TheMcKeeSpot is a blog by Steven McKee. The purpose of this blog is for me to explore things that interest me as I plan for my next 50-plus years on this planet. Starting out, I am writing about my family and activities, but as time progresses, it will be about anything. Stay tuned, check in often and enjoy the ride.
Today marks the first day of summer. Started humming the Brian Adams tune “Summer of 69”, which I recall was big during the summer of 1983. I was back in Pennsylvania. I had graduated from college and was getting ready for graduate school. I recall that was a hot summer for some reason. And here in New Mexico, today is hot (mid-80’s) and windy. Low humidity, and blue sky. Yes, I was able to get back about midnight after the travel day from hell.
It was good that I was able to get home because I had lots of things to do. I had to feed the horse first thing in the morning, go to work on my day off to deal with some pressing things, pick up the dog from the kennel, take daughter riding and pick up son from nature camp. Horse and dog are fine, children are well, and I didn’t get sucked in on my day off.
Summertime usually coincides with the kickoff of the afternoon monsoon season. Monsoon season has been on again, off again over the past two decades. Monsoon season is usually when the rain clouds form above the mountains to the west during the day. By the afternoon, we have a thunderstorm with rain. They typically hit every afternoon and last about a half an hour at most. But the thunder and lightening can be quite impressive. They add their own unique set of colors to the New Mexico sky, which is a palette containing a variety of colors. The skies are often light blue or dark blue. They are some of the deepest blues that I have ever seen. And of course, the white puffy clouds. Often with the monsoons are large and very colorful rainbows. Sadly, I have yet to find a pot of gold. Another sky anomaly, depending upon the sunlight, the angle in the sky, and other weather conditions are the variety of other colors present in the sky: yellow, orange, red, and pink. These colors are often present at sunrise and sunset.
We have a quiet weekend planned. Daughter plans to work at Goose Downs. Son has nothing on the horizon but we have some work to do at the stables in terms of cutting weeds and getting the barn ready for the first delivery of hay shortly. Aside from housecleaning, perhaps I can read some more of my book.
Quiet is good. I never sleep well on travel, so I often return very tired and need the weekend to recover. Plans for July and August are starting to take shape. Two horse competitions; one in July and one in August. My 40th high school reunion is in a July. Still trying to decide if I will make it back. Sounds like a few folks that I haven’t seen in 40 years may be there. July is pretty busy already, making a long weekend trip back east difficult, but we shall see.
This week starts the summer break for the kids, about three months off from school. For daughter, the time will be spent riding. What hasn’t been worked out yet is whether she spends the weeks here at the stables riding her horse, or splitting the week riding here and several days at the stables south of Santa Fe, where she gets her training. The great thing about the latter is that she gets to work with many different horses.
There are other advantages for splitting the week. She gets some professional training with people watching and coaching. This is something that she doesn’t get riding at the stables closer to home.
For son, his summer will be spent at several camps. The majority of the summer weeks will be spent at art classes. Interspersed between the art camps are camps for hiking and outdoors, and a two week robotics class. The hiking explores the landscape around where we live and the forces that shaped the local mountains, getting wet and dirty. The second week explores the creatures that live in the dirt, the water and the mountains.
Then there is robotics. There they will learn how to build, program and control basic robots. We thought this would be great since he likes computer games. Reading up on the subject, it looks like they use LEGO
kits. Hopefully this will allow him to learn basics, to be creative, and to have fun.
Anyway, this summer should be fun, busy and keep them outside.
Today starts the final week of the school year for my son and daughter. Every year the schools send out information about summer reading programs, books to read, things to try to get the kids to read during the summer months. It’s a great idea and I try to do my best to get my children to read over the summer. There are two approaches that I take to accomplish this.
The first approach is pure capitalism. They get to choose the book and if it meets with my approval, then they read it. For every book that they read, I will pay them twenty dollars. The book has to meet with my approval, otherwise, the legal minds that are my children will argue over what constitutes a book. There is no prescribed number of pages, it cannot be a short story or a comic book. A collection of short stories is fine, but they have to read all of it. There is no quiz, or essay. I just need to see them reading. They are not speed readers, so devouring 100 pages in a day will cause me to question the actual reading. But it is the honor system, which I try to impress upon them is as important as being able to communicate well. The art of communication is dying in our society, between texts and tweets and emoji’s. It is certainly something that I struggle with and try my best to get it right. But I will let you be the judge based upon my blog posts.
The second approach is to lead by example. By that I mean if they see me reading, perhaps they will also read. I cannot ask them to do something that I then will not also do. I’m not going to pay myself twenty dollars, but I am going to read. One reason will be to generate ideas for future blog postings.
For the start of my summer reading, I have chosen a book that has constantly gotten the better of me. On a Facebook post once, I commented in the category of things people may not know about me is that I have managed to read the Bible twice, cover to cover. Odd as I am not a religious person, but we can explore that in some future blog. No my challenge for the summer will be my fourth attempt to read Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Why? First is that being a Rush fan, their songs were influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. Yes, I have seen the movies but the story is as important today as when it was written. Every time I start reading a book, I put the date and where I am at the time I am reading it. For this start, I wrote “here is hoping that the 4th time I will finish”. My copy is worn, having been purchased in the summer of 2011. I think I bought it as part of a trip to go see Rush in concert.
I’ll keep you informed of the summer reading challenge for both me and my kids. I’ll have more words tomorrow as I explore this new world of blogging and work to improve my own communication skills.