Lost Days of Summer

June has been an interesting month and we are only halfway there. I tested positive for Covid at the end of May and stayed in bed for three days, with symptoms similar to the flu, then I spent another week at home with low energy, coughing, sneezing, and general aches and pains. It was annoying, but not life-threatening, thanks to having been vaccinated. All the while, Malcolm tested negative – until day eleven, when he presented with symptoms. The following day, he tested positive. Our roles reversed and I became the caretaker while he became the patient. Another ten days, gone. We are both better now, but Malcolm has a bit of lingering ‘brain fog,’ and I have a cough I just can’t shake.

Obviously, social time was out of the question and we painfully canceled dinner plans and said our goodbyes by phone to dear friends as they began their summer travels. We cleared the calendar of tennis dates, Mahjongg games, and Malcolm’s regular coffee outings. Ugh!

Filling the time was challenging, and most days we felt pissed off that we’d survived two and a half years of doing everything right only to have Covid hit us now. Even so, we managed. I read a few books, took a few walks and we even hit the Pickleball a couple of times on the court at our new place. Sitting under a palm tree by the pool became a welcome late afternoon outing. In the time overlapping between my weakest point and Malcolm’s, we managed to complete a couple of home projects and cook some healthy meals.

Getting Covid and being socially isolated for two weeks is a stiff price to pay for an eight-day cruise. Would we do it again? Absolutely.

Around the House

Malcolm and I sold or donated a lot of our furniture when we sold our home back in July, but we kept pieces that we thought might work in a small house or apartment at some point in our future. Our dining room set is thirty years old and is the first furniture we ever purchased together. After using it for many years, we passed it on to my MIL, and then last July, when we ‘redecorated’ her home, we put the set into storage with our things.

It is a sentimental piece that we aren’t ready to part with. The art deco design squarely identifies it as early 90’s, but we decided to use it anyway – mostly because it fit into the space and definitely because it had a nice glass hutch that would hold a lot of stuff.

The only visible problem with the set was the seat cushions, which were worn and stained. (I forgot to take a ‘before’ picture). Malcolm removed the old seat covers and I replaced them with a medium grey fabric. I know, friends don’t let friends decorate with grey, but without anyone to talk me out of it, (I didn’t ask anyone’s opinion) I did it anyway. I won’t say they are ‘like new’, but they are good enough.

Assembling a TV stand for our bedroom proved a much bigger challenge. I am dating myself, but, we used to go to a reputable furniture store, pick out pieces and have them delivered and placed where they would live. Nowadays, furniture comes in boxes. With lots of pieces…

I walked away, shaking my head, but promising to remain ‘on call’ just in case. A short four hours later, this magically appeared. Go Malcolm!

Getting to Know the Neighbors

The apartment building we moved into is new and currently has only six tenants residing here. Unfortunately, one of them, a lady who works from home moved into the apartment below us. What are the odds that would happen so quickly? Anyway, a few days ago she arrived at our door with a bottle of wine and a plate of cookies. She introduced herself, and handed the gifts to Malcolm, explaining that they were a ‘peace offering.’ We didn’t know we were at war. Malcolm mentioned that I was sick with Covid, as I waved from the sofa, but she continued with her agenda. Apparently, we are quite loud and need to ‘step lighter‘ during her working hours. Hmmm….. Welcome to the neighborhood. The cookies were good btw.

What’s On My Bookshelf

Dan Antion, of No Facilities fame, is about to launch his debut novel. Drop by his blog this week to meet Dan and see what his readers are saying about Knuckleheads. I read the book last week and enjoyed it very much.

The setting floats between present day and the 1960s. The book opens with the main character, Zach Amstead sitting at the kitchen table with his adult daughter Abbie. He has retired from a 40-year consulting career and Abbie had thrown him a surprise retirement party the evening before.  Abbie is curious about an invitation response that she had received from one of her Dad’s old friends. The note was signed, ‘can’t make it, see you soon,’ Billy.

Knowing that this day would come, Zach settled in at the kitchen table to share the story of he and Billy, their childhood friendship, and the ‘special abilities’ they each possess and have been aware of since 4th grade. The conversation would last for the duration of the book, with Zack in the single narrator position and Abbi interrupting often to add emphasis to the contrast between ‘then and now.’  Things like ‘carbon paper,’ ‘corporal punishment’ and even the presence of ashtrays in public buildings reminded us of the times in which Zack grew up.

Order ‘Knuckleheads’ here

Most of the book takes place at a bowling alley owned by Zack’s dad, in school, or in church – all familiar, safe places where Zack’s ‘landings’ won’t be noticed.  The story gently walks through the sixties with subtle social commentary on subjects from disabilities and labels to special treatment of the privileged elite.

Zack and Billy conduct various experiments to better understand their respective abilities and occasionally find themselves in hot water.  Guided by Zach’s wise and understanding father, John, the boys learn to ‘get ahead’ of their situation. Neither fully comprehends what that means, but both appreciate having a supportive adult in their corner. Mild-mannered John is in fact, the only person who is aware of the boy’s gifts, or curse, as it more frequently seems to be.  The way John interacts with Zack and his attempts to guide his son’s abilities result in character-building conversations and life lessons that every boy and girl should be lucky enough to have delivered by a faithful and loving parent. Security, acceptance, and a father’s love are at the core of this captivating tale.

I also read The Nantucket Inn and Linda’s Midlife Crisis. Both were quick, entertaining summer reads. Interestingly, the main character in both books was at a similar stage of life – early fifties, newly single. One due to a divorce and the other a death. Both women were intent on moving forward and reinventing themselves. I like books that share midlife wisdom and have a happy ending. These two delivered.

What’s On My Plate

Comfort food and healthy dishes have been competing for our attention as we opt for whatever we think might taste good. Neither of us lost our sense of smell or taste with Covid, but flavors are definitely ‘off’. I can’t fully surrender to carbs, as Malcolm would prefer, but I am willing to compromise. Keeping meal prep and clean-up time simple continues to be a high priority.

Malcolm and I have access to a barbeque grill, but it isn’t like having one directly on your patio, so occasionally we make a steak in the kitchen. A few years ago we took a ‘chef’s secrets’ class and he taught us to cook a perfect steak in the oven. Here is how he did it.

The Perfect Steak

Allow steak to come to room temperature. Preheat over to 425 degrees. Rub steak liberally with salt and pepper. Heat apx. 1 tablespoon of oil over medium/high heat in an oven-proof skillet. Sear steak on both sides, about 1 minute for each side. Place pan in the oven and bake steak until desired doneness; apx. 4 minutes for rare, 6 minutes for med. rare and 8 minutes for medium.

Another fun side-effect of Covid downtime – creating movies. You can catch my first attempt in the previous post.

What’s In My Glass

Sparkling water, flat water, flavored water…okay, maybe a little wine and beer. June is the beginning of hot and humid summer weather in South Florida, so staying hydrated is a really good idea. But, so is a nice cold beer! Especially in honor of Father’s Day. Cheers!

41 thoughts on “Lost Days of Summer

    1. Judy, I think a lot of people who moved here aren’t used to living in an apartment building. It is an adjustment that isn’t for everyone. I think our poor neighbor might be one of those. June hasn’t been all bad, but we are looking forward to a better second half. Enjoy your cool snap and send some our way please.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Suzanne – sorry to hear that the dreaded covid landed on your doorstep (along with the passive agressive new neighbour!) but very glad to hear that you’re both over the worst of it. We’ve still managed to avoid it, but I think it’s inevitable for most of us. The dining chairs came up well – we’ve recovered ours a couple of times over the years and it always freshens them up and gives them a new lease on life.

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  2. Oh dear, you too? I managed to dodge Covid for two and a half years, despite going out and about in increasingly busy London, outside lockdown periods of course. And despite taking several holidays, one with eleven hour flights! But last week it finally got me (caught, I think, on the London Tube en route to a gallery). Like you the vaccines have ensured it’s not too bad – really my symptoms are much like those of a heavy cold. So far my husband has escaped and thought he was now safe a week into my illness. I won’t tell him Malcolm got it eleven days into yours! I’m glad you both got mild doses too and are now recovering. A shame about those cancelled plans (we had to cancel a city break in Sofia) but at least you managed to keep busy with walks and projects at home 🙂

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    1. Sarah, I’m pretty sure I came into contact with someone on the cruise ship the day before we disembarked. I remember a lady sneezing and coughing nearby. We were outside, no mask. It was inevitable. Oh well. I hope your husband’s defenses prevail!

      We are sketching out a plan for a get-a-way in July. Maybe to the North Caroline mountains, which is an easy drive from home.

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    1. Dawn, if you like ‘speculative fiction’ as Dan refers to it, you will like this book. His intention is to share some background in this book that will set up the next two books. It was just enough to make me look forward to reading those. Covid is fading, and we are getting back to ourselves. It just takes time.

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  3. Sorry about the Covid. Hopefully, it is all behind you now. You had a pretty good month – in spite of it! The chair cushions look great. The tv stand is a real accomplishment! The books sound great, and the food looks delicious, too. And you even worked in a little pickleball. Best of all, you are both on your way to good health!

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  4. Covid is still making the rounds, but I’m glad you are recovered with not too many issues, Suzanne. You have been busy and I love your gray cushions. Gray is the neutral in our home so pops of gray are ok! Sorry to read about your neighbor. I’m so glad we were able to move to a rural area where we are all spread out. Hang in there, and have a peaceful week!

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  5. Sorry to hear about coming down with Covid. I am sure my number will up one of these days too. I am still masking in shops and other indoor spaces (as are many others) but my luck can’t hold out forever.
    I wonder about your building. It could be that the fault is with its construction, not your apparent “heavy feet”. I guess you won’t know until someone moves above you (unless you are on the top floor, of course). My building is certainly not the most sound-proofed and I can hear the upstairs people move about. Thankfully the Stompy McStompersons moved out last Feb and new upstairs neighbours are not nearly as noisy. The walls don’t shake anymore. 😁

    Deb

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    1. Ha, ha, I’m pretty sure we are the ‘Stompy McStomperson’s to this poor lady. I do think a lot of it has to do with the construction of the building. We can definitely feel the walls shake when someone slams a door! I am glad we chose a top-floor unit.

      I am of the opinion that everyone will eventually get some version of Covid. Luckily, it wasn’t so bad.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m surprised at how much you both still got done during these first two weeks of June. Interesting about the neighbor. I would think being on the top floor would be the best, so nobody makes noise above you. But then I would always be worried – and considerate – about making too much noise for the people underneath me. I don’t think I would be a happy apartment tenant. I’m too aware of (and annoyed by) my surroundings.

    I’m glad you and Malcolm had Covid at different times. That was a positive thing as now you could take care of each other. Imagine when both of you would have been going through the worst at the same time (which happened to my parents). I’m definitely glad all of you were jabbed and boostered up!

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    1. Liesbet, I think determination was the driving force. We just want to be settled. We still have about 4 boxes to deal with and then we are done. Our daughter and her fiancee came for the weekend and we actually cooked a full meal and set a pretty table. It was nice to feel human again.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Suzanne,
    “Walk lighter?!?” That’s a first for me and probably you as well.
    Helen caught COVID and I’ve managed to escape although the second booster nearly did me in. A good friend is dealing with COVID toe no less after a bout with the virus. It’s crazy out there! Best wishes to you and Malcolm for a good week and a better July. Joe

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  8. “Friends don’t let friends decorate with grey…”, hahaha! But the dining set does look very nice updated. Sorry to hear that you caught COVID on the cruise and hope your symptoms clear up soon. Tracey

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  9. I’m not too fond of the furniture buying process these days either. Not everyone has the ability or desire to put together a piece of furniture. I know help is hard to find these days, but I would love to have something delivered and placed in my home. I don’t think that’s too much to ask!!

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  10. I like the color you picked for your new cushions. I like seeing your new home and the furniture you’re putting into it– no matter how tricky it is to build. I like the how-to for making the perfect steak. And I hope you’re feeling better after your Covid experience. Sorry about that.

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    1. Ally, the Covid thing was inevitable. We were just late to the party. Changing seat cushions, like purchasing new sofa pillows provides an instant update without breaking the bank. I’m getting used to the color. The ‘perfect steak’ video was a satisfying little project. I haven’t been shooting much lately, so playing with photos is the next best thing. Take care.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank yo so much for mentioning (reviewing) my novel, Suzanne. I am still catching up from a very busy weekend, and I apologize for the late arrival. I’m glad you enjoyed Knuckleheads.

    I think you did a great job on the chairs. Upholstery isn’t the easiest task, although it might be easier than assembling today’s furniture. Both projects turned out well.

    Good luck with the neighbor downstairs. The negative side of remote-work, I suppose. Still being retired shouldn’t mean having to tiptoe around in slippers. You earned your stripes when work required driving in traffic. You should be able to relax now.

    The food is making me hungry. That’s a bad thing, because I’m soon on my way to the store for groceries.

    I hope you have a great week.

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  12. Wow, you got a lot into this post, Suzanne. Covid is not one of the good things, but you did so much! Even playing pickleball. Vince had Omicron in January, and he was three days into it and almost better by the time he got tested. He was tired for about a week or two after that and doesn’t seem to have any residual effects like some people suffer. I love your dining room chairs. They are such an interesting shape and the gray brings them up to date. Congratulations on your new place, even with a somewhat complainy neighbor. We have a lovely couple above us and we can hear them vacuum now that they have new flooring. When they had carpet, we did not hear anything. It’s nothing because we adore them. I hope the rest of your June is filled with more good things and lots of social life.

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    1. Marsha, I do think the noise level is increased by the flooring material. These new simulated wood floors look great, but they don’t offer a buffer at all. The neighbor seems to have relaxed a bit, so hopefully, she has come to realize that noise is just part of living in an apartment building.

      Things are returning to normal and the remainder of June looks promising.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Pingback: June Story Chat Summary – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write

  14. Hi, Suzanne – I am so sorry to hear about you and Malcolm both getting COVID. I hope that all symptoms clear for both of you soon.
    Funny about the upstairs neighbours and the ‘peace offering’ of cookies. I’m glad to hear that she is relaxing (at least a bit).
    Thank you for joining us for both What’s On Your Plate and What’s On Your Bookself. All of your dishes pictured here look delicious!

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    1. Hi Donna, I seem to always miss the timing of my favorite challenges, so I decided to use them as headlines for this post. In fact, I like the structure so much I might incorporate it into my WOTY update post at the end of the month, even though they still won’t be timely. But, I will make an effort to attach all the links in that one. Now if I can just figure out how to include Wordless Wednesday, Writer’s Quote Wednesday, the Weekend Coffee Share, What Makes Me Smile, and Sunday Stills, whew… a gal could get dizzy!

      Glad you liked the food photos and I hope you will check out Dan’s book. I have a feeling the next two are going to be very interesting.

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  15. I relate to your “lost days” of June. Following a week of volunteering a Garden Club summer camp (6-10 year olds!) which I loved but found exhausting (and completely disruptive to my normal activities), I too came down with Covid. So the whole month has felt “off”. Luckily, like you I’m vaxxed and boosted, so not down for that long of time, but still from beginning to end about 9 days. I did have brain fog, and found that all I could do was comfort reading – old favorites with happy endings. But it’s over and I’m slowly picking up all my activities again…just as many folks are leaving for the summer months.

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    1. Hi Pat, sorry to hear you got the dreaded Covid too. Malcolm is still having some sleep issues and a bit of brain fog, but getting better every day. I was grateful that he put the TV stand together before he got sick! I have returned to my usual activities – it feels good to be out and about again. Comfort reading is a good way to describe the books I gravitated to during my illness. Anything more and I couldn’t focus. Have a great summer. It looks like it will be a hot one!

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