Monday, September 2, 2013

We have a mystery on our hands. After three, possibly four years of wearing nothing but polo shirts, Jack has suddenly taken to wearing tee shirts. He had to take tee shirts with him on his class camping trip last week, and since he's returned home, he's worn nothing but. To be honest, he looks adorable, and I'm wondering if some girl on the trip told him he was cute.

But just when I wondered if Jack was morphing into an entirely new creature, today when I dropped him off at Reid's pool party he grabbed his book as he hopped out of the car. "Don't bring a book," I told him. "By bringing a book to a party, you're signaling that you expect to be bored."

"They'll think it's weird if I don't show up with a book," Jack argued. "It's what they expect."

I suppose there's some truth to that.

Happy Labor Day, to those of you who observe the holiday. Labor Day has become one of those holidays that have lost all meaning, as far as I can tell. We don't have a Labor party here, and labor unions are out of favor with a lot of folks. In fact, it occurred to me this morning we should just sack the original meaning of Labor Day and make it a day to honor all women who've been through labor. I think we deserve an official holiday, don't you?

Will is campaigning to get a Bearded Dragon. He's been doing tons of research this weekend and is already referring to them as "Beardies," as in "When I get my Beardie, I'm either going to call him 'Beardie' or 'Spike.'" This lizard campaign was taken up after the snake campaign was thoroughly defeated. The Man can not tolerate the thought of keeping dead mice in the freezer for the snake's dinner. I can't say the thought bothers me terribly in theory, but in practice it might be an entirely different story.

I'm putting in my fall garden. We always plant lettuce, spinach and greens, but this year I'm also planting broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. I suspect that some percentage of this bounty will go to the local food bank, as I'm the only one in this family in love with winter veggies. But I'm having a lovely time looking out at my crops through the kitchen window.

I'm waiting for the back-to-school routine to truly kick in. The first week was the first week, which is always strange, and last week both boys went on their school trips, so that wasn't like a regular week, and this week we have Labor Day and Rosh Hashanah off, so it's not like a regular week.

You know what the funny thing is? I've spent my entire adulthood waiting for life to settle into a routine, and it never does.

My mother continues to respond well to chemotherapy. Tomorrow she goes in for round three of six. Her blood counts are nothing short of miraculous, and she's still not getting sick, but she's tired. Mostly she's reading and doing a tiny amount of sewing. Her spirits remain high, and folks are still bringing casseroles. Continued prayers are welcomed, and many, many thanks for the ones you've prayed already.

Have you read Susan Branch's A Fine Romance yet? Are you a fan of her blog? I love her. Reading her books and blog is like eating comfort food that has actual nutritional value. In any event, A Fine Romance is a handwritten diary of her trip to England last summer, and it's simply fabulous. Now I'm reading Elizabeth's German Garden, a book Susan read on her trip over to England on the Queen Mary II. It was published in 1898 (and you can download it for free from if you have a Kindle app!), but the feelings expressed are contemporary. Have you ever noticed that about literature, the truly good stuff? It feels like it could have been written yesterday.

I'm also reading A Green Journey by Jon Hassler. It's part of his Staggerford series, the first one I've read (and the only book of his my library has). The series is set in a small, fictional midwestern town, and this story concerns an elderly school teacher who makes a trip to Ireland. The characters seem very real to me--good people, but not perfect, not saccharine. Intelligent, observant. I'm going to buy the first book in the series when I'm done with this one.

That's my news for now. My new book came out, and you can read about it here. What are you reading right now that you would recommend?


Nancy McCarroll said...

A very heart congratulations on your book being published!

Am taking your reading comments regarding authors seriously and will download The German Garden now.

You made me realize that kale needs to go in to the ground in just a few weeks, as it is way too hot here now.

Glad your mom is tolerating the chemo thus far. I'm praying for Jane still.

Heather said...

I like your suggestion for the new meaning of Labor Day!

My daughter is campaigning for a Leopard Gecko right now. Ummmm...let me

Congrats on your new book release. I can't wait to read it!

Pom Pom said...

Hi Frances! Yay for Labor Day and its new meaning.
Our oldest son took books everywhere, too! Funny!
I am so thankful that your mom is doing well. We'll keep the prayers coming!
No on the reptile. Say no. We are not meant to live with things called Bearded Dragons. Just saying.
I'm excited about the new book! YES, can we PLEASE and FOR SURE Skype again? I have a good little group of readers again this year.
Love love and bless you, friend.

Jo said...

I have a tiny but determined campaigner for a bird. Any bird will do.

Gumbo Lily said...

Hi Frances! It's funny how kids change their dress codes and yet he's not changing his book-code. I like that. I'm so happy to hear that you mom is doing well through her treatments. She must have a very strong constitution. We had some little reptiles once -- chameleons of sorts -- that ate flies. It was fine through the summer, but by late fall we "set them free" because the fly supply had run out. Can Beardies be released?

I have not read Susan B's book, but I aim to. I'm really not reading anything right now except an essential oils "how to" book. Now I'll go read about your new book. Congrats!


wayside wanderer said...

I actually labored - the birth kind- on labor day 18 years ago. My husband worked retail so he actually got the day off that day that day.

Sandy H said...

I just finished the newest in the Inspector Gamache series. Great read for a long holiday weekend! Glad to hear AKA Mom is not experiencing terrible side effects. And, admittedly, I was usually the instigator of all pet life in our house but I had my boundaries: I was game on hermit crabs and would've been okay with lizards, but no snakes or spiders. Just, yuck.

GretchenJoanna said...

I vote for the new Labor Day!

It's great to hear about your mother, thank God!
...and this book A Green Journey sounds just right for me. I really need a novel, haven't had one in too long...I'd like to read your new book, too.

I have so many books to recommend! I bet you would enjoy the one I just started, The Supper of the Lamb by Capon. OR maybe you've already read it?

Book reviews - I love writing them but they become a full-time job. I must learn how to do short-and-sweet reviews. Ha! I hope to work on at least one on my upcoming retreat.

Tracy said...

I like your suggestion for labor day. We have the same thing here - it's a public holiday but no one really celebrates anything in particular, except that we have a long weekend. Perhaps it should be a widespread women's retreat weekend to truly get away from things we never get a break from?

Congratulations on the release of your newest baby. I'm sure it will be equally as good as the others. One of Mr Busy's friends was reading "The Kind of Friends We Used to Be" and he proudly said you and I are friends. I talk about you often and I think he likes that I know someone famous! His friend scoffed....their loss.

Boys are funny fellows, aren't they? I think it's cute that Jack is willing to change one part of his image but not another. Did he not think that people may think it's weird he's not wearing polo's? Perhaps it would've been a good time to ditch the book image.

GretchenJoanna said...

Frances, how many books are in that series with Green Journey, do you know? I'm trying to figure out if they should be read in a particular order, and so far Amazon doesn't seem to be helping with that question.

GretchenJoanna said...

O.k., I found out here: