Late Night Watch…

Good Evening and Happy Friday, everyone! We made it to another weekend!

Today’s post is, obviously, being published much later in the day than usual- and for good reason. I pulled a (near) all-nighter last night that was simply sensational and worth the current groggy, foggy feeling I’ve got going on. I’m going to sleep beautifully tonight!

After dodging some late-afternoon/early-evening thunderstorms and micro-bursts in the Valley yesterday on my way home from my office- it was off to another delicious and beautiful meal with Troy at Galaxy in Easthampton– which is quickly becoming one of my favorite places to hang out and stuff my face.

And, I won’t lie- I got a little tipsy-topsy on the most delicious rum and coconut cocktail ever. I’m going to miss all the Summer-themed drinks come September/October!

Hours later, long after I sobered up and well past midnight- I headed around the corner from my apartment to drop by and visit friends who were hosting an all-night art/photography exhibit in Bank Row in Greenfield.

Over the weekend, someone(s) ripped down and destroyed stunning portraits that were hanging downtown of local legend, drag queen- and absolutely wonderful and talented human being- Joe Dulude II. The portraits were bright, fun, and livened up the area- and their destruction caused a lot of distress to those who know/knew Joe and are familiar with the work he does for, and the joy he brings to the community.

Last night, as a sign of resilience- multiple portraits of Joe in drag (all done by the same incredible photographer who had taken the ones that had been vandalized) were projected on the side of the former First National Bank where the originals had once hung. The impromptu art installation lasted all night- wrapping up this morning- and when I stopped by at nearly 1 a.m. the party was still going strong.

It was wonderful to see everyone, talk, laugh, admire the photos- and say hello to other night owls that were passing by. It was such a positive outcome for such a negative and destructive act.

Next week on the blog, I’m talking Summer Slam, makeup, and recapping an upcoming visit to one of my favorite New England stops during the Summer!

Here’s wishing you all a wonderful weekend ahead. I’ll see you all again on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Hitting The Trail…

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Good Morning and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

Last week, when I went to MASS MoCA for the very first time– Troy drove us there by way of Route 2 West- a scenic roadway that dips between mountains and alongside rivers. I had stated I spent most of the drive with my face essentially pressed against the window as I took it all in- and knew right away I wanted to come back to see/photograph some of the roadside attractions (my kryptonite!) along the Mohawk Trail.

The opportunity presented itself yesterday morning during a scheduled day off for me. The last of the furniture I had ordered for my place was arriving in the afternoon- giving me a solid block of a few hours in the sunny A.M. to go exploring before the delivery people arrived to set up. I grabbed my camera, my keys- and a coconut cold brew via Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters and hit the road.

Now, because it’s the Mohawk Trail- there’s no shortage of Native American-inspired gift shops and trading posts along the way advertising moccasins, pottery, jewelry, etc. None of them were open as I was stopping/passing by- and they were definitely a little tacky- but that’s the beauty of roadside attractions.

When I did eventually reach a decent area to park alongside a low-flowing river near a state park, I kicked off my shoes and headed on into the water for a super cold, super refreshing calf-high dip. While I was splashing around, I found what looked like two pieces of smoothed over quartz. I cleaned them off and brought them back with me- one for myself and one for Troy- who was the reason I even found out the river existed.

One of the more interesting finds was on my way back to Greenfield where I stopped at the Hail to the Sunrise Monument in Charlemont. Although the reflecting pool was empty, I still got to see the stones depicting various tribes and councils around the United States- and the statue of the Mohawk Native American was in pristine condition.

I was the only one there at the time, and snapped some great photos. You can click on any of the images below to enlarge them.

Although the rest of my day was uneventful- apart from running some errands and tidying up my place- I had such a lovely morning and I’m glad I had the opportunity to go on a mini adventure during the week.

I’m working from home today, and should probably finish breakfast and get comfortable before I launch into my e-mails, voicemails, etc. Here’s hoping you all have a good “Hump Day!” Gotta’ keep pushing through to the weekend!

See y’all on Friday!

xx

– Ashley –

Into The Wild…

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone!

While I’m not particularly thrilled at being back at work in my office so bright and early this morning- I had such a great weekend that I’m still running on that energy so not much can bring me down at this point. I’m sure I’ll be singing a different tune by like, 11 a.m.- but right now I’m feeling fine.

Saturday was my usual afternoon routine, where I hosted my Indie617 show from 12-4 (and thanks to everyone who participated in a lively lyric discussion!)– but from there I went on to perform in a “Summer Showcase” dance and performance event in Salem for a studio I’ve been working closely with over these past few months. I presented a piece I wrote and directed myself- inspired by my struggles with depression, anxiety, self-doubt and ultimately acceptance of my flaws- and the response was overwhelmingly positive.

I haven’t mentioned my work there- or my performance- until now as I’d been extremely self-conscious and wanted to perfect it before I went ahead and shared it with the masses via additional shows or social media- but Saturday night’s reaction was definitely a confidence booster.

Yesterday, in the post-show glow-y haze I was in- Troy advised me he was picking me up and taking me to an unknown destination in The Berkshires and, specifically, New York. Never one to back down from an adventure in a new destination- I agreed.

After a long drive through picturesque towns like Stockbridge and Great Barrington (with lunch at The Marketplace on the way)– we reached our destination on the Massachusetts/New York line- Bash Bish Fallls. Or, as I kept calling it- “Bad Bitch Falls.”

The place was absolutely incredible- and worth the steep 20 minute hike to get to. The views were amazing, the water was super cold and clear, and it was the perfect way to spend a sunny Sunday afternoon in August. I was on cloud nine.

Of course, I snapped some photos. You can click on them to enlarge them.

On the way back to Northampton and Greenfield- we stopped at the SoCo Creamery in Great Barrington for some ice cream (banana brownie 4eva) and to take in some more views of the town’s most famous street/shopping area. It’s a super cute town with a lot of bouji boutiques and restaurants- but I enjoyed my time there and wouldn’t mind visiting again.

Overall, I had a really perfect weekend and I wish it could have extended another few days- although I do have tomorrow off and a half day on Wednesday- so here’s hoping I can keep that late Summer magic and adventurous energy going strong.

I’ve got to get started on my work for the week, but I’ll be back on Wednesday morning with more updates from the road. Here’s wishing you all a peaceful and stress-free beginning of the work-week ahead!

xx

– Ashley –

“If you leave the light on- then I’ll leave the light on…”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone! We did it! The week is pretty much over!

Have you ever had a day/night that was so perfect- just a whirlwind of excitement, unexpected moments, picturesque scenery, incredible company and, if you’re lucky- a fantastic soundtrack to back all of it up- that when the night is over you can’t sleep because you just don’t want any of it to end?

I’ve had a few nights like that throughout my life- but this past Tuesday night was definitely one of them and a really wonderful way to wrap up July.

I’ve never been to MASS MoCA before- which is now a good 45 minutes away from me as opposed to the 2+ hours away it was before I moved. So, when Troy extended an invitation last week for me to come see Maggie Rogers perform there this past Tuesday night- I jumped at the chance. The weather was going to be beautiful (I’ll get to that momentarily) and there’s really nothing quite like spending a beautiful Summer night listening to good music in a new place and with someone you absolutely cherish who can make you laugh ’til it hurts. It’s magic.

The drive to MASS MoCA took us through a portion of the Mohawk Trail- which was absolutely incredible. I’m pretty sure I stayed glued to my window like someone who had never seen rocks and trees before but it was breathtaking and exploring more of it is definitely on my “Summer 2019 Bucket List” now.

The stage/show itself was set in an outdoor courtyard looking area of the museum- between a series of wings of contemporary art. It was a really unique setup that provided great surround sound as we settled in and watched the opening band. It *also* provided a pretty good few of a storm that was starting to roll in from the distance.

By the time Maggie took the stage, we had what looked like a heat lightning storm looming overhead. It didn’t look/feel dangerous- almost like fireworks- but we had been warned that if things started to take a turn for the worse, the show would be delayed until everyone got the okay to return to their designated seating/standing areas.

Sure enough- the storm got worse mid-set, and we were told we’d have to take refuge in the museum until it blew over. We were ushered into one of the wings just as the torrential downpour started- with way more severe lightning.

But, we’re not quitters- we never have been- and we used the time to walk around the wing of the museum we were being kept in (so I essentially got to see some art for free- always appreciated!) before the Powers That Be deemed it was safe enough to go back outside. Maggie, bless her heart- was a trooper and finished her set spectacularly even with some light drizzle and fog. It was incredible.

And even though I was feeling pretty tired while working from home on Wednesday morning- and certainly looked a little haggard pre-coffee- it was without question one of the best nights of 2019 thus far and I’m so, so thankful to Troy for bringing me along for the experience.

While I didn’t have my “professional” camera on me (it’s so heavy!) I did manage to snap some photos throughout the chaos with my phone. You know the drill- click on a photo to enlarge!

I’m thinking of heading to MASS MoCA on the next rainy day to see the rest of the museum since I was so captivated by the wing I had been hiding out during the storm. I’m itching to see what else there is to check out!

But for now- I’m off to get started on my work day. Tomorrow afternoon I’ll be hosting my usual 12-4 show on Indie617 before I head on over to Salem for a performance and prepare for a little post-show pampering Sunday morning!

See you all again on Monday. Have a great weekend!

xx

– Ashley –

July 2019: In a Nutshell

Good Afternoon and Happy Wednesday, everyone!

While posting this late in the day always makes me feel a bit unproductive- I’ve actually been anything but. I’ve been working from home since 7:30 this morning after a super fun (but super late) night out last night. I’ve been running on fumes but getting SO much done today!

Not bad for someone who hasn’t even had coffee or a shower yet, right? Gross, I know- but that’s next on my “To Do” list for today.

Speaking of “To Do” lists- my Summer 2019 Bucket List is still chock full of things I want to accomplish in these final hazy, humid August weeks ahead before September and Fall creep up on us as they always do. Autumn may be my favorite season, but that’s not to say I don’t love the Summertime, too!

With tomorrow marking the first day of a new month, it’s that time where I look back on the last few weeks and recap the highs and lows of the month that was- and July was full of them.

I started the month by meeting my neighbors and making new friends at a community potluck for the 4th of July– and cooling off at what has quickly become one of my favorite spots in the Valley after I was introduced to it by a friend last Summer while I was visiting the area. I’ve returned to Ashfield Lake multiple times this month- especially when New England was being gripped day after day by heatwaves and scorching temperatures.

I also began to further plant some roots in my community as I embraced and attended the Green River Festival– which takes place a short walking distance (and drive) away from my apartment. Although I had only gone for the day- I had a wonderful time in the sunshine listening to music, eating fun food and buying cute clothes.

Of course, July isn’t without sad memories and reflection. This past month marked seven long years since my father passed away, and I opened up to pen a tell-all about the aftermath, the trauma, and the recovery with losing someone you’re close with so abruptly.

Additionally, work was difficult this month- both at my full-time job where tensions are running higher than the temperatures outside between co-workers, supervisors and at times- myself- but also within the Pioneer Valley theater community where I am preparing to ride out the last few shows of my contracted season while simultaneously juggling a plethora of other responsibilities.

And to top it all off- I got an insane flu during what have been the hottest days of the year to date. I was miserable- but thankfully was able to bounce back without a trip to the ER.

All in all? July left me TIRED, y’all!

But August is just a few hours away, and I’ve edited/re-tweaked my Summer Bucket List to better balance with my still hectic schedule. There’s a lot of fun things I’m determined to do/see and I’m excited to finally get around to it- starting this coming weekend- and of course I’ll take plenty of pictures along the way!

So although July was an emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster at times- it wasn’t all bad. It had it’s wonderful moments between sticky days, sweaty nights, sunburns and sneezing fits. I’ll cheers to the good times, for sure!

But I’m also going to toast to August- a new month filled with new possibilities that I hope is good to us all and doesn’t require nearly as much air conditioning to feel comfortable as July did.

And If you’re in need of some late Summer assistance- don’t forget to:

GIVE MY SUMMER 2019 PLAYLIST A LISTEN!

TRY SOME OF MY RECENT SUMMER-INSPIRED RECIPES!

And also go see a movie because there’s so many good things playing right now. Popcorn AND A/C? Yes please!

I’ll be back on Friday with a look at last night’s shenanigans. Enjoy your “Hump Day”, everyone!

xx

– Ashley –