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When we first started camping, it was FUN to pack up all the crap, drive 20 min, unload, set up camp, sleep, pack up, and drive home.  That was camping.  And camping is fun.  Then we started doing longer trips–3 days 4 hours away.  7 days 18 hours away.  And now a one-night trip seems stooopid.  Esp. when it rains.

We had yet another rainy 4-H campout.  Same camp site as last year’s wet adventure, slightly different group of kids (I had Ben this time instead of Julianna).  Packing up is pretty easy, I have a camping box of all the stuff we need, so I just load in the tent, pads, bags, and box and all we have to do is add food and clothing.  Setting up camp is also easy, my tent is simple to set up, pads self-inflate, bags unroll, presto!  But then the rains come, and everything is wet and muddy.  And the rain continues all night and all morning, so that it’s still wet and muddy when you pack up.  That means that when you get home, it all has to be UNpacked and strewn around the porch for drying.  yuck.  Opening that tent bag and releasing tent, rainwater, mud, and 30 stow-away daddy longlegs is dispiriting.  Luckily, the smell of nylon and woodsmoke is some kind of serotonin-releaser for me, so I keep doing it.

Of course, you can’t discount the camaraderie born of sticking it out together.  Esp if there’s more than just weather causing trouble…  There’s this family.  We’ll call them the Buttpain family (it’s French.  pronounced BuPAHN).  The dad has caused my eyes to be a bit rolly in the past.  First it was the way he won’t let us close his doors in car line b/c we close them too hard.  It’s a fargin’ late 90s Honda Accord dude.  Get over yourself.  Or, you know, park and don’t use car line.  Then it was rock climbing, when he inserted himself into the line of kids, saying “They’ve all had a climb.”  It’s a 4-H activity.  You age out of 4-H at 18.  Then, yesterday, it was the fire-building Leave No Trace activity: The kids were given a coated paper card and told to make a fire that would burn two popsicle sticks, but not harm the paper.  Parents were asked to watch to be sure the kids were being safe.  M. Buttpain would not let the kids light the matches and micromanaged how they built their fire.  Then, when one group of kids successfully burned the sticks and protected the card by covering it with a stone and dirt, he cried that it was “cheating” and “against the rules.”  It was pointed out that the stated rules were “burn the sticks, protect the paper.”  And he said something like “well if I’d known I could do THAT…”  Dude.  Not. For. You.  I suspect he trick or treats, too.  Then, dinner time rolls around and we start moving over to the pavillion to start cooking.  M. Buttpain shows up, 30 min later, family in tow, complaining that no one told them we were going over there.  It’s about 100 yards away, first of all, and there was no conspiracy to sneak off, we just went over.  Everyone else was out of their tents.  Preparing to eat b/c it was dinner time. He clearly thought it was some sort of Plan, though.  Lord knows it was within our rights by that point.  Then this morning, breakfast.  it’s rainy and miserable and most of the crew got wet overnight (not us!  yay REI tents!).  The Buttpain family agreed to bring pancake mix for all.  They were still in their tent, however, so we all had the warm beverage of our choice.  Told the kids we were waiting for the scouting groups to finish using the pavillion (there are 3 youth sites that share the pavillion) so that we weren’t all squished in together.  Nothing.  The scouts leave, we head over, start cooking eggs at least.  Nothing.  Finally send an outgoing child to rouse the Buttpains.  M. Buttpain arrives with his bag of mix…which he sets down and begins making himself and his family breakfast burritos.  “Can we have pancakes now, M. Buttpain?”  “In a bit.”  Other adults step in and make the fargin’ pancakes.  Other Buttpain delights: only 3 cars can be at the campsite, one for each group.  M.Buttpain brings his car up anyway, as Mme Buttpain has “a bum knee.”  The rangers show up, say there are too many cars, M. Buttpain must be escorted down and driven back w/o his car; Mme Buttpain claims she needs to take the car to “run errands” (we’re here less than 24 hours.  What can’t wait?) which really means “drive around until the rangers are gone” and brings the car back to the site b/c, with the knee, she cannot walk up from the parking lot. Rangers return, car must be escorted down AGAIN.  Also, setting up camp involved LOTS of yelling at his kids, which was charming. Upside: the rest of us got to unite in our eye rolling and gaze-meeting.  But seriously, how can you be a 40 something adult and that clueless?


Ben and his group burn some popsicle sticks. and some paper.

I took the camera with the broken crystal. hence the cruddy photos...

The usual rainy bonfire with possessed children

I went on my first hike with the 4-H Pack Goat group on Sunday.  If the housing market wasn’t such a horror show, I’d put my house on the market right now and buy land so I could have goats.  LOVED the goats.  So ornery.  And we know I love an ornery critter.  Brian, our fearless leader, was having trouble with his usual goatmobile, so he showed up in a rental van full of goats:

this picture never stops cracking me up.

I popped in the front to scratch their ears and whoooo-WEE it was stinky in there.  I was imagining the next person to rent the van saying “DAY-UM, smells like they were hauling goats in here, jeez!”  But I think the picture would make an awesome U-Haul ad

While the goats were tied up, waiting for us to go, hikers kept showing up at the trail head and chatting with us about the goats.  To a person, they each said,”Well THAT’S not something you see on the trail every day.   One woman said “Um, your goat!” and pointed.  Oreo, the oldest of the goats, was ripping all the notices off the trail head bulletin board and eating them.  “This is crap.  That is a lie.  Nonsense. Ranger Propaganda…”

The kids got a talk about toxic plants we’d encounter along the way.  Apparently mountain laurel is really toxic to goats and it is EVERYwhere at the park.  In bloom and gorgeous, but toxic.  So the goats all had to wear little muzzles.  They were not amused by them.  Oreo kept trying to sneeze his off. Probably to eat some more park notices.  Especially the ones about toxic plants.

This is Oreo.

The trail was fun with the goats.  There were two baby goats along and they’d periodically just pop up into the air and kick their heels.  Just joyous to be out in a new place.  Oreo was the leader, but he’d periodically just lay down.  Not all the way, like he was actually tired, just part of the way, making it clear that he was just being a jerk.  He’d squat there until the other goats started to get ahead of him and then he’d lurch up and trot to the front.  Loved him.

His handler kept saying “Oh, he’s not usually like this!” and swearing he was the Best Pack Goat Ever.  It really cracked me up to hear the girls (there are boys in the club, but they weren’t there) bragging about their goats and playing up their brilliance.  It hit me that it was like Pony Club–only for the slightly odd girls.  And by odd, of course, I mean awesome.

Julianna and Lotte:

taking a break

We stopped a few times, since most of the goats were new to this and the old hands had had a lot of time off.  near the top of the trail, we stopped in a little clearing for a while and the girls chatted and cuddled the goats.

Next month, Julianna is going to go to a weekend goat gathering in Ohio.  I’m hosting a party that day, so I have to miss it.  I’m sorry to miss the camp.  but not so much the van ride.

Well, at least if *I* throw them.  Honestly, I cannot believe people still leave their children in my care.  So yeah, the bat mitzvah party required a 911 call and an ambulance ride for one of the guests, but we’ll get to that…

But other than that, how did you enjoy the play, Mrs. Lincoln?  It was fine, the service went well, Julianna was awesome, the weather was perfect, the food was fantastic, everyone (well, almost everyone) had fun.  It started with the service.  I got a few photos of Julianna practicing with the Torah, since I couldn’t take pics during it.  That was a shame b/c the morning sunlight was coming in and shining on her so nicely.

with Rabbi Dan

The actual service was loooonnnng, but nice.  Rabbi Dan let everyone come up and have a look at the Torah and ask any questions they had.  A lot of the kids from Julianna’s school were there and they asked good questions and he clearly enjoyed answering them and educating folks.  I’ve never attended a Saturday morning service before, so I didn’t really know what to expect.  Turns out, you can expect a lot of Hebrew.  Julianna read her Torah portion perfectly, as far as I know, and her talk about what she had read was well-written and had a couple of laugh lines.  I cut out as soon as Julianna’s part was over, so that I could get up to the Tea Room to decorate.

The Tea Room is a nice cabin in a nearby state park, on top of a mountain.  It’s the sort of place that is perfect if the weather is good and…small if it is not.  Luckily, the goat sacrifice paid off and the weather was p e r f e c t.   I ordered white tablecloths and a mix of brightly colored napkins.  Veggie Annie, the caterer, had gotten them set up before I got there.  I had gotten some potted flowers from a nursery and some colorful baskets from the dollar store.  I put those on the tables as well as a bud vase with peonies from the yard.  I had framed a gazillion photos of Julianna and sprinkled those around, too.  And, oddly, I had many yards of ribbon that says “Bat Mitzvah,” left over from the old scrapbook kit business days.  Julianna was a bit horrified at the Festival of Julianna aspect of it, but it looked pretty. :O)

You can see the tables, so pretty!

Admire my 20 dollar dress. Oh, and Steve.

I dwarf my bite-sized parents

the whole Greenberg clan

Close to half of the guests were Julianna’s friends.  They’re a great bunch, I love to have them around.  They’re not afraid to be goofy and play.  I’m sad to lose the 8th graders this year.

the kids lost their fancy clothes as soon as they hit the cabin

In the picture above, they’ve discovered that they could climb the wall up to the porch.  I had already told them to stop perching on the rail or I’d beat them, so when they saw me watching them climb the walls, one of them asked “are you going to make us stop?”  So I said, “well, I’m not very good with safety, so I don’t REALLY care, but please don’t climb in flip flops.  I turned away and got halfway across the porch before Julianna fell from the rail.  In sneakers.  Knowing that since any life-stage event places you in the Danger Zone (Being in the Danger Zone is when your death or disabling would be that much more tragic b/c of when it happened–driving home from prom, flying off to your honeymoon, climbing on a wall at your bat mitzvah), I sprinted over, sure I’d see her broken body at the bottom, but she’d only hurt her ankle a bit.  And her pride.  Luckily, she falls or gets hit in the head with something almost every day, so none of the kids really paid it any mind.

We totally figured that was the big drama for the day.  But no.  The kids were all running around outside and Julianna came in, annoyed that I didn’t have a psychic sense that something was amiss and was just standing there, and said “MOM, Sara’s having a terrible knee issue or something!!” I jog out in my inappropriate-for-running-on mountainsides-shoes (see? always wear Birkenstocks) to hear the kids yelling “Sara’s kneecap isn’t even on her LEG anymore!” and “Sara’s kneecap is OFF!!!” so I’m picturing pools of blood, I run back into the cabin and say “Someone call 911!” and head back out, only to find Sara sitting up, making not a sound, and kind of holding her non-bloody leg. I now think it’s no big deal and she’s twisted it or something b/c a dislocation shouldn’t just let you SIT there. But then I see that it looks….wrong. Luckily, it was a bat mitzvah, so there was a doctor present. An oncologist, but good enough. He tells us yes, it’s dislocated. So we call her mom and the ambulance comes. Sara is WHITE. Whiter than a white girl in a snowstorm. Her mom pulls up as they’re loading her into the ambulance. Now, if *I* pulled up to see my child being loaded into the back of an ambulance after having had a disjointed and poor reception-y call from some mom I barely know, I’d have screeched to a halt and sprinted down. Probably knocked over a paramedic or two trying to get to my baby.  But lucky for Sara, I’m not her mom.  Her mom was very chill. Unflappable. Which explained why Sara wasn’t crying or freaking, I guess. Anyway, she went off to the ER, eventually the party got back into swing. Sara’s expecting about a 2 week recovery, but will know more after she sees an ortho on Monday.

Lily was FREAKING, you can see Steve trying to soothe her up there.  Julianna had stayed with Sara the whole time, so she was a little wigged out.  I pulled a couple of the kids over and told them it was their job to make sure she knew that the party would go on and they would have FUN.  so it was weird for a bit, but then they carried on.

They ran around playing games and hiding from one another.  I seldom really knew where they were–again, bad chaperone.  When it was close to time for the parents to come get them, I figured it would be best if I knew which ones had actually been picked up and which ones we should call the rangers about, so at least I managed that much responsibility.

So, good weather, good food, good story.  Success.

Okay, I’m typing this entry on my phone while Ben and Lily get hair cuts. I started dinner before we left, have to hope it will be edible when we return. Steve will pick up Julianna from her last play rehearsal tonight. Tomorrow night, she’ll perform in the show and then go straight to the synagogue where she has a role in the service. Then Saturday morning she has her bat mitzvah (apparently one says “becomes a bat mitzvah” but I think we can agree that is a bit odd) followed by the party for 60ish people (number attending, not age of attendees, although some of them are that, too). On Sunday, she has a pack goat hike (assuming they get a goat restraint quorum,of course). Oh, and science fair projects were due today. AND at some point in this madness, we’re suposed to pick up chicks (“cheep cheep” not “I’m SO drunk!).

So yeah. Stressful. I dreamed last night that I was planning Julianna’s wedding. She was pregnant and was so sad. I was broken hearted for her and deeply confused because I didn’t even know she had a boyfriend. I woke up totally wired and couldn’t shake it. Please send Xanax.

Yesterday, I wasted most of my day looking for a blouse to match a skirt I have. I started at the mall, bless my heart, but of course there was nothing that was one of the right colors, not puffy sleeved, and not ruffled. I noticed that the mall really doesnt have anything between Charlotte Russe and Alfred Dunner. So I went to Ann Taylor, Coldwater Creek, and Chicos which were more age appropriate but still nothing. Finally, while getting shoes for the kids (actual holes in Bens soles. Like a cartoon hobo), I popped into Burlington Coat Factory, which never has anything, and found a good dress. Twenty bucks. And not even as wildly Betty Draper as I was leaning. Nothing brings out the New England WASP in me like a Jewish ceremony…

Flowers are bought, playlist is made, catering arranged. And now my thumbs hurt. See you on the other side.


May 2010