Right, more behind the scenes stuff. I love pictures of desk chaos, and this is one of my favourites. I bought this book on the Fayum portraits at the Art Institute of Chicago a couple of years ago when I was in town for a liturgical music conference (PSALM -- the Pan Orthodox Society for the Advancement of Litugical Music -- yep, it's a mouthful). The Art Institute was terrific, and I had the absolute bliss of arriving there alone on a very quiet day, accountable to no one but God for over five hours. Aaaaaaaah. Anyway, you can spot that Egeria bird (falcon? parakeet?) both in the portrait and in my fumbling beginnings of a design. I love the thing Kandinsky says, something like "Glory to the palette for the delight it brings, more beautiful a work indeed than many a work of art".
I would like to take this opportunity to mention, mercenary that I am, that I paid no money to stay in Chicago because I was staying with friends. Hmmm -- remind you of anything? Orthodox home exchange, for example? Enjoying the company of old (or perhaps brand new) friends, glasses of wine, exchanging news, tucking into a hearty meal, prepared with love and plenty of feta?
Which leads me quite nicely to a discussion of hospitality exchange, another feature of our soon-to-be home exchange club. There are a couple of ways this can work. One, straightforward hospitality exchange, where you want to go to say, Paris. You log in to Egeria and ask members in Paris if you can come and stay with them. They say sure, bonjour and bienvenue. Then in exchange they get to come and stay with you sometime. Or their friend does, or student-age kid, or whatever. That's hospitality exchange. The other type is sometimes called B&B, which is very much like it sounds. You can offer B&B to other members not in exchange for hospitality from them, but simply for a donation, or just to be a swell person. Most likely you will charge, since you have after all paid for your membership. But it's a nice way to share your community, country, neighbourhood and parish with other Orthodox who want or need to travel to where you are.
So when you become a member of Egeria you will have many choices: simultaneous home exchange, hospitality exchange, B&B, or nonsimultaneous exchange, which simply means that you and your exchanging partner have somewhere else to be -- a second home, vacation home, other plans, etc while your home is used by a member. We are considering whether to include holiday rentals, which is a little more full-on commercial, probably more than we are entirely happy with. We don't want the site overwhelmed with posts that just charge for accommodation, since that is pretty much the opposite of the spirit of home exchange, which is about trading, sharing and building community. On the other hand, maybe you want to be able to see what is out there and available to rent in your dream location? Share your thoughts and comments!