Posts Tagged ‘summer vacation’

pecos yellow (one), first in a series of yellow flowers from the Pecos Mountains, July 24, 2008, photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

There has been a spate of articles lately about how gas prices and the state of the economy in general are forcing many Americans to spend summer vacation at home or close to home this year. There’s even a term for it: staycation.

I guess my family qualifies as stay-at-home vacationers. During one of my two weeks off from work, we managed to keep our miles down to a mere 300, all spent right here in our very own Land of Enchantment.

Here are highlights from our “trip-ette” and some of the ways we cut costs:

  • “Flower-watching” in the mountains (although we didn’t have guide nor guidebook to tell us the names of the flowers).
  • The girls made “$aver-enirs” by collecting tree sap, letting it melt in the sun, then forming the sap into objects.
  • We took Jim’s childhood boat out for a cruise along the river.
  • Used the swimming hole at Pancheula Creek (and swam in our clothes so we wouldn’t have to splurge on new swimsuits this season).
  • Harvested and sautéed exotic fungus (a puffball mushroom, not pictured), although I refrained from sampling any in the event it turned out to be poisonous; designated driver rule.
  • Weiners and buffalo burgers on the grill.
  • Fancy s’mores for dessert every night.
  • Antique collecting.
  • Fossil hunting.
  • Simulated day-spa (i.e., reading an entire memoir in one sitting while lying under blankets the day it rained, a fire glowing in the wood-burning stove).

Where did you go for your summer vacation?

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First, Rafael.

Oh, there’s the human taking my picture. Lemme give him this profile.

Oh no, my schauze looks big in that one. This side’s more flattering.

Wait, what am I thinking? Straight ahead is always the most dignified.

Next, Otis.

I’m here to save the day! Aha! I knew he’d love my Rin-Tin-Tin.

Finally, Sony.

Sony of the River. Strong, fast, deep. Wait, why don’t I get to stand in the meadow?

Way better. Man, mountain grass is good. Purple asters and daisies…yum-my!

I LOVE the mountains. Please, Mom, please, please can we move here??

Rafael, Otis, and Sony in the Pecos Mountains on July 22-24, all taken by Jim except for last two, photos © 2008 by Jim or ybonesy. All rights reserved.

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Pink, a flower in Mom’s garden (if you know the name of this flower, please let me know), photo © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Fifteen minutes, What I like about summer…

Another fifteen minutes, What I don’t like about summer…

Or, a haiku on summer vacation.

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My girls came back today after a week at sleepaway camp in the mountains. The camp is run by an exuberant camp director whose father was a camp director and whose cousins and friends help put on the week’s activities. The counselors are young, hip (some have goatees, others wear pink hair and striped leggings for pants), and wise beyond their years. The instructors teach African dance, world beat drumming, a form of martial arts I’ve never heard of done with sticks, a writing method called Wild Words, sketchbook art, yoga, and “medicine trail” hikes to learn about the healing powers of plants.

This is Dee’s third year attending, Em’s second. After spending an afternoon watching my girls and their camp-mates read their own poetry and play “Here Comes the Sun” on guitar, after hearing the rhythm of their drumming and seeing their dances and yoga poses, I am once again blown away by what an inspirational experience this camp is. Every child there, it seemed, was glowing.

This is so unlike my own childhood camp experience. The one and only sleepaway camp I attended was a Girl Scout-sponsored event in the mountains. I went with my best friend, Lori. Being that her sister Nita was a camp counselor, we felt heady, like we had an “in” with the staff. My main creative memory was of Nita teaching us the words and dance moves to a ditty called “Chiquita Banana.” It went:

I’m a Chi-quita ba-na-na and I’m here to say
ba-na-nas are grown in a special way.
Ba-na-nas are grown in the south e-qua-tor
so don’t put them in your, umph, umph (here you thrust your pelvis)

My most vivid other memory is of the camp head, a woman with set-and-dry hair who dressed in an adult version of the Girl Scout green jumper, admonishing me and Lori for cutting up during mess hall duties. She told us we were not welcome at camp again, nor for that matter to Girl Scouts, period. (We might have done a bit more than slop around food; I think we got caught smoking cigarettes with Lori’s sister, although I’m a bit fuzzy on that part.)

How things have changed! The camp director today explained that the theme for Dee and Em’s camp this summer was “Look to this day.” He said the phrase came from an old Sufi poem. The spirit of the poem, he said, had been woven into each facet of camp teachings. Tonight I looked it up so I might better understand what he meant. I found this version on oldpoetry.com:

Look to this day
For it is life, the very life of life.
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence.
The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendour of achievement
Are but experiences of time.

For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow is only a vision;
And today well-lived, makes
Yesterday a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day;
Such is the salutation to the ever-new dawn!

I asked Dee and Em if there was anything from camp they would like to post on red Ravine. Dee picked out something she wrote in Wild Words. Both also wanted to share a couple pieces of art, which I’ll do this week under separate posts. For now I’ll sign off with Dee’s poem:  

by Dee

Look to this day
Live in this moment
Now is all yours to own
Then is but a memory
When is still to come
Control what you have now
Now is all that matters
Look to this day

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Poster of Actors World, painting by Dee, ybonesy 2007, all rights reservedThe girls are off for the summer. This morning I head out the door for work. “Whaaat?,” they cry, “Whereyagoin??” I tell them I have to go to work. “Wer-erk?, but it’s summer!!”

This happens every time they don’t have school. Presidents Day, Fall Break, snow days, teachers’ in-service. In their minds, all the world revolves around school.

I wish it did. I wish when I woke up today all I had to look forward to was figuring out whether I should ride my bike to the library or stay at home and organize my room. I’d love to live by the school calendar. I did once. Sort of.

About three years ago I got a sabbatical from work. Two months paid time off in addition to my regular vacation. I piled it all together and took the summer off with Dee. (Em wasn’t in school yet.) That’s the summer I taught Dee how to do writing practice. We sat together on a squishy blue sofa in a cafe near our house and wrote on topics like, The Rio Grande for 10, GO!

Purple and green, painting by Dee, ybonesy 2007, all rights reservedThat’s also the summer I realized how good Dee was, how good we all are when we don’t have a monkey in our heads telling us otherwise. Dee showed me what beginner’s mind was.

Now she writes all the time. And paints, too. Writing and painting journals fill her shelves. She leaves homemade books lying around the house with illustrated stories about horses and girls and fairies. Em is starting to write, too. I’ve just realized she’s probably at the age where I can teach her writing practice as well.

Now that the days are lighter later, we can pull out our paints or pens after work and practice together. Just the girls. Not as great as having the entire summer off, but pretty darned good.

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