A Different Kind of Summer Day

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Sigh. It’s a beautiful August day outside.

The sun it out but it’s not too hot. A slight breeze dries the little bit of sweat that springs up from running around on the green grass. The pavement is warm on my sandaled feet.

I miss having summers off. Three months of ease and joy. I miss those lazy hot August days, like today, in the waning hours before school starts again. It seemed like summer would never end and Autumn was a forever away.

I miss dry Albuquerque days with powerful monsoon rainstorms in the late afternoon.

Splashing in sprinklers. Chasing lizards. Riding my bike.

Then dashing inside where the refrigerated air was like heaven on earth and sipping sun tea while watching Guiding Light with my mom and sister and often my grandmother too.

I think I had angst back then. I’m pretty sure I worried a lot. I at least got a little worked up over the latest machinations of Reva and Josh in that soap opera world.

But I had kid worries too. What would school be like? Why didn’t I have more friends? Why was my hair mousey brown and not blonde? When mom and dad talked about money problems did that mean something bad was going to happen?

I know I had a lot of angst back then, but in hindsight it seems so easy. So effortless.

What is that saying? “Youth is wasted on the young.” For me maybe not wasted but certainly not appreciated.

On this beautiful August day, I sit in my hard walled office with one glass wall and gaze out to the park across the street. Kids run and tumble and shout and scream and seem to be having a really effortlessly fun summer.

And I feel wistful.

I know kids today have their own worries and in a lot of ways it’s harder to be a kid today than it was way back when. But right now I am gazing out the window as I prepare for my next conference call where we’ll blah de blah for an hour about something that seems terribly important but really isn’t. Right now I sort of wish for a swimming pool, a soft serve ice cream cone and the time and desire to lay out on a beach towel and just soak up the sun.

For just a moment to have nothing to do and nowhere to be and nothing to worry about other than when to flip over so I don’t get sunburned.

That’s summer vacation to me.

Ah well. Back to the conference call. My boss is pinging my mobile phone and asking if I am attending.

I’m attending. In body only. The spirit is floating on a hot pink blow up mattress in the muddy waters of Ute Lake.


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This photo is not totally applicable to this post, but I went to my favorite royalty free stock photo site and put “summer” in the search box.

This was the first image that came up and it was too compelling to pass up. So there you have it.







Image by Teresa Howes and used royalty free from stock.xchng



My Country Tis of Thee

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Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.Source


And so it is on this Fourth of July in the year 2012 that I find myself, an American citizen, residing in the land from which our forefathers sought their independence.

236 years ago a bunch of men and women fought to establish a new country, away from the oppression of an overbearing king.

A challenging fight for a worthy goal.

Their victory and the resulting independence is so enduring that two centuries later I can get on an airplane, fly for ten hours, and stand here, on the Thames river, and celebrate my freedom.

It’s both ironic and a little bit alienating.

The drafters of the Declaration could never have imagined.

I’d sing the Star Spangled Banner, but these sodding Brits might remind me that our country’s anthem is set to the tune of a British pub song.

I’d sing “My Country Tis of Thee” but that’s just “God Save the Queen” to this lot.

How about God Bless America? Nah, Kate Smith ruined that one for me.

I suppose what I’ll do to mark the day is simply get up from my bed, go to work (it’s not a holiday here) and do my best. I might even quaff a beer and wish I was at a bbq enjoying a sunny summer day rather than another depressing rainy English day.

And next week when I return home to the shores of California, I’ll carry a small smile.

Because I think to truly understand and appreciate my country, I have to leave it every once in a while.

Happy Independence Day, America! May you all eat too many hot dogs and have an extra bowl of homemade ice cream for me.




The river Thames as seen from the Westminster Bridge



Photo Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the right column of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone4s and the Camera+ app.




You Scream, I Do Something Else Entirely — For Ice Cream

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It’s a blisteringly hot summer day in Albuquerque and mom has hauled her three monkey children to the swimming pool at the Coronado Club (inside of Kirtland Air Force Base) to cool off and work off some energy.

I’ve swam and swam until all my digits are little prunes and then I swim a little bit more for good measure. Exhausted, I finally drag myself out of the pool to lay on the scalding hot concrete and let the sun dry chlorinated water from my arms and legs.

Mom is out in the grassy area surrounding the pool reading a book or chatting with friends. She always finds a lot of folks she knows at the Coronado Club. She’s been coming here since she was just eighteen.

I find my mom and plop into a lawn chair with my beach towel. Starving, I gulp down a sandwich or some cold fried chicken or whatever fun stuff mom has packed into the ice chest.

As the late afternoon sun begins to cast slanted shadows on the ground, if I’m lucky and have been a good kid, I’ll ask my mom for some money and she’ll agree. Cash in hand, I’ll dash to the food stand and procure a soft serve vanilla or chocolate ice cream in a cone.

I’ll bear the thing proudly, like Lady Liberty and her torch, then I’ll savor every last drippy bite.

Ah, summer and ice cream were made for each other.

However, lately, something dark and insidious rumbles inside of me, irrevocably breaking the summer fun and ice cream connection.

Seems I’ve developed a little ol’ thing called lactose intolerance.




It ain’t right. It’s some cosmic comedy, it has to be. Dairy and I are friends from way back. Ok, I can’t stand fluid milk, but sour cream, all manner of cheese, ice cream and half and half in my coffee are what make walking in this mean old world seem tolerable.

The Good Man marvels still at the vast array of dairy products I have in my fridge. I have a whole drawer devoted to cheese! Well, I used to…

Me? Lactose intolerant? It just isn’t even funny. Not one little bit.

I took my concerns to my doctor who nodded thoughtfully and said, “Well, you know, that happens pretty frequently to people over the age of forty. It’s common as we age.”

Great. That makes me feel ever so much better.

I use Lactaid and it helps some. It is, at best, an imperfect solution.

The only real cure is to stop eating dairy entirely.

Well that ain’t gonna happen.

That said, I have cut waaaaay back. And because the universe has a really excellent sense of humor, I also get rumbly tummy from soy milk, the most common substitute.

So far hemp milk and almond milk are my frontrunners for adding to coffee and having an ice cream-like treat.

They are fine, but just…not the same.

“I scream, you scream, we all scream for almond milk iced dessert” just doesn’t have the same ring.

Because we don’t all scream for that.

*sigh*




Image is, of course, The Scream by Edvard Munch, and is used under Fair Use as the image is considered Public Domain in the United States.

This week’s Theme Thursday is: ice cream



Plane Spotting

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Today I have another story from my Costa Rica travels. Forgive me, longtime readers, but I have to get all these stories out and written down.

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While I was visiting San Jose, I had a chance to meet not only with coworkers at my own company, but some fairly high level representatives from local suppliers.

Which is to say, I was treated to some really expensive dinners by some fairly wealthy people by Costa Rican standards.

These were city folks from San Jose. The more advanced and sophisticated type.

In all of those conversations, it always became clear how proud Costa Ricans are of their heritage, and the talk would lead to stories about Costa Rica, both personal and historical.

And multiple times, over a cold glass of Cas, I heard a similar tale.

These business people in expensive suits would laughingly tell me how, on the weekends, people will pile their kids in the car and drive out to the airport. Cars park along the runways, just outside the chain link fence, and Costa Ricans spend the afternoon watching airplanes land and take off.

“They even sell ice cream!” they would say with a shade of embarrassment, and then say “well, it’s mostly the people from Alajuela that watch the planes.”

By the standards of San Jose, Alajuela is seen as farm country and the people from Alajuela are considered bumpkins.

So the implication is that only the rural folks watch planes.

But then, to a person, every time I heard this story, the speaker would finally admit “so, yeah…my dad used to take me out there too. We’d be out there with all of our family and neighbors. I used to love it, it’s a great memory.”

Then they’d also admit they had taken their own kids out to watch planes too.

Because it turns out watching airplanes is really less about being a bumpkin versus being a city sophisticate, and more about the spirit of community. It is families spending time together. It is friends and neighbors taking a break from working hard to simply feel the joy of watching modern airplanes landing and taking off.

“In Mexico, they’ve even built seats like football stands,” one guy told me, as if to say that while Costa Ricans enjoy the show, they don’t make it a permanent thing.

I smiled. Such a simple joy I heard as these stories were told. To me this is a prime example of how Costa Ricans look at life.

They may not have a lot of money.

They may work very hard.

They may have seen a lot of hardship in their lives.

They may have to ride a bus belching diesel for several hours to get to their job.

They may lament too much or too little rain.

But they never forget the simple joy of ice cream and airplanes.

That, my friends, is the heart of the Costa Rican philosophy of pura vida.

And that’s what I take home with me in my heart.

I told my coworker that after a week, I’m a little bit Tico now, too.

I’ll never watch an airplane again without remembering their kindness.




Photo caption by photographer: “Douglas DC-8-63(AF)…San Jose Juan Santamaria International airport”



Image from jetphotos.net

Today’s Theme Thursday is: community



On The Double

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So I’m entirely too late to do a Theme Thursday, but I don’t care. I’m doing it because here, on Sunday, I finally came up with a good idea.

This week’s Theme Thursday word is: Double.

Here we go, a short short story with an ode to the word double.


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So I was feeling kind of hungry and there was nothing good to eat in the house. Trying to calm down the beast of hunger, I chomped through a pack of DoubleMint, but that didn’t help. Exasperated, I put on my doublet and filled my pockets with dubloons and left the house on the double.

I did a double step down the boulevard, looking for a nosh.

Spotting my destination, I fell in to the In-n-Out burger where I satisfied my urge, doing double duty with a Double-Double and a large side of fries.

Well that was pretty darn good, but I was not quite full, and I left that burger joint looking for a little something more.

Right across the street was a Double Rainbow ice cream store where I doubled down on a double scoop of ice creamy goodness and ate it all down.

With all that burger and ice cream in my belly, I was truly in double jeopardy and had to undo the top button on my double knit polyester pants.

Now I wasn’t just full, I was double full, so I decided to keep walking so I could work off a couple calories.

As luck would have it, I rounded a corner and saw a bunch of kids doing double dutch. I hopped right in, jumping to the double rhythm long enough so I got double indemnity from the calories by having both fun and exercise.

To reward my hard work and to finish the day, I popped in a piece of Double Bubble and chewed it hard. I tried to blow good bubbles, but it didn’t work. The gum was stale. I took that pack back to the store and demanded a double my money back guarantee on my purchase.

With my refund, I bought a disposable camera to document my day. But I must have used it wrong, because all the prints came back as double exposures. And I ordered double prints!

Ugh. I don’t got no digital camera (<- double negative) so I guess I'm out of luck. Maybe I oughta go to Vegas where I can drop double nickels and try to hit double diamonds and win the double jackpot. Then I can buy a double lens camera and capture my double good days. Instead, I went home and got into my double bed and had beautiful dreams of riding a double decker bus and drinking double espresso. And that's all I have to say about that.






Image from Harvey Park District.