We did absolutely nothing most of the weekend up here at Mom's cabin, except of course that Terry cooked the Thanksgiving dinner and did a bang-up job, and we have just sort of vegged all weekend. It is an utter delight being up here with just the four of us and Mom. Talk about Thankful!!!
It is so quiet up here . . . except when we let Theo watch the "Spongebob" marathon heh heh. And then I had this little bout with what started as a scary pain in my chest . . . the very nice local EMTs came and did an EKG at midnight, and said I was fine but that Tallis was right to have me call them . . . I was really embarrassed. They said better safe than sorry. Whew.
I wish we didn't have to go tomorrow . . .
Oh and I blocked this - we had a horrific and vitriolic attack by our Dear Crazy Neighbor - seems he was watching like a hawk from his house as we took Theo down to the dock to fish with his new fishing pole, and Dear Crazy Neighbor descended upon us in a rage because Mom had sat on a log by the side of the trail at the dock head, with her feet on the trail - video camera in hand, he tried to catch us in the act of breaking some weird rule in his head that she was somehow "on his property". Arrrggh. Made Theo very upset, and I cried . . . He shouted "Get on the dock or leave my property!" , then accused us of lying, saying folks had come to his house and said we were liars, and as he left his toxically-furious parting shot was "It's gonna be a great summer!"
Am praying for him . . . the man needs serious help . . .
Oh and . . . in the mail on Friday we got a nice certificate from the Bayou City Film Festival saying that we won an "Honorable Mention" in their "Best Feature Film Competition". So that makes three, the Redemptive Storyteller award, the Best of the Northwest award from Bendfilm, and the nice folks in Texas.
Bless them! Hoping that a few winner laurels on the postcard and the site will look good to that eventual sainted distributor that I pray about meeting every day . . .
"Maturity is the ability to delay gratification." - attributed to Jung
Well, it was interesting . . . playing in an unjuried festival for the first time was odd to say the least, though you got to love those WYSIWYG folks, they sure know how to pray! They prayed for the movie and for me, and for every other movie . . . it was such a different atmosphere than most festivals :)
The meeting with the distributor went well on Thursday. We are in a discernment process, of course, to know how to proceed. In my talks with both producer's reps that have approached us, and in this talk with an actual distributor, I have been cautious because Larry is so cautious, and I don't want to say or do anything that might be incorrect. Nothing has seemed like The Thing to Do yet to Larry, and I trust him, and live with my hunger to sell this movie and get on to the next one. Went to hear Kathleen Norris last night with Terry and Scott and Pam, and saw Luci there.
If you happen to know anyone in San Francisco, please tell them to come to 1970 Ocean Avenue for the WYSIWYG Festival and see "The Dark Horse". Thanks!
I flew in last night, driving to the hotel amidst rampant street glee all over San Francisco. Three black guys ran at my car, screaming "OBAMA!" which would have been a hair disconcerting, if they weren't giggling so hard.
Talked to Terry on the phone, and we both keep spontaneously tearing up, have ever since I head the speech over my cell phone as Terry held our home phone to the home T.V., as I drove to the hotel last night. It is just so unbelievable! The Doonsbury cartoon this morning says it all, I don't have it here before me, but Terry read it to me as I waited in line to sign in at the festival this morning, while a happy woman danced by us singing "I have a black President!". In the cartoon, three soldiers are in a foxhole in Iraq, and the black one is celebrating, and the white one says "Hey, he is half white too you know!" Everyone is claiming him today :) As the mother of a mixed-race child, I am getting teary all over again. Sniff.
So we screen tonight, and I meet with several distributors tomorrow at 11 am PST, if you have a spare prayer! I have no idea who will show up tonight, but at least my getting up at 6:30 this morning bore fruit - I was 5th in line and will screen in my chosen time slot! YAY!
Anyway, I am deeply thankful to be here, though I wish I could be with Terry today. It has been a very long wait to experience this kind of stunned joy.
Tomorrow I am boarding a 200.00 priceline flight for San Francisco to go to the WYSIWGY Fillm Festival, which may be the maddest thing I have yet done with this movie. It is a really weird one, it is unjuried and the audience votes at ten minutes in whether or not they want the movie to go on (I know, huh?), but I just watched the first ten minutes of the movie on Ben's advice, and it actually sets the story up pretty well, and leaves you tantalized, at the ten minute mark. So . . . for 200 bucks I am gonna head down there. And pray. Cause they are having every filmmaker who screens get meetings with several distributors. And having two recent festival wins under our belt is a nice way to go in. At least I hope so!!!
Won't know when we are screening until Wednesday but we will screen that day, they say, if I get there early enough (GROAN!!!!). Doors open at 9am. I hate that so much.
Ben is tweaking the gorgeous "Dark Horse" press pack he made even as we speak, and that is incredible since we are both doing NaNoWriMo this year!
Hoping my bod holds out . . . any spare prayers gratefully appreciated!
Well they really gave me one, a lovely trophy designed by the same firm that makes the Oscars *grin* - "The Dark Horse" got its second award. And there was much rejoicing! Here are some pictures, one with my new friend Dondra Vaughn and me (she made a heartbreaking and beautiful doc called "Blinding Faith" about a minister in India who had to sign his own death warrant to be able to preach). One is with Joshua Weigel, who made an astonishing 168 film called "Stained", shot on a Red Camera, that just plain took my breath away with its quality. But of course my favorite movie (other than mine!) was the gorgeous, heartfelt "Pie 'N Burger" by the amazing Clare Sera and her Act One team. I knew many of the folks in the credits, and I was so very glad it won.
Doctor Chris Cunningham also asked which filmmakers had come the farthest to the festival, and both Father Christopher Wolf, S.J. (who came from Germany with his amazing doc about people doing prayer retreats at Auschwitz called "In Spite of Darkness: A Spiritual Encounter with Auschwitz") and me, who came all the way from Seattle heh heh. So they gave us scheduling and budgeting software! Yay!
We did not see Pat Robertson, but we saw his horses . . . his house is on campus, walking distance to CBN, and his horses are behind alarm-equipped electric fences. Truly astonishing.
Having written my 2k words today on my novel for NaNoWriMo and received my award, I am finally going to bed! Can't wait to get home tomorrow and see my family! Our screening was embarrassing yesterday with its technical difficulties (Argh I am so frustrated with home DVD production!), but at least Dondra and her Mom saw the movie. Instad of watching it for the nine millionth time, I got to go to a radio interview with Greg Gregoire of "The Jesus Film Project", which was fascinating. Spent all afternoon getting to know Greg, and chatted with his lovely wife a bit at the ice cream social last night. Some truly incredible folks. Sadly the lady who interviewd me in 2006 to possibly direct their movie "Magdalena: Released From Shame", Jill Schrag, is no longer with the project. I hope that was not too sad a parting, I really liked her.
So many wonderful people to meet. I am glad I came. Bless Dr. Cunningham and his incredibly hard-working team! May this festival proper.
I am back in Seattle after a variously entertaining, upsetting, lonely, expensive, and fun trip. Saw some amazing films - the quality of art was very high throughout, in my opinion. Met all sorts of fabulous and great-to-know people, including two possibilities for representation for the film. Got to hang out with my DG buddies - the best thing of all. Had dear Nathan sit with me through the interminable awards ceremony and stay with me through the interminable final party and drive me home - bless him!
Such a different homecoming that the one last weekend when I was carrying a trophy . . . ever hopeful that we will sell this, trophies or not.
Trying to scrape myself together to get back on the horse and get back to work with Ben.
Well . . . it sure was fun to see Haynes and Matt and Camilla and Nathan and Don and Kitty! That ROCKED! They came to the screening, and then The DG guys and I went out to dinner at a fabulous British Restaurant and I had a chocolate souffle to die for. That was the wonderful part.
However, it was 90 - some degrees outside, and the screening started 40 minutes late and then started without sound, so they had to re-play the first 3 minutes again, which was not my favorite thing in the world, and then because the whole schedule was so late, the movie after us with its crowd of excited folks came into the lobby and talked very loudly over my very-quiet movie. And the industry guys who were sposed to come of course didn't, which worked out okay because if the very-late start, actually.
These things happen. Poor film festival gals and guys, they are working so hard, and this is such a great festival, sometimes these glitches happen, what cha gonna do?
I got a great interview with Leslie La Page, founder of the Festival, for my documentary, and of course interviews with Matt, Nathan, and Camille at the Vancil house later, which was a blast. And we watched a silly Cartoon Network show for hours, which was just my speed after a long day.
Slow morning today. Bout to start watching films and then party tonight, seminars tomorrow and awards dinner tomorrow (Sunday) night. Win or lose, that is a wonderful, exciting spectacle here, if it is like last time.
I am sitting in my nicely-discounted hotel room (thank you La Femme Film Fest!) and drinking green tea, about to get ready to go to my screening. As before, when I screened here three years ago with "Dancing With You", I was very impressed with the way this festival is run. Leslie La Page and her staff are geniuses at making a felicitous experience for everyone.
I am full of gratitude for all the hundreds of people, from Honorable Bird and the Sainted Investors on, who made this crazy independent film of mine a reality. Whether I win a prize here or not, it is a complete joy and honor to screen at this festival.
Time to put makeup on over my scar and step out into 80 degrees and L.A. traffic.
I am really tired, it is 3 am, and I just got back from the third of the after-parties . . .
But here are pictures and I am going to bed really happy hugging my gorgeous trophy . . .
God bless every sponsor and volunteer and employee and patron of the delightful and wonderful BendFilm Fest Here it is: proof that no matter when your movie screens (as "Dark Horse" has seemingly always screened at the crack of dawn!) they can still honor you with a glorious award:) Take heart all you fellow striving filmmakers!
"Dark Horse" screened this morning at 10:30, to an amazingly-packed house of 65 people. I expected the usual morning screening of five people and was very pleasantly surprised. Also, they truly loved it, and told me so, which was wonderful! The founder of the award for women directors was there. I do not think she is a juror, more's the pity; she gushed.
After the screening two different festivals came up, handed me their cards, and said that I was in their festival if I wanted to be: Astoria and Ashland. That was certainly unprecedented!
And, miracle of miracles, who should walk in but my friend Karen Holm, whom I have known since I was 9 and she was 8! She could not remember my email and had not let me know she was coming, so I was utterly overjoyed. We spent the afternoon together and I got her in to several things, which was fun. I saw the house that she and her partner have renovated, and it is charming and light-filled and full of tasteful art. It sings. She bought me lunch and I came back to the hotel for a quick change of clothes and then went to the "Meet the Filmmakers" party, followed by the "Industry Party" for filmmakers only. There I met some really great people, including Marya Mazor, the brilliantly-talented director of the short that screened before "Dark Horse", called "The Winged Man", which is a stunningly-lovely film done with magical realism, AFI backing, a Jose Rivera script, and a whole lot of heart. She is really going places. (Case in point, she has a meeting with A Very Big Star next week for her next project - wow).
I also had a GREAT talk with Scilla Andreen, Carlo Sanducci's business partner in Indieflix. She was very persuasive . . . :)
And I met Curt Ellis, who did that fabulous doc I saw last year called "King Corn", and he said that going to film markets, like Ben and I want to do next month, is really a good idea, not because you sell it right there, but because when you get it done, they have had 15 minutes with you and will take your calls and look at your next movie. All the distribution he has gotten has been from folks he met at independent film markets. I am encouraged that our plan to go to LA next month might not be that stupid. Wish I had thought of going to IFP though, as that is where he made his best contacts, he said. :( It was last month.
They are all going on to a bar, but I came back to the hotel, I am really tired.
I did let one of the fest folks know that I do not think it is fair for some films to have multiple screenings, and ones like mine to only have one. On a Friday morning. So that everyone I meet can't come. Five or six of the features here have two or more screenings. Bit unusual, most fests I have been to either give everybody one, or everybody two, like SIFF does.
I am talked out- my voice is a wreck from shouting at parties, I am in a very chemical-laden hotel room - and still it is a hugen mind-boggling, grateful-tears-inducing privilege to be here, and to have folks talk so kindly about my film. Many times at the party folks would introduce me and the reaction would be "Oh I have heard such fabulous things about that movie!"
Ever hopeful that I can someday sell this and get on to Camilla!
It took me 8 lonely long hours to drive here over the mountain pass of Mount Hood in the snow. Scary! I have determined to go home by way of The Dalles, as they say that is easier. First snowstorm of the year here in Bend. Not my favorite thing. I do not drive well in snow.
I am staying in a hotel, the Phoenix Inn, that told me their carpets are not new. Alas, they are; the room stinks to high heaven. So I have the window open to its maximum of four inches, and the icy air is pouring over me. Been in the room twenty minutes and the chemical soup is already giving me a headache. I may need to drive home tomorrow if I can't handle the room, which would be a shame, as I really like the atmosphere here. Lots of people say it feels like Park City, and it is not just the snow, it is the energy. A very lively, loud, packed crowd for the opening screening and party that I arrived late to this evening. I went straight from the car, in my jeans, and was underdressed. But as this is Bend, OR, not everyone was all fancy, so it was okay. Phew.
At first, at the party, I stood in a corner clutching a coffee I was not drinking (am allergic) for something to hold, and smiled vaguely and politely at the passing people, feeling very lonely and wondering why the heck I had come.
After about fifteen minutes of this, a very nice blond lady named Sandy, who turned out to be the head of the entire festival, came over and asked why I was standing by myself. I said it was because I didn't know anybody, and she introduced herself, said that she really loved my movie (love her!), and introduced me to two nice gents in dapper leather jackets who are here to see the festival. Later she brought a lovely lady over who is the founder of the BendFilm Faerie Godmother award for women filmmakers, who of course I was very very glad to meet. Bless her. And I met one other filmmaker. The rest of it was me being as nice as I could and trying to hand out as many postcards as possible for tomorrow's - you guessed it - 10:30 a.m. screening. Sigh. I will probably have four people there again, just like I had at my early-morning screenings in Texas and Oklahoma. Ever hopeful!
I am going to try to go to sleep now with all this chemical smell. I brought my charcoal filter mask but, wierdly, the filter in it still smells like Plane Chemicals, as I forgot to wash the cotton mask and change the filter after Oklahoma, and I seem to have not brought a clean filter . . . DOH! *fingers crossed*
If I can get through this weekend physically unscathed, it will be a miracle, with all these chemical. It will help to spend all day watching movies!
And next weekend in L.A., at the fabulous La Femme Film Festival, I will not have the option of driving home if it gets physically rough to handle, but there I can surely leave the window wide open, as the weather will certainly not be 30 degrees in October :)
At the end of the month I am going to Virginia for the Regent-College sponsored "Redemptive Film Festival", in which all the films screening have already won awards. Very unusual and very nice of them :) I screen at that one on Oct. 31 at 1pm.
The next two festivals are in Bend, OR and in L.A. Bend is Friday October 10 at 10:30 am *cringe*. I am expecting a small audience of course, as we are screening so darn early :(
High hopes not to go in the early morning in L.A. at the La Femme Film Festival (http://www.lafemme.org/) but I do not know our slot yet. It would be SO nice to have an evening slot for once!!! October 16-19, Fine Arts Theatre Venue 1 & 2. *fingers crossed*
Ever hopeful . . . beginning pre-pre-pre-production again on the next one, which we can't really begin till we get some money from somewhere. Like, maybe, selling the first one? *looks hopefuly heavenward*
This morning I went to church at my new friend Ronda's church, "Fresh Fire Outreach Center", here in Shawnee. Talk about life-changing. The worship was wonderful and healing, the sermon was uplifting, the people were incredibly welcoming, and as is typical in very "alive" churches, worship went for two hours, and then four amazing ladies stayed afterwards for half an hour to pray for me and for "The Dark Horse". They want to bring me back to Shawnee to have a special screening in the Hornbeck Theatre, and I want to come! Turns out Ronda, who volunteered at the festival, is the chair of the downtown association.
Out of this festival have come two friends, Sandy and Ronda. That is very worth the price of admission.
I know this movie will come out. And that our struggle is not with flesh and blood alone . . . good to be reminded though.
We didn't win. Zero for three. Tomorrow I will be all happy for my friend Sandy whose film about losing the farm won the "Seriously Good Movie" award. Tonight I am very sad and drowning my sorrows in Lord of the Rings Online. Lookout Orcs, Corrie needs to escape reality tonight; cruel reality that has me holed up in a moderately yucky hotel room in a small town in Oklahoma with no laurel leaves for my poster yet, except three "Official Selection" ones.
Here's hoping we have better luck at the Bend Film Festival.
Here I sit in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the quintessential Small Town, at the Southern Winds Film Festival. The next-door state, Texas, is in the middle of a hurricane, so the rains are torrential. My film screened yesterday at noon, the first slot of the day. As with the Texas festival I went to in July, we had six people in the theatre. We screened first in the day there too. I will test my theory about that tonight at the awards cermony - I suspect that they program winners in the evening slots in these small festivals, as there is an audience then.
It is so surreal being here after being in Ireland a week ago... I had three days home then jumped on an all night flight to get here for a TV station interview (which they weren't ready to do, so it got put off 5 hours grrr). I have slept here two nights and will one more, as the plane reservations were way cheaper if you stayed another day. Tomorrow I hope to get some writing done.
I have watched all sorts of things I never would have been exposed to, including a doc about "Okie Noodling", a sort of muddy river hand-fishing sport where you reach down in the mud and catch huge river catfish from underwater tunnels. Oh, and it happens to be illegal in some states. I have passed, and smelled, two dead skunks, and a live one walked down Main Street yesterday night before the Outdoor Screening.
I get all sorts of comments on my hair. Hair is big here. Wish I had brought my video camera for the doc I am shooting about that.
I met another very nice lady filmmaker, Sandy, who made a movie about saving the farm...sigh.
Met some nice guys here from LA with a very funny short film with a SAG cast called "Man's Best Friend." They wisely give out copies of it to everyone. A DVD of one's short is a very good CV.
I am fighting the loneliness as much as possible. It is a privilege for any filmmaker to be invited to any film festival anywhere. I miss my three boys so much . . . and home.
They are very sweet and very grateful to have us here. Fingers crossed for the awards ceremony...
Oh my . . . got up at 6 am, flew from Dublin to Amsterdam, but the Aer Lingus flight was delayed, ran like a panting bunny through Amsterdam airport to try to make my formerly 45-minute connection (???) that was now 20 minutes . . . missed the flight . . . rerouted to Detroit, waited two hours there finishing LOTR (the Battle of the Pellenllor Fields in the long Amsterdam security line), flew 8 hours to Detroit, waited an hour there, then flew 5 hours home and was very glad to see Terry after 25 hours of airports and planes!!!
I am whupped.
And now I wait for my mailed box of riding boots and laundry to arrive!
Oh and I should mention one thing that both Terry and Megan didn't get: if you right-click on the pictures on this blog the pictures are nice and big.
Our last day was completely astonishing, of course.
We got up early for a last breakfast in Cashel House and hit the road for a long and lovely sunny day rather like a road movie. We drove across Galway and up to Westport, Castlebar, then across County Mayo to Sligo, where by smelling it out (and Megan's strong Irish Instincts calling her) we found at last the path up to Maeve's Tumulus. We had a long, joyful and breathless hike up to the hilltop, where after an hour's walk we finally achieved the glory of standing upon the sacred cairn and looking out over Sligo's two bays, Strandhill, and the glorious blue Atlantic. We had our tears and our prayers. I sand "The Parting Glass" and "May the Road Rise Up to Meet You" and "Sing Alleluia", and we put our stones into the cairn. I brought a stone all the way from the beach at Indian Point for our ceremony. It was beautiful. Then we stood and just enjoyed the light sea wind, and watched a rain cloud blow up, and looked over Ireland and said goodbye for now. Sniff. But with a big grateful grin.
Then we drove across Roscommon, Longford, and Meath to Dublin Town, and by Megan's dead reckoning found the Best Western miraculously, along the Liffey River of many buses and off the rather intimidating O'Connell Street. We got a bit settled (I got stuck in the service elevator . . . a wee bit tired) then Dan Carollo (one of the composers for "Dark Horse", the fabulous Celtic guitar player!) and his lovely wife Susan arrived, and they showed us a bit of the town (the Post Office of Easter Uprising fame) as we went out for dinner (Baileys Ice Cream!) and traditional music at a bar called Goherty's. It was so much fun I could hardly stop grinning!~ Megan was sad that they sullied one of her favorite songs, that her mother used to sing to her, "Molly Malone", with jokes, but other than that it was magical :) What fun to see friends and colleagues from Seattle in Dublin!
And now I am going to try to sleep as my wake up call is 6:30 am and I have to fly to Amsterdam for some unknown reason tomorrow before flying to Seattle . . . grunk.
I really hate to go. It has been a perfect vacation. I will miss me Megan Merry McCormick a lot. We turned out once again to be fine travelling companions once we got all the sisterly stuff sorted, and she was very kind to let me do my favorite Long Drive in the Sun thing, bless her, with very few white knuckles. It has been since college since we have travelled together for a long period of time, and it was a treat. "Sheep!" - Megan
"Here comes the Dry Rain!" "You know why the Pope said no women praysts, you know? Cause they would talk too much in confessional." "I think I should be a Norman, then I could have two wives." - Padraigh Connelly the Inimitable
It is going to be difficult blogging on my phone after a long wallow of a very hot bath in the peat-colored water of Cashel House, lying between extremely soft Irish linen sheets as Megan showers over there ... Zzzz... Oh yes, where was I?
Today we went to the Aran Islands!!! Well to the biggest one, Inish More.
We got up early and had a nice Irish breakfast (including my lovely Porridge and Whole Wheat Sodabread). Then we drove to the ferry landing, once more not trusting our instincts and going far enough, and arriving late and nearly missing the boat. The ride over was extremely hairy as the boat prow beneath us smashed into the 10-foot rollers. Megan felt sick and had to go on deck. Special times in the Atlantic.
Took about an hour to get there. Once into the harbor we perused the line of buses with distaste. Megan declared she did not want to go in another diesel-smelling vehicle. Just then a nice sixtyish Irishman called Padraigh Connelly came up hat in hand and politely asked if we would like a tour of the island in his horse trap, for only 25 Euros. Would we EVER!!! In joy, we followed him to his lovely green side-seat carriage and his sweet little mare Grace, and then proceeded a wonderful 5 hours of exploration of the island as we clopped behing wee Grace. SUCH FUN!
The wind was sweet and fair off the Atlantic, with many long doses of the Yellow Thing, and only 3 or 4 monsoons. We saw the seal colony, lots of Connemaras and Irish Cobs in pastures and in fellow carts, lovely houses old and new and walls that were probably 2,000 to 3,000 years old. He showed us houses abandoned in the Famine, but he said 800 or people so came over to the Island in the Famine time as the fishing was so good. We saw graveyards with gorgeous Celtic crosses, and the flat rocky landscape that he said was all there was till settlers made the earth out of seaweed and sand and manure and imported peat. Inch by inch they piles stones for walls and made earth. Padraigh said the biggest trade used to be peat for fish, as there are no peat bogs on the island, but very good springs.
He left us at the base of the great hill fort Dun Aengus, and we had a long merry climb up the switchbacked hill to the high-stone-walled eyrie above the sea. Utterly glorious cliffs like the Cliffs of Moher, only crowned with an astonishing hill fort. Megan got Archeological and taught me a bit about it till the monsoon drove us down the hill for postcards.
We explored the ancient church that dated from 700 AD - sigh- I put a stone on the small altar of stones for Indian Point and Towhee both, and I prayed for our loved ones living and dead. Then back in the trap (with one more nice lady fromSpain aboard) for the exploration of the only other road on the island, the High Road. On it we saw old style thatched roof houses and a wee leprechaun house like the one we had seen by Dun Aengus. Padraigh said the leprechauns were all in the pub.
It was over too soon and we had to say goodbye to Padraigh and Grace. We wandered through the sweater shops, tried on many and did not buy one, had a scone and off to the quai for the much-less-bouncy ride back. On the way back once again Megan was convinced we were lost and wanted to ask everyone the way, but when we finally did ask we were once more on the exact right road, we just hadn't been patient enough to get to the next intersection :)
We had a nice, long, leisurely pub dinner and discussed things near and dear to the two of us; what at Whitman we would have called an "HDR". And once again we were wat too sleepy to go out to a pub for music that started at 10pm; a good thing too as we had to get all packed to load out tomorrow bright and early for 6 hours in the car!
I hate to leave Connemara; am very glad we chose this place to hunker down for three very horsey days :)
The second day riding was even more fabulous than the first, if you don't count the inevitable saddle sores. I could not justify buying half-chaps, because somewhere back home there is a pair in some trunk...yay for the pocketbook and boo for the leg skin :)
Really makes my want to start riding again when I get home . . . with more leg protection that is . . .
We went down to the dining room for breakfast. I am so happy that the chef has promised me the recipe for the dark grain soda bread of delight!
Then we did our best to get out the door, managing once again to be late to the stable alas, but of course they were still assigning hats and boots so it was fine. The weather was much less fine than the First Ride, there was the occasional bucket-dumoing rain - very glad for my REI raincoat :).
They gave Megan "Boots", not "Rocky", which was a step up as she could actually walk out. When they had taken Megan off the lead line on the first ride she had had a hard time helping Rocky keep up. I rode the patient mule-eared Bess again.
Our first event, after the riding skills test in which Megan wisely chose not to canter after all, was the monsoon-blown ride up the hill. Bess, like the other horses, did it in a sort of a half-pass, tail to the wind and face away. I took her advice and followed suit.
The Yellow Thing came out part of the long merry way to the beach, and shone intermittently thereafter, to our joy.
This was to be a three hour tour *wink* but ended up being much longer...ahhhh. The wide sand ithsmus between the main island and the smaller one was about a mile wide in places, and the kind wrangler would go trotting on ahead with the newer riders and leave the three of us more experienced riders far behind, and she was so far away across the sand that we could not even see her signal and had to guess when they had settled, before starting our whooping, glorious hand gallop across the water-packed golden sand. I shouted "Forth Eorlingas!" And the French co-riders didn't care:) Total glee. Nice Bess is so beach-patterned by now that she doesn't shy at bits of flotsam on the sand, only on the road.
Then we got to the island, about half the size of Iona, and wandered its lovely rocky roads with merry grins pasted on our faces, admiring the Connemara mare and foal and donkey friend in one rock-walled pasture (picture coming at the airport if not before, I promise!).
As we turned for the return trip I could not help singing, I was so happy. I sang "The Whistling Gypsy" and "The Parting Glass" (though Megan tried to stop me as it was Too Painful, so I sang it under my breath for just Bess) and "The Trees, They Grow High", and "The Golden Vanity"... The monsoon stopped my singing and thoroughly drenched us-ran down under us so that we were sitting in puddles- a new trail experience for me-and once again I followed Bess' lead and turned away from it.
At the barn we reluctantly dismounted with much dramatic groaning (it has been about 8 months since I have ridden, sadly) and then I had the joy of watching the beautiful Siobhan school her second-level warmblood in the driving monsoon. Poetry in motion. Later, after she was done, she told me that after schooling in a muddy-all-year monsoon-prone, windy little arena, when she goes to compete, her horse sails in indoor arenas and is thoroughly unflappable.
We tore ourselves from the place with great reluctance, and drove home through the second rainbow of the day.
In town we had pub grub Irish Stew again for Megan, Tikka Masala for me, then did a little light shopping (ahem) for presents before grinning our way home to Cashel House, where we went down to the sea by the hotel for some Ritual Moments with thistles at Magic Hour before retiring early.
Because we are about to go on the Aran Island Ferry this morning!!
Ah Megan is doing her baby noises about to wake up, and Irish Breakfast is imminent! Off again to the sea for our second-to-last day here:)
Yes, today we did it. We rode equines in Connemara by the sea (and in it!).
Once more I woke and showered before tired jet-lagged Megan, and she grogged awake at ten. I remember that feeling . . . poor lady. The front desk called about 10:30 to see if we wanted breakfast (they are hurting for business a bit since the American tourists haven't been showing up as much this year, consequently they treat us like queens). We relented (we were going to settle for apples and tea) and let them send up a very nice breakfast, including fresh boiled eggs from their hens, fresh hothouse berries from here, real marmalade on dark sodabread, nice porridge, and lovely tea.
Then we motivated enough to go outside, and we strolled the grounds, admiring the fabulous tree ferns, until I oriented myself to find the horses - a lovely young bay horse being warmed -up on a longe line in the muddy outdoor arena, and many lovely lovely horses in their loose boxes. Megan photographed them making friends with me.
Then we found Megan's pile of barn cats. kittens everywhere and two very pregnant queens, ruddy brindle lovelies and black and white ones . . climbing all over the pile of cut peat. :)
We investigated the tack shop they have here for Cashel House Stud, and wonder of wonders, they happened to have the very short paddock boots that I have been trying to find for about 10 years, and in my size. Now, who could resist that, I ask you? Not me!
We went in to the front desk to inquire about riding, and Mrs. McEvilly, the lovely sweet owner of Cashel House, called ahead to the stable, which she said was a 45 minute drive away. Or so. (The man in the office said "ch, at least an hour, ladies.") So we got all sunblocked and in already-worn clothes (and my new boots *wacky-happy grin*) and piled into the car to drive to Cleggan for our ride. Um, the roads weren't well marked, and the directions were not accurate, and suffice to say we had a few swear words shared lovingly between us as we went down every single road in the small town before Cleggan, until finally after our third asking of directions along Sky Road, a nice grey heaired lady gardening in her rocky yard pointed us to a road we had gone down four times already, back and forth. Sigh. We made it just as they were beginning to assign the horses and get all the 9 riders booted. PHEW!!
breathing, we signed up and got our horse assignments - Megan on asweet sleepy Gypsy Cob looking pinto gelding called "Rocky" and me on a sensitive, patient, dull-sided (of course) and donkey-eared mare called "Bess".
We went to the little muddy arena, mounted up and did a few passes at the gaits to see who could do what. I was warned that Bess would probably not take the proper lead at the canter, but I just gently supported her into it and she did fine, though I know she needs either chiropractic work or a back surgeon from the stiffness of her gait. When Siobhan came to tighten my girth for me, she said "You ride beautifully" under her breath, with a quick smile. Which was nice of her. But then again she is used to tourii with sack-of-potatoes riding :)
And we set out. Two Middleaged Middle-Earth-Dwelling Ladies in Connemara. It was a nice hack to the beach, past lovely crumbly walls and the ubiquitous coreopsis lilies and bracken and heather and blackberries - the nice kind. Cars politely pulled over as we passed by. And then we were there- on the glorious, Mediterranean-blue seashore, with white soft sand and lovely round hills and the bay, and our friend the Yellow Thing shining merrily overhead. Sea wind in our hair, nice well-cared-for horses, surf and pure joy. They took the not-as-experienced folks for four long trots by the seashore, and the three of us with experience got to wait at the end of the long beach, and then gallop to the herd across the nice sea-packed sand, laughing the whole way. And then we all turned into the surf and rode through the waves. Ahhh . . . . . . One mare began to paw it like she was going to roll, and he sweet German lady aboard her did not understand the wrangler who was trying to tell her to get out of the sea, so I helped herd the mare away from a near-roll. Phew.
Then we had a nice trot up the road, and a slow meander back to the stable. And I sort of made my cheeks hurt from grinning so widely the entire time.
They only had us fill out one sheet with our riding experience on it, and one box to check that we knew that riding was dangerous, which contrasted utterly to the piles of insane paperwork in the SCA. How I wish it wasn't such a Big Deal there :(
We are planning to back tomorrow for a longer ride, through the surf, out to a little island in the bay, and then the next day we will go to the Aran Island that is right off the coast, and then to Maeve's Tomb and Dublin and home. I wish I could afford to hire a little cottage here near the stable, and write a screenplay involving Gypsy Cobs and Connemara Ponies in the surf . . . would only take a month . . . or three . . . *wicked grin*.
Megan called me Eowyn today, like she did in High School. We truly have wanted to do this most of our lives.
Ah, here comes the rain. Like Camelot it only seems to downpour at night, of course. *fingers crossed*
Megan and I are installed merrily in the Cashel House Hotel in - you guessed it - Cashel! We are overfed and tired from our stupendous day. We left Doolin and drove past the Cliffs of Moher to St. Brigid's Well, a miracle site attributed to St. Brigid. There we had a time of great emotion and longing, as Megan tied her mother's Irish lace handkerchief to the shrine, and we said prayers for our beloved dead.
We drove toward the sea and walked down the strand beside a lovely graveyard, near Liscannor, where we met a kind nettle-gatherer and dog rescuer called Dierdre. From there we travelled up the center of the Burren to Kilfenora, where we stopped for some potato soup in a lovely pub called Linnane's Irish Traditional Music Pub (too bad they weren't playing any at lunchtime heh heh - too interested in the football!). Then, a bit more north, I navigated us and Megan drove us to Cathair Chonaill Stone Fort, where an archaeological site likely to be a tomb was being excavated by a group of volunteers, including a professor from the University of Galway. They showed us a newly-found coin from Elizabethan days, as well as a pre-historic burial, chert pieces, and lots of pig bones. Megan was very very happy!!!
Reluctantly we pulled ourselves away and continued north to the Poulnabrone Portal Tomb, a megalithic masterpiece - four upright pieces holding a huge capstone that, like Pentre Ifan in Wales, used to be surrounded by a mound. There we were able to get close enough to the ground on non-privately-held land to be able to photograph lots of gorgeous Burren flowers, including campanula, bedstraw, meadowsweet, my friend the hart's tongue fern, and several other sorts of fern poking up out of the grikes.
We spoke a long while to a nice ranger who is sad about the 1 per cent of the 1500 visitors a day who pick flowers and take away rocks and deface the monument :( he says tour buses come in and he sees people taking bouquets of orchids away... *shudder*
The Burren is a truly astonishing place. How I wish I could bring Mom here!
Reluctantly again we moved Northward, but soon we were enchanted by the incredible views of the karst-rock hills with pastures leading right up to the exposed rocky hilltops. Lunar landscapes indeed.
We rounded the last Burren hill and entered Galway County, following its coastline around inlet after castle after inlet until we passed Galway town and came out into Connemara. On the way we passed the huge Connemara Pony Show and a long line of horse trailers. Sigh.
Then we entered the peat-and-heather-and gorse laden Connemara landscape that looked to us very like the Scottish Highlands, rolling hillocks, lochs, rounded female-looking mountains, sheep on the verges of the roads, lowering clouds with brief appearances by the round sky orb we call "The Yellow Thing" so as not to frighten it away. I only got us lost once on the long way up here - I swear there was no sign- really- and we finally arrived at 8. Megan looked at three different rooms before she settled on this third-floor one with ocean view.
Our new mottos, to help us not freak out while driving on the opposite side from usual on narrow roads with fast Irish drivers:
"Cuimhnigh a analaigh". (Pronounced "KWEEvnich uh aNAlig" - this means "Remember to breathe" :). The other is "Agus na scaoll" (AH-gus na scoil) which means "Don't panic!"
Of course there is no internet here :). So it is text-phone-blogging time for me. Will upload pics in Dublin I guess at the end of the trip.
This hotel is quite posh, and we are debating whether or not we should stay, but we are certainly here for one night and maybe two. On the grounds they have many famous gardens, including a rare tree collection, a heath garden, natural woodlands, a tack shop and a Connemara Pony stud farm. Ahem.
See why we want to stay? *enormous grin* But one thing is sure-we won't eat in the hotel's Amazing Restaurant again, even though they have a glorious harpist... And five courses ... And different china for every course...cause, well, we didn't know it was quite that posh :) Pub dinners from now on.
It sure was fun tonight though, we had a perfect meal, and sweet Megan even got me a champagne drink with strawbewrry in it. She is most thoughtful to have arranged this entire trip and to drive me everywhere and put up with my navigating and occasional white knuckles.
Tomorrow we may have to go see some ponies...Cashel House Stud is a famous and many-ribboned farm. *gleeful grin*
I am a joyful wife, mother, and filmmaker, currently screening my third feature film, West of Redemption, in many festivals across the USA:) My second and first films, and the webseries, are available on Amazon.com and many other venues.