Posted May 28th, 2007

This past weekend was our second annual artist retreat. On Friday night, Murray Wilson treated us to a musical workshop, playing us recordings that he had taken of local music from years past. On Saturday, Xakkula started things off with a drum workshop, where he taught some basic drum techniques as well as how to re-head a drum. One of our staff members, Nikki, followed him up with a mosaic workshop, where she instructed our guests on mosaic techniques, and they were then able to turn old wine bottles into new pieces of art. Another staff member, Mikey, lead the next workshop. He showed us that anyone can be a poet. After dinner, a hilarious play was put on, one which consisted of nine short pieces. The Hostel team, as well as several of the guests, put on quite a show that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Sunday started early with a candle-making workshop by Christopher Collard (aka Woodchip). Woodchip educated us on different types of candles, wax, wicks, and the engineering and art behind candle making. Those attending the workshop were then able to make two different candles, one in a jar and another which was molded in their hands to make unique and beautiful shapes. Amanda Szabo lead the net workshop, on how color and art influence the way that we feel. Everyone made their own pieces of art, then went around and discussed their meaning, in a truly opening experience. Next was a workshop entitled “From Gravel to Jewels,” where Bergere Stevenson shared his love of rock carving with us. He showed us some special stones that he had collected, and then allowed us to make our own sandstone sculptures. Finally, an open mic was held around our makeshift candle-fire, a nice way to end the weekend’s events. The open mic was started with a solo singing performance by a young boy named Eli Wolf, who sang beautifully for all of us.

Finally, one last, unexpected workshop happened on Monday. Two of our staff, Nikki and Jeremy, recently purchased a new Volkswagen. This weekend Murray, Jeremy, and Nikki successfully converted the car to run on waste vegetable oil, and then led an impromptu workshop on veggie oil conversions.

We’re also very happy to report that the pool is done! After an intensive cleaning and repair, the pool has finally been refilled and is open for use! We broke it in this weekend with a late-night pool party, and we’re very glad to have it back (as are the hostel frogs).

And finally, this coming Friday, four of our staff are leaving the Hostel. Nikki Vandergriff, Jeremy Wilson, Mikey Tietz, and Joey Brandt are all leaving at the end of this week to go off traveling. These folks have been part of the Hostel family for a long time, and we are sorry to see them leaving. The four of them have been integral to all the growth that the Hostel has had in the past few years. It is impossible to say how much they have done for the Hostel, and equally impossible to describe how much they will be missed. As sad as we are to see them leave though, we look forward to hearing of their coming adventures, and look forward to seeing what the incoming staff will add to this place!

And that’s it for now,

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff

Hostel Greetings

Posted May 21st, 2007

As usual, it has been a busy and productive few weeks here. Spring-speaking, the Hostel continues to bloom. The caladium bulbs planted by our guests have started to come up, as well as the ones from the previous year. The flower beds around Miss Louis’s porch were gifted with some beautiful Bromeliad plants by Kristen Bowman, a guest traveling up from Jacksonville, Florida. We continue to enjoy the harvest from the vegetable garden. Zucchini and onions flowing in as fast as we can eat them, and sugarcane is coming up around the lake!

The fermentation workshop that some of our staff attended, went well, and we hope that the knowledge we gained can be passed on to our guests. The kitchen has had a revival in Kim Chi creation, and was able to ferment some yogurt using the milk from our own Hostel goats.

This week has also seen the annual pool cleanup. Each year around this time, our swimming pool is drained and cleaned, allowing it to be fresh and clean for the summer without having to treat our water with any chemicals. Due to the drought that we are experiencing, the pool’s water level was very low and the pool itself was in need of quite a bit of maintenance this year. The staff here drained the old pool water into the pond (saving as many fish as possible!), patched the cracks with mortar, and then painted several layers of sealant on the walls. It’s been a long, gritty process, but we’re almost done, and look forward to enjoying the refreshing swims of the summer to come.

Finally, an old Hostel family member returned and helped us out. Poppy came down for a few days, and helped us out with some beautiful construction projects. He also took some of our excess chickens back with him to Asheville. Thanks to him and everyone else that has helped make this place shine recently!

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff

Hostel Planting

Posted May 9th, 2007

This last week at the Hostel was one of planting, both in and out of the gardens. The vegetable garden is doing well, with our first harvests of onions and garlic picked and drying. Our corn is growing as tall as we are, and the zucchini are starting to produce. Around the lake, the expansion of the orchard continues, with the planting of four new trees, including a pecan tree!. The flower gardens are blooming nicely, and new flowers have been planted in pots around the domes as well. Due to the efforts of some of our wonderful guests, one hundred caladium bulbs were planted along the main path. To help usher in all of this new plant growth, late Saturday night, the Hostel received some much needed rain. After weeks of dry weather, the forest and forest dwellers alike rejoiced at the showers. Thanks to everyone’s prayers that made this possible! Keep us in your thoughts and prayers, because we still need much more.

This week, several of our staff will be headed off to attend a workshop in Ashville, North Carolina. The workshop is on the topic of fermentation, a food preparation process which we employ a lot here at the hostel. The workshop is hosted by Sandor Katz, author of the book “Wild Fermentation.” We hope to bring some of his knowledge back to the hostel to share.

In addition, we were once again gifted with wonderful guests. Nikki’s folks came in from Dallas, Texas, and treated us all to a low-country boil dinner. Alava Richcreek, an old Hostel friend, came up from Jacksonville and cooked us a delicious Italian diner. Woodchip graced us with another one of his wonderful campfire candles (very useful when all of Georgia is on a fire ban). Thanks to them, and all of our other wonderful guests, that help us keep this place going! Until next time,

That is it for now Hostelers,

May The Forest Be With You…

The Hostel Staff