Happy Earth Day

Max Ehrmann 

      Desiderata 
      Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

 

      and remember what peace there may be in silence.

 

      As far as possible without surrender

 

      be on good terms with all persons.

 

      Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

 

      and listen to others,

 

      even the dull and the ignorant;

 

      they too have their story. 

 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. 

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism. 

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass. 

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself. 

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. 

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. 

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy. 

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

A Country Girl’s Guide to Creative Date Ideas

If you have been reading my blog for a while, you are probably familiar with some of my first date stories from when I lived in Washington, DC. Moonlit walks around monuments, soccer games, exuberant 10 am brunches, art museums, and the Cherry Blossom festival are all examples of dates that come to mind. One nice thing about living in a city was that there was always some new trendy restaurant to try, or some landmark yet to be explored, which made for a lot of fresh options. Since being back home, I’ve felt like it is much harder to come up with creative ideas for things to go do, and it got me thinking. There must be a ton of things to do here that you couldn’t necessarily do, or at least couldn’t do as well, in DC. Here are some date ideas for those of us who don’t live near any large Metropolis areas, and are not ready to succumb to the basic dinner and a movie routine:

 

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  • Star Gazing. Grab a blanket, a flashlight, and a thermos of something warm and head out to a clearing. Make this more fun by bringing along a constellation map.

 

  • Go fishing! This takes a bit of preparation, as you will each need a fishing license and pole. It helps a lot to have someone who knows what they are doing for tying hooks, casting, and gutting the fish (ew), but I suppose if neither person did it would be something to laugh about.

 

  • Take a Ferry Ride. This is particularly relevant in Western Washington, but you could improvise anywhere with bodies of water and recreational boats. Walk onto the ferry, spend a couple hours exploring your destination or grabbing something to eat, and then enjoy the relaxing ride back home.

 

  • Hiking. This seems to be an old standby around where I live, and it can be fun if it’s more like a stroll than a strenuous hike. Not trying to get all sweaty on a date, BUT getting outdoors and being moderately active in some gorgeous scenery is always a good idea.

 

  • Go swimming! On a hot summer day, meet up after work and find a body of water to splash around in. Bring floatys and show off your cannon ball skills.

 

  • The search for the best (fill in the blank) date. This isn’t a good first date option, or even second or third probably since it implies future dates without knowing that the one you are on is going to go well, but designate a day weekly to try out new places in search of the best tacos in your hometown. Or burgers, or pizza, or beer. Whatever you feel like conquering. Give each meal a score on a scale from one to ten, and then tally the points after trying a few places.

 

  • Try a dance class. We have this place in my hometown called “The Grange” and they offer weekly partner dance classes, with a two hour DJ afterwards. Knowing how to swing dance or line dance can actual be useful information in our neck of the woods, so it’s educational, romantic and a good time. See if your community has something similar.

 

 

  • Visit a farm and do a “you pick” date. Think fresh berries or apples, visiting the on farm store, taking a few pictures, and then going home to pile on whipped cream or bake something delicious.

 

  • Countryside drives. This is actually a really nice way to get to know someone. There’s no awkward eating or bill paying, and there is plenty of time to just talk, roll the windows down, or listen to your favorite songs.

 

  • Speaking of favorite songs, spend a few hours going back and forth and playing those at home one day. You can learn a lot about a person from their taste in music, and it’s fun to talk about what songs make you think of or what memories are associated with them.

 

  • Visit a shooting range. Shooting guns is surprisingly exhilarating if you haven’t tried it before. If you are both already pros, challenge each other to see who is the best aim.

 

  • Have a campfire in your yard, roast marshmallows, drink beer, play cards. Basically act like your camping, but you’re kind of not, because you’re at home.

 

  • Play truth or dare. This could either be really fun, or expose the true unpleasant nature of your date, which either way is a good thing right?

 

  • So you both have busy schedules? Do something boring that you normally do solo together. Go to the library to return those books that are almost over-due and make out in a hidden corner for a couple minutes. Cruise through the grocery store to get the weeks’ worth of shopping out of the way, or wash your cars together. If you have to do chores, you might as well do them with someone that you think makes everything more fun. Just don’t make your date do your chores for you.

 

When you think about it, there really are a lot of fun date ideas that you can take advantage of in small towns. I could go on and on, but I think these are my favorite ideas. Have fun!

 

Xo,

 

Andrea

 

Also, what do you think about online dating?  I’m pretty iffy about that in a small town so far haha, but I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has experiences with it.

First Camping Trip of 2014: Rockport, WA

In a spur of the moment decision last weekend, I decided to join some friends camping about an hour East of where I live. We got really lucky with the weather, and enjoyed a couple beautiful days up there hiking in the mountains and sitting around a campfire. One night we walked a quarter mile down the road to a local dive bar (dive bars are the only kind of bars in this hillbilly land) and listened to a band. I even got a friend with some moves to spin me around the dance floor a few times. It was definitely a great time. We made some memories, that’s for sure. Here are a few pictures of the scenery and our campsite.

 

xo,

Andrea

 

 

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The Earliest of Memories

I’m trying to recall the first thing my memory ever recorded, and am finding it a difficult task. There are slippery little bits of image, like my mother sitting on a sunny porch, legs criss-crossed and hands occupied with a knife and a green apple. Or a day outside in a grassy yard, suddenly darkened by a cloud passing in front of the sun, long shadows stretching until they blend together into shade. There are also feelings I might remember. The dizzy joy I felt spreading my arms wide and spinning around until I fell down. The awe inspired by a powerful gust pushing against me in the Autumn. The relief and headache experienced after sobbing like only a child can, unabashedly and thoroughly, until every tear has been expelled. But are these memories or dreams? If I reach that far back it becomes hard to tell the difference.

It starts to become clearer when I think about starting school. In Kindergarten, I remember peeing my pants in class. You might be thinking, why would she write about a memory of peeing her pants on a blog? But come on…every kid does this once or twice. It was a rare day when we lined up, and walked across the court yard to another Kindergarten class where we were to watch a movie together. The lights in the room were dim, and we sat on the floor in lines facing the television screen. Stuck in a room of unfamiliar people who would all notice if I were to stand and ask my teacher to go use the bathroom, I thought I could hold it and was wrong. I shifted my sweatshirt around my waist, and whispered to my cousin who happened it belong to the class of children we had joined. I told her what happened, my eyes swelling up with tears of shame, and instead of keeping my secret, she raised her hand to tell the teacher. I felt so betrayed. She said it in front of the whole class, and my teacher pulled me out of the room to call my mom to come get me.

In first grade, I had a friend named Shasta who I used to tell stories to at recess. I would get so involved in describing how my family and I were really royals on the run, trying to blend in with society to escape the wrath of the evil fairy queen who stole our throne and would murder us all, that I think I even believed it. “Our crowns,” I would tell her, as she sat next to me against the brick side of the school, “had too many jewels and were too heavy to carry. Plus they would give away our identity. We had to toss them into the Skagit River as we crossed it by makeshift log raft.” She would paw at the gravel in front of us, throwing small gray rocks a few feet in front of us as she listened. I didn’t sum up the story by saying “just kidding,” or “that didn’t really happen.” I just let the possibility of it linger between us instead, and embraced the specialness being a princess for a day lent me.

There are so many things I remember from second and third grade. I loved my teacher. Totally adored her and wanted to be just like her. We had a reading loft in the classroom that was kind of like an indoor tree fort, without the tree. Second grade was when I made the firm decision to become a writer. I could go on and on with memories from that point on, but it’s kind of fun to try to remember what it was like to be little. There are so many things we forget, and those memories sort of surprise you when you really take the time to think about childhood.

I started musing about this because the other day my brother and I watched Dennis the Menace, and I noticed so many things about it that I never had before, now that I was watching it as an adult. I realized that the last time I had watched it, I was identifying with Dennis, and this time I was identifying more with the adults in the story (Remember cranky Mr. Wilson?). Either way it’s a pretty hilarious movie. There was one point where I was laughing so hard my brother asked if I was going to be okay, and I nearly choked on a sip of tea. Good times…

What are your earliest memories? Do they start during your school age, or can you remember before that?

 

xo,

 

Andrea