December came quickly, and brought with it the cold, dreary and overcast Pacific Northwest weather. Not something I had gotten used to coming from hot and sunny/unpredictable weather of Texas!
In preparation of going back to Texas for Christmas and the New Year, I had the brilliant idea to make tie-dyed bandanas for the family for this year’s gifts. This idea also inspired Rich and Avery to tag along and make colorful Christmas gifts of their own too.
Since the Holistic Sustainability Program ended last month, I wound up spending more time traveling into Eugene to explore the town and meet new people outside of the community. This also sparked a new tradition of “Potluck Tuesdays,” where we reconnected with the commuter students living in town and occasionally opened it up to certain community members. We kicked off the first “Potluck Tuesday” at Bethany’s, complete with a Rudolph Reindeer cake and Tarot card reading session. (I wasn’t expecting my Tarot card reading to be as spot on as it was!)
Many of the remaining students were also making holiday plans, and moving to new rooms/cabins. And I was looking forward to moving into a room without a small bunkbed and no neighbors stomping around above me! I chose the largest room downstairs in Library Hall (because there was a library at the other end) with a queen-sized bed. I moved into the “Wild Things” room, which had a scene from the children’s book of the little boy in his pajamas painted in the corner with the phrase, “Please don’t leave. I love you so.”
Many of the residents had a “thing” in terms of craftiness – Bri had knitting, Virginia made blankets, Rich ran the cob oven pizzas, and Conrad had primitive skills just to name a few. So this month, I started making atlatls from Liden tree branches one of the students cut from an overgrown tree. I really like archery, but had no knowledge of how to make a proper bow from natural materials, which led me to making these ancestral hunting weapons – which I first learned of when I spent time as a student ambassador in Australia. (They pre-date the bow and arrow and are commonly known as ‘spear throwers.’)
As Christmas approached, many of the residents put up Christmas decorations and tapestries in the Lodge (primarily for the kids living on-site) and planned a huge feast, which included a foul-mannered duck and a chicken or two.
Conrad was also preparing some handmade pottery sourced from local clay as a trial run for an upcoming sustainable living workshop. He let them dry on the fireplace, right underneath the community Christmas stockings!
The sustainable living workshops (SLW) were a unique aspect of living in community, because at that point, they were part of the residency requirements, which also included other aspects of participation like garden hours and kitchen shifts, in addition to periodic residency interviews before becoming a full-fled member after 12 months. Randy, the Lost Valley head of maintenance, also hosted a SLW toward the end of the month. His session was ‘how to build a rocket stove mass heater,’ where he went over the physics of how they work and we built a demo stove outside and got it roaring! (These efficient stoves get their name because they sound like a rocket engine when they burn!)
Before I returned to Dallas, TX to visit family for the holidays, the Thursday Karaoke Crew went one last time for 2017 to the Dexter Lake Club. We even managed to get Stevie, an older resident, to come out and sing with us! Most of the songs he requested pre-dated my birth by a decade or two, so it was an interesting set of songs he sang. It was a good note to end on!