Carter and I had to rush home from Maine because today was the big day she was waiting for – The Jonas Brother’s concert! In April I jumped off the high diving board and bought Carter and her friend Ellis meet and greet tickets for their first boy band love. I did not tell Carter right away, but surprised her and told her via Skype while I was in Mexico. I knew she would be happy so I photographed her reaction. I had no idea she would break down and sob uncontrollably.
This year has been boy band hell for me. First Carter and I went to Justin Beiber with her friend Ashley and her mom Ellie, and then we had the One Direction concert with twelve other girls and two other moms. At each concert I learned more and more tricks about how I could get out of going to these shows.
First, at Justin Beiber I learned there were parent waiting rooms. I wish I had known this before I bought myself expensive tickets. I would have paid to not sit in that stadium of screaming girls. By One Direction I learned about box seats so I could needlepoint at the concert. I was more or less just the transportation provider for that show.
By the time Jonas came around I had learned that some lucky people get to go to the sound check and a meet and greet with the band. Well, not just lucky, but people who are willing to pay for this. I was willing to pay for this as long as I did not have to go, just be the transportation. Thank goodness these events attract nothing but a lot of screaming girls so I felt safe letting Carter and Ellis go without me.
Without me is not exactly the case. At noon I picked the girls up and drove them to Raleigh where I had to show a ridiculous amount of identification proving I was the person who bought the tickets. Then the three of us and Shay Shay in her Jonas Bros. bandana (Yes, I brought the dog) waited in line to get their VIP credentials where I again had to show my ID. At that point I left the girls, 2:00 PM for a 7:00 PM show. I think they are going to be exhausted by the time the Brother’s three actually get on stage.
The deal I had with Carter and Ellis is that they needed to text me every hour to keep me posted on what is happening. So far Carter has texted that she talked with them at sound check and asked them if they had girl friends. Nick Jonas does not, information for all you girls who have our eye on him. Carter said it was already the best day of her life and they still had the meet and greet and concert to go.
For me it is a long day too since I am going to have to go back to Raleigh around 10:30 to retrieve the girls after the concert. I know they are going to be pooped. Ellis started her day early helping at tennis camp. When she told her four-year-old students she was going to the Jonas Brothers’ concert she was met with blank stares, no four year olds knew who they were. Ellis recounted her first memory of seeing them on Disney channel singing the song “the Year 3000” while she was eating her apple jacks out of a plastic baby bowl when she was about four. The love of boy bands starts young and stays strong. The concert is outside rain or shine and I hope that the rain holds off. I’m not sure it even if it does rain that it will ruin the day for these two happy girls.
One of the best things about Camp Medomak is one of the worst things for me personally, that being their cook Andrew. See Andrew is a very shy guy who is in charge of cooking three meals a day for about seventy people. Just thinking about all that cooking causes Andrew a lot of stress, that and also having to possibly receive many compliments from campers in person. To help balance things out Andrew bakes. And he is quite a world-class baker.
I know all this because Russ would get up very early everyday at camp and go up to the farmhouse where the kitchen and dining room are as well as the wifi porch that became Russ’ office. Even at six in the morning Andrew would beat Russ to the farmhouse and begin his day, silently baking.
Food at camp was no pre-made, food service heat and serve stuff. They have a big garden and a cow for milk and get as much sourced locally as possible. Being just twenty minutes from the ocean also gives Andrew a chance to get a lot of good seafood, but the baking, that is obviously his real passion.
Vacation started at our friend Warren’s house where he was generously mindful of my diet. I stayed away from the walnut bread and my own ice cream cone when I was there, then we went to camp. At camp you eat what you are given and if you don’t like it there is always peanut butter and jelly. You can be assured I always liked what was served and also did my best to stay away from peanut butter and jelly.
I would arrive at meals famished from running, well, maybe walking fast, kicking balls, shuffling tiles, throwing balls, paddling boards, making art and playing games. At first I did my best to stay away from Andrew’s baked goods. Although lunch the first day was impossible since he had made up this tuna melt bread where the tuna and cheese were rolled into the center of a homemade wheat bread kind of like a tuna melt Stromboli. One bite and carb heaven came back to me. That night I skipped the cranberry wheat rolls because the roast turkey was so good I was able to withhold, but then came the banana cake. Enter the flour and sugar nirvana I had avoided for all these months.
The next day the leftover turkey on warm fresh focaccia and I was full blown back to eating carbs. Yeah, I ate salads and the many fresh vegetables, but the zucchini and goat cheese flat bread with the hint of corn meal it was worth every calorie. I ended the week at camp with apricot and ginger scones for breakfast.
Three days of post camp vacation in Maine had me still loving carbs. What the hell, I was not about to try and detox while I was sharing one hotel room with a fourteen-year-old girl and did not have access to enough iced tea. At last we are home. I have gone to the Harris Teeter to stock up on all my standard foods and I am about to begin the three days of hell to get off carbs again. At least the ones I did eat at camp were worth every bite since they were loving made by Andrew and did not have any preservatives or crap in them. I pray now that I will not dream about the challah or the whoppie pies he made. Tomorrow the scales will give me the honest truth of the damage. One week a year of that is about all I can take.
Everything in Maine is for sale. Even if it does not have a sign if you see something you like make the owner an offer, they may go on and sell it to you. Carter and I ventured over to Harpswell and Orr’s island this morning. Carter was a good egg about driving around exploring with me even though it was not as exciting as either of us wanted it to be.
We went through Brunswick and I drove her through Bowdoin’s campus. Carter felt like she was not cut out for going to school in such a cold place. Good thing for me because this is really far from home.
As we went further down the peninsula to the waters edge we counted more houses for sale than not. Boats were the next big ticket item that everyone seemed to be selling in their front yards. In the stretch of three miles I saw three what I would call water ski boats in various states of distress, a big ‘ole lobster boat, six different sail boats, half wooden the others fiberglass and a giant cabin cruiser with two hulking’ ass engines all for sale. Not one of these boats were in the water, nor were they at a marina. It was Iike a big progressive boat yard sale.
Art or what some consider art was the third most prolific thing for sale. With so many people cooped up during the long cold winter I’m sure that creating art is a popular pastime. Summer seems like the only time these artists can get rid of some of their works, what with all the tourists here. At our hotel I have met people from Texas, Illinois, Arizona, California, Florida and every eastern seaboard state. The only problem is they are all old and not in the collecting time of life.
After our Harpswell jaunt Carter and I stopped for lunch in Brunswick and ventured into a giant antiques store after our Thai food. Antiques rival art as the next big category of things for sale in Maine. With so many old people dying off up here there are a lot of people trying to get rid of what their relatives thought was collectible. Lucky for us this was an actual antique store and not a flea market full of Hummels and Yadro.
I did find a beautiful Majolica platter for a greatly reduced price. Carter, after studying all about wars in history class took a particular interest in the war pieces. I was happy she was not interested in the Nazi memorabilia, but I had to tell her no to a revolutionary war spear head for a riffle. I was sure it would not make it through security at the airport and I did not want to check something that valuable. I’m sure the luggage thieves who riffle through suitcases were all looking for revolutionary war memorabilia. I was just happy that Carter took an interest in something old.
After tea we are off to L.L. Bean to buy that suitcase we need to get all our other Maine purchases home. I and my American Express card need to get home quickly and take a rest. Shopping and eating out are things I don’t need to do anymore.
For our last few days in Maine we decided to come further south and stay in Freeport since we are flying out of Portland. Last night Russ, Carter and I ventured into Portland since we had read it was so cool. It was. Portland Maine reminds me somewhat of Portland Oregon mixed with Durham,NC. There were many cool stores selling unusual stuff. Stores that are owner operated selling things made locally or in small batches are just hard to find now a days.
Before dinner I went into one called Motifs on Commercial Street that sold clothes, housewares, books and other stuff. I had never seen one of the things they sold anywhere, not even the books. I can’t imagine how they did that in the world of mass production, sold on the Internet, same thing in Paris, France as Paris, Texas. I did pick up a few Christmas gifts. One thing about Portland that really stood out was the number of pet supply stores, not like Petsmart, but more like pet boutiques. Dogs obviously rule here. Carter was even able to find a labradoodle sticker, the first we have ever seen.
We went to dinner at a place called the Salt Exchange because the idea of a big pile of salt calls Russ and Carter to it like pilgrims to Mecca. It was a small owner run operation that did not disappoint. As a member of a group who promotes unusual fish, they had Dog fish on the menu. Dog fish is a type of shark that has no natural predator and has invaded the waters up here. Fishermen are trying to make man it’s predator because the dog fish eats a lot of smaller fish and is decreasing their populations. I ordered it and am now an official Dog Fish Predator. If I find it again I will eat it. It is fairly mild, but sweet and not like any other fish I can think of. I think that the name is not helping it be a big seller because no one wants to eat their dog.
Russ flew home this morning to get to be with our sweet dog. Shay and Russ just face timed us which was very confusing for Shay. She knew that Carter and I were in that screen and could here us but thought we had gotten much smaller and flatter.
With Russ gone Carter and I did some serious shopping. Time at the Freeport outlets is the opposite of being at camp. I am happy to get Carter’s school clothes in Maine at the end of their summer season because shorts are on deep discount and she can wear them in North Carolina more than half the school year. After dinner we area going to walk down to L.L. Bean since they are open 24 hours a day and buy another suit case to get our haul home.
We have left camp with hugs and kisses and sad goodbyes. It is the counselor’s day off so most of them slept in and we did not get a last chance to say goodbye.
The talent show was a hoot. Carter honked her seal like sound through the whole alphabet. My story of losing my luggage on the way to Saskatoon, was followed by Corey’s story of putting his poopy underpants in his carry-on backpack when he was ten and having security take them out at screening.
After the four grown Stone children and their parents did a rendition of peel orange, banana and potato Carter screams back to me we need three more kids in our family. The camaraderie of family is why we go to camp.
Half way through the talent show we had the Haiku off. About seven us had written poems. We stood in a line and each read one and then started over again. When you had finished reading all of yours you sat down. I was the last one standing, although Peter who was up there last with me had some great ones. Here are all my haiku’s about Camp Medomakcamp medomak.
Medomak best camp
For family reunions
And strangers alike
Yoga campfires games
Playing winning laughing fun
Why I love this camp
Holly and George Stone
Make memories for us all
Thank you for this camp
Camp food yumminess
Two desserts a day oh my
Diet starts at home
Jen wakes early to
Milk the cow. Making yogurt
We need Jen at home
Paddle board virgin
Now I can walk on water
I’m no Jesus
Lobster Mac and cheese
Muscles whoopie pies and slaw
one meal Too much good
Learning how to milk
Perry the docile sweet cow
Five gallons of good
The staff is the bomb
They work hard for us to play
Does not seem like work
The sun moon and stars
Closer brighter nearer too
God must exist here
Thank you mother earth
For giving us this blue lake
Fish say thank you too
Rain coats hang dripping
After morning of rain scag
No holes in one here
Week of Friendships form
Just beginning to know you
Sad time for goodbyes
Liz lends Carter sweats
For the night at north star lodge
Thanks for warming legs
Jackie rings the bell
Gives us all the news today
Too many fun choices
Norwegians cut wood
Elizabeth and Purnell teach
New benches exist
Noah and Rick sing
Strum sweetly on their guitars
I wish I could sing
Gosha arts and crafts
Lindsey learns about our games
Fun new counselors
Peters back at camp
Maintenance is his new thing
Being Sean’s bitch
Alexa in back
Of the candy store counter
Doling out goodies
Corey kicks the ball
Straighter farther than the rest
No wonder he wins
Andrew Perry who?
Oh you mean that guy Pierre
Which name should we use
All the stone kids
Here at camp for the whole week
What good parents make
Nature or land sports
Yoga or arts and crafts, ooh
Too many good choices
Russ sits on the porch
Sucking down the wifi line
At least he’s at camp
Carter learns to row
Gliding across the water
Thanks to George and Liz
Andrew’s kitchen hums
Making all our yummy meal
Quietly he nods
It’s cold in my bed
I forgot to get blankets
It’s 100 at home
Fourth cabin on right
Home at camp for a week
Nice neighborhood eh?
A rainy camp day
No swimming or no sailing
Still better than work
Jackie gives coffee
handle of the mug sticky
Thanks to marshmallow
Hey Dave can we come
To camp during reunion
Yes. You family.
Barn roof is shinny
Gathering the rays of sun
George makes energy
Sad, sad, sad. I don’t even like to think about the last day of camp. It has rained all day and a rainy day at camp Medomak is better than a sunny day anywhere else. I played scag (soccer croquet and golf) in the rain first thing this morning. I can’t remember the last time I played in the rain but I know that I want to do it again soon. There is something freeing about not worrying about getting wet and just letting the water wash over you. My scag score was not as good as dry scag but my fun level was probably higher. I was just thankful that I did not fall down as I approached the ball to kick.
After land sports I went to games in the barn. The bananagram devotees were all there and many different people won so I was not runout of the barn on a rail. Then a big round of Scategories. I got an extra point for Tart Tangerine Jam in the food that begins with T round since it used two T’s. I need to make more time for scategories in my life.
Peter taught me how to fly fish today. Well, we did not actually fish, just cast. After a while I got the hang of keeping the fly horizontal and in the air as I let the line further and further out. Next time I need to try it where fish actually live. I think it was a lot safer for Peter for me not to have a hook, especially since I caught him in the ear with the line.
Tonight is the talent show and haiku off. The haiku’s all have to be about camp and it is purely a numbers game of who can write the most haiku’s. I can’t say here how many I have because I don’t want to tip off my competition, but I will say I’ve got more than a few. The last time I was here I won with 31 and my closet competitor had 13.
As for the talent show I don’t have any of the normal talent show abilities. I’m the most unmusical person, I can’t do any gymnastics, no one consider’s needlepoint a performance art so I am left with my only possible ability of story telling. I probably will tell the crowd favorite Saskatoon story, but you never know what will come to mind when I get up there. I just have to tell a fairly clean story since there are children here and I don’t want to become the subject of a story of their own about the time they learned what #%^£ means.
As I lie on my bed writing this with Carter across the cabin on her bed reading her book with all her clothes in a huge mound on the floor I realize I don’t even care, it’s camp. It’s all about fun, trying new things, making new friends, no work except clearing your plates at meals, no worries, even about eating dessert. I’m soaking in the last of the carefree world of camp.
Games hold a dear place in my heart. Some people would call it an obsession. I would rather play a game than do almost anything else, even eat. Of course you would not like to be playing against me long if I have not eaten. My favorite game is Mah Jongg. At camp we do not have any Mah Jongg so I am playing a camp favorite, Bananagrams.
For those who have never played, it is a scramble-like game without a board and everyone is making their own words that attach together. It is a speed game and you want to use up all your letters first then you yell “peel” and everyone is forced to pick another tile which you have to add to your board. The first person to use all their letters when there are none left on the board wins.
There are a few tricks that really help you win. First is knowing all the two letter words. If you play with someone who has never heard of the words that are the spelling of the letters of the alphabet, like “em” for “m” or “en” for “n” they get very upset with you so having a dictionary or dictionary app is very helpful. Second trick — always use your worst letters like Z, V and Q in the first words you try and make. You can always find a place for an A or S, but when you pull K good luck. The most important strategy is not to be wed to the words you have already made. This is not scrabble, you are allowed to change things around.
At camp this week we have a lot of brilliant scientists so I am having fun teaching them this great game. I am not very popular because I am winning, but I am also creating a big challenge for them to try and beat me. I’m not sure how long it will take them to overthrow me, but I am enjoying these virgins while they are still learning. Sometimes not being a scientist is helpful because long words are not always useful in this game. It is not about making the longest words, just the fastest. There are no extra points for smart words, just some oohs and aahs.
The only unfortunate thing is that we are not playing for money. I would hate to take money from poor college students trying to earn money to go to school, which is the case for most of the counselors working here, but those scientist’s dough, that would be ok. Maybe it’s not that bad we are just playing for bragging rights because I might have been run out of camp by now and I still love being at camp, even more than winning at games.
The thinnest thing about me is my hair. Of all the GD things to be thin hair is the one thing I would like to be fat, or at least thick, full, or big. But no, I have thin lifeless wispy and all things pitiful when it comes to hair. Now top that all off with my poor natural hairstyling abilities and basically I am a hair moron.
I have done my best to get a great hair dresser who can skillfully cut each and everyone of my two hundred and twelve hairs to make them seem like triple their ranks. I have finally after half a century of trying learned to hold a round brush in one hand and a hair dryer in the other to style said few hairs to make them look presentable.
All well and good in a land of unlimited power supply and the best hair dryer known to man, but I am at camp in Maine. No hair dryers allowed. Not because they want everyone to look like a refugees from 1967, just because the grid can’t accommodate 1200 watts. So I am left with flat, and lifeless hair.
Tonight is the big anniversary party for camp owners George and Holly. Normally at camp a baseball cap will hide the worst of my hair, but tonight is a beautiful barn dinner and dance followed by the surprise fireworks show. Well surprise, my thin hair looks like a firework already. In my next life it is only fair that I comeback as a tall thin blond with thick flowing hair, I know I will have to give up some comedy genes to get that, but I’m will to sacrifice.
I awoke this morning at camp in Maine to the sound of rain on our cabin roof. I snuggled down under my wool blankets and went back to sleep, feeling no guilt about missing morning walk. After breakfast, yoga and a marathon bananagram tournament It was still raining so Russ convinced me that we should go visit a local distillery, Sweetgrass, where they make not only award winning gin, but wine and other libations.
Why not, I thought and off we went while Carter stayed back at camp. Most business in Maine are small operations so every visitor helps. Sweetwater was only three miles from camp in the hamlet of Union, Maine. We pulled into a very idyllic farm like building and were surprised at how beautiful the tasting room was.
I myself have given up drinking alcohol thirty years ago. After a particularly long night of great consumption in Miami, where I was not even supposed to be. I passed out in the hallway of the 24th floor of the Hyatt with my dress over my head and my underpants missing. I only know this because my friend Suzanne took a picture which she has thankfully never published. When I woke up the next day with the worst hangover of my life I swore I would never drink again, at least not until I found those missing underpants.
Despite much underpant searching I still don’t drink, but every once in a while I taste. I figure that I owe it to the guests I serve that I keep up with the best wines and beers to serve and I have been known to create some yummy cocktails. So today’s field trip to the distillery was one of those tasting opportunities. After some very clean gin, a delicious vermouth, some peach wine and something called a cranberry smash I began to remember why I don’t drink anymore. I barley had a sip of each, but I could feel my current underpants sliding off. Russ made a purchase and I said I needed to get back to camp. I’m learning how to milk a cow this afternoon and I don’t want to be late. Milk is much more my speed these days.
One of the joys of camp is that I have very little control, actually no control over what I get to eat for meals. I take that back, some control. But for the most part I eat what they are serving. I also don’t have a scale so I just can’t tell or worry what camp food is doing to me. Now Medomak food is not like regular camp food, They have a very creative chef and lots of home grown vegetables and milk from their own cow. (more on that later in the week after I learn to milk the cow.) Unfortunately their great chef is also a great baker so I have to do everything possible to be judicious.
This morning I started the day right by by passing both the pancakes and bacon and having camp made yoghurt from their own cows milk. Not really any sacrifice on my part. After breakfast I choose to go on the edible nature hike with Liz the nature counselor. I tasted spearmint, wintergreen, clover, raspberries, and a bunch of other medicinal herbs, none physcotropic enough to make me forget what they were, but I’m in camp mode so I can’t remember. I did not have more than a couple leaves and three berries so absolutely no calories counted, especially when you factor in the exercise calorie burning.
After nature I went to Land sports where we played my all-time favorite Medomak pastime, SCAG. SCAG stands for soccer croquet and golf. You have a course with swimming noodles made into croquet wickets and you kick soccer balls through them. the holes are about 200 yards each and the game is scored like golf. I’m worried I peaked the first day coming in second with a score of 31 to the winners 30. My most amazing shot was a bank shot for a two, up a hill, past a group of Adirondack chairs off the side of a barn and banked 45 degrees to roll down a hill and through the wicket. If I had filmed it I would get a million hits on You Tube.
I skipped nail art at Arts and Crafts in favor of my own needlepoint arts and crafts session. By lunch I was hungry and to my delight we were eating outside. See calories consumed outside just don’t count. A cold curried pea soup, salad from the garden and roast turkey leftover from last night’s dinner with ripe tomatoes on fresh home made focaccia, all yummy and not too bad for you. If I had walked away right then I would be very smug, but no, dessert of small chocolate cake, more like Texas sheet cake than brownie with just a dusting of powdered sugar, no frosting came to the table. Wait we were still sitting on the picnic benches outside. No calories counted under the trees. I took a bite of that tasty treat. I forgot how good chocolate is.
I’m on my way to the waterfront now, a good walk for exercise, then sailing and swimming. Certain to help counteract any damage done. I’m all outside its got to be good for me. Now I just have to hold back during the lakeside cheese tasting this afternoon. Oh yeah, that’s outside too, no calories will be counting.
There is no happier place on earth than camp. As a kid I loved going to camp at Idlepines in Bow Lake New Hampshire. The great friends, activities that kept you playing outside all day, the singing and skits, the campfire, the food. When I was in college contemplating a real world job my father asked me what my favorite job might be and I said camp counselor. That was not met with much approval. Teaching kids how to canoe or do improv was frowned upon as a life-long pursuit. So my time as a camper ended and sadly I entered the life of adulthood and mortgages and cleaning out the dishwasher.
Fast forward a few decades to being an old mother… Carter was in lower school she did not like to sleep away from home. I understood that being in her own room in her own house was better than anyplace else, but I prayed that she would get over this so she could go to sleep away camp someday. Thank goodness my friend Hannah, mother of Carter’s great friend Campbell, who took it upon herself to get Carter to feel comfortable sleeping at their house. It was a huge gift to us all that Hannah slept on the floor, next to Carter’s bed that first night she spent the night at their house.
Following in her mother’s footsteps Carter went off to sleep away at Camp Cheerio and fell in love with it too. The first year Russ and I drove her up the mountain at Roaring Gap and got a glimpse of the cabins all those feeling of loving camp came rushing back. I remember saying to Russ I wish I could go to camp too.
Secretly Russ began to research how to make my camp dream come true. He searched the net and read many descriptions of camp like places. Lots of things sounded like camp, but they were really camp grounds, no, not for us. After weeks of stealth research he brought me into his investigation to weigh-in on his findings. Camp Medomak, a family camp in Washington Maine seemed like the place for us. Could it possibly be as idyllic as my childhood memories of camp? Could my introverted husband stand to spend what little free time he has at camp with, heaven think, strangers? Could our teenage daughter think being at camp with her parents in anyway favorably compares to her camp? Could of family of sophisticated food choosers now like camp food?
That was five years ago. The economy was not so great. What better time to try a low key vacation, go visit friends in Maine and try Medomak and family camp. We fell for it. We came back again and again. We love the owners, the people who work here and the people who come as campers, the cabins are better than sleep away camp, but the life is just as carefree.
Last year Carter went to Taiwan to live and go to school so we did not come back to camp. I missed it. This summer we only had one week when we all were free to come to camp, but it turned out that week was sold out. I called Dave, the camp director, to tell him if they had a cancelation we desperately wanted to come to camp. Dave said that would not happen because it was the owner’s Holly and George’s big family reunion at camp. I said, “I wish we were in Holly and George’s family.” Dave came back with, maybe you can be. So here we are! Back at camp, in a new family who will be more shocked to meet us than we will be to meet them, with some of our favorite returning counselors and some fun new ones too. I’m off to the lake now to swim and kayak and thank my wonderful husband who makes all my crazy dreams come true again and again.
Lobsta’, lobsta, scallop, scallop, laugh, laugh, what a day. Somedays are perfect. Today was as close as it gets. Russ made it to Clam Cove at 2:30 in the morning so I finally could sleep soundly once I had him safe and sound with us in Maine. We awoke to a big breakfast Warren had made us which we enjoyed at the HoJo’s counter. I had to withhold from the sausage, and zucchini bread because I knew what the day ahead held.
Off to Camden we went to spend two hours sailing on the schooner Surprise. The heat wave did not exist on the water and we talked and laughed as we skimmed by the beautiful shoreline. Before we knew it we were back at the dock. We headed home to to have lunch but stopped at Renys, Maine’s Department Store to get some discount shampoo and lotion and cheep led head lamps for camp. I bought three of them and true to form only two work, exactly what I thought for a $2.99 flash light.
At home I made lobster salad from our leftover lobsters from last night, whoever heard of leftover lobster. Thank goodness Carter decided that eating something she met as alive fifteen minutes before dinner made her dislike eating lobster. Warren made Carter his world famous tuna melt and he had turkey so that left all the lobster salad for me and Russ. The day just kept getting better.
Nothing says vacation like a nap so both Carter and I retired to our rooms to sleep during the heat of the day. We awoke to take a ride in Warren’s model A. Jay, Warren’s son, drove us around while Carter and I sat in rumble seat. Watching me climb up the side of the car and try and wedge myself into the back was not a pretty picture, but the ride was fun.
The big treat of an already wonderful day was a dinner out at Primo, Maine’s best restaurant. They have a huge garden and farm of pigs and chickens to source their ingredients from. We started the meal with goat cheese stuffed squash blossoms something I love but hate to sacrifice my future squash to make from my garden. I had a scallop, shrimp and clam appetizer that was worth every calorie followed by a scallop and Meyer lemon main dish. I had to give one to Russ because he had also wanted to order the same thing, but in the name of trying different dishes he had fish. Of course the scallops were the better choice. It was hard to argue with any of them and they all were worth every bite. If you are ever coming to the mid coast of Maine make a reservation months in advance if you can get one.
Instead of an expensive dessert we stopped by Doremans the best ice cream around. I said I did not want any which we all know is a lie. They have a ginger chip ice cream that is about the most fabulous and unique flavor that only they can make. Russ ordered that even though it was not what he wanted so despite my ice cream refusal I had a good number of bites. Oh vacation. Sometimes it’s worth letting go a tiny bit.
Back on the front porch on Clam Cove the heat wave has broken and I am almost chilly. As soon as I post this blog a board game competition will break out. Warren can’t remember what game we played last time, just that I beat everyone. I’m letting everyone else pick the game tonight. I can play anything and after the wonderful day we have had it does not even matter if I win.
My hands are smelly from picking lobster, shucking corn and downing Maine strawberries. Carter and I arrived at our friend Warren’s house on Clam Cove in Rockport on the hottest day in Maine history. Russ has missed the heat because he is coming in at 3 in the morning. We still saved him a lobster for lunch tomorrow.
I’m writing this at the kitchen table while Warren washes the dishes and Carter is making him a friendship bracelet in Howard Johnson’s colors to match his HoJo room. Having Carter and Warren tell stories about me and what a bad girl I was when I was Carter’s age is probably a bad idea. I don’t know if it is a good for me to let them spend too much time together, but they do have so much fun together. They are already plotting about throwing me off the schooner we are going on the morning.
I love coming to visit Warren and eat at the soda fountain counter of his own personal HoJo’s while listening to Bread coming from the juke box. When you are thirsty you just reach into the Coke cooler and grab yourself a drink. I am thankful that the whole ice cream counter is not stocked with hot fudge and the 28 flavors. Warren and Carter did have strawberry shortcakes. I had the strawberries and a squirt of whipped cream as celebration.
Everything about Maine screams summer to me and with this heat it is feeling like it too. But the weather is going to break and I will certainly be wearing my sweatshirt any day now. Oh to be in Maine, laughing, telling stories and making new memories.
We have only had four days over ninety degrees and my family have not gone on our vacation yet and I feel as if summer is over. Today we got Carter’s back to school information for her first year in Upper School. Where has break gone, or really where have the years gone? I feel like it was just yesterday that Carter was going to DA for Pre-K and now she is in ninth grade.
Rather than packing for our trip to Maine I am pouring over letters from division heads, athletic directors, looking at class schedules and advisory lists. I think I can physically feel high school flying by just as I wink my eye.
Wasn’t I just in high school? In the morning we are going to visit my great friend Warren, whom I met in high school. That was like 38 years ago, maybe three blinks of an eye. Now I have a child who is friends with him who is almost my age when we met.
Today was also the last day for me to work out with my beloved trainer Tom Stafford. I have followed Tom through three different gyms in the last ten years. Tom has endured me as a client and has never made me dread working out because he uses humor and fun in all that we do. Tom is moving to Florida because his wife’s job is transferring them there. If I had not seen him go from no kids to two who are almost nine and seven I might say we had only been working out together a couple years. I closed my eyes and opened them and a decade was gone, and sadly for me so will Tom.
Time is such a funny thing. The time between lunch and dinner can feel like forever, but between age 32 and 52 like no time at all. I hate the feeling that summer is over even though technically I have four and a half weeks until school starts. I just know that I have so much to do and don’t have time to blink.
Today after picking Carter and her friend Ashley up at cooking camp we stopped into Nordstrom to pick up some jeans for Carter. The teen section, called BP has a brand of jeans that Carter likes so it makes shopping for them quick. As we were checking out the new sales girl asked Carter if she had gotten this brand before. After Carter sang the praises of these jeans the Nordstrom girl said, “I think I will have to try them because a $45 pair of jeans is so cheep.”
As we walked away both Ashley and Carter had the same adverse reaction to that comment. Their feeling was that $45 was first of all not really cheep and they could not really put their finger on why it rubbed them the wrong way. We discussed how much $45 meant to most Americans and how hard it is to earn. Both girls said it was wrong of the clerk to assume that $45 was un-meaningful to them. I was really quite proud of their outrage.
We stopped by our mailbox as we pulled into the driveway. The piece of junk mail on the top of the pile assaulted us all with the headline, “Unhappy with your Maid Service.” Are you kidding me? The girls and I had a follow-up discussion to the Nordstrom one’s about this direct mail piece. Of course direct mail is segmented by neighborhood and certainly plenty of people have help cleaning their houses, but it struck us very presumptuous that we already had a “Maid” and maybe we wanted to dump her and get a new one. If I were writing that headline I might say, “Unhappy with how your house is getting cleaned…?” That way it could be about your own cleaning abilities or ones provided you by another.
The gap between the haves and the have-nots seems to be widening and I am worried that not enough people are concerned about it. The clerk and maid mail were indicators, to the three of us in the car, that making class distinctions was just fine. Where has the middle class gone? I am all for people having opportunities to earn their way to riches, but I want everyone and not just a few people to be rich.
Mostly I am thankful that my child and her friend were aware enough to feel uncomfortable about the scenarios we had faced today. When I moaning that I needed to write my blog and did not know what to write about today Ashley said, “Write about that clerk and the maid service.” I hope these good values from two fourteen year olds rub off on some adults.
Yesterday I was watching Kristen Wiig on Good Morning America. You know Kristen is a comedian who was on Saturday Night Live and gained worldwide fame in Bridesmaids. Well she was on GMA joking that she wished she could stop people talking about kale and also that she could not live with out kale.
Kale is a rock star vegetable right now. Once it becomes the subject of two jokes from one comedian it means it has arrived. How did that happen? When I was a kid my southern parents were the only people in our small town of Wilton, CT. to buy kale. They must have gotten it really cheep because no one else knew what it was or why they would want it. I certainly never wanted it after I ate it the cooked-forever-finished-with-vinegar way my Dad made it. It was just another chopped green like collards or mustard greens that I disliked.
Fast forward thirty-five years and kale is all anyone is talking about, eating, cooking and growing these days. Did some farmer mistakenly grow a big ‘ole patch of kale and then hire a PR guy to help him get rid of it? I feel like there is money to be made in promoting the next big craze in vegetables.
Maybe I can invest in some obscure item like sunchokes and start growing them while at the same time creating higher demand for them by inventing fabulous recipes and big time health claims. The price for such an obscure item could go through the roof and I could profit by having a large supply of the rare vegetable.
You know this is what happened with the acai berry. Somebody must have been growing it and said, “I think I can make a lot more money if I could just get this berry a good PR person.” And thus the niche market for veggie and fruit PR was born.
Certainly if there is a PR guy then quickly there will need to be a commodities futures analyst followed quickly on by arbitrage in the vegetable market place. I wonder what it would take to create the next big vegetable craze and knock Kale off its lofty pedestal. I’m on the look out. Keep your eye on my recipes and if you start to see one item appearing more than the other I would consider investing heavily in it. You’d hate to miss the money to be made in veggie futures.
Carter has barely been home from camp and she is off again. Carter’s great friend Ashley recruited Carter to go to cooking school with her this week. Ashley has not had as much practice cooking at home as Carter has, but they both were worried about their futures in the kitchen if they did not start learning now.
The class they signed up for is The Science of Cooking for Teens, which makes it sound practically educational. I know that understanding the science behind food prep is incredibly helpful, but I think the science is the last thing on Carter’s mind. She, like her mother, likes food and if you like to eat an interest in cooking is usually not far behind.
I was not given a syllabus for this class so I had no idea what the girls were going to learn, just that they would cook and eat what they make for lunch. So today I dropped Carter off at the mall with a sports bag full of clothes and some loose plan that I might not see her for a couple of days and no other information. I am still trying to adjust to being the mother of a teenager who makes her own plans.
Feeling a little worried at the end of her class time that I was not completely sure what was happening I texted her and asked what they had learned to cook and to check on the rest of her day. As is usually the case in the texting world of teenagers I got back the message that they had made “Pizza meatballs monkey balls.” No punctuation. Was that Pizza, Meatballs and monkey balls, three things, and what are Monkey balls anyway? Or did they make pizza meatballs and monkey balls? Still unsure about what in the world monkey balls were.
My friends Amanda and Christy who were with me when I got the text translated Monkey balls for monkey bread. Sure enough when I texted back to Carter, “What is that” she said dough covered in cinnamon, which means monkey bread to me.
I’m not sure how much science Carter and Ashley learned today, but learning to cook all things balls is very trendy. Everywhere I turn these days people are making things into the ball format and not just the ground meat variety or the very 1960’s version of a cheese ball. Now there are rice balls or Mac and cheese formed into balls and fried, rum balls or matzo balls, sausage balls or spinach and cheese balls, the ever-popular popcorn balls, or crab balls. When I searched the Food Network’s recipe site for “Balls” I came up 479 recipes on their one site alone.
No matter the format I am just happy that my child is learning to cook somewhere. I think it is easier to have someone else teach her and I know she is happier with their menu because there is hardly a ball recipe that is healthy enough for me. All I can say is there are no balls in my eating future.
July 14th is officially known at the French National Day in France, but outside of France it is called Bastille Day. As in all things French it is more complicated than our July 4th. Here in America we celebrate the day of our independence from Brittan. In France their national day celebrates the creation of the modern nation that came out of the French revolution. Of course it took the French over 100 years after the storming of the Bastille to declare July 14th to be a national holiday. I guess it is much easier to celebrate a holiday of freedom from another nation than it is to do so about freedom from your own countrymen.
Like all national summer holidays the day is about being outside and eating with your friends and family and let’s face it, having a paid holiday from work, something the French have perfected. When I was nineteen I spent one perfect Bastille Day in Nantes with the French family I lived with. I imagine I had a fresh summer fruit salad with succulent peaches and tart red raspberries. This was followed by a crusty baguette spread with a healthy douse of ripe Brie cheese. A platter of summer vegetables, both raw and grilled was passed with just a bit of young green olive oil and sea salt and cracked black pepper. Terrines of pate and smoked chicken studded with pistachios and caper berries followed requiring more bread. We finished up the picnic with a celebration gateau with strawberries and blueberries between the layers of white cake and fluffy whipped cream to represent the tricolor flag of the republic. Of course wine and Champagne were served throughout the day and since I was nineteen I was still drinking then.
I am thankful that I do not have to celebrate here today because just the mere thought of all that fattening French food is dimpling my thighs as I write. I know the French are better at portion control and stretching out their courses for hours means they really end up eating a judicious amount, but that was never something I adopted living there.
If you feel like having an excuse to raise a glass to the French, today’s the day. They did help us gain independence from the Brits so perhaps they deserve a little recognition. Since you have run out of time to make your own pate consider making some crepes with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. They are not that decadent and you will have the French flag colors represented. I feel like I have done my duty by just alerting you that today is Bastille Day. I’ll have arugula and grilled chicken and pretend I still drink wine.
I was so excited to be getting Carter home from camp today I woke up at five in the morning. It was an hour earlier than I needed to be up so I tried to be silent so as not to wake Russ. Best laid plans, I knocked a giant glass off my bedside table shattering it into a gazillion shards. Top it all off my Mother and her bridge partner are spending two nights here while attending a bridge tournament in Durham so Russ and I had to silently clean the glass up without the vacuum cleaner.
Not the way I wanted to start the day, but we got an early start to drive out to Roaring Gap and reunite with Carter. After the crying hugs of joy, Carter’s counselor deemed us happiest reunion family and we bid Camp Cheerio goodbye for the season. All the way home Carter filled us in on all the news from camp. By the time we got home we were all exhausted and fell into our beds for naps.
No one was happier to see Carter than her baby Shay Shay. It has to be confusing in a dog’s life to tell the difference between her mothers going to school for the day and going away fro three weeks. I can see the look in Shay Shay’s face questioning, was that just one really long day?
Quickly they fell back into snuggle time together and Shay is off to bed to sleep curled up around Carter. This mother is happy to have her baby home too.
Tomorrow will be the end of Carter’s three weeks at summer camp. I have missed her so and am looking forward to getting up at six in the morning to go get my arms around her. Absence does more than make the heart grow fonder; it erases any lingering negatives.
Carter came home from camp last year and asked if she could return to her normal two-week all girl session and then do a stay over night and attend the one-week co-ed session. I myself had spent four weeks at girl’s camp and thought that it was a great idea. I had no idea how hard it was going to be on me to have her out of communication for that long except for letters.
Camp is about the last place on earth where electronic communication is forbidden. With the exception of her borrowing another camper’s mother’s phone during pick up last weekend, so she could call me and tell me she had gotten honor camper, she has not had any phone or internet. The best part about that is that Carter’s letters home have gotten increasingly better as the weeks went on.
I love reading news from camp. The session usually starts with information about her cabin mates, perhaps a whisper of someone who might be annoying her and the ever-present request for me to send her something in the form of a care package. As time goes on the annoyance has turned into a good buddy and the letters are filled with descriptions of life-long friends. By the end there are thank you’s for the packages sent and endings of how much she loves us and misses us. Everything a parent needs to be willing to fork over the cost of camp next year.
There are no parent-child tensions in letter’s from camp if your kid loves camp. None of the day-today struggle over a messy room or complaints about what’s for dinner. Those issues are counselors’ problems and so as a parent you get just the good part of your child in the letters. As excited, as I am to be getting her home I am going to miss the written insight into her life that I get when Carter writes me a letter. Next year she will be a senior camper so I only have one more year of letter-only communication. I can’t imagine another scenario where she won’t have electronic and constant communication so I am cherishing what I have. I’ll save the stack of mail from this year to read at night after she has been home a few weeks and we have fallen back into normal mother-teenager routines. I love having the euphoric world of letter’s from camp to retreat to incase I need it.
For the last few weeks my local news TV station has been pushing the bad weather alert app for my phone. The free app sends me an audible and text alert when there is bad weather in my location, wherever that location happens to be. After hearing over and over again how helpful it is to be warned of dangerous weather events I went ahead and put the app on my phone.
What a pain this has turned out to be. Any time in the day or night my phone has spoken loudly and sternly to me telling me of a flash flood, big wind, falling tree or potential to be struck by lightening eminent event. Even if my phone is on mute the sound overrides my requested silence sending warnings and beeps, flashes, speaks and spelling out life threatening messages. I have been awoken a half dozen times.
Do you think waking me up in the middle of the night hearing that I need to go to a center-of-my-house-windowless-room and stay there until the all-clear alert is actually making me do it? Hell no. I lived in Washington DC when it was the murder capital of America. I used to hear gunshots right outside my bedroom window regularly and I barely paused to think, “Should I roll off my bed by the window and sleep on the floor where I was protected by a brick wall?” The answer to that question was always no. I needed a good night’s sleep because I had work in the morning. If I got killed in my sleep by a stray bullet at least my corpse would look well rested.
The way the biblical amount of rains have been this summer I don’t stand a chance to have a good night’s sleep if I keep this app, so I am going back to my ignorance is bliss way of life and removing it. What I am really looking for is the “Sunshine Alert App” because I hate missing a moment of the rare and precious sunshine we might still get this summer.
I wish that I could search for apps under the category of “Good News Apps” rather than the “Impending Doom Apps” that seem to be the trend. I’m sick to death about impending anything. People worry way too much about what probably won’t happen and not enough about enjoying the good that actually exists in the world. I’m keeping my eye out for the sunshine and the rainbows that will certainly come with it. I’m going to do it the old fashioned way by looking up in the sky and enjoying the lack of any annoying beeping to let me know there is a rainbow.
Today my friend Lynn brought me a bag of the most luscious George peaches. They had warmed to juicy ripe perfection on my front porch and smelled of an old fashioned summer. My inclination to make them into a cobbler or peach almond tart had to be curbed. I thought about it and could not come up with a reason they could not be made into a salad. I had bought a pound of crabmeat yesterday and decided to take the chance to combine two of my favorite flavors. Just to guild the lily I added avocado.
1 pound of lump Crabmeat
Zest of one lemon
Juice of one lemon
3 T. mayonnaise
1 T. Sriracha sauce
1 T. capers
Gently mix everything together folding the crab carefully not to break it up too much.
4 T. balsamic glaze
Peel a ripe peach and slice into wedges. Cube an avocado. Place half a peach slices and half an avocado on a plate and top with a big scoop of the crab salad. Drizzle balsamic glaze around the outside.
Makes four servings
You can buy balsamic glaze or make it by simmering balsamic vinegar on a low heat on stove until it reduces by two thirds.
Today I had a fun play date with my friend Donnabeth to celebrate her birthday. I first met Donnabeth when we were clearly the fish out of water at a dude ranch in Western North Carolina about seven years ago. We instantly bonded over our dislike of ranch grub and have been fast friends ever since.
Donnabeth shares my love of interesting food while at the same time is on the search for high flavor low calorie. Today I took her to the Saigon Grill where we were able to get the noodle salads sans noodles. As we discussed all things cuisines Donnabeth, who spent much of her career in television news, continued to interview me about how I come up with recipes.
As we tried to unravel the craziness that is my brain and how or why I put weird combinations together we backed into some answers as to the birthing of a good dish. The easiest answer is that I start with some ingredient I have on hand and add to it. The next thing is that I like opposing flavors, but not too many to muddy up a dish. So if I have something that is sweet I add some salt. I almost always add lime or lemon juice to things because I like tart — The ying and yang of cooking is how I wold describe it..
We talked about the Cantaloupe soup I had posted on the blog yesterday and I suggested that after lunch we go back to my house so she can taste it. When I handed her a tiny cup of the cold green soup she tasted it and asked if it had cucumber in it. No, I said, but I had thought about putting cucumber in it. Then she asked me if I had used a Honey Dew Melon? OMG, Yes it was Honey Dew and not a cantaloupe. I had written the recipe and posted it with the wrong main ingredient.
When you cook with raw fruits and vegetables that you grow they don’t have labels on them confirming exactly what they are. I certainly know the difference between a cantaloupe and honeydew, but one brain fart and I’m calling them the opposite names. Herein lies one problem with a blog that I write and post in twenty minutes without any editor. I ask your forgiveness for any and all mistakes I make because lord knows there are many. I just don’t have more than twenty minutes a day to commit to blogging. I need to spend some time living so I have something to blog about.
This is easy yummy summer treat. You will be surprised how so few ingredients can make such a complex taste.
1 small jalapeno pepper, seeded
4 T. Lime juice
20 mint leaves
Half a Honey Dew melon chunks
Put everything in the Cuisineart or powerful blender. Run until smooth. Chill and enjoy. It is more addictive than you can imagine.
Our five days in Park City is coming to an end. I know that it in no way represents what the whole state of Utah is like, but I have come across some strong differences between here and home. The most striking difference is the number of children in each family. Every where we went the average family included at least four children, most being close in age.
As Russ and I sat at sidewalk cafes we would count kids as two parents would emerge from giant SUV’s, one, two three, a lull as the second row seat was moved so those in the way back row could come out, four, five, six. One morning I was up very early having coffee in the great room of the hotel and a fairly young man came down and joined me with a beautiful tiny little baby girl. I asked how old she was and he said three months. He went on to say what a good baby she was. I asked if he had others to compare her too and he said yes, she was his fourth. I said I guess he would know what a good baby was then. “Yes. It is our responsibility to society to produce lots of good children,” were his actual words to me. There it is. People in Utah are saving society by producing lots of good children to balance out the rest of the country’s questionable children.
The big family consumer must be working for them because I have never see so many Range Rovers in one place in my life. At first I thought there must have been a Range Rover road rally, but then I did notice that the Mercedes SUV’s were equally as plentiful. I have not seen one Smart car and only two Prius cars in five days. Gas must be free here.
Although people are friendly they are not Southern friendly. What does that mean? Russ and I had multiple conversations with shuttle drivers, wait staff, adventure guides and the like who all said the same thing about making a life style choice to live in Park City, but feeling like they are not respected which is sometimes hard for them. These were people who had given up rat race jobs to do jobs they did not have to take home at night so they could just enjoy life, but they felt they were now treated like they were people without a brain.
What I noticed was different from the south is that people here did not talk to service workers at all, not just not as equals. I had a conversation with the Romanian spa attendant and she told me that in her two months of being here I was the first person to ask her where she was from and showed any interest in how she got here and if she liked it. She asked me if other people were like me where I was from. I told her more than here.
Don’t get me wrong. People are nice, but earnest nice. I would say that sarcasm is in short supply here. When our waiter at breakfast asked us in a surprised way if we were ready to order after only spending three minutes looking at the menu, I responded, “It’s just breakfast. We pretty much understand the choices.” Not a big laugh getter here.
So home we’ll go to out empty house with that only child still at camp and our tiny and hybrid cars and our long conversations with the check out girl at the Harris Teeter. Back in the friendly ‘ole pond full of fish like us.
Since my knee is still messed up Russ thought it would be a good time to send me to the spa for a little pampering. He is really a thoughtful husband who has hardly complained about my screwing up his hiking plans. So I went kicking and screaming, well only one leg could kick to the spa. I enjoyed the whirl pool and the sauna before I had a decedent hour and a half massage.
I opted for a hot and cold stone number with the cold stones going to the sore muscle parts. Part of the treatment included something I had never experienced before, dry skin brushing. Of all the new age mojo out there this is the newest. The masseuse told me that it was supposed to improve my lymphatic system by increasing the circulation to the skin, encouraging my body to discharge metabolic waste and eliminate toxins. Lord knows I’m full of metabolic waste, but we just called it by another name. Dry skin brushing also helps your skin to breathe by removing dead skin cells, and opening clogged pores she went on to say.
Apparently you should slough off a pound of dead skin per day. Huh, I’ve been trying to lose weight from the inside out and apparently I could be doing it faster if I just scraped it off me. I was given the brush she used on me and I am going to start brushing at every available moment. My masseuse told me in all seriousness to brush in small strokes starting at my feet and hands and brush towards my heart. She never got the joke when I asked if it mattered if I had my arms up in the air brush down or by my side brushing up. Apparently there is no joking in the dry skin brushing community.
True to all beauty hoaxes dry skin brushing also claims to remove cellulite. As the whole world knows, if you want to sell any snake oil you claim it cures cellulite. My girl said I was a good dry skin brushing candidate since I had a lot of fluid in my legs. I told her that my fluid was in the form of fat, and yes, thank you I already knew I had fat legs.
I need to take some measurements of my thighs and if I can brush hard enough to shrink them down an inch or two I will start a dry skin brushing station at my house where you can stop by and purchase your own brush and be instructed in this major medical break through. Results will be coming so start saving your pennies.
You have heard of people who are weekend warriors, working out and doing extreme sports only on the weekends, then there is me, vacation warrior. I try more difficult and age defying things only on vacation. This almost always proves to be a bad idea, yet I still don’t learn.
Back in 1988 I went to Greece with my friend David. While we were on the Island of Mykonos we decided that we needed mopeds to get around the island, especially since we were staying on the far side from all the action. One night after dinner in the dusk of the late summer sun we headed back across the island. David being a far superior driver led the way with me not far behind. The road was mostly desolate but as we came around a curve we saw a crowded taverna on the mountain side of the road with a steep cliff across the way.
The taverna was busy and as David passed a small truck that was parked in front did a u-turn not noticing me coming right up behind David. Time slowed down and I can remember every millisecond of my life since I was sure it was passing before my eyes. The first thing I thought was, I am going to die, followed quickly by do I hit the truck or veer off the cliff? Truck, cliff, truck, cliff I’ll take the truck for $1,000 Alex.
Once I knew my direction I started thinking, “how is David going to get my body home?” My parents are going to be crushed…Then I hit the truck. I flew through the air and did a full 360 degree flip and fat saved my life because I landed on my butt. As soon as it happened I thought, “I can think, I’m still alive.”. I looked down at my pants and noticed that my right hip had gotten so much larger than the left. “my God, I’ve gained a lot of weight on vacation” I thought. Then I pushed on my hip and popped it back into its socket. Apparently relocating my own hip while I was in shock was a good thing.
To make a long story short, I was whisked off to the vet slash doctor where David was told I was a strong American woman and I would live through my dislocated hip, broken arm and broken leg. Which was true. We stayed in Greece nine more days under the idea that I had to heal some where and flying with all those broken bones would just hurt more.
Since that trip to Greece I have stayed off mopeds, but I still end up getting hurt doing the safest of activities. Today Russ and I went up to the top of Deer Valley for a hike. Walking should be something I have mastered at this point in life. About 300 yards from the top of the mountain I slipped on the mud of a down hill switch back sliding into an unnatural knee bent backwards like a mountain goat position. Nothing life threatening or even in need of a doctor, but really, only 300 yards into a 2 and a half mile decent.
Good thing I am a strong American woman, lord knows what any female of another nationality might have done. I made it down the mountain and pray the limp will heal by tomorrows day out. I don’t know how much less I can do.
Russ and I decided to come to Park City Utah to celebrate the forth of July. Well, we really were not concerned with the fourth, but just getting away from rainy Durham for a few days while Carter was enjoying herself at camp. This was a spur of the moment trip and we thought that the parched Utah mountains who have been rain free for the last two months would give us the relief we were looking for.
When we landed in Salt Lake City we were hardly bothered by the ninety degree weather that seemed to be taking the locals down. I attribute it to the thirty percent humidity that made the heat feel at least fifteen degrees cooler to us southerners. Once in Park City every native we talked with brought up the drought and the great need for rain. We of course told them that was one of the reasons we were here. I should have kept my mouth shut.
The other thing that everyone told us about was the big fourth of July parade that went down Main Street and ends in the city park. Apparently it is a float filled fun fest for young and old alike. As far as I can tell Utah is the procreation capital of America. I am yet to see a family with fewer than four children in stair step order with barely a year between them. So the parade is more for young than old since the young out number the rest of us.
Thinking about spending time standing on a street watching a parade full of a bunch of people we don’t know surrounded by thousands of ankle biters is not what we came out west to do. So yesterday against all the howling parade promoters we decided to sign up for white water rafting as our way of celebrating this wonderful country.
After a nice dinner in town last night we came back up the mountain and fell dead asleep only to be suddenly awoken at three in the morning by the biggest thunder and lightening storm with buckets of water gushing down outside our windows. Lucky for Park City we broke the drought for them by bringing the rain with us.
The morning was cold and overcast but we were assured that rafting would still go on. We went to breakfast only to be interrupted by a call from the nurse at Camp Cheerio who started by saying, “Carter is fine, but…”. Thankfully it was just an ear infection that still required me to have a forty-five minute phone call with the local Sparta, NC pharmacy.
At last we were picked up by the adventure guide Tyler and went off to raft with another delightful couple, Sarah and Anders who are staying at out hotel too. The sun broke out just in time for us to glide down the river with some minor rapids for excitement. We got a chance to see Blue Heron and red rock mountains which was the perfect way to unwind and appreciate America on it’s birthday.
How many times have you heard people say I wish I had Jennifer Aniston’s nose or Angelina’s lips or Halle Barry’s anything? Some people are blessed with a perfect feature or two. These days there are doctors who are willing to give people what God has not.
The problem comes when you try and take the perfect parts from many different people and put them all together on one person. Sometimes the sum of those parts is far from attractive. Case in point was a flight attendant on our plane today. She had all the signs of a woman trying to look 25 years younger than she was and at the same time had the obvious look of too many plastic surgeries. Her lips were pumped up to the verge of exploding and the artificial lip liner only accentuated their odd shape. Her nose had been bobbed to resemble Michael Jackson’s on a bad day. The look of surprise was stretched onto her forehead with her eye brows at least an inch from their natural position. Her too strawberry blond hair was cut and styled in a way that it was brushed forward all around her face to hide any telltale scars from too much cutting and pulling. Her naturally thin pale skin could not hide the scars on her eyelids announcing their surgery.
She probably was beautiful before she fiddled with all her parts. She had a fabulous figure, nice skin, beautiful hands, the one thing she could not change, that announced her true age. Even without my glasses on she was scary to look at, which might explain all the screaming babies on our flight today. I wonder if she regretted starting down the plastic pathway?
I am all for self improvement to a degree. Obviously being a more healthy weight is my main goal, but I’m not unrealistically looking for a single digit dress size. I am happy with my imperfections, be them many. But I also appreciate a few good parts, like my feet are in fairly good condition after that I’m not really taking stock.
If you are overcome with self improvement fever try volunteering at a charity or doing the Avon Breast Cancer walk. Nothing makes you more attractive than helping someone else. If those things are more time than you have try writing someone important to you a heartfelt handwritten letter letting them know what they mean to you. I promise they will think you are beautiful for doing that. Lastly if you just can’t help but harp on some minor imperfection you have just stop looking in the mirror. I bet no one who looks at you is thinking twice about it.
I have a friend whose father was a country Doctor back in the forties in rural North Carolina. Back then Doctors did not go in to the profession to make big money. In fact my friend used to talk about the poor patients of her father would pay him in vegetables from their garden, put up canned tomatoes and if he delivered a baby that turned out to be a son, perhaps a whole hog.
Yesterday I saw on Facebook that my friend Laura had canned a mess of peach preserves and was wondering what she was thinking when she made such a big batch. I’ve been the recipient of a couple of her homemade canned treats and I know those preserves are worth their weight in gold. I’m sure she could trade them with someone for something she needs.
I’m having a bumper crop of Zephyr squash. It’s not one you might know, but it is a yellow squash variation that is half yellow and half green. It is very pretty, but after a while it is a little tiring. Of all the things I planted it is by far my most prolific and by now my least favorite. The ark needing rain is not helping the issue because I think this squash grows eight inches in 24 hours if it is getting rain.
I wish that I could take a bushel or two of my squash and give it to my dentist instead of paying him, but that form of barter is frowned upon these days. Every week I give my housekeeper a bag and she tells me that it is about the only vegetable her grandchildren will eat. So I know that my garden is doing a good deed.
I could be canning the squash with onions, but somehow there are not enough hours in the day to get that done, what with my words with friends addiction and my Christmas ornament needlepoint deadline looming and my writing assignments hanging over me. So I will continue to give the stuff away, but if you have a strong desire for it and something to trade make me an offer. You know I’ll just end up giving you what ever I have.
I love peaches and peach drinks have always been a favorite. Peach drinks you say, what the hell is a peach drink? When I was a kid my family went on summer vacation to Pawleys Island with my Dad’s brother, Wilson’s family. We almost always went in August, the hottest time of the year to go to a South Carolina beach. I think we went then so that my Dad and Uncle Wilson had a good excuse to make up crazy beach drinks.
One summer about 1972 it was so hot that the blender was going day and night with peach daiquiris. I know there was a virgin version for kids, but I think after a few hours no one knew which one they were drinking. Besides the serving children alcohol issue, the peach daiquiris were very fattening.
Recently I bought a tea at Tevana called Peach Tranquility. As I was drinking it I had flashbacks of Pawleys with Three Dog Night singing, “Joy to the world” in the background. Since I gave up alcohol and really don’t like drinking my calories I created this drink that is fairly close to the peach daiquiri with practically no calories.
1 cup double-strength Peach Tea — chilled
1 cup club soda – chilled
1 ½ T. lime juice
2 Splenda Packets
2 cups of crushed ice
Mint leaf for garnish
To make double strength tea use double the amount of peach tea, either loose tea or tea bags and let it steep for at least 15 minutes. In a blender put all the ingredients except the mint and blend until the ice is completely made into slush.
Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with mint.