Thursday, July 10, 2008

Researching Festivals

We're sure that by now you're getting used to the erratic schedule on which we write blogs. Stay tuned: It looks as if it's going to get a lot more erratic. The middle two weeks of July we'll be at Brushwood Folklore Center (Sherman NY), the first week attending one of the best festivals in the northeast, Sirius Rising. (Remember Orion's dog Sirius? He's the reason we call this warm season dog days. In mid-July, the dawn sun rises between earth and Sirius.) The second week we'll be on site basically meeting old friends who will also atend Starwood: ACE's* massive festival and party.
Festivals and festival speakers seem now to us to fall into definite categories: Some festivals, those that refuse to pay speakers or even reimburse them for honest travel expenses, are only a money machine for the promoters. Other festivals pay to get good speakers and musicians but have a hard time breaking even. These, though, are definitely much more worth attending.
Speakers and presenters as well fall into two distinct categories: The "big names" who charge the earth and are pushing the same old tired message; and those who have a new and different view (which they have thought through past the point of ego-stroking blither). Here the pattern is to charge very little if anything, and to be well worth listening to.
With both speakers and festivals, then, we ourselves perceive a strong negative correlation (note: negative) between sincerity and profit.
So how can you tell which gatherings are worth attending? You really can't, unless you can psychometrize the announcements they publish. You pays your money and you takes your choice. After once or twice researching Festival X or Speaker Y, you'll at least have something to push against; you can review the experience and say to yourself, "Not this!"
We can promise that at the ones we attend, the organizers are not making much if anything in the way of profit. We ourselves ask for expenses but never an honorarium.
Meantime, get out and sniff around any festivals you can get to. Do your research. Look at the attendees and listen to them. Where do they fall on the Flake/Weird Index? Look at the program. Is it too bizarre or too hackneyed or too gasping to fit your interests?
By the way, has anybody got any ideas on ways we can compensate for the carbon footprint that we incur with the bonfires?--ways beyond making attendees pay for carbon credits.
We hope to cross paths with you at one or another of these gatherings.
Blessed be. Gavin and Yvonne
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* The Association for Consciousness Expansion

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Our Week in the Garden

Let us apologize for not keeping the blog updated. If there is a problem, it is the garden. We live on a city lot; our Spread is 44 feet wide and ... maybe ... 100 feet front to back with everything behind the house a steep uphill climb. The house and the front lawn presently occupy the streetside half of it. If this nation continues on its present track, one of these days we will put in a front fence, ideally securing it where plain traces of an earlier fence remain in the retaining wall, and dig up the lawn too. Sure, we know full well that growing our own is definitely a non-profit operation; still, it's worth it for the reward of having really fresh vegetables, free of pesticides and all the rest of the toxins that abound in the environment.
So far this year we've had four feeds of asparagus and three feeds of rhubarb; we've lost count of the feeds of snap peas (mange-tout or eat-'em-all or snow peas) and green beans--many of which now reside in the freezer section of the fridge after being tray-frozen.
Today we're cooking up the first batch of plums off the two trees we planted, and we'll probably have harvard beets with lunch. The small beets from the thinning of the rows go well in that recipe. This besides the ongoing supply of tender young beet greens for salads.
The first tomatoes have come in, of what promises to be a very heavy crop.
Birds are wreaking havoc among the raspberries, having previously had a go at the strawberries. We find that feeding the local cats is an enormous help in vigilance over berries of every sort. So long as they loiter around the yard, the birds take their appetites elsewhere.
Between all that, and putting a new roof on the conservatory, and painting the back of the house, it's a good thing we're "retired" (ironic smile). Otherwise we'd never manage to get any of it done.
Yvonne has to go now. She's about to time the blanching of another batch of mange-tout peas. Oh, and did I mention the gooseberries and the apricots?
The compost bin has become even more of a shrine for certain creatures, and the volunteer toad is doing his part to restrain the airborne population. Talk about a squatter ... It's all a beautiful demonstration of the Mother's bounteous cycle, with us gratefully functioning as enablers or custodians.
Blessed be those who walk respectfully on the Earth. Gavin and Yvonne