Friday, June 28, 2013

Confession of a Recovering Camp Addict


            Summer is always a bittersweet time for me because it inevitably leads me to thinking about my days at Camp Glisson. Every summer from 1981 through 1992, I spent my time there first as a camper then a counselor. When I look back at all the major life influences, Camp ranks pretty high up there.
First summer.
 

            I loved working at camp. Between working with kids, living right in the middle of some of North Ga’s most beautiful mountains, and learning lessons on being an adult and how to deal with people/responsibilities, I felt like I was in my element for the first time in my life. The awkward, unsure kid who kind of hated himself and never fit in began to recognize his self worth and began to grow into the very slow beginnings of manhood.

            I think this is why it’s so hard for me to talk and to write about. I’ve mentioned Camp a few times in this blog but I’ve never given it the full attention that it deserves. And I’m not doing it today either. The whole Camp Glisson saga has yet to grow into the story I want to tell and I refuse to push it into creation. It will happen one day but until then I can only offer glimpses.
 

            This past week has made me understand that my full camp experience wasn’t complete yet either. Up until Sunday, I had just assumed Camp was something you did as a kid and then moved on as adult sharing stories about hobo dinners and hijinks. Boy was I wrong as I learned yet another facet of the summer camp experience.

            Being a camp parent.

            Last Sunday, Kim and I dropped Roni off at her Girl Scout camp. Unlike the hour long trek which Mom and Dad took me over the mountain to Glisson, we only had had to 2 miles down the road to her camp.

            As I drove the minivan over the bridge, floods of memories struck me. I could remember that last staff meeting before the kids came and how Sparrowwood always did skits joking about the parents in their minivans.  I could remember David Dowd and then later, Charles Young, and I would frantically clean up our cabins to a presentable stage only to be distracted by the latest X-Men or Sandman comic.  Then I thought about how I felt as a kid when the Big Guy would drive through the front gates and the rise of excitement and fear in the back of my mind.

Will I like my counselor? Will the other kids be nice? What happens if my parents move away? Was Roni having thoughts like that?

            I never really got the chance to ask and knew better than to press a 12 year old girl on her feelings when other kids are present. For once, I just kept my mouth shut.

            I did do a few “uncool” things that I used to laugh at during my counselor days. I made Roni stay and pose for a picture with me. As I type this, I am laughing so hard at myself and my hypocrisy. During my younger days, I can remember cringing when parents made me pose for pics with their kids during drop-off.

I always wants to blurt out, “Jesus, Lady, you’ll see him in a week!”

            Now I get it.
This may be my new favorite pic of us....
 
Many kudos to this kid being so patient with me right now.
 

            I came to this late but still when I first met Roni, she was a little girl. After Roni allowed the picture and a goodbye hug, I watched her amble off to the main area. I watched a young lady who every now and then shows me glimpses of her mother as she grows up. Roni was doing that camper walk which I had forgotten all about but recognized instantly.

The Camper walk is a type of walk which  is a cross between trying to come off as confident but at the same time not wanting to draw any attention until the low down was figured out. I have honestly seen hundreds of kids do this walk to build themselves up to fit in. I’ve done that walk for many summers. Hell, I still do it every first day of school.

 I watched my daughter do this walk and it hit me that I’ve come full circle.

Camper, counselor, and camper Dad. Circle of life..
This Roni's dog, Buddy from a pic that I made into a card for her

Every camper has gotta get a care package, right?
 

            I have no idea if Roni’s camp experience will be as powerful as mine was but I hope so. I hope she makes friends whom she’ll remain in touch with some 21 plus years later. Friends that maybe she’ll read about daily in whatever her future version of Facebook is or catch up with over beers during vacations.

            All week long, I’ve had the strange urge to go back to my old camp habits. I’ve wanted to  sit in the dark on my front porch with my Dances with Wolves soundtrack  humming in the background while listening to the crickets do their thing, As I drink a cup of hazelnut coffee, I might steal a cigarette which during my camp days would stay hidden in one of those old metal band aid boxes.

Camp Glisson 1989? And mullets were all the rage, thank you...
            At this point, I’ve caught myself and began chuckling. My house is pretty awesome but it’s not set up to relive the Camp experience. Sure I have the front porch but I can’t play music out there at night. It’s in front of Jude’s bedroom which would wake him up.

I don’t smoke anymore (thank goodness) though I do sneak the occasional cigar but if I did,  Jude would give he his cigarette lecture and I don’t want that.
1992 Camp Glisson Staff
 

 I’d love to scare up a spade tournament like the ones we’d play after lights out but Ben George, Marty, Joe, Charles, and Dave are also all grown up now too living in their own homes with kids of their own as well. It’s a hard fact to accept some days to realize those camp days over twenty years ago. That’s where the bittersweet bit comes in.

I’m quite OK with my evolving camp experience as I drift into the next stage. I am guessing that tonight I’ll sneak a cigar over some hazelnut coffee and tell Kim long drawn out stories during a time when my life philosophy was based on “privileges of youth.” At some point, I am sure we’ll talk about picking up Roni tonight from camp and discuss all the stories she’ll have shared with us.

            Most of all, I hope the day comes when Roni drops her child off at his or her camp. She’ll want to make a big fuss because she is having waay too many flashbacks to her days at Camp Juliette Gordon Lowe but she’ll hold back so as not embarrass Little Robby or Kim only to later give in to her emotions and do the big hug and pictures.

            At that moment when my grandchild looks up embarrassed and says, “Mom please stop this isn’t really that big of a deal.” Roni will catch herself, stop, and to think to herself,

“Oh yes it is…..”

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

PhotoBomb Tuesday: It's Our 75th Post and Recipe!!!!!


            Welcome to our 75th post! To celebrate Photo bomb Tuesday and the creation of post number seventy-five, we bring you the obligatory Summer Recipe Post.

             Unless you are new to my blog then you know the ultimate carnivore my boy is. A while back the older sister experimented with being a vegetarian. Jude began to proudly proclaim he is a “meatarian.”  Jude is certainly a carnivore and his love of bacon and all things meat has always been something we enjoy to share.

            Last year for his birthday, I created his birthday burger which was basically 3 hamburger patties molded into one and wrapped with some bacon. Jude loved it. Four days and six hamburger buns later, Jude finally finished the “beef behemoth.”

            As his birthday came up, Jude began to talk about that burger and asked for a repeat. Being my father’s son, I couldn’t say no nor could I just do the same old thing. Thus lead to the creation of the Cheese Pizza Bacon Burger Behemoth II.

Here we go:

 

Usually, I have got the ground beef and make the patties myself but time was of the essence so I picked some fresh Angus beef patties from Kroger. It worked out pretty good.  
 

Next I wove several strips of bacon into a mat and baked them for about 10 min at 424 degrees. Keep an eye on it because different bacon cooks faster.
 

My friend Rebakah Kirby suggested placing bacon into the burger which I did here. Afterwards she informed me that the bacon should be cooked first. It worked this way but I’m guessing the cooked bacon would be better. If I was doing this for myself, I'd also have added some chopped fresh jalapenos(deseeded). Better than a bell pepper.
 
 

I fixed the patty back then wrapped it in bacon only to discover I didn’t have any toothpicks so I improvised with a bamboo skewer. Worked just fine.
 

 Here is a great grilling trick which I have discovered makes all the difference. When taking the patties (or for that matter and form of meat), don’t just put them on a plate and let them cool off. Remember they are still cooking on the inside. I place them in a Tupperware container which I can seal in the heat and the moisture. Since I have started doing this, burgers, chicken, and pork stay juicier. It’s wild. Try it. You’ll see what I mean.

 

Roni and I came up with the idea of making tiny cheese pizzas to be the buns. Jude’s favorite pizza place is right down the road from us so we asked the good people at Vincenzo’s if they could help us out. Jim, the main guy, was not only helpful, I could tell he loved the idea and really got into the idea. 20 min later, we had two awesome cheese pizzas awaiting their burger. BTW, if you really love a good pizza, check out Vincenzo's. It's my favorite pie in Savannah.
 







So here you can see the final product and all the fun we had making and I think Jude had eating it. I’d like to point out the placement of ketchup and honey mustard (which I swear has got to be part of this kid’s blood type) was Jude’s idea. It’s his burger so I didn’t argue and apparently Jude claimed it made even better.

Hamming it Up for the camera
 

So this wraps up this week’s Photo bomb and Obligatory Summer Recipe. I am already hard at work for next year’s burger and working on some ideas. If you have any ideas and suggestions, I’m all years. If you try the pizza burger behemoth, LMK how it turns out. Maybe you’ll add something that might even make it better.
video
 
 
            We promised to send some video to Vincenzo's so here is my attempt to start a career as their

pitchman. My favorite part is seeing watching the kids making faces for the camera while I get the

pizza buns. Who knows? Maybe Savannah's own Eat and Like It will pick this up and invite us to

their Burger Cook off.  Perhaps I need to get some better TV tips from Jesse Blanco lol
 
But how can you improve on pizza, beef, and bacon?
Cue Home Simpson drooling sound
 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Photo Bomb Tuesday




            I have a little time today so I thought I’d catch y’all up on the Tide through the magic of cell

phone photos. The following should bring us up to speed on some of the more major moments over

the past few months. Enjoy Photo Bomb Tuesday



 
     The Daddy-Daughter Dance or in this case, Step-Daddy Daughter Dance…..

I was flabbergasted when Roni asked me and we had a blast. Trying to be smart, I figured we’d show up and Roni would take off with her friends. Nope. The Duchess insisted on dancing with me as seen here. Pretty powerful stuff that night.


The best part of the night was towards the end when they played Louis Armstrong’s What a Wonderful World when the speakers blew. All of the Daddys in the house picked up immediately and we sang to our daughters. Not many dry eyes in the house…..


 
 
 

 

                                    Mary and Christine’s Big Gay Wedding

            My little sister got married to her long time girlfriend and it was not only beautiful but one of the funner weddings I’ve ever been to. SIlly hats were required for the reception

            My smart alec wife requested on the invitation that our wedding meals be served on “special” plates so this is what the lovely Mrs. Christine came up with. They actually microwave quite well.





     Mary and Christine are both librarians at Yale so it was an obvious choice they’d get married in

the Noah Webster House. Here Mary, Kaz (the minister), and myself are wearing some bonnets they

make the school kids wear when touring to get the early Americana feel.



Rehearsal in Mary /Christine's loft
 


Wearing her Pop's Lucky Cuff Links he wore to every IBEW St Pats Brunch
 

Mary's Angels
 


Jude and his Black Belt Buds at his Elementary Talent Show
 
 
Kim got the chance to interview the Grand Empress herself, The Lady Chablis for Savannah magazine. The two of them hit it off and we had a remarkable evening at Club One courtesy of The Lady. She was kind enough to sign my copy that The Big Guy and Mom gave me years ago.
 

 

 

Jude made Kim his first perfect omelette for Mother's Day
 



Roni's End of the Year Art Show for Garrison.
 
 The Lucas is one of the older theaters in Savannah and has a great film series throughout the year. This was their viewing of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Jude and I went in costume and took second. I’d like to point out Jude is wearing my old Star Trek Kirk Shirt from elementary school.  

Roni also grabbed my glasses while eating ice cream at Leopold’s. I’m startng to see a lot of Kim in Roni’s personality as she grows up. I’m in a lot of trouble. lol


Roni has left the building
 



 
 
We were even the Savannah Morning Press in their Spotted Section
 
 
 
Kim and fam as she graduates with her MFA in writing from SCAD. Proud Day!





Well, that was the last few months courtesy of my cell phone. Hopefully, I can a better blogger and write more regularly. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a pool calling out to me and sun worshiping to attend to.



 
 


Monday, June 17, 2013

In Which I Admit To My Elephant in the Blog


       Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. David Dowd turned me on to him waaay back in 1989 during one of our infamous stints as camp counselors at Camp Glisson. David had started reading some comic called Sandman. One or two issues and I was sucked into Gaiman’s writing where stories were told against the backdrop of dreams. One of my favorite supporting characters was Lucien the Librarian of the Dream Realm. Lucien was responsible for sorting and keeping not just all the stories ever told but also those that were “dreamed off.”  Needless to say, Lucien had a pretty big library complete with what David and I referred to as the Stephen King Wing.
 

 
 
            I share this because it sort of sets up my line of thinking. My last blog was in March and so much has happened since then. Loads of rich materials for me to mine for some great stories have passed back and forth in front of me. Don’t think I haven’t sat there and tried to weave a few new stories to share. Over the past two weeks, I have my share of blogs for Lucien to keep track of. There are at least three unfinished blogs stored on my jump drive. Frankly, I have worries this one won’t make it either.

            At first, I just chalked it up to lack of focus. No one has ever accused Robby Richardson of being highly focused and motivated. After that, I just figured I was swamped between school, getting the kids to where they needed to be, dialysis needs, and preparing for Mary’s wedding.  That wasn’t it either.

            My problem is actually quite ironic in that I had always hoped my blog would gather a small following but I never anticipated it being used against me or my family. I started this blog several months before I met my now lovely talented wife Kim. She also writes an outstanding blog. For the first time in my life, I really enjoyed the actual process of writing and then sharing which helped me to grow. Historically, when I write, I come up with a topic and if it sticks in my head for a bit, I just sit down and try to write as honestly as possible.

            Many moons ago, I wrote about an individual who kept popping up into our lives in a non-productive manner and I used this blog twice as a forum to vent my frustrations. In spite of never actually naming this individual or using any real information that could be linked to him, this leads to Kim in court mediation. The bottom line means Kim has agreed to no longer use this individual’s name in her blog and I have also followed suit. (Ironically, I have never actually used his name but stuck to the nick name, “The Lurker”.)

            This is the hard part to talk about. First, I don’t like to be told what to do especially when expressing myself. I had considered dropping the blog for quite some time. Truth be told, I was actually a small part of the equation and most of this court stuff was focused on Kim. I think my part was more of an afterthought by the lurker so I have tried to support my wife by not rocking the boat.

            It may sound odd but it’s hard to write in your own voice while second guessing all that you write. I’d ask myself as I type, “If I type this, can it be turned back on Kim and myself?” I also found myself trying to find clever ways to strike back. “Look at my beautiful family,” I’d think. “See what you missed out on?” But as I’d write, I began to see how this thinly veiled form of contempt began to poison my writing. I wasn’t just playing the Lurker’s game but allowing myself to get sucked in. I tried to write about other things going on but somehow I always returned to a dig at the Lurker.

            You never saw any of those blogs. Those guys have gone the way of the dodo. I’m glad I never printed those. I told some pretty neat stories like going to the Daddy-Daughter Dance with Roni, Kim’s Mother Day, Free Comic Book Day with Jude and his cousins, and my sister’s awesome wedding. Yet as special as these moments were to me, the writing was tainted by my constant need to thumb my nose at the Lurker as he frustrated my wife and upset our statjus quo. That’s not right and I freely admit it. It’s also not right to you as a reader. I have tried to share anecdotes about my life and the joys of being a step-dad and I allowed pettiness cloud my judgment.

            I don’t apologize for the previous entries. They were written honestly and from my heart. I didn’t lie or do those original blogs to call anyone out. There was no malice involved. It was an honest peek into the Life of Robby on that particular day. I won’t allow myself to say I’ll never write another entry like those again either. If I do, I do promise that it’s done because it’s a relevant situation and not a way to get a dig in. It’s taken me a few months to get here but I’d like to think by calling out the elephant in the room, I can move ahead as a writer and a storyteller. From here on out, I plan to keep writing without fear of reprisal and more importantly,not using my stories as a weapon.

            I’d also like to reiterate something I wrote a long time ago. My hand is always outstretched to work together, Mr. Lurker. For the sake and well being of those two little beings that I love dearly, I’ll gladly put myself out on a limb and always will. We don't have to agree but when we bicker, it's the kids who pay the price. Meet me halfway, dude....
 
 

            Now if you’ll excuse me folks, it’s my first day of summer break and I have a young lady I promised to take to lunch with her mother. Summer is here and it’s time to make it count…..