Books, Susan & Lizard Hunting

I'm going to blame my recent negligence in writing on the fact that our days are running 85 degrees and 83% humidity, with both numbers on the climb; summer has definitely arrived and she's not leaving anytime soon. I'm thinking back to when our son was a rolling ball of dirt and grit - when his activity level put me over the top, why on earth didn't I just make him spend a few hours outdoors? If the combination of heat and humidity is, for me, the perfect cure for any form of physical activity, surely it would have settled him down a bit too?

Here's what I'm doing lately, besides sweating glistening:

I recently finished Light Between Oceans, loved every single word of it, and cannot wait for the movie; I made it through 50 pages before I returned Miss Peregrine's Home for Unusual Children. Wasn't impressed with the overall writing, and the storyline was just too much trouble to follow. I actually think it'll make a decent movie, and a large bucket of popcorn will improve the story enough to sit through it.

I've been ambling my way through Susan Branch's three novels (The Fairy Tale Girl, Martha's Vineyard: Isle of Dreams and A Fine Romance: Falling in Love with the English Countryside) written in a confusing order, but read chronologically, and they're WONDERFUL. If I could make the word 'wonderful' have sparkles and flashes and music to go along with it, I would. They're completely delightful non-fiction autobiography of her journey through life, ending up as a happy watercolorist, living in Martha's Vineyard.
On Susan's recommendation, I have waiting on my nightstand The Book of Stillmeadow, by Gladys Taber. A book, written in 1948, about a woman's experience buying a seventeenth-century Connecticut farmhouse. I love that she includes in all her books a recommended reading list.

On my daughter, Sarah's recommendation, I have waiting next At Home with Madam Chic: becoming a connoisseur of daily life. Is there anyone out there who can actually spell connoisseur correctly the first time? Not me! It's one of those books CS will make fun of, but is actually a NYT bestseller. Her little mantra is 'elevate the little things in life to the art of living'. Who doesn't love that? I also picked up The Forgotten Garden, by Kate Morton. I seem to have missed this one, but have loved everything else she's written. Any of her books is perfect for curling up on a summer day (inside with AC cranked up.)

It's too hot to go anywhere tropical right now, but not too hot for a quick getaway that I'm absolutely giddy about. On a whim, after reading the first of Susan's books, I looked up her speaking schedule and found out she's coming to Austin THIS weekend! The only town in Texas she's visiting on her tour, it's only three hours from us, so sweet CS agreed he would love to go hear Susan Branch speak to celebrate Father's Day. My kind of guy for sure. I get to hear her speak about her latest book, and maybe have her sign a few of her books for me, if the line isn't too long.

I'm also taking her a gift - a package of Bonine - because I realized, reading  her book, that she suffers from sea / motion sickness and she's about to travel on the Queen Mary to somewhere east of us. I wish I'd been told about bonine years before as it revolutionized my traveling life. Cruises, ferries, knitting in the car - Bonine makes it all possible - it's wonderful stuff. Keeps you from getting sick, and doesn't make you drowsy like Dramamine. I'd really like to go whale watching, but what's the point if I'm drugged up so that the whales are all fuzzy-looking blobs? (If you've never tried it, and have motion-sickness issues, look for it at the drug store.) I'll try to come back with photos of Susan and tell you how wonderful she is in real life.

There is actually a blessing, in that it's hot summer, because we're about to try to sell our house and it happens to have a cheery swimming pool in the backyard. Texans love swimming pools! We're currently in the phase of removing all signs we actually live in our home. Beige, no photos, no personality everywhere you look. So someone can buy it and mess it up again. Silliness but apparently that's what you do to sell your home. Realtors tell us it should sell fairly quickly, which is great, except that all this rain in Texas has delayed our home-building by months, and so we'll be heading up to Idaho once we sell and pack. To spend the rest of summer, and all of fall, and most of winter there. I'm loving all of this plan except the winter part, but maybe it'll seem charming when it happens. Right now our new house has a street in front of it. That's more than it had two weeks ago. (Please stop raining!)

The heat of summer brings out those skinny green lizards by the droves, all over the brick outside of our house. Is anyone else out there as afraid of lizards as I am? I know they can't bite, but they scare the life right out of me. Maybe growing up with four brothers who put them in my hair and down my shirt has something to do with my phobia.... However our two Texas Littles absolutely love them, so I tried to be brave and help them hunt for them. We did manage to trap one, who gave up an inch of his tail when he escaped. (No, I did not actually touch it.) (Even though the littles were both telling me, "Grammy, be brave!' I just couldn't make myself do it.)

So not only did we not end up with a pet lizard for them to take home to their mother, I discovered that night a dozen bites all over my stomach, bright red welts, each as big as a quarter. Itched like the daylights until I found some bug bite stuff in the first aid bin, smeared it all over me for several days and finally read the ingredients to realize the main one is ammonia. So I not only looked lovely, but smelled nice too. It did at least allow me to tell the Littles that I will no longer be their lizard-catching-helper. They're on their own!

So that's what we're up to right now. Dog days of summer, AC turned up full blast, a dose of Bonine in me, heading down the highway on a quick road trip with my nose in a book, anxious to meet a favorite author, and trying to restrain myself from showing everyone I run into my stomach which looks a bit like a battlefield right now. If I was 5 or 6 I could get away with it, but at 61 I'm thinking I'll just tell the story and let everyone imagine it for themselves.

Back soon!


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