For many people, summer is independent of all the other seasons, keeping its own schedule and playing by its own rules. So . . . I don’t know . . . is that a good enough excuse for my blogging silence for much of the summer? Hopefully maybe? I helped with a Bible camp for teens and a music day camp for kids (which finished up in August), and in the interim days was preparing for each one, on top of working my normal jobs. I’ve had a marvelous time!

But, confession: I’ve hardly done any serious writing. (Hence Camp NaNo in July was not an option for me.) However, now that life, from this vantage point at least, seems like it will settle into a straight line again, I hope to return to my writing routine. I started a new Marielle story and am tossing around a few other ideas as well.

Music Camp

Choir Practice
A Musical Game
Learning about the Planets and Decorating T-shirts

I’m not sure how many of you are familiar with Gustav Holst and his orchestral suite The Planets, but that’s been a bit of an obsession with me lately, as I had the pleasure of introducing kids at the music camp to it since our theme was “Outer Space: The Music of the Spheres.” The Planets is one of my favorite pieces of classical music. Our solar system’s planets fascinate me, so I had a great time discussing both the music and the planets themselves with the kids. If you’ve never heard it, I highly recommend it! It’s made up of seven unique movements; you’re bound to like at least one of them. My favorites are Jupiter and Neptune; my least favorite is Mars.

I. Mars, the Bringer of War. Holst wrote The Planets during WWI, so this ominous piece reflects the destruction and senselessness of war underneath a triumphant veneer.
II. Venus, the Bringer of Peace. Gentle, melodious tones bring peace and healing, with a sense of sadness for what has passed, but hope for what lies ahead.
III. Mercury, the Winged Messenger. Speedy Mercury is represented by the shortest movement in the suite. The quick, darting theme remind us of a bird.
IV. Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. Jupiter is the “king” of the planets as it’s by far the largest. The music sounds like subjects celebrating their beloved king.
V. Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age. This sad, wistful piece sounds like an old man remembering the glory days.
VI. Uranus, the Magician. One pictures a pompous magician (dressed in blue?) waving his wand around performing tricks.
VII. Neptune, the Mystic. Deep blue Neptune reminds us of the ocean. The quiet, changeful, siren-like music images an underwater journey.

What have you been doing this summer? On my second note, have you ever listened to Holst’s The Planets?

Life has been chock full of interesting experiences for me lately. Let’s see if I can cover them all in one blog post today!

At the end of June, I spent about a week in Nebraska with some dear friends. I experienced several firsts—first time milking goats (my hands got so tired!), first time helping with calf branding (probably the hardest work I’ve ever done), first time actually directing a horse while I was riding him instead of just sitting back and following a trail. These real-life, out-of-the-ordinary-for-me experiences really enriched me. The time in the unfilled countryside was so refreshing, and the close fellowship with my friends was so sweet.

Nebraska is for the most part wide open country. Southwestern Nebraska, my location, was full of steep hills that gave intrigue to the landscape and made up for the general deficiency in trees. Where trees did take root, however, they were thick and healthy. Mostly there were cattle, horses, corn fields, and wheat fields, but there were also houses, small towns, and wildlife. I was fascinated by the homes built into hillsides, the descendants of Little House on the Prairie-style dugouts. It seems I can’t go anywhere without being reminded of a book or an author; Nebraska is the state of Willa Cather, whose book My Antonia made a big impression on me several years ago. Her books had a big presence at the used bookstore I visited, as did the books by Elinore Pruitt Stewart, a woman who wrote about her homesteading life nearby in Wyoming.

The second week of July, I had a precious friend come stay with me for a bit, and we drove up to be staff members at a Bible camp in Oklahoma. I’ve gone to this camp for eleven years now, and every year is an incredible spiritual event in my life. This time was no exception. I love getting to serve here now that I’m older, but I’m always out-blessed.

When I got back from that camp, it was time to get fully prepared for a local music day camp that took place the first week of August. It was fun putting different creative muscles to work—planning crafts, doing a collage board, choreographing a dance, researching history, writing discussion outlines, and of course listening to music. The kids were fun to teach and interact with, and the other teachers were such gracious and talented people. Our theme was 1950s and ’60s music…talk about catchy songs! They’re still taking turns whirling in my head.

Using clothes as a teaching tool was fun – 1950s

Interspersed with all this, plus working and teaching karate, I’ve been developing my proofreading business. I’ve had almost nonstop projects since June, praise God. Fitting creative writing into that has been a challenge, but I’m still feeling my way forward and hope it will all slide into place once I get comfortable with the schedule and new routine.

So now you know how my summer has been! How about yours? Busier or slower than normal? What new experiences have you had?