Friday, March 31, 2006

You Know It's Spring at Amber Fox . . .

When the rhubarb begins to sprout.

The temperature hits 22 C.

And frosty drinks are being served on the lawn.

Today at Amber Fox

Slitering past the well . . .

A snake in the grass.


Common Nonsense and Uncommon Sense

by HowieSue Isharoonie

You know, and I’m sure you do, I could just go on and on about my dating woes, and I no doubt will . . . at length.

But if there really is a Big Foot roaming around Amber Fox right now, I am like, just SO JEALOUS!

It's an open secret that I'm partial to BIG & HAIRY guys.

A Sasquatch at the Eastre Gatherette! I'm salivating just thinking about the possibilities . . .

But enough about me and my dating woes. All this talk of a Big Foot reminds me of Silver Lining, lightning strike survivour and faerie poet extraordinaire.

We all know

From Faeries of old,
The key to the meat,
Is the size of the feet.
-- Silver Lining

a lightning strike victim

But enough about me and the fact that I’m partial to BIG & HAIRY guys.

Here’s the real reason why all the BIG & HAIRY sasquatches are so scarce and hard to find:

Signing out,
This is HowieSue Isharoonie
with “Common Nonsense and Uncommon Sense”

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Amber Alert

Amber Fox provides this free blog space for the following important Public Service Announcement . . .

Brought to you on behalf of the BigFoot Field Researchers Organization.

"Warning: Sasquatch may have been sighted in your area.

Lanark County, Ontario on Sasquatch Watch."

Did you know that according to the BFRO there have been 27 confirmed sightings in Ontario since 2003?

In one of the more chilling accounts of an encounter with a Sasquatch comes this harrowing eyewitness Class A report (as confirmed by the BFRO): "A tall, hairy, and ugly eight foot sasquatch got spotted after scaring my dogs. I got into the forest just beyond the corn and my dogs came running back, whimpering."

Sightings may have been reported in Lanark County, Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario.

"This is unreal. I have never heard of sasquatches in the area before now and I guess it's true, just cause I haven't seen it doesn't mean it's not there."
Phyllis, owner, The Hill General Store, McDonald's Corners, Ontario,

Have you seen a Sasquatch?

Contact BFRO immediately!
Complete a "Bigfoot/Sasquatch Sighting Report Form"

"Humans have to be present for an observation to occur. Where there are no humans, there are no sightings, but there might be just as many bigfoots."
-- BFRO website

Boy Ricky on the land

Arrival on the land has certainly been interesting. I keep running into all these Amber Fox OFFICIALS and SCATOLOGISTS. I can not say for sure, me being a faerie light, but Harry Hay's spirit may be here to bear down on the land's recent, strange, and until now seemingly unexplainable scatties.

The land is certainly alive sending forth energy to those near by. I felt that as we drove in the drive. Of course I was not really expecting to need the enrgy to pump water for the use of all those recent visiting officials.

Later that night I was cleaning up, washing my face, sponge bath, looking out the tower kitchen window, seeing my face reflected back at me, a slow grin crept across the boy. All alone at this time, the fire snuggly, the radio belting out "Rocket Ship" - the Lil Einstein theme. It looked like sasquatch. It was quick, then he was gone, just like that.

It's too much, I try to ignore the sasquatch stuff. Too Scary anyway. Still, you have to be ready for the unexpected here at Amber Fox. Luckily the unexpected usually ends up being a beautiful thing, soothing, fun, or just plan crazy.

Others you see are dealing with the Sasquatch, I help where I can or am expected to. The Maple Syrup is much more to my likeing. It is truly amazing, to be doing this. A boy from BC, here in Maple Syrup country, tapping trees, collecting the sweet water, and then boiling it down to awesome amber colour.

How many people in this part of the country have yet to sink a tap into a maple tree, to collect the sweet water from this incredible tree? Accepting such a gift from the land, I suspect I am one of the lucky ones.
I bet there are millions of people living here in this place that have seen a maple tree, have touched it even, yet how many have accepted its gift?

The snow is almost gone now, snakes, birds, deer, the Canada geese, the squirrels, chipmunks and, yes, the flies are alive, making the most of this awkening place. Apple trees are begining to bud, rhubarb is sticking out of the earth, flowering bulbs at the erection are beginning to stir.

The air is fresh, it's quiet, it's pretty nice really. Chores outside seem more like play. Collecting fire wood, projects here and there. Have to go for now, the sun is shining, I have been here a week now and much to see, to learn and enjoy.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

This just in . .

Scat Controversy Continues to Grow

Controversy at Amber Fox continued today as the debate over the recent finding of Unknown Scat heated up. Top scatologists at Amber Fox are continuing rigorous scientific testing to determine its source, and results will be released long after it will be too late to matter. In a related development, anonymous officials at Amber Fox have asked for calm until the Official Scatology Report is released.

Many at Amber Fox believe the scat may be bear, while others insist it could only come from a Sasquatch. Reached for an interview at his camp in the Yukon, trapper and scatologist Joe Schneider, known as "Crappy" to his friends, stands by his comment on the Amber Fox blog. "It's a Sasquatch, damn sure as I got on beaver skin underwear," avows Schneider.

Others aren't so sure. Cockelf speculated the scat might belong to an as-of-yet undiscovered giant Lizard Man, or perhaps the famous Highlands Hag.

Although a possible reappearance of the Creature from the Lanark Dump has so far been ruled out, investigation contines.

Almost Live . . .

from the SapCam
3:43 pm

Monday, March 27, 2006

Sugar Time!

Tapping Continues at Amber Fox

The sun is shining

The day is warm

The drill's a drillin'

Wood's a flyin'

And the sap, sweet sap, flows . . .

. . . one drop at a time!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Almost Live . . .

This just in from the LiveCam . . .
. . . 1/2 hour later in Newfoundland.

Do You Know Your Scat?


Unidentified scat was found on the forest floor today, and top scatologists at Amber Fox are working hard to identify its origins. Some believe it might be extraterrestrial, but scientists insist the hammer pictured on the right is for size comparison only and not alien doo.

Do You Know Your Scat?
Help identify it!

Post your answer to comments.

Pinkie's Cheese

Pinkie's Cheese

Pinkie has shared his recipe for the wonderful cheese he makes at Amber Fox on our elist. Here it is for all to make and enjoy.

  • 1 litre live culture yougert
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 500 ml whipping cream
  • 1 litre dry skim milk powder
  • 1 large bowl
  • Plastic wrap
  • 1 wide knife
  • cooking thermometer
  • 1 colander
  • Cheese cloth
  • food grade wax

Mix all the ingedients in a large bowl. Make sure the skim milk powder is disolved. Set the bowl on a pot of warm water. The bowl should not touch the water. Place the pot with the bowl on your stove. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap with a small hole in it. Raise the temperature of the milk to about 42C.

Do not stir the milk at all. Keep the milk between 42C and 44C for about 6 hours. You do this by turning the stove on for a minute or two every now and then as needed.

When the milk is thickened like yougert, and it starts to produce clear yellow whey, like what you see in store-bought live culture yougert that has been in the fridge for a few days, take a wide knife and cut through the thickened milk in a grid pattern of about 3 to 4 centimetres.

The curd should seperate along the cuts causing the whey to come out of the curd. At this point the curd is very delicate and you do not want to mix the whey and curd back together. With a wide blade knife rock the curd very gently in the whey. At the same time raise the temperature of the curds and whey slowly to about 47C while gently stirring the curds and whey. Do not let the curds sink and clump together. Do not raise the temperature too high or too fast. It should take about 30 to 45 minutes to go from 42C to 47C.

Pour the curds and whey through a cheese cloth lined colander. You can save the whey for other recipes or throw away the whey.

Sprinkle 30 to 40 ml of good sea salt in the wet curds and hang the dripping cheese in the cheese cloth over a bowl to catch the dripping whey. Let the cheese drip for about a day. Tightly wrap the ball of cheese in fresh cheese cloth twice a day until the ball has formed a dry surface or rind and the cheese cloth remains dry. Keep the wrapped cheese at cool room temperature. Coat the ball of cheese in food grade wax and store at cool room temperature for about 6 months.

Of course you can eat the cheese as soon as it has stopped dripping.

Check out Pinkie's website here.

More from the aka Amber Fox Kitchen here.

, Queer, , , , ,, Recipes

Fly away little one

Fly away little one, don't come here...

The story of spring flys at Amber Fox reminds me of how we used to handle flys when I was working as a forest ranger, fighting fires and planting trees.

Seems those pesky flys were more on our minds than the bears and even the raging fire sometimes, out there hot and sweaty, persperation dripping off you inside those coveralls, off your face, sometimes people thought you had turned the piss can on yourself. (Piss can in case you have other ideas is not quite what you thought. It was a five gallon metal can that was filled with water and strapped to your back. It had a hose and a piston attachment for squirting much like many kids water guns today.)

If you were staying on the fire overnight, which happened sometimes as darkness set in and the helicopter that you rapelled out of can't fly at night, the flys were enemy number one. It was hot, you were wet, dirty and no way to clean up. You are now on the top of the dating list for flys, not bad if you are into that, but me, no...

We would use a few pop bottles (or beer bottles if you managed to get them by the pre-flight check) inverted with the bottom supported with sticks. The sweet scent would lure the flys. Once in the bottle, they couldn't get out, they can't manouver down in such a confined space. Set up five or six just abit away from where you are cooking at your fire and the flys thin out.

It works much better inside. I have used the following fly trap with great success...

Boy Ricky's fly trap

You need - a two litre plastic bottle, string, a stick or tape, and some smelly bait

First step, cut the top of the bottle off near the top of the label.

Second step, throw away the lid, make four cuts in the lid so it has narrow openings or looks like it has legs.

Next, tie a piece of meat or cheese or any smelly food to the string and thread the string from inside the bottle through the hole you just made. Tie it to a stick or tape it to the bottle.

Finally, place the bottle on top of the top.

VoilĂ  Instant fly trap

Friday, March 24, 2006

Nature Call: a continuing column of occasional stories and news from the natural world of amber fox

As I write this I am watching a deer scratch its ear. It is approaching dusk, and she is foraging in the back yard, occasionally pawing at the sod. It's almost as if they have a sixth sense. She looks directly at me as though she knows I'm observing her, as though she can see through the window and into the alcove where I sit. Her ears are poised, intent. But the moment is over, and she returns to her grazing. I can see her white tail now, flat against her haunches, now swishing straight up, now flat.

Perhaps her tail swishes at houseflies. I saw them in lazy groups doing crazy eights in today's afternoon warmth. They seemed especially attracted to the pools of muck where the snow has melted. Now I know where houseflies come from. They come from the ground.

Upstairs, in the tower of the house, we have an ecosystem of houseflies. They live in the walls. Many years ago, when Ken finished the tower, each floor glimmered like a different jewel. Many say the top room was the most dazzling of all. Ken hand stitched yards of bright blue herringbone tweed to the walls. If you look closely you can still see the precise

stitching around the corners, and stitches rising in perfect lines up the angled walls to the four-sided vaulted cupola above. When the room was new and the morning sun streamed in, the light was the color of the Mediterranean. Sundogs looked like the sun flashing on waves. In afternoon light, the room was calming blue. Lying on the bed for a nap with the curtains drawn was like resting underwater, where you can be cool on even the hottest summer day.

Over the years the fabric has faded and grown dusty. Where the sun was strongest, in the cupola, it has decayed and rotted. The tatters of fabric have long been torn down and only the faded ceiling remains. It's the color of an overcast sky.

Houseflies are born in the fabric. They eat the mites who live on dust and dead houseflies. Generations seem to have established themselves. They are born of the fabric, and they die of the fabric. Most spend their lives buzzing about the cupola and trying to escape from one of the high windows. But some are born inside, trapped between the fabric and the wall. You hear them buzzing from time to time at night, stuck in place, tiny bulges here and there in the darkness. When I lie in bed listening to them I can't help but think of Edgar Alan Poe and cataleptic paralysis, and I imagine what it's like to be taken for dead and wake up buried six feet down inside a coffin. But just for a moment. The thought is too unbearable. They say they've found evidence of people who've clawed through the lid. I squish the houseflies buried under the fabric when I can find them. It seems like the right thing to do.

My very first spring here, dead houseflies covered the top floor an inch deep. There were piles of flies. Vacuum cleaner bags full of flies. Flies on the bed, under it, in it. Nowadays the flies have been beaten back season by season so at least their dessicated remains no longer form drifts. They start back up this time of year, and they're already buzzing above me in the mornings telling me to get out of bed. Most of them seem content to remain high up in the cupola, but the curious and the dead and dying always find their way down. Soon it will be time to get out the can of spray. I feel bad spewing poison into the air, and it's hard to hold your breath long enough to get out of the room and down the stairs, so you know you're taking it in. But it's the only way to keep them at bay, and I tell myself my method is more sophisticated than a deer's flick of its tail.

There, she's gone. They have a way of disappearing when you're not looking. The light is beginning to fade now, almost time to rebuild the fire.

Glooscap and the Lazy People

"It's exciting to know that Chip is tapping a few of the maples this spring in hopes of enjoying some of their sweet, sticky sap.

Did you know that the maple trees at Amberfox were once tapped annually? Next time you are on the land, take a moment and look carefully in the tractor shed (or simply ask Ken to show you where to look). In there you might just discover some of the old metal pails that were used in that process nearly a century ago." - Comment from Cockelf

Legend tells us that long before the white man first ventured into the land of the Native People, maple syrup was already being enjoyed. They say that long ago maple syrup flowed directly from cuts in the maple tree. Didn't matter what time of year it was, the sweet maples gave their pure goodness year-round.

Glooscap and the Lazy People

One day the creator-god Glooscap walked into a village along the Saint John River (present day New Brunswick and Maine). There was no activity, no children playing, no mothers or fathers working, no dogs barking. Glooscap saw that everyone in the village was sitting beside the maple trees drinking and licking up the sweet syrup. Some people were even asleep letting the maple syrup drip into their open mouths!

Glooscap ordered the people to get up. There were fires to attend, hunting to be done, food to gather. But the people would not move. They were too intoxicated with the sweet syrup. Angered, the Creator took a large birch basket, ran down to the river, and filled it with water. He then poured the water over all of the maple trees. Immediately the syrup was diluted and was no longer sweet.

"Because of your laziness," he said, "the syrup from these trees will never again drip forth so sweet. From this day forward you will have to work to make it so. You will have to gather the sap and boil the syrup, and you must do so only in springtime. But rest assured," he told them, "if you are willing to work for it, you will again get to taste the sweetness of the maple trees."

And so it has been ever since!"
Thank you Cockelf!

You can read more on Glooscap at CBC and his battle with the Water Monster here. Another story, Glooscap and the Baby, tells of the only time he lost. Wiki has more here.
- Boy Ricky

Haiku! some sap is arisin'

A contribution to our blog via our super secret list ("It's not that secret, Ricky; the link is in the sidebar, silly boy"). In the spirit of the gatherings ahead, I faerily borrow this little gem from Terry...

"I had this little haiku published many years ago in RFD. As we celebrate the maple sap arisin', I offer it once more ..."
Vernal equinox
My jeans around my ankles
Time to sow my seed

- Happy springtime, mes amis! Terry

More, we want more such posts or different ones, share your stuff.

Eastre's Sweet Water

Word from Amber Fox says we may be partaking in some maple syrup during the Eastre Gathering. Yesterday, maple trees were tapped for the first time in at least 20 years. Perhaps long before this tapping, these same sugar trees were tapped by First Nations peoples.

It is to be a celebration as the The Land aka Amber Fox delivers some of the sweetness of the earth for us to savour and be thankful. It is too rich yet it's true ...

Posted to our super secret list, came this message today, which I carefully vetted before posting here...

"The day is bright and beautiful here at Amber Fox, and sugar season is upon us! I tapped my first trees yesterday and was delighted to see the drops spashing into the bucket. The sap looks like water and has a subtle sweet taste. It's quite amazing to see the flow. I'll be tapping more trees this morning with the hopes that we'll each have a drop of very sacred syrup for the Eastre Gatherette. The ratio is 40 to 1, with 40 parts sap yielding 1 part syrup, so I've got a lot of collecting and boiling to do!" -- Chip

We know at the dawning of spring, as the days become warmer though the nights are still frosty, the sap is rising in the forest. Today I learned the First Nation peoples would cut a diagonal slash in each lower trunk of the maple trees (sometimes they did this with birch as well), and insert a hollow reed through which the sap would drip into a small bark container. These containers, likely made of birch, were emptied into a larger bark or log container.

Fire-heated stones were then dropped into these large bark containers until the sap was boiled down to a dark, sweet syrup called "sweet water." It's this sweet water we hope to share at our Eastre gathering.

More news from the Land surely tells us we are in sync with the planned gatherette...
"...the birds have returned! The spring air is filled with the sounds of geese. I can hear them in great honking gaggles,feeding and partying at the river."

Is it just me, the boy, or is it all of you, too, getting excited. In an earlier post I was sure to share my hope for the Easter bunny and chocolate. Are my words too subtle?--yet something tells me Eastre's Sweet Water will bring us a passion and celebration of life this year we won't want to miss. Can you hear the bird's song, does it call out to you...

The Sweet Water may not be much, whatever quantities it comes in, however small the partaking be, the magik is there for all.

"A week in the company of soft men"

As I travel the internet, I find reflections of others who spent time on The Land aka Amber Fox.

Here I point you to a reflection of a visit,
likely the 14th annual High Summer Gathering. The collection of photos is entitled, "a week in the company of soft men".

The photo here is one of many from the site, taken during one of the circles.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

I walk this way - Eastre unPlugged

Eastre, also known as Ostern, Ostara, Ostare, Eostre, Eostra, Eastur, Eostur, Eastra, Austron, Ausos, Ishtar, and Ashtur, is generally known as being from the Saxons' Germanic heritage and was the name of the goddess of dawn, spring and fertility.

Gatherings it seems have been around for a long time, eons it seems. Some thoughts explain Eastre gatherings like this. Spring would bring new life, nature's growth would transform the Land. To explain it one would understand the earth as giving birth in the spring, creating life, so we have Mother Earth. Mother Earth would not do well without the rain. So the sky above delivered this. Sometimes referred to as the heavens, the sky took on or was made Male. Together the Earth and the Sky created the wonders of the Land.

Many groups and people have taken this as a rite of their own, perhaps renaming it, perhaps reworking it, yet the truth remains the same in the end: spring revitalises us. A time to be reborn and the new born. Some choose to celebrate this quietly and others more loudly. There seems no wrong way to celebrate Eastre. You create alone or in a group, loosely or collectively, an appreciation and thankfulness for the coming of spring and all it sybolises for you.
That seems to be the essence of Faeries, of gay men seeking their own non hetro foisted approach to this time. It can be of our own creation, maybe its the merging of both male and female, maybe it's a time to look ahead, to be alone or together. Rituals can be be static or change to meet our needs and desires; inclusive or apart, it does not seem to matter.

There is something magical that happens. It happens all over this planet and maybe elsewhere too every spring. I look forward to this spring, to celebrating, to recognising the change to the Land and sharing that experiance with others. What will it be like? How will I particpate? Will I jump in? Will I simply observe? What personal truths will be uncovered or allowed to be?

I do know this. It is with great anticipation that I walk this way.


PS - I am not giving up on the Easter bunny, or is that Eastre? The kid in me won't let me, it's part of my spirituality, and few things like chocolate make this boy really happy!

, Queer, , , , ,

Buck and Annie work it out

He was in the Know Talent Show in 2002. The cowboy's name was Buck. His poetic offering to those in attendance over, he watched others from the audience, until he knew it was time. Annie was struggling to come out.

I can't hold her back any longer, he said to himself. The lyrics to "I need a Man" danced, no blasted, through his brain...
I don't care if you won't
Talk to me
You know I'm not that kind of girl.
And I don't care if you won't
Walk with me
It don't give me such a thrill.
And I don't care about the way you look
You should know I'm not impressed
'Cause there's just one thing
That I'm looking for
And he don't wear a dress.

I need a man...
I need a man...

His mind played the video frame by frame...

"I ain't no faggot,"
he says in a story submitted to RFD. No, he's not a faggot, he's a man, darn it. Well, that man did let Annie out, and he wasn't no faggot, he was Annie. The Annual High Summer Gathering at The Land aka Amber Fox gives much. One of the highlights is the big show held in the Erection. Read Cockelf's account of the experience here.

Cockelf's story is intimate, personal and maybe, just maybe, you'll want to let your alterego out yourself. If you need a man, or just some encouragement, read this.

Need an outlet, then check out the aka amberfox websites and
2006 Gathering Dates in the sidebar. It's all about being you.

You will also find this story, this experience in the Spring 2004 edition of RFD.

More photo's of the the 2003 Know Talent Show at the High Summer Gathering are on Bill's aka amber fox site. (Photo of BuckAnnie taken by Ernie aka Journey aka Cow Faerie.)

--Boy Ricky

, Queer, , , ,

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Gathering Dates 2006 - The Land aka Amber Fox

2006 Gathering Dates

Eastre Weekend
Friday, April 14 - Monday, April 17

Victoria Day Weekend
Friday, May 19 - Monday, May 22

Canada Day Weekend
Friday, June 30 - Monday, July 3

19th Annual High Summer Gathering
Saturday, July 29 - Monday, August 7

Labour Day Weekend
Friday, September 1 - Monday, September 4

Thanksgiving Gatherette
Friday, October 6 - Monday, October 9

NOTE: The Summer Solstice gathering scheduled for June 16 - June 19 has been cancelled

, Queer, , , ,

Feel Eastre's passion - Amber Fox, April 14-17

Greetings Fellow Fey Folk and Other Kindred Spirits!

I bring you news from The Land aka Amber Fox.

Spring is coming! Spring is coming!

Help celebrate its arrival at Amber Fox, April 14-17.
The ancient Saxons celebrated the return of spring with an uproarious festival commemorating the goddess of the dawn and the spring, Eastre, aka Oestre, aka Ostara and many other names).

Let us gather to join the celebration. The days are growing brighter and longer, the end of winter nigh. Let us feast and feel Eastre's passion for new life. Gather your energies and let life burst forth! Dance by the bonfire under the light of a full moon!

Legend has it that many years ago a group of intrepid men met here for Eastre. The days were sunny, warm and divine! But be prepared for anything, including a cold and wet Ontario spring. We have indoor accomodations (and wood heat!) in the Bunkhouse, the Departure Lounge,
and the Erection. All are welcome, so bring a friend and let's make some magic!

Let The Land know ye are coming. Email us at

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Land aka Amber Fox

For over 30 years, the Lanark Highlands of eastern Ontario has been a centre of activity for gay and queer men attracted to the freedom of a rural lifestyle, and it has become the home of a radical faerie enclave aka Amber Fox.

Here, on 75 acres of rolling woods and farmland, gay and queer men gather to fellowship, to explore their sexuality and spirituality, to live in Nature, and to celebrate together. From April to October, we come together to enjoy work weekends, holidays, our annual ten-day High Summer Gathering, and Canadian Thanksgiving.

There are many structures on the land, many places to find shelter. Barns, a wood-fired sauna, an outdoor shower, the forest canopy, outhouses, the Departure Lounge, the Bunkhouse--and, during warm weather, numerous tents set up by those who come to camp.

But it is our Erection that draws the most attention.

Want to know more? Real all about it here.

, Queer, GLBT, , ,