Thursday, September 13, 2012

Summer Clump

So in deciding on this post's title, what I really wanted it to be was Summer Schlump.  As in, schlumping everything together in one big post, and in a "lazy summer" kind of way.  But i looked it up and it doesn't at all mean what i feel like it does.  What it does mean: A slow, slovenly, or inept person.  

And then I was choosing the first picture and realized that schlump would go quite well with it.  I don't know what happened but either I or my cursor suddenly went berserk. Whichever it was, it made it look like I don't know how to type or use words, and it made me laugh:


And as you can see, it gave me a list of what it thought i wanted, which was a list of summer reads of beasts.   Because why wouldn't i search for that? I want to read what the beasts are reading!  Oh man, so funny.  Anyway, in case you're wondering,  here's what i read this summer, if i can remember:

1. Tina Fey's book, Bossypants2. Mindy Kaling's book, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?  (<-- this one was funnier. Sorry, Tina)
3. The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
4. Unbroken, a tale of survival and something something else... (best book ever)
5. I think a couple of Babysitter Clubs
6. Going Solo by R. Dahl
7. Divergent, by Veronica Roth

Sometimes I think I might be ok living outside of NYC if I had a panoramic view Manhattan on my wall or something.  And it's not like i looove those buildings (or even know what they are) and it's not like i even want to go into the city all the time.  But whenever I look upon it, I am shocked at its hugeness. It's just ridiculously enormous and stretches to lengths never heretofore matched by another city,as far as I'm concerned.  And I guess when i look at it I think of experiences i've had that directly relate to the New York'ness of living here--Brooklyn included, though the Brooklyn skyline doesn't have the same effect on me. (Go clock tower! -- shout out)  It's become a symbol of so much, and it gives me great pleasure in a rather poignant way to do simple things, like go for a ride/push on the swings, with that as my backdrop.

What else did our summer include? Well, random field trips, like visiting Delicious Orchards in NJ, thanks to this girl! We loved it! So quaint, so country.  So so so many delectable goodies and a grocery store with full-sized carts and apple fritters TDF.  Thank you thank you for that recommendation. We've been back at least two more times. 

Also, a concert for kids at the Madison Square Park.  SO fun.  I loved it insanely more than I thought i would.  Outstanding.  

Once upon a swamp of July,
On a sweaty walk we passed by,
These summer skates cast off in vain,
In bitter fear summer would e'er remain.
"No!" I ached and yearned to shout.
"Believe that cold will come again!"
But no one was there to hear my refrain.
"Believe! Believe! I have to believe it too..."  my small voice withered away,
At ice skates in grass, their tomb as they lay.
And lest I fell and joined its splay,
I pressed the stroller and went my way.
Cool air will come again, one day. Cool air will come again, one day. 

I call this next picture "The Attack of So Many Things"

Moving on, last year we went to the New York State Fair. It was awesome and gigantic, a 5-6 hour drive up north to Syracuse.   This year we kind of stumbled on the New Jersey State Fair which was straight up magical.  Tucked into the emerald isle-like hills of northern NJ, the fair was remote, not much around it, with dewy air and concentrated magic, like a lush fairgrounds snow globe (dew globe?)  It took 1.5 hours, if that, to get there, and when we did, it was on the end of a very rainy day.  We contemplated not even going but considering the alternative, a lame day at home, we thought, NO! let's go for it.

So we did.  And when we arrived, few were there.   We parked on the grassy hill, which is so great to me, digging up fair and festival memories of my country suburban youth, and we walked around in drizzly weather eating fancy pudding, looking at geese and chickens and pigs and crafts until the rains stopped whereupon we immediately rode the ferris wheel which felt like this:

And the view from which looked like this:

The ride operators were classic fair. I don't even know what that means but they were just as I feel they should be. Odd, a little bit scruffy, a little bit wild.   

Here we are with some wood cut-outs.  I guess i'm a turkey? About to eat myself?? I don't know what this means but it's a little disturbing, but mostly fun--the best kind.  Secretly, i really wanted to be the peacock but whatever, it's fine.

Julian and I went on a few rides, one of which was the Scary Worm.   I grew up loving roller coasters and amusement parks but I cannot do one cartwheel now without feeling completely 100% queased. (Also, i cannot do one cartwheel now.) This wiggle worm ride would constantly jiggle us up and down, up and down, and I managed ok, but i still can't shake the feeling that he should have a nose, though i know worms don't. Right?? Do they?  But something's just not right. But also, they don't have front arms either, do they??  I'm so confused.

Totally against these games, I relented to play one that guaranteed a prize, particularly because the fair grounds were a ghost town in the wet late afternoon.  Here we are fishing.  And Julian won a ball.

Listen. I love fair food. It's the best thing about the fair and this one was top notch.  But I had been having some tummy troubs that morning and that combined with the wiggle worm prevented me from completely piling on the grease. It's really unfortunate because it was seriously some high quality fare.  We did get our fancy pudding, and some tacos. And a milkshake and fries. All was tasty. We also got a picture of this jug o' sauce: 

We also went to a rodeo which I was pretty psyched about.  Hardly anyone stayed on for 8 seconds and that was a little disappointing, but I loved the feeling of being at a rodeo.  Even to type it feels good.  I never went to them when i was young and the contrast of it to my current life is astounding. 3 cheers for the country!

As you can guess and probably have experienced, nighttime at the fair is just... how do I say it without using "magical" again.  Dazzling. Marvelous. I can't do it. But it was a blissful experience and we were all enchanted and bedazzled.

Especially by the elephant that was giving RIDES (next time, Julian. Next time).

Fare thee well, fair.

I hadn't had enough beach time, and these days, I'm really a fan of staying at the beach vs. going on a day trip.  That way you can haul all your stuff to a hotel, rather than haul it to the beach. It makes sense. The fancy vacation destination? Atlantic City!  We had not been back since AC of '07 and we visited some of our old haunts, namely, the boardwalk, P.F. Chang's, and the shops in the hotels. Sadly since we had an underager in our company, we couldn't even go through the casinos. Talk about heartbreak.   But here are just a few pics.

Me and Julian at the all too classy Trump Plaza:

And the boys on the beach:

And apparently by "few" I actually mean "two."  Just two pictures. That's it.

Next up is our camping trip to, again, northern New Jersey.  As one summer was the Summer of the Avocado, I guess you could say this was the Summer of New Jersey.  (Also, Summer of Weird)  Welcome to High Point State Park, where we camped for two nights, made all of our food on the fire (LOVE), walked along green paths that felt like a tropical rain forest, and figured out what to do and how to be in just nature.  We didn't take too many pictures but here are some.

Each campsite was situated by the lake and each had a little trail going down to it.  Among the trees on the bank was a path that wound all the way around and that was where we would take our walks. This path was directly behind our site and we loved the little bridge and all the greenery.

Here is the view from my picnic bench seat:

It had just finished raining maybe an hour before we arrived, and maybe that was all it was, but this camping trip was different than any other i'd been on. It wasn't a wet trip, but it was so green.  And there were the most beautiful mushrooms and mosses i'd ever seen, and i've really had my eye out for mosses and mushrooms. Who doesn't?  I don't think we have any pictures of the moss which I regret because honestly, it was fantastic, and so varied! I never knew. And now i do, and i love it.  Here is a mosaic of all the mushrooms in their gloriousness:


Can you believe?! Neither could I! Neither...could...I.

In this next picture, this pathway was particularly rain foresty and I called it Fern Gully (ferns lined the pathway and there were mushrooms all over the place).  There is an up-rooted, tipped over tree there, do you see?

Here is a closer look at the underbelly where I'm pretty sure is where all the fairies live.

(mandatory camping bandana

Ok, one of my favorite things about camping is camp cooking.  We brought a pan, a pot, and did our best.  Sean found a loose grill thing at a nearby vacant campsite and that supported the pan very well.  I swear I could never be happier than I was while sitting in my chair, making eggs and hashbrowns in a pool of bacon grease.   Here are some pancakes Sean made which included some chocolate chips from our trail mix, and also some roasted marshmallow. 

I'm not done talking about the campfire.  We roasted the 'mallows but we also roasted other things. After I roasted a 'mallow, i would leave some goo on the stick and then add a half of a cherry. After roasting the cherry i'd slide it all off the stick and voila--cherry pie!  Know what else is pretty dang fire food? mini-milky ways.  If you can work it just right, the caramel will burn juuust a bit, giving your bite an ooey gooey chocolaty toffee experience, one i highly recommend.   We also made paninis and basically roasted everything but the mushrooms. Oh i love it.

Here is Julian on the path with the only thing you ever need in life: a good stick.

Father and son in the lily-pad strewn lake.  At one point I took off Julian's pants and shoes but left on his socks to sort of protect his feet in the mysterious lakebottom, which is pretty much how it should be.

Here is a photo of Julian making an important call.  At one point he shouted a bunch of numbers: "Seven! Eight-one!  One-teen!" 

He came to talk to me while i was lounging in the tent. Apparently I am quite the Chatty Cathy because he had to go get his chair and sit down.

And something went wrong when the cartoon world made its transition to real, a sparkly pink leaf left unchanged. 

Walking around the lake we would cross still waters that made little ponds or pools or baths, as we called them. I sat on the bridge and watched these two forge through one, making tentative steps among the weeds and fishes and critters at their ankles. 

And that was our camping experience. A+

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, here is how long my hair got this summer. I considered cutting it approximately 5,000 times and this is where I ended up, and now it's almost falltime and it never happened.  And isn't that how it always is?   Isn't that how it always is........ 



Joel said...

Every time you do one of these posts, I think, "Jen lives more in one summer than I will throughout my entire life."

Alanna said...

So much to say to this. And a hearty amen to Joel's comment, too.

Nothing made me happier today than knowing that you liked Delicious Orchards. I hope you ate a chocolate eclair for me! I think I'm going to send your blog link to my in-laws-- they would be so happy to hear someone say good things about New Jersey!

About your reading list, did you see this article:


And the pictures of the mushrooms were awesome. But not as awesome as the pink leaf.

And I should probably say a bunch of other stuff, too, but now my mind is drawing a blank. You guys live an awesome life, though!

lizzie said...

Okay, so I admit to reading to the clocktower part and skipping to the bottom so that I could tell you how much excitement that clocktower inspires in my boys. It definitely deserves a shoutout because, well, when we were on the bus today the two of them were shouting out about it.

And now I'm going to read the rest of the post.

Brooke said...

First, love your long hair. Even though it probably drove you nuts near the end of the heat. Has the heat broken yet? It has here, and I am LOVING it. Second, pink leaf? That's an awesome freak of nature. As are you. ;) Hearts.

Ashley said...

Freak, same as everyone's. Those mushrooms and the leaf are magical. Thanks for keeping a record of the magic.

Valerie said...

You totally should have been the peacock.

)en said...

right?? The sacrifices we make for kids...

Joel, i understand. But remember this is just a depiction. Life is as exciting as we make it [sound] right? Except for the mushrooms. That is solid exciting stuff there.

Ash you're welcome for the magical magic. I was under its spell all summer.

Brooke, the summer heat has broken and the whole world feels alive again.

Lizzie, the clocktower is an icon! I was too hasty in saying the Brooklyn skyline wasn't great.

Alanna, thanks for that link. Oh how i wanted to start up my own BSC. pretty sure i tried for like a day.