I want to be strong, to be strong as the land around me
I want a heart that’s as wide as the sky
I want a spirit like a moving mountain stream.
I want to look people straight in the eye.
Walking along beneath a canopy of clouds
Feeling like a stranger in the midst of a crowd
I know that something great is calling me aloud
I know that I must choose.
The crowd is crying ‘cause there’s hunger and there’s hate
But if we care it’s not too late
A loving, laughing world we’re able to create
Underneath the endless sky.
From 1969 to 1974 I spent a week or two at church camp, counseling before that I had been a camper. In 1975 I found my way to heaven and spent my first summer working at a camp and then year round the next year. The first two years at a YWCA camp that was co-ed the first few weeks and then went to all girls for the rest of the summer. It’s the only camp that I worked out that while being up in the mountains that camp itself wasn’t really in the forest. We really only had scattered trees in camp there rest of the camp was in a vast meadow. Our kids there were mostly inner city kids, many from foster and group homes, sent on scholarship from the Times fund and from donors with a few kids from local YWs. This always made for an uneasy mix in the older kids. The little kids didn’t really care. They were having enough culture shock just being in the mountains and not in the concrete jungle. Some had never seen a chicken or a pig or a horse or any of the other barnyard animals we kept at camp. I’ll never forget the little boy who announced he was never going to eat another egg ‘cause chicken shit them when he saw a chicken lay one. He was offended when everyone laughed at him but it did make sense from his 5 year old point of view. My second year I got promoted to Arts & Crafts Director.
When the YW ran out of funds the camp director and a few of the staff got hired by the Girl Scouts as Arts & Crafts Director at a camp in Big Bear. That was a culture shock to me after being a Camp Fire Girl through Seniors. That was a hard year anyway because the staff didn’t really get along and I ended up getting poisoned and ending my summer a few weeks early. I’d already been struck by lightning that summer so it wasn’t my favourite year. I returned 5 years later to be Asst Camp Director and that summer was pretty miserable too.
But the next year I landed in Singing Pines, another Girl Scout camp. I loved Singing Pines. It’s on the break between the forest and the high desert and the San Andreas Fault is near camp but not easily visible. That camp was magic. We slept outdoors in shelters. There were no cabins, no hot water, no electricity, high fire danger, a pool that desperately needed renovation and the best staff and kids. Not everything was perfect but somehow it was always magic even the years where they had a plague scare or when we had Peter Pervert roaming camp at night. We learned to have fun and a sense of magic and humor and adventure. We did tons of practical jokes but I don’t ever remember a mean one. I remember singing, singing at every meal, singing while hiking or working, singing at camp fire and singing children to sleep and hearing lullabyes floating on the wind from a unit up or across the hill. We had all kinds of wild animals and more colourful bird species than any other camp I worked at. Some years I was just A&C and some years I was also Nature Director.
My last camp was a Catholic Girls camp that an old camp director and friend called me to 2 days before camp because they still didn’t have an A&C Director. I went into culture shock that first summer I was there. I was raised Presbyterian and pagan and my mom was horrified that I was going to work with Catholic. The big family scandal growing up was my Great Aunt Annie who became a nun. It took some getting used to. They were allowed to drink at night in camp. Big no no in most camps. There were nuns. I had never met a nun except mom’s best friend growing up, Pudgy. She was head of an LA hospital and ran around in full habit across the street from my grandparents when she visited her parents. I think she was BVM and this camp was one of the Sisters of Providence orders. And to top it off I was embarking on my first formal studies in the Craft and hiding books around A&C and hoping no one would find them. It was a great two years and I loved that camp but I always felt like a fish out of water. I had no clue about mass. Presbyterian liturgy is completely different. I was raised to see religious statues as idols and even without that the human figure has never been something that was represented in much Celtic art. It’s always animals and shapes in knotwork even before Christianity hit the Gaelic countries. I still don’t have many goddess figures around now.
They also did things like have a badge for the best in each sport or activity. Girl Scouts and the YW didn’t believe in that. You earned badges or patches by what you did but no one was the best in anything. I used to pick the kid that tried the hardest in Arts and Crafts because there was no way I was picking the kid that was the best. I just don’t believe in it when it comes to children and art. And when I took art in the classroom for my degree, one of the things the professor used to do was walk around the classroom and tell people at what age someone said something about their art because that is the growth stage their art stopped at because of criticism. I’m glad I refused but I took crap for it.
Anyway, next weekend is my camp reunion at that last camp and it will be fun. Can’t wait.
I don’t talk about my medical problems much on this blog. Mostly because I hate having them. Being a person with lifelong medical problems and disabilities is a pain in the patoot and I can’t imagine much fun for other people to read about. That being said, I’ve been in a lot of pain the last week or so and I was being stupid both by ignoring it at first and then creating horror scenarios for myself about what might be wrong.
When I went for my last set of labs I had horrible liver numbers so that was where my mind went first. But when I calmed down it didn’t fit. My eyes and skin weren’t yellow and I didn’t have any of the other gruesome symptoms I looked up for liver failure. Monday night I was hot and my sister and I had a loud argument about putting the ac on. I won because I pay the bills and that helped. Tuesday I was feeling like crap and mid-afternoon at work I started having a problem in my nether regions and having to inhabit the necessary frequently. Of course, this was a day I rode the Orange Line to work. Half way home I started feeling nauseated and barely made it off the bus at my stop before christening a trash can from 3 feet away. Hind brain was proud I could still distance barf. Strange thing, the hind brain.
That night I couldn’t get warm, mind you this is LA and it was in the high 80’s all day after a week in the hundreds, it was not cold. Hind brain started to wake up to the fact to what might be wrong, it didn’t bother to tell me until yesterday. I started to crave Taco Bell and then I knew what was wrong.
I never crave Taco Bell unless I have an ulcer. Sounds silly but it isn’t when my ulcer is creating holy hell I start craving a mild dose of peppers. This was confirmed when I took and herbalism class many years ago from my friend, Paul Beyerl. He’s a Master Herbalist and has written extensively and teaches now in Washington. Anyway, that afternoon he made us drink cayenne pepper tea and at the time my chronic ulcer was being its ugly self and it calmed it down better than the meds I was supposed to be taking. Sounds counterintuitive but it isn’t, peppers make the lining of the stomach produce mucus to line it in protection and when you have an ulcer that is exactly what you need to happen in the injured area.
I’ve had an ulcer off and on since I was around 9, the same year I was diagnosed with arthritis. They have gone hand in hand ever since. I’ve been pretty good about managing it the last 6 years and haven’t had any attacks and I had forgotten how it felt. (Like having a Samurai sword stuck though you front to back. This is compounded by the fact that the place I get them is low on the right side and not where most people get them. Since I know longer have an appendix or a gall bladder and I have been spayed there is very little left on the right side rather like the Tin Man so it didn’t occur to me it was the ulcer until I started craving Taco Bell nachos and sour cream. The light bulb went on and I called my doctor for a referral to my wonderful gastroenterologist. And then I went to Taco Bell for dinner after buying some omeprazole as a stop gap measure. And it’s probably Taco Bell tonight too.
I know I’m right because I felt better immediately after I had the first dose of cheese but I’m still going to the doctor and probably having to schedule the dreaded monster – endoscopy but it’s been a really scary week where I actually contemplated the emergency room a couple of times. I hate their version of the cure –drinking anesthetic in a milky chalk drink. Works but yuckers! Lunch will be an English muffin and some milky tea. Oh well, glad it’s just my stomach.