Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mother Nature's Having Cold Flashes!

When my wife and I booked our Dominican Republic beach vacation for May, I thought we had really missed the boat on timing. Of course, a beach vacation is wonderful any time of year. But, somehow, running off to the tropics when it seems like you should be hiring a tauntaun just to get to the grocery is so much more exciting than going the very week every lilac bush within a 50-mile radius is blooming lavishly. I mean, who wants to escape lilacs?

To make matters less dramatic still, the day before we left for the D.R., it was hot. Not quite "quick, turn on the AC" hot, yet, but still, hot. Nonetheless, we completely loved our time in the sun and water. We spent our mornings bobbing in the ocean (Jeannene with snorkel equipment) and our afternoons making the circuit of the pool, books in hand, between pauses for handstands and giggling. Sometimes, we dragged one another around the pool by the feet while the other laid back and read. We were profoundly grateful to have an air conditioned hotel room where we could de-sticky-fy when we'd been away from the water too long.

When we came back to Hoth---erm, Michigan---it actually felt like we had leapt nearly directly into summer, even though we'd had reports that it was 32 degrees (yes, fahrenheit) over the weekend. I thought, "Oh, man, just one week of spring and I missed it!"

Monday confirmed my conviction that summer had arrived. While I like to wait until June to turn on the air, I contemplated an early switch flip. I had the windows open all day and the cats were delighted at the breezes, when they came. They spent most of the time flopped on hard, smooth surfaces in an attempt to get cool, though. I positively swooned over the fully leafed-out maple tree all day.

Even better proof that summer had arrived was the emergence of the backyard neighbor kids from their home in swimsuits. Their babysitter, amid much ecstatic dancing and chattering on the part of the kids, hooked up a bright orange sprinkler hose and ran it down the hill toward our yard. The kids were all a-twitter with excitement. I watched with delight as the kids joyfully and exuberantly leapt, spun, and twisted through the sprinkler and landed among the field of tall wishes (in the form of dandelions gone to seed) between our yards. It was splendid!

We went to bed debating whether we should assist the house in cooling itself. We slept with windows flung wide and sheet and light quilt tossed aside. We wrestled off the odd cat who, crazily, thought it was a good idea to sleep fur to skin. I didn't quite pant, but I did wonder if I would ever sleep.

Yesterday morning, though, we awoke with our quilt clutched close and a bedful of chilly kitty cats. The air had turned brisk overnight and socks and a hoodie were required of me on my errands. I left the bedroom windows open while I worked downstairs, but the kitchen door and living room windows remained firmly shut.

When Jeannene returned from work and I popped upstairs before we went to dinner, I felt the frigid bedroom air and knew those windows had to be closed before she got anywhere near the bedroom! I'd re-opened them after my errands so the room wouldn't get hot, which appeared to be a tactical error. It got into the 30s last night. She was still chilly at bedtime, so we returned the down comforter to the bed, tucked a heating pad in with her, and encouraged cat cuddling.

It certainly doesn't seem right that the outdoor pool is opening this weekend, but hey, at least there's no snow!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Spring Revival

May is one of my favorite months (October running right alongside). Everything is fresh and new in May---tiny little leaves beginning to unfurl on trees, green grass growing, baby animals in fields and baby birds in nests, and dandelions starting to pop up on lawns. This seems a good time of year to revive this blog, as well.

I've been busy this week with two main activities. We have a vacation to the Dominican Republic coming up, so I've been preparing for that. Along with information, I've been gathering bug spray, sunscreen, swim shoes, frivolous paperback novels, and other necessary items for beach relaxation.

My other big flurry of activity is working on figuring out how to finance our adoption. While we haven't yet been matched with a woman who wants to create a family plan for her baby, there is, nonetheless, much work to be done. I am looking at some job options, as well as thinking of fundraising ideas. Adoption certainly isn't cheap, but it's well worth the costs.

I also continue to plug away at my writing, this week spending time with the inhabitants of Fox Hollow, Tennessee, a small, fictional community outside Nashville. It's fun (and sometimes alarming) to see where life takes them. Much of my work is done at my kitchen table, with a cat or two basking nearby. They've really been loving the sunshine and open kitchen door.

I've been enjoying the view of the birds who come to graze on our feeders, goldfinches, mourning doves, cardinals, woodpeckers, and sparrows. Either the juncos look different in spring than in winter or they have taken off for parts unknown. Every once in awhile, I'll see a blue jay out there, harassing the other birds.

Also enjoyable beyond the screen door is a glorious green patch of grass. This morning, it was studded with hundreds of dandelions, a wonderful sea of brightness even on rainy days like we had at the start of the week. This morning, when I first ventured downstairs, I was greeted by the sight of our neighbors' tiny little girl playing frisbee with her big brother, who was burdened with a backpack and anticipation of the school bus.

I was disappointed when I saw the mowers arrive. Their first visit this season felled nearly all the dandelions. I know they're considered a weed, but their countenances are so cheery that they register as flowers. Besides this, the bees really need them! So, I hate to see them mowed down. Better that than poisoned, though, for I know they'll return, probably with renewed vigor.

I heard news this week that my 1st & 2nd grade teacher died. She was a wonderful, warm, intelligent woman who truly enjoyed us children. She shepherded us back and forth from our alternative school to the affiliated college for gym and swimming each week. In the warm months, one of my classmates would always insist on stomping the dandelions as we walked. Bev would say, gently and cheerfully (even though she had to repeat it over and over), "Don't step on the sunshine!" Today, I thought, when the mower's engine started, "Don't mow down all the sunshine!" Luckily, there's plenty of the real thing to sustain me until the floral version reappears.