Winding Down: The End of Summer is Here

Winding Down: The End of Summer is Here

Some areas across the nation have already started back to school! I know this from listening to the news, reading social media, belonging to a teacher blog-writing community, and talking with friends.  Here, in the upper mid-west, our summer is not quite over, but it is close.  Most districts have two to three more weeks until students arrive back at their desks, ready to learn.

As the years go by, summer seems to go faster and faster! This summer was no exception. Although probably busier than most summers we have had, I feel a sense of accomplishment as this one comes to a close. My husband and I took our very first, week-long trip alone, since our honeymoon – thirty years ago!  Our sons have kept busy – the youngest finishing up an online course, which he has diligently spent 2-3 hours on a day since the Monday after school got out – even he said he feels tuned up for his first AP class experience that will start in September!  The traveling soccer league he belonged to is over and done with for the season and perhaps for good for us. It was exhausting  and not truly necessary to be driving two and a half hours to a large city to compete against teams than might not be more skilled but were definitely more cohesive than ours.  But, just as that ended, the high school team started having captain’s practices and contact days with the coaches. We are in the middle of “training camp” which has constituted 9 hours already just between Monday and Tuesday this week. By the end of today, another 5 and a half hours on the pitch will be completed. Between the mental demands from the online class and the physical demands of the soccer, our fifteen year old needed a three-hour nap yesterday for the first time in years!  It almost felt as if he were two again, with all of us checking on him periodically!

College visits have been underway. It just makes sense to use the time over the summer to get to some of the prospective campuses rather than take a day from school once it starts.  Our middle son will be a senior this year! He has been employed for over 12 months, kept up good grades, learned to enjoy working out at the YMCA, helped to win a tennis team conference championship – which continued into the summer, and fine tuned his 3D printing – software – coding skills over the last year. Currently, he is printing a pin-hole viewer for us to use during the solar eclipse next week. I even got a hug before bed from him last night, and a chance to tell him how proud he makes me!  However, he is a worrier – like me, and the state of the world weighs on his mind.  His final year of high school will go fast (we have been through a senior year once before), with memories being made on a daily basis that he can hopefully look back on happily when the future arrives and he is a college student.

Our oldest was just home for a visit. He graduated from college this past May, Summa Cum Laude, no less!  He blossomed during his university time and has elected to pursue a PhD in Statistics. His program starts on Monday.  I am excited for him!  Employment during the summer was split between two research labs, checking on goats, being with friends,  and developing his own areas of interest to pursue in the coming months.  A couple of week-long visits home were squeezed in along with a trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, with his Aunt to celebrate his successes – which have been many.  The trip was well deserved!

Early summer and mid-summer brought the death of both of our beloved cats.  They were fourteen and blood brother, barn cats.  We are pet-less now and I can tell you it is still an adjustment, especially for me. I miss them. I miss caring for them, loving them, and receiving their love in return. Yet, I know we are not ready for new pets. Not yet.

Our house siding project is coming along. Hopefully, it will be finished by the time the weather turns cold. Our fruit has been coming in all season – first cherries, then blueberries, now plums, and pears. The harvests have been plentiful and they keep us busy processing the fruit. We have learned that ripeness turns to rot if you wait too long!

I have had a tiny amount of time to work on jewelry making – a hobby of mine. But, I also took a summer graduate course that was grueling and did not end until early July.  So, my time has been somewhat limited. I am itching to get back to more creating.  For the first time ever, I am really not sure I am ready for my fall semester of classes to begin!

Yes, our summer has been busy and fulfilling. I think we all have a sense of accomplishment. I know, in many ways, we have been enriched by all of the activities and challenges. But, summer is winding down. Our town’s local festival – Kornfest – is this weekend. To us, it signals the end of summer is near and the school year is about to begin. I think we are ready!

 

 

It just flowed out of me……

It just flowed out of me……

“Gross,” you might say!

“No, not really,” I would reply.

I was referring figuratively to my creative juices yesterday afternoon. Once in a while, and it has been less frequent of late, everything just falls into place when I am creating.

Yesterday, it happened when I sat down to make jewelry. I have also had it happen when I am writing. With writing, I work through a lot of possibilities in my head before I even put the pen to the page or start to type.

The problem with creating jewelry, as I have found over the dozen years I have been doing it, is that you need all the supplies at your finger tips to be able to really move along and finish a design in one sitting. Yesterday, that happened for me! In the space of an hour and a half, I made three necklaces and repaired a bracelet for a friend. Everything just fell together. The designs, one simple and two complex, just flowed out of my head, through my hands, and into the pieces.  Every spacer bead, clasp, and coordinating bead were on my workbench. I knew where to find the components, had a supply of each,  their size and color was a perfect fit for each piece. And, my workbench is a mess!

Today, I am still swimming in the success of my time spent on jewelry yesterday.  Maybe, I can experience this again soon!  I am realistic enough not to expect it, but one can hope.  I was happy, relaxed, and did not feel the need to force anything – I guess there is a lesson for me there. Relax, concentrate, be prepared, and good things will come.

Musings on Mid-Summer

Musings on Mid-Summer

Sharing some thoughts on a mid-summer morning.

  • Wicked weather in the mid-west, repeats itself often with severe thunderstorms living up to the warnings that precede the wrath of their horizontal rains.
  • Flash flood warnings at 2:20 a.m. waking you from a restless sleep.
  • Books being read. Books being finished. Books being started. Just read.
  • Beginning to look forward to the new school year, not back at the last.
  • Squeezing in some gardening on hot, humid days, if only for a few minutes.
  • Picking blueberries in my own backyard for the third time in a week.
  • Teaching our youngest how to drive and not having to grip the side door any longer!
  • Weeds, weeds, and more weeds.
  • Homegrown vegetables starting to ripen. Tomato. Eggplant. Pepper.
  • Myriad of milkweed patches minus caterpillars eating the leaves.
  • Soccer on green fields turning brown as the days shorten but the temperature remains hot.
  • Tennis on steamy, heat radiating courts, racquets slipping from hands greased by sunscreen.
  • Time to pursue hobbies – creating new jewelry, publishing curriculum.
  • Appreciating local art and artists.
  • Looking at backpacks on Amazon, wistfully realizing we missed the fantastic deal on Prime Day.
  • Walking with friends, two times a week, even if it is 95 degrees – our own form of “hot yoga”.
  • Getting ready for vacation. Or returning from vacation.
  • Dreaming of pink sand beaches and turquoise water.
  • Considering colleges.
  • Cleaning out dresser drawers.
  • Popping your bike tire, knowing the construction has taken its toll on your form of transportation.
  • Being thankful for patch kits.
  • Being reminded to wear a bike helmet, even if your friends do not.
  • Safety first. Coolness Second.
  • Checking on goats at 9:30 at night and realizing they need water.
  • Preparing for the summer course mid-term, even when you do not want to.

This is life. This is summer. Soon, the season will change.

Slice of Life and A Slice of Pie

Slice of Life and A Slice of Pie

It sometimes amazes me how fast my mood can change. Although I have experienced quicker mood swings, I definitely feel different today than I did yesterday. I am always left trying to figure out what triggered it or why I might be more grouchy one day than another.

Yesterday, I got up, did a few minor chores like making the bed and cleaning up the kitchen, and went to a coffee shop to have a latte while I caught up on some emails. In particular, I emailed one of my professors at the University where I am a graduate student in Environmental Education and Interpretation. I am trying to recruit a willing faculty member to mentor me while I conduct some research on my past garden club students and lessons. I would like to find out if their participation in garden club influenced them with regards to their environmental stewardship activities as young adults. I have a population of close to 500 students as a possible data collection base. This is the second time I have reached out to professors to see if they would take on the mentorship of  my project this fall.

I, then, had a fairly normal day. I went grocery shopping. I weeded my front perennial bed. I did some laundry. I wrote a blog post.  And, I picked just enough fresh blueberries from our bushes to add to the ones I already had in the refrigerator to make a blueberry pie. Those activities take us to almost 9pm last night.  My seventeen-year-old and a friend came back to the house from tennis practice and made omelets while we chatted in the kitchen. My husband took our youngest son to the activities code meeting for fall sports at the high school.  I watched about an hour of T.V. (the most I usually watch these days) and went to bed.

I did not sleep well. But, I had not slept well the night before, either. Still, I had a fine day yesterday – one full of activity, purpose, and even fun! So, why am I grouchy today?

Part of it might be that I heard back from one of the professors I emailed. She wants to see my research proposal to consider taking me on this fall for independent student credits. Her request to see my research proposal signifies some progress. But, beyond that, the remainder of the email was not encouraging.  So, I am left trying to decide whether I should just take another course instead of trying to involve people who are reluctant to invest in me. It is both frustrating and disappointing. There are few courses to choose from and the one I had planned on taking – Foundations of Gifted and Talented Education – is not being offered. It leaves me with Advanced Educational Psychology  or Collaborative Organizational Leadership. Neither thrill me like the prospect of taking the G & T course did.

The other part of the change in my mood might be just the recognition that summer is half over and we are headed into a transitional phase again.  Typically, I do not do well with transitions. Summer sports have ended and are nearly over. Fall sports are gearing up. Paper work, digital or otherwise, needs completing. Uniforms need to be ordered.  Progress on online summer course work for my youngest has been steady but slowed this last week. He needs to take a mid-term exam by the end of the week or he will be seriously behind. We need to schedule a few more college visits for our son soon to be a senior.  He needs to start working on college applications since a few of them are already open.

Laundry greeted me on the kitchen table this morning, as it did not make to the respective closets last night. We are missing twenty-two socks! Twenty-two! Where are they all?

All if all, things are good. But, I am grouchy. Today, I will try to snap out of my grouchy mood. Perhaps I will go make some jewelry – a hobby of mine that is satisfying and somewhat profitable.  Maybe, I will go pick some more blueberries. Maybe, I’ll decide on a course, and just pursue the research on my own. Maybe, I will just sit and read a good book.

Right now, I am going to make a pot of coffee and have a slice of that blueberry pie I made last night that was still too hot to serve by 10:30 p.m.. Surely, my mood will improve after eating something so yummy!

 

Looking for You, My Brother

Looking for You, My Brother

Clark,

I have been looking for you.

It has been eight long weeks now, at least that is what the humans will say.

Many dark nights, the rooms only illuminated by the moon or a light left on

accidentally,

looking. Up and down, all over the house and garage, in all your favorite places,

I look.

Almost every morning, I cry, trying to tell the humans I cannot find you.

They tell me its okay. They try to comfort me. I let them for a little while.

They tell me that they are sorry you are gone. Gone? What does that mean? Where?

You know I hurt myself jumping up onto that high ledge in the room where we used

to sleep together on that shelf with the blanket.

 I cannot jump now. My back leg is lame. It  happened when I was looking for you.

I am lonely. I cry a lot.

Where have you gone, my brother?

Eating is not the same.

I always waited to eat until you were finished, staying behind you at the food bowl.

You never come to eat, so I don’t eat much now.

I know the humans are worried. My world is different now. You are gone.

So many moons and bright sun lit days have come and gone since you were here.

It makes me sad that I cannot find you. What happened? Where have you gone?

Will I see you again? I miss you.

Your Brother, Lewis

Cheers to Summer

Cheers to Summer

Summer evenings are time to enjoy sitting in your yard, surrounded by beautiful flowers, enjoying a glass of wine from a local vineyard. Who wouldn’t enjoy this?

Cheers!

summer wine sippingWhat do you do to relax in the summer?

Have You Ever?

Have You Ever?

Have you ever dug around a container in your kitchen pantry looking for the elusive piece of chocolate, tea bag, or other such treat? This happened to me yesterday, as it occasionally does when I do not keep up regular grocery shopping.

Digging,  and more digging, to find one last tea bag of the type I prefer. The longer I have to dig, the more intense it becomes because I am not finding what I want. Digging, silently swearing, cursing myself for forgetting that one item on my grocery list that was important to me. Caffeinated, black tea of a certain brand is one of my top comfort foods.  I have roughly two to three cups a day and love the feel of the warm mug on my hands as they encircle the pottery that starts to radiate the heat from the brown liquid inside. Slowly, I bring the mug to my lips and blow to cool it off before I take the tiniest of sips. The hot, somewhat bitter liquid, rolls into the back of my mouth and down my throat, warming me from the inside, as I drink. It’s comforting and calming for me to drink tea.

It could be almost 90 degrees, like it was yesterday, and I still want my mug of hot tea. This is what stimulates the digging, digging, and more digging to find that one last tea bag of my preferred type of black tea in my pantry.

Luckily, yesterday, I found one. Just one tea bag. But one is enough to make my favorite cup of tea! One is enough to satisfy my need. One bag is enough to make me happy and content, until I go the cupboard again, and realize I still forgot to buy my preferred type of tea.

The digging is futile today. Off to the store, I must go!