Category Archives: Selling Jewelry

Selling Hemp Again

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I’d been back to selling hemp jewelry regularly for over a month, and not a single person had snickered when I said the word “hemp” or asked about smoking a necklace. I was beginning to think people had become more informed, that maybe hemp had taken a step or two into the mainstream. However, on a cold afternoon, I found there were still misperceptions about the fiber.

The first shoppers were a mother and teenage daughter, both tall and blond and from Oklahoma, it turned out.

(Sidenote: The majority of people from Oklahoma I’ve met at the Bridges act as if they are on their first trip away from the farm. Old people, middle-age people, young people, kids…trying to get any sort of conversation out of folks of any age from Oklahoma is usually like trying to pull teeth out of a firmly champed shut mouth.

Me: Where are y’all from?

OK Tourist: (Long Pause) Oklahoma.

Me: Oh, cool. Are you enjoying your vacation?

OK Tourist: (Long Pause) Yes.

Me: I made all the jewelry on the table.

OK Tourist: (Long Pause) (Silence)

Me: All the bracelets and necklaces are made from hemp.

OK Tourist: (Long Pause) That’s…in-ter-esting.

It’s maddening. And forget about making a sale to 95% of Oklahoma tourists.

Of course, there have been some exceptions. There were two lovely fat women who bought four necklaces from me one summer afternoon and offered to take care of my not-very-nice ex-boyfriend if he ever bothered me again. There was the rock guy I met at the Bridge who eventually supplied me with ammonites, and the fused glass artist I bought pendants from. There seems to be some sort of renaissance of cool going on in Tulsa, and in fact, all the folks I just mentioned did live in Tulsa. The visitors from the rest of the state seem to have a very difficult time mustering up any personality.)

So the mother and daughter walked up to my table and were exhibiting enough personality that I didn’t immediately peg them as Oklahomans. (Maybe they were from Tulsa.)

When I told them the bracelets and necklaces were made from hemp, they started giggling. The mom said to the daughter, I’ll eat it and you can smoke it!

I said, You can smoke it if you want to, but it will probably only make you cough. If you want to get high, Colorado’s right over there, and I pointed in the general direction of the state where recreational marijuana is legal.

That’s where we just came from! the teenager exclaimed. She (the girl gestured to her mother) kept saying she was going to buy me a brownie. (More giggling…)

You have to be careful with those brownies. They’ll get you real high, I told them. I think I scandalized them a little. I don’t think they planned to talk to someone with real life pot brownie experience.

They giggled some more, and I asked them where they were from. They said Oklahoma, and I realized they were more interested in giggling about hemp than buying any. I didn’t even try to explain the differences between marijuana and hemp. It seemed like a lost cause.

Not very long after that a young man in his mid-20s was at my table with his mother. When I said the bracelets and necklaces were made from hemp, the young man picked up a necklace and sniffed it. I’ll give him credit for doing something I’d never seen anyone do before.

I might have given him a strange look (although I swear I was trying to be cool), because he said, You said it was made from hemp, that’s why I smelled it.

Natural hemp (undyed and not manufactured to be totally uniform and soft) does have a particular scent, a bit like hay, I think. But I don’t know if that was the smell the guy expected to encounter or if he expected the necklace to smell flowery like marijuana. I didn’t ask. I was too cold and too tired to go into educator mode.

 

To learn more about hemp, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/19/hemp-2/.

To read more about customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/14/mean-daddy/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/11/12/hard-times-on-the-highway/

 

Hemp

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Hemp’s been on my mind lately, as I am making and selling jewelry made from the fiber. A couple of years ago, I did some research and wrote down hemp talking points so I could share information with people who were curious or had misconceptions about it. I’ll share that information here, along with new details I recently learned.

Many people think hemp is the same as marijuana and can get a person high. (Read about my experiences with people who want to know if they can get high from my hemp jewelry here: https://throwingstoriesintotheether.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/can-you-smoke-it and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/

A  state of Colorado website (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/difference-between-hemp-and-marijuana), defines

Industrial hemp as ‘a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of that plant, whether growing or not, containing a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than 0.3% on a dry weight basis.

According to an article in The New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/07/nyregion/cannabis-construction-entrepreneurs-use-hemp-in-home-building.html?_r=0), “That is compared with 5 to 10 percent [of THC) found in the hallucinogenic and medicinal varieties.” When comparing hemp and marijuana in the same article, James Savage, who started a company to create building materials derived from cannabis, said

“It’s like the difference between a wolf and a poodle… Same species, totally different animal.”

(The same comparison was made in the documentary Bringing It Home, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in learning a whole lot more about industrial hemp. To learn more about Bringing It Home, go to bringingithomemovie.com. To watch the movie’s trailer and to purchase or rent online streaming, go here: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/bringingithomemovie.)

Even though hemp and marijuana both come from Cannabis sativa L., the varieties that make industrial hemp products and those that produce marijuana are distinctly, scientifically different and are cultivated in different ways. Hemp products such as the cord used to make jewelry comes from the outer filaments of hemp plants, while marijuana comes from the flowers and leaves of a different variety of plants.

Despite these differences, in recent years, The United States has been the only industrialized nation to refuse to distinguish hemp from marijuana. Because of this refusal to distinguish the two plants, when folks ask me where I get my hemp cord, I have to explain it is imported from another country because hemp is not legally grown and processed in the U.S. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/, some of the countries growing hemp that might be made into the cord I use include Hungary, India, and Poland.

The U.S. is (slowly) beginning to distinguish hemp from marijuana. According to https://www.google.com/search?q=which+u.s.+states+allow+licensure+to+grow+hemp&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8, “Six states (Hawaii, Kentucky, Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, Tennessee) in 2015 had hemp research crops in accordance with section 7606 of the Farm Bill and state law. Three states (Colorado, Oregon and Vermont) in 2015 licensed or registered farmers to grow hemp under state law.”

Once Colorado legalized recreational marijuana use, many people assumed I was now getting my hemp cord directly from that state. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/,

In 2013, after the legalization of marijuana in the state, several farmers in Colorado planted and harvested several acres of hemp, bringing in the first hemp crop in the United States in over half a century.

However, just because the state of Colorado registers hemp growers and inspects their crops to make sure the THC levels are no greater than 0.3%, a statement from the Colorado Industrial Hemp Program in February of 2014  (https://www.colorado.gov/pacific/agplants/industrial-hemp) says

The State of Colorado has no jurisdiction over many other factors that producers are faced with. While Colorado legalized the production of Industrial Hemp (Cannabis spp), growing it is still considered illegal by the Federal Law.

The following issues may cause concern for those interested in growing this crop in Colorado.

  • Seed Procurement/Seed Quality – Seed that exists in Colorado may be variable and have unknown THC levels…Importation of viable industrial hemp seed across State lines and Country boundaries is illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. [Hemp seeds already in Colorado may be too strong to be legal. It’s illegal to bring hemp seeds across state lines and into Colorado.]

  • Pesticides – There are not any pesticides (herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, etc.) currently registered for use on…Industrial Hemp [sic]…due to the predominant federal nature of pesticide regulation.

  • Federal farm programs such as crop insurance, farm loans and conservation reserve may be jeopardized if industrial hemp is planted… [A farmer might literally lose the farm for growing hemp.]

  • Banking – … banks including state-chartered banks may be reluctant to provide services to Cannabis growers for fear of being prosecuted for federal laws and regulations violations. [Farmers growing hemp might not be able to get loans.]

  • Processing – Colorado’s industrial hemp rules state that industrial hemp producers must provide documentation of in state processing as part of registration. It is unknown at this time how many processing facilities will be available in Colorado at time of harvest. [Hemp farmers can’t be registered if they can’t show their hemp will be processed in the state. Hemp processing facilities may not exist in Colorado when the hemp is harvested.)

So, no, just because hemp is being grown (legally by state law, but illegally by federal law), in Colorado does not mean I can pick up cord made from hemp grown there. I will be totally happy when I can buy cord from hemp grown and processed in the United States, but that day has not yet come.

Hopefully the days of domestic hemp production comes soon, because hemp is a great crop for many reasons.

A hemp crop grows to maturity in about 100 days and produces three to six tons of dry fiber per acre. Hemp plants reach heights of six to twelve feet.

Hemp cord is made from hemp fibers, the long, strong outer filaments of the hemp plant. This fiber is the strongest and one of the most durable natural fiber known. Hemp also has better anti-bacterial properties than any other natural fiber, making it extremely resistant to mold, mildew, and rot. Finally, hemp is flame retardant and is not affected by UV rays.

Hemp is an environmentally friendly crop. Hemp plants flourish with minimal use of pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides. Hemp is planted tightly together with no room or light leftover for weed growth.

Not only does hemp grow well without chemicals, it also improves the soil. A large percentage of nutrients that hemp uses for growth are returned to the soil when the leaves fall, reducing the need for fertilizers and increasing the quality of the soil. Growing industrial hemp restores PH balance to soil and enables other crops to grow on soil that has been acidified by acid rain.

Evidence suggests that hemp cultivation can lift heavy metals from polluted soil. Hemp cleans the soil by absorbing and trapping pollutants ranging from radiation and pesticides to toxins leaching from landfills. According to http://www.hempuniversity.com/hemp-university/growing-hemp/countries-growing-hemp/, Poland has “demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals,” but gives no further information.

During my research, I found researcher Przemyslaw Baraniecki was associated with these assertions about the soil cleansing properties of hemp. I did not find any information–or at least no information I could understand–explaining how exactly, scientifically, hemp absorbs and traps pollutants. Also, if hemp absorbs and traps pollutants, does that mean those pollutants are present in the end product made from hemp? I don’t know if I want to wear a necklace or a t-shirt made from hemp full of radiation or pesticides or toxins. Hopefully the hemp neutralizes pollutants, but as I am not a scientist, I’m not sure how exactly that would work.

Finally, not only is hemp drought resistance, hemp crops use a lot less water than other crops grown for similar purposes. For example, while cotton requires about 1400 gallons of water for every pound produced, the production of an equivalent amount of hemp requires about half the amount of water. Also, ” hemp produces about 200% – 250% more fibre [sic] in the same amount of land compared to cotton.” (Information in this paragraph from http://www.collective-evolution.com/2013/07/17/hemp-vs-cotton-the-ultimate-showdown/.)

I hope I’ve increased your knowledge of hemp. I also hope you will choose hemp next time it is an option.

When I looked at my original talking points, I found that I had not attributed a source to each piece of information. I do however, have a list of sources [website links] from which I gathered the facts.

www.cannabisculture.com

www.puresativa.com/article.php?article=67

www.bringingithomemovie.com/industrial-hemp

https://www.sativabags.com/HempInfo

Two of the links in my notes were no longer valid. One was totally useless, so I didn’t include it. I couldn’t get to the specific link of the second one, but I was able to give the site’s homepage. Sources for new information are included in the body of the text.

 

Hard Times on the Highway

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I was back to selling jewelry on the side of the highway at a small arts and crafts market near a large natural tourist attraction. I’d missed the summer crowd, and this bunch of mostly old, mostly stuffy visitors was not my target audience. Most of these folks had no personality; the ones who did have a personality, well, their personality type was “asshole”.

One morning a man strolled up to my table. I saw him looking at the rocks, so I said to him (as I say to almost everyone who looks at my rocks), Let me know if you have any questions about my shiny rocks. Usually people chuckle or say thank you, but this guy said (in a snotty tone of voice), I have a rock business myself. I don’t know if he meant, Don’t try to hustle me because I know about rocks and their prices or if he was trying to tell me he wasn’t going to buy rocks because he already had a bunch, but he came across as a real jerk.

I just said (coldly), That’s nice. 

Then he picked up a piece of skeletal quartz and demanded, Where did you get this? 

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This is the piece of skeletal quartz the jerk man picked up. It may be difficult to see in this photos, but there are three clear quartz points that formed around a chunk of quartz.

I said sweetly, From my rock guy, even though I knew he wanted to know where on the earth the rock was originally found.

No. he said. Where did it come from?

I don’t know, I said (because I didn’t, although since then I’ve been told it came from Colorado).

By that point I was 97% sure the man was not going to buy anything from me, and I was 100% sure I didn’t want him to have that beautiful piece of quartz. If he had asked the price, I would have said $50, even though I usually ask $20 for it. I didn’t want him to have it , but I’d want $50 more than I’d want to keep the stone from him.

On another morning, two women and a man stopped at my table. The man was admiring the winter hats I’d made. He asked one of the women if she wanted one.

When have you ever known me to wear a hat? she snapped at him.

She stalked off, but the man and the other woman stayed at my table. The man asked the price of the hats, and I told him they were only $10.

Where are y’all from? I asked them. Due to his accent and the first woman’s attitude, I wasn’t surprised when he said Chicago.

I commented on how cold it gets in Chicago and said the lady must be really tough if she never wears a hat during a Chicago winter.

She’s tough as nails, the man said.

He asked me if men wear my hats. I said yes and told him about the man who’d bought one the day before.

He liked the hat my styrofoam model was wearing, so I told him he was welcome to try it on.

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The man from Chicago liked the hat the model is wearing.

He pulled it on while I got the mirror.

I told him the hat looked really good on him. I wasn’t only trying to make a sale; the hat did look really good on him. He said he wanted it so he could keep his ears warm while walking his dog this winter.

With the hat on his head, he called to the woman who’d walked away and was now three tables down the line of vendors, How do I look?

She replied immediately, after barely looking at him, Stupid!

Wow! I said. Is that your wife?

Yes, he said. We’ve been married 30 years.

Wow! I said again. “Y’all must really love each other.

He called out to his wife again. Should I get this hat?

She looked totally disgusted and said, You’re the one who’d have to wear it.

He didn’t buy the hat.

I thanked him for his admiration of my work, and he said, We haven’t left yet. He said if his wife bought something, he’s be back, tit for tat, but I didn’t see him again.

A few days later, a young man and woman stopped at my table. The woman was wearing a pink hoodie with “Vinton, Louisiana” printed on the chest. Since I have family in that area, I asked her if she was from Vinton, Louisiana. She said no, she wasn’t from there. But there’s a pit there, she said. She turned around and there was a rooster screen printed on the back of the hoodie.

Cockfighting, you mean? I asked her.

Yeh, she said. My dad made his way down there…

Whenever they asked me the price of something, I added a few dollars–let’s call it a cruelty to animals tax–but they didn’t buy anything. It wasn’t until after they walked away that I realized I should have said, That’s barbaric, as soon as she confirmed we were talking about cock fighting.

The most annoying jerk was a young guy. He was clean-cut and looked totally straight, but the young woman he was with had long dreadlocks. It was the end of the day, and I had all of my rocks and most of my jewelry packed up.

They expressed interest in my highest priced necklaces.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

These are the necklaces the couple was interested in.

I told them the pendants on the necklaces were made by a young local artist who charges $45 for them; I offered to let them have an entire necklace for $40.

The young guy said, They don’t charge that much at the expensive stores in town.

I replied (in a calm, neutral tone of voice), I don’t know where you’ve been shopping, but I know this guy charges $45 for his pendants.

The woman liked the lepidolite necklace, so I gave her the spiel.

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This is the lepidolite necklace the woman liked. In real life, the stone is a deeper purple. Please forgive my overexposed photo.

That’s lepidolite. It’s a local stone, mined in this county. It contains lithium, so it’s good for lifting depression and stabilizing mood, and it helps with insomnia.

The young man kind of snorted and said, I’ve never heard of it before, as if I were lying to them about a stone so they would buy it.

Sure, there are people who would lie about a stone to get someone to buy it, and the guy had no way of knowing that I’m not one of those unscrupulous people. But this guy was acting as if because he’d never heard of lepidolite, it couldn’t possibly exist. I hear about new rocks all the time. I never think a stone can’t be real just because I’ve never heard of it.

The couple wandered off, and I continued packing.

Soon they were back, and the woman was looking at the necklace with the ledpidolite pendant again. I hadn’t made much money that day, and one more sale before I left would have been nice, so I told her she could have it for $30. The man was standing next to her, and he asked, Would you take $20?

I flatly replied, No.

It was cold and windy, and the man left to get his coat.

I told the woman, For $30, you’re getting all my work for free and $15 off the pendant.

The woman also looked at a short necklace with a pendant made with a local amazonite. I’d done the pendant’s simple wrap and was asking only $15 for the necklace. I told her the price and said the rock had been found locally.

The man walked back up to the table, and the woman showed him the necklace with the amazonite pendant.

That looks like just a rock, he said,

That’s because it is a rock, you idiot, is what I wanted to say, but instead I said, It’s a natural stone. It hasn’t been polished.

The man told the woman she should only get it if it were the best necklace she’d ever seen and she was totally excited about it. She put down the necklace, and they were off again.

I finished packing quickly, hoping they’d come back wanting the $15 necklace so I could tell them they were too late and had missed their chance. If they’d wanted the lepidolite necklace for $30? Well, I guess I would have unpacked that one.

(I took all the photos in this post)

To read more about customers, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/05/we-feel-for-your-situation/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/02/10/red-letter-day-2/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/09/26/turtle-ass/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/03/17/how-much-are-these/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/09/selling-hemp-again/ or here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2015/12/14/mean-daddy/

Getting By

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Last night I realized I had no blog post scheduled for today.

No problem, I thought. I’ll just go to the coffee shop after work and post an update of what I’ve been doing. No problem.

But now I’ve had dinner (that breakfast burrito with eggs, potatoes, cheese, salsa, and green chiles was freaking awesome) and messed around too much on Facebook (which was supposed to be for promoting the blog, not for wasting my precious rare internet time), and I am tired. Tired, tired, tired. So please don’t expect this to be the best blog post you have ever read.

I’ve been working selling shiny rocks and the hemp jewelry and winter hats I handmake. The shoppers have been more like browsers than customers, mostly stuffy old people. I’m talking to everyone, trying to be charming and nice, showing everyone how the clasp on the jewelry works, letting them know I’m downsizing and offering good deals on rocks. I’ve made a little money every day, and keep reminding myself that any money I earn is more than I had. I’ve also met my goal of not yet having to dip into my savings and haven’t even had to use the money in my checking account to support my eating and gasoline habits. I’m making it; I’m getting by.

I have a house sitting job scheduled to start next week. The woman I’m house sitting for is super nice, and I’ll be caring for an adorable father and son doggy duo. The house is awesome. (I’m not often impressed by houses, but this one is absolutely lovely.) The house also includes a shower and flush toilet (not really unusual, as houses in the U.S. go), a washer and dryer, a million TV channels, and WiFi! (Oh precious WiFi!) I might just stay in the house accessing the internet for four days straight.

I don’t have any other house sitting jobs lined up, but I’ve been spreading the word that I’m still looking.

I’ve spent several nights on the couch in the studio casita belonging to my dear friend the Jewelry Lady. She is such a good friend! She’s been keeping me amused and feeding me dinner and letting me sleep on her aforementioned couch. I don’t want to take advantage of her generosity and hospitality by continually invading her small space, but I’ll probably be back there tomorrow night, as a low temperature of 24 degrees is predicted. I’m not sure I want to sleep in the van when it’s that cold.

I also reconnected in a platonic/nonromantic way with my Rock Guy/exboyfriend. I think he really missed me. He was very nice to me when I was out at his place. He insisted I sleep in his bed (while he slept on the floor!) and he presented me with a pair of shoes he’d scored for me at the local thrift store. I’m driving him to the big city for a doctor’s appointment early next week, and he’s talking about us going on a big road trip later this month. It’s good to be friends with him, but we are not getting back together, and that does make me a little sad.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got to say tonight. I need to do more writing, but at the end of the day, I am just so darn tired.

Turtle Ass

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I acquired four or five turtle pendants in repayment of a loan. As soon as I put one on a hemp necklace, it would go out on my table and sell for $20. No turtle necklace sat on my table for more than three days.

One day the newest turtle necklace was sitting on my table. A man came up to the table. He was alone. No buddies. No lady friend. All by himself.

I gave him my hemp jewelry spiel. I told him all of the pieces were handmade from hemp, handmade by me. I told him all my pieces open and close completely. I told him the starting price of necklaces was $10.

He was interested in the turtle necklace. I told him the price was $20. He asked what I had for $10. I pointed to the $10 pieces. He didn’t like any of those. He said he’d give me $15 for the turtle necklace. I told him no. Usually I’ll take less for a piece, but I knew I could sell the turtle necklace for twenty bucks.

He said he’d take the turtle necklace for $20. WIN!

He wanted to wear the necklace right away, and asked me to fasten it around his neck. I did. I fasten a lot of necklaces around a lot of customers’ necks.

Before he left, he turned his back to me and said, Look at this! I looked over, and he had pulled the back waistband of his shorts down and over so I could see his turtle tattoo. The tattoo was on the upper part of his ass. I didn’t see any crack, but the man definitely showed me his ass.

I guess it was worth it to put $20 in my pocket.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

This is not the turtle necklace I sold to the man who showed me his ass. The turtle is not even made of the same material as the one in the story. This turtle necklace is for illustration purposes only. It may or may not be available for purchase when you read this.

Give the Best You’ve Got: A Lesson in Giving from NeoTribal The Gathering

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As NeoTribal The Gathering was winding down, I thought I should give some little thank you gift to Ms. Reiki in appreciation for all the work she’d put into making the festival happen. I grabbed one of my bigger chunks of rose quartz and walked towards her camp.

I’d picked up a nice piece of rose quartz, but it wasn’t a fantastic piece of rose quartz. I still had several pieces from the 1/3 full bucket of South Dakota rose quartz I’d gotten for a good price at a Colorado gem and mineral show. I’d sold and given away a lot of those stones and had more than made my money back. Giving a piece of what I had left was not a sacrifice.

I went up to Ms. Reiki and said a few little words: Thank you. Blah blah. Appreciate. Blah blah. For you, and gave her the stone. She was excited and thanked me, reached onto her table and picked up a piece of rose quartz larger and cooler than the one I’d just given her. She handed the stone to me and said it was for me! She said she knew it was time to pass it on, and she wanted me to have it!

I was touched. And dumbstruck. And I felt like an asshole.

I’d given her something nice, but basically extra, and she turned around and bestowed upon me something really special and beautiful. I knew I should have given her something better, but it was too late. If I came back to her with a nicer gift, it would have looked as if I were trying to show her up.

This is the piece of rose quartz that Ms. Reiki gave me. (Photo by me)

This is the piece of rose quartz that Ms. Reiki gave me. (Photo by me)

It wasn’t too long, though, before I got to give my best.

I’d packed up all my merchandise, taken down my tent, and hauled everything except my big tub of rocks to my van. That tub of rocks is heavy! I knew it would take me forever to carry it to the van alone, and I’d probably hurt myself in the process. I thought earlier that I’d offer one of the guys who’d been hanging out in the grass next to my area a $5 ammonite to help me move the rocks, but by the time I was ready to make my offer, they’d wandered off.

I looked around and saw a young fellow I’d sold a couple of stones to earlier in the weekend. He’d bought a piece of malachite from Bisbee and another green/blue shiny rock I’d never heard of before from Mexico. He’s fastened them to his hood (like the hood of a cape or cloak, but without the robe part). He came back to my both to show me how it looked when he had finished the project. It had turned out really cool, and he seemed like a nice guy.

I asked him if he’d help me carry my box of rocks, didn’t mention any kind of exchange or payment, and he said yes. We hauled the box up to the van, and in the moment before he turned to leave, I reached into the rock box and pulled out one of my biggest, nicest, iridescent ammonites. I handed it to him, told him it was for him, and thanked him for his help.

He freaked out! He was so pleased with the ammonite. He threw his arms around me, thanked me, then bounded off to show it to his friend.

I think maybe I got it right that time.

The piece of rose quartz that Ms. Reiki gave me is the one I passed on to the woman who’d recently had open heart surgery. I wrote about the woman and the rock here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/?s=i+know+you+understand.

NeoTribal The Gathering: The People Next Door

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I arrived at the site of NeoTribal The Gathering by 8am. Later that morning, two women arrived and set up right the fuck next to me. The weird part is that they didn’t talk to me, didn’t say hello, much less we realize we are way closer to you than is normal or polite, but we are trying to utilize the shade, or whatever their reasoning was. They just set up their sleeping tent right next to my tent and went on with their lives.

The second thing they did to piss me off was tie a bag of trash to the leg of my pop up tent, again with no communication. At some point I moved my canvas bags I had stored in that corner and found a grocery store bag of trash tied there. I didn’t tie the bag of trash there, and I doubt someone walked over from some other area to tie on that bag of trash.  Who thinks it’s ok to tie trash to the tent of someone they’ve never even spoken to? Who does that?

I heard through the grapevine that the older (in her mid to late 60s) of the two women was a Native American Shaman and a Reiki Master. People were saying her name as if she were someone really special. I don’t think she was special enough to be allowed to tie her trash wherever she wanted. But maybe the other woman was the trash bag lady.

The second woman was younger, probably in her 40s, and was selling orgonite pieces that she and a relative had made.

If you don’t know what orgonite pieces are, don’t feel bad. I’d never heard of them until Sweet L gave me one during our Autumn 2012 Tour. According to http://www.soul-guidance.com/orgonite/#What%20is%20orgonite,

Orgonite is a mixture of catalyzed fiberglass resin with metal shavings, particles or powders, poured into molds. It is said to attract aetheric energy similarly to Reich’s accumulators. Some people also add a couple of crystals to the mixture for their ability to make the energy more coherent or to enhance the working the the orgonite. Thus orgonite basically is a substance which functions as a self-driven, continuously-operating, highly efficient energy transmutation device, drawing in negative life energy and transmuting it into positive energy. The resin in orgonite shrinks during the curing process, permanently squeezing the quartz crystal inside which creates a well-known piezoelectric effect inside the crystal, meaning its end-points become polarized electrically, this apparently causes it to function more effectively as a positive energy generator. Although crystals improve the function of orgonite, they are not necessary for the orgonite to work.

     Anyone can build these devices with easy to find materials. Orgonite is simply a mix (approx. 50/50 ratio) of metal and resin (polyester, urethane or epoxy). It can be poured into all kinds of shapes: pyramids, cones, disks, cylinders and pendants, to name a few. Some people use it to combat pollution and cell tower radiation. Others use it for clearing or purifying energies in their houses, or to enhance the growth of plants in their garden. It seems to work also really well in various kinds of  spiritual healing work. Energy sensitive people have given me various comments on how orgonite affected them. They have shown me that it really does work. You can also interact with it and use it for specific purposes.

I overheard the orgonite woman telling a potential customer that she was “a money magnet.” How nice for you, I said in my head in a snarky tone of thought. Who says that? Ok, a Wall Street tycoon, maybe. Who says that at a spiritual and healing gathering?

The third thing they did to piss me off was to hang out in the tiny area between my tent and theirs late into the night (and I don’t mean at 8:30) on Saturday. Couldn’t they have hung out on the other side of their tent? Couldn’t they have hung out at someone else’s tent? They weren’t being rowdy, but there was talking, and it did disturb me.

The older woman considered herself an intuitive healer, I guess, because she was doing tarot card readings throughout the weekend. She didn’t seem to realize (or maybe she just didn’t care) that she had her table parked so close to my tent that not only was there no space to walk between the two, but I could hear every word she and her client were saying. So much for privacy.

The first thing I overheard that I thought was worth writing down was a client saying that when she dances, “I’m trying to tap into the life force of the universe.” I’m going to keep my comments about that one to myself, because when the woman uttered those words, she probably did not realize that there was a snarky blogger in the tent next door hearing (and possibly noting) every word she said. (Although as close as her intuitive healer had her sitting to that tent, she probably should have thought to whisper.)

The second thing I overheard (and then pulled out my notebook and wrote down verbatim) was something the “healer” said to a different client. The client was very upset, crying, seemed to feel as if she had no real path in life, was just kind of stumbling around from one adventure to another. (I can relate, honey, I really can.) The woman also seemed to be feeling and taking on a lot of pain from other spirits and wanting to help those others heal. (I can relate to that too.) In addition to whatever else the “healer” said (I swear, I was not sitting there trying to listen), what I heard her clearly tell the client was “Release all concepts that you should be anything but what you are.”

Really? All concepts? I get accepting oneself as one is. I get forgiving oneself for what one has done in the past. But releasing ALL concepts that one should be ANYTHING but what one is? That seems like a little much.

I mean, should murders, rapists, and Dick Chaney release all concepts that they should be anything but what they are? Should I just accept that sometimes I am a snarky asshole and never try to do better? (Perhaps my father long ago released all concepts that he should be anything but what his is…which is a guy who thinks he’s funny when he makes jokes at other people’s expense. He is, in fact, an asshole.)

Shouldn’t we want to be better than who we are at the moment? Shouldn’t we want to be kinder, more loving, more compassionate? Maybe the Dalai Lam gets to release the concept that he should be anything but what he is, but the rest of us? I don’t know. I’m skeptical that it’s a good idea for the rest of us.

The way I know I should be something other than what I am? When I left the gathering, I untied that bag of trash from my tent tent leg and left it in front of the neighbor’s tent. It was childish, I know. A mature person would have just walked it over to a trash can. A better person would not have held a grudge. Next time I’m faced with a similar situation, I’ll work on being something different from what I actually am.

NeoTribal the Gathering: You Kids Get Off My Lawn

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It was early in the morning; the air was still cool. Children were running around the festival, fed recently enough to have lots of energy, not yet sapped by the heat. I heard the sounds of their voices change as they ran through the Healing Garden.

Then the voices seemed to congregate in one place. I heard the door of a Porta Potty slam repeatedly, as well as what sounded like thumping on its walls. I walked to the front of my vending area and saw a group (five? six?) of kids standing in front of one of the portable toilets. There was more slamming of the door and general squealing of children.

I walked over calmly. The kids looked at me skeptically. I spoke in a low voice and said to them that the Porta Potty was not a place to play. I asked them if they could find another place to play.

They started talking over each other, trying to explain what had been going on. One boy said he hadn’t been playing, he’d been trying to use the restroom, and the other kids had been kicking the walls of the Porta-John while he was in there!

I again requested they find another place to play, and added, We’re all going to be sad if that porta potty gets tipped over.

Especially me if I’m in there, the boy added.

The kids wandered away, and I went back to my jewelry and my shiny rocks.

NeoTribal The Gathering: Mukunda

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I was in my vending space when a little tiny person toddled in. The bit of hair fluff he had was white blond, and his eyes were huge and blue. He smiled and laughed and his mom followed him in.

We chatted a bit, and I said I thought her little friend was cute. (I try not to assume an adult and kid in public together are parent and child, although in this case they were.) I asked his name, and she said, Mukunda.

She explained breathlessly that it’s one of the names of Krishna and added that she and the kid’s dad named him Makunda Ram Das. I didn’t say anything more than Oh! while nodding and smiling.

According to https://krishnasmercy.wordpress.com/2010/06/22/mukunda/, [o]ne of Lord Krishna’s names is Mukunda, meaning “one who grants liberation”. According to Wikipedia,“Ram Dass is an American spiritual teacher and the author of the seminal[2][3] 1971 book Be Here Now.”

 

I will admit right here: I didn’t know much about the followers of Krishna. I thought they wore robes and handed out flowers while asking for donations. (Do I have totally 1977 ideas about the followers of Krishna?) This woman and her husband (whom I met later) looked and acted like other mainstream early 21st century white people. This couple certainly looked more “normal” than most of the other people at the festival: no visible tattoos, no dreadlocks, no tie dye, the man was clean shaven and wore shorts and a t-shirt, the woman did not have on a flowy skirt or flowers in her hair. Maybe followers of Krishna blend in now and I didn’t get the memo. If I had guessed a religion for this little family, I’d have speculated Mormon or maybe Lutheran.

I’m not even trying to be snarky here. I just think it’s a little weird to give your kid one of Krishna’s names if Krishna isn’t your deity.

Maybe I’m the asshole for assuming the family does not hold Krishna in a religious place of honor. (My dad always said, When you assume, you make an ass of you and me.) Now that I have internet access, I Googled “do followers of Krishna dress a certain way?” and found “An introduction on how to be a devotee of Krishna.” According to that website,

The devotees you may have seen distributing books like Bhagavad-Gita, or chanting the Hare Krishna Mantra with traditional Indian instruments, or dancing and chanting dressed in traditional Indian robes, are for the most part full-time monks of the Hare Krishna movement. The vast majority of Krishna devotees, however, live and work in the general community, practicing Krishna consciousness in their homes and may sometimes visit Krishna temples for inspiration and prayer.

Oh. I guess I am the asshole. My apologies. I was holding 1977 ideas about the followers of Krisha. Now I see that it’s quite likely that Mukunda’s parents are devotees of Krishna. I should have just asked, but sometimes my brain is quick to jump to conclusions and slow to ask polite, well-meaning questions.

 

NeoTribal The Gathering Part 2

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Photo I took in the Healing Garden.

Photo I took in the Healing Garden.

Even before my tent was totally set up the way I wanted it, people were stopping by to chat and to buy things. Before the day was over, I’d paid my vending fee, plus a tiny profit. It’s nice to make enough to cover the vending fee on the first day of a multi-day event so I can quit worrying about my expenses and just bask in the profits.

I took this photo of my vending setup at NeoTribal The Gathering. I put up the curtain walls to block the sun, but they also gave me a tiny bit of privacy at night.

I took this photo of my vending setup at NeoTribal The Gathering. I put up the curtain walls to block the sun, but they also gave me a tiny bit of privacy when I slept in the tent at night.

I quit trying to sell as soon as the sun set. I don’t have a generator, and there were no electrical outlets nearby, so even if I had brought electric lights, I couldn’t have used them. I didn’t try make any sales by the light of my two small lanterns.By the time I closed up the tent and had some dinner (which consisted of mashed potatoes so I wouldn’t lose my crown which was held in with temporary adhesive), I was too tired to think about partying.

I wasn’t sure about where to sleep. I knew I’d probably be more physically comfortable in the van, but I wasn’t 100% confident that my merchandise would be safe if I left it alone. I decided to sleep in my vending tent, so I schlepped over Nolagirl’s plastic tarp and one of my layers of memory foam, my pillow, my sheet, and my new Ikea blanket. I folded the tarp in two, laid it on the ground, then put my memory foam on top. Such comfort!

I didn’t even have to go anywhere to hear music. I was situated between two stages, so I spent the night in the middle of a perpetual electronic dance music mashup. Both my body and mind were tired, and I slipped into something of a trance state between sleep and wakefulness. It was sort of like being high without any of the problems of being on drugs.

I can’t say I slept well. Sleeping on the ground would have been more comfortable with two layers of memory foam between it and me. I was a little bit too warm too. At some point after the music stopped, I woke up to some guy yelling. I don’t remember what nonsense he was shouting, but I sighed and rolled over, thinking what a relief it was to be unaffiliated with the man losing his shit and screaming in the darkness. Later, the wind picked up and the side curtains repeatedly blew in my face. I worried about the stability of the pop up, but it held up fine. All ended well, and I got a few more hours of sleep.

Saturday was much of the same, although I (thankfully) didn’t have to haul, unpack, and set up all of my merchandise again. Being able to stay set up was such a blessing.

I took this photo of my rock table at NeoTribal The Gathering.

My rock table at NeoTribal The Gathering.

No way were there 500 people at the event. I think an estimate of 200 would be a generous exaggeration of the actual head count. I did well for the number of people who passed by my booth (and most people who passed by did stop and take a look at least once), but I did not do as well as I expect I would have done with a crowd of 500. Actually, it’s probably a good thing 500 people didn’t attend the festival. I don’t know if the four flush toilets (two in the women’s restroom and–I presume– two in the men’s), plus the five portable toilets could have comfortablly accommodated 500 people.

I think because I was in my tent with curtains closed by 8pm on both nights, I didn’t see much drug use. A couple of ladies came into my tent early on Saturday afternoon, and they were acting just a little strangely, and I wondered if they were high.They might have been just a little socially awkward. On Friday night, I heard some guys right outside my tent talking about “molly,” and I don’t think they were discussing a female friend.

However, a woman I’d gotten friendly with over the weekend told me early on Sunday morning that she’d been woken up in the wee hours of the morning by a couple she was confident was high on ecstasy fucking (her word) right outside of her tent. She said their heads were hitting the side of her tent. She said another ecstasy couple was also fucking (her word again) very close to her tent. The ridiculousness of the whole situation was that there was so much open space nearby but not close to any tents where these couples could have gone and not bothered anyone.

On Sunday afternoon, a fellow did ask me if I traded for “herbal medicine.” I told him no, I don’t use it.  Then I felt I had to explain that although I don’t use it, I don’t think it’s wrong, but in fact I don’t use it, and no one in my immediate vicinity uses it, so I really have no desire to trade for it. He seemed to understand, even though my explanation felt really clumsy to me.

The one other time I knew drugs were around was when I went up to the amphitheater because I had been told the closing ceremony was about to happen there. When I got up there, a reggae band started playing instead. The band’s front man immediately started singing about Israel and I got a huge whiff of weed. I realized the closing ceremony was not about to happen up there, so I left to finish packing up to leave. I’m not surprised (or even offended) by smelling ganja or hearing about Israel at a reggae show, but it’s not what I wanted to be doing at that moment.

Sign in the Healing Garden. Photo by me.

Sign in the Healing Garden.

One thing that was really cool about the event was the age diversity of the folks who attended. There were families with babies and little kids, and much of the time, those kids were running around playing together. There were, of course, lots of young adult there for the music and dancing (and the sex and drugs too, for some of them.) I saw older couples and met a few women (probably in the 45 to 55 age range) going through divorces who had come for a day of healing away from their (soon to be) ex husbands. Several of my customers (including the young man who offered to trade for herbal medicine) were hanging out with their moms. Many festivals I’ve been to have been attended mostly by very young adults, so it was good to be somewhere with a wider range of ages. I think the age diversity was at least partially due to older folks coming to give and receive healing in the Healing Garden, as well as older folks coming for the drumming in the Heartbeat Village.

According the the NeoTribal The Gathering website information on Heartbeat Village (http://neotribalthegathering.com/heartbeat/),

It is said that the drum is the heartbeat of mother earth  and those that have lost their rhythm, have lost their connection to the planet…

For some there is a need to find that rhythm again for others there is a hunger to deepen that relationship to the earth  but for all there is a connection to each other and the planet through the Drum. Join us in the HEARTBEAT of Neotribal a space to create learn and experience healing through music dance and sharing. Instruments Drums and percussion will be provided by Neotribal free of charge for all that attend our workshops…

The ethnic diversity of NeoTribal The Gathering was a bit better than some of the festivals I’ve been to where all I saw were white people. As is typical in the Southwest, in addition to all the ostensibly white people, there were quite a few Latino/as. In addition there were some native Americans and a few African Americans in attendance. Again, I think it was the drumming circles and workshops that brought much of that diversity to the festival.

Overall, I’m glad I attended NeoTribal The Gathering, especially since I didn’t have to pay to park or camp. I made just about the amount of money I wanted to make. It’s always nice to meet my goal.

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When Ms. Reiki tried to give me postcards to hand out before the festival, I told her that I don’t really know people in the area. She told me I’d make 40 new friends at the gathering. That was an exaggeration too, although I did have some good conversations with people (and shared a couple of nice hugs). I gave me card to folks I suspect I’ll never hear from again (and no one have his/her card to me.)

I don’t pretend to understand how the Universe works or why I end up at any particular place at any particular time. Maybe I was at NeoTribal The Gathering just to give a guy with dreadlocks and tattoos a good price on a piece of danburite that I’d been hauling around and putting out on my table for months. Or maybe I was there to listen to the older Navajo women attending the event with her son; I suspect I might have been the only other person there she felt she could relate to. Maybe my role was to offer my ear to the woman who needed to vent about the couple fucking against her tent. Maybe I was needed simply to provide a bag of ice for the elders’ luncheon when the organizers forgot to buy some.

I can’t really say why I was there, but I hope I did my part.

Bracelets and necklaces decorated with beads, baubles, and trinkets.

Bracelets and necklaces decorated with beads, baubles, and trinkets.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

Pendants of wire wrapped stones by James Smith. Hemp work by me.

Necklace with pendant of skull carved from smoked yak bone and turquoise.

Necklace with pendant of skull carved from smoked yak bone with turquoise accent bead.

All photos in this post were taken by me.