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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

Hi Alicia, I have read The Luminaries and it got me through a whole August a few years ago. I loved it and am glad you are enjoying it too. A good book for summer. And I visited Hokitika 14 years ago whilst on a much loved and remembered tour of NZ, which is what drew me to the book. I am sorry it is so hot for you still. We fried in the UK also this summer and I find it very hard to deal with too, but thankfully it has rained now a few times and is cooling off as we slide into autumn. Best wishes, Emma

Your advent calendar good box sounds fabulous. Please make more so I can be sure to get one. Thank you dear Alicia....

Oh man...I had the same reaction to The Goldfinch. LOVED reading that book until the last quarter or so. Then I hate read to the end. BUT I really loved Luminaries and wasn't disappointed in the ending at all. One of my favorite books last year. Here's to hoping you have similar sensibilities to this internet stranger.

December gifts sound wonderful! I don't have any family (they all passed away). So Christmas is a very sad and lonely time for me. Doesn't help that I'm housebound except for doctor appointments. Presents? Mine here I'm afraid. So you get the picture. Gift goodies in December would be a joy for someone like myself who simply endure the holidays.

Presents? None here.

Maci Nogueira says: August 26, 2018 at 06:20 AM

The images are fantastic! My best regards to all.

diane lithgow says: August 26, 2018 at 02:57 PM

I can't believe you have perservered with the luminaries. Biggest waste of my time. Story line was great but as she swallowed the dictionary and then had to regurgitate every word i could not get past the never ending descriptions. As a kiwi I am hoping the film will be better, but havent heard much from that in the last couple of years.

I felt the same about the Goldfinch -- total copout ending. Felt as if I wasted my time reading & purchasing the book! Will look forward to what you have to say about the book you are currently reading. love your blog.

Alicia, write a novel. Stop crafting (for a bit) and write fiction.

Ditto re goldfinch. Glad it wasn't just me who felt this way after many long hours invested in this book. And also, as always THANK YOU, thank you for the heaven and sanctuary that is your blog.

You'll have so many takers on your advent calendar...who doesn't love little packages tied up with string? I got an advent bracelet one year with 25 little charms...a different one for each day. The first day of dec was the silver bracelet. It wasn't cheap but it's been the most fun thing to have to wear each year since...each little charm a different icon of Christmas...so fun, so yes yes yes to your yarn calendar...start today if it will blow the hot weather away once and for all!

lori barre says: August 31, 2018 at 11:50 AM

hammer it out! this will be amazing.

ALSO....i get it about August. oh.my.word.

dry dry dry...routine needed. your words described it perfectly.

This is such a beautifully written post and your descriptions of little life experiences are so evocative and poignant. We are nearly empty nesters, which in itself is a revelation to us, and the difficulty in forming new friendships once you no longer have a common ground of children in school is surprisingly and sadly difficult. We are hoping for rain here soon in Texas. The same dryness and oppressive heat is affecting us as well. You have been on my mind as my daughter is considering Lewis and Clark College in Portland. She has fallen madly in love with your city. I can’t blame her in the least.

Such a lovely three days to think back on during the depths of winter. I love Amelia's freckles. I wish her the best in her new school. xx

Yeah the ending of goldfinch was a disappointment (what I call it) but I don’t think it ruined my entire glorious experience of reading it. I think Donna Tartt truly didn’t know how to end it in a satisfying and understandable way...but yeah. However, it’s still one of the most engrossing books I’ve ever read.

I have never wished I knit more! but too many quilting projects on the go to pick up something new- can't wait to see the calendar when it comes out

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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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Photography

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.