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Summertime Blues

Sometimes I wonder what I’m a-gonna do, but there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues.

–Eddie Cochran

Elizabeth was mentioning this yesterday, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Not that I wasn’t before.

I think it’s partly the summer schedule. First of all, the manchild’s day starts a full hour later, and ends a half hour earlier, going to day camp rather than school. Related to that, instead of the school bus picking him up, I drive him. It isn’t far, but each pickup and drop off takes a half an hour. So right there, I’ve lost 2.5 hours of usual work time, which is a big hit. Half of it ends up coming out of my online time, and half of it from production time; and this leaves me feeling (and being) behind on email (which is a perpetual state of affairs anyway, I suppose) as well as blogging, with drafts piling up… and barely keeping my head above water productionwise.

This morning I got up and found I’d forgotten to bring in a handful of blending fibers that I dyed yesterday.

They’ll be fine. Still, oops. I completely forgot about them!

I could also blame the heat for part of my doldrums, but then the past few days have been perfect summer weather. Absolutely perfect. So it’s definitely not that.

It’s not like life is bad.

See? Kitten (in front of fiber being spun), work in progress, beer… of course, it’s beer in a bottle instead of on tap, because we failed to realize how close to empty the keg was till it ran out on us unexpectedly on Monday, with nobody having a chance to go get a new one till the weekend. The horror! The absolute horror!

The work in progress, incidentally, is the Pagoda shawl. I dyed some Falkland yellow, a little variegated (but not as variegated as I was envisioning, when all is said and done), and have been wrapping it up. It’s presently my big needle project — which is sort of pathetic, considering it’s on a size 3 Addi Turbo. I decided I would switch to that and finish it up, so as to have something finished to show for the summer to date, instead of continuing to make invisible progress on the Foggy, Foggy Dew shawl. But of course, the Pagoda shawl isn’t done either. 2-3 evenings, I think.

Kaylee isn’t herself right now, though, what with new stitches in her belly from Monday’s spay. She’s bouncing back, but she needs a lot of snuggling right now.

Oh, so instead of working on actually finishing something last night, what did I do?

Well, I deserved it, I suppose. What is it? More of that superwash merino/tencel blend! They’ll be up for sale soon (and I’m going to do a pre-listing sale before putting stuff in the ebay store, I think, to give loyal blog readers first crack at stuff. Seems fair). This one is my favourite, I think:

That’s “Harvest.” I’m trying to talk myself out of keeping it for me. Of course, I might keep “Maize” instead.

We’ll see.

I’ve been dyeing tussah silk as well; I like this one in spite of myself. Fortunately for all concerned, Elizabeth’s run off with it already, so there’s no need to worry about me stealing it for my own stash (which doesn’t need to be any bigger).

Today, once I get all the other various things I need to do out of the way, I’ll be in with Cardzilla, working on some fresh batts. Today and tomorrow are the last generally-available stuff for a bit, as after that, I’m tied up with Batt Club round 2 for a bit, and then I might go easy on myself and take a little break. Or not; I’m not so great at taking breaks. Someone remind me that I said I was thinking about taking one, sometime in a week or two when I’m clearly not?

Oh, I almost forgot.

He’s not tired. Ignore the giant circles under his eyes; they mean nothing.

Despite his evident fatigue, he actually behaved far, far better than most of the grownups, the majority of whom were pretty quick to muscle kids out of the way for things. I think this is part of what bugs me about the Pottermania; if we’re supposed to be doing this for the children, then how about we give the children a chance? I’ve been less crowded in a Tokyo subway, and the people doing the crowding were old enough to know better than to be shoving 9-year-olds around. It’s sad; while I’m thrilled about him reading, and very much enjoy the fact that he shares his parents’ bookishness, grownup obsession does make it harder for me about the Potter stuff.

We gave him a special dispensation to stay up reading as long as he liked. I don’t know when he passed out, but he was awake again — and half done with the book — by about 8 AM.

And done by 11.

His cousin (who I understand is very likely reading this) had probably better be done with it by now, so that he can discuss it with her at length. He’s been bursting at the seams about it, and being very good not spoiling it for other kids.

An interesting piece on NPR recently (during the Pottermania media blitz of course) talked about why it may be that some kids stop reading around age 9 or 10, even if they’ve read a lot before that. A big reason, it was suggested, is that kids don’t know what else they might like to read, and have trouble finding decent books. That theory flabbergasted me; aren’t there teachers, librarians, parents to help with that? Other kids even?

To be fair, I remember a few times when I was, oh, 8-10, that I brazenly told my parents I was out of stuff to read, and had nothing to read, and couldn’t figure out what to do about it. Without fail, every single one of these utterances resulted in a trip to the bookshelves in our house, and a huge, heaping new stack of books next to my bed. My parents scoffed at the notion of “running out of things to read,” urging me to simply read anything and everything.

That attitude worked out well when we were living abroad. Traveling internationally, you can’t always take a ton of books and it can be a challenge to find new ones in some places. There were times we’d simply buy whatever books we found, whatever they were, whatever language they were in, so long as we could come close to reading it. Hostels, albergues, expatriate hidey-holes of various stripes would commonly have random libraries: pick up a book you haven’t read, leave one you’re done with. That resulted in reading anything from Sidney Sheldon to Doris Lessing, Steven King to Walt Whitman, The Canterbury Tales to The Communist Manifesto. And lots of stuff in between. Periodicals and meaty tomes such as major religious books like the Bible (various versions, both testaments, English and Spanish) and the Tao Te Ching got read; these were substantially more fun than what we’d end up reading when even those things ran out, like the Merck Manual, which is actually extra fun when you’re living in the third world, as it tends to lead straight into “Huh, maybe I have scabies. Geeze, that sounds unpleasant. Hey, listen to this one…”

Okay, maybe you had to be there.

Oh, okay, so it was not really fun per se; but in retrospect, it sure is funny to remember.

Anyway, supposing that I really had read my way through everything on hand, and I went whining to my father about not having anything to read, he always had one answer: “Well then, I guess it’s time for you to write something.”

“I don’t know what to write!” I’d whine back. And then he’d give me a writing exercise, which as often as not would then end up being critiqued and rewritten, again and again (Yes, I know: use fewer words and be more concise. That’s never been my strong suit. I didn’t say I was an editor, did I?).

So with that sort of literate upbringing in mind, the notion of 10-year-olds not being able to find something to read is just… mind-boggling to me. Looking back, and really thinking about it, I can see how it could have happened to me, if my parents (and grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and… yeah) weren’t how they were.

All in all, I have often thought that if I had to choose one thing and one thing only to keep from all of civilization, one privilege alone, one thing not to lose in the great apocalypse, it would be literacy. With literacy, you can build anything, eventually. Literacy is what I couldn’t give up. No, I don’t want to give up my washer and dryer either, or electricity, or medicine, or science, or anything like that — but literacy? It would win, if there were only one thing that could be saved. Literacy is the great wonder of the civilized world.

Geeze, you’d think I was dragging my feet about getting into the studio today, and not just drinking more coffee. But alas, the cup is empty, the pot is likewise, and I’ve chewed up way more of my day sitting here than I meant to — my precious, too-short day.

I’ll leave you with this photo, which I was compelled to take last week. I walked outside and there it was: this looming thunderhead, backlit impressively by the setting sun, towering unbelievably high and moving East. I turned around and went back in for the camera, and by the time I got back, the backlighting was starting to fade and it wasn’t quite as it had been; but still, close.

I’m ready for my own personal skies to break open and incredible productivity to rain forth. At this rate, though, it’s gonna be fall.

24 thoughts on “Summertime Blues

  1. This meme here is going around LiveJournal, if you’re interested:

    I don’t recall ever really running out of things to read because I didn’t mind rereading things. Of course, by age 13 you could find me reading Alexander Dumas’ The Three Musketeers and by age 15 I was wading through Les Miserables. Of course, that was mixed in with Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey. I had and still have eclectic reading tastes.

  2. Fibery things look awesome!!!! I just love your stuff. But, I am at a loss of your love for the pinkish stuff. 🙂 I agree, run out of reading material? Where are the parents, teachers, aunts, uncles……? I’m sure Edward didn’t have the same response as me throughout the book. If he did, he may not want to admit it, I lost count how many times I began crying. I’m not a fruit loop………… I?

  3. yup, I hear you about the summertime blues. The heat, the messed up schedule or lack of it, and for me demoliton/moving/construction. Sure there is more sunlight in a day but there somehow seems to be less time. I haven’t had any “me” time in a while. Unless you count the dentist, and I’m not.

    I’m behind on emails too. I keep meaning to write you about the Batt club. It’s beautiful. I’m going to spin it up and give it to my Mom as a gift since she fell in love with it. (she’s not adept at spinning yet)

    I was the same way about reading. Nothing to read? We went to the bookshelf, the library or the bookstore. You never run out of reading and if you do, read something again. My girlie (who proclaims she will NOT read Harry Potter) tends to read the same book several times, happily. And all because she liked them so much the first time, why not read them again? I tend to give books to kids as gifts alot. My SIL once told me to stop giving books because the kids had too many??? I thought they had too many toys and not enough books. Too many books?? How do you have too many books?

  4. You can’t say you aren’t being productive — it’s just that what is being produced shifts for the summer. The spinning is beautiful! It’s interesting what you say about kids needing to be reminded to read. I remember that phase myself. It’s hard to think about not encouraging kids to keep reading. The sky picture is beautiful — and what a great view off your deck you have!

  5. Wait…you keep beer on tap…at your house…as a regular course??? I need to talk to my husband about this! (says she who didn’t even drink half of her bottle of beer last night – got busy, got tired, went to sleep)

  6. When we were kids, and didn’t have anything “new” to read, my parents let us read from their book shelves. Of course, it was stuff like Huck Finn, Hardy Boys and things my parents hung onto from their childhoods. Some things never get old.
    Summer doldrums…we’re at the halfway point, and I’m anxious for the fall to get here.

  7. Like Elizabeth, I’m impressed by your matter-of-course beer on tap–do you have a walk-in fridge or root cellar or something? Where do you keep it?

    I think the only time I’ve run out of things to read was at camp, when I’d only packed two or three books, and there wasn’t really library access. Other than that…it’s hard to fathom.

    While I’m commenting–the Harvest is lovely.

  8. I don’t remember running out of stuff to read, but I did scare the daylights out of parents/librarians/etc. When I’d read all the books in the children’s section of the library, I just headed downstairs into the adult books (I must have been 8/9?). The librarians weren’t pleased, but my parents backed me on it. They in turn weren’t pleased when at about the same time I found the ‘not for public display’ books in a cupboard under the TV. ‘Tropic of Cancer’ was boring, but I still cherish the Reader’s Union set of ‘The Lord of the Rings’. There’s a clue in that: I grew up in house full of books. Most kids today don’t. They might not realise the world is full of books full of worlds to visit. Sometimes they need the right book at the right time, and it might be something no librarian would recommend: I started one young teen reading for pleasure by pointing him at the really tacky SF shelves. These days he’d be looking at graphic novels. Do librarians rate these as reading? I do.

  9. holy cow… I can’t EVER imagine running out of things to read. Mostly because I have bookshelves chock full of books that I love to re-read. And I will read just about anything. I can relate to you with the merck manual, as I read through my grandma’s illustrated edition of Mosby’s Medical Dictionary when I was a teen. That picture you took of the thunderhead looks awesome. The bottom cloud kind of looks like a stegosaurus to me. As usual, your spun fibres look fabulous. If you get a chance, could you email me? I have a question about the fibre I bought from you a while back 🙂

  10. It’s great to hear that you had a cherished childhood full of books. I on the other hand, I did not. Growing up I hated to read and it wasn’t until in my adult life did I realize that I have mild form of dyslexia.

    I used to be so jealous of my younger sister, who was reading at college level by the age of 10…it takes me FOR-EV-ER to finish a book. I don’t let it stop me though. Since I commute by train to work, I use this time to read (or knit). In the past 10 years have read all of the Stephen King novels, most of Dean Koontz and a handful of different classics.

    Unfortunately my son who just turned 12 was diagnosed with the same learning disability and we’re fighting it all the way. It’s hard, but I fill my house with things I like to read and if he doesn’t like them we go to the library. For this summer I’ve given him the HP5 book to read…I’m hoping he’ll catch up to me on book 7. I’m currently on Chapter 12 of HP7 and I’ve been reading it every day since the moment I bought it.

    I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m a slow reader. To me I’m savoring each word;)

  11. apparently, not enough kids go to the library. when i was a kid, and i ran out of things to read, i would go to the library, and start with “a.” i would make it a challenge to myself to get as far as i could. i never made it past b, lol, but then i would find new reads, and continue. granted, i exposed myself to some atrocious sports novels, but then, i expanded my horizons as well (i discovered austen, for one).

    as for my own boys? my youngest will read any non-fiction that doesn’t bite him first (or actually, could bite him, if the actual subject was present. he’s mad about zoology). my older one is into sword & sorcery stuff, so, since this falls in line with some of my tastes, i try to steer him in the right direction. and they’re both voracious readers. i think liam (the older) has burned through 20 or more large books (we’re talking 500 pages or more of close-type) this summer. and they both ran through the new HP in less than 5 hours. whew!

    ain’t it grand?

  12. As usual, beautiful work!

    I am SO grateful that my mom pushed me to read. I can’t really remember not reading. It comes as naturally as breathing now.

    My sister put a copy of HP7 on hold at the library. Fortunately, there was no shoving involved, but there was a waiting list (4 of the 6 siblings of the household equally eager to read a book . . .yeah). We each got an allotted 24 hours before we had to pass the book on to the next person. Easy peasy. The hardest part was keeping our opinions to ourselves until the others were finished and able to discuss. 🙂

  13. We moved into a 100-year-old house when I was in 2nd grade, and bought not only the house but everything in it…including the massive library of books. When I ran out of modern things to read, I headed for the crumbling volumes of the Campfire Girls, The Sand-Fairy, The Red Fairy book, and James Thurber. That’s how I met Ogden Nash, who became one of my favorite poets (and MAN could he be snarky!) and Tom Swift and his Electric Runabout. 😉

    My parents once punished me not by grounding me from tv or going out, but by taking the bookcase & all of my books OUT OF MY ROOM for a month. I don’t remember the offense, but I DO know I never did it again…

  14. I feel really lucky that I had parents like yours, in the reading category. They were always suggesting books to read. They did not schedule me to death and allowed me to be bored because then I learned how to entertain myself, which I often did with the books they suggested.

  15. One game I clearly remember my sister and I playing was “guess the word”. The one would read the definition, and the other had to guess the word. We also played hide and seek with the seeker being blindfolded. Great fun in a small house. So despite there being TV present my sister and I turned to books and other entertainments including turning the kitchen into a disaster area by roasting marshmallows with forks on the gas stove 😉

    The books that filled our wonder were Laura Ingalls-Wilder, Tolkien, Cooper, Sewell, Dumas, Thurbur and James Whitcomb Riley. Pretty standard fare. Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark filled my imagination during high school.

    I’m watching my nephew, who is the same age as your son, geocache with me and my husband and see the love of the outdoors and adventure grow in him. And I continue to purchase him books as he also is a voracious reader.

  16. When I was a baby my mom joined a few book-of-the-month type clubs, and by the time I was ready to read books with chapters, I had a bunch of (fake?)leather-bound classics to choose from. Once I find a more permanent home, I’m going to claim them.

    Has Edward read Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy yet? The movie adaptation of the first book, The Golden Compass, is coming out later this year. I find the writing far better — not to mention more concise — than Harry Potter.

  17. “I’m ready for my own personal skies to break open and incredible productivity to rain forth.” Thank you so much, Abby, for that sentence! Really, I mean it! This is exactly what I needed. I’ll be repeating it often to myself (probably inserting “creativity” along with productivity). I wonder what it will take for the breaking open part to happen, but stating that I’m ready for it will certainly make it happen faster. Thanks again, I really needed these words.

  18. I agree, literacy wins! Anything could be re-done if people were literate. I also can’t fathom not knowing what to read. My parents didn’t have an education, thye emigrated to Australia and they couldn’t read but they knew it was important. They encouraged us to read,they took us to the library but they couldn’t help us choose books. They didn’t have any books of their own. My mum learned basic reading skills in her thirties, she was a new woman! I understand the feeling of days getting away because of the new schedule. Hope it doesn’t stress you too much. Love the merino/tencel flend you are spinning. Adore the silk in the pink, purple oranges and white. Drool drool. Anymore of that coming soon? I would love a few ounces of that! Good luck balancing the time.

  19. I do remember times of whining “I can’t find anything to read,” but that was usually because I’d read every book I or my sister had so many times, I needed a fresh infusion of fiction, but I always did (and still do) eventually found something! I like your line about writing something if you’ve run out of things to read, because I actually did that. I have a fully-completed (sadly unpublished) novel that I wrote solely because it was such a great story idea, I couldn’t believe nobody else had written it, but I wanted to READ it, so it was the only way (grin).

    Fibery stuff–yours looks gorgeous, as always. I’m halfway through plying my first batts from you right now and just have to tell you, they’ve been a pleasure to spin.

    Oh, and I love Harry Potter–the literary style may not be masterpiece-quality, but she does tell a good story. And I did not push or block or shove or trip a single child when I headed to the bookstore on Saturday morning to buy my copy, either!

  20. My father had bookshelves full of pulp fiction. I read Valley of the Dolls at 10. My snob mother wouldn’t let me have comic books, so I worked my way through the shelves. Quite an education, that was!

  21. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Books, beer, cats, knitting, whatever. The really important question here is why there are no sheep in that great big pasture behind your house. Well?

  22. I didn’t run into that problem much because I lived near a mall, aka, Waldenbooks. That’s where most of my allowance money went. I remember perusing my Dad’s stack of books in his office and occasionally taking one to read, or a National Geographic, etc., but as a rule my parents ARE NOT big readers, tho they encouraged their kids.

    I look at my stacks and stacks now, and I think about someday when/if I have a kid, and when they’ll be old enuf to read. There’s some far-out, adult fiction, non-fiction, and philosophy in my stacks, and I can picture my kid taking a book that looks interesting and their eyes getting BIIIG as they turn a page and see the F-word in print. Or when they happen to read the opening chapter of Lolita.

  23. Thinking back, around 10 is the age where kids books are read way too fast, but kids aren’t necessarily ready for the adult books. (I read them anyway, and squirmed whenever they got too graphic.)

    Then there’s the twitty adults who try to prevent you from reading. In elementary school, the teacher didn’t let me sign out “The White Stag” by EB White, and told me to get something from the younger kids section. (I was bored with the “green goo from the cafeteria” genre, and had just seen Disney’s “The Sword in the Stone.” In grade 7, I borrowed “Clan of the Cave Bear” from my school library… and the librarian told my mother “do you *know* what your daughter is reading?!?” in a very shocked tone. (WTF was the book in the library if we weren’t supposed to read it!?!) My mother said “of course… I loaned her the sequels.”

  24. Just a random reader who would like to thank you for raising another reader. My parents would scoff at the thought that one could run out of things to read. My 29 month old son has hundreds of books already. Of course, I’m an unemployed early childhood teacher, mostly kindergarten, so bully for my baby. 🙂 Great job, Parents!!

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