Weekend before last, J & I went to the annual adult retreat for the UCC church I am serving. Once we finally got there, it was fabulous. Getting there was quite the ordeal, though. The trip started innocuously enough. We stopped for dinner at a little home-cooking place outside of Columbus. I had Johnny Marzetti (how often do you find that on a menu?) and J had liver & onions. We split a piece of pecan pie, then picked up a few extras for the trip (some snack table contributions & joy workshop supplies, plus flashlights) before heading down 33 toward Hocking Hills. Unfortunately, what should have been a two-hour trip was rendered a five-hour trip by our dinner stop and by bad directions. My internet-generated map took us to a closed road & the church-provided map had both outdated and incorrect information. So, we were driving around in the dark looking for Shoop Road, with a flashing light. However, as we discovered ages later when we stopped at a gas station to find out what the hell was going on, the road's name is Sharp & the light is now a red light rather than a flashing one! Once we got that squared away, we were able to find it with ease. We arrived at, as J so precisely put it when telling our story in the morning, "12:46" in the morning. The greeting committee had folded up their tents and everyone was asleep. We roamed up & down all 4 wings of the lodge, giggling like mad, as we looked for our names next to a door. The last room on the 4th wing was ours. We met two other gals from the church who had also gotten in late and stood commiserating in the common for a few minutes before collapsing into our separate bunks & falling asleep.
In the morning, we had breakfast in the dining hall. My OT prof, Laura, & her boyfriend, Felix, came & sat with us, the other late arrivals, and one more lesbian couple. The hired guitar for the weekend joined us, as well. After breakfast, J & I joined Laura's Book of Ruth workshop. She had written a script from the Book of Ruth & we did a dramatic reading of that, with much hilarity and an equal measure of serious inquiry. Laura assigned me the role of Narrator, since I'm "good at reading hard words", as she put it. J played Boaz & Don played Ruth. There was much giggling over the references to feet. Funny that we're all adults. During the workshop, Laura referred to me as "one of my stellar students", which made me feel good.
After the workshop, we scooted upstairs to set up for my joy workshop. It was well-attended (probably about 25) and well-liked. We ran out of time quickly, so I left everything out for people to work on after lunch. I always love to see people's creations. I found out, during the workshop, that Lara and Toni are into altered books & things like that. Lara showed me a book of altered beer mats she had made. I'd love to make some. It would be fun to make little recipe books from those. Ooh, little drink recipe books would be perfect!
After lunch, it was quiet time for an hour. J napped for most of free time, catching up. But, I went out on the deck & socialized, inviting Toni & Lara to join our book group. They reciprocated by inviting us to come play in their Troy studio sometime. They also love to dine out & want us to come up to Troy for dinner at Coldwater Café sometime. I went in & cleaned up the joy space, then woke J from her doze. She joined me on the deck, to sit in Adirondack chairs & enjoy the afternoon sun. The view was just stunning, trees of all colors covered the hill across from us, with the hill reflected in the lake. People were canoeing & I wanted to join in, but my skills are rusty enough that I'd like to save it for when J & I are alone! I know enough not to drown or get stranded, but not enough to look like a good canoer. Canoeist?
The scavenger hunt was great fun, with all sorts of absurd things required of us. J's team won first prize. My team had a grand ol' time even though we won nothing. I will never forget Laura's team's song about eating cinnamon buns, complete with butt-slapping on the word "buns". We were each required to come up with a song about our retreat experience. I think Laura must have made the song up. She also had a grace for lunch that was the "Rock Around the Clock" grace. After the hunt was more free time.
Then, we had dinner, with the hoppers singing "Let Us Entertain You" and doing a kick line. Mo's comment before they started, when they were all loudly and enthusiastically greeting us & trying to entice us to their tables, was that all the extroverts must have signed up to be hoppers at the same meal. After dinner was the worship service. The lights were turned down low & a fire crackled in the great stone hearth. It was quiet & touching (except for the use of one praise song that drives J & I up a wall..."I'm desperate for you" or some such).
After worship came the night hike. We had a wonderful time doing that! The other Laura & her girlfriend, Sylvia, led it. We all had glow sticks to help us keep track of one another. We merrily tromped up the hill & into the woods, rustling leaves & gazing at stars as we went. J even saw a shooting star. The hike was ridiculously easy for us, accustomed as we are to the hard march back to my mom's. I was glad of it! When we got back, J wanted to lie in the grass & look up at the heavens. But, she settled for finding a spot by the bonfire & munching black pepper Doritos while we chatted with Lara & Toni. We were the last ones to go in. A few card games were scattered throughout the lodge & a group of people were watching a movie upstairs, but we snugged in with our books. J read Wayne Muller's Sabbath over the weekend, while I worked on our book group book. It's a really wonderful book by Jody Seay called The Second Coming of Curly Red.
Sunday morning, we had pancakes & lots of bacon for breakfast. The guest performer sat with us & she & I got into a conversation about seminary & about Nashville, which is her home for now. I got her contact info so I can interview her for the book. After breakfast, since it was looking rainish, we had the spiritual send-off on the deck instead of on a hilltop. We all gathered & read passages of spiritual import. I was given a saying of Buddha to read. There were lines from scripture, Victorian English poetry, a Sufi prayer. With everyone close together & leaves dancing down around us, it was breathtaking. J & I didn't want to leave. But, we packed up our belongings & hit the road. It had started raining hard. We chose, however, to head south toward Athens rather than north toward Columbus. The other Laura stuck her head out her car window & said, "What, are you afraid you'll get lost again?" much to our amusement. We were soon out of the rain & driving through Ohio hill country with reds, oranges, and yellows rolling upward to either side of us. It was a wonderful backroads excursion, leaving us both relaxed & happy.
Once back in our neck of the woods, we hit Town & Country for a little shopping. I got a new watch that I love. It's got a square face with rhinestones lining the edges & scattered inside so that they move when I move my arm. Best of all, it was less than $15. I picked up an angel that says "Faith" on it for my stepmom, who was just diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. Dammit. I haven't yet met her, but I feel awful about it. I am fixing up a care package for her, with the angel, vanilla caramel tea, Ghirardelli, lavender lotion & shower gel, and some soft purple slipper socks. I don't know if she'll feel like having chocolate or not, but it can't hurt to include that. We also poked around in the bookstore before heading out for dinner at Grindstone Charley's. We had planned on dining at Figlio, but they're closed Sundays. We had some good steaks, anyway.