The other side

Gosh, I feel alive again.

I’ve read a bunch of Nancy Drews, and I’m thinking about what to say about her. I think she’s in the news a lot lately because Sonia Sottomajor mentioned reading her as a child. A friend of mine who’s a lawyer loved them and read all of them, and many successful women (well, successful in the meaning of having a prominent career, I guess) have mentioned that they all read Nancy Drew when they were young and liked her gung ho attitude.

I like her, and I can appreciate her gung ho attitude, but she was never my favorite read — she was too good at everything and never had any qualms about anything. She wasn’t very complicated. I do like mysteries, but I tend to like the ones by Ian Rankin, or Henning Mankell, and I tend to like them for the conflicted lives of the detectives more than for the crimes they solve.

In my opinion, the mystery part of mysteries is pretty arbitrary anyway, since it’s all made up anyway. So the interesting part is really the location. Do you really get a feel for Edinburgh or Ystad from them? I kind of think you do, although I might be wrong. You get a sense of the midwest from Nancy Drew, and a sense of the time period — the 30s — I actually think they’d be better if they really were located somewhere, like Beezus and Ramona on Klickitat St.

Anyway, I find them somewhat unsatisfying.

Something I’m finding infinitely more satisfying is Molly Hughes’ A London Family. I’m currently in the middle of the middle volume, which covers the life of Molly Hughes when she’s in her 20s, and London is about in the 1890s. Adam Gopnik wrote an intro to the persephone edition of the first volume, about her childhood, and mentioned what a hard life she had — particularly the part where she was engaged for 10 years while her fiancee became a barrister. But really, it sounds great. She goes to school to learn how to teach teachers, and then helps to set up a school to teach teachers. I think she’s got the best of both worlds — she does eventually marry and have a family (and then have to go to work again when her husband dies, apparently) but in the meantime she is working passionately at her career, and traveling around America and Canada. There is no doubt that she is a person who knows how to wring the best out of any situation. It’s a great book — much more inspiring than Nancy Drew, I have to say.

So anyway — that’s what I’ve been up to, post party.


The party was great, and I am totally exhausted.

I’m not sure why throwing a party has me ready to contemplate a long week in a rest home. Should we have three or four more, now that the house is clean and the garden (mostly) weeded?

In the end, it was really fun — there was a mix of many people from many different parts of our lives, all hanging out in our backyard.

It went quite late, and then N convinced me that we needed to watch an episode of the West Wing, and now I am utterly exhausted.

I am really just hanging out here, waiting for it to be time to go home and go to sleep.

Curiously, at least three people told me that life after 50 would be much better.

Good to know . . .


Well, there isn’t any, really.

I went to the gym last night — which makes me feel quite virtuous.

Then N and I sat on the couch and watched at least 2 episodes of the W$st W$ng.

We’re sinking in to summer. M’s class starts up next week. N is going to a yoga class tonight and will start Russian classes soon. We’re eating fruit and fruit and fruit and I come home and water the yard. The cats sleep under the raised beds in the dust and are quite annoyed when I come near them with the hose. We’re eating Indian takeout for dinner, and leftovers for lunch the next day.

And the weather is good, and it’s time to think about the beach.

There is no homework. We go to bed when we please, and we’re up early.


We are going to have a film festival in our house.

The rule is, each of us gets to pick one movie and we all have to watch it.

I’m picking Amarcord, and N is picking Magnolia. K says he is picking Beavis and Butthead do America, but I really hope he does not, because I don’t think I can sit through a Beavis and Butthead movie. 81 minutes of pain. Hmmm.

Anyway, I’m hungry.


I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I really like my birthday. I think it is partly because it is on the best day of the year, which is the last day of spring and the beginning of summer which — although I really like all seasons, is probably my favorite. It is occasionally the longest day of the year, which is good. I also like it because there is generally chocolate cake involved. How I love chocolate cake.

This year, I had waffles, then drove M to her riding lesson. That was nice, because it’s always a good time for a conversation. Conversations are good. Then, when she came back, we went to the Palace of the Legion of Honor, which had some strange symbolist print exhibit — honestly quite a bit like Edward Gorey only apparently serious. It was more interesting than I expected mostly because it was so odd. But it’s a nice museum because it’s so small, and also in a great spot near the ocean. So we left the museum and walked along the cliffs to the Sutro Baths and back. Then we went out to eat, and home for cake. We contemplated a bonfire, but in the end didn’t have one. Maybe next weekend. On Sunday, my brother came over and helped me garden. It was a huge favor, actually — he’s a professional. It looks pretty good now. (Well, as good an a garden wilderness can look, that is.) (Pretty good, honestly.)

So that was nice.

Let the summer begin.


M is heading to the beach today. She has been consumed with teenaged grumpiness lately — her friends are driving her crazy; all she seems to want to do is stay in her room and read; I try to bring up colleges she should look at and she refuses. Today, they had decided to go to the beach. I’d helped her research how to get there, and now they’ve decided to go to another beach. And first they are meeting at the house of the friend who is furthest from the train and walking to the train from there. I have a feeling it is this same friend who changed the beach.

My personal feeling is that she needs to go to college and meet some new friends. And while I will be quite sad to have her go away, I think it is definitely time. She is ready.

Otherwise, no particular news.

Edited to add: I just looked it up — there’s no way to get to the second beach without taking the train and two buses, requiring all kinds of strange amounts of exact change. Oh well. In all likelihood it will all go fine and be a learning experience.

I just wish she wouldn’t be so grumpy with us. We are much nicer than her stupid friends are. Poor M. Anyway. It’s sort of a rotten day. There you have it. She needs to go to a very small college where all the kids are nice. That’s the end of it.

Burning issues of the day

  • I wish I could get a new slipcover for the couch. I’ve found a really cute one.
  • It’s fun having N at work. Odd, but fun.
  • We’re having a party for K’s and my birthday. I know it will be fun, but at the moment it feels like my actual birthday is going to be ruined by making plans for the stupid party. Bah
  • Part of it is that K wishes we had a garden full of tidy plants isolated by mulch. This is very much exactly what we don’t have. I hate tidy plants isolated by mulch. I think even more what he’d like is a huge concrete slab screened in so no bug could approach.
  • It’s possible I’m not being fair.
  • This is my blog, though.
  • Which reminds me of another thing. I see the appeal of West Wing. Through all those dark years of the Bush presidency, there was this other presidency, where good didn’t always triumph, but at least there was a moral code. It is very satisfying to make up a reality that doesn’t have to include things you hate.
  • Okay, I think I’m going to have to incorporate some of my fantasy reality into actual reality and not spend my entire birthday weekend fretting.
  • Here are things that will be good.

Summer activities


Nothing much to report, except that the garden looks good, the house is full of flowers and I finally washed the kitchen floor, and deep-cleaned the kitchen, by which I mean I moved the toaster and cleaned behind it.

Is it pathetic that this feels like a great accomplishment?

Actually, I think not.

I stayed up too late watching West Wing and The Wire with N and Miss Marple with M. Oh, and we all watched My family and other animals which is actually very entertaining. As you would expect from the book.

Two batches of cookies were made. Parties were attended. I found some hydrangeas blooming in some grass in the front yard.

That’s about it . . .

Trimming catmint

Someone found this site by googling “when can catmint be trimmed.” I think (this is what I do, and it seems to work fairly well) you wait until it has mostly all bloomed, and then you trim it all back. It should bloom again.

Some varieties seem to get scragglier than others. Just cut it back when it starts looking scraggly.

You’re welcome —