Celebrating Imbolc or "Why we want the Groundhog to sleep late"

It's Imbolc. Time of reflection and time for hearth and home. We celebrate many things this time of year. For those of us who live in the cold and frozen North, this is the time when we dream of SPRING.

This is when seed catalogs come and folks start dreaming of better weather. It's cold. We want and NEED the sun!

It is the time of cleansing too.Time to cleanse our hearts, our lives, our bodies, our relationships, our homes...

Pagans of the past celebrated Imbolc with a blessing from the Goddess Bridgid. She is a Fire Goddess of Hearth and Home.

In Ireland, Brigid was the daughter of the one of the Tuatha De Danann.(in history, they are where faeries come from!) She is considered a classic Celtic, Triple Goddess.

She was a women of poetry and poets, a healer and the Goddess of all things related to high and lofty. High rising flames, high towers, highland hills and high and lofty ideas (high intelligence, wisdom, eloquence, poetic eloquence) but mostly she reigns supreme over house and home.

She was absorbed into the Catholic religion as St. Brigit, as were so many other Pagan ideas, ideals and traditions.

This is the season of Life and Death in an Agrarian culture. This is when herds are culled, when the weakest are eliminated, when the farm communities used to be 1/2 done with winter and 1/2 their hay was gone for their livestock. Farmers (as we who also live in the land of ice and snow) look forward to spring.
Brigid, bieng a fire Goddess, was honored with bonfires and light to celebrate the hope for better weather.  She is the Goddess of Transformation. As the world awakens from it's winter slumber and as the days grow longer and brighter, we await for better weather and for the world to burst into newness and joy and to shed the long, cold, hard days of winter and emotions.

This truly, is a time of "Fire & Ice: The Circle of Life."

How is she related to Pauxatawney Phil you ask?

The groundhog gets all tangled with this because of Celtic traditions celebrating St. Brigid's Day (Feb. 1) and Candlemas, the Catholic St. Brigit (Feb. 2)

Here's an old poem from Celtic tradition:

"As the light grows longer
The cold grows stronger
If Candlemas be fair and bright
Winter will have another flight
If Candlemas be cloud and rain
Winter will be gone and not come again
A farmer should on Candlemas day
Have half his corn and half his hay
On Candlemas day if thorns hang a drop
You can be sure of a good pea crop."

They share almost the same day for a rememberance day."

They used to use Hedgehogs as the prognosticators, to say when spring was on it's way, but when the Pilgrims and travelers came over here to the Americas, they could find no hedgehogs! Only the lowly, fat groundhogs. And so if he sees his shadow (likely) there will be 6 weeks more of winter. If he doesn't (hopeful) we will have an early spring.

Which of course is why seed catalogs are so prevalent in your mailbox on Groundhog's Day :) It is the wish for SPRING. That's why we WISH for the groundhog to NOT see his shadow :)

We WANT a sleepy groundhog!

We now clean out our houses, hearths and home and dedicate our hearts and minds to doing better, getting to where we need to be, adjusting who we are, who we associate with, what takes up our time and how we will get to where we want to be.

Maybe we will sleep in like the groundhog and let spring come to us.
Maybe we will sweep out our houses and purify our lives and makes some changes and get up early.

Maybe we should all just have a feast and celebrate Brigid and Phil and offer up our prayers to the Gods on the winds of a bonfire, burning slips of paper with what we want to release, and what we want to add.

Hey, it can't hurt....and after all...


A Typical Faire Day Poem

Bodice jingle
Laces tight
Tuning guitars
Drum strapped on right

Trolls big and furry
Pink Army Boots
Scarlett O’Hara
Harps and Flutes

Bunnies in Peril
Wing-ed Fowl
Knights on Horseback
Magic Cur and Owl

Pickled Garlic
Pickled Mates
The sound of the cannon
Opens the gates

Banners snap
Children giggle
Men watch the ladies
Trussed up that jiggle

Baskets of Music
Lugged here and there
When sung out loud
Waft sweet on the air

Chivalrous Rogues
Buxom Wenches
Mundanes sit tired
On bales and on benches

Kings and Queens
Beggers and Thieves
Tightly cinched bodices
Sport Billowy sleeves

Doodads and Whatnots
Rats and Tit Mice
Roaches and Privies
Make you think twice

Full tankards of ale
Goblets of Wine
Sips of free Meade
Make me feel just fine

Spuds and Pretzels
Turkey legs are greasy
Elizabethean for the gentles
Made terribly easy

Add an “Aye” or a “Nay”
When you are not sure
Make you sound as if
Ye’ve lived in Schruppshire

Hugs and Kisses
Chain maile and flowers
Here is where we want
To spend hours and hours

To the Pub! To the Gate!
Let no man tarry
Romance is here
On the day that you marry

So make haste
Prithee, Sire, Look!
These are the things
You keep in scrapbooks

For when we are old
When we finally seize up
We will remember the days
When there was Faire in our Cup

Poem in the Middle of the Night

Fairytale Pink
Gingerbread Red
Pine Forest Green
Sunshine Citron Yellow
These are the colors of Enchantment
My intrepid fellow!

Tropical Blue
Puffy Cloud White
Fairies dance
While you sleep at night!
Petals and Pollen
Blades of Grass
Childhood Moments
that last and last!

Beauty and Wonder
I wish for Thee
Pixie Dust trails
and Holes in Oak Trees
Twilight tingles
and Midnight Moon
Dreams of Love
to Find You Soon!

Merlyn’s Magic and Morgan Le Fay
Broomsticks and Apples
Morning Dew in May
Cauldrons and Kettles
Sage and Sweet Smudge
Strawberries Ripe  
and Chocolate Fudge

Music and Laughter
Flirtatious Eyes
Silver and Golden Sunsets
Fill the Skies!
Come to me Magic! 
Bid me no farewell!

My heart calls to Thee Sweetly
Echoed deep in water barrels

Dragonflies and Hummingbirds
Suddenly appear
Tarot and Goddesses
Give me Nothing to Fear
Magic within me
Magic without
Let Nature show her Wonders
Let the Flowers Shout!

Fire & Ice: Circle of Life Tour Wrap Up~

I am home.

The ride yesterday was arduous long. Having been on the far eastern coast of North Carolina and off the beaten path,  considering the major winter storm approaching, we deemed that the best way home for us was to go a new and different route. We followed up the coast of N.C. to the upper edge and went over the Chesapeake Bay bridge/tunnel as I said before, then came home via Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania.
(I’d like to make an aside here now. I do love to write. Sometimes I’ve caught slack for it… (i.e. “writing too much”…”on the computer all the time” by my friends and loved ones, and sometimes, that is the true case) but sometimes I feel that I don’t get to write “enough” in my opinion. I felt somewhat rushed while on the trip, to squeeze in some info, snatching bits of time, after faire, before bed, wherever I was, before it was forgotten or clouded with new adventure stories. I left out a lot.)
Here are some things I wanted to tell you about either the trip or what I learned along the journey:
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel was indeed a marvel of engineering. I appreciate what it is and does. I was also glad we came across it at 9 o’clock at night, while it was DARK and while there was no rush hour traffic, because at one point we had to wait. We had to wait, sitting on a bridge, with all that weight, on top of 100 feet of dark water. Then we had to drive (twice!) down into tunnels, to go down underneath all that dark water.

Being a pirate, I appreciate the gravity of this situation. Basically we were in what consecrated a concrete sleeve down in the depths of Davy Jones’ Locker. I didn’t like it much. I felt trapped like a mouse in a maze, or a victim in the Minotaur’s Labyrinth. I was glad indeed, to drive off of it.
I had never been on the Delaware Peninsula before either. For those of you who have never been there, it is a long peninsula, about the length of the state of Virginia (where it probably broke off and floated away from it in some cataclysmic fault a million years ago).  
The peninsula, how’ere, is sitting braced on one side by the wild Atlantic Ocean and the other side by the calm Chesapeake Bay and the busy-ness of Washington, D.C.  and Baltimore, MD.  Strikingly, and oddly enough, regarding all that…it is a quiet place. A rural place sparsely filled with houses and businesses. It does have roads, although, they are “secondary” highways, at best. Which means, you have to drive at 45-55mph for miles… and miles… of “stop-start” traffic for about 300 miles? On bypasses, back on and off thoroughfares…It took freaking FOREVER.
We were trying (logically) to avoid both Washington and Baltimore traffic, while also,  by necessity, dodging a winter storm coming up the coast in the path we had to travel. It was a good plan. I just heard that 100,000 are now without power and several international airports and many roads are closed, as I write this from the safety of my armchair, finally at home. We did succeed. We are safe and sound at home.  I was never so happy to get out of the car when we got home!
 I do so love to travel. Harry is a good traveling companion, too. We enjoy the adventures together. It is quite beautiful and fills us with wonder to travel our country. It really runs the gamut of scenic, natural, beautiful vistas and urban cityscapes to abject desolute poverty contrasted against the fur trim of wealth in mega McMansions.
It also rained most of the drive  yesterday, but we were always grateful, when checking the outside temperature, that it remained above freezing for the ride home. Traveling in rain may be annoying, but traveling on icy roads is much worse.
Some of our individual united States, we are definitely more fond of than others:
Pennsylvania is a terror for their roads. They always seem to be torn up! While it’s nice once in awhile to see an Amish family horse and cart on the trek, it is more likely that you will see a sign that says, “Road work ahead-be prepared to stop”. Or that you will drive miles on end, just inches from a tractor trailer running in a gauntlet of concrete lanes with no give or shoulder.
Virginia is breathtakingly beautiful with its mountains and valleys, but I have to tell you that Harry and I get the willies driving there at night. There are specters and ill will feelings still buried there in the landscape that was so scarred by civil war. While I’d love to go to Williamsburg, I would never bring myself to go to Gettysburg. I pick up psychic vibes so easily, that I would hear too many chilling stories and see too much sorrow and suffering there. I do not want any psychic attachments following me home, because I am sympathetic. I do pray that these dead soldiers and their families finally find rest one peaceful day.
North Carolina has very kind people, but it is evident that a lot of the state is so very economically depressed and poor. I feel bad for them as I look at their homes and see how they live. Some places are really just scraping an existance out hand to mouth. But the Gods are Good, Mimsaab”, because even so, the pine trees are statuesque in their forest green crown of beauty in riotous return for the land’s austere living. So beautiful are the trees here!
We also had a creepy moment here. Harry and I took a turn, which we thought was correct. We drove for the 8 miles it stated on the map. It was raining and overcast, but ok. We were definitely in Bumfeck County. Out in the country, on a back road, when all of a sudden our door locks started going crazy! They locked and unlocked themselves off and on for about 10 seconds! We decided it was probably the humidity of the rain messing with the electro-magnetics. Then we decided that we WERE on the wrong path, turned around to go back and find our way from our missed turn. (We have no GPS, much to Talon’s dismay). On our return trip through this mysterious countryside, at the very same spot, again…noted by the mileage and the landmarks…our door locks went CRAZY, again…locking and unlocking! Now we were really creeped out. Then we figured this is also the land of the military. There are military training camps all over the place out here. Maybe they were beaming something? Testing something? Maybe it was some old Dixie soldier trying to catch a ride out of hell?
Another thing while I’m talking about North Carolina. We thoroughly enjoyed the visit at the Maritime Museum. But I have to say, there was some sadness. We talked to the tour guide there for quite some time. In our conversations, he told us that a few years back a giant whale had ended up beaching itself on the beach there in Beaufort. It had swam ashore and died. This enormous leviathan had wound up dead on the sand instead of swimming purposely deep in the ocean.   In doing the autopsy of the oceanic mammal, they found it had eaten recently. It was not ill at all, but very healthy. Healthy, except of course, for the fact that its hearing had been totally destroyed. Sonar testing was blamed for the destruction and damage. Whales “hear” their world. Their hearing tells them where they are, where they are going and even where to find food. It is a sad thing that the sonar testing that is done by our military drills, is what kills so many whales, manatees, dolphins and other sensitive wildlife, unnecessarily.
South Carolina, however, is gorgeous. The landscape opens up to the mix of pine trees and the new addition of palm trees. Beaches and palm fronds abound. The state keeps itself pretty clean and neat too. A great bonus is that the waitress’s usually all call you “darlin’”. J
Florida is alternately beautiful in its wildlife and lush tropical landscapes and horrendous in its urban sprawl. Oh, some of the cityscapes can be beautiful, but the miles and miles of malls which have been built on destroyed wetlands is sad. The people also drive crazy here. They are called “Flor-idiots”! I so do love seeing herons, pink flamingoes, geckos and cranes though. The sunsets are stunning every single night.
We also love seeing our friends and family along the way on these trips.  The faire down in Fort Myers is always such a joy to play! This faire raises money for the Kiwanis, which in turn, raises money for kids. A big bonus this year was that we met new friends, and got to lead the final song for the last night of faire here this year.
I ended up reading an entire book to Harry as we drove along. The book this year, was “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elisabeth Gilbert. A book of travel and thought provoking ideas. We laughed and mused and thought great thoughts all along the way.
It occurred to me, that while reading this book, a change has been happening in me and in some of my close relationships. I feel differently lately. It may be my ever evolving change from mother into crone…but I am calming. I no longer want to go hunt, pounce and capture, but instead I feel like waiting for things to come to me, is the better avenue for success. In my life, it seems to have taken a lot of work, effort, men, children, friends, music, sorrow and joy, to get here, but I feel a new Merlyn emerging.
I fight like crazy the changes sometimes, like the change from rain to sleet. It’s harsh. I don’t like the feeling. Like the Hulk’s mundane personality or Dr. Jekyll, I have a hard time making the different transition. In my life, I have been wild like this. I have scared others. I have scared myself.
But sometimes the changes I’ve been feeling are also like crossing the borders from one state to another. You wouldn’t even know the change has occurred, except for the sign saying so. All of a sudden, one day…I’m different. A new state.
This trip was named the “Fire & Ice: Circle of Life” tour. It was named with good reasons. There were actual fire and ice encounters at the faire and on the journey. It also had its share of life and death, with the unfortunate demise of a jousting horse (pet & co-worker of our friends in the jousting troupe) to the sad delivery of still born puppies to the resting place of a terminally ill feline of our dear friends. There was grief.

It also had a lot of life to it as well.
Harry took at least a 1001 photographs. He took pictures while driving (sometimes making me exceedingly nervous, especially while we were going 60 mph on high bridges or with oncoming traffic…) He took pictures of whatever struck his fancy. From the bizarre to the mundane, he documented the moment. It was a common occurrence that he would thrust his hand gripping the camera, in front of my face and take a picture out my window.
There was the activity and life of smart and funny 3-year old Aidan, who is active from the moment he rises till he retires each night. Pin balls have to sleep sometimes, and his mommy and daddy were ready for it too at that time of day. There were the animals of Busch Gardens, chimpanzees who taught us about ourselves, elephants smart as whips and pink flamingoes standing on one foot. There was also the addition to our recently bereaved friends of a new rescued dog to their family. They named her “Willow”.  She reminds me that life IS change and it’s good to bend like the branches of the willow to go with the flow of the wind. It’s always better to bend than to break.
I am home now. I’m a bit of a different person, than when I left. Change happens and can be a good and beautiful thing.
There were things I decided on the trip, lots of conversations, a long trip of bonding together that we did, on the ride, in sharing a life changing book and in sharing adventure.
We will be working on a new CD and also working on a re-release of our old CD “Cakes & Ale” for hopeful release of both at Silver Kingdom faire in June.
Harry also says that work will continue on the clean up of the office and we will strive for harmony within our family and our life together.
I also feel the need to devote myself back to ME. While I do for others, most of my whole entire life…I realize the need to re-connect with MY needs, hopes, wishes and desires. While it’s good to care for others, I realized by reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s words, that I am also a lot like her. I tend to immerse myself in others and sometimes imbue them with qualities of a nature that they do not have, but that I think they could have at their highest level.
This I have learned:
People are who they are.
 We are where we are by our own choices.
They are where they are, in life, in relationships; by their own choices…even before they were born they chose this.
I need to consider that everyone is doing their very best at this moment.
I have made a concerted effort to stop pushing things, people, and events.
I will see what happens and let the universe unfold, instead of me trying to peel it open to force it to bloom. I will let the Universe reveal itself to me and come to me, instead of my relentless chasing and tending.
I will try to find the Divinity of myself and try to see it in others.
“God is within me, as me”.
“God is within you, as you.”
The Circle goes round thru fire and ice and back again. It is a giant wheel of life and love.
And now, after all my striving, singing, adventure, delving into the hearts of others and my own, chasing dreams and prying open locked doors, or scaling fortress walls….
I realize instead, that I am relaxed…

Blackbeard, Queen Anne's Revenge and Adventure

Harry and I left our not so posh digs of last night, and drove off the beaten path on a very dreary, drizzly day in North Carolina. Basically, we found the location of "Bum-feck" N.C. in a short period of time.

There wasn't a lot of beauty out here in the backwoods (except for the beautiful pine trees that grow abundantly). No, here there was poverty, economic hardship and folks lived to survive.

We got LOST for about a 1/2 hour....there were NO SIGNS on the road anywhere. We had directions and a shredded map (which is starting to resemble an old quilt with holes) and...no GPS. We ended up asking for directions at a mini-mart. The local boys there were happy to send us back in the right direction. While there we grabbed lunch of greens, hushpuppies (I gave Harry mine :) and I had some awesome fried chicken while he had some pork chops. Basically, it took us about 4 hours to go about 175 miles on these secondary roads....all the while, trying to find our way to Beaufort, N. C. (yes...Beaufort! :)

As we get closer, it's starting to look more like a coastal area as we head towards the Maritime Museum/Blackbeard's Museum.

We see some great business signs:

"Christian Family Radio and Transmission Shop"

"Crabby George's"

"Open Door Baptist Church" (we liked this one :)

"Sanitary Restaurant"

"The Crystal Coast" and best of all was the Welcome Sign to:
"Beaufort-By-The-Sea" :)

Beaufort claims to be the "3rd oldest town in America".

It is the site where Blackbeard's ships the "Queen Anne's Revenge" and "Adventure" ran aground and were lost in Topsail (now Beaufort).

We found the museum and were happy indeed to go in. There was free admission/donation and the cape cod style building housed some really amazing things!

Invertebrate fossils from the Eocene epoch (55-35 million years ago!)
Vertebrate fossils and bones:
Porpoise teeth, Extinct tiger shark teeth, walrus foot bones, seal bones, elephant toe bones....
ALL FOUND IN NORTH CAROLINA....(many thousands of years ago....)

Onward to the Blackbeard exhibit!

We saw lots of relics from the ship they believe to be the "Queen Anne's Revenge".
We read information about his supposed 14 wives (documents support at least 2)..
His name "Edward Teach" or "Thatch" was his original moniker...he died on Nov. 22, 1718 after a receiving 5 musket blasts and 20 sword gashes...

Many stories abound about him being beheaded and "swimming round the ship several times w/o his head" also that his head swung by the bowsprite as a warning to others by his capturers...

.there is also a rumor that his head was made into a silver punchbowl!

He wore 3 brace of pistols, hanging in holsters like bandoliers. He wore his beard up to his eyes and as long as possible He twisted his beard up into ribbons and twirled cannon fuses into it and draped them over his ears and lit them to give him the look of a "devil from the fires of hell!"

We saw eel traps, clam rakes, fish baskets, crab pots. Noted that the fish called a Mullet, was the original "Chicken of the Sea". Saw fresnel lamps from lighthouses with the saying "and the sea shall not have them" over the bright beaming light.

Read about whaling and saw the unfortunate and humongous ribs, bones and skulls of whales in an exhibit called "Chasing the Leviathan".

Saw 4 pounder English cannons...

Here is a picI found of one dislodged from the bottom of the sea. There is 4 feet of sand covering the Queen Anne's Revenge...can you imagine that?
They are basically "vacuuming" (dredging) the sea from the wreck to find these treasures!

Finished our day at a pub called "Clawsons" where we felt the need to wash down our day with pints and oysters and shrimp as we sat on the barstools so close to the ocean.

Meandering our way back to the main drag, we saw another sign: "Military Christian Center for Children" (which we found pretty disturbing.

I also found the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels very unnerving....miles and miles of bridge or traveling under tunnels with tons of water over top was sort of claustraphobic....but interesting. The bridge is 23 miles long, 17 of which are over water. There are 2 one mile long tunnels with 25-100 feet of water over your head at any time. They call it one of the 7 engineering wonders of the world. They are right!

We are now resting in a much nicer place tonight, just outside of Delaware (trying to miss the oncoming storm AND bypassing Washington D.C. traffic).

We will adventure more on the morrow!

Fair Winds Mateys!!

How do you tell you've booked yourself into a Cheap Motel? :)

So after about 11 hours on the road, Harry and I decide to stop for the night. I suggest an exit with lots of motel choices (the competition should bring better prices). "Oh look! Here's one! There's a Day's Inn, a Quality Inn, a Hampton Inn..." and Harry says, "Yah and a Super 8".

To which he passes by all my suggestions and pulls into the Super 8. "See honey? It says "Free Wi-Fi, Free Breakfast and lowest prices in town!"

Ok, so we are here.

We pull in and my first clue is that it looks....dark. (Hey, I thought they were supposed to "leave the light on for you?" :)

Before we can get out of the car, a big, black car pulls up to the door of the reception and a large black woman jumps out in her too swollenly filled jeans and she dashes into the motel. When we get in, we find that she is registering. She is VERY polite to the desk lady, with a "yes, ma'am" and a "no, ma'am" , and "a smoking room please ma'am" and "I'll pay cash ma'am".
She finishes her transaction and the desk clerk starts dealing with us. During the course of the conversation, she asks us if we'd like an upstairs room or a downstairs room. (realizing that we have guitars to unload, we instantly say, "Downstairs" in one voice).
The clerk says, "Don't worry, I put her upstairs. She's a local regular....and she won't be staying long".


So as Harry and I unload, we see a big black fellow, head to toe dressed in leather, coming down from the upstairs room and is on his cell phone, seemingly inviting some more friends over.

We unload our instruments, bags, Florida oranges (it may freeze here during the night) and lock up and pray that the rest will be ok till we get out there in the morning.

The room smells like soap (thankfully) and there is TV, Internet, and clean, fresh beds made up tight in the military style.I am grateful for these things.

How'ere.....there are other things that I am not so grateful for:

The sticky bathroom floor (thank the Gods I brought my slippers)

The running like a tap bathtub (thank the Gods there is a door so I don't have to hear it drip all night)

The activity at 4am upstairs with showers being taken and THEN the squeaky bed, then the quick exit. (second shift?)

It all reminds me of a song called "Cheap Motel" which I'd love to learn!

"There's no swimming pool, no service,
no restaurant, no bar
Just a bed and a bath
and a place to park your car
You have to carry your own bags
up at least one flight
but what do you expect
for $50 buck a night?
Now, why would you ever want anything more?
When first thing in the morning
you'll be right back out the door...
So save a little money....
raise a little hell....
Let's go find a Cheap Motel!"

And we have a Free breakfast this morning...Harry went down and came back with coffee and a couple of packaged plain danish. He said, "There was an Indian lady down there as the clerk It reminded me of the book you are reading to me, "Eat, Pray, Love". She had on her sarong and bindi. She definately did things at her own pace, that's for sure. Oh, by the way...there's no cheese danish, cream or milk products of any kind down there. The cow is Sacred."
Jumping from this we are leaving to drive to Beaufort, N.C. this morning.
We are going to the Maritime Museum there on the ocean before traveling home to the frozen north.
It's a visit to Blackbeard we are planning.

By the sounds of the goings on around here at this motel....
I think he slept here last night.

Be Prisoners of Love till you lie in the sod.

Well, me loverlies....

The day dawned chilly indeed. Arriving at the site, we hear MUCH snoring, snorting and huffing coming from withing our tent where Big Ben was sleeping. I turned to Harry and I said, "Hey, I didn't know we loaned our tent to an angry Clydesdale!" We had to laugh. That boy can rattle the windows!

At the faire, we saw familiar (for home, not here) frost on the grass on the way into the gate! We put on lots of layers....

It was really a great day! The day warmed over the hours and we shed layers as the day went on....
I bought a new ring, and we did
a bit of shopping...stopped by the Garlic Festival booth, and bought a couple kinds of pickled garlic and a couple jars of specialty mustards...YUM!! :)

Saw some friends from far and near....made new friends. :)

Turned around while singing to a boothie, and saw...out of the blue...Linda & Steve Webster from our home faire in NY! They had planned it and never let us know...just showed up :) What a fun surprise!

Harry shopped and ordered a ...........(drum roll...brrrrrrrrrrrrrr) a new pair of knee high boots...with silver buttons up the side.

Had a break and then used a short period of time to break down the tent and pack it in while it was daylight. Figured that after pubsing and goodbyes and settling up with all there that it would be dark. And it was by then. We just had to put away instruments and drive off and we are all "bugged out".

We had several magic moments:

Had "Miss Wisconsin of 1947" stop by to see us....she was sporting a lovely pink gown, princess hat with long veil...(and as Harry noted) ...pink army boots. :)

We were stopped by one of the gypsy dancers at the Manna Booth. She said emphatically, "I need to know something! You sang a song a few years ago to me and it's been stuck in my head. I LOVED it.It was about a bantam pony, it goes like this..." (and she hummed the melody of Witch of the Westmoreland)
Harry says, "Oh, that's a song we know! It's called "Witch of the Westmoreland", we are going to your booth right now...we'll play if for you!"
She literally jumped up and down and said "WOULD YOU???"

It was as if she levitated!!

So we went to the gypsy manna booth, settled in and sang for this beautiful girl and she listened intently and tears rolled down her eyes while we sang this lilting song for her. We were paid in grateful tears. It was indeed a great moment.

Then continued playing there and jamming with many musicians for quite some time!

Ran our "Garbaholics Anonymous Meeting and Fashion Show" here...a regular Sunday night event at all the faires we do...at our last show of the day! We enabled, supported and encouraged many rennies (and those in denial :) to keep being themselves!

Here are a few awesome Garbaholics:

Had something really special happen today too. Got stopped by the Faire Director who asked us to play the final song at the faire for the last night. Now, generally, Empty Hats plays this song (it's the director's favorite). Unfortunately, Empty Hats wasn't there this year.
It was an honor to be asked to step up and fill in for them....We asked anyone to come sing with us, including Looney Lucy....we also called up The Harper & Minstrel and also Will the Fiddler and anyone else that wanted to sing or play. And it came off really nice. It was nice to help out with it rather than the faire floundering and doing a different song rather than their regular one. Someone even posted on Face Book tonight after hearing the song for the very first time: "I don't know where the phrase, "Be prisoners of love till you lie in the sod"....but I'm tattooing it on my forehead. It means a lot to me with what's going on with me."

Which I thought was kewl, don't you?

We are packing up this morning....saying our goodbyes and heading back to the frozen north.

Everyone has been so good and sweet to us....we are truly blessed minstrels :)

Minstrel Tales from chilly Florida

We had a very nice jaunt over Alligator Alley and made our way to Coconut Creek over by Fort Lauderdale to Star and Mikal's house. They are friends of Jay & Abby and they had included us in their visit. We sat by their pool, ate, drank and were merry!

We left the following day, Harry and I said our goodbyes, and made our way back to the campsite to check out our tent. Glad we did! Evidently, while we were gone this week...it must've rained like a bastard. First off, we were greeted by a site manager who said to us, "be careful where you park back there that you don't get stuck!"

Oh goodie.

We drove back to our campsite and found our tent was now sitting in an ocean! And inside our tent was also.... another ocean! Harry took off his shoes and socks, rolled up his jeans and waded behind the tent and pulled tent stakes, while I emptied out the tent of chairs and table. THANK GOD we didn't have sleeping bags or fabric or clothes in there! There was at least 4 gallons of water INSIDE the tent.


So we set to work and over the next 1/2 hour, we dumped the "bucket o' tent" and drained it.
Then we aired it out, dried it.... and moved it out of the swampland (which WASN'T swampland when we left it there....)

We drove to Dre' and Max's and were met at the door by....(drumroll) their NEW DOGGY! They had some heartbreak earlier in the week, with the bad health news about their cat, Radar...and had to put him down. After a few days of grief, they decided to open their home and hearts again to a rescue dog, which they named "Willow".

We all had fun playing with the dog and had a pizza feast and partied with them and then stayed up too late for a "school night" (faire night) and went to bed at 11pm. I had a phone call out to Talon at home re: some info I needed at home....and he called when he got home from work (at midnight). I, of course had gone to bed at 11pm and fallen dead asleep. The phone call was welcome as we needed to hear from him and also get the info...but after hanging up the cell phone with him...I fell back asleep immediately...until the cell phone rang again at 1am. It was Ben Beavers. I was sort of groggy and incoherent. He asked, "Which one is your tent?" And I answered, "Yes, you can sleep there" :) and fell back to sleep.

That is to say, I slept between 2 hot flashes and some weird dreams.

In the morning, we drove into faire today and were greeted by the sight of an ambulance at the gate....then as we were traveling in, to find yet another ambulance inside blocking the way to our tent. A minor catastrophe...which they didn't transport for....

Ben was still asleep in our tent. He woke up and told us, "It was a bit DAMP."

I told him..."You should've seen it yesterday!"

The day was a great faire day, lots of music! Jammed at the Manna Booth, played with the Harpies, also Jay and Abby...where we worked out a tune all together for the pub sing...

It was a VERY breezy chilly day. Granted, it's no sub-zero weather like we have back home...but it's NOT balmy!
Saw Jim Greene/Emerys Fleet and he asked us, "WHY did we come down to Florida?? For this weather?" I said "I think I have as many layers on as I do at Dickens!"

Indeed, I had on tights, stripey socks, knickers, skirt, chemise, bodice, cloak and fingerless gloves. It was sooooo chilly that the faire decided to CLOSE before pubsing!

Unheard of at Sterling Faire. We've played in piss down pour rain and hail and sleet....

But, still, we jaded northerners (Merry Mischief and The Harper & The Minstrel) were indeed VERY glad tthat the call was made to go home a 1/2 hour early.

As we drove towards our home away from home for the evening...I felt my fingers finally getting warm...kinda like that hot feeling you get when you have frostbite....

signing off from the not so balmy Florida site...
Your Wandering Minstrel


The Tour has been named :)

Adventure Day

We set off for Busch Gardens and got there shortly after opening. It was a perfect day here in Tampa. Not too hot, not too windy, a lovely bit of sun, some clouds....just right.
 Harry and I were really interested in seeing the wildlife. Ravyn knows Busch Gardens like the back of her hand so we had a great team leader with us! While we had a map, we didn't have to look at it much. All we did was say what we wanted to do....then follow Ravyn!
 Busch Gardens is HUGE. It is 335 acres of landscaped vegetation and habitats alternating with rides and shops. Set in a lush tropical setting, the habitats were so complete and appropriate for the animals, you forgot that you were in the middle of a big city.Our first stop was Myombe Reserve to see the Chimpanzees and Gorillas.
The Chimpanzee exhibit was very informative and we spent a lot of time there. We were able to talk to one of the keepers for quite some time, asking one question after another. We asked about the social order of the troupe and all kinds of questions about their daily life and loves were answered.

They were trying to socialize a new pair of chimpanzees to the troupe. It was taking a year of naturalization and desensitizing to do so. The male was already accepted into the group by the male and the other females. The female was having a harder time getting admittance to the social order tho. She was being impeded by the alpha female, named "Patsy" who was older and ....had cataracts. (ahem) It seems that she is not able to see well enough to know that the new female is not a threat, so they had locked Patsy away for a bit. She was agressive and they were monitoring her behavior. She was well taken care of, but in the wild she wouldn't be able to keep up with the troupe. She was taking out her aging and blindness on the others. In particular, she wasn't accepting the new, "huggy" female. Her new behavior wasn't like the troupes familiar order.
It was all very interesting.
The cheerful, knowledgeable keeper went on....
"One of the females was outcast and was now hanging with the new female and they were bonding together very well. The staff was pleased.
 One female only wanted to be with the dominant male (it didn't matter who it was....just the dominant male...) One female didn't hang with the other females at all...but "liked the boys best", said the keeper.
The dominant male likes the company of the other male and they seem to be friends. We have more problems with the females getting along, than we do the males..." she said.

As I walked away, full of ape information I commented, "It seems that the psychological wild behavior of apes is not far from the psychological wild behavior of humans."
Harry nodded in agreement.

"I feel sorry for poor old Patsy. I understand her pain. We aren't far from our ape neighbors after all. .I guess I can really understand how the older, blind one would want to bitch slap the younger, huggy one"
I had to laugh. Harry did too

It was at about this time, I got a text from Dre' that their sweet kitty, Radar (whom we'd all petted on the weekend) had bad news at the vet. He had an inoperable tumor discovered at the vet (he'd been sick all weekend with it) and had to be put down. We were all so sad.
"Well, that makes 3" said Harry.
"You know, you are right" I said, as I remembered the horse and premature puppy deaths over the last weekend

"I have just figured out the name of the tour".I declared.

"It's the "Fire and Ice, Circle of Life Tour".which was said as I stood in Africa.

 This trip has had it's wild weather and wild ups and downs so far.
The fires of the faire,
 the ice of the trip on the way south,
 the deaths of the animals that touched us, the life of the those that lived..
 It seemed like the perfect title for our trip this year.
Things go round and round.
Life and Love go round and round too.
The Beginnings of some things are only the Endings of something else.
The Endings of some things are only the Beginnings of something else.

It fit.

From there we saw Alligators, Turtles, Tigers.

 We went on a short train ride to another part of the park and saw Giraffe (who have their babies standing up, BTW...that first step for new baby giraffe is a 6 foot drop...). We saw Rhinos, Ostrich, Zebra...all kinds of tropical animals from Africa right here on our continent!
The Elephants were brought into an area that had been "prepped" for them. The keepers bring them to this area once a day after having "hidden" all kinds of treats within the habitat. They hid grapes, melons, carrots, lettuce and pears all over this area. The elephants came out and found them all within minutes. They are so smart! Every day the keepers hide the treats in different places...and every day the elephants find them. It's like an Easter egg hunt for candy for them.

We went to see a "4-D" short movie. It starred Leslie Nielson (God rest his soul), Eric Idle and we settled down in our seats in the dark theatre with our 3-D glasses on. What a hoot! Evidently there were "special seats" with built in attachements which became apparent when as the movie went on. We were physically splashed with water, bees hummed and buzzed the seats, it felt like the bats on the screen were really in our hair and that crabs were crawling down our legs. We all squealed with delight! It was 15 minutes of FUN!

(Oh and one of the pirates looked like our friend, Jim Greene/Emerys Fleet. At one point the pirate yelled "Hey!" and I immediately had Emerys' shout out in my head, "Come 'mere! I want to show ya somethin!" :)
Too funny!

We watched wild rollercoasters fly overhead while we ate a phenomenal smokehouse BBQ dinner.

Licking our fingers, eating ribs, chicken BBQ and coleslaw and chatting seemed like the perfect accompaniment.
 Harry tried and tried to get a certain photo shot of the splash of the rollercoaster as it hit the water. We'd lie in wait for it to go by....just one more time....
 I asked a total stranger about his tattoos. "Can you tell me about your artwork?" He proceded to nearly strip off and show me his two arm sleeves complete with Angels, Zeus, Pirate ships and decorated with color and style. He was indeed proud and showed us his thighs (nearly thought he was going to drop his pants!) Then his wife joined us and he asked her to show us her "dragon". She too, lifted her shirt and pulled her waistband down to show us a Dragon that went from her hip bone up to her armpit.

Here's a tip. ALWAYS compliment people on their tattoos and ask to see their "ink". You see soooo much of perfect strangers this way and learn sooo much about them and their Life force :)

Speaking of Life Force....we next stopped by the Aviary.
I loved watching the birds. We went inside the netted aviary full of feathered delights! It was gorgeous and racous and wild as streaks of red feathers flew past our heads like a blur!

Toucans, snuzzling Spoonbills, striking Parrots, Chatty Lories! (yes, we thought of you Lorie :) How could we not, with a sign like this?? :)
 Our last stop was Australia where we saw Kangaroos and Wallaby's. We petted these strange and wonderful delightful animals. Did you know that a baby Joey..only 3/4 of an inch long....with no hair and totally blind...after it has just been born, has to travel the length of it's mommy's furry belly and find it's way into the pouch all by itself? Then it finds a teat and stays latched on for FOUR MONTHS. After which time, over the course of a year, only takes wee short trips in and out of the pouch?

What with all we've been through and learned today and the past week,

 Yah, I'd say, "Fire & Ice: Circle of Life" name for the tour is just about right.