Monday, March 29, 2010

Billet Doux

I have really fallen down on the old blogging lately, though, in my own defense, there has been little time to blog.  This past weekend, I presented a workshop in Fort St. John, BC.  The workshop was well-received, but the participants had a complaint about my blog... apparently, I do not blog often enough.  So, even though I am still on the road, I had to sit down and rectify that situation.

March has been a busy month.  Actually, that is something of an understatement.  It would be more accurate to say that March was an insanely action-packed month.  Workshops, medical appointments, children's theatre and more workshops totally consumed the month, leaving me little or no downtime.  I'm now in Vancouver and looking forward to some of that downtime--a lovely week-long visit with Miss Lexi, with Steve, Julia, and my father-in-law joining us later in the week.  Stanley Park, White Rock, Granville Island, plus all of our favorite little haunts await, and the freedom to knit any old thing that strikes my fancy.  R and R at its finest.

I'm hanging out in my daughter's apartment tonight.  Last night, I was in a lovely home on the banks of the Peace River.  Three weeks ago, I visited two equally lovely homes in Arizona.  I have been billeted a bit lately.

The term billeting comes from an old military tradition of sending a letter (a billet, from the French word for, oddly enough, letter) to a community demanding that soldiers be given rooms in homes there.  Nowadays, it's a more generously offered accommodation, given to out-of-towners for any number of reasons. Billeting is pretty common for those of us who travel to teach in the arts and crafts world and, while there are those who find it awkward or uncomfortable, I love it.

I have been billeted several times, in all sorts of different homes.  Some have been spacious and elaborate.  Some have been cozy and homey.  I have had a private bathrooms and I have shared a bathroom with a family of 5.  I have met spinners, and their husbands, and their kids, their friends, and their dogs, cats, bunnies and birds.  I have eaten wonderful food.  I have been plied with coffee, with wine, with chocolate, and with oatmeal.  I have been taken to favorite restaurants and pubs.  I have been toured around towns and cities and shown the sights, many of which are wonderfully yarny.

I have had my several billets in the last few years, and they have all been wonderful in some way or another.   The generosity of those who open their homes to visiting instructors is amazing.  Non-coffee-drinkers get coffee in.  I jokingly tell someone that I am partial to cake, and a cake is baked.   Night-owls get up early in the morning to make sure I get a good breakfast before the workshop.  Red wine flows like water.  (Seriously, I am somewhat concerned that the entire spinning community in North America will one day be washed away by a red wine tsunami.  I'm pretty sure we keep several vineyards in business, just us spinners!)  And everyone who acts as hostess does so willingly, with great joy and enthusiasm.  I love these people!

Don't get me wrong--hotels are nice, too.  But there is something that just warms the cockles of my heart about being invited into someone's home, into their life, even just for a day or two.

The word billet also appears in the French phrase "billet doux", which means love letter.  So tonight I am sending a love letter to all those wonderful who have hosted me in their homes over the past few years, and to those that I hope will do so in the future.  Thank you for your generosity, your kindness, your candidness, and your beds.  You have enhanced each of my travel experiences by sharing your lives with me, and I appreciate it more than I can ever say.

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