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Monthly Archives: September 2007

Squeeky clean – at least on the outside

Only a down and dirty girl like me could fully appreciate a project focused entirely on efforts to live clean. That must explain why I had such a nice time this weekend at the John C. Campbell Folk School learning to make soap. We’re not talking glycerin soap here, the kind of soap made by melting prefabricated chunks of glycerin soap, adding some scent and pouring it into molds. We’re talking about rendering animal fat and working with lye to make organic soap from scratch. We’re talking about adding essential oils extracted from the earth’s bounty (not fragrance oils that are synthetic) and combining fats and oils, such as jojoba or shea butter, olive oil, lanolin, cocoa butter, and/or bees wax to add texture and lather to the soap, then throwing in herbs, poppy seeds or oatmeal to create other properties, such as exfoliation or ambiance. (The lye actually kills any scent from spices, teas or herbs, but they look lovely in the soap and it does enhance the illusion of scent which comes from the essential oils alone. Who knew?)  We’re talking about adding natural clay to the mixture so the soap draws oil from the skin while coloring the bars naturally. The combinations are endless, the recipes flexible.  Cold processing was fascinating! Decorating the bars at the end to make a pretty display was fun too.

I usually read about any subject I’m going to explore before going to a new class. I feel better if I go in with an intellectual foundation on a new subject so I know what questions to ask, but this time, I didn’t find the time to do any advanced research, so I went in without any concept of what making soap entailed. It was more involved than I expected, but in the best of ways.

When people heard I was taking a class to learn how to work with bees, they said, “Gee, you are brave. That seems so dangerous.” Ha. That was nothing. Bees are small and fuzzy and covered in sticky sweetness.  Now, making soap – THAT is something scary. Because lye can kill you. It can cause blindness, serious burns and if ingested, you die.

To begin, we combined natural lye to water. Instantly the water heats up to 130 degrees or higher, a chemical reaction that makes it seems as if lye has a life of its own. While waiting for it to cool naturally, we whipped up oils, such as coconut oil, olive oil and palm kernel flakes, some of which had to be melted first. These were added when both pots were around 100 degrees.

My teacher kept saying things like, “Never pour the liquid into the lye – ALWAYS pour the lye into the liquid solutions. Otherwise, you can have a volcano effect which will blow up in your face and scar you for life.”

Um… thanks for the heads up. Meanwhile, I’m thinking that, with my memory for details, I’m a goner for sure. Vinegar neutralizes lye, so at least with a spray bottle at the ready; I have a fighting chance at surviving this hobby. This is me handling lye (notice I forgot to put my mask on. Ee-gad.)

I know what you are thinking – this is a good look for me. Yep, I am ever so glamorous nowadays. i should be a pinup for soapmaker quarterly, don’t ya think?

(I wasn’t sleeping at the job – probably just praying the stuff wouldn’t explode all over me.)
Each student made two batches of soap, one with goat’s milk and the other a Castile soap. After the first day, it hardened enough to cut into bars. Some people decorated it with oatmeal or herbs crusts – especially when the batches hardened quickly so they were not as pretty as we wanted. That is something that will get better with practice. We were told you can’t overmix, but, um… obviously you can. Our second batches were all better than our first (for looks).

 My friend Patty (married to the fellow who draws Spiderman for Marvel Comics – standing in front on the right in red) took the class as well, and we made a pact to share our batches in the end. We ended up trading with the other people in class anyway, so everyone went home with a sample of scented soaps, each with individual properties. It was a casual class, with supportive new friends that encouraged experimentation while offering creative support. I enjoyed the great conversation and camaraderie. Here are a few of my new friends at the end of session show as we show off our sample trays.

We learned about tracing, curing, saponification, and SAP value.  Making soap is not unlike making wine, heavily dependant upon chemistry and learning about the unique properties each individual ingredient offers. Actually, I thought it was a lot like making fudge. You heat the ingredients to a particular stage, mix, then wait for a specific sign that it is beginning to turn and quickly slap it into a prepared pan before it hardens or seizes up. Soap even looks like fudge, almost good enough to eat. Of course, you can’t even use soap for the first four weeks, much less eat it, because the lye is still so strong it will burn you. Raw soap must rest first and cure before you actually put it to your skin.

I must admit, I really felt disappointed that I do not have a sense of smell this weekend, because so much of making soap revolves around scent. Of course, scent has nothing at all to do with a soap’s effectiveness or how the skin reacts – but people like smelly soap – they are drawn to soap because of its scent now adays because they associate this to luxery. The class spent an hour sniffing the raw essential oils, combining droplets on a card to create just the right, appealing scent to suit their taste before they made their decisions. I watched, jealous.

Patty was my nose for hire. She picked out scents for me. I ended up making one soap with clove, cinnamon and orange, and the other a fresh cucumber scented soap. She made orange and rosemary, and a flowery scent. I tried to marble my cucumber batch by using fern colored clay in a portion of the soap and lacing it through. I imagined this would make the batch look “cucumbery”. It turned out nice. 

Some people liked making smooth, skinny bars. I opted for big hefty fat bars with a rustic look. It was fun watching everyone experiment to create a soap that fit their idea of organic, homemade luxury. It all looked appealing to me, and whether it was left to cure in Pringles cans, in big square boxes or smaller bins, the variety of shapes and textures was as interesting as the diverse recipes. I can’t wait to try all these soaps out in a few weeks. In the meantime, they sure look pretty in the big hat box I brought to carry it home. This is all the soap I made in the class. (that’s cranberry seeds decorating my bumpy bars. It’s a stretch, I know, but I was trying to make it look pretty.)


I asked the teacher questions about how to make coffee, tea, and cocoa scented soaps because I was thinking I might make a line of earthy brew scented soaps, lotions and bath salts to sell in our shop. I asked Mark if he thought it was a good idea. He said, “If you love doing this, go for it. Coffee soaps would be a great addition to our store.”

After all, the class also taught us how to bottle, package and market homemade soaps too. Homemade organic soap is a viable business up here.

I thought about his comment later. “If I love it.”
Humm… do I love making soap? Good question. The fact that I can make professional grade organic soaps now is fun, but that does not mean I should do it full throttle. Because honestly, I can’t say I LOVE it.

I certainly know I love learning new things, and this class was no disappointment. I can’t wait to experiment some more at home. I imagine homemade soaps will make great gifts and I’ll probably save a bundle if I start making my own skin products, because I’m a girl who loves bath salts, lotions and the like, despite my “broken smeller”. And I will have a big herb garden next season, so I will enjoy making my own shampoos etc.. because gathering the ingredients from my garden will make it more meaningful – it seems so natural and wholesome to collect things from the earth and put them to productive use. I purchased several books on making soaps and lotions to do more research at home. I’ll no doubt experiment with a variety of homemade bath products. But would I like to make a business of soap making and become a slave to meeting demand if customers enjoy the product? Do I want to brainstorm ways to market something I am making, perhaps having to set up booths at craft fairs to move the product to make the investment of time and effort worth it? Who am I kidding? Probably not.

I’ve learned that I will embrace just about any interest if I allow myself to do so. And I have so many now, it is almost laughable. The thing is, everything takes time, and as sliver after sliver of my life gets consumed by special interests, I notice that the things I really want to devote myself to suffer. I am talking primarily about my writing, of course.

I loved dance. I loved it more than anything, and as such, I didn’t mind forgoing other interests to serve the art well. So many things I would have enjoyed doing were push aside for years and years during my term as a dancer. I was never sorry, because dance filled my heart and soul and it enriched my life in the best of ways. I didn’t need much else in my world. Good thing, because there wasn’t room for much else.

I love writing now. Writing is how a person brings order to the chaos of life. For me, it is how I get to truly know myself. I love organizing my thoughts and defining them, or in cases of writing fiction, I love losing myself in the vast universe of imagination. I love creating characters that personify all I admire in others. I fall in love with them and they become a part of me – or perhaps they are a part of me to begin with, and this hidden element of my personality suddenly takes on a life of it’s own through a designed character, bringing that part of me to the surface. Yes, I love writing and how it puts the world into perspective for me.

I LIKE making soap. I LIKE making wine and jam and keeping a garden and beekeeping and spinning fiber. I LIKE my horses – (no, I love them, its true – they do something for my soul). I LIKE hiking and making jewelry and baking muffins and making gourmet meals . I LIKE all these things A LOT – and I’m good at them. But I don’t love these things enough to sacrifice too much time from the projects I feel are more important to my heart. Knowing this, I must keep it all in perspective. I will make soap for fun because fun (and diversity) in life is important. I will probably have a house full of soap soon, just as I have hundreds of bottles of wine building up. I will no doubt make some soap for the store one day too. I’ll seduce Mark into spending a night helping me scent the stuff (my handicap is a nuisance, but it doesn’t have to stop me) with wood and forest scents, and/or cappuccino flavors. But I don’t imagine I’ll ever decide to commit myself to manufacturing earthy soaps, even if my concoctions sell well – any more than I expect to build my home wine making into the Hendry Valley Brewery. Not that these goals couldn’t be aspired to if I was driven to accomplish them– but home craft production is not something I feel passionate enough about to devote huge chunks of my life to.

The truth is, I am exploring new things all the time, because dancing so long and so obsessively, I became starved for diverse intellectual input. I crave new experiences and can’t seem to get enough now that dance has been shelved. But in the end, I hope to channel all the new things I’m experiencing into written pieces – and unfortunately, that demands time. Lots and lots of concentrated time.  The pie can only be sliced so many times without starved out the diners. So I must be careful with my inclination to embrace a new project with such enthusiasm. Time to slow down and refocus. Time to write more, play less.

But even as I say this, I must admit that I can never go to the Campbell school without signing up for another class in the future. Whether the next endeavor is in 6 weeks or six months, I am so enamored by the creative atmosphere and the non-competitive environment – so appreciative of the wonderful people and the holistic aura of the classes, that I can’t resist committing to one more session. It is as if, by signing up, I assure I’ll stay involved. I don’t want to let life get so busy I forget the important things – to live a creative life, sharing positive experiences with like minded people.

So . . . What did I sign up for this time? Don’t laugh.  Intro to Fly fishing.

Mark said, “Fly fishing? You are so weird. That class will just be a bunch of old men. Why on earth does a girl like you want to take fly fishing? Why don’t you take weaving. You’ve been interested in that for some time.”

I reminded him that everything we learn doesn’t have to be a craft or art related project. I know it seems out of character, but I’ve been thinking about fishing a lot since we moved here.  My dad took me fishing all the time growing up. I never appreciated it much, because I wanted to be left home so I could dance all the time. As such, I felt forced and I didn’t embrace it. I didn’t pay attention to the subtleties of fishing technique – I didn’t enjoy the experience as much as I would have had I just paused to let the nature and my Dad’s company soak into my soul. I think I missed out. 

We live right on the best fly fishing waters this side of America. I see old geezers out there all the time in their wading boots tossing out a line. I am jealous of their solitude, the quiet as they stand in the rippling waters alone with their thoughts. I want to be out there in nature too. Just me and a rod and, hopefully, a fish or two.  (Not to mention, I adore old men. They flirt in the best of ways – they know how to flatter a girl while never taking themselves seriously. Fun. ) Yes, I will enjoy learning all about fly fishing. The week long class will teach technique, how to tie flies, and even how to determine a good fishing spot etc…. The class is in late October, so I’ll be out there wading in the water with other nature lovers as fall leaves add ambiance I can’t wait! I will probably end up signing up for the class on how to make a handcrafted bamboo fly fishing rod  in Feb. knowing me.

The way I look at it, my interests are compatible. I can get all fishy and stinky when I crave a bit of solitude, then I can go home and wash up with my lovely homemade soap.  Contrast makes a person interesting. I don’t suppose I’ll look too glamorous in my waist high wading boots and an old fishing jacket. I’ll wear a hat sporting my hand tied lures, my hair askew and no make-up.. But while fishing, I can write at the same time. I will weave stories in my head, because I’ve found that when I’m out in nature, I do my best thinking. And fishing is something you can do alone, or with others. I can share what I learn with my kids or a friend. Or, I can use it as an excuse to be by myself to meditate on the water.  And fishing (if sucessful) gives you something you can bring into the kitchen too – everyone knows I love anything that leads to meaningful cooking. 

It just goes to show you that when you walk through one door, you never know where it will lead you next. I learned to make soap this weekend, and that will lead me to fishing.
Isn’t life interesting? Wonder what fishing will lead too. . . hummm……

Rain, rain, go away

Denver calls me at 9:30. “Ready to go?”
“I think we should cancel. The rain is pretty bad.”
“After all this cooking? Not on your life!”

So, off to the bakesale we go. We have about 30 minutes of overcast weather, then the skies open up and it gets WORSE than before (if that is possible.) Sigh.

It was a pretty bakesale while it lasted, if “pretty”  counts for anything. We had balloons and boa and hershey kisses decorating the table. One man came by and bought five items (1.00 each) and gave us a ten. A woman who works next door bought thirteen items and told us she just finished chemo for breast cancer. She took our donation slip and talked her boss (a lawyer) into sending  $100.00. Yippee. Even if we didn’t sell much more, that made facing the rain worth the effort. We also met the other neighbor who has an antique shop, and she bought some baked goods to put in the store. They sell coffee and food, but they chose not to bake today because they knew we were coming. That was kind. I will enjoy being their neighbor. 
We had made earrings to sell, but it wasn’t as if anyone was thinking fashion today. Had we brought unbrellas for sale, we might have made a killing.

When the skies started pouring down buckets, our potential customers stood across the street under a shelter. They waved, but they weren’t willing to tackle the weather for a brownie. Meanwhile, the grass where we were setup started to flood. Uh Oh. This does not look good. As we sank deeper and deeper, I argued for closing down. Denver was determined to sit the full time. When that girl is on a mission! I had to leave at 1:00. She stuck it out another hour until the train departed. All together we had about eight customers. Dang.

People said they saw our signs and they felt badly about our bad weather luck. Only 40 people were on the train, but tomorrow, they have sold over 250 tickets and the weather should be better – only tomorrow, neither one of us is available.

In the end, we made $150, and passed out a few donation slips. We have a plan to put our leftovers into pretty baskets and deliver them to businesses, like real estate offices, with a letter asking the employees to make donations if they’ve enjoy the offering.  Can’t hurt. Not like we want to eat all this stuff. I will take some to the Campbell school tomorrow for my soap making class and hit the students up for a donation. I have no pride.

Drenched and dissapointed, at least we laughed about it. In the end, something like this brings a daughter and Mom together for a few hours of damp conversation and gives us something to remember and that is worth something. And hey, if good intentions count, we’ve earned brownie points to get into heaven. If not, then at least we have the actual brownies. 

Failing isn’t defined by effort that doesn’t work as planned. Failing is not trying, ya know.   

Soggy but Sweet

It’s raining. Huge torrential buckets coming down in sheets.
Shoot me.
Because you know what I sent ALL day doing yesterday?

I made:
Apple Bran Muffins,
Chocolate Chip Banana Bran Muffins
Banana Muffins with Dates and nuts
Chocolate Cheesecake Muffins
Oatmeal Cinnamon Chip Cookies
Dark Chocolate Raspberry Cookies
Double Chocolate Mint cookies
Strawberry Jam Muffins (With homemade jam)
Chocolate Chunk Carmel Brownies
Mandarin Orange Cake

I packaged each in little servings with a pretty pink bow and identifying label.

You see, today we were having a bake sale for our breast cancer fundraiser.

I told Denver that bake sales don’t make much money for the time involved, especially considering it would be a two woman show. Usually, many people contribute to a bake sale, but if only two people are cooking, then it will be a lot of work, not to mention the cost of ingredients all coming from one kitchen for what will probably be not a huge return. But she was insistent that this was something we had to do. She said, “Not everything has to be fancy and made from scratch, Mom.”

Then she rolled her eyes as if remembering who she was taking too. I don’t cook anything that isn’t from scratch. Nevertheless she was so enthusiastic about the project, I couldn’t say no. She put pink flyers all over town, got a few friends to donate some baked goods, and called the City Hall to get permission. She bought us obnoxiously bright pink shirts that say “Cancer Sucks” to wear, and picked up balloons. What’s a mother to do? I started cooking.

One good thing is that we are setting up this bakesale on our new land in McCaysville across from the train station. This is the future home of our art gallery/coffee shop. I kind of like the idea of bringing my muffins to this place, because I’ll be establishing myself as resident gourmet baker in this very spot next year. This can be sort of a warm-up, pre-business experiment on how to present things well enough that people will want to buy them. And I’ll no doubt get to meet people who will be examples of our future customers. Fun.

Mark came into the kitchen yesterday afternoon and saw the explosion of flour, sugar and baking chocolate. He kissed me on the top of the head and said, “You are a good person.”

“Not really.” I grumbled. “At this point, I’m not baking for cancer. I’m just doing this for my daughter.”

He grinned. “I know.”

Anyway, it is 7:48 am. I’m holding out hope that the rain might stop and we can still have a soggy bake sale. If not, I don’t know what to do– perhaps I can freeze this stuff and we can try another day – only I really feel strongly that everything should to be fresh, which is why I chose to bake everything in one day.

Now, I’m settling down to make clay and glass earrings to sell too.  If you are going to bother to have a fundraiser, you might go to the trouble to do it well.

Denver leaves for her jewelry silversmith craftsmen school next week, so this is our last opportunity to work together towards our common fundraising goals. We are behind in our efforts, partially because we have four big baskets being raffled in area businesses and we haven’t picked up the earnings yet, and partially because living in this quiet town makes it mighty hard to fundraise. The dribbles coming in from friends can’t compete with corporate donations and the donations from acquaintances that people in the work force can pursue. And the little businesses around here can’t give much. We are plugging away however – doing our best. (And if you are one of those friends (ahem, luckily for you,  I would never name names J.S.) who said, “I’ll give later”, there is still time.

But rain can’t ruin a day completely. The good news is, there a constant tapping coming from my incubator that is host to my 16 assorted breeds of duck eggs. Perhaps something fun is about to occur. The eggs are due to hatch tomorrow, but after the peacock disappointment and having left to go to Florida again so I wasn’t available to tend to them; I’m not expecting much – no reason to set myself up for dissapointment. If anything does hatch, it will be a special delight.

Ah, the rain has subsided. Might turn out to be a good day after all. Hope McCaysville is hungry and that lots of tourists ride the train today, despite the weather. I will wear my Cancer Sucks shirt, but I feel inclined to take a fabric marker and write (Rain sucks too) on it underneath. See what a whiner I can be.

Wish us luck.


Piecing things together

We are home from Sarasota. It always takes a few days to “shake off” that town. The ick factor is a combination of the environment (traffic and overbuilding and absence of nature) aggressive cultural attitudes and the entire dance thing. As always, we hear about actions taken by former friends and acquaintances that are so disturbing we feel almost as if we are visiting a place we’ve never been before. (Soap Opera town or something.)

Anyway, the nice part of the trip was the actual teaching.  I watched Mark in his classes, and it was a nice reminder of what a remarkable ballet teacher he was (is). The students actually physically changed within the two hours as understanding of placement hit them like a wave. He watched my class and commented that I was still a lovely teacher, but what amazed him was that I’m still a strong dancer. I am lucky that way. My body seems to hold up well even when I ignore it. For me, all it takes is a bit of music and open space and it’s as if I never stopped. I wasn’t any more sore the next day than I was every day of my life (from 35 on) working as a dance teacher. It was a different story for Mark, however, and watching him hobble to the car, popping Advil like candy, made it very clear that he could not have continued in the field even if he wanted to.

He said, “I love teaching, and even today, after only a few hours, I truly care about those students, even though I’ve just met them. I connect and immediately feel impassioned to help them understand dance. But the pain connected to moving for me is a nightmare. And while some people can teach from a chair, I’m not one.”

We left once again with validation that we made the right choice by retiring when we did. For lots of reasons.

The most interesting thing about the trip was a two hour interview we had with a writer from the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Bill Hutchinson. We were warned not to dare talk to him, because he will turn our honesty against us, but we figured we haven’t done anything wrong, so there is no reason not to speak plainly about what we’ve experienced. He is writing an article about the Sarasota Dance Community and how it is changing. We were central to this huge dance community for many years, so we are important to the piece. I certainly didn’t feel threatened or concerned about what he might say, because in the end, he is a very thorough writer and he doesn’t react to hearsay or pass rumor on as fact. Newspaper men document everything and circle the subject matter from all angles to get a clear picture of truth – at least in theory.  To be honest, I trust him far more than our friends and/or family who we’ve watched jump to conclusions with only snippets of information that for unexplainable reasons, they chose to embrace without question or without seeking logical explanations.

I suppose the fellow could “sink us” as we were forewarned, and twist things to make us look like the dance school felons again, but hey, we’ve already been put in that position by people we once cared about – it can’t be half as bad when the person hurting you is a stranger. The paper took pictures of us and we are told the article will come out at the end of the month.

I must admit, I’ll be deeply disappointed if Bill does paint a dark picture of us, but not for the reasons you’d expect. We don’t live in Sarasota anymore, and frankly, we no longer care what anyone thinks.  But I liked the man so much and so enjoyed talking to him that I’ll be disappointed to learn our exchange was not authentic, but some fact finding mission to promote more scandal.

As we were leaving the interview, I said to Mark, “I wish I’d known this guy when we lived here. I’d have appreciated a friend like him. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have been so lonely and felt so isolated if I ever had the opportunity to meet normal, down to earth, non-dance people like him while we were running FLEX.”   


“Of course you’d feel that way. This guy is everything you admire and appreciate in a friend – not to mention he is a writer, so you have something in common. He is intelligent, down to earth, worldly, and has wit. He was supposed to be interviewing us, but every time there was a lull in the conversation, you asked HIM questions. It was kind of funny.”

“Was that inappropriate? Was I obnoxious, like I was trying to avoid the subject of dance or something?” I asked, worried that I didn’t respect formal distance or something. The truth is, other subjects interest me more than dance at this stage in life.

“It’s who you are. I’m used to it.  I don’t think he minded.”

“I didn’t ask that many questions,” I said.

Mark laughed then and said, “Well, let’s see…. We now know that Bill likes his job, especially the freedom to explore those stories he feels are interesting. We know what else he is working on now, a piece about a world class wine appraiser – another thing fascinating to you. He went to the Sarasota Wine festival once, and that was enough for him – as it was for you.  We know the title and year his two books were published (now out of print.) We know the piece he most enjoyed writing was a 30 part piece on the Myakka River, which you suggested would make a good book.  He likes to write about history and cultural change, which you also appreciate. He describes himself as “not that ambitious anymore” (he is 60, no longer a youth with a need to share his personal opinion with the world) when you asked if there are any subjects he feels a longing to someday write a book about. He has a million stories he could tell, but none feel urgent, and fiction isn’t his thing. We know he once taught someone to read just as you did, and it was a remarkable experience. We know he lived in Paris for a year and a half when he was a younger man. He said you must visit Europe before you turn 50, and you ate that up. Trust me; I very much doubt anyone else left their interviews knowing anything personal about the guy. You were still asking questions as we pulled up to the SRQ parking lot – you’d know even more about him if only you had the time.”

OK, so I was curious about this Sarasota writer. The fact is, the world is filled with interesting people, and my greatest joy since retiring from dance is that now I have the time and freedom to make friends with them. He seemed to relate to us as people, not dance gurus.  Anyway, lunch with Bill was fun – he was even natural enough to gently kid me a bit about my new interests. When I told him I was taking a soap making class when I got home, he said, “You can buy that stuff now, you know. Even in Georgia.”

He did ask some interesting questions, such as if we miss the limelight (we don’t) and if we are partially at fault for all that happened because we should have done more research about the people who purchased our business. Perhaps we could have questioned the background of the new owners more, but heck, we are dancers. We trusted our advisors, who included accountants, bankers, business consultants, lawyers, and my father, our financial advisor.  Besides which, we still feel they were lovely people with good intentions (even though they did their best to break down our reputation moments after we left). They just made some serious mistakes and we feel badly for them even now. We are opening a new business now, and this makes me think of them a lot. It is a risky thing, putting yourself and your savings on the line for a dream… I admire anyone who takes a chance like that. But it is true that we have done our share of self reflection to question how we might be at fault for the people who clearly felt betrayed by our choices. What else would explain the madness?

Bill was very insightful in assessing what motivated people to behave as they did, and he seems to have a fair, unbiased idea of how and why the dance community is changing. I expect his article will put things in perspective and be interesting. I will post it when it comes out – even if it does “sink us”.

It is nice to be home. Today, I am taking a quilting class at a very established quilt shop in the area. I already took a quilting basics class, and today I’m starting a two part series to piece together a traditional hourglass pattern throw in colors I think will go well on our porch. I plan to work on several traditional quilt patterns this winter and while most people do machine quilting nowadays, I’ve talked the store into arranging a hand quilting class for me with a very knowledgeable teacher. (I guess I like doing things the hard way.) They say they don’t offer the class much, because people rarely want to do the work of hand quilting. I think it will be interesting. 

You may laugh and think I have gone off the deep end with all these crafts and animal interests. “One more?” You may be thinking – get a job! But I feel as if everything I’m doing is connected. My interests seem to circle history and creativity and nature, and I am enjoying this renaissance to explore new interests (well, in most cases, they are old interests that I let wane when I opened a business and had kids.) more than I can describe. I hope to weave everything I’m learning  together in some kind of writing project soon. This weekend I’m taking a soap making class at the Campbell school – the class always fills, so I had to sign up 9 months ago. Can’t wait.    I don’t know how well I’ll do, considering I was born without a sense of smell and so much of the craft relies on picking scents and herbs to make the soap lovely. Ah well, I will have fun trying something new anyway, and I’ll borrow a friends nose when I need it.

In conclusion, with the Florida trip behind us, I’m off to continue the project of building a new life in Georgia – piecing it together like the quilt. Satisfaction is all about designing something functional yet pretty, which hopefully, will represent who you are and what you value most.


The old me….

Tomorrow, Mark and I will be going to Sarasota for a few days to help Cory set up business management systems for SRQ (the new school located in the previous FLEX building) and to teach some dance classes. I am looking forward to the trip, but I dread it too. Don’t laugh- it is possible to feel both sides of the spectrum in a case like this.

I’m looking forward to dancing and working with young students again. I miss the creative process and the energy of the student/teacher exchange. Mark and I both look forward to sharing what we know with Cory about building a stronger school. Mark will spend time with him in the office to set up systems to talk about the nuts and bolts of budgeting, taxes, etc… I must admit, I look forward to walking into our previous business without fear of being thrown out or treated with distain. Glad those days are over.

But I hate leaving my life here, even for a short while – I worry about the safety of my animals and I am uncomfortable stepping away from the daily routine I’ve come to enjoy. There is an intimacy connected to our relationships here. The people we encounter at shops or in the street all are quick to stop to chat and the general atmosphere is jovial and warm. I always go through culture shock when we step back into “civilization” – which seems rather uncivilized by comparison. I also hate canceling lessons with Kathy whenever I travel – which has been more often than you’d expect considering we are semi-retired.

I’m guessing I’m in for no small amount of discomfort. I will pay a steep price for being out of dance shape. I don’t hold back when in dance mode, which means I’ll have trouble walking after my first class. Ah well – while the wisdom gained from aging is nice, the physical challenges are no picnic. I deserve every ache and pain for being a big barn potato (as opposed to couch potato)  in Georgia, considering I have a workout room/studio right in my house.  But with the weather so beautiful, who can blame me for choosing nature over the mirror? I’ll return to the more traditional dance, pump and Pilates workouts soon when the winter lures me indoors.

Since FLEX crashed, 5 new dance schools have opened by people previously connected to us. I was told tonight that there are actually 9 new schools in Sarasota. Humm…… Everyone wants a piece of the pie. Forgive me for a moment of honesty, but sometimes it feels like the vultures are circling overhead to pick over the remains. We tried so hard to keep everyone together, a united front. We could have kicked FLEX with our baby toe and helped set the place up back at it’s best again under Cory’s lead. We believed that would be in the best interest for everyone involved. But I guess the last two years took their toll, and trust was hard for any one director to gain. If nothing else, the things that transpired after we left taught everyone that talk is cheap and good intentions can fall flat. In the end, I think everyone feels safer now manning their own boat. 

I also think people mistakenly believe that all they need do is hang out a shingle and throw a few kids into a room with anyone who knows a few dance steps and a school is born. If only it were that easy. Mark and I always spent far more time brainstorming and calling upon every ounce of our knowledge, experience and creativity to piece together a strong program than we ever spent actually teaching. Heck, teaching is the easy part.  In some cases, people are opening dance schools now with no real knowledge of dance education, other than office procedures or a smattering of dance experience. In other incidences, they are trying to copy the FLEX methods, atmosphere and systems, to be the “new FLEX”, falling short of the goal because they lack heart and/or ambition overrides all propriety or integrity. In these cases, I see a lot of effort being poured into image and hype, but little focus on what it takes to deliver on the promises. As such, I doubt all these schools will be around in a year or two.  Nevertheless, it makes the going rough for those who are qualified to run a school.

I should mention here that one of the newly spouted schools in Sarasota  has been opened by our former preschool teachers. (Stagedoor Preschool). They have a dance division too.  I’d like to publicly state that we understand and support their choice. We wish them the best and send them good wishes. (I also sent them some homemade wine to celebrate! Lord knows there is nothing a school owner needs more than a stiff drink when things get frustrating.) They are lovely teachers, very devoted, and they endured two years of hell, hanging on to the bitter end with unfailing commitment to their students and FLEX during the frustrating transition period. They deserve success, and Mark and I both pray they will find it. We think they will have a fine school. A small and specialized preschool most likely, but perhaps that is for the best. The bigger you are, the bigger your problems tend to be. And loving your school and being happy is key to serving it well and staying for the long haul. Take it from two people who were driven out of the business. Sad, but true.

While we feel no ill will towards people opening alternate schools, Mark and I are giving our physical support to Cory and SRQ– not because we are playing favorites, and not because they bought the building (heck, we did have other offers), but because we believe this couple will make the best candidate for building a school that will be closest to what we founded –the fact is, our school filled a viable need in the Sarasota community and we have felt badly since its demise. We still hope something decent will rise from the ashes.  I’ve been talking to Cory for months, long hours on the internet and on the phone, and while others are quick to ask how we attracted so many customers and made money, he always circles round to “how did you create such a strong school and keep up quality?” Cory is interested in the long term. He cares about dance education, and he understands that parents, even if they have the best intentions, are not qualified to run the show like some kind of backseat dance school driver. This means, he has to hold firm to his vision and work to make it pan out – that kind of directorship means you are not always the most popular fellow in town, but you sure are the most consistent.  I think that if Sarasota gives SRQ the chance, it will provide the dance education people are seeking. You certainly can trust Cory to teach those elements of dance that go beyond dance steps – the aspect of the art that builds character.

Anyway, without saying anything more about the dance school biz, I do want to say that I look forward to teaching again. I’ve missed it.

It’s funny. When getting my MFA they taught me to “read like a writer.” After that training, I can’t pick up a book, without seeing it through different eyes. I am no longer oblivious to technique or style, and as such, I can’t ever really lose myself in a story. I am always calculating how the author accomplishes his goals.

After years as a teacher/choreographer, I now listen to music as a dancer too. I never hear music and just enjoy the sound of it. I am always choreographing in my head, or contemplating how it could be used to teach a movement concept. I see huge production numbers in my head, always featuring my past students, I guess I see them because their body types and movement idiosyncrasy are imbedded as my last ingrained dance memory. Even tonight, as I listen to music choosing what to bring to the studio, I feel movement seep into my body and I see past students orchestrating it. The energy builds inside of me and with it, steps, concepts and teaching objectives – it is as if the ideas come through me, not from me. I am out of shape, yet just the thought of returning to the classroom makes me instantly feel like a dance teacher with lots to share once again. I wonder if this dance persona will ever leave me, or if this is some kind of art residue that will linger forever.

My only disappointment is that I know the students we will be teaching this trip will be new faces, or younger students that we were not heavily involved with during our tenure at FLEX. Working with young, eager dancers from any source is always a joy, but I will miss the faces of the students I knew and loved. They have all moved on to other schools, and their time and focus is carefully controlled and manipulated by their new teachers in ways I can’t begin to understand. It sure is peculiar from a mentor’s point of view, but what can you do? I’ll never get over their lack of respect or their rude dismissal after years of our involvement. But as I’ve said in the past, I can’t be accountable for the influences they’ve had after our term as teachers. Obviously, what we tried to instill about honoring and respecting those that contribute to your artistic growth didn’t stick. Or maybe it is just that our society (and the dancers in it) has changed and the new generations haven’t got the time or inclination to waste effort on anyone or anything that doesn’t serve their immediate interests.

Whatever . . . if nothing else, it makes me very glad we retired and left the dance world behind. I am old-school and I haven’t much tolerance for the “what’s in it for me NOW” approach to dance training. I guess my attitude is perfect proof that I’m an old fart. You know you’ve become crotchety when you start saying, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to…” and “when I was young, I walked 10 miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to pay homage to my teachers.” And the younger set rolls their eyes and blows you a big raspberry.

Ha. I am not as offended as I sound. I’ve long since passed the offended stage. I landed on disappointed and resignation long ago.    

So tonight I am preparing to reenter the dance world for few days. I had a busy day  getting ready to leave town. I tutored Kathy (*side note – cool thing happened today. She was reading from a book, her finger slowly tracing the words as she stumbled over them, and she came to a big word. She sighed, and then gave it a try. After sounding out the letters, she looked up at me with a grin and said, “Marvelous?”
“Yes… and isn’t it marvelous you can read that word?” I said.
She hooted with excitement, then slapped me five, because it really is a hard word, and not one she would have gotten a mere month ago. That brief moment – her beaming with pride and celebrating a simple thing like reading the word “marvelous”- stuck with me all day. Little things like that make life fun.)

Where was I? Oh yeah, I did laundry at a mat, because my laundry machine is broken and I have to have some clean clothes to pack, and I cooked some peach preserves, because I didn’t want my big bucket of peaches to go bad while I was away. I am now waiting for Denver to come over so I can take her on the animal rounds because she will keep the ranch creatures fed and cared for while we are gone. So after this busy day, tired and ready for a break, I am going down to the studio downstairs to pick out music and work out a few ideas in front of the mirror. Nothing like waiting for the last minute to prepare. But I know some of my best classes are the ones I do not plan – and you really can’t prepare a class when you don’t know the students in advance.

It is hard to believe that tomorrow at this time, I’ll be teaching jazz in the very space we practically lived in day and night for eighteen years. Mark will be teaching ballet. While visiting, we will go out with the teachers who maintained a relationship with us through it all, and they no doubt will make fun of me and my winemaking and peacock rearing experiences, as they are so fond of doing. It is fun celebrating friendship now that we are not “the boss”.  The ease between us and old acquaintances (and the laughter) is precious. We will teach again on Friday. On Saturday, Cory set up a master class where all the proceeds will be donated to my upcoming cancer walk. This was his idea, and I’m truly grateful, although his generosity didn’t surprise me a bit. It is just like Cory to give something back even though he has barely gotten organized himself in this new endeavor. That is the spirit of dance I’ve always tried to instill and one more example of why we feel good about him taking over where we left off. Anyway, it will be meaningful to me to teach in support of a cause I believe in. A nice way to end the visit.

Tonight, I will go to bed dreaming of dance, feeling like the old me. Thoughts of donkeys, llamas, horses and bees will be pushed to the back of my mind as I revisit my first and foremost love, dance. It feels good. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach again in the building that holds so many happy (and some not so happy) memories for us. I hope I will leave at least a small, but positive impression behind, a humble contribution to help set Cory’s dancers on a positive learning path. But mostly, I am glad to have an opportunity to walk through the halls of the place that will always be FLEX to me, to convene with my memories and make peace with the final end of an era.

It was a good school. A good school will take its place. Life goes on.


My Joys

I thought I’d give you one more peek at the progress of my barn and my new heart throb horse.

It is a really good barn. The boys make fun of me because I am decorating it with horse paraphernalia. They say,” What’cha doing? Trying to make this a “girly barn?”  
I’m a girl. Do the math. 

I think they just don’t know what to make of someone who hangs a flowering plant on a horse hook on a building that they consider designed to be primarily functional. But on the sly, Ronnie confessed that he thought it was a fantastic barn and if it was his, he’d spend all his time down there. “It’s real nice,” he said in his southern drawl. I agree. If you want to know where to find me . . .

It will be interesting to see what they think next week when my 6 foot black cutouts of rearing stallions come. I ordered them from a fellow who makes them at the flea market, and I plan to attach them up on the sides of the front near the peak. Yea, this is gonna be a designer barn when I’m through! I even bought little 9″ wooden cutouts of horses that I am spray painting, then I’ll paint the names of my horses on them as name-plates for the stalls.

As I ordered the cutouts, Mark grinned and says, “You are corny, but hey, it’s your barn. Have a ball.”

What can I say, this is the “recital” of barns. Might as well make a show of it.

For now,  have a nice little iron bench on the porch, at least until Mark makes me something rustic and more suiting (and comfortable). I bought a horseshoe welcome sign made of rusty iron at the flea market, and in the tack and feed room I have little signs Neva gave me for Christmas that feature horse quotes. I even bought a stop sign that says “Whoa” instead of “stop” for the area where you ride the horses in. I’ll hang it this afternoon. Ha. I am having fun.

The door still isn’t hung, but it will be done when the second rail comes it (somehow it didn’t come with the order) I have hay rolls in the hay storage already. Yippee! There is even a wheel at the peek of the roof that we will thread a rope through to hoist things up to the upstairs for those occations when I don’t’ want to walk up the stairs with stuff. Very traditional. They are putting in the electric in a week or so, and then we will add light fixtures and a water pump – and a fridge! Upstairs, I’ve put all my beekeeping supplies, bird cages and even a table and chairs for what have you.  If any of you ever rob a bank and need a hideout, this will have all the creature comforts of home. Just wipe your feet first….

Details, details….. I am hoping to train the animals to come running when they hear the dinner bell. Easier than me calling. If Pavlov can do it, it can’t be that hard, right?
Everyone is happier now with this barn. Not just me, but he animals too. 
This, by the way, is why you should never buy a white horse. Ahem…… I should have named him pigpen, he spends more time upside down than rightside up…. He was rolling with pleasure after a nice dinner in his new stall.  

She is so pretty, I can’t help but show her off…. She may be pregnant, but so far, she still has a fine figure.

Yes, EVERYONE loves my new barn…

Tomorrow and I am going to Sarasota to teach dance for Cory. I am actually dragging myself away from my barn to prepare today. I will write about that that division of life later .
Sometimes it feels like I am many different people all rolled into one. Time to wear a different hat for a while – hope it still fits.

A busy week with friends

When we sold FLEX, lots of people were unhappy. But two friendly business acquaintances (a couple that did computer work for us) said, “Oh goody, that means we can be real friends now.”
And they proceeded to become just that.

At the time, we told lots of people, “Come up and visit sometime.” 
This is the one couple that did.

They came to visit us only two months after we moved the Georgia, taking great interest in our little cabin and the land where we were going to build a house. They loved the serenity of the mountains and the wholesome environment and talked about one day moving here as we did. (They are fifteen years younger than us, so it is not time for them to make such a big change quite yet.) Talking about what we think is important in life while sitting around a campfire was a great way to get to know each other better, seeing what our interests were beyond the scope of our business dealings. We found the more we got to know them, the more we enjoyed them. Our humor meshed.

They came up again when the cabin was in a more finished state and went with us to see the newly dug house site. We all went horseback riding and ate apple pie at the area orchard. This time, when we sat around a campfire, we were not burning the old paneling and furniture from a dilapidated cabin, now we were burning wood we wanted to clean out of the pasture was on our new 50 acres. Mark and I talked about our plans to develop the land and Steven offered to help whenever we needed some muscle.

They came again in the winter just after we moved into the new house even though we didn’t have much furniture and we all had to wade through unopened boxes. They did all the appropriate ooh-ing and ah-ing as we talked about how far we’d come. They were the first people to sleep in our guest room (and to point out how cold it can be – we have since fixed that). On this trip they even looked at a few lots for sale, knowing someday they want a cabin in this area. Steven began his campaign to get us to sell them “a small acre on the back corner of our land……since you have more than any one person needs….” Umm… love ya, but no. Yet, if we ever do start selling off parts of this land, I can’t imagine a better neighbor. 

Now, they just came up again for a five day visit. This was different, because usually they come, stay a day or two, then have to go. Now we had time to actually do some things. We hiked to one of the area’s waterfalls, and rented a pontoon boat to go tubing. It was a toss-up between this and white water rafting, but the pontoon won because they are closing the marina for the season this week, and we thought we should take advantage of the lake. The rivers are always open.  Diane was available to join us. It was all adults – different for us, but nice in it’s own way.

I’ll post a picture of the place we hiked, but we’d just walked a long way all uphill on a mountain, so we look the worse for wear.


I cooked big meals, we rode four wheelers, and they got to see the final work on the new barn. Steven helped Mark for a few hours in the workshop. It was a busy week for us, so they just sort of pitched in and lived the Hendry life for a few days.

For example, the first night they were here happened to be the night Shane, the trainer, was delivering my new horse. I had made us a lovely dinner with homemade multigrain bread, pasta with my fresh tomato sauce and grilled shrimp, salad from our garden and cherry and peach crisp. We sat down, took three bites, and I got a call that the horse was on the way. I was like, “Glad you are hear to visit . . bye!” And I ran down to the pasture leaving everyone to eat alone. (I guess I won’t be winning any trophies for best hostess of the season.) I was so excited. The horse’s name on her papers is Superfine Joy, which suits her and describes how I feel around her – so I am keeping it – calling her Joy. The horse wouldn’t load in a trailer, so Shane rode her over in the dark from his ranch. She arrived all sweaty and agitated since she is just beginning training, but Lord, she was beautiful.

Shane said, “I adore this horse. She is strong and alert. You can feel the power under you. I wish I’d have bought her myself before you came along.” (He was considering it.)

“I don’t want too much power there, Shane. Don’t forget.” I said, patting her on the nose while she pawed and snorted. It is still hard to believe this will be my horse.
Shane laughed. “She will be a doll baby when I’m done. Promise”

Joy is probably the prettiest horse I’ve ever seen, or maybe I’m partial. She joined Peppy, my other horse, without a moment of fighting or establishing dominance and they have been warm and congenial companions ever since. She is gentle and sweet (at least when no one is riding her) and I could only describe her as striking as she runs across the pasture to see me each time I drive to the barn area. She takes my breath away. I love this horse! I even taught her to take a cookie from my hand, though the first few she spit out – she couldn’t figure out what a sweetie was.

Mark kept saying, “Watch out for Peppy. He is getting jealous. You usually fawn all over him, and he doesn’t like the way you are ignoring him.”

I pooh-pooed that comment, until the next day, while petting and loving on Joy, Peppy reached out and bit me. Right on the breast ! I now have this huge mouth print that looks like a gigantic hicky where I should have pretty cleavage. Harrumph. It didn’t hurt so much as shock me.  (Normally, Mark would get jealous about a telling mark like this, except he has already accepted that I’m having an affair with my horse.)

Peppy has never shown aggression, certainly not towards me, and I didn’t have any food or anything to provoke an accidental bite. No, that bite was true jealousy – that is so like a boy, ya know. So I am careful to dish out my love equally now. Eesh.   

Anyway, Steven and Sara were here to witness the arrival of my heart’s desire. That was fun.

The next night, I plied our guests with another nice homemade meal – twice baked potatoes, brocolli in cheese sauce, crispy baked chicken and more homemade rolls. I was buttering them up for a favor (the guests, not the rolls). I even made Steven his favorite, Milk chocolate brownies, still warm from the oven (he is a chocolate person). When dinner was done, and everyone was in a good mood, I explained that I had finally received a long awaited call from a man who sheers llamas, and  he was coming out in the morning to do the job. I needed to catch the llamas and contain them so they would be ready. I was certain everyone would find that lots of fun.

“We don’t have much llama catching experience,” Steven said, trying to get out of the impending task. Aparently the way my kids groaned let on that perhaps chasing llamas isn’t all that fun.

“I have homework,” Kent said.

“I’m here to talk with Sara, and she hasn’t finished eating,” Denver said.

Mark knew better than to make excuses, and he was trying to avoid eating the brownies anyway, so he agreed to help and then guilted everyone into joining us.

We spent the next hour chasing llama’s, Kent and me on foot with ropes and the men on four wheelers. We got Dali easy enough. He is used to the routine and isn’t frightened of us. But the new llama, Pulani, was a trial. They’d corner her and get a rope around her neck, but then she’d drag the boys ten feet, duck under the rope and get away. She was fast, smart, and determined not to be caught. Eventually she just got so tired from running away in her heavy wool coat, we practically walked up to slipped the rope over her. Neva had been filling water buckets and aranging some feed to make the barn ready. The llama’s slept in the almost finished barn to become our first overnighter tenents. Love that barn!   

In the morning, the fellow came to sheer. He put the llama’s in a portable shoot, to give what they call a “barrel cut”. (Can’t shave the entire beast because it is too close to winter now.) My poor llamas really do look like overgrown poodles now. But at least they are cooler and I have a big bag of (what I’ve been told is) very fine wool fleece to take to the Southeast fiber fair next month to get professionally carded for spinning. I have such a hankering to spin my own llama’s wool combined with my angora fur to crochet a scarf to wear all winter. That will be one special scarf to me, even if others don’t recognize it as such.

The man, Don, taught me not only how to sheer the animals, but how to clip their toes and other basic care. It was fascinating. Steven and Sara watched, then later Sara said, “I love animals too, and I want to have more of them, but thanks to you, I’m seeing how much work it is, so I might just stick with my parrots and dogs.”
She doesn’t know what she is missing.

Mark and I decided to arrange for Don to come out again in the spring to give a full body cut (for the sake of learning how it’s done) and the next year we will buy electric sheers and start sheering the animals ourselves. We did it by hand last year, but that is simply too hard with more than one animal. We will have three llamas in a year, since my girl is pregnant, so we need to consider what is most cost effective and convenient.  Besides which, I like being self sufficient when it comes to these things.

Don was a nice man, a few years older than me. He told me he stopped working at 48 and gratefully, never had to go back. His wife has been spinning for 4 years and they now have 38 llamas. He takes care of them all, and travels to cut for other people now too. They are active in the fiber arts guild, and they have booths at fairs etc… I laughed and said, “Few people would call what you are doing “not working”. I’m guessing you work all the time.”

He said, “We have what I call labor intensive leisure. Sometimes I say, Honey, I want to go get a job so I don’t have to work so hard.”

I understand what he is saying. Many people consider “working” as something defined by a steady job with a boss. Work can be more creative than that. I’ve always pieced together my livelihood by engaging a range of creative endeavors; figuring out how to make an income doing what I love. Self employed, one way or another. This kind of work lacks the stability of a “normal” job, and the pension if you are lucky enough (or boring enough?) to stay at a single task for years and years. You don’t get insurance or a company car, but it does offer a certain sort of freedom and challenge to life. Anyway, it works for me and always will – and I can honesly admit we’ve always lived well enough, and that reinforces my content with the system. It is interesting to see what will come of our interests at this stage of life.

Don said he was glad to come out to sheer my llamas because he likes to know all the “llama people” in this area of Northwest Georgia and Carolina. I thought that was funny,  because it meant he considered me a “llama person.” I’ve been called many things throughout my life, but llama girl has never been one. Just goes to show how a person’s  definition can expand and change over the years. I’m one of those “llama people” now. Who’d ‘a thought.

The next night, the boys went fishing. Sara was reading and enjoying the quiet, so I decided to bottle some wine that I’ve been meaning to get to. It was a big job, because I had to soak and clean the labels off of all the wine bottles stored in the garage. The boys came home earlier than I expected, and Steven nagged at me for starting a project because that meant I wasn’t available for the “big game” We play sequence into the wee hours, every night when they are visiting. I suspect Steven has rued the day he wanted to be friends, considering every time he and his wife, Sara, visit, we girls kick the boys butts in this game. The boys are always  obnoxious and pompous and the girls always classy and brilliant as we nail them– yep, that’s the truth of it. But don’t mention it to Mark or Steven. Boys are such sore loosers.

Steven and Sara don’t drink, and filling wine bottles is only so interesting, so they sat on the porch listening to the coyotes while Mark helped me inside. We bottled 29 bottles of Pinot Grigio, filled them, corked them and put them aside to label later. I like doing this with him because bottling is the one time I can say, “Put a cork in it, Dear,” and not get in trouble. By the time we were done, it was late and Sara and Steven had gone to bed, so Mark and I took our turn sitting on the porch drinking the first glass of homemade wine.  Mark agreed it was amazingly good. Yippee! It will be over a year before we can drink the wines I made from raw fruit, like the blackberry, strawberry, apple and tomato currently aging, so suddenly I have an appreciation for the wine grape juices you can buy to hurry this process a bit.  Think I’ll do another batch that way. 

Anyway, it was a busy week – fun because we had the opportunity to entertain, yet life didn’t come to a standstill. Our friends were around to witness our joy as we celebrated the final closing of our Sarasota building, after weeks and weeks of it being put off – which relieves a huge stress from our world. They were here when we signed the contract to guarantee the purchase of our new land for our next business. Abviously, the next time they come, there will be more developments to witness in Hendryland.

They witnessed the work of our world and yet explored Blue Ridge Lake with us, and some area trails too. All told, it was a week that combined vacation fun with everyday ranch-farm-homestead chores. I think they enjoyed it. And it is always fun to see your world through someone else’s eyes – puts everyday drudgery in a new light, ya know.
They left yesterday, so our time is ours again to plug away at life. That is good too. I admit, with no one to entertain, we curled up in bed early yesterday and watched three movies in a row. Big blobs – that was us.

I must go walk. Still in training, don’t ya know. And I gotta dust off my dancing shoes. We are going to Sarasota to teach next week, but I’ll write about that later.