Page 52: Oh The Places You’ll Go (The Loft at The Volland Store)

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Ryan and I have been deeply in need of a bit of a get-away. My full-time job doesn’t offer a lot of paid vacation time and so we decided to use the four-day weekend that comes along with Thanksgiving as our own mini-vacation.

We weren’t sure where, exactly, we wanted to go. Just that we wanted to go somewhere that we’d never been before and we wanted to be able to relax. So we hopped on Air B&B’s website. I’d never used Air B&B, before, and I didn’t really even believe that there would be much in the way of results for Central Kansas. But I was wrong. We found the listing for The Loft at The Volland Store in Alma, KS and booked it immediately.
We took a lot of photos and I wrote a lot in my journal. So, here’s what came of all of that.

Thursday (Thanksgiving Day):

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Every time it rains in November, it’s noteworthy. I really love the way that it fogs up the glass. And it sounds like classic rain. It sounds like the kind of rain that you get when you select the “rain” feature on a white noise machine. It continued as we packed our bags and as we put those bags in the car and as we drove the two-and-some-change hours to Alma, KS. The rain continued as we tried to get into the room that we rented and then the security alarm went off and I had to call our lovely host (Wrenn) and surely disrupt her Thanksgiving dinner to come and help us. And it continued into the night–stopping a few hours after the temperature dipped below freezing.

Driving on the freeway in the rain can be a challenge. At a certain point, the road is the same color as the sky is the same color as the water splashing all around is, somehow, the same color as nearly every other car on the road. When we were passing through Salina, I heard Ryan say, “Oh no!!” And we started slowing down. He had caught sight of a pickup truck and watched it lose control and collide with a guard rail. We took the next exit to turn around to make sure the driver was safe and hadn’t flipped or fallen down an embankment. But it was a great big pickup, sitting right side up in a ditch. Some other drivers had stopped to help. Everyone was safe, it seemed, so we felt okay moving along though we felt bad that their Thanksgiving plans were likely ruined.

Friday Morning

It continued to rain all night and the weather isn’t expected to get above freezing for the next few days. Our original plan was to go into town and explore a bit. Every time that I told someone that we were going to Alma, KS for our trip, there was one of two reactions:
1. Where’s that?!
2. Alma is so cute!
I was excited that anyone who had ever been there had good things to say and I was anxious to explore every square inch of it. But then we woke up this morning and the whole world is frozen like Narnia. Once the sun is up, we will have to start by exploring the building that we’re in and then the grounds. Maybe after that we’ll go explore the town after all! But there’s 8 miles of hilly, curley-q roads between here and there.

Our AirB&B is delightful. It’s this warm, little cubby hole in the middle of an iced-over patch of prairie. It’s a legitimate retreat. With barely any cellphone reception and a persnickety wifi signal, it was exactly what I was looking for. It’s also gorgeous. Beautiful! It’s rekindling my dream of renovating a loft in downtown McPherson.

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Last night we re-heated leftovers from our Friendsgiving dinner that we’d had earlier in the week. I love that there’s a kitchen here. It was a game changer as far as saving money goes on this trip. We brought food to cook for all but one meal. If we make it into Alma, today, we hope to try out one of the few cafes in town.

Friday Evening

The building where the loft is at, The Volland Store, is so cool. In the early 1900’s it was a general store but now it’s very different. We got all bundled up and set out to explore the grounds of this place. This room sits atop an art gallery. The exhibit is near and dear to my favorite parts of my heart. It’s entitled “Women’s Work” and it’s an exploration in textiles. It’s beautiful and minimal and magnificent. I promise that I didn’t touch anything even though there was no security guard to go “BAHP bahpbahpbahpbahp!” when I got too close.

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This is the view from one of the floor-to-ceiling windows that looks out over the gallery.

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The concept of women’s work is something that has been weighing heavy on my mind lately–since becoming a wife and since making the decision to quit my job and work from home. But in the end, I want to say that this trip has taught me that my husband and I are equal partners in this relationship. At least so far. And I know we’ll both work to keep it that way.
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Since we didn’t fall down while w were out exploring the property, we decided to make the 8-mile journey into town. The road was covered in sleet and snow and it is very curvy without much of a shoulder. But it was beautiful anyhow and we stayed safe.

Alma, KS is a cute little town. Though I will say that on an iced-over day after Thanksgiving, there isn’t that much to offer. The Alma Cheese Factory was sadly closed–as well as the cafe. However there was an enormous antique store. What is it with Antique stores? They always seem small and normal at first glance and then all of a sudden you realize that the whole thing spans a city block. When we were there, we picked up some holiday ornaments and secretly took some photos of things that I wanted and things that I hated. When we were checking out, the owner pointed us in the direction of the Alma Bakery. We stopped for turnovers and bierocks (delicious–nearly as good as my mom’s) and headed back to the loft.
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We came back to the apartment and warmed up, took naps, watched Friends DVD’s and read books. In a few minutes, I’m going to crack open a beer and put on a pot of Velveeta Shells and Cheese for our last dinner here. I am grateful for this kitchen on this particular trip.

Saturday Morning:

It’s our last morning here and we are being our typical selves. Ryan is making the most of that glorious, down-filled bedding and I’m making coffee, mowing down this bag of chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, and writing.

Since this was a Thanksgiving trip, a list of gratitudes:
-I am grateful for a husband who adores my mind and my body and my heart and who is moved by the things that move me. And may I strive to see his pure heart in everything that he does.
-I am grateful for the opportunities to do things like this. For families who don’t make us feel guilty for choosing to use our vacation time for some R&R rather than big family holidays. And may I make space for others to be themselves the way they need to, as well.
-I am grateful for the freedom that comes from having been born within the borders of this country–which is something that I never really felt until recently. And may I provide others with safety and warmth and freedom wherever I can.

The sun is coming up. They’ll be opening The Volland Store soon and we will need to be on our way.

Thank you, little loft, for holding us warm and safe these past few days.

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How did you spend your Thanksgiving? When was the last time you really got some good rest and relaxation? Could you use a weekend away? If you’re in the area, you should consider staying at The Loft at The Volland Store.

xoxo, Lib

 

Page 48: A Birthday Party at Hatch Studios

I’ve made a very intentional point to stop saying, “We should hang out sometime” to people that I have no intention of hanging out with. I’d say for the past year and a half or so I’ve done a pretty good job of not tacking that statement onto the end of a conversation that I’m trying desperately to get out of. It’s an easy way to end the conversation right now but it doesn’t serve our future selves. Because you’re just going to have to deal with it again. And we’re just going to have to say, “we should get together,” again. Forever and ever. amen

Life tip:
The best way of ending those conversations? “Hey, it was really good to run into you, today. Have a good one.” Period.


I’ve been working part-time for Hatch Studios in Hutchinson, Kansas for the past four months or so. Hatch is a studio devoted to providing space for people in the community to create art. I’ve been a fan/ patron of Hatch since they opened their doors. I love the whole idea and vibe of the place. And one day I reached out to Lacey, the owner, and told her that I believe in her work and listed off all my skills and asked her if she had any need for me. And lucky, lucky me, she said yes.

My work is all done online. I believe the job title that we settled on was “Virtual Assistant” and I answer emails and help people to plan their parties. But eventually the feelings of jealousy caught up to me. I was envious of everyone else’s parties and decided to just throw my own. So, I hope this doesn’t come off as a marketing ploy but really I just want to give you an idea of what a night at Hatch is like.

I reached out via text message and Facebook and real life to some local people that I like a lot—people to whom I have sincerely said “we should hang out more/ for the first time ever in real life!” As I mentioned before, my birthday is this week. So I used it as an excuse to get a lot of random people together. People that I have only known on the internet, people that I have known in real life but admire, people to whom I am related but we don’t see each other enough, people that I see all the time and can’t get enough of. I set a time and a date and most people said “sure!” And most people were able to make it and it turned out to be so much fun.

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So I booked a Wine and Paint class for last Friday night with all of my friends. I instructed everyone to bring whatever they wanted to drink. I brought cupcakes. Some people brought presents. They sang happy birthday to me—okay, this was officially a birthday party and not just an excuse to get rad people all into the same room.

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Lacey taught our class and it always strikes me what an incredible teacher she is. She’s so good at identifying potential problems and helping us to avoid them, and providing a lot of information without getting too overwhelming. She’s also really, really, patient. This is probably her most mesmerizing talent. Even when, in the middle of painting, I reminded everyone that there were cupcakes if they wanted one and it ended up turning into a snack break, she didn’t even seem annoyed. If the tables had been turned, I would have been giving so much side-eye at me.

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So we walked in, the tables were all set up with easels, water cups, the necessary brushes and a pallet. We got to choose any colors that we wanted, which means that even though we’re all painting the same picture, everyone’s finished product ends up looking so different and full of personality. Everyone grabbed whatever they wanted to drink and we got to work. Lacey said some very nice things about me and then walked us, step-by-step through how to awesomely execute our painting. It took about 2 hours and in the end, everyone had a gorgeous painting to hang in their home.

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A couple of life lessons that I learned through this experience:
1. It’s natural to really hate what’s happening on your canvas at the time that it’s happening. Through out the whole night, someone (or three or four someones) was saying, “I don’t know about this…” or “oh, no! I’ve definitely ruined this!” But in the end, you have to just keep going with it. Which leads to life lesson number two.
2. Trust the process. Understand that you’re not going to start with a masterpiece. You’re going to utilize a relatively messy method to create a masterpiece and there’s a lot of pride in that.
3. Know when to leave it alone. Otherwise something that could have been lovely is going to result in a big, conjumbled mess just because you couldn’t help yourself from fixing meddling.
4. We’re all going to make it through, in the end, and we’ll have something colorful to show for it. There will also be cupcakes.

So thanks to my friends who came to this fun night. And thanks to Hatch for having us. And thanks, other people, for reading this and for leaving nice comments.

xoxo, lib.