we love storm king. 500 acres of beautifully (and so so simply) lanscaped land in the catskills dotted with amazing modern monumental sculpture. calder, serra, di suvero . . . and several more amazing artists have their work throughout the park. peaceful and striking all at once.
this was our fourth visit to the park, which seems so paltry given the six years we've been in new york. but we loved it just as much as we always do. mim came along. no trip to storm king is complete without mim. and the beans, after hearing us rave for years, walked the grounds with us too. tom may rank among eve's top five favorite people in all the world, and he and his are at least in my top 20 so we were all happy and entertained.
it was a day full of all the small details that make days fun. cricket catching, land envying, a groundhog, chip scaring eve to tears, sunshine, itchy arms from napping in the grass and a lot of smiles and laughter. a beautiful day, with beautiful grounds, beautiful sculpture and beautiful people all around.
if you ever have the chance, go. and wander on your way home. that drive through the hudson river valley continues to be one of the most beautiful drives we've ever taken.
and maybe you too should go to the delicious ess-a bagel (on 21st and 1st) before taking off. . . and don't ask for the bagels to be toasted like i did. the workers don't like that so much. besides, the bagels totally don't need it. they are perfectly crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside all on their own. they may be the only bagel that is really worth eating. the egg and cheese bagel sandwich i ate was so good and kept me full for at least 7 hours. . . well, that and the half of eve's strawberry-cream cheese bagel. . . and a bite or two (or five) of ruthie's cinnamon raisin . . . it's tough to keep track.
that joni mitchell song ran through my head and out of my mouth every time i was in the car and driving through the golden hills of my california last week. i lived all of my life in california and all but the first 8 months in the little town of placerville. it was my home. then i went to college in utah and hawaii, got married and moved to new york. while i was busy doing that my parents sold the house (along with all the dirt, bushes, trees, barbed wire and star thistle) that all of my childhood memories revolve around and moved away. i haven't been back to placerville for more than 12 hours in more than five years and i haven't come near my old house since a couple years before it stopped being home to porters.
but this trip things were different. this trip i had time to spend in my old hometown and time to drive the winding roads through the gorgeous golden hills i love. i had time to cry while i was doing it. maybe i cried because i missed it, or because i mourn the loss of the little girl i was when i lived there, maybe because i can no longer call those hills and roads mine or maybe just because of all the sweet memories they hold for me. or something else entirely. . . i'm not sure. but i cried and sang to my california and felt more at home driving through that country than i have in years.
and while i was driving i remembered that that little town with all its hills and oaks was my first love. the best kind of first love. the kind that helped me grow, slowly and gently. the first love that made me feel sure and capable and appreciated. the kind that now makes me teary because of all the sweet and young feelings that surface when i think of it. the love i would never want to reclaim because i have become someone new and so has it. but it will always be my first love and for that reason, i will love it forever and part of me will always be at home with it.
chip did it. and placed 46th (out of about 600) while he was at it. 1.5 miles in a little over 39 minutes.
the two racers, chip and scott, took off at 5am to complete registration and amp up for the race. a few hours later we (two grandparents, two wives and the cumulative 5 children) made our way to the marina to watch it unfold. fog covered most of the golden gate and the whole of alcatraz heightening the anticipation and excitement. minutes after we arrived, swimmers began splashing their way in. searching for chip's stroke among the hundreds for about 15 minutes, i found it about 50 yeards out. swimming to the beach, running through the finish, handing off his microchip-timer, and kind-of posing for a photographer, he was done. i was happy, his mom was relieved, he was warm and excited, and the girls were oblivious to it all, pretend swimming in the sand with their cousins. after waiting a couple minutes for scott to come in, we all went to a celebrate their success.
my camera died the second chip was coming out of the water. happily bob was prepared. he snapped some great shots of chip and then was patient with me while i art-directed all the shots i wanted him to get of us as we enjoyed the rest of the day at the marina and crissy fields together.
once i get those pictures i'll add them to this post.
until then, you can check this out. the "two swimmers" pictured are scott and chip on the ferry ride out to alcatraz.
this is not the last of open water swims for chip. and honestly, next time i'd like to be in the water with with him.
friday before labor day we hopped in our two-door honda and headed four hours up the hudson for a wedding and some wandering. with no concrete plans outside of festivities surrounding the wedding, we threw our tent in the back and figured we'd find something to make a great four-day mini break. we did. and came home with 600 pictures on our camera to prove it.
here's an attempt at giving a quick -and long overdue- report of the weekend.
the flower girl
when jaclyn and jonathan (jackie is chip's former work partner) asked eve to be their flower girl we were really excited. traditional walk-down-the-aisle weddings are so much fun and somewhat rare in our circles, so this was so great. but, we had some serious concerns- would eve actually do it without crying or scowling or collapsing in the middle of the aisle when someone looked at her the wrong way? the girl loves attention but strictly on her own terms. chip and i were unnecessarily stressed out before the wedding. we were hopeful that all the prep work we'd done would pay off. (i.e. discussing how fun it is going to be and answering her really random questions "so, there gonna be dragons too? oh, no dragons? ok." and helping her practice walking down the aisle [space between our carpet and couch] while tossing flower petals [puzzle pieces] and smiling at all the people around). it did. she was a champion when she was "getting married." no crying. no scowling at people looking at her, no collapsing. just delicate walking, a little smiling, and dropping of petals, one by one all the way down the aisle. cue huge relief and parental pride.
if you look closely, you can see eve's little leg and foot between the two bridesmaids she was walking with. and yes, that is what our area looked like by the end of the ceremony, anything to keep them entertained and quiet. we're really good picker-uppers.
the rest of the ceremony was beautiful too. and jackie, who i don't have a decent picture of (what was i thinking?), was even more gorgeous than usual.
easily in the top five of reception locations i've been to. softly rolling green lawns, distinguished trees, slow river, white planked and black shuttered beautiful historic home. . . the timing was perfect; close of day. long shadows, orange glowing light dancing on the water, making everyone look young and serene. and the celebration itself was so friendly and fun. toasts and toasts and more toasts, yummy food, yummier cupcakes. and a lot of the dancing by all- especially eve, who is apparently a hard core party girl when dresses and strong beats are involved. i loved every bit of it.
note to self: weddings are fancy. everyone will be wearing a lot of shimmery flowy fabric with bare skin. don't choose a cotton, patch-pocketed dress that is appropriate for, let's say, a librarian. you'll always have to be modest, for sure, but patch pockets? come on, katie.
saratoga springs racetrack
the glory of the weekend-long wedding celebration. woke up, had breakfast with everyone in the hotel then headed for more fun at the race track. collared shirts required for men, dresses not required but fun for women. no betting for us (although the ones with pink were getting eve's votes) but we had a great time eating and watching the races and the people who had put money down. and i loved seeing so many ladies all fancied up, big hat, heels, and all.
after the track we said adios to the happy couple and started driving north. lake george was our target and we figured we'd find a motel or campground somewhere around there for the night. we settled on bolton's landing, located on the north end of lake george. a little more calm and charming than lake george proper. but if mini-golf is your thing and you like an assortment of your typical zany-themed courses to choose from, then that little town is your paradise.
we found a motel with a pool, a gorgeous view of the lake and a ridiculous nightly rate. but, it had one of the few "vacancy" signs up so we committed. about two minutes after doing so the neon "no" lit up. grocery store, local park, tv and fun in the room and our private porch.
11am rolled in and we rolled out. up route 9N. then west on route 8 a few hundred feet to the teeny tiny town of hague, ny. less than 10 buildings visible, all charming in their distinctly adirondack way. we caught breakfast at "the uptown." we caught it on its last open day of the year (summer only, i love it and want to have a place like that of my own someday) so the house was crowded. we were given the outside area which was perfect for our misbehaving girls. they could run and jump and watch the water in the brooke without disturbing anyone other than chip and i. (do you see that brooke? the water and rocks look just like a trout's skin). ruth still managed to break a glass, but she wouldn't be true to herself if that didn't happen at least once a month.
after our hearty and really good meals, we pet the pretty and eerily calm dog, wandered around the little town and its three shops, came close to buying the wolf rug just for the weirdness value of that in our brooklyn apartment, then headed over on rte 8.
all the way over on 8 (spectacular drive past beautiful lakes) and up on 9 for a bit and we made it to "natural bridges". i don't really know what to say about this place. it was crowded, there were some enormous geodes on display (which you an always count on me being impressed by) a lovely stream, a treasure-hunt-ish walk through big rock formations, the largest marble cave opening in all of north america, a gift shop full of rock themed crap and several caveman statues. i loved it. eve seemed most impressed by "that man with the really big panties" but neither she nor ruth were fans on the dark cave with the loud underground river.
"the adirondack's best kept secret" according to a friendly lifeguard we met on the beach. i'm always up for a "best kept secret." (i used to live in brooklyn's best kept secret- just ask the old people in my neighborhood who wear sweatshirts with the saying "windsor terrace; brooklyn's best kept secret" on them.) i don't know how secret this place is, but it is really really pretty. we found a campground with an opening, set up the tent and went to the little nearby town for pizza. eve practiced stacking the salt and pepper shakers. we ate our mediocre pizza then found a drive-in movie theatre 30 minutes south and watched the bourne supremacy. the girls slept while chip and i sat in the crowded lot with a speaker hanging in our window enjoying the show. perfect movie to see in theatre . . . or in-car. then it was
back to the campsite where we all stayed fully clothed, laid down on one wool blanket and covered all of us with the other. it was a cold night, the ground was hard and we were on an incline. if the girls weren't such angels, it could have been a really terrible night.
the long road home
we like to meander while driving and the girls are really great travellers, so we took about eight hours getting home (it took 4.5 to get up there). down route 9. we stopped for pony rides for the girls (i don't recommend this place. eve got a better ride last year on eastern parkway during the west indies day parade. isn;t there a rule somewhere that says people guiding kids on pony rides and taking money from eager parents have to smile at least once?). but the horse's name was "magic" which eve was pretty impressed by. later along rte 9 we stopped again for some hot dogs, ice cream and a view of the trickle that is the northen fork of the hudson river. napped near the rocky scanandaga river and made our way out of the adirondacks, through the catskills and the hudson river valley. drove around the grounds of the grounds of the vanderbilt mansion, stopped at a 50s-ish diner, checked out local roads, homes and views of the river in rhinecliff, then over the taconic parkway and back into the city that is our home.
a good labor day weekend.
this is my take-home from the trip:
empire state, i owe you an apology. i've always compared you to my beautiful california and breathtakingly rugged oregon without ever giving you a chance to show me your beauties. and i'm sorry. because now, after living in your boundaries for more than six years, i'm truly blown away by how gorgeous you are. the lush, undulating, lake-sprinkled landscape of the adirondacks. the miles and miles and miles of pristine countryside. the green, lush landscape that leads my thoughts to quiet and peace and tenderness and images of a contented farmer. the beautiful, low mountains and gorgeous homes of the catskill mountains. the incredible vistas over the hudson river, with all its charming history. oh new york. i love you. you're not my first love or my true love, but i love you. . .you and fun weddings where my girl in the cutest flower girl in the universe.
wow. if you made it through that, you deserve a prize. maybe a geode of your very own. but if your eyes turned glassy when you saw all these words and you just looked at the pictures, i'm still impressed that you've scrolled down to read the last line.
finally heaved myself out of the recent sewing slump and made some long-awaited (by eve) backpacks for the girls today. i used the backpack pattern from lotta jansdotter's simple sewing book, with some adjustments. the most major; re-sizing for toddler and little girl.
i love making these girls match. let's hope they don't hate me for it later.
ruth will soon be getting an "r" on hers. my earlier machine "r" attempts turned out badly, so i'll be doing a little hand embroidery this weekend. or maybe some applique. . . what'll it be, what'll it be?
first things eve HAD to put in her backpack: skirt, pants, shirt, panties and a little monkey.
things eve HAD to carry in her backpack for the maiden voyage outside: the treats, a car and a lion.
ruthie could not have cared less about the contents in her bag. she was just pumped that "ru batbat lite e!" (ruth's backpack like eve's)
with the awkward amount of fabric i have left, i think a hat and tote incorporating herringbone tweed will soon emerge.
laundry monday usually takes place in our own little apartment. to be exact, in the corner of my kitchen/entryway where my washer and dryer are cleverly hidden behind cabinetry. but, not today. today my washer is broken. after $70 paid for a service call, it has been kind-of decided that my washer's main circuit board needs replacing. happily, i'm still (barely) under the 2 year warranty for parts so i'll only have to throw down another $125 for labor of the replacement, and hope the problem is actually solved.
in the mean time (7-10 business days) i'm back to the laundromat. the first time on four years. my all time favorite laundromat is in the old neighborhood (windsor terrace) and owned by the friendliest (in a kind of harsh, very loud way) man from ghana named robert. robert will forever hold a special place in my heart for helping me the first week of living in brooklyn. the week i made chip call the university of iowa for a transfer application to their MFA painting program. . . but, robert's place is just too far, so today i tried out my local "bubbleworks." i went the cop-out route; dropped off all the laundry for them to wash, dry and deliver to me nicely folded tomorrow. if i had known they also pick up, i would have saved myself a sore shoulder and several ounces of sweat, but i would have missed out on all the fun of the return trip home using this basket/hamper (which i think is one of my favorite possessions):
eve was in heaven. getting all the comments and smiles from people on the street sweetened the deal and i think she actually smiled at some strangers. it was much more fun to have a 25lb girl on my back than the 40+ lbs of laundry i carried there.
here's to clean laundry folded by someone else and backpack/baskets that provide years of entertainment and practical use.
it's good to have a camera again. once i sort through the 600 pictures i came home with this weekend, i'll share about all the goodness of a dear firend's wedding and the beauties of upstate new york. i know, you can't wait.
a show i watched a lot when i was younger. probably as a re-run directly following afternoon cartoons. i don't remember much about the show (blonde hair, big bosoms, cool shades the most prominent). but i do remember the immense satisfaction i felt with the fact that my initials were the exact same as the radio station's, minus the "w." in fact, it was even a source of pride for 8-year-old me. anytime the show came up in conversation, (which my memories lead me to believe happened fairly frequently. although thinking about that now, it seems just weird for 8 year olds to be discussing that show ever) i was always very quick to point out the fact that my initials were KRP. i mean, i practically was that radio station. it must have been impressive because i was really proud of that for a long time.
and even still, there remains a strange little flutter of something, some tiny little residual surge of that pride, whenever i am reminded of the show. of course, i'm only reminded of it about once every six years (a fact i consider a good reflection on my life). but last night chip flew to cincinatti for work. naturally, i had my weird 8 year-old pride and the little theme song and jingle running through my head all yesterday afternoon. today i'll be making up different words to the song and trying to get the girls to sing along. by tuesday, eve will be telling me she doesn't like that song anymore. i'll agree, but won't be able to stop myself from singing it over and over and over until chip finally gets home. at that point i'll be completely disgusted by it and ready for the burial. . . but deep down inside that little bit of pride will swell as i lay the song to rest. and maybe in six years when eve is 9 and ruthie almost 8, (the perfect ages, if my memories aren't completely fabricated) i'll tell eve and ruth all about my ridiculous and secret glory, that i was once KRP. just like the pretend radio station in a tv sitcom that aired 30+ years earlier. then they'll know how cool i really am.