Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve 2007

New Year's Eve 2007 marks the end of a 40. 40 days in the desert. 40 years in the wilderness. Wolf and I head to Cornerstone for a New Year's Concert. Powerful praise with Michael Tyrrell, culminating in prophetic crossing over into 2008-- and new life! [Pictures]

Wolf rolls home to catch some zzz's--- he has to be up by 3 am-- and I head over to catch the tail end of the Uible's infamous New Year's Bash. I get the whole jam-packed New Year's Party Experience in under an hour! [Pictures]

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday

One Breath Poetry: Frost


cold crystal mask: frost
enshrouds in vain. the hot heart
lifebeats bold within


Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Some call it coincidence. Some call it synchronicity. I call it blessing!

My breadmaker was destroyed when Hurricane Charlie swept through southern Florida. At the time I was traveling a lot, and decided replacing it was not a priority. The past few years I have missed the simple joy and unspeakable delight of fresh, homemade bread. This winter I decided to do something about it.

The hunt began. Search as I might I couldn't find breadmakers anywhere. ANYWHERE!!!! None of the boxes under the tree held a breadmaker in its festive wrapping.

Sigh.

Some call it Goodwill. Some call it Salvation Army. I call it "The Boutique."

I pop in for a post-Christmas perusal and there it is. My breadmaker. Looks brand new, complete with recipe book. Thank You thank You thank You!

The ham and bean soup has been simmering since yesterday. It goes perfectly with the first loaf of fresh bread!


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone!

May your New Year be full of growth, excitement and abundance!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

One Breath Poetry: A Kind of Beauty

forecasts scream "WARNING!"
burst out in the storm to find
beauty in menace

Carol: Green Thumb Sunday, Manic Monday

All is calm
All is bright...



Jet Li Moves On

Twilight, Jet Li the Refurbished Rooster is gone. The fox left a handful of feathers as goodbye.

I'm glad he died with a full belly.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blog Your Blessings Sunday

Midnightish Friday evening. I'm getting a jump start on Blog Your Blessings Sunday.

Midnightish and I just bade goodknight to my sweetie, the love of my life, my knight in shining armor who in the not too distant future I will pledge my eternal troth to. He called to say goodnight for the second time. The first time I was dumping grain.

Dumping 12 bags of horse feed, 1 bag of barn kitty feed and yes, breaking new ground, rooster feed (tuck in, Jet Li!) More than enough of hundreds of pounds to smirk in the face of any weather threats the media might bluster our way (and tonight they are blustering indeed.) More than enough to cover any contingencies during my planned span away next week. More than enough to drive my overexhausted, aching body to draglifthauldumpdraglifthauldump for the sheer satisfaction of completion.

Late Friday night. I laugh. The name on bag after bag of feed is "Legends." I think of Will Smith, of his new flick which many people with normal lives are watching tonight: "I am Legend." I don't know what it is--Film Geek, can you fill me in?--but the moebius twist of my scewed parallel universe has me laughing in the rain of shooting stars.

Have I mentioned the shooting stars? Oh, this is the night, even running amuck in a holiday retail habitrail. The night for shooting stars. And over the evening, two in particular scream across the sickly city darkness and burn for eternities while I squeal and wish my guts out.

So the blessings of which I blog? Where to begin? For the body which God keeps renewing no matter what kind of crazy things and insane expectations I throw its way. At the prolonged end of a flatoutsincedawn day like today, that itself dances in the spotlight.

For results. For the fruits of todays labors, and the dedication of my co-laborers. Daylight hours packed with trial and error, energy and intention embodied. The horses in their new housing, with new fencing. The accomplishment of worlds of deceptively small details which can make or break weathering a storm, a season or an absence, however brief. The next layer of confusion cut away. The promise of a blank canvas dawning on the morrow.

For my diesel dually, which I have considered selling at least once a quarter. Thankfully even the bean-counter in my head (and on paper) agrees that is a foolish notion. That truck has been my alter-ego, my partner in crime, my brute squad, and the finest ally for a single-woman-conquering-the-world. Now I'm facing no longer singleness, no longer "my truck" but "our truck". And even that's ok, though it's taking getting used to. At least I know Wolf won't wear my sparkly truck-drivin tiara!

Which I do, with delight! Tiaras are mandatory after a full trip to town, driving home a full load. From feed for all manner of four- and two-leggeds, to 1x8x10's for replacement facia on the loafing shed, to batteries to stave off the threatened storm, to Christmas presents, to thermocouples, to heaters to hardware and yes, some beautiful candles "just in case the power goes out."

For provision. For abundance. For the faith to see beauty in menace.

Blogging my blessings early....

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Rooster Refurb

"Ya wanna rooster?"
"Alive or frozen?"
"Does it matter?"
"Uh-huh. I'm a lover, not a killer...."

The cousins prepare for their annual migration. A neighbor willingly winters their laying hens. A bunch of the roosters have already found their way to autumn parties as entrees.

A trail of exhaust in the darkening chill marks the cousins exodus. I take a moment out of the flurry of work to bask in the sudden peace-- and see that the one rooster. Too skinny for the freezer, he
remains on the outskirts of the barnyard, patiently waiting for the return of his flock. Or the fox.

Sigh.

His name is Jet Li. And he's really grateful for the slightly stale cereal....


Monday, December 10, 2007

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Thursday, December 6, 2007

For no discernible reason, I pulled into Mickey D's today with an undeniable craving for a Big Mac. I haven't eaten one since I became a vegetarian roughly 17 years ago.

It was DALISHISSSSSSSS!

Good to go for another 17 years....

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

First Snow

the seasons first snow silences a cacaphonous schedule, and brings an agenda all its own.

i told pastor paul yesterday, "we're both 37, we both know what we're giving up by getting married." wolf later commends me on that comment, i'm still not sure why. tonight though, i wonder at the depth of it. wonder if i can keep claiming my sacred stolen moments or if i'm sacrificing them forever.


the cousins are off at conrad's birthday party tonight. i revel in having the kitchen to myself, revel in concocting the latest iteration of gypsy soup while catching up on the phone with people i love. great music fills the tiny space. my jingly hipscarf--hallmark of cleaning the kitchen-- is in the coldhouse. nevertheless i find myself, as ever, dancingdancingdancing while JEB leaps and prances counterpoint.

will i be able to "dance like nobody's watching" when wolf shares my kitchen? will i be able to "love like i've never been hurt" even if he brings the pain? i "live like it's heaven on earth," because it is. can i remember that when he tries to convince me otherwise?

i tumble into the night and discover the snowstorm's second casualty. i patch things up as best i can, fingers burning bitterly with cold. in this case daylight is mandatory for a complete repair.

i discover, to no surprise, that orion shines brightest between friesian ears.

JEB and i continue onto the night, into the oaks. we cross beneath the edge of the storm front, where an obscuring haze aglow with sickly city light gives way with 90 degree finality to black brilliance blazing with stars. i talk to God. His words are strangely silent tonight, but His presence has me on my knees,
sobbing in fresh-fallen snow.

He's in charge.

He showers me with The Good Stuff. and He gave wolf and i each other.
eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him (1 Cor 2:9). in other words, we ain't seen nothin' yet!

a single step in faith moves me through the darkness, the deep snows. a single step followed by another, and another, and another carries me through the silent night....


Wordless Wednesday: First Snow

Monday, December 3, 2007

One Breath Poetry: Container

skin, my container.
stories, creations, love-gifts
dancing through this world


Monday, November 26, 2007

One Breath Poetry

sea of grains gather,
meld: dust, sand, stone. mountain sighs,
exhales: stone. sand. dust


Monday, November 19, 2007

One Breath Poetry: Adventure


that first step...the world
explodes! who can explain? NAH!
dive in, be consumed!

Musical Test

Qaro posts this pitch perception test on her blog. The test, designed by a neuroimaging researcher at Harvard, "characterizes the patient’s pitch discrimination and musical memory abilities.... The test is purposefully made very hard, so excellent musicians rarely score above 80% correct."

I love music, but as far as singing and dancing go, I euphemistically explain that I participate with, ahem, far more enthusiasm than skill. With no delusions of success but a head full of flashbacks of playing "Simon" with Granny, I take the test.

And score an 83.3%

Hmmmmmm.

RIfle Season Survival

Yesterday's cacaphony marked the beginning of rifle season. JEB HATES guns but the horses learn to take it in stride. The folks who hunt our property are very conscientious. I send these words of wisdom to those living in a more anarchic front line. Played on a cello, no less!



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Blog Your Blessings Sunday



Will has pretty much grown up with me in his life. We live on the same farm for about 9 months each year. I get to be the crazy cousin who falls somewhere between big sister, goofy friend, and non-parental adult. We share a strong bond of love, and a strong love of fantasy and the middle ages.

Each year since he turned 11 we have talked about going to the Renaissance Faire together, just he and I, no little sisters or parents allowed. Every year his soccer and my work have conspired to keep us from going together. This year we swore it would be different. This year we put it on the calendar. Then, I found out it was ending a week earlier then we were planning on going.

It takes herculean effort in the very last minute. He has to slither out of family plans. I have to juggle work commitments. Somehow we end up together, clad in our finest Renaissance garb, enjoying a stroll through the modern middle ages.

Driving home that night we excitedly chatter about the day, about the jousts, about his new wooden weapons. "What was your absolute favorite part of the Faire?" I challenge him.

His answer melts my heart. "Hanging out with you!"

Family bonds. Sharing a common passion. We have so many blessings to enjoy!

Happy Blog Your Blessings Sunday!

Green Thumb Sunday

Friday, November 16, 2007

Feed The World, Grow Your Mind

How cool is this?

FREE RICE!

Thanks, Plain Fool, for the addiction-- I mean tip! Now, to figure out how many grains of rice will feed a family of 5... a community of 50... a nation of 5,000,000....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Clarification...

Cousin Angus points out that "West Virginia warm weather Renaissance wedding" is a little vague. Perhaps this will clarify:

The Director's Cut

...In 4 part harmony, with feelin'....

It wasn’t the way he had planned it, but He planned it perfectly….

A few months ago I laughed at the impracticality of diamond rings on hardworking farmgirl hands. “I always said I’d prefer an engagement Friesian!”

Now, for you sane, non-horsey folks out there, a Friesian is romance and power on the hoof. Remember Goliath in LadyHawke? (That movie had its way with me during my most formative years….) Remember ANY big, black, dancing horse with a mane cascading down to his shoulders and a tail that tames the wind? That’s a Friesian.

Friesians are a rare breed from the Netherlands, decendents of warhorses of old. They have a direct link with those primal curls in our DNA that make us realize happily-ever-afters are destined to prevail. I cannot remember a time I didn’t long for one of my own, with every fiber of my being.

Most of you knew my old horse, Knight. In his heart and mine he was a Friesian wannabe, and the embodiment of a dream of chivalry, romance and unity between a horse and his person. This summer, I had to put him to sleep. A piece of the dream went with him.

Back to the present, back to reality. Mark shocked me when he started sending me links to Friesians for sale. He’d call from work and we’d run YouTube clips, tears streaming at the raw beauty of the breathtaking horses. “Don’t you DARE even think about buying one…” I’d tell him, and follow up with a handful from among the 976 reasons we DON’T need another horse right now, especially a Friesian. Looking at the price tags on mature, saddle-trained Friesians, he agreed.

But Mark was committed to making a dream come true.

Now, we were also hunting for the perfect first horse for him. In my mind, that was top priority. He was looking on a Virginia horse classifieds site for Shires for sale, and did a search for Friesians… “just for fun.” That brought up the ad for Testimony, a yearling filly whose owner was going back to grad school. “She is our firstborn filly and a dream come true, a Testimony to God’s love and grace,” her owners wrote. “We will choose her new owner from among interested parties on November 1.” It was the first of November.

The front page of the Friesian’s website reminded me, “delight in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” I watched the videos of the filly and her mother, sobbing, already feeling the hands of fate. Mark had emailed the owners an eleventh hour plea. “Coincidences” began to pour like rain.

We were heading down to that area on Mark’s next day off to look at a couple of horses for him. Mark insisted we at least go meet the horse and her owners. With all the signs and coincidences leading up to this moment, and with full realization that marriage was now galloping into reality, we were both shaking by the time we arrived.

The filly was every inch a beautiful princess–and she knew it. The horse trainer in me appreciated her regal bloodlines and her exceptionally free movement. I didn’t feel “IT” though, the warm oneness when you know you and your horse are together together. “That makes it easy to say no,” I told Mark.

Mark felt otherwise.

I spent the rest of the day trying to convince him NOT to buy this horse. (At one point I stood apart from myself and laughed hysterically at the incongruity of the situation: arguing with the Love of my Life NOT to give me the horse of my dreams.)

We talked. We thought. We prayed. The only thing God would tell me is, “be still and know that I am God. Be still and wait on Me.” Not words to overjoy a type A personality in the face of a huge decision, but strangely comforting. Perhaps this decision was not meant to be mine.

Meanwhile, I got a call from an old friend, Tam. She wanted the freedom to move to China. She wanted to do right by her horses. She wanted them to come back home to the Bower.

More horses. Wonderful horses. Angus, my first-born colt, now 3 years old. Pete, the patient Appaloosa who loves medieval games. TC, who I worked with before I even moved to the Bower. And most amazingly, Dolly, the perfect horse for my Love.

Dolly is 17 hands of golden Belgian. As Mark pointed out, “she’s so big if you want to fall off you have to bounce at least 3 times across her back before you run out of horse!” She is a champion charger for my shining knight. His face lights up when he even talks about her.

Back to the Friesian, back to our Testimony. When last we left off, I was obediently waiting. (“I HATE waiting!” ~Inigo in The Princess Bride.) I was trusting my LifeMate to make the right decision for the both of us in a situation that defied logic. Mark grew ever more adament, and I watched a dream emerge from a fog of fear and disbelief.

We went to pick her up Tuesday. I was beside myself with joy, with excitement, with the hugeness of the situation– but still no warm fuzzies between the filly and I. In the hubbub of sealing the deal, emotional greetings– and good-byes– and trailer loading a nervous, excited youngster, Mark didn’t have the chance to carry out his well-planned proposal.

The trip was pleasantly uneventful and brilliantly lit with blazing foliage bright against stormdark skies. The filly settled into the rhythm of the road and long hours eventually brought us home.

I’d just turned the rig onto Bower Road when my cell phone rang. Ginny was up at the Head of the Grove. Bold Step had been picking on D’Art, who fled through the fence. Ginny was starting the fence repair while D’art ran around the adjacent pasture, evading capture. I laughed at the ironic perfection of the situation. We might own a fancy Friesian, but we still gotta fix fence on a rainy night!

We settled the filly in the roundpen with hay and water. Mark had some things to take care of in the house, so I headed up to deal with fence. D’Art is such a mama’s boy– he stopped running and let me come right up to him in the dark. We got the bulk of the repairs done and I sent Ginny back to the barn while I finished up.

The crescent moon was leisurely sinking towards the horizon. It threw just enough light to set the ground-hugging mists aglow. The horses stood in silhouette along the hillside. Wow, I thought, this might be the last time I stand here as a single woman. I started up a conversation with God and soaked with Him in the still majesty of the night.

As I was heading back, my TrueLove emerged from the darkness. I brought him back to the crest of the hill, where the moon danced ever closer to the treetops in the Old Old Orchard. We held each other a while in the mist and moonlight, then Mark sank to his knees. Never in time has “will you marry me” been wrapped in such splendor and love!

We went back to the barn to tell Ginny and play with the new filly. Since my engagement Friesian doesn’t quiet fit on my hand, Mark wrapped an electric fence zip tie around my finger–in matching black. We spent the evening calling family, reveling and toasting with the last bottles of a raspberry melomel he’d racked 3 years before.

The next morning, the filly let me know she was Grace. She sighed and lowered her proud head against my chest for a long hug. If she had done this when first we met, I’d have fallen in love in a flash– and always would have second guessed if we made the right decision. In tough times I’d have doubted destiny and chalked it up instead to the starry-eyed dreaming of a horse crazy girl and the amazing man who wanted to make those dreams come true in the face of improbability.

It had to happen this way, just as it happened with Mark. There is no question in either of our minds that we were meant for each other since before time began. And there is no question in our minds that Grace is meant to be in our lives. Greater forces than ours are at play. We don’t know what the future brings, but we can’t wait to live it!

Happily Ever After begins now….


The Editor's Cut

Wolf and I are engaged! Look forward to a warm weather Renaissance
wedding at the Bower. With fireworks!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

One Breath Poetry:Loneliness

loneliness: a lie
truth: tears warmed by gentle breeze,
sunshine, God's whispers...

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Hello, Old Friends!

You know how a few weeks slip by and you haven't talked to your best friend? You know, the one who's known you better than your mother since second grade? Time passes in a whirlwind and the adventures pile up and you think, "oh, I'll get in touch when we have enough time to catch up on everything." And the adventures surge forth and you'd get to feeling guilty or embarrassed, except you’re not really the type to get guilty or embarrassed.

And then you finally call right in the thick of things, just to say hi, I really miss you, you mean the world to me.

Thank you, friends, for checking up on me. All is well. All is better than well.

Sandy, CyberCelt and Ocilius, (and everyone else!) happy BYB Sunday! The blessings pile up, pressed down, shaken together and overflowing. I really look forward to sharing them with you!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Introspection

This Gypsy is way more pensive than a cold night with a party and bonfire should allow. I got an email from Samantha over at Nothing But Red, asking to write a contribution to their efforts against socially condoned violence against women in general, against the abhorrent euphemisms known as "honor killings" in specific.

I think of my close women friends who have been victimized through the years, for no reason other than their gender. Too many. Any is too many. More than any is appalling. The actual numbers are revolting.

Thoughts tumble over each other. Tonight is the night to let them seethe. Later, I'll ask them to march in formation.

Cousin Serena hesitantly comes into the sitting room where I type. Guest Annika, the oldest of the girls at 11, is more transparent. "We told Will we wanted him to scare us. Now we're afraid. Will you help us find where he's hiding?"

Just a game gone sour, but an eerie in-law to this evenings introspection. Just 3 frightened little girls who desperately need protecting and building up, and a bigger, older boy who can't resist the invitation to scare them.

You are amazing, wondrous, strong beyond your belief. You deserve to be safe. Hold my hands, let's go into the darkness and find Will.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Past Few Weeks aka The Dog Ate My Blog Posts

I began this blog for a handful of reasons. Among them was to keep family in touch with my life. Heck, to keep ME in touch with my life in those brief, breath-catching moments between whirlwinds. The sudden chill in the air reminds me I need to do a summer recap. I'll start with just the past few weeks. Assume the usual roster of lessons to teach, horses to train, farm work to field, and clients to nurture.

Bower Work Weekend: Amazing Grove care and cleanup. Chestnut orchard pruned, new orchard plotted. Underbrush cleared, mowing begun, Trail network created through the old old orchard. Chainsaw symphonies and bonfires galore! Food, family, friends and fun. Deep gratitude for all the hands and hearts who helped. First Round of Photos up on Laughing Gypsy Photography

Prints matted and framed, in various stages of hanging in the "SPCA: Spirited Personifications, Creative Animalizations" show at the Fire House Gallery in C'Town.

Wolf's and my photos from the Ultimate Five Race appeared in TN newspaper, State Gazette, and on the race website. Niggling reminder to get pix posted on my own site. Its on the list.

Scheduled the most recent addition to the training roster. I worked with this filly when she was a weanling, now she's 5. Has it really been that long? In the grand scheme of things, how do I dare call that long?

Jefferson County Fair Photo Update: Lawn and Garden Tractor Pull.


Working with Jim and James on plans for more loafing sheds for the horses. Today's bitter winds bring added inspiration.




Monday, October 8, 2007

Manic Monday: Tracks


Leave nothing but footprints. Take nothing but memories. Leave no trace.

There is a time and a season to tread softly. This is not one.

25 or so of my nearest and dearest relatives and friends gather from far and near for Grove Weekend. The object: to work our butts off, eat like pigs-- and remember to sign the guestbook before hustling home. The result: much-needed care of the ancient trees (and up-and-comers) in the grove and adjacent woods on the family farm.

We have chainsaws and tractors and axes and machetes. But cousin Phil has The Secret: The Skidder. A single pass uproots "bad" trees and multiflora rosebushes, leaves a clear swath wide enough to maintain with a tractor and bush hog, and leaves all onlookers with dropped jaws and overwhelming power toy envy.

Sunlight now pours in to what was til this moment a dark tangle of hostile vegetation, feeding the Dogwood and Redbud that ignite the woods in springtime. A joyful family--or 2 horses abreast-- can now ramble through what started as deer trails through brambles so thick I'd emerge bloodied from my romps.

The power to destroy. When wielded wisely, destruction is the launching point for new creation.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

West Virginia Man Makes Big City News

Wolf sends me this link from work. Even Capital Hill is impressed!

One of my intrepid neighbors was busted today after a high speed chase when a cop caught him weaving back and forth in the road with a 6-pack strapped to the front of his riding mower. The arresting officer chased him down on foot and dragged him off the mower.

Now we know something DOES run like a Deere. (Think he had a donut in with the 6-pack?)

What do you want to bet the defendent pleaded, "I was just tryin' to git 'er done!"

...Come to think of it, I may even have a picture of him from the lawnmower races at the County Fair....

(PS: Cy, wanna go to the Open? Campbell's gonna be riding this one for WEEKS!)

Wordless Wednesday



Monday, October 1, 2007

One Breath Poetry Haiku: Snips and Snails


Snips and snails: the tank
at the nursing home. Boys play.
For Granddad, too real....


Manic Monday: Orange



Life: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

Home again. Great to be back on a horse after spending the better part of the last four days in a car. Amazing trip it was, despite the circumstances that threatened to keep me home and the last minute shuffling that took place when I was able to leave, albeit a day later than intended.

Home again. Muscles screaming from sitting still hour after hour are stretched into relief. As I ride out towards the mown corner of the field, I go through some of the mounted exercises that make my clients cry and curse, and cause one student to dub me her "Evil Master." That followed up by teaching Bogie, the horse, lateral work (moving sideways and forwards simultaneously, a great strengthening and stretching exercise) and riding out a pretty harmless bucking fit alternately torture and massage muscles back to life.

After some intense training, I take Bogie for a breather around the field to let him catch his breath and his thoughts. I ponder thoughts of my own. I know what I need to do to keep my body at the top of its game. I know to eat right, take my vitamins, and drink waaaay more water in the day than I think I need. I know the stretches the chiropractor promises will keep me out of his office, and I know to floss at least once a day after I brush. And that whole 8 hours of sleep a night concept? Sounds divine!

So what of reality? What about those vitamins that clattered in my backpack, untouched throughout my journey? What of that flossing and those stretches, that take only a few minutes of applied intentionality but yield priceless returns? What good is that knowledge when it festers in forgotten brain-space?

It takes 21 days to form a new habit. Actions spring from habits, lives are shaped through actions. We don't need New Year's to commit to transmuting old intentions into new habits.

A few minutes of remembering for 21 days. The bargain of the year for eternal youth--or at least vibrant living.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sunset Earth: Along the Mississippi



So what lies are you going to tell me today? my uncle August used to say to me.

As many as I can think of, I'd say. As many as I can think of....

~Brian Andreas
I don't think I'm sleeping until I awaken from a bad dream.

In reality, I am alone, in an unknown house, no notes or indications of any kind. I am locked out of the car that contains my photos, my phone, my notes, my computer-- in short, everything that I really need to be getting done. For a brief moment I contemplate the futility of longing for my sweatshirt and my saline-- my contacts aren't as fond of naps as the rest of me.

A computer hums quietly in the corner office. I woke with enthusiastic ideas tumbling around in my mind, and I'm grateful for the means to corral them before they disappear beyond the edge of consciousness. A reminder on the monitor--- "THINK""-- and a framed quote on the wall make me feel right at home:

"People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I do not believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they cannot find them, make them." ~George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Juicy

What fruit are we? When
Pressure squeezes flesh, grates zest,
Juice reveals our core.

The Battle is Over

I feel like the knight in my Wordless Wednesday contribution. Exhausted. Clinging to stillness, to peace. Grateful that the battle is over.

I pull up the Birthday Video Cy made for me this time last year. I play it in dark moments like this, when circumstance threatens to make me forget who I am. This gift reminds me. Again, thank you, Cyrus.

I finally smile.

Between Battles: Wordless Wednesday

Overseas Traveling Love Song

In keeping with the romantic air cast by this mornings post, I light upon this love song. Lovers of travel, traveling lovers, take notes. Survivers of Spanish 101 everywhere, be vindicated!

This is proof that sometimes what you say plays second fiddle to how you say it.


Unique Proposals: Blog Your Blessings Sunday

This headline captures my heart this morning: Crossword Puzzle Solved With a Hitch. Our dashing hero conspired with writers at The Boston Globe to create a marriage proposal within the magazine puzzle for his crossword-crazy love.

Ah, swoon! I'm such a sucker for stories like that. With today's shortage of dragons to slay in urban areas, I love hearing about the wildly creative lengths a lover with go to to make his proposal reflect the uniqueness and significance of the relationship. (The dragons appreciate it as well!)

My mind wanders back 10 years or so ago. After weeks of plotting (and riding lessons) the Big Day arrived--but in secret! SHHHHHHH!

A woman and her best friend showed up at the farm, checking the place out, considering riding lessons. My Mom/ Business Partner brought them into the indoor riding arena as part of the tour. Down at the other end, I opened the massive sliding doors and a shaft of light sliced straight down the length of the ring to where they stood.

Her almost-fiancee, fully suited in shining armor, bestrode my most tolerant lesson horse. I led the patient mare up the length of that glowing sunbeam. The bride-to-be had no clue what was going on until her true love lifted the visor of his helm, and,
backlit by brilliant sunshine, knelt on bended knee before her.

Being a vital part of that moment of such vastness, such promise, such explosive joy is one of the treasures of my life.

If your heart is dancing like mine right now, enjoy this photo sequence of "the proposal in the rain." I hope the photographer felt as privileged as I did.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Wild Women Week

Rumors running rampant around the web remind me to update the pages around Wild Women Week. All in due time. Meanwhile, those rumors? Lies. All lies.

Well, mostly....

Manic Monday: Today's Questions Answered

You’ve won $100,000 – but have to give it all away. To which charity or institution would you donate it?

I will create the Laughing Gypsy Foundation and use the $100k as seed money to grow abundant endowments. The charities close to my heart will benefit infinitely more from the perpetual returns than from a single gift.

What do you think is the most soothing sound?

The sound of horses munching hay on a winter's night. The gentle breaking of waves. The hawk's cry from a clear blue summer sky. The constant conversation of a stream. I know, more than one, but this world is so full of wonders, why must we settle for a single superlative?

Does time heal all wounds?

That's a big fat lie. Time itself is an illusion, it heals nothing. But time does give a backdrop for growth to occur, the kind of growth that toughens abraded sensitivites and heals brokenness far stronger than unwounded flesh. Time also provides a platform for faith to work its glorious alchemies....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Medieval Reenacting, Modern Reporting

The Washington Post lies in ambush on the table when I finally dredge up dinner. I idly thumb through, looking for something that goes well with spaghetti. I'm amazed--and excited-- to find a huge article on current interest in the Middle Ages. Last weekend the reporter braved an SCA event in our neighboring kingdom of Atlantia. Today he brings news from the past back to his modern readers.

Yesterday, I ran amok with close friends and benevolent foes at my own shire's annual Siege of Glengary. Knights and ladies, lady knights, merchants, musicians, children and rogues enjoyed battles to take castles and bridges (and a colorful tavern brawl), displays of intricate arts from cordials to hand carts, a period feast cooked by a Food Network celebrity, and a night of middle eastern drumming and dancing.

I devour both the pasta and the Post. The article is well written, and I enjoy the photos. I am biased--I immediately notice the lack of horses, the very source of and inspiration for the word "chivalry". I dig up a photo of my fiery warhorse Sioux and I, taken by Scott Gordon, a wonderful friend and photographer both, at a previous Siege of Glengary. The site that year was larger, so I was able to bring equestrian games into the revelry. "Putting the cheval back in chivalry," I muse.

The Post reporter interviews a spectrum of participants, and touches on the appeal. He defines the reasons people DO it, but there's another point at stake: why people ARE it. I've heard it said that people are human BEINGS not human DOINGS. That is something that gets lost in this era, when people are defined by the jobs they perform or the roles they play. Participation in groups such as the SCA is not escapism, but an expression of a truth at times more honest than modern life allows.

The article mentions SCA groups in the greater DC area. I'm sorry that my own shire of Sylvan Glen is not mentioned. Close enough to DC to be home to increasing hordes of commuters, yet still out on the wild, wonderful frontier. Come to think about it, I prefer it that way.

I yawn, stretch, look at the clock. I put a handful of pictures from centuries ago (it seems like just yesterday) up on Laughing Gypsy Photography. The rest of the pictures will join them soon enough, as well as an event report. For now, I'll dreams of histories to come.

Shenandoah National Park: Green Thumb Sunday

a rainy day.
a mossy path.
an ancient arch invites us into adventure....


Friday, September 21, 2007

Fruit Smoothie Revisited

dancing jubilance
sings of antioxidants
flu hadn't a chance!

Friday's Feast: Birthday Edition

Appetizer
What is your favorite type of art?

Heartfelt, penetrating, passionate, uplifting, challenging, vulnerable

Soup
When was the last time you got a free lunch (or breakfast or dinner)? Who paid for it?

Just now. My cousins who share living space and lives with me just shared their stirfry (yummy!) Before that, my other cousins, who invited me over last night for a pirate party to celebrate my birthday (yarrrrrr!) Before that, the night before, when my beloved took me to dinner and Stardust to celebrate my Birthday. Soon to come: tomorrow night, at an SCA event, a medieval feast prepared by a superstar of the Food Network, courtesy of Tink and the Tribe, followed the next night by another Birthday dinner by the home cousins, and then Cy was talking about hitting Ryans the next night for yet another Birthday (he's trying to figure out how to get the kitchen staff to come out and join the waitresses in singing). Answering this question makes me feel EXTREMELY well loved... and VERY well fed.

And I look forward to reciprocating! I love creating exotic, never-before-been-imagined feasts for appreciative audiences, and now have gorgeous uber-sharp Japanese damascus steel Birthday knives to take preparation itself to new levels of deliciousness.


Salad
On a scale of 1-10 with 10 being highest, how emotional are you?

17. That being said, I've lived with them intimately and eternally and know how to weight them (or ignore them) in decisive moments. Sometimes their input is inappropriate. Sometimes it is invaluable. They lie, they cheat, they steal but they also strike deep and true, and wield an awesome power. They have been my biggest saboteurs, yet are integral to my success in both the business and relational (with humans and otherwise) arenas.

Main Course
Approximately how long do you spend each day responding to emails?

More than I should. Waaaay more than I should!

Dessert
To what temperature do you usually set your home’s thermostat?

Thermostat??? Whatever God wants! Last week, I could see my breath until around lunchtime. A few days before that, when I hit the final landing on the way up to my room, I imagined I was in a sauna. Digging for a silver lining, at least this way I get to maximize my wardrobe.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Fruit Smoothie: The Best Medicine

Berries, fruits, OJ
Crushed ice and liquid sunshine
Be gone, old man flu!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stalking Autumn: Hot Photography Tip

My words are visible in the chill kitchen air when I "Good Morning!" the cousins over the coffeepot. They're calling for temps in the 80s later this week, but for now I contemplate pulling out my fingerless gloves just to type comfortably.

Cold air brings change. The kids have the cut-and-dry clarity of back to school. We big people, after years of indoctrination in that end of summer shift, have been cut loose to seek and create our own transitions.

I stumble across The Foliage Network just now. They track autumn's golden journey--and remove the second-guesswork for color-junkies. Cool stuff! I'd like to spend the next month stalking and stumbling upon unexpected explosions of scarlets and golds. Unfortunately, the Ta-Da book reminds me of other priorities. I'm thinking The Foliage Network will be valuable in targeting a PEAK experience ;-)

As we roamed Shenandoah National Park and Skyline Drive last week, I kept seeing pictures as they'd be when the leaves turned, wishing I knew when that'd be.... Now, I'm ready to return at the drop of a hat!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Wild Waterfall Week

By following some unspoken wisdom, we soon fall into the perfect system for planning our hikes. We're playing with weather and time/ distance constraints on the one hand and a stack of random books from the library on the other.

The books prove themselves almost immediately. Waterfalls of Virginia and West Virginia is our north star. We look at the regional map and find the waterfalls that fit with our time needs. The author rates the different trails and falls according to beauty, trail type, photographic ease, etc. We then cross check the trails in Day and Overnight Hikes of the Shenandoah National Park to glean additional nuggets. These resources are awesome! We quickly make our choices from the abundant trails and waterfalls in the area, and are well rewarded for that bit of extra planning.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Wild Women Weekend

It's not a weekend, and its not just women, but the WWW that has been explosively taking shape is officially underway!

I'm alone in the condo when I awake. A "G'morning Sunshine!" note on table tells me Todd set the coffee maker up so all I have to do is hit PLAY. Little, considerate things like that make me feel like thoroughly pampered. He and Tink are off on the tour that comes with the condo.

I revel in the silence... and turn my back on my TaDa Book.

Marching Orders

Shhhh... be still. Quiet.
What's God whispering? EXPLODE
"Wahoo!" and be it!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Hot Dog!

I remember hearing a preacher talk once about an intense word study he was involved in concerning the word Hallelujah! Of course, literally we know Hallelujah means "praise God," but this man wanted to find a true equivalent in our own language and culture. After great pains and much research, he boiled down all his studies to this one solitary phrase: "Hot dog, this is it!"

~Taylor Field, A Church Called Graffiti

Saturday, September 8, 2007

An Unexpected Surprise

An unexpected piece adds excitement to the puzzle.

I venture into the Maul, thinking I'm picking up a polarizer for my Panasonic, through the JC Penney entrance. The "Infinity% off!" signs suck me into the racks. A voice in my head puts me back on track, saying "these are just junk clothes to begin with, you don't really want them, keep going for what you want!"

Strangely, none of the other stores seemed to be running sales. Before long I find the Ritz Camera Store. While Shanna, the world funnest sales person, rummages under the counter to find the filter I need, I go to drool over the camera I WANT-- and find IT.

As low a price as I've found so far. Interest-free payments. A nice printer, $15 with purchase (I'd been printer shopping, to no avail, just the day before.) A handful of other perks.

Shanna is mystified. "I think the sign is a mistake. It's $100 less than on our price list!"

The voice in my head smiles smugly.

The new camera hangs around my neck as I type ;-)

An Ounce of Preparation, Part II

One thing that drives me is, I want to Know. What I think is casual conversation, Cy laughs and relabels interrogation.

We have a brief stay in Masanutten, and I know nothing. I don't want to just get acquainted, I want a trusting relationship, I want to become the mountain's beloved confidant in too short a time.


I put out my feelers--the web lets them reach far. Three degrees of separation connects me a photographer who loves and knows the mountains the way I want to--and is a neighbor on SmugMug. Dave is generous with his insights. A trip to the library (air-conditioned bliss on a sweltering day) and AAA lay further framework. Casual conversation (I'm working on toning down the interrogation!) at parties turns up little but a recommendation of bear bells.

Jamal joins me at Borders and reads Naruto as I power back and forth between the shelves and the squishy chairs with armloads of books. They prove to be both a disappointment-- no insights revealed and overall crummy photography-- and an inspiration: that leaves more to be discovered. I laugh at myself and admit to him, "here I'll do all this digging and planning, and in the 11th hour end up just following where the Spirit leads!" That's cool. We both know the Spirit is the world's best tour guide!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

An Ounce of Preparation

It starts innocently enough.

We're in a power-tool-fueled frenzy building the display walls for the fair when Tink and I notice the travel agent hanging alluring signs a few spaces down. "Oooh, let's take a vacation!" The thought cuts instantly through sweat and grime, exhaustion and hunger.

"We need a girls retreat." Tink agrees. "In a few weeks lets go down to Masanutten for a week, for a couple of days, whatever."

Mass o' nuttin'?

It takes me a bit to realize that Masanutten is a mountain and that Tink is being serious. She's been given a time share at a resort near the Shenandoah National Park. Now she's suggesting that we... take a break?!!!! When the weather is still nice enough to teach and work?!!!!!

It takes awhile to let that sink in. It takes longer to actually consider it as a possibility,
much as I REALLY need a break. It takes no time flat to start laying the foundation for an incredible adventure once I decide to go.

The Grace of a Glimpse

Perhaps we are too small and near, too brief-lived ever to graps the eternal sweep of this land, the comings and goings of mountain ranges and rivers, forests and animals. But moments of illumination will forever surprise us, like a wolf glimpsed as he glides silently across a clearing, or a sudden shaft of light on a tundra ridge—the truth of everything caught in an instant of clarity and focus. All we can hope is to be there, and to be looking in the right direction.

~Nick James

Monday, September 3, 2007

Updraft

Soaring
So high above it all


Scorning

Gravity's grasp

Upgrading
Crippling groundbound lies

With live laws of light
Of flight


UGLY OLE VULTURE OVERHEAD
YOUR BEAUTY SNATCHES MY BREATH!

Trusting
Your living

To something you can't even see
You rise
effortlessly above cloudheights into infinity

Soaring

Motionless
You smash even Time


IF I COULD...

Losing
Myself in strange
laws
I barely dare believe

Updrafts carry me
Above cloudheights
Effortlessly

Soaring
I'm so high above it all

Closing
In on Home
Beyond infinity

Sunday, September 2, 2007

A Sylvan Passing

A recent storm claimed one of the ancient oaks. To give a sense of scale, two of me could hug its trunk and still fall far short of touching, long gangly arms and all.

I wonder, as I always do at funerals, if I have any right to mourn. Perhaps, after its raucous crash, the tree sighed and settled deeply into the soil. "Ahhhhh... I've been waiting for two hundred years to lie down...."

Twilight Flirtation
















twilight flirtation
sunset dancing with treetops
love-sway, boughs blushing





Friday, August 31, 2007

Photographic Musing

Wolf and I browse Art Wolfe's collection of photos in Alaska.

"Some of these shots are amazing," he confides, "but some are just kinda nice. Not like Jim Brandenburg, where all the shots are incredible."

I'm thinking the exact same thing. "Mmm," I agree. "Art Wolfe shows the way things appear. Brandenburg shows the way they really are. Their true selves. Their secret selves."

What makes that distinction? Its the same difference as the description of someone in their alumni profile vs. a story their best friend would share about them. I'm reminded of Robert Pirsig's pursuit of "Quality" in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

That's my relentless quest when I woo the world through my lens. I want to know the world the way I want to be known. I want that lover's intimate understanding of the heart and spirit at stake, and the skill to translate that onto paper and pass it on.

A photograph-- however beautiful, however technically brilliant-- is silent without its secret story to make it sing.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Creative Blogger

Mark over at The Green Fingered Photographer just honored this Most Noble and Honourable Gypsy the Splendid of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch with the Creative Blogger Award. *SWOON!* It's PURPLE!!!!!!!!!!!

Mark, a green-hearted photographer, has given his business the greatest name: Dragons and Damsels Wildlife Photography. He has great shots, in particular, of dragonflies and damselflies.

So now the fun part (rubbing hands together). This round of Creative Blogger Awards goes to:

The Film Geek
, who directs me with surety through a cinematographic wilderness, slams me with eloquent truth when I least expect it, and understands that I wasn't STALKING John Cusack that day in NYC...

DC Comictician on Star Trekiology. Elvis and I dance on opposite theological extremes--I'm on fire for Jesus, he's an atheist (I assume)-- but we agree, the religious right has twisted Christianity into a poisonous political pawn (and a big fat hairy lie), and he's extremely creative expressing it.

The Wandering Wolf
. His blog is sparse (and here's hoping that'll change) but his photography website is rich. And when tells you he's not creative, pull out the salt shaker.

The Cy Blog
. While I prefer the old title, "Blogging for Burgers," Cy still serves up the same hilarity, good sense, investment wisdom and construction tips well-seasoned with insanity. Cy, I hope you are surviving the gigantic man-eating bears that can only be killed with advanced weaponry. Come back soon!

Geoffrey Chaucer Hath a Blog. Chaucer and his posse don't write often but their posts are worth the wait.
I hope Thomas scrounged up the "moneyes to buye a newe blakberrie (for his hath been y-swiped by the Frensshe)"

Your Latent Nobility

Are you convinced of your own nobility? Need credibility to convince the rest of the universe?

click here. And tell us the results!
Posted by Her Imperial Majesty Gypsy the Mirthful of Old Yarkhillshire.

Is It That Time Already?!!!



Tiny Pretty Things: Locust


how do you do it

locust? grasshopper now... and
now a butterfly!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Brought to you by Deepest Space

I play around tonight taking the tutorial and test at Galaxy Zoo. Too COOL! Scientist recognize that humans are far more adept identifying patterns than computers (go figure). They are enlisting mere mortals such as you and I to map out the universe. After a short interactive introduction, you take a fun test. If you've paid attention, you'll pass. You're then qualified to help ID unknown galaxies far far away.

On another note, whoever created this video has time on his hands-- and a great sense of humor. I guess we need UFO debunkers along with galaxy identifiers, so the real UFOs don't lose credibility. Enjoy!

Me, I'm off to
to check Area 51 Cam....



Glacier's Echo: Tiny Pretty Things


glacier's deep echo
pebble, in boulder's embrace
"you've got your mom's eyes!"

Photo Upload Update, Pageant Reflecting

Now live:
Sunday Kiddie Tractor Pull
Miss Jefferson County Pageant

This Gypsy's no fan of beauty pageants. But one of my most diligent horsemanship students enters the Pageant this year, with no training or experience.

"I'm tired of not doing things because they're different, or they make me nervous," she confides.

Way to go, kiddo. THAT'S reason enough for anything.

She carries herself like a queen....

Ambushing the Eclipse

This morning
My alarm and I conspire
To ambush the Eclipse

She glimpses our shadowstalking and leaps
Through an open window into the clouds

Joining the sunrise
Waving urgently
Crying:

"Goodbye! Goodbye!"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Manic Monday: Faith

The Green Man

Photo Upload Update: Saddles and Smiles

The horse show included classes for the special needs riders of Saddles and Smiles, an extremely popular local Therapeutic Riding organization. Horses spark an unfathomable alchemy deep in our primordial selves. The horses bring out new strengths and miracles in the kids. The kids bring out new strengths and miracles in the volunteers. Not a soul walks away untouched.

Photos from the classes are now online.

Photo Upload Update: Lawnmower Races

Carving through fair photos is the focus of the next few days. I just put up the pictures from the lawnmower races. Can I tell you, while I was watching I got the overwhelming urge to join in. Those babies can boogie!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Redneck Ger

As we unload the PVC lattice this afternoon, I wonder anew... can I make it into a quick-n-dirty strong-n-sturdy ger?

Striking the Fair

The alarum lets me sleep til 8 this morning and wakes me with the welcome promise of a routine day. I gaze out the window where an emerald explosion shatters the sunshine-- the same rains which wreaked such devastation resurrected my pastureland.

I mosey into the green morning towards church for the first time in a month--yippee!--pausing on the way for fast food breakfast. Coffee, Dr. Pepper, coffee, Dr. Pepper... the rising heat makes the decision for me. Beelining for the soda machine, I'm stopped by a hesitant voice, and a long-lost acquaintance. I'm impressed--its been close to 7 years, and we didn't really know each other that well to begin with. I sure wouldn't have recognized her.

Sandy blogged about thin lines recently, the thin lines connecting us all. I think of them as threads. Perhaps a thread will remain single. Even so, it will add color and texture to your life. But more often than not, that single thread entwines with others to create the epic tapestries that are our lives. I don't know why this particular thread returns to the pattern just now. Far be it from me to waste time wondering when I could be weaving. We exchange contact info and head back into the day.

Afternoon and we're at the fairgrounds for the last time, striking the booth. I take some shots before Tink arrives to remember how it looked.



Amazing how we had no plan, no attachment to outcome beyond "effective", and yet from nothing, something grew and continued growing. That something was home base for a whole week and worked better than anything we could have planned. This is the way life works, yet my astonishment and delight in that truth never cease.

In less than 2 hours the trucks are loaded. The nearly-empty building echoes with finality.
And with that, life returns to normal. Whatever that means!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Farewell Fair

Well, its over.

I am beyond exhausted. My ears still ring from tractors/ monster trucks/ lawnmowers/ antique engines/etc. I've snuck into places I shouldn't be, had conversations I should've already had, reveled in moments that will only magnify, and wished I'd jimmied open more doors to walk through. I've hung with bullriders and politicians and politicians who are bullriders. My alarum clock has thrown its hands up in disgust and walked out on the job in frustration as many times as I would've gladly thrown temper tantrums if I'd had an ounce of energy. Well over 2000 pictures patiently wait for review and uploading.

We've gone through days of chill and rain, we've pushed 100 and swum in outrageous humidity, today we pulled through the likes of a tornado.

I've been fantasizing about pitching a tent in some wilderness--the only soul for miles.

...Yet tonight there's a lump in my throat as I leave--is this ALL?

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Today: The Short Version Pt. 1

I realize one thing I don't want to be when I grow up: a cow show photographer. Now, cows are beautiful and I'm a big fan of steak and ice cream, but the shows moove so udderly slowly.... Not that I blame the cows, some are so full they are leaking milk and can barely get their legs around their udders. Marching with alacrity is well outside the range of possibility.

I meander down to the Kiddie Tractor Pull, which is always a hoot. The kids ride a pedal tractor hooked to an itty-bitty stoneboat, which increases the weight as the kids forge ahead. Everyone gets really into it, and it makes for great photo fodder.

All the same, nothing much is going on tonight. I'm really dragging, and thinking the highest and best use of a slow evening is editing pictures and catching up on sleep.

As I head back to the car, the band starts up. It's a ticketed show, and I really don't feel that kind of commitment. I pull a few shots from afar, then move in closer. No one stops me, so I pull a few more, and go into the wings of the grandstand. No one stops me so I scamper into a primo spot in the covered grandstand.

The band is Poverty Neck Hillbillies, and boy, do they love their audience. The lead singer mills through the stands, working the crowd, then calls their devoted fans into the quagmire in front of the grandstand. Heck with commitment--in a heartbeat I'm down on the stage and the drummer is grinning into my camera.

Slow Morning

Slow morning, and much needed, that. I’m editing pictures and exchanging pleasantries with passers-by. Some folks are shocked into flight when I say “good morning.” Their eyes explode with that deer-in-the-headlights look and they spook towards the door. Others leap at the chance for conversation. Exhibitors I’ve befriended over the last few days pop in to say hi. The attorney general stops in to talk about future photography projects.

I have a long, excited conversation with one couple. They packed their lives into an RV for a two year trial. That was 9 years ago. I tell them they are my heroes, and they spend the next 20 minutes or so answering my nuts-and-bolts questions and mapping out my future life. It has long been a dream to pack up and hit the road, but timing is everything and I honor the Moment. However, the itch to roam has been growing over the past couple of years and the season is approaching, the Moment draws closer. Not yet imminent, but closer.

In the meantime, I'm slowly but surely getting Fair Pictures online.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Daybreak Conquering

daybreak conquering;
phoenix from blackness, born from
yesterday's sunset

daybreak conquering;
promises kept of new life
vanquish dark despair