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.)

The rest of my family

I’ve always said that I’m lucky enough to have two homes and two families: my actual blood family and home here in Indiana and my camp family in North Carolina. Both have made me the girl I am today.

In the most recent issue of Outside magazine, Mondamin, Green Cove’s brother camp, is named one of five “Camps That Kick Ass” in the country. Hello, I knew this, but I’m so glad my favorite place is getting recognition besides the obviously-biased article I wrote in Jack and Jill. Blue Ridge Now did a write-up of the article in Outside magazine. Here’s a short quote from the write-up.

More than 60 percent of the camp’s counselors are former campers and many of Mondamin’s boys are second- or third-generation campers, [Robert] Danos [activity director] said.
“We can tell parents who are shopping for camps when they ask how do you know these kids so well, it’s because we’ve helped raise them,” Danos said.


That literally made me almost cry. (OK, I’m very camp-sick right now considering the time of year, let’s keep that in mind…) It’s just so true. Camp helped raise me, from the ages of 11 to 23. I cannot wait to send my kids to camp there. It’s this amazing tradition and this incredible amount of caring and sense of family. All of that is what makes camp the place it is. A home away from home and a second family.  

Please enjoy the music while your party is reached

Last night I called Bette via Skype for the first time since she’s been in Ireland. We’ve talked online but nothing is quite the same as a phone conversation with her. We talked about absolutely nothing for an hour and a half and the only reason we hung up was because I had to call Adam back. We spent a good half hour browsing pictures on Green Cove’s website from Early June camp. Some of the first year counselors there were campers when we were on staff. That, friends, is odd. The girls at that session are so little and adorable. They wear huge hiking boots and big tshirts and riding helmets to meals.

I think we then spent another half hour discussing how much it would cost me to drive down to camp. Between gas and wear and tear cost on the car, it’s quite a bit. Figuring out how much I would spend on gas took us a pathetic 15 minutes I’m sure. We basically had to set up a word problem. If gas costs $4 a gallon right now, my trip is 494 miles and my car gets 27 mpg, how much will gas cost for my whole trip? We are poor mathematicians. I like that I have a friend who I can call up for no reason other than just chatting and end up talking to for hours. Actually, most of my good friends are like that. I’ve had countless long and random conversations with Marnie and Sam too. That is true friendship.

I am having an inner conflict regarding my living situation. My apartment does not have air. My kitchen is tiny. I have no backyard for Mira to run around in. It takes me forever to get places because of downtown traffic and weirdo streets and stoplights. I live in a small pocket of decency in what might be described as a somewhat ghetto area of town. On the flip side, I do live very close to lots of downtown happenings and events. I can ride my bike to most said events. Walking on the canal is lovely. I do have a lot of the necessities (grocery, post office, cleaners, etc) within five minutes of my apartment.
Either way, I’ve started browsing apartment and house listings even though my lease doesn’t end until November. I have a little dream that involves a house with a big kitchen, a dishwasher and garbage disposal, air conditioning and a fenced in backyard. Bette claims that I’m nesting. I say it’s my goddamn biological clock trying to tell me it’s time to settle down, start a family, blah blah. My clear and rational mind knows how ridiculous that all sounds. As if I am anywhere close to being ready for anything that resembles a family beyond the dog and boyfriend “family” I have right now. I hate being a female.

a dream upon waking

First things first – it is insanely stuffy and hot in my apartment. not so hot outside at the moment but in here, yes. Possibly a result of the oven being on while I made peanut butter chocolate chip cookies. Regardless, I have my fan pointed directly at me and on high.

Second things second. Last weekend Adam, Mira and I went to Lake Monroe for a few days to hang out and fish a little on his parents boat. Being outside and away from the city (I know “city”, right? As if Indianapolis is a huge bustling metropolis) did wonders for me. That weekend everyone arrived at camp for orientation so the potential for me to sit and wallow in I-miss-camp-pity was very, very high. But the most amazing thing happened. I didn’t want to be at camp once, not for one minute. Even when Mary texted me that she was at the Black Rose, a bar we frequented in Hendersonville. As Adam and I sat on the boat and looked at the stars I realized that I’m incredibly happy right here. This, referring back to a previous post where I wondered if, even though I’m generally happy with my life now, I would always want to be somewhere else too. I don’t want to be anywhere else but here. I’m home and even though I miss everywhere I’ve been and called home in the past and all my friends in those places, here and now is so good. This might be the best feeling ever. Not to say that I don’t have shitty days where I want to crawl under the covers and never come out, but I do come out. A few quick pics from our lake trip.

Me and Mirabelle on the boat
sunset
Adam making our bbq chicken dinner

Third things third. Last night Sam and I attended the most bizarre party we’ve been to in awhile. It was something like a dream. My friend Elizabeth is an intern at the magazines and lives downstairs in my building. The party was a housewarming party she threw. The crowd was, generally speaking, all under 21, including a 15 year old. Now, I am not being condescending here. Oh my God I am so much older than these kids. They just seemed so young. In attendance was a girl who I’ll call MK. She was everything that, two years ago, I would have longed to be. She was effortlessly cool, wearing a black tshirt, a brown fringed jacket and tight dark jeans and discussing how she doesn’t pay for spices at the store, eats donuts and doesn’t pay for them, and carries her lighter between her breasts and down her shirt. I literally would have watched her all night and been intensely jealous and completely judgmental of her in my insecurity and lack of self confidence. Last night I watched her and smiled because her coolness is not effortless, but quite the opposite. Part of me wanted to judge her, just out of habit. At one point everyone gathered around a piece of meat, called star meat, and performed a ritual. Star meat seemed to be meatloaf in the somewhat shape of a star with sprinkles and candles stuck on it. They all stood around the lit up meat and chanted “star meat star meat!” until MK, who was in charge, shushed them all, at which point they blew out the candles and ate the meat. Weird. Like I said, a somewhat dreamlike night that reminded me of what I used to wish I had and was and of how happy I am that I somehow found my self confidence between then and now. Anyway I’m glad that Sam was there with me because the whole night was something of a flashback to Bloomington and our neighbors senior year.

End of story.