Sunday, July 17, 2011

Notes for a Rainy Sunday. . .

I think I’ll make notes like these, when I can, on weekend days because it fits the spirit of what I why I started My Summer Notebook. It is a record—for me to keep—of the days, thoughts, and happenings of my summer.

--What to do on a rainy Sunday morning when quiet time is finished, coffee is mostly drunk, the bed is made, all messes are put away, and there are still two hours til I leave for church? Sit beside the living room window in my green chair with the last of my coffee to read the summer entries of Elspeth Thompson’s The Wonderful Weekend Book, while I watch the rain fall outdoors. I love this little book, and tears come to my eyes as I think of kind Elspeth and her gestures of friendship to me after having met her through my old blog. I miss her and her very real, down-to-earth, lovely spirit.

(I hesitated bringing this up because I don't really want to talk about  or dwell on what happened, but Elspeth's blog really is worth reading back through. I think she's inspiring.)

--As I begin to read about Elspeth’s ideas for filling summer days with goodness, friendship, and adventure, she speaks of the dusty days of late-summer August when we’ll wish for cooler temperatures again, I realize that we’re almost there! Summer has flown by and too quickly! I still have not picked berries or hiked or done some of the things I planned to do. This has lit a little fire under me, and I need to begin thinking more proactively before the outdoor months are past.

There’s always a long line at Sweet Life.

--Aaron had two birthday celebrations this week, both of them simple. For Celebration #1, Aaron and I were here at my house. I cooked him his favorite shrimp scampi with rigatoni, and we ate a salad of tender greens and a light vinaigrette with the pasta. That was it. Then we went to a local patisserie in lieu of me making a birthday cake. My sister’s family (and a French girl they are hosting for two weeks) decided to join us, so we ended up with quite a crowd (ten of us) in that already crowded place.

Celebration #2—yesterday, here. Quiet and simple. Aimee and Melissa came down for a day of visiting and eating and playing with little Avery (who is entirely sweet). And somehow, I didn’t think even once of snapping a photo, which is perfectly good. I really don't want to watch my entire life through a lens! For those of you who find mirth in my combination of meat and vegan meal offerings, I want you to know that we had Asian chicken-rice bowls with avocado and mango yesterday, and I served Heidi Swanson’s delicious vegan chocolate mousse for dessert. (You also should know that tofu, flavored with the same Asian sauce as the chicken, was offered for the non-meat eaters.)

My top looks a little bit washed out in this photo (think pinker all over!).
My hand is not on my hip to affect a pose;
it’s there because I didn’t know what else to do with it!

--As I dressed for church this morning, I picked out this bright pink top to wear over my jeans. When I tried it on in the store and stepped out of my dressing room to look at it in the three-way mirror, a saleslady remarked, “Oh, that’s nice, but, you know, we have that shirt in a neutral color, too. Do you want me to bring you one?”

“No, I prefer this one,” I said. “It’s nice and cheery.”

I noticed something while watching a movie years ago. The first part of the movie was set in a poor-ish part of India, and everything was beautifully colored—buildings, decorations, and the clothing the people wore. I loved taking it all in! Then the setting of the movie switched to Europe, and I was immediately struck by the drastic change in the color of the buildings, the vehicles, and the clothes people were wearing. It was a study in grey and black. How drab, I thought. How boring. I had actually noticed among real life friends from India, Bangladesh, and Indonesia that other cultures—often the ones with a lot less money than most western cultures—are more festive and look like they’re having way more fun (though I don’t really think they are)! I’m not at all a flashy person, and my home is not bursting at the seams with vivid, festive colors (it would overstimulate me), but I liked the bright cheeriness of the Indian scenes in the movie so much better than the grey-toned (in contrast, at least) European scenes that I determined right then and there that I would always have a good amount of color in my wardrobe and some pretty color around the home.

You only live once. Why do it in black and white?! (Unless of course, you love black and white, and then I’m sure you could make a gorgeous life with it!)?

Eating corn salad this quiet afternoon while looking through The Food of Spain.
Today, I unpacked the colorful napkins Michelle made for me two or three Christmases ago.
See the green one I used at lunch?. I’m glad to have these in the house again.
Now, I’ll think of Michelle every time I eat!

--I came home after church and decided to keep the day as slow and simple as possible. Read, relax, eat light. So, for lunch, I made a raw corn salad. I love to eat this in summer when corn and tomatoes are ripe and sweet, so I make it all the time. I don’t have a recipe for the salad, but that keeps it extra simple. I take one or two uncooked cobs of corn and cut the kernels off, right into a bowl. I add some rice vinegar (maybe a tablespoon per corn cob), some lime or lemon juice (about the same amount as the rice vinegar), about half as much olive oil as the combined acids, a pinch or two of salt (to taste), and as much chopped chipotle chile (with adobo sauce) as I like (it grows hotter as it sits in the salad). I stir well and then add chopped tomatoes, avocado pieces if I have an avocado around, and some chopped cilantro. I taste and adjust til I get the saltiness, tanginess, and smoky-heat just to my liking (I like a good amount of vinaigrette in this salad but not until it’s practically floating). I don’t measure any of the ingredients—I just go by eye—but I think it would be hard to mess up this salad.  I can eat buckets of it!

--I have this many books to donate to St. Vincent de Paul’s. There were 13 overflowing boxes, but now there are 11 not-quite-full boxes because I sold some of my books to a local used bookstore (maybe I should try to sell more of them there). Slowly, but surely, I’m clearing out my excess stuff.

--And now it’s time to put some things away, finish a letter I’ve been writing, do some reading, and call my mom for a Sunday chat.

Happy rest of the day!


  1. Susan,
    The colors in India are, indeed, vibrant! The women wear the most beautiful fabrics and their wrists jingle with the music of silver bangles. In Cameroon, too, the colors are bold and alive. I have rich color memories associated with both places and can travel far away with just a glance at my fabric stash.

    I remember Elspeth fondly, too. So much beauty. I haven't read her book, but would love to sometime.

    Hope you had a wonderful rest of the day.

  2. Beth, I smiled reading your comment. How wonderful to have been the places you've been! My daughter's family is from Bangladesh, and when they have large family celebrations (with relatives coming from far and wide), they all dress in their beautiful native clothing with jewelry jingling and sparkling. It's so beautiful! And the food--wow! Yum. I love being part of these gatherings. Beth, Elspeth's book is just like her! :-) You might really enjoy having it. (Nice "chatting" with you here this afternoon!)

  3. Susan, I too wa a fan of Elspeths blog and reading here about her refreshed amny sad memories of her death last year. I then went and found a link to her husbands article in the telegraph newspaper on his wifes death and his life without her... v sad but thats life isnt it sometimes. She was a great contributor to a lot of things wasnt she. I like the pace you set yourself on sunday, so many of us dont stop to do just that!

  4. Susan, I would LOVE to have a peek in those book boxes!! I am sure I could take some off your hands!!! I have really been enjoying this little place. thanks for sharing~ Andrea

  5. Winterwood, I read all about E (and what happened), too. I just ran across the last email I was writing to her the other day (it was unfinished and so unsent), and it made me really sad.

    Andrea, I am just so happy to see your beautiful face here! I wish there was a way for you to go through those boxes and take what you want! But you live reaallly far away. . . :-)