Tag Archives: festivals

Time to Recenter

yin-yang-symbol-4-1101202-mI imagine that many of you don’t think about me as much as I do. As a result, you probably didn’t realize that I have just spent three days sitting on a tarp in the middle of a park watching hour upon hour of truly wonderful music. Yes, it’s that time again and I spent the better part of the week-end at the Edmonton Folk Fest. If you’ve never been you can get ready for it by reading my primer on all things folk (parts one, two and three) and put it in your calendar for next year. Trust me, it will be worth the wait and while you’re here you can visit our other major attraction, the almost largest mall in the world. So plan on it. In the meantime let me help you understand the profound effect this event has on someone like me. And why this week you won’t be hearing much about being shallow.

This year the folk fest celebrated its 34th year of bringing the best music in the world to this little town of mine. Over four days the hills of our river valley are transformed into a city within a city, one with no worries, no crime, and a whole lot of organic food. There are 25,000 people on the hill, all of whom have clearly prepared for this event by raiding their own, or their parents’ closets for something, anything really, that was fashionable sometime around 1968. Or made of hemp. Perhaps organic cotton. And rather ill-fitting. There’s dancing and singing and lots of arm waving to the beats of the music. Or not. It’s a collage of hipsters and hippies, Mothers with babes in their arms, men and women sharing the stories of their lives on their tattooed bodies, Grandmas and Grandpas remembering what it was like to be young. Everyone seems happy, like there is no place else in the world they would rather be. And therein lies the problem for me.

You see, it’s tough to be shallow on the hill given the cacophony of not so shallow phenomenon that confronts me at just about every turn. Saturday morning as I walk past the pre-festival yoga class I can almost feel the chakras swirling onto the path in front of me.  A short while later my eye catches the rather trendy, handmade purses crafted from recycled tires hanging beside the “enviroresin” jewelry over at the merch tents. Before I know it my bff Kev (you remember “the Kev”) let’s me know that the song he just heard brought a tear to his eye. Who would of thought!  Then there’s the guy in the skirt on the tarp in front of me which imho, is a smidgen too tight and leaves me with questions about what he wears to his regular job.  And as if all of this is not enough to rock my boat, topple my house of cards, towards the end of the evening I find myself face to face with the woman beside me who, when the MC encourages everyone to “hug the person on your left” took him at his word.  And there I was, on her left. With nightfall comes the stars, the candles, the swaying, and the sing along with Canadian icon Bruce Cockburn who implores us to save the lions and pretty much everything else in the world. It’s all just a bit overwhelming.

And so it is that after three days of hangin’ with the folks, I find myself a little off balance. Which is why, with all due respect to the yoga people, I’m going to take some time to reconnect with my inner self, or as they might say, recenter. But please don’t worry. With a little luck, I’ll be feeling better in no time at all.

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Happy Anniversary to Me

cupcake_lightYou’ve probably been wondering what happened to me over these past few days since I’m a bit tardy getting to this post. Well, I’ve been celebrating a little of late and, if I must admit, feeling just a bit smug. I know it’s hard to believe but this week marks one year since I started the shallow blog, and I’m still here. As I recall, it was early on in this endeavor that I mentioned that, as a shallow person, I don’t have a stellar record when it comes to sticking things out. So it is somewhat remarkable, even to me, that I have been diligent enough to write this blog each and every week for a whole year. Ok, if I have to be totally honest, this is post number 51 (really, is anyone perfect?) which nonetheless is pretty indicative of my commitment to the cause. As you can only imagine, it’s a rather important milestone for me and I have struggled to find the right words for the occasion. At the six month mark I shared with you the progress that the blog had made and promised to update you on that at the end of the year. You know I’m a woman of my word but a cursory look at the current stats made me reconsider my earlier pledge as really, at 32 followers, 2,653 views and 150 comments there’s not that much to write about. Not to mention that there have been no t-shirts or mugs sold.

So I have to admit that it has taken an extraordinary amount of thinking on my part to come up with just the right topic for this auspicious event but I think I have finally figured out the “right thing to do”. Now here’s a little secret I haven’t shared with you to date. Most of my revelations about what to write for the blog come to me while I am in the shower (TMI?). I can’t really be sure, and this is not a proven scientific fact, but I’m guessing it has something to do with the water pounding on my head stimulating my brain. But that’s not what happened this time. No, this time I was sitting on a bench, waiting for the train that would get me to work and since I had just missed one I had a whole 9 minutes to kill. At first I was kicking myself for forgetting to bring a book but as I sat down on the cold, steel bench (which may also have had an effect albeit on a different part of my body) it occurred to me that I could use this time to think about the blog. And that’s when it hit me.

Something else you may not know about me is that I have spent a good deal of my life to date studying how adults learn and, as an educator of adults I know that reflection is a really important part of the learning process. So my first inclination was to help you to reflect by looking back at the blog for the whole year and sharing with you what you have learned about me and about being shallow. And then I thought “why not take this chance to do a little reflecting myself?” because the other thing I remembered about what I learned in school was the importance of self-reflection and what better time to do that than on an anniversary such as this one. Unlike New Year’s Eve, there’s no expectations around making resolutions or promises for a better year or anything like that. Rather reflection is an introspective process through which I may or may not decide to change and, in any case, whether I do or not will only be known to me as I’m not about to share that information with anyone else. So without further ado, and with deference and apologies to my hero, Mr. D. Letterman, (yes, shallow people have heroes too) I present to you the “top ten thingswe have learned about me over the past year.

  1. I’m ok with constantly being told I look like Babs and it doesn’t bother me much that I can’t sing like her. What really irks me is not having her money.
  2. I like small foreign cars. I sometimes drive them too fast. I always get caught. Maybe next time I should just settle for the Impala.
  3. When it comes to being shallow I have no problem making the grade. Not sure I’m going to be able to say the same about my course at Harvard.
  4. I’m an avid Folk Fest “goer” even though I don’t own any zip-offs or tie-dye; consider my flat iron to be my most valuable possession; and devoted three days of the blog to mocking (in my own way) this kumbaya event. Now that I’m thinking about it, perhaps I should give it a pass this year and save the 179 bucks.
  5. I don’t like lists so I have no resolutions and my bucket is empty. No matter, I still really want to to win the lottery.
  6. Shallow people get sad too although it would appear, never for more than a week at a time. Apparently we bleed just like everyone else but our skin may be a little thicker.
  7. I travel a lot for business and pleasure and I am pleased to have been able to substitute chit chat” for that “little white pill. I’m guessing there are a lot of people who probably wish I hadn’t.
  8. I refer to my Mother a lot. Come on people! She’s 97 years old! Just how shallow do you think I am?
  9. As much as I like Mr. Letterman I’m not as hooked on the number 10 as he is.

Well that’s it in a nutshell. I’ve paid my 18 bucks so I’m in for another round. Makes me think I just might have to change my mantra to “one year at a time.”

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Folk Fest Revisited (and a little “something for you” to boot)

I know, I know! There’s been a lull. You’re wondering where I have been. Last you knew I was making my yearly pilgrimage to the Folk Fest and next thing you know I have all but disappeared. Perhaps you’re thinking that after all those days and nights sitting on the hill under the stars, dancing and singing along to sometimes meaningful songs, eating primarily healthy food for four days and communing with my new “not on Facebook” friends, that I had abandoned my shallow ways.  Maybe while sitting in the shadow of downtown Edmonton, which from this very unique vantage point has buildings that appear almost doll-like, carefully placed one by one in an effort to create the quintessential city sky-scape, I might have turned over a new leaf and started to think about writing something a tad more profound. Nope, nothing of the sort. I will admit to feeling a small lump in my throat listening to Nathan Roger’s rendition of his Father’s immortal “North West Passage” but that’s the only concession I’m prepared to make. Last time I looked, I’m as shallow as ever. So why the delay?

To tell the truth the Folk Fest wears me out. Four days of rising early to get a prime tarp placement, standing in line for just about everything and trekking around a site that in colder climes is a ski hill, makes me tired. So as much as I wanted to get this “wrap-up” wrapped up, I just couldn’t do it primarily because each time I sat down in my favourite chair to write, I fell asleep. Oh yeah, and I had to get the pictures developed. (Just kidding…I know you don’t have to develop digital pictures). You see, while at the “fest” it occurred to me that there may have been some doubt as to the accuracy of my previously posted “Shallow Guide”, some question as to my use of literary exaggeration to make a point, and that it would serve me well to obtain enough evidence to convince my readers that there are no fictional accounts on this blog. Unfortunately I didn’t think about this until the third day so I did the best I could, with a little help from my friends (thanks to Marsha, Wade, Nicole and “the Kev”), in the limited time that remained. And rather than bore you with thousands of words, I thought for this post I would let the pics do most of the talking.

And then it came to me. Why not take this opportunity to engage my readership (that’s you) in a little interactivity, as we like to call it in the education biz. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to fill you in on the first few pictures and then you can do the rest of the work. In the final collage of pictures you will find evidence of all that I spoke about in the “guides” and all you have to do is figure out what’s what.

I’m not going to call this a “contest” lest there be some government regulation legally preventing me from doing so but there are prizes to be had, probably from the dollar store and likely made in China. In fact, there are two prizes; one for the first, most accurate answers and one for the funniest answers, the latter being subject to my own judgmental self. You can post your answers in the comments or send them to me privately, if you know my email address. Whatever you decide, at some point, if I don’t already know who you are, you’re going to have to come clean so I can send you your prize. If you are not already a follower on this blog, seems to me this might be a good time to start.

So let’s get to it.

As I suspected, the guys and gals were sporting their “Toms“.

Lots of "Toms"

And their funky Tees:

Funky Tees

They were hoppin’, boppin’ , glowin’  and holding candles to the wind:

Folk Fest crowd scenes

And fortunately for all of us, these guys weren’t sitting in this chair:

 Here’s where the fun begins! Now it’s your turn. Just match the pic to that valuable information contained in the “Guides” (one, two and three) and you’re in.

Various Folk Fest pics

How about we make Friday, August 24th the deadline just so this thing doesn’t go on for too long.  That will also give me time to figure out what to write about next.  Did I mention there is no fiction on this blog?

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A Shallow Person’s Guide to the Folk Fest (Part 3 of 3)

What to Wear

It appears that I am not the only one who understands that thought must be put into acquiring an appropriate couture for this event. On my usual Saturday stop at the local Starbucks, I happened to pick up the most recent issue of “Avenue” magazine only to discover a full-page spread on what to wear to the Folk Fest. My first thought was what a lovely coincidence and a wonderful way for me to save some time writing the blog. Unfortunately, a quick tally of their suggested duds clocks in at around $1450.00 for the gals and just over a “C” note for you fellas. I’m pretty sure this mission can be accomplished for less, so here are some more frugal ways to make your fashion statement.

The “Zip-Off pant”: Time to forage to the back of your closet to find those zip-off pants you bought for your impending trip to Machu Picchu…you know, the one you have on your bucket list. This is the perfect event for those and no one will ever know you haven’t made the trip. Couple of things here. Make sure you remove all of the tags (sometimes they hide them in the oddest places) and, if you can, go for a trail walk before the big day just to make them look a little less pristine. After all, you don’t want anyone to think you went out and bought something special for the fest. But the real benefit you will accrue from wearing this undeniably fashionable garb is that you won’t have to use the bathroom (honestly, that’s what they call those things) to change from shorts to long pants in the cool of the evening. Trust me, that is worth more than you know.

The Skinny Jean: Please note: The above suggestion is for folks of my era. Here to help my younger readers avoid a fashion faux-pas, is guest blogger Wader (you’ve seen his comments on the blog.) This year coloured skinny denim is in, in a very big way for both men and women. As this is folk fest you’ll need to jazz up the off the shelf pair in one or more ways. Try getting a jiffy marker (washable if you intend on wearing these in the outside world) and writing political messages on the thighs (note: you’re preaching to the choir, but it’ll still feel good). Roll or cuff the pants until your calves are so constricted they begin to turn light blue. If this doesn’t happen then your pants aren’t skinny enough! Wear a belt if you must but ensure it has been made by a local artisan out of ethically obtained vegan leather (even that confuses me, but go with it). Finally, you can preserve the integrity – structural or otherwise – of your pants for future use by adorning them with buttons. Recommended causes include the pro-choice movement, the NDP, bands/artists that aren’t performing, bands that are terribly obscure (eg. Brady Bunch Lawnmower Massacre, Freud Chicken, Pope John Paul Quartet with Friends, etc.), a particularly unique “pride” symbol (the rainbow Star of David works here), ironic sayings (eg. “I’m only here for the hotdogs” or “I heart hula”), the CKUA logo (CBC will work if you don’t live in Alberta), or pretty much anything that would annoy someone like Sarah Palin.

The Shoes: Take off those Birks ‘cause while they might look great with your “zip-offs” you’re going to have to stop and ask yourself what good they are doing for the third world. No my friends, without a doubt, the one and only choice to cover your feet at this year’s fest are “Toms”. For those of you who still think this is simply a short form of a guys name, it’s time to get yourself down to your local shoe boutique for an update. The “buy one, give one” mantra has taken the world by storm and if you don’t know it yet, you will by the end of the first day. “Toms” are funny though, not really comfortable, not really well-made and relatively expensive for what you get. Doesn’t matter, you’re helping to provide shoes for a child in Africa (although not very comfortable or well-made) so on they go. (I know this all sounds a little irreverent so I should disclose here that I am currently rockin’ my fourth pair of “Toms” and you have some serious catching up to do.) Your immediate problem is that you have to buy “Toms” a size too small because they stretch out so much over time. Given we are now so close to the start line and you won’t have time to break them in, your feet are going to hurt for the first day or two. Better get over it because form really is more important than function and looking cool and benevolent at the same time should be all the motivation you need to tough this one out.

Something on Top: Tie-dye works. So does anything “flowy”, madras, or that looks like you made it from fabric you picked up at the market on your last trip to India. Tees that have been reconstructed in some unusual way. Denim shirts and jackets, but the latter really ought to be vintage Levi or you’re not fooling anyone. Tees from concerts you (or someone you know) have attended, preferably before 1980. Could be time for a trip to Value Village, or your parents’ closet. Tees with sayings (lean to the left on this one, see the “skinny jeans” segment). If you’re really adventurous you may want to join the “Free Hugs” t-shirt gang. Just remember that it gets hot, people get sweaty and they will take you up on your offer. I’ll leave that decision to you. Avoid anything with a logo, collar or “polo” as a descriptor. I’m not sure this is explicitly stated in the rule book but the peer pressure alone will make you want to go home and change.

The Hair: Put away all those hair products and appliances you use. These are the four days of the year when your hair gets a chance to breathe and make an appearance in its natural state. This one is particularly hard for me but, from what I can see, not for many other people. Bonus: You get a chance to remember what your hair really looks like and you will no longer regret all of the time and money you spend making it not look that way. Guys, if there is a way you can coax whatever hair you have left into a ponytail, do it. This advice may have come too late for this year’s fest but you’ll want to keep it in mind for next summer. I’d go out on a limb (I do that sometimes) and say make-up is optional but given the aging demographic of the “party-goers” it might not be. Something tasteful in face-painting might be a good compromise here.

Rain Gear: I’m not as familiar as I should be with this category but for those of you who decide that a little water falling from the sky only makes the day more fun, you’re going to want some protection. We’re not talking little umbrellas and trench coats here but rather industrial style, head to toe cover-ups in various shades of yellow. Fortunately there are many “made in Canada” options in this category and I strongly suggest this as a first choice. They are a little expensive but you’ll be able to put them to good use the next time you go out to sea. That’s about all of the advice I can give on this one because, well I just go home at the first hint of inclement weather.

That’s about it. I know this has been much longer and more involved than usual but these type of get togethers are so just so compelling for a shallow person. And while this advice may seem to be rather specific to our locale I am pretty sure that much of it is transferable to other events of this ilk. And now I must take some of my own advice and get ready to go. If only I could remember where I put my zip-offs.

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