Five Things About Summer

Five Things About Summer

I love winter. There, I said it. I know it isn’t a popular opinion here in the south, but I love the boots and scarves and cold gray days and the few flakes of snow we get and especially not melting into a puddle every time I get into my car. On the other hand, summer is really not my favorite. In fact, it veers widely in the opposite direction. It can be hard to stay positive when the heat looms like an oppressive cloud, the AC can hardly keep up, and trying to take a gentle walk results in becoming a sweaty mess.

However, I am also a firm believer (most of the time) that it’s just dumb to complain about the weather. I don’t always manage not to, but it is my aspiration to keep my comments cheerful when the temperature is not to my liking. So with that said, here are five things I’ve enjoyed, or am looking forward to, this summer. After all, gratitude turns even summer into something to be enjoyed instead of merely a season to be gotten through.

1. There’s hardly a better way to spend a summer day than by paddling one’s feet in a mountain creek. And taking a group of five wee ones to the creek (as I did yesterday) and watching them just thrill in the experience is such fun.

 

2. Frosties! Ok, I know you might think this is an odd obsession to have. But here’s the thing. When we lived way back in Erandique, Honduras, the closest familiar American fast food chain was a Wendy’s, about four hours away. Occasionally we would stop in there on our way past, order fries and frosties, and sit for a while in the air conditioned room as we dug our toes into the luxurious (and probably disgusting) carpet there. We may or may not even have driven 40 minutes or more out of our way once, just for the ice cream. Suffice it to say, while good ice cream is less of a luxury now than it was then, frosties are still just as good. And having them delivered to me at work on a hot day? Well, I don’t complain about that.

3. I love people watching, and summer evenings are the perfect time to sit on the bench outside my apartment and watch the world go by. Also, watching thunderstorms roll in over the old brick buildings and staying outside till the last minute possible before getting soaked is pretty fun.

4. In a couple weeks I get to go to a summery outdoor concert at…wait for iiiiit…The Biltmore! I won two tickets, which is awesome both because I rarely win things like that, and also because I get to see this amazing place again. Not only that, but the concert is just a few days before my birthday, so it’s like my own private celebration, which, let’s admit it, is pretty cool.

5. Across the street from my house is a little ice cream shop that has a wide selection of marvelous flavors for really good prices. Sitting on the sidewalk there with friends that came from Ohio to surprise you is a pretty excellent way to enjoy warmer weather.

And there you have it- five reasons why I’m enjoying this summer. What about you, do you enjoy this sweltering season, or are you eagerly looking for the first signs of fall?

 

New York, New York

New York, New York

As some of you may know, I am ever so slightly obsessed with New York City. So a few weeks ago I was chatting with Roman and Mimi, and I said, “Next time you go to NYC, let me know because I want to go along.” “Really,” they said, “do you mean the very next time? We are leaving in two days to go there!”Obviously there was nothing else for it but to buy a ticket up, take a day or two off of work, and attach myself to their little party.

In the course of just three days, I managed to eat so many different things, see a few popular attractions that I hadn’t gotten to before such as Central Park and the Met and Saint Peter’s Cathedral, walk many many miles, navigate Manhattan all on my own, and not at all quench my desire to live there someday.

If you want to really see the place, let me recommend having as your tour guide someone who has lived in the city for years. If you can acquire one of those, you might get taken to the best little spots that you never would have found on your own. For instance, Chelsea Market. Be still, my beating heart. This place is a dream if you like weird architecture, winding hallways, exotic foods, artsy creations, or people watching. It looks like it’s made out of a very old warehouse brought back to life, complete with lumpy floors, old bricks and light fixtures, and old hardware everywhere.

We stopped in a seafood store (the kind that sells things like sea urchins to cook) and played it safe by purchasing a little bowl of New England clam chowder. I think I’ll let our faces tell you if it was worthwhile or not.

When our feet were about ready to drop off, we went up to the Highline Park which is just around the corner from the market. The park is the brainchild of some brilliant engineer who thought that an old elevated railroad track would make a good place to plant flowers and put benches. Coolest idea ever. There we refreshed ourselves with ginger sodas from a little cart, running water put there for weary feet, gorgeous views, and baby smiles.

We saw the One World Trade Center, and the 911 Memorial, both inside and out. The inside of the memorial feels a lot like being in a whale’s belly might, with the the odd architecture that is reminiscent of ribs. There were two fountains/pools as well which I don’t have pictures of- massive, creepy, dark holes with the  still water sliding down into the middle of nowhere- with names of the deceased engraved in stone the whole way around their large, square circumferences. The hole in the middle of the pool looked like the kind of place a massive octopus might come out of, like the kind that was in the pool by the mountains of Moria. I confess, I don’t quite understand the logic behind making a memorial such a creepy place.

One of the days Roman and Mimi had a wedding to attend, so I wandered about the city by myself. I ran into a farm girl from New Zealand who was touring the city by herself and needed directions, and we walked the blocks from the train station to the Met together, talking about our small town lives compared to the big city. Not gonna lie, it made me fairly happy to be asked for directions from other outsiders, even if I didn’t have a clue what I was doing myself.

Sadly, I chose the wrong day (Saturday morning) and the wrong time (pre-coffee) to go to the Met, and did not enjoy it as much as I might have otherwise. It was completely packed with humans, eating and chattering and taking pictures of statues and disturbing me when I tried to sit on the floor to charge my phone a little. Next time I go, I’d like to pick a quieter day, and also someone to take along to discuss all the oddities of art with, such as the bizarre threesome pictured above. Somehow they struck my fancy, just sitting there with their hands on their knees, waiting for life to happen like they have for ages past.

Once I was sufficiently parched and hungry, and my brain was full enough of art, I purchased a street hotdog, mostly because HOW NEW YORKISH IS THAT? I felt the moment was worthy of documentation, even if the hotdog itself was nothing special.

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I walked the Brooklyn Bridge twice, once as the sun was thinking about setting, and again when it was turning to dusk. The cool wind at the top of the bridge alone was worth it, after melting in the heat for two days, not to mention the views. On one of my jaunts over it, I discovered that there was a concert going on below the bridge, and that if I leaned over the edge enough, I could watch it happening through the cracks. There’s more than one way to see a free concert!

I made the discovery of what it’s like to ride for many stops in an un-airconditioned train car in July. Hint: don’t do it. We hauled the stroller up seemingly miles of subway steps and walked endless steamy corridors. We jammed ourselves into many greasy cars, where Hudson baby always seemed to make friends, regardless of the reputed coldness of New Yorkers. In just 2 days, I managed to walk about 24 miles or so. I’d say moving to the city might be a fairly decent fitness plan, regardless of all the tempting food around every corner.

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Speaking of which, ohmygoodness the food! I’d live there just for that pretty much, since I’m unfortunately a die-hard foodie. We stuffed our faces with Taiwanese, New York pizza, so much bubble tea, pastries from a French bakery, Chinese, my (not so epic) hotdog, and to finish it off, the Korean spread pictured below. The little bowls are our free appetizers- I guess the Korean version of chips and salsa- and the delectable pile of fried goodness on the cast iron was my plate. If you want to go to the city, please take me along so I can take you to this place. You won’t regret it, unless you’re not at all a fan of delicious flavor, in which case you shouldn’t even bother to go to the city at all.

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Regrettably, going didn’t really do much to dampen my youthful and ignorant enthusiasm for that great metropolis, even though it’s expensive and wearying and harsh and hot sometimes. So, who wants to go with me next time?


Misery in Mexico

This morning I unearthed a story I wrote when I was probably ten or eleven. Back story: when we all still lived at home, my dad bought a big yellow school bus, and together with my brothers, converted it into a custom motor home,  just right for taking all nine of us to Costa Rica and back in a trip spanning five months. It was the adventure of a lifetime, complete with walking to church in gumboots because it was so muddy, staying at millionaires’ houses overlooking San Jose, push starting the bus way back in the boonies of San Manuel when it didn’t want to leave the charming little town, throwing hard tortillas like frisbees into the chasm beside the road to San Sebastian, “female hornets”, and so, so much more.

This particular story I wrote when we were doing the three week drive down the west coast of Mexico. The bus had no AC, and when it was moving we survived quite well, but there were some pretty miserable nights with the combination of heat and mosquitoes. As you can see, even back then my writing style was on point, complete with all the different variations of “said” and the little moral at the end that Rod & Staff taught me so well. 😀 Without further ado, here it is, with very minor edits.

Me, Crystal, and Shelly

Misery in Mexico

“Oh dear me!” groaned Rachel, “You stink Rosie!”

“I know I do,” Rosie replied as she slapped at a mosquito for the hundredth time. “I need my monthly shower quite badly.”

“OK,” Dad shouted above the din. “Who’s ready to stop for supper and the night? I think this town would be a good place.”

“Me!” “Me!” “Me!” came a chorus of voices.

“I’m so sick of this dirty bus and mosquitoes and heat and-” Rachel complained.

“O shut up.” Rosie commanded. “Maybe tonight we can get a room in a motel beside the ocean. Maybe we’ll have comfortable beds and be able to shower! Won’t that be nice?”

“Yeah,” Rachel agreed, “But it’ll cost too. Maybe Rhoda will be willing to pay for one room for all of us. Rhoda, would you be willing to do that?”

“Actually I was planning on it. Maybe we could take a mat from the bus to our room so that we’d all fit.”

“Yay,” Rosie and Rachel exclaimed together. “I’m so glad!”

After supper in the bus the girls climbed the steps to their room. “I…can’t…wait…for a…comfortable…bed.” Rosie panted.

“OK here we are, girls,” Rhoda said as she turned the knob.

“O look,” Rhoda exclaimed, “There’s no mosquito net. Well, I suppose we can survive without one. We sleep without them in the bus.”

“I’m first for the shower!” Rosie crowed.”Rachel did you bring that mat? OK then good.”

After all the girls had showered, they walked outside to take a look at the ocean. “O wow, it’s very loud! It sounds angry!” remarked Rachel.

“OK, time for bed now.” Rhoda herded them back to the room.

Soon everyone was in bed. “I think that the motel owner needs to wash her sheets more often,” Rosie stated. “These are very musty!”

Soon the lights were turned off but then the dreaded zzzz filled the room.

“All of the mosquito clan prefers this room tonight.” “Hey you get off of me! I’m not your friend.” The girls moaned. “Oh it’s so hot but if I don’t use my sheets, these mosquitoes are unbearable.”

All of a sudden there was a thud as Rosie’s feet hit the floor. She flicked the light on. “C’mon girls let’s slap these creauturs [sic] for a while. Soon the girls crawled back into their beds.

“Oh Rachel, I forgot, you can use my bed. These sheets are just too musty!” Rosie exclaimed.

After the girls were settled, the only sounds to be heard were the whine of mosquitoes, the roar of the ocean, and occasional slappings.

“Oh I can’t sleep,” Rhoda moaned. “The mosquitoes, the loud ocean, and the heat are almost unbearable.”

After a few more slapping sessions the girls finally fell asleep at 3:00 A.M.

The next morning dawned. “Oh my Rachel. You look like you have the chicken pox!” Rhoda exclaimed.

“Actually, it’s mosquito bites. And you know what else? The boys slept fine in the bus. Here we paid all this money for a miserable night!”

“I guess ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’!” Rosie remarked.

 

That was based on a true story, except I seem to have omitted the part about the guy in the next room over smoking weed and the smoke drifting into our room over the top of the bathroom wall in the middle of the night. I also portrayed my sisters in quite the light, I must say, but I promise, they aren’t actually whiny or bossy. 😀 Artistic liberties at age eleven, I guess.

My Life Plan (per Lyn)

So, one day when I had nothing much to do, Lyn was thinking about her life plan, and I eagerly agreed to write it for her, as that is just the kind of thing I love. I made her a beautiful life, complete with living in Europe and being a travel writer, and having a curly headed little daughter and an architect husband. However, my imagination drove me to have her husband tragically die by falling from the top of one of the buildings he had designed. After she had groused about me killing her husband off after only six years, (what can I say, I wasn’t watching the dates very closely!) she decided to get me back by writing a life plan for me. So here it is, with a few minor edits. Now you know just what to expect out of me for the rest of my life.

 

2016 Spend year getting people married off…and investing money to support life plan. Daydream about the day you kick Lyn out and have two rooms overlooking the square, and think of all the possibilities, including stalking Jacob with a spyglass. [Terrible idea, Lyn.]

2017 Bid tearful goodbye to Lyn but dry tears immediately to begin knocking out wall between bedroom and sitting room. Work at night to keep Vicki [the lady down below] and husband from getting suspicious. Plant flower bed full (also at night) of tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and peppers. Begin corresponding with @iluvNYC [Seriously? He can’t even spell “love”!] clandestinely to chat about mutual desires to live in NYC.

2018 Plan trip to Spain, Switzerland, Italy, France, England, Ireland, Germany and Austria with Tricia. Finish out rooms in the front as one huge closet containing clothes to sell on eBay. Landlord still does not suspect. Begin working 3 days a week at Carefree while spending the other two days shopping, sleeping in until 9 o’clock, and eating croissants/drinking espresso . Begin to like running, develop runner’s calves.

2019 Take off three months to take an extended tour of Europe with Tricia. Dine with Lyn and architect in the L’atelier De Joel Robuchon in Paris. Meet a Parisian businessman-friend of theirs who frequently travels to the US to oversee corporate offices in NYC. Receive job offer from him as personal secretary.

2020 Accept job offer. Pack up 3 cats, [general public, please be informed that I am not a cat lady] 20,000 books, a suitcase or two, sell off eBay closet entirely due to lack of space in Manhattan, and make the move. Cry with loneliness. Make friends with the engineer hired on the Tower 3 project and discover that he is a coffee snob. Visit all the snobberies in the city.

2021 Establish new blog. Marry the engineer @iluvNYC and join forces with his dog, Harvey, and move into an apartment with a view of the Hudson after a charming NYC library wedding. Frequently hang out with Abby and her husband, who have started a ministry to the homeless in the Bronx. Become sponsor of Abby’s new project rescuing trafficked kids.

2022 Get pregnant with honeymoon baby. Discover it’s twins. [Honeymoon twins? Do you hate me or something?] Meet with Cup of Jo weekly to keep grounded on the ways of mothering in NYC. Travel to North Carolina for Philip’s wedding and introduce all the people to le husband and baby bump.

2023 Have babies. Cry more than usual. Discover kids are the single most frustrating and rewarding thing you could do. Consume vats of coffee.

2024 Begin to write children’s books. Become celebrated authoress.

2025 Buy house in upstate NY where the summers are never hot, the winters beautifully frosted, and additionally design book nooks all throughout house; one for each family member. Enjoy summers on the lake. Travel to Spain every winter for several months and keep pet elephant along with Harvey, the 3 cats, the twins, and 20,000 books. Live in NYC every fall.

2026 Apocalypse [She said she couldn’t think of any other way to end it. 😀 ]

Questions For You

Following are some of the things I have wondered. If any of you can enlighten me on these perplexities, please do so in the comments.

Why is America referred to as feminine? Who decided that, and how come?

Are pictures supposed to go above or below the paragraph describing them in blog posts?

Why is draining boils so incredibly satisfying even while being gross?

Why does anyone ever complain about having brothers when brothers clearly make the world go round?

And completely unrelated, (ahem) why did Philip have to move away for TWO YEARS?

Why do shoe manufacturers think they can charge way more for a size eleven shoe than a size nine? Why, I say.

Why does my washer leave orange streaks on my clothes?

Since I am a housewife without the “wife” part, does that make me a house? “Hi, my name is Rachel. I work in financing, and I’m also a house.” Hmm.

Did Boo Radley actually stab his dad, and if not, why was his dad so mean?

Does anyone else (besides Rosie) watch YouTube videos of abscesses and boils being drained just for fun?