Summertime

It’s the last day of July. We’re well into the “dog days of summer.” The hot, sticky part of summer you either embrace with your suntanned face ready to take on the sunshine or you escape to your cool basement to ride out the heatwave.

I’m the latter. Give me seventy-degree days and air conditioning for anything hotter.

There are sun people. Then there is me.

Though I loved and now miss my summer softball leagues and my days spent at the community pool as a kid, I was always an indoor person, even as a kid who loved being outside for a certain amount of time. Then you could find me in my room listening to my favorite cassettes, which in the late 80’s probably included Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and White Lion, or in front of the TV watching MTV, waiting for the videos of my favorite bands to play.

I can’t think of the summer of ’88 without George Michael’s song, “Monkey”, popping in my head. That video was on auto play every hour on MTV, as well as the radio, which was fine with me because I loved the video and the song.

Though I love summer and all its baseball games and outdoor concerts and barbeques and fests and beaches, I have my limits. As long as it isn’t too crowded or too hot. Maybe that’s how most people feel, but I have friends who think anything less than ninety degrees can’t be considered “summer weather.”

They are insane.

They live to sweat underneath the sun’s rays.  I remember as a teenager when my sister would grab a lawn chair with a towel and lay out in the sun. She loved “laying out.” If you asked her on a summer day what she was gonna do, she’d say, “I’m gonna lay out.”

I found no appeal in it. To just lie underneath the sweltering sun as your skin burned. No thank you. I remember going on spring break trips with friends as a teenager and being amazed at how they could spend hours, every day of the vacation, just melting beneath the summer sun.

I needed to read a book or listen to my headphones to lay out there and once I was bored with that, I was done.

But that’s just me. You do you.

Enjoy your summer.

On a sidenote, thinking about the George Michael song brought to mind a couple other songs that will always make me remember the summer of ’88.

Gloria Estefan’s “1-2-3.” Def Leppard’s “Love Bites.” Richard Marx’s “Hold onto the Nights.”

 

A great summer with amazing music.

Author Carol Browne Visits my Blog

Are Friends Electric? Farewell, Fridge-freezer! From Carol Browne Humans tend to become emotionally attached to inanimate objects. People love their cars, for example. I don’t have a car, but I do have a fridge-freezer. Or rather, I did. It died on me this week, announcing its demise by tripping out all the lights and the other household appliances and sending me into a panic that had me phoning my landlord for help. He sent round an electrician who restored equilibrium to the fuse box and read the fridge-freezer its last rites. I joked with the electrician: “How dare it break down after twenty-eight years of constant service!” He agreed that they don’t make white goods like that anymore. But when he’d gone, I felt a bit sad. I remembered the day I bought that fridge-freezer brand new. I had escaped from a bad marriage and found a place to rent and was filling it with what I needed to start my new life. Things were not destined to go smoothly, however, and there were to be many house moves and relationships ahead. Throughout all those house moves my longest-lasting relationship has been with my fridge-freezer! I sat at the kitchen table and reminisced. All the things I had been through over those twenty-eight years! And that fridge-freezer had stood without complaint in whatever kitchen it found itself in (and for a few years, in a draughty back porch). It moved between houses and bungalows, from the town to the countryside, bumping about in removal vans and trucks. Along the way it lost its pristine-white sheen and gathered fridge magnets like barnacles. Its edges became a little rusty, the shelves cracked and the little light no longer worked when the door was opened. But it steadfastly did its duty, a silent witness to the dramas around it and the passing of time. And sometimes when I woke in the night, its gurgling and purring sounds drifted from the kitchen to my room and reassured me, though I don’t know why. It was just a machine but somehow it had become a friend. I remembered as a child the time before we even had a fridge and how difficult it was for my mother to keep food fresh. The day the first fridge arrived was everyone’s birthday come at once! It had an icebox and that meant ice cream! Nowadays, we take such devices for granted. What a shock it is when they stop working for us. Yes, I had taken that fridge-freezer for granted. It never let me down until this week and I am lost without it until a replacement is delivered. We have been through a lot together and I know I will never see its like again. It will be a wrench to see it loaded onto yet another truck, because this time it won’t be going to another kitchen in another home. This time it will make its final journey when the city council hauls it away to put it out of its misery. Yes, it’s an inanimate object, insensate and soulless and just a hulk made of plastic and metal, but I know that when they take it away, I will be thinking, “Goodbye, old friend. Thanks for everything. It’s been a blast.”

Once upon a time a little girl wrote a poem about a flower. Impressed, her teacher pinned it to the wall and, in doing so, showed the child which path to follow. Over the years poems and stories flowed from her pen like magic from a wizard’s wand. She is much older now, a little wiser too, and she lives in rural Cambridgeshire, where there are many trees to hug. But inside her still is that little girl who loved Nature and discovered the magic of words. She hopes to live happily ever after.

Stay connected with Carol on her website and blog, Facebook, and Twitter. Fantasy author Carol Browne is a published author who is currently seeking an agent.

Those Really were the Days

It is strange when you can think back to only three years ago and struggle to remember with any ease of relation to how life was back then. “Back then.” It is astounding that I am attributing the words “back then” to a life lived only three years ago.

But I am.

Three years isn’t even a full presidential term. Three years doesn’t even get you through high school. Your driver’s license isn’t even expired in three years, yet still, three years feel like the distant past.

At least to me it does.

And I know everyone’s personal perspective on this differs. For most of us, life changed in 2020. We all quarantined from loved ones. Didn’t leave the house unless absolutely necessary. Social lives for most were non-existent.

And then 2021 rolls in and vaccinations and everyone is excited to get back to life. Sports are back. Concerts are back. Restaurants and bars are alive again. I, too, was looking forward to getting back to life.

In March of 2021, I went to a restaurant for just the second time in a year. I spent the day at a riverwalk with my nephew. I was walking amongst people again and was starting to feel normal.

Then symptoms of a muscle disease I have started to rear its ugly head and with it wiped away any semblance or hope of getting back to what I considered “normal” life.

I look at pictures from three years ago and I hardly recognize myself or that life lived just three years ago.

2019.

The last time I went to a concert. The last time I went to the movies. The last time I went to a coffee shop to relax with a cup of coffee and a book. The last time I went to the library, where I’d sit at my favorite desk to work on what I hoped to be a good story. I miss the smell of books. I miss the quietness of a library that forced me to stay focused on those words I wrote. A good portion of my book, “A Penny on the Tracks” was written at my local library.

I miss the change of scenery. I miss getting up and going wherever my mood takes me. I had many different writing destinations, and I miss them all.

My circumstances are different from most people. My health, or lack of, plays a huge part in why life isn’t normal for me. It isn’t just covid. But with covid cases rising again, along with hospital rates, even if I felt better and was able to do everything as I had done before, would I still look back at 2019 as a far-away time?

A life where facemasks weren’t needed to enter medical facilities or grocery stores or banks.

A life where you’d give an odd expression to a person walking past you wearing a facemask because the concept was so foreign to you.

A life where you could impulsively hug a person hello without asking first if they’re okay with hugs because the not-so-distant past had no personal boundaries.

A life where if a person sitting at the table over from you at Starbucks coughs and you hardly notice because it is just a cough. How harmful can a simple cough be?

Oh, those were the days. 2019, I really, really, really miss you.

I fondly remember the time I met a woman at Starbucks. Betsy. She was in her 60’s and had MS. She wanted my seat at the window. She liked sitting by the window. I gave it to her, and she peppered the top of my hand with kisses. At the time I considered that a sweet gesture. She made me smile. Not once did I think about germs and rush to squirt sanitizer on my hands.

Those really were the days.