Moving Summer Along

Hello, hello!

It’s been awhile, eh?

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo this summer.

I’m jumping back in with a summer roundup, even though the first day of autumn in California is still weeks away. Part of me is willing it to be October, with cooler temps and that special crackle in the air. I’m emotionally done with summer, 2018.

On a national level, it feels like we’re on a reverse journey to the 1950s, and not in a good way. I wake up feeling a little off-center, wondering what fresh hell the US president has unleashed. It wears on me.

hazy skies in San Jose

Hazy skies in San Jose

To add to the summer gloom, California’s wildfire season started early, with dozens of wildfires up and down the state. The Mendocino Complex Fire in Northern California is now the largest in California history.

Setting aside any of the absurdities you may have heard from a certain someone’s ill-advised Tweet, California has one of the most sophisticated fire-fighting agencies in the world. That said, here is what CAL FIRE has been up against. According to the Los Angeles Times,

Across California, the nighttime brought little relief, recording the highest minimum temperature statewide of any month since 1895, rising to 64.9.

California has been getting hotter for some time, but July was in a league of its own. The intense heat fueled fires across the state, from San Diego County to Redding, that have burned more than 1,000 homes and killed eight. It brought heat waves that overwhelmed electrical systems, leaving swaths of Los Angeles without power.

I check the nearby hills for fire activity every morning. Everyone is on edge, knowing that rainfall in this state won’t arrive till late October.

Graduating high school

On the home front, I’m mentally and emotionally preparing myself for my youngest son’s first year away at university. We’ll be dropping him off at college in Southern California in ten short days. Part of me is ready to get the initial separation over with. It’s time to pull off the mommy Band-Aid and let the tears fall where they may. The fine print of parenthood is that one day they really do leave home. Sure, sure, you know that on an intellectual level. It is still a bit of a stunner when they actually do. The part of raising them is over, but the emotional attachment lasts a life time.

Having said all that, I know that my 18-year-old son is bright, capable, kind and engaged. He is also socially astute. He’s ready to leave the nest and I know he’ll soar. I’m taking extra tissue with me anyway.

Lifted Spirits Boutique

Lifted Spirits Boutique

The bright spot this summer has been spending time volunteering at Lifted Spirits, a drop-in program for homeless women in San Jose. My organizing business slowed down at the start of the summer, freeing up time to spend with this wonderful organization. In addition to volunteering in the women’s clothing “boutique” for a couple of shifts a week,  I’ve been reorganizing the front office, the kitchen, the staff room and the boutique. My own spirits lift when I spend time there serving others. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well. I feel a tremendous camaraderie with my fellow volunteers and all who serve the homeless men and women in our community.

growing pumpkins

Pumpkin Crop, 2018

My beautiful garden hums along. The tomatoes are ripening slowly, but they’re delicious as we pluck them from the vine. The self-seeded pumpkin vines have produced five pumpkins so far. Two are small, about the size of a cantaloupe with two more suitable for carving. I had one pumpkin fully ripen, then almost immediately soften. More seeds for next year’s garden I guess.  Most of my pots are now planted with succulents. Unlike me, they tolerate hot, dry conditions. I learned a trick to better watering, too. I place ice cubes on the soil’s surface and let them melt, slowly watering the plants. This way I don’t have any runoff, since the plants dry out between watering. It’s working well.

There you have it.

What’s happening in your world this summer/winter of 2018?

58 thoughts on “Moving Summer Along

  1. Yes. Flying back from SFO to San Diego yesterday was disorienting. It seem like an alien nightscape. I couldn’t identify any landmarks and everything was covered by this red purple glow of haze that looked so unhealthy and awful, but strangely beautiful. Surreal. Like another planet. This is what is happening to our state. This is what is happening to our world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cindy, I’ve been thinking of you and your daughter. I hope the twins have made a safe journey into the world and that you’re cuddling them close to your heart.

      I will be flying in the other direction next week, so I will be interested to see the view from above. I think they’re getting a handle, finally, on the Mendocino Complex fire. What a trying summer it’s been.


  2. Lifted Spirits is a great initiative from what I read on their page. Is special training required to volunteer? (not that I could from across the pond, sadly)
    Lovely garden.
    Saddening and worrying news every day 😦 Hopefully history runs in circles and we hit a better place at some point soon. But we must not give up the fight and I think participating in social projects is a way to bring about some positive change.
    All the best with your next chapter in a parent’s life 🙂
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Judith! Thanks for leaving a comment. There is no special training for Lifted Spirits, but the more I volunteer there, the more I wish I had a bit of training on the best way to work with a challenging and diverse population. My work as an organizer has taught me patience and good listening skills, so often that’s what’s needed most.

      They say history happens in cycles. I just never thought it would revert in such a way in my lifetime. When we elected Obama I really had hope for the first time. Now it seems that everything he stood for and worked hard to achieve is being dismantled by a man-child. It’s all too much.

      Thanks for your well wishes on parenting 2.0. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Good luck with seeing off your boy. I was unexpectedly overcome with tears when seeing my eldest off at the airport and kept dissolving into them at unexpected moments over the next few weeks. Stupid things like shopping at the supermarket and reaching for her favourite product and then remembering she didn’t live with us any more. The weirdest thing to get used to – I found – was the change between worrying if she was late home and not knowing where she was anyway so not being able to worry. If you get my drift. She was, and is, fine of course but we’ll worry about them until we’re not here to do it anymore won’t we?
    What a great place to volunteer – plenty of organising to do which will keep your skills honed over the quieter Summer period.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lynn, that’s it in a nutshell, eh? We’ll worry about them for a lifetime. When my eldest left for college I felt a sense of dread and angst. When he came home for the first time, it felt…strange. There was some sort of shift that is hard to describe. He’s heading back in September for his senior year at uni. With my younger son, he’s the second and last at home. He’s also an hour’s flight away or several hours by car.

      I’ve really enjoyed my time at Lifted Spirits, working with the women and also organizing parts of the boutique. It’s been fun, challenging, and engaging.


  4. The drop-in programme looks like a wonderful initiative. I am glad you are happy volunteering there. All the best to your youngest son on his new adventure. Do cry a little but be proud and happy that he is ready to fly. Hugs.


  5. It’s great to have you back blogging again, but your time away has been well spent. Lifted Spirits is so lucky to have you!

    I’m willing October to be here too; it’s so hot and humid here that I don’t even poke my nose out of the house if I don’t have to!

    It’s seems like your political ‘absurdities’ have spread here like a contagion. Now we have ‘Trump North’; our province recently voted in a buffoon of our own in the form of Doug Ford. Instead of tackling real issues, he’s encouraging our beer companies to lower their prices to sell and promote ‘buck-a-beer’. Perhaps he plans to get us so drunk that we won’t notice his next brilliant move.

    Best of luck seeing your son off to university 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you, Sara! That’s so nice of you to say.

      I’m sorry to hear that you’re dealing with hot and humid. The humidity makes it so much worse. Do you struggle with mosquitoes, too?

      Of course, you and I love Halloween so that’s another reason to look forward to autumn.

      I’m really sorry to hear your province has elected “Trump North”. I hate to think his vile ways are contagious. Is Doug Ford related to the former Toronto mayor, or am I confusing him with someone else. My condolences either way.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I was just saying to my husband that I want autumn . . . now! Cool, crisp air and maybe some good news from the mid-term elections. The fires out your way are absolutely terrifying and those poor firefighters! The photo of your son is cute–he looks ready for anything and I bet you’ll adjust very well, after the initial shock wears off. Having your organizing business and the volunteer work will keep you feeling fulfilled!


    • That’s it exactly, Kerry: cool, crisp air and some happy news from the mid-terms. We’re in countdown mode now: we leave for Chapman on Saturday.

      One of the treats I’ve been looking forward to after my son heads to college, is claiming space in our home office for crafting. I use my desk or the kitchen counter for everything, and when I sew with my machine I have to set it up on a table in our living room. Both of my boys had a desk in the same room (picture four IKEA desks, one in each corner of a 12 x 14 room. When my eldest left for college, my younger son just spread out! I’m excited to have a larger, dedicated crafting area for the first time.

      Those firefighters are true heroes. They’re selfless, hardworking, brave and skilled. I can’t imagine a day in their shoes.


  7. Some of our fireys have flown out to join your guys. It’s more hands to the pumps at your end, and good refresher training for our guys in the lead up to the fire season Down Under. The Dry is drawing to a close down here, and we’re bracing for the start of storm season and the lightning-fires it brings.


      • It seems to me that every year the natural disasters become more extreme, by which I mean fires out of control, not their point of origin. Also floods, tornadoes, cyclones, volcano eruptions, landslips and sinkholes. Whatever next…?


  8. Beautifully said, as usual, dear Alys. Thank you for your work at Lifted Spirits . . . the clothes closet looks beautiful, as I am sure the kitchen, office, etc. are thanks to your gifts of talent. Such a nice place for women to come and choose things with dignity. You are a blessing to many. I am proud to call you “friend.”

    I will be thinking of you in a special way as you and Mike drop off Chris in So Cal in a couple of weeks. Reading your words brings me right back to Tucson in 2003 as we were moving Jessica into the dorms at U of A in the Arizona heat. Nothing prepares us for this day when our grown children are ready to spread their wings and leave the nest. It is a time of mixed emotions . . . tissues are a good idea. Plus, talking to other parents in the same boat and your friends who remember these days so well. You have raised two wonderful young men.

    Thank you for setting the record straight regarding the California firefighters and their valiant work to get ahold of and fight the many fires in our state, debunking the ridiculous tweets from T. The deplorable words/actions that continue to come from that man are disheartening. I have to choose to look at all the positive things good people are doing to change things in our community, our state, and at the national level. It gives me hope and helps me not feel so overwhelmed with our current admin. Speaking out and encouraging everyone to vote is huge.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Tami, thank you so much for taking the time to leave this heartfelt comment. I really appreciate it. These milestones are inevitable and unavoidable. It’s wonderful that they grow up and leave home and find success. It’s what we want for them. But boy is it hard when they do. Thank you for holding us in your thoughts. You’ve raised wonderful children yourself and I know you are incredibly proud. As you should be.

      I love that you and Mary know each other via Jazzercise. It’s funny how and where we connect with different people, and a treat when we find that we have mutual friends in common. Mary got me started at Lifted Spirits. It’s a great place to make a difference. I’m really enjoying the camaraderie as well.

      California firefighters are heroes. I can’t imagine what they endure everyday to fight these fires and help keep people safe. The lives lost his summer is devastating.

      We’ll be a polling place again this fall. I hope you’ll stop by to see the set up, or if you vote absentee, you could always drop your ballot off here. Just a thought. xo


  9. I’ve been thinking about you as they talk about the fires on the news. Between fires and floods and our current dictator in chief, it could be a depressing time to be in the US. But, there is so much good and fun to be had, it’s not worth sitting around being depressed.
    We only have one child, I remember dropping her off at college and being so proud of the young woman she had become. We raise them to be independent, but it’s still sad when that happens. Here’s hoping for an early October for you!! Until then, hang in there.


    • Karen, that’s it exactly. We raise them to be independent and put ourselves out of a job in the process. Of course I’l always be his mom; it’s just an acute awareness of the sea change ahead.

      Thanks for your encouraging words.


  10. Across the country, in Maine, our hearts are in our throats as we see pictures of the devastation in California. If there is a wrong thing to say at any given time, count on our president to say it. Best, best, best to your son. What a bittersweet time. I’m new to reading this blog and am looking forward to reading your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Gosh. What a busy and eventful summer you’ve had! But this post proves that you haven’t lost your blogging mojo — because it’s as lovely as engaging as ever. Thank you for all the good you do in the world (from drop-in centers for the homeless to raising fine young men and beautiful pumpkins). xoxo

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I heard a week or so back that a convoy of our firefighters flew off to California to save the day. (Sorry, that was a wee bit of one of Jim Carrey’s mad characters popping in…. I can never remember what movie it was, but the image remains) I do love to see that photo of Mac, he is such a beautiful young man. Empty Nest syndrome is a real thing, but it is a chance to resume your interests and pick up the life you dropped when babies arrived. The other thing is they never do really leave altogether when there is a healthy relationship and you will satellite each others lives always. It just changes and we have to learn how to let them become adults and walk their own paths. Your job is done and now you get to reap the glory 🙂 Still, tissues are a requirement at certain times. I’ve told you before how happy I am to hear about your volunteer work – a match well made I think! xoxo

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re getting lots of help from well-trained fire fighters around the world. It’s a nice, reciprocal thing, sharing such specialized skills. I heard this week that one of the Scandinavian countries had wildfires, but they’re so rare that they don’t have trained firefighters or equipment. And the fires in Greece! It’s been a challenging summer for many.

      Thank you for your kind words, Pauline. You always have just the right thing to say, that special wisdom to impart and the ability to say it with flare. I am looking forward to time as a couple, hopefully more weekend get aways and such. It is strange after being responsible for all their needs for so long to suddenly realize they’re venturing out into adulthood. I like your expression “satellite each others lives”. That’s a good one.

      Lifted Spirits came along at just the right time! Thank you.


  13. Hello sweet Alys! This world is a rough and tumble place for soft souls. You’re so selfless and doing good things in the community is healing salve for the current situation. All these fires are horrifying and shocking. No one can be certain what tomorrow will bring. Wild fires seem to be blazing all over the Northern hemisphere. Earth is so fragile. All we can do, I believe, is care and love each other as our lives allow. Like your caring work at Lifted Spirits.

    I’m confident that if the majority of American’s get out and vote in November, the world will be allowed to breath a sigh of relief and things will again, be on the right path. Where humanity is gentle and kind, where it’s more important to work as a team for the betterment of the country. The divide that ding-dong has fostered is not how I see America. It’s such a small minority but they’re loud and obnoxious. Hearing the rhetoric is troubling, so I turn it off.

    I’m so elated to see your fab boy’s both dedicated to their paths of learning. They seem to be confident and capable, kind and honest. The future of the country should give you a reward ! Bravo! Job well done. The pains of change are inevitable. There’s no stepping around it I suppose. It really shows what a good job you’ve done. Count down San Jose xoxo k

    Liked by 1 person

    • (((Boomdee))) You said it well: the pains of change are inevitable. My friend Marcia once told me that if you are doing your job right, your kids will leave home. It’s what we prepare them for from the start, how to look after themselves and how to be in the world. They both make me proud every day. I’ll miss them, but will enjoy their successes as well as being here for their sorrows.

      I am excited about more travel, more time to craft and to be a couple once again. It’s not that we stopped being a couple, but you always put your child’s needs first.

      San Jose countdown it is. I’m excited!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Empty nest is such a challenging passage. As they occasionally return, it feels like I had to do it a couple of times. But not needing/wanting Mother in their affairs was the hardest part. There are no rules/no handbook when they give you your ‘pink slip.’ The Mommy job is over – wah! 😉 Then one day you wake up and realize you’ve been given your life back – woohoo! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Good to see you back, Alys. It has been one heck of a summer and I want to see the end of it. I keep telling myself we need the sun and heat for things to grow but I’d happily stop eating to stop this heat. It’s so smokey here too that I make my time outside from 5:45 to 7:30 and back inside. I scolded my sister for waiting outside of Bob’s for me today with her daughter. Isa loves the heat but I reminded her the smokey air was not good for anyone to be breathing. I think we may get an early autumn. My asters have already bloomed and did not do so last year until Sept 1. Every thing feels off. That includes what’s going on in the whole country and world.
    Do you know why we have rebellious children? So we are grateful when they finally leave home. Your’s are not rebellious so you have a harder time letting go. I counted the hours until my daughter turned 18. My son was not the rebellious one. You gave them deep roots and strong wings. My guess is they will always be circling their nest looking for the next landing opportunity. Pauline is right, you never complete lose them if you’ve done it right. They keep coming back. 😉 Don’t lose heart. Things will get better. They have to. I saw on the news too that we are getting Aussie and NZ firefighters to help. It’s crazy what’s going on there. Giant hugs

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Marlene. It’s nice to read your comments. I’m sorry to hear you’re getting so much smoke. I noticed that on one of the weather reports. In fact, you’re sandwiched between fires to the north and south, so whatever way the wind blows, you’re getting some of it. Today was hot once again, but the evening is cooling off quickly and I think we’re finally in for some cooler (not cold) days. I’m glad you got to spend some time with Isa. I’ll never forget our special day at Bob’s. What a treat that was, birthday cake and all. Thank you for showing me such a good time.

      I’m glad that both of your children are part of your life. It’s interesting as we stop relating to them as children and engage with them as adults…or at least try. I’m not there yet, but off he goes. I’m going to have to figure it out. Giant hugs.

      PS I can’t remember if we have a phone call scheduled, but if not, lets talk late August when you have some time.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. it’s good to hear from you again, Alys, and you’ve expressed much about what is hampering my “mojo” as well. I’m deeply troubled by these fires, and yes, here in SoCal we are sweltering. I came out of yoga tonight at 7:00 pm and the marquee said it was still 90 degrees. It’s wearying. We visited Oakland for five days (returning yesterday) and followed smoke all the way down the 5. And Trump’s comments about the fires, and the EPA’s roll-back of clean-air emission goals has made me angry, yes, but also incredibly sad. Congratulations on your son’s college-bound achievement, and yes, do yourself a favor and take LOTS of tissue. I responded with something akin to grief when my son went to school–in Northern California. 🙂 I would laugh while I was crying! I kept thinking my response was completely over-the-top, but I couldn’t help it. And everyone I’ve spoken to about it has had the same response. Still, VERY exciting for you and for him! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Debra, Thanks for stopping by. I’m sorry to hear about your sweltering heat. 90 degrees at 7:00 pm is awful. (I’m glad your taking yoga though. My Pilates classes twice a week help keep me sane).

      It’s hard not to feel both angry and sad at what’s happening to our beautiful earth, especially when we fought so hard to get environmental protections into place *and* have reaped the rewards.

      Thank you for validating the conflicting feels of loss and grief while at the same time happiness for our child’s success. We leave Saturday, so it won’t be long now. I’m keeping busy, helping when asked, and getting strength from mom’s like you that have been through this. xo


  17. Hi Alys, Nice to see you back. I agree this has been a very strange summer. My own mood has been off and I have not been able to point to what has made it so. The weather here in VA has been unseasonably wet ALL summer starting in April and everything is moldy. We have not enjoyed the outdoors much at all. I too am hopful that fall will brings cool days and pleasant evenings. We are planning a Sept trip to see our youngest in Omaha and then I am going on to CO to see my mom and sister for a few days. CA has had a terrible run of late and all across the country the weather has been very strange. My prayer is that it is not a harbinger of worse to come. Our summer has been crowded since our daughter and son in law moved back from HI in April. They had hoped to be in a house of their own by now but things have not gone as planned and they are now waiting for a base house. We are all getting along and the house is plenty large so that is not a problem but it is a long commute for our son in law and our daughter has had some long days of not knowing what to do with herself. My heart aches for you in letting your son go to college. As you said that really is what we want for them but WOW is it hard. I could not be more proud of my beautiful children but I have a whole new respect for the tears my mother shed when I left home. On the other hand, your younger son will have time with just you and your husband which is a whole new dynamic AND THEN when he heads off to college…well you might find your marriage changes too. AND that my friend is a great thing. Of course then they come home (just kidding) Having Kat here has been so fun. I’m afraid just when we really start to have fun her husband will get orders and for some reason she will want to move away with him. We have enjoyed the Tessa FB page and made a vote her. God bless you friend. Do stay in touch. You’ll be in my heart and in my prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oops need to make an edit. You will be empty nesting. That’s a great place to be. Lots of fun things to do together and MAYBE more money to do it. 🙂 BUT do take the extra tissues.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Amy, it’s so good to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your news. I’m really sorry that your daughter’s move didn’t work out as planned. That must be hard on everyone. I’m glad she can spend time with you, but as you say, it’s challenging when things are up in the air. Best of luck all around.

      I didn’t realize you were having such a damp, rainy summer. Things are so upside down on our poor planet. It’s been challenging everywhere with fires, volcanoes, heavy rains and floods. Summer’s are not how I once remembered them.

      Thank you for voting for Tessa and for liking her page. She’s such a character and a love, too. We feel so lucky to have her.

      Love to you, Amy xo


      • Update: Kat and Jerry were offered a house yesterday. 🙂 They can get the keys September 4. It’s bittersweet. I owe you lots of updates but I’ll write a real letter and post it soon. 😉


    • Thank you for sharing how you feel, Susan. I thought long and hard about sharing the comments that I did, but in the end realized it was a huge part of my day to day stress and part of the reason I’ve not been blogging as well. I’m sorry to lose you as a reader.


  18. Hi Alys. Nice to hear an update from you too. The heat has really got to us this summer, with records being broken almost daily! But yesterday was a wonderful 18°C and we had all the doors and windows open and delighted in feeling cold! Glad you have the chance to do some voluntary work. Also good to hear your pumpkins are doing well! Good luck for your son on his new life at uni. 🙂


    • Hi Cathy. Excessive heat is brutal. It drains our energy and makes even the day to day activities a challenge. We’ve had another day of brutal heat, but by Tuesday we may cool down. I’m glad you’ve had a break in your weather and could open the windows for fresh air.

      Thanks for your well wishes with my son. We’re counting down now…less than a week.

      Liked by 1 person

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