Friday, 6 January 2012


1. Become an audience;
2. Throw a party;
3. Give something away.

This morning we're marching our way to "church"
We pause briefly at the entrance to LOW road --showing signs to various organizations----LOW's (Loners on Wheels) ----Karma Kitchen and down at the bottom--(tiny red and black checkerboard thing) Our sign WINs (Wandering Individuals Network) The second lady in line is the Famous "Trish" Who leads caravans to wild and wonderful places--Alaska sometimes.  She is worth a separate entry.  
But I digress---We're on our way here.  My Co-host Joanne has arranged a group interview of the Pastor about life at the Slabs.
And here we are---It was a Wowser.  From a summer low population of about 50 to a winter high of about 500.  Most surprising revelation: He speculates that many come here to die--older--broken--men mostly who just want to die anonymously and fade from sight (on the county's nickle)--not wishing to trouble their kids or relatives.
He introduces Dave---His assistant---and a Bible Scholar. Don't be misled by his appearance--he carries himself with dignity---speaks intelligently.  The interview went so well that Joann declared on the spot that we would throw a party for all our new friends.  The date was set. 
Oh how I love to crank things up----so when I heard about a diminutive, mysterious, individual living in the bushes with a friendly mule, I resolved to find and invite them.  Maybe they will come to the party.  I find the place easily and approach warily.
And surprisingly---am received warmly--invited to photograph.  It is a tiny girl/woman?--who tells me she has lived at the Slabs for years---then drove to Montana in search of a small Mule/companion/pet.
She lets me pet APPLEJACK.  I introduce myself. She tells me she is known as "LITTLEBIT" or HALFPINT .  I tell her about our party and ask if she will make a surprise entrance to thrill everyone.
She says "OK".

The group bicycles around this unique square mile looking for other interesting folks to invite. 

The Day of the party.  We prepare a pot luck for our guest.
They come---and eat---and talk with us. Our guitarist entertain. We sit down to eat,  I have told them to expect a special guest.  They wonder who.  And Then---And then---
"She" appears out of nowhere---like the hero in a western movie.  She pauses for full effect----Cameras click---I grin---Perfect!
I welcome her invite her to come and dine.
And she does--Ambling through the silent awe her presence inspires --her chaps rustle with each step--spurs jangle--the hunting knife on her belt commands respect.  She knows she is a quiet  sensation. I sit and eat with her ---just a bit atwitter--trying not to say silly things.  was surprised at her gentleness and openness.

Then I performed.  Hard to resist a friendly audience.  Quoted my signature poem "The Magic of Motion."

Then persuaded Lois---the preacher's wife--to sing for us--a very touching moment for us all.  We learned that she has no friends in the conventional sense---her role as pastors wife isolates her.  But we gave her a golden moment---with applause and request for an encore.  She beamed with satisfaction and sang another----that she had written---about life at the slabs.  
Then Joann sprang our big surprise for the Preacher and his wife----presenting them with a few hundred dollars worth of food we purchased for them in town.  They promptly gave it away to needy families the next day.  What a great afternoon!

And to make good on my promise ---here's the famous walking cane that put really good shoes on a family of seven.  (good story---hope to tell it next time when I wrap up our Slabs experiment)
RANDY PHILOSOPHIZES:  Goal accomplished---We abandoned the spectator role---diving (carefully but clearly) into the lives of those around us.  The experiment went eeriely well---in this most challenging environment.  So satisfying--that I may just abandon bystander journalism altogether.  I want to get personal with everyone in my orbit.  (unless my "radar" beeps)
Already it's affected my approach to the guy living in a (literal) house of sticks. (an upcoming story)

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