Summer Life Hack

I love a good nap. Summer. winter. Just layer with cats, and let me snooze for an hour. However I need a blanket of some sort on me to really nap well. Summer’s too hot , you say! Who needs a blanket? Let me introduce the “napping sheet.”

I suspect that this is weird, but what’s new.

Birdie is currently in control of the napping sheet because it’s on “her bed” in “her room” when she’s not dominating my bedroom.

Picture this: You’ve been outside half the day being sweaty and fantasizing that the broiling sun works like bacon sizzling in a pan making that fat just drip off of you. You come in for a refreshing shower and the nap vibe kicks in. Maybe get half dressed, maybe don’t. Either way the napping sheet is readily available to lightly encase and protect you as you lose consciousness. (I’m not sure what it’s protecting you from. Ask the people who can’t sleep with any body parts hanging off the bed creating exposure to under the bed monsters to explain the logic.) Napping sheet can also be paired with a book for nodding off while reading.

Basically warm weather hits and I throw a single sheet into the spare bedroom solely for napping purposes. Yes, it gets washed and rotated out with other sheets. I have one sheet that has been washed a billion times and is super soft.

Sometimes Birdie will share the sheet.

You don’t have time for naps, you say? That’s just fuckin’ awful and I feel bad for your situation because a solid nap with a soft sheet and a furry friend is a thing of luxury and beauty at a pretty low price.

Drama at the birdbath

So far this summer, the robin has been the king of the birdbath. Suspension of disbelief: I firmly believe that it is the same robin who shows up multiple times a day and completely loses his mind in the bath. (Meanwhile this freaky sparrow just likes to watch.)

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The robin is the reason I sometimes need to refresh the water a couple times in a day. I was happy to see a cardinal tentatively investigating the bath today in weather that said 94 but “feels like 101.” He went all the way around the edge eyeing the water before sliding in. Meanwhile the robin watched him–jealously?– from the lower birdbath.

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The robin tried to interfere, but the cardinal gave him the same treatment he’s been giving other birds. Bath. For. One.

 

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Cardinal “me time.”

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And a graceful exit much to the robin’s delight.

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Much like the robin, the cardinal wanted another dip and there was a brief standoff.

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Cardinal won.

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I Don’t Know How to Answer That

How was your summer?

I don’t know how to answer that. 

I’ve always hated that line of questioning. How was your weekend? Your break? Your whatever? I’m not completely convinced that anyone really cares how my time was spent. It’s a knee jerk social convention that I am guilty of employing myself. 

The asker just wants the other person to respond with “Good” or “Fine”, or possibly with a short but interesting anecdote. Often the question is a jumping off point for the asker to launch into a story of his or her own. “Oh, well let me tell you what happened to me. You’ll appreciate this!” Chances are good that I won’t, but by all means proceed. 

Much as we may or may not appreciate witty vacation stories, no one REALLY wants to know how it was if it was bad. Unfortunately for others, it is completely within the scope of my personality to stop people in their tracks with exactly how bad it was. 

My beautiful friend died this summer. That’s how it was. 

Yes, I did some fun things and had adventures. I could pull out an amusing anecdote if needed. Heck, I was at the beach with my family for the first time in five years when she passed. I wasn’t there for her alcohol soaked bedside vigil at the hospital with her family, and all our friends and a red wagon full of booze. I could only post photos and memories to the Facebook group from afar, going back as far as possible in my digital archives. So how was my summer?

I hovered around the idea of emailing our school staff and begging them to pinky swear not to ask each other the dreaded question. After all, our friend and colleague’s fight against cancer had been the entire school’s fight for nine months. But my reputation as the person who says the inappropriate thing or the snarky thing stayed my hand. Somehow it would have come across wrong. As school started, inevitably the question was asked even by people who had been directly active in her care. 

So I’ve tried to be a good kid and answer with stories of caterpillars, zip lining, yardsales and the like. But a part of my brain screams about her as I tell those stories. 

Particularly today. Her sister reminded us that it was a year ago today that everything changed. What she had spent most of a year thinking was sciatic nerve pain hobbling her movement, was an insidious creature absorbing her hip bones and building tumors up and down her fragile spine. It was so wretched and evil that doctors wouldn’t be able to identify its source for another six months. 

Running its course, the cancer immobilized her, then teased her and us by letting her build back the strength to walk unassisted again. It took her hair. It took her appetite and stole her taste for favorite foods. She could no longer stand chocolate. That’s a horror story. It played with creating new lesions and growths in different parts of her body just to keep the doctors guessing. For a while it gave her a lazy eye and double vision. And in the end, it sucked up her ability to get enough oxygen on her own, and her dream of seeing her two-year old at Disney. But all through the ridiculous ups and downs, and loss of dignity, she smiled her gigantic Disney princess smile. A smile that had a little bit of the villainess behind it. I couldn’t have loved her as much without a little wickedness being there,and a shrieked “RIGHT!” and cackling laugh in response to my own sarcastic commentary. 

She was a life-long cheerleader, positive but not a Pollyanna. Where I would have been the worst and grumpiest patient, she was gracious to all. She gladly absorbed all the tributes, signs, tshirts, videos, and projects created in the name of keeping her strong; or more likely keeping us strong as we powerlessly watched everything happen. 

There had to be times when she just wanted a private life instead of constant well meant bombardment. Times when she was overwhelmed by the pain and the fear of what was happening. She must have leaned on her mother, sister, and husband’s shoulders in those moments. I only had a few moments like that with her. As always, she worried about other people, not wanting to make them uncomfortable by talking about how she really felt or things like planning her will. She was more often in the role of comforter. 

The first time I visited her after the diagnosis and initial surgery, I cried because all the pain killers made her voice sound strange. Of course, she just kept saying,”I’m sorry. It’s okay.” As if this was her fault. It’s a cliche, but I’ll never feel like I did enough or visited enough or did all that I could for her. But I desperately cling to the idea that she was mine. 

The last time I visited her with a friend, she was groggy and in and out of a very disturbed sleep during the visit, not really aware of us until we were leaving. When I told her I loved her as I kissed her goodbye for the day, she managed to make eye contact and mumble a “love ya” back. 

So that’s how my summer was. 

First Day: Thanks Garden

It’s the first day off no school! (I have a ton of stuff to do and will have to go back in the building, but without students!) I’ve been productively trapped by the gaping window of a delivery time. My seventeen-year-old washer and dryer set – my first big girl job purchase after adopting Bella Luna– was just not functioning like it used to and I finally resigned myself to purchasing a new set.

Workers in the house means packaging up four cats into bedrooms along with water bowls and litter boxes. Seventy-five percent of my population would panic at strangers and noises and could unpredictably decide to dart anywhere. Twenty-five percent of the population is incensed that I have locked him into only one room of HIS house when there are workers to be overseen, and spent the day banging on the bedroom door and clawing at the carpet. He had a litter box, a water bowl, a bed, a window, and his girlfriend, but oooohhhh nooooo.

I spent the pre-delivery down time vacuuming everything which shut my captives up pretty quickly. Vacuums are scary. I even busted out the Bissell and shampooed the carpet! Mostly, this happened because I had to move it out of the laundry room along with a  myriad of other items so the delivery guys could reveal the accumulation of “ick” when they removed the old washer and a dryer.

Things under and behind the washer and dryer:

  • Dust bunnies so big that I had to switch heads on the vacuum.
  • One hair tie
  • Stuff that looked like coffee grounds, but…..IDK
  • One sock
  • One pair of underwear
  • A cardboard toilet paper roll????
  • And, shockingly, only one cat toy. I thought there would be a whole nest of jingle mice.

By the time they left me alone with my new appliances, my productivity was waning and I needed food. A friends homemade hummus plus some goat cheese, with cilantro that re-seeded itself, and an entire salad of a very young onion, lettuce, kale, and spinach from the garden.

I love being able to go foraging!

“Summer tum, summer tum…

sum sum summer tum!”

First official day of summer for me. I still have  a ton of school related things to do, but only one student to deal with. I can hear a wren going nuts outside, I have coffee, I’ve paid the bills, and later I will go make my next move in the war against the groundhog. (Still need to write about that)

In the mean time….

He knows she’s doing something ridiculous behind him. Look at that poor, long suffering expression.

….and there it is.

Summer tum, summer tum….This was adorable until she popped up, grabbed a hunk of Miles’ neck skin, bit down, and ran away.