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!


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