Category: grab bag

The Introvert’s Guide to a Residency at Hypatia-in-the-Woods

IMG_2085Your Arrival:
You will see trees.  There will be many, many trees and long gravel roads leading deeper and deeper into a new realm.  Sunlight will filter down through feathery cedar branches while you hear the distant rumble of barges on Hammersley Inlet.  Walk through the labyrinth.  Do not step on the banana slugs.

The Unpacking: 
You will see Holly House with its mossy roof, and you will marvel that it appears to be bigger on the inside, like Doctor Who’s Tardis.  Note: Holly House does not travel through space or time…maybe.  You will find a cozy porch with falling leaves, deck chairs, and birdsong.  You might enjoy working out there, or at the kichen table, or on the couch, or possibly the floor.  Change it up.  Get crazy.  In the living room, you will see two large teddy bears wearing outfits knitted by Elspeth.  Don’t be nervous.  The bears are not watching you.  Read through the joyous guest book entries of former residents.  The teddy bears are not watching you.

The People:
You will encounter gracious and spirited women who will welcome you.  They like to knit and drink wine and converse over dinner, but they understand if you are busy working or if you are not the social type.  If you are lucky and it’s summer, Carolyn may give you bounty from her garden, or Maitri will share plums.
If you are a writer, enjoy attending one of the writer’s group sessions on Wednesdays.  The gang will be kind and ruthlessly insightful if you allow them to critique your work, and you will enjoy reading theirs.
Hypatia herself will probably not show up in person.  She died in 415 AD.  However, meditate on this wise, uppity, heroic woman as you create your wise, uppity art, you heroine you.

IMG_2084Nights in the Woods:
It is dark.  You are alone with the maples and the firs.  There will be the ticktock of moths flinging themselves into the windowpanes.  You will hear skitterings.  Do not be afraid, the earth is your home too.  The teddy bears are not watching you.  You may hear barred owls partying in the tree branches outside.  They love to party, and also to gab about it with each other.  Loudly.  I merely eavesdropped, and did not try to join any owl conversations.  You will work late into the night, writing poems or essays or making art or music.

Out on the town:
You will need exercise.  You may do a 3.7 mile run on the Huff n Puff Trail (if you go around all the loops twice, as I did).  The wide, well maintained forest trail loops and swirls through a conifer forest that is so shady you will not need sunscreen.
You will spend many, many days writing at Urraco Coffee Co, Sage Bookstore, and the Library.
You may dine at various Shelton restaurants, like Xinh’s and Smoking Mo’s.  Smoking’ Mo’s is now one of my favorite restaurants anywhere.  But I like meat.
You will go to the Olympia Farmer’s Market.  It is in a covered pavilion and there is a big free parking lot.  Lovely people, gorgeous produce.  I bought some coconut lime roasted almonds and a big bag of vegetables.

IMG_2083Your Departure:
You will take some time to clean up after yourself, of course.  You will take a moment to enter your own musings into the Holly House Guest Book.  You will realize that you won’t ever come back here, but that you will take this place with you.

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If you’re looking for a place to camp on your way across Oregon, and you’re on I-84 near Pendleton, this is a pretty sweet campground at Emigrant Springs State Heritage Area.  They have tent and RV sites as well as cabins for rent.  It’s incredibly clean, the fir trees are massive, and the elevation up here in the Blue Mountains is about 4,000 feet, which might not seem like much if you’re coming from the Cascades or the Rockies, but it’s definitely a nice lift out of the heat of the surrounding valleys.  The bathrooms are some of the cleanest I’ve ever encountered, with free showers that have nice anterooms with wall hooks and benches for your clothes!  And actual handsoap at the sinks – I nearly fell over.

A couple of downsides: the sites are somewhat close together without much privacy shrubbery, and the Interstate, while not visible, was incredibly loud.  I couldn’t help hoping that the animals are used to it and not going mad, because there’s no avoiding the unending sound of big trucks.

The best sites (I thought) were A18, A20, and A25.  They’re treed and set against a hillside on the way into the main loop – lovely and as private as possible.  You can find images of a lot of campground sites at    Handy for when you’re reserving online.

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Read my second and last Elsewhere blog post here.  I am a different person after 5 wonderful months in Paonia, Colorado.

The view from my room. Tail of Tomato da Housecat in the foreground.
Cross country skiing on the irrigation ditch trail above the town of Paonia.

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Read my blog post for Elsewhere Studios here.  And then stick around to read blogs from all the other wonderful residents!

Elsewhere’s fabulous kiln-fired shot glass collection.

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