Archive for the ‘Watertown’ Category

Today I attended an Esbat – the first in a couple years, I think.  It was put on by the local CUUPs chapter.  There weren’t as many people there as there were last time, but still some familiar and new faces.  The ritual was very Wiccan, which isn’t a problem, of course, but I’ve not been to anything like that since leaving Utica.  I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect and the ritual wasn’t briefed very well beforehand so there were some awkward moments.  We did get some energy flowing, which was fun.  We made some holy water for spells and consecrations which will be nice to have.  The ritual leader never lead us through a grounding which I believe helped trigger a headache.  I did some grounding when I returned home which helped. So…  all in all, pros and cons to the ritual.  I really liked getting to know people, working with others towards a magical goal, and seeing new ways of doing things, but I think they could plan it better.  In their defense, they did admit that they hadn’t really planned well to begin with!  I do intend to keep going for now.  There was some good energy and the fellowship is nice.  

I also did some shopping today.  I bought some clothes, some art supplies to make more tree spirits, and the latest edition of Witches and Pagans.  I have a lot to keep me busy!

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

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I was recently diagnosed with bronchitis and prescribed medication.  I need to be careful with regards to sex and booze, but my doctor told me that I can go out as long as I cover my mouth when I cough.  Weretoad and I had planned for yesterday to be a “date night.”  He was going to take me to a bar I wanted to go to, but that probably wouldn’t have been a good idea so we did sober activities.

First we had dinner at The Mustard Seed.  As always they made delicious, meat-free meals.  Weretoad let me have some of his ratatouille wrap and I shared some spring rolls with him.  We each had some chili.  We decided to drive to Cape Vincent next just to see what it was like.  This included a detour to Tibbets Point where we saw gorgeous houses, a real light house, a mink cross the road, and the St. Lawrence joining with Lake Ontario.  We witnessed some absolutely beautiful scenery there.  Cape Vincent looks across to a wind farm.  I understand that several residents are unhappy about that, but I find them serene and lovely in their own way*.  I put my feet in the St. Lawrence for a bit and thought of the River Goddess.

Next we drove along the river until we reached Clayton.  They have their farmers’ market on Thursdays and I was delighted to catch it.  We purchased some cookies, French bread, banana peppers, carrots, an onion, and a buttercup squash.  We then had some dessert and sat by the river while a band played.
It was kind of funny, actually.  Until I moved out of my parents’ house, we used to go to Old Forge, NY almost every Sunday for a concert in the park.  There were usually rock-n-roll bands (which I love) that played a lot of Beatles, Elvis, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, and such.  As the concert in Clayton started with some old fashioned doo-wop, I turned to Weretoad and commented that someday, when we’re old, bands will start to play our generation’s music in parks for free concerts.  Sure enough, this band played a number from Blink 182, Green Day, and several other contemporary bands.  I was amused, especially with all the older people dancing to “All the Small Things.”  Heehee.  I hope I never lose my sense of youth when I’m older.

We ended the evening by watching the sun set along the St. Lawrence, chased by speed boats and slow steamers.  The rose and orange clouds piled up towards Canada, looking like the background of a majestic Thomas Cole painting.  We looked into the waves and I thanked the Kindreds for such a beautiful place and a wonderful day.  Even though our plans changed, we found joy by the life source of Northern NY in the presence of the River Goddess.

*Not to mention my appreciation for alternative energy!

( 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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CUUPs – Take Two

Last Tuesday I gave the local CUUPs chapter another chance.  I stopped going after my first visit because 1) I was ill for their next meeting, 2) scheduling with Weretoad complicated travel and 3) I was honestly unimpressed with the meeting.  They spent most of it discussing the food to serve – an activity better relegated to a sign-up sheet or an online forum.  I was disgruntled and returned to my solitary den, emerging only to celebrate with Muin Mound in Syracuse.

I decided that I had enough of being so alone.  I love my grovies and cherish the time I spend with them, but it’s not enough.  I need to make friends up here as well.  CUUPs, with its open, bi-monthly meetings seemed like the best bet.  Only…for a few weeks it seemed they had disbanded.  The organizer’s computer was at the ‘puter doctor, hence the poor communication.

My most recent foray into the CUUPs world was more enjoyable.  The meeting was held outside where I was able to admire the lovely church grounds.  There were more people than last time.  We all discussed our experiences and/or research on lunar rituals and traditions.  I was called a living book because of my knowledge on Celtic lore.  This amused me because, compared with some people in ADF, I’m such a noob.  Weretoad was at work so I didn’t feel like I had to leave right away in sympathy for his boredom.  I stayed and chatted with several people about Druidism, green/hedge/kitchen witchcraft, auras, and local shops.  It felt so good to talk with like-minded people in my new hometown. Perhaps I just wasn’t ready last time…  Or perhaps the group has progressed in their organization?

I guess we’ll see how it goes.  đź™‚

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

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I love having company over.  I so rarely get to see the people I consider my tribe, so it was a real treat to have friends visit.  We had a lot of fun in Alex Bay and Watertown, but we mostly stayed home for chatting, snacking, and playing copious amounts of games.  If only there had been more time for more fun.

Having guests is always a test of virtue.  I try my best and take pride in being a hospitable hostess.  I love to cook fresh meals and share my drink.  Hospitality aside, my piety to the Kindreds is also tested.

They are never far from my mind to begin with, and I pray a lot – especially before eating and while traveling.  Yet when people share my home, my routine is always a bit disrupted.  (Truthfully, it already was thanks to my infernal, cough-inducing allergies…)  My devotionals are shortened because I need to be a good hostess and it is too loud for me to meditate.  I am proud of myself for getting up and doing my full, formal ritual yesterday, but even that was not as usual because of my need to assist my guests.  I felt self-conscious chanting, as well.  I found myself whispering the songs.  It was not a very powerful ritual but I am glad to have done it.  I like showing the Kindreds that I care, and I think they understand the strained ritual when I so rarely entertain.

I believe that ritual, trance, and meditation aren’t the only ways that we show honor to the Kindreds.  When we find joy with our tribe, treat others with love and respect, and celebrate life – even in a non-religious context – the Kindreds are there.  Strengthening bonds with the tribe is just as important as ritual on my Druidic path.

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

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Today was busy but in a good way.  I went to Massage Works in Watertown for my monthly massage.  My therapist says she noticed I didn’t have as many knots this time.  I asked her about lomilomi massage, because I was curious, and she did some on me.  It was interesting but not something I would want for an entire session.  It’s very intense and, in some ways, rough.  She only did a little bit, and I definitely felt like she was breaking through something.  My lower back feels really limber now!   Next time I might reserve a longer period and have her do some reflexology on my hands and feet.  They always seem to cry out in jealousy after my back and neck get so much attention!  Perhaps I’ll practice some reiki on myself later to make up for it.

I also bought fabric for a cloak I’m going to make for Wellspring.  I hope it turns out well!  The fabric store in Watertown is just not as good as the one in Utica.  It’s very disappointing and I hope it improves… They didn’t have enough of most fabric, so I decided on a moss green velour and a gold faux satin for the lining.

Speaking of stores in Utica, I heard a rumor that Accents of Ireland closed.  Is that true?  If so, that is very sad.  

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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My Beltaine was wonderful.  After a delightfully amorous morning, hubby and I went to The Mustard Seed in Watertown to enjoy their Earth Day celebration.  We got to try a plethora of products, including some eco-friendly perfume, organic cat treats (which our babies really enjoyed), soaps, and a micro-brewed kombucha.  My husband is not a fan of the drink in general, but it was probably the best batch I ever had!  We also had some delicious local baked goods and a grilled portobello sandwich.  Yummy!

We headed to Syracuse to attend Muin Mound’s Beltaine celebration.  Yesterday was actually my three year anniversary of going to Muin Mound.  I made a point to make it to a business meeting.  I want to be more involved, especially as I’m going to become an official Folk of the Grove next month.  My grove mates have become such a spiritual family to me.  It’s so easy to talk to them now, and I have so much fun.

The men went into the woods to find a tree for the maypole.  My husband went reluctantly at first but ended up having a lot of fun finding, sawing, and constructing it with Skip.  Hubby is one of those men who almost always has a knife on him and it was quite handy yesterday!  Muin Mound’s tradition is to attach last year’s Yule tree to the top of the maypole.  We dance around it to celebrate the fertility all around us and leave it standing in the yard to fill the land with more creative energy.  Come Samhain, when the harvest is over, the maypole is chopped up and placed in our bonfire.  It’s a lovely tradition that really connects us to the land.  I wish we brought the camera to get a photo of our maypole this year.  It’s probably the best I’ve ever seen!

The ritual was beautiful.  The usual nemeton was already infested with mosquitos so we opted to use the area closer to the home.  We’ve been using it a lot, actually, and the larger nemeton is generally bug free for Samhain.  It’s sad, in a way, because the nemeton is so visually striking with the large central bonfire and bridge lit by torch-light, but the newer, less-infested nemeton is also lovely and is growing on me.  The second bile (sacred tree) looks quite proud with some offerings hanging from it.  There’s also a lovely pond which works as the well!

As the ritual began, the sky lit up a few times and thunder rolled around us.  It was really something to acknowledge the three realms and chant “may the sky not fall down upon us” in such weather.  I took two larger roles in the ritual this time.  We have a member who always welcomes the Nature Spirits, but she wasn’t there last night, so I took the part.  I felt so confident and just said what was in my heart.  It was an amazing feeling!  I also welcomed and honored the Goddess of the rite, BláithĂ­ne.  I had an idea of what I could say, but in the end I read something prepared ahead of time.  I usually don’t like to do that, but I’ve really never worked with BláithĂ­ne before and didn’t want to stumble or get her story wrong, even though I’m fairly sure I know the basics of it.  I felt a lot of wonderful things while calling to her.  I felt the strength of an independent woman who knows what she wants.  I felt the awe and joy of the plants all around me.  I also felt compelled to learn more about her and make a doll inspired by her to give to the grove next Beltaine.

At the end of the rite, the sky could no longer hold and it began to rain.  It felt cool after a humid day dancing around the maypole.  We were finishing our right so it didn’t spoil our fiery fun at all.  We went inside and had a wonderful potluck feast.

It was such an enjoyable day and I hope everyone did something as wonderful!

May the Kindreds bless you this season!

[ For my LJ friends, please visit me at: http://adfcatprints.blogspot.com/ ]

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