Friday, March 23, 2012

Concerning Golf Carts

Before working at a camp, I never really thought that much about golf carts.

Now, they're a part of my everyday life.  There are several golf carts at camp and they each have a number.  And, I know it seems crazy, but each numbered golf cart has it's own personality.

Take, for example, The Phantom.  My first summer at camp was the same year all the golf carts arrived.  I was only summer staff, so I didn't have much to do with the golf carts.  I didn't pay too much attention to them, but at some point, Number Three began going by "The Phantom."  I don't know the story behind this nickname, but I'm pretty sure there is a story of some sort.  Somebody actually put vinyl letters below the number 3 that said The Phantom.

Recently, I was doing my laundry late into the night, as in later than one in the morning, so I was going back and forth through the same passage rather frequently.  The last time I walked through that passage (very late), The Phantom was there in the passage, plugged into an outlet and charging, next to a room where no one lives.  It hadn't been there before, so I jumped out of my skin when I saw it.  (Come to think of it, strange things tend to happen when I'm doing my laundry late at night.  Maybe I should change my laundry time.)

The next morning, I got up around 7:30.  The Phantom was already gone.

Nowadays, as full time staff, I frequently use a golf cart during the day if I need to run several errands around camp.  I almost never drive The Phantom.  Not because of the name; simply because The Phantom lists dramatically to the left and that gets rather annoying.  However, a few days after the laundry night incident, The Phantom was my only option other than my feet, so I took it.  After accomplishing a few things, I realized I had left something behind in my office, so I drove back, parked The Phantom in "the golf cart shed," and ran in my office.

I was in there maybe two minutes.  When I came back out, The Phantom was already gone.

Like I said, I almost never drive The Phantom, but I'm not picky.  I usually just run to the golf cart shed, hop in a cart that isn't The Phantom, and take off.  I never even look at the numbers, because you don't have to look.  If you just glance, you can tell which one is The Phantom because it leans so much.

Probably 9 times out of 10, I end up grabbing Number Five.  I don't know why.  I just do.  Out of any number of carts that may be in the shed, I almost always hop in that one.

You wanna know Number Five's quirk?  It beeps when it's in reverse.
It beeps in about four different tones, choosing randomly at it's own free will.

You wanna know my favorite tone?  (please sense the sarcasm here)  The one that sounds like a cat dying.  Something like "mrrraaaammp" (yeah, I should never try to be an onomatopoeia-spelling-inventor).  It's just an awful sound.

Number Five is a green golf cart (as is The Phantom).  I've started trying to only grab red golf carts.  We'll see how it works out.

Also?  I'm considering giving Number Five a new name - The Dying Cat.
Oh, you don't think it would be a good idea to get vinyl letters made?

Monday, March 19, 2012


Today my body can't decide if it wants to really commit to having a cold or just flit back and forth on the edge of one.  Personally, I would rather not have anything to do with a cold, so I'm eating oranges, taking vitamin C, and hydrating with cold water and hot tea.


And I'm sure those socks are doing something beneficial for me right now.  Guys.  I just need you to know how crazy I am.  I decided I wanted to wear these socks, so I tore apart my sock drawer to find them.  I wasn't even going anywhere special.  It was just so important to me to have those socks right then.

I'm so weird sometimes.

Today there is a Tornado Watch in place til 1 am, so I'm not sleeping in my house tonight.  The last time a tornado came through here I was scared to death that I would blow away in the middle of the night.
So I'm sleeping in The Lower Motels tonight.  The Motels are retreat facilities that are turned into housing for female summer staff when Summer Camp Time comes around.  They hold lots of lovely memories for me and I'm hoping for a good night's sleep to knock this almost-cold off it's feet.

Today I heard people talking about not using the Christmas lights as much any more, which made me incredibly sad, but fortunately I have a whole atrium of permanent Christmas lights that I get to walk through whenever I go to the laundry room.

I love them a lot.

Today I figured I would talk to you about my thoughts on photo editing, because why not?
I've been a "photographer" (definition: someone who takes pictures) for quite a while now, and I now have a fairly nice camera, so I feel a little more like a legitimate photographer than I used to, but the one photographer-thing that I've never had any desire to acquaint myself with is Photoshop.  I've just never had any desire to adulterate my images.  I don't really see any reason to ever have anything to do with pictures that have clearly been "Photoshopped."

However, once upon a time I ran into a photographer friend (a much more legitimate photographer than I) at Java Jack's (where all good things happen), and we just started talking and he mentioned Photoshop Lightroom as being very helpful when you just want to slightly adjust the lighting in a picture.

I must confess, I often want to slightly adjust the lighting in a picture.

So, long story short, I ended up with Lightroom, and became addicted to using it.  The first time I posted "Lightroomed" pictures on this blog was back in September and I haven't stopped since.  But recently I've started feeling like maybe my pictures look too "Photoshopped."

You know, rather than just "Lightroomed."
So, I want you guys to tell me what you think.  Do the pictures on my blog seem too "edited" to you?

I'm pretty sure I'm starting to sound silly right now.  But I already revealed my sock drawer incident, so I might as well show you my other quirks too, right?  But really.  I do want to know what you think.

Oh, that camera lens mug back there?
I thought you'd never ask.  It was a graduation/going away gift from my coworkers at my old job and is definitely one of my prized possessions.

I'm hoping it doesn't blow away tonight while we're separated.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Perfect Day

On Thursday, one of my very dear friends from home, Christine, had a birthday celebration at the Houston Zoo.  She'd invited me a few weeks ago and sent me a message saying she totally understood if I couldn't get off work, but that she had decided to invite me because she would really love to have me there. I really wanted to go, but I pretty much assumed I wouldn't be able to go.  You see, this past week was Spring Break, a perfect week for my friends who are either college students or high school teachers to have a trip to the zoo, but a horrible week for me to try to go anywhere because I work at a retreat center.

At a retreat center, "Spring Break" means "the-time-when-there-are-a-lot-of-guests-all-week-and-pretty-much-all-of-the-employees-are-doing-two-or-more-jobs-at-any-given-moment."
Not a good time to suddenly ask for a day off.
In fact, when I first got Christine's message, I was brave and asked for the day off that very afternoon (technically two week's advance notice), but then the next morning, when I saw all the work that had to be done, I retracted my request.

Fast forward about a week, and my sisters are here visiting.  I'm not sure what it was, but something about that day with them made me really really want to celebrate Christine's birthday with her.  I started thinking how great it would be if I could go and surprise her.  Honestly, the surprise idea was the simplest way to disappoint the least amount of people.  This way Sarah and I could just talk about it and plan it in hopes that somehow it would work out.

You see, besides the fact that it was Spring Break, there was also the fact that I don't have a car right now.  So, at first the surprise idea was just something that Sarah and I told each other was a nice idea, with no real expectation of it actually working out.

Then, the next morning (that's Tuesday morning), I looked at the schedule for Spring Break.

I was not on the schedule for anything (besides my actual job) on Thursday.
That in itself was a little miracle.

So I thought about it all day and even half-heartedly felt out the possibility of borrowing a car from one of my co-workers for "any time in the future if I might need to go to Houston or something."
That didn't seem too promising, and, honestly, I didn't expect it to.  I don't let people borrow my car (or, didn't let people borrow it when I had one), so I generally avoid asking people if I can borrow theirs.

Then, Wednesday morning came and out of nowhere I just had a burst of confidence that it would work out and I would be able to go one way or another.  So I asked for Thursday off.

Please note that Thursday traditionally comes immediately after Wednesday.  Consult any calendar you wish and you will find that's the way the week works.

Also, please note that I used to work in Career Services where, on a weekly basis, I conducted a training for student professionals that drilled into their heads that they should not give less than two week's advance notice  of a day-off request except in the case of illness or emergency.

So here I am doing something that goes against everything I've ever taught other people.
Fortunately I have a very gracious and understanding supervisor and he gave me the day off.

But there was still the fact that I did not have a way to get to Houston.  Finally at the end of the day, I worked  up enough courage to outright ask someone to borrow his car the next morning and take it for a spin in the big city.  Wouldn't you know he let me borrow it without any qualms.

Thursday morning I sort of couldn't believe this was actually working out, but it was.  I was on my way to Houston to surprise Christine.

Now, here we might should mention that I have never been able to pull off a big surprise in my entire life.  I really don't even try.  I just blab entirely too much about big things like that.

So, I get to the zoo and parking is simply crazy because, you see, it's Spring Break and not only is Spring Break a good time for College Students and High School Teachers to go to the zoo, it's also a great time for young families to go to the zoo, so the zoo is requiring everyone to park in the Hospital district because the regular zoo parking lot is full.  After navigating the zoo of Houston traffic, I finally find a parking space in a garage that looks like this on the outside.


I'm not kidding.  It's gorgeous, right?  But don't let the outside fool you.  The inside is treacherous - full of sharp turns and steep hills.  Not fun.  Especially not fun in somebody else's car.

I get out of the parking garage and am so turned around I have no idea where I should head to get to the zoo because there are lots of signs that say "Zoo Parking this way," but no signs that say "Zoo this way."

I stand for just a moment and take in the scene.  I am basically surrounded by two types of people:
1)  People in scrubs (I'm in the hospital district right now, remember?)
2)  Young families
The part of the Hospital District that I'm in?  St. Jude's, of course, so I have no idea if any of these young families are headed to the zoo or to the Hospital.

I find a red-headed mom with two kids and a grandmother with an iPad.  They seem lost too, so I ask them if they're headed to the zoo.  They are!  So we join forces, become friends, and navigate to the zoo using the iPad.

All this time, Sarah's sending me texts like "at the tigers!" and "entering the African forest"  Pretty entertaining.

So I finally make it into the zoo and text Sarah to say that I've arrived.  I look up from my phone and see giraffes, so I start walking toward them because they're one of my favorites.  I'm waiting for Sarah to text me and sort of glancing around and suddenly I see Christine about three yards ahead with her back to me, taking a picture of Sarah and another friend in front of . . . the giraffes!

The opportunity to scare Christine is just too perfect, so I walk up behind her, holding my finger to my lips because the others have noticed me by this point, and poke her in the ribs.

She turns the other way from me, notices a woman walking past, and, as I found out later, thinks "Well, that woman had some nerve."  I say "Hey," and she turns around, and we both scream so loudly that our whole entire quadrant of the zoo turns to see what the commotion is.

It was a beautiful moment and I cannot begin to tell you how wonderful the rest of that day with my girls was. There are some friendships that I will not lose without a fight.  And these girls are definitely not going anywhere for a long time, no matter how much physical distance may separate us.

Although I won't try to tell you how wonderful the day was, I will share some pictures (and a few words) with you.

I just love elephants so much, and this baby was such a joy.  It reminded me of Babar the elephant from one of my favorite childhood stories.  It's just so fuzzy and has such darling eyelashes!

Clearly I just love hoofed animals in general.

And birds too.  The more colorful, the better.

After our lovely day, we went to the Cheesecake Factory and sat in a booth thoroughly enjoying the benefits of Daylight Savings Time, namely eating our entire dinner with natural light streaming in the windows.


This is definitely one of my favorite pictures of these two.

It was cold in the restaurant, so I ordered coffee.  It came in a glass cup, and what's a girl to do when she receives a glass cup of coffee but take pictures of the creaming process?  (Or have her sister take pictures of it.)

Good job, Sarah!

Eventually, of course, the day had to end, but let me tell you, I am still smiling because of it.

Sister Time

What?  You didn't know "out for the weekend" meant you wouldn't hear from me for the next nine days?

My time with the sisters was fantastic.  There were a few hiccups in the morning and we got to Austin later than we had intended.  (I may or may not been a little over-dramatic about things.  Sorry sisters.)  But once we got to Austin, we had a simply beautiful day:

12:15 - Watched The Secret World of Arrietty (based on the book The Borrowers) and really enjoyed it.  For me, the best thing about this movie was that, even though Baby and I are nearly ten years apart, we had both read this book and could enjoy the movie equally and comment on it as peers.  So we all thoroughly enjoyed our little splurge.  Oh, why was it a splurge, you ask?  Because we went to the Alamo Drafthouse, which was awesome.  Since we had eaten breakfast not too long ago, we got milkshakes, of course, and had a blast even though we missed the first fifteen minutes of the movie.

Somewhere around 3:00ish - Went to the mall and ate "lunch" in the food court.  There's just something so good about a greasy piece of mall-food-court-pizza every once in a while.

3:30ish - Just walked around and around the mall talking and laughing

Finally, at about 6:00 - Did a little shopping

8:30 - Ate more unhealthy food.  Fresh pretzels + dinner = happiness

9:00ish - Headed home

Late into the night - Played a full game of Phase 10 with the co-workers

It was beyond lovely to have a day of completely disregarding time.

Friday, March 9, 2012


Let me tell you about today.  Today has been one of the dreariest days I've seen in a while.  It's been pretty much rainy and gross for the past 24 hours.

You're right.  I shouldn't complain.  There was a day not too long ago when my state, especially the town where I go to church now, in fact, needed this more than words could say.  But how quickly we forget these things.  And, let me tell you, when it's wet and cold, I'm the first one who turns into a big baby about it.  In fact, I'm pretty convinced that my body/emotions have a greater dependence on sunlight than other people. One rainy day and I'm pretty much down.

When I first moved here to camp, it was rainy all the time.  I thought I might never stop wearing rainboots.  Okay, maybe that's a little bit of exaggeration, but seriously.

So. Much. Rain.

And it came back in full force today.  But somehow, despite the rain and the cold, I've been on cloud nine this whole time.
(I never say "on cloud nine," but we'll just let that be for now because it's true.)

The littlest things have been making me so happy lately.  Really I'm (almost) always this way.  It's nothing unusual.  But the fact that the happiness is combined with a gross rainy day is pretty great.

Today I decided to run around and take pictures of all the things that have been making me happy, so maybe in the future, when a particularly dark and rainy day comes along and knocks me down, I can come back and look at these happies.

My favorite flowers are blooming


These are always the first wildflowers to bloom here in Texas.  Sometimes they even come before leaf buds on the trees!  There is one unfortunate thing about these flowers, though.
They're called Onion Flowers.
And my other favorite flowers?  Bleeding Heart.  No, really.  You should go look them up.  They're gorgeous.

Hot Tea
I'm pretty sure that, in the last 24 hours, I've had at least six cups of tea, if not more.  Here at camp we have only Tazo teas.  Here are (some of) the ones I've been enjoying.


I have learned to love them, but they're not my absolute favorite.  I like Twinings.
A while back, a lovely friend went to Great Britain and brought me back a variety pack of Twinings in which there was a tea called Lady Grey.  It's basically Earl Grey with some citrus added.  It's my absolute favorite.  And today, I walked into a conference room which I hardly ever go into and found



not one stray bag of Twinings Lady Grey.  I found one whole box of Twinings Lady Grey.

Daylight while the lights are out in the house



New Dishes
I must make it clear that these are not fancy dishes.  Only plastic.  But I love them a lot.


My New Mustard Colored Pea Coat


I like to buy coats on clearance in the spring, so I probably won't be wearing this one for a while, but somehow just it's presence in my room makes me feel warm and cheerful.

Books Against My Mirror


As I have no bookshelf, I improvised, and I am so pleased with the result.  So pleased, in fact, that I decided to take artsy pictures of said books and mirror.



The way that last picture combines photography and writing (my two loves) makes me ridiculously happy.

Salt Water Taffy


I went to the Houston Rodeo recently and bought some.  I've been savoring it for a while and it makes me so happy.

And, since I am girly after all, New Aquage and Old-but-still-fun Nail Polish


And lastly, My Sisters Are Here (Sorry. No photo for this one.) And I am giddy with excitement!  So I'm out for the weekend.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Becoming Rosie

Working as a Recreation Assistant, working full-time, and working at a camp full-time are all new experiences for me. And yes, "working at a camp full-time" is a completely different animal than "working full-time". I'm not trying to claim that one is harder or easier than the other. They are just both completely new experiences and I'm having to get used to them simultaneously.

Of course these new experiences each come with their challenges. In fact, if you know me well at all, you probably had to do a double-take at the beginning of this post to make sure that you were, in fact, reading Esther's blog and that she was, in fact, working as a recreation-anything.

I am not the most athletic person you will ever meet.  I am probably one of the girliest.
That is why I have been so surprised by myself lately.

I now carry a screw-driver everywhere I go like it's no big deal.
I actually (usually) can fix things if they're broken.
I am regularly seen in windpants or jeans and a t-shirt. (Just to give you an idea of the kind of thing I used to wear on a daily basis, every outfit in these pictures was chosen because it was the kind of thing I wore all the time while I was in college.)
I hardly ever wear makeup anymore.

I've learned things about myself that I never knew, and I feel more confident in myself every day.
This job is a good thing for me.

Many times throughout the years, I've helped my dad with the manufacturing part of his sign business. One time, my job was to put rivets in the sign in designated places. I was so afraid I would use the riveter the wrong way or mess something up. I've never felt comfortable using tools of any sort - not even a hammer! But, by the end of the night, I had mastered the art of using that particular tool. Dad congratulated me and called me "Rosie the Riveter." The name sort of stuck through the years (mostly, I think, because of how very unlike Rosie the Riveter I actually was).

But now? I actually feel like I'm growing into that nick-name.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Things I've Learned

I've learned many things since I moved to camp.  Most notably:

1)  If you misplace an important article such as a-padlock-displaying-the-combination-for-every-padlock-on-the-property-where-you-work, do not spend the first two hours of the next morning retracing all of your steps instead of going into the office.  As soon as you walk into the office, you'll find the padlock in the pen-cup on your desk, where you put it last night before leaving, thinking, of course, "I definitely won't forget that it's here."

2)  If you're doing laundry, which requires you to walk about 100 yards to the laundry room, around 11:00 at night, do not be alarmed when you hear other footsteps on the gravel path.  It's only some co-workers out for a jog . . . at 11:00 at night.

3)  Telling your male supervisor that you just started your period in order to explain the fact that you suddenly feel really bad and have to go home immediately is not as awkward as you might think it would be.
Seriously, I was terrified about this one.  Having worked exclusively for women my entire life, I had no idea how that would go down.
All I can say is praise the Lord for married men who understand this sort of thing.

My life has a color scheme.


Any guesses as to what that scheme might be?

Also? Yes.  I broke down and made a new label.  We'll see how this works out.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A New Home

Sorry everyone for the recent long (and unintentional) hiatuses (hiati?).

Life happens.  Computers crash.  You move halfway across the state to one of your favorite places.  You think about blogging, but you don't actually blog.

I think you get the idea.

But don't worry.  I'm back now.  And, without further ado, I'm going to show you pictures of my new home.  It is indeed a beautiful place to be and I am daily reminded of how blessed I am to be here.

First, let's go through the entrance.


That's looking back through the entrance after we came through it at about dinner time.
I told you it was beautiful.  Have I ever told you about my secret obsession with Christmas lights?  Or, maybe not so secret if you know me in person, because, every time I drive past a house with Christmas lights, it's very hard to resist saying "Christmas lights" in baby talk.

Let's be real here.  98% of the time I can't resist.

Fortunately for my co-workers, in the time since I moved here I've learned to resist that temptation, but I love them none the less for having learned to restrain myself.

But isn't God good to have planted me in a place where they believe in Christmas lights in March as strongly as I do?

The lights are actually because of a new thing here called Lights of Tejas which is great.  Yes, that was a shameless plug for work, and yes you should totally show up this Christmas.  (I know you're all already planning for this Christmas . . . )

Oh gosh, now I have that Christmas song stuck on my head.

Another thing that I absolutely love about Tejas is the sky in general.  It's just so fantastic at any time of the day.  I think the reason I'm so in love with it is that I'm from a very hilly, densely wooded part of the state, and the opportunity to turn 360 degrees and see sky all the way around was practically nonexistent for most of my life.  So of course views like this are incredible to me.


But don't you worry, we do have trees here.  One evening, I walked out of my house, headed to dinner, and glanced to my right.  I froze, gasped, turned around, and ran back into my house to get my camera because this is what I saw.


Definitely worth behaving like a Grizzly bear was after me, don't you think?

Another thing I love about Tejas is the picturesque buildings.  These are the two on either side of my house.

Sorry it's so blurry.

And yes, those are Christmas lights you see above that yellow door.

Yeah, yeah, I know these are both at night, but I was also showcasing the moon in them (another thing I love about Tejas).

I was only half-joking in that parenthesis.  We've been having some incredible moons here lately that cannot be captured on film, as you can tell from my efforts.

There really is just something about the sky at Tejas.  It produces awesome stars (which I tried to take a picture of, but unsuccessfully), awesome moons, and awesome sunsets.


Are you in love with my new home yet?  I'm sure some of the more observant of you are saying "Sure, but where are the pictures of your actual home that you live in?  The mysterious 'house' you mentioned earlier."

Well, unfortunately, you will probably never see pictures of the outside because it doesn't look anything like the picturesque buildings I showed you above.  But something tells me you'll be seeing pictures of the inside because, even though this space is only temporary, my housemate and I have cozied it up as much as we can and I'm rather proud of what we've done to it.
But that's a story for another day.

Today's story is this:

Help!  I have no idea what to do about my labels. They're going to get all mixed up.  Now "Work" is going to be "Camp," and "Camp" is going to be "Work" and "Home."  I'm mixed up already thinking about it.
And that's also only half-joking.
It's rather distressing.
For now, I'll use "Work" when I tell a story about work (just like I always have, just it'll be about a different work now), I'll use "Camp" when I talk about the place where I currently live, and I'll use "Home" when I'm talking about the place where my family lives.
I feel better now.
Thanks for reading to the end of this forever-long post.
I promise posts will come more frequently and (possibly) be more succinct in the future.