Kids: Your free-as-a-bird days are numbered …

08-25-16

Sadly, it was back to tropical temps again this morning, and, even though I left fairly early, that sticky humidity made me feel like a wet rag, even before I’d walked a half mile.

The storm last night left its mark on the lawns, and they were still soaking wet, and very lush and green from all the rainfall we’ve received lately. That was good news for me as I didn’t need to dash out into the street to avoid getting soaked every time I encountered a homeowner’s wayward sprinkler.

Out in the street, the songbirds were gleeful in their makeshift birdbaths (a/k/a mud puddles), and, the robins were busy yanking huge worms out of the soggy turf. The air smelled of moist and fragrant pine needles and a few towering spruce trees as well.  There were dew drops hanging perilously from awnings and tree branches, and the slight movement as I passed underneath those branches, caused a wet kerplunk each time a big raindrop splashed onto the top of my head.

On my return trip, I took a different route since I saw cement trucks and a bevy of workers unloading their equipment and already monopolizing the entire street. I passed this sign you see above, and my first thought was “yup – not too much longer now for the kids to enjoy their freedom” … for the public schools anyway.  This week I’ve already seen a few yellow school busses rolling along for the local Catholic schools.  I highly doubt that the public school kids are envious of their Catholic school counter-parts and therefore chomping at the bit for the upcoming school year.  Perhaps they are motivated for the return to school by their new gear and clothing, but,  I’m guessing a snazzy metal lunch box with a cartoon character on it wouldn’t do the trick nowadays .

The clock is ticking away as Summer vacation will soon yield to school daze. By my count, young students have about a fortnight more of days unfettered by alarm clocks, classroom rules and regs, and, most of all – that dreaded homework.

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The pause that refreshes.

08-22-16

Like a cool drink on a hot day, this morning’s almost-feeling-like-sweater-weather was a welcome respite from this Summer’s heat. The weather folks say it has not been this cool since the 4th of July weekend.  It was extremely quiet as I trekked through the neighborhoods … no air conditioners running for a change, with windows and doors thrown open and cool air drifting through homes.  My boss was out today, so his absence, and the cooler weather, made for a delightfully slow stroll and contributed four more miles toward my ultimate goal.  Mother Nature gets an “Atta Girl” for her efforts … so, can we keep this delightful weather, this little pause that refreshes, for a few more days please?

[Image from GDJ at openclipart.org]

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Testing my mettle.

08-20-16

This ongoing heat and humidity has tested my mettle in accomplishing my goal of 500 miles walked by Labor Day, but I vow to keep striding on.

I bolted out of the house early, maybe not at the speed of sound like the fastest human on earth, Usain Bolt, but pretty darn quickly. Heading down Emmons Boulevard, I was happy for the large trees which shaded the way, but then, on the return trip, it started getting  downright uncomfortable.  I wished I would have opted for walking laps at Meijer, but I figured I would just get going through the neighborhoods before it got hot and sticky.  I didn’t get my usual four miles in, but, every bit helps.

Today is the Woodward Dream Cruise and I’m guessing there will be a lot of overheated engines at that event. What metal beauties didn’t wilt and succumb to the hot weather, will soon be hustled home to be lovingly tucked into their respective garages before the raindrops and storms threaten later this afternoon.

Despite its bad rap for the ever-present heat and humidity during this Summer of 2016, the season still has its own special treasures – just look at the beautiful flowers and how these nature-made jewels brighten up this homeowner’s deck and porch.

The rainfall and storms later today are supposed to cool us off for a while – I’m all for that, though, three or four months from now, I’ll be complaining about the cold weather and snow, so then … you have permission to slap me for being a malcontent.

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Half of August is gone already and suddenly September is looming large.

08-18-16

I returned to walking again this morning after a three-day hiatus.  As I headed through the neighborhoods, and then down Emmons Boulevard, I could not believe just how green the lawns have become after the periodic rainfall and those gulley washers we’ve had over the course of the last week.  In fact, if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was Spring.  The grass has become lush again instead of hard and crunchy and it looked like Mother Nature took her green crayon out of the Crayola box and went to town.  Sadly, there is no resurrecting the flowers in the many porch pots and hanging baskets that simply curled up and died weeks ago.

I was at Meijer earlier this week, and saw a sure sign of Fall … no, not the back-to-school supplies that magically appear every year just as soon as the Fourth of July items are tucked away. I mean the colorful garden mums that were lined up like soldiers outside the main entrance, the handy and beautiful replacements for your withered-up flowers and plants.  It’s way too early for Meijer employees to artfully arrange those chrysanthemums and a few colorful gourds onto stacked hay bales, for that would be truly rushing the season.

As I crossed the footbridge, I noticed that even the Ecorse Creek was no longer covered in green scum, but has returned to its original murky-brown color, yet the Creek is still devoid of any ducks or geese. I walked down to the tracks and back and saw no one my entire four-mile trip.  Perhaps a lot of people are travelling, or at their cottages enjoying a last gasp of Summer, knowing that time is ticking before they must get into the grind again, especially if they have kids. Soon the long, yellow school buses will be rolling down the street and those lazy, crazy, hazy days of Summer will be in the rear-view mirror.

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Connecting the dots.

08-14-16

Many hours are spent on this blog reminiscing about days long gone.

When I think back to my youth in Canada, and, how us kids spent our Summer vacation from school, I remember those sunny days well, where each hour was filled having fun with my friends.

We were outdoors from morning ‘til dusk, with the exception of dashing in to eat our respective meals. The rainy days were spent watching Mommy in the kitchen, though, judging from my current culinary skills, I didn’t learn very much.

As toddlers, we splashed in the yellow, two-ring kiddy pool, eventually graduating to the three-ring variety or played every kind of jump rope imaginable.

Most of the kids in our neighborhood were the same age, and, eventually all of us got permission to cross the big street at the end of our subdivision, so we could venture into the as-yet-undeveloped meadows, where a treasure trove of nature items awaited our exploration. We’d go down Sandmere Place as a group, hold hands and cross the street carefully, then we were there … our own little nature nook.  We’d pick buttercups for our moms and suck on sweet clover.  We’d run through the grassy fields, as we frolicked and jumped like young colts, letting the sun lighten our pony-tailed hair ‘til we were nearly towheads, and that same sun put a glow on our bare arms and legs.

In the Spring there were pollywogs to capture in old Red Rose pickle jars, but, by Summer, those pollywogs we missed were now frogs to chase after, and even pick up, if we could catch them.   I don’t recall ever seeing snakes, but there were bugs a’plenty.  I loved chasing butterflies or nudging big fat caterpillars with a stick to get them moving along.  I know I certainly didn’t have the aversion to bugs that I have now, and, in those days they didn’t faze me at all.  Like my pals, I carried a mason jar, with holes poked in the lid, for collecting bugs to take home, much to the chagrin of my mom.

I was just knee high to a grasshopper when I thought nothing about reaching down and grabbing a grasshopper who hung tenaciously onto the long grass blades. I’d cup my hands around it and feel his wings fluttering and legs kicking against my clasped hands as that terrified grasshopper tried desperately to escape imprisonment.  I’d finally set him free, unharmed, but afterward my hands were stained brown with his “tobacco juice”, so I’d run to the creek to swish my hands back and forth in the clear water, so my mom wouldn’t get mad at me for the unladylike practice of holding a grasshopper hostage.

The water was clean and so were our days –it was good fun in the fresh air.

But, fast forward about fifty years … now, I’d no more stick my hand in the Creek than pick up a grasshopper.

Those who follow this blog know my aversion to bugs. This past Spring I suddenly had an infestation of baby ants in the kitchen, which threw me for a loop – in 50 years of living in this house, I never saw a passel of ants before.  Well, ants in the pants were no fun, and, by the time I got a remedy to repel them, i.e. dishes of cornmeal, and invited the ants to dinner, they were gone after a nerve-wracking two weeks.  They never returned.  Whew!

But, now something else lurks within my house – my kitchen specifically. A few weeks ago, I saw a few little beetles flying around.  They were no bigger than a grain of rice, with tiny wings.  I’d see them hovering  nearby out of the corner of my eye while I sat here at the computer.  Sometimes I’d swat them in mid-air with a Kleenex and smash their guts, guaranteeing no return visits.  Then I wouldn’t see any for a few days.

But, those *&^$ bugs left their mark.

Soon, I started getting bug bites on my ankles and lower legs. If I had connected the dots, er bites, it would have looked like a cardiac monitor screen at the E.R.  There were as many as a dozen on each leg, ugly red spots which itched like crazy, but, I didn’t scratch them, lest I cause an infection.  Instead I put my fingers to good use, to Google like crazy, in an effort to find out what they were … and, maybe, if they liked cornmeal, I’d put some out for them.  The flea bite images seemed to match my spots, but I don’t have a dog or cat, and canaries don’t have fleas.  Well, back to the drawing board.

I spent hours researching those pesky pests and finally gave up on it. I figure they are some weirdo bugs with a foot fetish that feast on the only patches of skin that are bare, since I wear Capri-length pants while I am working here at the kitchen table all day, and, of course, I can see if they land on my arms.  Michael Phelps isn’t the only one with unusual spots on his body, but, now his are faded, but mine are not, and, if the bug bites weren’t bad enough, one of the little buggers caused a blister on my ankle.  A big blister.  That blister has morphed into the size of a silver dollar and is an inch high.

So, believe me, if I didn’t like bugs before, I like them even less now.

As we near the end of August, along come the dreaded, near-invisible spider webs stretching into thin air, across driveways, around bushes and over doors. As the days grow shorter and we creep toward Fall, the incidences are more frequent, and, it is especially worrisome (to me anyway) on those gray and foggy morns.  Many times I’ve walked out in the morning and a web will settle onto me in a sticky cloak, and, then I must wave my hands madly in the air, to bat it as far away as possible.  I also hate going out in the backyard, and watching those gargantuan garden spiders, suspended on thick, but intricate, webs, with their striped bodies fat from a season of gobbling every insect within reach.  Ugh!

In the aftermath of four rainfalls yesterday, as I walked down Emmons Boulevard this morning, it was muggy and buggy as well. I walked right into a web … it was wide and stretched across the entire sidewalk and hooked onto a big tree branch.  I may not have seen it, but I surely felt it.  If someone would have passed me on the sidewalk, I would have cried out “quick … check me out, are there any spiders crawling in my hair, or on my face?”  But, it was Sunday morning, after all, and the neighborhoods were quiet.

I made that four miles in less time than usual, eager to get home and look in the mirror, and hoping a pregnant bug of any kind didn’t hitch onto my britches.

Why didn’t God leave the bugs behind when he was loading up the ark?

Today’s blog post photo of the grasshopper comes from my friend Leslie Wallace. She always has her phone/camera handy where she walks amongst the flora and fauna and frogs (and bugs) without fear.

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Island Girl.

08-11-16

The tropical-like temps are lingering longer than I’d like, and, with the sun beating down and a “real feel” of 90 degrees as early as 6:00 a.m., Southeast Michigan feels more like an exotic island locale.

Yup, that’s a wicked hot sun, Mun.

All that is missing are the palm trees, a sandy beach and a gentle island breeze.

I scurried out the door this morning, intending to have a full walk, but halfway through, I was already feeling the effects of the steamy and sultry day, so I cut my walk short and hurried home to the air-conditioned house and a tall glass of ice-cold chocolate milk.

Yesterday, I threw in the towel, forsaking the Boulevard for the grocery store aisles. The car needed a run, and I figured that rather than driving around aimlessly, then walking in the heat, I might as well take the car to Meijer and walk laps there.

On this Throwback Thursday, with weather with an island-like feel, I’m sharing a photo of me in the San Blas Islands of Panama, circa October 1982. This locale was one of the ports of call during a two-week Panama Canal cruise on Sitmar Lines’ “S.S. Fairsea”.  It was a hot and steamy day, much like today, when we visited one of the islands that are just east of Panama.  The ship’s photographer took this picture of me near the main village.  You see the house on stilts in the background, but most of the Kuna Indians live in villages in grass huts.  We arrived on the island early in the morning, which was a good thing, as by 10:00 a.m. the intense heat and humidity had my makeup melted right off my face.  I sure wished I could trade those jeans and top I was wearing for “molas”, the colorful island garb consisting of a blouse and skirt, both created and worn by the Kuna Indian women that inhabit that island.  In an album, currently buried at the bottom of my closet, I have photos of their colorful clothing, headwear and jewelry, but, if you’re interested to get a flavor of the San Blas Islands, just Google “Images of Kuna Indians Mola”.

“Less is more” might be the best way to dress during this weather. Today, this Island Girl came home drenched in sweat just wearing lightweight capris and a short-sleeved seersucker top.

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Oh, those Dog Days of Summer …

08-09-16

The muggies are back.

Bigtime.

Grrrrrr.

Weather wise, it was great the past few days, and, I was sorry to see those cooler temps (if the low 80s could be considered “cool”) have disappeared. “Get set to sweat” again was the dire prediction on the early weather report.  Indeed!

There are only two more days ‘til those doggone “Dog Days of Summer” are done … astronomically-wise, that is. Calendar wise, Summer is not out of here yet.

I also heard on the radio this morning that today is the 222nd day of the year. That numbers combo might be significant enough to buy a Lotto ticket if you’re into numerology, and 222 reinforces in my mind that 2016 is speeding by, though I don’t need the calendar, or to consult the Almanac, to know this fact.  The past week or so, once I turn the corner to walk East down Emmons Boulevard, suddenly the sun is staring me right in the face, blinding me with the glare.  Recently, the angle of the morning sun has changed dramatically at the time of my daily trek.

This morning, as I sidestepped to yield to other walkers alongside their canine companions, it seemed each of us humans were wiping our respective brows, and the pooches were panting. It seemed like a good time to remark that it ain’t a fit night, er morn, out for man nor beast.

[Image by Sevenpixx on Pixabay]

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