#56. One of the nicest parts of Summer is graduations, or if you or one of yours is a senior, GRADUATION DAY! While most colleges and high school have commencement exercises while it is technically still Spring, here in Virginia it already felt like Summer before my daughter’s college graduation. It was definitely summery the week we attended a friend’s son’s high school graduation party. My friend’s in-laws did a Hawaiian pig roast — yes, in the ground for hours, weighted down with bricks — again, definitely Summer.
My favorite part of graduations, as with all special events, is the presents. Giving them, getting them, exchanging them — I don’t care, I just like presents. (Full disclosure: I dislike shopping for people who are “hard to buy for” (you know who you are!), but a graduating senior is usually not in that category.) For graduations, there are built-in themes to help with the shopping: something connected to the college, whether celebrating a rising freshman or a newly minted alum, or things related to the student”s chosen major or career path, and of course, financial assistance is alway welcome. Our daughter’s gifts (from us) were a new computer (laptops get old and slow after four years of nearly constant use), a stylized print that referenced her college colors and traditions (thank you, Pluff Mudd Designs!), and a tea tray with a cross-stitch of her college seal under glass, all wrapped in the school’s signature pink and green. For my friend’s son, we chose a very nice leather wallet, filled with gift cards to Starbucks (he’s chosen an urban campus), Itunes (he’s a teen, after all), and Amazon.com (where my daughter managed to purchase the lion’s share of her textbooks at deep discounts). A little gift box wrapped in blue and tied with a “buff” ribbon (again, school colors), and it was ready to go.
Even for students who live far away, making shipping a gift impractical, there are way to send something personal. Some college bookstores will ship a gift for you. My daughter received a call from her campus shop to “come pick up a gift” that was wrapped and waiting for her. One year I contacted the bookstore on another campus and they mailed a purse made of school spirit ribbons to a friend’s daughter who would be going there that Fall. You’d be surprised, I think, by the fun gift items available. Yes, no teenager or young adult is going to have hurt feelings over receiving a check, but why not make it more personal? A gift certificate to their campus shop could be just the thing.
I’ve been slugging away at some finishing jobs — some for pay, some for love — and have gotten several pieces out the door in the last two weeks. Three of them are ornaments that someone else is paying me to finish, and I don’t think I can post a photo of them, but two of them are for me and mine. Pictures to follow, but in brief I have finished a cross-stitched bookmark for my daughter (her stitches, my construction) and my first pair of socks! They aren’t perfect, but they’re comfortable (I know this b/c I wore them yesterday when we were blessed with cooler weather), look cool with jeans, and obligingly hide their faults in the toes of my shoes! No resting on my laurels — I’ll be back in the studio this afternoon, working on the fourth ornament of a group of five — but I was encouraged by this level of progress and hope you will be, too.
#55. Go to Summer Camp. Or send your kids. Or go with them as a volunteer. I have mixed feeelings about those overnight summer camps which kids attend for the entire season, but a few weeks of camp is a nice thing, whether sleep-away or day. All the usual suspects: bugs, water, hiking, s’mores, silly songs, and lots of time outside — it’s a good thing to try. If your kids (or you) hate it, no need to repeat the experiment. My best friend goes to camp all Summer long — she’s the camp director for a nature center — and another woman I know goes to a music camps. I’ve also heard of book camp (learning to make books, paper and otherwise) and one Summer my daughter went to a sewing day camp. I’m even seeing signs for science and engineering camps, so it’s seeming like there’s something for everyone. For myself, I’d like my camp to include massages, yoga, facials, and good food. What is a spa, after all, but summer camp (with perks) for grown-ups?
#52: Go to an outdoor concert. #53: Tailgate Picnics — not just for football season! #54: Hawaiian shirts and dresses. One BIL likes to celebrate birthdays with concert tickets and tailgating at an outdoor venue, and this year he chose the Jimmy Buffett concert in Virginia Beach. The 4 couples from my husband’s family met up with at least that many members of one SIL’s family in the parking lot for fried chicken and biscuits and margaritas (of course!). All of us had “lawn tickets,” which meant we could bring folding chairs or blankets to sit on, but after three concerts at this particular venue, I can say with certainty that it’s not worth the bother. Everyone stands throughout the concert. Most Buffett fans know all of the words to all of his songs, as well as any gestures that go with them, so it’s full audience participation time. I only sat down when the cigarette smoke started to get to me (a huge drawback to outdoor venues, IMHO).
Full disclosure: I am pretty sure I would prefer a concert at which everyone sat in their chairs (lawn or otherwise), nobody sang along, and nobody smoked. And I’ve asked one BIL to bring his portable grill to the next tailgating event — grilled sausage truly beats fast-food fried chicken, and I’d love to put together a menu of salads and desserts (jello shooters, while yummy, are not dessert!) to go with it. But I do like Jimmy Buffett’s music, and with everyone having such a good time around me, it was hard not to have a (mostly) good time myself. And it was a great excuse to wear my Hawaiian print dress, even if I did forget my parrot earrings.
While catching up with laundry from our long weekend, I made sure I did a little work each day on something in the studio. Since I managed to get 3/4s through knitting a pair of socks this Spring, that looked like a good place to start — not too far to go until the end. Since I really am doing only a little each day on this (since cleaning up the studio seems necessary both for finding the next big project and for space in which to work on it!), it’ll will take me a week or so to finish, but when I’m done, I’ll have a nice new pair of handknit socks — not a bad reward at all.
As I have taken this Summer off from regular Guild and stitch group meetings (the last is next Wednesday — hurray!), I’m trying to finish as much as possible out of my studio. More productivity, less gas to put into the tank. I brought two projects (both cross-stitch) with me to the lake this weekend, not knowing what the light would be like. It was good enough to work on an antique-like design done in black on “swamp” dyed linen from Picture This Plus. I’m about 1/3 done with the main stitching and I still have to choose which raspberry/pink thread to use for the accent stitches. Stay tuned for progress updates and pictures.
I only got halfway through this blog before running out of steam last Summer, so I’m trying again. Once again we have 99 days of Summer between and including Memorial Day and Labor Day, so let me see if I can add another 49 entries between now and the end of the season.
Revisiting my first entry of last year, may I suggest starting the Summer on the water? Somewhere, somehow. Beg, borrow, or steal a house by the water. We like to rent one ourselves, and did just that this weekend, on a lake this time, with a canoe included. Which brings me to my first new entry:
#51. Go for a ride in a kayak, a canoe, or a rowboat. You’re that much closer to the water and you’re working with it (or against it?) to get somewhere. A workout that’s peaceful and fun — who knew?