Pilgrim of this Moment

Wren on July 22nd, 2008

My new pet, gurrlfriend/boifriend, speaker of those bottle rocket fears, operator of those hands, and what else can that mouth do? I am so edgy tickled you have landed here for a while. Welcome to the possibility that you might get what you need even as you protest that you may or may not want it/trust it/taste it.

Welcome to my hut in the woods that smells like pond dogs and sounds like a relaxation birdcall CD. Take scratchy dreadlocks and three hours sleep. Take or leave the chore list and remember to warm the hammock with slow streamside breaths. When my work is done I might squeeze in and hear you tingle and purr and set off fire crackers of doubt and flow chart scenarios.

It’s about this moment.

The next will have its way with us. Specific as a seed, a thistle won’t grow from the acorn you bring. There’s more in the site you pick, the depth of planting, a drink of water, getting dirty, respiration and the waiting.

Give breath to this presence, like a wordless animal noticing the planet as it turns, then taking another bite of bergamot; like a pilgrim arriving, the stony muscles of travel loosening with an inhale at the sight of the temple–more honest, quiet and timeless than the brochure could show. Touch me here. Pray this moment. The next will have its way with us.

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Wren Tuatha & the Five Fairs

Wren on July 20th, 2008

girl_in_a_hurry_1 I have the subtle stamina of a marketing campaign. I have the tenacity of a beaver. I have the productivity of an entire bee hive. I can do this. I have Earl Grey brewed by the gallon and quinoa cooked seven different ways. Orange juice. Check. Organic corn chips. Check.

Heathcote Earthings is appearing at five county and state fairs from now till the end of September, about sixty fourteen hour days in a row without a break. In the whirlwind, I’ll be squeezing in trips to Kentucky, Virginia and California to spend time with significant others. I have a feeling I’ll be the needy one…

Why torture myself to sell crystals and smudge sticks between pig races and tractor pulls? Well, I will mention that when I scheduled this, I didn’t know that by the summer I’d have three long distance polyamorous relationships, with sweeties visiting me at Heathcote and inviting me to travel to and fro. We at Earthings have been exploring county fairs for a while. It’s wonderful to be set up in one place for eight to eleven days, almost like have our own brick and mortar! So it’s an evolution that is an outgrowth of our genesis. (Anybody else enjoying that juxtaposition?)

I’ve been working with my friends Herb and Rita Jane from Crystal Cottage in their booth at the Maryland State Fair. They’ve been in the same southeast corner of the Exhibition Hall for about twenty-five years and I’ve been having a blast helping them for maybe eight. They operate a brick and mortar in Tanglewood Mall, Roanoke, Virginia, about half the year. That allows them to travel, garden, make jewelry and do volunteer work for School of Living through the summers.

Crystal Cottage is my inspiration and model for Earthings. When I discovered tumbled gemstones and soaked up their names and meanings, when I discovered glass teardrops, gemstone donuts, Swarovski Austrian crystal prisms, etc., I knew I had the spark to sell them. And when I saw how people from all far flung walks of life were drawn to gemstones with such awe, as if gemstones made them remember something forgotten, as if all the colors, banding, mottling, inclusions and fissures were a lost language, a key to some universe, I knew there was value in putting nature’s art work in front of the public.

Earthings started with the Howard County (Maryland) Fair. Last year we added the York (Pennsylvania) Fair. This year we’re trying Cecil County (Maryland) and Bloomsburg (Pennsylvania). Crazy enough? No! While I’m visiting my mom in Kentucky I’ll help her with her Harmony Habitat booth at the Kentucky State Fair!

Our goal is to determine if we can find enough customers while moving and schlepping less. Some fairs and some festivals are better than others. For example, we’re missing Baltimore’s Artscape to attend Cecil County Fair. We’ll see how they compare.

I’m amused to see our goddess batiks and bumper stickers like “Come the rapture, can I have your car?” in the same hall with a Gideon Bible booth and church groups, with the Boy Scouts selling ice cream on waffle sandwiches outside.

Surviving a mission like this is all about planning, flexibility, good food and sleep. I have several vendor secrets:

  • Good shoes. Fourteen hour days on concrete floors in unairconditioned buildings can melt you from the soles up. Crocs are good. So are nursing shoes and walking or hiking shoes.
  • Rubber mats and carpeting. I carpet my booth with institutional rubber mats at the stations where staff stand for long hours. Often the isleways of my booth are carpeted to give customers and staff a break from brutal concrete.
  • Fans. I point fans where I’m stationed and customer areas. Shoppers really appreciate it!!! If you’re a vendor, pay the silly overpriced electric fee that the facility charges if the hall is unairconditioned.
  • Food. Bring your own food. Fair food is not designed to sustain life. It is designed to teach you humility when you ride the midway. Since I’m vegetarian, almost vegan, I seriously have to bring my own food. Fair fare is all fried flesh, broiled flesh, grilled flesh, flesh-on-a-stick, you get the idea. Often even the french fries have been cooked in the same vat with chicken fingers, fish things, etc., and are not strictly vegetarian. These food vendors are working from a very mysterious food pyramid. I can’t fathom it.
  • Water. Bring it. Bottled water at fairs is often three dollars and you’ll need lots of it.

I can’t wait to see what happens next. I have a sweetie arriving tomorrow. I hope he likes Ferris Wheels!

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Cecil County Fair

Wren on July 16th, 2008

I’m putting down stakes, so to speak, in Elkton, Maryland for the 2008 Cecil County Fair. This is Heathcote Earthings’ first year at this event, which has drawn 90,000 people in the past!

While I was hanging up our batiks and necklace branches today in the Commercial Building, the Deggeller carnies were assembling the midway rides and food vendors where setting up just a few feet away.

(The fairs don’t tend to be too vegetarian friendly. I’m cooking some quinoa-based dishes in advance.)

We’ve been buying for the summer–instruments, strands of beads for jewelry, bumper stickers, buttons and frog mating calls! We’re expanding our Gypsy Rose collection, adding hats (tams and applejacks) as an experiment. If headwear goes well, we may carry the Gypsy Rose clothing line!

We’re also stocking up on our highly popular gemstone heart pendants and our line of diamond etched pewter pendants–dragons, wolves, dolphins, turtles, frogs, fairies, eagles, horses, bears, butterflies, cats, owls, geckos, unicorns and more! Most are made in America and several are lead free!

So gussy up that prize pig and come on down! This is the first of five state or county fairs that we’ll do–in a row:


Fri, Jul 18-Sat, Jul 26, 2008

Fair Hill Fairgrounds, Route 273, Elkton, MD 21921



Sat, Aug 2-Sat, Aug 9, 2008

2210 Fairground Road, West Friendship, MD 21794



Fri, Aug 22-Mon, Sept 1, 2008

Timonium Fairgrounds, Exhibition Hall, Timonium, MD

www.marylandstatefair.com www.crystalcottage.com


Fri, Sept 5-Sun, Sept 14, 2008

York Expo Center/Memorial Hall 334 Carlisle Avenue, York, PA 17404



Sat, Sept 20-Sat, Sept 27, 2008


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Kudos to Heathcote Earthings‘ wholesaler Northern Sun for including a little card in my recent order:

I don’t have time to post about their site now; Off to change a flat tire on Earthings’ new van before setting up for Common Ground on the Hill music festival. But I will be looking into making these cards available at our Heathcote Earthings booth. You can request copies or download them on ConsumersForPeace.org. Spread the word!

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A rose by any other name might remind some people of a pickle. Whether it’s a person, a house or the street on which they stand, a name is an opportunity to make a statement. Maybe it’s the screenwriter in me, but I think names are important symbols. I have a reputation for anthropomorphically naming everything in sight. Take cars, for example. My car is The Blue Goose. The one before that was Portia Fay. Before that, Scooby-Doo Subaru. Just as people with green thumbs talk to houseplants, I find that my car runs better if I talk to it and call it by name. And it tells me much about a person when she or he has named a car. I have used it as a litmus test in more than one relationship.
Someone said people make big money coming up with the actual model names of cars. Whoever named my Blue Goose “Honda CRV” should be washing cars instead. I should have that job, or one naming paint colors–native organic periwinkle, sagebrush compost–I could so do that job. Busstop bench maple…food co-op bubblegum…global warming sunrise…

Truthfully I connect deeply with the tribal idea that the names of people should have meaning and evolve or change with us through our stages of life. Of course, my moniker here is a midlife invention:

Wren [ren]: a small, unassuming bird with a loud song

Mika [mee-kuh: the wise little raccoon

Tuatha [2-ah-thuh: tribe, children of, people of; new meaning: she who is followed by goats

Echo, Wicca, Niabi, TuathaClearly I’m guided by my love and identification with animals. My own pets are saddled with the names Tuatha, Echo, Wicca and Niabi. In case you’re worried, I would not do that to a human child. I just appreciate the opportunity to make meaning. Wouldn’t it be great to be known as, “flower planter,” or “she who brings the best dishes to potlucks?” Before I changed it, my legal name meant, “she who’s name is a list of her mother’s ex’s.” Oh joy.

Anyway, my obsession with the sounds and meanings of names is passionate and long lived. I’ve had a library of baby name books from various cultures for nearly thirty years. Even as a kiddie poet in school, I tried on a succession of pennames, each with it’s own accompanying persona. The most famous one among my family is “Phoenix.” I have no memory of why I wanted to be called Phoenix, but it is legend.
When I was three, I was adopted by my stepfather and my last name changed to his. My mother tried to explain the change to me and made the mistake of asking what I’d like my name to be. The story goes that I replied, “If it’s all the same to you, Mother, I’d like Theresa!”

Now when I begin a script I spend days pouring through my baby name books and online resources to pick a weighty and meaningful, if pretentious name. Wren Mika started out as a character in a script. Others I’ve labored over include Persia, Cricket, Nia, Simone and Caprice. There may be a recovery program somewhere but I’m unrepentant.

So when I moved to Heathcote, my Intentional Community, and the buildings had such generic designations as the mill, greenhouse, carriage house, springhouse, cabin, farmhouse, hillhouse, I had to take leadership. If not


then who?
I moved into a cabin long called the hillhouse. Blah. After days of scouring the internet and keeping pages of scribbled lists I chose Hina Hanta, Choctaw for “path of peace,” and the chosen name of a Choctaw scholar whose article about the vegetarian history of American Indians I’ve posted previously on this blog. I proposed to Heathcoters that my home be renamed Hina Hanta and that the residents of each building make intentional choices reflecting what they intend to communicate when they utter the collection of sounds that designate their homes. “Cluttered but contented.” “Place of perpetual pie.” “Homestead too near the skunk den to have a dog.” “Warmth and rest in beloved arms.”
One home already had the thoughtful name Shanti, meaning “peace.” The new straw bale grouphouse got christened Polaris–”north star.” Most have stayed their plain jane names–mill, farmhouse, greenhouse, etc. An income sharing subset of Heathcoters called their group shantagani, “peaceful tribe.” So one group member has declared his home ShantaHinaHantaGani…As the mother of Tuatha, Echo, Wicca and Niabi, I can say nothing.

What does your name tell us about you? Have you outgrown it? Who are you? Where do you live? And what’s the name of your car?

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Kat Kinkade, 1930-2008

Wren on July 8th, 2008

What if Twin Oaks and East Wind founder Kat Kinkade had kept a blog? That would be some pure Hippie Chick Diaries! I’m just one of many writers to chronicle the frontier life of Intentional Community. Kat Kinkade’s books are must reads. I just received the following announcement on the passing of this pioneer and founding mother of our movement. Amazingly, I was just reading about her in Communities Magazine this month and thinking that I should visit Twin Oaks again and meet her. Now I’ll just have to know her through her legacy:

Kat Kinkade, community visionary and founder, died peacefully in her
room at Twin Oaks, on Thursday July 3, 2008, at 7:40 in the evening.
She was buried in the graveyard at Twin Oaks the afternoon of Friday
July 4, in a simple ceremony.

A Memorial Service is planned for Saturday July 19, at Yanceyville
Church in Louisa, at 2 pm. If you are interested in attending, or
would like more information, please email Valerie at

A memorial webpage has been created, and everyone is invited to post
photos or write memories of Kat there. <http://katkinkade.ning.com>

Below is a copy of Kat’s obituary, written by her daughter Josie,
which will appear in the Central Virginian (our local Louisa

‘Kathleen “Kat” Kinkade, 77, died on Thursday July 3, 2008, in her
home at Twin Oaks Community in Louisa, surrounded by friends and

Kat was born in Seattle in 1930, the depression era. She became the
first person in her family to go to college by attending the
University of Washington for one year. There she met and married Army
Sergeant Donald Logsdon.

When the marriage fell through, Kat took her four year-old daughter
to live in Mexico City, Mexico, here she taught English to first
graders at a private elementary school for five years.

She returned to the United States in 1960, got a job as a secretary,
and became an avid international folk dancer. She and her daughter
Josie (who was now twelve) joined what would become the famed Los
Angeles Troupe Aman.

It was while living in Los Angeles that Kat read the book “Walden
Two” by BF Skinner. She became obsessed with the idea of a group of
people who could live cooperatively, with true equality of income. In
1967, with six other like-minded souls, she founded Twin Oaks
Community in Louisa.

The early years at Twin Oaks were difficult but exciting. Kat
believed in the idea of the community so strongly that she was not
deterred by 25 cents a week spending money, having to take turns
commuting to Richmond to find temporary work, or by folks who found
the lifestyle too difficult and left.

She believed strongly in equality, and was careful to include others
in setting up by-laws that would prevent any one person from telling
others what to do. An incisive thinker, she “led through persuasion”
and helped put in place systems that still help make Twin Oaks the
success it is today.

Over time, Kat helped form two other communities also still in
existence: East Wind in Missouri and Acorn in Louisa county. She
wrote many of the early Twin Oaks newsletters, as well as two books
on the subject of Twin Oaks: “A Walden Two Experiment” and “Is It
Utopia Yet?”

An important part of Kat’s life was music. She joined the Yanceyville
Church, and was involved in the choir, where she sang any part
required of her, and wrote music, including parts of an adaptation of
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. She wrote a light-hearted play
“Utopia” for Twin Oaks based on show-tunes from various musicals. For
ten years she was involved in Sacred Harp music of early America, and
composed several pieces in this genre as well. She had no formal
musical training, and made many amateur’s mistakes, yet produced some
beautiful music and lyrics.

At the age of 70, with not much physical strength, Kat decided she
wanted to try living in a house of her own, something she had never
had the opportunity to do. She moved into a tiny little house in
Mineral, and enjoyed planting many beautiful flowers, rescuing five
cats of her own, and bottle-feeding the occasional litter as a foster
mom. Last December, when she became too weak to live on her own, Twin
Oaks graciously took her back in and took care of her in a way that
only the most attentive and loving of families would have done. When
she passed away, her beloved cat Oolong was by her side.

Kat is survived by her daughter Josie Kinkade, and her granddaughter
Lee Ann Kinkade.

A memorial service will be held at Yanceyville Church on Saturday
July 19 at 2 pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to SNAP, PO
Box 1277, Louisa VA 23093.’

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Name That Florescent Fungus

Wren on July 7th, 2008

My sweetie John and I were walking the labyrinth at Heathcote when I saw a florescent orange blob downstream on a log. After trip-trapping through much poison ivy we were rewarded with this sight! I had thought maybe a hunter had left a florescent jacket in the woods. But instead we enjoyed marveling at this elaborate fungus. Anyone know the name of it? Leave a comment! The cameraphone photo is by John Thornberry.

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warm porcelains I don’t get sucked in anymore. I’m an old hand at this buyer thing and when I attend a trade show for Heathcote Earthings I work from a shopping list, visit only the vendors I plan in advance, stick to a budget and go home.

Yeah, I don’t believe me, either. But I try this every time. The promoter Intergem puts on its International Gem and Jewelry Show all over the country throughout the year. In my region, the really BIG trade show is in Chantilly, Virginia, the next one there being in December, when my festival season is already over. So to get well stocked for my summer (including five county or state fairs) I decided to catch up with my favorite importers at the Timonium, Maryland show.

azurite-malachite donuts, malachite and azurite accents It is held at the Maryland State Fairgrounds, where I set up for many shows each year, including the Kennedy-Krieger Festival of Trees, Maryland Brewers’ Oktoberfest, and the Maryland State Fair (with my friends at Crystal Cottage). Since I work there so often, it feels funny to visit as a buyer.

I arrived a half an hour early and a dozen people were ahead of me in line. Before the doors opened, the line behind stretched about a city block, and that was for one of two buildings the show occupied.

At each show there are two sales floors, one that’s public and one that’s wholesale only. On the public floor, some vendors price at retail levels but most sell at wholesale prices in both areas. If you’re a lapidary hobbyist, this is the way to go. If you’re willing to buy by the strand rather than by the bead, trade shows will beat the prices of your local bead or craft shop by a mile.

rhodochrosite focal and accent beads I met two women on the public floor who were there for the first time. They picked up a strand of huge grade-A turquoise that had its ends tied together. They admired the quality of the stone, even at the $250 per strand price tag. “But it would be so heavy around your neck,” one remarked, not realizing that the strings of beads she saw everywhere were strands of workable material, not finished necklaces!

I had two items at the top of my shopping list today–1) Buy thousands of gemstone heart pendants on sterling silver bails 2) Buy many strands of the multicolor “Hello Kitty” style lampwork glass cat head focal bead that sold so well after we tried it last time. You see no pictures of these items in this post because I came home without them. My importer of Chinese lampwork glass might have the “Hello Kitties” back in a couple of weeks. And I placed a large order for the gemstone heart pendants. I love this product because the quality has been consistently high. The sterling silver bails almost never fail. I have a few stones in stock now and will have my new order in by the Cecil County Fair.

boldly shaped agates are the new trend While I was not buying those, I did discover an exciting new trend in agate beads. Manufacturers are cutting dyed and natural agate into stunning, unexpected shapes. In the photo to the right, notice the flat squares, circles and twists. These and the huge funky wavy donuts really reveal the marvelous diversity of this stone–its colors. mottling and banding! Click on each picture for a more detailed view and description of the beads and my plans for them!

The first photo in this post showcases several strands of porcelain beads I was pleased to find. The warm colors and mottled finishes cause these to be mistaken for stone.

red coral fossil focals, gold and red tigereye accents Being one of the first through the door, I had a great selection and was able to put together several sets this time, pairing large focal beads with matching accent beads for earrings. This combo pictured to the left is a fun one. We’d had fossilized coral beads before. But these have been rinsed in red minerals to bring out the detail of the fossil. I found strands of gold and red tigereye for earrings and I like the compliment of the two-tone tigereye to the red washed coral.

Although we don’t carry coral or pearls or other animal products, we do carry fossils. I was very tempted to pick up several large trilobites I saw…

earthy marbled glass I also added to our cloisonne collection with dolphins and a strand with a moon and stars motif. And I expanded our selection of painted and marblized glass beads. I just love these painted glass and always pick out a few for my own personal collection!

The sky blue heart bead, in the picture to the right, has stunning marble brown on it, in delicately laid strokes that seem to suggest tumbling human forms falling around each bead! I can’t wait to see how my customers like them.

I’ll have a few of all of these made up for Common Ground on the Hill, a wonderful roots music festival I look forward to every year. It takes place at the Carroll County Farm Museum in Westminster, Maryland, July 12-13. They showcase a variety of traditional forms of music, rotating on several stages around the grassy, treelined grounds. Tom Paxton is one of the headliners this year. This festival is vegetarian and vegan friendly, with lots of satisfying food choices. The event also attracts find artisans and several nice clothing vendors. I usually by some hippie duds there each year.

By the time of the Cecil County Fair, July 18-26, I’ll have made lots of earrings and pendants out of today’s finds. I’ll also have them along for the Howard County Fair. The special feature of that fair is that we set up a huge discount area and focus on closeouts there, making room for new inventory we order for the York Fair and Bloomsburg Fair.

My one regret, as I wrap up writing about this gem show, is that the items I buy there are all in the “free trade” economy. I regularly meet festival vendors who travel the world, trading directly with artisans and importing the goods for their booths themselves. I’m a homebody; I don’t travel. I buy from “fair trade” vendors as much as possible. At Heathcote Earthings, our standard is that a product must be fair trade and/OR be made of natural or recycled material. For this definition we consider glass, metals and ceramics in our jewelry “natural.” Other than dryer balls, which cut clothes drying time by 40%, saving on utilites, we carry no plastic and don’t provide plastic bags. So as I go from table to table, booth to booth, discerning quality from crap in my choices, I have no information about the chain of possession of these crafts, and whether slavery or child labor was involved. I can’t find out the environmental or labor record of the factory.

Once the strands are at home with me, I know I do good settings and make lasting pendants and earrings. I know I’m a fair alternative to “Mall Wart: your source for cheap, plastic crap,” as the bumper sticker goes. And I realize that people are drawn to the natural beauty of polished stones and art glass, as I am, while we all seek to repair our lost connection with the land itself and the energy that many believe flows through those stones we instinctively want to carry around.

I often notice that people gasp and lose their language for a few moments when they walk up to my booth and start to run their hands across a table full of tumbled stones, in every imaginable color. Even though I know these stones are mined like coal, I think it’s important for us, trapped in our bubble of urban civilization, to reconnect with something primordial–the magic of stones and, by extension, the magic of the Earth! For people of all ages and walks of life who start running their fingers through the stones like water, it seems a step in remembering something lost. Maybe, ironically, if we remember the beauty of the earth, even by possessing something torn from it, we’ll remember a humbler, less materialistic path. Maybe my stones of unknown origin help someone learn to be part of the Earth, rather than having dominion over it.

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Wren on July 3rd, 2008

available from Gypsy Rose.

Owning the Rights to “Coexist”

Wren on July 3rd, 2008

Come on people! You’re handing me website topics on a fair trade, lead free, made in USA pewter platter!

Buying for my store, Heathcote Earthings, I have tried to order buttons and bumper stickers with the slogan, “coexist,” written in letters made of spiritual symbols from around the world. I’ve been told by wholesalers Northern Sun, Gypsy Rose and others that it’s unavailable. I’m bummed. Is this because it’s such a popular idea that, like me, they keep selling out? No! They aren’t able to offer it because there’s a copyright dispute over the “coexist” design!!!

This is a repeat of the episode when Aurora Glass, a charitable non-profit benefiting the homeless, had to stop producing suncatchers in the Celtic tree-of-life design we all used to doodle on our middle school notebooks because someone registered it!!!

Okay. I can play this game. Everyone check my photos for a picture of my hand sporting a lovely goddess/ivy mendhi tattoo. You’re on notice that I’m gonna trademark that image. Anyone ever getting a mendhi tattoo on their hand is gonna owe me 6 1/2 cents…

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