Sunday, December 29, 2013


So I think the fever might be gone now.  I spent yesterday hovering around 99.5-100 degrees, which is better than 102.7.  I slept well last night after generous doses of Advil PM and ZeeQuil.  I woke up with a dog on either side of me, keeping me warm.  I am very tired this morning, but managed to get out of bed and sit at the breakfast table.

Bill made biscuits and sausage and hominy.  I am the one who taught Bill how to make this dish.  I had never had sausage and hominy before 1993, when I worked as a cook at a Presbyterian church camp.  The kitchen manager was a local woman named Helen who had three part time jobs, three young adult kids, and a hard working husband named Emra.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I'm pretty sure Helen and Emra were lapsed Mennonites.  They had a very German name, lived in an area of Virginia where there are a lot of Mennonites, and they definitely looked the part.  Helen's daughter, Dawn, went to college with me and actually lived on the same hall as I did freshman year.  I got to know her and had asked her where she was from.  She said she was from Woodstock, Virginia, a place I'd never heard of.  I later found out she was actually from Star Tannery, where the camp was.  But she never told anyone that because Star Tannery is a tiny place that isn't always on a map and no one knows where it is… except for those of us who have been to the camp.

Helen's son, James, also worked at the camp.  It was his job to cut the grass, which was a huge undertaking, and do other maintenance type stuff.  I had kind of a crush on James for awhile, but as it is with crushes, later learned that it was good that my admiration was unacknowledged.

I think Helen had another son, but I didn't know him.

Anyway, since I was the cook at the camp, I talked to Helen every day on the phone.  She would bring me groceries and advise me on things to cook.  Sometimes, she would bring me recipes.  I can't say that I liked everything she suggested, but I did like sausage and hominy.  I think hominy is kind of a southern thing, though.  And it's kind of freaky to look at hominy, since it kind of looks like molars.  I do think it's tasty mixed with a little sausage, though, and topped on a biscuit with a little hot sauce.  It's not a dish we prepare often, but when we do, it does remind me of camp and the good times I had there.

Star Tannery, Virginia remains one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen.  I would love to live there, simply because it's just a gorgeous, unspoiled place.

The view from my kitchen at Camp Paddy Run...


  1. I feel sort of bad that I've never had the experience of working at a summer camp. Both of my parents did. My mom said sleep-over summer camps aren't as prevalent as they used to be, maybe in part because of greater awareness and paranoia of sexual abuse. (Maybe it's not parnoia; I really don't know.)I went to my uncle's tennis camp for four summers, which was fun. Maybe someday I'll be a camp doctor for a session of summer camp.

    Your flu sounds totally gnarly. I hope it is finally winding down. Take it easy in terms of returning to activity, as the last thing you need is a relapse.

    1. I worked at that camp by fluke. My college had a camp interview day and I walked up to my future boss (and the guy who performed my marriage ceremony) and started talking to him. He said they needed a cook more than they needed a counselor. As it turns out, I was a much better cook than camp counselor anyway. But your mom is right about sleep away camps going away. It's a real shame, too. That job was so much fun, despite the fact that it was church related. I'm still friends with a lot of the people I worked with there, too.


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