Friday, July 29, 2005

Travels in Sebastopol

So we were looking at this totally expensive rental this morning, out west of Sebastopol. The place was funky but sort of charming, in a dark wood rustic handmade sort of way. Funky and kind of small too. They want how much for this? $2300 a month.
The owner leads us downstairs to the garage, which was pretty much like a garage. Big deal. But he wants to impress us I guess, so he says 'ah, there's another workshop space over here, behind this wall hanging'. He pulls the curtain back and tada! It's a wall. He looks stunned. Uh, there didn't used to be a wall here. Nice new unpainted drywall. Guess the tenants must have put it in. The tenants? Yeah right. I figured this guy is just a little out of it.
As we were driving away Krista points out that it totally smelled like skunky weed down there and obviously someone was growing in that walled off space! Jeez, I'm so naive. Not as naive as that landlord though. Well, I guess that's one way to afford exhorbidant rent.
As we were driving home I began to feel angry with myself that I was nice to this guy. I was raised to be nice to people. But I wish I'd yelled at him "what are you thinking? why are you asking so much rent for this funky funky place?!"
And I'm looking at all the shiny new super giant sized gas guzzling SUVs purchased via home equity lines of credit and hyper inflated property values, and I'm just waiting for the bubble to pop. To hell with deflating--I want a loud POP!! and I want it soon.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


Ouroboros, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Here it is, hanging in our little home. It was a nice birthday surprise for me.

So Sorry....

It's been a while....
We're pretty focused these days on our house search and generating income. We finally got paypal and a shopping cart set up on Krista's website (shameless plug here:) for the prints and card sets, and soon we'll have the silk wall hangings on there. I took photos of them out on Jerry's arbor yesterday and was surprised and pleased with the results. I'm hoping they actually start selling as they're beautiful and the whole production thing seems wholesome and right.
Monday was my birthday and I got an extra surprise from the other batik folks we were working with in Ubud. After months of frustration and unaccountable delay, the samples finally showed up! There are three images on big rayon sarongs. These are the designs that Krista slaved over in Ubud while I took the kids to the bird park and monkey forest and generally relaxed in the hammock.
Two of the sarongs we want to tweak, the colors aren't quite right, but the third is good to go and I'm planning to call tonight and order maybe 50 of them--not sure how much they want to charge us. The image? It's a dragon eating it's own tail--an ouroborous, with gorgeous bright colors and wicked tribal patterns. I'll get a photo of it up soon.
This week we travelled over to Occidental to check out an unusual live/work space on the old Harmony School campus. I guess Occidental ran out of kids so the county closed down their elementrary school. They tried to auction it off but no one bid on it. So the town asked this developer Thiessen (sp?) to buy it and he did. He's got this whole big plan to put in houses and condos and such, but not for a year and a half. In the meantime he's put kitchens in three of the old classrooms and is renting them out cheap. Other classrooms are available for artist's studios. We looked at two of them and one was actually sort of appealing inside--it has a very tall cathedral ceiling with big skylights, and a whole wall of floor to ceiling windows/sliding doors looking out on a pretty hillside covered with shrubs and trees. It was mainly just one big room with a few closets. I immediately imagined building a huge loft. just felt way to edgy and unsafe. The campus is still open to the public sort of, and people drift on and maybe set up camp. I think it would feel too creepy. Otherwise, it's right in town and you could just about do anything to the rooms, the developer wouldn't care. Very interesting. Just not for us.
We want a nice big 4 bedroom house somewhere quiet and peaceful. A charming old house with a porch and a sunny kitchen. Doesn't everyone?
Meanwhile Jerry and Joyce are making us feel so welcome here and the weather has been lovely. Aside from the world sliding off a cliff and all, life is good.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

OCF continued

Every year my desire to attend the fair declines as our departure date looms. By the time we're packing the van I'm cursing the fair and doubting my own sanity. It's alot of work. And it's very easy to forget the intangible reasons for attending. In fact, it's hard to write about them even now, a few weeks past.
At first glance the OCF seems like any fair or festival we do--we set up shop, sell our wares, meet customers, hear some music, take in the sights, maybe see some old friends. What makes the fair so different?
Most of the folks involved with OCF are not there to make money (not that anything is wrong with commerce--it provides a vital structure, a skeleton as it were, for everything else). Instead we get to experience a beautiful outpouring, an explosion really, of creative self expression---of music, costuming, performance, altars, dance and general weirdness. People spend days, weeks or months preparing their offering--many many people do this. And some of the offerings are pretty mind blowing!
And many more folks just respond to the wonderful atmosphere of openness by letting go with some unplanned contribution to the scene--be it a big smile, a song, a compliment to a stranger, dancing at the drum tower, joining a parade or having a deep and timely and unexpected conversation.
This outpouring of expression is intense and for me it is intensely nourishing. I come away filled up, inspired. The richness of the scene, the fantastic quantity and quality of trippy experiences, overwhelms my poor old dried up day to day consciousness like a fertile flood replenishing the fields of my life.
And the question comes up--why can't we live more like this all the time? Why don't we have more time for making music and art and cooking and playing and making offerings? Why must we chase those dollars and why do we let the machine catch hold of us? Why does it cost so much to rent a house in Sonoma County? Let alone buy a place to build up our life on.
My life time seems so precious today, I'm glad I could share some of it with you.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Kaytea and the Girls

P1010199, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Fairies all.

Uncle George

CIMG3093, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

As good as the cake was, it was the love that made me so full.


CIMG3097, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

I am the luckiest person I know.

Off In The Poppies

CIMG3411, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Kaytea, Sean, Jeremy and Tyler

CIMG3335, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

First Timers.

After the Fair

It was a good one. One of the best I reckon, and that's saying alot. We had a smooth entry with all of our systems in place. I put down the floor of the loft whilst Krista and the girls unloaded the van. We got our beds in place, hung the mosquito tent and had the kitchen up and running all before dark. This after our 10 hour drive.
Amazingly there were no mosquitoes this year, or very very few. Some years we've been eaten alive. The next day I had to do some construction on the rails for the loft. They have to be removeable, so that more light can reach the ground so that more vegetation grow so that less erosion will happen in the periodic floods. Pain in the ass! But there was plenty of lumber to be had from other booths doing construction and demolition. It all worked out.
So....We waited and waited and waited for Karen-Danny-Zoe to show up, and for my neice Kaytea. They were all just taking their sweet time I guess--Kaytea got to the booth at 9:30pm! Next year we'll have a cel phone so we won't have to worry. That was on Wednesday.
By Thursday afternoon we were all set up and the fair was rolling--just a few cars and trucks arriving, many food booths open, many craftspeople selling. Krista's folks showed up--bringing us our cargo drums and sarongs and hammocks--and best of all--the silk hangings that arrived from Bali at the last possible moment. Then Jay got there with his big heart and infectious laugh. It was a nice night. Lot's of music on the path, people strolling, nobody's all that tired yet, no public but still lots and lots of folks. Some people really like Thursdays best.
The booth looked great! This year we had almost all originals and they filled the main wall. It was lovely. We also hung the silks, which looked especially good at night. We had the wood carvings of Mother Tree from Bali hung up and the people who noticed them were very impressed.
One of the best improvements this year was a mini booth for the girls to sell their wares. Krista and I dreamed this up last year on the drive home--stoked on espresso we made a list of dream improvements. Thanks to Danny we were able to pull this one off (though to be fair, Karen, Krista and I all had a hand in the construction). The mini booth got the kids up out of the dirt and kept them closer in and I think added some legitemacy to their wares--beaded bracelets and drawings. I'm not sure it helped India sell though. I think she actually attracted more customers hunkered down on the path with her candle lanterns. It fit better with her poetry. Also, she and the little girls had to work out sharing the space, so there was some unforeseen contention. Given this new mini venue, maybe we'll put more energy into the girl's offerings next year.
The fair was so jam packed with experiences I'm not sure how to even start telling you about them, or even if I should try! But I have to go now, so more later.

The Ritz

CIMG3098, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Hanging out in front of the Ritz. The nest and bird are new this year--unbelievable. The Ritz is where we go for our showers, and one of my favorite places at night.

Working Hard or Hardly Workin?

CIMG3173, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Jerry adds some atmosphere.

Did you see that?

CIMG3204, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.


CIMG3543, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

Like all our crew, Karen is funny, creative, responsible, hard working and very very good looking.

"10" on the costume scale

P1010175, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

This gal is astonishing. She designs and makes all of her own costumes (a new one each day), all out of garbage or recycled junk, and each day has a new hair creation. I don't have her name at hand, I'll try to get it posted. Last year she made a gown out of an inflatable swimming pool, that was my fave.

Zoe Rose

P1010170, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

What can be said? And what would the Akha woman who made this crown make of it all?

Fair Goers

P1010164, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

I love the pipe cleaners.

Lunch Break

P1010154, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

There's a special bench for stilt walkers in Chela Mela meadow. I'm not sure, but I think this crew was with the March 4th Band.

India and Zai Velvet

P1010125, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

We got to see our dear friend Kelly and her lovely child Zai. What a treat. India was hill tribed out this fair and looked fantastic.

Velvet Girls

P1010097, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

A fair tradition for these lucky girls. Damn cute.

The Mud People

CIMG3522, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

A sunday tradition. Last year as I stood in the middle of the path snapping photos of this tribe, they surrounded me and began earnestly pulling my shorts off! I think they were trying to make me one of them. My hemp shorts were tied on around my waist--otherwise who knows where I'd be today....


CIMG3608, originally uploaded by Robbi Baba.

The fair is over, time to say goodbye to our neighbors and crew. Every year we grow to love these folks more and more. We've watched eachother's kids grow up and shared the most amazing experiences. I feel so blessed to know such people. Alas, there are some missing from this shot, it was slightly more chaotic than usual, packing up.

Saturday, July 02, 2005


Yea!! Our cargo is here! From far away over the sea! Yesterday was the absolute last day we could get it before the OCF. We'd pretty much resigned ourselves to not getting it in time, paying extra storage fees while we were gone, missing the barter fair venue, etc... It seemed so cruel.

So when I called yesterday morning and they said come and get it, we dropped everything and zoomed down to the scary industrial wasteland of Alameda, to find the warehouse. I drove our big red van and Krista followed in the little pick up, terrified of getting seperated and lost down there in the heavy heavy traffic. At one point, near our exit actually, she was completely surrounded by huge semi trucks and couldn't see me. Poor Krista! When we finally got there she told me "Never Again", meaning next time we'd hire a delivery service like normal people. Damn the expense.

We had to pick up some papers at the warehouse and show them my passport then drive back on the big scary freeway to US Customs up the road for final clearance. A man wearing a big gun and a homeland security uniform asked us a few questions and stamped our forms 'you're good to go'. It was all going so smoothly!!

When it was finally time to back the van up to the big loading dock (which was 4 feet off the ground) we had our first look at the crates. Oh my GOD. Three of them were fucking HUGE (pardon my French). The loading dock guys were shaking their heads. One said "you and your wife gonna load that in there?" pointing at our van. We said "well, we have a pick up truck too" he just walked off shaking his head. Real helpful.

The other four crates were much smaller so we decided to do them first. Ha! Stone carvings. Each one weighed at least 100 pounds and a few a lot more. It's always fun balancing the fear of crushing one's hands with the fear of dropping something breakable. We wrestled the damn things over, then down, then in, then back. Krista's mantra was 'never again'.

Then we had the three giant crates to deal with. And they were much heavier. Somehow we did it. We stacked two in the truck and, with shaking arms and worn out hands, we got the thing tied down. Never again. Krista joked that we'd have to drive 30 mph the whole way back. Well, she was right, but not because of the load.

It took us two solid hours creeping home in bumper to bumper traffic. I cannot understand how people can live like that, spending hours of their lives stuck on the highway, commuting. But I was in no mood to judge. I had to pee the whole way back! Never again!

We walked in the house at 5pm, having left the kids in front of the TV six hours earlier. They were still there! Christ. I was afraid their eyes would be bleeding, but they said they hadn't watched the whole time. Never again! I figured out we saved about $500 doing it ourselves.

Our blessed friends Meredith and Steve (who just got back from Ireland, Wales and England) had invited us over for dinner, thank god. It was wonderful. They saved us from utter collapse. So today we get to uncrate and unpack our treasures for distribution far and wide. With any luck not too much is broken in there, and our spines won't simply snap. Wish us luck!