High Valley Newsletter 2012

Dear Friends of High Valley,

Happy endings and beginnings in this week-between-the-worlds. First the most important news: Olga is doing well at Islandview Eldercare Home in Rosendale. We will celebrate her 100th birthday with her on February 13th. If you would like to send cards: Olga Smyth c/o Douglas Smyth, 295 Sunset Trail Apt A, Clinton Corners, NY 12514

Looking back over 2012, we want to thank everyone who has supported High Valley and participated in the life of this community of land and people. Heartfelt thanks to Jack Maguire and Tom Cowan for raising funds, arranging for the construction, and launching (with champagne!) the new weather-proof raft. Many thanks also to all of you who came out one magical Saturday in October to rebuild the labyrinth.

In May Tim Dillinger left High Valley to return to Nashville. He is in the midst of making an amazing album. Stay tuned! At the end of August Wahabah moved to High Valley. It is wonderful to have her here. Welcome and thanks to Wahabah for all her support of the High Valley community. She is the keeper of the barn/temple and hostess of the Cross-Quarter Celebrations, which will continue in 2013. (See Calendar below).

High Valley Poets also continue to meet 2nd Sundays @ 3:00, resuming in February.

Douglas and Elizabeth will lead the Beltane rites as always and will attend all the celebrations, but will be stepping back a bit from public roles while we continue to tend the land and gardens. Elizabeth is hoping to complete a mystery novel this year. She is also happily focused on her counseling practice, which in addition to work with individuals includes couples and family counseling as well as writing coaching. If you'd like more information, please call: 845 266-0004.

845 266-0004 is also the number to call if you would like to book an individual or group retreat. Holding your own event here or staying in the hermitage room on retreat is one of the best ways to support High Valley.

Contact us here

Here are the cross-quarter dates for 2013.

Brigid's Day aka Imbolc, Sunday, February 3rd, 6:30 with Tom Cowan Beltane, Friday, May 3rd 7:30 with Douglas and Elizabeth Lughnasadh, Friday August 2nd 7:30 with Karen Holtslag and David Budd Samhain, Friday, November 1st 7:30 with Cait Johnson

We look forward to seeing you on these occasions and often. Please mark your calendars!

Happy New Year and Blessed Bees! Douglas and Elizabeth

High Valley Newsletter 2011

Dear Friends of High Valley,

First, for those of you who remember Olga, she is doing splendidly at Island View in Rosendale. She enjoys dreaming and is quite lively when she is awake. She will be ninety-nine in February!

2011 has been a busy year at High Valley. Here’s a brief recap:

In January Tim Dillinger moved to High Valley and is a wonderful part of our residential community.

We celebrated the Cross-quarter holidays, including a dark, snowy, candlelit Samhain with a very small group. The power was out.

We held the seventh (?) annual community reading from The Passion of Mary Magdalen.

We cleared out the hay barn and seated 104 people for Cait Johnson’s delightful theatrical piece: “Midsummer Magic.” Thanks to Cait and all who participated.

At the end of June, Douglas and Elizabeth moved into the apartment upstairs in the big house.

Over the summer and fall, we hosted several evenings of entertainment. A Maeve Chronicle’s performance; an evening of storytelling at Lughnasad; a rousing juke night in honor of our beloved David Budd; a Libra birthday concert and fundraiser; and an evening of poetry with Gary Siegel and the High Valley poets—who continue to meet on second Sundays at 3:00.

We welcomed several groups who came to retreat and recreate at High Valley.

Elizabeth led a workshop called “Off the Beaten Path” and plans to offer more workshops in 2012.

In addition to clearing out the hay barn, we reseeded the lawn after moving the septic system (thanks for help from the Midsummer Magic players!) cabled and fed the big maple tree, put in new walkways.

Looking ahead to 2012

We will continue to celebrate the Cross-quarter holidays. (See calendar). Poet, novelist, and writer Patricia Monaghan will be performing in early March. Details TBA. We will likely host other events as well—spoken word, music, theatre. Stay tuned. (See contact info below).

In addition to events, we plan to focus on individual and group retreats. This winter we will be renovating the room next to the kitchen in the big house as hermitage and couples retreat space. Retreatants will have the use of the kitchen, library, sunroom and grounds. As an additional feature, Elizabeth will offer guided retreats for spiritual practice and/or writing.

Several groups have used the gathering room for day or weekend retreats. We are planning to invest in cots and convertible sofas to make a group experience more comfortable and inviting.

Looking even farther ahead! This spring we will plant the playing field with rye and/or alfalfa, the enriching of the soil being the first step towards a future community garden!

Note: The Center at High Valley is a not-for-profit organization. But the buildings and land are still family-owned and maintained. No one is salaried. We welcome your help in preserving this place that has meant so much to so many.

How you can participate!

Come to events (on time please!) and have fun

Rent High Valley for your own workshop or event

Make a day or weekend retreat with your group or organization

Help us with innovative and economical marketing

Help Elizabeth maintain the beautiful legacy of Olga’s flower gardens

Help mow and maintain the labyrinth

Help with keeping the buildings inviting inside and out

Spread the word about High Valley on social networks

Make a tax-deductible donation

Drum, sing, play, pray

Cross-Quarter Days 2012

Brigid's Day (Imbolc): Sunday, Feb. 5th @ 3:00.

Beltane: Sunday, April 29 @ 7:00 sharp

Lughanasad: Sunday, July 29 time TBA

Samhain, Saturday, November 3 @ 7:30.

Do mark your calendars, but also check, especially in case of inclement weather.

Here’s how to keep in touch:

High Valley's Contact Page

High Valley's facebook page

Address: High Valley, 295 Sunset Trail, Clinton Corners, NY 12514

Phone: 845 266-0004. At this number we will announce cancellations due to weather.

This is also the number to reach Elizabeth’s counseling practice or to schedule an event.

We wish you merry holidays and a joyful new journey around the sun!

Blessed Bees,

Elizabeth & Douglas

High Valley Newsletter 2009

Thanks to all of you who have come to the celebrations in the past year, and for all the wonderful support of the High Valley community. We will continue to have celebrations of the cross-quarter days at High Valley in the coming year. In addition, there will be a CD coming out party. Dates are as follows: (also posted on Calendar)

A CD coming out party for MaevenSong Saturday, Jan. 2nd at 3 PM:

Brigid Jan 31st (Sunday)

Beltane, April 30th (Friday)

Lughnasad, August 1st (Sunday)

Samhain, October 31st (Sunday, Halloween)

Sunday events will be late afternoons to early evenings. More details forthcoming closer to the dates. Do mark your calendars now!

High Valley in 2009

Many things have happened at High Valley in 2009, but the essence of High Valley will remain and continue in 2010, and beyond. Some highlights:

Olga, our matriarch of the land, has had to move to a Family Care facility in Rosendale. Her care there is better than we could provide her at home, and it is also more interesting for her: instead of being limited to a single caregiver and very occasional visits, there are 5 other residents, a family (Pam, the director, is an RN), aides, many grandchildren in and out, and dogs, cats and a cockatoo. Olga is thriving. In many ways, Island View of Rosendale resembles the way High Valley was as a school, only for old people. Olga confirms that it's "a good place."

As some of you may already have heard, I (Douglas) have been diagnosed with prostate cancer; it's aggressive enough that I will have to be treated. I will begin in January. If I choose surgery, I will have a 2-3 week recovery. We would welcome vegetarian casseroles and other help at that time. If I choose radiation, the same might be true towards the end of my treatment (8 weeks), when I may be exhausted from its cumulative effects. We also might need other help, like moving firewood into the house from piles along the driveway. In either case, I'll let you all know. Thanks to all of you who have expressed your concern, and offered help.

David Budd and Karen Holtslag hosted several workdays at High Valley in the Spring and Summer. Thanks to David and Karen and to all of you who came to help clean up storm and winter debris and to weed in the many gardens. Thanks also to David for maintaining the labyrinth so faithfully, and to both Karen and David for all their help in making the celebrations possible and for the many other things they have done to help maintain High Valley day to day. And thanks to the poets for their contributions at the monthly poetry workshops and to Elizabeth and Debbie for hosting them.

Thanks to all of you who have volunteered at the celebrations, the workdays, and in so many other ways. High Valley is a community because of you.

Happy Turning of the Year,


High Valley Newsletter 2008

High Valley has been up to a lot this year.

We've had our four Cross-Quarter celebrations, and all went very well, although Brigid's was very small: I warned off most people because of the bad winter weather. Our Samhain celebration was the largest we've had for quite awhile.

Thanks to all those who facilitated different events: Karen Holtslag and David Budd, Tom Cowan and Jack Maguire, and Rhianna Mirabello and Cait Johnson. And thanks to Elizabeth. Also thanks to Allen Goldhammer for poetry play.

Our poetry group has expanded beyond its monthly poetry play. It held one highly successful event called Poem Arcs, invented by Allen, and was going to host another on Sunday, December 14th, however, the weather threw us a screwball: an icestorm on Thursday that kept High Valley without power (therefore no heat, or water) until Sunday evening. Apologies to all who showed up: we had no way to send out a message until it was too late. Another poem arc, we hope, can be scheduled next year during more forgiving weather.

We had a successful singing circle reunion in the summer and will have a Winter Solstice singing circle as well, Sunday, December 21st at 3 PM (if the weather cooperates): also described on the calendar in more detail.

If in doubt about any winter event, call 845-266-2309. If you get our recorded message, then we have power; if no pick up, or only a computer voice, then we have no electricity and the event in question will have been cancelled like the Poem Arc. High Valley is in a snow pocket.

We had several musical events, including one led by the traditional bluegrass singer, Ginny Hawker, others by local talent including our redoubtable David Budd.

Elizabeth got her books back from her former publisher, and now has her inventory at High Valley. It's the only place where you can buy these books new, except online at Amazon (for more money). She also has a supply of books from her current publisher. All can be purchased here for less than anywhere else, and she can sign them. See her page on the website for more details.

The Obama transition team recently issued a statement about the importance of service to your community. If your community includes High Valley, then you might consider coming to the next community day. We had two community days last year. In the first one, in April, about 15 or 20 people showed up. We cleaned out garden beds and beaches choked with weeds, trimmed overgrown shrubs, and picked up after last winter's ravages. For the second community day, in August, only a few people came other than those who live here, but the weeds and pond algae were in even greater need of attention than in the spring. If you want High Valley to thrive, it takes more than just showing up at the celebrations, where we all have a lot of fun, and profound experiences as well. Community days are also about being on the land and getting to know each other better; we hope the weather will be as cooperative this coming year as it was last. I'll list things to do when I send out an announcement of the scheduled days this year. In addition, if anyone wants to come at some other time to work on the land, just contact me several days beforehand through the contact page. High Valley isn't standing still. We are beginning to make plans about establishing a large organic garden in the former playing field to the east of the lake.

We think it's important to grow local organic food; if you do, too, you might be interested in participating in the playing field project. We are in the discussion stages of getting some help from a prominent local institution you've all heard of. Next year we'll probably prepare the ground with green fertilizer crops, with perhaps a small pilot garden tucked within it. We'd like to hear if there are any of you out there who would be interested in helping with this project either financially, or with sweat equity--and in sharing in the produce.

We're also clearing parts of a former pasture that had turned into a dying locust grove and brambles, but we're not sure how to use it, yet. Suggestions are welcome.

Finally, Olga, our resident matriarch, will turn 96 just after Brigid's. She's still with us, but very frail and tired and will only agree to go outside when the weather is warm and sunny--probably not until after Beltane this coming year.

And so the wheel of the year goes on at High Valley. This year was particularly lush, the summer not oppressively hot and last winter was mild but uneven. What the coming winter heralds, I'll not predict, but we've already burned a lot of wood to keep warm.

Happy New Year from Douglas and everyone at High Valley!

High Valley Newsletter 2007

This newsletter was written in Dec. 2007, and has been somewhat updated for the website.

Olga, matriarch of High Valley turned 95 in February, 2008. She's frail, has no short-term memory, but she's still remarkably herself. When the weather is warm she likes to walk as far as the lake, where she'll snooze in the sun. She didn't go south this winter, but does take great pleasure in sitting by the fireplace. Olga has two wonderful caregivers.

I am writing the newsletter this year, because Elizabeth is busy finishing Bright Dark Madonna, the third volume of The Maeve Chronicles. Note: She has now finished it, and it will appear in Apring 2009.

High Valley has had seven community events this year. Many thanks to all who helped or facilitated the cross-quarter celebrations, including: Elizabeth Cunningham, David Budd, Karen Holtslag, Tom Cowan Jack Maguire, Debbie Stone, Jo Renbeck, and Kathleen Mandeville. And warm thanks to Rhianna Mirabello and Rick Jarrow for celebrating the Fall Equinox at High Valley. Thanks all of you who come to celebrate and to support High Valley. You help to keep it open, as shared, green space.

A special thanks to Karen Holtslag and David Budd for coming up with the idea and for hosting the two High Valley Beautification days. Fun and real work were had by all cleaning up gardens, beaches and then partying into the night. More beautification days to come in 2008. Don't miss this chance for community and camaraderie. Olga has been very appreciative the attention to the gardens she tended for so many years.

A big thank you and bon voyage to Laurie Katon for her steadfast and inspired facilitation of Poetry Play; she is moving to Arizona. There was a Poets meeting Sunday, Dec. 9th at 3:00 to be followed by a potluck party. There was no poets meeting in January.

By popular request there was a Singing Circle reunion on Sunday, December 16th @ 3:00PM.

Finally, I'd like to invite you all to become members of High Valley (see newsletter) Members are welcome to walk the trails and labyrinth. High Valley is also available to rent for a picnic, party or workshop. If you are interested in renting High Valley for a function, contact me with this form.