It was a strange summer, no doubt, but not a bad one. With Jack gone, the kids and I ate lots of pizza and quesadillas and macaroni and other variations of carb+cheese. We made up routines to keep ourselves out of trouble: swim lessons, art camp, vbs. Summer school around the kitchen table.
I lost my keys on my birthday, had a flat tire in the middle of nowhere the following week, left home for a vacation and drove four hours before I realized that my wallet was not in the car, and later cut the wire that made our internet work. My friends checked in on me. USAA sent help. Dad overnighted cash. I survived.
We left town as much as we could. Rosie and Owen made new friends on a farm in Illinois. My mom took us to the neighborhood pool in Arkansas about every day for a week, and we visited Great-Grams in Tulsa, too. I had a snow-cone that changed my life, hung out with old friends, and saw Denison Witmer at Juanita's. We met Hannah, John, and Shep in Asheville, where the shrimp and grits changed my life again. And we spent the best week in Myrtle Beach.
Look at all the privilege dripping off my summer! Sure, I was a single parent for two months, but I didn't have to work AND parent, and I had unimaginable levels of support. (Hashtag blessed.) And even with all that support, I was still so done every night that I managed little more than watching Gilmore Girls reruns.
Ok, a few other things:
- I ate at Tupelo Honey twice while down south, and oh! the way they make southern greens. Video tutorial here.
- I became mildly obsessed with La Croix sparkling water this summer. My favorite: lime La Croix mixed with homemade mint syrup. To make the syrup, pour six cups boiling water over a big bunch of fresh mint and a cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves, then let the mixture sit for 6-8 hours. Strain, and reserve the liquid in the fridge. (Recipe via Christiana.) Add a few ounces of this to a lime La Croix, and voila: refreshment.
- The garden gave us loads of strawberries (turned into freezer jam), roma tomatoes (fresh sauce! homemade noodles!), cherry tomatoes (always with fresh mozzerella and a basalmic glaze), a few raspberries and blueberries (see snow cone note above), greens (see southern greens note above, and also pesto) and the odd zucchini, cucumber, and green bean or so.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer
These novels are like what would happen if Star Wars had a baby with a feminist and then she started hanging out with Battlestar Galactica and an anthology of fairy tales. Start with Cinder and see if you're not hooked.
Running to the Fire: An American Missionary Comes of Age in Revolutionary Ethiopia by Tim Bascom.
Nuanced and thoughtful memoir. My review will be in the September/October issue of Books & Culture.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
I read this classic because some many of my favorite people call it one of their favorite books. To be honest, I hated a lot about the first two hundred pages or so. Steinbeck's narrator comes off as mansplainy, and I didn't get any sense that Steinbeck loved the characters he was writing about. I like my authors with a little less arrogance and a little more love. That said, I adored the end of the book and what it said about what it means to be human.
This is My Body: From Obesity to Ironman, My Journey into the True Meaning of Flesh, Spirit, and Deeper Faith by Ragan Sutterfield
Both a memoir and a theology of the body, this book weaves Ragan's story together with his theological and philosophical insights about what it means to be human and embodied. Ragan's story is especially fascinating to me because Ragan and I didn't just grow up in the same kind of southern, evangelical atmosphere: we actually went to the same church. The same sixth grade class about the traps of teenageville (chief among them: sex), the same youth group, and for a while, the same school. How did the things we learned in those places shape our understanding of ourselves as embodied creatures? How do those teachings about sexuality and the body hold up when examined from a more mature age? If you ever struggle with accepting your body as a good gift that is absolutely connected to your spiritual vitality (in ways beyond abstinence!), I recommend Ragan's book.
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
I read this collection of the "Dear Sugar" advice column slowly, a question or two at a time, while at the beach. Sometimes I totally disagreed, sometimes I was astounded by her insight, but the way she writes is exactly what it means to speak the truth in love.
Re Jane by Patricia Park
A super-smart, funny, feminist retelling of Jane Eyre with Jane a Korean-American nanny in Brooklyn, this book was absolutely a favorite read of the summer. Park understands American culture and Korean culture and what it's like to navigate multiple cultures and identities at once.
Wearing God by Lauren Winner
I'm only about half way through this one, but it's a beautiful collection of essays exploring biblical metaphors for God.
Oh Taylor Swift. How much I hate your love for bad boys. How much I hate that you say that a kiss in the rain can take away the pain and that boys only want love when it's torture. so many lies (or half-truths, at best). tbh, I only started listening to you because Rosie heard you in PE class and asked if we could. I like listening to you sing, but I wish my six year old did not like listening to you.
Kacey Musgraves - Pageant Material
Bill Fay - Who Is the Sender
Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit
Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free
More news coming very soon :-)