Sheila K. Collins Website



July 2014  

Masthead Sheila K. Collins from Website


"Summertime and the living is easy," according to Gershwin and Hayward in their folk opera Porgy and Bess. The song seems to promise a carefree time in nature, fishing, swimming, and the sights and sounds of birds flying high. It always seemed to me an invitation to let go of responsibilities held down in other seasons. The planting is done, and the work of the harvest is still a ways away.


My summer schedule still has lots of projects on it, and a vacation is not one of them. But this month, with the summer stretching out ahead, I write about summertime by the river here in Pittsburgh and remember another summer day years ago that I spent with my mother.


I wish for you the ease and grace of Gershwin's song. Here is link to it. 

The song Summertime  

Kathleen Battle sings
Kathleen Battle sings "Summertime" 
Gershwin's Porgy and Bess

If you're in Pittsburgh, join us at 2 pm the afternoon of July 19th at the Cooper-Siegel Library on Fox Chapel Road for an InterPlay class. Newbees especially welcome!  


I hope to see you this summer in Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Racine Wisconsin or southern California.  




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Friday June 27, 2014

Here I am sitting on the edge of a soccer field outside Dayton Ohio, on the canvas folding chair I brought in my car from Pittsburgh. Weather predictions were for rain but it's sunny, hot and humid.  Unseen and unnamed bugs are having a good lunch on me, and I'm wishing I had a big umbrella as shelter from the sun like several of the more experienced soccer moms brought.



Saturday June 21, 2014

Today is the Summer Solstice. It is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, because the Earth tilts 23.5 degrees on its axis and causes this part of the Earth to face the sun directly. We're not moving closer to the sun as people often think, it's just a better direct angle. In the southern hemisphere, it's the Winter Solstice and the shortest day of the year as the tilt changes their angle in the opposite direction...  CLICK HERE



Friday June 6, 2014

Last Monday was our 35th wedding anniversary. When I think of celebrating, I think of the two of us doing something out of the ordinary, something that we will remember in future years. We never involve family or friends because frankly, no one we knew at the time thought it was a good idea for us to get married. My family and the Catholic Church wanted nothing to do with this union given that I had been married before... CLICK HERE



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Summer Scenes    


Summer where I live is about action at, on or near Pittsburgh's three rivers. Somehow being near the water sends a message of taking it easy, though that's now exactly what people are doing outside my window. Boaters noisily speed by, sometimes with a skier riding behind, while bigger boats move in tune with the river's currents, initiating waves that ripple to its edge. Yesterday while watering my new container garden on my deck I saw some women standing on paddle boards in the water. I learned later they were doing yoga on the boards, the newest water-based activity to come to Pittsburgh. Later on this holiday week, we'll likely see kayakers, rowers, and sports fisherman trying their luck.


In some ways all this activity is a celebration of the fact that the water has been cleaned up from the days when mills spilled waste into it. Hurray for clean water and clean air. In this part of the country, we don't take either for granted.         




I'm remembering another summer day. It was July and stifling hot. I'd traveled by myself to Kentucky to visit my parents since my mother had been ill and the doctors hadn't been able to pin point a reason for her pain. She'd lost quite a bit of weight which, had she felt better would have been an occasion to celebrate, given all the years of diets and attempts to be thinner. We were sitting in lawn chairs in the back yard under some trees to try to keep cool while my father was attempting to install a window air conditioner in their bedroom.


The air seems to stand still and sweat rolled down my back as I uncoiled the garden hose and began running cold water over my 70 year-old mother's still shapely legs. We sat for quite a while in silence, watching the rippling water come out of the nozzle, bringing cool comfort as it splashed onto our feet and legs and soaked the grassy ground beneath us. I asked what she thought was wrong with her. She said she didn't know but, as a nurse, she knew it wasn't good. By the end of that summer, I'd be back to attend her funeral.

Sheila K. Collins, PhD 

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