Sum-sum-summertime!

A nice thing happened last week – one of my sister’s besties shared two pieces from my old blog and it was a huge encouragement for at least two reasons:  1) It touches me that she saved them, since I only vaguely remember writing either one, and 2) It didn’t make me cringe to read them again from this vantage point.

Reposting one here:

Kim and I have been catching some advertising on TV that has us scratching our heads.  The ads are for a well-known outdoor-recreation merchandiser of colossal proportions, touting their store-sponsored summer camps.  The footage shows happy children and their parents sleeping in tents, toasting marshmallows, going fishing, and participating in other fun activities associated with the open-air experience – all of it taking place

INSIDE THE STORE!

I’m all for exposing kids to new experiences and the joys of outdoor living, but somehow the ads only succeed in making me feel sad.  I grew up camping with my family, so I know it doesn’t have to cost big bucks for the real thing unless you require everything to be first class.

First class we weren’t – more like a band of gypsies – but I wouldn’t trade those summer idylls for anything.  My dad was an irrigation farmer, making it difficult for him to get away during the over-heated summer months; however, where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Three or four times a year, between May and September, my parents, an aunt and uncle, and a raft of kids would load up and go to the lake for several days of sun, swimming, water-skiing, sleeping under the stars, and eating food cooked outdoors.  There was a little fishing here and there, too, and we were usually joined by other relatives and friends at various points during our stay.

My grandpa had stocked up on Army surplus items when the gettin’ was good (and cheap), so we had access to a big green army tent that was hot as blazes after a day in the sun but did a good job of sheltering us from the elements; kerosene lanterns; cots and smelly sleeping bags; portable cook-stoves; ammo boxes for storage; and most anything else a few days without the comforts of home might require.

After loading the station wagon with everything from soup to nuts, the first stop was the grocery store for all the real food – bags upon bags of it.  Then with everyone crammed into the vehicles we caravanned to the nearest large body of water, an hour and a half away, happy as clams, singing, laughing, and playing travel games, and with much “discussion” over who got the spot between Mother and Daddy in the front seat.

We kept a small ski boat and a big old (with the emphasis on old) ramshackle trailer house in a storage area at Cedar Bluff Lake, towing both down to the water upon arrival.  The boat would be launched, the trailer leveled insofar as was possible, the tent(s) set up, the charcoal grills placed on standby, and all things put in order for an extended stay.  We kids, of course, barely noticed that these things were happening.  We’d either worn our swimsuits on the drive up, or shucked into them the minute the wheels stopped rolling, and we were happily jumping off the dock, dunking each other, yelling, running around … and asking what we could have to eat.

Our mom and aunt seemed to do little besides cook the entire time, when they weren’t busy grabbing a streaking, flailing kid at every opportunity in order to slather him/her with sunscreen, but they were nevertheless visibly more relaxed and laid-back about life than at home.  Everyone who’s experienced it knows there’s something about food cooked and consumed outdoors that enhances its flavor many times over, and we feasted like royalty.  Pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and fruit for breakfast, baloney sandwiches, chips and veggies for lunch, grilled hotdogs, hamburgers, steaks or chicken with all the extras in the evenings.  And a steady, day-long supply of cold soda and Black Cow bars, plus anything else we could manage to ferret out of its hiding spot.

The babies played in the sand.  The little kids banded together and pursued their own enterprises of hiking, exploring, sharing secrets, and defending each other from callous onslaughts by the medium-sized kids … who obviously dedicated their time to harassing the little kids.

The bigger kids’ hours were defined by transistor radios, water-skiing, sun-tanning, and keeping a close watch for interesting-looking members of the opposite sex.  The kicker was that our parents preferred going to the lake during the week rather than on weekends in order to avoid the crowds, so the pickings were slim.

Our dads spent their time trying to keep the boat motor running, hot-dogging on slalom skis as a reward for their efforts, and consuming quantities of cold beer.

And our moms, who were known to do a little sun-tanning themselves while catching up on their reading and talking, were no doubt simply thankful to survive it all one more time.

The time always passed far too quickly, and after three or four days of non-stop sun and water everything would be packed into the cars again for the trip home, each and every item either wet or coated with gritty sand, or both.

Unlike on the drive up, there was no singing; there was barely a word spoken.  We were all sunburned within an inch of our lives, AGAIN, and God help the child who inadvertently touched a sibling on any part of his or her person.  We were well-acquainted with the misery of sun-burnt skin and we swore each time that it would never happen again, but nobody in our acquaintance yet knew how potentially deadly the condition was, so we were not nearly as careful as we should have been.  On the way home, the only reason anybody vied for the middle spot in the front seat was because that’s where the A/C blew the coldest.

It was rude, it was crude, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  We loved every minute of it, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat … if only to have all those people back with us for one more lazy summer.

Not every child will be lucky enough to experience the kind of summers we did, but I do hope they realize that there’s more to life than a pseudo camp-out in a retail store.

 

Burntside-Lake

 

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More rain worship…

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Adrift on the pouring rain, the flashes and rumblings, the delicious darkling morning. The bed is unmade and its still-warm folds insistently breathe my name. I brazenly cancel coffee and convo with a friend in favor of staying inside and cozy with Kim, who isn’t going out to play this morning either. My friend goes back to bed, so there’s one good deed done for the day.

Languid…liquid…lazy…leisurely…laid back. It’s that kind of day, and if my muse remains trapped in here with me it will be productive in spite of itself.

 

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And the rains came…

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dark house, rain falling

lightning flashing thunder crash(ing)

bed invites me back

JSmith 06/29/2017

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Life just changes…

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working through breakdowns

takes truth and recognition

hurts to be accountable

JSmith 06/27/2017

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Summer Sundays…

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house is dim and cool

sun is bright and warm

which spot will I choose today

JSmith 06/25/2017

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Vacations rock…

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mountains are cool spots

green, clean, and beautiful, and

home is hot but good

JSmith 06/23/2017

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Loving ALL THE THINGS…

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farmers market day

white tents filled with food and drink

and flowers too because life

JSmith 06/10/2017

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A list of happy…

My (our) clean quiet loft

Sunlight slipping through the wooden blinds and striping the bed

Half a pot of coffee staying warm until after I talk myself into

A nice warm shower and undies fresh from the dryer

The French Open murmuring along on TV

Cold milk, crisp cereal, and a flawless banana

The never-ending array of great art on the internet, which is then translated into jigsaw puzzles in Judy World. The puzzles, in turn, allow my brain to freewheel in a universe of words and ideas and sometimes not surface for hours

Friends, with their beautiful ways of showing me I’ve been seen and heard and I don’t have to be cautious about my words

Plans that carry me forward and remind me I’m not finished here yet

Lunch with my husband, after hearing him play guitar for an hour

A relaxing pedi

Projects that capture my attention and validate the future

A town and a living space that nurture my humanness and affirm that life goes on

NOT THE END

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Life is too short…

can i start my life

again say fewer dumb things

the next time around

JSmith 06/04/2017

Is it a trick of the light, a scent in the air, not sure where the overwhelmedness gets triggered, but within seconds I can have myself regretting my entire existence and wishing for do-overs. Then pragmatism kicks in and I go on doing whatever it is I do and the mood passes. Reality in the sunshine…

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Gathering moss…

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wandering off track

hoping for the best, ha ha

disciplined I’m not

JSmith 05/31/2017

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As the year rolls…

Dancing-around-the-Maypole

may day came and went

no big romp around the pole

june has better plans

JSmith 05/22/2017

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I’m speechless…

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words there aren’t enough

and yet far too many said

save some for later

JSmith 5/21/2017

words

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I don’t hate them anymore…

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time for a nap now

new thing from an old life gone

makes the day go right

JSmith 05/19/2017

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Just get through it…

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gray-cast Friday morn

talking heads are on ignore

better use for brain

05/19/2017

 

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Life is so random…

…and it’s been astonishingly blatant about it lately. There’s never a shortage of life issues to ponder, but when events beyond my nose spiral out of control the issues proliferate. Pardon me while I overthink a few things…

ON DIETING: What’s the point? If I can improve my health, great. If I really do lose pounds, fabulous. I’ve done it, it’s a familiar circus, and I’ll likely do it some more times, but therein lies the problem – I’m a repeat offender. It doesn’t really stick, and for me it’s because it’s unnatural – I know what I like, and the minute somebody says I can’t eat that my body goes into rebellion. It’ll drop a certain number of pounds for me, but it’s merely biding its time until the stuff I really want comes back. Also, at this point I’m consistently ignoring all studies proving this or that food substance will kill me – I’m getting there anyway so let me enjoy my life on the way.

ON AGE SPOTS: It’s only a matter of time before the brown patches on my face that look like small continents merge to form a whole and make me look permanently tanned. Might be okay. Meanwhile I’m using apple cider vinegar like an astringent because it’s rumored to fade age spots, never mind that I smell suspiciously douchey for the first hour or so.

ON THE CURRENT CLIMATE: It’s a challenge to live every day in a heightened state of awareness – I’m as tired at night as if I’d been doing hard labor. It’s an accepted fact that stress of that kind is unhealthy long-term, so I take joy in being good to myself in as many ways as I can think of, and it helps. I hope you’re doing the same – life goes by quickly and there are no do-overs unless you believe in reincarnation, which is a whole other conversation…

That’s random enough for now – and you just realized you’ll never get the last five minutes back. 😄

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