Shade Trees and Air-conditioning

This week I’m back at one of my childhood haunts, my aunt and uncle’s house. I have so many good memories tied up in this place. When I was a kid, I’d spend my summers here. This place and these people were some of the great influences in the story of my life. Now I’m back and I’ve brought my kids with me, and they have learned to appreciate the simplicity of life here as well. You see, there is no t.v. here. No video games. There’s a large redwood deck, green grass, a pond, and an embankment with the large stones left from when the fireplace was built. As a kid, I’d pretend I was climbing mountains, but really I was just climbing on those stones.

The beauty of spending any amount of time away from television and games, especially for a kid, is that you get to develop an imagination. From where I sit, I can see the small copse of trees where years ago I made my kids believe in fairies, and to this day they see moss not as moss, but as fairy carpet. They’ve learned not to ask to see their favorite shows and instead are currently covered in dirt from the same embankment, with the same stones, that I played on so long ago. We’re so far out in the country that dirt is a fashion statement.

When the heat chases us inside, we’ll break out the board games. This is where I learned to play Scrabble and chess. When my brother was here with me, Uno was a daily favorite. As much as I love to play the Wii and the Xbox, I sometimes miss the fun and interaction of Pictionary, Boggle, or Monopoly. I know they made these games in different formats, but you can’t really recreate the fun of a board game without, well, the board. (Honestly, who didn’t love the ominous tapping of the pieces against the board when you were playing Sorry? Oh I knocked you back to home? Sorry!! Not!)

Not only did I enjoy romping outside and playing board games here as a child, but this is where I discovered one of the great joys of my life: reading. I was probably 8 or 9 years old when my aunt gave me a stack of Nancy Drew books (originals! I still have them). My love affair with reading became a lifelong passion, and one that I’ve passed on to my own kids. Amazing what you can do on a long summer day without t.v.!

It warms my heart to know that my kids have discovered they can survive without all the modern distractions. Right now the sounds of the birds and a gentle breeze are enough. As the sun climbs, we’ll seek the respite of a shade tree, and when the heat creeps closer to 100 degrees than a mere 90, there’s always air-conditioning inside, because really all you need to enjoy life in the summer is a little imagination, some sweet tea, a shade tree, and air-conditioning.

Now if you’ll excuse me, the sun has shifted and so shall I. It’s getting mighty hot.



It’s been a while since my last post, and for that I apologize.

I can’t say it’s been for any great purpose calling me away, mostly I just can’t corral my scattered thoughts enough to present a suitably appealing read. I feel like I have to write something insightful about issues that touch most people in their lives or give some well-researched perspective on politics and current events, and that failing that I’ve somehow failed you. In my defense, I’ve started many writing projects, only to have my kids accidentally erase them. I would feel more indignant about that if I had written more than a couple of paragraphs on any one topic, or felt that the subject matter was worthy of getting righteously indignant over its loss.

So today I come to you empty-handed, or empty-headed, take your pick. I have a list of topics sitting in an open window just waiting for a stroke of genius to break through the fog long enough to make a good post of it. On my list currently: heroism (covering humans and animals), funny numbers in statistics, “rights” vs rights, how epa regs have affected mpgs and production (spent my youth visiting my uncle’s garage and fancied myself capable of pulling that one off – jury’s out), and some cryptic note about how elephants never forget…. should have left myself a post-script on that one apparently. Then there was that other list, you know, the one my kids deleted. I think I had even started writing a parody of elections in Middle Earth. Eclectic, possibly interesting, and yet I’ve been completely incapable of taking one, justĀ one, topic and making enough sense of it to feel as if I’ve accomplished something.

Which brings me back to my current predicament: playing Evanessence too loudly while I try to pound out something that resembles a thoughtful post, feeling slightly sick from the decadent chocolate cake and ice cream my mom brought by earlier. That woman is determined that I shall never, ever, lose that 20 lbs that’s been haunting me since baby #3. I’d tell her to stop feeding us, but 3 kids eat a lot and I’m not ashamed to say I like having a little help now and then. Plus her tomato gravy is to die for.

But I digress, which, to be honest is what I’ve been doing for about a month as I leave my blog sitting idly in cyberspace. I can’t help but think that I might be more inclined toward valuable postings if I were beefing up my reader’s appetite with more substance. That’s not to say I read children’s books and the backs of shampoo bottles. No, what I’m talking about is worse. I’ve read news articles voraciously. I’ve read books written by some of the greatest political minds of our time. What I haven’t done is read my Bible, except while at church or when it occurs to me to look up a particular verse. Without the sustenance of God’s word I’ve become more reckless in my life. I’ve been sleeping less, worrying more, drinking more, praying less. All in all I’ve been feeling less like myself. Perhaps I value my writing less because I simply feel less valuable. So I suppose I should see to shoring up my mind with the Good Book and watch how that spills over into everything else. It all feels a bit sandy up there right now, when what I need is something rock solid to build on.

That’s a Bible reference, for those of you who may be wondering. My mind isn’t a total sieve yet.