Where Did Summer Go?
September 1, 2016 Leave a comment
It hardly seems possible that Labor Day is almost here once again. Didn’t summer just start? It’s been a crazy busy season for me though spent writing, doing lots of great work with my favorite charities, and yes, squeezing in as much time in the pool as possible.
As you know, one of my favorite charities is Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I spent some very fun times with my little bro. He’s so cool, has a great sense of humor, and is always game for anything. He keeps me laughing in the midst of all our adventures together.
We started the summer going to BBBS’s annual Zoo Day at Dallas Zoo, which was a lot of fun. It was the perfect time to go because if you know summer weather in Texas, there’s hot and then there’s oh-my-God-I-wann-die hot! Thankfully we beat the latter, and had a pleasant day hanging out with all the animals. We even got to get up close and personal with a flamingo and an aligator!
Then we went to Plano Children’s Theater to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, which was brilliant! All the kids involved did a stupendous job, and by the time we left the theatre that afternoon, my little bro turned to me and said he wanted to do the play at his school. He’s very theatrical, so I know he’d do a great job with it and it pleased me to no end that he loved the show. If you haven’t been yet, you’ll want to check out the theater’s upcoming performance of Les Misérables between Sept. 9 and 17.
My Little and I had a great time at Chitty Chitty Bang Bang this afternoon. Thanks to Plano Children's Theatre, Arts & Entertainment for DFW Youths, James Michael Rosenberg, and the cast and crew for an awesome experience. My Little said he enjoyed the show so much, now he wants to ask his drama teacher if he can put the play on at his own school!
At that performance I also met James Rosenberg, founder and CEO of the nonprofit Arts and Entertainment 4 DFW Youths. James had provided our tickets for the play and invited us to go to the circus with his organization in August. So we did just that, and attended Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus Xtreme! at the American Airlines Center.
If you live in DFW, take your kids to see Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Extreme at American Airlines Center. It is a dynamic show filled with daring, breathtaking, nail biting feats, amazingly talented performers, music you'll want to sing and dance with, and over-the-top visual artistry. We had a blast!
Sam’s Club was quite generous and paid for 150 of us to attend over the course of two days, and we were simply amazed by the daring acrobats, hilarious clowns, and even some very skilled BMX cyclists, like our new friend, Sergey Kozachynskyi.
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Also, check out this great thank you note my Little wrote after we went to the circus. I thought it was simply too adorable!
I love this note my Little Brother wrote to thank all the great people who made our trip to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus Xtreme possible, including the performers, Sam's Club for donating the tickets, Big Brothers Big Sisters for telling us about it, and Arts & Entertainment for DFW Kids for organizing it all. But I really loved the drawing of the acrobats, gymnasts and cyclists who captured our imaginations. So glad the circus continues to amaze and fuel dreams even now.
Most recently, we went to Six Flags Over Texas. I used to be a season pass holder back when I lived in Dallas in the mid 90s. I’ve always been a roller coaster junkie, so it was fun to go with my little bro for BBBS Day sponsored by Wyndham Rewards. It was one of the hottest days of the year (we were under a heat advisory), but we did our best to stay hydrated and alternated getting on water attractions with indoor coasters and outdoor rides. So I have to admit, when my brother totally soaked me, I was grateful!
In July, my friend Michael Reeves contacted me because he needed help with a memorial service for Ida M. Ward-McMahon, a dear friend of his. He was going to give the discourse and make a ton of food for the repast. A program needed to be made for the service too, but it was that straw that broke the camel’s back, and he asked if I could make it instead. I didn’t know Ida, but I knew Michael was running out of time, so I gladly helped. Besides, I always recall what one of my favorite journalism professors in college, Al Salvato, once told me about writing obituaries before his own death in 2006. He said it was a privilege to do it, and as journalists we should always do our best to make the deceased individual live again on paper. So I spent hours going back and forth with her family, trying to get all the details just right. For someone I didn’t know, I was pretty pleased with the result.
On a more personal note, this also marked the end of a generation in my family. My great uncle, Thomas Hayes, died a few days ago. He was my maternal grandfather’s twin brother, and it was because of him and my Aunt Editha Spencer, who died a few years ago, that I got the opportunity to know my Bay Area family at all. He and his wife Jackie were a wonderful couple, and they will be sorely missed.
Just for fun, and because I’m frequently asked where people can hear me sing, I recorded some very low-end recordings of me performing two of my favorite songs, “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” from Les Misérables and “Home” from The Wiz. I hope you enjoy them. If you’d like to get more content like this as soon as it is published, please subscribe to my YouTube channel.
By now you know that if I’m at home, I’m likely cooking up a storm in the kitchen because I’m a total foodie. This summer, I made spicy homemade pickles for the first time in my life, and let me tell you, I’m addicted! I also took advantage of all the fresh veggies at the farmers market and made up a batch of stuffed peppers with couscous that are to die for. If you’re a carnivore like me, you’re probably asking, “where’s the meat?” Then you’ll love my spicy roasted pork tenderloin. And for dessert? Try my favorite: Tillamook Ice Cream. I don’t make it, but I sure am having fun sampling all their delicious flavors!
I also did my share of reading this summer, and devoured several wonderful books by authors I’ve never read before. First there was Elly Griffiths’ The Woman in Blue, a British mystery that kept me guessing until the very end. It features a delicious cast of characters who are just begging to be brought to life in a new BBC series, so I hope television execs are paying attention. Elly even gave me a nice shout out on Twitter.
Then I discovered Allison Leotta’s legal thriller The Last Good Girl. I simply couldn’t put this book down. She writes so well, John Grisham could learn a thing or two. This is one author who I’ve definitely added to my must-read list.
Finally, publishers sent me debut novelist Iain Reid’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things. It’s literary and terrifying and will take you completely by surprise. It also features one of the creepiest houses you’ll come across outside of Psycho. So if you like books that will keep you up at night, this one is for you!
I love discovering a new writer, and after reading I'M THINKING OF READING THINGS, I must say that Iain Reid is a name to watch. If you haven't consumed this book yet (and believe me, you will… in one sitting), go and get it now. Today. Right this minute! It's one of those debut novels that will suck you in and make you question everything, and terrify you in the process. Want to know more, check out my full review here –>> http://bit.ly/2bP9DOt or visit jathanandheather.com/books to find other great reads.
And now, amazingly enough, it’s September, which still always feels like the beginning of the year for me. I guess it has to do with school starting, and the arrival of autumn (on the 22nd this year). There’s always a tangible electricity in the air as we put the lazy days of summer behind us and it has always been my favorite season. But that’s because I love pulling out sweaters, sipping warm cider and munching on delicious pies, taking long drives to check out the fall foliage and cooler days. But for me, it also means that it is time to get cracking on a new writing project, which I always look forward to. Whatever your fall traditions are, I hope you have fun indulging them. Have a great month!