Archive for June, 2008

City Mice

Ah, to have an entire weekend without any commitments!

Mr. Farmer came to visit on Friday, and after perusing and Time Out magazine, we discovered Craig Morgan was playing at Joe’s. Both of us were interested in seeing him perform his well-known song “International Harvester” (for obvious reasons), but the couch was really feeling good.

Ultimately we made the 3-mile trek — half on foot, the other half in a cab — and stopped at Pockets on the way for dinner.

We were glad we did. He was a great performer, it wasn’t that crowded, and there were quite a number of middle-aged women wearing IH shirts and Coors Light red blinking pasties on their nipples (over their shirts — perhaps they don’t get out much?).

Saturday we went for a walking tour of Lincoln Park, stopping at Hai Yen for my very favorite Vietnamese dish and a strawberry bubble tea. (Read more about it here.)

Then it was on to the zoo.

Many of the animals were taking a snoozer in the 85-degree weather.

And no matter how you cut it, it’s damn hilarious to watch monkeys pick each other’s butts. They’re so diligent. And they seem to like the taste.

From there we walked over to North Avenue Beach to see all the crazy sunbathers while we sipped iced tea.

But the biggest entertainment of the day came at the very end. I’ve seen the Chicago Naked Bike Ride in years past, and I’d seen that the parade was going to be passing through my neighborhood around 10:30. But I’d forgotten about it until we heard whoops and hollering outside my open window. We ran downstairs barefoot and stopped shy of the corner, just in time to see the first of over 500 people revealing body parts that don’t typically see the light of day. Bashful they were not. The array of different types of bikes — tall, short, big wheels, small wheels — added to the humor. 

Fortuately the guy who wiped out in front of us was wearing underwear.





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Family Camp

With all this talk of “camping” at the cabin, I started thinking back to the glory days of 4-H camp, gymnastics camp, church camp, family camp, and cheerleading camp. I’m sure there was a volleyball camp in there somewhere, too.

And I honestly can’t decide which one of them I liked best.

Last night at dinner we started talking about Family Camp, which was the standard destination for 5 years running in early August, right after the 4-H fair. I think we must have started going the summer after I was in 3rd grade or so — I remember seeing a photo with me in a particular red and white Izod boat neck shirt, which I was also wearing in the 4-H camp photo from that same year. Family camp was at Camp Mennoscah, which is a rustic little Mennonite camp many miles from a town, situated on the Ninnescah river.

Pretty much the same families were there each year. Many of them were related. We were the tag-alongs with the E family.

For the first few years, we stayed with two other families in the same cabin. But after that, Dad preferred the comfort of grandpa’s RV. (I think his karma caught up with him, however, when Brother DIY busted his knee open on the metal step into the camper and had to go to the emergency room.)

The camp was only 3 days long, and our routine consisted of eating breakfast in the dining hall, messing around outside (playing 4-square, canoeing the creek, playing on the tree swing that went out over the river), eating lunch, having some sort of group activity, eating dinner and then having a campfire complete with guitar sing-alongs.

DIY and his buddy S were always a source of entertainment. They really found it funny to sing the “compound word” song during lunch — “Have you ever seen a shoe box, a salad dressing, etc.” — and add in “cork screw.” (I have to admit it was hilarious to watch them be shushed. I’m sure it’s not possible that I was the one leading them down the path of sin.)

You should also know that S was a monkey — that kid was constantly in the trees. Or the river. Which meant DIY was right along side. One morning they decided to swing really high over the river…and then jump in wearing their good clothes.

Nighttime was equally funny. S and his sister J inevitably fell out of bed at least once a year. From the top bunk onto cement. Splat.

I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. But there are a few things that stand out:

  • One of the dads in the group led us on a walking tour up one of the tributaries of the river.
  • One day we headed to a sandbar a bit away from the camp, where there were lots of wild watermelons growing.
  • There was a big inner tube — I mean from a LARGE tractor — in the swimming pool, which was fun to bounce and rock.
  • Singing songs by the campfire.
  • Round dancing.

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Adventures at the Cabin

Ah, Memorial Day seems so long ago — back in the days when I could actually dry my hair without sweating it wet again.

Mr. Farmer had been itching to introduce me to his “escape in the woods” in the U.P. (that’s Michigan, for y’all not from around these parts). So we headed out on Friday afternoon for 7 hours on our butts in his truck, trying not to irritate the persistent kink in my neck.

We hit the Port of Green Bay bridge at sunset. With another three and a half hours to go, we debated stopping in Iron Mountain for the night, but ultimately we were awake enough to take on the final leg, arriving around 11:30.









We only had lanterns for light that first night, but they put off enough light to reveal thosands of dead flies. Everywhere. I assumed broom duty. We ate them for a midnight snack.






By morning we were used to the flies, and most had been lovingly dumped out the door.

Lest you think I have become soft in my age of city life, I want to point out that we only had running water for a couple hours a day. There was some sort of issue with air in the line, so it kept losing its prime. Of course I knew nothing about what the men-folk were doing about this in the back shed — Barbara Walters was MUCH more interesting.


The first afternoon we headed over to a nearby lake with the kayaks, where Mr. Farmer tricked me into fishing — and I fell for it hook, line and sinker.

The best I could reel in was Mr. Farmer, himself.

Here’s my favorite photo:

This one is a close second:

The next day we took a cruise around the property…

…in search of the tree stand near the creek. (And bear poop.)


As we headed back to the cabin, we ran into Butch, the friendly neighbor. He’d left us an empty Old Style can on the porch to let us know he’d been there. He calls his place “Butch’s Coffee Shop” — in other words, all the old men meet at his house every morning. Then they return for “cocktails” that night.

Here’s one of the two tree stands on the property, which is where we perched ourselves in the late afternoon to try to spot a bear.

And spotted one we did! He lingered for about 45 minutes, grazing in the clearing.

We had a pu pu platter for dinner.

One of the other guys was going to take a cute little picture of us in front of the cabin. Unfortunately my attempt to jump on Mr. Farmer and attach myself like a koala bear resulted in me landing on my ass.


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