Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Hello! I'm in the middle of cooking dinner, but I'm afraid if I don't post now, I'll forget later. I've got book group tonight, and who knows when we'll finish up. Could be 9:00, could be 11:00. Suzanne, the earliest riser among us, always gets sleepy by 8:45. Sometimes I look over and her eyelids are fluttering the way mine used to do in Econ 101 ... Bless her heart, as we say here in the South.

Did I do yoga today? Yes, I did yoga today! Was it the old ladies yoga class? Yes, it was the old ladies yoga class! I was awesome. I kicked yoga butt. It's possible I was overqualified. On Friday, I'm going to try Gentle Yoga, which looks like it's the next step up, and this time yoga will probably kick my butt. But today I was victorious.

The gate pictured above is helping to keep the deer out of one of our neighborhood gardens, the one at the top of the hill. It's a group garden, and usually it's filled with all sorts of interesting things, but this year it's more subdued. Is someone missing? Did one of the gardeners decide to take this summer off?

We have a small garden this summer--tomatoes, peppers, blueberries and raspberries. We knew we'd be busy, and there's nothing more depressing than to look out your window mid-July and seeing a half-acre of weeds. Also: my children are the least adventurous eaters in the west, and the Man and I got tired of eating all those eggplant and summer squash by ourselves last year.

Okay, the bacon is done and I must put the Cobb salad together. That's it for today. Except for this: I found a picture of the boarded-up house I talked about yesterday. I knew I must have taken at least one! Here it is:

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

This clothesline was in the yard of an shuttered-up house on Ocracoke Island. The house (and the clothesline) belonged to a couple who had retired to Ocracoke--she died in 1994 and he in 1997, and they are buried there on a hill at the edge of this property. A utility worker I ran into while I was snooping around said the family still owns the property but doesn't use it.

For some reason, I failed to take a picture of the house, but I did get one of this shed:

 It's all very lush and beautiful and vaguely spooky. There was a screened porch that wasn't boarded up, and I wanted to go press my nose against the screen and see what I could see, but I was too afraid that a face would pop up in front of me and scare me to death, so I didn't.

I like hidden away places. I like secret paths. I like knowing only half the story. When I got home, I looked up the couple and learned a little bit more about them (he worked for the State department and was an assistant dean at Yale Law School, for instance, and neither of them were from North Carolina), but I didn't learn anything real about them. I guess in a way I already knew a few real things--that even though they weren't from Ocracoke, they loved it enough to retire there and be buried there. I don't know if I want to know a whole lot more.


What have we done today? Will worked out with the school baseball team this morning. I don't know why they're working out this summer, except maybe to build team cohesion or something, since they don't play fall ball. Maybe they just wanted to make sure Will got some exercise.

Jack? I don't know what Jack does. He's supposed to get some exercise, but to my knowledge he's had none since we got back from the beach. I will begin my nagging anon.

I wrote a bit and watched it rain and went to Whole Foods and walked Travis and made dinner and did laundry ... Just a regular day in the life. Tomorrow: yoga! Really. I mean it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm back from Florida. The weather today--mid-eighties, medium humidity--feels downright arctic compared to the wild, thick heat of Orlando. This morning I picked blueberries and raspberries. That part of our garden has been woefully untended these last few weeks, but now that it's really, truly summer, I plan to be a better caretaker.

Here's a picture of the me being a panelist. I'm the one with the short dark hair. I'm sitting next to an famous author who has entered the world of children's literature. She was lovely, I'm pleased to inform you.

I'm always very nervous when I go to these big events, but everyone this weekend was wonderful and kind. And when I went to do my book-signing yesterday there was actually a line! I'm always sure no one will come, but they do. I adore librarians. They're my favorites.

This morning I woke up to this fabulous comment from Mags:

Ah, talk of the attic. I love your attic. Please go on just talking about the attic. It gives me such hope! I feel those blues right now. Summer starts on Thursday here (despite the fact that we have had our summer weather month in May, as always, and it will just rain on and off now, as always), and I am stressed and sad at the thought of all the interesting things to do that will stay on slips of paper in the interesting things to do jar, and at the knowledge of all the screen time and fights that will not stay in the screen and fights jar. Sigh. There may be reading and music practice, but that will come our of the fights jar too!

Mags, I promise to keep talking about the attic. It makes me feel hopeful too. It's such a dream--that somehow, someday, I'll clean up all my messes and get rid of all the junk in my life. As though that were possible. But it's pretty to think so, and some days it seems almost possible.

And thank you, Miss M, for admitting that you, too, feel the summer blues. It's good to know I'm not alone. I don't know about the UK, but here in the US there's an endless stream of messages about how fun, fun, fun summer is. Summer in my part of the world is beautiful, but it goes on too long. And yes, the screen time and fights refuse to stay in the jar.

I'm very, very tired of screen time.


I'm going to try to write here every day, Monday through Friday. One of the hard things for me about summer is the lack of routine, so I'm looking for ways to give my days more structure beyond writing time. So check in, say hi, and wish me luck!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Still Waiting for Summer to Start

At the Ocracoke Island History Museum. My favorite exhibit is the circa 1930s kitchen.

Okay, it sort of has started, but I'm still in that stage of denial where I believe things will settle into a wonderful, productive summer routine. They never do, but a girl can dream.

Last week we took our annual trip to Ocracoke Island on North Carolina's Outer Banks. For reasons I can't explain (but I swear aren't morbid), I spent a lot of time in graveyards this trip. There are eighty-one burial sites on the island, which seems excessive until you think that people have been living and dying on Ocracoke for close to two hundred years. Most of the graveyards are small, some with only a few stones. Some are neatly tended to, and others have been grown over by vines and weeds.

This family cemetery on Howard Street is typical of the graveyards you'll find in the heart of Ocracoke Village:

Things get a little wilder in the wilder parts of town:

I didn't track down all eighty-one graveyards, but I found quite a few. During my explorations I wondered what it would be like if every subdivision had its own cemetery. Why does that seem like such a strange idea?

A folklorist I know documents tombstones and graveyard art in the South--you can find her work here:  Again, it sounds like a morbid preoccupation, but I find something very moving and tender in these spaces. People are so strange and interesting and idiosyncratic and funny. That's what I like about them.


We've been back almost a week, and I can feel a bout of the summer blues brewing. This is not my favorite season. I've decided to give taking an afternoon siesta a try and see if that helps. And yoga. Although I always say I'm going to give yoga a try and I never do. It's sort of like my ongoing plan to clean out my attic. Such a good idea, such folly!


Tomorrow I'm going to Florida for a big librarian convention. I come back Sunday. And then summer will begin for real. I mean it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Howdy, Stranger!

My latest quilt--I made it for one of Jack's teachers, 
who's about to have a baby

I guess it's me who's the stranger. But let's get past that and onto other things.

I'm reading the best book right now. It's called The Wander Society by Keri Smith. Do you know her? She does all these fun, funky books like Wreck this Journal and How to Be an Explorer in the World, perfect gifts for your creative, artsy niece--or for yourself if you like to take walks and notice interesting things, draw and take notes.

The Wander Society is a bit different, but still delightful. Its conceit is that one day while she was out walking, Smith stumbled upon an old copy of Leaves of Grass. Inside she found notes about a mysterious organization called The Wander Society. Its patron saint was Walt Whitman of course, and its motto was Solivitur ambulando, or It is Solved by Walking.

Now between you and me, I believe Smith made the Wander Society up out of whole cloth, but that's part of the fun. For instance, in the list of famous walkers, she includes a woman named Alice P. Hobbs, a supposed activist and artist who disappeared in 2014, who is rumored to be one of the founders of the Wander Society. If you google Alice P. Hobbs, you will find a website with very little information as well as many references to Keri Smith's book. I suspect Alice P. Hobbs is also a figment of Smith's imagination. 

I love that Smith is using the both her book and the internet to create this interesting fiction, and I love that she has created a society that encourages people to go out and wander. I walk a lot, but would like to wander more.


My List of Things I would Like to Do This Summer

1. Wander more.

2. Study the crows in my neighborhood.

3. Spend more time with art.

4. Get rid of stuff!

5. Write on my blog!!!

6. Write letters.

7. Write in my journal.

8. Close my eyes and wish really hard that all the junk in the attic and garage would go away.

9. Cook more interesting things.

10. Meditate.


Today is Will's last day of school. In fact, he's out of school now and should be at the swimming pool with his friend Ashaank. It was raining this morning, but is now sunny and bright. Maybe that means he got an A on his Spanish exam. Signs and wonders, etc.

Jack's last exam is tomorrow. I suppose I should tell you that he got his driver's license. We are learning to live with this development. 


Do you make summer resolutions? Do you ever keep them?