Oregon Country Fair!

For the past two years Anthony has had the privilege of working on the recycling crew at the Oregon Country Fair, and this will be the first year I will get to join him.

“Getting” to work a volunteer position that routinely means lifting barrels of waste onto the back of a truck, climbing on rusty cylinders and (as it did last weekend) dumping out foul-smelling food remnants into a pile of slimy goo may not seem like a privilege to most people. But idle hands are the devil’s play-thing, and apart from that working hard for a few hours a day means we’ll have the sort of experience at a fair that only those back stage can have. Twenty-four hour access, camping for a week, hanging out with a downright muppety group of hippies, outlaws, refugees and pirates. Good stuff for an illustrator.

So far I’ve only been privy to “pre-Fair”, and even that has been a treat. The OCF has been going on for forty-two years, and we live in an area where severe weather is rare, so most of the booths are permanent (or semi-permanent) structures built out of scrap timber; as aged and weathered as the trees themselves. It reminds me of my elementary school’s playground, which was made of logs bolted together to make climbable pyramids and balance beams. Before the OCF booth-ers arrive to set up shop the forest appears to host some sort of elven ghost town. Empty scaffolding, stairs, and lofts hint deliciously at what was (and will be) there come next week. So many wonderful lines.

When I was last there I didn’t have time to sit with my drawing board, but I hope to this coming weekend. I am wrapping myself up in a tight curl, pushing out the very, very last pictures for the big Cyborg Anthropology book, and I hope to be finished by the time we leave for the week. I think the fair would be a wonderful pallet cleanser.

Updates on the community garden plot

This is a really trippy cell-phone-picture-collage of what my garden plot looks like right now. I regret that I didn’t take a “before” picture, because it was pretty grim. It was basically the inspiration for this:

Still MILES better than what it was when we first started last year — that was a lot of long term neglect, not new weed seedlings like this all was — but still a lot to work on. 

It’s hard for me to remember to build neat little narratives from things I see in real life sometimes, particularly when things get intense — action, not reflection, becomes the order of the day. It’s the 400 yard dash to the deadline here at Chez Kumquat, but nobody told the garden manager. Yesterday there was an email sent to everyone to say: remember, June 1st is the deadline to have your plot worked and weeded and mulched.

Community gardening is very popular here, particularly in my neighborhood where everyone is keen to make a go of it. There is at present something like a five year waiting period to get into the garden I’m in, and so they are really trying to crack down on those who don’t really work their plots much. For the next few days (and indeed for the rest of the summer) they will be monitoring the plots closely for lack of activity. Those who are clearly not putting in their 3-4 hours a week to keep things maintained will be given a five day shape-up-or-ship-out warning. Then all will be chopped up and reassigned. 

It seems severe but there are some serious jungles in some of the plots right now. (MUCH more so than what mine was.) And it has contributed to the increase of invasive weeds and pest buildup and other bad things. 

We are no where near this category of slackers but when you can’t remember the last time you worked in the plot (it’d been weeks, certainly) and you get an email like this is really turns your skin. But fate stepped in and canceled my afternoon house yesterday, so I spent the time I would have been there in my rain jacket and mud getting things tip-top. The result is very satisfying. Onions are finally separated out and ready to grow, all greens look gorgeous (in fact, need some harvesting,) blueberries are heavy and waiting for the sun. Compost worked into the soil. All we need now are seeds and starts and we are in business.