Sunday, July 8, 2012

A Sister Moment

My husband and I were married on a beach in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.  My sister is visiting right now and we were laughing about one of the funniest moments of the trip.  Our wedding rehearsal dinner was held at a Mexican restaurant in town.  We had two long tables full of friends and family.  Of course, there was a lot of drinking which excluded no one.  My uncles were buying me shots of tequila and after the third one my grandma cut me off.  She reminded me that I wanted to look beautiful the next day for all the photos.  This was fine by me since I was already buzzed.

When dinner was over, my friends and soon to be husband walked down the street to keep partying.  My sister and I caught a taxi back to our hotel.  As we walked into the hotel lobby, Heather looked into a mirror hanging on the wall and proclaimed, "Where did I get this hat from?!"  She was referring to the rather large sombrero on her head.  I was laughing even before I could answer "You took it off the wall at the restaurant."

I don't know where that sombrero ended up but it will always be one of my favorite memories from that week in Mexico.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Andy Griffith Show

I find myself whistling the Andy Griffith Show theme song today.  Earlier today, July 3, 2012, it was announced that Andy Griffith passed away.  He was an big part of my tv upbringing.  My mom has always loved the Andy Griffith show.  I don't remember watching a lot of tv growing up.  One of the shows that was regularly on was the Andy Griffith Show.  Each episode began with the whistle song.  I remember it was a game to see if you could whistle the whole thing.

Andy, Opie, Aunt Bee, Barney Fife and the town of Mayberry will always be in my heart.  I will have to find some of the black and white episodes to show to my children.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Middle School Dances

Not too sure what triggered this memory last night but I was thinking about the school dances I went to in Middle School.  I had already attended one year of Middle School in Portsmouth, Rhode Island.  It was a school that housed 5-8 graders.  The 5th graders were not allowed to attend school dances there.  We moved to Dumfries, Virginia between the 5th and 6th grades.  There I was enrolled in Graham Park Middle School.  

The dances were held in the school gym and we could also walk out into a large hallway area just outside that was lighted.  Every dance was always attended by a group of friends, usually of the same sex.  We would huddle together and talk about the boys who were always huddled close by.  There were bets to go ask boys to dance especially if the girls knew you had a crush on someone.  Boys and girls would scuddle back and forth across the gender line to relay messages and encourage trouble.  I have one memory of talking to a guy named Robert and telling him that a girl named Heather liked him and that he should ask her to dance.  By the 8th grade we were much cooler.  We sometimes even hung out in boy/girl groups.

I remember when the Electric Slide became really big.  There was one dance where only a hand full of people knew how to do the dance.  By the next dance, everyone had learned and the gym was full of kids doing the electric slide.  It was a lot easier to dance when everyone was dancing so you did not have to worry about people watching.

It is really funny looking back and thinking about what a big deal school dances were at that age.  Now, if we are somewhere (usually weddings) I can't wait to get my booty shaking.  There are no gender lines anymore.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father-Daughter Camping Trips

My family instituted a yearly father-daughter camping trip when I was 11 and my sister was 7 years old.  I am pretty sure of our ages because we had just moved to Northern Virginia for the first time.   I think the trips had two purposes.  First, my Dad would get some bonding time with his girls.  Second, my Mom would get some time to herself.

One of the trips we took was a camping trip in the Shenandoah Mountains.  It was probably a long weekend during the summer.  We went on hiking trips and attended a campfire program by one of the rangers.  I also remember a lot of fun on a bouldering hike.  We went on the same hike years later and the boulders that seemed so large the first time looked small.

Another trip I remember was to the Northern Neck area of Virginia.  This is a peninsula to the east of Fredericksburg, Virginia.  We visited the plantation in Popes Creek where George Washington was born.  The home was very typical of mansions from the time period.  There was a large hallway down the middle of the house that led from front to back.  There were rooms off to each side of the hallway.  We also drove out to the nearby Potomac River.  It is very wide in this section as it is close to the Chesapeake Bay.

Some father-daughter trips were just me and my dad.  While I was in high school, we lived in Novato, California.  One of the trips we took was a weekend to Yosemite.  Our trip was almost thwarted before it began.  My mom had taken our van to run an errand before we left.  She had car trouble and called us from a gas station.  Thankfully, there was a car parts place close to where she pulled over.  My dad and I met her there and switched cars.  We stayed and replaced the bad hoses.

We drove that afternoon towards Yosemite and stayed at a place just outside the park limits.  Very early in the morning we drove into the park and hit the trail head at 5:30 in the morning.  Our objective was the top of Half Dome.  We lost count of the many switchbacks above Little Yosemite Valley.  In the saddle at the bottom of the cables was a large pile of gloves that others had left.  You tried some on until you found ones that fit but they probably did not match.  The final push up the cables was exhilarating and scary all at the same time.  The steel cables run up the slick side of Half Dome.  About every 15 feet there is a 2 x 4 bolted to the rock to give you something to climb against.  The view from the top was worth every vertical foot we had climbed.  I was nervous about how high we were so when I went to look over the edge I crawled on my hands and knees.  Man is it a long way down!!  We enjoyed a nice picnic lunch before heading back down. The hike back down went quickly and we were back in the car about 3 pm for the drive home to the Bay Area.  Before we left the park, there was one necessary stop.  I had to get a "I Made It To The Top" shirt from the Yosemite store!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Camp Huckins - A Summer Dream

While we lived in Rhode Island, I got to attend summer camp at Camp Huckins in New Hampshire.  We found out about the summer camp from one of my best friends.  Her cousin had attended.  A great way to describe Camp Huckins is the summer camp in the movie "The Parent Trap".  It was two weeks away from your family in a little white cabin.  The cabins were grouped into three areas that housed different age groups (Juniors, Middlers, and Seniors).  

I got to attend Camp Huckins three consecutive summers.  The first year was after 3rd grade.  My parents bought me a little black trunk to pack my things in.  Each cabin housed 2 camp counselors and 8 or 12 girls in bunk beds.  I want to remember the counselors being high school students or maybe college students.  Each morning started with a bugle call.  We had to make our beds and clean our cabin each morning.  The cabin received a score each day after inspection.  The cabin with the highest score each week won a prize.

After breakfast in the mornings, there was organized activities.  Some of the activities I remember include in-ground trampolines, tennis, field hockey, archery, BB guns, horse lessons, water ski lessons, sailing, canoeing, CPR lessons, and art classes.

Afternoons had a mandatory rest period after lunch for your food to settle.  After rest time was about 3 hours of open time.  One of my favorite things to do in the afternoon was time in the lake.  The swim area had two roped sections.  The first square was more shallow.  There was a wide lane that went around the inner square that had several diving boards at different heights.  It was a big deal to be able to go in the outer area.  You had to pass a test to tread water with your hands out of the water for 2 minutes.  The reason for this is that there were timed intervals where everyone had to stop swimming for a head count.  You had to be able to hold your hands up for the count.  I remember practicing in a pool before camp to make sure that I could pass the test.

There were programs at night.  I remember going to a program called Vespers.  Sometimes the night program would be a contest such as which cabins in each age group could come up with the best dance routine.  I also remember dances.  They would bus the boys in from the camp across the lake for a boys/girls dance.  Of course none of us ever danced together.  We would huddle on our respective sides of the room and talk about being brave enough to talk to a boy.

One of the best parts of the day was eating.  There was a large cafeteria.  Each cabin sat together at their table and the tables were arranged by age group.  Breakfast was usually a quiet meal with everyone just getting going.  After lunch and dinner there was always singing.  An age group or the whole room would stand up on the seats of their cafeteria tables and belt it out.  Each age group had a song.  I can still remember the Middlers song - M-I-double D-L-E-R-S spells Middlers, Middlers.  We are always in the Middle, Middle.  Some of us are big and some are little, little. M-I-double D-L-E-RS spells us. Looking back one of the funniest songs we sang was "Joy to the World" by Three Dog Night (affectionately known as Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog).

My last summer at Camp Huckins was after the fifth grade.  I got to attend even though we were moving to Virginia that summer.  I have wonderful memories of going to camp.   I hope that I will be able to send my kids to camp when they reach the same age as I was.

Buns the Bunny

The first pet that I had was a bunny named Buns.  My mom brought him home one day to the house we lived in Huntington Beach.  I was probably five years old at the time.  Buns had a great life.  He did not live in a cage.  He got to have the entire backyard.  I did not get to hold Buns a lot because it was very difficult to catch him.  He was white with lots of brown spots.  When we moved to Rhode Island Buns did not come with us. My mom found a great home for him with my Kindergarten/1st Grade Teacher, Ms. Holmes.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Our First Move Across Country

I missed the end of the first grade at my elementary school in Huntington Beach, California.  We were busy moving from California to Rhode Island.  My dad served 30 years in the Coast Guard.  He had just served several years on board the Big Red icebreaker.  That ship would be gone for six months at a time traveling to Antarctica to break ice.  My dad had received orders to be part of a shipyard that was building Coast Guard Cutters in Newport Rhode Island.  

Our move was definitely an adventure.  I want to say that we spent at least 4 weeks driving across country.  Our full size red conversion van was a great way to travel.  We each got to have one clothes basket of our own clothes for the trip.  We also had other clothes baskets with things like towels and other camping necessities.  They would get stacked against the one side of the van and fastened down with a bungee cord.  We also had at least one ice chest that traveled in the van.  It was great because there was still a lot of space for us to play on the floor of the van while my dad drove (again, this was before seat belts were required legally and in our car.).

I remember visiting so many places on this trip.  Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks stick out in my mind.  We also camped at Yellowstone National Park.  Being little, I did not want to leave the Old Faithful Geyser but was happy to get out of the areas that stunk of sulphur.  

We visited my mom's brother and his family in Colorado Springs.  There was a tornado that passed by one of the days we were there.  One of my mom's other brothers had towed my mom's corvette to Colorado Springs for us.  It was the kind of corvettes that had glass t-tops.  Somehow my dad and uncle managed to squeeze the car into the garage with his car.  It was a good thing because the hail was so large it left dents in the top of the van.  We had to go down in the basement and I was the only one who cried.  I didn't really understand what was going on but just knew that it was bad.  We were all fine and I got another first on my list - tornado sirens.  We hooked the car trailer onto the van and kept driving across country

I also remember staying with family friends who were living in Kentucky or Tennessee (fuzzy memory here).  We visited an underground cave there which was super cool.  I saw my first fireflies at their house and was amazed at how they glow.  

I think that we also made a stop at my dad's cousin's house outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  I remember while driving over a bridge very near their house there was a large popping sound that came from the car trailer.  My dad had been closing the metal handle when we reattached the trailer after camping but did not put a padlock on the handle.  As we crossed the bridge, a bump in the road had made the handle pop open.  My dad was totally freaked out because if he had not pulled over it was possible for the trailer to bounce out of the hitch and off the van.  The first thing he did was go buy a padlock to lock that handle in place.

The most dramatic moment of the trip was when my mom left our family for an hour at a rest stop in the middle of nowhere South Dakota.  My sister and I had been bickering all day and my mom had just had enough.  As soon as we pulled up, my mom got out of the car and walked to the table furthest away.  After about 5 minutes, I remember asking my dad if we could go say hi.  He wisely steered us in the opposite direction.  After about an hour, my mom was ready to be trapped in the car with us again.  Now that I have my own small kids, I totally understand what happened that day.  I am so happy that she got back in the car!

I learned how to read maps on this trip.  My dad could not read the map and drive at the same time.  My mom was usually busy with us kids in the back so I volunteered to help.  My dad taught me the basics of what the different lines meant and the little numbers between locations.  I became the official family navigator for our family.  Today, it does not surprise me that I would do this.  Not only do I still love maps, my family calls me the human map.  If I go somewhere, I can usually get back to the same place without looking it up on a map.  

Our trip ended with a stay at Joe and Marge's house in Groton, Connecticut.  Joe was my mother's stepfather's brother.  They lived across the river from the Coast Guard Academy.  I thought their house was so cool because it had 2 stair cases.  One started at the front door.  The other staircase was located in the family room at the back of the house.  The two staircases met at a small landing that lead to the upstairs hallway.  Another strong memory was Uncle Joe's snoring.  It was like a stereo was on.  We stayed at their house for about two weeks before our rental house was available.