Surgery? Recovery? Not being allowed to do anything?
Who saw that coming?
I'm lucky to have summer breaks. It's nice to have a break between semesters and it's great to have days to spend with Blue and Violet and to have more time with G. We start looking forward to our summer breaks around the first day of school each year. As the spring semester starts to fizzle out, we begin talking about plans for the summer. We had the Summer of Waterfalls, the Summer of Adventure and probably a few other summers I can't remember off the top of my head. Coming off of last summer playing tennis and kayaking as much as possible and being on the beach a ton, this summer had it's work cut out for it. In May I loaded up the Netflix queue with must see movies for the kids and started thinking of what activities we could get into this year.
This was our first pic of summer. We were leaving the last day of school after field day. It was hot, we were tired and we were pretty done with school.
But waffles make everything better. Oh, I think we did the Summer of Waffles once too. That was a good one. So we started our new summer schedule sleeping a little later and eating a bigger breakfast once a week.
We decided to get a pool this year. Not big enough for swimming laps, but just the right size for cooling off in the early summer heat. It was a nice addition to the front porch, which we reclaimed for use this summer. We have a big front porch but we only had some crappy chairs and a bench swing out there. It was too hot and spidery during the summer so after the first part of May, we abandoned it....until this year. We tossed the chairs, hung the hammock up and even moved a table and chairs out there. With a fan and some citronella candles, we were set for summer.
One of the best features of the front porch is our community of hummingbirds. They're so fast and active it's hard to get a count but we think we have at least 20 hummingbirds. They're Ruby Throated Hummingbirds if you're into that sort of thing. And they're very friendly. If you're still and quiet, they'll ignore you and go about their business. From what we observe, their business consists mostly of drinking clear Kool-Aid and fighting. It's so fun to watch. We spent a good amount of our summer in the hammock watching the birds. We had a couple at our old house years ago and they worked themselves into our story. If you pay attention, you'll find them in lots of drawings and sculptures. I'll just never tell you why.
Speaking of art...I was less than 100% at the start of summer but I still needed to get some work done. I managed to get three new sculptures made between hammock stops.
We took our early summer beach trip and discovered that not being able to do too much is kinda perfect for going on vacation. We put our feet up pretty much all week and had a blast. Each night G and I sat outside and watched day turn to night. More on that later.
Meeting our new friend Yun was a summer highlight for sure. After watching her hug strangers for a couple of days on the beach, I made a point to meet her after one of my morning runs. She hugged me and prayed with me in Korean and then she went about doing the same for literally every other person on the beach. She is a ray of sunshine We got to see her again last week too. G got to experience the hug and the prayer and then Violet did too. I'm still in awe of Yun. I want to be like her.
A couple of weeks after our first vacation we got to go on a "work" trip. G was on official business and I was goofing off. We ditched the kids and had a great week together. I am not good with my body not wanting to do what I want it to do and at this point in the summer, I was struggling. We got stuck walking a few blocks in a thunderstorm and I stepped out in front of a couple of cars to try to get to the hotel awning quicker. I was lucky that they stopped to let me cross. I told my body to run and it immediately said no. Thanks to the nice drivers for not flattening me.
I got to see a ton of Dali paintings at the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg and I would highly recommend it to anyone interested in art or cool things. Dali has always fascinated me and the museum gave me a more clear understanding of why.
Running was a highlight of the summer too. Those early mornings of silence and miles were wonderful. I was more grateful with every run. Especially because it seemed like each week I was less and less sure I could do it. I was even more grateful because I knew this day was coming. This was a sunrise run on the day of my surgery. My last run for at least 6 weeks. It was beautiful in so many ways.
I hope to never, ever have surgery again but I can tell you that G and I laughed a lot during the week after. I know this is healthy and probably really good for lots of reasons, but it also hurt really bad every time I laughed. G and the kids thought this was funny and I'm pretty sure they all tried extra hard to make me laugh and double over in pain. There's probably not a more literal case of being afraid my side was going to split open. Then, trying not to laugh made me laugh even more. It was terrible. And hilarious.
So then I was forbidden from doing everything. The kids and I did a lot of staying home. I drew a bit and kept the hummingbirds in Kool-Aid. As far as activity, that's about all I could do. I couldn't even get in the hammock until last week.
So I read books and watched movies. I made it through several books this summer and enjoyed the challenge of trying to read and stay awake at the same time. I'm not great at doing both at the same time. Movies were easier. Blue is a little filmmaker and he puts these goofy videos together that he and his cousins make for his Youtube channel. He also makes well thought out videos for the annual film festival and for fun. He got interested in Hitchcock movies and the old tv series that was in reruns when I was a kid. He and Violet also have my sense of humor so in addition to showing them intense suspense mysteries and really great films, we're getting into age appropriate (or almost age appropriate) comedies. They love Mr. Bean, Ace Ventura, anything Adam Sandler and anything Will Ferrell does that isn't obscene. For most of the summer, we were watching 2 movies each week and talking about the importance of making people laugh and telling a good story. It was pretty awesome to spend this time with them and share these things in common. I mean, we have to teach good taste to our kids, right?
While I was forbidden from running after surgery, the doc did say I could walk. Knowing my love of sweets and eating in general, I knew I needed to find some way of burning calories and keeping the legs working. A week after surgery, we instituted mandatory morning walks. The kids liked it when I was walking super slow those first couple of weeks but the pace picked up and the mileage increased to my regular 3 miles. But they stuck with me and did at least 2 miles every morning. The silence of my exercise time moved over and made room for 2 miles of talks with Blue and Violet about random things. I love how crazy conversations with kids can be. You start out listening to the latest thing they learned about Fortnite (apparently a video game?) and a minute later you're telling them relevant stories about Papa Mac. Then you're getting a detailed Christmas list (in August) that moves without any sort of transition into a full on discussion of race relations in America. I love it.
One of my favorite things about this summer was being forced to relax. Even before surgery, I had to take lots of breaks and sometimes just lie down for a minute before I could move on to the next task. I don't like people knowing too much about me so I hid this from everyone except G. No need to worry the kiddos or have to explain your health 40 times in a week. When I was around people during the summer, I put on my best face and if it hurt really bad, I'd slip away and lie down in the floor for a second. Later in the day was worse but this made it perfect for front porching with G. By the time she got home from work and we had dinner, we were both done. We'd hit the hammock and rest. Normally when I'm sitting still my mind is racing with all the things I still need to do before bed, but this summer I just couldn't do those things and I accepted it. We slowed the pace and put our feet up a lot more. At the beach G and I would go out on the balcony with our books and read until it was dark with the ocean whispering in our ears. At home we'd balance on the hammock together and scroll through the internets and talk.
The kids and I start school this week. Summer is done. We didn't hike or kayak a single time. We didn't play tennis or ride the four wheeler. But I don't feel like we missed out on anything. I think we spent our summer vacation well. I'm a lucky guy.