As a child-free person who is also not a teacher, summers just don’t do it for me. In fact, I’ll confess to having a pretty rough name for the time between mid-June and Labor Day. “The S*it Time.” In my world at least, it’s just hot and stagnant. Mosquitos the size of helicopters and this year, bonus millipedes in my bathroom like in a horror movie! My clients are on summer hours so my work slows, which is both good and bad. Shorts are necessary and also unflattering.
I come by my summer distaste honestly, as proven by this 80s-era photo of my grandpa relaxing on the beach in jeans, boots and a cowboy hat, next to my dad in a bathing suit and lace-up tennis shoes. Neither side of my family ever knew what to do with a beach.
I feel my year is divided up this way:
The S*it Time.
And yes, it is partially defined by what’s on the "special section” shelf at Target. Since I don’t have a pool or much of a yard, summer stuff is wasted on me.
But Pumpkin Time is almost upon us! And thus the world begins anew.
Isn’t it funny how we all have our individual ways of keeping time? I mean, obviously there’s the universal calendar and time system, religious calendars, cultural differences in marking time and celebrating milestones. But even beyond that - I know that my Valenti(me)s might be what someone else struggles with and just has to power through toward Summer Time, when they can buy new pool noodles and really live it up! The rough word that I use for summer definitely applies to other seasons for other people. It’s versatile!
This summer has gone fast and for me, that’s a good thing. The millipedes were recently beaten back by an exterminator and (I like to think) a healthy fear of my vacuum cleaner, and have since stayed in the yard where they belong. We traveled a lot, and visited with friends and family more than we usually have the opportunity to. We were able to make a special Texas barbecue delivery from Texas to Arkansas to bring joy to a dear friend who is very ill, which was bittersweet but also wonderful. (Driving four hours with a car full of delicious-smelling barbecue that we couldn’t eat yet was also bittersweet but wonderful.)
When we do something fun, James says “See, it’s not the s*it time! This is a great time!” He’s an optimist. I’m not sure if I’m all the way to his “half-full” way of seeing things. I am who I am. But I will concede that any time is what you make of it.
(Sorry for all the bleeped words!)
On the blog, I demonstrated a printing technique using Gelli plates, which has been really cool. They can be used for stand-alone prints, to embellish with other materials, or even to produce and reuse as part of a larger collage piece.
I also added to the Pine Curtain Stories serial, this time about cemeteries, the circle of life, and discovering music that seemed to encompass it all in the context that we were in.
How I Spent My Summer Vacation:
Here are some highlights of things I saw, experienced and read this season. Maybe you will enjoy them too!
We visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas. It was our third time to visit, and we still haven’t seen its entire permanent collection, and it has great traveling exhibits as well. And the permanent collection and sculpture gardens are free! I saw many families with children enjoying the space, and Arkansas is a pretty reasonable place to visit and get around. (No plane tickets needed from Texas, and reasonable hotels in the area.)
In New York, we saw two wonderful gallery exhibitions, Lorna Simpson at Hauser and Wirth, and Jonas Wood at Gagosian. We made a decision to get more comfortable visiting galleries, which can feel more intimidating than museums or other art spaces. But nobody made us feel out of place, and we were exposed to many artists that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Artists want eyes on their work. Go to galleries if something there interests you, for your own inspiration or just to see. The art we saw was way outside our budget. But that’s okay; you don’t have to own the art to love it.
“Dior: From Paris to the World” at the Dallas Museum of Art. If you know me at all, you know my first love is fashion. (I say as I write this in pajama bottoms and one of James’s old promotional product t-shirts.) This exhibition was awe inspiring. The clothes were exquisite, and the museum paired vignettes with art from its permanent collection. This is a traveling exhibition, so while it’s leaving Dallas soon, perhaps it will come back to Texas at some point or somewhere close to you.
Like many other people, we blew through Stranger Things in a day. It’s how we spent our July 4. Did you know that Baskin Robbins did a Stranger Things ice cream tie in? We found “Mind Flayer Mint” at Target and it was delicious (and our minds are still intact. I think.)
Billions. If we didn’t have to work for a living, we probably would have finished the entire series in a week. As it is, we stayed up way too late and ignored much of our other responsibilities and finished it in about three weeks. I regret nothing. The show also includes a lot of real people and places, which was fun to research. If someone hasn’t put together a Billions tour of NYC, they should.
Derry Girls is like if the Pine Curtain Stories were set in Ireland during The Troubles (1990s). I see so much of myself and my friends in these young ladies. It is so funny, and it’s a “clean” show that promotes friendship and family, with just a little edge, so I’d recommend it for mature teenagers as well.
We are watching Four Weddings and a Funeral now, and it’s pretty cute. I could watch it with the sound turned off and be perfectly happy because I just love anything that Mindy Kaling influences, especially in terms of clothing and set design. This is one I watch and Google for outfit info at the same time. (While James sits beside me and Googles cheap flights to London. We experience aspirational TV in different ways.)
2018 was “The Summer of Scam” and now the tell-all books are starting to publish. “My Friend Anna” by Rachel DeLoache Williams was the first one I read, and it was perfection. On one hand, I don’t really understand how she got away with it, but on the other hand, maybe she really was just that good (or bad.) The book made it seem so easy to get swept up in Anna Delvey’s lifestyle and lose control of the situation.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I also read “Maid” by Stephanie Land, a non-fiction account of a young, single mother trying to navigate the system and make ends meet for herself and her child. It was eye-opening in many ways, and frustrating in many ways. I wish we could do better for people like her, and hope that one day we will.
2019 has some scams as well, as seen in this New York Magazine article about a professor who was caught up in a romance scheme. (I start to feel really sorry for him, but then remember he had a wife and child who were victimized by his actions, too.)
I read this poem after the White Supremacist shootings in El Paso and Dayton. It is so hard to find words after these acts are perpetrated. (I specifically didn’t use the phrase “these things happen, because they don’t just happen.) Wendell Berry, as always, gets it right and speaks for many of us in his poem Questionnaire.
Quote of the Month:
“And remember, also," added the Princess of Sweet Rhyme, "that many places you would like to see are just off the map and many things you want to know are just out of sight or a little beyond your reach. But someday you'll reach them all, for what you learn today, for no reason at all, will help you discover all the wonderful secrets of tomorrow.”
― Norton Juster, “The Phantom Tollbooth”
Soundrack Selections - Songs on repeat this month.
The song of Summer 2019 for me:
I like the narrative and catchy beat of this one:
I am usually not an Ed Sheeran fan at all but this one gets to the heartstrings”
Awesome song by an underrated band. Video’s a little weird, but what wasn’t weird in 1983?
More 80s Excellence:
Enjoy the what’s left of the summer, and I’ll be back to connect in the Pumpkin Time! As always, thank you for caring about the goings-on in my world. As a reminder, I’m not on Facebook, so connect with me on Instagram or just respond to this email if you want to say Hi and let me know what’s going on in your world.