Summarizing summer

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In the Summertime.”

Summer only began on June 21, which was a week ago last Sunday.  I was shocked when I saw someone say something about it being the first day of summer, as I thought we were already deep in the midst of it judging by the temperatures and humidity.  But, I do live in South Florida, so it’s not like I am not fully aware of my lot every year after the winter-less winter and a day or two of Spring.  This year though, the heat is really bothering me. So much so, that if I had the money, I would have a house somewhere up north and retreat there until at least October.

I remember a time when I lived for summer; my favorite place was on the beach; multi colored towel spread in the sand, radio blasting.  Smelling like Hawaiian Tropic I baked in the sun damaging my young, tender, spot free, wrinkle free, skin.  Ah, didn’t I just write a post about unheeded advice?  These days, after several non-benign skin cancer removals, I’m not as likely to be found sunbathing.

When you are school age, summer is synonymous with “no-school” so of course it’s your favorite season.  There is staying up late followed by sleeping in, vacation, summer camp, and many adventures with friends.  Then you grow older and while your children are still in school, you have mixed emotions about summer.  At first, it’s great and you are excitedly planning trips and activities.  Your precious pumpkins will be home with you and you anticipate lots of quality time, family fun and long talks.    Near the end of July however, you are counting down the days until you don’t have to hear “I’m bored” anymore.  That lasts until they don their new school clothes and backpack and head up the walk the first day, and you turn into a puddle of tears because you know you will miss them.

At my age (we will call it the young grandmother age), with no one at home except myself and my love, I am free to pick a season as my favorite for other reasons. Mine, for as long as I can remember has been fall.  I love all seasons and they signify different seasons of life and I thank my Creator for each and every one of them. Most of the time, I am content and can put on my Pollyanna hat and find all the goodness about summer.  Today is not one of those days.

So, here I am, enjoying my beautiful, blossoming plants and green grass as I sit sweating in a lawn chair in the shade, swatting mosquitoes…..waiting for fall.

Cookies, lists and common sense

Chocolate peppermint cookies

Chocolate peppermint cookies

Today has been a beautiful day in Southwest Florida but I have spent almost all of it inside, with the air conditioner cranked up and Christmas carols on.  I spent the day baking and making fudge, then allowed myself to take the time to deliver some to an elderly couple I haven’t seen in a while.  My first thought was, “I’ll quickly drop it off, so I can deliver others and get back home”.  Then, I thought about it some more and said to myself, “No, you will stop and breathe and relax and visit with them because you never take the time to do that anymore”.

I made up my mind that the days preceding Christmas were not going to be stressful this year, and that I would approach it differently .  Instead of having unending lists and must-dos because I have to, I decided to take it one day at a time, to do what I can and if something doesn’t get done, so what? Seriously, what’s going to happen if I don’t have all the shopping done by December 20th or I forget to buy all the ingredients for mom’s red velvet cake?  Nothing, that’s what.

If I forgot to make half of what I’m responsible for, our family would still have enough food left over to feed another family for a week.  And, if lo and behold that one gift I ordered online for my youngest doesn’t come in?  Well, then she will live and have a nice surprise a few days late.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we need to all step back and think about WHY we do some of the things we do.  Sometimes it seems we’re like hamsters stuck on the treadmill, running ourselves ragged, without accomplishing much.  Although I love traditions, if they become rote robotic type activities, they lose their significance and might as well be abolished.  What if you just make up a brand new tradition that fits your family?

Yesterday, I went to town to do some of my shopping and had it on my list to pick up poinsettias because I have an empty vase sitting here.  I also had two more pages of neatly penned items to do.  However, when I noticed my stress level beginning to climb and felt my allergy ridden body begin to tire, I came home.  No poinsettias and the list is missing many check marks.  I don’t care.  No one even knows and wouldn’t know now if I weren’t telling.

That’s my point, I guess.  We put ourselves under so much pressure to achieve self-inflicted goals that serve to prove what?  That we are exhausted and snappy and stressed?

This attitude is quite the departure from the norm for me as I even say sometimes, “I thrive on chaos”, or “I work better under pressure”.  Don’t misunderstand, I believe in responsibility and I take my obligations very seriously.  The problem that I’ve always had to contend with is that I over extend myself and give myself way too many “imagined obligations”.

Thankfully, I’ve finally learned my family wants my love and attention more than anything.  When we grasp that, the things like baking are actually fun and relaxing.  I didn’t set a goal for how many cookies I had to bake and how many people had to receive theirs today…I just baked and danced around my kitchen singing Christmas carols and texted pictures of cookies to family members.  It was fun.  I’m having fun a few days before Christmas!

As I write this, there are presents to be wrapped and a craft project left abandoned.  I will get around to wrapping the presents, but the craft project can wait until next year.  My house is clean, decorated and smells like cookies and peppermint.  I think we will all live if I fail to make one more decoration, especially if that means I have more time to enjoy my family.

Merry Christmas!

“Memories are the treasures that we keep locked deep within the storehouse of our souls, to keep our hearts warm when we are lonely.”  Becky Aligada

Painting in circles

SONY DSCYesterday I did something I haven’t done in approximately 35 years.  I painted buoys that will be used on our recently acquired stone crab traps. I have really tried to distance myself from this particular venture and vowed inwardly that I would not get sucked into the labor crew in any capacity.

SONY DSC

However, finding myself looking out the window at my hubby hard at work yesterday as I sat inside contemplating what to do, I caved.   I changed clothes, marched right out there and said, “What can I do to help?”  A few moments later, there I was, brush in hand; yellow paint drops already appearing on my flip-flop clad feet, as I made my way down the line of buoys.

As I painted, fond memories assailed me of a line of buoys strung between 2 big fichus trees in the front yard.  My brother, sister and I, adorned in “play clothes”, were anxious to paint blue circles on my dad’s buoys.  My dad was a commercial fisherman and stone crabber at the time, and depending on the task and our skill level, we could occasionally provide cheap labor.  However, if I remember correctly our great desire to work never lasted through many lines of buoys.  I will have to remember to ask my dad if we gave up on them or if he and my grandfather just grew impatient with us and encouraged us to go play.

I do remember when the buoys first arrived, prior to the branding and painting, we would usually get into trouble due to the “buoy fights” we had with neighborhood kids.  Yes, it was just as it sounds; everyone would grab a buoy and try to hit someone; if you were hit, you were out.

I remember the smell when dad would brand the buoys with his own set of numbers.  It’s funny how that smell still evokes so many childhood memories.

My husband and I both have other careers, but this will be a “supplemental” one for him and I pray it proves to be fruitful.  It is something he has always wanted to try.  So, I have decided that instead of lamenting his longer hours, fearing the imagined problems, and distancing myself from it all, it is far better to jump in, support and even try to muster up some excitement about it.

But for now, I have buoys to paint.

line of buoys stretching to the sky

line of buoys stretching to the sky

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Color

Today when I got the email for the weekly photo challenge, it was pouring down rain, a dark and dreary day. At first, I thought I would have to use all old pictures because I really wanted to use pictures representing the magnificent color in God’s creation. I used a couple of older ones, but most of these are from today, after a cleansing rain drenched the plants outside.

Mini vacation on my dock

Freezing in VA, made me miss home, so thought I’d post a little something I wrote the day before I left…

A brown pelican in Key West, Florida. Français...

A pelican flies by, one feathery wing dipped in the cool water, as if checking the temperature

A cool salty breeze tousles my curls and rustles through the palm fronds

The water laps around the dock as it’s carried to and fro by the tide

Puffy, cotton candy clouds drift by in a resplendent blue sky

The hot sun is leaving its kiss anywhere it touches bare flesh

A school of fish chasing their mid-afternoon meal ripple the peaceful water

The mangroves resonate with the songs and calls of the birds enjoying the mild winter

My eyelids grow heavy as I relax and soak it all in, like a massage

Ah, the beauty of a February day in Southwest Florida.

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