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Ahhhhh, August. It's you. You with your parched-out lawns and your afternoon dust-devils, your back-to-school shopping lists and melancholy swimming pools. The air is hot and dry. The light is languid and golden-red from the smoke of faraway forest fires, and my heart has been heavy for California these many weeks. In the afternoon our yard is littered with the detritus of a kid with nothing to do: a baby pool filled with cloudy water and grass and Lego people. Two umbrellas (neither of which are the one pictured here, naturally). Several glasses filled with iced tea from three days ago. A Star Wars bike helmet. Playskool houseboat. "Welcome to Margaritaville" lawn chair. Lawn chairs (sans greetings) that I will sit on, and tired, sun-faded hippie pillows. A dozen desiccated former bouquets, left everywhere you look. Silly Putty (dehydrated). Dozens of colored paper clips that got taken out of the house for some desperate purpose, only to be scattered around and forgotten, minutes later. I wonder what lawn mowers make of paper clips. . . . Not that there's any cause to mow the lawn. It's completely dead, just like everyone else's. I've kept the flower beds alive; the lawn and the parkway garden are fried up and gone. All gone.

Summer is hard for me. It's been HOT most of the time, like literally too-hot-to-go-outside hot, at least for me. I'm a mushroom who looks like a roasted ear of corn, in spite of everything, everything. I try to go to the parks, playgrounds, run errands, all that stuff, before lunch. At lunch I drag Amelia around on my never-ending quest not for the best food but for the most-air-conditioned Thai restaurant in Portland. My questions, when considering what to eat: How far do we have to walk from the car to the door? Will they let me sit next to the AC vent? And do they consider 80-degrees an acceptable indoor temperature (I don't)? I can't believe I am this type of person. Amelia eats Pra Ram with tofu and I have my fried rice or green curry. She draws with ballpoint pens on napkins or on printer paper that the waitresses bring her because I never seem to have these things, or she stabs anything she can with toothpicks, or she makes pictures with toothpicks, or she snaps chopsticks apart. Sometimes I read my book (right now, The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton and I can't put it down) and she finds tiny plastic animals in a basket and makes them talk to each other. We frequently bring stuff home for dinner because it's just too hot to cook. We still have a month until school starts. Almost every single kid we know is in day camp, so it's been hard to make plans. Consequently, she tends to play with an ever-rotating cast of unfamiliar kids at an ever-rotating series of playgrounds. She's good at this, and will walk up to any kid anywhere and introduce herself (occasionally to be met by the other kid's sheer terror at being approached, or their indifference, or their outright rejection, which always makes my mama-heart secretly shatter into a hundred million pieces). But, in general, as Only Children need to do, she makes friends quickly and easily, and always, eventually, finds at least one little kid to pair off and run around with. Nevertheless, I think we both dearly miss the consistency of seeing our school friends (the same friends) every day, day after day, and having a routine, and staying more scheduled in our daily lives. Ironically, when we have gotten together with our old friends, the same kids who used to spend hours and hours every day together at preschool playing their various made-up games with unknown-to-anyone-but-them kinds of rules, they can barely manage to give each other the time of day. I've seen this happen almost every time! And now it makes sense — as easily as they make friends, they easily forget them. Because they live in the moment. And that moment, the old moment, has passed. I, however, am looking forward to being part of something again, and having that sort of regular interaction with people. I know I've said this before but one of the most shocking things about parenthood to me is how many people you get to know and then leave behind, never to be seen again. Moms (mostly moms, some dads) at school, moms at ballet, moms at swimming lessons, moms at the park (to a lesser extent, because you rarely see the same people twice, but sometimes you do). I honestly had no idea that so many mom-relationships are so temporary. I mean, I have mom friends in the neighborhood and in my life that don't change, etc., and that's good. But I'm talking about the people that you get to know a little bit through the various activities that you're there doing temporarily, and then when those things are over, it just goes poof! I think that's so weird! I mean, I'm not saying I really want to change it — I'm as pathetic at staying in touch with people as they come, and anyway, these aren't really those kinds of relationships (the staying-in-touch-kinds) yet, honestly. They're the pool-deck kind, and the park-bench kind. But I just have never had this kind of experience so often with anything or anyone else in the history of my life. It must be a bit like being a camp counselor, or traveling a lot for work, or running a bed-and-breakfast — you're constantly saying hello and then, very quickly (in the scheme of things), saying goodbye. And I'm just saying that I am ready for some consistency and stability myself, and more hanging around and less departure.

Back to the book I am reading (points above). I want you to know that I found the link to that for you all without really looking at the computer screen because I do not want to know what ratings this book got or read a single spoiler about it or anything like that. Nothing. I barely read the flap. I'm on page 200ish of an 800-page book and I believe it's going to get me all the way through our vacation at the end of the month without me wandering away. And that's more than I can say for the probably twenty other library books I have checked out and returned, unfinished, this summer. I know it's me, not them (probably), but what can I say. Nothing's been sticking. Until now. Fingers crossed. I do live in constant fear that I'll get really into a really big, fat book like I did with The Goldfinch only to get to the end and have the world's biggest hissy-fit, which is what I did — I hated the way that book ended so much. I was furious. My roaring anger at it (and I mean, I really was shouting when I finished it) was in equal and direct proportion to how much I had loved it while reading it, and the whole experience was just waaaaaay too radical and insane, even for me, and I'm not looking to repeat that right now. So, you Luminaries, CONSIDER YOURSELVES WARNED. . . . Don't you let me down or things will get ugly. It’s hot here.

Now. I have finally gotten my Summer Storm PDF up in my web shop. I need to finish the pattern for my autumn cross stitch — I finished all of the stitching and the floss and fabric have been ordered, but I need to finalize the actual chart. Then, just as I woke up one morning thinking, "Hey! I should do some kind of hand-dyed-yarn advent calendar!" someone wrote to me and asked me if I was going to do some kind of hand-dyed yarn advent calendar. And then all hell broke loose in my brain and I started hammering ideas at Andy Paulson while he was trying to wrangle a small child and a small dog (paybacks). So all day today I've been sketching out ideas for what this would look like from me. In case you've never heard of this concept (it's pretty trendy in the hand-dyed-yarn community, but until I started dyeing yarn I'd never heard of it before, to be honest) you would basically pre-order this special box of goodies that I would ship to you sometime in November, so that you were ready to start opening on December 1. In the box would be twenty-five separate little packages, all wrapped up and labeled with numbers 1 through 25, and, just like a regular advent calendar, you would get to open one package each day. Among the packages would be mini-skeins of yarn, along with a full-size (100g) skein of yarn (for Christmas morning, of course), plus a special full-size lotion bar, plus various other luxurious little winter- or knitting-related presents for you, picked or designed or made by me. I don't even want to tell you what the things are yet because I'm too excited and my ideas aren't fully baked yet. But all day I've been thinking of ideas and running numbers and looking at clip-art and researching prices and sourcing packaging and calculating shipping costs, etc. Nanny Katie will be leaving the Posie studio to return to her full-time teaching position in the fall, but one of her friends may take over for her here, if everything works out. I know I can't do this alone, but if everything does work out, I seeeeeeriously want to do this, because it would be so much fun. I would do a very limited run, probably fifty max, just to see how it all goes. These can get kind of expensive because I can already see that they are a lot of work to put together, but people seem to like to buy them. What do you think? Have you gotten one before? How did it go? Tell me everything.

66 comments

Eeeee! No I have never had one, but ohhhh yes, please do! How lovely:)

Yes please to the hand-dyed yarn advent calendar! I've seen them around and didn't fully understand what they were, but it sounds like fun. A wonderful little daily treat to yourself during the busy holiday season. Hope you get help though - that's (50 times 25 equals...) 1,250 wee little boxes to package up!

Alice Stephenson says: August 14, 2018 at 04:33 PM

The hand-dyed yarn advent calendar sounds so exciting. I seriously had that "little girl on Christmas morning" squeal of excitement. What a fun idea!!!

Ohhhh! I'd totally sign up for the Advent calendar! And thanks for the link to The Luminaries, I ordered it right away and the audible version, too. Because I can't knit and read at the same time. 😁 Hang in there, the heat will eventually dissipate. I'm over it, too!

Melissa Hemhauser says: August 14, 2018 at 07:07 PM

Send sun and some dry days!! ha We have had so much rain here in eastern Pennsylvania since spring. Never remember so, so many rainy days. Weeds going crazy and terribly hard to keep up with lawn mowing. I have heirloom Dahlias and they are not so happy always being wet, they are filled with buds that are waiting for some sun! I wait all year for summer:) Love your blog, writing and creations. I am also a creative soul and have sewed since I was a little girl. ( I learned sitting by my Na-Na on a little stool while she sewed childrens PJ's to be shipped to missions) I remember reading the article about you in the Hallmark magazine many years ago. Your story of healing and stitching touched my heart. Blessing to your beautiful family,

weather is so funny and odd; parts need rain; we've had flash flood warnings in the last week. Actually it was sunny this afternoon and my Husband was reading some great Irish fairy-tales and all of a sudden it got really dark. I peeked out our window, looked up, whoa, that was some serious low grey dark clouds and within 2 minutes thunder, within 4 minutes, RAIN falling pell mell straight down and less than 20 minutes later, no rain, skies getting lighter again... so funny. I'm told it is a 'ocean specialty' as we live near the bay (basically near NYC/Lady Liberty).

I am sure you will sell all 50 of those calendars in about 30 seconds flat. I have no doubt!

I hear you about the temporary Mom-friendships; I don't have children (but I do have godchildren, nieces nephews, so glad for that) but I have seen lots of Moms meetings at parks and it's nice but then over.

I feel like it can be hard to develop friendship after the college years and depth and history of a friendship (as in time spent, years spent) is harder to come by. (I've moved a lot). But we all just keep going and rally as best we can. Blessings to you and wishing ou cooler days and peace!

Bridgette says: August 14, 2018 at 09:52 PM

Summer, i can’t wait for it to arrive, somehow forgetting how hot it gets. At 61 you would think I’d remember? The Goldfinch, I felt like I had been cheated out of hours and hours of my life! I was down to the last 3-4 chapters, just sure it would come together. I stayed up late so I could really focus, when I closed the book I threw the damn thing across the room! Good thing it was a paperback.
I’ve been listening to Jan Karons Mitford series on Audible. It’s very sweet and calm, no sex, violence or POLITICS.
Here’s to Autumn, cooler days, warm food, and returning to our routines.

Lovely as always Alicia. I adore the photo of Andy and Amelia. So sweet. xx Susan

You’re so right about the Mom friendships. I eventually got used to that and it was fine. I did make a rule when my kids were little: I would only set up play dates if I liked the kid AND the Mom. Too many weird/hard experiences with kids who adored each other but I disliked the mom. And too many where the moms liked each other but the kids fought incessantly. It had to be good for bigs and littles- like a double date!

I love that you are reading a book by a New Zealand writer all the way over in Portland (proud Kiwi here). I've never read The Luminaries myself, but it's on my list for the future.

Have you ever read any books by Barbara Trapido?? I fully recommend her books - genius!!!
Also Amelia may love these books 'Ruby Red Shoes' by Kate Knapp. And the book called 'Mouse Mansion'. I love the illustrations and stories in these kids books SO much.
I hope you get some lovely sweet rain soon.

I've been the same with books this summer, I think I've abandoned more books in a row than ever before. I'm reading 'The Trouble with Goats and Sheep' now by Joanna Cannon, which is good, and I think you'd love it too. It's set in the 1976 heatwave in England and is a mystery solved by two 10-year-old girls. It's funny and well written and after throwing down at least six books in frustration/annoyance I'm happy to have found it. Sorry it's so hot and dry with you. It was a bit on the warm side here (80F!), but all back to cool, green dampness now. I wonder if you should spend the summers in England from now on. CJ xx

I have been looking at the yarn advent calendars...and they are pricey, but what a FUN concept!
Cooler weather IS COMING!...I cling to this Truth...I live in FL, and it really doesn't show itself well until October...and I have learned to accept that (I mean, what can one do!!??? Thank goodness for air conditioning!!)...
Just to assure you, I have many books on my shelves that have book markers half way through them. My theory is that a writer really could have said it all in the first half of the book, but the whole book writing/publishing group require a certain number of pages/words. As time is a precious commodity, I no longer believe I have to finish a book (or a project!). If it isn't holding my interest, then it is time to shelve it and move on!
As always, thank you for a lovely post!!!

I awoke this morning to a delightful post from you--certainly started my day off beautifully. I am definitely not a fan of summer, late spring, early fall--anything with heat. Today will be hot hot hot sunny sunny sunny with no rain but masses of humidity and puddles of humanity sitting 2" away from any fan. Even the hostas in the deep shade are crispy! There: I have reached my quota of grumbling. Thank you for the pleasure that your writing brings--always a delight.

Laura Smartt says: August 15, 2018 at 05:30 AM

Girl you have read my mind!!! I have been hoping you would do an advent calendar!!!!! Oh yes please !

Hello from Seattle! Hot and smoky here too, but I secretly love it because a) I have a/c and b) I’m from VA and it’s nowhere near as bad here as it gets there in the summer and I’m soaking up the feeling of sun on my skin so maybe I can get through the cool and rainy winter without going insane.
I have a just-turned 6 year old boy. Only child. It BREAKS my heart when he goes up to kids on playgrounds and asks them to play and they stare at him like he’s crazy or say no or ignore him. What the heck??? I would have never done that as a kid. Honestly, they didn’t do it in VA either (which is where I grew up). Seattle Freeze.

I would love the advent calendar!

Reading your words always brings such a smile to my face, I suppose it's because I can relate in many ways. We are ready and counting down for autumn in our neck of the woods (Idaho). May and June are delightful. July and August make me want to never leave the house, it's so darn hot! Smoke lingers in the valley, a common occurrence each summer yet I never manage to get used to it....I long for clear skies, cool breezes and cozy clothes! The mornings have been hovering at 52 degrees (of course, it's 6 a.m.), I wear a jacket while out walking the pup, it's pure bliss and I feel my soul starting to stir, my energy returning...I suppose it's that slow arrival back to myself. A feeling I welcome with open arms.

Happy day to you, my friend!

Oh please do an Advent calendar! I have seen others, more commercial, and I was turned off by how expensive they were...but I know if you do one, that's personally curated by you, it would be awesome! ...And now I am worried it will sell out before I can even order it! I love your style, and ideas, and I know with your personal touch,it would be beyond amazing. So yes, please do it! {Hugs}

That sounds like a yarn-lover’s perfect December. Unfortunately I am guessing that the exchange rate, shipping and now the dreaded GST tax add on would make it well out of most Australian’s reach but I can tell you how jealous I will be when I see that beautifully packaged and presented box of goodies!
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s fibre but instead be grateful for one’s own stash 😜

oh my goodness! the title and opening paragraphs about august are fantastic! i love your descriptions. my yard looks exactly the same... dead lawn littered with dirty faded toys and other random objects. oh august, your time is almost up and i'm ready to say goodbye!

I've never heard of this before but I WANT ONE! EEK!

So interesting, these points you bring up about the relationships that come and go. I could never really put my finger on it, but you said it just right. It must be like people who own a Bed and Breakfast, for example. We have been to different ones in the past and have made such wonderful connections with people, and then just like that, poof, it's gone. One more good reason to grab on to each moment and enjoy the heck out of it! I am on that advent calendar train! It does seem like each year they become more expensive and I just can't bring myself to do it. But for this year, just this very day in fact, I ordered one from Jooles, of Sew Sweet Violet. She is a beautiful maker and her attention to detail is stunning. This year, hers happens to be a 12 days of Christmas, which brought the price down a little. I do understand it would be very expensive to make, source, ship, etc. so I get the prices. I told my husband today, you just bought my Christmas gift!

i would lose my mind if you sold an advent calendar! i would pre-order it today! yes yes!

You can have some of our rain, we've had WAY too much. Around here there is a lot of talk of flooded basements and flash flooding sweeping cars off the highway!

The last month of summer is always hard :/ But autumn with its glorious leaves and cool breezes will be here soon!

Oh, yes, please rain here, there, and then back here! Love this blog, as I always do. I especially want you to know that the Advent Calendar idea is AWESOME and I need to reserve 2, no matter what the cost! And I want them now- because I’m HOT too and in need of a very special treat ASAP 🌞🌞😂

My heart leapt a little at the thought of getting an advent calendar full of goodies from you. I don't even know what to do with hand-dyed minis, but hoo, that's for Future Me to worry about...my finger is already mentally on the pre-order button for that.

I can't get a book to stick right now, either. I recently read "All Creatures Great and Small" which had somehow got past me all these years, and oh my goodness, what a treat that was! Warm and sweet, and soooo funny. A good book is hard to find, isn't it? I've got The Luminaries going now, too, so if you finish first, no spoilers. ;)

I hope you get some cool breezes soon. xoxo

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About Alicia Paulson

About

My name is Alicia Paulson
and I love to make things. I live with my husband and daughter in Portland, Oregon, and design sewing, embroidery, knitting, and crochet patterns. See more about me at aliciapaulson.com

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Since August of 2011 I've been using a Canon EOS 60D with an EF 18-200mm kit lens and an EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro lens.