Heathcote Earthings is privileged to carry this elegant and whimsical collection of hand carved onyx pieces courtesy of the fair trade charity, Ten Thousand Villages. And we’ve expanded the collection for this year’s Festival of Trees. We feature shapes that include plenty of curves to show off the varied striping and mottling of onyx–turtles, frogs, sleeping cats, elephants in two sizes, apples, pears, a disk tea light candle holder and a new item, a candle holder that cradles a tea light on one end or can be flipped to hold a taper candle!

What I love about these carvings is that, when they cut into a block of onyx, they never know what they’re going to reveal in terms of pattern! It looks unique every time! Pale greens, blacks, browns, tans, whites, oranges, reds; cloudy, muted, mottled, striped, wavy, spiderwebbed, you just never know!

These pieces are a fixture in our booth. They make great gifts, so we offer a “threefer” deal: Buy three or more carvings and we’ll take a dollar off each one. Each includes a gift box so they’re holiday friendly. How about a turtle for you, a frog for that aunt who collects, an apple for the teacher and a candle holder for that person on your list you’re not sure about?

Here’s the background on this collection, from the Ten Thousand Villages site:

Dominion Traders works with underprivileged artisans who make stone and shesham wood crafts in the city of Karachi. It disperses orders to 20 independently owned and operated onyx workshops that employ between 100 and 150 people. Each workshop group owns its own equipment and rents or owns the facility. Most are family businesses employing several family members. These workshops are scattered throughout Pakistan, and employ artisans who speak different languages and practice different religions.

A notable feature of Dominion Traders is that people of different religions and creeds work together in friendly and cordial relationships. Ten Thousand Villages purchases carved stone items including lamps, animals, paperweights, bookends, vases, candleholders and chess sets as well as carved shesham wood coffee tables and nesting tables from Dominion Traders. Ten Thousand Villages has purchased products from Dominion Traders since 1983.

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My Marsupial Neighbors–Sugar Gliders?!?

Wren on November 29th, 2008

Hippie Hoo. I’m my usual strange mix of indignant and enamoured. One of the vendors near me at this year’s Festival of Trees is a double booth of young guys selling tiny marsupials from Australia called sugar gliders. These little critters seem friendly and easily bonded to humans, very appealing as “pocket pets,” which happens to be the name of the business. Hmm.

I held one in my hands and let it climb on me. They undulate and leap around and they’re charming. But when I got home tonight I went online to get the scoop. I don’t think these guys are telling people that these are social animals who NEED their own kind. If you buy just one (and one costs $400+, including specialized equipment and a year’s supply of food) it will become depressed, no matter how much human companionship you give it.

I have to smile at myself because I immediately want one and am outraged that they would sell tiny sensitive critters in a loud, crowed festival. I don’t know what to think about a $400 flying hamster! Should living beings be impulse items offered at a holiday festival?

Update: On the second day of the show, I visited the sugar gliders late in the day. The “ambassador” pets which the salespeople used were exhausted, asleep in their handler’s grasp, while the sellers continued their pitch. It was difficult to watch. I have to say I don’t think Pocket Pets, Inc. operates with the best interest of their animals in mind.

I did, however, find potential ethical breeders online last night. One listing stated that the breeder was declining last minute orders for Christmas, to avoid impulse decisions from buyers. That is an excellent sign.

Also online, it appears that Pocket Pets Inc. is countering websites offering warnings to people who might want to own this pet. Apparently they have odor issues, bathroom issues, etc., which the countering site calls “myths.” The language on the countering site is identical to the talking points on the Pocket Pets site and their sales pitch. So please read a variety of sites and meet breeders in person to make your own assessment if you’re considering one of these pets!

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I’m up to my elbows in hacky sacks, recycled purses and bamboo xylophones! Heathcote Earthings has a choice spot next to the entertainment stage at this year’s Kennedy Kreiger Festival of Trees, November 28-30 at Maryland’s Timonium Fairgrounds! Last year, we had 20,000 people per day through the doors! The organizers came close to turning people away due to fire codes! Let’s hope this year’s party will be as big. Come on down!

I’ve expanded our line of fair trade purses, hats and scarves, including some winter treasures. I’ve restocked and added to our musical instrument department, all fair trade, too. And to keep you warm and “blessed be’ed” for the holidays, Native Scents smudge sticks and sweetgrass braids are back!

In these tough times, not all festival vendors are sticking with it. At the York Fair, we were approached by three different competitors who wanted us to buy them out. We obliged one, and now we have thousands of pieces of magnetic jewelry, the supercharged hematite strands that can be a bracelet, necklace, choker, headband, etc. We have an amazing array of colors accenting the hematite, from colored crystal to cloisonne to gemstones. And, with several sizes available, our bulk acquisition means we’ll sell them at great prices!!!

Like to collect elephants? We have onyx figurines in two sizes and clay elephant trios, as well as several stuffed elephant ornaments and elephant cloisonne jewelry. I’ve also found some fun new cats for our cat collectors! Pig collectors on your list will love our Peruvian three-legged lucky pigs, piggy bank and piggy bowl with spoon. Frog and turtle collectors will find treats on just about every table!

And in addition to our traditional tumbled stones and gemstone jewelry, we secured a breath-taking collection of animals, Buddhas, etc., carved from opalite quartz, a stone that takes light in, refracts it into soft colors and holds it in the shape of the carving. I love it. I kept a piece from the Crystal Cottage booth at the 2007 Maryland State Fair and when my friends brought more this year, I had to have some for Earthings, despite its high price tag.

The photos with this post are of other attractions at Festival of Trees. I’ll keep you posted as things come together. Thanks in advance to my sweetie, Kathy Landers, and Regina Tessone for helping with the booth!

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My yin-yang shelties are eight years old. I adopted Tuatha when he was eight weeks old; Echo at eight months. He, Tuatha, is the extroverted, demonstrative one who will bring poor guests endless sticks, balls and plush toys to throw. She, Echo, is reserved, waiting for the quiet moment to greet a guest with her “still waters run deep” energy.

The yin-yang comparisons continue. He, the jock, eats to live. She, the former kennel dog, lives to eat. He runs to Mama at every fright. She is my brave protector. He campaigns for, and gets, lots of my attention. And until recently, I believed my slower, calmer dog was content by herself in the corner.

Now I am checking her feelings under those still waters, and valuing every moment we share, because we may have less time than I thought.

She has always taken her food and water as if she were still competing with her kennel mates. But recently she began drinking so much water so quickly that, minutes later, she would throw some up. And, data in, data out, she needed to pee constantly. I had thought she just craved oral gratification. But the vomiting put me over. I wondered if the drinking meant diabetes.

The vet quickly ruled out diabetes, and agreed with me that her symptoms were subtle. Dogs often throw up. It’s a dog thing. But Echo’s kidneys weren’t functioning well. The vet suspected Addison’s disease, but now it appears she has the opposite of Addison’s: Cushing’s disease.

In Addison’s, the body produces too little glucocorticoid, in Cushing’s, it produces too much. Having visited a few sites on Cushing’s, I now suspect that Echo has been dealing with this imbalance for most of her life. I recall noticing certain symptoms, which I assumed were simple variations in body type or behavior:

  • A barrel shaped gut, which I pondered each time I bathed them. Tuatha has a more hourglass, slender waist and Echo has always been thick there. But then again, she likes food…
  • Over eating/food stealing. Echo has competed for her food, even though she no longer has to. Since I know shelties can be prone to obesity, I’ve watched her portions like a hawk and police the food stealing…
  • A thinning of the face. I noticed this a while back and dismissed it. Now it is not noticeable. But it is listed as a sign of Cushings.
  • Lethargy. Echo has always been slower, less athletic than Tuatha. Again, it has been easy to excuse this as individual variations between dogs. People have assumed she was his mother, or at least a much older dog. I’ve just answered that she’s an old soul.
  • Hair loss. Echo’s hair is not to the point of the characteristic balding around the abdomen associated with Cushing’s, but it has thinned generally. Now I watch it more closely.
  • Urinary tract infection. Another issue with Cushing’s, Echo did a round of antibiotics that failed to clear out her current infection. The vet’s having another look at her urine to better target the next meds for her specific infection of the moment.

Now I appreciate that Echo probably has been suffering in silence for a long time. Although I want to blame myself for not visiting the vet years ago, the truth is, most people do miss these signs, which are subtle and typically associated with aging.

It looks like we should be able to control the imbalance with medication eventually. And I’ll also look for alternative treatments. I hope that it doesn’t have to mean discomfort or a shortened life for my brave protector.

What are your experiences with Addison’s and Cushing’s? These are people diseases, too! I’d like to hear your stories!

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Obama Ba-Da-Bing

Wren on November 19th, 2008

“Obama is Change” but some things never change. I know well that sex and women’s bodies sell everything in Western culture. I discovered this t-shirt, with celebrity women allowing their images to be idealized, on Barack Obama’s site. I was searching for an image to accompany a post expressing my giddy elation that he’d been elected. But my bubble was burst, so here’s my witness that we can do better. We can be many changes!

And if not, some staffer from Obama’s campaign has a great future laying out department store ads in the Sunday paper!

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Hippie Archeology

Wren on November 17th, 2008

I’ve held my ground on this steep slope for fourteen years. This land’s been communal since 1965. And as runoff washes into our stream at the bottom, I’ve learned that the soil of this hill gives up the secrets of the residents who came before me: These hippies were freakin’ LITTERBUGS!!! Were they too stoned to carry a can up to the road on trash day? I mean, please!

For my first six years at Heathcote I lived in the springhouse (below), an idyllic stone hut on the stream, built into the hillside, over a natural spring. I was always finding new pieces of broken glass emerging like prima donna dinosaur bones out of the dirt. I never got ahead of the curve. More glass or metal coils or nails were always appearing out of the subtle erosion.

When I moved to Hina Hanta (below), my current cabin high above the mill, there were new and varied things to excavate. This cabin, formerly called Hillhouse, was built in 1972. Various families and singles have occupied it since then, including a professional environmental activist who lived here fourteen years himself. The building is not quite at the top of the slope, so erosion does uncover what composting leaf litter tries to conceal.

Coming up from the ground I get endless plastic seed pots and plastic sheeting and carpet pieces. Heathcoters used to garden a terraced plot where I now have a goat pen, before the woods grew in too thickly for crops. But much of the carpet isn’t from gardening. It’s just heaped in the woods, feet from the cabin. And it doesn’t compost quickly.

I’d always picked up little bits of plastic containers I’d find or lengths of wire or cord. But recently, while waiting for fencing helpers to arrive, I went walking in my woods with a workday energy. I was stunned to find bags of trash, laid out in the woods. They’d clearly been there many years. I’ve lived here eight and I didn’t put them there! The piles were low to the ground and the plastic on top had degraded, so each collection appeared to be laid out on a sheet of plastic that was, I guess, the bottom of the bag. Inside, no identifying papers to name any guilty parties. They could have already degraded. But what remained? Lots and lots of athletic shoes, actually in decent shape; plastic and metal food containers; many bug spray cans and motor oil jugs; a briefcase; a two-burner hotplate; stove parts; a bathroom scale; small electrical appliances and extension cords; building materials; clothes and linens; window panes; a tea kettle; pots and pans; a lawn chair.

I don’t keep new plastic bags just for carrying trash, so I reused bags from my wood pellets. I’d give you a count on the number of bagfuls the woods was holding but the work isn’t close to finished. Let’s call it ten and counting.

After the moral outrage, I was overtaken with curiosity. I became a detective working the scene. Who walked their trash out, one-hundred feet from the cabin and abandoned it? Did they come from the cabin, or did they trek it through the woods from the neighboring farm? Surely they weren’t Heathcoters! Some of the food containers were for meat items. I would like to believe that this proves the innocence of my vegetarian community. But if they could dump trash and not get busted by the hippie police, then they could sneak meat. Maybe that’s why they diverted their trash to the woods–They wanted to hide their carnivorous indiscretions! Oh, this is getting juicy!

Now, I’m not just a suburban chick gone feral in the woods. Actually, okay, I’m exactly that. But my point is, I know the history of trash. Generations of my family burned trash or dumped it in the endless limestone sinkholes on our Kentucky dairy farm. The practice continues with current generations. I remember my cousin knocking on my mother’s door: “Have you got any noxious substances you want to throw out? I’m heading to the sinkhole…” Much to the hypocritical dismay of my grandparents, people were always dumping pickup truck loads of trash, furniture, tires, chemical drums and anything else in the woods of our farm, which hugs a long stretch of little traveled country road. There’s even a car, maybe a 1930’s model, that someone drove up into our woods and abandoned. I used to play in it, ala Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

Still, I want to believe that, since 1965, Heathcote’s particular chunk of our beautiful Gaia, our bountiful Turtle Island, was held differently by the tribe that settled here. And I’m annoyed that former residents may have left a mess I’m now having to live with or clean up. Quite a microcosm of the planetary issues we face, isn’t it? A previous generation’s expediency becomes our burden, even in Hippieland.

Not all trash at Heathcote is annoying. When we renovated the mill, we found bottles, dishes, etc., that may date back one-hundred fifty years. That was awe inspiring. But I don’t want to leave this trash in the woods long enough to become exciting archeology.

Anyone for a feel-good workday in the woods? Maybe we’ll find the clue that will close the case of the hippie litterbugs! I’ll supply the pellet bags…

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When Activists Date Each Other….

Wren on November 12th, 2008

“Hmmm,” He’s not sure I should extend my carbon footprint by coming over tonight. It’s a long drive, but I canceled last night, when I would have been in his area. He sites writers who point out that monogamy, indeed marriage, is more sustainable. Divorced couples haul kids between households. Come to think of it, this polyamory thing could become a significant contributor to greenhouse gases.

Perhaps, but so could the piteous groans I emit when I don’t get laid. So here’s the plan: I’m coming over and I’ll drive the speed limit. I’ll pick up any hitchhikers I see on the way and we’ll stop every fifteen miles to plant native trees and spay stray dogs. In my current state, I may not be thinking clearly, so I’m not sure how stray dogs contribute to global warming, but I’ll spay them for our collective karma. You have your pet issues and I have mine…

When I get to your house, I’ll graze locally on your lawn and shrubbery for dinner. Then I’ll let you slowly peel off the seven layers of Goodwill clothes I’m wearing because you minimally heat your house. Then, after all these mitigations, we’ll commit some serious global warming…Ooh, baby!

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From Wren:

I’ve had the pleasure of attending an evening introduction to Heart of Now, a weekend workshop in “being who we want to be in the world,” that was developed at Lost Valley Community. I had previously experienced some of the exercises as part of ZEGG Forum facilitator training, held at my home, Heathcote Community. Besides giving me food for thought and tools for my self work, Heart of Now is a wonderful opportunity to meet new people, make close friends and become a more grounded, honest, loving soul in the world.

As of this writing, there are 5 spaces remaining!

Here is HON trainer Debby Sugarman’s announcement:

Registration is now open for the DC area Heart of Now weekend course!…

I am happy to announce that the second DC area Heart of Now workshop will be held the weekend of November 21-23, 2008 in a beautiful location just outside Winchester, VA.

After many wonderful introductions, triad practice groups and triad assistant trainings over the last 2 years, I am excited to be offering a full workshop once again this area!

What is Heart of Now?

Heart of Now is about being who we want to be in the world. Throughout our lives many of us have been encouraged to hide our feelings and ignore our bodies. Were taught stories of how were supposed to behave at school or work. We’ve been told not to make mistakes or certainly not to admit it.

At Heart of Now we look with curiosity at the stories we’ve been told. We pay careful attention to our bodies and our emotions. We learn to listen to ourselves deeply and trust what is in our hearts.

Heart of Now is not just about ourselves but about our communities and our world. When we are present and honest with ourselves, we open space for intimacy, easy working relationships and creativity that are the building blocks for creating a better world.

Time: The course will begin on Friday evening, November 21, and will go until Sunday evening, November 23.

Location: Our location is The Land Celebration, a beautiful retreat center in Gore, VA, just outside of Winchester, VA. Visit www.thelandcelebration.org.

Cost: The cost is $350-$650 sliding scale. A fee of $200 is requested when you register, the rest of the fee will be due by the end of the course. Financial assistance is available. Please inquire about this if the fee is a barrier to being able to join us for the weekend. The cost will include lodging for 2 nights and all vegetarian meals.

Assisting: If you have previously been through a Heart of Now weekend (previously called Naka-Ima), you are invited to assist the course. Assisting is as much about continuing your own growth as it is about service to the students. Assistants of any level of experience are welcome. Assistants are asked to make a donation of $75-$125 sliding scale to cover room and board. The assistants’ program starts on Friday afternoon. Contact Debby if you are interested.

To Register:
Our website, www.heartofnowdc.org is under construction but will be coming soon! In the meatime you can register by contacting Debby Sugarman at 716-479-1490, dsugarm@efn.org or Darrell at 202-667-8728, d@duane.com. For more information about Heart of Now, call us or visit www.heartofnow.org.

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You…are not…my priority.

Wren on November 7th, 2008

Tiva’s sweet nothings…

I’m not that into you. I feel like you have expectations. You’re grabby. You look at me all doe-eyed. You’re making plans for the future. I’m not that into you. You’re just so passionate. You’re mildly interesting. You want us to have a life together. You want to see me. I’m not that into you. I’m afraid you’re going to leave me. You’re crowding me. I’m lonely. You’re kind of cute. You’re not my priority. Why don’t you want to be my lover?

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