Posts Tagged ‘summer’

August Angst

Edvard Munch's "The Scream"

Hello August,

You snuck up on me when I wasn’t looking, August. I was enjoying my summer. You didn’t have to come so early, I haven’t been idle. I’ve read 14 books. I traveled to Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York. I swam in the Atlantic with my boys and some wave-loving harbor seals. I made a lot of Cool Whip pies. I visited with friends and family. I mourned the loss of my dog. So why do you have to come now?

It seems like just yesterday it was June. I’ve barely finished unpacking. I’m just beginning to settle back into our summer routine at home. And now you’re here. Oh, August please just wait another week?

Now that you’re here the search for school supplies begins – the perfect notebook, the cheapest markers, and jumbo sized book socks (whatever happened to brown paper bags?). New clothes and shoes must be bought and arguments over what’s appropriate for school will be fought. Registering for after school activities becomes overwhelming – how to get one child here and one child there? Oh, and I think I missed the deadline for soccer. It’s not my fault – August you came too soon!

My baby’s going to middle school. Can he really be that old already? I remember when he was starting Kindergarten. How have six years flown by? See, August – I’m not ready for you yet.

My classroom has a fresh coat of paint and new carpet. But unless I master wingardium leviosa my enormous book collection will take some time to reshelve. And the games. And the puzzles. And the flash cards (why do I have so many flash cards?). My desk is a mess. I can’t find my markers, but I have to write my students’ names five billion times in perfect Zaner-Bloser print. On felt, clothespins, sentence strips, name cards, envelopes, folders and these cute little dog bone cut-outs. The empty spaces in my plan book haunt me at night.  All because of you August.

I have five different To Do lists and they all seem to grow exponentially. My anxiety is rising. Insomnia hovers over my bed at night. Books and papers completely cover my coffee table. Please August. Just one more week.

I promise I’ll come quietly after that. I’ll welcome you with a smile on my face, a cheery new classroom and freshly sharpened pencils. Pinky swear!


A Kindergarten teacher who truly loves her job but can’t believe how fast time flies


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It is hot.

Oppressively hot.

A hot so heavy and thick you can cut with a knife.

An I can barely breathe outside hot.

 Too hot to even go to the pool.

Let’s go to the bookstore!

Fortunately or unfortunately the only bookstore in town is a Borders. Apparently going out of business means they can no longer afford air conditioning. It was almost as hot in the store as the 100 degrees outside. We didn’t last very long in the over-crowded stuffy store, but we did manage to find some good books.

I started reading Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand last weekend. I haven’t gotten very far. It’s a lovely read and I am enjoying it, but the pace seems slow.

I rarely stop reading a book once I have started unless I truly hate it. There are just too many books out there to read a book I do not enjoy. I don’t have a certain number of pages I will read before deciding. Usually by the third or fourth chapter I am either completely hooked or I will continue even if I don’t love it. On that rare occasion that I really truly can’t stand the book, I will just stop. Sometimes I will, however, pause a book. I want to read the book, I’m just not in the mood for it at that moment. I’ll come back to it in a week or two, maybe even a few months. I’ll read Major Pettigrew sometime in the future. I’m just not ready for it right now.

Summer reading should be quick and easy. Books that draw you in and you’re half way done before you finish your iced coffee. So I found a little light reading for these crazy hot days. I think I’ll start with Return to Sullivans Island since it’s a summertime story. Plus, I’m feeling a little homesick for Nantucket. I know it’s a different island in the Atlantic and that’s what makes the selection even better.



I’m still at my parents house on Bittersweet Lane. So tonight I’ll curl up in the air conditioned bedroom of my childhood and lose myself in books bought at Borders.

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One week every summer

I grew up 45 minutes from New York City. Every summer I bring my boys to visit my parents for a week. We usually venture into the Big Apple at least once during our stay to see a show or visit a museum. It’s just an easy train ride away. Today we saw the Gazillion Bubble Show (cute) and the Harry Potter exhibition (AMAZING). On Monday we are going to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (mostly because I love the book From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler).

These visits into the city always bring up conflicting thoughts. There is the part of me that would love to move back to the east coast and have access to all the wonderful cultural and culinary opportunities in New York City. But unless I lived somewhere in the Village or Brooklyn, I probably wouldn’t take advantage of these opportunities much more than I do now.

Then I think, could I actually live in NYC? I don’t know. I might feel at home immediately and never want to leave (I’d be one of those New Yorkers). Or I might love the excitement at first, but dream wistfully of the country as the novelty wore off. Or I might hate city life at first and grow to love it over time – adapt or die as my mother-in-law says. I guess I will never know. My husband has said he would never move to NYC. So one week every summer will have to suffice.

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Today my boys and I arrived in New York to visit my parents for a week. The weather was hazy, hot, and humid – typical weather for mid-July. We headed up to the pool club for lunch and a swim. As I walked into the women’s dressing area, I was startled by a vision – the ghosts of summers past.

Four tween-age girls sitting on towels eating Italian ices and playing cards – probably Hearts or BS – with their hair slicked back from the pool and skinny awkward limbs tanned from the sun. Laughing. Sharing jokes. Talking about nothing in particular and all important everythings at the same time. We were summer friends. I don’t remember hanging out with them during the school year, but come summer you could find the four of us swimming, playing cards, sharing babysitting jobs, and just being kids. The horribleness of middle school was forgotten during those innocent summer months. Our parents would drop us off at the club – ahhh  the sweet freedom  of no parents, no school, no homework, no peer pressure, no responsibilities. Only pure and simple summer joy.

Summer friendships are so very different from school year friendships. Summer friendships are more a matter of location than anything else – we’re all here together so let’s hang out. During the summer I could be a strong swimmer and great card player instead of the nerdy little girl too shy to raise her hand in class. I had a group of friends in the summertime rather than the single friend I would latch on to during the school year. Making friends was always very hard for me – still is. But somehow I had found these three girlfriends at our pool club.

Eventually summer jobs took the place of those idyllic summers. We’d occasionally see other at the pool on a day off or on a weekend, but it was never the same. I haven’t seen any of these friends since I graduated from high school, but I think of them in the summer when I’m visiting that same pool club from many years ago.

Growing up, my husband spent his summers on Nantucket. There he made lifelong friends and has his own memories of summers past. Every year we spend close to a month on Nantucket with family and friends. Our boys are making their own summer memories. They spend time with lots of cousins and friends – their friends are our friends’ children. They all swim, play cards, find sea creatures, build sandcastles, and walk into town together. They laugh, tell jokes, sing pop songs and retell stories from summers past. The families gather each night at different houses for dinner. We celebrate the Fourth of July with dinner and fireworks on the beach. We go to church fairs. We fish. We sail. The children are all growing up together, forming lifelong bonds and it is wonderful to watch. For eleven months of the year we won’t see these family members or friends since we’re spread out all over the country. But within moments of reuniting, it’s hard to tell so much time had past.

I am truly grateful that my boys have summer friends and memories. My wish is that someday when they have their own kids, they  too will be visited by the ghosts of summers past.

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Ode to Cool Whip II

The big yellow one’s the SUN!  The big yellow one’s the SUN! ~ Brian Regan

Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy. ~ John Denver

Here comes the sun do do do do. ~ John Lennon

Send out your ray of sunshine ~Jason Mraz

La la la la lemon ~ Ernie from Sesame Street

If there is one food on this earth that evokes visions of sunshine and summertime, it is the lemon. Think of sipping iced cold lemonade on the beach on a hot summer day or devouring Italian lemon ices so cold your teeth shiver, but you have to eat it fast or it will melt all over your hand.

I love lemon flavored desserts.  When I was pregnant with my first child I craved broccoli (yeah good for you) and lemon meringue pie!  I had never eaten lemon meringue pie in my entire life before then. Since then lemon has become a favorite choice. I linger over lemon cheesecake.  I long for lemon cake with powdered sugar.  I love homemade lemon bars.  And yes, given the choice between chocolate cake and a lemon dessert, I will always choose the lemon. There is something light and refreshing about a lemon dessert.  Chocolate cake is delicious but can be overwhelming after a rich dinner.

Tonight we are going to our friends’ house for paella (mmmmmm). Again, I’m in charge of dessert. So for my second Ode to Cool Whip dessert I decided to make frozen lemonade pie. It’s light. It’s refreshing. It’s cold.  It’s easy. It’s lemony. It has Cool Whip!

I used about 8 oz of Cool Whip, a little bit more than half of a 12 oz can of frozen lemonade (the other half is for beach bound lemonade), and one 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk.  I blended them together using a hand mixer rather than the electric mixer my mother-in-law has that I swear is an original from 1908!

Next I scooped the lemony goodness into pre-made graham cracker pie shells and squeezed them into the over-packed freezer.  Truly, the only difficult part of making this dessert was trying to find the sweetened condensed milk in the grocery store.  Later I will garnish my pies with twists of fresh lemon, but right now I’m headed to the beach with some lemonade.

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To celebrate my father-in-law’s 79th birthday, my mother-in-law took us out to dinner at the SeaGrille last night. My in-laws both ordered blue fish which is never on my culinary radar. Charlie chose the Fisherman’s Platter because he always goes for the most bang for your buck!

Instead of choosing my usual stuffed shrimp or broiled scallops, I chose something called Free Form Ravioli. The list of ingredients were definitely tempting. I had no idea what Free Form Ravioli would look like, but it intrigued me.

Rather than stuff individual raviolis with ricotta cheese and tiny bits of fish, the chef piled the ingredients on top of each other in one delicious heap. The pasta was cut in rectangular sheets instead of neat little squares pinched together – one sheet at the bottom of the dish and one at the top, not connected. The ricotta cheese, warm, with a sprinkling of herbs, formed the mushy but yummy core. In between the pasta sheets and covering the cheese were huge chunks of lobster, shrimp, and scallops mixed together with mushrooms and tomatoes.  Crispy leak shavings were sprinkled on top adding more flavor and a little crunch to my dinner.

What a brilliant idea – Free Form Ravioli!  I love ravioli, but have always felt that the pasta and the cheese overwhelm anything else one may add – shrimp, lobster, etc. By going beyond the ravioli limits – taking the filling out of the pasta – you can have all of these wonderful flavors mixed together on an equal basis. A bite of pasta, a dab of cheese, a huge chunk of lobster. Mmmmmmmmmm!

Free Form Ravioli serves as a fabulous metaphor for summers on Nantucket. Our days are the same as when we’re home – we eat, we sleep, we cook and we clean. But days on Nantucket are not contained by the mundane in the same way my dinner last night was not contained by small squares of pasta. Summer here is relaxed and full of delights. We stroll through town eating ice cream and stop to converse with a stranger who has a friendly dog. We spend hours on the beach reading, swimming, combing for shells, sea glass and special stones. We linger over our meals with friends and family. We awaken to the sound of the foghorn in the distance. We give our children more leeway – allowing them to walk to town on their own and stock up on sweets at the candy store. We argue and laugh over who found the best treasures at the dump!

Eventually my summer here on Nantucket will end and I will return to the real world.  Instead of bringing home souvenirs maybe I’ll bring home the way I feel – relaxed and taking joy in simple pleasures – and live a little more like Free Form Ravioli…

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