Tag Archives: Energy

The Perfect Summer Day

“The worst summer ever.”

 

This was the topic one day last week in the lunchroom at work. It has rained nearly every day for what seems like forever. (I’m sorry to anyone in California reading this, we would gladly send you a couple of our rain storms if we only could.) According to our local weather geeks, this has been the least sunny June for years, probably decades if I could only remember the specific statistic.

 

Last June actually had more rainfall, but who can remember the difference of a few small fractions of an inch for a whole year?

 

If I were a Supreme Court Justice, I would have had to write the dissenting opinion on the state of this summer. Since I have this blog outlet, I am writing the dissent. (As a legal geek, I am devouring all the press about the decisions that are being handed down.)

 

It helps that, in my opinion, yesterday was the perfect summer day. The temperature was in the mid-70s, there was sun all day, and a light breeze. Ah, bliss. Warm enough for capris and sandals, not too warm to do some weeding in the middle of the afternoon. It would have been the perfect day to have a leisurely lunch on the patio at the restaurant were my son works, but they were light on customers so he actually got to leave work a bit early to enjoy the afternoon.

 

We seem to focus in on the perfect summer day, it doesn’t seem to be as important in winter, spring or fall. Summer is our ideal, the elusive perfect concoction of nice weather and enjoyable activities.

A tiger lily bloom starting its only day of existence

A tiger lily bloom starting its only day of existence

But perfect for one person is too something for someone else. And if every day were at or near perfection, quite soon we would cease to notice at all. It is the scarcity of the perfect summer day that is part of what makes it perfect.

 

Sometimes we miss these wonderful weather moments due to obligations, like work – where as an office worker I am insulated from nature by conditioned air and fluorescent lighting, my back to the window. Sometimes we can enjoy them peripherally, such as with open windows while we complete a long undone task. (I finally finished rehanging the pictures in my living room yesterday, only 4 years after painting the room.)

 

Sometimes we miss them simply through being oblivious. The sameness of our routine – get up, go to work, check things off the to-do list, repeat – makes us forget to note the state of nature around us.

 

The green, growing things are thriving in our cooler, rainy weather pattern. If we take the time to note the way that they are thriving, it might bring a smile.

 

Summer is fleeting. It seemed limitless as a child, and in the glow of memory those recalled days are strung out, one more perfect than the next. Perfect summer days as an adult take more effort, but sometimes it is just the effort to push aside all the obligations and see the trees in the forest.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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Late Winter Trance

It does no good to tell ourselves that this winter has been relatively kind to us in comparison to last winter’s endless freezes and snow.  It is the physical discomfort of the here and now that wears us down.  And, please may it be so, will be easily forgotten once green things start to grow again.  (Hence why women go on to have more babies…)

 

Of course, kinder is relative and based on regions, I do believe that Boston is having a rougher winter, at least in terms of snowfall.  I have friends there and they show plenty of pictures of the snow excess on Facebook.  The snow machine up in the clouds in that area seems to be stuck on over-produce.  I know that snow blankets can feed off themselves to keep temperatures down, but does snow attract more snow?  It certainly seems to this year in that area.

 

We have an ageing snow blanket in my region.  A dusting here and there since our Super Bowl blizzard.  Which means that the snow is wind scoured and compacting as it loses the moisture it originally had.  And it is getting dirtier and cluttered with the flotsam and jetsam of suburban life.  The cars are all salt-crusted, which masks their normal hues.  Yuck.

 

My eyes are so tired of the color scheme – white, off white, dirty white, beige, and filthy black.  It seems to be putting my creative mind into a narrow rut of thought which is as difficult to break as Boston’s rhythm of snow storms.

 

public domain image - what I wish I saw out my window

public domain image – what I wish I saw out my window

I think of things that I could do to help my creativity to spark, but then there is that moment that I can’t seem to get past.  The one when I realize that I will have to bundle up, will have to slog through snow piles, icy spots, or slush to get where I want to go.  Ugh.  My couch, a mug of tea and a book, or Netflix, or some internet surfing will do for entertainment.  It is my late winter trance.  At least I have finally caught up with all 4 previous seasons of Downton Abbey.  And I found a new show on Netflix, Rehab Addict, that gave me some ideas for some updates on my house, when the weather gets better.

 

© 2015 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Caution and Risk

Just the right balance between these two forces seems to be not only the key to survival, but also plays into success.  Cautious people live to tell their tales and to raise a new generation, but they might not have taken enough risk.  Risk takers might have gone a bit too far and checked out early.

 

I just spent some time with a couple of four month old kittens.  Sisters, one just a tad bolder than the other.  Kittens instinctively know that a certain hesitancy around new things is prudent, but they also have a strong need to know – what’s in here, can I fit in there, can I jump high enough, will this hold my weight…

DSC03876

Natural laws and human rules provide some boundaries for their explorations.  A thing just beyond their reach is terribly tempting, conversely after a few minutes with the thing it loses its charm and they are off to the next thing.

 

How do we find that right balance for ourselves?  Thoughts of if only I’d done or not done this or that might mean that we were too cautious or too bold.  But maybe only in hindsight, too.  I bought my house right before the housing crash so I shake my head at the amount of money that – on paper – has disappeared.  But I’ve had the benefit of living in the house for the last nine years and being removed from the townhouse complex where I had previously lived.  So, do I count this in the good or bad category?  Hmmm.

 

Stay or move, keep a job or switch, invest in Microsoft (wish I had) or buy that car which provided mobility (when it wasn’t in the shop).  Get married, have a baby, buy a house, retire now – here or there?  Caution or risk?

 

I’m not sure that I will ever figure out just the right balance, but the consideration is worthy of a few more years of research (also known as living).  When have you been overly cautious or entirely too risky?  Or maybe you have gotten it just right?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Things I did Instead

I have a post that I have been working on for the past couple of days, but it isn’t ready to show yet.  I have other half done posts that aren’t even that close and time says it is up, post time is at hand.  Crap.

 

How many others have sat down to write today’s blog post and noodled on one thing until it petered out, and then fiddled with another until it seemed garbled?  How often have you stared at the screen for a little bit and thought about how you got farther today than yesterday when you didn’t even bother to open up a new post and stare at the screen?

public domain image

public domain image

 

When writing isn’t happening, eventually I stand up and wander about the house and:

  • Clean the tracks on the shower stall and the tracks on the sliding door
  • Water the indoor plants
  • Take inventory of the kitchen and bathroom for a grocery list
  • Pull out the lambswool tool and get rid of cobwebs
  • Go for a walk (and I’m even nice enough to bring my son’s dog along)
  • Collect quotes cut out from various magazines that have appealed to me and put them in the book that I keep for that purpose
  • Go through the pile of mail, flyers and papers that breed on the table
  • Ponder what to make to use up the 2 overripe bananas on the counter
  • Watch Sneakers or other dated, but still entertaining movies
  • Thought about going out to get plants for my 2 hanging baskets but then realized that wouldn’t appear to be writing in the slightest

 

And this is the post that you get today.  What do you get done when you are ‘writing’?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

How Much ‘Summer’ in Summer?

August is upon us and the back-to-school ads have started to appear.  Gardens are about to produce tomatoes and cucumbers galore.  Leaves on trees are looking a bit tired and worn here and there after shining in their green spectrum from early pale to later deep green.  We still have a couple more months to go before the plants all go dormant for the cooler months.

 

I haven’t taken a vacation, or even devoted a whole day to summer activities, but I have vicariously enjoyed those of friends and family on Facebook and in-person telling.  And I have thought about what constitutes a summer moment so that I don’t miss them when they occur.  In early June, I wrote this piece about summer and the importance of noting this season.

 

Summer isn’t just a season, it is an idea – a representation of things to strive for like relaxation and laughter with friends and family.  It is nostalgia in a different form than what the holiday season brings forth.  The sound of children laughing in early evening brings me back to those moments in long ago yards playing tag or chasing fireflies with a group of other kids.  The joy of still being up and out in the dark when we would normally have been tucked into bed.

 

Enjoying the idea of summer in adulthood takes effort, a deliberateness that wasn’t necessary in childhood.  First we have to be conscious that this effort is even required.  Summer was spontaneous in our younger years and we might expect this to continue, we might feel discontent when it does not.

 

For several years in the transition from child to adult, I didn’t think about summer much at all.  Perhaps because I was busy figuring out what being an adult meant for me.  Perhaps because I was doing this figuring out in California, where the seasons are subtle and mostly all have the feel of summer.  It wasn’t until my children were old enough to have a summer break in school, and summers had the same rhythm they had in my childhood that I started to think about what makes summer.

 

Then I was divorced with two boys and a full time job and I had to make sure they had a summer while basically foregoing one for myself.  Or so I thought because I thought of summer as long stretches of unscheduled time to explore and enjoy.

DSC03845

Now summer comes in moments, sips, or bursts.  And I enjoy them.

  • Time on a patio with family or friends
  • The hummingbird that visits the Rose of Sharon in the corner of my yard
  • Watching the tomato plants grow and tomatoes form
  • The firefly that hovered in front of the dog and I on a late evening walk
  • The dragonfly that reluctantly posed for this picture
  • The little boy gleefully whizzing by on his bike
  • The sound of lawn mowers while I still laze in bed on a weekend
  • Thunderstorms clearing the humidity from the air

 

How much summer is in your summer so far?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

Waiting Patiently, Part 1

We decided to try our hands at a bit of vegetable and herb gardening again this year after a several year hiatus.  We just got a few things and put them in pots because I still haven’t settled on a ‘landscape design’ for the back yard.  (There is the one in my dreams that includes a 3 season room/conservatory, a patio, a beautiful new fence and award winning plantings…)  The last time I tried to raise a tomato plant I put it on the west side of the house and it got burnt and spindly and we managed to reap a single tomato from the poor thing before it became compost.

 

I think that I’ve learned a bit since then.  We’ll see if I have learned enough.  Now our tomato plants live on the south side of the house and are currently full of promise – about 18 tomatoes are developing between the two plants.  We also have peppers, mint and oregano.  We had basil, but a random wind burst blew a chair onto it and now it is in the process of dying.

 

We are already realizing that the herb books we possess have gaps – like when and how to harvest.  Perhaps the writer assumes we know this part…  In which case he or she is wrong.

 

I am enamored of the idea of gardening – decorative and produce.  I have a stack of gardening books that I look at and reference periodically, some practical and some fanciful.  Reading about our founding father’s deep interest in gardening, as gentlemen gardeners I realized that is around my level.  I want to talk about it, think about it, enjoy it and just occasionally do the heavy parts.  Plant something here, pull a weed there, rely upon thick layers of mulch to prevent weeds and help retain moisture.  Unfortunately I don’t have the financial resources to pull off this sort of gardening.

 

Watering is a Zen activity that falls happily in my version of gardening.  Some days the plants have to wait patiently while I participate in other activities and interests, though.

DSC03847

Gardening is perfectly suited to the acquisition of knowledge – it is forgiving of novice mistakes if you start slowly and allow for changes in plans.  Gardening is helping me to practice the patience that I have mostly lacked in other parts and earlier stages of my life.

 

You’ll have to excuse me now, I feel the need to go take a tour through the yard.

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

There Will Be Exasperation

I’ve just sat down and gotten comfortable, so of course the dog now wants to go out.  This is exasperating.

 

Picking up one too many things to put back in their proper place, so everything slides and clangs and rolls away on the floor.  This is exasperating.

 

Dropping one of my earrings as I walk out of my room and put them on at the same time because I am already pressed for time.  This is exasperating.

DSC03760

Going just a little too long between meals, trying to do that one more thing when tired, being unable to stretch just that tiny touch more to grab something needed when constrained – these are exasperating.

 

Being unable to retrieve the word that I want, or remember the association that would fit well into a conversation, or find that mosquito that buzzes in my ear when the lights are off and I am just about asleep.  Exasperating.

 

Having someone bring in dirty dishes just as I finish up in the kitchen.  Grrr.  Having the phone ring a couple of minutes before the end of the work day.  REALLY??

 

Vexing, infuriating, aggravating, inflammatory things happen every day, plenty of times per day to rankle each and every one of us.

 

Thankfully there is also laughter and beauty and kindness.  The dog wags her tail and smiles at me when I grumblingly go over to let her out and shortly thereafter let her back in.

 

I don’t have any interest in spending my hours feeling indignant much of the time.  I can remind myself to eat in a timely manner to stave off those blood sugar dips that result in a foul mood.

 

It’s a mind game that I can play better some days than others.  How about you?

 

© 2014 BAReed Writing | Practical Business, All rights reserved

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