If you are here for the next installment in the flu posts, that will be next week. I have to take care of some local business first.
We had so much fun at the Winter open house that we decided to set a date for a Spring open house. I haven’t done much to circulate that event, because I’ve been preoccupied getting ready for the second set of street medic trainings which start on Saturday.
I thought about changing the name of this gathering because the modern definition of “open house” meaning has shifted away from its historical meaning , but I am pretty stuck on this term and I am going to tell you why.
One of my favorite Irish healers was Biddy Early who was known for keeping an “open house” and often hosting the community cuaird. The cuaird was basically a house party for commoners who didn’t have their days off for socializing during fancy afternoon tea parties.
The host literally left their kitchen door open and set chairs by the fire. Neighbors would walk in, take a spot by the fire, and they would spend the evening making music, dancing, sharing stories in their native Gaelic, drinking a bit, and engaging in revolutionary political rhetoric. These open house parties contributed to the preservation of the Irish culture and language, during a time when English colonizers were trying really fucking hard to stomp it out.
Biddy Early was a special kind of healer called a ritual healing specialist, but she was also a bit of an activist. She never took a bit of money for her cures, but traded for poteen and food which she then shared with others through good old-fashioned hospitality.
It was said that she never turned away a tired traveller and many a passer-by was offered a jug, some food, and a seat in front of her warm fire. It was a fairly nifty way of avoiding taxation and redistributing the wealth. She was also known for taking on landlords and law officials during a time when the wealthy colonizers were bearing down on the poor.
So anyway a 17th century Irish activist is my inspiration for my open houses and kind of my life, really. But don’t call me biddy. That’s got turned into a slur used against Irish immigrants. I don’t love it.
I have taken the concept a bit further by setting it up as a bartering event.
To participate as a “vendor” the only rule is that you must be primarily prepared for bartering. I sent someone home one year who came with a “cash only” sign. That’s just not how this one works. I also make sure that everyone who performs walks away with something from me and think I am going to make it a rule that every vendor has to do that.
We had a lot of fun in December. I don’t think that much cash was exchanged but we all walked out with nice piles for holiday gift-giving. Plant babies were very popular trade items. I got two coleus. It’s open to anyone who has a good or service to negotiate with. In the past we have had:
If you are one of those people blessed with more money than time, you can absolutely come buy things and stick a little cash in the performer’s tip jar. My daughters know a lot of really talented people and there was some beautiful art at the last open house. They surprised me by buying me one of the paintings I really liked.
If you aren’t in to any of this. I set up the bar with mixers and my bitters blends for a BYOB cocktail party. Bring a bottle if you can afford it, throw some darts, and maybe engage in a little revolutionary political rhetoric.
And who are we kidding, Steve will feed us because that’s what Steve does.