Tag Archives: summer vacations

Summer’s End


I always have a song running through my head.  Today’s lyrics were “after the boys of summer have gone.”  Really creative, oh brain of mine!  Tomorrow I return to my job at my wonderful school, and while I am so excited, part of me always feels melancholy about leaving summer behind.

This summer was one of extreme periods of busyness followed by extreme periods of laziness. Hubby and I took vacations to Mexico and then a few weeks later to London and Paris.  After that I visited family in Illinois for a week, and Hubby is currently on business in Atlanta. Preparing for trips takes a lot of energy, as does recouping afterwards.  Between vacations, I facilitated the remodel of our house by Arizona State University where our college-aged children lived for the last seven years (and then sold that house). I’m not sure how I had time to be lazy.  But I did.

I had goals this summer to go the gym daily, yet with my youngest son home from college for the summer, I found myself wanting to stay home to hang out with him, eating grilled cheese sandwiches while watching Games of Thrones, New Girl, and The Ranch. Isn’t it so much more fun to watch tv with friends??  I hope to find my way back to the gym once William and his girlfriend, Katherine, return to Flagstaff in a few weeks, and I don’t regret the five additional pounds around my waist from couch potato-ing with them while eating pizza and french fries.  William is my youngest, and I’m keenly aware of the fact this may be my last summer having one of our kids living at home.

Here are some of the other shows I loved this summer:

Indian Summers is a great drama set in the Himalayas in 1932.  The show focuses on the social politics of the British Empire and the birth of modern India.  If you loved Downton Abbey, you will likely appreciate this PBS mini series which has great acting, dramatic scenery, and beautiful costumes.  Watch it on Amazon Prime.

You can watch Versailles on Netflix.  If you loved The Tudors, this is right up your alley.  I was fortunate to visit the Palace at Versailles a few years ago and found this historically- accurate series to be very interesting, not to mention quite titillating with all of the sexual conquests.  Again, very beautifully filmed and wonderful acting.

I love New Girl.  I rewatched the whole show on Netflix with my kids this summer.  It’s clever and hilarious and awkward, and I love it so much.

Rectify.  OMG.  I can’t seem to talk any of my friends into watching it.  I had no idea there was a fourth season on Netflix, and since it had been so long since I watched the first seasons, I started over from the beginning.  The acting is amazing.  The pacing and tension reminds me of Six Feet Under, but I love Rectify so much more.

I re-watched old favorite movies like The Right Stuff, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, 13 Going on 30, Millers Crossing, and The English Patient.  Okay, I’ll admit I like many different genres, but I love revisiting an old favorite.

This summer may be one of the best I’ve ever had. The angsty words from the Eagle’s Boys of Summer are still playing on repeat in my head, but I’m feeling so hopeful and excited for a fabulous new school year ahead!








Tighter Than a Tick


This weekend has been all about tying up loose ends in preparation for our two-week family vacation which begins Tuesday. Each night, trip anxiety has awakened me at 4am. One night I envisioned us with our humongous American suitcases on the Tube and getting one wedged in the door as we tried to exit.  The next night I had a detailed dream in which we showed up to our VRBO flat in London only to find that the family of eight who owned it were expecting to stay there WITH US . . . and vacation with us! The night after that I dreamed that it was time to go to the airport, and I was the only one who hadn’t packed . . . or arranged to have someone take us to the airport . . . or asked someone to take care of our pets.

So basically, Nighttime Me is freaking out, while Daytime Me is happily planning and packing and taking care of bizz. Daytime Me tells Nighttime Me to just chill already: the unexpected parts of travel are typically the best parts. Anything we forgot to pack can be procured upon arrival. I get TWO WHOLE WEEKS with some of my very favorite people! And lucky us, we’re returning to a fabulous town (London)and checking out Scotland for the first time!  I remind myself how fortunate I am.

But I wasn’t believing a word I told myself. I was wound tighter than a tick but then this happened: Yesterday on my way home from the grocery store, I turned on the car radio just as Garrison Keillor was starting his show. He is retiring next week, and it breaks my heart. Prairie Home Companion has been a constant in my life for more than 30 years! Garrison taught me so much about story telling.  His paternal and soothing voice has a calming effect on me, similar to that of a stiff cocktail. I truly think he’s a genius.  He’s the Mark Twain of our era, and I will miss him.

Okay, back to my story: Garrison recited a poem by Mary Oliver, called Wild Geese. He took his time with the words, his sonorous voice drawing out each sentence. I turned up the radio and listened with rapt attention.

Wild Geese

by Mary Oliver

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Yes, yes, YES!!!  A tear rolled down my face. Then another. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted. This poem spoke to me. It said so loudly:   just be you! You don’t have to be perfect. Just be a part of this world; don’t think you’re so important. Enjoy your world and keep an eye toward nature, for it will show you what to do next.

Smiling through my tears, I drove my car full of groceries through the 110 degree heat toward home. Today I read again Mary Oliver’s poem.  All anxiety is gone.  I’m the luckiest woman in the world to be headed to England and Scotland with my family this week. There’s nothing to worry about. As Ms. Oliver says in her poem, the world will offer itself to my imagination. Our journey will be harsh and exciting, the sun will move across the mountains and rivers . . . and the world will go on.


Not So Alone After All


Life feels very different with Hubby away on his business trip to India and China; he is my best friend and every night, we talk and hang out.  He’s sent a few photos and texts from India, which looks positively squalid.  It sounds like he’s not getting enough sleep, but is having a Grand Adventure . . .  and best of all has not gotten Montezuma’s Revenge (i.e. the Indian equivalent). Here’s a big shout out to all the friends and family who’ve made sure I’m not lonely since Hubby left a week ago.  William is allowing me to make sandwiches for him and is enduring my chit chat.  I’ve met friends for happy hour or dinner every night since Hubby left, and my best girl, Eve, has been by every day.

One day this week, Amy and I met for happy hour at Pita Jungle. How can you beat $1 appetizers and $4 draft IPAs?  Crazy!  Amy and I met on the first day of 7th grade and have been friends ever since.  I enjoyed hearing about her summer plans, which include a trip to Spain with her family, and currently (as in, today) a rim-to-rim Grand Canyon hike with her hiking gal pals.  She is FIT!  When we were first friends, we would ride our bikes to Smitty’s Marketplace, buy a pie (usually lemon meringue), and eat it at the pizza counter. We’d ask for forks and split the pie down the middle. We mocked the “jocks” at school, swearing we’d never be like that.  Well.  When the new, hot science teacher arrived at Marcos de Niza during our junior year, we signed up not only for his Physiology and Anatomy class (we spent an entire month dissecting a dead cat whom we named Fluffy) but also went out for Track.  I lasted two days (young Mr. Degrow was cute, but not THAT cute), but Amy caught the exercise bug and has been “sporty” ever since.

The next night I was with Tracy and Lois at my favorite lake place, Pier 54.  We caught up on all of the news gleaned from various neighborhood graduation parties and enjoyed the lovely weather.  I sure miss our weekly hikes that I’ve been unable to do since working five days a week with my new job, but I’m so very grateful that they are happy to meet me at odd times and work hard to make me feel like I’m still an important part of their lives. Friends are the icing on the cake of life!

Yesterday my brother and sister-in-law picked me up at 4pm in their brand new Mercedes SUV.  I am not a car person (our cars are old and usually dirty and not expensive), but Paul’s new Mercedes was very fancy with all sorts of gadgets and doodads–and the seats are super cushy.  We talked in their kitchen for hours over cocktails, listening to music (belting out a terrible rendition of Quando, Quando, Quando) and looking at funny videos.  Next thing you know, it was after 11.  I decided a sleepover was easier than trying to hire an Uber or Lyft (which I haven’t done before).  After all, William is 18 and was happy to take care of the pets.  It felt so fun to be tucked into their lovely guest room and even more fun in the morning to chat over coffee  with one eye on Buffy the Vampire Slayer playing on the tv.  Thanks P&L for entertaining me while Hubby is away.  I love you!

I’ve also:  had an eye exam and ordered new sunglasses, am taking Tilly Cat for her shots tomorrow, ordered a new mattress (ours is the pits) and a new column-style fan for the kitchen, sorted out the downstairs shoe basket (boots??),  and am very sneakily removing ugly clothing from our closet.  Not enough so that a person would notice, but enough to get rid of some of the clutter.  Life is good.




Peppers and Wieners


Right now we SHOULD be packing up our car with junk food, beach chairs and umbrellas, and suitcases full of swimsuits to head to Mexico, but instead we made a very adult decision to stay home and attend a funeral tomorrow (some of our oldest friends lost their father) and be good parents (finals begin next week for William) and take care of some stuff around the house that needs attention. Sigh. Honestly I’m not even that blue about it–Mother Nature has given us a gorgeous, cool breezy day and I plan to open the windows, maybe take a walk, and perhaps wine and dine Hubby tonight on an outdoor patio. Life is good.

I had my trees trimmed yesterday (not a euphemism—get your mind out of the gutter), and today noticed a poor little dove sitting on a nest high up in the newly trimmed mesquite. It probably WAS an ideal spot, but now she looks positively forlorn and confused that she is exposed and looks ridiculous on one of the few remaining branches. The tree had to be trimmed as it was shedding little sticks all over the yard and was resting on the house. We call the small u-shaped sticks “Ruby sticks” because they get caught in Ruby’s skirt and paws. She nibbles at them until we try to extract them, and then grrrrs at us when we pull them from her hair.

In a completely counterproductive exercise, Hubby and I sat down this week and looked at our summer calendar and talked about vacations, then the next day I applied for a new job. A friend of mine from high school is a real go-getter and recently opened her own real estate office. I rarely see her in person, but her inspirational posts on Facebook have lifted and inspired me over the years. She needs a front office person; I need a job. The first thing she had me do was complete a Tony Robbins personality profile. I tested into the “S” column which I’m quite certain is the “Sheep” category. These are the traits: Not competitive, doesn’t care about financial gain, likes to have fun, enjoys grazing. The other category I scored high in was the “I” category which might stand for “Iguana”—non-aggressive, creative, and likes to lay in the sun blinking lazily. I’m hoping despite my test scores she will give me a chance. Either way it’s a win-win: I get a new job, or I get to go on summer vacation. Or (crossed fingers), I get to do both.

Last night Eve and William were here for dinner. We enjoyed enchiladas and black beans, then a rousing game of Scrabble with Eve’s kitten scampering over the board every few minutes. I simply do not understand why I suck so hard at Scrabble. I mean, I’m a WRITER. I do not care for the little cheats, for example, “Xi” is not a real word. I tried to sneak the letter x into all of my words and when caught, encouraged my family to allow me the extra points just this one time. “Hello, it’s Mother’s Day weekend!” I lost, like I always do, and this morning resigned all of my games on Words with Friends. I had ten games going and was losing horribly at every one. My ego does not need that, no sir.

My garden plot at FIGG is not doing well. Oh, I had such high hopes! Only eight of the green onion seeds have sprouted and could not be described as thriving. Out of the whole package of sunflower seeds, only four have struggled to raise their heads out of the soil. Somebody ate my squash plant. The radishes are the only thing going great guns, and it broke my heart to tear out half of the little baby radishes. The good news is there is a banana pepper that is almost ready for picking. I’m excited to cook up a batch of spicy Peppers and Wieners, an extremely odd dish I was raised on. We got the recipe from Gary Casper (a friend of my parents), who claimed it was Hungarian. Or maybe he was Hungarian? He was quite swarthy, but honestly, is that even a Hungarian trait? You can eat this sort of soupy concoction in a dish with a spoon, or eat it on crackers. I recall it being served as an appetizer at parties, and one would fish out the bits one wanted with a wooden skewer. I know it sounds like a joke, but truly, could I even make this stuff up? It was the 1970’s—need I say more?

Peppers and Wieners

1 lb. Oscar Meyer wieners
1 onion sliced into rings
1 can stewed tomatoes or Rotel brand tomatoes with spices
4 -8 yellow chili peppers sliced into rings (Hungarian Wax or Mexican yellow, reserve seeds)

Cut hotdogs into 1/2″ pieces.
Heat all ingredients in a sauce pan, on low heat, until the onions and peppers are soft.
Simmer ingrediants in a pot or crockpot for a minimum of 3 hours – longer is better.
Add pepper seeds, as needed, to achieve your taste for hotness. (Pepper strength varies appreciably.)


Daydreaming on a Windy Winter Day


It’s that time of year when my mind turns toward summer vacation. This year I’d planned a road trip with Hubby to Taos and Santa Fe, NM with while William is away at Band Camp. “We’ll drive up through Monument Valley,” I told him. “It’ll be fun.”

I don’t think either of us were really convinced it was a good plan. I started adding up the cost of hotels and food and museums and came to this conclusion: We should just go back to Tulum, Mexico. It would cost the same and be a GAZILLION times more relaxing and scenic and exotic. And I have two words for you: Sea Turtles! I’m 99% sure you can’t swim with sea turtles in New Mexico. And this time during our stay near Tulum, we’ll REALLY go to Chichen Itza. Really. (We always do a pinky swear and say we’ll go, and then we get lazy and blow it off, though we have been to the Tulum ruins twice.)

So I happened across this old blog entry from June 18, 2012 and nearly swooned reading about our lovely vacation. We’ve been to the fabulous Grand Palladium Colonial FIVE TIMES now–twice with the kids, three times without—and it’s always amazing. I printed out my post, and put it on the kitchen table where Hubby will wander across it at breakfast. I hope he concurs that we should save the boring road trip for another time.

JUNE 18, 2012 Home (or Who Says I Have to Wear Pants?)

We are home.

I miss the sound of the ocean.

Today I woke to the sound of police sirens and yard blowers, and yes, that damned mockingbird.

I miss the outdoor shower in our hotel room.

Each morning in Akumal, I would jump out of bed and get right into the shower. Shaded by big palm trees with stone walls for complete privacy, I would bathe under the blue sky, clouds drifting overhead and a light breeze blowing the spray of water here and there.

On Friday morning, we awoke to gray skies. I hurried into the shower to beat the rain, and laughed out loud at the sensation of the hot tap water combined with the cold rain sprinkles from the sky. Delicious!

Next I would throw on my swim suit, find my flip flops and book, and run down to the ocean. Before breakfast I had the place mostly to myself and could sit and admire the patterns of sunlight on the surface of the sea. I could admire the frigate birds zooming into the sea for breakfast, and smile at the hermit crabs as big as my fist shuffling slowly across the sand.

And then! We would make our way across the wooden bridge, through the jungle to the breakfast buffet. We would stop to watch the coati family climb through the trees, then carefully step around the sleeping iguanas. Then, breakfast: Rich coffee au lait and chocolate croissants! A plate full of bacon and scrambled eggs! Huge platters of sliced fruit and warming trays full of dainty cinnamon rolls.

This morning I grumpily ventured downstairs to my own boring kitchen. “Where are the chocolate croissants?” I asked Hubby. “I couldn’t find them either,” was his sad reply.

The pets are so happy we are home. Tilly Kitten is especially gleeful, following me EVERYWHERE and purring her heart out. So sorry, little one, to leave you for so long.

Thanks so much to the Larson Family for pet sitting. It is a big job and they did it so well and so cheerfully. Often I wonder how it is that my life has been so blessed with dear friends. They are the icing on the cake which is life . . . and now that I’ve said the word “cake” I am craving croissants again. Dang.

Today I must clean the house. There is enough pet hair to make a whole new pet (half cat-half Springer Spaniel). It will take most of the day to dust, do the floors and then attempt to clean the kids’ shower. I’ve not done it in a month. I do not like to clean. It is not fun. I am refusing to wear pants. It’s a small gesture of defiance, but it’s all I have.

I am not happy to be home.

I want to be lying on my favorite lounger, pina colada in one hand (who cares that it’s 10am?), novel in the other. I want to swim in the warm, clear Caribbean ocean and listen to the rise and fall of unfamiliar languages in my ears. I want to watch the colors of the sea change as the clouds drift across . . . no cares or worries, simply allowing myself the time to appreciate life, and immersing myself in the moment.