Summer is almost spent. The sunlight is faded and the corn has turned brown. I’ve even noticed the slightest hint of leaves changing from the dark green of summer to the yellows and russets of autumn. Now is the perfect time to review my summer goals and decide if I’ve met with even a modicum of success.
1. Read fours books. (These are books for pleasure – I’ve read enough educational texts this summer to last me a lifetime.) I’ve already mentioned Monique and the Mango Rains in an earlier post. I also read a fun, somewhat mystical book by Sarah Addison Allen called The Sugar Queen that reminded me of Alice Hoffman’s writing. Then, while in the Outer Banks in August, I devoured The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. While not an easy book to read because of the subject, it was impossible to put down. (My daughter recommended it to me.) I am now in the middle of House Rules by Jodi Picoult. As with most of her books, the story is based on a difficult topic and is loaded with drama. If I get on the ball, I may just finish it before the official end of summer.
2. Go to the beach. I had the much anticipated pleasure of spending a few days at the Outer Banks (North Carolina) in August. Although it was shorter than the trip I normally take, it was still heaven on earth. Four blissful days of nothing but sun, sand, and sea. For a detailed description, check here.
3. Eat lots of corn on the cob. I am sorry to report that I failed miserably at this. The country store where I’ve bought corn for years was sold for development last fall. I’ve been floundering trying to find a new favorite farmer’s stand. As a result, this goal was a big fat fail.
4. Try two new homemade icecream recipes. I tried one new homemade ice cream recipe and it was so good, no one wanted me to make anything else. My family really likes the icy, pure flavor of straight vanilla ice cream (no cooked eggs). In the recipe below, brown sugar replaces the plain old white granualted variety. The switch creates an ice cream with a rich, slightly caramel-ly flavor and a wonderfully smooth texture. Watch out, though! It will make your belly hurt if you eat too much.
Brown Sugar Ice Cream (makes about 5 cups) taken from The Best Ice Cream Maker Cookbook Ever by Peggy Fallon
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup half-and-half or light cream
1 cup packed light or dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5. Make peach and rasperry jam. This summer, I made peach and blackberry jam. And, while I was performing the arduous task of cleaning out the freezer, I found several bags of frozen strawberries from last year already crushed and prepared for jam! There are now thirty jars of jam tucked into the freezer. That should last to at least the end of October, don’t you think? (my family loves freezer jam)
6. Attend a free concert. I was lucky enough to attend three concerts at Long’s Park this summer. They were all fantastic – Oz Noy Trio, Danny Kortchmer band, and The Paul Thorn Band. I had every intention of seeing Hot Club of Detroit but the weather was iffy that day. Instead, Lovey and I went to see The Help with my sister-in-law and niece. Because the movie was so good, I can’t really regret missing the concert.
7. Catch a few lightning bugs. This is another goal that falls into the fail category. While I did spend many nights on the patio watching the lightning bugs go about their complicated courting rituals, I never bothered to get off my butt and catch any. This is probably all for the best, however. From what I understand, the lightning bugs were relieved to be free of all that harassment and trauma.
8. Go camping for a long weekend. We spent an eventful weekend at Hickory Run State Park in the Poconos over the Fourth of July. I wish we had more opportunites to camp, especially in the fall. Alas, with kids participating in the marching band and football, the schedule doesn’t allow it.
9. Walk 3 miles, 3 times a week. I was doing pretty well with this until the end of August. My teaching schedule has interrupted my walking schedule. I’m finally settling in to the new routine and the walking has begun to fall into place, too. I would say I met 85% of this goal. Give me another week and I’ll be up to speed once again.
10. Survive Qualitative Analysis (and Research Methods). Four hour classes of designing experiments, one and two-way t tests, and factorial ANOVA’s for twelve weeks straight – I was a mind-numb zombie by the time it was over. But I made it! Now I’m ready to conduct my own psychological experiment and perform all the data analysis. Unfortunately, I’m not finished with statistics yet. At this moment, I am taking a class on program evaluation which does contain some small amount of numbers crunching. After what I’ve just been through, though, this will be a piece of cake!
Well, I did not reach 100% of my goals. The corn and the lightning bug items are zeroes for sure. On other items, I went above and beyond – making jelly, going to concerts, thriving in statistics – which balances things out in my mind. Finally, while I technically didn’t achieve 100% compliance with books read, miles walked, and types of ice cream tried, effort was clearly demonstrated. Because I’m feeling especially generous today, I’ll forgo my perfectionistic tendencies and claim victory. Even though I didn’t meet all my goals, I certainly had fun trying and benefited in numerous ways from the efforts. There must be a way to use statistics to figure out exactly how successful I’ve been, but we won’t go there today. I perfer to maintain my sanity – as fragile as it is, I need to be very cautious.