Coffee and Conversation: When Life Goes Ker-plooey…

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while. It’s time for Coffee and Conversation.

When I was six, my family was driving on a highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to know what those lives were, and to share my own..

Hi there! Today is my forty-fifth birthday, so it might seem logical to expect me to want to talk about that. And I will – sort of.

I spent the weekend sick – ickily, violently sick, unable to hold down even water, unable to stay awake or asleep for more than an hour or two. I’m not particularly prone to getting sick, but food poisoning in the form of a bad grape proved tougher than I was.

It was far from the way that I’d hoped to spend the weekend. My plans included mowing the lawn, hometending, writing, blogging, hanging out with my kids, and making the load a little lighter for my Accomplice in Mischief, Chef Bluebeard, who worked extra hours preparing food for weekend parties.

Camp Sweet Camp!

I couldn’t do any of that. Had the kids still been small and needing someone to tend to all of their physical needs, I wouldn’t have been able to meet their needs.

Nope, it wasn’t fun to be so sick and helpless…

And maybe that’s why I love those other weekends, like the one before this one just past. The ones that are full of connection and simple everyday magic; the ones that we can hold to when life takes an unexpected turn for the worse, and all of our plans get tossed aside in light of the new reality.

Lovely Camping Chaos.

I won’t spend time dwelling on the weekend just past. I’m feeling better, although it might be another day or two until I find my pace again. Better to let this weekend go, fade into the mists of time (except those parts which I’ll be using as research for a plot line rolling around in my head; I’m a writer, after all, and everything is potential story fodder).

These are two of her favorite things….

Instead, I’m sharing some more images from Unschoolers Rock the Campground – this time, our temporary home at campsite S28. There’s something about tent camping that I find both deeply challenging and deeply cathartic. It’s a lot of work to set up and maintain; many things aren’t as simple and thoughtless as they are at home.

Portable living room!

When I was growing up, camping wasn’t part of my life. I might be different, if it had been. I think it will be, for our children, who’ve been camping since they were not-quite-2 and 5 years old.

Camping requires more care; more attention, and more presence. It roots me in the moment, and centers me in the rhythms of nature.

And, somehow, that can help carry me through those other times- the weekends that don’t hold the same magic, even those when I’m too sick to do much of anything except survive.

Campsite S28.

So, as my birthday draws to a close, I’m happy we made the effort, that we lived this way for these few days, that I can hold to that as a buffer against a birthday where the plans I’d made to get together with a dear friend for physical activity, a tasty treat at my favorite cafe, and conversation that can span nearly a lifetime of sisterhood all had to be set aside, because I’m not yet up to them.

A simple, potent message. Our car wears it proudly, and I strive to live it.

It made a difference, too, in the way I approached the necessary business of this day. I needed to renew my license. I’d thought I could do it online, and so I put it off until late Monday, only to find that I needed an eye test – and the easiest place to get that was at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

I managed to get a healthy lunch!

Yes, it was a mundane and potentially unpleasant task, but I took a bit of the campground within me, and, on the way, I belted out songs from Jewel‘s Spirit album; windows down and sunroof open, enjoying a rare cool late-July day. At the DMV, I chatted with people – an elderly man with a walker, who was worried about his even more elderly mother, having surgery in another state; a woman and her son, who needed to get his new car registered so he could attend college in North Carolina; a man and his granddaughter, also there to register a new car; a young woman who turned 21 today, and wanted her updated license before dark, so that she could celebrate in an adult fashion not legal for her before now.

And then, with Jewel as my companion, I took the long way home, and enjoyed the fresh air and the ability to be out in it, after days spent indoors.

It was a good and happy birthday. I hope your day was happy, too!

What about you? Do you store up memories of magical times, to hold you against those that aren’t at all what you hoped for? Do you enjoy camping? Being in nature? Gathering with like-minded friends? Something else?

I’m not quite up to doing more than sipping my cuppa, still – but I’ve provided music, and I’ll be happy to serve you, and chat!

Campground Still Life.


  1. Happy belated birthday! I hope you’re feeling better.

    If I was going to camp, I would have to have a camper with all the facilities. I DO NOT go to the bathroom in the woods. LOL. My husband likes to camp, so he occasionally goes on two day hiking trips with friends from church. I have to have a bathroom nearby, so I don’t go.

    • I love learning these tidbits about my friends. Fortunately, we were at a campground, so there were facilities. Up a steep hill that seemed to get a bit steeper every trip, but still, they were there.

  2. I’m going to think of you every time I hear Jewel now. 🙂 So glad you had a happy birthday!

    I do store up happy memories to look back on, but I try not to draw comparisons — other than to say, “You know what? It’ll get better,” when things aren’t going so swell. And I enjoy camping, but really prefer nature by day and a hotel or bedroom by night. 😉

    • I love your approach! =D

      As for camping, there’s something enchanting for me in sleeping and waking in it. I love the quality of the light and the air as they shift, the calls of different birds,and the sense of everyday magic. Hard to define, but exquisitely beautiful, to me.

      Although there was one time when I demanded we live closed Crater Lake NP in the middle of a hugely snowy winter, and sleep in a hotel. We found a very nice one near Klamath Falls, and toured the preserve the next day. I have no regrets about that! =D

  3. Happy birthday! A day late,we’ll try and put that one down to the time difference…..Or something ;-)Such a shame that you were sick for the weekend, although glad to hear you’re on the other side of that.

    Your portable living room and portable living space look amazing by the way, must have been lots of fun to write in there!

    • Happy wishes are always welcome here, whatever their timing. =)

      We didn’t set out to own two tents. But the first year we made this trip, we inadvertently left our tent poles at home – and it’s a four-hour drive. So, we went to the local department store, looking for poles – and ended up buying a whole new tent, which we really love. Now that the kids are getting older, it’s very handy to have two, even though it’s usually only three of us who are camping (my husband is a chef and works weekends, when most unschooling events occur).

      It was very relaxing, and a safe haven from biting critters. A splendid time was had by all. =)

    • I’m a bit later, but better than not at all! =)

      Thank you. It was a fine day, all in all. My daughter made me a banner and a giant paper heart….pictures coming eventually!

  4. Man, talk about making lemonade! Proof positive that bad experiences do make for better writing. Bummer about being sick!!!! But good for you for salvaging so much from the experience. I’m at this moment waiting to meet my goddaughter for our own camping experience, so I TOTally feel ya! Hope all is better now.

    • We need the dark to appreciate the light….

      And being that sick has really led me to appreciate this weekend, when I feel nearly wholly recovered, and am able to meet life on my feet and with all my senses engaged again!

      I just visited your camp. =) Loveliness!

    • I’m convinced that broth you wanted to bring me helped. Even virtually, you are magic in a kitchen. And I’ll be sending you some pictures before the weekend – I have a lovely, lovely one of G! =)

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