windinthemaples: A lane of red maple trees in riotous fall color. (ocean heart)
On September 30th, [ profile] mermaiden and [ 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 ([ profile] twelvepetals) of Vasilion Photography who was the official photographer of the wedding. For example, she took this one!



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


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. (outdoorsy)
Mirroring our celebration of Midsummer, Sunday was a time of waning as various guests departed or prepared to depart. Laura, [ profile] atempestcyclone, had left Saturday and Lena [ 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 [ 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 [ 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, "'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. (underworld fae)
Saturday night, after eating cupcakes and hula hooping and declaring war on any mosquitoes that so much as looked cross-eyed at us, we dressed for a starlit ritual. I traded my all-white faerie costume for an all-black ritual gown and a red hooded cloak. Sarah showed up, equally transformed, in all white. We both kinda laughed when we saw each other. She joked that we looked like the priestesses from that L.J. Smith trilogy, The Secret Circle, with good Diana in white and selfish, dark magick Faye in black. :p Thanks, Sarah. :D

A few weeks ago, Sarah and I had powwowed about the ritual logistics. We discussed a few themes and we knew that we wanted to leave people with a physical token of the departing Sun's energy. Neither one of us knew where we could get that much citrine on short notice, but I remembered this amazing bead and jewelry-making shop nearby that carries a lot of semi-precious beads. Maybe they'd have something we could use as a charged token? Walking in with Graeme one afternoon, it seemed like a grin from the universe to find a bowl of rough citrine immediately by the front door, for sale by the gram. I stocked up and we were set. :D Other than that, and the suggestion of a walking candle meditation, we didn't solidify anything. Sarah said, "Well, how good are you on the fly?" and I said, "I'm really good on the fly" and so we went into ritual with some idea of what Midsummer meant to us, the intention of distributing citrine, and not much more. At ritual conspiracy, element callers had volunteered themselves and we got to talk about what Midsummer means to us, what this Midsummer means to us as a group. Heart stuff.

Objectively, I can say that some things worked and some things didn't quite get there. )

Sarah and Jenn's backyard is big, but not as big as it feels. With some creative mowing and pruning, they created paths and sacred spots in the midst of wild meadow and pine stands. Thistle and blackberry bushes and wild grasses head-high make the winding paths seem mythical. So in the dark, we walked down a little side path out of sight of the house that curved into a sudden small circular clearing for ritual. At the center of our circle, two tin mosquito-warding candle buckets threw light across the faces of the participants as we sat in circle with drums and soundmakers, coming into sync with each other. I beat my palms happily into the bottom of a spaghetti pot made sacred, feeling like I could drum my very heart's happiness up into the star field. The song naturally ended and we moved to ground and begin with the circle casting and calling of the elements. Sarah and I fell into an easy double voice, back and forth, meeting the needs we felt and trying to stay in touch with the energy of the circle.

Really, I haven't the foggiest idea what was said. I wasn't really the one talking, frankly, so the words came easy from another place that I was more spectator to than anything. The bounty of Midsummer giving us all that we needed, both physically and metaphorically, for the dark days ahead on the Wheel. The bittersweet sensation of being both at the peak of the light season and a step away from the dark, of feeling that life was shifting and we were to shift along with it.

Everyone got a lit white tealight, including me, and we scattered in the darkness of the woods and the meadow and the tent city beyond to have our moments of walking meditation. I found a curve in the path I liked, from where I could see lone candle flames flickering in the distance in many directions, and yet ahead of me nothing but wild, untamed plantlife. I held that flame up and thought how small and mighty that light was. How comforting to see the tiny lights of others, faint floating faerie lights, who without the candle I'd have never known surrounded me in the night-silent woods and fields beyond. I was not alone, though I could have easily felt that way if I hadn't looked around. I had enough light for me to see by but not much idea of the landscape around me. At one point, the cup of the tealight tilted and my palm was scalded in one white wax wash. I hissed in pain, immediately fixating on the experience and wishing it hadn't happened. The light, though, unhindered by a pool of liquid wax, was flaring brighter, bigger, bolder as a result. How often in life do I try to rewind and wish away sudden dark moments instead of seeing the way the light in me can grow because of the experience? Hasn't all my most valuable personal, spiritual growth been the gift of dark times that changed me, that cleared out what I didn't need, and helped me breath a little? I was meant to spill the wax. I cannot control the candle, the Wheel, the world. I am not in control of what happens, only how I choose to view and respond to what does happen.

The wax spills, the flame grows, the wax builds again.

I have been given all the supplies I need for the days ahead. The Sun's light may be waning, but the light within me is waxing in counterpoint. Around me, in community, the Sun's light has become internalized and we'll all, as a tribe, get through the season of darkness together. I need only open my eyes and see the lights around me to know that I'm never alone.

We are all moving through the dark together, separately, and we are all carrying light with us. Enough to share, enough for us all.
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 [ profile] mermaiden and Jenn [ 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 [ 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 [ profile] lenaperry and Karyn [ 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. (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 [ 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 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 [ profile] rubymulligan, [ profile] mermaiden, and [ 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 [ 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 ([ 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 [ profile] mermaiden and [ profile] willow_cabin before they had to drive home and get back to work. I'll continue that in my next post. :)

My companions and our picnic lunch. :) <3


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December 2015

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