summer goals

Here in northern New England, we’ve had a pleasant stretch of unseasonably warm days tempered with cool nights. It’s enough to make me look forward to summer, traditionally my least-favorite season.

This year, I’m going to make sure I bask in the pleasures of summer. As a little spur, I’m making a list of summer goals:

Note: a friend recently asked how my summer goals were going, so I thought I’d check off a few here. Updates are in italics.

Keep my swimsuit at the ready, along with my leopard-spotted towel and my big-brimmed hat, so I’m ready to swim anytime. Oh, yes! I kept them hanging on peg in our front hall, which reminded me that SWIMMING IS GOOD. I only managed to swim a couple of times, but with squealing, squirmy, happy children and teenager, which is about the best thing ever.

Cocktails and polenta fries on the patio at my favorite neighborhood restaurant. To celebrate our first wedding anniversary, no less! The Fella took me out to the patio for polenta fries and a split of prosecco, then we wandered a few blocks and I took him out for beer and tapas. A perfect evening.

Lemonade, limeade, ginger beer. Fantastic fizzy lemonade, deliciously low-rent limeade-slushy margaritas, and homemade ginger beer.

Always keep a little cash on hand for yard sales and farmstands. I have to admit: I haven’t managed to buy one single thing at a yard sale this season. Still, this is a resolution well worth keeping, if only for the farmstand tomatoes.

Stonefruit in a pouch! Hey, I forgot all about this one! Well, maybe next year.

Go to a ballgame at the local ballpark. Buy The Fella a beer. Oops. Maybe next year!

Always carry bubble juice, for impromptu bubble-blowing parties. We can thank The Fella for this one: knowing we were going to babysit my nephews for an afternoon, he zipped out to the store and picked up a giant bouncy ball, juice, and a biiiiiiig jar of bubble stuff. What a guy!

Stop buying cheap white wine. Start buying cheap sparkling wine. Drink it. Often. Oh, yes indeed.

Eat that lobster roll! Not yet — but for this one, I’ll prolong “summer” as long as it takes. IF I have my first lobster roll as the leaves turn, or as the frost nips in… in my mind, it’ll still be summer.

edited to add:
Take the short but hilly path, not the longer and sketchier but undeniably easier street route. (This refers to an actual hill and an actual shortcut, but if you read it metaphorically too, you’re not wrong.) Yes!

Write every day. Don’t worry about writing well: write every day. You can always edit half-assed writing; you can’t edit what you ain’t wrote down. Yes! Sort of!

Do my some physical therapy every day, not twice a week. I’ve actually managed to do a liiiiiiittttttttle bit every day, which is saying something.

AC, who helped me start achieving my goals by emptying a bottle of cava with me last night, added one more goal for me: sangria on the neighborhood Promenade! Can do! In the works!

edited again to add: I’ve just added “Drink 100 bottles of bubbly” to my life list. Starting about ten days ago, the count is up to three; 97 to go. And when I get to 100? Well, maybe I move the goalposts to 1000.

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puffed up

I spent part of yesterday and most of today grousing — or, more accurately, trying not to grouse, which is of course a lot more exhausting — about little things, dumb things, immaterial things that even I don’t care about. For example, this afternoon I walked into the room where The Fella was peacefully reading his book, put my hands on my hips, and opened with “Can I just point out one more problem with Lost?”

This is the level of irrational irritation I’m talking about.

And when I look back over the week, I see that I must have unconsciously anticipated this mood: as early as Friday, I planned to spend a couple of hours this weekend making pita bread… because I needed a recipe that would ever so subtly compound my bad mood, a recipe that is just a liiiiiiiiittle bit time-consuming, just a liiiiiiiiittle bit finicky, and that I have never ever managed to perform correctly. I’ve made pita bread a dozen times, and though the little flat rounds always taste fine, they never puff and separate enough to make a fully distinct pocket. In short, this is a recipe designed to make me grouchy. Grouchier.

But it’s amazing how one small success will buoy my mood. I peeked into the oven and squealed “It’s puffing! It’s puffing!” In amazement, I watched the little loaf balloon and lift itself off the baking stone… and as it floated up up up, so did my spirits.

pancakes: a dream

A dream:

In the dream, The Fella and I decided quite practically and happily that we should each marry again, adding another husband and another wife to the marriage. The very straightforward dream reason: the more people in the marriage, the greater the likelihood that at least one spouse would be in the mood to make pancakes for all of us on a given morning. (Perfectly sensible, you have to admit, and as good an argument for polygamy as I’ve heard.)

Everything went swimmingly, without envy or rancor, right until my dream-fiancé and I started talking about vows. He (and I’m sorry, fictional dream second husband, your features and character made no impression on me at all) started trotting out the classics about love and forever, and I quite plainly saw that I could not possibly marry this other husband…

… because I love The Fella in a way I never knew was possible, and there’s no one else I can love like this — no matter how many pancakes he would make me.

small triumphs

Sometimes little successes feel big. I think there’s value in celebrating these small triumphs, remind ourselves that we did well at something, even something small.

So, a few small success stories:

I tempered chocolate! After reading several guides to tempering chocolate, each more confusing than the last (a heating pad? really, Alton?), I shrugged, gathered my tools, and took a whack at it. Hey, presto — glossy, shiny, well-tempered chocolate that doesn’t smear or smudge. I felt so accomplished!

I finished my (admittedly modest) Christmas shopping (though there’s lots of making and baking left to do), and I did all my gift shopping with local vendors. Thank you, independent booksellers, movie, and music shops!

I gathered some wrapped gifts to take to the post office, and announced to the room, “Now I just need a box exactly this big and I’m all set!” And then I rummaged around our seemingly box-free home, and I found one. Eerie!

small good things

1. At last night’s rollicking holiday party, a certified honest-to-goodness proper hairstylist told me how much she likes my new haircut, a graduated bob. I particularly enjoyed the compliment, since I cut it myself, backed up to the bathroom mirror with scissors in one hand and a mirror in the other.

2. Today I finished my modest pile of Christmas shopping, all in one blast! (There’s lots of baking and making left to do, but no shopping.)

3. The timer just rang, and that means my jacket potato is ready!

minor miracles

Sometimes it’s the small, unlikely occurrences that enrich, improve, or brighten your day. Like when:

You have a headache, the very specific kind that only a Coca-Cola will diminish. You think about calling your husband and asking him to swing by the store on the way home from his late shift, but decide not to bother. He walks in at midnight and hands you a bottle of Coke, saying, “Just in case you wanted it.”

You’re eating crackers straight from the box. A rogue cracker slips out of your hand, bounces off the sofa, and falls right back into the box.

You find a hole in your favorite pants, and make a quick trip to the local outlet hoping to replace them. You find the exact same style, color, and size marked down to twelve bucks.

I like it

I like it. In this case, “it” is
– blueberry jam, and the jar the blueberry jam comes in: not quite cylindrical, with a homey red-and-white gingham-print lid.
– pigtails or ponytails, and the conversation The Fella and I had about whether they were pigtails or ponytails, and the Wikipedia-endorsed decision that we were both right.
– my pieced-together collection of Blue Hill pottery: some from my grandparents’ home, some from junk stores and rummage sales, some given by family.
– a grilled cheese sandwich with grilled tomato inside, on this bread. Oh, man.
– an assortment of Lexulous letters so rich in pointy-edged, point-heavy consonants that it looks like a @*%%#^ expurgated curse.
– the typo I made when first titling this entry: I wrote “I live it.”