Tag Archives: summer

Summer of My Discontent

Lake Michigan Storm
Lake Michigan Storm (Photo credit: Tom Gill (lapstrake))

(My apologies to John Steinbeck whose “The Winter of Our Discontent” was his last novel, published in 1961).

As a child, I hated summers.  Not the season itself – the summers in Michigan are wonderful.  It was the long hours of drudgery – housework, farm chores, gardening, canning and freezing that I hated.  I wanted to spend summers swimming, reading, and playing with friends (which I didn’t have, and we lived out in the country so “playmates” meant siblings and “playing” meant, usually, watching and caring for younger siblings).  As a teenager, I usually worked 5 or 6 days a week in addition to my other “responsibilities”.   I wanted to be one of those cool kids who lived at the lake, sunning, waterskiing, hanging out.  Mostly, though, I missed school.

In a lot of ways, this summer was worse than any of those I spent as a youngster.  The first part was spent trying to stay out of the ER – the last part spent recovering from surgery.  I worked the entire summer, with the exception of a long weekend spent in Michigan over the 4th of July (where I met the lovely Peg-o-Leg), and three weeks of sick leave.

This summer highlighted what can happen to the best laid plans.  I am supposed to be semi-retired.  My summers are supposed to be spent with my kids and grandkids, away from the oppressive heat and humidity.  I am supposed to be getting into shape.  I am supposed to be writing, writing, writing…

Instead, I am working year round, full time (officially) but in reality spending an additional 10-15 hours (unofficially) working on classroom stuff.  It is expected.  I spend an additional 10 hours a week commuting.  I am miles from my beloved kids and grandkids.  The “shape” I am in seems to be perpetually “bent out of”.  My writing has been reduced to sporadic blogging, and by that I mean sporadically commenting on other people’s brilliant blogs.

My mood has spiralled downward – my outlook becoming so bleak that I find myself wishing everyone would shut the hell up (ME!!  The one who loves listening, eavesdropping, peeking into lives, learning the backstory, wisecracking).  I cannot even stand my own company.  I find myself wishing that I would shut the hell up.

Shootings, scandals, politics, and horrendous daytime television (really?  Swamp Brothers? Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Maury?  Gack) all conspire to make me wish I could crawl under a rock and stay there.

This image of Tropical Storm Isaac was capture...

But no, I have to deal with unwanted company, as well.  Both Tropical Storm Isaac (from the South, destined to become a Hurricane before visiting my neighborhood) and the GOP National convention (from the North, destined to become a gaffe-fest, if not a gag-fest) are dropping by.  One swoops into the area and there is a lot of wind.  The other swoops in and there is a lot of wind.  Where are those rocks, again?

Then I remember.  I teach because I love it.  In this slow-recovering economy I am lucky to have a job, one that I love despite its hours and commute.  My kids are great.  My grandkids are beautiful – and healthy.  I can (and do) turn the television off.  I can enjoy writing – if not my own, then that of others.  I have read more books in the last month than I have in the last few years combined.  My health is returning (if not my shape) – and I have insurance to take care of that humongous stack of bills associated with getting it back.  Isaac and the Republicans will all leave at some point.  I am praying that few lives are disrupted insurmountably by either.

I am blessed.  And I am back.  This summer can kiss my flabby butt.


Filed under General Mumblings, humor, Uncategorized

No S’more left behind – lessons from my summer vacation

Headed for the graham cracker

Lesson #1.  Travelling with a 90 pound dog will not keep you “safe”.

Shelby at the playground

Shelby, the pampered camper

See my blog about Shelby the Wonder Shepherd https://k8edid.wordpress.com/2011/06/24/ and unwanted male attention https://k8edid.wordpress.com/2011/06/25/ive-still-got-…ants-to-see-it/ .  I would say that more men approached me and started conversations when I was walking my dog this summer than during any other activity.  Ms. Shelby is an attention whore, and she appears to prefer males to females.  Just my luck.

What I did get, in addition to dog pee on my foot, was a lot of time to bond with Ms. Shelby.  I also got a ton of dog hair in my car, which, when I opened the windows for fresh air (Ms. Shelby farts a lot) seemed to fly directly into my mouth.  Ahhh, the joys of pet ownership.

Lesson #2. All things in moderation.

Ribs, pork loin, beef loin, and various edibles

I ate a lot.  I drank (not a lot, but I seldom drink anyway, so it seemed like a lot).  I guess the only thing that kept me from ballooning to the size of the Goodyear Blimp was the fact that I swam every day, walked my dog a lot, dodged unwanted male attention, spent an inordinant amount of time swatting mosquitoes and biting flies, and scratching.  This was the smoked meats array that was consumed at Sweet Cheeks’ Birthday party, and only a small fraction of the food presented.  If I never eat another s’more, hot dog, or grilled hamburger I will not feel cheated…

Lesson #3.  Everything boys can do girls can do better.

Catch of the Day

That is what her T-shirt says.  This child outfished every adult without even trying.  In fact, most of the time she was playing sudoku on my otherwise useless cell phone.  This lovely young woman is my granddaughter Clarissa, who will not be invited on future fishing expeditions.

Lesson #4. Camping is fun.

Lesson #5.  Camping is REALLY fun.

Lesson #6. Naps are wasted on children.

Shelby at Rest

I believe that dogs and senior citizens appreciate naps more than any other groups; and as such, should be allowed to indulge whenever the urge strikes.  Shelby agrees wholeheartedly.

Lesson #7. Everything is better when shared.

Shelby and Sweet Cheeks

Of the 51 days that I spent in Michigan, Sweet Cheeks was able to join me for only 10 days.  Those were the best 10 days of the entire summer.  After all, what better than sharing mosquitoes, biting flies, campfire smoke in your eyes, burnt hotdogs, hangovers and tons of sand?  My point exactly.

Lesson #8.  You never know when you will be “mooned”, but when your sons are in the vicinity, there’s usually a pretty good chance.


I won’t show the actual mooning photo here, out of deference to my nearly teen-aged granddaughter who was mortified when I put the picture on Facebook (it has since been removed).  Suffice it to say that it was an important lesson to her about baring body parts in the vicinity of cell phones and cameras.

Lesson #9.  Sunsets are AWESOME.

No explanation needed.  These photos were taken on Lilley Lake near Harrison, Michigan.

Lesson #10.  Forgiveness is easy when you have a very bad memory.

Dad & Me

I was reunited, after many years of no contact, with my father.  We never were close.  In fact, I was a teenager before I ever met him.  He is very forgetful now – I believe he has Alzheimer’s, although I am not a doctor and I only spent an hour or two with him.  My memory is still pretty sharp, but I am glad that I finally stopped wishing things had been different in the past.  The only way I could accomplish that was by “forgetting” more.  I’m still a work in progress.

I can’t wait for next summer – I plan on doing it all again.


Filed under General Mumblings, humor, Photos - Travel and Other, Uncategorized