welcome to my world, kind visitor

14 Kalimat 166 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Drumbeat in my head: The White Stripes, “I Want To Be The Boy To Warm Your Mother’s Heart”

This weekend we held a potluck dinner to celebrate the July birthdays in my co-op house—of which there are three. Mine was the 7th, another person’s was the 19th and the baby in our house turned one on the 16th.

One big difference between this co-op and the more student-oriented downtown co-ops is that we have potlucks, not parties. With some of the downtown co-ops, the parties don’t even begin until 11 p.m. But half our house doesn’t even drink and we also have a child’s bedtime to deal with. (Not to mention my own, which lately has been 9:30 p.m. during the week and 10:30 during the weekends.)

A wide variety of friends came to our potluck. Some have been here a number of times, but others have never seen a co-op before, and it’s always interesting when someone sees a house like ours for the first time. I like to make it an educational experience, with a purpose–i.e. ”The Museum of Cooperative Living.”

I always give a tour, showing the common areas, the kitchen, the porches, the garden in the back, and my bedroom and the upstairs area. I like how we’re able to debunk common myths about co-op houses—showing that we’re not just for students or “hippies,” that we have wide age range (mid-20’s to late 40’s, plus a child), and showing how nicely we keep up the place. I always get comments about the beautiful woodwork in our house, and visitors are often surprised at the number and variety of people that live here.

I know that by and large most people who visit here would not imagine themselves living the way I do. That’s fine–I’m more interested in giving people more of an idea of exactly how I live and how I manage to pull off this lifestyle. Maybe for a fleeting moment they might try putting themselves in my shoes and imagine what it must be like. At the very least, people will come away with a more concrete idea about cooperative living.

candle prayer at bedtime

10 Kalimat 166 B.E.
Drumbeat in my head: Chapterhouse, “Breather”

I’m about halfway through the book “Prayer” by Richard Foster, per a recommendation from a friend. The strength of my prayers are not what I think they should be, and as such, I don’t always feel very close to God.

One of the recommendations of the book was to find a good space for prayer, a place where one could treasure being alone with God, and to create an environment conducive to good prayer.

So I decided to buy some tealight candles and a tealight candle holder, with the idea that this would help create a sacred space for prayer. For the last few nights at bedtime, I’ve turned off the lights and lit my candle–focusing on the flame while praying. It seems to make a difference, but it’s too early to tell at this point. The first time I did it, my prayer seemed more complete.

It makes sense. After all, prayer really should be something savored. It’s a sense of coming home, of tuning in, of touching base. So why not do the little things that make the experience even sweeter?

I’ll let you know how it goes. Maybe this is a first step among other steps to make my place of prayer a sacred place. Next step–maybe addressing the clutter in my room…

the good life in the little city

11 Rahmat 166 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)

Soundtrack in my head: Cabaret Voltaire, “Don’t Stop”

A couple of nights ago I went with a couple of housemates to see live blues–Clyde Stubblefield–on the roof of Monona Terrace.  The performance took place a couple of blocks from Capitol Square, where Concerts On The Square was taking place, and between blues songs one could occasionally hear the sound of a violin section floating down Martin Luther King Boulevard from the Capitol to Monona Terrace.   The event reminded me a little bit of Chicago’s BluesFest. Both with this live performance and with BluesFest,  people sit in a public area with the lakefront on one side and the tall downtown buildings on the other side.  In Madison both the lake and the buildings are smaller, as was the crowd listening to Clyde Stubblefield, but that’s fine by me–the event was more intimate and human scale.

Last weekend I saw a jazz quartet at a tiny performance space at Restaurant Magnus.  I don’t think the area could seat more than thirty people, but  I prefer smaller, improvisational quartets to big bands.  I was telling friends to watch the eyes and facial expressions of each of the band members while they take their solos and watch how the band members communicate with each other as they play.  I was reminded by how much I like watching live jazz, and made a note to myself to do this more often.

Next weekend for me is a Madison Mallards baseball game in the Duck Blind, a section in right field where $25 fetches you all that you can eat and drink ($5 more if the drinks are alcoholic).  And there is also the La Fete de Marquette, the second of four neighborhood festivals held in this neighborhood.

I guess I’m enjoying Madison with a vengeance.  There’s two reasons for this.  A few months ago, with my untreated sleep apnea at its height, it was all I could do to muster the energy to go to work and do my household chores.  The other reason is that up until recently, I was considering a possible relationship that would have had the potential to cause me to move out of state.  For various reasons, the relationship didn’t work out, and now I feel more strongly about making Madison my home and enjoying things here to the fullest.  I know there is much about this place that I’d miss if I ever left here.

So I hope you’re enjoying your summer to the fullest!