Fleeting summer —that hasn’t started yet

On my bike ride the other night, I got waylaid by a good friend, who urged me to set a spell on his front patio.

The ensuing conversation covered a lot of ground, but I have to admit to being a bit stymied when he asked, “So what are you up to this summer?”

First of all, it hadn’t really occurred to me that summer was here. The weather ups and downs haven’t made it feel much like supper.

But there it is on my calendar. Summer officially starts Friday, which means that we are now at the peak of the longest days of the year. After this, the days start getting shorter again. That’s a bit depressing.

But the question also made me feel like a schoolkid again —the summer season looming ahead with nothing really to fill my time, no concrete plans. Except work, of course. There’s always plenty to do here at my desk.

Oh, there are things I want to accomplish in my spare summer leisure time. I want to get to work on a piece of furniture —a store counter in a previous life —that we hope will accommodate our flat screen TV and other components once it’s modified a bit and painted.

I want to do a lot of bike riding, walking and other forms of exercise in hopes of dropping the extra pounds that seemed to settle around my middle when I turned 50.

And then there’s the travel. Probably the question I get asked the most is, “Where are you going on your Jeep trip this year?”

Yes, Hubby Bryan and I are planning a major trip in our Jeep Wrangler (as well as some long weekend excursions, too). We have a few destinations in mind, but have yet to come to a consensus. They include a place we’ve been before but want to visit again; a trek through familiar territory to an unexplored region just on the other side; and then a much more ambitious plan that would take us through parts of six states to a completely new destination. From day to day, we seem to change our minds on which route to take.

So yes, I guess I am “up to” a few things this summer. Truth be told, Bryan and I have a long list of places we’d like to go and see this summer, but not enough free weekends to accommodate them. When will we find time to Jeep along the Mississippi River down to the Quad Cities? Or take the river road the other direction, up to Red Wing? Traverse north to Duluth? Visit the farmers market in Omaha again? Too many destinations, too few weekends.

Of course, I’d also like to find time for some kitchen experimentations, making use of some of the season’s bounty.

If your rhubarb plant is still producing, here’s a recipe that’s making the rounds of the social network sites. It’s similar to a popular one from DotMom’s “Mixing & Musing.”

Rhubarb Dump Cake

1 pound rhubarb, cut into ¼-inch pieces (between 3 and 4 cups)

1 cup white sugar

1 (3-ounce package) strawberry Jell-O

1 package yellow cake mix

1 cup water

¼ cup butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Spread the rhubarb evenly in the bottom of the baking dish. Sprinkle the sugar over the rhubarb, followed by the Jell-O, and finally the cake mix. Pour the water and melted butter over the top. Do not stir. Bake for 45 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender.

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