Friday week in review

A Friday Haiku

First day of Autumn

Someone needs to tell Summer

Ninety-five? Really?

Edited to Add: Milwaukee reached 95 degrees Fahrenheit today. Broke the 1937 record of 92 degrees Fahrenheit.

Here we go, Brewers, here we go!

Only 10 games left and the Milwaukee Brewers are still in the thick of the National League playoff race, despite losing two crucial games that would have tied them with Denver for the final Wild Card berth and brought them a game closer to the Cubs.

Win or lose, if they make the playoffs or don’t, this is already one of the Brewers’ most exciting seasons.

For one thing, no one expected this (except us true blue fans). Every so-called experts predicted the Brew Crew would be cellar dwellars, battling it out with Cincinnati for last place. After all, they had that fire sale, getting rid of all their star players, except for Ryan Braun, and filled their roster with farm club no-names. The Brewers were essentially fielding a Triple-A team, or so the experts claimed.

Did the Brewers even see the script for this season? It’s doubtul because they immediately surprised everyone by jumping into first place in their division from the very beginning and didn’t let up until the All-Star Break. Not only that, they led the league in home runs, RBI, and several other stats. For a time, they were the best team in baseball.

In other words, this lowly small-town team of Triple-A ballplayers dared to disrespect the World Series Champion Chicago Cubs as well as the perennial playoff contending St. Louis Cardinals by beating the pants off of them.

And here we are, on the final lap of the baseball season and the Brewers are still in the thick of it. Second place in the division and still within reach of a Wild Card.

True fans couldn’t be happier and even if they miss the post-season, we can’t complain. They did more than exceed expectations, they knocked them out of the park. They’re a very young team and as they’ve shown, very talented with a lot of heart. They have fun and are just plain fun to watch.

Brewers tear off Erik Thames’ shirt to celebrate his walk off home run against San Diego in June 16, 2017.

This season was all about team-building and gaining valuable experience, especially on how to deal with the intense pressure of a playoff race.

Whatever the outcome of the season is, this team is no longer is a bunch of no-names. In a short time, everyone now knows Domingo Santana, Zach Davies, Eric Thames, Travis Shaw, Josh Hader, Corey Knebbel, Manny Pina (Lucroy who?), Orlando Arcia, nerd boy Eric Sogard, Keon Broxton, Brett Phillips with his 80-grade arm and they’ve put the rest of the league on notice. These guys are going to be contenders for many seasons yet to come.

It’s a great time to be a Brewers fan.

Weigh-In Friday

I’m up again by a couple pounds. Sometimes a little cheating is fine, but losing track of how much you cheated isn’t. It’s like trying to keep a mental tally of your finances instead of writing it down in a ledger, then veing surprised when you get an overdraft notice from the bank. “I could have sworn we had more money!” Our minds like to play tricks on us.

I take some solace in the fact that despite gaining weight, my fat percentage still went down and my muscle percentage went up.

The never ending edits

You’ve heard of the Never Ending Story? Well, I’m trapped in the never ending edits.

I would have hoped I was past the creation stage and well into the pokishing stage of my manuscript, but that isn’t the case.

As my editor side goes through my story to correct flaws in tense, fix passive sentences, and so on, my writer side is also going, “Hey! I have a great idea to add here! How about if…”

And it isn’t just one or two scenes the writer side is considering. It’s every crucial scene. New ideas for dialog, for subplots, and setting as well. Some minor, some major. Not edits, but actual rewrites.

Shut up, writer side, you aren’t helping.

Worse, now I’m worried I might have fallen down the research rabbit hole, that never ending time suck where you go to verify one thing only to have that topic lead to another topic and another and another. None related to what you started out researching, but all addictingly interesting enough to draw you in and hold you there. A prisoner to your own desire for more knowledge.

Help me.

The GOP wants to kill us

There is a lot of buzz going on about how scary the recent release of the remake of Stephen King’s It is. But there’s something even scarier on Capital Hill. It’s a two-headed monster called Graham-Cassidy and it wants to kill us all.

Millions will lose their health insurance. Many due to pre-existing conditions (which they say are covered but they really aren’t), necause the bill has no guarantees they can get coverage.

States that accepted Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, would lose their funding, but more importantly and scarier, there will be complete changes to how Medicaid is funded to all states. This is the GOP saying “Fuck you” to the elderly and disabled.

This is the worst of the Trumpcare repeal and replace bills yet!

Call your Congressperson. Complain. Give them an earful that we’re tired of their conservative bullshit. Save the ACA.

Unless you want to die.

TheRump wants to kill us too

If there is one thing this week has shown, it’s how much of a divide exists between the deplorables and the rest of the world.

The great orange turd addressed the United Nations in his own inimitable style. In other words, he appalled all civilized people everywhere with his ignorant and bellicose rhetoric, threatening to destroy another nation.

But not everyone was shocked or appalled by TheRump’s insane patter. On the contrary, my Twitter feed exploded with praise for King Cheeto. “It’s about time we had a real President who stands up for Murica!” They want him to destroy a nation. Any nation. Do they look different from us? Speak some funny language other than English? Kill ’em! Kill ’em all! They think going to war should always be our first option in negotiations. Diplomacy is for wimps.

It should come as no surprise the trumpettes admired his angry posturing, his childish namecalling, his chest pounding and threat displays and saw them as something to be proud of. And that’s why Hillary appropriately named them deplorables.

Currently reading

Last night I was digging through my To-Be-Read pile of books and came across “Weird Tales: The Magazine That Never Dies,” an anthology of short fiction that had appeared in that magazine over the years, edited by Marvin Kaye. I picked it up and started reading and couldn’t put it down. I’ve always enjoyed pulp fiction and Weird Tales had some of the best by some of the great writers of the day, like Ray Bradbury, H. G. Wells, Fritz Lieber, August Derleth, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert Bloch, Tanith Lee, H. P. Lovecraft, and Richard Matheson to name a few.

I leave you with a song

For your listening pleasure, a song with which to start your weekend and also to ring in Autumn.

So fell Autumn rain, washed away all my pain, I feel brighter somehow, lighter somehow to breathe once again

So fell Autumn rain, washed my sorrows away, with the sunset behibd somehow I find the dreams are to stay

So fell autumn rain

From “So Fell Autumn Rain” by Lake of Tears

-30-

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Cat scratch fever

“Those who’ll play with cats must expect to be scratched.” — Miguel de Cervantes

Our white cat was limping and when she sat, she’d favor her right front paw by holding it up. We checked to see what was wrong and found that her index finger nail (for lack of a better term) had grown so long, it was cutting into the digital pad or toe on her paw, causing a bleeding laceration.

After running to the store for a clipper, we attempted to trim it. She wasn’t having any of it. She was fine until I had to retract her claw, which only caused more pain, then she’d become a little demon, biting and clawing us.

To be honest, I didn’t want to pay someone to do something I should be able to do, so I did a little online research. All the how-tos on claw clipping said the same thing: start when they are very young so they get used to it. Great. Our cat is 9. That window of opportunity closed long ago.

A sidebar here:

We’ve never trimmed the nails on any of the cats. And I only trim our Jack Russell’s nails, because he’s a metrosexual and likes being pampered, but our dalmatian won’t let me touch his oaws ever since I tried trimming his and cut the quick (that vein in their claw). He took off whining and howling like he was being murdered and left the house looking like a gory scene from a slaughter flick.

We have experience trimming our ferrets’ claws, but here’s the thing: you grab a ferret by the scruff of the neck and they go completely limp, offering no resistence whatsoever.

Cats aren’t like that. They resist. Factor in that our white cat was a rescue cat, who had been abused. When we brought her home, all she did was moan and yowl all the time while hiding under our bed.

That’s why she’s named Moana Lisa.

It took several weeks before she began to roam the house (I’m not even sure if she ate or relieved herself during that time). She was still one angry bitch and she’d hiss at anything that came near her. Our poor dalmatian always got swiped at by her and to this day avoids her.

She didn’t come near any of us and when she was in her tower, she’d hiss, and moan, and try to claw and bite us if we came near, much less attempted to pet her.

In order to get her used to us, I forced my affections upon her. I figure it was like exposure treatment used to treat phobias. I flooded her with stimuli, in this case, me. For months, my hands and arms were clawed and scratched. But it worked, sort of.

One day, months, maybe even a year later, she actually climbed into our lap and purred. That is, until we tried to pet her. Then she was all hissing and angry and like, “How dare you touch me!” She then jumped off and hissed at anything that moved as she slunk away.

We’ve had Moana for four years now and it’s taken all that time to earn her trust, still on her own terms. She climbs in our laps, cuddles and purrs, and let’s us pet her, if only for a few moments, then she’s like, “That’s enough,” and off she goes. At least she isn’t hissing and moaning and biting any longer.

Another thing about Moana is she’s always had one or two claws that don’t fully retract. Not sure which ones, but when she walks, they click on the floor, which makes it sound like she is wearing high heels. That’s part of why we call her a diva.

Now you have a better understanding of what we were up against in attempting to clip her. She still doesn’t like being picked up or held and we had to do that and more to clip that wayward nail.

Finally, I had an idea. Leather work gloves! Brilliant!

My wife held Moana by the scruff of the neck and used a work glove to hold her hind legs. I wore a work glove on the hand that grasped her injured paw.

As soon as I pressed on the pad to expose the nail she became a white hot ball of scratching claws and biting teeth.

Good thing the work gloves were thick enough. Still, with her struggling like a demon, clipping the nail wasn’t going to be a precision job. I didn’t have the luxury of looking for the quick. I just dove in and snipped, hoping for the best.

Success! And I didn’t cut the vein.

Before releasing her, I applied a small amount of A&D Ointment to the wound on her pad, which she promptly licked off.

She still limps a little, but the pad appears to be healing. And now we know what to do if it happens again.

-30-

Friday roundup

A Friday Haiku

It’s time to party

But we can’t since hackers stole

All of our info!

Equifax fux us over

By now, you’ve heard that back in July Equifax, one of three national credit bureaus that contain all our information, was hacked.

Approximately 143 million people could be affected. Information such as your name, Social Security number, date of birth, address, and driver’s license number could now be in the hands of unscrupulous cybercrimals.

In addition, 209,000 people could have had their credit card numbers exposed.

This is a data breach disaster of epic proportions. This makes hacks of Target, Wendy’s, Starbucks, TJ Maxx, Sony Playstation Network seem like peanuts.

Hacks like this beg the question, why do these credit bureaus exist? I mean other than to make our lives miserable when we try to buy a car. Why are they allowed to have access to, no, have control of all our information?

Didn’t anyone think it was a bad idea to have one company, or even three companies, in control of every person’s personal identifying information?

And why was this info stored where Internet hackers can access it? Shouldn’t it be on a stand alone system inaccessible to any outside snoopers?

And where is the outrage from Congress? Had this been the IRS that was hacked exposing 143 million Americans, the Republicans would have been all over them like flies on shit.

There would be Congressional hearings and investigations. Shouts of outrage at the IRS’s incompetence safeguarding American’s data. They’d grill the IRS Commissioner for weeks. They’d subpoena agency emails and records. Conservatives would be screaming for heads to roll and that the agency should be done away with once and for all.

Instead … silence. Why? Because Equifax is one of their buddy corporations who help the rich get richer by denying the poor and downtrodden credit.

This is our identities that were stolen and no one seems to give a damn. Everyone treats it like this is the new normal and we shouldn’t be surprised.

Well, I’m not just surprised by their lackadaisical attitude about guarding this information, I’m mad as Hell they had access to it in the first place.

Who wants to bet the Koch brothers info wasn’t affected by the hack? They probably keep the 1-percenters’ info secure on a separate gilded server accessible only to servants wearing tuxedos and white gloves with snooty attitudes.

Once again, a giant corporation fucks us over and no one cares.

Update: It looks like several Equifax executives sold their stock in Equifax before the hacking was made public. Scumbag bastards!

To find out if you were affected by the hack

Go to www.equifaxsecurity2017.com and click on the Potential Impact box at the bottom.

If you were affected, then they’ll give you a date when you can come back to sign up for a free year of credit monitoring.

Good luck.

Amwriting

Yes. I’m still dilgently at work editing the first draft of my urban fantasy fairy tale novel. And yes, I’m still finding it enjoyable.

As I read through it this first time, I’m getting excited because I still think it’s really quite good. Which is a strange reaction for me. Usually, I’m my own worst critic and I’m usually judgemental to the point that I start questioning the story’s worth and my own self-worth as a writer.

That isn’t happening this time. Should I be worried?

Why I still treadmill

For a while there, June and July, I was running outside. I’d get up early, greet the sun, and go for my run.

But now, darkness greets me, so I don’t morning run, I run as soon as I get home from work.

And I run on my treadmill. But why, you ask. Didn’t you tell us a while back that you found running outside more interesting than running on a treadmill? That the treadmill runs seemed to drag on forever?

Yes. Yes, I did. But running on the treadmill is so much more convenient and the weather is always the same. I don’t have to worry about the cold or the heat or rain or eventually, the snow.

Plus, and this will seem a little anal or OCD, I don’t like getting my running shoes dirty.

There. I said it. Running on the treadmill keeps my shoes looking pristine, as if I had just bought them. And I like that.

Running outside, my shoes would pick up mud, dirt, bug guts, and all sorts of icky god knows what kind of gunk. Yuck.

No thanks. I can deal with that on my everyday walkers, but not my running shoes.

Weird, right? But there it is.

Running and rowing

Anyway, I’m back to running a little over a mile a day (I admit I had a few bad weeks there trying to adjust my schedule and remotivate myself), except for the occasional rest day. Instead of increasing my distance, I’m gradually increasing the incline. I’m up to 5%, which doesn’t sound like much, but I can feel it in my hammies and glutes.

Then, after I run the mile, I immediately jump on my Cardiofit and row for several more minutes.

This keeps my heartrate up while working different muscle groups.

We’ll see if it makes a difference.

Weigh-In Friday

I made a decision on my diuretic. Last Friday, I weighed 204 pounds. Up from the previous Friday, but down from that Wednesday.

Well, on Saturday, I weighed myself and I had ballooned up to 208!

C’mon! It had taken me nearly two years to drop 30 pounds. I wasn’t about to put up with my weight going up and down like a yo-yo because of how much water I was retaining depending on how much salt I consumed.

My scale shouldn’t be like a roulette wheel where I wonder what weight it will stop on each time I step on it.

Therefore, I went back on the diuretic.

Today my weight is down to 200.7 pounds. Nearly what it was before I started monkeying around with my hypertension meds.

I’m back on track with my weight loss goal. No more experiments.

A Haiku about TheRump

He thinks he’s our king,

And we’re his loving subjects;

Fuck you, you orange turd.

And In Closing

For those in the path of Irma, stay safe. You’re in our thoughts. As are the people in Texas still trying to recover from Harvey.

For the rest of you, I hope ya’ll have a great weekend, even if some pimply-faced teenager in Russia is maxing out your credit thanks to Equifax.

Here’s a song to leave you with:

Enjoy.

-30-

That reminds me

An interesting characteristic of our brain is associative memories.

It is throwback Thursday, after all.

I’m refering to the brain’s ability to connect two completely different items or concepts.

Music, for example, has very powerful associative properties. For many of us, hearing a certain song will awaken certain memories, some happy, some sad.

Many songs will remind us of a time in our past when we first heard the song, say a childhood event, or a year in school.

Some songs give us a vague feeling, such as “Sugar, Sugar,” by The Archies gives me a general happy feeling about my chikdhood, whereas others are more specific. When I hear “Snoopy vs. The Red Baron,” I’m back in the Cub Scouts with my friends taking a train down to the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry. Some parent had brought an AM radio along and we’d sing to somenof the Top 40 hits.

Another example is, I used to listen to Black Sabbath’s first album while a teenager reading sword and sorcery tales, particularly the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard.

Now, when I listen to Black Sabbath, a feeling comes over me, a mood, if you will, that is similar to reexperiencing the awe and wonder I had back then reading those stories.

So intense is this mood that now I’ll play their music when I’m writing, hoping to capture some of that magic in my own story.

Smells also provide strong associative memories. Maybe a whiff of a certain cologne or perfume will bring back memories of someone out of our past.

Sometimes the association will surprise us because it was unexpected.

For instance, the reason for this rather bland post is because I was making coffee and enjoying the aroma of the freshly ground coffee.

Now I’ve been around the smell of coffee my whole life. There are many decades worth of memories associated with it that I could have recalled.

I could have remembered my time in the Navy, where coffee was figuratively our life’s blood. We drank it nonstop from the moment we awoke until we fell asleep. Our index fingers nearly atrophied into a permanent crook from holding our coffee cups.

On the other hand, because I do drink it regularly, the pleasant scent of coffee doesn’t always trigger any specific memories, it just puts me into a good mood.

Today I was surprised when the coffee scent triggered a memory of my childhood. I was taken back to my parents’ house before they were divorced. Back when I thought my childhood was happy.

Both my parents had coffee in the morning, so our house would fill up with the odor as it was being brewed in an old aluminum electric purculator in our kitchen.

It was similar to the old perculators they’d show in the Maxwell House coffee commercials, like this one:

I remembered that my dad, who, because he drank a lot of coffee, smelled of it. Many people remember the scent of their dad’s calogne. Me, I remember that he smelled like coffee.

My mom had made breakfast and ee were eating at the kitchen table, while my dog, Thor, lay just outside the kitchen doorway watching us. He wasn’t allowed in the kitchen and he stayed obediently on the other side until we came out.

It was an odd associative memory and I thought I’d share.

Have you had any associative memories lately that surprised you?

-30-

Adventures in ADHD – Impulsivity

One characteristic people suffering with ADHD have is impulsivity. We are impulsive! We do things first, then think about it. We don’t consider the consequences of our actions beforehand. In other words, we leap before we look.

We don’t need no stinking beer. We have ADHD!

Long before the phrase, “Dude, hold my beer” came into the vernacular, those of us with ADHD said, “Watch this.” We don’t need alcohol to deaden our self-preservation center. We were born this way.

My childhood was rife with examples of impulsivity, of “Watch this.”

Friend: Bet you can’t jump off the garage roof.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen anyone do a lawn belly flop before.

Friend: Bet you can’t climb to the top of that tree.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! Good thing that big branch stopped you.

Friend: Look at this minibike I made. Wanna try it?

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I forgot to mention it has a high center of gravity and you can’t turn at high speeds.

Friend: Go kick that cat off of our baseball field.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! I’ve never seen a cat that mad, clinging to a person’s leg before. That’s a lot of blood.

Friend: Our dogs are fighting! We’ve got to stop them. Go grab yours.

Me: Watch this. *screams*

Friend: Dude! That’s a pretty deep hole in your wrist.

Anyway, I could go on.

And on.

And on.

But you get the point, impulsivity sucks.

It is also expensive. I become suddenly interested in something, a hobby, or what have you. I read everything there is about it. Join tons of forums so I can talk about my interest with others. And I spend money.

Then I lose interest. And again, impulsivity kicks in and I purge my life of that interest because, of course, “I’ll never be interested in this again.”

My most famous and regretable “I’ll never” was when I threw out all my Silver and Bronze Age comic books when we were moving. I had Captain America #100 through 150. I had Conan the Barbarian #1 through 35. And others. All in the trash. “I’m in my 40s. I don’t need these. I’m not interested in comics any more.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah. You guessed it. Over the last decade or so I’ve been buying them back on eBay.

A more recent example, but not nearly as costly, was an interest in drawing. I went out and bought some drawing books and several types of drawing pencils. I worked for several months learning how to draw. I could draw a realistic human eye like nobody’s business. I’d like to show some samples, but I purged all my drawings from that period. (Somewhere I have a blog post featuring drawings from high school, if you care to look. Found it.)

Then I lost interest (or found a shiney new interest). After a few years of not drawing, I finally got rid of the books several months ago. I mean, it had been years, right? “I’ll never want to learn how to draw again.”

Me: *screams*

Yeah… Who’d have guessed? I mean, really? I went searching my bookshelves for the drawing books, then realized, oh, yeah. I got rid of them.

Today, I wisely went to the library to check out a couple beginner books on drawing. At least I’m not spending money.

Yes, impulsivity is the reason I’m a jack of all trades, master of none. I learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, about an interest, but I lose in it before I can master it.

By the way, if you play guitar, I’m thinking of selling my 2008 Gretsch Duo Jet in silver flake. I mean, I haven’t touched it in two years, right? “I’ll never play guitar again.”

Future Me: *screams*

-30-

Bob Vila I ain’t

I think I mentioned a year, maybe two, ago that I found this cool, old stool someone had set out by the trash.

My goal at the time was to refinish it. Sand it down smooth and repaint it, maybe a glossy piano black or even a bright sun shiney yellow. Then I’d have a stool for practising guitar.

The stool, before I started working on it


I thought I’d bring you up-to-date on how that project is going.

It ain’t.

I’m still in the taking off the paint stage. In fact, most of the sanding I did was well over a year ago.

Just on the seat. 

That’s it. Granted, its one smooth seat, sure, but it took me several weekends of sanding to get it that way.

I still have to do the legs. 

When I found it, the stool looked like whoever had it last kept painting and repainting it. I’d say it had a several layers of paint on it about the thickness of 3 maybe 4 credit cards. 

That’s a lot of hard sanding and I didn’t have a sander. I was doing it by hand. Now we have a sander, which I have yet to use, but even with that, the legs are round. The sander is flat and rectangular.

To speed up the process, I tried paint remover. The first stuff I bought didn’t remove shit. I don’t know if I didn’t follow the directions properly, but it didn’t even make the paint soft. I mean, if I wiped it with a rag, the rag showed a smear of paint on it, but the stool itself didn’t look like anything had happened. Sanding proved faster.

So I bought some heavy duty paint remover by Goof Off. I sprayed it on. Let it sit for a bit, then used a plastic puddy knife like the instructions said. The paint had turned to a gooey paste. I’d scrap along the legs, wipe the goo off on a rag, but a flat puddy knife on a round surface cleans off just a tiny strip about a quarter of an inch wide, if that, while pushing the rest of the goo around the leg, kind of like how a snow plow cleans one area but leaves a wake of snow piled up on either side. I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere.

Mr. Impatient, that’s me. I thought there had to be a faster way to remove the goo. So I took the rag and tried to wipe it off.

That not only didn’t work — the rag became sort of glued to the wood as I attempted to wipe the goo away. So I used more force, gripping the rag in tightly in my hand and trying to rub up and down to get the legs clean. No go. The rag kept getting stuck to the wood and my hand kept slipping off. (And yes, if you’re wondering, I was wearing nitrile gloves. I do have some sense.) At this point, I’m getting angry, frustrated, and annoyed.

And guess what? The paint remover not only softened the paint, I soon discovered it was melting the nitrile gloves I was using as well! And because I’m not the most coordinated, nor as stated above the most patient, I started rushing the job oit of frustration, no longer paying attention to where I was touching.

I then realized this paint thinner not only melts nitrile gloves, but it BURNS LIKE HELL when you get it on your skin!

The burning oobleck was getting on my hands where the gloves melted; it had gotten on my forearms and wrists where I’d brushed against the stool because I wasn’t paying attention; the oobleck was even on one knee.

Did I mention it BURNED LIKE HELL? Well, it did. So I had to run into the house several times during this procedure to wash the oobleck off my burning flesh. I also went through several pairs of nitrile gloves. I started to feel lime the Incredible Melting Man

Later, I checked the labels. The Goof Off said to use chemical-resistant gloves and the nitrile gloves did not mention that they were chemical-resistant. Great. I’m surprised that it didn’t melt any holes in my nylon-blend shorts.

At that point, I gave up. 

I took the stool into the alley and hosed it down. Well, if you’re wondering, that didn’t do anything except deactivate the Goof Off. I had been hoping it would rinse off the paint like the first, inadequate, paint remover was supposed to do. It didn’t. It just left a hardened mass of paint and oobleck.

So I’m essentially back to square one. I still need to sand the legs, although now that the paint is bubblied and rough maybe I could take heavy duty steel wool to it to essentially scrap off the paint.

As you can see, I’m working in the dark here. I wasn’t raised by do-it-yourselfers and if there was a Mister (or Ms.) Fixit gene in our family it completely missed me, so I have no clue what I’m doing. 

Anyone have any suggestions? Maybe a paint remover that actually does rinse away?

I thought by refinishing this stool, I’d save money on buying one to use for practising guitar. I’m not sure I’m saving anything at this point. Least of all my sanity.

How does everyone else make this stuff look so easy?

-30-

Summer solstice

It’s June 21st, the summer solstice, also known as midsummer. 

As a child, June 21st meant summer vacation was well underway and there was still the rest of June, plus all of July and August before school started up again in September.

That was an eternity.

I have vivid memories of my childhood doing all these wonderful things with my friends, riding our bikes across town to play in the Menomonee River, going to the nearby park to play on the swings, teeter-totters, or play a game of hide-and-go-seek or sandot baseball, climb trees, or throw a frisbee. Going to summer camp or on family vacations to the Wisconsin Dells or down to visit relatives in Kansas. These events seemed to last forever, yet in reality, took place over a few short weeks during summer vacation.

Now, as an adult, I see June 21st as a signal that summer is in full swing. I regard Memorial Day as the unofficial start of summer (compared to the meteorological start of summer). There are still three full months to come of decent warm weather, July, August, and September, in which to go to the beach, or enjoy one or more of the many festivals Milwaukee is known for. We just had Pride Fest, Polish Fest, and the Lakefront Festival of the Arts.

Yet to come is Summerfest, the world’s biggest musical festival, Germanfest, Italianfest, Mexicanfest, Africanfest, Wisconsin State Fair, Feast with the Beasts at the Milwaukee County Zoo, and Indian Summer, to name a few and not including every church festival that we have several of nearly every weekend throughout the summer.

Then, on the other hand, there’s the part of me that suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (S.A.D.) and that part of me sees June 21st as the beginning of the end of the long days of Sun light. To quote Shakespeare from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, “The true beginning of our end.”

Yesterday and today are the longest days of the year, giving off life sustaining and mood enhancing Vitamin D enriched Sun light.

After today, the days grown shorter, the lush greenery outside begins to fade, and before I know it, nature is hibernating again, the days are gloomy and cloud covered, and I’m in a funk struggling to keep alert and active.

But that’s months away. Let’s focus instead on how beautiful and alive the world is today, June 21st. The trees are spreading their branches, showing off their emerald glory. The sunshine is warm upon our upturned faces. The days are filled with the sounds of singing birds and the nights with chirping crickets.

It’s grilling season. Enjoy the smell of charcoal briquettes and the sound of sizzling meat as you enjoy a cold drink and celebrate the summer solstice.

It is midsummer, a major holiday in Finland, a time for family and friends. As the Finns say, “Go peaceful or go party.”

Today, is the best day of the year. All full of hope and beauty and life.

Get out and enjoy it.

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