Sunday, May 31, 2009

Just Catching Up...

I've got some pictures to share, so I just thought I'd do a quick post. Last weekend was a quiet Memorial Day weekend here in Indy. It rained a lot of places, but not so much at my house. Just cloudy for the most part. I did get out to do some yard work, and there is still some left to do. But, I also had a nice surprise. When I went out to work in the flower beds at the front of the house, the perennials that I had planted last year....were actually growing! They looked great for flowers that I hadn't even realized were back. So, the pinky, purpley salvia and the dianthus were planted last year. The petunias are new this year. I also planted some other sunflowery looking plants to take the place of the more fragile perennials that didn't make if from last year.

I had a somewhat busy week at work. Why does it always seem like 4 day weeks are so long? I was very happy when Friday came and I could go home to my doggies. Saturday was pretty busy all day, and I picked up Trevor after his ball game. We went to see UP, the new Pixar movie. What a sweet story. But, the main reason that Trevor was coming over was that we were taking Tiger to the Dog Day Festival on Sunday. Tiger (with Trevor's help) came in 3rd place in the Ice Cream eating contest. Check out the picture of him sporting his bronze medal.

And the last thing....My friend Marianne always posts pictures of the food she makes, so I thought I'd share one with her. On vacation, I learned how to make spinach. I've never really cooked spinach much in my life, but I've made these little spinach, cheese, and tomato pita bread pizzas a few times now. They are pretty amazing.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Summer Nights...

I love the summer nights of daylight savings time. Actually, I'm not sure if it is the daylight savings time, or the fact that last year I invested in some deck furniture, but I love sitting on my deck in the evenings. I get a big glass of iced tea and the doggies and I head out. About 8:30 or so, the shade comes across my yard and the sky turns a beautiful light blue, the kind where it looks like the airplanes are scraping its surface. They are so far away, but I can still see them.

Sometimes I look at the stars, sometimes I count the airplanes, sometimes I just sit and enjoy the sounds of the neighborhood. Kids playing, birds singing, people talking and laughing in their backyards. It is going to be a great summer.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A Race Fan? Maybe....

Trevor and I went to the track yesterday, the third day of qualifications for the Indianapolis 500. Even though it rained for a bit and we had to wait through the long track drying process, we had a great day. A lot of cool things always happen with me and Trevor together, and yesterday was no different. Just by being in the right place at the right time, Trevor was given a souvenir that came off of Marco Andretti's car by one of the track fire/safety guys.

Earlier this week when I was talking about yesterday's trip, I said "I'm not a race fan either" or something to that effect. I'm sure the person thought that I was crazy or something. I mean, I do know about racing. I go to the track a couple of times a year, maybe 4 times a year if you count the Speedrome. I know driver's names and I do root for John Andretti, but that is mainly because he is about my age and from Brownsburg, and one of my sister-in-law's students from Ritter High School. And he is an underdog.

But, I don't consider myself a race fan. I am not really fanatic about much. If racing is on the TV at home, most likely Trevor is there. If I am at a race track, Trevor is with me. He likes it, and actually it is good for him to learn about racing. This weekend we talked about how special the Indianapolis 500 is compared to other races, the differences between open wheel cars and stock cars, differences in tires (rain tires vs. regular tires), differences in how the cars are built and how it impacts speed, and lap speed averages. All things very interesting to me and my favorite 8 year old, whether or not I'm a race fan.

I am a fan of the competition. I am a fan of Indianapolis and the extremely cool events we have here. I am a fan of Hoosier Hospitality. I am a fan of the underdog.

John Andretti qualified on Sunday, 10 minutes before the track closed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Pictures Are In

In a cabin, in the woods....

This was our little cabin in the woods. Very nice. Ratatouille lived there with us for the week. He liked Fig Newtons. Notice the fire on the grill, I was getting ready to cook up some dinner.

So, if you wanted a picture of me on vacation, this is it. This is pretty much what we got for our day at Shenandoah National Park. This is taken at the Big Meadows Visitor Center. We drove a little further north to the Skyland Visitor Center and had our lunch there, but the drive was not fun. This picture was taken around 11:00 in the morning. It really didn't get any better throughout the day.

This was about the best picture I got in the park. It was funny as we were leaving on Friday and the weather was finally clear, we looked out and said, "Hey, there are mountains over there". We hadn't been able to see them all week.

This is the Manor House at the Shenandoah Crossing Resort. You can rent it, or any number of cabins, hotel rooms, yurts, etc. at the resort. The Manor House has a private pool, and I had read on the Internet that it was haunted. So, one day while we were in the lodge, I asked our waitress about it. She said, "Well, yeah, I've heard about things that have happened, but I've never been in there myself." Hmmm.....

Shenandoah Crossing is in the middle of Virginia horse country. So, they have a huge stable and riding trails all around. This is just one of the pastures with the horses from the resort on our last day there. Notice the sun.

The Definition of a "Straight Up Peace Corps Quality Garden"

I'm home. We left Virginia on Friday morning after a nice breakfast at a local dive in Gordonsville. Friday, of course, turned out to be the sunny day of the week. All in all, it was a great week. Very relaxing. I'm thankful for the weather we had.

On Friday, we talked about what we'd be doing during the summer. Cindy would be at camp, I'd be working, and BJ would be gardening. As it turns out, the local residents in her area have been encouraged to plant gardens and donate what produce they don't personally use to local food banks and churches. Since she is in a rental home, BJ has started a garden with a friend at her home. This is no ordinary garden though. As BJ explained, "Y'all, I straight up dug a Peace Corps Quality garden", and she explained what that meant.

BJ and Cindy both were in the Peace Corps. Cindy was in Costa Rica in her 20s, and more recently in the Urkraine. BJ was in the Dominican Republic. I never was a Peace Corps volunteer, although I thought about it from time to time. I was just never that rustic. I mean, I worked at a camp. I can sleep outside. I can build fires with the best of them. But, whenever I did that, I always knew that a clean hotel room was no more than 12 days away.

So, BJ went on. I guess in your typical Peace Corps training, you have many training classes and workshops on gardening. BJ alleges that she was trained how to grow a garden in a shoe, but Cindy has no recollection of such a class. So, this Peace Corps quality garden is "triple-dug", where you remove 6 inches of soil and set it to the side, remove 6 more inches and set it to the other side, then you loosen the next six inches of dirt and mix in several inches of yard waste such as leaves, twigs, etc. Then you add back each layer of dirt so that you have a somewhat raised bed that is loose dirt 18 inches deep. I'm expecting some pictures of this garden at some point this summer.

So, on we drove north to New Jersey. And then today I got on a train to the airport, went through what seemed like an episode of the Amazing Race to catch an earlier flight home, picked up the doggies, and relaxed. I'm so glad to be home. But I need tomorrow to get back in the full swing of things.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

"We don't teach inner city kids to make knives out of rocks"

This week in Shenandoah has been rainy. And Foggy. And Wet. For those of you who wanted me to post a picture while I was away on vacation, I do have one of me in the Shenandoah National Park on Tuesday. Tuesday was supposed to be the "best" weather day. As it turn out, we've had a little sun today, but another thunderstorm is rolling in and we're just hanging out.

It has been a nice relaxing week. Playing cards with the "Axis of Evil" terrorist playing cards, watching Dirty Dancing, and generally belting out old tunes like "King of the Road". We have swam every day, which was on my list of things to do, cooked out in the rain, built a fire, and read. Not too many naps, but I seem pretty rested anyway.

And, we have laughed a lot. Today Cindy told a story about BJ, which is how I got the title to this post. A first experience at the Fresh Air Fund was an interesting one for BJ as the "Nature Lady". Although the campers enjoyed her classes, her lesson plans had to change quickly.

This is just a warning to all of you. Someone is going to have to look out for me as I get older or I may have to be institutionalized. If I am belting out a song from the 70's, making owl calls or other weird noises, and laughing at my own jokes....I am normal. Please don't let them put me away.

Cuyuga, Namolockem, and Cedar Rocks

For a few days now, the camp trivia quiz masters have been stumped on the question, "What were the campsteads of Overlook Village?" Well, none of us worked with the babies, so no one could remember. Last night we even tried to "phone a friend" and googled every name we could remember from camp. We finally reached the former camp director by email and got our answer (the title of this post) this morning.

We've also decided to research how many former counselors from Camp ABC decided not to have any of their own kids. Freaky coincidence or were those campers just some sort of permanent birth control?

Monday, May 4, 2009


I am on vacation, but unlike other times when I am away, I'm feeling a need to write. Not so much that I need to tell you anything, but so I don't forget the things that have already happened. I'm on a reunion vacation sort of. About 25 years ago, my friends Cindy, Ann Marie, and I started working for the Fresh Air Fund. And while I see Cindy every year, for some reason this year, probably because it is a milestone year, feels different. And being in a cabin in the middle of nowhere instead of say, the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, helps a little too.

I flew into New Jersey, and I hadn't been to New Jersey in 4 years. I almost forgot what it was like. Take that back, I did forget. As you fly into the Newark-Liberty Airport, you can see the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty in the distance. Looking out the window, I thought, there it is....crowded, busy, dirty...not so sure I want to go there.

Having just left the beautiful new Indianapolis Airport, I was surprised when I got off the plane, and it wasn't the same. Not that it wasn't the same as the Indianapolis Airport, but it wasn't what I had remembered either. I had remembered the EWR being similar to the new Indy airport, lots of windows, white floors, wide aisles. I must have been in a different terminal. I walked down the blue carpeted hallway where we pretty much had to walk single file. The other part of the hallway was taken over by security with cameras and scanners and people in sock feet. Downstairs to baggage claim, and then it all came back. I had been here before. It had changed a little, I think there are less Continental baggage carousels now, but that hint of urine smell in the air means it is definitely the Newark Airport.

My plane was wicked early (since I'm doing a flashback to my twenties, why not throw in a Boston word) and I called my friend Susan who was picking me up from the airport. They were still about 20 minutes or so away, but we worked out a meeting place at curbside, and I looked around a little. I looked at the airport seating and wondered when the last time it had been wiped off with a lysol wipe or anything like it, and decided standing was a better option. Maybe still wondering how I did this so much in my youth.

I remembered the episode where I was stuck at the New Jersey airport and a little terrified. Even then, I was the Lucky Girl, because somehow with $100 cash in my pocket and a call to my brother, I got out of a scary situation and back to Indianapolis. People's Express was the cheap airline of the 80's with a hub in Newark. I had heard they were going out of business and canceling flights left and right, but I still headed to the airport alone trying to get home. I was told my flight was canceled and that there were no other flights until the next day. The thought of having to spend the night at this airport was not good. I had no credit card, ATMs did not exist, it was me, all my bags from a summer at camp, and my $100, and that was it. My brother worked some sort of magic and got me on a flight through Dulles to Indy. I can imagine the conversation with the airline people that he had, but I am sure that the airline people wanted to get me out of Newark too. Terminal D was infamous. Poof, I am on my way out, and other people who were stuck were in disbelief.

I stepped outside to the curb. And then it hit me. That smell of exhaust in the air. Horns were honking, a taxi stand in front of me, people talking and yelling and schlepping bags everywhere. Ah, yes, I remember. I looked to the left and recognized the area where I used to catch the bus to the city from this airport. Oh yeah, I do remember. Yankee Stadium, Lincoln Center, St. Patrick's Cathedral, the Poet's walk in Central Park, the subway, Canal Jeans, Little Italy at Christmastime. All of that is worth a little crowd and some dirt. Maybe I do want to go back.