Summer is here at last — sort of. It’s still chilly and cloudy in the mornings, but afternoons are warm and mild.

August is a time of celebration for us. Jerry’s birthday is the 3rd. He gets to be the same age as me on that day. Yeah! I made a cake. That is something I do only about once a decade. As I assembled the ingredients — I used a recipe from The Joy of Cooking for a one bowl cake — I thought about the times when I was a child that I “helped” my stepmother make cakes. It was a pleasant memory, and it occurred to me to wonder whether she made cakes to amuse me. My relationship with my stepmother was troubled; I didn’t like her, but I thought  as I whisked the cake batter, why not give her the benefit of the doubt in this case. Perhaps she was trying to please her new husband’s 8 year old child. I always licked the bowl and the mixing spoons as a little girl, and I did so again as an old woman. I am still convinced that the uncooked cake batter tastes better than the finished product.

I couldn’t find any birthday candles, and anyhow I couldn’t have got 79 of them on the cake. The roses came from our garden.

I made the cake and frosting, grew the roses

Blowing out the candle

Other reasons to celebrate in August: Our wedding anniversary is the 9th. And I have teeth at last! The final step of the implants happened on the 5th. For 5 months I looked witchy, with a wide gap in my smile. Back to normal with a mouthful of teeth.

No more gaps

As one should do to celebrate, I had a party. There were 15 guests, including my friends, Diane and Pat, who have been working like beavers on the Ferry Task Force to find solutions to the long term ferry problems of our island. They have finally presented their report to the County Council, so the party was celebrating that too. I bought live oysters at Barlene’s, because Diane loves them and her husband, Mike, doesn’t, so she hardly ever gets them. Mike likes steak, so I grilled steaks. I thought I had spoiled the steaks when I opened the grill to find them on fire, but they turned out charred on the outside and red and juicy on the inside. Perfect. Salads and side dishes complemented the menu. Bobby and the other Pat brought delicious desserts —  almond tart and blueberry tart. It was a fine meal. After dinner, in the long summer twilight, some of the guests played croquet in the back yard,

Did somebody break a rule?

Diane won that round, but Russ won in the end

some stayed in the kitchen and talked,

Bobbie. Pat and Rich

and some sat out on the deck. The poodles love parties where there is an abundance of laps to sit on.

Fluffy in Cathy's lap

The yellow leaves that have begun to litter the yard remind us that summer doesn’t last, winter will come soon enough. Jerry has been felling trees, splitting wood for the fire and I have been doing the easy part, stacking it. He built us a new woodshed at the beginning of the summer. It is almost full.

Almost full

I have been harvesting vegetables — peas, zucchini, beets, cauliflower, and tonight the first ripe tomato!

Every few days we talk to Bert on the phone. He is waiting for his appointment with a specialist in infectious diseases, and will finally get to see one in the first week of September. I find this shocking — they say he isn’t sick enough to be seen immediately — and yet a few weeks ago they were predicting immanent death. He is elderly and increasingly frail. I tried to get him to go to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona where they do research on Valley Fever, but he is afraid the trip would be too much for him.

All through this Jerry and I have had our imaginations buried in the 19th century. We have been reading a biography of Queen Victoria until the time of Albert’s death. It describes the minutia of life in the palaces of England, the excesses of splendor, of superfluous decoration and elegance, the obsession with rank and precedence, (Parliament actually occupied itself with determining the order in which members of the aristocracy would walk in to dinner). With all of this you learn that they lived in castles where the chimneys smoked, the windows were dirty, the drains were clogged and there was rotting garbage in the kitchens. When guests came to visit the Queen they often could not find the rooms they were supposed to occupy and there were no servants to assist them. This was not because there was an insufficient number of servants, but because the people in charge — there were 3 of them, the Lord Chamberlain, the Lord Steward and the Master of the Horse — each controlled a different but often overlapping cadre of servants. To make matters worse, the 3 people in charge were themselves lords and were political appointees who had little interest in close supervision of their offices. So when the Queen asked why the dining room fires were not lit she was told, “You see, properly speaking, it is not our fault; for the Lord Steward lays the fire only, and the Lord Chamberlain lights it.”

For all of her long reign Victoria was stunningly unaware of the terrible suffering of her subjects during the worst of the excesses of the industrial revolution. There was sickness and starvation in the land and children of 5 were working 10 or more hours a day.

That’s our bedtime reading and conversation. I intend to buy a Kindle before we to to Alaska in September so I we can explore new or old subjects as we read. One of the many advantages of old age is that we can study a subject or a time in history that intrigues us for as long as our interest is engaged but whenever we like we can move on to another topic.

The pleasures of summer will last a while longer. The birds at the feeders are still the summer birds. The sun shines on the house finch.

House finch

Juncos will come anon.

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20 Responses to Summer

  1. Jan says:

    It’s good to know that there were bureaucrats who said it isn’t their fault/job in what we consider to be more responsible times.

  2. Tabor says:

    I must say that I never saw such a lovely group of healthy, handsome and beautiful folks. It must be the air and water. Here we are all sweaty and steamy…so pardon me for not posting any photos of us.

  3. Anne, you have the lovliest smile, engaging and infectious.

    I heard a house finch sing this morning as I left for work, a song I’d never heard before. It was a cheerful tune and started my day off just right.

    Happy birthday to Jerry!

  4. maria says:

    Happy wedding anniversary! And what a wonderful smile you have … fully gapless now. 🙂

  5. Marja-Leena says:

    Happy birthday to Jerry, and Happy 5th anniversary to you both! You look beautiful and happy.

  6. Hattie says:

    Happy Birthday, Jerry! We feel so lucky to have met you and spent time with you on your Paradise, Lummi Island. And with your new smile, you look fabulous, Anne! ?And I do hope things will turn out all right for your brother in law.

  7. Annie says:

    You look gorgeous Anne, and your smile too! Ah croquet! What a perfect summer game! I think you have caught the best of the season very well. And I envy you your lovely woodshed, I wish I had a Jerry! 😉

  8. Ernestine says:

    I agree with Tabor
    What a handsome and healthy group of people.
    Your smile is wonderful.
    I envy your woodshed.
    Life is good….

  9. Brighid says:

    You all look wonderful and full of life….what more could one want, not a thing I’m thinking!

  10. wisewebwoman says:

    All is bathed in a glow – including your smile, Anne. I love your woodshed, Mine is stacked in the old barn ready for the winter, I must take a pic too!!

  11. Pauline says:

    Good friends, beautiful flowers, reasons to celebrate, happy smiles – sounds good to me!

  12. With another of your everything-in-the-soup posts you’ve invited all of us to share a delightful meal–to stretch the metaphor too far! It’s good to see such an upbeat approach to August, a birth month I share with Jerry and have always felt did not get the attention of those other eleven. That does sound like an only child I note.

    Great photos too and a model for enjoying life as age advances. Thanks, Anne.

  13. Linda says:

    What fun pictures! The cake and roses are sheer perfection!

  14. K says:

    Great photos! Great smiles!

    I’m glad you gave Edythe the benefit of the doubt. I agree with you that she was probably trying to please you. As a stepmother myself I know how hard it is. I fell in love with my step-grandchildren and I think they with me, but the natural figures in their family put a stop to that free-love, which I heard from the mouths of the babes themselves when they told me I wasn’t really part of the family, that I wasn’t blood. (We are now working on keeping our love for each other secret. I know this because whenever their parents, my husbands daughter and husband, are in the room the babes barely look me in the eye, but when they have a moment alone with me they sneak in a hug and an “I love you!”) Back when you were a child being a stepmother was even more difficult, unique and unaccepted than now. Not that I’m implying your situation was the same as mine. I don’t know. But I really liked your stepmother and found her to be warm and compassionate with me when Steve took me over for the occasional dinner. I remember sitting with her at the fireplace and talking about a print on the wall. I’m sure I must have bored her silly as I didn’t speak much back then. I still have a glove box of hers that Jonathan gave me when I helped him clean up her house for the estate sale. The box is made of wood and has the outline of a horse on it, I think. It too is in storage as I kept it on my desk in San Francisco, but that condo was closed down and all the stuff sent to storage in Florida when my husband got sick. Anyway, I think fondly of her and remember feeling how sad it was for her in her old age. I remember thinking no woman should have to have suffered the losses that she suffered. It made me happy that you associated such a wonderful moment in time with her and gave it a happy spin. Happy Birthday, Jerry!

    I just love that photo of the roses with the cake.

    In the bible is says “time and chance happen to all men”. That verse has given me hours of contemplation. While I’m sure there are many things that happen to us that we can’t control I think maybe we make some of our own energy and the resulting cause and effect it has on our own lives. I really appreciate your energy and all the effects it has on your life. I enjoy reading about your day to day life, how you make good things happen. Thank you for sharing you.

  15. Anne, I was wrong about the bird I saw, whose song was so delightful. It was a goldfinch. The late evening sun was behind it and I thought it was the house finch. We have both around the property. (Not that it matters a hill of beans, of course.)

    Looking forward to your next post.

  16. Heidi says:

    Happy Birthday and Happy Anniversary!!!
    Your party looked like fun and it was good to see some familiar faces!
    Jerry’s woodshed is lovely! So nicely filled! I’m only sorry I wasn’t there to help fill it, as promised!
    Ken and I are STILL moping around, missing Lummi, missing all the new friends we made, the cool weather and the Poodles!!! Here it is hot– and it bothers us SO much more after spending the wonderful week in your garden apartment! (and no one to throw a ball for!!) We will keep dreaming!! At least I can read your blogs and PRETEND I am still in Eden!!!!

  17. Dick says:

    Happy Birthday, Jerry and Happy Anniversary, both! Great pictures of good times. Beautiful roses – and if you’ve got any logs to spare, float them over to us!

  18. Freda says:

    Great photos! What a lovely time you are all having. I envy you your smile and the weather to grow the roses. Happy Everything.

  19. annie says:

    Hi there! Just stopping in to catch up on all your adventures! So glad that the cancer diagnosis was incorrect and he starts to feel better soon. Your flowers are beautiful, and the wood is stacked perfectly 🙂 The cake looks delightful.

  20. Happy belated birthday to Jerry! The roses are lovely and I’m sure the tomato was delicious – aren’t all home-grown tomatoes delicious? And I lick the beaters too; a holdover from my childhood as well.

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