The Station. A Happy Day.

Welcome to my 200th post, completely unintentionally!

Sometimes I think I only post about anxious, stressful, crazy days. Just because I think it’s nice to know you’re not alone in those days, in those feelings. But then I find myself not wanting to share the good days, the ones that are good for no reason other than just … waking up on the right side of the bed. Those days when no one can really get under your skin, where everything that could be annoying is just funny. Zen days when you find perfect peace in shavasana, in relaxation, at the end of yoga.

This evening I’m remembering to relish the happy day, the good run, the expansive quietness, the soft, lyrical music.

There’s this poem, long quote, short essay that I’ve been meaning to share really for a long time. It’s called The Station. One of my fellow lineheads, counselor, that summer gave this to me and a few other women she had worked with. That summer I was at a station—a really good, full, happy moment in my life. Sometimes I think about this piece, during good moments, on good days, during good months, and I am sure that there are lots of stations that we hit as we travel through life, where everything feels … right.

I try to remind myself to not rush through each station, because who knows how long I’ll be stopped there before I start up moving through life again.

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Song of the Week

This has been a very long, brain-mushing week for me. Has it been for you? Here’s something that may make you laugh.

My mom just got an iPhone. This is her first fancy phone, so it’s a big deal. She’s getting the hang of it slowly. Yesterday I told her she should download Words With Friends. She successfully did that, but then got thrown off when the phone asked if it could send her push notifications for Words With Friends. She im’d me this:

Mom: it asks if i want it to send me push notifications
wtf is that
that sounds like a woman in labor
me: oh my god mom! that is all hilarious what you just said 🙂
Mom: yeah i’m funny

I am not sure where she learned the term “wtf.” And I think she’s absolutely correct—push notifications sound like what the doctor tells a lady in labor when it’s time to push.

Part of the longness of this week I contribute to the fact that Michael is in Sweden. He left last Saturday and will be back next Sunday. Turns out when you live with someone, he becomes a big part of your daily routines without you even realizing it. Just in little ways. So this past week my every day things have been just slightly off-balance without Michael just…here. The getting up, the making dinner, the walking the dog, the going to bed, you know. The things you take for granted until they’re just slightly different, and suddenly you’re searching for familiarity to knock things back into place.

So I’ve turned to music. One night I listened to three Beatles albums. And one morning on my way into work I put on the Indigo Girls. We sing “Closer to Fine” at camp and there’s nothing more familiar and comforting to me than a camp song. They take me to my happy place. Sitting in my car with this song blaring, I was in Middler Lodge at camp, a group of counselors standing in front of us campers during assembly leading us in song, doing all these hand movements with certain lyrics.

One summer I came home from camp and found the Indigo Girls album they had. It happened to have “Closer to Fine” on it. I sat in my room listening to that song over and over and over again on my little boom box.

So here’s my familiar song. What’s yours?

Jars, Jars, Jars

Last week we sat on the couch watching T.V. together. I very softly began singing a Green Cove Tajar Day chant, “Thunder, thunderation, we’re the witches, and we create a sensation…” Michael looked at me and said, “Are you singing an0ther camp song?”

So when I suddenly ended up at camp last Thursday evening for a week to help out, I don’t think anyone in my real-world life was too surprised. Things haven’t changed much here, and yet the differences are noticeable. First year counselors were my campers. Stalker Carol, she’s a counselor. What? I’ve taught riding lessons, rode a horse, checked heads for lice, almost cried at campfire, and gone to a co-ed. This place, God what is it about this place that gets in your blood? I love it.

So, I haven’t been cooking or baking. I’ve been eating camp food, which really isn’t that bad. But, no recipes for you. Instead, I’m going to give you a kitchen tip. A life organizing tip, if you will. Jars. The uses are endless really. And not only that, but they are so pretty all lined up on your counter top, filled with iced coffee or a smoothie, or soup for lunch. Mason jars are classic, and you can buy them for fairly cheap at most grocery stores. However, I just reuse food jars from things like spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, and lemon curd. Wash the jar and remove the label and sticky gunk with a hard-bristled brush or a scouring pad. Then start filling!

Make raspberry infused vodka (via Shutterbean)

Mix the vodka with lemonade. Enjoy on hot summer days. Store extra vodka (what extra?!) in a jar.


Mobile breakfast in a jar: smoothies!

Delicious cold-brewed iced coffee that you should drink every morning (via Smitten Kitchen).

Store dried goods like rice, beans, lentils, and quinoa in jars. Be sure to label them! (Chalkboard paint on the lids would be cute.)

Cranberry Orange Cornmeal Bread/IheartNC

Oh my goodness. I always forget how entirely exhausting the holidays are. I get excited every year for baking, presents, family, and friends being home. And then I get caught up in this whirlwind of…baking, presents, family, and friends being home. It’s not a bad whirlwind at all. I mean, who am I to complain when I get to host a sleepover for eight lovely ladies at my house and paint our nails and make friendship bracelets?

I’m awfully lucky to be friends with these beautiful girls.

And why would I complain when I got to spend Christmas with my little family? Especially when they threw down in a huge way to put this under the tree for me!

Hello lover, we will be very good friends, I just know it.

Right before the holiday rush began, I up and went to North Carolina to visit one of my best friends in the world Bette. But I may have screeched about that on here earlier…

I don’t know if you have a place like North Carolina is for me, so maybe you won’t quite get what I’m about to say. But when I go down there, it feels just like I’m home, not like I’m on vacation. It’s like I’m just picking right back up in my other life, right where I left off last time I was there. It just…fits. So it’s no wonder that’s where I ran the second I needed to clear my head. And let me tell you, North Carolina never fails. Head? Cleared.

We spent most of our time in Charlotte, and one of our good friends from Raleigh even drove down to hang out! But, we also went up to camp. Talk about places where you just fit. We had lunch with old friends who are practically family in my mind. They care so much it blew my mind. Then of course the fact that people can care so little also blows my mind.

Anyway, Bette and I met at camp in the summer of 1995.

Some of the horses that we rode that summer we met are still there. We snapped some pictures with them.

Did you survive Christmas? Are you looking forward to New Year’s Eve? Is your belly so full of holiday food you may pop? Mine is!

Meanwhile, back at the Indianapolis ranch, a good month ago, I made some kickass quick bread. Cranberry orange cornmeal bread. I am BEGGING you to run to the grocery store right now and snatch up the last bags of cranberries you can find before the disappear. Please. I’ve become obsessed with cranberries this winter. They’re so deliciously tart and brightly, festively red. And they work so well with oranges, which are also in season during the winter.

So this bread is studded with cranberries, laced with orange flavor, and sweetened with cornmeal and honey. It’s just completely amazing. All day, every day, any time of day. Sadly, I took no pictures, but if you pop over to Joy the Baker’s site (link to her recipe to follow after the jump) you’ll see her photos, and I only made a few small changes.

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North Carolina feasting

Last weekend I went to North Carolina. Oh yeah, I already told you that. I’m obsessed with North Carolina, particularly the mountains. Hm, told you that already too. Oh well, it’s good to reiterate the important things. I drove down to Tryon, NC, this magical little horsey community just almost tipping into South Carolina. Ivey, one of my best friends Bette’s mom, has a house there. The front porch looks west towards the mountains and sunsets. There’s a three stall barn next to the house where Bette’s retired horse Johnny, Ivey’s superstar Joseph, and her newest addition Gus, live.

Renée picks tomatoes for gazpacho

And this summer, Ivey’s planted a little garden filled with okra, tomatoes, basil, and marigolds, too.We spent many of our days off from camp at this house. It’s like my summer retreat. I love it. So I could hardly wait to spend four days there with Bette and RenĂ©e, a fellow Green Cove counselor, and Bette’s friend Jennifer. (There was a fifth girl, but I’d prefer not to mention her as she put a big fat blotch on the weekend.)

We rode ponies, went to Bele Chere, visited camp (where I got to hug Lee, the riding head, and my summer momma), and cooked so much good food.

I’ll go in the order we cooked these items.

blackberry peach pie

1. Porch Swings, our beverage of choice. Pimms (a tradition for us in Tryon), gin, cucumbers, 7Up, and lemons.

2. Gazpacho. Tomatoes from the garden, cucumbers, avocado, spices, jalapeños, green peppers.

3. Blackberry-Peach pie. Peaches and blackberries in a buttery crust. Oh and a little vodka.

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Song of the Week

Well, I hope you all had a great fourth of July weekend. Mine involved cooking out and fireworks. How all-American!

I’ve picked Jesus, Etc. by Wilco from their album Yankee Foxtrot Hotel for this week’s song.

I was introduced to it maybe four or five years ago by one of my dear camp friends Mary. This song made her cry on cue, for no apparent reason, and that’s why I originally loved it. Any song that can rouse such emotion out of someone has to be great. Especially because Mary is one of the most sunshiney and smiley people I know.

For some reason I think of this as a love song. Really the lyrics are kind of depressing. The world’s kind of ending, the girl has tears streaming down her cheeks. But then he’s telling her, despite all of this ickiness around us, it’s all ok, don’t cry, because I love you and we have our love. To me, that’s incredibly sweet.

So here it is on YouTube. Hope you like it as much as I do.

Perfection

photo by Angie Moorin, Green Cove’s Main camp photographer

This is perfection. This is camp. Those little girls, they are so lucky.

I still walk that way with my best camp friends sometimes.

Soon I’ll get to throw my arms around them, hug them til we all pop. I can’t wait to go home.

(I might be entirely choked up right now.)