Category Archives: Travels

Winding Down

The year 2012 is winding down.

There are three days left and then this year will be over.  I can’t say I will be unhappy to see it in the rear-view mirror.

It hasn’t been a bad year, in many ways.

In February, my own Bluegrass Leather Pride contest went well, despite having lost two venues in the last month or so before.  We ended up doing it in a private home and the upstairs of a local restaurant, and while it wasn’t ideal, it worked.  My contestants didn’t end up competing at GLLA, but that happens sometimes.

I was also in Indianapolis in February for Beat My Valentine, an event sponsored by IMAS, Indiana Masters and Slaves.

In March I drove out to Dallas, to South Plains Leatherfest, to watch Charles and jacki compete for International Master and slave.

In April, we went to Fort Lauderdale for Beyond Leather, for the International Power Exchange contest.  I presented there, including a brand new presentation on crops and canes.  slave thomas also came and met us there, which was particularly nice.  We spent a bit of time in Sarasota, and in Sanibel Island, one of my favorite places on the planet.

In August, we had another very successful Great Lakes Leather Alliance, despite some curves thrown at the last minute.  One of my scheduled cocktail parties didn’t work out, but I had anticipated the possibility and made arrangements for an alternate plan.

I also presented there, one class that I always do, a class for newcomers to the event, and events in general, and another new class, So You Want to Be a Titleholder.  I also played more at that event – three times – than I ever have before all put together.

In September, I was in Atlanta to present at the International Transgender Leather contest.  I did a humor class there with Ms Tammy.

In October, slave drew and I went to Chicago for Kinky Kollege, and had a very good time there.  Chicago has never been my favorite city, but we had a better time there than I had before.  We really enjoyed it.

I worked to found the first Masters And slaves Together chapter in Kentucky, MAsT: Derby City.  It is running successfully now and I’m proud of that.

We started creating Fringe Elements, a 501C3 Queer Community Center.  We’re close to finding a physical venue, which has always been our goal.  I took the Executive Director position, and I’m comfortable there.  I’m good at running things, I like all sides of it.

I started this blog.  I wasn’t sure I’d keep up with it, but I have. I posted for the first time on May 26, which was 216 days ago.  This post is the 210th, meaning I’ve missed a total of six.

I’ve only really forgotten to post once, I know once was a power outtage issue, and I didn’t post for several days while I was at GLLA, but I think missing  less than 3% is a pretty good percentage.  I’ve seen the number of people who read, and comment, rise, too, and that’s been really gratifying.

It was the 15th anniversary this year of the Louisville Munch, an impressive run for any group.  I added three new people to my formal Leather family by presenting Earned Leather to Gabriel, to Cerrin, and to Shane.

We all lived through an apocalypse, or should I say, another apocalypse.  It reminds me of a line from my favorite episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a musical episode called, “Once More with Feeling.”

“What can’t we do if we get in it?
We’ll work it through if there’s a minute.
We have to try. We’ll pay the price.
It’s do or die. Hey, I’ve died twice!”

How many apocalypses have there been and, so far, we’ve lived through them all.

There have been the usual problems and challenges.  Issues with people, the usual things one encounters when one is involved in groups, the usual struggles there.

I’ve been profoundly disappointed in a few people this year, which is also part of living, I think.  People disappoint us.  Other people have stepped up, risen to challenges.

I’ve gotten closer to a few people, and that’s been nice.  I’ve met other bloggers, both face to face and virtually, and that’s been an experience as well.

I lost at least two awards this year, and was “presented” one on a stage in front of a couple hundred people that turned out to be for someone else, though I wasn’t made aware of it until the award handed to me had another person’s name on it.

I know, I know, you should be flattered to be nominated, and I was – one was a Pantheon Lifetime Achievement award, which is a very significant award in the Leather community.  The final result, however, was that I lost.

I turned 55 this year, and I have not liked that at all.  I know, I know, I’m aware of all the things that are good – experience, wisdom, a level of acceptance, my health is good, and it’s far better than any alternative, but I don’t like it.  I doubt I ever will.  It is, however, what it is.

So, three more days and it’s all just one more memory.  I suspect that our New Year’s Eve celebration will end up being a quiet one at home, us and the pups, probably one of those years in which we don’t even stay up late enough to greet 2013 officially until the morning.

And I’m ok with that.

Kink First – My First Event

I’ve talked before about my first event, which was Black Rose 10, in November of 1997.

It was called Black Rose 10 because it was a party to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Black Rose organization, out of Washington, D.C.

My submissive at the time was Bill, who lived outside Chicago and was some minor Republican elected official, one that sent him to Washington on a fairly regular basis.

Who knows, maybe he wasn’t so minor of an official.  If I could only remember anything other than Bill, I might be able to find out, but then, I’d have to be particularly interested, too, and I’m not, so there’s that.

Anyway, Bill spent enough time in D.C. that he knew about BR and knew about the party, and wanted to go and wanted me to go with him.

I don’t know what I expected, or what I knew about events.  I’d been to some local play parties, which I should talk about next, maybe, but anyway, I had some idea, I imagine, what was going to happen, what to expect, but only a vague idea.

So, we drove to D.C.  Bill took me to some expensive and lovely seafood restaurant on the bay.  I remember having some lovely lobster bisque, and craw fish, which Bill peeled for me.

It was the first time I’d been to D.C., so we did some of the things one does in D.C.  I remember going to the Lincoln Memorial and being really awed by the size of it and the grandeur.

We went to the FDR memorial, of course, because there’s a statue of Fala there.  It’s the only Presidential pet so honored.  Fala, of course, was a Scottish Terrier, and we know that I think it’s appropriate that a Scottish Terrier should have that distinction.

What I remember most, though, was going to the Vietnam Memorial and walking down along the wall, seeing the names, the trinkets and tokens tucked into the wall or left on the path beside it, people taking pencil etchings of names.

Bill was about 15 years older than I, I think, meaning he both remembered Vietnam well and had lost friends in it.  I remember he walked along the wall with me but didn’t really look at it, and he had tears on his face by the time we reached the end.

It was a gray, rainy day, and we walked over to the Vietnam Nurses Memorial, too, which was still fairly newly installed.  The picture I took there is one of my favorites that I’ve taken.

So, anyway, that was the D.C. portion of our tour.

Then we went to Black Rose.

It was, I think, in a Ramada, though over the years the hotels blur.

I remember I went to all the classes I could, and they were, almost without exception, really good classes.

I went to Sarah Lash’s Flogging Class.

I went to a panel on Edge/Fear play, that had sitting on it Joseph Bean, a lawyer named, I think, Rose, and a couple other people.

I went to a class by a guy who went by Big Mark on online presence that I found so unpleasant I walked out, but I took a class of his later, I think at a later Black Rose, on caning that was very very good.

I remember watching the S&M Olympics, and a Pet Tricks contest.

In the Pet Contest, what I remember was seeing some very cute girl who was a puppy.  She had her hair in what Beth always called “puppy ear” pigtails, and had a nose and some whiskers painted on her face.

I remember riding with her and her Owner on the elevator and she was totally in character, sniffing my feet and wagging her “tail” at me quite fetchingly.

There was, I think, some kind of agility contest and some obedience exercises, but then each pet – I think there were two or three – showed off their “special skill.”

Her skill was painting a self portrait, and it was so entertainingly done.

Her master gave her a paint brush, which she held in her mouth, and there was a palette on the ground.  He had put a little beret on her, as well, and she had a mirror into which she could look.

She “painted” with the brush in her mouth, dipping it into the palette, cocking her head, really hamming it up in the most charming way possible.  Finally, she was done and her master held up the finished work, an eight by ten photograph of the girl in her puppy persona, wearing a beret.

It was really adorable.

I saw the same girl later that night being suspended by Midori, in a sort of arabesque position, laughing and having a wonderful time.

There was a Bondage in a Bag contest, wherein each couple got a bag with the same random items, like 50 feet or rope, a 3″ wooden dowel, a set of chopsticks, a pair of shoelaces and a leather belt, all of which had to be used in a bondage rigging that the riggee could stand to remain in for a half hour or so.

There was a nipple clamp contest for who could take the most weight on, I assume, alligator clamps, the kind that tighten as you pull on them, and one for weight on balls.  There was a clothespin contest for who could stand the most on their body.

I met some people there, or at the next three Black Roses that are still around.  I met Joansie, I think, at one of the Black Roses, and just saw her in Chicago last month.

I met Mark, who wrote something I worked on editing, a piece I heard him read called, “Biker Nick.”

I met Greg, whom I have met perhaps a dozen times since, though each time he looks at me blankly and if there’s a reason to speak, he says it’s nice to meet me.

I met Frazier, who runs The Crucible public dungeon in D.C., and is an expert with a single tail.  He at least took part in the S&M Olympics, maybe won.

I met Midori there, or at least saw her the first time, though I likely didn’t meet her, really, until a few years later.  I certainly remember her, and I’ve had dinner with her in a group of people a few times, but we’re certainly no more than acquaintances.

I think I met Lolita Wolf there, too, or at least first ran into her there, another person with whom I have an acquaintance.

I met Goddess Lakshimi, and her slave, limey.  limey was drew’s best man at our wedding, and Goddess did a reading there, too.  Goddess dresses gorgeously always, and always wears jewelry.

I remember on our wedding day, she was wearing some dangling crystal earrings, which she took off and handed to me, saying, “You should be the only Goddess in the house today.”

I do remember walking into the dungeon the first time.

It was ENORMOUS.

They had taken over a parking garage, and my memory recalls that there were 113 pieces of equipment.

In retrospect, having arranged events myself now, that seems nearly impossible, but then, it was D.C., and it was a BIG event, something like a couple thousand people, I think.

I do have the program somewhere, I imagine, in a file cabinet in the basement, I should really look for it one of these days.

Anyway, I remember the first thing I saw was a person suspended via a LOT of fishhooks.

It’s one of the few times I have ever been shocked, honestly, at an event.

I have been surprised, been impressed, been sure something wasn’t for me, but I have rarely been shocked.  I don’t think I can honestly remember another time, in fact.

But part of it is, I don’t like needles, they are something that squicks me and always has, though I am less squicked now than I used to be, but still.

And this was 15 years ago.

But I remember looking up and seeing this and thinking, “Oh.  My.  God.  These people are *crazy!*

I am sure we played, because I like public play, and so did Bill, but I don’t remember that.  I do know it was certainly the biggest space in which I had ever played and the most people, too.

I do remember hearing all the people around me and the music, I remember that being a very intoxicating kind of environment, and it was still very new to me.  Events in general were still pretty new, though Black Rose 10 was not the first event ever, certainly.

I went to three more Black Rose events, 1998, 1999 and 2000, but none sense.  I had an opportunity to present there six or seven years ago, and that’s one place that I would have liked to present at, particularly at that time, but we couldn’t work out the various details, and then Black Rose had some issues mostly with locations, and they took a hiatus and their weekends kind of swapped around and I lost track, really, of which years it was held and when, October or November?

Since then, I’ve been to close to 100 events, large and small, and organized some all on my own, but that was the first event, and it was, as my mother would have said, a doozy.

(Sorry for the weird photo spacing, one of these days I’ll actually bother to learn the software here…)

Kink First – My First Toy

I was thinking, while I was driving to and from slave drew’s house, that one of the things that might be interesting was to blog about some of my kinky first, and one I thought about in particular was my first “real” toy.

By real, I mean, something that was not meant for something else, a pervertable, but something that cost more than a few dollars.

When you lay out real money for a toy, an implement that isn’t used for anything else but to indulge your kink, well, you’ve kind of crossed over from just dabbling.  You’re committed.

So, the first event I went to was the very first Black Rose.  One of the presenters and vendors there was Sarah Lashes, a British Lesbian out of San Francisco.

She did an amazing class on floggers and flogging, one which probably influenced me more than any other class on flogging.

The floggers she had there to sell were gorgeous, beautifully knotted and balanced.  They were also quite expensive, about $250-$300 each, and this was 15 years ago.

I found this description of Sarah on the web, “Those who are into ‘Floggers’ will know that those with the two highest reputations are: Sarah’s Lashes and Jeannette Heartwood.”  Sarah was more known on the west coast, Jeannette on the east.

So, I lusted after the floggers, but they were just too much for me to blow on that kind of thing, but I took a card and thought, when I can afford those…

So, a few months later I got a new job and in addition to a good wage, I got a rather generous signing bonus.

I called Sarah.

We talked, I remember, for probably a half hour.

We talked about the kinds of people I played with – men, mostly, so I’d want something with some weight.

We talked about the kind of material.  I ended up with a soft but weighty deer hide and a sharp bull hide.

We talked about how long I wanted the falls.  Not too long, she advised, the length would mean weight and because I’m short, too long would be too much.

We talked about the fact that I have smallish hands, so she made the shaft of the floggers just a bit smaller in diameter, so I could grip them more easily.

We talked about color, and I knew I wanted purple.

She quoted me a price that made me flinch, but not out of doubt over whether it was a fair price.  But it was an impressive amount regardless.

I wrote the check and sent it out the next day.

It took about six or eight weeks to get them, but then they arrived, and I’ve never regretted a cent of the price, not from that day to this.

They’re beautiful floggers, purple and black, and despite the difference in weights they’re both so perfectly balanced that you can use them as a pair.

The deerskin is soft, heavy, very thuddy.  The bullhide is thick and heavy, with a sharp edge to it.  I don’t use it as often, but I use at least one of them nearly every time I play, if I’ve got the room.

Floggers do tend to require a swing, so they’re awkward in smaller spaces, but even then, I still use them.

I’ve gained a lot of other toys over the years, though those are still among the most expensive items in my collection, at least to me, and I suppose they’re collector’s items, if there is such a thing, now.

I know Heartwood whips, particularly the ones she actually made, are coveted.

Yeah, it’s hard to tell yourself it’s a casual interest when your toy cost more than your month’s rent.

Home Again

I never type that without hearing the kid’s rhyme, “Home again, home again, higgelty pig.”

My ex, Beth, and I used to disagree over the wording, she’d learned it as “diggity dog,” but it was clearly “higgelty pig.”

It was not as pretty a drive back as it was down, though it wasn’t bad.  It was very windy for the first 60 miles or so, or about the first third of it.

The leaves were whipping around the highway, that last sort of rattle of Autumn saying, “No, really, I’m serious, he’s RIGHT behind me.”

It was still warm, but it didn’t look so much like fall anymore, it looked a lot more like winter.

About 30 miles from drew’s house, I saw a bald eagle snag a bird in mid-air about 20 feet in front of me.

It was certainly swooping low enough to clearly see it wasn’t a hawk.  It was too big and had a white head and tail, which a hawk does not.  It was also darker, rather than the buff color of a hawk.

And trust me, you do not live with slave drew and not know the difference between a red-tail hawk and a sharp shinned.

It’s size, mostly, and the feathery pantaloons the sharp shinned wears.

It was impressively enormous.  drew tells me they have a six foot wing span, and this one was every bit of it.

I’ve seen bald eagles before, both in that area and elsewhere.  There’s nesting ground there, so eagles are around, though I’ve seen them closer to the lake before.

We drove around another eagle nesting grounds on some trip of ours and the thing I remember most was watching one of the parents sitting on the nest as we drove along the roadway below.

He screamed at us, stood threateningly on the edge of the nest, made it VERY clear that if we dared to come anywhere close to that nest, he knew exactly what to do with those talons and the beak that tears flesh.

Had I not had a metal cage around me, I’d have been pretty intimidated, actually.

Imagine how satisfying it must have been for him as the giant red metal threat drove away and he marched back to the the continued-sanctity of his own home.

So, anyway, I saw a bald eagle, and that is always a cool thing.

I had some time this afternoon to do some catching up with emails, etc.  I checked in on a friend’s cat while he’s away.

I made some lists as I drove – not texts, I really am not coordinated enough for that, scrawls on paper.  I hope I can read them.

I got a couple of the items on my to-do list taken care of tonight.

I unpacked a couple of the last dining room  boxes.  I’m nearly to the point of deciding what goes where, and that will be nice.

And though I missed Lurker’s Day, it’s still kind of Lurker’s Weekend, so feel free to continue to lurk, or speak up and say something.

Agree with me.

Disagree with me.

Or just sit there quietly, that’s ok, too.

Amish Photo Gallery

So, the first three photos are photos of Amish country, taken while sitting at a picnic table under a tree, sharing an Amish doughnut.

The rest are slave drew’s home, inside and out, including the Paul McCobb pieces and the German radio.  The sculptures you see in the yard are all ones drew has carved.

We had a lovely weekend, I hope you did, too.

Amish Country

I am at the moment sitting in slave drew’s living room.

For those of you in the know, it might matter that I’m typing on a Paul McCobb dining room table, sitting on one of four of his “shovel” chairs, and facing a buffet piece with two jewelry chests on top of it, all also done by the same Danish modern designer.

drew’s house is as eclectic as he himself is. It has a lot of art made by prisoners scattered around.

He curated an art show ten years or so back of art produced by prisoners in Kentucky prisons, and that lead to a couple other pieces, as well as the stuff he bought or was given by prisoners.

On one wall is a leather nature scene by a guy who killed three members of a rival biker gang, with one of the motives being the theft of a motorcycle jack with on of the victim’s club colors on the back.  He’s doing life without parole.

One another wall has a sculpture made of cardboard mostly of a pig farmer, done by a guy who spent a long time in prison, but spent about the last ten years of his life outside.  He married, and died a couple of years ago of kidney failure.

There are violins made of toothpicks and miniature carts made of Popsicle sticks.

There are carousels of wood, brightly painted by a prisoner at Green Rivers facility.

The bed frame in the downstairs bedroom is one drew made from an old confessional.

He has a radio, circa the 1930’s or so, a big piece of furniture, with all the words in German.

We started to watch Goldfinger last night and ended up going to bed by 9pm Central time, and sleep very shortly after.

We got up this morning and headed to Amish country.  We go through Fredonia, and Crayne and Marion, to Mattoon, where there’s a large population of Amish.

It was a beautiful day, sunny and very mild, with a high in the 70’s.  You rather wend your way over there, and it’s somewhere we’ve been going since, I think, the first time I came down here, which was 2000.

We went to the place we always go, the Yoder Greenhouse and Bakery.  We buy plants there in warm weather, and baked goods in every weather.

We got sad news from Mr. Yoder, Milo Yoder, to be exact.  Next weekend will be the last weekend for the place as we know it.

Mr. and Mrs. Yoder are retiring and moving maybe a quarter mile down the road.  “I’ll still be here some in the spring especially,” he told us, but one of his sons is taking over.

He and Mrs. Yoder, we found out, had ten children, the oldest and the youngest being daughters, the ones in between being sons.

They have 60 grandchildren now, and a half dozen great-grandchildren.  He’s had three hip replacements and doesn’t need to be hauling bags of dirt and plants anymore,.

The bakery equipment is being sold to another Amish family, and his wife is going to spend a few weeks with them, getting them set up and giving them her recipes, so it will continue.

But you know it won’t be the same.

Mr. Yoder will be missed, as will the bakery, so I was very glad we came down today.

Traveling with drew always involved a certain amount of naturalist conversation.

Me: “Wow, look at that big hawk.”

drew: “It’s probably a female if it’s big.  In the raptor families, the females are always bigger than the males.”

Me: “The trees have a lot more leaves than I expected and the colors are gorgeous.”

drew: “Yes, the silver maples are particularly pretty this year, and I love the color of the sumac.”

Me: “…”

drew: “Look at that field of goldenrod.  Wow.  I think that’s all gray-stemmed goldenrod, every bit of it.”

If you don’t learn something new around drew, then you’re not trying.

We came home and took our usual lake afternoon nap, which was particularly nice.  I rarely nap, so the times when I do are kind of extra nice.

I don’t think we’re going anywhere tonight.  The nearest theatre is 15 miles away and has an awful sound system.

drew has no cable, but he’s got a huge collection of movies on VHS and DVD both, so we’ll not suffer for lack of something to watch.

I took some lovely photos of Amish country, but they need a bit of lightening up, so I will get those posted in the next day or two.

I hope you all have had as pleasant a Saturday as I have.  I made myself laugh until I cried when, in naming members of the Rat Pack – you also have to know your 60’s and 70’s culture around here – I mistakenly listed Peter Lorre rather than Peter Lawford.

drew doing his impression of Peter Lorre in the Rat Pack was also pretty damn funny and I laughed until I had to wipe away the tears.

Think about it.  Peter Lorre in the Rat Pack.

It’s pretty amusing.

Western Kentucky

I am at slave drew’s house this weekend, in Western Kentucky, in the Land Between the Lakes area – between Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Both lakes are man-made.  Back in the early 1960’s, the old town of Kuttawa was flooded to form the lakes.

Think “Brother, Where Art Thou.”

Somewhere at the bottom of the lake, the old buildings are, or whatever is left of them, anyway.

We went out to dinner and by the time we finished at 7pm local time, the restaurant was emptying out, the rush over.

People eat early down here.

Tomorrow, we’ll go to Amish country, about 45 minutes away.

I suspect I’ll have a more enlightening blog tomorrow, but tonight, I believe, we are going to settle in and watch Goldfinger, then it’s likely to be early to bed.

Have a lovely weekend.

Events

I just got an invitation this week to present at Kinky Kollege in Chicago in October.  An old friend, Jack Rinella, asked me to do a 101 sort of class for them, as well as a couple more.  I don’t know what else I’ll present for him, I sent him a long list of classes I have available.

I will also be presenting with my friend Ms Tammy at Mr. Georgia Leather in Atlanta in September, and of course I’ll be presenting at GLLA in August in Indianapolis.  I presented last month at Corn Con in Bloomington, Illinois, and in April at Beyond Leather, in Florida.

I also do local classes once a month at least, too.

I like presenting.  I’m a dominant, what’s better than standing in front of a bunch of people, all of who are gazing at me with rapt attention, hanging on every word I say.  Or so I tell myself.

One of my favorite classes to present is a communication class.  It talks a lot about the differences in the ways women communicate versus men.  While I always preface it by noting that it is, indeed, stereotypical and there are men and women who don’t behave in those ways, I find that it is substantially true.

I do a class on rituals that’s always fun, because I get a lot of audience participation.  I ask people what rituals they use, what works for them, what doesn’t.

I do a lot of classes for novices, 101-type classes.  I find that often the easiest thing is to give them some general information, and then let them ask questions about whatever they’d like.  I need to start the class because they’re too shy in the beginning to just speak up, but once I get them started, they’re fine.

I started presenting a dozen years ago now, mostly as a way to offset the expense of going to events.  It got me a free registration, or two.  It’s only been in the last few years that I’ve either moved up the ranks enough or the times have changed enough that the deals are better now, but sometimes I get a night or two in a hotel and once in a great while, expenses as well.  Kinky Kollege is a good gig, free hotel, two registrations and expenses.

I don’t know how many classes I’ve offered at how many events.  I’d guess that I’ve been to an average of six events a year for the last nearly 15 years.  Some years it’s been fewer, but many years it’s been more.  If nothing else is added to my schedule before the end of the year, I will have been to or presented at about eight events in a year’s time.

So, at a half dozen events a year for 15 years, that’s about 90 events, probably more.  I’ve been to 10 GLLA’s.  I think I was at six or seven Vicious Valentines, and a couple of Malicious Masquerades.  I’ve been to four Black Roses, including the first one.

I’ve been to Leather Retreat and Dark Odyssey and Thunder in the Mountains and Northwest Leather Conference and South Plains Leather Fest and South East Leather Fest.  I went to six or eight Ohio Leather Fests, and eight or nine Anything for Loves.

I’ve been to Beat Me in St. Louis at least four or five times, and Beyond Leather four times.  I’ve been to Leather Leadership Converence three times.

I’ve been to Smart Fest and Pheer Fest and Beat My Valentines.  I’ve been to Corn Con and Evening in Leather and Master’s Retreat.

I have produced my own events, too, two Derby City Fetish Balls and two Bluegrass Leather Pride Festivals.

I’ve been to more smaller events than I can remember – in Indiana and Kentucky and Ohio, Leather contests and bar nights and Pride Celebrations.

And now I feel as though I should have set this to the music of the old Johnny Cash song, “I’ve Been Everywhere.”

 

 

 

 

Corn Con

I am back now from my weekend excursion, to Bloomington, Illinois.

I was at a great event called Convention in the Corn, or Corn Con.

It’s a very small event, I doubt there were 75 people there all told, but we had a great time.  I went with my friend Kenny, and Ms Tammy and her slave, troy.

Corn Con is put on by Spyn, a black Lesbian Dominant.  I’ve known Spyn for years, though not well at all.  She always comes to Great Lakes, but we never had a reason to do more than say hello in passing.  She’d approached Ms Tammy to present, and she suggested that I contact Spyn about presenting, too, since we often travel together and didn’t mind staying together.

So, after a little back and forth, I ended up as one of the three presenters, who also included my friend Min, who works at the Leather Rose Association in Chicago, a local BDSM club/play space.

I rode up with Kenny, a gay bottom in our local community, who often goes along with us, too.  He’s honestly a great addition because he does things like carry my bags and open doors.  He’s also extremely easy to get along with.

So I did the opening class, a BDSM 101, which I’ve done a lot.  It wasn’t a ton of people in the class, but I had probably 15-20 by the time it was over.  We talked about basic etiquette within the community, what behavior was acceptable and what wasn’t, as well as fielding some ideas for specific issues people were having.  It was a fun class to do.

After my class, Min did a class on Daddy Doms, then Ms Tammy did a class on health assessments for BDSM play partners, followed by Min’s class on toys, including using some unconventional toys – a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke, a role of paper towels, etc.  After a provided lunch, Ms Tammy did a class on Decorative Needle Play.

I finished up the day by moderating a dominant’s round table, which turned into more of a leadership round table.  I really enjoyed that, partially because I like moderating.  It’s interesting to handle a round table, because you want to make sure that everyone who wants to speak gets a chance, without letting anyone dominated it or hijack the discussion.  You also try hard to notice who looks like they want to speak but hasn’t raised their hand, because that’s hard for some people, too.  All in all, I think it was very worthwhile.

After the last class, I ended up doing an impromptu cane class before dinner.  I do love canes and I don’t usually mind teaching people how to do it better.  I had a small audience of about 10 people, but that’s enough, too.

Most of us went to dinner together after the classes, before the play space opened.  We went across the street to a Cracker Barrel.  Not my favorite place, but it was close and perfectly fine and we had a good time.

As I mentioned, Spyn is black, as is Min and Ms Tammy’s slave troy.  We were at a table of ten of us, and our waiter was both black and obviously gay.  Sypn was buying our dinner as part of a presenter gig, and she was teasing the people with presenters about buying their dinner.  We had joked a fair amount about race and color, comfortably.  No one was upset, and it was all completely in joking.

Kenny, who is white, was joking back and said, to Spyn, “It’s because I’m black, isn’t it?”

Two things happened at the same time.  The waiter, who thought he was being spoken to, whirled around about to point out that it was NOT because Kenny was black, obviously, because the waiter was black, too.  Once he realized Kenny was white, his face took on that look your dog gives you when you do something utterly incomprehensible to him.

At the same time, Spyn and Min, apparently struck by the prospect of a gay white man insisting he was being treated badly, which he obviously wasn’t, because he was black, nearly choked in laughter.  It took about 10 minutes before everyone had stopped laughing long enough to actually draw breath.

Afterwards, we went back to the room and changed to go to the dungeon, where Ms Tammy and I played with troy and I did another requested caning, which was fun as well.

This morning was breakfast with most of the crew, then the drive home.

I’m tired, because I sleep poorly anyway and hotels are always harder.  I suspect that I will not stay up very late tonight, but I am glad to be home and I enjoyed myself, too.

Fireflies

Those of you who might know slave drew might recognize that it’s nearly impossible to spend time with him without learning a fair amount about birds, animals, national parks, and the life of a whale.  It’s his thing.

I often think, though, that I’d MUCH prefer that, if he’s going to memorize facts, they are facts about nature or animals.  If he memorized facts about NASCAR or pro football, I might have to smack him.  In a bad way.

So, we were in Florida in April and I routed us through a different course on the way home. Normally we’d have caught I65 at Nashville and taken it all the way back to Louisville, but we both dislike the truck traffic, so we cut through the middle of Tennessee and caught 65 north of Bowling Green.

Neither of us had ever gone that route before, and it was really lovely.  It was slower, but we stopped in places we’d not have stopped and saw things we’d not have seen, so  there are worse things.

I was particularly thinking about fireflies last night because one plopped himself down on some papers I was working on.  He was escorted outside, where he could search for his mate in peace.

I love fireflies.

I had never seen fireflies until I moved to upstate New York when I was 20.  We don’t have them in the desert.  I’d also never seen a squirrel – another thing we don’t have there.   Jack rabbits, snakes, scorpions, yes.  Squirrels and fireflies, no.

The whole detoured route through central Tennessee and Kentucky was made worthwhile, or rather, even more worthwhile, by one single incident.

drew was driving and I was just looking out the window.  It was probably about 9pm, and we had just crossed over the Kentucky state line.  We were in the middle of the country, driving on some state route that was taking us through small towns, past farms and fields.

It was dark, pitch dark in fact, because it was country, an area with no street lights and only the occasional window of light visible.  Farm country, too, where people go to bed and get up early.

We were driving by a field, a large one that was at least the size of a couple of city blocks, and at first I thought, “Did someone somehow string little Christmas lights all though this enormous field?”

We stopped the car and got out because it was so amazing, and rather magical.

The field was full of fireflies.  Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of fireflies.

I don’t think any single firefly was more than a foot away from another firefly.  If you’d been able to cut out a cubic yard of the air above the field, I think you’d have had at least 50 or 100 fireflies in that area.

And they were blinking their little hearts out.

It’s the kind of thing that won’t show in a photo, there’s no way to really see it, except with your own eyes.

Everywhere you looked were more flashes of light than you could count, flashing on and off, moving as they flashed.

We had been in a number of amazing places on the trip, seen ancient mangrove and cypress, glades of fern, enchanting spots that made it easy to understand believing in fairies or sprites.  The fireflies simply emphasized that.  Flashes of light, everywhere you looked.

There were other fields on the way home, and there were a lot of fireflies in all of them, but none as full as that one, none as astonishing as that field out in central southern Kentucky.

I love fireflies.