Spring 2021 Garden Update

Spring has arrived and the perennials in our garden have begun to leaf, bud, and bloom.

Creeping Charlie

Creeping Charlie

The first signs of color came from the vibrant  creeping charlie (glechoma hederacea) that we’ve encouraged to grow as a ground cover for our little backyard food forest.

It is true that creeping charlie is “invasive”. But invasive is what we needed for an attractive replacement cover for the patchy lawn that was once here. And unlike dandelions and violets, creeping charlie has never invaded our raised beds. It also has stood up fairly well to occasional foot traffic.

Almond Blossom

Almond Blossom

The first nut tree flower in the garden was on the almond tree (prunus dulcis). This tree has taken a long time to get established, and last year we thought it wasn’t going to survive. But we pruned it heavily, took down an apple tree that was growing too close to it, and now it appears to be making a strong comeback.

There is a race on between the remaining duo of dwarf apple trees and the trio of dwarf pear trees to see which will flower first. All are beginning to get their leaves and the buds are showing.

Arkansas Black Apple Leaves and Buds

Arkansas Black Apple Buds

Down from four apple trees, we removed the golden delicious and the rome, as neither were producing well after many years, and our tiny food forest was getting a little crowded. We kept the dwarf red delicious because it has remained rather small and has been productive, though its location is not ideal. The arkansas black apple tree has been the best and most productive of them all, producing fruit that stays on the tree late into the fall and is relatively pest and disease free compared with the others. Arkansas black apples also keep really well.

Bartlett Pear Leaves and Buds

Bartlett Pear Buds

The bartlett pear tree has grown fairly large for a dwarf tree, when compared with the moonglow and honeysweet pear trees. The former has been producing fruit for the last two years, the latter two are just reaching maturity and will likely produce a good crop of fruit soon. The bartlett was supposed to be a dwarf, but we were surprised when it grew to a full 25-ft height! Fortunately, it has retained its narrow shape and not overshadowed its corner of the garden.

Last year, we lost half of our pears to wasps that would bite holes into the pears, burrow into the pear, and eat their way out! Hopefully, we won’t have a wasp problem this year.

Sea Kale Young Leaves

Sea Kale Young Leaves

The sea kale (crambe maritima) always gets an early start and is easy to spot in the garden due to its distinct blue-green color.

Not content to remain in its own patch, it has spread to one of our garden beds. It has been very easy to grow and care for; it has had no problems with pests or diseases.

Despite its name, it is not soft and tender like the brassica kale. The thick leaves are good in a stir fry and can take the heat.

Hazelnut Leaves

Hazelnut Leaves

In March, the hazel (corylus avellana) flowered (not shown; its magenta flowers are extremely tiny) and now it is getting its leaves. I guess technically, it did beat the almond as the first flowering nut tree… if you could see them! And hopefully, this year, I can beat the squirrels to the nuts.

There is a lot of other growth… strawberry plants, alpine kiwi vines, black current, raspberry, and blueberry bushes. I should have just enough time left to prune the grape vines. And clean out the shed. And rebuild the garden beds (after ten years, they have finally rotted out and need replacement). Oh, and also salvage our old kitchen sink and a workbench to use as an outdoor sink / gardening workstation… you can read about that over at my wife’s blog.

Lots of work to do!

Reading Gurdjieff: Biographies and Anecdotes

Biographies

There are several biographies about G.I. Gurdjieff, of varying quality, from yellow journalism to reasonably verifiable. In my opinion, the following are the better biographies:

  • Gurdjieff: The Anatomy of a Myth, by James Moore. Written in a florid prose style— nevertheless, a fairly thorough biography.
  • Gurdjieff Reconsidered, by Roger Lipsey. A recent biography from a member of the Gurdjieff Foundation, with some insight into some of the organizations’ missteps after Gurdjieff’s death.
  • Georgi Ivanovitch Gurdjieff: The Man, The Teaching, His Mission, by William Patrick Patterson. Less a biography and more of a collection of bare facts, but well-organized and presented with little opinion inserted.

Anecdotes

There are many collections of anecdotes of pupils with Gurdjieff. The better ones, in my opinion, are from longtime pupils of Gurdjieff who were reluctant to write them down but were encouraged by those around them to preserve their stories in writing before they passed away.

  • Gurdjieff: A Master In Life, by Tcheslaw Tchekhovitch. Followed Gurdjieff from 1920 until his teacher’s death.
  • The Gurdjieff Years: Recollections of Louise Goepfert March. Followed Gurdjieff from 1929 until her teacher’s death, translating his writings into German.

Reading Gurdjieff: Primers on Work Concepts

Outside of Gurdjieff’s own writings, there are a number of books available that introduce basic work concepts.

  • A Simple Explanation of Work Ideas, by Maurice Nicoll. Short and to the point.
  • Gurdjieff: A New Interpretation, by Wojciech Konrad Kulczyk PhD. Includes material from Gurdjieff’s own writings rather than relying too heavily on Ouspensky’s exposition.
  • Gurdjieff: An Approach to His Ideas, by Michel Waldberg. Similarly includes material from Gurdjieff’s own writings.
  • Towards Awakening: An Approach to the Teaching Left by Gurdjieff, by Jean Vaysse. Also short and to the point.
  • Gurdjieff: The Key Concepts, by Sophia Wellbeloved. A reference manual of concepts. Includes some short biographies of Gurdjieff’s pupils, various groups that formed after Gurdjieff’s death, and the passive deviation from Gurdjieff’s teaching found in “New Work”.
  • The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution, and
    The Cosmology of Man’s Possible Evolution, by P.D. Ouspensky, his particular exposition of Gurdjieff’s ideas.

Take these with a grain of salt. Learn what Gurdjieff taught from reading his own writings and working out your own understanding with guidance from a school and instructors rather than relying solely on another’s exposition of Gurdjieff’s teaching.

Reading Gurdjieff: Primary Texts

For familiarizing oneself with Gurdjieff’s writings, the following are a list of the primary texts, first publication dates, and most recent available printings of his works. Hardcover printing is assumed unless otherwise noted.


Beelzebub’s Tales to His Grandson
All and Everything, First Series.

  • 1950 Harcourt, Brace & Company or Routledge & Kegan Paul
  • 1993 Two Rivers Press
  • 1999 Penguin Compass (paperback)

Meetings with Remarkable Men
All and Everything, Second Series.

  • 1963 Routledge & Kegan Paul or E.P. Dutton.
  • 1991 Penguin Compass (paperback)

 


Life Is Real Only Then, When “I AM”
All and Everything, Third Series.

  • 1975 E.P. Dutton (private printing, missing the last eight pages contained in later editions)
  • 1981 Routledge & Kegan Paul or E.P. Dutton
  • 1999 Penguin Arkana (paperback)

The Herald of Coming Good

  • 1933 (private printing)
  • 2017 Book Studio


Transcripts

Authorized transcripts of group meetings can give the reader additional theoretical knowledge of the problems that students face and how Gurdjieff worked with them.

Paris Meetings 1943

Groupes de Paris, Tome I: 1943 (French edition only)
Groupes de Paris, Tome II: 1944 (French edition only)

  • 2020 Éditions Éoliennes (softcover)

Electronic Versions

There are many electronic versions of primary texts available for download but determining their edition or copy accuracy may present problems to the reader.

Some reasonably reliable electronic versions are available at the Spiritual Sun.

Misattributed and Unauthorized Texts

Excluded from the primary text list are texts with misattributed authorship to Gurdjieff, such as In Search of Being: The Fourth Way to Consciousness. Also excluded from the primary text list are unauthorized revisions, such as the 1992 Penguin hardcover version of Beelzebub’s Tales, which was significantly altered from the author’s approved English version.

Review of G.I. Gurdjieff Paris Meetings 1943

Paris Meetings 1943

G.I. Gurdjieff, Paris Meetings, 1943, published by Dolmen Meadow Editions in 2017, provides an English translation of French transcripts from sixty-eight group meetings conducted in Mr. Gurdjieff’s rue des Colonels Renard apartment in Paris, France from January 7 to December 30, 1943.

The importance of this text must not be underestimated as a primary source, and Mr. Gurdjieff himself raises the estimation of its importance in an aside to the transcriptionist, addressed here and throughout the text as ‘Prosecutor’:

“Gurdjieff: ‘Prosecutor’, everything must be written in good French. These are abstract things. But if you can remember everything, it will be useful for everyone. I am the author of Beelzebub, neither more nor less. If I find material for myself in what you write, I will be able to do new things with it. Many things for the future humanity depend on you. And it is true, all joking aside.” (p. 306)

With attentive reading, Paris Meetings 1943 can serve as good material especially for teachers of the Work—how meetings were organized, how they were conducted, how exercises are given, how to observe and diagnose symptoms of problems students have, and how to direct students to work on themselves—not automatically but consciously and heuristically—in addition to the contents of the teaching itself, useful to teacher and student alike.

Astute readers may pick up on themes given more significant weight here compared to earlier materials: having remorse of conscience, engaging in the duties of parents and children, the importance of preparation and relaxation before exercises, playing a role in life, and the bringing of sensation, feeling, and thinking into contact and harmony through the use of attention.

A caution to readers: Many exercises, tasks, and much advice is given in this text. Exercises, tasks, and advice given to students by Mr. Gurdjieff is tailored to the individual needs and capabilities of each student. Therefore, it is unwise to undertake exercises, tasks, or advice intended for another student without the guidance of a teacher.

Paris Meetings 1943 is a welcome addition to the primary source texts of Gurdjieff’s teaching. If more transcripts of subsequent meetings still exist, I look forward to the translation and publishing of additional meeting transcripts in the future.


One small thing was lacking from Paris Meetings 1943—an index. I have created one, available for purchase:

G.I. Gurdjieff Paris Meetings 1943 – INDEX

First Encounter with Mr. Gurdjieff

The first time I can recall learning about Mr. Gurdjieff was in 1995. My wife and I were honeymooning in Vermont. While strolling along Church Street, we wandered into a book shop. There I found a book entitled “The Lucid Dreamer” by Malcom Godwin. At the time, I was fascinated with dreams and with lucid dreaming in particular. The book was full of surreal art, quotes, and anecdotes of persons who in one way or another made some contribution to the topic of dreams and sleep.

One particular sidebar in the book struck me. Pictured in it, nearly in profile, was an old yet strong man, with a shaved head, a white upturned moustache, and dark eyes gazing as if into the distant future.

Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

Georgei Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

The sidebar read:

Georges Ivanovitch Gurdjieff was a charismatic teacher, writer, and mystic who maintained that everyone was actually asleep, and only when awakened we would understand that we were only dreaming we were awake.”

For me, this was a new idea, that everyone was asleep and must wake up—everyone including myself! What does it mean that everyone is asleep? The idea stuck with me, though its full weight would not be impressed upon me until many years later.

Alabaster Palace of the Dao—Published!

I was pleased to hear the news that Wizards of the Coast was opening up an avenue to self-publish Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition content, called Dungeon Masters Guild, and I knew immediately what I wanted to do when I heard the news—publish the Genie Palace Heist adventures.

So after a few weeks of illustrating, editing, and formatting, I have finally published my first in a series of adventures: Alabaster Palace of the Dao. Here are screenshots of the first few pages.

Palace Map

Page 9: Palace Map

Table of Contents and Introduction

Page 3-4: Table of Contents and Introduction

3DML

I set out to evaluate 3DML for use as a 3D mapping tool for my tabletop games.

A screenshot of my Ordos Hall spot

Back in early 2000, I stumbled upon 3DML and was impressed at how easy it was to use to create 3D content on the Web. I built some spots based on the environments in the campaigns I was running at the time (Mage: the Sorcerers Crusade and Dungeons and Dragons 3rd edition).

Later, when scripting was added as a feature of 3DML, I wrote a script that allowed me to toggle the camera from first person to top-down—perfect for viewing 3D maps.

What is 3DML?

3DML stands for three-dimensional markup language. The intent behind the language is to make 3D content creation on the Web as easy as writing HTML.

As surprisingly little code as what follows will be rendered as a basic 3D scene, called a “spot”.

   <spot>
       <head>
           <blockset href="http://blocksets.flatland.com/flatsets/basic.bset" />
           <map dimensions="(5,5,1)" style="single" />
       </head>
       <body>
           <entrance location="(3,3,1)" name="default" angle="0.0" />
           <level number="1">
           #####
           #...#
           #...#
           #...#
           #####
           </level>
       </body>
   </spot>

How do you view 3DML content?

Currently, the only way to view 3DML content is to use a standalone browser called Flatland Rover; the browser plugins of the same name only work with relatively archaic browser and operating system combinations.

A screenshot of Decca canals spot

Who created 3DML?

3DML was created by Michael Powers, who co-developed Flatland Rover with Philip Stevens. Michael, Philip, if you have future plans for 3DML or Flatland Rover, let me know.

What is the status of 3DML?

Development of Flatland Rover ceased in 2005. Most newer systems cannot easily run the older software (Mac OS X), plugin architecture has changed (in IE), and entirely new browsers are unsupported (Chrome, Firefox).

Much 3DML content on the Web can no longer be viewed because model dependencies (“blocksets”) originally hosted by Flatland.com have not been maintained.

And current and emerging 3D web technologies such as WebGL do not require special plugins or standalone browsers for viewing content.

A screenshot of a dungeon spot

Conclusion

The benefits of current 3D web technologies surpass the ease-of-use of 3DML in its current state. Also, I think I would benefit more from learning a modern toolset such as Blender than use what sadly appears to be an abandoned technology.

I have fond memories of the builder community and the 3DML spots we created. I would love to see its revival in the future.

I will continue to keep my 3DML reference materials, blocksets, and spots available.

Reference materials