mid-summer check-in

Around the beginning of the summer, I noticed many bloggers posting their summer “bucket lists.” A rash of such posts, from book bloggers and food bloggers and mommy bloggers and all the sort and sundry in between, seemed to take over my blog reading for about a week, and I found myself really enjoying reading other people’s “to do” lists for summertime. I didn’t find it necessary to create my own list, partly because summer had barely arrived in Pittsburgh and I was still struggling to locate the earliest rhubarb available at the farmer’s market, and partly because I am not an inherent list maker, like many people I know. Ian makes lists all of the time – it’s his way of brain dumping – and then leaves them ignored since, for him, it’s the list-creation process that is important. The follow-through? Not so much. I, on the otherhand, make lists as they pertain to particular goals and tend to keep those lists close to my person until the goal is accomplished. Remodeling the master bedroom requires a list. Summertime does not.

Or so my thinking went in early June when it was still rainy and cool and felt like summer might never show up. Now, suddenly, I find myself smack-dab in the middle of July with approximately half the summer already behind me and I only just got the Adirondack chairs out on the front porch! I haven’t done nearly the number of fun summer activities I thought I would, so it seems like a mid-summer check in and rest of the summer bucket list are in order!

Summertime Activies Already Accomplished

* multiple trips to my neighborhood farmer’s market on Thursday evenings! This was something I really looked forward to taking Grace to last year but last summer her bedtime was too early! This year we attend our neighborhood farmer’s market right after work/school on Thursday evenings, and we both have a ball. Grace likes to point all the doggies and bicylcles (the bicycles in a rather pointed way, since she’s been begging for one for weeks) and I like obtaining as much of our produce from there as possible. It’s been a consistently enjoyable time for both of us, and pasta with green garlic is a revelation.

*Spending time with Grace at my gym’s outdoor pool. We’ve done this twice so far, the first time being vastly more successful than the second. The first visit found Grace enchanted with the waterfall and the pool itself, while during the second visit she thought we were primarily there to “talk to all the peoples.”

*Stay up too late reading great books well into the night – I think summer is my favorite season for reading! Something about the warm evening air coming in through the windows and the length of the days, especially on vacation and weekends. I never really change the content of what I’m reading necessarily – no big move to beach books – it’s more the climate that I find appealing. Of course, I can also read on my porch. My other favorite time to read is basically the entire month of January.

*Use our smoker and our grill frequently – We have prepared some wonderful summer meals so far this year, many with the aid of our favorite cooking appliance – our smoker! Ian is an expert when it comes to smoking meat and we’ve had some outstanding pulled pork and ribs so far. I keep badgering him to tackle smoking chicken wings but right now he is gravitating toward brisket for his next attempt…we’ve also spent time in the kitchen tackling different slaws and potato salads, and we even made fried chicken once. It’s been a fun summer of eating so far!

*Made progress on home renovations – Our progress has really only started to rock and roll this week, but I’ll take it. Our absolutely awful, no-good back yard fence has been torn down and soon will be replaced with a new, six-foot fence, allowing for a cleaner and more private back yard. In no time at all our master bedroom will be repainted and possibly refloored as well, and we have a few more projects up our sleeves yet. This house feels more and more like a reflection of us every day, and I’m very grateful for its sturdiness and grace. Old houses can be hard to update and keep up, but they sure are built to last!

Summer Activities Not Yet Attempted

* Take Grace on a long walk or bike ride and follow it with ice cream – we haven’t been out for ice cream once all summer! This is mostly due to timing…it’s sort of difficult to find the right time to sugar a toddler up! Still, I think she and I would both love this so I really need to find an afternoon to take her for a nature walk and then a leisurely and (of course) messy ice cream cone.

* Go to the beach (hopefully this will be rectified when we head up to Northern Michigan for a week to visit my parents – but the weather in Michigan is often tempermental so I don’t want to get my hopes too high in case we have to scrap the beach.)

* Make a pie from scratch. Last month I was determined to make a strawberry rhubarb pie from scratch but a wide variety of factors have kept me out of the kitchen. There isn’t much better than from-scratch pie with fresh berries, cherries or peaches but I haven’t even made one, yet, let alone multiple! I am determined to rectify this before autumn.

You know, as I’m writing this, I realize I’ve actually had a pretty spectacular summer so far. I was going to include a bullet point about not spending enough time with my friends but then I realized it was patently untrue – Grace and I have had playdates and I’ve had plenty of lunches and brunches and walks with friends – my main lack of summer activity truly seems to be hung up on ice cream and pie and well, that’s just silly. We’ve even been to the zoo and the museum numerous times! I struggle sometimes because I don’t feel Pittsburgh “does” summer as well as Northern Michigan, where I grew up – but that would be a pretty tall order out of anywhere. Ian often argues that my summers were so idyllic growing up that nothing will ever match my memory, and in many ways he is right. But this is the first summer I’ve really embraced being in Pittsburgh and I can easily admit I’ve very much enjoyed it. I think what I’m missing is taking the time to breath, reflect and relish the season, so what I need to put on my list more than anything is a reminder to take the time to breath this summer in, and remember it for all its spectacular, 2013 uniqueness. Maybe I was correct originally – summer doesn’t require list making nearly as much as it requires breath-taking…

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3 thoughts on “mid-summer check-in

  1. Well, being an outdoor worker on the Texas Gulf Coast, I hate and despise summer. Shoot, even some office workers I know hate our summer. Fishermen think it’s ok, except the drought is so bad now the bays are way too salty for the fish. The young ones who think beach volleyball in 100 degree weather is just fine are happy, too. But for most of us – bring us autumn, when we can open a window, walk to our cars without sweat pouring down, go back outside and finally think about a meal that requires the oven.

    Your summer sounds fabulous – around here, it’s all about constriction and exhaustion. Although, I will say the tomato crop has been fabulous – likewise the blackberries, figs and strawberries. The melons are in now, and sweet corn. So that’s all good. Two days ago I saw a little boy playing in a lawn sprinkler, and his mother said when he was done, they were going to have ice cream. 😉

  2. Stefani – thanks! After the winter we had (and you experienced as well, I know) it’s nice to embrace summer!

    Shoreacres – my sister in law lives in Houston so I hear her complain about the summers there regularly! She did say that there have been some unseasonably nice days this year, though. And all of that fresh produce sounds amazing! We had a long winter that bled into spring so our produce has been running behind…

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