a backpack and beard. "How can I help you," said Bob matter of factly from his chair behind a dark wood table.

The young man stood erect with his heavy back pack still on. He spoke with serious precision and resolve. "I left MIT shortly before finishing work on a PhD in astro-physics. I have hitchhiked from Big Sur where I've been camping for three months in the wilderness, living off the land, contemplating the course my life should take. Now I have arrived at this temple to end my wandering and devote my life to the study and practice of Zen."

Bob looked a him blankly. He tilted his head. "Oh yeah?" he uttered. An empty pause. Then Bob's mouth slowly opened, top iip going one way, bottom one other, his head went back, tongue protruded, slobber dripped out. He started moaning and shaking, gurgling, grunting, head wobbling. His eyes rolled. His arms began making spastic motions. He fell to one side, the chair overturned to the other. He lay on the floor vibrating violently, wild bug eyes open, writhing, flopping about with unintelligible movie monster sounds and frightening jerks. I took the arm of the poor perplexed guy and walked him down the hall. Loring came up the stairs. I asked him to please take our visitor to the courtyard and speak with him. Loring was a sympathetic listener. I went back to find Bob sitting at his desk looking at the morning paper as if nothing had happened. I took the section with the funnies and bridge column and sat in the chair next to him. Never saw that guy again.