An Observation: Non-Labor Day

We’ve arrived at the unofficial end of summer. Let us observe a moment of silence.

(Umm…I said a moment. But, okay. Whatever floats your boat.)

Sure, it’ll still be hotter than a flamethrower on the equator until mid-October here in good old Arkansas, but all the carefree summer fun is magically exchanged for hoodies and pumpkin-spice oxygen once Labor Day concludes.

Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. I don’t suppose I know anyone who was around for the first one to interview them for a first-hand perspective, but I’m sure the first one wasn’t like our modern celebration. (And judging by the Labor Day sales offered by most retailers, it doesn’t seem to be universally observed in this here country. But I digress…)

In my family, we used to celebrate the three-day weekend with a trip to the river or by watching television in the air conditioning as a family. When I was in college, a very close relative threw a great Labor Day party he didn’t even know about until he came home to find my brother, myself, and about a dozen of our closest friends enjoying his swimming pool.

I applaud the efforts of those who created a holiday to celebrate the hard working men and women of this country, but I have a problem with it.

More specifically, the wording of it.

As the self-proclaimed Meticulously Observant Observer, I live for details. I feel like calling this holiday “Labor Day” means that one is expected to do just that–labor–on their “holiday.”

Why didn’t they call it “Non-Labor Day” instead?

I understand the intent–honor those who labor–but, let’s say you are the type to take things very literally. You see a day on the calendar marked “Labor Day.” You might think that you have to put in some serious overtime on the first Monday in September. Meanwhile, everyone around you has filled up their cars with camping gear and tells you they’ll “see you Tuesday.” (Maybe you do have to work overtime. I don’t know. I’m not your boss. Again, I digress…)

Oh, well. I’m overthinking things again. It happens.

Have a Happy (Non) Labor Day. And remember…Tuesday is the new Monday this week. Order that extra shot of espresso.

You deserve it.
You deserve it.

A Recollection: What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Summer always seems to be the shortest season in terms of perceived available days for relaxation versus actual days for relaxation…but the longest season in terms of “it’s-going-to-be-hot-for-six-months-so-you’d-better-get-used-to-it.”

So, here I am, sitting at my computer on the eve of another academic year, and I thought I’d complete that “old-as-the-hills” assignment that we used to do in school entitled “What I Did On My Summer Vacation.” (Or, in my case, “What I Did With Approximately Two Weeks.” Three months off is a myth, folks.)

My first major vacation-y event was something I probably could have done in any season, but one of my all-time favorite bands happened to be touring close by during the summer…hence, it became part of my summer vacation. I say I could have gone to this concert during any season, but since I’d been trying to get to one of their concerts for, say, eleven years, I suppose I was just kidding myself. So, in June, I finally went to a Steely Dan concert. My apologies to anyone who had to listen to me sing along with them at the top of my lungs, but, by golly, I’d waited a while for it.

And it was good.

I’ve become pretty good at squeezing little side trips into a packed schedule, but this year I wanted to go on a real trip. I addressed it in my previous blog post, but never included some of the stunning scenes I woke up to every day on beautiful St. George Island, Florida. It was my first trip to that particular beach and my first trip to ANY beach in four years. My apologies to anyone who had to stop dead in their tracks while I took photographs, but, by golly, I’d waited a while for it.

And it was good.

If you don't like the beach, we might not be able to be friends.
If you don’t like the beach, we might not be able to be friends.
Cape St. George Light. I also have a t-shirt to prove that I was there.
Cape St. George Lighthouse. I also have a t-shirt to prove that I was there.

On the way back, I did the nerdiest thing I have ever done in my life–stopped in Seaside, Florida to seek out the “Truman House.” One of my favorite movies ever is “The Truman Show,” and it was filmed in Seaside. I found it, had a nerd moment, and grinned for a week. Twelve hours later, I was back in Arkansas.

Then, it was back to work.

Tomorrow is the first day of school (although, technically, it’s the fourth week of the new academic year for me).

And the weird dreams have already started. I’m trying to forget last night’s brain cornucopia. I was trying to run a rehearsal with a potluck going on next door, all while people felt the need to keep pulling me aside to tell me I was crazy. (Something about my sense of humor…) I tried to argue with them, but it was hard to hold my ground as I went through the potluck line and put beef stew, fried rice, Lucky Charms, and milk on the same plate. I finally got fed up (haha) and took off in my car, driving in reverse over swinging bridges constructed of thin rowboat paddles and shouting something about trying to break the Olympic record.

(Figure that one out, Freud.)

And that’s what I did on my summer vacation.

And it was good.

With that, here’s to a great academic year for all!

*I also started an Etsy shop this summer. I’m updating listings as I create more work, but right now it’s primarily for my landscape photography. I am selling 8×10 prints. Please take a look! You can buy photographs here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/MeticulousObserver

A View: All This Nature

The Natural State really lives up to its name. We have no shortage of stunning views and opportunities for immersion in the outdoors. I recently had the chance to take a brief evening trip up to a place I’ve enjoyed many times over the years.

Petit Jean Mountain is a highly unique geographic feature of the Arkansas landscape. My little car had a few Casey Junior “I-Think-I-Can” moments as it chugged its way up the twisting road (even though I wasn’t pulling several cars full of elephants…it’s a steep highway and the horses under the hood probably would have been terribly winded trying to hike it, much less approach the speed limit…but I digress…).

She'll be coming 'round the mountain...together, now!
She’ll be coming ’round the mountain…all together, now!

I’m always impressed with the views from atop Petit Jean. Even a cloudy or hazy or BLAZING HOT day is worth the trip. (For the record, it was a hazy, BLAZING HOT day.) I’ll admit, while I knew I was unprepared to do any serious hiking, I was also unprepared just to simply walk around in the heat. It was a last-minute decision to actually make the little road trip, and I ran off without my water bottle. By the time I made it to the lodge, I parked and went directly towards the vending machines. As luck would have it, the machine spent a lot of time spinning its wheels only to tell me that everything was sold out. Fortunately, it refunded my paper money–in the form of quarters and nickels–and I went into the lodge to buy a bottle of ice cold water with change (my apologies to the clerk).

If I hadn't been so thirsty, I might not have stuck around too long to capture this photo. Thank you, Arkansas humidity!
If I hadn’t been so thirsty, I might not have stuck around the lodge long enough to capture this photo. Thank you, Arkansas humidity!

Of course, with it being the summer tourist season, I wasn’t the only person sightseeing–far from it. When I reached the overlook, a few other cars pulled into the parking lot, including a family of awestruck adults and two very bored small children. I can only assume that the kids were suffering from acute electronics withdrawal…a common syndrome these days.

Lost Phone Meme
This is just an assumption…but the struggle is real.

The parents were gazing down across the breathtaking landscape, taking in the view. The kids were less than impressed.

The conversation cracked me up.

Kid No. 1: “Why did Petit Jean wanna come all the way up here?”

Mom: Silence…snaps photo of river.

Kid No. 2: “Moooooom! Why did Petit Jean want to come all the way up here?”

Mom: “I don’t know. Maybe she liked it here.”

Kid No. 1: “What are we doing all the way up here?”

Dad: “We’re looking at all this nature.”

I suppressed my laughter, spent a few more minutes looking at “all this nature,” and rolled back down the mountain, becoming a mere speck on the landscape to the spectators on top of Petit Jean.

(A boring little speck, I’m sure…)

A Summer’s Tale: Pest Control

I know that many people are worried about mosquitoes this summer, and rightfully so. They are disease-ridden, foul-mouthed, vile little critters.

Dirty Needle Mosquito

To compound the situation, 2016 in Arkansas could be classified (so far) as “The Year It Rained.”

(Author’s Note: I’m not trying to make light of the serious problems we have going on involving mosquitoes. However, that doesn’t mean that mosquitoes are any less of the annoying nuisances that they have been in the past, and this is the part of their personalities on which I will be focusing in this here blog post.)

You can find mosquitoes all over Arkansas, but insofar as I can tell, none are as vicious as the ones who reside in the Delta.

Let me preface this by saying that I love my friends in the Ozarks. However, the next time one of my friends in the Ozarks complains about the two mosquitoes that gave them one bite last summer, I want to show them a picture of a Velociraptor and explain to them that the creature in the photo only represents a tenth of the ferocity of the evil, blood-sucking, soul-stealing Delta monsters that bring thirty-five hundred of their friends to carry you somewhere over the rainbow on any day that ends in “y” between the months of May and October.

Whew.

On second thought, I could just invite them over for a few days so that they can get the full experience.

I’ve seen the mosquitoes in the hills, and I’m not even sure they qualify as mosquitoes. In fact, they just look to me like slightly bigger gnats.

I feel that I’m qualified to make this distinction since I have lived in both the Ozarks and the Delta. Face it–your citronella candles are useless here.

Try this. You'll get used to the popping sound.
Try this. It looks just like a tennis racquet, but you’ll get used to the popping sound. What could possibly go wrong?

I’m trying to decide what kind of habits I should adopt this year to minimize my contact with the bugs. I’ve come up with three possibilities.

1. Dress in “beekeeper chic.” (See also radiation suit.)

2. Keep the fans, air conditioning, and vacuum running constantly. The combination should make it difficult for a mosquito to find a landing site.

And…the most practical option…

3. Do the best I can and hope it’ll turn out okay.

I think I’ll go lather up with my favorite summertime perfume: Eau de Off.