Monday, June 29, 2009

Uncle Joe*

Do you have an Uncle Joe?

Uncle Joe is a true character. He's one of those guys that script writers love to meet because the story about him basically writes itself. Joe lives in Texas. He makes his own bullets that he uses to shoot large African animals and tiny American ground hogs (both of which I highly disapprove of). His jeans hang low and his big salt and pepper stash is classic. Joe doesn't get excited easily and his big dog is always on his heels. He is 69 years old and still goes on cross country road trips on his motorcycle, you know, just for fun.
We all love when Joe comes to family reunions because you never really know what he'll say. Although he usually hangs back and wanders by himself, when he does socialize, you want to be there, because it will surely be entertaining!

I present the latest "Joe-isms":

A 6 year old approached Joe to say Happy Birthday:
Kid: Someone said you're 25 today
Joe: grunt
Kid: I don't think you're 25. You look ooooold. I think you're 56!
Joe: How old are you?
Kid: I'm 6!!
Joe: Wanna live to be 7? PISS OFF!!

Several family members are playing Scrabble, a reunion favorite:
Aunt: Want to play with us Joe?
Joe: nope
Cousin: Aw, c'mon Joe, it'll be fun, come play!
Joe: I don't think you'd like any of the words I'd try to put down. Ha. Ha.

I, the "nongolfer", was paired with Joe, "the golfer" (but not really), for a family golf game:
Me: Woohoo! I'm so excited to learn how to golf! I'm ready Uncle Joe! What club should I use?
Joe: grunt. What's your favorite number?
Me: I don't think that's what the club numbers are based on...

At a wedding, a male member of the newly married in family approaches Joe:
New Guy: Hey Joe! I heard you re the famous husband of that great dancing lady on the dance floor!
Joe: you dance with my wife again, I'll break your fucking legs.

I hope you all have an Uncle Joe. He's gruff, but he's so damn funny that you can't help but smile and hope that he always shows up.

*Names have of course been changed to keep everyone guessing. Joe likes his privacy.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

At the Rivah

I apologize for yet another hiatus, but I'm currently on vacation at the Rivah in Virginia. Yes, even "purposeful hobos" as my uncle likes to describe me, go on vacation. See you in a few days...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Better World

Think about all the assholes you've met in your life, or even ever heard of. Everyone from that guy that cut you off in traffic for no reason to the bitchy mom who hits her kids. Think about the awful people that throw trash out the window and that kick dogs. I'm talking about the simply evil people that are unfortunately a part of our world, and your family's world. What if you had a piece of paper in your pocket that could clearly identify these assholes so that you didn't have to go anywhere near them. You could completely avoid them and not only save yourself the grief of dealing with them, but also not give them any of the attention that most assholes crave (and need to survive). Would you look at the list so that you could not ever have to deal with them, or would you ignore it and continue to be a part of their world?

Unfortunately I didn't find the book to avoid all asshole people, but I did find the book to guide you away from asshole companies. While perusing through Ten Thousand Villages the other day, I found something that you need to own.

The Better World Shopping Guide is a pocket sized book that makes you a more informed consumer; and an all around better person my opinion because it means that you care. Simply put, this book tells you who is evil and who is not. Which means it tells you who you should support (via your mighty dollar) and who you should shun and therefore contribute to the effort to make them go away (or change). There is a wealth of information and research that has been condensed into an easy to use categorized guide so that when you're deciding which car to get, which gas to pump or which soup to eat, you can refer to the book and learn some helpful information. Data has been collected over the past 20 years from a wide range of nonprofit sources on the social and environmental responsibility of more than 1000 companies (more details on the research at www.betterworldshopper.org).

Let's talk facts:
  • There is evidence that Altoids suppliers use child slave labor! Still want that mint? Just reach for a Newman's Own instead.
  • Clairol still tests on animals when there is positively no need to. Instead go for Aveda or Paul Mitchell.
  • Kraft has been awarded with the Greenwash Award for public deception, undermines overseas health standards and is the #1 contributor to Washington lobbyists. Wonder what they are buying with over $100 million that they "invest/donate" to lobbyists? FYI, Kraft owns tons of companies including Boca Burgers, Balance Bars, Chips A Hoy, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Ritz, Oreo, Maxwell House, and many more.
Speaking of Kraft, they make one of the book's Top 10 Lists.

The 10 Worst List:
  1. Exxon-Mobil
  2. Kraft
  3. Walmart
  4. Chevron-Texaco
  5. Pfizer
  6. Nestle
  7. General Electric
  8. Archer Daniels Midland (additives, corn products, oils, seeds, ethanol, etc.)
  9. General Motors
  10. Tyson Foods
Now, since you are never again going to purchase anything from those evil people again, who should you buy from?

The 10 Best List:
  1. Seventh Generation (green and clean cleaning products)
  2. Working Assets (mobile and long distance phone service and a credit card, .38 is way ahead of all us and uses their Credo phone service)
  3. Eden Foods (huge variety of food products from pasta to fruit, water and snacks)
  4. Organic Valley (dairy products)
  5. Clif Bar (energy and nutrition foods)
  6. Honest Tea (bottled ice tea)
  7. Patagonia (outdoor clothing)
  8. Tom's of Maine (natural personal care products, toothpaste, etc.)
  9. Ben & Jerry's (the ice cream guys from Vermont)
  10. Aveda (hair and skin care products)

Some of you may be thinking that this really seems like a lot of work, to not buy things from these massive and evil companies, but really, its not. I'm not saying your car has to run on recycled olive oil, just get your gas at BP instead of Exxon - not difficult. Buy Seventh Generation paper towels instead of Brawny. If you're like me, you have some brand loyalty and just get in the habit of picking up that certain brand of whatever. Sometimes its because its the cheapest, or maybe its the brand your mom bought so that's what you stuck to. But you're a big kid now and should be making big kid decisions, so why not base those buying decisions on some real facts instead of that you like the logo? The book recommends 10 areas of your life that you can easily shift to use your powerful dollar to support companies that care about you and your world.

The Top 10 Things to Change:

  1. Bank
  2. Gas
  3. Supermarket
  4. Retail Stores
  5. Car
  6. Seafood
  7. Chocolate
  8. Coffee
  9. Credit Cards
  10. Cleaning Products

When I read through some popular categories, I was shocked to learn that many products that I buy are evil corporate villains, so here are some of my changes:

No more:

  • Boca Burgers
  • Angel Soft toilet paper
  • Exxon, Mobil, Chevron or Texaco (I always want to avoid the worst ones, so now I know who they are)
  • GE
  • Revlon (animal testing!)
  • Chapstick (F rating!)
  • Marshall's, Dillard's (no code of conduct for sweatshops, refuses business practice disclosure!)
  • Starkist tuna (seafood in general may be getting nixed for me as its hard for me to remember which is good, and most is bad so I think its time.)
  • Any of the Kraft family, I'm working on knowing all the names, but usually a quick glance of packaging will do it.

More support of:

  • Seventh Generation (already one I love)
  • Eden Foods
  • BP Gas
  • Organic Valley
  • Luna (A+ Rating! vs Balance's F)
  • Amy's Foods
  • Dr. Bronner's (the almond scent is so yummy)

This book is the answer to not only "avoiding the assholes", but also not supporting them, which is even more powerful. Would you support someone who dumps their trash in the street outside your house or abuses the kids next door? Then don't give your money to these companies that do these kinds of awful things all over the world.

Buy the Book for $10 (free shipping!) / Check out the research, etc. on the website

What informed and caring decisions will you make?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Woolworth Discovery: Rhea Fitzgerald

In the middle of downtown Asheville, there is a building that once held Woolworth. Now it is the home of an old fashioned soda fountain cafe and displays over 100 local artists' creations. I found the following piece by Rhea Fitzgerald, and wanted to share as it made me smile about life in general, but especially about my life these days:

"I am a lover, a dreamer, a believer in magic. I bought the copyright on the fantasy of living happily ever after despite monumental efforts by those in the real world to protect me from myself.

I have taken every chance I have to learn to pay attention and wonder. Perhaps the wonder was simply, "Wonder why I do this?" or "Wonder when lunch is?", but mostly its been taking a big bite of the juiciness and letting it dribble down my chin kind of wondering.

I laugh longer, cry louder, and dream deeper than ever in my life and I wouldn't exchange a bit of it for the pain of a day of life inside the lines. "

-Rhea Fitzgerald (who I wish had a website!)
*photo courtesy of www.ashevilleartgallery.net

Weekend Recap: Asheville Adventures

I feel like since the moment I drove into the city Asheville greeted me with opened arms and then gave me a big hug and hasn't let go since. The overall warmth, generosity and soul of the city is felt when you walk the hilly sidewalks and chat with the friendly natives. There is such a strong sense of community, art, love, music, nature and health that its almost overwhelming. I can definitely see myself planted here for some time so that I can continue to soak up its goodness. Its like the mountains breathe fresh air into the city each day.

We drove into town on Saturday morning and I headed to Ten Thousand Villages to volunteer for the afternoon. This terrific organization "provides vital, fair trade income to developing countries by marketing their handicrafts and telling their stories in North America". Therr stores (and website) are filled with handmade fun that is really too awesome to resist. When you walk in you are instantly flown around the world to India, Bangldesh and Cambodia, with a quick stop in South Africa to liven things up. There are hand woven scarves, painted prayer flags, new toys, musical instraments, candles, chocolate, jewelry, bags, ceramics, books, wood works and more. There are even things that have been turned into other things, like this great bag that was originally chip bags! My task for the day was to work with the other 5 volunteers and unpack a big shipment that had just arrived from the artisans worldwide. It was fun to try to guess the country it was from - they work with over 35, so its quite a challenge! I had to laugh as I was unwrapping tiny toys wrapped in Chinese newspaper as it was the best wrapped of any of the items. It wasn't difficult work, but very satisfying and after my shift I wandered the store and saw many of the items displayed that had just arrived. The store is a nonprofit and buy from the same artists year after year to help them have sustainable longterm income. If a particular item isn't selling anymore, they even work with the artists to develop new products using their same skills. I couldn't resist picking up a few things, one of which i'm currently completely obsessed with, but that's an entire other blog, so hopefully I'll get to that tonight. Go shop!

After volunteering I met back up with Tau and we headed to Laughing Seed, a famous veggie restaurant that more than lived up to its name. A must-do is you're in town.

I had arranged for us to stay with a couchsurfer that night so called her to see when would be a good time to stop by to get settled. It turned out that she was out for the night, but said "Oh I'll just leave the porch door open for you; your room is the first one on the right upstairs". Really? Yep, no questions asked. We had never met this person, we hadn't even exchanged that many phone calls! Couchsurfing is doing exactly what I had hoped it would do, it restores your faith in humanity, and I hadn't even lost it! We drove to the east side of town and up the hill into a wonderfully charming neighborhood. The houses were well kept and had sprawling lawns and gardens carfully placed around the towering trees. We arrived at the address that Cara the Couchsurfer had given me and hoped that we were in the right place and weren't going to accidentally make ourselves at home in her neighbors house instead. Luckily there was a sweeet welcome note scribbed out for us on the door, so we knew we were in the right spot. We entered the house and were welcomed by classical music playing beautifully dimmed lights in several of the gigantic rooms. There was 2 living rooms, both filled with interesting decor, great paint colors and books galore. Welcome home! Cara has impreccable taste and her home welcomes you with warmth and great couches to snuggle into. If this wasn't enough of a "welcome to Asheville" on our first night, we ended up going downtown and hanging out with her and several friends, many of whom are in the tight knit Asheville Couchsurfing network. The friendliness of the town amazes me everyday - especially since I'm now staying with one of the girls that I met that night!

On Sunday, Cara, Katie (my current host) and I stolled through the River Arts District, a warehouse area that has been transformed into over 100 artist studios. There was art of all kinds, but a few really caught my attention so I'll share in case anyone is looking for a great gift. Michael Hofman creates porecilin pieces of every size and shape with the impression of lace in them. Since porecilin clay is so delicate, you can press any kind of lace into it and then fire and glaze it as usual and you get a really unique looking piece of pottery. These would be great gifts for someone who has a piece of lace (mother/grandmother's veil, baby dress, etc.) that they want to use to create an amazing piece of art that will last a lifetime, since the real thing may get a pretty gross from one generation to the next. The other noteworthy thing we saw was a machine that propels rubber chickens. Art? Sure, why not. There are tons of great artists in this area that sell their creations for reasonable prices, offer art classes, and open their studios on the weekends. Strolling through was a great way to spend an Asheville afternoon.

Sunday night Tau and I were invited to stay with our friends the Rayboys just outside of town in Marion, NC. Jordan and Jeska are a young couple who have a lifestyle that many dream of, and most don't do until maybe retirement, if ever. The Rayboys own a successful recruiting company and recently realized that they only need a phone and the internet to operate the business, so why not use a phone and internet all over the country instead of in an office in Plantation, FL? Three years later they are still criss crossing the country in their awesomely amazing Fleetwood RV. They put their work hours in during normal business hours, but they do it in North Carolina one month and Iowa the next. They get to run the business completly remotely, which allows them to explore on te nights and weekends whereever they happen to be at the time! They have had some amazing experiences and I hope that they can tackle documenting some of them in a way that others can hear the great stories that we got to listen to over Jeska's delicious eggplant lasagna that night.

Enjoying art, meeting new friends, and exploring the city made for a damn good weekend.

Monday, June 15, 2009

To Biltmore, or to build less?

I'm currently living in Asheville, NC, home to many artists, musicians, nature lovers, organic eaters and teva-wearers. Driving around downtown Asheville, you see sustainable clothing stores, vintage shops, inviting restaurants and tourists and locals happily mingling together. The buildings are mostly brick and have a classic character to them that makes you feel at home in the mountain city.

About 5 minutes south of downtown, all of a sudden you're transformed into something like Disneyworld meets Mountain lodge- the Biltmore Village. There's the real brick buildings downtown, and then there's the new, but built to look like old, Biltmore Village buildings. Downtown - fun local cafes and stores, Villages - a McDonald's with a piano in it. I drove past the sign for the Biltmore Estate on our first day in Asheville, and I didn't even give it a second glance. "Welcome to the Biltmore Estate, The Largest Home in America". Really? The biggest home in the whooole country?? Good for you buddy, but I'm a fan of success, not excess.

The "home" was built by the Vanderbuilts, and over 1 million people visit each year to "ooh" and "ahh" at the opulence. The widow of the man that built it donated a good chunk of the originally purchased land to the government and it became Pisgah National Forest, and they do other philanthropic activity, so that's a point in their column, but regardless, I have no desire to go there. I know some people go to admire the architecture and the gardens, etc., but the sign itself it such a turnoff to me that I don't really care about the rest. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the "finer things in life" and some may even think that I lead a life of excess in some ways, but some excess is just absurd in my opinion. Having the need to build the biggest house in the country, go bankrupt doing it, and then charge people to come see your bankrupt-causing painted ceilings is pretty high on my absurd chart.

I don't mean to insult anyone who has paid the $51.50 to "ooh" and "ahh" at this popular attraction, but I do like pointing out things that I think are questionable so that we can all take a step back and observe how we spend our time and money because I think it says alot about us. Its always good to be evaluating and reevaluating ourselves so that we can be constantly growing and evolving. Call me an idealist, call me an optimist, but I hope we're evolving to a point where someone doesn't feel the need to build the "it's even going to be bigger than the Biltmore" house and instead spend their time, money and resources on something slightly more productive.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy North Carolina

Today was a great North Carlina day! I woke up to the sound of a buzzing phone alarm clock and was instantly excited - it was rafting day! When planning my travels, Asheville area was one of the first spots on the map and while here I definitely wanted to do some white water rafting! As a kid, my family visited this area several times and I had the great opportunity to paddle through some white water several summers in a row. I haven't rafted in years so I've been really excited to go again as part of this journey.

Robert the Farmer recommended a small local outfitter called Blue Heron White Water. The new company is owned by 3 individuals who had all been working for large corporate outfitters for years. When I called to make the reservation, Sandy, one of the owners, couldn't have been nicer so I instantly booked for a 5 mile, 2-3 hour, trip down the French Broad which is right by our house. It seems silly, but the fact that they have a great logo and a blog on their site made me like them even more. I love supporting local small businesses!

This morning felt cold even before I crawled out of my sleeping bag, and looking at the window confirmed that it was going to be a very grey, and possibly very wet, morning. A light rain was failing and the clouds hung low in the mountains. I remembered seeing "rain or shine" on the Blue Heron website, so we grabbed bathing suits, towels, a change of clothes and my new waterproof camera and headed down the mountain in the rain. Blue Heron is located right on the main road (25/70) that brings you from Asheville to Marshall, so it was just a few minnutes down the street. Sandy and Ciero were there waiting when we arrived just after 9 and after PFD fiting (new name for lifevest) and waiver signing, we drove back north to get in the river. The rain was really coming down, but when we asked if we should be concerned, we actually learned good news that although now seems obvious we hadn't thought of in the morning. The rain makes the river more fun. Rain = more water = more rapids! The 5 mile stretch of the French Broard River that we were rafting only has class I-III rapids, so we were a fan of any amount of water that was going to pump those up! Hopefully later in the trip we'll be able to do even bigger rapids, but this was a great ride to get aquainted again, and Tau had never been, so it was a good introduction for him. By luck, Tau and I were the only riders on the morning trip, so with Sandy as our guide we had a private tour and lighter (faster) boat. As we shoved off the river bank I took the seat in the front left of the boat, which put Tau in the middle right and Sandy steering in the back left. Although Tau and I couldn't seem to paddle together at all, the river was easy enough that it didn't matter much anyway. The scenery was breathtaing - low hanging fog with multiple layers of mountain in the back drop.

Sandy was incredibly knowldegable about not only the river, but also the history of the area. Fun Facts about the French Broard:
  • It was used as a guide for drovers moving cattle "back in the day", so small towns like Marshall popped along the river to cater to drover's needs.
  • With the runoff from mountain farms and factories, it was considered a Dead River for a long time until the mid-1970's. This label meant that it was so poluted that fish couldn't even live in, hence the "dead". With the Clean Water Act of 1970 and locals taking action to clean it up, it now has a B rating. The fish are back, you can safely swim in it and towns around the river continue to protect it. (An "A" rating means that you can drink out of it).

  • The 5 mile run goes from Banard (just north of Marshall) to Stackhouse. There is a large house up on the mountain at the end point that was built in 1908. Amos and Hester Stackhouse paid $20,000 to escavate the land to build a house that only cost $4,000. They had 4 sons and one of the sons and his wife still live there. The rest of the town was wiped out in the Flood of 1916, but the Stackhouse home remained since it was so high above the river. It must be great fun to hear all the stories this family has of seeing people come through this part of the world...

Between the great scenery, splashing rapids and private tour, I coulnd't have asked for a better ride for my $42. I hope to continue to raft and to get into bigger and bigger rapids. I'd pick the addrenline of a wave crashing onto you over the drop in The Tower of Terror any day.

If the morning wasn't North Carolinian enough, the evening really put the day over the top. There's a coffee shop in Marshall called Zuma Cafe and on Thursday nights they stay open late (9pm) and feature fantastic blue grass music. We arrived around 4pm to work at one of their many tables and were amazed at how many people continuously trickled in from then on, it must've been the whole damn town! Zuma offers the usual wide variety of coffee drinks, as well as milk shakes, smoothies and an impressive cafe menu with soups, salads and sandwiches. The Special of the Night was a roasted veggie lasangna with fresh (and local) side salad for $10. Sold! Dinner!

The band members started tuning up around 7pm and before long they were jamming on a variety of instruments including the banjo, and lots of other string things of all sizes that I can't name. The would take turns soloing and singing and the whole place clapped along while enjoying their sandwich, milkshake or salad. A few songs even inspired some country jigging and slow dancing!

Tau and I had a table in the corner and were working while enjoying the festivities. I got lots of photos uploaded and continued to search for a place to stay next week. I know where I'm sleeping from now until Sunday, and then from Wednesday on, but Monday and Tuesday are two very open holes right now. I've messaged about 15 people on Couch Surfing, so I'm hoping the Asheville CS-ers pull through. Otherwise, I also have some options outside of town, but I'd really love to soak in Asheville all week before heading north to Virginia. Its only Thursday though, so I don't really have to know where I'm living next week right?

I'm heading back to the mountain now, hoping that tomorrow brings even a tiny percetange of the smiles that today brought.

Happy North Carolina!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Photos are a'comin

I know I've been majoring slacking in one area and I appreciate some of you bringing it to my attention via angry voicemails and emails. I think as of this week I've been living on the road for about 3 weeks, so like any new life adjustment, it takes some time to let the dust settle and attempt to get into a routine of sorts...and figure out when there's time to post photos! I've been taking lots of fun ones, and Tau has been taking even more, so hopefully the links will be flowing from here on out. To backtrack a bit, here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks:

Monday, June 8, 2009

Travel Day: Brunswick to Marshall via Columbia, SC and Asheville, NC

If you type in “Brunswick to Marshall” into Google Maps, it will tell you its about an 7.5 hour drive. Well, that’s on a highway, and doesn’t include stops to take photos of pretty roads, fun roadside farmstores and miniature horses that you may find along the way. If you include all the fun things, and avoid the highway whenever possible, the 7.5 hours turns into two days. Two days filled with fresh air and fun driving with a great stopover in Columbia, SC. We met Andy in Columbia, he was our couchsurfing host for the night. He, along with Kimmie his girlfriend and Giga the adorable, but untrusting dog, were the most gracious hosts in his big fantastic 1920’s house. Its hardwood floors and classic hardware made me feel instantly at home. (What is it about shiny white and silver hooks on a classic bathroom wall that is so delightful?) Although it was strange to shower inside after a week of amazing outdoor forest shower, his retro bathroom made me smile. If I ever buy I house, I want it to be from the 20’s, they had some much style back then. We had left Brunswick at 3pm, and didn’t get into Andy’s until after 10, so a comfty bed and big fluffy down comforter was an amazing thing to fall into. It was the first time I hadn’t woken up to the sunrise shining on my face at dawn, but it was a damn good night’s sleep!

Andy is yet another example of what Couch Surfing is all about. He is the director of programming for the Nickelodeon, the local, nonprofit, independent movie theater in town. He also organizes Indi Grits, a southern-themed film festival that just completed its third successful year.

I wish we could’ve stayed longer and seen more of Columbia, but we hit the road early the next morning heading towards North Carolina. We drove through several small towns, lots of regal trees and humble farms. We ended up in Spartanburg, SC around lunch time, so Charley’s was lunch that day (I'm not recommending it, so no link). There was 2 interesting things about Charley’s:
  1. They still have Smoking and Non Smoking sections of tables. Florida may be waaaay behind on some things, but I do appreciate that you can’t smoke in restaurants there, even if some people still think its an intrusion on personal rights. Sorry, but I really question the intelligence of cigarette smokers.
  2. Our waiter greeted us with an extraordinary thick and very proper British accent. So heavy and proper that I had a really hard time not picturing him as the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast. Lawrence the good looking Brit wasn't thrilled about being in Spartanburg, as I'd imagine he's a bit of the town freak and people just ask him to talk all day long so they can point and laugh (as opposed to me who could've listened to him all day). Lawrence soo did not want to come to Spartanburg that he got arrested for being too drunk in the London airport when he left the UK on the way to the US. (Can’t say that I’m that surprised since he went from Manchester to Spartanburg).

My ears first popped just as we crossed the state line into North Carolina, as the roads began to wind and rocks jutting out of the mountain became a wall next to my car. We were leaving behind the flat fields and heat of the south and entering into fresh mountain air and rolling hills of Appalachia.

Forest Lessons

So I went into the forest and was basically cut off from the world for a week. I snuck in a phone call or two and checked email maybe twice, but that was it. It gave me some time to think, breathe, paint, laugh and grow. It did not however give me time to blog. There is no way to catch up and try to recreate the details of my days in the forest, but I will share some lessons learned that are not only good forest lessons, but can definitely be applied to life “on the outside”:
  • When going to get anything out of your car in the “parking lot” aka “mosquito nesting ground”, be sure to not only have your sarong (athanku pharmer may) wrapped around your head and arms, but also be sure that you just soaked your otherwise enviro-friendly self in not so enviro-friendly DEET. You can try the natural stuff, the good smelling stuff, or the “I’ll just run really fast theory”, but they don’t work. Its DEET or death by mosquito swarm. Despite the DEET and sarong, you’ll still have to do a dance that is part funky chicken and part moonwalk to keep them off of you. [Lesson learned: take proper precaution and be prepared ]
  • When staying at a hostel that has a beautiful lake, jump in and enjoy as soon as you get there! (not 3 days later when you only have 2 days left to soak up its goodness). [Lesson learned: don’t procrastinate; enjoy and participate in the opportunities that are around you ]
  • Learn as many plant names as possible. Not only will it help you complete your task of picking bay leaves for dinner, but it will also help when you’re trying to hammer your hand painted garden stakes in the ground. Corn is pretty easy, but a sweet potato plant looks nothing like a sweet potato.[Lesson learned: know where your food comes from]
  • Spend some time watching the chickens and the ducks. At the hostel, there are 35 chickens and 7 ducks and they demonstrate how all community situations should be handled: with a quick squawk and cluck, but then it’s over and they all happily waddle on together. [Lesson learned: resolve conflicts quickly and don’t hold grudges]
  • One really gross looking bug bite is fine to just ignore, even when the second one appears and swells your arm to oblivion you can probably assume it was just some hungry forest critter. However, when #3 swells up one toe and #4 makes you dizzy, you may want to consider where they are coming from. Don’t wait until after #5, 6, and 7 infect your heel, calf and foot to shake out your sheets and find the teeny tiny spider that’s been chomping you each night. [Lesson learned: don’t put up with bad things happening to you. That not so nice boyfriend? Don’t let him be not so nice 7 times until you “shake out the sheets”. Same goes for that not so fulfilling job, shirt that doesn’t fit, or old pair of running shoes that make your knees hurt way more than they should. Shake ‘em all out.]
  • Pay attention during your daily Tai Chi class in the Glass House. You never know when your instructor might ask you to become the improv teacher for a new group of travelers. [Lesson learned: we are all students and teachers]
  • One night, swim in the lake, but then next night, do some writing so your blog followers don’t think you’ve died. [Lesson learned: balance work and play, the line tends to get a bit blurry, especially when you really enjoy both]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I'm not dead :)

Hi all, just wanted to send a quick note to all you awesome blog followers on where I've disappeared to.

My laptop is currently locked in my trunk...with my car keys!! I'm working on solving that today so that I can update because I know I'm days behind and I have lots to share about the AMAZING Hostel in the Forest.

As soon as my laptop is freed, blogging is first on the list, so be back soon...