Category Archives: summertime

another week / august end

So it’s been another week. A pattern of storms bounced us from high temps earlier this week to a Saturday morning that feels almost autumnal. Everything enjoyed the heavy rains, including Bunter the yard rabbit who sat out in the downpour almost all Wednesday morning.

Bunter is the little brown lump in the lower left.

There are a few bright red leaves on the admittedly stressed maples in the front yard. I’ve been reading up a storm and my home office was peaceful and productive this week except when I had Skype calls and then the jokesters I live with would try to entertain me.

Brandon keeps asking if I want to hang this up anywhere and I think he’s only half-kidding…

School starts on Monday and no one is happy about it. Teachers are stressed and I have enormous sympathy for them. Parents are stressed because the instructions, schedules, and learning platforms seem confusing, and in some cases have only just been released / received at the end of last week. Miss L is not best pleased although I’ve tried to get her excited through a concerted effort to clean and reorganize her desk in her room, creating a dedicated space for learning, and school shopping for supplies that she may not need right away. We had a joint session doing our day planners together with some fun stickers, marking off the holidays and days off we know about. We’ll all just have to do our best and give each other lots of grace.

I’ve been knitting a lot and am excited to say that I am about to embark on SLEEVES for the Pink Memories sweater!

Very poor quality picture of a crinkly pre-blocked mess of a WIP – but it will soon have SLEEVES!

And the Log Cabin blanket that is now a several-years-old WIP continues to meander along at its own pace, mostly for mindless television knitting as it’s just garter stitch, garter stitch, and more garter stitch. Someday I will decide it’s done and bind it off and start a new blanket but I have a lot of rows left in me for this one, I think.

I hope you are well on this Saturday wherever you are – I have no plans except to at some point wander out into the yard and put up the birdfeeders that were raided last night and left on the ground empty, no doubt by our yard raccoon or a squirrel gang. Maybe a nap later.

Be well and enjoy. xo

Reminder! 🙂

three things august

Inspired by Steph.

Three Things I Like about August

  1. The sound of cicadas in the trees
  2. It’s my daughter’s birth month
  3. The feeling of anticipation for September, the feeling of summer growing mature and ripening.

Three Things I Dislike about August

  1. The feeling that it’s the “last” celebration of the summer season
  2. The heat; my God, the heat
  3. Summer running is the wooooorst.

Three Goals for the Rest of August

  1. Tackle unpleasant tasks as they come rather than procrastinating
  2. Enjoy the luxury of quarantime with Brandon and Miss L before their fall routines begin again
  3. Continue strength training weekly and food tracking daily.

Three Things I Thought I’d Use More This Year

  1. My car
  2. My office building
  3. The library

Three Things I Never Thought I’d Use As Much This Year

  1. My spare bedroom (now my home office)
  2. My Kindle (I have an ancient Kindle that I’m constantly planning to replace but with Covid and our library shutdown, almost ALL of my reading has been on that trusty old wheezy Kindle)
  3. Prayer

Three Things I’m Into Right Now

  1. Auditing my recurring finances
  2. ‘Phoebe Reads a Mystery’ podcast
  3. ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ reboot on Netflix

Three Favorite Fruits

  1. Peaches
  2. Pineapple
  3. Red seedless grapes

Three Foods I’ve Survived On in Corona Summer (I’ve been on Weight Watchers…)

  1. Cottage Cheese and pineapple
  2. Rice cakes
  3. Sugar free pudding

hey it’s august

I don’t really know what happened to the last few weeks but hey it’s August!

We had our summer trip up north and it was just what we needed. Our intent was to avoid tourist crowds, stay safe, and just visit my parents. So no shopping or eating out. Instead, we socially distanced on the beach, we hiked, hit up the A&W for cold & creamy root beer, and we spent time with my parents. We visited baby llamas and I bought yarn and thought wistfully about uninterrupted knitting time. And I worked. We came home, and I worked much more, and then Brandon had a death in his extended family, and we had his close family come to stay for a few days for the Arrangements. In the meantime I was working even more than much more and when I finally lifted up my head this morning here it is. August.

I’m really hoping for a few restful days in a row now. I haven’t been working my Weight Watchers plan as strenuously as I should, and I haven’t run or done any strength training in almost 3 weeks. If you’ve gotten the message that work has been very busy then you are correct! and I find lately that working from home is making it difficult for me to compartmentalize and keep things separated. The upside is that I don’t have a commute, and in the beginning of the work from home I felt that work / life balance was a lot easier with that extra time. Now, though, tasks and projects that I’d be able to turn off at 5 o’clock and not ruminate on until the next morning at the office now live just down the hall. It’s easy to stay online and keep working much longer than I would normally or fit in something else before bedtime or during the evening.

In other news, like many other school districts, ours is currently grappling with the “right way” to start up again in the fall. As a result everyone is coming to realize that there is no “right way”. One surrounding district after another is declaring fully remote start. We were initially told that our reopening would be aligned with the “phase” Michigan is in – “phases” being based on the number of Covid cases among other things – but although we are technically in a phase that would allow us a hybrid start (part virtual / part in-person with masks, reduced class sizes and staggered attendance days to allow for more distancing) it now seems almost certain that we’ll be fully remote again. I guess the good thing about this is that the decision has been made for me, which reduces the amount of internal debate and agonizing over a set of completely imperfect choices. From a health and safety perspective, this is the right choice, I think; but from a social, educational, and personal development perspective, I really feel for all the kids who are getting shortchanged by circumstances out of their control. Everyone’s doing the best they can and I don’t think there are right answers but it’s a bummer either way.

Reminder: Show Us Your Books next Tuesday!

 

 

weekend edition

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Happy weekend, all!

June was a quiet month on the blog but very busy IRL.

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We celebrated my 47th birthday and Miss L finished her very strange 6th grade year.  I now have a 7th grader – I can barely believe it. Although it seems that the kiddos may be able to go back to school in the fall, nothing is certain right now, and even if they do, it will surely look different than it does now.

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I’m still working from home and feeling blessed that my company is being very cautious about bringing everyone back. Miss L’s camps were cancelled this summer and it’s so nice not to have to worry about rearranging all of our schedules to accommodate for her summer care – although the weeks when she is home feel just as busy in the summertime as they did when she was doing virtual school. While I am an introvert, and happy to be at home for large swathes of time without social contact (in this way, self-isolation was no problem for me whatsoever), Miss L is extroverted and I think all kids need social stimulation, interests, and friendships. She and Brandon have bonded over their mutual enjoyment of old kung fu movies and skateboarding, so there are regular visits to the local skate park, but during the weeks we try to make sure she sees her friends from school and get out into the neighborhood. It’s been a balancing act to do this in a responsible, socially distanced way but I think most of her friends’ parents are simpatico on this, and Miss L has been happy to have more bandwidth with a few of her friends and some neighborhood friends at both her dad’s house and mine.

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I have been doing Weight Watchers for about a month now and am thrilled to report that I’ve lost 8 lbs. I still have a bit to go before I get back to what I thought I was before the pandemic, and another 10+ to go before I am finally at my goal weight, but the program is working for me and I am feeling really good on it. In addition to seeing the scale move a little bit in the right direction every week, I’m drinking way more water than I used to, and my skin looks much better. I am strictly limiting refined sugar, processed foods, and alcohol, and I am less bloated, my clothes feel better. I’m taking supplements and sleeping like a baby, and have more energy all around – I haven’t felt a mid-afternoon crash into sluggishness since I started the plan. The plan I’ve picked meshes well with the way we eat anyway, and feels more like a reminder / education about making good choices with food and movement. So here’s to the next month on it and hopefully more loss.

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I went a little crazy signing us up for virtual running events but Brandon and I are having a lot of fun getting our miles in and tracking our progress. The big one, you’ll remember, is the Mitten Run – 160 virtual miles from Oscoda to Empire (across the upper half of the lower peninsula, for you non-Michiganders) and I also signed us up for the Michigan Harvest Challenge, which is a different harvest-themed run per month through October. We’re also doing the virtual Fishtown 5k, which is a fundraiser for historic Leland, and the virtual Crim 10-miler in August. Whew! It’s a lot of running and so far we haven’t made it out of Farmington for our runs, but the Harvest Challenge offers suggested Strava routes up north for the various events so maybe one month we’ll get crazy and drive up north to do one.

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I hope you are all well and safe and healthy. xoxo

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late summer

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Miss L and I were up north for several days last week visiting my awesome parents and had a lovely time on the beach. My folks are wonderful and we love spending time with them and the extra benefit is we can fish and enjoy Lake Michigan and the Sleeping Bear while we’re there, too. We spent lots of time outside in the sun getting brown and bug-bit, we ate ice cream and had dinner at Dinghy’s in Frankfort, we visited Fishtown (where I was supposed to run a fundraising 5k in July, but due to the timing of a scheduled trip to Cedar Point with my brother’s family, I had to scratch. I feel sad that I didn’t get that t-shirt. But next year).
The water levels are very high and we watched a small boy drop his fishing line in the channel and pull out fat fish as the tourist crowds milled past. And we had breakfast at the local eatery in the village where friends of my folks were providing live music – they’re a married duo with a guitar and a flute and they did music for beautiful and popular children’s book called “Paddle to the Sea”. I will confess to getting a little misty at some of their songs invoking Paddle’s journey via the Great Lakes and eventually to the Atlantic Ocean.
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I read three books – my Charles Manson beach read, which ended up feeling a little scattered and not satisfying, “The Immortalists” by Chloe Benjamin which I read quickly but also did not enjoy, and a book by the daughter of the BTK serial killer which only stood out to me because of all the times she mentioned Arby’s and Taco Bell. I’d be a serial killer, too, if that’s all I ate. (I’m a grump with my summer reading, I guess, but just wait til I post my thoughts on the book I’m reading NOW – “My Lovely Wife” by Samantha Downing, which may be the most grump-inducing of all).

It all went too fast, as it always does. Still, I managed to do some productive things done besides reading – I had a work conference call AND I pounded out 8 miles on the Betsie Valley trail to fulfill my “long run” obligations. It felt better than the 8 miles Brandon and I did last weekend at Kensington, which was an excruciating miserable slog.
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And yes, for anyone keeping track, I’m still running. I mean, I’m not running *well*, but I’m doggedly logging the miles. I’ve gained weight, I am very slow and lazy, and I don’t feel good about my times. I’m running for the finish line, not the finish time, which makes me embarrassed to tell people that I run, because if the person I tell is another runner, they inevitably ask about my paces, and I have to tell them that my average pace (which used to be between 9 / 9:30 per training mile and under 9 for race miles) is now a solid sub-12 minute mile (barely) for training runs and between 10 & 11 for race miles. And I know what other runners think, because I used to think the exact same thing, which is are you really running if you’re running 11 and 12’s? I hate to say that because it sounds so condescending and snotty now but runners care about their times and now because I’m a slow runner, there are no more gleeful post-run or pre-run selfies to smear all over social media because I know I can be modestly proud of my finish time.
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As previously mentioned, Brandon and I are running the Crim 10-mile in Flint next week and are going up for a romantic (haha) evening in a hotel the night before so we don’t have to get up at 4 AM to drive there and pick up our packets. (I booked our room on Expedia and received an email confirmation “CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE GOING TO FLINT” which, if you’ve ever been to Flint, is hard to view as anything other than cutting sarcasm on Expedia’s part.)

I’m a little concerned as my last run had to be cut short because of shin pain. I’m very leery of any kind of shin pain because of the terrible shin splints I had several years ago, which resulted in a stress fracture that cut short my fast running days, which will likely never return. Brandon and I are planning another long run this weekend so I’m going to lay off until then, wear my compression sleeve, and hopefully see improvement. I made it through a half marathon training cycle in February and March without shin issues so that’s something I’m clinging to.
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Anyway, that’s the update from late summer here in suburban Elysia, where the days are fading in some ways and brightening in others, and the roads smell like sun-baked fields and a few tired, dusty leaves are beginning an early drift to earth. This time of year will always invoke a pleasant melancholy that is pure nostalgia for my childhood days when I knew summer was growing old and back-to-school clothes and pencils were right around the corner.

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gratitude, politics, and some random links

Good morning and I hope you are enjoying your weekend so far. I don’t have much to share today except an article of interest or two and some expressions of gratitude for the past week!

Firstly, I am so grateful for the yoga studio that opened up a few blocks from my house. I’ve taken two Saturday morning classes there so far, and it’s been a huge pleasure for me to get back to a practice. Twenty years ago, I took yoga at a great studio in the Virginia Highlands area of Atlanta, and loved it. I haven’t done any yoga classwork since, and being able to re-engage my body in that area, in addition to running, is happy. I’ve also re-engaged with my meditation practice this week, using it in the mornings when I wake up to boost my confidence and gratitude, and at night to gear-shift into a safe space for sleep.

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I’m also grateful for the right to VOTE in the Michigan primaries this week. There was record turnout and a remarkably diverse Democratic ballot. In the gubernatorial race, we had a female candidate, Gretchen Whitmer; Abdul El-Sayed, a Muslim American (who called himself a 215-lb “middle finger” to Donald Trump), and Shri Thanedar, an Indian-born entrepreneur. Gretchen Whitmer won the nomination, and will be facing down long-time Michigan politico Bill Schuette (also known in Michigan as “Shady Schuette”) for governor. Unfortunately the post-election was marred by an unpleasant incident when a Virginia Senate candidate with past ties to the far right unleashed an uncalled-for and completely ignorant Twitter slur against Abdul El-Sayed (say what? don’t you have enough to fight about in Virginia? stay in your own lane and STFU. And while we’re at it, just quit with Twitter. Jesus. We get enough of that from 45).

Corey Steward Tweet Calls Muslim Candidate Abdul El-Sayed “ISIS Commie” (Washington Times) Gretchen Whitmer did not let this stand, however, and responded:

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No word yet on whether Whitmer will take the advice of many of her constituents and ask El-Sayed, who was stridently endorsed by Bernie Sanders, to be her pick for Assistant Governor.

Couple of other great articles I read this week that might be of interest –

True Crime story involving an uncanny intersection between the unsolved “Lady of the Dunes” case, the filming of the classic “Jaws”, and Stephen King’s son…Shark Thriller “Jaws” Holds the Clue to an Unsolved 1974 Murder (Washington Post)

And a Michigan oddity that I’d never before heard of; The Religious Sect that Became Baseball’s Answer to the Harlem Globetrotters (The Guardian)

I have some other big news about a recent four-legged addition to my already-crazy house so stay tuned or check my Insta account @sixtenpine for a preview!

I hope your August weekend is full of sunshine, sunflower bouquets, goldfinches in your coneflowers, farmers markets, steaming coffee, and firefly nights. xo

 

meanderings

On this last day of July in the year of our Lord 2018, welcome friends! I hope all is well with you and yours. I’ve returned from a whirlwind but always-lovely weekend in the Up North area of Pure Michigan. We looked at the wonderful old houses left over from the days when wealthy folks would take a ship up from Chicago to their expansive summer homes to catch a breeze.

We toured the Benzie Area Historical Museum which was so well done and interesting – especially for a museum of its size, it’s a treasure trove of old photographs, displays, furniture, books, boats…and a tiny sawmill that actually works.

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And of course there was a lot of outside time under the sunshine and big sky.

I just wanted to say hello as I segue back into the work week. Today is dusting day on my cleaning protocol but I am baking some chicken and sitting with Emmett instead. I have a full day of meetings tomorrow for a new gig at work that I’m taking on in addition to my consistent paralegal / governance tasks – I came home hoping my Goody Box from Thred Up had arrived with a couple of nice new-to-me work outfits carefully curated by a stylist at my favorite consignment website. (It’s such a cool service. Give them your Pinterest style board and sizes, they’ll select a box of goodies for you, keep what you like return what you don’t…love it.) The box was indeed full of great stuff but only 2 things really worked. Sadly, I’ve gained a few pounds in the past year and have not been entirely consistent with my Weight Watchers. I’m back on it now, and hoarding blue dots, but I have a ways to go until the clothing that I favor can look good on me.

I’ve been running more but my eating hasn’t been on track so the extra few miles aren’t doing much, although I’m really happy to say that I’m feeling healthy and strong, with no pain or injury, which is something I don’t take for granted. B and I did a neighborhood 5k last weekend when he was home and it poured down rain like nobody’s business. We ran it anyway! Our time wasn’t much to write home about but you do the best you can when you are drenched to the skin.

As I type, it’s still raining, which is good news for my yard and plantings – what is left of them, that is, after the nonstop assault by the mama deer and her two fawns that I have squatting in the hedgerow (I live in a suburb, have I mentioned?) And cozy, knowing I have nowhere to be and nothing to do except eat and watch Netflix and maybe do some reading. I hope you are equally snug and content, until next time.

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camp

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Taking a break from playing catch-up with you fine folks, last weekend was oppressively hot and humid here in the Mitten. Even with our A/C on, it was uncomfortable; but Miss L and I were busy. She was going to her first summer sleepaway camp and there was a lot to do.

I never went to sleepaway camp when I was a kid – I was a fairly anxious child (and teenager…and adult, come to think of it) and the thought of a forced separation from home and family, even to ride horses and swim in a lake, would NOT have been fun for me. It would have been traumatic and I have no doubt that I would have ended up in the infirmary begging to go home. My daughter, though, I am happy to say, is cut from a different cloth, and for days her excitement over the adventure absorbed her every waking thought. She picked out all of her own clothes to pack and stacked them into neat piles, labelled. We scoured Amazon for a battery operated clip fan for her bunk, and a plastic mess kit for her chow. There were flashlights to compare and consider, extra batteries to pack, new goggles and a new swimsuit and cover-up, the purchase of travel size toiletries for her shower bag, and pink shower shoes. No tablets or electronics allowed; once she got over her bogglement over that, she bought two new books and put them into her tote so she wouldn’t be tempted to read them before she left. We went back to add playing cards, a sketchpad, notebook, pencils, and a tiny reading light.

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emmett oversaw the organizing and packing process with his usual attention to detail.

I dropped her off on Sunday; perhaps the hottest day.  That morning, I’d written five letters to be delivered to her every day of her camp, secreted away in my bag to drop off at the trading post before I left her; I also made sure she had spending money on account. The camp boiled under a blanket of oppressive heat and battering flat sunshine. The cabins were stifling; I was more anxious than she was, wanting her to get a good bunk, to be near her friends. But the air under the pine trees was cooler and smelled like summer; cicadas droned, and down the hill green with foliage, the lake broke into a million tiny glimmers of light and dragonflies.

Being divorced, my daughter isn’t at my house for a fair portion of her time; I thought the separation of camp would feel like dropping her off at her dad’s house. It has not.  I feel a strong sense of waiting, of life suspended until she gets back to me, a feeling that I know will recur in waves throughout her growth to adulthood and independence, through every flight she takes from my nest until at last she flies alone, strong and not looking back.

I know this is an important part of my job as her mother, to prepare her to fly strongly, to meet the challenges of her life with the knowledge that she is capable, she is fine, just fine; I just never anticipated that this process would break my heart a little bit each time, no matter how glad I am to see that beautiful swallow’s flight.

The heat broke with a thunderstorm on Monday night, as I sat on my overgrown patio in my pajamas, grilling corn and a turkey burger, reading “Flat Broke with Two Goats”. I thought about Miss L and whether she would be excited to hear the thunder and feel the first fresh drops laying down the dust in the path between cabins. I check the camp Facebook page and find photographs of her, at the opening night bonfire, in the mess hall, her dimple showing as she pats her horse.

There are a few tomatoes to pick and my basil has gone crazy, so I bought a ball of fresh mozzarella and can eat myself sick on caprese salad. Summer is good and I am proud that my girl is confident and fearless enough to go into the world without one of us holding her hand. But I am counting the hours and stalking Facebook until I can rocket north to pick her up tomorrow night.

xo friends.

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hello, it’s been awhile

Hello friends. If I haven’t been here in awhile, it’s because I’ve had a really nice summer. I grew wildflowers instead of vegetables, except for a couple of tomato plants that seem listless in their containers. I’ve added more birdfeeders which the deer love, regularly emptying them at night – Sarge and I caught them once, in the first light of dawn, capering and kicking with ghostly grace through my backyard. I got back to running, although I am much slower than I ever have been, and don’t really care much being competitive.

It’s been a summer in which I made a new friend and said ‘yes’ to almost every invitation. I went to a baseball game and watched fireworks on the rooftop of the Detroit Athletic Club. My friend and I enjoyed drinks and small plates in trendy metro Detroit spots. We listened to live music in town squares and had a picnic on the lovely grounds of Cranbrook and watched classic cars on Woodward Ave.

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I spent time with Miss L and my brother and his family, riding rollercoasters at Cedar Point and our traditional trip to the Hudsonville carnival just this past weekend. L and I also went to Mackinaw Island with her Girl Scout troop and she got to spend a few days with my parents up north, beach time and freighters and lighthouses. My brother and father and grandfather and I fished for trout and salmon on Lake Michigan, just in sight of the Point Betsie light.

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Unfortunately summer draws to a close and there are already hints of scarlet in my front-yard maples. My summer friend has a new job and will be moving on in a few weeks and neither of us are certain what will happen next.

Labor Day approaches and I need firewood, I have knitting projects lined up and a long Netflix queue. Miss L has piles of school supplies and a new backpack for her fourth-grade year and every time I look at her she seems taller, with feet and hands the same size as mine, almost.

I hope that you and yours have had an equally wonderful summer and are growing ready for the hibernation time.  xoxo

 

shine like glamour

So what have I been up to since we last talked? Let’s see, we went to a carnival with my brother and his family.

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There’s something about a small-town fair that really appeals to me. I think it reminds me of how exciting it was when we were kids – all the old small-town festivals and county and state fairs. In daylight, they look tired and cheap, but at night, especially to a kid, they glimmer and shine like glamour.

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My brother is always an excellent carnival companion, perhaps the best there is. He is prone to pointing out that when I am on a particularly frightening ride, I curse in a decibel lower than my regular voice. This observation always makes me laugh and think of Chris Farley of SNL dressed up like the Gap salesgirl. He makes me laugh so hard and so often that my abdomen aches the day after I am with them.

Miss L juked me twice this year. If she wants to go on a scary ride, I of course must accompany her. However, as I get older, the heights really bother me. This year, she was determined to go on the shock drop, where you are harnessed in and they lift you up up up 70 feet into the air. You are essentially sitting with your legs dangling, nothing between you and oblivion but a locking harness. Miss L ran up, sat down; I sat next to her and locked my harness in place. Once this was done, Miss L jumped out of the seat and said, “Nope. Changed my mind,” and scampered off to join my SIL, who was shrieking with laughter. “Well hell no am I doing this, then,” I thought, and tried my harness. Locked and loaded. No escape. And the ride began its ascent. Everyone thought that was quite hilarious.

She also thought she wanted to ride the Zipper, in which you are locked into a tiny revolving cage and spun up and around, over and over. I climbed in – she climbed in next to me – the cage door began to swing shut and she was out of there like a shot. Luckily, my brother climbed in next to me, and as the cage door locked and we began the ascent, he said conversationally, “Well, if there was some sort of catastrophic event down below, we’d really be screwed, locked in up here, wouldn’t we?” NOT HELPFUL.

We went back and my SIL had arranged a lovely little birthday party for Miss L. It’s always a fun tradition and one that I remember all year long.

The weather has turned a bit cooler and Labor Day, the last hurrah of summer, is almost upon us. The major road construction that has plagued us is over, and school starts next week. Still, true autumn feels a long way off still. My friend had a Lularoe pop-up party on Facebook and despite my caution toward such cultish things, I bought some leggings and a skirt and am excited to wear them with boots and sweaters, hopefully soon. I need cool weather, rain and incense, knits and candles and a fire in the woodstove.