Monday, October 31, 2011


 Our Halloween came a little early - trick-or-treating happens on the Thursday before Halloween for some reason. I wasn't sure the girls would even want to go out; they had fevers and sore throats all week, it was rainy, it was cold...but of course at 5 they were rummaging through the dress-up box, in anticipation of haunting the neighborhood with their best friend, E.
 The majority of their candy goes to the pumpkins - I mean, after the extensive sorting and discussing and resorting.  In the morning their loot (minus a few pieces they keep) is magically replaced with a few other goodies: some good chocolate, trinkets, a tooth brush (yes, really!!) (and they were excited!! Eliza said, oh good, I need a new one 'cause I've been so sick!).
 Remember the golf weekend I wrote about? Well, a whopper of a Halloween party is what kicks it all off, so that's where we were Friday night...
 Last minute preparations, changing of costumes, adjusting of abdomens (I loved this costume!!!)...
 Quick make-up jobs, after bowls of chili and cornbread...
 ...and we were off. Admiring each others' costumes, and dancing our fool heads off.
 Dan and I were cross-dressed as a young couple we love.  They in turn were dressed as Frog and Toad. Above is Dan with the young man! Isn't he purty?
Our esteemed host
Our beautiful hostess
 I've never seen such amazing, elaborate and creative costumes.  I wish I had a better photo of the woman above - she had rigged a scarf, a pony tail and her trench coat to extend behind her - she was blowing in the wind!
my favorites

Dancing went on well into the night,  outside, even in a light trickle, but Ani and I left before it was over to go home and sleep in our warm beds.  Dan and Eliza stayed to camp, and apparently she made her way to our tent with a flashlight and blowing-in-the-wind woman to take turns reading spooky stories to each other. Sounds like a great Halloween...

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Yeah, you read that right. Golf.  Now, really, I've got nothing to do with it, but I'm gonna write about it anyway, because I've had too many run-ins lately while out and about with Dan where it is clear folks are befuddled to hear that he has been playing golf. It somehow doesn't fit with their image of who he is, and let me tell ya, it's because it doesn't. They're thinking impeccable-green-caddy-havin'-golf-cart-drivin'-plaid-short-wearin' golf. Nothing wrong with that kind of golf (well, I could get revved up about water consumption for starters, but not here, not now), but as you can tell from my lame description, I really know nothing about that kind of golf. No, we're talking between-the-trees-through-poison-ivy-and-across-the-burn-pile golf. Mmmmhmmmm, that's right. We recently ran into Dan's graduate advisor while he was out on a jog, and he slowed down and gave Dan a perplexed look and said, "I'm trying hard to reconcile what I know of you".  Dan summed it up in one phrase: "I play Appalachian golf" as if that could explain it all...
 These shots are from the most dramatic tee - The Death Star.

Dogs and Fungus running interference
  Well, I know you think this week is all about Halloween.  We are also going through the last-minute worries over costumes and all, but really what this week is about for us is preparing for The Fourth Annual Silver Baby Cup Golf Tournament, which happens this weekend. In the woods, at what is officially known as the Assissi Threepio course. 
Approaching Snake Canyon
Fire Hazard
 Our friends-in-the-woods are a part of what used to be a motley assemblage of boat-builders, potters, artists, musicians and crazy people (and assorted family members) which now has a purpose and an annual reason to gather from all parts of the country, and often from other countries.  The winner of the annual Silver Baby Cup "brings it home", which determines the next location for the event.  It has taken place once before in Ohio, once in Tennessee, and last year's tournament was in Maine. The infamous Lizard McGee brought it back to Ohio where Team Ohio has been training since the ground dried out in late spring.  The goal? Get second place. Hosting appears to be a heck of a lot of work, and who doesn't want a fun reason to travel?
Dan, digging out of the brush at the St. Francis hole

The Don of the Assissi Threepio Course, Reigning Champion, Lizard McGee
You'll find us in the woods this weekend, costumed, camping, and competing (er, watching, rooting, keeping people fed).  May the best golfer win...

Sunday, October 23, 2011


 Oh, October. How you've grown cold and wet. The ground is littered with your leafy stars and your icy fingers pry at our windows and doors. But we're not deterred, no...we are determined to enjoy our days with you nevertheless.
(This is the extent of the backyard, which is where the girls went for an hour and a half in the freezing drizzle yesterday morning, dressed in their snowpants and boots and woolen hats and neckwarmers - all so novel here at the whispery start of the cold season)
 And this is the collage work that has taken over the living room today....They are creating a pirate family ("the pirate ancestors!" giggle giggle, cackle cackle).
My favorites are the pirate babies, daggers, peg-legs and all...
Saturday was bright and inviting. Hello, Mr. Box Turtle - whatchya doin' in the road?
It was a day of golf, of course, and playing...
The woods are preparing for a weekend of company - a Halloween party and a golf tournament (I've got to write about that soon!), so Ani and I spend some time clearing sticks from the future "tent city". We find this little one, hunkered down in the hollow of a tree.  One of the girls wonders if they're patterned this way because they're busy at this time of year and they're so well camouflaged in the leaves...
October, you are so fickle. The sun was thinner than it was a week ago, and the temperatures will drop again this week, but oh, the day was beautiful...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Filled and then some

Today it is cold and it is raining...our front door (remember the photos from way back in September?) is still unfinished, leaving holes in the surrounding wall large enough for slugs to crawl through (and they do - the poor kitties have found out the hard way that licking a slug makes your tongue numb...). There is a large pile of laundry to fold, another to go in the wash, and several piles of Stuff needing to find their way home. The kitchen floor is dirty with leaves from the back yard, there is kimchi needing to be put in a jar, and projects whining from their corners....

I'm leaving it. 

I have days when I follow the mess from one corner of the house to the other, ending up tired and wilted instead of refreshed. Days when the Have To is oppressive and overwhelming and n-e-v-e-r-e-n-d-i-n-g. You know what I mean.

Not today.

Today I'm going to dwell a bit on the weekend past, and make hot cups of tea for my foragers who are roaming the back yard duded up in their snowpants and boots, making something out of sticks and leaves bottles?...

There is no way to tell the whole story of the weekend, are some random, important bits that are staying with me into the colder days of autumn.  Enjoy.
 We drove through miles of beauty - through West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee, to North Carolina...We were a part of the work crew, which meant we got some quiet before the throngs, and a ridiculous assignment to help people find their way on the top of a mountain. I mean, wow. What a beautiful way to spend the morning!
Jen's way to greet the dawn (and stay warm)
This was The Southeastern Women's Herbal Conference. We were there to learn about herbs, right?
 Turns out "herbs" were only the smallest smidgen of what we learned. I have a feeling each woman got from their experience what they were really looking for - does that make sense? So when I saw classes called "Conscious Dying" and "Earth-based Psychology" in my program and weighed them against "The Art of Wildcrafting" or "Elderberry Tonics" - things I highly value but  that already have a central place in my life - there was such a strong pull toward the former that I found myself sitting in class after class where words like "intuition" and "energy" were passed around.  Where the message, over and over, was Do Nothing. Be Still. Listen.
The message given, over and over, in different ways, was: Find your own Power. Own your Power. When you take responsibility for the Power  you have, then ask for what you need.  We sat there, steeping in the Wise Women still. Listen.
stone medicine
There were what I might call more concrete, "practical" lessons for the having as well.  In a class on the Chinese Water element, I learned about the adrenal system and the kidneys, how to read the signs of a water imbalance, where the kidneys are being depleted, and how to rectify that with herbs and nutrition, exercise and enough sleep.  A class on fermentation gave me a few clues to ways to improve the fermented foods we already eat (and we got to taste some lacto-fermented lemons!).  Conscious Dying not only had us calling on the memories and spirits of our beloveds who have died, drawing our own "death plans" (which looked a lot like our birth plans to me), and writing our own obituaries, but also addressed a document called The Five Wishes, which walks you through making decisions such as who should act as your power of attorney, in what circumstances you would wish to be kept on life support, what words or music or smells you would wish to have around you during your dying days.  She also spoke about green burial, dying at home, and embalming laws (it isn't required, did you know that?).  We learned about the signs of imminent death and which herbs help ease what symptoms for someone who is near death (lavender for anxiety and pain; lemonbalm for confusion; clary sage for sleeplessness).

 The setting was gorgeous, and once the first night of strong winds had passed, the weather was divine. Chilly in the shade, warm in the sun, the moon rising before bed and setting just after we woke for yoga or work duty.
 I was impressed that the demographics of women - 950 or thereabouts attended this year - were so evenly spread across the ages.  Young women, even some teens who had their own program to attend within the conference, young mamas with their babies (oh, brave, young mamas! It was soooo lovely to see them already on this path of connecting and supporting each other), women in their powerful middling years (is that me already???), and the older wiser women, the crones. 
 Quiet women, loudly joyous women, dancing women, wild women, cranky women, curious women...
 There were some events that pushed my comfort zones, which is always good. And there was bhangra dancing, did I mention that??? Oh yeah, that was a highlight for me (no photos - too busy dancing and sweating) (and now I just spent a good half an hour looking up bhangra videos on youtube...the one I've linked to is a troupe from VCU in Virginia, where we were before we moved here. We came across this troupe at a street festival and WOW! Intense).  There was new music (Rising Appalachia - two sisters with some damn fine harmony), beautiful artwork, delicious food, quiet pockets here and there...
 Magic, tearful laughter, deep sighs, surprises, remembrances...
 So happy to have gone. Filled, filled, filled.
some haaaaaappy women