windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (heart family)
On Saturday, Graeme turned 7 years old. He doesn't have much in the way of friends in the area, so we decided to make a weekend trip out of his birthday in lieu of a party. We had a wonderful time together!

Saturday our trip was delayed while Graeme attended his ballet class and then rehearsals for his roles in The Nutcracker. (I can't remember if I mentioned here or only on Facebook, but he was cast as a Party Boy, as a Toy Soldier, and as a Gingerbread Boy which means pretty much all day, every Saturday from now until December, he'll be at the studio.) Each week's rehearsal schedule is different and this time, he was in class from 9-10am and then went back from 1:30-4:15pm. Daniel and I split up. While Daniel and Elena ran errands, wrapped presents, and finished packing the car for our trip, I manned a chair in the lobby of the studio, scrambling to get Graeme fed, watered, and properly dressed in the short (sometimes non-existent) breaks between rehearsals in various rooms. There was a lot of shoe fixing and tights hitching up. :D It felt like being a boxing trainer--quick pep talks, a stool to sit on, and a water bottle. And not that it's anything all that strenuous but for Graeme, at his age, it's pretty much the most committed, hard-work kinda thing he's ever done. I'm proud that he'd trade his Saturdays to tackle something so big. <3

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Once he was done, he changed into street clothes and we loaded into the hybrid for the drive up to Orlando--about two and half hours northwest of us. Graeme wanted to go to Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum as he's obsessively interested in all those bizarre facts and "did you know" kinda books lately. We got the the museum around 7pm (it was open until Midnight, so no worries there). The building is constructed to look like it is sinking into a sinkhole. (Though impossible to get a decent photo of it unless you're dodging traffic on International Drive.) Graeme had a great time. It was a strange place. The galleries held a mixture of things from African fertility statues to shrunken heads to clothes worn by some of the world's tiniest (and biggest) people. There were iconic coin operated machines--like the Zoltan fortune teller--and there was weird art like a massive image of The Last Supper created entirely with dryer lint. There was a Mona Lisa mosaic made of carefully cut tiles of toasted bread in various shades of doneness and another mosaic of Frankenstein's monster made with computer keys. I don't know what to make of the combination of optical illusions and wax figures of people with unusual talents, the oversized wooden chair and the tiny starfish under glass. Weird. Sometimes interesting but weird. :D

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More odd Ripley's stuff under the cut... )

After the museum, we checked into our nearby Homewood Suites (free thanks to all of Daniel's business travel!) and ordered Thai food from @Siam, a place we've tried before and liked. Graeme got to open his presents over pad thai and cupcakes, quite happily. (We'd bought him a few books filled with interesting facts and a giant Scooby Doo pillow pet sort of thing. My sister-in-law sent him some Scooby Doo chapter books and my Mom sent some of those toy spy gadgets including room alarms and eavesdropping headphones, etc. :) ) I ordered a mango yellow curry with tofu and mango sticky rice for dessert and it was so happy.

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~*~

On Sunday, we got out the door and drove to Magic Kingdom around 9am. We have season passes through February (and Elena's free until she turns 3), so it was fun to take advantage of that to extend Graeme's birthday celebration with a couple low-cost days at Disney World. Everything was decorated autumnally for their Not-So-Spooky Halloween party later that night. The park attendance was surprisingly light for a weekend, so we were able to get on a lot of rides with minimal waiting. We'd reserved Fast Passes for Dumbo, Buzz Lightyear, and The Haunted Mansion--which we walked right on--and we also had time for It's A Small World, Peoplemover, Barnstormer, the Carousel, and lunch at Columbia Harbour House. By about 2pm, Elena had conked out from the heat and we were ready to call it a day. We got back to the hotel, doled out snacks and television shows to the kids in their room and then Daniel and I conked out for a two hour nap. (Divine.) That night Graeme opened the second half of his presents (including a rock painting kit and a book to help memorize state capitals and presidents from his other grandparents) and we ate leftover Thai food and watched HGTV together. (Beachfront Bargains).

On Monday, the Magic Kingdom was nutso-banana-pants. We'd packed all our gear up into the car in the morning and arrived about 9:30am to crowds two or three times what they'd been on Sunday. The UV index was an 8, high enough that we could actively feel our skin frying outside despite our thick coatings of heavy duty sunscreen, and the humidity had the 'feels like' temperature up to 96 degrees. It was pretty miserable. The lines were so long for the Monorail and the Ferry boat into the park that we were directed into the line for the *buses*. That sucked. More people than buses, standing room only, everyone cram on and try to keep your children from being trampled in the rush for the doors. :/

We reminded ourselves that we were there to do a couple things and to go home when we wanted. So, we had Fast Passes to meet Tinkerbell (Elena had spent two days carrying her talking Captain Hook doll around and Tinkerbell was adorably offended at her loyalties. Graeme just stared at her dress, kinda starstruck, and insisted he was not a pirate despite his blue and white striped shirt.) We also got to ride Winnie the Pooh's honeypot cars and then Peter Pan on Fast Passes. We opted for things with short lines as we found them--Pirates of the Caribbean first thing in the morning, two rounds of Barnstormer, a trip around Magic Kingdom on the train, Aladdin's flying carpets and pineapple Dole Whips for the overheated kids. We bought a few souvenirs in the Emporium and then headed home around 2pm when the heat was unbearable.

We got home early enough for the kids to work on their chalk art in the driveway while I caught up on dishes and laundry. And, once the kids were in bed, Daniel and I had dinner and watched the finale to The Quest together! :D

Late last night, Graeme developed a fever of 102 out of nowhere. He was miserable and it was climbing, so we did the parenting scramble of Tylenol, Motrin, and a cool bath to bring his temperature down. Today, after some sleep, he's back to normal and ready to resume his busy seven year-old life.

Disney photos under the cut! )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)
On September 30th, [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin had their marriage formally and legally recognized by the state of New York. I'd missed out on their first wedding with Graeme as a newborn, so it was an honor and a joy and an unexpected second-chance that I was not only able to witness this (amazingly beautiful and sparkle-riffic) ceremony but to also participate as a bridemaid. Graeme, their goddess-son was asked to be the ring bearer. Summing the experience of this past week in a post is nearly impossible!

I realized on the plane ride home that watching Jenn and Sarah marry is the happiest day of my life. At my wedding, though I was a being of lightness and joy and sheer glowing and giddy euphoria, it still couldn't match how I felt when the minister pronounced, by the power invested in him by the great state of New York, that my dear and beloved friends were legally wife and wife. My wedding was a given. When I met Daniel, that first date, I knew I would marry him. No outside obstacle could keep the two of us apart once we'd found each other in the world. There's a calm serenity and certainty in that. With Jenn and Sarah, there were no such guarantees. They grew up in a country where same-sex marriages did not exist and even today, what they were granted is possible in only six states. It feels like a miracle, Love walking in the world, and a weight whose strain I didn't appreciate is gone from my shoulders. I do not have to worry about them anymore. What my friends, my dear family, that beloved beloved pair has now cannot be levered apart from the outside. They can spend the rest of their lives dreaming what to do together instead of daring to hope they can even be together. I'm flying with joy for them. Their wait for justice and acknowledgment is over.

I have very few photos from the festivities. Some gorgeous photos have been coming out from Laura Vasilion ([livejournal.com profile] twelvepetals) of Vasilion Photography who was the official photographer of the wedding. For example, she took this one!

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~*~

That said, onto the details of the week, the ceremony and more photos behind the cut! )

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Sarah and Jenn, I wish the two of you a long lifetime of love and shared dreams and bountiful blessings and endless possibilities together. <3 <3 <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (peace goddess)
At the end of our Italy/Germany adventure, the three of us spent the long Easter weekend in Munich. All I've mentioned, thus far, is going to Dachau but it wasn't all so heavy and emotionally wringing as that. For most of our time in the city, we enjoyed the warm weather and the plentiful flowers. We rolled around in fields of dandelions and watched surfers ride the river baffle wave in the huge Englischer Garten. We strolled the old center of town and watched the life-size brightly painted figures of the Rathaus Glockenspiel dance and joust. I ate an impressive array of potato products and Daniel ate a (disgusting) assortment of meat products. We had a lovely vacation time together.

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Onto the photos! )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
This past weekend, I celebrated Beltane at Spoutwood Farm's 20th Annual Fairie Festival. It was only my second year attending, but it has ensured my ever-living loyalty. I can't imagine not attending. It was such a joy!

Here you can read about my thoughts on last year's Festival.

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This year, the circle of friends attending expanded. Sarah ([livejournal.com profile] mermaiden) and Jenn ([livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin) were gracious enough to pick me up at the airport again and schlepp me hither and yon in their car. Joining us this year was Rhiannon ([livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan) who may be a Fairie Festival convert of her own. We also got to meet up again at the Festival with [livejournal.com profile] aerialmelodies, [livejournal.com profile] greyeyedpixie, Ryan, Corey, and [livejournal.com profile] cloverdew. And then, later in the festival, we met [livejournal.com profile] shveta_thakrar and her friend [livejournal.com profile] blood_of_winter. We watched [livejournal.com profile] sihaya09 and [livejournal.com profile] damejenn among the bellydancers throughout the weekend. It was, basically, a big LiveJournal celebration for me. :D

Photographs and more under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
Our ten days in northern Italy and Germany were, by and large, not very eventful. We mainly shared the day-to-day joys of living with Daniel's brother and his family--sharing homemade meals and strolling through cobblestone streets in the warm slanting afternoon light. I indulged in long afternoon naps and had gelato at least once (if not twice) a day. At some point I will sort through our family photos and cobble together a sort of travel report to account for those days and share some of their beauty. In the meantime, though, I wanted to jump to the end of the trip when we had a few days in Germany to ourselves and I was able to make the day's agenda. Saturday, we spent the day at Dachau, the Nazis' first, though not most notorious, concentration camp.

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I grew up in a racially and religiously homogeneous Midwestern town. I knew nobody from another country, who spoke another language, or who worshiped outside of the Christian faith. My elementary school had one black family and, to my recollection, nobody of any Asian or Hispanic descent. It was my norm. We moved to the Southeast coast of Florida when I was ten and the world literally opened up. I had entered a world of color and language and culture and religion. There was so much diversity in the world and it was my first real sense of being part of it. One of the most striking experiences was that we'd moved to a place with one of the highest Jewish populations in the US. When we learned about the Holocaust in school, we heard it from survivors whose grandchildren and great grandchildren I played with on the playground. There was an immediacy to their stories. There was an urgency for me to hang on their every word. I pursued history in college because I wanted to know (and help record and distribute) the stories of the minorities in history. Not whoever was riding the tide of power and popularity at the time of events but those voiceless at the bottom, the stories from the other side.

I needed to go to Dachau, to see and experience it for myself, and so we did. Going, though necessary, has made the trip to Europe as a whole, almost impossible to talk about.



Obviously upsetting material under the cut... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (everything changes stars)
On Sunday morning, there was no mistaking the fact that it had shifted into autumn. I'd arrived, Friday afternoon, wishing I'd packed bug spray and shorts and now it was misty and cold and everywhere I was seeing the first glow of color on the changing leaves. The night before, walking to ritual, there had been something like diamonds winking from the dark grasses beside the path, little landbound fireflies sending a few more messages out into the night before the seasons turned. I had never seen anything so amazing in the natural world as those motionless, pulsing stars at my feet.

Others were awake before me, and everytime the cabin door by my headboard opened and hissed closed, a draft of damp, chilly air wafted over me and tempted me to abandon my warm bed. It finally succeeded. I got dressed, packed my things into my carry-on bags, and then took my camera out into the land one more time. Everything was cloaked in mist, still and quiet, restful and contemplative. All was well with me, truly well.

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I walked the path up to the main house for breakfast. Someone had a deck of tarot cards out for a morning card draw with the question of, "What are you bringing home from Diana's Grove this weekend?". I drew the Five of Swords, or in this Celestial Tarot deck I was pulling from, the constellation Pegasus. Not sure what to make out of it, as it certainly didn't feel very comforting or welcome a gift to bring back from the Grove with me. :)

After a final session with my Circle of Support, the whole group got together for a fare-thee-well check-out. Everyone got a few minutes to share a memory from some time at the Grove in the past and a memory from this weekend in particular. I felt just overwhelming gratitude. The community there is extraordinary, the women who founded it inspirational, the commitments that people have made to keep it growing and vibrant remarkable. I am lucky to have found Diana's Grove while it existed in this incarnation, on this land. I can't help but wish I'd arrived sooner, somehow, that I'd been able to go through the leadership training programs, but that is small potatoes compared to the blessed sense of gratitude I was feeling. I loved every person in that room. My soul was perfectly content--at peace, at home.

After hugs and goodbyes and another delicious lunch, I had a few hours to myself before it was time for me to leave for the airport. The Grove got quieter as cars rumbled down the gravel roads and away. The bunks in our cabin were stripped, one by one. I decided to go and walk, by myself, the big labyrinth mown into the meadow. I have walked by that labyrinth so many times and never stepped in. I never really understood what, beyond a meditative aid, a labyrinth was meant to deliver. I overheard someone say that you must consider what you're looking for in the middle before you begin the walk, so I stopped on the threshold and considered what it was that I needed to find in the center of that winding coil. There was only one thing, and I didn't consider it to be related, at all, to my letter to Persephone. (Though I realize now, they very much were.)

In the center of the Labyrinth, I hoped to find self-esteem... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (pink lotus candles)
Tippy-tapped update from me and my phone at the airport. My weekend at Diana's Grove was transformative, restorative, beautiful, and fun. The trip home met some hiccups as my flight last evening out of St. Louis was cancelled and I was left to get a hotel after many hours at the airport. Five hours sleep and I'm back and trying to get home again. This morning I am supposed to check into the hospital at 10am and have the first procedure, a radiology guided percutaneous neprostomy, at 11am. I am working hard to keep the anxiety at bay. I love this term I heard at the Grove this weekend--"growing edge". This is definitely a growing edge for me. I hope you will keep me in your thoughts. I sure need calm thoughts and still moments bravery to face this.

Love!

Rachel
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (outdoorsy)
Mirroring our celebration of Midsummer, Sunday was a time of waning as various guests departed or prepared to depart. Laura, [livejournal.com profile] atempestcyclone, had left Saturday and Lena [livejournal.com profile] lenaperry, still feeling ill, left Sunday morning to drive home. The rest of us loaded into two cars and drove out to Letchworth State Park. The park styles itself as the "Grand Canyon of the East" with the Genesee River running through cliffs and over three stunning waterfalls. We'd picked up lunch foods at the grocery store on the way to the park, so we stopped at an overlook with giant stone picnic tables and had lunch before strolling along the tree-shaded trails to two of the waterfalls to take pictures and soak up some of that green, misty, summer energy. In one spot, graceful turkey vultures and a huge flock of what looked like pigeons banked and soared along the cliff faces, riding the thermals in daring, dancing ways.

After a couple hours, we loaded back up to head home. Maddie [livejournal.com profile] lathriel left us there and we nervously eyed the gray skies and packed a picnic hamper to go see Much Ado About Nothing at Buffalo's outdoor Shakespeare in the Park. On arrival, sadly, the misty downfall became an out and out downpour, forcing us to make alternate plans. We drove over to Amy's, this awesome greasy diner with all-day breakfast and tons of vegan foods. Sitting in the booth, my kidney stone went from its normal dull ache to radiating pain and nausea. It was an attack so painful I thought, for sure, we'd have to go to the hospital. I was calculating my options and finding it so hard to even think through all that pain, trying to compartmentalize it so I could focus on something else. Should I try to get a flight back to Chicago and then a taxi to the hospital, where my urologist could be called for emergency surgery? Should I go to the hospital in Buffalo? What could they do? How would I get home? How would Daniel handle the extra days with Graeme when he has other work obligations? I didn't have any good ideas. (Though I did get to eat an awesome vegan B.L.T sandwich.)

After dinner, we ran through the cold downpour to our cars, getting soaked and shrieking happily in the process. I got some Motrin at the gas station, took 800mg, and just kinda hung in there on the long ride home. That Motrin did *nothing* for my pain. It was worse than labor pains, hands-down, and I was stranded so far from home. At the house, Sarah brought me a flourite egg for pain and Jenn contributed a hot water bottle for my back and finally, finally!, the pain let up enough for me to think clearly again. It eased enough for me to sleep and in the morning, thank gods, I felt better.

Karyn [livejournal.com profile] belladonnastrap headed home on Sunday morning. She returned to NYC as somewhat of a combat-wounded soldier. While in town she'd a) gotten her first tattoo and b) been bitten by numerous mosquitoes. Now, we'd all been victim to bug bites, no matter how much bug spray (both natural and chemically toxic) and citronella candles we'd used. Some got bug bite bumps, some didn't, but poor Karyn really reacted to the bites. Some were big raised welts several inches across. No amount of ointment or Benadryl eased the misery of itching. Some souvenir! She was quite a trooper about it!

So Monday morning, Sarah and Jenn left with Karyn for the airport and were gone a couple hours. That left just Rhiannon and I at the house as we weren't leaving until Tuesday morning. We decided to vacuum some of pet fur up off the living room rug. We could only find a shop vac, and turning it on it had almost zero suction power. So we took it out onto the back deck and opened it up and emptied out the canister. The filter was clogged, so we dismantled that and beat the hell out of it over some unfortunate plants behind the house. Then we got back inside with it and realized how impossible a task it is to vacuum up fur from wall-to-wall carpeting with a hose attachment and no spinning brush. I don't know, taking the shop vac apart was the magic geranium moment. We beautified/fixed one thing and our attention was drawn to the next. One thing led to another and the next thing you knew, we'd carried all of the dining room furniture out onto the back deck and started vacuuming and dusting and mopping and scrubbing and spring-cleaning like maniacs. Every dish, pot, and platter that Sarah and Jenn owned was piled three feet high in the sink after our long weekend of partying, so by the time that they got home, we announced that we wanted to clean for our last day there. I think the look we got, standing in the middle of an empty room with all the furniture and stuff outside, could best be described as "deer in headlights". Sarah was like, "But....you're on vacation!" and we were like, "Yeah, but we don't want you to have to go back to work tomorrow with your house still upturned from the weekend!". And, miracle of miracles, we won the argument. :D

Rhiannon and Jenn tackled the daunting dish pile while Sarah and I went to Target to get a vacuum cleaner and some other supplies we needed. Then, reunited, we spent the day companionably cleaning. It was huge fun, to be honest, and we got a ton accomplished together. Later in the evening, we got to preview some future Glamourkin updates (OMG), Rhiannon made her nomlicious vegan mushroom stroganoff dish which we ate with fresh-baked rosemary bread and vegan butter and we watched that Dr. Horrible musical short that came out last year(?) and part of Sky High before hitting the hay. Tuesday morning, we packed up and rode in with J & S, who dropped us off at the airport for our flights on their way to work. :)

My weekend was absolutely wonderful. It had a lot of Solstice lessons for me. It wasn't wonderful because it unfurled unblemished and according-to-plan, but was wonderful in its perfectly imperfect blend of light and dark. The love, the joy, the companionship of community and family made everything magickal, precious, and blessed. It rained, we battled mosquitoes, there was a lot of illness going around and some truly not-ideal moments. My glorious white tutu both made me feel like a princess and trapped dozens of wayward black flies in its gauzy layers. The weekend was just, well frankly, it was life and it was perfect just the way it was.

Jenn, Karyn, Katie, Laura, Lena, Maddie, Pete, Rhiannon, Sarah-- I love you all. Thank you for sharing these memories with me. I will always be here, with my little scalding candle, if you need a light. <3 :)

Photos from Sunday's hike at Letchworth here. )
As always, I have a ton more photos on my Flickr page. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy fae)
This past weekend, I flew to New York to take part in Sarah [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and Jenn [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin's First Annual Midsummer Faerie Celebration, an outdoor costumed tea party the hostesses had been dreaming up for awhile. I can't imagine a more perfect community in which to celebrate Litha, the turning of the seasons from growing light to growing darkness.

Friday, after a day spent in a Rosemont hotel entertaining Graeme while Daniel spoke at an expert witness conference, I got all glammed up and went to the airport. I *love* flying to New York because it is the quickest flight, just an hour and a half, so travel doesn't take all day the way a lot of our destinations do. I had on some high heeled espadrilles, though, and the miles-long walk through O'Hare was less then comfy. Oh, vanity! :D I just loved knowing I wouldn't have to carry a toddler around, so it felt like I could get away with all kinds of things. :) Getting to Buffalo, I was pretty distracted. I'd arranged Rhiannon [livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan's flight to arrive around mine but I couldn't remember if she was coming in a little ahead of my schedule or a little behind. Should I try to find her gate and wait there, or go out and get my bag at the baggage claim? She wasn't answering her phone and I was feeling very responsible for her. I wasn't even sure who would be picking us up! I figured I'd head out to get my luggage. And there, already waiting just outside security, lined up and grinning and waving with great excitement were Sarah and Jenn, as well as Lena [livejournal.com profile] lenaperry and Karyn [livejournal.com profile] belladonnastrap, the first guests who'd arrived earlier in the day. Lena even had a bakery box with two vegan cupcakes for us in her hands! Ha! In a movie, I'd have run crying down the hallway and thrown myself in their arms, but instead it was like, "Oh, hey, good to meet you/see you again. Have you heard from Rhiannon? What should we do? I'm worried about Rhiannon. I wish I'd printed out her flight information. Do you know her flight information?" while blocking the exit from security. :D In time, Rhiannon resurfaced, my luggage circled around on the claim belt, and we piled ourselves into two cars for the drive to Sarah and Jenn's house.

Friday night, Saturday's party, and tons of photos under here. )
Such a wonderful day! In future posts, I'll write about the ritual and the rest of our weekend. There is so much to cover!! In the meantime, many many many more photos from Saturday are up on my Flickr site.

PS- Oh, another little thing. During the weekend, Sarah and Jenn passed around a wooden box filled with a tumble of crystals and minerals in every color. We each picked one randomly as a divination/intention/gift of the weekend. Mine, a marbled thing I'd never seen before, was fossilized fern, which Sarah said was for remembrances. Pretty awesome. :) I know my memories of this weekend are fixed in stone.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (perfect love)
This past weekend, I had the extreme good fortune to be able to celebrate Beltane with some of my dearest friends at Spoutwood Farm's 19th Annual Fairie Festival. I've heard so much about it, through [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin, both who are regular attendees and huge fans, but I was completely unprepared for the reality of the event. I knew from their pictures and accounts that it would be a place to dress up as fancifully as I cared and to be surrounded by kind, accepting people. But the whole of the Festival was bigger, more beautiful, and more complexly flavored than I'd understood. It was something perfect and energetically alive as an entity all its own. I finally understand the potential of Beltane, the magick of the earth, and the pulse that can effortlessly tie humanity together. It all exists at Spoutwood.

Wintering in Florida, I stumbled on a path that led me to hearing Gaia's voice for the first time in my life. Not as a hazy hip bumpersticker concept, but as a Goddess made flesh in the Earth with a heart-breaking cry and a compelling offer. She will change everything about my life's trajectory if I say "Yes" and the rewards will serve us both. I serve Isis because, as my mentor, I could do no less. I serve Death, because I knew at our meeting that I must. With Gaia, it was instantaneous, too. I am compelled to see where this leads. For this spring, my service led to Spoutwood. What lessons it delivered! I felt, bone-deep, my connection to the Earth. I was standing in the balance between Beltane and Samhain, between embodied life and embodied death. I could fiercely dance life, fiercely dance towards and breathe in my own eventual death. I have never been so spiritually alight and impossibly, so completely grounded into my own physical body. By walking the land, I was walking my life and by doing it in community, I was allowing myself the sensation of shared vision, hope, and love. We are capable of such greatness together.

And so yes, it was serene and spiritual and awe-inspiring, but it was also fun and silly and entertaining. It was this encapsulation of life, the sort of ideal life, where the good outweighs any bad, where those around you are eager to lend a hand or think well of you, where the energy is constructive and not destructive.

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Follow the cut, into the woods, and towards my adventures... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (sacred)
This weekend, Daniel stayed home with Graeme, allowing me to meet [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden for the Spring Equinox Woman's Weekend at Diana's Grove in Missouri. It was the most enriching, life-changing, magical sabbat celebration I could have ever hoped for.

Thursday afternoon, I flew up to Chicago. On the plane, I was reading the book Affluenza about our society's unhealthy addiction to stuff and I've been giving great thought to the impact I have upon Gaia in my own life, so it should have come as no surprise that shortly after arriving at my Chicago condo for the night, my iPhone died a sudden death and couldn't be revived. The message there wasn't lost on me, so I happily did without until my return here yesterday. (I was pleasantly surprised to find that pay phones do still exist.)

Friday morning, I lugged my bags to the bus stop, transferred to the train, and rode to the airport to meet up with Sarah. As luck would have it, I found her in the terminal without the use of a phone. That was pretty awesome. :D We flew together into St. Louis and were picked up there by another woman driving to the Grove. The four hour drive to the Grove passed companionably with a stop at Subway for sandwiches. The weather was gloriously warm and sunny. We felt pretty lucky and intrigued to learn that there were only 15ish women registered for the weekend, compared to the crowds of 40-50 I've encountered in the past. We were assigned our own cabin together, with three bunkbeds, so it felt like outrageous luxury and privacy. There was one woman and her dog in the cabin adjacent to ours, but really we felt like we had the run of the place...acres and acres and acres of solitude. The afternoon gave us a couple hours to walk the land together, wade bravely into (and out of!) the icy spring run-off of the rocky creek, visit some of the Goddess shrines/altars on the land, and otherwise sink our roots into that sacred land. At 5pm, we hiked up the hill to the Mystery School House, pinned on our name badges, and circled in the Great Room with the other participants. It was an intimate, warm group. Just over a dozen of us women, aged 12-70?, mothers with their daughters, maidens, mothers, crones. A few of the women I'd met in visits years past and it was wonderful to see and hug them again. Others, I hadn't met, were so kind and open-hearted, it seemed we'd known each other forever.

There were a couple themes to the weekend: the courage of a seedling dreaming in the dark as it stretches towards the uncertain welcome of the spring world and the sacrifice of Persephone returning out of love and service to the world of her Mother, Demeter. We are the Seeds, we are Persephone, we are Demeter.

After introducing ourselves, talking about the weekend and the science of composting outhouses, we split up into smaller support groups and took some time to talk about where we were at emotionally and what we expected from our time at the Grove. At 6:30pm, a communal dinner was served. We had time to hike back to the cabin under the bow moon before hauling back up for what had been billed as an 8:30pm Candlelit Storytelling in the Great Room. What began as a story morphed into a group ritual. There was drumming and dancing and impromptu elemental invocations. I have no conscious memory of what was said. (I should have journaled.) :)

That night, my sinus infection got worse and I froze about to death. I remember thinking that I needed to get out of my bunk and across the room to turn the gas heater up but I was shaking so badly the thought of throwing off the covers I did have seemed suicidal. ;) I did get up and piled on clothes, cranked up the heat, and slept better after that.

I woke up at dawn and took photos around the barn and meadow.

Around 10am, Sarah and I went up to the main house for a quick breakfast before our morning sessions. We talked a little bit about the astrological wheel and all the pairs of conflicting/related issues that spread across its spokes, the solstices and equinoxes that mark it into quarters. Another staff member, a poet and wordsmith, led us through a really neat writing activity. Here's how it worked: Poetry, A Unique Egg Hunt, and other Wordy Bits... )

During the afternoon, the main house was host to some crafting opportunities. The big kitchen table was surrounded by women working on creating collages with their word strips from the earlier session, decorating magical, inspirational eggs, and coaxing the sun onto that sunprint paper. I had no idea what to do with the eggs. On the one hand, I'm vegan and I don't buy or use eggs. On the other hand, it is their big ritual tradition for the sabbat, decorating and exchanging blessing eggs. If I didn't create one, then someone else wouldn't get one. I was totally at a loss for how to proceed gracefully and within my own comfort. The giant bowl of undecorated eggs on the bowl decided me. I did my decorations and when the time came, collected my egg from someone else, absorbed the message of the blessing, and slipped it back into the basket before I left.

At 4:30pm, after a glorious hot shower, we met to plan the evening's ritual. I was randomly sorted into the group to invoke Water, very happily, and we laughed our way through some borderline crazy considerations for how to do that. In the end, we had half a plan and then made it up on the spot later with perfectly acceptable results. ;)

At the last Circles of Support meeting, I cried like a baby. I'd been mentally calculating how many days of my life I could expect to spend on that land at Diana's Grove. When the question came around to me in our small support group of how the day had gone, I surprised myself by completely losing it. I was mourning the loss of it, the loss of my daydreams where I could bring my daughter, my daughters with me to this land. I felt like I'd come to the party about fifteen years too late and I just felt the loss of that passing in one painful rush.

Dinner was at 6pm and then we had a few hours to get dressed for ritual.

And the ritual! It was perfect. The best part was that release of the energy after an increasingly fast, wild, joyous singing She Changes Everything She Touches and Everything She Touches, Changes. We were in the dark, our breathless faces lit by the candles we each held, as the chant ended and we all took a huge, collective, grinning breath. Looking around at the faces of all those women, beautiful, wild, joyous women of all ages, gave me perfect faith in humanity's goodness, the power of the Craft, and my own divine ability to make a difference. One of the staff members looked over us all and proclaimed us something like "Beautiful, powerful women all. Changers. You have the power to change eternity, to change the world." We are all seeds dreaming ourselves up through the dark, close to making our colorful entrance to the world of light, of spring. :) Sarah and I went back to the cabin and stayed up talking long into the night. The ritual had unlocked something in both of us, the door to the path of our lives. Torrents of words about where we each suddenly knew we were headed and tarot cards to reinforce that knowing with images. Witchy slumber party par excellence. :D

Sunday morning, we woke up to a steady, icy rain and the reminder that it truly takes courage to sprout in spring. The weather isn't always welcoming! My sinus infection shrugged off the 15-whatever-days of antibiotics and I was back to having pockets stuffed with tissues and tins of cough drops and drinking all the water I could stand. The damp wasn't helping me feel like less of a troll, I can tell you that! :) I've been told I'm not contagious at this point, but it was still hard not to feel like a plague. Very shy and sniffly. :)

At 10am, after breakfast, we had a tarot session with the Grove's resident Tarot expert. Really, every tarot session with her brings up new techniques, new insights, new wisdom. What is it I'm planting to bloom in my life? Every woman had her own answer--mine was the 4 of Wands. Funny as that's what I've gotten every time I've been at the Grove. Another portal to cross, another new life born from the work there.

We exchanged eggs, hugs, good wishes and had lunch before packing up and saying our goodbyes to the damp, daffodil brightened spots we'd come to love again. Long drive to the airport in the rain, rain delays, long walks at the airports with leaden, clothes-stuffed bags. In Chicago, I took the train back to the condo for a quick sleep before my morning flight back to Florida. I decided, fortunately, to take a midnight shower before falling into bed where I found, to my horror, a tick dug tenaciously into my shoulderblade.


AAAAAAAAAGGGH!

(It's okay now. Provided I don't get Lyme. But really, I kinda freaked and when the suffocate-them-with-goop-so-they'll-let-go didn't work, I just used all my strength and ripped the little bugger out of my skin. My immune system will have to dispose of his little mouthparts.)

AAAAAGH!

Ahem. Yes. I've had two ticks in the whole of my life and they've both come from the state of Missouri. Missouri, I'm looking at you! ;D

But hitchhiker notwithstanding, it was an incredible weekend.

Photos here... )
Lots more photos at my Flickr page.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (windysmile)
We had a surprisingly great weekend in New Jersey. One of our friends, a naval aviator named Trey, had surprised us all when he showed signs of settling down and sent us invitations to his Jersey shore wedding at Point Pleasant Beach. Daniel and I were both feeling iffy about things--not too wild about going to New Jersey and unhappy to find Graeme barred from the festivities. Things turned out, like New Jersey, to be much better than advertised. :D

Friday morning, we flew into Newark and immediately most of the things I'd heard about New Jersey proved true. (And this is really saying something given the city that *I* live in. ;) ) The baggage claim was full of signs warning travelers of thieves and shysters. The bathroom stalls had warning signs, too, which I jokingly translated to Daniel as "Watch your ass!". Across the water from the New York City skyline, Newark looks like an industrialized wasteland pouring all its resources, paying outrageous tribute, across high power lines to the City and into which NYC exports all its pollution and filth. It was the single most depressing drive we've ever made. At some point, when we were no longer traveling parallel to New York City, the scenary made a drastic change from industrial wasteland to autumn wonderland. Maybe New Jersey isn't the armpit that I'd been led to believe. Maybe, just maybe, there is still something natural and spectacular to it. We felt relief and a glimmer of hope.

Photos and text about our weekend, including the best vegan food of my life, under the cut. )
The reception at the nearby Yacht Club was where things felt celebratory. It was a lavish event. We spent about an hour and a half at a cocktail hour with a full bar and dozens and dozens and dozens of appetizers available. They rang a little chime at 6:30pm and we all processed up a flight of stairs to the dining room where the five course meal was served between rounds of dancing on the dance floor.

Frank Sinatra was cued up first. Daniel and I went out to show off our Fox Trot skills (we haz them!) and smiled and laughed and flirted like we'd been the ones just married. There were club hits and old classics and it was unlike most every wedding I've been to in that everyone danced between every course. Grandmas jumped to Black Eyed Peas and the flower fairy waltzed. A ring of Navy pilots kept things going with silly breakdancing and grandstanding when things threatened to quiet down. It was really, really fun.

We got back to the hotel around 10:00pm in a downpour, racing through the parking lot in my heels and laughing heartily. Graeme was in the room, happily playing with Raquel's son. We packed, went to bed early, and headed back home early, early in the morning on Sunday.

(Where we spent the day at the park near our house, at the flea market by the airport, and at our newest Whole Foods which is billed as the largest ever built.) Hello, locally made vegan pumpkin donut holes. Hello, vegan takeout cool case. I love you! :D

Great weekend. :)

IMG_2961
Back home in time to enjoy a perfect autumn day!
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (beachcouple)
Thank you, everyone, for your kind birthday wishes. Yesterday we managed to both celebrate my birthday and fly home from Florida. Perhaps the best gift I received was a night sleeping in my own bed while dreaming that I had been given $15,000 to spend on gifts for people at an antiques/thrift store. Pure wish fulfillment. Gifts for everyone! :D You have no idea how long it takes to spend $15,000 when the items you're buying are all one-of-a-kind and only $1-$3 each. For-ever. Like, eight hours of sleep hardly got me anywhere. :D

We caravanned down to Panama City Beach's shoreline with my Mom and her boyfriend to say our goodbyes late morning before driving the seventy-some-odd miles west to the airport at Fort Walton Beach. Along the way, Graeme napped until a very fortuitous awakening as we were passing the picturesquely unreal town of Seaside, Florida. It looked like something out of The Truman Show with its perfect white sand beaches, ultra-green town square, and everyone looking well-dressed and riding on colorful beach cruiser bikes.

We parked our car and walked across the street to a colorful taco bar. It was the best veggie taco of my entire life. It was cold and sunny, we were wearing every layer of warm clothes we had, but well worth the sensation of sitting outside with the rustle of sea oats and the subtle sounds of the sea just over the dunes. After lunch, we walked down there and marveled at the beach. Daniel says Seaside has been named, time and time again, as the best beach in the world. I don't know how true that is, but I believe it. I've never seen such soft, fine-grained sand. It was all uniform, too, sparkles of white quartz pouring through my hands like sugar. Unbelievable. The water there was still and shallow as a bathtub. (Though cold and windy--it was no day to be swimming unless you were a polar bear or a particularly enthusiastic 8 year-old boy on vacation.) I've never been on another beach like that...I wanted to roll around in the sand, take bucketfuls of it home, roll around some more. It had an addictive, sensual, cleansing energy to it.

We lost track of time, to be honest, and had to scramble and pray the rest of the way to the airport. We did get checked in with a few minutes to spare and had an uneventful two flights and short layover in Memphis on our way home.

We got in around 10pm and Graeme went right to bed. I heard an outrageous amount of paper rustling downstairs and thought Daniel was reading the newspaper with quite a lot of emotion. I came down to find him huddled in his office over some gifts and big sheets of pink wrapping paper. A few minutes later, he arrived with great pride and a couple wrapped gifts and sang a very quiet rendition of Happy Birthday to me. :D

(He'd snuck into a Life is Good store at an airport somewhere and got me a pair of their cute girl boxers, a little hoodie, and a girly pink hat. :D)

Very happy. :D I'm drinking a mug of the Jasmine Dragon/Rooibos Tropical blended loose tea that Sarah and Jenn got me for my birthday, watching the sun stream through the stained glass heart I bought *myself* for my birthday, and am just feeling centered and cleansed and thoroughly blessed by life. :)

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More Photos at Seaside, Florida here... )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (outdoorsy)
Friday, our last full day in New York, we packed up and headed to Ithaca, a Boulder-esque college town at the base of one of the Finger Lakes. It is one of the most spectacularly situated towns I've ever seen, surrounded by waterfalls and picturesque forests. More importantly, though, it is now home to my dearest, much admired, thoroughly crushed upon [livejournal.com profile] joe_fisher.

We got into town with a light rain falling. Daniel made some phone calls while Rhiannon and I took Graeme and all of my oversized, breakable purchases to a shipping store and then combing through a very nice crystal shop. (I got two tumbled eggs of labradorite, a bright pebble of apatite, a spar of black tourmaline, and a couple brightly sparkling herkimer diamonds.)

Daniel finished his phone calls and we went for lunch at Moosewood Restaurant, a place I've only dreamed of eating at after flipping through all their famous veggie cookbooks. It was very cozy and comfy and nommy. Every meal at the restaurant has a different small menu, every day. As we left at the end of lunch, we saw the staff seated at a table with a bottle of wine, planning out the dinner menu. The foods were all very homecooked and accessible. It was a little disappointing, because everything was something I could make at home without much fuss, but it was still tasty and fun to be somewhere so famous in the vegetarian world. I had a cup of mushroom barley soup, half of a hummus pita sandwich, a mug of Ithaca chai, and a warm and happy apple and cherry baked dessert with a crumble topping.

After lunch, we were still waiting for Joe to get done with his chores so he could join us, so we walked to the nearby Ithaca Commons, a nice pedestrian mall like Boulder's Pearl Street, and went to Autumn Leaves, a nice two-story used bookstore. Daniel and Graeme stayed behind outside Moosewood, where they played with leaves and sticks and tree planter dirt for about two hours. I found a couple great pagan books, an astrology book geared towards women, and even a couple children's picture books that work well for my pagan parenting purposes. :)

The rain had slacked off to a misty afternoon when we heard from Joe and made plans to meet in his neighborhood, a short walk to Ithaca Falls.

Joe is wonderful. He has the best energy I've ever been around, I get a contact high just being near him. He's the kind of guy who seems too good to be real and yet is. He gives the best hugs, like he's trying to pull you through his ribs and into the warmth of his core, and he is just golden. Good, funny, smart, capable, joyous, warm. He's the best. I'm worried about things like washing dishes and planning a SpiralScouts event and he's off doing superhuman feats in his daily life like building homes with his bare hands and teaching people how to convert their cars to biodiesel. He is a Renaissance man of the first order--just as polished in philosophy and carpentry as he is in baking and biology. A whirlwind of goodness and energy and accomplishment.

He, acting as our tour guide, squished into our car with us and took us to Ithaca Falls and on a longer hike to Taughannock Falls in the hush of twilight. Both were extraordinary places to see. After hiking the last, we drove to the local Greenstar Co-op for dinner before parting ways and having to drive back to Greenwood.

Photos from our trip to Ithaca. )

On Saturday, we packed up and cleaned the house and drove to a mall near the airport in Buffalo to meet Sarah and Jenn. We walked through Teavana, watched Rhiannon eat some burritos in the food court, and then took her to the airport for her flight home. I miss her already. It was such a luxury to get to spend an entire week together.

After Sarah had a meeting with her tattoo artist, we met back up (with her sister, Laura) at Amy's Place for a farewell brunch. Mmm. Their vegan French toast is the bomb. We had a great time and it was especially nice to get to spend some time with Laura while we were in New York. She's so nice and so funny, really a cool person to hang out with. It was a fabulous meal together.

We shuffled out to the parking lot, hugged and hugged and hugged some more, and then drove off into the sunset, so to speak, to our flight home and luggage hauling and back into our Chicago life.

Thank you, everyone, for the memories. New York treated us well and our friends made it that much more perfect of a vacation. :) <3

You can view more photos from our travels at My Flickr page or at Sarah and Jenn's Flickr page.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (outdoorsy)
Thursday morning, we packed up the car with snacks and our portable DVD player (the baby pacifier to end all baby pacifiers) and drove about sixty country miles to Watkins Glen, this amazing little town at the base of one of the Finger Lakes and home to lots of water falls and water-etched gorges and cliff faces. Graeme fell asleep in the carrier and we took the Gorge Trail of Watkins Glen State Park up to the top--something like 800 stone steps along the way, up about six hundred feet in elevation and gorgeous with all the waterfalls and slate trails. Most of the stairs were wet natural slate without any handrails, so it was a bit treacherous carrying Graeme up all of them. I was definitely feeling winded by the time we made our final ascent to the park entrance at the top.

Daniel offered to hike down without us, collect the car, and meet us at the parking lot at this top entrance. There was a big playground at the top shaded with oak trees, so Rhi and I played with Graeme for about an hour while we waited for his return. There was a world of busy squirrels and chipmunks running around collecting a bounty of acorns. We divided our attention between watching them and playing on the playground equipment with Graeme. Daniel got back and played with us some more, getting Graeme nice and worn out before we had to load back into the car. :)

Photos from the Gorge Trail and the Playground )
Rhiannon used her Garmin-foo and veggie intuition to find a local restaurant for us to have lunch. (Wildflower Cafe). Based on the name alone, we bet it would have veg options and, lo and behold, it did. :D (Though it seemed like Watkins Glen was pretty vegan-friendly in general, being home to Farm Sanctuary and all.)

We sat and had lunch and then shopped at a few of the cute little boutiques and antiques haunts downtown in Watkins Glen. I found, in one, a pagan horse statue. ;) It is a garish, silver knock-off of an older Breyer Western Horse, but the saddle has little pentacles and snakes. It was too goofy to pass up. ;)

Pagan horse photos. )

After lunch, Graeme conked out in the car. We drove along the lake past a ton of wineries, stopping at one so Rhiannon and Daniel could run in and sample some of the local vintages. The road curved home through farmland and forest and even past an Amish horse drawn wagon. It had been a beautiful day.
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (outdoorsy)
Monday morning, we were all determined to make the most of the day since it was Sarah and Jenn's last before heading home. Daniel, babysitter extraordinaire, watched Graeme some more so that the four of us girls could go thrift shopping in town. (We'd been passing the same roadside Salvation Army nightly and were determined to get there in the light of day.) The store was, to be fair, dismal. We each found a few good treasures but really, the pickings were slim for such a large store. We are some serious thrift shoppers, together we're a force to be reckoned with, so it seemed especially disappointing to be so excited about something that turned out so anticlimactic. We found an antiques mall nearby with a Garmin search and drove over to check it out. What looked like a small storefront was gigantic...an old three story department store downtown cluttered and packed with all kinds of beautiful things. We split up and spent hours combing the store's collections. The prices were very reasonable but I tried to resist since so much was breakable and I didn't have much in the way of luggage space. I made it to the third floor emptyhanded until I found the most beautiful handmade round broom, a true witch's broom, hanging in a shaft of light from the windows. The birds sang, the heavens opened, the price tag said $10 and I was sold. :D I also found a weighty metal bookend, a 1920s Egypt-styled one, well distressed and gorgeous for $3. That kinda broke the seal on shopping, so to speak, because I had to ship the broom home and if I was going to ship one thing, well it got that much easier to justify shipping more. :)

All of us were triumphant with our purchases. We hauled them back to the house where I got Graeme into the tub while Sarah and Rhiannon started work on our vegan farewell feast. We had dinner together in front of the TV, the girls trying to introduce me to The Neverending Story. (They had to leave shortly after dinner and Graeme was noisily uncooperative with the plan so they did not succeed. ;) ) Dinner was a big, delicious production. We had a winter squash and veggie stew, spinach risotto, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes, hearty slabs of bread with vegan margarine, and apple cider. There was also a no-bake chocolate peanut butter pie which we never ate and later were forced to cannibalize for parfaits. (The chocolate layer was yeck. Something wonky happened with the recipe.)

Sarah and Jenn had to pack up and drive home Monday night. Luckily, Rhiannon had been able to take the whole week off of work, so we were like peas and carrots. Happy together.

"Imagine me and you,
and you and me
no matter how you toss the dice
its meant to be
the only one for me is you
and you and me
so happy together!"


Excepting that I told her laughingly that she was mean and hurt her feelings or the time that she walked through our bedroom and saw me sleeping topless (I'm a cosleeping nursing mom, this is not unusual for me), mortifying her. Otherwise, yeah, peas and carrots. :)

Tuesday, she and I played with Graeme in the yard. We stalked honeybees, smelled flowers, sampled fruit from the backyard garden, gave the apple tree swing a try, and tried to teach Graeme things like tree climbing and apple picking and flower sniffing.

Farm Photos )

Our farewell the night before had been eased by the knowledge that we were going to drive to Buffalo Tuesday and meet Jenn and Sarah for dinner after work at Amy's Place, this great vegetarian diner. Our plans to get there early and explore Buffalo were derailed, though, when we discovered a big curving rod of metal puncturing our rental car's tire. With two air refills, a couple irritatingly unhelpful phone calls to Avis Roadside assistance, and the sheer luck of finding a mechanic willing to plug the tire for $10, we got on the road safely at last, switched the rental car out for another at the Buffalo airport, and cruised in just in time to make our dinner date.

(I ordered a vegan B.L.T--toasted wheat bread, vegan mayo, crisp lettuce, tomato, and thin slices of smoke-marinated tofu as well as a mustard and nutritional yeasty bowl of mac & "cheese" and a locally brewed cola. Daniel, Rhi, and I also got three orders of vegan french toast to heat up for breakfast the next day. Mmmm. :D)

After dinner, we caravanned to one of Sarah and Jenn's favorite thrift stores, a giant AmVets. I found some great vintage children's books, a toy measuring tape for Graeme, and a fun book on painting rocks for our SpiralScouts to play with. We, all of us, went home with a haul. :D

It was a great evening, especially fun to feel like we happened to live just a few hours from Sarah and Jenn and could do such pedestrian and joyful things as meet up for an after work meal or two.

Wednesday was rainy and Daniel had to get some work done. Rhi and I bundled the baby into the car and drove back to that fabulous antiques mall we'd been at the other day. I was already accepting that I'd have to ship things home, so I went back through (Graeme asleep in his carrier on my chest) with an eye to getting the things that I'd passed by regretfully the day before. We had another few hours of sheer pleasure eying everything in the place again, collecting a little basket of gifts for ourselves and our friends (though not, Sarah, the one you'd hoped we'd buy for you!). I found a few things like a crescent shaped offering bowl, a stained glass heart, and an autumn-themed salt and pepper set that I'd loved on first sight and a few things I'd somehow managed to overlook the first time. Once we'd had our purchases wrapped up, we took Graeme to the grocery store for lunch in their cafe and a little bit more shopping. Daniel had handwritten some directions to a local apple farm for us to visit. We finally found the unmarked dirt road it was on but the place looked not-open-to-visitors despite their many radio ads to the contrary. We didn't even stop, just stopped the car in the laser gaze of the workers in the yard, put the car into reverse, and headed home. ;) The orchard sold cider at the grocery store, so it was just as well. :)

Wednesday night, Rhiannon and I gadded around. We had food and curled up to watch episodes of So You Think You Can Dance and Glee together like the TV-loving girlfriends we are. :) It was perfect. :)
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (outdoorsy)
This past week, Daniel and I rented a hilltop farmstead in Greenwood, New York and shared it with our much-beloved friends [livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan, [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden, and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin. It was really a glorious week to be there--surrounded by vibrant autumn-bewitched forests, under the heady atmosphere of mist and fog and priceless blue skies. We had an entire week to tramp through the woods and down roads that saw a car (at most) a day. We drove through and visited the Finger Lakes region of New York, which is as beautiful a place as exists on earth. We had nommy vegan meals--both homemade and restauranted. We shopped and drank tea and watched satellite television and sniffed perfume and otherwise just experienced that rare treat of occupying the same space once again. :)

Saturday was our arrival day. Sarah and Jenn, who live near Buffalo, picked up Rhiannon earlier in the afternoon and headed out to the farm before dark. We, following behind by three or four hours, anxiously scanned the dark-as-dark-can-be gravel road for a sign of our house. Only two places broke up the isolation of that five mile seasonal trail--the caretaker's house and then ours another mile or so on. We have never been so happy to see pagan bumperstickers as we were that night. We'd found their car! We'd found the house! We'd survived the trip! :D

The place we stayed at was a seventy acre hay farm from the 1880s. On one side of the gravel road, a barn and outbuildings were gracefully deteriorating. On the other, on a bit of a rise, was the farmhouse surrounded by wildflowers, grapevines, and fruit trees. The house has been remodeled, a little bit, but maintained a lot of its historic charm. (And by charm, I mostly mean mice.) Both the living room and the kitchen had woodburning stoves. A comfortable mix of Amish furniture, comfy sofas, lace curtains and aged floral papers graced the rooms. In some areas, the wood floors were painted barn red with hand-designed flowers along the edges. It was comfortable like a worn-soft quilt. The black wrought iron woodstoves didn't seem out of place somehow next to the satellite television and the microwave. It was a nice balance. The downside to the house's character, its low price, and its remote location and outstandingly good views was the unexpected houseguests. Rhiannon's intended room, for some unknown reason, had a black fly infestation. They clung silently to the ceiling and cycloned noisily inside the lampshade at her bedside table. Mice scritched inside the walls at night and left tiny pepper black droppings on our kitchen counters. The place felt a little musty, moldy, something so that the air quality seemed not-good. I joked, not entirely not-serious, when we all came down with head colds and other assorted illnesses that we had the hanta virus. It was hard for me as a hostess not to focus on the bad things inherent in my choice of house, but as a vacationer, I couldn't have asked for more. We were in the middle of nowhere, rolling forested hill after hill draped in a changing autumn cloak, in a farm of our own, undisturbed, with chubby groundhogs and families of deer, chipmunks and squirrels and birds all making themselves at home in our backyard, right out the picture window.

Photos of the farm and the surrounding countryside. )

After reunion hugs, a quick house tour, and some sniffing and buying and trading of perfume oils (of which [livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan is the crafter of a new line that is awesomesauce), we girls piled into Sarah and Jenn's car and drove about twenty miles to a grocery store to stock up the house a little. We were lucky to find a store that had an organics/natural foods section, so all our vegan needs were met with ease. I remember that night's major victories came in the form of local apple ciders (including one made exclusively with honeycrisps!) and a round happy bread loaded with apple slices and raisins.

Between the four of us in the car, we had two Garmins and let me tell you, in the dark, it is still a wonder we got home. After some Garmin fails and turning around and taking of sketchy abandoned dirt trails under ominous canopies of trees, glowing animal eyes staring us down, making urban legend hooked hand jokes and otherwise huddling together and saying a few "Holy shit! I don't want to die out here!"s, we did indeed find ourselves back to the comforting lights of the house.

Sunday morning dawned damp and misty on our hilltop home. Graeme was up fairly early, so he and I went out to the yard's picnic table with our breakfast. He's a nature boy at heart. The entire week he was enamored with being outside where he could run around, inspect and sort gravel, collect leaves and pinecones, and just be a boy with sticks and rocks and all those best kinds of toys.

Once everyone else was awake, Sarah and Jenn, Rhiannon and I tramped down the hill road, veering off into the woods to chase creeks and mossbeds and mushrooms. It was the most perfect spot on earth, our very own forested world. We goofed and gaped and wandered and took a ton of pictures. :) Rhiannon looked especially funny in her Lord of the Rings green sweater tunic and oversized walking staff. :D There are photos of her on my flickr pole vaulting with it. Fun stuff. :)

Breakfast with Graeme and our woodland hike photos. )

After hiking back to the farm, we had all worked up a bearlike appetite. Rhiannon ([livejournal.com profile] rubymulligan) braved the kitchen, lampblacked her clothes, and whipped up the most nommy and comforting mushroom stroganoff. (Braggs + Tofutti Sour Supreme FTW). With that, a round of bread, a jug of cider and a big salad, we sat outside on the picnic table and had lunch al fresco. After Graeme's afternoon nap, we collected all our vegan cookbooks and hiked to the private pond to sit and hash out our big vegan feast plans for Monday. We piled back into Sarah's car and visited the grocery store, stocking up for serious this time before we headed back and I went to sleep early with Graeme.

It had been an awesome day on the farm. We had one left with [livejournal.com profile] mermaiden and [livejournal.com profile] willow_cabin before they had to drive home and get back to work. I'll continue that in my next post. :)

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My companions and our picnic lunch. :) <3
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (G&I)
Our mother/son Alaskan cruise experiences refuse to be corralled into a linear account. They are bubbling and collaging together into something more spiritual, abstract, and dreamlike. The thought of leaving so much untold bothers me, though, because my memory is so shoddy without a point by point blog entry to refer back to later. So...I don't know quite where to go.

You can start here on our Flickr site where I have 170 photos from our trip.

Here, from September 2006, is an entry where I talk about the same cruise itinerary that I took with Daniel in our more adventurous, childless days.

I was glad that I'd been on that same cruise before so I didn't feel as distraught when toddler-needs prevented me from doing certain things. Because of Graeme's sleep schedule and interests, we didn't attend any of the shows, restaurant seatings, or other cruising entertainments. There was no fancy meals, no live music, no late nights. The first night onboard set the tone when he conked out in the room for the night by 5:30pm, just an hour after we'd set sail! Luckily, the room was perfectly suited for long hours spent in it. It was comfy and spacious and had a private balcony to deliver the sights for me even when Graeme wasn't interested. When I wasn't taking photos or using my binoculars to scan the seas for whales, I was able to relax and read books or watch videos on my laptop. I had so much time to read, in fact, that I was over-the-moon excited to find books for 75 cents at a Salvation Army in one of the ports to restock my supply. There was a strange quasi-historical fiction bend to all of them, part interests, part sheer coincidence, that contrasted sharply with my ultra-modern surroundings.

Cruising Booklist
The White Queen by Phillipa Gregory
The Other Queen by Phillipa Gregory
The Raging Quiet by Sherryl Jordan
Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor, England, 1544 by Kathryn Lasky
The Goose Girl by Shannon Hale


The ship transported us where we wanted to go and became a comforting homebase for our adventures. The Market Cafe's anytime buffet suited our changing schedule and provided an endless supply of bread rolls, chick peas, sliced fruits, steamed veggies, and unremarkable curries. Room service delivered covered dishes and the makings for hot tea while I sat out on the balcony with my books and binoculars. In port, we sought out local coffee shops for quick meals and kept Luna/Lara/Odwalla bars in my pack for instant snacks. None of it was gourmet, or even good, but it was toddler-friendly, convenient, and totally acceptable.

Within a day, Graeme had learned his way around the ship. It was astounding, really, that he could find our cabin when there were hundreds and hundreds of identical doorways on floor after floor. He navigated the elevators (counting the floors as they showed up on the display) and the decks with ease. Quickly, his interests narrowed to a few key places: the video arcade (where a handful of driving simulators caught and held his attention), the Under 2 Zoo (where children his age could play with their parents--essentially an unused lounge room with an awesome view and some uninspiring toys to play with), the Photo Gallery (where we played the "can you find the picture of Mama?" game), the Promenade Deck (where we could run around the entire ship's deck), the Library (where children's books could be read), the Buffet (where every staff member knew and welcomed him), the Gift Shop (where a steep entrance ramp provided much running and jumping fun), and finally Home (the cabin, where Blue's Clues, Sesame Street, and Yo Gabba Gabba! are available 24/7 on Mama's laptop).
Behind here, for the morbidly curious like me, an actual account of how much everything cost. Because really, that's a big secret in the cruising world and I'm gauche enough to tell you. )

What we paid for wasn't the cruise ship amenities, but the opportunity to see the otherworldly beauty of Southeast Alaska and to live on the sea, sunrise to sunset, moonrise to moonset, for seven glorious days. There are colors in Alaska that no camera can capture adequately--the teal turquoise brilliance of glacier-silted waters, the blue-black of stark fjord cliffs, the impossible blue at the heart of icebergs glittering in the sun. There are sounds that spoke directly to my soul--the huffing breath of a giant humpback whale, the cry of hundreds of seagulls cycloning over a bait ball, the eerily comforting sounds of a ship curving itself over waves, the creak of the metal fittings and paneled ceilings, the whine of the wind through the gaps in a door, the bone-finger tapping of wooden hangars against the inside of the wardrobe. We lived in a world of waves and mist, more often than not alone, experiencing a place where nature still is obviously in control, the landscape touched only occasionally by human intervention. We were in this giant metal ship, a trophy of human ingenuity, and yet that Sea Lady in her gray satin gown could have squished us like a pea at any point. How thrilling and appropriate, small and vulnerable, part of the cycle as we ought to be. One magnet I got from a local artist reads, "Life is Good. Death is not Bad." Somehow, living that plugged in did make the other side of the bargain of life seem accessible and good in some way I can't explain. The exquisite beauty of an embodied life as a transitory experience.

The animals! Oh, the animals! We had pods of dolphins crossing our bow, escorting us along at speeds of something like 18 knots. My photos never captured our companions more than just a grainy Big-Foot-esque bit of footage. They weren't there for the photography. When I looked with my eyes I saw incredible things and when I fumbled and fiddled with my camera, missed almost all. You must trust me then, that the dark sinuous form of humpback whales curving from air to water was breathtaking. Everyone on board had their own whale stories--chance sightings as we barreled along. A spout out the window at breakfast, a tail waving as they towel-dried their hair in the room, the sound of their breath in the dark at night. Private, personal visits to us--nothing showy, nobody stampeding to the rail to see them. Three sea gulls, flying low to our wake, kept me company for what seemed to be the entire cruise--always just off our starboard side, straight out from my balcony windows.

The shore excursions were such lovely opportunities to see more. In Skagway, we took an old narrow-gauge railroad forty miles up the pass to Canada, following the route of desperate goldseekers. In Prince Rupert, a First Nations boat took us out to see more whales in some remote and exquisite bays and shorelines. In Juneau, what I'd intended to enjoy as a hokey 'pan for gold' excursion turned out to be the chance to pick up gorgeous rocks along a wild and scenic creek bed and to pan its finger-numbingly cold sands for gold flakes--successfully.

Our trip was beautifully bookended by days in Seattle visiting Daniel's sister, Deborah, and our soon-to-be-a-teenager niece, Sequoia. Happy long summer days together--picking wild blackberries for cobbler, visiting the farmer's market, padding barefoot through their new home, laughing at the park as Graeme swings and says, "Weeeeee!".

Select photos from our days on the sea. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (joy)
Sunday morning, Jenn treated us to the most fabulous vegan breakfast of my life--banana french toast with margarine and syrup and fresh picked blackberries from their backyard. YUM! Seriously, the vegan food gods might also be the practical joke gods because they were following our every move in New York. :D

As a birthday surprise for Sarah, who turned twenty-five last week, Jenn announced our big secret plans--we were going to visit Farm Sanctuary one of two farms run by the animal rights organization of the same name to provide shelter for animals rescued from factory farming conditions and to educate the public about those horrors. Not only was it this vista of red barns, rolling greenery, and beautiful animals, but it also was a haven for us as animal-lovers, too. Each of these hundreds of animals, ducks to cows, goats, sheep, chickens, turkeys, geese, pigs, had managed to secure for themselves a Black Beauty happily and safely-ever-after story. They'd gone through the most brutal conditions, bodily mutilations, at the hands of humans and somehow were still there being loving and accessible, approaching eagerly any newcomer with requests for pats and scritches. A drop in the bucket, right, considering the billions of their fellow animals that are slaughtered here each year, but it was like a safe place to love. I could brush the flies off the face of that bull, laying contentedly in the grass of his pasture, without having the slightest bittersweet fear for what would become of him. It was clear. He'd live there, die there, and be buried there. I can't describe it well enough. It was like a respite for me as a vegan where all the food around me was vegan, where all the animals around me were treated with the utmost of love and respect, and where the volunteers that massive workforce all shared my values. I could completely relax there, let down my guard, and feel peaceful.

We went on a tour of all the buildings and fields, made a lot of new animal friends, and then meandered back to the gift shop where I bought just about every junky-junk vegan convenience food they had on offer from Crispy Cat candy bars to a school lunch reminiscent pizza. We nuked some of our food in the staff microwave, had lunch there, stuffed a decadent S'Mores on top of all that pizza, and then piled back into the car for the drive home.

The long summer days really helped us get a ton of stuff done!

We drove the couple hours home, stopped at the grocery store for some picnic foods, and even visited a thrift store. At home, we had a great little picnic in their backyard before getting ready for Sarah and I's big planned ritual.

Sarah and I always talk about the ritual we should be doing anytime we are habitating in the same place at the same time. It never happens. We were technically in ritual together at Diana's Grove but that was a big group thing that neither one of us was really facilitating, so it doesn't count. How would our personal ritual styles mesh, if at all? This time, we planned things a little more, including me bringing some of my altar items so we could combine tools and scheduling Sunday night to devote to magickal whatnot.

Sarah and Jenn are the artists and magic-workers behind the Glamourkin jewelry line and I'm, besides their friend, a huge fan of their spells and invocations as art jewelry. So, imagine the joy and pressure my crafihobbled self felt when Sarah invited me to help her make my own Glamourkin pendant to charge in ritual and invoke something new into my life. It was an awesome magical process. I don't know how they do it because making one pendant, with a ton of help, took hours. :D But still, clumpy glue-job by yours-truly and all, I ended up with the perfect, soul-truth pendant. :)

It was late night when we went out to the dark and starry backyard, set up our joint altar, and cast the circle. It was perfect, acting together, finding and delivering the messages each had for the other, journeying out to the stars within ourselves. I felt filled up, reunited, powerful to the very edges of my being, aware, beloved. The silver-blue heatless fire of the Underworld poured into me and all my doubts about not being fiery enough were put to rest. I have a different source of fire and it is perfectly proportioned out for me. Within me is no mistake, no loss, no lacking. I am perfect for the Work I am meant for and supported by those, like Sarah, with whom my Soul has journeyed so often with.

I am complete. I am divine. I am loved. I am good.

What messages. Unfortunately, the Universe-at-large wasn't quite done with me until Monday morning when I encountered Universe Practical Joke #4. I'd had the perfect weekend. I'd hugged Sarah and Jenn goodbye and was prepared for my leisurely, nap-filled hour and a half flight home. I got through the security checkpoint and had sat to retie my running shoe when suddenly, like wet paper, my worn jeans separated in a giant gaping line and my thigh, crotch, butt went on display for all to see. It was like my jeans were trying to rip themselves into a denim bikini bottom by separating the entire pants-leg. HOLY SHIT, YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME! MULLIGAN! I CALL A MULLIGAN! DREAM SEQUENCE CAN END NOW! Only, it didn't and I was stuck without any change of clothes or even so much as a spare sweater or something to tie over myself. I tried not to draw attention to myself and my plight as I gathered my bags, patted my butt to see how much of it was still covered, and walked with a silent tattoo plea of "Make me invisible, make me invisible, make me invisible" all the way to the bathrooms five or so gates away. Thankfully, there was nobody in there so I could really examine myself from all angles in the full-length mirror at the entrance. Okay, so it was better than I'd feared. It hadn't started to rip up the back or the front, where the heavy zipper and pockets preserved me, but otherwise it was pretty absurdly obscene. Someone might wear jeans like that as a ripped fashion, but they'd have to be hookers who'd gotten snagged on a barbed wire fence when trying to escape a pimp. There was only one hope for me--I'd have to rock it like it was intentional. Otherwise, everyone would stare if I went all embarrassed and announced it to everyone that my pants had ripped like whoa and thank god I wasn't wearing super attention-getting underwear but my super white skin against the denim blue was beacon to the eye enough.

I was laughing, but it was definitely tinged with a "Why me? Please stop this!" whimper. Well, at least I could tell everyone on LiveJournal. I took some photos which are too absurdly embarrassing, in retrospect, to show here, too. ;) So I left the safety of the bathroom, instead of attempting to will myself to die in it, and walked down to my gate. I had a lot of time before boarding to think about all the ways my pants could continue to split and the long, long, long walk in Chicago that awaited me. Shit. I had to do something. So I sat down with my backpack to think, and placed a few "God, please help me" phonecalls the Underworld and finally decided that I'd walk to the end of the terminal in hopes of finding some touristy sweatpants. Near the very end, with little hope left, I saw a sign for a store called, "Everything ASAP" and that joking trickster giggle sounded, "Even pants!" in my ear. And, thank merciful practical joking gods, there was a giant pair of men's sweatpants hanging on a rack in the back that, once purchased and cinched up, rolled down, rolled up, became the most comfortable fuzzy comforting ass-covering I've every had the joy to wear. ;) Oh sweatpants, I love you! I don't think I've ever been more grateful for a piece of clothing ever. I wanted to roll around and dance in those big, baggy "BUFFALO" sweatpants.

It was a great weekend. Perfect, really, right down to my pants-fail and heroic recovery. :D

Photos. )
windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
Saturday morning dawned sweetly with soft light blooming in the bedroom. Jenn and Sarah had insisted that I get their bedroom, choosing to sleep with their menagerie of pets on an air mattress in the living room while I was all snug and dreaming in their room. So I slept the best I have in years and they probably slept the worst. :D :/ Oh, noes! That's just the kind of friends they are.

Their home reflects them so well. It is decorated with sentiment. Even their backyard still holds reminders of their wedding--silk floral petals nestled and fading in the grass. Perhaps most humbling, so many gifts I've given them over the years are displayed with pride of place in every room. They've collected together the love they share for each other, the love for their families, the love for their friends and it all surrounds them in this little happy home. What a place to have my weekend retreat, to refuel and fill up and reconnect. All that good energy was better than any spa treatment could have been. :D

So Saturday, after a tour of their backyard paradise, we loaded up into the car with some Luna bars and headed off through the misty farmlands to Lily Dale, a Spiritualist town of the late 19th century that is, even today, populated by a large and vocal number of mediums and psychics. We arrived, like the Partridge Family, in matching light skirts and flip-flops to a sudden torrential downpour.

Universe Practical Joke #2 was that I'd packed, as a last minute impulse, my hooded raincoat. Leaving the house and considering the overcast skies, I'd asked if I should run back to get it. Sarah said "No", I think, but mostly I nixed the idea myself because I was both too lazy to negotiate the pet gates again and too vain to consider pairing my purple and lilac coat with my emerald and gold skirt. So, obviously, from the moment we arrived it was ominously dark and dumping buckets of chill rain. Within a few minutes, many of which were spent huddling under the uncertain shelter of a fire station overhang, we were soaked and freezing cold. We met up with Sarah's best friend Maddie and her sister, Laura, in a crystal shop called "Bargain Outlet" or something and I asked myself wryly if they'd have any bargain umbrellas. We shopped for longer than necessary, just to stay out of the rain, and just as we were leaving I discovered they did have some bargain umbrellas displayed incongruously with the tumbled gemstones. Only $4, too! What a bargain! So then the minute we abandoned the shop to dash through the rain elsewhere, I discovered just how shitty a $4 umbrella can be. I got what I asked for though! (And soaked, still.) I was, fortunately, in on the joke. It was really funny in a sopping, freezing, skirts-stuck-to-your-legs, flip-flops ruined by mud kind of way.

Slowly meandering through the quaint and colorful town had lost some of its appeal. Instead, we dashed and splashed to some vendor tents, had lunch at a conveniently veggie-burgered cafe, and then arrived in time to sit in on a Spiritual meeting.

The meeting, emphasized as a religious ceremony, was held indoors at an auditorium. The audience/participants settled into rows of folding chairs, in various stages of damp and soaked. Up front, a handful of mediums took turns "serving Spirit" by offering messages from the spirits they saw hanging around. While we were a party of five, none of us were chosen to be read. We'd arrived kinda late and were seated in the back, so maybe that accounted for it, but I desperately wanted to be read. I also could hardly hear so far back. I was on the edge of my chair, stretching to hear, yearning to be selected. It was interesting, though. At one point, I thought I should pull my Grandma Jane through to me, in hopes that it would get one of the mediums' attention. I concentrated and then she was there, sitting in the empty chair to my right, companionably listening to the medium. A latecomer, a guy in a raincoat, breezed in and sat on her, really indignant with that, she started and laughed, gave me a hug and took off. I guess I didn't need the medium to give me a message. I know she loves me. I know she was there.

After the meeting, the weather took pity on us, bedraggled and cold children. The sun came out in patches, drying our skirts and hair, allowing us to walk down to the lakefront to talk and swing our feet in the water. Laura, sacrificing comfort in the name of our entertainment, ended up wading fully clothed and chest deep through the water. It should have been obvious given her sister, but she proved to be the absolute cat's pajamas, the bee's knees.

We piled into the car and drove just a bit outside of Lily Dale to a psychic fair that was being held at the Fellowships of the Spirit. They had $10 ten minute readings with a roomful of random psychics and mediums, so we each sat down for one. I was unnerved by my psychic. She was in the back of the room, without a client, watching the door intently and practically staring me down. It was intimidating to choose her and walk back there, though she was certainly nice enough when I arrived and spent a lot more than the 10 minutes talking with me. I'm a skeptic, really, when it comes to paid psychics. I believe everyone can develop their psychic abilities but I also believe that anyone can cleverly, vaguely make stuff up in order to seem more psychic than they are. I think she showed some sense of who I am, said some things I agree with, and in other places seemed a bit off of truth. I don't know. Some of it is embarrassment. I don't take compliments well. So what she said, with that grain of salt, was:

Watching you walk up, I saw you had two spirit guides protecting you, one man and one woman, very tall like the Masai. I wanted you to know they were there.

You and your friends (Jenn and Sarah), when you walked in the room had such energy together. The whole place came alive. I can tell you that the three of you create a whole. You have different interests and you are each your own person, but together you are very good for each other. I get the sense you didn't grow up together which is good, you would have fought but together now as adults they are very good for you.

I see you as a very earthy type. You have your feet on the ground and a clear vision of where you're headed. Obviously, life takes you on detours to learn, but you'll always keep coming back to that path. In the next few months, you'll veer off a bit to observe something in the pagan community near you, to collect information, but you'll ultimately have your initial feelings about it confirmed and you'll move back onto your original course. You are the outsider observing the group.

Your husband loves you, you know. You have this big Valentine heart I can see around you. He loves you so much and he's very supportive of you. In the next few months, someone with long dark hair, a mustache, medium-height, someone you already know or may come to know will try to pull the two of you apart. He'll befriend you or your husband with the goal of luring you away, so be aware. You've got the intuition to avoid the problem, but trust it.

Your son is so cute! And so smart. So smart! Understand sometimes you'll need to sit back and say, "Just go ahead" when he wants to clear out the cabinets. He's exploring and it is because he's so smart.

Soon you'll have a choice about whether to have or adopt another child. I don't think you're pregnant now, though I suppose you could be. Either way, the decision will come soon. The pregnancy, whoever has the child, would have a rough patch but will ultimately turn out okay if you relax into it and let go. The child is a daughter, another brilliant child who'd keep up with her brother. What one doesn't know, the other does. They're so smart, with so much energy, you'll have her and you'll say, "Enough!" and have just the two children, your boy and a girl.

Your husband complements you. What you're good at, he isn't. What he's good at, you aren't. It is not a soulmates thing, I don't believe in all that, but he's very good for you"


I sorta closed down a bit on her earthy/set path talk, but now that it has sat a few days I understand it. Just as I shied away from the knowledge that I was on the Straight, not the Bent or Crooked energetic path, the Red Ray, so I also don't always claim what I am. But I am on the straight path and always have been. I've always had a keen sense of self, an unshakeable conviction in my own thoughts, and an overpowering sense of right and wrong for me. I cannot be turned from what I think is right, where I want to go, which does seem to be that straight set path that I do, though only briefly, flutter away and back to now and again. It is possible I'm pregnant, though unlikely, and I will be going back to the OB/GYN next month for my first checkup since G's birth. Will I get some news there that leads to a choice? I guess we'll see.

After Lily Dale, we drove home in time for Sarah and I to take a sunset walk around the adjoining meadow with Poesy. The grass was shorn into a close, dry stubble and as the light slipped away, I found myself getting poked by harsh stalks around my flipflops.

Universe Practical Joke #3 was when a particularly uncomfortable wheat stalk jabbed my instep. I stopped for a second to pull my foot out of my sandal and to examine the bottom of my foot when I discovered, OMG I'M BLEEDING EVERYWHERE!. My foot was covered in blood. I couldn't believe it! Such dark blood, too. I rubbed the arch of my foot, searching for the wound and wondering why it didn't hurt, when my hand came away with some tissue that looked suspiciously like a berry skin. Waitaminute. OMG! AM I BLEEDING?? Or did I get a berry sandwiched between my foot and my shoe? Yeah. That'd be option B. ;) Hi-fucking-larious. What is with all these jokes? It was funny, granted, but I'm feeling foolish and laughed at a lot this trip. :D Some trickster God is having a ROTFLMAO moment. I could hear it. Sarah and I laughed, too.

Oh, wait. I totally forgot stuff. Between Lily Dale and me impaling myself on a blood-filled berry, we went out for dinner at Amy's Place, a vegetarian diner of excellence. I had vegan mac and cheese and a vegan BLT, both of which were perfectly crave satisfying. YUM! :D We also went to drool over Breyers and dollhouse miniatures at the Niagara hobby shop.

More Photos. )

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windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (Default)
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