Fashion

Womad

Remember WOMAD? So do I ๐Ÿ™‚

This article is about festival fashion, so no magazine name-dropping here please!

Anyway, as you may know, festival fashion is outrageous maximalism at its best for the most part, with huge variety within and a few notable exceptions without.

Shoes: travel or outdoors, leather, strappy, some strings and ribbons, no heel higher than orthopaedic requirements, loafers and the occasional slipper.

Exception: jandals โ€“ why? Difficult to walk in, terrible for the foot, accident prone โ€“ I like the ones with ankle support but have never managed to persuade myself that the pain between my toes is going to lead to any more comfort than my other leisure shoes.

Rest of the body โ€“ anything goes, really, long and floaty, short and tight, midi and romantic, ripped, fringed or sophisticated. Sumptuous lush fabrics, indulgent patterns and colour combinations that make your eyes water and your heart rejoice. The earth-mother velveteen/viscose/lace concoction walks right beside the high-street understated cotton and linen mix. Ball gowns and tuxedos are not uncommon. Traditional clothes from all over the world are โ€œdoneโ€ in a myriad variations. Gauzy scarves and conical straw hats are overshadowed by huge mohawks on which lizards in lurid plastic sun themselves and all that is interspersed with the flower circlets the young are wearing above their bejeweled braces.

Exceptions: jumpsuits and those beautiful fisherman pants that tie both in front and at the back. Toilet breaks being the bane of any festival (ah, the queues!), why would I want to undress totally and drag them in whatever is on the floor for this purpose?

Festival fashion has to withstand midday scorching sun, cold nights, sitting on the grass and eating on laps. And, of course, at least two or three types of dancing in close contact with many, many others. And being worn all day (backpacks with layers are common). And allowing us to take a bit of a break from usual clothes.

It’s a tall order to fill ๐Ÿ™‚ It seems to me that there are two main characteristics. First is style. Not everyone has it, but festival fashion is a lot more forgiving for body shape than most others. Being allowed to โ€œplayโ€ rather than conform also has the advantage of encouraging the very creativity festivals are based on.

The second characteristics of festival fashion is a no-brainer (which makes you wonder why do we not practice it more). It inspires confidence and a more natural way of moving. It makes tiredness rest easier on our bodies. Whether you are a hopping-skipping nana or a serenely gliding yogi, self-conscious youth or brash middle-aged dancer, it makes style even more suitable.

I am talking, of course, of comfort. Festival fashion is the most stylish variety of comfortable apparel ever invented by people. With the possible exception of yoga pants… of which there are not many… it just wasn’t that type of festival…

Do you know what I mean?

Puzzle

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Interesting… we don’t know the origin of this word, it seems to have appeared about 430 years ago and accumulated a few related meanings, including the one of a โ€œmysteryโ€, which this word already is… ah, the snake biting its own tail ๐Ÿ™‚

And a mystery it is, sometimes, when the wings of the butterfly are long turned to pixie dust but the hurricane over the Pacific is in full swing and things click in places you had never expected but, looking back, you have searched for and arranged your life so that they may be found.

It is, after all, being open to experiences and willing to go on the pathways that open, as I was discussing with friends just last night. One of those nights when, over good food and good drinks (sage tea, as it happens ๐Ÿ˜› ) the discussion is led towards the very subjects your heart didn’t know it needed but recognized it immediately as necessary. I think I mentioned in a previous post that I am not good at chitchat and only tolerate it until the other person is comfortable enough to delve a bit. The price I pay, I guess ๐Ÿ™‚

It happens sometimes, when you have been quietly unsatisfied with something (could be a situation, your job, a relationship) AND you are willing to leave yourself open to chance, that you are steered on pathways you hadn’t thought of before. That willingness is key though, and rarely found in lives that we try to control and box in routine. Not that routine is bad… it’s just not enough, not for ever.

I was pondering this earlier yesterday, trying to figure out what it is that keeps us bound. Fear comes to mind, and comfort, plus expectations and upbringing. After all, don’t we sometimes stay in relationships (and jobs and other situations) because it is expected of us? Because we fear hurt (unemployment, rejection, loneliness, pain)? Because it is not perfect but it’s not yet at โ€œtipping pointโ€ (note to self, find the book and read it, if it’s as good as the others, it’s worth it!).

Those expectations, the fear, the comfort, are tied to our past and shape our present. We cling, like a child looking at the ground from up high, gathering the courage to jump. Sometimes the child will jump on its own, but most of the time a little encouragement from parents helps (later, goading from its peers helps as well, not always at the right time). Is this, then, what we need? Is the child in us in need of companionship and encouragement to let go of the fear and jump? And who can offer this once you’re an adult and your friends are just as cautious as yourself?

Ah, but not all of them are like that, surely? Can’t we all think of a person in whom life seems to flow hotter, who is less afraid it seems, who sometimes makes us uncomfortable not because they reproach us anything, but because we fear to disappoint? Hmm, that fear again…

But isn’t this person, usually called a โ€œtroublemakerโ€ or a synonym in a fond voice and with a bit of a smile on your lips, offering even more fear โ€“ of the unknown, of the uncertain? When should we listen? And when should we just ask for the bill and leave?

Garden – a rant

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I am sure that, should you wish, you could find on YouTube several hilarious videos with bouncy music about the perils of having a garden and not taking care of it. I intend to find those videos and enjoy the companionship ๐Ÿ™‚

For a garden is a terrible thing to have… when you don’t have time or money or both. Not that I am complaining much, as I still enjoy having said garden. It just doesn’t look good and that brings me down sometimes. There are a few plants that take over. Weeds, we call them. Pests, really. Invaders, you could say. Wandering jew, orache, bindweed, kikuyu. They make the others look tame by comparison. The other weeds, you see, once you pull them out they’re dead, dead, dead. Not so these ones, unfortunately. Deep under your reach some defeat you with taproots the size of melons. Across the entire garden some defeat you with stolons and nodes and roots that travel to the ends of the world it seems… definitely to the end of your patience! A single fragment left behind and in one season it is back to how it was before you spent that afternoon kneeling and cursing under the blazing sun.

You develop odd types of pleasure it seems. Measuring kikuyu after you pull it out. Discovering moist soil teeming with insects right under that mat of wandering jew that made a tropical looking corner under that bush. Yanking orache out of olive trees or digging that tap root out . Sitting down and willing yourself to patience while you unwind bindweed from your other plants (can’t yank it out, you break everything!).

Mulching would help… except you don’t have anything to mulch with. An animal would help (even benefit from orache and kikuyu)… but you don’t have it. Planting other things would help motivate you to weed more often โ€“ if you have the plants to plant there and the time to weed. Frustrating, it was! I have stopped weeding just for the sake of weeding (as in, appearances). I will weed if I want to plant there something. Most of the time it is a bush I have rescued or has been given to me.

I have grown quite fond of my overgrown jungle… most of the time. Of course, then I visit a well tended garden and I don’t feel so good. I take comfort from counting the perrenial edibles currently growing amongst the weeds. In a couple of years there should be enough to show for the work done, an orchard is beginning to take shape. Good signs are here: a handful of blueberries, apples and grapes and peaches ripening, five cherries, lemons, strong healthy growth on the loquat we saved, flowers on the feijoas, the scent of lemon verbena peeking through the towering Jerusalem artichokes, the wavy fronds of asparagus, the rambling fragility of Cape gooseberries.

I have also relented and started buying flowers. A bit of care and the pot-bound yellowing wreck the shop put on special 6 for 1 dollar starts to glow in shades of rainbows. I have seen more bees and bumblebees this year than in all the years before combined! Maybe in a couple of years, when I have planted more flowers, a hive would not come amiss nestled amongs the fruit trees.

One hopes… and weeds! ๐Ÿ™‚

Efficient

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I purchased a mushroom growing kit late last year. It had been an idea I had toyed with from time to time but the price for a retail kit was pretty steep for the result indicated, so it was only when I found a cheaper one that I finally gave in. I had partial success but before I could reap the full benefits it started to dawn on me that it wasn’t a very efficient way of doing things.

Let me explain: growing mushrooms in a bag implies several times a day watering despite the fact that outside it’s raining. It is not a difficult chore, don’t get me wrong, it just struck me as non-efficient, and that, more than hard work, has the power to stop me in my tracks. Just as an aside, I don’t mind hard work, as long as it’s smart and the results are visible in a reasonable amount of time… or the long term results have good ROI ๐Ÿ™‚

I liken this to growing chicks with an incubator: hard work, good results (if not perfect) and cheaper than the other way. What other way? Get a hen, of course! Then and only then, when the hen sits on fertilized eggs, will you figure out how far away from nature (therefore inefficient) incubators are. Not bad, I repeat, but a clumsy attempt at a short cut.

I am not the type of person who advocates a complete return to nature. I like my comforts and am grateful for the era in which we live. But I do like to tweak my life to make it MORE comfortable, and that, ironically, implies getting back to more natural ways. Another personal example: most supermarket soaps, creams, detergents etc. dry and irritate my skin. I could go the standard way and get some more stuff from my doctor to soothe it, instead I chose to go more natural in my cleaning choices and it has become a way of life for me. I am also saving more money than I expected, even with the few products I do buy being more expensive that the standard ones. These choices have also led me to many, mostly happy, mostly cheap experiments: anyone fancy a nice galenical concoction of beeswax, olive oil, rose water or orange blossom water and just a tiny bit of borax to fluff it up? I garden a lot, so that has been my saviour these few years, which reminds me, I need to make another batch!

I hate waste, so re-usable nappies for the little one also struck me as an efficient choice at the time.

The thing that puts most people off doing things efficiently seems to be a higher initial investment cost as opposed to the cost being spread out otherwise. Going back to the cleaning products described above, natural soap is more expensive than the standard one (why, I ask myself sometimes?), beeswax, extra virgin olive oil, flower waters, essential oils, re-usable nappies don’t usually come cheap, instead of opening a jar you actually have to melt the wax in oil, stir in the other ingredients, then stir again until the three, usually incompatible, main ingredients actually agree to stay together. Hard work? I think I mentioned above that I am not afraid of it… and it’s not, just out of our comfort zone. Worth it for me โ€“ and it makes nice presents, too ๐Ÿ™‚

How about the mushrooms, you might wonder? Plan: invest in some wood chips and a different sort of mushroom (one that prefers the ground as opposed to the trees), mulch a shaded area of my garden that would otherwise remain fallow; inoculate the wood chips with the mushroom; go away and do something else for a while; water the garden as usual or enjoy the rain and let nature do the hard work for me ๐Ÿ™‚