Monthly Archives: August 2010

CC Monastic Experience 2010

So before I get back to campus (4 days!) and get started on my pre-study abroad, no class, calm before the storm adventure, I’d like to share an amazing experience I partook in earlier this summer.

No, I didn’t go to a llama farm.

Sponsored by the Scheffer Fund for Catholic Studies, I journeyed with a couple other students and faculty from CC to Richardton, North Dakota. We stayed at Sacred Heart Monastery and Assumption Abbey (girls and boys, respectively) and learned about the Benedictine Catholic tradition of monastic life.

What I was anticipating was lots of isolation and silence. A nice time to reflect, I thought. Not exactly!

Getting ready to depart from CC.

One thing that attracted me to a trip like this was that it was in North Dakota! Aside from Colorado, Utah, and a little bit of Wyoming, I’m still not familiar with the Midwest, and I was eager to explore a new section of it. If I had to sum it up in one word, it would be VAST. So much space! Coming from Connecticut, I’m accustomed to (for some) claustrophobic highways, constantly lined by trees, cliffs, or whatever nature fancies in that area. North Dakota doesn’t really have trees. In fact, all the greenery around the monastery and abbey (as you’ll see later) was planted!

I had lots of fun walking around the endless hills.

In high school choir, we sang a song titled On a Clear Day, You Can See Forever. That is truly the reality of this area of the country. Sure, the sky is blue, the grass is green, what else is new? What’s new is that it doesn’t end. You can see for miles and miles.

Sacred Heart Monastery

We girls had quite a time at the monastery. A great amount of “processing” (also known as chatting endlessly about our hopes, dreams, and minute details of our lives) went on, and we learned a lot about ourselves. Following the Benedictine tradition, we partook in prayer 3 times a day (with daily mass after morning prayer), working and learning in between. If you’ve seen (or even better, read the book) the movie Eat, Pray, Love, the time she spends in the ashram is vaguely similar to this, except the schedule is more like Pray, Eat, Work, Pray, Eat, Work, Play, Pray, Eat, Sleep.

Here’s glimpse of life at the monastery:


Me and Renee picking at the endless field of rhubarb.

Weeding the garden.

Hand-dying scarves.

Visiting the abbey: touring and getting some history lessons.

Playing The Vatican (a fun board game!) for evening recreation.

But most importantly, we got to experience an amazing lifestyle and meet the inspirational men and women behind it. I hope to come back and visit someday!

Michael weeding.

David weeding. guessed it! Weeding.

After we ran crazily towards the bison. Hey, Brother Michael egged us on.

St. Francis of Assisi, the perfect saint for this beautiful landscape.

I brought home so. much. rhubarb. It made four pies' worth.

Sacred Heart Monastery

Sad to leave!

Camp Life

Sorry I haven’t blogged all summer, but you just don’t miss the internet when you’re in a place like this!

Have you explored Rocky Mountain National Park? If you haven’t, please consider it. Fellow students, put it on your Block Break checklists. The two and a half hour drive from Colorado Springs to Estes Park is gorgeous enough by itself (you go through Denver, Boulder, Lyons….), and the destination is sublime. Though I hail from Connecticut, my grandparents own a cabin in this cute (and insanely touristy in the summer) mountain town, which hosts entrance to RMNP. I’ve spent a portion of every summer here since I was born, with four summers spent at a summer camp hidden in the town’s limits. This summer, four years after my final year as a camper, I came back for more!

Still acting like a silly camper.

The idea of coming back to work on staff didn’t occur to me until this past spring, when I was deep in frustration with failed internship applications. Then, one of my best friends from camp told me she was working on support staff. Wait. You mean I could work at the camp I love, with people I love, making food, which I love, and getting paid….which I would love as well? Being a counselor was out of the question since it was so late in the year, but after a bit of gushing about how much I love food discussion, I secured a position as Assistant Cook in the girls’ unit!

The cooks' cabin was under renovation, so I got to live in a private cabin next to one I had been in as a camper!

You might be wondering, Just how hard is it to cook three meals a day for hundreds of (ravenous) campers and staff?

Only the strong survive.

The schedule alone is killer. I worked 6 AM-1:30 PM, then 4:15 PM-7:30 PM. Not a lot of time to enjoy the sunshine, but the feeling of accomplishment is always there.

Duties include: arranging, agonizing, baking, berating, crawling, contemplating, cussing, cooking, cutting, chopping, cleaning, dancing, laughing, laundering, learning, jamming, mixing, mashing, organizing, planning, preparing, pouring, slicing, smiling, stocking, setting, scraping, stemming, sweetening, singing, sharing, unloading, washing, yelling…and many more.

A lot goes on here.

(In the upper right corner, you can see a love note from the younger girls’ unit.)

There were tears. There were triumphs. There was tyranny. There was teamwork. But most importantly (at least to the campers), there were tacos.

The challenges:

-The age gap. 50-somethings (and one 80-something!) working with 20-somethings? Times have changed.

-Being the only vegetarian. Camp food is designed to fill you up, which means a lot of starch, and more importantly a lot of MEAT.

-Girls gossip, judge, and backstab, just like anywhere else. Except that it feels horribly wrong at summer camp.

-WORK! How do I prepare this? Where does this go? Does this have gluten in it? What is the vegetarian option? Where did the box-cutter disappear to? What temperature should this be? Should I make the 200 or 400 batch? Why does the walk-in fridge feel colder than Antarctica? Why do I have to wash the bananas? How can girls eat so many tacos? Are you sure the milk man didn’t come already? Where is the Food Dude with today’s order? How did I just cut my pinkie on a saran wrap container?

It might have taken a month, but I was finally able to start answering these questions from experience.

Some of the merchandise.

My longtime friend Kate, who was on dish crew for the week.

Just another morning. Scrambled eggs?

Me, Emily, and some of the Swing Crew (aka dishes, laundry, and trash) girls.

Oh, and I dislocated Emily's shoulder one night. Oops.

All in all, I love camp. And food. Just not camp food. At the end of the day, seeing the smiles on campers’ faces makes all the work, all the squabbles, and all the burns (plus scars) worth it.

Camper Baylor and Emily, my fellow assistant cook. We were actually campers together!

So while I won’t be partaking in tasks like this next summer…

My small size made me the ideal candidate to clean the ovens.

I’ll be back as a counselor.

Summer in the Springs, Fall in the France

This summer is going by way too quickly. Working in the admission office everyday is keeping the pace up and then additional projects piling up from my two translation jobs are keeping me on edge.

In addition to giving students tours and interviews in the admission office, I translate documents from English into Spanish for a hospital and also for the Colorado Department of Transportation. The hospital recently asked me to formalize my business by providing them with letters of attestation to my translation ability, my personal translation method, and higher pay. I can’t argue with that. However, working 8:30 to 5 every day, I’m running low on time and energy to keep up with their fast pace, let alone my commitment to another client. Busy busy busy. But fortunately, they have asked me to find other students within CC’s Spanish department to translate for them, so I’m looking forward to starting up this partnership between CC and the hospital.

In order to relax a bit, I’ve been hanging out with my awesome roommate and friend, Colin. I don’t think I get along with anybody as well as I do with Colin. We both like to cook and fish, among other shared interests. So for fun, we’ve been doing just that. We’ve gone fishing three times in the last month, but unfortunately with no luck a single time. Still, it’s been a great breather to get into nature up at Eleven Mile Reservoir.

We’ve also been doing a lot of cooking. Among my favorites this summer have been French onion soup, tomato basil bisque, spring rolls, and all things grilled. This weekend we made sushi with fresh fish and crab. Then the night before Colin headed home to Chicago, we made a curried crab and corn chowder. It was really fantastic. Colin says I should open a soup restaurant. I’ve had it in mind for a long while to go into the restaurant business. Looks like this is something I want to explore.

Another thing I’ve decided I absolutely want to continue is studying Arabic. I love the language and it is undoubtedly a useful language whether for business or government opportunities. At this point, I’m pretty sure that I’ll take a year or two off before graduate school to explore some of my interests; maybe I’ll take one of those years to master the language.

Finally, I’m getting so excited to fly off to France for the semester. CC has an affiliated study abroad program with the American University Center of Provence which means that I’ll pay CC tuition (with my financial aid in place) and get credit back from the program. I’ll be in Aix-en-Provence from early September to mid-December. I’m really looking forward to exploring the South of France; everyone tells me it’s completely different from northern and central regions where I have family, so I’m stoked for the adventure. I’ll be studying French language, culture, and specifically architecture and urbanism in Provence. I’m also slated to take a drawing or painting class. So excited. I’ve also already scouted out the sushi restaurants in Aix, and learned something delightful–the term “en livraison”–delivery. Delivery sushi…while taking art classes…in France. But worry not, I will definitely sample all the different Provencal dishes. I’m too much of a foodie to miss out on that.

Oui, s’il vous plaît.

At this rate, my next entry is likely to come from across the pond, so à bientôt!

Heat, Snails, Rain- (Italia, France, and the United Kingdom)

CIAO!It’s pouring down rain. Actually, it’s biblical. I’m sitting in by creek-boat at the bottom of a class IV-V Scottish river, grinning from ear to ear, and I couldn’t be more drenched and happy. Sheet of water are careening off the glens around us, the landscape is wild and green, and it’s pretty much like Robert Burns* just walked out from the mountains to greet us- it’s that unbelievable here.

My family moved to Scotland about 4 years ago. When I was packing for my freshman year of college, they were packing for a trip from Corvallis, Oregon, across the Atlantic to the Scottish highlands. Oban and Ft. William are the nearest cities (equidistant), both half an hour away, and the house they rent is situated right on a loch (don’t say lake around here, they’ll know you’re a foreigner, though I don’t think after a summer in italy my skin tone helps- people here are never more than a few shades lighter than milk). (just re-read that sentence and it sounds super hoity-toity, but really, even my family members are so pale!)

It’s been awesome summer. Italy for 7 weeks, staying in Ravenna with a host family (such cool people!) biking to the beach after class, learning the mandolin, sampling every kind of gelato known to man and generally having a swwweeeet time. A few of us joined this gym called ‘The Body House Experience.’ Oh yes, it was quite the place. Probably my favorite part of the day was going there (it may or may not have been the only air-conditioned place in all of Italia).

Then on to the Scottish Highlands where my fam lives. Drove down to Wales and France to do some surfing and kayaking for a couple weeks, then back up to the highlands for some gnarly boating. I love this place! Scottish creeks are unique (coming from a snowpack fed Colorado system) because they are almost entirely rain-fed. The more it rains the more you boat- bring on the rain! Ten more days here and then back to the Colorado sunshine for my (delayed, haha) senior year! YAY! Can’t wait to be back at school (for real, I miss CC!). I’m living on Yampa field and have awesome roomates. Ciao for now! -Clara

*Robert Burns- Scottish Poet and National Hero, also known as Bobby Burns, renowned for long, complicated poetry touting the beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Kaiser and Cartel

KaiserCartel is an indie/folk pop duo from Brooklyn New York that makes beautiful music and puts on an amazingly personal and entertaining show. Courtney Kaiser and Ben Cartel both write, sing and play multiple instruments and create/compose music that is both light and easygoing and darker and heavy as well.


KaiserCartel performed last week at Shuga’s, an adorable, hip restaurant-bar in Colorado Springs. The two are close with the restaurant’s owners and visit to play for Shuga’s guests and KaiserCartel fans frequently. Our table was about two feet away from Courtney’s mike; the pair would pause between each song to chat it up a bit and connect with the audience; and finished their show with an acoustic number. The lights were dimmed, Ben grabbed his guitar and Courtney her xylophone, and they left their mikes to roam through the audience, pausing for a few moments to quietly serenade each table.

Their most recent album, Secret Transit, was released just a few months ago (June 2010) and they’re currently touring around in their Prius (named Gertie) sharing their love and music. The album has a great mix of songs from two very talented and lovable musicians, and 15% of all proceeds will go to a non-profit organization called Art of Conservation in Rwanda they are currently working with. I don’t even know these two but I’ll do some advertising: Click here to be directed to their website and donate now! It is seriously a great CD and such an incredible cause.


KaiserCartel’s performance was and their work with Art of Conservation is unique, touching and inspirational. I am a huge fan of them. I think you should be too.

(Excuse the photos – flashes wouldn’t have been chill.)

A slice of one of their older songs:

A Little Bit of Riddim (make the world go round)

Hey world, whatcha say? Recognize this dapper guy?


YES. This weekend my amazing friend Kate and I:

-Saw the one-and-only MICHAEL FRANTI (and SPEARHEAD) in concert

michael franti and band

-At the Belly Up…in ASPEN (win!)

belly up

-Stood front row center


-Blew kisses at the band (which were returned to us)

michael band

-DANCED ON STAGE (Kate played Michael’s guitar (!!!!) )…I played Kate’s photographer, cheerleader and back-up dancer

kate on stage

-Took 1,000 pictures to document

-Received cheek kisses and autographs by all post concert


-Accepted that our lives had changed and that our friends will never stop hearing this story


But really, if you haven’t heard of Michael Franti, or just need a pick-me-up in the music department CHECK HIM OUT. And if you have a chance to see him live…DO IT.


You won’t regret it.