[Reading] A Field Guide to Getting Lost

“Leave the door open for the unknown, the door into the dark. That’s where the most important things come from, where you yourself came from, and where you will go.” 
―Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

the habit of being_a field guide to getting lost


“Writing is saying to no one and to everyone the things it is not possible to say to someone.” 
―Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby


I finished up A Field Guide to Getting Lost. Loved it so much I immediately turned to The Faraway Nearby. I'll just say this: reading Solnit is a stimulating experience. A voyage of making connections, seeing things in a new light, and a side of (self-) discovery. 

And with that worthwhile distraction, I'm back to reading manuscripts.

The Weekend

At almost ten months into mothering the Camellia, my Mister has insisted I get out of the house without her on my hip. I protested. I made excuses. He wondered aloud for the eleventh-billionth time, Why must you be so stubborn? My only response, Because I'm good at it.

the habit of being_the weekend


Truth is, I'm bad at asking for help and even worse at accepting it. And it's a bittersweet thing with the Camellia being the last little one to lose myself in but for the third time this week I found myself on the patio of my favorite coffee shop with a stretch of time ahead of me. Where else does one go?

I promised myself no working so I wrote a letter and  read last week's review until I got the text asking if I was bringing home lunch. So I picked up Lebanese food and spent the rest of the weekend wrestling the Camellia and burying my nose in her neck, inhaling that sweet baby smell and making her giggle with glee. It was exactly what I needed.

We had my bil over last night for boiled crabs and beer. We ended up watching one of my kids' favorite movies, The Birds, while keeping up a MST3K-inspired viewing with us adults making running commentary. The three older kids were in tears and declared it the best night ever.

How was your weekend?


PS: The August prompts are up! You'll find them by clicking on the prompts button in the right sidebar.

[Reading] The Orchard House

Sweet Tara reached out to ask if I'd like to read a copy of her new book, The Orchard House, and I'm so glad she did.

the habit of being_the orchard house.jpg

The Orchard House is a thought provoking story about growing a garden and growing together as a family. Brought together by an abandoned house and overgrown garden, the family embarks on a long journey toward peace and healing. Weaver writes sympathetically of her struggles with her mother and is unflinching about the amount of effort she put into reconnecting and forging a relationship with her emotionally distant mother. I found myself rooting for them, staying up too late to read just little more. 

Reader beware: besides being a wonderful story about rebuilding relationships, building a community, and Tara's extensive knowledge of gardening, The Orchard House reads like a love song to Seattle—you might find yourself dreaming of a Seattle getaway. 

On a July evening

This morning. Coffee in a proper cup. Patio sitting, chatter and traffic sounds in the background but still, quiet (no littles asking questions or climbing on me). Words. 

My grandfather isn't doing well. The doctor throws around words like blood clot, dementia, pneumonia, sepsis, agitated, sedation. Of course he's agitated; he isn't always sure where he is, how he got there, who his loved ones are. He's lost the use of both legs. He's now blind. 

What I want to say to the doctors is this: You see a problem to manage, a diagnosis. You don't see him, who he might have been. You don't know the sound of his laugh, the way his eyes would sparkle when I'd sing along to DL Menard with him as we drove down the highway to go crabbing, or how he'll always be my favorite Cajun Jitterbug partner. Despite everything you'll never know about your patient, my grandfather, know this—he's as good as they come, the star I've navigated by, my home port. 

Friends, hug your people.

Hello from July!

It's been a while, hasn't it? 

Life has been busy and my pace has slowed with the heat and humidity but here we are, life continues to move forward. Books have been read. The Camellia is now scooting about. The ice maker struggles to keep pace with our ice consumption in the heat. Most of the kids' clothes are now stained with cherry juice. The Magnolia has us on a Beatrix Potter binge and well, that's always a good thing.

The Mister allowed me to drag him to the Cathedral for the French Mass they do each year. It was going swimmingly until he leaned over and whispered, Bingo Crepuscule, which made me start laughing. After that, he peppered me with Clouseau imitations and silly renditions of La Marseillaise. He took me out for sushi after to apologize for his silliness. Note to self: go alone next year and then meet him for sushi.

More soon.



[Reading] The Folded Clock

the habit of being_the folded clock  

“I am a jack-of-all-trades. I edit and teach and at times desire to be a clothing designer or an artist (one who doesn't draw or paint or sew) and I write everything but poetry and I am a mother and a social maniac and a misanthrope and a burgeoning self-help guru and a girl who wants to look pretty and a girl who wants to look sexy and a girl who wants to look girly and a woman in her middle forties who wishes not to look like anything at all, who wishes sometimes to vanish.” ―Heidi Julavits, The Folded Clock: A Diary


Having read a good bit of pre-pub hype on Heidi Julavits' The Folded Clock I went back and forth several times about buying it. Ultimately I caved and bought the book. What pushed me to click the purchase button? The cover. Really. I found it lovely and wondered just what might be inside the pages.

Ideally, this is the type of book I would like: smart, funny, self-deprecating woman writes about her life. There were moments I laughed at her, moments I thought I might like to talk to her over a bottle of wine, and moments I was just plain bored.

As a long standing keeper, I thought the diary format would work well however the entries are not in chronological order and often have nothing to do with what she did that day despite all starting with Today I... A few entries in and you realize the entries are merely snippets that serve as a means to deliver anecdotes—some funny, some not. What I did enjoy: Julavits is charmingly neurotic, the reoccurrence of objects (an old tap handle so impossibly beautiful she carries it in her bag and draws it every morning before settling into work), and the sense that Julavits truly likes herself (a woman who likes herself seems so very rare in our culture).

A few lines from June

the habit of being_a few lines from june  

June, month that brings the heat, month that throws the curveballs. Summer is here. It has been here for a while but now it's official according to the calendar. The Magnolia has mono now so that is fun—two girls missing out on the fun that is summer. Given the swollen tonsils and sore throats, I've resorted to buying popsicles because I am a one-woman-show and unable to keep up with popsicle production for our current rate of consumption. Plans have had to change and one of us need always be here with the Magnolia & the Poulette to avoid exposing other people (people we like and want to remain friends with) and their children to the joys of mono. I am at work reading (potential) books and trying to maintain the rhythm of work (writing) despite a plethora of (un)welcome distractions. Maybe I should write a book about distractions.

[Reading] The Life and Death of Sophie Stark

[Reading] The Life and Death of Sophie Stark  

“It’s hard for me to talk about love,' she said. 'I think movies are the way I do that.” ― Anna North, The Life and Death of Sophie Stark


The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is an exquisite and unusual story of legacy, love, and emotional scars. The book revolves around Sophie Stark, and what we know of her is told through the filter of others—her lover, her brother, her husband, her college obsession. From these narratives we piece together an image of Sophie—her magnetism, her manipulation, her lies, her vulnerability, and her deep longing to connect in a meaningful way with other people. I disliked Sophie. I pitied Sophie. I felt sorry for her.

While the ending wasn't a surprise, it is clearly stated in the title, what North does in The Life and Death of Sophie Stark is to write fearlessly about scarred and wounded people with freshness and grace. I won this book in a giveaway (thank you Esmé!) and so thoroughly enjoyed it. It's currently my favorite read of 2015 and has given me much to ponder as I move through my days, write in my journal, work on essays—what am I saying in the printed word that I hesitate to say aloud?