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


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

What is your favorite type of art?

Heartfelt, penetrating, passionate, uplifting, challenging, vulnerable

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.

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!

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


So high above it all


Gravity's grasp

Crippling groundbound lies

With live laws of light
Of flight


Your living

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


You smash even Time


Myself in strange
I barely dare believe

Updrafts carry me
Above cloudheights

I'm so high above it all

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