Pip pip, cheerio, readers! I’m sitting here writing from Oxford, England, this week as part of a family vacay, our final one (and grand finale?) before Gabrielle heads off to college.
I’m looking out the window from the Red Mullions Guest House, getting ready to head back to London today, where we’ll hopefully tour Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. The weather is warm and sunny and our Peugeot is ready to rock. William has managed driving on the left side of the road with aplomb.
Of course, the biggest development of the trip is that my British accent has gotten better over the past few days. I know, aren’t you as relieved as I am? Take a listen:
“Don’t listen to him. He’s all mouth and no trousers.”
“I was chuffed at the football match.”
“Great job, William, you’re a real corker.”
Yesterday, I sat on a little silver ottoman that I found outside of the fitting rooms at H&M. It was shaped like a cube and was button-tufted to boot, the kind of perch meant for parents who are waiting for their teens or forlorn boyfriends who wonder how they’ll be compensated after being so patient.
I sat looking out at the bright, shiny store, musing about what had landed all of these people at Fayette Mall at 2 o’clock on a Tuesday. A girl flipped through the racks looking at a series of cropped tops with words like “Oh” and phrases like “Où est la piscine?” written on them. Meanwhile, another, holding an armful of prospective purchases, declared she hated shopping.
Then my phone buzzed.
Some women buy a new outfit to commemorate a birthday. Some a new pair of shoes to celebrate an accomplishment. For others, a little T.J. Maxx purchase as a pick-me-up on a low day. For me? My wardrobe reliably expands every second weekend in July when I add a festival dress to my closet.
The dress, of course, is in honor of the Master Musician’s Festival, the most wonderful time of the summer. If you haven’t been, MMF is a two-day music festival set up on the verdant grounds of Somerset Community College. In the past, Tiffany Bourne and her crew have hosted Counting Crows and Willie Nelson and, this year, the legendary John Prine takes to the stage. Yes, the John Prine, the “daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay” John Prine.
I’m writing from the basement bedroom right now while thunder booms upstairs. The dogs are playing somewhat happily at my feet (it’s hard to tell when their form of play is biting each other’s face), though Fitz stops and looks up with concern with every particularly loud clap. Unlike his sis Tilly, who ain’t afraid of nothin’, Fitz isn’t big on rain.
I, on the other hand, am firmly in the opposite camp. You could even call me a ceraunophiliac, provided I’m not standing near a tree, and the boomier and forkier the storm, the better.
“Right now, I’m about as hungry as the person who discovered snails are edible.”
Last week, I was welcomed to Planet Colonoscopy, a world I discovered isn’t as crappy as I thought it might be. In fact, most of the process was actually rather painless, even the drinking the medicine and pooping your brains out section.
But the part that got me?
The not eating bit.
Last week, the very bright Sarah Cahill stepped into my kitchen to tell me what was what. Wearing a dusty pink blouse with matching dusty pink sandals, she sat down and immediately launched into a conversation that was so technical, I was reduced to drawing pictures in my notes in an effort to remember how to replicate what she was showing me.
I’d hired Sarah because she is a fresh graduate from WKU with a degree in advertising and, as such, a genius in the world of social media. With my new business Sway Essay (plug, plug!), I am learning that I need to spread its word and basically advertise its presence using Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, most of which are either untapped or misunderstood by me.
The goal of the afternoon was to bake me some pie. I’d seen a photo on Facebook of a strawberry-rhubarb beauty a few days before, the kind where the luscious red syrup has bubbled over the crust but the baker has had the foresight to put the pie plate on a baking sheet to catch it, and hadn’t been able to stop thinking about it.
I had strawberries so delicious they tasted like candy from my CSA basket — by the way, a big shout-out to the Waterstrats and their Sustainable Harvest Farm; their produce is really amazing — but I’m always a little stumped about where to find rhubarb. It seems to be at Kroger on an only occasional basis, and I couldn’t count on it being there that day.
So, I messaged the woman who had baked the pie, who happens to live in my subdivision, to ask her where she’d found hers. To be honest, I was asking simply to find out whether I needed to go to Kroger or, shudder, Wally World. But Mrs. Linda Cook messaged me immediately back with the answer: “We have it growing in the back yard. How much do you want?”
This past Memorial Day weekend, we were lucky enough to visit friends in Knoxville. And as I sat by a pool and read a Martha Stewart Living, or ate lavender and honey ice cream, or drove around our friends’ lovely neighborhood, I thought about what it is, exactly, that makes long weekends so magical.
First off, there is the Friday afternoon beforehand. Isn’t it exciting? Everyone is talking about weekend plans on the radio and it’s the one time that we’re actually interested in what Mark Goodman and Nina Blackwood are up to. In fact, that’s one of the best things about long weekends: that everyone has it too, and we’re all on vacation together.
It’s like life is tinted whether you’re wearing sunglasses or not. You can practically hear people stringing patio lights up on their houseboats or around their campground sites. You can already smell charred marshmallow and hot dogs even though it’s 2 o’clock and you’re sitting at your desk and all it really smells like is hand sanitizer.
Every week, when I’m trying to decide what to write for this column, I write down a few notes for potential topics. This week, there are two words on my list: “visit” and “poop.”
The first pertains to the lovely time we had when my mom and Peter visited us last week. They arrived late Tuesday, stayed until early Sunday, and in that time, we rarely left the house, enjoyed hilarious happy hours, ate simply, watched hockey and the Royal Wedding, and entertained ourselves by watching the dogs play.
Several hours ago, Tilly Baker, puppy extraordinaire, attacked the vacuum hose. To be fair, it had it coming. Simply for being so sneaky-slithery, for one.
Same for the brick front steps. I’m not exactly sure what they did wrong, but I’m sure they needed to be put in their place, and I’m glad Tilly was the one to do it. After bounding up five steps — a feat her bro Fitz wasn’t able to accomplish until he was quite a bit older than baby sis — she tried to take a big bite out of the top one.
Same for the water hose, patch of phlox in the garden, and, for that matter, the bark nugget mulch. Makes for some good eating, she’s here to tell you.
And so this has been our lives ever since our baby Boston terrier arrived Friday.