It feels strange to write a summer summary whilst wearing a wool shawl, drinking tea and watching the evening grow darker. In my defence I’ve been focused on other kinds of writing, and also just living life. July was a blur of sisters and outside and sunshine and projects, and then August came and demanded I repay the energy I’d borrowed, with an unkind interest rate to boot.
My birthday was in August. I know you’re no longer supposed to care about birthdays when you’re all of thirty-six, but I don’t care — it was lovely, and life generally needs more celebrating. In a way, this whole summer felt like one big celebration (minus the inescapable doctor’s appointments). I’m both very glad to have had it, and glad to be back to my usual calm routines.
Planting salad, spring onions and herbs; the luxury of fresh parsley for a salad cannot be overestimated. Fragrant lavender. Seagull babies, crow babies, magpie babies. Lots of help (“help” means I sit and watch while other people do the work) improving the garden. Everything being lush and full of life, before it tipped over into a slow-creeping autumn. That time with the bonfire. The nights turning darker again. The wildest rainbow I’ve ever seen.
I discovered a new area to clean on my robot vacuum (hilariously satisfying). New, matching frames for the living room artwork. Being able to see the kitchen tabletop for the first time in… a long time. The battle of trying to make my remote-controlled blinds acually be remote-controlled again. Pondering paint swatches for the dresser in the living room. A new duvet, and new sheets, and a new rug (do you people also go months without any big purchases, and then they suddenly come all at once?).
Skolelys (literally “school lights”), a term from my childhood, because needing to turn on the lights while eating the last meal of the day meant that a new school year was just around the corner.
I finally accepted my need for garments made out of knit/stretchy fabrics, and decided I might as well buy an overlocker (a special kind of sewing machine) now, rather than wait five years (and then curse myself for not buying it sooner). No, I haven’t actually tried the thing yet, but it’s a patient little beast. We’ll get there.
After many, many months: finishing the seagull shawl. It’s this pattern, in a lovely, hand-dyed yarn. As my making is so slow, I try to be smart about what I make, and also enjoy the process itself. I chose the yarn specifically because it resembles the feathers and fluff of the seagull babies, and I’ve been working on it while sitting next to the windows, with the seaside in the corner of my eye. This shawl shall therefore keep me warm in the cold, dark winter months, while reminding me that there will be long, glorious summer nights, with seagull cries and lapping waves, the smell of freshly mowed grass, and the laughter of my mum and sisters drifting through the window.
Oh, and I guess my main project this summer was working on my book (she said demurely), that fantasy novel I just can’t let go of. At the end of July I challenged myself to write two hundred words a day for a month, which I did. They’re not all good words, but that’s a job for Editing Maria In The Future to deal with. I’ve kept up the habit, and yesterday I passed ten thousand words. I can’t even describe how me it makes me feel, writing this thing.
(By the way, are any of you on the NaNoWriMo website, or working on a writing project? Let me know, we can cheer each other on!)
Are follow-up questions, or questions in general, a love language? They are to me, at least. Those, and beeswax candles, pasta and good sound.
I so very much wish that we could drop this thing in movies and TV-shows, where the main characters must be the most conventionally attractive people there, and that someone’s appearance is used as a shorthand for their mind and heart and morals.
Isn’t it wild how some things or experiences basically initiate time travel? Like, one minute I’m sitting here in my sofa chair, knitting and thinking about nothing in particular, then “May it be” by Enya comes on, and BAM, I’m sixteen, sitting in the basement in front of the family computer (yes, kids, that used to be a thing), wearing shorts so my legs kinda stick to the office chair, trying to find the right font for my novel’s chapter titles.
- Continuing “the Fellowship of the Ring” on audio.
- As much Becky Chambers as I can get my hands on. Have we talked about Becky Chambers here yet? I know I mentioned her when I read and loved the weird little robot book earlier this year, but this summer I re-read everything of hers and it‘s just so good. She writes sci-fi, but… character–focused, thought-provoking, wildly imaginative sci-fi. Because here’s the thing: I don’t really like sci-fi. Space stuff either freaks me out (nothing like pondering the enormity of the universe when you’re trying to go to sleep), or bores me (stuff goes bang! But it’s in space! Yawn). But Chamber’s books give me brain fireworks in the very best of ways.
- So much “Doctor Who”, my second exception to my “no-thanks-to-sci-fi” rule. Don’t ask me who my favourite Doctor is, I love them all.
- “A League of Their Own”. If you’d have told me I’d watch a show about a 1940’s women’s baseball team and have it skyrocket to a very high place on my favourites list, I’d have been sceptical. But that’s what happened.
- As I’m already revealing all my nerdy sides in this blog post, I can also mention that I found a YouTube playlist with all the extra material for “The Fellowship of the Ring”, and promptly watched all of it in a week or so, before watching the actual movie — specifically, the extended cut, which I hadn’t seen before. The author in me found it super-interesting to see which scenes they’d cut from the regular version. It was a lesson in storytelling, and I learned a lot!
- My Spotify generated playlists, because I am basic and they play things I like.
- Spotify’s Peaceful Piano playlist, on a loop, because again, it just works.
- A lot of the ambience room/soundscape videos on YouTube (like this one)
My me-made green linen shirt, and me-made linen culottes, basically all summer.
My hair straight, on occasion.
Garden days. Sister telepathy. Takeaway and Doctor Who. Soft-serve ice cream on a cold bench. Fragrant herbs. Birthday fish. All the birds.