Just keep swimming…
I’m feeling the need to go somewhere warm and float. I looked up various pools last weekend to see if any stayed open late on Saturday/Sundays, but didn’t see anything in Des Moines. Do you guys know of anywhere? Might just have to pretend I’m a hotel guest…
Images by artist Samantha French.
Have a great weekend!
I feel fortunate to have a good number of dear friends and confidantes, but sometimes I’m sad about how far apart I live from so many of them. Whether its just a few hours or a whole coast that divides us, I miss being a part of their everyday lives, doing the simple, silly things we’d do as roommates or hanging out like high school pals.
Last Friday, a friend from D.C. who relocated to Iowa City drove in for lunch, and our children played and we talked and talked and talked. And then this weekend, dear friends who’d flown back to the Midwest from the Bay Area drove up to Des Moines for a family sleep over.
We just walked around the shops in the East Village and got dinner at A Dong (with an emergency dessert run to Creme Cupcake) and followed up a breakfast at home with a stroll around the neighborhood. The simple, good stuff.
I’m grateful for friends who can pick up conversations like we’ve never had a day apart, even if we haven’t seen each other for years. I’m terrible on the phone, and an irregular pen pal, so sweet little visits mean so much.
The summer I spent as a camp counselor in Colorado seems more like a vivid dream than any real and true experience I could prove. One throw-away camera worth of memories at a time I felt I needed to test the tethers and assert my independence.
I lived on a squeaky metal frame bed just big enough for a sleeping bag In a canvas platform tent on a burnt-out mountainside. I went by a different name, and walked each morning past a horse pasture to a little log cabin. There were bears.
Each afternoon, dark clouds would gather and there would be time for rest. On the days it didn’t rain, I would retreat to a hidden spot with a rock, big and moss-barnacled like the back of a breaching whale. I would sit on the rock and listen to music and stare at the sky. When it rained, I spent time alone in my tent, reading and feeling heart sick.
At some point, a small mouse died not far from the tent, just off the path where I would walk a dozen times a day. I first noticed it when its soft brown body was still plump. I thought about moving it, burying it under a pile of leaves. I didn’t. Instead, I watched it transform from a creature of flesh back into a piece of the earth. It was a slow process, and I remember a second sadness when I could no longer make out the mouse shape on the ground.
Maybe it’s strange, but in the near decade since that summer, I’ve often thought of that mouse. It served as a sweet reminder of my own mortality. I don’t know quite what made me want to share that memory. Maybe the passing of fall and the tendency to look at what rests among the leaves. Or all the moments since that I’ve frozen with a photo, when this mouse will only ever exist as a nameless creature from a time that doesn’t even seem like it belonged to me. In the telling, I feel I’ve resurrected it a bit. Enough that maybe you would imagine its existence and spare a moment to think of something so small and beautiful. Sometimes that’s the reason I write.
A thought and image from my Friday:
Have a wonderful weekend!
Iowa isn’t exactly known as the adventure vacation destination of America, but my friend Brad just launched Argo Adventures, a company that could help change that. We might not have mountains, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors. (Remember this post of him ice climbing on a silo?)
I’d love to try one of these expeditions sometime! The canoe trips sound like they could actually be my speed.
It’s also cool to hear that Adam Holt, another friend, worked on the logo design. So much talent and creativity in Des Moines.
I’m always amazed to learn that people other than my family are reading my blog. Although I don’t have any desire to “go pro” blogging, it’s fun to feel included in the blogger community. Ivy from Wake Up for Makeup tagged me in a post the other day and I’m playing along.
Here’s what I’m supposed to do:
- Write 11 random facts about yourself.
- Answer the 11 questions given by the person who nominated you.
- Create 11 new questions.
- Nominate 11 bloggers and mention them in your post.
- Thank the person that nominated you and tell the people you’ve nominated.
My 11 Random Facts
- My craziest job was as a camp counselor in Colorado. I led a mounted search party for a llama, lived in a tent that at one point became infested with pack rats and walked past horses every day to go to work in a cabin. Also, I fell out of a tree and got to experience Wilderness First Aid firsthand! I didn’t realize how pathetic I looked until a disposable camera from that summer got mailed to me a year later. Pretty crazy:
- I love to sing along to the radio (especially Oldies from the ’50s &’60s) and I know pretty much all of the words. I just don’t have good timing, so I belt the lyrics out at the wrong points. This makes Joe laugh at me.
- I ran cross country from 8th grade through senior year of high school. I wasn’t fast, but it helped me make a great group of down-t0-earth friends who still hang out when we can.
- I was allllmost on The Tonight Show for my 8th grade science project, “The Scoop on Poop.” I did one sample of a larger microbiology project at a local University studying whether or not there was pathogenic bacteria in the feces of non-migratory Canada geese. The producers asked me to send in a tape, but apparently I wasn’t geeky enough or something.
- I once rode a camel in Qatar.
- I went to Catholic school for 13 years (in the western suburbs of Chicago). I wish I still got to wear a uniform. In college, my friends threatened to nominate me for “what not to wear” because I hadn’t mastered the art of dressing.
- I am obsessed with manatees, and have been since 2nd grade, but still haven’t seen one in the wild. (Goal for my 30th birthday!)
- I made the first move to date Joe. (And in basically every other relationship.) A girl knows what she wants, OK?
- My brother and I had pet gerbils named Lucy and Ethel when we were growing up. They were males.
- I volunteered at two Living History Museums (yes, in costume) from aged 9-18. I could make a yarn doll in my sleep.
- I love to read and can get so absorbed in a book that I tune everything else out. The first time I read an entire chapter book in one sitting was Matilda, in 3rd grade. It’s still one of my favorite feelings.
My answers to Ivy’s questions and tags are below the jump…
If you celebrate Easter, I hope it’s a happy one! The worst thing about growing up is that no one is going to leave a chocolate bunny in my room for me to wake up to on Sunday.
A year ago, I made peep sushi with Mia. Your Easter feast might need some, too.
Is there anything more adorable than a disabled dwarf pony named Bunny getting surgery to walk and run? Cute overload (with video!) thanks to my alma mater, Mizzou.
Can I justify these red Madewell Holepunch sandals by promising to wear them every day of summer?
This Iowa City barn featured on The Moon & The Honey is a rustic wedding venue dream come true. Obsessed.
I feel like maybe a Wiksten tank would be a good foray into sewing things for myself? Jenny is based in Iowa City now, too.
One of my personal goals is to become a strong facilitator, and Gamestorming was recommended to me as a resource by the always engaging Mike Wagner. I’m digging the book. Mike’s the kind of guy who is extremely well-read and intelligent, but always comes off as curious instead of as a know-it-all.
I’ll admit it – for about a decade before I started working at a youth/education oriented nonprofit, I was pretty clued out of the school-aged scene. College and working at a magazine targeted to 20-somethings can do that. I was vaguely aware of which schools in Des Moines were near my home, but the lives of the students who attended weren’t a big concern to me.
Then I met a group of kids whose big personalities (and for some of them, problems) made me take notice. A year into my job at the Des Moines “I Have a Dream” Foundation, I’m listening more closely to the education debate, but I’ve also gotten to know my smaller neighbors a lot better. Having them squeal with delight when I opened the door when they were out trick-or-treating was a really cool feeling. We have our little sub communities in town, but it’s easy for me to run in those and forget this backpack-wearing major population of our larger community.
I’m learning that the best thing we can do for the kids in our community is show we care. Don’t wait until you’re a parent to attend an event at a school. Think about becoming a mentor, or volunteering with youth. You couldn’t pay me to go back and re-live my 7th grade year, and with that in mind I hope I’m able to stay empathetic to these kids. (Also, hanging out with youth lets you in on the lingo. This un-hip lady now knows what “swag” and “rachet” mean.)
All of this to say a really easy (and fun!) way to support creativity in schools and a means of expression for youth is to attend “Share the Mic” on Friday night (7-9 p.m.) at the performing arts hall at Drake. Tickets are $5. Proceeds will benefit IHAD.
A preview for February 1st: Share the Mic!
I could not be more inspired by what Kristopher and Emily are doing for their students. They are the kind of teachers who make your spine tingle!
What says 60th birthday more than female bonding and folk crafts? In honor of my mom, the Kelley women headed to Wisconsin this past weekend for a workshop at East Troy Basketry and made this:
It took the whole day. I documented the process for my Instagram followers:
The women who run the studio were super sweet and introduced us to all kinds of basketry lingo. We found the experience ripe for the pun-making.
It’s pretty cool to see something take shape from a pile of reeds.
Seriously going to appreciate basket arts (I got scolded for calling it a “craft”) a lot more after eight hours of working on this!
It was a rare day to have all of the women (sans my cousin Katie, who was running the San Francisco Women’s Marathon) together, being creative. It was the perfect way to spend a rainy fall Wisconsin day.