Saturday, July 31, 2010

Gathering Is Almost Over

[Tonight's fundraiser: beautiful men with purses collect pledges during dinner. Thanks, Adam and Charles!]

I wish there was time to personally enjoy this gathering. Here's what today looked like, roughly:

7:30 - (slept in late) tea
8:00 - breakfast and chat with a friend
9:00 - bookkeeping: processing expenses
10:00 - bookkeeping: processing income
11:00 - strategizing and finding volunteers for tonight's fundraising
12:00 - preparing for finance meeting
1:00 - finance meeting teleconference
1:30 - lunch
2:00 - proposal prep for next week's semi-annual meeting
4:30 - work with cook to budget final weekend food purchases
5:00 - chat with a friend about another proposal for next week
6:00 - pull donations and registrations from lock boxes, tabulate income
7:00 - dinner and fundraising
9:00 - sleep

And that's pretty much how every day of the gathering looks for me. No frolicking in the river, no heartfelt discussions on how any of this feels, no ruminating with friends on the future of our tribe. (And no weaving, which means I'll be doing double-time once it's over.) Just lots of thankless volunteer work. I'm tired.

Friday, July 30, 2010


The apprentice has surpassed the master, so to speak. Tower is learning the ropes of weaving from me. His first project has been to learn, set up, teach, and oversee a community weaving fundraiser. He is doing amazingly well at every part of it!

He has taken a few simple suggestions on potential techniques and turned them into beautiful rugs. If he chose to, I think he could make a decent living just weaving these from old clothes left around the land. He's now knows more about rag rug weaving than I do.

Enough blather, take a look!

[Clasped weft for a stunning effect]

[Understated inlay on velvet. Gorgeous!]

[The whole setup at night. Thanks for the lights, TJ!]

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rugs and Hornets

[Pile of clothes turning into strips]

[8 rugs, waiting to be cut off]

The gathering is going well. People are having a great time. The last few days involved lots of little tasks: finishing and distributing our newsletter, managing the finances, collecting registration forms, working on proposals for our semi-annual meeting next week and most exciting, distributing fly parasites.

This was actually the funniest thing. We do two things here that encourage flies: use composting pit toilets, and compost our kitchen scraps. When we have large numbers of people on the land, our fly population explodes. We use many hanging bags of fly attractant to keep the numbers down, but it doesn't seem to do much good.
This year, we're trying a new technique: parasitic wasps. These tiny wasps lay their eggs in fly maggots and kill them before they mature. Here's the funny part... Word got out that I was waiting for them to arrive in the mail. In the rumor mill, tiny wasps turned into giant hornets. I introduced myself to a new visitor and he blanched. I asked what was wrong. He said, "are you the one who's going to release a swarm of hornets in the middle of the gathering?" When I stopped laughing, I told him that it was already done and they were harmless wasps the size of a fruitfly. Then at dinner circle I brought the bag with a couple tiny wasps still in it so people could see how small and harmless they are. It's funny how rumors work.

[Bag of parasitic wasps and larvae. See the tiny specks at the top? That's them.]

[Stunning Sunset]

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Day Off, Sort Of

[Rug weaving demonstration and silent auction]

Today has been slow and pretty lazy. After yesterday's ridiculous stress I really needed to take it slow.

I woke up late and took a long time to find people to help move the rug weaving operation down the hill. We loaded it onto a cart and hauled it all down, getting it set up by about noon.

Then I strung a new necklace. It's funny. This happens about once a year, usually mid-Summer. The strand of beads I've worn all year just doesn't feel right and a new one appears. This year was awesome! I gave a gorgeous strand of iolite to a friend about 10 years ago. She has loved the stones all these years and gave them back to me a few weeks ago. Tower let me choose some spacer stones from his collection so now I have a choker with two colors of iolite accented with tiny, sparkly light blue topaz. This necklace looks like a starry night. It's perfect for my life at this time.

[Iolite and blue topaz. Yum!]

The instant I slipped it around my neck there was a knock on my door. It was the president of our organization come to have a chat. I wish I could trust anything he has to say.

After that was done I balanced the books, counted the cash and wrote up paperwork for donations of food.

Then I took a quick nap and cooled off in the infinity pool. It was so nice to have that kind of time for once. I don't really, but it's nice to pretend sometimes.

Dinner was a delightful Indian-inspired affair after which I sat around chatting with friends until the temperature dropped. Now it's 11:30 and I don't want to sleep because the air is cool and lovely. The moon is up and people are wandering around having fun.

I think I'll make afternoon naps a habit until the weather cools down a bit.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Staggering Amount Of Work

[Infinity pool, Wolf Creek style. Fed by the spring, it makes hot days bearable if you can find the time to use it.]

This day turned out nothing like I planned. I woke up ready to hold my Purse Queen office hours, set up the registration scene and move the rug weaving operation down to where people can see it for our fundraiser.

I got down the hill and didn't even have a chance to drink my tea before the world came crashing down. It turned out that we have nowhere near the amount of money we needed to buy all of the food, the treasurer was on an airplane and unable to transfer more, and the gathering starts tomorrow.

Sooooo, I updated the accounting records so I'd have perfect numbers to work from, performed some fancy (and well-documented) flim-flam, and wrote out detailed instructions so the kitchen crew would know how to perform the rest of the shopping. It took 5 hours of hair-splitting work. I'll reconcile again tomorrow, but I think I was able to pay for
enough food for half of the week.

And what will the participants in the gathering notice? Nothing at all with any luck. They'll be eating lovely food and having a great time without a care in the world, just as it should be. (According to recent customs. I'm old enough to remember when the gathering did much of the work of preparing for itself.)

Then I got the registration scene set and retired to the shade to process timesheets from the rug weaving project. When the rugs sell, part of the money is going toward our utilities, but the rest will be distributed among the people who worked on them. I like things to be fair and clearly communicated.

Then I worked for a few hours on our organization's newsletter before dinner. Tonight was leftovers, but they were delicious and exactly what we needed: salty, meaty pot pie. I had signed up for dishes so I did them, thankfully with a few volunteers to help. Then it was off with my Princess to collect donations and get back to the newsletter for a few hours before bed.

Notice that I never did get the weaving booth or rug auction set up say nothing of my own work. First thing tomorrow, before the heat arrives.

Hosting Gatherings

The main purpose for acquiring the Sanctuary was to host gatherings. In the beginning, people came together for a week or two to prepare the land for each gathering. Over the years that has shifted so that nowadays people expect to arrive and find everything prepared for them.

This is an immense amount of work. I mean, it's a big enough chore to keep things maintained "well enough", but to add the gathering polish takes all available hands working all day every day for at least a week.

We had a private gathering last week. The land wasn't quite ready, but done well enough for them to enjoy themselves and have a successful week. Then we had one week to get ready for the most important gathering of the year: the Spiritual Gathering of Radical Faeries. This gathering is the reason we bought the land.

On the first of July, I took on a new responsibility: Purse Queen. This job entails managing all of the money that gets earned or spent on the land. Once I've got all the systems in place, this will be a one-hour-a-day job. Right now, though, it takes about two.

I believe that bookkeeping needs to be done to the penny. If there's any margin for error, it's very difficult to figure out how big that error is. I've developed new systems and procedures to ensure that we know who is spending how much money on what. Every night at dinner the receipts are collected and change checked against petty cash taken out. In the morning over tea, the previous day is ledgered, the cash counted, and new cash logged out as necessary.

I've also set up a new system for receiving donations. The old system was not secure. Many people were collecting money, putting themselves in the way of temptation. "If I borrow a couple dollars, I'll totally pay it back next week." I don't think that anyone would steal from us, but I do think that mistakes are bound to happen in a loose system. The new system is simple and accountable: all money is collected in locked boxes. They are only opened by two people who fill out a form recording how much came in. Each person gets a copy and the books get a copy. Ta-dah! A transparent and dependable system for receiving income!

To truly manifest this new accounting workflow, I built us a new lock box named Tricia. (It sounds like "treasure" when spoken with the right accent.)

[Tricia, the treasure chest with new registration forms and a box of homemade bracelets]

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Changing the Focus of my Blog

I haven't really written in a while. This is for several reasons.

First, production weaving isn't all that exciting to write about. It involves weaving the same thing over and over again. Sometimes the colors change, but not much else.

Second, my vision for a crafts monastery is ramping into high gear. I've stepped into a more active role in the Wolf Creek Sanctuary community with my eyes always on the horizon that will lead to the development of the monastery of my dreams.

I write this blog on my phone, but when I get myself to a real computer I'll change the name of the blog to reflect my interest in business development, consensual community-building, and queer spirituality. I think this change of focus will get me back in the saddle of posting regularly.

In the meantime, look at my new haircut for Summer:

[I'm not a Buddhist, but I play one on TV.]

Monday, July 19, 2010

Rag Rugs!

The last month has been interesting. I'm teaching folks here to weave, starting with my apprentice, Tower.

The project is simple and fun: we're taking old cloth that accumulates around the land and turning it into rugs. Torn bedsheets, old clothes, nothing is safe from our high-speed cutting machine!

The resulting rugs will be sold at the big summer gathering to raise money for our wintertime utilities. At this point, most of the people in the community have put in at least a few hours working on this project. It'll really pay off when we don't have to worry about utility bills during our off season.

Tower has done most of the real work on this project, warping the loom himself and supervising the new people as they learn the basics of weaving with rag strips.

[Tower setting up the loom]

[Vibrant and Dylan cutting rag strips]

[Tower with some rugs]

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Images from the Land

[Dracunculus smells like rotten meat.]

[Sunbow on a hazy day]

[A pretty sunset last week]