A weekend away

The whirlwind never ceases. It’s that time of year when anyone who has anything to do at all finds herself running around in the headless chicken fashion. In our theatre season, it is that last crunch of shows before the lull around the Christmas holiday. Twas not exactly the best time for me to go galavanting off to a wedding, but I was not consulted when the date was decided 😉 Thankfully, knowing the date a million years in advance allows a boss and her assistant to plan accordingly. Thus, this weekend found Handsome and myself in Maryland for the wedding of one of my good friends. The weekend began with a night full of good drink and good company because the lovely Herculine joined us for that night. I also got to see a few alum from my school that I have not seen in a very long time. One of the highlights was getting the chance to go grab a caramel apple spice earlier in the day with my mentor. Ultra-Umber (so named because of his penchant for always using ultramarine blue and burnt umber in any paint treatment he creates) is the man who was my advisor throughout college, both for my academic planning and my undergrad design work. Now, he is a friend and someone who holds a huge portion of my respect for just being a solidly incredible person. Whenever I am in town we try to meet for a spell and  I always feel enriched by the encounter. I also got to spend a surprising amount of time with Herculine. I mean, she was kind enough to put us up for the weekend, but we were expecting maybe one evening of hangout time. Turns out a good portion of Friday and Saturday evening were spent in the company of my lovely friend and I am saddened that I can’t have her in every state in which I live.

As for the wedding, there were multiple happy things. First of all, Handsome and I looked damn good. I fear I don’t have pictures, but try to picture a dapper bearded gentleman in a fine black suit, white dress shirt, and a wine-red tie. Then, imagine a lady in a pewter-gray, silken material dress that has a classy neckline and a skirt that sits at the knee in the front, only to swoop down to just above the calves in the back. The material smacks of liquid- metal- in- moonlight, and then couple the dress with slight pops of silver-crystal glitz to provide that sparkle. Oh yes, we were a very fine couple indeed. However, Princess P. (the bride) eclipsed all. She had that bride glow (coupled with a gorgeously beaded dress) that everyone whispers about when they speak of weddings. The whole affair was quite traditional and the couple seemed pleased with the proceedings. I got to see others from the Pack (group of us who lived on the same floor freshman year in college) which made my heart swell. There was dancing, silly photos, and much talk and catching up. Handsome was a lovely escort and the weather was fine in the way that only late-Fall blue sky can be. Now I am returned to a very attention starved feline and mercy am I glad to come home to this place.

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Explosive Activity and Heartspaces

October kind of exploded a whole bunch of happening in my face. First of all, people visited. I mean, I covered the first wave, but then Wonder Woman came to town. She was here for almost an entire week, but most of our adventures occurred over that weekend. On the morning of October 19th, Handsome, Wonder Woman, and I headed to a tiny train station in New Jersey to catch the train to NYC. After grabbing the train by the mere skin of our teeth, we were on our way to the City. Why go to the Big Apple? Well, when one has another fine friend to meet up with (who also happens to have a free place to crash) and one has an incredibly eye-opening piece of theatre to see…one may find oneself in the midst of Penn Station in a drag-queen-silver jacket looking about hopelessly for Emrys in the midst of the throng. We eventually found him and we spent the day traipsing about the city. From Emrys’s cozy apartment, to a nifty little market, I was reminded why I enjoy visiting the city with people who actually know how to navigate the labyrinth of subways and streets. The first highlight of the visit occurred that night.

Wonder Woman, when planning her excursion to our humble dwelling, recommended that we go to the City in order to see the piece Sleep No More. I had heard ridiculously good things about this piece and I found myself overjoyed to be in a financial situation where such an excursion could be possible. For those who don’t know, Sleep No More is an interactive/site specific theatre experience that is loosely based on Macbeth, but utilizes elements of other dark tales in order to fashion an experience that is unlike anything you are likely to have experienced prior to witnessing this work.  When you enter the space, you are told that the evening is meant to be your experience. There is no right or wrong way to go about exploring the world that has been created. There is no speaking. Even the actors do not use speech, but rather physical theatre techniques and intense body imagery to tell their part of the story. I personally chose not to follow a particular actor. I found the herds of spectators chasing after the various performers overwhelming, thus I chose to just explore every nook and cranny of the space, happening on scenes by chance rather than by design. You can open drawers, pick up bottles of various liquids, page through accounts and letters….tis a dark playground for the curious child who just happens to be a little taller than she was some years ago. There were limits to the space and where one could go, but ultimately I was occupied for the three hours that I wandered. I was exhausted and ached in every portion of my legs and hips, but I was most satisfied. I would not recommend this experience to everyone, but if you are willing to traipse through a dark maze dripping with the dregs of human misery and notorious intent, then Sleep No More is completely worth the ticket price.

The second highlight of the trip is a little more subtle and perhaps very specific to me. For the first time in a very long time, I got to spend a full day and a half with Emrys. Emrys and I have been friends for almost 11 years, but the college years did not allow for a great deal of contact. Due to physical distance and both of us having extremely busy lives, I rarely got to see my friend. In truth, he is more family to me, but in the sense that he is the brother of my heart. We have experienced much together and I did not even realize how much I sorely missed spending time with him until we had more than a quick dinner after a year of barely speaking. Such time is precious and there is a chance that we might be at a place in our lives where we can see each other more often. I don’t demand that such a time continue infinitely, but I am inspired to make the most of it, not only with Emrys, but also with all those who are my heart-family that I have scattered along this coast. I would challenge all of us to actively remain in contact with those who share our heartspace, because it’s important. Such people are a gift. Show gratitude by giving to them a hundred-fold.

Busy, busy, busy

I wondered if being settled into an area would make life boring, but the exact opposite is proving true. This month is insanely packed with socializing and adventures. Last weekend, Handsome and I were hosts to my friend Herculine and her boyfriend (who also happens to be one of my college friends) Smiler. Though only a brief time, we made the most of its every second. We brought them to market and then we went on a hike at Buttermilk Falls, which is a most glorious climb. Handsome and the Smiler went ahead while Herculine and I made our way slowly, encountering faeries and many a deep energy in the water-rushing canyon. Sitting on the edge of the water at one point, I was again struck with awe at the depth of nature’s power and how that power is deep song that the Lord sings into my veins with abandon. I felt simultaneously still and running with all my strength so that I might fly. I was with a friend who I muchly love, in the midst of gorgeous rock-water wood, and I could Hear the Song so close to my ribs I could ache. We wound our way through, enjoying all that was around us, discussing faeries in hushed tones and touching all that we could get our hands; be it rock, water, tree or mud, we felt and drifted.  Walking down, we had to stretch our legs out long and stiffly like fancy gentleman, and holding a single hand aloft as though we were carrying parasols of fancier ladies. Twas the only way one could go down the steep stairs with any measure of grace don’t ya know 😉 That evening, we all made cookies and drank until we were pleasantly giggling into our cookie ice-cream sundaes.

The next day dawned absolutely gorgeous. I chose to go to church while Handsome took our guests to Green Lake Park. I am glad that I went because I am enamored of the sermons and the energy of the place. Though it is a tiny little church with narry another person my age, I find a deep peace when I am there. Plus, as I said, the sermons are instructive, simply delivered, and beautifully crafted. In my faith, I find that I am drawn to places that are more concerned with the intricacies of the God that we serve rather than evangelistic tactics. As far as I am concerned, if I am taking time to go to church, then I don’t want to spend that time listening to why I need to keep taking that time out. I have already made that decision, thus I would rather learn more about how to deepen my relationship with God. Unsolicited tangent, but tis just my personal feeling on the matter. I arrived home before the rest of my party and I took the time to enjoy the sun and the glorious weather. Later that day, Herculine, Smiler, and I went to see a show at the Stage. This is the first show of the season and Herculine’s cousin is in the cast. I was familiar with the script and I was curious to see the show (plus, it is the first show in which I had direct painterly involvement here). Although the piece was three hours long, I was delighted to discover that the actors are brilliant. They did not miss a beat and they managed to keep the energy of the dialogue constant. The set and technical effects were wonderful, and the costumes were absolutely drool-worthy. It is rare to see a production so cohesive and I feel humbled that I had a hand in realizing that cohesion.

As for what is to come, right now I am in the midst of visiting my dear sibling. She has possession of the rest of my artwork, and I had to deliver her an original work from my own hand. Thus, here I am, alone for the moment while she works. The view out her window is dappled with autumn, sun, and tree branches. I must admit, it’s nice to have a day fully to myself. Next week, Handsome’s mother comes to visit, then the next week brings WonderWoman and a trip into the City to see Sleep No More. Busy? Just how I like it :).

Outakes (Romping through the Vineyards)

Yesterday was the last full day off for the rest of our time here at the Camp. Considering we have only a few days left, we decided to make it a most worthwhile day. Thus Helena, BearGirl, the Thinker, and myself a piled into my Silver Steed/Prius of Adventure and set off for an afternoon of wine and wondrous fun We had decided to hit three wineries along M22. The first was Good Harbor Vineyards. We all picked 5 wines to sample from the extensive list and a souvenir glass came with the tasting. I sampled a most glorious Cherry Wine that made dark chocolate sing in my mouth (the gentleman gave us dark chocolate kisses with the instructions, “sip the wine, take a bite of chocolate, then sip.”). Twas so good a bottle may have followed me out of the place ;). Next, on to Gills Pier Winery. Handsome and I had visited this winery on our previous excursion on M22, I had gone back again on my own, and I simply had to bring my friends with me. I truly like this sweet little place.

Overlooking the vineyard

Overlooking the vineyard

The whole gang

The whole gang

From Gills, we went on to our best find of the day. BearGirl had recently been on a plane trip and she mentioned that she had sat next to a most interesting person. The woman spoke of an organic winery in Northport Michigan…which turned out to be right where we were headed. Thus, we found ourselves at Good Neighbor Organic. Not only does this place have wine, but they also make incredible ciders that absolutely blew the socks and shoes straight off my feet. Stan, the owner, also bid us go play in the vineyard/orchard and pick some lavender.  We happily complied 🙂

Wine fun 8 Wine fun 9 Wine fun 17 Wine fun 14 Wine fun 19

Twas a very good day indeed :).

 

Doing Well Here

Tis strange to think that I have been here for almost a month. Summer has always moved strangely for me. Every day seems long and labor intensive, only to suddenly find myself at the end of a week wondering how it snuck past me. In this month, I have painted an entire set (and not a simple color and a wash so please you), explored glorious places, and made connections with people whom I can only call it  blessing to know. Helena (formerly known as Lady Twin, but Helena suits her much better) and I were down by the waterfront this evening, chatting about books as the wind blew incessantly across the water. I knitted away happily as we talked and I could only languish in how happy I truly am right now. Not the happiness that is characteristic of  the circumstances of the moment, but rather truly well. True wellness is a strong desire of mine, something that comes from a well of joy that lives in the heart regardless of what life offers. There is a hymn called “It is Well With my Soul.” A song penned in the 1800’s by someone who had been hit with immense tragedy, the piece still captures the core of what I strive to achieve in the pursuit of this life. Particularly, the first verse:

When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know,a
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

*a Often this lyric is “say” rather than “know,” but I rather appreciate this version.

Whether I be at peace as I was this evening, or frazzled by the various tasks thrown at me in a given day, or truly aching from pain that attacks me from past loss, I fight to maintain the wellness of my soul. It is days such as I have been having, surrounded by glorious natural beauty, engaging work, and genuine people that remind me why I have such joy. Such things I am blessed with, and I can never thank Him enough for those things. It is, indeed, well with my soul.

New Friends!

Tis been a while since I posted mainly because this past week was a bucket of insanity that I did not anticipate. The rest of the summer staff arrived in the shop, including my assistant who will henceforth be known as Columbia. Turns out Columbia is not exactly what I was ready for in an assistant, but I am determined to approach this development with a positive attitude (mainly because a crappy disposition is generally less fun and does not get the work accomplished any more efficiently.) I was also faced with an intense painting project that required a great deal of focus and precision…and then multiply that project threefold. There was much staying late and hand cramping involved. However, I am really very happy because I have discovered some wondrous new friends. The two ladies of whom I am particularly fond are BearGirl and Lady Twin. BearGirl earns her name because of her dogged determination to see a bear this summer and Lady Twin is basically exactly like me only not. Together, we had many adventures, including a three mile hike through the Dunes where I went nuts over various wildflowers and we startled a young deer still in its spotted glory. Lady Twin has been keeping me sane on my various late nights and we sat out yesterday evening, enjoying the giant moon over the waterfront. While the crew I have been working with has been lovely, most already had established relationships with each other due to years of bonding. Thus, it’s nice for me to have a few people who are also new and are eager to establish new connections. We work hard, we take care of each other, and we have a damn good time being total sarcastic jerks when the situation calls for it (or not, let’s be honest). Life is brilliant.

Wild Journeys to Good Places

I am now in Michigan, and what a wild ride to get here. I mean, I guess it wasn’t completely wild in the sense that I didn’t suffer any trouble with dragons or wild boars, but by the standards of my own normality I would say there was a slight funk of wildness about the trip. Handsome and I left on Saturday, driving 8 hours to Ohio to stay with my friend The Raven. The Raven is a friend of mine whom I met at WordBridge last year, and he is by far one of the most talented and intricately woven people that I know. His abode happened to be at a halfway point between my parents’ place and the Camp, so he was kind enough to offer us lodging for the night. I could not have imagined a more pleasant evening. The house that he and his wife share is a most beautiful structure that clearly has been loved and rendered to fit the energy of its inhabitants. They had a huge backyard that felt like a tiny woodland and an incredible dog named Scout who suffered my terrible throwing for the sake of chasing various objects into the greenery surrounding. The Raven regaled us with tales of folly, anxiety, beauty, and general wonder as well as taking us to a most excellent restaurant where we ate entirely too much food. The evening was spent in the company of him and his wife on the back porch as we discussed the state of modern theatre as we watched Scout stare down a pair of raccoons (safely up in a tree…the raccoons not the dog) and later a storm that was so heavy a downpour to look almost unreal. The next morning, we were sent off with a most delicious breakfast (a quiche consisting of egg, cheese, spinach, bacon, and mushrooms) and a warm farewell.

I left Handsome at an airport three hours shy of my destination. The goodbye was a little harder than usual for me because I have gotten a little spoiled seeing him so often of late. I know I should not be so wistful considering he and I will soon be living together, but welcome to the immediate desires of the human heart. Driving to the Camp was like nothing I have ever experienced. I have driven through wooded areas, but nothing like this forever place where trees actually have enough presence to remind you how insignificant you are in the midst of this landscape. I drove and drove, deeper into a world where I could feel my shoulders lose their tension while my heart beat itself into my throat. I finally arrived at the Camp, which is something of a cross between a miniature college campus and the old-fashioned-log-cabin camp. I thankfully managed to get my keys and into my room, but I was not long there. The gentleman who hired me, R-Dog, kindly drove me to meet with the rest of my co-workers for dinner. I am not going to list all of them right now, but I am sure they will all crop up sooner or later. Dinner was a raucous and relaxed affair that allowed me to only munch on my foot a few times, while also giving me the opportunity to say intelligent and witty things that made up for afore mentioned foot munching. After dinner, I lent a hand to a couple coworkers for move-in and was returned the help for my own belongings. We then sat up talking into the wee hours…which was not the wisest decision considering the early wake up. Still, I could not have begged for a better welcome and though there is more to tell, I think I will hold off until some of the more interesting paintwork begins. Suffice it to say, I think I made an excellent choice coming here.