Kurt's Diamond Sufi Ranch

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Mornings at the ranch began with the sound of a coffee grinder: a quick rattling sound then the steadily rising pitch of a high-rpm whine. "Morning," I'd say, entering the kitchen where Kurt was already a buzz of activity. "Catch," he'd command, tossing an egg towards me from behind his back. On good days, I'd catch it. "Yes!" he'd cry having turned to watch, then break into laughter and spinning on one foot in his sheep's skin slipper turn back to the stove; "Don't let the toast burn." Smoke beginning to rise, I'd move to the "Zen Toaster." We called it the Zen Toaster because if you weren't mindful, the toast would always burn. Vintage 1924, the Zen Toaster was simply naked coils near which slices of bread would lean; no timer, no-auto pop-up, nothing but a plug in the socket and metal coils glowing red hot from an electric current. No sooner had I turned the toast then Kurt was seated to the left of me, spinning on his stool with two plates of scrambled eggs and some bacon. Holding a piece of toast in his direction, he grabbed it from my hand with his open mouth, and simultaneously slid the plates down on the table while he took a big bite. This was swiftly followed by a swallow of coffee and a wink in my direction with his right eye. Seeing my open-mouthed expression, Kurt would point his finger at me and as I looked down at it he'd say "Boink," give me light poke in the ribs and crack up. "Eat," he'd say, digging into his plate of eggs and bacon as it it were the first meal he'd had in a very long time.
        - Larry Barnett (Ranch resident 1974-1976)

Kurt's daughter Amanita, affectionately called "Mimo", was the "queen bee" of the ranch's 4-year-old gang.

Kurt's daughter Amanita, affectionately called "Mimo", was the "queen bee" of the ranch's 4-year-old gang.

This photo looks to be from around 1977; the bamboo grove to the left of the house has lost its leaves and gone to seed as part of its   120-year life-cycle  . The 700-year-old oak in the front driveway also suffered visible damage. Two years later,   the house would catch fire   and be condemned.

This photo looks to be from around 1977; the bamboo grove to the left of the house has lost its leaves and gone to seed as part of its 120-year life-cycle. The 700-year-old oak in the front driveway also suffered visible damage. Two years later, the house would catch fire and be condemned.

Another of the 4-year-old blondes was Zoe. The kids loved playing in the bamboo grove, which had been a green canopy of 45-foot high culms of timber bamboo, but which bloomed and went to seed in 1975, at the end of its 120-year life cycle.

Another of the 4-year-old blondes was Zoe. The kids loved playing in the bamboo grove, which had been a green canopy of 45-foot high culms of timber bamboo, but which bloomed and went to seed in 1975, at the end of its 120-year life cycle.

Here's Kurt riding Misty Moonlight in the pasture and grassland at the fringe of the ranch. The Napa River was close by and accessible by foot or by horse.

Here's Kurt riding Misty Moonlight in the pasture and grassland at the fringe of the ranch. The Napa River was close by and accessible by foot or by horse.

The is a view of the rear of the main house, looking west. Filled with a park-like assortment of trees, including fan palms. valley oaks, and fruit trees, the property was a song-bird oasis surrounded by vineyards.

The is a view of the rear of the main house, looking west. Filled with a park-like assortment of trees, including fan palms. valley oaks, and fruit trees, the property was a song-bird oasis surrounded by vineyards.

This is Tashi, the smallest of the blonde gang, hanging out on the steps into the ranch kitchen.. Not sure of the name of the puppy; at times, the ranch was buried in puppies.

This is Tashi, the smallest of the blonde gang, hanging out on the steps into the ranch kitchen.. Not sure of the name of the puppy; at times, the ranch was buried in puppies.

Kurt loved being shirtless and sometimes called himself "the brown bod." He could pass for Mexican, Afghan, or madman. Here he's sitting on the rear deck adjacent to the bamboo grove.

Kurt loved being shirtless and sometimes called himself "the brown bod." He could pass for Mexican, Afghan, or madman. Here he's sitting on the rear deck adjacent to the bamboo grove.

The guardian of the ranch was Dog Juan, who would amble over and make gentle contact with everyone at the ranch to check them out. Kurt loved and trusted dogs for their loyalty and affection.

The guardian of the ranch was Dog Juan, who would amble over and make gentle contact with everyone at the ranch to check them out. Kurt loved and trusted dogs for their loyalty and affection.

The other dog at the ranch was Bridget; Bridget and Dog Juan were an item.

The other dog at the ranch was Bridget; Bridget and Dog Juan were an item.

Here's a helicopter view of the Diamond Sufi Ranch. We are looking west; the long row of trees in a straight line run alongside the driveway all the way to Highway 29; the house is shrouded in lush foliage. The bamboo still has a green canopy, so this is before 1975. A forested island oasis, the ranch attracted flocks of songbirds, circling hawks, skunks, snakes and lizards. And very groovy people.

Here's a helicopter view of the Diamond Sufi Ranch. We are looking west; the long row of trees in a straight line run alongside the driveway all the way to Highway 29; the house is shrouded in lush foliage. The bamboo still has a green canopy, so this is before 1975. A forested island oasis, the ranch attracted flocks of songbirds, circling hawks, skunks, snakes and lizards. And very groovy people.

The "blond gang"- Zoe, Mimo, Shenin and Tashi - hanging out with Kurt in 1975 at an event at La Luna, the little and unassuming market that sits where the Oakville Grocery now operates. La Luna was just a stone's throw from the ranch.

The "blond gang"- Zoe, Mimo, Shenin and Tashi - hanging out with Kurt in 1975 at an event at La Luna, the little and unassuming market that sits where the Oakville Grocery now operates. La Luna was just a stone's throw from the ranch.

Here's a shot of the chicken coop and barn. The row of trees in the distance line the banks of the Napa River, just a short walk from the house.

Here's a shot of the chicken coop and barn. The row of trees in the distance line the banks of the Napa River, just a short walk from the house.

This is a map drawn by Kurt giving directions to the ranch where a Nyinthun (week-long silent meditation retreat) was to be held. At that time Kurt had taken his Buddhist refuge vows from Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche and the ranch was host to a number of Kagyu lineage retreats. Lama Chime of the Kagyu lineage twice visited, gave teachings at the ranch and renamed it Samten Chöling.

This is a map drawn by Kurt giving directions to the ranch where a Nyinthun (week-long silent meditation retreat) was to be held. At that time Kurt had taken his Buddhist refuge vows from Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche and the ranch was host to a number of Kagyu lineage retreats. Lama Chime of the Kagyu lineage twice visited, gave teachings at the ranch and renamed it Samten Chöling.

Another view of the rear of the house and bamboo grove. This prior to 1975; the bamboo is still leafy and green. The crossed bamboo culms were used to support a hose for an outdoor shower. Temperatures in Napa Valley can easily top 100-degrees, so the outdoor shower often provided great relief.

Another view of the rear of the house and bamboo grove. This prior to 1975; the bamboo is still leafy and green. The crossed bamboo culms were used to support a hose for an outdoor shower. Temperatures in Napa Valley can easily top 100-degrees, so the outdoor shower often provided great relief.

Here's a view of the kitchen in midday, bamboo shadows playing on the windows. A potty for the gang of little kids is visible on the right.

Here's a view of the kitchen in midday, bamboo shadows playing on the windows. A potty for the gang of little kids is visible on the right.

Here’s Kurt looking as happy as a proverbial pig in shit while helping to install a new septic system at the ranch in the early 70s.

Here’s Kurt looking as happy as a proverbial pig in shit while helping to install a new septic system at the ranch in the early 70s.

Kurt seated at the dining table in the kitchen at the Diamond Sufi Ranch. The dining table was a hub of social activity from early morning to late at night.

Kurt seated at the dining table in the kitchen at the Diamond Sufi Ranch. The dining table was a hub of social activity from early morning to late at night.