Wrapped up in Virginia

I fell off the radar when I hopped in the car and drove out to the Virginia countryside for the winter holiday.  It was beautiful, sunny, relaxing, and time stood still for a few days as I enjoyed the rest and atmosphere.  I did remember to photograph the Esjan shawl before deciding to give it away.

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In a moment of solitude, I walked to the top of the hill and laid out the shawl.  The colors really shined with the soft, setting sunlight hitting it.

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While the colors are beautiful and I love the pattern, the combination of it all didn’t feel like me.  It wasn’t quite bright enough or soft enough.  I will probably make it again, but next time, I will start with more stitches and create more of a crescent shape instead of the half circle.

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I can’t believe we only have one more day left of 2013.  I’m spending a lot of my time today thinking about the past year – all of the ups and downs, the tears, the laughter, all of the wonderful adventures I embarked on and the amount of personal growth I felt.  It’s been incredible.

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The shawl ended up with someone who truly appreciated it.  I have dozens of photographs of what I did in Virginia, along with more stories and thoughts about 2013 and the quickly approaching 2014.  I hope you are having a wonderfully festive time and gaining everything you need from it.

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It Simply Was

I’ve been mulling over what could be said about the trip; what needs to be said, what I want to say.  I’ve been trying to think of what to write about, what to dwell on, what to remember, and what I would do again.

As I said before, when people ask me about it, I have a hard time saying anything.  How was it, really? What did I gain from it?  What did I love about it? I hesitated to answer just as I’ve been hesitating writing about it.  Then, this past weekend, I went to a wedding with my family.  As my brother and I were sitting in the car together on the way, I suddenly realized that he would enjoy going to Burning Man, and I told him such, going on to explain why I think that is true.  Some of the reasons were the same as mine – the travel, the community, the art – oh, the art!  And some were different, that we seek out different qualities in people and react differently to large groups, constant interaction, etc.

I thought about this more, recalling the times I had felt compelled to tell someone about the trip.  I noticed it all came down to that statement: “You would have liked it.”

After writing the post about Decompressing, a friend of mine told me about Experiential Truth, that some things cannot be summed up with words.  Period.  Really, in this situation, I can’t tell you what it was like, nor do I honestly want to.  Everyone experiences Burning Man differently, and for me it was deeply emotional and intimate.  It gives to you the realizations, emotions, and entertainment that you need most.  And, what you need is not necessarily going to match what I need.  My daughter and I did almost exactly the same things that week and walked away from those instances with completely different perspectives on what happened, and a different sense of peace than each other.  She was happy to spend her afternoon in a net hanging over a dance floor inside of a giant blue whale.  I joined her for 5 or 10 minutes before growing bored and wanting to move.  She spent close to an hour content in her nest, chatting away with whoever else decided to rest there next to her as I meandered through the bowels of the whale, chatting with the bartender, finding a pile of free henna and making art on our bodies, climbing scaffolding and engaging in conversation elsewhere.

When it comes to the experiential truth, all I can say is there are good and bad, and the degree of each depends on your personal priorities.  Next time, I will have the awareness to take time to myself so I don’t shut down mentally and emotionally before the end.   Separating myself from the crowd is not only ok, but it is necessary for my experience to continue being fun.  Next time, I will adventure with Ellette for a day with the purpose being to hop on every single art car we see because for her, the art cars are what make the experience exciting.

So, how was Burning Man?  It simply was.

It was jumping on the playa with people we just met:

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It was exploring art:

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(Yes, that is a giant mustache teeter-totter.)

It was challenging ourselves:

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It was giant:

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It was illuminated:

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It was spiritual:

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It was circus:

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It was adventure:

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It was solitude:

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It was faith:

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It was making friends:

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It was community:

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It was breathtaking:

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And most importantly, it was this:

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Aerial Dance Festival 2013

Oh boy, I was expecting to blog while I was away, but when I pulled out my laptop and charger to begin, I realized I packed the wrong charger.  *doh* So, I aimed to take a lot of pictures to share with you as soon as I got home.  Here is my photo dump update!

 

I got to Boulder on a rainy weekend.  There were clouds everywhere, it was drizzling, and I couldn’t really see much.  I kind of enjoyed how the mountain peaks (or foothill peaks) would poke their heads through the clouds.  The temperature was a little chilly, but I enjoyed walking around and exploring.

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Towards the end of Sunday, the weather picked up a little, so that I could see the mountains better.  I had found the green sock yarn I needed just before leaving, so I cast on my second sock for the trip.

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Monday morning dawned, and classes began.  I was enrolled in Duo Static Trapeze, Cyr Wheel, Advanced Static Trapeze, and Aerial Burlesque.  Each class had something new to offer me, and the energy and enthusiasm was infectious.

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The people were all interesting, supportive, and talented.  There was a significant amount of trust and camaraderie that was created in a short time, which is important when you are hanging off of someone’s feet.

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The Cyr Wheel – a large steel/aluminum circle (similar to a hula hoop, only huge) was a fantastic class.  Shayna, the instructor, did a fantastic job with teaching us, laughing with us, and encouraging us to keep going.  The last couple days were hard for me.  I felt myself getting the movement, which meant that I was throwing myself into it.  This worked wonderfully, until I fell.  I was so committed to getting right, that I frequently ended up on the floor.  I’m totally addicted, and very glad that Shayna teaches Cyr at Aloft here in Chicago.

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I think aerialists have a tendency to brag about the amount of abuse their bodies take during training.  My hands were especially sore and forming blisters and callouses, but my thighs, knees, and ankles were also getting bruised.  This is an indication of our commitment to training, and how hard we are working.  It is a matter of pride, in a way, that are so focused on training.  I really pushed myself beyond my limits, physically, mentally, creatively.

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But it wasn’t all training.  I had one girls’ night.  I was too tired for much more than that.  We went out for dinner and drinks, and found an absinthe bar on a rooftop and enjoyed the experience.

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I found a cute little yarn store where they dye their own yarns.  I love the advertisement!!

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On Saturday morning, before leaving Boulder, I wandered around the farmer’s market, had delicious chai, watching slack rope walkers and bubble blowers, and found a nice spot by the river to relax.

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There are so many faces of Boulder, I think, and they are all jumbled into a small space.  It was fantastic feeling the crush of people and socialization, while being able to walk a block and find silence and solitude when I needed it.

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I wrapped up my stay with a cold micro-brew at the Walnut Brewery and a bit of knitting. I would have had much more done than this, except that when I checked to see if the foot was long enough, I noticed that it was 4 stitches wider than the other one.  Being a perfectionist, I ripped it back to the toe and started over. A flight delay due to weather conditions gave me ample time to catch up, and I was on the cuff by the time I landed in Chicago.  Last night, I cast off the sock!

I met some really amazing people and learned many fantastic things.  I am looking ahead now with a shiny new perspective on what is possible for me, and I am eager to realize it.  The callouses and bruises are fading a bit, and it kind of makes me sad.  But the friendships and connections are still there, and that is the important part.  Thank you, all of my instructors and classmates, for all of the hard work and support you put into the week!  See you next year!

G’bye Seattle!

I am home now, rather reluctantly.  I felt like I hardly was able to explore the city!  There is still so much I want to see and learn about.

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That just means that I am planning a return trip.

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This was the perfect time of year to go, with beautiful weather the entire weekend.

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Everything was in bloom, and the colors were mesmerizing.

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Everywhere I turned there was a beautiful view.  This one was the best.

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What I enjoyed most was the time I spent with family and friends.  There was much-needed laughter and catching up.  I miss them all!

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And of course, nice, relaxing knitting.

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In Seattle

I have been in Seattle since Thursday and I don’t think I have stopped moving since I arrived. This is probably the best weekend I could have come; the sun is shining brightly, there is a beautiful breeze and a warm atmosphere. This is the kind of day the locals don’t tell you about.

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I can’t get over the mountains. I have lived among mountains before, when I ran away with the circus to Arizona, and I have missed them ever since.

Yesterday, I got to watch the sun set over them as we had our dinner at the waterfront. It was breathtaking.

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I have been hustling from adventure to adventure, catching up with friends or here and spending time with my sister, who I haven’t really gotten to hang out with since she moved here nearly ten years ago.

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She took me to Pikes Place Market and Pioneer Square and we had a blast.

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This fish was connected to a strong that the guys would pull when someone got close. Funniest thing to watch!

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After the market, we continued exploring down the waterfront and into Pioneer Square.

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There was a curiosity shop which was more than a little disturbing.

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Yes that is a disco moose. It was in a saloon that we went to for a drink and I couldn’t get over it.

There is more to come; I have a few more days here and done fun things planned. I am trying to remember to take pictures, but I find myself getting distracted by the sunshine.
I love this city!

Spelunking?

I last left you after two days of exploring the Washington DC area.  After that post, we toured the International Spy Museum, but they don’t allow photography in the museum.  You will just have to go there yourself.

We headed back to the house – exhausted, hot (the heat there seems to hover in the air and there is no breeze so the whole city is like a sauna), and sore, and relaxed for a while.  Odin and our host went out for a drive in his nice Mercedes something or other and Ellette and I cooled off and played with the birds.  Kitty, the Cockatoo (I realize I said cockateel the other day – I was incorrect), would not leave me alone and did not like the fact that I was on the computer and not paying attention to him.

After the boys returned, Bryan offered us a late night tour of the National Mall.

The cooler night air was refreshing, but we were all tired.  Poor Ellette was carried for most of the trip.

Despite being near midnight, there were still a number of people out visiting the monuments.  I am relieved we did not go during the day, because heat and crowds is not my thing.  The press of bodies and noise would have made me feel claustrophobic and irritable.

This was as far as we got.  Ellette, at this point, was practically sleeping like a monkey, clinging to Odin’s back as we made our way back to the car.  The driver was nearly falling asleep standing up, and my muscles were beginning to retaliate.

Sunday dawned as our last day of vacation, and there were several ideas of what we could do.  Ellette really wanted to go swimming, but the nearest swimming area was 3 hours in the opposite direction of home.  Odin tried to call his aunt in West Virginia, since it was near some swimming holes and sort of on our way home.  We couldn’t reach her, however.  The idea of finding something relatively along our route back to Chicago was appealing, however, and Odin kept looking for places while I perused tourist guides for the area.

That’s when we found Luray Caverns.  Words cannot even begin to describe what it was like.  When we arrived, there was a large tourist center set up, with a labyrinth and a museum next door.  The parking lot was packed.  We looked at each other with concerned glances – what did we get ourselves into?  How many people were here?  Was it worth it?

It was.  Hands down – best experience ever.

This was an 18″ pool that was reflecting the ceiling.  Simply breathtaking.

Stalactites form crystals on the inside which resonate when tapped.  This organ was hooked up to a series of wires and hammers that played a song on the stalactites.  Someone had gone through and methodically located over 50 tones in order to set this up.  It was pretty cool.  Unfortunately, there were a few people in our group who were disrespectful and talked through the whole thing (I don’t know if you know this about caverns – but they echo.  A lot).

We decided to try out the labyrinth, which was also a lot of fun.  There were four goals we had to find (spelled out ‘Discover a Secret Garden’ – I know, original), which sent us all over trying to find our way.  There was a fountain in the center that we had the hardest time locating.

Eventually we found it.

We made it back to Chicago on Monday and spent the evening relaxing and bathing.  The rest of my week is going to be taken over by prep work for the Custer Street Festival this weekend.  If you are in the area, you should come check it out.  It’s a pretty awesome festival.  And this year, my friend Rebecca with The Complete Fool has a booth, almost right next to mine.  It’s going to be fantastic.

Like Outer Space

It is difficult to sum up the past two days of exploration.  Right now, I have a cheeky bird sitting on my chest as I lounge on the sofa writing this, and it is rather distracting having said cockateel staring at you with those big, unblinking eyes.  But he is a cuddly bird, and occassionally nuzzles against my shoulder or chin, which I think I’m pretty ok with.  It’s the trying to french me or pick my nose that freaks me out.

So, yesterday.  We got up early and headed out to the Udvar-Hazy Air and Space Museum.

There were German and Korean planes.

Early flying machines.

And modern ones.

And space age Discoveries:

The sheer magnitude of the museum was amazing.  We spent around 5 hours checking out everything and still did not get our fill.  Only tired legs and a cranky child pulled us away.  Combined, Ellette and I took hundreds of pictures, I have had trouble selecting only a few to show you.

After that we came back to the house, relaxed a bit, and then I looked up yarn stores in the area.  I went over to Fibre Space and collected some souvenir yarn.  I had a little accident involving a basket of tiny skeins of sock yarn in enticing colorways and my poor impulse control.

We spent some more time in Old Town Alexandria, falling in love and talking about whether or not we could see ourselves living here.  Everyone pretty much agrees that this is so much better than Chicago.

This morning, we hopped on the Metro into the city to visit Eastern Market, and swung by Peregrine Espresso on the way.

Eastern Market was pretty cool.  I love how alive and vibrant everything is.

Mustache photo courtesy of Fuzzy Ink.  And yes, that is the Cecilia Chemise I am wearing.  I don’t know what awaits us tomorrow.  Unfortunately, we will have to head back to the midwest soon.

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