Dog Days

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Well it’s that time of year again, the hottest of the hot. After the boys of summer have gone-(throwback thanks to Don Henley for that great song!)- we are left with the Dog Days of summer. Sultry temps and hot tempers; a time not fit for man nor beast. (As for me, I am decidedly in the beast category by this time of year.)  So what exactly constitutes a dog day?  Anciently, the Romans and Greeks vary the actual dates a bit, but the common thread is that toasty-hot July and August comprise the “dog days.” Of scriptural significance-(think Noah/Ark)-they span 40 days, and Europeans still refer to these dates as the Time of The Dog. So how did they come up with such a colorful name for this smokin’ hot time of year?  Well actually, the origins are celestial in nature.  In late summer, Sirius, AKA the “Dog Star” which just happens to sit behind the sun…rises prior to, or seemingly at the same time as the blazing sun, thus the ancient stargazers coined the title, “Dog Days.” 

Rising Dog Star + Rising  Sun=Dog Days

Those stargazers are a clever lot! Priests were the calendar keepers and watched from atop the temple for things to get “Sirius.”  The rising “Dog” star just happened to correlate with the suns hottest scorch..which is why “dog days’ get a bad rap. It’s all just coincidence-the hottest, brightest sun in combo with the brightest star in the night sky! 

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Egyptians had their own little nickname, calling it the “Nile Star,” because it posed a warning that the annual flooding of the Nile was eminent. Thus they knew to beat it to the canals and start irrigating the fields-knowing that the drenching would cleanse the land and generate fertility. (Fertility for the fields- not the folks, wink!)

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Fast forward…For us, dog days are the last hurrah. Summer vacation is winding down, school is looming large, (with all the preparation that entails, blech), and the time clock is ticking for the summer pools and late nights. It’s a time we feel our most lackadaisical, yet feel an urgency to squeeze every last drop out of that lemon for our summer lemonade. Oh, what do we do in the summertime? Dog days bring trips to the library for that great summer read, grilling up hotdogs, toasting marshmallows and slammin’ together s’mores.  It means making it to the only drive-in theater at least one time this summer. It means putt-putt, popsicles, and the zoo. Road trips and reunions. Kool-Aid, sprinklers and sunburn. Flip flops, bug spray, and lounge chairs. Summer is a time of family-fun celebration. 

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The Egyptians were celebrating too, as the floods receded and plant sproutings dotted the earth. (I like to think they partied by “walking like Egyptians”— groan!)

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We all know how destructive flooding can be, but out of destruction comes rebirth. So it is with summer’s end. It is a magical time of year, both  the end and cusp of a season and chapter in our lives. As summer exits, we are one year older in the school of life. We can’t go back to where we were before, and it will be a whole year till the dog days are back. It’s a transitional, somewhat melancholy time.

So this year when it really heats up, the AC is on the blink, the kids are screaming and you’re on your last nerve- don’t wish it all away  for back-to-school, fall weather, and routine. Press the pause button. Redirect your gaze heavenward, and seek out the brightest star in the sky. Sirius. The star of happy summer memories and blessed dog days.

                                                                                 

 Men should take their knowledge from the sun, the moon, and the stars… 

~Ralph Waldo Emerson    

                                                                                                                                                                                   

Out of the Closet

You know those mega craft stores? The ones that sell everything on the planet and then some? Those stores are awesome, but for me they’re overwhelming. Rows and rows and rows of geegaws to whip together into something spectacular!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty good at throwing things together. Those super craft stores are chock-full of ready-to-go home decor, and heaven knows there’s nothing I like better than spiffing up my home and changing things out. This allows me the luxury of thinking of myself as a creative person. However, that vein of creativity doesn’t lend itself to crafts. That gene missed me by more than a mile.

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It’s not like I haven’t tried, I’ve tangled with my fair share of glue guns and I’ve got the scars to prove it. But I’ve never emerged the victor when it comes to even the most remedial of crafts. I don’t know why that is. My friends are all crafty, I mean beyond talented. I have quilting friends and crocheting friends and jewelry making friends, painting friends and friends that can turn roadside junk into treasure, and I have one friend that can do all those things! My church-lady friends are all so talented that they could easily create and profit on Etsy.

But not me. I’m the girl who pays other people to do the craft for me at my church’s  Super Saturday, which is a ladies get-together and make–all-kinds-of-crafty-things day. These classes are usually geared so that even the most remedial crafter can make and take something awesome home…anyone except for me that is. (My creations could be famous as Pinterest fails.)  Weeks before the event, the upcoming projects are on display at the church. Even the display itself is a work of art, usually set up by some gal who has a large family, bakes her own bread, is getting her masters, and runs marathons. Then another little gal has meticulously scrapbooked handouts with tiny little brads and embellishments and it’s even magnetized so I can stick it to my fridge, so I have no excuse not to go and attempt at least one small project, after all how hard can it be?

Numerous friends, not believing  my un-crafty claims, have encouraged me over the years, even insisting I sign up for a class with them. Sadly, in my enthusiasm I always sign up even though I know what the outcome’s gonna be…I’m nothing if not enthusiastic! When we get there it’s literally crafting for dummies. But as everyone else sands and paints their little artsy-craftsy fannies off, I sit there like a lump, not knowing a stipple from a swoosh. I’ve watched hours of Bob Ross on PBS in preparation for this moment-but all to no avail. Everyone else gathers up their skillfully executed imaginative projects (they all have managed to complete multiple mini-classes). Meanwhile, I gather my one incomplete, sad-sack, sorry-looking whatchamacallit, and I swear I hear a few low whispers and giggles behind my back as I do the walk of shame to my car, leaving a glitter trail in my wake.

 

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Sneaking the eyesore into the house is the tricky part. My family encourages me in my crafty endeavors, so there’s always anticipation that maybe this time will be different. The hall closet door creaks like a haunted house as I quickly toss the latest misfit in, which unfortunately causes a chain reaction as twenty long years of Super Saturday projects avalanche back out, each one bearing a sad testimony of my inability to evolve as an artist. Not sure why I keep them. They certainly don’t help my self-esteem; they’re like a train wreck and I can’t look away. As I secret them back to their hidey-hole, I vow never again to be taken in by the crafty siren-song.  Maybe a little retail therapy is in order, after all I do have a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby, and I am looking pretty stylin’ in my artsy bandanna, rockin’ those paint and glue-gun battle scars if I do say so myself.  As I drive along I sing a little song, ‘Cause we are living in a Pinterest/Etsy world and I am a non-crafty girl…(All together now)

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