Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Greetings from Limestone, NY. I swear Tori jinxed it: she promised me snow on Christmas. I said "How can you promise the weather?" Of course we are predicted to get freezing rain. Meanwhile, TEXAS gets snow. Dallas/Fort Worth gets snow for Christmas, and earlier this year HOUSTON got snow on the ground. What are the odds. Oklahoma is getting a blizzard. New York gets freezing rain. I think snow is avoiding me!

Things are good up here though. Tori enjoys seeing someone get so much excitement from a sled. We decided to rent a car to visit Tori's grandma James and Aunt Cathy for Christmas, and we'll be headed back to Soltane a few days after Christmas. New Year's plans are soon to be made. Yesterday we explored Tori's childhood home: Salamanca, NY. It was cool seeing all the places Tori pointed out with specific memories. "Here's where I built that giant snow fort!" "I used to call 1-800-ABCDEFG on a payphone that used to be there to hear the Hooked on Phonics message!" "There's the hospital where I visited the emergency room like once a month because I was so accident prone!"

After that we went through Allegheny State Park to enjoy the winter wonderland scenery, and I found an awesome sledding hill. "One time I got a concussion and the doctor at the emergency room told my mom she had to keep me up all night, so we drove around here for a while looking for deer. Occasionally she had to pinch me to keep me awake."

So far the trip has been great, and it's been nice to have a chance to relax. I highly recommend that if you have to rent a car, go to Grand Sport Auto in Chester Springs... For some reason our car wasn't working with the computer, so they gave us a free upgrade from a Ford Focus to a Ford Fusion (nice car, by the way). Not only that, they bumped up our discount by an extra 5%, and threw in free satellite radio! Nice! We especially enjoyed the coffeehouse station. Singer-songwriter stuff.

That's about all for now. The scenery is great here. I wish it looked this pretty everywhere...

Best wishes this holiday season!


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Long Overdue Update

Greetings from Pennsylvania!

These past few months here at Camphill Soltane have been great. After living in one house for the first 3 months, we have moved to another house giving us a new perspective on life in this community. Our first house was on the residential side, as opposed to our current home on the college side. Here we live with 2 students, 1 resident (all three of whom have a developmental disability) , 1 other couple, their son who is a sailor but had to come home due to pneumonia, and an older woman who has lived in Camphill communities for many years. The atmosphere here makes us feel much more like we are living in a home than a house.

Tori is working in Soltane’s textile enterprise called “in good company” (Their store website is There are four residents that work there full time (two of whom we lived with at our first house) and four student interns that work there half days Monday through Friday. They research a theme called an “inspiration” (currently they are working on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table). Then they design fabrics and different textile products to make with the fabrics. After that, they weave their own fabric, cut, and sew it into a unique product to sell at craft fairs, online, or for special orders. All of the weaving and creation of images is the work of the residents and students with disabilities. The coworkers support them and do much of the sewing. Tori enjoys the work and is proud of the products they make. The etsy shop is still just getting started, but we hope to have our bags and t-shirts listed soon!

Aaron is working in Soltane’s community services and with Soltane’s land work group. In community services, they do everything from collecting and sorting recycling from Soltane and the surrounding community to taking on odd jobs that people don’t have time for (cleaning up property lines, chopping firewood, shoveling snow & de-icing sidewalks, etc.). The land work group takes care of several things around campus from collecting and processing compost, raking leaves, trimming trees, and taking care of various fruit patches and orchards (raspberries, blackberries, apples, peaches, black walnuts, etc.). The land group even makes products with the community’s produce such as apple cider, apple butter, fruit leather, etc.

Working at Soltane has definitely been a growth experience for both of us. It is taxing at times both physically and emotionally, but also very rewarding. Soltane allows us to use our talents, learn new skills, and provides us with a sense of great satisfaction in that we are directly contributing to the growth of the students and residents we work with. We have also made new friends here that we are sure will be lifelong connections.

We hope all is well with you! Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!


Aaron and Tori

P.S. I hope to upload MANY pictures and a few videos during our Christmas break which starts on the 20th.