Friday Fish Wrap

"The first week of August hangs at the very top of the summer ... like the highest seat of a Ferris wheel when it pauses in its turning."
                    --- Natalie Babbit in Tuck Everlasting


Yes, my friends.  August has arrived!  I know many of you lamented the "end of summer" in posts this week (shoot ... Mary can't even find patio furniture in stores anymore!).  But I'm here to tell you that there is PLENTY of summer left!  (Unless, well . . . maybe not so much if you're a teacher or a student.  But for the rest of us, plenty!)  

So I challenge you all:  Get out there and enjoy it while it's here!  Step out . . . into the summer.  Eat some ice cream.  Get your feet wet.  Ride a bike.  Read outside while you sip lemonade.  Just DO . . . the summer things you don't want to miss!  

And now, let's have a Friday Fish Wrap.  (Click here if you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about.)


I base much of my fiction reading queue on three literary prizes each year:  The Women's Prize for Fiction, the National Book Award, and - my favorite - the Man Booker Prize.  These three lists provide me with endless selctions to read!  I rarely read all of the books on the longlists, but they do provide a deep well of books from which to choose.

The Man Booker Prize 2018 Longlist came out last week -- and there look to be some great titles in the mix.  I've already read one - Snap (highly recommended), and I'm at the half-way point of another - Warlight.  Three more titles are battling it out for read-me-next-please honors - Sabrina, From a Low and Quiet Sea, and The Overstory.  And there is one I can't wait to get my hands on - Washington Black (because I love Esi Edugyan's writing so very much) (but it won't be published in the US until September).  There's one I'm gonna skip right over, though - The Mars Room (because I just don't enjoy Rachel Kushner's books and life is too short. . . ).

Check out the list and see what you might want to read this year.




Speaking of books . . . Harry Potter is celebrating his 20th anniversary next month.  (Here are some fun facts about the Harry Potter book phenomena.)  New covers, people!  (And they look pretty cool.)  Much hoop-la.

My daughter and most of her friends did a bit of freaking out when they heard the news. Because How-Can-Harry-Potter-Be-Already-20-Years-Ago-Mom???  Erin tells me that, for the first time, she now feels . . . old.  Erin - who was always the exact same age as Harry when the books came out - grew up with Harry Potter.  Literally.

Ah. Time.  (Reality bites.)



Speaking of time . . . in the better-late-than-never department, I read a little blurb in the New York Times this week about Gray Panthers founder, Maggie Kuhn (who died in 1995).   Her story (which, of course, I didn't know. . . ) is fascinating!  The NY Times blurb piqued my interest, so I went searching more.  Here's a nice little bio if you'd like to learn more about her, too.

"I made a sacred vow that I would do something outrageous, at least once a week."
                --- Maggie Kuhn, age 85



Back when I was in high school, I had this pair of denim OshKosh overalls that I wore all the time.  (I know; they were A Thing.) (Thankfully, it didn't last long.)  


I used to embroider things all over my overalls, so they were Very Unique.  (I wish I had a photo to share, but I do not.  We just didn't photo-document every little thing back then. . . )


The other day, I came across a treasure chest full of free, downloadable embroidery patterns here.  (The photo above is one of the free patterns you can download.)  There are tons of fun designs there, and it's safe to say . . . my embroidery-crazy-overall-wearing former self would have had a field day.


And, finally . . . as much as I hate to admit this . . . THIS is pretty much always the state of my desk.


I straighten it up and organize it often . . . but THAT (above) is my desk's normal state.  Its angle of repose.  Every day.  All the time.

Lucky for me, I just read about a study at the University of Minnesota that concludes that . . . messiness can be good for us!  According to professor Kathleen Vohs, "Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights.  Orderly environments, in contrast, encourage convention and playing it safe."

(Note that she is talking about "messy" - not "dirty" - environments.  There is a a difference.)

So.  That's my story.  And I'm sticking to it!

"If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?"
                    --- Albert Einstein


And . . . that's a wrap!  Have a great weekend - be sure to have some summer fun.  I'll see you on Monday.



Garden Delights

My garden is full of things that make me happy . . . flowers, foliage, birds, pollinators.  (You know the drill.)  But there are also little hidden "garden delights" that bring a smile.

Like . . . my little stone turtle peeking out from his home in this succulent bowl.


Or . . . . this little yellow house with the stone chimney, standing sentry at my patio doors.


And . . . this little kitty, hidden in my herb garden.


Gardens delight . . . in so many ways!


Head over to Carole's to read more Three on Thursday posts today.




Stitching Alabama Chanin-style can become rather obsessive.

Once you actually get over the intimidation factor and just make something . . . Well.  You discover it's really fun to stitch by hand.  And the garments you stitch are super comfortable to wear.  And the creative opportunities are just endless.

Earlier this summer I decided I wanted a simple, black tunic.  Nothing fancy.  No stenciling.  No appliqué.

But then . . . I decided to add some beads.


(the front . . . finished)

And then . . . more beads.
(Because it really is an obsession.)


(the back. . . finished)

I think I'm done with the beads now.  
(But maybe not.)
(You never know.)


In the end, I got my simple, black tunic.  


(Now with bonus sparkle!)

Tell It Like It Is

Somewhere along the line this summer, Jenny misplaced her dog tags.  (I say that like she's a kid who has left her lunch box somewhere.  Or something.)  Anyway, Tom noticed they were missing a couple of weeks ago, and they haven't turned up anywhere either up north or here at home.

So I ordered new and updated dog tags for both pups.


At 11 1/2 years, Jenny finally gets to wear her formal title for all to see!

(Tell it like it is, I say.)

Morning Surprise

I usually check the weather forecast for the next day before I go to bed at night.  You know - just to plan my day.  (Can I kayak in the morning? Are my car windows open? Should I bring in the towels tonight?  )  

Last night, I checked.  

Cloudy, it said.  
Chance of rain, it said.  
(I'll sleep in, I said.)
(But the towels will wait, I said.)

So I was kind of surprised to wake up and see this . . . 



Come to the lake, it said.  
(Let me get my coffee, I said.)

And it was a glorious morning, to be sure.


Peaceful.  Quiet.  Serene.

And hardly a cloud in the sky!  Just those few . . . out there on the horizon.


(Take THAT, weather forecast! I said.)  
(I WILL be able to fit in one more paddle this morning, I said.)

But, alas.  The weather forecast gets the last word.
HA! It said.

Because it's raining now.   Just an hour later. 
Talk about a morning surprise.  
(And too bad about those towels.)


Enjoy the weekend!


Slow on the Draw

As I mentioned last week, on Saturday I went to an all-day colored pencil workshop.  It was, specifically, a solvent workshop.  Colored pencil is quite a slow medium to work with.  (Many layers.)  (Many, many layers.)  But . . . if you apply solvents, you can work much quicker!  The workshop is designed so participants can complete a piece in one, 7-hour day.

And . . . the first time I took part in the workshop (3 years ago), I did just that!

But since then?  Well.  I've chosen to combine the solvent part with the regular, colored pencil drawing part -- so I can get a good start at the workshop -- but my drawings have been too complicated to finish in one session!  (I started Tom's Mini at last summer's workshop, and that took a long, long time to finish.)

Here's what I accomplished last Saturday:

First, I prepared my board (it's illustration board) and sketched out my drawing.  (You can see the photo I'm using on my iPad there; I shared it here on the blog not long ago.)  I taped out the petals of the lily to protect it from the solvent process, and began the coloring-in (with Prismacolor Art Stix).



Once I got the background (pretty much) the way I want it (although there's still a lot to be done with it, actually), I peeled off the tape to reveal the lily petals . . .


and started on the detail work.  (Which, truth be told, is my favorite part!)  I'm beginning with the lily petals, but will also need to do the leaves and the reflections on the water.  (I use Prismacolor wax pencils for the detail work.)


And that's what I came home with!

Since the workshop, I've been drawing when I can.  (It's easier to find the time right now -- because I'm not knitting anything at the moment, and I can devote my "creative time" to this project.)

But . . . it's slow.  Very detailed.  It's going to take a while!


I don't mind.  I enjoy the process, and I'm pleased with my results so far.  (I'll show you how it unfolds as I progress . . . but don't expect it to be anytime soon!

Summer at the Mid-Point

Here we are . . . nearly at the end of July.  Summer at the mid-point.

Our weather this summer has been . . . kinda weird.  It's either been super hot and humid.  Or it's been surprisingly cool and rainy. Unbearably hot.  Or unseasonably cool.  One or the other.  Not much in between.  (We're in one of the cool phases right now.)  (And we could do with a bit more rain, thankyouverymuch.)

Still.  Summer is summer.  And I'm soaking it in.


(And I'm also remembering that last year, "summer" lasted through the end of November.)  (Almost forever.)  (But not quite.)

How's YOUR summer going?