Tag Archives: Summer

Summer Ups and Downs

July was a good month here. We got to spend time with grandkids, like this zoo day…IMG_20160630_110546538

And celebrated another granddaughter’s 7th birthday…KT

I also released my first women’s fiction novel…Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00074]

And we’ve had the house and shop pressure-washed in advance of painting. Can you tell we had trouble picking a color?

This blog is word-poor, but picture-rich, as August started out badly for us and I’m kind of at a loss for words, to be honest. We’ve had another upset here with Mom falling yesterday. It didn’t seem like a bad fall, but it turns out she now has a compression fracture in her spine. That translates to a lot of pain. So we’re working very hard to keep her as relaxed as possible. And keeping a close eye on her because she’s not to be up by herself since the pain medications make her tired and a little loopy. Sigh. IMG_20160729_184314

It’s a real process, aging. I hope I’m as gracious as my mother when I start having more troubles. For now, we’ll be joined at the hip, at least until she’s clearer-headed. 🙂

And finally, just to end things on a happier note, here’s the Dude, laid out on the summer deck behind me as we’re having dinner. This cat LOVES summer!IMG_20160725_191533581

 

Have an awesome August, everyone. The last splash of summer, coming up!

We’ve Gone A Little Potty

So, here we are: the start of August, middle of summer, and yes, it’s tipping with rain for the second day running. After the driest July on record for the UK, we’ve had more rain in the West Country in one day than for the whole of last month. Typical! At least it isn’t cold, but this dismal weather is a disappointment. I was looking forward to spending the week enjoying the sunshine in the garden with my mother, who’s staying here for a while. The trip was planned for some time but bought forward by an unfortunate accident, one that has brought amusement to the family.

Mum is unable to walk far or do a lot around the house or her large garden due to an ongoing back condition. My sister, who also lives on her own, has been taking care of her for the past year, doing her shopping, helping around the house, and looking after the garden. A few weeks ago, Ursula tripped on a damaged paving slab in the street, fell and broke her wrist in several places, needing surgery to insert a metal plate, such was the severity of the injury. Obviously, this means she is now out of action for some weeks and unable to do much for herself, let alone for Mum. Fortunately, my other sister, Ursula’s twin, lives near both of them, and Lydia has been doing all the driving, errands, personal help, and shopping etc, for both.  Mum was upset because she could doing little in return for Ursula,  having broken her own wrist several years ago so knows what it is like to cope with one arm in plaster. So Mum thought now was a good time to come and stay in order to give both my sisters a break (excuse the pun!).

What amused the family, although it is no laughing matter, was the coincidence that the very same day Ursula took her tumble, our brother in Spain, also fell over, and broke his wrist too! They are all now waiting for it to happen to me; I’m the only one in the family not to have broken a wrist.

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20160802_113410Mum is/was an avid gardener, loves plants and enjoys pottering about outside a little but nothing that involves bending. She loves seeing our garden and we share lots of tips, hints and advice, all of us always eager to learn. Spring provided  a lovely display but the summer show isn’t at its best this year. We’ve not done a lot because the beds are being ripped out this autumn, ready for the big revamp (new larger patio, larger greenhouse, new fencing etc; at least, that’s the plan). To make up for the shortfall, we’ve gone rather overboard with pots and containers; far more than usual. We love bold colours, colour clashes and perfume and the bright colours do bring rays of sunshine to the garden despite the rain.

20160802_113743But with the pouring rain, all we can do at the moment is enjoy the display from the patio window. With luck, the weather will improve over the next few days to enable Mum and me to get out there, put up the sunshade and enjoy some summer sun in the garden, preferably reading a book and enjoying a cocktail or two.

Hold on a moment… is that a bit of blue sky I can see creeping over the horizon?

I’m Late! I’m Late for a Very Important Date! by Valerie J. Patterson

Good Saturday morning to you!  As you can tell by the title, I’m late…with this blog article!  Thursday evening as I began to head here to type in my article, the Internet went out and stayed out until sometime Friday afternoon.  Friday evening–after a stressful week–I couldn’t muster the energy to type in my article.  Very sorry if you came and saw NOTHING from me!

The article I was going to post will wait for another day.  Instead, I’ve been inspired by my laziness to offer up something thought-provoking and perhaps memory-recalling!

Last month, Steve and I took our annual wedding anniversary trip, which was quite lovely, very relaxing, and extremely revitalizing!  As is our normal habit, we take one route to our destination and another route back home.  It was on the route back home that brought the only sad note to the entire trip.

While I was growing up, my family practically spent the entire summer camping/living in a very rustic, deep in the heart of nature resort in Deep Creek, Maryland.  Those summers were some of the best times of my youth.  Every trip, we stopped at a restaurant called the Lone Star.   We were such regulars, the waitresses would recite our beverages as we were seated at a table!  This place had the best fried chicken!

There was nothing special about the place.  It was a large diner along the highway, but the food was good, affordable, and the place was clean, the waitresses friendly, and it was a staple in our summer lives.

It’s been years since I last ate there.  In fact, I don’t think I could tell you when it was that I was last a patron there, but in my mind, it remained the same: same waitresses, same food, same decor.  That is until Steve and I happened to pass it on our way home from vacation.  We passed it and my eyes flew to the giant FOR SALE sign in the parking lot.

I made Steve turn around and go back.  I snapped a few pictures, sighed some heavy sighs, and shed a tear or two.  It sounds silly, I know, but my life has changed so much since the death of my dad that I simply wasn’t prepared to see one more casualty of my childhood.

Life is meant to be ever changing as opposed to stagnant.  It’s meant to be a journey of new places, people, and memories created.  You’re intended to go through it as an ever changing being as well.  However, as we age and lose people in our lives it sometimes becomes difficult to let go of “things” that remind us of simpler times or loved ones.

As I said, it’s not like I frequented the Lone Star, but the loss of it means I can never go back!  Perhaps this is also a good thing.  Everything changes with time.  Perhaps being able to go back…and actually going back…would have been harder.  New waitresses.  New menu items.  New cook.  New tastes.

There’s a saying that you can’t go back home again.  I think this is true.  I think it’s a bittersweet “good” thing that you can’t go back.  Not being able to go back keeps our memories pristine and unchanged by time.  While it is hard to let go of the past–be it people, places, or objects–let go we must.

Until next time, as the weather turns cooler, may you have many memories to wrap around you and leave you with a warmth that touches your heart!

Summer Re-cap

Well, it’s been a great summer and doesn’t look to be winding down anytime soon. It’s been crazy warm and we have several friends who have joined the air-conditioning revolution because of it.

Still, we’ve managed to have some fun. First and foremost was my niece’s wedding in June. It was an awesome night for an outdoor reception and we danced until we couldn’t anymore. No, really, we couldn’t. It was my brother’s backyard and we stopped at 10 to make sure the neighbors didn’t get upset. Here’s the awesome couple with my Dad.With Dad

Immediately following that wedding (the very next day) was a 60th birthday party for me, which was low key and just how I like it. I’m not big on being the center of attention, so a nice, relaxing lunch thing in our backyard was perfect. We didn’t even take any pictures (thank God) but I do have a couple of one of our granddaughter’s from that day that I’ll show you. Of course, Dude being in the pictures is a bonus, right? 🙂

And some of the women in our family got away for a weekend to wine taste and unwind. Okay, maybe we spent most of our time by (and in) the pool, but it was one of the most relaxing times I’ve had in years!20150717_170635

And we’ve finished with one more wedding celebration, for our youngest daughter, who chose the lower key Vegas option for her wedding, but couldn’t get away completely. It was party time again! 🙂 Here they are heading off to get married.

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In amongst that, we did some day drives, hikes, and, for me, training for an upcoming mini-triathlon I’ve entered with my daughter. So it’s been a full and joyous summer and I’m feeling very blessed to have the family and friends we’ve shared this all with. I hope you’ve all had as good a summer and would love to hear some of the highlights from yours. 🙂

The Beauty in the Rain by Valerie J. Patterson

I don’t know about where you live, but here in beautiful Pennsylvania it’s been raining and raining and raining with one or two dry days thrown in the mix.  I don’t normally mind rain, but when the meteorologist comes on the TV and says that had the rain in June been snow, we’d have had 48 inches of the fluffy white stuff, it kind of gets your attention!

About the biggest complaint I have about rain is walking to and from work in it.  The back splash of heels in water on dress trousers is a bit of a drag, not to mention the fact that wearing open-toed shoes is not a good idea.  But it’s summer, and your toes are all dressed up for show and you just don’t want to hide them inside shoes.

Aside from that, rain is beautiful.  I was standing at the kitchen window staring out at my Red Sweet Gum tree, marveling at the variety of shades of green that seemed sharper and brighter and more vivid in the rain.  For those unfamiliar with Red Sweet Gum trees, the leaves are star shaped and absolutely wonderfully aromatic.  I stood admiring my tree–the setting sun glistened off the rain water settling on the leaf stars.  I was amazed at how vastly different the tree looked in the aftermath of a summer storm.  I grabbed my camera and headed outside to attempt to gain a few frames of the beauty.  I snapped several pictures from several spots in the yard and at varying angles, but I simply could not capture what I’d seen from the kitchen window.  It was that “once and but for a moment” beauty where the setting is perfect–the sunshine was in the perfect degree of brightness, the rain water was in its early stages of dropping off the tree leaves–the setting was perfect.  By the time I’d attempted to capture it, the moment had passed.  It’s true, I have some nice photos, but none of them are THE one photo I wanted.

I’ve been enjoying the summer rains, tolerating the thunder storms, and keeping my pretty toes tucked inside shoes–nice and dry.  Thanks to a tree full of star-shaped leaves I’ve grown to appreciate even more the beauty in the rain.  It’s more than nature’s way of watering the gardens, making plants and grass grow, and keeping things somewhat cleaner than without the rain.  It’s about seeing the mist of a shower, hearing the rhythm of a storm, and admiring the rainbow at the end.  It’s noticing how the rain enhances the colors of the world around us.

Until next time, may the rain in your life bring beauty and inspiration.

Hello Again by Valerie J. Patterson

Last week, my cousin Bill and his wife, Cindy came for a visit from Kansas.  They were taking a 2-week holiday to a couple of cities and to visit various family as well as some new sight-seeing excursions.  I was beyond delighted when they included my hometown and my home on their itinerary.

It’s been a few years since Steve and I have last seen them.  In fact, the last time it was one of those, “We only get together for funerals or weddings” type of visits.  Thankfully, that was a wedding–always a joyous occasion!  This trip, however, was neither a wedding nor a funeral–it was pure enjoyment, and it was long overdue!

I sat patiently–okay not so patiently–on the sofa and awaited their arrival all the while sitting with my nose practically stuck to the glass of our picture window!  Finally, I caught sight of their truck and–more importantly–their two familiar faces and I was off the sofa in a shot and out the front door.

“They’re here!” I yelled to Steve and he soon was behind me out the front door.  I barely allowed them to exit the vehicle before I was dishing out hugs with a massive smile on my face.

Once inside, I was offering food and beverages and seats.  We sat for hours and talked and laughed and even shed a few tears before the luggage was even out of the back of the truck!  Then we were off to dinner where more laughter and talking ensued.  Oh!  The time passed way too quickly!

After dinner, we went back to the house and out to the gazebo with a bottle of wine and stories from our childhood mixed with updates on their lives and their children.  We talked about all those loved ones who were now missing from our lives.  We shared funny episodes from family gatherings, we made several trips through the family tree, and our tongues never tired and the stories never ceased and none were repeated!

The following morning, Bill and I were the first to rise.  It was so good to sit in the living room with him and talk quietly.  It had been so long since that had last happened.  I savored the time that seemed but a moment to get personally reacquainted with my cousin.  I felt selfish wanting to keep him there as long as possible, all the while knowing he had other family to see in other cities, other states.  For that time, he was a willful captive and it is time I will cherish.

Over breakfast, more talking, more laughing, and a few more tears.  When the visit came to a close, and they packed up the back of the truck, hugs went around quite a few times.  It was hard to let them leave knowing it would be a while before hugs came around again, but it was a wonderful visit–one filled with love and sweet, sweet memories.  One that created new sweet memories!

Family is indeed a precious blessing from God.  Every visit should be such a joyous occasion whether the family lives around the corner or half a country away.  Time passes too quickly, and life is way too short not to make time to visit and reminisce, relive old memories, and create beautiful new ones.

Until next time, may there be warm hugs, boisterous laughter, and even a tear or two whenever your family gathers!

I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar…Part Deux by Valerie J. Patterson

You might recall that back in 2012 I regaled you with a tale about using power tools, namely the power washer.  I’m sure it was one of those purely unforgettable stories that you then repeated many times around a campfire, the dinner table, and at the office water cooler!

When you’re done either laughing at my recollection or scratching your head while trying to recall what I am talking about, let’s move on to today’s “Roar”.

I am woman hear me roar…with a mower too big to ignore!

Steve and I bought a new lawn tractor and I am the operator of said tractor.  My first ride, I could feel the power as I zoomed up the driveway toward the front lawn.  I turned toward the lawn, lowered the blades, and smiled as thousands of pieces of grass confetti shot out the right side of the cutting deck.  My hair was pulled back, the wind was blowing across my face…and so was the grass I had just cut!

Note to self:  never mow into the wind unless you LIKE the taste of cut grass!

These days, I whip around the yard and zoom up and down the driveway.  It’s fun!

I’ve made good use of that power washer, too.  My porch furniture never looks better than after a fresh power washing!  It has a way of making everything shiny and new!

Plus, I can also add the snow blower to the list of power tools I have mastered.  Had plenty of opportunity to use that baby this past winter.  Kind of glad it’s been exchanged for the lawn tractor, though!

Until next time, may there be power tools in your life that make your life easier, comfier, and more beautiful!  Happy Spring, Y’all!!