I just returned from a two-day conference in Ontario, Canada. Like all of life's experiences, some of it was good and some not-so-good. It was an early childhood conference sponsored by the Waldorf School of Toronto. I'm glad I went but at the same time, in retrospect, I could have taken a pass on the whole thing. Here is how the weekend went according to nice me and crabby me.
Nice me: It was organized
Crabby me: Registration was supposed to begin at 6:45. The registrar was ready fifteen minutes early and there were a dozen-or-so folks standing in the vestibule of the school. The registrar actually insisted on waiting until the scheduled time to let people pick up their conference materials. She sat with her hands folded for the intervening time. Rigid people like this are the reason we can't have world peace.
Friday night keynote speech:
Nice me: It started with a sing-along. I love sing-alongs. We did a song based on a piece by Mozart and a Celtic chant. The audience of 200 was split into four groups and we sang rounds. Waldorf-ers have skill doing this sort of thing. Not a single person in that huge group bellyached about this activity. They all did it willingly and we sounded beautiful.
Crabby me: Midway through the keynote speaker, I began to feel unwell. I had chills and sweats and an awful ache in my lower back. I left the lecture hall before the lecture was done.
Nice me: A night in Toronto for $10.00. Even though it only amounted to camping out on a carpeted classroom floor, you can't beat that with a stick.
Crabby me: The ache became intense. I realized I had a kidney stone. It must have been a smallish one because although it was mighty uncomfortable, the pain was tolerable. One odd thing about kidney stones is that one can track the progress of the little bastard due to the localized pain as it travels to freedom. As I swigged massive amounts of water to wash the thing away I was able to find a couch in the faculty to sleep fitfully between trips to the washroom (ha! I speak fluent Canadian). By 4:00 am the stone was history and I felt LOADS better.
Nice me: This school has a farmers market featuring organic, biodynamic foods. Shopping at the market is one of the best things about this conference. I bought some turkey eggs I plan to use for an Easter centerpiece.
Crabby me: I bought a wildly expensive slice of a lemon loaf for my breakfast. "It's gluten free!" chirped the cute little vendor. I never experienced a gluten free product before. Didn't like it. Lemon-flavored sawdust.
Nice me: The presentors wanted very much to do a good job and give us as much information as possible.
Crabby me: I was looking forward to a presentation called "Gifts from the Garden". What it ended up being was a lesson on how to identify edible weeds. So far, so good. Her presentation consisted of having the group of fifteen participants huddle around a 15" laptop to look at pictures of the aforementioned weeds. I bailed on that workshop and joined in another that was only marginally better.
Nice me: The organizers put forth great effort to provide a beautiful vegan, gluten-free lunch.
Crabby me: Not to my taste.
Nice me: These people are earnest in their desire to raise children in an environment of love and peace. They are very ardent in the quest to establish family routines and avoid having "media-soaked" children.
Crabby me: These folks are slightly humorless. Very serious about the way they live. Very few of the ladies dyed their hair or used make up. I felt slightly to gussied up. I think it's fair to generalize that lots of these ladies did not have their children when they were young. What with the undyed hair, there were more than a few grey-haired mothers of toddlers.
I do enjoy the handmade toys and tablescapes that are part of the Waldorf pedagogy:
So... It was kind of a wash. On the way home I treated myself to a stop at Ikea and a grocery store. I picked up some lemon curd, arrowroot biscuits and some hot cross buns. I have next week off from work, so I have a few adventures planned.