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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March on…

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feels like spring is here

Mother Nature might get bit

she will not be pleased

JSmith 03/01/2017

Best of all, March means more Jayhawk Basketball, for which we are mad, I tell you.

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Good morning, sunshine…

anthonyjdangelo1

is sunshine magic

does it always inspire you

does it give you strength?

JSmith 02/17/2017

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The Right Stuff…

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The magic was always in the secrets and the rush and the crazy, trying to make each holiday season the best one ever, the gifts perfect, the food exactly according to tradition, all for that elusive (illusive) Old-Fashioned Christmas.

On this December 24th, in the year (of our Lord?) 2016, the magic lies elsewhere. It’s in the big messy bed, the fog hanging outside our windows, the Salted Caramel Bailey’s swirling into the coffee mugs, the Kim Breakfast because Saturday, the spa tub filling.

Tomorrow, Christmas Day, Santa will bring the Zen all over again – Black Forest ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts, lovely rolls, easy munchies. Vino, always. A Pentatonix Christmas, we love those sweet babies. And later, when we’re in our cups, Bad Santa. Saving Hudsucker Proxy for New Year’s, 2017 apropos.

The Real Christmas was always at my maternal grandparents’ house, where one long, very long, table was set up through the living and dining rooms, and pretty packages spilled far past the tree while Grandma and her daughters and daughters-in-law still frantically wrapped gifts in a spare bedroom, giving the door a kick once in a while to keep nosy grandkids away. My mom was one of nine offspring, who were themselves fairly prolific, so Christmas dinner could involve 40 people or more, with additional afternoon drop-ins.

The women cooked the enormous meal, the kids raised hell, and after dinner my good-looking uncles rolled up their sleeves, stored food, picked the turkey carcass clean for leftovers, and washed the dishes, no rugrats allowed in the kitchen. The uncles, former Marines, Korean War, could be intimidating when they put their foot down, and were no doubt laughing up their collective sleeves at us every year. Omigod, we were insufferable.

They’re gone, those people, and I can’t even find a photo this morning to honor the first Christmases of my heart. The pictures are here somewhere, in an album online or on a shelf, old Kodachrome color snaps – upwards of 60 or more of us crammed into one glorious photo with the tree barely showing in the back and wrapping paper still strewn. That’s how my heart remembers it.

I hope your Christmas, old-fashioned or otherwise, will be sweet. Tuck it into your heart…those memories belong to us forever.

 

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Just write…

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just enough sunshine

which is all the wide blue sky

to chat with my muse

JSmith 11/01/2016

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Fickle Fall

fall

 

fall is full of whim

having its way with the world

running hot and cold

JSmith 10/26/2016

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Head toward the light…

Colorful autumn

 

sunshine everywhere

how i want the world to be

no shadows the end

JSmith 10/18/2016

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Celebrate the equinox!

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Hot-Day Haiku…

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summer solstice hits

crank up the whine-o-matic

sweat is water too

JSmith 6/20/2016

 

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June…haikuing out all over

June arrives on time

skies still hold sun rain sleet snow

fancy bull-shitsu

JSmith 6/01/2016

 

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Focus on Spring!

SPRING

Playing with a headline checker this morning and finding that a passing grade is hard to earn — my words don’t meet the parameters for drama, bite, and maximum grabbiness.  However, since I’m not selling anything I find that level of failure acceptable.  Happy Spring to you, whether it’s early or late in your world!

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It happens every year …

Hello-December-Funny-41

Rain stopped

ice melted

sun came out

December arrived.

A mystery.

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Hello, goodbye …

GBJuly

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Ranting about thankfulness on HumpDay …

Didn’t feel like losing it over anything on Monday, so you got a break.  Love it while you can because that’s over in 4 … 3 … 2 …

So Monday was okay, as I recall.  Tuesday afternoon we’re tootling along Hwy 10 when the tootle goes away.

Kim sits, hands on wheel, just long enough to assess how and why and mutter “F*ckin’ embarrassing” before he starts walking.  Li’l Truck inhaled the last of the fumes about a quarter of a mile short of an exit, beyond which there is rumored (according to the sign) to be a service station, but just before Kim gets to the exit ramp somebody in a big black truck pulls over, picks him up, and drives away.

Which, after the shortest, most obscure Monday Rant you are likely ever to hear from me, brings us to Thankfulness Tuesday.  Because yes, there was a service station just beyond the exit ramp.  WAS.  Extinct and crusty.  Enter Ric, driving back to KC after the cold burial of a much-loved friend.  Spots my husband strolling along the highway, hunkered against the chill, a heavy coat, stocking cap pulled over most of his face, imposing enough man that you’d notice, and of course pulls right over.  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Ric.  Ric isn’t a big guy, but he sticks in your mind that way.  He repairs heavy equipment and does pipeline work, and I’m pretty sure he isn’t afraid of much, but his kind heart is a lot bigger than all that.  He insists on driving back down the 4-lane to get the Madster and me, carts us all back the other way to where the service station really IS, then west one more time where he uses his new truck to shield Kim from Highway Harm while he pours gas in the tank.  And yeah, then follows us back to the same service station so he knows for sure we made it, and tells Kim to give that piece of green to somebody who’s looking for it.

But wait, there’s more.  Kim’s a good mechanic, knows a lot about a lot.  For instance, he’s known since he bought the truck that it needs a new sending unit for the gas gauge, and probably a new fuel pump while you have the tank dropped, but since he doesn’t have a place to do his own work anymore and hasn’t loved the estimates he’s gotten, he’s just gradually developed a little system.  The system failed yesterday.  But only so we could start getting acquainted with Ric, and so he could offer to replace the unit for parts at his cost, plus labor.  Helps him, lets my husband win.  Think it’s gonna happen.

Also it’s HumpDay AND New Year’s Eve.  Do with that what you will, kids.

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