Retreat 2016

I just got back from a wonderful long and refreshing weekend with my writing buddy!

Our journey began when I picked her up at the airport and we headed off to Amish country, stopping to see three giant baskets along the way. The first was not actually a basket, but the Longaberger Corporate Offices, built in the shape of one of their classic baskets. Next, we stopped and saw a large apple basket at their homestead. Lights were on and a man was standing in the windows of one building so my friend ran and dipped through the bushes to capture a photo while I kept the car running. Finally, in Dresden, Ohio, stands the World’s Largest Basket. The pictures show the light fading, so I moved the car into various positions to try to get the best light, but it was difficult.

Giant Baskets

We stopped for dinner and finally made it to the hotel at about 8 pm. She brought a “Writer’s Toolbox” game/set and I brought wine and snacks, so we got busy working on timed prompts. We wrote, talked and laughed until past 1 am. I have now decided that writing games are the best games, and nobody loses.

The next morning we slept in a bit (only til 8ish) and then headed out to the Warther’s Museum where we saw amazing carvings. Mooney Warther carved only for hobby, but worked his way up from throw-away wood and beef bones to creating with ebony and ivory. He even used a bit of gold for a train spike! He discovered a way to make 32 cuts iinto a piece of wood to create a wooden pliers – no pins or screws or anything! The giant W made from three pliers connected was made by his son David, but Mooney made a sculpture of 511 pliers all together, creating a tree that folds up into what appears to be a church steeple. The guide advised us that the math and image just came to him one day in a vision. He went on to make knives as a business to support his family and they have an excellent reputation.


Though it was terribly cold outside, we also visited “The Button House” and the Warthers’ home. Mooney’s wife made mosaic pictures from buttons and as a creative person, I hold much respect. It was indeed interesting to see her work space. After our tours, we went back to the hotel for more writing exercises, this time taking our laptops downstairs to sit in front of the fireplace.

The next morning we woke up earlier and though the temperature said 5 degrees with a -1 windchill, we were off to investigate Amish country. Both of us were surprised at the commercialism of the area, but enjoyed the journey anyway. Besides the World’s Largest Basket, we also saw the World’s Largest Cuckoo Clock. We shopped and toured an Amish quilt shop, a Christmas shop, an Amish grocer and a giant craft mall.

Amish Country

With so much to see, we kept busy until late afternoon when on our way back to the hotel, we veered off course to investigate a pretty multicolored building. It turned out to be a winery where we tested  local wines and bought some to share and some to bring home before we went back to the hotel to rest and write.


On our last morning, we again awoke early and headed out for the three hour drive back to my house. On the way we stopped at Cottrill’s Sidewalk of Sculptures. Even though we were fogging up the windows in the car because the temps were so low, the art drew us from the car for an episode of photo-taking.


Our last evening together, we spent chatting and planning a collaborative project. It was so sweet to see my good friend and writing buddy as it brought back memories of slumber parties, cozy nights by a fire, childhood reading, a crafting convention we attended together, good food and fun while also drawing out poetry and ideas for future stories.

Next up for me will be the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop this spring. Many good things are happening as I continue this crazy journey. I can hardly believe it’s already January of 2016!

I wish you the ability to keep warm, to cozy up with a good book and to have a peaceful winter…




Published by Dawn M. Paul

I am an artist and writer at Come take a mental rest with me.

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