Weekly Update 5-26-2008

Posted May 26th, 2008

This week at the hostel saw not one but two sweatlodges. The first was our regular full moon sweat, attended by mostly first-time participants – only two of our guests had been in a sweatlodge previously. Despite several challenges, such as initial overbooking, difficulty procuring rocks, and Tom having just returned from a vacation, everything came together that morning and there was much joy, celebration, and release in the lodge. Our manager Papillon poured water for his second time, and firetender Peaches went on a ninja mission to a quarry, getting us rocks the night before we were to sweat. Thank you to all who sweated, and if you are coming from an area that has non-porous, two-fist-sized rocks that have not lived in water recently, please bring us some for our next sweatlodge ceremony – we prefer to use new rocks for each lodge.

The following day the staff had a sweatlodge ceremony, poured by our garden tech Carlyn. It was a time for us to come together and renew our spirits after a long hard spring season, which is slowly winding down, and to say goodbye to Jonathan Fellis, our compost tech and big smiler. Thanks Junebug, and keep smiling out there.

This Memorial Day weekend was our last super-busy weekend, and we actually had a record number of last-minute cancellations, due to sickness, death of pets, and (we assume) rising gas prices. Of course the slots were filled as fast as they were vacated, as the weather here has been beautiful and we had many others calling to see about cancellations. Due to both the number of folks coming here to do some personal healing work and the arrival of a massage therapist to do work exchange for 3 days, we declared the weekend to be “Healing & Feeling” with extra hugs and foot massages encouraged. The glass house became a center for all kinds of healing work, including massage, reiki, yoga, and pilates. Thank you all who attended for helping us to wind down out of an intense busy season and move gently into the summer. This week also brought bountiful gifts from guests, including a gift card from Dan from Valdosta for the Hostel to use for things we need, and several pounds of venison burger from Jerry from Athens. Thanks y’all!

The yellowflies have arrived and are hungry for blood, but despite the heavy rains the last few days, the mosquitoes are notably absent. As the yellowfly season is short, lasting only a few weeks, it doesn’t seem like a bad trade-off so far.

This week the Hostel also made several advances in our mission to become ever more sustainable and conscious of our impact on the environment. Our first change is to stop ordering t-shirts made in other countries and instead to buy clothing at the local thrift stores. Not only does this stop giving money to questionable practices, it also emphasizes recycling and reusing, which is fundamental to our mission. Eventually we intend to silkscreen them ourselves, though for now we are having them printed locally. Also we are moving away from recycling plastic. Not only is it an energy-inefficient process, but plastics are melted down and then added to other hard plastics or petroleum products that eventually end up in a landfill anyway, unlike glass or newspaper, which can be recycled over and over again. So please be aware of the plastic containers (such as boxes of 24 tiny water bottles) you’re bringing to the Hostel when you do your shopping, as soon we will not accept them in our recycling bins or our trash. More information, including some links to research, will be included soon on our website as we institute these changes.

Lastly, our manager Papillon had a birthday on Monday, and Tom’s birthday is this week, so if you can’t be here to throw us in the pool, send us your best wishes.

Quote of the week: “I say it in my mind and then send it like a secret message.” Will Wallace, age 7, on how to effectively play single notes on the banjo.

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff

Weekly Update 5-18-2008

Posted May 18th, 2008

Things have been busy as ever here at the Hostel. One night around the campfire we had an open mic poetry, spoken word and song sharing where we all opened our hearts and ears to hear some good word. Another night we had a burning party around the lake campfire where we burned things, both physically and metaphorically, that needed to be let go of. For Cinco de Mayo we learned a little bit about what the holiday is, and celebrated with some homebrew we made ourselves here in the kitchen. Another night we had a Native American peace pipe circle ceremony, with a homemade peace pipe built in the traditional design and traditional Native American peace pipe herbs and some teaching about Native American traditions and religion. We’ve even had a couple old fashioned movie nights with a projector and a bed sheet and pillows and warm bodies. We’ve also been continuing our mini workshops with guitar lessons, and fermentation workshops, and the gardeners have set up an urban garden to teach how you can have your own garden no matter where you live.

We have welcomed onto staff Laeo from Asheville, who is the resident chicken shaman and handyman. We are happy to have him as part of the Hostel family. On a sad note though, our forest pixie Paige has left us to move on back home. Her absence is felt throughout the forest. And, dear Hostelites, it is with the heaviest of hearts that I announce my own time has come to leave the forest. For the past four months I have enjoyed our weekly one-way palavers, and I thank you for your time reading them. I wish to leave you with one final quote; one of my favorite quotes. “Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust – we all dance to a mysterious tune, intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.” (~Albert Einstein.) I hope for the honor to write you again sometime, but until then, you are always in my heart.

Love, Whitney

Until next time,

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff

Weekly Update 5-9-2008

Posted May 9th, 2008

The honeysuckle and jasmine all around the Hostel and in the Secret Garden are filling the air like magical elixirs and intoxicating us with their heaven-on-earth perfumes. Thanks to the constant dedication of our gardeners Zachary and Carlyn and all the help thrown down by the rest of the staff and guests, the garden has fully shaken off the sleep of winter and as new beds have been cleared and old beds upgraded, our summer crops are almost entirely planted now. Colorfully stained hands is the newest fashion trend around the Hostel thanks to the wild raspberries and blackberries that are springing up all over the place, and we are still patiently awaiting the ripening of our blueberries. I hope you all have been practicing your blueberry baking recipes. Speaking of recipes, if anyone knows any good chicken dishes, we still have some hens we need to let go of. Just joking! Seven of our chickens have been adopted by our neighbor Floyd who owns a petting zoo where they are being taken great care of and children and adults alike are enjoying them. If you are interested in owning a Hostel chicken, you can still email us or stop by.

Since Carlyn and Zachary have joined the Hostel team, we have been blessed to have yoga classes in the Glass House almost every morning as these two share their knowledge and practice with us. Jonathan has been exploring and teaching how to make didgeridoos and other instruments from natural materials. We are always finding new ways and means to enable, educate, and enlighten on all things environmental, cultural, and spiritual. ‘Everything important is already known, the only thing is to rediscover it,’ so said the mysteriously unknown Greek philosopher Anon. We are very interested in getting some grants written for the development of our infrastructure and our continuing development as and educational ecocenter. David and Natalie from Atlanta and Lauren from Tallahassee have given us some great advice so far. If you have any advice or skills in this area, we would love your help.

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff

Weekly Update 5-2-2008

Posted May 2nd, 2008

This week, both the lake garden and the secret garden have received some good good lovin’, both of the human and the insect kind. While the bees have been busy making flowers, the beetles have been busy eating the cabbage. If anybody knows any advice they can offer that is an organic, earth-friendly and people friendly way to deal with this problem, we would love to listen.

Since the throes of spring break have finally ended and things are staring to slow down, the staff has been able to take more recreational time lately with the guests. On Wednesday night we took a field trip into Babylon for some bowling, where a new game was created, soon to be all the rage at an alley near you. With every round of the game, a new pose must be chosen, and every bowler must throw from that pose. While the yoga lotus pose and bowling through you legs from behind both work well, the yoga tree pose and spinning around 5 times before bowling we still need some practice on. Thursday night we had another garden party, this time with salad and bass freshly speared from the lake by Jonathon. Sunday night we had an evening concerto as Devon from Montreal played the violin on the screen porch, and the sounds echoed off into the woods to blend with music of the animals. Every night the sky is lighting up in a spectacular show with fireflies so thick against the black forest it’s hard to tell them from the stars against the black sky. The flickering of lights amongst the trees I like to imagine as Morse Code for the lesson taught by Crowfoot, chief of the Blackfoot First Nation in Canada, with his last words: “What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” If life is so beautiful as such things, what fear should we have of the end…

Now for a note of business, we have a chicken situation on our hands. There are simply too many ladies for the roosters to look after, so we are going to have to relocate a few hens. If anyone is interested in owning a hostel chicken and already has a good home for them and promises that it’s not in the oven, then contact us and we can work something out.

Until next time,

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff