C'mon Na-tchur...

I emerged from the wilderness yesterday - from the land of no cell phone reception. It was a gradual transition that took place over a 3 hour drive. From one-lane dirt "roads" to six-lane highways. My concerns went from wondering when the next barge would float by on the river to when my next deadline at work would come crashing down. My cares over the past few days consisted of getting up in time to watch the sunrise, and promptly returning to bed to wake up a few hours later, where we decided which hiking trail to choose for the day over a leisurely breakfast of eggs and bagels. We rocked in rocking chairs on the porch, ate popsicles and read books. We relaxed in the hot tub and watched blue finches through binoculars. We played games and built campfires. Our big excursion of the weekend was to drive 30 miles or so to the Marengo Caves.

It was a rejuvenating escape. No phones, no television, no email, no streetlights, no McDonalds, no exhaust fumes, no work. Just good company, good conversation, and a whole lotta nature!


Ready to Rough It!

Yay! Tomorrow begins my annual college-friends-Memorial-Day-weekend-camping extravaganza. Every year the five of us get together over the holiday weekend for hiking, kayaking, s'mores, and lots o' fun. Last year we really did rough it at Fall Creek Falls State Park where we decided to tent camp at a primitive site (meaning no plumbing and no electricity!). This year we have rented a cabin on the Ohio River in the Hoosier National Forest. Our "cabin" has three bedrooms each with it's own bathroom, full kitchen, wrap-around porch, balconies, washer and dryer, and a hot tub. Just say NO to outhouses! - is our new motto.
Here is what Joanna had to say about our trip last year (apparently I was a bit of a hiking nazi...heh.):

Notes from the trip:Cathryn's style of hiking can only be described as Tigger on crack. The first day we embarked on a punishing hike along the Gorge Trail to the falls, then down to the falls, then all the way back up. (Think Mountain Dew commercials, where people drink Mountain Dew and then turn into uncostumed Spidermen, able to stick to the sides of cliffs and things.) The trail guide listed it as "Medium" difficulty. Not sure what they would classify as "Difficult," but expect it would involve a volcano of some sort. The second day, after two hours of paddle boating on the lake, we went to hike the Paw-Paw trail. Do not be fooled by lyrical sounding names - this trail is also a beast. Wondered about the geography of the region. How is it possible for all trails to be up hill? How? Cathryn was also the only member of our hiking party who seemed to feel no after effects from leg deadening paddle boat activity. Third day we hiked Piney Creek Falls trail, first down to the overlook, but were then assured by Tigger on Crack that the alternative trail (twice as long) provided a better view of the falls from the middle of the suspension bridge. After hiking back up from the overlook, down the alternate trail, across the Indiana Jones style suspension bridge, and finding that you couldn't even see the falls from there or from the other side, Cathryn then urged hiking onward on the unmarked trail in search of the mythical better view. All other members of the party voted no. Thank goodness for Sara and Alison, as I needed all available oxygen for breathing, and could not mount much protest.

Note to self: Am never hiking with Cathryn again. If we are eighty-five, and she wants us all to walk to the edge of the nursing home lawn to get the newspaper, refuse!

Tent camping rundown: Sara developed silver dollar sized ant bites on her right arm, which oozed ominously, but she was assured by a park ranger that she wouldn't "wake up dead." Sara spends rest of camping trip sleeping in the car. We were all kept awake until 4AM the first night by neighboring group of very loud Ukrainian campers. They were, over many bottles of vodka, trying to explain to locals about being from Kiev. The locals response, "You mean like the chicken?" The forest is a very noisy place, between birds and woodpeckers and Ukrainians. Woke up on the second morning to the feeling of my back spasming. Argh. Next year there is talk that we will meet up at a day spa.

Hee. See?, we're not really into the whole "roughing" it thing. Hence the luxury cabin we'll be staying at this weekend. I'll report on our annual retreat when I get back to civilization on Monday!


Used To It

Sent: Mon, May 21, 7:57 am: I just saw the news - are your friends and family alright?

Reply: Mon, May 21, 7:59 am: Yes they are :) This thing is remote and localized

Sent: Mon, May 21, 8:21 am: :) good - i guess the media makes it sound much worse

Reply: Mon, May 21, 8:27 am: Oh no this is very serious but confined to a palestinian camp. Hopefully this crackdown will be the end of those militant criminals

Sent: Mon, May 21, 8:29 am: There was also a bombing in beirut this morning they said

Reply: Mon, May 21, 9:47 am: Yeah...guess m used to it



I woke up this morning, got out of bed, and nearly crashed to the floor! (and no, not because I forgot to open my parachute - it's been brought to my attention that I have a tall bed). As pain stabbed my lower right leg I vaguely recalled being woken in the middle of the night to one heck of a charlie horse in my right calf muscle.

Seriously, I can't even remember the last time I've had that kind of painful muscle spasm. It was so intense and so concentrated I felt nauseous. And I am not a sissy when it comes to pain, but it was even too painful to try to massage at first. Oww! It's feeling just mildly sore now and fortunately I'm not limping around like I was earlier this morning. Good grief...maybe I should pay more attention to stretching after tennis next time...


Another One Bites the Dust

Saturday night was spent mourning the loss of yet another single girlfriend. Well. Not mourning, I guess - that's a tad melodramatic, eh? Still, I spent an evening in Memphis celebrating Kelly's symbolic "last night of freedom". Our merry band of 8 romped up and down Beale Street (see footnote) where hi-jinks and hilarity ensued. Kelly's mom (yes, her mom) fashioned the requisite "suck for a buck" t-shirt that all bachelorettes are required by law to wear, except that it was a variation on the traditional attire in that it was covered with gummy worms instead of lifesavers and advertised "bite for a buck". Highly amusing to witness drunk men paying to pull gummy worms off a t-shirt with their teeth. There were also the long-standing bachelorette "challenges" including finding a guy to give her a lap dance, finding a guy to try on her bra, and finding a guy to show her his "tighty whities" (yes, all of these challenges were met... and we have the photos to prove it). It was a regular hootinanny (a whole lotta hoot...and a little bit o' nanny). Needless to say, a fun time was had by all in our quest to capture and preserve one last night of singular fun for the bride-to-be.

Footnote: This was my first trip to Memphis and thus to Beale Street, both of which I had heard plenty of from my Memphis-born co-workers. Memphis itself seemed to be kind of sad in the way that reminds me of the sadness of Cleveland. It used to be a really great thriving city and then went through a massive urban exodus and then a half-hearted attempt at urban renewal which resulted in a vibrant but limited downtown nightlife and left the rest of the city-scape depressed and dumpy. Which is a shame.

But, Beale Street with it's pedestrian friendly atmosphere (and by pedestrian friendly I mean not only the absence of vehicles but the offering of alcoholic beverages to be purchased and consumed outside on the street!), rows of cool blues bars and night clubs, and seriously talented street musicians (I actually got to see, in person, Richard Johnston! oh. my. god. that guy is amazing), was a sensory delight and definitely a place I'd like to visit again.


The Things We Keep

I've never considered myself a pack rat. My dad? Yes, he was a pack rat. My sister? Yes, she is a pack rat. Me? Eh. Not so much. I don't really get attached to "things". I don't collect ticket stubs or programs. I don't hang on to birthday cards. I don't let old magazines pile up. I don't keep newspapers lying around or crusty half-used bottles of nail polish. I don't stuff Banana Republic bags in my closet for some unforeseen critical future use (like some people).

But when I looked around F's immaculately staged condo and noticed the alarming lack of personalization, I realized it's the "clutter" in our lives that make our habitats interestingly human. And when I looked around my own apartment, I realized I have a lot more clutter than I thought.

The snapshots lined up in my living room, the outdated pictures of Owen plastered to my refrigerator, the special Christmas card tucked inside my junk drawer, the boxful of random postcards, the love notes stashed in my night stand, long forgotten business cards from hair stylists and travel agents in Lincoln, maps and pamphlets from various state parks, scribbled recipes that have never been attempted, a symphony schedule from LAST season, coupons for Kroger and Bed, Bath & Beyond, tile samples from a project finished long ago...All things I clearly don't need to hang on to...and yet, for some reason, I have. As if someday I'll suddenly need to get a hold of that travel agent in Lincoln, or it'll be imperative that I know the length of the Stony Ridge Trail in Hocking Hills State Park, or I'll be hit with a streak of ambition to cook! Who knows?! Maybe I'll need to refer to those love notes someday for some reason. Maybe I'll need to be reminded that someone was thinking of me when they sent me that postcard. And tile samples! c'mon! Who in their right mind would get rid of tile samples!?

We keep things for a reason. Maybe the thing means something to us. Maybe it used to mean something to us. Maybe the thing is a reminder. Or a security blanket. Or a placebo. Or a blindfold. I guess I'm more of a pack rat than I thought I was...



"Some people believe that it's a good idea to face your fears. I usually feel that it's much healthier to tie them up in a bag, drive out to the country, chuck them out your window, then drive home as fast as you can." - Ellen Degeneres

If only it were that easy...


Patience is a Virtue...right?

There are people who possess buckets of patience. I know because I've met these people and when I am seething with annoyance or squirming with anticipation, they are calmly re-assessing a situation or serenely accepting circumstances they cannot change. I was not born with the patience gene. My nana claims this is because I am an Aries and apparently patience is not one of our virtues. Being periodically reminded of my inherited short-coming has prompted me to develop a modicum of patience as I've gotten older. And this moderate amount was tested Friday night.

Jen and Kimberly and I had made plans to meet at Virago's at 8:00. Cool. I had never been there and was keenly interested in checking the place out. So, around 7:30, my phone chimes with an incoming text message. From Jen.

Message #1: running late. will be there at 8:15.

No problem. I was running a little late myself (as usual).

At this time I need to impart an important detail of the evening. That detail being the torrential rainstorms Nashville was experiencing that night. Seriously. Like, gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, nothing but the roar of water pounding in your ears, windshield wipers going at that crazy full speed where it looks like they're trying to hurl themselves into flight, leaning forward and straining to see beyond the waterfall blurring your vision, and thinking, "sweet jesus! - I need to be in an ark instead of a car!" - yeah, that kind of rain.
It was 8:15 as I neared Virago, and my phone lit up with another text message. From Jen.

Message #2: having wardrobe crisis. will be there closer to 8:30 - 8:45.

Okay. So I figure by the time I get there, I'll have maybe a ten minute wait. Tops. No biggie.
Fortunately, Virago's offers valet parking. Unfortunately, even running the ten paces from my car to the front door had me nearly drenched. As the host graciously offered me a towel, the hostess informed me that they did indeed have a table available but they couldn't seat me until my entire party arrived. Marvelous. So I waited…and waited…

And then realized I had left my phone in my car, but due to the apocalyptic weather conditions I decided it could stay where it was. Jen and Kimberly were allegedly on their way, after all. Would most likely be walking through the door any minute, right?

So after a couple of trips to the ladies room and numerous sympathetic looks of pity from the hostess', I implored the host if one of the valets would be so kind as to fetch my phone. Oddly enough, despite the hell-water pouring from the sky, Virago's was a popular destination that night and there was a steady influx of dripping but jolly people. Not my people. Noooo. And then….hallelujah!....my phone arrived! (heh. you thought Jen and Kimberly had walked in the door, huh?) After thanking the host profusely, I checked my messages:

Message #3: (tone of disgust) oh my god! I have NOTHING to wear! (tone of apology) I'm sooo sorry…you know me…we're leaving in 5 minutes, I swear! See you there!

Message #2: (tone of concern) why aren't you answering your phone? Have you left yet? We're leaving now.

Message #4: (tone of incredulousness) holy shit! It is REALLY raining! And you're still not answering your phone. You didn't get in an accident did you? Call me!

Message #5: (text) where r u!? stuck in traffic. please call!

Message #6: (tone of panic) Cathryn, I'm really worried about you! Where are you? Call me as soon as you get this!

By this time it was 9:15. I called and even though I was the one on time and the one who had been waiting patiently, I was chastised for forgetting my phone in the car. Hello! I was not late. I was where I was supposed to be.

At 9:24 (yes I checked the exact time), Jen and Kimberly finally ran, dripping, through the door and by 9:30 we were seated with martinis in hand and all was forgiven. Rather impressive display of patience and understanding, no? :)

As an addendum: Sunday night was nearly a repeat performance as I patiently waited for F. to meet me at our sushi place. Again I forgot my phone in the car (I don't know - sometimes I forget I even have a phone!) but as I had JUST talked to him less than 10 minutes ago I didn't think it would matter. So I waited…I perused the menu…I ordered some edamame…and waited... And then I started getting the sympathetic "oh, poor thing, her date stood her up" looks from the wait staff. Feeling a bout of déjà vu coming on, I ran out to get my phone and punched in an irritated message: m here. where r u?

Oops. Simple miscommunication (or non-communication rather) Note to self: as it turns out, he is not able to read my mind. Heh.


One of those Days

Maybe because it' s May Day. Maybe because it's the day before the full moon. Maybe because it's a Tuesday. Maybe because I know better than to stay out late on a weeknight. Maybe because my cats knocked over a potted plant this morning, scattering moist soil throughout my apartment. Maybe because I forgot to pack my tennis clothes. Maybe because I spilled milk on the counter. Maybe because there was an accident on Old Hickory and traffic was more congested than usual. Maybe because there is no water at work.
Whatever the reasons...I know today is just gonna be one of those days.