Monday, August 29, 2022

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation: One Good Thing!



HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Every time I think oh, no, summer is over, I think of my wonderful next-door neighbor who we’ve known for so many years. Every time I say that, he says “No! September still counts." And I try to believe it.  (Do you?)


And our tomato plants are still burgeoning with tomatoes– we are eating them like crazy and we laugh every day.





The birds have descended on our backyard, red finches and cardinal families and duos of fluttering mourning doves. We strung fairy lights around our backyard and at night, we sit outside and just soak up the niceness.  Summer memories? I was guest of Honor at Killer Nashville, and they gave me and co-GOH Charlie Donlea–GUITARS! Honest to goodness guitars. Can you see how hilarious this was? (Do either of us play guitar? No!)  Oh yes, my summer was full of good memories, and I bet yours was, too! 





So today, Reds and readers–just tell us one wonderful thing that happened to you this summer!


JENN McKINLAY: Aside from it being the summer of the kittens - adopting The Trips consumed our days - Hub and I discovered the simple joy of floating in our pool, listening to music, drinking mocktails, and talking about whatever without a Hooligan or two canonballing us unexpectedly. LOL. It’s the little things. 




RHYS BOWEN: we have had several reasons to celebrate this summer: our daughter graduating from Pepperdine with her masters in psycho therapy, granddaughter Lizzie graduating from UC San Diegi with a degree in public health and on to dental school and the twins graduating from high school. We celebrated all these at a week together in a house on the beach in San Diego. Such fun 15 of us with paddle boards, kayaks and all kinds of games. Lots of laughter and good food. I’m still smiling as I think of it. One of those precious times before kids move away to adult lives.




HALLIE EPHRON:Top of the list for me would be going to Universal Studios/Harry Potter world in Orlando with my daughters, son-in-law, and grandkids. My granddaughter loves roller coasters as much as  do and she’s far more fearless. Never mind that (multi-vaxed and multi-boosted) I came down with covid the day after I got back. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Also going to a real live in-person writing conference. And a movie in an actual movie theatre. And though I’m so not a baker, I made a cake that’s first cousin to a black forest cake. It looked like Los Angeles after the big earthquake but tasted sensational.


DEBORAH CROMBIE: My summer was all about staying cool and editing. In July I had a wonderful very belated double-birthday lunch with my daughter and granddaughter (my daughter and I are both June birthdays.) We went to our favorite French bistro in Dallas, drank wine, talked and talked, and ate everything on the menu. When we came out of the restaurant, it was 106! A couple of weeks later we went to the Cartier exhibition at the Dallas Museum of Art, with a picnic lunch in the very hot park. It was a lovely outing, though, and the Cartier was definitely a highlight of the summer. (Look at the Duchess of Windsor's necklace!) I'm so looking forward to more fun things in the fall.





LUCY BURDETTE: It still feels like a weird summer, overshadowed by stupid Covid. We did get to do some fun things–saw the grandkids and kids in California in June, and had another quick visit in July. Also trying to stay in touch with my dear New England friends while we’re here–mostly eating outside. And the trip to northern Scotland was a dream–every bit as good or better as I’d hoped!


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: It felt like I spent the summer writing - which was a good thing, believe me! - but looking back among my photos and my calendar, I did a lot of wonderful stuff - trips to the beach, visits with family, and Maine Crime Wave in person. It still feels like a thrill to actually be in the same (open air, no-sides) room with other humans! I went to a wonderful party launching Paula Munier's fourth book and a delightful four-author weekend writing retreat on beautiful Lake Arrowhead. And of course, many delightful meals out on the deck of our own Celia Wakefield's lake house.
 
The pinnacle of summer happened this past Saturday, though, when Youngest and her bf and I went to see the Portland Sea Dog's play - the first ball game I've been to since 2019. It was a summer rite for our family, and it felt so good to get back to Hadlock Field.

HANK: How about you, Reds and readers? What ONE wonderful thing happened to you this summer? Did you see a new bird, make a new friend, learn a new recipe, have a brilliant insight? (We know all the writers are writing and readers are reading, so don't count that. We'll do that another day.)
Tell us something special!

147 comments:

  1. Okay, you already know what I’m going to say . . . our oldest granddaughter graduating from high school and grandbabies spending the summer with us. I wouldn’t trade any of that for anything. I baked, I cooked, we played, we went to the movies . . . it was absolutely perfect!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:27 AM

      So wonderful! What was the best thing you cooked?

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    2. According to Mia, macaroni and cheese was the best thing; according to Isaac, it was pork tenderloin with apple butter . . . .

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  2. HANK: great topic! I had a strange beginning to the summer. In May just before Memorial Day weekend, I stepped on a cracked sidewalk and fell on top of my portable shopping cart. It folded. When I fell down, it really scared me because I thought it was my LAST DAY on earth! I was badly bruised and the good news is NO broken bones.

    What was the one good thing that happened? In June, I finally remembered something really important that eluded me for 40+ years. I remembered everything, not the bits of that and there, from when I was 12 years old. I actually liked a boy who LIKED me back! And that summer romance worked for whatever reason. (I am still trying to figure out why! LOL). I remembered how empowered I felt. I remembered the self confidence that I had. I remember how defiant I could be at times when facing bullies. I remember having a thick skin. The essential takeaway from this is that it is POSSIBLE to fall in love with someone who will love you back. And that optimism! I have buckets of optimism, which I had once in a while over the years. I am feeling pretty great despite some of the setbacks.

    When I "woke up" from that 40+ years of "sleep" or somehow finally getting that silver of glass out of my "eye" like the character in the movie Frozen or the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale the Snow Queen, I started remembering things that I had forgotten like what I just mentioned above. It is as if I had temporary amnesia for whatever reason.

    We will see what happens...

    Diana

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:29 AM

      Wow—that is completely fascinating! I wonder if it is coincidence or physiological? Wow. That is something to explore. Just wondering… did you by any chance ask a doctor about it?

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    2. Never occurred to me to ask my doctor about this. Do you mean a psychologist or a regular doctor? My grandfather also died and I think that memory of my grandfather's death pushed most of the memories away? Who knows?

      Diana

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  3. Were they Gibson guitars, Hank? I think they are made in Nashville. When I was there in January for US Figure Skating Championships, they gave all the medalists & Olympic Team members custom guitars. Nathan Chen & Evan Bates were excited since they both actually play.
    One good thing this summer? Umm, I worked…a lot. Not really fun but it allowed me to pay off a credit card. Debuted some new cakes that were quite successful.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:31 AM

      Oooh I think so! And now I am tempted to try to learn to play:-)
      That is SO exciting about that credit card debt—so wise of you! And yes, tell us about the cakes!

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    2. Banana Pudding Cake and Chantilly Cake which has a light fluffy whipped cream and cream cheese frosting and mixed berries. Perfect for summer. I am about to make the first pumpkin cake of the season, hoping to coax Fall a little closer.

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  4. I took an Alaskan cruise. Didn't turn out like I wanted it too, but it was still nice to get away.

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    1. Mark, you've made me curious about how your Alaskan cruise didn't turn out like you wanted. If it isn't too personal, can you elaborate. And, since I was thinking that might be one of the few cruises I would take, what were the good parts of it?

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    2. Yes, please elaborate if you can. If I were to take a cruise, I've always been intrigued by Alaska.

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:33 AM

      Oh dear—that is so disappointing. I am so sorry…

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    4. We had a great cruise in Alaska by Silver Sea. I had really wanted to go with Cruise West but at the time, the cost was twice as much. Irwin's aunt was a travel agent and she went on an Alaskan cruise with a huge ship and was also very disappointed. Some places are better seen with a smaller vessel. We have taken expedition cruises that are absolutely the best way to see nature. So, consider what you really want before you go.

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    5. The ship I was on was having engine trouble. A different ship, and I would have had a very different experience. I went on an Alaskan Cruise six years ago, and it was great. So plan those cruises. You'll enjoy them.

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    6. Bummer, Mark. When something like that happens, sometimes the cruise line will do something nice for disappointed passengers. Hmmm.

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  5. Well, you might not think getting my knee operated on was something I was happy about, but it went smoothly and the recuperation time wasn't long at all. Most importantly, my right knee is pain-free and works great. I had to miss my 50th high school reunion because of the surgery, and my class always has such a fun time together, but I plan on seeing some of my friends from my hometown this fall. Of course, the best thing happened on Saturday, Aug. 27th, when my darling granddaughter turned thirteen and we celebrated. She asked me to make my chocolate cherry cake for the family celebration (she had a party for friends the weekend before), and I was happy to make the cake that has become our family favorite. I'm hoping to go on a couple of short trips this fall, but we'll see.

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    1. a good summer Kathy, so glad your knee is better!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:34 AM

      That is SO GREAT! Being pain free must be so life changing—hurray! And hmmmmm—want to do a blog for us about that cake? Let me know!

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    3. That's great news on your knee, Kathy! And happy 13 to your granddaughter!

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  6. Our Ottawa Dinner Club dining group started up again in June. We had been inactive since last December due to omicron. I enjoyed eating wonderful multicourse dinners of Indian, Filipino and global cuisine this summer. Lots of laughter and fun discussion with my fellow diners was nice, too.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:35 AM

      Oh how lovely! And you are absolutely my idol for cuisine! Xxxxx

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  7. A couple of weeks in Nova Scotia weren’t a hardship either ;) Off to watch the loons in Scot’s Bay ❤️

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:36 AM

      That sounds gorgeously peaceful—and I will refrain from loon jokes!

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    2. Ooh, loons are so special. We saw one close up from the boat when we visited my daughter in northern Michigan. For a split second! It dove and popped up, ages later, too far away to see well.

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  8. I really haven't been doing much of anything this summer. No concerts or other crowd based activities. I work, and most nights I just go home afterwards. The one real "event" type thing I have done was last weekend when a long-delayed Christmas present came about as my friend Ann had arranged for us to go and have lunch with Edith Maxwell in her town. Add in having lunch with Edith earlier in the summer down on the Cape and that's the big event(s) I've done.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:37 AM

      What a treat! Are you coming to Crime Bake?

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    2. Nov 11-13, Judy. Hope to see you (and Jay) there!

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    3. Lucky Jay got to have lunch with Edith!

      Diana

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  9. The best part of my summer was ten days with my daughter and her husband, her children and spouses, and my adorable great grandson. We ate and played and laughed. And ate some more. Baby Griffin kept us all entertained with his preciousness, this being the first time I’d seen him.

    Thankfully we have an excess of house for two of us, but we filled it up including the third floor. Everyone had a bed — or at least half a bed.

    The other summer hit was our CSA. We’re coming up on week 11, and we’ve never eaten so many vegetables! It’s much fun to see what’s in our box every Thursday. There’s always enough to share.

    CSA = Consumer Sustained Agriculture. We bought a half share in the spring, about $300. This gives the farmer a cash infusion for planting etc. Then we get the fruits — literally — of their labor throughput the growing season. Each week we get a pdf listing the expected contents, along with storage and preserving directions and lots of recipes.

    Almost as good as Christmas!

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    1. OMG, Ann, I am LOVING the air fryer. I had not made French Fries my entire married life and now...all the time. And, so little oil. Finding 100 uses for it!!

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    2. I was an early pioneer of CSAs with my small farm thirty years ago, Ann. Such a win-win for farmers and customers.

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    3. Judy, I’ve cooked most of our meals in mine all year. One of our favorites is drumsticks. I dry brine them liberally with garlic pepper stuff and leave them uncovered in fridge for a few hours. If I remember. Then air fry twenty minutes, turn once and use thermometer to check for doneness. With an ear of corn and sliced tomatoes, it’s dinner.

      And aren’t the French fried incredible!

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    4. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:40 AM

      Yay! Baby Griffin—so adorable! Aww. And we LOVE our CSA! Thursdays are such a treat!

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    5. Love my airfryer, too! Especially in the summer when I don't have to turn on the oven. I've cooked everything from wings, fish fillets, meat loaf, banana bread, to roasted sweet potatoes. Delicious and no oil.

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    6. Judy, have to ask: What brand of air fryer?

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    7. We have a toasted oven that has an air fryer setting--but I will admit to being utterly baffled.

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    8. Gay, it's so funny. At the beginning of August, Julia asked about favorite tools. Ann mentioned her air fryer. I looked online and saw a dozen so, I asked her which one she has. I copied her response to me below:
      Ann August 1, 2022 at 11:30 AM
      It is the Gourmia 4 quart digital air fryer, now $69.95 at Walmart. Footprint is about 10 in x 10 in, a little bigger than my toaster. Fits nicely in the corner. Almost no heat escapes when operating so I don’t have to move it out from under the cabinet when I use it. It does dehydrate but haven’t tried that yet.


      Ann August 1, 2022 at 11:31 AM
      It is super for warming taco shells!

      Gay, I still have the box, it is model # GAF486

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    9. Thanks, Judy. I'll be looking for it.

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    10. This air fryer has changed my life. Little to no heat escapes and clean up is a breeze The reheat feature amazes me! This morning I cooked about a half pound bacon in it. No grease spatters, not even much smell. Beautifully crispy for those BLTs.

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  10. Hank, are you going to take guitar lessons now? You can strum and hum under the fairy lights.

    So much delicious summer produce always makes me happy, as does our new deck - more spacious and it has some needed (and pretty) privacy lattice.

    I also loved spending time with my son and daughter-in-law, both at their home in western MA and in NH, plus our few days in Maine - lots of delicious food!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:42 AM

      Yay for the deck! That must be life-changing—how wonderful. And lucky you to go to Maine. I am convinced you can feel the Maine magic the minute you cross the border. Have so much fun!

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  11. Family get-together for Mother's Day and our grandson's first birthday. Cincinnati Opera returned to Music Hall (masked, first row of second balcony with lots of air).

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:43 AM

      Oh lovely! What did you hear?

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    2. OH, that is SO great! I am singing now. I am a pirate KING!

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  12. I loved reading about everyone's high points. My summer has had a few disappointments (canceled trips and visits) but it has still been nice. Last week I met Deb Romano at one of Lucy/ Roberta's live book events in Milford. Irwin drove down with me and after the book talk we ate at a pub in downtown Milford. Since Deb and I live only 1 hour away from one another, (except for the horrendous traffic both coming and going) we'd talked about doing this for a long time. I hope to be able to attend live events with other favorite authors, especially in the Northeast.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:46 AM

      Yes I agreed—it’s really fun to read these! And wow, standing ovation—so much fun for you to see everyone. And may I say—it’s touching to me that Jungle Red helped bring you together. Xxxxx

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    2. Judy, it was such fun to see you and DebRo together!

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    3. Love it when our JRWs get to meet in person!

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  13. I had a medical procedure that was to eliminate my loss of balance and so far I have not fallen and I don't wake up needing heat therapy treatment. So this is a wonderful thing. Now if they can figure out the mobility issues.

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    1. Dru, so glad to hear they at least got the balance issue sorted.

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    2. So glad that procedure worked for you, Dru!

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    3. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:47 AM

      Hurray, darling Dru! One step—literally and philosophically—at a time….. xxxxx

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    4. What good news, Dru. On to the next issue!

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    5. Good to hear, Dru. I have positional vertigo, but it's benign. I just have to be careful getting up. So glad you're feeling better and good luck with the mobility issues.

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    6. The Epley maneuver worked for me. A little uncomfortable, but it worked.

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  14. My daughter graduated - with honors - from the University of Pittsburgh.

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    1. Congratulations, Liz! What a great accomplishment for her!

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    2. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:48 AM

      What a massive massive milestone! Congratulations!

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  15. I had a weird summer--a swollen foot led to a twisted back, a funny gait, and more back pain until the summer was almost one blur of pain. The best part was my grand-nephew, now seven. Walking (very slowly) with me as far as I could comfortably go, conversing on everything under the sun. Always up for a walk 'in nature', as he put it. (Thanks to my doc, pain free now!). And a bonus, our little 'kitten' who lives in the garage--I keep her company when her brothers are off exploring. She will lie down and flip over so I can rub her white tummy, sleep with her head on my foot. One of these days when I go inside, I'm going to open the door for her and it will be 5 cats and a dog in the house.

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:50 AM

      What a complicated summer—so you are better now? And it sounds like you bravely made the best of it. And so wise—kittens always help!

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    2. Thanks, Hank! Yes, all better. A lesson I need to memorize: keep ahead of the pain! And don't push myself too hard. You'd think, at my age, I'd know better. But it was summer and I wanted to be doing stuff!

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    3. So glad to hear you're feeling better, Flora.

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    4. Glad to hear you are feeling better!

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  16. Butterflies! Monarch Butterflies! They have been labelled an endangered species in Canada. We are lucky enough to have a milkweed patch, and have collected the small larva, raised them in semi-captivity (an enclosed screened area outside where they are safe from predators), then watched them emerge and fly away. Yesterday and the day before we released 14 butterflies each day. In 2 weeks, we will start tagging them as that will be the generation that will fly south. It is beauty and magic in your hand!

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    1. Hank Phillippi RyanAugust 29, 2022 at 8:51 AM

      Wow that’s amazing! Fantastic! Send me a photo if you can and I will post it. Wow, that’s wonderful in every way.

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    2. I don't know how to do that. email me with an address and I can send it. Take out the spaces in the name: s p a r e @seaside.ns.ca

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    3. Margo, that is so utterly awesome! Good for you.

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    4. Thank you so much for doing this. I live in AZ and they migrate through us to Mexico - it breaks my heart that they've been diminishing in number. I have a random milkweed vine that they love.

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    5. Jenn, Apparently the ones that are from our district go down the eastern seaboard and try to cross the Gulf of Mexico which is a long and often treacherous flight. The ones from central Canada fly down through Arizona and have a much easier time of making it to their destination. Still, we live in hope that some of them will make it. Six are out this morning – their wings should be dry enough now for a release.

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    6. Love that you do that. (When I had the house, I encouraged milkweed to spread).But HOW do you tag them?

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  17. I borrowed the Cuisinart ice cream maker from the local library for two great weeks and made some wonderful ice cream. The best was a raspberry chocolate chip to die for. How can you go wrong with fresh raspberries, cream, sugar, and chocolate chips?

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    1. How cool that you can borrow an ice cream maker from the library! We have that one, but didn't make ice cream all summer...

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  18. By far the biggest thing in my summer was retiring from full-time employment! Still adjusting to that, but overall I give it a big thumbs up.

    Currently isolating with covid, but the vaxes and boosters seem to have done their job and it has been more of an inconvenience than a threat. Hoping it moves on out of here without any lingering issues.

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    1. Susan, fingers crossed for you!

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    2. Oh, keep us posted..crossing fingers it comes and goes and then you are safe! xxx

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  19. I learned the name of the curious bird that kept me company part of my walks. It is so funny, it walked in front of me on the side of the road, than stoped a little as if waiting for me and walked again. It is very cute . It is called a killdeer.
    Also I loved picking lots of raspberries and blueberries and most of all eating them.
    Danielle

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    1. Aren't killdeer adorable? If they have a nest or babies--which they lay right on rocks--they will feign a broken wing and lead a predator away by letting it think it could get an easy meal. When the predator gets close, they fly, leading the predator even further from the vulnerable eggs or chicks. So smart.

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    2. SO cute! The Curious Bird. A great title! And does it say "killddeer killdeer"?

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    3. Hank, yes, it does! We were on a dig one summer with killdeer in an adjacent field. My usual crew pranked a very disagreeable know-it-all who asked why the birds were called killdeer. They told him that killdeer mob deer and carry them away. He believed them. Face palm!

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  20. I so enjoyed the red tailed hawk family that grew up in the golf course where I walk or jog most mornings. The mom and dad had been captured at the Portland Airport a few years ago and relocated 100 miles south. They both had orange identifying tags. They had made it back here (I live about 10 minutes from PDX) and apparently made the round trip between Portland and Eugene more than once. The juvies were as big as the parents when I first saw them and very loud. I would hear the calls and look up in the trees until I found them. Such spectacular creatures! They have now gone off to their own adult adventures (I'm hoping NOT interfering with air traffic at PDX). The raptor group advises that there's a good possibility the parents will stick around and nest here again next spring. I hope so!

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  21. Most of my summer was about avoiding the heat and working to finish my WIP. By far my biggest thrill was sharing writing panel duties with you at Killer Nashville and seeing you so deservedly honored.

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    1. Tell us more about your WIP, Gay!! Title? Timing? Continuation of series? Looking forward to it!!

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    2. Judy, it's Book 3 of the mystery series. It's been a tough one for me, but getting closer to the finish line. Thanks for asking!

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    3. AWw..yes, it was such a joy to see you! (And thank you--I am still floating!) xx

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  22. Amanda Le Rougetel here: We finally made it up to the cottage on Lake Winnipeg for an extended stay. Hadn’t managed it the past two summers. I had forgotten how wonderful it is to sit and listen to the lake. So good. So glad to still be here and rushing back to work… :)

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    1. Oops: and NOT be rushing back to work.

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    2. The big thrill for me was that my new book, Deadly Verse, a mystery about a stolen poem by Portuguese poet, was released early this month. I'm still excited about that. Author copies arrived two days ago.

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    3. Yes, being at peace and in peace--nothing as good as that, right? Lovely!

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  23. No high points. No more low points than usual. Survived.

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    1. Actually, one of my sisters sent me a used copy of "He Went For a Walk" which remains charming nearly 70 years after I first read it, and of course I bring a different sensibility to it now.

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    2. Dorothy Evelyn Smith wrote it.

      Also, my other sister and I had an interesting adventure. She left her phone on the car roof and then hurriedly drove off during a downpour. We heard a thunk, realized it was the phone falling, tried retracing our steps, no luck. Used my phone to call Verizon and AT&T and Apple. Made appointments. The rain stopped and she went out to look around one more time, came back laughing-- phone had slipped into an indentation between the rear window and the trunk frame (Yay Volvo for clever design!). Lots of laughter as we canceled all the appointments.

      And yesterday, after another heavy rainstorm, a full rainbow! 8

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  24. Reading everyone's comments, I become convinced that no matter what you do, or don't get to do, summer is special just because of the warmth, the greenery, the sunshine and the freedom of the season.

    (This offer void in places like Arizona! :-)

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  25. I finally got out in my new town to get my hair cut. I always wait until it is driving me nuts. I went to a barbershop staffed by three ladies. I had been warned no shampooing or styling, but a cut was all I wanted or needed. I got a wonderful cut for $13! THIRTEEN DOLLARS! So happy!

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  26. This has been another weird summer, with so many friends sick or injured that plans got changed or canceled frequently. But last night made up for it, in spades.

    A dear friend, 63 years old, and never married before, made the love of his life his wife, in their beautiful garden next to the fish pond. We were lucky enough to be a part of the small group, sharing their joy. Chris and Dawn (53) found each other via OkayCupid, and knew almost instantly that they were meant for one another. Chris is a retired architect and Dawn, a very talented sculpture artist, also runs a local organization that helps differently abled artists find ways to use their talents. She has three adult kids, and Chris is their biggest fan. When she moved into Chris's amazing house, he immediately helped her move her kiln into a workroom he created for her in his basement. Dawn is also one of the smartest people we've ever had in book club, adding truly insightful comments on theme, in particular. She's quickly become one of my favorite people.

    After the ceremony outside (where it was a sweltering 90 degrees), they had a catered sit-down dinner inside the house, with gorgeous food and table settings. The best part was between dinner and cake, when everyone turned over their place settings to find their new seat at another table. We loved that!

    One of the most fun aspects of the evening was asking one another how we knew the couple. Chris was one of the best of the ballroom dancers in a wonderful group called The Flying Cloud, which disbanded before we met, but I'd known of it. I enjoyed meeting other members of the troupe last night, and learning that they had performed in a couple of movies, including the North and South TV miniseries! If you are interested, here's a video of one of the troupe's final performances here in town before the director moved to California to teach at Stanford. I think the school still exists, but not the troupe. Anyway, Chris's comic performance starts at about 12:05. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7O0nWdOK1c

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    1. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

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    2. Wow, this is absolutely wonderful in every way. Aww...so inspirational! (Ahd I know it's not the main point, but that place setting idea is brilliant.)

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    3. It really was, especially since once we all sat down there was not much room in their house to get up and mingle. Couples started out together and then were separated to meet new friends individually.

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    4. What fun, Karen. And thanks for sharing the video!

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    5. Sweet story, Karen. That is why I always want to read what you contribute here. You always lift us up!!

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    6. And what a kind thing to say, Judy. Thank you.

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  27. Like Hallie, I want to see Harry Potter world! Haven't been to Orlando in years, but I see that in the near future. While my summer was a bummer, the fall is looking up. We're planning a trip north to see the kids and grandkids. Also have a new book coming out later this year. Thanks, all, for sharing your summer. Also love the pictures!

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    1. YAY! And yes, fall is looking UP! xx

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    2. Definitely planning to attend Killer Nashville next year. This year didn't work out. Hope you're there, again!

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  28. Looks like you had a fun summer, Hank! I got to travel India and visit home, so I really enjoyed doing that :)

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    1. Oh, I bet everyone was so happy to see you! xxx And hurray for THE BLUE BAR--let us know when you want to come back and tell Jungle Rad all about your fabulous book!~

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  29. I went to my 58th (how is that even possible when I am still only 23?) high school class reunion. Our class of 64 students has dwindled somewhat but 17 of us showed up and had a wonderful time. I never went to the early reunions but started going about 5 years ago. This is an informal party at one member's house. We plan to get together annually and I so look forward to it each year.

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    1. We would have had our 60th last hear but 2021 sort of got away from everybody.

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  30. My biggest thrills this summer were from watching the wildlife on our property. It began in the spring when we discovered that the herd of deer that used to winter in the deer wintering area had moved into our back fields and woods. Seems the lumbermen had clearcut the wintering area and last fall and the deer sought shelter on our adjacent property. It was thrilling to hike back and see a full field of white tail deer. Deer are so cautious that I never got a photo, but they are engraved in my mind's eye. Since then the fields have been full of bear, birds, and the ever popular raccoons!

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  31. I am not there quite yet, but am one step closer to being published. The anthology that included my essay is at the publisher. A long time ago, Hallie encouraged my saying: "but they will by your words". They are, really edited, but they are my words.

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    1. YAAAYY!!!! And we LOVE editing, right? Cannot wait to hear all about it! xx

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  32. I am jealous of the trip to Scotland, Roberta!
    I took my 11 and 13 year old kids to Canada. We drove from Michigan to Toronto, then Montreal and Quebec City, and home via Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It was a fun trip (when the kids were behaving), and nice to get out of the country again.
    ~Kimberly

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    1. Oh, traveling with kids! That's a whole nother blog--hmm..watch for it later this week maybe!

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  33. A highlight was my husband's and my two weeks in western Normandy, which included visiting the magnificent Mont Saint-Michel. But Hank asked for ONE wonderful thing, and that has to be our son Tommy getting hired to start his PhD under the professor he most wanted to work with at the Zürich Institute of Technology. He's very happy about that, so that makes me very happy. (And of course it adds to my happiness that Zürich is only an hour by train from where we live in Bern!)

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    1. Oh, how absolutely wonderful! Congratulations, that's great. (And we are always happy to hear TWO good things--especially when they are so special!) xx What's his PhD in?

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    2. Mathematical physics. Those aren't MY genes--my husband Peter works with computers.

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  34. Lovely to see how others spent the summer. I had one major disappointment when I didn’t get to go on a trip because others insisted on traveling with Covid. But the town I live in closes off a street by the lake every Thursday evening for Music lakeside. They set up a stage and professional musicians perform. People bring chairs, children, grandparents, and food. There is dancing in the street. It’s wonderful. I heard a lot of good music.
    Then in the day there is biking and kayaking. So for me autumn can take it’s time getting here.
    I did quite a bit of baking, found a recipe for chocolate loaf cake that can be sliced and frozen for when I just need a piece of cake. And usually have unbaked scoops of my favorite cookies in the freezer. They are dark chocolate chip, toasted almond, and dried cherries simmered in amaretto. They’re healthy.
    And of course I read books by you lovely generous women. Thank you.

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