Unorthodox and Unhinged

Tales of a Manic Christian


Sleeping Around (not what you think!) or Travels with Joani

I have never been one to rough it or to sleep under the stars in the great outdoors. Even as a Girl Scout I was allergic to camp. All grown up now, the most rustic I ever get is a Shrine Mont retreat – an Episcopal mountain village and old hotel in Orkney Springs. Complete with clean linens and private baths.

My clergy income does not allow for international travel or cross country road trips. But I do love to get out of town once in a while. And when I do, I love to book myself into a fancy boutique hotel.

A weekend’s stay just across the river in my beloved hometown of Washington, D.C.; or a few days in Mr. Jefferson’s Virginia City; or farther afield to Brooklyn, NY (home of my filmmaker son!).

By Uber, by car, by train.

Sleeping around in funky beautiful places is one of my favorite things to do. So let me recommend a few. All are fabulous and none are cheap so shop around for online deals.

So here we go, details shamelessly lifted from websites.

Places Where Joani Has Slept in Washington, D.C.!

The Intercontinental at the Wharf

On the SW waterfront overlooking the Potomac River, you can take the Water Taxi from Alexandria to the Wharf. There is a rooftop pool & bar and an Afro-Caribbean restaurant called Kith & Kin. Take a stroll on the waterside piers and promenades. Check out the books at Politics&Prose. Attend a performance at the Anthem or Union Stage.

The Line

Located in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, this unique hotel is housed in a 110 year-old historic church. Room numbers are posted on old hymn boards and recycled church pews line the corridors. The Line is the brainchild of local chefs, bartenders, artists and designers. It has a “full service” radio station in the lobby and three restaurants. Brothers & Sisters features “American classics with an Asian point of view.” Nearby is the Adams Morgan Community Center “an incubator space for artists and nonprofits..which hosts art shows, performances and workshops.”

Capitol Hill Hotel “…tucked away amidst charming brick row houses…and a short walk to the Capitol, Supreme Court, Library of Congress” (my happy place!) “and the Botanical Gardens.” It is across the street from the Capitol South Metro Stop and accessible on the Blue & Yellow lines. The rooms are appointed with “plush white bedding, eclectic furnishings and classic prints by American artists.” Nearby eateries on Pennsylvania Avenue include the Hawk ‘n Dove and the infamous Tune Inn. The East City Book Shop, a fabulous indie bookstore is a hop and a skip from the must-visit historic Eastern Market.

Places Joani Has Slept in Charlottesville, Virginia!

The Oakhurst Inn

“This Craftsman inspired Inn borders the University of Virginia…the classic rooms” are all housed in three historic bungalows. Instead of a lobby, the Oakhurst has four libraries: “Sit by the fire, peruse a book, help yourself to an espresso or Italian soda. Decorated with architectural curiosities. Have you ever seen a Russian gramophone?” The cafe features “fresh takes on southern classics” and the new Oakhurst Hall sports a salt water pool and Jazz Nights. Walk across the street to Mr. Jefferson’s University of Virginia (the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in the U.S.) or hop on the trolley to go shopping at the Downtown Mall.

The Boars Head Resort

Owned by the University of Virginia Foundation, the Boars Head is a country resort where the “borders between past and present, serenity and energy melt away.” Decorated with classic southern charm and equipped with modern amenities, this fabulous getaway includes nature trails, a racquet & fitness club, a spa (where I got a facial!) and three outdoor pools (one for adults only!). If you are brave (and I am not) you can book a ride on a hot air ballon. The Mill Room’s award winning chefs culinary delights are sourced from local farmers and vineyards. Literally catch your own fish (from the fish farm) for a delicious Trout Salad. Explore the “Monticello Wine Trail”. There are over 30 wineries in a 25 mile radius of Charlottesville!

Places Where Joani Has Stayed in Brooklyn, New York!

The McCarren Hotel & Pool

Located in the Williamsburg neighborhood, on land stolen from Native Americans by the Dutch West India Company in 1638 and eventually bought up the wealthy Jonathan Williams who in 1802 named the town for himself, the McCarren describes itself as “edgy, artsy and epic.” It has a rooftop bar, Freille linens and “rainfall showers.” The Urban Vegan Kitchen serves “semi-sophisticated comfort food.” The Olympic sized pool across the street, open in the summer, is a place to mix and mingle with the locals. Williamsburg is a “hipster hotspot alive with music, art shows, food festivals and farmers’ markets.” Go for a tour and a by-the-token beer tasting at Brooklyn Brewery.

The Box House Hotel

“Once a doors and windows manufacturing facility, The Box House is now home to 130 spacious lofts with soaring ceilings and factory details. Located off the East River in Greenpoint, where streets are still named for 19th century farmers, the hotel is decorated with original artwork and nostalgic details.” (My Room has a Royal manual typewriter. Maybe I will write that book!) Balconies overlook the Brooklyn skyline. The Brooklyn Lantern downstairs is a yummy full service cafe and the hotel even has its own “neighborhood taxi” which will save you a few Uber-dollars.

Too fancy to leave behind any graffiti, I would love to scribble Joani slept here on these guest room walls. But alas, no. They would not welcome me back!

The photos are are all mine (except for the McCarren). Click on the links to explore more!

Happy travels!


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“Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”

pajamas-in-the-woods-1

In the woods and in the groove, Sabbath time.

Remember “feeling groovy?”

This aging hippie certainly does.

Groovy is that “mellow yellow” mood so celebrated in the ‘60s. Groovy could be chemically induced tripping in your friend’s, Mary Jane’s basement.

Or groovy could be musically induced,  mind melding with the vinyl grooves of your favorite LPs. (Joni Mitchell being my drug of choice!)

But the hippie dippiest way to get your groove on was by “getting back to nature”.

Not too much nature, mind you, but just enough nature to pay quick homage to Mother Earth. Planting some vegetables, growing some “herbs”, skinny-dipping in the lake.

More recently, I got back to nature again, on retreat at Shrine Mont, with the good folks of Emmanuel on High, where,  Margaret Wohler, a gifted naturalist and artist at Huntley Meadows Wildlife preserve, introduced us to the lost art of illustration.

Like  “Lost Children in the Woods” she introduced us to “The Forest Unseen”.

Drawing, she said, helps us to pay attention. It helps us to slow way down. And her “way” was drawn out with lots and lots of extra “a’s”. We each got an art kit with a sketchpad and pencils.

“All you need are five basic shapes: a circle, a dot, a line, an angle, and a curve.”, Margaret said.

“Choose a spot to sit. Jot down the location, date, time, temperature, cloud cover. Close your eyes and listen for just a minute – 60 seconds. Then open your eyes and list everything you heard: birds, honking horns, wind in the trees, screaming babies.”

“Draw the big stuff first, then the little things.”

“Stay put. Look up. Look around you. The more you stay put the more you see. The more you see, the deeper you will go. The deeper you go, the slower you will go. And the more slow you go, the more you will know — not just about what’s is front of you – -but the more you will know about what’s going on inside you.”

(At least that is what I heard Margaret say.)

And so I sat for an hour in the woods, drawing trees and rusted out, old, discarded bathtubs — meditating and feeling groovy.

Recently this Celtic Warrior Woman trained to take on the three-day Warrior Challenge in The Patriot Running Festival in Williamsburg. And seriously train I did: walking up to 37 plus miles a week for 12 weeks for the Friday 5K, Saturday 8K, and Sunday 1/2 marathon.

That Friday morning, waiting for the Amtrak train to take me south, I sat down with my sketchpad for just the second time since Shrine Mont.

Now I have sat in this Civil War era station a bazillion times, idly and obsessively checking my phone, waiting on trains that rarely arrive on time. But this time, in the most mundane of places here I was – sketchpad in lap and pencil in hand.

I looked up and noticed the enormous, glass inset doors that lead to the tracks. So gorgeous, I had never noticed just how lovely they were – with simple, geometric patterns, arches, scalloped edges, and lots of rectangles.

I can draw this!

I had an hour’s wait for my train and thought sketching the doors would be a pleasant ten-minute diversion – maybe fifteen, max. In fact, however, I got into a groove and it turned into a sixty minute, mellow, mindful meditation.

First I sketched the doors, then the windows, the lanterns, the tracks and the buildings beyond, then the trees through the glass, the travellers on their way, their rolling bags and backpacks– all framed by those lovely doors – that I had so long ignored.

On the other end, my dear, dear friend, Pam picked me up in Williamsburg. She and I have been the best of friends since our seminary days – over twenty years. Very different people, we very much enjoy each other’s company. We gossip, laugh, shop, watch chick flicks, catch up, and confess all that is going on in our divergent worlds.

And best of all, we do the latter, floating in her pool.

The weekend was pretty well planned around my three day’s walking the Patriot Running Event —  and  Pam was charioteer-ing me wherever I needed to go. (Thank you, Pam!) But between the races, the two of us planned to pack in as much playtime as we possibly could.

So before I went, I gave myself permission — that while I was indeed getting my warrior on – it was perfectly okay to opt out of any or all parts of the Warrior Challenge.

Too much “works” and not enough “grace” can make Joani – a manic, manic soul.

So all three days we floated, floated in the pool — lazy and stretched out in the sun, gazing up at blue skies, listening to the birds and the wind in the trees, listening to the murmuring of the filter motor and the rumbling of lawn mowers.

And best of all, floating with my best of friends, Pam and I talked and talked and talked. And just as lovely, we floated comfortably in silence.

So slow, so blissfully slow.

Slowing down and feeling groovy.

So I walked the 5K on Friday. Yea!!

I walked the 8K on Saturday. Yea!!

And yes, I have the medals to prove it (though one is made of plastic!).

And then on Sunday, I chose Sabbath time. Not church per se – but St Mattress in-the-Springs.

I slept in, stayed in my pajamas until 10 o’clock, drinking coffee with my friend, went to brunch at 11, came home and slipped into my swimsuit, slathered on the  SPF 100  –

And floated, floated, floated – my ½ marathon – floating in Pam’s pool.

My mania calmed.

My mood lightened.

My outlook brightened.

My spirit lifted.

My soul restored.

God, in Her Heaven, all right with my world.

Slow, slow, so slowed down.

Kicking down my cobblestones.

Feeling groovy.

Slow down, friends, don’t move too fast.  God wants you to make your morning last. And just like Her — on that seventh day —  take some sabbath time and get some rest. The world can revolve without you — at least for a little while.

Thanks be to God.

JoaniSign