Thursday, July 24, 2014

The Almost Domesticated Cat

Chango El Cubano Biddy Bongo, comfortable, relaxed, handsome.
A little bit.
Chango is rarely comfortable and relaxed.
He's always handsome.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Packing For Distant Lands

I cannot be sure, but I am either bringing far, far too much, or slightly less than necessary. We are driving to Oregon, and camping enroute. Along the way we will have four nights in a tent, four nights in new places, four nights sleeping on a pad, on the ground, a distance from bathrooms. And we will be making our dinners and breakfasts, some of them at least, over a camp stove. Oh, yes... then our time there, in a tent, and our drive home will be camping, too. Anyway, I am pretty sure I am bringing just what we need, but possibly little of good use at all. It's hard to tell.

Do I really need two different balsamic flavors? They fit in the box, so why not? And imagine all the fresh produce we'll be passing on our journey, all the fruit stands, and organic farms... a splash of raspberry balsamic, a drizzle of olive oil, and we feast. Food is fabulous around a campfire. Good food around a campfire is beyond fabulous. Do you know what's light, refreshing, and fun? A shot of Pear-Cranberry balsamic over ice, with sparkling water. What can I say? I do like yummy things... I've certainly confessed this road-trip food love affair, before!

Table cloth
Pots, pans
Dish soap
Spices and seasonings
Cups! And a can opener! I'm still working on this. Glad I checked. Must add.

I was remembering the last time we were preparing for a big camp adventure and it kind of shocks me to realize that was seven years ago. We've done some camping, more recently, but I'm not counting anything in our own county. This is about distant lands, redwoods, Humboldt Fog Cheese, leaving the state, getting bugs on the bumper. The last time we made lists and packed for any foreseeable needs on the road, Geoff helped me understand my own wanderlust, and like that time, he's staying behind while I go in search of adventure with the children. Before we roll out of the driveway, I will ask him to please read the poem he found for me...

"I am a part of all that I have met.
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!"

--Ulysses, by Alfred Tennyson

What is it about leaving home, making believe that our van is a covered wagon, our supplies made to last the journey, however long, and the roads, perhaps, are all but abandoned? Something primal, feelings instinctive capture my imagination, and the calculations of miles, meals, resources, tools, and preparedness make me giddy. Anything can happen! We will see beautiful places, familiar places, and altogether new things, too. I love those familiar places, and new things. I love camping, finding little treasures, singing in the car, eating farm stand strawberries for lunch, reading aloud in near darkness. I love that I can take as much pleasure anticipating what lies ahead, as I will in the middle of the journey. I love that my careful planning will be met with the unforeseen, and we will find new roads, and other ways.

I love that the last time we packed this purple camp box, we were different... we were younger, we were waiting on other dreams to come true, we had other skills, other ideas. Maria was so small, she bathed in the purple camp box! It was a time when the future... colleges, driver's licenses, growing up, felt a very far off future. So much has changed. We have our own home now, and new schools, new plans, separate plans. Maybe I hope that revisiting those familiar places will connect us to the common ground that was so much easier to share when the children were small, when objectives seemed closer at hand. Like visiting an old family home, or hometown, this trip feels like being in touch with our roots, the memories we each hold, and recall fondly. It's still us, though, and we bring those old memories, as well as our new dreams and ideas with us. I know... I am getting muddly in my deep thoughts and other musings, but I think it will serve my patience and enthusiasm when we are in 90 degree heat, facing traffic, and tired of baked beans! I'm only bringing one can of baked beans... I should, maybe add one more can?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Five Good Things

It's almost a month since we were in Wisconsin, and there are still so many things I haven't shared. We squeezed quite a few activities and good times into our week, and one of those was popping into the Milwaukee Art Museum. My father-in-law, Phil, was interested in seeing the Kandinsky Exhibition. I find that even artists that don't, at first glance, grab my interest, are almost always more interesting when I learn more about them... oh, sure, it sounds obvious when I say it aloud. The funny thing about the exhibition was that I kept finding paintings that were, surprisingly, more to my liking than I expected, until I learned that those pieces I felt attracted to were invariably works by friends or colleagues of Kandinsky! There is a lot to see and appreciate at the Milwaukee Art Museum, beginning with the building itself... Santiago Calatrava is the architect of the Quadracci Pavilion and the building alone is worth the visit, inside and out. It graces the shore of Lake Michigan, and evokes the form and strength of sails on water, and they can move in a span of 217 feet. Inside the natural light is beautiful, the space open, bright. The Milwaukee Art Museum has really good, engaging opportunities to experiment, to engage all your senses, and perception. Okay, facts and details aside, the best part was wandering from gallery to gallery and enjoying art. And playing art, making art, and being art!

Good Things...

1. Our Jet Puff Odyssey is with the mechanic, getting fine tuned, primed, and readied for The Oregon Trail! A safe, reliable, comfy ride can never be underestimated in its goodness.

2. A lot of tomatoes are ripening. Nothing as stunning as last year, but the decision to neglect them a bit more seems to be paying off. I just hope they taste as good as they look.

3. One of my very favorite bands is coming to Southern California, in time for our annual City and Art Christmas Outing! And! We have tickets, too! Pink Martini! At last! I'm already starstruck and swaying!

4. Ruth gave Geoff a beautiful, family dresser... he moved it into our room, put everything away, and it looks right at home, and very nice.

5. We've made plans for celebrating Ruth's birthday... it's one of those decade birthdays that deserve brunch with an ocean view!

Won't you please share some good things, too? I have another kind of list in front of me, and it's very long, and a bit daunting, slightly scary, because there is so much to be done before our next adventure. I need to travailler my chambre and I must not oublier any errands, chores, or duties.