Archive for Life

Life

Hot and Miserable

My writing has slowed down a lot this month, and I think it may be because it’s summer and I’m reacting like a troll.

I mean troll as in the Terry Pratchett Discworld books, where trolls are rock-based life forms who are known for being incredibly stupid, but it turns out that when they get out of their mountain habitat and face warmer weather, they slow down, which means they appear stupid. If they’re in the right place, where it’s cold enough, they can be quite intelligent. Some of the trolls who leave the mountains wear cooling helmets with fans so they can function with higher intelligence.

That’s how I feel in hot weather. We had a terrible heat wave for the past few weeks, and I’ve been barely functional. I was stuck on the same scene for a week and just couldn’t figure out what to do with it. I don’t sleep well in hot weather. I don’t think well. I have no energy. I practically collapse midway through a gentle yoga routine.

A front came through on Sunday, so for the past couple of days it was about 10 degrees cooler, and I feel like a different person. I finally got a good night’s sleep. I got that scene written. I have energy. It’s going to go back above 100 after this weekend, so I guess I’ll slow down again.

I don’t want to go through last year’s experience of a deep freeze cold snap and power outage again, but while I was worried about pipes freezing and not being able to cook warm food, I was never really physically uncomfortable. I had warm clothes and blankets and was able to stay pretty cozy. If I lost power in the summer, there would be no way to be comfortable. It would be just about impossible to cool my house with air conditioning to the level where I’m comfortable in the winter, and I wouldn’t be able to afford the power bills if I did. Plus, air conditioning is different from cool weather, just as I would suffocate if I heated my house in winter to the level that’s semi-comfortable for me in the summer.

It seems that either I need to find one of those cooling helmets or I need to get to the mountains to cool off. Alas, it’s at least a two-day drive to get to anywhere that might be cooler, and with current gas prices and airline meltdowns, I’m not likely to be going anywhere anytime soon. I’ll just be sitting surrounded by fans, with a damp towel around my neck, hoping that cools me off enough so I can think.

I know that the obvious solution, longer-term, would be to move to a place that suits me better instead of being miserable for half the year, but that’s easier said than done. If I can’t even travel for a vacation right now, travel to scope out a new place and find housing is also out of the question, and then there’s the cost of housing and moving, which is way out of my budget. I bought my current house long ago and wouldn’t be able to afford to buy it now, but even if I sold it I couldn’t afford much of anything at today’s prices. I am doing some preliminary research, though, and am looking at possibilities, even if it means having to get a real job.

In the meantime, I’m going to have to take advantage of the relative cool while we have it and get as much work done as possible while I have any brainpower. And then this weekend it gets miserably hot again.

Life

Life Hack

I’m not crazy about the term “life hacks,” but I’ve found something that’s really been working for me that I want to share. I love productivity tips and finding ways to optimize my life, so I’m always trying things and experimenting, reading how-to books, etc., but this one didn’t come from a book or advice column. I just sort of figured it out by applying something that worked in one area to another area. I call it “staging,” though it could also just be called “preparation.”

I’ve always tried to get things together the day before if I have to leave early in the morning on a trip. I have the suitcase packed except for things I need while getting ready, which I have set up on the bathroom counter. I lay out my clothes, shoes, and anything else I’ll need. That way, all I have to do in the morning is get out of bed, get dressed, pack those things I use while getting ready, and get out the door. It drastically lowers stress because I don’t have to make decisions or find things. Then it occurred to me to do that sort of thing whenever I have to go anywhere in the morning. Even just for something like going to church, I’ll plan my clothes, lay everything out, and make sure I’ve got all the things I’ll need. I’ll hang up things that have been folded so the wrinkles can fall out and know that everything I’m planning to wear is clean. That means a much easier morning.

Then there was breakfast. I would often plan to have something like muffins or waffles for breakfast, but in the morning that would seem like too much to deal with, all that measuring and mixing. One night after I mixed up a bread dough that has to rise overnight, I got the bright idea to measure the dry ingredients for the muffins I planned to make the next morning while I had the flour and measuring cups out. It was so easy the next morning to add the wet ingredients, so now I do this all the time. I measure the dry ingredients the night before and cover the bowl so I have a head start on breakfast. For biscuits, I’ll mix up the dry ingredients and cut in the shortening and put it in the fridge overnight. I don’t know if this has been such a good thing because it means I make muffins and waffles all the time now.

Recently, I made something in the slow cooker and thought about how much I liked doing the cooking early in the day so that all I had to do at dinner time was dish it out. I often get to dinner time and can’t decide what to make and can’t bear the thought of having to do any of the work to make dinner. There are way too many nights when I resort to mac and cheese from a box because doing stuff like chopping and measuring is too daunting at the end of the day. It finally occurred to me that I don’t have to do all the cooking work at dinner time. There’s a lot I can set up earlier in the day. If I’m cooking something that involves measuring a lot of spices, I’ll measure those out earlier in the day (often while I’m doing something like making tea). I’ll chop veggies, cut up and marinate chicken, or do whatever else I can do early in the day, so at dinner time I don’t have to decide what to make and can just throw stuff in a pan. I’ve seen articles online about doing all this prep work for many meals at once and freezing all the sauce, veggies, and chicken in a bag, but while it is good to season and marinate chicken ahead of time to absorb flavor, too long in a marinade affects the texture, so I’m not sure about the freezer thing. Plus, I don’t have a big freezer. Just chopping onions early in the day helps me a great deal.

I’ve managed to apply this to my work, as well. I’ve started drafting my blog posts the day before I’ll post them (or sometimes earlier) so I don’t have to think of what to say in the morning when it’s time to post. I plan the next scene I’m going to write either the night before or in the morning before I sit down at the computer. When I stop work at the end of the day, I close out my browser and pull up Scrivener on the screen before I put my laptop to sleep so that when I open the computer in the morning, the book is right there, the first thing I see. It makes it a lot easier to get to work. I’m trying to get better about scheduling Twitter posts ahead of time so that I occasionally manage to do book promotion and have an online presence even during times I’m not online.

A lot of this involves figuring out the times of day that are your “I can’t deal with this” times and when you have the time and energy to do tedious things. I find that first thing in the morning is bad for me — any time before breakfast — as well as late afternoon, after 4 or so. After breakfast I can get some things done, and right after lunch is also a good time. I do a lot of my dinner prep when I’m cleaning up from lunch. Then mid-evening is good for preparing for morning—not late at night right before bedtime, but before I start getting ready for bed. I generally avoid having to make decisions before breakfast, in the late afternoon, and at bedtime.

Life

Frustrated Gardener

Over the past five or six years, I’ve realized that I’m a frustrated gardener. Gardens are my happy place. I like to be around flowers and plants. I read gardening magazines and watch garden tour travel documentaries.

Alas, I don’t have a garden or even a yard. I have a very small patio that only gets a few hours of sunlight a day. I can maybe get a bit more by moving the plants around the patio to follow the sun. I have about a foot of dirt between the concrete and the fence, but that gets even less sun, so there’s not much that will grow there. There’s some jasmine planted there that seems impossible to kill (it even came back after last year’s deep freeze), and I planted some mint last year in one of the bare spots left after the deep freeze, and it’s coming back this spring. Nothing else I’ve tried in that spot has done well. So, potted plants, it is.

I usually plant a few morning glory seeds because those bring me so much joy. I have a big pot with a trellis in it, and it’s on a wheeled dolly so I can move the pot around the patio to get enough sun. The last few years, I’ve had celosias, thanks to a “cutting mix” packet of seeds and then the plants re-seeding themselves. I guess I’m a lazy gardener because I don’t plant much. I just let whatever grows on its own grow. I might start some celosia seeds I’ve saved and then put the seedlings in pots.

But aside from herbs (the mint, basil, parsley), I haven’t been able to grow vegetables. I tried lettuce a couple of years ago, but between rabbits (there’s one that sneaks under the fence) and just general life, it didn’t do well. I got maybe one salad, and that required mixing in some store-bought lettuce.

But a couple of weeks ago, I read an article online about vegetables from the grocery store you could regrow. They said you could put the core from a head of lettuce in a dish of water, put it in the sun, and it would re-grow leaves. I was near the end of a head of green leaf lettuce, so I gave it a shot.

A week later, I had actual leaves growing. It works!

Small lettuce leaves sprout from a lettuce core in a dish of water

So, on the next head of lettuce, I left the smaller inner leaves on to see if they would keep growing, and that seems to be working. I don’t think I’ll be able to stop buying lettuce at the store, but I’m curious to see how far it will go. I may be able to fill in gaps between grocery trips.

I may see if I can sprout some garlic, and I’ve heard you can get green onions to sprout again. That would be handy because I often have recipes that require just a little bit, and it would be nice to snip some off instead of having to buy a whole bunch.

I still would love to live in a place where I can have a real garden, a full vegetable garden and a real flower garden, but given the way real estate has been going, that’s not going to happen unless my career makes a drastic change. I’ll make do with my kitchen table lettuce garden and a few plants on my patio.

Life

Lounging

It’s amazing how a little thing can end up making a big difference. A couple of weeks ago, I splurged and bought myself a “zero-g” lounger. This is a lawn/patio chair that creates the position your body naturally falls into in a zero-gravity environment, with your upper body and your knees elevated. Supposedly, this position is particularly good for your back. My patio is small, and I hadn’t bought any kind of lounge chair because I didn’t have room for it, but this one folds up so I can get it out of the way when I’m not using it, and since it doesn’t lie flat, it doesn’t take up as much space as a regular lounge chair.

And I must say, it’s been an excellent purchase so far. It has multiple positions, so you can sit almost upright, lean back slightly, or go full zero-g. I’ve learned that you need to sit at least partially upright if you’re eating or drinking, but even that position is very relaxing. I’ve been spending a lot of time reading on the patio in this chair. Yesterday, I was doing brainstorming, so I sat out there with a pen and paper, figuring out the next scenes in my book. I haven’t yet tried actually writing in it, using the laptop and a lap desk, but I should see if that works.

On the first day I had it, I didn’t want to come inside, even when it got dark, and then I got the bright idea to bring it inside. I don’t have room for a recliner in my living room, but since this chair can be put away when I’m not using it, it works brilliantly for movie watching. I just swing the coffee table out of the way and set up this chair in front of the sofa, facing the TV. To make it more like an indoor chair, I put a down-filled throw over it for some cushioning and have pillows for my head and back. The only problem is that it’s so comfortable that I have to fight not to fall asleep during the movie.

I’m finding that sitting like this for my leisure time is good for my back and shoulders. I have good posture when I’m standing, but I have terrible posture when I’m sitting. I have a bad habit of folding myself up in chairs, sitting half sideways so I’m twisted around. This chair forces me to sit in a proper alignment, but it’s so comfortable that it doesn’t feel like I’m being forced into a position. I may sit badly the rest of the day, but if I sit on the patio for a little while in the evening or watch a movie, it’s like it resets my back.

I found this one just by doing a Google search on zero-g patio lounger. I have a fairly small one. I’m not sure how well it would work for someone who’s taller and heavier than I am, but there are bigger, more sturdy ones. The one issue I have is that it can be difficult to get in and out of it. Even when I bring it fully upright, it’s not exactly graceful to get up from it. Once I have it set exactly the way I want it, I hate to bring it upright, so then it’s really awkward to get up and down. I’m glad there’s no one else around to see me!

This is also helping me cope emotionally with the coming of summer. I decided to “celebrate” the coming of warm weather by buying this. It feels a little silly to be this excited about a new patio chair, but it’s 2022, and you have to take your joy where you can find it.

Life

Spring Fever

I seem to have developed a bad case of spring fever, but in me it works the opposite of the way it does most people. For a lot of people, spring gives them energy. They get happy about the end of winter and are excited about getting outdoors. They enjoy the time change that gives them extra daylight at the end of the day. I’m the weirdo who starts getting kind of glum. Spring seems to make me anxious and depressed, and the spring time change really messes with me.

I realized this was a pattern the other day when I was getting weirdly emotional about the Duolingo lesson. It was about employment, stuff like job applications, interviews, references, etc. That got me started wondering if I should look for a regular job while there’s apparently a lot of hiring going on and while costs are soaring. I could use a little more income, but I don’t know what kind of job I’d get. I haven’t had a regular job for twenty years, and my skills in my field are way out of date. Social media came along after I left the public relations world, and that’s the focus now, with traditional media dwindling. I have some valuable skills, but it would be hard to find a job using my skills that wouldn’t also require skills I don’t have. I was getting very glum about this while translating sentences about letters of recommendation into and out of Norwegian.

And then it struck me that it was around this time of year a few years ago that I had a total meltdown and decided I was going to quit writing entirely. It’s also been around this time of year that I’ve found myself researching things like travel industry jobs in Alaska and jobs at national parks. At this time of year, I seem to fall into gloom and despair about my life. It’s not a restlessness that makes me want to change. It’s more about feeling like I’m going to have to change because things can’t go on the way they are. I’m actually doing okay financially so far this year (though with the way real estate is going, I’ll never be able to buy another house and get out of this place), and I’m in the middle of the part of a project I like. I think it’s just this time of year.

It may have something to do with dreading the coming of hot weather. I don’t deal well with heat. I think the time change messes with me because there’s less darkness before bedtime and that makes it harder to wind down, and yet I’m waking up earlier, so I’m getting less sleep. The warmer weather means I have to take the weighted blanket off the bed, which means my sleep is less restful. And there are allergies that come with spring. Yesterday was particularly bad because we not only had pollen, but we were getting smoke from wildfires, and my eyes were burning so badly I could barely keep them open. It’s also tax season, when I have to really face my financial situation, and I always seem to be right on the line where if I make a bit more money, I have to pay enough more in taxes that I end up worse off than if I’d made a bit less money, so even the good news of having made more money turns into bad news. Plus there’s all the stress of dealing with it. That may be why I find myself pondering looking for jobs around this time of year.

I may make a note to myself in my calendar app for this time next year to remind myself that I get weird in late March and I should make no major plans or decisions at this time of year. It will pass, and I just need to be gentle with myself for a few weeks.

Life

Digital Minimalism

The Internet has been a real mixed blessing for me. It opened up the possibility for access to so much information and connection. I first started really using it to connect with other people who were interested in the same things I was, and that was life-changing. I’d always felt like such an outsider, and finding other people who were into the same things I liked was exciting. I’ve made so many good friends online, and I’ve been able to find and get back in touch with old friends. The access to information has also been wonderful, being able to look things up right away instead of having to go to the library. I can’t imagine writing the kinds of books I write now without being able to look things up without leaving my desk. I’ve promoted books in the days before the Internet was widely used, and it’s so much easier now (not that I do a lot of it or do it at all well, but there was almost nothing you could do in the old days).

On the other hand, it’s a huge time sink and attention hog. It’s so easy to fall down the research rabbit hole and find that the one quick fact you looked up has turned into an hours-long research project. It’s even easier to get sucked into social media. But I can’t step away entirely, since I do use the Internet for work, and for the past couple of years, most of my social life has taken place online.

I recently read an interesting book on how to find some kind of balance, Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. I’d previously read his Deep Work, about how multitasking doesn’t really work and how you need time and focus to do your best work. This book gets into how a lot of social media works on your brain and what you can do about it. It’s addictive (and designed to be that way) because it works on the same principle as a slot machine, with inconsistent and unpredictable rewards so you keep coming back.

I thought I was pretty bad, but after reading this, I think I may have it under better control than I thought. I don’t use any social media on my phone unless I’m traveling (or need to post a photo). I don’t have any notifications turned on, and my phone usually lives in my purse. I can go days before I notice a text. I may get sucked in while I’m at my desk, but you won’t find me sitting at a restaurant with other people, checking my Twitter notifications. I’ve been trying to take steps to minimize my online time, so I’m already somewhat on track with the recommendations in the book. I started working upstairs in my office and keeping my computer in my office instead of on the laptop desk I kept by my sofa. I’d fallen into the bad habit of checking online while I watched TV or movies, and it was killing my attention span. I’d get curious about who that actor was, look it up on IMDB, then end up reading about the rest of the cast, reading the trivia connected to the movie, etc., then while I’m there, might as well check e-mail, Twitter, etc., and next thing I knew, I’d missed half the movie. Having the computer upstairs has made a huge difference.

I’m also trying to break the “better check Twitter” reflex and stop using it as procrastination. I have a list of other things I can do if I don’t want to work, like my Norwegian lessons. I’m also trying to limit my social media time to a couple of times a day in designated slots, though I do sometimes slip, like yesterday when there was an incident on the street outside my house and I kept checking Twitter to see if the police department was saying anything about what was going on.

The thing suggested in the book that I haven’t been doing but that I want to implement is coming up with more active leisure pursuits. This came up last year when I was feeling a bit burned out and realized that my brain never got a break from story. My work is writing stories, and my leisure is either reading or watching stories. Newport suggests actually making things. Go online to learn how to do something, and then do it. This includes stuff like repairs, woodworking, art, cooking, music, etc. I think that’s a good idea, and I’ve been trying to have mostly offline weekends, in which I take care of the things I need to do online, then shut the computer off and do something else. To start with, I’ve been making a point of cooking on weekends, the kind of dishes I can’t really do on a busy weeknight, with chopping, measuring, stirring, and long cooking times. I need to get back into playing music. I’ve got an embroidery project I want to do (and I picked up a book on embroidery at the library today).

I need to get back to something he suggests that I used to do, which is scheduling and planning my leisure time. It sounds boring and lacking in spontaneity, but I’ve found that if I don’t have a plan, I tend to just sit and surf the net, but if I have a plan and a schedule, I’m more likely to do actual fun things.

If you feel the need to get your online life under control and rediscover your offline life, I recommend this book. It’s a quick read and quite thought-provoking.

Life

Tis the Season, I Guess

I have this weird thing about the holiday season in which I resist starting the festivities, only to find them sneaking up on me, so I have that “how can it be Christmas already?” feeling. I’m so not ready for it to be the Christmas season. They’ve started playing Christmas and Christmas-adjacent music on the classical radio station, and I find myself shuddering when an obvious Christmas piece comes on. It’s not so much that I hate the holidays (though some of the overkill and excess gets to me), but I’m still enjoying fall. The trees have just started turning colors here, and it’s still rather warm. I’m not ready to switch from “fall” mode to “Christmas” mode. I also tend to like anticipation more than I like the actual thing. I like looking forward to the holiday season, so I try to stretch out the anticipation.

I think I’m wired more toward the ecclesiastical holiday calendar, in which the time leading up to Christmas is Advent, which is a more contemplative period of waiting, and then Christmas season starts on Christmas Day and involves 12 days of festivities. But no one seems to want to party after Christmas Day other than on New Year’s Eve. Instead, we get the month of December full of activities, and it all abruptly stops on Christmas.

But I made myself get my Christmas decorations up last night so that two weeks from now I’m not feeling like the whole season passed me by. I put on holiday music while I decorated the tree. It’s going to be another low-key year, without the usual parties and large gatherings. I don’t miss the feeling of being overwhelmed by so many activities, but there are a few smaller get-togethers I do miss.

Now that I’ve had my booster shot, I may try to get back to choir in time for Christmas Eve. It’s going to take some work, since I haven’t sung and have barely talked for so long. I’ve started doing some voice warm-up exercises I’ve found on YouTube, and I feel worn-out after a five-minute warm-up. If I do a few of those a day, maybe I’ll be able to sing a whole song in a week or two.

The warm weather means that I may try doing some light walks, when I take my daily walk after dark so I can look at all the decorations in the neighborhood. It’s a festive way to get exercise, though I probably undo the benefits when I come home and have cocoa and cookies or bring a travel mug of cocoa with me during the walk. I’m making my own personal parties since getting together in groups indoors, with people not wearing masks because they’re eating and drinking, isn’t happening again this year.

Life

Staycation

After getting a book released and my house more or less in order (there’s still work to do in the room where the office is, but the office area itself is all clean and organized), I’m finally taking some vacation time. I’m not traveling, but I’m trying to change things up and take some of the pressure off myself. This week’s posts were written and scheduled in advance, so I can keep promoting my work without having to do anything work-related on my days off.

Weirdly, that means making plans. Planning my days off sounds almost contradictory, but when you travel, you make plans. You decide what you’re going to do on each day of your trip, and the same thing applies to a “staycation.” If I don’t make plans, I’ll just end up having a regular work day, but without the work. I’ll sit down at my computer to check e-mail, end up surfing around on the Internet, and lose the day. I won’t feel like I’ve taken a break because I’ll be doing a lot of the same things I usually do.

So, I’m planning some activities. It’s not a rigid schedule and has a lot of time for sitting and reading or watching movies, but it gives me enough structure to ensure that I actually break with my routine. Today is Spa Day, time to use all the products I’ve accumulated, either buying for myself or getting as gifts. Foot scrub, face masks, the back massaging pillow, the works, along with some yoga and plenty of rest. Other plans for my time off include some craft projects, baking, some long walks in the woods, and maybe a visit to the local art gallery. I have a stack of books, some snacks, and plenty of tea. It’s not quite heading to the Oklahoma mountains for serious hiking and fall scenery, but it’s what I can do under the current circumstances.

According to the doctors at the medical school where I used to work, disconnecting from your daily routine can be refreshing for your brain, whether or not you travel. The trick is to make things different enough to get the same effect as traveling to a different place. I’ll probably come back eager and excited to get going on my next project.

Life

Puzzling

I’ve been trying to find some fun things to do that aren’t story related (like reading or watching TV/movies) to give that part of my brain a break, so when I found some jigsaw puzzles on clearance, I bought a couple. I had images of cozy autumn and winter nights, sipping hot cocoa and listening to classical music with a scented candle burning nearby while I leisurely worked on a puzzle.

We used to work puzzles as a family when I was a kid. At Christmas, there was usually a “family” gift of a big puzzle, and then we’d set it up on the dining table (which we generally didn’t use except for special meals) after Christmas dinner, and we’d work on it off and on, whenever anyone wanted to look at it, until we finished it. But it had been a very long time since I’d worked a puzzle, so I thought I’d start with something a little simpler. I had a couple of old Star Wars puzzles I’d taken from my parents’ house when they were clearing out my old things, and I started with one that was aimed for kids, with only 140 pieces.

And I found myself utterly consumed for about an hour and a half as I worked it in one sitting. I was supposedly watching TV while working on it, but I didn’t remember anything I was watching and had to rewatch those episodes. I also could barely move when I went to stand up and had a sore neck. This should have been a warning.

The next puzzle up was 500 pieces, a more complex Star Wars puzzle for older kids. I started it one evening. It was too warm for the candle (candles don’t play well with ceiling fans) or the cocoa, but I did have the classical music playing. The first evening, I mostly tried to find the edge pieces, so it wasn’t too bad. The obsession kicked in the next day. I kept getting sidetracked when I passed the puzzle and paused to see if I could just find that one piece I needed to complete a certain section, only to realize an hour or so had gone by. I didn’t do my usual Friday-night movie because I wanted to finish that one section of the puzzle—and then a couple of hours later it was too late to start a movie. That repeated on Saturday. I dreamed about the puzzle on Saturday night, and the first thing I did the next morning was look at the puzzle. I nearly missed the beginning of online church because I started working on the puzzle. Then I paused by the puzzle on my way to get lunch. There was one piece I needed that I thought would pull a whole section together, and the shape and color should have made it obvious. There weren’t that many pieces left, so I should have been able to find it easily. It did tie it all together, and from there the rest of the puzzle fell into place. I was getting a bit lightheaded, then realized that two hours had passed.

So, I may have a wee bit of a puzzle problem. Thinking about it, I don’t like to have something unsolved, whether it’s a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword puzzle, or even just an error in my knitting. I don’t like to put it down until I’ve figured it out. Puzzles tend to put me in a flow state, where I’m hyper alert but unaware of the passing of time. Up to a point, this can be a positive thing that’s good for the brain, but not when it keeps you from sleeping or doing anything else.

The reality of my puzzle evening is less like the relaxing time with cocoa and classical music and more like me sitting there, wild-eyed, at midnight, going, “I’ll just get that one piece and then I’ll go to bed. Okay, maybe one more piece. One more …”

I don’t know how the 1,000-piece puzzles I bought are going to go. I may have to wait until I have nothing else going on to work on them, or maybe I can cover them and try to put them out of sight and out of mind. Or I’ll set a timer so I don’t completely lose track of time and make myself take exercise breaks. It’s still something I enjoy, and it works a different part of my brain than writing does. We’ll see how it goes, but I’m not starting another puzzle until I have my time-sensitive projects done.

Life

All Autumn in a Day

I finished the first draft of my book yesterday, and that happened to coincide with the arrival of a cold front, and now we have actual fall-like weather for the first day of fall, so it’s a nice day to give myself a break to enjoy it.

It’s the kind of day I joke is All Autumn in a Day in this part of the world, the first day it really feels like fall, and it’s such a relief after a long, hot summer that we tend to go all-out, doing All the Fall Things because it may be the only real fall day we get. You never know. It’s going to start warming up again later in the week and be back to “summer,” and there’s a chance it could stay that way until we get a drastic cold snap and it’s suddenly winter (that actually happened a couple of years ago, when summer lingered into October, and then we got a freeze right before Halloween). It reminds me of the Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day,” in which a girl who moved from earth to a colony on Venus misses the one afternoon in seven years when the sun comes out because her classmates, who had never seen the sun and didn’t realize what they were missing, locked her in a closet. Except here we do get it every year, but my favorite season still tends to be capricious and brief.

I’ve already had breakfast on the patio, actually wearing a sweatshirt! I have some baking planned for the afternoon, and I’m going to make soup for dinner. I’ll probably have some patio time, sipping cinnamon herbal tea, this evening. There will be a long walk to the library after I get this posted. I don’t drink coffee, so no pumpkin spice lattes for me, but otherwise I’m trying to cram in as much fall as possible, even though the trees are still green and it will be 90 degrees this weekend.

Really, in more temperate climates, our weather today wouldn’t even be considered fall. This is the way their summer is. I’ve been pondering whether I want to stay around here, for a number of reasons, and I’ve been monitoring the weather in some of the places I’ve imagined might be a good fit. This is the kind of weather they started having in August. I remember when we moved to Germany in August and had to go buy sweatshirts because the clothes we’d brought with us from summer in Oklahoma and then traveling to Louisiana and across the south to Charleston were way too light for the weather. There was a discussion on a friend’s Facebook page a few weeks ago when she mentioned looking forward to fall, and one of her friends talked about preferring summer, then listed their idea of summer activities — hiking, camping, going on picnics. Those of us who live in Texas said we liked those things, too, but they were fall activities. That’s why we were looking forward to fall. I think we shift our summer to fall. In a way, our summer is like winter elsewhere, a time we spend as little time as possible outdoors, so we react to fall the way northerners react to spring.

I’ve joked about finding a place where it’s fall most of the time, and that makes me wonder if that’s how a place like that would work for me. Would having weather I associate with early fall, followed by actual fall weather, feel like an extended autumn for me, or would I get used to it and think of it as summer, so it would stop feeling like fall?

Not that I’m planning to move anytime soon. I’d want to travel to a place before making any decisions, and that’s not happening during the pandemic, and I don’t have the money right now to pick up and move across the country. I’ll also need to keep monitoring the weather in other places during the winter. Temperatures in the 80s in August sound heavenly, but what will I think of the winter? I always spend the summer dreaming about being elsewhere, then forget about it in October.

In the meantime, I will enjoy my first day of fall, and then tomorrow get back to work, reading through this book to see if it makes sense. When I get this book totally done and ready to publish, I’m going to dial back for the rest of the year. I’ve got a project I want to develop, and that means a more flexible work schedule that can be done in a variety of locations, so when (if!) we get real fall, I’ll be able to take my work with me as I take walks, so I can sit in the woods or by a lake to work.