Taking stock on the first day of August

Today is August 1. We are at that point where we can look back and ask where the summer has gone, even though there is still plenty of summer left. College football starts this month. The first Memphis Tigers' contest is the 31st of this month. The 19-year-old heads back to college for his sophomore year three weeks from Friday. He's been home nearly three months already but it really doesn't seem that much time has passed. But it has, and next month we'll get our first taste of the forthcoming autumn chill. So here's what I'm up to these days:

Running: Despite missing almost a week of running due to illness earlier this month, I still somehow got in my requisite 50 miles for July. This is a goal I set for myself every month, and it is extremely rare that I miss. The last two times I did miss were due to injury and illness. This time, it took until the next-to-last day of the month after running 8 times in 11 days, but I finished at 51.41 miles. Two months from today I will begin training for the St. Jude half-marathon in Memphis (December 2).

Reading: At the moment, I'm reading "Absolom, Absolom!" by William Faulkner, and "The Coldest Winter," a 1,000-page tome by David Halberstam about the Korean War. "Absolom, Absolom!" is regarded as one of the best southern novels of all-time. Faulkner is a difficult read, and it's not often that I make the attempt.

Watching: Very little. I've gotten to where I rarely watch any TV. In fact, the only show I ever watch is CMT's Nashville, which is in its 5th season. I've seen every episode. I don't even watch sports anymore, or at least very rarely. It just doesn't have the allure that it used to. I'd rather be reading. Of course, Mrs. Lefty and I do occasionally rent a DVD from Redbox. It's just difficult for me to sit in front of a TV for any length of time and not get bored.

Tinkering: My summer projects are over. I replaced five light fixtures and three bathroom faucets. For me, this is huge. I'm not that good at these sorts of things. But the lights work and the faucets don't leak. Mrs. Lefty is pleased. So it was a success.

Anticipating: I have 9 trips to Memphis planned from later this month until early December, Lord willing. We'll start off by moving the 19-year-old back into his dorm at the UofM. Then we have 7 home football games. The grande finale is the half-marathon.

Missing: I haven't been in the hammock much lately. It's been too hot, even in the shade. I need a breeze, and none has been forthcoming. Now that it has turned cooler, I plan to enjoy the hammock this week.

Working: I haven't taken any time off since the latter part of May, when I went to see my brother graduate from medical school. I'm saving up my days off for all these trips to Memphis. Honestly, I've enjoyed not going anywhere this summer. We've take at least one family vacation every year for about 15 years in a row, until this year. I've been perfectly content spending a quiet, uneventful summer at home.

Undecided: Which serves the better chicken? Hattie B's in Nashville or Gus's World Famous Fried Chicken in Memphis? I can never settle on an answer. Whichever place I last visit always gets the nod. Right now it's Hattie B's, since I ate their just last week. But the next time I'm in Memphis and eat at Gus's, they'll go back on top. It's a perpetual seesaw.

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