Categories
Germany

Freakstock…Again

Well, once again we were to be found at The Freakstock Festival in Germany. We think this makes 9 years we have gone. We didn’t plan to come back for the very next year but here we are.

First we had to reunite the family.

Sam is back after about a year and a half away from the truck. He met the older girls in Scotland and journeyed back with them. Really great to have the family all together again.

Every year we seem to get closer to the noisiest part of the festival and have lots of friends, old and new, around for most of the time. Some highlights were…

Being with friends.  Old friends and new friends like clowns, physical theater artists, musicians and other artists and just plain ol’ amazing people.

Categories
Germany

Surreal Spaces

Do you sometimes feel like you are caught in a surreal space. Somewhere between reality and a dream-like trance. Seems I find myself in that place often. I am currently sitting in front of our truck in the centre of an exhibition space at a festival with over 100,000 attendees. Not sure why we are parked here. We just parked where we were told to go, at P2-JZ1020.

Nice to be back in our truck after so many months away.  She was a little worse for wear when we returned. Having hosted a field mice festival in our absence seems to have taken a toll on her, our clothes, bedding, tarps and tents. Lizzy might get a good children’s book out of it, she has already begun to write it in her mind. The story might even have a feature on her “pom-pom bag”. The pom-poms were carefully removed from her favourite bag and redistributed around the truck.

The mice did have a bit of a repreave from their festivities when some two-legged visitors came in to help themselves to some items they thought they needed. They took some things that would be expected, like speakers, solar inverter, power tools, printer and projector, but some things that would not be expected, like Lizzy’s party shoes and my box of beads from around the world. Another bizarre image comes to mind of a man dancing around the truck in Lizzy’s bejewelled high-heels.

During our few day in Prague we visited with our dear friends, cleaned up the best we could, and encouraged  the mice to vacate. TJ unsuccessfully pleaded a case to promote a couple of them to “pet mouse” status.

We seemed to have limped into Germany. Wires dangling from various points on the wall, the few clothes we have left are seeming more tattered with the dissapointment of what is left. Judging myself for not being creative, or patient enough to patch the uncountable holes in my beautiful striped canvas awning.  Actually I think I was just too discouraged. We are really tired from flying and cleaning up and the loss. We thought that we might get a bit of down time while Andrew was off teaching on blogging.

Seems to be strange that when we are at our weakest we are put on exhibition. Quite literally this time.

If you are here at the festival in  the centre of Dresden you can find us between the Greenpeace and the World Vision booths.

Categories
Germany

Cheap Thrills in Germany

Here we are, still in Germany. Actually we are in Bad Gogging. It is an ancient spa town from Roman Empire days. Lots of statues of old, dead Roman dudes. We thought a spa town would be a great place to have Andrew’s birthday as Andrew has had memorable spa experiences on 2 other birthdays. Hey, its tradition. So, Andrew went off for his birthday spa this morning only to realize that it was ladies day at the spa. Try as he might they didn’t let him in. Maybe tomorrow. No cheap thrills here, just in case you were wondering.

How are we entertaining ourselves in the meantime?


We got given 2 slightly used tyres. YIPPEE. No more thump, thump as we drive down the road.


We entertain ourselves as only native english speakers can with a few local words. This is the cheap thrills. I guess you’ve got to be a Jones to get a good giggle from these.

We continue to renovate our kitchen while a motorbike resides in the middle of it. It is on our list of things to do to our truck before we leave her behind for a bit. I mean, would you want to come back to no kitchen?

We are making our way to Prague where she will spend the winter nice and cosy in a barn. Inigo will winter with another crazy family with 5 kids.

Busy, busy, busy.

Starting to get really excited as well as a bit scared.

Categories
Germany

Leaving “Easter Island”

Leaving “Easter Island” after 3 weeks. What an amazing time.

We finally got the brake seal on Thursday. Willie and Andrew fixed the truck the same day.

Abi wanted to stay a few more days so she could celebrate her 15th birthday with her new friends.

Hanna took the opportunity to learn some graffiti art on an official graffiti wall with paint cans that have been left over the last few weeks by all the graffiti artists.

We left richer than we entered.

We got our truck fixed for free.

Free training for Inigo from a professional dog trainer.

We were given a very,very cool old, German motorbike (only 50cc, don’t worry nana).

The best of all we have some new, very amazing, friends that we hope to see again soon. 

Oh yeah, one of our new friends, Kolya, is selling his truck. Yeah, I know. He did all the boring bits of doing a far better job at insulating the box than we would ever do. Get this. He has replaced most of the metal frame with wood frame. Put holes in the wood frame so that there is a barrier of circulating air. The next layer in comes the insulation and then the walls. All you need to do is add the fun bits. He loves his truck but needs to sell it because he has terminal cancer and can’t drive it anymore. If you’re interested email us and we’ll put you in touch.

I am still processing so much that we learned there. Our time at “Easter Island” has to be one of my favourite travelling experiences over the last year and a half. It has changed us, I believe for the better.

 

 

Categories
Germany

Ahhhh Plans

What do they say. The best laid plans of mice and men.

We made plans to go to India and a major catastrophic event happens to wipe out most of the roads. What is that about. Well….. we think to ourselves. We can help. Help how. Bringing in stuff. But then what. Do we just become more of the hungry mouths to feed.

We planned on our kids being able to go to UK to school and our visa extension was DENIED. Plans. Plans. Plans.

We planned on spending some time in EU and the Shengan countries changed the rules. Now, instead of 6 months in and 1 hour out it is now 3 months in and 3 months out.

What is all this about.

We try to be organized and are stopped at every turn.

Now we are feeling quite rejected and unloved by the border peoples. We are feeling more and more like we have no foundation.

We are thinking of doing something quite drastic. Andrew brought up showing the kids the countries they have passports to and hanging with some relatives for a bit. A round the world trip.

Dang, that sounds extravagant. I know people fly all the time but it is NOT GREEN and NOT CHEAP and I DON”T WANT TO LEAVE MY TRUCK and WHAT ABOUT MY DOG!!!! Dang, I sound like my mother not wanting to leave her home and her STUPID DOG to come and visit her daughter!

Oh no! Am I choosing my beautiful, cute, in-training mutt over my beautiful, amazing, self-sufficient 2 oldest kids. You know, I am such an external processor.

OK, lets try this with the other objections. I DON”T WANT TO LEAVE MY TRUCK. You know we have been offered this amazing huge warehouse in Germany to store her in. It would be so much better if someone wanted to use her while we were gone. You know, try out this nomad thing in Europe or something. That would be nice. Our truck could hang out with some new people or something. We’ll have to think about that one.

Next one. IT IS NOT CHEAP. Several of the people from this squat we are staying in right now fly all the time. THey say it is cheaper. It is just that big chunk at the beginning and the limited funds after. It just seems so extravagant. YOu know, people have been helping us out  in so many ways. NOT to by high-flying but to live simply doing good stuff. Still, we have been trying to find cheaper ways of bringing the truck and all by sea and havent’t found anything yet. But maybe we haven’t tried hard enough yet. If we bring our tipi and a small stove and pots to cook on the road it could bring the cost down considerably. Hmmmm.

IT IS NOT GREEN. I can justify this by averaging it out over the years but there may be no way of getting around this one.

I dunno. I want to be fair to my kids. They have cousins they have never met. They hold a passport to the USA and haven’t been there for 7 years! They hold a passport to New Zealand and only those that were born 17 years ago saw it and then only for a week.

Decisions, decisions. Plans gone to the wayside. New possibilities coming up. May become plans.

In the meantime we will continue to work on our truck

and look at beautiful skies

and hang with new friends.

Categories
Germany Living

Let Us Be

The morning sun is streaming into the truck. TJs new friend, Jet, is knocking at the door.

I open the door and look out. It is time to get up. Inigo went on a slow meandering walk with a little girl, her dad and her dog. They live in the truck just up from ours and she likes to get up early.

Andrew left hours ago with Willie to get Abi and Hannah. They have been at a camp with American kids here in Germany. Can you imagine. Some are their friends from Portugal.

TJ has been kinda lonely being the only child. She was calling herself the “Lonely Child” until Jet found her. Soon she will be off to play football and exploring around the “Squat” we are staying in this week.

We feel quite at home here. People are so friendly and practical. We feel like we can relax and be ourselves. Sometimes we get kinda overwhelmed with the rules and conformity in Germany, or is it simply being in a western country.

This place carries a refreshing freedom with it.

Not so much a violent exclaimation of “WE WILL NOT CONFORM!”

Instead it carries a gentle, “Let us be, let us be us, we don’t wish to be part of your world view or system.” Aaaaah.

Categories
Living

Being counted with the poor

We have been hanging with economically poor people for our whole teen and adult lives.

I went on many orphanages and dumps to visit people when I lived in Southern California.

I chose a nursing school on the East side of LA that staffed a hospital that took care of the poor. I remember cleaning all the maggots out of wounds and showering them with various insecticides before they were admitted onto the ward.

During this same time Andrew was hanging out with drunks in Australia. Filling a thermos of coffee and going out to hang with them.

Andrew and I met on a ship that brought really inexpensive educational books to poor countries in Central and Latin America. We slept in warm bunks and sailed away to the next port.

After having a couple of kids we lived in San Francisco. Almost at the corner of Haight-Ashbury, just as the area was being overcome with street kids after the death of Bob Marley. Sometimes we would sit with the street kids and hear their stories. We were counted as one of them by passers by and were spat upon.  People would look at me and my kids and shake their heads.  We ran a feeding program. Brought a big pot of soup and bread into the park and shared it with whoever was hungry. We went out onto the streets and invited the street kids into our home for a shower, a meal, a chat, a song, a conversation, a cuddle. We even shared some of their diseases. But we were still separated by the fact that we had a bed under a roof in a house where we paid rent. Granted it was just a couple of mattresses we strapped to the wall with a safety belt during the day so the kids had a place to play. We also shared the flat with 7 others. It was still something that set us apart. We sat on the streets during the day and went back to sleep under a roof. We were looking in from comfortable lives.

Now, we are counted with the poor.

We are downwardly mobile.

We live in a truck.

We are global nomads.

We are travellers.

This brings about certain problems. My kids don’t need a toilet to go pee. They all prefer to find a nice, private “shrubbery” to pee on. This is fine in Morocco. This is not fine in the United Kingdom. They eat lots of weird food but they are beginning to shun private plates and utensils. What does this mean? Well, for one thing we are having more and more difficulties hanging with the middle classes the more we hang with the poor. Not as someone who goes back to their apartment after but sleep side by side with the poor. It is out of choice, we are counted as poor. But what about our kids. For those that have eyes to see our kids stick out from the norm with their acts of generosity and inclusion. However, their inability and seeming ambivalence to typical social games can make them appear immature and weird. They are flexible and independent but Andrew and I get to bear the judgement of being bad parents when we give our kids freedom and responsibility and a voice that is alien to most kids.

We are counted with the poor. Are we doing the right thing? Are we being fair to our kids? As adults Andrew and I have a choice but are we plunging our kids into a strange existence and outlook on the world that can marginalize them. I am so proud of my kids and young adults (to see the joy and the pain look at Sam’s last 2 blog entries on his diary entry and coming home ). I really dont know how to raise kids differently. Are they going to get beaten up in a world that may never understand them? They are being counted with the poor and the marginalized.  I don’t know if I feel like a good parent right now.

We are counted with the poor. We are becoming less and less able to fit in to Western middle class. We share the shame.

We are counted with the poor. What are we learning? 
Inclusion and acceptance,


sacrificial generosity,


flexibility,

creativity.

How to love and forgive complete strangers.


How not to judge.


How not to let anger take over when we feel injustice.

Shanti, shanti, shanti. Peace, peace, peace. Hope.

 

Categories
Germany

Piercing and Pizza

Just been to Freakstock Festival again. We aren’t too sure how many times we have been yet. There is some discrepancy with the family historians. Dad says 7 times. Abi says 9 times. I say ALOT OF TIMES. Back at the Coptic Monastary/military base.

Lots of people!!!

Lots of really cool trucks and creative people in them.

Lots of tea and tea and tea.
Lots of friends – both new and old.

Lots of pizza. What was great about this pizza party is that Abi took over. I guess me and Andrew were being a bit too slow and she took over, then trained up a team of young people and they did it all. Young Jan (red shorts) won the hearts of every woman there as he served out the pizza with a beaming smile.

I also got further piercing coaching from my teacher and did my first 2 piercings. My teacher said he was happy with me and says I just need more practice.

One thing that occured to us is that going to the festivals has become alot easier. It used to be difficult because of the portaloos, cold showers, constant noise and camping in a field with so many others. This time we realized that it seems so much easier because our lives have changed so much. It is now easy because of the nearby toilets, regular showers,  the noise doesn’t bother us and we can sit out in a field with lots of friends and nobody is going to ask us to move on or complain about how strange we are. Maybe it is as my dad said – everything is relative.

Categories
Germany

The Insanity of Artists

Hanging out in a castle last nite. A real live castle outside of Dresden. The castle is a collection of about 6 buildings and grounds in a complex in which the other half contains a Denny’s wannabee pub, a suburban like ice cream parlor and farmer’s market shop that makes the perfectly predictable and safe day outing for the family from the big city or suburbia that suburbanites around the globe would be perfectly at home in. Need help visualizing it? Think parking lot full of clean, new, shiny sedans, randomly placed farming equipment, new furniture that has been intentionally distressed to look old and peach, the colour peach that rears its ugly head out from the 80’s when you least expect it.

Hanging out at the “Denny’s Wannabe” we feared the worst on the other half of the grounds.  We were pleasantly suprised. We found normal people and normal living. Well, normal for us. In the public area we found ornate ceilings, peach sheets and a bit of “Tammy Faye” with the black and gold toilets. Beyond the public areas we found families hammering together random bits of wood to create important objects like helicopters and boxes and boats. mismatched patio furniture in the back, randomly placed mattresses and plastic cars in the hallway. Real people with long hair and mismatched clothes. One look and we saw that they were “our tribe”. We should have known. Not let the Denny’s scare us. So many of our friends have been telling us we need to come here. Friends that are not impressed with fancy buildings but by real people, by people living out the free, yet sometimes insane, life of an artist.

We talked late into the night echoing each others thoughts and finding more and more people we both knew and loved. Thoughts about art being a language that transcends the boundaries of mere words. So many words have lost their meaning through misuse that art is becoming a more efficient way of communicating truth. This is because art, many times, has a mind of its own. It will communicate more deeply and with greater truth than even the artist intends.

The conversation started my mind spinning.

If art is a language then what makes an artist?

Earlier this year I spoke with the father of 4 musicians who I considered very talented. “It isn’t about talent”, he said, “They practice hours each day”. I spoke with a potter as well. “What makes a great potter?” he asked, “The sheer quantity of clay that goes through the fingertips”. How many artists have echoed the words, “talent is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration” or “2% inspiration and 98% perspiration”. One of my favourite songwriters once said, “The songs are up there, the question is do I have the courage to pull them down”.

If perspiration and courage are factors then what makes an artist?

Many of the most “talented” artists are broken. A bad childhood, mispent youth, illness or abuse shadows many artists. I refuse to put brokeness in as a requirement to being an artist. Maybe brokeness is just one path to what is needed.

I have a theory. You know how I love my bizarre theories. Maybe what makes an aritst is freedom. If it is a language then we all have it in us somewhere. The difference is that through need or strength or perceived insanity some of us rebel against what is considered “acceptable” and declare ourselves imancipated. We refuse the boundaries and what is deemed normal and permisable. All too often we must be broken to rebel to this level. To daily throw off the cages of “the good life”. To not care is we create something that is “pretty” but  to declare truth in ourselves and the world, as we perceive it. The better we do this the greater our reputation of “insanity” while living and “brilliance” long after we are dead. To create art is to expose our souls for all to see. Not caring, if only for a moment, about whether it is understood, accepted or rejected. It is an insane undertaking.

Am I taking this too far.

How about spirituality? The trappings, institutions and rules of religion remain long after spirituality has left the building. Is becoming more spiritual, intertwined with rebellion and freedom from acceptable norms of conduct and thought.

Are the two related?

At Freakstock now. Andrew seriously contemplating getting a mullet….. again. Drinking lots of tea with old and new friends.

Categories
Food

Rainsticks and Food

Over the weekend Alana’s family brought her back after getting her visa renewed. They also brought Steff with them. We had a great weekend together.  We were 19 all together. Lots of cooking and talking and laughing. We had some great food together. Of course, the Hurst family came laden with all sorts of good food including a banana cake, homemade bread and pasta. Once again, the Hurst family loving great food almost as much as sharing it. Abigail made some great puddings for Sunday (Wacky cake and a Portuguese Cookie cake). The cookie cake tasted great but didnt hold its shape too well – we’ll need to try that one again. Apparently it is the first cake that young portuguese girls learn to make …. hmmmm. Of course, we also had “Paulo’s Drunken Chicken”. Andrew was quite proud of his chicken and the fact that he could cook 4 chickens at the same time. Portuguese chicken is so great. They arent nearly as big as other countries but the taste of those little yellow flesh chickens, mmmmm. Anyways, when they left they took Peter (from Germany) with them. We have had such a good time with Peter. Peter, our multi-talented friend.

 

While gathering sticks for making Didgeridoos he found a smaller stick and used it to teach Lizzy how to make a rainstick. He taught “circular breathing” to Sam and Donald so they could play didgeridoo.

He had an impressive collection of Freakstock wristbands. He went up to Lisbon with the Hursts and then will go up to Porto to Paulo’s other tattoo parlor.

We will miss Peter and his gentle heart, wise words and good teaching and and and.

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