Saturday morning is often craft time in our house. The girls made these little turkeys this morning. So fun. Try to figure out which are Cate’s and which are Jane’s? The girls and I have a solo day today and so we are planning some fun things. They are watching A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving right now then we are headed down to the bookstore to drop off apple cider for the customers and then on to the farmer’s market where I am sure there will be more apples involved. And if you are Cate and Jane, a meat stick and a gingerbread cookie as well. I steal bites mostly – I call it the mom tax.Cate was a pirate and Jane was a fairy for Halloween. I took the girls trick-or-treating this year while Telfer made me dinner (!) and answered the door for trick-or-treaters. Such a swerve from our normal but I loved it. Jane can actually walk more than a block this year and they were so into it. Per tradition, we came home and the girls ate candy while they watched It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.Cate lost her first tooth last weekend with very little drama. It just sort of came out while we were on our way to a birthday party. The tooth fairy came of course and Jane convinced Cate to share half of her spoils…which was quite clever of Jane and rather surprising that Cate agreed to the plan.If you follow me on facebook or instagram, this is old news but our local columnist, John Dodge, wrote a story on the bookshop that ran in the paper last Sunday. Such a good story…Everything is going pretty well on the bookstore front. The building is getting painted today! I feel like I make mistakes at a frightening clip but I am trying to go easy on myself. There’s just so much to do and so much I feel like I need to do but such limited time and resources that I have to pace myself. It’s a good life exercise really.I was able to sneak away to the lake house during the day this week to both catch up and fill up. I walked and read and ate cheese and bread and chocolate. I have written about this before, but this is my go-to-book when I feel like my reserves are low. I definitely require a bit of quiet and space. I can’t focus or be a good mom or friend or wife without it. I am so thankful I know this about myself. Perk of being 36 instead of 26?
Telfer carves the best pumpkins, right? Cate chose a bat this year. Jane chose the kitty and I picked an owl (of course). We are gearing up for Halloween. I am not much of a costume person but Telfer did buy me a hat. I have visions of growing into Professor McGonagall over the years. I will have one hat and one costume and eventually, I think my vision will be complete. It might take a couple of decades but I aim high.
Yesterday, I did manage to sneak away to Portland for the afternoon and evening for research purposes. Which of course meant visiting the mothership. And also involved meeting RaChelle for dinner here. Amazing food and even lovelier conversation. Friends really do make life a lot better.
This, my favorite month of the year, has gone by in a flash, mostly a good flash. You know when you start something big and something new and your mood can swing from totally, utterly overwhelmed complete with tears of frustration to peace and confidence – all in the span of forty-five minutes? That has been my month. But I am so grateful for new challenges and complexity and my little family. Friday I was able to walk downtown, stop in at the Bread Peddler for a morning roll and coffee and then open the shop. There have been some really, really lovely hours this month.
A quick run-down then we will consider ourselves caught up and I can keep the blog moving forward:At the beginning of the month, the girls had a joint birthday complete with school friends and grandparents and cousins and a bounce house. Cate came up with the theme – a crab party! – and we had an ice cream cake with a crab on it (get it – crab cake?) and the kadults (as we call them in our house thanks to Jane) actually had real crab cakes as well as ice cream cake. I also never thought we were the type of people to get a bounce house for our girls’ birthday party but you know what? Jumping makes kids tired! Totally sold.
George has been a total handful this month. This used to be his dog bed!
My favorite person turned 35 this week. His birthday week coincided with a week of a vacation. Sounds nice, right? Well, he has proceeded to work on the bookstore with me and pretty much do all of the parenting while giving me the time I needed to actually make some progress. He has painted and made window boxes and is generally the most helpful and kind person around.
And I tell you, after this week, I am at the place where I am feeling less panicked about what I have done to our lives. There are so many moments to keep me humble. I haven’t worked a cash register since college. I get so flustered so easily and quickly. There is so much I don’t know about running a small business, about books I have never, ever heard of and will never read. I have two male employees – young guys – that don’t know what to make of me exactly. To be truthful, I am a little confused by them but I actually need them to make this work. The previous owner and I are getting along so well. It’s wonderful to have her around and she seems to be taking the changes in stride. We even danced around the possibility of her staying on into the new year in some capacity. At one point I asked her if we were the same person separated by a few decades. She hates the space program too! She also is a pragmatist to the end!
Last note: the totes came in. Thanks again to my brother-in-law Nate for designing the logo. I absolutely love.
It’s true, we are taking over ownership of a small, mostly used bookshop in downtown Olympia on Wednesday. We have been working on this for months and months now and it feels so good to say yes, this is what we are doing! This is for sure a family project. Chris and Mendy are involved. I am going to be running this thing and Telfer is helping me with a lot of financial and operational details. Telfer and I love a project (how many times have I said this?) but this has trumped all in terms of details and obstacles.
Browsers Bookshop has been in downtown Olympia since 1935. I am (I think) the fourth owner — all of which have been women. The current owner, J, has been at the bookshop before I was born. I really like her. She is staying until the end of December to show me the ropes. In January, we will start a renovation of sorts. And then maybe a party is in order? Stay tuned. The bookshop has lovely bones (ahem) but really needs updating and a fresh beginning.
So this is the project I have been alluding to all spring and summer. I am of course NOT quitting my day job at the library although I did move down to .5 and so your kind thoughts and prayers would not be amiss as we navigate this new adventure.
My girls will grow up in a bookshop. This is going to be complicated and all of that but I get to mess about with books all day long. Can you even imagine how much fun this will be? I will write about this on the blog a bit but I am mostly going to use my instagram account (and link it to Facebook) to document the process.
Any words of advice? Right now, not unwelcome at all.
It’s the second to last day of September and I am sitting at my desk in my cozy little office wearing a sweater and drinking tea. It’s raining outside and I am working away on a variety of work projects. More on this later. Telfer should be home soon and I think we will head out to lunch before we pick up Cate promptly at 3:02 pm.
The last few weeks have zipped on by. I must admit, we are all still figuring out morning schedules. You can read quite a lot into that statement! On a good note though, last Friday was Cate’s school’s Harvest Festival where the kids make the lunch from produce grown in the school gardens. Since our Fall will be crazy, I decided to volunteer for something big right at the beginning of the year: I coordinated parents and helped kindergartners and first graders make 50 (yes, you read that right) pumpkin pies. Yes. The kids roasted the pumpkin, scooped it out, made the pastry, and the filling. It was awesome. I now know most of the kid’s names and some of their parents. Kindergartners cooking is both hysterical and absolutely awesome. One little girl sneezed twice into the bowl of filling. I pretended I didn’t see anything.
Cate took this picture of me when we were transitioning from dropping Jane off to walking Cate to school. Obviously I was working from home that day but it cracks me up. I had no idea she was a taking a picture and I look so purposeful.
Jane turned four on September 10. When I asked her what she wanted to do for her birthday she said she wanted to play marbles with me. When I asked her what she wanted to eat for her birthday she said cheese and crackers. We can do both Jane! We had cheese and crackers on the boat and then motored out to nearby Boston Harbor for ice cream. Such a sweet four year-old request.
Our garden is almost finished for the year. We still have lots of greens and kale but we are pretty much done with zucchini (sigh of relief) and the girls and I harvested our little, ornamental pumpkins last week.
My mom turned 60 this month as well. The whole family gathered in Richland for such a fun weekend. On Friday night all the adults went to a winery for dinner, wine and dancing. At least all the girls danced – I am still cracking up over the memory of Alyssa picking up a tambourine. Then on Saturday, at my mom’s request, we went to the Pendleton Round-up. I was slightly skeptical at the outset but we had the best time. Those cowboys are tough and so much fun to watch.
Elizabeth took this of me and Telfer at Bookwalter Winery and I have to say, I love this of both of us. I don’t remember exactly what we were talking about but Telfer must be explaining something. I love both listening to him and watching him talk. He’s so himself if that makes sense. Oh, and I got bangs too! I told you I was going to ramble!
One last thing though: I finished Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel a weekish ago and it is still drifting through my mind. Even if you think you can’t read one more post-apocalyptic novel, please put this on your list. Mandel seamlessly weaves together stories and time periods and characters in a way that absolutely left me in awe. Yes, this takes place at the collapse of civilization (from a pandemic this time) but there is so much life and beauty in this novel. One of the highlights of my reading year for sure.
As my usual, I haven’t reported on this reading project lately. My designated reading shelf is looking emptier but has managed to fill up with other lovely books waiting to be read. As shelves tend to do. The books I l have left to read are, fittingly, on the left.
Here’s the full, updated list here.
Little Bee. Chris Cleave
A heavy-handed novel about a Nigerian orphan and a British couple who meet on a beach with devastating results. I did listen to this and I have to wonder how the delivery changes my interaction with the story, with the writing, with the characters.
Townie: A Memoir. Andre Dubus III
Affecting memoir of a scrappy, difficult boyhood and young adulthood. While his father was a respected writer and college professor, his kids and ex-wife live in much more difficult circumstances. One of those books I would have never read without Powell’s Indiespensable but so glad I did. The opening running scene has stuck with me all summer…so much there.
A Rope and A Prayer: The Story of a Kidnapping. David Rohde & Kristin Mulvihill
In 2008, David Rohde, a New York Times reporter and newlywed, was kidnapped by the Taliban and held for seven months. The book alternates perspectives of David and his wife, Kristin. A fascinating account and I loved the different tones of the chapters – Rhode’s writes of his experience in captivity and includes analysis of various Middle Eastern issues while in Mulvihill’s sections she talks of trying to get her husband back from the Taliban but also, the Manhattan Cosmopolitan photo shoot of a persnickety Gossip Girl actress. Absolutely bizarre juxtapositions of both author’s very real experiences.
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm. Philip Pullman
Cate and I read a good chunk of these tales together. She loved many of the tales, even the dark and gory ones, and I appreciated the notes after each tale discussing provenance and artistic license, etc. There’s isn’t a clunker in the whole collection. I will read pretty much anything Pullman writes…
Also, you can tell I have had a stressful few weeks because last night I stayed up way too late reading Persuasion, my go-to reread novel when I am feeling overwhelmed. Once Anne and Captain Wentworth are together (but not together) in Bath, I am a goner. Have.to.finish.
In a somewhat backwards move, we had our first boating day of the summer on Labor Day. Yes. Oh, did I not tell you our boat sank Titanic-style at the end of last September? The bilge pump apparently failed in an early-fall storm. And so Telfer has been trying all spring and summer to either get the boat fixed OR to dump it before he spent too much money fixing an old boat. It was a process. I maybe wasn’t my most sympathetic. I was also a bit of a nervous nellie on our first outing – can you imagine sinking in the middle of the sound with two little girls on board? Well, I could and I was nervous. Poor Telfer! All went beautifully however and we did a little jaunt to Boston Harbor from downtown late afternoon on Labor Day. And it was beautiful. The girls had ice cream and played in the sand. Telfer and I shared a bottle of white wine. Lovely evening. Felt like an imperfectly perfect end to our summer.
Liz took me to the Walrus and the Carpenter in Ballard for a birthday dinner. I have been wanting to go for what seems like forever. We were there for opening (4:00 PM) and so we didn’t have a wait at all. The oysters, both raw and fried, were amazing. Shellfish is pretty much my favorite food. I also recreated one of the salads we had – greek yogurt, shaved, raw zucchini, pumpkin seed oil and sesame seeds. Doesn’t sound like much? Somehow, it feels really special. It also makes one less zucchini around here…
Speaking of zucchini, our garden has continued to do quite well. If you come over to my house there is a good chance you will leave with a zucchini (or three). We have grilled it, shaved it raw and pretended like it’s pasta, we have sautéed it, we have made fritters and soup and salad. This weekend I am going to attempt to can zucchini. I would have to say my favorite recipe from the Summer of Zucchini was sautéed zucchini with mint, basil and nuts (I used hazelnuts rather than the suggested pine nuts. I hate pine nuts – I feel like they go bad as soon as I buy them so I have stopped buying them). I also make a lot of homemade ricotta so this dinner was just beyond fresh and good. Our kitchen does however get intense early evening light (ahem, heat with no air conditioning) so after I stopped sweating from making this I really loved it.