Category Archives: summer
The air quality is pretty bad here, I can’t imagine what it is like in California. This time of year the air here tends to be thick with humidity and still so the particulates from the Canadian wildfires hang in the haze. The weather forecasters keep predicting rain, which would wash some of the particulate out of the air, but we’ve been dry for quite a stretch.
Why is this relevant? Well, last week I missed posting because I was outside breathing the “fresh” air. I was camping north of the Twin Cities. Spent the first couple of days in a tent and then the next several in a trailer. The advantages of trailer camping include air conditioning and last week that made a world of difference.
I’ve never really trailer camped before so I don’t understand the ins and outs of hook-ups and reserve tanks. I do have a friend who, having just purchased a trailer, asked for my help getting it parked and set up. In return I’ll have access to a retreat in the summer – air conditioning included. Seems like a win-win to me!
The last time I was tent camping I ended up in the ER. I threw my back out, badly. This time I had enough help and support (and I didn’t have Orion with me) that I did fine. I even managed to be a real help to the people I was camping with. I also took care to go to bed when I was tired (much earlier than I would at home) instead of staying up half the night around the campfire. I made sure to stay hydrated. I didn’t “settle in” and stop moving.
Even so I had a nasty allergy episode. Someone decided to spread an allergen (they had been specifically asked not to use) around the ritual circle. This is a particulate that contains a volatile oil. In this environment, especially with the heavy, still air, the allergen doesn’t dissipate and instead continues to be reactivated and spread. It meant I had to miss out on much of the community activities and stay close to our campsite. It actually could have been life-threatening if I was less careful or less well equipped to handle my reaction.
The thing about accessibility is that accommodations were made and someone chose to ignore them. I see that a lot. People block aisles, drop into parking spots “for just a minute”, use public accessible bathrooms as employee changing rooms or (as in this case) think their experiences with disability are equal to everyone else so if it works for them that means it’s accessible. This behavior is nasty when done in ignorance and down right evil when it is done with self-righteous intention.
I have spent 50 years of my life with an awareness of access and disability. My sister had sever enough allergies growing up that we had to leave the city at this time of year because the air quality was too bad. That was before the advent of central air commonly available in housing. I’ve cooked around food issues (for friends and family, conference style events and as a personal chef). I’ve been pushing Orion around in a wheelchair for 25 years. I have had my own experiences with access issues as well.
If I’ve learned anything it’s that there is no one-size-fits-all. I know my son’s wheelchair is not as wide as standard and just because he can get somewhere does not mean it is “accessible”. I know that what we need in a parking spot is different than what a driver with a disability might need, or someone with a scooter. I know that distance isn’t the same issue for someone pushing Orion as it is for someone dealing with Fibromyalgia or a breathing disorder.
Many people, myself included, who deal with asthma will joke that “breathing is over rated”. It’s actually not, and that’s why people die of asthma. That’s why environmental controls on air quality are not just an inconvenience. That’s why setting off fires, that become forest fires, that impact air quality across states is criminal. That’s why I run my air conditioner all summer long, it filters the air. It makes it possible to breathe.
Everywhere Orion and I went this week it was busy. Maybe it was my timing, but busier than what I usually find all the same.
I took Orion to get his haircut and we waited a good 1/2 hour on a walk in appointment. Now, I could have “checked in on-line”. I could have gone earlier in the afternoon. I could have gone during the week and not on a weekend. Sometimes I do. Often I don’t. This week, things were busy.
We went to the movies, afternoon matinee. I was hoping for Christopher Robin thinking we might be hitting the “naptime” show. Things never bode well when ALL the accessibility spots are filled. When that happens I’ll often say, “forget it.” But I really wanted to be out and about with Orion. (Dinner at the theater rather than cooking was also a bonus feature.)
I didn’t get into the movie I wanted. All the accessible seats were filled. In a matinee for Christopher Robin! I guess nostalgia goes a long way. There was another movie on my list screening at the same time. We snagged the some of the last seats for Mama Mia 2.
Because we stood in line for food and read the tickets wrong about which theater we were going to, we missed some of the previews. Not only that, there were people in our seats! An elderly couple, who needed accessible seating and were hoping to sit together. Guys…..
It all worked out, kindly and peaceably. Minnesota nice does occasionally help. The movie was not as much fun as the first, but still a summer romp. We went home and listened to ABBA for the rest of the evening.
Even the grocery store (co-op) was busy. There it wasn’t so much the volume of customers in the store. It was more the staff desperately trying to restock from what looked like hoards of shoppers we’d just missed. Still managed to find what I was looking for, pretty fresh vegetables!
I guess I just wanted to be a grasshopper this week and everyone else decided to be ants. busy busy.
I got a notice from Word Press congratulating me on my blogging anniversary. Go figure. I can’t imagine going into this with any hope of writing for 7 years, this is my 338th post. Funny how time flies when you’re having fun.
To celebrate, I had coffee and scones with a friend rather than actually posting this. Hoping when I do get around to it it’s still Monday. Lol
I’ve been doing quite a bit of out and about in the last week. Karina had me over for breakfast. I spent the weekend with my parents. Did some cooking and shopping with them. The cooler weather has made a difference. They get the new furnace/air conditioner in later this week.
It’s felt a little like fall in the air. Maybe that’s why I’ve been thinking about Lammas. I’ll refer you to past posts and take a little anniversary vacation. Thanks for reading!
We spent all of the 4th of July week (and both weekends) up at my folks house. It was quite the event. Small resort towns around the Brainerd Area do big celebrations. We didn’t watch any fireworks, but we could hear them. Every evening!
Because we came up, Dad got to get several things checked off his “to do” list. He went to a meeting, got his snow blower tuned up, and put new tires on the car. He also had his buddy Orion along for 3 parades and a trip up to International Day at Concordia Language Villages
Orion attended Waldsee, the German village, with his Opa as his aid for 10 years starting 20 years ago. It was fun for the two of them to return to their old stomping grounds. There were even several people there who remembered them from years gone by. The old Dean, Karl, noticed them across the way and stopped what he was doing so he and his wife could catch up with Jager and Opa.
I kept Mom occupied while the boys were out and about. Ordinarily we’d be taking things easy at home, but the air conditioning died the day I arrived. So we had our own “out and about” adventures. We decided it was too hot to be home and went out for a drive and pizza.
We collected my sister, Andrea, and ran errands in Brainerd. (That really meant lunch at Prairie Bay and Mom sitting in the air conditioned car while one or the other of us ran into the store.)
We ate pretty well at home too. When I’m there I do a lot of the cooking, or at least the meal planning. When I can stand it, I’ll enlist Dad’s help.
That’s especially true for grilling. I’m more than happy to let him set up the coals and carry things back and forth, at least most of the time. We’re still in mourning about that beautifully cooked salmon.
Dad did have a chance to redeem himself. At my request he made mussels and a fresh focaccia to go with them. Even Orion thought they were really tasty!
It was a great trip. We had a great time. It was also pretty physically demanding. The drive took at least an hour longer than usual – in both directions. The heat and humidity was draining, and it wasn’t always easy to breathe. General household chores (which I do more of up there than at home) take their toll, as do extra transfers with Orion and massage work on Mom.
Now I’m glad to be home, laying on my back on an ice pack.
Sorry about not being able to get the photos aligned properly.
In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king. There are a number of components to this idea. One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth. Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land. As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted. In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster. Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.
I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development. Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.
On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields. The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn. This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology. The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.
It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political. Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.
I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock. I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police. I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.
Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King. This is part of the grail quest. The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King. The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land. Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail. Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.
We need to ask the questions. We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand. Why can’t we get along? Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause? When and how much is enough? Who has the vision for our future? Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?
Previous blogs about the holiday season:
It’s been cold and rainy here. Cold is relative. Two months ago I thought 50 degree evenings were crazy warm. It’s always seemed odd to me, a native Minnesotan, that Midsummer comes when it does. Pretty much this marks the beginning of our genuinely hot season.
Karina’s birthday is at the beginning of June and we couldn’t plan her preferred pool party unless we delayed it or held it indoors. Cool isn’t unusual.
Because of everyone’s crazy schedule we’re still delaying her birthday. We managed to all get together this weekend. Karina and I have a deal. I take her out to a high-end dinner for her birthday and she does the same for me.
This year she chose Pittsburgh Blue, a chain steakhouse. It was surprisingly good. The steaks were done to perfection and the seafood we had was also very tasty.
Orion and I also stopped by Gilda’s Club for Friends and Family Day. We’ve been doing this as an annual event, being sure to get our photos taken. Looking at those pictures I note I have a jacket or sweater on in most of them.
Orion brought his drum and we enjoyed a drumming workshop along with visiting. Hoof on the Roof, a folk band, joined us as we finished up drumming. It was a treat to jam with them.
In spite of the cold things are starting to bloom in the garden. I got behind so I still have a few things to plant. I’ve been worried that I’ll lose everything when we start tearing things up to get the remodel going, but I’m afraid we are stalled again. I really don’t want to wait for another year! I miss having a fully functional kitchen.
There are things I’ve been putting off (like a new microwave) in anticipation of getting this all taken care of. It’s frustrating.
Fourth of July is coming up fast and furiously. I’ll probably be off-line, so don’t worry if you don’t see a Monday blog next week. I will try to remember to take some photos.
Maybe parades and fireworks will fill my page. Maybe flowers and wildlife will inspire me. Maybe I’ll remember to take pictures of the family. Fingers are crossed for a fun filled, good weather, holiday.
Previous Midsummer Posts:
Midsummer – apparently I’m not very creative with titles at this time of year!
Charleston – I haven’t posted about Philandro Castile. It’s too close to home, too horrible, and I’m not the one. But I will say Black Lives Matter, because they should and it’s pretty clear that they don’t. I will say it’s important to remember.
With the long days and hot nights I’m not sleeping well. I feel like I’m spending my time trying to catch-up with myself. On the days when I’m busy I’m exhausted. On the days when I do nothing I find myself dozing in my chair.
It may seem counter intuitive given my state of being, but I’ve been looking for a part-time job. The latest news on the construction front is that the bank is worried about my income to debt ratio. That’s a good thing I suppose, to keep me from drowning in debt. On the other hand the work really needs to be done and I don’t have the money to do it. I figure at the glacial rate this project is moving along I may be a couple of months into a new job – enough for it to count – before everything else (my outstanding debt for instance) is settled to the banks satisfaction.
It was Friends and Family weekend at Gilda’s club. Orion and I went for our 3rd year in a row. This year Orion has acquired a new drum and he was determined to bring it and play it. We did cardio drumming. That was kind of fun. Drumming along to popular music on exercise balls in buckets. Moving arms and legs. Kind of like Taiko drumming for middle-aged women.
We also did the family drumming. That’s a slightly more traditional drum jam. Making connections to rhythms and a group apparently makes a difference in health and healing. Who knew drumming could be so therapeutic? Orion loved it.
We got to visit with friends, old and new. We had a visit from a fairy (it was a hot day and she was taking a break from the fairy garden). We had a lovely walk there and back. And when we got home I was (again) exhausted.
Maybe I need to drink more water.
The summer solstice is called midsummer. I’ve always wondered why. To me this feels like the beginning of summer. Here it’s come in like a rushing train. I’ve barely turned off the heat (nights in the 50’s at the beginning of the month). Now it’s in the 90’s with humidity.
This is the season of weeding. My weeds are all out of control. There are several beds I just didn’t get to and more I’ve not kept up with. Seems my other “projects” are conspiring against me. Or maybe the weather, it’s been rainy, hasn’t suited when I’ve had time. Or maybe I’ve got the midsummer all I want to do is sit in a hammock and read blues.
The change in light (the summer solstice is the longest day of the year) and the changing temperatures have totally disrupted my sleep schedule. Left to my own devices this time of year I’d be sleeping through the heat of the day and up all night. Unfortunately I don’t live in that world.
This is the pause after the haying, after the planting, before the big harvests come in. As I said earlier, weed season. It’s also summer salad season. I’ve made baked beans. I’ve made potato salad. I’ve got greens growing in a planter. I’m anticipating tomatoes that taste like something. I didn’t know if I’d be able to garden this year, but I’ve got a lot of pots around the house. I just have to be diligent about watering.
Orion and I went with friends to see Shakespeare in the Park. A Midsummer Night’s Dream seemed a fitting way to celebrate the season. Perhaps it is the season to dream the dreams, summer love, vacation. Or perhaps it is time to waken and make those dreams come true.
Happy Memorial Day. Enjoy the weather, the family, the picnic – whatever you have planned. I’ll be gardening and taking a long leisurely bath.
Remember those who served with their lives. Remember that many have sacrificed for the freedoms we enjoy. Remember the families of those who have served. And in remembering, think about all of those whose service was dismissed, or uncredited. There have always been women serving alongside the men, but because they were not “official” were not counted. There have been blacks and Native Americans in service for this country whose “special units” were often placed in the most dangerous situations. Japanese American families lost loved ones in the internment camps in the US during WWII. There are many kinds of service, many kinds of sacrifice. Let’s honor that in gratitude for what we do have. Let’s remember.
Dad is home and doing well. Thank you for all the support and good wishes.
I have allergies. I’ve been doing allergy shots for 5 years or so. Things are definitely better, but there are still a few weeks each year where I have to pull out all the stops. This is one of those weeks. Because of that, sitting in an air-conditioned hospital was not the most horrible thing for me to be doing.
I’ve missed some pretty dramatic thunderstorms these past weeks. Either I’ve slept so hard I didn’t hear them or, like the night the tornado sirens went off, the worst has passed me by. I’ve been grateful not to need to water the garden as I run out the door in the morning.
The lawn hasn’t been mowed, but the truth of the matter is that given the allergy conditions I probably wouldn’t be able to do it anyway. I often quip that breathing is over-rated, but the truth is I’m kind of attached to it.
I’ve been watching Dad work the spirometer post surgery. He’s a champ. So the other day I got out mine, “just to check”. When your 79-year-old father whose just had open heart surgery literally blows harder it’s definitely time to hit the inhaler. I had to work hard to get my numbers above the “you should really consider taking yourself to the emergency room” line.
Despite the allergies, being back to our “normal” routine feels like taking a deep breath. The list of things I’ve “put off tending to” is long, but doable. Orion and I went to the movies this weekend (so I could avoid making dinner as this theater comes with a menu.) which was fun for both of us.
Now it’s Monday. Rather than grumble I’ll be grateful for a new week to start. I’ll be grateful for the summer weather and flowers that are pretty even through the window. I’ll be grateful that my family is all where they belong and doing well. And I’ll remember to breathe.