Joy of Summer

It hadn’t been easy, growing up without a mother, but somehow Joy had managed. Her father did the best he could, but as the only veterinarian for their village, he’d been gone more than he was home. But after his death she has hard choices to make. Can she find a way to stay in Summer, the little village she’s grown to love? 

As I started to write the title of the blog, all I could think of was that it sounded like a title for a cheesy bodice ripper novel!  In fact, nothing could be farther from the truth. A few weeks ago in a prior post, I bemoaned the loss of something quintessentially summer…watermelon with seeds. I was surprised at how many people I have since spoken to, that agreed with me: Seedless watermelon sucks. Well, I am thrilled beyond words to be able to share with you that my local grocery store had REAL watermelon a few weeks ago. It was lucious, rich, textured…just like I remembered. And yep, …there was some honest to goodness seed spittin’  going on too. That’s what summer should be about. Snow cones, and water balloon fights in the backyard (or ‘thumbs over the ends of hoses’ fights, those work too!),  sparklers and black snakes, mouthfulls of Bubs Daddy bubble gum. And fireflies, or lightning bugs as they are known in some parts of the country. I love being out for a walk at night and seeing their ethereal lights dance in front of me, just out of reach. I know you can catch them and put them in a jar, I just have no desire to. I’d rather watch them appear, then disappear, and magically reappear feet from where they were a moment ago, and pretend to not know how that happened, just enjoying the sense of wonderment again. 

I miss having summers off. As an adult, the only time I really regret my career choice is during summer, when I wish I had become a teacher just so I could have had summers off…either that or found a way to become a professional paid student! But I’m so envious of the sounds of kids playing, having fun in the summer. Our house backs up to a number of others, and I can hear laughter of the kids playing from about six houses down some days. As a telecommuter, trust me, it can be challenging to concentrate. On the other hand, our house is also located rather close to some marsh lands, or as the DNR prefers to refer to them, nature preserves. Because that sounds SO much better than marsh, doesn’t it?  There are benefits of course to living near them, first and foremost being it’s packed full of wildlife. The frog chorus at night is something to behold, and we hear it from the ‘balcony’ seats, on the side of the road opposite the marsh. I’m sure if our house backed up to it, and we couldn’t even open our windows at night because the volume was so deafening, I wouldn’t feel quite so charmed by it. Another periodic gift the marsh gives it’s nearby residents, is the coyote choir. I’m not sure what will set up the howling, but when the pack gets going it’s both thrilling and chilling at the same time. I don’t know what makes people think it’s safe to let their pets run loose around here, I really don’t. Seems to me cats and small dogs might be fair game for coyote food, and I’d be terrified my pet might not come home, but that’s just me.

The worst part however, about living by the marsh, are the mosquitos, and in Minnesota, we know how to breed ’em BIG. Mosquitos lay eggs in standing, stagnant water, and this year it seems we’ve gotten into this never ending cycle of a couple of days of big rain, followed by a day or two of sun, then more rain. So in addition to being full of rich, green grasses and cattails that are taller than I’ve ever seen, our marshes are chock full of standing water and yep, you guessed it, lovely mosquito eggs. And you’ve never even seen a real mosquito until you’ve come here. There’s an old saying, about how a nearsighted one got confused last week and drained a 747…OK, maybe not really, but sometimes it almost feels like they’re that horrible. So the DNR does what they can, and “mosquito bombs” us. What’s that, you ask? Well, in summer, helicopters fly overhead, and drop pellets into the marsh (and onto decks, patios, porches and our public boardwalk) to help control the mosquito population. The first time they came around, the “chopper” as I now fondly refer to it, flew so low over my house  that I felt the cavitation in my chest and through my toenails. I was pretty sure I could put a spitball in a straw and hit a rotor without even trying very hard as they went over the neighbors house, then to the marsh, dropped the pellets and made the turn right past their house and then came back over mine, all within about 20 seconds. I wanted to drop to the floor and scream “incoming”, as I covered my head. I know it helps, it would be so much worse if they didn’t do it, but even so, it’s just a mite freaky. I mean, what happens if an engine fails? Or if the tail rotor goes wonky? I mean, I just know it’s MY house they’re gonna ‘find’ first, and suddenly I’ve got a lovely new piece of art in the shape of a helicopter blade decorating my mantle. Next thing you know, you’re a drive-by side show for half the city.

“Look Howard, there’s that house I heard about. You know the one where the mosquito bomb helicopter was hit with a spitball in the tail rotor, apparently throwing the yaw all wonky, and down she went. You can see one of the main blades sticking out of the side of the house, right above where the mantle sits. Rumor has it the owner was the one who shot the spitball. If that’s just not the perfect example of a karmic kickback, I don’t know what is.”

Maybe I’ll stick to marshmallow guns at family reunions. 

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Outside the Box

I remember a dear friend once said to me, about her ex (before he was) “You know, he never brings me flowers. Ever. I’d be happy if he’d even bring me so much as a dead daisy.” Bringing her a dead daisy wouldn’t have kept him from becoming her ex, that was a whole other can of worms. But guys, we are happier with live flowers.) This comment from her followed my reciept of flowers from hubby for something, I don’t recall what. Back when we first dated he worked at a car dealership, and they had a guy who would come around once a week or so with roses in a bucket, making it easy for the sales people to pick up a couple of them to bring home so he’d do that once in a while, just because. Now, not so much but it’s ok, he’s replaced flowers with other things. Which really is the point of this story.

How often do we get hung up on what’s supposed to be, instead of being happy about what is? I know I’ve been guilty of it, and sometimes have to have the ‘slap-myself-upside-the-head’ conversations with me about it. They usually go a little something like this:

“OK, what the heck is the matter with you? What are you whining about? Did you really think you needed a pity party for real? You have a great life, remember? Your husband is a really good guy. He doesn’t beat you, he doesn’t yell at you, he doesn’t swear, he doesn’t beat his chest, he doesn’t gamble. He washes dishes and does laundry, and takes out garbage. Okay, so he doesn’t put the seat down enough, and doesn’t cook much. But girl, if that’s all you’ve got to whine about, get over your sad-sorry-self.”

I really think that society, television, the internet and the Kardashians all contribute to the problem. (Yeah, I know I said I wasn’t gonna bash ’em again. I lied, get over it.) Information is just too readily available to us on how the other half lives, and we’re inundated with the glossiness and wonder of it all, and how good it all looks. Who wouldn’t want all that lovely money, or live in that lovely house by the beach? We see all that with blinders on, however and forget that the lens we view through is tinted. We’re see only what we’re allowed to see, and when the cameras and papparazzi aren’t around, most of the rich and famous have issues too. Maybe not the same ones, but I guarantee they have them. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that many friends that I can afford to have my husband flapping his digital gums all over twitter, ranting about what ticked him off today, alienating them en masse.

I mean, is it really so bad owning only 2 purses instead of 4? Or is it a crisis if your iPhone is 2 generations old, or your tablet is not the shiniest? So what? Will the world end if you don’t upgrade? Or don’t have it at all?

Is it a crisis if your significant other doesn’t wash the dishes? Make you coffee in the mornings? Shop for groceries? Don’t get me wrong, relationships are definitely about give and take and if one does all the taking and the other all the giving, all the time, it’s a problem. But it’s equally important to find balance, which by the way doesn’t necessarily equate to a 50-50 split. Some days balance is 40-60, some days it’s 75-25.  If he doesn’t wash the dishes, or if she doesn’t make the bed, before you do anything that you can’t undo, or say something you can’t unsay, stop and think for a moment. What else do they DO? Does he pick up your laundry off the floor and put a load in the washing machine (sorting correctly by color) without being asked? Does she always make sure your favorite coffee creamer is stocked in the refridgerator and your socks are folded just the way you want? In moments of crisis when you’re crying your eyes out, will he offer to take your snot filled tissue without a word and get you a fresh one?

We forget about all the little things that make up everyday life, and allow ourselves to get hung up on what we think life should be, because we’re so busy comparing ourselves to the proverbial Joneses, instead of seeing what is right there. Maybe it’s time to think outside the box…the big one sitting in your living room with 188+ channels from your cable or satellite provider, the middle size one that you use to access your news and TMZ feeds, and the small one you use to talk to your kids. I’m not saying get rid of them (do I look insane?) but at least put them in their appropriate perspective. Turn the damn things off people. In the northern hemisphere it’s spring, or at least the calendar says so in Minnesota, although you’d never really know it by the temperature. Get off the couch, put on an extra layer and get outside.

I’m chomping at the bit to plant my spring flowers. My husband thinks I’m nuts, that it’s too early, and he may be right, but I can’t take the drab anymore. I picked up some petunias at the nursery the other day, they’re hardy and can take a lot, and will get those in pots probably later today so I can get my patio at least a little color. I adore my patio, speaking of outside the box. It  all but calls my name with a siren song, every day in the summer. When the temperature is just right, the breezes are lightly blowing and the flowers are in bloom, it’s the most beautiful place. It’s a riot of color that calls to my tropical soul right here in a northern climate. I can listen to music, read, talk to friends, write, or do nothing and be fully at peace in it.

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There might be prettier gardens, or professional outdoor designer Jamie Durie might look at this and say I’ve done it all wrong and completely reorganize it and make it look amazing, but guess what? None of that matters…because it’s mine, and I’m happy with what I have. I’m content in it. That’s the point.