Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer 2014

Ah, Summer 2014: we hardly knew ye! You came in like a hurricane and stormed out like a mouse. Where did those hundred days go?

In retrospect, we here at Chez Hopper had a pretty decent three-month swing tilted closer to that great orb in the sky. The more I think about it, the more we did / accomplished / experienced. Mostly the girls, that is, and I’ve been labeling Summer 2014 as The Greatest Summer Ever whenever I talk about it with them. But I had some fun too.

May I share some highlights?

Little One and Patch had weeklong vacations at their grandparents in Pennsylvania and their other ones in Hilton Head. They both went to separate camps (Little One went to two, actually), did all sorts of field trips, and had blasts as we drove them all over the county.

I repainted the master bedroom, the largest room in our house, over the course of a week while the ladies were down south on vacation.

We had a new roof put on the house – hopefully that dining room leak will be plugged!

I began the summer with a relaxing weekend at my father-in-law’s, reading The Hobbit in a cozy armchair while he, his daughter, and granddaughters sweated it out on the beach. We followed it up a week later with a Yankee game, in which the said Yankees got a rare spanking from Minnesota.

Patch graduated from kindergarten. Onward and upward!

To my everlasting shame I cajoled my buddy to see Godzilla with me. Fortunately, we followed it up with the Planet of the Apes sequel, which personally saved movie-going for me.

For the Fourth of July we attended the next-town-over’s fireworks display on a large field behind their library and municipal buildings (the field holds three baseball diamonds and two soccer fields). A couple thousand people were there. A hundred-foot-long American flag dangled between the outstretched ladders of two fire engines. Live bands performed. We sat in lawn chairs and watched a pyrotechnic show literally fifty feet above our heads. Gunpowder got in my eye. Shreds of burnt paper rained down upon us.

Saturday afternoon matinees with my little ones continued: Watership Down, A Man Called Horse, The Creature Walks Among Us, Fantastic Voyage, a couple of Vincent Price flicks. And, yes, they held me down and forced me to watch Frozen one afternoon in early August. (Note: Patch, age five and a chronic nightmare-sufferer, was not present at any of these that may have even hinted at something scary.)

Locally, and tragically, a police officer in town was killed in the line of duty. I believe this was the first ever for my nice, little, peaceful, middle-class hamlet. Happened a block away from my house. Terrible and sad. There was a funeral procession in town, driving past the officer’s house, and ending at our church for the service. Chris Christie was in attendance. My wife was in the crowd and teared up. I was almost interviewed live on the news, but I had nothing to say.

More sadness: our church pastor of over ten years was reassigned. He was the man who visited me a few times when I had all my surgeries in the hospital five years ago. He baptized both our children. He suggested I become an EMHC at our church. He is a good man. We wish him well, and wrote him a heart-felt letter of encouragement.

However, his replacement seems like a worthy man himself. Can’t wait to learn more about him.

On the literary front, my favorite form of escapism, I have to admit I had a good summer. Starting off with Tolkien I immediately headed over to Richard Adams, re-reading Watership Down for the first time in decades. A couple of sea thrillers – Shipkiller and Clive Cussler’s Treasure were perfect summer reading. I also dipped my toes into the classical canon – The Iliad – and was floored. Seven hundred pages of a pair of Robert Silverberg’s Majipoor novels gave me my well-deserved vacation of the summer.

Plus, I finally found – after some diligent online searching – my beloved 1960s physics book from my youth! A local library had it so I picked it up and spent the entire evening absorbed in it. Now there’s just two others on my all-time list (a vampire book and a comic book) that I need to rediscover, and my reading history will be complete.

And all this was done while working full-time, forty-hour weeks plus overtime, with no days off the entire summer! Workhorse Hopper, providing for the family!

Which reminds me: I need a real vacation!

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