Taking It Seriously In the Heat
How Does My Garden Grow

And Then the Rains Came

Am I the only one deliriously happy that it is very cool and rainy this Saturday morning in New York? 


Ah, the pressure is off to run around like a tourist and go see things and do outdoor things. Sometimes, in the midst of summer, you need a day to say,  hey let's watch The Wire from the beginning. 

I also have a little sewing project that I need to do before Mr. Pom's head explodes that there is a giant, long box by the front door FOR WEEKS with Sunbrella striped Capri blue fabric to cover the chaise cushion for the porch.

Yes, I know it was all my idea. I bought gorgeous new Capri Blue cushions for the wicker sofa, but the chaise is a weird shape and I can't find any open stock cushions. I thought I was so very ingenious by going on the Sunbrella site and ordering yardage of the coordinating stripe (and adorbs navy blue rubbery welting for a little edgy look). Only now I have to clear off the sewing table (Upon which much crappola has migrated since I used it last in 1162 B.C,) and find the bobbins (which have mysteriously disappeared) and make other welting ( I hate cutting and sewing the bias strips) and then hoping to God that the pattern I made (or will make later - shit, the long kraft paper roll is at the damn cottage) was accurate and I can find the roll of velcro I bought (I refuse to put in a zipper - not on porch furniture for Pete's sake). 


Let's go to the beach.

Actually, there's a FANTASTIC music festival in my backyard practically with Bret Dennen, Delta Rae, and other cool artists, but I just wasn't in the mood for crowds. Hmm, now that it is raining, perhaps I'll put on my Gudren red riding hood raincoat and head up to Pleasantville.

But let's assume I actually do some of the projects that I have put off to a rainy day.







I gotta know:

  • what are you reading this summer, and
  • what are you being crafty about  this summer?


All the women in my family read a lot in the summer and all the women in my family did something with their hands in the summer. At various times, we made candles or concrete casts set in sand with shells; made and later taught the young'uns how to make landyards; tackled potholder weaving from a very early age; and wove friendship bracelets. My mother was heavily into making beads flowers and knitting and my grandmother and aunts all crocheted. Of course, there's nothing worse than a sweaty crochet hook and damp yarn on a hot, humid  day, but in general, sitting around in the heat of an afternoon was best passed if not at the beach, then with a cup of coffee and a crochet hook.



In keeping me primed and on track for novel writing I decided to return to some of the nonfiction classics that were watershed books for me in terms of writing style and theme.

(I was going great guns on the novel all winter and then I got a new assignment at work and it makes my brain bleed with deposing non-English speaking peeps for hours  and then writing reports that take as long as the depo. This has seriously impacted my desire to put a sentence together voluntarily. Hence, the scanty blogging these days. ) 


This is what I am reading and rereading:

  • Pilgrim at Tinker Creek - Annie Dillard
  • An American Childhood - same - which in my memory I confused with A Romantic Education by Patricia Hampl, which I am going to find in one of the other bookcases and read toot sweet.
  • Still Cove  - Gladys Taber. I found this author at a local bookstore about 1989 in Orleans and proceeded to go back to the bookstore and buy every book they had by her and spend most of the vacation on the bed reading whenever the kids took naps. She was one of the first essayists that wrote about her ordinary life and turned it into a Vermeer painting. And she lived in her later years in a lovely Cape Cod house on our cove, though she had passed away by the time I discovered her. Mr. Pom and I stalked the house from the photo on the cover and found it and when I saw the mailboxes with the names of her friends, the neighbors she often wrote about, it was like stepping through the looking glass. 
  • Still Meadow and several out of print editions of her earlier books when she lived in an equally gorgeous area on a farm in Connecticut.   Amazon is an amazing resource for books that you just couldn't get your hands on in the pre-internet days. I was able to get copies of previously out of print books for pennies.
  • For my artistic side, I am forever getting into book buying trouble by the ladies Dana and Faith who are forever teasing me wth artist books that they run across. Right now, I just got Bento's Sketchbook by John Berger. Go on Amazon and read the first chapter about the plums. I dare you not to buy this book when you are done.
  • Swimming Studies - if midsummer is not the time to read it, when would be?
  • Also rereading - The Salt House: A Summer on the Dunes of Cape Cod by Cynthia Huntington.
  • Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place  byTerry Tempest Williams
  • Mumbai New York Scranton: A Memoir by Tamara Shopsi
  • The Sea at Truro: Poems by Nancy Willard
  • To the River by Olivia Laing
  • Drawn to Rhythm - A Passionate Life Reclaimed by Sara Hall

On the fiction side, I just read or am reading

  • Illumination Night by Alice Hoffman
  • My Sister Lives on the Mantel Piece by Anabelle Pitcher
  • Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan
  • A Dying Fall by Elly Griffiths (which is my comfort food easy peasy mystery series about a female forensic archeologist)
  • The Epicure's Lament by Kate Christensen
  • The Bookman's Tale by Charlie Lovett

In its own category is Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala, which is the author's devastating account of being the only survivor of the tsunami that swept thru the resort where she was staying with her husband sons, and parents in Sri Lanka. I read it in one day and it has not left me some two months later. 


What am I making?

  • Re-covering the hateful chaise lounge, which was such a great price at Target that I thought I could overlook the olive green chenille fabric. Friends with eyes, WHO WANTS OLIVE GREEN CHENILLE ON A SUMMER CHAISE?  Seriously Target, you have all these cool designers doing fly by lines for you, couldn't you ask one of them instead of obviously consulting some Italian grandmother who said, "Olive green chenille, of course, it won't show dirt!". My email addy is readily available for consultation before your next line when you decide to upholster a porch swing with leopard crushed velvet. 
  • I am toying with so many ideas for watercolor series of books. Right now, though, I am committed to finishing up all the class samples for our ART IS YOU WONDERFUL CLASS ABOUT HEIRLOOM RECIPES,  PROUSTIAN GUSTATORY MEMORIES, GARDEN CLUB MORNINGS AND GARDENIA NIGHTS WITH THE SOUTHERN LADIES, AND SUMMERS AT THE LAKE. You are going to feel SO CHEATED if you don't sign UP (Shh - there's even homemade toffee and Italian cookies each day).
  • Now, I am also toying with ordering some great samplers from Rebecca Rehnquist. Only - I remembered I have one I already purchased over the winter! Go see how she uses them for journal covers on linen or burlap. Scrumptious.
  • And, I am definitely bringing down to the porch my box 'o buttons  and embroidery thread so I can make lots and lots of covered buttons a la Miss Tracy Stillwell (soon to be Mrs. Tracy....Stillwell? not sure about the name change if any)Let's hope that Brewster doesn't think the buttons are candy because, lately, he's really reverting to puppyhood. Anyone need a lot of exercise and wanna run a big ol' dog ragged for me? I have no idea what I will do with the covered buttons but it makes me feel very much like  1980's young mother quilting with friends on the lake self. And I use up fabric (yeah, like I didn't buy more just for these). 


Lastly, I am making TIME this summer. Plain ol' sitting and stitching and reading and writing time. The evenings on the porch have been amazing, even in the heat. We get a breeze at night (even if from the ceiling and box fans). The fairy lights are strong enough to read by this year. The fireflies are dancing around outside. The smell of cut grass makes me swoon.  And our new cushions are comfy enough to sleep on. 

Go outside on the front stoop, on the side porch, on the lawn,  or on the roof and welcome summer nights, these nights that are like no other all year. Yes, autumn has delicious woodsmoke eves and winter is all candles and fireplaces, but summer's evenings bleed into the night sky purple and pink and dusk becomes an event for wine and mischief.