Tuesday, June 8, 2010

I’ve started to get calls from newspaper reporters and even a few TV shows. They want to know where Gen is, and I don’t even know what state the camp she went to is in… What do you think I should do?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Okay guys, it’s Kristin writing again. I’ve got some more posts to put up, but I feel kind of weird about posting them. Because Gen is missing.

I mean, I think she’s missing. The last I heard she and a bunch of the kids from camp were heading to the electricity shack for a little party, and then I never heard from her again. It’s been awhile.

I’m wondering if she got caught having a phone at the camp? But if she did, I know her parents would at least let her send me a text letting me know that she was okay.

She’s been saying she thinks Nora has it in for her. What if something happened between them? And Ron and Betsy––what if Ka really was onto something and they really are cult leaders or identity thieves or something like that?

Don’t you think it’s weird that she’s disappeared right after finding out that all the 1890 stuff is a sham?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

I’m back! Can you believe that I found a place to charge the battery on my phone? Well, I did. Want to know where it was? This is the biggest piece of news I’ve had to tell anyone in a long time!

Okay, so... Nora? The poster child for Camp Frontier? You won’t believe what I found her doing.

She was typing.

At a computer.

In a special secret electricity shack Ron and Betsy have set up and don’t want anyone to know about.

Nora isn’t supposed to use the shack, but she sneaks into it every night when Ron and Betsy think she’s out walking in the woods or whatever. Nora and Caleb have been meeting at the electricity shack in secret since the camp began. They’ve been listening to everyone’s iPods. They’ve been drinking the Diet Coke that Betsy stores in a mini-fridge.

Nora explained that the shack is just to let her dad check out organic farming chat rooms, but I don’t know. . . Is Ka right? Are Ron and Betsy a front for some elaborate crime ring? Is more going on here than it would seem?

That would be AWESOME.

I can’t wait to tell Ka.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another meeting yesterday. Caleb was there... Can’t write now. I’ve been so careful about saving the phone battery while I’ve been here, but now it is about to die...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ka snuck out last night and came over after dinner. We spent an hour coming up with ideas for Ron and Betsy’s former lives. I’m not going to write them all because there are too many and I’m worried about my battery dying on me.

But okay, here’s one. This was maybe the best. Grizzly Bear Wrestlers in Circus Side Show.

This one’s pretty good too: Identity thieves (they’re off the grid because they’re on the lam).

Yoga instructors who had to leave the business because Ron’s so stiff he couldn’t touch his toes.

Spies in a forgotten sleeper cell left over from the Cold War.

Cult leaders who are pretending this is just a summer camp but really are jumpstarting a commune––just wait until the fall when none of us gets to go home!

Okay, I’ll stop.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My mom made butter last week, which was awesome, but here’s what’s not awesome: making butter is now my job.

Here’s what you need to do to make butter. After you get a bucket of milk, you let it sit on the counter for a day. Before long, some stuff starts to collect on the top—a skin—and then if you leave it, it gets thicker. That’s how you get cream. I know, totally foul, but you spoon that into this big wooden bucket with a paddle in it called a butter churn.

Then you sit there using the paddle to mix up the cream stuff until your arm feels like it’s about to fall off. You lift the lid on the churn, check to see if you’ve got butter, and see that no, it’s not even close. So then you get really depressed. Being depressed is an enormously important part of the process; you can almost tell how thick the butter is just by how defeated and miserable you feel personally.

But you keep stirring it some more anyway. It takes about five hundred million years before the stuff in the churn turns to butter, and by the time it has your arms are trembling, you have blisters on your hands, you hate your mom, and you promise that, to make it last longer, you will hardly eat any of this butter yourself. But it’s so good, that’s kind of a hard promise to keep, especially when everyone else is slathering it on everything like it’s free.

I Can’t Believe (I know how to make) Butter!

Making butter is the stupidest waste of time in the world, considering you can go buy butter in any grocery store in the world any day you want. But stupid or no, I know how to do it and in fact I’m getting kind of good.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

In theory, doing laundry doesn’t sound that bad. You heat up lots of water, add soap, soak the clothes, scrub them, wring out the dirty water, soak them again, scrub them again, wring out the dirty water––again––soak them, rinse them, wring out the water, rinse them a third time, and then wring out the water once more time before hanging them out to dry. Sounds easy, right?

It’s not easy.
Doing laundry is a nightmare.

Here’s the main problem with laundry (if you really want to know, and trust me, you don’t)––Everything starts off about ten times dirtier than normal laundry at home. I mean, the white shirts, the bibs and petticoats––they were brown. And on top of that, washing them doesn’t really help because the water you’re washing them becomes instantly filthy. By the end of the day, you’re hoping to get things to a place where they’re maybe as dirty as the stuff you would put in the hamper at home.

By lunchtime on laundry day, every pot we had was filled with hot water. There was a washtub on the floor overflowing with suds. My mom had got out this thing called a washboard which is made of wood covered in wrinkled tin and looks like something you’d use as a musical instrument in elementary school, but is actually something you’re supposed to use to scrub out the dirt from clothes––you rub them up and down on the board, and then wring them out, soak them in the water and do it again.

There were puddles of spilled water on the floor. Our hands were red and chapped. My mom had sweat pouring down her temples––God knows I could feel it dripping down my face too. The muscles in my upper arms were burning and so weak from trying to ring out these enormously heavy shirts and petticoats that I could barely get them to move.

I think I got more skin to rub off my knuckles than dirt to rub out of the clothes.

Last Sunday, when my mom said we had to get the laundry done this week and I had asked, “Do we take it to Betsy’s?” she laughed so hard I was worried they’d have to call some men in a van to take her away. Now I understand what she meant.

I was so tired last night I fell asleep sitting up on the porch.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

I milked the cow again! I can milk a cow! I’ve done it twice now––in the afternoon yesterday and this morning. Take that, Nora-know-it-all!
For dessert last night we had warm milk with a few spoonfuls of leftover coffee and this tiny bit of brown sugar my mom’s been saving as a treat––cafĂ© au lait.

Monday, May 17, 2010

So I did a really dumb thing with the cow. When Nora said, all super snotty-like, “You kids ever milked a cow before?” I told her I had.

So dumb, right? I knew right away it was. And that was before I’d figured out Nora was going to make me milk the cow in front of her. I’d thought maybe I’d figure it out on my own that night in the barn.

And Jezebel? The cow? Up close, she’s huge. And red, like she’s angry.

All I remember about what came next was standing in the kitchen. Nora had told me to go get the milk pail but I was so freaked out I forgot what I was even looking for once I got inside. My mom was saying, “Gen? What’s going on?” and I just stared.

I felt like I was marching to the gallows, walking back to the barn.

And then, you’ll never believe it, but I milked that friggin’ cow!

Remember when we used to milk those fake cows at the zoo with the rubber bags hanging down shaped like udders? Well, I guess I must have learned something.

The milk came out so fast, some of it even splashed me on the face! =)
Ron had told us that every family would be given a cow, but I’d forgotten all about it until this morning. Gavin and I were pulling up potatoes in the kitchen garden, and suddenly there was Nora, leading a cow by a rope. She looked like she’d marched right out of an illustration from a Mother Goose book, with her cap and her braid and her boots and her long dress that she wore like it wasn’t driving her totally crazy the way mine was.

Sometimes––and I know this is pathetic––I have to force myself to remember that Nora should not look normal to me, that 1890 should always cause a shock to the senses, but it’s hard sometimes to remember.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

My mom took this meeting way too seriously. She made us button all our buttons and wear stockings and Gavin had to wear his wool hat, even though during the day it gets really hot.

One of Gavin’s jobs is to carry ashes from the stove to a big bin in the outhouse. We all pour some ashes down the hole when we’re done. Everyone has ashes under their nails. Ew. When we were getting ready for the Sunday picnic my mom made us all scrub our nails clean.

Okay, the meeting: Can I just say how cute Caleb is? He wears this leather necklace and every time I see it I just about want to float away.

The rest of the meeting was horrible, though. Apparently you get graded on how you’re doing every week. We got the worst grade of the camp––a 4 out of 10. This other family, where they all have red hair? They’ve finished weeding their wheat crop while we aren’t even a quarter of the way into ours.

BTW: Some of the other families are cooking and eating their chickens. Ew.

Also at the meeting, I got to talk to Ka some more. She is starting to become my actual friend. Want to know something crazy? Her mom just got married to her step dad and they’re totally Brady-Bunching their families. For them, the camp is supposed to be bonding, but they actually hate each other.

But I forgot the best part of the meeting. After, when were all eating our food, Caleb came over and asked to trade some of his family’s chicken and cheese for my mom’s bread. (She’s getting better at making bread.) I’m pretty sure he was just doing it to be nice. To be nice to me!

When Nora noticed Caleb talking to me, she started throwing me these dark looks. I think she truly hates me.
Okay, calm down Ashley. I’ve gotten five texts from you in the last hour. I had to put the phone down because my mom was coming. But now I’m up in the loft and can type.

So: Caleb. I was running to find a hiding place and I didn’t see that he was already there. I almost sat on him, and then suddenly he was holding my hand, dragging me into the woods! Does this mean he likes me?

It’s confusing. I think Nora might actually be his girlfriend or something. I can’t tell. They’re together a lot.

After Nora saw Caleb and me together, she ran off into the woods and five seconds later, Matt, who was It, suddenly knew where I was. I know this is paranoid, but could she have possibly turned me in?

It doesn’t matter. I don’t care about Nora. I care about Caleb. I’ll see him later at the Sunday Meeting––all the families are supposed to meet at Ron and Betsy’s house once a week, like a church service. On the first day, Ron had explained that going to church was a big deal on the frontier and I’d been like, “Whatever.” But now, a Sunday meeting seems so much better than another day slaving away in the fields, I’m like, “Bring it on.”

Saturday, May 15, 2010

One more thing about Kick the Can last night. Something happened with Caleb (that’s the hat boy’s name), but I don’t know where to start. God, I wish you guys were here. It’s hard to type on this thing.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kick the Can is going on now. I’m in my hiding place. Did I mention that Ka and her stepbrother Matt are both the children of gym teachers? They’re taking the game really seriously.

Okay, Matt and Ka play kick the can like a couple of covert military operatives. My training at Camp Sunshine doesn’t even remotely measure up.
What kind of grown-up would want to play kick the can? Apparently all of them. They’re so bored, they all spontaneously showed up just to “watch.” But really, all of them were vying for invitations to get into the game. This man Anders was giving his son Erik such a hard time about not letting him in the game that my dad had to intervene.
BIG NEWS. There’s a game of “no grown-up” kick the can on for tonight. What kind of grown-up would want to play kick the can anyhow?
Gavin hunted around for forty minutes this morning and he finally found it. An egg! For breakfast!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gavin and me lying on our backs in the shade.
Gavin: Do you think that watching clouds in 1890 was what they did instead of watching TV?
Me: I don’t know but the idea that they considered cloud watching entertainment is maybe even more pathetic than the fact that they always had to eat beans.
Gavin: I think the beans part is just us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Last night, Gavin told me my butt was keeping him from sleeping so I pushed him out of the bed and then got in trouble. Typical.
My mom made bread yesterday. It took her all day. She made three loaves. They were so hard you couldn’t slice them. My dad finally broke off pieces with an axe and we kind of gnawed on them. Today we are back to grits.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

After a few days of beans, no one is feeling well. My mom said there was dried beef, but in frontier times, because they didn’t have fridges, you layered meat into barrels with layers of salt. Usually this preserved it okay, but if it didn’t work, you could die from the bacteria that lives in spoiled meat.

Gavin was like, “So you’re saying that all summer, our choices are beans. . . or death?”

I have to say I was laughing pretty hard at that.

We’re supposed to have eggs, but Gavin hasn’t been able to convince the killer chickens to lay any. And we’re supposed to have milk––Ron said he’d give us a cow next week.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Here’s what we eat: Grits. What are grits, you may ask? They are cornmeal cooked in boiling water. We eat this for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner.

The other thing we eat is beans. My mom will make a pot for dinner and then we will eat them again all the next day. When grits get cold they congeal (nasty!) and you can slice them. So we had cold sliced grits with beans spread on top for lunch. Double nasty!
Kristin told me she’s using my texts for her computer class blog and asked me to describe our house. Well, it’s pretty bad. There’s one room downstairs with a loft above where we sleep. The windows are small and it smells like burnt food and mildew. Nice, right?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Thursday: I haven’t seen another kid since Sunday. I wonder, What’s going on with Ka? Has all her goth make up worn off? Is she still making up stories about Ron and Betsy’s former lives, or have her jokes been sucked dry by all this *?#! weeding?

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

It’s Tuesday. I’m taking a break from weeding the cornfield. Not to sound like my Grandma, but my back is aching.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Actually, I kind of feel sorry for him.
Have I mentioned that there aren’t any screens on the windows and the bugs are horrible? Well, last night Gavin got a mosquito bite on his eyelid, and it’s swollen so bad he can’t open that eye. Good.

Friday, April 30, 2010

You know what’s worse than being caught by your little brother singing “Beat It” at the top of your lungs while you do a little corn-weeding? Having him follow you down the row singing, “Showin' how funky and strong is your fight. It doesn't matter who's wrong or right,” doing a little dance and stopping only to say, “Come on, Gen, you know you’re feeling it.” All morning long.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Have I mentioned that my dad is really freaked out by bears? Apparently one came into one of the cabins last spring.

My dad and Gavin went back to the house to get water. ARE there really bears out here? My dad said if you’re all by yourself you should sing to keep them away.

I think I might try that singing thing to let them know that I’m here. But the way I sing, a bear might attack me just to make me stop. And the only song I know all the words to is “Beat It.”

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Okay, get this: I am standing in the middle of a cornfield. I am holding a hoe. As my mom said when we were setting off to work in the field, we are farmers now.

Here’s the thing: being a farmer is BORING. I am halfway down one row, there are ten rows to go, and it’s already taken TWO HOURS.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Now guess what? None of us could go outside this morning because we forgot to feed the chickens and they were now waiting to attack us every time we took a step out the door. We were prisoners for, like, an hour. Until that girl my age whose parents own the camp came by with some food.

That girl’s name is Nora by the way. She still doesn’t like me. Or anyone. She was really snotty about the fact that we barely had anything to eat and hadn’t figured out how the pump worked.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

It’s the middle of the night now. Guess why I can’t sleep? Because I have to share a bed with my little brother. He’s ten! He’s a boy! He steals the covers! How is this even possible? I’m going to die.

This is what it’s like to sleep with Gavin: right now his pillow is soaked in drool. He mouth breathes and I can smell his nasty breath.

Not to mention he tosses around all the time and has pulled the quilt we are sharing onto the floor.

And that the mattress is hard and thin and laid on top of a hammock woven from rope that digs into me at every time I move.
Is this really going to be me for the rest of the summer––someone who pees standing on the outhouse bench, guessing where the hole is?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Oh, my God. Oh, my GOD. I just used the outhouse. For the first time. It was dark. I was feeling around for the seat with my hand and it was slimey! EEEEEEEEWWWWWWWWWWW!!!
There are a lot of little girls. Carrying dolls. It’s like some sick zombie Doll Club. Kind of gives me the chills, to tell you the truth.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oh, and I forgot. There’s a totally funny girl named Ka who is a little younger than me. It’s hard to tell what anyone’s like when we’re all dressed in these costumes, and her makeup’s mostly rubbed off, but under her sunbonnet there’s a lot of white. She might be goth.
I met all the other families at the camp at the first day picnic. There’s a girl and a boy my age. The guy is really cute. He’s wearing the hat all the men have to wear here, but you can tell he thinks it’s funny.

The girl––she’s the daughter of the family who runs the camp. I haven’t even really talked to her, and she already hates me. I guess that’s because I laughed at her for having made a bunch of dolls.

Friday, April 16, 2010

I feel I have to tell you that my mom and I are wearing almost exactly the same thing, which reminds me of the matching mother-daughter dresses she tried to force me to wear on Christmas when I was ten and already way too old for it. Do you think if I’d just sucked it up about the mother-daughter dress back then, my mom would have gotten this kind of thing out of her system and let me to spend the summer hanging out at the rec center pool where I belong?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I can’t remember when this one came in. (MR. S., can I stop introducing them? It’s getting hard to think of anything to say.)
Ron’s wife Betsy was dressed in this crazy Pillsbury dough boy outfit. A long dress and an apron. She had this big smile spread on her face. She said, “Welcome to 1890.” When I said, “So 1890 is the year we’re pretending it is?” she looked at me like I was crazy. “Oh, no,” she said. “1890 is the year it is.”

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

She sent this one later that first day:
When the camp director Ron met us at the airport, all of that Amish stuff we learned about in sixth grade came flooding back. Ron looked Amish, except the Amish are usually driving buggies and making pretzels, and Ron was holding a sign that said, “The Welsh Family”––that’s us––as if he were some kind of celebrity limo driver gone wrong.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My computer teacher––hi Mr. S!–– told me I have to talk about who Gen is before I slack off on doing the actual writing for this assignment. So let me see: Gen is 13. She and Ashley and I are best friends. We all just finished eighth grade. Gen and I are on the soccer team together––we’re full backs. Ashley doesn’t play soccer because she’s scared of balls flying too close to her face.

Mr. S. said that wasn’t enough, so okay, here’s more about Gen:
Birthday: September 18
Sign: Virgo, but I will tell you she thinks signs are a little dumb
Hair: Brown, long, mostly in a ponytail
Eyes: Brown
Style (Ashley is fashion-obsessed so she made me put this in): But Ash, Gen doesn’t even have a style!! Just kidding, Gen, in case you ever read this. Gen wears jeans every day and t-shirts she thinks are funny. She’s pretty but doesn’t wear make up or anything.

Okay, more about Gen:
Music: She isn’t that much of a music person. She really loves the Beatles. She has a lot of classic rock on her iPod.
Favorite joke: Gen still thinks it’s really funny in soccer practice when out of nowhere someone pulls someone else’s shorts down. (FYI she gets really mad when someone does it to her.)

Favorite subject in school: Gym. After that, English.
Favorite movies: High School Musical 3. Just kidding! She loved Bring it On. Blue Crush. Twilight.
Favorite show: Veronica Mars
Relationship status: Single
Siblings: Gavin. He’s 10. Pasty and pale. A video game addict. When we have sleepovers at Gen’s he sits outside the door, eavesdropping.

Gen’s most inspiring moment: This past spring our soccer team was looking like we might go undefeated, but in the last game of the season, at halftime, we were down 2-0. Gen looked at us each in the eye. She gets this face on when we’re in a game, and she had it on now. “Let’s DO this,” she said. And that was it. But I felt so pumped up––everyone did––and then we won!

Last time I saw Gen before she left for Camp Frontier:
The night before she left––school wasn’t even out yet. She was packing. Her blue Speedo bathing suit hung on her closet doorknob. When I said, “Don’t forget that,” she burst into tears. Apparently, at this camp, if she was going to swim, it would be in some kind of a stream and she’d have to go in her underwear as bathing suits hadn’t been invented in 1890. Whoah.

Here's the first post I got from Gen. It came on the first day they were at camp:

Help! I'm dressed up like an American Girl Doll minus the fashion sense. My sleeves are so tight I can't lift my arms above my head. Is this the new me?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hello world. This is Kristin. Mrs S is making us do a blog for computer class and I can't think of anything to say. She won't let me go to lunch until I've written something.
I've had a brilliant idea - my friend Gen is stranded at some crazy camp her mom is making their family go to. It's a place where you pretend you're living inside the Little House on the Prairie books. Does that sound cool (um, no!!). There's no TV, no computers, no iPods. They don't even have flush toilets. Yuck.
Anyway, Gen snuck in a phone and has been texting me. If I turn her texts into a blog, I won't have anything to write myself. Yes! Yes! Yes!