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?

Bagby Garden

It’s been a joy to share in the Bagby School Garden experience these past few years. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Donna Boss since 2007. Donna and one other parent pioneered the school garden. They rallied volunteers and donors along with the school custodial staff, and with a day of sweat-equity, gave birth to the Bagby Garden and Outdoor Classroom.

Donna Outside the Garden Shed

A handful of parents turn out once a month and we collectively share and instruct eager students in the joys of planting, watering, harvesting and tasting the fruits of their labor. Students are inquisitive and willing to try new things. Green soup anyone? Kids covet the rakes and watering cans along with the over-sized wheelbarrow. At the school’s Open House my own children were proud to show off what they planted. Budding gardeners take pride in what they grow.

Bagby Garden

In addition to planting and harvesting, we have a chance to look at bugs, read stories and make garden-related crafts. One of the more popular Garden Fridays included a pumpkin raffle. Our first pumpkin harvest yielded several beautiful specimens. Other years, we supplement from a local patch. One afternoon, my garden duty was babysitting a pair of mantids (praying mantis) from curious but occasionally over-eager hands.

Pumpkin Raffle

Each summer we sign up to take care of the garden for a week. It’s my secret pleasure having the garden all to myself for that week. During the teaching Fridays my role is to instruct, not to plant, water or weed. It’s not always easy when you have green blood running through your veins to step back and let others do all the work (and have all the fun)!

Happy Gardener

My son graduates this year and a whole new crop of students will take his place. We’re both ready for new experiences and growth, but I’ll look back wistfully on my time in this lovely garden. It went by too fast.