As we approach the first “official” day of fall next week, I’m reflecting on a summer that was memorable in ways I didn’t expect it to be. To be honest, summer is far from my favorite season. My dad died four summers ago, and bright, hot sunshine reminds me of the day he died. Now, I sometimes feel gloomy on the cheeriest summer days.
I love jeans and jackets and soup. School supplies and warm blankets. I love fall foliage in the North Carolina mountains. Campfires and Christmas and the first few weeks of a brand new year. I love the rejuvenation of spring. But this summer was something different.
what i celebrated
I turned 32 this summer. We talked about trying to take a small trip to mark the occasion, but decided it was safer and wiser to stay home. We did go to a restaurant for the first time in months to celebrate, though! The Melting Pot was a special place to us during our first few years of marriage, and I enjoyed the opportunity to return on my birthday.
things i ATE
I love to be in the kitchen, testing out new recipes or making old favorites. As quarantine continued and began to feel stifling, I found myself trying more new recipes than normal. It became something to look forward to when everything else felt negative. I have a tradition of making my own birthday cake, and this year I made this one. These rosemary chicken burgers were also added to our regular rotation over the summer, along with an insanely delicious kali spera feta dip.
HOME PROJECTS WE COMPLETED
Since we didn’t take a trip for my birthday, we funneled the money into a much-needed home renovation. Brandon took a week off work and re-skinned our deck. There’s quite a long story here that I haven’t written about yet, but I will soon. It was a family affair, and Brandon’s dad, brothers, and sister-in-law helped us to complete the project! I’m so thankful that it’s finished (minus staining it after the new wood is fully seasoned), and that we can enjoy it now that the temperatures are cooling down.
A couple of weekends ago we bought a chainsaw and cleaned up some of our yard and naturalized areas. There’s so much more to do, but we’ve largely neglected the outside of our home since moving in. It’s nice to start thinking about how we can improve things. Our next step is to get quotes to remove some dead trees that are a little too large for us to safely bring down ourselves.
where we traveled
We didn’t expect to travel over the summer, but Brandon’s grandmother passed away near the end of June and we traveled to Alabama for her funeral. I met a lot of Brandon’s extended family for the first time, and we were able to stop and visit with his other grandmother in Knoxville, Tennessee, on the way home.
what i read
June brought a reckoning moment, as deep-seated social justice issues came to light in a loud, demanding, and necessary way. To further my education on injustices against POC (which, admittedly, was sorely lacking), I joined a virtual book club and together we read “Me and White Supremacy” by Layla F. Saad. I highly, highly recommend it. It was uncomfortable and challenging to read and reflect through prompted journaling. It helped me greatly. If you are interested in reading it, I suggest ordering through Shelves, a black-owned independent bookstore in Charlotte, NC. I’m also happy to loan my copy to local friends.
This summer, I also zoomed through “Born to Shine” by the lovely and resilient Ashley Lemieux and “How to Be an American Housewife” by Margaret Dilloway. I haven’t read for pleasure in years, for the most part, and it was really nice to carve out time to read. I hope I can keep it up for the rest of the year!
what i watched
Brandon and I watch far too much television—a problem we’ve long ignored. We spent a lot of time this summer working through the list I keep on my phone of movies and shows to watch. Any time a friend or colleague tells me to watch something, on the list it goes. Some of our favorites from the summer:
- Ford v Ferrari
- Kim’s Convenience
- Just Mercy
- Chef’s Table BBQ
- Lovecraft Country (still in progress!)
- Roman Holiday
- Palm Springs
- The Umbrella Academy
what i learned
On a whim one Sunday morning, I decided to learn French. I’m using Duolingo, and I love it. The daily lessons are short and manageable, and I’m obsessed with maintaining my streak (40 days and counting!). I talk constantly about how much I love it, and I’m certain Brandon is sick of listening. My favorite phrase I’ve learned so far is je travaille beaucoup (I work a lot).
I also learned how to groom Schmidt this summer (kind of). ?
What I played on repeat
My favorite band, NEEDTOBREATHE, released a new album last month and it’s one of their very best. My favorite tracks are “Survival,” “Banks,” “Seasons,” and “Bottom of a Broken Heart.” I’ve also been listening to a lot of Ben Platt, and have watched his Netflix special at least 5 times.
On the Horizon
Fall is going to bring some cautious, safe travel for 50 in 5 that I’ve carefully been planning for weeks. And I still have so many books on my list to read before the end of the year. We’ll see how far I make it. ?