While others are wrestling with the “Back to School” mania, I’ve decided to just relax and look back over the past months before the memories slip away to a collection of photos in some dusty box or on-line file labeled “Summer, 2010.”
I don’t have a picture of it anywhere but in my mind, but one of those little miracle moments happened in late June as we were driving along a backroad in Indiana at dusk. On either side stretched fields of corn, at that point about as high as a horse’s eye. Heat still shimmered up from the ground, and in and around and among the corn and weeds were fireflies. Hundreds of them. Thousands of them. It was nothing short of spectacular. We actually had to pull over to the side of the road and watch Mother Nature’s light show.
And while I’m on that subject, someone just reminded me that I once called those delightful creatures “lightning bugs.”
Like a mother putting her child to bed, drawing up the covers so the bogey man will be kept at bay, I go out in the evening and pull the net over my tomatoes, cukes, and pumpkin vines so the deer won’t repeat the carnage of a month or so ago.
The family outing over Memorial Day hosted five of our six kids and seven of the thirteen grandkids. It was fun to just play together—baseball, swimming in a kiddie pool, card games on the deck, walks in the park, and a fantastic afternoon cooling off in the Aurora branch of the Chagrin River. Even Baby Kate got a ride in the rock flume.
Several days were hot enough to even convince me to turn on the A/C. I don’t do that easily. I’d rather put up with a little discomfort than feel exactly like the prisoner I am in February.
I was a little late with my blueberry run and was about ready to give up on the bushes with sparse pickings, until a kindly gentleman told me I was in the wrong place and if I moved over a few rows, I’d find a better yield. Thanks, whoever you were.
There’s nothing nice than lingering in bed in the morning watching the birds flit back and forth outside—only to realize that they’re not birds, but bats—and they’re not outside, either. Instant double espresso latte with triple mocha!
I couldn’t wait for my crop of green beans to come in, so I bought some at Marc’s for pickling. Son Joe declares my dilly beans better than any pickle. They have a kick, too, because of the addition of red pepper flakes, along with a big clove of garlic. He’s earned himself a jar. But I’m starting to run out of refrigerator space. Oh, well. Guess I’ll have to start eating them.
I’ve been going to morning deep water watercize classes in Solon in the outside diving pool. It’s kind of a floating gab fest, but it does wake you up and get your muscles moving.
Morning walks in Beartown have yielded several sightings of my buddy, Jim, the blue heron. One day, he let me get within about 20 feet before he took off. I’ve learned to take my camera along. There’s one poor Canada goose who seems to have lost most of one foot. Elizabeth named him “Nub.” Apropos.
Finally got a chance to go to “It’s Still The Jake.” The Tribe lost, unfortunately, but it was a pleasant evening and Dollar Dog Day. I accounted for two of the over 50,000 hot dogs sold.
The long dry spells have meant retention of the awesome chalk drawings the grandkids have done on the driveway.
As of this writing, there are more even more memories ahead: more family gatherings in the offing and more chances to wear capris and sandals and more tomatoes ripening and more sunshine to soak up and more nights with the bedroom deck door open and the sounds of bullfrogs and owls lulling me to sleep.

Get With It!

At my grandson’s college graduation a few years ago, the speaker actually had some helpful advice to hand out, rather than the old “you are standing on the threshold of a new life” chestnut. He had three suggestions for success. I think I wrote them down somewhere, but as usual, I haven’t a clue. It’ll show up eventually, I’m sure. But I do remember two of them.

One was to think globally. It’s not your grandfather’s world out there these days. The last couple of decades have taught us that. While old-fashioned values like honesty, compassion, and understanding have not lost their importance, the playing field is a lot bigger and the rules more complex. We all need to add a little humility, too.

The second point, and the one I remembered best, is to embrace technology. It’s true of seniors in high school, seniors in college, and the “other seniors.” Us.
When the Internet first began changing the way we all communicate, I thought to myself, This is going to be one of the best things for us as we age. It’s going to make such a difference in our lives, make us more knowledgeable, keep our minds active, keep us in touch with the world around us. And it’s indeed wonderful that so many of us have become comfortable with computers and e-mail, can research healthier options for food and exercise, will pick up a remote for a game of Wii bowling with the grandkids, carry a cell phone, learn how to program a DVR. (I personally do not know how to do this yet, but only because we don’t have cable and I haven’t yet found anything on our TV that bears taping.)

So, good for us! Keep it up. If finances are an issue, use the computers at the library. Have your kids and grandkids teach you something new. And if you still long for bygone days, well there’s www.hulu.com and other sites where you can catch those old Cary Grant flicks for free.

My gadget of choice is the iPod Touch, which is like the iPhone without the phone. I’m constantly in awe of what I can accomplish when I combine it with a little wireless access: Starbucks, the library, hospitals, some restaurants, etc. It’s literally an entertainment center and business station that fits in the palm of my hand. In its honor, I’ve composed this little ditty, with apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein. (For the as-yet uninitiated, “apps” is short for “applications,” or programs, if you will.) And yeah, I know the rhyme is a bit off in places, and I apologize for that, but there isn’t yet, as far as I know, an app that will compose good poetry. Although Wikipedia (yet another app) does give some rhyming suggestions, which I used.

(To the tune of My Favorite Things)

Banking and newspapers, recipes, weather,
Music and photos, a tip calculator
Notes that remind me to pick up some bread.
Three little goldfish who need to be fed.

Books I can read or else give a listen,
E-mails to send when the kids I am missin’,
Locate a place with the aid of some maps.
These are a few of my favorite apps.

Travel and Skee Ball, alarm clock and TV
Stock market, Scrabble with a great dictionary.
All this I do with a couple of taps.
When I’m accessing my favorite apps

Play the slots or
Watch a movie,
Google search or
Hear a song.
I simply will touch on my favorite apps
And life can’t go too far wrong.