No Bake Cookies

Staring out my big window at the trees surrounding my Happy Camper. I have been so busy the last couple of weeks I haven’t had time to think, much less write. I have spent a lot of time with friends from school and family, and last night something very nice happened to me.

There wasn’t much to rave about when it came to school lunches back when I was in school. You ate what you could choke down, and hoped that Friday was grilled cheese and tomato soup. One bright feature was the cookies for desert and my favorite was the No Bake Oatmeal Cookies.

I had a friend, whom I lost track of back then, named Sandy. I remember her as fun and happy and easy to get along with. We shared our love of the No Bakes and she said her Mom had the recipe and wanted to know if I wanted it! Well, yeah!

I took it home to Mom and that recipe became a family favorite and a Christmas tradition! All these years later, we still make those cookies and I always think of Sandy when I make them!

Fast forward fifty years! Because my friends and I frequent Charlestown State Park we have gotten to know many of the staff and specifically, Craig on security. Very nice young man, who doesn’t mind chatting with us three old ladies every time we are docked at the park!

Last night, sitting around the picnic table with my brother Greg, his wife Cindy, and friend Margie, Craig stopped by to say hello. As things do, in a small town, conversation got around to “where you live”, “who’s your Daddy”, “where’d you grow up”, and Craig was filling in all the gaps and family names when he revealed his Mother’s name was Sandy.

“Whoa!” I began to ask questions, and it sounded like the Sandy I knew! Then I told him the story about the One Minute Oatmeal Cookies and BINGO! He said he knew the recipe by heart and they still made it. This was the Sandy I knew so long ago and lost track of! I always wondered what happened to her! She was Craig’s Mother!!

I asked him to remember me to her and tell her about the cookie recipe and how special it had become in my family. My eyes welled up, it was such a beautiful moment. Wow.

Time can be so tightly woven or wander off in all directions. Sandy is the second lost friend from grade school that I have found, Debbie G. was the first. Why certain people stay in your heart forever is a mystery to me, I just know these two girls got stuck there and I never forgot them.

Which Way is East?

Took a tour of Indiana University, Bloomington today! By accident.

Let’s face it, I do my best sightseeing trying to find my way to somewhere else! I must have driven ten miles to find the road to take me eight miles to my campground! Imagine me without a GPS . . . . . and yes, I WAS using it when I got the ticket in Michigan!

I was here in the ‘70s when I was at one of the IU satellite campuses in New Albany. My sorority sisters would find any excuse to come up to IU Bloomington, usually it was for a football game. Well, actually it was to drink alcohol in the dorms until we puked; but I did get to see Lee Corso at a game once, when everybody still liked him, and Mark Spitts after he won a bunch of Olympic gold medals for swimming.

While trailing around campus one night from dorm to dorm we found ourselves in the middle of a “coming out party”. There was music in the street and people dancing when suddenly we realized they were men dressed up like gaudy women! I am sure our eyes were as large as saucers, as we scampered away from THAT party! At the time, I don’t even know if we had a name for what we saw! We were just green teens from a little town in Indiana, shocked and giggling and “just passing through”!

The city of Bloomington has a cool upbeat vibe, square donuts, and Opie Taylor’s restaurant, and every business catering to the students. Young people walking hand-in-hand or holding earnest, intense conversations in street cafes. This summer evening the streets seem full of energy as people from all over the world stream pass me.

I wanted to call out, “Is East right or left from here??!” But I had a feeling they wouldn’t understand.

Together. Forever. Amen.

Teresa and Joe got married over 40 years ago. They were just babies. Today, their baby girl Bailey got married in a church North of Bloomington. His family is from Northern Indiana, hers from Southern Indiana so they held their wedding in the middle of the state. Bailey wore her mother’s wedding dress and looked just as beautiful as Teresa did so many years ago.

Janis and Alan were there too. Janis and Teresa grew up on next-door farms and it is interesting how their family’s stories have run parallel through the passage of time. All of us, except Joe, went to school together and shared lots of fun during and after graduation. (But that’s another story!) Janis and Alan sang to one another during their wedding, and I remember it bringing tears to my eyes.

Oh, what old people we make! Solid and confident and wise in what we have become. Nothing can rattle us now! But when I look at us I see us as we were in High School. I don’t think of us as any different now as we were then! Kids. We are still kids. . . . . . In our minds. (Heavy sigh.)

The wedding was almost as cute as my daughter’s! The room was filled with love for the Bride and Groom, and there are no words I could string together that would accurately describe the look of love, and pride, and hope I saw on the faces of Bailey’s Grandmother and Mother as they watched her glide around the dance floor.

I have to stop now, I suddenly have the need to hear my daughter’s voice!!

Mother Nature is Singing

“Hey, dude, turn your freaking music down! It is the middle of the forest, for God’s sake! Mother Nature is singing! Can’t you hear it? Why the freak did you come out to the woods and create your urban bedroom and ear pounding racket here?? Why not pitch your tent out on the sidewalk and crank it up where NO one will notice?”

Isn’t it enough that we have to hear it driving through town? Sometimes the bass so powerful I feel it in my ears before I hear it? The music is so distorted and indiscernible why not just have someone whack you upside the head at the same metronomic beat? Better yet, let ME do it!

The cicadas and locust are cha-cha-chaing, and crickets chirping along the tree line. A chipmunk and squirrel are battling over some bread I tossed out, and the little guy keeps barking at the big guy!

As I move south the thermometer creeps higher, looks like today will be hot and lazy. The beer I drank around the campfire last evening makes me feel sleep and lazy this morning. “To nap, or not to nap”, that is the weighty question!

When I worked and lived in the city with family and friends, coming to the woods made my ears feel funny for the first day or so. It was like my ear-drums were relaxing. The noise we assault our ears with on a daily basis goes unnoticed until we remove ourselves to someplace quiet. Our ears relax, our bodies and mind relax and we take on a more peaceful pace.

I love music, all kinds, my generation created Rock Music!! Buddy Holly, Elvis, Jan and Dean, the Beach Boys, Led Zepplin, Credence Clearwater Revival, Captain Hook, I can go on and on.

There is a time and a place for all music, and in those places where music is not appropriate – shove your gosh damn ear buds in your ears – or up your butt . . . . . which is where I would love to shove this guy’s boom box. . . . .

Of Saints and Campers

My new friends pulled out of the park for the season. Sad face. I keep the idea in mind that I am hFeatured imageappy to have met them and spent some time with them. Most appreciated is all of the laughs they gave me free of charge!

I appreciate the guys helping me out of some possible disasters, giving me guy only insights about the mechanical aspects of my trailer and truck, and including me in conversations.

Jan, George and their granddaughter, Jay, are gems in my traveling box of treasures! Jan and George are part of the Grandparental Saints who are raising their grandchildren. God help the children if they weren’t there to love and guide them. I know a bunch of these Saints!

“Campers are the nicest people in the world” some people have told me. My Dad used to say that, but I am just finding that American people are the nicest people! I know there are evil people and desperate folks who have to victimize others for the sake of survival, but outside of that environment, like Anne Frank, “I still believe people are really good at heart”.

Karma

Most of the weekenders have pulled out and God has given us another beautiful day!

Two days in a row I had an early wakeup call from the five hyperactive little boys in the next camp. How one child can scream that loud I will never know, and why their mothers weren’t drinking heavily I don’t know either. Five boys between two women was a bit much, and all of them but one was under ten.

This morning they were breaking camp, at about 7:30, which should be illegal, however, they were tossing tent poles and camper stuff and waking the whole area up at this ungodly hour.

Yesterday I saw a cute little video about a man who kicks a cat and the cat runs up the stairs and knocks a plant over on his head. Karma.

The noisy campers were leaving and as they bounced over the speed bump in front of my camper the ball coupler jumped off the ball on the truck. Luckily she had chains. As she braked the truck the camper continued over the bump and slid up under the truck. The gas tanks slowed the camper, the truck hitch slamming into the front end of the camper stopped it. This caused a LOT of racket.

Karma? hhhmmm. I don’t know. Could I laugh at the irony of it? No. I have done the same thing myself. I got the ball latch on top of the ball rather than under it, and the camper came loose on Lee Hamilton Highway on my way to camping. I was able to get it to the side of the road. The chains are all that saved me from possibly hurting someone else. I was lucky I didn’t damage the trailer, I just broke the gas tank coupler.

After being angry with all their racket and noise, I felt a little sorry for her as she drove off to face her husband. In true American Camper fashion the fellow campers pitched in to get her back on the road and safe. All I could offer was, “Yep, done the same thing myself.”

The mystifying question about her calamity was it happened right in front of Jason the witness to ALL of my silly mistakes.

What kinda Karma is that??

A Master Piece

I visited Shipshewana, Indiana, on Tuesday to specifically be there when the flea market was open. On my previous visit, not only was it raining but I missed the flea market by a day. The flea market has little of the flavor the local shop owners pervade, however, as flea markets go it is excellent! It was a very hot, sunny day and I only made it three quarters of the way through before I was just worn down. I got my truck from the flea market parking lot, drove over to the restaurant and had a very nice late lunch.

Returning to my truck I saw the “It’s A Masterpiece” shop across the street. I had enjoyed swopping stories with the son of the artist, and hoped to see him again. I got another treat this time, I got to meet the artist, Mary Master.

As with her son we talked about her husband’s Alzheimer’s, and the heavy burden this terrible disease puts upon the victim’s families. And the incredible sadness it brings.

She looked younger than I imagined, but time and worry was still etched upon her face. She had a wonderful smile, and so unjudgmental, as her son had been, when we spoke about our cultures and the differences. Kevin had told me about “the trail of death” and she and I spoke about the local controversy regarding renaming the Goshen High School from “Red Skins” to something more ethnically sensitive.

She asked if I knew what “Red Skins” really meant, and I said “No.” She said it refers to a time when the government offered a bounty for Indian Scalps. The Scalps of men, women and children would still be bloody when the whites took them in to collect their bounty, hence the term “Red Skins.”

The mental image was so appalling, and all I could say was, “I’m sorry, never knew.”