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That’s the sound of a summer morning spent at picking blueberries – although of course, dropping them into a Pyrex dish or recycled yogurt container doesn’t produce quite the same noise, and fortunately there were no bears to interrupt us or distract the small children.  Unfortunately, I was too busy stuffing my face and filling my containers to get out the camera.  Rest assured that the kidlets were a laugh and a half – making up silly animal names, discussing the methods of the Blueberry Monster (which they hastened to assure me was entirely imaginary), and whether we would run into any bears.  The youngest child stowed some berries in her pocket, and took frequent snack breaks while walking to the park afterwards.  It was, all in all, exactly what a summer morning ought to be.

I feel like I’ve seen a few conversations online lately about favorite summer books, or books that evoke summer.  Blueberries for Sal is definitely in my top five, especially since blueberry picking is usually a major feature in my summers.  Another one is Tasha Tudor’s fantastic Becky’s Birthday – I haven’t seen a copy of it in years, but it was a favorite as a child.  I loved all things old-fashioned, plus I have a summer birthday, like Becky.  The peach ice cream!   The picnic!  I wish it were still in print – I might have to make a trip to the downtown library to take a peek at their copy, which doesn’t circulate.

Hey, a little something that’s not book related!

Saturday I went to my god-daughter’s fifth birthday which featured:

a pink cake

several kittens

(no birthday party is complete without them)

some running through the hose

(make sure you wear your “baby soup,” as the 2-year-old would say, and some stylishly upside-down sunglasses)

and plenty of good company

Is outrage! as the Onion Dome would say.

A trip to the Children’s Museum with some lovely ladies.

I mean, silly ladies.

Stationary.

Color.  (I never use my colored pencils, I just like to admire them.)

And a few things without pictures:

Plane tickets for four to Colorado, to visit our fifth.  We won’t have been all in the same room for nearly two years.  I can’t wait.  This feels like a necessary extravagance.

Children of God.  It happened.  I’m addicted.  Again.

A grocery list that includes 3 dozen eggs.  Two dozen for dying red and taking to church, one dozen for ME.  Also salami, cheese, and butter.  Just writing out the list makes me happy.

I’m not sure why a little afternoon coffee sounded like a good idea – but I’d done the dishes and eaten my lunch, and my first cup of coffee this morning had been rushed as I was going to sit on some babies, so a second round of coffee sounded comforting and reasonable.  Now I just feel a little twitchy and unable to focus on getting anything done.  Hey, maybe I’ll make myself sick of coffee and ready to take a break for Lent, that great sea of no cream for my coffee!  I wish.

Lent is very late this year, and I’m relieved to have this much more of winter for the hearty consumption of meats and dairy, all those filling comfort foods.  But it’s coming – tucking into the last of the meat this week, and the last of the dairy next week, and then it’s all beans and rice, all the time.  At least, that’s what it always feels like.  Whine, whine, but part of me relishes it.

I watched my god-daughter and her sister this morning – we went over a variety of their nicknames.  There’s Q & M, as I’ve called them before.  McGillicutty and Peabody, as their grandmother calls them.  There’s also Q-Tip and Q-Ball (“like pool,” the 4 year old Q explained) and Cucumber Face for the baby.  The baby who talks like nobody’s business.  It’s disconcerting to meet a not-yet-two year old who can correctly pronounce not only her sister’s name, but my name as well.  She also does a great Rose Festival Princess wave when anyone leaves the room.  Q planned an un-implemented picnic for us, which involved making oatmeal and taking it to the park, and compromised by cracking walnuts in the back yard.  We read books until I began to stumble over my Dr. Seuss.

…And found some dress-up outfits in the attic while her mother and I rummaged around for patterns and fabric. Nothing screams I’m four like a red plaid dress over pink shirt and pants, topped with wings and halo. She considered adding overalls but decided it might be uncomfortable. Smart move.

K set me up with a baptismal gown (unmade) in a bag, with a cross that’s passed through a few hands without ever ending up being used, the leftover material from Q’s, and pattern that looks simple enough for a garment-novice like myself to not mangle out of recognition. Rather than a grandmotherly art, we’ll call this a godmotherly art.

More photos on flickr, including a tribute to Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Tomorrow we go pick up little brother from college, a 4/5ths of the family whirlwind road trip with a possible detour to Crater Lake. I simultaneously dread and look forward to it. Fortunately, I had five million books come in on hold, so I’ll have plenty to distract myself should conversation falter (and I not be driving at the time).

  • Austenland, Shannon Hale (oops, I already read this since picking it up last night. I’ll have to leave it for Kitri. Did you know that “chick lit” is a subject heading? Yeah, yeah, shut up already about subject headings, you’re saying, it’s summer vacation.)
  • The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, Michael Chabon
  • Farthing, Jo Walton
  • The Last September, Elizabeth Bowen
  • Arcadia, Tom Stoppard
  • Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos, R.L. Lafevers
  • Shug, Jenny Han
  • The Blood of Flowers, Anita Amirrezvani
  • The Wednesday Wars, Gary Schmidt
  • Roller Skates, Ruth Sawyer
  • Half Life, Shelley Jackson
  • The Nature of Monsters, Clare Clark
  • Now is the Hour, Tom Spanbauer
  • The Golden Compass, Philip Pullman

Several of those were impulse “buys” after processing them (there’s nothing quite like typing a label for a book and then checking it out). I’m also currently reading Lullabies for little Criminals and The Art of Eating, and I didn’t list the audiobooks. Some of them I’ve had for a while, but 6 I just picked up last night. I still have 3 more sitting at work.

  • I ate too many tiny malt eggs.  Why does my mom bother giving me other candy? Just malt eggs, please.
  • Curtains are (finally) in the works.  Green.
  • I have no food except dairy and eggs.  I need to go buy some meat.
  • Annie and I went to Genie’s for breakfast.  Mmm, eggs.
  • Coffee + cream.  Yes, please.
  • I wish I had the will-power to go to church at 5:45 am.  I don’t.  What’s with all the super-early liturgies this week?  Don’t sleeping in and Bright Week go hand in hand?  Why doesn’t the church calendar revolve around MY work schedule?
  • I feel overwhelmed by the variety of food that I’m now allowed to eat.  Where do I start?
  • My sleep cycles are messed up.  I slept 5am-noonish on Sunday.  1:30am-9:30 am today, and I had a tough time falling asleep.  I’m tired now, but I have no inclination to go to sleep.
  • Perhaps, instead of going to sleep, I’ll polish off The Last Great Dance on Earth (the third Josephine book).  I got all excited when it mentioned Elba, because I have fond memories of nearly hiking myself to death there.  I ought to dig up pictures, although the most vivid stuff is in memory – sweat, tea, ice cream, and swimming.
  • I am way too excited about using fabric scraps to make a doll blanket for little miss eagle.  Although she implied that each of her dollies might require a blanket, so I suppose I’ll be in business for a while.
  • More festal pictures to come.

Demanding?  I’m never demanding…

I never make silly faces, either.

This weekend, I survived the Spanish Influenza,* cholera,** and the plague.***

It’s a miracle I’m here to tell the story. My dear roommate also survived untold horrors as she finished Octavian Nothing (dear, dear Octavian Nothing) and I laid it to rest, so to speak, in the spot waiting for it on my shelf, right inbetween Rose in Bloom and The Secret Garden. For some reason, that really cracked me up. I think Mary can handle Octavian, but Rose might be a bit of a prude about it. When, oh when shall we have Volume II in our hot little hands?

Earlier last week, I also survived a hail storm. That walk I went on with K & the girlies? Five minutes into it, the heavens opened and the trails of Tryon Creek became white with hail. K & M took shelter under a blanket, Q had her pink poodle coat (if you know Q and have never seen her in this coat, you’re really missing out), I had my raincoat, and we shuffled along merrily. Until the hail stopped and the sky became blue and we continued to wind our way around, dodging overly energetic runners.

I can’t think of the last time I went for a run. Sometimes I see people running and my legs want to join in (for about 2 seconds) and other times it exhausts me just to look at them. Especially when they come in youthful herds, running through all manner of hail and tempest.

In other news, February reading totals are in! Yeah, it was really difficult to tally it all up, people were really slow with getting their results back to me. What a pain.

  • Total: 15
  • Nonfiction: 2
  • Audio: 4
  • Children’s/YA: 11
  • Adult: 4
  • Rereads: 3
  • Newbery Winners: 2
  • Printz Honors: 2
  • Brand-spanking-new 2007 titles: 2

So far for March, I’ve read entirely historical fiction. Josephine, Hattie, and the plague. If I hadn’t just started Accidents of Nature, I suppose I could try to keep the trend up. Wait, it’s set in the 70s, right? Does that count? It’s before my time, at least.

Heretoafter, March shall be known as Historical Fiction Month. Let it be known.

And, since I like making resolutions and then breaking them, I shall promptly break it.

Listening to these days: The Thirteenth Tale, Three Men in a Boat.

*Hattie Big Sky, Kirby Larson

**The Painted Veil. Mmm, Edward Norton. Favorite line: Kitty: “I’m pregnant.” Walter: “A baby?” Me: “No, the other kind of pregnant.”

***Year of Wonders, Geraldine Brooks.

The sweet freedom of a day stretching out in front of me. Full of school reading.  I want to surround myself with delightful fally foods, like sweet squash and pumpkin & banana muffins and roasted chicken.  Outside, a cat is trying to chase a squirrel up a telephone pole.  I’m reading about “America’s Love Affair with the Internet” and trying (unsuccessfully) to resist the siren call of my bookshelf.

Last night I stayed up past my bedtime to finish Dear Enemy (dear, dear enemy as it turns out).  The fact that I could see the resolution coming several miles away did nothing to detract from its entirely satisfying epistolary form.

*From Daniel Pinkwater’s Blue Moose, which our children’s librarian recommends as a cure for all that ails you.  I agree.  It’s also made me add clam chowder and gingerbread to my list of foods.  All I really want to do is cook and read.

And I’m pretty sure she’s reading me Green Eggs and Ham. She thinks I can see the pictures, though.

“Now I’m gonna read you another book!”

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Flickr Photos