For many this is turning into the hottest summer ever. Pictures of folks baking on the East Coast or Mid West fill the evening news. Here in Arizona the summer monsoon rains have been too sporadic to green up the lawns or lessen the humidity for even a few hours. Summer is in full bloom (or full withering). My satisfying retirement is getting a little brown around the edges.
The heat doesn't bother me terribly because there is no point in complaining about something that is a fact of life. I suppose someone in Minot, North Dakota or Duluth, Minnesota feels the same about cold and snow. If you live there that's what you get. That being said, I will be spending a month next summer in Oregon. After 27 years it is time for a nice, long, summer break.
No, what puts me in a summer slump is the cessation of most activities I enjoy. It is not the time of year for picnics, long walks, or strolling the paths of the Desert Botanical Gardens. My back yard sits empty most of the time, except for playing with our dog Bailey for brief periods of time.
I miss several church-oriented activities that stop for the summer. Our small group is a made up of a dozen great people who enjoy each other's company. From September until May we get together twice a month. But, with many of our members gone on vacations on and off all summer, trying to keep it going now is impossible.
I take part in a weekly Bible study at a friend's home that also stops for the summer for the same reason. We are a handful of folks who are good friends and are willing to discuss and argue issues of importance. I miss those exchanges.
Betty and I enjoy seeing traveling Broadway theater performances and the occasional symphony concert. Both have shut down as the city empties out. The theater stages and orchestra seats will re-fill in September.
I will be the first to admit I watch much too much Netflix in the summer. Yes, I have stopped watching regular TV, though the Olympics will draw me back. Except for the basic channels we had cable TV removed almost two years ago and haven't really missed it. But, watching a movie and a documentary on Netflix every night is really no different than cable TV is it? I am spending too many hours each night streaming something. It is too hot to have dinner outside, so there we sit, eating and watching.
How do I fill in the summer slump? On a positive note, I start guitar lessons this week. I have tried to teach myself using books and DVDs. But, I always get to a certain point, get frustrated at my progress and quit, only to restart a few months later. Regular reader, Chuck, convinced me that paying for lessons is the best way to get over that hump and really enjoy my playing. So, stand back, Eric Clapton. The new guitar star is tuning up.
Blogging helps tremendously. The need to produce three fresh posts a week keeps my mind active. As regular readers know, I am forming some really important friendships with fellow bloggers. There is always something to learn so I stay busy. And, I have begun my new book. That will occupy plenty of time between now and it's expected availability this fall.
Three blogging friends have produced (or will shortly) books. Sonia Marsh, Dave Bernard, and later this fall, Galen Pearl, are joining the ranks of published authors. Each has asked me to read and review their efforts. I love to do that, especially for friends. So, in addition to my three or four mysteries and current affairs books on my nightstand, I am adding the ones from Sonia, Dave, and Galen.
Betty and I are exploring different restaurants in the area this summer. We tend to get stuck going to the same handful of places. Now, we look for a restaurant in Old Town Scottsdale or downtown Phoenix that serves a cuisine we haven't tried before. If it has happy hour prices on appetizers even better. It takes motivation to get a little dressed up and drive an extra distance. But, the results have been enjoyable.
We have switched to a mostly vegetarian menu for our evening meals. Posts from Sharon at Midlife Mom Musings blog have convinced me to give it a try. We will still have meat as the main course one time a week. But, we will give vegetable-based soups and main dishes a shot.
That is how I handle the annual summer slump. What about you? In most of the country this is the time for all sorts of outdoor activities. Has the excessive heat put a damper in those plans or are you unaffected? Do you sort of shut down for the summer and gear back up after Labor Day? or, is this when you get all sorts of projects done?
Let me know. Maybe you'll have an idea or activity that gets my summer blood pumping and my satisfying retirement moving forward.