Saturday morning. Early. A quiet house, a quiet toddler and her baby for company. She’s good company except she likes to say, Mama! Mama! and no matter how many times I acknowledge her, she gets more insistent, louder with her, MAMA! MAMA! She also likes to turn the pages of whatever I’m reading. Apparently I read too slowly for her.
A large family in a small house isn’t conducive to quiet time. Though I suspect a large family isn’t conducive to quiet time period. Kids talking. Kids playing. Kids asking questions. Life, it seems, is lived without a volume button.
This too shall pass. I am loved, needed, taken for granted. And this is as it should be. Somehow in the midst of tying myself to a loud man and having babies, I never shook that need to be alone, to surround myself with quiet. Instead I have learned to seek pockets of quiet. I make do with small pockets quiet while I hunger for long stretches, stretches that extend into days. I know those long and maybe days long stretches are in my future. Until then I do my best to practice patience (practice being the keyword) and take advantage of the small pockets I find. I remind myself a book is written sentence by sentence thus a book can be written in pockets of time. I’m chipping away slowly.
PS: Eyes up loves! I’ll be using some quiet time this week to write another e-letter. Have something you want to ask or want me to write about? Let me know.
PPS: The pen is a PenGem, my go-to pen for the last year or so. I have them in several colors (gold, white, silver, aquamarine, peridot) and use the Uniball hybrid refills (0.5). That is an affiliate link but I’m sharing because I finally found a pretty pen I use and love and you might too!
September. In the Deep South this means you start counting down the weeks until it begins to feel like autumn—I have six weeks of counting ahead. It also means we now have less than two months left in Hurricane Season—fingers remain crossed.
Everything down here has been delayed by weeks because of the flooding so all the extra-curricular activities kickoff in earnest this week. I had my car washed and detailed since I’ll be spending so much time in it driving kids to and fro. It won’t last long but the effort felt good.
I’ve been reading albeit light, frivolous books. The brain fog lately has been well, über foggy so my Virginia Woolf reading binge has come to a grinding halt in favor of other titles which are more easily digestible or don’t require as much deep thinking. I’ve updated my reading list with the titles I read in August. If you’re a Jane Eyre fan, Jane Steele was a fun little romp of a read.
There is a lot of what ifs right, uncertainty. And for once I’m letting go, not fighting the flux. It is oddly liberating to let go and just be. Why did it take me so damn long to have that lightbulb moment?
The Camellia has entered the phase where there is always a baby doll (occasionally a wee stuffed horse which she decked out in a pale pink cardigan with the help of the Magnolia) in tow. She likes to feed her babies, wrap them up, and put them to sleep on the sofa next to her while she watches The Wind in the Willows. I’m required to kiss the babies and wish them goodnight.
I walked in the room the other day to find her sitting with her baby and horse carefully situated around her. She was reading to them from Princess Sylvie though it was mostly silly noises and then her holding the book up for each to see.
When she’s at play on the sofa it is her territory. A kid walks near and acts as if they’d like to sit there and the hand goes out, the grunt of disapproval is sounded. But mama, mama on the other hand is always welcome. We snuggle: me, her, the babies, the books, the horse, a few blankets, and her little straw basket of baby accoutrements. This sofa has now been named: The Camellia’s Throne. And from there she rules the roost (just in case you were curious about the current state of affairs chez moi).
I feel like I should have managed a better photograph but there is something about kids after a summer afternoon at the pool that means means I cannot put dinner on the table fast enough.
Your mileage may vary but this meal, this is our go-to summer meal that pleases not only the adults but six children as well. It varies according to what we have in the fridge and what veggies we have on hand but it often looks like this:
Organic boneless, skinless chicken thighs. I marinate these in a big ziploc bag with liberal amounts of kosher salt, black pepper, and Paul Prudhomme’s poultry seasoning blend. Add a few glugs of olive oil, a sliced up lemon, and stick in the fridge. I sautée the chicken in a hot skillet and slice thin.
Dolmas. Usually the brown rice variety from Whole Foods.
Hummus with plenty of garlic, lemon, and parsley.
A variety of raw veggies for dipping and/or snacking: broccoli, celery, carrots, yellow or orange pepper, cauliflower, radishes.
Cherries or watermelon for dessert.
It looks like a lot of food to prep but it’s fast and easy! On grocery shopping day I usually wash prep veggies and keep them in ball jars in the fridge. Then we have them all week for snacking or adding to frittatas or a quick dinner like this.
What is your go-to summer dinner?
Every year summer rolls around and every year I forget just how it sucks the life out of me. Heat and humidity are not a winning combination for me. Heard of SAD? Well, I think I have the opposite. Too much sun and too much heat make me a dull girl.
On the upside, I’ve read my little heart out this summer. I put my Virginia Woolf project on a time out and read book after book after book in a rather mindless fashion. Hello coping mechanism. In that vein, I update my June, July, and August reading lists.
I think I’m rounding the corner on my summer issues and hope to be back in this space again soon. I miss you all.
PS: I have a collaborative essay on gumbo here. And oddly enough writing about gumbo means I was able to check something off my bucket list. Yay!
The Virginia Woolf reading continues apace. I finished Moments of Being after taking my time with it. This is a collection of autobiographical essays very much worth reading if Woolf is your cup of tea. I also managed to squeeze in reading The Mare and wow! A superbly written and powerful coming-of-age story about a complicated pre-teen girl.
What are you reading?