Let’s Go Glamping!

I was sitting outside at work the other day, drinking my iced tea and eating grapes on my break, when the random thought, “It’d be nice to go camping!” occured to me. I am able to ignore a lot of random thoughts, but this one startled me. I do not camp. I have in the past, but I’d rather not do it again. Like the David Foster Wallace essay about going on a cruise, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again, camping seems like it should be fun, in theory, but in reality, not so much. And I have no desire to ever go on a cruise, either, thank you very much.

Camping. First of all, why should I sleep on the ground when there is this great invention called the BED? Second, I hate dirt. And peeing behind trees. Indoor plumbing, hello?!

Camping_Toilet_Rothco020
Any activity that involves this, please let me stay home!

my idea of camping

Have you ever watched the show Monk? Mr. Monk is one of my idols. Mr. Monk had to go camping once. He didn’t like it.

monk

I’m fine not taking a shower for a day or 2, and being outdoors is great. Within reason. But outdoor living should refer to the Sunset magazine, California lifestyle variety, not living in a tent for fun!

1953 Sunset
1953 Sunset cover; my kind of outdoor living.

I love a good picnic; eating out of doors is nice. Especially if you bring really good food. And make it really pretty and romantic.

gina-sofia-outdoor-dining-alfresco-centerpiece-better-decorating-bible-blog-Mediterranean-Spaces.jpg

I like the idea of outdoor living. If it’s civilized.

There are wonderful ways to spend time outdoors with friends and family while remaining clean and comfortable and having access to an actual bathroom. Outdoor kitchens and living rooms are quite “the thing” these days where the weather permits.

There are more modest ways to follow this idea:

I adore the idea of the unfortunately named “she shed”, the feminine alternative to the man cave.

Who-says-She-Sheds-have-made-wood-glass.png

sacred women.jpg

These can be basic too.

glamping basic.jpg

This one veers a little close to camping, but I’ll allow it since it’s adorble.

Mobile-She-Shed

But please don’t ask me to go camping.

new friends

do you know me.jpg

139de65c36b232796c8fb91c12861a27

My camping experiences started when my mother married her second husband, Van. He loved camping. But his idea of camping was parking his GMC truck, equipped with a camper shell, by the side of any old river and proceeding to fish (boring) and drink a lot. I always took a lot of books. Anytime I was forced into outings with Mom and Van I made sure to have a book. I spent a lot of time in bars and by the sides of rivers reading while they drank. But since he was a cabinet maker, the camper was nicely kitted out, and Mom always tried to cook something nice. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.

Then when I got married, we thought we liked camping. Like Van before us, what we liked was a different setting for drinking.

Wine_Camping2314.jpg

We made a point of going to walk-in only sites so it would be more private and we wouldn’t be surrounded by RVs.

rvpark

Yellowstone
Campground at Yellowstone. No thanks.

I would cook a lot of gourmet food ahead of time, we would make sure to have lots of wine, and off we’d go. I never slept well, partly from the wine, and partly because sleeping on the ground in a tent sucks! I don’t even do well with cabin camping. I didn’t sleep for an entire week last summer when I went to Maine, but I did gain a new appreciation for frogs.

Given half a chance, my ex-husband would probably have had us going out camping in an old VW hippie van.

bus1

If we had to go camping, I’d have preferred a somewhat less conspicuous van back then (although I do love the hippie van now as a look).

camper-van-404_683331c

But we were poor, so it had to be a tent and sleeping bags. As long as we had the money for the wine. I can see us in something like this as well.

110-9-Effective-Bug-Out-Location-Options-270x250

I’m older, wiser, and sober now. And I think life is too short to do things we don’t like if we don’t have to.  I don’t have to go camping, and despite my random thoughts I don’t really want to.

love not camping.jpg

What about camping even appears to be fun?

lotsa tents
This does not look fun.

Camping is dangerous, besides. There are crazy people out there looking for dummies zipped into sleeping bags and tents, ready-made targets for horror movie mayhem. There are bugs and spiders and creepy crawly things.

spider

The food chain is fine and all, but I’d rather not be a part of it, thanks.

soft tacos

And coffee. Let’s talk coffee. I’m sorry, cowboy romanticism aside, boiled coffee made over a campfire does not taste good.

I haven’t mastered the art of campfire espresso, although I suppose it’s possible. But I am not really interested in learning the art. My beautiful Rancilio Silvia machine at home is just fine.

NUOVA  001
Admit it, this looks like a serious coffee maker. My best friend.

I’d consider easing myself into the idea with the she-shed (buit it does need a better name), and work my way up to “glamping”(glamour camping).

I could be a glamper. See this Project Runway clip for a good description of glamping. If Tim Gunn is on board, okay!

I’d even go with an Airstream or tear-drop trailer if they were glamped up.

There’s a book for people like me: I Hate Camping, but I Love Glamping! by Lynn Sable. There is also Glamping with MaryJane, by MaryJane Butters. I’m sure there are many more.

One thing I will grant on the plus side for camping: s’mores. I had never had a s’more until I went to Maine last summer. Zoe Weil at the Institute for Humane Education taught me how to make and eat a vegan s’more at the campfire, and I even willingly sang camp songs after ingesting a couple of those. All that was missing was a great cup of coffee.

IMG_4596
Age 54, my first s’mores experience.
Vegan-Smores-with-Dandies-Vegan-Marshmallows
Use a vegan dark chocolate and Dandies vegan marshmallows for cruelty-free s’mores.

But are s’mores enough reason for camping? No, you can make s’mores at home. There is not enough chocolate in the world to make camping fun.

10-ReasonsCAMPINGis-for-CRAZY-PEOPLE-1013x530.png
Only 10?

If all tents could be like the magical ones in Harry Potter, that would be okay too. Wave a wand and have all the comforts of home at your fingertips. Or, alternatively, stay home! Or go to a nice hotel.

WeasleyTent
The Weasley tent in one of the numerous Harry Potter films.

As we enter the summer season, I’ll be enjoying outdoor time and sunshine. Just my way, not the cowboy way. And I’ll be a happy camper, ignoring my random thoughts.

Tim Gunn and Ruby Dee walk into a bar…

I have strange dreams. I wish I knew what they meant. Or maybe I don’t want to know! The human brain is a strange and wondrous thing. And sometimes infuriating.

dream-interpretation
I seriously doubt I look this cute when I am sleeping. I’m more likely a Homer Simpson style sleeper.

In the early morning mash-up of what I can remember of my dreams this morning, Ruby Dee lived across the street from me and was trying to get me to weed between the paving stones leading to her front door.

weeds_on_tegs
What’s wrong with a few weeds anyway?

I really didn’t want to do it, and was trying to work up the courage to say NO to Ms. Dee. I don’t think about Ruby Dee. Ever. I’m sure she was a wonderful person, and she and Ossie Davis were an awesome couple. But I couldn’t name anything she starred in and I have no idea how she felt about weedy walkways. And where was Ossie in this weed pulling debate?

3928_ruby_dee.jpg.png

Ruby Dee
Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, photo by Moneta Sleet Jr.

Meanwhile (in the dream), I was also taking a writing class from Tim Gunn. Tim Gunn who teaches FASHION, not writing, and who is my favorite person on Project Runway. I love Tim Gunn. But he was being kind of mean to me in my dream.

tim-gunn

In this dream writing class, I was supposed to be writing a story in which someone agrees to do something they don’t want to do (like weeding pathways, I guess) for someone they care about. I was not inspired by this assignment. So in his “make it work” way, Tim made me go outside with him. Outside just happened to be a vast ocean, and his idea is that we  would walk on water into the giant waves. I refused. Vehemently.

tsunami

fullsizerender
Maybe Tim Gunn was just trying to rid me of my new old-lady habit of wearing a big old cardigan sweater over my bathrobe. Tim–it’s warm and comfy!

Perhaps Tim Gunn can walk on water, a la Peter Sellers in the wonderful 1979 movie Being There.

being-there

But I can’t. Or shall I say, we will never know if I can because I am afraid of water and will never go out there to find out. This fear is called aquaphobia (not hydrophobia–that’s when you have rabies, which I don’t).

“Aquaphobia is a specific phobia that involves a level of fear that is beyond the patient’s control or that may interfere with daily life. People suffer aquaphobia in many ways and may experience it even though they realize the water in an ocean, a river, or even a bathtub poses no imminent threat.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aquaphobia)

fear-of-water-phobia-aquaphobia
When you Google aquaphobia, this is always the first image that comes up. Creepy, yes?

I do not desire a swimming pool, or even a hot tub. I do not soak in bubble baths. I have recently discovered that pedicures are nice, but if someone has ever drowned getting a pedicure I haven’t heard about it. If you have, please don’t tell me.

tnb_pic2

I like to gaze out upon water, like at calm lakes and ponds (see Falling in love with frogs), preferably from a rocking chair on a porch.

porch

Don’t get me wrong. I am a clean person. I shower.

aqua-cartoon

You’ll never refer to me as Pig-Pen, who traveled in a cloud of dust but was actually a cool, free spirit.

Rain is good. Good for staying out of, indoors, with a mug of hot coffee, a book, and a cat.

book
My perfect day.
tshirt
Hey, there’s even a t-shirt. Just make mine coffee instead of tea.

Is it a total coincidence that I woke up from these dreams to rain outside? (Cue theremin sound here:)

That’s good news–it means I don’t have to pull weeds for Ruby Dee! Now to my coffee, cat, and a good book. Perhaps Tim Gunn’s The Natty Professor: A Master Class on Mentoring, Motivating and Making it Work!

gunn-book

Or maybe The Fear of Water Cure.

cure

But then I’d have to buy a bathing suit. Is there a word for bathing suit anxiety?

yep

Stay dry.

Returning to School in My 50s, or, Perfecting the Art of Procrastination

Preface: I should be writing an assignment on peer reviewed journals and open access publishing, but this is more fun. I fell asleep doing my school reading on the couch last night, and I hoped I’d wake up full of academic insight but instead I woke up thinking, I’ll do a blog post on going back to school!

For those of you who know me personally, I’ve always been a bit of a neat freak. My television hero for many years was Mr. Monk, played in the best persnickety way by Tony Shaloub.

monk

Towels had to hung a certain way, the bed made just so every morning, laundry folded while it was still warm, never a dish left in the kitchen sink. News flash: between working full time, going to school full time, volunteering at the East Bay SPCA, and having a bathroom full of foster kittens, I don’t have time to be Mr. Monk anymore!

good morning

My favorite appliance used to be the television set in the den; now it’s the coffee machine in the kitchen.

television coffee

I still watch television, but I am choosier about what I watch. Chopped and Ted Allen, I love you, but what else can you put in a mystery box that I haven’t seen already? And Rick Castle, I think I’m done with you and Kate Beckett. When you disappeared for 3 months on the way to your wedding–that was jumping the proverbial shark for me.

Chopped Castle

As Heidi Klum says, one day you’re in, one day you’re out. Heidi, you and Tim Gunn are in. I can’t give up Project Runway. And Gordon Ramsay, you might be as mean as they come, but I am addicted to you. Plus you added Christina Tosi to the MasterChef host crew, and a woman who kicks ass in the pastry kitchen is right up my alley.

Project-Runway-Bridal

The home cooks will need to create an elevated dish using peanut butter and jelly.

I got so involved in getting my study area organized Saturday night that I completely FORGOT that I had a ticket to the Hall and Oates concert at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. Daryl and John, I have not outgrown you, I just have a very busy life right now. I’ll be there next time!

Hall and Oates The_Greek_Theatre_Berkeley_Sign Greek

I used to take the time to put in my contacts and make sure I looked nice before I left home in the morning. Now, as long as I am wearing clothes and have coffee, who cares?

looking good today

If there were books left piled in the kitchen (rarely), they were about food and cooking. Now there is always a pile of reading, nothing to do with food or cooking either one! And the stack of books by the bed is going to get dusty before I get to them.

cookbooks texts papers bedside

Unheard of just a month ago, there are two loads of laundry that have been waiting days for folding. And my poor refrigerator is going to starve. For a fledgling vegan, I don’t have many fruits or vegetables on hand! But the pets have food, more important.

laundry refrigerator

So, why am I doing this whole school thing at this point in my life? Because it’s the most excited I’ve felt about anything in a long time. I finally found something, Humane Education through Saybrook University, that I am passionate about and maybe it will turn into a way that I can make a little bit of difference in the world. I feel inspired and fulfilled, feelings I don’t really get at work these days but feelings that I think we all deserve to have. And now on to that assignment on open access publishing…