I blinked, and all of a sudden it was four score and seven years since I’d posted something.
But that’s because this was an unconventional summer for us.
Let me explain . . .
Who Says You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks?
My husband resigned from his job of 30 years while we were poolside in South Carolina in mid June. If you missed it, and are curious, click HERE to read about our car trip to Aiken, SC. Anyway, Jame had been formally offered a better opportunity at another company a couple of days before we left.
Thirty years at one company and one phone call ended it all. Just. Like. That!
Boy, was he was raring to go, though. It was time for a change. Something new and exciting that he could sink his teeth into.
But then once we returned from down south, y’all, we waited.
And waited some more, until finally all of the i’s were dotted and the t’s were crossed, and he was at long last able to begin his new job.
Can we talk?
Having a husband at home for the entire summer without a specific end date is, well, let me just go with, um, interesting.
We couldn’t plan any trips for fear that he would be called in to begin work any day. So, what did we do with all of this unexpected, loosie-goosie down time?
Well, we went on long drives in the country.
We walked and talked and gardened. We celebrated birthdays, spent time with friends, and went out to lunch way more than we should have.
He golfed and, oh yeah, he went shopping.
Binge grocery shopping, that is.
Our fridge was continually bulging with braunschweiger, 16 varieties of cheese, and giardiniera up the yin yang. One simply does not require more than one bottle of giardiniera, like, EVER! Add to his frequent grocery store hauls the mountains of zucchini, cucumber, and eggplant our garden was pumping out, and I frequently found myself up nights waiting for our fridge to explode.
The wait is over, however. He began working once more two weeks ago.
My fridge and I haven’t stopped smiling.
Spence, the Ultimate Camper
Spence spent virtually the first month of the summer away from home either on vacation or at one camp or the other.
He went back to the same sleep-away camp that he attended the two years prior, and had a ball. This year, as a newly admitted teen, he graduated from a cabin to an open-air tent. Considering his habit of falling out of bed on occasion, the fact that the only thing stopping him from hitting the rocks 3 feet below the tent platform was an untethered tent flap did not make me feel particularly at ease. My fears were allayed, however, when we picked him up unscathed at the end of one very long week. Next year, he sleeps in the middle.
After that, we dropped his tee-shirt-wearing-13-year-old self off at Jazz Band camp at U of I, and a week later, picked up Joe Cool.
According to Spence, he’s ready to go to college today.
According to his mom, she needs all five years to emotionally prep herself for his departure.
You Lead, I’ll Follow
Logan took a job over the summer as a Northwestern tour guide.
Each day, he drove an hour to and from the university, and conducted two or three two-mile tours each day – walking backwards. He had a perpetually empty gas tank, and calves of steel.
Because we had nothing but time on our hands this summer, we decided, one day in mid August, to hitch a ride on his tour. Much to his dismay, I might add.
All of the tour guides filed in front of a jam-packed auditorium filled to the gills with prospective students and parents, and began to introduce themselves. The first girl, Ashley, was as bubbly as a champagne flute on New Year’s Eve. “Hi there!!! I’m Ashley!!! I’m a theater major, and President of the Happiness Club!!!” she proclaimed, her dimpled cheeks threatening to swallow her face whole.
Logan was up next. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we knew for certain that anyone talking after Suzie Sunshine was going to pale in comparison.
There he stood in his full Grizzly Adams beard, gray tee-shirt, purple cap turned backwards, head slightly bent. And then he began speaking in a low, slow, deadpan voice that sounded for all the world like Winnie the Pooh’s down-in-the-dumps pal, Eeyore. “Hi. . . I’m Logan. . . I’m the bubbly one of the bunch. . . follow me around campus for the time . . . of your . . . life.” Then the next second, he snapped out of his melancholy schtick, and was actually a lot of fun to listen to.
After all of the intros were done, we followed him and his group as they wound through the campus. It was 85º that particular day, and probably about 85% humidity as well. What began as a light gray tee-shirt slowly morphed, patch by patch, into dark gray as he began sweating while trekking through the thick air, leaving me to wonder why this guy’s mom never told him that white or black are your friends on sweaty days, and that light gray is your enemy.
Soon enough, we headed into an air-conditioned classroom for questions. One hand went up. He answered. Another hand went up. He answered that as well. And as he spoke, a sense of motherly pride swelled up in me even as rivulets of sweat trickled down my back. How could it be that the little boy who, just yesterday, asked me why the sky was blue was now sitting in front of a room full of people and sounding for all the world like a learned professor. Hmm, Professor Logan, my mind tried the title on for size as he spoke, until I realized that the questions had stopped, and without them, we were headed back out into the blasted jungle.
That was enough incentive for me to take action. My hand shot up, and with a look of learned trepidation, he acknowledged my query, “Yes, ma’am? Do you have a question?”
My power was palpable. I could pay him back for the mounds of laundry he amassed every week that, more often than not, included a stack of already cleaned and folded laundry from the week prior at its core which, it became clear, I would have to wash once again. Or, I could help him out by asking a mundane question that would allow him and all of us to cool down for a few more minutes.
On behalf of everyone’s overheated selves, I chose benevolence and went for the mundane.
Tomatoes, and Peppers and Snakes – Oh My!
It seems that my pride and joy vegetable garden has become a Motel 6 for two snakes. After one too many run-ins with the slither sisters, I passed my gardening gloves over to Jame, who, for the first time ever, hunted for zucchini, picked a peck of peppers, wrested spiky cucumbers from the vine, and plucked tomatoes while I sat back and contentedly watched from a chair on the deck.
Our tomato plants pumped out glorious fruit for weeks on end resulting in not only enough for me to make and stash away a freezer full of dishes for the winter months, but also to share the fruits of our (Jame’s) labor with at least a dozen friends. I love being able to share our bounty!
And, honestly, there’s nothing like a garden-fresh, ripe tomato. This summer, they’ve been sweet and juicy like never before, prompting me to make salsa, tapenade, pasta sauce, homemade pizza, vegetable chili, pasta sauce, tomato pie, caprese pasta salad, and BLTs galore.
I sweat red these days.
I’ll share the pasta sauce recipe shortly because it was divine!
Stop Everything! The Olympics Are on!
We’re crazy about Olympic swimming in this here household.
Jame and I were perched on the edge of the couch for nights on end, willing Michael Phelps to beat the little swimming pants off of his opponents, not literally, naturally, and for Katie Ledecky to increase her phenomenal lead with every stroke she took. The body English over here was something to behold. The astounding athleticism of the two U.S. swimming phenoms was even more to behold.
Then again, there was Ryan Lockte.
Sorry, but he is not a boy sowing his wild oats as some would like us to believe. He’s a grown up 32-year-old man. He was not “embellishing” a story, he was lying. He got loaded, and peed on a gas station bathroom wall, for God’s sake, slandered a country that was trying its damnedest to make it through a scenario in which it was way over its head, and then left his teammates behind to suffer the consequences as he flew the coop.
What a jerk. Personally, I see him as swimming’s answer to skating’s Tanya Harding. Athletically gifted. Morally bankrupt.
But, after all, Lockte’s disgracefulness was only a tiny smudge on what was otherwise a magnificent display of physical, mental, and emotional prowess. Our country should be proud of our athletes’ performances at the games, and Brazil deserves some credit for pulling an athletic rabbit out of a hat in the nick of time.
Back to School Time
If you’ll remember this time last year, I was a little bit of an emotional wreck. Logan had headed to college for his first year, and our world seemed as if it had been turned topsy-turvy. Click on this link if you don’t recall the whole drama scene: My Boy Has Moved Away to College.
This year, however, was a completely different experience. We dropped him off over a week ago to join his band staff compadres in prepping for band camp, and while I got a little teary before he left, I didn’t shed even a single tear when we said goodbye to him in his temporary room. See, I know he’s familiar with the campus, I know he has a network of friends he can rely on, I know this is where he belongs, and I also know that I could zip over to see him within an hour. We had a wonderful lunch before we said our goodbyes during which time the boys made me laugh so hard that I snorted, and then we left him to go meet his friends. And that was that.
For those of you who have recently sacrificed an offspring to the seemingly evil clutches of his or her school of choice and are suffering, let me just say, I’m so sorry. The pain is real. It will get better over time, and before you know it, you’ll be an old pro at accepting the situation. Trust me. Time is your friend.
The doorbell rang two nights ago, and who was there, but Logan himself! He had borrowed a friend’s car to get home. I just about bowled him over as I lunged at him and threw my arms around his neck. Turns out he wasn’t exactly missing us, rather merely missing his marching shoes for next week’s game. I don’t give a hoot, though. The fact that I was able to hug him and spend a wonderful unexpected hour with him is all that matters.
We’ll see him next week for the first football game, and then again to move him in to his permanent room in the music frat on Thursday.
Life is good. My oldest boy is happy. And so am I.
Spence has headed back to school as well.
He loves the teachers he’s been assigned, and got an A+ on his first assignment, which is quite note-worthy and a cause for celebration. Cross country starts next week, and soon the rigors of Jazz Band will follow, and homework, and permission slips to sign . . .
But, from a glass-half-full perspective, I only have 174 more of these bad boys to make until next summer break!
Husband at work once more – CHECK
Oldest at college once more – CHECK
Youngest at school once more – CHECK
Now what ever will I do with all of this time?
Hmm, maybe I’ll start to write again . . .
What do you think?