MEHER MOUNT

9902 Sulphur Mountain Road
Ojai, CA 93023-9375

Phone: 805-640-0000
Email: info@mehermount.org

HOURS

Wednesday-Sunday: Noon to 5:00 p.m.
Monday & Tuesday: Closed

MANAGER/CARETAKERS

Buzz & Ginger Glasky

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Sam Ervin, Preident
Ron Holsey, Vice President
Ursula Reinhart, Treasurer
Jim Whitson, Director
Richard Mannis, Director

OFFICERS

Margaret Magnus, Secretary

9902 Sulphur Mountain Rd
Ojai, CA, 93023
United States

(805) 640-0000

Story Blog

Anecdotes, activities and stories about Meher Mount - past, present and future.

Filtering by Category: Caretakers

The Two-Year Saga of Finding Caretakers

Margaret Magnus

By Margaret Magnus

The two-year, world-wide search for on-site, residential Manager/Caretakers at Meher Mount is – in hindsight – a clear example of who, when and what happening in Meher Baba’s time.

CARETAKER QUARTERS at Meher Mount. This photo was taken by Luis Marroquin, who with his wife Jennifer Navarro-Marroquin, temporarily cared for Meher Mount in November 2018.

CARETAKER QUARTERS at Meher Mount. This photo was taken by Luis Marroquin, who with his wife Jennifer Navarro-Marroquin, temporarily cared for Meher Mount in November 2018.

Recruitment for volunteer caretakers started in August 2017, and it wasn’t until the last days of June 2019 that new caretakers Ellen Kwiatkowski and Eric Carlson were settled in at Meher Mount.

BUZZ & GINGER GLASKY ‘RETIRE’

In August 2017 after more than four years (November 2013—February 2018) of taking care of Meher Mount, Buzz and Ginger Glasky were ready to retire. They indicated that their last day as Manager/Caretakers would be February 15, 2018.

They gave plenty of notice – six months – to provide the board sufficient time to recruit their replacements. The months passed. No candidates came forward. More advertising. Still, no candidates.

Then in December 2017, the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount.

NEW CARETAKERS SPARED BEING HOMELESS

In hindsight, it seems obvious why no new caretakers were at Meher Mount. They would have been homeless. There was some smoke damage, no heating/cooling, no power and no water in the Caretaker Quarters, thus, making it temporarily uninhabitable.

BUZZ GLASKY & GINGER GLASKY parked their Airstream in Oceano, CA, after fleeing the December 2017 Thomas Fire that struck Meher Mount. In the background is Gavin Arthur’s Cabin which was part of the Dunite settlement at Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes near Oceano in the 1920s-1940s. Avatar Meher Baba stayed in this cabin on December 26, 1934. (Photo: Courtesy Buzz Glasky, 2018)

BUZZ GLASKY & GINGER GLASKY parked their Airstream in Oceano, CA, after fleeing the December 2017 Thomas Fire that struck Meher Mount. In the background is Gavin Arthur’s Cabin which was part of the Dunite settlement at Guadalupe-Nipomo Dunes near Oceano in the 1920s-1940s. Avatar Meher Baba stayed in this cabin on December 26, 1934. (Photo: Courtesy Buzz Glasky, 2018)

Buzz and Ginger, on the other hand, had earlier purchased an Airsteam trailer for their post-Meher Mount travels. When the call came to evacuate Meher Mount on December 4, 2017, they hooked up their trailer and left.

In the days of the continuing and spreading Thomas Fire, they were able to move to Oceano, CA, about 122 miles away. In the days and weeks of immediate fire recovery, they traveled regularly – at least two-and-one-half hours each way – from Oceano to Meher Mount to assist in the recovery effort.

Finally, the day of their official departure came. On Baba’s Birthday, February 25, 2018, there was a farewell party for Buzz and Ginger. Friends came to say goodbye before they left to take their long-deserved break from the day-to-day responsibilities of Meher Mount.

What about long-term Manager/Caretaker recruitment? It apparently wasn’t time yet. The extensive repairs and refurbishment of the Caretaker Center meant Meher Mount was not ready to welcome new Manager/Caretakers.

RECRUITMENT POSTCARD sent to about 1,200 households plus packets of cards sent to individuals who shared them with their Meher Baba group.

RECRUITMENT POSTCARD sent to about 1,200 households plus packets of cards sent to individuals who shared them with their Meher Baba group.

CARETAKER RECRUITMENT STARTS AGAIN

In the fall of 2018, Meher Mount was ready. Recruitment efforts began again. Interested persons started coming forward. Most declined after seeing the extent and the variety of requirements for the job, its voluntary nature, and the remote location.

CARETAKER RECRUITMENT IN INDIA. Margaret Magnus and Sam Ervin (not pictured) met Ellen Kwiatkowski and Eric Carlson in India in October 2018 and encouraged them to consider being caretakers at Meher Mount. Ellen and Eric visited in January 2019, said yes months later, and arrived at Meher Mount by the end of June 2019. (Photo: Sam Ervin, October 2018)

CARETAKER RECRUITMENT IN INDIA. Margaret Magnus and Sam Ervin (not pictured) met Ellen Kwiatkowski and Eric Carlson in India in October 2018 and encouraged them to consider being caretakers at Meher Mount. Ellen and Eric visited in January 2019, said yes months later, and arrived at Meher Mount by the end of June 2019. (Photo: Sam Ervin, October 2018)

In October 2018, Sam Ervin, board president, and Margaret Magnus, went on a long-planned pilgrimage to Meher Baba’s Tomb Shrine and home in Meherabad and Meherazad, India.

“On the first morning after our arrival, I went to the dining hall for early morning tea. At 6:00 a.m. that day, there was only one other person there, Ellen Kwiatkowski, and we started chatting.

“Somehow, Meher Mount slipped into the conversation including the fact that the board was looking for on-site, live-on, volunteer Manager/Caretakers,” Sam said.

Ellen indicated that she and her husband Eric Carlson might be interested. They were thinking of selling their organic, you-pick-it farm in Bayfield, WI, and were looking for the next opportunity.

“I HAVE ALWAYS FELT GOD IN NATURE…”

Discussions continued in India and afterward. In January 2019, Ellen and Eric came to Meher Mount for a 10-day stay to get a feel for Meher Mount and to see if being a Manager/Caretaker was something they wanted to do.

Afterward, Eric wrote that the opportunity to be a caretaker at Meher Mount interested him, “because it aligns with my feelings about the Earth and nature as being an expression of God and provides the opportunity to share this with others while also serving Meher Baba.”

For Ellen, the opportunity “appeals to me because my focus is on Him all the more. Also, spending time in nature has always been an important part of my emotional and spiritual health and well being. I have always felt God in nature…”

ELLEN KWIATKOWSKI & ERIC CARLSON arrive in time to prepare for and help host the annual Anniversary Sahavas at Meher Mount commemorating Avatar Meher Baba’s 1956 visit. (Photo: Juan Mendez, August 3, 2019)

ELLEN KWIATKOWSKI & ERIC CARLSON arrive in time to prepare for and help host the annual Anniversary Sahavas at Meher Mount commemorating Avatar Meher Baba’s 1956 visit. (Photo: Juan Mendez, August 3, 2019)

In late March 2019, they said, “Yes,” and signed the Manager/Caretaker agreement. Ellen arrived on May 27, 2019, and Eric arrived about a month later on June 25, 2019. He had stayed in Wisconsin to train a manager for the summer crop on their farm, while getting the farm ready to be sold.

IN THE MEANTIME        

In the meantime, who cared for Meher Mount?

CASSANDRA BRAMUCCI, Interim Caretaker, and Board President Sam Ervin are discussing the water system in the days of fire recovery and restoration following the December 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, August 1, 2018)

CASSANDRA BRAMUCCI, Interim Caretaker, and Board President Sam Ervin are discussing the water system in the days of fire recovery and restoration following the December 2017 Thomas Fire. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, August 1, 2018)

In February 2018, just as Buzz and Ginger were leaving, Cassandra Bramucci offered to come for three months as Interim Caretaker – and then extended her stay to six months.

She lived on-site in her RV – thus not needing to live in the Caretaker Quarters which still weren’t quite ready for inhabitants.

In the next weeks and months, she and other temporary caretakers helped with much of the heavy lifting of continued fire recovery and restoration.

After Cassandra left in late August 2018, there were a series of temporary caretakers who came to stay, care for Meher Mount, and greet the weekend visitors.

ELIZABETH ARNOLD, former Manager/Caretaker, came twice to be a temporary caretaker at Meher Mount in 2018. (Photo: Sam Ervin, September 2018)

ELIZABETH ARNOLD, former Manager/Caretaker, came twice to be a temporary caretaker at Meher Mount in 2018. (Photo: Sam Ervin, September 2018)

Volunteers came for days, weeks and even months to be temporary caretakers. Thank you to: Robert Turnage and Kristina Somma, Ray Johnston and April Buchwald, Elizabeth Arnold, Wayne Myers, Kyle and Lisa Morrison, Melissa and John Collins, Jennifer Navarro-Marroquin and Luis Marroquin, David DeFauw and Julia Christopher, James Whedon, Stephanie Ervin, Ron Holsey, Sam Ervin and Margaret Magnus, Bing Heckman, Robert Redecker, Anamika Christenson, Coline Tabrum, Rudoph Duran and Kathy Najar.

LOOKING FOR ANOTHER TEMPORARY SOLUTION

Just as it seemed that Meher Mount had no more temporary caretakers to care for Meher Mount, Buzz and Ginger again stepped forward. It was almost a year after their official departure in 2018. They offered to move their Airstream to Meher Mount and stay as long as needed while the Board recruited regular Manager/Caretakers.

They ‘camped’ at Meher Mount from mid-January until early July 2019, taking care of weed abatement, watching over Meher Mount, welcoming guests, and providing orientation for Ellen and Eric.

HIDDEN BENEFITS

While not having regular Manager/Caretakers was, at times, a little nerve wracking, it also opened up the possibility for others to serve on a short-term basis.

RAY JOHNSTON, former Manager/Caretaker, answered the call to help with fire recovery and weed abatement several times during the two-year recruitment period. (Photo: Sam Ervin, February 2018)

RAY JOHNSTON, former Manager/Caretaker, answered the call to help with fire recovery and weed abatement several times during the two-year recruitment period. (Photo: Sam Ervin, February 2018)

They had the opportunity to stay overnight, get a better understanding of Meher Mount, and be a more integral part of the land. They also met many interesting guests.

They were able to spend an extended time in this place made sacred by Meher Baba’s Presence. And some initiated activities such as the native plant walk and the bird watching day.

In hindsight, it seemed as if Ellen and Eric were destined to come to Meher Mount as Manager/Caretakers from the beginning, but everything needed to be in place first. Meher Mount needed to be ready to greet them, and they needed to do several things on their farm before they could leave.

ABOUT THE CARETAKERS

Eric Carlson describes himself as an entrepreneur. He established and managed – for the past 30 years – Blue Vista Farm in Bayfield, WI. The farm directly markets fruit crops to the consumer in a way that creates a deeper experience and connection with the land. Blue Vista is located in a Wisconsin tourist destination and receives 10,000 to 15,000 visitors annually.

ERIC CARLSON relaxing for a moment after he and Ellen Kwiatkowski have refurbished and stained all the wood benches and chairs at Meher Mount. (Photo: Ellen Kwiatkowski, July 2019)

ERIC CARLSON relaxing for a moment after he and Ellen Kwiatkowski have refurbished and stained all the wood benches and chairs at Meher Mount. (Photo: Ellen Kwiatkowski, July 2019)

Eric managed a seasonal staff of 28 in production, harvesting, marketing, advertising, and retail aspects of the farm. He is experienced in operating and maintaining all power tools, implements and tractors, as well as understanding and solving the day-to-day issues of a land-focused organization.

While managing the farm, Eric also served as President of the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce and chairman of its Orchard Task Force for eight years. During that time the Chamber quadrupled its membership, and he helped restore health and vibrancy to the board and organization.

Eric has a B.S. in plant pathology and horticulture from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he worked in the department of Plant Pathology as a fruit crop research specialist for several years. This knowledge and his experience provide him with skills to facilitate the creating of harmony in cultivated and wild plant communities. He also has extensive experience studying, tracking and observing animals and plants in their natural habitats.

Eric first learned of Meher Baba in 2013. He and Ellen have visited the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC, and Meher Baba’s Tomb Shrine and home in Meherabad and Meherazad, India.

"This old apricot tree, normally used for its cooling shade, produced the first fruit that we have ever seen. There are actually five apricots, and we decided the tree was welcoming Ellen and Eric," Buzz Glasky, June 28, 2019. (Text and Photo: Buzz Glasky)

"This old apricot tree, normally used for its cooling shade, produced the first fruit that we have ever seen. There are actually five apricots, and we decided the tree was welcoming Ellen and Eric," Buzz Glasky, June 28, 2019. (Text and Photo: Buzz Glasky)

Ellen Kwiatkowski has a B.S. in biology from James Madison University in Virginia and has more than 20 years’ experience working on biodiversity conservation.  Starting with three years as a forestry extensionist with the US Peace Corps in Paraguay and then 10 years with the Nature Conservancy, where she worked internationally as Manager of their Rapid Ecological Assessment Program and domestically as Director of Conservation Programs for the Delaware Chapter.  

ELLEN KWIATKOWSKI is getting an orientation to caring for Baba’s Tree from ISA Certified Arborist Michael Inaba. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, June 22, 2019)

ELLEN KWIATKOWSKI is getting an orientation to caring for Baba’s Tree from ISA Certified Arborist Michael Inaba. (Photo: Margaret Magnus, June 22, 2019)

While in Delaware, she oversaw site-based and landscape-scale conservation planning, acquisition and management of their portfolio of preserves. She has extensive experience in developing and managing grant-funded (federal, state, private) projects that include land acquisition, habitat restoration, migratory bird conservation and biological inventories.

After meeting Eric and moving to Wisconsin, Ellen worked with Eric at Blue Vista Farm for a few years, did some private consulting, and was Executive Director of the Bayfield Regional Conservancy, a local land trust. Here, she oversaw all land protection and conservation activities. During that time, the Conservancy became a nationally accredited land trust, more than doubled the acreage of protected sites and doubled the Stewardship Endowment Fund.

She was also awarded the 2012 Wisconsin Conservationist of the Year by a statewide group of her peers. Ellen then worked for two years as Planning Administrator for a local Native American Tribe.  She also serves on the Environmental Management Committee for the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, SC. 

While Eric is looking at animal tracks and birds, Ellen is identifying and learning plants. She has a keen interest in learning the local flora and understanding plant distribution and alliances.   




"I quite enjoyed a day out in the field."

Cassandra Bramucci

Every spring at Meher Mount, amid the stirring of new life – nesting birds, blooming wildflowers, tender new leaves on the ubiquitous Coast Live Oak trees swollen from recent rains – volunteers from far and wide gather to perform the rituals of weed abatement.

It is mandatory in Ventura County, CA, that by June 1st a strict protocol of reducing hazardous vegetation and creating defensible spaces around buildings and roads must be completed by all property owners in anticipation of the upcoming fire season.

This year, 21 volunteers arrived in shifts from May 11 through May 24, 2019, to help. Some were young, some not so young. Some new to Meher Mount, others who mark their calendars for this time of year. Some who were a few hours’ drive away, others who came from across the country. It is the joy of working with such enthusiastic and friendly folks that makes volunteering such a memorable event.

Read More

A Perfect Storm of Circumstances Leads to Refurbishing the Visitor Center

Margaret Magnus

On December 4, 2017, the wildfire known as the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount. Initially, the Visitor Center/Caretaker Quarters seemed to have the least amount of damage. In the end, the majority of the expenses, time, and effort has been expended on the Visitor Center.

In hindsight, there was a “perfect storm” of events that led to the unintended – but needed – upgrade, repair and refurbishment of the building that doubles as a Visitor Center and Caretaker Quarters.

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Keeping Out the Rain, Dust, Snakes & Rodents - The Case for New Doors & Windows

Margaret Magnus

One day while working at Meher Mount during recovery and renewal from the 2017 Thomas Fire, I noticed that the window and door frames needed to be repainted and spruced up. Then I looked more closely. Some of the wooden frames and door sills needed actual replacement.

Then taking a walk through the building, it was clear that many of the 25-year-old wooden-frame doors and windows were damaged due to time, use and weather. Sam Ervin pointed out – particularly without any furniture “hiding” parts of the building – that there were gaps between and under the doors.

The gaps invited dust, rodents, snakes and other critters inside. One night in the kitchen, former Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky found a baby rattlesnake that had crawled in under the door.

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"It is evening, the sun is about to set, and even the busy hummingbirds..."

Cassandra Bramucci

My mind is like still water as I sit on the veranda of the Visitor Center. Next to me is a friend who has been helping me take care of Meher Mount for several weeks. It is evening, the sun is about to set, and even the busy hummingbirds are settling in to partake of the peace of this special place.

 “This is all Meher Baba,” my companion remarks with deep emotion in his voice as he spreads his arms to indicate the whole of Meher Mount.

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A Fond Farewell - Goodbye to the Glaskys

Margaret Magnus

Avatar Meher Baba's birthday on February 25, 2018, was the first public event and visitor open day at Meher Mount since the Thomas Fire on December 4, 2017. It was a fitting occasion to honor Meher Baba's Advent and to say farewell to Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky. They have lovingly cared for Meher Mount for the past four-and-one-half years.

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Seven Days in February - More Progress on Fire Recovery

Margaret Magnus

Recovery from the December 2017 Thomas Fire is a step-by-step process. Each completed task seems to generate several new task offspring. The restoration continues. 

On February 15, 2018, just as Buzz and Ginger Glasky finished their four-and-a-half years as Manager/Caretakers, former Caretaker Ray Johnston (2002-2005, 2006-2010) arrived for a week to help with the recovery.

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Thomas Fire No Match for Meher Baba and His Lovers

Cassandra Bramucci

That Meher Baba fellow sure knows how to throw a work party!     

As I drove up to the entry gate around 9:30 a.m., I found half a dozen people vigorously cultivating the ash-hardened ground under the Coast Live Oak tree there. All were new faces to me, but I was greeted with cheerful waves and a hearty chorus of “Jai Baba.” 

So, began the first workday of 2018 in response to the devastating Thomas Fire that so heartrendingly damaged Baba’s Tree, crippled the fragile water system, and sent Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky racing for their lives down a flaming Sulphur Mountain Road on December 4, 2017.

        

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Totally Random or Divinely Orchestrated? An Update on the Thomas Fire

Margaret Magnus

On Monday night December 4, 2017, sometime after 10:00 p.m. when Manager/Caretakers Buzz and Ginger Glasky evacuated, the Thomas Fire struck Meher Mount.

On December 6 and 8, Buzz and Ginger visited Meher Mount reporting minimal or no damage to structures and vehicles. The water system is out of commission due to the fire damage to pipes, electrical and equipment. Baba’s Tree at Avatar’s Point suffered major damage from wind and fire.

On December 12, Buzz and Ginger, Sam Ervin, Margaret Magnus and Cassandra Bramucci made a follow-up visit. Margaret and Sam share their observations.

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NOW FOR THE FIRST TIME, I VISIT MEHER MOUNT

Renate Moritz

My own travels have taken me to places Avatar Meher Baba visited in Europe, Australia, South Carolina, and India. Now for the first time, I visit Meher Mount in Ojai, CA. I adore it.

Always loaded with spiritual expectations, we get stripped there. All what one might envisage of a spiritual center was not there: no discourses, no meditation sessions, no designated prayer spots, no singing.

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Without Water Once Again

Margaret Magnus

“We returned from vacation on September 20, 2016, and found water leaking at the well,” explained Manager/Caretaker Buzz Glasky. “We also found low water levels in the pool (which acts a reservoir before the water is treated) and in the 5,000-gallon holding tank. There was nothing in the agricultural water tank.”

The well pump had stopped working.

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Fire Prevention Improves Walking Trails

Margaret Magnus

Every year since Meher Mount’s founding in 1946, volunteers are tasked with making sure that brush is cleared away from all buildings to help protect Meher Mount and the environment from the threat of wildfires.

In May 2015, there was an extra effort to make the meadow – the Prasad Orchard – below Avatar’s Point more accessible to mowing equipment.

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Meher Baba Invites His Dearest Friends

Buzz Glasky

Meher Mount, this sacred place that Meher Baba visited on August 2, 1956, is vibrant with His love and presence, but it is a bit remote.

Yet, it seems to attract more guests that have never heard of Meher Baba than any other center. Some visitors want to know more about Him, but most just seem to fall in love with the "feeling" of His place.

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