Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Roadtrip East: Shaking It Up, 2016 Edition!

Two years ago when we visited Massachusetts, I wrote a much more informative post than this one on the Shaker Village in Hancock. The photos I took then were stark -- the elegantly simple buildings against a blanket of white. (You can check out the original post which has much more information about the Shakers and their history HERE.)

This year, with the ground beginning to green up, I thought I'd make another visit to compare. This historical museum itself wasn't open yet (that's not till April) but from the parking area I could get a look at some of the sites I saw before.

I loved the starkness of the white against this building and the angles of the photo. The springtime version is almost painterly in a much different way.

Here's the round barn, one of the notable features of the Shaker Village.


As you can see, it's quite a difference!

I wish I could have better captured the yellow building in the winter shot in the spring. I'm not quite sure why it didn't show as well this year!

And here are a few of the outbuildings, including the meeting house.


If I did the blog match up "Good Fences," I would be sure to add this one!

This time I was able to window peek. You can get a good idea of the beautiful Shaker workmanship.

Hancock is not the oldest Shaker Village. That distinction belongs to the Shaker colony at New Lebanon, New York.

Much of this area has been taken over by the Darrow School, a boarding and day college prep school. The campus was on the site of the largest and most industrious Shaker community in the country.

The Shakers had set the plans for a school in motion more than a decade before the left the site in 1947. Many of the original buildings evolved into classrooms, dining areas, dorms and sports facilities, although all renovations were conducted in consideration of the Shaker principles of simplicity, function, beauty and stewardship.


Also on the property is a Shaker Museum and a barn that is currently under reconstruction.

If you keep on the same country road, you will come to Abode of the Message, a Universal Community founded in 1975. It is housed in additional Shaker buildings from the New Lebanon community.

The group grew out of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 70s. Its intent is to bring about spiritual awakening thruogh the Sufi teachings and to the devotion of love, harmony and beauty. Included in the area is a conference center, communal living and dining facilities, classrooms for workshops, and meditation retreat areas.

Here you can see a bit of the layout of the area as it was in Shaker times. The school is in the middle and Abode of the Message at the far right of the drawing.

I leave you with a country road, quiet on a Sunday morning.

And a few words from the Sufi community. Good words to remember!

This post is linked to Thoughts of Home on Thursday! Check out the link for tons of wonderful interesting posts and creative ideas.

Monday, March 28, 2016


We've only been back a week or so, but it's been busy. So, an interruption in some of the travel posts to catch up on some seasonal fun!

We started our Easter weekend with the annual egg-dyeing-Life-of-Brian tradition with our friends Mark and Jan. This year I did half hard boiled, half raw and I only got one mixed up when I started opening them!

The next day was a paint-your-pet workshop. This was great fun and I learned a lot of new tips!


Here's my girl. I have a long way to go to fully capture her technique-wise, but I learned a lot and for a first time portrait, I was happy. Michelle, the instructor, was terrific and we have a good group to work with.

Of course there was a trip to the market for flowers and veggies. Everything was springy and joyful!

I knew I'd add a few more things to the decorations! Last year's Southern Exposure wreath was moved about till it found a new home!

And, I brought out the Pendelfin bunnies I collected decades ago. Their beautifully painted faces still charm me.

One of last year's Make-and-Take wreaths got an Easter update!

A new bunny, tulips, definitely ready for spring!

And visit Emily at The French Hutch! Her post on using a grapevine wreath to make a wonderful centerpiece filled with spring plants inspired me to make one of my own.


They are set on a tray, over which is a grapevine wreath. A little moss and Easter bits finish it off. Thanks again for the inspiration, Emily!

A fully set table, friends and family for dinner.

Dogs outside, please!

And a showstopper dessert. I'll share more on this one in a future post! But think Nigella Lawson, Lemon Meringue Cake. Not hard and wonderful!

Here's hoping everyone's Easter was beautiful.

This post is linked to Talk of the Town and Thoughts of Home on Thursday, where you'll find all sorts of fun decorating, home, travel posts and more creative ideas than you can imagine!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Roadtrip East: Friendship, Family, Birds and More!

There is a yin and yang to traveling together. Chinese philosophy explains how opposite forces are actually complementary and interdependent in the natural world and how they give rise to each other as they interrealte to one another (thank you, wikipedia!)

In no where is that more evident in traveling with a partner! For Rick, it was a bike ride as soon as we landed in Geneva, to be followed by work at the trade show. For me, it was to connect with people I enjoy in a part of the country I love. While I am content in my world and eagerly anticipate venturing out to see sights and then return home, Rick just wants to move! (He was ready to move to Oberlin last fall, Massachusetts or upstate New York last week and Canada any time!)

But our opposite forces clearly interrelated, as wiki would say, on this trip! After driving through torrential rain, we landed in the best spot imaginable -- the cozy home of Randy and Elaine, Rick's brother and wife.

We were warmly welcomed not only by the humans but by Pickles and Daisy, two of the friendliest cats ever!

The following morning it was off to the trade show where Rick and I hawked his wares.

Then a special event -- the reunion of Rick and his high school friend Eugene after at least 20 plus years (and more likely, more than that!). Gene and his wife met us for dinner and both were so terrific I wished they lived next door! Somehow I felt we would be doing lots of fun things together if we lived closer. While I expected Rick and Gene to pick up quickly, I often have a hard time meeting with new people and yet within minutes I felt like I'd known both of them a long time. It was such a treat and I was sorry when the evening ended.

After another day of trade show we returned to Pittsfield, riding through some glorious countryside as we abandoned the turnpike for one of the quieter routes.


We passed through the small town of Lee where I was finally able to capture this church in a drive-by shooting. I've been trying for years but the sky was right and so was the camera!


Randy and Elaine invited their good friends Tim and Nancy for dinner and it was another delightful evening with much laughter and camaraderie.


I would be remiss about talking about our visit without mentioning the birds!

Randy and Elaine have a wonderful deck and many bird feeders. They attract a wide array of birds and I couldn't stop photographing them!

One disturbing thing was the prevalence of a disease affecting many finches, notably in the northeast. It's a mycoplasmal conjunctivitis and is caused by a parasitic bacterium. The eyes become red and swollen. Apparently the disease is contagious, at least among finches. (For more on this visit HERE.)

Apparently after pet stores stopped illegal sales of finches, the birds were released, bred and the disease spread. There are concerns as to how far west it may have spread since it crossed the Rockies in 2006.


Nevertheless, the birds are still lovely to watch, though this is a bit disturbing.

And it's clear that Daisy is watching, too!

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