Monday, November 30, 2009

Community visit update from Louisa, Virginia

It was helpful to have been in Yogaville during our first night and day south of our familiar environments and people. Being in the warmth, nourishment and safety of an intentional community--which is also a spiritual ashram--was indeed a blessing as the reality sank in more deeply of moving further away from our beloved family and friends. As one friend put it, after Woodburn Hill Farm, we're setting out "into the wild" where our now month-long quest continues. Even though we enjoyed our brief stay that ended with a really wonderful Laughter Yoga class, we are clear that ashram living is not for us, but here are a few pics to give you an idea of this special place.



 

 We are currently at a wooded and sparsely populated campground nestled next to either a large pond in Louisa, Virginia.  Now that we are finally within short driving distance of Twin Oaks, one of the oldest and most established intentional communities in the United States, we will have lunch and a tour tomorrow, thanks to being hosted by a kind soul there. There are several other communities in the area, and we will spend the next few days following up contacts with them for visits.
Today is a cloudy, rainy day here in Louisa and, thanks to Escapees.com, we are grateful to have a discounted campsite ($17.50 per night!) with electric, sewer and water hookups included. It is such a treat to simply flush the toilet, run the water, plug in electrical devices, and have no worries about our tank levels, batteries, solar panels, etc. We spend a fair amount of time managing and keeping track of these details, so being in a campground where we're fully hooked up is a luxury we don't take for granted. Keith is the one who deals with most of those details, and although Mary does her best to pull her weight, she really appreciates all of his judiciousness. Thank you, Keith!

As for life on the road, we are beginning to get into the groove of it, now that we are on our own. One thing for sure is that---like most any life---it necessitates connection, and we look forward to making many new friends along the way. Still, nothing is as special as hearing from loved ones and readers which can really lift our spirits. Please feel free to leave comments or send an email from time to time. We'll be sure to respond.

Sending our best to you from Louisa, Virginia!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Yogaville

After saying goodbye to the good folks at Woodburn Hill Farm, we set sail to Fredericksburg, Virginia for a goodbye brunch with Mary's aunt Peg and Uncle Mike, and we were graciously joined by Mary's brother Jim, his wife Maggie, and our niece and nephew Raquel and Patrick, who made the trip down from Alexandria just to see us one more time. We are grateful for them coming so far for brunch!

Now, after a long drive through the beautiful Virginia countryside, we have arrived for an overnight stay at Yogaville, an ashram founded by Sri Swami Satchidananda on 600 acres of lush forest. Deer graze openly on the grounds, and don't even flinch when we walk by with Tina (however, when they hear the noise of our diesel engine roaring towards them, they high-tail it into the woods in a flash!). 

An interesting note: one of our Laughter Yoga friends back in Western Massachusetts did his Laughter Yoga certification course here at Yogaville (a shout out to Mark Sherry!).

While here at Yogaville, we will take advantage of three vegetarian meals a day, yoga classes, and even a Laughter Yoga session on Sunday at noon. As I write this post, Mary is attending satsang, an evening of chanting and singing.

On Tuesday, we will visit Twin Oaks, one of the most famous intentional communities in North America, and next weekend we will spend several days at Abundant Dawn, with a potential visit to the Acorn Community some time prior to the weekend.

Now that we have left the Washington, DC area firmly behind, it seems that we have also truly left the Northeast United States, entering a new phase of our journey around the country. We will keep you posted as newer pastures and vistas greet us around each bend in the road.

---Keith

Friday, November 27, 2009

Images From Woodburn Hill Farm



 
 

 

Mary on Thanksgiving

On the menu:

  • Delicata squash stuffed with sauteed peppers, onions, pine nuts, diced tomatoes, Himalayan salt and thyme
  • Aduki beans with spinach and garlic
  • Fresh Maryland crab cakes fried in olive oil
  • Organic green salad
  • Garlic mashed potatoes
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Pumpkin pie with ginger ice cream

A Great Blue Heron



We spied this heron on a walk with Mary's aunt in Fredericksburg, Virginia. We were within ten or twelve feet and the heron simply sat and peacefully contemplated the water.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving From Keith

Dear All,

Happy Thanksgiving! We are contentedly ensconced in front of a warm woodstove here at Woodburn Hill Farm in Mechanicsville, Maryland. Tina is sound asleep in an old upholstered chair, and people here at the farm are readying for various social gatherings and meals in the surrounding area.

For us, it's a day to take stock, relax by the fire, cook a late afternoon meal, and maybe even watch a movie.

I realize today how very much I do indeed have to be grateful for, and returning to Western Massachusetts last weekend was a reminder of the wealth of friends and loved ones with whom we are still very connected despite the miles between us.

Thank you to everyone for their kindnesses big and small over the years---for the hugs, phone calls, emails, love and support. This process of letting go and hitting the open road has not been easy. In fact, I would say that it is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. It is an experiment, a calculated risk, and a grand opportunity for personal renewal and rebirth.

With David's death behind us and the grieving process following its natural course, we will make our way down the coast, and I look forward to those moments when I can hang my head out the window like a dog, smiling into the winds of change.

For today, I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving, and send you all our love and compassion and gratitude from our hearts to yours.

---Keith

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Movin' On

Well, we did it. After a day of torpor, we managed to extricate ourselves from the metropolitan DC area where we were wallowing somewhat in despair following the loss of our dear friend.

Our wonderful hosts in Takoma Park (Paul Ruther, Laura Kriv and their lovely children Nesha and Lena) left for Chicago to celebrate Thanksgiving with family, and we spent one last day in Takoma Park resting our bones and allowing ourselves to grieve. Our trip to Massachusetts really took a lot out of us, and having an extra day to recover was essential.

We also managed to celebrate the 48th birthday of Mary's brother Jim, and enjoyed a small party with him and his wife Maggie, and our awesome niece and nephew, Raquel and Patrick Rives in Alexandria, Virginia. Jim received a special birthday present--a job offer right here in DC! Congratulations to him are in order!



Today, after a day of errands and driving from northern Maryland to southern Maryland, we managed to empty our tanks at a state park, fill up with diesel and propane, buy wine and beer, pick up fresh Maryland crab cakes, and stock up on other provisions from a local farmer's market for a Thanksgiving feast.

It is duly noted that people here in Maryland are extremely friendly, from the man who filled our propane tank to the women behind the counter at the fish market. Southern graciousness and friendliness is no myth, and it is already apparent that we certainly have moved south. 



Just before sundown, we arrived to Woodburn Hill Farm, the communal farm/intentional community where we lived and were married in 1989. We were heartily welcomed by an old farm friend, a beautiful sunset, and two bald eagles crossing our path as we walked to the hill where our wedding ceremony was performed twenty years ago.

We will spend several restful days here on the farm, have some minor repairs done on the rig, and continue our journey south some time this holiday weekend.

We wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving, and send our heartfelt gratitude and blessings to all.

---Keith and Mary

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Maryland Again

Dear All,

We are now back in Maryland following our bittersweet return to Massachusetts following the death of our dear friend David Semon. It was an exhausting but worthwhile sojourn back to the home we only recently left, and we were able to say goodbye to David in the supportive company of David's family and childhood friends, and our wonderful community of friends in Western Massachusetts. We will be posting photographs from that experience soon, but for now wanted to let you all know that we are back in the DC area, gearing up for the continuation of our journey south.

Many blessings to all as you prepare for Thanksgiving. We are grateful for each and every one of you, and send you our best wishes and love from our hearts to yours. 


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Brief Return to Massachusetts

So, it's been decided that we will briefly return to Massachusetts this coming weekend in order to grieve the loss of our dear friend David in the company of his community of loved ones. While returning to the area from which we so recently departed seems inconvenient on the surface, it is truly perfect on some level, and we trust that it will be the experience that we need at this time of loss and grieving.

On Friday, we will fly from Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) to Boston, and then attend several memorial services in both Lexington and Amherst, Massachusetts.

Now that the decision has been made, it feels like we are doing the right thing. We are so grateful to our friends here in Maryland who have been supporting us with food, love, friendship, a place to park our rig, and the opportunity to openly and freely process this significant life experience. We are also grateful to Mary's family who will care for Tina in our absence and give her the love she needs while we're away.

This has been an unforeseen interruption of our journey, but as a friend pointed out very aptly, it is actually not an interruption, but simply a part of the overall journey.

---Keith

Monday, November 16, 2009

Checking in From Takoma Park, Maryland

We are now at the home of our very gracious friends in Takoma Park, MD, recovering from the tragic news of our friend's sudden death. Being here in Mary's hometown is comforting on many levels, and seeing friends and family certainly brings solace to our heavy hearts.

Today, the sun is shining, the weather is mild, and we're grateful to have so much kind and loving support from our far-flung friends connecting with us by phone, email and Facebook. As for our friends and family here in the DC area, their love and support is equally priceless.

We will post again with more news as our situation unfolds. Until then, please be in touch when you can and we thank everyone for their kind support and compassion at a challenging time in our lives. 

---Keith

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sad News

Due to news of the sudden death of a very dear friend in New England, our journey south is temporarily suspended. We will be traveling back to Massachusetts by train or plane later this week to attend the funeral, and will resume our journey thereafter. Tina and our rig will remain here in Northern Virginia or Maryland.

For now, we are coping with grief, and ask for your prayers, support and love at a very difficult time.

----Keith and Mary

Friday, November 13, 2009

Virginia!

We are now in the Washington, DC metropolitan area, visiting Mary's brother and his family, assorted friends, as well as our nephew Adam, who is now in his first year at George Washington University.

Stay tuned for updates, and please send us an email and say hello!

Seven Stars Farm



After leaving Camphill Special School, we paid an impromptu visit to Seven Stars Farm, a biodynamic farm in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania that produces our favorite organic yogurt in the world!

The milk is obtained from Seven Stars' own beloved and well-treated cows, and some additional milk is brought in from local organic dairy farmers as needed, and then placed in an incubator where the cultures are allowed to process and ferment.


The folks at Seven Stars were exceedingly kind and generous, giving us a free container of their new heavy whipping cream and another plain yogurt. Still, we were not able to tear ourselves away without buying a quart of our two favorites: Maple and Vanilla!

Thanks to the staff of Seven Stars for the tour and generosity, and we encourage everyone to buy Seven Stars' products at your local health food store!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Camphill Special School


Today we visited the Camphill Special School in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, where Keith's cousin Henry (see photo above) has lived for a number of years. Camphill is a very special place which provides thoughtful and holistic care and education to individuals living with intellectual and developmental disabilities.


Based on the teachings of Rudolf Steiner and his Anthroposophic belief system, Camphill delivers a Waldorf-based education that is steeped in the values of family and community living, and it is the only Camphill community for children in North America.

Henry is thriving at Camphill, and his mother Nancy Bea Miller (Keith's cousin, an artist mentioned in a previous post and seen in the photos above and below) met us for a wonderful lunch with his housemates and their attentive and loving staff.


With thoughtful architecture, beautiful art, a sense of true community, wholesome food, and excellent education, Camphill is an impressive and attractive community, and we are grateful for the care and attention given to Henry in these very important years of his development.


It was especially exciting for Mary who felt like a kid in a candy shop being in the heart of a genuine Waldorf environment. Before we were together, Mary was a single mother and worked hard to enroll her son Rene' into a Waldorf kindergarten in Silver Spring, MD. But alas, Rene' did not care for the Waldorf style so Mary transferred him to The Oneness Family School (then in its first year) until they moved to Woodburn Hill Farm. Rene' was home-schooled on the farm for the 6 months we lived there. Needless to say, Rene's kindergarten year was very interesting, ending with newly married parents and a big move to New England where he stayed until just a few months ago. Now, his parents are trailing behind, and today marks the day we officially leave the Northeast and cross over that Mason Dixon line!

---Keith and Mary

Parental Visits and Goodbyes.....

Well, we spent a full four nights and three days visiting my parents in central New Jersey, having meals, hanging out, helping out, and eventually saying goodbye as we resumed our journey south.

After living within a day's drive of my parents for my entire adult life (with the exception of a year in Europe), this transition to being on the road and potentially living across the country from them is a big deal, and bidding them adieu is a significant life passage. With my widowed mother considering a move south to be closer to my sister in Atlanta, and my brother and his wife relocating to Boston, my father will soon be the only member of my immediate family living in good ol' Jersey.

Driving away from my mother's house, I realized that it's the end of an era, and our family's geographic distribution is now radically and permanently changed. However, the bonds of love and family and the determination to remain connected will help us transcend distance and time, and that is what family is truly about.

---Keith






Sunday, November 8, 2009

Images From Princeton, NJ


Our rig parked in picturesque Princeton



On the canal tow path....



Tulane Street, named after the great-uncle (Paul Tulane Van Kirk) of Keith's beloved late step-father, Tulane DeAngelis. Mr. Van Kirk was the founder of Tulane University in New Orleans.



A wedding that we happened upon....



A South Indian film crew hard at work making a romantic love story due for release in 2010

Shadow of a Tree

Philadelphia Doorway

Friday, November 6, 2009

Images From Philadelphia


Keith in Fairmount Park























Mary on the phone.......


 The house on Quince Street where Keith lived as a poor art student in the early 80's




Poster for a gallery exhibition for Keith's dear friend Rachel Bliss, a successful Philadelphia artist. Please check out her website.




Keith's cousin Nancy Bea Miller and her son, Peter. Nancy is also a successful Philadelphia artist. Please visit her website.




The Japanese Garden in Fairmount Park

Old World Style

Still Life With Persimmons

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ambling Through Ambler, PA


Having left the idyllic farmlands of Lake Ariel, we spent an evening and morning in Ambler, Pennsylvania, visiting with Vince, the dear father of our friend Carla in Lake Ariel.

Vince is a sweet Italian man who has lived a long and admirable life, raising three beautiful daughters, working 35 years at a local university, living a life of integrity, honesty and simplicity. Vince regaled us with stories of his early life in Italy, his immigration to the United States, his life of hard work, and his philosophy of saving, generosity and living close to the land.

We drank homemade wine, ate pasta, eggplant, fresh persimmons and roasted fish, admired the trees, flowers and gardens, and watched Game 6 of the World Series (which the Phillies summarily lost).

Thank you to Vince for his kindness, taking in two virtual strangers whom he had not seen for more than a decade, treating us like family and dear friends, which of course we now are!

Ambling through Ambler was surely a pleasure!



---Keith

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Raven Star

Last night as Barry milked the goats and fed the barn animals, Keith, Carla, and I prepared a magnificent feast the 5 of us enjoyed together. We made pureed chick pea soup with their homegrown garlic and rosemary sauteed in olive oil, homegrown butternut squash with warm maple syrup, homemade hot pepper cornbread and backyard dinosaur kale. Yum! Carla's daughter, Raven Star, and I planned improv games that we all played together round the wood stove. It was a lot of fun and we laughed so much!

Today we went to The Himalayan Institute, took our fine hosts to lunch, and tonight Keith and I led a little Laughter Yoga 'round the fire as a way to support Raven's upcoming presentation at an elementary school on Thursday morning. She then did a seamless, woolly rehearsal with us. You see, Raven is a homeschooler who is also a Blue Ribbon winner for her beautiful, unique creations that she does as part of her homeschooling with her mama Carla. She was invited by a teacher
who was a judge at the County Fair to demonstrate her felting and wool dying crafts. You are in for a treat to see the photos of the process of one of her award winning creations. By the way, she has also won Best in Show in other competitions. Raven is only 12 years old and I have been having so much fun with my new friend. I will sincerely miss her when we leave Sweet Grass Farm and this sweet family tomorrow, but I look forward to being in better touch over the years too.

A link to the photos of Raven's hat-making process will follow!

~Mary

Tina the Traveler

Tina in Lake Ariel, PA

Well, Tina has been adapting to the RV lifestyle for several months, and now she is actively adapting to life on the road. In Bozrah, CT, she interacted with cats (not always elegantly, I may add), and here in Lake Ariel, PA, she's sharing space with goats, chickens, another dog, guinea hens, sheep, and ducks (not to mention our human hosts!).

Over all, I should say that Tina is doing very well for a 14-year-old canine who loves her creature comforts, but I do have some qualms about her ability to continue to roll with the many changes to come. She is not yet comfortable hanging out in the rig alone, although we are continuing to force her to do so for short intervals, hoping to increase those intervals over time.

Tina is a remarkable dog, and she is loved by most anyone who comes to know her. She is indeed getting on in years, and although she has moments of playfulness and spunk, she also likes a good snooze. To her credit, we have taken her on some pretty substantial walks on the land here in Lake Ariel, and she has impressively held her own and apparently enjoyed the fresh country air.

If you are so inclined, feel free to send Tina some positive canine love through the ethers, and encourage her to relax, roll with the changes, and learn to spend time in the rig without freaking out and standing on the table in a panic (her newest trick). All of our stuff is in the rig, including her bed, her toys and familiar smells, so there should be no reason that she can't become accustomed to time alone while she waits for us to shop, eat a meal, or do errands.

Tina is our canine pride and joy, and although traveling with a dog does pose some specific challenges, we hope that she can enjoy the ride and relax into her own little RV sabbatical.

---Keith

Monday, November 2, 2009

Mary as Uncle Bob on Hallowe'en

video

Here's Mary as Uncle Bob, trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en in Honesdale, PA. Bob is one of Mary's most beloved characters, and Uncle Bob indeed made quite a splash on the streets of friendly Honesdale.

Sunset in Lake Ariel, PA