Remembering Dan

Raking leaves under a fall of snowflakes is status quo for me at the Great Camp Sagamore volunteer work weekends, whether it be May or October. It may seem extreme, but it is the mountains, after all. What a curious place, Great Camp Sagamore, existing in another time. No riding mowers or leaf blowers for this clean up crew, just rakes and shovels and tarps that had been previously been used for raven mitigation. That was a whole separate job that I was not willing to volunteer for (although Dana did!) that involved raven shit being cleaned off roofs. I get enough shit at work. I am Queen Pee after all.  Leaves piled on tarps are transported to a secluded section of woods and unceremoniously dumped onto other huge piles of leaves. And so it goes, every other season, fall and then spring and then fall again. No matter what the season, and what the weather, you could always find Dan wearing his trademark shorts.

Dan drove the oldest, rattiest truck. It seemed the esteemed road crew had custody of the other newer models. His daughter Kelly was our partner in crime that day, the third in our leaf banishing trio. We were glad to have young blood, I could barely climb into the cab of the truck, much less jump up into and down from the bed. At the end of the day it seemed a bit of a luxury to spend our energy on words, so it was quiet. The easiness with which the two of them fell into a pattern of dumping pile after pile of crusty, snow covered leaves was amazing to watch. Just when it seemed no more would fit, anther pocket of space would be found. And finally there were no more piles.

After dinner and entertainment, Kelly went to bed and Dan joined his friends at the round table, for our own brand of entertainment. In the main lodge, where the motley crew of volunteers gathered  in the evening, whatever happens at the round table stays at the round table. Kinda like Vegas, but really not at all. The particular evening in question ended up being conversations about strippers and kidnapping. Go figure. Dan was quiet by nature, but was also the first with a funny quip. He didn’t often say much but laughed a lot at that round table, for many years before I even met him. Many people have loved him over the years; I was able to get to know him over the last three years, a latecomer to Sagamore.

Spending time with Dan in the Tap Room in Raquette Lake , our regular stop on the way to Sagamore, was really cool. For those who don’t know, there is only one tap. And a liquor store in the window. And snails, on Friday, at 5ish. I love that place, and Dan and I have shared more than one beer there. Being from the city, exposing myself to those small town traditions is so cool for me.

Dan left this world rather suddenly last week. So many of us connected with Sagamore will miss him, myself included. And whenever I am sitting with my compatriots at the round table, we will lift a glass to a guy who loved life, and Sagamore.


There’s Always Room For One More

My mom excitedly introduced me to John, a guy that she and her grandtwins got to know this past summer at Great Camp Sagamore. “This is John! Ty really enjoyed him this summer”, she exclaimed with a huge grin. I smiled.”Nice to meet you. It sounds like you had a great time with my mom!” This happens all the time, whether it is church or the bookstore or at one of my band gigs. So many times someone has said to me, “Are you a Horan? Are you related to Carole?” And my answer is always yes. My mom collects people the way some people collect stamps or shells.



From a very young age, our family dinners always included others, whether it was one of our friends or someone living with us. An overfull table didn’t seem out of place. It wasn’t until years later that I found out that most people only ate with their nuclear families. And it wasn’t just food we shared, it was also our space. We moved to the Near West Side when I was 11, and the two family house provided all the space we needed for our family of 9, plus whoever. Here’s a pic of the seven of us with some guy named Tony we picked up along the way. My parents wanted to help out in the neighborhood and at St Lucy’s church, and that included giving shelter to those who needed it. The upstairs mirrored the downstairs, and it was really fun for the kids to have our bedrooms be in the kitchen or the living room. I paired with most of my siblings throughout my time there, and once Judy and I got the front room with the balcony! There were a lot of us but there was always room for one more at Our Father’s House.

Continue reading “There’s Always Room For One More”

Sagamore by the Numbers

I am offering a list of a different sort in this post.  This weekend I went to Great Camp Sagamore to participate in a volunteer work weekend.  My time there was full of fun and laughter.  Here is my experience by the numbers….


0…..Number of black fly bites I bragged about receiving

1……Number of black fly bites I actually received

1……Number of long lost daughters I reconnected with (Hi Eva!)

1……Number of bloggers I met (Hi Michelle!)

2……Number of Bryans with a ‘y’

3……Number of Debbies

3……Number of times I reported for early morning kitchen duty

3……Number of tambourine songs Day Ja Voo played for me

4……Number of gorgeous days at Great Camp Sagamore


6……Number of times Charlie asked me “Haven’t we got ridden of you yet?

7……Number of fun people I worked with in the kitchen crew

9……Number of times my Mom  told me she just knew I would love this place

13……Number of times I thanked Chick and Bryan for bringing me

17……Number of times I bragged about Day Ja Voo to anyone who would listen


18…..Number of days until I get to go back to Great Camp Sagamore

19……Number of times I lost a game of spoons

28……Number of times I heard the Burdick sisters laugh

Weekend volunteering at Great Camp Sagamore: PRICELESS