Thursday, July 31, 2008


On running.
Last Saturday, I completed #2 of the three race series. A 4.5 miler. And let me just say that the .8 miles through a heavily wooded trail was just gratuitous. I would have been perfectly happy cutting the run a little short by going right through the middle school parking lot, but noooo, we had to head off into the woods and jaunt all the way to ENGLAND and back! Luckily they had a water stop right as we came out of the woods, so that helped. A little. This week is 6 miles, starting with a "screaming downhill," which unfortunately means we also end UPHILL. I'm a little nervous, and I've lost my running buddy as daughter BB is sidelined with "patellar tendonitis." More on that later, but let's just say that keeping an active 12 year old on "rest from all activities" in the middle of the summer is not fun.

On Stuff Breaking Down.
I swear to you, when it rains it pours. No, I'm not talking about more water in the basement (thank goodness - there's drywall down there now!). I'm talking about the damn torsion spring in the garage door opener. Now don't get me wrong, I am very happy to have an automatic garage door opener, and happy that it has worked very peacefully for the last 8 years. I'm also happy that when the torsion spring under tremendous amounts of pressure and force decided to break, it did not cause any bodily or person-ily injury. Apparently that can happen, and we were very lucky. But still! Waaaahhh! The car, MY CAR was INSIDE the garage when it happened, and there was no way that door was gonna open without professional help! All better now, but grrrr. Total time to recovery (TTTR): 4 days. Cost: $170 (why does everything cost $170 these days?!?)


Just a couple of brief updates for now. Working on a nice little post for Friday. Till then, let me leave you with these words of wisdom, compliments of BB (from memory -sent to her by a camp friend): don't walk behind me I might not lead, don't walk in front of me I might not follow. Walk beside me and be my friend.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Jenny Hall, and a quiz!

I received an email this morning from my old friend Jenny Hall. She's a grown up now (does that mean I am too?!?!), with a different name and a gaggle of kids. We've lost touch a bit, my fault not hers. It warms my heart, however, to know that she's added my email address to her list of "people to send cute stories to." Isn't interesting how we "categorize" our email contacts? Some people receive pictures of kids and family news, others get internet links to touching news stories and YouTube videos (Jenny sent me the Christian the Lion video - how sweet!). Still others in our address books get "the jokes." How did we ever communicate before email???

Anyway, Jenny's on my mind, and I just knew I'd find something in Mom's archives involving Jenny. Here's a reprint of "From the Round Oak Table" on February 26, 1987. Please note, I first saw this and thought "oh, that's just like that quiz I got on email a few weeks ago." However, reading deeper, I realized that some of these "trick questions" posed a bit of a challenge, even for my clever-yet-worthless skill of usually not falling for crap like this.

Read on friends... can you get 100%?

From the Round Oak Table, February 26, 1987.

One of the people we depend on to keep us on our toes and make life interesting is Jenny Hall. She showed up not too long ago with an I.Q. test she'd been given in one of her classes by Mr. Hennigan, teacher and football coach at SEP. The test is very logical and there are no trick questions — so said Jenny who had a whee of a time taking JPK and I to the cleaners on this test. Following is the test...and the answers.



1. Do they have a fourth of July in England?

2. How many birthdays does the average person have?

3. Why isn't a man living in Altoona buried in Runnells?

4. If you struck a match and entered a cold room in which there was a kerosene lamp, an oil heater, and a stack of wood, which would you light first?

5. Some months have 31 days, others have 30; how many have 28?

6. If a doctor gave you three pills and told you to take one every half hour, how long would the pills last?

7. If a man builds a house in which all sides face south, when a bear walks by, what color is the bear?

8. I have in my hands two coins which total 55 cents. One coin is not a nickel. What are the two coins?

9. A farmer has seventeen sheep; all but nine died. How many lived?

10. If you took two apples from three apples, what do you have?

11. How many animals of each kind did Moses take on the Ark?

12. In Iowa, is it legal for a man to marry his widow's sister?

13. Mr. OLLIE LEE bought a new car. He asked, for license- plate number: 337-31770. Why?

14. A person had gold coins dated 46 B.C. Is this possible?

15. Two boys are playing ping pong. Each boy wins the same number of games, yet there are no ties. How is this possible?



1. Yes

2. One a year.

3. He can’t be 6’ under if he’s still alive!

4. The match

5. All of them

6. One hour

7. White (it would have to be a polar bear)

8. Nickel and 50-cent piece (ONE of the coins is not a nickel, but the other is!)

9. Nine

10. Two apples

11. Moses didn't take any animals on the Ark. Noah did!

12. Since the wife is a widow that means her husband is dead. Her dead husband can’t marry her sister!

13. It's his name upside down.

14. No coin could be dated B.C. — how would coin makers know when Christ would be born?

15. Each boy was playing different games.


Beware of the conversationalist who adds, "in other words." He/she is merely starting afresh.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Stuff breaking down

You know how when one light bulb burns out, it seems like they all follow suit shortly thereafter? And for me, it’s always that obscure light bulb, whose spare is never handy – dining room chandelier, fluorescent in the laundry room, freezer (30+ yrs old!) in the basement. We’ve recently had a string of “incidents” of stuff breaking down, I’m going to call it the Light Bulb Effect. When one thing goes wrong, all sorts of other things seem to follow suit. I’m working very hard on not bitching and complaining all the time, so I will state for the record that the only reason I mention this here, is that I’m happy to say (see? not complaining!) we have a wonderful sense of accomplishment in dealing with each of these little mini-crises, both from a physical and fiscal perspective.

The Refrigerator

The day before Mother’s Day – when I was expecting 22+ for dinner – we noticed some water pooled outside the fridge. An investigation lead to the discovery of melted ice in the freezer. We moved a few things out of the freezer and monitored the situation overnight. Which lead to the discovery of a higher-than-normal temp in the fridge and freezer. Something was definitely wrong.

On a side note, do you know the proper temp for your refrigerator and freezer? Our owners manual called for the “ice cream and milk” test. Put a thing of ice cream in the freezer for several hours. If when you take it out, it’s not frozen hard enough, then the freezer is too warm. Same thing with the milk – put it in the fridge for a while, then pour yourself a glass to drink, if it’s too warm, then your fridge temp is wonky. I need things a little more concrete than that, so I researched for hard facts (yay google): 38 for the fridge, 0 for the freezer, I think.

Anyway, we emptied out the fridge and freezer (thank God for a storage freezer in the basement and a “beer fridge” in the garage) and tried a few tricks to get ‘er going. Then, my neighbor LEN suggested we check out The site helps you diagnose your appliance problem and helps you order the right parts. After one false start (wrong part ordered) we installed a new “defrost thermostat” (thanks for your help LEN), and crossed fingers. It worked, but only intermittently. We called a repair person (at this point, we were 7+ weeks into no fridge in the kitchen), he pinpointed the problem immediately, ordered a part, installed it TWO WEEKS later, and we are good to go. Total time to resolve (TTTR): 48 days. That’s slightly longer than the gestation period of a kangaroo. Cost: $60 (to + $170 to “real” repairman (sorry LEN!)

The Light Fixture

Yesterday, a ceiling light fixture just up and fell off. Crash! Broken glass all over the place. It’s been there 8 years without a problem, then BOOM! We have some guys working in the basement right now, and so it’s possible that all the vibrating and pounding caused something to jiggle loose. Still haven’t replaced it, because really, I need something like this to linger for a few months first, but hopefully eventually I’ll be able to just replace the glass part, and not the whole thing. TTTR: 24 hours and counting. Anybody wanna place bets on this one? Cost: cheap, real cheap, I hope. Keep your fingers crossed.

The Car Window

Ordinarily, I would have ignored something like this, but our son just turned 16 and that means driving (I’m actually gagging right now). The car needs to be in top shape mechanically. So the other day when I couldn’t get the back passenger window to open, I ignored it at first. Then a few days later I came out to the car, and the window was open. I tried the auto switch thingy, and it wouldn’t work. So I found I could force it up by sandwiching the glass between my palms and pushing up. Two more go-rounds with the window being down of its own volition, I realized it needed professional help. I made an appointment, took it into the dealer, and was notified that we’d missed recall notices on FOUR different things! So in addition to the window getting fixed, they fixed a whole bunch of other stuff that hasn’t gone wrong yet, but may break down in the future. Possibly when my baby is on the road by himself. And I am sitting on the front stoop chewing off all my fingernails with worry. That will never do! But it’s all better now! TTTR: ~2 weeks. Cost: $163 (window only).

The Perfect Storm

You know that book/movie “The Perfect Storm?” Three major storms all come together and make this one massive mess (sadly causing the loss of 7 experienced seamen). Well we had three chaotic incidents occur all on the same day recently, a "perfect storm" of Stuff Breaking Down. And ok, two of them were technically my fault. But, but… well don’t make me feel any worse about it than I already do, ok?

The Phone:

DB put a pair of cargo shorts in the laundry. I checked the pockets and threw them in the next load. I did not, unfortunately, check the “cargo” pocket, which contained his cell phone. Which apparently is not water proof. I really think he wanted to be super pissed at me, but he did throw them in the laundry, and I did check the OTHER pockets, so technically we share the blame on that. Always thinking on my feet, I quickly remembered that we had a decommissioned spare cell phone (same service provider) that could simply be configured with his number. TTTR: about an hour on the line with customer service. Cost: FREE!

The Tractor:

I do love me a John Deere tractor – and a man on that tractor wearing a sweaty Hawkeye t-shirt, umm-hmmm! He's all mine girls! This spring was time for a tune up and blade sharpening, to the tune of about $500. We got it home and went on our merry way with lawn care, but something always felt a little “off.” After a day of working hard on our basement remodel project – oh and rescuing a cell phone from the laundry - DB went out to mow the lawn. I could hear the tractor from inside, and it really sounded terrible, so I stopped what I was doing and went outside to investigate. About that time, DB also decided it was time to stop and take a look inside the hood. We couldn’t find an exact problem, but it did appear that the engine was only connected by one bolt, so it was rattling around a lot, which caused the horrid noise. Since we’d just been in for repairs, DB assumed they forgot to replace some of the bolts. And boy was he pissed! So pissed at the John Deere guys that he got over being pissed at me for the phone thing. Whew, what a relief. The next morning, he called and made it quite clear that We. Were. Not. Happy. Service Manager said to bring it in (meaning hitch the trailer up, load the tractor on the trailer and drive 15 miles on the highway) and they’d look at it. DB got to the dealership, took one look at the dude behind the service counter, and said “Oh Shit.” The dude was like 6’5”, 320, covered in tattoos, with a face that said “Do not cross me.” DB was all ready to open up a can of you-know-what, but quickly kowtowed to Mr. Tattoo. Turns out they discovered it was supposedly something unrelated to their prior work (whatEVER!) and although it would have been regular price to repair, they split the labor cost in half. TTTR: about 7 days? (thanks neighbors for letting us use your mower in the interim). Cost: $170 (plus the previous $500, but let’s just not think about that for now).

The Laundry Sink:

There’s probably some joke in here about everything but the kitchen sink, but please, I’m still not ready to laugh about this one. You see, what I was doing while DB was mowing was cleaning paint brushes. We’d been down in the basement all day applying Drylock to the areas of the basement we’re finishing. I was in the utility sink in our laundry room washing the Drylock/paint out the rollers and brushes. I could hear this horrendous noise (it gets worse and worse as I write this post!), and I dropped what I was doing to rush out and check it out. One thing lead to another and I ended up out there for quite a while. When I came back in, I realized I'd left the water running, and the sink had overflowed, flooding the laundry room, mudroom, and kitchen dining area (wood floor). While I could sop up the water on the floor, my biggest fear was yet to be realized – I knew it was leaking into the basement. I got the first floor under control, went down the stairs and just wanted to throw up. Now, the good news is that the area getting wet was NOT the area we’d just Drylock’d. The bad news is that all the stuff we’d moved out of the to-be-Drylock’d area was located directly under the laundry room. My mess from upstairs was pouring into all the boxes and other crap we’d just placed there earlier in the day. Grrr. No stranger to cleaning up water spills (yes, we’ve done this exact same thing before) I quickly employed the shop vac and another water vacuum. Amazingly, the water sucked up pretty well, and there was no lasting damage. And it didn’t creep over to our newly Drylock’d area. And DB was somewhat understanding, frankly even sweet to me. I mean seriously, shit happens right? And he could tell how truly awful I felt about it. TTTR: hmmm, about two hours of frantic, emergency racing around, emptying full tanks, wringing out towels, sopping up water, flying up and down stairs. Cost: free, sort of. We may eventually replace some insulation that got wet (for the second time), but we’re good for now.

The Doorjamb / The Ceiling in the Parlor

These technically are still not resolved, but we’re much closer to fixing than we were on June 1, so I’m counting incremental progress. 1) We had some wood rot near the base of our front door – thankfully not termites, just rot. DB has the replacement piece, has cut it to size, has it painted to match the house, and just needs to nail it in. 2) A leaking pipe in the kids’ bathroom meant a plumber cut a 18”x18” hole in the ceiling in our parlor. Real nice. We need to replace the drywall, tape and paint that area. This has been and may continue to be a “someday we’ll get around to that” problem, but at lease we now have some drywall, that muddy stuff they stick around drywall and the ceiling paint. Woo hoo. Total time from discovery to resolution: embarrassing – these problems have both existed for at least 4 years, ouch. Cost: not resolved yet. Please cross your fingers for me. Or send a Home Depot gift card. Or a home handyman, for about 1 week. Preferably without a shirt on. Oh wait, did I say that out loud?


So folks, how does the Light Bulb Effect affect you? Got a dryer you can only turn on with a pair of pliers? A door you just can’t open so you go in through the garage instead? Leaking faucet, rusting tools? What’s your home maintenance/repair nemesis? Let’s sit down with a Coors Light and talk it out. I’ll get you through it. I’ve been there my friend.


"I was doing some decorating, so I got out my step-ladder. I just don’t get on with my real ladder." - Harry Hill



Monday, July 21, 2008

I'm a runner, I think.

I am training for a half-marathon in October. Whew. There. I said it out loud. I guess that makes it real now. And when I say “training” it’s important to define what I mean: I subscribed to “Runners World,” I have running clothes with me in the car at all times, I shelled out for a sweet pair of Sauconys, and my iPod is full of running mixes (I know, real runners don’t do iPods, but I like it). I ran a lot over the winter and early spring, doing the requisite Turkey Trot and Santa’s Run, then right when the weather got good and it was gorgeous to run outside, I developed a pain in my hip. I tried stretching more, running less, icing it more, applying heat, running through the pain, and nothing really changed (at least it didn’t get worse!).

So I finally went to the orthopedist and learned I had bursitis in my hip. Of course! I had that same problem about 7 years ago when I went all gung ho on golf. With a sudden increase in twisting and bending of certain joints, the “bursae” became irritated and enflamed. I’m not medical expert, but briefly, bursae little fluid filled sacs, akin to bubble wrap, serving to reduce friction between moving parts of the body (knee, elbow, hip, etc.).

Seven years ago, I fell in mad, serious love with a little magic pill (no not that one!) called Vioxx, which made all bad turn good. Then we learned that Vioxx itself was bad, not good (dang the FDA!), so I can’t “fix” the bursitis with it this year. Instead, I’m using an old-school drug – read “now-available-in-generic-so-the-pharma-companies-don’t-market-it” – called Diclofenac to heal this inflammation. It’s working, and the pain is nearly gone.

I’m testing out my stamina with a three-week race series on July 19, 26 and August 2. Hopefully the hip’ll hold up and my big bum will cross the finish line each time. A little nervous for the August 2 run, as it’s a 10k, my longest ever. But a half-marathon is more than double that 10k distance, so I guess it’s time to put up or shut up.

But why? Why did I start running? Why do I think I can do this? I’m the girl who doesn’t like to sweat. I’ve never really worked out in my life. In spite of an “athletic frame” (so they say), I’ve never meaningfully participated in any kind of organized sport in my life. So why me, why now?

My friend is on staff with a non-profit marathon organization. She needed volunteers to help at a Spring ’06 duathlon. For one morning, I could get up early and help out a little bit, right? So I stood there selling t-shirts and guarding the awards table (quietly grumbling to self that I should still be in bed!), and just became enamored with everything going on – the free massages, volunteers giving out bananas and bagels, the race coordinators on their walkie-talkies dealing with cars on our blocked-off streets, and later a rider who wiped out bad (she was okay). I had a bird’s-eye view of runners coming in, grabbing their bikes, and coming back in – it seemed – only minutes later to cross the finish line. First were the “real athletes,” rock hard bodies barely breaking a sweat, who seemed to all know or at least know of each other, in teams and pairs and singles, high-fiving and fist pumping, celebrating their achievement. Later, some dads and a few moms I know from the soccer field and around town, crossing that line, also with ease, and a look of accomplishment on their faces. There was a father-daughter pair, one waiting for the other so they could cross together, holding hands. There was the injured biker, limping across finally, with help from her husband, and collapsing in his arms at the end, with tears of relief and victory, probably some real pain too.

Everyone was so alive and there was a real sense of community, and goodness, and people who just belonged there. And they were a bunch of healthy folks let me tell ya. All this before 10:30 in the morning.

Now about this time in my life, I was in a crazy-intense job, getting out of bed every morning after a sleepless night to trudge to the office, partying too much on the weekends to ignore the details of the past week and the responsibilities of the coming week. The only thing that got me out of bed before 9am on a Saturday was an early soccer or football game – and even then, it was unshowered-wrapped-in-a-blanket-Diet-Coke-in-hand. I suffered from high blood pressure, gained about 50 pounds over an 8 year stretch (ouch, that hurts to even admit in writing!), and although outwardly I projected a happy smile all the time, on the inside I was in a dark place.

That spring morning was a real eye opener for me, but I still wasn’t thinking that someone like me would actually participate in a race. In the fall, I again volunteered for a marathon, and that was even cooler than the spring experience. I must’ve stood on that finish line cheering for three hours straight. The palms of my hands were even bruised from clapping so much. And this marathon is known for its celebration – tons of vendors, kids’ activities, huge organic smorgasbord for the runners, excellent (and well run) beer tent for grown ups, and plenty of port-a-potties. And again, I felt a real excitement for the running community, they just looked so dang cool, but never thought of myself as a runner – thinking “that’s for other people that I will support and encourage and have fun with, but that’s about it.”

Fast forward, I left my job for something much better suited to me, got my blood pressure somewhat under control with medication, and focused on my family and my life, and became a much more calm and loving person, still not working out at all, and still overweight, but mentally heading in the right direction. We went away to Cape Cod in July 07, and I had a conversation with a 69 year old man, the father of some friends. That morning he won first place in a 4.12 mile with a time of 33 minutes, and was proudly wearing his medal. I thought it was cute in a cute-for-an-old-guy kind of way, and frankly a little bit silly that he was wearing the medal, but after talking with him for a while, I realized that it really was a big accomplishment and he had something to be proud of (side note: I only WISH I had a medal right now!). He off-handedly said “you should run – I bet you’d like it” as we ended our conversation. Just two weeks later, he suffered a heart attack while out on a run, and died. No prior problems, no family history. It just happened.

It was shocking and so sad – too young!! And his words haunted me… “I bet you’d like it!” I found the next available race, an August 5k, and signed up, husband and kids too. We ran in honor of Mr. Hughes, and I ran to meet his challenge – “you should run.”

I didn’t train at all, and was nervous and scared as the big day approached. Hubby and kids took off immediately, and I stayed in the back of the pack the whole way. Coming into the home stretch, I was really doubting my sanity, man, and when I saw a shortcut off the race route that would take me back to the starting area, I almost took it. But there were three of us ladies passing each other back and forth in that last mile, and I just couldn’t chicken out if they were staying in it. Well folks, I MADE IT, choking back proud tears that last quarter mile. HOLEEE CRAP! I made it! My time was 44:+, but I did it.

That’s it; I was bit by the bug. I did an October 5k, and the previously mentioned Turkey Trot and Santa’s Run, this time with training. In fact, I started running in earnest following that August 5k, and haven’t really stopped, current injury notwithstanding.

By the way, my time in the 5k this past Saturday, the first in the 3 race series, was 33:20. More than 10 minutes better than the first race 11 months ago. I may not be taking the racing world by storm, but I’m loving my new-found health and sense of personal accomplishment.

See you on the starting line!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Birthday today to my boy, NKB. He’s 16 today! And not really “my boy” any longer, as he TOWERS over me at 6’3” and growing. He’ll be legally behind the wheel soon, and I think I’m ready for it. We have to attend a 2 hour parent “driver’s ed” class, and learn the latest restrictions imposed on teen drivers by the Connecticut legislature. There sure seems to be no need for parental involvement with teaching a kid rules of the road – the folks in the Statehouse have it all figured out for us.

NKB is what I like to call a “solid citizen” – just a good person to have around. Except for those early school years where we were concerned about ahem active behavior (he really didn’t dig sitting in a circle with other kids during story time – would rather be up and moving around!), he excels in school, hangs around with a good crew, and is very sweet and loving to his family, especially his little sister (hmph!).

I woke up at 1:48 am today, to briefly reflect on his arrival 16 years ago, smiled at the sweet memories, then promptly drifted back to Never-Never-Land. Today has been fun recalling memories of birthdays past – his 4th birthday, where we had a 4 week old baby, a 4 week old puppy, and 8 pre-schoolers with Kool-Aid in our basement, crazy! His 9th birthday, where we invited his entire 2nd grade class – some of the moms are still scandalized that I allowed him to have the “first” boy/girl party in their grade… puh-leaze! His 7th grade birthday, where it really was a boy/girl party… and the girls wore make up, mini-skirts and perfume, and the boys? The boys pretty much ignored them.

Sixteen is a cool age – the first age where you’re legally “old enough” for stuff – old enough to drive a golf cart, old enough to work, old enough to sit in the exit row on an airplane. Do you suppose he’s old enough now to choose whether or not to make his bed each morning? I don’t think we’ll ever win that one.

Happy Birthday Nino. I love you!


My friends Kip and Jess are organizing the B.A.A.C. Motorcycle Rodeo on July 12. I encourage anyone who’s in the area to stop by, have some fun and support a great cause. Bikers Against Animal Cruelty (BAAC) is a group of compassionate motorcyclists who work with many different rescue organizations to improve the lives of abused, neglected and abandoned animals. They provide material and financial support, public awareness and education.

The bike rally sounds like a total blast. At the Glastonbury Elks Club, 98 Woodland Street, July 12, 1pm-6pm. Your $20 admission gets you in to participate in all the rodeo events, free keg beer and dog agility course. I’m not a biker gal and have never been to a bike rodeo, but Kip tells me that I should do the “Weenie Bite Contest.” Not quite sure what all that entails, but will keep you posted.

The guys from Rescue Ink are coming up from NYC, and we’ll also see the Terry Rand Band and Violent Rein. With dozens of vendors participating, you can get your pet’s name tatoo’d on your butt, purchase some hot chaps and see some really sweet bikes.

I don’t know who is picking up all the dog poop, but pets are totally welcome, and there will be plenty of water stations available for our four-legged friends, courtesy of Purina ProPlan Rally to Rescue. Shelter items will be collected as well.

For more info, check out the B.A.A.C. website:


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”

Mahatma Gandhi


Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Old Home Week(end)

Last weekend, I went to Des Moines to visit my mom and to attend my 20th high school reunion. With plane tickets almost as expensive as a year of college, DB stayed home and I attended solo, although my date for the Friday night soiree was my high school buddy, M2, Esq., with whom I’d totally lost touch over the years. We picked right back up where we left off and all was right with the world.

With just a few exceptions, most of the conversations went like this:

Other Person: “So, where are you living now?”

Me: Connecticut. How about you, still in Des Moines?”

Other Person: “Yep.”


Me: “So, are you married? how many kids do you have?”

Other Person: “Three kids, 9, 7 and 4. You?”

Me: “Two. 16 and 12.”


Other Person: “Wow, it sure is strange seeing everyone again.”

Me: “Yep, it sure is. Well I’m gonna go get a beer. See you soon.”

And you know what? That was just fine. It was good to catch up on the essentials of my former classmates’ lives, without getting too personal. Where the interest was mutual, we did go deeper and share more details, more stories. I only got pulled into one Jerry-Springer-esque moment, making me ever thankful for my dear DB who loves me and cherishes me, and who is a great dad to our perfectly-well-adjusted normal children.


Speaking of my brilliant offspring, they are away at camp right now. A month-long all-round good ol’ fashioned American camp – the same camp DB and his sister attended as kids. In fact, let me give a little shout out to the good folks at Camp Lincoln and Camp Lake Hubert, who are providing my kids with more fun than I could ever hope to these long summer days. Founded in 1909, plans are underway for a 100th anniversary celebration next summer, and we’re sure to be involved in some way.

I’ve only visited the camp twice, for an hour each time, but Camp holds a very special place in our family’s heart. DB met Murray at Camp, lo these many years ago, and now Murray and wife Chelle are godparents to our girl. We have a lovely “Camp Lincoln” sign on the wall in our office, and more pictures of DB on horseback there than I can count. I just ran across a scrapbook of DB’s camp awards, and smiled recognizing some of those same patches on our kids’ bulletin boards – Bowman 1st Class, Archer, Yeoman, Crewman and more. In fact, on my first visit, I got to see where DB carved his name onto the barn wall: Stable Hand In Training. I’ll let you figure out that acronym.

Camp provides an opportunity for our kids to slow down and simply be kids – no text messaging, no boyfriend/girlfriend drama, no Facebook, they don’t even have television! Most importantly, the kids get a taste of pure, deep, and true friendship. The intensity of these friendships, insulated by time and place and circumstance, is unique to camp. This is where they learn to give and receive the pure sweet love of friendship. Maybe these relationships will endure for the next 20 years, or perhaps will end with the bus ride home. Either way, I’m glad they have this experience now.


My sister Mary Pat was a camp counselor for many years, and is now head counselor at her home – directing her own children’s summer experience. That includes a trip for all three of them to visit their favorite aunt/sister in a few weeks! We will have so much fun! I am organizing a trip to New York City, and my plan is to get advance tickets to be able to go into the Statue of Liberty pedestal and observation deck. Although I’ve been to the City and Status of Liberty numerous times with my kids, actually going inside is a first, and completely new to my niece and nephew.


Speaking of Mary Pat’s camp experience, and in keeping with my Old Home Week theme, here’s a reprint from Mom’s archives: (p.s. once I figure out how to post a .pdf on this blog, you’ll get the original. For now, a cut and paste job)

From the Round Oak Table, July 8, 1982

As we watched the Adventureland fireworks display this past weekend I wondered why we had driven seven miles to view a commercial sky show when the heavens were showing off an even more spectacular event. The moon was almost full, ..could even pick out the man in the moon...and the stars were blinking and twinkling in their constellations. Nature's weekend sky show was capped off with a rare display—the longest total lunar eclipse since 1859. It lasted one hour and 46 minutes. The next time an eclipse of the moon, of this duration, will occur is July 2000 according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. That last bit of information is for those of us who like to plan ahead. (Incidentally, cloudy skies obscured the event for central lowans.)


We have our own version of Marmaduke living in for a few days, while its owner is on vacation. Guido is a playful puppy who doesn't like the restraints of a rope. We have put him on hold in several spots in the yard and the thing he does best is get the rope wound around the apple trees, laundry pole, picnic table, and lawn chairs. Have you ever gotten up at 1:30 a.m. to untangle a dog? Over the weekend he discovered JPK's flower beds. And like a child doing naughty things for attention, he constantly wallowed in the beds even though he got a swat on the haunches each time he did it. This heat is a little hard on dogs since they don't seem to have sweat glands so we've tried to keep a bowl of water available. Guido doesn't seem to realize that the water will cool him. He dumps the bowl at every opportunity. Like Marmaduke, Guido wants to be around and on people. Just one night, when it was thundering and lightning, we invited him in the house to sleep. Do you know that a king size bed is only big enough for one, very large puppy? And his lunges of excitement when we play with him, call for us to be anchored in cement so we won't be toppled. Somehow in spite of his antics, Guido has convinced JPK it would be fun to have a dog around full time.


Katie won the wager on the number of names the new Prince of England would have. I thought at least 10, but she got it on the money with 4. Too bad the little babe will never know what it's like to be just plain Bill


Mary Pat reports that she is enjoying her counselor duties in New York. Her title is Pioneer Specialist and this means she helps plan and supervise overnight hikes, lives in a teepee with several campers, prepares two meals a day over a campfire and assists with teaching the young girls about the nature surrounding them. All this for a young woman who squeals at the sight of a garter snake, whose food specialty is Campbell's Tomato Soup and who's enjoyed the comforts of sleeping inside for 20 years. She writes that most of the campers are from New York City and have sever realized more than yard of concrete, homing projects and the ways of the street.


JPK and I were delighted to find supper ready when we came home from work one night last week. On her way out the door, Liz said, “Oh, I fixed chili. It’s in the crock pot. I don’t know why it’s so thin, but it sure tastes good." JPK investigated and couldn't find any beans in the mixture, so he added a couple of cans to get the right thickness. The next day Liz said to us, "Well, how did you like the spaghetti last night?" "Spaghetti! But you told us it was supposed to be chili and so we added beans." We haven't tried the leftover mixture over pasta, but as chili it tasted pretty good.


Wrinkles should merely show where the smiles have been.



Let freedom ring!