Friday morning, I woke up at 6 and showered and dressed. I'd packed up the night before because Tina was working extremely late, and I was bored. But it was an excellent idea.
I drove down to campus and picked up ceolnamara (formerly known as vampyrecandy) and Misty (who we need to make get a LiveJournal) for the trip out. The ladies packed a lot less stuff than I did (thankfully), and were probably more together about it all. Me, I'm a lazy-ass bastard and just thew stuff into bags, really. Those two packed well.
The plan was good: drive out to Baltimore and see CedarLight Grove's building around 1 PM, drive down to Trillium right after that. Little did I know, things would not be as planned.
We set out driving east, into the rising sun. Things went smoothly for a long while. The girls slept, and I sang along to the Buffett that I had in my CD player (I had 7 hours worth in the player, for those keeping score at home). Meghan eventually woke up when we got into Pennsylvania. I feel sorry for her, having to listen to me bitch and moan about the goddamned 40 MPH stretches of I-70 along the turnpike, where it never was above 55 MPH. What kind of a way is that to run a toll road? They want me to *pay* to drive slow? wtf?
But again, I bitch and moan.
Anyway, at 1 PM we were still about two hours from CLG, and I wasn't happy with that situation. I called satikat at CLG and told her where we were, and she was about as surprised as I felt at being still in PA when I should be pulling into the CLG driveway.
She gave me some alternate directions to CLG in case traffic near the exit was nasty, and said she'd hang around for us. Have I mentioned yet that I appreciate that?
Well, we rolled into CLG around 3:30, after getting a bit lost by confusing "Old Harford" and "Harford" roads (I should have realized something was up, but I didn't).
satikat gave us a wonderful tour of the building (a pair of pictures can be found here and here), and we sat around for a few minutes (mainly because no one wanted to face traffic at 5 PM going through both Baltimore *and* Washington DC).
Allow me to say that I am extremely jealous, and I desire a building for Three Cranes now. No, I mean it. Right now.
Well, satikat kidnapped ceolnamara so she could use the express lanes, and left me with Misty for the ride, which was pretty cool. Misty managed to stay awake for this part of the ride, and we got to talk a lot. Apparently, ceolnamara and satikat share a fondness for Harry Potter fanfic, and I am thus very happy that they rode together so I didn't have to hear the conversation later. :)
We flew through Baltimore and DC, actually (apparently, we waited just long enough). Misty got to see the scenery, but I was weaving through traffic at a pretty fast clip, so I only caught glances of the capitol building and the Washington Monument.
On the radio there was some DJ talking about a club he was at, where he'd already seen six pairs of breasts, and I complained about not getting to see any today. Misty laughed, and almost flashed me, but probably figured it was safer if my eyes were on the road. Damnit.
We stopped at a rest stop for a few minutes just north of the Prince William Forest Park and relaxed, and finally rolled into camp around 7:30 PM.
In the dining hall, I met Skip, who asked me to help him edit the Clergy Study Program for grammatical, etc. errors. I volunteered satikat for the same job, too, because she talked at such length about her editing of the DP, and I figured that she'd want to do this one, too. *grins* Sorry!
I figure this way I can edit it to help it get out on time, then I can buy the damn thing and go through the program at long last. :) I'm so looking forward to it.
I also got to meet sparkliedragon, which was really cool. I feel very privledged to have met a few of the CLG women (they're smart, funny, *and* hot!) and I look forward to meeting more. Next time I come through Baltimore, I'll have to make it worth everyone's while. . .
I signed in, and as I was doing so, Nancy from Grove of Seven Hills (GOSH) looked at my name and said, "So you're the one we pissed off!" referring to their announcement of adopting the street outside of Jerry Falwell's church when I called them on the joke. I assured her that I didn't get pissed, but figured they probably went off the deep end with the focus on the place, not the service. After all, if I can't see the vast humour in it, I need to be kicked in the head.
After sign-in, I met rhiannon76, and re-met Explore, who I could finally remember from the Summerland past. I was probably very short with both, but I get that way sometimes and don't realize it until after I've done it. I was also amused at being temporarily unable to connect the name "Ann" with rhiannon76 immediately, until she introduced Explore as well. I had that problem more than once this weekend.
That night, there was a whisky tasting. I'm not usually into whisky under any circumstances, but I sat next to ceolnamara and we drank up. We tried 6 Whiskys and Scotches. My favourites were the Powers Gold Label, Highland Park, and Bowmore. The last had a crazy aftertaste that was just beautiful, but you had to choke it down first.
After that, I was walking back through the dining hall on my way to the bardic circle, but I didn't make it until late because of a discussion that I ended up participating in in the kitchen with several people about votes, the DP, and leadership in general in ADF. I always feel a bit out of place in spontaneous meetings like that, but, information whore that I am, I can't leave them well enough alone.
But I got to the pavilion eventually (after, apparently, missing some good stuff by ceolnamara). There, I got to make fun of ceolnamara a bit for what looked like hitting on a teenager (but which she assures me was not. I also ended up meeting tlachtga, who was not wearing her Catholic Schoolgirl outfit as I had been promised, *sniff*, but I will get over this, especially since she said, "definitely next festival."
I loaned tlachtga "The Triads of Britain" (by our good friend Iolo) for the weekend. (Another reason I wasn't at all sore about the lack of a schoolgirl outfit? I was supposed to have this book copied for her and I managed to forget and forget and forget, so I fully understand.) I expect I'll be copying the book tonight and sending it out tomorrow.
Eventually, it was bedtime for me. I kind of stumbled back to the cabin and took off my clothes to go back to bed. I was amused to have my leg felt up by a half-asleep Misty at that point from her bed across the isle. I slept remarkably well that night.
Saturday morning I woke up to a bright, sunny, cloudless day. That's really what camping is all about: those beautiful spring mornings. I got up and wasn't quite sure what to do. I was one of three guys in a dorm-cabin full of women, and there was one bathroom with two toilets and two showers. I didn't know whether the women would take over the bathroom and force the men out or what, so I decided I'd just do what I needed to do before anyone got any ideas.
I grabbed my towel and toiletries and went into the bathroom. I started a shower, and was plesantly surprised to find it warm and powerful. To get both at a Pagan festival is a true rarity. I took a fairly quick shower, dried off, and went to put on clothes.
I stepped outside first, though, to see what the temprature was like that day. Even in just a towel, it was an excellent temperature, and so I decided that it was a good thing I had brought clothes that suited this weather, as I figured that if I did, the weather would suit them. Believe me, it all works out in my head.
I pulled on my shorts and my Haiwaiian shirt and strolled out for breakfast.
Breakfast was an awesome array of muffins. Obviously, someone was thinking of me, because there were lots of blueberry muffins (and anyone who knows me well knows that I will kill for a blueberry muffin). I sat and ate, chatting and talking and editing the Dance Guild proposal (which I'm finished editing, and just need to return to beautycorrosion). After breakfast, I decided to go on the nature walk (because no matter how I tried to slice it mentally, a workshop on "Runic Reki" just sounded like fluff piled on bullshit, with no offense intended).
The nature walk was very, very good. We ambled through the forest, and eventually came to a bend in the Quantico creek and sat down to meditate a bit. I listened to the sounds, and was especially moved by the artillery fire at the range next to the park. I know that sounds a bit strange, but that's how I felt. You'll know why in a second.
We talked after the meditation about what we felt in the place, and several people talked about the feelings of nature, and the desire to get back. Most people also talked about the artillery fire bringing them out of their trances. When it was my turn to speak, I said this:
"In 1968, my father was at the end of his financial rope. In order to finish college, he volunteered for the Marine Corps. In 1969 and 1970 he served a tour of duty in Vietnam. After that, he came back to Quantico and ran the rifle range here."
"For most of you, the artillery brought you out of your trances. It made you think more of spoiled areas than of natural ones. For me, they brought an ancestral connection that I haven't felt in a long time. The guns brought my father back to me."
Of course, their impressions were spot on for them, but I still like my impressions best.
We got up, and we walked back to the camp.
I looked at the next workshops, and I decided that I was more inclined to do crafty stuff than whatever else was going on. I sat down in the dining hall and during the next workshop we did basket weaving to make moraccas, which was, at some points, an exercise in humility and frustration. But I managed it, and I eventually figured out how to weave qickly, even though my end product sucked.
Following that workshop, we had lunch. Following lunch, I went for a long nap. This necessitated me missing the dance workshop (which I hear included 5 women undulating around a pole), and I'm a bit miffed about that.
After I woke up from my nap, I figured it was time for a walk. Misty and I went down to the river, and on our way, stopped at the field and shot arrows for a bit. She hit a bullseye, almost dead center. Me, I was just shown up by a girl who might be 100 lbs. wet with rocks in her pockets.
ceolnamara showed up at the range as well, and I showed her how to shoot. She got it down pretty quickly, and (as I didn't want to shoot anymore, I started to wander off after Misty, who had just left.
I caught up, and we continued down to the river, and I sat with my feet in the water for a while while Misty splashed around in the water and the sun. Eventually, I looked up the path, and I saw ceolnamara's shirt through the green trees, so we walked back up to bring her down. She was lost in her music, playing the flute, though, and we sneaked up behind and listened while she played. When she finished, we talked her into coming back down with us, and she played a bit more. I snapped some photos of the girls (to be posted later), both a beautiful compliment to the day.
We splashed around a bit more, and I realized I was slightly late for satikat's workshop, but not much. So I walked back to the dining hall to get the location, and then tried to follow the directions to the place that it was supposed to be held. Stupid me got lost.
Leave it to me to do the "manly" thing and think I know where I'm going.
But I did find the workshop before the end of it. I was only about 35 minutes late, all told. But I still felt bad.
Following the workshop, we got ready for the ritual. I got dressed for the rite in my white robe, and Misty asked me if she could borrow my black one. She put it on, and she literally swam in it. Being half my size (quite literally), she just didn't fill it out. I laughed at this for a while, and then just told her that she'd be a lot better off in her sun dress.
We went to the pre-ritual briefing (me dressed in my Sunday best, of course), and went through chants. At one point we came to a chant called "Fur and Feather" which I had never heard once, but which is apparently used throughout some Pagan groups in Maryland, because everyone else seemed to know it. I figured I'd just pretend, and it would work out just fine. During the short intermission between pre-ritual and ritual, though, I saw several clusters of Pagans trying to remember the words to it, so I didn't feel so alone in not knowing it at that point.
The ritual was good, though not exactly as I like them. It was more laid back than I'm used to, and it was very nice to get such a perspective on how CLG does ritual. I learned a few interesting new things.
We came to the praise offerings, and I had purchased a golden delicious apple for You-Know-Who as a sacrifice. Just before the rite, I had also purchased a silver ring ($32) for Esus. It was somewhat of a last minute offering, I realize, but everything about this trip was very last minute.
I watched a few praise offerings, because I wanted to be sure about dropping silver into the well. Usually, I know and understand the protocol for such things, but this rite was the ADF Unity Rite, and the cauldron was the Unity Cauldron. I wasn't sure silver should go in there before the Unity portion of the rite. Well, no one else used it, so I was really beginning to wonder. Finally, I saw that we only had a few more people to go, and I figured I should go immediately, so I stood up, pulled the apple out of my pocket, and walked to the edge of the circle.
I'd carefully watched where sparkliedragon had placed the Outdwellers' offerings (vodka and dark chocolate), and I stood on a bench and turned my back to that spot. I bit the apple, ripped out a chunk, and threw it over my shoulder.
I'm told that Skip was heard to utter the words, "Ahh, Eris," when I made this offering.
I stepped to the center, intending to make an oath to Esus. I dropped to one knee, and began to think about what I needed to say, and what I needed to do. I was silent for a long time, or so it felt, completely unsure what to do. Questions ran through my head: "Can I put the ring in the well? If not, would the fire be appropriate? Shit, what was I going to say again? Gods damn it! I'm lost. Someone give me a hand?"
I was kneeling still, when suddenly I heard my answer:
I looked across the circle. On the other side, a baby, probably less than a year old (though I'm no good with ages like that) was in his mother's arms, making numerous bathroom noises and laughing.
I listened for a moment, and someone said, "Hey, that kid's channeling Eris!" I laughed at this, because I knew that was the case; I'd known as soon as I heard that first noise.
I watched the child for some time longer, and knew what to do with this ring. It wasn't time to give that oath yet, and Eris was simply taking the matter out of my hands.
I stood up, walked over to the child, and put the ring in his hand. He giggled, I smiled, and we both knew what happened. I went back to sit down.
After the rite, we had dinner. CLG graciously let me sit with them, but I think it was the pants. This theory is supported by satikat's mention of the pants in her recap of the weekend, sparkliedragon's falling to her knees in worship (a brand new experience for me), and Caryn's expression of the admiration her kids would have for them. I relaxed with them for a while, and thanked them for their wonderful hospitality (I don't get to eat dinner with hotties enough, especially at Pagan gatherings).
At some point during the meal or after it, Misty took off with one of the CLG kids who is apparently 17. She didn't realize that he was hitting on her, I don't think, until he finally made an actual move, at which point I understand she laughed at him a bit.
After dinner, we invited Skip over to our table, and made satikat explain the nifty divination system she uses. satikat, if you read this, I still think you need to write a book on it.
After dinner, ceolnamara, Daffyd and a few others were cleaning, and I suddenly rememberd that I was supposed to be doing that, too. I stepped in, and went to work with them. I swear some of those surfaces hadn't been cleaned in years. Daffyd told me that I might have a promising career in food service.
After cleanup, we adjourned to the pavilion, and I went to get my chairs. I was walking down, and I usually love the dark and the woods, but this time, my pants were making lots of noises. Because I couldn't hear the forest around me, I had this strange mixture of emotions: sort of an elixr of fear and amusement. I was slightly afraid because I was approaching a crossroads at night (never a smart move), and very amused that I felt any trepidation at all.
I got the chairs and started back up the road, and was peering into the woods. I couldn't see very well, but all of a sudden, on my left, I saw a zombie rising out of the ground. I stopped in my tracks and started thinking about what to do.
Fortunately, I didn't scream, because it would have been very embarassing to have people come running because of a tree stump that only looked scary from one angle.
Anyway, I got back to the pavilion laughing at myself. I gave one of the chairs to ceolnamara, and I pulled up and sat behind and sort of between satikat and sparkliedragon. Then, lo, the hotties parted, and I was allowed to sit between them.
So I had hotties next to me, drinking, watching pirates sing (and Pyrates Royale were a lot of fun, I might add), and eating frosting. I couldn't think of anywhere I'd rather be.
Misty came back at this point, Tegan in tow, and she came over and sat behind me for a bit. I got up to go to the bathroom, and she followed me. I ended up bruising myself on a stump pretty badly in the dark, but we eventually made it back to the cabin. On the way, she told me she was planning to kiss me that night, and I told her she wouldn't do that. She insisted that she would again, and I told her no again. She continued to argue this point in the cabin, probably waking someone up (I expect Caryn was sleeping in there), so I wonder a bit what that person thought of this (I'm slightly amused that I might get those rumours started after all). When Misty realized that someone else had probably heard her, I figured she gave up on the whole thing.
When I got back to the pavilion with her, and we kind of went our separate ways for a while. Some guy in a white shirt started hitting hard on Misty at this point (he was probably almost twice her age, and was a groupie with the band), and Tegan started hitting hard, too.
satikat offered me a back rub, and I took her up on that. I sat on the floor watching the pirates, relaxing to a really nice backrub (one of the nicest I've gotten in a while), and it was just a good feeling. When I was done with that, I went to check on Misty, who was getting hit on hard.
I pulled Misty away from the crazies for a bit, and we went for a walk. I was pretty concerned for her, because I didn't trust the guy in the white shirt, and he was displaying all the signs of working *real* hard to get her drunk.
I walked back with her to the bathrooms, and asked how she was doing. She asked me not to stop being friends with her, and I said I wouldn't.
I got back to the pavilion, and sparkliedragon was lying half-sideways in her chair. I sat down next to her, smiled, and started watching the band again. At some point, she looked up at me and said, "You can pet me if you want to." Who was I to argue? So I started petting her head.
My far, the highest compliement I received that night was, "You must have very happy cats."
After a while of this, satikat came over and declared she was next. I told her that I still had a free hand, so she sat down in front of me and I started petting her head, too. I suspect that my quality of petting was lower due to having to struggle to co-ordinate between two heads instead of one. It wasn't easy.
I saw the guy in the white shirt hitting on Misty again (not that he was ever able to leave her alone), so I reluctantly left the ladies for a few minutes. At this point, Misty told me not to come try to save her again, so I said okay. I was getting weird, mixed signals all night. I wasn't sure whether she wanted me to help, or not to.
Eventually, I got up to dance with Selene, and bought some mead off her. I got tangled in my chains on my pants as well. At some point in the night (I'm not sure when chronologically), I was confused with someone who is actually *into* bondage, and I did nothing to dispell this illusion.
Last thing that night, satikat asked me if I wanted a reading using the nifty divination system she used at the rite. I said yes, and she read for me. I liked the reading, and thought it was pretty good. She did a couple more readings for others, and then we decided it was time for bed. I went over to tell Misty, hoping that she'd come too, but I wasn't sure she would, after the night of going back and forth between being thankful for removing the guys and being angry that I did. I was very relieved when she did come back to the cabin with us.
Sunday morning we got up, and I showered, checking carefully for ticks. They were everywhere that weekend, and several people found them, but I don't know of any who actually embedded themselves. We got all ready to leave and packed up.
I got my book back from tlachtga, and scolded her a bit for not wearing her Catholic Schoolgirl outfit. All I have to say? It better be at Wellspring! I sat with Explore for a while, and he and I discussed his Protogrove, where it was, some issues that he has had, and some solutions that he has found. I ended up very impressed with his work, and am quite relieved to have a Protogrove to mentor that doesn't actually need my help, because they have someone who knows what he's doing.
Eventually, we had to go. We gave hugs all around (and it was said that I give good hugs, which is a bonus), and then piled into the car and left.
At our first stop, ceolnamara realized that she had probably left her camera in the pavilion on Sat. night. (satikat or sparkliedragon, did you guys find a digital camera?). We decided not to drive back to VA to get it, since we were in northern Maryland at that point and it was already 1 PM.
Instead, I took a wrong turn and got us lost. But we fixed that problem right quick.
On our way home, we even got to see a huge car fire on the side of the road.
All in all, it was an awesome trip.
I think I'll be distilling it and submitting it to Oak Leaves. athanasios told me he was looking for festival reviews. So he'll get one from me. A very, very distilled version.