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August 2023 Update: Full Speed Toward Fall

Updated: Mar 21

August, why are you in such a hurry?

Coming out of July, I was about ready for the unbearable heat to end with the changing of seasons, but now that it's somewhat dissipated, I find that I'm not so eager to say goodbye to summer anymore.

This month, my world was centered at home, puttering around the garden and making pottery in the basement, with two date-nights sprinkled into the mix. I even spent more time working from home, as the in-office requirement relaxed a bit with all of the holidays folks are taking. It's been lovely to set up right next to a window in the living room, where Huxley and Fitz often keep me company by hopping onto the nearby table that we set up for them to lie on with a view of the street. Sometimes it's cool enough to open the window and I get to feel the breeze while responding to emails or taking meetings, sitting in lotus position on my side chair, always with a (lukewarm) mug of something by my side.

Found object collection at the playground

We are closing August with extra family togetherness. Due to daycare holidays and intermittent grandparent unavailability, Jasper sometimes stays at home while we both do our best to work remotely, resulting in exhausting and intense days but also a sense of accomplishment after we've made it to bed-time.

I set up Jasper's little folding desk next to my work station so that he can color and play next to me. Already, he's become better at understanding that he isn't able to have my attention on demand when I'm working. Those days can be tough but part of me appreciates the opportunity to spend time that I wouldn't normally get with him.

These shakeups in our routines have made life interesting lately - they've also made me crave more structure in my free time so that I can attend to the parts of me that are just for me: reading and making mostly. I try to make time for action when I can, and make plans and lists when I can't. More on that below.

Late Summer

One of the best times of year, slow and golden, deliciously melancholy: late summer. In preparation for fall, I've ordered the tulip bulbs for November planting, Jazzy's costume for Halloween, and even my first denim jacket since high school. Now, for the next three weeks, I'll endeavor to make the most of the end of summer. I'll continue to keep our kitchen well stocked with fresh tomatoes, watermelon, and coconut water. I've made reservations for a date night on a Brooklyn rooftop. I've even allowed myself the daily luxury of applying the fancy lotion whose scent the manufacturer describes as "crossing a grove of wild fig trees during a summer in Greece" (because what am I saving it for?).

Although summer Fridays end this month, there are three more weeks of daily iced coffee, peaches and nectarines, shorts and tank tops, swipes of sunscreen, mosquito swatting, sunlit evenings, and freshly ripened strawberries to enjoy.

Pottery Update

I've picked up the pace this month, motivated anew after devising a way to set production goals for next year that made me curious to see how much I could accomplish through the end of 2023, which is still months away. It's a system I'm trying to implement that can help me keep an eye on the bigger picture of Mammoth & minnow through the changing seasons of life.

Part of what sparked this change is that I realized that I cannot set sales goals without having the inventory to support it. Because made-to-order will only attract the customer who is willing/able to wait, I'm missing out on those who need gifts quickly or those who simply don't want to sit around for weeks while their items are finished. I've now set goals for what I want to have in stock, and all the time I've been spending with clay has also resulted in space to create new designs as well.

This means that my next shop update in the fall will be the most voluminous and varied thus far this year. I'm excited as well as encouraged to see that this system is already beginning to yield results.

In the Garden

The zinnia plants in our backyard have been impressive, producing so many blooms so quickly and growing tall and lush in the process. My baby watermelon continues to grow, and I'm hoping I'll know when it's time to pick it off the vine. For next year, I want to triple the strawberry plants (at least), as our sole potted one has consistently produced shiny, sweet berries and I'd like more of them more often.

My biggest garden win this year, however, is having Jasper call my cut flower arrangements "beautiful" and "gorgeous" throughout the season. He's become so used to fresh flowers in the house that one morning, when I'd moved the vases from their regular spots for cleaning, he exclaimed "Oh no! No flowers!" (pronounced "fow-ters" until very recently).

Already it's time to look ahead to next year. I've jotted down a wishlist and snapped pictures of the parts of the yard I'd like to fill in. I'll begin planning in earnest in January/February, during that post-holiday time when the earth is quiet and I'm in need of a remind that winter does, in fact, end.

Favorites of Late

There's a bakery near Jasper's daycare that makes amazing palmiers (one of my favorite pastries) that we recently discovered also makes an iced americano for $3.50 - a price that's practically unheard of around here. Kev and I will stop there after drop-off a couple of times a week and treat ourselves to breakfast.

Tomato salad has been a go-to snack all summer long. It's so easy and tangy and I can't stop making it: sliced tomatoes, olive oil, red wine vinegar, flaky sea salt, and crumbled feta.

My current books are Lessons on Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus and Joie: A Parisian's Guide to Celebrating the Good Life by Ajiri Aki. One for trip to the 60's, the other for a pictures and stories about Paris.

Wicker baskets have been very helpful to me this summer. I have two that I use when harvesting things from the garden. I'd always enjoyed the rustic feel they bring to the home, but I love that they've become useful objects now as well.

Errands feel a little more like adventures when we bring Jasper along. He often comes grocery shopping with us. On Tuesday, he helped me mail out a couple of packages at the post office, and I'll be bringing him to the library tomorrow to return a batch of books and pick new ones to bring home.

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