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Archive for the ‘Northern NY’ Category

The sun is shining today.  I felt it would be a Druidic sin to stay inside so I donned my winter gear and headed to the forest!  I spent a few moments with a birch tree but grew distracted with how active the chickadee population was.  Without so many deciduous leaves hiding them, birds sure stand out!

In the end, I found myself mostly engaged with deer tracks.  They were everywhere!  I followed a few until I couldn’t determine where they went.  It’s an interesting way to live vicariously through a Nature Spirit for a short time. You see where they pawed through the snow for a meal, where they defecated, and where they slept.  You see that they prefer to walk in certain places over others and you learn from them how to navigate in the woods.

As feline as I often feel, I cannot deny the pull the deer have on me as well.

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I’ve had an enjoyable weekend so far.  I was able to visit some of my family which is always wonderful.  My husband was able to spend a lot of time with his best buddy and our future brother-in-law (I’ll call him Hunter).  Now that I’m older, I get along better with my sister (I’ll call her Georgia).  It’s fun to to be with her and her fiance.  It’s always a very relaxed time, and Weretoad and I can be ourselves.  They always have a new drink for us to try that further inhibits us.

We took advantage of the visit to finally unveil our new car to the immediate tribe.  It’s a lovely green hatchback with spectacular headlights which I like to think of as dragon eyes.  In fact, I fancy the whole car a dragon (symbolically, of course).  I’ve referred to it as a green dragon, but my husband cringes due to the drug reference.  It’s been very difficult living in the North Country with only one car – and an old one at that.  We’ve already had some situations that made me feel uncomfortable and even helpless.  The public transportation system around here is practically non-existent.  There are buses that come to our area, but the hours are so limited that they don’t fit into my husband’s work schedule at all.  I need to adjust my sleep habits so I have time to walk to work in the morning.  I would really like to develop that habit as reducing my impact on Mama Earth is very important to me. We would have liked to find a hybrid, but they are out of our price range.  We did a lot of research and went for something that achieves decent miles per gallon and can assist us in transporting the kayaks we’re getting for Solstice.

Now that we have a new car, I’m thinking about creating a protection charm to hang in it.  It will probably have something to do with Lugh.  The Romans equated him with Mercury, a patron of merchants and therefore travelers.  This opens up the possibility that the Celts (or at least the Gauls) saw him in this way too.  In the Irish myths, Lugh has to travel to the Tuatha de Dannan before he is accepted by them (perhaps a stretch…).  I have been praying to Lugh for protection on the road for years now and I feel that he has heard and helped me.

I spent some time this weekend working on my Samhain costume.  I’m planning to be a forest fairy.  I’ve got the pieces of the vest cut out and ready to be stitched together.  I found ear tips this weekend but will have to paint them.

Finally, my husband found a Victorian card with a green fairy on it while we were browsing in an antique store.  I absolutely had to have it.  She’s Victorian, but not as silly looking as most fairies represented in that era.  I can’t wait to display her on my wall.

* At least I’m writing a substantial post!  I haven’t done that in a week it seems!

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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As of August 6th, Weretoad and I have been residents of Northern NY for a year.  We moved up here from the Mohawk Valley last year.  It’s been a bit of a transition.  I’ve been meaning to write about it.

In many ways, the North Country is similar to the Mohawk Valley.  It’s still NY and therefore we witness similar plants and animals.  Each area enjoys productive agricultural areas and lovely rivers and/or canals.  We’re a couple hours away from the Utica/Rome area, so I’m not seriously removed from my family and friends.

That said there are differences.  Few people see wild bears in the Mohawk Valley, but they’re quite common up here, as are bobcats*.  There have even been lynx and cougar sightings.  This is probably because life up here is more agriculture than in the Mohawk Valley which is heavily urban and suburban except for a few happy exceptions.  The bigger animals haven’t been driven out yet.

The rivers in the North Country seem more appreciated.  They are a central part of life here and not just something discussed in 4th grade social studies.  People celebrate our rivers.  Schools incorporate them into their songs.  The St. Lawrence is huge to our tourist industry, and many people who reside in this area enjoy it for sport, beauty, and sustenance.

The urban and suburban centers, while spread apart, have grown on me.  Alexandria Bay is kitschy but the views are beautiful and the swimming area is great on a hot day.  Clayton is one of my favorite places to go.  It seems to be the artistic center of Northern NY with its textile museum, antique boat museum,  studios, galleries, opera house, and art classes.  The view of the St. Lawrence is just as spectacular there.  The dining is also wonderful and vegetarian friendly.

Potsdam, an hour away from us, is a lovely college town full of cafes, international cuisine, boutiques, and access to the Raquette River.  There is art and academia, and it seems very pedestrian friendly.  I wish it were closer so I could live there!

Our city is Watertown.  While smaller than Utica, it seems cleaner and more alive.  There are many shops, restaurants, a huge and ornate library, and a thriving farmers market that is right in the middle of everything on Wednesdays (although parking is hard to find…) and a second, smaller one closer to the community college on Saturdays.

I am finding things to keep me busy outside of work and home.  There are a lot of classes that I would like to take advantage of when I have a little more money – yoga, sustainable/organic gardening, tai chi, weaving, drumming….  I’ve even found belly dancing classes a few towns away.  The CUUPs chapter is now providing me a place to practice Paganism more regularly with others.  A second New Age shop just opened up here.  The Mustard Seed in Watertown is my vegetarian cafe.  We have an amazing Thai restaurant, a decent Indian restaurant, and now have hibachi!  We are super close to the Saranac Lake, Lake Placid, Ottawa, and Montreal.  The military presence originally gave Northern NY a conservative feel, and I’m sure a majority of people here are very conservative, but the area is more diverse than that.    I’m feeling happier here and more at home, and that’s even without me waxing poetic about how I have an amazing job with wonderful people!

There are things I miss.  The proximity to my family and friends is one of them.  My parents, especially my father, keep talking about moving up here.  They really like it.  I wish they would.  I miss seeing them as much as I used to.  There are things about Utica I miss as well: the amazing Stanley theater and the art museum mostly.  The Stanley gets Broadway shows and MWPAI has a spectacular collection as well as their affordable film series.  Weretoad and I used to take advantage of that all the time.  We also miss Minar, the Indian Restaurant in Utica.  The place in Watertown isn’t bad – it’s quite good really – but the environment at Minar was special.  The staff knew us and the decor was warmer feeling.  Utica also had more independent cafes.  I’ve found some in Clayton, Canton, and Potsdam, but Watertown only seems to have Paneera and the closest thin in my hometown is a Jrek’s Sub Shop.

I also miss how close everything was in the Mohawk Valley.  Unless living in the extreme outskirts, it only took 15-20 minutes to get anywhere.  Up here, we have to drive 30 minutes to Watertown, 30 minutes to A Bay, 40 minutes to Clayton, 40 minutes to Canton, 1 hour to Potsdam…  It’s annoying and stressful to someone who wants to be more environmentally friendly.  But even if I were to move to Watertown so I could be closer to everything there, I would then be 30 minutes from my job.  I can’t win, aside from moving in between – which is what we’d like to do.  But, as the author of F that S says in her latest blog entry, living in the North Country comes with a lot of driving.  Her entry assuaged my inner guilt, reminding me that the little things one does to help the environment do add up.  Thanks for that!

While I’m certainly not close-minded to moving elsewhere down the road, I am finding myself happy here.  I have days or moments when I am annoyed by the driving, but that’s really the worst part, and I want to focus on the best parts, of which there are many.

Here’s to another year of exploration and growth in the North Country!

* I’ve not seen either yet, but my place of employment was on lockdown due to a bear once.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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Lonely

So it seems like today is bitch day among many of my blogging friends.  Allow me to join the party, however briefly.  I could use a good bit of catharsis.

Basically, I’m feeling restless and lonely.  I’m excited to have found numerous nearby activities that I would be interested in: meditation classes, yoga, some belly dance, art classes, sustainability lectures, drum circles…  But the same old things get in the way of my participating: distance, sharing a car, my husband’s work schedule, and concerns about the cost and impact of driving so much.  We live roughly 30 minutes from everything except for my place of employment.  When we moved here, my job was the only thing vaguely familiar to us and so we focused on the village it was located in.  The nearest city is 30 minutes away.  A lot of what we like to do is there, not to mention, my husband works there.  Needless to say, the car we share already does a lot of work.  It is such a pain trying to plan anything on a day he is working because it would either require multiple 30-minute drives or me staying out for hours and hours and hours.  Or the usual which is me staying home even when I wish I could go to some function.  Either way isn’t fair to myself, the environment, our wallets, or our free time.  It’s really frustrating.  The hope is I’ll be able to get a second car in the fall.  It won’t really minimize my guilt over the environmental impact*, but at least it will give me some mobility when he’s working…  The North Country really needs a makeover to make transportation more eco-friendly…

We would like to move closer to the city so that we’re in-between my place of employment and his.  We probably should have seriously considered it earlier in the year, but we didn’t because we moved a lot last year and we’re tired.  Not to mention, we’re not financially prepared to move at the moment.  It would have been a big pain in the butt, so we renewed our lease for another year and will just have to deal with it.  Or get used to it…  The native-borns in Northern NY seem used to driving long distances to get anywhere.  I’m more used to it now, but it’s still a pain in the behind.

The transportation issues impact my other dilemma: I’m really lonely.  I’m lucky to be married to my best friend, but besides that I feel like I have no social life.  Our work schedules hardly ever match so I spend a lot of time by myself just hanging around the house in my pjs.  Really glamorous, I know.  We do go out together, but there’s only so much he wants to do.  He gets tired after a few hours and wants to go home.  I would be fine staying out half a day in the city just to have something to do.  I feel like I’m missing out on so much.  It would be nice to have a girlfriend up here to talk to and hang out with.  Weretoad made a good friend up here and he spends a lot of time playing games with him online.  I’ve not really connected to any of my coworkers and, frankly, it’s hard for me to feel comfortable about trying.  I get along with them and can make small talk, but I avoid deep issues that really interest me.  Because my religion is so important to me and such a huge part of my life, it’s really hard to be fully myself with people.  I get uncomfortable when people talk about popular Christian holidays.  I always feel like such an ass when I twist the truth just to avoid an awkward conversation with a coworker.  I loved hanging out with my pagan girlfriends Imagickat and Parallax back in Utica.  I was able to be myself and feel genuinely understood on multiple levels, even when we had different sets of Gods or cultural inspirations.  And it’s not that I would only be able to feel comfortable with a Pagan; it’s just really difficult to be the complete me around coworkers who may or may not make my life difficult thereafter.

I’m looking for friendship in the North Country but it’s so hard to find.  When I have more regular paychecks again and a second car, I’m hoping to attend the workshops and classes I’ve been learning about.  Maybe I’ll make a friend.  I’ve also thought about starting a Pagan Meetup but they cost money – something that’s a bit tight currently.  I suppose I have to make some effort, though…

Alright.  Back to lounging in my pjs intermittent by cleaning.

*I do plan to walk and eventually bike more to work.

( For My LJ Friends: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ )

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I took advantage of the long weekend and visited my family. I was able to attend a performance of The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Utica College. (It was fantastic, by the way!) My dear friend Katrina and former mistress of ceremonies for MVPN was there and we were able to catch up before the show. I say “former mistress of ceremonies” because my last post about MVPN has been confirmed. They had their last council meeting and decided to dissolve. MVPN will remain as an online forum and networking site but nothing more, at least for the time being. The mostly Wiccan members will organize sabbats and esbats somewhat privately, meaning that they will meet with sincerely interested parties and eventually invite them, but the group won’t focus on advertising. It also means that friends are welcome to the rituals should they want to attend.

Interestingly, I was asked to become a moderator on the forums as they mean a lot to me. They are how I maintain contact with my Pagan friends in the Mohawk Valley. I’m not sure when the switch will take place…

I also saw the former Elder of MVPN, Bruce, when getting breakfast at a donut shop. It was nice to see him as he is often silent on MVPN’s boards. He is organizing a ritual to acknowledge the closure of MVPN in its original state.

C’est la vie, I guess.

There is a CUUPs meeting in Watertown next week, I believe. I’m thinking about going. I looked through Witch Vox’s directory of local Pagans. I already knew that are some Pagans on Fort Drum, but there are supposedly Pagans in Evans Mills, Gouverneur, Antwerp, and Philadelphia. I’m not about to message these people and ask to meet up. That would make me feel uncomfortable. I would feel safer going to an established and open Pagan meeting.

We’ll see what happens I guess!

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My husband and I explored Sylvia Lake. It’s off RT 8-12, near Gouverneur, NY. The lake was frozen and lovely. I attempted to write a short poem about it as a visualization practice but it’s goofy and not something I want to share. Still, I think it helped me crystalize the imagery in my head. I recommend the practice to anyone who wants to remember a time or a place.

Anyway, we took some photos. The public swimming and picnic area was closed off but we were able to get a few shots of the lake. My husband, a former photography major, wasn’t very pleased with them, though.

There was also a lovely, massive boulder covered in graffiti. I liked it for some reason… I’ve always liked things that made me feel small. It’s comforting.

It was a fun area to explore and it felt nice to be outside with the Nature Spirits. I look forward to the summer when we can go swimming and get some nicer photos of the lake.

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