A Girl Of Summer

I graduated from high school when I was still seventeen years of age, and worked part-time at a book bindery in our small town during my senior year. After graduation, it just made sense to continue full-time at the bindery, while keeping my eyes open for a better job in a larger town or even a big city. I had been hankering to get out on my own for several years and had even given some thought to attending college, but the idea of going into debt never appealed to me. On top of this, I was so introverted that the social aspects of school were very difficult for me.  In many ways, I was so uncomfortable around people that being in any large crowd or having to meet new people terrified me to the point where I suffered physically. So the summer after I graduated, I remained, comfortably, at the small book bindery, saving my money and dreaming of how my life would be.

This is me getting ready for school my senior year, 1979. The Farrah Fawcett look was all the rage back then!
This is me getting ready for school my senior year, 1979. The Farrah Fawcett look was all the rage back then!
One month after graduation I turned 18 and settled into my first apartment, above an electronics store in downtown York, Nebraska. My friend Sharilyn lived in the apartment across the hall. Terry cloth fabric was popular that year.
One month after graduation I turned 18 and settled into my first apartment above an electronics store in downtown York, Nebraska. My friend Sharilyn lived in the apartment across the hall. Terry cloth clothing was popular that year, as was wood paneling.

Recently, when FD and I set out on a trip to West Texas to fetch a great-niece who had just turned seventeen, I remembered those days of long ago. During a Christmas get-together at FD’s sister’s home last year, the topic came up of Haley possibly spending some time with us this summer. So, a couple of months prior to finishing her junior year in high school, Haley contacted us to confirm our offer and ask if she could spend the month of July with us. It had been a rough year for her personally, and she was really looking forward to having a place of refuge to come to, and a place of comfort. I thought about how many times I wished I had had a place to escape to at that age so, of course, we said she was welcome to come visit.

I knew I would have to slow down my busy pace and make time for Haley while she was here. We had talked about things she wanted to experience. Maybe if the game warden brought an orphaned wild critter she could help raise it. She hoped to try her hand at some cooking and baking. She had never gardened or harvested and put up fruits and vegetables for winter. We talked about FD and I taking her senior pictures and purchasing some special clothing for her to wear for the photo shoot. On top of everything, I knew she would flourish with some rest and quiet time. Haley has a younger brother and sister back home, and I knew all too well, having had a brother and four sisters younger than I, that being the eldest carried a lot of responsibility, which was often overwhelming. Oh how I had yearned for some quiet space when I was Haley’s age – some ME space, in which to regenerate and rest my mind.

Haley enjoys feeding Francesca a pecan. Nearly every morning Buddy, Francesca and Punkin come for a snack.
Haley enjoys feeding Francesca a pecan. Nearly every morning, Buddy, Francesca and Punkin still come for a snack.
The game warden brought me two orphaned raccoons which delighted Haley. After a long discussion about lack of appropriate caging and the temptation of the chickens just a short distance away, we decided the responsible thing to do would be to deliver these two cuties to WildCare for proper rearing. Haley was expert at handling them, despite some hissing and a slight scratch to her nose!
The game warden brought me two orphaned raccoons which delighted Haley. After a long discussion about lack of appropriate caging and the temptation of the chickens just a short distance away, we decided the responsible thing to do would be to deliver these two cuties to WildCare for proper rearing. Haley was expert at handling them, despite some hissing and a slight scratch to her nose from this innocent looking masked bandit!
Daisy accepted a few cherry tomatoes from Haley, but ears back means Daisy is being cautious!
Daisy accepted a few cherry tomatoes from Haley, but ears back means Daisy is being cautious!

Once she arrived, Haley seemed to settle in with us, and with life at the ranch, quite easily. For the most part, I found her to be self-entertaining, so I was able to go about my usual tasks and not worry about her. But she was also quick to help when I needed a hand in the kitchen or assistance with a little housekeeping.

On the weekends, we spent quite a bit of time in the pool, talking about life and Haley’s plans for her future. Late afternoons found us preparing meals in the kitchen and having lots of fun tormenting Uncle FD when he got home from work. Many evenings, I finished up dishes while Haley and FD went to battle each other in the pool shooting hoops. Haley never has been able to out shoot her Uncle, but she has learned to block his long shots with some impressive jumping skill. Yeah… girl power – that is what farm girls are all about!

Getting the best of Uncle FD!
Getting the best of Uncle FD!
Taking a break from shooting hoops!
Taking a break from shooting hoops!
FD encourages and gives a little instruction.
FD encourages and gives a little instruction.

We still have another month with our girl of summer, and Haley is still revealing her personality to us. It takes time to get fully comfortable with people you are just beginning to figure out, but she has found her niche in the day. We all have our daily rituals that give us comfort and security – and Haley’s has been about learning all sorts of new kitchen skills. We are still working on getting her to participate in the gardening, harvest, and putting up winter stock, but not everyone enjoys those aspects of country life. And I cannot blame her for not being too keen on the idea of getting out and working in the heat and humidity that Oklahoma summers are famous for! Overall, I think it has been a good and therapeutic time for Haley, and she looks quite healthy and bright.

We picked the coolest day in the forecast to shoot Haley's senior pictures. A hot and humid 84 degrees rose to the low 90's by afternoon. Still, we managed some great shots. This photo was taken in Daisy's clover patch in our yard.
We picked the coolest day in the forecast to shoot Haley’s senior pictures. A hot and humid 84 degrees rose to the low 90’s by afternoon. Still, we managed some great shots. This photo was taken in Daisy’s clover patch in our yard.
This photograph would later torment Haley and I. We ventured into the pecan orchard in the electric buggy as the weeds were four feet tall. Little did we know we would be attacked by chiggers! We are STILL itching like mad!
Getting this photograph would later become a torment for Haley and me. We ventured into the pecan orchard in the electric buggy as the weeds were four feet tall. Little did we know we would be attacked by chiggers! We are STILL itching like mad a week later!
Still in the pecan orchard unknowingly being attacked by chiggers, Haley discovers a great prop for the next photo series!
Still in the pecan orchard, unknowingly being attacked by chiggers, Haley discovers a great prop for the next photo series! A rusty old horse trailer is perfect for a farm girl photograph.
An evening trip to the wildlife refuge of the Wichita Mountains, finished off the last of the photo shoot. Haley and I were worn smooth out (as they say in the south) and FD rewarded us with a nice dinner at a nice restaurant in Medicine Park - a tourist town near Lawton, Oklahoma.
An evening trip to the wildlife refuge of the Wichita Mountains, finished off the last of the photo shoot. Haley and I were worn smooth out (as they say in the south) and FD rewarded us with a nice dinner at a restaurant in Medicine Park – a tourist town near Lawton, Oklahoma.

And for me? I certainly did not expect Haley to come as a teacher in my life. But, once again, I find I have been presented with a visitor who has arrived to help me understand that maybe there was room in my world to see life from the perspective of a seventeen-year-old girl again. A view revealing that I might do better to slow down and enjoy the good times, rather than tear through the day trying to complete my “to do” list come hell or high water. Haley has helped me see that my rigid ways and my tunnel vision about finances, and time, and waste, might be just a little extreme. And she has caused me to realize it is a lot of fun to occasionally fall off the Paleo meal wagon and eat something sweet, something totally not cavegirl appropriate! Most of all, Haley has managed to break through my tough exterior with five little words that she sometimes yells across the room, or sneaks up and whispers in my ear – “I LOVE you Aunt Lori!”

Haley discusses the sight, sound and scent of rain from her perspective - this particular shower reminded her of "movie" rain!
Haley discusses the sight, sound, and scent of rain from her perspective – this particular shower reminded her of “movie” rain!
One word: Adoration.
One word: Adoration.

No, I never imagined this summer would be about revisiting the age of seventeen, or about learning to loosen the apron strings of my busy, 50-something life. But I am very glad that it has been…

© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…


61 thoughts on “A Girl Of Summer

      1. I am home, had a shop accident in June and have problems to deal with on my right hand. It appears that my traveling for this year, has been put on the back burner for the remainder of the year.

        Dragonflies headed south, cool weather is a coming.

        Don

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        1. I have so much reading to catch up on. Dang, you can’t catch a break can you? Well, if that is true about the dragonflies, then I’m ready! The heat is really wearing on me and my gardens.

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  1. Aah this post is so darn cute and you have revealed a bit more of yourself. I’m glad that you are learning to let up some and to relax more. Your niece is a pretty girl and I see that good looks runs in the family. Your were and still are very attractive and photogenic. And the pictures that you and FD took of her are very good. However, one stands out and that is the excellent close-up of photo number- she is wearing a brown dress which compliments her blond hair and there are no deep shadows under her nose or on her face. The natural light is perfect for her face in that picture. The pose is also very good.

    Oh and I grew up saying “plum beat” or “dead tired.” I have no idea where the plum came from but that is what I heard my folks and other people say. It might be a regional expression. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Yvonne. The brown dress was a favorite of ours too. I am still not good at catching every aspect of a photograph – especially with lighting. I prefer overcast days where I don’t have to worry about too much light or a dappled effect. There is much to consider when doing more professional shots. I don’t have to be so careful with nature. Wildlife doesn’t give me time to think about the right shot! Most of the time I’m just lucky to get a shot at all!! 🙂

      We said “dead tired” up north in Nebraska. I think you are right about the “regional” expressions. I tend to find a lot more humorous sayings here in the South.

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  2. An absolutely wonderful piece. Amazing how you have ‘woven’ your younger days with Haley’s. You’re right. Sometimes, it takes such ‘incidents’ to take us out of the shells we have locked ourselves in. The best part is that you, and Haley, have enjoyed thoroughly!

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    1. Thank you, Mandeep. Yes, I think any time I am around young people, I remember so much of my own childhood. Sometimes I can learn and see things in a better light than I did back then. This is one of those experiences. We must open our hearts to change… or at the very least to see another perspective.

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  3. What a great opportunity and experience for your niece; for you and FD as well. Chiggers are no fun. That was an annual experience at summer camp each year – wallowing around in creek mud. That 70/80s paneling was so special…:-)

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    1. Ha ha!! Oh Dan, you cracked me up with that paneling comment! Isn’t that the most awful stuff? The house I grew up in had the “fake” paneling – it wasn’t real wood. I am pretty sure that is one style that won’t be returning… something like that wall to wall shag carpeting. Gads!!

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  4. Oh Lori, your need to escape after highschool and just find a quiet place mirrored my own feelings. I was also the eldest and felt a lot of responsibility. I don’t know if I really knew how to have fun or I felt guilty if I did. I was an introvert in a family of extraverts and our house was very small. Fortunately university was free for students at that stage (but isn’t now in Australia). I must admit though that it was very intimidating being around so many people and I found it hard to feel comfortable. I was always escaping to my room for quiet time. I had the same haircut and terry towelling shorts and tanktops! I remember how much time we put into getting that Farrah Fawcett “flip curl over” thing right! I’m so glad that you have been able to give Haley that quiet space and time that she needs. I’m also very glad that she’s been a teacher to you too. I am also prone to rushing about and fretting over things. Young people do remind us to enjoy life a bit more as they still see the fun in life. We probably find it hard to relax because we had so much responsibility at a young age, Lori. I know quite a few eldest children who find it difficult to really let go and just have fun! 🙂 I love you too, Lori. 🙂 Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing your heart. x

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    1. Jane, our lives have been so much the same. I suppose that is why when I read your writing I feel such a strong connection. Oh, had we been school mates all those years we’d have been thick as thieves! Gosh you nailed it with the time spent on that Farrah Fawcett curl!! I admit I had horrible morning fits before school if my flips didn’t turn out perfect!! Then I’d be scrambling at the last minute to finish up everything else. I found Haley at the computer last night looking over her photos and culling out the ones that she wasn’t fond of. Most discards were due to her hair not looking just right!! I think we women always lament our hair. I completely agree that it’s been the hardest thing for me to let go and have fun. I’ve done more of that this summer… and I pay attention to Haley when she tells me it’s time for a nap, or a quick half hour watching a TV show we love to watch together, or an afternoon in the pool. It’s tough… I’m so rigid about my “organized” life. But… I am willing to explore more in this adventure of being a little careless with my time and “to do” list!! Ha ha!! Thank you, Jane, for such a lovely comment. I’m feeling the love… and back atcha! 🙂

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  5. This is an incredibly love-filled and poignant post. Your words capture the spirits of a beautiful young woman and you and FD, her loving aunt and uncle. Open your heart and home and you are blessed.

    Your senior photos of Haley are stunning. She is so beautiful and I absolutely adore the peasant style dress in the first frame. Reminds me of styles from the early 70s, my era.

    Thank you for sharing this story. You have blessed me this morning.

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    1. Well your comment blessed me, Audrey! I got tickled at Haley’s dress when she chose it. It’s very similar in style and fabric to a dress I owned in the late 70’s. Haley was a natural in front of the camera. I didn’t have to prompt moves or smiles – just a few posture changes. She’s been pouring over more than 500 shots – of course there are discards but I’m letting her do all of that. We have a few more weeks before she’ll head back to West Texas. I love your words,”Open your heart and home and you are blessed”. Isn’t that the truth?

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  6. What a wonderful opportunity for Haley. She’s a natural beauty and I bet the experience has made her even more beautiful inside. She’s fortunate to have such a loving aunt and uncle to show her about living in harmony with nature (well, as harmoniously as we can figure out, right?)–and how the experience can be centering. I bet Haley’s visit has also been good for you too, helping to shoo away the blues. I hope we have an opportunity like this someday.

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    1. Monica, we have entertained many nieces and nephews over the years, but some of them have more of a pull to rural life and connect with nature more easily. I can’t say the experience has been as fruitful with the kids that have their noses in electronic devices, want to park in front of a TV all day, or refuse to venture outdoors. We all have our niches in the world… I tend to think the “nature” people have the skinny on happiness and relaxation! You’re right… Haley has enjoyed this time and we have too!

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  7. I hope everything is OK with Haley, the last we heard of her she was raising funds for that awesome trip to the big smoke :). What an amazing aunt you are. I had an amazing aunt, nowhere NEAR as cool as you (and F.D.) that we occasionally visited when we were kids as a bit of respite for my mum. There is something very special about being able to spend time with someone who really doesn’t have vested interests in who you are or how you “turn out”. There is a liberating freedom in being able to just hang out and get to know someone else in your family and you and F.D. have welcomed Haley with open arms (AND a pool!) and have given her time away from her regular life where she can think about things and spend some time being herself. She will remember this summer forever Lori and you and F.D. will always be special to her :). By the way you were one cute pattooti as a kid 😉

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    1. Ha ha! Thank you, Fran. I think you are spot on about just hanging out with family without so many expectations and attachments – I love how you put it – “turned out”! 🙂 Ok Fran, now you really have me wondering… Haley was planning a trip with her choir to NYC, but that fell through in early spring. However, I do not remember writing about Haley in the past. I did write about Emily, my niece in Nebraska, who was fund-raising to play her clarinet at Carnegie Hall in NYC, but that was last year and she did go, and FD and I went too and I did write about that. Could it be Emily you are thinking of? Gee, I wish Haley was going to NYC after all. FD and I would go too… we’ve been hankering to return and see more of the Big Apple!! 🙂

      Oh, I thought I was “all that” at that age – you know how kids are! I thought it was funny how I stressed about my hair and makeup so much back then. When Haley was going through her senior pics last night she was critiquing her hair the most. It’s good to be the age I am. Life is much more simple! 🙂

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      1. Oops! Yup, mistook her for Emily ;). They are both very pretty girls. I hope Haley’s hassles and past year are behind her now and that her visit with her awesome aunt and equally awesome uncle have smoothed out the wrinkles and made life feel like fun again. Teenagers have SO many hassles these days. When we were kids it was a lot easier. You just went out and got a job (how was it so easy to get one back then?) Met “the boy” and your summers were full to the brim with going out to beaches and partying?! Nowadays it is so much harder having to focus on going to college, finding 40 jobs to pay for it (at minimum wage) and traversing the incredible range of distractions that life has thrown at kids. We didn’t have those distractions and we were free to fully engage in our lives. Some kids spend their whole days nose down in technology without ever surfacing once to smell the roses. It is a really different world now!

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        1. What a thoughtful comment, Fran. It IS a very different world out there today. To me the life of a young person today is full of expectation. The world is fast-moving and to be “successful” in society means being someone I never was, nor wanted to be. I followed the fast track for many years, being and doing what was deemed successful. Young people have to figure it out just as we did. It IS as simple as stepping away from the “hassle” and discomfort of societal expectation. What I love of Haley is her confidence to live her dreams despite setbacks or potholes in her path.

          I think Haley and Emily would be good friends. They have much in common and are about the same age. That is another thing that has gone by the wayside – when people marry, both families often never know each other, the in-laws and extended family.Aside from the wedding, there isn’t much interaction. Back in my grandparents day families of all relation did their best to come together for reunions or holiday events. It was looked forward to. People are too busy now, and often there is division in families for one reason or another. 😦

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          1. It was the same over here Lori. I remember extended family (and there were a LOT of us in our small town!) all got together for birthdays and weddings and hired a small hall out midway between where everyone lived, hired a small local band and made the place rock. Life WAS different then. We had no technological distractions and we had different lives. We were more engaged with our families and friends and were better for it. I am starting to sound like my grandmother! Next I will be talking about how I had to walk 50 miles to school in the snow! 😉

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          2. Ha ha!!! Well I did walk to school until I was old enough to drive, but it was just a few blocks. I guess I could add that many times I walked in snow since I lived up north where it is bitter cold in the winter. I do find myself talking about “when I was a kid” just like my parents and grandparents did. But you know, when I was young and they were telling me how it was for them, I was fascinated. Every generation has so much change… so much history. If a kid is smart they listen to those memories of the “old folks”. I don’t have my grandparents or my Dad anymore. Oh what I would give for one day with them now – and the questions I would ask!!

            I love you Fran… we have GOT to meet one day! 🙂

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          3. 🙂 We thought our childhood was boring. Just imagine how interesting it is going to be to kids in a generations time? Who knows what it will be like by that stage and we will have memories of when times were simple and live was easy and you just “were”. We live in interesting times 🙂

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          4. Haley has been amused by some of our childhood stories. I know I loved hearing my Grandparents talk about the good old days. It was very different from anything I knew… I just couldn’t imagine some of the situations and lifestyles of that time. Now our childhood memories will seem archaic and weird to the younger generations…. and I am no different than my parents or grandparents – my era was the best – and it was, wasn’t it? 😉

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    1. Thank you, Tom! Yes, we have had some raccoon problems in the chicken barn in the past – those were wild raccoons. I’m afraid raising them would be even more of a problem for the chickens in such close proximity. Wildlife of any kind do not make good pets. They sure are cute though. 🙂

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  8. Well, this had me leaking all over the keyboard. Of Course, Haley turned out to be a Teacher! I love how that happens. All the pix are incredible, but that last shot with FD–well, that’s Love.

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    1. Yes Sandy, FD and Haley have always been close. I have a lot of candid photographs… taken when neither of them is posing. Often they are hugging, both with eyes closed. I think he would keep her if her mother said it was ok!! Ha ha. The teachers keep arriving, don’t they? It’s not easy on me, but the thing is to keep an open heart and listen to the message. 🙂

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  9. Hi Lori, The role of auntie (and uncle) is an honourable one. Aunties and uncles can have a special place in the lives of young people.
    I can’t compare my nieces who are 15,18 and 21 years old with how I was at the same age. We are totally different creatures. I am awed by their confidence and sense of adventure.

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    1. Margaret, I totally relate here… I think that may be true of every generation. The world changes and our perception of behavior and living is based on what we experienced decades before. There has been much for me to understand with Haley living here… and I am sure the very same is true for her regarding the ways of her Auntie and Uncle. It is good to be respectful on both sides. 🙂

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  10. I love all the photos, and all the LOVE!! I think my favorites pics of Haley are where she’s wearing those new boots; she looks awesome!! I’m thinking her stay has been good for all of you, and the pictures show it. I’d love to see some with YOU in them, of course 😉

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  11. Without a doubt, my most favorite post yet… She will look back and cherish every moment, and you will too my friend. Everyone teaches us something different about ourselves, the trick is to recognize it.

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    1. Aw, thanks Joni! It seems I have had a lot of teachers in the last few years… you included. You seem to know how to say just the right thing with love and compassion. 🙂

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  12. This brought tears to my eyes, Lori. What a beautiful story and young woman. Teachers come in all shapes and sizes, don’t they? I had an Aunt whose home was a refuge for me and eventually for my best friend years later. She had no children of her own but she really knew how to bring a teenager out of her shell. I’m an introvert person, even though I have learned extrovert skills, and dealing with humans is still fraught with stressful situations for me. I could really relate to this piece, but also be so happy for you all. I’m sure this visit will be a changing point in Haley’s life. What a gift. xx

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    1. Thank you for such a lovely comment, Ardys. I have often said that it isn’t always our parents or our families that are influential in our lives – it can be anyone. A neighbor, co-worker, teacher – we never know who could be pivotal in our lives. The woman who made a difference in my life as a teenager was a good friend of my mother’s. I never forgot her compassionate words and the way she made me feel special. One of my favorite quotes is, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

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  13. A time travel post back and forth. Written as if sultry Summer wrote it herself. Laid back, day dreamy, and reflective. (Oh Farrah! You got that look down)
    You are such a good photographer. The brown dress one is so professional. I love the expressions of all in the raccoon one. (And firm girls learn there’s more ways than one to make something happen)
    Being able to pause what is ordinary life to Haley and substitute being at the farm was such a gift – to all. I love her seeing the “movie rain”. That’ll stick.
    What a lovely post

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    1. Thank you! The “movie rain” stuck with me too. The other day we had “romantic rain”. It’s always refreshing to see life from the perspective of the young… and to reflect and remember our own young days. “Sultry Summer” is about right… maybe after this last rain it’s more like sweltering summer!! ha ha!

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  14. Lori, there is so much to love in this post! Weather reading about your own teenage years or seeing all the wonderful pictures of Haley, I was captivated from the beginning.

    I’m so grateful that Haley has you and JD to guide her, show her love and joy, to make her feel useful and valued, and to open her eyes and mind to all that you can offer. And you all are blessed as well by her presence.

    The photos are gorgeous! Enjoy every moment that you have together, and thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Laurie! Haley has kept us very busy this summer… I have let some of my usual summer activities slide. I think it has been a summer we will all remember. Hey, are you still on vacation? You be careful out there… especially when you are out in the dark smelling water!! Ha ha! I hope you are having a wonderful time. 🙂

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  15. This brought tears to my eyes, a good thing, and in a way I am certain only you will understand.
    What beautiful ladies you both are! (Now and then) And, as you often tell me, You rock, Lori!

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