so here’s the plan…

Remember those pesky details I mentioned in the last post? Well, it seems that details spawn faster than the Easter bunny’s slutty cousins in the spring.  Cause boy oh boy is it going to be a crazy summer for me.  Wanna hear all the details so far?

Well you better, cause I want to tell you! If you don’t I guess you could just stop reading. Go away!

Still here? Awesome.

So.

Right now I am in Waxahachie, Texas.  I got here about a week and a half ago after a hastily, though skillfully, completed pack down in Arizona.  Here, I quickly moved into the super wonderful booth I am renting for the season and prepared for opening weekend of Scarborough Faire.  I do love the booth. I’m rather proud of it, honestly.  The clothing racks are curvy branches and really give the shop an organic flow.  And I put them up myself. With a power drill!  The skirts look colorful and wonderful hanging on them. Roxanne and I have had a great time playing fairy, and I have every confidence that she will be awesome when I have to drive away and leave her in charge of things.

Look at my racks!
Look at my racks!
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Aeri Rose, Scarborough 2014

So when am I driving away and leaving her in charge of things? In two days. Aah!!

On Sunday afternoon I will climb back in to Shelly the Sportvan, who is currently full of everything I’ll need to set up a booth at the Virginia Renaissance Festival and all of the things I hopefully will not need when I return to Scarborough at the end of this mad adventure.

After I climb into Shelly and turn her on I will proceed to drive from Waxahachie, TX to Denton, MD- approximately 1500 miles and/or 22 hours of straight driving.  I will need to do that drive within 48 hours in order to catch a flight to Italy from Dulles Airport by 11:00 pm Tuesday night.  I am hoping to do it in about 30 hours, leaving me “plenty” of time to catch up on necessary things like renewing my business license and/or sleeping.

So I climb on the airplane and delight in the ability to sleep, or read, or do anything other than pay attention to where I am going.  Ten hours and fifteen minutes later I land in Istanbul, Turkey where I will probably try to go explore  the city for a bit if they will let me out of the airport. I have a heinous 24 hour lay over after all.  I am certainly not spending all that time staring at other bleary-eyed travelers near Gate B30 of the Ataturk International Airport.

Anyway. So flight to Turkey. Mini Turkish Adventure. Short flight from Istanbul to Rome. Hopefully manageable navigation of customs, etc. Catch commuter train from Airport to Termini Station. Catch 10:30 pm train from Rome to Cefalu, Sicily. Enjoy train ride down Italian coast and Train ON A FERRY ride across the bit of water separating Sicily and Italy.  Get to Cefalu. Get picked up by family in Cefalu.  Yay family!

Operation: Crazy Family in Sicily Adventure begins. Yippie!

Operation: Crazy Family in Sicily Adventure ends. Boo!

Return to Annapolis again via heinous Istanbul layover. Return the evening of May 1st.  Sleep, or something.

May 2nd I drive out to the Virginia Faire Site near Lake Anna and meet up with Team Wonder-Fairy to set up our booth.

After that it starts to slow down. I just have a wedding on the west coast to catch, and to get back to Scarborough for the end of the faire. And then get back to Virginia. Somehow. Even though I’m probably leaving Shelly with the Wonder-Fairies to use as a safe and dry storage spot. And then there are some more shows and festivals along the east coast I might do. Or maybe I’ll be running out to help in Colorado.  Or maybe back to Italy with my sister.

Who knows!

I’ll be somewhere on the planet. That’s good enough for me!

Bring it on summer! I have caffeine and glitter! I’m not afraid of you!

Wonder-Fairies Unite!
Wonder-Fairies Unite!

 

Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates, mishaps, adventures, and mushrooms! Mushrooms? Sure, why not?

 

With Love,

~Aeri

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moccasisters unite

My goodness has it been a crazy couple of weeks, and the craziness just does not show signs of stopping. So here it is, the grand update on what has happened and what (theoretically planned as of now) will happen for the rest of the summer and into the fall.  When you can’t remember where I am…just refer to this here post and you might get a bit of a hint.
So, what has happened?  Things were cruising along fine ready for a standard rennie summer as of about two weeks ago.  Then my dear friend (she’s like a second mother) and owner of Medieval Moccasins was told that she had a pancreatic tumor.  We are still waiting to hear just how serious the treatment will be, but regardless, the news drastically and instantly changed the mood and plans for the whole Medieval Moccasins Clan (that means me too).
We decided that Chela, the daughter and partner owner of Medieval Moccasins, would stay home in Texas for the summer rather than take to the road on their summer show schedule so that a) she could be close to her mom and b) she could continue to keep up with production in their home workshop. I would fill Chela’s shoes for the summer, taking the stock and supplies on the road.
So I flew to Texas to pick up their Sprinter van full of shoes and foot stools and tenty things and took to the road, mostly excited to have three days to do the journey I had only recently completed in 24 hrs in the mad dash to get my own van and stuff up to Virginia in time for THAT show.  The first day of travel was long but uneventful.  I realized I would be passing through Memphis, TN around lunchtime the next day and made plans with a childhood friend to meet for lunch.
I never made it to lunch.
About 20 miles outside of Memphis (Arkansas side) the Sprinter made a sudden clunk, and lost all power and acceleration. I managed to coast off the nearest exit and into an Exxon parking lot.  The Sprincess would not turn back on.  The usual AAA call and wait followed.  I was towed to a nearby Dodge dealership that has been wonderfully helpful in this whole situation.  They rushed the sprinter to the front of the line and began diagnosing it.  Basically what happened was the dealership in Texas where the sprinter had recently (like a week ago) been taken for a new transmission just didn’t put the transmission in right.  So it fell out. And cracked nearly everything in the engine bay around it while it did so.  We are STILL not sure when it will be fixed- at least a week from now they estimate.
So that left me stranded in Memphis with no vehicle, all the stock, and a show to get to by Saturday morning.  One rented and loaded UHaul cargo van later and I was back on the road…only 24 hours behind schedule.  So much for my leisurely drive north.  I now had to make yet another mad dash through the night to get to Celtic Fling early enough on Friday to set up before the Friday night concert started.  I drove from 4:00 pm Thursday until 2:00 am, slept until dawn sprawled across the front bucket seats and my backpack, and then kept driving until 2:00 pm Friday with barely a pause to refuel on gasoline and coffee.  But I made it! And with my Wonder Twin Janeen we were set up in a record breaking 2.5 hours. Before Dark!
We went on to have a record breaking weekend, beating the previous top year by almost 20%. Thank goodness!  We tore down Sunday night, ahead of the threatening thunderstorms and crawled back to the hotel for the night.  I’ve accepted my +1 in Logistics Management and +3 in Crisis Management, and am reveling in my new level up to Super Gypsy status.
Now I am home in Annapolis for a few days, and we think that this is the plan moving forward:
I’m going to keep the Uhaul through the weekend to get up to Connecticut and set up there.  By next week the Sprinter should (oh please!) be repaired and ready to be picked up. Also by next week my own van should be road worthy again (after getting back to Maryland from Texas I had to bring it in for a Maryland inspection and have the subsequent necessary repairs done. I also had to clear up a little bureaucratic nonsense surrounding the title and that should be resolved by the end of this week I hope.  But of course it had to be problematic NOW).
I’ll drive down from CT with the Uhaul and meet the Texas driver in MD.  I’ll send them on their way with Ace as a traveling companion.  Ace, my husky, will be spending a much less chaotic summer with the Med Mocs Clan in Texas and I will met him there in the fall.  The Uhaul will be returned to Memphis and the Sprinter picked up and taken back to Texas.
I will go back to CT (we are talking July 5th-ish by this point) for the last weekend there, now loaded into my Van.  From Connecticut I’ll go to Sterling in Upstate NY for one weekend before heading west to Pennsylvania again for Pennsic War.  After two weeks of Pennsic War I say good bye to my responsibility over the moccasin stock.  It will head to Maryland to await the opening of the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Meanwhile I will go back to complete the Sterling Faire in NY as a manager for Myles Tonne Leather (Clothing this time).
I will make it back to Maryland just in time for that show where I’ll be working for Unicorn Clothing.  Maryland is open from the end of August until the end of October.   When it is over I’ll pack up the rest of my life possessions, reload the moccasin stock into my van, and make the trek back to Texas. I’ll return the shoes and camp out in Toon Town while I work at the Texas Renaissance Festival until the first week of December.
This winter I will be staying in Texas with the Moccasin Clan in San Marcos.  There is little point in driving back to MD after all that when I have to be in Arizona by the first week of February anyway.
So yeah. That’s where I’ve been and where I’ll be going for the rest of the year.  It is crazy, I know, but baring any more exploding transmissions it should all work out.
That does mean though that I’ve decided to sell my second car, the cute little BMW I picked up about a year ago.  It is a 1984 318i: 2 door, dark blue, sun roof, manual transmission (kind of persnickety though I’ll be honest).  I bought it for $1500 and haven’t put any work into her.  KBB puts her at $1900 even in the state she’s in, but I’d just like to get the $1500 back, or close to it. There’s just no point in keeping her if I never ever get to drive her.  If you are interested or know anyone who is…please send them my way!
Now, I’m going to go take a nap. I think I deserve one.
Much Love,
Aeri

we’ve already found OZ thanks, no need for the twisters

I realize that in the Spark(ly) Notes I mentioned a Tornado Story, a story which I completely overlooked in the detailed tales that followed. Texas and I have a history of fascinating storm encounters, a collection of memories that seems to be growing by the week.  So, having just battened down for yet another round of thunderheads on the way, I feel now is a perfect time to spin some yarns.

I suppose I had my first Great Texan Storm Experience two years ago when I was working for Medieval Moccasins.  It was the middle of the night, as tends to be the case, and all was quiet in the Moccasin Booth.  The storm began to pick up.  Winds roared and rain poured.  Hail could be heard pounding on the building’s wooden walls.  I huddled in the kitchen beneath the staircase with Chela, Klaus, and their dog Cisco and we discussed our options.  What if a tornado did come through the site? Where should we go? Stay here beneath the wooden stairs, the sturdiest part of our little structure? Make a dash to the bridges and hunker down in the ravine beneath? Bring a mattress to hide beneath for protection from falling limbs and flying shrapnel? Leave the mattress and favor speed and mobility?

Suddenly Chela’s face went white.  “What?” I asked nervously, prompting her to reveal her thoughts.  “We are next to a sword booth. A Damascus Steel Sword Booth! Have you seen their demonstrations?! What if those swords and knives get sucked up into the tornado? They will wreak havoc. And we will be chopped sushi.”

Perhaps beneath the staircase was not the best place after all.

But luckily we didn’t need to test our theories because the storm eventually passed us by, and though twisters did touchdown in the towns around us, all was safe and sound in Rennieland that evening.

Later that season, however, we were not so lucky and a tornado DID touch down on site. In the campground actually, and there were a few crushed trailers and cars from falling trees, though thankfully no people were hurt.  I wish I could tell you more about my first true tornado experience, but sadly I can’t. Why not? Because I slept through it!

Yup. I must sheepishly admit that when Klaus ran in to wake Chela and I up it happened so quickly that my sleep fogged mind convinced myself that it was all a dream and they were still sleeping quietly in their rooms.  So I rolled over and did the same.  Oops. And Darn, because reports from Chela the next day were stunning.  The air pressure was so strange and warped during the time of the storm that the shops curtains- heavy canvas weighted with wooden dowels- were floating eerily in the air.  Straight out from the roof as if gravity was inconsequential.

After that basically missed experience I was on the lookout. I wouldn’t be missing any more storms if I could help it.  And a year later I had my chance.  It was late January, and I was driving to Arizona with a friend.  We were just passing through Texas, driving in the dead of night, racing the white lines towards our goal.  And then, passing through Amarillo, we hit The Storm.  It was wet and raging.  Rain poured so thick we couldn’t see anything and had to pull over.  Winds roared.  It was epic. And then it passed.  The watery part anyway.  Following on the heels of the thunderstorm was the most epic light show we had ever seen. Lightning ripped so fast and so often that the air smelled like acrid electricity and the sky lit up as bright as day.  We drove a bit farther down the highway and found an overpass to tuck underneath just to watch the show.  And there we sat in my blue Jeep, Alice, listening to techno house music and watching the lightshow in front of us.  I tried to take a video, a pitiful camera phone video, to record the wonder and if you’d like you can see The First Lightning Video here.  I had never seen anything like that lightning storm, and I haven’t since.

Though the storm last week is certainly a close second.  Last week was my first battle with the elements while camping.  My tarpentry skills seemed to suffice for all the previous heavy rains and thunderstorms we’d had this season, so I was feeling fairly confident in my house; a feeling I hoped would not reveal itself to be hubris by the end of the evening.  We began the night celebrating a friend’s birthday and playing some silly games in a tent, listening to the rains come and pitter patter on their roof.  I was happy that I was visiting with friends that evening because I had no idea what the weather channel was threatening.  Suddenly and simultaneously a “bring” and a “chirp chirp” rang out.  Several rennie’s weather warning apps were ringing out warnings. Tornado warnings. For our county.  On closer inspection of the report itself we realized that we were very nearly the exact center of the danger zone.  Yikes! We had some time, the warnings said, until the real danger was upon us, and so we took that opportunity to prepare and plan, happy to use the time wisely.  Boots were donned.

I scampered across site to check on my booth tent, my pile of stock, and the Moccasin Booth. I made sure they were as battened down as they could be.  I checked my tent’s guidelines, and threw some extra storm lines over the tarped-over tuppers.  Once back with Team Tornado Survival (as I’ll henceforth be calling the group) we discussed options. Stay here? Go somewhere? Where to go? We decided to go to the flushies, the site bathrooms: solid cement buildings with electricity and barn doors that could close.  And so Team Tornado Survival engaged Operation Bathroom Party.  It was actually quite a fun time. We brought a laptop and watched cartoons, intermittently taking breaks to dance in the rain, check out the lightshow, and check-in with the local weather station for updates.  This lightshow was pretty epic and of another new variety.  I saw flashes of yellow, pink, and blue in the sky.  And lightning with layers of rainbows and eerily lingering brightness.  I had never seen pink or blue lightning before. I tried to take Another Lightning Video and again, justice is just not done.

After the last strong storm passed over us, we gratefully decided that Operation Bathroom Party was a success, a success in that the tornados passed us by.  Taking advantage of a lull in the storms we scampered home to bed.

This morning I passed through Ennis, a town just to the south of Waxahachie (where the faire is), on my way to the mechanics.  Ennis was not as luck as we had been the week before.  Their downtown square was completely closed off, yet damages were apparent everywhere.  Chains had lost their signs, buildings lost their roofs.

I thought about my extra storm lines and I laughed. With storms like these, you are either lucky or you aren’t.  Either the storm passes you by, and all you really need is enough protection to keep out the rain; or the storm chooses you and then shit is fucked. And there is no really delicate way to put it.  One extra 45 lb rated rope is not going to do much of anything at all in the face of a storm that can rip bricks right out of walls and knock down massive “seen from the highway” signs.  That rope is like going deep sea fishing with dental floss.

And yet when I heard that heavy storms threatened again tonight I scampered over to the booth, tied up my floss, and tacked down the Moccasin Booth’s cloth curtains. Personal comfort more than anything else I think.

And now with the winds getting louder and the pattering of rains just beginning, I think it is time to sign off for the night and rejoin Team Tornado Survival.  Hopefully Operation Bathroom Party Version 2.0 is not necessary tonight, but if it is- wish us luck.

And if anyone has an in with the Universe, can you let her know that we’ve already found OZ here and that delivery tornado is no longer necessary. Call off the twisters please and thank you!

Hold on to your hats!

Aeri

Spark(ly) Notes: Aeri Rose in 2013

My goodness it has been a while since my last post! Almost four months, two states, and two shows since my last post in fact.  Being the lead fairy of a costume boutique is hard work!

But so much has happened! I will try to catch you up.  First, the Spark(ly) Notes:

– Adopted by Ace

– Drove to Arizona and opened the Arizona Renaissance Festival

– Was accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival

– Sold Alice

– Drove to Texas and opened Scarborough Faire

-Schmooze with Travel Chanel Team

– Road trip to New Orleans

– Bought a Van

– Was accepted to vend at the Virginia Renaissance Festival

– Survived exploding fertilizer plants and rouge Tornados

I think that’s all. That’s enough right? I’m sure some of those sparkly notes have you saying “excuse me what?!”  and I promise they are all as silly and exciting as they sound.

So to begin, at the beginning, which is often a good place to start.  Except when the end seems like a good place to start. So long as working backwards is an alright thing for you to do. But I digress.

In January I arrived in Santa Barbara and spent two weeks with Teri Evans, owner of Unicorn Clothing, in her workshop. While there I learned that Ace needed a home. Ace was a six month old Siberian Husky that was adopted by Teri’s neighbors as a puppy.  Only after adopting him did they learn that their landlord did not allow dogs.  Not the  best order of things to be sure.  So poor Ace was faced with a tough decision: the pound, or me,  He chose me! And so two weeks later, into the Jeep he climbed, and away to Arizona we did go.

Ace is the beast up front. Lucy, my Dad's little lady, is in the back.
Ace is the beast up front. Lucy, my Dad’s little lady, is in the back.

In Arizona we had the exciting task of opening a new booth for Unicorn Clothing.  And I got the exciting information that Reincarnation Outfitters had been accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, in Texas in April and May.  And I sold Alice, my Jeep Cherokee, to my good friends Alex and Stephanie.  With not a few tears I said good bye to my loyal road companion and went from “Has It Together Hippie” to “Irresponsible Road Rennie”.  On the road, with a large dog and a business’s supply of inventory and no way of transporting it.  Yikes!

Operation: [Learn how to] Ask For Help was in full effect.  And I have to say it was a good lesson for me.  After spending the full run of Arizona steadily sewing skirts, making tutus, and preparing for the show; it was finally time to hit the road to Texas as the grateful passengers to Repo and Shadow.  Ace was an AMAZING road dog, incredibly patient and calm for the 20 hour road trip ahead of us.  Repo and Shadow were entertaining travel company and Repo’s van did a decent job of getting us to our destination.  It willingly humored our midnight departure and my through the night shift as driver.  It patiently weathered the hail and freezing rain that met us over the Texas border.  And it finally gave up with a cough when we cracked a radiator hose.  Luckily Shadow and some gaffing tape came to the rescue.

Pulling onto site the next morning, I was instantly faced with the next adventure: Set Up Camp.  Yes, I would be CAMPING at the show this year. I hadn’t had to CAMP at a festival since 2009 and I was feeling very uncertain of my memory and skills regarding such an activity.  Could I still put up a decent shade/weather tarp? What about platforms. What about lights? God I didn’t even have a KNIFE with me. How unprepared could I be?

But again, thanks to the success of Operation: Ask For Help and the local Wallyworld I soon had a cozy camp established.  And I have to say, after countless storms, and tornado threats (keep reading!) I am pretty damn proud of my Tarpentry skills.  Not a single unwanted drop has entered my tent.  Well, maybe five unwanted drops found coming through a hole in the tarp; a hole quickly defeated by a sliding a trash bag in between the tarp and the tent’s rain fly.

"Abstract Roofentry"
“Abstract Roofentry”

Cold nights forced me to warily grant Ace tent privileges, an honor he me with surprisingly good behavior.  What a cuddle butt he is.   But I knew the cool days and cold nights would not last.  Soon the Texas heat would descend: 90 degree days with 90% humidity and no where to hide from it.  But luckily I had a plan.

Ale, my adventurous step-mom, was going to be meeting me in New Orleans after the second weekend of the show to deliver the inventory I had stored in Maryland.  She took Ace home with  her to spend time as a house dog, complete with a yard to run in and air condition to hide in.  New Orleans was New Orleans.  Repo, loyal road dog himself, came with me for the adventure and a chance to see The Big Easy for himself.  New Orleans is great. Every time I go I tell myself, “Self. You need to live here one day. You really do.”

This time was no different. We three wandered the city by night, exploring streets with music pouring out of dodgy bars and lit by real gas lights on the corners.  In the morning we ate beignets and drank chicory root coffee and hit the road home by the afternoon.  I got to introduce another road connoisseur to some of my favorite roads in the country: the beauty of I-10 as it spans the swamps outside of the city.

First Faire Booth!
First Faire Booth!

Back in Texas things seemed to settle down. Sort of.  Each weekend was a whirlwind of tutus, and hula hoops.  Each week was filled with tutu production, dance parties and concerts, and other standard Scarborough Fare.  Pun intended. The highlight of the season was again the Naughty Clown Party. The Naughty Clown is an annual show hosted by the resident clowns.  It began as a chance for the clowns to get out some of the naughty jokes they just can’t use on the kiddies during the weekend.  It has since grown into the most stunning display of talent on the circuit.  Performers and those who don’t perform professional but sure as hell could if they wanted to put on acts of such beauty and skill that it makes you cry out of joy and love and respect for our amazing community.  Those of us in the audience are just as enthusiastic, dressing to the nines- or the sixty-nines as the case may be- in our best naughty clown attire.  This year I wore a rainbow.  That’s what it felt like anyway, an accurate description do you think?

20130514_210751
Dudes in Drag: Another Naughty Clown Tradition!
Dress like you love yourself!
Dress like you love yourself!

One weekend the Travel Channel was on site filming for a new show about fan culture. The renaissance festivals, with their playtrons, comicon fans, and authentic hobbits, was a wealth of footage I am sure.  And of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL!   I couldn’t leave my booth to find them, sadly, so I planned- and pounced! I sent a flower with a message something along the lines of this: “No festival experience is complete without feeling the excited delight of being told you’ve been sent a flower. But there is no blushing admirer at the other end of this bloom. Only an enterprising fairy who hopes you’ll stop by her booth to hear some tales of travel and adventure, glitter and angels.” I sent it with the flower girl with instructions to give the flower and the not to “the most important looking crew guy”, and it worked! The next morning someone came by and we  chatted and I told him about this here blog and gave him my card and I hope hope HOPE that someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL is reading this blog! What do you think? Would you watch a show about a backpacking fairy? Wouldya?

Whew!

Somewhere in all that merriment I managed to find my new road vehicle.  A 1994 Chevrolet Sportvan…the kind of van that the Mystery Machine was drawn to resemble.  I am going to paint the sh*t out of that van! No white space will be left unadorned.  The Era of the Van has begun.  I LOVE IT! Lets just hope she is as loyal as Alice was.  Her first big test is coming up in less than two weeks when we make another mad dash north.  I’ll have four days to tear down in Texas, drive north, and set up in Virginia.  Wahoo!! Coffee please!

The new Van. Name still Needed!
The new Van. Name still Needed!

And there you have it.  An update on the life of Aeri the Traveling Fairy.  I promise I’ll try to keep on top of it this spring!

Much Love! I’ll be back soon!

Aeri

carpe diem tabbycat

I recently spent some time driving from Maryland to California- via Memphis, San Marcos, and the Grand Canyon.  And I could prattle on at great length about the endlessness of the drive, the joy at seeing my oldest friend get married, the excitement of visiting with good friends, and the overwhelming sense of awe elicited by the epic wonder of the Canyon.  But instead, I would like to share a new story with you.  This story came to me over the course of several long late night drives west.  I’m not sure why it came to me.  But it did. And I rather like it, so here it is.  I hope you enjoy it! Please tell me if you do!

“Carpe Diem Tabbycat” by Aeri Rose

This was the third day she had to spend with her four siblings in this brown cardboard box.  The box had a dirty green towel in the bottom and a red plastic bowl with water that her sister kept stepping in and knocking over.  The box sat in a small square grassy yard next to a cement sidewalk and if she had been able to see the outside of the box she would have see the words “Kittens 4 Sale! $20, $10, FREE to a good home!” written with a thick black marker.

She was just contemplating whether she would be able to reach the edge of the box and climb out if she stood on top of her sleeping brother’s head, when suddenly she heard a great rumbling roar and a little yellow car stopped in front of the box.  Out hopped a teenage girl with wild blonde curly hair.  “Look at the kittens!” she squealed to her friend, another teenage girl- this one with black hair and glasses.  “They’re free! Omigosh we have to get one!”

“Carolyn, do you really think your mom will let you have one?” asked the dark haired girl very practically. By this time Carolyn was leaning over the brown cardboard box, petting each mewing kitten in turn.  “My 18th birthday is next weekend; call it a birthday present to myself” she said.

“I like this one.” The little kitten felt herself being scooped up in the young girl’s hands and found herself eye to eye with the curly haired girl. She swatted experimentally at one particularly bouncy curl and the girl giggled.  “Look at those booties! She’s so high fashion.” The kitten considered her paws.  They were a molted dark brown, much darker than the rest of her pale tan fur.

“Do you like her? Take her!” shouted a plump lady from the door of the house which the yard was in front of. “My landlord barely tolerates Cinnamon, the mother.  I really need to find homes for her kittens quickly! Would you like one too?” the plump lady directed that last question at the dark haired girl as she walked over.

“Yeah Sarah! Get one!” encouraged Carolyn.  “Oh I don’t know. I’d have to ask my parents.” Sarah said meekly.  “Well, I’m taking this one.” Carolyn said decisively, tucking the kitten into the crook of her arm like a football.

“Wonderful! She’s yours.  I guess I should take these guys in now. It’s getting kind of warm out here.” Said the plump lady.  She picked up the brown cardboard box, now with only four mewling kittens, and went inside.  Carolyn and Sarah got back into the little yellow car, and the kitten was handed to Sarah to hold while Carolyn drove.  Sarah pet the kitten gently.  She was much more delicate than the excited Carolyn had been.

“What will you call her?” Sarah asked. Carolyn thought for a moment.  “Carpe Diem!” she finally declared.  “Seize the day!” the girls giggled.  The kitten had fallen asleep in Sarah’s lap.  “She’ll seize the day a little bit later.”

Carpe Diem loved her new home.  She had a big purple pillow with gold tassels on each corner which she used for her mid morning, afternoon, and early evening naps.  Each morning Carolyn would feed her a different tasty food in a blue porcelain bowl with white flowers painted on the outside. Then Carolyn would leave.  “Seize the day you lazy cat!” she would tell Carpe Diem.  Carpe Diem would yawn and curl up on her pillow to nap.

Every evening Carolyn would come home and sit at her white wicker desk.  Carpe Diem would sit on top of the desk and listen while Carolyn told her about all the wonderful things she had done that day.  Then she would go to bed and Carpe Diem would curl up on the pillow next to her head.

But sometimes, before Carolyn would sit at her desk, she would shout with her parents. One evening, after a particularly long and loud shout Carolyn sat down at her desk in a huff.  “I don’t want to go to college yet!” she complained to Carpe Diem.  “I don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life! Why do I need to decide now? What on earth will I study? There is so much to do and see in the world first! I don’t want to study hard just to get stuck doing a job that I might hate. I’m being responsible about this! Why don’t they understand that?”

Carpe Diem wasn’t quite sure what Carolyn was talking about.  She was sure it had something to do with the motto after which she had been named.  That was Carolyn’s favorite topic, and activity, after all.  Then, with her signature decisive huff, Carolyn opened her closet door and rummaged around in the back of it.  She came out with her red canvas duffle bag, which she threw on her bed.  It was followed by jeans, a leather jacket, and a few choice t-shirts that Carpe Diem often saw her wearing.  One said “The Clash”, and another said “get lost” with a broken compass in place of the “o”.

Lastly she rolled up a blanket and stuffed it along with a pillow into a pillow case and tied the whole thing to the duffle bag with a long black ribbon.  Then she picked Carpe Diem up off of the desk and held her up at eye level again.  “Carpe Diem, I have to go.” She stated firmly. “There are too many things I want to see in this world to just settle down.  But don’t worry.  I’ll come back for you soon and we can go on adventures together.  Be good while I’m gone.”

And then she left.  And she didn’t come back.  Carpe Diem was confused and a little sad.  For the next few days she heard a lot of shouting.  The parents held the white plastic thing with the long cord that hung on the wall and that she sometimes liked to play with, and said things like “Where are you?” and “Come home this instant!” There was no one to sit with Carpe Diem in the evenings and tell her about their day.  Often the parents forgot about breakfast, or when they did remember, they shut the bedroom door when they left and Carpe Diem was trapped, bored, and alone in Carolyn’s bedroom all day.

One day, a no-breakfast-door-shut day, Carpe Diem was sitting on her nice purple pillow and feeling very hungry and bored when she heard her name in the shouts.  “What about that cat, Carpe Diem?” The Mother yelled, at the white plastic thing with the cord, Carpe Diem assumed.  “That cat you had to keep.  You just left her here! She is out of food.  Do you expect us to buy more? That isn’t being very responsible now is it?” There was a pause. “No. No, Carolyn.  If you want to be an adult, you must deal with adult consequences.  You can come home, and take care of your cat, now, or we will take her to the pound.”  The pound? What is the pound? Carpe Diem wondered.  She hated the vet. She hoped it was not something like that.  There was more shouting, and then silence.

Carpe Diem heard The Mother coming down the hall.  But instead of breakfast, Carpe Diem was very roughly picked up and dumped into a cardboard box.  I remember these.  Not another one of these! Carpe Diem fought to get out, but the box was closed tightly.  She felt a lot of moving, heard the roar of a car, and finally a metallic clunk as the box was set onto a cold metal table.  Then the lid was removed, and Carpe Diem escaped with a bound.  But she was not in Carolyn’s bedroom.  She was not at the vet’s either.

Where was she? The Mother was nowhere in sight.  She had not made it very far with her escape.  An old man with a grey beard and calloused hands had caught her.  “Woah girl! That’s ok.  Shhh.  Welcome to Pet Haven. You’re a pretty thing, aren’t you?  I’m sure we’ll find you a new home very quickly.”  He looked her over quickly and made notes on a white sheet.

“Carpe Diem. Female. 15 months old. Has all shots. Healthy.  Reason for being here? Why are you here, sweetheart? That woman just dropped you off and left in a huff.  We’ll say ‘family moving.’ How’s that? That’s usually a good one for getting adopted.  Lets the new pet owners know it wasn’t the pet’s fault. Not that it ever is really” he continued to mutter to himself.

Then he walked Carpe Diem down a long beige hallway, past a loud room full of barking dogs, and into a smaller room full of crates and cages, each with a small animal inside. The man placed Carpe Diem inside a black metal cage with a lumpy brown blanket and an ugly grey plastic water bowl.  She didn’t want to go in there! She wanted to be back in Carolyn’s room! She wanted her purple pillow with gold tassels and her blue porcelain food bowl!

But into the cage she went.  And there she stayed for days and days.  Sometimes the grey haired man, “call me George” he said, would come and take her out of the cage.  They would sit on a blue metal chair and he would pet her head and talk.

“Carpe Diem. That’s a pretty interesting name for a cat” he said one day. “Do you know where it came from?” No. Thought Carpe Diem with disinterest.  “It is a very old saying.  It was penned by a Roman poet over two thousand years ago in a poem called ‘Odes’. His name was Horatius Flaccus, but his friends called him Horace.  Carpe Diem means ‘seize the day’ in English.”  At that Carpe Diem’s tail twitched.  That was what Carolyn always said to her.  George noticed her agitation.  “Oh, you’ve heard that before have you?” he asked kindly.  “Well, did you know that there was more to it in the poem? The full line is ‘carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero,’ but few people know that, and besides that is much too long a name for a cat.” George laughed to himself.  “The rest of the line means ‘put no trust in the future’.” George thought for a moment.

“Seize the day, put no trust in the future.  What do you think he meant by that? Hmm?” he asked the cat.  You should spend more time on your purple pillow.  She thought.  Because without warning your curly haired girl might leave, and The Mother might take you here; and then you will have only a cage with a lumpy brown blanket, and an old man named George for company. “I think he means we should find things to enjoy every day and make the most of our time because our time on Earth is short.  We should find things that make us happy every day, because the next day everything can change.”

George stood up, and Carpe Diem sighed.  She knew it was time to go back into her black metal crate.  “You think on that, kitty-cat.” He said with a final pat on the head. “I’ll see you tomorrow, I think.” he said with a wink.

The next day came, and Carpe Diem did see George.  He came in the afternoon, and he brought two people with him.  One person was a man with shaggy brown hair and brown eyes that looked a little sad, but there were lines around his eyes that said he liked to smile.  Nice enough Carpe Diem thought.  The man carried the other person, a very small girl with messy brown hair, tired brown eyes, and a limp and dingy yellow blanket.  Her blanket is even more worn than this one thought Carpe Diem.  But the girl clutched the blanket tightly while George and the man looked at all the cats and talked about them.  “Carp Deeum” the man said when they stopped in front of her cage. “Well that’s a funny name for a cat, naming it after a fish.”  The girl picked her head up off of his shoulder.  “No, Daddy.  Not Carp. Carp-e. Carp-e Di-em. Its Latin. It means ‘seize the day’.” The small girl corrected him.

“That’s my little bookworm.” The man said.  To George he said “She’s so smart! She reads all the time, great big books.  She’s going to be an author one day. Isn’t that right, sweetheart?” The little girl smiled a soft smile. “Yeah Daddy, maybe.”

“Carpe Diem would be a great kitty for you then” said George. “She’s a sweet little thing. Likes to sit on your lap and be pet. I bet you could read books to her, or tell her all the stories you make up.”

The little girl smiled again.  “How does that sound Allie? Is this Catfish the one?” asked the man.  Allie smiled again and nodded.  And that was how Carpe Diem found herself in yet another cardboard box, ready to go home with Daddy and Allie. Before closing the lid, George gave her another wink. “Remember to seize the day, little lady.  Enjoy your new home!”

Seize the day thought Carpe Diem on the quiet car ride home. To Carolyn, the more adventures you had and the more you did the better you seized the day.  To George you seized the day by finding and doing things that made you happy.  Carpe Diem wondered how she might seize the day with this new family.

When they got home Allie took Carpe Diem out of the box.  Daddy carried Allie, and Allie carried Carpe Diem inside the front door, down a long hallway, and into Allie’s bedroom.  The room had a bed with a purple blanket and four green pillows, a brown table with several little yellow bottles with white lids, a pile of stuffed animals beneath a window with white curtains, and a small pink rug with white fringe.  The Daddy put Allie and Carpe Diem down on the bed.  On the bed next to them was a big blue fish with yellow fins and a wide open mouth.  Allie giggled. “Do you like your new bed?” she asked Carpe Diem.

Seize the day thought Carpe Diem.  Today is Fish Bed Day. So Carpe Diem seized it.  With a lashing tail, extended claws, and a tremendous leap Carpe Diem seized the fish bed.  Her leap was so strong that both she and the bed tumbled end over end off the bed and onto the floor.  Or rather, she landed on the floor, and the fish bed landed, mouth open, onto her. From inside the cavernous mouth Carpe Diem heard the little girl’s laughter.  It was a light and tinkling laugh and Carpe Diem absolutely loved it.  This is how I will seize my days. I want to make that sweet little girl with the tired brown eyes laugh as much as I can Carpe Diem decided.

She crept out from beneath the fish bed and the Daddy set it right side up in the corner of the room, near the table with the yellow bottles.  That night the little girl did read to Carpe Diem from quite a big book and the when it was time to sleep, Carpe Diem sprawled across the little girl and purred and enjoyed the gentle rise and fall of her chest while they drifted off to sleep.

In the morning the Daddy came in to help Allie get ready, and then they went out.  Carpe Diem sat on the edge of the bed and wondered when they would be back.  A little while later the Daddy returned, but there was no Allie.  He came into the bedroom with fresh sheets and began to remake her bed.  “Thank you Catfish.” He said quietly.  “You know, Allie is a very sick little girl.  But she loves you. You just keep doing what you’re doing.  Ok? Will you be part of our little team?” Carpe Diem flicked her tail.

When Allie came home she smelled like new plastic and strange chemicals that made Carpe Diem’s nose sting.  She was very tired and went straight to bed.  Carpe Diem rested curled up on a pillow near her head.

Carpe Diem continued to find ways to make Allie smile when she was home.  She played with bits of yarn that Allie danced in front of her.  She pawed at the little cloth mice Daddy brought home.  Sometimes she batted at the white fringe of the small carpet on the bedroom floor.

When Allie was gone, Carpe Diem sat on the edge of her bed with her tail wrapped around her brown bootie paws and waited for her to come back.  One day Carpe Diem was in the kitchen looking for something to play with when she heard Daddy and Allie come home.  She bounded down the hallway into Allie’s room and jumped onto the pink rug.  Everyone was quite shocked when the pink rug went sailing across the room with Carpe Diem on it!  She crashed into the pile of stuffed animals beneath the window and both Allie and the Daddy started to laugh.  Carpe Diem had found a new favorite trick!

Sometimes Allie just wanted to hold and pet Carpe Diem, and at night she would purr loudly and let Allie hug her just a little too tightly while she fell asleep.  But Carpe Diem never cried or tried to move until she was sure that Allie was fast asleep.  Then she would curl up on the pillow by Allie’s head, or lay her head on the gently moving chest.

One morning, a going-away-morning, Daddy was helping Allie eat breakfast when Carpe Diem surfed into the room on the carpet. She leapt onto the bed while the carpet was still moving and spilled the milk on Allie’s tray.  “Catfish!” the Daddy yelled. “Allie needs to drink that! She’ll need the energy! She has a big day ahead of her!” But Allie was laughing, and when Carpe Diem meekly tried to lap up the milk from the tray even the Daddy couldn’t help but break a smile.  “I guess you need your energy too.” he said

That day they were gone for a very long time.  The Daddy didn’t come home to change Allie’s sheets, and in fact he didn’t come home at all. Finally, the next morning, Carpe Diem heard the front door open and the tired steps of the Daddy as he walked down the hall.  He came into Allie’s room, but he didn’t carry Allie.  All he carried was her dingy yellow blanket.  Why does he have that? Carpe Diem thought with alarm.  Allie needs that! Where is Allie?

The Daddy sat on the edge of the bed.  Carpe Diem remained on Allie’s pillow. She sat completely still; only the tip of her tail twitched in agitation.  The Daddy sat quietly on the edge of the bed for a long time, holding the dingy yellow blanket in a tight ball. Finally, he sighed.  “It’s just you and me now Catfish.” He put the yellow blanket on the bed, stood up, and walked back down the hallway.  From her spot on the pillow Carpe Diem heard the TV click on in the living room.

Carpe Diem looked at the dingy yellow blanket.  So this is life she thought.  Sometimes there are lessons to learn, and sometimes there are lessons to share.  Sometimes you must do great things, and sometimes you must enjoy the moment.  And sometimes you must just be there for the people you love.

Carpe Diem looked again at the dingy yellow blanket. She looked at the blue glow flickering down the hallway.  She jumped off the bed and padded towards the living room and towards the Daddy watching TV.  She leapt up onto the couch and sat on the man’s lap, and he rubbed her head.  Carpe Diem purred, and the man cried.

boba tea for me!

A couple weeks ago I took a break from Texas by hiding away in a Korean spa for the day. Today I seemed to have been dropped off in The Philippines for lunch.

The Place? Cebuana Filipino Store in Austin, Texas.  This place is another one of those great places that looks like a dive on the outside, and you really aren’t expecting much out of the food even after ordering and sitting down.  But then a trail of mouth watering scents wafts your way and the meal comes out.  You know you’ve hit another cultural gem before you even take the first bite.  This is the real deal.  This is abandon your fork for finger licking delight.  This is thank the good Earth for lemon grass and ginger.

Go Ejoy Maria’s WONDERFUL Filipino Food!

Maria, the owner and chef comes out with beef stews, pork chops the likes of which you’ve never had, sweet rice, a stunning Thai basil soup, and a creamy cabbage salad.  We dipped bites of pork chop into the soup and delightfully slurping the whole mouthful up.

After the meal we wandered the tiny Filipino grocery store, excitedly cheering over real rice noodles, glass noodles, packaged curry pastes, ginger pastes, spicy sauces, and more. I couldn’t help but pick up a few spice packets to try on my own stir-fries later.

A mango boba tea for the road, and we were ready to head back out into the American afternoon.  A delightful ethnic meal was exactly what I needed to excite my travel bug again.

Just in time too because on Friday I hit the road again and head north, back to Annapolis for a few days. But before that I need to run through Austin with my Tutu on! That’s right.  On Thursday, Chela of Medieval Moccasins and I will be running in the Midnight Margarita Run.  In some Reincarnation Outfitters tutus and Medieval Moccasin boots (GREAT for running btw!!) we shall frolic through downtown Austin.  Come run, come play, come cheer on the faeries!

Paalam and Gud Lak!

~Aeri

gamsahabnida texas

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

Not any more! Not until next year at least. Because it’s DONE!

Scarborough Faire was another whirlwind of friends, festivities, and Texas heat.  But now it is time to move on down the road again. But before I leave the DFW area, there is one more stop to make. If I had a list of 1000 things to do before you die, this would totally be on it.  In fact, maybe I should start that list.  OK #1 on the list: King’s Spa and Sauna. King’s Spa is a Korean style relaxation center; a “family oriented well-being sauna and spa.”

Walk up a set of marble stairs, past massive lion statues guarding the door, and for $27 for twenty-four hours (yes it is open 24 hours a day), past the front desk and into a world of well-being.  First you go into the gender segregated locker rooms.  Stash your things (clothes and all) in your designated locker and walk your way to the wet room.  Part Turkish Bath part Roman Bath, the wet room has rows of shower stations, three hot mineral pools and a cold pool, a steam room and a massage station.

When you’re done in there, or when you manage to tear yourself away, don a soft cotton uniform and head back out to the main room.  On the right is a cafe` serving fresh and delicious Korean food.  They even have Duckboke, a rice cake slathered with Korean hot sauce. You might not care about Duckboke, but I have fond memories of chowing down on street cart Duckboke after a night of heavy drinking in Seoul while visiting my friend Amy, then teaching English in Korea.  All entrees are served Korean style, with lots of little sides in tiny little bowls.  And the chopsticks are metal! How’s that for authenticity?

But you aren’t there for the food, at least not yet.  You’re there for the nine different sauna rooms. Hot dry rooms filled with interesting details designed to help you sweat out toxins and absorbe some stellar energy.  There are salt rooms, and gold pyramid rooms, and pine rooms, and rooms filled with amethyst stones.  There is even a room heated once daily by a roaring fire (think Italian brick oven) that is so hot they can cook eggs in it. I’ve had them.  The cholesterol cooks out and leaves a black spotty residue on the shell.  They taste kind of like chicken, and are great with salt.  You have to take an extra burlap sack to sit on when you go in there, and there is a constant guardian at the door, ready to pull it open with a string when she sees you at the window, so you don’t have to touch anything.

This place is amazing, and for the price you can’t beat it.

But why 24 hours, you may say. I can only put my body through that kind of detox for a couple hours max.  Well that is fine.  Here’s what you do.  You go in the evening and have a sweaty session.  Then you get some great food for dinner and take a nap in one of the many disgustingly comfortable chairs they have lying around.  Or maybe you go watch a movie in their full sized theater.  You nap and graze for the night, and then when you wake up in the morning you have another complete sauna session, take one final shower, and then carry on your merry way.  I know it sounds crazy, but in Korea it is totally normal.  In a place where space is limited, taking the family to a trip to the spa was sort of like a mini-vacation.

If you can’t make it down to Dallas to visit THIS King’s Spa, there is another one in Chicago.  Or look for a similar spa near you.  Apparently they’re all over the place.  And if you’re suffering from a serious case of travel itch, perhaps a trip into another world for a day will satiate that wanderlust for a bit. Worth a shot right?

Geonbae!!

~Aeri

teahehe party

A few days ago I turned 5 years old. Fairie years that is.  We fairies like to take things slow.  I think in human counting it was 25 years old.  That’s quite a bit older. I guess. To celebrate, my friends threw me a tea party and it was WONDERFUL!!!

 

They were so nice and it was so fun.  We had tea, and cake, and coconut macaroons, and cucumber and creamcheese sandwiches.  And there were boys that got dressed nicely, and girls that were so pretty. It was in a wooded, shady, sun dappled glade with a light breeze through the warm summer day.

 

Even though we didn’t technically “Go” anywhere, I wanted to talk about my tea party in my travel blog.  Because it was AMAZING!! I love my friends.  I love that I said “tea party” and they said “yes, absolutely.”

They came to play. They liked the wings and the silly fabrics and the tiny sandwiches.  They let me feel like a princess whether I was turning 5 or 25.

When I travel I meet some amazing people, people with strange stories and new perspectives. But it has been a long time since I’ve had good friends to ground me at home.  Friends who love me because of my stories, and friends whom I love because of their stories.

 

So this post is dedicated to all my homies.  Who make the return flights worth while.

Thank you, I love you.

 

Aeri