Friday, June 22, 2012

Take me to the river...

Drop me in the water!

There's one place in this world where I feel completely in-tune with my surroundings. When I was a year old my parents bought an acre of land on the Clarion River in Pennsylvania. As teachers, they had their whole summers off and, while living in Brooklyn, New York, they decided to get out of the city on their vacation and enjoy some time on the river. What better place to purchase some land than near Cook Forest State Park and about 45 minutes away from my grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins.
Dad, Kodi, Mom, Me, Grandma
That first summer we camped for the WHOLE summer in a two-room tent. We had a water jug for brushing our teeth and a solar shower for rinsing off. Yes, in rain and in fair weather, my parents spent the entire summer "roughing" it with a one year old. They also had my grandparents' camper for their kitchen.
Dad, Mom, & Me on the bank

In time my dad decided to take on his first building project: the "barn." This barn never housed any typical farm animals, but that's what we've always called it. To hear him tell the story, he would read the first chapter of the book one night and then do that step the next day. That evening he would read up on the following day around the campfire and then continue on. This structure has a loft, where my parents used to stay, a bunk bed, for me and my brother, and no water, plumbing, etc. The camper was still used as the kitchen and the solar shower was the other source of cleansing.

The Barn as it looks today
Soon after my sister was born my dad built a cabin which we now call "The Pinery." The cabin does have running water and plumbing, but it has been a work-in-progress over the years. Each summer they would choose a new project: board and batten siding, playground, insulation, ceiling, pellet stove, murals in the bathrooms, screened-in back porch, an additional shed, and an earth oven.

Family Get-together
A few things still remain the same such as the fact that the only inside doors are to the bathrooms. The three kids' triple-decker bunk bed still stands in the "kids room" and my brother and sister still sleep in their beds when they visit.

Adding the board and batten
The barn turned into a storage barn for our gear, tools, and porch furniture once the cabin was built, but Jim transformed the top bunk into a "bachelor pad" the summer we got married. That's where we stay when we frequent the cabin.

Grandma and Pheebs
Throughout the years my parents moved to a few different states. We always joke that my dad only lives in a place for 5 years before he gets the itch to move again. So, they lived in Detroit for five years, Brooklyn for five years, Savannah, Georgia for five years, Philomont, Virginia for five years, and now they've lived in Paris, Virginia for going on fourteen years (I think)... he finally broke the stretch! Pretty impressive though, eh? But since we moved a fair amount, my siblings and I grew very fond of the one consistent place in our lives.

My parents' first "baby," their dog, Kodi, would desist from sleeping in the car, rise, and begin sniffing. He could smell the river from a mile or two away and when we got onto River Road my parents would open the door and let him run along the river bank and swim all of the way to our cabin. My siblings and I also grew very connected to the smells, sights, feels, tastes, and sounds. All of our senses are awakened with each visit and I think that's a pretty unique and neat experience. I'm not implying that we can smell the river from a mile or two away, but the smell of pine and the distinct river scent makes us feel at home.
Me & Willem

When I worked for Teton Science Schools in Wyoming that was one of the tennets of our/their educational goals: to connect the students/participants to the place through place-based education. With that connection will come care and stewardship for their local environment and community- I love it! I always felt a slight disconnect because I didn't get to travel back with the students to their home and work with them to assimilate all they had learned in WY into what they can do for their distint community. In Louisiana, Jim and I did get to do that with a group of three boys for a week and it was magical. They were so proud of their heritage and filled with a wealth of information about their ecologically and culturally rich surroundings and could not wait to share what they had learned with their friends. Whew... I digress!

This is a more recent picture of what it looks like during the winter months.
The Pinery has become a staple in our lives and we have many traditions. Whether it's kayaking, biking, canoeing, hiking, blueberry-picking, crafting, reading, visiting, or playing games, we always try to check everything off the list (no matter the length of the visit)!

So many memories have been made there, both good and bad. My sister fell and "lost" her tooth on the porch, we got countless bee stings and scrapes, my dad was rushed to the hospital with a blood clot in his lung, our neighbor flipped his tractor off of the bank and my dad was the first to find him, etc. But each of the three kids learned how to ride a bike on our sloping hill, we perfected our math skills through evening Yahtzee games, Mom and I took basket-making classes and made baskets on the porch, Willem went hunting for a tiger on his birthday, we played cowboys and indians with homemade bows and arrows, we climbed up into crevices in the pine trees to read, and we played king of the rock on "Dad's rock." Willem and I would be a team against Dad and Phoebe. Our tactic was to knock Phoebe off the rock and let her float down the river until Dad finally had to depart the rock and retrieve his teammate. So many more memories...
Grandma, Pheebs, & Me
There's something to having a place in your life that doesn't change. Jim and I chose to get married there almost three years ago and, fortunately, The Pinery means a lot to him, too. It's also a place where there's always something to do, which definitely keeps this active girl busy! But most importantly, it brings our immediate and extended family together, and for that I am grateful.
Dad- Grandpa was helping, but he's the one who snapped this picture!
Tomorrow Leif and I will begin the first leg of the journey up to The Pinery. Unfortunately, Jim won't be with us during the next week and a half but he does plan on getting up there for a few days later this summer. He's studying like crazy right now for the boards and won't have the two of us to distract him during his final push. 

I can't wait to play fetch in the river with Leif and visit with my family. This summer will be the least active amount of time I've EVER spent at The Pinery. Good thing I have a few good books to read :)

Yep, take me to the river... I'm ready!

I had a few pictures I still wanted to add, but I met my quota. Most of these pictures were taken by our family photographer, Grandpa (aka Waldo). Grandpa is an amazing scrapbooker and has every year documented from the birth of each of his children to each trip they ever took up until the present. Dad then scanned these pictures from the slides he created.  Sorry they are not in order, but they're still fun to see what it looks like over the years!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"How to be Perfect"

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect"

by Ron Padgett
Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.

Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don't stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don't
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm's length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don't want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don't expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want

Don't be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don't think that progress exists. It doesn't.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don't do
anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don't be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20
minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It's a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to
drink, say, "Water, please."

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there's shooting in the street, don't go near the window.

Excerpts from "How to be Perfect" by Ron Padgett, from How to be Perfect. © Coffee House Press, 2007

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tour de VA

This weekend was a whirlwind of visiting friends and family and I wouldn't have had it any other way!

Stop 1: Charlottesville, VA
I first stopped in Charlottesville to meet Edith, Lucy & Keith's baby, and spend some time with her parents, too. She's such a cutie! Unfortunately I forgot to take a picture, but here's one from another source:
Cramer Photo @
Stop 2:Richmond, VA
Then I headed to Richmond to visit Sean, Meredith & their dog, Bodee! Even though I've been to Richmond countless times, I had never been down to the river. We had a great afternoon watching Bodee play and chatting. Thanks for hosting me!

Stop 3:Richmond, VA
Saturday morning I got up early to meet Lindsay, my freshman year suite sweet-mate, for coffee. Then I went and saw her in her element at the gymnastic gym where she works. She's had a rough year, but she's been so strong! No picture :(

Stop 4:Lynchburg, VA
Next it was off to my freshman year roomie's wedding! Rachel married Tyler, her boyfriend since high school, in a beautiful outdoor wedding on a remote mountaintop. It was there that I caught-up with friends from my freshman year of college. She was breathtaking and so happy :)

Stop 5:Paris, VA
Around 11 PM I finally made it to my parents' home in Paris. My parents, siblings and a friend of my sister were there this weekend.

Stop 6:Washington, D.C.
Sunday morning we hopped in the car and headed into D.C. to see "The Music Man" at the Arena Theater. The theater was in-the-round and the show was brilliantly crafted and choreographed. It's a musical I know about as well as the back of my hand, but they still had me reeling with amazement. It was actually more fun to see a show that I know so well be done SO well. This was also Father's Day and so it was nice to spend the day with my dad!

Unfortunately, my brother and I went to see the show in the stead of my aunt and uncle. Uncle John was just diagnosed with Leukemia (AML) and he is beginning some intense chemo treatments in the Cleveland Clinic. The whole time we were traveling to and from the show we kept growing silent as we each thought about Uncle John and how he would have been there enjoying the barbershop quartet instead of us. 

Our hearts and minds are with him and Aunt Beth as they go through this intense month+. Uncle John is a hilarious, witty, and talented man who has worked incredibly hard throughout his life. He has always been someone who I've looked up to and I know he's going to put up a good fight! We love you.

Stop 7/Home:Blacksburg, VA
Home again, home again jiggity jig! I arrived home to a happy pup and Jim. Last night we went and saw The Avengers at The Lyric in Blacksburg. It's an old theater that plays movies later than regular theaters, but with a much lower cost. AND Monday nights you get free popcorn! Jim was in heaven watching some of his favorite characters in a well-done movie. I love hearing him laugh while watching movies :)

HAPPY (belated, but not really because I was there) FATHER'S DAY, DADDIO! 
I'm glad I got to be with you and your beautiful pup. Here's Dad with his new puppy, Ashby! She's such a sweetie.

Thus ends my Tour de VA! 
Thank you to my wonderful hosts, friends, and family for a last-minute visit! 
I sure enjoyed my time with each of you. 
That's what summers are for, eh? 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Faux Chenille Blanket

Ever since we learned of my injury I have had this strong desire to make a quilt. I decided that this summer was the time to do it and, now that the summer is here and already two weeks underway, I knew that I had to get it done SOON! I was yearning to make it and just could not settle myself completely until it was underway. You can ask Jim- I was antsy with anticipation!

Well, I did not end up making a quilt with batting and the whole nine yards because much earlier this year I saw a tutorial on one of my favorite blogs, MADE, and saved it for a time when I could reteach myself how to use the sewing machine. The tutorial showed how to make a "Faux Chenille Blanket" and I simply fell in love.

Dana Willard, the author of this blog, writes directions that are so explicit that even this sewing novice feels comfortable attempting to gather the resources and set about creating! She has many incredible tutorials and her three children are super cute models. Her blog is also where I found the Chevron baby blanket I made earlier this year.

Anyway, on Sunday I went to Joann Fabrics and chose my fabrics. I'm crazy about batik and so I went with that for the back fabric and then pulled the other three colors out of the pattern.
Then I set up my grandpa's drawing table for the project ahead and I sewed line after line after...uh.... line....
If you look very closely, you can see the twist-tie I rigged to help me sew my lines 1/2 inch apart. That was a project-saver!
 Listening to some good music helped the somewhat tedious steps go by :)
And then I snipped and snipped...
 Leif was a great project buddy. He barely left my side and NEVER got in the way.
 After cutting the corners into rounded edges, I added the satin border.
 This is what it looked like before heading into the washing machine:
And this is what it looked like when it came out of the dryer! They say that the frayed edges just get better and better with each washing.
 Next time I will try to make my lines closer together- you live and learn!
 It's about 45" x 45"- a fairly good size.
 I couldn't walk back inside without snapping a shot of this beautiful lily!
We hadn't planned on putting this blanket on the couch, but we both think it brightens up the room. Little did I know that the pillows I sewed last summer would actually match this blanket. Let's just pretend I had that in the plan all along, shall we? I'd prefer that over the fact that I am stuck in an interior design rut :)
What a fun project this was! It definitely satisfied my desperately yearning crafty side (for now!). Perhaps next time I won't have to teach myself how to thread a bobbin all over again and one day I WILL make a quilt ;)

I've been on three slow hikes with lots of breaks in the past three days! Woohoo! Life is good.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


This week has been quite the whirlwind for me! Let's just say that I've left the comfortable shoreline, fought a few storms, found a new horizon, and am that much stronger for it.

I've been moved from my middle school English position to an elementary school. My heart really lies at the elementary school level and so I am thrilled to be returning to teaching the younger grades! I'm still awaiting the final word on which grade I'll be teaching, but it will be coming in the next week or two.

While washing dishes I was listening to this song on Pandora and I felt it truly portrayed my week. Look it up! For now, here are the lyrics:

"Harbor" by Vienna Teng

We're here where the daylight begins
The fog on the streetlight slowly thins
Water on water's the way
The safety of shoreline fading away
Clarion River, PA

Sail your sea
Meet your storm
All I want is to be your harbor
The light in me
Will guide you home
All I want is to be your harbor

A Bayou in Louisiana

Fear is the brightest of signs
The shape of the boundary you leave behind
So sing all your questions to sleep
The answers are out there in the drowning deep

Kachemak Bay, Alaska
Sail your sea
Meet your storm
All I want is to be your harbor
The light in me
Will guide you home
All I want is to be your harbor
A tributary & waterfall on the Shenandoah River, Virginia

You've got a journey to make
There's your horizon to chase
So go far beyond where we stand
No matter the distance

I'm holding your hand

Sail your sea
Meet your storm
All I want is to be your harbor
The light in me
Will guide you home
All I want is to be your harbor
Maho Bay, St. John in the Virgin Islands
Sail your sea
Meet your storm
All I want is to be your harbor
The light in me
Will guide you home
All I want is to be your harbor

May we all be able to sail our sea, meet our storm, and be guided home to a safe harbor :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Duty Calls

For my birthday this year my mom offered to get us a dog backpack for Leif. You may remember just how much he LOVED the neck-warmer she made him at Christmas, so this gave us hope that he may respond well to the backpack, too.

Well, let's just say that he turns into a completely different dog with his new pack! When we first put it on him he refused to walk or move unless he was heeling. As time has gone on, he is moving more on walks and is willing to walk ahead, though still never too far away.

It amazes me just how patient he is while we put it on his back. We like to interject what he may be thinking when we put the backpack on him: "No, I cannot fetch a ball, I am on duty" or "Stick close to me guys and we'll get where we need to go."
We've started weighting the pack a bit and right now it has one can of chicken broth on either side. Eventually we'd like him to be able to carry his own water and food on longer backpacking trips. For now we'll get him used to it by carrying cans of food or water for us.

Having a pack on definitely tires him out, so that's another plus! Double the exercise in one outing. If you have an energetic dog whom you can never truly wear out, the pack just might be the trick you're looking for :)

Thank you for the early birthday present, Mom & Dad!!! If you're interested, it's the Ruff Wear Approach Dog Pack.

We just returned from a very slow meander on the 2 mile loop-trail across the road. It felt so good to be back on the trail and in the woods!

Health update: Monday my INR was at a 2.0, so it's just barely in the range. On Tuesday I went to the neurologist to discuss a horrible headache I'd had on Sunday. He said that it is normal to have a stress or a tension headache in the location where I was in pain and that he would be concerned if I had any numbness, loss of vision, loss of muscle control on one side, or shooting pain up my neck. So, it was good to find out just what I should be concerned about.

We also discussed the full recovery and he said that one in five people, if they got MRIs done, would find that they have a much smaller vertebral artery on one side, while the other side would be much bigger. He says that I can expect a full recovery in that I may not have flow through that artery, but I will be able to run, rock climb, and do everything I used it do. Woohoo!

When I asked about what kinds of exercise I can do, he said that it should still be minimal for the next three months. I asked about biking, hiking, kayaking & canoeing and he said something that made me laugh. He said, "You Americans, you're always go, go, go. Go and be like a Latino and relax in the hammock this summer!" Haha! Okay, okay.... I'll relax in a hammock ;)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Pennsylvania Time

Phoebe and I hit the road last Tuesday and headed to see our family in Pennsylvania. Willem wasn't able to make it after all, since he took a part as Orsino in The Tempest and had a read-through the evening we left. So, Phoebe and I sang the entire way to Seneca, Pennsylvania and there may have been some chatting, too. It was quality sister time.

We all gathered for foil packs around the campfire... YUM!

And we watched this jokester... 

And enjoyed listening to this jokester :)

And visited with a beautiful 86 year old!

And then a handsome 91 year old.

They've almost reached 64 years of marriage (July 3rd). Wowzers!

Even though the visit was short, it was great. We had a blast with Uncle Mark, who was visiting from Miami, Florida. He's hilarious and really fun to be around! We look forward to more time with Grandpa, Grandma, Aunt Beth, Uncle John, Julie, Jake, Hazel, and Heidi very soon! 

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Delaplane Strawberry Festival

There's one festival and weekend that I look forward to all year long. This year it happened to REALLY be a weekend I was yearning for since it was the official start to my summer vacation! But this festival is so much more than a festival to me; it's a celebration of service, compassion, and tradition.

You see, the Delaplane Strawberry Festival is the work, toil, and sweat of a very small church. Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Delaplane, Virginia puts together and runs this two-day festival and over the years this festival has grown considerably in size. The tiny congregation has worked together to create a beautiful & family-friendly festival filled with crafters, hay rides, children's games, cake walks, performers (including SCORE), strawberries, strawberry shortcake, cheesecake, and sundaes, and more! This festival makes for a wonderful experience for all ages.

After volunteering for years, greeting old family friends, smiling and talking with familiar vendors, and taking in the beauty that was around me, my heart was filled with glee and I was "home."

My dad refers to this festival as almost Brigadoon-like and he couldn't be more right. The festival gets set-up in a day (Friday), stays for two days, and at 5 PM on Sunday it starts to disappear. It's set at the beautiful Sky Meadows State Park, set in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, with the view of a pond, and rolling hills. People come from all around Virginia, some visiting from out-of-state, and then we all return to our lives. But we know that it will return again...

The proceeds of this festival go to SO many good causes; it's an honor to be a part of such a significant and powerful event.

This year was not unlike any other year- I worked at the strawberry tent. I love selling strawberries! It was fun to work and sell the berries, while working side-by-side with my mom. I also LOVE getting to smell the strawberries all. day. long.

And, I can never resist a few, slow meanders through the craft vendors! I always walk away with something and I always start dreaming about what it would be like to have my own stand... perhaps one day! :)


I have so much to say after this last week, but I am going to try to spread it out over a few posts. This is a good problem, eh?