Archive for August, 2010

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010


Summer is in its last glorious days, the kids are heading back to school, and with each day I note fall’s creeping arrival by the ever-earlier sunsets and crisper nights. It’s fair to say I mostly (gloriously) took the summer off. Here are a few highlights of the last couple months:

* Five nights in Montreal for the International Jazz Festival. Good food, good music, mercifully cool weather, and all those great French accents. What wasn’t to like? Added bonus for the 18-year-old: Legal to drink!
* Sailing. My childhood boat, The Mary Ann, which I write about in The Longest Trip Home, is back in the water for another season and I’ve managed to get out more often than in past (too busy) years.
* Gardening. The hot sunny weather, punctuated by just enough rain to keep things from frying, has resulted in a bumper year here in the Northeast. My 18×35-foot plot has been going crazy, yielding pounds and pounds of tomatoes and peppers and beets and beans and cantaloupe, and much more. Enough already!
* Summer reading. Much more heavy on fiction than my usual mix. “Hotel Iris” by Yoko Ogawa (definitely twisted); “This is Where I Leave You” by Jonathan Tropper (the most fun I’ve had with a book in ages); “Next” by James Hynes (a little overwrought but worthwhile); “City of Thieves” by David Benioff (totally engaging; a natural for film); “Leaving the World” by Douglas Kennedy (if you like downers, this one is for you); “Ship Fever” by Andrea Barrett (beautiful, beautiful). I tackled the opening chapters of “The Dome” by Stephen King before concluding that life is short and I just wasn’t engaged enough to hang on for 700 more pages. I’ve begun listening to “The Help” on audio, but need more driving time to finish. An excuse for a road trip?
* Writing. Mostly for myself, seeing where it leads me. To interesting places, as it turns out. And that’s okay.
* Writing II. I put the finishing touches on the final book in my children’s picture-book series. It will be called “Trick or Treat, Marley” and is due out for Halloween 2011. All I’ll say is that my collaborator, the very talented artist Richard Cowdrey, outdid himself on this one.
* My beloved Great Lakes. My daughter Colleen and I spent five nights on Lake Huron with our dear friends, Pete and Maureen Kelly and their daughters, Andrea and Kathryn. Why is it that cold Coronas with lime taste so much better when your toes are stuck in warm, white beach sand?
* Mom. At 94, Ruthie still has her sense of humor — and her love for ice cream sundaes. (That’s her in the photo with her granddaughter Colleen during our Michigan visit in mid August.)
* College sendoff. We dropped our oldest son at college and stood in the parking lot watching him disappear into the distance, knowing our little nuclear family had just changed in profound ways. I categorically deny being misty eyed. Passages.

And that about brings us up to speed. September, here we come.

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