Posts Tagged ‘summer’

Pursuing progress

May 29, 2012

For the record: our freshly unveiled low-rent pool was a big Memorial Day hit. The little blue float’s gonna be my new summer hammock. Felt like Benjamin Braddock, happily adrift and pondering the future of plastics. Who needs the beach when you’ve got the Redneck Riviera!


But, back to what passes for work here in the sunny season of my greatest content. I love it out here in the warming world, always have. Get out of the stuffy hothouse and embrace the real heat, I told my brother-in-law at the birthday party. He doesn’t get why anyone would ever walk away from air conditioned comfort if they didn’t have to.

Of course my infatuation with summertime needs to be rethunk, in the sobering sweltering light of catastrophic climate change. Anthropogenic natural heat is something I’d never seriously considered. Had any of us, really? But if the planet’s crossed a line and is soon to become uninhabitable at this latitude, I intend to be among the last to enjoy it anyway.

So, to work: I’m juggling two new projects & seeking to integrate them: Philosophy Walks, a rumination on all the ways philosophy and philosophers get around in space, time, imagination, and possibility. This includes the literal forms of motion dearest to me, perambulation mainly, but increasingly also cycling. Philosophy rolls, too. And climbs. And floats. Maybe Philosophy Moves is a better working title.

And the second project needs a working title. It’s a fact-based fiction starring William James, ambling towards a heart-taxing climax on Mt. Marcy.

WJ is practically my alter ego already. I relay his tweets, for instance. The environmental writer Andrew Revkin spotted this recent one…

To be happy most of us need some austerity and wintry negativity, some roughness, danger, stringency, and effort, some “no! No!”

And said in response

I’m likning the evidently posthumous tweets from the philosopher/psychologist @WillmJames

Thanks, Andy. He’d be liking your work “pursuing progress on a finite planet” too. That pursuit was in fact his philosophical quest also, and the best reason I can think of to pursue my 2d summer project.

And there, I think, is my working title: Progress.

Alright, I’ll just be a redneck

May 25, 2012

You know Older Daughter thinks you’re a redneck when…

Imageyou propose a trip to Ashland City for catfish, and spend the better part of a hot afternoon clearing the ground for a low-rent pool.

She won Round 1: we ate Indian at Woodlands. But school’s out, summer’s here, and the pool’s coming. I need a cooling station near the hammock. (Last year’s model didn’t quite cut it.) Just pass the hush-puppies and fried pickles, please.

All I’m saying

May 2, 2012

This will be very brief, I really must get on with my stack of grading. But for the record:

This was the first pre-dawn of the season warm enough (71) to entice me straight from bed out into the darkness. Here I sit on my Little House porch, in the exquisite wooden glider my wonderful spouse recently surprised me with, surrounded by birdsong, as the sun finally begins poking over the hedge.

I love the feeling of summer, even when it is premature and probably a harbinger of anthropogenic planetary disequilibrium. That’s all I’m saying this morning.

Dreams and escape

August 12, 2011

It feels almost cold out here this morning. Another sure reminder of summer’s finitude.

I was complaining about sticker shock yesterday, but textbooks don’t hold a candle to uninsured dental care. But I won’t complain too long and loudly about the hours the girls and I spent at Dr. F’s yesterday, thanks to the magazine article I found in her waiting room.

“The meaning of baseball, eh?” Vin Scully says. He looks at his watch—he does not have much time, the game will begin soon—and he sits down at a table in the corner of the Dodgers’ lunchroom. Scully turns 84 in November. He still spends the bulk of his summer doing the only thing he has wanted to do since he crawled under the family radio as a boy and listened to the sound of the crowd cheering. He calls Dodgers baseball games, of course, like he has since before he and the team moved from Brooklyn to L.A. in 1958.

“Dreams and escape,” Scully says after a short pause. The words sound triumphant. All words sound triumphant when Vin Scully says them…

True. This is half a century old, and I can still tune him in just about every night in summer. He hasn’t changed a bit. I dreamed about Mrs. Sandy Koufax last night, reading “Go the [Bleep] to Sleep.” Really. Then, about a Taoist who kept repeating the mantra “Accept the world.” Despite its imperfections.

What a great game. A grand old game. “Baseball’s biggest problems, like those of us with thinning hair, seem to happen whenever it tries to act young.” Nice line, Joe Posnanski. And nice closing insight from your old Dad:

“They’re sending you around to the country to find the meaning of baseball?” he asked.

“Something like that,” I said. He looked at me with a mix of disbelief and wonder…

“Well, baseball is fun, right?” he said.

time’s up

August 23, 2010

No time for leisured reflections this morning, or possibly this week – papers to write, classes to prepare, Senate retreats to retreat to, convocations to convene at…

Summer 2010, I’ll always remember you fondly.



August 7, 2010

The day began with a glitch, with an unexpected visit from the exterminator. Not a big deal really, but troublesome at the time. A reminder that surprise can rise up out of mundane everyday life and throw you an unpleasant curve. (Details unimportant, but the drama centered on how to apply the rule about letting “strangers” in the house etc.)

But then the day got a lot better. We had some great family time out at the local water park, where the new wave pool and “lazy river” attractions have dispersed the crowd just  enough so that you don’t have to scuffle for a shady spot to stow your stuff.  Then, dinner with Younger Daughter at our favorite faux-Asian eatery, followed by an agreeable On Demand movie about treasure-seeking, culminating in her bedtime observation that it had been one of the best Dad-and-Daughter days ever. A day and a moment to treasure, for real.

[BTW: I was on digital holiday a week ago, so didn’t mention here the terrific Dad-and-Daughter night out with Older Daughter, at the old ballpark. Another warm summer snapshot worth storing.]

Last time we went to a wave pool, a few years ago, it was so hot and crowded you felt like a sardine bobbing in a jostled tin.

Last time we were in real waves, last month, there was real menace and unpredictability in the surf’s indifferent violence. I confess I found myself literally over my head and at sea, at least once. Very real, not very much fun.

Yesterday’s faux experience, controlled and monitored, was much nicer. And it was real, too. Faux real. Real enough.

The moral for me is to take our treasures where we find them. It’s not exactly “your mind that makes it real,” Morpheus. But, how we think about small events and moments, how we tell the stories of our days, is precisely what makes them worth treasuring. And blogging about.

music lessons

August 5, 2010

School’s about to begin again, our girls have less than two weeks of their carefree endless summer left to spend.

So, naturally, it has just occurred to them both that they’d really like to get serious now about learning to play guitar and piano. I was dispatched to the hot, dank, dusty attic to retrieve the neglected Casio keyboard for Younger Daughter, and badly out-of-tune string sounds began to emanate from Older Daughter’s room. Later we visited World Music, at their insistence, to see about lessons. It’s an impressive operation, much more alluring than my old piano instructor’s ’60s living room. They’re enthused.

Good for them, growing up in Music City and finally infected with the spirit of “Musica.” I hope it won’t dampen their enthusiasm when we swing by school to pick up their textbooks.

I have no room to complain about their procrastination, with my own summer book project lagging and now in competition with class prep. Today I shall write syllabi.

Some of us get a lot done in summer. Others spend the better part of it figuring out what seems worth doing. Mr. Bennett says the time will be provided. We’re counting on it.


June 22, 2010

We’re under a “dangerous heat/air quality” advisory here again today, the high will be 98 and it’ll feel like 110– not a desert dry heat but a wet, sticky, drippy, “muggy” (as we always said in the midwest) sauna sort of day. Incessant and unrelenting, the atmospheric equivalent of a vuvuzella. (There’s an app now, you know, and a very popular one too. Fortunately the iPhone speaker is inaudible.)

Speaking of South Africa, the high in Cape Town today will be in the mid-60s. It’s winter in the southern hemisphere, and it’s loud. Amazing how people can get so worked up over a game that so typically ends in a 0-0 or 1-1 draw.

The primitive”We’re #1″ tribal nationalism sometimes on display in these matches is obnoxious, though of course you don’t have to go to FIFA to find that– it’s right next door under the big orange “T” flag, and behind the blue “Titans” decal. (We’ll leave the Redbirds out of this discussion.)

If you’re going to glom yourself onto an arbitrary association to die for, I suppose it’s marginally more evolved that it be for a nation than for a team whose school you don’t even attend or a corporation you don’t work for.

Truth is, I like the world’s version of futbol a lot more than I like ours. And the Pythons’ version. (Are you there, Mary? Ready to begin our collaborative essay on baseball vs. football? Have you listened to George Carlin yet?)

Also: the over-the-top dramatic pretending-to-be-injured histrionics are just silly.


I do love the color and spirit of it all, the pre-game handshakes and post-gamejersey exchanges, and in general just the deep passionate intensity. The key is to transfer that depth of caring to things that do matter. If we could give just a fraction of that kind of focus to the health and well-being of our children, education, the environment, the future… now there’s a summer dream/fantasy for you.

I do love summer. Especially this time of day.

dog days

June 14, 2010

Since we’re getting the dog days of August in June this year, what will we get in August?

But let’s stay in the moment. These mornings lately have been so hot and steamy, I’ve had to leave the dogs behind on my morning rambles. It’s already a muggy 77 degrees and climbing quickly, at 5:30 a.m.

If  we go right now, though, I think they’ll be OK. So we’re going. Before the coffee’s even half gone.

Talk to you later.