It seems that Tom and I are becoming inadvertent advocates for a mode of life that speaks to earlier times: rather than take pictures to document our adventures on Saturday-last, we simply enjoyed the experiences and the time together.

We journeyed forth to the far-off land of Bonney Lake and the Washington summer Renaissance Faire at the Kelley Farm.

To avoid suspense, YES we enjoyed ourselves! I even purchased a couple items (a striped skirt/petticoat – too thin to be worn as a skirt with nothing underneath/on top; and a belt with four pouches on it to hold emergency meds and assorted teaching/driving materials while teaching in lieu of hanging a purse cross-body).

AND there were some rather important issues that people with mobility impairments might need to know about before heading out. We’ll talk about those first, since they almost made me give up before we left the car when we arrived!

There should have been handicap parking available, certainly when we arrived less than 20 minutes after the start time. But we were told by all the parking attendants that there was no more parking available – they shooed us on before we could ask if there was any way to get me closer to the gate before parking. More on that in moment.

The parking area is an old field. It is BUMPY to drive on with a car (now imagine a wheelchair…). There is grass that is knee-high in the areas that cars haven’t driven on (now imagine it twining through open wheels, and tripping a person with balance or neuropathy problems. There are areas spread with “bark” that includes large diameter (2″ or so) pieces of branches. Standard manual chairs can clear 1/4 to 1/2 inch without trouble going forward – up to 3 inches going backward for a very strong person, so you can see how that would be a problem. There is sand in places, and loose gravel. There was NO clear, level, navigable path from our car to the main gate.

In fact, I permanently stained part of my blouse getting there because Tom alone was not able to keep the chair moving over this very unfriendly, INACCESSIBLE terrain. At a couple points he tilted me backwards so the small wheels weren’t getting bogged down. He almost dumped me a couple times before he found that “solution.” So imagine how I felt when I had HAD it and told Tom to PUT.ME.DOWN and we looked up and saw … 10? 15? almost 20? spaces reserved for handicap parking just in front of the main gate, WHICH ALSO HAD A DRIVEABLE LANE.

Oh, I used most UNladylike language – for any time period!!!!

Fortunately, Tom was able to move the car so it would be easier for me when it was time to head out. The lovely person who was there to guide cars into that parking aisle was so apologetic and helpful (I didn’t catch her name, but she ROCKS!). From the new parking space it was much easier to get to the main gate… but see next paragraph. And on our way out a fellow at the main gate apologized for the item in the next paragraph, and said he’d forward my suggestion to use a hard-packed material for those kinds of areas.

Did I mention sand and gravel? And “pathways” made of materials that can twist ankles for people who are walking and are impassable for an unaccompanied manual wheelchair user?

The ACTUAL gate has something like 8-15 feet of non-compacted sand/small gravel. Going in, Tom tilted me BACKWARD (which I hate!), but going out I suggested he just pull me backward which worked better.

Once in, however, the soil was well compacted, not overly hummocky, and gravelly/sandy in small areas that were easily avoided. I was able to push myself most of the time, though I am seriously out of shape and my arms paid for it the next day.

HIGHLIGHTS! There were many. One for me was seeing, IN PERSON, a costuber I have been following. You can find her video (Lady Rebecca Fashions), released on the same day, here. I appreciate the way she explains and demonstrates fashion through time, and how to sew – both very basic information and information that assumes more skill and experience.

A NEW (to us) Musical group! Sirena has a distinctive sound – and stage presence. I cannot believe I hadn’t heard them or seen their work before. You can see their website, or find some of their music on YouTube.

We purchased some really beautiful wood drinking vessels from “As Wood As It Gets.” Check the Galleries tab to see the range of styles – Tom got a lovely tankard made of maple and walnut. We got a pair of mugs that are acacia wood (I think the handles are walnut again), stained in red with a natural color band at the top. Their work uses resins to seal the inside against the liquids, the outsides are stained and lightly protected (varnish?). These are not made for very hot liquids, and of course would not be microwave or dishwasher safe! But for a bit of tea brewed in a pot or cocoa once it has cooled a bit after being made, yes – and of course cold drinks are perfect! the wood insulates, keeping hands warm and the liquids cool longer than glass or metal.

The one picture I took…

Tom in line to purchase the mugs! 🙂 He’s in a dark hoody behind the green-wrapped pole.

My garment purchases were made at Talismana Design; the link takes you to the utility belt – you’ll see why it called me immediately! I also purchased a red and black striped skirt which I am not sure is water-fast… LOL we’ll test that soon.

AND I FINALLY GOT A BODHRAN!!!! I purchased it from the same people who made the lovely crystal flute Mother bought me decades ago. Hall Crystal Flutes. Percussion is more of a side-line for them, and the bodhran I purchased is definitely entry-level! Which made it affordable for me, and something I can play around with, without feeling overly guilty if it turns out to be an instrument that isn’t as appealing as I imaged (so far, I tuned it on Saturday but haven’t touched it since…). My current lack of use stems more from having other, more-pressing tasks rather than a lack of interest. The brand of the maker is Roosebeck, this website sells a lot of their instruments (Reverb) and is NOT the same as the company I purchsed from!- impulse purchases like mine can have unfortunate implications for sustainability and social justice. I am not certain about the actual origins of materials or the maker’s compensation and safety, which saddens me. I’ll be more careful if I continue to pursue new instruments!

Meantime, here is a fellow on YouTube who has videos on how to play the bodhran: Ruari Glasheen. I really appreciate the opportunity to learn from someone who really KNOWS… YouTube has been a real support for me the last year and a half when I wanted to learn, be entertained, or relax – as well as when I need to create content for my own students. Of course, it seems younger folkx now prefer instagram, tiktok, or twitch… but I think the format of YouTube has really worked for me.

What else? We had sort of arranged to meet up with a work-friend of Tom’s but they had other sights they wanted to see so I never saw them, although Tom was able to catch up with them for a quick chat at one point.

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