Saturday, January 19, 2008

Retreat in the Woods

Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement! This is certainly a new avenue for me to travel and with your help I should find my way easily. So…onward…….

In 1998 I discovered rubber stamps and EMBOSSING POWDER!! It was a miracle! Where had I been? Artistic freedom….I didn’t have to know how to draw and I could create wonderful things. It became a serious addiction—I had to have everything. And stamps – one could never have too many. I took every class that was offered – so many and so quickly that I couldn’t retain what I learned. It was heaven.

During one class, the instructor told us that she was organizing a weekend art retreat. The location was a short drive from Portland -- it sounded like fun, so I convinced two friends and off we went on a road trip. Laughing and giggling like high school kids, we excitedly arrived at our destination full of anticipation. As we located the address and drove down the road, it was like we had run head first into a brick wall. All three of us just sat there in the car with our mouths open. We were deep in the woods – it was dark, dreary and damp. The buildings looked ready to collapse and most had blue tarps on the roofs – why were they not condemned? No paved roads. As I recall, not even gravel roads. We were escorted to our sleeping room which turned out to be a cold, drafty cabin with 2 bunk beds. That’s it -- bunk beds. Not a table or chair in sight. Well, that was ok, after all – we would only sleep there. But what about the other amenities – like sink and shower and toilet? Oh, yeah, they were a short hike thru the woods and were shared by anyone and everyone staying at the facility. Upon closer inspection, the toilets had no doors. They did however attempt to hang a curtain in each enclosure to give the illusion of privacy. The showers were old metal units that snapped and popped as you moved and scrubbed. There was no heat and this was March. OK – it’s only for 3 days, we are rugged women and we are energized with new creative juices – this is an adventure! We unpacked and then went looking for the dining room and the rest of our group. It was time for dinner.

Dinner was prepared by a crusty, gray haired lady who had to be at least 102 yrs old. She could barely carry the pans to the table and most of us felt that it was our duty to assist her. She looked as if she would drop dead any minute. I do not remember her name, but I do remember that she wanted no part of any help from the likes of us. She had a “no-good bum” in the kitchen that was her assistant, thank you very much. The bum finally appeared and took over the buffet line duties – thank god. As he removed the cover from the chafing dish, we looked at the selection and then at each other. Then back at the food. It was slices of meat kind of a pasty gray/green color smothered in matching gray/green sauce. To this day, I’m not certain what we ate for those 3 days, but my legs would swell to the size of an elephant each evening.

After dinner, we moved into our classroom which was actually an old, fragile looking storage building. The organizer had done her best to set the room beautifully with tables, ample lighting and candy. Did I mention that it was March? …. in the Pacific Northwest mountains…..probably about 40 degrees, raining and windy with a temperamental antique heater cycling off and on. But we had a ball!! We stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, stamping, embossing, painting, cutting, laughing and freezing. We dressed in layers, put on three pairs of socks, ate chocolates and warmed our hands around cups of hot tea. I couldn’t get enough.

We returned to Portland exhausted and energized. I was determined put my event planning experience to work organizing an art weekend!!


  1. I regret little in life but I do regret not learning about Art & Soul sooner. It has made my life so much happier with the richness of more art and more friends. I'm loving your story.

  2. Glenny, I absolutely LOVE your blog! I am so happy to have gotten to know you at Art & Soul and can hardly wait to see you at the next event. LOVE your story!!!

  3. What fun! I can't wait for the next installment.

  4. Wonderful, funny story, Glenny! I think I stayed at that place with the blue tarps...only "they" called it Bible Camp and we didn't get candy! Longest week of my life, even looking back 48 years! I know how this story ends, but I am sure enjoying the journey....
    Bear hugs,