Monday, August 29, 2016

Summer's End

Packing is in progress. Soon we will be back at the apartment in town and preparing for the next nine months of study.

I spent the last relaxing morning at the beach house watching the birds; chickadees and red-wing blackbirds, ducks and herons, hummingbirds and the kingfisher pair as they announced their presence with their funny machine-gun call all drew my attention. As I sip my coffee and swing on the deck, I drink in the fresh air, the sound of the distant crashing waves, and the gardens where all our hard labor can be seen. We have done so much this summer, but it seemed to go all too fast.

I really want to record a snapshot of life this summer, if for no other reason than my later reading. When I am buried deep in the struggle of Latin and agonizing over researching my capstone, I want to be able to just sit and remember this summer. It has been a memorable one.

Since summer seems to be the season to read, we read. Oh yes…we read! We started the summer with the fabulous book by Ki Longfellow entitled The Secret Magdalene (extremely well-researched historical fiction). This is a must read for anyone who is willing to be challenged with a different perspective on very well-known material. This book quickly became the favorite book of my adulthood and one I will be re-reading for my own pleasure. I immensely enjoyed the virtual experience of stepping into the time period I have studied for so long. It was surprising, stunning, unexpected, and familiar…all at the same time.

Another book that was a fascinating and introspective read was The Path, by Michael Puett and Christine Gross-Loh. I gained a huge amount of insight and knowledge from this brief investigation of Chinese philosophers and their ideas. Excellent writing. I suggest reading it with a good friend so you can bounce thoughts off of each other. So good.

Dan Harris, of television mainstream media fame, has written a book that we totally enjoyed, as well, called 10% Happier. This is a rather light and entertaining read that documents his experience of being an anchor on a major network as well as his journey and practice of meditation. Really fun. And, from this book, we are in the process of reading two mentor-authors he recommended – Mark Epstein (Going to Pieces Without Falling Apart) and Joseph Goldstein (Insight Meditation, The Practice of Freedom). Both are gems, however, I prefer the Goldstein book as it is concise and very chewy, if you know what I mean. The book to get if you really are looking for some mentorship. Epstein’s book has a lot of information and interweaving of psychoanalysis, since that is his specialty, which is a bit more tedious and academic, but informative and definitely worthwhile.

In addition to these selections, we are working our way through a new book by Judith Freeman called The Latter Days. It is written very well and is quite revealing about the culture surrounding the LDS Church. Oh, and I can’t forget the one that has changed my health and lifestyle permanently – The FastDiet. Yeah…it is neither a fast nor a diet, but it is something we adopted immediately. Our health and eating have been altered in such good ways – I highly recommend this book. I strongly believe that whatever method one chooses to lose weight or maintain fitness/health, that level of commitment (or sometimes even greater) has to be maintained in order to keep the weight off or maintain the same level of health. So, if one goes on Weight Watchers to lose weight, they have to stay on that program indefinitely to maintain the weight loss. Or if one works out intensely and drinks meal replacement shakes in order to lose the pounds, that has to be maintained indefinitely in order to stay at that weight. However, if one makes easy changes such as are suggested in The FastDiet, health will improve and weight will come off slowly but steadily without immense effort. Truly. The authors of the book are Dr. Michael Mosley and Mimi Spencer – good writing, good medical information, quick read, straightforward and enjoyable. I kid you not when I say that I have dropped 1-2 pounds a week this summer. Slow and steady wins the race! And, reversing the gaining trend I was in is a good thing. I no longer feel helpless, but empowered!

Enough of that…

For visual stimulation this summer, we absolutely loved watching the BBC production of I, Claudius, in preparation for my Latin studies this coming fall. I can’t say enough good things about Derek Jacobi and the other cast that are featured in this series. So very good. We also watched some Star Wars, of course, and Must Love Dogs, which I didn’t care much for…kinda meh, in my view.
In the midst of all that, we road tripped this summer! We started with a trip to Victoria BC, then added an impromptu vacation in Sun Valley, ID. We loved day tripping to Whidbey Island and Coupeville for the Art Festival, Portland for the Saturday Market, Long Beach for the Kite Festival, Westport for Pirate Days, Centralia for awesome antiquing and (always) shopping, Neah Bay for Makah Days and hiking, and Astoria and the Oregon Coast because it is the most awesome place ever. We also played in our own town festivals - Bikers at the Beach, Sand & Sawdust, Antiques & Collectibles, Beachcombers Fun Fair, and Shoppin’ at the Shore. We listened to Celtic bands at our local Irish pub, rode our bikes until our behinds were sore, kayaked up and down the canal, took long walks through the neighborhood, and filled our pockets with beach treasures from hours of beachcombing.

Closer to home, Chuck build a carport and a greenhouse – both valuable additions to our property. We landscaped and gardened, cooked, cleaned and organized, planned and re-planned. And we relaxed…I know, it doesn’t sound like it, but we did. We planned and created a space for a fire pit, then had s’mores until we were sick! We sat in our hanging deck chairs and then nursed sunburns. We chased deer out of the yard, lamented the moles and bamboo, and watched the ducks teach their young how to navigate the canal. And watched the birds…always watching the birds.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. As I sat with my coffee this morning watching the birds, I could still see snatches of an early morning dream. It was a rather disturbing dream, where a small girl with long blond hair is running along a bridge that covers an abyss. I can see the girl and I am calling to her, but as I watch she slips through the broken slats of the bridge and falls into the abyss and gets swept away. I call to her and try to get help, but I am told that it just is what it is…

School starts next week. I wish I could say that there is not anxiety here, but that would be a lie.
It is what it is. Done is what had to be done. And I am thankful that we were privileged to be together for this summer – myself, my beloved Chuck, my bestie Lisa, and my amazing and funny teenager, Taylor. We really had a good summer.

Happy fall, everyone.