Well then. Whew. I just had an *adventure* in the autumn hills of Virginia. I'd like to tell ya'll about it, but before I start, I feel the need to say a few things:
A great deal of this trip (and every trip) was spent marvelling at how lucky I am to get to spend time with kindred writerly spirits in a beautiful setting. Life could be different. Life could be, and has sometimes been, much harder than it is now. News headlines and letters from loved ones remind me constantly how fragile all of human experience is, and how troubled so many lives are. Sometimes I feel like I shouldn't run off on adventures when this is true. Fear and sadness do their heavy work on me.
And yet, I'm blessed with opportunities, many of which originate from the good people I know and love. I know that to sit these out, and miss these connections, because of the horrors of the world isn't the thing. The thing is to try to live well and wisely. To try to help when I can and do less harm when I can't. To try and make stories that might matter in some small way. At least, that's what I've come to believe in the past couple of years since I left teaching. It isn't always easy to convince myself that it's okay to frolic in the Virginia Hills, and sometimes, frankly, it just isn't. Luckily, this time, Darian, Lola, and I picked up our feet and went for it. I'm glad we went. I'm grateful.
The plan was to spend some quality time with our dear friend and esteemed YA novelist, Tiffany Trent, who makes her home in VA. (If you haven't read her steampunk novels, I *highly* recommend them, and not just because I like her as a person.) We flew in to DC and immediately began missing Ysabeau Wilce who, alas, wasn't able to join us this time. We rented a vehicle and drove to Lexington that first night and really, all I have to say is Hamilton the musical. Perhaps you didn't hear me: HAMILTON. We listened to this soundtrack while driving through the green and golden Virginia Hills. (If you don't know what I'm talking about, stop reading this and go listen to it. It's so freaking good.)
The next day we breakfasted in our surprisingly historical inn ...
...and then enjoyed some browsing and artsy coffee in the adorable town of Lexington.
It was such a pretty place and I was commenting that I would happily go back when... we saw our first confederate flag. Sigh. So much to say about that topic, but, well, I was disappointed and angry just about every time I saw it on our trip. Which was often.
We left Lexington and made our way through several towns until we arrived at a beautiful farmhouse about an hour outside of Roanoke.
The property included a lovely little fish pond and over 100 acres of forest.
We spent the next few days writing,
and staying up far too late. It was divine, even though Darian and Lola were both suffering from nasty head colds. That didn't stop them from fulfilling a few warboy fantasies from Mad Max: Fury Road:
And then there was the time we drove down to Roanoke to see a beautiful and wicked mythic art show by artist, Anita Allen:
With a variety of sculptures made of organic and synthetic materials fused and woven together, Allen's show explored those borderlands where biology meets imagination. I found it fascinating.
Anita and her partner, Mike Allen, are both well known and loved in the fantasy literature world. I'm honored to report that I recently sold one of my poems to Mike for an upcoming issue of Mythic Delirium Magazine. Seeing them both again was lovely, and now I have a picture with my first editor.
And then there was the time that Darian and I tried to go for a hike in the forests around the farm...
... and ended up fording a mudslide. This was scary, icky business and, though we laughed a lot, I don't recommend it.
Unless you happen to be one of these two:
Oh yes, and let's please not forget the time that Tiffany took us to the Friday Night Jamboree in Floyd! There was flatfoot dancing (!!),
and singing 'bout Satan's Jewel Crown (!!),
...and abundant joy and merriment. I loved it and hope I get the chance to go back some day.
We also had the chance to meet Tiffany's wonderful family.
Her daughter, known on the internets as Doomlet, is pure joy. Her daddy was kind enough to take us fishing at the pond and Doomlet caught two beautiful bass (and got to hold a couple salamanders too).
Doomlet and I both had owl socks. One of many reasons I'm glad I met her.
There was plenty more. There were bad movies and frightful readings and pumpkin pancakes and there might have been peach moonshine and lampshade dancing. There was definitely hot buttered rum by the fire.
Then it was time to go home, back through the misty hills to DC, and across the grey skies to Seattle.
It was such a good trip. Thank you Tiffany, Ysa, Darian, Lola, Mike, Anita, the owners of our VRBO, and especially all our families for making it possible.
I'm going to to leave you with this short video of the falling oak leaves outside our house (if it works). I sat under these leaves and wrote for several hours on our first full day and, of all our adventures, that one might have been my favorite.
As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Much love to each and all.