27 July 2012

I Didn't Cry

I didn’t cry.
Me.  The emotional basket-case of the family.  
I didn’t cry.
The one who cries at everything.  I cried when Charlotte dies, a spider for crying out loud.  And I hate spiders (sorry Maria Montessori, but I just don’t like some of Nature’s children).  I cried when Jim Craig had his horse shot out from under him.  I cried when Dan and Ann died (getting misty now just thinking about it).  I balled my eyes out when my friend Tabitha moved the astronomical distance to Florida when we were 7.  I cried when I flew to England for a year.  I cried myself to sleep from homesickness. 
Can you imagine what I was like during pregnancy?
I cry for every sob story article people post on facebook.
I cried when I had to leave in the middle of my best friend’s wedding in Morocco just so we could catch a flight that ended up being cancelled.  I cried a lot that day.
I cry a lot.
But I didn’t.
Not this time.
Why not?
It’s goodbye.
The distances are not as astronomical (financial maybe, but not astronomical).  We will visit.  Tacoma is not that far away.  Is that why I didn’t cry?  
Maybe I’m just in denial.
Maybe the tears are around the corner.  Maybe they’re just waiting for the right time.  
Maybe I’m not going to be an emotional basket-case any more.
Um, yeah right Rachel.
I can tell as I write this, I will cry, just not yet.

26 July 2012

Turning a black thumb a little greener

I learned something new today.
     This year I only planted two types of vegetables, four cherry tomatoes and two zucchini.  It was a good thing that was all I planted because they have grown enormous; one tomato plant is nearly as tall as I am.  
Glad I didn't plant any more!
     A few weeks ago I was really excited because they were all doing so well.  The tomatoes had many flowers and clusters of green tomatoes, both zucchini plants had huge yellow flowers too.
Cherry tomatoes!

     Then one night I went out to water and realized the zucchini flowers were on the ground but nothing was growing from the stem, as if they had been eaten off.  I’ve had slugs before so I put out a dish of beer (don’t worry, it’s a kind I didn’t like).  The next morning no slugs had showed up for my party, but more flowers were on the ground or ‘bitten’ off.
Two flowers and a 'bitten' off stem

     We went on vacation for a week and when I came back it seemed the same, one or two flowers about to bloom, most ‘bitten’ off at the base and no zucchini.  I know enough about botany to know the fruit grows from the flower.  No flower, no fruit.  I was bummed.  
I’ve not had great success with vegetables.  Last year I got a decent amount of cherry tomatoes from potted plants but in the past it’s just been a lot of effort for little result.  Even this year I had started seedling zucchinis in the spring but they died before they were big enough (or it was warm enough) to plant outside.  When I planted the bought tomatoes, I also put in four zucchini seeds ‘just in case’.  It seemed despite my best efforts and enormous plant size, the second time wasn’t going to be successful either.
     Then on Monday I was watering, moving the prickly leaves to get the water to the dirt.  Nothing again.  I blinked.  And there they were, as if by magic.  Not just one but two good size zucchinis, just the right size to pick right away.  Where did they come from?  How did I miss them?  How did they grow when the flowers kept falling off?
     What do you do when you have a question?  Most of the time I ask my mom, but this time I looked it up on the internet.  Good old Google helped me out with this website.  Did you know zucchini plants have male and female flowers?  The male flower sits on long stocks and blooms, is hopefully pollinated by helpful insects, then falls off.  The female flower sits closer to the ground and carries the potential to grow a zucchini.  When there is cross pollination the zucchini grows from the female flower. 

Female flower with baby zucchini behind

Fascinating.  Now I don’t have to worry about slugs, but I do have gross beer in my fridge.  Anybody want it?

13 July 2012


I have written about Caroga Lake many times before.  I write about it when I’m here, when I miss a summer, and when I am asked to write about a favorite memory.  Sitting here at camp, there is no better topic.

View from the porch

"Did you know it would be like this?  Is this what you envisioned when you bought the place?  Did you know we would love it so much?"
There are few places in my memory that are so engrained as this one; few places with as much tradition.  Like a liturgy: you sleep there, I sleep here, this is where we have breakfast, this is where we toast marshmallows.
The paint is peeling.  Peeling in straight geometric lines that indicate lead paint.  Some people might call it a death trap, I call it camp.  Everything squeaks and creaks, if you need something in the kitchen you better look through every drawer, don’t use anything in the medicine cabinet - it’s probably been out of date for at least 10 years, the oven is quirky - don’t trust the temperature reading, the faucet is lake water - don’t drink it.   A realtor would describe it as ‘charming’.
The breeze is beautiful, the air smells wonderful, of pine needles and mountains.  The birdsong is clearer, the water bluer.   

Breakfast Hair
Great Grandpa Carnrite,
When you bought Ja-Mari-Ette 5 generations ago, did you know it would be like this?  Did you know we would cry the summers we missed?  That it wasn’t really summer without time at camp.  Did you know that we would do our best to get here every year even for just a weekend?  Or a night?  Did you know your great, great, granddaughters would be swimming off the same beach where your children swam?  


Aunt Marion kept talking about selling the place.  When I was in high school it seemed a very real possibility.  I cried about it.  Now I realize she would never have sold camp, she never could have sold it.  Camp is a gift.  Great, Grandpa Carnrite might not ever have known me, but he knew I might happen, and that’s why he bought the place.  
Camp will eventually be sold.  I know this.  My adult mind knows this.  But until that moment when I actually do have to let go, I will not loosen my grip.  One day it will happen, another family will be here.  Or the place will be torn down (more likely).  Caroga Lake summers will end.  
But right now, I’m sharing it with my daughter.

First Morning at Caroga

What topic do you return to again and again in your writing?

05 July 2012

3 Books

The last few books I’ve read have all been recommendations.  A few months ago my mom gave me a stack of books; one of the perks of being the closest child when she is in a purging mood.  My mom doesn’t really get books out of the library and, even though she has an iPad and is thinking of getting a Kindle, I don’t foresee her buying ebooks any time soon.  Instead she buys books.  Old fashioned, wonderful books.  (Real book versus Kindle is still a daily dilemma for me.)  My mom also only reads books once.  She is not like me, re-reading parts of Mara, Daughter of the Nile or Seven Daughters, Seven Sons every time I dust.  Given her habits: acquiring books and always trying to get rid of ‘stuff’ from her house, she gives stacks of books to me (which I never refuse).  

Among the latest stack was The Help.  I had heard all the reviews and saw the movie previews and was interested in reading.  And there it was, plopped in my lap.  A road trip to Pennsylvania was all I needed to read most of it.  It was a good, quick read.  I kept waiting for something really bad to happen but thankfully it never did; I like happy endings.  And it was for the most part.  Almost too happy, which is one of the criticisms I’ve heard.  I found the novel had a decent ending, but the movie ending was sappy with a neat little ‘cheese’ bow on top.  
The core of the novel is powerful even if the events might be far-fetched (according to one person I talked to).  The story forced me to remember that this isn’t just history, but really happened, and not that long ago.  (I find it easy to forget that history happened.  Maybe it’s because I read so much fiction.)
Best line: “Bosoms [...] are for bedrooms and breast-feeding.  Not for occasions with dignity.” p.379
Bottom line: I really liked The Help and would recommended it.
The next book I read is actually a trilogy.  Yes, I jumped on the bandwagon too.  I read The Hunger Games.  Actually it was the first fiction ebook that I bought on my kindle.  I was flying to Colorado and had finally finished my last seminar of school (i.e. no homework), also the ebook was $15 for the trilogy - hard to beat.  I started reading with too much skepticism.  I had heard too many opinions.  But I got into it.  Overall I was entertained and enjoyed being sucked into a book series, that hasn’t happened in a while.  Collins’ writing did bother me a little bit, there were sentences that jarred me out of my book coma, but what annoyed me the most (spoiler alert) was how many characters she kills off in the last few chapters.  Couldn’t there have been some left?  I’m a sucker for happy endings.  I did like that Katniss kills President Coin instead of Snow, it’s a gutsy move and I liked it.  Also, by the end of the books I wasn’t a fan of Gale anymore.  He was too brutal, war-ready and blood-thirsty.  Peeta became the better choice.
I’m still not sure I love them, and the jury’s still out on whether I will see the movie, but I am glad I read them for myself.  Now I can be one of those opinions too.
Worst line: “If I don’t show up, worry they will.” Chapter 11, para 3 Catching Fire (Since when does Yoda live in District 12?)
Bottom line: Eeh, it will keep you entertained if not en-grossed (pun intended).
Maeve Binchy’s Evening Class was also in the stack of books my mom gave me.  I had never heard of it, but picked it up while I was dusting and started reading it.  It took me a while, I think I started it soon after reading The Help and finished it this month, but it was a good book.  There is a large cast of characters that are all intertwined in one way or another.  It takes a bit to unwind them all, especially when reading it over a few months.  Although it isn’t a whodunit, it reads similar to an Agatha Christi mystery.  There is no great moral message, just a group of unhappy Dubliners who come together to learn Italian in the evenings.  Again, I kept expecting something terrible to happen, but it all ended very calmly.  I like happy endings!
I don’t have a favorite line.
Bottom line: A little slow for a beach read, but the character development/intertwindness (new word) was good.
What books have you read lately?