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“The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last for ever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year – the days when summer is changing into autumn – the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change.” E.B. White. Charlotte’s Web

It’s the end of another summer. Yes, I know that summer doesn’t technically end until September 22, but for me, as a teacher, summer is effectively over. And before anyone says anything about teachers having the whole summer off, blah, blah, blah, let me remind you that we’re working our tails off for ten months out of the year including our “own time”  during evenings, weekends, and holidays, PLUS we attend meetings , college classes, and professional development during the summer, so bugger off about that particular point. There, enough said about it.

I’m not a huge summer fan in terms of weather. I hate hot and humid and I’m an autumn girl through and through, but I enjoy the recovery time from my job.

This summer was incredibly busy, despite being the first summer that I haven’t worked a second job in several years. I think I tried to cram in everything that I’m not able to do during the school year and wore myself out in the process. Here is a sampling of Summer 2018.

  • I was able to let my natural body clock have its way again. I’m naturally a night owl and it felt SO GOOD to just sleep and wake up naturally. If only school started at 10:00.
  • I painted the living room. It really needed it, having been more than ten years since I had painted it last. While I love the finished product, I forgot how draining painting a room can be. At least I don’t have to do it for another ten years and I bought new curtains to boot.
  • Marty and I attended a lot of funeral home visitations and funerals summer, some expected, some not. Either way, it’s a reminder that we only get one shot at this life and I intend to fit in everything I can while I can. That also means staying active and being healthy in both mind and body so that I can do all of the things I want to do before it’s my turn. We said goodbye to some very special people this year. It makes you appreciate loved ones, and your time, all the more. We’re not promised tomorrow.
  • I did some spiritual insight seeking, learning to meditate and to spend time looking within, to be spiritually in tune with myself and with God. I believe we are given spiritual gifts, we just don’t use them like we should. I’d like to get better at that.
  • We went on vacation. See the July post for details about the “Ocean and Dead People Tour”, which was awesome. Anytime I’m near the ocean, I’m happy.
  • Speaking of our vacation, we did a lot more family history research. We’re kind of obsessed, although Marty would argue that I may have an addiction to Ancestry-crack.
  • I published my book, Traveler, as a paperback through Amazon.com and donated a copy to my local library. It was kind of a big deal for me. Check it out.
  • I read books that were not related to school or schoolwork. Heavenly.
  • I wrote. Not as much as I would have liked, but I did write.
  • I took Youngest Child to rehearsals and did hair for his show. High school kids are awesome, and I sincerely mean that.
  • I auditioned for a show and then I went to rehearsals.
  • I made two new adorable kitty friends. They live across the street and come to visit us pretty much every night for pets and treats. I love them.
  • We spent family time together, precious these days. The boys are starting to go off in their own directions and the time when they will only come home to visit is approaching quickly. I treasure our family dinners, the boys’ impromtu baseball and football games in front of the house, the flying Nerf darts, even the insults. I hope their memories of these days will be happy, too.
  • Marty and I went on lots of dates, including finally going to the Detroit Riverwalk for the first time. This is a good married-person thing to do. Often. I highly recommend it.
  • We started watching The Crown. I’m addicted. And Prince Philip is a jerky-jerk.
  • I rode my bike, Lulu, a lot. We didn’t get the theatre bike group going again, I was too busy to commit to a night this summer, but whenever I had to go to the library or somewhere within 3ish miles, I walked or rode Lulu. Good times.
  • Last, but not least, we took Oldest Child back to school today for his last year of college. Middle Child goes back next weekend. The days of us all together are finished until Thanksgiving. (I’m going to make them take a Christmas card picture while they’re home. Shhhhhhh…)

The crickets are singing, the bats are clicking.

Goodbye, Summer, goodbye. See you next June.

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It’s been a long week. Crazy long. I had Monday off, but that didn’t really make a difference. Nothing in my normal schedule had changed much: work from 8:30-4:15, rehearsal from 7:00-whenever, so I was tired, but that’s not why it was long.

Have you ever noticed that bad things happen in clumps? It seems to go that way. This week, it was death.

For those who don’t know me well, I work for a church. Death is a part of the job. When someone passes away, I’m usually the first person that the family speaks with on the phone. The people who have died since I started the job in February have all been people who I didn’t know personally, so while it was a sad thing to make the arrangements, it didn’t affect me in a way that it would if I had known them. That changed last Friday when a dear lady gracefully succumbed to cancer. She had only been diagnosed a few months ago; she went fast and on her own terms. She was a force, a strong and lively personality who touched everyone around her. She will be missed.

This week, I also attended one of the saddest funerals I have ever been to. There were three of us there to bury the ashes: the pastor, my coworker, and me. That’s it. The deceased were a husband and wife with no children and no family close by. I won’t give more details, I didn’t know them and don’t think that they would appreciate me telling all I know, but it made me sad that we were the only ones there to lay them to rest. They should have had someone there who knew and loved them. We did our best, but I still felt like I was intruding on a moment that wasn’t mine.

Another lady, an elderly church member, also passed away this week. I didn’t know her, but it was heart-wrenching to talk with her daughter on the phone. Hearing someone else’s pain makes you appreciate the ones you love.

Our sweet neighborhood cat, Charlie, had to be put down this week. Charlie was an old man, I’m not sure how old, but it was more than 15 years. He was here when we moved in in 2001 and used to bring us “presents”: decapitated chipmunks, bird carcasses, etc. You know, gifts. He had a loving home two doors down with a wonderful family, but made it his business to wander the neighborhood, even walking through our house occasionally to visit. My kids grew up with him, we kept our own stash of kitty treats for him, and we loved him like our own, even when he ate one of the baby sparrows from the nest in our vent. He was the next best thing to having a cat of our own, he felt right at home in our yard. It’s better that he is at rest, he was hurting and sick, the time was right, but he leaves a hole in our hearts in this neighborhood.

And, finally, I found out yesterday morning that my great-aunt had passed away as well. Aunt Alma was a spunky little thing who probably weighed 80 pounds soaking wet. I saw her often when I was little, but until recently, I hadn’t seen her in several years. We had a great catch-up time about a year and a half ago when another great-aunt of mine died and then  we sat with her at my cousin, Kelly’s wedding last summer. Aunt Alma was the last of the old guard, that generation of my grandparents that is embedded in my memory with that Italian side of the family. She was married to my Great-Uncle John,  my grandpa’s brother, and she was an integral part of la famiglia: the family.

Aunt Alma was Italian, the same as Uncle John. They defied my great-grandmother, who had picked out another wife for him. Arranged marriages were common in Sicily, where they were from, but Aunt Alma and Uncle John were having none of it here in the United States. Their successful marriage was long and happy with children and grandchildren to fill their days. Aunt Alma had a good long life, but her death was quick and took us by surprise.

So, tomorrow, Monday, starts a new week. There will be a memorial service and a funeral, not to mention that I have rehearsals and a show opening on Friday night. It will be busy, but hopefully, there will be no deaths. I’ve had about all I can do this week.

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