Tuesday, July 18, 2017

They Call It Elk River, Elk River, Elk River, Elk...

For the past three years, Beatrix and I have attending "Horsing Around with Mom" at Girl Scouts Camp Elk River. "Horse camp" might be too strong a term for what is basically for one long weekend day (plus the night before and breakfast after) in which you have one hour of riding and one of grooming. But it's been a fun tradition at a time when I am all too aware that soon she likely won't want to go away to camp with me.

The first year we were together with the majority of Beatrix's Girl Scout troop in pretty luxe air-conditioned but larger dorms. It rained on campfire night so we had it inside; it was the end of summer so everyone was in a groove. Last year, a group of 8 of us (4 girls 4 moms) had our own private cabin about a 15-minute walk from the rest of the camp, near the horses. This year, we had even more rustic screen cabins and were 2 pairs to a cabin.

There's a lot to do besides horses — low ropes, swimming, canoeing (which we did not get to this year), tie-dying, s'mores, skits, archery, crafts, geocaching, and just watching nature. This year, we even got to release a monarch that Beatrix and I were given at the end of its caterpillar stage and that had hatched that day.

Through all of it there are the usual crazy "do as I do" songs, goofy jokes and skits, adorable counselors form all over the world, family style meals, and general "campy" atmosphere. It's at the same time cheesy and utterly adorable, and as much as a PITA as it can be, I'm still incredibly lucky to be able to share this with my kid.

Monday, July 10, 2017

DC Circus List Post

Circus things we did this week:
-  Rigged and saw ALL Wonderland performances (blown away)
-  Saw the amazing Circus Juventus kids in various aerial and wall tramp and juggling demos, plus at the Circus School
-  Saw a portion of one cool East Indian dance performance
-  Ate several gelatos
-  Watched some flying trapeze demos (but no wire, sadly enough)
-  Saw THREE Bindlestiff Family Cirkus performances, each different than the last (love them!)
-  Indulged in some of the special, addictive circus lemonade
-  Shopped the Marketplace
-  Saw Universal Circus
-  Saw the sailor Family Circus
-  Popped into a discussion  about "Why are Clowns Scarey?"
-  People-watched on the Mall
-  Talked to TONS of people about why Circus Juventus is so amazing

Non- Circus things we did this week:
-  Shopped and ate in Alexandria (mmm, crepes at La Fontaine!)
-  Lovely dinners with Molly and Bernard and family
-  Alexandria ghost tour
-  Cancelled fireworks at the Air Force Memorial with Mark and Jenn and Ian (but still fun!)
-  Dinner at Busboys and Poets
-  Jaleo with Scott and Lia
-  National Gardens with Katherine and David, plus lunch at the Native American Museum
-  Holocaust Museum (from circus to Holocaust...)
-  Capitol tour with circus kids!
-  Supreme Court
-  Lovely dinner at Sue and Steve's
-  Fantastic gelato and hanging out with Catherine and family
-  Mount Vernon
-  Museum of Natural History
-  National Sculpture Garden
-  Newly opened Arts and Industries Building and Castle
-  Creampuffs and walking around Georgetown
-  H Street Corridor and Capitol Hill
-  Birch and Barley for dinner
-  Kremer Books and Afterwords
-  Lincoln Memorial
-  Memorial nighttime (driving) tour
-  Amphora for dessert

Sunday, July 9, 2017

DC Dreaming

With the exception of the cities that I have lived in, Washington DC is the place I have visited most often. I first came her in elementary school (can't remember if a convention with my dad or the 6th grade Spring Trip was the first time), and my graduate school education was in nearby Towson since then I must have been a dozen times. I have close friends here from elementary school, high school, college, and graduate school. Both of my college room-mates live here (in fact, I am typing this from one of their couches). I've attended conferences here, I've celebrated here, nursed a broken heart here, explored here, and now been part of an enormous circus festival here.

I know the city well. I've spent hours on my own exploring. I've enjoyed the food, the museums, the bookstores, the architecture. I've spent hours taking with friends here — and this trip has been no exception.

What has been different this time is sharing it with a fantastic, curious 9-year old (as well as my amazing husband of course). Seeing things through her eyes, enjoying lemonade and creampuffs, taking in a ghost tour, touring the Capitol, eating at Busboys and Poets, watching fireworks, discovering the magic of the Smithsonian — that has all been great (plus exploring some new parts; the Arts and Industries Building and the Castle are open for the first time in my life).

And seeing it all through a circus lens has been amazing. More on that later, but I can't imagine a more wonderful celebration of the circus arts.

Tonight I was discussing with friends what a hard place DC can be to live in, and I can see that. But I have to admit, it's a pretty magical place to visit.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Womanly Arts

I don't know how I have become so interested in the "womanly arts" in the past few years, but it seems to be something that has affected a number of women I know.

Our service berry (Saskatoon berry) tree at Summit is in full berry mode right now, and I wanted to get as many of them picked as possible (especially since we have to cut off one branch soon).

After that, I baked a cake with them and it turned out wonderfully. Score one for baking prowess!

Then, the other night, I hosted a group of women at Summit, while my friend Anna taught us how to cross stitch! She set us each up with starter kit with a profane word or saying:

I went relatively innocuously, as opposed to "Fuck You Very Much," though that might be what I am thinking lately. It was a great night, with a dozen ladies gathering together to stick and enjoy each others company. I'm hoping for a similar event soon!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Our Online Personas

I'm not exactly an early adopter, but internet groups have been an important part of my life. In the days before Facebook and Twitter (remember those), I belonged to some online womens boards who were very important to me, and have led me to some of my closest friendships. Other friends came from the early days of Twitter, when it was a lot more about genuine conversation than a plethora of retweets.

As Facebook ascended, it became a vehicle I used more, and I've been part of some groups there that have been very important to me as well. Two of the most crucial ones to me have suffered some huge blows over the last month, blows that have really cut them off at the knees, and both have responded in very different ways.

In one case, the group literally lost all records of membership and is slowly rebuilding from the ground up. There's a lot of trauma in that, and in learning to share again. The mods are doing an incredible amount of heavy lifting in the rebuild. I have hope that it will have rewards, and an IRL gathering of those folks yesterday was a step in that.

In the other case, there was a controversial decision about the kinds of things that could be posted; without going into too much detail, it's an ongoing discussion about what is personal (allowed) vs. what is political (not allowed). This led to a mass exodus form that board, and an influx to another similar board. Though there were a lot of emotions flying, there was good that came out of it as well, and a lot of new energy in both cases.

The online personas that we manage are incredibly complex extensions of ourselves that we carefully create, personalities that in some ways exist outside of our own reality. In our personal profiles, we are prone to putting our best selves forward — our successes and triumphs, without necessarily sharing our failures and challenges. In online interactions, I think we  (myself included) have a tendency to hide behind our screens, to say things that we would never say to someone face to face — and then often to place blame as "Its hard to read tone in something written on the internet."

All of this is too new to make a lot of proclamations about. Who knows how long  a shelf life Facebook will have, or what the next things will be. But these recent implosions have reminded me that the most important things I can remember to say are "I'm sorry" and "I'm listening," both in real life and on the internets.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

(Eating) on the Road Again

To be fair, I owned a version of Road Food by Jane and Michael SternI think the first or second edition, many years ago. It's one of the things I lost in my divorce (along with my copy of the Handmaid's Tale, my Wellstone t-shirt, and the Dancing Rabbit Blow Horn Christmas ornament) that I have missed every time we go on a road trip. And we go on a lot of road trips.

So I was really excited to pick up the 10th edition of the book and to realize that, like the Sterns and maybe even myself, it's only gotten better over the years. It's organized by region and state, with nice maps at the beginning of each sections. Now that I no longer have AAA Trip-Tiks to read as we drive along, instead I can plan our lunch stop and avoid the plethora of truly bad roadside options available. This book means you will never have to stop at a Cracker Barrel for lunch again in your life, and for that alone it's worth the price.

I like the Stern's practicality. I've been to many of the restaurants they pick, and they are good, solid choices. Not super trendy "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives" material, but good food, served well, and with character. The descriptions in the book give a nice micro-summary, so you know what you are in for before you get there.

Even our room-mate, who disdains foodie-ism, thinks this is one food book he could really get into and use.

Highly recommended.

Confidential to Elaine and Jennifer — I now have a Clam Shack craving something bad!

(as usual, book provided free from Blogging for Books in exchange for an unbiased review)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Summit Spaces

One of my favorite parts of the Summit house is that there are lot of outdoor places to hang out in (and a lot of people hang out in them!). Last weekend, we started to give these spaces a facelift, but I was determined to do it on the cheap.

I started with the back deck, which was looking pretty worn:

I washed it down with some deck wash I had picked up free at HHW, which took some jimmying because our sprayer was broken. I then stained it with some stain I had also gotten free at HHW (and the other gallon I got there went to someone who needed some to stain her Little Free Library.)

The teak table and chairs were pretty gray, so I stripped and refinished those with a 3-step teak refinisher (that I had gotten free off the BST board):

I thought the deck needed some color, so I picked up a cheap outdoor rug on clearance at Amazon. And Patrick washed the gazebo roof and we moved it back onto the deck to provide sun coverage and rain protection.

Doesn't it look great? Now I just need to find a spitting gargoyle fountain or something for the water feature.


As usual, I did not remember to take a before picture of the front porch, but I got that cleaned up as well. I did not spend a lot of time with that, since we still need to rebuild the porch this summer:

What I really want to do all summer is just sit around and read (ok, maybe with cocktails). All this project work is taking up valuable reading time, but does give me some good places to curl up with a  book!