Searching For Summertime

If you know me at all, you know that I am no fan of winter.  I hate being cold, I’m afraid to drive on icy roads, and as a volunteer dog walker at the local Humane Society, I spend a lot of time outside, even on the coldest of days.  That means I spend most of the winter waiting impatiently for the weather to warm up so I can ditch my scarves, coats, gloves, and most importantly, my long underwear.  So I am getting more than a little cranky about the fact that it is now July 7th, and yet I still don’t feel as if summer has even begun.

DSC03343July in St. Louis is supposed to be hot and humid.  This is the time of year when I am supposed to be wearing capris (they hide more spider veins and cellulite than shorts, which is important at my age), cooling off at a swimming pool, eating dinner on my backyard patio and enjoying the flowering blooms I worked so hard to plant in the spring.  I should be excited about the tomatoes beginning to ripen on my gigantic tomato plants (I have no idea why they get so big) and I should be spending my evenings at outdoor concerts in the park, complaining about the humidity and swatting at mosquitoes, but still happy to be outside.

But instead of a normal St. Louis summer, this year we have gotten mostly cool weather and a whole lot of rain.  We’ve had a couple of days of true summer heat, but the minute I begin to adjust to it, another cold front comes along, bringing a drop in temperatures and more rain.  The flowers I so carefully planted a couple of months ago are in danger of drowning, we’ve had exactly two meals on our patio since Memorial Day and I haven’t gotten to go swimming once.  Admittedly, given what I look like in a swim suit these days, that last one isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  But still, I should at least have the option to go swimming if I want to.  And when I go out for dinner, I usually have to bring along a sweater or light jacket, just in case in stops raining long enough that we might get to sit outside.  A sweater, mind you……in July!

156I know that there are many areas of the country right now suffering from terrible drought, and I truly wish I could send some of our cold and rain their way.  Because I am well and truly tired of it, and I want the summer I spent those cold winter months dreaming of.  I want to go outside in my bare feet; I want to eat produce I have grown myself, I want to enjoy stepping into a cool shower after coming home from the Humane Society hot and sweaty from walking dogs.   Most importantly, I want the chance to grow so tired of the heat and humidity that I am actually glad when fall comes around, even though I know it will be followed by the dreaded winter.  Because face it, I need my summers….they’re what help me get through my winters!

My Middle-Age Bucket List

DSC00171I’ve never been a fan of the idea of having a “bucket list,” mostly because I don’t like the idea of having a set list of goals that I need to reach before I “kick the bucket.”  How am I supposed to know now, in my middle age, everything that I still want to do with my life?  And what am I supposed to do when I finally cross the last item off my list?  Just check myself into the nearest nursing home and wait for death?  I think not.

But I am a natural procrastinator, so I do see the advantages of having some actual goals for the second half of my life, as long as they are appropriately fluid and on-going.  After giving the matter some thought, I finally came up with a bucket list I can live with:

1) Travel somewhere new as often as possible.  It doesn’t have to be far, as there are lots of interesting places I’ve never visited within a two-hour drive from my home, but it does have to be somewhere I’ve never visited before.  Discovering someplace new and wonderful is a joy I’ll never outgrow, and few things match it for making me feel young again.

2) Once a month, do something I haven’t ever done before.  It doesn’t really matter what it it is….just be brave and get out there and try something new.  Not everything will end as badly as my attempt at water-skiing.  (Note to self in case I ever try that again:  keep your feet together when the boat pulls you up out of the water.  Doing the “splits” on a lake is just as painful as it sounds.)

3) Try to make a new friend at least once a year.  I’ve heard people say they don’t want any new friends because they can barely keep up with the ones they have now.  And while I understand that from a time-management aspect, I am not willing to limit myself to the friends I already know, no matter how much I value them.  (And that’s a LOT!)  But some of my favorite people are those I’ve only gotten to know in the past few years, and trust me, they’re worth the time.  When it comes to adding good people to my life, I believe there’s always room for one more.  Always.

4) Never, ever stop thinking of new goals and new ways to make sure the second half of my life is as interesting, fun and meaningful as I can possibly make it.  Because when I’m not willing to do that, then perhaps it really will be time to find that nursing home….

That’s Just Not My Style

One of the distinct advantages of being middle aged is having seen so many trends come and go that I no longer feel the need to follow any of them.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a decorating trend, a new clothing fad, or a new food that all the best chefs are crazy about, I’m not jumping on the bandwagon unless I actually like it.

When I was in younger, I did tend to follow new trends, believing that what was new and wonderful today would stay that way well into the future.  Young people can be very naive that way.  I can remember when I thought white zinfandel was the best wine,  popcorn ceilings were cool, huge floral borders were pretty, and worst of all, that I actually looked good with my hair permed.  (I didn’t…see photo below.)   It’s cringe-worthy now, but at one time it was all very much in style.

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I’m not so easily fooled these days.  Chefs may be putting fried eggs on everything from hamburgers to salads, but that doesn’t mean I have to order them.  I still believe fried eggs are for breakfast, to be served with toast and bacon.  And while I enjoy bacon, I only eat it with the afore-mentioned eggs, in a sandwich, on a pizza,  or occasionally on a cheeseburger (for those times when I want to consume a week’s worth of calories in just one meal.)   Just because it’s become trendy to put bacon in everything from jam to ice cream doesn’t mean it belongs there.  I remember spending hours in the dressing room during my early twenties, trying to stuff my pear-shaped figure into the stylish “boy-cut” jeans.  Now leggings and ultra-tight jeans are in style, but I don’t waste my time trying to find a pair that looks good on my chubby little legs.  Straight-cut is still good enough for me.

I’ve lived long enough to know that I have the right to evaluate each and every new trend that comes down the pike, and to only join in when I want to.  Those of us who are middle-aged remember the avocado-colored appliances, the sunken living rooms and the “flocked” Christmas trees of our youth, so we know that just because something is called new and stylish, it isn’t necessarily in good taste. We’re still free to enjoy the trends we like.  But when a new trend doesn’t suit us, we can just ignore it, knowing that it will be replaced by yet another fad soon enough.  And this time, there won’t be any incriminating photos floating around.