Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas Planning Already!

Last night, Elaine and I made our annual pilgrimage to Westminster, Maryland's Mistletoe Mart.  The local Episcopal Church presents a very successful juried arts and crafts show each year.  Let me tell you about some places we visited.

1.  Summerhaze Pottery

Elaine has a collection of a special type of pottery created only by the Summerhaze shop, hidden in a remote area of  Tidewater Virginia.  James Stewart might have written a poem about their place:

Summerhaze Pottery is a beautiful place,
Surrounded by green trees and grass,
But getting to Summerhaze Pottery,
Is a terrible pain in the ass.

But worth it.. Elaine and I visited there a few years ago and were given a royal tour of their kiln area and workshops.  I think I have written somewhere else in my blogs about their friendly dogs.

Summerhaze came up to the Mistletoe Mart just so Elaine could add another piece to her collection.  Here is a picture of a piece she already had, so you can see why she likes it.

Summerhaze has many other kinds of pottery that you might like.  Check them out at:

2.  Our Favorite Sculptor

John Sokolovich is a true artist who works in metal.  He sculpts and welds all kinds of creations from scrap metal, old tools, license plates and any other metalic thing he can find.  Elaine and I visited his enormous barn-studio in New Oxford, Pennsylvania, and were astounded and amazed at some of the beautiful items dreamed up by his ever-working brain.  

At this show, he had one item that would have made a Baltimore Ravens fan drool.  It was a Raven crafted out of a license plate, scissors, wire, bolts, and I don't know what else.  The only problem, he had forgotten to paint it purple.  Before we left the show, I noticed that a fan was buying the raven from him.. he will probably take it upon himself to paint it purple... or.. is the raven supposed to stay black?

We didn't buy anything from John this year, but take a look at what we bought a couple of years ago:

We bought a twin of this last year.  Now we have one on each wall framing our deck door.

John doesn't have a website, but if you are interested in seeing some of his work, send him an email at

3.  Smells good!

Another spot that we like at the Mistletoe Mart is where the folks from Willow Pond Farm are located.  Willow Pond Farm itself is located in Fairfield, Pennsylvania, near Gettysburg.  These folks specialize in herbs of all kinds and have on display samples of many dips made from their herbs and also homemade vinegars, jams and jellies, honey of all types, and homespun clothing.  Of course, Elaine and I sample almost everything; Elaine doesn't do garlic.

Every year, we end up buying flavored honey and a catnip-filled cloth fish on a string.  Usually, our cat (s) will tear those fish up in ten minutes flat;  this year, SuZee sniffed it a few times and ignored it.. I wonder why.

Each year the Pennsylvania Lavender Festival is held for three days in June at Willow Pond Farm.  There are workshops, lectures, and cut-your-own-lavender sessions.   The farm maintains three acres of lavendar plantings.  The lavender smell helps Elaine to sleep.

Interested in Willow Pond Farm?

Interested in the Lavender Festival?

4. I dare you not to laugh!

Another favorite spot at the Mistletoe Mart is the area where Bruce Garrabrandt shows his remarkable artwork.  Bruce does lots of things.  He is a professional artist, writer, motivational speaker, and inn-keeper (with his wife).  He resides at their Bed-and-Breakfast in Terre Hill, Pennsylvania, right in the middle of the Pennsylvania Dutch Country.  He creates FUNNY pictures!

I bought one of Bruce's books,   The Power of Having Desire, (the Key Secret to Accomplishing Anything You Really Want.)  (You might rightly ask: why does a guy at my age want with a motivational book?  I dunno.  Guess I'm still a little ambitious... and I want to get up the nerve to do some of the things I have always wanted to do before I shuffle off this ... well you know what I mean.)

In his book are words of praise by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Ben Carson MD, Tim Conway, and Bill Keane.  I admire all of these persons for their "worldliness"... i.e., their mature outlook on the world, even when it is hidden inside professionalism, comedy, and/or cartoons.  (For those of you who may not know, Bill Keane, the creator of The Family Circus, passed away yesterday.  I think that his son, Jeff, will be carrying on the "family" tradition.)

If these folks like Bruce's work, I can't wait to read his book.  In addition, I purchased a CD that he published called: Nature with a Twist (a Playful Look at Life, Art and Other Turmoil).  The cover shows a rabbit atop Bruce's head, shown in a twisted frame with the title: Hare Transplant. 

A couple of testimonials listed on the CD cover are worth pondering:  "Dating Bruce was pivotal in my decision to become a nun."  and "...and (he) once had his underwear sewn shut by an irate co-ed."   Get the picture?  This guy is my kind of loony-toons genius.  You gotta check his work out!

5. Sweet stuff

A choclatier had a site where she was selling a box of 18 chocolates for $35.  They can't be that good, can they?  Instead, while poking around the cookie/candy table, I found a bag of 50 milk-chocolate Trick-or-Treat candies for $1., a much better buy, in my opinion. Of course, as a pre-diabetic person, I violated my chocolate probation and devoured a large amount of these delicious candies before we left the building.   Please don't tell on me.. it's bad enough that my A1C test will squeal on me in a couple of months.

Basta! Enough!  In November 2012, barring disasters predicted by some kind of Aztec prophet, the Mistletoe Mart will be on again, and I invite you to come and visit with the nice folks I have mentioned.